Bertrand Piccard is a psychiatrist and explorer and made history by accomplishing two aeronautical firsts – flying around the world non-stop in a balloon, and more recently in a solar-powered airplane without fuel. As Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation, he has succeeded in his mission to select 1000 profitable solutions to protect the environment and support clean growth.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Meeting the astronauts as a kid opened his eyes that anyone with a passion who wanted to achieve their dreams could do it.
  • When reflecting on his decision to become an explorer, he knew there had to be new frontiers yet to be discovered. “It’s like a compass showing the unknown, showing what has never been done.”
  • The writer Paulo Coelho once said: “If you believe that adventure is dangerous, try routine. It is deadly.”
  • He would perform self-hypnosis to relax when stressed and stay awake and vigilant while flying through the night.
  • “Our life depends on the way we think. Once we’re aware of that, we’re free to think in every direction.”
  • Failing so quickly and in such a public way on his first around the world balloon attempt liberated him, as he learned to no longer care what others thought.
  • Why did they succeed in the around the world balloon flight when so many others failed? They never failed twice for the same reason.
  • It took 13 years to complete the around the world solar flight starting with the initial announcement. While there were moments of doubt, that doubt allowed them to continue to refine their approach, adjust course, and surmount obstacles along the way.

Gary White is the cofounder and CEO of Water.org and WaterEquity. In 1991 he launched WaterPartners International, the nonprofit that would later become Water.org. Today the organizations he leads are creating market driven solutions to the global water crisis, driving innovations in the way the world funds water and sanitation projects.  His new book that he co-authored with Matt Damon is titled: The Worth of Water: Our Story of Chasing Solutions to the World’s Greatest Challenge.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • In many parts of the world, families are paying upwards of 25% of their income to procure water and sanitation.
  • This is a problem that disproportionally impacts women and girls.
  • Microloans are a much more scalable solution to solving the water crisis than grants.
  • 99% of all microloans Water.org provides get paid back in full and on time.
  • To solve the global water crisis, 750 million people will need access to water and 1.7 billion will need access to sanitation.
  • Matt Damon taught Gary how to be a more effective storyteller.
  • “Excellence is doing the very best that you’re capable of doing and always striving to do better with what you have.”

 

Show Notes

Book: The Worth of Water: Our Story of Chasing Solutions to the World’s Greatest Challenge

Organizations: Water.org  WaterEquity

Where to Donate: Water.org donations

Chef Andre Rush is a retired decorated combat Veteran known worldwide as the White House chef with the 24-inch biceps and for his advocacy for military service, as well as suicide prevention, which is why he does 2,222 push-ups a day: to bring awareness to the ongoing epidemic of mental health and suicidal ideation.  His new book is titled: Call me Chef, Dammit!: A Veteran’s Journey from the Rural South to the White House.

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • “I don’t care what I have done. It’s what I’m doing right now and what I’m going to continue to do.”
  • “You don’t decide your destiny. Your destiny decides you.”
  • “Cooking is like art. You eat with your eyes. And when you see art, it draws you to it.”
  • He was very determined and found a way to feed off the negativity and use it as fuel.
  • He uses cooking as a coping mechanism for his PTSD.
  • At one point he gave away all his money to help bring Ethiopian refugees to the United States.
  • “Excellence is doing everything you need to do at your very best.”

Show Notes

Book: Call Me Chef, Dammit!: A Veteran’s Journey from the Rural South to the White House

Meal Delivery Service: CHOW

Website: Chef Rush

Joaquin “Jack” Garcia is the former undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the Gambino crime family of Cosa Nostra in New York for nearly three years, resulting in the arrest and conviction of 32 mobsters.  He worked on over 100 major undercover investigations over his 26 year career.  He wrote a New York Times bestseller called Making Jack Falcone: An Undercover FBI Agent Takes Down a Mafia Family

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Being a good undercover is not something you can learn. It’s something you’re born with.
  • Undercover skills include thinking quick on your feet, being comfortable around all types of people, knowing how to read people, being quick witted, and likeable.
  • Sometimes he was juggling upwards of 6 different identifies and roles at the same time.
  • The Gambino case led to the arrest and conviction of 32 mobsters.
  • He worked on over 100 major undercover investigations over his career.
  • “Excellence is being the best in what you set out to do. Look in the mirror and see if you’ve given it 100%. And if the answer is yes, then you have attained excellence.”

Show Notes

Book: Making Jack Falcone: An Undercover FBI Agent Takes Down a Mafia Family

Rob O’Neill is a Navy SEAL combat veteran with decorations which include two Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars with Valor, a Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor, three Presidential Unit citations, and two Navy/Marine Corps Commendations with Valor.  He is a public speaker, TV personality, philanthropist, and cofounder of the Special Operators Transition Foundation, a charity supporting special operations military personnel making the difficult transition from the battlefield to the boardroom. He is a New York Times bestselling author of The Operator and his latest book is titled: The Way Forward: Master Life’s Toughest Battles and Create Your Lasting Legacy.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • You learn a lot more from failure than you do from success.
  • Life isn’t about a big goal but having a series of achievable smaller goals.
  • Whatever is going on in your life that’s not working, learn from it and get over it. It’s only dead weight and not helping to fixate on it.
  • The worse thing you can say when you’re leading a team is this is the way we’ve always done it. There can always be a better way.
  • If you’re worrying about something and your worrying isn’t going to change it, stop wasting your energy on it.
  • Sometimes in life it doesn’t really matter why you’re here, you’re just here, so get over it.
  • “Excellence is taking care of your family and teaching your children to be good people and then repeat the process.”

Show Notes

Book: The Way Forward: Master Life’s Toughest Battles and Create Your Lasting Legacy

Website: Robert O’Neill

Barry Sonnenfeld is a director, producer and writer who broke into the film industry as the cinematographer on the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, and Miller’s Crossing.  He was the director of photography on Throw Momma from the Train, Big, When Harry Met Sally, and Misery.  Barry made his directorial debut with The Addams Family and has directed several other films including Addams Family Values, Get Shorty, and the Men in Black trilogy.  His television credits include Pushing Daises, for which he won an Emmy, and Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.  His memoir is titled: Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Most movie directors use the camera as a recording device whereas he uses it as a story telling device.
  • Lots of cinematographers have tried to become directors but have failed. Part of Barry’s success making the transition was hiring a world-class cameraman so he could focus on the actors and other areas as opposed to micromanaging the cameraman.
  • The key to successful directing is to hire people better than you, answer everyone’s questions to ensure a consistent tone, and feign self-confidence.
  • He’s known to be very neurotic but neurosis is a superpower when directing a project.
  • His philosophy about comedy is that nobody on the show should think they’re working on one. The formula is to have an absurd situation or an absurd character played for reality.
  • “Excellence is being capable, responsible, and the willingness to make the tough decision.”

 

Show Notes

Book: Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker

Monica Aldama is the cheerleading coach at Navarro College. She is one of the most successful athletic coaches in the country, having led Navarro to 14 national championships. She and her team are the subject of a hit Netflix show called Cheer which is now entering its second season. She has a new book out which is entitled: Full Out: Lessons in Life and Leadership from America’s Favorite Coach

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Her lifelong dream was to become a Wall Street banker but something happened along the way
  • She has learned how to acquire talent based not just on raw skills but on potential, knowing that some kids will grow and develop during the program
  • To win championships, you have to have a championship culture which is as much about attitude as it is work ethic and commitment.
  • Coaching these kids was not just about winning championships but about providing structure and discipline they would need during the program and throughout life.
  • To become an effective leader, she had to learn to adjust her communication style and coaching approach based on how different kids respond.
  • She encourages failure with her team. If you don’t fail, you don’t grow, and you become complacent.
  • “Excellence is carrying yourself in the way of a champion in all areas of your life.”

 

Show Notes

Book: Full Out: Lessons in Life and Leadership from America’s Favorite Coach

Eileen Collins is a retired NASA astronaut and United States Air Force colonel. She was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. Eileen has been recognized by Encyclopædia Britannica as one of the top 300 women in history who have changed the world.  She has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall Of Fame and the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.  Her new book is called Through the Glass Ceiling to the Stars: The Story of the First American Woman to Command a Space Mission.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Her father was an alcoholic and her mother was institutionalized but she didn’t let anything from her childhood define her for the rest of her life.
  • She never shared her dream of becoming an astronaut with anyone until she got accepted into the astronaut training program. She didn’t feel anyone would be supportive.
  • It takes a tremendous amount of focus and discipline to fly a jet but she wasn’t always wired that way. These are skills that can be learned.
  • When she gets nervous, to calm herself down, she would envision herself not as Eileen Collins but as the Commander of a spaceship.
  • To be a good leader, you have to learn to listen to others and to be humble when you listen to them. People won’t respect you as a leader if you’re telling others what to do all the time.
  • An investigation into the Space Shuttle Columbia accident revealed that a big contributing factor was NASA’s culture. People weren’t listening.  People assigned to safety were being intimated and weren’t speaking up.  And they weren’t thinking creatively.
  • “Excellence is about knowledge, communicating openly and having high integrity.”

 

Show Notes

Book: Through the Glass Ceiling to the Stars: The Story of the First American Woman to Command a Space Mission