Joaquin “Jack” Garcia is the former undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the Gambino crime family of Cosa Nostra in New York for nearly three years, resulting in the arrest and conviction of 32 mobsters.  He worked on over 100 major undercover investigations over his 26 year career.  He wrote a New York Times bestseller called Making Jack Falcone: An Undercover FBI Agent Takes Down a Mafia Family

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Being a good undercover is not something you can learn. It’s something you’re born with.
  • Undercover skills include thinking quick on your feet, being comfortable around all types of people, knowing how to read people, being quick witted, and likeable.
  • Sometimes he was juggling upwards of 6 different identifies and roles at the same time.
  • The Gambino case led to the arrest and conviction of 32 mobsters.
  • He worked on over 100 major undercover investigations over his career.
  • “Excellence is being the best in what you set out to do. Look in the mirror and see if you’ve given it 100%. And if the answer is yes, then you have attained excellence.”

Show Notes

Book: Making Jack Falcone: An Undercover FBI Agent Takes Down a Mafia Family

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

Monica Aldama is the cheerleading coach at Navarro College. She is one of the most successful athletic coaches in the country, having led Navarro to 14 national championships. She and her team are the subject of a hit Netflix show called Cheer which is now entering its second season. She has a new book out which is entitled: Full Out: Lessons in Life and Leadership from America’s Favorite Coach

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Her lifelong dream was to become a Wall Street banker but something happened along the way
  • She has learned how to acquire talent based not just on raw skills but on potential, knowing that some kids will grow and develop during the program
  • To win championships, you have to have a championship culture which is as much about attitude as it is work ethic and commitment.
  • Coaching these kids was not just about winning championships but about providing structure and discipline they would need during the program and throughout life.
  • To become an effective leader, she had to learn to adjust her communication style and coaching approach based on how different kids respond.
  • She encourages failure with her team. If you don’t fail, you don’t grow, and you become complacent.
  • “Excellence is carrying yourself in the way of a champion in all areas of your life.”

 

Show Notes

Book: Full Out: Lessons in Life and Leadership from America’s Favorite Coach

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

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

Maya Gabeira is a Brazilian big wave surfer. She is most known for having surfed a 73.5 ft high wave in Nazaré, Portugal in February 2020, recorded by Guinness World Records as the biggest wave ever surfed by a female.  It was also the biggest wave surfed by anyone that year.  She has received numerous accolades including the ESPY award for Best Female Action Sports Athlete and is considered one of the best female surfers in the world as well as one of the most influential female surfers of all time.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Both parents were well known in Brazil so she felt the need to leave the country at a young age to do something on her own terms and to find something that would be true to herself.
  • She suffered severe asthma as a child which made her feel weak and vulnerable but as she grew older, she learned how to turn that weakness into a strength.
  • “Surfing picks you up and also beats you down. It gives you everything but also takes everything out of you.”
  • You have to train on strengthening your lungs so you’re able to hold your breath for extended periods. Maya is able to hold her breadth for up to 4 minutes.
  • While there were plenty of women competing in small wave surfing, Maya was one of the first women to break into the dangerous sport of big wave surfing.
  • She barely survived a near-fatal accident while surfing at Nazare when a 160 ton wave collapsed on her and she lost consciousness in the water.
  • She had to endure years of intense pain and rehab following three spine surgeries along with dealing with debilitating anxiety disorder to be in a position to surf again. She ended up setting two Guinness world records for big wave surfing.
  • “Excellence is not about perfection. Perfection doesn’t exist. Excellence is the greatest you can be.”

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