Episode 50: Sean X. Cummings on Lateral Thinking, Social Networking Implants and the Buddhism of Advertising
In this 50th celebratory episode of DishyMix on Personal Life Media, enjoy this live, in-studio interview with bon vivant Sean X. Cummings.
Sexy, funny, informative, irreverent, and serious, this interview with Sean reveals a man who has struggled with the dichotomy of advertising and his sacred soul. Trip along Sean's career path from agency guy working on Nike, MSNBC, Miller and Corona beer, Hyatt and American Airlines to client-side marketer at American Express and Ask.com. A free agent now, Sean gives us his filters for deciding what a good career move might be in today's market. Find out what he thinks are the hot digital up and comer categories and why start ups may not be worth the effort if work/life balance is your desire. Get advice if you are thinking about a career change. Discover why Kiva.org is the best venture-funded start up he knows and why he's driven to find ways to give back to the universe.
Life is what Sean desires, and as much of it as he can get. In his journey for the perfect woman with whom to have a "fully open hearted love" relationship, we check in and see what's keeping him busy on his quest. Hear about his favorite Pacific Coast Highway drives on his Ducati. Why he's not a great Buddhist, only a good one. (His favorite book to recommend is "Awakening the Buddha Within" by Lama Surya Das.) Find out what Sean learned recovering from a nearly fatal stroke that left him without speech or motor skills and how it changed his life. One thing Sean realized is that chicks do not dig a man who drools... Hmmm...that's enough motivation right there!
Oh yes, and the "X." Of course I got the story on that. And you can read Sean's column, The X Factor, on iMedia Connection.
Tune in to hear some crazy stuff in this no holds barred, very personal interview where we weave from "WiFi Thighs" to Social Media PR to how to be a fantastic father.
Welcome to Dishy Mix. I am your host, Susan Bratton, and this is my 50 th episode, on Personal Life Media.
Susan Bratton: Less than a year ago, I came on my own network with my own show, and I am especially happy, because its my 50 th episode here on Personal Life Media and I am doing a live in-studio interview with Sean X. Cummings.
Sean, is an industry bon vivant. He would like to think he’s ecomagine (?)but he’s not. He’s a marketer, a columnist, a speaker and an existentialist. We will talk about all of those things with Sean, today. He was recently director of marketing at www.ask.com, previously worked on the grand(?)side at MX and has tones of digital agency experience with the likes of Nike, MSNBC, Miller, Corona, Hyatt, American Airlines and others. So we are going to learn a little bit about the marketing side, the agency side, and what’s going on with Sean.
Including, his version of the best motor cycle rods along the California coast, how he applies Buddhism to advertising, what it means for Sean to have fully open-heart love. His newest way, that he managed to become a fabulously lateral thinker and why he thinks the future of social networking, is implants.
Sean Cummings: Now, the whole communications industry, is going through fundamental change, from a public relations perspective and they are going to have to get much more locked in, to the social media viral-type distribution advertising because that’s the only way that they are going to be able to communicate for, the clients. Because, the consumer is not going to tune in, you know, they have been saying it for years but the next generation, is not going tuning in to the podcast call.
I remember back in Apple’s early days there was always Guy Kawasaki, who was an evangelist. The companies got a wave from that sort of evangelism and a lot of these companies out there need it. Essentially it said, the future of social media will be implants that we will all have and we will. The implants will be triggered by proximity to other people. Premier tenets of Buddhism is, right livelihood, is one of them. So actually, when you think about my last job, in a search engine, this is not bad I mean you really trying to empower people to find information, so that’s the way I look at it. Really deep, committed love. It’s like a great friendship set to music. It is just -- everything is full. You are more than the sum of your parts. One plus one, is greater than two and your minds connect, everything connects.
Susan Bratton: Hey Sean.
Sean Cummings: Hey Susan, how are you doing?
Susan Bratton: I am great. So we are very cozy in our studio today, together I am glad you are here in person. It’s always a special treat for me.
Sean Cummings: This is a very cozy studio here.
Susan Bratton: (laughing) So, the first thing that I wanted to talk to you about, was that you have recently left www.ask.com. This is new news. You heard it here first on Dishy Mix and I wanted to get a sense from you. You have been on the agency side, you have been on the marketing side, you have really re-worked www.askjeeves into www.ask.com’s brand. What are your filters for thinking about a new job? When you look at the industry, where do you think the hot spots are and what might be your next step?
Sean Cummings: First of all, I am actually going to take some time off in the Summer to play, so -- but after that -- I mean this is advice that I would give anybody who is sort of looking for a job right now.
Obviously, the big play for most people, when they look at the industry, is social media. But what does social media mean? It’s this collection of everything and I think, the biggest opportunities right now, are for the PR companies because they haven’t been involved as much, in the communications process, directly with their agencies of their clients.
They are usually are separated on separate fiefdoms and they have their own worlds. But now, the whole communications industry, is going to fundamentally change from a PR perspective. They are going to have to get much much more locked in to these social media viral-type distribution advertising that’s out there, because that’s the only way that they are going to be able to communicate for the clients. The consumer is not going to tune in. They have been saying it for years, but the next generation, is not tuning in to the (?)call mix.
Susan Bratton: So you think, beyond SEO public relations, social media public relations and all that, starting to turn into as an area that you think, is a hot area?
Sean Cummings: I think that’s a very hot area. I think that the PR agencies that don’t really jump on board now and really tap that market, are going to find themselves with very old clients, with old clientele.
Susan Bratton: On next week’s show, I have Andy Beal, who wrote a new book called Radically Transparent and one of the things that I asked him is, very specifically, what a social media press release is like, what are the components of that, and how is it different than a traditional press release? It is changing radically. It’s a whole I think, new area. I have started to do SEO public relations so, key-word optimizing my press releases, but, there is so much more to it now, than that as well.
Sean Cummings: Most of the people I talk to, like Mark Naples and other people like that, that are in the public relations side and what they will tell you is, it used to be a very push market.
It’s like you push the public relations out there, you really sit, you have your Martinis with the person and then make the clients happy. What he would have told me is that literally, 90 percent of the stuff he does, is pull. It’s really working the relationships so that, when they have something, they come to you and they pull it out of you. They can no longer survive on the press release side of it. It’s only about 10 to 20 percent, for these new type of clients, that they really have to get pull not push.
Susan Bratton: Well and also, another disclaimer. I am on the board of a company called Newsforce. What they are doing, is essentially taking ads like a medium rectangle and putting the headlines of the press releases, inside the ad.
Then running those, on news sites and getting at least in their initial trials, a 30 percent lift on click-through of essentially key word ads, but they are press release titles. That’s a clever concept, what do you think about that?
Sean Cummings: It’s phenomenal. These ways that people have a social meeting. Like I said, it’s a combination of things. It’s like saying, viral marketing. It doesn’t mean anything, until it happens. It’s a collection of everything from websites and SEO. It’s the Internet. That’s what it is. The Internet was founded, as a communications medium well, kind of but you know the way it commercialized as a communications medium. I remember back in the early days, when we were around there surfing on the Web and there were bad pages but what there was, there was no advertising. There was no advertising on any of these things. It was about the democratization of information and really are jumping down and this is so fantastic. We are democratizing information and what happened?
Susan Bratton: We screwed it all up with advertising.
Sean Cummings: Yes.
Susan Bratton: So, alright, one filter is, you think there is a revolution going, in social media, with regard to that PR vein. What are some of filters you are using? You are taking the Summer off. I am going to get to that.
Sean Cummings: (laughing)
Susan Bratton: We are going to talk about what you are going to do, all Summer. We will go into Burningmed(?) with me I think. (laughter) What are some of the other hot areas that you see, that are sparky, that look that they have potential for you, that you might want to go check out?
Sean Cummings: There’s a lot of interest in start-ups out there, right now but I am finding that the venture capitalists are not really funding the riskier start-ups anymore. You' ve seen one of these start–ups that kind of have, what they call Google exit plans? It’s like, oh we do this for three years then we sell to Google and or sell to MSN or sell to Yahoo.
Susan Bratton: Is that bad?
Sean Cummings: No it’s not bad for them, they make a lot of money but what it does is, you are not getting the wacky people out there just saying look, I want to do this because into this because this makes society better. This makes me better, this makes the people I am reaching, better and you have less and less of those and you have less and less of the venture capitals funding them. Now, on the flip side, when an issue or topic gets hot and you know, global warming, green. All these companies wanting to do green. It’s the commercialization of green.
Susan Bratton: Greenwashing.
Sean Cummings: It’s the Greenwashing so, you know at the same time, that’s still good. It’s still better for the environment, but it’s not always done with the most altruistic motives.
Susan Bratton: So, are you in a position to look at opportunities that are super risky start-ups ? Or is that not in your DNA?
Sean Cummings: I have done the super-risky start-up and after 10 months of the super-risky start-up, we did a write over, about four years ago and I got a call from my sister and she says, isn’t it a shame about New Orleans? And I said, what are you talking about? Katrina hit New Orleans. It was two days afterwards and I had no idea. I had worked hundred-hour weeks for like, months on end. After all that, these start-ups or what’s the word oh yes, it imploded and so, I don’t think that’s in my DNA for the next round.
Susan Bratton: So work-life balance is really a priority right now?
Sean Cummings: Work life balance is my priority.
Susan Bratton: You are at the age where you’re -- I -- my sense is
Sean Cummings: Hey whoa. Watch. (laughing)I still look good.
Susan Bratton: My sense is that you are either ready -- you look great. You are a good looking guy but I have a sense that you are interested in -- at this point in your life, you are building your career, but you have a lot of experience you can leverage and you want to have some fun and do things off the personal side too.
Sean Cummings: The big thing that I would love to do as my next gig(?) is, be an evangelist for a company. Be an evangelist to the industry. To help teach people within the company and outside the company, how to leverage all this technology.
I remember back in Apple’s early days, there was always Guy Kawasaki who was an evangelist. The companies got a wave from that sort of evangelism and a lot of these companies out there, need it. Be it an online advertising agency that needs someone to represent them in the industry, go speak at conferences, like write papers, help people internally take the pulse. Because in the beginning, you used to be able to know everything that was going on, in the Internet and in the first couple of years, you know. You knew every site that launched. It’s like oh, check this out. It is so much now that, no one person can know all of it. They can’t even come close to knowing all of it.
Everybody keeps their heads down, on a day-to-day basis, doing their one job and their one task or their one project and they are not even going out there. They are not checking out what’s out there so they’re somewhat isolated. That’s why things like the conference circuits are also good because it brings all these people together and to just sit around, drink and talk, what’s new, what’s happening, what am I missing? What am I missing from my clients? What am I missing from my brand?
Susan Bratton: I also think that, there are two things that I look for. Someone who can analyze all the connective tissue in the industry and show me where the waves are happening, as well as someone who can show me where the future might be going. That’s one of the reasons I always ask that one question of my guests which is, where do you think the future of social media will be? And I loved your response. Tell us your response. That’s a good one.
Sean Cummings: Essentially, I said the future of social media, will be implants that we will all have and we will. The implants will be triggered by proximity to other people. We will program these implants with our likes, dislikes and everything like that. You know. What kind of food we like, what kind of people we like, what kind of sex we like, what kind of alcohol we like. We are just going to program all this stuff and you can change the programming, but you are going to walk along the street and you are going to get little beeps and boops and that tells you, ooh that kind of person is interested in you or anyway that kind of thing. So, what’s going to happen is, there are going to be people stumbling around like they are drunk, trying to get too close to the people or avoid people and get these messages, and get text messages. Then there will be a whole industry on that, coming up with the blocking of all this stuff so--
Susan Bratton: Right, right. I love that. Well, one of the things that I always thought was really cool is, electronic fashion. Like clothing that does things. You know like you can generate y-fi when your thighs rub together. (laughing) Fat chicks rock in y- fi.
Sean Cummings: You won’t have a bunch of guys trailing a bunch of fat chicks right. That was not very nice, Susan.
Susan Bratton: It was funny, though. So, there was a company that you were talking about, that was really your favorite start up.
Susan Bratton: That was really your favorite your favorite startup. Keava dot org. You said you really looked up to them. Tell us about that.
Sean X Cummings: Keava dot org was started from I believe three people that were out of Stanford as a project. What they found they started micro hunting. They really weren’t the first. They said but they really took it and applied technology to this business and what they did is that they went into India and to other places where people cannot secure loans. They couldn’t get loans and they were very simple loans. With things like if I get this little machine I can make peanut butter out of the peanuts. I want to start my own little business. These people would actually go up and sort of make their case and say I need this much money, and people can donate that money, you won a fractional share of that donation and then people pay it back over time with their business. It’s a phenomenal business model that empowers the lowest levels of our society that are not empowered to do better. The venture capitals aren’t going out and funding individuals, but companies like this fundamentally change the world.
Susan Bratton: Can it be the intermediately to that funding, private lending. As I have been getting to know you, you have revealed to me in a number of ways that you have a lot of interest in Extentialism and Buddhism, how do you rationalize being an a dude with being a Buddhist?
Sean Cummings: Okay, I’m a bad Buddhist, I drink
Susan Bratton: Apparently you are a better Buddhist then a Catholic. I the X for Xhavier or Xavier --
Sean Cummings: No I can tell you the X in one second.
Susan Bratton: All right, I figured if you are an X Catholic, it was the Xavier, it’s very common.
Sean Cummings: That’s good actually, I could say that like I said I’m a bad Buddhist, I drink, but I’m a much better Buddhist then a Catholic and I figured I’m taking this Carmi cal rubout, I just don’t want to come back as a bug, cool as another human being not trying to reach enlightenment, I’m okay with that. But non-joking aside advertising is a very hard business sometimes. It’s one of the reasons why I sort of left the agency side in a way. At one point I had Miller, Playboy and we were pitching Winston, and I thought Yes, I’m really not doing much good right now.
Susan Bratton: You lost your soul.
Sean Cummings: I lost my soul and I sort of wanted to get that back and one of the premier tens of Buddhism is right livelihood is one of them. Actually when you think of my last job a search engine it’s not bad. You are really trying to empower people to try and find information so that’s the why I look at it.
Susan Bratton: I just made an ad sales call before you came over today, to do the interview. I got to call a company called Eagle Vine dot com. They have an organic wine sampling membership club and I thought Oh that’s a perfect brand for my show Living Green and my other show called Green Talk Radio. I thought now that’s the kind of advertising that I would like to sale, organic wine club membership on my sustainable living shows. Yes I’m still selling advertising but I’m selling some good stuff. Good brands, which is great.
Sean Cummings: Is it organically grown and organically processed --
Susan Bratton: It will be either organic wine by a dynamic wine, or there are a lot of different kinds of categories and classifications of the wines and I don’t understand them all actually.
Sean X Cummings: So you asked about the X
Susan Bratton: Yes, tell me about the X
Sean Cummings: The X is funny, when people normally ask me I sit there and pause and say it stands for X-ray. My dad was a radiologist, just to see their reaction.
Susan Bratton: So docky
Sean Cummings: I know, I’m sorry, I’m a freaking loser. But what it really is, is that it doesn’t exist, I have no middle name.
Susan Bratton: X marks the spot
Sean Cummings: X marks the spot. What happened was when I was first in advertising; I was in one of those companies where it was very early on, in the internet and they gave you your first initial your first name and then your last name as your email address. Unfortunately for me that spells Scummings and I told them I’m sorry I’ll quit before I have that as my email address. They said perfect, we can use your middle initial. Well my parents thought, God bless them they never gave me a middle name.
Susan Bratton: That’s funny.
Sean Cummings: So then they told me you’ve got a choice between X, Z or 2. So I just choose X so I have had it for the last four years, but since it was in the HR’s system, like all my pay checks, all my business cards, all my stationary, everything was printed with the X. Now I then went to another company and got rid of the X but I had been asked to speak somewhere and the guy called me up and he say look I said Sean Cummings is coming to speak and they are like whose that. I go well Sean X, and they are like oh yes, Sean X we know him. I figured I’m in marketing, I’m in advertising, it’s my brand.
Susan Bratton: When we come back form the break I wan to talk to you about many things including what key words are associated with your online reputation and how you manage your online reputation. Cause you are known online and I think that will be interesting to other people. We will go to a break thank our sponsors and then we will come back, we’ll learn about your reputation. Good, bad, and Ugly.
Susan Bratton: All right we are back and we are with Sean X Cummings. Sean recently at Abas dot com, before that American Express, agency business, learning about the world that is open to him now. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about online reputation management. Do you have Google alert, a vanity alert for your name and how do you track all that?
Sean Cummings: I don’t actually.
Susan Bratton: You don’t --
Sean Cummings: I actually don’t, and I don’t do it on purpose, because I always used to say I Teflon coated but I was always like, why are they doing that, what are they saying about me, and interestingly enough, I set one up originally and there is three Sean Cummings. It’s very interesting. There is this Hotel Developer, who is rated like one of the sexiest bachelors, by time magazine top 50. There is this guy who runs a booty magazine, and then there is me.
Susan Bratton: What is a Booty Magazine?
Sean Cummings: A booty booty, like a woman’s booty.
Susan Bratton: You mean like
Sean Cummings: Like big bottoms type magazine
Susan Bratton: That’s funny
Sean Cummings: Big curvy woman, with big bottoms
Susan Bratton: Is it a Sean X Cummings that does this booty?
Sean Cummings: It’s not a Sean X, that’s why I’m keeping the X, after Sean comes X.
Susan Bratton: Cause that would make sense.
Sean Cummings: That would make sense, Sean with triple X. But what I found is that when I did that original work on my name Sean Cummings it’s just fascinating. Occasionally which is very funny I will get calls form woman and they will send me pictures because they think it’s this email address, so I get all these nude pictures of woman showing their booty.
Susan Bratton: Wow, and is that an interesting thing to you. A big bootyied woman or is there something else you prefer in your women?
Sean Cummings: When I swing on it I don’t like to miss –
Susan Bratton: Maybe it’s really you?
Sean Cummings: No, it’s not me. I like a nice size booty.
Susan Bratton: Just a nice size, not a big, just a regular booty?
Sean Cummings: Not a big booty, just a regular booty?
Susan Bratton: We were on love, we were on fully openhearted love. That is what you want not just love, but fully open hearted love. Tell me about that?
Sean Cummings: Really deep committed love, it’s like a great friendship set to music. It’s just - -everything is full. You are more then a sum of your parts. One plus one is greater then two and your minds connect and everything connects.
Susan Bratton: Do you have any resistance to being full open hearted in your love?
Sean Cummings: No, that’s actually a worth thing. It happened to me about six years ago, I had an accident and it sort of rewired my brain and I didn’t really realize that I truly lucked empathy before that. I didn’t’ know what it was. I said that I was in love before to people, but I never felt it. I have felt it since then and now that I know what it is, oh you want it.
Susan Bratton: How would you like women to express their love to you in? In what ways do you feel that you are really receiving love when you get it? Are there certain things that a woman can do that make you really know that she loves you?
Sean Cummings: It’s everything, and I would like to point to one little thing, they don’t even have to talk. If you can do it without talking and you are just looking at each other and it’s that little slight smile and you know that they are being honest.
Susan Bratton: It’s interesting because, I have a lot of Tony Robbins trainings. Tim and I have gone through a lot of that and I like the way I like Tim to show me that he loves me, is to do things for me and take me places. Those are the ways that I like him to express his love to me. When he makes me a Latie every morning, that’s him loving me. When he takes me out to dinner or says Oh lets just go together to do this thing that is how to me he expresses his love to me.
His very opposite in that way in that his best way for me to express love, is for me to touch him. It’s for me to sit on his lap and give him a little peck on the cheek. It’s for me to stroke his arm or to do something like that for him that’s a full expression of love. I think that we learned that actually in a Tony Robbins course called Date with Destiny. It carries over into everything that we do and how we relate both at work and our personal lives that people have different expectations of what that thing is to them.
The more clearly you can get about it, the more empowering and deeper your relationships can be. We spend so much time at work that to me I want to know how- -I want to know what makes my colleagues feel good when I interact with them as much as what makes my lover feel good. I just had on Vince Thompson, he used to work at AOL in sales and has a company called Shift. He wrote a book called Ignited. Which was really for middle managers to understand where their power was and how they can manage up and manage down. He talked about understanding what your boss wants from you and not only what they want, but what their top priorities are. What they really need for you to give them. It was such great advise and I have got so much listener feedback because a lot of times what we think our boss wants is totally different, then what they really want from us, don’t you think?
Sean Cummings: No, it’ s like with people, when you think about love, it’s- -you keep on talking about the other person but in reality it’s how they make you feel.
Susan Bratton: Absolutely
Sean Cummings: What a lot of people don’t understand is how they make you feel. There is that powerful connection. But if there isn’t that communication like on what you just talked about, what Tony Robinson has and going through that and finding the different ways that you can both express your love, it works the same in business. Like you said it’s the same with your boss, what you think they want and having better open communication. A lot of times your boss won’t actually know what they want. It’s partly your job to help them realize it.
Susan Bratton: Yes, asking them so that they can consider it. To really tell you what their priorities are.
Sean Cummings: Then once they verbalize it all of a sudden, it starts to get, oh yes this is the way I want to run this company.
Susan Bratton: You were talking about- - you alluded to something that happened to you. You had a stroke in 2002, is that right? I did my math on that. You are a young man and have a stroke you said that it actually rewired you brain, created this empathy that you are talking about, you were with your parents when this happened? What happened was it an Anualrisium or what?
Sean Cummings: No, it was a blood clot, they have never really fully figured out, what’s wrong with me. I’ m the one in the billionth person that it should ever happen to. I had just won the Chicago Marathon three months earlier. I was in great physical shape, I flew down to Vegas just to see them over the holidays.
Susan Bratton: That’s where you mum and dad live?
Sean Cummings: Yes that’s where my mum lives, now.
Susan Bratton: That’s good.
Sean Cummings: I went down there to visit them and we went to Circus Solae, so I’m going to blame it on the Kabecas, drove the car back and just all of a sudden felt lousy and sort of fell out the car and I could still speak at that point, but they figured well, it’s some fumes or something like that and then you know hours later. They take me to the hospital my eyes are all bulged out in nowhere land –
Susan Bratton: One of them or all of them?
Sean Cummings: One of them, like one of - -my left eye was like out –
Susan Bratton: You lost your motor control of your eyes
Sean Cummings: I lost motor control of my eyes beyond focus. The weirdest thing with that is called the Plopleur and what happens is it’s just the muscle in the eye that puts it out there so it’s not like you are blurred vision when you squint. What it is, is it’s two perfectly focused images but they have just shifted from each other. Your brain just freaks out. But then I lost the ability to talk, I lost he ability to walk, I lost the ability to ride, I lost everything. I mean I had to over the three days you get worse and worse and worse. After they clear the clot the your brain cells are still in. I was in Intensive Care for six weeks. Hospital for a couple months, I then did occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy for the next year.
Susan Bratton: Wow, so you lost over a year of your life? You had to completely start over? Were you totally depressed? Was there a point, which you thought just, kill me?
Sean Cummings: I was bummed. That’s the weirdest thing I was never like that, I have had bad things happen to me. I just never think about it in my life. The difference what you have to know when you have a stroke is you are inside your head, but it’s not like you’ve been in a car accident where you are in this incredible pain. All your pain is mental.
Susan Bratton: That’s when you started your Buddhism I bet? Dealing with what is.
Sean Cummings: Yes. Dealing with what is and– work on that – I would have --it should have never happened to me but I’m also a upholster child for these people. I got back more from my stroke than they say they saw anybody ever in their history get back. They studied me—they were sitting there and going like, this is amazing how much I got to work on it everyday and I would have never thought I would get it back. Like you said, one of the things that they did is they rewired my brain, I think differently now. Most of the people I knew before the stroke, know I’m different but also some is also mental. I don’t care as much what people think about me now.
Susan Bratton: there is a freedom in that.
Sean Cummings: There is a freedom in that so I felt very liberated. The hardest thing is-- dating when you are a stroke boy, because no one wants to date the drooling guy.
Susan Bratton: Yes, drooling is not for me.
Sean Cummings: Drooling guy is really not attractive. I got to tell you, it was more that that was depressing than anything else.
Susan Bratton: Yes, you weren’t getting laid?
Sean Cummings: You weren’t getting laid.
Susan Bratton: You are drooling and you are not getting laid.
Sean Cummings: I said what do you think I was working for? That’s the funniest thing, you got this stroke, you are totally motivated because you are like, I got to be attractive again.
Susan Bratton: Yes, I can believe that, did you ever hear or did you ever watch on line on the Ted talks, at ted dot com, Jill Bolty Tailor, have you ever heard of her?
Sean Bratton: No, I have heard of her. I didn’t see that. I’ve been to Ted before I love that conference.
Susan Bratton: You have to watch it. It was her speech with the most recent Ted, she had an annualism and she had a neuro scientist. She gave this kind of triple story about what was physically happening to her. What she was aware of happening to her and how she managed to get help and get through when she realized it and then that third out of body-. I’m a neuro-scientist and I’m fascinated by what I’m seeing unfolding here. I’m watching myself fall apart but it’s the most amazing experience for a neuro-scientist.
Sean Cummings: If you are really like problem solving, this is cool, its awesome. What I can’t do when I write now is contractions no sorry hominense there, there and there. I never miss. I used to be a writer, I never messed that stuff up. I always get the wrong one now. It’s really weird. Whenever it pouring from my brain it is not working. I consciously do that, I go on proof reading. The worst thing about proofing is that you have to catch that because the spell check doesn’t pick up. That’s why I have (?).
Susan Bratton: Now, the lateral thinking, you are a before and after foster child for this lateral thinking and my understanding of what you mean by lateral thinking is that you can take very desperate concepts and find commonalities or repackage unique things to come up with new and creative views. Did I get that? What are you doing now, now that you have had your brain rewired? What’s happening in your head to allow you to do that because that is a fantastic high-level brain-working thing? What are you doing now that you didn’t do before?
Sean Cummings: It’s the hemispheres that are more wired together. When you are trying to think of that thing and you cant think of it, you just forget the things that you can connect. When all these connections are made, it just you just pick it right out. Its just like it’s right there.
Susan Bratton: Didn’t you loose connections. How did you gain connections?
Sean Cummings: Yes, I lost my completely vertical thought connections with quatitive work. I used to be able to tell you which numbers were prime, the multiplied two three digit numbers do all that stuff. I was very linear mathematical scientist and could do all that. Just very quantitative and then afterwards I couldn’t do it anymore. It’s like my brain just kept on. I have off life synsthesisia, which is –
Susan Bratton: Could you just describe it for our listeners. It is unusual but it is--like a couple of the population has synsthesisia.
Sean X. Cummings: Synthesisia has various manifestations. The most common ones I think are smells and also sights. Someone will say something you have an emotional trigger. You’ll see an image like a little squiggly image in my head. You can think about the same thing or the same word and constantly see the exact same image. Certain words have certain images. I don’t have a lot of them but there are certain of them. It is certainly weird. The first time it happened and I’m in hospital and I’m like wow because it’s like--you think you are freaking out. The brain has already gone on a wack mode.
Susan Bratton: there are people when you say the word house they smell bacon. It’s very odd.
Guest 1: It’s like about the man who chased the chips.
Susan Bratton: My father is synthesithetic and he sees color for numbers so for every number, if you gave him a number 4, 752, he could tell you what color it is. Everything is colors to him. I know it is very unusual, very creative. Lets hear, I want to ask you a couple of more things. When you came over to the studio today, you rode a motorcycle. I know you are wearing a shirt that says ducati, is your motorcycle ducati?
Sean Cummings: My motorcycle is a ducati.
Susan Bratton: That’s a pretty – that’s like a sexy Italian macho, stud guy motorcycle, right?
Guest 1: because I’m a macho, sexy, Italian stud guy.
Susan Bratton: You are not Italian. He is not Italian at all.
Sean Cummings: go with me here, okay. Your listeners cannot see me. I’m dark and handsome okay I’m Irish.
Susan Bratton: You are, you look Irish. You have a ducati, which is a fabulous motor cycle, people would love to have that and you said that this is the best biking in America. Tell us your favorite—describe visually with colors and bacon smells, your favorite stretch of roads. Take us on little trip.
Sean X. Cummings: When you come down from the city down skyline drive. It’s just there are curves throughout the woods and you get some of the eucalyptus trees and get some of the smells an you get some of the musty, oaky smells and it’s this great curvy road and all of the sparkle of alices where everybody goes to and then you sort of head out to the coast down that one and you just come up that I think that is devils pass. That’s where the rocks and the cars you don’t like that. But when you are out there in the open air and you seeing things and you can smell the surf and the water comes and the sun is setting because you are on the west coast, it’s amazing.
Susan Bratton: That sounds really nice. Can you fit a girl on that thing?
Sean X. Cummings: You bet I can.
Susan Bratton: Good. Okay, I’m working for you here, I’m totally working for you. I think this is going to be my last question for you and it is about your mentor. You said when I asked you about your mentor. You said you recently lost your dad, is it too sensitive for me to ask you about that?
Sean X. Cummings: No.
Susan Bratton: Okay, you told me that you had recently lost him. You recently lost your dad which has given you-- about a year ago?
Sean X. Cummings: Actually over the holidays.
Susan Bratton: Oh! It just happened, six months ago.
Sean X. Cummings: December the 27th.
Susan Bratton: You told me he was your mentor. I want you to tell me what was it that he did because most of the people who are listening, they may not be dazzling, they maybe mums buts it’s really important for us to understand after our parents are gone, what that lasting impact was and how he delivered that for you to the last point where you said that that man was your mentor?
Sean X. Cummings: You talked earlier about how people demonstrate the love to each other. I play sports; I played a lot of sports growing in high school and everything else. I played football, rugby and baseball starring teams and my dad was traveling. He flew through 300,000 miles in one year. We were actually in Belgium at the time and he never missed a single game I played.
As I got older, and I realized how difficult my travel was right now, how I missing this or missing that, he would schedule trips through Belgium where he is there for 12 hours and getting in another plane to go-- he did his whole schedule around it. He was Irish so he wasn’t the most emotional man in the world but he did demonstrate stuff like that, and he always gave me really good advise. He was not this, oh! Sean, it’s going to be okay, he was like, Hey, buck your self up, pick yourself up and get better.
No one is going to do it for you. He came out of four duperchi the blonks. He is that story about walked up hill the school both ways and through the snow and--but he really did grow up in an environment and he got himself out. Put himself through college, graduated when he was 20. I mean just brilliant.
Susan Bratton: If I had to rap it up. What I heard you say was, not only did he share the rough stories of life and let you know that not everything is not perfect and that you can live through it. He lived by example for you and that is really important but it was really his presence and his focus that was the thing that made you see his love and made you want to also offer that to the people that you love.
Sean X. Cummings: He was always there and I never realized how much he was really there until he was gone.
Susan Bratton: Yes. I know. He is lucky to have you as a son and obviously he did many right things and you have a fun summer planned where you are going to go and do some crazy things. What do you think might just be two or three things that you are going to do with your time while you take some time of now.
Sean X. Cummings: I’m definitely going to ride up to (?) just hang out do photography, I love photography and that is a great place.
Susan Bratton: do you do any climbing? Are you?
Sean X. Cummings: I do not do climbing.
Susan Bratton: You are not going to go half time or anything (?)
Sean X. Cummings: I may go up half time. I may try it so I am a hiker, I do stuff like that but I’m not a climber, climber.
Susan Bratton: So you are semi this one.
Sean X. Cummings: I’m semi this one I definitely want to get up to oregan do some fishing. On the coast to do some fishing. Don’t know what else I’m doing at this point, my plans tend to be very last minute. It’s just sort of Wow! We are going to (?) I think.
Susan Bratton: We are going. You are going to go out and buy some fake fur.
Sean X. Cummings: For a 112 degrees heat.
Susan Bratton: It gets cold in the night when you are out. You stay in during the day and go out in the night. All right, we will see you at Burmigham(?) we’ll hear about that I hope. You will still be writing for I media right?
Sean X. Cummings: I’ll still be writing, I have a weekly column for I media called the x factor that’s published every Tuesday, I should go down load it and read it because I’m kind of like you said I’m the (?) columnist. I throw my stakes in the ground on some controversial issues and I say look, tell me why I am wrong. I actually want you to tell me why I am wrong because intelligent debate is what moves our industry forward. It doesn’t move our industry forward when we are all pattings each other on the back and telling each other how great we are. It moves each other forward when we are debating the issues that are going to really help us change the industry.
Susan Bratton: Alright, so we are on for some debate about social media PR. Maybe that’s the next stop for us. We will see what everybody thinks so Sean X. Cummings, thank you so much for coming on today’s issue today (?) and helping me celebrate my 50th episode on personal life meeting.
Sean X. Cummings: Thank you very much.
Susan Bratton: All right. Well for texts and transcripts of the show, you can go to personal life media dot com. If you enjoyed this fun show with Sean I’d love for you to forward it to a friend or ten. Feel free to post it on your face book page or my space page, anywhere that you’d like off course I’d like that. It’s been great to have some time with you today. Thank you so much for letting us have so much fun. All right, have a great day; I’m your host Susan Bratton. I’ll see you next week.