Episode 1: “How Are You Being - It Matters.” with Travis Decker and Kendra Cunov
Alissa Interviews Travis Decker and Kendra Cunov from Authentic SF “How Are You Being - It Matters.”
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Alissa Kriteman: Welcome to Just For Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex. I’m your host, Alissa Kriteman. This is a two-part series of interviews with Travis Decker and Kendra Cunov of AuthenticSF. AuthenticSF is a team of coaches, trainers, and facilitators committed to fostering authentic, flourishing relationships: for men and women, singles and couples, friends, lovers, and even families.
In the first round of interviews, we’re going to talk about what AuthenticSF is, how it’s distinct from other relationship seminars, and how it can help you find the success you are looking for in your love life. In our second interview, we’ll discuss game and the seduction community. Travis will describe for us the three types of men we should avoid, and why.
So listen in!
Alissa Kriteman: Welcome to Just For Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex. I’m your host, Alissa Kriteman. My show is designed to bring you fresh ideas, new information, and edu-concepts that will shake up your perspective of what dating, relationships, and sex are and can be. These interviews are designed to inspire you to take new actions in your life, try new things, and alter old ways of being, so you can have the life, the love, and the success you’ve always wanted to have.
Alissa Kriteman: Welcome to Just For Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex. I’m your host, Alissa Kriteman. Today we have Travis Decker and Kendra Cunov of AuthenticSF. This organization is committed to fostering authentic, flourishing relationships. I’m happy to have these two co-founders with us today.
Welcome, Travis and Kendra.
Travis Decker: Thank you.
Kendra Cunov: Thank you.
Alissa Kriteman: We’re going to have a juicy conversation about a lot of different things, focused around what women need to know to have better relationships, more love in their lives, and more self-love.
So, Travis, why don’t we start with you. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to create this organization.
Travis Decker: Yes. This is an organization designed to support people having intimate relationships.
It was a windy road. I started off coaching in the military. In the army, mainly reserves, as a medic, and in college. And started working with people to get in touch with what they really wanted, what their actual motivations were, in service of them producing results.
Alissa Kriteman: In the military?
Alissa Kriteman: Kill! Kill! Kill!
Travis Decker: And it worked. And I figure I’d butt heads with the government someday, so I figured it was good for me to see the good parts and the bad parts behind the scenes. But it definitely wasn’t very fertile ground for real intimate, connected relationships. And yet, that’s where I started.
From there, I studied philosophy and psychology. I worked with homeless young adults. I was a case manager for a couple years. And on and on.
But I think really what was going on in the background was that I was constantly studying and exploring what was possible in my relationships. Not just to produce results, but out of a desire to have things feel more real, and have more juicy connections, and not hold anything back.
Alissa Kriteman: Nice.
Travis Decker: Exploring that was kind of the background. So by the time I had stopped working with homeless young adults and things like that, and had started coaching a little bit, I had phenomenal relationships in my life.
So people were asking me, “What did you say to her?” or “How did you do that?” or “How can you go up and approach someone you’ve never met before?” or “How can your community be so close together? What are you guys on?”
Alissa Kriteman: Oh, so you weren’t just just specifically relating to your relationships with women. You were saying all relationships in your life.
Travis Decker: My coaching did start with men.
Alissa Kriteman: On how to be more successful with women.
Travis Decker: That is what they were wanting to know.
Alissa Kriteman: OK, we’ll talk more about that later. [laughs]
Travis Decker: And my answer to their questions ultimately was my relationship with men. When they realized, oh, it wasn’t what you said, it was how you were being with that woman. How can you be that way?
I’m not being that way. I’m kind of checked out and flustered, or posturing and trying to act tough. They all had their styles of closing down.
How do I work through that? And one of my answers was, well, I have phenomenal relationships with men, and that’s the foundation I come from to have the kind of interactions I have with women.
Alissa Kriteman: That is pretty distinct, too, because there aren’t many men that I’ve interviewed who have this strong military background. So I would think something got broken through for you in your bonding with men. And it’s just not something I would think would create a pathway toward more intimacy with women. So it’s fascinating that you’re saying that.
Travis Decker: Mysterious ways. Mysterious ways.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah. Are we going to fill all the army and navy ranks now? Or maybe they’ll just come to AuthenticSF.
Travis Decker: I think we’ll [unintelligible.]
Alissa Kriteman: We’ll just bypass that. Go straight to the heart.
Travis Decker: [unintelligible] So it’s a long story. The military is one aspect. Psychology and working with really high risk populations of people: people who were overdosing or attempting suicide. Psychiatric disorders that were really intense. That was another of the prongs in my background.
And then a strong monastic background. A lot of time in silent meditation. All three of them are fairly distinct from each other, and they all wove in together in mysterious ways.
So people were asking me for coaching, and then that turned into, well, all right, I’l set up a fire on the beach. We’ll get you guys out there. We’ll get raw.
That turned into a seminar, which turned into a weekend retreat, and on into presentations and radio shows. It just took off.
Alissa Kriteman: Isn’t that how Burning Man started? You guys are heading for big things!
Well, really, that’s nice. And it sounds like you guys have a strong base and a deep caring in your heart for other people. And your path is very colorful and varied, so I know that gives you a depth. And your presence, you’re very, very present.
And I can see where, for a woman, I get to be present with you. And it feels really good. Your attention is all on me. There’s this attention on myself, and what am I saying, and how am I being?
So I would assume you’re teaching men that. But we can talk a little bit more about that.
Travis Decker: Absolutely. And it’s partly appreciation and care for other people, but it’s also, I get to discover so much about myself, by my straight-up, loving and not withheld, relating with other people.
So it’s not just to support you. But my presence is because you’re a whole other human being over there. What’s your experience of me? And who are we when we’re with each other?
Alissa Kriteman: This must be the authentic in AuthenticSF.
Travis Decker: Ding!
Alissa Kriteman: Nice. Well, it feels great, so thank you.
Travis Decker: Thank you.
Alissa Kriteman: OK, Kendra. Tell us who you are. Tell us all about the goddess behind the curtain here.
Kendra Cunov: Thank you. As I was listening to Decker, I was just reflecting on the process and what did lead me to this place in my life. And so much of it had to do with what he was saying at the very end, around working on myself. I think that was really the pathway that led me here.
I’m often hard-pressed to really find the beginning of that. I had the good fortune to be born into a Buddhist monastic community. And I really do believe there was something about being surrounded by people at such an early age who had some desire to reflect on themselves.
It just brought that out in me, and brought my attention to that really early on. Even though I didn’t personally start to practice until I was in my late teens, early 20s.
Alissa Kriteman: Still, you got a jump on most people.
Kendra Cunov: I feel blessed, for sure. And that really was the first step, was that I went back to practice in that community myself, when I was about 18 or 19.
And similar to what Decker said, about spending long periods of time in silent meditation, and taking that self-reflective look, and trying to see, well, what makes me tick? And what do I want? Why is it not just how I want it all the time? And doing that in that silent way.
And then really, it’s interesting, because being in that community, one of the things I noticed is here are all these people who really wanted more. They wanted a deeper connection, however you see that, with other people, with the divine. And a lot of them were really, really lacking in what we would call you average social skills.
I would say that’s a time-honored tradition, especially for men, avoiding relationships. It’s the monastic practice.
Alissa Kriteman: [laughs] Interesting.
Travis Decker: I’ll just hang out in a cave somewhere.
Alissa Kriteman: Now what does that mean? What does “monastic” mean, for those who don’t know?
Travis Decker: Well, you don’t have to be in a cave.
Kendra Cunov: Not necessarily. The community I was in, there were definitely people who were in relationships. Not just friendships, but also romantic relationships, so it’s a particular monastic. But the time that I spent there, I would live there for six months at a time, and we would spend the majority of every day silent.
Travis Decker: She was raised until seven at Tasa Hara. It’s one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries. It is the first in North America. And then she went back there.
So Tasa Hara is a pretty good example of monastic experience. You go in, you’ve got a little cot to sleep in, and you’ve got a big building with mats. And you sit and practice.
Alissa Kriteman: I hear monastic, I hear celibacy.
Kendra Cunov: Not necessarily.
Alissa Kriteman: Not necessarily, OK.
Kendra Cunov: I think that is sometimes the case, but not necessarily there.
Travis Decker: In my monastery, there’s no…
Alissa Kriteman: No sexual relations?
Travis Decker: We’re not even allowed to look at anybody. Noble silence means no eye contact, let alone speaking.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah, well that is what I want to know, because clearly that has given you a very strong foundation for you work. You are two of the most grounded people I think I’ve ever met. So that self-reflection really says a lot to the ability that you have to just be with whatever arises. It sounds like that has really been a foundation for your work.
Travis Decker: It was formative.
Kendra Cunov: And to me, it was amazing, because pretty much all of the work we do has to do with in relationship with another. We do a lot of work that is around reflection, where we might reflect another person and have someone reflect us back.
But it always comes down to the self. So there does fundamentally have to be that place where you have a desire to be self-reflective, first and foremost.
Travis Decker: Because we can’t see ourselves very well. It’s huge that this company is flourishing like this, because it suggests that people are aware of the possibility of having more thriving, real, genuine, rewarding, nourishing relationships and interactions with people.
For most people I’ve met, when I was growing up, that wasn’t even a topic on the menu to talk about. So now not only are people aware, hey, that person seems to not only be digging their relationships more than I am, or I’m digging more than I used to. How much farther can I go?
And then also, I can also be proactive about it. Furthering my education is not just learning accounting or getting my MBA. I can actually focus on the art of having more profound intimacy in my life.
Kendra Cunov: Which partly points to that place of not, oh, he has it, or she has it. But that it is something proactive. It is something that can be learned and used in practice by anybody.
Travis Decker: But, there are ways of being. We all have our quirks and our particular ways of being that get in the way of that very thing. We get in our own way. It’s really helpful to have someone be able to reflect that back so we can start to see the way of being that we are so in that we didn’t even realize we were doing it.
Alissa Kriteman: Exactly. And it sounds like you’ve created a community. It’s not as though you offer a seminar, and people go home, and there’s nothing more. You actually have game nights where people can come and interact. And I’ve been to them myself. To me, it’s one of the greatest things I look forward to, knowing that there’s a committed group of people who are open to exploring.
How can I relate better? How can I get to know this person better?
Kendra Cunov: That’s the interesting thing. I think that the community created itself, and we sort of provided. Originally, the game nights were, you know, we only had the men’s course at the very beginning. And it was like, OK, we want men to be able to come back and practice. Which I guess is a way that we wanted to be able to support them in some degree of community.
But what arose was an organic process where men and women wanted to come, and they wanted to explore together. We were just reminiscing the other night. We had a game night we had to cancel because like, one guy showed up. Back in the good old days, there would be 14 people, and we’re be like, Woohoo! Success! 14 people!
Now we’ve got 60 plus people.
Travis Decker: Coming next week.
Alissa Kriteman: Wow.
Kendra Cunov: And I really think, that community, it just arose of itself. We just offered a space.
Travis Decker: That is really cool. A few guys come. Start checking this thing out. They go out and the women in their lives are like, whoa. I feel a zing in my body when you look at me like that. Or, oh my god, that conversation I just had with him, I felt so seen. I just learned something about myself just talking to that guy.
We just give them a few little skill sets. They go out, and yeah, that actually created by us having the space for it, they went out and created the community via the distinctions.
Alissa Kriteman: Of course. Those women were like, what’s going on? I want some! Where are we going? That’s great.
Travis Decker: Totally.
Alissa Kriteman: OK. Did you want to say something?
Kendra Cunov: Well just briefly, what that points to for me, in some way, is that even though we started the men’s course first, it was always about men and women. And the desire was, we want to offer you ways to do better with women. And then the women who were involved in that course were like, we want that for the women who are out there. Please, let’s have that.
It’s the same desire with the women’s work, it’s like, go bring this to the men. Really, if you do anything with this, take it out into your life.
Alissa Kriteman: I actually think that’s a brilliant point. Because in my experience of dynamics between men and women, I’ve heard that the woman is the one with the desire who steers the relationship.
So you’re saying that it was out of the women desiring their men to go deeper in their ability to relate with the women? Would you say that? Would you say it was really almost inspired?
Travis Decker: It was both.
Kendra Cunov: I guess it’s sort tricky. If you take it back to its original inception…
Travis Decker: That’s exactly what it was.
Kendra Cunov: It was the women in the community.
Travis Decker: There’s a few really high octane women in the community who just schooled my ass. Can I say that word?
Alissa Kriteman: Sure.
Kendra Cunov: And Brian.
Travis Decker: And my co-lead, Brian. We both got cracked wide open relating with these women, who were not pulling punches.
Kendra Cunov: You could say it was the women’s unwavering desire to have that kind of relationship with these men that then…
Travis Decker: Had us having any business coaching anybody. So it was the desire of the women that was at the very source of the organizition. Absolutely.
Alissa Kriteman: And this is what I want women to hear. Ladies, our desire is valid. Stick to our guns. We can have it. There’s ways to manifest those dreams into reality.
And now you have a thriving organization that is solely committed to that.
Kendra Cunov: I just got chills.
Alissa Kriteman: So we’re going to take a break, and we’ll hear more about AuthenticSF with Kendra and Decker. Be right back.
[music and commercial break]
Alissa Kriteman: Welcome back to Just For Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex. I’m your host, Alissa Kriteman. We’re coming back here today with Decker and Kendra from AuthenticSF.
So we’ve been talking a little bit about your organization, what it provides people, how it organically arose. Let’s talk a little bit about…You know, there’s many, many, many kinds of relationship coaches and courses out there. How is AuthenticSF from other relationship courses or things people might be able to do?
Travis Decker: Good one.
Kendra Cunov: Yeah, I like that question. What intially comes to mind is just the range of what’s out there, all the way from singles organizations to couples therapy to, you know. One of the things we were just recently talking about, is that one of the ways that AuthenticSF is distinct is that it really spans the range of all of those things.
All the way from, we were talking about the game nights earlier, have almost organically become a bit of a singles event. It’s not that they’re just for singles, but people do come there to meet other people.
Alissa Kriteman: Interesting.
Kendra Cunov: It wasn’t our original intention, but it has become that way. It’s like, oh, there are other like-minded people. I want to meet other people who are committed to depth and to their own personal growth. Committed to communication. They meet them there.
Alissa Kriteman: Makes sense.
Travis Decker: It’s not game night like board games. We have interactive nights called Authentic Relating. Yeah. And some of the coaching is about, how do I find or create these authentic conncections and relationships in my life? And there’s coaching for how you can create that on your own.
And then meanwhile, these nights are quite the social scene, where people come to practice and drop deeper and meet other people who are actually interested in that conversation.
Alissa Kriteman: It’s sort of on the court after you’ve had your training, it seems like. That sounds fun.
Travis Decker: Uh huh. Also, there’s a course for men, the Authentic Man Program, which was really what started this, and just us wanting to tap how powerful it was for women to be able to have a space to be totally real with us, that had us wake up and have better relationships with women.
Then soon after was a course for women who wanted to take their relationships to a new level. The Authentic Woman Experience. We have work for couples. We have work for singles. And, yeah, one of the things that’s distinct is that there’s a community that exists around it. These aren’t just seminars. They’re really experiential, and they create community.
People come out creating their own community. And those communities tend to network and web with each other.
Alissa Kriteman: Intermingle? [laughs]
Kendra Cunov: Definitely. And there’s two things that kind of stand out for me about that. First off, and this aspect is one of the things that we were touching on, we don’t just focus on people getting into a relationship. It’s from that beiginning, that process of wanting to be in a relationship, of looking for that relationship.
And then once they’re in it, really supporting them in having the kind of relationship that they want. So there’s plenty of places out there to meet other people. There’s all kinds of dating organizations. And then once you’re in a relationship, it’s like end of story.
Alissa Kriteman: What do you do now?
Kendra Cunov: And the second piece that I was really just reflecting on right now that’s so distinct, is how as much as of our overt focus is on relationship, really, underneath that, what we bring the focus to is the individual.
Our underlying focus is always about every individual having the life that they want. And that that will have them be in the relationship with the person that they want.
Travis Decker: Or the places where you’re getting in your own way, or turning people off, or keeping people distanced from you. All the different ways we do it, is a place where we’re being inauthentic. We’re not being true to ourselves, without even realizing it.
So people come to us. This has grown way beyond the Bay Area consciousness bubble we’re in. Even people in San Francisco are like, I just came to get some tips on dating. I just dove onto a ride that went way deeper than I had intended or been planning on.
Because people are discovering more about themselves by taking a look at their relationships. What they actually want, and what’s in the way of that. They’re discovering more about themselves. Including people who’ve never discovered anything about themselves. We have clients who come in and are like, self-discovery? What’s that? What’s there to discover?
Kendra Cunov: Like, I know me.
Alissa Kriteman: Exactly. Most people think, relationship out there. Here I am, but there’s a relationship out there that I’m going to go after. And what you’re saying is, the focus is, no. Who are you being now? What are you doing now? How do you feel now, and how are you going to attract that?
Or from your grounded, centered place, knowing yourself, and maybe knowing things about yourself that you didn’t know before that will actually attract a different kind of person.
Travis Decker: It’s a lot more comfortable, I find, for men to think that they just, they just didn’t have enough money. That’s why his relationship ended. He didn’t have a fancy enough car, I guess, or she wouldn’t go out on a date with him because he didn’t have fancy clothes, or this or that. He’s not tall enough.
It’s a lot more comfortable for him to believe that. Or for women to believe that she just wasn’t thin enough, or she wasn’t young enough.
Alissa Kriteman: All the superficial things that we want to, yeah.
Travis Decker: It’s much more confronting to take on that, there’s a way that you’re being. There’s a way that you relate with yourself that shows up in the way you relate with other people, that you’re not even aware of. You’re not taking responsibility for it, because you can’t. You’re not even aware that you’re doing it. You’ve been doing it so long, you don’t even know that you’re doing it.
Alissa Kriteman: It’s like, what you don’t know won’t bother you. It’s like the ignorance… You know, not in a bad way, but almost that innocence. You just didn’t know. I mean, who’s going to teach us about relationships?
Travis Decker: I mean, say I’m in the middle of the interview, and I’m knocking. Just tapping away.
Travis Decker: We’re talking. You’re aware of the tapping. You wishing I wouldn’t for your interview.
Alissa Kriteman: [laughs]
Travis Decker: And if I keep tapping, by the end of the interview, what happens? We just keep going and keep going.
Alissa Kriteman: No, I’d hit you.
Travis Decker: If I got away with it, you wouldn’t hear it. By the end of the interview, you would stop hearing it.
Alissa Kriteman: Exactly. Oh, I see what you’re saying. It’s like those colored sunglasses. You forget that you’re wearing colored sunglasses and everything’s purple.
Kendra Cunov: And the big trap of it is, we would also stop hearing other things. There’s a way that we would have to check out to not hear the knocking that would have us not hear other aspects of the interview as well. That would have the three of us here be as related as we could be.
Because there’s some part of us that has to check out of us a little bit to not hear that really obnoxious knocking. Or see the really obnoxious foot shaking. There’s all these little things. Some of them are very overt like that. They’re physical things. And then some of them are so subtle.
Travis Decker: And yet when a woman checks out in that way, in order to not hear the knocking, she also suddenly doesn’t have the juicy turn-on that she used to have in their relating. It has a cost. The places where we check out have a cost.
The good news is, once someone comes in, and instantly just wanting a few dating tips, or relationship tips, they get blown open into seeing something about themselves. Once they get that, they’re like, wow!
I don’t know who hasn’t felt this. Once they discover something about themselves, they’re like, wow. I want better relationships, and even more importantly, what else can I discover about myself?
I have been doing that for years. I remember doing it. I just never saw it until now. What other things am I doing right now that I haven’t seen yet? Because that’s juicy.
Alissa Kriteman: That’s beautiful.
Kendra Cunov: Some of my favorite clients are the ones who came in with the most surface objectives. We had a little partnership with a dating organization here in San Francisco called Table for Six for almost three years now. Where we would lead a seminar for some of their members about every other month.
And everyone in Table for Six is overtly, specifically, looking for a relationship and a partner. And it’s beautiful that they want that.
And the ones who come in and they just want to know some tips, they just want to know what to do on the first date, they just want to know how to meet this type of woman, that type of thing. And then just get blown away by the workshop and end up becoming our long-term clients. They’re my favorites.
There the ones who, a little while down the line, they’re like, maybe I’m dating, maybe I’m not dating. Some of them are, some of them aren’t. And they are in love with their life. They’re just excited about self-discovery, and way farther on a different path than they ever were.
I actually had somebody write me an email. Oh, I had no idea that this is what I was going to get out of Table for Six.
Alissa Kriteman: Wow. It sounds transformational, what you’re offering people. They come in with a certain idea about what they want, and then their mind gets expanded.
Travis Decker: In a way that lets them have the kind of relationships they want. That is still our primary focus. And I’m generally inspired by that for its own sake. I love the idea of people having juicy relationships, people being together for 40, 50 years, and still being totally madly in love with each other and discovering new things about each other.
People being genuine when they’re attracted to each other in a bar. I think it’s a more beautiful world when people have more authentic, juicy relating with each other. And there is a deeper cut.
And I’m clear that people are more genuine, generous, conscious of their impact. Less desperately tearing apart the environment. All these things that move me even more than relationships. People are more conscious about that stuff when they’re happy.
And one of the places that people are not happy is in how isolated, cut off, how un-genuine they feel, in order to not be alone, to be approved of, to be all those things where we get stuck.
So yeah, there’s definitely a deeper cut. And it’s not on the website necessarily, but there’s a deeper cut.
Alissa Kriteman: Exactly. And it sounds like the course, the courses. Which, I do have a question about that. Because I notice that there’s the Authentic Woman Experience for women, and the Authentic Man Program for men. But there’s nothing for men and women together, yet. Is that something that you’re..?
Travis Decker: There are. They’re not advertised right now, but they exist and they go on on a monthly basis, like for one day. And there are two days for people who are interested.
Alissa Kriteman: You’ve got to do the groundwork first, I would think.
Kendra Cunov: Yeah.
Travis Decker: And then we can invite them in.
Kendra Cunov: At this point, for co-ed, I would say the main thing is the game nights. And then everything else, when people have the desire, they’ve gone through the program and they say, OK, I want to practice this, actually with the opposite gender.
And then we’re like, OK. We’ve got a group. Let’s do it.
Alissa Kriteman: I think what we’ll do is take a little break, and when we come back, we’ll talk a little bit about other kinds of communities that are out there. The seduction community, things of that nature, that I think kind of fly in the face of what’s going on here. So I’d like to get your perspectives on that. And we’ll be right back.
Alissa Kriteman: Thank you so much, Decker and Kendra, for being with us today and sharing your insights and deeply profound information and completely new perspective, I say, on relationships, dating. We haven’t covered sex yet, but I’m going to have you guys back for that.
Travis Decker: Uh oh.
Alissa Kriteman: So how can we find you? Authenticsf.com, yeah? That’s the website?
Travis Decker: That’s us. Yeah. If any of the women want to check out the Authentic Woman Experience, go to authenticsf.com. Check out the women’s work. And if you happen to know a man who want to take his relating deeper, he can check out the men’s work, the Authentic Man Program. And anyone can just shoot us an email at email@example.com.
Alissa Kriteman: Pefect. And you guys are available as well for private coaching, yeah?
Travis Decker: We are. But to varying degrees.
Kendra Cunov: Depending on our caseloads at the moment.
Travis Decker: If someone is interested in one-on-one work, and taking a deeper look at what’s possible for them and what may be in the way, we’re available for that as well. Again, if you want to check out coaching, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alissa Kriteman: Perfect. Thank you so much for your time, your insight.
Kendra Cunov: And thank you so much for having us. This was just a blast. I really enjoyed it.
Alissa Kriteman: Thank you. It’s my pleasure. So we’ll talk soon. Thank you. This is Alissa signing off with Just For Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex. See you next time.