Terry Tucker – Truth is the Bedrock of My Soul (326)

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Terry Tucker is a motivational speaker, author, and international podcast guest on the topics of motivation, mindset, and self-development. He has a business administration degree from The Citadel (where he played NCAA Division I college basketball) and a master’s degree from Boston University. 

In his professional career, Terry has been a marketing executive, a hospital administrator, a SWAT Team Hostage Negotiator, a high school basketball coach, a business owner, a motivational speaker, and for the past ten years, a cancer warrior (which has resulted in the amputation of his foot in 2018 and his leg in 2020). 

He is the author of the book, Sustainable Excellence, Ten Principles To Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life, and the developer of the Sustainable Excellence Membership. Terry has also been featured in Authority, Thrive Global, and Human Capital Leadership magazines.

You won’t want to miss this fascinating episode!

To Learn More about Terry, please see the links below:

To Connect with Mike:

Website: https://mikemalatesta.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemalatesta/

And now here’s Terry Tucker.

Full transcript below

Video With Terry Tucker – Truth is the Bedrock of My Soul

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Podcast with Terry Tucker. Truth is the Bedrock of My Soul.


people, life, terry, negotiator, dad, coach, talk, truth, wife, law enforcement, foot, podcast, person, chicago, wendy, story, happened, high school, mom, listening


Terry Tucker, Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta  00:07

Hi everyone, Mike Malatesta here and welcome back to the “How’d It Happen? Podcast. On this podcast. I dig in deep with every guest to explore the roots of their success, to discover not just how it happened, but why it matters. My mission is to find and share stories that inspire, activate and maximize the greatness in you. Hey, Terry, Welcome to the How’d It Happen Podcast.

Terry Tucker  00:39

Well, thanks for having me. Mike. I’m looking forward to talking with you today.

Mike Malatesta  00:42

Terry and I had a chance to get together by phone or like a zoom a month or so ago. And I was just so blown away by him, and not just like his story, because you’re going to be blown away by his story. But just, you know, there was like this, even though you know we’re kind of from the same area, at least now. You know, he grew up in the Chicago area, and I’ve been in Wisconsin for a long time. It felt like there was this, I don’t know, kind of like he’s a guy that you feel a connection to. That’s, I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. And so I’m really excited to have the opportunity to have him on today. Let me tell you a little bit about Terry before we get started, so you can get as excited as I am about this podcast. Terry Tucker is a motivational speaker and author and, and international podcast guest on the topics of motivation, mindset, and self-development. He has a business administration degree from the Citadel, where he also played division one college basketball, and a master’s degree from Boston University. And Terry, what about the law degree? Do you have a law degree or …

Terry Tucker  01:49

I did not finish law school. I was trying to work fulltime and go to law school fulltime, and I needed a job to pay the bills. So I did not finish.

Mike Malatesta  01:58

Okay. So, but he so he’s been to law school. He’s got his master’s, got his undergrad. So he’s, he’s been around in the educational and the academic world. So in his professional career, and this is one of the things I like most about Terry is this guy’s a reinvention architect when I calm? He’s been a marketing executive, including a stint at Wendy’s early in his career. You didn’t do that, Where’s the beef? Did you? 

Terry Tucker  02:28

I didn’t do that. But I was there when it happened. Yeah,

Mike Malatesta  02:32

did you did you meet Clara?

Terry Tucker  02:34

Clara Peller, a little beautician from the south side of Chicago, I never met Claire Beller. She came into the corporate headquarters at all, but yeah, I was there when that happened.

Mike Malatesta  02:44

Okay, and if you’re listening to this, and if you haven’t heard of Clara Peller, or where’s the beef campaign at Wendy’s, I would YouTube that and check it out. It’s pretty funny. So he’s been a marketing executive, a hospital administrator, a SWAT team hostage negotiator, a high school basketball coach, a business owner, a motivational speaker, and for the past 10 years, a cancer warrior, which has resulted in the amputation of his foot in 2018, and his leg in 2020. Terry is also the author of the book, “Sustainable Excellence – 10 Principles to Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life,” and the developer of sustainable excellence membership, which we’ll talk about because I want to learn more about that, for sure. He’s been on, I don’t know, I tried to count the number of podcasts, and thank you for putting the podcasts you’ve been on on your website, Terry. There’s a lot, it’s like 200 or so. And he’s also been featured in a bunch of magazines like Authority, Thrive Global and Human Capital Leadership. You can find Terry on all the socials, his website, as you see it scrolling across here, if you’re watching, is motivationalcheck.com. Probably most active on LinkedIn at Terry Tucker. But if you know he’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all the places you expect. So Terry, I start every show, asking my guests the same simple question and that is, how’d it happen for you?

Terry Tucker  04:12

Yeah, it really kind of happened, like you say, I grew up on the south side of Chicago. I’m the oldest of three boys. You can’t tell this from looking at me but I’m six foot eight. And as you mentioned, I played college basketball at the Citadel. I have a brother who’s six seven, who pitched for the University of Notre Dame another brother who’s six foot six who was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers the National Basketball Association and then my dad was six five so I sort of joked that if you sat behind our family in church growing up, not a prayer’s chance you’re going to see anything you know that was going on in front, but our five foot eight inch mother was always the boss. It started for me with my parents because you know, I am not a, you know, “my dad was an alcoholic and he beat my mom.” I came from a great family. But I came from a family that was always on the go, that was always doing, you know, athletic stuff. And my parents, I think, modeled what a family was about, you know, we’re going to care about each other, we’re going to love each other, we’re going to support each other, we’re going to be there for each other. And that’s really how it started for me, and I think it has kind of dribbled down through the years, and family. You know, my faith, my family and my friends, I talk about my three F’s, are really the things that have gotten me through all the different stages of my life where I’ve had problems and the people who I’ve wanted to share things with, when things went right in my life. So I’m gonna say it started with my mom and dad, and I’m very glad because of that.

Mike Malatesta  05:43

So tell me more about mom. So she happens to be my height, about five foot eight. And by the way, I think I mentioned this when we were talking before, but you’re like our family’s worst nightmare. Sitting in front of us at a movie theater. It’s like, oh, God, we had these perfect seats in here come these people down in front, right, and there’s nowhere to move. So tell me, tell me more about your mom. 

Terry Tucker  06:11

She is actually still living. She’s 87 years old. She lives with one of my brothers in Chicago now. But, you know, we were all athletes, even my dad, you know, very, very athletic. And mom was sort of the support system. You know, Mom was always at the store, buying more milk and more meat and things like that to fuel our bodies as we were doing all these different things. I mean, I grew up, you know, as a kid, you know, you played football and you know, then you went into basketball season. And then you went into baseball season. And I ran track in the summer, just to stay in shape for basketball season. So we were always out of the house, always doing stuff. And my dad traveled a lot. My dad actually worked for McDonald’s. I know it’s kind of cool. I ended up working for Wendy’s. My dad worked for McDonald’s, when we lived in Chicago, and he was in real estate. So he was traveling, a great deal. So in addition to everything else that was going on, you know, Mom would stay up late. And, you know, make sure the uniforms were clean. And we had, you know, the lunches packed for school, and she would get up in the morning, and my freshman year in high school, I had to take Latin as a class. And every day our Latin teacher gave us 10 words we had to memorize and have a quiz on, and so mom was always at the bus stop, you know, quizzing me on these words, my brothers will tell you, you know, it’s mom was like, you don’t know these words. Like mom, I’m doing the best I can you know, I’m practicing basketball. I’m coming home at eight o’clock, eating dinner, trying to study, go to bed and get up at five in the morning to hit the bus. So mom was, yeah, I don’t think we appreciated her as much as we do now as adults, what she did for us, she’s kind of the unsung hero of the success that my brothers and I have had.

Mike Malatesta  07:55

And you. You mentioned your high school. And I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you list your high school, which I do, too, and many people don’t. So anytime I find that, I want to ask someone why you felt like it was important to put your high school on your LinkedIn profile.

Terry Tucker  08:11

Well, a couple of things. My brother, my middle brother, the one who was drafted by the Cavaliers in the NBA, has been the principal and for the last three years now the president of Marist High School in Chicago. I think he’s the longest tenured administrator of all the Marist schools around the world. So I also got an incredibly great education from that school. And you know what, I moved to Chicago after my freshman year in high school, my freshman year was at St. Charles in Columbus, Ohio. And so the last three years were at Marist, and I can’t say enough about it. It was just a great school with great teachers, I learned a lot. It was a fun time in my life. And so I certainly want to give them a shout-out and say, Hey, thanks for what you did for me to get me where I am.

Mike Malatesta  09:02

Okay, got it. And your dad so your dad was Ray Kroc’s real estate man, is that what he was?

Terry Tucker  09:09

My dad started out as the regional real estate director in Columbus. That’s where we lived. And that was promoted to national director of real estate. Yeah, knew Ray Kroc. I mean, when they were in Columbus, Ray Kroc used to send a company jet to get my parents and some other people and fly them to the Rose Bowl, because most years, Ohio State was playing, usually USC, and the Rose Bowl, and so they would go out there and Kroc was one of those guys that I remember he had different properties around the United States, Southern Arizona, southern Florida, and any McDonald’s employee, we’re in a register in Minneapolis. And if one of those you wanted to get the condo for a week, if you signed up for it, nobody else did. You got that condo, and all you had to do was get yourself to those properties, and they were totally, you know, you had to buy the groceries. But there was a car there, there was a place to stay, they were beautiful. And Kroc was just that kind of guy. I mean, he took care of his employees. He was a very demanding individual, but he certainly took care of his employees.

Mike Malatesta  10:18

That’s pretty cool. I didn’t know that story about him. So were you the enemy when you went to work at Wendy’s, like with your dad was there…

Terry Tucker  10:24

Nepotism was alive and well in our family, my okay. My dad had just lost his mother. And it’s funny because Dave Thomas and Bob Barney, Dave Thomas started Wendy’s, and Bob Barney was the President, flew into Chicago, and my dad met them on their corporate jet. And they offered him the position of vice president of engineering, construction and purchasing at Wendy’s. And we had lived in Columbus before, Wendy’s is in the suburbs of Columbus. And I think my dad just needed to change. You know, he was very close to his mother, he was an only child. And so he took that job. And I was lucky enough, you know, to get a job in the marketing department, which actually ended up being good, because he got cancer right after I started at Wendy’s. So I was able to kind of help him at the office, get him into the office, get him home at night and stuff like that when he got really sick.

Mike Malatesta  11:23

Okay. And this whole underachieving family that you come from, I’m wondering for you, and maybe you can speak for your brothers or maybe you can’t, but you know, you come, you play division one. Your brother plays Division one. Well, one basketball one baseball, or two basketball, basketball and baseball. Yeah. So when you when you get out of that? Were you thinking like, you know, you could go pro or what, like, when did the real world hit you? And not to say that being a really good athlete isn’t real world. But when did that hit you? And what were you thinking, just because we’re interested in the mindset going on in your family?

Terry Tucker  12:15

Yeah, I mean, I knew early on, I would never make it professionally. I ended up having three knee surgeries in high school. So it’s amazing that I even was able to play division one basketball, and I had a fourth one before my senior year in college. So I was looking, as you said, I was looking, what’s my next career route? What path am I going down, and my grandfather had been a Chicago police officer from 1924 to 1954. He was actually shot in the line of duty with his own gun. It was not a serious injury, got shot in the ankle. But my dad was an infant at the time. And he always remembered the stories my grandmother told of that knock on the door, and then “Mrs. Tucker, grab your son, come with us, your husband’s been shot.” I mean, let’s face it trauma medicine in 1933. It was a whole lot different than trauma medicine today. So when I was expressing an interest in going into law enforcement, my father was ‘absolutely not, you’re going to go to college, you’re going to major in business, you’re going to get out, get married, have 2.4 kids and live happily ever after.’ But that’s what my dad wanted me to do. That was not what I felt my purpose or my passion was. So when I graduated, I had a choice. I could say sorry, Dad, I’m gonna go blaze my own trail, I’m gonna go into law enforcement, or I have love and respect for you, I will go into business. So now if you look at my resume, it makes a little bit more sense that my first two jobs were in business because I did that for my father, and I sort of joke, I do, but every good son did. I waited till my father passed away and then followed my own dreams. And my brothers were, you know, my brothers started out in different jobs. The one who’s been the president emeritus, the principal at Marist, started out in sales, and then got an opportunity to go to go into education, liked it, liked coaching, liked teaching, and then got into administration. And he’s been there for a long time, and he’s done a great job. My other brother is a basketball coach and a guidance counselor at Barrington High School on the north side of Chicago. So, you know, I think that we’ve, we like to educate, we like to help people, we’d like to make a difference in the world, not that there’s anything wrong with making a lot of money and things like that and start your own business. I’ve certainly done that. But it’s been more about what we can give back, not so much what we can do to fill ourselves up.

Mike Malatesta  14:36

And was that really the thing that made you revisit being a police officer, your dad passing away, or was there something else going on, Terry?

Terry Tucker  14:49

That was it really, it was my passion? I mean, I learned a lot at Wendy’s. I learned a lot being a hospital administrator, but it just wasn’t the thing that got me up in the morning. Learning, you know, I couldn’t wait to go to work. When I was a police officer, I couldn’t wait to go to work. It’s like, what’s going to happen today, it was always something different. It was always something new. It was being able to talk to people, and from time to time, I have people — not so much anymore, because law enforcement isn’t a job that most people want to get into anymore — but people, you know, ask me, what do I need to do to be a good cop, and I always tell them, put your devices down, go out on the street, talk to the homeless guy, you know, go up to the penthouse, talk to that person. If you can talk to people, you will be good as a police officer; if you can’t, you’re just going to be frustrated by the fact that you know, what people say, what they don’t say and how they say it. And if you can understand those nuances, and that applies not just to law enforcement, I think that applies, you know, to business or education or any field that you’re in to be the ability to communicate and communicate effectively.

Mike Malatesta  15:59

Yeah. And get to know people. Before there’s a stressful situation. That right, like I would think as a police officer, the better you know people before something goes wrong, the better you’re going to be able to manage the situation and deal with the person, right? Because it seems like that’s what you see so much. Now, at least the stuff that goes viral and all, the police officers show up on a situation that they’re unprepared for. And it’s an aggressive situation. It’s not like, yo, hey, how you doing? You know, it’s like, it’s aggressive and you don’t know the person. If you don’t know the person. Yeah, what else can you do except be aggressive? That’s like human nature, it seems like, but so is that. What’s your perspective on that?

Terry Tucker  16:48

Yeah, I mean, if you’re a good beat officer, you know if you know the people in the area that you’re patrolling. And you know, before, the other thing I did in law enforcement, is I was an undercover narcotics investigator, in addition to being to being a SWAT negotiator, but for about five years, after I got out of the Academy, I ran a beat, I ran an area in a marked car and uniform. And a good beat person knows the people on their beat and law enforcement, like business, you know, the 8020 rule applies, you know, 80% of the crime is committed by 20% of the individuals. So if you know who those people are, you know where they live, you know where their mothers live, you know where their baby mamas live, you know that stuff. So when somebody says, Hey, we’re looking for a guy that matches this description, oh, yeah, that’s Peanut, or that’s whatever it is, well, he lives here, and his mom lives there and stuff like that. So you can assist people, you know, these wonderful homicides, if he’s wandering for robbery or something like that. And detectives are looking for him, you can help with that. So you’re absolutely right. And it helps to know the people and, and it helps to just get out and talk to the dope boys on the corner and stuff like that. It’s like, Hey, I’m not here to arrest or anything, just what’s going on? You know, tell me about that. Because now you’re human to them, you know, and now they are human to me. It’s not just that’s a bad guy. And so, yeah, developing relationships, developing trust in any kind of organization, in any kind of job is important, and probably equally important in law enforcement as well.

Mike Malatesta  18:28

And I feel like listening to you, I feel like it had to be maybe even more of a challenge for you. Because it’s, you know, when you’re six foot eight, you just don’t show up. And by the way, I don’t know how you become an undercover at six foot eight. So you, you figure out a way to get small, I guess. But yeah, I mean, just coming onto the scene. Just one look at you. And people, I’m sure, were intimidated, right. It’s just kind of natural. Like this is a big deal.

Terry Tucker  19:01

Yeah, I mean, I was 6’8,  240 pounds, you put the hat on me, you know, put all the gear on me and you know, very few people wanted to try me just because you’re right. I was an imposing figure. And I ran with a partner who was in the academy with me for a number of years and it was a woman, and she was pretty petite. But she also had a black belt in karate and a master’s degree in counseling and she was as tough as nails, but you know, her dad used to always say when the bullets start flying, can you hide behind terror?

Mike Malatesta  19:35

Okay, well fortunate hopefully that didn’t happen and she didn’t need to do that. So you became a SWAT team hostage negotiator. It seems like hostage negotiators are like the thing. You know, if you’re a hostage negotiator, people want to listen to you and you’ve got these, you know, tremendous experiences. What made you want to do that and tell us a story or two about it. 

Terry Tucker  20:02

Sure. So, you know SWAT in most city or county law enforcement agencies, they’re usually the best officers, they get the best training, they get the best equipment. And I’ve always wanted to be in my life associated with the best. And so when there was an opening on the negotiating portion of Swat, I put in for it. And for those who don’t understand how SWAT’s divided up, it’s usually a tactical team and a negotiating team. And the tactical people are the ones with all the guns and the toys, and all that kind of stuff. And the negotiators are the ones who, if they do their job, prevent the tactical team from using all their guns and toys and all that kind of stuff. So sometimes they’re happy with us, sometimes they’re not. But our job was to basically try to solve a problem that maybe has been festering for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, and comes to a head on a particular day or time, it always seems like it came to a head, you know, sort of in the middle of the night kind of thing. I’ll tell you a couple stories. This is totally an atypical negotiation. It never, never went this way other than this one. And it’s kind of a funny story. I happened to be working that night, I got to the scene fairly quickly. And I asked the uniformed officers, what’s the deal? He’s drunk, he’s barricaded himself in his house with a gun and his wife like, Okay, do you have him on the phone? Yes, we do. Let me talk to him. So I started talking to him. And one of the things about negotiating, and the same way, if you think about a relationship between a parent and child, a husband and wife, a boss, or subordinate, you have to develop trust with the individual. And sometimes that takes hours to do. So you don’t usually ask early on in the negotiation for the person to come out or to let a hostage go or something like that. So I’m talking to this guy. And I just had a feeling, so I said to him, what would it take for you to come out? And there was like a long pause at the other end of the phone. And then I hear, give me a beer. And I was like, if I gave you a beer, Do I have your word that you would let your wife go and you would come out? He said, Do I have your word I could drink? I said You have my word you could drink? Do I have your word you will let your wife go and come out? He said, Yeah. So I gave one of the officers $5 to get out to the store, buy a beer, the tactical team put it on the front porch, and I call them back. I said your beer’s on the front porch. But you don’t get it until your wife comes out. You come out with your hands up. He said, Do I still have your word that I can drink? I said You have my word. All of a sudden, the front door flies open, here comes his wife here he comes with his hands up, we handcuff him, let him drink his beer and off the jail he goes. And the thing about that is, you know, it’s a funny story. And like I said, totally atypical of what we did. But the important thing about that is that he trusted me, and I never lied to him. And that’s one thing we never did as a negotiator, we’d never lie. We had people say to us, hey, I’ll come out. But you gotta promise me, I’m not going to go to jail. And we would have to say, well, when you come out, you are going to go to jail. And then we would try to deflect the conversation into something more positive. So that was one atypical negotiation. This other one is a little more serious. This is a gentleman who wanted to commit suicide, and it started probably at eight o’clock in the morning, and he cut his wrists. And that didn’t work for him. And for some reason, he thought it was a good idea to turn the gas on and stick his head in the oven. Well, that didn’t work either. Well, then he called a family member and said, Hey, I’ve got a gun. Now I’m gonna kill myself. Well, the family member called the police and we had surrounded the house and I was talking to him. It’s probably three o’clock in the morning now. And finally, he’s like, you know, Terry, I just, I just want to come out. Okay, do that. I said, Put the gun down, come out. I’ll come down to the scene. And we’ll talk face to face. And he’s like, okay, I’d like that. I said, but don’t hang up the phone, bring the phone with you. Well he hangs up the phone, which is not uncommon because we’re conditioned that when a conversation is over to hang it up. Not 20 seconds later, one of the tactical officers comes on the radio and says we heard a gunshot. I thought oh my god, you didn’t shoot yourself. He did shoot himself in the head, but he shot himself at an angle that the bullet went in on his temple hair underneath his skin around his skull and came out the other side,  it never penetrated his skull never got to his brain. Now it’s an incredibly bloody scene because head wounds bleed more than most other wounds. But that was a situation where I always say, you know, when it’s your time, that was God’s way of saying no, not your time yet. We don’t want you up here three times in one night. So that was a big part of it. But again, developing that trust. And I always talk about how people used to say, Oh, great job, you talked somebody out. We didn’t really talk people out. We listened people out. And you know, I wrote a chapter in my book about the importance of listening and people like Well, of course everybody listens. People don’t. I talk about listening to understand, first as listening to reply, you know, it’s like, hurry up, Mike, say what you’re gonna say, because I want to get my two cents in versus, Oh, I hear what you’re saying, Mike, I may agree with you, I may not agree with you, but help me understand where you’re coming from — that’s listening to understand. And that’s not something we’re very good at, I think all around the world at this point in time.

Mike Malatesta  25:19

I think you’re right. It’s definitely a struggle. I struggle with it. But I always think that so often people feel like if they don’t interrupt you that they’ve listened, but they’re still you know, waiting for you to stop so that they can come back at, you know, with whatever they want to come back with, or worse, they’re just bored. And they’re just so concerned about something else. Both of those stories, though, that struck me. Well, a few things struck me one, you said I’ll come down to the scene. So obviously, these were both taking place by phone, but where are you in proximity to what’s happening? Can you see what’s happening? And how important is that?

Terry Tucker  26:02

Not usually, I mean, sometimes we would get a tip that a homicide suspect was holed up in apartment, stuff like that. So we’d surround the building, we would put up sometimes ballistic blankets on the walls, we would be outside the apartment. Ballistic blankets just stop bullets. So if somebody started to shoot through the wall in the apartment, they would, they would not come through and get us. And we would negotiate through a door. I never in my career, if I can remember, I never negotiated with anybody face to face, it was usually over a phone. Sometimes we were in a vehicle, you know, sometimes we’d bring the command center out, which is kind of like a mobile home. And we would negotiate, you know, in that. We’d use a throw phone that, I mean, it’s been a while since I’ve done this. And you know, that’s when most people have landlines, we had a group that was attached with the negotiators that were a technical group, they would take down your landline. So they call the phone company, they had a special code with the phone company and take down your landline phone so that you couldn’t call somebody you couldn’t call. And that was a big thing as a negotiator. You know, yes, there was a primary person talking to the individual. But sitting right next to you was another negotiator listening to what was going on. And then there’s four or five other negotiators doing what I used to call working the crowd. So you know, trying to gather intelligence, why are we here? Why did this happen? How did this start? So as a primary, you may get a note from your secondary that said, don’t talk about his mother. Because what started this is he had a big fight with his mother. And sometimes people would be like, you know, I just want to talk to my mother. And we were very cautious about letting people talk to other people, you know, without having rehearsed them. Because a lot of times, yeah, I want to talk to my mother, because as soon as I talk to my mother, I’m gonna kill myself. So we’re like, No, you’re not, you’re not talking to your mom, or you’re not talking to your wife, or your spouse or whatever. So that was a big part of it, listening. And the other part that was important was silence, the way we use silence. So, you know, we would ask them a question, let them burn off a lot of that energy, and then they’d start talking. And we don’t like silence as human beings, we’d like to fill that void. But we would have to just not say anything. And that gets uncomfortable. And then they start talking again, which is exactly what we wanted. And then finally, I’ll just end with this. Negotiating was so exhausting, because of the emotional part of it. So if I’m talking to you, Mike, and you’re ranting and raving and yelling and screaming, what I’m going to do is I’m going to pare it back what you said to me, and I’m going to attach an emotion to it. But if I say, Gee, Mike, you seem a little upset. I’ve totally missed what you’re saying. You’ve got to get down in the mud. You’ve got to get down in the weeds with these people and say, Gee, Mike, you’re pissed as hell at your wife for what? Or whatever? And oh, yeah, Terry understands what I’m saying. And then we would ask them what and how questions, because now they’re engaged in how we’re going to get you out? You don’t know it. But by me asking questions now on helping you brainstorm how this is going to end. Why questions were a little more accusatory. They sound like you know, Oh, you didn’t like what I did. So we kind of stayed away. We used them from time to time, but we stayed away from why questions, we asked how and what questions to engage you to help me get you out safely. And about 90% of the time we did that, we got people out safely. But about 10% of the time people decided, You know what, I’m not going back to prison or I’m not going to jail, and they would choose to end their life. And while that was always tragic, I never lost any sleep over it. And I don’t mean to sound callous with that. But the reason I didn’t was because I knew I did the best I could. I had great training. I worked with people and let’s face it, you know, that would be like me saying alright, this problem has been festering with your neighbor for 40 years. Go over there and solve that. Yeah, it’s just not realistic.

Mike Malatesta  30:07

Right? Or don’t worry about it. Yeah. Just don’t worry about it. Sure. And the story with the guy with the beer struck me so much as people get themselves into something and have no idea why. Right? Like, you know, I’m going to take my wife hostage or whatever. Why? I don’t know, just because I’m kind of pissed off right now. So I’m going to do that. What are you going to watch? what’s the end game on that? I don’t know. What’s gonna happen? I guess it’s a beer. I don’t know what else to ask. Give me a beer. Yeah, I don’t know what else to ask for. So I guess I’ll ask for a beer. And you. So as I understand it, you were a police officer doing this work until you moved from Ohio to Texas, right? What was the reason for that? And where did that lead you?

Terry Tucker  30:56

I mean, my wife has always been the primary breadwinner in our family, she lost her job in Cincinnati and was not able to find another one. She found one in Texas. And so we needed to move. And while I felt that was, you know, law enforcement was my passion. My family was, you know, again, going back to what my parents taught us, my family was more important. So it was like, Okay, I’ll find something else to do. I have education, I have experience. And so I started a school security consulting business. And I worked with private independent schools around the United States to write their policies and procedures on security, do an assessment of their campus, train their employees and things like that. And, and I coached girls’ high school basketball. My daughter, fortunately, or unfortunately, got my height, and also has an NBA three point shooting range. And so I coached her high school basketball team. And  she eventually went on and played for and graduated from the United States Air Force Academy, and is an officer in the new branch of the military, the Space Force now, so you know, my identity wasn’t tied to being a police officer. And I did see a number of officers who had been on the job for, you know, 30, 35, 40 years that couldn’t retire, because their whole identity was tied up into what they did for, you know, for a job and mine wasn’t. And so I I’m not gonna say it was an easy transition. I loved being a cop. But at the same time, I knew there were other things I could do. And my family was just more important than my job.

Mike Malatesta  32:35

And this school security business that you started, I feel like that’s a whole podcast in itself, especially with what’s happened. Probably over the last 20 years, it seems like ,but more recently you hear much more about horrible things that happened in schools that all have a security component to them, and probably a hostage negotiator component to them, as well, some of them. But, so that’d be fascinating work. But I want to just put that aside, because in the interest of time, but I have to know what the Space Force is. I’m not. I’m not familiar with the Space Force.

Terry Tucker  33:16

So the Space Force is a new branch of the military that was started in President Trump’s last year in office. My daughter can’t tell me much about it. All I know is that she flies military satellites around the heavens. So that’s kind of the way I put it with her. It’s like, it’s a new branch. It’s under the Air Force, just like the Marine Corps is under the Department of the Navy. So yeah, she’s had some interesting experiences, most of which she can’t tell us much about.

Mike Malatesta  33:50

Okay. And by piloting, she’s physically not in the satellite, like, did I miss that? You could actually pilot

Terry Tucker  34:03

I mean, she has Air Force wings, they have wings, like pilots have wings and stuff like that. So yeah, it’s kind of interesting.

Mike Malatesta  34:11

Ah, okay. Well, I see a movie coming out. That’s interesting. So the cancer that we mentioned in the bio, and that we talked about, you know, during the first time that you and I chatted, you became aware of that, when? 10,012 2012 

Terry Tucker  34:33

2012. So we were living in Texas, I was a girls high school basketball coach at the time and I had a callus break open on the bottom of my left foot right below my third toe. And initially, I didn’t think much of it because as a coach, you’re on your feet a lot. But after a few weeks of it not healing. I went to see a podiatrist, a foot doctor friend of mine, and he took an X-rays to try to get a little cyst in there and I can cut it out. And he did and he showed it to me, it was a gelatin sack with some white fat in it.  No dark spots, no blood, nothing that gave either one of us concern. But fortunately, or unfortunately, he sent it off to pathology to have it examined. And then two weeks later, I received that call from him. And as I said, he was a friend of mine. And the more difficulty he was having explaining what was going on, the more frightened I was becoming, until finally he just laid it out for me. So Tara been a doctor for 25 years, I have never seen this form of cancer, you have an incredibly rare form of melanoma. And most people think of melanoma as too much exposure to the sun. And it affects the melanin, the pigment in our skin. This has nothing to do with that. But this is a form of melanoma that appears on the bottom of the feet, or the palms of the hands. And he said, because your type is so rare, he recommended I go to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to be treated. And that started this 10-year odyssey.

Mike Malatesta  35:58

And that’s been quite a roller coaster. I mean, if I remember talking to you, you’ve been through periods where, you know, thought you beat it, and then it comes back, re-manifests itself. How you mentioned that you lost your foot and then part and most of your leg and then now, I know it’s in other parts of your body. But what I’m, I guess what I’m most interested in, besides your health, I mean, we can guess how it’s changed your health. But how has it changed you? Because it seems like it’s changed you in a really dramatic way to, I don’t know, make a bigger impact than you’ve probably ever thought you could? 

Terry Tucker  36:49

Absolutely. I mean, you know, we talk a lot of times in life about, you know, finding and living our purpose, or a passion or a Why or whatever you want to call it. And, you know, people always think Well, I’ve got to find that one thing, that’s my purpose. And it’s been my experience in my life that my purpose has changed over my life. You know, when I when I was young, it was basketball. I mean, I drank and slept basketball, and then it was law enforcement. And now it’s with whatever time I have left to put as much goodness, as much positivity, as much motivation, as much love back into the world as I possibly can. And, you know, a lot of times people are like, you know, that’s not real macho, and I’m like, I don’t really care how much macho it is, I am pretty secure in my own self that you know, you want to talk about love. I remember I was a huge fan growing up of a basketball coach at UCLA by the name of John Wooden. And I remember one day, I was listening to an interview that Wooden was giving and the reporter asked him what he thought was the most important thing that he wanted his players to learn or to understand, you know, as players and as human beings, and I’m on the edge of my seat on this interview, I got a notebook and a pencil and I’m writing stuff down on the right, Coach, come on, give me some good X’s and O’s here, and Wooden said the most important thing I want them to understand is love, you know, love for their Creator, love for themselves, love for what they do, love for other people. And I was like, no, no, no, no, come on, give me something good. And I look back now and I’m like, No, love is the most important thing. I mean, most of us were created in love, most of us, you know, hopefully love what we do. We love our families and think that love is the most important thing in the world. And when I heard that when I was a kid, I didn’t understand it, or internalize and try to, you know, basically put it back into the world until I was obviously you know, coming to the end of my life.

Mike Malatesta  38:56

And how do you understand it now?

Terry Tucker  38:59

I realize what’s important. It’s not success. It’s not influence. It’s not money. None of that stuff matters. There’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t get me wrong, but we all think that you know I’ve arrived. Well, you can’t take any of that stuff with you at the end of your life. There’s a story about Alexander the Great. Probably one of the, if not the, greatest conqueror in the world. And I’m not sure their story ever happened, but it’s still a good story that illustrates a good point. Supposedly, as Alexander the Great was dying, he called his counselors around and said, Look, I want you to carry out my final three wishes. My first wish is that I only want my doctors to carry my coffin to my grave. My second wish is that I want the road to the cemetery paved with gold and silver and precious stones. And my third wish is that I want my hands hanging outside my coffin. And one of his counselors said to him, I mean you’re Alexander the Great, you’re the most powerful man in the world, those seem like kind of goofy wishes. And he said, What? Why do you want that? He said, Well, the first thing I want people to understand is that no doctor cures anybody. They just help the body to cure itself. So people should be real cognizant of the things they put into their body and the things they put into their mind. He says, secondly, I’ve spent my entire life accumulating gold and power and riches and influence. And yet none of that is coming with me beyond the grave. And then finally said, I want people to see my hands hanging out of my coffin, because I came into this world empty handed, and I leave it pretty much the same way. So I think, you know, it’s just a good story to help us understand that, yes, it’s important to, you know, to have what we need in life, but we’re so caught up in, I need stuff because it fills me up. And the way I look at it is, I was born full, I need to give back, I need to pour out what I have to other people in the hope that it can help them live a better life. And make no mistake, I don’t have all the answers. I mean, I talked about my story and, and what I’ve learned, I don’t tell you that that’s gonna make you successful or happy or healthy. I tell you what’s worked for me. And if it works for you, then take it, if part of it works for you, then use that and develop your own truths or realities. But I just think it’s not about what we’re trying to fill ourselves up with. It’s about what we’re able to pour ourselves out with to help other people

Mike Malatesta  41:38

You said I was born full. That is tremendous. And I have never heard that before. And I think I wrote it down when you said it, because I’m like I was born full. That’s what’s missing in so many people’s lives is they think they were born empty. Yeah. And they think that they’ve been depleted over time, instead of knowing that they can constantly maybe refill themselves.

Terry Tucker  42:08

Exactly, or that what they have is enough that the love, the kindness, the assistance, you know, of connecting with other people, which we’re just not doing today. You know, if you don’t agree with me, somehow, today, you’re a bad person. You know, why can’t we, as I said, you know, when we’re talking about negotiations, okay, I hear what you’re saying, I may agree with you, I may not agree with you. But help me understand where you’re coming from? Why can’t we do that? And say, Well, Mike, I don’t agree with you. So you’re a bad person? Why are you a bad person, just because.

Mike Malatesta  42:42

I think about that all the time, Terry, you know, you have so many interactions in life. And they’re just normal interactions that humans have, like, you know, in line at a deli or wherever, and you don’t know the person next to you, you strike up a conversation with them, or the person that’s working across the counter or wherever, and it’s like, we’re just two human beings, right. And then we forget that we have that commonality, that bond together. And instead, when we hear something like you sort of referenced like, that you don’t agree with from the person, all of a sudden 99% of the stuff that you do agree on, can get, you know, pushed out the window and the 1% is the one thing that gets hung up on the wall. That’s the difference. That’s, and it’s just, I really have a hard time with that. Because it’s sort of like getting an injury. You get an injury, you’re like, oh, head hurt, like you stub your toe or something, you know, some Oh, man, that hurt. And then you just let it go. And because it goes away, and I think the same thing, those things would all go away if you would just let them.

Terry Tucker  43:53

Yeah. If you would focus more on our commonality or differences. Yes.

Mike Malatesta  43:58

I wonder what Alexander the Great in his coffin would have done to represent that that would have been? Yeah, that would have been cool. Hey, if you go to Terry’s website, Motivational Check, he does a blog. I don’t know if it’s every day, it’s frequent. Just a short little essay, would you call it a blog or an essay? I don’t know. Yeah. But, you know, I watched this video that you had up there with Jordan Peterson, and it was basically talking about truth. And then you have your four truths. And, you know, whenever I watched Jordan Peterson, who by the way if you don’t know him, he’s like a super-famous lecturer. Intellectual I guess. I don’t know what he’s actually ever accomplished. You know, like, I don’t know what he’s done, but I’ve seen him quite often do commencement speeches and stuff. Anyway, he gets going, and I can hardly follow him, he starts talking so much. But in this particular one, he was talking about an interview that he did where the interviewer tried to turn the table on him basically to use the interviewer as an opportunity to make him look bad. But anyway, it was all about him coming back to truth. Like if I say something that I believe to be true, then you know, I’m living the life that I should. And I’m completely simplifying it, but you’re interested in truth, you’ve got your fortress, I want to understand. And if you would share why truth is so important to you? And a little bit about your four truths?

Terry Tucker  45:53

Sure. So I think, you know, truth or what is important, you know, we all get hung up on goals, you know, goals, new year’s resolutions, all those kinds of stuff. And why do most of those fail? The reason I think most of them fail, is because there’s nothing underneath them. There’s no foundation underneath those truths. And to me, before you start making goals, you need to understand what your values are, you know, what’s important to you, you know, what are you willing to die for? What is that important? What is that ingrained in you that you’re willing to give your lung for, and a lot of people don’t, if you ask people that they’d be, I don’t know, maybe my family, maybe, you know, they don’t know what their values are. If you know what your values are, now you’ve got a foundation, and you can build goals and obtain those goals based on those values. So those have been incredibly important in making these four truths. Because I’ve looked at what I call these four truths, sort of the bedrock of my soul, they’re just a good place to build a quality life off of, and I’ll give them to you, I have them on a post-it note right here, I see them multiple times during the day, and they’re constantly reinforced in my brain. So the first one is this: control your mind or your mind is going to control you. The second one is: embrace the pain and the difficulty that we all experience in life, and use that pain and difficulty to make you a stronger and more resolute individual. The third one I look at is more of a of a legacy kind of truth. And it’s this: what you leave behind is what you weave in the hearts of other people. And the fourth one: as long as you don’t quit, you can never be defeated. So I look at those truths, as I said, as sort of the bedrock of my soul. And I make decisions off of that, should I take this therapy? Should I get involved in this project and things like that, based on what I know is true for me, and what is important to me in my life. And the other part of that, and I talk about this occasionally, is what I call my three F’s, which are faith, family, and friends, because those are also incredible things that I take into account whenever I’m going to do something.

Mike Malatesta  48:13

And let me ask a couple questions about those truths. So with legacy, you reference that number three, what you leave behind. You know, it’s sort of a legacy thing. And I’m wondering, like, for you, how do you think about legacy? Well, let me stop there. How do you think about legacy for you and for and for everyone?

Terry Tucker  48:43

I don’t. And I’ve been asked this quite often, you know, how do you want to be remembered and things like that? I don’t, I mean, I’m realistic enough to know that, you know, probably 50 years after I’m dead, nobody’s ever going to remember I was here, so it’s not so much what I leave Yes, I’ve written a book and that’ll outlive me and things like that. But for me is what am I again going back to, what am I pouring out now? What am I giving of myself to the people I come in contact with? I made a very conscious decision when I got cancer, that I was never going to take my misfortune out on a doctor or nurse or a therapist or somebody that was trying to help me, and I’ve seen so many people do that, so many people lash out, and I know why; they’re afraid and you know, they’re not centered. They’re all over the place, you know, they’re kind of like a super ball, you know, they’re just bouncing all over the place and what’s driving them is fear, the fear of the unknown, what’s going to happen, am I going to die and stuff like that? Yeah, okay, we’re all gonna die. You know, and I think that legacy truth to me, when I found out I was gonna have my leg amputated and I have these tumors in my lungs, I went with my wife to the mortuary to the cemetery and to the church, and I planned my funeral. And because I go on these podcasts where I speak in person about motivation and the need to keep moving forward, I got some brush back from people who were like, you know, don’t you think that’s kind of defeatist planning your own funeral? And I looked at him like, well, the last time I checked, we’re all gonna die. I don’t think anybody’s working on a cure for life right now. Right. And I heard a Native American Blackfoot proverb years ago, that goes like this. When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way so that when you die, the world cries, and you rejoice. That’s what I want. That’s what I’m looking for.

Mike Malatesta  50:45

Okay, that’s pretty cool. Thanks for sharing that. And in the person who pushed back, I’m thinking to myself, well, so what would be better, for me to leave that responsibility to somebody else when I’m done?

Terry Tucker  50:56

Yeah, I mean, I buried my father, I remember, you know, him dying and having to go with my mother. And you know, how exhausted we were mentally and physically having to plan that funeral. I mean, when I die, one phone call, boom, it’s done. Right. And, you know, my family will be together and grieve and or throw a party or do whatever they want to do.

Mike Malatesta  51:17

And on the legacy thing, I didn’t want to come across like I was asking you what you think your legacy was, I’m just curious about legacy. It’s a topic that really interests me, because I feel like so many people spend a lot of their lives concerned about what people are going to think about them after they’re gone. And I think to myself, that’s just a lot of wasted time. Because, you know, be kind, love all the things you’ve been saying. And people will think of you whatever they think of you, there’s nothing you can do about what people think about you. And once you’re gone, you’re gone.,

Terry Tucker  51:53

You’re right, and we do we spend so much time thinking about, you know, comparing ourselves to other people, I’ve even had people do it to me that are sick. It’s like, you know, well, you’re suffering more than I am, or I’m suffering more. We’re all on our own journey. Why are you looking at me and say, you know, you’re worse than me, or you’re better than me? Deal with your journey. You know, don’t compare yourself. But we do that, we spend so much time saying, oh, you know, that person has a bigger house or makes more money or drives a nicer car. So they’re better than me, or they’re more successful? That’s their journey. What’s your journey? Right? You know, I always tell people why compare yourself to other people? Why not just get 1%? better every day? Are you better today than you were yesterday? If you were, that’s good enough. Don’t worry about I’m better than the guy next to me. And even when we played basketball, yeah, we played against another team. But we were always really playing against ourselves. You know, did we get better? Are we a better team today than we were the last game we played? If we were, even if we’ve lost, we’re moving in the right direction.

Mike Malatesta  53:01

So true. And your book, Terry, came out like about two years ago, at the time that we’re recording this podcast, Sustainable Excellence – 10 Principles to Leading your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life. What prompted you to write the book? And why?

Terry Tucker  53:28

The why is the easier question. The Why is because I was supposed to, you know. There’s kind of that old joke that says, when we talk to God, it’s called prayer. When God talks to us, it’s called schizophrenia. So God never told me to write a book, I just want to make sure you know that people understand that. But I think what God does is put people in our path that start making the same suggestion over and over and over. I know that’s happened to me several times in my life. And I’m smart enough now. We’re old enough now, whatever, wise enough now to realize that I need to pay attention to that. So people were saying you should write a book, you should. And I was totally like no, I’m not an author. I’m not going to do that. I shouldn’t do that. But more and more people kept doing it. The book was really born out of two conversations I had, one was with a former player that I had coached in high school who had moved to Colorado with her fiance, and my wife and I had dinner with them one night. And after dinner, I said to her, you know, I’m really excited that you’re living close now. And I can watch you find and live your purpose. And she got real quiet for a while. And then she looked at me and she said, Well, Coach, what do you think my purpose is? I said, I have no idea what your purpose is. But that’s what your life should be about. Find the reason you were put on the face of this earth, use your unique gifts and talents and live that reason. So that was one conversation. And then the second one was with a young man in college who reached out to me on social media, and he asked me what I thought were the most important things that he should learn to not just be successful in his job or in business, but to be successful in life, and I thought about it for a while, you know, I didn’t want to give him the get up early, work hard, help others, not that those aren’t important, those are incredibly important. But I wanted to see if I could go deeper with him. So I spent some time and I was taking some notes. And, you know, eventually I had these 10 thoughts, these 10 ideas, these 10 principles. And so I sent them to him. And then I kind of stepped back and I was like, I got a life story that fits underneath that principle, or I know somebody whose life emulates that principle. So literally, during the period where I was healing, after I had my leg amputated, I sat down at the computer every day, and I built stories, and they’re real stories about real people underneath each of the principles. And that’s how Sustainable Excellence came to be.

Mike Malatesta  55:50

Two conversations. It’s amazing. It just goes to show you, you know, you never know. Like we talked earlier about people sort of, you know, dismissing people because of something they say or whatever, but you never know, a conversation you’re gonna have or a person you’re going to meet, that’s just going to change everything for you, that’s going to be that idea you’ve been looking for, is going to be that person that you need or the support that you you’ve been searching for. It’s just really cool. And this young man in college just reached out to you out of the blue, so even though this person didn’t …

Terry Tucker  56:34

yeah, he was, uh, he was attending the Citadel all at the time. So there was a connection, we both went to the same school, but I mean, like, you know, 35 years apart. But yeah, other than that, I had no idea who he was.

Mike Malatesta  56:48

So, go to Amazon right now, buy Terry’s, Sustainable Excellence — 10 Principles to Lead an Uncommon and Extraordinary Life. It’s got tremendous reviews, almost all five-star reviews, which is amazing. Congratulations. His website is motivationalcheck.com. Terry, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing not only your inspirational thoughts and mindset, I won’t say story because your story is just like everybody else’s story. They’re all inspirational, right? But I love that you’ve got this thing on your website, too, called inspiring people to lead uncommon and extraordinary lives. I think that’s your, your thing I said I was going to get to and then didn’t. Sustainable excellence membership? Why don’t you say what that is real quick before we get off? Because I don’t want to miss that. 

Terry Tucker  57:42

The membership, you know, people were, hey, you know, they’ve read the book, heard me talk or heard me on these podcasts. And they’re like, you know, we’d like to take that deeper, we’d like to, you know, and I was really hesitant to do that, because it was like, Look, I’m still in treatment for cancer. And that’s a lot of work and, but eventually enough people were like, hey, we’d like you to do this. Could you develop a membership around the 10 principles in your book? And so I’ve just started and it’s really kind of in its infancy right now. Be interesting to see where it goes, if it if it gets traction or not. But you know, it’s something for me to do again, something different, that hopefully will help other people.

Mike Malatesta  58:21

Alright, thank you for the work that you’re doing. Thank you for being the person that you are. And while you’ve been on this roller coaster, I know you’re still on this roller coaster. I certainly wish the best for you as I know everyone listening does. But in the meantime, boy, oh boy, you are really making good use of every minute that you’re here, Terry, and it’s been just an honor to talk to you today. Thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Terry Tucker  58:47

Thanks for having me on. I always say it’s nice people like you that allow me to come out and have a conversation with them. And hopefully that conversation makes a positive difference in somebody’s life. And if it does, today’s been a good day.

Mike Malatesta  1:01:49

Terry, thank you. Thank you so much. And you know, it’s always a challenge when you’ve got someone who’s been, you know, on as many shows as you to get to something that’s a little different. I don’t know if I did, but I was.

Terry Tucker  1:01:59

Absolutely, yeah, I appreciate that. Okay,

Mike Malatesta  1:02:16

Yeah. My pleasure. Enjoy your day. Thank you.

Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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