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.”

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.”

Jon Dorenbos is a former professional football player and magician.  He played for 14 seasons in the NFL as a long snapper with the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles.  He had a parallel career as a magician and was a finalist on America’s Got Talent, placing third overall amongst tens of thousands of competitors. He is a regular guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and his new book is called “Life is Magic: My Inspiring Journey from Tragedy to Self-Discovery.”

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Don’t listen to that negative inner voice which is constantly doubting yourself. Rather, you should talk to yourself out loud and say where you plan to go in life. The narrative you tell yourself is going to ultimately become your own reality.
  • Magic was more that tricks. It was a form of meditation that helped him heal his emotional wounds.  Magic allowed him to quiet all the negativity and just be lost in the moment.
  • On his path to becoming an NFL star, he had to first get picked up by a division I school and to do so, he doctored up some long snapping footage of other players to look like it was his own. He knew in his heart he was really good enough and was willing to do whatever it took to give himself a chance.
  • Being a long snapper requires extreme mental toughness. You might only play 10 plays the entire game so you have to be able to have closure quickly, you have to be able to forgive, and you have to be able to move on.
  • Things are easy or difficult based on how we perceive them in our mind. If you think it’s easy, it is, and vice versa.
  • The key ingredients to success for both magic and football are discipline, hard work, passion, and a drive to want to be great and change the world.
  • You need to decide which story you choose to hold onto. Focusing on the negative or positive stories in your life will dictate the kind of life you’re going to live.
  • “Excellence is about showing up. Showing up every day, showing up on time, and showing up ready to work.”

Steve Schwarzman is the co-founder and CEO of Blackstone, one of the world’s largest and most successful investment funds with over a half trillion dollars under management. Steve is an active philanthropist with a history of supporting education, culture, and the arts.  He holds a BA from Yale and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  His new book is called What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He has always been very competitive. When he graduated from Yale, he insisted upon an extra $500 a year in his offer from a prestigious investment bank so he could be the highest paid graduate from his class.
  • “What I lacked in basic economics, I made up for with my ability to see patterns and develop new solutions and paradigms, and with the sheer will to turn my ideas into reality.”
  • He single-handedly advised Tropicana on getting acquired, which was the second largest transaction in the world that year, even though he had absolutely no M&A experience up until that point.
  • “To be successful you have to put yourself in situations and places you have no right being in. You shake your head and learn from your own stupidity. But through sheer will, you wear the world down, and it gives you what you want.”
  • They closed on their first fund of $1 billion the morning of October 19th, 1987, aka Black Monday, the largest one day drop in stock market history. Just one day later and Blackstone might not have ever gotten off the ground.
  • After losing some money on a deal, he re-architected the entire investment decision making process to be much more rigorous with the goal of engineering out the risk so as to never lose money again
  • He has a philosophy to only hire “10’s”. Those people tend to be intelligent, articulate, calm, energetic, curious, and can envision the future.
  • “Excellence is being the best that you can be at whatever you choose to do.”

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?”

Rich Karlgaard is a bestselling author, award-winning entrepreneur, and speaker.  He is the publisher of Forbes magazine and is based in Silicon Valley.  He is a renowned lecturer on technology, innovation, corporate culture, and a number of other important business issues and the author of three books, his latest one titled: Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

 

  • His time at Stanford poring over Sports Illustrated in the library would later become the genesis for starting up what would become a highly popular technology business magazine.
  • Starting up Upside Magazine which had a unique style and voice ultimately led to a coveted role with Forbes despite the magazine not being a financial success.
  • Our cultural obsession with early achievement is detrimental to society.
  • Some people are successful because they’re competitive and set goals for themselves. Others achieve success because they are explorers chasing their curiosity without an end in mind.
  • Between the ages of 18 and 25, our prefrontal cortex is still growing and our executive function skills are still developing. Yet, this is the exact time when we’re supposed to be laser focused on launching our future careers.
  • One of the most important traits CEOs of high performance companies look for in new recruits is curiosity because without curiosity there’s no growth.
  • Notable strengths of late bloomers include curiosity, compassion, resilience, insight, and calmness.
  • “Resilience isn’t just the ability to be tough but the ability to have enough built in flexibility so an unexpected failure doesn’t shatter you.”
  • At any given time, there’s an optimal use of your time, your talent, and your effort.
  • “Excellence is the intersection between your perfect native gifts and your sense of purpose that is so deep you’re willing to sacrifice for it.”

 

Links:

Find Rich Karlgaard’s book Late Bloomers here.

Find Rich Karlgaard’s personal website here.

Albert-László Barabási is the Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science at Northeastern University, where he directs the Center for Complex Network Research, and holds appointments in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Central European University in Budapest.  He is the author of four books with his latest one entitled: The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success. 

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • The definition of success is the rewards we earn from the communities we belong to. While your performance is about you, your success is about us.  It’s what we as a community acknowledge and value.
  • The first law of success is that performance often drives success but when performance can’t be measured, networks drive success.
  • The second law of success is that performance is bounded but success is unbounded. Marginal differences in performance may lead to order of magnitude differences in success (fame, fortune, recognition, etc.).
  • The third law of success if that prior success will increase the odds of future success. It is the law behind why the rich get richer and the powerful stay that way.
  • The fourth law of success is that while team success requires diversity and balance, a single individual will inevitably receive credit for the group’s achievements.
  • For performance oriented teams, diversity and empathy are the most critical success factors while for innovation oriented teams, leadership is most important.
  • The fifth law of success is that with persistence, success can come at any time. Your ability to succeed neither declines nor improves with age.