WeRateDogs — Wielding Twitter as a Joy Outlet
Noor Tagouri — Breaking the Glass Ceiling with a Hijab
In 2015, WeRateDogs was born. If you would've told Matt Nelson then that he’d be entertaining 750,000 people in less than a year, he would've laughed in your face. For those of you who never knew something like WeRateDogs existed, it does. More than 3 million Twitter followers eagerly await the internet phenomenon of dog photo submissions being paired with witty captions — and the final products are brilliant.
Not only is WeRateDogs used as a “joy outlet” for it’s followers, Matt has also ventured to use his online presence to converse and bring awareness to global conversations. In this episode, Branden chats with Matt on the creative craft of molding your words to convey your embarrassingly quirky thought or idea in 140 characters for your unpredictable audience.
John Jacobs — Life Isn't Perfect, But Life is Good
Never disregard an 8 year old who dreams of becoming Oprah one day. Noor Tagouri, a Libyan-American storyteller and journalist, is currently one of the most talked about young adults in the country having worked with the CBS Radio, Newsy, CTV News while being known as the first hijab-wearing news anchor on American television. After the release of her first documentary passion project, The Forest Haven Story, and she went on to embark on a unique journey to achieve of her dreams of exposing cultural injustices and combating the challenges facing women on a global scale.
In this conversation, Branden digs deep with Noor to truly understand the power of the right question while always aiming to break the glass ceiling.
Ashley LeMieux — Holding Sorrow and Joy in the Same Hand
Where does true optimism come from? How do we choose to gravitate toward hope when there is so much pain in the world? These are questions that John Jacobs, co-founder and CCO (Chief Creative Optimist) of Life is Good, has been resiliently living out the answer to ever since his early childhood. 1989 marked the beginning of his passion for three main things: spreading optimism, helping children in need, and making rad and iconic t-shirts.
In this conversation Branden chats with John about trading blind positivity for meaningful optimism.
Zim Ugochukwu — Cultivating a Love for Curiosity and Travel
The Shine Project began when Ashley Lemieux’s heart was taken by the inner-city youth of Phoenix, AZ. What began as a small project has now resulted in over 40 scholarships being given to help kids go to college since 2011. Ashley’s life’s work has been a testament to the love she pours out amidst a story that has been embedded with so much pain.
In this heartfelt conversation, Ashley shares about how a call one Sunday morning asking both she and her husband to become permanent guardians to two kids overnight changed their lives forever — and how it took a dark turn 3 years later with a letter from the court in the mail.
This is the first time she publicly shares her story.
Shantell Martin — How to Find Your Way to Yay
Zim Ugochukwu believes that everything about travel comes from a spark of curiosity. She’s currently the founder and CEO of Travel Noire, an award-winning boutique travel company and is a passionate advocate for personal transformational. Her background consists of everything from cloning genes at 19, to running a national anti-tobacco campaign, working on the Obama campaign, becoming a precinct judge while in college, and traveling through 90% of Asia.
Jonny Sun — The Strange Hope of Being an Alien
“Who are you? Are you you?” British visual artist Shantell Martin has originated her work upon the foundation of these two questions and is now an unconventional truth-teller in her field. After moving to New York from Tokyo, she became best known for creating stream-of-consciousness drawings and light projects with childlike wonder and joy. Her artwork (mainly lines and stick figures) has appeared in the Brooklyn Museum, Museum of the Contemporary African Diaspora, Bata Show Museum, as well as many other well-known art venues in New York.
In this conversation, Branden and Shantell discuss how understanding who you are and asking unconventional questions are keys to keeping the wonder alive in your work.
Eric Holthaus — Recognizing the Human Story in Weather
You've probably seen @jonnysun's "weird Twitter" tweets of his life as a lonely alien experiencing earth. What you might not know is that Jonny Sun, the Asian Canadian playwright, artist, architect and comedian has a master's degree from Yale, is a PhD candidate at MIT, and is a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center.
In this episode, Branden talked to Jonny about navigating the world of happiness in art and academia while wrestling with depression and anxiety. They also giggled through a conversation about Jonny’s news book, ‘Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too’.
Rick Hanson — The Neuroscience of Good and Bad News
In 2014, Rolling Stone referred to Eric Holthaus as “the Rebel Nerd of Meteorology”, mainly in regards to his reputation for being defiantly optimistic in the world of science. His work as a meteorologist and writing has impactfully highlighted the belief that climate change is the most important and consequential story of our time. Furthermore, Eric’s transparency about living with autism and advocating for self-care have changed the way he interacts with the rest of the world.
In this conversation, Branden and Eric discuss how weather unites us in unique ways — and how this notion should be celebrated.
Yonathan Moya — Humanizing the Mexico/U.S. Border
Dr. Rick Hanson is a psychologist and New York Times best-selling author who creatively works at the intersection of three circles: psychology, neuroscience and the contemplative wisdom that has been established around the world.
His work has been featured on the BBC, CBS, and NPR and has focused on helping people turn everyday experiences into a powerful sense of lasting well-being. In this conversation, he speaks to the empowerment that comes with using our inner resources for hardwiring happiness in relationship with pain.
Stephen Kenn — Objects as a Gateway to Connection
Yonathan Moya is a photographer responsible for the creation of a project, Border Perspective, that took him on a 9-day photographic journey along the U.S. & Mexico border. As he took part in different dialogues and sought to tell truthful stories of those he encountered at the border, he gained a fuller understanding of a place he called home.
Through his photography and international work, he wants to challenge others to see the world around them differently and go beyond their current worldview, into a new understanding of who they are and how they can positively, contribute to our society.
Ahmed Badr — Challenging the Refugee Narrative
Stephen Kenn operates a Los Angeles based design studio focused on furniture and leather goods. Driven by curiosity, Stephen takes a thoughtful and optimistic approach to his work, believing there is always a way to make things simpler. He begins all design projects by seeking out materials that will last a lifetime and experimenting with new processes. In this conversation, Branden and Stephen discuss the idea of seeing objects as an opportunity for story.
When Ahmed Badr was 8 years old, his family's home in Baghdad was bombed. He and his family became refugees and moved to Syria. After living in Syria for two years, they applied for a UN Refugee resettlement program and were placed in the United States. Ahmed is the founder of Narratio, a platform for creative expression that seeks to create empathy and alleviate childhood illiteracy by empowering youth through the publishing of poetry, photography, art and narrative.