Colin Follenweider is one of the top professional stuntmen in Hollywood. He has performed stunts in Spider-Man, Transformers, Iron Man, X-Men, Captain America, Avatar, and Die Hard and has 86 total stunt credits to his name.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He is one of Hollywood’s top stuntmen and has performed stunts in dozens of blockbuster films.
  • It’s good to know the direction you’re heading, even if you’re not sure of the ultimate destination.
  • His motto was “Action, Inspiration”. If you always wait for inspiration to hit, you’re going to keep waiting.  But if you start doing something, you’re going to get inspired how to do it.
  • He wasn’t necessarily the best at every kind of stunt but he could do most stunts well enough and unlike many stunt people, he was really easy going. People enjoyed hanging around him which made them want to work with him again and again.
  • Stunt work is a highly collaborative effort. “Spiralling in” is when you start with lots of ideas around the outside and slowly tweak them on the way toward reaching a compromise that works for everyone.
  • Even if you’re very confident in something, when you lose your nervousness about it and you take it for granted, that’s when accidents are most likely to happen.
  • “The pursuit of excellence is more important than the accomplishment of saying ‘I’m excellent’. Being mildly disappointed helps the pursuit of excellence, as you’re always striving to get better.”

David Fajgenbaum is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the associate director for the Orphan Disease Center.  He is also cofounder and executive director of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network and the cofounder of the National Students of Ailing Mothers and Fathers Support Network. He has received numerous awards including the Forbes “30 Under 30” for healthcare and the RARE Champion of Hope Award for science.  His memoir is titled Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope into Action.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • David has a hyperfocus variant of ADHD which allows him to focus for hours upon hours on a topic which has enabled much of his success.
  • The way he started living life with no regrets was through his new mantra: “Think it, do it”. If he thinks about doing something and it’s really important, he doesn’t over think it like he used to.  He just does it.
  • He was able to see humor even in the most dire of circumstances. “I came to understand that in no situation other than facing death is a sense of humor more necessary. Humor made me look my suffering in the eye and laugh at it. Facing my horrible moments with laughter was just as fundamentally a rejection of Castleman’s dominion over me as anything else I was doing.”
  • We still have a long way to go. 95% of the 7,000 rare diseases that affect 30 million Americans don’t have a single FDA approved therapy.
  • Either you’re hopeful and you wait for that thing you’re hoping for to become reality or you’re very action oriented and you take matters into your own hands. He has learned to turn hope into action.
  • Don’t just sit back and wait for the silver linings to appear but what can you do to create the silver linings. It’s up to you to make some positive out of something terrible.
  • “I consider myself to be very fortunate. My experience has liberated me to follow my passions and has given me peace, knowing that I’m making the most of every day while my clock is ticking.”
  • “Excellence is doing exactly what you feel driven to do to the absolute best of your ability.”

 

Show Notes:

Book: Chasing My Cure

Castleman Disease Collaborative Network

University of Pennsylvania bio page

In 2019 Victor became the first person to dive in a submersible to the deepest points in all five of the world’s oceans. In 2017 he became the 12th person to complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam, climbing the highest peak on all seven continents and skiing to the North and South Poles.  He is the managing partner of a private equity firm called Insight Equity and holds degrees from Stanford, MIT, and Harvard Business School.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Doing well in school wasn’t about some unfettered ambition but rather, a desire to explore and just be good at something.
  • It’s nice to have a plan but plans don’t always work out so it’s important to give yourself options. When you’re young, you should build a really good skill set and from there opportunities will surface.
  • “We should try to live as maximally as we can and make precious use of this time that we’re given because it goes quickly.”
  • He never set out to climb all 7 peaks as a goal but rather “just fell into it” by wanting to do things that were interesting.
  • “I don’t think we’re put on this Earth just to be comfortable. I believe there has to be an element of challenge and suffering to have a complete life.”
  • “Humans have this ability to draw this incredible strength to overcome our bodies and our minds to do extraordinary things.”
  • “You can’t let fear control you because fear can lead to panic and panic can lead to disaster.”
  • “Excellence is never stopping to continuing to improve.”

Alan Alda is an actor, director, author, and communications guru.  He has received 6 Emmys and been nominated 34 times. He has also been nominated 3 times for a Tony and once for an Oscar. He is most known for playing Dr. Hawkeye Pierce on the TV series MASH and has been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. He is also an accomplished author with a number of New York Times bestselling books, the latest one titled: If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating.  He is the co-founder of The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. And he is also the host of his own podcast called Clear and Vivid.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • The only kind of formal training Alan had was improvisation which is equally valuable in real life as it is in acting. If you’re able to connect with another person, things happen between you that would never happen otherwise.
  • “You have to get your brain so devoted to what you’re doing and to how you understand what you’re doing that the rest of your body comes along with it.”
  • In regards to acting, “it’s hard stuff but I’m ecstatic and I love it. There’s a wonderful feeling of flying when it goes well.”
  • “If we all thought a little bit more like scientists, we might make better decisions.”
  • “The most impressive scientists attack their own ideas before anybody else can.”
  • External awards like an Emmy aren’t nearly as motivating to him as the internal reward to getting better at his craft.
  • “Rather that strive for excellence, it’s better to strive for pretty damn good.”

Terry Fator is a ventriloquist, impressionist, stand-up comedian, and singer. He won season 2 of America’s Got Talent in 2007 and has performing his award winning show at the Mirage in Las Vegas ever since.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Learn how Terry went from performing small shows town by town, fair by fair to having a $100 million act performing at the Mirage in Vegas.
  • He is a rare talent able to combine ventriloquism, comedy, impressions, and singing all into one incredible act.
  • Having ADHD enabled his talent as a ventriloquist as he was able to split his brain into multiple personalities.
  • Happiness is a choice.
  • What’s behind his incredible success? It’s never being satisfied and always striving to make the next performance better than the last.
  • “The human ability to be creative and have ingenuity is limitless.”
  • “If a door opens and you’re not ready to go through, that’s on you.”
  • If you’re not happy now, you’re not going to be happy when you’re rich and famous.
  • “Excellence is doing something that makes us feel that we’re doing it at the best possible capacity that we could be doing it at.”

Dan Buettner is an explorer, National Geographic Fellow, award-winning journalist and producer, and a New York Times bestselling author. He discovered the five places in the world—dubbed Blue Zones—where people live the longest, healthiest lives.  He is the founder of Blue Zones , a company that puts the world’s best practices in longevity and well-being to work in people’s lives. He has written a number of NY Times best-selling books with his latest one titled: “The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100”.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Setting world records on a bike was a vehicle to fund his addiction to fascinations. The work needed to set these world records provided the tools needed for future scientific exploration – you have to develop a lot of patience, you have to be strategically prepared, and you have to know how to network with experts across various fields.
  • He has discovered and studied hot spots of longevity around the world where people are statistically the longest lived. He coined these regions Blue Zones.  Blue Zones must meet at least one of three criteria: high middle aged mortality (chances of reaching the age of 90), low chronic disease, or high centenarian rate.
  • Health behaviors are known to be measurably contagious.
  • Going to the gym a few times a week isn’t enough to offset the damage from a sedentary lifestyle. It’s important to move around naturally throughout the day.
  • People who know their sense of purpose live around 8 years longer than people who are rudderless.
  • Other important practices found in Blue Zones include sacred everyday rituals to relieve the stresses of everyday life; a diet composed primarily of plant based whole foods; a couple glasses of wine a day; breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper; putting family first; belonging to a faith; strong social support systems.
  • Loneliness is as harmful for your health as a bad smoking habit.
  • What produces health is not a function of behavioral modification but rather a function of the environment in which we live.
  • “Excellence is having a very clear idea of what your personal passions are, what you’re good at, and having an outlet to do it every day for most of your life.”

Charles Schwab is the founder and chairman of The Charles Schwab Corporation. What began as a small discount brokerage company in the 70’s has evolved to become the nation’s largest publicly traded investment services firm, with close to $4 trillion in client assets. He is also the chairman of The Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, a private foundation focused on education, poverty prevention, human services, and health.  He is the author of several bestselling books with his latest memoir titled Invested.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He had to work extra hard to build his self-confidence to overcome his dyslexia and to keep up in class.
  • People with dyslexia are conceptual thinkers who tend to not get lost in the weeds. Some people are very literal in learning and need to go from step 1 to 2 to 3 while dyslexics can go from step 1 to step 10.
  • Seeing an inherent conflict of interest between commissioned stock brokers and the customers, he invented a new contrarian business model by paying salaries to people placing trades with a bonus tied to the overall success of the company.
  • After the tech meldtown of the early 2000’s, Charles had to come out of retirement to run the company again. He had to lay off thousands of employees and get the company turned around.  Sometimes founders are the only ones who can make the tough calls and drive huge fundamental changes to the business.
  • He was a consummate innovator who continually pivoted, redefined the business, and opened up new markets. He knew it was important to disrupt yourself before someone else did it for you.
  • When hiring, beyond skills and experience, he looks at their character and ethics and their responsibility to the customer.
  • “Excellence is an ongoing pursuit. You are always striving for it but you never achieve it.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History and Director of the Hayden Planetarium.  He is also the host of the hit radio and Emmy-nominated TV show StarTalk, and the New York Times best-selling author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and the author of a number of other notable books, the latest of which is titled Letters from an Astrophysicist.  He earned his BA in physics from Harvard and his PhD in astrophysics from Columbia.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He knew he wanted to become an astrophysicist since the age of nine when he visited his first planetarium.
  • His passion for discovering the universe enabled him to push past the racism and all the societal pressures holding him back. He would not allow anything to interfere with his ambitions.
  • He finished middle of his class in high school because he was valuing the joy of learning while others were valuing high grades. He had lots of interests outside of school and was never driven by grades.
  • “When I wonder what I am capable of as a human being, I don’t look to relatives, I look to all human beings. The genius of Isaac Newton, the courage of Joan of Arc and Gandhi, the athletic feats of Michael Jordan, the oratorical skills of Sir Winston Churchill, the compassion of Mother Teresa. I look to the entire human race for inspiration for what I can be – because I am human. My life is what I make of it.”
  • It’s highly likely that there is extra-terrestrial life. The top four ingredients of life on earth are the top four chemically active ingredients in the universe. In addition, the speed at which life formed on Earth, the age of the universe, and the number of planets and galaxies all suggest that there are life forms outside of the Earth.
  • He does not believe in a God. If there were such a divine force, it would manifest.  If there is something we don’t understand and can’t explain, his first thought if not whether it might be divine but rather, how can he experiment on it further to better understand it.
  • He has 14 million Twitter followers. He views his role on social media as enlightening the public to what is objectively true so people can have informed opinions.
  • Physicists recently detected gravitational waves originally predicted by Einstein over a century ago. These waves were produced in a collision between two black holes 1.3 billion light years away.
  • “Excellence is whether you’ve done the best you can given whatever the talents available to you.”