Milica Zec is a film and virtual reality (VR) director, editor, and screenwriter. Milica grew up during the NATO bombing of Serbia, seeing the conflict destroy much of her country’s infrastructure. During this traumatic conflict, she decided to abandon her fear of death by learning the transformative power of acceptance and letting go. These true events and experience in war-torn Serbia inspired Milica's directorial debut in the VR medium with a short narrative piece called Giant, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2016. Giant has been lauded as a seminal expression of the potential of VR as a storytelling vehicle, and has been featured in numerous press outlets including LA Times, The Guardian, and The Verge as one of the top VR experiences. Last year, Milica debuted her second VR film Tree (Sundance 2017) which takes the viewer through the immersive and empathetic experience growing as a tree in the rainforest. Other notable highlights of Milica’s work include nine years of collaboration with performance artist Marina Abramovic, and directing the short film Marina Abramovic Presents MACCOC (Venice Biennale 2011) and Christina (Cannes Film Festival 2012). In 2016, Milica was awarded a grant from The Kate Spade and Company Foundation for her entrepreneurship and investigation of new ideas in the arts, business, and public service.
Jon Dorenbos spent 14 seasons in the National Football League, including 11 seasons with the 2017 Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. He became the longest tenured player with the Eagles and made 2 Pro Bowls. His NFL career ended in 2017 due to a life-threatening heart condition. Dorenbos grew up in Woodinville, Washington. After a tragedy struck his family at the age of 12, Dorenbos turned to magic as an escape during a time of mourning. Last year, Dorenbos finished 3rd in the Finals of America’s Got Talent. Currently, his inspirational story is being produced into a theatrical movie. Dorenbos has become a motivational performer who reflects on several lessons in life including the power of forgiveness.
Madison Hu is an actor and role model to millions of kids and teens across the world. She is known for playing the lead role Frankie on the popular Disney Channel series Bizaardvark and for her previous recurring role as Marci on the Disney Channel series Best Friends Whenever. Madison grew up in Los Angeles and is the first person in her family who was born in the United States. Madison began her acting career at age 7 when she landed her first role as a spelling bee contestant on Bad Words. She then went on to showcase her comedy abilities in several other television shows including The Goldbergs. She volunteers and works with No Kid Hungry in helping children get enough to eat so they can be happy and successful in school and in their lives. In this episode of The Lesson, Madison talks about peer pressure and the importance of one's actions.
Known as “The Shark” for his aggressive play on the golf course, Greg Norman was a natural on the links and entered his first pro tournament after only five years of picking up the sport. During the ‘80s and ‘90s, Norman won 91 international tournaments, 20 PGA Tour tournaments, and 2 major Open Championships. But, it wasn’t always as easy as his record would have you believe. After losing a six-shot lead in the Masters Tournament, he learned a valuable lesson. In this video, Norman explains how he changed “A negative situation into a positive one.”
“Pay now or pay later with interest.” Ginny Gilder is an Olympian, an owner of a WNBA franchise, and a three-time All-Ivy Champion rower. Despite these successes, Ginny was cut from teams more times than she can count and was told repeatedly that she was too small to make it. But she learned to confront challenges and naysayers head on – it’s only by addressing challenges can they be overcome. Ginny has started several businesses and non-profit ventures. She and her partners became owners in the WNBA's Seattle Storm - a company dedicated to the philosophy that women should enjoy equal access to competitive opportunities at every level – a company mission that harkens back to Ginny’s work ushering in the post-Title IX era back in her college days. More of Ginny's remarkable story of resilience can be found in her memoir Course Correction, which The Boys in the Boat author Daniel James Brown raved that it was about rowing and so much more.
Gianna Simone is an exemplary role model for kids, teenagers, young adults, and young professionals who seek inspiration to go out and be positive change agents in the world. Not deterred by great challenges in her life, Gianna persevered and found strength in the acting profession. She has been in some of Hollywood’s biggest successes, including Star Trek Into Darkness, I Can Only Imagine, Garry Marshall's Mother's Day, and Unbroken: Path To Redemption. But Gianna's life goal is to bring hope, healing and growth opportunities to individuals broken by abuse and neglect throughout the world. She serves as a mentor for a level 12 residential facility in the Los Angeles area, Maryvale, and also serves as a board member of The Plantrician Project where physicians and healthcare practitioners are educated, empowered, and equipped with knowledge about the indisputable benefits of plant-based nutrition. Gianna mentors youth in foster homes, works to stop the scourge of sex trafficking has spoken at the United Nations on behalf of her foundation, which provides scholarships to Rwandan survivors of the 1994 genocide.
Earl Benjamin was born and raised in the Virgin Islands where he says there was 1 movie theater. He moved to New York where he studied and worked in journalism until a friend introduced him to SoulCycle. He soon discovered his true passion in helping people uncover their strongest selves and hasn’t looked back since! He creates an adventurous class with meaningful experience. Today, he is one of the top instructors at SoulCycle and credits his mom for his inspiration and advice of starting small and building. Benjamin lives by a mantra of “Dream. Do. Repeat.” and in this interview speaks of the importance of failing.
Christian Hoff won a Tony Award for his performance as Tommy DeVito in Broadway’s Jersey Boys. His entertainment career spans over four decades including an early start as the voice of Hanna-Barbera’s Richie Rich and on to surpassing the World Record for Most Character Voices in an Audio Book. Hoff has also recorded two Grammy winning original cast albums for The Who’s Tommy and Jersey Boys. He’s a founding member of the musical group The Midtown Men - Stars from Broadway’s Original Jersey Boys. Currently on his eighth consecutive world tour, he has forged a new artist’s paradigm, with crossover into the concert and symphony worlds. Sharing time and talent in service to others guides all of Hoff’s business and philanthropic work. With a personal call to action, his passion for cancer care and survivorship inspires him as a Board Member for The V Wine Celebration which has raised nearly 90 Million dollars for innovative cancer research for The V Foundation. Hoff’s life lesson has become a way of life in itself, a mix of focus and flexibility helping him face the challenge and rise to the occasion.
James Bromley is a top entrepreneur and a co-founder of Katalyst Fitness. Previously Bromley helped SwiftKey, an AI powered keyboard to a successful acquisition by Microsoft in 2016. As Managing Director of Daily Mail Online, he was also one of the creators of what is now the world’s largest online newspaper. From an early age, curiosity has always been a key driver in Bromley’s success. He enjoys building teams of awesome individuals to create product that users love. In this video, Bromley discusses a very important lesson he learned during his youth about accountability of your actions even when things aren't going well.
Adriane Brown was eight years old in 1966, when she and her brother integrated a previously all-white school in Virginia. By sixth grade, she was class president. She’s been a leader ever since. Brown has been honored with numerous awards including MIT recognizing her with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award and STEMconnector naming her one of 100 Women Leaders in STEM. Brown served as President and COO for Intellectual Ventures (IV). During her tenure at IV, the team delivered more than $3B in revenue and established Global Good and Research, which is changing the game in global health and development. Before joining IV, Brown served as president and CEO of Honeywell Transportation Systems. Throughout her career, Brown has served as a mentor and inspiration to girls and young women, encouraging them to pursue science, technology, and engineering. In this inspirational video, Brown reflects on being uncomfortable growing up and how she used that to find courage.
John Carney’s career in football spanned four decades, which is tied for the longest by an NFL player. He played college football at Notre Dame and was named to Notre Dame's all-time team by Sports Illustrated. Carney played 11 seasons with the San Diego Chargers, earned his first Pro Bowl selection, and remains the Chargers' all-time leading scorer. He went on to win a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints in 2010. Prior to his success, Carney experienced several setbacks in his career. Watch how he explains the lessons that taught him how to recognize these moments as, “A roadblock, stepping stone, or hurdle.”
Vandana Harris' legal career has spanned three continents and includes substantive management, private equity, M&A and cross-boarder experience. Recently, she was recognized on the "Super Lawyer" list as one of the top attorneys in Washington. Having grown up in Kenya, Harris has a passion for impact investing and philanthropic causes that benefit developing and emerging markets, with a particular focus on causes surrounding women, children and wildlife. She is on the board of the Nature Conservancy's Washington Chapter and an active member of the Boys & Girls Club of King County. The secret to her success, she says, comes from being tenacious in the face of the unknown and learning the impact of affecting change for others.
Eric Ways was recruited to the University of Notre Dame on full scholarship for Track and Field after graduating from Woodberry Forest School in Virginia as a state champion with his times in the 300m dash and 500m dash ranking fourth and fifth in the United States, respectively. At Notre Dame, Ways has a school record in the 4x400 meter relay that he help set as a freshman at the NCAA National Track and Field Championship. At 19, he was cast to star in his first feature film and now graduating from Notre Dame with the "Department Chair's Prize" in Film, Television, and Theater. Ways also narrated the commercial for Notre Dame's "Boldly ND" fundraising campaign and he will be starring in a feature film in the Berlin Around International Film Festival in December.
As one of the founding executives of Walden Media, Chip Flaherty has earned both commercial and critical success. Over the past 17 years, Walden Media has produced more than 30 films including The Chronicles of Narnia, The Giver, and Charlotte’s Web. Flaherty was instrumental in extending the Walden brand into the publishing world, focusing primarily on children's literature. The secret to his success, he says “Comes from faith in the unseen” – a lesson he learned at a young age from a public school teacher who was trying to keep her students engaged during a field trip.