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

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.”

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.

Mark Tercek is the CEO of The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental organization. He is a former Managing Director and Partner at Goldman Sachs and is the author of the bestselling book Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • We all have an inner environmentalist inside of us.
  • His executive coach taught him some valuable lessons early on including how to listen better and how to not sweat out the details.
  • In the nonprofit world, he had to learn how to understand employees’ psychic income and use that as motivation to drive behavior.
  • Saving nature isn’t just the morally right thing to do, it’s also the smartest investment we can make.
  • Learn how he pivoted his 4,000 employee organization from pure land conservation toward embracing climate change as a top priority.
  • “Excellence is matching ambition with a good dose of reality.”
  • We all have a tendency to overestimate risks in our lives. The returns are greater than perceived and the risks less that perceived.  More of us should just go for it.

Scott Hamilton is a retired figure skater and Olympic gold medalist. He won four consecutive U.S. championships from 1981–84, four consecutive World Championships from 1981–84 and a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics.  Since that time he has been a TV commentator, a motivational speaker, the founder of a skating academy, a cancer survivor and the founder of a cancer research center.  He is a New York Times bestselling author and his latest book is called Finish First: Winning Changes Everything.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Finishing first doesn’t necessarily mean finishing first. Accomplishing whatever goal you set for yourself is a finish first moment.
  • “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”
  • It was his mother’s passing that was the catalyst which woke him up and allowed him to take his skating to another level.
  • He gave away all his medals and trophies because he didn’t want to let them be an anchor to prevent him from moving forward.
  • All of the losing earlier in his career was actually great preparation for ultimately learning how to compete and win.
  • “Excellence is leveraging everything we have to live the best life we possibly can.”

 

Doug Bernstein is the co-founder and CEO of Melissa and Doug, a several hundred million dollar toy company focused mostly on simple classic toys for children up to 5 years of age.  He and his wife Melissa started the company together about 30 years ago.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • They never intended to build a company from the beginning but rather, were driven by their shared passion to do something good for children.
  • They are a product company at its core. If they simply focus on making great products, everything else will take care of itself.
  • Adversity can fuel motivation. When their supplier decided to compete directly with them, rather than sue or wallow in despair, they shifted their product development cycle and started to innovate with new products so quickly that nobody could keep up with them.
  • If you look at an obstacle as something that will take you out of the game, then it will. But if you look at it as something that you have to figure out how to get around, then you will find a way.
  • They’ve never been tempted to venture into apps and digital media despite external pressure because they feel it’s not good for children at that age and it’s against their corporate values.
  • They grew to several hundred million in revenue without one dollar of advertising. It was entirely word-of-mouth.
  • They don’t do any product testing but are still able to maintain a 75% hit rate with new product introductions.
  • “Excellence is always bringing your very best to what you do and always having the inner pride to do things the very best way.”

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.

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/