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.”

Erin Brockovich is the president of Brockovich Research and Consulting and the founder of the Erin Brockovich Foundation which educates and empowers communities in their fight for clean water. She was the driving force behind the largest medical settlement lawsuit in United States history.  She has a newsletter called The Brockovich Report and her latest book is titled: Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We The People Can Do About It.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Her mother taught her not to let other’s ideas or perceptions of who she was be hers.
  • “Don’t be afraid to grab something even if you don’t know where you’re going because when you do, you’ll find your way.”
  • The $333 million settlement awarded to the Hinkley plaintiffs was the largest sum in a direct-action lawsuit in United States history.
  • According to a 2016 report by the Environmental Working Group, two thirds of Americans are drinking water contaminated with potentially unsafe levels of chromium-6.
  • “Often times we think something’s standing in our way when the only obstacle is ourselves.”
  • It’s important to know what you stand for, knowing your “why”. Erin’s is the following: “I am an advocate for awareness, the truth, and a person’s right to know. I believe that in the absence of the truth, all of us stand helpless to defend ourselves, our families, and our health, which is the greatest gift we have.”
  • “Excellence is when we become the best we can be and it pulls out the best in others and we pull out the best in ourselves.”

 

Show Notes

Book: Superman’s Not Coming: Out National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It

Newsletter: The Brockovich Report

Health data collection website: Community Healthbook

Personal website: Erin Brockovich

Ed Stafford is a British explorer.  He holds the Guinness World Record for being the first person to walk the length of the Amazon River. He has been one of the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year and was also the European Adventurer of the Year.  He has written multiple books on his quests and now hosts an adventure reality show on the Discovery Channel called Ed Stafford: First Man Out.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • His insecurity as an adopted child drove his ambition. He had to adapt his behavior in order to make people like him and prove his worth.
  • He set the Guinness record for being the first person to hike the length of the Amazon. It took him 2 years, 4 months, and 8 days to complete the 4,345 mile trek.
  • “Imagine the thickest of bramble bushes, knotted with razor-sharp vines and spiky palms. Then imagine sinking the whole thing in a swimming pool full of muddy water and having to make your way through that swimming pool using just your 18 inch machete.”
  • “I would start the day positive and upbeat and as each negative experience cropped up, I would set myself the challenge of laughing at it and not allowing it to bring me down. Each time I succeeded, I would give myself a pat on the back and it boosted my morale further to think I was gaining control over the way I reacted to external influences.”
  • “I find myself in the pleasant position of being calmer and happier with the world about me. My confidence now comes from within rather than from the opinions of others. I now know who I am and what I am capable of.”
  • “Excellence is always trying to become the best version of yourself.”

 

Links

TV Show: Ed Stafford: First Man Out

Books:

Walking the Amazon

Naked and Marooned

Ed Stafford’s Ultimate Adventure Guide

Personal Site: Ed Stafford

Jim McKelvey is a serial entrepreneur, inventor, philanthropist, and artist.  He cofounded the mobile payments company Square and sits on the Board.  He also founded Invisibly, a digital content company, LaunchCode, a nonprofit that teaches technology literacy, and a glass art studio. His book is called The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He has never had a life plan and because of that, he’s become very comfortable with uncertainty.
  • He was a state debate champion and owed much of his success to the ability to read the judges and adjust his strategy accordingly.
  • “If you want to be successful and make some money, copy what works. But if you want to have a phenomenally successful company, you have to do something original.”
  • The big insight was rather than going after an existing market of merchants already using credit cards, Square decided to go after a market that didn’t even exist – the tiny mom and pop merchants without access to the credit card payment networks.
  • They designed a small card reader that looked really cool and got your attention but was flimsy and difficult to use. But the novelty of it turned every Square sale into a Square advertisement. This allowed the product to go viral without needing to spend one dollar on advertising.
  • What allowed Square to survive a competitive attack by Amazon and thrive as a standalone company was their innovation stack. An innovation stack is a series of innovations needed to provide a new product or service and that collectively work together to provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  • Training as an artist was a big help in mentally preparing to be an entrepreneur.
  • “Excellence is something that’s above and beyond normal good. It’s something that’s surprisingly wonderful.”

 

Show Notes

Book: The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time

Non-profit: LaunchCode

New startup: Invisibly

Al Roker is a weatherman and coanchor of NBC’s Today show, an Emmy-award winning journalist, a television producer, and a New York Times bestselling author.  He has spent over four decades on television and received 14 Emmy Awards. He has written a number of best-selling books, the latest book is titled: You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • His father advised him that “you’re going to have to work twice as hard and be twice as good to get half as far as the white kid next to you”.
  • “If you want something badly, keep at it until it’s yours or it’s no longer an option. Don’t stop because you think you’ve tried hard enough and you believe it’s not going to happen. Stop when you receive a flat out no.”
  • He got some sage advice early in his career to just be yourself. He was too busy trying to be someone else to stand out and not allowing his true personality to surface.
  • “If you don’t learn at least one new thing every day, you’re not looking.”
  • If you can learn to roll with the flow, you’ll be much better off than creating a rigid life plan.
  • Al has always woken up at 3:45 a.m.. “Time is the one commodity that you can’t manufacture more of so the only way to make more of it is to start early.”
  • “Excellence is doing your level best every day.”

 

Show Notes:

Al Roker book: You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success

Al Roker Entertainment

Al Roker Today Show Bio

Jim McCloskey is the founder of Centurion Ministries, an organization devoted to exonerating wrongfully convicted prisoners who are serving life or death sentences.  To date, the organization has freed 64 innocent people. His new book is titled: When Truth Is All You Have: A Memoir of Faith, Justice, and Freedom for The Wrongly Convicted.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Today there are dozens of innocence organizations but Centurion Ministries was the first one. Jim was the father of the entire innocence movement.
  • He learned first-hand early on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony.
  • He was able to leverage his consulting background piecing together market research to figure out how to solve these wrongful convictions.
  • Building a relationship and rapport with key witnesses was just as vital to proving these cases and Jim had a natural ability in that regard.
  • Not every case would work out. He sometimes had false positives – clients he was trying to help who he later learned were actually guilty.  When that happens, it’s important to just admit the mistake and move on.
  • “This is a story of how I learned what a cruel, mindless, mean machine the justice system can be. How, in trying to combat evil in the world, the system can become just as evil – more so, because it is evil done in the name of all of us.”
  • To date, Centurion Ministries has freed 64 innocent men and women who collectively had spent 1,350 years behind bars.
  • “Excellence is doing what you feel is right for you given your personality and makeup.”

Links

Book: When Truth Is All You Have: A Memoir of Faith, Justice, and Freedom for the Wrongly Convicted

Organization: Centurion Ministries

Sarah Frey is the founder and CEO of Frey Farms which she founded at the age of 16.  The farm grows thousands of acres worth of fruits and vegetables.  Dubbed “the Pumpkin Queen of America” by the New York Times, she sells more pumpkins than any other producer in the United States.  She is also the owner of Tsamma, a bottled watermelon juice sold in over 1,500 stores all over the country.  Her new book is titled The Growing Season: How I Built a New Life – and Saved an American Farm.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Because she grew up poor and had to spend most of her free time doing chores around the farm, she learned to use her active imagination to escape.
  • Growing up without means was a strong motivator to find the freedom to live a better life and to have more control over her own destiny.
  • Her lack of scale and sophistication early on (no warehouses, distribution centers, extra drivers) became a competitive advantage, as delivering direct to the stores meant fresher and higher quality produce for the customers.
  • A lot of her success was due to her ability to exude confidence, even when she really wasn’t sure what she was doing.
  • Scrappiness is in her company’s DNA. A core philosophy from the beginning and just as relevant today is how to do more with less.
  • Always make sure that the customer’s needs are met. “Take care of the customer today and they will take care of you in the future.”
  • She doesn’t look for the polished, well educated, perfectly buttoned-up kinds of people but rather, the ones that have some imperfections. “Often the most imperfect people are the sweetest on the inside.”
  • “Excellence is loving what you do.”

 

Links:

Book: The Growing Season: How I Built a New Life – and Saved an American Farm

Frey Farms

Tsamma watermellon juice

Jon Dorenbos is a former professional football player and magician.  He played for 14 seasons in the NFL as a long snapper with the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles.  He had a parallel career as a magician and was a finalist on America’s Got Talent, placing third overall amongst tens of thousands of competitors. He is a regular guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and his new book is called “Life is Magic: My Inspiring Journey from Tragedy to Self-Discovery.”

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Don’t listen to that negative inner voice which is constantly doubting yourself. Rather, you should talk to yourself out loud and say where you plan to go in life. The narrative you tell yourself is going to ultimately become your own reality.
  • Magic was more that tricks. It was a form of meditation that helped him heal his emotional wounds.  Magic allowed him to quiet all the negativity and just be lost in the moment.
  • On his path to becoming an NFL star, he had to first get picked up by a division I school and to do so, he doctored up some long snapping footage of other players to look like it was his own. He knew in his heart he was really good enough and was willing to do whatever it took to give himself a chance.
  • Being a long snapper requires extreme mental toughness. You might only play 10 plays the entire game so you have to be able to have closure quickly, you have to be able to forgive, and you have to be able to move on.
  • Things are easy or difficult based on how we perceive them in our mind. If you think it’s easy, it is, and vice versa.
  • The key ingredients to success for both magic and football are discipline, hard work, passion, and a drive to want to be great and change the world.
  • You need to decide which story you choose to hold onto. Focusing on the negative or positive stories in your life will dictate the kind of life you’re going to live.
  • “Excellence is about showing up. Showing up every day, showing up on time, and showing up ready to work.”