Brant Hansen joins Sarah Taylor on Ep. 5 of the Passion Meets Purpose podcast. He talks about his journey being on the spectrum and how it has played into his purpose. “Let’s leave the big picture to God, be faithful to those in our path and then see how God works.” – Brant
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Brant Hansen: There’s something about just saying, how can I add value to people’s lives? Let me be passionate about that. And then let God have the blueprints for the big picture. Instead of having this big vision, I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that. And there’s such, that’s such a temptation. The sooner you can get out of that and actually get into the passion of
how you actually add value to people’s lives and then God can take care of the rest of this stuff. The big picture, leave that to God and then commit your daily stuff. Jesus even said, pray for the resources for today, your daily bread, be faithful whoever comes across your path today and then see 10 years from now, like, huh?
I didn’t even plan that. So I know who’s responsible for wasn’t me.
Sarah Taylor: That is this week’s guest Brant Hansen, and so much more where that came from one of my favorite conversations, we’re going to get straight to it, by the way, my name is Sarah Taylor. You’ve got the passion meets purpose podcast. You’re already aware of that.
The mission of this podcast is basically to help you, as you navigate through like the union unique talents that you were given. Maybe you’ve noticed them since childhood, or maybe just recently. I’ve been feeling that stirring on the inside that creative desire to do something new. And you also want to give back to the world.
That’s the purpose part. So without further ado, let’s begin our conversation with Brant Hansen.
One of the things that I love hearing about where our passions come from Brant, is actually a lot of them stem from childhood. What were you like as a little boy?
Brant Hansen: Uh, I was pretty quiet and bookish and studious, and I love my dog. I honestly spent a lot of time trying to imagine things that were far out because our home was not awesome.
I always struggled to talk about it. I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus. And I love both my mom and dad and my mom raised us essentially after divorce and then remarriage to each other and then divorce again. It was, it was scary. My mom would, my mom would sign on to that, like that, we went through a lot as a family.
That was scary. So I would hide like on the bathroom floor, I’d lock myself in and make up stories or whatever it was. It was my way of kind of avoiding the drama that was going on in the house and the trauma. My dad and I have a good relationship now. He’s trying to finish strong and I’m rooting for him, but that was the story.
I mean, it was, it was very intense and dramatic. It’s weird because you kind of think that’s your normal, right. It’s only later in life that I realized, you know, what was messed up. Like, I guess I knew it was messed up at the time, but not, not as much as I realize now, like that’s a tough thing. It’s very shaping and it was all done in this sort of religious milieu
And it’s in this soup of, of very Bible centric Christianity in a sense. Um, but my dad was a pastor. So we got a lot of preaching, a lot of church in, a lot of sermons, a lot of stuff, a lot of church stuff. That, that was a factor in shaping who I was and am. Also another complicating factor perhaps is I’ve been diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum and
I wasn’t diagnosed until later in life, but that helped me understand a lot of how I was processing things and dealing with things and why I didn’t quite catch on socially when I was in school. I had, I had my big brother who was super cool. And so he helped me in some ways. And he, his friends became my friends and whatnot, but I was always a little odd and didn’t date or anything like that.
So. That wasn’t something I understood what was going on until later in life. And that, that diagnosis was actually really helpful for me to understand, oh, that’s what that was about. That explains middle school and high school. And, uh, yeah, so there’s a very long answer to a very short question. What were you like when you were younger?
There you go.
Sarah Taylor: There are so many statements you just made that I see already the redeeming factor to each of those things in the way that you live your life right now.
Brant Hansen: I think that’s true. I think. There’s I think there’s a lot of things looking back and I wouldn’t have picked any one of these things.
Not at all. That’s something I’ve, I’ve told people before, like, look in your own biography. There’s there’s pain and awkwardness and hurt. It a weakness, but that’s often what winds up being your commensurate strengths, and it’s helped me be very much more empathetic than I would have been. It helps me as a communicator to be more imaginative.
Uh, it helps me to be a storyteller and that’s what I did. I mean, it was a kid. It helps me with my sense of humor. Like I’m on the air and my sense of humor is a big part of, uh, part of the show. I can’t not be, even if you don’t like it. I mean, somebody may listen to the show and think it’s terrible and not understand my sense of humor, but as this definitely a big part of the show and my operational theory is that’s a result of pain.
We endure things when we’re younger and it shapes our sense of humor. And I viewed the world through an absurdist lens and everything I see is ultimately really funny to me, but that’s from, you go through enough stuff you have to deal with it. None of that stuff, it comes back on the, on the back end and you can go, oh, wait a second.
God did something with this. And I think it’s to be a blessing to other people. It doesn’t mean that I’m glad it happened, but I sort of am like, maybe I am glad it happened. I wouldn’t want to go through it again ever. But it’s how I live my life now is shaped by all this stuff that I would never have wanted to go through, in a good way.
Sarah Taylor: You obviously felt, and you’ve spoken about this growing up even before the diagnosis of Asperger’s, uh, just, you know, dealing with it before you even knew what it was. You just knew that you were different. No, it’s not lost on us that you are show the brand and Sherry show is designed to be a place for misfits.
Right. If you feel like you don’t belong, then you belong at this show. And so much of that has been shaped in your own life. You also have a book called Blessed Are the Misfits. Like why do you have a heart for those who feel outcast? And why is that your target to draw in?
Brant Hansen: Happens is a lot of people on the spectrum are this way.
I mean, it’s, it’s shaped by my faith for sure, but I’m kind of drawn to my faith because of being on the spectrum, I think. For a lot of people on the spectrum, they may not put that together. But that’s because a lot of us have a cartoon I would call it version of Jesus in our heads. And that’s not even our fault necessarily,
it’s just the way our culture talks about him. But as I read about him and I want to know who he really is. Cause I so distrustful of what I went through as a kid with religion. But I see somebody that somebody like me on a can understand, like he’s blunt, he’s honest. He’s not playing a game. He welcomes people.
If anybody’s humble, he accepts them. If they’re humble. If they’re not they’re in trouble, you know, I love that clarity about him. It, it attracts me to him. I also think a lot of people who are on the spectrum, we can seem like we have no empathy because we’re so blunt, but there’s an arrival theory, which is that we’re actually hyper empathetic.
We’re very aware. That’s why we’re overwhelmed a little bit by large groups of people it’s like, because we’re aware of everybody there and all the stuff that’s going on in a different way, maybe than other people are aware of things, but there is an awareness. And that’s a really good thing for, for radio communicator.
I have to apply all these different filters in my head. As you know, Sarah, when you’re, when you’re communicating with people, I’m aware of, when I’m talking to large groups of people. I’m aware of everybody there, if somebody is looking away or not paying attention, I feel like, okay, I gotta get this person back.
Like that’s a big help. There’s a lot of things that are real helps there with the fact that I’m on the spectrum and it makes me have an empathy of a sort for people when I’m communicating. Ironically, I feel like I’m droning on and on here.
Sarah Taylor: Not at all!
Brant Hansen: Talking about my empathy for the listener as it goes on and on and on.
I literally am. I’m aware when I’m talking to a group of people. Like I need a very, my pitch. I need to change because I can be very monotone. Like a lot of people on the spectrum. We struggle with that when we talk, but I’ve realized, okay, I’ve got to change my pitch, my cadence. I got to tell a story here.
I’ve got to get you back. I’m hyper-aware so I can teach Sunday school. I used to have 50, some kids, high schoolers with just me in a Sunday school environment. And I had no problems keeping their attention because I was so aware of everybody there. If they looked away or started to talk to somebody, I would just stop.
I mean, they’re just freaked out. Like how does he know? All that to say, I think it, I think it’s a real help. As a communicator and the empathy for the underdog is something that a lot of people on the spectrum have. I mean, literally for the, for dogs, in some cases like animals, where we’re very connected to, um, to animals.
So we feel great compassion for them as a general rule. Now there’s some exceptions, but the general rule, if I talk to somebody who’s on the spectrum, a younger person in particular, but I can say, so what animals do you like? And they’ll light up. There’s something about these vulnerable creatures that we want to protect because maybe we identify as being that ourselves.
But I think that can be a good thing as a man, as a grown-up too, to have that empathy. And it certainly jibes with how Jesus views the world.
Sarah Taylor: Another place you have deep empathy is, and this is what I love. Like we could sit and we can talk about how career-wise your purpose is in being an effective communicator.
You do that through books, you do that through a radio station, but your end game is actually getting life-changing surgeries for children that need it, which is that empathy piece.
Brant Hansen: Yeah. And you know, what’s interesting about that. Maybe I help with Cure International. We do orthopedic and neurosurgery is for kids in poverty around the world.
Like in developing nations Cure is motivated by his love for Jesus. And we feel like Jesus was a healer. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing. So it’s, top-notch surgeries for kids that have correctable conditions, treatable, disabilities, we can fix. So we want to provide them surgeries, but it’s wild out
when we look at humans, sometimes we don’t feel the compassion that we would if we found a little sparrow that had a broken wing, but that’s what these kids are. They’re completely vulnerable. Many cases, they’re, they’re last to eat and their own families, for instance, and they’re considered cursed, but they’re, they’re just little sparrows and we can fix it.
We can fix their little wings. They don’t have any prestige or any, any money. And again, they’re considered a curse even by their own families. So I like the idea that God sees the sparrow and he, he notices and he cares about him and he loves us even more. But I’ve kind of had to orient my compassion more towards people.
I do feel it so deeply. For animals. So. Like okay. But God views us as worth a lot more than a Sparrow. Like a lot of sparrows. That is my goal. I want to use whatever gifts I have. I think it’s fantastic that I get to do this. I can’t believe like that. God allows me to be a part of this particular ministry because it looks like Jesus to me, the healing.
And then, uh, the fact that I get to be part of it, even though I’m not a doctor. Like they’ll just use my words to make a difference and provide surgeries and, and let you know, I’m just trying to help get the word out about it. But. It’s been so successful. It’s been wonderful. So that’s, that is that beautiful thing that I get on the back end of my, I’m not a second half of my life now.
I figured that I get to be somebody who’s a restorer, and a healer.
Sarah Taylor: Can you explain, can you explain to our podcast listener, how you being on the radio helps get surgeries to kids? Because yeah, it is cool.
Brant Hansen: It’s a weird arrangement. It’s I actually work for cure. So I get to work with this mission that I so dearly love.
What happened was I had quit a radio job and didn’t have a new job. And so cure. I had visited the hospitals and helped raise money and stuff for him before. They were like, well, we’ll just hire you. Well, you know, you will go speak at churches, you’ll go speak or do something. We decided to start the radio show again.
And then the stations actually don’t pay me. They just have to run spots about cure is that’s a general arrangement, not all the stations, almost all of them. That’s the trade-off. And then I get to talk about important stuff and be a goofball on the air. And then the word about Cure gets out and instead of working for a radio station per se, I get to work with these surgeons and nurses and administrators, and I really, really love.
They’re so interesting. And I get to travel to these hospitals and, uh, play with these kids. So that’s kind of a dream scenario.
Sarah Taylor: Can you tell me a memory from one of your visits to these hospitals? And can you tell me the look on the mom’s face or the dad’s face when their child came out of surgery?
Brant Hansen: Oh my goodness.
Every time you go to one of these places, it hurts. It hurts because you walk in the children’s ward, I guess, in the hospital I always kind of in my perception, I think, okay, there’s all these individual rooms. That’s not the way it works. Like these are great hospitals for where they are. Are you the best hospital in the country or around there?
Like, but all the, the children are all in one big room. You know, there’s beds. And, but the thing that blew me away was there’s a mom basically at every bed. Sleeping on the bed, sitting on the bed, because they don’t have anywhere else to go. These people are the poorest of the poor and have been a lot of times kicked out of their own communities because they have a child with a disability.
So to enter into that room, And see these kids and these moms who are all beleaguered in all have gone through so much. It hurts. It also hurts when I would start to play or do something with, with kids and they just cannot get enough. At first they’re shy, but then they can’t get enough. It may be, it may be drawing with crayons,
they might be bouncing a ball, but the wild thing about that you can think, well, yeah, I guess I get that. There’s a six year old that’s born and I’m talking about a 17 year old boy that is thrilled to draw with me. And doesn’t want me to leave or we’ll bounce a ball back and forth with me for an hour or two.
These are human beings that no one wants to play with or has been, they’ve been completely ostracized. So it’s not like the usual thing where you’ve got, oh, that’s really sweet. You go to a poverty stricken country and the kids love to play. Yeah, that’s true. But this is, this is a different order because they’re not even used to their own people playing with them.
So that happens every time. And when you, you realize what they’ve been through that’s every time. So to go into the OR follow a kid’s story, it might be, there was a, there was a little boy that had twisted legs. We went into the, or for his first surgery, followed him in there. Now he’s asleep. Now, the, now the doctors and techs are gathered around, under these lights and they’re getting ready you to do their surgery.
And it’s hot in there. You got your mask on, which we’re getting used to now, but it’s just, it’s a stuffy environment. And they’ve been doing surgeries all day, one after the other, but they gather around that kid and that kid’s asleep and that little body, and they’re praying, God bless this boy. And they use his name.
Bless Isaac. You have big plans for Isaac and then they go to work. So that’s, that’s not a particular visit. That’s every visit. That’s what it’s like. And I’m very thankful to get to see what I think is the real Jesus and action. Good. I’ve seen so much hypocrisy. It’s, it’s hard to catalog it all, but this to me looks like him.
It’s his people shelling out their own money, their own efforts, their own surgical skills, their own everything to heal the broken. And then tell them that they’re not curse that God loves them and tell them about Jesus. Like that. That seems right. Yeah. So that’s what it is. These are these, these are places that I’ve heard it described as thin places, spiritually, where you could just, you just know that God’s there.
It just makes sense. I’m not a big feelings guy, but it just makes sense to me. It all clicks. And there’s also a joy that underpins all of that too, because these moms and dads, mostly moms, but they’re finding each other and enjoying each other, like they’ve all been kicked out. They’ve all been kicked down.
They’ve all been abandoned and they find each other and then they’re singing worship songs and they’re going on devotions and they’re, they’re being prayed for and getting, you know, the hospital staff gets to know them, know their story, pray with them every day. So these are special places.
Sarah Taylor: Let’s talk about how
your career trajectory could have gone from, you know, obviously radio is your passion. You’re good at it. You’re going to scoff at this, but I’m going to say it cause I know it to be true, literally the best in our industry. And so if you had decided that you were going to be number one and have the most listenership and the most readings and all of that, like you
you could have gone down that path, but instead you went down this path of meaning, which, and we’re going to talk about this second piece in a minute about, you know, making sure that you were putting your family first, right? Not making career decisions that ever took away from time with your wife and your two kids who are now grown, but also just everything you just discussed with cure.
That was the end game. Not the ratings, not the money, not the name of Brant Hanson, but rather everything you just described. My question buried within that statement is for someone who’s listening and they’re thinking about their passion and they could go after it in sort of that career mentality of, you know, being at the top of their game or financial or just whatever, what would you say were the
eye opening moments where you sorta just fell into what the Lord’s plans were that had that deeper, meaning that deeper joy so that someone might rethink, oh, so I’m passionate about this, but the answer doesn’t have to be, you know, making a ton of money. It could be, and then blank.
Brant Hansen: You know, what’s wild.
It is still a little bit about me. I can’t get totally rid of that. Like, we’re all a mixed bag, but I will say I did have a moment that I distinctly remember when I went out for a walk and I was just sick and tired of chafing, trying to be significant, just tired of it, especially in this business. It’s it’s in, in media, you feel like there’s, you need to keep up with everybody else and get your name out there and do this and that thing.
And I was like, I’m so I’m tired of it. And it wasn’t like I was hyper successful or anything at the time. And I went out for a walk. It was a humid Florida night and I went out for a walk and I said, God, you know what I’m done with this. And I don’t, even at the time, I didn’t normally go for walks and pray or talk out loud when I prayed.
And I said, I’m just going to kill my ambition. You do what you want. And I meant it. And I realized my actual passion wasn’t to be a big deal. Uh, what really turns me on it flips my switch is being a blessing to people and using the words to do it. Hopefully like an artist, you know, these are the tools I have.
They’re a little ethereal. They’re, you know, they’re here and they’re gone when you say things on the radio, but it means something to somebody. And I, I was like, that’s, that’s enough. That is enough. So how can I do that to the best of my ability? And since then, I promise you my, for my career and my story has been increased influence
well, beyond anything I set out to have. It’s like, then things took off and that’s still my thing. I want to say things now that I hope are a blessing to people, whether it’s three people listening or 3 million or two people. So if I was going to offer some advice for somebody on the other end of the career thing, Like starting, there’s something about just saying, how can I add value to people’s lives?
Let me be passionate about that. And then let God have the blueprints for the big picture. Instead of having this big vision, I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that. And there’s such, that’s such a temptation, especially when you’re younger, because there’s that drive there. But the sooner you can get out of that and actually get into the passion of how you actually add value to people’s lives.
And then God can take care of the rest of this stuff. And I remember hearing a guy say, I think it was Dallas Willard years ago, he actually said that he prayed for things to say, not for a platform. He said, don’t pray for a platform. Pray for things to say, there’s a lot of people that want a platform that have nothing to say nothing.
And then there are people that have stuff to say. And then, uh, if God wants to give me a platform or you a platform. Awesome. If he doesn’t. Fine. I can teach middle-school, Sunday school is going to be perfectly happy with a group of sixth grade guys on a spectrum or something. That’d be cool. So that would be my thing.
The big picture, leave that to God and then commit your daily stuff. Jesus even said, pray for the resources for today, your daily bread. Stay in that thing. Whatever comes across your path today, do the best you can with it. Be faithful, whoever comes across your path today, and then see 10 years from now, like, huh?
I didn’t even plan that. So I know who’s responsible for what, right. For me, I didn’t plan that. I didn’t plan any of this. There’s no way I could have, I’m going to represent kids with disabilities around the world with cure, and I’m going to have a radio show. Like I did not plan any of this and it could be taken away from me lickety split too.
And I know that, but I asked I’m really thankful for the time I’ve had to do it.
Sarah Taylor: I’m lucky enough to have your personal cell phone number in my phone, which I’ve used a couple of times when I needed career advice. And one of the things you’ve told me privately, that has been so valuable to me, that I would like us to talk about it publicly
is, you’ve just, you’ve said to me, like you’re a mom of three young kids and the season of life you’re in, you will never get those years back. And you remind me of the ages of my kids. And that has been my plumb line in the decisions I’ve made regarding career and every day that I think back on that phone conversation, I think yes.
Right. Decision. Yes. Right decision. Yes.
Brant Hansen: That’s, that’s wonderful. That’s that man? That is the one thing I look back at all the dumb things I’ve done and it hurts. Like, it feels like a kick to the gut. Like I said, something stupid or it made a stupid decision or, you know, whatever. But the decisions that I made at the time when my kids were smaller, growing up.
To just be with them and have time with them and realize, Hey, if, if there’s some other thing later on, God can provide that. I’m going to be content with being known by my kids and knowing them thoroughly. That was the smartest thing. I tell guys that like, I’ll tell you what I’ve done. I’ve done a lot of stuff wrong, but that thing I nailed, cause I know my kids, like you can’t get that back.
And there are seasons in life where you have to do everything at once. That’s a lie. The idea we have to do everything at once. The fact is there’s time for this now and that’ll pass and you can’t get it back. But man, you’re going to want to look back and go, yeah, I was with them. I know them. Now I can go do other stuff.
I was laughing about that the other day on the show cause there’s this survey about they’re 64% of people with kids say they can’t have nice things. They’re lamenting like not being able to have a nice whatever. And I’m like, Hey, you know what, I have a really nice sofa. Now my kids are grown up. We have a great sofa.
I like the kids better. I do like sofas. Awesome. I like the kids better. So enjoy the kids. Get the sofa later on. It’s awesome. It’s a great sofa.
Sarah Taylor: I look right now, I’m thinking of our Costco sofa, which. Like we’ve already done the flip of the cushions and now you can’t flip it again. Cause it’s like, you get to stay on one side, you can’t flip the other.
And every day I’m telling him to quit jumping on the couch, you know? So these are the years.
Brant Hansen: I remember my wife saying something. It was years ago, but she talked about how her hands were showing age. Someone had told her, maybe it was original to her, I can’t remember, but she was just saying yeah, every, every, everything about my hands though, that was there’s stories behind that.
Right? Like things you did for your kids. Dishes that you picked up and wash something that you dropped, you know. There, but there’s, you can look at your hands, it says something like, there’s a story there. And I suppose that’s true of sofas too. Like yeah. Everything or, or your car floors or that like all the stuff that we complain about.
Like well, yeah, there’s a story behind that. Yeah. And that’s okay. That’s good. Actually be a horrible, horrible thing if you didn’t have those stories.
Sarah Taylor: As we wrap up our time together. Another thing I want you to touch on is I know that probably your regular propensity would be to be alone or do things alone,
and so you push yourself outside of your comfort zone to be around people because Jesus was around people. Aside from your family who is like your nucleus, another person who you’ve really let in and seen a big benefit is obviously Sherri. And that teamwork, that comradery, that partnership and the laughter she brings to you, would you just talk a little bit about how sometimes as we go after our passion and our purpose, God brings someone into our path to help us go even farther in compliment
each other’s strengths and giftings. We would be remiss if we were talking about all of this today without incorporating everything that Sherri does and brings.
Brant Hansen: Yeah. She’s amazing literal answer to prayer when I needed somebody to help me on the show, and I’m an answer to her prayers when she made it to find somebody to work with that, you know, she could be at peace with. She’s been through a lot of drama and workplaces and whatnot.
The fact that we have similar backgrounds, even though, you know, I’m white, she’s black and she’s single and I’m married, and I kind of stuff like. Our, our backgrounds are actually very similar. Uh, the stuff that we went through as kids and the church stuff that we went through and our senses of humor are very similar as a result.
There’s a lot of overlap. Um, she has a very high tolerance for quirk and she likes odd things, odd people. Like it’s interesting to her. She’s a script writer. I mean, she likes the idea, different characters, you know, so that alone helps her to look at me through a certain lens. And I like quirky stuff too.
I have a very high tolerance. In fact, I get, if somebody is not quirky, I get a little bit bored. I want to know like, we, we are really like, if it doesn’t have to be like me, but she’s a character. She could not be a, a better radio producer for the show. She could not be a better cohost. She takes a back seat.
She doesn’t need to, she can do the whole thing by herself and be incredibly entertaining. She’s ridiculously talented. It’s an answer to prayer. So I hope that I get to work with her till, you know, I’m done working. I hope she’ll want to continue to do that. She says that’s her plan too. So we’ll see how that goes.
Sarah Taylor: That’s great. And so for someone listening to this, thinking about either a career endeavor or just something, something like a seed that’s been planted on the inside, and they’re thinking, I don’t know how I’m going to go about this alone. Same thing. You just launch a prayer into God’s heart and say, I need a team.
And he partners people up like that.
Brant Hansen: That’s what happened for us. I mean, relationships always involve some work with it. This is honestly, our kids is not a lot. He answered that prayer. That’s absolutely something that I would, I would actively out loud pray for is that God send help, send me people that I can be in mission with.
To be a blessing to other people. That’s an incredibly fun thing. That is life-giving. If you’re both thinking the same thing, how can we be a blessing to people add value to their lives? We’re both thinking the same thing. That’s incredible.
Sarah Taylor: Isn’t he just the best brand Hansen brand and his producer, Sherri.
They have their own podcast. It’s called the Brant and Sherri Oddcast. And it’s wonderful. You’ll laugh out loud. You’ll also I think he’s just one of those friends that kind of checks all the boxes, right? You always want to be around him because you’ll learn and you’ll laugh. I think we’re all okay just better humans because of him, the Passion Meets Purpose Podcast or releases new episodes every two weeks.
You won’t miss one if you click the follow or subscribe button, wherever you get your podcasts. We would also welcome you to rate and review, and I welcome your feedback. And most of all, I want to thank Northwest University for making the Passion Meets Purpose Podcast possible. That was so many P’s. Ah, why did I name it that?