Episode 29: Random w/ Mark Rank

Mark R. Rank is recognized as a foremost expert on issues of poverty, inequality and social justice. To date he has written 10 books on a range of subjects, including an exploration of the American Dream and  a new understanding of poverty and inequality. In this episode, I talk to Mark about his latest book, The Random Factor which looks at the role of luck and chance in shaping the course of our lives. It was a fascinating discussion, one I was lucky to have. I hope you enjoy.  Show Links:  Mark R. Rank The Random Factor Poverty Risk Calculator

Episode 28: Family w/ Brittany Means

Brittany Means is author of the critically acclaimed memoir, “Hell if We Don’t Change Our Ways”. Reviews have called it “gut-wrenching and triumphant.” “Readable and rigorous.”  “Brutal and beautiful.’  At its heart, it is a book about family. as Means recounts her complex relationships with her mother, father, brother, and grandparents and eventual guardians. What does it mean when those closest to us hurt us? Is understanding or forgiveness even possible?  How do children make it through it all to find support and love?  This was a particularly moving discussion.  I hope you find it of value.  Links to learn

Episode 27: Class w/ Stephanie Land

Stephanie Land is the New York Times bestselling author of Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive which is now the inspiration for the Netflix series of the same name.  Her latest book, Class: A Memoir of Motherhood,  Hunger and Higher Education is out now. During our conversation we talked about the challenges and judgment that she and other single moms have faced simply trying to create a better future for themselves and their children. This was an important conversation that I hope will change the way we see and support single mothers. I hope you

Episode 26: Uneducated with Christopher Zara

Christopher Zara is the News Editor at Fast Company.  His recent memoir, Uneducated, explores his unlikely journey into the newsroom without the credential of a college degree. During our conversation we talked about both his own story but also more broadly about the role of education – higher and otherwise – in creating opportunities to climb the proverbial ladder.   Links to learn more about:  Christopher Zara, Uneducated: A Memoir of Flunking Out, Falling Apart and Finding My Worth, Fast Company

Episode 25: Trying w/ Joy Oladokun

Singer/songwriter Joy Oladokun is a master storyteller whose songs have been listened to over forty million times. Her latest album, Proof of Life is being heralded as her breakthrough. We talked about her journey as an artist and her process of making music that “helps myself and others process this world.” Links to learn more about:  Joy Oladokun, Proof of Life

Episode 24: The Thanksgiving Play w/ Larissa FastHorse

Larissa FastHorse is a 2020 MacArthur Fellow, award winning writer/choreographer, and co-founder of Indigenous Direction, the nation’s leading consulting company for Indigenous arts and audiences. With her latest work, The Thanksgiving Play, she became the first native American to have her play on Broadway. We talked about her journey to Broadway and how we connect with our culture and each other. I hope you enjoy.  Links to learn more about:  Larissa FastHorse, The Thanksgiving Play, Indigenous Direction

Episode 23: The Good Life w/ Dr. Robert Waldinger

Dr. Robert Waldinger, is clinical professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. He is a practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and also a Zen priest. We discussed his book The Good Life, co-authored with Marc Schulz, the central role of relationships in our life and what can undermine our ability to be socially fit. The conversation will challenge how and with whom you spend your time. I hope you enjoy. Links to learn more about:  Robert Waldinger, The Good Life, Harvard Study on Adult Development

Episode 22: Serving Others w/ Richard Buery

Richard Buery is CEO of Robin Hood, one of the nation’s leading anti-poverty organizations. Prior to this role, Rich had worked as Deputy Mayor of New York, where he was the key architect for the city’s Pre-K for All initiative. In our conversation, we talked about the many ways in which his work has attempted to alleviate scarcity by leveraging the abundant resources around us and his own background has informed his approach to service. I hope you enjoy. Links to learn more about: Richard Buery, Robin Hood Foundation, iMentor, Pre-K for All

Episode 21: Living in the Light with Deepak Chopra

For the last thirty years, Dr. Deepak Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution. His 93rd book, Living in the Light written with Sarah Platt-Fingerwith, taps into the ancient Indian practice of Royal Yoga and offers an illuminating program for self-realization, bliss, and wholeness. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of their top 100 most influential people.” In our conversation we talk about this juxtaposition of “being vs. doing,” our journeys to self-realization and what it means to live in the light. While we discussed some heady stuff, it was a free-flowing and down to

Episode 20: Biography and Science w/ Brandon Ogbunu

C. Brandon Ogbunu is Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. While his research takes place at the intersection of evolutionary biology, genetics, and epidemiology, it all as he says stems from his own biography.His writing appears not just in academic journals but for Wired, The Atlantic and ESPN among other places. This was a deep and far reaching conversation about the intersection of science, identity and the questions we are driven to explore. Links to learn more about:  Brandon Ogbunu, The Liberation of RNA – Radio Lab, The Hidden Meanings of Gattaca –

Episode 19: Acceptance w/ Emi Nietfeld

Emi Nietfeld is author of Acceptance: A Memoir. Her essays have appeared in New York Times, Longreads, Vice, and Boulevard. This was an incredibly moving and important conversation – one I hope you’ll listen to in its entirety as the ending is particularly poignant. This episode contains descriptions or mentions of eating disorders, mental health issues, and sexual abuse which some listeners may find disturbing. Listener discretion is advised. If you or someone you know might be experiencing any of these issues, please reach out to the appropriate local resources/authorities. Here are some national organizations also providing support.  National Eating

Episode 18: Connecting w/ Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers is the acclaimed author of thirty books and the co-founder of several non-profit organizations including 826 Valencia and Voice of Witness. We talked about how we connect with each other, the importance of telling our own stories AND amplifying the voices of others. I hope you enjoy  Links to learn more about: Dave Eggers, Heroes of the Frontier, The Every, Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Museum of Rain, 826 Valencia, Voice of Witness, Scholar Match

Episode 17: Seeing w/ Andrea Elliott

Andrea Elliott has documented the lives of families living in poverty, Muslim immigrants and other people on the margins of power. She is an investigative reporter for The New York Times and the author of Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City (winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.) Her book and our conversation were eye-opening. I hope it helps you see better too.  Links to learn more about:  Andrea Elliott, Invisible Child

Episode 16: Lost & Found w/ Kathryn Schulz

Kathryn Schulz is a Pulitzer Prize winning staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. Her latest book, Lost & Found, is a wonderful and beautiful read. Our conversation touched on topics like life, death, love and loss – helping me see each in a new light. Links to learn more about:  Kathryn Schulz, Lost & Found, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, When Shipping Containers Sink in the Drink, The Moral Judgment of Henry David Thoreau, Furious Hours  

Episode 15: Dreaming w/ Darryl McDaniels

Darryl McDaniels is one of the founding members of the legendary hip hop group Run DMC. He is also the author of two memoirs, a line of comic books and a recent children’s book, Darryl’s Dream. This was an fascinating conversation that touched on many of the struggles that Darryl has faced during his incredible journey. This episode contains descriptions of suicidal ideation, alcoholism and depression, which some listeners may find disturbing. Listener discretion is advised. If you or someone you know might be considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. For crisis support in Spanish,

Episode 14: What We Believe w/ Esau McCaulley

The Reverend Dr. Esau McCaulley is an assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College and author of Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope.He is also a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, where I came across his essay titled: “I Grew Up Poor. How Am I Supposed to Raise My Middle-Class Kids?” This was a moving and provocative conversation that could have gone on for hours as we discussed issues of struggle, poverty, race and faith. Learn more about: Esau McCaulley,  “I Grew Up Poor. How Am I Supposed to Raise

Episode 13: Rich Language w/ Alissa Quart

Alissa Quart is Executive Editor of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She is the author of five books of nonfiction, including Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America, and the forthcoming Bootstrapped: Liberating Ourselves from the American Dream. Alissa also contributes journalism to The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, and many other publications. It was a great conversation about the stories we tell, the myths we need to dispel and the role of language in helping people overcome hardship. Learn more about: Alissa Quart, Economic Hardship Reporting Project, Squeezed:  Why Our

Episode 12: How Less Leads to More w/ Leidy Klotz

Leidy Klotz is a professor of the University of Virginia who studies how we transform things from how they are to how we want them to be. He has written for The Washington Post, Fast Company, The Globe and Mail, and The Behavioral Scientist. We discussed his latest book, Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less and its many implications both on our personal happiness and as a tool for social change. Links to learn more about: Leidy Klotz, Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less, Sustainability through Soccer  

Episode 11: Luck or Skill? w/ Maria Konnikova

Maria Konnikova is a New York Times best-selling author, journalist, and professional poker player. Her latest book, The Biggest Bluff, is now out in paperback. It was a fun and fascinating conversation exploring the balance of skill and chance in life. Among the many stories shared was how a chance encounter with a single line in a story she wrote led to my own forthcoming children’s book, Three Little Engines. Links to learn more about: Maria Konnikova, The Biggest Bluff, America’s Surprising Views of Inequality, Shai Davidai, Three Little Engines, Walter Mischel  

Episode 10: Our Histories with Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey is a two-time U.S. Poet Laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her book of poems, Native Guard. Her latest book is Memorial Drive; A Daughter’s Memoir. It was a moving and deeply personal conversation. We talked about the debt we both owe to our mothers and how we examine and reconcile our complicated personal and national histories. Links to Learn More About: Natasha Trethewey,  Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir,  Native Guard

Episode 9: Dream Hoarding w/ Richard Reeves

Richard Reeves is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution whose research focuses on the middle class, inequality and social mobility. His latest book is Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do about It. Our conversation really challenges us all to reconsider our own American Dream story and more importantly what we’re doing to help or hinder the dreams of others. Links to Learn More About: Richard Reeves,  Dream Hoarders, The Future of the Middle Class

Episode 8: The Recipe for Success w/ Chef Aaron Sanchez

Aaron Sanchez is an award-winning chef, TV personality, author and philanthropist. He is chef/owner of Johnny Sánchez in New Orleans, and a judge on FOX’s hit culinary competition series MasterChef and MasterChef Junior. For the many “famous” roles he plays, it was our discussion about the more essential ones of being fathers, sons, grandsons and friends that rang most true.   Links to Learn More About: Chef Aaron Sanchez,  Where I Come From: Life lessons from a Latin Chef,  Aaron Sanchez Scholarship Fund,  Coco

Episode 7: Reaching for Hope with Nicholas Kristof

Nick Kristof is a self-described “Oregon farm boy turned New York Times columnist.” We discussed his latest book, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope. Written with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, it explores why some people, including many childhood friends from his #6 school bus, have dramatically different life outcomes than others. It was a deeply honest and personal conversation about our friends, our lives and what contributes to where we end up. Links to Learn More About: Nicholas Kristof, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, Kristof Impact

Introducing Attribution w/ Bob McKinnon

Listen to the trailer for our new podcast Attribution — where people from all walks of life, reflect on who and what has contributed to where they ended up. Our hope is after each episode, you feel a little more inspired, grateful, or supported, then when you first hit play.

Episode 6: Reporting on the American Dream w/ Paul Solman

Paul Solman is the business, economics and occasional art correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. Paul is also co-founder of the American Exchange Project. Our conversation was recorded as part of an event held by the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at City College, where I also teach. It was a fascinating discussion about the historical challenges in achieving and reporting on economic mobility. Learn more about: Paul Solman, The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again, The American Exchange Project, Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at

Episode 5: The Keys w/ Jonnie “Most” Davis

Musician/producer/songwriter, Jonnie “Most” Davis had his first number one hit at the age of 24. Since then he’s worked with artists such as Roger Daltry, Mary J. Blige, Biggie Smalls, Outkast, Usher, American Authors, and Pink. All toll he has 25 Gold and Platinum records to his credit. But in this conversation, you’ll hear that he doesn’t define success by the Billboard charts and that the people that contributed to where he is today are far from household names. Links to Learn More About: Jonnie Most Davis, Jonnie’s recent journey

Episode 4: Showing up w/ Bobby Jones

In this wide ranging conversation, the author and entrepreneur Bobby Jones talks about business, culture, sports – and the role each plays in making the world a bit better. In sharing his own journey growing up in Washington DC, Bobby talks about the importance of just “showing up for each other”,  seeing examples of successful people who look like you in your neighborhoods  and asking ourselves to think about what we’re “putting in the hands” of our young people that will shape their path forward.   Bobby Jones, co-founder of Good is the New Cool and brand purpose consultancy Conspiracy of

Episode 3: Trust w/ Rachel Botsman

Rachel Botsman is a leading expert and author on trust in the modern world. As the first Trust Fellow at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, she aims to challenge and change the way people think about trust and related topics such as power, influence, truth and beliefs.  In her conversation with Bob, they talk about the under appreciated but fundamental role trust plays in where we end up in life. Stay tuned for the end of the podcast where Rachel comes to an interesting realization about her own work and the introduction of the idea of “trust inequity.” Rachel is

Episode 2: Compassion with Rachel Ruttan

Rachel Ruttan’s research is ripe with counterintuitive findings, such as, how past experience overcoming a struggle can actually make us less compassionate to people currently experiencing the same challenge. Or how the pursuit of money can make us feel worse about ourselves. Going behind her fascinating research, listen to how Rachel’s own journey out of poverty informs her work.  Rachel Ruttan is an assistant professor at the Rotman School of Management, at the University of Toronto. Rachel’s research examines issues around moral judgement, values, compassion we feel for others and why we sometimes have lapses in it.  Her work has

Episode 1: Tailwinds w/ Shai Davidai

To give you a taste of Shai Davidai’s work, here is a sampling of how the media has featured his research: “How much of a role does luck play in our success or failure?”  The Guardian; “To tackle inequality, remember the advantages you’ve had”; The New York Times; and “Why is my life so hard?” from Freakonomics radio In this conversation, we’ll cover a lot of ground from his fascinating and prolific research studies on how we think about what contributes to our success and failures. But make sure you stay on to the end of our talk, where we