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

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

Francis Collins is the Director of the National Institutes of Health, the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world.  Francis is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project.  Francis is an elected member of both the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science. In 2020, he was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (UK) and was also named the 50th winner of the Templeton Prize, which celebrates scientific and spiritual curiosity.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He was able to act in his family’s community theater as a child which served as an important foundation for his exemplary ability to communicate.
  • He was an atheist early in life but a patient asking about his beliefs sent him down a path of exploration and meaning and he ended up becoming a devout Christian.
  • He developed a technique known as positional cloning for identifying genes. With this technique, he discovered the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s Disease.
  • He led the Human Genome Project, the global consortium which sequenced the entire human genome, one of the biggest most monumental scientific breakthroughs ever.
  • “Science can produce knowledge but the way you apply that knowledge is where ethics and morality kick in.”
  • The next frontier in science will be decoding the brain, the most complex part of the human body.
  • “Excellence is not just about being able to bring your best, your creative approach, your work ethic, and your dedication but also being in the service of something that matters.”

Robert Lefkowitz is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who is best known for showing how adrenaline works via stimulation of specific receptors.  He was trained at Columbia, NIH, and Harvard before joining the faculty at Duke University and becoming an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  In addition to being a researcher, Bob is a cardiologist as well as a cardiac patient.  His book is titled: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm: The Adrenaline-Fueled Adventures of an Accidental Scientist. 

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He started out as a physician but he preferred the creativity and experimentation needed in research over the disciplined approach of following standard operating procedures needed to succeed in medicine. He was much more motivated by trying to figure something out that had never been done before.
  • He won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his discovery on G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Many basic physiological processes depend on GPCRs and around half of all medications act through those receptors such as beta blockers and antihistamines. This has allowed the treatment of hypertension and coronary disease among many other conditions.
  • It was never his intention to cure a disease or create a drug but rather he was driven by raw curiosity to understand a particular biological phenomenon.
  • He had two deep-seated feelings in his 20s that he would die young and accomplish something of significance. These premonitions would motivate and propel him throughout his career.
  • Because of his passion, social nature and upbeat personality, the press in Stockholm gave him the moniker “The Happiest Laureate”.
  • Even for the most successful scientists, their experiments only work about 2% of the time. So you need to learn to live with failure and find a way to stay motivated.
  • “Excellence is marshalling whatever your powers are to the fullest extent to do things that are of some inherent value.”

 

Show Notes

Bio

Books:

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm

Other links mentioned:

THE POZCAST by Adam Posner

NHP Talent Group

BJ Fogg is the founder and director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University.  In addition to his research, BJ teaches industry innovators how human behavior really works. He created the Tiny Habits academy to help people around the world. His book is called Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • The Fogg Behavior Model suggests that a behavior is driven by three things: motivation, ability, and a prompt. Motivation is the desire to perform the behavior. Ability is your capacity to do so.  A prompt is a cue to perform the behavior.
  • If you’re trying to create a new habit, you should adopt a “golden behavior” which is a behavior which is effective, one that you’ve motivated to do, and one that you have the ability to do.
  • The next step is to make the habit tiny. Find the smallest, easiest way to start the new habit. The momentum will lead to bigger behaviors over time.
  • You have to use a prompt which is a reminder to do a behavior. The best kind of prompt is an anchor. An anchor is an existing behavior already ingrained in your life which serves as a reminder to do the new behavior.
  • You need to “celebrate” each time you perform a new desired behavior which causes a positive emotion inside yourself. It’s a mechanism to self-reinforce the positive behavior.
  • To set yourself up for the day ahead, when you wake up first thing in the morning, plant both feet on the floor and say out loud “It’s going to be a great day”.
  • The key to lasting change is to help people do what they already want to do and help people feel successful at it.
  • “Excellence is doing the very best job you can and helping others in ways that really moves the needle for them.”

 

Show Notes

BJ Fogg personal website

Stanford Behavior Design Lab

Books:

Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything

Persuasive Technology

Other links mentioned:

THE POZCAST by Adam Posner

NHP Talent Group