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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Oct 15, 2018

Calvin Chen is an executive leadership coach who specializes in emotional intelligence for high performance, leadership, and happiness.

He used to work for Tony Robbins and then launched his own coaching business. Calvin is a renaissance man. He earned a BS in Bioinformatics from UC San Diego and he has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. His coaching has also yielded a first-round knockout in the UFC.

With over ten years of coaching experience and a certification in NLP and other coaching certifications -- Calvin works with professionals to achieve peak performance.

In this episode we discuss:

-What he's learned from having immigrant parents

-Why he decided not to pursue science

-How he worked for Tony Robbins

-The qualities of the most successful achievers he's coached and more..


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Oct 7, 2018

Kirsten is the Chief Marketing Officer at Convey Inc. which is a supply chain software company based in Austin, TX. She was formerly a Gartner analyst where she advised marketing executives across the country. She has held executive roles at Hubspot, Solar Winds, and many other technology companies.

Kirsten attended Cornell and earned her MBA from MIT, which is one of the difficult and technical schools in the world.

In this episode we discuss:

-Why she decided to attend MIT

-How she positioned herself to change industries (and you can too)

-Habits of high performers

-Career advice she'd give to a young professional and more..


Questions and comments email and visit for the latest episodes


Aug 27, 2018

Martin Kihn is an accomplished writer and one of the most in-demand marketing experts in the field of advertising. One of his books was titled House of Lies based on his experience as a management consultant which was turned into a TV show on Showtime and starred Don Cheadle.

Marty received his Bachelor's from Yale and his MBA from Colombia. He was also the head writer for the popular MTV show, Pop-up Video. He recently spent the past 5 years as a marketing analyst at Gartner, and he's currently the VP of Research at Dentsu Aegis Network.

In this episode we deconstruct many career lessons from Marty's multi-dimensional background. We also discuss:

-How to view your career over time

-How his first book, House of Lies, became a hit TV show 

-How he sold his second book for a half million dollars to Warner Bros

-How to avoid burnout and more..


For comments or questions please e-mail me at and visit for the latest episodes


Jul 29, 2018

Michael Mina is an award-winning chef based in San Francisco who has built an empire with over 40 restaurants around the world. He was the executive chef at AQUA from 1993-2002 and his flagship restaurant, MICHAEL MINA is a Michelin two-star establishment.

He has been a featured guest chef at the James Beard House numerous times; cooked for three U.S. presidents: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama; and has been a guest speaker at C.I.A. in Hyde Park and at other culinary institutes in California.           

We discuss:

  • How Michael's persistence led to his big break
  • How he was able to get Andre Agassi to become his investment partner
  • The highs of being awarded two Michelin stars and the lows of losing one
  • How he has mentored and partnered Ayesha Curry
  • Advice he has for surrounding yourself with a great team and more..


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Mar 22, 2018

Ryan Hawk is the host of The Learning Leader Show which is a world class podcast where he's interviewed 250 of the most thoughtful leaders including Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, Adam Grant, and Kat Cole. 

Ryan currently heads up the Leadership Advisory team at Brixey & Meyer. His background in sales leadership and management make him the perfect guest to discuss how to best transition into a management or leadership position.


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Feb 12, 2018

Phil Jones is a world-class sales trainer and best-selling author. He began a career in sales at a young age and eventually developed his own sales training workshop. Fast forward and he's delivered thousands of keynote speeches and published two incredible books.

Phil and I dig deep into his book titled "Exactly What to Say" and he provides his insight around other questions I ask such as how to build trust and how to disarm decision makers during the sales process.


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Nov 18, 2017

Mario Lopez is currently the host on Extra. He's one of the top hosts in Hollywood. You know him from Saved by the Bell and he's been on Dancing with the Stars. 

Mario has had a great career over an extended period of time. In this interview we cover a broad range of topics relating to career, life advice, and fitness tips.


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Nov 12, 2017

Alex Ikonn is an entrepreneur who co-founded Luxy Hair which provides high quality hair extensions. He helped grow the Luxy Hair YouTube channel to one of the most visited channels which has over 421 million views.

Alex has the drive and creativity to build beautiful products. He's also the co-founder of Intelligent Change ( where he's helped create The 5-Minute Journal which helps you be mindful about planning your day. 

He also has a Vlog on YouTube ( where he posts great behind the scenes videos about his business, family, and other things that inspire him.


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Aug 2, 2017

Ayesha Curry is literally catching on fire. The mompreneur of two has been coined the Martha Stewart for millennials. Following the recent success of her cookbook, The Seasoned Life (available on Amazon), she has a cooking show on The Food Network (Ayesha's Home Kitchen) and recently launched a meal delivery kit service ( If that wasn't enough, she's opening a new restaurant in San Francisco and launching her own cookware line in Target. How does she do it? Listen to our interview and follow her on Instagram (@ayeshacurry) to find out.


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Apr 29, 2017

Ernie Johnson, Jr. is one of sport’s most respected and loved personalities. The three-time Sports Emmy Award winner and host of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” has helped audiences break down games and belly laugh for decades.

Maybe more impressive than his professional fame and recognition is Ernie’s innate ability to connect with people on a human level. His willingness to discuss topics such as the adoption of his and his wife Cheryl’s children, including their special needs son Michael; the death of his father and best friend, iconic sportscaster and pitcher Ernie Johnson; and his own battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma has endeared him and given hope to millions .

We discuss the experiences he's shared in his autobiography Unscripted: The Unpredictable Moments That Make Life Extraordinary. 


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Apr 16, 2017

This is a special episode where Ryan Hawk, the host of The Learning Leader Show, interviews one of my favorite authors, John Kralik. His book, A Simple Act of Gratitude, greatly impacted my life. John was going through a turbulent time in his life and it's about the story of how he began to notice the things in his life he should have been thankful for.

I loved this interview so much that I wanted to share it on my podcast. Not only does John share his story, but I liked how Ryan helps us put the power of gratitude into practice. I highly recommend getting a copy of the book on Amazon, it's actually the book I gift the most to the guests on my podcast.

I interviewed John myself a couple of years ago and I wrote an article about how his book impacted my life. I've shared a link to the article below:

Check out Ryan's other interviews at


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Apr 3, 2017

A groundbreaking approach to succeeding in business and life, using the science of resourcefulness

We often think the key to success and satisfaction is to get more: more money, time, and possessions; bigger budgets, job titles, and teams; and additional resources for our professional and personal goals. It turns out we’re wrong.

Using captivating stories to illustrate research in psychology and management, Rice University professor Scott Sonenshein examines why some people and organizations succeed with so little, while others fail with so much.


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Mar 20, 2017

A mainstay in feature films and television, Dany Garcia (@DanyGarciaCo) has quickly become a powerhouse in Hollywood.

As CEO and founder of The Garcia Companies, a talent and media management company, she oversees talent such as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Henry Cavill. In addition, she serves as co-founder of Seven Bucks Productions with producing partner, Dwayne Johnson.

As Johnson’s producing partner, Dany has worked unwaveringly to create his multi-billion-dollar box office, constantly generating opportunities that elevate all aspects of his career—as an actor, producer and businessman. She has produced television shows such as Ballers on HBO and the upcoming Baywatch film starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron.


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Mar 6, 2017

Ryan Estis has more than 20 years of experience as a top-performing sales professional and leader. As the former chief strategy officer for the McCann Worldgroup advertising agency NAS, he brings a fresh perspective to business events. As a keynote speaker, Ryan is known for his innovative ideas on leading change, improving sales effectiveness and preparing for the future of work. He was recently recognized as one of “the best keynote speakers ever heard” by Meetings & Conventions magazine alongside Tony Robbins, Bill Gates, Colin Powell and Mike Ditka.

Check out Ryan's work at


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Jan 23, 2017

Stephen Chen (@petnostics) is the founder of Petnostics, a company that makes a line of at-home urine tests for pets to make healthy living easier for pets and their families. They've extended their product line to include tests for other chronic conditions.

Stephen, a Harvard MBA graduate, pitched his company on Shark Tank and landed $300,000 from Laurie Grenier and Kevin O'Leary in exchange for a 20% stake in his company.

Check out their amazing products at

In this episode we cover:

-How he accidentally tried out for Shark Tank

-The value he received from his Harvard MBA

-Most valuable lessons from bootstrapping his company, and more..


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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..


Get updates about new podcast episodes by subscribing to the newsletter at and e-mail questions to

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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