Getting to Know
How often do we, as men, make a soulful connection
with each other?
A man told me just yesterday that following his
recent relocation to a new area, his wife had made
fast friends with many of their neighbors. He said
he held back being chummy with the guys
until he could hang out or play a
game of poker with them.
Sound familiar to you?
Stan Sherman knows how to make instant heart
connections with men. To know this man, he must be
experienced in person. His energy is fabulous!
Hes funny, smart, and down right
effervescent! This article does not capture
one-tenth of the essence of this great guy. I count
him as a friend of mine, and he also happens to be
the Enrollment Coordinator for The ManKind
Stan was willing to talk with me just days
before his marriage. He and his bride, Kathy, were
getting hitched the next weekend and were preparing
to fly to Hawaii from Philadelphia for their
honeymoon. Stan took some time out of his busy
schedule to share some of his stories about how men
can more easily talk to men.
In our telephone chat, I started off by telling
Stan how I had mangled a conversation with a man
sitting next to me on an airplane. It was late at
night and I was tired, making the second leg of a
trip that started in California and ended up in
I like talking about mens work
so I asked the man a bunch of questions right out
of the text book
like if he was familiar
with mytho-poetic stuff or rites
of initiation or finally, in desperation,
those guys who bang drums in the
woods?! He was completely turned off and
adjusted himself in his seat and stared out the
window. We didnt speak the rest of the
Stan said he could help me out with a few
suggestions on how I might handle the next
opportunity to connect with another man.
This is what I do, he began. I
ask the man about himself. I ask him something
simple like, what do you do for a
living? He tells me what he does, then I tell
him what I do.
Stan has a day job as the National Sales
Director for a Barcelona-based textile company. He
said he loves what he does in this thriving
company. However, when I talk about what I
do, I also talk about my passion around The ManKind
Project, he added. I then tell the man
that my real passion is with this organization. I
tell him that this is what I do for a living
and this is who I am.
So, inevitably the man asks What is The
I tell him about the New Warrior Training
adventure, Stan said. I respond by
saying its probably the best mens
leadership training Ive ever found.
The man usually says, Oh really
I then go into a process where I ask the
man a lot of questions. I call it an interview
my belief is that men out there want to
connect with other men, but they havent done
this kind of mens work and dont know
the steps to take to make that kind of connection.
One of the things I was told once was that women
are about relationships and men are about scores.
You know, theres a man on second,
its the bottom of the ninth, with two
a lot of men want to go a little
bit deeper. Ill have a more fully engaged
conversation with a man 9 times out of 10
Thats a pretty good score, Stan. Tell me
about one of those times.
So Im coming back from New York on
an Amtrak train to Philadelphia and this guy is
sitting across from me. He turns to me and asks, as
most men do, what do you do? I tell
him, Im in the textile industry, I love
what I do, but my passion is my involvement with
the ManKind Project and the NWTA weekend. He
tells me hes in the IT field and works in
Boston, but of course what he asks about is the
ManKind Project and the NWTA weekend. Before I tell
him about the weekend, I ask, why dont
you tell me more about yourself? So he tells
me about himself, his marriage, his job
So, heres what I do
have a conversation with that man about whats
important to him. I make a connection with him.
Most men we meet are only used to talking about
news, weather and sports. I start asking him about
him. The conversation about the weekend happens
much later. I then tell him about me. I tell him
about my life and where Im at - the struggles
I have as a parent and with my relationships. So we
both connect from a heart place and get to know one
Then I say to him, I learned a lot
about my life on the NWTA weekend.
I create an atmosphere for a deeper conversation
before I talk about the weekend. When I do talk
about the weekend, I tell him about the all the
gifts Ive gotten from it. I say, I
learned what was stopping me from doing good things
in my life; I learned what was keeping me from
doing things I did not want to do in my life. There
were some things I wasnt accomplishing and I
didnt know what was stopping me. The weekend
gave me a lot of insight. I learned that I was
spending a lot of time in my head and I was missing
the heart and soul of life especially with
my daughter. Do you have kids? I
ask him. Yes, I do, he says. Tell
me about them, I say.
Now Stan has the man talking from his heart
about his children, who are important to him. After
really listening to the man, Stan continues with
the theme of leadership.
One of the things I learned in my
leadership was to lead by following
it was a
whole new concept for me.
The guys says, what do you
mean? So I tell him that Ive learned
from my daughter to listen
to really hear
hear what shes saying.
By now the guys head is bobbing up and
down in recognition.
Im learning to have patience with
her, Stan continued. These are all
skills that Im learning through mens
work. My life has been blessed. Its opened my
world and improved my relationships in my family.
It wasnt that things were all that bad, they
just got better.
The guy then tells Stan all about his parents,
wife, and kids.
Before we know it, were in a very
involved conversation about our lives for two hours
I believe I got off the train having made a
difference in that mans life, but I know for
sure when I got off that train that I was
Okay, I think Im getting this. Its
about asking the right questions to get to know a
man. What are the questions again?
The questions are for the man to ask
himself, Stan insisted. Ill ask,
Has your life turned out for it to be all you
wanted it to be? Have your relationships turned out
to be all you hoped for? Have you considered how
good can you stand it? Have it all? I would
ask them to look in the mirror. Has it all
shown up? Have your pictures been fulfilled?
If not, theres still an opportunity to learn.
What is it about men that we spend so much time in
our doer and we dont spend any time in what
we want to be? Who do we want to be in the world? A
powerful communicator? A man of integrity
balanced. Virtue. Grace. Thats not what we
do, thats who we are. For me, it is about
leadership, clarity, and the skills to articulate
the future in a precise way. The great thing about
leadership is that I carry me everywhere I go - so
I must be a leader in my own life.
Stan tells me he has time for one more
I was on a plane going from Philadelphia
to Chicago and this interesting guy sits next to
me. He just looks like a character - a businessman
and an artist. He sits down and I look at this
disheveled guy and ask What do you do?
- same thing as before. It turns out he works with
this company that restores artifacts - statue
preservation. His company was responsible for
articles that came from the Titanic. On this
particular trip, he was working with a town in
Wisconsin that had an 80-foot statue of some guy
and they were there to restore it. This guy even
worked with NASA restoring missiles for public
The man tells Stan about being separated from
his wife and moving from New York to Washington,
I told him my story where I did the NWTA
weekend sixty days after my divorce. I told him how
I got some real gifts from the experience. I said
had always heard Dont pray for less
problems, pray for bigger shoulders. Well, I
found my bigger shoulders on that weekend. It
equals the birth of my daughter because it was the
birth of me. You go into this world to learn how to
become a doctor, writer, film maker, truck driver,
but wheres the school to
learn to be a better man? For me, this is the
school. This is where Ive learned to be a
better man. I dont think weve been
trained how to be men. About 30 years ago, the
world around women changed for them and their
rising female conscious outstripped the rising
mens consciousness. I had some catching up to
to be the man I was meant to be. The man
I was trained to be by my father, friends, and
environment was not the man the world was calling
. I have learned to be more of a king in
my own life. Women test men, like David Deida says.
Women want a man to be in his king.
Men not initiated into MKP want to know what
goes on during the NWTA weekend. What do you tell
I tell him about how it affected me and
then I ask the man how his life is working.
Im able to accept that every man could use
the weekend, but not every man is ready for the
weekend. When I talk to initiated men about
enrolling other men into the weekend, I tell them
to think big and dont get attached to the
results. We say in our MKP motto that we change the
world one man at a time, but when we enroll a man,
the man that changes is me.
Stan said there are basically two kinds of men
who come to mens work. Those who are
tired of being broke, wounded and
depressed and those whose lives are already
Two years ago I got a call from a man who
said, I always wanted to be a doctor. Now,
Im a radiologist, married to my high-school
sweetheart, I have two kids, and live in a
half-million dollar home. So, I asked the
guy, why are you calling?! The man
said, I walk around and theres a piece
and I cant figure out what it
is. I said, you may find that on the
NWTA weekend, but I dont guarantee
that. He said, thats what I
thought you were going to say. He called back
after having done the weekend and said, I
want to thank you, I found my answer. Im
thrilled. I said, So am
One man told Stan it wasnt what he
got on the weekend, it was what he
Referring back to his own experience, Stan said
he had been introduced to The ManKind Project in
1997 from his friend, Gary.
I knew about the weekend from Gary, who
had done it three years earlier, but I thought it
was just something Gary did. Then he asked,
Whats the most important thing in the
world for you? I said, my mortgage, my
kids, and my business. He answered,
Youre absolutely dead wrong. It
felt like a smack across the face. Gary said,
Its time you learned to take better
care of yourself. When you learn to take better
care of yourself then you can better take care of
Stan later became center director for the
Philadelphia community and is currently a Co-Leader
in Training. He staffs 3-4 weekends a year. He
keeps a scrapbook of pictures from his experiences
in The ManKind Project.
The man who got me to the weekend is now
the best man at my wedding this weekend, Stan
said, with a catch in his voice. Ive
known him for 30 years.
Recalling an incident at the end of his NWTA
weekend, Stan spoke of a man who approached
He says, good morning bro and
hands me this card. I read it: By now you
have faced the green monster and seen the other
side. This is a life changing weekend, this is a
yet the best is yet to come.
Remember the magic. You are not alone. There are
other men. Thank you for your trust of my soul.
Im honored to call you my brother.
I was aware tears were welling up in Stan as he
spoke of this incident.
It still does it for me, he said,
pausing. If you ask me what I get out of this
seven days a week for the last eight
Im standing here crying because
I have men like this in my life. So Garys
coming to stand by my side. Hes one of the
most special men in my life.
Stan is one of my favorite people. Whenever we
get together at MKP events or talk on the phone,
hes always affable and fun with that
Philly kind of edgy attitude.
We call it being a goofball, he
chimed in. The work has been a fountain of
youth. It keeps us young. My life is so much
richer, even though it may not be easy at times.
But I have been able to enjoy it a lot
After all these years, Stan said he is finally
comfortable in his own skin.
Days before Stan was initiated into The ManKind
Project, a staff man called him to make a
I told the guy on the phone, You
gotta give me more than this, bro
man responded, Pretend youre in a deep
dark forest with no way out
. by the end of
the weekend the staff will take you to the road.
You will have three choices: you can turn around
and go back into the forest, you can sit down by
the road, or you can walk on down the
You should know, the last eight years have
been the most magnificent walk down the road I can
Contact your local ManKind Project community
Stan directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2005 Reid Baer
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Reid Baer, an
award-winning playwright for A Lyons
Tale is also a newspaper journalist, a poet
with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide,
and a novelist with his first book released this
month entitled Kill
The Story. Baer has been
a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and
currently edits The New Warrior Journal for
The ManKind Project www.mkp.org
He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife
Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.
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