Peter Merriman - A Humble Approach to Hospitality

Famous chefs don’t become known because of their humility. But as it turns out, their restaurants might. In this episode of the podcast, I spoke with renowned chef Peter Merriman about his unique approach to hospitality in his restaurants. Why is it that a person always feels welcome when they check-in with his hosts? How does Peter motivate his entire staff to entertain like they are “throwing a party every night,” prepare each and every dish like they are “cooking for their mom,” and consistently go above and beyond to “do the right thing” for every customer they meet?

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Dr. Hyla Cass - A Purposeful Approach to Functional Medicine

We go to the doctor with the goal of feeling better, so it should come as no surprise that conventional medicine is often aimed at helping us deal with symptoms, rather than identifying and addressing the underlying cause. Such an approach is all the more likely in an overwhelmed healthcare system where doctors are increasingly unable to spend the time required to identify and address the root issues behind many “chronic” conditions, especially those with no immediately apparent source.

In this episode of the podcast, I spoke with Dr. Hyla Cass about what has fueled her career-long desire to get to the bottom of what ails her patients, whether as a replacement for, or alongside more conventional treatments. As a renowned expert in functional medicine, Dr. Cass has written extensively about topics such as the nutritional supplementation of prescription drugs, alternative approaches to overcoming addiction, and even ways patients can avoid addiction to begin with by employing natural ways to elevate mood, battle stress, and increase energy.

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Discovering Your Seven Stories

What accomplishments are you most proud of? When you think of the "top stories" of your life - those where you felt most empowered, full of joy, or simply had a great time doing something you were really good at - which experiences rise to the top? More importantly, what specific attributes seem to be common to each of those stories?

On the heels of a couple deep philosophical episodes about finding “purpose,” I wanted to offer some concrete advice about the “process” someone might use to start figuring out what they want to be when they grow up. I’ve mentioned the “Seven Stories Exercise” in several past episodes and have promised to unpack that process at some point…at long last, here it is!

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Finding Meaning in Responsiblity

In this second part of a two-part special series I focus on the importance, and process, of finding meaning and purpose in life, as found in the book Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. Frankl explains how responsibility to oneself and others (and to what life is asking of you) is a vital counterpart to freedom, a concept echoed by many present-day authors, including notable thought leaders like Jordan Peterson and Jocko Wilink. If you only listen to one of these two episodes on Frankl’s book, this is the one to listen to for sure, because we talk and reflect on the second section of the book which is where Frankl goes into detail about the actual process of finding meaning in life.

My 15 year old son Joseph joined me for this second part of the series, and offers his generation’s unique perspective on this issue.

We definitely added a lot of our own thoughts to what Frankl wrote about this topic, so I hope you enjoy as we discuss:

  • Distinctions between Freud, Adler, and Frankl

  • The importance of the pursuit of meaning in general (the will to meaning)

  • How meaning is found in each and every moment

  • What it means to answering life’s questions for each of us - not just challenges, but gifts as well

  • If people aren’t motivated by money and power, then what does motivate them?

  • How smiling more can make you happier

  • Why is that men tend to have more issues with purpose and meaning?

  • What does Peterson mean when he echoes Frankl’s views on how our “rights” are only half of the conversation - what about the responsibilities that come with those rights?

  • What responsibilities might come with our rights as “freedom loving” Americans?

  • What country might gift the US a statue of responsibility?

  • Did Frankl in 1946 predict accurately that technological advancements in AI and robotics would lead to an increase in existential crises from a lack of meaning and purpose?

  • What does it mean when a person in the Christian faith says their purpose is found in God?

  • How spiritual disciplines fit into the daily practice of seeking purpose in faith

  • What does it mean that we find out who we are by discovering who we are not?

  • There’s no one particular abstract meaning of life - it is unique to each person

  • Our invitation for Jocko Wilink to come on the show and change Joseph’s mind

  • The three specific ways Frankl describes as paths to finding meaning

  • What can be done to turn the tide on the lack of responsibility in society - if anything


Episodes are also available on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts!


Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning

The TED Talk on smiling Joseph referred to

Herzberg’s 2 factor theory (Motivation/Hygiene) for what truly motivates people

The Statue of Responsibility prototype at UVU in Utah

Jordan Peterson’s Self-Authoring suite

Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Living: An Antidote to Chaos

The 4th Industrial Revolution: A Guardian article about whether a life lived with robots taking over our jobs is really worth living

The authentic manhood program, originally taught by Robert Lewis in 2005, where he described a crisis of masculinity due to an unclear idea of what it means to be a man today (and included rejecting passivity as part of the solution)

Benjamin Franklin’s exhortation to prayer

Jocko Wilink’s Extreme Ownership: How US Navy Seals Lead and Win

The great movie about the importance of outlook and attitude, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Viktor Frankl - Man's Search For Meaning

In this special episode of the podcast I wanted to respond to a listener request by offering some takeaways from the globally renowned book Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. I’ve mentioned this book in past episodes when discussing the importance of living a life of purpose with various guests, because at the end of the day Frankl’s message regarding the importance of finding purpose and meaning in life is core to the whole point of this podcast. This is not intended to be a summary by any means, and is certainly not a scholarly attempt to interpret what Frankl wrote in 1946 - but perhaps my amateur musings about such an amazing piece of literature will inspire you to get a copy this important book so you can see for yourself the conclusions that might be reached.

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Staying Safe on The Road

They say courtesy is not so common anymore - this seems to be especially true on the road. As I start to teach my son how to drive, I’ve been noticing that even some of the most experienced adult drivers are no longer driving in the kind of courteous and safe manner most likely to avoid both accidents and tickets. In this episode of the podcast I summarize a few principles about safe driving, and offer my insights as both a former police officer and attorney into some of the top ways to stay safer on the road, including how to avoid and deal with road rage. I hope you enjoy this episode about the purpose in the process of staying safe on the road!

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Bonus Episode: Finding Your Calling

Have you ever wondered if you have found your true calling? What even makes something a “calling” anyways? In this short “10-minute take-aways” bonus episode, we summarize a process that might be useful for you when considering these questions. What I like best about this particular process is that it also helps you identify the type of changes that might be needed to get yourself positioned into a new and more meaningful direction.

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Joe Villarreal - Stories From the Road

If you’re a life-long learner, you will undoubtedly create a lot of stories. The more careers, jobs, skills, and new circumstances you experience, the more people you will cross paths with. But, at the end of the day, who are those stories really for? My friend and fellow polymath Joe Villarreal joined me in this episode for a wide-ranging discussion about the importance of surrendering our own hopes and fears to experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from living a life in the eternal space we know only as “now”…and the importance of sharing what we experience in that space with others.

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Will Blackman - Breaking the Outer Man

In Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, author Richard Rohr builds on psychologist Carl Jung’s description of a process by which we let go of who we think we are supposed to be, and start to more accurately express our “true” selves. Rohr, a Franciscan Priest, adds a spiritual perspective to Jung’s framework of first half and second half life experiences, concluding that “Your True Self is who you objectively are from the beginning, in the mind and heart of God.” This is, of course, hardly a view unique to the Christian faith. As Rohr points out, Zen Buddhists have since long ago referred to the true self as “the face you had before you were born.”

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MacKenzie Price - Mentoring a Marriage

Mentoring can sometimes be a difficult process - especially when it comes to sensitive topics like marriage. How can we best help our friends when they come to us expressing marital conflict? How can we learn to benefit from that same process ourselves, the next time we face challenges in our own relationships? Whether you’re a man or a woman, married or single, you’ll want to listen to this episode about how to help your friends, and how to continually improve your own marriage, by focusing on what we ourselves can do (whether as husband or wife) to better meet the others’ needs.

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James Coleman - Living and Working Abroad

Have you ever thought about living abroad? It seems like every week I meet someone who is seriously considering it - or at least dreaming about the possibility. As so many “knowledge work” jobs become capable of getting done anywhere, and often on any schedule, that dream of living abroad can become a real option. But what does it actually look like to make that decision (and then do it)?

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Melanie Atha - Advocating for Peace (Part 1)

You’ve likely heard someone say that “the only people who ‘win’ in litigation are the attorneys.” While the right to go to court will always remain an important part of our civil justice system, if you’ve been involved in litigation yourself you may understand why “winning” doesn’t always provide a clear victory, for anyone involved. There’s no question litigation will continue to dictate the outcome for many difficult to resolve matters, but it’s important to know about the potential for other less adversarial ways of resolving disputes as well - especially when there’s more than just money at stake. In a collaborative approach to resolving disputes, the lawyers for each side sign an agreement promising they won’t represent the parties if the matter goes to court. The parties also pledge to pursue an open process with their lawyers (and sometimes other professionals acting as neutral experts) with the mutual desire to reach a resolution that brings true closure to the issues they are facing together. In this episode we’ll discuss how this process works, and why it often leads to transformational experiences for everyone involved.

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Jason Pierce - A Balanced Perspective on Youth Sports

American families spend $15.3 billion on youth sports activities, an amount that has literally doubled in the last 10 years. A family’s investment in youth athletics can often represent as much as 10% or more of a family’s income. Given these numbers, it may come as no surprise that more kids are placed onto “travel” and “select” teams than ever before. Year-round specialization and private training have become the norm in many communities, and the market incentives driving what has become known as the “youth sports industrial complex” show no signs of slowing.

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Working Your Goals to Achievement

I got a lot of positive feedback from the New Year’s show, which was the first non-interview episode. I’ll be continuing with interviews, but that feedback also made me realize that people appreciate thoughtful content even without a guest on the show. In that same feedback I got a lot of questions that mostly centered around one topic: moving beyond goal setting to goal accomplishment.

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US Air Force Surgeon General Mark Ediger - Lessons From 32 Years in Public Service

I was so thankful that General Ediger, who retired just last year after 32 years in the military, agreed to be interviewed for the podcast to discuss a distinguished career spanning six administrations. We had a great conversation about everything from combat medicine advancements to tips on leadership, and even some quick advice on staying healthy and fit. His rise to the top of medical leadership in the United States Air Force, from joining as a reservist to eventually becoming the Air Force Surgeon General, was (as he explains) the result of a quest for life-long learning, staying open to new experiences and opportunities, and building strong relationships with solid mentors.

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Bonus New Years Episode: Screen Time, Social Media, Podcasting, and How to Get Your Bearings

In this bonus episode, Joseph and I discussed:

  • Ways to more thoughtfully approach “screen time” and social media, including specific apps and methods for nudging things in the right direction for families and people concerned with the issue

  • A broad look at podcasting including software, gear, hosting, and other advice (including an 8-step general process for anyone looking to get started with a podcast in 2019)

  • Practical approaches to getting your bearings and discovering purpose before setting goals and resolutions

  • We also briefly reviewed the high points of initial episodes of the podcast from 2018

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Peter Ostebo - Finding Your Creative Voice

All great writers have a “voice” - a way of expressing the written word in a way that is immediately recognizable as their own. Finding and harnessing your creative voice, in any art form, allows for the expression of emotional authenticity that leads to a true connection with the audience. For many people who make their living creatively, however, that’s easier said than done. After all, where exactly does that unique voice come from, and how can it be expressed “on-demand,” not just when inspiration strikes?

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