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A Bit of Optimism

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The future is always bright…if you know where to look. Join me each week for A Bit of Optimism - I talk to inspiring people who teach me more about life, leadership and general interesting things.
118 Episodes
The thrills of pleasure-seeking don't last long before we need even more. And when the excitement isn't enough, what is? Scott Harrison's life as an elite nightclub promoter was an unending cycle of drinking, drugs, models, and fast cars. After ten years, his vices caught up with him, and a health scare forced him to reflect on his life. Scott felt decadent, wasteful, and morally bankrupt. He decided to completely reverse course. Scott spent the next 2 years in West Africa on board a nonprofit hospital ship, where he saw a level of human suffering that led him to his true calling. Today, solving the global water crisis is Scott's life's work, and he's built one of the most trusted nonprofits in the world to do just that. His organization charity: water has raised over $750 million, helping more than 17.4 million people access clean drinking water. Scott shares with me the painful road that led to his transformation and why living a life of service can be a path toward redemption. A Bit of Optimism   If you would like to help solve the global water crisis, visit:   For more on Scott, check out: his book ThirstSee for privacy information.
Great communicators aren't born that way. They're self-made. Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose new book, Supercommunicators, explores how some people have unlocked the secret language of connection. Charles and I discuss what makes these "supercommunicators" unique, why we need stories to convey ideas, and how being honest once saved a CIA recruiter his job. A Bit of Optimism. To learn more about Charles's work, check out: his book Supercommunicators charlesduhigg.comSee for privacy information.
In a divided society, idealists believe we can overcome our differences. Alexandra Hudson is one of those idealists. Disillusioned by the backstabbing she witnessed in federal government, she began to research how we can repair the divisions keeping us apart.  We discuss what being civil means in a dog-eat-dog culture and why building a more connected community can start on the front porch. A Bit of Optimism. To learn more about Alexandra and her work, check out: her book: The Soul of Civility alexandraohudson.comSee for privacy information.
When life gets tough, true friends ask for help. Christina Tosi is that kind of friend. She's someone I can trust with anything and someone I can cry with. She also happens to be a world-class pastry chef, a genius dessert maker, and the founder and CEO of Milk Bar.  We reflect on the art of asking for help and how sometimes all we need from a true friend is 8 minutes of their time. A Bit of Optimism. For more on Christina and her work, check out:   For more on the power of an 8-minute phone call, check out this New York Times article.   And, by the way, I wanted to share Christina's recipe for making an Ice Cream Loaf. It's magic.  You will need: 2 cups (1 pint) of softened ice cream 1 cup of self-rising flour 1 egg Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf pan and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the melty ice cream, self-rising flour, and egg. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick clean.  Enjoy.See for privacy information.
Awkwardness gets a bad rap, but the trait is often an indicator that someone is extraordinary.   Psychologist and author Ty Tashiro has spent a great deal of time studying (and living!) social awkwardness. He's fascinated by how the same traits that cause us social embarrassment can also drive exceptional accomplishment.  As a fellow awkward person myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with Ty about the advantages of being awkward, what the socially fluent can learn from awkward people, and the best way to navigate conversations in loud clubs. A Bit of Optimism. For more on Ty and his work check out:  His book: AWKWARD: The Science of Why We're Socially Awkward and Why That's Awesome.tytashiro.comSee for privacy information.
What makes humanity unique? Dr. Michael Muthukrishna is fascinated by why our species behaves the way it does. In his book, A Theory of Everyone, Michael seeks to answer some of the deepest questions humans have about ourselves and how our cultures came to be. Why do humans create culture? What do all our societies have in common? And how can this knowledge help us build a better future? A Bit of Optimism.In our conversation, Michael references a paper published in Science titled "The Church, intensive kinship, and global psychological variation." You can read it here.To learn more about Michael's work, check out:michael.muthukrishna.comSee for privacy information.
In the New Year, we all aspire to become better versions of ourselves. But how do we change our behavior so new habits actually stick? Well, James Clear is THE expert on habits. His book, Atomic Habits, is the #1 New York Times bestseller with over 15 million copies sold. Together, James and I break down his powerful approach to forming better habits, breaking the bad ones, and living the life we desire. A Bit of Optimism. To learn more about James and his work, check out: jamesclear.comSee for privacy information.
Lasting success requires innovation but how do we actually build teams that can keep innovation in their DNA? Jackie Reses is Silicon Valley royalty precisely because she knows how to hire, build, and lead the best teams for the best companies. Jackie was a senior executive at Yahoo!, Alibaba, and Square and now she is the founder and CEO of a new bank disrupting retail finance. We talked about what it takes to empower people to invent new things and how grit, paranoia, and excellence breed success. This is...A Bit of Optimism. For more on Jackie and her work check out: for privacy information.
Great comedians have the ability to point out some of the madness, ridiculousness, and nuance that exists in the world. Alex Edelman is already one of the greats.  His current show, "Just For Us," is a transformative experience for his audiences, as he regales them with his experience as an unwelcome interloper at a meeting for white supremacists.   Our conversation was just as enlightening. We discussed how imperfections are beautiful, how seeing humanity in others is the first step to peace, and if IHOP is good, evil, or something in-between.  This is...A Bit of Optimism.  For more on Alex and his work check out: for privacy information.
Drive can get you to peak performance.  But what happens when you enter the next chapter of your life?  Danica Patrick was one of the best drivers in the world, the only woman in a field perennially dominated by men.  But that was years ago. Now, she is finding meaning beyond wins, races, and results.  It turns out, the best part of drive is the journey.   This is...A Bit of Optimism.  For more on Danica and her work check out: for privacy information.
All business leaders want to make a lasting impact, but very few have the scale and tools to change the entire planet.   Doug McMillon has the scale and the tools. He is the CEO of Walmart and employs over 2 million people across the world. But it is Doug's commitment to leading Walmart based on its core values that makes him so important. So I sat down with him to talk about his 33-year career, in which he went from packing trucks in the loading bay to becoming the chief executive, to discuss the value of values and how Walmart can have an impact on the whole world. This is...A Bit of Optimism. For more on Doug and his work check out:   See for privacy information.
Authenticity is exceedingly rare. Yet Brian Grazer embodies it with an unparalleled zest and refreshing innocence.  Though Grazer might not be a household name, his tv shows and movies (like "A Beautiful Mind" and “Apollo 13”) have earned him 242 Emmy nominations and 47 Oscar nominations. He believes in the power of asking endless amounts of questions to shape stories that resonate on a deeply human level. Grazer is an unparalleled storyteller and offers a unique perspective on how to engage, question, and understand the world around us. This is…A Bit of Optimism.  For more on Brian and his work check out:  His new book: for privacy information.
When did we get so disconnected from the world around us? How can we find our way back? Aza Raskin thinks the answer might lie in humanity's greatest adversary - listening. As co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology and of the Earth Species Project, Aza and his team are using Artificial Intelligence to decode the language of animals, from whales to crows, while remaining dedicated to ensuring the accelerating rise of A.I. remains safe and responsibly handled. This is...A Bit of Optimism. For more on Aza and his work check out: for privacy information.
We have lost trust in almost everything.  Yat Siu has a clear vision for how we can solve our large-scale trust issues and enhance human coordination.  For every problem technology creates, technology also has a solution.  This is…A Bit of Optimism.  For more on Yat Siu and his work check out: for privacy information.
We used to care about beautiful architecture.  Luckily, Thomas Heatherwick still does. He is on a quest to make the world less boring. You may not know Thomas yet, but you know his work.  He's designed iconic buildings and experiences and he says our cities have become dreadfully unhuman and our lack of beauty is negatively impacting our physical and mental health.  He's a truly original thinker with great insights into how to innovate, create, and humanize. This is...A Bit of Optimism. For more on Thomas and his work check out:  His new book, Humanize: for privacy information.
High-performing teams require more than just a leader. Great teams come from great teammates.  Shane Battier won't be in the NBA Hall of Fame, but he was one of the greatest teammates to ever play professional basketball. He won back-to-back NBA Championships with the Miami Heat and was named the league's Teammate of the Year during their second championship run.  His insights into trust, discomfort, and "teammateship" are essential for teams -- and teammates -- of all types.  This is...A Bit of Optimism. See for privacy information.
When we want wisdom, we turn to people older than us. But there is a lot to be learned from younger generations too.Elizabeth English knows this. She’s the head of one of the most innovative schools in the country, The Archer School for Girls and has spent her career working with -- and learning from -- younger generations.We sat down to talk about: the problems facing parents today, why kids need and thrive from rules, boundary setting, phone addictions, and how her students make her hopeful for the future.This is...A Bit of Optimism.For more on Elizabeth and her work check out: for privacy information.
We are told from a young age to pursue love—romantic love, self-love, divine love. But how do you actually define love? And once you do, how do you find it?Cleo Wade is the right person to ask. She's a poet whose latest book is called “Remember Love: Words for Tender Times.” Our conversation about love led down many paths: we talked about appreciating pain, staying present, and the resurgence of poetry.This is... A Bit of Optimism.For more on Cleo and her work check out:her new book: for privacy information.
How do you run a thriving company that cares more about impact than about profit and margins?Karissa Bodnar is a genius CEO who dedicated herself to building a cause-based company. Thrive Causemetics started out of her one-bedroom apartment and now it’s a massively successful brand that has donated over $139 million of value to those in need.We sat down to talk about finding your purpose, leading younger generations, and so much more.  This is… A Bit of Optimism.For more on Karissa and her work check out: for privacy information.
How are you? It’s a question we get asked everyday, but we hardly ever answer it honestly.  When Diego Perez — also known under his penname, Yung Pueblo — started asking himself that question and answering honestly, his entire life changed.In this conversation, Diego opens up about his own struggles with addiction and shares hard-earned wisdom about conflict, spirituality, and so much more.This is...A Bit of Optimism.For more of Yung Pueblo's work check out: his new book out today The Way Forward for privacy information.
Comments (45)

megan castignoli

Replace awkward with autistic. Every fiber of this episode is screaming autism 😂 Sincerely, Late Diagnosed Autistic Woman

Jan 30th

Mr kibria


Jan 27th

Aakash Amanat

It's truly refreshing to come across a post like this that brings a touch of positivity to our online space. In a world that can sometimes feel overwhelming with negativity and challenges, taking a moment to focus on the brighter side of things can make a world of difference. Optimism doesn't mean ignoring the difficulties we face, but rather, it's about acknowledging them while also holding onto the belief that we have the capacity to overcome and grow from them. It's like a ray of sunlight breaking through the clouds after a storm, reminding us that better days are ahead.

Aug 21st


what a great episode!

Jun 3rd

Gol Naaz

really really moving

Jun 2nd

Abbas Foroozanfar

it was really interesting to hear about his success

May 2nd

Mahliam Bitaraf

I was wondering if I could get the transcript of your podcasts. It is very helpful to learn English language to me.

Feb 21st

Charles Packwood

To boldly go where no man has gone before...

Feb 19th

Sama Esm

I need transcription of every podcast.

Jan 3rd

Azam Ghasemi

It was really great . Thanks Ms.Francesca and dear Simon😘🍎

Nov 6th

Mário Fonseca

😍 wonderful

Oct 22nd

Sorin Solomon

Great talk! The researcher that can tell in first 5 minutes of watching a couple if they will stay togther or not is Prof. John M. Gottman, from Gottman Institute 😎

Sep 16th

mozhgan sabzehparvae

Amazing,🥲🥲🥲tears just stream down on my cheeks during the whole podcast

Aug 22nd

Althea Madrid

i just wish u have a daily channel like this where topics makes sense

Feb 22nd

Althea Madrid

can u make more.

Feb 22nd

Althea Madrid

i wish everyone can hear all your podcast cuz this change my life perspective. its a lot clearer now.

Feb 18th

Daniela Muller

Guest speaker Angela was interrupted profusely. She handled it gracefully. Please let your guests speak..

Dec 22nd


Amazing episode ! Especially, I loved the answer of what’s the difference between winning and losing. The answer might be one of the reasons of the sins of our times. What would you say ?

Dec 7th


15:10 amazing sentence about what the world needs

Oct 11th

Farinoosh emami


Jul 19th
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