Harriet Tubman said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember you have the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
We all have dreams. But sometimes, our dream is something that most people advise against doing, believing we won’t be successful in such endeavors. How many times have we given up a dream just because we listened to what other people are saying? It takes a lot of courage, strength, determination, and a positive mindset to keep on doing something that we love and reach for the stars, even if the odds are against us.
Today, my guest is Mike Holston, a talented young man who is reaching for the stars and changing the world against all odds. He is fondly called “The Real Tarzann” because of his exceptional love for animals and his extraordinary way of handling them. He gained notoriety for being able to communicate with deadly creatures, like tigers, crocodiles, and sharks, at what seems to be a unique frequency.
In this episode, Mike Holston will talk about how the inspiring story of the internet sensation “The Real Tarzann.” began. He will also talk about how he tamed animals and the life lessons we can learn from them. His life story is a true inspiration that you can change the world by doing what you love and make an impact on others, even if it means defying all odds. If you have a peculiar passion, you will surely love this episode. So, let the class begin.
Mike Holston is an exotic animal specialist and a zookeeper at the Zoological Wildlife Foundation of Mario and Maria Tabraue in Miami, Florida. He has a knack for learning various enrichment techniques with dangerous animals, such as iguanas and snakes, from animal experts.
His passion for animals started at the young age of five, after regularly watching TV programs like PBS Kids, David Attenborough’s shows, Animal Planet, and National Geographic. When he saw his grandmother watching old movies in black and white, he thought it was pretty boring. But when he watched the Tarzan TV Series together with his grandma, he was amazed by how Tarzan communicated with the animals in the jungle. Mike began to wonder if animals communicated with each other at a different frequency from humans rather than in a different language.
So he took home a snake as a pet. The snake bit him, his brother, his mom, his aunt, and his uncle. But that didn’t stop him from taming the snake despite his family’s fear of it and their insistence that he get rid of it! Eventually, he tamed the snake, and it didn’t bite anymore. From there, the rest is history. He started taming different species of animals, from lovable pets like dogs, to fierce predators like tigers.
Mike Holston created a Youtube channel and named it The Real Tarzann, hoping to create awareness for wildlife conservation issues. When he started sharing videos of his up-close encounters with dangerous and wild creatures, many of his videos quickly gained hundreds of thousands of views, and he eventually gained millions of subscribers.
But everything changed when Will Smith called him up, supporting his cause and proposing a collaboration. After that, Mikee became an internet sensation. Within 3 hours of Will Smith’s Instagram post, Mike gained over 500,000 followers! Today, his Instagram has garnered more than 6.1 million followers and counting.
Mike Holston is changing the world through awareness of wildlife conservation. He takes advantage of his online fame to get funding support for animal charities. In 2018, he helped more than 200 iguanas, rescued from the freezing waters of South Florida, find a home. His life story is an inspiration that anything is possible — and that we can tame even the wildest of animals!
For many of us, encountering a snake can grip us in fear. Some might panic and freak out, while others might freeze. We fear for our life. We fear that the snake would deliver a venomous, deadly strike. But what we don’t think about is that the snake also shares the same fear we do.
Every time we experience fear, our defense mechanism activates to either flight or fight mode. Humans usually activate the flight mode, while snakes activate the fight mode. But Mike Holston decided he wouldn’t fight or flight, and instead adopted a different mode: friendship.
Mike offers friendship instead of fear with every animal he meets, which he says replaces what would be fear with trust. When there is trust, the “fight” or “flight” defense mechanism isn’t activated, which allows the friendship to grow.
“When you’re nervous, you’re scared. You can’t trust them. They have a defense in the same way as you. If you were walking down the street and some guy came and he’s like, ‘Hey, what’s up buddy?’ You’re going to be like, ‘Yo bro, [I’ll] knock you out. I’m going to run away. I’ll call the cops.’ But if someone approaches you would say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ and shakes your hand and keeps on moving, you know it’s harmless.” – Mike Holston
Establishing a friendship is not a straight path without obstacles. There will be challenges and sometimes pain. Mike Holston took a bite many times when establishing friendships with different creatures. Animals bite because they feel threatened. For many of them, they know they’re below us on the food chain and view us as predators ready to devour them for our next meal.
“They’re like, ‘Yo bro, are you trying to eat me?’ [If] you jump [and] fight me, I’m going to bite you. You just get away from me. … They’re more scared of us than we are of them. But if you walk up to a snake and you’re like, ‘Hey buddy, what’s up? How’s it going?’ He’s like, ‘Oh, all is cool.’ … You become a tree branch versus something trying to eat.” – Mike Holston
When two different species meet, fear is normal. Mike Holston eases the tension by creating a friendly atmosphere, which helps diminish animals’ fear and defense reflexes. Instead of showing the animals fear, he shows them trust, which surprises most animals in a good way.
Mike tells the story of a time he befriended a pitbull:
“I love pitbulls so much. They’re so underrated. … People think they’re so vicious, but they actually are the best dog. … Whatever you do and whatever you tell them to do, whatever we teach them, they’re going to do it. So I just teach love, kindness, happiness, patience with this giant dog. And he [showed] love, kindness, and patience with everything and everybody, even [with] a fox, a lizard, and a baby monkey, … [which] he could easily eat in one bite.” – Mike Holston
How many of us have reacted with kindness and love when most people might react in fear and anger instead? How many times have we judged other people, just like we judge some animals to be wild and dangerous when they’re really just scared?
Mike Holston teaches us that by dropping our judgments and approaching both animals and humans with trust and love, we’ll receive that same treatment in return.
There are plenty of lessons we can learn from Mike’s relationship with animals that we can also use in our daily lives. For example: often, we’re far more afraid of people and situations than we really need to be, and that can have a detrimental effect on our relationships and life trajectories. It can also cause others pain and block the flow of love and positivity.
Many animals are easily trapped behind the walls of their emotional defenses, unable to receive positive emotions, leaving them feeling isolated, alone, and wild — just like us, sometimes. But if we increase our trust, we decrease our fear. Eventually, this breaks down the barriers we have to break down to let love in.
Mike also teaches us that if we love our work and refuse to give up — even if what we’re doing seems impossible or others are criticizing us — we can achieve more than we ever imagined. Just like Mike experienced when Will Smith changed his life in a single phone call, something magical can always happen.
“Go ahead again. Keep going down until you win. That’s the way of life. That’s what people need to understand. You don’t lose! And when people lose and they say, ‘Okay, I lost [and] I’m done.’ … then you create a cycle of yourself just quitting. … But when you finally figure out why you want to win … you can apply that in your spiritual life, your mental life, your financial life, [and in] your relationship — everything just straight winning.” – Mike Holston
In other words, when you quit in the face of a stressful situation, you risk creating a cycle of quitting. But if you just keep on doing what you love, even if the situation seems against your odds, you will eventually win, creating a winning cycle.
Guys, this is truly an interesting episode with “The Real Tarzann,” Mike Holston. It is packed with so much wisdom and priceless lessons, like the importance of passion and determination when it comes to doing what you love and achieving your dreams.
Listen to the full episode to get more wisdom from Mike Holston, and don’t forget to share it with your friends, especially those who are afraid to pursue their dream because they don’t have support from the people around them. I’m sure this will be an inspiration.
To know more about how Mike Holston interacts with different animals, subscribe to his Youtube channel to access his free videos. You can also get updates from him by following his social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
To conclude this episode, I asked Mike Holston for his definition of greatness.
“The best way I could explain it is to look at Mike Tyson, look at Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, Michael Jackson, [and] Michelangelo … Greatness is when you look at these people’s lives … and they all have one thing in common — relentless hard work. … So, true greatness lies in hard work and how talented you are.” – Mike Holston
We all have special talents. Just follow your passion relentlessly, and you’ll achieve your own personal definition of greatness!
Thank you so much for listening to this conversation. If you enjoyed it and want to dive into similar episodes like this, check out the other podcasts at the School of Greatness. There are more than 950 episodes from the past seven years, and I’m still excited to bring you even more inspiration just like this. Remember to do something great every day.
Lewis: This is episode number 724 with the real Tarzan Mike Holston. Welcome to the school of greatness my name is Lewis Howes, a former pro athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today now let the class begin.
Harriet Tubman said “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” And today we’ve got a young man who is reaching for the stars and changing the world literally through the use of all of his education and his massive social media following, the king of the jungle and the real Tarzan those are the names that this exotic animal, specialist, teacher and zookeeper Mike Holston from Miami. He’s hot over 4 million followers on Instagram and massive following on YouTube and he’s used his huge social media following to teach others about exotic animals and wildlife and our part in conserving this wildlife and maintaining this wildlife. He’s inspired by Steve Irwin who he calls his idol and the best man to stroll this earth, the real Tarzan uses visibility that he gets for the good causes that he’s a part of, he loves to educate people about animals and he often visits schools to teach kids and now he uses his platform to teach people all over the world and I have become obsessed with watching him on Instagram, he’s literally grown over 3 million followers on Instagram in the last 6 to 8 weeks alone. It’s amazing what this guy is doing in educating us and I realized how uneducated I am about animals until I watched some of his videos and this is really inspiring stuff and I think sometimes we lose perspective of wildlife and animals in our own backyard or around the world with what’s actually happening.
We talked about this today on some of these things, we also talked about his background and growing on a rough neighborhood and how his family made it out of that background, and he talks about how the love of animals saved him from depression. The power of 1 Will Smith shared did for him on social media and reaching out to work with him and how that impacted people seeing his social media videos and actually being a part of this moving forward. We discussed the differences between animals and captivity and in the wild and how Mike would like to help save animals everywhere, we also talked about following any dream even if everyone says it’s the craziest thing to do. Mike has built this incredible life for himself by talking about wildlife animals and by showcasing animals, playing with animals, connecting with animals. He has built a life for himself a business for himself, a brand around something that most people said to him this would never work.
So if you ever have a dream, maybe you’ve got something crazy in mind right now where everyone is telling you it’s not possible, don’t do this you’re wasting your time go get a steady job. Here is a great case and example, he is going to talk about how he’s been building this and how it keeps growing, the more he dives into the dreams he attracts even bigger people to support him manifested. So this is a powerful one, again LewisHowes.com/724 post that link out to your friends, text your friends who have crazy dreams to listen to this, share this on your Instagram stories and follow @TherealTarzan Mike Holston. This is a powerful one guys before we dive in a quick shout out to our sponsor fully desk chairs and things to keep you moving, where all about enhancing the level of our greatness every day on this podcast and optimizing your body is one of those ways you got to do that and that being said, standing desk really aren’t about standing they’re about moving and fully standing desk and chairs, the collection of chairs give you that freedom to sit and stand and stretch out during the day, squat we’re just leaning yourself to healthy comfortable positions that work for your body’s unique and changing needs. They’ve got incredible cool designs and it encourages movement, engaging your core muscles for a healthier more natural posture. It helps you feel better at the end of the day because here is the thing guys rigged sitting can contribute to negative health effects and fullys desk and chair relieved static joints and ligaments while improving posture and circulation. So get your butting moving in your workspace, go to fully.com/greatness. I’ve got them setup in my office and I loved them, fully desk and chairs and things to keep you moving.
Also big thank you to our sponsor roofstock I am all about finding ways to invest my money, to help but continue to earn passive income for me with roofstock.com you can buy, sell and own investment properties the way professional investor do and start earning passive income right away. They’ve taken all that time and stress it out for you, you can invest in single family home across the country with as little as 20k down. Roofstock offers a 30 day money back guarantee and if your vacant rental property doesn’t have a tenant after 45 days of closing roofstock will pay your projected rental income up to a year and this month only they’ve got a special deal for our listeners. You will get a $500 credit toward your roofstock market place fee at roofstock.com/greatness for a $500 credit, but it’s this month only. I am telling you guys check this out right now really cool the site is roofstock.com/greatness go check it out.
All right big thank you to our sponsors and if you’ve got a passion burning inside of you, if you’ve got a dream then this is all about pursuing that dream and also learning more about how Mike Holston is changing the world and the wildlife that’s in it. So without further ado let me introduce to you to the one the only Mike Holston.
All right welcome back in one of the school during this podcast, we’ve got the real Tarzan in the house Mike Holston.
Mike: Thank you for having me.
Lewis: You’ve been taken off the last month, I found out about you from Will Smith and then it seems like everyone has been talking about you.
Mike: Thank you Will.
Lewis: You are just like taking over the world educating us about animals all types of animals, domestic animals to the wildest exotic animals to reptiles, snakes, and spiders anything in between you if it’s an animal breathing and walking and moving you love it.
Lewis: When did you get into this passion like all types of animals?
Mike: Honestly I was born with animals you know like there’s already 2 dogs in my family. So I grew up with 2 dogs and I have no siblings so those are like my best friends.
Lewis: Really only child?
Mike: I was at the time you know but I’m the oldest of 10.
Lewis: And brothers and sisters? I was going to say like 9 animals.
Mike: No, animals is way deeper than that.
Lewis: Oldest of 10? What is that like?
Mike: It’s the best feeling man, me and my siblings are really close growing up, so it’s just like I always had that brotherhood that sisterhood a bunch of cousins but nothing like having brothers and sisters you know, I love them tremendously.
Lewis: You grew up in Rhode Island?
Mike: Yeah. Well I’m also back from Rhode Island and Atlanta for most of my life. My dad live in Rhode Island and my mom in Atlanta so holidays, my birthday I was over there and I would go you know I would be in school in Atlanta living with my mom and 2 brothers and the rest of my family lives up north. So every holiday any break we had was home 4, 5 or 6 times a year you know.
Lewis: And you had a couple of dogs growing up when did you really start to explore out?
Mike: I got my first snake at 4 turning 5.
Lewis: What kind of snake?
Mike: I had a Boa constrictor.
Lewis: Oh really?
Mike: Yeah, I mean I’ve caught snakes like garter snakes, decay snakes and rough green snakes growing up but I never had one actually as a pet.
Lewis: So you would catch them?
Mike: Yeah and my mom was like what the f*** are you doing? My mom’s like you can’t have any animals in my freaking house. So I just kept on begging and begging.
Lewis: A boa constrictor was it like a yellow one?
Mike: It was a regular Columbian red tail it had like tannish brownish body with a red tail you know with dark brown on top of it, but it’s evil bro it bit me a lot. I didn’t know a lot all I saw was TV stuff you know.
Lewis: Saw Steve Irwin, when did you first see him?
Mike: Well I actually saw the old school Tarzan movies first, my grandma is an older lady she passed away a couple of years ago but in those 7 year old lady sitting in chair every day and watched this black and white TV and I love my grandma. That time we live in the same house my dad was on the first floor and then my great grandma was living in the 2nd floor and my grandma was on the 3rd floor you know. I was always up and down hanging out with my family every day. So when I go see my grandma she’d watch this stupid old movies in black and white and I’m like ‘dude this is so boring.’ Then one day she had like old school like 1950’s Tarzan movie on black and white horrible, I look at it now like it was so bad but back in the day as a kid I was like ‘this is amazing’ you know fighting cheetahs and lions in the jungle. Then I got a lot of stuff animals after that but I knew Tarzan was a fake movie and my stuff animal weren’t real. So when I finally got my snake you know I thought it was going to be a walk in the park and it wasn’t you know because he was mean but watching Steve Irwin and I went from looking at a fake to looking at a real person.
Lewis: Who is really doing?
Mike: Doing the real stuff yeah.
Lewis: How old were you then?
Mike: I was probably 5 or 6 years old you know probably younger or older, I can’t remember from watching PBS kids to and national geographic channel and David Adam Burrow you name it. Dude, I was engulf in animals all the time from a kid up to this day you know it’s just stuck with me. Like once I love something or like something I’m all in, like I eat the same food over and over. Dude how can you get bored over something you love? It’s like clockwork you know.
Lewis: So you had a snake like 4 or 5, how long did you have this mean snake? Did you have a place like to contain it?
Mike: He bit me, my brother, my mom and my uncle and there were like days we’ve rid of him, I kept going in there you know because I was nervous you know but it was my snake and I had to conquer this fear. Every time we go and handle this snake everybody is walking away with tears or blood and I’m just like ‘dude this is just horrible’ and one day I pick him up and he didn’t bite me.
Lewis: Was it scary to have something that is biting you to putting up in your face?
Mike: Yeah, it takes time. You got to basically make him trust you, you have to trust the snake.
Lewis: How do you trust a snake when it’s biting you?
Mike: Exactly, because when you are nervous or scared you can’t trust them they have like a defense the same way as you like when you are walking down the street and some guy came and he’s like ‘hey what’s up buddy?’ it’s like you knock him down or call the cops. But if someone approaches you and says how you doing and shakes your hand and keeps it moving, it’s a harmless it’s more com.
Lewis: More com.
Mike: So when you walk up you know with the snake you like ‘yo bro are you trying to eat me, trying to fight me?’ like I’m going to bite you just get away from me because they are more scared of us then we are them. But if you walk to the snake and like ‘Hey buddy what’s up? How’s it going?’ it’s like cool. First you try to grab them and the snake is looking at you and it’s just, if you this that’s it. You become a tree branch vs I am trying to eat you.
Lewis: Steve Irwin be like that like on the TV show?
Mike: Of course they’re different snakes you got to bring the viewers in like it’s everything is ballet. You ballet with the snake and then if you got to breakdance you got to breakdance of course you know. But it’s all just simple slow motions of trust, if you move you move with him.
Lewis: The same thing like with a dog you know, I feel like really well with dogs like a lot of people are dog owners and they really don’t like big guys you know, but I’m just like kneel and just put my hand on calm.
Mike: Get down to their level.
Lewis: And they come to me and starts sniffing me and like put their hands on me. These people are like they never do that with strangers and all that, well I am just trying to relax.
Mike: Yeah, everybody is so scared and nervous of people’s dogs they freak out when they get to their house.
Lewis: See if there’s a 30 foot Boa Constrictor I might not be like hey little snake like, maybe like touch the tail. That’s crazy so you conquer the fear of the first snake that bit you, did the snake bite you again after this?
Mike: I’m pretty sure he did, I was so happy you know to finally interact with this animal, I didn’t really care after that you know I just duplicate the same thing and doing more research.
Lewis: Really? Started researching about snakes in general or about all snakes?
Mike: Boa Constrictors at first I started doing, I just want the snake you know because I was so young and I finally realized there’s thousands and thousands of different species of snakes that get bigger and smaller and different colors and different places. They live in the tree, on the ground, in the water there’s just like when I figure that out that there was so many more than just you know pythons and boas, I was literally freaked out. Imagine having a favorite food and you eat that your whole life and then one day you found out that food had millions of options that tasted just like that but better you know. It’s like Emma’s buffet of greatness and also when I finally figured out at a young age that there was like thousand different species of snakes, even the same species you know like a boa constrictor has 7 or 8 species inside the boa constrictor of that country, and then you go to a different country and they have different one but they’re still boas they look different, it’s literally so interesting you know. Some are more aggressive than others and some are calmer than others and that’s what really you know if I could learn this about snakes how many other animals with every single species. That is why I am addicted to all animals because I love to learn.
Lewis: And you can never stop there are so many things you can learn. You probably know like 20%
Mike: No, I don’t even know if I know 4% or 1%
Lewis: You know a little bit about a lot of things
Mike: To me I am a student to the game always. I love to learn with my open books so when I get around different people like you know, I was at Cesar Milan a few days ago.
Lewis: He’s been on the show.
Mike: He’s an awesome guy, I look up to Cesar Milan for a long time. Again I told you I was raised with dogs you know so I train dogs and work with dogs my whole life. But the moment I had with Cesar I had no fucking clue what I am doing. Teach me that’s how I am like give me all you got.
Lewis: What was the greatest thing he taught you the other day?
Mike: How to make a dog sit, I’ve been doing a great job to myself you know but like he explains something to me and I am like ‘Holy shit dude that’s real.’
Lewis: So how do you do it?
Mike: When you tell a dog to sit how do you do it?
Lewis: Sit? But it’s more in the energy right?
Mike: Not even bro, he explained to me it is so freaking cool it makes total sense because it applies to other animals too. When a dog is born they have nose, the eyes then their hearing. So they’re born blind, deaf but they can smell, so the first thing they can do is they can smell first. That is their first natural instinct they can smell and then a few weeks later they can open their eyes and then they can start hearing. So when you go to teach them you don’t teach them to hear you teach them here and then there because once this goes everything else goes because it is instinct number 1.
Lewis: How do you teach them through the nose?
Mike: Treat, smell, attention stuff like that I am still learning because I just learned in a few days ago. I am going over the process watching all new stuff so when I go home I can train my dogs totally different now because again I’m a new book, everything I did know about that I thought I knew is now an old book. So one day when I get another dog from another country or somewhere else I can completely erase that book on the shelf and learn something new again. So one day when I can give out information ‘Oh here’s 3 books I learned this and that. So here’s your method.’ That’s how I like to things.
Lewis: How many animals do you have right now personally?
Lewis: What are they?
Mike: I have 3 dogs, a fox
Lewis: Like a wild fox? Is it tame now?
Mike: A lot of animals like rescues besides my dogs, the dogs gave it to me for free from people from Instagram. It’s like I worked at a reptile store back in the day and then they sold animals of course to public and I’ve been to animal education and conservation space you know so I really don’t care so much for starting animals. I don’t really have problem with people having animals as pets as long as they have the proper education and stuff and captivity to duplicate there. But my fox was a rescue and I raised him with my pit bull.
Lewis: No way, was it a baby fox?
Mike: Both the same age, I think the fox was 8 weeks old and my dog was like 7 and a half weeks old.
Lewis: You raised them together?
Mike: So I have a 100 pound pit bull that looks viscous but sweet and I have this fox and they’re best friends. The fox is completely like never bit me ever, never bit anybody.
Lewis: Even though the DNA is like more aggressive?
Mike: Even more aggressive you got to think in the wild they’re like at the bottom, not at the bottom of the food chain but like they’re like killed by cars and hawks you know if they are small enough snakes eat them in different places. So in the wild people are like fox are aggressive, no it just defends himself you know he has a lot of problems out here. So but the cool thing is he was so young and my dog is so young and they bonded together, so my dog loves me and the fox says okay I can trust this guy I love him too. People think they are so viscous but they are actually the best dog you know like they live to pleased you, whatever you do and tell them to do and teach them they’re going to do it. So I just teach love, happiness, kindness, patience with this giant dog and he has love and patience with everything and everybody even a fox and a lizard and a baby monkey you know that he can easily eat in one bite and he loves it. He was like 88 to 90 pounds at like 8 months old. So I got puppies 15 pound puppy pit bull you know I got to watch him, dude he’s the best big brother ever.
Lewis: Wow a monkey playing with a dog and the fox doesn’t eat the monkey?
Mike: The fox doesn’t go with the monkey. Certain things you can put together, if I grew them up from babies and of course but I can’t.
Lewis: Otherwise they would kill each other.
Mike: Yeah you know and then you don’t want to stress the animal out by trying to, they’re not supposed to be with anyway. Sometimes it happens naturally I have a friend that has the dog just passed away a couple of months ago, but for 10 years this guy raised a St. Bernard with an adult male lion.
Lewis: It started as a baby lion?
Mike: They both started together.
Lewis: And then they would like just play with each other and hang out?
Mike: 60 pound adult lion has a little 60 pound St. Bernard that’s the best friend. Actually the St. Bernard was a little older by a few weeks so he was more dominant than the lion. They would get in fights and the St. Bernard would win every time.
Mike: He would back down because it’s his brother.
Lewis: Even though he was bigger? That’s crazy man.
Mike: I remember my friend telling me because they were so close 10 years together, you know that’s literally every single day of his life he had this dog.
Lewis: How long does lion live for?
Mike: A lion can live for 20 to 30 years, in the wild they don’t last long but lion in captivity let’s say 20 years and of course more.
Lewis: So what animals do you have? You got fox and dog.
Mike: A Goat a mountain dwarf goat that’s just been rescued from like a little cattle farm. So and he’s like the best pet I have. He’s new to the family you never know that goats can be so loving, you think dogs are affectionate this goat doesn’t leave my side.
Lewis: No way dude.
Mike: He’s the cutest he’s this big. A baby goat drinks whole milk giving him a milk because he’s only 4 weeks old you know and he has the best personality dude.
Lewis: He’s getting really big though huh?
Mike: Well like 50 inches high.
Lewis: Okay a goat so what else you got?
Mike: I got a slew of snakes and lizards and I just have a bunch of spiders recently and scorpions.
Lewis: I saw a video of you with a bunch of scorpions did they pinch you or something? Aren’t they venomous?
Mike: They’re like harmless not all scorpions but that species and I have to go back to the snake stuff you know when I finally figured out so many different species of snakes some had different characteristics and personalities, some are super aggressive and some are super chill, same as scorpion you know there’s like thousands of scorpions and everyone is different.
Lewis: So the ones you have aren’t venomous?
Mike: They have small venom but like bee sting to you.
Lewis: It still hurt?
Mike: It still hurt for sure but sting you and kill you in hours, so that’s the gradual scale.
Lewis: How many times have you been like bitten or stung?
Mike: I’ll show you, my scars have scars this is one of my favorite things to do people like ask me like I take my scars as pride. Do you see those scars there?
Lewis: What are those from?
Mike: Just random bites and scratches all from my wrist up here.
Lewis: So what are the type of animals that bit you or scratch you?
Lewis: What it’s like?
Mike: I don’t talk about it on a show because it’s not like that’s everyday life like 95% of the time is accident.
Lewis: Have you ever been scared for your life like I’m in a bad situation.
Mike: Plenty of times.
Lewis: Give me a couple of moments like when?
Mike: I don’t share those moments with people it gives animals a bad.
Lewis: Yeah sure but you’re also doing way more than most people would do and putting yourself out there.
Mike: Yeah. I think one day I have a lot of stuff documented I’ll go to share some cool near death experiences or accidents or.
Lewis: Can you share one? What was one incident that you’re like this could’ve been a bad situation.
Mike: I went to the Bahamas, I swim with sharks the first time and I’m the type of guy literally I am either all in or I shouldn’t been there in the first place and if I’m there it is happening. So, I was on this boat in Bahamas about a year ago and I never saw sharks before for the first time and of course you see the shark week on TV and all these crazy stuff. But I’m an animal guy so I have to accept everything you know what I’m saying? Even if I’m not educated I have to educate myself you know and learn and embrace it even if I don’t want to do it I have to it because it’s my job, I could swim like a fish I love marine, I have sharks and turtle tattooed on my leg. But I got underwater and I never had a scuba tank before and you can only free dive, but dude I want to go deep and I want to see the sharks’ bro. So he went underwater with a tank and he had this big nurse shark and he went under there and then I think some blacktip reef sharks swim by which are a little more aggressive sharks. The nurse sharks are kind of like babies so I wasn’t worried at all. He said there are reef sharks coming it’s going to be gangsta, I wasn’t worried of the sharks as most breathing apparatus you know I’m on a scuba tank so you go 15 to 20 feet in the water and now walking on the ocean floor and there’s shark swimming, there’s sting rays and fish and I’m having lucid experience you know walking on the ocean floor you have to get a class to get certified for this I never did it. So, I was breathing when I got kind of little excited and I’m underwater with a scuba tank and I have no idea what to do you know. So I swallowed water while trying to breathe underwater, it was the freakiest thing bro.
Lewis: Salt water?
Mike: Yeah, there’s like sharks and I cannot panic and like freak out you know, I could feel my eyes tightening up and just weird experience.
Lewis: So not from an animal you got near death it was just like.
Mike: Yeah you got to think situations like that the accidents happen with the animal you know because they could feel the fear. Moments like those you compose yourself but who can compose themselves underwater you know and you’re swallowing water from 15 to 20 feet on ocean floor with someone holding on to you with the tube in your mouth that you have no clue about, just telling you to breathe. You know these guys are licensed divers and I’m like that made me bring down there, you have a split second about this.
Lewis: You talk about fear you say that fear is a generational habit that can be broken, how do you decide that?
Mike: It’s more so of like I’ve seen it with animals. People say you see a snake a good snake is a dead snake, so you have all these people from years and years just pass down fear.
Lewis: Spiders, snakes.
Mike: My grandma say she doesn’t like to drive on the highway and say like dude you drive on the street you just go 10 miles faster you know what are you scared of you know this is a psychological thing, but her mother didn’t drive much you know and then her sister didn’t drive much so they pass on the fear of driving the highway. But it’s like once you get past on a fear it such a great feeling you know it’s the best thing you never had.
Mike: Freedom you know and that applies to everything. A podcast you are afraid of talking in front of a camera, never did it before but fuck it we’re here.
Lewis: Why do you think it’s important for people to see someone who looks like you doing something that’s unexpected? Because of the Steve Irwin’s of the world, the zookeeper of the world are all white it’s like you never see a black person.
Mike: I got more so the confidence from my family, I have a background so Portuguese and Black and my grandma is Polish and other crazy stuff. So you see this black family and then great grandmother like blonde hair and blue eyes. So when I saw those growing up I never seen black or white but of course I knew the difference between people but my family just my mom and dad I grew up with them. So all the animal space and I notice it when I was 14 or 15 there was not a single black person that I ever did what I wanted to do and I’m like ‘dude I can use that as my advantage.’ So you know also an inspiration because I inspire everybody, I don’t care if you’re black, white, Spanish or Asian I got love for everybody, every religion you know I don’t care what you believe in I still love you. I just spread the love and positivity to everybody and I feel like it’s a win, I feel like people are like ‘I can’t hang out with this person because they’re Jewish or they’re Muslim.’ Dude I don’t care I want to learn, teach me your language you know, teach me your culture. I hate barriers with anything you know I just want to be free with the animals.
Lewis: Did you play sports growing up too?
Mike: Yeah, I actually hated sports my entire life but my whole family is full of athletes and I was the only weird one because I like animals you know. You got my brothers and my cousins and that was McDonald’s all American high school and my oldest step brother played in a league and went to the NBA and played with the Mavericks, I got a slew of like athletes and you just got oh animal boy over here. So after years of saying no, I finally said yes football, wrestling and started playing basketball. I got addicted to it to the progress and process.
Lewis: So did you go to college too?
Mike: Yeah, played 1 year in college.
Lewis: Where did you go?
Mike: I played wide receiver at George Military College and Atlanta Sports Academy.
Lewis: I played wide receiver too, I played in the Arena league.
Mike: How was it?
Lewis: It was tough man. I got injured it’s different it’s indoors with walls, so I broke my wrist diving into a wall trying to catch football. It’s just the roughest sport, I mean it’s the guys that are pissed they didn’t make the NFL or drop from the NFL and trying to get back up and it’s like I’m going to kill you.
Mike: Its crazy thing like that you know.
Lewis: It is so tough.
Mike: On athletic level it’s like dude I can’t lose you know like I can’t. Dude I hate losing more than I love winning.
Lewis: I was the worst loser for many years like I got so upset for hours, days that I lost even the simplest competition. But now I’ve learned that anger if I hold onto it or frustration doesn’t serve humanity, it doesn’t help people up, it doesn’t help me or the people around me. So I’ve learned how to take a loss into a learning experience quickly and just reapply the education from that lost and feel like how can I be better?
Mike: Exactly and people should think that way you know it’s you win and you learn, you learn how to win you figure out where you messed up and keep going at it until you win. You don’t lose and when people lose they say ‘Okay I lost I’m done.’ You lose something else and you create a cycle of yourself of just fucking quitting and when you finally figured out why you want to win and winning that and you can apply that in your spiritual life, mental life and finance life and everything just straight winning.
Lewis: So when did your first job getting paid to work with animals?
Mike: I was 17 years old, I got a job in Atlanta at this place called petland it’s a regular that sold dog foods and cats and birds you know just a regular pet store. Dude I got there and I felt like a million bucks and they actually didn’t hire me at first, they’re like why is this kid here every day? And I’m like I want a job. At that time I had long dreadlocks and tattoos fresh out of college while going into college and stuff. So you know what the black guy with tattoos is and I’m like I thought you know that’s when I become a real open book. You know I started helping customers and you know just seeing the joys in people’s faces like man I want to give them more but I can’t get anything more if I don’t know more you know. So every time we had animals come in I would pick certain animals I never had before and I would study the fuck out of them, I would order stuff for their captivity and have a habitat and stuff and when someone came in and they’re interested in that animal I’m like you want this okay.
Lewis: You know everything about them now.
Mike: And they’re like wow. I’m here giving you when they breed, what they eat, how many times you got to spay them like climate hibernation and everything and then the person goes home with this animal and come back get crickets and light bulbs and ask about the animal and ‘It’s doing great.’ And then 7 months later oh I got another one you know. It’s awesome to be able to give something that I love to someone and they love it too. It’s just a beautiful thing.
Lewis: What about the people that say ‘We shouldn’t be buying animals or having animals on our backyard.’ What do you say to people like that?
Mike: I agree to some extent animals should be in the wild but you got to think sometimes in the wilds they don’t have homes because of us you know and a lot of people forget that concept and then another thing is people don’t have animals here you lose touch with them. Humans are going to have animals in captivity so if they are going to have them it’s the reality of it, the realness of it we need to be able to educate these people on why they have these animals and what can we do to better their lives in captivity because some people have animals in captivity that they breed them and help them and release them into wild and then they’re screwed.
Lewis: Because they weren’t educated. What’s the most endangered species right now in the world?
Mike: I know the most traffic animal is the Pangolin, Rhinos are critically endangered, and elephants are on a rapid decrease. A lot of animals especially in the African area is getting hit hard.
Lewis: Because people are hunting right?
Mike: Hunting so illegal poaching went off you know it’s just horrible and that goes back to having that heart for these animals. So I liked that voice for the voiceless because they almost can’t tell you they need help, their numbers are almost decreasing and decreasing by time and the global news they want to pick it up when there’s 10 rhinos left.
Lewis: What is working with animals taught you about working with humans?
Mike: Humans are crazy. I look at humans and think man you are dangerous with me being in animals so much and seeing how they live and adapt you know and survive and eat and breathe and everything about animals I’m obsessed with and then I look at the human species and I’m like ‘We’re fucking dangerous. We are animals.’ There’s a lot of good people out there but you know you look at the globe and I remember I think it was 4th or 5th grade and I remember about population 3 billion or something like that, now I am 25 and its 6 or 7 billion it’s like man we’re growing fast. Imagine in 25 years from now there’s going to be 14 billion people. So I don’t like humans not like humans but I’m an animal guy so I spend my whole life with animals. I’ve been kind of anti-social my whole life you know social media has brought the social side of me you know and it’s cool.
Lewis: Starting to like them a little bit?
Mike: Yeah, I am starting with children first, I worked in a school district for about 6 to 7 years in Miami so I got to educate the children on animals, it was such a dope experience you know.
Lewis: Where were you working at the time?
Mike: South Florida, so I had a job at a reptile store called underground reptiles and worked in a zoo.
Lewis: So you worked in a zoo for how long?
Mike: About a year, I was working with the kids in like every aspect, I had my small iguana business, I had rescued iguanas, I did educational shows and events and did regular management at a reptile store. I worked for like 7 days a week for 3 straight years and not a day off but of course vacation or something. So when I can generate 100 hours a week, 7 days a week work over somebody else and when finally birth my whole Tarzan project I didn’t even put all those hours for somebody else into my own craft and it’s been an amazing thing.
Lewis: So this Tarzan project is that what you are working on now? Is that the brand of business? When did you started that?
Mike: Started Tarzan 10 months ago.
Lewis: So this is your brand your company, what is it? What is the mission besides all the crazy videos that I’ve seen?
Mike: it’s more so of me being in the mirror, I am a walking mirror this is my motto to the world. My business whether Tarzan or king of the jungle or just Michael, the name it doesn’t matter. I want people to see me and my brand on what I do as themselves, I want them to look at me and look directly back at themselves because I come from nothing I am just a regular street hood kid from the smallest state in the United States, if I can do it you can do it that is my motto. So people see Tarzan and I want people to see themselves in arts and crafts and they want to open a wine business or then want to be a chiropractor, I want you guys to put the same effort that you see me do to your stuff because I believe in you because I come from nothing and I want to see you make it. So that’s what my Tarzan project is of course educating people, animals etc… But the whole project they aren’t about myself they are about the people you know encouraging people to be bold, at first I am Tarzan and then because I wanted to be Tarzan as a kid and I never wanted to stop being Tarzan, now that I am Tarzan everybody is like ‘Oh Tarzan so cool.’ I say ‘No, you’re cool go do your own shit.’ I want to be able to inspire these people from a real level you know and I feel like I can touch people, I am young 24 year old millennial kid that lives in South Beach and still parties and listens to rap music but I am just focus on my dreams and goals that shit can’t break me. So I want to be able to reiterate that to the younger people, the younger generation of school and people high school now or college now. People that struggle with their degrees, I want to be able to get that motivation like ‘Look bro go out there and take that shit. Don’t take no for an answer.’ As Tarzan as a project it is just basically a giant mirror of yourself.
Lewis: I like that man. What’s the business model for you? Is it events?
Mike: I want to educate in the highest platform and of course Instagram gave me such exposure and I am very grateful for it.
Lewis: Was Will Smith the one that launch it to even more heights?
Mike: Yeah, I still to this day hustling hard on it, it feels good to work and work and then one day you’ll get an email from Will Smith’s company and I thought it was spam.
Lewis: What’d it say?
Mike: Hey we’re from Will Smith’s team we love what you do and we want to do a collaboration and then I’m like ‘yeah right.’
Lewis: So what happened?
Mike: Of course I replied to the email “Absolutely I love to work with you guys.” But I had the thought like this never happen in my life, its Will Smith bro. So I had that hope but then again this is not real, a few weeks past and I didn’t forget about it but I kind of like just kept moving and I end up coming to one of my friends in Austin and I got on a plane at 1 o’clock from Miami east coast time, I had 1.2 million followers when I got on the plane.
Lewis: That’s pretty big.
Mike: It was insane. I remember posting on Instagram saying “Thank you all for supporting me, we just hit 1.2m followers I love you all.” So I get on the plane and I take off, I usually buy wifi when I’m on the plane to keep working, reply to emails and text messages. I landed and turned my phone on it’s not even blowing up yet it’s like freezing. So I opened my phone I had like 200 text messages ‘Yo, Will Smith just posted you.’ Literally all my contacts texted me. I open my Instagram and I got 1.8m followers just like that and it kept going.
Lewis: And you never met him?
Mike: No, never talk to him on the phone.
Lewis: He reshared a video right?
Mike: No, he made like a compilation of highlight of me. I was there I started crying.
Lewis: How did it make you feel that he cared about your mission, your message?
Mike: For so long since I was a little kid I had this vision of being Tarzan and I got plenty of doubts from family and friends. So when that time hit it broke back everything. As soon as I heard Will Smith’s voice it was like I got hit by ton of bricks of happiness because seeing these followers is cool but it goes to a whole new stratosphere when you have people that caliber and they publicly go do that. The same thing with P. Diddy a big part of my life.
Lewis: Did he find you after Will Smith? Did he reached out after that?
Mike: I’m not sure of the process of he found out about me but I remember seeing them and he’s like ‘We got to connect.’ So I saw him here in LA the same time that Will Smith posted and I was in LA went to a day party and had no idea that Diddy was going to be there. Diddy’s there and said “Hey what’s up Tarzan.” And it’s all history from there.
Lewis: When was this?
Mike: Like 2 months or 3 months ago.
Lewis: So what has happened since then?
Mike: Post Will Smith everything like change. Nothing change for me but stuff behind the scenes I am working. Tarzan in a TV show on 2019 that’s all I got to say.
Lewis: What has kept you motivated to pursue this dream even when the money hasn’t been there?
Mike: I’ve been broke the whole year. I’ve been homeless, I struggled, I lost animals and everything. So when little stuff happens in my life little problems it doesn’t bother me because I know I can overcome it and I lost my dad when I was 14 so that’s probably my main focal point of why I drive hard every day because me and my dad we were really close. So when I lost my dad I lost love, I didn’t love nobody that’s when I told you I was in that dark place room 14 till about a few years ago. I had to transition that anger and pain into something positive. So once I made that it still hard for me to this day you know but I made that small turn and dude it just like I don’t know where it come from it just like you know.
Lewis: What’s the greatest lesson your dad taught you?
Mike: If you’re going to do it do it and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That’s one thing he always told me growing up you know and I didn’t know what it meant until I need what it meant. The first tattoo I got across my chest is what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So when he was killed it broke me but it made me unbreakable in the same sense because I love him so much you know he’s my hero. When that was taken away from me everything was gone, my love for animal, I didn’t love my own family you know. So what brought me back to reality was the animals, I was depressed, I was lonely I didn’t have anybody to come to you know. So once I got back with these animals I started praying a lot and I felt myself come back and that’s why I work so hard for the animals because animals saved my life without even knowing. I knew they bring me happiness my whole life but when I was in my darkest place of my life I didn’t care to love myself or anybody they love me.
Lewis: And they needed you.
Mike: Yeah, you know just as much as I needed them you know. So like it’s cool to be able to people don’t know the real story of my life because they don’t know me, they just know Tarzan and videos. But this whole animal stuff is what keeps me going every day, what keeps me happy. I have small hobbies but every single day is around animals because that’s what keep Mike happy, that’s what changed my life. So when I get to this point in life where does animal bring me? So I got to do everything in power with them so that’s why I go so hard on the education, it’s not even from a vast of education its understanding, people want to be understood and so does animals they want to be understood. I don’t care if you understood because I let the work speak for itself you know, I don’t like talking much so I never done any podcast or interviews. I’ve always had dreams my whole life and do stuff and every time I told people ‘Oh dude it doesn’t do any good.’ You know so it was like okay how about I fucking show you and then you give me your answer afterwards. It’s cool to be able to just do it.
Lewis: What about the biggest lesson your mom taught you?
Mike: My mom is a hell of a woman, strong as shit and my mom taught me without knowing she taught me was its okay to leave and do your own thing. My mom come from the same hood my family comes from and she was the first one to leave when everything was bad in my neighborhood and my family, she was the first one to leave. She knew opportunity that could make something out of it and she bring to of her kid and herself and like $100 in her pocket and we drove for 18 hours and went to Atlanta and never look back, but it was the best thing she did for us because if we stayed home we wouldn’t have made it. All the kids I grew up with all my friends, played football with went to elementary with they’re all dead every last one of them. That is why I take this stuff serious because like I wasn’t supposed to be here but it’s a good thing because I like to inspire people to show the realness of it.
My mom she had the strength to leave but she gave me no strength to leave. So when left Atlanta to go to Miami to live with my dreams I made it, it gave me that strength like okay if mom can do it I can do it and the same thing with that fear it is so generational it just keep going. But then you look at it my grandmother, my mom’s mom back in the day left from Rhode Island and move to California, no friends no family no nothing with all her kids. My mom got that from her and I got that from my mom. It just look that affecting life is like holy shit. I take all this shit real serious, I take all the fun in social media but it’s like so much behind it that it’s so much behind the gas tank and the engine that keeps us going and it’s lovely.
Lewis: Yeah man, thanks for sharing that.
Mike: Sorry for getting all choked up.
Lewis: It is okay man, that’s what we do here we get real. What message do you have for kids who grew up like you who maybe are afraid to venture out and try new things whether it’s being with animals or trying new things in general?
Mike: Pray. Pray for strength, pray for guidance and believe in yourself. Everybody doubted me but I believe in myself.
Lewis: How did you believe in yourself when everybody doubted you?
Mike: It’s hard to explain its more so that’s why I feel like praying come into play at and again this go into I don’t care what religion you are, I love everybody. So, I give this advice to people if you believe in voodoo or you’re a Christian, whatever you are I don’t care I still love you. So what I am going to say is to apply to your life is pure faith, you believe in the higher power you should believe in yourself, if you can pray and see stuff and work hard towards it, whoever you pray is going to help you. You’re going to help yourself, you’re going to have strength and motivation to keep going. So when the world tells you no God is going to give you signs that you’re going to see and only things you’re going to see is what you’re afraid about. So when I pray and ask God for signs and he puts signs in my life I’m like ‘Okay, here we go.’ I always ask him to open and close doors in my life. So when he closes doors sometimes I’m like ‘I wanted that doors to be open.’ It’s like I prayed for it.
Lewis: it hurts sometimes to close doors.
Mike: Yeah, it does. God has always better doors open for you, just have faith in yourself and work hard and I am telling you that you can be a very scary individual.
Lewis: You love animals so much do you eat meat?
Lewis: Why do you eat meat if you love animals that much?
Mike: Well I grew up on meat and of course like I said I get educated in things. Of course with all the great publicity I am getting with animals people ask me a lot ‘Do you eat meat still?’ Well then again I’m real about. So the main reason I’m not a vegan is because of the people, I’ve been bullied a lot my whole life. I feel like when people are attacking me I get on to a whole different person it’s naturally how I am. So it’s wrong for me to do, I am learning to educational conversations. You know I have this cool conversation with vegans, it’s pretty cool. They ask me about animals and why I eat meat and I say ‘I don’t waste food, that’s how I raised.’ I want to try and go vegan next year, I’m going to still eat meat but I am going to hunt for it myself so I’m going to work for my food. But for like the vegan community you have to be a little less harsh at your words and try to educate a little more in maybe a different way, the same route I took with animal education so much you can do for so long.
Lewis: You can’t shove it down people’s throats, you got to entertain and educate and make it fun and do it in a different way.
Mike: Yes, of course I don’t agree with animals getting killed or slaughtered inhumanly for food consumption, but we are all animals we are in the food chain.
Lewis: What do they say like a gorilla eats vegetable right?
Mike: Yeah, lion eats meat you know it’s the same thing. I can’t switch for gorilla to eat meat 24/7 you die, you can’t get the proper nutrients, whereas the lion you can’t feed it plants all day he’d die because he won’t get the proper nutrition.
Lewis: We can survive on just plants.
Mike: Going back to my original statement, this animal you can’t say that you’re 100% for this animal because you live in a house you know like all that stuff plays. A lot of people don’t like the way they approach people and I’m pretty sure there’s ton of people that can have educational fun conversations about their way of life and it needs to be done in a better way of course. But for me I’m going to try it for my own benefits you know, hunt my own foods.
Lewis: Yeah, I always take the approach of no matter what stance you have or what you try to like come out something with like veganism or whatever just how you show up in general, if you are trying to attack other people on one topic you better have your whole life figured out on every other topic. You better be an integrity all the time, a better person and all these other things because they can just attack you on something else. Learn, educate and connect with people on something you are passionate about but don’t make a brawl.
Mike: So when they come at me I just say I love you and I won’t argue.
Lewis: That’s a good response.
Mike: People always want to fight but I’ll just fight, if you love animals I love animals I’m just going to educate him. We can have educational conversation but if it’s negative I love you and have a good day.
Lewis: What’s the best animal to rescue or have that is not like the normal domestic animals?
Lewis: Why is that the best?
Mike: Iguanas are such dope creatures.
Lewis: You catch a lot of them too, I saw it I believe you catch 30 in night or something.
Mike: Catch like 200 in a night. They’re a basic species in Miami, I’ve had iguanas my whole life growing up so I have natural love for them. So but moving to Florida when I was 17 I see more iguanas than people.
Lewis: They’re all over the place.
Mike: They’re everywhere.
Lewis: So why are they a good animal to have?
Mike: I mean I wouldn’t say a good animal I’m just saying a rescue animal because they’re exotic. They have such personalities, they are so smart and intelligent they understand you. Just like a dog they’re affectionate, they go to their mood swings you know they’re just awesome creatures and when it’s you friend you know you have a lizard that’s living in the room it sits in your lap. It’s sick bro literally sick.
My lizard I have 2 rhino iguanas like almost 30 years old, I rescued them from this guy when I say rescue sometime people they don’t want animals anymore, I take them in and I build them this giant huge enclosures and feed them tons of fruit and veggies of all different kinds. I think out of all my animals I think maybe 4 of them are nice.
Lewis: What are the four?
Mike: My dogs and fox but everything else is evil, rejects that people don’t want and I love the challenge of taking a challenge.
Lewis: Are they nice to you?
Mike: Overtime, certain animals takes a few weeks, a few days, a few months. I have iguana at home I have caught almost 50,000 iguanas the past couple of years easily in the wild. So I have one in captivity that you would think I have so much experience with iguanas, but no I have 1 iguana and he’s just a dick. Just recently the weather is changing and they’re going to hibernation till he started to eat a lot more to fatten himself up. So I used to put food in his cage and run to the back and just look at me and now he’s sitting in his cage looking at me and not moving and he’s walking close and licking the fruit as my hands is still in there, so I grab some banana and he still biting me and smacking me, but that little bit of him not running away the same way how I have my snake as a kid is one day he didn’t bite me. Same thing with this iguana even till today he’s still mean, I got this for almost a year now. I built him this cage and a lot of animals the cages costs more than them. Animals go through psychological and tragic experiences from other homes and they don’t like humans and you got to build that trust again. I got this giant 6 foot lizard from New Hampshire and his mouth is open and smacking his tail.
Lewis: It took you to the hospital?
Mike: No, I am saying he can you know one bite I can get ligaments, tendons. It’s a 6 foot like Komodo dragon but it’s not a komodo dragon but a close relative of it. So I got this thing in and it’s just evil, feeding him and huffing and puffing him and start petting him and now I can go in there and pick him up and kiss him on the face. So that’s how intelligent these animals are he knows.
I got this giant lizard from Dominican Republic 5 foot called rhinoceros iguana they have rhino horns like a rhino but on iguana you know and they got this big huge face and teeth scary looking, I grab this little blueberry and give it to this fucking lizard and reaches it out with his little hand. It’s literally insane bro.
Lewis: This is amazing bro.
Mike: I help raised a chimpanzee and it was one of the coolest things in my life like a baby. It’s like a human literally a human with extra hair and he can’t talk but everything we do like you show him how to blow a candle out a couple of minutes it’s hot don’t touch it, he’s like oh it’s hot. This chimp you show him an iPad and show him how to swipe, literally mind blowing how smart these animals are. I think they share about 90% of our DNA you know.
Lewis: If you can only have one animal that wasn’t a dog let’s say for 5 years and you couldn’t keep any animals what would it be?
Mike: Black Jaguar it’s one of my spirit animal.
Lewis: Do you have one now?
Mike: No, I’ve raised some before and like help adopt some of them but I never personally own one.
Lewis: You’ve been around them?
Lewis: What’s it like?
Mike: I’ve been around jaguars before but I always love the movie black panther, I’ve always have obsession about Black Panther even though it is not a black panther but black jaguars has been my spirit animal since a kid.
This is how I know this are my spirit animals, I started working with this black jaguar it was confiscated from smugglers and he was freaked out. I was down working with this jaguar and he was not having a good day and what’s understandable with the situation.
Lewis: How big was it?
Mike: It probably was this.
Lewis: Baby or now?
Lewis: Like 6 months?
Mike: No, I’d say like 3 months. Freaked out humans are horrible people and you know but that’s how he’s supposed to act. Take him to the water calm him down, fed him and gave him space. So after he’s swimming and swimming he’s got enough of me. They have full teeth and claws. So that was my first time working with a black jaguar was that one, I’ve worked with jaguars but not black.
Lewis: Do you think if you raised it as a baby would it be tame around you or as an adult?
Mike: it’s like you never encourage anyone to play with wild animal you know or apex predator in captivity.
Lewis: What about that guy always with lions?
Mike: Kevin Richardson he’s a badass.
Lewis: He’s like walking out with the lions and then playing with them.
Mike: He spends hours and hours every single day. In our line of we have to make that sacrifice you know what I’m saying.
Lewis: It’s your life.
Mike: But I’d do it any day. I look at it as we can, if I can make a sacrifice with myself and I can’t work for 10 years but I can inspire 100 million people to love animals and only 10 people are going to fully chase that dream hard like I did, just imagine what 10 Tarzans can do 10 years from now you know.
Lewis: Okay final couple of questions for you this one is called the 3 truths. So imagine it’s your last day on earth you choose the day many years out and you’ve done everything you wanted to do, you’ve accomplished all your dreams but for whatever reason you got to take all the information with you, all the videos and content goes with you so no one has access to your information, but you get to write down the 3 things you know to be true about your life, the experiences, the lessons. There’s only 3 things you can share with the world what would you say the 3 truths?
Mike: The 3 things love always wins, that’s the truth of my life. I could easily hate a lot of people for a lot of things but I love you, what happens after that? Nothing, if I can go on about it we can be negative for years fighting about it but at the end of the day with my life with everything that happened it’s love. Love always win, God is always good all the time the 2nd truth. 3rd truth the truth I would love to leave is we need animals more than they need us, because if they go we go. So if I were to leave this earth and not have anything I’ve done be showing but leave the truth behind: love always wins, God is good all the time, and animals if there’s no animals there’s no us.
Lewis: That’s powerful man. What can we do to support you? What’s a project to follow?
Mike: A lot of charitable work, I’m going to be giving a lot of money and lot of stuff. I feel like a lot of company organization have trillions of dollars in charity and giveback but they don’t pinch out a couple of thousand dollars. I want to be known the dude when I die like ‘That Tarzan giving away big checks and big work and just doing humanitarian loving work.’ Like going to Africa really doing shit, documenting and showing people where their money is going, my money and time is going. I feel like we miss that aspect of reality you know, I feel like as Americans we are comfortable here you know but there’s a whole another world that needs us and at the end of the day we can be American and be African, Europeans or Australians but at the end of the day we’re all brothers and sisters we’re all people and that’s where the love comes at. That’s where like I feel love is going to be real. So I’ve been using a lot of my own money to go out and do this work and bring people along with me whoever wants to tag along. So I can’t tell you what to do now just stay tuned, you know there’s a whole lot of stuff coming your way in a fun way.
Lewis: I got to acknowledge you for being you because you grew up in a place that wasn’t supportive of your dream but you did it anyway. You did something that most kids look like you don’t do and you’re doing it anyways with a lot of passion and love and generosity. You give back constantly which is really inspiring so I acknowledge you for your efforts, your work, your care for animals that don’t have care and you constantly show up in a big way man and your heart is infectious.
Mike: Thank you brother.
Lewis: My final question is what is your definition of greatness?
Mike: I look at Mike Tyson, I look at Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, Michael Jackson, and Michelangelo and you get these people that name Michael this could be just anyone. Greatness is when you look at people’s lives and you parallel them and they never cross paths in their actual line of work and they all have one thing in common: relentless hard work. It’s like with Michael Phelps what does he do every day? He swims he masters his craft, he doesn’t worry about anybody else he masters his fucking craft and that is why he is the best Olympic gold medalist swimmer. Look at Michael Jordan sickening work ethic. So true greatness lies in hard work, no matter how talented you are if you work your ass off every day nonstop you become great which you got to believe in that shit, if you don’t believe me look into these great people lives the real greats and you see they have relentless hard work.
I was working hard all year but I thought I was, I met Will Smith and I think I met him about a month and a half ago. So I’ve been travelling the world and doing my Tarzan stuff and I’ve talked to Will Smith and he hasn’t been home since Christmas, just working out there another country, another project, it’s like music video, TV show, YouTube and it’s like the hard work. What do you think of Michael Jackson’s music?
Lewis: Mastering his craft.
Mike: Mastering his craft. You know what I’m saying like these people greatness lies in hard work. My little brother is a talented young man his name is Randy and he’s so talented just naturally talented, but it could be a blessing or a curse.
Lewis: You may not work as hard when you are talented.
Mike: That’s what I tell him ‘You are already ahead of everybody just by talent wise, eventually they are going to catch you just by talent wise.’ I said ‘imagine if you put in relentless hard work in already God giving talent, no one will be able to catch you. You’ll be far ahead of everybody for a long time.’ And I tell him that at 6 years old and we went to 5 state championships at football and then he leaves football and goes on to win 4 state championships in basketball and 1 in baseball.
Lewis: What’s he doing now?
Mike: He’s playing basketball he is 13 years old, he’s 6’1 with a size 13 shoe. He’s a monster.
Lewis: It’s amazing man good stuff. I appreciate you Mike.
Mike: Thank you brother
Lewis: There you have it my friends I hope you enjoyed this one LewisHowes.com/724 Mike Holston in the house.
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If you’ve got a passion burning inside of you, this is another example that you can pursue that thing and make a full time living doing what you love. That’s what this life is about, it’s not about doing something you hate for your whole life, listen I get it for years I had to do things that I didn’t love in order to gain experience, the skill sets and earn the money and to have the freedom to pursue things that I love. But don’t ever let someone hold you back by saying your idea is crazy because there are example every single day of people doing things they love, they are making big impact in the world like Mike Holston and making a full time income doing it. So again used it as an example and share it with your friends let me know what you thought of this over on Instagram @LewisHowes.com/724 for the full interview.
Harriet Tubman said “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” I love you so very much and you know what time it is, it’s time to go out there and do something great.