44 episodes

Taking Off The Mask is an experience of getting real. Providing young men and men a space to have real conversations about life, challenges, joys, heartbreak, dreams, failures, and whatever is ready to be revealed.

Taking Off The Mask Ashanti Branch

    • Health & Fitness
    • 4.7 • 11 Ratings

Taking Off The Mask is an experience of getting real. Providing young men and men a space to have real conversations about life, challenges, joys, heartbreak, dreams, failures, and whatever is ready to be revealed.

    E41. Free Our Own Minds - with Donté Clark, Poet

    E41. Free Our Own Minds - with Donté Clark, Poet

    Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Donté Clark. After watching and being moved by Donté’s poetry, Ashanti invited him on the podcast. What follows is a conversation about compassion, emancipation, and overcoming the “400-year head start” that the Black community has been up against for generations.

    (1:30) Ashanti’s introduction.

    (5:30) Donté introduces himself, his work, his interest, and his attitude as a lifelong learner.

    (7:20) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - funny, serious, hard-working, caring. Donté shares the front of his mask - smiling, positive, quiet, thoughtful, talking/singing to self.

    (9:45) Donté and Ashanti both smile frequently, and they reflect on their different reasons why.

    (14:40) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear of failure, sadness, brother’s mental health. He shares some deepening concerns about his brother, who has schizophrenia. This prompts a powerful memory in Donté, who recalls trying to help a man who appeared to be going through some tough times and was being confronted by people on the street.

    (26:03) Donté shares the back of his mask - tears, anger, a reader, thoughtful, goofy, playful, prayerful, meditative. He shares how he gets angry, and the tears it brings to his eyes when he reflects on the lack of compassion he sees in the community.

    (32:00) Ashanti shares how Donté’s poetry conjures up many thoughts about what needs to be done in our country and our communities. Donté emphasizes the work and organizing that need to be done, beyond just voting, to make up for the “400-year head start” that the Black community is up against.

    (45:55) Ashanti and Donté discuss the untapped potential inside of our youth, and the need to “emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”

    (59:30) Donté shares his current projects and where you can find him.

    ---

    Connect with Donté Clark:

    Instagram: instagram.com/donblak

    Facebook: facebook.com/josiah.james.1257

    Purchase Donté’s Book, “Close Caskets”: bit.ly/3cu8YBP

    ---

    Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com

    If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com

    ---

    Connect with Ashanti Branch:

    Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks

    Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks

    Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks

    LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch

    Website: branchspeaks.com

    ---

    Send in a voice message:

    anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message

    ---

    Connect with Ever Forward Club:

    Instagram: instagram.com/everforward

    Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub

    Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub

    LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club

    • 1 hr 4 min
    E40. Planting the Seeds of Success - with Victor Manuel de la Mora Patiño, Architect Designer and Construction Coordinator

    E40. Planting the Seeds of Success - with Victor Manuel de la Mora Patiño, Architect Designer and Construction Coordinator

    Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Victor Manuel de la Mora Patiño. Victor is an alumni of the Ever Forward Club, and, in addition to sharing their masks and reflecting on old times, Victor fills Ashanti with immense pride as he tells Ashanti how he is applying the mentoring principles he has learned from the Ever Forward Club. As the CEO of his own architecture firm, Victor uses his experience with the Ever Forward Club to mentor the next generation of young people in Mexico.

    (1:36) Ashanti’s introduction.

    (5:35) Victor introduces himself, his profession, his interests, what it was like having Ashanti as a teacher.

    (11:25) Victor shares what it’s like being a father - what he loves about fatherhood, how technology sucks children into devices that curb their imagination, and what it means to break free from the “chains” that may exist from the experiences and habits of prior generations.

    (16:50) Victor shares the front of his mask - friendly, responsible, confident. Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, funny, hard working.

    (20:52) Victor shares the back of his mask - scared to fail, anxiety, depression. He explains how having a child, and separating with the mother of the child, has affected what’s on the back of his mask.

    (27:10) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear of failure, sadness, trauma. Ashanti and Victor discuss how the back of the mask impacted Ashanti’s teaching, and how Ashanti applied pressure to members of the Ever Forward Club. Victor shares how this shifted his perspective on what defines success.

    (38:15) Victor compares the masculinity in the United States with the “machismo” of Mexico, and he tells a story about a young man he is mentoring on his construction site.

    (44:15) Ashanti and Victor continue discussing how planting seeds in a young person’s mind can lead to change down the road. Victor tells Ashanti how he helped his cousin get out of a life involved with gangs and drugs. Ashanti shares how he feels the same way about the college trips to LA that he would organize for students.

    (49:30) Victor shares some last words for the listeners, and how you can follow him.

    ---

    Connect with Victor de la Mora:

    Instagram: instagram.com/morarq_

    Instagram: .instagram.com/vmdelamora

    ---

    Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com

    If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com

    ---

    Connect with Ashanti Branch:

    Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks

    Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks

    Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks

    LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch

    ---

    Send in a voice message:

    anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message

    ---

    Connect with Ever Forward Club:

    Instagram: instagram.com/everforward

    Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub

    Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub

    LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club

    • 57 min
    E39. Try Everything and Pray for the Best - with Leo L., High School Student & Gaming Enthusiast

    E39. Try Everything and Pray for the Best - with Leo L., High School Student & Gaming Enthusiast

    Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Leo L., a high school sophomore living in San Francisco, CA. In his first podcast appearance, Leo shares what it is like being an introvert - specifically an introvert that has adopted a "no regrets" philosophy. Ultimately, Leo's courage, to have such a public and vulnerable discussion with Ashanti, leads to a heartwarming discussion about self-discovery.

    (1:02) Ashanti’s introduction

    (4:20) Leo introduces himself, his origins, his interests, and his love of gaming. Ashanti shares how he and Leo connected.

    (7:15) Ashanti and Leo make their masks together, while recalling prior meetings even before Leo’s high school experience.

    (14:30) Ashanti shares the front of his mask - caring, serious, hard working.

    (15:40) Leo shares the front of his mask - confident, trying not to be introverted, caring.

    (18:50) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear of failure, not a good writer, sadness about death. Leo shares how he associates anger with failure, as opposed to fear. He shares what gaming has taught him about failure and his overall attitude towards life.

    (20:55) Leo shares the back of his mask - observant, uncertain-ish, trying. He describes situations in which he observes and knows more than he lets on, and how it’s hard for him to speak up about these observations.

    (30:45) Leo reflects on how reaching out for emotional help is difficult, but ultimately worth the discomfort.

    (34:00) Leo and Ashanti look back on the middle school workshop that Leo first attended. They discuss how powerful it is to see another side of a peer you have known for so long, and how it gives everyone permission to share what they may have been hiding.

    (38:15) Leo and Ashanti tap into Ashanti’s past as a math teacher. They discuss Leo’s future, the new things that Leo has been trying, and the comfort zones he has been pushing.

    (51:00) Leo gives his final message to the listeners.

    ---

    Connect with Leo:

    Instagram: instagram.com/jus_un_croissant

    ---

    Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com

    If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com

    ---

    Connect with Ashanti Branch:

    Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks

    Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks

    Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks

    LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch

    ---

    Send in a voice message:

    anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message

    ---

    Connect with Ever Forward Club:

    Instagram: instagram.com/everforward

    Facebook: facebook.com/everforwardclub

    Twitter: twitter.com/everforwardclub

    LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-ever-forward-club

    • 55 min
    E38. The Next Generation of Activism - with Denel McMahan, Dublin High School BSU President

    E38. The Next Generation of Activism - with Denel McMahan, Dublin High School BSU President

    Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Denel McMahan. Denel is a high school senior - on the brink of graduation! Though he has yet to receive his diploma (something that will happen in mere days), Denel has already co-founded an alumni association, begun interning for Congressman Eric Swalwell, protested for Black Lives Matter, and coordinated with the local city council to put on social justice-oriented events in the Tri-Valley area. Ashanti and Denel discuss the front and back of their masks, and what Denel sees in his generation of future leaders.

    ---

    (2:00) Ashanti's introduction.

    (4:56) Denel introduces himself, his work and accomplishments in the Tri-Valley community, his affiliation with Tri-Valley Black Lives, upcoming senior graduation, and how he and Ashanti know each other.

    (9:04) Ashanti and Denel make their masks together.

    (12:13) Denel shares how he has changed during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

    (15:07) Denel shares the front of his mask - reserved, go with the flow, hard-working. Ashanti shares the front of his mask - caring, smart, hard-working.

    (19:10) Denel shares the back of his mask - opinionated, struggle with confidence, passionate, humorous. He reflects on how he hides the strong, opinionated parts of himself, in order to maintain a “go with the flow” exterior.

    (21:48) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear of failure, sadness about death, uncertainty. He opens up about the uncertainty that comes with chasing a big dream, and how he has a tendency to avoid coming face to face with death, whenever it has affected his family and friends.

    (27:38) Denel shares what he is seeing in the emotional health of his generation, especially as a Black man, and especially in the younger men at Dublin High School. They discuss why it is hard for people to show up for themselves emotionally.

    (34:00) Denel tells Ashanti how he was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and how it has helped him improve the Black Student Union at his school and form an alumni network.

    (39:39) Ashanti gives Denel a breakdown of the Ever Forward Club’s history, how it has established a global reach, and his aspirations to bring young men in the club to experiences and locations they’ve never seen before.

    (47:25) Denel gives some words of wisdom to younger peers and shares how his parents help him push his comfort zone.

    (50:17) After gaining notoriety from his activism, Denel has also experienced being targeted on social media. He opens up about the experience, and how it gives him more conviction and a desire to maintain consistency when standing up for social justice.

    ---

    Connect with Denel McMahan

    Instagram: instagram.com/dmcmahan_15

    Instagram: instagram.com/dublinhsbsu

    NBC News Segment used in this episode: nbcbayarea.com/news/local/dublin-man-apologizes-to-teen-after-threatening-social-media-post/2395833/

    ---

    Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com

    If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com

    ---

    Connect with Ashanti Branch:

    Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks

    Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks

    Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks

    LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch

    • 59 min
    E37. The Little Characters Inside Our Heads - with Niroj Bhandari, Health Researcher, Entrepreneur, Doctor

    E37. The Little Characters Inside Our Heads - with Niroj Bhandari, Health Researcher, Entrepreneur, Doctor

    Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Niroj Bhandari. Niroj is based in Nepal, and his non-profit work focuses on strengthening access to health for low and middle income countries. Ashanti and Niroj discuss “gloominess”, providing structures to express and discuss negative emotions healthily, and how accurate the movie Inside Out really is.

    (00:57) Ashanti's introduction.

    (5:40) Niroj introduces himself and how he and Ashanti know each other, and Ashanti congratulates Niroj for completing medical school.

    (9:57) Ashanti and Niroj make their masks together.

    (13:42) Niroj shares the front of his mask - peaceful, smart, authentic. Ashanti shares the front of his mask - serious, funny, hard working, (caring).

    (17:00) Niroj shares the back of his mask - anxious, nervous, gloomy. Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear of failure, worry, sadness about death.

    (18:07) They examine the worries Ashanti has, since many big events are coming up with Ever Forward; the tendency for Niroj to make gloominess his natural state of mind; and Niroj and Ashanti’s experiences being bullied.

    (33:45) Niroj shares what it’s like to spend time with friends that emote happiness much more than him. It leads into a discussion on how to deal with negative emotions healthily, how it is important to provide structures for these emotions, and the accuracy of the film Inside Out.

    (41:40) Niroj and Ashanti relate over the idea that there are multiple characters, personalities, or even people within them; they discuss how it is difficult to share this and other sentiments with everyone; and they continue discussing Inside Out.

    (48:00) Niroj shares some final thoughts about the different components, or personalities, within us, and how life experiences impact these different components. They also discuss the trends that Niroj sees in Nepali men’s ideas of masculinity.

    (52:45) Ashanti and Niroj discuss the patterns of behavior and emotional projections that get passed down between generations - and how Niroj wants to break these patterns.

    (57:25) Niroj shares what’s next - his work with tech service, nonprofit work in the health field, and future practicing medicine.

    ---

    Connect with Niroj Bhandari:

    Instagram: instagram.com/_nirojbhandari_/

    Twitter: twitter.com/BhandariNiroj

    LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/bniroj

    ---

    Check out Ever Forward Club: The Adventure Card Game at indiegogo.com/projects/ever-forward-club-the-adventure-card-game#

    ---

    Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com

    If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com

    ---

    Connect with Ashanti Branch:

    Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks

    Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks

    Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks

    LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch

    ---

    Send in a voice message:

    anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message

    • 1 hr
    E36. Joe Hawley - on Fear, Leadership, and Life after the NFL

    E36. Joe Hawley - on Fear, Leadership, and Life after the NFL

    Ever Forward Club’s Ashanti Branch is joined by Joe Hawley. Joe is determined to help professional athletes find their purpose after leaving the game that they love. After 8 seasons in the NFL, Joe retired in 2017, donated his belongings, bought a van, and traveled the US for nearly two years. Ashanti and Joe discuss what’s on the back of Joe’s mask; what Joe learned on the road; the importance of trust, courage and boundaries; and why fear is a guiding post to freedom.

    (1:44) Ashanti’s introduction.

    (6:00) Joe shares his background as a former NFL player, who made the transition away from the game, lived on the road for 2 years, and found purpose in The Härt Collective, which helps former athletes find purpose.

    (10:40) Ashanti and Joe discuss the difference between “doing” and “being”, and find similarities in their work. Ashanti also shares his newest mask, inspired by luchador Mil Máscaras, and shares what masks mean to him.

    (18:40) Ashanti and Joe share the fronts of their masks. Ashanti - hard working, caring, funny, serious. Joe - happy, calm, funny.

    (21:45) Ashanti shares the back of his mask - fear, sadness, trauma. He reflects on his multiple fears, and how he seeks to chip away at these fears day by day. Joe encourages Ashanti to use fear as a guiding post, since on the other side of fear is freedom.

    (25:38) Joe shares the back of his mask - overwhelmed, questioning if I’m capable, tired of having to prove myself. Then, they discuss why it is important to push their comfort zones and trust the bigger purpose, while fighting the feeling that “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

    (30:45) Joe and Ashanti then discuss what it is like leading their respective organizations - the fears they are overcoming, how they are learning to ask for help and empower people, how they have learned to set boundaries, and the complicated intersection of life and work.

    (44:20) Joe shares where you can get in touch with him.

    ---

    Connect with Joe Hawley:

    Instagram: instagram.com/joe.hawley

    LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/joe-hawley

    Website: joe-hawley.com

    Website: thehartcollective.com

    YouTube: youtube.com/c/JoeHawley68

    Clubhouse: joinclubhouse.com/@joe.hawley

    ---

    Check out Ever Forward Club: The Adventure Card Game at indiegogo.com/projects/ever-forward-club-the-adventure-card-game#

    ---

    Create your own mask anonymously at www.100kmasks.com

    If you are interested in being on the Face to Face podcast, email us at everforwardclub@gmail.com

    ---

    Connect with Ashanti Branch:

    Instagram: instagram.com/branchspeaks

    Facebook: facebook.com/BranchSpeaks

    Twitter: twitter.com/BranchSpeaks

    LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashantibranch

    ---

    Send in a voice message:

    anchor.fm/branch-speaks/message

    • 48 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
11 Ratings

11 Ratings

RSpencerA ,

We need more of this

Taking Off the Mask is a powerful look into how we can heal ourselves just by naming and claiming the parts we hide from others. Host Ashanti Branch is sincere, earnest, and deeply present during these conversations. It’s like sitting around the coffee table with a great friend, getting real about topics we should all talk more about.

DJ adamah ,

Real conversations, raw emotions, powerful takeaways

We all know that vulnerability is at the root of true leadership and strength. But it can be hard to “take off the mask” and reveal the parts of ourselves that we typically hide. Ashanti is a master at getting men to drop the armor we use to protect ourselves, and in the process, uncovers beautiful learnings about what it means to be real, to live iwth full aliveness, and to let go of the unnecessary baggage we haul around in our lives. I highly recommend this podcast for anyone who wants to bring more depth into their relationships with other men, and learn about what it means to live and lead with nothing to hide.

Top Podcasts In Health & Fitness