Editor’s note: The following is part of Startland News’ ongoing coverage of the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Kansas City’s entrepreneur community, as well as how innovation is helping to drive a new normal in the ecosystem. Click here to follow related stories as they develop.
As researchers race to develop a Coronavirus vaccine, Paul Long has his own cure in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic: positivity.
“I’m not scared at all about the future. Specifically because I know I’m throwing good energy into the universe without the expectation that it’s going to come back to me,” said Long, a Kansas City-based author, podcast host, public speaker, and founder and CEO of Fundamism — a corporate culture consultancy that’s built around the fundamentals of a fun and optimistic lifestyle.
“Over the course of the last four months when my speaking business has been just absolutely ravaged. … Revenue has come to a halt. I decided to throw all of my energy into throwing as much goodness as I possibly can out to the universe,” he said.
Such a strategy has culminated in a wildly popular, daily music video series on social media — which Long said has carried his message further and taken his career to new and unexpected heights beyond Kansas City.
“I believe you could find any song to evoke any emotion you want to feel. And right now there’s a wave of emotions going through all sorts of people and they’re just looking for an escape,” he explained of the videos, which are filmed in his basement, home gym.
“I decided to throw on my Charlie Hustle shirts and do a new song every single day,” Long continued. “And I don’t know why, but it created this groundswell that people appreciate and ultimately are having fun with.”
Click here to check out Paul Long’s Instagram account and daily videos.
‘Bottle up that energy’
As Kansas Citians get to know Long — who many might already recognize as half of the “Catsuit Guys” duo that dominated the internet during the Kansas City Royals’ run in the 2014 World Series — he’s eager for them to uncover new pieces of themselves.
“One of my favorite quotes in the whole entire world is, ‘Don’t ever judge the face, if you can’t judge the heart,’ you never know where someone’s been in life and you don’t know what they’re going through,” he said.
“Growing up, somebody in your family gave you so many smiles — so if someone doesn’t have one, you can bless them with one of your own. … I’m not trying to get folks to be like me. I’m trying to get them to reveal the opportunity that they have to have more fun in life.”
With seemingly boundless energy, Long’s personality comes to life on the screens of thousands of people everyday. But they’d never know the toll the pandemic has taken on his business — a venture he long envisioned and gave up a successful sales career to pursue, he said.
“Before all this happened, I was selected as one of six speakers in the whole entire world to be showcased for the International Speakers Bureau Association. It was like the coup de grace of my career,” Long said of the now-canceled event and lost opportunity, which saw him lean even deeper into his fundamentals of F.U.N. — foundation, understanding others perspectives, and next steps.
Click here to read more about Paul Long’s Fundamism.
“I could have very well gone into a funk and started the ‘Woe is me’ stuff, but I turned that negative energy into something that I was certain would not only lift me up but would lift others up,” he said.
Pressing through the disappointment and embracing the F.U.N. acronym has opened a number of doors for Long in recent weeks, including a recurring segment on the Fox 4 News morning show, the opportunity to speak to a virtual crowd at a National Alliance on Mental Illness-hosted webinar, and countless virtual friendships.
Beyond business opportunities, an intentional effort to spread joy and embrace fun has started conversations between isolated friends and neighbors across Kansas City and positioned Long as a sort of modern-day Mr. Rogers, sharing life lessons and paying forward imparted wisdom.
“[I hear] everything from, ‘This guy is an absolute spaz, but if I could bottle that energy up and just hold 10 percent of it, I would be in a better place,’ to, ‘You made my day, I really needed this,’” he said.
“I respond every single time the same way, ‘The universe is a crazy place, the energy in this world is real, whatever you choose to see you’ll see.’”
Positivity versus the optimist
Life-shaping moments often choose people, Long said.
“I received this video today and this gentleman basically shares the story of an admiral who was a prisoner of war. The thing that got him through that tumultuous time was an unwavering sense that he was going to make it through and use that opportunity as a defining moment in his life for growth,” he said.
“He went on to say, ‘You know who didn’t make it through the experiences that I made it through? … The optimist.’ The optimist would always say, ‘Oh, we’ll be out of this by December. We’ll make it through by next week or next month,’ and then that time would come and they would die of a broken heart.”
Accepting lack of control in trying situations is the key to making it through them, Long said.
“I’ve always subscribed to this mantra that ‘the universe giveth and the universe taketh away, my friend,’” he said effortlessly, oozing charisma.
“I devoted all of my energy into the speaking business. And as a result, I have done well over a hundred events each year. When you get into that ascension, and I’m blessed to hear people say wonderful things about me — you get comfortable.”
Having the rug pulled out from underneath him amid the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed Long to stretch himself and embrace a new, unfamiliar path, he said, noting a fearless approach to opportunities has provided him with some of the most rewarding experiences of his career and life.
“When we’re going through the struggle — fear, depression, anxiety, it’s easy to stay there laying in your bed, attached to social media, reading all the crap that’s going on in the world,” Long said. “What you have to do in that moment is, you have to interrupt those brain patterns. You have to force yourself up and go do something immediately that’s going to make you smile.”
Such a reaction is made easier by establishing a personal set of fundamentals, he added.
“Whether that’s meeting a new friend or doing a stupid dance video or playing a board game with my family or sending a gift to a coworker, those are my fundamental things that will ultimately pull me out of a wretch,” Long said.