To The Top: Inspirational Career Advice

We interview authors, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders to share their blueprints for success so we can apply those best practices.
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To The Top: Inspirational Career Advice





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Now displaying: 2016
Dec 26, 2016

Oren Klaff is the author of Pitch Anything which is a book that uses neuroscience to help position new ideas. Klaff is an investment banker by trade and he's used this methodology to raise over $400 million from financial institutions.

Whether you're selling ideas to investors, pitching a client for new business, or even negotiating for a higher salary, Pitch Anything will transform the way you position your ideas.

According to Klaff, creating and presenting a great pitch isn't an art--it's a simple science. Applying the latest findings in the field of neuroeconomics, while sharing eye-opening stories of his method in action, Klaff describes how the brain makes decisions and responds to pitches. With this information, you'll remain in complete control of every stage of the pitch process.



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Dec 5, 2016

Dan Portillo is a talent parter at Greylock, Silicon Valley's leading venture capital firm that manages over $2 billion in investments. He helps build the teams for the startups in their portfolio companies which include AirBnB, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Prior to Greylock, Dan has led HR and recruiting at many startups including Mozilla, where he helped scale the company from 20-300+ employees.

Dan has a progressive approach to management, leadership, and how to build your career over an extended period of time.

In this episode we discuss:

-How you should think about your career goals

-Your tenure at your job

-3 questions everyone should ask themselves

-Why you should be worth more than you cost 

-How to assess a company, leadership, culture, and more..


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Nov 8, 2016

Patrick Lencioni is founder and president of The Table Group, Inc., a specialized management-consulting firm focused on organizational health. He has been described by The One-Minute Manager’s Ken Blanchard as “fast defining the next generation of leadership thinkers.”

Patrick's books have sold over 3 million copies, including national best-sellers, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Three Signs of a Miserable Job, and Getting Naked.

As a consultant and speaker, he has worked with thousands of senior executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 corporations and professional sports teams to universities and nonprofits, including Southwest Airlines, Barnes & Noble, and General Mills.

In this episode Pat and I discuss:

-Three values to identify in an ideal team player

-Humility versus confidence 

-The two things organizations have to do to be successful

-The pillars of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

-How to define a healthy organization

-How vulnerability breeds trust as a leader

-How to get someone to tell you the truth in an interview and more..


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Oct 16, 2016

Keith Rabois (@rabois) is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor. He worked early on at PayPal, Slide, Square, and LinkedIn. He's helped build amazing companies. He now works at Khosla Ventures and he was an early investor in companies like YouTube, Airbnb, Palantir, and Lyft. We discuss how his background as a classically trained litigator has been incredibly valuable in business.

In this episode Keith and I discuss:

-Why you don't want to be the best at what you do, you want to be the only one at what you do

-How to find undiscovered talent

-The characteristics of the talented leaders he's worked with which include Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Max Levchin, and Vinod Khosla

-When to overrule someone that reports to you

-The #1 criteria he looks for in a founder

-The upside of stress and more..


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Sep 24, 2016

Ayesha Curry (@ayeshacurry) is a chef and entrepreneur, you may know her as the wife of NBA superstar, Stephen Curry. Ayesha has been sharing delicious recipes on Instagram and on her blog ( over the last few years. She's turned her passion project into her full-time, culinary career and recently published her own cookbook titled, The Seasoned Life: Food, Family, Faith, & the Joy of Eating Well. 

In this episode Ayesha and I discuss:

-What inspired her joy of cooking

-How she balances family with her career

-How she turned her passion project into a full-time career

-The hardest part about writing her cookbook, and more..


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Aug 1, 2016

Ryan Hawk (@RyanHawk12) is the host of The Learning Leader Show which is a world-class podcast on iTunes. After getting his MBA he was considering getting his PhD but the curriculum didn't resonate with him, so he decided to interview the most creative leaders in the world and he deconstructs how they've achieved sustained success so he and his audience can learn from them. 

In this episode Ryan and I discuss:

-How The Learning Leader Show was born

-How he's learned to ask great questions

-The most important lesson he's learned from playing professional football that he's carried over to the business world and to leading a family

-How he's able to master his time to achieve great success in work, family, and his podcast

-How he gets his family on-board with his podcast

-The most memorable lesson from 150+ interviews with great leaders, and more..



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May 31, 2016

Simon Sinek's (@simonsinek) mission is to create a world where people are inspired to go to work. Through his speaking and writing he has helped leaders and organizations find their "why". He has one of the top ten TED Talks titled, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, which has been viewed over 27 million times. His first book, Start With Why, was a big success. His latest NY Times Best Seller, Leaders Eat Last, is an incredible book about how leaders can create environments in which people come together to do remarkable work. 

In this episode Simon and I discuss:

-How he discovered his purpose which he calls his "Why"

-The most important lesson he learned when he was stuck in Afghanistan

-How we confuse fleeting moments of happiness with true career fulfillment

-How to be an effective leader

-The reason why most people don't commit themselves to a journey of leadership

-Is being born a leader a myth?

-The foundational trait of leadership

-The biggest challenge in leadership

-How anyone can start practicing leadership skills today, and more..


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May 9, 2016

Spencer West (@spencer2thewest) is a motivational speaker for ME to WE and an ambassador for Free the Children. He travels around the globe speaking to schools and organizations about his message of redefining possible. Spencer lost his legs as a child and he hasn't let that stop him from making extraordinary contributions to the world. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and raised half a million dollars to provide clean water to over 12,000 people in East Africa. You'll learn about his story and his message about how asking for help is a sign of true leadership, not a weakness.


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Apr 28, 2016

Srinivas Rao (@UnmistakableCEO) is the founder of Unmistakable Media, a creative agency that hosts an incredible podcast where Srini has interviewed over 600 creative people. You can listen to the Unmistakable Creative podcast on their website below and subscribe to it on iTunes. Here we discuss how his interviews have affected his life, his daily routines, and how he was able to follow his passion and do work he loves.


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Apr 5, 2016

Aubrey Marcus (@AubreyMarcus) is the founder of Onnit, a sports nutrition company that has gone from 0 to $28 million in 5 years. Their philosophy is "total human optimization." Onnit also produces foods, apparel, and incredibly unique fitness equipment. We discuss how the brand got started, how they differentiate in an ultra-competitive market, and Aubrey's pursuit of living an inspired life.


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Feb 21, 2016

Daymond John (@thesharkdaymond) is known for being an investor on ABC's Shark Tank. He was also the co-founder and CEO of the fashion clothing line, FUBU. He's recently published a new book called The Power of Broke which is about being resourceful and turning your weaknesses into strengths. 


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Jan 20, 2016
When I saw Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson wearing a retro Mike Tyson T-shirt at the gym on Instagram I was pumped! I reached out to Jesse Katz who is co-founder of Roots of Fight which is a clothing brand that’s gone viral. I wanted to learn about the vision of the brand and potential lessons entrepreneurs could learn from his journey. “When The Rock first tweeted wearing one of our shirts my phone almost exploded. We couldn't plan that,” said Katz. The Rock’s post had a measurable social media impact. That single post garnered over a half million likes and within two years they’ve racked up 168,000 organic followers on Instagram. [caption id="attachment_196" align="alignnone" width="909"] The Rock's Instagram[/caption] The brand has licensing deals for clothing with legendary fighters including Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Joe Frazier and Bruce Lee. Roots of Fight shines a light on athletes who paved the way for the contemporary fighters that came before them. Jesse’s business partner, Richard Lawley, is the creative genius. The duo have extraordinary access, they’re literally sitting at Bruce Lee’s desk sifting through images and video archives. They’re able to use these assets and translate these moments into an aesthetic that captures moments in time and the ethos behind them. They’ve also crafted short documentaries with the timeless footage which is available on their YouTube channel. [youtubevid id="GI2b35SJYy4"] Jesse’s background was a unique recipe for the brand he’s so passionate about. His work ethic was cemented at a young age helping his father prepare tax returns after school. Then he pitched in helping his brother with his T-shirt printing company and later assisted with the financials. Jesse later took the model of the clothing company and created a full service marketing agency. His clients were breweries which he helped forge sports marketing partnerships with leagues like the NHL and the NBA. That experience helped him establish relationships in the sporting world. The tipping point was when Fox struck a deal with UFC that would bring the fight world to mainstream audiences on network television. By this time Jesse and his partner had a proof of concept and Jesse had many connections in the UFC and in the fight world. His past experience in clothing retail, branding and sports marketing would come full circle. Jesse and his team have a great rolodex of people that are supportive of their brand and have big audiences. You can catch Dana White, president of the UFC, wearing the Roots of Fight clothing during weigh-ins and at fights. Others celebrities wearing the gear are Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Ronda Rousey and Theo Rossi. Incredibly, none of them are paid for endorsements. [caption id="attachment_198" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Theo Rossi Theo Rossi[/caption] Jesse’s advice to any entrepreneur is to first focus on building a brand and not maximizing profitability initially. In addition to awareness you need distribution, marketing, and great products. You need to have a full array of business in order for social to have an impact on ROI. By the time The Rock got wind of Roots of Fight they had an arsenal of 40 athletes signed with the foundation of the business in motion. As Jesse articulates, “We built the company on the philosophy of hitting singles. We don't try to hit home runs or make a billion dollars. We're trying to grow something great while staying true to the integrity of what we're trying to build.” In a world where brands are looking for shortcuts, Roots of Fight is paying homage to legendary fighters while carefully scaling the business at their own pace. “We laugh when we see brands talk about technical fabrics like the new shoe weighing one ounce less,” Katz exclaimed. “We play footage of Muhammad Ali running in unlaced combat boots, thick heavy sweatshirts and a cotton towel around his neck. The greatest athletes of all time trained in the absolute minimum. It was all about effort, they were motivated in a different way.” When I’m wearing my Tyson shirt in the gym I’m inspired with an extra shot of adrenaline because I’m reminded of Katz’s lesson from the champion:
“Mike Tyson would jog at 4 a.m. because he knew his opponent wasn’t doing that. You’re wearing the clothing of someone who trained harder than you can imagine.”
Interested in hearing the entire interview? Click this link for the podcast episode on iTunes.
Jan 20, 2016
“Self-care is fundamental to not only our personal well-being but also to our relationships with the people closest to us.”
Mike Robbins shared these important words at a recent workshop I attended, yet I still struggled to keep my eyeballs open from the exhausting (yet rewarding) sleepless nights of having a newborn baby, and far too many energy drinks to make up for it. “Self-care,” I thought? “Sign me up!” Mike is a keynote speaker and he’s delivered multiple inspiring TEDx Talks on various topics like the one I heard on “Authenticity”. He’s written three books and his latest is titled Nothing Changes Until You Do. It’s filled with short stories that serve as a guide for self-compassion and getting out of your own way. In one of my favorite chapters he discusses how it’s important to take good care of ourselves, and how we often perceive self-care as being selfish or something we should do once we get everything else done. mike robbins It empowers us to be more available and generous with the people around us in an authentic way, while modeling to them how we want to be treated. As Michael Bernard Beckwith says, “The Golden Rule is ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Mike Robbins relays The Platinum Rule which is ‘How I treat myself trains others how to treat me.” Prior to his speaking career, Mike played baseball in college at Stanford where he was later drafted by the Kansas City Royals. After a few seasons in the minor leagues, Mike injured his arm which abruptly ended his baseball career. [caption id="attachment_174" align="aligncenter" width="492"] Mike Robbins[/caption] I recently interviewed Mike to learn about his journey from being an athlete to becoming a self-help guru. Mike said the defining moment for him was when he read a book by Richard Carlson titled Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff; it changed his life. It helped him make the transition as he started  a new chapter in his career by learning not to take things too seriously and avoid getting too stressed out. He was so inspired by Richard’s work that soon thereafter he launched his business to empower people and organizations through speaking and writing. Admittedly, Mike was so busy trying to make it as a ball player he didn’t appreciate the journey. “If who you are is what you do, then when you don’t, you aren’t,” he said. “As an athlete you’re singularly focused on mastering your craft. Your identity is tied to your external accomplishments, and when my career suddenly ended because of my injury I felt deflated.” It sparked the idea for his first book about appreciation because he forgot to appreciate his journey as a ball player until it was over. Mike felt compelled to get in touch with best-selling author, Richard Carlson. He wrote him a letter expressing his gratitude and told him about his dream of becoming an author and speaker. Richard was kind enough to respond and offered his advice. Richard became Mike’s mentor early on in his career, and he wrote the forward for his first book, Focus on the Good Stuff.
“One of the things I ultimately learned from Richard’s life was the importance of presence. He really lived what he taught. He was a very grounded, peaceful, and present guy. You wouldn't have known he's a mega best-selling author. What he was really interested in was who you were, and connecting with you in the moment.”
Tragically, Richard passed away at the age of 45 when he suffered a pulmonary embolism during a flight. It’s a relationship Mike is deeply grateful for and his legacy lives on through his work. Mike’s book proposal for Focus on the Good Stuff was rejected 25 times. Three years into the making his literary agent said it’s time to move on. Mike had an epiphany, he was waiting for permission. “I’m writing this book and publishing it myself if I have to, he exclaimed." His agent said she had three more publishers she’s waiting to hear back from and to hold off for a few days. Suddenly, the same proposal that was rejected 25 times was accepted by all three publishers!
 “Something shifted inside of me and I was finally ready. Everyone can relate, when we’re really ready the universe aligns.”
I couldn’t help feeling inspired as I concluded my interview with Mike. His life experience of working hard to play a professional sport only to lose the dream because of an injury is common, yet Mike gained powerful perspective that led him to continue on and impact many more lives than he ever could have by simply playing ball. It was obvious that his passion from speaking comes from having fun, connecting with his audience and “focusing on the good stuff.” When I concluded the interview with the question, “What do you think defines an impacting speech?” he shared his philosophy that there are three kinds of speeches:
“There are the ones you plan to do, the ones you actually do, and the ones you wish you would have done when it's overNo one knows what you plan on saying, they only know what you do say. An impacting speech comes from authenticity and is really about trusting and being in the moment.”
So with that sound advice, I gave my own “authentic” speech to Mike, trusting him in the moment and saying, “Brother, I appreciate your time more than you know and I’m walking away with many valuable nuggets; however, I need to give myself some of the self-care you evangelize and go get some rest! There are more diapers to change tomorrow!” Interested in hearing the entire interview? Click this link for the podcast episode on iTunes.
Jan 20, 2016
“You can train with the hope that your ego will be satisfied with your physical appearance in a mirror 90 days from now. Or you can train to improve today.”
It’s what celebrity trainer and creator the #1 home fitness program , Tony Horton, told me about being present. The truth is I need to show up more. Both in the gym and in my relationships. If I’m not making daily deposits in my health or with my family, I’m just hoping they’ll turn out great. That hope is not something I can afford. If you’ve been breathing since 2003 you’ve been exposed to Tony’s energizing and motivating P90X commercials. P90X is a fitness blue-print: if you do the workouts and eat healthy you’ll get results. What attracted me to P90X is the pragmatic approach to diet and exercise. There are no magical shortcuts. You’re eating fruits, nuts, grains, whole foods, and vegetables. No microwaved dinners filled with sodium, just very sensible advice. The science behind it is muscle confusion, so my muscles never get used to the same workouts. Halfway through the program myself, I was in better shape in 45 days that I ever was in 16 years of working out in a gym. I recently caught up with Tony to understand the patterns he’s uncovered that help people achieve more. I was fascinated by his latest book, The Big Picture: 11 Laws That Will Change Your Life. His book teaches you the mindset you need to stay disciplined and consistent. Rather than telling you his workouts will make you look good (which they will), he gets you to dig deeper and figure out why you want to get healthyIt is compelling because he ties improving our health to improved performance in all other areas of our lives. Talking with Tony is like getting a vitamin B shot, not only do you feel healthier, you are pumped with a renewed fearless energy.  Tony takes the fear out of failure which has permeated in both his personal and professional life, but things weren’t always that way. In the beginning of his training career, Tony never had a mentor. His strategy to improve was to try new things that would address his weaknesses. He explains, “I knew intuitively that if I focused on things that I was unfamiliar with, if I was working on my weaknesses, that I was building my repertoire a little bit.” Tony shared that the tipping point in his life was when he changed his own narrative.  Tony admittedly lived many years where he was not present most of the time, and he would say “no” to almost everything and everyone. He had the constant “what if” playing on a virtuous loop in his head which caused him to be afraid of failure because didn’t want to embarrass himself. It was then when he entrenched himself with the work of self-help gurus like Tony Robbins, Don Miguel Ruiz, and Deepak Chopra. He applied the lessons that made sense to him which ignited his personal growth.
“If you're stuck and you think you're going to improve your life based on what you already know you're fooling yourself,” he said.
Tony explains, “I learned to take a step back to assess life especially when potential failure would present itself. I would ask myself if my life was going to get smaller or if it was going to grow? Am I okay with not being perfect? Am I ok with attempting to be present for the journey and not attached to the outcome? The answer was always yes, so I always opened up the door to try again. I fell down and struggled, but each time I got up and it was a little bit better, improving my confidence. Each time I accepted the imperfection but used it as fuel to become better.  Now I'm in a place where I'm content and pretty happy.”
“Failing doesn’t equal failures; they are lessons and stories to tell. If you look at it that way you won't let failure kill your ambition,” Tony says.
So how does Tony continue to live his life with this “no fear of failure” mentality? He reports, “I don’t assume or pretend to know everything, and I continue to say yes to more things that used to scare me. “ His openness to try new things would soon pay off. After training Harlan Goodman, an executive in the music business, Tony got an interesting phone call. The voice on the other end said, “I’m Tom Petty, I’m a friend of Harlan’s and I’d love to talk to you about a program.” Tony knew training a rock star was both an opportunity to feed himself and a potential bridge to a high-profile clientele. He said yes and crushed it! After working with Tom he also trained other high profile clients such as Billy Idol, Sean Connery, and Shirley MacLaine. Based on all the people he’s trained, I asked Tony what the difference was between someone like Jeremy Yost who transformed his life and lost 180 pounds (doing P90X) compared to someone who struggles to reach their full potential.
“It’s deep and it’s personal. Some folks just never get to rock bottom. They hover above it and that’s okay for them.”
Tony explains, “Armageddon wouldn't get them to make a dietary shift or move physically. Some people get to rock bottom and are on the brink of total disaster. They can’t survive anymore, and they need to do something to get out of the fear, depression, anxiety, or sadness. How did Jeremy get there and others can’t? That problem I haven’t solved yet.” Whether it is fitness or any area of our lives, once we have the self-awareness that we’re hovering over rock bottom, then and only then is when we can begin to change. Tony’s life improved when he made a decision to make a change. That mindset helped him overcome his fear of failure while he was constantly working on his weaknesses to get better. I concluded the interview with Tony in a pensive state and while I care about my health and fitness and got a rush from Tony’s B5 energy, what I was feeling was truly deeper. “What is it in my life that I’ve been delaying to change or improve?” I knew however, choosing to answer that question meant remembering Tony’s catchphrase to “Do my best and forget about the rest”, and not attaching myself to the outcome.   Interested in hearing the entire interview? We discuss the supplements Tony thinks everyone should take, his morning routine, what he thinks about cross-fit, his favorite books, his bachelor party, and more. Click the player above or click this link for the podcast episode on iTunes.
Jan 8, 2016

Jesse Katz is the co-founder of Roots of Fight, a clothing brand that's gone viral. He's brokered licensing deals with legendary fighters including Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and Bruce Lee. The brand shines a light on athletes who paved the way for the contemporary fighters that came before them. Jesse tells the story about how Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson helped build their social media platform, the purpose behind the brand, and key lessons for anyone starting a business.

Check out Roots of Fight online:


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