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The Story Engine Podcast: Where we teach you how to make marketing easier, more powerful and fun through storytelling. Each week we learn from top entrepreneurs, influencers and world-changers on how to share your story through content, copywriting, speaking and how to make your story your most powerful marketing tool.

Oct 23, 2018

Hello, everybody and welcome to The Story Engine podcast. Today on the show, I have a friend of mine. His name is Cary Hokama, who is a personal trainer but also a podcaster and a speaker. Cary's big purpose is to help people live more authentically and more powerfully. He has a mastery of story in a very different way than I usually approach a story with my clients and the people I work with, and it's all about using your authenticity to make good decisions to empower yourself and to serve the people that you really wanna serve. And he's got a lot of good information on how to kind of dig into your own story, and use it to its most potential possible.


Key Takeaways

[3:13] What true authenticity is and how it serves

[4:02] How Cary’s past shaped his future success

[15:49] How serving at the highest level propels you and your business forward

[17:28] Expert tip to use if you are jumping into entrepreneurship

[18:20] How to cultivate your authenticity and start applying it to your message

[23:22] How Cary began podcasting and speaking

[29:04] How to use your story as a tool to write your next chapter and move forward


Cary Hokama Information

Cary Hokama Website





Own Your Self Podcast

Cary’s Book: Own Your Self

Russell Brunson

Evan Carmichael


Transcript of Podcast


Hello, everybody and welcome to The Story Engine podcast. Today on the show, I have a friend of mine. His name is Cary Hokama, who is a personal trainer but also a podcaster and a speaker. Cary's big purpose is to help people live more authentically and more powerfully. He has a mastery of story in a very different way than I usually approach a story with my clients and the people I work with, and it's all about using your authenticity to make good decisions to empower yourself and to serve the people that you really wanna serve. And he's got a lot of good information on how to kind of dig into your own story, and use it to its most potential possible. So, lots of good learnings in here today, and I'm excited to turn it over to Cary Hokama.

Cary Hokama, thank you so much for joining us today. We have been podcast friends for a long time now, and I finally get to have the honor of hosting you on my show, and it is always so much fun to talk to you so thank you for joining us today.

Cary Hokama:    

Kyle, the pleasure's all mine. You know that, man, you shared your heart and soul on two episodes of mine, so it really is just a regeneration of two homies getting together and sharing stories, and hopefully our message can add value to your audience, so think you so much.


I have no doubt, and that we've known each other for a long time, I would love for you to kind of tell the listeners right now, who you are, what you're up to, and a little bit about who you serve.

Cary Hokama:    

Absolutely. I absolutely have just been going through a really, great, great rollercoaster ride, and I'm still climbing up and up and up, and as you go up and you get to go higher, you get to see more of what's available and what's there, and so for the past 9 years as a fitness professional, as a nutritionist, I've been serving mainly fitness clients who have been wanting to experience personal transformations through the mental mindset, as well as physically, but the last 5 years I've been able to really go on stage and tell my story, and really leverage my personal stories of pain to be able to turn that into transformation and use that as a platform to be a transformational speaker, so I've been doing that and really launching my book and my podcast and connecting with amazing people, such as yourself, Kyle, so that we can always just leverage people's stories and mainly, their pains, kinda like their journey that they've been on in order to get to where we are because that, I believe, is true authenticity that serves people at the highest level.


I think that's incredible. And really, even beyond all those things that you just shared, you're really bit of a renaissance man, you've had a very diverse career of being, working at FOX corporate, being in a rock band which is something we both love to connect over time and time again, that's what it's really, that's where all the greatness comes from, owning a clothing line and a nonprofit, and I'd love to just get a brief overview of kind of the course of your life, and what does that bring to your entrepreneurship and your message today.  

Cary Hokama:    

Yeah, Kyle, I grew up not having a lot of money, and my family broke up because we weren't doing so well financially. I was 10 years old with a sister, with a younger sister, my dad was making $19,000 a year to try to support a family, and so being here in LA, I remember having all these narratives between our family members, and we were living very poorly, and I would always hear my dad saying, "Well, either I move to Japan and make more money, or we move to Compton." That was the storyline and I was like, "Why would I wanna move to Compton?"

And so the story went that my dad moved to Japan when I was 10, and he promised he'd be coming back in one year, and 30 years later, he's still there. I'm 40, and my dad is still living in Japan, and so having that narrative, I was the poor kid who grew up without a father, really. My father is still around but we just never really connected on a deeper level.

I always wanted to get rich and famous, that was my whole thing, that's why I tried all these things of starting a record label, starting a clothing line, trying to be a rock star, working with movie deals and whatnot. I was an eBay PowerSeller for a while, so I did anything and everything I could at the age of, from starting at 19 to get to the highest level financially so that I could bring back my family one day. I got lost in that.

I got lost in fame and fortune, I started ... I wanted to be the next Russell Simmons, the next Jay-Z, the next Bono of U2, right? And these guys are all moguls in their own right, I was like, "Okay, that's gonna be me," and so I chased it until I was 33, and obviously you know a lot more about my history and how I got married and started nonprofits and doing all that, but really, Kyle, it wasn't until I was 33 that I realized, "Wow, man," I still always had a passion to serve people.

I always have the pride to serve people at the highest level to be a humanitarian first and foremost, and that's when I realized, that dude, how I'm gonna live my life is that I'm gonna serve people at the highest level and create a passion and a purpose and a platform around that first. I don't know where to even start with that, to even go into a granular level to explain to your community how it all even started, but man, it really was an arduous journey to where I get to use all of those stories now to authenticate my journey, and Kyle, I don't know if you've noticed, but now that we're all on these social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all that, that there are so many people that are one inch deep in their crafts in their lives or their crafts or their careers, yet they want the fame of someone of who's an expert or a master of their craft, and it really is honing in and appreciating the granular level, the day to day, and the journey that allows you to become the man or the woman or the person that you are today, and so, Kyle, I don't know where to go, I don't know how deep you wanna go or which angle you wanna take it, but man, that's in a nutshell-


I think, that's a great, that's a great overview, there's a lot of good stuff in there to go from and unpack, and where id, like to take it now, is something that I feel can really empower a lot of people, can give a lot of clarity no matter what kind of business you have, no matter what kind of message you have, is getting really clear on the people that you wanna serve, and so I'd love to know who are you working with now, what kind of people do you serve, and who do you make the biggest changes for right now.

Cary Hokama:    

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. After years of experimenting and having more of a generic, more politically correct message and all that kind of stuff, I've really come to understand that my audience are servant leaders and creatives and entrepreneurs who wanna take their lives and master their craft, they can rise to the challenges and wanna get their greatest work out into the world. It's creatives, entrepreneurs, and servant leaders who want to serve the highest level, more recently, Kyle, and this goes really granular and this goes very niche, but it's been in my heart, you see me, I'm an Asian-American man who grew up in Los Angeles, California, and my grandfather, who was a missionary and a pastor and nonprofit organizational leader, passed away. It was during his welcoming speech that I delivered that I realized, "Wow, I also want to empower more Asian-Americans and minority Americans who don't get as much recognition here in America to get their voices out loud and heard, so that they can lead a new generation of future champions and kings and queens of their craft."


And I think that's beautiful, honing in on that and using your own story to reach that unique audience in a way that nobody else can. And I think that's one of the most powerful things that storytelling is all about. I love this because you've had a lot of experience over the last few years as a trainer and a nutritionist, but recently, you've created things like a podcast. You started speaking. How did you decide to start doing these things, and how did they kind of guide your career in new ways that maybe you weren't expecting, or opened up new doors for opportunities for you to serve more people beyond, I think one of the problems that or challenges that trainers or some entrepreneurs, doctors, and health coaches have is just working one on one with people for a long time, which you've been able to go beyond that with your message.

Cary Hokama:    

You continue to master your craft and doors will open, so what I want to say, Kyle is this. Even at age 7, I knew that my life was meant to be in front of a large audience, I knew that and so I used to always tell people that I'm either gonna be a singer or a professional athlete. Now, only at that age, I was limited by my capabilities that I could only see stardom or having a large, massive following in the form of Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan at the time. I equated my platform or my career to say singing or being a professional athlete.

When I was 33, I attended some personal development conferences, and it was at one particular one, where my mentor who is now my business partner, in which I'll be speaking on stage with from here on out, he mentioned a story of a character in the Bible named Samuel. And this guy, Samuel, spent his entire life building kings of his generation, so it was that a-ha moment for me to go back through all my journeys of trying to go for riches and fame that my passion, my heart, led back to that a-ha moment, that crystal clarity is what you talked about. I was always crystal clear about where I was going, I just didn't have the where-with-all or the ideas of the zig-zag road to that journey, right?

When I had realized that story of Samuel, I am Samuel. I am Samuel. I'm a kingmaker, I'm a queen maker, I'm a future, I'm a champion builder for our future generation, and so from then, my thoughts and my passion led to going into fitness. Okay, like, "What's my next step?" I can go into fitness, start serving people who wanna get in better shape. Now, I'm gonna get my certification as a nutritionist to help them with their nutrition and meal planning so that they're holistically being primed to be in their greatest shape. From there -

Cary Hokama:   

From there, I said, "All right, I've had experience being a frontman of a band for eight years. Why not take that expertise, that experience, to go on stage and share some of the stories that allow people to have a catalyzing, transformational experience through my speaking and my storytelling?"

So one thing just continues to lead to another. So wherever you guys are, your audience right now, I want to say to just commit to a life of mastering your current work. Even if you're working at Target or Starbucks right now as an employee but have these future aspirations of what you ultimately want to do, then be the best damn employee of Starbucks or Target that people will always remember you for, and from there, that'll be a catalyzing step to the next process. And that's what I did, Kyle, right?

So I would be the best trainer at my gym. People would spread that word and continue to refer me to other people. Until this day, I've never marketed any of my businesses, whether I was a realtor, as a personal trainer, as a speaker, not once. And so the last seven years have all been referral based, and it's all been led by new doors opening up somehow. And that's where I don't understand the science or the law of attraction or the universe opening up new doors. I just continued and was obsessed about building my craft, and the relationships and all those new doors start to open up by itself.


Oh, I think that's incredible, and that's something, yeah, that I really encourage in especially the realm of creating content, whether that's getting on video, having a podcast, writing books or blog posts. You don't really know where this can take you, and I think a lot of people spend too much time focused very much on, "Oh, how am I going to monetize this podcast and get my first sponsor?" Instead think about, "Where can this take me or where ... " Or just be open to the possibilities and be open to different doors and different connections. And I think that that's very, very powerful.

One thing that I think is really unique about you working with entrepreneurs and starting it kind of from physical fitness and nutrition. It's something that I've experienced a lot of benefits from, but I would love for you to make the connection of ... It's been a big part of your life, and I think a lot of people in startups, small business owners, even big businesses with founders, I think it's something that gets lost, that people don't automatically see that value right away beyond maybe some surface-level ideas. I think that's a big challenge for somebody like you, being able to communicate that value, and many health and wellness professionals have this same challenge. Tell us a little bit about how fitness can influence your career, can influence your entrepreneurship, and how do you share that value with people?

Cary Hokama:    

Yeah. At the end of the day, fitness, people think, "Okay, personal trainers are there to help train people," but really they're ... They're really salesmen, if you think about it, right? And I have never gone through, say, like a professional gym. I was never trained through a 24 Hour Fitness or any of that. I literally just followed another private trainer for one month, and from that day on, that day forward, I was on my own. I had to build my own clientele. So in essence, that's entrepreneurship at the deepest level, right? Because the only reason I can only exist is if my client were to renew every single month, and that's how I've been surviving the last nine years and thriving, I should say, now.

For the first two years, I was losing money, just paying the gym my lease fees, and from there, just doing whatever I could. But whatever I did, Kyle, I served at the highest level. I fell in love with my own clients. And they know that, from a humanistic point of view, that I love them first and foremost, and because of that I've had the same clients, the same 25 to 30 clients, for the past seven years that I was at this particular gym, which I'm still there now, and so to be able to create that community. And now they see my transitioning into the global speaking stages, and they are so encouraging of that. When I have to leave for weeks to go to a training or go speak, they're the first to congratulate me and support me.

So I think I want people to understand that all that money and stuff like that, that'll come, and you have to be absolutely crystal clear about who you serve and what your message is for, but first and foremost is to master your craft. Like, I have to master my art of personal training, and that's really dealing with personalities. It's not having a one-size-fits-all system where every person does the same exact thing, the same style. No, I cater to their varying needs, to their capabilities, listen to their stories and their narratives so that I can engage in a dynamic future so that they continue to have amazing not only results but to engage in a dynamic future that we can continue to work together. And so for those of you who are wanting to jump into entrepreneurship, remember to master your serve, to serve. To master that skill is the greatest skill they can ever possess going into entrepreneurship.

First and foremost, master your craft and then be absolutely crystal clear about who you serve and what your message is


I think that's great. Something that you do really well and that you've touched on a couple of times, and I would love to hear your process on how you bring that forward with people, is really authenticity. I think a big element is mastering your craft, and perhaps part of the process of mastering your craft brings out your authenticity, but ... And you've also said it yourself in your own story. Maybe you were playing it safe before. But how do you bring out authenticity in people, and how can somebody listening here bring out those elements of themselves and start applying it to their craft, their work, their message?

Cary Hokama:    

Yeah. I would say the greatest thing that I've learned in the last few years is to listen and go deep within yourself. There's so much content out there, Kyle. We all know that, right? People who are listening to you are probably listening to other entrepreneurs who have their own podcast with massive followings, and it's so easy to lose your own self. It's so easy to lose your own strategies and stuff by adopting other people's five steps and whatnot.

But I want you guys to know that your uniqueness is so beyond someone's 90-day system or any of that, and so it's really imperative to know that we have ... You, yourself have such a limited time here on Earth, and why not engage deeply within yourself to know and to go back and really harness your own journey so that you can use that to leverage a relationship-building process where people would really be into you and your story and how you can help them with theirs? Someone asked me recently, "How do you become unapologetically yourself?" And that question kind of stifled me a little bit, so I dug deeper. And at that moment, use a moment of silence to dig deep and say, "How can I go deeper, not broad or far out, but to go absolutely deeper and to step into the unknown?"

You asked earlier about stepping into the unknown and not understanding what's at the other side of your commitment. You have taken this opportunity to start this podcast, and because of your commitment, you and I are able to talk to each other again. So to your listeners, I would say ... I would ask the question, "What's at the other side of your commitment if you make that? And in the unknown is where all the magic happens, in the unknown, and that fear is where your uniqueness will even shine even more." That's how I've been able to really engage and bring my own inner conversations out loud because whatever you can start to reveal, you could transform that.


I think that's great and, yeah, once again really powerful to find your authenticity, the people you want to serve and to use that to take you into the unknown because that's really where all of the rewards are. And it's how well you can sit with the unknown and that uncertainty that empowers you to reap the benefits of it beyond that.

Cary Hokama:    

Yeah. And Kyle, can I just piggyback something off of what you said right now, too?



Cary Hokama:    

Is the fact that most podcasts have prepared questions and a lot of the guests I see that I do research on, and I hear their stuff, and they come on my podcast, and I hear them repeating the same answers back and forth, right? And part of it is, yeah, I understand the structure of such ... like a process of doing interviews and podcasts. But really what you and I are doing ... Like, I came in knowing ... I had no script. I had no questions. We're just here, and we're saying our "ums" and "ahs" because we're really engaged in each other. And so really, how do you harness the power of right now? Because literally in this world right this second, Kyle, if you think about it, we know so many people. We're completely ... We're well-connected, but right this second, right now, as the clock moves, this is the most important time in our lives, right now.

Harness the power of right now, it's the most important time in your life


That's the only time.

Cary Hokama:    

Yeah, this is the only time. If you keep thinking about the future, dude, we're shooting ourselves in the foot. If we keep dwelling in the past, dude, how are we going to move forward? And so right this second is the most powerful, powerful engaging time that you and I could learn and share each other's heart and even love each other even more, as silly as that sounds, right? And so, dude, this is it right here, man. This is authenticity, right here.


I think that's powerful, and it brings in exactly kind of the same question. It's being able to be in this moment and know your deeper truth of who you are, what you're feeling and what it is. And that comes forward in the people you serve and the various formats in which you create, whether ... no matter what you're creating, whether you're creating a new startup, whether you're creating a great podcast or a blog or anything in between them. You've been ... I'm curious to know about how you got started speaking and what your process was for creating your first talk, figuring out where you wanted to speak, and kind of learning the process of becoming a great inspirational and powerful speaker so that anybody out there listening with a message like yours who are feeling this authenticity kind of bubbling over them, how do they get on stages to share their message?

Cary Hokama:    

Yeah. I would say if you're looking to start out, start finding ... First and foremost, you want a model, and that's just one strategy. I fell in love with Les Brown, Kyle. Les Brown goes down as one of the greatest storytellers of our time, and all he does is he shares his journey, and that's it, of his vulnerable moments in life, and he understands his why. And so I would ... That's what I would do. I would always just showcase why I do what I do. And it really comes down to understanding that I want to serve and help my family out to create absolute freedom, and that freedom means the ability to decide who, what, when, where, why, and how on my terms, right? How I

Cary Hokama:   How I started was just being available and letting the people know around me that I'm willing to speak and I've experienced being on stage and performing weddings in the past. And so the more you are engaged with the world in your craft, again these doors open up and so it really started out with six weddings. I officiate six weddings and word spreads, right.

And then I remember in 2012 is when a personal trainer friend, a colleague of mine had invited me to speak at one of his corporate events. So he had a corporate event and he said, "hey, can you come and talk about the mindset of fitness and how to get from, you know, point A to point B". I was like, sure, and obviously, when you first start, you do it for free. You don't have anything to sell. You don't have any books or anything like that. So you just really go and give your time, so the more you give, the more you give value and add, man, the opportunity just opens up from there.

So really one thing led to that, and it's just all again, referral like I don't have any marketing material. I now have a website with everything like that, but until that, it was just all word of mouth. And so the more available you are, the more you are able to just continue to give to people from a genuine standpoint and not really expect anything in return. Really the floodgates just continue to open.

So I started maybe 2012, 2012 to 2018 so six years ago is when I first started speaking. And again, and ever since then I've really catapulted and I received professional training now from a world-class speaking coach. I don't know if you're familiar with Russell Brunson. So his speaking coach is now my coach.


Oh wow.

Cary Hokama:    

So it's just really taking it to the next level, and they really allow me to craft my message around my niche. And there's a great saying, your niche will make you rich, or your niche will hit your reach. So it's a really cool little like little standard set to go with if you're starting out now.

Your niche will make you rich

And Evan Carmichael was recently on my podcast. He's one of the most successful YouTubers of our time with over 1.6 million subscribers and he really made the top 10 successful rules or the top 10 rules for success. So if you look up any successful person, you'll see a top 10 rules for success that was made by Evan Carmichael.

And with social media, with Facebook and IG, really Kyle, whether it's you or anyone who's listening, we have IG stories. If you really say that your brand is fire, you could start spitting for 15 seconds, a minute, or even do IG TV live and really start using your own voice to catapult you to the next level. There are no excuses. You don't need a huge podcast, right? You don't need a crazy large media team to get your message out there. Like you have it right in front of you.

And so I would start doing that and let the quantity become your quality one day, and you have that right in front of you. And whether you have an audience of 300 followers or 300,000 listeners if you're that fire, as you say you are, or you're speaking as if you want to become that big or successful one day, well there's your opportunity to get your voice heard, and from there that ripple effect will really take you to the next level as you wish.


Oh, I think that's so incredible, and I didn't know you did weddings as well. That's a really fun extra side thing. It's a super important moment to be a part of and yeah, standing up in front of an audience like that and being able to deliver a beautiful speech right there is a very good place to bring your skills and your authenticity forward.

So Cary, this has been a lot of fun and I think we've [doven] into how to understand your authenticity, how to reach the people to get some clarity on who you want to serve and use that as a tool, and everything kind of moving forward with that. I would like to kind of give you a closing question that I think will be a strong one.

How do you, so we've discussed a lot about crafting a story and you've been able to take the different twists and turns of your life and start to instead of just looking back and telling a story about it, but actually starting to actively write that story and engage and be present. And so how do people these days use their story as a tool to write the next chapter to move forward to enhance their lives?

Cary Hokama:    

How do you do that?



Cary Hokama:    

Yeah, wow. That's really, you have your own storyline. So I would start out. Okay, what was your life like at age five, 10, 15, 20, to wherever you are now, right? And what are some of the most catalyzing moments like start asking yourself, I'll never forget the moment when? And when you could craft those little stories, you have a story. You have a story, guys.

I mean this is information that I get from my training workshops now from the world-class speakers, speaking coaches. I'll never forget the moment when. When you can think of several of those, you have yourself a story and whenever you're speaking to an audience, right? You always have to remember what's in it for them and why me, right? What's in it for them and why should they listen to me?

And that's why I always say to master your craft because those are going to be the parts where you get to anchor yourself as an expert or someone who's worth listening to. You know when you are given that message when you're telling your story.

So the biggest thing now is that if you look at all the biggest influencers, Gary Vaynerchuk's, the Tony Robbins, these are all people who literally built their businesses to multimillion dollar companies first. They built an already a huge audience and then they became influencers and coaches and people are doing the opposite right now. They want to be coaches and they're trying to list all these features that they can to entice them to buy from you.

So rather than that like master your craft, think of all the things I'll never forget the moment when. That's what's going to like really hook and anchor you as the influencer in whatever story you want to tell and who you serve and always remember what's in it for them and why should they listen to me? If you could hone down those questions, you're well on your way and write those down. Write those down. Absolutely. And don't compare your chapter one to other people's chapter 25.


Oh man, that's so important. I think a lot of us when we are telling our story or thinking about what story to tell, not only that, but we look back on our own lives and you think, well maybe I didn't have to like escape any burning buildings or do any kind of heroic feats or anything. So maybe my story isn't worth telling.

And it, I think what's important and what could be liberating for a lot of people is it's not always these big dramatic moments. They can be really small moments. Like just a little, a little conversation, a compliment from somebody who is really important to you, a moment when you realized you weren't sure if you are going to take action and you did take action.

Cary Hokama:    



And that moment, it might have been just the smallest decision in the world, but it can be a story like that, that really you can hone into something great when you're sharing it with somebody and you can use it as a moment to remember and make your own decisions.

Cary Hokama:   

So good, Kyle. Can I add one more thing?


Of course.

Cary Hokama:    

This is really, this has been this one information, I believe, it just made it. It was a game changer for me personally and I think a lot of people really struggle with knowing who their audience is and if you absolutely don't know, a good starting point would be knowing that the audience could have been you yourself maybe three or five years ago.


Oh, that's so true. I think most of the every, the two books I wrote have been definitely letters to myself a couple of years back and yeah. So that is a really simple, really brilliant way to bring that forward.

Cary, it's been such a pleasure speaking with you. Such a pleasure sharing these moments with you and getting to hear your story and your wisdom and I'm sure a lot of our listeners out there really enjoyed this too. So where can we go to learn more about you, to listen to your show and to hear more of your message?

Cary Hokama:    

Yeah, man, I'm deeply engaged on Instagram and you can look under Cary Hokama or is probably the best way to have links to like everything that I've going on. So is a primary.


All right. Well Cary, thanks again. It's been a total pleasure and I'm sure we'll be speaking again soon.

Cary Hokama:    

You best believe it, brother.


Thanks for listening to the Story Engine podcast. Be sure to check out the show notes and resources mentioned in this episode and every episode at If you want to tell better stories and grow your business with content marketing and copywriting, be sure to download the content strategy template at This template is an essential part of any business that wants to boost their traffic, leads, and sales with content marketing. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next time.