Ella Saltmarshe Interviews Robin Zander about Daily Habits, Intuition and Being “Plural”


“Intuition is a learned skill that can start with the body.” – Robin Zander

In this episode Ella Saltmarshe hijacks the Robin Zander Show and interviews me. If you missed it, in a previous episode of the Show Ella was my guest and we discussed learning and how Ella manages multiple careers. Here, Ella has turned the tables and asks me questions about what it means to learn things deeply, use fear as a compass, and record what we learn.

The Power of The Polymath with Ella Saltmarshe


Jack of all trades,
Maser of none.
Of’ times better,
Than a master of one.

Ella Saltmarshe (@saltsea) is a polymath. I came to be familiar with her work when a friend sent me Ella’s TEDx talk “All Power to the Polymaths.”

All of Ella’s efforts revolve around two major themes: social change and story. She explains what each of these mean in our interview. But embedded throughout Ella’s work is willingness to go out on a limb to learn something new. She is currently writing for a soap opera hospital drama (never before haven’t written a soap opera), coalition building around climate change, presenting from stage, and writing a children’s book. And that’s just what she’s working on this month!

Ella speaks eloquently about the utility of not just being the master of a single, exclusive discipline. She describes what it takes to excel in multiple domains and what we can all learn from those who forge “plural” careers. I hope you enjoy this interview with Ella Saltmarshe.

Let Ella know what you think of our interview on Twitter, Instagram, or on her About.me page.

If you enjoyed this episode of the Robin Zander Show, stay up to date with goings-on and get weekly tactics via the newsletter.

Click Here to Sign-Up

Derek Sivers: Never Stop Learning


Derek Sivers is probably best know as the founder of CD Baby, a company serving independent musicians which sold to charity for 22 million dollars. But the thing that makes Derek notable is his lifelong drive to learn, or in his words, personal improvement. Prior to founding CD Baby Derek trained him self obsessively for 15 years to become a professional musician, and since selling his company to charity he taught himself to become a speaker and “thought leader.” These days, Derek is a citizen of the world, currently living in New Zealand, and studying level human and software development languages.

The Autism Show Podcast by Catherine Pascuas

Autism is a topic near and dear to my heart. Though I haven’t discussed on the podcast to date, for many years I ran Move Autism, a consulting company working with children with autism and their families around the world.

In November 2014, I was interviewed by the host of the Autism Show podcast Catherine Pascuas (@edcautism). Here, we turn the tables and discuss Catherine’s podcast The Autism Show, her origin story, and more.

Entrepreneur on Fire John Lee Dumas shares his Mistakes and Motivation

John Lee Dumas_Fire_1200_675

This interview is a fast-paced conversation with the host of the award-winning podcast Entrepreneur on Fire. I haven’t had a lot of my interviews with famous entrepreneur, but I wanted to bring John Lee Dumas on not just because he’s a successful businessman, but because he’s a successful teacher. Over the last three years of hosting a 7-day-a-week podcast John has taught thousands of aspiring entrepreneur and enabled others like him to find, pursue and monetize their passion.

BJ Fogg Turns the Tables: An Interview with Robin Zander


This episode of the Robin Zander Show is an experiment. I recently interviewed Stanford professor and innovator BJ Fogg, PhD, and we talked about the research and tactics of behavior change.

But if there’s one thing to be said about BJ Fogg, its that he’s constantly seeking to improve. After our interview he wrote me an email saying he’d come away from our conversation with a ton of questions of his own. He suggested he come onto the Robin Zander Show, turn the tables, and interview me!

I hope you enjoy this special episode of the Robin Zander Show, with your host BJ Fogg.

BJ Fogg, PhD on Persuasive Technology and Behavior Change

FoggRiverMugshot copy

BJ Fogg (@bjfogg) runs the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University.

He has an amazing track record of predicting trends in technology and in this interview he shares the story of teaching a class at Stanford in which Mike Krieger, the co-founder of Instagram, came up with the idea.

BJ and I discuss his boyhood. His father had a cellphone in his car in the 1960s and we speculate on what impact that had on BJ’s passion for the intersection between technology and behavior change.

One of the things I admire about BJ is his playfulness and compassion. He is deeply sensitive to what actually works to help people live better lives. I’ve been a fan of his TinyHabits program for years. Check it out at TinyHabits.com. In this interview, he explains what makes good habits and how to practice the habit of habit formation.

Sydney Skybetter on Dance, Technology, and Human Interfaces


“Well, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not an accountant, I’m not a chair….” -Sydney Skybetter

Like many of my favorite people, Sydney Skybetter (@sydneyskybetter) has a hard time describing what he does. In this amusing conversation, he describes the common themes between his work as a choreographer, consultant, and technologist.

How to Create a Viral Video with Karen X Cheng


Karen X Cheng (@karenxcheng) is probably best know as the girl in the viral internet video “Girl Learns to Dance in a Year” which has been viewed well over 5 million times. In 2013 Karen released a YouTube video showing her progression over a year of daily dance practice:

But this single video is far from the whole story. Before teaching herself to dance in a year, Karen changed careers after teaching herself graphic design. Her article on how she did remains Google’s #1 result for the query “How to become a designer.” And through her company GiveIt100, she went on to teach others how to take the little steps towards impossible goals. (Here are some of those success stories, which we discuss in the interview.)

Kim Nicol: Raise Your Game With Mindfulness And Meditation


Kim Nicol is a meditation teacher for Silicon Valley. When I think of somebody who can speak across boundaries, someone who is sensitive but also not afraid to hustle, Kim Nicol is among the first who comes to mind.

Teresa Gonczy: Why Kids Are The Future, Running Brick-and-Mortar Businesses, and More


Every couple days I receive a text message containing details about my wife’s unborn child. Now to be clear: I don’t have a wife and she isn’t pregnant. But I do subscribe to the free service Text4Baby, and get simple things to do each day that one might to support the longterm health of a young child.

Now, why is this relevant? Apart from being a great way to end a first date – “Oh look! I should tell my wife to eat more spinach because she might be craving leafy greens” – I do this because I’m fascinated by early childhood development, and the little things we can do to ensure that each person reaches his or her potential.

Joining me today, I have the woman responsible for telling me about Text4Baby, and fellow early-childhood educator Teresa Gonczy (@teresaeg).

Dara Blumenthal, PhD on Critical Theory, Public Toilet Spaces, and the Future of Work


My guest today is Dara Blumenthal (@thisisdara), a management consultant who did her PhD on the critical theory of public toilet spaces. If you’re like me, and totally confused but interested to learn what this means and how it came to be, stay tuned.

Dara reached out to me in the spring of 2015 because of the theme of the Stanford conference I was organizing, which was “Dance at Work.” If you don’t know, I’ve run Design for Dance at Stanford since 2014 as a place to bring together people thinking about behavior change and movement. Dara, with her backgrounds in a variety of performing arts, somatic training, a sociologist’s eye, saw an overlap between the theme of “Dance at Work” and her work at the company Undercurrent, which was a creative design and management consulting firm. I became enamored of Undercurrent, Dara’s research, and the question of how to do we apply skills from the creative professions elsewhere in business. (If these things sound interesting to you, too, we’re continuing to talk about them in this “Dance at Work” group.

This interview was the first time Dara and I had ever actually met in person. We explore Dara’s upbringing and how she was taught as a young girl to ask probing questions. We discuss how the combined study of somatics and the academic discipline of critical theory together led her to ask hundreds, if not thousands of people, to share their stories about public toilets. We examine how that led Dara to study of guilt, shame and humiliation, and how now Dara is part of a new organization which seeks to remove those, and increase collaboration and creativity, within large companies.

David Leventhal on Dance for PD® (Parkinson’s Disease), Overcoming Rejection, and Developing a Growth Mindset

David Leventhal

My guest today is David Leventhal. David is a former dancer with the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG), who now runs Dance for PD® (Parkinson’s Disease). Dance for PD® started as a single monthly class for people with Parkinson’s Disease in Brooklyn, NY, and now encompasses classes in over 100 cities around world and host of other activities.

David has a broad perspective on the learning process. He began his study of dance as a young man and we discuss what it was like to face repeated rejection before eventually becoming an apprentice with the MMDG. David tells compelling stories about repeatedly failing to meet the standards set in auditions. Note how David fostered the mindset necessary to deal with these very personal rejections. Even if you have no interest in dance training, there is a great deal to be learned from David about overcoming repeated failure and developing what Stanford University professor Carol Dweck has termed a growth mindset.

Natasha Tsakos on Performance Art, Disruption, and Creativity


“Tsakos is a talent of the next generation”
– Florida International Magazine

My guest this episode is Natasha Tsakos (@natashatsakos), TED speaker, recent graduate of Singularity University, and life-long performing and visual artist. Throughout this interview Natasha and I discuss what it means to be creative and to never stop exploring one’s own limits. Natasha has always been a performer, and describes using her imagination as an escape during her childhood. She graduated The New World School of the Arts in 2000, and has been performing on stages ever since. She has directed numerous one-woman shows, including this one on the TED stage in 2009:

Natasha has always had a rebellious streak. In college she needed to augment her academic arts education with street performance. Then, after graduating, she began self-funding her career through credit cards and creating art on any stage she could find, including one memorable show on the un-used stage of a strip-club on Miami Beach.

Vivienne Ming, PhD on Maximizing Human Potential


This episode of the Robin Zander Show is an interview with theoretical neuroscientist, technologist, and entrepreneur Vivienne Ming, PhD (@neuraltheory).

Vivienne was was named one of 10 Women to Watch in Tech in 2013 by Inc. Magazine and is the co-founder and Executive Chair of Socos, an educational start-up which applies cognitive modeling to deliver personalized recommendations to support learners.

When I first met Vivienne over tea in 2014 I was so excited by what Socos was doing that I volunteered to help. (I’ve since become director of operations at Socos.) In this interview we discuss the tools and philosophies by which Vivienne has shaped her life.

Vivienne is a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience pursuing her research in neuro-prosthetics. In her free time, Dr. Ming also explores augmented cognition using technology like Google Glass and has been developing a predictive model of diabetes to better manage blood glucose levels. She sits on the board of Our Family Coalition supporting LBGT families and speaks on issues of LGBT inclusion and gender in technology. Her work and research has received extensive media attention including the New York Times, NPR, Nature, O Magazine, Forbes, and The Atlantic.

Listen to the entire interview here:

Ryan Holiday on Practical Philosophy and Books to Live Your Life By


“Some lack the fickleness to live as they wish and just live as they have begun.”

– Seneca

This episode of the podcast features an interview with prominent strategist and writer Ryan Holiday (@ryanholiday). I became familiar with Ryan’s work when a friend recommended his reading list, which remains one of the few newsletters I’m consistently grateful to receive.

Beyond being a prolific reading (and recommender) of books, Ryan has published three books and consulted on media and marketing with best-selling authors and musicians. The Financial Times called Ryan’s first book Trust Me I’m Lying an “astonishing, disturbing book.” I have used ideas from his second book Growth Hacker Marketing in marketing my own books.

After dropping out of college at nineteen to apprentice under Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, Ryan went on to advise many bestselling authors and musicians. He served as director of marketing at American Apparel for many years, where his campaigns have been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube, and Google and written about in AdAge, the New York Times, and Fast Company.

I admire Ryan’s strategic thinking and application of  philosophy to solve practical life problems. In this interview we discuss how Ryan trained himself to become a media strategist. He has developed the marketing campaigns for best-selling authors including the controversial Tucker Max, Robert Green, Tim Ferriss, and Tony Robbins. This post by Tim Ferriss recounts some of the bigger marketing stunts Ryan did while he worked as Director of Marketing at American Apparel.

In the interview, we discuss Ryan’s most recent book The Obstacle is the Way and delve into the practical approaches to philosophy, and especially Stoics philosophy, that he lives his life by. I very much enjoy the no-nonsense approach with which Ryan tackles challenges.