LeaderImpact Podcast

Ep 50 - Joe Dipenta - Hockey, Faith and Transformation

January 24, 2024 LeaderImpact Episode 50
LeaderImpact Podcast
Ep 50 - Joe Dipenta - Hockey, Faith and Transformation
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

As a young athlete, chasing the dream of professional sports glory seems like the highest peak to conquer — but what happens after the cheering stops? Former NHL player Joe Dipenta joins us to share his journey far beyond the hockey arena, where grit, faith, and transformation play the starring roles. Joe's story is one of triumphs, pitfalls, and the relentless pursuit of personal growth. Join us on this compelling journey, where faith and identity collide with the joy of a life well-played.

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Speaker 2:

Welcome to the Leader Impact Podcast. We are a community of leaders with a network in over 350 cities around the world, dedicated to optimizing our personal, professional and spiritual lives to have impact. This show is where we have a chance to listen and engage with leaders who are living this out. We love talking with leaders, so if you have any questions, comments or suggestions to make this show even better, please let us know. This way to stay connected in Canada is through our newsletter at LeaderImpactca or on social media at LeaderImpact. If you're listening from outside of Canada, check out our website at LeaderImpactcom. I'm your host, lisa Peters, and our guest today is Joe DePenta. Joe was the first hockey player to bring the Stanley Cup back to his hometown of Colharbor, nova Scotia, in 2007, as a member of the Anaheim Ducks, two years before Crosby did in 2009. At the time, he was part of a select group of 150 players who have won both the Stanley Cup and the Calder Cup, the championship trophy for the American Hockey League. During his hockey career, he also played for the Philadelphia Flyers, atlanta Thrasher's, vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres organizations. After graduating from California State University, joe moved home to pursue a career in nonprofit working for organizations he is passionate about. Joe now resides in Dartmouth, nova Scotia, with his wife, jessica, and 11-year-old daughter Chloe. Joe coaches his daughter's hockey team and volunteers his time at several local charities. Professionally, joe is an EOS implementer, working with entrepreneurial leaders to give them more control over their businesses. Welcome to the show, joe.

Speaker 1:

Thanks, lisa, it's great to be here.

Speaker 2:

That's funny. When I say welcome to the show, it's like you made the big show. Welcome to the show.

Speaker 1:

This is the big show.

Speaker 2:

I used to hear that as a kid. You know all the hockey players. They all wanted the big show.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I had experienced the show.

Speaker 2:

You did so. Did you actually, and I apologize, I think you played in the Stanley Cup.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I won the Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Ducks.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I think that is a very low percentage of players that ever get that opportunity and then never actually get to win.

Speaker 1:

It's something like 2% of NHL players win the Stanley Cup. So if you then extrapolate that, overall hockey players across Canada it's in the hundreds of thousands, I think, of all the players that lay some up get to win the Stanley Cup. So pretty small odds. I was in the right place at the right time and lots of great hockey players never won the Stanley Cup and you're kind of like, wow, that's pretty surreal.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that is a great feat, congratulations. So we're looking for a bit of your professional story and how you got to where you are today, so we're just wondering if you can share a couple of snapshots that were pivotal turning points in your journey.

Speaker 1:

Sure In my hockey career, or faith journey, or does it work? I think, in your hockey career.

Speaker 2:

I'd love to hear some of those. Or just because, and then you, ultimately you're a in EOS implementer. But I mean, we love hockey, we're from Canada, excellent.

Speaker 1:

Okay, yeah, yeah. So when I was, I had a pretty easy until I turned professional. And I say easy, it wasn't easy. I had to put a lot of training and dedication that went into the sport, but easy from the perspective that I didn't face a lot of adversity Things. I pretty much made every team that I wanted to and had success and was drafted to the NHL and and and was able to any new team I joined. I was quickly able to gain the confidence of the coaches and my teammates. When I turned professional in 2000,. In 2000, the year 2000, it was I was now on a team that had older players that were in their 30s and spread of ages, a number of players that were more talented than I was, and so it was just that it was a. It was a challenging year and I remember I had a coach that is a defense coach and he didn't. He was like a little bit adversarial when I around being around him and and I'd come off the ice and he'd make these comments and and I felt like he was didn't like me and I observed some of the behaviors and it was, it was just uncomfortable. And then I had this dynamic with an older team that they I was this new rookie and they didn't. It was like there was a barrier there to like a treat me like I was a rookie and then and there was other rookies on the team as well, it was a very it was. It was. It was difficult and I remember that I got some advice that I should just start meeting with that coach and having one on one meetings and just win him over. He like he loved video, so I started watching video with him after practice and I started to see my play pick up and then by the end of the year when I improved my performance, he was my biggest advocate and I. It was a good lesson for me in part of that year. Another lesson was my the first game I played. I got my nose broken in a fight and I had a bad experience fighting in junior, where I didn't win a fight. In the next day in the papers my picture was in the front page of the sports section that said those hands were made for fighting. I was very embarrassed and it was my own, and so I had this fear of getting embarrassed fighting. And so three months went by in my first pro career year pro and I remember my mother came to visit and she said she asked me if things were going. And she said, joe, how are things? And I looked at her and I thought what she was. She'd give me some sympathy and say, you know, I was going to tell her how it was a difficult season and how the coaches wanted me to fight. And I thought, I thought what you would say is you know, joey, you just, you hang tight and at the end of the year you come home and we'll take care of it, don't worry. And what she said to me, I said, well, mom, they want me to fight. And she said, well, I guess you better start fighting then. And then, two games later, I was in my second pro fight and I actually won and won the fight. And I realized that it was I was, I had overcome the fear and it really wasn't as bad as I was building it up to be in my mind. And then after that, I was fine, I was able to break through and my performance went up, my confidence went up and that was really overcoming those two barriers where it was a difference for me playing one year professional and then or 11 and winning a Stanley Cup, so that was that's. The biggest adversity I faced was in that first year pro.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So going back to your mom, because I am a mom of a hockey player and I think if he ever fought I would like pass out, but your mom was she your biggest advocate.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, my mom and dad, both, you know dad, drove me to the ring more than Monday and which mom is at every game and they're both big advocates still in my life and and so, but mom, yeah, she was. She, you know, ironically, when I was 12 years old and I was in a bit of a disagreement on the ice, she, she was next to the bench and in the stands and it was a close, you know, quarter rink and I was like this and I had cocked my fist and I was going to punch the person that that I was in the disagreement with, and she yelled from the stands to such an extent that it stopped me in my tracks and it everyone looked at her from both benches and and so the irony was, is that you know that that formed me in that year, and then I kind of refrained that anger and her mist, it, and and then she was the one that said now you have permission, go ahead it's.

Speaker 2:

It's okay, now you're playing professional in your, your, your grown up and and that's just part of the game, so yeah, I remember one time my son was playing and he lost the game and he skated off the ice, like the whole team skated off the ice. And when he like, I think when, as soon as it got out of the dressing room, I gave him one of the. You will win with grace and you will lose, lose with grace. And the next time you will shake hands, and I don't care if your team doesn't, and I was just, you know, and I made him cry. He was young and and he never forgot that. He shook hands and it, you know, he never forgot it. And recently I I lost an election in municipal and I had to lose with grace and my mind went right to that moment that I had with my son when he was 10. Oh, you know, and, and he was there, he like, when the election results came in, my son was right there, he's 18 now. I had to lose with grace. Oh, mother's words. So we talk a little bit about the principles of success and I was wondering if you could give us your best principle of success and tell us a story that illustrates this.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely. I think my, the principle on one of my, my values is humility, and the game of hockey is a great game. I believe it's the greatest game I've ever experienced. I'm biased, of course, and I bet. I played a lot of games and for me, hockey is the best game because it reinforces humility over and over again. You, you can play, you can be the best team on paper and get on the ice. In a team with with a lot less skill, can be to pretty pretty easily If you're not on top of your game. So it reinforced this idea of you have to respect your opponent and and bring it every single game if you want to have success. And then, as as an individual on a team, in order for you to play, for me, to play my best, I had to bring in every game as well in terms of preparation, and so that was instilled in me, and so preparation is huge and and humility was. It was a big part of that. And I remember I had a coach early on in my career and I say career, I was like eight, nine, ten years old and it was our team manager actually, and he was like a second father to me, my, he was a mentor to my dad and he he recognized that I had an ability that was unique in the game hockey, and he pointed it out and he was cautioning my father and and then Hence I got the, the messaging through my through him, through my dad. But they, they remember my parents sat me down and said Joe, you're good, we think you're a really good player. And it was just like an unusual conversation. I still remember and you know many conversations I forget this one I remember from all those years back and they sat me down and they say you're a really good player, but one thing that we want you to avoid, or trap to avoid, is to be Overconfident and to think that you're better than others. And they they had seen that other than other players that had ability, and they said that that would be Not a good thing for you to go down that path. And so that conversation just really reinforced the the humility is important and then I've carried that Throughout my playing career and that led to success and I think it's a form of a part, of a necessity to have success and to be Coachable and like the situation where I was having that difficulty with fighting and having overcome that obstacle. If I didn't have humility and if I wasn't coachable, then I never would have broke through that barrier. I never would even got as far as I did if I did wasn't coachable. So I see it all the time in leadership.

Speaker 2:

That.

Speaker 1:

I in what I do now. If somebody isn't coachable and they don't have the, if they're missing something and when they get the time gets tough like they, they just don't make it. And I had a Conversation with somebody this morning actually about that, where I'm trying to encourage them and say you got to lean into your mentor and your coach and rely on them. But the top, the moment you start to try to manage their expectations and You're not being totally humble and open and honest with them and you're you're trying to manage how they think you're doing, you're gonna lose them and you're in trouble. So it's it's better just to say I don't know what I'm doing in this situation. I know your help and people will invest into you and they want that honesty. But so I think that's that humility is really Something I carry and people have commented to me that that's what they see and when they, when they work with me and and that's and I want to work with people to value that. Otherwise we really kind of don't align.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I was having a conversation today about coaching and you know we were, and I think there was a reference and I but coaching the athlete, coaching the corporate athlete, like you need to be coached. We forget you know all our lives, I mean yourself, you had a coach and and then we get into the corporate world and we'd like I'll do it on my own, you know, and so I appreciate the reference there. That was really good. So this is about failures and mistakes, because I think we learn more from our failures and mistakes than we do from our successes. So I'm wondering if you can share, maybe If you had a failure, if you had a mistake, and what you learned from it and you know how it actually probably was a success in your life.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, a failure. You know I think I fail. Marriage is probably the hardest thing I've ever done and I've been. We've been married for 18 years and I'm always being refined through my relationship with Jessica and I Don't know I I've made mistakes, I've failed. I've Nick been, not even I've been blind to to, to how I've treated my wife and treated Jessica in different times and I think one of my, one of my biggest Learnings is that I failed at putting her and helping her feel and actually actually putting her first Above career and when I was a hockey player, that was my my god was hockey and that was before I became a Christian, and then my god became my god, but then, arguably, hockey and god were I not sure. I'm not sure who. Which one was honestly, which one was first probably a hockey and and, and then my wife was like third and and so she, she Powered through that and and was stuck by my side throughout all those years, thinking that after my hockey career was over that it would change. Mm-hmm and it didn't. All I did was put another idol in place, and what I've learned is that our hearts are programmed to worship and if we don't, if we do not put God first and worship him, him alone will replace it with something else, will replace it with a career, money, power, advice, and it's not healthy and we will not get peace. We will not. We will not, we will not be blessed in what we're doing, and and it won't benefit us or anyone else around us, and so it hurt my relationship with Jessica. So I had made that mistake and now my mantra has been about just every day, grinding myself you reap what you sow. If you reap sparingly, you so sparingly, are you so sparingly? You reap sparingly, and the opposite of that. And so if I'm not investing time, energy and thought into my relationship with my wife and how she's thinking and feeling, I can't expect that I'm going to so abundantly. And that's what I've learned. And just, I haven't done a, I made a mistake, and that's what I learned from it, and so it's been, and I was completely blind to it. Even though I would hear it, it just wouldn't sink in. So that's probably the biggest mistake. Failure is through that relationship and that's why God uses our marriages to refine us and grow our character.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, now you, I love the reap what you sow. I just used that last week and I mean something like sales. If you don't go out there and keep going after sales and keep going, they'll never sow. Nothing, like you got to go and you got to keep sewing to actually reap, and if you don't sow, there's no reap. But anyway, I want to ask you about where you were when you found your faith. So earlier I had asked you about a pivotal moment and you had said you know which one do you want to talk about? We talked about your professional. So where were you in? I mean, it sounds like you were done hockey, I think. But tell us, where was that for you? And that was a pivotal moment, I think.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so when I was playing, I was still playing hockey. I was playing. It was my fifth year. I had started my career and professional career and played on a number of teams and I had my second season. So my first season I had just I tried to do everything I could to fit in with the team I mentioned. I was some struggles and I was doing everything I could to fit in and survive. And then in my second and I felt like I did that, I felt like I accomplished that, that I finally fit in, but I was. I was not living a life that I was proud of, like there was drinking, there was womanizing going to the like, just I didn't like who I was anymore and it was like a I just it was a, just a bad I was. I was influenced and I accepted it and I did everything I could to fit in and it was. I didn't like who I was and I had a. I had a friend, a teammate, that joined the team and he ended up becoming my roommate that year and he was a Christian and he said I when I remember just coming up a conversation like, are you going to come over this? Are you going to go to the bar Are you going to do, or were this what we're doing? And he was like you know, I'll come, but I don't drink. And you know he was, he wasn't judgy, he didn't like preach, and he and I said, well, why? And he said, well, I'm a Christian. And I was like I remember thinking to myself, well, who cares? Like why did what does that matter? Like I'm like I go to church at Christmas, like what's the what's the deal? Big deal. And that was my honest thoughts, and I had and it really irritated me, though, and it really it struck a nerve because I pride it I grew up going to church on Sundays and, better than I, I worshiped the God of hockey and so he lived with me and it was a really positive witness to me. And then I had a couple of other Christian teammates over the next seasons and and I had one teammate that was playing on my team and then went off to another team and then became a Christian and came back and I was like he was different, a different person, a different creation. And I remember thinking like, why did why? What is this Christian thing all about? I thought I was already there and clearly I'm not. And and then I kept going down that path, worshiping the God of hockey, and it was just unfulfilling. I was unhappy. It was, I was not, it was just unhappy. And and I felt empty. And I I remember going to some chapels with the team and I started to get connected with some of the ministry folks that were coming alongside us that believed that God had put him, that God had called him to help hockey players, thankfully, and we, we, I just said one day I said I don't want to do this anymore, I just want to give up control. And it was in 2004. And I was 26 years old and I just said, god, if you're real and I believe God was real but I said I'm going to try Jesus out and really, you know, make him and pray that prayer. And I started to read and I just said I'm going to surrender my hockey career. I'm tired of trying to do it on my own strength and it's just beat me down and I'm just, it's just too hard. And I surrendered and I said God, I don't care if I don't play hockey next year, I'm okay with it. And I'm I'm, I meant it, I'm done with that, whatever you decide, and I truly believe that it would be my last year, and so I the pressure, I felt this weight lift off me and I played the rest of the season and I played well and and that was my faith, that's what things changed. And then the that's when my NHL career started was the next season, but it was yeah.

Speaker 2:

Wow, that's a good pivot. That's a good story. I love. I appreciate you sharing the feeling, the emotions. I mean you felt empty and you didn't know why, or you did. I mean it was you'd put up, you'd put hockey as your God. I mean I get it as your God. And that switch and it's like I give up, like what do you want to do with me? And you put you in the NHL.

Speaker 1:

You know it's a lot of burden to let go off, yeah yeah, it's a lot of burden, and God gives us desires of our heart and and I felt like it was like, see, I Would have had, you would have been here sooner if you had a, if it hadn't been, if you hadn't been so stubborn. You know, and, and it was, it was a lesson. It was like that freedom and so, you know, recently going through a similar situation, were not similar in like the actual sense, but similar in that I was trying to control a situation and Make it happen on my own, and when I surrendered it, and continuously surrender it, the door start opening, whereas before they're closing. And it was a similar situation where I had to relearn the lesson again, but I didn't take me as long, and and and I'm able to look and say, okay, I'm trying to control this and so Just let it go. And if God is God's will, it's will, it's not, it's not accepted, and and so having to surrender and Resurrender on a daily basis.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I had a. My last podcast was with Dr Rana Mustafa and we talked about that transition of, of the pivot, and when something happens and you, just you know how to like it happens, you know things happen and you, you know you have to pivot out of it or good or bad. And that transition you get better at it, you get, you recognize it and you can, you know quick, more quickly, say, okay, god, what I let go. So I appreciate that At leader impact we we want to grow professionally, personally and spiritually For increasing impact. Would you be willing to share an example of how the spiritual makes a practical difference in your life as a leader?

Speaker 1:

oh, For sure. If I'm, you know, I think God will. God refines me in my quiet time, when I, when I make the quiet time every day in prayer and listening to what he's calling me to do, and and Asking God, you know, how can I take care of you today? What are the things that that Whatever's coming down the pipe today? What? What can I do to take care of your needs, knowing that he's gonna take care of mine abundantly and I just need to get out of my own way for that. So, focusing on him and Though what that does for me as a leader is, I get to see things in a different lens. Throughout the day, we see where people might need some encouragement or they might be hurting or how I can help them, and the situation yesterday where there's a Leader that I was working with and a team environment and I could tell there's like a disconnect for him in terms of that role, and and then there's a, there's a somebody else that's there that I know gets it and wants to invest in that individual and and and helping him connect the dots that your, this is your gift here. This is your. This is how you're gonna make it through this season and have success, and so I'm like God wanted me to clarify for that for him, because I've had that same experience and You'll be shared and invest and share that with somebody else. So it's it's, it's definitely being grounded and God, okay, what you've got, you plan today and and you plan yesterday, so I could be prepared for today and and having that lens helps me to become a stronger leader and and have empathy for others and at the other day, god is love, and and, and, and, and, and. When I can see it through God's eyes and to be able to love others and let let him work through me, that's I'm always gonna show up as a better leader for others and and and that. And that doesn't mean that I've got it all figured out. I am a, I'm a broken person, I I try to do, I, I'm, I'm surrendering daily and trying to get it on my own way, but it's Whenever I can make time and have him refine me in the mornings before my day starts, and I can get into that mindset. I'm a much stronger leader because he's, he's worked on my heart at the start of the day and and it's, it's a, it's a, it's a better starting point for me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I love that. We definitely have to get out of our own way, so I have to ask you your so with the EOS, the entrepreneurial operating system? This is a program that is sort of is well, is nationwide, I would think like it's. So are you, would you? I'm not sure how to phrase this question, but Because I know there's Christian coaches, I Wouldn't say that EOS doesn't come off as that. You are, though, so Do you ever have anyone that you know back off, back off on religion? I know I had a coach and they weren't. And they said something like if you believe in that stuff, and I was like you know what, we're not a good fit. And then the next one was all about my faith. So I just more. My question is does anyone ever go? Whoa?

Speaker 1:

Most of my clients are not professing Christians. I have some that are, and God has drawn me some of my clients that are professing Christians and I feel like he's called all of the clients I work with to me. I don't feel like any of them are by accident, and the doors that have closed are ones that never were really a good fit to begin with, and so I believe that to be true, that there's a reason why God has called me these individuals, for whatever reason. So that's the. But I haven't had anyone say you know, we're not, we're not or putting down my faith. I haven't had anyone put down faith, and so it's. I would say most of them know that I'm a Christian and know that I'm, or religious as they would probably describe it, and because I don't think I'm religious, I believe I'm a follower of Christ and I don't associate with, like I'm a hard, you know this denomination or that denomination, as I'm a Christian and and and I'm not, but you often get put in that religious category. But no, that's that's kind of, and God draws them all to me and opens the doors that he wants to have opened and the ones he wants to close, and I usually find out after meeting them that, oh yeah, this is why they're a good fit for me, because this is, this is where they're at and this is, and this will, be a good relationship. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

It's a great answer. Thank you for answering that. I have two questions left. These are some basic questions I ask all our guests. Leader impact is dedicated to leaders having a lasting impact. So, as you continue to move through your own journey, have you considered what you want your faith legacy to be when you leave this world? Yeah, I have.

Speaker 1:

My legacy I'd like to leave is around generosity and to have to have been generous with my, my time, talent and treasure. I guess that's the talent, the parable of the talents, but that that really that's what I want to use my time, talent and treasure to to for, for eternity, blessings and eternity for building up treasure in heaven. That would be my, that's what I would want to leave as a legacy, whether that's financially speaking, of money that God entrusted with me that I use to help help others through ministry, or or what I've learned, too, is when, when, when I give, it's, it could be an answered prayer for somebody that prayed for that, and they receive and then they thank God, and God is he uses it to build their faith and confidence. So, like it's, that is another way that God will use our finances to bless, and in ways that I'm sure I don't even. I won't even realize until I'm in heaven what that would look like. But that's really what I want to be legacy is just how can I use my time, talent and treasure to, to, to, to build up eternal treasure?

Speaker 2:

It's really good. And the last question is what brings you the greatest joy?

Speaker 1:

Greatest joy. It's a. It's a good question. I think worship is one of my favorite activity. I mean that that might be a really corny Christian thing to say, but it but it's. I'll say that and then I'll answer something else as well, but that that is I love to worship is is just awesome, and then the second and for people who don't know what, what, what do you mean by that? Yeah, okay. So worship for me is singing and being in a, in a group of whether it's a church or at a, a concert, a faith praise and worship night, that sort of thing Like I love to, to worship with other believers and just be free to worship and not feel self conscious. The other, the other favorite, my other thing that brings me joy would be to watch my daughter play hockey. I'd love to watch her team play and I'm very competitive still through that lens of wanting us to win, but having to be a good sport and be humble when we lose, yeah, but I love to win. That brings me a lot of joy, and so watching her play hockey is very satisfying and so that's a joy. And I love doing the work I do too. I love to be able to when I can see teams grow and make progress and have have wins, and to me that that's very fulfilling, brings me a lot of joy and satisfaction when I can use my talents and time and energy to to positively impact other people and they appreciate it. So bringing value, I think, to other people gives me a lot of joy.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that was a great answer. It's been a great half hour, joe. I appreciate you just taking the time and just sharing with us. There was some really great answers, simple, and I'm, I'm, I'm thankful I'm always thankful to show up here. I love it. If anybody wants to reach out to you, if they or engage with you, what is the best way?

Speaker 1:

Through LinkedIn would would probably be the most effective or on my microsite, through the EOS Worldwide or my email and contact form. You can reach out to me there and that message will come direct to my inbox. So through my microsite on EOS EOS Worldwide if you Google my name, you could easily find it or through Connecting with Me on LinkedIn.

Speaker 2:

Awesome, linkedin's easy and we will find you. Joe, just thank you again for sharing the last half hour with us.

Speaker 1:

Okay, thanks, lisa.

Speaker 2:

All right. Well, if you're part of Leader Impact, you can always discuss or share this podcast with your group. And if you are not yet part of Leader Impact and would like to find out more and grow your leadership, find our podcast page on our website at leaderimpactca and check out our free leadership assessment. You'll also find on our webpage Chapter 1 of Braden Douglas's book Becoming a Leader of Impact. You can also check out groups available in Canada at leaderimpactca or, if you're listening from anywhere else in the world, check out leaderimpactcom or get in touch with us by email. Info at leaderimpactca and we will connect you. And if you like this podcast, please leave us a comment, give us a rating or review. This will help other global leaders find our podcast. Thank you for engaging with us and remember Impact starts with you.

Hockey Player's Journey to Success
Lessons From Failures and Finding Faith
Finding Faith and Letting Go
Clients, Faith Legacy, and Joy