Interviews

"All Right, Smarty Pants!" Co-Founder and Co-CEO Courtney Nichols Gould

Courtney Nichols Gould, SmartyPants Vitamins

Courtney Nichols Gould, SmartyPants Vitamins

SmartyPants Vitamins "brings the yum back to being healthy."  Co-Founder and Co-CEO Courtney Nichols Gould shares about seeing challenges as opportunities and about enjoying the ride this week on Dreaming Made Simple.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream?

Courtney Nichols Gould: My dream has a few parts: Build something that is of true service to others; work in a challenging environment that pushes me to the edges of my abilities, and surround myself with a group of people committed to the same, who tend to laugh when things get absurdly hard.
 

Dreaming Made Simple: How did your dream originate?

This current dream, SmartyPants Vitamins, came out of a conversation with our co-founders about the challenges of keeping kids, and all people, healthy. It snowballed from there into a challenge and an opportunity to change an entire industry that had an honorable intention of improving people's health, but some questionable practices, such as lack of transparency and quality at times. We are on a mission to bring more health to more people every day, whether through our products or through the matching grants we make for every bottle we sell. I love my job.


Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Courtney Nichols Gould: Oh, what isn't challenging! It's a daily endeavor - The obstacles are constant and ever-evolving, and there is no finish line.  Really, you just get up every day, look at what needs your attention and get to it.

Here is what I would suggest: Listen to Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic." It's a book and an even better audiobook about creativity that serves anyone in pursuit of a dream.

Don’t focus so much on the end point - It’s important to have vision, but the more you can really dig in to the process and give it your full attention, the more enjoyable it will be, and the more likely to create a brilliant outcome as well.

Ninety-nine percent of anything is execution. Ideas are easy. Grit, resilience and a willingness to keep going are critical. Every dream has its drudgery, so don't be annoyed or surprised by it.  It's all part of the ride.

If your dream, you poor soul, happens to be entrepreneurship, then read "The Hard Thing about Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz and "Shoe Dog" by the founder of Nike. Not for the faint of heart, but I wouldn't do anything else. 

Inga Zinge Pupina on How to Think Like Royalty

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Inga Zinge Pupina is founder/CEO of ROYAL KEY, an interior design business based in Kuldiga, Latvia. Inga and her sister and brother-in-law, Aiga and Robert Vaitkus, operate the business together with close friends.  Inga shares about dreams realized and the perseverance and vision it takes to reach dreams and goals.

Dreaming Made Simple: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Inga Zinge Pupina: One of our greatest achievements as professional interior designers is a permanent exhibition at the Gobustan Museum. In collaboration with Dd Studio, we designed and installed a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Gobustan National Historical-Artistic Preserve in Azerbaijan. Gobustan is a unique monument where one can find petroglyphs, or stone carvings, created since the end of the Paleolithic Era, up to the 20th century. Today, Gobustan Preserve is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We received a special prize at the EMYA (European Museum of the Year Award) for the permanent exhibition.

Another project on our hearts is The Identity Pillar in Kuldiga, Latvia.  It complements the Town Hall Square landscape with interactive elements of the people of Kuldiga and the guests of the town. They reveal the essence of the town dwellers, highlighting a historical inheritance rooted in values that support our present and future. One facet defines the main values; a second facet is formed with a mirror which, while reading proclamations, is used for self-reflection; a third facet is an interactive display which plays a video where 27 citizens proclaim the true identity of their town. The materials used were wood, steel, granite and glass.  It officially opened on May 15, 2015. 


Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Inga Zinge Pupina: Each dream is an achievement.  There is always the season of occasional physical and creative fatigue. In these moments it is always important to come back to the question of why do we do what we do? And what is our big vision?  Unity of the team is also a very important thing in achieving a dream.

Dreaming Made Simple: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

Inga Zinge Pupina: Do only those tasks and projects which the team believes in from the heart.  Provide customers with the results so that they get a lot more than they hoped.

Gary Aspden on Designing Dreams

Gary Aspden is a creative consultant and brand expert at adidas.  This week on Dreaming Made Simple, Gary shares about defying the limits of what’s possible, doing a job the right way and how the biggest challenge you may have to overcome is your own perceptions.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

Gary Aspden: My professional dream was to be designing a capsule range [a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion] for adidas. That dream originated in the late ’90s when I began working for them. I realized that doing something like that could maybe happen one day.

As a kid I would never have dreamed of doing that.   I grew up in a small, working-class town and had never met anyone who worked in a creative job.  It just wasn't on my radar. Consequently, as a teenager, my only dream was to not have to spend my life working shifts in a factory.

Dreaming Made Simple: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Gary Aspden: Doing what I do while maintaining some integrity; never losing sight of where I came from; having some gratitude; and trying to treat people well along the way. I never forgot the people who were kind and generous to me when I was starting out doing unpaid internships.

Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Gary Aspden: I am always my own biggest obstacle.  I often underestimated my own value when I was starting out. I don't like to give advice, although I am convinced that being consistent and reliable are key to success. Doing what you say you will is crucial.

Mika Maeshiro: Embracing the Unexpected and Staying the Course

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Mika Maeshiro is an aspiring doctor who recently took part in her first medical mission. This week, on Dreaming Made Simple, Mika shares about responding to the unexpected, dealing with doubts and the importance of encouragement in your dream pursuit.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?

Mika Maeshiro: I realized at age 16 I wanted to be a doctor and do medical missions.  I wanted to take medical skills into places where they don’t have a lot of access to medical care.  I was looking for direction from God about what to do with my life. One of my leaders was talking about how missions are about meeting people’s practical needs before we try to meet their spiritual needs.  Something about that really hit me.  More than anything I want to serve people. God encouraged me about being a doctor and doing medical missions.  That scared me because as a kid, I resolved in myself that I wasn’t going to be a doctor or a missionary because those things are too hard.  When I got that idea, I was like, ‘What the heck?’  It’s been a pretty interesting journey since then.

It was something that grabbed my heart in a way that I wasn’t really expecting.  At the time, I didn’t really like science, and being a doctor sounded so intense and daunting.  I had one year of high school to do, so throughout that year, I was trying to figure out what it looks like to pursue being a doctor and doing missions.  I started off not even liking science. Now I am the biggest biology nerd that anybody knows.  It’s so much fun to see how God has molded and grown me in that.

Dreaming Made Simple: What has been the biggest challenge to realizing your dream? 

Mika Maeshiro: For me, it’s the lie that I’m not good enough, that I’m not smart enough or don’t have what it takes or that I’m not going to live up to the standards of what it’s supposed to take to become a doctor.  That one has gnawed at me since the get go.

God has reassured me that the reason why things seem so hard now is that I’m actually breaking through things that I need to be a champion in the future.  I’m doing things now to set me up for later.

Dreaming Made Simple: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Practically, get people around you who are inspired by your dream. If you have a dream in your heart that keeps you up at night because you are excited about it, find other people who feel the same way.

Even if they are not super excited about your specific dream, find people with a like heart or a similar passion. Then find people who are passionate about what you’re doing – not even for themselves, but people who will cheer you on.

I wouldn’t have even made it this far if I didn’t have people around me pushing me on, cheering me on, saying, ‘Go, you can do this...'

I just got back from my first medical mission to Africa.  Coming home, it’s like, ‘OK, this is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was 16 years old.  A small glimpse of it just happened.  Now what do I do?’ 

I want to keep pursuing that, but also I need a new dream.  I need something else to drive me forward.  It’s not because my dream to do medical missions is fulfilled but because it needs to grow and get bigger.  It’s really amazing but also important that we be able to expand our dreams and go after new dreams… Let your dream be fluid.  Hold it with an open hand.

Dr. Duane Carter on Pursuing Your Dreams

Duane Carter is a pediatrician, a writer and a dad to 13 children. This week, on Dreaming Made Simple, Duane shares about his “aha moment,” about how his dreams have evolved and the importance of self-care.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?

Duane Carter: My initial professional dream was to be a doctor. I can take you to the very place where it originated. I was in Mr. Fortenberry’s seventh grade biology class watching a documentary on how medical science developed the heart transplant. I knew that day, “THAT is what I’m going to do.”

I began to focus right then and there on being a doctor, specifically a surgeon. I began to read and study about it. I knew I had to keep good grades, so I did. I never took my eye off that goal, and I really never considered anything else, so in a way, it was easy to stay focused. When I got into medical school, though, I realized the lifestyle of a surgeon was NOT what I wanted at all. After taking my pediatrics rotation in my third year of medical school, I knew that pediatrics was what I wanted to do.

After a few years of being a pediatrician, I began to think about writing, and now I have a dream of publishing a book, specifically a novel or a memoir.

DMS: How did your writing dream come about?

Duane Carter: I started writing poetry in high school. It was odd in that it came somewhat easily for me. I really began to cherish it, though, when I was introduced to the poetic masters like Woodsworth, Frost, Eliot, Blake and Shelley in my English classes in high school (Thanks, Ms. Ford!!) I just would get a thought in my head, and I would sit down to write it, and it would turn into a poem. So, I started at 15 or so, and I never quit.

I went through several years, in the midst of medical school and residency, where I wrote very little. Then I began to have some great personal struggles that somewhat led me back to writing, and I’ve never stopped since.

One day I was looking at a photograph I had taken while hiking and it “spoke” to me. I began to write what I heard, and so a new form of poetry for me happened. I began to take photographs of places and situations where I saw beauty and design and grace, and then I would write about the place. It was great fun.

It’s funny to see that a lot of the things that are dreams being fulfilled in my life were surprises, things that “just” happened to me, things that popped up in my life, and I saw that I really wanted to pursue them, and I chose to do so. I always encourage my kids to watch for these things. When something grabs your heart, even if it’s in the middle of what seems to be the normal and mundane, go for it.


DMS: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Duane Carter: I could list things like academic awards and such, but honestly, I think the thing I’m most proud of is being a parent to 13 children (12 of whom are adopted). And the funny thing is that those adoptions were more my wife’s doing than mine. However, being a father to children from all over the world has been my most life-changing accomplishment.

DMS: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Duane Carter: I answered that one a little above. For one, don’t get so caught up in your dream that you forget to live life. Travel. Have fun. Spend time with friends and family. Make really, really, really great relationships. Sure, focus and hard work are important, but living life is much more important. I understand there are times for sacrifices. Sacrifice is essential, I think, to making dreams a reality. But for Pete’s sake, don’t give up the really important things of life (like love and relationships).

DMS: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

Duane Carter: Honestly, I’ve simply worked hard. However, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of my wife sticking with me through the hard and difficult times of pursuing my professional dream. That’s why I said what I did above regarding relationships. I read. A LOT. I read, I listen, I put things into my mind that are focused on what I want to do. For example, right now I don’t spend as much time reading about medicine as I spend reading really good books and writing poetry. I surround myself with people who are high achievers. And last but not least, I’ve learned to enjoy life more. It’s OK to have days of just resting and relaxing. It’s OK to go on vacations and not work. It’s OK to love one’s self. I’ve also learned to take care of myself much better with good sleep, good food, and exercise. I think I’m better off physically, emotionally, and spiritually than I’ve been my entire life.

Will Leitch: Turn Back Tuesday

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A little more than four years ago, I interviewed journalist Will Leitch to debut my first web site! This week, let’s revisit my conversation with him for two reasons: First, Will offered some great insights. Second, this is the first interview on Dreaming Made Simple.

Dreaming Made Simple is your dream destination for practical strategies and resources to help make your dreams happen!

Sam Miller: What is your dream?

Will Leitch: All I ever wanted to do was write for a living. More accurately, all I ever wanted to do was to write about things that I care about. For me to have the opportunity to write about what I want in a lot of different places, it is a dream. My dream is to be able to keep doing this as long as I can. It’s not so simple as “OK, you made it. You’re all done now.” I have to keep working hard to sustain that.

Sam Miller: When did you realize you were living your dream?

Will Leitch: If you had told me six years ago, “Will, you’re going to be able to do a movie site with your friend Tim [Grierson]; you’re going to be able to write for New York magazine, one of your favorite magazines; and you’re going to be able to write a big story about Michael Vick for GQ,” I would have been like “Holy crap, I’m living the dream.” Once you’re actually doing it, it’s just work, which is good. I think people have a bad connotation with work. They equate work with job. I like to work. That’s what gets me up in the morning.

Sam Miller: What are the steps you’ve taken to get where you are?

Will Leitch: A large percentage of everything that happens for anyone is luck. You make your own luck, don’t get me wrong. Once you are given an opportunity, you have to take advantage of it. As it happened, Hugo Lindgren was a deputy editor at The New York Times Magazine. (He now runs the Magazine.) He stumbled across one thing I had written at The Black Table and was like, “Hey, this is kind of funny. I’ll e-mail this guy and see if he wants to do something.” That was absolute luck. The funny thing was I got assigned a huge story, a big huge story, that to be honest I am not sure I was quite ready for, but I worked my ass off on it. It was luck that he even stumbled across me in the first place. On the one hand, he did come across the story. On the other hand, I also wrote a million other things that he did not just stumble across. People misunderstand luck. They think, “That person’s just lucky.” No, you have to put yourself in a position to be lucky.

The first step was deciding that this was what I was going to do. I don’t know if I had necessarily decided that when I moved to New York. I think I knew it in college, but there is a difference in knowing what you want to do and to be, like “I’d do this forever even if I die.” I remember a lot of people in my journ program or different English programs that wanted to be writers, wanted to be journalists. They’d say, “I’ll give this [career] until I’m 27 or 28, then I’m going to law school.” Well, in my opinion, you’ve already lost when that happens. I remember a conversation that me and [Deadspin editor, A.J. Daulerio] had. I was 26, he was 27, and we were both really struggling. We had a friend of ours who was a lot older than us. He was not doing well with his career. We thought, “He was a failure. Are we willing to be failures?” We both decided yes. We were willing to have it not work because we wanted to do it and believed in it.

I think that’s the most important thing – to be willing to go down with the ship. You can’t look for an escape hatch.

If my wife had met me in 2003, I was the biggest loser you could find. I could barely afford rent, I had a crap job, I was writing for free, I was a mess. But I knew what I wanted to do eventually, so I had to put in the work and hope that I caught a break and, if I did, to take advantage of that break.

Sam Miller: What lessons have you learned?

Will Leitch: The main one is not to get distracted and not to give up. I find a lot of people act like a job is owed to them, or they deserve it, or they’re special. A lot of the people who have a really hard time are people who are not ready to deal with setbacks.

A lot of people want to be writers but they don’t realize that requires a ton of work. I don’t think there’s a mystery to it. I think people want there to be. I know a lot of people who love the vision of themselves as writers, but really, you’re committed to it or you’re not.

You don’t even want to know how many years my parents thought, “Why is he in New York? What is he doing there? We send this kid to college, and he’s working in a doctor’s office. What a waste of time this was.” I was a total failure for a long time.

Sam Miller: What’s next?

Will Leitch: All I want to do is to keep doing this and to make it work with my life. I want to be able to do the things I want to do while making sure it doesn’t take away from the things I need to be as a husband and a father. That’s my next goal, to figure that out.

There’s no point where you hit a finish line. That’s something I didn’t realize when I was 25 or 26. I always thought I’d hit a point where I made it. You never hit it.

Thanks for reading!  Keep watching this space for more interviews like this one and for more about Dreaming Made Simple

Inspiring Women's Miriam Gonzalez on the Importance of Role Models on Dream Journeys

Inspiring Women
Inspiring Women

Miriam González is the founder of the Inspiring Women campaign, a UK-based organization that gives girls in school opportunities to hear from female role models who cast vision for their futures.

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, González, named an Influential Educator by Noodle, shares about the importance of mentors, giving back and seizing opportunities on the dream journey.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for the Inspiring Women campaign? How did your dream originate? How has it evolved?

Miriam González:My dream is that every girl in the UK, and then in every country, realizes that they are free to shape their lives, that the only constraints they face should be the extent of their own effort, and that there are lots of women out there ready and willing to help them.

I would like to see the Inspiring Women campaign expand abroad, and I would simply love convincing UN Women to support the campaign worldwide.

I started the Inspiring Women campaign in 2013. I have always been passionate about gender issues, but it wasn’t until I had been myself subject to many labels in the public eye that I realized I should speak up publicly about the remaining sexism in our societies. I believe in women speaking up and talking to the next generations of women. That is what the Inspiring Women campaign is all about.

Also, I had read an interesting survey conducted by Girlguide in the UK, saying that more than 55 percent of girls aged 11-21 years old don’t think they have enough access to female role models. So I thought, “That is ridiculous, there are thousands of great women out there. Let’s just bring them to schools where the girls cannot miss them!”

And that is precisely what we do. We ask volunteers to give one hour per year to go back to school to talk about their life, their career, their choices… In two years, we have gotten nearly 20,000 wonderful volunteers from all backgrounds within the UK, and we have reached 500,000 girls at state schools across the country.

Now, we are about to launch the campaign internationally, and we do hope that the U.S. joins us soon!

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Miriam González: Being able to start the Inspiring Women campaign is one of the things I feel most proud of. I feel very privileged for having had the public exposure (thanks to my husband’s role as the UK Deputy Prime Minister the last five years) that has allowed me to set up the Inspiring Women campaign and have such big success.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Miriam González: I have had many dreams throughout my life and my career, but I never had a plan. There is not a clear path for everyone, and we all have ups and downs. The most important thing is to aim high and keep trying, no matter what. I have always worked hard – I still do work hard - and I have taken most of the opportunities I have found on my way.

Thanks for reading Sam's Dream Blog!  Click here for more information on the Inspiring Women campaign

Brad Webster: Making Your Mark

Brad Webster
Brad Webster

Brad Webster is brand strategist/ creative director at Webster Branding Strategy & Design. This week, on Sam’s Dream Blog, Brad shares about the importance of planning, taking risks and having right beliefs during the dreaming process.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream?

Brad Webster: To propel people, give them an opportunity to step into their own calling. Some of the best ways I can do that emotionally is to encourage people and continually call out their potential. Practically I can be a person who provides opportunity. So basically, my professional dream is to hire people with potential, give them an opportunity to do what they love and earn a good income.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Brad Webster: Some highlights are putting on a benefit concert for the Costa Rican rainforest when I was younger. I had some connections and brought in Anthony Kiedis, who is the lead singer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers... I used to be a sponsored snowboarder, so getting on the Airwalk snowboard team in '97 was cool... Also I was a snowboard coach and coached two of my kids to national championships.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Brad Webster: The main thing is follow through. When we have a dream, we almost always imagine that dream in full glory, but it's quite a process to slog through the initial start-up part. There are details we never thought about, as well as road blocks and disappointments.

Often money can be an obstacle, and right now, for me, that is. What I am learning, and the advice I would give others, is to make a plan. Pretend you have the money sitting there and then make your plan. It needs to be a real plan, not just a pretty plan for investors, one that you will actually execute. At the end of the day, the ones leading any conversation will be the people who actually did it - whether it's a bad movie or a good movie, a book, a business idea, whatever. If you don't do something, there will be nothing to talk about, only what others have done.

SDB: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

Brad Webster: Easy: risk. At the end of the day, you can plan all you want, but at some point, you have to step off the end of the dock. You have to push away and actually try it. It was scary to leave a steady paycheck, and it's always a risk. Any dream you have is a risk inviting you to push the envelope in some area. Otherwise it wouldn't feel so appealing or enticing. That is one step.

Another is having a plan. A third is having people believe in you. You need people to push you on when you don't know if it's possible anymore. I needed to know my wife backed me in my risk. Having people run with you is really, really important.

Wealth is not about money. Wealth is about influence. It is that simple. When you believe that you are powerful and you can make a positive difference in the world around you by going after your dreams, you move forward. When we move forward and bring change, we create momentum for ourselves and hope in others that change is possible.

If you ever speak to a homeless person, they may have definitely had some bad things happen, but the difference is they have lost their belief that they can influence or change the situation. They think if something in the system was changed, or somebody else would make a decision to help them, then things would be different. They basically have lost their influence on their own life. They believe they have 0% influence and the cold, hard world has 100% over them. But it's just a deception. It's a wrong belief. So always believe that you can do something to make a difference.

You pursuing your dream will bring personal fulfillment to you as well as release the potential for others to be inspired by you, and go after their own. Others will see them, and it creates a strong ripple effect. You can do it!

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!

John ZuHone: The Sky's The Limit

John ZuHone is an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  This week, on Sam’s Dream Blog, John shares about realizing a childhood dream, pushing through doubt and endurance on the dream journey.

Sam's Dream Blog: What's your professional dream? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

John  ZuHone: My professional dream was to do something with outer space. I think it started when I was a child. I loved to read, so my family bought me books on all kinds of subjects. One book (which I still have!) was on the planets. I was hooked. I begged for a telescope, and at age six, I got one. We lived out in the middle of nowhere, so it was easy for me to see the night sky.

For the longest time I said I was going to be an astronaut (most kids do at some point). As the years went on, I found myself most interested by the science behind what was going on beyond our planet. Eventually, I decided that I would become an astrophysicist. I also enjoyed computers growing up. Little did I know that they would become an essential part of my job--running computer simulations of what's going on in the universe.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

John  ZuHone: I am mainly a theoretician, in other words, someone who thinks about how the universe works and formulates theories to explain what we see. However, very soon I will have the opportunity to use the Chandra X-ray Observatory, an X-ray telescope orbiting the earth, to observe a cluster of galaxies. It is kind of hard for me to believe sometimes that I get the privilege of using a real observatory that is sitting out in space to do real science.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

John ZuHone: Often, the biggest obstacle has been myself. Self-doubt, the idea that I couldn't hack it, that it was foolish for me to keep going because I wasn't cut out for it--those were things I had to overcome. Gaining the confidence that I was truly able to achieve the goals I had set out for myself, with the support structure that my family, friends, and faith gives me, is what got me to where I am.

To anyone who is pursuing their own dream, I have the following bits of advice:

* Know the difference between giving up (which you don't want to do) and realizing that your goals may have shifted from where you thought they were originally. As you move forward, you may find that other things inspire you, that you are interested in other things than what you had set out originally. That's not a sign of failure. It just means you have moved on to something else. And that can be exciting.

* Other people are important. No one ever gets anywhere in life without help from someone else. This includes your family and your friends, but also people you meet along the way. You never know how the connections you make with others will benefit you down the road. And the way you show gratitude for that is by paying it forward--someday you will get a chance to give someone else a leg up when they need it. It's also very humbling--knowing that making the world run, working for things like justice and knowledge and beauty and everything else that's good, takes teamwork. We're all in it together.

SDB: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

John  ZuHone: First, it was lots of school. 10 years, in fact, counting both college and graduate school. That's how long it takes (give or take a year or two) to get a Ph.D.. After that, you spend time building your research career, doing what we call "postdoctoral research." I'm currently nearing the end of that part of my career, transitioning into something more permanent. But a lot of the education that you need to excel in this area, as in many, is self-taught and self-sought. The classroom is very important, but some of the most important things you will ever learn are not taught in the classroom. You only learn by doing them, and usually doing them wrong a few times before getting it right. In that sense, I am still learning.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about John ZuHone's work here

Andrew Skurka: All about Dreams, Adventures and Challenges

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Andrew Skurka is an adventurer and guide, best-known for his solo long-distance backpacking trips. In total, he has backpacked, skied, and packrafted 30,000+ miles through many of the world’s most prized backcountry and wilderness areas.This week, on Sam’s Dream Blog, Andrew shares about his dream journey, including the preparation and endurance required.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

Andrew Skurka: My backpacking dreams evolve every few years. Early on, I wanted to hike as many long trails as I could, and to do it fast and light. Now, I'm more interested in shorter, more intense trips that are largely off-trail. This shift is directly related to my learning, or lack thereof. When I'm not being challenged by what I'm doing, I change it up.

SDB: What makes you most proud of your long distance hiking feats?

Andrew Skurka: I'm most proud of how smoothly most of my trips go. I attribute this to extensive pre-trip research and planning, which ensures that my plan is feasible and that I'm as prepared for it as possible. If I've put in the time beforehand, there are fewer unexpected events.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dreams?  

Andrew Skurka: The biggest obstacle to my dreams was the unconventional lifestyle that I had to live. I don't have a conventional job, and for a long time did not live like a normal adult: no permanent address, little income, no long-term relationships, etc.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Andrew Skurka: There are few substitutes for hard work and persistence.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about Andrew Skurka here

Soaring Toward Dreams with Brandon Cultra

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Brandon Cultra is a captain for Republic Airlines, a regional service for American, United and Delta.  This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Brandon shares about achieving long-awaited dreams, the patience required and why the wait is worth it.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate? How has it evolved?

Brandon Cultra: Based in Columbus, Ohio for the last seven years, I have been building valuable experience. With that said, my professional dream is to fly for American Airlines. And if you want me to be very specific, I want to be based in Miami flying the 757. This would allow me to fly both international and domestic flights, and migrate south of the freezing midwest.

My dream originated when I was about four years old from my dad.  He has always had a fascination with flying, and that has been imparted to me. Almost since I could walk, I was learning to fly radio control airplanes with my dad. When I started flying, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The airlines were a mystery, and I just knew that I wanted to fly airplanes. Now after eight years of airline experience I know exactly who, where, and what I want to fly.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Brandon Cultra: Recently I upgraded from First Officer to Captain. It took eight years for me to have this opportunity, due to forces beyond my control, governing the industry.  Most people know that there are two pilots up front in the cockpit. They both are well trained and fully capable of flying the airplane. However, the bulk of the responsibility falls on the captain. He has the final say when it comes to the safety of the flight, and he is the first one people turn to when there is a problem. I am so proud to finally have the privilege of being that person who manages the flight.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?

Brandon Cultra: My largest obstacle has been a financial one. Most people think airline pilots make big money, and they would be right when referring to a pilot at United, Delta and American. However, the small regional airlines pay their pilots quite poorly. My first year as an airline pilot I made around sixteen thousand dollars. That was first-year pay, and it did increase over the years as a first officer, but it never exceeded forty thousand a year.

Captains at the regionals do make more. However, it takes about 15 years of service to break the six figure mark, which brings me back to the forces beyond my control. The FAA raised the mandatory retirement age of airline pilots from 60 to 65 years old. This is why I was stuck as a regional First Officer for as long as I was. In years past, people upgraded to Captain in two years or less. Now that the older pilots are starting to retire, the whole industry is back to normal progression. Unlucky timing for me caused the long career stagnation.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Brandon Cultra: For a total of 10 years I waited patiently to advance my career and to finally make a decent wage. I am not looking for sympathy; I was doing what I love to do. Having patience to see my dream out has been extremely difficult.  So, my advice to those in the pursuit of their dream is to never give up! Despite the long years of waiting, the future looks bright and I cannot wait to finally realize my dream!

Thanks for reading!  Tell me about a dream you are pursuing below in the comments!

Jessica Watson on Sailing Toward Your Dreams

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At age 16, Jessica Watson became the youngest person ever to sail solo and unassisted around the world.  This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Jessica shares about braving new territory, the importance of a team in your dream pursuits and about overcoming adversity.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for sailing? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

Jessica Watson: My family sailed when I was young, but it wasn’t till I was 11 that I dreamt of sailing around the world. I was fascinated by the ocean and wanted to prove what young girls are capable of. These days I love sailing more and more and dream of inspiring more people to give sailing a try.

SDB: What makes you most proud of being the youngest person ever to sail solo and unassisted around the world?

Jessica Watson: Great question. It was a solo voyage around the world, but it took a whole team of people to get safely to the start line. I’m proud of the hard work from all of my team. I’m also proud of how I managed the mental side of the voyage.  There were times when I was scared and upset, but most of the time I stayed positive.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dreams?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Jessica Watson: At first finding the support and funding I needed was hard.  Then I actually hit a huge ship just before I set off on the voyage. That was a big setback, but I learned so much from the incident, and it made me stronger.  There are lots of things I could say about the determination and persistence it takes to achieve your dreams, but I think the most important part is to take the first step and have the courage to chase your dreams.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about more about Jessica Watson here

Gainlight Studios' Derek Oddo Shares His Dream Journey

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Derek Oddo is the CEO and owner of Gainlight Studios branding company.

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Derek shares about the evolution of dreams, how to adjust to surprises and how to make your dreams happen.

Sam’s Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?

Derek Oddo: My professional dream has always been to run a successful business that provides for my family and others.

This dream likely originated as a child. I grew up in a large family with four other siblings where there was no such thing as an allowance. Any discretionary money for baseball cards, video games and other items had to come in large part from money I could scrounge together. I mowed lawns and cleared driveways from a young age. I helped neighbors with tasks they did not want to do, all the while collecting any money I could to buy the same things my friends had. That is not to say my parents did not help, they most certainly did when they were able; it was merely a requirement for me to contribute financially if I truly wanted something.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Derek Oddo: The things that give me the greatest satisfaction are old interns who reach out years later to let me know how much I impacted their lives. It is seeing a t-shirt I designed years ago still out and about in the community. It is seeing a logo I designed mounted to the side of a building. Everyone, everywhere, inevitably wants to know that they somehow impacted the world. While these may be minor, they serve as pleasant reminders to stay the course and cause you to realize there are things beyond money that make you appreciate what you do daily.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Derek Oddo: The biggest challenges I have faced are those related to changing circumstances. I became a business owner because I like knowing the decisions I have made or have not made are impacting my bottom line directly. The realization, though, is that I am at the mercy of a number of factors. And as sure as night and day, life will always be there to throw you curveballs.

The best advice I can give to dreamers like myself is to remain nimble, to remain hungry, and to always move forward. Always seek to improve on something every day.

SDB: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

Derek Oddo: Many, many little steps. The two largest being sacrifice and a willingness to execute. Everyone has dreams. Every single one of us. These are as simple as daydreaming about a new car, to something more complex like trying to impact your family generationally.

The only difference that separates the dreamers from the doers is execution. It’s taking those small, tangible steps in the direction of achieving these dreams, regardless of how crazy those around you might think you are.

Along the way, you will be called to sacrifice. Sometimes, these sacrifices are easy, like skipping a night out with friends to be up early for a meeting with a new client. Other times, they are far greater.

It is too easy today to get caught up in instant gratification. We hope to see immediate results, and sometimes we can realize our dreams quickly. But, for the great dreamers, it often takes years for the seeds we plant to become fruitful. It is why it is important to stay the course.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about more about Gainlight Studios here

Kenji Claudio: The Creative Journey

Kenji Claudio is managing partner/director, executive producer at BYOB Bring Your Own Board Orange County TV series.

This week on Sam's Dream Blog, Kenji shares about following childhood passions, making your own opportunities and finding your team.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate? How has it evolved?

Kenji Claudio: My professional dream is to write and produce fun, compelling stories in film, television, any medium that allows for the story to be told and enjoyed. I was four years old when I watched Jim Carrey's "The Mask" and was in awe of how somebody got all of the intense car action scenes on camera – like, did somebody just happen to have a camera and press play when all of this happened? My childlike awe for film has stayed with me through the years.

I graduated, majoring in public relations and working in a comfy government job. Meanwhile, my friend was directing and producing a full-length feature film in Georgia. I asked him, “If I paid my way out there, would you let me work for you?” He took me under his wing. Eighteen-hour days, six days a week, pushed me to near-exhaustion, but I awoke every morning feeling like it was all worth it. That is when I knew that this is what I wanted to do, not just for a living, but for my career.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Kenji Claudio: My most proud accomplishment is when I began producing, at the green age of 22, a full TV series worth of content on a shoestring budget with all my friends. I didn't really know what I was getting into when I called up my friends, asking them, “Hey, wanna make a TV show with me?”

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?

Kenji Claudio: Three years later and two seasons in, I look back, and I see how truly difficult producing a season of TV is. But my naiveté kept me going, not really knowing how hard it was until I finished doing it. Other producers go through hell producing TV shows, but I chose an easy format of television, shooting scripted reality that can be done in a way that can always be produced no matter where I am...because there is always a story to be told wherever you go.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Kenji Claudio: My advice to others is to find a group of friends/creators that love to do what you do. Go with them as a team into whatever idea/venture that you're all passionate about. The creative process is a journey, and you won't know where you land until you get there. In the end, I think about all the fun times I had and remember that failure is a very real thing that can happen at every turn if there is a diva in your squad.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about more about Kenji Claudio and Bring Your Own Board here

D'Wayne Edwards Educates Emerging Designers

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D'Wayne Edwards
D'Wayne Edwards

D’Wayne Edwards is the founder of PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy.  “PENSOLE’s ‘learn by doing’ curriculum teaches students the entire footwear design process.”

This week on Dreaming Made Simple, Edwards, one of the youngest design directors in Nike’s history and a man whose designs have sold more than $1 billion worldwide, shares about planting seeds, dreaming bigger, and about discovering your ‘why.’

Dreaming Made Simple: What is your professional dream, and how has it evolved?

D'Wayne Edwards: I’ve honestly achieved almost all of my professional goals. I am more focused on my goals as an educator, and the first one is to make you forget I ever designed shoes. Not that I want to discount my previous life, but if I can get people to talk to me as an educator, that means I am doing something right if it overshadows my past.

My new focus is not about designing the next great shoe but designing lives that will design the next great shoe.

I see myself as more of a farmer, planting seeds across the industry that will make the industry better than when I entered it. My dream is for PENSOLE to be the best academy in the world!

Dreaming Made Simple: You let go of your dream job at Brand Jordan for an uncertain future pursuing a new passion at PENSOLE.  What convinced you to set your former dream aside, and what has been the result?

D'Wayne Edwards: I have had several dreams and am proud to say I have accomplished several of them, but I never had just one. I set daily goals. Those goals are attached to dreams, and once I achieve one, I move onto my next one. Ironically, working at JORDAN was not a dream of mine because I was not dreaming big enough. Once I was blessed to work at JORDAN, that taught me to dream bigger. If a poor, African-American kid from Inglewood, who could not afford to go to college for design, still reached the top spot in the athletic industry, I realized, if I put my mind to it, I could achieve anything. So to me, why can't a kid with no college education start a school that does not exist, in an industry that is $68 billion...?

Dreaming Made Simple: How does someone keep dreams and passions alive, even when it’s not immediately possible to live them out?

D'Wayne Edwards: First, people need to discover what their dreams are.

Most people don't dream. Dreams are FREE, and there should be no limits on them.

As people we put limits on ourselves, and when we do that, we never discover or realize our full potential. Mark Twain has a quote that says "There are two important dates in our life: One, the day we were born; and two, the day we discover why." I did not discover why until I was in my late thirties. I thought it was to be a top footwear designer who designed for the greatest athletes in the world, for the best brand in the world. But I was wrong... It was to become a designer so I could help others reach the same level of success I was able to achieve, and then for them to help others the same way I helped them.

Most of the time the only thing keeping people from keeping their dreams alive is they don't know WHY they are living....

Thanks for stopping by Dreaming Made Simple!  Learn more about more about D'Wayne Edwards and PENSOLE here

Dick Traum Inspires to Find a Way

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Dick Traum

Dr. Dick Traum is the president and founder of Achilles International. Achilles International is a non-profit organization with members in 65 locations nationally and internationally. The “main objective is to bring hope, inspiration and the joys of achievement to people with disabilities.” Dick is an above-the-knee amputee with a successful computer applications company. Dick became the first amputee to run 26.2 miles.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for Achilles International? How did your dream originate? How has the dream evolved over the years?

Dr. Dick Traum: At the beginning, my dream was to have a local running club. Currently, there are chapters in each major city in US, with hopes to expand internationally to 100 chapters in total. Additionally we want to expand Achilles Kids from 12,700 members in 14 states to 25,000, and we want to expand the Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans to include older disabled veterans.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?

Dr. Dick Traum: Race directors are not yet ready to include large groups of people with disabilities.

SDB: What is something more able-bodied people miss when they relegate people with disabilities to merely being an “inspiration”?

Dr. Dick Traum: They do not realize that people with disabilities are more similar than different. Also, they are unnecessarily uncomfortable with them.

Thanks for stopping by Sam's Dream Blog!  Learn more about more about Dick Traum and Achilles International here

Patricia Kelly Offers Riders Reins to Their Dreams

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Patricia Kelly is founder/president/CEO/ head riding instructor of Ebony Horsewomen, Inc., located in Hartford, Conn. Ebony Horsewomen is an organization “to empower youth toward successful lives through the use of equine-assisted-growth learning."   The CEO of the organization for the past 30 years, Mrs. Kelly is also a former United States Marine.

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Kelly shares about the difference perspective makes, how your childhood can shape your dreams and how to know if you are pursuing the right dream.

Sam's Dream Blog: In the Hartford Courant, you were quoted as saying, “Urban children are denied so much. What we are trying to do is unlock the genius, the brilliance in children to live their best life. We want to unlock the caged heart so that they will dream, and dream big." What difference does it make to get someone out of his or her environment for a little while so that they can experience something like Ebony Horsewomen offers?

Patricia Kelly: The answer to that is perspective. When your perspective, based upon experiences and resources, is limited, your perspective of the world is limited. You tend to think that all that there is what you have been able to experience. Often, youth in the inner city are not afforded experiences and resources to grow their perspective. It’s important to broaden a child’s perspective so that they can get a more global picture of the world, rather than only what’s in their limited neighborhood.

SDB: You mentioned children.  What age group does Ebony Horsewomen serve?

Patricia Kelly: Five to 19, although we have one program that goes up to 28. That’s the mounted patrol, our park rangers. We have our own park rangers in Keeney Park, where we are located. Keeney Park is 693 acres. We do it as a courtesy.

What is it about Ebony Horsewomen that is able to unlock people in a unique way?

Patricia Kelly: There are a number of things. We are in the middle of a metropolitan area that has the largest city park in New England. Keeney Park was designed by Frederick Olmsted, the same guy who designed Central Park.

Within this park, we have the ability to introduce country life and settings, agriculture on several levels. We have farm land here that we grow crops on. Not only do we grow the crops, but once the crops have been harvested, we teach the kids how to prepare the food.  They cook the food, and they learn the nutrition. That’s one aspect.

The second thing is we use equine-assisted therapy. Many of our children have difficulties in school, and some in the community. Many of them are suffering despair and depression. The equine-assisted therapy allows them to receive therapy without the stigma. We use horses to bring them to some answers in their situation.

Then, of course, the experience of learning how to ride a horse is another level that has a couple of different benefits to it. It’s the physical benefit, the emotional benefit, and the benefit of focused concentration and the ability to execute instructions that you are given as you are being taught how to ride. Those kinds of things are transferable to schoolwork.

SDB: Is there a success story that comes to mind?

Patricia Kelly: We have been doing this for 31 years. There are hundreds of success stories [from alumni.] We have one young lady who is a civil rights attorney for the federal government in Washington, D.C.  We have teachers. We have one young woman who is at Harvard University right now on a full scholarship. We have nurses and teachers and principals and business owners.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

SDB: What about your passion?  How did Ebony Horsewomen come about?

Patricia Kelly: It’s a complicated story, but it started in childhood when I was introduced to my first horse from a Jewish neighbor.  It stuck.  It became an obsession for me, a passion for me.  When I got out of the Marine Corps, I settled in my spirit that this was something I was going to pursue.  I was going to flush it out a little bit more, if you will.  Upon my attempt to do that, it became crystal clear to me that this in fact was my passion to do.

Thanks for reading Sam’s Dream Blog! Learn more about Ebony Horsewomen here

Jami Curl Shares Sweet Treats

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Jami Curl

Candymaker Jami Curl is founder of QUIN candy co. and was one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. She is the author of Candy Is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes. Below she shares about creating a memorable product, putting yourself into your work and why finding your dream is akin to a unicorn sighting.

Dreaming Made Simple: On your web site, you write, “Jami Curl here. I’m a candy maker, a business owner and a hard worker.” What is the value of finding a dream or a passion to pour into through hard work?

Jami Curl: I have had plenty of jobs where the passion just wasn't there. For me, all of those jobs involved work other than being directly involved in food. Still though, no matter what the job is, I am a hard worker. I think what you put into what you're doing defines so much of a person. - I have generally never been one to half-ass anything, putting my whole self into everything I do all the time - That's just the Jami Curl way. I think I was lucky enough to be raised by parents who led by example.

Finding a dream, realizing that dream and then being afforded the opportunity to turn that dream into work is a little like finding a unicorn. I think if you are given that rare, rare chance and then squander it, how sad and devastating. You have to find value in what you're doing, period. Whether it's dreaming up candy flavors and figuring out ways to sell that candy, or clocking in to a desk job in a cubicle.

Dreaming Made Simple: I read in your interview in DINE X DESIGN where you talked about snacks creating memories.  What is it about candy that so captures our hearts?

Jami Curl: Food memories are REALLY strong memories for many people. I remember nearly every family vacation I took as a child, simply because of the food we ate or the meals we shared while traveling. Whether it's the snacks my mom would pack for road trips or the dinners we had under the stars on our beach vacations, I can almost taste that stuff, just thinking about it.

Candy has never been something that people eat and then feel bad about (unless you eat too much!) Generally, candy is eaten when we need a boost, when we are celebrating, when we are happy. I don’t know anyone without memories tied directly to candy, whether it's the candy dish at a beloved grandmother's house or the 10-cent candy picked up at the neighborhood corner store.

Dreaming Made Simple: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

Jami Curl: I'd say my steps are kind of all over the place. I have a degree in English, and I also did half of my Masters in Public Administration but quit grad school to open a bakery. I have opened myself up to failure and have taken my successes lightly. I get out and meet people, doing food shows, attending workshops and conferences, and now hosting my own workshops. I teach classes and learn more about my craft by attempting to each others about it.

The biggest step of all is remaining open to opportunity because I never know when something totally amazing might pop up.

Dreaming Made Simple: How do you set your brand apart?

Jami Curl: For QUIN, I pour my entire self into what we do - everything from the types of candy that we make, to their names, to our look and feel - All of it is something I have either done myself or led the way. The important part is forming a team that understands that and supports it. I'm lucky enough to have a team that really understands the importance of our brand and then works to support it.

Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Jami Curl: Sometimes the dream is a total grind. Sometimes the work is so hard that it doesn't feel at all like a dream or a passion. The hours are the longest. Your social life takes a total beating. The lows are very low - but the highs! The highs are the highest, and there's nothing like looking at the work you've put into something and realizing how worth it was.

My advice would be to work hard and to remember that you're going to have days where it feels totally miserable to be you. Fight through it because it's worth it!

Learn more about Jami Curl and QUIN here

Whipsaw Co-Founder Dan Harden on Taking Risk and Facing Fear

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Dan Harden, Whipsaw

Fast Company named designer Dan Harden one of its 2014’s 100 Most Creative People in business. This week, the co-founder and CEO of Whipsaw shares what to do with risk and fear and how to put your personality into your work.

Sam's Dream Blog: Designs must stand out. What is your advice in terms of taking risk and demonstrating passion in a productive way, rather than for the sake of taking risk for risk’s sake?

Dan Harden: First of all, some designs should not stand out. Some need to blend into an experience so the user can go about their business without something screaming at them. Most design problems can only be solved by taking risks. If the risky answer is right, it's more risky not to do it.

SDB: How do you advise putting personality into one’s work?

Dan Harden: Good design often exudes its own personality. That can come from either finding its internal essence and giving that essence a voice... or putting your own personality into a design. Putting your own personality into a design can work if your product needs attitude (like an aggressive boxing glove or a piece of fashion), but you have to be careful when doing that on a serious piece of equipment like an ultrasound scanner where function, safety, and usability trump personality.

SDB: What are traits to look for and to stay away from when assembling a team?

Dan Harden: We seek smart go-getters with tons of passion and talent; we avoid the opposite.

SDB: I have read that you advise getting rid of all fear.  How do you get rid of fear?

Dan Harden: Fear in context of creativity is not having the courage to try something different for fear of judgment or failure. Once you witness the success gained from creatively reaching, the fear simply vanishes.

Learn more about Dan Harden and Whipsaw here, and check back for the next Sam’s Dream Blog post on Tue., March 17

Sit up Straight for Vanessa Van Edwards on Sam's Dream Blog

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Vanessa Van Edwards is a published author and a behavioral investigator. Vanessa’s workshops and courses teach individuals how to succeed in business and life. She has been featured on NPR, the Wall Street Journal, the Today Show and USA Today.

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Vanessa shares how to use pain points to your advantage, how to overcome nerves, and how good body language makes a big difference.

Sam's Dream Blog: From your bio on Udemy, you discovered your passion for teaching about body language from a former pain point of being a “recovered awkward person.”  How important are pain points in discovering one’s dreams or what makes that person come alive?

Vanessa Van Edwards: I think if you want to be successful, you have to be able to relate to your customers, readers, and team members. If you have pain points, you can literally feel their pain. This helps you address needs, be more relatable and tap into what truly inspires us. Pain is also a crazy good motivator. We will do anything to get our bodies and minds out of pain and this will push you better than any motivator.

SDB: Speaking of body language, how do you avoid giving off the wrong signals when you don’t want to be in a situation or when you are really nervous?

Vanessa Van Edwards: Power posing! Sometimes you can't help being nervous. But you can help your body’s response to nerves. When you expand your body--widen your arms, tilt your chin up and forehead back you power up your testosterone and this helps you feel good and perform well.

SDB: Can you give me an example of a before-and-after, so to speak, how improved body language made a big difference in a positive way?

Vanessa Van Edwards: I have a very specific example for you. I pitched a conference to be a speaker. They did not book me. That year I learned how to use my hands as trust indicators and to use the power of leaning (2 body language techniques). When I pitched again I got the gig! One lady on the committee said I was like a completely different person--but it was the exact same pitch.

Learn more about Vanessa Van Edwards and the Science of People here, and check back for the next Sam's Dream Blog post on Tue., March 3