Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant is a wildlife ecologist with an expertise in uncovering how human activity influences carnivore behavior and ecology. She is a National Geographic Explorer, host the PBS podcast Going Wild with Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, and is the cohost on NBC’s Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Protecting the Wild.  She is the first black woman to ever host a television nature show. Her new book is titled: Wild Life: Finding My Purpose in an Untamed World.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • She attended a high school for the performing arts because of her voice yet refused to apply for a conservatory to continue her musical studies knowing that her life vision was to become a nature show host.
  • Having black leaders in wildlife conservation during her first field study project in Kenya was transformative in helping her understand that she could actually do this for a living.
  • Learning firsthand of lions killing local villagers in Tanzania was an experience that taught her that the wellbeing of people has to come first in wildlife conservation.
  • Capturing and tagging a rare lemur during a mission critical expedition to protect a rainforest in Madagascar allowed her to overcome her self-doubt, increase her self-confidence, and realize her full potential.
  • As cohost on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Protecting the Wild, Rae has fulfilled her lifelong dream and become the first black woman to ever host a television nature show.
  • “Excellence is being your best and your truest. It’s being aligned with your values, aligned with your energy, and aligned with the balance you’re seeking.”

 

Notes:

Book: Wild Life: Finding My Purpose in an Untamed World

Podcast: Going Wild with Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant

TV show: Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Protecting the Wild

Personal website: Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant

Daniel Goleman is a psychologist, former science journalist for the New York Times, and the author of 13 books including the #1 bestseller Emotional Intelligence.  He has worked with organizations around the globe, examining the way social and emotional competencies impact the bottom-line. Ranked one of the 10 most influential business thinkers by the Wall Street Journal, Daniel has won several awards including the HBR McKinsey Award for the best article of the year and the Centennial Medallion awarded to him by Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  His latest book which is titled: Optimal: How to Sustain Personal and Organizational Excellence Every Day shows how emotional intelligence can help us have rewarding and productive days every day.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • There are four parts to emotional intelligence: Self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and relationship management. The latter builds on the first three parts.
  • There are three kinds of empathy – cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and empathic concern.
  • When you’re in an optimal state, you’re highly productive, highly engaged, you care about others, you feel connected to your work, and connected to others.
  • The ability to focus is one of the pathways into the optimal state.
  • People who have a sense of purpose and feel inspired in their work, do it better.
  • It’s never too late to increase your level of emotional intelligence.
  • In emotionally intelligent organizations, it’s not just about hitting your targets but how you went about it. Did you get them by inspiring people to give their best or was it by fear and pressure?
  • Team EI is how people on a team relate to one another. And teams with highest team EI are often the most productive.

 

Notes:

Optimal: How to Sustain Personal and Organizational Excellence Every Day

Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ

Daniel Goleman website

Emotional Intelligence Courses

Bubba Watson is a professional golfer. He has won two major PGA championships, both victories at the Masters.  He has a total of 12 PGA tournament wins and reached a world ranking of 2nd in 2015.  He has played in the LIV Golf league since 2022.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Bubba never had formal lessons. He was entirely self-taught. He would just go by feel and practice over and over until he understood how to position himself and swing to achieve a certain shot.
  • In college his drive to be better at golf was due to immaturity – he was mad at people. These days his drive to be better is so he can help people.  Paying it forward is much more important than trying to be the best in the world.
  • He built a distinguishable brand as Bubba – the new age redneck country boy, despite not hunting or dipping or smoking or country music.
  • He was kind and considerate off the golf course but had a hot temper on the course. Pride and ego was eating him alive.  He got caught up in the rankings and allowed that to dictate how he felt about himself.
  • His first Masters victory was on the heels of adopting their first baby so allowing his mind to focus on something outside of golf removed him from the excessive pressure which allowed him to play the match of his life.
  • Joining LIV Golf wasn’t about the money but an opportunity to play golf in a team format which he misses and the entrepreneurial opportunity to own a franchise in an emerging league.
  • “Excellence is touching others in a way that makes their lives better. It’s giving people an opportunity to be successful.”

 

Notes:

Book: Up and Down: Victories and Struggles in the Course of Life

Personal Website: Bubba Watson

LIV site: Bubba Watson and the RangeGoats

John Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He is also the Senior Project Scientist on the James Webb Space Telescope. His research centers on infrared astronomy and cosmology. He was the chief scientist for the Cosmic Background Explorer and received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006 for his precise measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation.  He has served on advisory and working groups for the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, and the National Science Foundation.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • The James Webb Space Telescope uses infrared technology which allows us to see through the dust clouds to see stars being born.
  • “Maybe the formation of life doesn’t require a rare and exotic coincidence but maybe it’s something that always happens when given the chance.”
  • Like Neil deGrasse Tyson, John visited the Hayden Planetarium as a kid which ignited his early passion for astronomy.
  • He didn’t have his entire career mapped out but rather followed his curiosity and said yes when opportunity would present itself.
  • While society holds the theorists in higher regard than the experimentalists like John, that never deterred him.
  • Stephen Hawking called his discovery of hot and cold spots in the cosmic background radiation “The most significant scientific discovery of this century if not of all time.”
  • COBE took 15 years from inception to launch and the James Webb 27 years but John was able to stay the course on both, keeping himself and his teams motivated along the way.
  • His secret to success isn’t being the smartest one in the room and always knowing the answer but rather not being afraid to ask others.

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.