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.”

Jill Heinerth is a cave diver, underwater explorer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker.  She has starred on TV series for PBS, National Geographic Channel, and the BBC, and has consulted on movies for directors, including James Cameron. Her new book is titled: Into The Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Fighting off a burglar during college taught her how to deal with challenges in life. Having had this harrowing dance with fear probably saved her life in the long run.
  • Despite having enormous success as an entrepreneur in the advertising business, she knew in her heart that it wasn’t what she was meant to do so she built up the courage to quit and begin her life of adventure under the water.
  • There’s very little margin for error in cave diving. More people die while diving underwater caves than climbing Mt Everest.
  • Most accidents happen before someone even steps foot in the water. It is the lack of planning and preparation that causes most issues.  They are entirely preventable.
  • There is significant mental preparation. Before each dive, she closes her eyes and walks through all the worst case scenarios and rehearses all of the solutions.
  • She has the 7R gene which explains much of her risk seeking behavior. She is always seeking new challenges, new adventures.
  • “Excellence is your willingness to nurture and support the next generation. To ensure that if something’s important to you, the people below you eventually move beyond you.”

Cindy Eckert is an entrepreneur who built and sold two pharmaceutical companies, notably Sprout Pharmaceuticals, creator of “female Viagra,” for more than $1B. She subsequently founded The Pink Ceiling which invests in companies founded by, or delivering products for, women.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Moving every year during her childhood taught her how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. This experience of constant change would lay the foundation for the rest of her life.
  • While she had been surrounded by incredibly smart and hard working people in prior companies, she knew in her heart they weren’t any smarter or harder working than she was, so why not take a chance on herself.
  • She initially got turned down by the FDA for her drug for female low libido but rather that accept the verdict, she had the guts to challenge the FDA which eventually led to a reversal of their decision and approval for the drug.
  • After just four short years from the time she first purchased the drug, following the FDA approval, she sold the company for a billion dollars.
  • Culture is very important. Her company is the land of the misfit toys and they actually hire for quirkiness.  There is permission to bring your entire self to work and to be respectfully irreverent.
  • She tries not to get too obsessed with where things will lead. She’s just focused every day on getting up and doing a great job and creating value.
  • “I fail every day. Failure is just part of the test of how committed you are to the venture.”
  • “Empathy is the female DNA of a rule breaker.”
  • “Success isn’t about having all the answers. It’s about having the courage. If you feel you need to have all the answers, you’ll never succeed at entrepreneurship.”
  • “Why do we treat our career like a ladder? Why can’t it be a jungle gym?”

At the age of 17, Chris Wilson was sentenced to life for murder.  He turned his life around while in prison and was released after 16 years.  Today he is the owner of Barclay Investment Corporation, a social enterprise specializing in residential and commercial contracting work and employing out of work Baltimore residents.  His other business ventures include the House of DaVinci, a high-end furniture restoration and design company, and Master Plan Productions, a social impact content development company. His book is called: The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

 

  • At the age of 17, Chris Wilson was sentenced to life in prison for murder.
  • Despite being sentenced to life, Chris believed that if he focused on turning his life around, he would get his sentence reduced and be set free after 7 years. He called this kind of thinking a “positive delusion”.
  • While in prison, he created a “Master Plan” which was a list of goals he wanted to accomplish in his life. He shared the list with his grandmother and the judge because he felt it was important to have others hold him accountable.
  • It was also important to include a number of shorter term goals on the Master Plan which were easier and quicker to accomplish to boost his confidence and create momentum.
  • He went to therapy to learn how to stop making excuses and take full responsibility for his past actions in order to move forward.
  • Instead of chasing money and living an easy life, he chose to give back to the community by starting a company which employed out of work residents including recently released prisoners.
  • It’s important to surround yourself with a support system of people you can turn to in order to stay on track and not revert back to bad habits.
  • “Excellence is pushing yourself to achieve high standards and doing so in a way that’s humble and considerate.”

Roger McNamee has been a successful Silicon Valley investor for thirty five years.  He co-founded Silver Lake and Elevation Partners, two very successful private equity funds.  He also plays bass and guitar in the bands Moonalice and Doobie Decibel System.  He holds a BA from Yale and an MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School. He has written 4 books, the latest one titled Zucked: Waking up to the Facebook Catastrophe.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Roger had a very unusual approach to tech investing which allowed him to be highly successful.
  • Learn why he started Elevation Partners with U2’s Bono.
  • Hear how one pivotal meeting with Mark Zuckerberg would forever alter the course of Facebook.
  • It was Facebook’s lack of anonymity that Roger felt was key to bridging the gap to a much larger mainstream audience that prior social media companies had failed to reach.
  • While they are technically a platform, Facebook acts more like a media company by using sophisticated algorithms to control the content that users see on the site.
  • Social media manipulates us by exploiting the weakness in human psychology.
  • Learn what filter bubbles are and why they’ve contributed to our accepting and spreading false information.
  • “Technology has changed the way we engage with society, substituting passive consumption of content and ideas for civic engagement, digital communications for conversation.”
  • “Excellence is an outcome that reflects mastery of an activity in a time and in a place.”

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.

Lonnie Johnson is a former Air Force and NASA engineer who invented the massively popular Super Soaker water gun. He currently oversees Johnson Research and Development, a company which commercializes technologies with a recent emphasis on alternative energy.  He studied at Tuskegee University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in nuclear engineering.  He lives in the Atlanta area.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Learn how he created one of the world’s top 20 all-time best selling toys.
  • He made his own toys from a young age including a go-kart he built from junkyard scraps.
  • He was told by his high school counselor that he shouldn’t aspire beyond a career as a technician but he didn’t let that advice deter him from his goal of becoming an inventor.
  • “The only thing that really leads to success is perseverance.”
  • His original goal with licensing the super soaker was simply to generate enough income to allow himself to become a full time inventor.
  • His latest invention, the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter, is a game changing technology that can dramatically improve the efficiency of alternative energy sources.
  • “Excellence is setting goals that are tough so you can wake up every day knowing that you’re doing something worthwhile.”

Morten Andersen is a former professional football kicker who spent most of his career with the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.  He played in a record 382 games during his 25 year career and is the all-time leading scorer in NFL history with 2,544 points.   In 2017, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  These days Morten is a motivational speaker and also oversees his family foundation.  He resides in Atlanta, GA.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • As an exchange student, he never intended to stay in the United States for more than a year but when he tried out for the high school football team on a whim, he made the team which led to a full scholarship at Michigan State which led to one of the greatest NFL careers in history.
  • The goal is to practice enough so you can get to a level of “unconscious competence”.
  • He had to swallow a “humility pill” after he hit a performance plateau and hire a team of experts to get him back to a high level and extend his career many years.
  • He kicked on 8’ goalposts during practice so come game time, he would have a much easier time executing with 18’6” goal posts.
  • As an athlete, all you can control is effort and attitude. Everything else is white noise.
  • If you focus more on the process than the results, the results will follow.
  • His sports psychologist introduced the idea of “goal windows” which altered his mindset about how to measure performance and hence, how to feel successful.
  • He had his best year statistically over his 25 year career in his final season at the age of 47.