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

Gary Hunt is a professional cliff diver.  He is a 10 time Red Bull World Series Champion with 43 overall victories and counting.  He is widely considered the greatest cliff diver in the history of the sport.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Juggling was a practice he used to increase his focus and concentration and take his mind off the stress and pressure of the competition.
  • It took several years diving off increasing heights to build up the confidence and courage to jump off the 27 meter platform
  • He’s afraid of heights when there’s no water underneath
  • To prepare for a cliff dive, you have to practice routines off the 10 meter platform and then assemble the pieces together when doing the actual 27 meter dive.
  • His curiosity to learn new dives and explore what’s possible is what drove him to be the best in the world.
  • His greatest fear is losing his motivation to learn new things

George Mumford is a psychologist, elite performance expert, and author of The Mindful Athlete.  He has worked with worldclass athletes including Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal. He has also consulted with college and Olympic athletes, corporate executives, and inmates, and is a sought-after public speaker at both business and athletic conferences nationally and internationally.  His latest booked is title: Unlocked: Embrace your Greatness, Find the Flow, Discover Success.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Unlocked is releasing the masterpiece within. It’s embracing your inner greatness.
  • Being authentic is a core part of being unlocked. “We remove the extraneous, the layering of our conditioning and defenses, and the ways that we have been untrue to who we really are until we find what is authentic within us – an authenticity that is always there, waiting to be revealed.”
  • Kobe Bryant once said of George Mumford: “George helped me to be neither distracted or focused, rigid or flexible, passive or aggressive. I learned to just be.”
  • George’s big break was coming on the heels of the Lakers’ third NBA championship in a row when coach Phil Jackson asked George to help the team deal with the stress and pressure brought on by their success.
  • 90% of long term happiness is dependent upon how the brain interprets our experience.
  • One of the distinguishing characteristics of the best athletes in the world is they’re very coachable. They are lifelong learners, always looking to get an edge.
  • If you want to be in flow, you have to have a fully integrated self. Your body, your mind, your heart, and your soul have to be in unison and harmony.

 

Notes:

George Mumford website

Book: Unlocked: Embrace Your Greatness, Find the Flow, Discover Success

Book: The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance

 

Kara Swisher is the host of the podcast On with Kara Swisher and the co-host of the Pivot podcast with Scott Galloway, both distributed by New York magazine. She was also the cofounder and editor-at-large of Recode, host of the Recode Decode podcast, and co-executive producer of the Code conference. She was a former contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and host of its Sway podcast and has also worked for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Her latest book it titled: Burn Book: A Tech Love Story.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Her father’s passing when she was just five made her appreciate the ephemeral nature of life and focus on what truly matters.
  • A lot of big tech titans have a big deficit in their upbringing and replace it with enablers and fence themselves off from the population, hence their isolation and loneliness.
  • With her direct no nonsense approach, she has an uncanny ability to get big people to open up and share unique insights.
  • She has been as entrepreneurial and innovative with her career as the tech entrepreneurs she covers for a living.
  • She feels Steve Jobs is the most consequential figure of the modern tech era.
  • She has called Mark Zuckerberg one of the most carelessly dangerous men in the history of technology.
  • “Excellence is doing your very best to get to the heart of something, doing your very best to create something fresh and new, and doing your very best to get it right.”

 

Notes:

Book: Burn Book: A Tech Love Story

Podcasts: Pivot   On with Kara Swisher

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

Kristin Harila is a Norwegian mountain climber who recently set a world speed record for climbing the 14 highest peaks in just 92 days.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • She quit her job and sold her home and put everything on the line to achieve this goal.
  • “If you are happy with less than your goal, then you’ll never reach your goal.”
  • You have to truly believe in what you’re doing if you want to achieve a goal.
  • Working together as a team with her Sherpa was a key component of allowing her to pull off this world record.
  • Many people think that the summit is the goal but the goal is actually to come safely back down the mountain.
  • “On almost all the peaks, there are dead people. If it happens to me, I will have died happy.”

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

Chris Voss is one of the preeminent practitioners and professors of negotiation skills in the world. He was formerly the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI as well as the FBI’s hostage negotiation representative for the National Security Council’s Hostage Working Group.  He is the founder of The Black Swan Group, a consulting firm that provides training and advises Fortune 500 companies through complex negotiations.  He has taught business negotiation in MBA programs at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. He also taught business negotiation at Harvard and guest lectured at other leading universities including the MIT Sloan School of Management and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.  His book is titled: Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Working the crisis hotline was where Chris first learned the power of empathy. Showing someone that they feel heard is often enough to get them to change their behavior.
  • Empathy is about the transmission of information whereas compassion is about the reaction to that transmission.
  • Any time you relax into stress, you’ll handle it far better. The act of relaxation increases your body’s ability to handle its stress demands.
  • Labeling is a verbal observation of an emotion or a dynamic. It’s a way of demonstrating that you’re listening and understanding the other side.
  • Meeting someone halfway (i.e. splitting the difference) rarely works since it never feels like it’s really halfway. You feel the transaction was unfair.  Reason being, based on the economist Daniel Kahneman, people tend to fear a loss twice as much as they are likely to welcome an equivalent gain.
  • “Excellence is a delight with learning and growing. It is not the pursuit of perfection which is a fool’s errand.”

 

Notes:

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your Life Depended on It

Black Swan Group

Fireside Black Swan Group Coaching Program