Intentional Performers with Brian Levenson
Coach Scott Drew on The Road to Joy

Coach Scott Drew on The Road to Joy

May 26, 2022

Scott Drew is the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Baylor University. Coach Drew began his career at Baylor in 2003 when he took over a program that was decimated by tragedy, player departures, a depleted roster, and NCAA restrictions. He was slow and methodical in the process in which he went about to turn the program around. He really tried to recruit a solid foundation of talent in high school players, and also really focused on who would align and fit with what they were trying to do at Baylor. Fast-forward to almost 20 years later, and Baylor has become a contender almost annually. They won a national championship, they are constantly at the top of the rankings, and in their conference, the Big 12, they are a perennial contender. He has built a program at Baylor that was on the verge of not even existing because of some of the hardships, the challenges, and the messiness that encapsulated the program he inherited.

 

This conversation is wide-ranging. We talk a lot about faith; Coach Drew talks about faith in almost every conversation he has with people, and you’re going to hear that spew out of him. He also talks a lot about leadership. He talks a lot about character and what he’s looking for in his program. He also talks a ton about culture during our conversation. We’re going to talk a little bit about his upbringing and his family in this conversation, we’re also going to really focus in on why he’s so positive and how he sees the world. At his core, he is an optimist, he doesn’t hold back or mince words to describe himself as a Christian, and he’s also a coach. This is someone who really does care about developing people and creating a culture that is championship-level on multiple fronts.

 

Coach Drew had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“It’s not a “got to” job it’s a ‘get to’ job” (6:30).

“Appreciate when people give us opportunities to serve, [be] grateful for those opportunities, and [be] thankful when people treat you right” (6:50).

“How you view life sometimes determines how long you live. There’s no reason to put stress on the things that are negative when it’s really just how you look at them, how you perceive them” (7:15).

“If you’re not striving to get better, then you’re probably getting worse” (8:20).

“One way’s not the only way” (9:00).

“If you’ve only got a short time here, let’s make it enjoyable and make it pleasing for as many other people as possible” (9:55).

“We never just get the most talented players, we get who fits our culture, fits us the best” (12:55).

“I spend more time with our assistant coaches and staff than I do my own family” (13:05).

“I want to surround myself with the iron-sharpens-iron people who make me better” (13:30).

“I love brining excitement and joy and hype into the game” (17:30).

“We’re all human, which means we’d rather be praised than criticized” (20:05).

“You’d always rather see a lesson than hear it” (22:25).

“I pride myself on trying to be a servant leader” (22:45).

“Like everybody, you want to feel like you made a difference” (23:15).

“It takes a team to win, and at the end of the game they don’t say one person won” (28:00).

“If they’re being a great teammate, they’re being coachable. If they’re being a great teammate, they’re acknowledging their teammates, they’re lifting them up, they’re building them up… they’re giving love” (28:20).

“We use ‘we’ a lot, we don’t use ‘I’ very much” (29:15).

“Our job as coaches is to have a pulse of the chemistry and who would fit in” (29:35).

“We’ve always tried to take character over talent, but over time you’re able to get both” (34:15).

“Nobody can measure the heart” (39:00).

“Head coaches are only as good as their staff, so I always try to hire people that are smarter than me” (42:45).

“I wouldn’t be where I am without my dad” (44:00).

“To win a championship you have to have great chemistry” (49:10).

“Coaches can be great leaders, but if no one’s following it doesn’t matter” (50:05).

“Life is short. We’re going to be positive, we’re going to be cheerleaders, and we’re going to give everything we have, and if it’s not good enough we should go to bed knowing we tried our best” (52:30).

 

Additionally, make sure to check out Coach Drew on Twitter @BUDREW and to purchase the book The Road to Joy anywhere you prefer to buy books!

Thank you so much to Coach Drew for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

Bruce Levenson (AKA My Dad) on Leveraging Optimism

Bruce Levenson (AKA My Dad) on Leveraging Optimism

May 18, 2022

Today’s episode, episode #277, is a little bit different. I have interviewed 276 different people, and over that span I’ve often contemplated and though, “You know who I would love to have on here? My dad.” He’s one of the most interesting people I’ve ever been around, and I’ve had a front row seat to witness, to him questions, to observe, to notice. I was hesitant to have my dad on as a guest because I like to ask questions that other people don’t necessarily ask. And certainly, I’ve had friends on the podcast, people I care deeply about, but I knew with my dad it would be extremely personal. I wanted to ask him questions that I don’t always get to ask him. Even though there’s space for us in our relationship to ask questions, we don’t always sit for an hour and a half and learn with each other. We don’t always sit and ask what’s really on our mind and share in a vulnerable way, and we have a very healthy relationship. There was some fear for me in bringing my dad into this community, bringing my dad into my world, even though I’ve always been part of his. I’ve referenced my dad a ton in conversations with others. My dad is now 72 years old. I didn’t want to wait any longer to ask him some questions I was really curious about and to share him. He’s one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever been around. He’s one of the most intentional performers I’ve ever been around. And so, I felt inspired, obligated, and excited to go deeper with him and to be willing to share a side to him that others don’t know. We uncovered and talked about some things that we hadn’t ever talked about. Most of us don’t ask the questions that we want to ask to the people that are closest to us. For me, that was pretty jaw-dropping that there were parts of this conversation that we hadn’t discussed in detail previously. For you, as you’re listening to this conversation, I hope you take that away more than anything else. I hope this conversation inspires you. I hope it challenges you to sit down with the people that you love and just be really curious and listen without judgment.

My dad, Bruce Levenson, became more well-known when he bought into the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Thrashers. Before that, he was extremely successful in the business world. He co-founded a company called United Communications Group. They acquired a lot of companies along the way, including a company called Tech Target which ended up going public and is still a publicly traded company. There was a company called Gas Buddy they acquired at one point as well. My dad and his co-founder Ed are journalists. That’s their trade, that’s what they came into the business world doing. So, they really believed in creating exceptional content. They were a business-too-business newsletter, and they would sell their content to other companies. My dad also went to law school at night as he was working extremely hard. My dad does not mind working hard, he actually enjoys it. Philanthropically, he has been extremely active for as long as I can remember. He and my mom formed the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland, which aims to educate and train the next generation of non-profit leaders and people in the social sector who are changing our world in really amazing ways.

Hope you enjoy this unique episode.

Here are some impactful quotes from my dad from the episode:

“When you stop growing, you start dying. I have no interest in dying” (16:15).

“I’d rather bet for myself than against myself” (16:45).“I’ll keep walking fast for as long as I can” (16:50).

“Always finding time for family, time to do things other than working, was always a priority” (18:10).

“I don’t ever remember coming home tired from work. I loved work” (22:15).

“I love to build in so many different ways… and part of the love of that is being part of a team” (23:15).

“I still take on too much” (25:15).

“I added an element of intelligent impatience” (31:50).

“I would hope they would describe me as someone who is stimulating to be at the table with” (33:30).

“The partnerships that did work all had one thing in common: there was this courtship where mutual respect and trust was built, we didn’t jump into it” (36:00).

“When you’re walking fast, sometimes you walk right past that communication” (38:50).

“For me, it was always about being my own boss” (44:00).

“Anybody who says money doesn’t buy you happiness isn’t spending their money wisely” (44:30).

“Don’t do it alone. I really believe in the power of partnerships” (45:15).

“I want to set an example for my community” (46:05).

“There’s room for error if you’re overcommunicating and being overly assertive” (50:00).

“I care that if someone meets me in passing and googles me, they may read something about me that makes them think less of me” (55:00).

“There were a lot of similarities between the sports business and my business” (1:06:30).

“The glass is always 80% full for me” (1:11:45).

“I’m not superman. I don’t have answers for everything. Depression is something very real and very debilitating, you have to work really hard to work your way out of it” (1:15:55).

“It’s hard for me to call it a failure because I tried my hardest and controlled what I could control” (1:24:05).

“I’m the luckiest guy in the world” (1:28:10).

 

Thank you so much to my dad for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

Julien Smith on Building Breather and Practice

Julien Smith on Building Breather and Practice

May 11, 2022

Julien Smith is the Co-Founder and CEO at Practice. Previously, he was also the Co-Founder of a company called Breather. Additionally, he was a New York Times Bestselling Author of 3 books. He is somebody who’s been a speaker and a writer. Creative would be the word I use to best sum up Julien.

 

Julien had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“One of the ways to have the biggest impact on the world is to work with a team of people that will care about a common purpose” (7:15).

“How much of a mercenary are you vs a missionary?” (8:15).

“I was a hard employee… I wanted a level of autonomy that I never earned” (11:35).

“I felt that I had a value in myself that I saw that was very difficult for me to show other people. I had to step completely out of the system” (13:00).

“People make everything happen. When it’s not people, it’s culture” (23:00).

“I’m more deliberate about people now than I ever was” (23:15).

“To be deliberate with the people that you work with has got to be the most valuable thing that you can possibly do at a startup, especially at the early stage” (24:15).

“The number one thing that I care about today is making sure the team is amazing and making sure the team is all aligned together” (26:00).

“I’ve been working to empower solo people for as long as I can think” (30:15).

“The challenge is to scale beyond your own thing” (41:15).

“There’s hundreds of coaches out there, but no one knows how to find them other than by referral” (43:10).

“I like the intimacy of the relationship in coaching” (44:00).

“CEOs have almost no opportunity to be their honest self, they’re always on. To be able to give them an opportunity to not be on… and to allow them to authentically be themselves is incredibly rewarding” (44:30).

“Coaching lets me step out of my own company, which is really rewarding” (44:50).

“No matter who you are or how you get it, you do need a connection to something greater than yourself” (50:45).

“As much as possible, I try to connect to things that are bigger than myself to remember that there’s a lot of stuff out there in the world” (51:10).

“I feel that you’ve got to know what you’re getting into” (54:25).

“To me, what venture really means is access to money and access to a really strong density of talent” (55:20).

“Venture brings together incredibly smart and talented people” (55:50).

“My identity was absolutely attached to being the CEO and Co-Founder of Breather, and to a degree it’s attached to Practice, but less so than the people who have done nothing before that at all” (58:00).

“Let’s build a business that will support the next 1,000, 10,000, or 100,000 people like this” (59:15).

“I really believe that in 5-10 years we can be one of the most successful companies in the world. To do that right, from the very beginning, you have to have that intent” (1:00:45).

“One of the things that you’ve got to do when you get into venture-backed businesses, you have to know that you can build something for a customer that you love, and you have to know that you can do it for 10 years” (1:01:15).

 

Additionally, make sure to check out Julien on Twitter. You can also purchase any of Julien’s books (The Flinch, Trust Agents, the Impact Equation; Companies: Practice, Breather) anywhere where you normally buy books! If you want to learn more about Practice, feel free to give the website a look. I would also encourage you to check out the website for Peter Shallard, known as the Shrink for Entrepreneurs.

Thank you so much to Julien for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

Joanne McCallie on Mental Health and Coaching Basketball

Joanne McCallie on Mental Health and Coaching Basketball

May 4, 2022

Joanne McCallie is a legendary basketball coach. She was named the ACC Coach of the Year twice (2010, 2012), and the Big Ten Coach of the Year once (2005). Additionally, she was a 3x America East Coach of the Year (1995, 1996, 1999). She has a basketball resume that is incredible, including in 2005 winning the AP Coach of the Year. She won 646 games and only lost 255 games in her coaching career. Joanne decided to retire from basketball, and she has been an advocate, and really been courageous in sharing her story around mental health and being bipolar. We get into a deep, enriching conversation, and it’s a conversation I truly feel we have to have. The reality is that mental health, suicide, depression, anxiety, they don’t discriminate. It can hit any of us; it can hit all of us. I love how open Joanne is about sharing her story, and also how could she have so much success while dealing with some of these challenges.

 

Joanne had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“If you take the pain and the hurt and think of it as this blanket around a person, they can’t see through that blanket” (8:35).

“If you hear the question ‘How could they [attempt to commit suicide],’ the answer is ‘With enough pain and enough suffering and the inability to see through the blanket, it happens’” (8:50).

“In our society today, almost 1 out of every 2 people are struggling with some element on the [mental health] continuum” (11:05).

“[My disorder] is just a part of me. There are many parts of me” (11:20).

“Whatever you’re going through, whether it’s a diagnosis or not, this too shall pass, and it is not all of you” (12:00).

“There’s lots of places where we can lose our identities relative to sport, or anything else for that matter” (13:50).

“Productivity makes for happiness” (22:00).

“If anyone is feeling nonproductive and non-loved, then that can really affect your feelings about life” (22:20).

“I’ve made the transfer into my new life, but more importantly, the grief that I’d been holding and the anxiety of those losses, I’m getting over it. It’s finally turning” (24:05).

“Never go alone with pain” (25:30).

“Grieving is a process, and you can’t get around it” (25:45).

“Grief is personal, but the smallest things can connote progress” (26:30).

“I complement everybody for carving their path” (27:50).

“I think the transfer portal is a nightmare, I think it’s going to ruin the game if it’s not handled more properly” (29:10).

“[Mental health professionals] need to be elevated in our society” (35:45).

“What I wish I had was a radio show where people could call in anonymously and I could answer questions [about mental health]. Those are kinds of things I think we need” (40:35).

“Mental health awareness is so incredibly difficult, that I’m in a tough spot. Because I don’t want to self-promote” (44:30).

“I feel I should be at every campus” (49:40).

“How could I ever go back to coaching?” (50:10).

“Mental health should be celebrated. Mental health impairment should be respected. It does not discriminate” (52:45).

“This whole mental health thing is going to go on for a long time” (56:15).

“I swim 5-6 times a week, the pool is a great escape for me” (59:50).

“There’s so much we don’t know about people, and that’s why we can’t make judgments on them” (1:03:40).

“Faith is in your own journey. There’s no judgment on anything that you believe as you work through it” (1:06:05).

“Aspiring, dreaming, being courageous, and peace [are the opposite of fear]” (1:07:25).

 

Additionally, make sure to check out Joanne’s book Secret Warrior and her website!

Thank you so much to Coach P for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

Joe Ferraro and Brian Levenson Host vs. Guest–Whose Responsibility is it Anyway?

Joe Ferraro and Brian Levenson Host vs. Guest–Whose Responsibility is it Anyway?

April 27, 2022

Typically, I don’t like to have guests back on the podcast for a 2nd time. But today is a little different. Joe and I decided to create a podcast that is interesting, unique, and something that I got a ton of excitement out of. We get into the weeds of if being a guest on a podcast is different than being a host on a podcast, which led to further conversations about being a host vs. being a guest in life, since there are so many facets of society in which we play host and in which we play guest.

 

As a little bit about Joe if you don’t remember from our past conversation, Joe Ferraro is currently entering his 23rd year as an educator, teaching 12th grade English. Joe also teaches public speaking and creative writing. In addition to his work in the classroom, he is the founder of damngoodconversations.com. Damn Good Conversations is a company whose mission it is to teach you repeatable ways to have the best conversations in your life and work. His flagship service is a weekly personal growth podcast, which is called “One Percent Better.”

 

If this episode resonates with you, let me know. And if it doesn’t, I would love to hear your thoughts on why you felt that way as well.

 

Joe and I had a number of insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“I usually use the word workshop. Because if you feel like you’re listening to a keynote, regardless of if you’re 1 person or 1 of 30, the idea is that you’re going to sit there and you’re going to listen the entire time. That’s not how I do [talks]. I do experiences” (8:20).

“I don’t want to talk at people, I want to talk with people” (8:40).

“Whenever you’re having a planned meaningful conversation or a meeting, agendas are so valuable” (10:35).

“I don’t want host and guest to bleed over into status roles” (14:10).

“Everything in this podcast arena, with a microphone, is all the same to me because this is where I want to be” (16:50).

“My preparation as a host far exceeds my preparation as a guest” (20:30).

“I very rarely go into a conversation without, baseline, 5-10 questions” (22:20).

“I could be more intentional as a guest” (22:30).

“Anytime someone is paying me to help them figure some stuff out, I need to honor that. That is a big deal. When you put stuff out on a microphone into the real world, that is a big deal” (23:00).

“If you are only going to be the one asking questions and you’re never going to share yourself and be vulnerable in any conversation, I’m not so sure that that is leading, I’m not so sure that that is how you build a great relationship. It’s a one-way street and I think great conversations are two ways” (25:20).

“Great leaders listen. Great leaders ask great questions. That is true. And, great leaders offer great insight and need to be able to share with conviction what they believe” (27:00).

“A couple episodes ago, I threw out this idea of a reverse mentor. Which is someone who’s less experienced, usually younger, but certainly and vitally less experienced than me, who I intentionally sought out to learn from” (29:00).

“I’m against shooting the breeze and seeing where things go. Once the relationship has been established where there’s mutual respect and expertise on at least one side, if not both, now I’m diving in with two feet” (30:10).

“Reverse mentor: someone with less experience who can give me fresh eyes” (30:15).

“We both believe there are different forms of preparation, but it has to exist” (32:00).

“Your attention and your focus are incredible commodities” (33:15).

“Being a good host does not guarantee you will be a good guest, and being a good guest does not guarantee you will be a good host” (36:30).

“When I watch a panel and someone knows how to do it, I sit back in awe, because it’s so hard to ask questions that are interesting and unique and can unlock someone’s potential and how they think” (41:45).

“Would you rather be interviewed by Tim Ferris, or would you rather interview Tim Ferris?” (42:40)

“Saying nothing is different than saying something and bringing a different shine to it” (48:00).

“Those who are interesting are interested” (49:05).

“We are constantly playing host and guest with people we’re talking with, there just may not be a blinking light or a microphone” (49:40).

“I think it’s okay to treat different opportunities differently” (50:50).

“’Not everybody thinks that way’ is a really powerful framing mechanism” (51:50).

 

You can check out the website for Damn Good Conversations here. Also, I highly recommend following Joe on Twitter @FerraroOnAir.

Thank you so much to Joe for coming back on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

Carole Robin on Connectedness

Carole Robin on Connectedness

April 20, 2022

Carole Robin, Ph.D. who taught the legendary Interpersonal Dynamics course (affectionately known by students as “Touchy Feely”) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business was the Dorothy J. King Lecturer in Leadership, Director of the Arbuckle Leadership Fellows Program, and Director of the Stanford Interpersonal Dynamics Programs for High Performing Executives (Executive Program) before co-founding Leaders in Tech, which brings the principles and process of “Touchy Feely” to executives in Silicon Valley. Prior to coming to Stanford, she had careers in sales and marketing management and was a partner in two consulting firms. She is the co-author of the highly acclaimed and award-winning book, Connect: Building Exceptional Relationships with Family, Friends and Colleagues which contains the lessons of "Touchy Feely" that thousands of students have consistently described for decades as life changing and worth the price of their MBA. She lives in San Francisco, California, with her husband of 36 years.

 

Carole had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“We’re all works in progress” (14:00)

“Every opportunity with another human being is an opportunity to learn” (14:15).

“I don’t think I can be a good teacher if I’m not constantly a good student” (15:15).

“The more I learn as a student, the more motivated I am to teach” (15:30).

“Too much education is loaded with baggage around teachers being the ones who know and students being the ones who don’t” (15:55).

“Asking someone to give you feedback has the potential to make them feel vulnerable” (20:55).

“I was, and am, unafraid to lean into the discomfort” (25:00).

“A fundamental premise of learning and growth is that you don’t learn anything unless you step outside your comfort zone” (25:20).

“I’m going to show the world that it doesn’t matter that I’m a girl” (32:30).

“Our tendency when we feel pinched is to say nothing” (43:00).

“Substitute the pronoun ‘it’ for ‘I,’ ‘you,’ or ‘we’” (43:40).

“There’s so much trouble in business when it comes to using emotions effectively” (47:25).

“There’s an important place in business for feelings, as long as we learn to express them in ways that are productive, and we learn to use them in the same way that we use thoughts” (47:45).

“Thoughts and feelings are like treble and bass in music” (48:00).

“What is needed for two people to relate and to connect with one another?” (54:15).

“We’re all works in progress. Sometimes learning something once isn’t enough… that’s where we often need someone else” (1:01:00).

Additionally, make sure to check out Carole on LinkedIn! Moreover, if you want more information about Leaders in Tech, click here, and if you want more information about Carol’s book, click here.

Thank you so much to Carole for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

Wil Reynolds on Having Enough while Constantly Growing

Wil Reynolds on Having Enough while Constantly Growing

April 13, 2022

As Seer Interactive’s Founder and Vice President of Innovation, Wil Reynolds develops strategies and innovations to help clients build traffic and make money. His methods have shaped the search industry worldwide, and he regularly speaks for marketing conferences worldwide.

 

Wil had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“I’m sick of hanging out with people who want to tell me how successful I am” (7:35).

“Nobody that’s good got better when other people said, ‘you’re good’” (7:40).

“Nobody [inspires me]. Everybody’s got some stuff going on with them” (11:45).

“Mostly I just look for people who walk the walk. That’s it” (12:05).

“I tend to value humility” (14:20).

“I like to keep things simple, so I just want to raise a kind kid” (20:30).

“My number one goal is to raise a kid who sees things in the world, sees things that are wrong, and says ‘I can be a part of solving them’” (20:35).

“When I see a kid being really kind to another kid, I instantly go too ‘What are their parents modeling? Am I modeling those kinds of behaviors’” (25:00).

“We’re now hiring a Community Impact manager specifically to make sure we improve [our number of volunteer hours]” (29:30).

“I got all this by not wanting it, by just trying to be better than I was yesterday” (30:00).

“Be unafraid to suck at something new” (30:30).

“The ROI on culture is at an all-time low because people don’t want to admit to themselves that it’s about the money” (41:55).

“If you take no feedback, you don’t learn, you don’t grow. But then you also have to learn to put that feedback in context at the time and the person and ask should I really listen to all this stuff equally?” (42:40).

“Everything is about how you feel when you put your head on the pillow at night and the decisions that you’ve made that day” (44:50).

“If I don’t have boundaries, I may try to be too available to too many people and not be available to the people who support me” (46:45).

“Watching somebody grow, watching somebody get an opportunity, watching your company be a platform for somebody to get that next best job, it’s like teaching” (51:15).

“I love losing because it’s humbling” (52:50).

“I like minimizing excuses for myself” (54:50).

“I don’t care what anybody does as long as they’re true to themselves” (59:10).

“Be true to you and be brave enough to say, ‘This is what I value.’” (59:20).

 

Additionally, make sure to check out the Seer Interactive website and Wil’s blog, and to follow Wil on Twitter!

Thank you so much to Wil for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

Jesse Cole on Uniquely Creating

Jesse Cole on Uniquely Creating

April 6, 2022

Jesse Cole is the founder of Fans First Entertainment and is the owner of the Savannah Bananas. Jesse really enjoys talking about leadership, culture, and what it takes to build something special. And what he’s built with the Savannah Bananas is just that. It’s very unique, and what he’s building is fascinating. His teams have welcomed more than 1 million fans to their ballparks, and have been featured on MSNBC, CNN, ESPN, and Entrepreneur Magazine. ESPN did a feature on what Jesse is creating in Savannah. The Bananas have been awarded with Organization of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Business of the Year, and won the CPL Championship in their first year. While they emphasize fun and entertainment at their baseball games, they also win. The Savannah Bananas currently have sold out every game since their first season, and have a waiting list in the thousands of tickets. In addition to that, Jesse discusses the wait list they have for players who want to come play for them, and for employees at a time when people are leaving companies in droves, Jesse points out that they are willing and able and wanting to come work for his organization. He released his first book, Find Your Yellow Tux: How to be Successful by Standing Out, in January of 2018 with a world book tour at Epcot. Jesse has been featured on over 500 podcasts and is an in-demand keynote speaker all over the country, sharing his fans-first experience on how to stand out, be different, and create raving fans, both customers and employees.

 

Jesse had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“Swing hard in case you hit it” (8:45).

“Every day I see things from my kids that blows me away” (10:15).

“I make sure I do things all day that give me energy” (11:50).

“No matter what, we are hungry for entertainment. We’re hungry for fun.” (14:30).

“The best creators are often just creating something for themselves” (15:00).

“I am hungry to use this platform too entertain millions with something they’ve never seen before” (15:30).

“Success is happiness and freedom and fulfillment. The ability to do what you want, when you want, to give you purpose (16:20).

“I’m mostly just doing something I love, and it gives me energy” (16:30)

“Every decision we make, we ask ourselves is it fans first?” (18:05).

“How do we create things people have never seen before on a baseball field” (18:30).

“We’re not focused on winning, we’re focused on having fun. And what happens when you focus on having fun? The wins take care of themselves” (21:20).

“I’ve really pushed the envelope on hiring my weaknesses and growing that way” (28:15).

“Our hiring process is over 3 months long” (30:00).

“Our mission is fans first, entertain always” (31:00).

“We call every person that buys merchandise from us and thank them. We call every person that buys a ticket from us and thank them” (34:10).

“Every single morning I do 10 ideas” (37:00).

“My biggest fear is irrelevance” (37:15).

“My idea book is always on me” (38:30).

“We don’t believe people want to be managed. They want to be led” (45:00).

“Everyone plays a role in our show” (46:15).

“We’ve done lots of things that didn’t work, but it’s led us to all the things that do work” (51:00).

“I’m not focused on the next quarter, I’m focused on the next quarter century” (51:15).

“You do what gives you energy, and my energy list is sharing, creating, and growing” (53:40).

“If you want to be lifted up, lift others up” (55:00).

 

Additionally, make sure to search “Yellow Tux” anywhere to learn more about Jesse and the Bananas!

Thank you so much to Jesse for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

Rand Fishkin on Cultivating Chill Work

Rand Fishkin on Cultivating Chill Work

March 30, 2022

Rand Fishkin is cofounder and CEO of audience research software startup, SparkToro. He’s dedicated his professional life to helping people do better marketing through his writing, videos, speaking, and his book, Lost and Founder.

 

Rand had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“If you are in a happy and healthy headspace and you’ve gotten lots of sleep, you can outperform even in a few minutes what you could do in hours of work” (10:15).

“Chill Work tries to prioritize that high quality, high impact time over hustle culture, total work time” (10:30).

“Even if you perfectly design your company and your business and do near-perfect hiring, you will still encounter those people-challenges as you ramp up to 100, 200+ employees” (12:20).

“This is part of the challenge for entrepreneurs in general, and all human beings, is that sometimes what feels good and right to you internally isn’t what you get externally recognized and rewarded for” (14:45).

“I would not take a company public on the NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange” (25:25).

“Tomorrow, if all of our data sources for SparkToro disappeared… we could quickly pivot and probably in 6 months have a business that provides similar value from other data sources” (33:10).

“How do we stay small, nimble, profitable, and happy for a long period of time?” (33:45).

“I wish there was more media, more awards, more recognition, more people doing interviews more celebrating, the culture of small entrepreneurship, slow entrepreneurship” (33:55).

“2/3 of venture funds will not meet their minimum bar for investment” (40:00).

“We have a very asynchronous communication style” (47:15).

“If there’s nothing on my calendar and my inbox is 0, I have no work to do. I’m going to go inside and play video games” (48:45).

“We empty our cups professionally and we have nothing left to give personally and emotionally to our partners or kids or families or friends” (50:15).

“Don’t do what I did and start a business out of college. Go work for a few startups, go work for a few companies and figure out what you like and hate” (52:25).

“Sometimes you have too mistakes for yourself before you can learn” (55:10).

“I feel like I have enough. I want to keep doing it, I love doing it, but I don’t have that hole in my chest that can only be filled with people [praising] me” (59:00).

“I have enough, but I don’t think I am enough. I would be very scared to stop a journey of self-discovery and improvement… I don’t want to ever stop that” (1:00:55).

“There’s no perfect human being. Learning and growing is core to that” (1:02:55).

“You can do anything, but you can’t do nothing and you can’t do everything” (1:03:05).

“I am deeply optimistic about a lot of the things that are going on in my general orbit” (1:13:00).

“Social media is a technological innovation similar to the printing press, or radio, or television, and societies in the past found ways to mitigate the risks of those inventions and to optimize for their good mostly” (1:24:30).

“The fact that social media is so new means that we’re that generation who’s experiencing the printing press, or the rise of radio, or the rise of television” (1:25:15).

“Not participating is not failing, it’s not giving up, it’s not weakness” (1:41:10).

 

Additionally, make sure to connect with Rand on Twitter and LinkedIn! You can also reach out to Rand via email at rand@sparktoro.com and check out his blog!

Thank you so much to Rand for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

Zoe Chance on Influence

Zoe Chance on Influence

March 23, 2022

Zoe Chance is an award-winning teacher and researcher at Yale School of Management. Her research has been published in top academic journals like Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and Psychological Science, and covered by the Harvard Business Review, The Economist, BBC, Time, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and The New York Times. Thinkers50 named Zoe one of the world's top up-and-coming management thinkers. Her framework for behavior change is the foundation for Google’s global food policy, and her TEDx talk, How to Make a Behavior Addictive, has more than half a million views. Before coming to Yale, she earned a doctorate in marketing at Harvard and managed a $200 million segment of the Barbie brand at Mattel. She lives with her family in New Haven, CT.

 

Zoe had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“So much of our ability to influence and persuade other human beings is a direct result of the level of connection that they feel with us. And that level of connection comes from how authentic we are with them in that moment” (6:50).

“Curiosity is something that can only happen in the immediate, present moment” (7:05).

“Being imperfect and human makes other people like us” (12:10).

“Charisma is a combination of confidence and connection. The way to do both of those at once is by focusing your attention on the other person” (13:10).

“How can you have that ability to make the other person feel special?” (16:00).

“Ask more questions” (17:55).

“I love shifting away from anytime we’re saying, ‘you should.’ This is a phrase that sparks immediate resistance from the other person’s unconscious” (20:40).

“It’s not that we shouldn’t talk about ourselves, but that we could all do a lot less of it and be better liked. People like us more when we ask them questions. And they like us even more when we ask them follow-up questions” (24:30).

“If we end up going to some place highly personal and vulnerable, then we really need you, as the question asker, to share some personal, vulnerable stuff (26:50).

“Every person should have to have a sales job at some point in their life… You learn to face rejection, live through it, and build resilience” (36:35).

“All you need to know about life is that every person you meet, find something that you like about them” (43:50).

“It’s about them, [the students], it’s not about me” (47:50).

“My standards for myself have gone down so much, that I’ve lost this desire for perfectionism from any of us” (48:30).

“We’re just human beings. Try to serve and enjoy each other” (46:45).

“In a meeting, we should definitely have an agenda, but not a script” (52:35).

“Anyone who doesn’t have a real boss needs to have a coach” (59:20).

 

Additionally, make sure to connect with Zoe on Twitter and LinkedIn. I would also greatly encourage you to check out Zoe’s website and to purchase her new book, Influence is your Superpower.

Thank you so much to Zoe for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Nick Hill on Building Championship Culture

Nick Hill on Building Championship Culture

March 16, 2022

Nick Hill is the Head Football Coach at Southern Illinois University, where he also played football earlier in his life. Nick also played professional football. The crux and meat of our conversation today is about what he’s building at Southern Illinois. He’s had 3 winning seasons after plenty of losing seasons at Southern Illinois, and he’s going to talk about the culture that he is embedding into the program and why he loves coaching football.

 

Nick had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“You can still be young and not entitled and work your way up” (10:45).

“It’s a people business, and that’s [true] in any business” (15:00).

“If you want to make your way up in this profession, you have to be able to communicate verbally” (16:50).

“Number 1, what are your values and what do you want this thing to look like?” (19:45).

“How you’re hiring your staff, the people you put in place, your player/personnel people, it’s really the difference I think between elite teams and good teams” (21:45).

“We have to be invested deeply in relationships” (22:50).

“When you build a true team, it’s about development, it’s about overcoming” (26:20).

“Humility is such a huge thing, but we mistake humility a lot. It’s not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less” (25:50).

“Even as a coach, you have to have a confidence, your team has to feel that as well” (30:40).

“There’s nothing like walking into a winning locker room” (49:00).

“There’s that pursuit of that feeling, knowing that that is out there if you put in the work and you become that” (49:30).

“It’s not what we know, it’s what the players know out there, on the field” (56:30).

“There’s a core belief system here about how we’re going to go about things” (1:03:15).

“This is my dream job… I love being here” (1:07:30).

 

Additionally, make sure to follow Nick on Twitter @17NickHill and to follow the team @SIUFootball.

Thank you so much to Nick for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Dave Phillips on Developing Golfers and Business

Dave Phillips on Developing Golfers and Business

March 9, 2022

Dave Phillips believes in living life with passion, curiosity, and purpose.

Described as "a visionary thinker with a passion for high-performance coaching," Phillips co-founded the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI). A member of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) of America since 1993. Dave has been a Golf Magazine Top 100 teacher since 2000 and is a Golf Digest Top 50 teacher in America. He currently coaches world number one golfer Jon Rahm and is part of hall of fame golfer Phil Mickelson's team.

In 2004, Dave Phillips and Dr. Greg Rose developed TPI, the world's first golf performance facility that looked at every aspect of a player's game, from equipment fitting to biomechanics and the human body. As TPI developed, it became evident that we should pass on the information obtained from working with the game's best through education, and the TPI Certified Brand was born. The TPI-certified brand is the largest of its kind globally, and those accredited experts have helped hundreds of thousands of recreational golfers enjoy the game. Since the start of the educational seminars in 2006, over 27,000 TPI-certified experts are now in 65 countries worldwide.

Dave appeared on the Golf Channel as co-host of the Golf Fitness Academy and Titleist Performance Institute Television shows, broadcast in 77 countries over an eight-year time frame. Dave has also written articles for Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, Sports Illustrated, Men's Health, and The Wall Street Journal; he is a sought-after public speaker who has lectured worldwide on sports performance and business.

 

David had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“We dive a little deeper. We heavily look at the physical attributes of athletes first, because that kind of unlocks how they work” (8:00).

“There’s a lot of people trying to be the best golfer in the world, but they’re trying to be somebody else because that’s their idol. And that’s not necessarily who they are” (8:15).

“My expertise is taking what I get, and then figuring out that puzzle… You’re trying to put the pieces back together so they can perform at their best” (8:30).

“I see a lot of younger players struggle because they’re trying to be someone that they’re not” (8:35).

“How can I do better with what I already have?” (11:30)

“It doesn’t matter what you look like. It matters can you perform” (13:20).

“I like to see unusual golf swings, I like to see unusual looking athletes, because if they’re competing at the same level as what people consider the model, then I’m way more interested in them than the normal” (13:35).

“Great athletes are willing to do the things that others aren’t willing to do” (14:30).

“Curiosity is that natural instinct we have to want to learn and to want to get better at something that we’re passionate about” (16:20).

“What great athletes have in common is they have a love for the game that they’re playing” (16:30).

“That’s the danger of being curious, you don’t know how to assemble the pieces. And that’s where great coaching comes in” (17:00).

“I think there’s a lot of us that are curious, but it does affect our ability to perform in competition” (17:15).

“If we can learn how we are, how can we then take that into a coaching model” (18:15).

“People think they’re going to get worse before they get better if they take a golf lesson. That’s a problem that the PGA of America should be addressing and needs to address” (28:15).

“If the door swings half open, I’m going through it” (33:20).

“One of the beautiful things about understanding the body is it’s just common sense” (36:30).

“It all starts [with movement]” (37:15).

“Movement, to me, is everything” (37:30).

“We’ve impacted hundreds of thousands of golfers, and I think we’re just scratching the surface” (40:25).

“We need to develop a well-care instead of a health-care society. People need ways to take better care of themselves and not rely so much on the system to take care of them” (41:45).

“I love what I do every day. I love trying to find out how to make players that are working with me better” (44:15).

“If you’ve got all this knowledge but you can’t get it out there, that to me is dangerous” (45:30).

“Having partners that have a like-minded mentality allow you to get to where you want to go much faster than you have before” (48:50).

“I very rarely say no because of my curiosity” (56:30).

“It’s really easy today to be judgmental… but be curious. Try and ask yourself the question ‘Why do they think that way’” (1:00:45).

“You need to end your day watching or listening to something funny. Don’t go to bed mad or upset” (1:03:00).

 

Additionally, make sure to follow TPI on all forms of social media @mytpi, and to check out the TPI website here!

Thank you so much to David for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Mike Deegan on the Joy of Coaching

Mike Deegan on the Joy of Coaching

March 2, 2022

Mike Deegan is the head baseball coach at Dennison University, where he is entering his 10th season. Coach Deegan has had tremendous success at the Division III level, winning 3 National Championships. He has also played in 2 National Championships as a player.

 

Mike had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“For a while I would make fun of people for being arrogant, but secretly I would surround myself with arrogant people because that’s what I was missing” (6:15).

“I’ve been beat over my head in my life to be humble so much so that I think it affects my performances” (6:30).

“You have to look at yourself as a coach ask how my behavior is affecting our team’s performance” (7:30).

“Being humble has served me very well. It makes me relatable and people enjoy me for the most part. But now I have found myself in rooms where I’m humble and I’m listening and I’m curious, but there is this small moment where I would probably be the expert and I don’t throw myself in the arena. And to me, that’s when humility can be hedging” (10:30).

“When those moments arise, I want to take it from a place of confidence to a place of arrogance” (11:20).

“You do everything you can within the rules to win the game” (14:30).

“We’re competing, but afterwards they shake your hands” (14:45).

“You can see culture” (15:20).

“What fills me up, where I think I can make the most impact, is by trying to be a transformational coach and preparing them for things outside of sport” (18:45).

“Why I love sports is because when the ball goes in the air, or the umpire says play ball, color of skin, religion, socioeconomic status, none of that matters. I feel that as a steward of sport, I have to hold onto that” (20:45).

“I have to be curious in order to keep up” (25:30).

“I want to be able to achieve, I want to be one of the best. The only way to do that is to keep learning and to keep growing” (25:50).

“I started not attaching my identity as much to performance as I used to” (28:00).

“At the center of everything for us is the relationships and joy” (31:00).

“If you were to see us play, I hope you see us with big smiles on our faces” (31:15).

“If you play in a great program, the star revolves” (33:35).

“You need to reflect and understand what do I want out of this experience” (43:50).

“The success that we’ve had, the growth that we’ve had, has been a long time of maximizing those training opportunities” (58:30).

“I used our budget this year not to buy bats to buy books” (59:45).

 

Make sure to follow Mike on Twitter and to check out his website as well. Additionally, you can buy Mike’s book, Let it Rip: Life Lessons Learned Through Sports, anywhere they sell books. I would also encourage you to check out The Coach’s Clinic Podcast. Lastly, please feel free to reach out to Mike if you would like via email: mike@coachmikedeegan.com.

Thank you so much to Mike for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Gavin McClurg on Risk Taking

Gavin McClurg on Risk Taking

February 23, 2022

Gavin McClurg is no stranger to adventure and exploration. He is a 2015 National Geographic “Adventurer of the Year” for his unpowered paragliding expedition across the Canadian Rockies (documented in the Red Bull Media House feature film “The Rockies Traverse”). He became the first person to traverse the full length of the Alaska Range by foot and paraglider (unsupported) in 2016 (documented in the Red Bull Media House feature film “North of Known”). He is the owner, founder and Captain of “Offshore Odysseys”, a global kitesurfing/surfing/sailing expedition. He has twice circumnavigated the world by sail, living at sea for 13 straight years, including short-handed roundings of both notorious capes (Horn and Good Hope). Gavin holds the former North American record for foot launched cross-country paragliding, a flight of 240 miles deep into Montana from his hometown of Sun Valley, Idaho. Gavin is the first American (and only 3rd non-European) to complete the “toughest adventure race on Earth”, the Red Bull X-Alps a paragliding / foot race across the Alps from Salzburg to Monaco. In ten days, Gavin flew 1560 kilometers, walked 498 (12+ marathons) and scaled 52,000 meters of vertical ascent on foot (Everest 5 times). Gavin competed again in 2017, 2019, and 2021.

Some more of Gavin’s career highlights include: 2015 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year; 8th place Red Bull X-Alps and the first American to reach goal in Monaco in the race’s history; Former World Mountain Distance record holder in paragliding (387 kilometers, 240 miles); 2 X circumnavigations by sail, including short-handed rounding of both Capes (Horn and Good hope). 160,000 total miles; Created, founded, captained and current CEO of Offshore Odysseys, an ocean-based expedition company based around kitesurfing, surfing and paragliding; Former US Alpine Ski Team member; Several first descents (kayaking) in Central America (class VI); Published author, countless magazine features

 

Gavin had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“He was an explorer in terms of his entrepreneurial spirit. He was always trying stuff that was 10 years too far in the future” (21:30).

“Most people go to security when they have that kind of background, and for me it was the opposite” (22:25).

“For whatever reason, I’ve always been drawn to speed and risk” (23:40).

“When you’re letting your subconscious do the work and you’re so embedded in the moment, then all of this frivolous stuff that drives life, that’s distracting and stressful and sometimes painful, goes away” (24:50).

“It’s a battle against your own mind” (27:35).

“The risks are enormous, and I think eventually for everybody the luck’s going to run out” (30:25).

“Until that day, I hadn’t understood death” (33:00).

“Death is a fascinating animal” (36:15).

“I feel celebratory, in a sense, towards the concept of death. To me, it’s a driver. It’s kind of like fear. Fear is a really good thing; it keeps you alive” (36:30).

“The inevitability of death is a really good thing because it reminds me every day of how important and how precious every day is” (36:50).

“We’ve all got to figure out how to replace that rush with something else” (40:30).

“That’s what I want to do. I want to have the most fun” (41:55).

“The more we separate ourselves from attainment, and the more we can be present, then we’re winning” (42:20).

“Just being who you are is good enough” (42:35).

“Sometimes, you have to be dumb enough to launch. Otherwise, life is pretty gray” (44:00).

“If you’re not falling, you’re not pushing hard enough” (44:25).

“That’s my New Year’s resolution every year: to be more present, to be here, and to be grateful and thankful for that” (46:00).

“That’s what my daughter has taught me: to be more curious” (49:15).

“Wow we are lucky. Wow we are fortunate” (52:45).

 

Make sure to follow Gavin on Instagram and Facebook. Additionally, you can purchase Gavin’s book, "Advanced Paragliding,” wherever books are sold. Gavin has also written hundreds of magazine articles and been part of many films. Lastly, you can find Gavin’s recent TedXTalk here!

Thank you so much to Gavin for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Grace Aduroja Kolker on Achievement and Fulfillment

Grace Aduroja Kolker on Achievement and Fulfillment

February 16, 2022

Grace Aduroja Kolker is a friend of mine, someone I look up to, and someone who I consider to be a mentor. Grace is a coach who is extremely wise when it comes to things like communication, emotional intelligence, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and decision making. I personally have sent many friends to to get coached by her. Grace and I work together often as facilitators and she is my go-to when I need help with a tricky situation. Grace is also a lawyer by trade, so she’s going to talk about her background in law and why she didn’t continue down that path of being a practicing lawyer. She also has a journalism background. She is somebody who has had to ask questions for legal purposes, had to ask questions as a journalist, and is somebody who is just ridiculously curious. Grace is amazingly inquisitive and is a leadership coach. She is someone who holds space for people, develops people, and also facilitates conversations in group experiences. Grace is someone who I look up to, someone who makes me wiser and better at my job, and we often co-facilitate together. Additionally, she has a high-potential accelerator where she will work with individuals one-on-one.

 

Grace had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“People always want breakthroughs, but what I found is that breakthroughs don’t usually come without breakdowns” (5:50).

“I loved being in the thick of things” (10:20).

“I’m just a performer” (12:45).

“I just perform. Your racism is not my problem, it’s not my business” (12:50).

“Whatever it is, I’m going to perform” (13:15).

“If I have the ability to turn out and produce a result, I’m absolutely going to do it” (21:20).

“I wanted to go to law school to think like a lawyer” (21:45).

“I didn’t have a sense of identity outside of achievement” (22:15).

“Our thoughts are that automatic, they’re like our nails growing or our heart beating… You don’t have to give into those nasty thoughts” (32:30).

“I have a fulfilling life now, but it’s because I’m not trying to counteract some negative programming that I wound up with because I’m a human being” (41:25).

“What I want is to make a difference. What I want is for people around me to be empowered. What I want is for women to discover their leadership and get that it doesn’t have to be the old conversation of what leadership is” (41:40).

“When you have achievement for achievement’s sake, it will feel good and you’ll keep chasing the carrot. There will come a point where there’s some silence and stillness and you realize that it’s not fulfilling” (46:20).

“Their impression of you is not your business” (57:30).

“When I read an article, my favorite part is always the comments. How are people actually reading it and responding to it?” (1:06:05).

“We sit down, and we just envision: if this was the best year of our life, what would we have?” (1:10:05).

 

Thank you so much to Grace for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Celeste Headlee on Speaking of Race

Celeste Headlee on Speaking of Race

February 9, 2022

Celeste Headlee is an award-winning journalist, professional speaker and author of We Need to Talk: How To Have Conversations That Matter, and Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving. An expert in conversation, human nature, reclaiming common humanity and finding well-being, Celeste frequently provides insight on what is good for all humans and what is bad for us, focusing the best research in neuro and social science to increase understanding of how we relate with one another and can work together in beneficial ways in our workplaces, neighborhoods, communities and homes. She is a regular guest host on NPR and American Public Media and a highly sought consultant, advising companies around the world on conversations about race, diversity and inclusion. Her TEDx Talk sharing 10 ways to have a better conversation has over 26 million total views, and she serves as an advisory board member for ProCon.org and The Listen First Project. Celeste is recipient of the 2019 Media Changemaker Award. Her new book, Speaking of Race is available now. She is the proud granddaughter of composer William Grant Still, the Dean of African American Composers.

 

Celeste had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“I try to constantly remind myself while I’m doing whatever I’m doing that I need to just take a pause, take a moment, at any point” (11:05).

“Stop and think first” (11:15).

“I try to judge the action and not the person” (13:00).

“What worked for you may not work for me” (14:00).

“I try to be as honest as possible because I don’t want people to, when they stumble, or when something doesn’t work for them, I don’t want them to give up. I want them to figure out what does work for them” (14:50).

“What works for you? What makes you a good person? (17:35).

“Buddhism doesn’t have a holy book; it has a library” (18:00).

“You’re going to feel this, and whatever it is that you’re feeling, that’s okay” (19:00).

“We need white guys to be leading these conversations [on race]” (29:30).

“This is the dichotomy of America. We can be both full of high ideals and admirable values, and yet vote with our feet and make the wrong decision over and over and over again” (32:50).

“Fame can also mean there’s lots of people who feel like it’s their right to comment on your choices and interfere” (35:40).

“Fame doesn’t seem to me like it’s something I would ever strive for” (36:50).

“It always confuses me when people say they want to be famous. Why? For what reason?” (37:00).

“To be a singer, you have to learn how to let your body respond at every moment to the emotion you’re feeling” (38:30).

“I always wanted to stand on my own two feet. I was either going to make it or I wasn’t” (39:45).

“Music has the power to transcend our thoughts. It has the power to touch us on a visceral level” (40:00).

“I don’t believe in doing stuff if you’re going to half-ass it” (41:00).

“If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it 100%” (41:15).

“I’m not going to do anything that causes harm” (44:45).

“There’s nothing better in the world than to feel like you’ve been useful” (46:10).

“Any conversation about race and identity is emotional” (52:00).

“If you’re having a conversation about race, it’s entirely emotional” (52:10).

“Race is real because racism is real” (52:35).

“One of the ways I have patience for strangers is by imagining they were one of my relatives” (55:00).

“All of us have too many unconscious biases lurking underneath that leak out of us, that are ready to make our decisions for us, and so we need a posse, we need a group of people, and that needs to be the people around you, so you need to understand each other, you need to talk about it, you need to find the limits of your bias and your compassion, and just make it an absolutely open discussion” (59:15).

“You have to create a culture of correction. Meaning you’re creating an environment in which it’s expected that people are going to screw up, and therefore you train in how to respond when someone says the wrong thing or does the wrong thing” (1:01:35).

“In a culture of correction, mistakes are not exceptional, they’re expected” (1:02:10).

“That’s a lesson that can serve you in every aspect of your life is learning how to let go” (1:12:45).

 

Additionally, make sure to follow Celeste on both Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you so much to Celeste for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Todd Kashdan on Curiosity and Insubordination

Todd Kashdan on Curiosity and Insubordination

February 2, 2022

Todd B. Kashdan, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at George Mason University, a leading authority on well-being, psychological flexibility, curiosity, courage, and resilience. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles and his work has been cited over 35,000 times. He received the Faculty Member of the Year Award from George Mason University and Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contributions from the American Psychological Association. He is the author of Curious? and The Upside of Your Dark Side, and his latest book is The Art of Insubordination: How to Dissent and Defy Effectively. His writing has appeared in the Harvard Business Review, National Geographic, Fast Company, among other publications, and his research is featured regularly in media outlets such as The Atlantic, The New York Times, NPR, and Time Magazine. He's a twin with twin daughters (plus one more), with plans to rapidly populate the world with great conversationalists.

 

Todd had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“If the goal is to keep someone on task for your teachings and your precepts of a religion, a doctrine, whether it’s an anti-racism unit, whether it’s a well-being unit in an organization, as soon as you make something taboo, you’ve just raised the stakes in terms of people exploring, discovering, and finding out that there are lots of holes in the argument” (8:45).

“How can we use all of these tools for positive, healthy causes to move society forwards, to move our personal development forward” (12:20).

“The stronger ideological convictions are, the less space there is to be curious” (12:30).

“Curiosity makes you find flaws in people’s arguments” (14:30).

“The reason we have a 3-pound brain in our head is that we are trying to make a more predictable, less uncertain environment as we walk through the world” (17:20).

“There’s something really valuable about having precise language to describe ourselves to other people” (19:30)

“The best way to effectively communicate if you are in the minority position is to be incredibly consistent with your message” (23:00).

“I really like the term consistency over conviction. The message is the same, but I’m listening to what you have to say” (28:30).

“Fail quick. Fail often. Let’s innovate” (41:40).

“The best way to move away from being called the pejorative term of being called a flip-flopper and to move towards the virtuous act of constantly growing and evolving is to be as objective as possible in doing a problem audit of where you made mistakes before” (48:15).

“That’s what people want. They want predictability. They want to reduce uncertainty” (50:15).

“One of the emotions that I use in my own life that I harness extremely well is envy” (54:05).

“I’m harnessing the negative, uncomfortable experience of envy to actually improve my own strengths and my own skills as a public speaker” (55:25).

“That is psychological flexibility. Harnessing your negative emotions in pursuit of a valued aim” (55:45).

“That’s psychological flexibility as well. Transitions between our different life roles as opposed to letting those life roles merge so tightly together that we feel as if we’re not on top of being a parent, a worker, a lover, a son, or a daughter” (57:30).

“You have to think less about the job and more about what about you made you want to do that job in the first place” (1:03:15).

“Assume that everyone is incredibly intelligent, and that includes young kids” (1:18:15).

“Mental simulations of alternative possibilities are an incredible way to increase curiosity” (1:21:00).

“Just by posing these mental simulations of alternative realities allows us to think with a level of curiosity of there’s not one way to do something. There’s not one answer” (1:22:00).

“Try to create groups where people are able to speak because you are open-minded and curious. They’re willing to speak what they actually think because you’re willing to work with the material” (1:23:30).

 

Make sure to follow Todd on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok @toddkashdan. Additionally, I would encourage you to follow Todd on Facebook and LinkedIn. Also, feel free to email Todd if you’d like to reach out: todd@toddkashdan.com. You can order Todd’s latest book, The Art of Insubordination: How to Dissent and Defy Effectively, here as well! Lastly, you can find Todd’s publications of over 200 articles here!

Thank you so much to Todd for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Sian Beilock on Performing Under Pressure and Leading Teams

Sian Beilock on Performing Under Pressure and Leading Teams

January 26, 2022

Sian Beilock studies how performance anxiety can be exasperated or alleviated in the simple strategies we use to ensure success under pressure. In addition to that, Sian is the president at Barnard College at Columbia University. Barnard is one of the most selective academic institutions in the US. Barnard is devoted to empowering exceptional women to change the world and the way we think about it. Prior to her appointment as President, she served as the University of Chicago Executive Vice Provost. She also worked in the Psychology department. Sian is a cognitive scientist by training and is one of the world’s leading experts on the brain science behind choking under pressure.

 

Sian had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“One of the hardest parts of learning how to become a successful leader is learning how to delegate and that you can’t do everything” (5:45).

“We’re limited capacity people. We can only focus on so many things at once” (6:00).

“My favorite part of being in a leadership position is when other people have really good ideas and I get to help propel them forward” (8:40).

“When you have different perspectives at the table and people can speak openly and honestly without fear of retribution, you get the best ideas” (9:00).

“We are teaching students at Barnard how to think. Not what to think, but how to think” (14:10).

“The greatest performers sometimes aren’t the best coaches. It can be hard for them to understand the mistakes of someone who is a novice or someone who’s not as skilled as them” (19:20).

“I’m a big proponent of having multiple selves. All of the research is pretty clear on that having multiple aspects of your own identity that you can enjoy and focus on is really a good mental health buffer” (23:50).

“It’s hard not to be able to do everything” (25:20).

“For me it’s about having the best people at the table” (28:05).

“There’s something special about having women leading and teaching you, and about debunking the stereotype that women can’t do it” (29:00).

“Our students come out being willing to speak their minds and being willing to be uncomfortable” (31:15).

“The classroom is a brave space, not a safe space. It’s totally okay to feel uncomfortable in the classroom” (31:20).

“We want you women who have failed, who feel okay taking risks and knowing it’s not going to be perfect” (32:00).

“Everyone can feel like an imposter, it’s not just women” (34:45).

“Where I get the most satisfaction is when something is stressful, and I don’t know if I can do it all, and I figure out what route we need to take to get there” (35:30).

“Figuring out what you don’t know is so important for success” (36:50).

“Pressure can be both internal and external” (44:00).

“If you’re going to lead an institution, you have to understand what values that institution holds (46:00).

“You can’t come in from the outside and just impose your values on a place. You’ve got to understand what they ethos is and where you can have an impact” (47:00).

“I don’t think you can do well academically if you don’t feel well outside of the classroom” (50:40).

“No one can do anything alone anymore. We all need that support” (51:50).

“It’s got to be fun to work hard in whatever you’re doing” (56:00).

 

Make sure to check out Sian’s website, in addition to watching her TedTalk and buying her book “Choke” anywhere you can buy books! You can also follow her on Instagram @PresBeilock and on Twitter @SianBeilock!

Thank you so much to Sian for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Nick Tasler on Decision Making

Nick Tasler on Decision Making

January 19, 2022

Nick Tasler is an internationally acclaimed thought leader on the science of decisions and their impact on the growth of leaders, teams and organizations. He is also a leadership columnist for the Harvard Business Review and the #1 best-selling author of The Impulse Factor: An Innovative Approach to Better Decision Making and Domino: The Simplest Way to Inspire Change. Nick’s work has been featured by The New York Times, Fast Company, Bloomberg, Fox Business, NPR, BBC, NBC, CBS and other leading media outlets all around the world.

 

As an organizational psychologist and keynote speaker, Nick has helped tens of thousands of leaders apply a simple decision framework for transforming seasons of change into periods of unprecedented personal and professional growth at the world’s most respected organizations ranging from Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, and Target to 3M, Accenture, the Wharton School, Yale University and more.

 

Nomadic by nature, Nick and his wife and their four kids live in…lots of places, ranging from Minnesota to Puerto Rico.

 

Nick had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“The right decision in the moment is not nearly as valuable if isn’t tied to some overarching purpose and direction” (7:00).

“Every good business needs to have an overarching, strategic direction. A statement of where we are trying to go that is deeper than a mission statement” (7:30).

“We all want health, wealth, and happiness. We all want to make a difference... But quite often these things will come in conflict with each other. What do you do then?” (8:30).

“As human beings, we have somewhere between 8-10 universal values” (11:45).

“Your decision pulse is something that you choose, and at different times we’re going to put different things higher” (13:30).

“The core of my definition of freedom is I want to be free to think about what I want to think about when I want to think about it” (21:15).

“This is what I’m wanting to do and I’m willing to take any risk to make it happen” (27:45).

“We need to start stepping out of our comfort zone and just playing for the next week” (33:30).

“It’s all about testing your gut, rather than blindly trusting your gut” (37:25).

“We can take risks, but we don’t have to bet the farm every time” (37:30).

“Of course, we want to keep our customers happy and make money… but for our business, given our unique strengths in this particular marketplace, what is going to be OUR focal point?” (43:30).

“It’s ok to take a risk as long as it’s directionally correct” (44:10).

“Cognitive ability is important, up to a certain level, in leadership” (47:00).

“What is the flow state? It’s a situation where the rest of the world just melts away and you can focus on the task at hand” (52:05).

“There’s value in presenting an idea to somebody that gets them to think different about the way that they’re thinking, behaving, and relating to other people. That’s what inspiration is” (55:30).

“I firmly believe that you can accomplish anything you want this year. But you can’t accomplish everything you want this year” (1:02:00).

“You have to make a decision on what you’re going to shoot for and what you’re going to quit” (1:02:15).

“You haven’t made a decision until you’ve decided NOT to do something else, to quit something else” (1:03:30).

 

Make sure to check out Nick on Twitter, as well as on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Thank you so much to Nick for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

April Dunford on Positioning

April Dunford on Positioning

January 12, 2022

April Dunford is the world’s leading expert on product positioning. She works with fast-growing tech companies helping them clearly articulate the value they alone can deliver to customers. She is the author of the bestselling positioning book Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get it, Buy it, Love it.

 

April had a number of amazing insights during our conversation. Some of them include:

“My calling is more as a teacher than anything else” (8:00).

“In the work I’m doing right now as a consultant, really my job is to be a teacher” (8:18).

“As a teacher and a facilitator, I’m teaching the team and I’m facilitating the team to come up with the answers themselves” (14:25).

“When we’re doing positioning work, we’re very focused on customers, problems, solutions… how do we actually tell the story of this product in a way that really helps customers make a good purchase decision?” (15:24).

“When you’re inside a big company, you have to fight really hard to get a promotion, to move your way up” (17:00).

“You need to influence people that don’t work for you and don’t have to do what you say” (22:40).

“In the work I do with positioning, we always have sales executives in the room because if they don’t understand the positioning, it won’t be reflected in the way they talk to customers” (34:14).

“How do we take positioning and translate it into a sales pitch that really works for the sales team?” (35:55)

“We need to be ruthless about asking if this is a good fit for us or not? And if it’s not, we shouldn’t try to sell to those people” (37:55).

“We need to arm sales reps so they have the confidence to be able to say this one wasn’t a good fit. They didn’t care about these 3 things, which are the 3 things we focus on and care about”. (41:20).

“The goal of positioning is to make it really clear what I do and what I’m awesome at in a way that attracts a pipeline full of these best-fit people” (45:19).

“Just because you’re doing something doesn’t mean you’re doing it with any sort of repeatability” (51:50).

“We’re positioning whether we’re doing it consciously or not” (53:30).

“The first thing we have to answer in the minds of customers is what is this thing? The second question is is it important to me?” (55:00).

 

Make sure to check out April on Twitter, as well as her website here!

Thank you so much to April for coming on the podcast!

I wrote a book called “Shift Your Mind” that was released in October of 2020, and you can order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Additionally, I have launched a company called Strong Skills, and I encourage you to check out our new website https://www.strongskills.co/. If you liked this episode and/or any others, please follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

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