Maurice Ashley is a Chess Grandmaster, a chess commentator, a national championship coach, and an author. In 1999 he earned the title of Chess Grandmaster, making him the first African American Grandmaster in the game’s history, and was later inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame.  His latest book is titled Move by Move: Life Lessons On and Off the Chessboard.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Going into any big moment, the best way to calm your nerves is to get into the right mindset which is that you can’t be better than yourself. Don’t focus on the results.  Just focus on being yourself and the rest will take care of itself.
  • He is able to play up to ten people simultaneously while blindfolded and win each game.
  • It’s important to cultivate a beginner’s mind and approach the game as if you’re viewing it for the very first time. That way you’re open to seeing something new and having a fresh perspective.
  • Upper echelon thinking is to keep growing every day. Today you need to be a little bit better than yesterday.  Your only race is against yesterday’s self.
  • Focus often dips when you’re ahead and your lowest concentration is often when you have the biggest advantage.
  • To stay mentally sharp and focused over the course of a prolonged game, you have to learn to continually check yourself. You have to be your own barometer. Counting breaths also helps to calm down and stay in the moment.
  • Retrograde analysis is envisioning a future state and then working backwards.
  • When conducting post mortems it’s important to categorize your mistakes so you can become more self aware of the patterns behind the mistake and preempt their happening in the future.

 

Notes:

Book: Move by Move: Life Lessons On and Off the Chessboard

Personal website: Maurice Ashley

Dr. BJ Miller is a longtime hospice and palliative medicine physician and educator. He currently sees patients and families via telehealth through Mettle Health, a company he co-founded with the aim to provide personalized, holistic consultations for any patient or caregiver who needs help navigating the practical, emotional and existential issues that come with serious illness and disability. Led by his own experiences as a patient, BJ advocates for the roles of our senses, community and presence in designing a better ending. His interests are in working across disciplines to affect broad-based culture change, cultivating a civic model for aging and dying and furthering the message that suffering, illness, and dying are fundamental and intrinsic aspects of life. His career has been dedicated to moving healthcare towards a human centered approach, on a policy as well as a personal level.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • “I had a basic hunger and curiosity to understand the world in which I was living and to understand myself”.
  • Early on, as he was recovering from the accident with three less limbs, he forced himself to reframe his situation. That life wasn’t going to be extra difficult going forward but just uniquely difficult. And that suffering is something we all deal with in our own way.  Eventually his emotions would catch up with his mind whereby he truly felt that way.
  • Studying art history in college taught him perspective. It taught him how he was in control as to how he perceived his life and how he framed his life experience.
  • In palliative care, you don’t just treat the pain, you treat the suffering.
  • “If you don’t know the depths of sorrow, you aren’t going to know the peaks of joy.”
  • As dying patients reflect back upon their lives, it’s not so much regret over what decisions they made but how they imbued whatever decisions they made. Did they do it with love, did they infuse their spirit into whatever they were doing. That’s what matters most.

 

Notes:

The Center for Dying and Living

Book: A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death

TED Talk: What Really Matters at the End of Life

Amy Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, renowned for her research on psychological safety over twenty years. Her award-winning work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Psychology Today, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, and more. Named by Thinkers50 in 2021 as the #1 Management Thinker in the world, Edmondson’s TED Talk “How to Turn a Group of Strangers into a Team” has been viewed over three million times. She received her PhD, AM, and AB from Harvard University. Her latest book is titled: The Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • A good failure is an undesired outcome that brings you new knowledge that could have not been gained any other way. It should be just big enough to get new information without wasting unnecessary time.
  • Most of us have shifted from curiosity and learning in our childhood to defensiveness and self-protection in our adulthood because of the belief that we had to be right or successful to be worthy.
  • Psychological safety Is a belief that one can take interpersonal risks without the fear of punishment or rejection.
  • You need psychological safety in order to cultivate a culture of intelligent failure.
  • Reframing is one of the techniques we can use to learn from failure. It’s the ability to challenge the automatic thinking and come up with a healthier, more productive way to think about the same situation.
  • A culture of accountability and high-performance standards can coexist with a culture of psychological safety and embracing failure.
  • “The easiest way to not fail at all is to not take risks at all.”
  • “Excellence is doing as well as you can in your chosen field and making a positive difference.”

 

Notes:

Books:

Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well

The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth

Websites:

Amy Edmondson personal page

Harvard Business School bio

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

Marshall Goldsmith has been recognized as the world’s leading executive coach and has advised more than 200 major CEOs and their management teams. He is the New York Times bestselling author of many books, including What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Mojo, and Triggers. His latest book is titled: The Earned Life: Lose Regret, Choose Fulfillment.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Basing success strictly on results is a fool’s game. The Buddhist term for this is The Hungry Ghost – always eating but never full.
  • Success should be defined as: Are you doing something that is connected to your higher aspirations, are you doing that’s meaningful, and do you enjoy the process.
  • He pioneered the 360 feedback process which includes taking personal references away from the office to truly understand someone’s character.
  • What separate the great from the exceptional leaders are courage, humility, and discipline.
  • “We are living an earned life when the choices, risks, and effort we make in each moment align with an overarching purpose in our lives, regardless of the eventual outcome.”
  • To have a good life, we need to align our aspirations, our ambitions and our actions. Most executives you coach get stuck on the ambition phase.
  • “Excellence is focusing on achievement that’s consistent with something that’s meaningful to you and something you enjoy.”

 

Notes:

The Earned Life: Lose Regret, Choose Fulfillment

What Got You Here Won’t Get Your There: How successful people become even more successful

Marshall Goldsmith website

100 Coaches

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

Katharine Hayhoe is a climate scientist and chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy.  She is also the Endowed Professor in Public Policy and Public Law and Paul W. Horn Distinguished Professor at Texas Tech University. She has been named a United Nations Champion of the Earth and one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People.  She holds a PhD in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois.  Her latest book is titled: Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • We would need only a square area of 120 miles by 120 miles covered with present day solar panels to supply the entire United States with electricity.
  • We could cut carbon emissions in half through efficiency alone.
  • “Our planet has a fever caused by our lifestyle choices since the dawn of the industrial revolution. If we don’t change our habits at a systemic level, the consequences for humanity will be enormous.”
  • Climate change is not just an environmental issue but a serious health issue.
  • Air pollution from fossil fuels is responsible for nearly 9 million premature death every year.
  • Climate change disproportionally effects the poorest and most vulnerable and most marginalized people.
  • “Excellence is your own standard of doing everything you can toward the goal that you’ve set.”

 

Show Notes

Book: Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World

Personal Website: Katharine Hayhoe

Project DRAWDOWN

Howard Shore is a musical composer and has won three Academy Awards for his score to The Lord of the Rings as well as four Grammys and three Golden Globes. He has scored over 90 films and collaborated with many well known directors including Peter Jackson, Martin Scorsese, David Cronenberg, and Tim Burton.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He was in a jazz fusion band called Lighthouse and opened for Jimi Hendrix while touring with the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.
  • He was the first musical director for Saturday Night Live.
  • When he was starting out, he went to the library and studied other scores to learn how to write music for the movies.
  • He has wide range as a composer scoring thrillers like Silence of the Lambs, comedies like Big and Mrs. Doubtfire, dramas such as Philadelphia and The Aviator, and fantasy films, most notably The Lord of the Rings.
  • “You’re trying to take the audience to the world. You want to transport the person and they may not be aware of how they got there and what’s happening to them.”
  • He used to review Mozart’s symphonies in the morning before he would compose to tune his brain up and try to emulate that level of quality.
  • The key to creating music is to not overanalyze but to keep writing and writing and figure out later how to revise and winnow it down to what you really want.
  • “Excellence is respecting the art of the world that you’re working in.”