Details Editor Dan Peres’ Tells All About His Deadly 60-Pills-A-Day Addiction!
DATE: JULY 22, 2020
PROGRAM: THE COACH MIKE PODCAST
GUEST: DAN PERES
(START OF PODCAST)
COACH MIKE BAYER: It’s The Coach Mike Podcast and today I have a very special guest—fellow recovering addict Dan Peres who wrote the book As Needed for Pain: A Memoir of Addiction—Dan, thanks for being on The Coach Mike Podcast.
DAN PERES: Happy to be here!
MIKE: Great. So um, you know for, for the audience just getting to know you a little bit and you really intrigued me and that’s why I really am so grateful that you came on the podcast. Tell us who Dan Peres is.
DAN: Well, Dan Peres is uh, an addict. Uh, Dan Peres is a sober dad. Dan Peres is a journalist. And uh, you know, trying to sort of lead a healthy life.
MIKE: I mean, it seems like you know, you had a pretty big career in terms of writing and journalism and, you know, editorial—what was your career?
DAN: So I was the editor-in-chief of Details Magazine. Uh, Details Magazine was, you know, a men’s lifestyle magazine published by a company called Condé Nast. Uh, it closed in 2015 and I was the editor-in-chief of the magazine from 2000 until the time that it closed in 2015.
MIKE: Wow, so you were there right when it started.
DAN: I was there at a re-launch. It had started, the magazine actually launched, I think in the mid to late 80, uh, and then had a number of different owners and editors and then uh, it re-launched in 2000 with me as its editor and I was there in that job for 15 years.
MIKE: And that, that was, at the time that was a huge publication, right?
DAN: Yes. At the time, you know, it was a big publication. Uh, it was definitely a big job and it was really a, you know, interesting experience for me.
MIKE: And how, how—how does someone end up becoming an editor-in-chief of a major publication like…how does that happen?
DAN: Well, I mean, I can answer that two ways. I can answer that specifically related to me and then more kind of broadly speaking. I think in my case, I, I got lucky. I was given the job before I deserved to be given a job. And um…
MIKE: What do you, what…
MIKE: Yeah, what do you mean by that? Like how, what…
DAN: Well I, I was 28 at the time. I was inexperienced. I never really managed a team of people before. I never hired or fired anyone. Um, and uh, I had been working of course in magazines but I’ve never had a senior management position that was, you know, a whole team of people working with me. And so the job was given to me, which was great, and I’m grateful that that happened but it, and this isn’t false humility by the way—this isn’t me being like, “No, no, no…” you know, this is real, I should not have been given the job. Uh, but I was given the job and this is the sort of job that you don’t say “No” to.
MIKE: Why, why do you-why do you think you were given the job? I mean, a lot of people would be like, “I wish I was given the job.”
DAN: Uh, you know, I think that the people that ask me to run the magazine um, I guess felt that they wanted uh, a young, fresh sort of voice…
DAN: …that they wanted someone that might bring a different perspective, uh, to the magazine and help reach a new audience and so I’m sure they felt that uh, that bringing in someone in their late 20s made sense. Uh, I had worked for the company for, for many years—not many years, I don’t know why I said—that’s a lie—but for…
DAN: …for probably, you know, five or six years and uh, I had a nice relationship, uh, with the, uh, with the editorial director who was the person who was appointing this role…
DAN: …and uh, I think he trusted me and I think he, uh, probably felt that I had a good sense of storytelling and um, they, you know, took a gamble.
MIKE: They thought you were a, a star in the making.
DAN: Well, that wouldn’t be for me to say, but I certainly think that they, they probably hoped I was a star in the making.
MIKE: Yeah, I mean, I think for that type of responsibility at such a large publication, I mean, you had to be really—(STAMMERS) I know it sounds like you weren’t quite ready for it but there had to have been something like your eye for detail or your eye for uh, or your ability to socialize and connect with people. Like, like what…even though you felt at the time you weren’t ready and you got lucky, what do you think uh, you really excelled at even back then when you look at your life?
DAN: I think back then I was able to find the story in…
DAN: …anything, and was able to sort of look at something and say, “Hey, you know what, this is a really interesting way to approach this subject.”
DAN: Um, and uh, I, I think that I, you know, I had the ability to, to talk to people and to engage people. Um, but you know, if I’m being honest that was probably part of my, the part of my personality that, that I used to kind of cover up, really, just like immensely deep insecurities.
MIKE: Mmm. So what, what would you do when you start off at the job in terms of covering up a deep insecurity?
DAN: Um, I did a lot of pretending.
DAN: You know, I think I’ve been pretending, you know, most of my life at that point and so it was something I was comfortable doing. Um, I faked it until I made it…
MIKE: Faked it…
DAN: …and, and um, you know, probably conjured up a pretty strong…uh, level of false confidence.
MIKE: Got it. So it was almost like, um, if you were in, getting into bigger and bigger meetings it was, instead of just saying, “I don’t really know what I’m doing” or “Could someone help me?” You kind of exuded that you were really able to achieve it and do it.
DAN: Absolutely. I, I…I pretending that I knew what I was doing and uh, and just kind of went with that.
MIKE: Around that time were you starting to dabble in substances or was that something that was already going on?
DAN: I, around the time that I got the job, which was in 2000, I, I was beginning, um, to uh, take opiates pretty regularly.
MIKE: Mm hmm.
DAN: And, and it escalated very, very quickly. So the, the, as my career was taking off, so was my drug addiction.
MIKE: Do you remember the first time you did opiates?
DAN: I do, yes.
MIKE: What year was that or what was going on?
DAN: That was a few years before I got this job at Details. Um, I had injured my back…
DAN: …uh, and was prescribed Vicodin for that injury and ultimately had surgery several weeks later and was probably prescribed more Vicodin after that. And um, but the first time I took it, it certainly helped take away the pain. Um, but I also felt a sense of warmth and euphoria, slight though it may have been in those early days when I was taking medication as prescribed, uh, that I had, had never felt before.
MIKE: Yeah, it was, it was better than comfort soup.
DAN: (LAUGHS) It, it was better than anything!
MIKE: Yeah. And, and at that point did you say, “Uh oh!” or was it like, “Oh, maybe I can manage this”?
DAN: Yeah, I mean at that point, I, I was definitely like, “Hello!”…
MIKE: Got it.
DAN: ...you know? Because it, it was something that, like I said I had never felt before and um, it, it made me feel…whole in a way. It made me feel like me in a way. It made me feel like I was home.
MIKE: Mmm. And did you do it alone or was this something you started to do with others?
DAN: It was something I almost exclusively did alone. Um, there’s really one exception, uh, to that but, but by and large, I did it alone. Uh, I would isolate and, and uh, and take these pills.
MIKE: And so the job started to take off which, and that became a lot more responsibility and your, also, substance abuse increased with that, like you mentioned. And when, at what point did you start to go, no longer “Hello!” but “Oof, this is a little unmanageable”?
DAN: Probably about a year in, uh, to, to the drug use.
DAN: I, I uh, maybe a little less but…
DAN: …um, I was able to, to maintain pretty much for about a year, without there being too much of a problem but ultimately I, I started to need more and more pills. Um, my tolerance was, was increasing and so as a result the, the amount that I was taking at any given time was, it was increasing in lockstep with my tolerance. And so I got to a point where I started to run out, uh, quicker, you know? And, and I was just doing classic doc-doctor shopping at this point and, and I would, would go get prescriptions from a number of different doctors (STAMMERS) and fill them and they would carry me through. But that stopped working as I started swallowing more and more pills, I just, my supply was dwindling, uh, and my supply couldn’t keep up with the demand, uh, which was, you know, my own demand for them. And so, I started to go through withdrawal and I would, I would um, get to a point where I would run out and I wouldn’t have anymore, uh, or wouldn’t have an appointment with a doctor to get anymore for another couple days, let’s say even a week. And, and I would suffer miserably. It was at those points where I stared to realize, “Wow, you know what? This is uh, this is actually not good.”
MIKE: And, and during that period of time you were missing work…
DAN: I started to miss work more and more. Um, my absences at the office, um, became more frequent as the addiction, the hold the addiction had on me, un, intensified. And so I would say yes, that around that time, you know, I was, I…my presence in the office started to, to, um, suffer as a result.
MIKE: And so—was it almost like you had to do more of the like, push, fake it ’til you make it, show your confidence, show that, like, there’s maybe even mystery to you but it was brilliant somehow? Like, how…
DAN: I think, yeah, I think that’s exactly right. I think that that’s the way that I had hoped that it looked…
DAN: …right? So let me just be clear about that. Um, but I think the, like, I started to become aloof and distant and um, you know, and I had hoped I think that that was like this mysteriousness that, that came with people in a creative field, you know? Like, you know, we’re willing to tolerate lots of unusual behavior from, from people that deliver really strong creative results, you know?
DAN: We hear about uh, you know, songwriters or actors flipping out on set over this, that and the other thing but you, you kind of deal with that because, “Hey wow—look at this performer here…”
MIKE: And “This, this…
DAN: And I think…
MIKE: …this guy’s a creative genius” just, you know, “let him kind of be…” and I’m sure to some regard you actually had brilliant moments regardless if you’re using or not, right? Like, like you probably found yourself in rooms with people that all of a sudden you were like, “Wow! This is really…” I’m, I am really successful.” Would that…
DAN: You know, I, I think, I think I have, and this is not uncommon in the recovery community, but I think I had, you know, this, this incredibly powerful insecurity which was at odds with this, like growing ego…
MIKE: Mm hmm.
DAN: …right? And so, um, there were moments where I was like, “Oh my God, I’m a total fraud and I shouldn’t even be in this room and they’re all onto me. They all know I’m a total fraud and that I shouldn’t be in this room.” And then there were moments where I would be like, “Yeah I got this” you know? “And, and actually, this idea is inspired” and…
MIKE: Mm hmm.
DAN: …and, you know, “None of this can be happening without me.” And so there’s, then, you know, then, and then there was this tug of war going on between both of those things.
MIKE: Was there any moments looking back when you, when you look at it and you had a, uh, “Oh my God, they can see I’m a fraud…” Any, any moments when you look back at that period of time, any meetings where you’re like, “Oh my gosh, that was a…that was a moment”?
DAN: Yeah, because I would steal the space, you know? I think at that point I, I’ll explain what I mean what I, what I mean by saying that but uh, you know, I would sometimes be in a meeting and wouldn’t know what to say and instead of just kind of taking a step back and listening or waiting to understand a little bit more I would steal be the space, I would, I would jump into the empty, you know, to the silence with some answer that I shouldn’t have been giving.
MIKE: Mm hmm.
DAN: And, and I would know it as I would say, as I was saying it. Literally I would be saying, you know, “Well I think we should do this” or “What I think doesn’t make sense about your plan…” blah blah blah and, and as the words were coming out of my mouth, would literally be in my mind thinking, “What the fuck are you saying?”
DAN: And, and, and you can see, I could see people’s eyes, um, look at me almost like, “What the fuck are you saying?” as I was saying these things.
MIKE: Yeah. Like I, I uh, went to a Fordham University in the Bronx and I, my drug of choice was meth, so we’re kind of on opposite sides of the…
DAN: (LAUGHS) We sure are.
MIKE: …spectrum of what we desired and I remember being in class, being up for, for four days and I think it was a philosophy class, and the teacher asked a question and I was in my diesel black jacket and I remember raising my hand, uh, and gave some explanation on Descartes and literally instead of everybody looking at me like I was brilliant, I just remember everyone turning my heads and staring at me, like, and I have no idea what I even said, you know what I mean?
DAN: Exactly! Exactly.
MIKE: No idea what even came out of my mouth and everyone looks at you…
MIKE: …and you’re like, “Oh shit…I just said something that maybe offended someone or in appropriate or, or is it me or do I need sleep?” Right? Like…
DAN: Totally. I had, and I had, you know, a number of experiences like that, maybe far too many to even count where I would just kind of, because my insecurity had me, you know I was in the room, I’ve made it into the room and that was kind of validating for me ’cause I was always seeking validation, right? And, and so here I was, I was in the room and half the time I was leading the meeting in the room. And, uh, but I was surrounded by people who were far smarter than I was. Um, but I still, despite the fact that I had been given a job where I was the one that was running the meeting, um, I still felt insecure enough to, to not just sort of be comfortable with the fact that all these other people were so smart, you know? And I should have been okay with that, but I wasn’t okay with that. So I was either um, you know, try to show them that I was smarter…
DAN: …which I clearly wasn’t, so I must have sounded like a total idiot, uh, or worse, I would take some perfectly smart, you know, great idea of theirs and, and dismiss it for some reason just because I was in a position to do it. This is, this is how, how, just sort of insecure (STAMMERS) and um…almost immature and lost I was, you know, that I needed to do these things to somehow make me feel better and, and nothing was really making me feel better and then all of a sudden these opiates came along and I thought that they were making me feel better.
MIKE: And, and do you think that the people around you knew what was going on?
DAN: You know it’s really difficult for me to say, you know, what other people knew…
DAN: …I mean, obviously it’s impossible, you know, but, um, I don’t think that anyone in that moment knew uh, that I was a drug addict. They, they may have suspected something was off…
DAN: …maybe they, they suspect, “Oh, maybe he’s high” but surely no one knew how bad it had gotten because it had gotten really bad really quickly.
MIKE: Yeah, you know (STAMMERS) it’s really fascinating that you, you’re in a position where you’re making decisions, you’re managing, I mean how many, how many staff worked at the magazine at this time?
DAN: Uh, for me?
DAN: Um, probably 30.
MIKE: Thirty writers? Or, probably…
DAN: Yeah writers…
MIKE: …graphic designers, right.
DAN: …art directors…
DAN: …the whole shebang.
MIKE: And, and you’re in this position where, uh, it’s almost like uh, it’s a very dangerous place for someone to be an addict because there’s really, uh, only so much supervision that happens, um, because you’re really just reporting probably to um, uh, I’m guessing let’s say Condé Nast and those meetings aren’t happening as frequent as, you know, as the means are happening for details magazine, right?
DAN: You’re absolutely right. So (STAMMERS) it almost seemed like there was no adult supervision, despite the fact that I was supposed to be the adult in the room. Um, you know, you’re absolutely right. The sort of meetings with the corporate body if you will, you know, happened, not infrequently but, but not, certainly not every day and, and so this was my show to run as it were. And, and listen—that allowed me to, to do what I did which was, you know, take tons of, of opiates and not be super present. Um, and, and continue on this path that, that ultimately got, you know, super dangerous for me.
MIKE: In terms of you realizing uh, like, “Oh man, I really messed up this one.” I know you talked about a story with Ben Affleck, where there was a moment there. Um…
DAN: Yeah, you know, I, I think, yeah I’m happy to talk about that, of course, but I don’t even think that that was me messing up necessarily. Ultimately I take full responsibility for everything that happened at the magazine but, but this was something that, that would have been difficult to prevent and, and in this instance we did an interview with Ben Affleck. We put him on the cover of the magazine and the writer um, I think probably just either—I wanna be fair to the writer ’cause I don’t remember the exact circumstances but either took some things out of context, potentially, or, or connected some quotes from different parts of a conversation to, to make one quote, which you should obviously not do. Again just to be clear I’m not exactly sure what he did…
DAN: …but I know that that it was, it was, it was not right.
MIKE: Mm hmm.
DAN: And so um, whether or not that writer did those things it somehow related to my drug addiction is probably debatable, um, but there were a number of things (STAMMERS) that happened that uh, that probably shouldn’t have happened um, but then again, things in, you know, the media, like mistakes happen and I loved the job, right? And, and um, I started to, to not prioritize the job as drugs became a bigger priority for me and ultimately the only priority for me. Um, but, but while I was doing the job, uh, I, I enjoyed it and, and tried to take it seriously. There were certainly moments where I would be like, “I can’t believe that this is my life right now” or “I can’t believe that I’m having a conversation with this celebrity or this fashion designer or this head of such and such a company.” Um, but I wouldn’t roll my eyes at some sort of, like, indifference or like, “Ha!” like, “Look at this joker.” It was more, I, I would really just try to own my own lies and own the con that I, that I felt like I was perpetrating. And, and so I would, if I didn’t um…you know, so I would, at times sort of maybe appear aloof or distracted but I was definitely, you know, excited about the job. I don’t think I was ever super jaded about it.
MIKE: Well you went, you went, you stayed at the job even after you got sober, right? So…
DAN: I did, yeah.
MIKE: …so it’s like you, you got so-so you were behaving and managing. It’s almost like a father who goes away to treatment and comes back and the kids are like, “We like the old Daddy because the old Daddy maybe turned his head or wasn’t as responsible,” right? And then Dad comes back and there’s like, “This is a different version of Dad.” Did you have some of that happening?
DAN: I think the before and after are probably really interesting (STAMMERS) and very clear to see. Um, so when I got sober in 2007 I, I still had the job for another eight years until the magazine closed. So I was there for 15 years and it’s really like, more or less the first half I was an active addict and the second half I was an addict in recovery.
MIKE: Mm hmm.
DAN: And so, um, I’m sure it was like night and day. It was like flipping a night switch on or off, you know? And all of a sudden I was super present and I was the first one in the office in the morning and I was responding to emails and, and I wasn’t uh, irritable and I, you know, so I was thinking probably in some ways the people that I worked with who incidentally helped get that magazine out every month, um, and particularly when I was actively taking drugs did far more work than they…than they signed on to do, right?
MIKE: Mm hmm.
DAN: Because I was, I was so mercurial (STAMMERS) and not present. Um, so I think that when I got sober and then, you know, showed up to work as a sober man, uh, that they were probably relieved. I’m sure they, maybe, scratched their heads little bit and went, “Hey, wow, what’s this all about? But all of a sudden I was there and I was kinder and more attentive and, and probably more respectful, if I’m being honest. And um, and so it, it really was like night and day.
MIKE: And, and uh, what was the immense process for you?
DAN: With the people that I worked with?
MIKE: Yeah, people you worked with or, clients, celebrities, vendors, like, I imagine you had a, a pretty extensive “I need to let people know who I am today” or…apologies for stuff—was there any of that?
DAN: There was. I was still very—I wanted to be very careful, to um, not disclose my um…addiction to anybody. And, and I was very concerned about the stigma…
MIKE: Mm hmm.
DAN: …related to addiction. And so I, I wasn’t making direct, “Hey, this is what I’ve gone through and I know that I treated you incredibly poorly or unfairly or whatever the case may be, you know, over the last number of years and I’m sorry for that.” It wasn’t done in a direct way like that. So it was A—more of a, of a living amends, right? Um, and, and B—uh, more, a lot of, you know, ’cause, listen, you’re still, I wasn’t perfect, even sober, right? And I’m still not, obviously. So, if I was short-tempered with someone or dismissive of something or said or did something that, that I, you know, knew didn’t feel right, I would promptly take action and say, “Hey wait a minute, I’m sorry I just said that” or “I’m sorry about the way that I spoke to you” or, “You know what? I actually do wanna hear this idea” or “Hey, why don’t we approach it this way?” So I would try to do it, um, using the tools that I got from the program. Um, but without directly sitting down with them and, and making a full-on proper amends.
MIKE: Got it and so, and so that the, the audience listening can understand the, the kind of lifestyle you were in—can you talk about like, the fashion brands and celebrities and kind of paint the picture of what that looked like for, because I think you’re so in it so it’s, you know it, whereas on the outside it’s like “What is…” does that mean you’re hanging out with Donatella Versace and getting martinis and off to a party or is it like behind the office and pounding away at the next, you know, design cover, right?
DAN: Right. Um, it, it was a little bit of both. Um, I definitely, uh, know and spent a lot of time with Donatella Versace and other fashion designers so it was my job to um, you know, manage this, this magazine. (STAMMERS) And that meant everything related to this magazine. So we would put celebrities on the covers. We would host dinners for those celebrities at times or movie premieres. And I would be the host of those things. So, so a lot of interaction with celebrities and movie stars and, and directors and, and then a ton of interaction with fashion design. So, I would spend time with everyone from Giorgio Armani to Dolce & Gabbana to Tom Ford and Donatella Versace and these were incredibly important relationships because these were the people that advertised in our magazine…
MIKE: Mm hmm.
DAN: …and that, that’s what paid the bills. And so, uh, and we would showcase their clothing and, and even sometimes them in the pages of the magazine. So these were incredibly important relationships and, uh, this was my world, you know? And I was in this world but I never felt like I belonged in this world and, and I, you know, as I said, I was always sort of felt like I was pretending um, which, which I, which I did and uh, so I had relationships with lots of these people and lots of, um, you know…
DAN: …Hollywood celebrities…
MIKE: …any of those designers or celebrities you got honest with about, you know, shortly after getting sober and any of them were really encouraging or really great?
DAN: Yes. I, I um, you know, I’ve had, I’ve had probably shortly after getting sober I had conversation with Tom Ford about my sobriety, um, and uh…maybe, it got to, it got to a point after being sober for a couple of years where I just sort of started talking about it…
MIKE: And when you say it…
DAN: …and um…
MIKE: …with Tom Ford, for example, ’cause I know you talked about before he saw you when you were using, right?
DAN: Right. And I, I write about in the book in experience that I surely don’t expect him to remember but…
DAN: …I was at, I was at an event in New York and I was taking my last Vicodin, I was actually starting to go into withdrawal and I ended up that night in an emergency room trying to con a doctor out of pills which I ultimately did successfully. Uh, but before that part of the evening, I said one last pill that I was kind of hoping and praying would like, at least tide me over until I got over this event that we were at. And I went into the bathroom and I leaned over the sink, you know, and there was a bank, a line of maybe four or five sinks and was, put the pill in my mouth and was leaning down to cup water from the faucet into my mouth just as Tom Ford walked in and said, “Hey Dan Peres—what are you taking?” And I…
DAN: …you know, and he was being sardonic and kind of like, playful, but I was takings drugs, you know? And um so…
MIKE: So what’d you say?
DAN: I said, “Oh, I have a headache. I’m just taking…
DAN: …aspirin” you know?
MIKE: Yeah, you’re like, taking the funkiest looking aspirin pill, right?
DAN: Right. To which he said, “Sure, sure you are.” And then just kind of like, you know, kept going. And so, you know…I think, I think ultimately talking about my sobriety with someone like that, uh, you know, was just something that probably came up years later, um, we may have been at an event, uh, and, you know, I don’t drink, you know? I don’t do drugs and, and I probably just sort of mentioned it…
DAN: …casually, as I started to do more and more.
MIKE: And I’m guessing that’s part of uh, also why you made a decision to write this book is you wanted to kind of, um, give some hope—would that be right?
DAN: I think that’s exactly right, you know? I wanted, well first of all, to your first point, you know, um, yes it’s like, for anyone that’s ever had the experience of going into a 12-step meeting, um, and, and to be clear there are lots of different paths to recovery, you know? My, my path includes 12-step meetings but, but there’s no right or wrong way to approach this, right? But tha-that’s what works for me. But for anyone who’s ever walked into a 12-step meeting and here you are, let’s just say the first time you’re going into a meeting or if you’re traveling to a foreign city, uh, and you go into a meeting, um, you know, you connect very quickly with these people for precisely the reason you just said, right? That you’re…you’re super like-minded, you know? You all used to be con artists and you all used to be fr-feel like you were frauds and have the same level of deep insecurity or, you know, feel like you never fit in. You know, these are common themes, right, that you hear in the rooms of 12-step meetings. And so um, there is this, the immediate connection. And that’s the power of this program, at least for me and that’s what’s been incredibly uh, helpful. Um, but yes, to sort of circle back, um, I think the main reason I wrote the book, not, not—there are others—but certainly one of the main reasons is uh, is to do just what you said, to show people that there’s hope. I was an active opiate addict for, for seven years and I was swallowing handful after handful of these pills; at one time up to 60 a day. And it’s a miracle that I’m alive and I OD’d a number of times and, and I just, I’m here by the grace of God, you know? And so for, for me…uh, to now be able to share my story, I, you know, there are people out there that are struggling or people out there that are know-that know people that are struggling. I really do, uh, hope that this book shows them that there’s a way out. Uh, and does offer some, at least, glimmer of, of hope.
MIKE: Yeah and I, I think um, that’s what you’ve done is you found your story just like you initially said through writing—As Needed for Pain: A Memoir of Addiction—and you’re telling that story and it sounds like you continue to do that story and are there other projects you’re currently working on that um, involve story telling?
DAN: There are. I mean, I’m doing um, from a professional side I’m consulting with, with a number of brands and media companies on just that, you know, content strategies and storytelling. But I’m also starting to work on what I hope will be a new book, um, about fatherhood and, and recovery, you know? I got sober 92 days before my oldest son was born.
DAN: And um, so his birth was, as corny as it may seem, my rebirth and, and uh, so fatherhood is incredibly important to me. I, I have three sons. And um, you know, being their dad is the most important thing in my life and, and it dovetails really nicely with my recovery and so I’m starting to explore writing about that.
MIKE: That sounds amazing, um, congratulations to your son as well for having a dad who’s gonna be sober, uh throughout his life…
DAN: …yeah, because listen man, you know, I can’t tell you how grateful I am that my children have only ever known me as a sober dad.
MIKE: Mm hmm. Total pivot—and I’m just randomly curious—you, you clearly know branding, advertising, telling a story. What tips do you have for someone out there who is building a brand and wanting to tell a story? Like what, what are the Dos and Don’ts that just come up for you from your years of experience? Because at this point, I don’t think you’re faking it until you make it, you clearly have made it, so…
DAN: I, I think you have to be true to yourself and, and it’s not, it’s easy to say that…
DAN: …but it’s not always easy to do that. Uh, and I think you have to understand yourself and understand what distinguishes you from any other story that’s out there. And uh, and so, but, but we say, you know again, just to bring it back to recovery—to thine own self be true.
DAN: …you know? Like, you, you can’t, you can’t be bullshitting yourself and you have to understand who you are and, and what you have to offer. Everybody has a story and, and just like my story, you know, I just wrote this book and there are a number of things that, that are unique about my story, right? I had this job and I had access to all these kind of cool cultural people and all of that and that’s great but at its core, it’s actually a really common story…
DAN: …right? Someone injures themselves, gets prescribed these drugs, gets addicted to these drugs and that addiction nearly kills them. And that’s, that’s…far too common, sadly, than, than we even are probably comfortable admitting, right?
DAN: Um, but find the, the, the pieces of your story that make you unique (STAMMERS) and own that, be true to that. And I think that’s, that’s a great sort of branding tip, right? Whether you’re writing or trying to sell a product, you know, what, what’s, what are your points of distinction and own them, really own them (STAMMERS) and put them out there for people to see.
MIKE: And you’re saying that that’s where you saw success also with fashion brands is they really would own it, they would have a clear identity and it would be authentic to their design, right?
DAN: Absolutely! And there are a lot of brands that do the same thing, right? You know, like you could go out and find a shirt from J. Crew that looks just like a shirt from the Gap that looks just like a shirt from…I don’t know Old Navy or whatever, you know? So there’s a lot of shame there but within the fashion world there’s also a lot of distinction and there are a lot of designers that are working out there now that you can kind of look at and be like, “Wow, that’s definitely…” if you’re interested in fashion you can go, “Oh yeah, that’s Prada. Oh my God, that looks so much like Calvin Klein.” So you just sort of own your voice, figure out what your point of view is, figure out what your points of distinction are and, and use them as access, you know?
MIKE: And, and…
DAN: And, and…
MIKE: …and did you see like, so you would see fashion brands just like any business, right, that, that it almost, unless they were truly being authentically grown, did they have a hard time lasting? Were they kind of like, just a moment, you know, you don’t need to name designers at all but I’m just, you saw so many, you know?
DAN: Right. But I think it’s true even beyond fashion, right? That like, if you’re doing something that, that no one else is doing, um, you know, people are, of course other people are gonna be making pants and other people are gonna be making suits…
DAN: …and shirts and dresses, you know, high-heeled shoes, whatever it is, but if you’re doing it in a way that’s very specific to you then you’re gonna have success. And the same way if you have a restaurant that does something really amazing and really people are gonna keep coming back to that or if you make a television show that is just awesome and unique and specific to you and, and you know, other people of course are making television shows and of course are entertaining people but people know that when they tune into your show they know what they’re gonna get.
MIKE: Mm hmm.
DAN: Just like people know that when they picked up the magazine that I was running, they knew what they were gonna get or if you go in to buy a pair of Nike shoes, you know what you’re gonna get. You know you want Nike, not Adidas because that’s your taste…
MIKE: So what…
DAN: …or whatever it is. And, and so I think you have to kind of own what makes you different, you have to, you know, understand who the people are that are drawn to that and you have to keep giving them, you know, what they’re coming to you for.
MIKE: It seems like even, even crossing over to fashion, there’s even fashion brands that put clothing on people who have huge followings, right? Like, that, that person…
DAN: Yeah, so the whole marketing model has basically changed now, right? So, so they, you know, these companies used to spend millions of dollars a year on uh, buying pages in magazines like mine—advertisements in magazines like mine. Um, but that, the whole reason my magazine closed and, and many others have it as well is because these companies are now realizing, well really the best way or one of the, the best ways for me to reach my potential consumer or even my current consumer isn’t to put an ad in a magazine but it’s just to do it on social media because here this person, this influencer, you know, has hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers. So if I can have them put on my new Burberry raincoat or my new Adidas sneakers, uh, then that, that’s just so much easier. And so they’re taking the money that they used to pay magazine like mine to run their ads and they’re just giving it to the influencer who’s then, you know, taking a picture of themselves in those Nikes.
MIKE: Yeah, I can…
DAN: And that, that works.
MIKE: Yeah, and I guess that’s where I think, in terms of “to thine own self be true” it seems like there’s so much uh, effort for someone to be seen so that they then could somehow leverage themselves to get that Adidas shoe or that Burberry coat, right? ’Cause people are really trying to be something that, uh, really they’re not, and it, the whole thing’s just interesting to me. Just, just how um, what is considered relevant, what is considered cool, like, why people choose, because you’re really, I see fashion as an art form and you were in it for so many years, so is designing the publication of a magazine, right? You’re some-it’s all, it’s like a, it’s the packaging of creativity and I just feel like you are a, this is great information because you’re just like (STAMMERS) a hotbed of wisdom, you know, in regards to branding uh, identity, sobriety. I love how you tied it back, too, about it being about, you know, that’s why you chose to put what you put in the book, like that’s why you put, um, you know, even though it’s true, and um, you know, fortunately or unfortunately by bringing attention to the types of people are around it actually does help more people because people are more likely to pick up the book and it’s also true, right? Um…
MIKE: …and then this next phase of your life is about being a father and, you know, kind of the rebirth and that next phase and the meantime it sounds like you’re consulting for different brands and projects and, uh, if people do wanna follow you on social media, what is your social media handle?
DAN: So on Instagram it’s Dan, D-A-N, underscore Peres, P-E-R-E-S and on Twitter it’s @DanPeresNY, um, and of course the book is called As Needed for Pain and you can get that on Amazon or anywhere where you, where you get books.
MIKE: And is there an audio book as well?
DAN: There is. There’s an audio book, the Kindle version, there’s a hardcover. Uh, and all are, you know, all are out there to be found.
MIKE: So you guys check out the book As Needed for Pain: A Memoir for Addiction. Contact Dan on social media. Dan, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. I really appreciate it.
DAN: Thank you so much for having me. I’m grateful.
MIKE: All right, thanks buddy. Subscribe, download and we’ll be having more podcasts out ever week with incredible people so I’ll talk to you guys soon.
(END OF PODCAST)