MrBallen - Navy SEAL To True Crime: Insane Stories Of Courage, Fear & Resilience (4K)

MrBallen - Navy SEAL To True Crime: Insane Stories Of Courage, Fear & Resilience (4K)

From Navy SEAL to Storyteller (00:00:00)

  • John Allen, also known as MrBallen, transitioned from being a Navy SEAL to telling true crime stories on the internet.
  • He experimented with social media content after leaving the military and struggled to find his footing as a civilian.
  • He tried various content styles, including sketch comedy, but they didn't gain traction.
  • MrBallen stumbled upon the story of the Dyatlov Pass incident, a famous unsolved case involving missing hikers in the 1950s.
  • He created a 60-second TikTok video about the Dyatlov Pass incident while at a water park with his family.
  • The video unexpectedly went viral, garnering millions of views within a few hours.
  • MrBallen continued creating true crime content, leading to the birth of his successful YouTube channel.
  • MrBallen's original username was John B Allen 416, which was often misread as "MrBallen."
  • People started respectfully addressing him as "MrBallen" in messages seeking advice about becoming a Navy SEAL.
  • He embraced the name and officially adopted it when his John B Allen TikTok account got shadowbanned.

Why People Love Gruesome True Crime (00:04:14)

  • People enjoy being scared in a controlled environment.
  • MrBallen's comforting and conversational storytelling style creates a sense of relatability and security for viewers.
  • True crime has become a popular genre, with podcasts like Serial and Project Manhunt gaining significant attention.
  • True crime stories offer the excitement of fiction with the added intensity of real-life events.
  • Women may be drawn to true crime as a protective strategy, learning from the experiences of others to avoid potential dangers.
  • Evolutionary psychology suggests that this fascination could be rooted in women's need for self-protection.

The Best Story MrBallen Has Ever Told (00:07:24)

  • Mitch, a college football player, experienced a head injury during a game, causing him to lose consciousness briefly.
  • During those few seconds, his brain created an entire life for him, including a wife, children, and a house.
  • Mitch believed this imagined life was real and was unaware it was a product of his injury.
  • After regaining consciousness and learning the truth, Mitch experienced profound grief and psychological distress due to the loss of his imagined family.
  • He shared his story through a Reddit AMA to convey the emotional impact of losing a family that never existed.

Living a Double Life in a Coma (00:18:56)

  • Paul Evans, a former party boy, fell into a coma due to severe pancreatitis.
  • While in the coma, he experienced a vivid and detailed alternate life in Singapore.
  • In his dream world, he had a job, a routine, and even experienced the death of his father.
  • His real-life father witnessed him crying in the hospital bed, possibly sensing his emotional distress in the dream.
  • Paul eventually became trapped within the virtual reality simulation and struggled to find a way out.
  • After days of being trapped, he managed to escape the simulation and wake up from the coma.
  • Despite the emotional toll, Paul considers the near-death experience as a way for his brain to cope and protect itself during the coma.

Developing a Storytelling Style (00:22:56)

  • MrBallen's storytelling style is influenced by his family of professional writers and storytellers, emphasizing delivery and audience reaction.
  • To create a powerful reveal, he avoids flagging unusual details at the beginning and cautions against telegraphing big reveals too early.
  • He discusses the importance of authenticity, adding small details to enhance realism and make the story feel like a genuine human experience.
  • MrBallen highlights the element of surprise and unexpected plot twists to keep the audience engaged and anticipating a significant payoff.
  • He builds stakes by establishing normalcy and likability for the characters, making the audience invested in their well-being.
  • MrBallen acknowledges the need to recognize the focus of the story and adapts his approach accordingly, sometimes omitting details to maintain the desired narrative flow.
  • He employs techniques like playing with chronological order and omitting specific details to create intrigue and suspense.
  • When presenting true crime stories, MrBallen faces challenges due to people involved often lying or misrepresenting the truth.
  • He uses the killer's perspective to mislead the audience while staying true to real events and statements, allowing for effective storytelling while maintaining authenticity.

Biggest Mistakes in Telling a Great Story (00:32:37)

  • Avoid giving away too much information at the beginning of a story.
  • Withhold the ending or payoff until the end to keep the audience engaged and invested in the story.
  • Use a similar approach to MrBeast's videos by building anticipation and delaying the biggest payoff until the end.
  • This strategy increases watch time and engagement by preventing viewers from skipping ahead to the end.

Audience Reactions at Live Shows (00:36:47)

  • MrBallen shares his experience performing live and the reactions of the audience.
  • He describes the intense silence and attention of the audience during a dramatic pause in his storytelling.
  • MrBallen compares the experience of watching comedy alone, with friends, and in a live setting, highlighting the amplified emotions and collective energy in live performances.
  • He mentions the concept of "Collective Effervescence," which refers to the shared energy and emotions experienced by a group of people.
  • MrBallen expresses satisfaction in seeing the audience's reactions and engagement during his live shows.

The Story With the Biggest Reaction (00:39:15)

  • Ellie Lobel, a 42-year-old woman with Lyme disease, decided to end her life in 2011 due to her deteriorating health.
  • She hired an end-of-life care person and went to an Airbnb in Southern California, planning to stay in bed until she passed away.
  • After three days, she took a walk and was stung by a swarm of African killer bees.
  • Despite being abandoned by her end-of-life care person, Ellie survived the bee stings and began to feel better after three days.
  • She realized her improvement might be connected to an obscure study suggesting that bee stings from African Killer Bees could potentially cure Lyme disease.
  • Ellie unintentionally conducted the experiment on herself and was completely cured of her Lyme disease.
  • The ethical dilemma arises as to whether it was right to leave her in the situation, as it ultimately led to her cure, but it involved significant risk.
  • The audience's reaction to her story was overwhelmingly positive, capturing a truly remarkable moment on film.

Where MrBallen Finds His Stories (00:49:45)

  • MrBallen's storytelling approach focuses on making victims relatable and three-dimensional, avoiding gore and shock value.
  • He obtains permission from individuals before sharing their personal stories, but public figures and events with extensive news coverage are considered public record and do not require permission.
  • MrBallen has a legal team and professionals to handle copyright, licensing, and outreach related to the stories he shares.
  • Despite some stories gaining less traction on Reddit, he finds compelling narratives that captivate his audience, such as the teenager who discovered an underground water source with dangerous creatures in an abandoned hospital.
  • While he values the allure of true stories, MrBallen admits to telling a famous fake story in the early days of his channel, ensuring transparency with a disclaimer at the end.
  • To avoid confusion, MrBallen considers creating fictional content that would be clearly labeled as such, separate from his true crime stories.
  • He emphasizes the importance of stakes and investment in storytelling, achieved through the audience's connection with real characters and their stories, as seen in the book "The Silent Patient."

Who Was MrBallen Before the SEALs (00:58:46)

  • MrBallen, a YouTuber, had a troubled youth, engaging in street fights and rebelling against his family's academic expectations.
  • Despite his family's accomplishments, he struggled academically and intentionally acted as a "bad student" as a form of rebellion.
  • After failing out of college, he returned home resentful towards his parents and decided to attend college and support himself financially, leading to a more disciplined lifestyle.
  • Inspired by friends who served in the military, he expressed his desire to join the Navy SEALs to his mother.
  • The Navy SEALs are considered to be some of the most elite and skilled individuals in the world and operate on a meritocracy system, where only those who can endure and persevere until the end are considered worthy of becoming a SEAL.
  • Becoming a Navy SEAL involves a complete transformation of an individual, replacing their past identity with that of a highly disciplined and capable SEAL.
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  • Shopify is offering a $1 per month trial period for new users.

Advice for People Stuck in a Rut (01:08:32)

  • John describes his experience of feeling stuck in a rut at 19, not knowing what to do with his life.
  • He suggests that people who feel similarly should not overthink their next steps and instead focus on finding a direction and purpose in life.
  • John emphasizes the importance of taking action and not getting caught up in analysis paralysis.
  • He explains the difference between satisficers and maximizers in behavioral economics and argues that satisficing is often a better approach, especially when young.

Getting Through SEALs Training (01:11:54)

  • Former Navy SEAL shares experiences and preparation for SEAL training.
  • SEAL training is highly competitive, with only a small percentage of candidates completing the two-year program.
  • BUD/S training, following boot camp and prep school, is physically grueling, especially during the first six to eight weeks.
  • Hell week, a 5.5-day period of intense training, sleep deprivation, and challenges, causes extreme physical symptoms and disruptions.
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  • A Fountain Life client revealed that 14% of their clients have a critical life-saving finding.
  • MrBallen, the narrator, started in Navy SEAL BUD/S class 289 but was rolled back after hell week due to swimmer-induced pulmonary edema and later failed pool comp, a simulated drowning test.
  • The speaker describes the "drown-proofing" test, which involves staying calm and following a procedure while underwater, and their initial struggles before passing.
  • After completing six months of BUD/S training and six months of Advanced Training, the speaker graduated from the program in September 2012 and became a Navy SEAL.

The Worst Element of Hell Week (01:24:23)

  • Navy SEAL training involves chronic sleep deprivation and prepares individuals to endure extreme suffering, which is essential for their missions.
  • The author discovered their ability to endure discomfort for extended periods through their SEAL training, not due to superhuman strength, but because of their willingness to suffer for a worthy cause.
  • MrBallen's journey from Navy SEAL to true crime YouTuber began with making YouTube videos, which led to a viral TikTok video.
  • He transitioned from TikTok to making long-form YouTube videos, producing four to five feature-length videos per week.
  • MrBallen draws inspiration from his Navy SEAL training to push through challenges and emphasizes that persistence and determination are key to success.
  • Despite the high failure rate of podcasts, with 90% not making it past episode three and 90% of the remaining 10% not making it past episode 20, MrBallen finds reassurance in the fact that these challenges are common and that those who persevere beyond them are the ones who ultimately succeed.

What it Feels Like to Be Hit By a Grenade (01:30:13)

  • A former Navy SEAL, with seven years of service and one combat tour in Afghanistan, shares his experiences during a six-month deployment.
  • The SEALs' mission was to locate and stop suicide bombers headed for Kabul by monitoring a key road and a nearby village called Zargar, a highly contested area known for ambushes and IEDs.
  • On April 19, 2014, the SEALs engaged in a sporadic six-hour gunfight in Zargar, resulting in casualties among their Afghan partners and their dog.
  • Despite their experience and desire for action, the SEALs were frustrated by the elusive tactics of the enemy, who used tunnels to escape.
  • In one intense combat situation, the SEALs encountered military-aged males near their extraction point and engaged in a close-quarters gunfight, neutralizing the threat despite the presence of live grenades.
  • The narrator recounts surviving a grenade attack, experiencing a moment of clarity where he hoped the grenade would detonate below his head for identification purposes.
  • Despite initial confusion, he later learned the true story of his rescue from the soldier who saved his life.
  • In another harrowing incident, the narrator was severely injured by a grenade blast and called for a "danger close" air strike to neutralize the threat, resulting in chaotic reactions from nearby fighters.
  • Amidst the chaos, the narrator's medic remained calm and provided medical assistance, reassuring him that others had also been injured.

Rewatching the Video of the Hit (01:49:49)

  • Former Navy SEAL Jonathan Ballen recounts surviving a grenade attack in Afghanistan.
  • Despite sustaining severe injuries, Ballen initially felt no pain due to shock.
  • Ballen's medic initially believed him to be dead and prioritized saving others.
  • During a near-death experience, Ballen thought about how his hometown newspaper would portray his death.
  • The speaker reflects on a similar near-death experience, feeling calm acceptance while contemplating his wife learning of his death.
  • Both Ballen and the speaker struggled to discuss the traumatic events for years.
  • The speaker suggests that this avoidance may have been a trauma response and mentions that his medic had experienced Survivor's guilt from a previous deployment.

Adjusting From War to Home (02:00:46)

  • A former Navy SEAL shares their experience of returning home after being wounded in combat and the challenges they faced during their transition back to civilian life.
  • Despite the lack of a proper support system for severely wounded soldiers, the speaker felt entitled and displayed anger and irritability towards others, including a kind EMT.
  • The speaker reflects on a period of entitlement and egotism, acknowledging its negative impact on relationships and their eventual realization of the need for change.
  • Therapy played a crucial role in helping the speaker overcome trauma and challenging life events, leading to a more balanced and positive outlook on life.
  • The speaker emphasizes the importance of self-assessment, honesty, and owning up to shortcomings, rather than making excuses or rationalizing negative behavior.
  • Profoundly bad experiences can serve as defining moments that reveal a person's true character and resilience.

MrBallen’s View on a Good Life (02:07:52)

  • Having a sense of purpose and working towards a goal brings genuine happiness, and the journey is more fulfilling than the achievement itself.
  • Near-death experiences can provide a profound perspective on life's finitude, emphasizing the importance of living fully.
  • Embracing risks and opportunities, despite the fear of failure or judgment, can lead to significant rewards and a fulfilling life.
  • Humans are naturally self-centered, and individual concerns and scandals eventually fade away as people focus on their own lives.
  • Most people are primarily invested in their close relationships, and realizing this can be empowering, freeing individuals to pursue their desires without excessive concern about others' opinions.
  • Life offers more freedom and balance than one might perceive, allowing individuals to shape their own paths and find fulfillment.

Principles for When Life Gets Hard (02:14:24)

  • Will Smith's skydiving experience taught him that overcoming fear leads to fulfilling experiences and personal growth.
  • Fear is an indication that something is worth doing, while indifference indicates it's not.
  • Overcoming fear requires a willingness to act despite being scared.
  • Modern civilization has reduced unpredictable factors, making people hypersensitive to fear.
  • Fear can be harnessed and controlled by not panicking and continuing to move forward despite the fear.

The Couple Who Almost Caught Ted Bundy (02:19:45)

  • In the 1970s, a young couple on a first date in Utah went for a night hike in Provo Canyon despite feeling an intense sense of dread.
  • As they walked, they unknowingly stepped on the body of a murder victim, unaware that the serial killer, Ted Bundy, was nearby and watching them.
  • Bundy later confessed that he would have killed the couple if they had investigated further.
  • Bundy had several other close encounters with potential victims, including a woman who canceled a date with him and another woman he befriended and dated for a year without harming her or her family.

The Most Evil People (02:26:44)

  • MrBallen discusses the tragic true crime story of Jack and Eileen Haw, an elderly couple who were murdered during a test run of their boat by prospective buyers who turned out to be killers.
  • The killers tied the Haws to the boat's anchor and threw them overboard, leaving them to drown slowly.
  • MrBallen reflects on the evil nature of the killers and the culpability of those who commit intentional acts of violence, drawing a distinction between crimes of passion and premeditated acts of violence.
  • MrBallen also mentions his interest in the Skinwalker Ranch phenomenon, known for its potential paranormal activities, including reports of mutilated livestock and strange occurrences.

Tom DeLonge’s Alien Obsession (02:32:49)

  • Tom DeLonge, former lead singer of Blink-182, is obsessed with aliens and UFOs.
  • He has pressured the government to release classified UFO files.
  • DeLonge believes that the government has evidence of UFOs and alien life.
  • Some people think DeLonge is crazy, but he doesn't care what others think.
  • DeLonge is passionate about his pursuit of alien life and has been hooked on it for most of his life.
  • Despite criticism, DeLonge continues to pursue his interest in UFOs and aliens.

Receiving Backlash for Sharing Stories (02:37:21)

  • MrBallen faced criticism for sharing a sensitive story about an incident at an apple orchard without seeking permission from the victim's family.
  • He received backlash from the active-duty SEAL community for discussing his SEAL experiences and training on social media, which is seen as capitalizing on his SEAL background for personal gain.
  • The SEAL Trident pin is significantly larger and more noticeable compared to other badges worn by Navy personnel, making SEALs easily identifiable.
  • The legacy of the SEAL Teams is built upon the sacrifices and courage of those who have served and died, and their success is attributed to the collective efforts and sacrifices of the entire community.
  • Former SEALs should refrain from publicly discussing their experiences as it draws attention to the active-duty community and may undermine the credibility of the SEAL Teams.

Why the Military Has an Issue With MrBallen (02:43:00)

  • Former Navy SEALs often struggle with an identity crisis and career challenges after leaving the military due to the loss of their close-knit community and sense of purpose.
  • Many transitioning SEALs turn to entrepreneurship or social media self-promotion to capitalize on their SEAL background, sometimes facing backlash from the active SEAL community who perceive it as exploitation.
  • YouTuber MrBallen experienced intense criticism, including threats, from fellow SEALs and Medal of Honor recipients for sharing his experiences on social media.
  • Despite the negativity, MrBallen empathizes with active duty SEALs and encourages them to understand the challenges of transitioning to civilian life.
  • Former SEALs need to effectively communicate their value proposition and develop additional skills to succeed in the civilian job market, as their military identity alone is not enough for success.
  • Social media can be a powerful tool for former SEALs to showcase their expertise but comes with potential risks and negative feedback, requiring careful consideration before sharing experiences or opinions publicly.

Speaking in Depth About Military Experiences (02:54:06)

  • John Allen, known as MrBallen on YouTube, discussed his mixed feelings about sharing his military history on the Shawn Ryan Show.
  • He deleted his social media content related to the Navy SEALs due to backlash from the SEAL community.
  • MrBallen expressed anger and resentment towards the toxicity he faced after leaving the SEALs, despite understanding its reasons.
  • He highlighted the challenge former SEALs face in balancing self-promotion with protecting their reputation within the SEAL community.
  • MrBallen's success on YouTube has given him a platform to speak out about military challenges without fear of reprisal.
  • There is a difference in public perception between Navy SEALs and CIA officers, with SEALs often being viewed more favorably.
  • MrBallen is intrigued by this difference, especially since many Special Forces members eventually transition to the CIA.
  • Before the Bin Laden raid in 2011, Navy SEALs were known for their discretion, but afterward, there was increased publicity and scrutiny.
  • Some SEALs who left the teams during this time capitalized on the attention and became famous for their exploits.
  • This trend of SEALs seeking fame has led to a perception that they are egotistical and narcissistic.

Dealing With Rapid Growth (03:04:26)

  • MrBallen's rapid growth on YouTube brought challenges, including people taking advantage of him and predatory business deals.
  • To protect himself, he initially ignored potential sponsorships and collaborations until he gained a better understanding of the industry.
  • He met his business partner and manager, Nick WT, a combat veteran, lawyer, and digital talent manager, who offered to help.
  • Nick's extensive experience in the entertainment industry and his dedication to MrBallen's success proved to be a game-changer for the YouTuber.
  • MrBallen Studios has expanded beyond MrBallen's personal content and now seeks out other creators to acquire or support their growth.

MrBallen’s Favourite Storytellers (03:12:15)

  • MrBallen, a popular YouTuber known for his storytelling videos, has co-founded Ballin Studios, a talent management company that supports storytellers.
  • Ballin Studios provides comprehensive support to its creators, including topic finding, writing, and brand sponsorships.
  • Some talented storytellers under Ballin Studios include Bedtime Stories, a British YouTube channel known for its captivating storytelling and unique illustrations, and Ryan Nexo and Nick Crowley, both popular YouTubers.
  • Wartime Stories, a spin-off channel from Bedtime Stories, focuses on historical and military-style storytelling.
  • The speaker reflects on their leadership style and identifies areas for improvement, such as being less of a people pleaser and less neurotic.
  • They discuss the transformation of young employees who went through an intense training program, becoming confident event managers in a short time.
  • The speaker emphasizes the importance of recognizing one's limitations and delegating tasks accordingly, highlighting the "curse of competence" challenge faced by individuals who are good at many things.
  • They stress the need to identify one's vital few contributions and distinguish them from the trivial many to determine one's next steps and areas of focus.

What’s Next for MrBallen? (03:20:34)

  • MrBallen feels restless and seeks new challenges after a stable period in his career. His manager, Nick, ensures he only engages in projects he cares about to prevent burnout.
  • MrBallen envisions Ballin Studios as a prestigious platform for exceptional storytellers, attracting ambitious individuals with storytelling skills and helping them grow professionally.
  • Ballin Studios aims to invest heavily in these storytellers, providing resources and support to achieve success, believing their achievements will enhance the studio's credibility and reputation.
  • MrBallen acknowledges the popularity of dog content and emphasizes the importance of capturing attention in the current media landscape.
  • MrBallen's upcoming project will utilize advanced lighting and custom environments in Unreal Engine 5.
  • MrBallen's ability to admit when he is wrong and his approach to overcoming fear are admired.
  • MrBallen's graphic novel will be released on October 1st, 2023, with pre-orders available now at

Where to Find MrBallen (03:26:01)

  • Follow MrBallen on all platforms by searching for "mrbin".
  • Search for "Ballen Studios" on any podcast platform to find all of MrBallen's podcasts, including the MrBallen Podcast, Medical Mysteries, Full Body Chills, Bedtime Stories, and Wartime Stories.

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