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Legal Grounds | Conversations on Life, Leadership & Law
50 minutes | Oct 20, 2021
Legal Grounds | Jim Dolan
I’d like to think I have gained a better grasp of patience the longer I’ve been doing this whole lawyer thing, but some days I fail in this regard - just ask my wife. Now one of the things I’ve noticed that tells me, “Mike, maybe you need to get in a better headspace,” is when someone is telling me a story and I just want them to get to the point. In those moments, I try (and sometimes fail) to remind myself that everyone communicates differently. Some people have to follow their own narratives to get the thoughts out they want to share. In short, I’d probably make a pretty lousy therapist, which is why I’m thankful for folks like my guest this week.Jim Dolan is a psychotherapist and executive coach in Dallas who has spent almost 4 decades helping others get to the roots of their problems so that they can replant themselves step by step. When he’s not working with patients, Jim is a regular contributor to Texas Lawyer magazine and Law.com on the psychology and emotional difficulties of law practice.He’s been a velodrome bike racer, low-budget horror film actor, and currently teaches swimming lessons because, of course, he also used to be a competitive swimmer. We talk about his incredibly rich and sometimes tragic life, as well as the unique struggles that attorneys face when it comes to mental health. Not always a cheerful conversation, but an incredibly necessary one. Enjoy the show! SHOWNOTESD-Magazine Article: My Father, the Hit Man
64 minutes | Oct 15, 2021
Legal Grounds | Dr. Hassaan Tohid
In my line of work, you get to meet a lot of interesting people who are experts in their fields. And despite the old trope about doctors and lawyers not getting along, many of these brilliant folks are from the medical field. Now I never could have been a doctor. One, I don’t think I’m patient enough. Two, I’m not a huge fan of needles. So when you meet a doctor who has dedicated themselves to understanding and solving the issues of one of the biggest epidemics in our society - poor mental health - you tend to take notice. Dr. Hassaan Tohid is a TEDx Speaker, Neuroscientist, Clinician, and a published author. As an entrepreneur, an academic, and a clinician he teaches medical students from all over the world regarding the complexities of research.In his time in the medical field, Dr. Tohid has written and published more than 45 research articles on neuroscience, and has chosen to focus his career on mental health and substance use disorder. Besides being a clinician and the founder of California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences and Psychology, he is also a Certified Life Coach and is known for his mentorship and lectures - which he gives in English, Hindi, Urdu, and Spanish. We discuss the meaning of happiness versus joy, the way religion can have peculiar effects on mental health, and what it takes to find self-love and self-respect. Enjoy the show! SHOWNOTES:Ted Talk about Mirror NeuronsTed Talk about Demonic Possessions
57 minutes | Oct 6, 2021
Legal Grounds | Kate Strong
If you’ve bothered to even scan the headlines in the past couple of years, you’ve had to have come across at least one or two stories about the toxic effects of social media. And it’s not just about how it polarizes us, though that’s bad enough, it's that there have been so many articles about how destabilizing it is on our individual realities. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal published a highly unflattering piece about how Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, knew its product was distorting young women's perceptions of themselves. And while there is plenty to be said about all of this, in my mind it comes down to one core problem. This world we live in is making it increasingly hard for all of us to stay GROUNDED. Myself included.My guest this week found an unconventional solution to this problem. After coming in first for her age group in the world triathlon championship, Kate Strong went home to the UK and got a job as a janitor cleaning toilets at a local cafe. As she framed it, all the win meant was that of the 365 days in that particular year, she just happened to be the fastest. Did she celebrate the win? Of course! But she knew that pursuing something simply for the sake of victories ultimately leads to defeat.Kate is not just a world record holder in multiple fields, she is an entrepreneur, coach & consultant, as well as a TedX Speaker.We discuss her journey from being an engineer with not one, but TWO master's degrees, to becoming a world cycling champion, why failure is a feeling not a state of being, and how to stay grounded is the first step towards discovering your truest self and highest calling.And there are some good laughs to be had along the way. Enjoy the show!
60 minutes | Sep 29, 2021
Legal Grounds | Stephanie Stuckey
It’s been almost 20 years since my wife and I founded The Bassett Firm, and though it may sound a little corny, there isn’t a single day I walk into our offices, see that logo on the door, and don’t feel a tiny sense of, “Holy crap, this is real.”Now imagine that feeling, but instead of your last name printed on one side of a glass door, it’s looming over you in giant, literally billboard-sized letters. And if that wasn’t enough, imagine that a huge chunk of people from your generation could recite from memory a time they interacted with a brand that still bears your last name. Oh, and just to top it all off, imagine you had an entirely different career, life-path, and set of ambitions that you’d decided to pursue before being given the chance to take back your name and turn it not just into a community, but into a brand… Well, if you’re able to wrap your head around ALL of those possibilities, you’d be about halfway to where my guest is today. Stephanie Stuckey is the third generation CEO of the iconic American Road Stop - Stuckey’s. You may know them from their world famous Pecan Rolls, clean restrooms, or a feature in the award-winning film, The Green Book. Before this radical shift, she was a Attorney and Georgia Lawmaker in the House of Representatives, as well as an environmental advocate who worked in both the public and private sectors to make the world a better, greener place. Stephanie and I discuss the myth of the 'Girl Boss', what it means to claw your way back, how pivoting in the face of defeat is crucial, and why it’s alway important to have a “Debbie Downer” in the room, just to name a few topics. Enjoy the show!
51 minutes | Sep 22, 2021
Legal Grounds | Fr. Greg Boyle
There’s a lot that the pandemic continues to teach me, even as we move along in this slow journey towards something close to normal. But my guest today probably summed it up best when he says, “a lot of people are used to being watched, very few of them feel seen.”While the context is centered around those who suffer inside of gang communities, I think Fr. Greg Boyle - perhaps unwittingly - is diagnosing something we’ve all felt this past year-and-a-half as we stare at ourselves in the small corner of a ZOOM call. Fr. Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang rehabilitation program in the world. And despite the loads of research by sociologist and ‘plans’ put forward by policy makers, Homeboy Industries has found its success in one simple tenant - we all belong to each other. Thankfully I do little of the talking in this episode, but I was thrilled to be able to chat with someone who witnesses first-hand the hardships many of us only read about.As someone who operates inside the justice system, this conversation was a good reminder that at its core, “justice is what love looks like in public.”And Fr. Boyle isn’t just out there ‘talking the talk’ - though he is a TED speaker and author of two separate books - one of which was a NYT Bestseller. He is a change maker of the highest order, and I was so privileged to steal some time from his busy schedule to visit.Enjoy the show.
58 minutes | Sep 15, 2021
Legal Grounds | Jennifer Lynn Robinson
I’ve had more than 50+ guests on Legal Grounds up to this point, and almost all of them can point to a moment when something in life “hit them like a ton of bricks,” or came crashing in like a “train off the tracks” and changed their path.My guest this week, however, is not speaking metaphorically when she says life hit her like a loaded pickup truck. Because it did. Literally. In 2008, Jennifer Lynn Robinson was a 10 year attorney who had everything going for her: solid marriage, first-time home owner, promising career. And that’s when a truck decided to jump the curb and nearly kill her. Initially thrilled to have simply survived, Jennifer began the long journey toward relearning, well… everything. She has since taken up boxing, spoken on the TedX stage, become a Pennsylvania delegate for the Vision 2020 campaign, and in the meantime, she managed to found her own thriving business venture - Purposeful Networking. Jennifer and I discuss what it means to be grateful in the face of trauma, how to deal with those who don’t want you to get back up, and why networking is both overwrought and absolutely necessary. Enjoy the show! ADDITIONAL SHOWNOTES:Man's Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankel Atomic Habits, by James ClearVarious Works, by Adam Grant
61 minutes | Sep 7, 2021
Legal Grounds | Isabelle Mercier
There are plenty of people in the world who have an over-inflated sense of importance. Chances are, at least a couple of people popped into your head reading that sentence. But the mentality of, “often mistaken, but never in doubt,” can - to a point - be a useful way to approach the world. To test your assumptions with confidence, and, when proven wrong, adjust course. My guest this week is one of those people. Isabelle Mercier is the founder of LeapZone Strategies, a branding, marketing, and coaching agency that has helped thousands of businesses, big and small, become The First, The Best, or The Only. She has worked with iconic brands such as IMAX and A&W, as well as given not one, but TWO TedTalks - one of which is the first tandem TedTalk I’ve ever seen. Isabelle and I discuss the epidemic of worry, the myth of stress, why it’s important to give yourself time to think, and most importantly, when it’s an appropriate time to crack open a cold one. This conversation was a blast and her transparency is something I think we could use a little more of in this world. Enjoy the show.
69 minutes | Sep 1, 2021
Legal Grounds | Claire Ashman
You know those days when you’re just in the suck? When the only thing that reminds you that it might be OK, is that there are others that have had it a lot worse than you, and they made it?Well, kind listeners, today’s episode might be exactly what you need if it’s been one of those days. Claire Ashman is an author and four-time TED Talk speaker, and she is also the survivor of not ONE but TWO religious cults. The first during her upbringing, the second during her marriage. Claire has become an outspoken advocate and women’s mentor, and as of 2019, she is a university student pursuing a path that many adults in her situation might never have the guts to take. Oh, and here’s the real kicker - these cults she found herself in rooted themselves in Catholic faith traditions.So, needless to say, the conversation this week gets fairly existential, but I don’t think it ever strays from the path of necessary, if not rough, dialogue. From learning how to use a phone, to what she should pay for housing for her and her 8 children, Claire has overcome more than most of us will ever be faced with in our lifetimes. And instead of hiding it, she has decided to share her story with full candor. Her memoir is entitled, “Lessons from a Cult Survivor,” and she has gone on to be featured and interviewed by multiple outlets in her native country of Australia and around the world. So imagine my surprise when she agreed to come on the show. I hope you enjoy the show.
55 minutes | Aug 25, 2021
Legal Grounds | Dr. Kaliym Islam
There may be no “I” in Team, but there’s a big ol’ fat “I” right in the middle of Agile, and Lord knows I’m constantly a work-in-progress when it comes to flexibility. And what’s always made me chuckle is that when I really look back at my career, heck, even my life, I can clearly recognize that old adage: “Change is the only constant.”It’s both the blessing and curse that comes with being a life-long learner. What I didn’t know - and trust me, there are plenty of things that fit in that category - is that agile thinking and life-long learning are areas of study that have kept some of the best scholarly minds at work. Thankfully, I was able to have one of them on the program with me today. Dr. Kaliym Islam has served this country in the Air Force, served his commnuity as a public school teacher, served his clients as a facilitator and instructor specialzing in the Agile Method of leadership, and now, he is serving students yet again as an adjunct professor at both Southern Illinios State University and Aroura Univeristy. If that wasn’t enough, he is also the founder of The TrainingPro Academy which provides a myriad of resources for learning coaches and leaders at every level. Oh, and he’s the author of multiple books, including “The 12 Inch Rule of Leadership,” as well multiple academic journal articles. His optimism and positivity are contagious, and I couldn’t be happier with how the episode (even after some technical difficulties and a re-record on my end) turned out. Enjoy the show!
75 minutes | Aug 18, 2021
Legal Grounds | Joshua van Naarden
Sometimes I feel like I could be accused of using “Legal Grounds” as a cover to talk about anything BUT the law… That’s why this episode was such a reminder of how I love hashing out the details of trial experiences with other attorneys who step into the batter’s box on both sides of the aisle. Far from comfortable and highly R-rated, this conversation was one that felt like a release I didn’t know I needed. Joshua Van Naarden has practiced law for over two decades and hails from the seat of American Democracy - Philadelphia. He has earned his JD and LLM - the equivalent of a Ph.D. in law - and has tried cases on both sides of the bench. Josh got his start as a district attorney for the Major Trials division of Philadelphia and gone on to become one of Pennselvania’s “Super Lawyers" and founding VSCP Law It’s been a while since I’ve said this, but for all the young attorneys and up-and-coming law students, this is a must-listen conversation. From last-minute evidence, to suspect witnesses, to LITERALLY shitting the bed, this is one conversation I won’t soon forget.Enjoy the show.
54 minutes | Aug 11, 2021
Legal Grounds| Amanda Crowell
Not a lot of people will admit this, but I’m glad - if not reluctant - to share that I am a recovering perfectionist. Surprising as it may seem, the legal profession is built around technicalities and even the most minor slip-up can set you, or worse, a client, back. Whether that’s reputation, money, or a combination of both. So screwing up feels not just like professional failure, it’s personal. Thankfully, my guest today is an expert on breaking the connection between familiarity and freedom. Dr. Amanda Crowell is cognitive psychologist, coach, and author of the Aligned Time Journal. She has been a TedX Speaker, a (in her words) reluctant runner, and a guiding light to what she has termed, “Accidental Entrepreneurs.”Amanda and I discuss what it’s like to suddenly find yourself at the helm, what it means to associate ourselves with our ideas (and stereotypes), and why it’s important to “love loosely.”Enjoy the show.
115 minutes | Aug 4, 2021
Legal Grounds | Garen Jemian
Tell me if this kind of moment sounds familiar:You’re at a bar and you’re meeting a new professional contact. You’ve learned a little bit about the person and you like what they do; you like their vibe. The conversation starts light. What do you think about _____? How have you seen ______ play out? Then at a certain moment, something clicks, and the conversation takes a turn towards something deeper. A true connection has been formed through an unspoken trust that you can be honest, vulnerable even. And then you look at the time and realize that half-hour drink has turned into a two hour exploration of anything and everything. Welp, this week, that happened to me, and so I’ve had to coin a new term for this style of podcast. And in keeping with our coffee motif, we’re calling this a slow-drip episode. My guest this week is Garen Jemian, a Senior Leadership Consultant accredited by both the Government of Quebec (CPMT) and the Government of Canada (Level III), a TedX Speaker, and the author of “Happy People Work Harder.” If I had to pick a central theme of our conversation, I think it would be navigating relationships.And not just business relationships. Personal relationships. Communal relationships. Even the relationships we have with ourselves. So while this may be a longer than usual episode, I promise it’s more than worth it. And don’t worry, we’ll return to our normal format next week. Enjoy the show. __________________________________________ADDITIONAL SHOW-NOTES:For more information on "The Man In The Ditch", visit the website! The Spirituality of Imperfection.
56 minutes | Jul 27, 2021
Legal Grounds | Dave Berkus
During my High School and Undergraduate days, I had the opportunity to manage an American/German fusion restaurant... It was a Wienerschnitzel on Mesa Drive in El Paso. And while I learned to balance work, school, and play, one thing I don’t think I could have done was run my OWN business. My guest today not only had the drive to make that time-investment, he would go on to sell that business years later to the tune of millions of dollars. Dave Berkus got his start in the record industry. As a young kid interested in Hi-Fi audio, he would eventually purchase the equipment to record and produce records. First for local choirs and events, and eventually, Hollywood. He has become one of the largest angel investors in Silicon Valley, and his Berkus Method for evaluating where investors should spend their money is one of the most tried and true formulas for success. Dave and I discuss what leadership looks like as you move through different careers, why it’s important to celebrate other’s wins, and why sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself. Enjoy the show.SHOWNOTES:Berkonomics BlogDave's TED Talk
53 minutes | Jul 21, 2021
Legal Grounds | Patrick Boylan
So under the headline of “not surprising,” I feel comfortable admitting that I am NOT an artist by any stretch of the imagination. If you needed a portrait, you’d get a stick figure. If you needed a melody, you’d get me tapping on the steering wheel out of rhythm. And God forbid you needed me to sing…. That’s why this week’s interview was both incredibly exciting and COMPLETELY different from anything we’ve ever done on Legal Grounds.My guest this week is Patrick Boylan, an actor, musician, and a true renaissance man. We discuss how he caught the acting bug, what it means to grind, and how sometimes life can lead you in directions you never expected. I think the thing I appreciate the most about this conversation is how candid, or perhaps RAW, the dialogue was. Be warned, there’s some ‘strong’ language. Enjoy the show!
51 minutes | Jul 14, 2021
Legal Grounds | Charlie Brenneman
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.A lot of people know this Mike Tyson quote, but it’s not just a boxing rule. It’s a life rule. And trust me - it’s not a question of IF life will punch you, it’s WHEN. My guest today can speak to both the physical and metaphorical aspects of this wisdom. Charlie Brenneman was a Junior High Spanish teacher before he decided to step out on a whim and audition for a show that trained amatur athletes to compete against professional fighters. And he won. Over the next 10 years he earned a spot in the UFC, all the while earning his Masters Degree in Leadership and Management. He has since retired from professional fighting and taken his journey from the classroom to the cage and turned it into a presence that includes author, speaker, and podcaster. Nicknamed “The Spaniard” during his time in the UFC, Charlie doesn’t simply occupy multiple roles, he blends them with a passion that we could all learn from. Enjoy the show! SHOWNOTES:BOOKSBecoming a Warrior Driven: My Unlikely Journey from the Classroom to the Cage
51 minutes | Jun 30, 2021
Legal Grounds | John Gronski (Pt. 2)
If it’s not obvious to listeners yet, I believe there’s a huge difference between LEADING people, and simply telling them what to do.But what’s perhaps more difficult to communicate is the need for leaders to CREATE other leaders. And when you find yourself in a position at the top, it can be easy to make excuses for why you’re too busy to mentor those coming up behind you. Trust me. Still, there’s a different sort of hesitancy that can present itself when it comes to taking on the role of a mentor. It’s a little voice that pops up and says, “Who am I to tell someone how to live their life? After all, I’m not perfect…” Thankfully, my guest today has a 40-year head start on that nagging voice.John Gronski, MG (Ret.) is the CEO of Leader Grove and the author of, “Iron-Sharpened Leadership.”But before becoming an author, public speaker, and founder of his own leadership-consulting business, John had a different title. 37th Commanding General of the 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, John is my very first repeat guest, and I was so thankful to have him on again to discuss a book that was decades in the making. The stories he gathers and the lessons he shares are what any leader – military or otherwise – needs to hear. Enjoy the show!
8 minutes | Jun 25, 2021
Legal Grounds | Father's Day Edition
While it’s a bit belated, I wanted to share with you some thoughts I’ve had while reflecting on this Father’s Day. I’m certainly not tooting my own horn, but I’ve tried to balance the earnestness and honesty with humor and touch of sentimentality. In this episode I explore the very different, but very powerful relationship I had with my adopted father, Herbie – aka, The Old Man. In this day and age, there are PLENTY of resources for dads of all types, but back when I was growing up (and I won’t say Herbie was flying by the seat of his pants), you just had to DO. Especially in a family as unique as ours. I hope this episode gives listeners a peek behind the curtain, so to speak. It’s nothing ‘groundbreaking,’ but it’s straight from the heart. Enjoy the show.
60 minutes | Jun 16, 2021
Legal Grounds | Sunny McGaw
I’ve made my fair selection of “questionable” decisions over the course of my life.Opening my own law firm.Having two kids 18 months apart. Agreeing to a foot race with a fellow attorney at a company picknick.This list could go on and on . . . But after almost 4 decades, I’ve come to realize that it’s the simple things that make the most complex impacts. Enter: my latest guest – Sunny McGaw. Sunny is a lecturer at York University, the co-founder of Ivan Joseph Leadership, and one of the most incredibly resilient guests I’ve been lucky enough to have on the program. Her TED Talk is the thing that endurance is made of, and yet her journey only begins from there. In this conversation we discuss the intricacies of parenthood, the need for authentic leadership, and the emotional journey that many of us CRAVE but never expect to confront. Enjoy the show.
55 minutes | Jun 9, 2021
Legal Grounds | Dara Lovitz
I don’t take photos of my food…often. Still, I’d like to consider myself a foodie, at least in the most basic sense. And over the course of this pandemic, I’ve even picked up cooking AND every meal I’ve made has been survivable! My wife and I have become more conscious of food choices over what I’ll say is the past decade. But even then, I’m still learning about the effects of my diet – not only on my own health, but the health of our society and our planet. My guest today had made it her passion to tie-up all of these lose endsDara Lovitz is a writer, professor, presenter, and co-founding board member of Peace Advocacy Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes a peaceful existence through veganism, social justice, and respect for the Earth’s inhabitants and resources. She is the author of: · Muzzling A Movement: The Effects of Anti-Terrorism Law, Money, and Politics on Animal Activism· Catching Falling Cradles: A Gentle Approach to Classic Rhymes· Twinsight: A Guide to Raising Emotionally Healthy Twins&· Gag Reflections: Conquering a Fear of Vomit Through Exposure Therapy.Dara is an adjunct professor of Animal Law and a continuing legal education project coordinator for the American Law Institute. She presents in various forums across the country on animal law, vegan, and parenting topics.We discuss her own journey to veganism & her activism around it, the effects of anti-terrorism laws that unjustly target Animal Rights Activists, her experiences in trying cases for clients who are literally voiceless, and why it’s important to find way to help make eating healthy more equitable and accessible.I won’t say I’ll never eat meat again, but I was blown away by Dara’s insight and passion.We need more leaders like her. Enjoy the show.
9 minutes | Jun 3, 2021
Legal Grounds | Memorial Day Edition
A fair warning, this episode is a little on the heavy side of the spectrum. This past Monday was Memorial Day, one of the several Holidays this country sets aside for those American’s who answered the call to serve. As a former service member and child who was raised in a military family, the Holiday has always felt more solemn than celebratory. The Monday’s off are a nice reprieve, but the tone is different than other patriotic celebrations, say, Fourth of July. Setting aside a day to honor those who gave the last full measure of devotion is the least we can do, so in this podcast I wanted to reflect on what it means when we say, “thank you for your service.”, and why we need to break beneath the surface of this easy platitude. Enjoy the show.
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