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Cash Lambert: Homeless By Choice, Surf Therapy & Becoming An Author

Welcome to a very special edition of the Get WealthFit show, as you know, where it’s my job to get inside the heads of top money-makers and investors and entrepreneurs… and reveal the mindset... the moves… and the mistakes that have ultimately created their success... so that you can replicate the good… and avoid the bad, in your own life.

I’m your host Dustin Mathews and we’re here today in WealthFit studios with an incredibly special guest.

In fact, you may have seen his work in ESPN Outdoors, Surfing Magazine, the Outdoor Channel, Flux, The Atlantic Current & many others.

He is the author of Waves of Healing:  How Surfing Changes the Lives of Children with Autism.. which has been featured by the Chinese Global Television Network, World Surf League, The Adventure Sports Network, Tampa Bay Times, Autism Parenting Magazine and more… and is available internationally in bookstores around the world, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, WalMart, Target, Books a Million and your favorite airport bookstore Hudson Booksellers.

He is the former editor of Hawaii’s Freesurf Magazine.  The Managing Editor here at WealthFit.  And resides on Oahu’s coveted North Shore.  

He is Mr. Cash Lambert.

Welcome to the show.

Cash
Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.
Dustin
When you say the name Cash, immediately off the bat, it's almost like predestined that I have to start by asking what's the story behind your name Cash?
Cash
I definitely get a few nicknames when I meet people, but the story is this. My parents simply liked the name Cash when they're looking for baby names. I grew up in Arkansas where country music is prevalent. Johnny Cash is a name that is famous. The fact that they liked the name and they grew up around Johnny Cash's music, it worked.
Dustin
I'm curious because there's the name Cash, but as my parents told me there were a couple of names they were kicking around. Did you know like Moolah, Dinero, even Wealth did not make the cut? What were the second names? Do you know?
Cash
I'm not sure if there were second names. I think they thought of Cash and they liked it.
Dustin
Cash, you were in Salt Lake City where your wallet and your phone were taken from you and you essentially were homeless. No money, no food, no place to sleep. I have to imagine that's a little scary. What's the story here?
Cash
It was a character-building trip, it’s what we called it. I went with a group of about six other men and we flew from Oahu to Salt Lake City and the goal there was to be homeless for a week. That could mean a range of things for us. We gave up our wallets, we gave up our cell phones, we had IDs on us and that was about it. We had a backpack and a sleeping bag. We arrived with no schedule and no specific plans. We said, “Let's see what happens.” We spent a week in and out of homeless shelters, sleeping on the streets, spending time with people who otherwise you would just walk by quickly on your way to work. It was one of the most pivotal weeks of my life, the stories that I got out of that week. The whole week was geared around slowing down and we had no phones, no wallets, nothing like that. It was focused on slowing down and having personal conversations with people you meet on the streets. We spent most of our time with homeless people, with people who are experiencing challenges and listening to their stories. Listening to what they've gone through and what they’re currently going through.
What I learned was that the average person is not that far away from being homeless. Many of the homeless people that we met were victims of one tragedy and that was it. They were trying to get back on their feet. It was a hard week, but it was certainly rewarding. We didn't get to sleep in a nice bed. Instead, we were in homeless shelters and on the streets and trying to run away from sprinklers because the sprinklers would come on and kick us off certain areas of the grass. I recommend that everyone does something like that where they get out of their comfort zone. For a week, you're completely uncomfortable but there is much growth that happens and you learn much. As you look back on life, those are the weeks that you will remember.
Dustin
Before we get in, I want to talk about your decision to do it. You see this, someone introduces this, you read about this. How did you come to a decision like, “I'm going to do it?” Were you half-dragging your feet going into this thing?
Cash
Initially, it wasn't something that I was excited to do. As you could imagine, it wasn't a Caribbean cruise where you're looking forward to it packing. I'd heard about it. As it grew closer, I was aware of it. I felt like I was responsible for it. I knew in the back of my mind I couldn't say no to this because I knew that it would be a challenge of not showering and eating and sleeping with the homeless population, it would be difficult. I knew that I would have many stories from it. I want to make many good relationships. All that came true. I knew that I was going to have to do it. Although I was a little bit nervous on the plane going there, it was certainly rewarding.
Dustin
Was there any prep?
Cash
There was absolutely no prep besides packing a backpack with a sleeping bag, a little bit of first aid and a journal. That was it.
Dustin
Is it one set of clothes?
Cash
I brought maybe 2 or 3 and ended up wearing one set the whole time because we didn't have showers or anything like that. It’s a little gross to talk about, but I recommend that everyone does something like that in their lives.
Dustin
Let's go to the moment you're there. Because you’re signing up, you're nervous, you're there. They take it away. You got your backpack, there's no agenda. What the heck's going through your head? Did you guys band together and say, “Let's come up with the game plan. Let's go see this part of the city?” What goes through your head when you realized this is real and it's the start?
Cash
When I landed, it hit me. I said, “I'm officially homeless.” What we did was we landed and we went straight to a homeless center and made some connections. After that, we walked around the city and we would step in until probably about 11:00 PM or midnight hanging out on park benches. It's funny, when we first landed, the leader of our group was leading us towards the homeless shelter. We see a homeless man with a sign that says in need of money. We walk up to him and the homeless man says to our leader, “Do you guys have any money?” Our leader says, “No, but do you know where a good place to sleep is? Because we're homeless too.” There were a lot of those interactions where we're walking and we see someone who's homeless and they say, “Do you have any money or food?” We say, “We're just like you.” They laughed at us for a second and then realized, “They’re being serious. They have backpacks. They smell too.” We ended up striking up conversations with them and hearing their stories.
The thing is most of them are trying to get back on their feet. For me, before the trip, I'm always in a go mode, always going fast. I would look at a homeless person, a person in need. I would say, “That must be challenging.” I’ll give them whatever I can and be on my way. Most of them only were victims of a tragedy and they're all trying to get back up on their feet. The fact that we slowed down and heard people's stories, that's one of the biggest things I took away from it as well after the trip and getting back into my workgroup was hearing people's stories and hearing what they go through. It changed my perspective and it continues to do so. That's one of my focuses throughout the week is slow down and every once in awhile I’ll talk to someone, whether it's at Starbucks or in line next to you. You'll be surprised who you meet and more importantly, you'll be inspired by who you meet.
Dustin
Cash, it's easy to point out some homeless people in need as you say. Point to the ones that got caught up in drugs. You said that some of these homeless are just like us. They're similar. They just had a bad circumstance. For the ones that are in that scenario, what were some of their stories? What made them have to hit the street? How are they trying to get back?
Cash
There's one specific story I haven't shared with many people because it can be a bit emotional for me to tell. It was 11:00 PM and we were on some park benches and at that point we had a long day. We were about to leave the park benches and go try to find a nice slab of concrete or some grass to sleep on. We see this man walking towards us and you can immediately tell that he's on drugs. He's walking closer to us. My first instinct in that situation was the anxiety of it's something personal or a bad situation on this person. Our group leader calls him over and says, “Come here. We want to talk to you.” I'm thinking, “Here we go.” He sits down and it's obvious that he had an hour before done some heavy drugs. We’re talking to him and he's trying to have a conversation with us battling the effects of drugs. It absolutely broke my heart, Dustin. The man was 26 years old. His mother had died when he was young, his father didn’t want that much to do with him. He didn't have anywhere to go. He found friends that put him in the wrong situation.
One thing led to another and all of a sudden, he was on the streets and he wanted so badly to get away from it. I looked in his eyes. That same week was his birthday. He said he hadn't had a birthday party since he could remember. Typically, I walk away from situations like this. I don't want to get myself or the people I'm with in danger. I'm hearing this man’s story and I'm absolutely shocked by it. Fast forward to the next day and we're eating lunch at a homeless shelter along with a large homeless population. Here he comes walking in. We see him. My group was ecstatic to see him. “How are you doing?” He looks like he's come down from his drug episode. We can tell he's got back from the hospital. He has the hospital regalia on. We say, “What happened?” We come to find out about an hour after we finished talking with him and trying to give him hope and inspire him. He had OD’d and he went to the hospital and then he got out of the hospital and then he was eating lunch with us. Fast forward a little bit, a couple of days later, we promise him that we will get him a birthday cake if he shows up to meet us at a cafe at the end of our trip on a Friday. We're there from a Friday to a Friday and we get our wallets back on that Friday, our phones back.
We go and get a massive birthday cake. We invited a lot of other homeless people that we met throughout the week to come to eat with us and have a Thanksgiving. I took the role of waiting for this man outside of the restaurant so that when he walked by, I could come in and say, “Walk in and here's the birthday cake.” We asked him to be there at 1:00. When we saw him previous days, we said, “Don't forget 1:00, be there.” He said, “I can't wait.” At first, he didn't believe us. He said, “Don't get my hopes up.” We said, “We’re going to get your birthday cake.” He had this big birthday cake waiting for him. I set out. 1:00 came, 1:15 came, 1:30 came, 2:00 came and he never showed up. It saddened me.
Fast forward a couple of days and there was a man and a woman who had been with our group that had come in and said hi to us when we first got there then left. I was talking to them about how I was sad about the situation, how we met this man who was certainly in drugs and then we're going to give him a birthday party. It didn't pan out because he didn't show up for one reason or the other. The woman said, “Did he look like this and did he have a build like this and was this his name?” I said, “Yes. How do you know him? There's no way you know him.” She said, “I think I do.” I said, “How could you know this random man?”
She said, “The first day when you guys got here, we were walking around looking for you,” because we didn't have cell phones so they couldn't contact us. They were looking for us around Salt Lake City. We saw this man asking for money. I spent a little bit of time with him and talking to him felt like it was my job to talk to him, inspire him, pray for him, see what I can do. I hope that he would connect with you guys at some point. I thought the story was over when he didn't show up at the café. I come to find out there were greater things happening that I couldn't even imagine. I told that story, which I haven't told before, to say that there are people out there who have stories and it's such a cliché, but don't judge a book by its cover.
I typically would have walked away if I had friends or family with me. I would have brushed them to the side. Now if I'm by myself and I know it's going to be a safe situation and I'm not going to be in danger. I’ll wave and say, “Do you have a second? I'd love to talk to you to hear your story.” To see if I can sow one seed of hope, one seed of inspiration, because a lot of people have inspired me on my journey and I remember every second of that. That was the biggest takeaway from my homeless adventure. The group I went with was a group with an organization called Surfing the Nations. They're based in Hawaii. If you want to do an event like this or anything, look up a Surfing the Nations online. They do a ton of outreaches to Indonesia, they do this homeless outreach, a ton of outreaches in Hawaii, as well as other parts of the world.
Dustin
You said to judge a book by its cover. It's funny because where I want to go next is into the sports world, but I want to take us back to the college days. You graduated Palm Beach Atlantic where that's part of the wealthiest parts of the country. Bentleys and BMWs are all around. When you say judge a book by its cover, here you are in this homeless environment, now one of the wealthiest environments. I would like to talk about one of your first opportunities and that's with the Miami Dolphins. How does a kid go to school in Palm Beach from Arkansas and end up working with the Miami Dolphins?
Cash
I had a friend who at the time was working for the Dolphins in their corporate office and he alerted me to that they were hiring for a position called a Game Day Press Box Assistant. I applied, put a lot of work into the application process and was hired. The backstory of that is I love and breathe NFL. I am the biggest football fanatic that you'll ever meet, football history, etc. You could imagine when I was in the interview process. I'm shaking for a prestigious organization like the Miami Dolphins. I get the job and they send me a packet that includes a Miami Dolphins polo to wear on the game days. I open this envelope and it has all these Miami Dolphin tickets that are in my hands. I'm thinking, “This is an absolute dream.” My role with the Miami Dolphins was on game day only at the home game. It was eight games throughout that year. The year was 2015. My role is to be in the press box and to assist all the press that came in for the games, whether there were local, national, international. That looked like a couple of tasks. The most exciting task was at the end of each game, I was given the duty to go into the locker room and my boss with the Dolphins directs me which locker I was to go into. I had to interview about 3 or 4 professional players. I would interview them. I would then transcribe the interviews. They had this little itty-bitty room in the guts of the stadium.
We would have multiple other people doing the same job. I would transcribe as quickly as I could. We would then use those transcriptions to give to the media so they can include that within their stories, their articles. My first experience with this. It was a pre-season game. Pre-season games in NFL are not that big situations, but it was a big situation for me because the Dolphins were playing the Dallas Cowboys. They’re from Arkansas. I’ve been a major Dallas Cowboys fans. I love the Cowboys. I absolutely love them. I'm hoping and praying, saying, “Please let me go into the Dallas Cowboys locker room instead of the Dolphins locker room.” It was a pre-season game; I forget who won. My boss says, “Cash, I want you to go into the Dallas Cowboys locker room. I want you to interview Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.” Those are the three all-stars for the Dallas Cowboys who have since moved on.
At the time they were the stars of the Cowboys and of the league. I started shaking and I have a background in journalism. I went to school for journalism and public relations. I'd written for a bevy of magazines. I'd done my first national interviews when I was a sophomore in high school. I knew how to do an interview. I know how to do it, but I didn't know how to interview an NFL player in the locker room. I got into the locker. I'm excited and I walk in and the doors open. The entire Dallas Cowboys team is in front of me. I walk in, I look. Tony Romo had already dressed and left, so I didn't have an opportunity to get to him. Jason Witten had dressed and left, so I didn't have an opportunity to get him either. I was a bit upset about that. I look in the corner and there was Dez Bryant, this famous wide receiver for football. He's putting on his shirt, putting cologne on. He's completely by himself. I walk up to him and I will never forget, I say, “Excuse me, Mr. Bryant. I'm Cash. Can I give you a quick interview?”
The whole point of interviewing is never to ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no. You want to ask questions that can continue the conversation. What do I do? I ask questions that give an answer of yes and no and I'm shaking because I can't believe I'm standing in front of this NFL star. I was absolutely starstruck and I’ve never been starstruck in my life. He was gentle and nice and gave me a ton of information. Throughout the year, I interviewed a ton of other people. I stood next to Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, these absolute legends. One of my biggest takeaways from that whole experience was this. There was one game of the Dolphins that season and the majority of seasons have been struggling. Their quarterback at the time was a man by the name of Ryan Tannehill. All season, the media, the newspapers, people were calling for him to be benched, for the organization to move on from him. It might have been week 9 or 10, they asked me to go interview some players in the Dolphins locker room.
I go into the locker room and Dan Marino walks by me first, who's the NFL legend. I was starstruck by that. I look in the corner and I see Ryan Tannehill’s back to me, this big professional football player that everyone's absolutely destroying in the media landscape. I see him take off his pads and he has this massive black and blue bruise all over his shoulder. You can see him wincing as he takes it off. At that moment I said, “These are just humans. These are just guys.” From then on, I’ve never been that big of a critic of other professional athletes because I can't imagine the stress that they go through. A lot of people, a lot of fans stay in the stadiums and don't see things like that. That was a big lesson that these players and the people on stage and the people we look up to, they're just people. Ever since then I’ve been a lot nicer when I talk about them on social media. It was an absolute dream to work for the Dolphins and I couldn't believe that I was there. It's a testament to if you want something, do everything you absolutely can to get it. The chances are that it'll work out.
Dustin
The Dolphins are not doing great. There's no team in Hawaii. Do you cheer for the Hawaii Rainbows?
Cash
I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan at heart, I continue to root for them throughout the season. I hope for the best. It's tough being a football fan.
Dustin
You're a surfer. You come from the surf community. I imagine living in Arkansas, that's a big problem. You moved to Florida. Is that where you picked up surfing?
Cash
One of the biggest blessings you can give if you're a parent to your kid is showing them the world. That's what my parents did for me. When I was younger, my parents took me all over the world on vacations and one of the places we went to was Hawaii. When you visit Hawaii, surfing is big there. I learned to surf there at a young age. I learned to surf there, I went back to Arkansas and finished high school. When I finished high school, I wanted to attend somewhere near the ocean and South Florida and Palm Beach ended up working out.
Dustin
Were there other schools that you were eyeing along the coast?
Cash
It was only coastal schools. Those are the only schools that are on my list. I wanted to be within a good journalism program that was okay for me. It ended up working out. The Palm Beach Atlantic University is where I attended. Their marketing is simple. It's easy. They're less than a mile from the beach, their marketing is done for them. Once I heard that, I was pretty much sold.
Dustin
They have a sailfish as a mascot. It should be a surfer, but not as gripping as the sailfish. Let's talk about the book Waves of Healing. I often find when people write books, when they put out one of their first books or any of the books, there's always a story behind the story of the book itself. I'm curious what prompted you to say, “I’ve been writing articles and writing for publications. Now I want to write a book, but I want to write about surfing and my experiences.” What's that story?
Cash
This book started when I was attending college in order to graduate on time, I had to get a certain number of volunteer hours per year. I'm a college student. I have to get these volunteer hours. I wasn't that excited about it. I said, “Volunteering? I don't know if I have time for that. I'm in college, I'm taking classes, I'm writing freelance articles for magazines. I want to spend time with my friends. I want to surf.” Volunteering wasn't a priority for me at that time. I looked at some of the ways I could volunteer and get these hours and I found something called surf therapy programs. I said, “I like surfing. I can go and do this and this will probably be the least painful way to get my volunteer hours.” I went to my first surf therapy volunteer event and that was in 2010 and it absolutely changed my life. I went to the beach and there were children with special needs, namely autism, surfing. There's a lot more going on. I helped a few children surf and then on the beach I talked to parents and I heard stories. I heard stories like this.
I surfed with a boy and his name was Lucas. He was 13 or 14 at the time. I would push him on waves and he would pop up, stand up on a wave, ride it perfectly to shore, perfect muscle memory, just a good surfer. I talked to the mother afterward and I said, “Lucas is a phenomenal surfer.” She said, “You don't know what he's been through. You don't know his story.” I said, “What's his story?” She said, “When he was two, he was diagnosed with autism and the doctors told me he would not be able to retain an education. More so than that, it would get worse.” Here he is a couple of years later, and I'm saying, “Stand up,” and he's perfectly standing. I said, “How does he go from being told by doctors that he's going to have a lot of challenges to being such a good surfer?” Talking to him, talking about his favorite Disney movies, she said, “While, it's been a lot of homework, a lot of therapies, but surfing's made an impact.”
I would continue to go to these surf therapy events. I met another family and I met up some parents of a girl named Abigail. Abigail at the time was ten years old. She was diagnosed with infantile autism, meaning that according to her father, at that time she had a cognitive level of a one-year-old. The dad said, “Cash, we've tried a lot of therapies and there hadn’t been a ton of progress with the therapist as we would like to see as parents.” When she's on land, she certainly has struggles. When she gets in the water, when she gets on the beach, everything changes. She loves to get in the water. I said, “What's going on here? Something's happening.” I met another family and there's a ton of families on the beach at these surf therapy events.
I met a third family and they had two twin boys with autism and the father said, “Cash, surfing has been therapeutic for my boys.” The twins were about at that time 9 or 10 years old as well. He said, “Cash, this has been therapeutic for my twin boys, but more so they have an identity. They love to identify as surfers. They have accomplishments that they look forward to going to the beach. They have friends.” I said, “Something profound is happening right here and no one is talking about it.” I continue to go to these surf therapy events. I began to write articles about it, about how life-changing and therapeutic surfing was. There was no copay required for this. I wrote more and more articles and then something else happened. I realized there was more to the story that I was telling. With articles, with magazines and newspapers, you can probably write about 1,000 words and most others cap it at that. I had 2,000, 3,000 more words to say.
There were many profound stories. I said, “Someone should write a book about this.” I saw the void. What happens in any industry when you see a void? You fill it. You seek to fill it and to be that change. I said, “I feel responsible for this, I'm going to take it upon myself and do it.” At that time, I had no idea how to write a book. You don't wake up one day and write a book. I gave myself about a three-year plan. A goal without a plan is just a wish. The plan for my goal of writing the book was the first year I spent researching. I started researching autism, researching surf therapy and researching how to write a book.
What's the best way to do it? What does this style in which I want to do it? The second year was spent writing the book and the third year was spent finding a publisher. The book itself profiles eight families throughout the course of 3 to 4 years and examines with each family how surfing has been therapeutic for their children with autism, how it's absolutely transformed their lives. There were a couple of other elements to the book that I didn't expect to find out when I started the project. I expected to find out how surfing was therapeutic for children with autism and I did in many ways than one. I also had instances where parents came up to me and they said, “Cash, these events are therapeutic, not just for my son or daughter. These events are therapeutic for me.” I said, “How?”
They said, “For the first time, I have support. I have a community network. I have people who know exactly what I'm going through, who know exactly what I need to here. They've become my best friends.” I met other volunteers and they said, “Cash, because I’ve been tremendously impacted by surfing with children with special needs and autism. I'm going to be pursuing higher education in this. I'm going to be pursuing higher education in therapies, etc.” It was an absolutely transformative experience on more levels than one. Once I found all that out, I said, “There is a story on many levels that has to be told.” That's why I wrote Waves of Healing: How Surfing Changed the Lives of Children with Autism. It’s been absolutely amazing and humbling to hear the reaction from people coming up to me saying, “I had no idea that surf therapy existed. I'm going to try.”
There are many organizations you can try it with. Whether you live in Florida, California, they're international. There are many other organizations that are in Australia, etc. It's been amazing to see the response to it. The biggest thing with it, I saw how it changed the lives of children, of parents, of volunteers. It's also had a big effect on my life of being able to go to the beach and to push kids into waves. The reality is that when you first go to one of these events, you think that you're giving to someone and they're going to get a ton out of it. The reality is that I think I got more out of it than they might even have. One of the biggest things I talked about in the book was that after each event, I had this odd pain in my face and my cheeks. My cheek hurt tremendously. They were sore. It was after every event that I went to. I didn't understand what the issue was until it finally dawned on me. Literally, I was smiling so much that my mouth was getting sore about it.
Dustin
What do you think it is? You said there are many different types of therapies out there, many parents coming to you saying, “We're not seeing the results.” What do you think it is about surfing?
Cash
That's definitely a great question. That's something that a lot of our researchers and scientists are continuing to explore. I'm not a researcher. I'm not a scientist. I can't provide specific details. I'm a storyteller by heart. The reality is that there's something about water. There is something about water with us as humans that is therapeutic, that is healing. Whenever I get in the water to surf, after I get out, I feel better. It's not just with the ocean. A lot of people say, “You wrote this book about surfing. It can also be therapeutic in other areas.” Absolutely, pools, lakes, rivers. Some of the events that I went to while writing this book, there were no waves and we tend to kids on paddleboards. The second we got a kid in the water, the boy or girl was calmer, more relaxed. Something changed.
There were a lot of instances where on the beach, the way most surf organizations would operate is that you'll have a line of volunteers and a lot of participants. There'll be someone who will be the middleman to connect you. Some participants will be nervous. I would be nervous if I was about to go into an ocean and surf with a group of strangers. I would certainly be nervous. A lot of participants will absolutely have a traumatic experience trying to get in the water. They will be yelling and crying and sand will be going north, south, east, and west. When that happens, and I’ve seen this every single time, the volunteers do not run away from that. They run towards that. They say, “We're going to help this kid.” They get them in the water and I can't remember a time when this didn't happen. The sound of the cries and the yells and the pain, it's gone.
You look and you see the boy or girl and they maybe surfing, maybe hang out on a surfboard. Something changes. There's a lot of research that's being done about why, from an analytical standpoint, a statistical standpoint about how this is changing children with autism and special needs. I'm not the one to provide those stats. The other thing too is that it's not just autism. There’s a ton of surf therapy organizations that are taking out veterans who have challenges, PTSD, things like that. They're taking out children with an extreme poverty situation. I'm talking about autism, but surf therapy is not just autism. It encompasses a bevy of challenges. Regardless of what that challenge is, when someone gets out of the water, something in some way is different.
Dustin
Cash, we have a lot of entrepreneurs reading this and maybe people that want to start a charity, a book is a great way to do it. It'd be easy to say, “Cash, he worked for the Dolphins. He got relationships. He went to Palm Beach. He's a journalism major. He wrote for all these things,” but my understanding is people weren't knocking at your door to publish your book. What's the story behind that third year and getting this thing out into the world?
Cash
Writing a book is hard. Getting a book published is harder. The process for me was constantly pitching agents and publishers in this book.
Dustin
Self-publish is an option for people. Why didn't you go the self-publishing route? That would have been easier.
Cash
The reason being was that I wanted to hook up with a publisher who had tremendous national and international credibility. Credibility in my eyes at this stage of my life was more important than money. That's why I went with a traditional publisher and the publisher’s Hadley Press and the book is distributed by Penguin Random House. It is international. In the book publishing process, a lot of people get dismayed by rejections or by getting rejected. I sent out tons and tons of proposals. What I learned was that rejection of not saying, “This is bad. We didn't like it.” In the book publishing world, there's a lot of intricacies to it and the reasons someone may reject your book, reject your proposal maybe because it was the wrong timing. That publisher may already have their books for the next couple of years and their catalog is set. They may not have any budget for it.
There are a lot of different elements that play behind the scenes as to why rejections happen. That's what I tell people who come to me and say, “How did you deal with the rejections and things like that?” I say, “I never took it personally. I used it as motivation to keep finding the right one.” Eventually, I did. There's was a funny story behind how I found my publisher. I had sent out many proposals, meticulous, carefully written. I majored in journalism. I know how important everything is with grammatical and taking care of the directions that they give you in the proposal. I was running at one proposal to this publisher and I was halfway through the email and I accidentally hit enter instead of shift enter. I meant to space it out and it went out and I couldn't get it back. I said, “I can't believe I did that.” It was a complete mistake. I kicked myself about it for a day or two. I get an email on a phone call from these people who received my terrible email and they called me. The first thing I'd say was, “I'm so sorry about the email. I accidentally hit shift, enter.” They said, “Don't worry about it. We love the idea. We absolutely love it.”
It was Hadley Press. There were amazing people that work there. It was a lesson for me that when a publisher likes the idea, they're going to buy into it. When you're sending out proposals, it's okay if you have a typo or two, just try your best not to do what I did in that situation. Always remember it’s shift enter, not enter. It was a process. What made me a big fan of it was I enjoyed the process. I love the process of constantly refining my proposals. My first proposal was in no way as good as my last one. For me, it was the process and with anything, not just with books. With any career that you're in, you have to love the process, not just the outcome. My true belief and feeling are the true reward is the process. That's when you get to that destination, you look back and you say, “What a tremendous ride it's truly been.”
Dustin
Your book had been picked up in multiple places. One of those was the Chinese Global Television Network. What's the story behind that? How does that happen?
Cash
Every year there was a World Autism Day and on that day many outlets are constantly looking for ways to talk about autism, to bring awareness to this. The CDC currently says that the prevalence of autism is 1 in 59 worldwide. That is a tremendous amount of people, certainly. They reached out to me and said, “We heard about your book Waves of Healing. We think it is unique and interesting and we want to interview you.” They prepped me a little bit and I went on their air and talked about the book and it was a tremendous experience. They were located in DC. I'm located in Hawaii, so we need to do a Skype interview. It was an interesting experience to be facing my computer, talking to them on Skype and doing an interview on Skype and they're far away. I could hear voices in the background from their production manager. There are all these other people watching it. I'm in a room by myself and I can't see anything. It was fun. It was a tremendous experience and I was grateful that they brought me onto the show.
Dustin
Did they make you get up at 3:00 AM?
Cash
They didn’t. When they contacted me, they said, “We understand the time change. We understand that you're 6 hours behind with the daylight savings time.” They were great about that. It was an overall wonderful experience. I'm grateful that media outlets and organizations like them, there's been many others, have reached out and have featured that book, more so featured these stories book. This book is not about me. It's not about my life whatsoever. It's about me experiencing how other people's lives are being transformed, impacted, completely altered by surfing, of all things. It's been amazing to see them love these stories and for them to love the concept of surf therapy and to continue to spread the word. Because many people I spoke with at the surf therapy events said, “Cash, I was done. I tried a lot of surf therapies.” I'm not dismissing any other therapies at all. They're all wonderful, but for some reason, some things were better than others. Many parents said, “Cash, we tried everything and I was about to give up hope. I couldn't find that much help that we were looking for and then I went to the beach. Ever since then I’ve become part of this surfing community. I have best friends. We're all surfers.” That changed their lives.
Dustin
I’m curious to know, is there another book inside you?
Cash
There certainly is. I'm working on two books and in my free time. One is a memoir for someone else. I also do ghostwriting on the side. Another one is a nonfiction book. I love writing books. I had the expectation that once I wrote one nonfiction book, I would be done for a few years. I would say, “I’ve had my fill and this got published.” It almost is an addicting experience. I'm sure there are other authors and book writers who can have that same feeling, but it was an addicting experience because I absolutely loved the process. I'm going through that process again on the side. It's exciting and I love it. Stay tuned to what comes out.
Dustin
Given your name, I want to talk about WealthFit. It almost seems destiny that you ended up at WealthFit. However, you're a surfer, you're from Arkansas. You were doing journalism writing for magazines. What attracted you to WealthFit to get behind the vision and the mission of WealthFit?
Cash
I'd heard about WealthFit.
Dustin
How did you hear about it?
Cash
It’s not much of a story. There was a pretty simple job interview and I looked up WealthFit before the job interview. I’d been working for a surf magazine previously, which is why I went to Hawaii in the first place. I was there for free surf for a couple of years, maybe 3 or 4 months. I wanted to pursue something else. I heard about WealthFit, looked at their mission, their vision, and it looked interesting. It looked cool. I met with one of the co-founders and founders of WealthFit, Andy Proper. It was essentially a job interview, but more so it was a conversation where we talked about WealthFit’s mission, the vision and how he wanted WealthFit to affect change in people's lives with financial literacy and increasing that. When he talked about the vision, I said, “I want to be on this train. I want to be on it.” Originally, I was working in social media with WealthFit. I loved that. I had a blast communicating with the people who interact with the brand. I'm the managing editor, I’m working with article production.
What that looks like is with articles we offer actionable and tactical financial information in the realms of money investing, lifestyle and entrepreneurship. The goal of my role and with our editorial team is to provide actionable advice that when someone reads an article, they can then go and use that article as a guide. The important thing to remember is that our articles at WealthFit.com are not financial recommendations. We're not telling anyone to go to do this, do that, invest this way or use your money this way. That's not how we operate. We're not getting affiliate links whatsoever. Our goal is to offer financial education. We offer a ton of guides to investing, to stock investing, to home buying. There's a gamut of things that we cover. The biggest thing for me has been being able to see people who read it come back to us and say, “It was informational and it was in-depth and it was everything I needed to hear that I could then use what I learned and put that into action.” The best thing about our articles is that they're free. All you have to do is go to WealthFit.com/money, /investing, /lifestyle, /entrepreneurship and you can begin your journey learning.
Dustin
There's so much to wealth creation, preservation. How do you pick the articles? I know there's an article that caught fire for us about credit lines and we'll cover leadership and then we'll get into budgeting strategies. How do you go about picking what we're putting out to the world?
Cash
There's certainly a process and we want to provide all the information to put in an entrepreneur’s briefcase or an investor's briefcase. The article process is certainly in-depth though we choose our articles wisely. A lot of websites these days focus on just SEO, which is Search Engine Optimization. Our goal at WealthFit is reader-focused content. We don't have a ton of worry about the SEO parameters. We want to put into all these SEO links on all these things. Our goal is reader-driven content. A lot of it comes from us wanting to arm the average investor, a person in leadership, for example, with all the information that they need to know.
Dustin
I’ve got to imagine your friends are saying, “You're sitting on the inside of WeathFit.” The world sees what we put out, podcasts, articles, courses, but there's always the inside of what's happening. Having been an insider here at WealthFit, what have you learned? What do you take away from everything that we do that maybe the outside world doesn't get to see?
Cash
The biggest thing about our office environment at WealthFit, and I'm based in the Hawaii location, is that we are constantly learning. I’ve never been in any work environment that is this learning-driven. If you would go to go to our office, we have books everywhere. I go into work every single day and the one guarantee I know besides the fact that I'm going to work hard is that I'm going to learn something. It's a wonderful office environment. We have a great culture. We have great lounging facilities. It's a relaxed environment. However, we're constantly learning and we have the gas pedal forward all the time. That's what I love about it because I look back on when I first started at WealthFit and my knowledge has increased. I don't even know if I can put a number on it because it's so much. That's why I love working here. I love being a part of that environment. I love our editorial team, our marketing team. They are absolute rock stars. They're all-stars. I love being a part of them and being in that learning process constantly with them.
Dustin
Everyone wants to see the future. Everyone wants to know what's coming. What's coming for WealthFit?
Cash
We have a lot of interesting things, a lot of fun things coming down the pipeline with article production. We love our articles. We are ecstatic about the articles that we have online, but more so we’re constantly refining. We're constantly pushing the envelope. I'm not going to talk about it now, but we have a lot of interesting articles coming out about money, investing, lifestyle, entrepreneurship. You have to stay tuned to our article. Look at our articles and guaranteed every single article you look at, there's going to be multiple takeaways that you have. I say that because that's my goal. That's our goal with our editorial team.
Dustin
I'm going to sneak in some personal questions. I may want to be, call it a closet surfer, not that I’ll go out there and do it in a wet suit or even in Hawaii when I come down to visit. Maybe I want to live through you. Is there any better surfing than on the North Shore?
Cash
There truly isn't. The North Shore is called the Mecca of Surfing. Here's how it works. Every winter, storms from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, Russia, they form and they freight train their way south down and the first place that those massive storms with this powerful energy hits are the North Shore of Oahu, which is exactly where I live. There are a lot of other elements at play, the reefs, the topography of the North Shore. The fact is there's no better surfing than on the North Shore of Hawaii. That's why I love it so much. Interestingly, every single winter season when the storms come, the entire surf world descends upon the 7-mile stretch that is called the North Shore. The summertime if you visit the North Shore, it is quiet and relaxed. It's flat and calm as a lake. You go there in the wintertime and there are many people from Australia, from California, from everywhere and internationally surfing these waves. The reality is that if you're a surfer, you're a pro surfer, you're trying to become a pro surfer or anything of that nature.
One wave on the North Shore, if someone photographs that or videos that and it's an incredible wave, it can make your career. That's why they call it the Mecca of Surfing. I don't know of any other environment, any other situation where an entire industry descends upon a seven-mile stretch for 3 or 4 months out of the year. If you haven't seen it, if you haven't been to the North Shore during winter time to see these incredible waves. When I say incredible waves, I'm talking about 20 to 30-foot massive barreling waves that are crisp and glassy and most of the surf breaks that are unique to Hawaii are fairly close to shore. You can sit from the sand and you can watch these surfers catch these incredible death-defying waves above the razor-sharp reef and you're so close to them, you can see their facial reactions as it's happening. As a spectator, it’s pretty much a sandy amphitheater. If you haven't attended the North Shore, because during that time there's also a litany of surf contests, it's an amazing environment. There's a lot of energy in the air. There's a lot of salt in the air coming from these powerful waves and these powerful storms. It's something unlike any other.
Dustin
I'm going to put you on record. What's the biggest wave you've surfed?
Cash
I get asked that frequently and I don't have an answer because when I'm surfing, I zone out and I forget what's around me. The stories that I always do tell is that the biggest danger is I’ve been in while surfing. I’ve always been doing what's called incoming swell. In Hawaii in the wintertime, there's usually incoming swell. They call it XL swell, it’s maybe 20 to 30-foot waves. We have forecasting now and they can predict when these swells are going to come in. In the wintertime, they come in multiple times per week. Often, I’ll see that a swell is coming in and there are maybe head high waves, for example, before that big swells coming in. I’ll go surf knowing that this monster swell is coming, freight training down from Russia at around maybe 3:00 PM.
I get in the water, maybe it's 9:00 AM. As with a forecast, things can change. Many times, I’ve been in the water and all of a sudden I'm either sitting or I surf a wave and I’ll look back and I see the entire group of surfers, which is called the lineup, absolutely booking it straight back towards the horizon. I'm thinking, “What's going on?” I look and I can see that the swell is coming in early. Waves can go from literally 2 to 3-foot to 10 to 15-foot within a matter of 10, 20 minutes. Pick any timeframe. I’ve been in a lot of situations like that where I’ve caught some big waves, some of my most fun waves, but it's also been a bit of a scary endeavor. I think probably the biggest wave I caught was at a break called Jockos on the North Shore. It's a bit of a sketchy wave in that it breaks. Maybe I would say 75 yards in front of it are these razor-sharp rocks, massive boulders sticking up. You're surfing and in your peripherals, you can see these rocks are getting closer.
The longer you're on the wave, the closer you are to these rocks. I remember catching a wave there and then looking up, because it was a close-up, meaning the entire wave was crashing at one time. I couldn't maneuver one way or the other. I looked up and it looked like a two-storey building was crashing on me. As I'm headed towards the rocks, I say, “This is going to be a story. I'm going to get a story out of this.” I ended up jumping off and getting back out. The thing about surfing I love is you always have a story when you come back in. It's such a raw and gnarly experience. I think that going back to the book, that's partly what makes surfing unique to these children, with these people with special needs and PTSD and other things like that. That surfing, it's an experience that you have to stay focused in the present moment. You cannot think about 5 minutes from now in the future or 5 minutes in the past. You are heavily focused on that one moment when that one wave is coming towards you and maneuvering and being careful and try not to fall and things like that.
I think that's partly why it can be therapeutic. There's one story I wanted to tell about how surfing is therapeutic with one of the families that I experienced. In the book I profile eight families how surfing transformed their lives over the course of four years. One of the families I spent time with was a mother named Michelle. This amazing, warm, such a wonderful mother and her son is named Nate. Nate was diagnosed with autism and he was also given the label nonverbal, meaning that he has challenges speaking and discussing how he feels. That could mean a litany of things from explaining what do you want to do during the day or even if they're at a restaurant, he has trouble saying, “I want this versus this.” I can imagine for a second how challenging it must be not to be able to communicate not only your feelings and your wants and desires, but something as simple as a food choice. It could be challenging. This story, interestingly enough, doesn't happen with a surfboard. I was with this family for the day spending time.
I talked to Michelle before. I said, “I want to spend time with you guys to see what therapy is like.” I went to therapy with them. Afterward, Michelle says, “Let's celebrate by going to the beach.” I, her and Nate go to the beach. Keep in mind, Nate, I’ve never heard him speak. He has a nonverbal label. He simply makes sounds. At that time, he's about 9 or 10 years old. He was making sounds with a collection of vowels and consonants. We'd go to the beach. The thing about Nate is that he has a future in track and cross country because he runs so fast. We're walking on the beach and I'm holding his right hand. Michelle's on the other side of him holding his left hand. We're walking on the beach. This is because there's a highway up near the beach, maybe 100, 150 yards away. We don't want to get in the situation where he might run towards it and we can’t catch him. With autism, there are other things you have to think about.
We're walking on the beach and all of a sudden we see a flock of seagulls ahead. I don't think much about it. Keep in mind, it's a beautiful day. The water's glassy blue. You can't even tell where the horizon is because the water and the sky were the same color. It’s beautiful baby blue and no cloud in the sky. We're walking, Nate sees the flock of seagulls and as a 9 or 10-year-old boy, he wants to chase after them. I wanted to do that. He starts pulling out our grip. I don't think much about it at the time. Michelle, at that exact moment, lets go of Nate's hand and leans over and starts picking up seashells. She loves seashell collection. We all do. She's looking at seashells and examining it. Nate at that moment realized the only thing in between the goal of running towards the seagulls and him being free was me because I'm still holding onto him. He’s pulling out my grip harder and harder and I don't think much about it. He starts saying something. He says, “Kuka, kukas,” like that. I didn't think much about it. He pulls up my grip again a second time and he goes, “Cass.”
I think for a second, but I don't think much more about it. He pulls up my grip a third time, almost feels like it's going to pull my shoulder out of my socket. He’s trying to run towards these seagulls and he goes, “Cash stop.” In shock, I let go of his arm and he ran towards the seagulls and it wasn't that far away and it was okay. He turned around and was waiting for us. I turn around and look at Michelle and Michelle is looking at the seashells. She didn't hear it and I said, “Michelle, did you hear that?” She said, “No. What?” I said, “You didn't hear what Nate said to me?” She said, “No. What happened?” I said, “Michelle, he said, ‘Cash stop’ because I was holding onto him.” I said, “Michelle, he knows my name.” She said, “Of course he does. Why wouldn't he?” That for me was such a powerful moment in that not only did he say my name. Keep in mind I’ve never heard Nate talk. I'd spent much time with him surfing and an awesome little guy. He said my name, but he knew my name.
After that, as we were working with him, we're going to multiple events throughout the year. There was a team of volunteers constantly working with him. The goal for him was to get him to stand on a surfboard during that one year, during the year 2015. Every single event that we went to before that experience, I would say, “Come on, Nate. Stand up. Let's go. You can do it.” After that, I said, “Nate, you got this. Let's go.” I was much more affirmative. I think that Nate couldn't talk. I wasn't pushing for that miracle. The reality for me is that I don't think miracles happen out of the blue. I think you have to create a situation, create the environment for that to happen. After that situation occurred, I would go to the beach. I was affirmative. I meet with the volunteers who knew the story. “Come on. You can do it.” Every single event, it'll get closer and closer to standing and riding on a wave. If you want to know if he stood upon a wave, you got to buy the book.
Dustin
Cash, for people that want to continue the journey, they can check us out at WealthFit and see the articles and the content that you're contributing. Where else can people keep tabs with what you're up to these days?
Cash
The first one is to be sure to stay tuned to our articles on WealthFit.com/money, /investing or /entrepreneurship. Also, you can contact me at CashLambert.com. The biggest thing with the book that I’ve been telling people is that this is not about me. If you haven't heard about surf therapy or maybe you know someone who you feel would benefit from going, look up surf therapy in your area. I can guarantee you that it's certainly close to you. Also, there are organizations that are working on lakes and bodies of water and pools. The biggest thing is with surf therapy is being aware of it. Give it a try. It may change your life. I believe it certainly can.
I saw it firsthand. I continue to see it firsthand. If it doesn't, keep trying other things. The biggest thing is this book is a lesson of never giving up hope, specifically in this instance of giving up hope with your son or daughter with autism, never give up hope. Even if you don't know anyone with autism or anything like that, don't give up hope in whatever you're trying to do. Whether you're an entrepreneur or you're investing, whatever that is, keep hammering away. I experienced that firsthand with this book and believing in it and constantly trying to find a publisher and it all worked out. I'm a big believer in that. Whatever you're doing, do not give up hope and into the process throughout because I promise you, the destination will be amazing.
Dustin
Cash, thank you big time for being part of the team and in propelling the WealthFit vision. Even more than that, thanks for who you are as a person and what you're up to in the world. It’s amazing. I had never known about surf therapy and people reading now know this is an option. Thank you for reading this. What we like to say is share the wealth. If you know someone that would benefit from surf therapy or the message we talked about. Maybe that budding author looking to write that first book and needs that motivation to keep pitching those publishers or any of the other insights that we shared. Make sure to share the wealth with a friend or someone you know.

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