Clint Harp and his wife Kelly own their own handmade furniture design business Harp Design in Waco Tx.  He was formerly a regularly recurring guest in the hit TV show Fixer Upper and currently stars in his own television series called Wood Work. His new book is called Handcrafted: A Woodworker’s Story

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

 

  • Sometimes we may hang on to a dream for too long. His original dream was to be a musician but eventually realized that he didn’t have the talent and had to accept that his life’s plan lay elsewhere.
  • He quit a lucrative job in medical sales without any safety net to pursue his passion of building furniture.
  • Only by being 100% honest with his wife and admitting that he was struggling with his new furniture design business was he able to earn her trust and respect which allowed their marriage to grow stronger as a result.
  • Learn how a fortuitous encounter at a gas station would change the trajectory of his career and his life.
  • He had a few lucky breaks along the way but everyone does. It’s what do you do with those lucky breaks that’s so critical to success.
  • Learn how he became known as the dumpster-diving, reclaimed wood-loving carpenter.
  • “Looking at a pile of wood on my shop floor might be one of my favorite things to do. What might appear to be a mess is really a beautiful creation just waiting to be put together.”
  • “What I am is a journeyman. A dreamer. A kid who once sat at the base of a tree and imagined what was possible. A guy who now stands at the foot of the mountain trying to claw my way to the top, knowing there’s another peak right around the corner.”

Scott Hamilton is a retired figure skater and Olympic gold medalist. He won four consecutive U.S. championships from 1981–84, four consecutive World Championships from 1981–84 and a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics.  Since that time he has been a TV commentator, a motivational speaker, the founder of a skating academy, a cancer survivor and the founder of a cancer research center.  He is a New York Times bestselling author and his latest book is called Finish First: Winning Changes Everything.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Finishing first doesn’t necessarily mean finishing first. Accomplishing whatever goal you set for yourself is a finish first moment.
  • “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”
  • It was his mother’s passing that was the catalyst which woke him up and allowed him to take his skating to another level.
  • He gave away all his medals and trophies because he didn’t want to let them be an anchor to prevent him from moving forward.
  • All of the losing earlier in his career was actually great preparation for ultimately learning how to compete and win.
  • “Excellence is leveraging everything we have to live the best life we possibly can.”

Beth Comstock spent over 25 years at GE where she was a vice chair, CEO of Business Innovations and Chief Marketing Officer among other roles. She has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, Fortune and Fast Company and has been named to the Fortune and Forbes lists of the world’s most powerful women.  Her new book is titled Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Risk taking is a skill that can be learned.
  • “Most of us fear losing what we have more than we desire winning something we don’t have.”
  • Due to her risk taking mentality, Jeff promoted her to Chief Marketing Officer, a role that hadn’t existed at GE for over two decades.
  • She had to overcome a lack of self-confidence along with her introversion in order to speak up, challenge others and be effective in her role.
  • Success correlates as closely with confidence as it does with competence.
  • Much of the success of Hulu was attributed to hiring an entrepreneur from the outside and keeping him independent vs hiring someone from the inside.
  • She led GE’s disruptive green initiative called Ecomagination which pushed an aggressive clean energy agenda throughout GE’s multiple business lines.
  • GE executives often struggled to see parallels from developments happening in other industries due to a common cognitive bias called Functional Fixedness.
  • She pioneered a new program at GE called Fastworks which leveraged the lean methodology to experiment with new product ideas, increase innovation and accelerate time to market.
  • “Excellence is a never ending journey of learning and trying to get better.”

 

Doug Bernstein is the co-founder and CEO of Melissa and Doug, a several hundred million dollar toy company focused mostly on simple classic toys for children up to 5 years of age.  He and his wife Melissa started the company together about 30 years ago.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • They never intended to build a company from the beginning but rather, were driven by their shared passion to do something good for children.
  • They are a product company at its core. If they simply focus on making great products, everything else will take care of itself.
  • Adversity can fuel motivation. When their supplier decided to compete directly with them, rather than sue or wallow in despair, they shifted their product development cycle and started to innovate with new products so quickly that nobody could keep up with them.
  • If you look at an obstacle as something that will take you out of the game, then it will. But if you look at it as something that you have to figure out how to get around, then you will find a way.
  • They’ve never been tempted to venture into apps and digital media despite external pressure because they feel it’s not good for children at that age and it’s against their corporate values.
  • They grew to several hundred million in revenue without one dollar of advertising. It was entirely word-of-mouth.
  • They don’t do any product testing but are still able to maintain a 75% hit rate with new product introductions.
  • “Excellence is always bringing your very best to what you do and always having the inner pride to do things the very best way.”

Daniel Negreanua (aka “Kid Poker”) is a professional poker player who has won six World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets and two World Poker Tour (WPT) championship titles. The independent poker ranking service Global Poker Index (GPI) recognized Negreanu as the best poker player of the decade in 2014.  As of 2018, he is the 2nd biggest live tournament poker winner of all time, having accumulated over $39,500,000 in prize money. He is the only player in history to win WSOP Player of the Year twice.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He was making more money than his teachers playing poker so he quit high school to pursue his passion full time.
  • He would keep a journal during his games where he would track his mood and observe how it affected his game play. This allowed him to better control his emotional states and be more steady and focused.
  • His advantage and edge is mental preparation and the ability to deal with adversity when it comes.
  • It’s important to get clear on what your intention is going into something. It’s about knowing what the steps are to accomplish whatever intention that you set.
  • “Whenever you think that you’ve mastered something in life, that’s the exact moment when someone’s about to surpass you.”
  • There’s a difference between being a victim to circumstance and standing completely responsible for your results.
  • Excellence is the pursuit of ultimate integrity which means doing exactly what you said you were going to do.

Scott Jurek is widely regarded as one of the greatest runners of all time.  He has won most of ultrarunning’s elite events including the Hardrock 100, the Badwater 135, and the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, which he won a record seven straight times. His most recent accomplishment is his 2015 Appalachian Trail speed record, averaging nearly 50 miles a day over 46 days.  He is a New York Times-bestselling author and his latest book is called North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He averaged nearly 50 miles a day for 46 days to set a new Appalachian Trail speed record.
  • Watching his mother suffer with multiple sclerosis at a young age gave him the fortitude later in life to fight through the pain and suffering during long runs.
  • Humans were built for extreme endurance. If you want it badly enough and are willing to endure the suffering, you can run an ultramarathon.
  • Being adaptable and being able to adjust his mental state on race day was a key ingredient of his willing so many ultra races.
  • He had lost the passion and drive to really push himself and test his boundaries. Running the Appalachian Trail gave him the spark he needed to rekindle that fire in his belly.
  • Learn how he fought through excruciating injuries in both legs to keep moving on his way to setting the record.
  • “Excellence is being the best that you can possibly be. There is no end point. It’s something we’re always striving for.”

 

Show Notes

Scott Jurek’s book: North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail https://www.amazon.com/North-Finding-While-Running-Appalachian/dp/0316433799/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528762039&sr=8-1&keywords=scott+jurek

Scott Jurek’s website: http://www.scottjurek.com/

 

Nicola is one of the most sought-after violinists of her generation.  She is one of the most influential classical artists in the world and has played with the finest orchestras and symphonies from around the globe. She was the BBC Young Musician of the Year at age 16, twice the Female Artist of the Year at the classical BRIT awards and has sold millions of records.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • As early as the age of 5, she was so emotionally moved by music that she would often be brought to tears while playing.
  • It’s important to focus early on in life. Once you learn to push through certain barriers, you can apply that discipline to other areas in which you choose to devote your life.
  • She never had any long term goals of becoming a world class violinist but rather, was always hyper focused on just improving one day at a time.
  • Beyond her technical mastery, she had a natural stage presence which enabled her to take her talent to the next level.
  • When she performs she enters the “flow state” whereby she becomes so engrossed in playing that she’s no longer thinking but rather, enters a period of emotional timelessness.
  • Learn how she was able to top not only the classical charts but the Top 30 Pop Album charts as well.
  • Excellence isn’t just about the discipline, dedication and relentless work ethic but also about being immensely curious about the larger philosophical questions outside of their areas of expertise.

Josh Blue is a comedian. He has cerebral palsy which forms the basis for much of his self-deprecating humor.  He won first place on NBC’s Last Comic Standing in its fourth season. He has appeared in a number of comedy specials on Comedy Central, Showtime, Bravo and Netflix and has been featured in several publications including People Magazine, The New York Times and NPR. His YouTube videos have been viewed millions of times. He was also a member of the US Paralympic Soccer Team.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Learn how he didn’t try to run or hide from his cerebral palsy but rather, made it an integral part of his comedy early on.
  • A turning point in his life was spending a year in Senegal and coming to appreciate how fortunate he was to just have food, clothing and shelter.
  • Hear about his crazy experiment living in the gorilla exhibit at the zoo for a day.
  • It takes most comedians years to refine their material to get a good 10 minute act but Josh had that “it factor” (i.e. stage presence and likeability) from day one.
  • “A joke is just a story with all the extra words taken out.”
  • He is so talented and spontaneous on stage that he never has to write down any of his material. He tests new material “on the fly” during live performances.
  • “Excellence is being so in tune with what you’re doing that nobody can touch it.”