What drives a five-time Olympian? Today, we hear from the true legendary champion Kerri Walsh Jennings. The best beach volleyball player in the world sits with us for a conversation all about drive and inspiration.
“My bronze completes me. My dark side completes me… You need to have both.” – Kerri Walsh Jennings
Discipline Liberates and Consistency Feels Great
One of Kerri’s favorite quotes is Jocko Willink’s “Discipline equals freedom.” A lot of high-performing people get either flak for being so disciplined or pity for being “punished”. But discipline liberates and allows Kerri the space to breathe and accomplish things.
Discipline is all about showing up and doing what it takes on the daily. And it is as beautiful a word as competition despite the negative connotation often attached to the two.
“It makes me feel good to be consistent and to do the hard things when things are hard and to do it until they’re done.” – Kerri Walsh Jennings
Love for Winning Always Wins
Like most athletes, Kerri loves winning. But her relationship with it is as unique as it could get. The joy of winning motivates and inspires her more than the pain of losing.
People would often say that losing motivates them, but Kerri thinks that losing is like a chronic injury or a weight on one’s shoulders. It gets into your psyche in a way that drives you crazy. It is a toxic feeling despite the positives to it.
“I love winning more than I hate losing, which I think is why I’m still going.” – Kerri Walsh Jennings
Feeling at Home in the Olympics
With her veteran status in the Olympics, one would think that she felt the pressure of having basically the entire world watching her either win or lose. But not once has this ever occurred to Kerri.
The Olympics is fun, and she has always found it helpful to create a bubble around her to make her feel safe and not get caught in the noise. She has found her home in the Olympics, and not even the millions of spectators would take her off her game.
To hear more about Kerri’s distinction between inspiration and motivation and a whole lot more, download and listen to the episode.
Kerri Walsh Jennings has been called, “the Best Beach Volleyball Player in the World”.
Kerri is a five-time Olympian, three-time Olympic gold medal winner, and a one-time bronze medalist.
She is the beach volleyball career leader in career wins.
And Kerri is half of what has been called “the greatest beach volleyball team of all time,” with her longtime partner Misty May-Treanor.
Walsh Jennings is also an entrepreneur. She is the founder of p1440, a beach volleyball event series launched in September 2018 with eight events in the 2018–2019 season, showcasing the best in women’s and men’s beach volleyball from around the globe.
We hope you enjoyed Kerri Walsh Jennings on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
Is it possible to live multiple lives in this lifetime? Today, the three-foot giant Dr. Sean Stephenson joins us for a wonderful conversation on growth, purpose, and a lot more.
Continuing to Grow
Even after achieving his stature as a public speaker, Sean admits that he’s still growing. He was in business with his father for 22 years and didn’t leave home until he was 31. Perhaps owing to his severe physical disability, he was very close to his family.
His home life was wonderful, but as he got older, it got more difficult. Being in the same roof with his family, he always had a group thinking and felt like he was curbing himself. So he decided to go through a very painful business breakup and step out into the world.
Learning to Walk
We can’t read the label inside the jar. Sean didn’t know how much he was holding back his own opinions or how much he was fully being himself. But when he moved and broke away, he started seeing how there were new levels and layers to him.
The stark differences between his and other people’s experiences growing up shocked him. After all, he was used to a culture where not doing what the family wants equals being a renegade.
“I have decades and decades of education where I help people through their pains and their problems. But in some ways, I’m still learning to walk myself, learning to navigate this world, and I’m loving the experience of making mistakes.” – Dr. Sean Stephenson
Breaking the Mold
It personally sickens him to think that some people would want to live the same life a hundred times over. To continue his self-discovery, he would reorganize his life every five years or so. He wants to look back on the past five years with a stack of embarrassing mistakes to learn from.
Sean confesses that he wouldn’t hang out with his younger versions with interests that wouldn’t necessarily appeal to him now. He loves himself all the more for it. And he can only wish the version of himself five or ten years down the road would feel the same way with the present.
“Maybe there’s a wrongful belief out there that the version of you will always be the same as you get older but I don’t agree with that. I’m constantly breaking the mold and starting over and trying new things and figuring out what do I believe in.” – Dr. Sean Stephenson
To hear about why purpose is sexy and how Sean turned his “disability” into a competitive advantage, download and listen to the episode.
Dr. Sean Stephenson was predicted not to survive at birth because of a rare bone disorder that stunted his growth and caused his bones to be extremely fragile (fracturing over 200 times by the age of 18).
Despite his challenges, he took a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world.
Since 1994, his powerful message has been heard at live events in nearly all 50 states and in 16 countries.
Sean has presented at hospitals, universities, prisons, and to companies such as Nike, Whole Foods, Zappos, Walmart, and Sharp Healthcare. He has shared the stage with U.S. Presidents, billionaire business moguls, celebrities, and his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Sean has appeared on everything from The Oprah Show to Jimmy Kimmel, in addition to online videos with tens of millions of views.
The Biography Channel produced an hour-long feature on his life called, Three Foot Giant.
Mindie Kniss & Sean Stephenson his international best-selling book, Get Off Your “But”, has been translated into over a dozen different languages.
As a board-certified therapist, and doctor of Clinical Hypnosis, Dr. Stephenson sees clients in a unique 12-hour session that gets to the root of their fears, excuses, and insecurities.
Each year Sean hosts live events and group coaching programs to mentor individuals in the art and business of public speaking.
When Sean isn’t working he can be found in the gym, playing NBA 2K with his friends, or watching NBA basketball with his wife and business partner, Mindie Kniss.
Both Chicago-natives, Sean and Mindie have traveled the world, but now call Scottsdale, Arizona, home.
We hope you enjoyed Dr. Sean Stephenson on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
How can structure drive culture? On today’s episode, the amazing author of
Is It Really Culture?
When Safi first became an entrepreneur, he read every article and book he could find on various subjects like how to become a good leader and build great teams. All those things sounded good, but after a while, he got hungry for something more solid.
“I was trying to understand if there was some science to this. If there was something else besides just culture.” – Safi Bahcall
He observed that companies with completely different cultures would succeed, while those with the same cultures failed. There are elements of culture that are very important. But is it really the culture that drives the success of an organization?
Structure Eats Culture for Lunch
Christopher shares that there are successful companies with the “biddings will continue until morale improves” culture. Then there are other successful organizations that adopt an “everybody loves each other” culture. From this standpoint, there seems to be no such thing as a culture that works and a culture that doesn’t.
“Well, there’s a saying in business that says, ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ What I would add is that ‘structure eats culture for lunch.’” – Safi Bahcall
It appears that structure enables exponential differences in organizations in a way that culture doesn’t as much.
Structure Drives an Organization’s Culture
To exemplify, Uber had an outlier incentive system. Nobody wanted to work on other people’s project because of the 8X incentive that successful project proponents could earn. No matter how many times teamwork was encouraged, nobody would actually get into it.
But when the team-based incentives began to roll out, the culture changed. People were rewarded based on team performance. This perfectly sums up how structure eats culture for lunch.
“It means that underlying structure can drive the culture, rather than the way around.” – Safi Bahcall
To hear about how water molecules relate to business structure and how genius and serendipity need to meet to produce breakthroughs from Safi, download and listen to the episode.
Safi is a second-generation physicist (the son of two astrophysicists) and a biotech entrepreneur.
He received his BA summa cum laude from Harvard and his Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, where he worked with Lenny Susskind in particle physics (the science of the small) and the Nobel laureate Bob Laughlin in condensed matter physics (the science of the many).
He was a Miller Fellow in physics at UC Berkeley (the school of the many). After working for three years as a consultant for McKinsey, Safi co-founded a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer. He led its IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years.
Safi has presented at approximately 130 banking conferences, investor events, and medical meetings around the world, as well as at leading academic institutions including physics, mathematics, or medical departments at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Caltech, Cornell, Bell Labs, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Rockefeller, and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
He lives with his wife, two children, and roughly 37 Gerald + Piggie books in Cambridge, MA.
We hope you enjoyed Safi Bahcall on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
Why does great service come from the heart? On today’s episode, Christopher sits with his hero Ken Blanchard. One of the greatest authors of all time shares why legendary customer service matters, the power that true servant leadership holds, and so much more.
Exemplifying Simple Truths
Christopher has personally looked up to Ken since reading the life-changing book, The One-Minute Manager. When he dropped out of school and had to seek other ways of learning, Christopher turned to the book that he has given to many others in return.
Simplicity marks everything that Ken writes and teaches. The living legend has written over 60 books, with a new one inspired by the story of Johnny the Bagger, The Simple Truths of Service.
“My mission statement is to be a loving teacher and example of simple truths.” – Ken Blanchard
Great, Simple Service
Everyone can make a difference in customer service without having to do anything complicated and by simply reaching out to customers and making them feel important. Great service that makes a difference comes from the heart. However, the human ego often sends people off track of being servant leaders.
Ego gets in the way of service in two ways. One is through false pride or the “more than” philosophy, where you act like you’re better than everyone else. And then there is fear or self-doubt, where you have a “less than” philosophy.
“A lot of people say, ‘That’s an ego problem?’ Sure, you focus on yourself.” – Ken Blanchard on self-doubt
Writing for People
Growing up, Ken’s parents instilled in him the value of staying grounded. When he became president back in junior high, his father reminded him that great leaders are great because people respect and trust them. His mother also taught him to neither think himself beyond others nor let others think they’re above him.
He has had a lot of valuable learnings in life. And all these motivate him to continue writing books.
“I just love learning for people.” – Ken Blanchard
To hear more about service and being yourself from Ken himself, download and listen to the episode.
A prominent, sought-after author, speaker, and business consultant, Dr. Ken Blanchard’s friends, colleagues, and clients characterize him as one of the most insightful, powerful, and compassionate individuals in business today. Ken is one of the most influential leadership experts in the world and is respected for his years of groundbreaking work in the fields of leadership and management.
He is also the co-founder and Chief Spiritual Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies, an international management training and consulting firm that he and his wife, Margie Blanchard, began in 1979 in San Diego, California.
Ken received a master’s degree from Colgate University and a bachelor’s and Ph.D. from Cornell University. Ken spends time as a visiting lecturer at his alma mater where he is a trustee emeritus of the Board of Trustees. He also teaches students in the Master of Science in Executive Leadership Program at the University of San Diego.
He has received many awards and honors for his contributions in the fields of management, leadership, and speaking. The National Speakers Association awarded him its highest honor, the “Council of Peers Award of Excellence.” He was inducted into the HRD Hall of Fame by Training magazine and Lakewood Conferences, and he received the Golden Gavel Award from Toastmasters International.
Ken also received The Thought Leadership Award for continued support of work-related learning and performance by ISA—The Association of Learning Providers. Ken has been inducted into Amazon’s Hall of Fame as one of the top 25 best-selling authors of all time. The business school at Grand Canyon University bears his name.
An avid golfer, Ken belongs to the Loch Lomond Golf Club in Scotland.
We hope you enjoyed Ken Blanchard on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
Why does being present mean losing oneself? On today’s episode, mindfulness guru Julianna Raye shares an insightful conversation with Christopher. Learn how you can apply your attention in ways to truly make your life effective.
Mindfulness and Being Present
Mindfulness practice entails knowing how to apply your attention through optimal ways. Understanding where to focus one’s attention alleviates even a simple headache. Opening up to the experience as it is happening will help release the pain, even if not always.
It turns out, there are two ways by which you can handle pain. One is to turn towards the pain and directly work with it or to anchor away from it. And it matters to be present in the situation in order to find a way to deal with it.
“I like to define what it means to be present in a way where people can actually understand how to do it—if they wanna do something.” – Julianna Raye on being present
Three Skill States
There are three skill states to consider to achieve mindfulness: concentration, sensory clarity, and equanimity. Julianna says that these are naturally-occurring. And they come up in life all the time, associated with the most fulfilling moments.
“The key is a lot of people don’t know that those heightened states—those skills—you can develop them and then they’re transferrable.” – Julianna Raye
When you achieve concentration, you get to spend more time focusing on what matters to you and less time being pulled into distractions. Nobody succeeds without figuring out how concentration works.
“Concentration is the ability to focus on what you choose.” – Julianna Raye
Christopher says that it’s interesting how you lose yourself in concentration. This means that the more present we are for us, the less alive we are. And the less present that we are, the more alive we are.
“It’s this amazing dichotomy to me that when we lose ourselves the most is when we’re alive the most.” – Christopher Lochhead
To hear more about the other skill states that affect mindfulness from Julianna herself, download and listen to the episode.
Julianna is devoted to deepening people’s understanding of research-supported mindfulness and empowering anyone to guide others in its practice. She has been training individuals and groups in the Unified Mindfulness system for nearly two decades.
Julianna is also a founding member of Brightmind Meditation, LLC—the developer of the Brightmind mindfulness app. She also consults and offers private coaching, onsite and online mindfulness training.
She has had more than 100 weeks of immersive silent retreat training in both the mindfulness and Zen traditions. Through these, she has completed over 12,000 hours of formal practice.
Along the way, she has participated in research including a UCLA study comparing long-term meditator’s brains with those of non-meditators.
She also designed and led the training for a workplace research study carried out under David Creswell, Ph.D. And that study showed positive outcomes with regards to improved employee well being and lower stress.
We hope you enjoyed Julianna Raye on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
Why do most startups fail? Today, Bruce Cleveland joins us for a master class in building a massively successful B2B and why market engineering is a skill every executive needs. Listen in to learn how you can build your company and category to scale.
“Venture capital is a fairly interesting term or phrase. Because what I found is that there’s not a lot of venture in venture capital.” – Bruce Cleveland
Basic Patterns to Engineer Success
CEOs demonstrate basic patterns in engineering their success. But a lot of startups are not executing these patterns. Over the course of a decade in his prior firm, Bruce began to see which teams would have an actual chance for success.
He decided to explore these patterns, and he discovered three phases that every startup goes through. Even a new product offering in a large company will have to go through these same phases.
Go-to-Product and Go-to-Scale Phases
The first phase is the go-to-product phase. It begins with an idea, one that is hopefully informed by research. In this phase, you will have a prototype that you put in the market for some customers to get and provide feedback for in order to reach a more polished version called minimum viable product.
Skipping to the third phase, which is the go-to-scale phase, is where you finally get some customers and things are really working. Now, you have converted from being a PowerPoint company to a spreadsheet company. And you can finally show how good your product actually is.
Investors Look for Traction
Beyond reaching profitability, what most firms want to see is this thing called traction. They want to see demonstrable evidence that there’s a market and that people will purchase your product. And most of all, it needs to be enough evidence.
“That go-to-scale phase, there’s a lot of companies that will finance that. And there’s a lot of great brands that are out there that wait until you get to that point before they will invest in you.” – Bruce Cleveland
To learn more about the traction gap from Bruce, download and listen to the episode.
Bruce Cleveland is a Founding Partner at Wildcat where he focuses on investments in artificial intelligence (AI) marketing, EdTech, enterprise software as a service (SaaS) and the Internet of Things (IoT). He’s also the author of Traversing the Traction Gap.
His specific areas of interest include enterprise automation, education and training, and general business applications. Bruce likes working with early-stage companies that use technology and data to increase revenue and decrease costs.
An avid adventurer and sailor, Bruce enjoys the challenge of creating new companies and navigating new markets.
Bruce began his venture capital career at InterWest Partners, where he was the first investor and a former board member of Marketo, which held an IPO in 2013 and was acquired by Vista Equity Partners in 2016 for $1.8 billion.
We hope you enjoyed Bruce Cleveland on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
Are you a company people spend time with or save time with? On today’s episode, business thought leader Joe Pine joins us for a riveting conversation on why experiences remain important in the business sphere.
Progression of Economic Value
Joe and his partner opened their legendary book, The Experience Economy, with an anecdote on coffee beans. Coffee is a commodity that can be grown on the ground and a cup can cost 2 to 3 cents. But when you package coffee beans and sell them in stores, their value increases to 5 or 10 cents.
Even more, when you buy coffee from someone who brewed it for you, the cost increases to half a dollar. Finally, having coffee in an ambient environment like most coffee shops will have you paying up to $4 for a cup. This perfectly exemplifies the progression of economic value.“
When Companies Fail
Apple and Starbucks have succeeded in making experience part of their products through their retail stores. This is something that a lot of companies fall short in. Take for example Toys R Us, which went bankrupt recently.
“When you combine the great products that Apple has with the great experience they have in their stores, that’s when magic can happen.” – Joe Pine
Toys are the most experiential products in the world, even more than smartphones. But Toys R Us failed to see that putting them in a warehouse where kids couldn’t really play with them put their business in jeopardy.
Two Experience Strategies
As a company, you can choose between two strategies to make the customer experience better: the time well-saved strategy or the time well-spent strategy.
For the first one, you can divide the best possible service at the lowest possible price at the greatest possible experience for your customers. Meanwhile, there is also the second strategy where people actually value the time they spend with you.
“You gotta get people to value the time that they spend with you. Give them a reason to come into the store. Give them a reason to interact with you.” – Joe Pine
To hear about the four types of experiences and the value of being authentic from Joe, download and listen to the episode.
Joe Pine is a legitimate business thought leader and among the founders of the experience economy. He and his partner James H. Gilmore wrote The Experience Economy: Work is a Theatre & Every Business a Stage in 1999, which demonstrates how goods and services are no longer enough. What companies must offer are experiences that engage each customer in an inherently personal way.
He helps clients to design strategies to leverage these new economic opportunities and create experiences that drive revenue.
We hope you enjoyed Joe Pine on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
How do you bootstrap your way to success? On this episode, Joe Kudla joins us for a conversation on taking action based on insight. How do you design a new athletic clothing niche for men and be known in a category so large?
“I’ll be totally candid. I had no idea what it took to run a successful apparel business.“ – Joe Kudla
A Very Personal Brand
Athletic apparel has been around pretty much since the creation of the fig leaf. So why did Joe think of building a brand in this particular niche? It started out of a personal need.
Joe was an athlete who would beat himself up playing football his whole life. About ten years ago, he began dealing with a lot of back pain. That was when one of his friends suggested that he do yoga.
Beyond the Mass Produced
He was taking yoga classes daily when he looked around and realized that he never got to know what dudes are supposed to wear to yoga. It was this question, this puzzle, that set him and his associates to this whole path.
Massive brands flood the athletic apparel market. Some have buckled up the channel with better material and construction and more tailored, modern fit. But Joe wanted more than apparel exclusive for the gym.
“We’re the anti-gym guys. We’re going to the gym but we just didn’t connect with that culture around it.” – Joe Kudla
Creating Diverse and Versatile Athleisure
Joe looked at the space and came across the stats of people practicing yoga versus those who go surfing and gained valuable insight.
“When I really looked at the brand that we were gonna create, it was inspired by much more than yoga. It extended to this diverse, versatile active life.” – Joe Kudla
No one can deny the appeal of premium active apparel that performs better. But even better are clothes you can sweat in and wear to the beach or when you meet a friend for some beer. And so he built a brand that is casual and can be carried around throughout the day.
To hear more about the inception of Vuori and the story of finding love in poop from Joe, download and listen to the episode.
Joe is the founder/CEO of Vuori is an active lifestyle apparel brand that draws inspiration from the aspirational coastal California lifestyle, an integration of yoga, surf, sport, art, and a strong visionary spirit.
Vuori makes products that stand the test of time and hopes to inspire others to be healthy, vibrant and live their dreams.
We hope you enjoyed Joe Kudla on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
How do you become happier in life? On today’s episode, four-time New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Rubin joins us for a fun, insightful conversation. How do you turn feeling envy and lying into tools for our own growth?
Relationships for Happiness
There are two ways to achieve happiness, depending on the mental framework that you use. One of which is that to be happy, we need to have enduring, intimate bonds.
“Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists would agree that relationship is key to happiness.” – Gretchen Rubin
We have to feel like we belong, be able to confide a secret, get support, and give support. Anything that broadens or deepens our relationships is something that would make us happier. When we look at people who say they’re happier, they tend to have more relationships.
Self-knowledge is also Key
From a different vantage point, you can also say that the key to happiness is self-knowledge. We can build a happy life on the foundation of our own nature, interests, values, and temperament.
“It’s really by knowing ourselves that with this knowledge we can shape our lives to better reflect what is true for us.” – Gretchen Rubin
It should be fairly easy to know oneself when you hang out with yourself all day long, right? But the truth is that it’s not very easy at all. This stems from how we sometimes wish that we were different from who are or from how we are different from what other people expect or want us to be.
Envy and Lies are Helpful
Gretchen is keen on finding questions or indirect ways to help us understand ourselves better. For instance, whom do we envy? People don’t want to admit they feel it, but envy is actually helpful because it shows us what we wish we had.
Another question we must ask ourselves is, what do we lie about? Oftentimes when we lie, what we do doesn’t match up with what our value is and this is really important information to reflect on.
“The fact that you’re not being truthful about it means that somehow, you’re not comfortable with what your real answer is and that’s a sign—hey, maybe I need to get my actions and values into better harmony.” – Gretchen Rubin
To hear more about how we can achieve inner calm and peace from Gretchen, download and listen to the episode.
Gretchen Rubin is a writer who relentlessly explores human nature to understand how we can make our lives better.
She believes there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for becoming happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative; when we know ourselves and what works for us, we can change our habits and our lives.
And she hosts the award-winning podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin,
The New York Times calls her “the queen of the self-help memoir.”
We hope you enjoyed Gretchen Rubin on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!