Being Badass w/ Madison White
Speaker 2: (Singing).
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Hello. This is Rebecca Fleetwood Hession, host of the Badass Women's Council Podcast. And I'm super glad that you're here. Today, on the show, we have Madison White, who I found on TikTok, where all weirdness and greatness and stories reside. Welcome, Madison. It's good to have you.
Madison White: Thank you, so much, for having me. I'm really excited. I'm a little nervous. But I'm excited to do this.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: This. It's going to be fun. I promise. So here's what I love and why I reached out to you, Madison. You started a movement called If Found, Please Read. And you wrote your story in a journal, one day, and decided to then copy that same story, your story, and leave it in public places for people to find your story, and then be inspired to write their story, and respond back to you. And everything that I care about in the world is rooted in story. So the minute that I saw this, I was like, " Oh my gosh! I have to talk to her." And, before I jump and get all kinds of greatness from you, there was a few more things on your website that I just think are profound in your work, and my work, and how they cross over, is that, yes, it's rooted in story, but story meant for connection. And the deepest human need that we have is to be seen, heard, and known. So your project is fueling connection in this beautiful way. And one of the things that you said on your website is, " I wanted to feel like I mattered, and I wanted others to feel like they mattered, too." And I think this is a perfect illustration of what can happen if you just follow your nudge, and follow your heart, and just do the damn thing. Then, when people started saying, " Well, what's the purpose of this?" And this is our industrial age model of work that is just hammered in all of us. Your immediate questioning yourself was, " Well, should this make money? Should I charge for it?" And purpose does not have to be financial. I want to start the age of humanity. And what you said is, " The purpose is to turn the streets of our cities into a giant public library of humanity." Holy shit! I am here for that!
Madison White: So what's funny is the whole idea started. And it wasn't really to get other people to share their stories, initially. But when-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Ohhh.
Madison White: ... No, I just putthe book out. And it was handwritten, from cover to cover. And I honestly got a little tipsy when I was writing it, and just didn't hold anything back. And I didn't have a purpose of where the story was going, or what I was writing about. And then I just put my name, address, and phone number, and email and said, " Do with this what you will." That part of the project, too, is so interesting to me because there's no rules, and there's no expectation. And somebody can find it and be like, " This person's a nut bag." And then somebody else can find it and be like, " Oh, my gosh. I relate to this, this, this." And then somebody else finds it and just leaves it, going, " I don't want to read somebody's stuff." Me not knowing where this is going to go is, kind of, the coolest part. And it definitely has evolved now, because I have had such a positive experience with it, and really incredible interactions with people through this, that I would encourage people to share their stories. But people could also do it anonymously. To me, just the writing was therapeutic. Honestly, I kind of, worked some stuff out that I was like, " Wow, I didn't realize I'd held on to that. I must have a underlying issue there." And I write a lot, now. I'm not a writer. I never to be. I think that's always why because-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, you are, because you write. Here's another thing. You won't call yourself a writer because you haven't quote/ unquote, " been paid to do it."
Madison White: Yeah.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And that's, again, our industrial age model. I didn't call myself a writer for a long time. I've been writing since I was a child. We've all been writing. And we take these creative roles, and we want to squash them down unless we're being paid for them. And I want to stop that. I think what it's... The-
Madison White: It's true.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: The value that you've derived from it is better than any paycheck, in a lot of ways.
Madison White: I completely agree with that. And we talked about this a second before we jumped on. It's never been about me making money. And that's what hard, when people come in and they're like, "What are you trying to do with this?" And I'm like, " Literally, just get people to share their story. That's it. I don't need it to be more than that." A lot of what I'm doing, right now, I'm kind of pumping... Any money I get in from the sale of books, I'm just putting it right back in and giving books away to people that might not-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: So it's a self- funded project, in that way. So that, in and of itself, is better than some non- profits that exist in the world. And what you said was, " You know, I got a little tipsy, and I just let it all flow." The message there, that is so profound, is that, when we just allow ourselves to be our complete, authentic, free self, that is what connects people. And one of the responses you got, I saw on the website. He actually stated, " I loved how authentic and genuine," or something like that. " I loved how emotional it was." He said, " I loved the emotion that you put into it." And our day- to- day work, even if you go to work in Corporate America, if we temper back our emotions and our authenticity, we don't connect with people like we-
Madison White: Right. Completely agree. That is the part... And that's why, when I did want to finance another round, out on the road, and people were telling me to change it, they told me that I have to hire a ghost writer. And they told me that I have to put it in a different journal, and all of this stuff. And listen, I was embarrassed with what I wrote, even when I... As I'm copying it over 50 times, I'm like, "Oh my gosh. Why did I say that?" But I made a rule to myself that, that was... I was writing with no purpose. And, actually, I've struggled a little bit, on this timeout because, now, I do have a purpose. And that's to spread the idea bigger and get people to do it. And I feel like I wasn't being as honest, or being as forthcoming, or that there was a little bit more of restraint or a holdback that I had. So that part of it was crucial, because I think everyone that found it... What I thought was fascinating was, each person connected to a different part of what I was writing about, whether it was heartbreak, or whether it was my family member's struggle with addiction, or this or that, people related to one part. And every time, within a very few sentences, or e- mail exchange, or them calling me, I got out of them like, " Wow. That part really hit me," and, " I went through this." And that's when they would open up. The first, maybe, five times someone found it, it was truly magic. I was chills head to toe, jumping up and down. Yeah, I was just... I couldn't believe, first of all, someone listened to my rambling and babbling on in a book, and then that they would open up and be so... with a complete stranger. It's funny. I do this thing. I work in Charlotte. And, sometimes, I'll walk down the street. And, one morning, I just said, " Good morning," to a couple of people. And I ended up, the entire way to work... And I think it was like five blocks. I said, " Hello," to every single person I walked by. And I couldn't even believe people were taken aback, and they were surprised by it. Or they were like, " Oh, hi. Good morning." And one guy gave me a high- five. He was, "Good morning." And I'm like, " If you just open yourself up to people, they really are looking for that connection.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: We're craving it.
Madison White: Yes.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Especially now, I think it's more important than ever. It's funny you say that, because I do the same thing. And I have trails that I run or walk. And I feel like my job is to smile and spread joy on the trail. And it always makes me feel better, too-
Madison White: That's what I was going to say. It makes me feel so... I was walking on a cloud, going, " This is amazing."
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Then, some people are like, " Bitch, please. What's wrong with you?" But others, like you said, there's this probably 90- year- old man that I love, when I encounter him because he evokes joy. And I can't wait. When I see him coming, I'm like, " Oh, yeah. Here he comes. I love him." So-
Madison White: Aw. I love that.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ...the connection is the piece that am so in love with your story. And I think it's so hysterically ironic and sad that someone actually said to you, " I think you need a ghost writer."
Madison White: Multiple, multiple people.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: What? Wait. Okay, so you're going to hire someone to tell your story to... What? ... fancy it up?
Madison White: Yep.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh, hell no. And that is-
Madison White: Oh, listen. If I was looking to publish that book, totally get it.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That's not the point.
Madison White: And if I'm looking to have a book on the Best Sellers List, I'd hire someone away. I'm going to ramble my way right into people not being able to read it. But, for what I was doing... And, then, someone else said that I couldn't hand write it. I had to type it. And I was like, " You do realize that won't work. It has to be handwritten, and genuine, and my voice. Otherwise, it won't work." So...
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Okay, pause. It has to be handwritten, genuine, and my voice or else it won't work. You have just stated the biggest human lesson on the planet. And, for leaders everywhere, we have a lot of high- achieving career women that listen to this podcast. That's the deal. It has to be you. It has to be your voice. It has to be authentic, or people won't connect and trust you. And-
Madison White: I agree.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And your project is just showcasing that in such a big, bold, beautiful way. And I love that. It transformed you a bit too. Actually, it transformed you not only in writing it. But the experience has completely changed your life. Tell us-
Madison White: inaudible.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ...a little bit... Yeah.
Madison White: It absolutely-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Tell us about that. I love that.
Madison White: ... shapes thecrosstalk life. And this is so crazy because it's kind of a long story. But I think the biggest thing is two weeks before the trip. And I was generally, kind of, a free spirit. I love people. I worked in restaurants forever. So I really do like that interaction. I had gone to a show, up on Sunset. And it was a musician that we acquaintances through the years, or whatever. But we ended up talking after the show. And he was asking, " What are you doing? What's going on with this project?" And I was like, " I'm going on this self- proclaimed book tour. And I'm-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: You're in L.A. at the time. Right?
Madison White: I was, yeah.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That was acting, mostly waitressing-
Madison White: Yeah, exactly.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Doing the thing. Okay. Keep the inaudible.
Madison White: So, I got so excited, and I was just like, " You know, I'm getting on a bus, and I'm going to drive across the country and leave these books and," blah blah blah. And he, kind of, looked at me like, " You're insane." But also he started talking about that he really lost the connection with music and, kind of the way somebody told me to get a ghostwriter, he would take these label meetings. And they'd be like, " This is going to be your single, and you have to release this," and blah blah blah. And it was way more structure than he was used to building his fan base. So he's like, " I don't know why I want to do this anymore." So, by the end of the conversation, I said this in my video, and I don't mean to curse. But he said, " Fuck it. I'm in." And I was kind of like, " You're what?" For like a second. And I was like, " Great. Really? You'll do this?" And he was like, " I have a car. I'll drive. Let's just get in the car and go and see how far it takes us. And I'll play little coffee shops." He played a show for about 10 homeless people, when we went up to Canada, in this huge park. And it was like... And that's what it was. So, through the book-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Make me cry.
Madison White: ...crosstalk. It was amazing. Through the book, I kind of, found myself. And then, through the experiences on the road, just meeting people on the road. And then, there was... Actually I was writing about this not too long ago. There was a man... Because I was writing 50 books. And, all along the road, I was writing. I went to breakfast, and I'm copying this all down. And it was this older gentleman. And he just started to ask me like, " What are you... Nobody writes anymore. What are you working on?" So I told him all about it. He ended up picking up my breakfast which, in the scheme of things, is such a sweet gesture. I don't think you understand. I had$2, 000 for that entire trip. We were sleeping in Wal Mart parking lots, in the back of a car, pitching a tent, on the cement. Him buying me that breakfast meant so much more than this man can ever know. And his name is John, and I hope that, one day, our paths cross again, because I never got his information. But that's what it became about. It became about those experiences on the road. And, of course, me and this musician, who I didn't know from a hole in the wall, ended up falling in love. It was the most romantic things you could possibly have happen. We had a little AM/ FM radio. And we were on the mountainside, in... I can't remember. Montana, or something. And it was snowing outside, and the windows were fogging up, and we were just talking and laughing. And it was like this is like romance movies.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I was going to say, somebody needs to pick this up for, for rom com. I mean, my gosh. And the thing I want to highlight that you said, as well, is that he said, " Fuck it. I'm in," because, one, he was also feeling disenchanted with his own life. But I believe that, in studies, science will say that, " Fuck it. I'm in," comes from your excitement about the trip, not his pain and disappointment about his life. It just so happens that it married there. But, if you want to engage people, whether it's leading teams at work, or your family at home, or wherever you are, the way you engage people is to get excited about your own life. Then people want to be a part of it.
Madison White: It's so interesting you're saying this, because I'm at a like, kind of crossroads, I guess you'd call it right now. So I'm the VP of Operations for a $ 30 Million company. And I worked really hard, like insanely hard-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Talk about a trajectory of a story. It's like, " Oh wait. Hold, please." Okay, keep going.
Madison White: Well that's thing. Sometimes I'm this version of myself that wrote this book, and that's why I think so... I don't think we told everybody this. But I left yesterday, on a seven- day trip. I'm going across country. I'm driving. I'm doing the same thing this time. I'm just putting out journals for people to fill out, themselves. I only write like maybe four or five pages, because that's all I could do. So I'm going on this trip and I'm kind of going back to that person I was 10 years ago, when I started this, and that free- spirited, carefree... And, when we stopped... I'd been on the road one day. We saw chickens and calves and all this stuff at a roadside country kitchen café. Then I'm doing that whole thing, where you just experience things on the road. But, also, when I go back to work, sometimes, because of my position and my title, I don't get to feed that part of my soul. I have to be in charge of people, and I have to make decisions, and I have to hold people accountable of the things. And what you just said about telling people things with excitement is so effective in leadership. And, actually, you just kind of, reminded me that. And I think, this trip... I think I'm going to go back, and I'm going to lead differently, a little bit. I think I will.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That makes me so happy. And you just... I wrote a book called, Write Your Own Story: Three Keys to Rise and Thrive as a Badass Career Woman. And it just launched. And, One of the key elements I talk about is knowing yourself, and knowing yourself from a heart-and-soul perspective, and this concept of soul food. What you feed grows. It's nature. So, if we don't feed our own souls, based on who we are and what we need, you dwindle and die. We don't expect our jobs, or others-
Madison White: I'm like getting chills as you say this.
Madison White: You are
Madison White: inaudible to me, right now.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And that's what you're doing. You said, "Okay." You're probably feeling a little burnt out. If you've got a job day because that's part the deal. And, being in that level or leadership. It gets lonely. It gets frustrating. And you didn't say, "I'm going to take a bubble-bath and pour Chardonnay." You said, "Fuck it. I'm in." And you loaded up the car, and you said, "I'm going to cross the country and go back to what I know fills my soul up," which is your gypsy spirit. And I'm here for it. That's badass. That's the stuff, girlfriend. And I bet that's true. I bet you will go back a different leader, because your soul will be filled back up.
Madison White: Yeah. And the same thing. I'm a mom. I have a five- year- old and an eight- year- old, and a wife. And all of those things that you get when you're wrapped up in the stress and the rush of everything. And I travel a lot for my job, too. So that puts a whole different stress factor on family, and everything. And I'm going to go back a better mom. I'm going to go back a better wife. I needed this. And I did feel a lot of guilt. My husband told me I could do this for Mother's Day. And I was like, " Oh, that's a long time." And I just... And I felt a lot of guilt of like, " Should moms check out from being a mom for a week? That's kind of, messed up."
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Absolutely inaudible.
Madison White: "Should I even want that?" But I'm so glad. I'm so glad I did it. And-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And this musician guy, that we're talking about, which is-
Madison White: Yeah, yeah. And he-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ... the husband, thefather of the babies. Like it's a true love story of y'all are still together.
Madison White: Yeah. And we went through it. I mean, it has not been easy. So, after we finished the book tours that we did, and then we came back to L. A., we had fallen in love with so many different cities. So we ended up moving to Austin. We were just both over L. A., at that point. We had such amazing experiences on the road. So we moved there. And, gosh, I think I was there about nine months. And then I got pregnant. And, the entire time, I was a relationship phobe. I was... Like I didn't commit, and any of that stuff. So, getting pregnant, now starting a life, and all of that seemed very out of my wheel house. So we had to, really quickly, turn it around and become adults, and figure stuff out. And, again, we talk about feeding your soul. I did lose a good piece of myself, right there, because I went from this wild child, free- living, driving across the country on a whim, to, " Okay, we have to get jobs. And I have a human to raise."
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Do nap time. Is it a certain time every day?
Madison White: Yeah. Yeah. And I also wasn't working. And I've worked since I was 14 years old. And I was a stay- at- home mom for the first three years. And that was really tough for me.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, because your value relevance comes from a different place. And it's hard to shift that. It's so funny. Our stories... And this happens. You hear this from the people that respond to you, how many similarities there are in peoples' stories, even living vastly different lives.
Madison White: I'm inaudible love hearing the story.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah, because, when I had my first child, I'd been a... I ran away from home, too. We'll talk about that another day. And my life started with just adventure and curiosity. Then I landed in this corporate role. Then, all of a sudden, I'm going to be a mom. And there was like bets, in the office, about whether I was going to hack it as a mom, because nobody could picture me as a mom. They could only see me as the corporate leader that had been successful in this job. So there was like an over- and- under betting poll about whether I was going to make it or not, because nobody could see that shift, just like you couldn't see that shift in you either. But we figured it out. You know?
Madison White: Yeah, yeah.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: You figure it out.
Madison White: Exactly.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: So your kids are five and eight now. You're in this corporate role.
Madison White: Not really corporate. So I work for a restaurant group. And I oversee five restaurants right now. We're opening six Q4. And then... Maybe a little later than that. Then, we have one opening in Denver. So we're expanding rapidly, coming out of COVID. There's been a lot just with that job, in and of itself. And I've learned a tremendous amount, because I didn't come from that. I came from... Honestly, I was a server for them, four years ago, and worked my way up.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I was just going to say, I bet you are going to tell me a story where you went from server to vice- president, which-
Madison White: Yeah. Yeah.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I love these stories because you're still using your gifts and talents. You understand what it means to be a great server because you've done the job, and you still have that gypsy spirit at play because you're opening restaurants in different parts of the country. Right? So I'm guessing you-
Madison White: Yeah.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ...get to go explore different areas and say, " Is this going to make it or not?" So it's amazing when we give ourselves the opportunity to reflect. There's a lot of our story in the patterns that follow through with it that we can see how we got to where we are, if we really look at it.
Madison White: Yeah.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Especially when it's not the traditional route. Right?
Madison White: Right.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: The, " I went to school. I did this. I got a..." I didn't do any of that either. So, it's fun for me to see the pattern that plays out in peoples' lives.
Madison White: What's funny about that is that's kind of our whole company is made up of people like that. It's a company that really does give opportunity to people that have kind of been looked over, or they find it in you and they give you these huge responsibilities before you're traditionally trained or anything like that, and let you really grow. Oh, sorry. There's a kid in the hallway. They let you grow into the role. And that's exactly how this happened. I really didn't fall into it. But there's an element of me falling into things that, also, I truly, truly believe that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. I got this job serving because of a friend of mine that lived in L. A. that had worked for this company, across the country in South Carolina. She worked there, years before. And I hadn't even unpacked my U- Haul before I win an interview with them for a job. And now I look at it, five years later, and what it's turned into. And I'm like, there was a reason it was this company. They took me under their wing, and they developed me into this ultimately what I think I am, what I think my role should be.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh my gosh, I love when this happens, because we had no idea where this conversation was going to go. We just met 23 minutes ago. But I created this program for this experience, not really a program, for this summer, called Your Best Summer Ever. And it's for career, women to recapture the freedom of childhood summer, because I believe that, when you live with that free spirit, the right things do come to you. And what happens to us, when we let work rule our lives, we go into this sense of controlling everything and the business does need to control, measure, and optimize. There's sales that need to be had. There's expenses that need to be managed. That is a part of the deal. But our human lives are personal, emotional, and social. And, when we leave ourselves open to possibilities of things to find us, and when we just become part of that energy of interacting and smiling and saying good morning to people, as we walk, it's amazing what will find us without us even looking.
Madison White: I totally agree. And I think that like- minded people kind of all come together, like the same thing with my husband. You know, there's a reason that we were there, that night. And we had that conversation. I told him what I was doing, and he went on this trip. Like, the same thing with my job, I feel like a lot of my coworkers, and certainly ownership in my company, we're like- minded. We're not the same, by any means, but like- minded. And then they just attract in these pockets of my life.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Absolutely. I'm deep into studying, really, the neuroscience of that. People that listen to the podcast know that I'm not afraid to talk about my faith. And I think that's a huge... God created all of this energy and stuff. But that whole idea of the energy field, and like attract like, and being open to that is the real thing. You can argue if you want, but it's freaking science.
Madison White: I also feel like I'm sitting here talking to you in the same thing you know, like that. You had only reached out to me on TikTok and I've...
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And I was not crosstalk. I was not looking for... I was not like, " Oh, I'm going to open TikTok today and look for a podcast guest." I was doing what anybody does when they're on TikTok. I was not doing the other stuff that I'm supposed to be doing, and taking a break. And, as I'm scrolling through, it just hit me. And I looked at your stuff. I was like, " Oh," and I didn't even hesitate. I hadn't even looked at your website, yet. I just messaged you. I went to message you. And I just said, " Hey, you want to be on the show?" Because I just knew.
Madison White: I love that.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: You just know.
Madison White: I love that. Yeah. Yeah.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Absolutely. So you're headed out. You've got a week, and you're just going to see what cities come up next. And so you're just-
Madison White: Yeah. So, every morning-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ... droppingoff journals. Right?
Madison White: Yeah. So every morning I kind of wake up, and I have a couple different routes in mind. There was a couple cities that I was like, "I really want to hit this," especially since the kind of weather this time of year, I wanted to go north, more northern. But there's no set plan. You know what I did yesterday. Actually, I said yesterday was going to be like a nine- and- a- half- hour day. I had to make it from Charleston to Bowling Green, Kentucky. And I stupidly booked the hotel, which I didn't book anything this entire trip. But, midway through the day, I booked a hotel. Then, we kept going on all these... I call them fun stops, but these little excursions. And... Dude, I went to Greenville, South Carolina. And that place was amazing. Then we went to Asheville, and I was like, " I could stay in-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh, my God. I love Asheville. I just spent four days in Asheville. Oh!.
Madison White: I could have spent four days. It was amazing. And so I kept getting sidetracked. It ended up being like a 15, 15- and- a- half- hour day. And I got back to the hotel and I was like, " Okay, I'm dead. And so we're not going to do that again." So that's what I like about it. It's just kind of wake up in the morning and be like, " How far does this take me?" Listen. Worse case scenario, my idea is to get all the way back to L.A., because I really want to put a book where I started this, in the little Newsstand Café. But, if I don't make it, I don't make it. I don't want to have any time constraints, or anything stopping me from doing these little side ventures.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I love that, on day one, you learned that lesson. You went back to your old work life and said-
Madison White: Yes.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ... "Oh,I should probably have a reservation. I should..."
Madison White: Right!
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That's not how this started.
Madison White: Yes. It's true. That's totally true. Actually what's funny is, the first round out, my husband had booked little trips, because he had toured the country. And he booked little coffee shops and little places all along the road. So there would be times that he was like, " No, no. We have to go."
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Ohhh. But he just-
Madison White: He always got crosstalk
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: He had a gig somewhere. Yeah.
Madison White: Yeah. But he drove that entire trip. So he would like, no problem, do 17- hour days. He still, to this day, is addicted to energy drinks because of how many he drank on the tour, I'm convinced.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: My son is a songwriter and a musician. And he's headed out, this fall, on a road trip with his buddy. And they're going to do just open mic nights across the country. And he works at Guitar Center. So they're going to try to get to LA Guitar Center, where they've got a buddy that works in that location. So I'm so excited.
Madison White: If he makes it in Charleston... Musicians usually never do, because it's off of the tour beat. But, if he does, we own a music school and recording studio. So tell him to swing by.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh my gosh. I will. See. There you go, another connection.
Madison White: Exactly.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Absolutely. What do you... What are you most excited about the trip? So you would like to get back to L. A. What are some other inspiring aspirations that you have for your journey?
Madison White: Well, I can't wait until people start finding these journals. So, like I said, I only wrote like four or five pages. But I'll never forget. Like I forget... I mean, I remember where I was standing, what I was doing, the people that were around me when I found that very first journal, or when they found it and got in touch with me. So that's what I can't wait for. I can't wait for that moment. Oh, yesterday, we actually... So we did put one in Asheville, in this amazing little bookstore, not Asheville, Greenville. Sorry. And I watched the girls as they were walking up into the bookstore. They saw it. And then they came back, and they picked it up. They sat on the stairs for seven minutes, and read. And, that one, I actually had written like 13 pages. That was one of the beginning ones I did. So I had stamina to finish. But they were reading it out loud to each other. And they ended up hugging. I'm going to put a video on TikTok about it, because I'm going to cry, talking about it.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I have chills. I'm going to cry, too. I'm going to quit.
Madison White: Ended up talking about it at the... I mean they ended up hugging at the end of it. And they were just like, " This is so awesome," and hugged each other. And I was like, " I can't even..." I have never got to see people finding it.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Ohhhh, yes!
Madison White: There was one book I found in inaudible. So what actually happened was... So my little brother came with me on this trip. And he sat there, and we got this little... It's kind of like a hidden camera. It's a GoPro. But it's not as obvious as a cell phone. So he recorded the entire thing. And, when I was watching it back, and I'm like on the inside of the bookstore, watching it happen, he's on the outside recording. So he got to hear everything. And then I played it back. It's moments like that, that I'm like, just, " There's something special in this project." And it's so funny because, for a long time, especially back then, I was trying to convince people that, " There's something to this. I'm telling you there's something to this."
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, you just witnessed it. Genuine, authentic stories connect people.
Madison White: Yes. And it can happen in 13 pages. You know?
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: In 13 pages.
Madison White: Yeah.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: So this time, it's not the original 50- page story. It's more current part of your story. Is that correct?
Madison White: Yeah. So this time's kind of a little bit about the project, how it started and then kind of where I'm at today, and why I'm doing it again.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I love it, so much. Are you planning on adding to the story, as you drop off things in the city, different cities? Is it going to be kind of a progressive journal on the trip?
Madison White: No. I'm trying to write the same thing in each one. It just makes it easier, especially like the writing is so time consuming, that I would miss out on things, on the road and stuff. So I wish there was a way for me to do this faster. But, like I said, I won't copy it. I won't print it. I won't anything. Like, it has to be like this. The ultimate goal is to put out a thousand. Right now, I'm on 31. Yeah, 31. But I do ultimately want to put out a thousand. So I have to have a little bit of a template for time- saving-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Absolutely.
Madison White: You know.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, it's great that your brother can come along, so you can write as he drives, like you did with your, now, husband, in the original trip. Right?
Madison White: Well. He actually... So this is my little brother that I wrote about in the first book, which he was battling addiction, back then. And he relapsed, I guess it's, two years ago, now. And he was in a pretty bad place for a couple years.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Got you.
Madison White: So he doesn't have a license, right now. But I think that's also one of the really specials. I didn't know I was going to talk about that. But I think that's one of the really special parts of this trip, is like, a year ago, I saw him. And I literally left him, and I was like, " I don't know if I'll ever see him again." Now, we're touring the country, and he's 11 months sober, and doing amazing.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: inaudible.
Madison White: Yeah, yeah. It's-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Again, you get what you need when you need it. And there's lots of studies that say that lack of connection, and the authenticity of story, is what makes addiction come on or makes it worse. So the fact that you guys are getting a chance to spend this time together, I think, is a really healing, beautiful thing. That's awesome.
Madison White: Yeah. It really is. And he's as excited as I am. Like we're pulling over on road stops and he's like, " Yeah, let's go. Let's do this." You know, I'm like, I need that energy to feed off of, because I'm like, "Hey, we're about to jump a barbed- wire fence. Let's go."
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh my gosh. So where can... What's your TikTok, so people can follow along, as you start to post some of these adventures?
Madison White: TikTok is @ iffoundpleaseread. And then my website... I'm not really updating the website. I was telling you this before we jumped on. I'm not really doing this on my personal social media. The idea is to spread the idea. But I'm not trying... I kind of, like the organic nature of how this happened. Honestly, the craziest thing is I posted a video on TikTok. And, really, I was just like, " I'm starting this project again." And I posted this video, and it went viral. I didn't have the books for people to fill out, yet. I had to do all that stuff in a week. And I sent the first ones to print. And there was typos. And I was horrified and embarrassed. So there's like 40 people that were in copies of this book that have typos. And it's like the embarrassing typo. And there wasn't enough pages in the first journal. So I really did a rush job. And TikTok is really the only platform. Also, I love TikTok as a user, because it's not curated, and it's genuine. You know, I kind of gravitate to the things that are...
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: If it makes you feel any better, I had six different rounds of editing for my book. And, on the back cover of the paperback version, my first name is misspelled.
Madison White: Oh, No! Oh, that makes me feel so much better.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I'm so excited. You know I've been writing this book for years. It's my story. It's part of my business. And I'm so excited. And I flip it over and I'm like, you've got to be fucking kidding me.
Madison White: Oh, my gosh, hilarious. Oh, I love that. I love that.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And guess what? It has not hindered the success of the book or the impact that it's having for the people.
Madison White: It gives you a good story.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Yeah, gives me a really good... And I'm always going to save that copy of the misprint of my name on the back cover.
Madison White: Awesome. You know, what's funny is, when I hand write them, I could care less. I have the spelling of a fifth grader. I fully admit that, run- on sentences, commas where they don't belong. But it's when I had the typed version of the instructions, and that stuff. And I was like, " Oh, come on. Like how did you miss that?" Really, I turned to my husband and I was like, " How did you miss that?" Supposed to reread this.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: It's authenticity. There you go. That's the way it's going to be. Well, I'm excited for you. Let's stay connected. I feel like we have so many things in common. This is my other favorite thing about having a podcast, is the people I get to meet. So let's stay connected. Before we close out... Let's close out with this. My dog's barking in the background because my daughter's college cat, who's... We're her summer home. And she taunts my dog and gets up on the table and plays in his treat dish just to aggravate the living hell out of him. So that's what's happening in the background, for all of our listeners right now.
Madison White: I love it. I'm used to the chaos of a full house.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Chaos.
Madison White: Okay.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Chaos. So tell us a couple of your favorite responses. I love the one that you got to witness the video of them finding it. What are some other highlights of what people have said to you when they have found the journals?
Madison White: So there was a couple little girls in, gosh, I want to say Portland, that found it. It wasn't Portland. It started with an S. I can't remember. And they were young. I think they were like 15 years old. And they went back and forth with me on email. I mean, they'd emailed me twice a day. So it was two little girls that found it. And they were like, " We're doing a summer list." And they had 50 things that they were going to do that summer. And number four was, write a book and leave it for a stranger. And they, every little adventure they would go on, they would email me, be like, " Oh my gosh." I mean, literally, I think they told me the first time they kissed a boy, and stuff. It became like a big sister kind of relationship with them. And it was really, really sweet. And that's the funny thing, is like my book wasn't wholly appropriate for 15- year- olds. I didn't really... That wasn't on my mind when I was writing.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Sure they're finding other stuff on TikTok that is worse than what you wrote. Yes.
Madison White: Totally true. There was another... A guy from Connecticut found it. And I used to have this on my website because his letter just always really stuck with me. But he went to buy a gift for, I think... It was a family friend. And I think she was probably 16 or something. She was young, like a young teen- age girl. So he went to Barnes& Nobel. And, at the time, I was sneaking them onto the shelves, at Barnes& Noble, just like somebody randomly is going to flip through the shelves and find it. So that's how he came across it. He just said, " I was looking for the perfect gift for her. And her parents were getting her this iPhone. And my gift was going to be nothing in comparison." And he said, " But I got her this gift. And she ended up... Their family dinner, they had like 10 people sitting around the table. And was reading out passages from the book." And it was just like... He's like, " I gave her the greatest gift, just from finding this." And, it was funny because she had a brother with addiction. Like he told me a little bit about her and her story. Sorry, there's a motorcycle or something outside.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: You're in Kentucky. We know all those... We're in Indiana. We know those Midwest sounds.
Madison White: It's like shaking the walls. But, so her brother struggled with addiction, as well. And she was an actor. She was in theater, and all this stuff. So there was such similarities that he found this book, and it was for her, and it was perfect. So yeah. There was a lot of those. 30 people found them and got back to me. That shocked me the most. I was like, "Maybe one or two people will like,'Yeah, sure. I'll talk to this stranger that I just found this random book.'" But it was a lot of people. Some people... I think the mental health issues, when people would reach out with that, that was really kind of, meaningful to me. They were like, " I was in a really bad place in my life. And I came across this, and it's giving me hope. And I'm going to write my stuff." And I talked a lot about how therapeutic it was to write it. So when people were doing the hat kind of stuff with me... Also, people deal with really heavy stuff. And, listen, my life is all over the place. But I had a really good life. And, to be able to hear people in those stories, it really does... It makes me, overall, more empathetic. And I'm pretty empathetic, to begin with. But really looking at people, their reactions to things, and the things they say, or do, or their behaviors, and all of that, comes from a story. It comes from a place. You're not just born that way. I can't believe you are. So...
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That's another key point I make in my book is, when you understand everybody's story, or that everyone has a story, you can't help but evoke empathy and more vulnerability for yourself.
Madison White: Yes. I'm going to... Do you have AudiobooK, because I got like-
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: It's coming out. It's-
Madison White: ... 3,000 miles. Oh, it's not out yet?
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh, it's not out yet. Actually, today, I send back my last revisions. So-
Madison White: Oh, that's awesome.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ...depending on how long it takes them to get it up and rolling, I'll let you know when it hits.
Madison White: Definitely, definitely do. I am an audiobook addict. I love it, because I inaudible in the car.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And I read it, myself. So it's-
Madison White: Oh, cool.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: It's exciting for me to hear my book in my own voice. Yeah, it's cool. I like it.
Madison White: That's so great.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I will let you know when it comes out.
Madison White: Definitely. This has been so awesome. Thank you, again, for having me. I told you, in the beginning, I was nervous, and you made me feel very, very comfortable and at ease.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh good, good. I love what you're doing. And please... Of course, I'll be following you on TikTok, along the way. But, if there's any other updates that we want to come back and do a round two, to be on the show and tell us how it went, I'd love for you to come back.
Madison White: Definitely. Definitely will do. I appreciate it.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Thanks, so much.
Madison White: Thank you.
In this episode of The Badass Women's Council, Rebecca talks with Madison White! Madison is a TikToker and Vp of Operations at a restaurant group. She started a movement, If Found, where she writes journal entries and leaves them in various places for strangers to find and be inspired. Today, she and Rebecca talk about writing, inspiration, traveling, and being your true self. Listen now!