"You achieve your destiny when you block out the world saying no and hear your voice saying yes…". Kwame Alexander listens to his voice. He is a poet, educator, and a New York Times Best-selling author of 32 books, including The Crossover, the 2015 Newbery medal winner for "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children". Kwame has received a National Book Award Nominee for his novel Booked and has been the recipient of The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Prize, three NAACP Image Award Nominations, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. His appointment in 2018 as the NEA Read Across America Ambassador highlights Kwame’s belief in the power of poetry and literature to inspire, engage, and empower young people - a belief that serves as the guiding force behind the #AllBooksForAllKids initiative Kwame created in partnership with Follett.
"A ship is safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships are built for . . . " Going beyond his comfort zone has helped David Sable lead and succeed in life. David has become a global business leader and Senior Advisor at WPP, the world’s largest company dedicated to Creative Transformation. Formerly Global CEO of Y&R, David is a leading industry thought leader and early digital pioneer. He was selected as both a Top 20 Must-Know Global Influencer by LinkedIn, and as a Top 10 Most Generous Marketing Geniuses by Fast Company. Passionate about giving back, David serves on the boards of the Special Olympics, UNICEF, and UNCF, and in the commercial world is on the board of directors of American Eagle Outfitters. His inspirational new book What Would You Wish For? encourages children to be kind and realize their potential to make the world more peaceful.
"There is a brokenness, out of which comes the unbroken . . . " At the age of five, Becca Stevens experienced a series of life-changing events. Understanding that she was not broken transformed Becca's life and in turn has transformed thousands more. A leader, priest, healer and entrepreneur, Becca is the president of Thistle Farms, a multifaceted, international nonprofit that provides a sanctuary for survivors of prostitution, trafficking and addiction. The New York Times, PBS, ABC World News, NPR, CNN and the White House have all recognized Becca for her transcendent and transformative work.
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.”
Be yourself - Everyone else is already taken. How do you go from humble roots to success in all walks of life? Be true to yourself no matter how intimidating the surroundings and always be willing to expand your world and your reach. Joe O'Donnell grew up in a tough, blue collar town and went on to graduate from Harvard College and Harvard Business School. O’Donnell has become one of Harvard's most devoted and inspiring leaders. He has been recognized as one of the most influential people in Boston. O'Donnell founded the Boston Culinary Group and is owner of Allied Advertising Agency. Of his many philanthropic efforts, the one that is closest to his heart is the Joey Fund, which he and his wife Kathy started to honor the memory of their son Joey who died at the age of 12 from cystic fibrosis.
A simple promise that changed the world. After a promise to her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer, Nancy Brinker established Susan G. Komen for the Cure and has pioneered cause marketing, allowing millions to participate in the fight against breast cancer through businesses that share Komen's commitment to end the disease. Susan G. Komen has raised over $3.2 billion to date for cutting edge sciences building community health programs. Brinker is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Promise Me: How a Sister's Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer. She served as the World Health Organization (WHO) Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control. Brinker was named Time magazine's, "100 Most Influential People" and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. She served as United States Ambassador to Hungary from September 2001 to 2003. She is a major funder of gay marriage initiatives and serves on the Advisory Board of the Harvey Milk Foundation.
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. He has been regularly featured by Ellen DeGeneres on The Ellen Show. Dorenbos reflects and shares several motivational life lessons in this episode including the power of forgiveness.
Merrill Debbs is an advocate for over 30 million people suffering from the growing disease of food allergies. She shares the empowering story of her son Oakley, and how his favorite pair of shoes has become an empowering beacon to lead people to mindfulness, awareness and action around the issue of food allergies. RedSneakers.org has gained national exposure and - most importantly - is saving lives.
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.”
When Jessica Darcy's youngest daughter Ella-Jane opened her eyes one morning, something had changed. The glasses she loved so much had grown too familiar. Why couldn’t she have something of her own creation? She wished for eyewear that would match her style and mood every single day. Jessica and Ella-Jane decided to create Funoogles to solve the problem and allow kids the ability to choose and interchange the color and style of their glasses. Inspired by their story, Lionsgate films reached out to Jessica to help with the marketing of the motion picture and best-selling book Wonder. In this episode, Jessica talks about her life lesson and the effect with kids as a way to express creativity, assert individuality and boost self-esteem.
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.
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 began her acting career at age 7 when she landed her first role as a spelling bee contestant on Bad Words and 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, Madison talks about peer pressure and the importance of one's actions.
“Pay now or pay later with interest” is the mindset Ginny Gilder needed to succeed as an Olympian, an owner of the Seattle Storm WNBA franchise, a three-time All-Ivy Champion rower, and writer of Course Correction. 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 championed the philosophy that women should enjoy equal access to competitive opportunities at every level – a company mission that harkens back to her work ushering in the post-Title IX era back in college.
After getting knocked down many times, entrepreneur Jeff Wald discovered the importance of "the will to get it done". Jeff is the Founder of Work Market, an enterprise software platform that enables companies to efficiently and compliantly, organize, manage and pay freelancers. Work Market was acquired by by ADP. Jeff has founded several other technology companies, including Spinback, a social sharing platform (eventually purchased by Salesforce.com). Jeff began his career in finance and venture capital. Jeff is the author of "The Birthday Rules" and the upcoming book "The End of Jobs: The Rise of the Agile Company and the On-Demand Worker”. He also is a regular writer in Huffington Post and Forbes and was named “One of the 100 Most Influential People’ in Staffing” by the Staffing Industry Analysts in 2017 & 2018.
Milica Zec is a film and virtual reality (VR) director, editor, and screenwriter. She 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 experiences inspired Milica's directorial debut with the VR short narrative piece Giant, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2016. Giant 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 work inlcudes Marina Abramovic Presents MACCOC.
Bryan Rafanelli was named one of the Top Wedding Planners in the U.S. by Harper’s Bazaar in 2016 and in Martha Stewart Weddings in 2015, one of the World’s Best Event Planners by Departures in 2014 and “Man of the Moment” by Town & Country. Bryan's sense of style and ability to transform clients’ visions into unforgettable celebrations has made him a go-to planner for the nation’s most exclusive and high-profile events. His company, Rafanelli Events, has been highlighted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, People, New York, CBSNews.com, VanityFair.com, NewYorker.com and more. Notably, Rafanelli and his team led the concept and design of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, as well as Allison Williams’ nuptials, many of President Obama’s White House State Dinners and events, as well as the White House holiday décor in 2015 and 2016. In this inspiring video, Rafanelli speaks of finding the right balance between the highs and lows in life.
Gianna Simone was not deterred by great challenges in her life, including many difficult years in the Foster Care system. She persevered and built a career in acting, with some of her credits including Star Trek Into Darkness, I Can Only Imagine, Garry Marshall’s last film 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. 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. In this episode, Gianna shares the life lesson that allowed her to persevere.
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 was President and CEO of Honeywell Transportation Systems and then served as President and COO for Intellectual Ventures (IV). At IV, Brown and her team established Global Good and Research, which is changing the game in global health and development. 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 episode, Brown reflects on being uncomfortable growing up and how she used that to find courage.
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. 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. In this episode, Christian discusses his life-changing experience that helped shaped a way of life in itself.
Wendy Federman is an eight-time Tony Award winning Broadway theater producer who’s numerous credits include the Tony Award winning shows The Band's Visit, Dear Evan Hansen, Angels in America, Hello Dolly!, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nigh-Time, All the Way and the revivals of Pippin and Hair among dozens of others. This fall on Broadway, Wendy is coproducing Network with Bryan Cranston, Lifespan of a Fact with Daniel Radcliffe, The Waverly Gallery with Elaine May and To Kill a Mockingbird with Jeff Daniels, and in London, a revival of Company with Patti LuPone. In addition, Wendy is an investor in Hamilton, Mean Girls, The Cher Show and The Book of Mormon UK. Wendy began her theatrical life intending to be a performer but when her father suddenly died, she gave up her theatrical dreams: following the motto, “family first,” to help run her father’s business. In this episode, Wendy shares an important lesson that she received from her father.
James Bromley is an entrepreneur who helped SwiftKey, an AI powered keyboard, to a successful acquisition by Microsoft in 2016. As Managing Director of Daily Mail Online, James 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.
Having grown up in Kenya, Vandana Harris learned at an early age the impact of affecting change for others. Vandana went on to build an impressive legal career that has spanned three continents. Recently, Vandana was recognized on the "Super Lawyer" list as one of the top attorneys in Washington. She 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. In this episode, Vandana discusses two important lessons she learned from her parents that has guided her life of purpose.
Eric Ways was recruited to the University of Notre Dame on full scholarship for Track and Field after graduating as a high school state champion in the 300m dash and 500m dash, ranking fourth and fifth in the United States, respectively. At Notre Dame, Eric has a school record in the 4x400 meter relay that he helped set as a freshman at the NCAA National Track and Field Championship. At 19, Eric was cast to star in his first feature film and graduated from Notre Dame with the "Department Chair's Prize" in Film, Television, and Theater. In this episode, Eric shares an obstacle and lesson we must all overcome.
An executive at the founding 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. Chip 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.