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Ari Halbkram is an entertainment and business brand consultant, A&R manager, podcaster, filmmaker, and writer. Visit his site to learn more.

On Gratitude, Ep. 3: From the Battlefield to the Streets of Philadelphia with Keith Martin

My friend Keith is one of the most singularly unique folks I’ve ever met. He’s kind, generous, thoughtful and considerate of all of the people in his life. He’s also strongly opinionated, eager to challenge authority and the status quo, and sometimes never happier then when he’s stirring the pot. There have been countless times where Keith has commingled with my friends and family, and the number of instances where I was impressed by his contributions and inspired by his openness easily match or slightly exceed the number of times I’ve laughingly told him to behave and have stifled my own laughter at his remarkably funny and often inappropriate responses. 

He’s silly and compassionate, whimsical and challenging, but his character is unassailable, which is perhaps his most enigmatic quality. I think few people have gotten the chance to know him the way I do, and that made it especially important to me to have Keith on early in the series. 

I say this because off-mic and on social media, Keith can be tough. What he says, and how he says it, especially when it comes to politics and current events…it can be provocative. As I said a moment ago, Keith enjoys stirring the pot, so there can sometimes be a very fine line that separates exactly how Keith feels about something, and his desire to provoke a reaction. I think this high-wire balancing act can be both constructive and perhaps occasionally self-defeating, because on one hand, it encourages folks - me, especially - to step out from their comfort zone. On the other hand, I think people only see this one side of Keith, when there are so many other facets that are beautifully humanistic, immensely caring and tremendously impactful. When Keith does or says something to benefit the world around him, it often ripples out with generous and far-reaching implications, which is what we cover in a large part of our conversation.We also discuss Keith’s time in the military, with a story that goes back to the early 90s when he was involved the Battle of Mogadishu - one of the deadliest foreign interventions in American history. 

I felt it was truly important to capture this story in Keith’s own words, not just because it opens the doorway to discussing and experiencing gratitude, but also because I think it’s crucial that we remember how densely complicated a life can be. At his most challenging, Keith is very critical of the government and political double-speak, which isn’t hard to understand when it comes from someone who was placed into a dangerous and costly incursion by poor political decision making.

Ultimately, I wanted to have this chat with Keith because there are many lessons to learn from this complex person who I’m lucky enough to call one of my best friends. 

Here now is a discussion with friend, my confident, my older brother, military veteran Keith Martin.