Living Life in Multiple Lanes with Joe Curcillo

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Living Life in Multiple Lanes with Joe Curcillo

In this engaging episode of The Matt Feret Show, I am joined by the extraordinarily multifaceted Joe Curcillo. With a career spanning various roles from a criminal defense lawyer and ventriloquist to an engineer and mentalist, Joe's life story is a remarkable journey through diverse experiences.

Joe shares his insights on embracing multiple disciplines, leveraging opportunities, and overcoming the fear of the unknown. His unique approach to life and career, coupled with his diverse skill set, makes for an enlightening and inspiring conversation.

I walked out of my law firm and decided I was bored….

Living Life in Multiple Lanes with Joe Curcillo

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotify, Deezer, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Alexa Flash Briefing, iHeart, Acast or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

Brought to you by Prepare for Medicare – The Insider’s Guide  book series. Sign up for the Prepare for Medicare Newsletter, an exclusive subscription-only newsletter that delivers the inside scoop to help you stay up-to-date with your Medicare insurance coverage, highlight Medicare news you can use, and reminders for important dates throughout the year. When you sign up, you’ll immediately gain access to seven FREE Medicare checklists.


“Failure limits everything we do. The minute you start to fear something, you're gonna fail if that's what you think you're going to do.”

“Fear is something you just have to overcome in life and say to yourself, I'm gonna go through this.”

“My goal is to help people become better by experiencing more things. Get into more lanes, do more things, and just stop being in a rut. That's my goal.”


Living Life in Multiple Lanes with Joe Curcillo

Selected Link from the Episode:

All Things Medicare: prepareformedicare.com

Decoding Social Security: prepareforsocialsecurity.com

My Written Works on Amazon: www.amazon.com/stores/Matt-Feret/author/B09FM3L4WW

The Matt Feret Show's YouTube: www.youtube.com/@themattferetshow

Official Podcast Website: themattferetshow.com

Network with me on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/prepareformedicare

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See behind the scenes on Instagram: www.instagram.com/matt_feret/

Join our community on Facebook: www.facebook.com/themattferetshow/

Show Notes:

00:00 — 03:21: Introduction to Joe Curcillo and His Multidisciplinary Life.

03:22 — 11:45: Embracing Diverse Roles: From Ventriloquist to Lawyer.

11:46 — 20:10: The Power of Cross-Disciplinary Thinking in Personal and Professional Growth.

20:11 — 28:34: Overcoming Challenges and Leveraging Opportunities in Various Careers.

28:35 — 35:45: Joe's Philosophy: Living Life in Multiple Lanes.

35:46 — 41:52: Insights into Joe's Unique Approach to Problem-Solving and Creativity.

41:53 — 48:15: How Multidisciplinary Experiences Enrich Life and Career.

Full Show Transcript:

Joe Curcillo: [00:00:00] I grew up in a house where I had a very supportive mother who told me I was good looking intelligent And smart and I could be anything. I wanted to be as long as it was a lawyer

Matt Feret: Hello everyone, this is Matt Feret author of prepare for medicare and prepare for social security insiders guidebooks and online course training series Welcome to another episode of the Matt Feret show where I interview insiders and experts to help light a path to successful living in midlife, retirement, and beyond.

Matt Feret: Joe, 

Joe Curcillo: welcome to the show. Oh, it's good to be here, Matt. Good morning. How are you today? Good 

Matt Feret: morning. I'm doing really well. 

Joe Curcillo: Thanks. 

Matt Feret: Good. Tell everybody what you do, how long you've been doing it and how you help people. Well, 

Joe Curcillo: um, I am an author. I'm a speaker. I am a corporate advisor. Well, that's kind of how I sum up why I'm here.

Joe Curcillo: Um, what I do is a lot of things. And, uh, my goal is to help people become [00:01:00] better. by experiencing more things. And what I mean by that is, get into more lanes, do more things, and just stop being in a rut. That's my goal, is to keep that from happening for people. 

Matt Feret: Okay, talk about that. I like you said the word lanes.

Matt Feret: Talk to me about those. All 

Joe Curcillo: right, and this is where we can explore why I do this. All right, I already said I'm a speaker and author and a strategic advisor. I retired five years ago as a criminal defense lawyer. I shouldn't say retired. I walked out of my law firm and decided I was bored five years ago.

Joe Curcillo: Stopped practicing law, became a political advisor. I'm also a private investigator and throughout my entire legal career I owned a restaurant. I was a, well, I was a private investigator at that point already. I'm a woodworker. I'm an artist. I'm a professional entertainer and a professional mind reader.[00:02:00] 

Joe Curcillo: Um, so I have multiple lanes that I live in. And what I have discovered is the more lanes you live in, if you learn how to cross them over and find out where they intersect, your life changes drastically. And I don't care how old you are. I don't care where in life you are. The change can happen for anybody.

Joe Curcillo: Okay, 

Matt Feret: this is, this is fascinating. So let me, let me just, let me background it in, in general terms. You graduate high school, you go to college, you get your law degree somewhere in there, you end up being a criminal defense attorney, which is normally one of these jobs you think of as, as people, people think, right, law.

Matt Feret: high paying or at least potential of high paying 80 hours a week, billable hours going crazy, going nuts and pretty much all in, right? You've got your got your J. D. And that's a, that's a one track way to hopefully write a nice income, [00:03:00] um, and a nice career, respectable career, respected career. Um, and That's kind of normally it.

Matt Feret: I mean, maybe some woodworking on the side as a hobby, but it sounds like what you did was that wasn't enough or you've got a, you got a workaholic problem or you wanted to, I mean, so how did you go from, you know what, I got this crazy big, huge job and it's not enough, or I want more out of life. How does that bring.

Matt Feret: How does that work? 

Joe Curcillo: It's about experience. I needed more experiences than what law, meaning, let's be honest, criminal defense for, first of all, let me explain. First 13 years of my career, I was a prosecutor. I worked in the government. Then I opened my own law firm and ran that for 20 plus years. And I had a team of people working with me.

Joe Curcillo: I was loving what I was doing, but for me, it wasn't enough. I needed more of an experience. I needed something more to do. So I made a decision, just do what I want to do [00:04:00] and keep yourself busy. I mean, even when I worked in government as a prosecutor, and I love laughing about this, in 1992, And now see this is embarrassing when I admit to this every time I admit to it.

Joe Curcillo: In 1992, I was a prosecutor working in the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office and I made more money that year as the private party clown at Hershey Park.

Joe Curcillo: And that Reflects on your life, it goes, wait a minute, this is too much fun. So I kept finding things to do that were fun to make my life go over the edge. And as my daughters, every time I get a new hobby, my daughters have a running pool as to how many months or years it's going to take before that becomes a business also.

Joe Curcillo: Okay. So, so you, I'm sorry. [00:05:00] It's pretty funny. I mean, 

Matt Feret: not only do you, yeah, you said it's funny, but probably because you've repeated it more, more than once. That's hilarious. So you're a pro, you're assistant prosecutor. So by day, by day, you're, you're, you're sitting there making arguments and doing, uh, casework.

Matt Feret: And, and, uh, by night you're in the, you're in the law library, but on the weekends, you're a clown at an amusement 

Joe Curcillo: park. I was a clown at Hershey Park. That's what I was doing. Um, yeah, I'm like, yeah, in fact, it was actually funny because I wanted to find some steady work near home as a side gig. And the story is I went into Hershey Park.

Joe Curcillo: They told me they couldn't use me because they were under contract with another agency and being a good lawyer. I looked at what they had and I said, no, there's a loophole. You can make money if you bring me in. And I showed them a business model. They brought me in and ended up [00:06:00] paying me very good money for about a year and a half to two years until they found a model where they could get somebody in a lot cheaper than me.

Matt Feret: So way back in the 90s, you decided to go do the side hustle thing before side hustle was a, was a phrase. And that was based upon, if I'm hearing it right, you're unsatisfied at work? Or you just have so many interests you wanted to try a bunch of stuff out because of the word you used 

Joe Curcillo: was experience. I use the word professional ADD.

Joe Curcillo: I always wanted to try to figure out what my career was. Once I started getting it going, I had to find something else to do. And when you say side hustle, um, it's kind of funny because I was actually going at one point. My preparation was to quit working for the government and become a full time entertainer.

Joe Curcillo: And as I tell people, you learn a valuable lesson when you come home, you have a great plan, and your wife says [00:07:00] three words that changes the course of history. She just looked at me and said, I am pregnant. And I went, okay, no longer a new career side hustle. So take 

Matt Feret: me from there. Take me from there. What happened then?

Matt Feret: What'd you do buckle back down at work and put this 

Joe Curcillo: shell of this? Well, let me say this. I, no, no. Um, I also, by the way, before I became a lawyer, was a civil engineer. I've always been unusual. Uh, when all my friends in law school were working as a law clerk and trying to get ready for their careers, I was walking high steel in Philadelphia, putting up girders and beams because I found out I could make more money doing that.

Joe Curcillo: Um, so I have always been driven by, well, what can I do today to make more than I was making? And, As I went through and worked in government, uh, let's put it this way. I mean, yeah, I worked [00:08:00] long hours. I also knew that I could do fun things on the side and all through law school, I was a children's birthday party magician.

Joe Curcillo: Um, and that's pretty much how I paid for law school. So I made the decision. I'm gonna do that on the side and I started doing kids parties. Um, I was having fun I'm doing kids parties and then all of a sudden I'm thinking to myself. Wait a minute Hershey Park is three miles from my house Why am I driving all over creation?

Joe Curcillo: I got to roll into the park. So I came up with a way to make money there Okay, that could be a dude How 

Matt Feret: Did this happen? Was this upbringing? Is this it? What do they say? Is it's uh, It's a, uh, jeans or, or was this part of your, like, did you get inspired? How did this happen? Tell me, tell me how you grew up to be this way, where you just started going, Ooh, look, opportunity, fun.

Matt Feret: Ooh, look, opportunity, fun. You have the corporate or the [00:09:00] professional careers, but you kept doing it. How did this come from your parents? Did you read a book? How did this 

Joe Curcillo: happen? See, this is what I like about your show, Matt. Your audience is going to understand a little more of what I'm about to say than most, some of the interviews I do because some of the young people don't follow me on this.

Joe Curcillo: Okay. Let me start with my grandfather. My grandfather was a trained architect. He was also the deputy director of public property for the city of Philadelphia. And at night he was a pioneer of sports radio. He was the voice of WDAS radio in Philadelphia. And he was a stadium announcer at Chi Park for the Philadelphia Athletics.

Joe Curcillo: He was a race car announcer. So I got to grow up sitting on the laps of Mario Andretti while he interviewed them post race. And then, he also would do wrestling, boxing, and other [00:10:00] events, and was an in demand speaker. So, being that he was an architect, he worked in the government, and he had all this side thing going as the radio, Sherry O'Brien was his stage name.

Joe Curcillo: Everybody knew him. I admired him. And no matter what I talked to him about, he could talk back to me. So he had a lot of experience at the same time as a kid. And some of the, some of your audience will remember Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney. It was a ventriloquist and his ventriloquism doll. And they had the Winchell Mahoney show.

Joe Curcillo: Uh, they also were on a lot of talk shows and radio shows. And I jokingly say I wanted to be a ventriloquist, but found out I could not keep my mouth still because I talk too much. So I, my parents gave me a ventriloquism dummy. That didn't work out, but I [00:11:00] stayed fascinated. Paul Winchell, who I thought was one of the greatest entertainers ever.

Joe Curcillo: Had gone to pre med, could not finish medical school because his family didn't have money. He becomes this famous guy, makes money doing his show, he's doing really well, making all of his appearances, and he got bored and then started inventing. He has a patent on a dispo had 30 patents in his lifetime.

Joe Curcillo: One was on a disposable razor. Oh, gee, we see those every day. Um, one was on a, a flameless cigarette lighter, which is pretty much what we used to have in our cars back in the day. And then my favorite was he collected, he decided to become more involved in the medical career, hooked up with his friend, Dr.

Joe Curcillo: Heimlich. Heimlich was, we all know the guy that invented the Heimlich maneuver. So here's this guy who [00:12:00] was a ventriloquist. At the top of his career, making great money, went, I gotta do something else. And he hooks up with Dr. Heimlich, and they invented and patented the first artificial heart. And their patent was given to the University of Utah, and that was later what created the Jarvik 7 fake heart.

Joe Curcillo: So, between my grandfather and Winchell as two of my role models, I think from a young age, I was determined that I would always want more out of life. Nature 

Matt Feret: versus nurture argument. You definitely have a lot of nurture back there that you could model. 

Joe Curcillo: Yes. And I was drawn to people like that. Um, I always say George Plimpton, some of the boomers will remember George.

Joe Curcillo: Okay. Uh, George Plimpton was a immersive, uh, journalist who was on television all the time because no, he didn't just write about being a quarterback for. [00:13:00] A football team. He actually wrote a book called The Paper Lion, where he went in and became a football player for the Detroit Lions just to see what it felt like.

Joe Curcillo: He also did a boxing match to see what it felt like. And he would do these shows from time to time when I was younger, where George Clinton would just do something different all the time. And that kind of stuff fascinated me. 

Matt Feret: That's, uh, that's pretty awesome. When you were doing this I mean, I guess you've been doing it since you were knee high, but let's just say when you were doing this as a professional, right?

Matt Feret: In your quote unquote career, people, again, I'm going to speak generically. People go career, right? And you focus and you work really, really, really hard and you save your pennies and throw it in a retirement account and then retire at age 55, 65, 70 with a gold watch and sail off into retirement. What did people, what did people say to you?

Matt Feret: Uh, I can't imagine everybody was [00:14:00] positive about going, Hey, you know, by day you're, you're helping put people away for, uh, you know, criminal offenses. And I guess later on helping to keep them out of criminal offenses. And then I might run into you at, uh, uh, at a party or at a, at a, uh, at an amusement park later and, uh, see you juggling stuff.

Matt Feret: What did, what did, what did naysayers think? Did you have people support you? Or did you have people just like make fun of you? 

Joe Curcillo: Oh, no, I, I think, uh, my, my naysayers started when I was younger because, um, I grew up in a house where I had a very supportive mother who told me I was good looking, intelligent, and smart, and I could be anything I wanted to be as long as it was a lawyer.

Joe Curcillo: The minute I chose a different path, um, and I laughed when you said any naysayers because in high school, I met with a guidance counselor and said, I want to get a degree in engineering, and then I want to go to law school. And they actually called my parents to talk me off the ledge [00:15:00] because they're like, why would you can't go to engineering and then go to law school?

Joe Curcillo: It doesn't fit. And I went, yeah, it does for me. Um, because at that point in my life, I knew that what I wanted was right brain, left brain. I needed to educate myself more globally because that's just how I'm driven now. When you talk about people seeing me, um, yeah, when you're in certain careers and I, I always tell the story on stage, you know, fear is something you just have to overcome in life and say to yourself, I'm going to go through this.

Joe Curcillo: I walk structural steel, six inch beams, 40 stories in the air. And everybody says, were you scared? At first I was, and then I learned how to do it. But then at night, I got a job in a department store and I was working in the cosmetics counter at night. Now you want to know what fear is? Fear is you're going to be selling lipstick to a woman and one of the iron workers is going to come in and catch you at a cosmetics [00:16:00] counter.

Joe Curcillo: That's fear, baby. It had nothing to do with falling. So I, I lived in this world where I juggled between everything. But here's where the magic happened. And in all fairness, I had a lot of clients that met me either working, doing shows as a performer, or they met me, um, when I had my restaurant for a little while, um, or they met me doing a number of things.

Joe Curcillo: But what made me a, a great trial lawyer? And I, I don't mean to sound arrogant or egotistical. I have a nice plaque on my wall that the last week my firm was open. I got a plaque that declared me one of the top 10 criminal defense lawyers in Pennsylvania. And I went, I'm out on top. But why was I good? Why?

Joe Curcillo: Because I lived and breathed the public. I was on stage. I was on the floor of a restaurant. When I talked to a jury, I didn't care [00:17:00] whether it was a, an accountant. I didn't care if it was an engineer, a plumber, an auto mechanic, it didn't matter. I lived and breathed with these people because I didn't want to be an ivory tower lawyer.

Joe Curcillo: So when people would hire me, they knew my presentation skills were top notch. I mean, oddly enough, I'm one of the only lawyers you'll ever meet who had an acting coach on retainer. Um, I wanted to know how to perform. I mean, that's what it was about. So That's when I first started to realize how my worlds collided and everything worked together.

Matt Feret: You said professional ADD. Um, how did you come up with that phrase? I mean, I get it. I get it conceptually, but how did you come up with that phrase? Did somebody say something at some point or were they looking at you in amazement going, what's going on here? 

Joe Curcillo: No, I think I just made that up one day just because it existed.

Joe Curcillo: Um, because I knew that I always go in multiple [00:18:00] directions and um, maybe it's because subconsciously people think, Oh, you have ADD, you have to control that. But as soon as they think it's a profession, they don't think you have to control it anymore. You know, I would certify him now. I, you know, it's just, it's, I look, I live my life.

Joe Curcillo: Um, my wife, um, Is very I want to say my wife is very supportive But she's also very well known for saying a phrase of yes I'm a judge, but my full time job is keeping up with joe and She just laughs because i've always got something going 

Matt Feret: you said you mentioned failure a couple minutes ago And then earlier on in the show, um Talk about that.

Matt Feret: Um, I have to imagine fear of failure or actually Doing something on the side or different and failing Has got to put a stop to a lot of people. Um, can you talk about failure and how to approach that? Because it's a [00:19:00] fascinating topic for me personally as well. 

Joe Curcillo: Yeah. You know, failure is what I believe failure limits everything we do.

Joe Curcillo: The minute you start to fear something, you're going to fail if that's what you think you're going to do. Um, I, when I first, okay, so I'm in law school and I'm working for an engineering firm. I call my boss and I said, I need it work. And Don said, I don't have any work for you. The only thing we have this year is high steel and you're scared of heights without even missing a breath.

Joe Curcillo: I said, but Don, I am more scared of poverty. And he said, so you want to climb high steel? Yes. And I took the job and I started doing it because for me, I made a decision of the least of two evils. I would rather fall than be poor. [00:20:00] And I made that decision. That is a tough decision to make. That's literally a 

Matt Feret: life and death 

Joe Curcillo: decision.

Joe Curcillo: Well, exactly. But I use that as a metaphor for everything I've done through my life because here's what I did. And I, I will tell you, I do this in everything. So this is not just me saying this is what I did when I was in my 20s. I did this when I opened a restaurant. Uh, I did it when I started my consulting business.

Joe Curcillo: Here's what I do. I know that if I fall, I will die. And I think of that metaphor every day. In fact, I'm laughing because I keep with me on my desk everywhere I go, one of the bolts from the steel that I worked on. And that is what drives me because I see that and it reminds me of that fear. So what did I do?

Joe Curcillo: You don't just jump on a six inch beam 200 feet above the Chesapeake Bay and think you're going to die. No, I showed up. [00:21:00] I watched people do it. I found someone who looked incredibly comfortable. I mean, the one guy that could walk a beam, smoke a cigarette, and tell jokes, and I went, I like him. And I remember looking at him and I said, What can you teach me?

Joe Curcillo: First, found a mentor. He worked with me and got me the understanding of how to do it. So once I reprioritized and said, I'd rather be dead than poor, I knew I was going to do the job. I committed to it. I got a mentor and he walked me through it. I wasn't afraid to ask for help. And then the third thing was, you just have to consciously pay attention because if you're not paying attention, you're going to fall.

Joe Curcillo: So with every task or everything I've done, even when I wanted to open a restaurant, My daughters always say that every time daddy has an idea, [00:22:00] it becomes a business. Well, in 1999, 2000, in that range, I walked into a friend's pizza parlor and said, Frank, can I cook for you? And he looked at me like I was nuts.

Joe Curcillo: And I said, I want to learn how to cook. I love your food. Well, every Friday night for six years, I would leave my law office. I would go to the restaurant, and I would start cooking at about 5 o'clock at night, and he would tell me what to do. I'd be in the kitchen, I'd be prepping, I'd do whatever he said to do.

Joe Curcillo: My family would roll in later in the evening, we'd all have dinner, and then I'd go home at the end of the night. Six years later, Frank and I opened a restaurant together. Would I have opened a restaurant ahead of time? No, because I didn't really understand it. I got Frank to be my mentor and teach me.

Joe Curcillo: Once I knew I could work with him, and I understood the concept, then We opened a restaurant [00:23:00] and it was, I found someone to guide me. And that's what I do. I mean, you can go out and learn everything you want to learn on YouTube, Instagram, and all that stuff. Um, in fact, I was joking last night cause I saw an Instagram post that said, Hey, save yourself time, boil water on Sunday and put it in the freezer.

Joe Curcillo: So you have boiled water all week. You're going to love that. But I mean, so I'm not sure I believe all the Instagram stuff, but my point is I have. Gone out and I learned things, but you got to find somebody and you got to commit to a course of action Yeah, that's a big 

Matt Feret: difference. I'm glad you said those three things you you you have an idea You think you might want to do it, but you do a trial run.

Matt Feret: It seems like yeah, and you learn it before you commit to it. That's a lot different than jumping into, you know what I want to do? I'm going to open up a restaurant. You took six years of learning before you actually took the quote unquote risk to go do this. That's a very big difference than I think what most people think of, you know, I'm a professional.

Matt Feret: X. [00:24:00] And I want to go, you know, open up a dog grooming service. I'm just going to start it or I'll buy a franchise and start from from zero. You took a ton of time to go learn it by yourself before you made that decision. That's a, that's a key difference. 

Joe Curcillo: It is. And I'm going to, I'm going to tell you, I've had this argument with people in the past where I say, I'm not an entrepreneur, I'm a businessman.

Joe Curcillo: And the answer is, what's the difference is when. When I've done something as an entrepreneur, I dove in when I do it as a businessman, I actually make a plan study and I case the joint before I go in. That's to me. I had to know that I could do it. And by the way, I always tell the story that I ran the floor of the restaurant.

Joe Curcillo: Um, I was the, the maitre d, if you will, everybody knew my face on the restaurant and I'm the one that kept everybody happy. Um, so all those years of cooking didn't affect me. Uh, we had a chef, Santo, except for one night, [00:25:00] about eight, nine months in when Frank and Santo, the owner and sous chef and the chef had a fight.

Joe Curcillo: And one went out the one door and one went out the other and the waitress looked at me and said, who's going to cook? And I jumped into the kitchen and the guests. The people in the restaurant never noticed a difference. So the fact that I was willing to learn that I didn't know it was going to happen, but if I didn't, the restaurant could have failed in one night.

Matt Feret: Yeah, it sounds like you mentioned it in passing, but I picked up on it. You've had your wife involved in this, you know, mindset. Your kids, you said, bring the family into the restaurant. You're including your loved ones or your family, probably your friends in this as well. This isn't just a, you know, a, a thing you do that dad's gone.

Matt Feret: Uh, you know, a friday night. Tell me how important that is to bring, bring family or bring, bring friends along for this 

Joe Curcillo: ride. Um, my, my law firm motto [00:26:00] was family first period. Um, by the way, my daughters were also bus girls in the restaurant. Um, they were all, they also worked in my law firm. Um, in fact, I, when I opened my very first law office in 1997, um, my youngest daughter was only 2.

Joe Curcillo: 5. And I still remember her to this day. We didn't have phones to take pictures. So we just remember it. Um, she was on her knees crawling around the room with a tissue, cleaning the floor molding. Um, because I brought my family in and the rule I had in the firm with all my staff was if something was happening in their family, they didn't even have to.

Joe Curcillo: Tell me they just told me hey, it's a family matter. Take off. We got you covered. Um, I believe family is everything and I believe they should be a part of everything and That's why I do what I do. Tell me about a time you failed. Oh [00:27:00] god failed You know the biggest failure I ever had Was, uh, probably when I decided I wanted to work heavy equipment.

Joe Curcillo: And I, uh, jumped on a Caterpillar Telehandler, which is a machine that has, uh, tires about the size up to my eyeballs. And, uh, I forgot to get a mentor. Um, I forgot to talk to someone before I did it. I thought, wow, it looks like a giant dune buggy with a big arm. Um, uh, I got on it. I started moving stuff around my property during the construction of my house, knocking down trees.

Joe Curcillo: And then all of a sudden I hit a mud pile and next thing I knew everything was spinning and I ended up outside the machine. The machine was upside down in the mud. And, um, a several ton Caterpillar telehandler [00:28:00] handler almost fell on me. And, uh, I came into my house, I called the owner of the equipment to tell him that, Oh, I'll take care of it.

Joe Curcillo: I'll fix it. And as I'm talking to him, I looked at my reflection in a window and realized I was covered in blood. And, uh, thank God my wife walked in and they got me to the hospital. Um, but. Yeah, it was not the smartest move in my life, but I call it one of my biggest failures. So now my wife says the rule is I don't handle heavy equipment.

Joe Curcillo: And my rule is I don't touch anything until I learn from someone else, because there's some things that are just not intuitive. And by the way, in case you're interested cleaning the engine and an oil and lube on a inverted telehandlers about 8, 000 back then. Um, and it's not covered by insurance cause.

Joe Curcillo: It was a stupid act of the owner. 

Matt Feret: So you do have some lessons learned with the failure piece. Now extrapolate that [00:29:00] into what somebody may be thinking right now, which is, you know, I've always wanted to blank, but I've been afraid to try because of whatever reason, right? It, it will cost me, it could cost me money.

Matt Feret: It could bankrupt me. Um, it's gonna embarrass me. I mean, when you said you're running like a, a clown or a whatever, I mean, as an attorney, I mean, how that's, that's its own fear of professional, personal embarrassment, isn't it? And especially the word embarrassment. When you fail, no one likes to fail. And when you do, and it's public.

Matt Feret: That I think that's gotta probably hit a lot of people, the majority of the people out there listening or watching have to have had these thoughts and feelings before, but you haven't or you have and you plowed 

Joe Curcillo: through them. I, yeah, I challenge myself very frequently. Um, first of all. I have done so many things in my life to embarrass myself and [00:30:00] anyone that thinks that they're not going to embarrass themselves is foolish.

Joe Curcillo: No matter what you do, someone is going to take exception with it. No matter what you do, someone's going to think something different. You can't control other people's thoughts. Just make yourself happy. You do what makes you happy and you have to just learn to ignore them. Now, there is a curve in life where I understand when you're younger and you're building a career, but here's the thing.

Joe Curcillo: I am 63 years old and I've only just begun. I am going to embarrass myself more in the next 30 years than anyone can imagine, and I'm excited about it because I realize at my age, it doesn't matter what other people think. I don't really care, [00:31:00] and I think that so many people limit themselves, and that is where

Joe Curcillo: They screw up. Just be happy and don't be afraid of failing. Look, if you do it right and you have a plan. Um, I have a friend of mine who's a professional gambler and I said to him, I can't gamble. It's not something I do. And he said to me, Oh, no, have fun with it. And I said, How do you have fun with it? He said, you never gamble more in a day than you make in a day.

Joe Curcillo: And I laugh because I sometimes have thought about that as a business model for me going, all right, if I'm going to do this, how much am I going to lose? How much can I make back? What, what, what can I do to test the waters? Um, so you just do it. And the older we get, [00:32:00] look, I. I've done what I can for my kids.

Joe Curcillo: They're on their own. They're in their 30s and it's up to them now. If I blow everything and I'm living in a car, I don't know, I'll figure it out. I'll start over again. But the whole point for me is, you gotta take a little bit of risk at some point. Uh, when you were talking a few moments ago, you were talking about the concept of people saying, get a career, put your head down and do the career.

Joe Curcillo: I always laugh because I had multiple businesses. But that was what they call today work life balance. I did a lot of things because it's what made me happy. Um, I didn't need to have a lot of free time to sit in a Starbucks. I didn't need to have a lot of free time to go out and hang out with my friends.

Joe Curcillo: No, what did I do? I created free time where, oh wait a [00:33:00] minute. I'm going to work on my magic show. I'm going to go hang out with my magic friends. I'm going to work on woodworking. I went and hung out with my friends that did woodworking. My social life, my entire being became, who are these people and how do I achieve balance and how do I feel like I'm going to wake up tomorrow better than I was today?

Joe Curcillo: I'm going to find new things. Um, one of my mentors, um, a man named Charlie Tremendous Jones, who was an incredible motivational speaker. 

Matt Feret: If you have a middle name called, you know, in quotes, tremendous, I got to hear about this guy. Go. Well, 

Joe Curcillo: Charlie Tremendous Jones was a motivational speaker back in day. Um, very close to a lot of the, Dr.

Joe Curcillo: Norman Vincent Peale. He introduced me to Peale's wife and he knew all the big. Guys on the circuit, but Charlie had a line. He would [00:34:00] always use and said, you will be the same person today as you are in five years, except for two things, the people you meet and the books you read. And I, it's funny because all the years I knew Charlie, he was my best friend and I had no desire to be a speaker, but I heard him say that so many times and I think that's one of the things that drug me to him because.

Joe Curcillo: I knew that the more people I met and the more books I read, the smarter I would become and the more challenged I would be by life. And I define challenge as a happy place. Um, you know, uh, if I, if there's something out there, I'm going to learn to do it. Um, I'm laughing as I smile because we're talking to your audience.

Joe Curcillo: Look, people, we're getting older. And I know years ago, they used to always say, Oh, keep your mind active, do crossword puzzles, do this, do that. [00:35:00] Um, no, I keep my mind active by learning something new every single day. Every day when I go to bed, I ask myself, What did I learn today that I didn't know yesterday?

Joe Curcillo: And that's how I keep my mind active. Um, It's, it's not doing mindless tasks. It's about learning something different. 

Matt Feret: Now you've taken, right, when we talk about failure and we'll move off of that F word here in a second, there's financial failure too, right? There was a, you know, you even mentioned when you first kind of stepped out literally on the edge and did something that was unique compared to where your quote unquote professional career was going to take easy.

Matt Feret: I think you said, I think the line you use, I'd rather be dead than broke. Well. At some point in your life as a lawyer, you weren't broke, but you kept doing it. How did you tackle complacency or comfort? 

Joe Curcillo: Um, well, first of all, [00:36:00] I don't ever get complacent. It's not in my vocabulary. I can't. Um. I have to keep moving.

Joe Curcillo: And let me just say, as you say, so I'm, I'm smiling going, sometimes it's not you that's going to fall. If somebody is going to push you over the edge, I mean, um, in, uh, I'll never forget 2008, I owned a real estate title insurance agency as part of my law firm. And I walked in one morning and found out that I had about 40, 000 in payroll and I had 8 in the bank because the real estate market had crashed.

Joe Curcillo: And. I, I, I wound up calling my stockbroker and found out that everything was down and I remember sitting there thinking it's time to start over. So I met with my staff. I moved some people into the law firm. I had to let some people go. Um, but. [00:37:00] We refocused the law firm. I ended up moving some people into family law because I hate to say it, but the reality of it was that the market crashed and people were getting divorced because they were miserable.

Joe Curcillo: So I just found something that was keeping it alive. Um, so even in that quote security that you think you have as a lawyer, um, no, there's outside forces you cannot control. And the 2008 crash was one of them, especially when your law firm was highly dependent. I was the criminal lawyer. But I had five people working just on real estate, you know, and who thought real estate was going to go belly up, you know, that's like me walking steel and the big guy comes walking over and goes, Hey, I'm going to push you.

Joe Curcillo: You don't see it coming and you just have to ride the tide. So, um, as I said, I'm scared of poverty. I always find solutions, [00:38:00] find a way around it. It's just how I work. How much 

Matt Feret: of this searching and this trial and error and experimentation. Um, is, is motivated by money, does it have to be motivated by money or is it, can it just be 

Joe Curcillo: for the pure pleasure of it?

Joe Curcillo: Oh my God, no. No. It's actually the inverse. Um, wait a minute. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. There's, I'm just looking right now, hanging on my wall. There's 11 guitars. I've never made a penny playing a guitar because I am not very good at it. That doesn't count the ones in cases in the rest of the room. I just love my guitars.

Joe Curcillo: And I hack at it, I play at it. I always tell people if, uh, I get a phone call someday and, um, I got a jam with one of the greats. Give me six months. I'll figure it out. But the truth is, no, it's, it's not, that's not driven by money. That's, [00:39:00] um, I just smile every time I touch one of my guitars. Uh, that's, that's a pure hobby.

Joe Curcillo: I am also an artist. I, I paint acrylic on canvas and, um, we joke in the house that it is about money, um, because I've never sold a painting. I hang them all over the house and every time someone asked me if they can have one of them, I just look at them and say, 10, 000. And they look at me and go, I don't think I'm going to be sold.

Joe Curcillo: Zero. And somebody asked me, they said, what about 500? I said, no, because the minute I sell one, it's going to be a business and I have to support myself with it. Um, no. And it's a high, but that's what keeps my energy level up. Um, during the summer, I don't paint at all, but come. Sometime late September, I'll set up my studio and paint through the winter because uh, Nobody wants to go outside in Hershey In the winter [00:40:00] we we stay in the basement and hide in the warmth.

Joe Curcillo: So I'll paint all winter, but that's what makes me happy It seems, 

Matt Feret: it's, it seems so simple when you say it and, and that's probably what, what brought you to write, right? I mean, you didn't even put author in there, uh, and speak, tell me about when you decided or how you decided, or even if it was a decision point of bringing this out to other people and bringing it to the world and encouraging 

Joe Curcillo: people.

Joe Curcillo: Well, let me, let me say this. I wrote several books. Um, I wrote a book on leadership. I wrote a book on communication. I wrote a book just for the entertainment industry. One of my favorite books was my book. Don't be a hamster. Um, which was 30 ways to spark the imagination of busy people. And it's a great cartoon book with little message [00:41:00] and then a cartoon to go with it, you know, and that book.

Joe Curcillo: is a labor of love because that is how I live my life. Meaning keeping yourself interested, keeping yourself involved. I never thought twice about being what we now call multidisciplinary or cross disciplinary. Um, about a year ago, I met with a business coach who just laughed at me and said, do you understand that you're weird?

Joe Curcillo: And I said, what does that mean? And he said, why do you, write books to put yourself in a box. He said, you're not a leadership speaker. You're not a communication speaker. He said, your hamster books, the one that actually is more you than any of them. And it's a silly book. And I said, okay, talk to me. And [00:42:00] he's, he said to me, it was funny story, but he said, I want you to read.

Joe Curcillo: This verse by Walt Whitman, and it was a quote from Walt Whitman. It said, do I contradict myself? Well, then I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes. And he said, I want you to think about that. And I did. And then I started making a list of everything I do and writing down all the stuff that I do.

Joe Curcillo: And, uh, about three months ago, I sent 72, 000 words to my editor and said, I think I wrote a book. Um, I just got the book back. Um, he got rid of a lot of the words that were useless. Um, but now we're in editing. So the generalist advantage, how the harness, the raw power of multidisciplinary thinking will be coming out later this year.

Joe Curcillo: And, uh, really what that is, is an [00:43:00] analysis of what a generalist is, why generalists think better, why they, why they predict better. And, um, it's funny because I know some people that have dabbled into the same arena, and I look at it going, No, I am. I'm an old curmudgeon. I have a lot of lanes crossing over and a lot to offer the world.

Joe Curcillo: And uh, as I wrote the book, that's when I started meeting some CEOs and some C suite people that wanted to talk to me about cross disciplinary thinking. And it opened up a whole new lane for me as a corporate consultant. So um, So, so talk about 

Matt Feret: that just for a smidge. You're talking to highly successful people with the, with, with the C acronym in them and I have to assume you were interviewing them, uh, as part of your book as in, how did you do it personally or, or what are the benefits or, or downfalls of it?

Matt Feret: And you found, what'd you [00:44:00] find? 

Joe Curcillo: Well, okay, let me, let me back up that. I don't want to correct you, but I will. Um, I did not interview them for the book because a lot of the people that I deal with in the C suite don't get it. And what I mean by that is I was with one on Friday who said to me, Oh, I tried a multidisciplinary approach, but it didn't work.

Joe Curcillo: And I looked at him and I said, yeah, because you put somebody in charge. That person came from silo a. You put him in charge of people from silo A through D. The four people are in a room and at the end of the day, the guy in silo A gave more priority to his silo and the other three rejected the ideas and the team went nowhere.

Joe Curcillo: And he looked at me and said, Um, yeah, that's what happened. I said, yeah, I know it happens all the time. I've lived it. That's why you need me. And he said, what do you mean? I go, I don't have skin in any of your silos and I [00:45:00] can bring them all together. And I said, I could teach you to do it, but I'm afraid at the end of the day.

Joe Curcillo: You are going to be weak and give in to your favorite person and it's not going to work. And let me explain why I said all that to him. Back when I was a prosecutor, I was the head of the Medicaid Fraud Unit for the Pennsylvania Attorney General. And for those that don't know it, multidisciplinary teams existed in medicine for years.

Joe Curcillo: You bring in doctors from all different areas to diagnose a problem and to figure out how to treat it. And they all get to do input. They all come up with ideas and the team is supposed to come out with some solution. Well, when I was in Medicaid fraud, we had a multidisciplinary team that looked at Dr.

Joe Curcillo: Fraud and healthcare issues. The problem was whoever was in charge of the team always gave more emphasis to their lane [00:46:00] than the others. And that's where I come in as a generalist and I argue to people. I talk to these CEOs and I'm telling them, you got to have someone that doesn't have skin in the game in those lanes.

Joe Curcillo: So that way they can keep them all balanced. So with that correction, when I talk to these CEOs, they also know that innovation invention moving forward is going to come from a multidisciplinary perspective. And by the way, I'll share one of my favorite, um, examples. I love, I don't know why I just love his name.

Joe Curcillo: Otto Rowetter. Isn't it a great name? Yeah, that's a good name. Yeah. Otto Rowetter. Now you'll never forget him when I'm done telling you this. I think of him every day. Otto Rowetter was born in the 1800s. And Otto became an apprentice jeweler. Otto worked as an apprentice jeweler. He eventually became a jeweler, opened three [00:47:00] jewelry stores in St.

Joe Curcillo: Louis, Missouri. And then decided that wasn't enough. He wanted to go to school to become an optometrist. So he went to the Chicago School of Optometry. Didn't like that either and decided he wanted to go into the baking industry. Got into the baking industry and here he is with experience in the jewelry and mechanics.

Joe Curcillo: He's got the all the equipment that made glasses. He learned how to do all of that comes into the baking industry. And everybody said to him, look, you're crazy. Bread hasn't changed in a hundred years since the Bible, you know, and Otto Rohwedder said, no, people are going to want sliced bread. And he created the first bread slicing machine.

Joe Curcillo: And now, how many times a day do you pick up a slice, piece of sliced bread because of Otto Rohwedder? Because he changed an industry after thousands and thousands of years, he altered how [00:48:00] it's done. And by the way, at first, nobody cared about the machine. But then, his factory burned down, he didn't give up, he rebuilt the factory, started pumping out more bread slicing machines, nobody cared.

Joe Curcillo: And in 1926 Oh, they invented the home toaster and people needed standardized slicing and Stroman and everybody else went out and got ahold of Otto's machine. So I use him as a great example because he didn't belong in that industry. He was different. He was separate and he brought in something that nobody else had seen because they had done it for so long that he went, no, I see it differently.

Joe Curcillo: And now we're here. We are almost a hundred years later. And how many times have we touched a piece of sliced bread in the last week? Yeah. Now, 

Matt Feret: now, if you see a loaf in the bakery and it's not sliced, you're like, 

Joe Curcillo: yeah, exactly. So my point is the multidisciplinary approach changes the world that, and that's a minor, stupid example, but it's, [00:49:00] no, 

Matt Feret: it's not a minor, stupid example.

Matt Feret: It's a really good example. And I think, and I know we touched on it in the beginning, but I'm going to come back to it. We're not well, we. I don't think most people are raised this way. I think the most people are the safe route, call it the uh, first gen, second gen immigration, you know, immigrant route, which is work hard, move from high school where you're a generalist into college where you're more of a specialist than even, right, to get the real, you know, win in life, do what you do, go get a JD, go get an MBA, go get an MD.

Matt Feret: Or somewhere in there, you don't have to go do a lot of stuff to be, to be successful or start your own business. That's singular. That's not start your own businesses. And the point you're making over and over is there's another way, because if you just think of a single track, start your own business, get your fancy degree, that you're actually potentially missing out on not only [00:50:00] happiness, but you're missing out on multidisciplinary thinking.

Matt Feret: that could actually come together some point down the road that you can't see to something really cool and 

Joe Curcillo: beautiful. Absolutely. Uh, 100%. The look, let's face something here. The world is changing every day. Um, you know, we've come a long way since, uh, they tried to close the patent office because not everything had been invented.

Joe Curcillo: We all remember that as young kids. Oh, they were going to close the patent office because everything's been invented. No, the world is changing. Fast it is changing rapidly and most of the change that's occurring whether even if we just look at the big ones Let's look at, um, Amazon, Apple, Elon Musk, all of their founders and, well, Elon Musk, X, whatever, they're all multidisciplinary.[00:51:00] 

Joe Curcillo: They've all focused. It wasn't just, I'm a computer geek. No, I have business savvy. Um, It's not that I'm just a programmer or a coder. No, I understand books. I understand this. Everything was about people with multiple interests, and that's where they drive. So to me, I'm sorry, but gone are the days where they used to look at people and say, Oh, you have a liberal arts degree.

Joe Curcillo: Yeah, a liberal arts degree was invented for a reason. When it was invented, it was because it was believed that that diverse education is what made you a better human. Somewhere along the line, we all started focusing and being driven in the lanes. And we were all told, stay in your lane, keep your head down.

Joe Curcillo: I was on a call the other day, and it was a group of business people, and the guy that was in charge said to everybody, um, tell us what your [00:52:00] specific lane is. And when it got to me, I said, I can't do that. I mean, like it doesn't, and he started arguing with me because people still have that mindset, but as the world is changing, um, as.

Joe Curcillo: Things are being invented. Look, it is becoming more collaborative, whether it's in digitally or, um, whatever, but you need to be open to seeing what's going to happen. And that is where I believe the generalist comes in because they are more agile. They're more versatile. Um, you can drop somebody like, and I say it my whole career, you can drop me in something and I will tell you how to make it work.

Joe Curcillo: When COVID happened, I was consulting with the government and I told him something big was coming. We started trying to figure out how to handle it. And then all of a sudden everything got shut down and there was about four of us. [00:53:00] And it wasn't unusual for me to wake up and have to run a different department that day because people weren't there because of COVID.

Joe Curcillo: Um, but I knew that because of my knowledge, I could jump between lanes and not care. And even if I didn't know what I was doing, Because I am a lifelong learner and I love learning new things, drop me in a department I know nothing about. And I know how to ask questions to find out how to help them do it better.

Joe Curcillo: And that's really what becomes magical. It 

Matt Feret: is. And, um, even when you're going back to the hobby piece, um, I think there's probably a certain amount of magic. I go and trying a bunch of stuff. I mean, uh, you said guitars. I'll just tell you a little personal story. I played guitar a ton in college. And then I put it away and I still stare at it.

Matt Feret: And I'm like, yeah, I should, I should pick up guitar and I don't. And you know why I don't it's [00:54:00] because the way I played in college was a lot better than I could do today because I've kind of given it up. And I think probably what's holding me back is the work it's going to take and the frustration I'm going to go through to sit back down there and get back to where I was.

Matt Feret: And that's held me back for gosh, I don't know how many years now more years than I'd like to admit so It's got to be listening to you for the last 45 minutes. It's got to be an unhealthy attitude So if somebody else is in that position On even just a hobby or something that I like to do or I thought i'd like to do I've got some i've got i've got some maybe it's Not fear of failure, but certainly an annoyance of, uh, of having to go redo the work, or get to where I want, or get to a level of proficiency I don't want to get to.

Matt Feret: Do you run into that, where it's like, well, I don't want to start something unless I can be awesome at it, 

Joe Curcillo: and Uh, yeah, let me interrupt you right there and say, yes, and I'm gonna give you a piece of advice. Please. [00:55:00] You will never ever be as good as you remember yourself being. Okay? Period. Because truthfully, I played in a band when I was younger.

Joe Curcillo: Okay? I don't think I was as good as I thought I was. Okay? Yep. Um, I just remember how much fun we had. So, When I play guitar, no, uh, I don't have a goal. I have an app on my phone that gives me a couple lessons a day and it reminds me, Hey, it's time to pick up the guitar loser. I have no goal. I have no ambition.

Joe Curcillo: Um, all right, so I'm going to tell a funny story. Um, I got introduced, I was in Chicago, um, I shouldn't say I was in Chicago at the time. I called a friend in Chicago, and he put me on the phone with someone, and the guy was talking to me in a little bit of a British accent or something, and we're making [00:56:00] fun of Tim, and we're both picking on Tim, we're picking on Tim, and all of a sudden I hear Tim's voice get back on the phone, and he said, You idiot.

Joe Curcillo: I said, What's the matter? He goes, I put you on the phone with Alan Parsons and all you do is make fun of me? And I said, Oh, was that Alan Parsons? He goes, yes. And I said, Oh, I'd love to meet him. And Tim said, well, Alan's fat and ugly. He wears loud clothes. He's incredible at playing guitar and he sucks at magic.

Joe Curcillo: And I said, yes. And he said, you're fat and ugly. You wear loud clothes. You suck at guitar and you're awesome at magic. You two should meet. And I remember laughing my butt off and I went, yeah, I do suck at guitar. And that day I had a business card made that I used for a while that said, Joe Cursillo, world's worst guitarist.

Joe Curcillo: I had no aspirations to become a great [00:57:00] guitarist. Um, and I laughed because I always think of that introduction going, no, I know what I'm good at. I know what I'm bad at. Pick up the guitar. Just listen to it. Pull the strings. Stop saying, Oh, I want to be here. I want to be there. Do it for yourself. And that's where the beauty is.

Joe Curcillo: And that's I'm telling you right now, give up on that. I'm not going to get there. Just enjoy it. If it's a hobby, don't have a goal. Just have fun. 

Matt Feret: Thank you for that. Um, this has been a really enlightening conversation and I don't mean that as a throwaway word Uh, I have a lot of guests on that are very goal oriented and point a to point b which is great It's wonderful.

Matt Feret: Uh, but I was really excited to have you on uh, because of the word generalist and multidisciplinary Because I love that and it's something that you have to explain to some people or a lot of people, you know, why do you, uh, you know, I'll just use [00:58:00] your examples, you know, why do you mess around with heavy equipment in your backyard?

Matt Feret: Uh, and then also, uh, running a restaurant. Um, it's fascinating and, um, it seems to most people, it seems, 

Joe Curcillo: um, 

Matt Feret: I don't know, all over the place. And I wanted to hear how it's really not. And even if it 

Joe Curcillo: is, so what? Well, and let me say, if, if, if you've listened to this and you're saying to yourself, I don't want to try something new.

Joe Curcillo: I don't want to do this. All right, stop that. I just was talking to a young lawyer. She's in her twenties and she came to me to look at me as a mentor and I. I was talking to her about something, and I forget what we mentioned. It had to do with a, oh, I know what it was. I mentioned Rocky Horror Picture Show came up in the conversation, and she said, what's that?

Joe Curcillo: I tried to describe what it was [00:59:00] about, and she looked at me and said, Oh, that doesn't make any sense. And I stopped and said, this is a learning moment. The way you raised the corner of your mouth and went, oh, that doesn't make any sense. That's your first step towards lack of growth. I said, stop doing that.

Joe Curcillo: Not everything has to have a reason. Not everything has to have a purpose. Does it make you smile? If it does, that's the purpose. So just find something that makes you smile, tell yourself you're going to learn it. I don't care if it's cross stitching, I mean, the newest, the newest thing on my plate is I'm learning, I want to learn, I shouldn't say I'm learning, I have failed miserably, but I'm trying to work with epoxy resin to make tables, and I studied it, I met with someone [01:00:00] that did it, and look, next time you talk to me, I could tell you that I ended up rezzing my hands together because I'll probably screw up some very expensive wood, but I don't care.

Joe Curcillo: It's, it's something that came across my radar and I said, I'm going to learn it today because to me, life ends the day you stop learning. The day you stop trying to acquire new skills or new ideas, it's done for me. I, I'll close with a comment that I sat with a financial planner and he looked at me and said, what age do you want to retire?

Joe Curcillo: And I remember silence. And I remember my wife's voice saying, Bob, Joe doesn't understand the word retirement. And Bob looked at me and I looked at him and he goes, you didn't even respond. Your eyes didn't move. And I [01:01:00] laughed and I said, yeah, I don't think I knew how to answer you because it's not my nature.

Joe Curcillo: I don't know how to stop because the day I do the day it's over. And I there's happiness in continual learning. There's happiness in being a lifelong learner. It doesn't just stop because we're old. 

Matt Feret: I love it. Joe, thanks so much for being on the show and sharing this. 

Joe Curcillo: It's a pleasure. Take care of yourself, man.

Joe Curcillo: All right. Thanks. You too.

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