The keys to the doors that you need open are in other peoples’ pockets. It’s up to you to build the relationships needed to open the doors.
– Michael Roderick

On the chat with me today is Michael Roderick – the big fish behind Small Pond Enterprises. Michael is a former English teacher turned Broadway producer and now heads his own consulting firm. You’re probably wondering just how those dots connected and thats what we talk about on the show.

 We meander quite a bit in this conversation, especially about how to be a big fish in a small pond.

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On this Coffee Chat:
  • Why you need a mentor
  • How to choose a mentor
  • Why you should be a small fish in a BIG POND
  • How Linchpin by Seth Godin inspired Michael to take the leap and have greater purpose in life
  • The need to have a sense of agency
  • How to find out what people will pay for
  • Build the net before you leap
  • Michael gives a shoutout to his mentor @KenDavenport, Broadway producer
  • Dr. Robert Cialdini’s Influence
  • Why we say YES to things: “ Weapons of Influence”
  • Don’t just choose one mentor
  • Build a team of mentors like you would cast a Broadway show
  • How a networking event can become a scavenger hunt
  • Should you make your meet-up invite only?

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Steve Jobs thought BIG. Real Big. He scoffed at the idea of doing market research when starting out Apple because he wanted to invent something so brand new that people didn’t even know they would need it so badly.

And whether or not you’re a fan of Apple products, Job’s envisioning couldn’t be more spot on.

Add his intense study of zen meditation, and his barefoot excursions to India, along with LSD trips, and Jobs had more than enough fuel to accelerate his clever thinking. He thought BIG PICTURE.

I reached out to a few guests I’ve had on The Traveling Cup to ask them this question:

How do you think BIG?

3 Ways to Think BIG Picture (w/o Taking LSD)

“As a species, I don’t see limits as our issue. What I see as our issue is are we on the right growing edge?”

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On the call with me today is Ali Alborzi. I first met Ali at the Omega Institute for a conference called “The Next Conversation” which focused on what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman in the world today.

Speakers like Diana Nyad and Ted Turner joined us in the conversation and I got to learn a lot about mindfulness, meditation, and living fully from Ali Alborzi.

Ali and his wife, Josie Maran (a former Maybelline cover girl), run Josie Maran Cosmetics with the aim to empower women throughout the world. Ali is a student of The Empowerment Institute which he references several times throughout the interview. David Gershon and Gail Straub have worked on this program for over thirty years and call it “a comprehensive blueprint for designing transformative social innovations and large-scale societal change.” 

Make sure to check out Imagine: the movement created by Ali and Josie to change the game around women’s empowerment in the developing world. 

On this coffee chat:

  • Tips to find your growing edge 
  • How to itemize and get clear on your goals
  • How business life and personal life have to be one in the same
  • The law of attraction
  • Shoutout to Jean Kilbourne
  • Staying mindful at work
  • How the Iranian Cultural Revolution of 1979 forced a dramatic shift in Ali’s future

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This guest blog post comes from Lindsey Caplan, a consultant and organizational psychologist in San Francisco. Her work has been featured at Dreamworks Animation and McKinsey & Co. along with Salesforce. In other words, she’s pretty awesome. Join her on stage and read on as she shares her journey into purpose.

Once Upon a Time

There comes a moment when you may realize, as I did several years ago, that try as we might, we can’t script our lives.

As a former screenwriter, this realization came as a bit of a disappointment. I had been scripting my life since I was 12, and I thought I was pretty great at it. Dream after dream, goal after goal, lined up, knocked out one by one by one.

In my script, I’d be a successful comedy writer, staffed on a show by age 25 and successfully building my life in Los Angeles for years to come.

But 15 months into my tenure in Los Angeles I found myself sitting by the pool reading “What Should I Do With My Life”?. Turns out, you can’t script happiness.

“A lot of people would love to work for themselves, sure. Yet for whatever reason, they’re unable to either because of certain circumstances or because they’re afraid to take the leap.”

Lauren Bowling joins us on the coffee chat on purpose today. Lauren is a personal finance blogger and millennial home buyer, sass queen, puppy-lover and cola addict. She is the genius behind the website L Bee and The Money Tree.

Every year around the fall season, I typically do two things:

1. I go apple picking and drink lots of apple cider

2. I think about buying a home.

I haven’t bought a home yet and am not sure when I will, but my conversation with Lauren got me thinking a whole lot more about how to best use my money along with some solid advice on why I should buy a home.

I forgot who it was who said it and I think it was Jay-z, Einstein or Tony Robbins or perhaps it was all three: having money allows a person to do tremendous good in the world. In fact, it’s coming back to me. Jay-Z said, “I can’t help the poor when I’m poor.” Now, I don’t completely agree with that. There are plenty of people who do great things with little money, but having money allows a person to do more good (if he chooses to do so with his money which he should). 

Which is why I’m happy to have Lauren on the show. She helps the many millennials who have found themselves with heaps of debt, mostly from college loans, and helps them get back on track with their spending.

Money is a tough topic to talk about in many circles, and in the social change world it’s even harder. When a for-purpose business gets launched, the world tends to put a microscope on it and evaluate just how “for purpose” it really is. The same goes for non-profits. Ironically, regular old businesses continue to do what they want with less public criticism. 

On this coffee chat on purpose:

  • Confessions of a shopaholic
  • How to grow out of debt with a side hustle
  • Tips for growing your money tree
  • Lauren’s thoughts on what streams of income you should have
  • Why real estate is still a good investment
  • Tips for millennial home buyers 

Appreciate The Traveling Cup? Please consider sharing the podcast with a friend and leaving a rating over at iTunes. 

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Mario Armstrong joins us on the coffee chat today to share his story. I first met Mario back at the Digital Diversity Conference in the New York Times building and have been a fan of his work for a LONG time. He recently launched the #NeverSettleClub which is a flux capacitor for motivation. If you don’t like to settle and have ambition like Steve Jobs, it’s the place for you. 

You’ll recognize Mario as the tech genius who is often on The Today Show, especially around the holiday season. He’s a super tech geek that has built a super impressive brand for himself. What I think is most interesting about Mario’s work is that he is a crossover between traditional mass media like The Today Show and individual media channels like Youtube. He’s incredibly down-to-earth, kind and humble and I hope you get as much out of this interview as I did.

Thanks for joining me!

(click to listen here)

On this coffee chat on purpose:

  • Mario gives a shout out to
  • “Meditation overall has changed my life” – says Mario
  • How Mario uses the Pomodoro Technique
  • Using Rainmaker to build a membership site
  • What it means to rule #NeverSettle
  • How Mario created #NeverSettleClub

Appreciate The Traveling Cup? Please consider sharing the podcast with a friend and leaving a rating over at iTunes. 

P.S. Are you on the mailing list

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It’s often easy to look at the past and see how leaders pushed through fear. But, in the present, it can be painfully difficult to push through fear when it’s so much easier to sit comfortably. Not take a leap of faith. Not start an idea. Not question a boss.

Enter the linchpin — a term that Seth Godin defines as a person who disrupts and pushes through fear to be the change-maker.

I recently sat down with Seth to talk about pushing through fear to reach a new creative potential. His tips will help you continue to be remarkable and fly high without fear of having your wings melt.

Below are a few highlights from the interview, but first, my favorite takeaway line. Being nervous is actually a good sign, says Seth: “If you’re not nervous, you’re not doing hard enough work.”

There’s an element of awkward in a face-to-face conversation with someone new: direct eye contact that lasts a bit too long, the smell of coffee breath, and the tango of talking points that move the conversation forward.

It’s far too easy to skip the human interaction and go on to the next “like” or reply to a new tweet. Unfollow and move on. Shift to a new conversation instead of digging deep and learning about the other person. I’m there with you, scrolling through my Facebook timeline and enjoying the random conversations between friends on different continents. A sucker for click-bait. The thing is, more and more people spend a large chunk of their time engaged in the digital world when a meaningful and authentic conversation — one that builds a trusting relationship — lies outside the screen of a smartphone.

Three Tips from the Greats on How to Build Meaningful Conversation

Having a meaningful and authentic conversation has been a struggle since we descended from trees whether it’s to find a soulmate or the next cocktail networking party. Here are just three tips from the greats:

“An image that arises on hearing mere words without reality (as its basis) is verbal delusion.” – Sri Swami Satchidananda

So, I talk a lot about goal setting and positive affirmations on The Traveling Cup. It’s no secret (because that’s a lie), but there is power in speaking and writing down the future you want.

That’s why creating a photo board and pasting it up on a wall along with writing down a positive affirmation every morning is part of the life plan.

Top performers in the world do this all the time. Surgeons, athletes… you name it. The difference, though, for these top performers is that they see every step. They don’t just see the finish line sprint. They see the journey, not just the destination.

Macro to Micro

Instead of just speaking, thinking, or writing down an affirmation, there needs to be specific action taken to bring it into… well, reality.

In the book The Secret, the theory goes that if you think positive affirmations and frame your thinking to be optimistic and positive, then the universe will align to bring you said reality. Okay — that sounds like fun, but there’s more to The Law of Attraction than that.

If I think “I am building muscle and cutting fat to 12 percent” yet I’m sitting on a couch and eating chips and guacamole (which are totally delicious), then this positive affirmation will be as substantial as a cloud. It will wisp away with the very next bite.

That’s where the power of action comes in. There needs to be specific action taken to bring about said goal. If one of my goals is to get to a certain weight or body-fat percentage so that I can be a healthier and happier person so that I can do more and have more impact in my life, then there needs to be specific action taken to make it happen. That means going to the gym, not buying unhealthy food, and having part of my morning ritual include a healthy start.

Millennials will remember a popular saying in middle school: “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” I’m not really sure where they came from. Maybe TLC or Naughty By Nature, but the point is that taking action is harder than words.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
– Steve Jobs

You got up every morning…went to school…got straight As…went to a great college….got a 4.0…landed a great job…and there’s still a little voice inside that says, “Are you living up to your potential?”

Trust me. We’ve all been there. And before things start sounding too Sunday-morning infomercial, let me say you’re not alone.

Truth is, most people go through school never taking a course that asked them about their passions and taught them how to reflect — how to ask the meaningful introspective questions that spark the inner drive.

In fact, Pete Herr shares 10 Things We Should Teach You in High School, But Usually Don’t on this interview.

It’s okay to keep searching

Traditional public schooling isn’t there to help you find your purpose. It’s actually there to help build factory workers, but the truth is…the world doesn’t need as many factory workers. Or left-brain number crunchers. Just ask Daniel Pink: “The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind.”

It needs thinkers, doers, changemakers, conceptualizers, creatives… it needs YOU.

One purpose, two purpose, three purpose, four… (or more)