Herb Long Overcoming Dementia



My guest today is Herb Long a business coach and very distinguished man. He received a BAA in Finance from Howard University and his MBA from Wharton. He has worked in an engineering firm, is an entrepreneur, and has owned several businesses. He has found that he likes coaching the best but before he reached his destination he had to overcome many bricks. While fighting unsuccessfully to save his family business, he went through a divorce and the biggest one of all he learned at the early age of 54 that he was suffering from dementia.  Learn how he healed from his dementia and listened to the whispers to find his true calling which was coaching. It is a remarkable story you are not going to want to miss!.

Episode Transcription


Intro Plays

Ari: Welcome to his Whispers and Bricks. My name is Ari Schonbrun. I’m your host. I have with me today is my guest herb long. Herb is an executive coach who helps leaders to engage, inspire and execute so they can navigate obstacles, see around corners and get their teams moving forward. As a certified professional coach, Herb uses the coaching method that optimizes your strengths and abilities to create sustainable change. With over 25 years of experience, herb has met most of the difficult challenges his clients face, and therefore he is able to help leaders gain insights, develop a plan for success and deliver strong results. Together they uncovered solutions that allow people to be authentic, while maintaining alignment with organizational goals. Purpose developed strategic alliances in Africa, Asia and Europe, and served on the board of directors for public and private companies and nonprofit organizations. He has provided coaching services to professionals, startups and mature organizations in medical technology, logistics, information security, financial services, real estate, chemicals and infrastructure development. Herbert, an MBA from Wharton, and a BBA in finance from Howard University. A native of Philadelphia herb now resides in New York with his daughter, please help me welcome, Herb. Long. Herb, how’re you doing?


Herb: I’m doing well already. Thank you for having me on your show.


Ari: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Really. I’m looking forward, I think you’ve got some stuff that is going to actually amaze my audience from our earlier conversations. But in the meantime, as you know, the name of this podcast is whispers and bricks, the whispers of those voices telling us what the right thing to do is, and they basically represent the good in life. The bricks represent the bad things we go through in life and God knows we all get hit with bricks throughout our career and throughout our lives at some point in time or another, some bigger, some smaller, but we all get hit. Now, I gotta be honest with you. You have a pretty impressive resume here. Pretty impressive bio MBA from Brown, an MBA from Wharton. Oh my God, our CEO had an MBA from Wharton.


Herb: Alright. One correction of BA from Howard University. from Howard


Ari: University. Not Brown. Not Brown. Okay. All everybody out there. Howard University now Brown. Okay. And yet our previous conversations, I learned that you wound up going to work in a civil engineering and transportation firm without even having a degree in engineering. Yes. So now, why didn’t you get a degree in engineering? Obviously, you had all these great, you know, MBA from Wharton. Alright, so why what happened? Tell us about that?


Herb: Well, it’s very interesting, Ari. I was good in science in high school. And even with that, I just always, I took my first economics class, we did a field trip, and visited the commodities exchange in New York. And boy, when that door opened up and heard all those traders yelling and doing the hand signals and everything, something just spoke to me about it. And from there on, I was always interested in finance and economics. And so when I applied to school, I first applied as a finance major through some back and forth with, you know, parents and teachers and advisors, I changed to engineering. I went to my first engineering class, Intro to engineering, they had everybody talks about all the disciplines and I said, Gosh, I want to do this. You know, even with, you know, a strong background in physics and what has You just this isn’t something I want to do. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to escape being placed in the School of Engineering until the Associate Dean, who was responsible for signing entering university transfers, finally, let me escape. So I changed my major to finance in my junior year of college, believe it or not. And, you know, while it’s still in engineering, so maybe, you know, all of that. There was a plan there was put before me, I didn’t really see until I was a little older. But both experiences, my education, my background in finance has served me very well. So has working in the engineering field. So what can I say?


Ari: So let me get this straight. You love finance? Right? If memory serves me, correct, you’re you had or your your family had an engineering business?


 Herb: Yes. So as much as you wanted to go into the financial world, you wound up in your family business in the engineering business, is that correct? In the


engineering business, at the time, the organization was pursuing development projects in Guinea, West Africa. And I was the finance guy on the projects. And so that’s sort of what drew me in for the longer term, I was still responsible for much of the, you know, handling the numbers and watching the business grow. But it just so happened to be, you know, in the civil engineering world. And I have to say, it was an amazing experience. Even though that wasn’t the path that I originally set out for myself. I just really believed in, in the projects that we were invested in, I believed in the people, most of all, and I really liked pursuing international projects. And you know, so that’s, that’s what kept me there.


Ari: Right. But at some point in time, you left the firm, did you not?


Herb: I left the firm on a couple of occasions.


Ari: Oh, tell us about that. Well,


Herb: you know, as you, you know, come into your own and you have new ideas, they don’t always mesh with the ideas of others. And so I decided on a couple of occasions to you know, strike out on my own and pursue other interests, which I did. But at certain time, the last time in particular, I was asked by investors and, you know, others to, hey, come back and write this shit. You know, I thought that I had set the company on the correct path in the future, after I had come back a second time. But evidently, it didn’t work out the way everybody had expected for the longer term. And so I was asked one final time to come back and see if I can get things going back in the right direction.


Ari: Interesting. So basically, on three occasions, right, because you had you did three stents, correct? 

Correct. So basically, on three occasions, you had as much as you wanted to do something else, you had those little whispers coming to you saying, Herb, this is where you belong, this is where you belong, you belong in the engineering firm, this way you belong. And you had those, and you listened to those whispers on three separate occasions. And you did go back to the engineering firm. It didn’t work out very well, if memory serves me correctly,


Herb: it didn’t work out well at all. on previous occasions, I was able to write the ship, but the last time around, I just was not able to, I guess save it, unfortunately, which left me feeling, you know, very dejected, mostly because of the people in the organization, who I believe really fought to, you know, have things go on the right path. And so, you know, I feel as though I let them down. You know, I let our clients down I thought at the time. And so, yeah, but but, you know, our, what I what I failed to focus on was the successes that I had had previously. And, you know, when I came back and putting things back on the right course, so, you know, I guess I was focusing on my failures rather than focusing on my successes.


Ari: So after you left the last time, for the last time, what did you do then?


Herb: I started a real estate firm, a real estate investment firm. And I was was doing consulting, independent consulting, which, while interesting, I have to say really wasn’t feeding my soul. You know, my interests are varied. And there are so many things that sort of took my attention in one direction or another. I have a very strong entrepreneurial interest. And so while I, again, I had some successes in the consulting world, I have to say, I knew that there was something else out there for me, I wasn’t sure what it was. I have ADHD, I attributed a lot of my attention being drawn in different places in different directions to having ADHD. And so yeah, I just followed, one pursued after another. Some were successful, some are not. But all were learning experiences for sure.


Ari: Mm hmm. Okay, so three stints in engineering, firm, consulting, business, different types of consulting, real estate, financial, etc. But something still tugging at your, at your heart, you’re not really sure what it is or what you want to do. But then you got hit with a huge brick


got hit? 


Herb: Right. Huge, huge


Ari: : learns, you learned that you were suffering from dementia? And I was no it. I will tell us. Yeah. Tell us about that.


Herb: Yeah, I was suffering from cognitive decline. Very much as you know, those who are suffering from dementia.


Ari: Tell me, how, how old were you at this point? I mean, you look like a young man. So, you know, we normally associate dementia with, you know, older people in the leg and how old were you?


Herb: So when I was diagnosed three years ago, or I should say, two, two and a half years ago. And so I was I was 53 years old.


Ari: Wow. And we don’t we don’t associate dementia with 53 year olds, that’s for sure. We so no, no. Okay. So what was going on? I’m sorry. I’m not going to interrupt you anymore. No,


Herb: it’s fine. All right. It’s fine. Listen, it’s this is excellent. I, I knew there was something wrong with me. And I knew that I felt different. Looking back on it and talking with others, since my diagnosis, it’s something I had been dealing with for probably four years. I made some very bad choices. You know, just not being able to, I don’t want to say bad choices. Making decisions that didn’t seem to make sense. You know, I wasn’t quite myself. I couldn’t analyze things that the way I once could. But I always attributed that to well, you know, you do have the ADHD. At one point, during that time, I was going through a divorce, there was the inability to say, you know, the family business that really weighed heavily on me. And in my other opportunity in real estate. I just couldn’t seem to get on a growth path that I knew I was able to do, because of previous successes that I had had in life. On a couple of occasions, people asked me, they’re like, Hey, are you okay? I’d lost a lot of weight. Again, I just attributed all of that to, you know, just the stress and you know, dealing with life. So they said to me that it was a, it was a cognitive issue.


Ari: So basically you are getting hit with brick after brick after brick. There was small, but brick after brick and you decided, I’m not listening to that. I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay. And then wham,


Herb: I’m gonna hunker down. You know, Ari, when I was diagnosed with ADHD, I was out of graduate school and the psychologist who diagnosed me, she when she finally sat down with me to go over the results, she said, I have to tell you, I don’t understand how you got out of graduate school. People who score on this test the way you score have problems getting out of high school.


Ari: Yeah, you know, I was gonna ask you that question because I know like, I know a lot of people that suffer from ADHD but these kids are dying. You know, in elementary school or middle school, but being diagnosed with ADHD after graduate school? I mean, I, how did you did? How did you do it?


Herb: How did I do it? I, it was a fluke that I even wound up with this psychologist, a very good friend, Dr. RG, who’s a therapist, we were having a conversation one day, and she sent me to see someone, and they did an initial screening and said, you know, we, we want to run some tests on you. And so that’s what they discovered. And not only I was relieved, and they were in fact, shocked. And so because that was something in my life that I had been able to overcome, I Oh, he said, Oh, you know, this is okay. You know, whatever brick I was being hit with, I’ll be able to fix it. I don’t need any help, I can do this on my own. And I always kind of poo pooed when I would find myself, you know, wondering, something’s different, but I’m not sure what it is. And I poopoo it and move on. What really stunned me one day is, you know, because I did study engineering in school for a number of years, you know, took calculus and, you know, other forms of math in college. But I was helping my daughter with her math. And she was working on a problem and said, Hey, Papa, is this right? And I, I couldn’t give her an answer. And it was an easy, relatively easy multiplication problem. And so it was at that point, I said, Okay, there’s something going on here. But the person who really sort of held my feet to the fire and said, Look, there’s something going on with you as my mother. And you know, parents know their children. Oh, yeah. There’s something going on with you. I’m not sure what it is. But absolutely. You are not yourself. And I think it was probably two weeks later that I was diagnosed with cognitive decline.


Ari: Wow. Yeah. So So what was the was it? Was it treatable? I mean, you know, we know that dementia is for the most part, not, certainly, in older people. If my father had dementia and Alzheimer’s, he had dementia, right now, obviously, you know, considerably worse. But that’s not what happened with you is it?


Herb: That’s not what happened. I consider myself very, very lucky. Through working with my health care providers, I was able to get better. It was for someone who’s as impatient as I am. It the recovery took a number of months before I was able to see any results. And it was probably about a year before I sort of felt like, Okay, I am back to my old self. But it was it was very scary. Especially as I began to get better, I was able to look back and see how bad I was.


Ari: Now, how what how did they treat it? What do they do?


Herb: It’s very simple are my body had stopped absorbing or processing vitamin B 12 and vitamin D? It’s something very, very simple. There was a question as to whether or not I would fully recover. Sometimes when people suffer the way that I did, there are times that they don’t recover or don’t fully recover. But I consider myself very fortunate that I feel better now than I felt in probably six or seven years. I feel I feel great.


Ari That’s, that’s awesome. Yeah. Okay. So you beat that. All right. And at this point in time, not sure what you’re doing exactly. As far as making a living goes, but all of a sudden, somebody a whisper comes to you in the form of a telephone call?


Herb: Yes.


I tell me about that.


That was That was interesting. Ari, I have to say, while I was recovering. That was a scary time. For me. It’s one thing you know, we always hear that people say when you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. And that’s true. And I said, Gosh, you know, when your mind isn’t there. It is a really, really scary place to be once I became aware of it. You know, it stopped working. I couldn’t make You know, sense of so many things in life. And I was on a call with a very good friend who is an executive coach. And I took a phone call, we were actually on a Zoom meeting was just the two of us and I took a call. And when I hung up, she said her good friend, Erica, she said, I really wish you would consider executive coaching. She said, I know that you have done it in your previous roles. You do it for me. I know that you do it for others. you’re excellent at it. Obviously, you enjoy it. Why not? Just try it as a career. I think that’s your calling. And so we chatted about it for a couple of minutes. A couple of years prior to that someone had suggested it to me executive in business coaching. And I poo pooed it I think I pondered it for about 24 hours and said, No, this isn’t something I want to do. So I said, Okay, listen, I’ll think about she said, please just just consider it. Well, I remember it clearly. Two hours and 20 minutes later, another very good friend, Steve, called me and said, Hey, Herb, I need a coaching session from you. And we had never discussed coaching ever. Excuse me, that was there. That wasn’t Steve and Eric and I had never discussed coaching ever, ever. And he said, Yeah, I need you to coach me through this situation of dealing with two weeks after that. Steve called. And he said, Coach herb I need your help. Again. He’s in the process of doing something in his professional life. And I said, Well, okay, here are the the whispers. And I think I’m on to something here. And that’s what got me on the path to coaching. Wow, yeah. Wow. And I have to say, from a professional standpoint, I I, I can’t recall enjoying something as much as I do coaching. I love it. I absolutely love it. Really? Wow. Wow. And my clients think I’m pretty good at it. So that


Ari: that’s important that that certainly helps. Wow. So you actually fell to a point so low? Would you know, you almost gave up, didn’t you?


Herb: Yeah, it was, you know, Ari, we all hit bumps in the road. But usually, we know that there’s a way back. But after my diagnosis, quite honestly, I feel as though I actually got worse, because not only was I suffering from the cognitive decline, but it was very depressing. And very scary, and not knowing if I’ll recover. Looking back at errors, this just confounded me at the time. Bad decisions that I had made. It was it was scary. And I didn’t know, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get out claw my way out of this one. And if I did how, you know, what would my path be? I wasn’t sure what I was going to do in the future. So yeah, it was there. There were moments that I I just sat and kind of wallowed in thought, I don’t. I don’t know how to get out of this.


Ari: What was the actual turning point? Does At what point did you say, you know, instead of like, I’m done, I’m you know, I’m not gonna chase them. I’m not gonna do it. What was it the point you said, No, I’m gonna beat this. I’m gonna do I’m getting out of this. What was it? How did what what triggered or what happened? Do you have any recollection?


Herb: I think it was a combination. So I think it would probably, you know, first having that conversation with my friend Erica. And considering coaching, knowing that I had coached in previous roles, and I did enjoy it. But when my friend Eric called me and said, to telling me just shortly there are instead her money, I need coaching from me. And then Steve called some time after that and said, Coach her, it never called me that. And so I’m thinking, this is a path for you. This is something that you enjoy. And for the first time, I said, I’m not going to have any preconceived notions I’m going to be open to everything. And that, I think was the point where I said her, you know, you’re probably at the lowest point you’ve ever experienced, just be open. There’s nothing, you’re still standing. You’re not 100%. But you’re still standing. And just be open to everything.


Ari: Wow. So before we close, let me ask you this, is there anything that you would want to share with my audience? Before we go advice, words of wisdom? I know there are people out there that are, you know, in situations where they don’t know how to get out of the situations that they’re in, and they’re also they’re concerned? Is there anything that you’d like to share with my audience?


Herb: There are a few things. But I think the greatest lesson for me in life has been to be brave, and ask for help. Be courageous. When you find yourself in a situation and you’re not sure how you’re going to get out, you don’t see a path forward. Be brave, be courageous, ask for help. That is what I tell friends. That is a lesson I learned myself. And that’s what I tell clients. Wow.


Ari: Very obviously, you know, words of wisdom for sure. Let me ask you, if you had to point to one person throughout your life that had the most influence on you? Could that be?


Herb: So wow, that’s a deep question. Alright. The most influence on me Believe it or not, I would have to save my daughter, your daughter, My daughter, because being parent, being a girl, dad, which is the role that I have loved the most out of anything I’ve ever done in life really requires or required me to become very patient. I’m an impatient person. And I remember when I was a kid, saying, You know what? I’m going to remember what it was like being a kid, I’m never going to be a grown up who, you know, doesn’t pay attention to kids or, you know, dismisses children. And she has really made me, you know, dig deep, and be patient and be thoughtful in everything that I do. Not just with her, but with everyone.


Ari: Wow. Yeah. Wow. I think I want to pretty much say that that’s kind of like a first. For all my guests that I’ve interviewed. I asked that question. Number one, and so I feel like I’m, you know, on what to call it done with television show. Family Feud. Yeah, I feel like Alright. Alright. I asked that question. Top five answers on the board. But number one answer, but believe it or not, is Mother. Yes. Mother. Most people, I would say 80% of my guests. When I asked that question will say my mom, my mother. You know, it’s very interesting. I think this is a first where it was my daughter. Yeah. But that’s great. Listen, her. I want to thank you so much for sharing your story with my audience, giving the people the motivation, they need to persevere and all the struggles in life because everybody has struggles in life. I think you went through more than a lot of people actually go through and the fact that you came out of it, and you came out of it whole and bigger and better than before. I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s a it’s a you know, it gives a lot of strength to other people. I want to wish you luck going forward. Before we go before we go, if people want to get in touch with you to learn more about what you do, how you do it, etc. What’s the best way for them to find you or to get a hold of you?


Herb: So the best way to get a hold of me is to go to my website. Carter Elliot calm. That’s c a r t e r e l l i o. T t.com Or to catch up with me on LinkedIn herb long.


Ari: Okay, so you heard it out there, Carter Elliot. I’m gonna save that for the next interview. Because your name is Herb long, so I don’t know what Carter Elliott comes from.


Herb: Carter is my mother’s maiden name. And Elliot is my middle name. Oh, wow.


Ari: Herb, Elliot long. Okay. Yeah. Okay, very good. So herb again, thanks so much appreciate you been listening to us.