Conversations With Heroes

"Ordinary men or women who dare to see or meet the call of a possibility bigger than themselves."


Have you ever started a project with a goal in mind only to have the goal change direction several times? Better yet, have you felt confident enough, if this was occurring, to trust your innate creative process as changes evolved in your thinking and just surrendered to follow where the road may lead? Well, if you answered yes to at least one of these questions, you will appreciate this value-added component of Learning Optimized. 


My first goal, of course, was the proverbial “hey, time to write a book.” I was clear on the title and its context. I heard the definition somewhere years ago and it stuck with me and it has always stayed in my long-term memory. It would be triggered at certain times when I was playing a big game that was beyond anything I had ever achieved. I was living my personal vision of “leaving a positive mark in peoples’ lives that can never be erased.”  The definition of Heroes is so inclusive and powerful.  It really takes courage and a willingness to embrace “Living on the Skinny Branches.”(Michael Strasner 2016 )  


Anyone can be a hero! What would it be like to have conversations with Heroes who are largely big fish in small neighborhood ponds?  What if I could, just for a few fleeting moments from time to time, introduce their worldviews to readers’ worldviews. Or as my old dear friend and founder of Nova Southeastern University, Dr. Abraham Fischler, once told me, that “connecting different worlds together through language, by way of our own unique historical stories, transforms are once separate neighborhoods into diverse vibrant communities of inclusion, acceptance, tolerance, and love.”  Not sure I could accomplish that with my interviews, but worthy of exploring the idea and definitely a “possibility bigger than myself.”   


Every time I shared my idea with close friends, they smiled and said go for it. The only person that wasn’t really buying the idea 100% was me. Many books are like cars, they become obsolete when you first purchase them. They capture just what is in the book. You can’t add on new chapters or storylines unless you do another addition, and by the research, they don’t get read often.  The book idea was off the table.     


As I begin to call the diverse people who I wanted to include in this project, my goal from a book turned into a podcast. That idea lasted for a week after sharing it with my Yale-educated, Ph.D psychologist, know-it-all, and loyal sister. “That is so not you and so not original.” I Googled how many podcasts were out there. I quit counting. Most last a month if they are lucky and only a handful turn into the 200 million downloads phenomenon called the Tim Ferriss show. 


I have always been curious about people and their unique stories. As I have matured and aged, the stories and the curiosities have only grown. I wanted to meet people who didn’t make the books or the funky podcasts. Unique people that I had to find, research, vet, have the courage to ask, and then come up with questions that would spark some valuable insights and stories. I wanted to capture Heroes and share them with anyone who is connected to the internet.  


Conversations with Heroes, now my new goal, will be Learning Optimized’s monthly newsletter. Sometimes you will have four to five new Heroes each month and other months no one. I love this pace. No deadlines. No gimmick to make a dollar. No bullshit psychological carrot reward to gather email lists to annoy people later with more stuff.  Just a group of learning optimizers who are uplifted by Heroes in the world who have answered the call to share their stories with us. 


My goal is to interview one hundred Heroes before I hit the half-century mark in a year and a half. That audacious moonshot will definitely stretch me and I will have to redesign myself to be bigger than my current self. Now that’s a game that never loses its value.  Then, who knows where the road will lead. Here is a sneak preview of my first set of Heroes. I will post the transcripts soon and they will keep coming periodically till the clock strikes twelve of the big 50 in 2019.  Enjoy the stories and insights as much as I have!   

JAMES CLEAR TRANSCRIPT