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The Definite Optimist
71 minutes | Feb 18, 2021
#15 Taron Foxworth - How to Learn (and Teach) Technical Subjects
This week’s guest is Taron Foxworth, a teacher, engineer, and bridge between the technical & non-technical world.This is actually one of my favorite all time episodes of the podcast because we talk about a concept that I’m really interested in: technological literacy. I’ve developed a major interest in computers and software in recent years, and it's had a big impact on my life. Taron cares about this as well. He’s a self proclaimed corporate trainer who loves being a corporate trainer. He started his career as an engineer, then quickly became a sales engineer where he realized that great salespeople are actually great teachers. He’s also taught college classes in computer science, and spent time deeply considering how we can teach people more effectively. I haven’t met many people who think more deeply about the art of teaching than Taron. He’s incredibly passionate about making the world a more technologically informed place, and I think that you’ll love this episode.We discuss how to approach learning complex subjects, why technology is not magic, how engineers can learn people skills, what makes a great engineer, and opportunities that Taron sees in education. I hope you enjoy!
66 minutes | Feb 3, 2021
#14 Blog of Jake - Pseudonymity, Crypto, & Content Creation
Jake is a pseudonymous blogger and podcaster who has published under the name ‘Blog of Jake’ since he left his job in investment banking. He also has an outstanding podcast called - not surprisingly - 'Pod of Jake,' where he’s interviewed dozens of people who are moving the world forward: people like Balaji Srinivasan, Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami, Vitalik Buterin, Keith Rabois, and many others. I’d highly recommend checking out both his blog and podcast!HIs content is fantastic, and he’s building a brand anonymously in a world that only made this possible recently. I believe that Jake’s success will be part of a larger trend in the creator economy - one that allows people to preserve their offline identity in a way that frees them to produce in the battlegrounds of the internet without some of the baggage that comes along with it. In this episode - we dive into Jake’s background in investment banking and what gave him the courage to leave that safe, prestigious track. We also discuss Jake’s thoughts on crypto, optimistic, pro tech narrative, his approach to content creation, and why he’s consciously decided to stay pseudonymous. Jake’s a fascinating guy who has a habit of surrounding himself with interesting people & ideas. I hope you enjoy this conversation.
38 minutes | Jan 14, 2021
#13 Nasjaq - Living in the future
This episode’s guest is Nasjaq - a content creator and investor who wants to build an awesome future. Jack (aka nasjaq) studied chemical engineering in college and talked his way into a job working at the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada for his first gig post-university. He then started his own company before joining a Y Combinator backed startup where he ran operations and supply chain until recently. Within the last couple of years, Nasjaq became a prolific content creator on TikTok - posting regular videos about new trends in hard tech and startups. He’s built a massive following over over 800,000 on TikTok, and has begun to invest in the types of companies he’s featured in his hard-tech updates.In this episode, we discuss Nasjaq’s favorite hard tech topics such as terraforming, bioelectricity, and space. We also dive into his content creation and investing strategies, as well as other deep Nasjaq thoughts - like why meme’s become reality, how the internet is already a source of artificial general intelligence, and why it’s vital to put in the reps to build a career in anything.If you like this episode, I highly recommend following Nasjaq on Twitter @jacknasjaq and TikTok @nasjaq, and consider supporting him on Substack. I’m a big believer in positive, pro-tech content myself, and would love to see more people support what he’s working on.Show Notes: Why is Nasjaq so ambitious? (2:30) Getting into startups & Paul Graham's inspiration (3:50) The importance of pro tech content (6:00) Opportunities in deep tech (8:05) Curating an effective content diet (12:15) Nasjaq's thoughts on content creation (15:00) Thoughts on investing (18:05) Nasjaq's requests for startups (21:50) Terraforming the Saltan Sea (23:55) The power of memes (27:40) Why the internet is the real AGI (29:15) Nasjaq's advice for other ambitious people (32:20) Links Website: https://nasjaq.com/ Go get some Nasjaq merch: https://nasjaq.shop/ Support him on Substack: https://nasjaq.substack.com/ TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@nasjaq Twitter: https://twitter.com/jacknasjaq
62 minutes | Sep 24, 2020
#12 Dave Work - Becoming a Leader, Building a Career, & Rock Climbing
Dave is a manager who leads a team at KSM Consulting in Indianapolis, Indiana. We were introduced by past guest, Max Brundige, who thought that Dave would be a great person to learn about management from. Max was spot on. I learned so much from Dave in this conversation about what it means to lead people, manage change, and connect with others at work. Dave & I started our careers in similar types of roles at startup companies, and it was encouraging to hear him provide some perspective on how he has grown throughout his career. He talks about how his first job didn’t pan out the way he wanted it to, and how that experience led him to do A+ work in the years that followed.Dave is also a rock climbing enthusiast outside of work - something I know very little about. We talk about how being able to keep yourself together on the side of a mountain is one of the greatest training grounds for dealing with pressure, and why rock climbing has become something that has changed the way he looks at life. I had a blast during this conversation with Dave, and believe that some of his insights could be really helpful for people just getting started in their career. I hope you enjoy!
77 minutes | Aug 14, 2020
# 11 Jacob Schwartz - Building a Company, Teaching, and Thinking for Yourself
Jacob is the CEO of Schwartz Tutoring and an all around fascinating guy. He graduated from Miami University in the Spring of 2019, and built enough traction during his time in school with the company decided to continue building his business rather than going to work at a large corporation. He's been able to turn his business into a thriving company supporting Miami (OH) and growing quickly. In this episode, we talk about Jacob's thoughts on the education system, the process of growing a business, and the importance of independent thinking.Show Notes: Teaching geometry at a school for the blind (5:05) Scaling his teaching process (9:50) Starting Schwartz Tutoring (13:00) Having tough conversations (36:42) Thoughts on the education system (38:00) Math and its impact on Jacob's thinking (45:14) Competitiveness (48:03) Future goals and inspirations (52:11)
64 minutes | Jul 24, 2020
# 10 Sam Huber - Becoming great at design, Survivor, and building connection through shared experience
Sam is an excellent product designer at Cerkl, a company in Cincinnati that several past guests have either worked at or are familiar with. He graduated from Miami U in OH several years ago, and played a key role at an early stage startup. In our conversation, we talk about getting great at design, how software engineers & product designers can work together more effectively, and why the key to networking is not conferences, but shared experiences.Sam also has a love for survivor, and we talk about how he’s combined his passion to build out the ultimate survivor fan experience - if by some chance CBS is listening - I hope that you're taking notes!I had a blast in my conversation with Sam, and I believe that anyone looking to better understand the world of design will benefit from hearing his perspective on the world. I hope you enjoy!
55 minutes | Jul 17, 2020
#9 Lucy Eisgruber - Intellectual Curiosity, Nuanced Conversations, & Innovation
Lucy is a grad of Miami University in OH, where she studied political science & became interested in early stage startups + entrepreneurship. While in school, she interned at 2 Silicon Valley companies before finding herself working full time at other tech companies in the midwest. She’s slowly begun to develop a love for marketing, and hopes to open her own agency one day. Outside of her primary work, she’s started a podcast called ‘Across the Isle,’ where she has open and bipartisan conversations about politics with a set of diverse guests. She is a huge believer in having nuanced conversations & uses the platform to bring entrepreneurial innovation to the very taboo world of political discourse - you should give it a listen.Lucy is a very positive, high energy person who exudes intellectual curiosity throughout this conversation. I had a great time chatting with her, and hope you enjoy the episode! 2:30 - Learning and curiosity 8:05 - Lucy’s podcasting journey 13:05 - Marketing and politics 16:05 - Algorithmic life and problems 20:17 - Cognitive biases 24:05 - Having nuanced conversations 32:10 - Content creation & marketing 36:15 - Finding the courage to put your work into the world. What's the worst that could happen? 43:00 - Book recommendations, mentors, & more
74 minutes | Jul 10, 2020
# 8 Max Brundige - Mental Models, Gravity Problems, & Developing Your Passion
Max has built a reputation for being a relentless learner and problem solver - he began his career in accounting, but quickly found his way into a position at KSM Consulting in Indianapolis, where he now plays a key role as a consultant and tech developer. He’s garnered accolades recently for his work in the Indy tech ecosystem and his contributions to nonprofits in the area. Max has been inspired by startup culture, and has been described by Nick Bisesi, an earlier guest of this show, as ‘the ultimate builder.’ In our conversation, we talk about how to develop passion for your work, mental models, empathy, design thinking, and how to cultivate the ability to focus in the modern office environment. I was also introduced to Max’s concept of gravity problems, and why you should cultivate the ability to reframe your problems in a more empowering light. I had an incredible time talking with Max. He is an original thinker and someone whom I think will be extremely successful in whatever he does - I took many lessons away from this conversation, and think that you will too. Developing a love for building (2:30) Shifting from accounting to software + consulting & similarities between the two disciplines (6:05) Balancing focus and intellectual curiosity - when to narrow your focus (10:05) Thoughts on work and passion (13:45) Mental models and Charlie Munger (19:10) Max’s contrarian views on the modern open office environment (25:45) What makes a great developer? (33:35) How does Max refine his development skills? (38:41) Empathy at work and in life - putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is not sufficient (44:00) Inspirations & book recommendations (50:04) What Max wants to achieve professionally and personally (103:36) Max flips the script and asks Sam about the podcast (107:13) Max on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maxbrundige/Get in touch with Sam: firstname.lastname@example.org
55 minutes | Jun 17, 2020
#7 Dom DiGeronimo- Entrepreneurship, Hustle, and Keeping Life in Perspective
Hello and welcome to episode number 7 of the definite optimist - today's guest is Dom DiGeronimo. Dom is a true hustler in the best sense of the word. He owns and operates Campus Solutions - a moving and logistics company centered around making the collegiate move in and move out process seamless. He's built a reputation for himself as being a person who does whatever they can to make customers happy, and the reason why comes through in this episode.In this conversation, we talk about how Dom approaches his business, his inspirations in life, what motivates him, and getting over FOMO (aka the fear of missing out) to do things that matter to you.It's rare to see someone who is able to push as hard as he does to run a business, that is also able to keep life in perspective. I took many lessons away from this talk with Dom, & I think you will too. We Discuss: The origins of Campus Solutions & Dom's involvement with the company (1:25) Balancing student life with running a business, and dealing with FOMO (5:20) Classroom lessons vs real world business lessons (11:05) Dealing with the stress of running a company (14:10) Developing the 'hustle' mentality (18:20) Harsh realities of entrepreneurial life (25:00) Entrepreneurial war stories - surviving COVID (32:01) Motivating employees (35:10) Having tough conversations (38:30) Getting over losses (40:41) Role models & long term vision (44:00) Dom on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dominic-digeronimo/
42 minutes | Jun 10, 2020
# 6 Ben Alegre & James Merkley - Running With Ideas, Working with Friends, & Car Seat Canary
Ben & James are college students working on developing a product & business they've named Car Seat Canary - a product focused on solving a major problem for busy parents traveling with kids in their car. They each possess an entrepreneurial spirit, and have been able to slowly turn the idea into something tangible through pitch competitions, working with their University physics department, and spending late nights thinking through product & distribution strategies.Ben is a business and computer science student who is on his second entrepreneurial project, while James loves sports and marketing - viewing this as a great opportunity to start working for himself. In this episode, we talk about how to effectively work with friends on big projects, taking your idea to market, and the importance of mentors in the process. It's always energizing to be around passionate and energetic people - and this conversation left me feeling refreshed.We Discuss: How the Xavier Community has helped Ben & James improve their concept (4:10) Getting starting with your ideas (7:16) How people like Jay Page, Michael Arens, and Dr. Mike Halloran have helped them get started (10:48) Advice for working with friends for the first time (16:10) Growth mindset & lessons (18:30) Next steps for Car Seat Canary (26:40) Long term goals and interests (32:10) Ben Alegre on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ben-alegre-322689195/James Merkley on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/merkleyjames/
53 minutes | May 26, 2020
# 5 Madeline Martini - Moving from the Midwest to Silicon Valley, Building a Brand, and Becoming a Doer
Today's guest is Madeline Martini - I first met Madeline at Cerkl, the same company as another guest of the show, Maddy Rieman, back in 2018. Madeline served as the company's Director of Growth, and also worked on a side project called the Young Entrepreneurs Project, or YEP - a podcast built around providing resources to young people starting companies.Since then, she's moved on to the Silicon Valley startup scene and worked in brand. She has a fascination for marrying technology and marketing to help businesses grow, and she shares her passion for skill development in this conversation.In this episode, we talk about the importance of brand building, what it's like moving from the midwest to San Francisco, and why Madeline ultimately wants to be an entrepreneur herself. I hope you enjoy.We Discuss: What Madeline is up to now (2:03) Moving from the Midwest to San Francisco (5:01) The startup ecosystem in Silicon Valley vs smaller cities (7:54) Co-working spaces & remote work (12:10) Advice for making the move to Silicon Valley (16:36) Madeline's love for learning (20:30) Dreaming vs doing (28:17) Planning a new venture or project (34:30) What Madeline has learned about brand building (36:49) Do you need to be an expert on a topic to create content around it? (40:39) Why Madeline has her sights set on starting a business (47:52) You can find Madeline on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/madelinemartini/And at her personal website: https://www.madelinemartini.com/Thank you for listening!For overall feedback or guest recommendations, you can email me at email@example.com
59 minutes | May 19, 2020
# 4 Will Steuk - Physics, Discipline, and Avoiding Entropy in Life and Business
Today's guest is Will Steuk. Will is a lover of physics, math, and the natural sciences. However, rather than heading down the path of research and academia, he's found a love for applying insights from these disciplines into his life and in business.I used to be someone who hated physics and math. But, as I got older, I realized that understanding the world at a first principles level through these subjects can be a massive competitive advantage.In this episode, we discuss some of the most mind blowing concepts Will has learned, why saving a man's life altered his worldview, and how he plans to apply his knowledge to innovate in the world of manufacturing.Will is one of the most passionate young people I've met over the past couple of years, and it definitely comes through in this conversation. As always, I hope you enjoy!We Discuss: Why Will chose to study the natural science (1:50) How learning about physics + math has changed Will's outlook on the world (5:19) Getting past the early stages of learning something new - even when you feel stupid (8:59) Will's favorite mind blowing concepts from physics (12:12) How Will approaches learning new subjects (21:20) The 'switch' that flipped in Will when he saved a man's life in the ER (24:03) Going through the process of figuring out what it is you'd like to do in life (30:35) Why people are more willing to help you than you think (35:20) People Will has learned from (37:05) Where he wants to apply his knowledge in the future (40:05) Entropy: in businesses, systems, and manufacturing (43:00) Entropy: in your life (49:10) Will's involvement in the Cincinnati community with Boys2Men Inc. (50:25) Will's future goals (54:36) Will on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/william-steuk-346355156To reach out to Sam with feedback or guest suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.orgThank you for listening!
47 minutes | May 15, 2020
# 3 Maddy Rieman - Customer Success, Self Education, and Hustle + Empathy
Today's guest is Maddy Rieman. I first met Maddy during an internship at Cerkl, an AI communications startup in Cincinnati where she is the Director of Customer Success. In her role, she leads a team of account managers and acts as a trusted advisor to countless organizations and major institutions. She was employee #2 at the company, and has played a large part in its growth to date.In her college days at Miami University, she helped raise close to $450,000 to set the foundation for a new department and directed large scale fashion shows as the president of the fashion and design club. She is a problem solver and enjoys facing challenges head on. For example, despite being dyslexic, she majored in English and started an English club in high school.In this episode, we talk about Maddy's journey with the Miami fashion program, what it's like to be an early stage startup employee, her thoughts on the education system, and where companies can improve in customer success.I've learned a lot from her both as an intern and through conversations over the past couple of years. She's a unique blend of hustle and empathy, and that comes through in this conversation. I hope you enjoy.We Discuss: Getting involved with the Miami University fashion program (2:08) Building the fashion department at Miami (6:15) Early leadership experience (10:35) Majoring in English despite being diagnosed with dyslexia (12:00) Maddy's thoughts on the education system (14:00) How to take control over your own education (17:00) Getting started at Cerkl (20:30) Moving into tech from fashion (24:28) How to navigate the difficult road of being an early startup employee (26:10) What Maddy has learned from Tarek & Sara- co-founders of Cerkl (29:22) Building Cerkl's Customer Success Department (34:05) Opportunities for companies in Customer Success (37:20) Maddy's long term goals (42:35) Maddy Rieman on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/maddyriemanCerkl: cerkl.com To reach out to Sam with feedback or guest suggestions: email@example.comThank you for listening!
40 minutes | May 12, 2020
# 2 Michael Arens - Prototyping, Plastic Pollution, and Having the Audacity to Solve Huge Problems
Michael Arens is a student at Xavier University who is working on Clean Earth Rovers, a company that is focused on building technology that cleans plastic from the ocean at scale. He has a vision to change the way that plastic is used and recycled, so that we can solve the problems that are polluting our oceans and environment. They've made great progress so far, building multiple prototypes that provide proof of concept, and getting into various Cincinnati-based accelerator programs.When he's not working on Clean Earth Rovers, he works as an intern at an electric motor technology startup, is still has schoolwork to knock out, and he also plays on the University's club hockey team.You can find Michael on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/michael-arens-69a410168Clean Earth Rovers Website: https://www.cleanearthrovers.com/We Discuss: How Michael got inspired to take on plastic pollution (2:00) When he first got his inspiration for Clean Earth Rovers (4:40) How Michael thinks about attacking huge problems (7:00) Prototyping (8:30) O.R.C.A. technology (13:35) The importance of customer discovery interviews (16:30) Dealing with doubters (18:30) Developing engineering competencies (21:30) Where to begin with your big idea (26:25) The importance of a great co-founder (29:05) How Michael spends the rest of his time (32:00) Michael's long term vision (36:20) Thank you for listening!If you enjoyed today's episode, please subscribe & leave a review in your favorite podcast directory.Have feedback or a guest suggestion? Email Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org
63 minutes | May 8, 2020
#1 Nick Bisesi - Building Apps, Getting Internships & Developing a Growth Mindset
Today's guest is Nick Bisesi.Nick has built many apps and projects, dating back to his early childhood. He's created a coffee shop app for his high school, built a niche social media brand to over 10k followers, started and led multiple clubs around entrepreneurship & innovation, and is now working on an eBay esque project for college students. As just a sophomore in college, he has had countless jobs and internships in digital marketing, and has built an impressive body of work in the process. In this episode, we talk about the importance of having a growth mindset, how Nick learns to use new tools, making the most of internships, and what he's working on now.Nick's Website: http://anickintheuniverse.comTo get in touch with Sam: email@example.com
15 minutes | May 3, 2020
Introduction: What is Definite Optimism?
Books Mentioned: Zero to One To reach Sam: firstname.lastname@example.org
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