Derek Block: President & CEO, Touchstone Merchandise Group

November 14, 2018

Derek Block could give a TedTalk on the value of coaching. The discussion about this subject is something of importance to all ages. He talks about beginning to understand that when he was a Miami University varsity hockey player twenty years ago, and he has carried that lesson into present day. And not just for account coordinators but for the C-suite. This line is lasting for me – if leadership is so important, how can you not afford to give them a coach. Simple yet profound. I also enjoyed his thinking on the subject of learning and how maintaining culture and relevance keep him up at night.



P.J. O’Rourke: Author

November 7, 2018

P.J. O’Rourke has written nineteen books (including some New York Times bestsellers) and his most recent one, None Of My Business, is a must read. He explains money, banking, assets, liabilities and why he’s not rich and neither are you (there is always humor in everything he writes and says!). You can hear the passion of Miami in his voice throughout our conversation as he continues to give the school props. Plus, his stories about late professor David Frazier (giving him a D on a mid-term paper, turning his life around and creating a long-term bond) and Dr. Shriver are fantastic. He never knew that Dr. Shriver knew who he was, but he sure did. We even chuckle together about what technology meant to him as a blossoming writer – long hand, not even a typewriter and no spell check. We begin the conversation discussing what gives him inspiration in writing on subjects.



Mitch Barns: CEO, Nielsen

October 31, 2018

Mitch Barns was destined for success. Any college student willing to bike 45 miles from campus as a student to get to a job interview is clearly dedicated. A Business Administration major at Miami, Mitch has spent the past 22 years in 11 roles at Nielsen. Currently, he is the CEO and will retire from his position at the close of the year. Two subjects we brainstormed in the conversation of interest include tips for students coming out of school (always saying yes, focusing on the fundamentals and learning from mistakes) and the value of a mentee – mentor relationship. And I love that he worked at Montgomery Inn (best ribs in the world)!



Mike Fitzgerald: Partner, High Alpha

October 24, 2018

Mike Fitzgerald’s High Alpha business is fascinating. Not just the venture studio and Fund they have built, but the Sprint Week competitition where all employees compete against each other to determine what business the company should incubate. I love that. That is how you build internal culture. We spent quite a bit of time on the pod discussing how to formulate ideas and how to learn (I can never get enough of that subject). We also did some digging into the investment culture and the ratio of reviewing start-ups to actual investments. Anyone exploring this space will enjoy Mike’s perspective. His calculus story at Miami is a good one and sent him down a path of communications (which he says is a blessing and helped him into a sales-oriented path). We start with a conversation about the city of Indianapolis and Miami’s influence there.



Dr. Jim Bertz: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

October 17, 2018

What a memorable conversation I had with our next guest. It’s been more than sixty years since Dr. Jim Bertz graduated from Miami. That’s right, 60 years! His lifelong career has been in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, helping people around the world with conditions they would not have had the resources to address otherwise. But that is just the beginning for Jim. Our conversation winds us through his incredible career, and he shares some of his philosophies on what it takes to be a good doctor and a good person. Wait until you hear about his first job interview at Miami with the CIA! My favorite life lesson he shared on the call was doing things for people who cannot pay you back. Let that soak in for a minute and you will get a sense of what type of person Jim is.



Josh Dahn: Head of School, Ad Astra School

October 10, 2018

Josh Dahn and his co-founder, Elon Musk, are out to disrupt the way we teach our children, and as a result, how they learn. In today’s pod, Josh walks through the reasons why change is needed and what they are doing differently. The art dealer sample lesson for elementary school kids that he explains is simply fascinating. The practical aspect of learning is very clear in this venture. The school they have created, Ad Astra (in Latin it means To The Stars) is located on the Space X campus in Los Angeles. Even if the entire model doesn’t work for all, some teaching through real life scenarios could benefit many. 



Bill Hemmer: Anchor, Fox News

October 3, 2018

Fox News Channel journalist and host of America’s Newsroom (and former CNN host) Bill Hemmer joins the pod today and shares insight on the importance of being curious to keep his mind fresh and to constantly learn. We spend time discussing the word trust in today’s challenged times – for all of us, and all corporations, not just the media. You can hear the passion in his voice when we talk about his time in Luxembourg with Miami. An absolute life-changer for him, and he is heading back in a few weeks to join up with Lux alumni and current Miami students. The discussion also digs into who has given him the most inspiration and some solid tips for students coming into the work force. We begin the discussion talking about the time he was embedded with the U.S. Marines for several months in the Middle East.



Chip Chinery: Actor, Stand Up Comedian

September 26, 2018

I’ve been watching this week’s guest perform for almost 30 years – first, when he would return as an alum and do stand-up at Balcony (a bar that is no longer in Oxford) and now, on countless sitcoms and movies. Chip Chinery has appeared in, among many others, Seinfeld, Friends, 3rd Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Family Guy, and most recently the movie Battle of the Sexes (and countless TV commercials). In the pod Chip talks about how creating a day-in-the-life documentary of his senior year led to his first job out of college at a news station, and the importance of friendship - as it was a Miami fraternity brothers father who helped him land his next job with a bank (which paid for his stand-up touring). Chip also has some great stories that give insight into the world of a working actor in Los Angeles, from finding out the day before about important auditions, to attending a movie premier only to learn you’ve been cut out of the film (it’s an epic tale). Make sure you stay until the end to hear about his on-set conversation with award-winning actress Emma Stone and the Miami connection they have together.  


One highlight from Chinery’s career

  • Got the opportunity to work with Donald Sutherland and Clint Eastwood in Space Cowboys.
  • Ultimately got cut out of the movie, but was surreal in acting with Donald Sutherland.

Didn’t find out he was cut until he was watching it at the premiere

  • Invited to the screening and realized at the end his scene was cut.
  • Got a letter in the mail the next day letting him know they cut the scene out.

Sometimes you find out the night before or the day of that you have an audition

  • In TV shows and movies, it’s quite normal and not uncommon for this to happen.

Why Miami

  • Chinery had first cousins that went to Miami and he visited them when he was younger.
  • Thought the idea of college was so cool and fell in love with the campus.

Always was interested in comedy.

  • Started doing stand up when he was 16 and continued this through his high school and college days.

Realized he didn’t want to do business after a 8:00am M-F Calculus class.

  • Originally wanted to take mass communications, but his mom wanted him to go to the business school.
  • Realized quickly he didn’t want to do business after the 8:00am calculus class.
  • Decided to become psychology major.

After graduating Miami.

  • Always been interested in video and TV and stand up.
  • Had done some video projects for the Channel 9 News in Cincinnati and gave his boss a call asking if there were any open positions.
  • His boss offered him a job as a cameraman.
  • Left Channel 9 to become a PR director of a bank.

Keep your friend’s parents in mind for employment.

  • Got to be the PR director of a bank because he sent out letters to parents of his frat to buy this year in the life video for his fraternity.
  • CEO of the bank reached out to him (who was a parent of his fraternity brother) and said he might have a job for him.

Transitioning into stand up.

  • When Chinery got offered the job in CT, he wanted to make sure he could do stand up there.
  • A mutual friend connected him with a stand up guy in the area.
  • Chinery was the PR director for 8 months, but realized it wasn’t right for him.
  • Chinery’s boss told him he should go do stand up full-time.

Chip’ s Money Tip’s Blog (

  • Chinery felt he had some common sense ideas for money tips, so he started a blog to help people.

Emma Stone’s parents went to Miami University (and her aunt).

  • Chinery worked with Emma Stone on Battle of the Sexes.
  • Found out her folks are from Columbus and went to Miami and her family graduated from Miami.
  • Chinery realized he knew her aunt Karen.

Next iconic actor he wants to work with:

  • Christopher Guest.



Stuart Frankel: Founder & CEO, Narrative Science

September 19, 2018

Focus and listen. It’s what I had to do after my conversation with Stuart. I went back to the beginning of it, listened and learned. He is not only a great storyteller but a teacher too. Stuart is the Founder and CEO of Narrative Science, a company that interprets millions of data sources and transforms it into insightful, natural language narratives. His industry and brand are cutting edge and AI is certainly part of the now and the future. But just as important, I loved his vision of wanting to be “the somebody else,” the client that was being served, which led to an abrupt change in careers (the story is worth listening to). You will also appreciate and respect the business business opportunity he got from a CEO after seeing him (and really only him) on countless Saturdays in the office.


Podcast Notes:

Stuart’s career from Miami

  • Accounting major from Miami and started working for PwC.
  • Went to Vanderbilt Law School and was a corporate lawyer for three years.
  • Frankel got an opportunity with a client to work on a project that excited him.
  • After a couple months, Frankel got word that the project was canceled.
  • Took some time to figure out exactly what he wanted to do from there.

Coming into the office on a Saturday?

  • In office every Saturday 9am-3pm.
  • The only other person who would come in was the CEO.
  • If you work a little harder than the other person, this can give you a significant advantage over them.

Why Stuart got the promotion

  1. He was the youngest people there and the CEO thought that younger people would understand and adopt emerging tech and things better.
  2. He had been bugging him in the past 6 months about implementing new ideas.
  3. He was there and showed up even on the weekends and the CEO felt he could do this job

Take the risk.

  • When the project was canceled, he had the choice to go back and practice law or to discover another area of business he was interested in.
  • Frankel didn’t look at what the next three years would be, but he looked at what the next 30 years could be.

Working in AI (Artificial Intelligence), there’s always two sides...

  1. Creation of technologies: this is where a lot of work is being done by large companies (Google, Microsoft, etc), but also smaller companies.
  2. Market adoption: this is the harder step because it takes a lot for people to adopt and like the technology.

Always be in a learning mindset.

  • Read everything.
  • Listen to a lot of podcasts.
  • Surround yourself with people of very different backgrounds.
  • Learning doesn’t stop at 22.

Wil Haygood: Author, Tigerland

September 12, 2018

Pulitzer-nominated Wil Haygood has made a career out of telling some of the most interesting, if overlooked, stories in American Life. Most notably, he penned the story "A Butler Well Served by this Election" for The Washington Post which became the basis for the award-winning 2013 film "The Butler" and for Haygood’s New York Times’ best-selling book of the same name. His seventh book, TIGERLAND: 1968-1969, A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing, was just given to all Miami University freshman upon arrival into Oxford this August and thanks to Penguin Random House, weeks in advance of the actual book release. He addressed the incoming students at Miami’s convocation on August 24 and discussed the importance of race relations. The pod examines his writing success but also digs back into his childhood. Wil was the first person from his family to attend college, and he talks joyfully about knowing the moment he came onto campus that it was the only place he wanted to be. I was also fascinated with his description of his book writing process. You can pre-order the book (release date September 18, 2018) via AmazonWil_Haygood_-_Photo_-_9_12.jpg

Podcast Notes:

“When there’s unity, good things happen”

Where Haygood’s love of writing began.

  • A teacher told him he had a writing gift, when no one had said that before.
  • Decided to go to Miami with full intention of taking English literature courses.
  • Majored in urban planning with minor in English literature.

Why Haygood chose Miami.

  • No one in his family had gone to college and he knew it was going to be a tough challenge.
  • Went to his high school counselor's office and took a stack of pamphlets about colleges.
  • Immediately was attracted to Miami because of the the red brick and loveliness of the school grounds.
  • Told his counselor that he wanted to go to Miami and she told him that she didn’t think he could get into Miami.
  • He got offended by that which made him try harder to get into Miami.
  • Local high school teacher took him to visit the campus, six weeks before classes started.
  • Knew once he had seen the campus that he was happy he committed to Miami.

Growing up in Columbus was different than it is today.

  • Grew up on the north side of the city.
  • On the north side, the grade school and high school were all racially mixed.
  • His mother and him moved to the east of Columbus and the schools were segregated there.

It was difficult, but Haygood graduated.

  • He knew what was at stake and he knew he had to succeed for himself, his family, and to inspire others.
  • School was hard and he struggled, but he loved taking different courses.
  • He had some caring professors who he could tell wanted him to succeed and that made him work harder.
  • From there, he started to understand what a writing voice was and grew into his writing.

What gives him the inspiration to write each book

  • When he walks into bookstores and he wants to see a book about a certain subject matter, if he don’t see the book he says to himself that he’s going to write it.

Haygood’s writing process for Tigerland.

  • Started traveling to Columbus to find and talk to the athletes.
  • A lot of the athletes got emotional about sharing their story because they thought their stories had been forgotten about.
  • Interviewed around 125-150 people to understand more about the story.

Key takeaways from Tigerland.

  • Sports and sports figures have always brought the country together.
  • With race being a long overdue discussion right now, it’s important to look at where there are triumphs.
  • It’s a story that inspires people and exemplifies the best of the human spirit.

What’s next for Haygood.

  • Not totally there yet with the idea, but it’s going to have a focus about the world of movies

How “The Butler” came to life onscreen.

  • Wrote the story and it appeared on Washington Post.
  • That same night, he had eight phones calls from major Hollywood producers telling him they wanted to buy the rights to his book.
  • Once he sent the screenplay out, the story interested great actors to be casted in movie.

Wil Haygood’s book, Tigerland, comes out September 18th, you can pre-order Tigerland on Amazon.