HOW TO MAKE DREAMS REAL :: Ross Mathews won the hearts of millions when he debuted as a correspondent for The Tonight Show. The comic then parlayed that to a regular spot at the roundtable on Chelsea Handler’s former show on E! and says he is living the life he always dreamed of. Mathews spoke with GGN* publisher Shaun Proulx on Proulx’s SiriusXM talk show about how we can all manifest our deepest desires.
Ross Mathews: I’m so happy to talk to you!
Shaun Proulx: I’m so glad too. Do you know the first thing I did when I got a show on SiriusXM was put your damn face on my vision board? Before that I had the business card of the director of programming’s on my board – for months as I pitched – until I got the show.
Ross Mathews: Are you kidding me? Why am I only talking to you now? I would have been there day one!
SP: You have ‘people’, all these filters, publicists, and you have your own talk show. You’re super important and busy and famous.
Ross Mathews: Ha!
SP: But, you really were at the top of my list when I got the show. And I did what a girl does, and put your face on my vision board, and I share that because I understand you do vision boarding too.
Ross Mathews: Right now I’m looking at my board in my office, and Liza Minnelli’s face is on it.
SP: I have to share how powerful vision boards have been in my experience. My biggest example is from when I left my previous career in finance. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Like, at. all. I had zero savings and zero game plan. I just knew I wanted to be creative and a communicator. And I bought a book, and I bought some pencil crayons, and I was just sketching, but I drew a little stick-figure picture of me, and a little microphone, and I wrote “The Shaun Proulx Show”, with an arrow pointing to me. And now here I am, talking to someone who has made his own version of a similar dream come true, and… I guess that’s what I love about what you do, and what I get to do: anyone attracted to this interview will get a big message… we can be, do, have anything.
Ross Mathews: I wrote a book is called, Man Up!, and this is not a plug, I’m saying this for a reason: I define “man up” as celebrating whatever makes you unique, whatever makes you different, and using it to make you stand out from the crowd. I get emails every day from people who are afraid of what makes them different, who see what makes them different, I think your story and my story is a testament to people, to say: Use whatever you are to make you stand out from the crowd, and what is it that you want to do, and take that risk, and see what you can accomplish, and not to be all, “self-helpie”, but I know amazing things can happen. Your story gave me chills. Amazing things can happen if you just say, “No, no, no…I don’t have to be whatever I am, right now, I can be whatever and whoever I want”. I think that’s an important thing to hear.
SP: Are you aware of how delighted so many people are that you are seeing the success you are seeing? Do you feel it?
Ross Mathews: Listen, you know, I do, because I am working really really hard, and I see it in terms of people that are showing up for the show. You see it in the ratings, but I feel it, especially when I go out on the street. People talk to me, and everywhere I go. People saw me on Leno, a college kid with a dream, I’ve had the same dream since I was eight years old, to become a talk-show host, and to do it in a way that wasn’t about, “Oh, we’re so cool, and you’re so lame”, but do it in a way, instead, that is more, “I love it, you love it, let’s talk it out”. I just won the lottery.
SP: Can you believe that you are doing what you always wanted to do, because sometimes I can’t believe my luck. You mentioned Liza Minnelli. There was a time she was on my show, and it was crazy to me, or Joan Collins… huge people I grew up with, and you’re doing the same thing! Can you believe it?
Ross Mathews: Yes I can. And you know that sounds bad, but if I didn’t believe it, then who else would? When you look like me, and you sound like me, television broadcasting is not necessarily the job you should go into. So if I didn’t believe it whole-heartedly, no one else would have. And trust me, it took a long time to get people to believe that this was possible, and that this was destiny, but I did it.
SP: What’s other qualities have you maintained within you – self-belief, obviously – but as a guy who likes to encourage people to go for it, I love asking: What did you do right to get you to where you are today?
Ross Mathews: There are a few answers to that, but I think, quite honestly, is I never accepted ‘no’. And today, I’ve gotten four times more nos, than I’ve got ‘yes’ – just today – but it was always about pivoting for me. It was about that I had this angle, and nothing was going to get in my way. Nothing, not practicality, not adversity, not tragedy, nothing was going to get in my way, and with every no, I pivoted and turned into a yes. If there was a cracked window, I did some renovation and turned it into an open-door possibility. That’s really it. There was no other choice for me. I’m good at two-and-a-half things, and hosting a good show is one of them. The other ones are training my rescue doggies and I make really good chicken.
SP: I saw you a reality reno show called Interior Therapy.
Ross Mathews: Yes!
SP: And you were a man in control. You knew what you wanted. Your persona can come across sometimes as submissive, but I saw a man who was a top when it comes to what you wanted in life.
Ross Mathews: No. I’m in control. I’m kind, I’m always kind, but people confuse kindness with weakness. There’s nothing weak about me. I know exactly who I am, I know exactly what I want, I’ll always live my life with kindness but you will not stop me. What you say will not affect me, and I believe whole-heartedly why I’m here. I have a purpose, and this kind of show is not about me, it’s not about money, it’s not about success, it’s about my impact on the world. For everyone it’s about: what is your impact is on the world, what are you going to leave behind, how are your kids going to define you in one sentence, when you’re long gone? I hope that my kids will one day say, “My dad made people happy.” That’s what it’s about: What is your purpose? What is your impact? And so that’s why it doesn’t stop me.
SP: I’m still absorbing something you just said, the idea that you’ve had more nos today than yeses. I’ve come ton understand that even when you get into the space you want to be, it’s not suddenly a perfect reality where everything goes your way. Oprah’s been a huge influence on me; sometimes I’ll get a problem that seems bigger than me and I think – for a nanosecond – ‘Noooo!’ But then I’ll say, “Oh. I’ve got an Oprah-sized problem”. Here I’ve been trying to build a big life for myself, and so now that I’ve done that and keep doing that , well, here come the bigger problems, and – as you said – you still do have more people saying ‘no’ to you. It doesn’t actually get easier, it just becomes larger.
Ross Mathews: Absolutely! Especially, I’ve found, that I’m always having to top what I just did, you know what I mean? And as you try to do that, and do things differently all the time, you get No’s just like you did in the early days, except now you’ve just got a little more power behind you.
SP: What’s the pressure that someone like you puts on himself to continue to do really well?
Ross Mathews: It changed when I got a staff. Literally, to take this phone call, I just ran out of a meeting with the staff, and you see all these faces looking at you. That’s where the pressure comes from, it’s not about, “Oh, I don’t want this to fail, because it’ll be a failure for me. It’s about the staff and these people who create every day. It’s this living, breathing thing, and it’s this pressure I didn’t anticipate, because I’ve never sat in this chair. I understand Jay Leno differently than I did before. I understand Chelsea Handler than I did before, just on another level, because I understand what it looks like now to be sitting in this chair. If I don’t do my job, and don’t do it in the right way, these are people who have to go home to tell their kids they don’t have a job.
SP: You’ve got the Oprah-sized problems.
Ross Mathews: Ah, yes, Oprah-sized problems! Luckily I’ve got very broad shoulders.
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This transcript has been edited from the full conversation. To hear the entire interview click here.