22: Transparency with Benefits - Pride & Beyond (w/ Liam Arrington)

In this episode we talk with Liam Arrington, CEO & Founder of Transparent Benefit Solutions and celebrate Pride Month by talking about his journey as an entrepreneur who is transgender, how he started his business, created a thriving networking group, and his involvement in the LGBTQ+ community. Tune in for a meaningful and lively conversation filled with business insights, networking tips, and the importance of honesty and transparency in business and life.

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The Naaman Creative Show
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Episode Transcript

Well, here we are.

Here we are.

Liam Arrington, you are the first guest in our new studio.

So welcome.

Thank you, thank you.

Thank you.

For having me.

Yeah, I appreciate you getting up a little early this morning and joining us.

I know you, like me, stay up late and hustle.

Tampa traffic, you know.

Yeah, and the traffic.

You come across the bridge from Tampa.

We’re over here in Clearwater in our new space.

But here we are with Liam Arrington, CEO and founder of Transparent Benefit Solutions, your business that you started.

Yep.

Pretty cool.

Pretty, pretty, pretty cool.

I was like, the way you were looking at me, I’m like, is he wanting me to fill in the blank or?

So my wife and I are working our way through Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is a pretty funny show.

And he does that.

He’s the guy who made Seinfeld.

He created Seinfeld and then he’s in his own show.

And so that’s what we’re gonna talk about for the rest of this session.

No.

Okay, so you are a business owner.

You’re an entrepreneur.

You are involved in the community.

You’re involved in the LGBTQ community.

You have side hustles.

You network the hell out of, I don’t know what you’d say.

You network hard.

Yeah.

You got several cats.

Where to begin?

Wherever you’d like, sir.

I’m just saying if you start meowing at cats, it’s like starting you on your daughter.

My animals are my life, so that’d be a good chunk of the podcast.

Well, let’s interlace cats throughout this, and I’m sure they will come up.

But maybe, I’m curious on your venture.

I love talking about business, obviously.

I’m a business owner and an entrepreneur.

It’s addicting, as I’m sure you would agree.

I wanna know-

Give or take, yeah.

Yeah.

What’s your take?

Not addicting, but-

Some things are like, it’s give or take, like I said.

Some things are, and then other things, it’s just like, do I wanna do it?

Do I wanna continue doing it?

Oh, yeah.

So it’s both.

I think most everybody I’ve encountered, and myself, it’s a roller coaster.

Yeah.

Like, so we’re three and a half years into Naaman Creative.

I’ve been an entrepreneur since 2008, working for myself in various things.

I’ve been a freelancer.

I started a software company.

I’ve been involved in startups, you name it.

Bands, which I count.

And it’s like the ride of a roller coaster where you’re like, oh my gosh, this is a fantastic day.

We signed this deal.

I felt great, had this good call, good interview.

And then the next day, you’re like, no work’s coming in, is this failing?

100%.

It’s like a 180.

So you’re not alone.

We’re not alone.

That’s why we have to lean on each other.

I don’t know.

So I feel you.

And honestly, if it was easy, then everybody would be doing it.

And there’s like a tiny sliver.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that, I wouldn’t have to work.

Is that a business?

Could we?

Yeah, we could probably make it a business.

Just trademark that.

So then that way, every time somebody says it, they owe me a dollar, I’d be debt-free in like an hour.

But I mean, as cliche as it is, it is true just like musicians and things like that.

It’s like, it’s so hard and it’s a grind.

And like last night, I personally, I got two hours of sleep.

I don’t know about you.

But I know that because of your side hustles and making things flow, you also sometimes sacrifice the old Zs.

But let’s back up.

So what is Transparent Benefit Solutions?

How did you start that company?

So I work in health insurance.

I work mainly with businesses, providing employee benefits.

And when I first got into health insurance, I was working for Aflac.

And when I would go on discovery calls, they would be like, we don’t even have major medical.

Why would I offer something that’s supposed to be quote unquote secondary, right?

So I realized pretty early on that not to get anywhere type of a thing, but just I would be more useful and more of a resource if I offered both.

So that’s kind of what gave me the idea for Transparent Benefit Solutions.

That and through my year and a half of not owning my own company, but being in the insurance field, not everybody is as transparent as they should be.

So, I mean, you know me, you know transparency is a huge thing to me.

I always explain myself as honest to a fault.

So just kind of took it and ran with it.

Yeah, so I don’t, you know, as far as business goes, the point about honesty, I would default to that myself as well, because if you start to fib or stretch the truth in one way, if a client or a partner or whoever, a lead discovers like, hey, they stretch the truth on this, it destroys the potential of what you say in the future.

It’s like, well, is this the full truth now?

And just a little thing.

I’d rather lose a client because I’m too honest with them and they don’t like what I have to say or what I have to offer, than lose a client because I said, hey, yeah, I can do it, and then I can’t do it.

Because not only is that creating headache for them, it’s morally wrong, obviously, and ethically wrong, obviously, but also it’s creating more of a headache for myself as well.

You know, because it’s like that I’m trying to hustle and bustle and bust my ass and try and provide the thing that I said that I could do that I can’t.

So it’s just, it just bites you in the ass all around.

Yeah, yeah.

There’s a great book that I read.

It’s really small by an author I really like, Sam Harris, if you ever heard of him, and it’s called Lying.

And it’s a really great quick breakdown of how any lie anywhere is detrimental to so much and can ripple across your world.

So yeah, anyways, I didn’t expect us to be talking about that, but honestly, it’s in your name.

So I love that.

First off, who’s an ideal client?

Who are you normally working with?

Anything specific?

So we can like cuss and stuff right on here.

Okay, cool.

So ironically, I met with Mike Marcus the other day and he asked me the same question.

He’s like, and I told him the same answer and his response back to me is what I’m gonna start giving people, obviously people that I know, right?

But I have a whore mentality.

So because I am new and because I’m still like doing so many things at once, anybody with five or more employees that is not in the cannabis industry, so.

Not in the cannabis industry.

Correct.

But you best believe as soon as I can work that.

Yeah.

All over it.

Yeah, high risk is a tough one to navigate.

I worked for a high risk payment processing company right before I started Naaman Creative, so I was really familiar with that.

I don’t understand what the holdup is with it.

I mean, I can get it, because it’s not federally legal yet.

Thanks.

But yeah, but they make so much money.

Oh, yeah.

They make so much money, it’s stupid not to, but.

Well, it’s interesting, yeah, you’d think that.

Bunch of red tape over my head.

Uh-huh, uh-huh.

Green tape.

Green tape.

See what I did there?

Yeah.

That’s my joke.

I always have a cheesy joke in there, so that’s done.

I’m done.

I’m not done.

I’m done.

Check.

Yep, yep, yep.

Well, okay.

So with Transparent Benefit Solutions, Transparent BS for short.com.

Yep.

Yep.

I love that.

I was like, yes.

When I saw that you chose that, I was like, great.

I was toying with it for a little bit, because I was like, I don’t want people to get the wrong idea, but then we had the conversation about it, and you’re like, people are going to get it, and either think it’s funny like you do, or people are going to get it and not want to work with you, and those aren’t people that you want to work with anyhow.

And I’m like, you know what?

That’s 100% accurate.

Yeah, you’ve just weeded out a client that doesn’t align with you, because if you’ve got to button up that much, that’s not going to be fun.

And you know me, I have zero filter.

Right, well, you’re doing great so far.

We have one curse word, and it wasn’t really that bad, so we don’t have to mark this explicit yet.

Yet.

But in my mind, Jordan, we’re going to have him, you got the check sheet?

All right, all right.

So, Transparent Benefit Solutions, there’s another double entendre with the word transparent.

Yep.

What, can you explain that?

Yeah, so I’m trans, and just very open and transparent about it.

So it kind of just, I’m a very open guy just in general.

I love it.

So it just kind of made sense.

Yeah, I love that, because it works in many ways.

Yeah.

As the name, it’s meaningful to you.

And it also, for me, I think that realm, it is important at this juncture in humanity to be encouraging or to tell other people who are going through a similar journey that it’s okay, it’s normal, and that helps to normalize it, you know what I’m saying?

And I don’t know if that’s also, is that a goal of yours, is to help others who are trans?

Yeah, so I do try and focus a lot on the LGBTQ community, just because as a trans man myself, I know how shitty insurance can be towards us.

So I do try and help those in the community, but it’s not like you as a straight man is gonna come to me and I’m gonna be like, nah, I’m good, you know what I mean?

I’ll take anybody and everybody, as long as you’re not gonna sit there and be a homophobic, you know, MAGA person through our meeting.

Sure.

I’ll work with you, you know?

But yeah, I do try and focus a little bit on the community, just because there is, I don’t wanna say there’s nobody, but it’s just not as well known, I guess would be a decent way to say it, you know?

Yeah, absolutely.

I think it’s a valiant effort, and it’s important, and it’s meaningful.

Also, it goes along with the name of your business, who you are, and therefore, you don’t have to worry about censoring yourself, or worrying about anything.

It’s there, and so you can align with people or not, and that’s your choice and theirs, and you guys can wish each other well.

Because for Naaman Creative, we’ve turned down work where it’s like, that’s not gonna work, because we’re helping you market a business and grow it, and if we don’t believe in that, or agree with that venture, how could, in our heart, help you?

And why would you want us, who our heart’s not in it, helping you?

That’s the line.

100%.

It makes sense.

There’s plenty of work out there.

But yeah, I love the name of your business, how you’re going about this.

Real quick, how long have you been in business?

So in insurance, September will be two years, and then I created the LLC back in March.

Awesome.

And we’re recording at the beginning of June.

So it’s fresh, but you’re not fresh to the industry.

Correct.

Why health insurance?

What about this industry?

So long story short, and if you want the longer story, you can listen to the Sunleaders podcast with Dan, because that has more of the story in it.

I was in healthcare for a while, got out of it because I just, COVID burnt me out, got back into it, worked at a well-known hospital, went to them on a Thursday, said that I wanted to start scheduling top surgery, which is usually takes about a year to schedule and get everything sorted.

So I anxiously applied to about 80 jobs, and this and a rental car company was about the only two people that offered me, like interviewed and offered me a job in which I could see a career.

Everything else was like Chipotle or something just quick to just start getting money flowing in.

So I took a chance and went with Affleck.

Yeah, that seemed to work out for the best.

Again, that alignment thing, you weren’t in alignment with those other people, did not care.

And it’s interesting because they’re in the health, they’re so close to that realm.

There’s another piece that I really wish I could say, but if I say it, it would like just, you’d be able to figure out who it was, and I just, I really don’t want legal tape.

But there’s some just really crazy facts about that story that like, you’re like, that makes no sense because they’re so open to it already.

Is there anything you can uncover without unveiling too much?

So they have a whole section for people like me in their hospital.

And yet they don’t want to employ a trans person.

Correct.

That’s crazy.

That’s hypocritical.

That’s about all I feel comfortable saying because God forbid, once somebody listens, I just don’t, you know, I’m a little old me, and I don’t have the money to, you know, in case they get legally all pissy about it.

But yeah.

Well, we have an enormous following, as you know.

So I mean, they likely be listening.

It is what it is.

I understand.

And I’m definitely not going to push in any way that you don’t want to.

But I think we got enough out of it where that’s not cool to say it lightly.

But like for us, being in this new studio space, there are particular events that transpired that were not in alignment with us and how we were treated in our business and particular business model decisions at the location that we were previously at.

And here we are, like now we have an awesome space of our own.

And actually we’re in a better spot.

And so like I always look at this progression, whatever happens, as long as you’ve got a good head on your shoulders and you’re a hard worker and you care and you’ve got drive, you’re gonna actually put yourself in a better spot.

My grandfather always told me that an arrow can’t be shot forward without being first pushed back or pulled back.

Whoa, ooh, I like that.

That’s mine now, I’m taking that.

That’s great though, that’s fantastic.

I love metaphors like that because it helps to visualize something that’s so complex in a quick way so that you can just keep moving forward like that arrow.

So yeah, so the days that I have bad days, I’m like, I’m an arrow, just in my pullback era.

So speaking of the pullback, what would you say besides, okay, got fired for being me, what’s the biggest setback since starting your business that you’ve faced?

Obviously, we talked about the roller coaster, but what’s something where it’s like, wow, that sucked, but I’m on the other end?

How did you get over that hump?

I feel like the first one that came to mind was the fact that there’s a company that I worked for that is now not too happy that I’m starting my own company.

And they’ve given me a lot and a lot of shit and done a lot of sketchy things.

Really?

So they’re intimidated by you.

That’s, yeah, but when you’re going through it, you’re just like, why are they doing this?

Why are they doing this?

But I’ve gotten to the point now where it’s just like, you know, shit’s gonna happen the way it’s gonna happen.

And most of my clients, we have the relationship that, if I were to go and suggest something different that might be a better solution or whatever, they’re gonna hear me out as opposed to stay with that company just because they already have it in place or they stop the other, you know what I mean?

So that’s pretty much the only setback that I could really think goes.

But give me two days and I’ll probably have another setback.

Oh, sure.

It’s the whole roller coaster thing.

And they get higher and lower as you progress, but the highs offset the lows for sure.

Yeah.

You know, like you look at like musicians or actors or people who are doing really well or have it made, I’m doing air quotes.

They also have gone through a lot of BS, you know, or a difficult time, like that’s normal.

It’s, I feel like if you don’t have that, then something is waiting to happen, or is your success that sweet?

There’s a great quote I love.

I don’t know if you’ve seen Vanilla Sky.

No, it’s a great movie.

I live under a rock with my 75 ventures, so.

And you’re 17 cats.

Correct, yeah.

I do have one dog.

I’ve got to throw him in there.

He always gets forgotten.

How many cats do you have?

Six.

Six cats and a dog.

Your six cats and dog should watch Vanilla Sky.

It’s with Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz.

Yeah, that’s her name.

Either way, there’s a great quote in there where this guy says the sweet isn’t as sweet without the sour.

And I always like that because you don’t know sweet unless you have something to necessarily compare it to.

Yeah.

You know what I mean?

No.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

I like how that was put, but as far as movies go, that’s a solid one.

So chalk that one up.

That’s your homework.

You’re going to get a little more homework as we go through.

Yes, sir.

Okay.

So, okay, we highlighted a low light.

Now let’s highlight a highlight.

What are you pumped about most recently or the biggest highlight so far of your business where you’re like, heck yeah?

Honestly, so the way that I’m going about getting clients is kind of the slower approach and going through networking.

Just because I realized cold calling and just walking into businesses, like no one’s going to want to sit down with you.

I mean, people do, but not everybody’s going to want to sit down with you and like listen to you.

And they’re like, who is this guy trying to sell me insurance?

So a lot of the clients that I’m going after an hour or getting the hours through networking.

So my highlight is kind of business related, but also more towards the networking event that I’m trying to grow.

So I think you’ve at least heard about it in MPI, the Socialize and Strategize Network Mixer.

Oh yeah.

So June 5th, which we’re recording this on the second, will be our fourth event.

And if everything, if everyone who says yes is coming, we will have gone from roughly 18 to 21 people to probably 50 plus people.

Geez, you got great momentum.

Yeah.

So there’s a lot of momentum going with that.

And I’m just, I’m super lucky, you know, like Alexis Higoskiu and Mark Durkin from the law firm of Douglas G.

Jackson are helping me out with it, Bella Wood from Flagship, Jay Davis from Bulldog Media Consulting, I think is his business name.

They kind of became my board and we’re doing a lot with it.

And yes, it’s not my business directly, but my business is, you know, quote unquote, sponsoring it.

So it’s just more exposure for me in the long run.

Yeah.

And I’ve been posting it on those like little Facebook groups of like, you know, Florida Small Business Network and things like that.

And random people just keep messaging me and be like, hey, I’ll be there.

And I’m like, sounds good.

I don’t know who you are, but all right.

Yeah, get used to it.

That’s the point.

That’s the whole point.

So it was posted on Watermark.

Our third event was posted on Watermark, which is a pretty large LGBTQ magazine for Tampa and Orlando.

So it’s definitely growing.

And that’s my highlight right now.

It’s a big highlight.

Yeah.

That’s great.

You know, with Sunleaders and what I started, we had great momentum.

We aren’t even chalking up those numbers yet.

But, you know, going back to talking about networking and compared to like cold calling and stuff, for me, that is where it’s at.

I mean, it’s a longer play, but I feel like it is much more lucrative is not the word, but more it produces better, more solid results and more meaningful aligned results in the long run, and it establishes your business in a much different way than cold calling and things like that.

Nothing against cold calling, cold emailing, all that.

No, it’s for some people, it’s not for others, right?

For me specifically, I like to be very, very hands on with my clients and know kind of what’s going on and things like that.

So I like to have that relationship and build that bond.

So therefore, you know, the referrals that I get or the things that I get from networking are a lot better for me than me just walking in and being like, Hey, I’m Liam, you want to have a conversation about health insurance?

Yeah, definitely.

It’s enormous.

For me and my business, it’s been a game changer.

And also, it’s super enjoyable.

Yeah.

Because not only do you gain leads that are not just warm, but most of the time, pretty hot.

Yeah.

It is more an alignment, my goodness.

I just have to say the walls are falling around me.

We just hung some soundproof foam.

That whole corner.

Yeah.

So we’re still getting settled.

Maybe it’s just you.

Maybe you have a foam magnet on you, because the ones near me are perfectly fine.

You are doing great.

I have a foam aura or anti-aura.

Yeah.

Okay.

Well.

Back to business.

Back to business.

So networking.

Do it.

Yeah.

But be intentional about it.

100%.

Oh, what I was going to say is also not only do you gain, but you’re able to give.

And giving, you know, so for our clients, they know, a lot of them know that now I have a vast network.

And so if they need someone in the health insurance benefits, mortgage, because we shouted out Mike a few minutes ago, you know, or a lawyer, or print materials, or I mean, the list goes on.

Now I go, Oh, I got I got someone for you.

And so now my business has elevated because of my network and the reliability and trust that I’ve, you know, I have with the people who I’m connected with.

And that people it’s like a prescription with a doctor.

You go to the dentist and they go, Oh, you’re going to need a root canal.

You got to go to blah, blah, blah, because I don’t do that.

And it’s like almost like a prescription because it’s trusted.

Yeah.

And that’s a that’s a huge deal.

And I’ve been trying to calibrate my business and my mindset like that, where when I give someone a referral, it is like a prescription.

Here you go.

Oh, you you need a good pen.

OK, go to Becky.

You know what I mean?

Yeah, it’s actually really funny, too, because like one of my side hustles is working for a franchised pizza restaurant, as you know, pizza.

I love pizza.

Yeah.

So I’m a pizza delivery driver a couple of nights a week, because whatever I make in there quite literally goes just straight back into the business.

You know, like the business is helping me pay bills and stuff like that.

But I have no leftover to put into the marketing and everything for the business.

But it’s funny because now the GM, Brandon, he’s like, hey, you know, a guy.

Do you have anybody for this?

Do you have anybody for that?

Do you have anybody for this?

I’m like, yes.

Hold on.

Just give me a second.

You know, I just every week, it’s like something different.

You know, it’s it’s just funny.

So that’s funny and huge and important.

Yeah, because it’s helping me also because most of the time, I’m giving him somebody from NPI.

So it’s helping me also get stuff back from NPI.

Totally.

But it’s just he’s like, hey, you know, a guy.

I’m like, yeah, I do, Brandon.

I know a lot of guys.

You’ll have to be more specific.

Yeah.

So and by the way, you just mentioned NPI Network Professionals International.

If you listen two episodes back, so that’s episode 20, I interviewed Michelle Bullard, who’s our executive director and owns the region.

And you can get a really good idea of the power of networking in that episode because it is powerful.

It’s enormous.

And also for me, not only does it help my business, but it helps me calibrate as a CEO myself.

Like being surrounded by 30 plus people now who are equally hyped up, passionate, and figuring out what they’re doing and feeding off of their passion.

It’s like win, win, win, win, win, all over the board.

So I love it.

I’m glad that I figured we’d talk about that.

And I’m so glad that you joined our chapter too.

Like it’s so good when I was like, Liam’s gonna join, this is fantastic.

Cause I knew you before that.

So I don’t even know, like, I can’t even remember, how did we meet?

I’m just, I’m trying to like track it down, maybe through Dan Dan, Sunleaders.

Yeah, I think Dan and Eric both invited me from Edge Insights to Sunleaders.

Yeah.

Yeah, we’re cross-breeding, you know?

Well, and that’s what I explain to everybody.

When I network, it’s like the same 10 or 12 of us that go to these events.

Now these events are 50, 60, 70, 80 plus people.

Right.

But it’s the same little group of 10 to 12, 10 to 15 of us that go, you know, it’s Alexis from the law firm, it’s Dan, it’s Mike Wagner from Green Oak Lending.

It’s, you know, it’s the same Eric Nutting, you know, it’s the same group, and it’s like networking with your friends.

Yeah.

So it’s fun.

Also having that strong hub shows like these strong partnerships as you go through each of these hubs, you know, and then bring it back to our hub.

And there’s a lot of power in that because people see like, oh, I’m seeing you guys all the time, and you guys are always trading business and talking business.

And so it elevates all of us at the same time.

And I felt it like I could go to like Edge, and I don’t go to Edge as much as I should because I’m kind of pumping the brakes to focus on Sun leaders intentionally.

But when I like catch the after hour of Edge, I can just walk there and immediately I see like 15 people I know, and it’s like, I’m not, I haven’t lived here for a long time, and it’s like, whoa, this is cool.

They’re like, hey Josh, and I’m like, I feel at home.

It’s really neat.

I feel the exact same way even though I’ve lived in like either Pinellas, Pascoe, or Hillsborough County is like my entire, well, almost 27 years of life.

I’ve never been one to like know people, and my parents like never went out and knew a lot of people or whatever.

And now all of a sudden, like I know people and like I’ll be walking down the street in like downtown St.

Pete, and somebody will be like, hey Liam, like I have no idea who the fuck you are, but hey, you know, like it’s just like, all right, hi.

So it’s weird.

It’s definitely a different feeling.

It’s a good thing though.

No, 100% a good feeling, but just a weird feeling.

Right, oh yeah, yeah.

I’m still calibrating like with sun leaders when people walk in and they have this idea of sun leaders and they already know about it and know about me, and I have no idea who that person is, or same with Naaman Creative or this podcast.

I’m like, this is a wild, wild ride, but it’s fun.

Yeah, it’s a cool thing, and it’s neat.

And it also shows the power of networking and your brand as you go throughout.

Because people think, oh, a logo and your colors and the typography, that’s your brand.

No, Liam, that you are your brand, that is part of your brand, an important pillar of it.

And you being nice and approachable and friendly and passionate out and about, that’s part of your brand of Transparent Benefit Solutions.

Like, that’s awesome.

So I have no doubt that it’s gonna continue to rise as far as your success and your growth.

So I have no doubts on that, and I’m really happy for you and where you’re at.

It’s been cool to watch.

It’s gettin there.

I think this month is gonna be a turning point to where I can go from two-side hustles to one.

Fingers crossed, but I believe that.

Couple things in the pipeline that I’m hopin follow through.

Good, good, good.

Awesome.

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Well, later, as we end, we’ll kind of draw out what might be a good referral, how people can connect with you, et cetera, although they already know they can go to transparentbs.com.

Not quite, because I’m still working on it.

You’re still working on it?

But my email is liam at transparentbs.com.

Okay, so you got the emails.

Yeah, I got the email.

I’ve seen the website.

I got a sneak peek.

Yeah.

It’s almost done.

It’s just, you know, working everywhere, and they’re working everywhere.

I get tired, so I go home and I work on it for like 10 minutes, then I go to bed.

Just launch it.

Yeah.

You’ve got to launch by Wednesday, because that’s when this airs.

So you got two days.

All right.

I can do that.

One full day.

I’ll get it done today, sir.

Yeah, this is the fire you need it.

Yeah.

And you know who to lean on if you need some advice.

So, as far as growth goes, I’m kind of curious to kind of tie some things together.

You know, as your journey as a trans entrepreneur, how your identity influences your business practices or how that’s transpired in your processes and how you go about your relationships.

Is there, you know, I’m just kind of curious about that.

I don’t know if it’s necessarily because I’m trans or if it’s just because me and I’m a very no-bullshit person, but if people say something or do something or they support something, I will, I, closed door.

Just because it is such an unsafe world out there politically.

I mean, I have friends in other states that have gotten shot just for being them.

Yeah, so a lot of people think that we kind of just, not make it up, but just like over exaggerate.

I’m like, no, I have friends that have like quite literally almost died.

I even was a victim of not believing it was as bad as it was because for me, those of you who know me, know that I’m fortunate enough to pass.

I mean, there’s been times where I’ve told people that I’m trans and they’re like, oh, well, why do you still have a beard if you want to be a girl?

I’m like, no, I’m being a guy.

Like I’m transitioning to be a guy.

Like I am a guy, you know.

Success.

Yeah, so, and I’ve only been medically transitioning for a few years now.

So it’s like, I’m very fortunate in that aspect, but it’s just like, it’s crazy, you know.

It just, it doesn’t, you don’t really believe it until it actually happens to you or somebody you know.

So because of that, like if somebody posts something on Facebook or Instagram or, you know, says a comment, depending on what it is, I’ll confront them.

Not in like a shitty way, but I’ll be like, hey, what was the intention behind that?

But also depending on what it is, I don’t even give them the time of day after that.

Because for me, I don’t wanna push who I am or, you know, anything about me in somebody’s face, but at the same time, I expect that same respect.

So like if you’re, you know, going on Facebook and posting a whole bunch of anti-LGBTQ things, well, A, you’re either not going to get my business, or B, you’re not going to get the business of people that are asking for your product.

You know what I’m saying?

Like, so I’m just, I’m very no bullshit because of that.

And I feel like I kind of have to be, to make a, not make a stand, but just make a point, I guess.

I think that’s important for really any business, regardless if you’re trans or gay or straight, like for me, I’m a straight dude, but I still, like alignment is super important.

And if someone acts in a particular way, for instance, if someone was against, you know, gay people or the LGBT community, I wouldn’t want to work with them.

And that’s that, you know?

So like, I draw a line as well, and I feel like that’s healthy, you know, because that then tells the world that this isn’t acceptable, at least for me, and it shouldn’t be acceptable.

And the more people who stand up for it, the easier it is for the people who you’re standing up for.

Somebody posted on Facebook, it was a picture, but it was of a quote, and it said, I’d rather be excluded for those who I include than included for those who I exclude.

Yeah.

And I saw it literally like a day or two ago, and I was like, you know what?

That is like the life motto, right?

Cause I’m very like, I try and include everybody, regardless of if you’re a person of color, whether you’re a, and I say this very lovingly, a nerd who loves like a bunch of like video games and anime and stuff like that.

And I say that cause like everybody around me likes that stuff and I don’t understand it.

But like, hey, you know what, like you do you.

You know what I mean?

Like my cousin, side note, my cousin will call me up and she’ll be like, I just saw this episode and this, that, and the other.

And I just let her go cause I’m like, I have no idea what you’re talking about, but it makes you happy.

So you know what?

You know, but I would rather be quote unquote hated or excluded for people that I accept and love than the opposite.

Yeah, that’s a really great way to put it.

You know, there’s this Ted Talk I watched a long time ago, and it’s such a simple thing, and it’s like, uh, duh.

But it’s like the guy who was like, you know, get away from the people who bring you down and align with the people who uplift you.

And it’s like, you know what?

Like if you’re around people who, even if it’s not like huge, but slowly chip away at positivity or growth or progressive change, like what are you doing?

Yeah, just had to go through that, unfortunately, business-wise.

Business-wise.

I get that 100%.

Can you expand on it?

We are now a company of one.

Ah, too many willikers.

Well, that’s part of it.

Yeah, it’s part of it.

Part of the rollercoaster.

100%, and since that happened, crazy because that happened, and then two days later, one of the guys, I’m not exactly sure of his title, but one of the guys from Watermark was like, yeah, our health insurance lady retired, and we’ve not been able to find a new one, and we’d love to just sit down with you.

And I’m like, sure, you know.

Perfect.

So things happen the way they’re meant to.

Oh, yeah.

Oh, yeah.

I love it.

So I don’t want to harp on it too much, and I’m probably nearing the end, but it’s just, it’s such a, it’s unique and it’s not, because as everybody knows, there are straight people, gay people, trans people, all around us.

Everybody is different, and it’s actually not as uncommon as we think.

I think it’s just people have to hide themselves or their true selves.

Yeah, I feel like, not to interrupt you, but I feel like I’m like the token trans friend just because I am so honest about it.

But I would urge people to really look around you, because I bet you know at least five people that are a part of the community that aren’t as open as they are.

Right, yeah.

As you know, as like me or Dan is about it.

Sure, it’s important.

Also, you guys are like some of the loveliest people I know.

You know, and that’s the weird thing is like first off, have you ever, you know, someone who’s like against this stuff, have you ever actually had one conversation with someone who’s LGBTQ plus?

Because yeah, like it’s so pleasant.

And also number two is, what the hell are they doing to affect you?

How in any way does someone marrying whoever they want affect you?

I just can’t get over that.

Like, how are you so hung up on someone else’s life?

And I think it’s because they’re unhappy with their own, or they have their own stuff to deal with, or it’s projection that they might be gay.

And so they’re mad about it, and they’re conflicted about it or whatever it is.

And so they just project hate about that.

And that’s an unfortunate negative coping mechanism.

But it just blows my mind that that happens.

It’s like, how do you care?

It’s like, for me, someone who…

I grew up playing hockey, but other people play basketball.

It’s like me being mad that people play basketball and not just hockey.

It’s like, how does that affect me?

I can still play hockey.

It doesn’t matter at all.

And there’s so many other analogies to that.

It’s like, what are you guys doing?

Get a hobby.

I mean, my dad is a perfect example.

My dad is nearing 60, and he grew up in deep south Georgia, okay?

Like BFE Georgia, middle of nowhere Georgia.

So when I came out as, I first came out as a lesbian, then I came out as non-binary, because I was like, I don’t feel like a stereotypical male or female.

And then when I came out as trans, so each time that I came out to him, I was 100% expecting him to be like, all right, see ya.

And when I came out as trans, that’s when I really was like, all right, cool, I’m gonna be disowned.

You know what I mean?

Because my dad, I don’t think he would hate me saying this, but when Trump ran for president, he was a big Trump-er, but not in the sense that he idolized him, like those certain people do, but just was very Biden-stupid and this, all that, whatever.

Politics aside, him and I had a lot of fights about it, because I was like, he’s also trying to extinct, make LGBTQ people extinct, or have even 10 times harder lives as we already do now.

In this election, I see him, we’re now Facebook friends for a while, we weren’t Facebook friends, but it’s funny, because he is honestly probably one of my biggest supporters.

Last night, he posted on Facebook, he shared a picture, and it said, be careful who you hate, it could be somebody you love.

I love that.

Yeah, and it’s just like to see, I’m getting goosebumps, because it’s like, my dad’s like this big, six-five, 300 pound man, and to see him totally turn a leaf has just been crazy.

I was gonna say that earlier in our conversation, because there’s a lot of people who like, hate, and then their son or daughter ends up being gay or something like that, and then they are forced to actually comprehend and face, like, actually, is this a big deal?

Does this change my love for somebody?

And the answer should be no.

And then they’re transformed.

Yeah.

And usually, then they go about, that’s so awesome to hear about your dad, and I was actually wondering about kind of your process of coming out and how that went.

I’m sure it was a roller coaster, but it seems like things have smoothed out in the family realm, at least, yeah?

Yeah.

What about friends?

I mean, most of my friends, I’ve not lost friends because of it, because most of them are a part of the community anyhow.

I truly don’t think, until I met this little group of networking people that we have, you know, the little group, I don’t think I had a straight friend in me, or, you know, in my group.

Like, everybody’s either bi or gay or lesbian, so it’s like, we’re all just like a bunch of, you know, queers, you know?

But yeah, I mean, my dad, he’s just, he’s taken it to a level that I never thought he would.

Like, he has literally blocked people for sending him like funny, quote unquote, right, transphobic jokes, and he’s like, hey, my son’s trans, that’s not funny.

Awesome.

And then somebody will send another one, and he’s just like, fuck it, and blocks the person.

And it’s just like, when I hear stories like that, I’m just like, it’s not that hard.

If you truly care about being a decent human, and you just care that people are happy, nothing else that matters about it, then it’s really not that hard.

Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Yeah, really, you’re making it way harder.

That’s the crazy thing is, everybody is making it way more complicated than it needs to be, live and let live.

Yep.

You know?

Like, it’s not your life, live your life.

And let other people, would you want someone to do that?

Like, if I’m straight and someone’s gay, and they’re like, hey, you’re straight, so fuck you, you know?

By the way, we’ve already had to make this explicit.

Yeah, no, sorry, that’s my bad.

I believe our first Naaman Creative episode that’s gonna be explicit, so.

Might be.

No.

How long did it take your dad?

How many years or how long has it been since he’s made this full transition to now he’s in full support mode?

Because I imagine it wasn’t immediate.

So it kind of was.

So before I came out as trans, I always toyed with the idea of getting top surgery, which is, for those of you who don’t know, getting the breast removed.

Because I just like, I didn’t feel me in my body.

So I told, he was the first one that I told about, and he was like, eh.

And like, he had his reservations, which I get, right?

It’s surgery.

And then when I ended up coming out as trans, I don’t really remember exactly how it went, but he wasn’t like super static, obviously, but he also wasn’t like super hateful about it.

And there were a couple, probably first six months to a year or so, there were constant mess ups with pronouns or names.

Sure.

But I also, I had just started medically transitioning, so I still kind of looked like the kid that he raised as opposed to the kid he raised with a beard.

You know what I mean?

Sure, sure.

But now he doesn’t mess up.

I mean, like I said, it took him about a year, but my first Christmas that I had come out, because I started medically transitioning in August, and that following Christmas, I remember he got me a Christmas card, it said sun, like it was a sun-themed card.

Cool.

And for those of you who don’t know, it’s very, very hard to cry on testosterone.

And that was the first time that I actually cried on testosterone.

Oh wow, wow.

So I still have it on my bulletin board, and I don’t think he realizes that, because he never comes over, because we live like an hour away from each other.

But I still have it hanging up.

That’s a good one to save, for sure.

Yeah.

Huh.

Man.

I mean, so we’re talking about other people loving you.

What about yourselves?

Like, what was the journey with loving, you know, coming to terms with this is me?

Because I imagine that there was a struggle, like, huh, I am this, but I feel that.

And can you kind of talk through that?

I always laugh when people ask me, because they’re always like, how’d you find out?

Like, how’d you know?

And I always laugh because I have a very abnormal story.

So with testosterone, you can do what’s called microdosing, which you take like half or a third of the amount of a normal dose, and it gives you some of the effects, but not all.

So when I was identifying as non-binary, I wanted to do that just to like lose some of the more feminine features, but I didn’t want to go full man either.

So I was going from by they, them pronouns.

And one of my best friends, and I’m gonna drop her name because I’m gonna have her listen to this so she gets, you know, all the shit that’s deserved.

Uh-huh.

One of my best friends, Rachel Goldman, would always, always, always, always, always fuck up my pronouns.

Because I had the short hair, I dressed more masculine, right?

So instead of using they, them, she would always use he, him.

And at one point, I was just like, you know what?

Fuck it, let’s do it.

And we just went full throttle.

So I was like, you know, it is what it is, let’s just try it out, you know?

So about a few months later from that, and I identified as non-binary for about a year and a half or so.

And once I kind of was just like, you know what?

Fuck it, let’s just go full throttle instead of microdosing.

Beyond happy, I never looked back.

That felt right.

Yeah.

Just clicked?

Yeah.

Yeah.

Like once I started the hormones, and I started, you know, seeing the facial hair and, you know, my leg hair grow seven miles long.

Oh, I’m very familiar.

Yeah.

I trimmed my entire body yesterday.

Yeah.

Maybe that’s TMI.

It is what it is.

There’s a lot of hair all over.

No, yeah.

You know, and the voice drop, which in my head, I still feel like I still have the same voice, but whatever.

It just made sense, you know, so.

That’s interesting, because like for me, I’ve only known you as Liam.

Yeah.

You know, so it’s like completely normal.

And in fact, when I had first met you, I wouldn’t have known either, really.

Also, I don’t really like, usually put people in a box.

I’m just like, okay, there you are.

You’re a person?

Great.

Wonderful.

And what are we actually trying to talk about?

Are we playing a game?

Are we having fun?

Yeah.

Like, I don’t care who you love or what you are, you know?

And it’s actually really, really funny, because there’s a guy at the pizza place that I work at and he’s gay.

And he just recently started.

And it’s just kind of funny that you say that, because a lot of people who aren’t a part of the community are just like, eh, whatever, I’m not trying to put you in a box.

They don’t realize that I’m trans, right?

But if I walk up to somebody I don’t know on the street, it’s like their gaydar goes off of like, they’re a part of the community, but how?

You know what I mean?

Yeah, sure.

And we both felt it about each other.

And then come to find out, he was talking to me about graduation.

He’s like, yeah, I’m just curious about how many people come out now.

And I’m like, what do you mean?

And he’s like, I’m gay.

And I’m like, I knew it.

And I’m like, I’m trans.

And he’s like, I knew it.

It’s really funny.

Sometimes I feel that about drummers.

I don’t know what it is.

You just pick up on things and you just know.

I feel like you’re good at timing.

Am I right?

You just pick up on little things and you just figure it out.

Oh, man.

Well, I mean, I don’t know.

I feel like we could talk about this all.

Because it’s such an interesting realm, because for me, I’m very much interested in evolution and biology and science.

And it’s interesting how interesting nature can be.

Because it’s like nature has put you in a body, and then nature has influenced your way about feeling what you are in that body, and then nature has taken over on transitioning you into who you are now, which feels right.

It’s such an interesting thing, because it’s so dynamic.

And you look at sea creatures and things like that, being asexual or the males having the babies.

Yeah, exactly.

And they shoot them out.

So nature is this wild, dynamic spectrum.

And so it kind of makes sense that humans, because we’re so complex, that this happens.

But it’s also fascinating.

I don’t know if you have a perspective on how fascinating it is, or you reflect on it.

It cracks me up, because when people start spewing their anti-LGBTQ agenda, they’re like, this wasn’t God intended, and this isn’t natural, and this, that, and the other.

Well, technically it is what he intended, because clearly this is how it’s playing out.

And I’m about to be really explicit, so I apologize in advance.

You stupid fuck.

You know what I mean?

There’s stories of penguins that are lesbians, and there’s monkeys.

And like we just said, seahorses.

And it’s just like, yeah, it’s not as common, but animals don’t also have the brain capacity that we do.

You know what I mean?

So it’s like if they did, who’s to say it wouldn’t happen?

You know what I mean?

So it’s just one of those things.

It’s really fascinating.

But also, this is the way things are.

And again, it’s like, why does someone care?

Anyways, that’s kind of where I wanted to end this, just back and forth.

It’s still going to be back and forth, but we have reached a moment in this interview called The Rapid Fire.

I’m judging your sound.

Oh, yeah, I know.

Because I know Jordan’s probably going to overdub it, although you might keep this one.

That was pretty good.

Pretty…

No, okay, no.

So I’m going to ask you some questions.

What’s up?

Give me your quickest responses if you can.

If you have to elaborate, that’s cool, too.

But here we go.

You ready?

Ready.

All right.

We’ll see if you win.

What is your biggest source of inspiration?

The girl that I’m involved in in her kids.

Wonderful.

So family or…

Yeah.

Love.

Cool.

Very complicated situation, but yeah.

Yeah?

Yeah.

All right.

That will be in part two.

Do you have a favorite book?

Yes.

So for fun, The Giver by Louis Lowry, which is ironically the only fiction book that I’ll read, but a book that I’ve already read twice this year is called The Mountain is You by Brianna West, something like that.

I can’t recommend that book enough.

That has totally transformed my thinking.

The Mountain is You, is it about overcoming internal blockages?

Yep.

It’s realizing that you are standing in your own way 98% of the time.

Cool.

Awesome.

Love it.

Do you have a favorite musical artist or album?

Adele.

Wow.

That was quick.

Most people struggle with that.

All right.

No.

Back in high school, there were some songs that got me through some days.

I didn’t think I’d survive.

Oh, great.

Good for you, Adele.

That was a nice voice crack that was in that sentence, too.

I love it.

We got it all in this episode.

Perfect.

Adele, I’ve heard she’s pretty good.

I’ve heard of her.

If I ever saw her in concert, I would literally just step foot in my casket the very next day, because my life would then be complete.

You know what I mean?

Nothing else would be needed.

Didn’t she just call out someone who said something bad about Pride?

Did you see that news?

I did not, although I’ve not been on any social media the past three or four days either.

It was like the last day, I think it was Adele, where she called out someone who said, screw Pride or something like that, and she stopped her show and called that person out.

No, I love her so much because she is so real.

You know what I mean?

And she doesn’t give a shit.

Good for her.

That’s what it’s about, especially when you have a mic like that.

There’s things that you can do with that microphone to help tell people, huh, maybe I could speak out the next time someone’s a dick like that.

So you only have one business tool from here on out to use.

What is that tool?

Google.

All right.

Google.

Pretty powerful.

Pretty powerful, and there’s a lot of uses for it.

So Google.

Yeah.

Well done.

Well done.

I use Google, and we use Google Workspace, so I feel you there.

I’m like looking at a Google Doc right now in front of me.

Google.

Anything you don’t know, just Google it.

Yeah.

This is a cliché one, but I kind of like it now.

It’s a new one in Rapid Fire.

You’re the first.

Okay.

So if you could have dinner or spend a day, I’m going to change it.

If you could spend a day with any person dead or alive, who would they be?

Either Florence Nightingale or Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Man, you’re good at Rapid Fire.

All right.

Last one.

You’re doing great.

How do you define success?

Happiness.

One word.

Mic drop.

Boom.

Done.

I love it.

So you won Rapid Fire.

Your trophy is waiting outside the door for you.

Great job.

But really, happiness is one of those that is one of the most common answers.

I like asking these same questions because I have so many different kinds of people on this show, and that’s woven into every answer pretty much.

It’s not money.

There’s a book.

No, there’s a book that I recently, I started and then I stopped because I wanted to read another book more, but it’s called The Happiness Advantage, and it basically is about how people think that you have to be successful before you can become happy.

But people who become happy with their situation, what they have first become more successful.

100%.

So if you chase happiness before success, then you will be more successful.

Yeah.

Yeah, if you’re trying to chase success, you’re likely going to find yourself in some position or job or endeavor that you’re not in alignment with.

My wife and I just rewatched Soul by Pixar.

I don’t know if you’ve seen that.

I’ve not.

It’s on the to-do list though.

It’s not a children’s movie.

Yeah.

A lot of the ones that they’re coming out with nowadays, like Elements, not a kids’ movie.

No.

That one had me tearing up a little bit.

Soul’s pretty heavy too, but that’s definitely about like there’s this zone and there’s this realm where there are these black creatures who are going, make a trade, make a trade, make a trade, make a trade.

And they’re just caught in this terrible situation where they don’t like.

And so it’s an interesting illustration that Pixar decided to do it like on hedge fund stock traders, but all they’re doing is like zombies make a trade, make a trade.

It’s a good illustration of that.

Not to say that, hey, there’s a lot of people who are passionate about that.

I traded for like a year on Robinhood, but it started to suck my soul and take way too much energy.

And I was like, I’m going to find Dan Westfall, and I’m going to have him do my trading.

It’s not like we’re trading big money, but it’s progress.

All right, cool.

So a couple of things to conclude.

Number one, what does the business look like in five to ten years?

What are your goals?

Goals I would love to be able to, you know, in five, ten years, maybe have a couple of employees underneath me.

Be able to not have 75 different jobs.

Yeah.

Yeah.

I mean, I’ve not right now, it’s just kind of like, I have to think the next six months, you know what I mean?

So like in the next six months, I want it to be my only job, obviously.

Perfect.

And become profitable that way.

Wonderful.

Awesome.

You’re on the path.

There’s no doubt about it, and you’ve got a great support system in which it’s going to continue to help.

You have a very anti-foam aura, sir.

I do.

They literally almost all fell on your side, and I’m over here just chilling.

I’m going to write this double-sided tape company because we’re going to get some different tape.

But hey, it’s a process.

Everybody will see that this is going to look really cool when the walls aren’t falling.

All right, a piece of advice that you’d love to drop on any person listening, whether they’re a business owner, they’re a sports player, they’re gay, they’re straight, whatever it is, biggest piece of advice.

It’s not about you.

Something that I struggle with a lot, but a lot of the times that people, the way people act or interact with you or somebody else is not because of them, it’s because of something they went through or something that they’re dealing with or something that’s already on their mind.

Hmm.

I love that.

I love that.

It’s not always about you.

Yeah.

That’s great.

It’s not always about you, but definitely it’s about me.

Yeah.

I can resist.

Okay, so I did do two corny jokes, great.

We started it and ended it with a bad joke.

You got the corny-ness side of things.

I got the motivational, inspirational side of things.

We’re good.

Full-rounded, full-rounded.

I like to give my guests the spotlight and make fun of myself.

Okay, we kind of had mentioned obviously your business name and everything, but what’s the best way that people can get ahold of you, connect with you, and support you?

Support would be either come out to socialize and strategize events.

If you look up Socialize and Strategize Networking Mixer on Facebook, you can follow the page there, or you can follow the Instagram page at Transparent Benefit Solutions, or listen to the podcasts, which will be all linked, transparentbs.com, had to think about that.

transparentbs.com, which will be out by the end of this week, hopefully, fingers crossed, because I’ve been saying that past month.

So support, and then what else?

What were the other questions?

And contact you, so-

Oh, contact, same way.

My email is liam at transparentbs.com, and then Instagram is, again, at TransparentBenefitSolutions.

Fantastic.

Awesome.

I appreciate you being you and being open and such a nice, awesome person that you are.

It’s been really a pleasure becoming your friend.

You know, I look at it, you’re my friend first, and now we’re partners, and I don’t know.

It means a lot that you come on the podcast.

It is appropriate for the month of June, and it’s cool that you said June is going to be this pivotal month in my business.

I love that.

How fitting.

I don’t know.

It’s just another month, and honestly, just like Earth Day or Earth Month or whatever it is, Earth Day needs to be every day.

It’s kind of the same with June or what Juneteenth is.

We need to all just make sure we’re taking care of this day to day.

Come on.

The first Pride was a riot.

My goodness.

Well, what do you think about it?

You know, we had stonewall and everything.

Yeah.

Well, it’s far from that now.

It’s just a big old celebration.

Are we, though?

What?

Have you ever been to St.

Pete Pride?

Have you seen the amount of police presence trying to keep us all safe?

Well, yeah.

You know what I’m saying?

But St.

Pete Pride is awesome.

No, it is.

It is, 100%.

But yeah, yeah.

I mean, it seems like all of the…

Wherever there’s a gathering of a lot of people, because there’s mob mentality, that’s a real thing, regardless if it’s a sporting event or for humanitarian things or politics, there needs to…

It doesn’t need to be, but there are police presence because of that mob mentality.

No, 100%, but I know hate crimes have taken an uptick this year as well, so…

Really?

Well, let’s go ahead and stop that, people.

If you’re listening and you’re being a dick, reevaluate yourself.

Stop.

Maybe be vagina instead.

There we go.

I like ending it on…

You already got to make it.

You already got to make it explicit.

You know what I mean?

Well, if you’re not in alignment with this episode, you got this far, and you’re okay.

Your ears are okay.

Everything’s okay.

Well, thanks again, Liam.

Of course.

Thank you for having me, sir.

Appreciate it.

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