Today on the Elora Fergus Podcast we’re chatting with the one and only Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy. Listen Here
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy is the host of her own TV program on Cogeco and radio show on The Grand 101.1. She is also of not one, but two books and she’s involved in all corners of our community.
Barbara is a self-proclaimed performer at heart. She’s ambitious and hardworking. She is also the victim of abuse and Barbara uses her experiences to help inspire others.
As a kid, Barbara moved around to various Canadian cities before eventually settling into The Township of Centre Wellington where she has become a leader, communicator and performer.
Oh, and “Citizen of the Year” too :)
I think you’re really going to enjoy this episode with Barbara Evoy
Listen Here: Ep 15 with Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy:
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Audio Transcription with Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: And I was talking to my husband on our walk. And so when I, when I told him about what you're currently doing, you seem to have an in depth knowledge of two things that are really important that I usually find one or the other marketing, and let's say theater performance, whatever.
Ryan Joyce: You're very kind. I have to acknowledge. I'm just a nerd. I love all sorts of nerdy things. And you know, the good thing, I, gosh, I don't know if I mentioned this on a, on a episode in the past, but I spent a lot of time, Anna van, I don't know how many thousands and thousands of kilometers I spent in a van would injure the crew to some of the nerdy things that I really enjoyed, like Zig Ziglar. And I got home Ziglar Zig Ziglar's most famous quote, arguably is you can have anything you want in your life, as long as you help enough other people get what they want.
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: Yeah. But it's funny that a kid would follow or would be interested in Zig Ziglar's words of wisdom.
Ryan Joyce: Again, I was just a nerd. I have been looking forward to connecting because our paths have seemingly crossed many times, but never really actually met. And so like a virtual hug, I guess, or a virtual. Hi, nice to meet you. Um, I'm so curious to check cause you do so many things, but I guess my biggest understanding is you're a performer at heart. I am, that's what this all stems from.
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: I think I am, but I also wanted to figure out a way to use that, which was a natural talent and figure out how it could serve and really much of what I do. And if you follow me at all, you'll know that there's a thread that goes through everything that I do that I say that I, everything is about being in service to my community, to my, to my family and friends, but to my community and being prepared to walk your talk, which I think is a really big one. And so mental health, youth, children, family wellbeing, and community and everything that I do, my TV show is about it. My piece on, on the air does talks to it and my books about it. Both my books are about it. I think pretty much. If you were to ask me what, what defines me, it's my need to be in service. How is
Ryan Joyce: For me, it's a different language for some people. Some people don't want to perform at all. And uh, and there's when you get that little bug, it doesn't leave you.
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Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: No. Is it fair to call it a bug? I think it's more in our DNA. I think. Um, some people love it and some, you know, do you remember hearing that the biggest fear? I'm sure you've heard it, but the biggest fear known to mankind and Jerry Seinfeld said this really well years ago, the biggest fear known to mankind is speaking in public, which means people would rather be delivering the eulogy than be in the box.
Ryan Joyce: Would you be in the box?
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: Either one? They're talking about BP in the coffin.
Ryan Joyce: Yeah. That's such a great, yeah. Have more fear to stand up there. And it's so true. I feel so comfortable on stage nowadays, but I, um, I definitely still I'm aware that something is about to take place
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: For me. It's um, I think it's like any artist that you speak to or anybody with a passion. I could not say that being a performer, wasn't the top three things that defines you. I am like, I, I feel like, or how I need to deliver who I am. I don't think it's a question. I think some people choose to foster it and hopefully I've gotten better at it over the years as an MC and a speaker and a moderator and the, and a performer that I've done within my community. Hopefully people have watched me as I work really hard to raise my game, but I don't want someone to think that performing is more important than what I'm performing for. Uh, and, and, and that, that is what would behoove me if my community or my friends or people who don't know me thought that I would rather be on stage than thinking about what I'm on stage for. Does that make sense,
Ryan Joyce: Right? You, yeah. You apply balance very well. I think it's one of the things, well, you've written a book too, talking about all this. So this is something that you also educate and that's based on your, your local business as well, which I guess in these days, everything's virtual. So you're tell us about what you do from like your day to day stuff.
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: I think if you looked at the day in the life of Barb, Eva, you'd probably laugh because it's, chart's pretty early and I'm not an early person. I, I said too early, earlier coming from the performing world, 7:30 AM is like bright and early for me. Um, I'm often fighting getting to sleep at two or three or four o'clock in the morning still because I am naturally a night talk like I am, I am happier when it's dark. I do my best work when it's my time out. So yeah, I think that's, that's just the way I was wired, but I find it. I wake up and right now I'm teaching, Oh my gosh, probably anywhere from three to seven hours a day. So we offered the services for free or whatever you could afford, um, throughout COVID in the summer, because it was important to me again, to be prepared, to walk the talk.
And Leslie, I have an incredible team of staff that were prepared to walk the same path with me or let them know there was no wrong answer. You want to go and collect your AI right now? I completely understand, but everybody agreed to the, the three or four people that I brought back agreed that educating our kids was more important than making money right now. And so we continue to work throughout COVID. Most of the days I was teaching four or five, six hours, and then I'm in the nighttime. It's funny. I feel like I got way more accomplished during the heat or the peak of COVID. Why? Because we figured it out by then. So about two months ago, we figured it out as a, as a collective, how are we going to keep going? And I actually found that I was two and three meetings a night. So I was maybe sitting in front of the computer from six until 10 or 11, but I was attending three meetings. Whereas in the past that would be impossible. And here's another thing I understood. I thought I loved the kibitz before and after meeting. I've discovered I don't so much, like I just covered. Let's get in, do the work and get out and get onto the next one. No travel. No.
Ryan Joyce: Yup. There's certain power. Brevity is the soul of wit well, no, that's a related to comedy, but people respect you when you feel like you have not wasted their time. How's that works. You're so curious to see what happens moving forward, because all we seem to be hearing in the media and on the talks is that like this work at home thing was actually pretty productive. It wasn't quite the downtown. We thought it was going to be,
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: I think the questions are going to come around. So I I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to data and I can't help thinking, what are we going to learn in the next six months, year, two years, five years, 10 years. What are the kids? Here's my first question. What grade is going to show the most effect of not being in school for happier? Will it be grade one? Like we say the most important part of our, you know, determining our characters and our strength happens before a certain age and a certain grade. Are we going to see it then? Because for four months or five months, we took kids out of that equation. Are we going to create in grade nine? Are we going to see it in grade 12 is they're prepared? Where are we? I don't know. Ryan, it's such a big question. And then we have to look at it.
Ryan Joyce: I would say, I would imagine that's solely based on the experience that child has at home, I would imagine. So
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: You're, so you landed on it so much more, which is what's going to dirty or expand the questions of this, of this gathering, the info later on. So, you know, somebody said to me, you seem so good. And I said, do you know what the truth of the matter is is as a Victor over really serious abuse, I completely own and always tell others. I am in therapy. I go to therapy once a month. I see my therapist. I talk to her, whatever, but I have kept up my therapy as a couple. We make sure we stay mentally healthy by staying in touch with our therapists who help us to stay healthy through journeys like this. And so we've done that. Plus I added exercise every day. We added an hour of exercise, five, six days a week. So there's a lot of plus we live paleo.
So there's a lot of things that we already had in place. The other half of this equation is that we like each other. Now having lived with an abusive person with serious addiction issues in the past, I've many times sat at this computer and spoken to other people much wiser than myself and said, I can't imagine what it would be like to be in a home that wasn't healthy. So that feeling of, especially in the very beginning where I didn't even leave my house, like I didn't go anywhere at first. I did not either mind blowing to think about, and, and there's the whole thing. People saying I'm stuck at home versus safe at home. I believe that our thoughts motivate our language and our language dictates our actions. So for me, it was easy to remain healthy. We have a big enough house. If we got too stressed, which we really did in the beginning, I really did.
We took space that we needed. We could do it calmly and respectfully. I need you to get the heck out of the room and using stronger language. I need to just be on my own right now. And we could honor that. So I think the journey is so unique to every one of us, the performer in me missed, missed that piece. For sure. Even though I was recording my radio show from home, I'd already put my TV show in the can, so I didn't need to do that. But it was the piece that was the piece that only other people's energy can give to you. That was, I really missed that a lot.
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Ryan Joyce: Yeah. It's hard to explain that to others. Um, and so you stand on stage and really connect with, or whatever that platform and audience, but the other people get it in terms of their car and yeah, you're right. Everybody has that thing, whatever their hobby is. But the only, I would say the only difference is is that with something like this and there's other sports is a, is a, an example that resonates also with theater is that there's a, there's a, there's a stake in the game. And, and there's like an, like a, there's a stress point that's super high. Like with athletes, there's a competition involved. So their, their emotion and connection to sport is really high. You can leave hobbies. Yeah. People never leave performance.
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: No, you're right. Oh yeah. That's a really good point. You know, when you look at some of the, um, some of the teams that are well, all sports now, but my husband was a, Matt is a man new fan and about whatever it was two weeks ago, they pulled it together and decided that soccer was going to be played or football was going to be played without an audience, but there was still going to be played or without fence, same, same players and play different players. But, uh, they put, I don't know if, you know, they put pictures of fence faces on the feet to help motivate. And they added the cheers of fans gone by, they made it a little. And I was trying to explain to my husband who was a huge fan, they're not gonna do their best because the crowd isn't there. And he said, that's nuts. They're they're athletes. This is not about the crowd. And I said, Hmm, it is it's, they'll play this well, they're the play to their best. And then a little bit further when they get cheered on you can't gauge that you can't, you can't, you can't do that.
Ryan Joyce: Adrenaline, I guess, is the word they use. That's the, that's what I was searching for. Yeah.
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: And it's the exact word. I feel like I, you know, I'm listening to people. I didn't even know that this is what we were going to talk about. I thought we were going to, you know, I was going to talk all about how I love my community and felt anything County is so great because if you follow me, I say that stuff all the time, but I I'm glad that we went in a, in a whole new direction, but kudos to you as interviewer, um, cause you deserve it. Um, but I'm glad that we went into a whole nother direction. Talking about people's motivation is different. Every single one of us has a different motivator or something different. That's going to catch and keep us in a certain spot. And I think that if we could figure out how to bottle, that we'd make a, as my father used to say, we'd make our million dollars right there, which nowadays is really not that much money. But remember when we used to only want to earn a million dollars,
Ryan Joyce: That's true. The game has changed immensely. It's certainly is different times. And we were talking about sort of forcible change and this is sort of required us all of us to change. And I see this as a great thing for any perspectives.
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: I don't agree. This is. So again, if we go back to what I said earlier about our thoughts are really the first step of everything and everything is a choice. Even how you're going to think is your choice. So I feel like if we could realize the joy that can come from, and maybe that's too fluffy of a word for some of your listeners, if we can realize the power or the value in directing our own thoughts and how much we can change things as a result of doing that effectively, it's phenomenal. It is mindblowing. You know, the secret is no secret and it annoys me that it was ever called the secret. All that really says is, and why would you call it a secret because they wanted to capitalize on it, which is kind of free.
Ryan Joyce: You still have to sell a great idea.
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: And like, you know, all the people that are complaining about, or the people that are finding reasons to not be happy about where we are right now, as a result of COVID, we could do so much more good. We could be using this time to say, what can we do? What can we do? That's going to be better than what we were doing before. If we can't come around to a place where we recognize that we have in fact spent a lot of money over the last few months and we will need to repay it. We need also then simultaneously to figure out a plan that we can do so effectively. And that means new ideas like this. This is a new idea, living a virtual, a version of virtuality. It's, it's gotta be what tomorrow looks like.
Ryan Joyce: It's certainly a new way of communicating that at one point we'll say was like the television or, or, you know, it would be just part of what it is. It's certainly interesting times. And I think our community is adapted well, what do you
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: Thanks? I feel like, um, so if we look at it from a collective, I think Wellington County has done a very good job. I think Centre Wellington has done an exceptional job in, uh, you know, just as it was coming. I'm fortunate to have sat at a few tables where I heard the discussions about what were we going to do next? And I think people like our hospital system, our healthcare system, um, our opp, our, uh, you know, our BIS I think our chambers and ultimately our government has done a very good job working together as a team and looking for the best solutions, even little examples, like what we've done in Fergus and Elora to accommodate weekend shopping and to be able to pivot in the Fergus one, which was a really great move too. So I feel like we've done some very wise thinking.
I feel like we definitely have more to do. One of the things that I'm proud to do is to be a director on the first floor rotary club. And I work with a group of kids called interact. So we try and inspire them to help the community from a local and global perspective. And so I've had a chance to listen to two age groups within that as well. The old school members who have been around, you know, and who have founded and built, who built the very foundation of what rotary is in our community. And they bring great drinks things to the table, but this is completely new and deeply uncomfortable for them. Then we have our kids who are, you know, 15 years old and watching them try and navigate how they're supposed to get through that. They're complaining about the same thing or not complaining. That's not a good word.
Ryan Joyce: They adapt so easily to that technology. The harder part would probably be the face to face communication.
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: Well, interesting. You should say that. So years ago I did a study or I worked with and, and quoted a study that showed that children's preferred means of communication. This is like six or seven years ago. So it's intensified preferred means of communication is courses, you know, Instagram and Twitter, which is the real thing. Uh, WhatsApp is big. Tic talk is taking over, but so social was their main thing. Texting was the next thing phoning on the cell phone was the next thing and face to face was the last. So they don't seem to have the same urge that we do now fast forward to today, every team that I talked to, isn't interested in doing this, that can't wait to see each other, which is really great news.
Ryan Joyce: Yeah. It's interesting that it might force a change. This is very among everybody it's required. Let's just say the resistant generation to adapt for severe, and then it's forced yet. Or hopefully we'll have a surge of in-person bonding that has lacking from our, this January.
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: That's the human bonding that's missing. But I think if we, if we go back to the question you asked about how our community is doing, you know, when this all started, we heard scary numbers and don't quote me, but we heard numbers like 40% up to 40% of small businesses were at risk of not being able to survive beyond me. That was what we heard in like March and April. And I think we've done really well to keep those places alive and well, I think the hardest hit is yet to come from a financial perspective. I don't want to sound negative, but I feel like the real truth will come in the next year or two when we can actually figure out what the impact was. And we won't know until we get there, nobody has a crystal ball. Yeah.
Ryan Joyce: I'm also very proud of the way our communities speak. And they, I mean, there's undoubtedly the ramifications that we just don't know what the outcome is, is going to come. Like whatever's going to come is going to come. But I feel like the community has really helped and outreach and supported in every way they could. And, um,
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: And Sam, you said it very well. Whatever happens, our community will figure it out together because that's what we do so well. If anybody ever asked me to define our community, I would say that it's all rooted in giving onto one another. And I don't know that I could think of three examples where my community went against that theory. I can't think of, you know, when we went into lockdown, I was thinking, what about the businesses? Are they going to get looted and stole from, are we going to need security on our streets? Nothing. That's not who we are as a community. We keep our eyes out for one another. And we do what we can, the fundraising teams that I've sat on the work that I've done in this community, in volunteering. I live probably 60% of my, any given day is at some point in volunteerism. And that's because I believe it's up to each of us to do just that. And every single group that I sat with, every meeting that I was a part of was never about how do I save myself? It was, how do I make sure our community survives not just survives? How do I make sure my community thrive?
Ryan Joyce: Could you tell me a little bit about citizen of the year?
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: Wow. You caught that. Yeah. I've been very fortunate. I've been a actually I've been nominated almost every year for something which is really exciting. And, uh, I did win citizen of the year, years ago. That was a really huge, big deal for me. I had won that customer service of the year before that, and that was a big deal. But I think the citizen of the year award will go down as one of my favorite things, because it just, it just, you don't do what you do. I don't do what I do for the ACA for, for the accolades or the recognition. But when you think that your community actually recognize that you're, that you care and that you do something you live in service to them and their wellbeing. Yes. It was kind of a big deal for me. It was one of the biggest things in my life, to be honest, I'm actually, I'm seeing the awards of excellence awards this year.
Ryan Joyce: One of the things that you're looking forward to returning to,
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: It's not that I want to get back to anything. I want to start new things over again in new ways. I've already mentioned several times that I don't feel like we should be aiming to get back to, but what do I want to do again, in new and exciting ways would be back to hosting shows and hopefully creating a new one.
Ryan Joyce: And you have also author to your title as well. So tell me about, um, those accomplishments. Cause I'm kind of like, I want to be in the, in the closet author, I've got one book that I started that never finished
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: Writing was writing has been something I've done all my life. Um, I remember even when I was a kid in school, writing is the only thing, trust me, I failed typing. And if you watch me text today, you can definitely see that that's a reality that has stayed with me. Um, but other than that, maths and sciences were a real struggle for me, but writing, it was like, it came very naturally and I never had to work on it. So I always knew that I was going to write in some way. So I wrote, you know, I write everything that every time I deliver a seminar or a workshop, I've handwritten every single word, every moment with Barbara that you've ever heard on the air has been written by me. Everything that I post is just a really big thing writing, but I was raised or many years ago, I was a waitress.
First time I was a waitress in my early twenties and very super busy place. And we were taught by the owners that you weren't, we weren't allowed to use a pen and paper. There was no way. And we had to come up with like 20 or 30 items at a time. We'd go to the end. You were, you, you were hired because of the way you looked, but you were fired if you couldn't do the job. So it was, it was an odd way of doing things. Definitely misogynistic to look back in retrospect, but it was the truth. It was archers at the time. So, um, you basically were taught to memorize because I was strong in theater. It wasn't that big of a deal for me, but I watched a lot of very pretty girls come and go, let me tell ya. But, um, so we'd go take our order and you have to memorize it.
Then you'd get to the, to the bartender and you had to deliver it in an order right around vodka gin, and then the fancy drinks. So this was a part of the way I was taught. So I started to notice that when I rehearsed the lines, when I learned new songs, I was a singer for a lot of years. When I, whenever I needed to remember I something, I was developing this pattern that I would memorize it, use what I needed and then get rid of it. And in the getting rid of process, I discovered that only the really important stuff stayed with me. So it's like, when you remember a story, you might re a joke. You might remember bits of it, or you might remember the punchline, but you really only remember little bits of everything you learn. And I found that I could strengthen the filter, the filter as in what I needed to keep and what I needed to toss without much thought I would deliver it, loop, dump it, lose it, and then have all that empty space to do my next order.
And I started to find that when I was writing that way for the moment with Barbara is when it started to become really strong. I noticed that I was getting full. Like I didn't, I hadn't dumped enough of it. So I knew I needed to write a book. And that was part of my motivator because I knew it was something I needed to do in order for me to move forward in success. And that's the real trick of doing anything, right? It's they talk about it. If you're in any kind of a multilevel marketing, the first question they ask you is what's your why? So, I mean, it's a pretty straightforward question. Why are you doing this? And for me writing the book was cathartic. I needed to, I'd started to celebrate being a Victor over really deep abuse. I started to celebrate my place in my role in my community.
And how can I be of service to my, to the people who might be interested in what I have to say as well as to my own self. And that's when I knew I need to write a book and it was a long and difficult process with a lot of work, but there was no time in there when I said, I don't want to do this. And that's why it got done. Then about a year later, I wrote my second book, which was a children's book. And that children's book was actually written when I was in the throws of abuse, living in Dominican Republic. And it, it was, um, it was healing for me to be writing about this imaginary three horns unicorn that was struggling with being different because I felt so different. I had to hide and lie about the abuse I was living through. So they both had very real purposes. So agreeing with myself and my beautiful husband Dawn to help me do the work, to make this, it was more than, I just want to write a book and get it out there. Both of them had very real FAA zone, but they existed for
Ryan Joyce: Sometimes part of the healing process is teaching. That's really great. How can people purchase them?
Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy: Well, you can certainly contact me. I'm on all social media. I'm still working on redoing my website. So it's there and you can certainly reach me through there, but you're probably best to reach me through social Instagram as with underscore Barbara and Facebook is Barbara Lustgarten-Evoy and of course you can email Fergus educational services. Or my website is with barbara.ca. My, my forte is really about our relationship with everyone and everything around us. So that's our work. It's our relationship with our partners, with our families, with our friends, with our work and with our community. And, and how do we thread all of those things together and still be effective.
Barbara thank you so much. This was a really great conversation. I hope you'll come back and we'll continue again. I'll be there in the New York minute.