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107: Listening x Creativity: Drew Marshall, 3-Month Vow of Silence

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Today’s guest has a very interesting life story. Here’s the abridged version: Drew Marshall was adopted, grew up in a funeral home, dropped out of school in Grade 9 and ran away to California to be a wrangler. He traveled around North America volunteering for charities and tried to be a firefighter and a rodeo cowboy. Drew was a stay at home dad, he’s worked a little in film and TV, became a Pastor in Australia, studied standup comedy and improv at Second City Toronto… and so much more. Drew also hosted The Drew Marshall Show, Canada‘s most listened to spiritual talk radio talk show for 16 years, having interviewed hundreds of celebrities about their beliefs or lack thereof. He’s interviewed the likes of Kristin Chenoweth, Alice Cooper, James Brown, Larry King, Chuck Norris, Rainn Wilson and Deepak Chopra. He’s currently under contract with a major publisher to write a book about it all.

What Drew and I will be chatting about today is his three month vow of silence as he traveled along the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St James); a nearly 1000 km walk in northwestern Spain. In our conversation Drew shares what led him to walk 1000 km in silence (what he calls ‘accidental intentionality’), his insights about the importance of asking questions as a precursor to listening and why his vow of silence gave everyone involved permission to dive below surface level in conversations. Drew shares a powerful story about what happens when we make assumptions, including how listening can open our hearts and minds to receiving new people and new experiences. Finally, Drew explains the way in which life slowed down when he went silent, how silence affected his creativity and his approach to ‘chasing the why’.

A lot can happen when we intentionally say nothing; when we listen more and speak less. Allow me to share one of my favourite kids books that demonstrates the power of silence in the presence of others to help preface this episode.

Over to you, Drew. Let’s listen in…


Inspired by Drew’s efforts, I took my own teeny tiny vow of silence, the day after our conversation. While mine only lasted about eight hours, I did manage to get to the zoo with my kids during that time. I definitely slipped up a few times, accidentally breaking the vow while interacting with my kids (“Who’s stinky?” and “big fat squirrel” were two of my slip-ups). I learned a lot during the short time.

For example, I learned that time slows down when I stop talking. It felt like there was nowhere to go and nothing to prove. The speediness that so often dictates my days temporarily vanished. My typical desire for inputs was almost nonexistent. This included very little desire to look at social media or watch TV or listen to music. I simultaneously had no desire to work (which is unusual for me), while also having huge creative flow in an uninterrupted divergent stage of creative ideation. Pages and pages of thoughts and ideas and action items became louder when I quieted my voice. I kissed my kids more. It was a really interesting few hours.

I invite you to practice your own vow of silence. Whether for an hour a day or a month, I can guarantee that you will learn something when you shift the focus from talking to strictly listening.

If you have others in your life that rely on you and therefore the challenge seems unrealistic, your vow of silence could mean only speaking when spoken to for a period of time, refraining from prompting discussion. Or it could mean listening only to someone else’s story and concerns. Just listening. Being there for them and showing up to listen to what they have to say without actively needing to solve anything or giving unsolicited advice. Happy listening.

About Our Guest:

DREW WHO? Since 2003, Drew Marshall has talked to everyone about whatever it is they believe, in a very light-hearted manner and with absolutely zero agenda, aside from a genuine personal curiosity to understand “belief”. Drew was adopted, grew up in a funeral home, survived a teenage suicide attempt, dropped out of school in Grade 9, ran away to California to be a wrangler, played semi-pro football with NFL/CFL tryouts, drove around North America volunteering for charities, tried to be a firefighter & a rodeo cowboy, was a stay at home dad, has worked a little in film and TV, became a Pastor in Australia and studied stand-up comedy & improv at Second City Toronto. These days he’s a hospital chaplain and hosts Canada’s most listened to spiritual talk show. He’s interviewed hundreds of celebrities & cultural icons about their beliefs or lack thereof. Struggling with his own faith, Drew sacrificed his eyesight for the last week of Lent, paid non-believers to go to church, drank with witches, celebrated with Wiccans, visited with Satanists, walked 1000 KM’s on the Camino de Santiago, then spent time writing in a monastery on an island off the coast of the Western Sahara during a three month vow of silence. Basically, he’s “Red Letter”, wandering, autodidactic iconoclast with agnostic tendencies and a microphone - a skeptical believer on an irreverent search for the sacred!

Music: Drop by Ketsa, licensed with permission from the Independent Music Licensing Collective -

Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle

Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo by Alex on Unsplash

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