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Hermon Mehari | “Courageous Voice” |

by , | May 17, 2022 |, Courageous Voice, Listen

“I just had to believe in it…and believe in every song without having any other justification or validation from anybody…It was a leap of faith.”
Hermon Mehari

This heart-to-heart chat with jazz trumpeter Hermon Mehari will leave you eager to try something old in a new way, or simply explore new possibilities using your creative (and courageous) voice.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Finding motivation and discipline
  • Artistic vulnerability
  • Giving voice to the voiceless through music
  • Self exploration through artistic expression

You can connect with Hermon on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube

Check out his website for music and concert dates at

And…stream or purchase Hermon’s music on your favorite music platforms. The songs discussed in this podcast are from his album, “A Change for the Dreamlike.”


Today is the day you vow to follow your heart and not your fear. If only it were that easy! The Courageous Voice podcast chronicles international artists, creatives, plus a handful of scientists, and their stories of fear, courageousness and creativity. Hosted by singer, storyteller and self-proclaimed joy spreader, Chanda Rule, The Courageous Voice inspires us to share our voices courageously in spite of our fears through courageous conversation and community.



Chanda Rule: I’m so, so, so super excited to welcome my next guest of the fifth rendition of the Courageous Voice podcast, Hermon Mehari. So, Hermon, I’ve been calling him my new pal on social media. Herman is my new pal. He is a [00:01:00] trumpeter. He is an educator. He is a lover of culture, a marathoner. I’m sure I’m leaving out so many things.

So what I’ve been doing is each time I’ve been asking people who they’re bringing, because as artists, there are so many different parts of us. And so who are you bringing today to the Courageous Voice podcast, Hermon?

Hermon Mehari: Who am I bringing it today? Um, well, what do you mean exactly by that?

Chanda Rule: Well, I mean, so, I know that you are a musician, and I know about all these other things about these languages that you know. But, I want to just give people an opportunity to add. So for instance, actually last time a friend of mine was here, and she’s just like, well, I’m a mom, you know?

And this is the most important filter that everything goes through. And I didn’t know that, I mean, I knew she was a mom, but everyone doesn’t like rank it as number one and filter everything through it. Or, you know, some people are like, well, today this [00:02:00] is what I’m thinking about. And this is what’s important to me.

Or we can leave it. You can just say, okay, well that’s who I am and let’s go, let’s chat. It’s up to you.

Hermon Mehari: No, I see. I follow. I was just making sure I didn’t wanna misunderstand. All these things you mentioned that I am, they all kind of go together for me because I’m a very curious person. I’m super curious. I love to just really dive into things, and all these aspects, all these things like running or cooking or eating or languages, music. I kind of see it all the same way and I kind of attack them all in the same way.

And so that’s representative who I am as a person, I think. At least the way I go about these things.

Chanda Rule: Okay. I see that. Curious. And I’m curious because, the language that you say, you go about things "attacking" them. It’s a strong language. Right. So just from being around you, it seems like you do take the things that you’re interested in very seriously. So I don’t know, was that just the word that you’re using [00:03:00] because you are creative with language or is there a deeper meaning to that?

Hermon Mehari: I like to hope I’m a little bit creative with language, but no, I used it on purpose because I really do attack these things and you notice it in me and it’s true. It’s what I do. I’ll just use the example, Turkish, the language of Turkish. When I decided to start learning it, I spent an entire month just like really going at it every day for about four hours, maybe more, in a very intense way. And I was here in Paris. I live in Paris and I was in Paris doing it. I wasn’t in Turkey.

Chanda Rule: Okay, oh my God. I assumed that you were in Turkey learning this.

Hermon Mehari: No, no, but I go often and I was going, and I go often, and I have a lot of friends there and I should explain why.

Two reasons for learning: one, because I go often and after like my seventh or eighth time in [00:04:00] Istanbul, I couldn’t say like, I couldn’t say thank you. I couldn’t say, you know, I couldn’t say just basic things. I tried to learn these things and I’d forget them. And so I told myself, okay, if I want to, I’d like to be respectful, I’m coming here all the time, I should know, at least stick a little bit of Turkish. But I told myself, only way I’m going to learn this is if I really try to learn the language.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

Hermon Mehari: The second thing was I wanted the challenge. Then this notion that we can’t learn two languages at once. Uh, living in France, uh, was, and I’m always learning French.

So it was kind of like an intellectual challenge at the same time. And so what I did was I jumped into it for a month straight. I got like downloaded apps, I downloaded podcasts. I was taking lessons every few days. I got these textbooks, and I just like attacked Turkish. So that’s why I cause like I really, this is how I dive into things.

Chanda Rule: Okay. Wow. This is interesting because at the moment I have… you know, I’m pausing because I don’t commit to [00:05:00] many things. I’m married and have a child, and so fully committed to those things. So as much as I’m able to, I’ve just committed to learning German.

And I told them that I would like for us to have no English in the house for three months. And it’s challenging, it’s challenging, but I’m in a German speaking country. So. Wow. I can’t even imagine. I can’t imagine learning German in another country. I can’t. But that’s amazing. That’s amazing.

Hermon Mehari: I love that you’re doing that cause honestly, as I go through languages, that’s the best way to learn that I’ve found. Through studying lots of polyglots and seeing where my progress came through with languages and just doing research, that’s the best way is just to be surrounded by it and talk it and be forced to talk it and not rely on your native tongue. Better than the grammar, that’s better than doing any other thing. So I’m super happy to hear that you’re doing that. And you said it’s challenging and the thing is it should be challenging because [00:06:00] otherwise you’re not really learning.


Chanda Rule: Really? See, uh, okay. I like easy learning, and not even easy, like, okay, it’s a cop-out, but, I think for me, the best learning style is play. And so, I think about it, I mean, even as a musician, I think about it in terms of how I learn, and how I’ve best learned and what sticks to me.

And I think because it’s just not in my nature to be one that is, I mean, I’m not going to say committed, I guess, committed in a Type A way that is kind of praised the way it was to learn things. For instance, you know, songs I typically learn in the shower or when I’m washing dishes. I learn lines by playing with them and turning them into something else.

And so for me, actually, having no English at home is kind of like that. It’s very playful. It’s not like, okay, there’s a test. Or you have to sit down and [00:07:00] study for one or two hours a day, because I know that I won’t do it, but it’s a different type of commitment.

Hermon Mehari: Yeah. It is a different time, but still say it’s challenging, right? Like you said, it’s challenging. You said it’s challenging. So, I think you’re doing the right thing, I think. Because also what happens when you’re learning language this way is you’re also allowing your brain to come up with a response, or to really like hone in and really try to hear what they’re saying or, you know, oral comprehension.

Chanda Rule: Yeah.

Hermon Mehari: Yeah. Also, but that’s how we learn our native tongue, too.

Chanda Rule: Right, right. Oh my gosh. Okay. There’s so much I want to talk about and I love how you think about the brain. No, I want to get back to this. Or, or I will sit and talk to you about the brain for like another hour, because I love your process, but I do want to come back to that with your teaching methods and how you approach your music.

But I do want to switch topics a little bit, cause I want to talk about your music and your album. I’ve listened. I listened. I listened. I also [00:08:00] read a bunch and in your PR and in the interviews that you did for this last album, you talked about that it was really much more personal than your other albums and that you were writing it during lockdown. And so I wanted to chat about that and I really thought a lot about vulnerability and how that ties into courageousness. Maybe we can start with the lockdown and with the quiet that came out of that lockdown. And I’m just wondering, what was loud for you?

What spoke to you during that time that led you to approaching your writing from a different point of view?

Hermon Mehari: Yeah. So to give a place, I escaped with three other friends to the countryside in France. When they announced that Paris was locking down, my friend’s friend had countryside home, and they weren’t there, they were in Canada.

[00:09:00] So we were down there near the Dordogne River, and we were isolated. And we had at the same time, a lot of freedom because we could walk around. And so at the same time, you know, everything was, as you remember, everything was canceled. Cancel, cancel, cancel, canceled.

So, I had no worries about anything I had to do in the next few months. Cause it was like, okay. And also just thinking about the situation of the virus, it was so unknown back then that there are so many variables possibilities that it did me no good to think about it. You know, what am I going to do?

So, I was very much in the present, and I was very much also reflecting. I went on lots of long walks, and had this kind of tranquility that I don’t think I’ve ever had before. And in doing so, a lot of things kind of came naturally musically, but also I got to like develop thoughts. I got to really [00:10:00] think about my history.

For example, the first song on the album, it’s not an original composition, but it’s an old American traditional American song called Shenandoah. Walking around this river in France reminded me a lot about the Missouri river back where I’m from, the river valley.

And I just heard, as I was walking along the river through the woods, I just heard the melody, it just came in my mind. I heard it so strongly and the way I wanted it to sound, I heard everything so clearly. And so I just love the song anyways, but I hadn’t thought about that song in years, and it just, [gestures] and I kept hearing it every time I walked. I said, okay, I have to record this. I have to do this.

And on the recording, I also did a field recording of the sounds of the Dordogne River. So that’s just one example. It made me really reflect back to my childhood near the Missouri River. As you know, you’ve heard the album, there’s some other things that are more related to my personal history and stuff that come about as well.[00:11:00]

Like Eritrea for instance, which is my heritage. It’s the first time that I… like I’d always grown up listening to Eritrean music with my family and going to Eritrean get-togethers, parties, festivals, and dancing to the music.

But I never, ever put it together with the music out that I do. I never studied it. I never did any of that. So I spent time in really studying the music. I studied the history of the music. I targeted and found artists that I really enjoyed, and I tried to figure out what I liked about them.

I transcribed all the music. I tried to figure out the roles of all the instruments. And then I ended up writing a piece.

Chanda Rule: Yeah, that was my favorite one on your album.

Hermon Mehari: Everyone likes that the most.

Chanda Rule: And that’s interesting. But I’m just curious, even though, you were saying that you heard music and that you went to different gatherings growing up, was it [00:12:00] like a very small part of your life still?

’cause I find that it’s very possible, even though you have connection to your one culture that when you’re in another culture, it’s still gets packaged and placed in a box. And I’m just saying that watching my own child grow up here in Austria. So I’m just curious if that was the case for you or not, and if that’s why it just didn’t show up in your music?

Hermon Mehari: Yeah, that’s very perceptive. It’s the same thing. It just kind of got pushed to the back. As I left, I went to conservatory, I was doing my thing and I was not so connected to my roots, pretty much at all. I only come in touch with it when I go see my family or, I never really made an effort to keep it in my life. And now it is more actually having done that. My next album is actually all Eritrean music inspired. I’m really connected to the [00:13:00] community a bit better here in Paris and in Europe a little bit more.

I learned a lot actually about the culture and through the process and I’m still learning. So it’s a more present part of my life. It’s great.

Chanda Rule: Mmm. So the piece that you did with your uncle, was this a conversation that you recorded during the lockdown? Or was this something that you already had before?

Hermon Mehari: So the conversation with my uncle is another piece that I was inspired to do it down there. And it, this is even more personal, he’s telling my dad’s refugee story. My dad escaped from Eritrea during the war with Ethiopia, and it’s a story that I always wanted to record my dad saying, and before my dad passed, I never got a chance to.

And I regretted it. I do still regret it, but then I said, okay, let me interview my uncle, his brother, and have him tell a story. He’s a great storyteller. And then maybe I could use this also on the album in some musical way. I had a vague notion. I didn’t know how, [00:14:00] and then when I did the interview, actually, I didn’t tell him I was going to use it or anything. I told him afterwards, but I didn’t want him to, you know what I mean? Like, like…

Chanda Rule: Okay.

Hermon Mehari: I just told him I was recording it. I told him I was recording it for posterity, which is true. But I didn’t tell him till after. I was like, hey, I’m going to use this.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

Hermon Mehari: Because I didn’t want him to overthink and I wanted to be more natural. And he told a story and I listened to it and I hear it. Then I started hearing the musical parts of his voice you know, how musical his voice just talking was, which is why, I decided, okay, I’m going to match what he’s doing, which is really hard work to match what he’s doing on the trumpet with his voice, with a trumpet.

And so you get what the conversation with my uncle was.

Chanda Rule: Nice. Can we hear a little bit? Can we hear a little bit of the piece Conversation with my Uncle?

Hermon Mehari: Yep. I got it pulled up right here.

Chanda Rule: Awesome. [00:15:00] [00:16:00]

Okay. So that piece, wow. It’s a heavy story and it’s a lot for the listener to digest. And I’m just wondering, for [00:17:00] you when you were creating it, what was the role of the trumpet, or what role did you assign the trumpet in that?

Or was it just like an artistic decision?

Hermon Mehari: Well, I thought that the trumpet would serve to outline the story in a way. I think it added weight. It adds weight to what’s being said.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

Hermon Mehari: Cause you know, it’s also interesting, like if I, for instance, if I had just had the voice and no trumpet, I think there would be less… like, the word stand for themselves. It’s a strong story, but I think it really pays attention to it in a way. Yeah. That’s what I was thinking.

Chanda Rule: I mean, definitely. I see how it outlines the story and my experience of it was a little different. I think it took away some of the weight for me. So not in a sense where it wasn’t meaningful, but I felt like it made me listen deeper [00:18:00] and I think it made me listen to the story and it gave me space to hold what was being said in a different way.

Right. Sometimes you can tell somebody a story and it is very heavy and it’s just like, you take it in. And there’s so many other emotions that come: your own heaviness or the other experiences you might have, but somehow adding the trumpet took away from me adding anything of my own into the story. And I was just listening to the story, which is pretty incredible, actually.

Hermon Mehari: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I like to say, it’s my dad’s refugee story, but it’s also the refugee story, it speaks for all refugees.

That’s pretty much what they go through, more or less. Some of them don’t even get to be that lucky in the end. My dad is fortunate. He got in a resettlement camp and it got moved to the States. But some people, they’re stuck in limbo forever. Also, I wasn’t really thinking of it this way at first, but it also developed into a piece that brings attention to this refugee problem.

And so people actually, [00:19:00] who teach classes at some universities, heard it and they’re like, oh, can I share this in my class? We’re talking about human rights or refugees and stuff and I said, of course, yeah.

Chanda Rule: Do you feel like it’s part of your story, also, a little? Or do you feel completely separated from that based on your life and your experiences growing up?

Hermon Mehari: Well, it’s funny because in one way I feel separated from it, in one way feel connected. I feel separated because in our culture, you don’t really… See, one of the things about the fact that I wanted my dad saying this was because he had told me this, but he had told me this story at a pretty late age.

And it’s just like, you don’t… they don’t talk about it in our culture. They don’t talk about these stories. You have to like really dig it out. My uncle’s story is crazy, too. He was held prisoner in Ethiopia and tortured and like for years. His own stories is wild. I knew more about his story than his children until recently, because I was asking questions.

So that being said, I feel to some [00:20:00] extent, feel disconnected because we didn’t grow up probably on purpose, to these crazy histories. But then once you know it, and you think about what it took for you to arrive at this moment here, where you are in this world. Wow. Right.

Chanda Rule: Yeah.

Hermon Mehari: And then you figure out also like the expectations that are our parents have on us having gone through all of that.

And it’s like, hey, well now, it’s on us.

Chanda Rule: Exactly, exactly. So you’re, you’re collecting this information about your family’s history. You’re digging into your roots a bit more. Also, what you were going through, what we were all going through during this time.

Would you say, did you allow some of that also enter your writing? I guess what I’m asking is, which piece do you feel was the most [00:21:00] personal for you in writing?

Hermon Mehari: Uh, I think that one, honestly, but…

Chanda Rule: Yeah?

Hermon Mehari: Yeah, because also the thing is a lot of people know me and they don’t even know anything about my Eritrean history or aspect or they know I’m Eritrean, but doesn’t really resonate with them in any way. Doesn’t mean anything to them. So, so putting that out there, like that saying, Hey, this is a big part of who I am.

I think it was really personal. The other songs, like All Alone was a bit more on the nose in the sense, like, you know, feeling lonely in this time of confinement, but also it represented the times I felt alone in my life. It’s a standard, it’s a reworking of a standard. Um, jazz standard I should say to those who might not know what that means.

Um, and what else is on there? Oh, well then there’s also I Cry for our People. And so you remember at this time, at that time rather, there was also all the protests happening out in the [00:22:00] U.S. And I was watching it at a distance and I felt like, oh my gosh, there’s this happening over there, I want to be there.

You know? And it made me really think about one of my best friends, who’s an incredible drummer. His sister’s, um, daughter’s father, there’s probably a better way to say that, I’ll use names. So my friend’s name is Ryan Lee, and this other guy’s named Ryan Stokes. And his sister’s name is Brittany. So Brittany and Ryan Stokes had a baby together. And Ryan Stokes was murdered by the police in Kansas City.

Chanda Rule: Really?

Hermon Mehari: Yeah.

Chanda Rule: Wow.

Hermon Mehari: He was unarmed, leaving their daughter without a father. And it was really hard on my buddy, Ryan Lee’s family. I’m really close to, obviously. And, and then what’s even worse, like all the other cases that we’ve seen so, so much in the United [00:23:00] States, slap on the wrist for the police officer. I think he was put on a temporary leave, but he wasn’t discharged.

And it’s been a fight. It’s been a long fight to get justice for Ryan Stokes. Look up Ryan Stokes. It’s one of the cases you can find. And so all these protests were happening, and I was thinking about Ryan and his family.

And that’s why I wrote I Cry for our People, and it features Ryan on drums.

Chanda Rule: Okay. Okay. You know, it’s interesting for me also, as a singer and a writer, when you are writing pieces like this, what is your hope? Is it to bring awareness or, what is your hope? Everybody’s hope is different when we bring this to light through our music.

Hermon Mehari: I think that music is one of those things that can reach people that are maybe unreachable in other ways, and it can make them feel something when they wouldn’t feel something in another way.

And so that’s my hope is that[00:24:00] it affects… One, I mean, for all of us who they don’t necessarily quote, unquote need to be aware of this problem because we are aware of the problem. Like we live this problem, but you’ll still feel something for it. And I want people to feel something.

So regardless of where you are, I want you to feel it. I want you to feel something from it in an emotional way. I’d even say emotional, but emotional is one way you could feel it. But, yes, also in a more direct way of someone who is maybe on the fringe of an issue, like what’s happening with the police violence. And they ideally would hear something like this, something super, make them feel, in this case, would feel emotional, you know? ‘Cause, particularly, it’s a very somber song and it is emotional. In it there’s a cry in the sense that the trumpet is wailing, it’s crying.

It’s like you’re tugging at someone like, come on, like begging them, please feel something for us, you know? But, it just depends. [00:25:00] I wouldn’t say every song has this intention behind it. Right. But I do want everyone to feel something from my music. A lot of my contemporaries tend to write a little bit more cerebrally or, we could put that in other words, too complex, quote unquote. I have nothing against that.

I play that kind of stuff and I do that stuff. But at the base, I always want my music to, as it is instrumental music, I still want it to connect with people. And I always think about that.

Chanda Rule: Yeah, no, this is important. And even when you’re saying that, whether you’re connecting to it or whether you’re listening to it from the standpoint of someone who’s experiencing it more personally than others, I think it’s super important because what I notice is that there’s so many ways that we’re wired to disconnect, even if we’re in it. So either I know for me, like things get just too overwhelming and I’m like, okay, I can’t, or, and this is a more of an American issue is that you get bombarded with stuff so much that your brain starts to [00:26:00] melt it. It’s not as impactful anymore suddenly because that’s all you hear. That’s all you hear. That’s all you hear. And I don’t know if it’s a natural brain mechanism to dull it down so you can function. And there’s a danger in that. So, I do appreciate this call or this need from you as a creator to continue bringing light to it and continue to light up our emotions by listening.

So I have a question about vulnerability because there’s a lot of topics that you approached. And tell me about your process. Was this an easy process for you? Was it easy to create and put out or was there ever a moment of, man, I don’t know if I want everybody to know this part of me,

What was it like?

Hermon Mehari: It’s interesting because, so my initial intent for what I was creating, the album or whatever I was making, was to [00:27:00] create something for everyone who was going through all this and stuck at home and going through this really crazy time, create an album that really… you know, it’s for you all. And it developed as the things I was hearing naturally and how it conceptualize it, it became super personal. So, not to say that I was going for a feel- good thing, but the beginning was to give it out for free.

That’s just explain where it was coming from. As it became personal and I was writing this music, there’s two things about it that, I didn’t hesitate, but it was like a leap of faith in the sense that one, I had guests on the album almost. It was a back and forth process, making the album.

Chanda Rule: Really? I was wondering about that. Okay.

Hermon Mehari: So, I had my equipment, everything, so I could do all my stuff and all the production and the trumpet stuff, but then I was a lot of back and forth. But the thing about it is every song has [00:28:00] different people.

And so what happened at the end of it was that like, no one, no one other person, not even the people I was staying with cause I should further explain. So we had a house and then a barn next to the house and the barn was converted into like a visual artist studio, but there was a piano in there.

And so I took over the barn. That was my space. So even the people, no one, basically what I’m saying is no one had heard the album as a thing. The various musicians only heard a version of the song they were on. So they didn’t even hear the complete version of the song they did nor the other songs. And so I also mixed album. I could do mixing and stuff like that.

Chanda Rule: There is more!

Hermon Mehari: Yeah, I really, it became this thing. It was really personal. I wanted it to sound a certain way. I really did it all. So there was no one who heard it. So I was nervous. Conceptually, this is something like very different, sonically, it’s something [00:29:00] different.

I have all these songs, I conceptualized the songs together in a way, but they’re all different. I had to like really believe in it. I said, okay, I really believe they flow together really well, even though there’s different musicians. Every song’s a different style. I felt like it all flowed.

Well, I just had to really believe in it and I believe in every song in it without having any other kind of justification or validation from anybody. So it was a big moment for me when I put it up, it was a leap of faith.

Chanda Rule: Okay. Okay. But you did it. Did you pause for a second or did you procrastinate?

Hermon Mehari: No, I didn’t. Cause you know, I was putting so much work into it. I don’t care. I was like, okay, I have cold feet, but I’m doing it. I just jumped in.

Chanda Rule: Well, good for you. Cause I would’ve paused.

I would’ve paused. I would’ve paused big time.

Hermon Mehari: Oh yeah. I don’t know, I was putting everything I had [00:30:00] into it. Every day I was working on it for two months straight. It was like at the center of everything and the response was incredible. People were going nuts. I had really strong responses from people, really emotionally, really, really like it.

It wasn’t just like, oh, I liked your album. I’ll hear sometimes, oh yeah, that’s a great song or whatever. It was like, people had like things to say and were saying, I’m listening. Cause also it’s a very short album, on purpose. What I didn’t expect, which makes sense, but people said I listened to it over and over and over.

’cause, it was still like three times in an hour. Um, but I did that on purpose because I wanted, I want people to see it as a whole thing and to experience it all together. As what happens is these, especially if you have a very long album, someone might not sit down and listen to the whole thing.

Right? Like you’re going to listen to the whole thing, you know, like you’re not going to be like, oh, I’m not going to listen to [00:31:00] the last two, you know, you’re going to listen to the last couple of songs.

Chanda Rule: Okay. Yeah. Wow. No, you get the badge of courage, I will say.

Cause during the lockdown, I think I wrote some things that were extremely personal and I so procrastinated in sharing some of these lyrics and I felt completely naked singing some of them.

I just felt crazy singing them. And I think it’s taken me until this time to be able to sing them without cringing. Like, oh my God, everybody knows my business. But honestly, I’ve just had enough time to separate myself so it doesn’t feel as personal. But, I’m saying this because I’m learning and I continue, we all continue to learn through sharing ourselves in these ways. I learned a lot. And I’m wondering, what was your biggest takeaway in this process?

Hermon Mehari: My biggest takeaway was, if it’s pick one, is that I do really have to believe in myself and in my [00:32:00] voice and what I have to offer. Cause although I said I didn’t pause, but there was still lots of doubt. It wasn’t like I was doing it, and I was like… I believed in it to put it out, but there’s still, you’re like, is this any good?

I don’t know. You know what I mean? But believing in yourself also is, you know, I think it’s important just because, at least for me, it helps in my process when I’m writing something or conceptualizing something, that I should believe that I do have something to offer. It’s a simple thing, but it really makes a big difference.

Chanda Rule: Yeah. Yeah. It does. All right. Tell me this. I once had an advisor who would always tell me how important it is to have other loves, other things that we do. And this particular person, he was my advisor in seminary and he also had this background in like music and stage production.

But every year he would go and build boats, like this was his thing. And so I thought about that today with you, because you have other [00:33:00] loves and other passions, right? So we know you have a passion for language, your passion for running and for good cheese, for good food, and you said cooking. For some reason, I’m like, did I know that you like to cook?

I don’t think I knew that you like to cook.

Hermon Mehari: We really never talked about it, but it’s just an extension of my love for food in general.

Chanda Rule: Yeah. So tell us about, how did you get into it? How did you get into running? Because I don’t think you’ve been running for so long. A couple of years?

Hermon Mehari: Uh, I’ve been running for about three and a half or four max, but I think like three and a half years. In my life, I’ve had this relationship with running. I’d get into it for a few months. And let it go for a year, two years and then get into it for a few months.

And so the thing is, when I’m in a running phase, I’ve always felt like, okay, the physical benefits are great. I feel great. I do a run, I take a shower. I feel [00:34:00] amazing. But the mental aspect is so great. It’s like therapy, whether I run with a friend or run alone. When I run alone, I get my thoughts. It just helps release stress. But also I think through things, so many things, but also if I run with friends, we chat, we have conversations and it’s nice. But so about three years ago, I was, I was telling myself, okay, I love running, but like anything that’s super physical, it’s hard to get yourself motivated all the time.

And I said to myself, okay, I’m going on this tour. It was a six week tour.

And it was one of those tours where you’re moving every night.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

Hermon Mehari: And I told myself if I get up every morning and run, I can run forever. In the sense that I’ll be able to continue running as a thing that’s part of my life, which I wanted. I wanted it. And so I did, I got up, no matter what time lobby call was, I got up in the morning and went running and it didn’t matter how much.

[00:35:00] Sometimes it’s 15 minutes at most 20, usually never more than 30, but it was at the time. And I did it, and we were literally moving everywhere around Europe. I mean, we were all the way up at Tromso at Arctic Circle.

Chanda Rule: What? Okay. Wow. Okay.

Hermon Mehari: Turkey to Ireland to Switzerland to Spain, to…

Chanda Rule: Wow.

Hermon Mehari: Everywhere. And I was getting up in the morning and doing this.

Chanda Rule: Nice.

Hermon Mehari: And I continued even off the tour, I went to Napoli, I think for a month. And I, and it’s super hot in the summer, August. 30 degrees Celsius. I don’t know what that is in Fahrenheit, but it’s super hot.

I had to beat the sun and get out. And then I started adding time to my runs, you know, uh, I never did distance. I did time. I was always like, okay, now I’m doing 30 minutes a day. Now I’m doing 40 minutes a day. And now hour. And actually one day I ran to the base of Mount Vesuvius. That was one of my long runs, like this is [00:36:00] awesome.

Um, and it just became a part of my life in the sense that like now it becomes part of like when I travel, I run and I get to see the places that I’m going to. And it’s beautiful places. It’s a beautiful way to keep me balanced in my life, on the road. You could be on the road and you can easily feel unbalanced.

And I, and I feel you know, very balanced, equal, yeah. Equal- librated? I don’t. See, I don’t speak English anymore.

Chanda Rule: Calibrated? Are you? Actually, I like this word. What’d you say?

Hermon Mehari: I feel at equilibrium, how about that? Let’s say that.

Chanda Rule: Okay. All right. Okay.

Hermon Mehari: And then I started getting into the races and stuff and that’s cool because it’s given me objectives. It give me ways to kind of push myself with running and not stagnate with it.

And that’s been a journey and that’s been fun, too.

Chanda Rule: Yeah. I love your [00:37:00] sense of discipline and it’s interesting that when we started the conversation, when you were describing yourself, you said curious, because it seems like it all comes out of this sense of curiosity.

So you know, this question is for me, I know we’re coming close to 7:30 because like I said, I think I have challenges with discipline, but I’m very curious. So give me some tips because I know everyone is different, but there are certain things that I would like to be more disciplined about.

I don’t know. So for now I’ve been trying to take it easy. I can be disciplined for some months. And then for some months, my body’s just like, see what happens? You were too disciplined. Now we need to be not disciplined for three months, too. So, give me some tips or maybe that’s part of being disciplined.

I don’t know, but give me some tips on how to bring some easy ways. Where can I start with bringing some more discipline into my life?

Hermon Mehari: Well, with discipline, it’s an interesting thing because discipline means you do it whether you want to [00:38:00] or not. Like I should say, whether you’re feeling it or not. So on the whole, you want to do it. Easy example is just like, sometimes you don’t feel like running, like you want to run, you know it’s good for you. You know you should. I’m at the point I’m like addicted to it, right? Like I’ve done it for so long now that I’m addicted to it. But I think what it is is the establishment of habits.

And when we establish a habit, you basically need to make it as easy as possible to do. You need to reduce resistance. For example, if for whatever reason, well, you have no problem doing this by now, but if you wanted to wake up early in the morning, for me, for instance, I actually, I did this. I’ll tell you this, that I can explain. I can talk for my, from my, there was a period where I really wanted to wake up early in the morning, super early. And one of the things I love in the morning is to make coffee and have coffee.

And I do. And so I needed to reduce the resistance to be making coffee because that [00:39:00] serves as my reward. So you’re reducing resistance to your reward this case. And so what did I do? I did, I basically did mise en place for my coffee. Like, meaning like everything was ready for my coffee to be made.

I make it a certain way. Basically everything was just ready. And so as soon as that alarm hit, I go up and go, boom, boom, coffee starts being ready. And just that simple little, like I said, reducing resistance as opposed to be having to grab the cup [gestures]. It sounds very minute, but it’s like, that was enough over time to make it easy for me to get up and make waking up early as a habit. So yeah, that’s just one example.

Chanda Rule: Wait, say that again. You said reducing resistance and creating a reward. Is that what you said?

Hermon Mehari: Yeah. You need a reward, right? It’s like, dopamine or whatever. It’s the opposite of breaking a habit. You would increase resistance when you break a habit, right? You want to make it harder for yourself to do whatever. I don’t know, [00:40:00] not buy a cigarette, you know, and it’s easy. But in the States they made it harder and harder for people to get the cigarettes.

They make them more expensive. These are tactics to get people to stop smoking. Just make it a little bit harder for people. That’s the idea. To break a habit, you have to increase the resistance to the thing. So that being said, I think maybe the bigger thing is to be more specific about how you want to be disciplined. Instead of just saying, I want to be more disciplined, you have to get down to the nitty gritty and say, well, okay, I want to be disciplined about this and this is what I need to do to do this. It needs to be very, very specific.

Chanda Rule: Okay. Okay. This is great. I have some pictures of some things in my head. I do. Yeah. Well, this was great. Oh my gosh. There was so many things that I wanted to ask that I didn’t get to. So that means I’m going to have to have you back and talk more about your teaching philosophies and practicing and stuff.

I find that very [00:41:00] fascinating. Um, so, listen, you all, please check out Hermon’s music. He has a lot of music out on all the platforms on all the iTunes and Amazons and Spotify. Hermon Mehari and I will have the correct spelling of his name in the show notes. You can also find him on social media, but not right now, right?

Hermon Mehari: Not right now.

Chanda Rule: Okay. You’re taking a little break.

Hermon Mehari: A little break. So my Instagram page isn’t even there. But, it will be back.

Chanda Rule: Okay. Okay. @KCTrumpeter, right? That’s everything. YouTube, Instagram, Twitter.

Hermon Mehari: I try to do it all the same. KC as in Kansas City. That’s it, KC.

Chanda Rule: Okay. Hermon, thank you so much. I just so enjoy chatting with you. And I look forward to the next time.

Hermon Mehari: Yes, you too.

Chanda Rule: Take care.

Hermon Mehari: Ciao ciao.