Sometimes there are paradoxes that just don't seem fair. Like the easiest time to qualify for a loan is when you don't really need the money.
And how, when you're struggling, opportunities seem in short supply... while the more successful you are, the more opportunities you find -- and are presented with.
Of course having too many opportunities, just like having too many choices, is a good problem to have. But still: How do you decide which opportunities to take?
Case in point: Bill Goldberg, the WWE Hall of Fame wrestler who parlayed his wrestling fame into a career as a TV host, actor, author, and entrepreneur.
His latest project? He's the host of Forged in Fire: Knife or Death, History's new competition series that airs at 10 p.m on Tuesdays. (You can watch full episodes here.) Forged in Fire features competitors who bring their best blades -- Bowie knives, Viking Seax, Japanese Katana, etc -- and test their blade-wielding skills against some pretty cool challenges: Hacking ice blocks, a variety of metals, ropes and tubes and crates... and even some flying watermelons.
(If you like learning about sub-cultures you never knew existed -- and you like competitions -- this show is definitely for you.)
I asked Bill what attracted him to the show, as well as how he's crafted his post-wrestling entrepreneurial career.
You're a highly successful guy with plenty of options. What attracted you to this project?
First and foremost, the producers of the project. They came to me years ago with a project that was very different, one that spurred my imagination, that as well outside the box... and Forged in Fire had the same appeal.
At first glance it might seem to be a male testosterone-driven kind show, but as you can see by the diversity of the contestants, it's anything but. It's a competition, but there's also technique, and beauty, and history, and back story... everyone on the show really does have a story.
That makes it easy for the audience to not just be visually entertained, but also emotionally invested.
Many of the projects I get offered don't have that kind of appeal. This one definitely does.
I didn't realize what I'll call the "blade culture" even existed.
I really try to do my due diligence with every new project I take on. As I was coming up to speed I realized that most of the "chopping" competitions don't have broad appeal. They're relatively niche. Only people who forge knives, or have an interest in that... they're the only ones who could really get engaged as an audience.
As wonderful as that small niche is, our goal is to share it with a lot more people in a very cool and much broader way.
This is an awesome hobby, craft, avocation... it's a historically-driven activity that has a lot of layers to it. Obviously the blade culture in the martial arts alone dates back thousands of years. As a martial artist, that was an instant connection for me.
And don't forget I'm married to a woman who is a blacksmith. Through being involved with the show I can now talk about this in a fairly coherent way and actually have a nice conversation with my wife about what she does. (Laughs.)
I know people who own vineyards, and one of the things they love is that they feel like a link in a winemaking chain that dates back thousands of years.
Absolutely. The contestants on the show feel that same connection to the past. That's why this is a perfect show for History: It's a springboard to that historical perspective as well as a way to pass the art and skill down to another generation.
I love that about the show, but what I also love is that I get the opportunity to meet great people: Cohosts, contestants, producers and editors and writers and all the other people that make the show... it's a great group of people. I love being part of a team.
That's something I definitely look for when I get an opportunity: A great team of people I will not just enjoy working with, but can also learn from.
You may not want to answer but I have always wondered: As a host, do you end up rooting for certain contestants to do well?
For better or worse, if you ask me a question I will always answer. (Laughs.)
As a human being you can't help but cheer for someone whose beaten breast cancer. You can't help but cheer for someone whose house recently burned down in the fire. You can't help but root for people who are facing struggles and challenges and rise above it to enter a competition that takes their mind off the reality they live in.
How can you not cheer for people like that? So yes, Tu (Lam, the cohost) and I have found ourselves unintentionally "coaching" people along the way when we're doing our commentary in real-time. We want them to do their best.
But here's the funny thing: We've found we do that for every single competitor. (Laughs.)
It truly is a journey for the contestants. I don't want to get all corny and try to make the show sound like something it's not, but these people really do go through a journey.
That starts before they're even on the show, because they've built a relationship, so to speak, with their blades.
You're right. For each of them, their blade is not just an extension of their bodies, but a little bit of themselves.
Whether the person forged their blade and are showcasing its durability because they own a forging business or blade company... or whether they're representing a martial art where they've been studying for the past 15 or 20 years... spending as much time as we do on set you can't help but feel like you're going through the competition with these people.
I don't want to get too introspective... but it's true. It breaks your heart when someone doesn't do as well as they hoped.
You can't help but cheer, on the inside, for them. We're objective and professional... but that doesn't mean we can't also care.
I often say the best part of my job is that I get paid to meet great people and learn cool things... but I think your job might be even better.
That means you and I are living the dream. (Laughs.)
Seriously: I get to work with the best of the best and learn something new pretty much every day. I love to learn about things that I enjoy, and that interest me.
I very much look forward to shooting this again and again -- not just to learn more about the blade culture, but also to continue to hone the craft of being able to act on the fly and learn on the fly and communicate that in a way that is entertaining... or at least not sound like a fool. (Laughs.)
Part of the draw of doing a show like this is the contestants and their struggles and seeing them wield their blades through the courses. But part of it is our journey with them, as hosts.
You're very good as a host: You manage to convey a lot, but in a natural and unforced way. How did you develop those skills?
I appreciate you saying that, but I'm still learning every day. The people I've been in association with, who have developed and directed me... I've benefited from the guidance of a lot of great people.
I try to pas that on. Take Tu Lam, my cohost who is a highly decorated Green Beret. He's one of the best at what he does, but this is new for him. I've taken it upon myself, with help from everyone else, to help him feel more comfortable.
Trying to help other people makes me better. Helping other people makes the show better.
That's what being a part of a team is all about.
You're involved in a variety of pursuits. How do you balance them?
I'm fairly militaristic in the way I operate. I compartmentalize a lot of things. I can put everything aside and focus on this, then move on and focus on that... of course that's a blessing and a curse, but it's also very effective when you need to balance a lot of different things. (Laughs.)
But mostly I look at everything I do as a challenge. As my dad used to say, you're only as good as your next venture.
But I can't say I'm perfect at balancing everything. That's especially true when you have a family. And of course that is nothing new for any parent, and any family.
So how do I do it? The best I can.
And I make see finding that balance as something that is just as important as succeeding in anything else I do. It's great to be successful... but success includes taking care of, and being there, for the people you love.