Will Guidara is the former co-owner of Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad, and is the cofounder of the Welcome Conference, an annual hospitality symposium. In 2017, Eleven Madison Park was voted the world’s best restaurant by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants annual ranking.  He has coauthored four cookbooks, was named one of Crain’s New York Business’s 40 Under 40, and is a recipient of WSJ Magazine’s Innovator Award. His new book is called Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Unreasonable hospitality is being just as relentless, as focused, as intentional in your pursuit of how you make people feel as you are with every other facet of what you do for a living.
  • One of our most deeply held needs as human beings is we want to feel known and seen.
  • One of Will’s favorite quotes that speaks to hospitality is one from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you say. They’ll forget what you do. But they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”
  • “If you don’t understand the importance of your work, the nobility of what you put out into the world every day, it’s very hard to be the best version of yourself consistently.”
  • He has kept a paperweight on his desk since he was a child which reads: “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” If you don’t have the confidence and conviction to answer it honestly, it’s unlikely you’ll ever achieve it.
  • Whenever you’re leading a group of people, it’s one thing to have a good idea. It’s meaningless if you can’t convey that idea to your team such that you’re all moving in unison and in the same direction.
  • It’s important to be both “restaurant smart” and “corporate smart”. That is, balancing what’s best for the guests with what’s best for the bottom line.
  • To become the number one restaurant in the world, he had to balance a culture of excellence with a culture of unreasonable hospitality.
  • “If you are not being as intentional, as relentless, and as unreasonable about how you make people feel as you are about whatever product you make or service you offer, you are leaving extraordinary opportunities on the table.”

 

Notes:

Book: Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect

The Welcome Conference

David Copperfield is a magician and entertainer, best known for his combination of storytelling and illusion, and described by Forbes as the most commercially successful magician in history.  His illusions have included the disappearance of a Learjet, the vanishing and reappearance of the Statue of Liberty, levitating over the Grand Canyon, walking through the Great Wall of China, escaping from Alcatraz prison, and flying on stage.  He has received 21 Emmy Awards, 11 Guinness World Records, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a knighthood by the French government, and the Living Legend award by the US Library of Congress.  You can watch him live performing 7 days a week at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • While he’s passionate about magic and one of the greatest magicians ever, at heart he is a storyteller. He is a multidimensional entertainer.
  • His role models growing up weren’t other magicians but actors and dancers like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. And storytellers like Walt Disney.
  • He likes to make audiences feel something in the heart, not just a challenge in the brain.
  • To this day he is inspired by a quote he read as a kid: “You’re only as good as you dare to be bad.” You can’t do something unique and special without taking some risks along the way.
  • The formula for his success is summarized with his mantra: “Passion, preparation, and persistence.”
  • He still has imposture syndrome at times which pushes him to continue to keep trying to perfect his craft.
  • “Excellence is about nothing ever being finished. It’s a process that never ends.”

Jimmy Burrows has directed more than one thousand episodes of sitcom television and has earned eleven Emmy Awards and five Directors Guild of America Awards. In 1974 he began his television career directing episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and Laverne and Shirley. He became the resident director on Taxi and co-created Cheers, directing 243 of the 273 episodes, as well as all 246 episodes of Will and Grace. He has directed the pilots of multiple episodes of Frasier, Friends, Mike & Molly, the pilots of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, and hundreds of other shows.  His new book is titled: Directed by James Burrows: Five Decades of Stories from the Legendary Director of Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Will & Grace, and More.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He operates with kindness. Everyone has to row together and pull equally with everyone else. He doesn’t allow ego to get in the way.
  • He has the perfect temperament for TV directing. He doesn’t lose his temper, he’s patient, he has low ego, and he knows how to encourage others.
  • He feels as a director it’s important to “die with your boots on”. That is, to try to do something to make a difference.  To provide input to make the best show possible.
  • When deciding whether to work on a show, he likes to meet with the writer and have him/her defend themselves but not be defensive.
  • When asked about same-sex marriage, then Vice President Joe Biden said, “I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far. People fear that which is different. Now they’re beginning to understand.”
  • His success is attributed to his ability to create a harmony on the set so everyone’s involved in making the show better. On his sets, you have to check your ego at the door.
  • “Excellence is to try to be the best you can be in your particular field.”

 

Notes:

Book: Directed by James Burrows: Five Decades of Stories from the Legendary Director of Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Will & Grace, and More

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

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

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