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.”

Eduardo Strauch is an architect and painter living in Montevideo, Uruguay.  He is also one of 16 survivors from a 1972 plane crash in the Andes mountains which was charted by an amateur Uruguayan rugby team.  He survived 72 treacherous days trapped high up in the mountains.  He wrote a book about his experience called Out of the Silence: After the Crash.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Learn how he and 15 others managed to survive for over two months with minimal provisions, subzero temperatures, and thin air which was very difficult to breathe.
  • Learn how spontaneous meditation helped free his mind and save his life.
  • Mental strength was as important as physical strength for survival. You had to maintain hope and continue to have positive thoughts and believe that things would eventually work out.
  • You had to learn how to control your mind in order to do what was needed to survive. “It was essential to strip away the deep associations of the past from our actions and maintain that strict separation to be able to act.”
  • Once they ran out of food, they had to get past age-old societal norms and resort to cannibalism to survive.
  • “We all occasionally fell into bouts of deep depression, but then the group would notice it and act in support of that person, like a living organism trying to rebuild its own weak cells.”
  • From the very moments following the crash to this day, Eduardo has learned to appreciate the value of life.
  • “Excellence is to be in peace with oneself and ensure that you are living the life you must live.”

Some interesting insights from this episode:

Ben Saunders is one of the world’s leading polar explorers, and a record-breaking long-distance skier who has covered more than 4,300 miles on foot in the Polar Region. His accomplishments include skiing solo to both the North and South poles, and leading The Scott Expedition, the longest human-powered polar journey in history, a 105-day, 1,800 mile round-trip from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back again.

  • Hear the remarkable story of how he traveled the equivalent of 69 marathons, the distance from Maine to Miami, in frigid temperatures in near whiteout conditions, over the course of 3.5 months. 
  • Preparation entailed both extreme endurance and extreme weight training.  He was able to run a 2:55 marathon and deadlift 485 lbs. 
  • The key to staying motivated was to shorten the focus from the ultimate goal to something that felt achievable whether the end of the day or even the end of an hour.
  • One of his proudest moments on the journey was to make the call to have food delivered during their return.  That moment calling for help was when he matured as a leader as he learned to get priorities straight.
  • In hindsight, he made the mistake of often living too much in the future, thinking that success was defined by a finish line.
  • The cliché holds true that the journey is way more important than the destination.
  • Learn how he evolved from needing external validation to having more of an internal compass driving his motivations. 
  • “Self-belief is a malleable human quality. The more time you spend outside your comfort zone, the stronger it becomes.”
  • “Excellence is having the internal drive to make tomorrow better than today.”

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 winning 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/

 

Christopher Beck served for 20 years as a Navy SEAL.  He deployed 13 times over two decades, including stints in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He received the Bronze Star award for valor and the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat.  In 2013, after retiring from the Navy, he came out publicly as a transgender with the new name Kristin.  A documentary was produced about her life called Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story. 

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Hear a glimpse of what daily life is like during the Navy SEAL BUD/S training.
  • Becoming a Navy seal is as much mental as it is physical.
  • Hear about his nerve-racking brush with death during combat.
  • Learn the trigger that pushed her to finally come out publicly as a transgender.
  • Gender and sexual orientation are really two different things.
  • Learn about the many challenges she has faced in being accepted as a transgender.
  • “Excellence is about being the best you that you can be.”

Scott Kelly is a retired NASA astronaut and a veteran of four space flights.  He is best known for spending nearly a year on the International Space Station and the second most time in space of any American.  He recently wrote a book now available about his space travels called Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He struggled academically for many years until he read Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff which would finally give him the focus he needed to turn himself around and become a model student.
  • Despite the odds of success of becoming an astronaut being stacked against him, his attitude was if you don’t even try, then you know for certain that the odds are zero.
  • Learn how spending a year in space tests your psychological endurance as much as your physical endurance.
  • When you’re doing a very challenging task, try to focus only on the things you can control and then ignore the rest.
  • His mother’s passing a rigorous physical exam to become a police officer served as a role model for Scott overcoming his own challenges.
  • Excellence is the ability to focus 100% of your ability and attention on one thing.

Alan Eustace holds the record for highest altitude free fall jump. On October 24, 2016, he jumped from the stratosphere at an altitude of 136,000 feet or about 26 miles.  Alan was a Vice President of Engineering and Knowledge for Google and held many other executive roles at other high tech companies prior to Google.  He is currently retired and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He had so much confidence in his team and his equipment and so much practice along the way that he had absolutely no fear on the final record-setting jump.
  • He used scuba diving as inspiration for solving the challenge of surviving in a self-contained system in the stratosphere.
  • Unlike Felix Baumgartner’s Red Bull-sponsored jump which had tons of media and buzz around it, Alan approached the jump more as a science experiment with little fanfare.
  • Learn how he assembled and oversaw a team of leading experts across multiple fields which were foreign to him at the time including meteorology, ballooning, spacesuit design, environmental systems and high altitude medicine.
  • There were multiple feats of engineering to enable a safe flight including a specially-designed rogue parachute that could stabilize him during his fall, a spin-free spacesuit and an automatic parachute release.
  • His wife had him write his own obituary and farewell video to his children so he could understand the gravity of this undertaking.
  • “Excellence is approaching a problem and trying to find the best possible way through it.”

 

 

 

 

Rich Wilson is the fastest American skipper to race solo around the world.  He completed the Vendee Globe 27,000 mile solo round-the-world yacht race this year in 107 days.  At 66 years old, he was also the oldest skipper to complete the race.  Rich is the founder of the SitesAlive Foundation, a non-profit platform to connect K12 classrooms to adventures and expeditions around the world.  He has a degree in mathematics and an MBA from Harvard and a Masters in interdisciplinary science from MIT.   He currently resides in the Boston area.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Learn how his lifelong battle with asthma has provided the motivation to persevere both on and off the water.
  • 80% of success on the water is done prior to the start of the race.
  • Ironically, even in a solo racing voyage, the team is the most critical element of success.
  • Learn how he had not just one but two incredible strokes of luck which helped save his life when his boat capsized during one of his races.
  • Learn how he educated hundreds of thousands of kids around the world through the experiential learning platform of his sailing expeditions.
  • Excellence is knowing you put out your best effort on whatever axes are part of the equation.
  • “Most people will have a dream about what you should do but find what you dream to do and go do that one.”