Life’s Tough, YOU Can Be TOUGHER!

Dustin Plantholt

Life’s Tough…you can be tougher, with Host Dustin Plantholt is a podcast about personal stories of strength and perseverance. Along with Dustin, guests and listeners will share their real and vulnerable life stories of overcoming unique challenges and struggles to inspire and motivate each other towards personal fortitude, healing, growth and empowerment.

All Episodes

Dustin Plantholt’s Life’s Tough: YOU can be TOUGHER! podcast this week features Cheryl Miller, Owner of Quantum Consulting and Training.   During her interview with Dustin, Cheryl Miller tells of her past personal challenges as a homeless single mom with two kids born into the welfare system. With the help of others along the way, Miller managed to overcome many uphill battles and obstacles—eventually graduating with a Bachelor's and a graduate degree. Miller had become a  teacher and then worked for over 18 years in the nonprofit sector before opening up her own business, Quantum Consulting and Training. Through her company she helped other women who were former addicts or victims of domestic violence, experienced poverty or homelessness, or were incarcerated or had exited from the sex industry, to find meaningful careers to transition back into the normal paths of society. Miller also co-authored with Shannon Deer the recently published book, Business Doing Good: Engaging Women and Elevating Communities.  Through her book, Miller hopes other businesses will follow suit and step up to their plate and hire these special groups of women, who make up a large percentage of the nontraditional workforce.   "When you give people an opportunity, especially those who are ready to change, ready to do something different, you are not only impacting that person's life but also impacting generations to come.” Says Miller. Join us for new episodes of Life’s Tough: YOU Can Be TOUGHER! here on the “Life’s Tough” channel! Dustin Plantholt is founder and CEO of Life’s Tough. Surviving a traumatic childhood and now raising a family of his own, he is dedicated to helping others find their voice through sharing their story. Dustin says “Together, we are sparking a movement and changing the world, one heart at a time. It’s life … life is tough … but YOU can be TOUGHER!”

Sep 22

19 min 5 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough, YOU Can Be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Coach Rob Mendez, head coach of the Prospect High School (CA) junior varsity football team.  During his recent interview with Dustin, Coach Mendez tells of his lifelong passion of football and coaching the sport—even though he has no limbs at all.  Born without arms or legs due to tetra-amelia syndrome—a rare congenital disorder that prevents the formation of limbs during embryonic development—Rob Mendez was never able to play football, but that didn't stop him from pursuing his passion for the game as a coach.  Yet he was always inspired and encouraged by his father Robert Mendez Sr. to not see himself as "special" but as "unique," and "never to focus on what I couldn’t do but rather on what I could do." "I am grateful for the work I get to do every day. Coaching my team fills me up in a way unlike anything else. The purpose and fulfillment we get from our jobs positively impacts our lives and our communities." Says Coach Mandez. Coach Mendez is also the author of his recently published book, Who Says I Can't? The Astonishing Story of A Fearless Life. Besides coaching football, Mendez is also a busy and accomplished motivational speaker, and has been the subject of dozens of profiles in national media, as well as the ESPN documentary short feature, "Who Says I Can’t? " He will also be partnering with Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin & Metro Chicago in support of their mission to help individuals with disadvantages and different abilities overcome obstacles, find jobs, and achieve their goals To learn more about Coach Rob Mandez, follow him on social media @coachrobmandez and listen to the full episode on the “Life’s Tough” podcast network. Dustin Plantholt is founder and CEO of Life’s Tough. Surviving a traumatic childhood and now raising a family of his own, he is dedicated to helping others find their voice through sharing their story. Dustin says “Together, we are sparking a movement and changing the world, one heart at a time. It’s life … life is tough … but YOU can be TOUGHER!”

Sep 15

15 min 27 sec

In this episode of Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!”, host Dustin Plantholt interviews Her Royal Highness Queen Diambi Kabatusuila Tshiyoyo Muata of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this episode, Queen Diambi, whose name means “the bearer of good news,” shines her best light and shares important truths about the African continent.     This engaging interview begins with the story behind Her Royal Highness Queen Diambi’s full name. Then, we learn more about the beauty and diverse history that Africa embodies—along with a section debunking misconceptions about Africa. In so doing, Queen Diambi delves into the “Two Africas.” There is the 1885 Berlin Conference vision of Africa in which Europeans sought to cut Africa into pieces for exploitative means. The Africa that Queen Diambi emphasizes is the Africa of the People—the Africa that is over 200,000 years old.     From this perspective, Queen Diambi talks about how Africa is where the true history and true accomplishments of civilization took place and continues to take place. In other words, Africa is the birthplace and foundation of civilization—and far more than the mere categorization of “cradle.” As Queen Diambi says, “We only left Africa 70,000 years ago. If humanity is 100, you leave Africa when you are 60…You didn’t leave a cradle.” Queen Diambi also reframes the way Africa is portrayed by using an extended metaphor of Africa as our wise mother who we ought to realize our interconnected relationship with and show her the utmost respect for raising and supporting us.       Additionally, when you think about major concepts in mathematics, sciences, coding systems, philosophy, and architectural feats—all of this originated in Africa, too. So why is this history not taught in western schooling? As Queen Diambi reflects, it is about the so-called winners of history who “creat[e] an artificial narrative to justify why they treat Africa the way they do.”    Throughout the episode, we learn about the ways “Africa is our home, and that history belongs to our community” because African history is human history. And in the wise words of Queen Diambi, “We are all human. Our wealth reside[s] in our diversity because the more diverse we are, the more creative we can be when we have to find solutions. However, our strength lies in our unity. And unity doesn’t mean unicity--unity means you are different, and I love it, because your difference will complete me. Your difference will supplement me—complement me. So, when we change that and we give everyone the opportunity to shine their best light, then how lit will we be together.”     If you are someone who enjoys learning accurate history of the world, understanding the reality behind common misconceptions, as well as discussions about how to create healing between countries and bridge the gap between communities—tune into the “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast featuring highly esteemed guest, Her Royal Highness Queen Diambi Kabatusuila Tshiyoyo Muata of the Democratic Republic of Congo. For more information, visit and follow our social media @LifesToughMedia. 

Sep 8

30 min 27 sec

The latest podcast episode of “Life’s Tough—YOU Can Be TOUGHER!” is about David Vaskevitch, former CTO (Chief Technical Officer) for Microsoft and founder of Mylio, a product that digitizes and organizes a lifetime of memories. From a childhood with his head in the books to a young adulthood in the 1960s surrounded by the latest computer technology, David taught himself how to program and was hired as “Employee 901” at Microsoft under Bill Gates’ advisement. In this episode, David shares his life experience and details how his innovative spirit propelled him further in his career. If you’re wondering how to start a company, how to create to a product you are proud of, and/or how to brainstorm new ideas, tune into this episode of “Life’s Tough: YOU can be TOUGHER!” featuring business visionary, entrepreneur, and innovator David Vaskevitch. To learn more about David Vaskevitch and his company Mylio, check out To discover more from Life’s Tough Media’s expansive collection of podcasts and services, follow our social media @LifesToughMedia and visit

Jul 21

21 min 40 sec

The latest episode on the “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast, hosted by Dustin Plantholt, features guest Sean Callagy with a priceless perspective to all listeners. Sean is the business owner and operator of Callagy Law, founder of the UNBLINDED movement and UNBLINDED Results Formula, ambassador for the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), as well as an internationally recognized public speaker and business coach. Growing up with grandparents, aunts, and high school coaches who are rich in love, values, and mentorship, Sean delves into how he was blessed by the successful people around him. Modeling their behaviors from a young age, he developed the life skills necessary to succeed the most challenging of circumstances. During his undergraduate college career at Columbia University, Sean began to feel the impact of his degenerative genetic eye disease. Pivoting from his dream to go pro in baseball, he decided to apply to law school for financial stability and self-sufficiency as he would soon become fully blind. However, after working at a top firm post-law school, he realized that pursuing law was no longer his dream. Dissatisfied with his position, he looked around at the office and realized that most people complained about the work while only a small few were happy and empowered leaders. Wanting to feel a similar sense of agency and growth, Sean educated himself about business and gained mentor figures in his life—including Tony Robbins and Jay Abraham. What got Sean out of this undesirable cycle? Actively releasing his fears of rejection and failure. Prioritizing what matters. Integrity. Grit. Devotion to life-long learning. Sean attributes a major part of the growth in his businesses to reading books such as How to Make a Fortune from Public Speaking by Dr. Robert Anthony and Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins. From thereon out, Sean forged a new path for himself as the founder of Callagy Law, a highly successful law firm, and UNBLINDED, a personal and professional development company. Once he embraced the boundless possibility his future held, Sean “started generating clients and went from $100,000 in debt to a 40-person law firm in 2 years.” He also started asking challenging questions about how to grow and build structures using his gifts and talents to become a business owner who focuses on what fuels him. From sales meetings and what Sean coined as “ecosystem merging” through communication with niche client ecosystems, he prioritizes his life with integrity and passion. “I love growth. I love challenge.” Sean Callagy affirms, and through creating new opportunities and sharing his story, he encourages all of you to do the same. Because while Life’s Tough, YOU can be TOUGHER! Do you want to access Sean’s formula to becoming more free, happy, empowered, and in leadership? Do you want to learn how your weaknesses can be your greatest strengths and ignite a “why” that propels you? Have you been letting fear of rejection and failure prevent you from taking risks and truly living your life? By listening to Sean Callagy’s journey and the steps he took to get to where he is today, you will not only witness a powerful and moving episode, but a motivational talk that transforms the status quo. To delve more into Sean Callagy and his blockbuster-worthy story, check out and his social media @SeanRCallagy.  For more information about Life’s Tough media and our host, Dustin Plantholt, visit our page at and platforms via @LifesToughMedia on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Jul 14

23 min 59 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Pastor Neil Tomba, Senior Pastor of Northwest Bible Church of Dallas, Texas, who cycled nearly 3,000 miles across the country from California to Maryland on his quest to reach out and listen to people and sharing the Jesus he loved through conversations with others. During his recent interview with Dustin, Pastor Tomba shared how he had "met 150-250 people" in total—and had "116 recorded conversations" about faith and Jesus in 30 days—with people from all walks of life. Some of these total strangers were very open—and others very skeptic about this cycling preacher—shared with Tomba "their life experiences, griefs and struggles, while others wanted to give back" to their communities. Some even openly discussed with him about faith, their experiences with the church, and matters of the soul. Tomba also learned how "true connection is possible when we truly listen to others, instead of rushing to judgment or trying to provide answers to their questions. This provided him a chance to learn of these people' search for and substance by listening to their stories without judgment, and to lead conversation out of curiosity and love,” adds Tomba. Pastor Tomba's incredible and physically stressful month-long journey was captured by a professional film team led by Jonathon Link and became a documentary series in 2020. This remarkable story and what he learned about the power of listening was also documented in his newly published book earlier this month: The Listening Road: One Man's Ride Across America to Start Conversations About God. To learn more about Pastor Neil Tomba, visit, and join us for new episodes of Life’s Tough: You Can Be TOUGHER! here on the “Life’s Tough” channel! Dustin Plantholt is founder and CEO of Life’s Tough. Surviving a traumatic childhood and now raising a family of his own, he is dedicated to helping others find their voice through sharing their story. Dustin says “Together, we are sparking a movement and changing the world, one heart at a time. It’s life … life is tough … but YOU can be TOUGHER!”

Jun 23

21 min 21 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Dr. Lawrence Krauss, an American-Canadian theoretical physicist and cosmologist who was a former professor at Arizona State University (ASU). Dr. Krauss also founded ASU's Origins Project, now called ASU Interplanetary Initiative, to investigate fundamental questions about the universe and served as the project's director. During his recent interview with Dustin, Dr. Krauss explored the fundamental questions about the universe and its origins—contrary to the opinions from those with faith—about life and its purposes. Dr. Krauss's childhood fascination about science motivated his lifelong passion to search for the ultimate answers once he reached adulthood.   "Do what you enjoy...If you don't enjoy it, you won't do a good job; if you don't do a good job, you won't find the answers." He also discussed why it's important to find out about things: ask questions and you will learn.  "Energy is the capability of doing work...when one has fear, fear will prevent one from learning and finding out about the truth". Dr. Krauss is an advocate for public understanding of science, public policy based on sound empirical data, scientific skepticism, and science education. He currently serves as President of The Origins Project Foundation and as host of The Origins Podcast with Lawrence Krauss. To learn more about Dr. Lawrence Krauss, visit and join us for new episodes of Life’s Tough: You Can Be TOUGHER! here on the “Life’s Tough” channel! Dustin Plantholt is founder and CEO of Life’s Tough. Surviving a traumatic childhood and now raising a family of his own, he is dedicated to helping others find their voice through sharing their story. Dustin says “Together, we are sparking a movement and changing the world, one heart at a time. It’s life … life is tough … but YOU can be TOUGHER!”

Jun 16

28 min 32 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Steven Strombeck, Founder and CEO of SafeHandles, who developed a uniquely superior product that not only keeps commonly touched surfaces clean but germs-free 24/7 for at least six months. During his recent interview with Dustin, Steven Strombeck tells of how his personal encounter with a random individual's hygienic behavior spearheaded his determination to partner with his creative team to create a product that "has been tested to not only eliminate germs but also solve problems for a long time." His mission? To keep our families safe. Three things in life matter more than ever before—health, purpose and the people we love. And SafeHandles' unique products can continuously reduce the growth of certain microbes to ensure the product is clean and durable, thus killing germs on the common surfaces people touch 24/7 so they don't get sick from that. A problem-solver with a strong passion for helping people, Steve is also the current Chairman of the Board for Redwood Teen Challenge and is a founding director of Redwood Capital Bank. In addition to his business and charitable pursuits, Steven partners with multiple non-profits around the world and spearheaded two thriving companies, Strombeck Properties and Strombeck Construction.  To learn more about Steven Strombeck, visit, and join us for new episodes of Life’s Tough: You Can Be TOUGHER! here on the “Life’s Tough” channel! Dustin Plantholt is founder and CEO of Life’s Tough. Surviving a traumatic childhood and now raising a family of his own, he is dedicated to helping others find their voice through sharing their story. Dustin says “Together, we are sparking a movement and changing the world, one heart at a time. It’s life … life is tough … but YOU can be TOUGHER!”

May 19

10 min 34 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Don Wood, Founder of Inspired Performance Institute and CEO of Team Energy Inc., developed the TIPP method after spending years researching how atmospheric conditions affect minds and impact lives.  Dr. Wood designed this cutting-edge neuroscience approach to "remove the stigma of trauma." When it eliminates the effects of disturbing or traumatic events in a person’s life, their performance improves both personally and professionally. During his recent interview with Dustin, Dr. Wood shares how things at home hit him on a personal note. “Both my wife and daughter experienced childhood trauma and I saw how it affected their life, including their health. They both had developed autoimmune disorders.” In his search for answers for them, Dr. Wood made the connection between trauma and their health issues. In addition, he recognized the daily stress they lived with and the only solutions provided came from medications. His experience with his family provided the determination required to develop a cutting-edge neuroscience approach. Dr. Woods is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and an avid author on neuroscience and a frequent podcast guest favorite. He has appeared on over 100 podcasts and many times has been the top 20% listened to show. To learn more about Don Wood visit, and join us for new episodes of Life’s Tough: You Can Be TOUGHER! here on the “Life’s Tough” channel! Dustin Plantholt is founder and CEO of Life’s Tough. Surviving a traumatic childhood and now raising a family of his own, he is dedicated to helping others find their voice through sharing their story. Dustin says “Together, we are sparking a movement and changing the world, one heart at a time. It’s life … life is tough … but YOU can be TOUGHER!”

May 12

16 min 28 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Dr. Christina Rahm, artistic scientist, researcher & worldwide consultant in various areas of holistic health and wellness.   During her recent interview with Dustin, Dr. Christina Rahm shares how she first got into healthcare and wellness. After battling Lyme disease in her twenties, and surviving multiple cancers in her thirties, Dr. Rahm made a vow to help people find their own paths of empowerment, by ridding them of the negative environmental and personal forces that prevent them from living a healthy and meaningful life. She is currently writing a book - Cure The Causes, that combines her own personal experiences and health challenges with extensive scientific education, bringing us a book to enable happier, healthier lives! Cure The Causes weaves us through why illness can happen to all of us, and how healing can happen by focusing on the cause instead of the symptoms. Dr. Rahm offers a thorough insight into how everything is connected, affecting our health and well-being. “Don’t let a doctor or anyone else tell you what to do with your body! You’re in charge of your body, so own it!” says Dr. Rahm. Dr. Rahm has an M.S. in Rehab Counseling, PhDs in Education Counseling Psychology with emphasis in NeuroPsych and Strategic Science. She has done postdoc work at Harvard and has taught CME courses for numerous Universities including Johns Hopkins University. She has also spoken and lectured at environmental, health and medical conferences in 78 countries and all fifty U.S. states. To learn more about Dr. Christina Rahm and her upcoming book, Cure the Causes, visit, and join us for new episodes of Life’s Tough: You Can Be TOUGHER! here on the “Life’s Tough” channel! Dustin Plantholt is founder and CEO of Life’s Tough. Surviving a traumatic childhood and now raising a family of his own, he is dedicated to helping others find their voice through sharing their story. Dustin says “Together, we are sparking a movement and changing the world, one heart at a time. It’s life … life is tough … but YOU can be TOUGHER!”

May 5

24 min 17 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Greg Laurie, American author, Evangelist and Senior Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, staying active in remote campuses across California and Hawaii. In a recent conversation with Dustin, Pastor Greg Laurie says that taking time to connect with others has always been a driving force in his life. He has been an evangelist and pastor for 40 years, authored 70 books, including The Upside Down Church, raised 2 children and now he and Cathe, his wife, enjoy life with their 5 grandchildren. He encourages listeners not to put him or any other pastor or leader up on a pedestal, but to remember that we’re all just human. He says, “At the end of the day, we all put our pants on one leg at a time and we all need Jesus just like everyone else.” Growing up, it was Greg’s dream to become a professional cartoonist, but God had a different plan for his life, and Greg says he’s glad! At a very early age, Greg found himself asking the big questions: What is the meaning of life? Why am I here? What will happen after I die? And at the age of 19, under the supervision of his Pastor, he was given the opportunity to lead a Bible Study and the church that formed from this Bible Study group has grown to become one of the largest churches in the United States - Harvest Christian Fellowship. To learn more about Pastor Greg Laurie visit join us for new episodes of Life’s Tough: You Can Be Tougher! right here on the “Life’s Tough” channel! Dustin Plantholt is founder and CEO of Life’s Tough. Surviving a traumatic childhood and now raising a family of his own, he is dedicated to helping others find their voice through sharing their story. Dustin says “Together, we are sparking a movement and changing the world, one heart at a time. It’s life … life is tough … but YOU can be TOUGHER!”

Apr 28

27 min 22 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Josh Nielsen, founder of Zencaster — a web-based tool that helps podcasters easily record their guests, getting the same high-quality audio as in studio.  In a recent interview with Dustin, Josh Nielson explains how it all started for him, chasing his story back to his very first job and detailing the beginnings of his groundbreaking podcasting platform. Recognizing that podcasters faced significant challenges recording their shows and collecting the audio from remote guests, Josh decided to employ some of the skills he’d been learning on previous projects to build something that would solve this problem. No longer do podcast hosts have to cross their fingers, hoping the internet connection doesn't fail them! Josh designed Zencastr with first class options and an arsenal of professional tools, allowing podcast producers to quickly and painlessly record their guests. Why Podcasting? Josh says that podcasting is a great way to connect with people who might otherwise be difficult to get 10 minutes with. By providing value to an entire audience though a podcast interview, everyone wins. “It’s a lot easier to say - ‘come be on my podcast my audience will really benefit from you’ than saying - ‘can I please have some of your time’. And the audience just love to be a fly on the wall for those conversations as well.” Josh says. Josh dropped out of college with one semester left, took a job at a startup and learned more working there for 3 months than he did in his entire University program. He quickly caught the entrepreneur bug and moved to Boulder, CO spending a summer working as a developer for Techstars.  To learn more about Josh Nielsen and Zencastr visit and join us for new episodes of Life’s Tough: You Can Be Tougher! here on the “Life’s Tough” channel! Dustin Plantholt is founder and CEO of Life’s Tough. Surviving a traumatic childhood and now raising a family of his own, he is dedicated to helping others find their voice through sharing their story. Dustin says “Together, we are sparking a movement and changing the world, one heart at a time. It’s life … life is tough … but YOU can be TOUGHER!”

Apr 21

27 min 3 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Dr. Gary Onik, a visionary medical Doctor and adjunct Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, working closely with his colleagues to develop the next generation of cancer fighting technologies. In a recent interview, Dustin asks Dr. Gary Onik to share about what has inspired him to explore these groundbreaking medical treatments and the lessons he’s learned from the ups and downs of his career. Dr. Onik admits that he doesn’t need the recognition from his peers or the public, saying, “That has helped me push the envelope and go against the standards.” Dr. Onik’s is turning the world of what is considered untreatable cancers upside down with his medical cancer treatments. Driven by compassion towards his patients, Dr. Onik says, “My criteria for accepting a patient is whether I believe they can walk out of the hospital cancer-free.” Dr. Onik was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of an accountant and homemaker. By age five his family had moved to Coney Island, and he already knew he wanted to be a doctor. One of the first science books Gary ever read was a picture book about Louis Pasteur. He was intrigued. But his dreams of becoming a doctor disappeared when, at eight years old, his father died unexpectedly, and he saw his mother struggle to make ends meet. It took a high school mentor and Harvard professors to inspire Gary to go on to Medical school. Gary graduated New York Medical College in Manhattan at the top of his class and has gone on to pioneer some of the most astounding medical breakthroughs in history. To learn more about Dr. Onik and his work visit Dustin Plantholt is founder and CEO of Life’s Tough. Surviving a traumatic childhood and now raising a family of his own, he is dedicated to helping others find their voice through sharing their story, saying, Dustin says “Together, we are sparking a movement and changing the world, one heart at a time. It’s life … life is tough … but YOU can be TOUGHER!” Disclaimer: Dr. Onik is an adjunct Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and the chief medical officer of a biotechnology company that is conducting clinical trials and developing new cancer technologies. He also has a private medical practice treating cancer patients. He may have a financial interest in some of the topics he will be discussing

Apr 14

24 min 55 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Rebeccah Silence, known for bringing her clients "back to life”, owner of Inspired Results, radio personality, highly sought-after keynote speaker and corporate trainer, specializing in "Emotional Release" coaching for individuals, families, life purpose, and healing. In her conversation with Dustin, Rebeccah walks us through her 5 steps for healing. She has an online program called, Healing Is Possible, and during the 5-week course, Rebeccah has helped countless people overcome a painful past and break through the patterns than keep you stuck. “It’s simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy,” says Rebeccah.  After years studying, processing & integrating, Rebeccah has built a roadmap to freeing yourself from emotional pain. Courage, Wellness, Inspiration, Faith and Power are the 5 steps she believes are critical for healing. “If you feel stuck or held hostage by your emotional pain,” Rebeccah coaches, “if it’s keeping you from truly shining your light and becoming the person you're destined to be, this course might be right for you!” Rebeccah put the pieces of her life back together after leaving an abusive marriage and again when she survived cancer, getting her initial diagnosis while she was pregnant with her youngest daughter. She is committed to helping others heal their childhood traumas and her work includes support for sexual, physical and self-harm disorders. Rebeccah has spent the past 13 years helping her clients heal through their emotional pain stemming from dark & unimaginable trauma. She believes that we are all born exactly who we are supposed to be and as life happens to us, we drift, hide, numb and lose ourselves in our journey to adulthood. Through her work, she empowers others to choose their best self and claim the power to be who they were created to be. Dustin Plantholt is founder and CEO of Life’s Tough. Surviving a traumatic childhood and now raising a family of his own, he is dedicated to helping others find their voice through sharing their story. Dustin says, “Together, we are sparking a movement and changing the world, one heart at a time. It’s life … life is tough … but YOU can be TOUGHER!”

Apr 7

23 min 53 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Michael Dowling, President & CEO of Northwell Health (the largest healthcare provider and private employer in New York State), chair of the Healthcare Institute, and current member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences. Born and raised in Knockaderry, County Limerick, in Ireland’s southwestern region, Michael’s family lived on a small piece of property in an impoverished area. His home had mud walls, a thatch roof, three small rooms, and a mud floor. There was no electricity, no running water, no bathrooms, and no heat, only a big open fireplace where his mother did all the cooking. Michael was the oldest of five children and had to help support his family from an early age, but this only inspired him to push further in pursuit of his dreams. “No” was never an option for Michael as he realized early on, that with dogged resolve, one stands a good chance of achieving their goals and dreams. Ireland in the 50’s and 60’s was a two-class system, and nobody ever thought that people without money would ever go to college. Even though Michael’s mother was deaf, she was an avid reader and passed that “love of reading” onto Michael. As a child, Michael remembers reading everything he could get his hands. In the end Michael did well enough in high school to make the cut and get accepted into college. “Never let your circumstances interfere with your potential,” his mother would say, always encouraging her children. Michael became the first person in his family to attend college, graduating UCC (University College, Cork) while working odd jobs to pay his tuition. He went on to receive his masters from Fordham University, while also holding honorary doctorates from Queen's University Belfast, University College Dublin, Hofstra University, Dowling College and Fordham University. He began his career at Fordham University as a professor and the assistant dean at the Graduate School of Social Services. He went on to serve under Governor Mario Cuomo for seven years, as state director of Health, Education and Human Services, as well as Deputy Secretary. He also served as commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services. Before joining Northwell Health in 1995, Michael was a senior vice president at Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield. At Northwell Health he was the health system’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, before becoming president and CEO in 2002. Northwell Health is the largest healthcare provider in New York State, caring for more than two million people annually through a vast network of more than 830 outpatient facilities, including 220 primary care practices, 52 urgent care centers, home care, rehabilitation and end-of-life programs, and 23 hospitals. As president and CEO of Northwell Health, Michael leads a clinical, academic and research enterprise with a workforce of more than 75,000 and annual revenue of $14 billion. “Innovation needs to be a core competency for any organization and part of its ongoing DNA.” says Michael. “It’s about people not being slaves to tradition, challenging the status quo and pursuing new, creative ways of doing our jobs and delivering care.” As one of health care’s most influential voices, Michael tackles societal issues such as gun violence and immigration that many health system CEOs shy away from. He has also authored several books; his latest—Leading Through a Pandemic: The Inside Story of Humanity, Innovation, and Lessons Learned During the COVID-19 Crisis—highlights the passion and energy that drives Northwell to be on the leading edge of medical policy and innovation, documenting dramatic stories of what it was like on the front lines, battling the COVID 19 pandemic of early 2020. Today, Michael and his wife Kathy live on Long Island with their two children, Brian and Elizabeth. Join Dustin and Michael for a stimulating conversation and hear how Michael overcame adversity and achieved his dreams. As Michael says, “If you tell me I can’t do something, that’s when I become determined to get it done.”

Mar 17

23 min 50 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast is honored to feature Rick Tirelli, retired NYPD homicide detective, Film Producer at Kauffman Films, and entertainment industry’s technical advisor for crime documentaries, films and TV shows—most notably for the legendary “NYPD Blue” television series. Rick Tirelli is best known for being the heart and soul behind the legendary series “NYPD Blue”—one of the most successful law enforcement TV series! Rick joined the NYPD on January 4, 1984 and worked in the 114 precinct’s (in Queens) anti-crime. In 1988 he was assigned to the Detective Bureau with the 105 Detective Squad. Rick is considered one of the greatest interrogators in the history of the NYPD and was nicknamed “Master of the Box”. He worked his way up to the Manhattan South Homicide Squad and the 26 years he served as a homicide detective, saw over 700 cases cross his desk and is proud to say “...solved 575 of them.” In 1996 Rick was elected the Queens Trustee for the union representing the Greatest Detectives in the world—The DEA (Detectives Endowment Association). Shortly thereafter he was elevated to DEA Secretary, where he served for 6 years, negotiating contracts, grievances, hearings, health benefits, annuities and all other union related matters. Remarkably, while investigating homicides, Rick also closely worked with the producers of the legendary series “NYPD Blue”, advising intimately with the casting, writing, development, post-production and locations—with his access to police departments throughout the country proving to be his strongest asset. He has also worked behind the scenes on “Big Apple” and the feature films “Pride & Glory” (advising Jon Voight, Ed Norton, and Colin Farrell) and “Exposed” (coaching Keanu Reeves in specific police lingo). Rick was Executive Producer of “Watching the Detectives” on A&E, and “The Perfect Murder” on ID. Rick first forged his friendship with Titus Welliver on “NYPD Blue” and later, on “Big Apple.” Rick wore many hats during “The Perfect Murder,” “Watching the Detectives,” “I Married a Mobster,” and while producing “Godfather and Sons” working with several actors to teach accurate terminology and sometimes even giving them a tour of the precinct. He also played the instrumental role of conducting interviews for the shows. “One of the things we always try to do is show that the cops are out there to do the right thing,” Tirelli says of projects like Ace, “...and that means, stories showing how the police and public work in tandem to solve crimes.” Rick retired from the NYPD on March 1, 2015 as a 1st Grade Detective to further his television producing partnership with Kevin Kaufman from Kaufman Films. “Kevin and I do everything together, pretty much from the beginning to the end,” Rick says. “We basically put our minds together … not only for the police stuff but for all of it.” Join Dustin and Rick for a deep dive into his 31-year career with the NYPD and learn some of the “behind the scenes” work that goes into making the greatest cop shows and films ever produced!

Mar 11

32 min 40 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Mallory Weggemann, two-time American Paralympian swimmer who holds 15 world records and 34 American records, highly sought-after motivational speaker, and author of her memoir Limitless: The Power of Hope and Resilience to Overcome Circumstance. A competitive swimmer since she was seven, Weggemann was 18 and a former co-captain of her high-school swim team in Minneapolis when she received a third and final epidural injection to alleviate back pain in January 2008. The procedure went awry and left her paralyzed from the waist down. Several months later, after one of her sisters showed her a story in the local newspaper about the 2008 Paralympic swimming trials taking place at the University of Minnesota, Weggemann went to the meet to speak with the coaches. One of them offered to train her. In a Sports Illustrated article in 2016, Weggemann said: “When I got back into the pool, I started by racing nine-year-olds who were beating me. But I knew I was back to racing. With each passing practice, I got faster and each was a new step forward. Swimming signified fighting back.” Weggemann attained her first set of world records at the 2009 Speedo CAN-AM Para Swimming Championships, held in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. And, in 2012, she was swimming for Team USA at the Paralympic Games in London, where she won two medal—a gold and a bronze. Following her Olympic experience, Weggemann became a motivational speaker at corporate gatherings and she also began training for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Then, in 2014, she suffered an injury that resulted in lasting nerve damage to her left arm. She again fought back and ultimately earned a place on the U.S. team that went to Rio. Weggemann has kept her competitive swimming career going. She won two gold medals and one silver at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London. Additionally, Weggemann continues to be a prominent public advocate for Americans with disabilities. Her book, Limitless: The Power of Hope and Resilience to Overcome Circumstance will be released early in March. Join Dustin and Mallory for a rousing conversation on how Mallory turned tragedy to triumph through resiliency and hope, and how she motivates others to do the same.

Mar 4

24 min 38 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Julia Golding, humanitarian, podcaster, and internationally acclaimed author best known for her Cat Royal series and The Companions Quartet. British novelist Julia Golding was born in London in 1969 and grew up on the edge of Epping Forest. She has written and published more than 50 books since embarking on her literary career in 2006. Most of her books target children and teen audiences, though she has also written novels for adults. Her books span a range of genres, including historical fiction, fantasy, and romance. Julia writes under her own name, along with two different pen names. She is “Joss Stirling” for her teenage mystical romances and “Eve Edwards” for her historical fiction. Julia started out by studying English at Cambridge University. She then took a civil service exam and ended up working in Poland for three years as a member of the Foreign Office. After her return from Poland she enrolled at Oxford University, where she earned a doctorate in British literature of the Romantic period. While wrapping up her studies at Oxford, she wrote her first novel, The Diamond of Drury Lane. The book, set in the 1790s (the early years of the Romantic Period), introduced one of Julia’s favorite characters, Cat Royal. Published in 2006, it also won coveted awards: Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the Nestle Children’s Book Prize. A series of five more Cat Royal books (released between 2006 and 2009) followed and gained a rabid fan base. Julia’s next stop was the policy department at Oxfam, the global movement that combats poverty and injustice. She served as an international lobbyist, advocating for the protection of civilians caught in war zones. After her tenure at Oxfam, she became a full-time writer. More recently, Julia was writer-in-residence at The Royal Institution of Great Britain in 2019. The London-based Royal Institution, established in 1799, promotes public awareness of, and engagement with, science. In 2019, Julia launched her “What would Jane do?” podcast, in which she applies Jane Austen’s sensibilities to contemporary issues. Saving Tolkien’s house Julia describes one of her passions as a three-month crowdfunding campaign that she is leading in order to purchase and save the house where J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The house, built in 1924, is located at 20 Northmoor Road in Oxford, England (an hour’s drive from London). Known as Project Northmoor, the campaign started this past December with a goal to secure $6 million to acquire the house, renovate it, and set up a literary center there as a tribute to Tolkien. Julia resides in Oxford with her husband and three children. Join Dustin and Julia for a fascinating chat on her literary life and commendable humanitarian efforts.

Feb 18

32 min 10 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Dr. Philip Stieg, internationally acclaimed neurosurgeon and Chairman & Founder of the Weill Cornell Medicine Brain and Spine Center—the leading center for patient care in New York City. In addition to his clinical practice, and his leadership duties at the Weill Cornell Medicine Brain and Spine Center, Dr. Stieg is a frequent lecturer around the world. He recently launched the second season of his bi-weekly podcast “This is Your Brain with Dr. Phil Stieg,” which explores the many wonders of the brain.Conveying complex issues related to the brain in a non-technical, matter-of-fact way, some of the topics he addressed in his podcast last year included: anxiety; Parkinson’s Disease; a brain-healthy diet; and how elite athletes deal with pressure. Dr. Stieg received an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, a doctorate in anatomy and neuroscience from Union University, and a medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He trained at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School after completing a fellowship in cell transplantation for restorative neurological function at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Dr. Stieg then joined the faculty of the Harvard Medical School. In 2000, while at the Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, he was asked to develop a new Department of Neurological Surgery at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The center is now a global leader in the comprehensive treatment of central nervous system diseases. Dr. Stieg has served as president of the Brain Tumor Foundation and president of the New York board of the American Heart and Stroke Association. His expertise in head trauma and traumatic brain injury has led him to consulting positions with the National Football League, the New York Giants, and the Department of Defense. He has appeared on the list of Castle Connolly’s “Best Doctors in America” every year for more than two decades and is internationally known as a lecturer dedicated to the training of other neurosurgeons. Join Dustin and Dr. Stieg for a stimulating conversation and hear what is in “the brain” of this gifted physician.

Feb 11

41 min 4 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features LyNea Bell, motivator, speaker, and founder of Bell Hall (B.H.) Talent and Literary Agency. LyNea “LB” Ball – the Southern California talent agent whose motto is ‘do it with passion or don’t do it at all’ has operated the Bell Hall (BH) Talent and Literary Agency for the past five years. With grit, savvy and ’a tough skin,’ LB defied the odds in getting her agency up and running. She entered an industry known for its cut-throat culture, and one that was traditionally for men. The chances of a Black, single mom making it in this industry seemed remote. Yet, LB, as she has consistently done, managed to forge a path to success. Though people may first see her as a demure, youthful-looking woman when they first meet her, LB says she’s really ‘a silent beast’ who’s apt to get an edge through her comprehensive knowledge of the industry and her steadfast ability to negotiate with anyone. Located in Encino, California, BH is a full-service agency that represents talent throughout the entertainment industry. Its dozens of clients are generally people who have worked for years in television, film, comedy, commercials, print, and literary development. LB considers herself a partner with all of her clients. As such, she promotes a mindset within her agency in which the clients are expected to regularly invest in themselves through coaching, training, and interacting with like-minded individuals. Through these collaborative activities, her clients can advance their marketability, she says. LB is all about getting better and being ready for success. “You wish, you want, then you get it,” she says, “but you’re not prepared for it so it slips through your fingers.” LB also strives to support her clients’ interests in working in new areas. “We start looking at other things they wanted to do,” she says, “and we put together a strategy to get to those points, as well.” She refers to this individual creative development as attaining “hyphenation”—when someone, for instance, can become a writer-producer or a TV actor-voiceover specialist. In that spirit, LB, herself, decided to tap into her interests in computer technology as she guided the seven-month development and recent launch of a new, privacy-based Internet search engine, Earlier challenges Just prior to opening her agency, LB suffered a business reversal and lost everything. She became homeless and ended up living in her car for several months. Still, she bounced back to open the agency. A native of Seattle, LB gained familiarity with the entertainment industry by growing up in it. Her mother was an actor, producer and writer, and LB’s first client was her younger brother. When she was at an industry event with her brother, an established talent agent came over and told LB that she’d make a terrific agent. LB said she was often helping others navigate the industry. She just ’didn’t have the (agent) title.’ LB, who’s not quite 50, has cultivated her tenacious approach to meeting challenges for years. As the result of being sexually assaulted, she had a baby at the age of 14. The following year she graduated from high school and went to work to support herself and her child, and has been on her own ever since. Eventually, she earned an Associate’s Degree in computer programming. LB has the unique distinction of being a triplet. Her mother raised the triplets even though she became a quadriplegic after being shot when she was 21. Join Dustin and LyNea for a profound and stimulating conversation to hear what drives this fascinating woman and how she strives to inspire others to live up to their endless potentials. While growing up, “there was no ‘I can’t,’” L.B. said. “Things happen to you ... and you make the best of them. There’s ‘I need a little help,’ and ‘Can you help me?’ -- but you can never say ‘I can’t.’”

Jan 28

24 min 28 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU can be TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Ronald Diamond, longtime investor, entrepreneur, and Founder & Chairman of Diamond Wealth—a boutique financial services and advisory firm catering exclusively on the many unique needs and objectives of Family Offices.

Jan 21

32 min

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU CAN BE TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Stephen Shamus, President and co-founder of ACE Universe—foremost producers of immersive and experiential events that bring together top-name Film and TV celebrity talent, professional Illustrators & Writers, Award-Winning Designers, Gaming, Cosplay, Comic Books and top-notch daytime & evening Q&A and instructional Programming. Collecting has always been in Stephen’s blood. From a young age, he would store and treasure anything he could get his hands on—comic books, sports collector/trading cards, comic art, and memorabilia. His passion is infectious, and his expertise and understanding of the material is extensive and widely respected. In the early 1990’s, Stephen was CMO of Wizard, co-founded the world’s leading magazine covering comic books, toys, games, and animation, along with many specialty books. By the mid-90’s Wizard then acquired and launched its first of many live events including the Chicago Comic Con. This began Stephen’s 20+ year career of producing over 175 Comic Con festivals across North America—booking over 3,000 celebrities, tens of thousands of artists, and playing host to millions of ecstatic and satisfied fans. Stephen co-founded ACE Universe in Sept 2017 and has spearheaded the company’s growth and influence, reaching premier status in the comic-based experiential events production industry. Stephen works with all the major talent agencies and managers, including WME, CAA, UTA, ICM, APA, Innovative Artists, and Gersh. He is the premier talent booker of the biggest and most significant celebrities in the industry, including what is considered the greatest Comic Con lineup ever, which saw nine of Marvels’ The Avengers. His most recent celebrity bookings include Gal Gadot, Brie Larson, Henry Cavill, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Kit Harington, Don Cheadle, Josh Brolin, Michael Fassbender, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Zazie Beetz, Tye Sheridan, Tom Ellis, Lee Pace and more!! Stephen recently created a talk-show style podcast called “Take a Break with Stephen” that features collectibles and airs on the ACE Universe podcast network. He is also the co-creator of several ingenious and ubiquitous collectible products, including those related to Autographed Comic Books, Lithographs and Photographs. These products are used on most occasions where special handling is required when comic books are being signed by the illustrators, writers, or celebrities. Join Dustin and Stephen for a delightful and lighthearted conversation to hear about his fun and unique universe and what makes “Superheroes Tougher!” and the legions of fans that adore them.

Dec 2020

27 min 46 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—YOU CAN BE TOUGHER!” podcast this week features Mel Allen, American journalist, author, college professor, and current editor of the prestigious Yankee Magazine. Mel imparts enriching stories of human strength, perseverance, and survival. Mel Allen is a New England institution. He wrote his first story for Yankee Magazine—the official publication of the region—in 1977, and has been there ever since, being named the magazine’s top editor in 2006. During his career at Yankee he has edited and written for every section of the magazine, including home, food, and travel, with his dedication of long form storytelling being vital to his mission. In his pursuit for a good story, he has raced a sled dog team, crawled into the dens of black bears, fished with baseball legend Ted Williams, profiled astronaut Alan Shephard, and stood beneath a battleship before it was launched. He also once helped author Stephen King round up his pigs for market, but that story is for another day. Earlier in his career, Mel taught fourth grade in Maine for three years and believes that his education as a writer began when he had to hold the attention of 29 children through months of Maine’s long winters. He learned you had to grab their attention and hold it. He later taught magazine writing at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst for twelve years and currently teaches in the MFA creative nonfiction program at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. While Mel has seen his share of challenges in his 74 years (including the loss of both parents, his brother at the young age of 29, sister at age 58, and his first wife), he believes that his losses pale in comparison to the stories about those he has written about in the magazine. Admiring their courage, he uses their stories of strength and resilience “to keep going and doing good.” He says, “I am certain that my desire to write about these people were fueled by my personal experiences. So many of my stories have been about people faced with seemingly impossible obstacles. And through-perseverance—and in no small measure, courage - they find a way to push through.” Some of Mel’s most inspirational stories (in his own words) include: - One of my first stories for Yankee, in the early 80s, recounted how six young men who had trekked through snow and ice to climb Maine’s highest mountain in winter became trapped on a tiny ledge by a fierce, unexpected blizzard. Though temperatures plunged well below zero made it impossible to move, all through the night they shouted hundreds of times, “Endure! Endure!” All but one made it off the ledge at daylight, and one eventually lost his legs, only to become the world’s best para-Olympic skier. - Grace Corrigan:  The mother of Christa McAuliffe, she stood watching Challenger lift off that cold January morning in 1986 and then explode—a tragedy that could have destroyed her. Instead, she found the resolve to carry on her daughter’s mission to highlight how vital education and teachers were. - Bill De la Rosa:  When Bill was in 10th grade his mother returned to Mexico to what she was told would be routine paperwork to enable her to obtain a legal visa, since her children were US born and her ailing husband was a U.S citizen. Instead, she was detained for having once crossed illegally, leaving Bill to care for and raise his young brother and sister. My story told how he graduated first in his class, came to Maine’s elite Bowdoin College and graduated being named the number one Hispanic scholar in America. - Brendan Loughlin:  I told about this once homeless man, whose paintings of sunflowers inspired an entire Connecticut town and how he went from obscurity to a local institution. Besides writing about the people who have defied defeat, Mel has assigned and edited countless others—including the story of a logger who had to saw off his own leg when a tree fell on him deep in the woods, and a sailor who survived two months on a small raft. Mel is also the author of A Coach's Letter to His Son. His column, "Here in New England," was 2009 and 2012 National City and Regional Magazine Awards Finalist for the category "Column." He is also one of the feature writing judges for the National Magazine Awards for the American Society of Magazine Editors, where he weighs in on many of the best nonfiction long form narratives to appear in magazines in the past year. Mel lives and writes in New Hampshire, and like all editors, his greatest joy is finding new talent and bringing their work to light. Join Dustin and Mel for a heartfelt chat and hear Mel share stories that highlight humanity’s incredible courage and about looking to others to find your inspiration and overcome your own challenges. Of these stories Mel says, “When we read about those of us who have endured, we find solace and hope for ourselves as well. We feel we know them. Maybe they are no different from us, their storms were simply stronger. Because they made it, we believe we can.”

Dec 2020

48 min 27 sec

Doron Kempel is an Israeli-born American international technology innovator, serial entrepreneur and former deputy chief of a special forces unit of the IDF. Kempel graduated from Harvard Business School with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). He also holds a law degree (LLM) and a philosophy degree (BA) from Tel Aviv University. Kempel was also a member of Israel's national youth team-handball team. Kempel served in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from 1981 through 1994. He was deputy chief of Sayeret Matkal, a special forces unit of the IDF, in which former Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu served as officers. Join Dustin and Doron for a thought-provoking conversation on his business acumen, his involvement in the military, and how all it takes, is all you got!

Oct 2020

47 min 39 sec

Rodney Herrington has spent decades in water treatment and is passionate about creating innovative, inexpensive and sustainable technologies that provide safe water and disinfectant to everyone. Founder of Aqua Research LLC in Albuquerque, Rodney has taken technology previously used on large-scale municipal devices and miniaturized it into two compact devices that have already saved countless lives in more than 50 countries. Join Dustin and Rodney for a thought-provoking conversation on why “Water Matters”!

Oct 2020

21 min 16 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Calvin Ayre, visionary entrepreneur, online gambling pioneer and founder of the Ayre Group and Bodog entertainment brand—the success of which made him a billionaire. Born on May 25, 1961 in Lloydminster—a Canadian city straddling the provincial border between Alberta and Saskatchewan—Calvin Edward Ayre grew up on a farm outside Lloydminster, and graduated from high school in Salmon Arm, British Columbia. In 1984, he received a Bachelor of Science (BS) in general sciences from the University of Waterloo and added an MBA in management finance from the City University of Seattle in 1989. In 1992 and in his early thirties, after reading a newspaper article about a Caribbean-based company offering betting services over the telephone, Ayre concluded that gambling was tailor-made for the internet. A self-taught network design expert, Ayre converted his Vancouver-based Internet incubator company into a software support firm for online gambling—which eventually became Bodog. Although he licensed his software to several online casinos, he soon realized the real money was in running his own gaming operation. His gambling business—based in Costa Rica—was setup in 1996 and was established in 2000. As the face of the Bodog brand, Ayre’s public profile increased in the mid-2000s as he chose to make himself the focus of Bodog’s marketing strategy and creating a public profile designed to showcase the trappings of a jackpot-winning lifestyle. The image he fashioned earned him the reputation as a man who likes to party. Ayre’s notoriety increased as online gaming’s popularity surged, landing him on the cover of Forbes magazine’s 2006 annual Billionaires edition and Star magazine’s “Most Eligible Billionaire Bachelors” list in late 2007. As the brand grew, Ayre sought to build Bodog into not only one of the largest online gambling brands but also a “mainstream 21st-century digital entertainment conglomerate”. He launched several non-gaming properties under the Bodog brand including in Las Vegas for sports handicappers; Bodog Music record label which spawned the Bodog Music Battle of the Bands television series on Fuse TV; Bodog Fight, a mixed martial arts league incorporating a television series and live pay-per-view events; and Calvin Ayre WildCard Poker, a televised poker series on Fox Sports Net featuring pro and celebrity players facing off against online qualifiers. In March 2006, while filming party scenes for the first-season finale of Calvin Ayre WildCard Poker at his compound outside San Jose, Costa Rica, Ayre’s home was raided by an estimated 100 police who were under the mistaken impression gambling was taking place. Ayre, who was not charged, used his marketing savvy and the media spotlight provided by the raid to promote the series and the Bodog brand. He made light of the raid, claiming the police “ate half my buffet.” Ayre’s involvement with cryptocurrency and Bitcoin was brought to light when in June 2016, Andrew O’Hagan published a writer’s account of the background behind Craig Wright publicly asserting himself to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin cryptocurrency. He revealed Ayre to be part of the business operation behind this affair, possibly even its ultimate organizer and the financial backer of the $30 million acquisition and development of Craig Wright’s assets. In August 2017, Ayre acquired cryptocurrency news site and in September 2017 became a Bitcoin Cash (BCH) supporter. In July 2018, Ayre’s crypto-mining operations Coingeek became the world’s largest Bitcoin Cash miner and in November 2018, Ayre threw his support behind the new Bitcoin SV (Satoshi Vision) cryptocurrency, based on his belief that BSV is “a currency, not an asset just to be held, and has real utility.” Ayre predicted that the original Bitcoin (BTC) would “go to zero value as it has no utility, it doesn’t do anything and its supporters intentionally are anti-scaling.” A foremost philanthropic at heart, Ayre has supported charitable causes including the LA Lakers Youth Foundation and actress Shannon Elizabeth’s Animal Avengers organization. In 2005, Ayre formalized his charitable efforts and founded the Calvin Ayre Foundation which chose to focus on areas including animal welfare, the environment and education for the disadvantaged. The foundation has supported needy families, elementary schools and physical rehabilitation centers in Costa Rica, worked with groups to combat bear bike farming in Asia, and provided funding to enable individuals to pursue higher education in Antigua. The foundation has also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to relief efforts tied to the devastating earthquake in Haiti and provided assistance to communities ravaged by destructive typhoons in the Philippines. On November 14, 2019, Antigua and Barbuda Governor General His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams presented Ayre with the Faithful and Meritorious Service Cross award in recognition of Ayre’s philanthropic efforts and contributions to the country’s national development. Join Dustin and Calvin for a thought-provoking conversation on his business acumen, his involvement in the cryptocurrency space, and how he built a digital entertainment empire on his terms and persona. As Calvin says, “The lifestyle I sell is about 80% the reality of what I live.”

Sep 2020

29 min 2 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Matthew Zachary, cancer survivor, driven patient advocate and inspirational podcaster, and Co-Founder & CEO of OffScrip Media—the first audio broadcast network focused on consumer health and patient advocacy. In 1995, at age 21—a college senior with aspirations of becoming a concert pianist and composer—Matthew was diagnosed with brain cancer and told he likely had less than six months to live. Instantly, Matthew and his family were thrust into unfamiliar and terrifying territory and a cancer landscape much different than today. At the time, cancer resources for young adults were very few and far between, and 'surviving' meant living beyond five years. Although Matthew and his family were offered comfort through a small, fragmented community, they were not able to benefit from many of today's survivorship resources. Like millions of other families, they had to do things on their own, navigate uncharted waters, make best-guess decisions and hope for the best. To help and support other families going through similar situations, in 2007 Matthew founded Stupid Cancer, a progressive social enterprise that linked his worlds of music, cancer advocacy, consumer health marketing, and technology to ensure that people like him and his family would have the opportunity to benefit from community and support resources they only wished they had in 1995. Since its founding, Stupid Cancer has become the leader in the young adult cancer space, breaking all the rules and giving a voice to millions. The podcast that Matthew started, The Stupid Cancer Show, was the world's first health podcast and amassed a global listenership in the millions. Matthew was featured on the cover of Newsweek along with coverage in the NY Times and CBS Evening News. Due in large part to his work, the landscape for Adolescent Young Adult cancer has changed dramatically. In 2019, Matthew stepped down as Stupid Cancer's CEO and launched his latest venture, OffScrip Media, the first podcasting network at the intersection of patient advocacy, education, and digital health with a mission to build community, end isolation, amplify voice, and improve quality of life for patients and caregivers. OffScrip Media produces raw, unapologetic, no-BS content that talks about real problems real people have who struggle every day to endure their lives with dignity. His current podcast, Out of Patients, is being hailed as "the voice of patient advocacy." Next month, they will launch #BCSM, a three-part narrative podcast mini-series about the birth of the Breast Cancer Social Media Community and its impact as a global network of patients, caregivers, clinicians, and researchers dedicated to empowering those affected by breast cancer. Join Dustin and Matt for a heartfelt dialogue on his extraordinary journey and how through his own health struggles is on a mission to help others cope and be heard in their unique health journeys. As Matt says, “Join me on this new adventure as I continue to galvanize the patient voice, blow up the status quo, and make big dents in the universe. After all, we are all very fortunate to not have ordinary lives.”

Sep 2020

28 min 4 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Dr. Craig Wright, an Australian/Antiguan computer scientist, businessman, lecturer and inventor. Acknowledged by some as the creator of Bitcoin and author of the Bitcoin white paper under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, Dr. Wright is one of the pioneers behind blockchain technology and established nChain to allow the technology to flourish in its intended purpose. Born in Australia in October of 1970, Dr. Wright graduated from high school in 1987 from Padua College in Brisbane—Australia’s third most populous city—and then began his professional career as an adjunct academic and researcher at Charles Sturt University, where he was working on his PhD entitled "The Quantification of Information Systems Risk." Wright’s PhD in computer science from Charles Sturt University was awarded to him in February 2017. Dr. Wright has more than 25 years of experience in the fields of information technology and security, having worked for various companies, including OzEmail, K-Mart, the Australian Securities Exchange and Mahindra & Mahindra. He was involved in the design of the architecture for possibly the world's first online casino, Lasseter's Online (based in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, AU), which went online in 1999. In addition, he was the information systems manager for the accounting firm BDO Kendalls and was the CEO of the technology firm Hotwire Preemptive Intelligence Group (Hotwire PE), which planned to launch Denariuz Bank, the world's first bitcoin-based bank, though it encountered regulatory difficulties with the Australian Tax Office and failed in 2014. He has been a lecturer and researcher in computer science at Charles Sturt University, authored many articles, academic papers, and books, and frequently speaks publicly at conferences on IT, security, Bitcoin, and other topics relating to digital currency. As one of the most highly qualified digital forensics practitioners in the world, Dr. Wright has personally conducted in excess of 1,200 engagements related to IT security for more than 120 Australian and international organizations in the private and government sectors, including 15 Commonwealth states. Dr. Wright has held senior executive positions with companies focused on digital currency, digital forensics, and IT security. Among his positions, he was the vice president of the Centre for Strategic Cyberspace and Security Science (CSCSS; with a focus on collaborating government bodies in securing cyber systems. Dr. Wright also worked on systems that protected the Australian Stock Exchange and has trained Australian government and corporate departments in SCADA security, cyber warfare, and cyber defense. Many of Dr. Wright’s research findings and publications continue to be presented at academic and business conferences. As the Chief Scientist at nChain, Dr. Wright oversees the scientific functions of the company, including basic and applied research projects and the development of new processes, technologies, and products. He leads a team of world-class blockchain engineers and researchers who strive to deliver cutting-edge solutions to global clients. Among his many achievements are industry certifications: GSE CISSP, CISA, CISM, CCE, GCFA, GLEG, GREM, and GSPA, and in addition to his PhD from Charles Sturt University, he has a Doctor of Theology (ThD) from United Theological College awarded in 2003, a master’s degree in Statistics, and a master’s degree in International Commercial Law. Dr. Wright is currently a candidate for two additional PhDs: in Law at the University of Leicester and Applied Mathematics at University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. Join Dustin and Dr. Craig Wright for an open conversation on the pitfalls and triumphs of his career in this emerging world-changing phenomenon—blockchain and cryptocurrency—and hear how he ignores the naysayers and propels forward to educate our world.

Sep 2020

31 min 46 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Jon Erwin, renowned American Christian-film director and producer, screenwriter and author. Jon, along with his brother Andrew have had four feature films all opening in the top-ten movies in America and collectively grossing more than $100 million at the U.S. box office. They are also among only eight directors to receive the incredibly rare A+ CinemaScore twice, joining a list that includes Stephen Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis. Jon Erwin was born in Birmingham, Alabama and is the son of Senator Hank Erwin and grandson of Medal of Honor recipient and World War II veteran, Henry Eugene "Red" Erwin, Sr. Jon began his career—as a teenager—working as a camera operator for ESPN in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Soon after he embarked on a fulltime career as a sports cameraman covering University of Alabama games all over the country—working with ESPN College Football Primetime, FOX NFL, the NBA, and covered events like the X Games and the Super Bowl. In 2002, Jon and his brother Andrew started their own production company, venturing into creating commercials, documentaries, and music videos. They found enormous success in the world of music, directing music videos and producing concerts and television programs for platinum artists like Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns, Switchfoot, Skillet, and others. The brothers received eleven nominations and were honored with wins for Music Video of the Year at the GMA Dove Awards for three consecutive years. The Erwin Brothers have also produced and directed several documentaries, including the multi-award winning 9/11story, The Cross And The Towers; a music documentary with Third Day, Live Relations; a documentary filmed in the Galapagos Islands, The Mysterious Islands; and the international dramatic short-film series, God Provides. In 2010 the Erwin Brothers shifted their focus and began exclusively developing dramatic feature films—setting a level of expectation for authenticity and storytelling that is a cut above. Their debut feature, released by Samuel Goldwyn, was the coming-of-age OCTOBER BABY, which opened as a top-ten movie in America and eventually earned more than $5 million at the box office. Their second feature film, MOMS’ NIGHT OUT, was released in 2014 by Sony’s AFFIRM Films and Provident Films—a family comedy starring Sarah Drew, Patricia Heaton, Sean Astin, and Trace Adkins. In 2015 they released their third feature film, WOODLAWN, which starred Jon Voight, Sean Astin, and newcomer Caleb Castille, that was met with critical acclaim and received an A+ CinemaScore. Their 2018 music biopic, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, shocked the entertainment industry to become the number one independent movie of 2018 and the highest grossing film in the history of its distributor, collecting more than $83 million in box office revenue on a production budget of just $7 million. In 2018, the brothers and their filmmaking collaborator Kevin Downes announced the formation of Kingdom Story Company, a production company specializing in Christian films that will be distributed through Lionsgate. Some will be directed by the Erwins, while other movies will use newcomers and other veteran directors. Jon is also proud to announce the release of his first book—available on August 18th—BEYOND VALOR: A World War II Story of Extraordinary Heroism, Sacrificial Love, and a Race against Time, co-written with William Doyle—an award-winning New York Times bestselling author and television producer. This dramatic biography of Red Erwin—Jon’s grandfather— is supported by 15 years of research, which includes interviews with fellow crewmen, oral histories, and Erwin family correspondence and press interviews. Readers learn about Red Erwin’s exceptional life, from growing up as the son of a coal miner in Birmingham, Alabama, becoming the man of the house at age 10 when his father died, to joining the army reserve as an aviation cadet. Red Erwin’s dream was to become a pilot, but he struggled with landings and instead accepted a reassignment as a radio operator, which led to the fateful journey. At the same time, readers follow as Erwin meets Martha Elizabeth “Betty” Starnes at church, the woman who would become the love of his life -- the woman who stayed by his side for fifty-seven years, through more than forty surgeries, through Erwin’s pain and despair, his reentry into civilian life and the start of his career at the Veterans Administration, where he dedicated himself to helping veterans for the next thirty-seven years. Readers discover that, despite his broken body, Erwin lived the rest of his life to the fullest. He thrived personally and professionally, raised four children, was patriotic and cherished representing the Medal of Honor, while most importantly, remaining strong in his faith. “Today my brother and I are partners in a thriving entertainment business, and we strive to be of service to others by telling stories that have the power to uplift and inspire people,” writes Jon. “In our day-to-day work, the memory and lessons of Red Erwin inspire us with the ideals of endurance and perseverance, of pushing ourselves toward something that we believe is right and worth fighting for. The difference between success and failure can be when an individual chooses to quit. And I’ve found that the people who are successful are the people who can go above and beyond. I learned that from my grandfather.”  Beyond Valor is the miraculous true story of a soldier's unspeakable heroism, a woman's unfailing love, the faith that secured them all, as told through the lens of his loving grandson. Join Dustin and Jon for a candid interview on Jon’s successful film career and listen how his faith is instrumental in the stories he tells. Jon says, “My brother and I tell stories that showcase the power of the gospel … I think that the values that we hold dear as Christians are immensely appealing — things like sacrifice and virtue and honor and destiny and things like that … and when they're presented correctly, they're appealing to everybody."

Aug 2020

37 min 48 sec

This episode of Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough, You Can Be Tougher” podcast will feature Dr. David Ireland, pastor, diversity consultant, coach, author, religious leader and businessman. Dr. David Ireland is founder and senior pastor of Christ Church, a 9,000-member multisite congregation in North Jersey representing over 70 nationalities. Former diversity consultant to the National Basketball Association, Dr. Ireland has led chapel services for the New York Giants, New York Jets, and at the U.S. Pentagon. Ireland has traveled to more than 75 nations and built a reputation of teaching culturally relevant messages that inspire and empower his global audiences. He is a well-respected columnist contributing to such media outlets like Fox News, Huffington Post, and Patheos. Dr. Ireland is the author of over 20 books including Raising a Child Who Prays. Ireland has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows including The Dr. Phil Show, The CBS Evening News, The 700 Club, and Focus on the Family. Through his community development corporation, he offers a home for victims of domestic violence. Join Dustin and Dr. Ireland for a candid talk on life & purpose and hear about the people and experiences that molded him to lead and inspire others.

Jul 2020

38 min 57 sec

Robertson, 90, founded the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in 1960. The network began by broadcasting on a part-time basis out of a UHF station in Portsmouth, Va. Today, CBN is a media powerhouse, headquartered in Virginia Beach, Va. It delivers original programming in 70 languages to approximately 200 countries. The network features “The 700 Club,” a magazine-style show that’s one of the longest-running television seriesin the United States. It reaches an average of a million viewers each day. Robertson makes weekly appearances on the show and offers commentary about headline news items of the day. In addition to starting CBN, Robertson launched the Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation, an international nonprofit relief and development organization. He also started International Family Entertainment Inc., Regent University, as well the American Center for Law and Justice. And, in 1989, a year after he ended his campaign for the 1988 Republican party presidential nomination, he created the Christian Coalition, a political organization that advances conservative issues. He headed that group until 2002. In 2007, Robertson stepped down from his day-to-day management role at CBN, as his son Gordon assumed a more prominent position there. The elder Robertson, however, continued his involvement with “The 700 Club.” Born in Lexington, Va., Robertson is a graduate (magna cum laude) of his hometown Washington and Lee University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp Reserve while in college andlater served as assistant adjutant of the First Marine Division in Korea. He was named a first lieutenant when he returned home. Robertson next earned a law degree at Yale University Law School in 1955, and four years later, a graduate divinity degree at the New York Theological Seminary. He has authored 19 books. Three have, or are set to, come out this year. They include: • “True Faith: Embracing Adversity to Live in God’s Light,”   • “Ten Laws for Success: Keys to Win in Work, Family, and Finance,” and   • “I Have Walked With the Living God.”   Politics always held a special calling for Robertson. His father, A. Willis Robertson, had a 34-year career as a U.S. congressman and senator from Virginia. The family’s ancestry includes Benjamin Harrison, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and governor of Virginia. Harrison’s son, William Henry Harrison,and great-grandson, Benjamin Harrison, both became U.S. presidents. Pat Robertson and his wife Dede Robertson have four children, 14 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.They reside in Virginia Beach.    

Jul 2020

45 min 39 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Marco Greenberg, published author, strategic communications guru, and president of New York City based Thunder11. As an advisor to several of the most successful founders of startups, corporate CEOs, venture capitalists, and members of the Forbes Billionaires List across many industries, Marco Greenberg has seen firsthand that those who climb to the pinnacle of success in their fields do not follow the standard rule book, and instead are driven by their innate, instinctive, intuitive, and yes, primitive traits. In PRIMITIVE: Tapping the Primal Drive That Powers the World’s Most Successful People, Greenberg brings together neuroscience, organizational psychology and case studies of people who have leveraged their primal instincts and have demonstrated how knowing when to ignore conventions can maximize results in work and in life. PRIMITIVE is essential reading for executives and managers who seek to understand the implicit motivations and personalities of their employees rather than writing off mavericks and rebels as “not the right cultural fit” and “not team players.” It is for innovators and entrepreneurs who want to unleash their disruptive, counter-intuitive, and creative spirits; for the dreamers and the doers; for the new crop of college graduates looking to find their way amid AI, machine learning and growing uncertainty, and finally for the mid-career company men and women who want to break out of burnout, find new opportunities during hard times, and pivot into a job and career they love. The book outlines a roadmap for making select “primitive moves,” allowing even the most civilized among us the ability to leapfrog ahead and find more meaning and fulfillment in the work they do. Join Dustin and Marco for a candid talk on life & purpose and hear about the people and experiences that molded him to lead and inspire others. As Marco says, “Gone are the days of following a typical “civilized” career path in a conventional office environment.  COVID-19 has sent the worldwide workforce home en-masse, just as the gig economy liberated professionals from traditional career trajectories. We are living in an unprecedented time, in which “work” is being dramatically redefined. It is more critical than ever to reconsider how people define and achieve success, which organizational structures and “best practices” actually empower employees and which de-motivate, how to build a successful team that balances the personalities and strengths of each member without devolving into “group think,” and how to tap into your own primal instincts to build a meaningful”

Jun 2020

32 min 15 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Lonnie Mayne, internationally recognized high-performance and top-rated keynote speaker, published author, executive consultant, and founder of Red Shoes Living, Inc. As the founder and pioneer of Red Shoes Living, Inc., Lonnie employs his Red Shoes Living doctrine—an award-winning philosophy and five-step framework that leadership teams are deploying organization-wide to engage employees, win the battle for top talent, create standout customer experiences, and build meaningful cultures that people get inspired to be a part of. Lonnie spent 30+ years working with leading brands across more than 25 industries and was the president of InMoment, one of the largest customer experience technology companies in the world, where his team grew the company 817% in a short period of time using Red Shoes Living. Lonnie has worked with many of the top brands in the world including Nike, Bose, Saks Fifth Avenue, Microsoft, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Transamerica, Point Click Care, CBRE, Colliers, Denny’s, GOCA, McDonald’s, Impartner, Inc., Montage, The British Citizen Awards, Express, Enterprise, and many more. Recognized as a global authority in high-performance leadership training with a passion for inspiring others to stand out in how they work and live, Lonnie presented at the prestigious British Citizen Awards held at the Palace of Westminster hosted by Lord Dholakia. He also leads the Spartan-X Leadership Series and is a founding patron of the American Citizen Award, which recognizes everyday heroes. On a mission to spread the message that people matter, he is passionate about philanthropic initiatives for mental health awareness, anti-bullying, and suicide prevention. Lonnie lives in photogenic Park City, Utah, and is an avid adventurer. From helicopter skiing to Spartan racing, Lonnie puts himself out there in all aspects of his life. He loves spending time with his friends and family who are also passionate about living life to the fullest and making a positive difference along the way. Join Dustin and Lonnie for a candid talk on life & purpose and hear about the people and experiences that molded him to lead and inspire others. As Lonnie says, “When I was just a kid, I remember hearing the cheers for my pro-wrestling dad rise from the stands. But every time he stepped out of the ring, he’d shake off his Moondog Mayne persona to connect with his fans on a human level. After he passed away, I spent my summers traveling with my uncle who was a CEO “turnaround guy” and my personal business mentor … and watched him get the best out of others by treating them like people first and employees or customers second.”

Jun 2020

35 min 57 sec

This episode of Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough, You Can Be Tougher” podcast will feature Mary Wilson, one of the founding members of The Supremes, the illustrious Motown singing group that rocketed to the top of the pop music charts during the 1960s. Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, were the three teens from the projects in Detroit who became known in Motown circles as “the girls,” the trio that made up the Supremes. By 1970, after the Supremes were at the vanguard of contemporary music – often going head-to-head in the charts with the British invasion bands – Diana and Flo had moved on from the group. Mary, however, with a revolving cast of other singers, stayed on as the lone original member of the Supremes until the group ended its trailblazing run in 1977. Over the better part of two decades, the Supremes generated a dozen no. 1 hits and 20 tunes that reached the top 10. In 1988, the original Supremes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as part of a class that included the Beach Boys, the Beatles, the Drifters and Bob Dylan. Mary, now 76, has completed several books that are narratives of her life with the Supremes. “Supreme Glamour,” which came out in September 2019, is the most recent. In addition to being a retrospective of the group – both on- and off-stage – the book features more than 400 photos. Several dozen photos, taken at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles of an exhibit of outfits worn by the Supremes, depict the group’s penchant for sleek, beaded and sequins gowns. “Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme” (1986) and “Supreme Faith: Someday We’ll Be Together” (1990) also recount Mary’s perspective of the journey of the Supremes, from their modest beginnings to mega-stardom. Mary has continued to tour and perform around the world as a solo artist. Additionally, last fall, she tapped into the choreographic skills she used as a member of the Supremes to compete on ABC-TV’s “Dancing With the Stars.”   And, less than two years ago, Mary was part of a successful music-industry effort to eliminate a loophole in copyright law that denied compensation to musical artists who recorded their songs before Feb. 15, 1972. The Music Modernization Act received bipartisan Congressional approval and was signed into law in the fall of 2018. Mary has retained a prominent role in advancing global humanitarian causes, such as ending hunger and promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. Colin Powell, as secretary of State during the George W. Bush administration, appointed her to be a cultural ambassador for the United States. She has also nurtured a keen interest in advocacy issues for children. Today, Mary has a daughter and a son, and 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She lost another son in a 1994 car accident. Life’s tough – you can be tougher, like Mary Wilson, a legendary performer and the epitome of vibrancy, resiliency and grace.

May 2020

22 min 31 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week is sponsored by Mint Home Loans and features Jerry Springer, renowned American television host, politician, news presenter, actor, producer, musician, and former lawyer. Springer revolutionized daytime TV with his ultra-popular show, The Jerry Springer Show, a daytime talk show featuring controversial topics and outrageous guest behavior. Springer currently hosts a courtroom show called Judge Jerry where he presides over actual legal disputes. Gerald Norman “Jerry” Springer was born on February 13, 1944 in London, England to Jewish refugees—Margot Kallmann, a bank clerk and Richard Springer, owner of a shoe shop—who escaped Nazi Germany to avoid persecution. Other family members, including his paternal grandmother, were not as fortunate as they perished in concentration camps during the holocaust. In January 1949, Jerry’s family immigrated to the United States, settling in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York. He attended Forest Hills High School and later earned a B.A. degree from Tulane University in 1965, majoring in political science; and subsequently earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago in 1968. One of his earliest memories about current and political events was when he was 12 and watching the 1956 Democratic National Convention on television where he saw and was impressed by John F. Kennedy. That interest in politics led him to work on the presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy, after graduating law school. After Kennedy’s assassination, he joined the Cincinnati law firm of Frost & Jacobs (now Frost Brown Todd) and then became a partner in the law firm of Grinker, Sudman & Springer (from 1973 to 1985). In the early 1970s Jerry embarked on his own political career in Ohio, serving on Cincinnati’s city council. Not without some career lows, he was forced to resign from the council over a controversial issue, although he regained his seat at the next election. Despite being a liberal in relatively conservative Cincinnati, he was elected mayor of the city in 1977 (served 1977–78). After a failed bid in the early 1980’s for the Democratic nomination for governor of Ohio he decided to pursue television journalism and began work as a reporter at a local television station. He later became anchor and was the recipient of seven Emmy Awards for commentaries during his tenure. In 1991 he branched out into talk shows with the debut of The Jerry Springer Show. Initially centered on political issues—guests included Oliver North and Jesse Jackson, and topics included homelessness and gun politics—the program struggled in its first few seasons. In early 1994, the show underwent a complete overhaul as Springer and his new producer, Richard Dominick, revamped the show’s format to garner higher ratings. Guests were everyday people confronted on a television stage by controversial situations that often promoted shouting or violence on stage. Although criticized by some as being staged and condemned by many political and community leaders as “trash TV,” it proved immensely popular with television viewers and received substantial ratings and much attention. By 1998, it was beating The Oprah Winfrey Show in many cities, and was reaching more than 6.7 million viewers. The show even inspired an opera—debuting in London in 2003—which won a Laurence Olivier Award for best new musical; and was subsequently staged in various U.S. cities. Other career highlights include being named “One of the 10 Most Fascinating People” in 1998; an appearance on the popular show Dancing With the Stars in 2006; Winner, 2008 Fox Reality Channel Really Award for “Favorite Host” for America’s Got Talent; playing Billy Flynn in the Broadway theatrical production of “Chicago;” host of the 2008 Miss Universe Pageant. In 1998 Jerry starred in the movie Ringmaster, which was based on a Springer-esque television show. His other film credits include Citizen Verdict (2003) and The Defender (2004), in which he played the president of the United States. He has also made several TV appearances as himself and has acted in several television sitcoms. His autobiography, Ringmaster! (written with Laura Morton), was published in 1998. And as a self-described “country singer-songwriter,” Jerry has opened for Billy Ray Cyrus and has performed at actor Johnny Depp’s notorious club, the Viper Room. Springer is married and is a lifelong New York Yankees fan. Join Dustin and Jerry for a candid talk on his successful and sometimes controversial career and how he maintains clarity and peace amongst criticism and judgement. As Jerry says, “I think technology has changed the way we see things. Human behavior has not changed in the last 3,000 years. There is nothing that has ever been on our show that isn’t in the Bible, that isn’t in literature, that isn’t in Shakespeare.”

May 2020

32 min 42 sec

Life’s Tough – Joe de Sena is Tougher, transforming lives through Spartan—the world’s fastest growing sports movement and lifestyle! Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Joe de Sena, Founder & CEO of Spartan, serial entrepreneur, New York Times best-selling author, and highly sought-after keynote speaker. Spartan is one of the fastest growing sports movements and world’s leading endurance brand —with more than one million annual global participants at more than 270 events spanning across 45 countries. Joe De Sena, born on January 2, 1969, grew up in Howard Beach, Queens, with his mother Jean, a yoga aficionado, and his father, Ralph, a business owner. Demonstrating his entrepreneurial drive at a very young age, Joe—by his pre-teens—built a small business around selling fireworks, and then a t-shirt sales business. Later, as a teenager, he began a pool cleaning business, where he earned 750 customers in his local area. He then built a multimillion-dollar pool and construction business in college. After college he began a career on Wall Street, working at a brokerage firm as an equities and derivatives trader. During this time he engaged in various outdoor activities ranging from multiple Ironman races, to the Iditarod by foot. Joe competed in any extreme sports adventure he could find, testing his mental and physical endurance against nature. His racing resume is the stuff of legend—over 50 ultra-events overall and 14 Ironman events in one year alone. Following his successful career on Wall Street, Joe moved his family to Pittsfield, Vermont to operate an organic farm, a bed and breakfast, and a general store for hikers. It was here his passion for ultramarathons, adventure races, and endurance events grew even greater and thus sparked the idea for Spartan. Determined and steadfast, he set his sights on ripping 100 million people off their couches by creating the Spartan movement and lifestyle. With more than one million annual global participants at more than 270 obstacle course and Trail Running events across more than 45 countries, Spartan offers heats for all fitness levels and ages, from beginner to elite and kids as young as four years old. The brand has transformed more than seven million lives since it was founded in 2010—and as Joe puts it “he has 93 million more to go.” In addition to race events, the Spartan lifestyle encompasses all the tools one needs to transform their lives including training, nutrition plans and content, an Spartan Edge, an online learning platform and an extensive line of training and racing merchandise footwear, apparel and equipment. Amongst being a contributor to publications including Entrepreneur and the host of the Spartan Up! Podcast—on which he interviews various public figures on their achievements—Joe is also a New York Times Best Selling Author of “Spartan Up” and “Spartan Fit,” and recently released his third book, “The Spartan Way.” As a popular keynote speaker, he has parlayed the teachings of his Spartan Principals into the SpartanX Leadership Forum, a series of events in which participants collaborate to solve challenges alongside business leaders while learning to overcome mental and physical obstacles. Join Dustin and Joe for a stirring conversation on Joe’s journey and hear how de developed Spartan and the Spartan philosophy. Joe says, “Humans are meant to jump, run, crawl, and climb. The Spartan philosophy is simple: push harder, do more with less, be healthy. Sweat. It’s just about being comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

May 2020

31 min 29 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Diamond Dallas Page (DDP), an American semi-retired professional wrestler, fitness instructor, motivational speaker, and actor. DDP’s unrelenting drive and ambition would lead him on an inspirational journey from three-time world wrestling champion—for WCW, WWF (now WWE), TNA and AEW—to his current endeavor of inspiring others to “Own Your Life” through his life-altering DDPYoga—a cutting-edge workout that incorporates the basic principles of yoga blended with elements of strength conditioning, Pilates and mixed martial arts. Born Page Joseph Falkinburg, on April 5, 1956 in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, DDP was the eldest of three children and the son of Sylvia and Page Falkinburg, Sr. At age three his parents divorced and DDP being raised by his father till the age of eight, whereby his father took him to live with his grandmother, who then raised him. DDP was an energetic kid, who would barrel through his grandma’s kitchen on his tricycle, swing from chandeliers, and cannonball pool parties. Growing up dyslexic, he also faced many challenges throughout his childhood and educational years. His steadfastness and determination helped him reach several athletic goals during his twenties and early thirties. But that did not stop him from striving for the unattainable. DDP decided that he could and would do something that had never been done before… in any sport. Approaching 36, he became the oldest rookie in history and started wrestling at an age at which most athletes reflect on their careers. DDP put in all on the line and on the mat to stay healthy enough to climb from the bottom of the ladder to the main event. His incredible work ethic, training regimen and preventative maintenance along with unmatched personal focus and determination enabled him to battle the hands of time and stay healthy enough to wrestle with men half his age for years to come. His uncanny ability to create his character along with story lines that fans could relate to propelled him to national notoriety and made him one of the hottest merchandising commodities in professional wrestling. During his fourteen-year career, he captivated audiences and became a three-time world wrestling champion. Highly publicized and financially successful pay-per view and network feuds with wrestling giants such as Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Hulk Hogan and Bill Goldberg became legendary for hardcore wrestling fans, but DDP also was able to bridge the gap between sports entertainment wrestling and mainstream entertainment. As networks, actors and professional athletes became more interested in the fan base and ratings that professional wrestling was attracting, DDP became the unlikely tag team partner of late-night talk show host Jay Leno, basketball icon Karl Malone and movie star David Arquette. Those pay-per-view and charity match appearances versus Hollywood Hulk Hogan and perennial “bad boy” Dennis Rodman are memorable to both fans and non-fans alike. To cap off an illustrious career, on March 31, 2017, DDP was officially inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2017. Along with the championship titles and main events came pain and injury in the form of torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders, and a torn meniscus in his left knee. While performing wrestling stunt sequences during the making of the movie “Ready To Rumble”, DDP severely damaged his back when he suffered ruptures of his L4 and L5 discs. Now in his mid-forties, it seemed that he should listen to all those who suggested that either surgery or retirement would ease the pain and be the best solution to the loss of mobility his injuries had caused. Knowing that his positive attitude was equal to the challenge of rehabilitation, DDP decided to search for a better answer. Along with the support of doctors and physical therapists, he became an expert at healing his own body—studying and experimenting with chiropractics, applied kinesiology, nutrition, organic juicing and supplementation to create the perfect mix of wellness for a person who was trying to, as he put it, to put “Humpty Dumpty back together again.” His quest led him back to the mat…except this time it was a yoga mat. After studying the positive healing effects and increased flexibility that yoga positions provided, DDP became a devotee and adapted the discipline to meet his own needs. Out of necessity and to help heal and inspire others, he developed DDPYoga—a comprehensive, creative and motivational approach to longevity and better understanding of health and fitness that is presented in 20, 30 and 45 minute workouts. Join Dustin and DDP for a gritty and inspiring conversation on DDP’s life journey and what motivates him and allows him to inspire others and hear how and why he developed DDPYoga. DDP says, “Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to learn how to eat properly? Do you want to lower your stress? Do you want to become more flexible and get stronger? No matter what your goal is…DDPYoga does it all! DDPYoga is not just a workout or an eating plan; it’s a lifestyle.”

May 2020

55 min 30 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Lou Ferrigno, an American actor, motivational speaker, fitness trainer/consultant, and celebrated professional bodybuilder (retired). As a bodybuilder, Lou won an IFBB Mr. America title and two consecutive IFBB Mr. Universetitles; and as an actor, he is best known for portraying the title role in the CBS television series, The Incredible Hulk. Lou was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Victoria and Matty Ferrigno—an Italian-American police lieutenant. Soon after birth, Lou suffered a series of ear infections and lost 75% of his hearing (though his condition was not diagnosed until he was three years old). Wearing hearing aids since the age of five, Lou credits his hearing loss in shaping his sense of determination in his youth, saying "I think that if I wasn't hard of hearing I wouldn't be where I am now. Early on, as a youngster it was difficult, but I'm not ashamed to talk about it because many people have misconceptions about hearing loss; like who has hearing loss and what it's like not to hear, so I do talk about it. I think my hearing loss helped create a determination within me to be all that I can be—and gave me a certain strength of character too.” Undeterred by what many would perceive as a disadvantage, Lou threw himself into athletics (predominantly weightlifting and bodybuilding) and started weight training at age 13, citing bodybuilder and Hercules-star Steve Reeves as one of his role models. He was also a fan of the Hercules films that starred Reeves and would later himself play Hercules. Lou’s other childhood heroes included Spider-Man and the Hulk—which he would also play later on television. Throughout his early bodybuilding career Lou worked as a sheet metal worker in a Brooklyn factory. Citing dangerous work, he left after a friend and co-worker accidentally cut off his hand. Through faith in himself and unrelenting determination to be among the best in the sport, Lou won his first major bodybuilding titles in 1973 – IFBB Mr. America and IFBB Mr. Universe. Lou was only 21 when he won his first Mr. Universe title, a Guinness Book world record that stands to this day. In 1974, he came in second on his first attempt at the Mr. Olympia competition. He came in third the following year, which was documented in the now-iconic bodybuilding documentary, Pumping Iron. 1977 was a turning point in Lou’s life with the release of Pumping Iron, which brought the attention of television producer Kenneth Johnson (Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, V, Alien Nation), who was seeking the right person to portray the larger-than-life comic book superhero, The Incredible Hulk. With his 6′ 5″, 285 lb. frame, Lou was the biggest professional bodybuilder at the time. He auditioned for and won the part, beating out fellow bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Lou continued playing the Hulk role until 1981, as it was a huge ratings success that spawned several TV movies after the initial TV series completed its run. It also kept Lou busy for several years as an actor in films that included Hercules (1983), Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989) and Cage (1989). On May 3, 1980, Lou married psychotherapist Carla Green, who then also began serving as his manager and later became a personal trainer herself. Along with their three children, Shana, Louie and Brent, they are endearingly referred to as “The First Family of Bodybuilding”—living and promoting a fit and healthy lifestyle. In his admirable desire to give back to his community, in February 2006, Lou was sworn in as both a Los Angeles County, California Deputy Sheriff, as well as a San Luis Obispo County Deputy Sheriff. Join Dustin and Lou for an honest and lighthearted conversation on Lou’s multi-faceted career and how he overcame adversity at a young age to rise strong, take control and lead and inspire others. “It always fascinates me how I can connect with the people…teach them about leadership,” Ferrigno says. “Take care of your body…exercise…feel good about yourself. Be disciplined like myself as a body builder…so that effects other things you do in your life.”

Apr 2020

15 min

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Stephen & Mara Klemich, founders of Heartstyles—a company that specializes in understanding human behaviors and developing strategies for individuals and organizations to alter their thinking towards making better decisions to achieve their goals quicker. Through its groundbreaking Heartstyles Indicator—an academically validated tool that measures a person’s character and behaviors—they build a Personal Development Guide, outlining the steps someone needs to take and optimize good behaviors to realize their goals. This transformative tool—now available in 25 languages—has positively impacted over 100,000 individuals around the world, from Russia to China and Romania to India, through different cultures, economies, and belief systems. Stephen Klemich, CEO and co-founder of Heartstyles, is a longtime leadership consultant and speaker and has worked with teams across the globe, from small companies to multinational corporations such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Unilever, AMEX, and PwC. An avid mountain climber and guide who has summitted the Matterhorn, Mount Blanc, Mt Rosa, Eiger, Monch, Jungrfau, and peaks in the Himalayas and New Zealand, in 2019 Stephen climbed 6 peaks in the Italian Alps. He has always viewed mountaineering as an important part of his own character development journey, and has incorporated lessons he has learned in the mountains into many of the Heartstyles programs. Mara Klemich, PhD, co-founder of Heartstyles, is a consulting psychologist, with degrees in clinical psychology and neuropsychology from the University of Sydney and the University of Paris. Her career began in hospital systems in those cities, and she spent more than ten years as a clinical neuropsychologist working in the areas of alcohol-related brain damage, neurology and neurosurgery, traumatic brain injuries, psychiatry and neuropsychiatry, eating disorders, pain management, and trauma counseling in emergency departments. She also practiced as a forensic neuropsychologist in the criminal system, working on some of the highest profile criminal cases in Australia. “Have you ever wondered why you continue to make the same kinds of decisions over and over again, and with the same results? Have you ever regretted how you handled something, even though you knew what the proper response should have been? Have you ever had trouble getting through to someone, or felt misunderstood yourself?” In their pioneering book, released on January 7 of this year by HarperBusiness, Stephen & Mara Klemich detail the radical new approach they created to identifying what drives human behavior—why we do the things we do—and they have harnessed those principles into a new and unique approach geared towards steering away from self-limiting fear and ego-driven behaviors that hold us back, thus unlocking our true potential. In ABOVE THE LINE: Living and Leading with Heart, they examine how the heart shapes our character, and they have identified four universal character principles—humility, love, pride and fear—which drive human behavior. For 30 years, Stephen and Mara have studied, coached, practiced and researched these four universal principles with the goal of helping people find the best versions of themselves in both their personal and professional life. The centerpiece of their approach is the Heartstyles Indicator that acts as a compass for life, steering us towards making better decisions using the above-the-line principles, while steering clear of undesirable, below-the-line behaviors: Join Dustin, Stephen & Mara for a candid conversation on the behaviors that shape our everyday thinking and lives, and on their own personal journeys. “Every book on successful habits will tell you that we always have a choice in how we react or respond,” say Stephen & Mara. “We believe, though, that until you recognize why you do what you do, how the heart and the brain work together to shape your behavior, it will be hard to choose differently… and hope that our book will guide you through understanding the “why” and help point you toward discovering the answers to your own unique questions.”

Apr 2020

45 min 36 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast & YouTube Video this week features Tim Draper, legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist and founder of Draper Associates, DFJ, and the Draper Venture Network—a global network of venture capital funds. Often regarded as one of the most successful venture capitalists in the world, Tim is a major proponent of Bitcoin and decentralization. Tim Draper, forward-thinking and renowned venture capitalist, is a graduate of both Stanford University (BS in Electrical Engineering) and Harvard University (MBA) and holds two honorary doctorates from The International University and Trinity College of Dublin. In 1985, Tim founded Draper Associates—a seed stage venture capital firm that helps revolutionary entrepreneurs impact the world by propelling their businesses to greatness and directing their visions through funding, education, media and government reform. Some of his most prominent investments include Skype, Twitter, Baidu, Hotmail, Tesla, SpaceX, DocuSign, Coinbase, Robinhood,,, AngelList, SolarCity, Ring, Cruise Automation, YeePay and Focus Media. A leading spokesperson for Bitcoin, Blockchain, ICOs, and cryptocurrencies—and one of the earliest investors in the internet—Tim expects that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will be the primary means of payment in five years. Tim won the US Marshall’s auction in 2014 (where he bid on 30,000 Bitcoins) and has invested in over 50 crypto companies as well as leads investments in Coinbase, Ledger, Tezos, and Bancor, among others. In 1996, he invented “viral marketing”—a marketing method for exponentially spreading an electronic service from customer to customer. This was instrumental to the successes of Hotmail, Skype, and other online applications. In his notable mission to promote entrepreneurship, Tim created Draper University of Heroes, a residential and online school based in San Mateo, California, to help extraordinary people accomplish their life missions. School alumni have gone on to build 350 companies including crypto leaders, QTUM, Spacecash, DataWallet, and Credo. He also started Innovate Your State, a non-profit dedicated to crowdsource innovation in government; and BizWorld, a non-profit that teaches young children to navigate the world of business and entrepreneurship. Regularly featured on major networks, in publications, and in social media as a proponent for entrepreneurship, innovative governance, free markets, and Bitcoin, Tim has received numerous awards and honors including the World Entrepreneurship Forum’s “Entrepreneur of the World.” He has also been highly ranked on several notable lists including one of the top 100 most powerful people in finance by Worth Magazine; the top 20 most influential people in Crypto by Crypto Weekly; #1 most networked venture capitalist by AlwaysOn; #7 on the Forbes Midas List; and #48 most influential Harvard Alum. Join Dustin and Tim for a colorful dialogue on entrepreneurship, Bitcoin, risk-taking and learn from one of the greatest venture capitalists of our time.

Feb 2020

34 min 20 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features John Tesh, internationally celebrated recording artist, composer, concert pianist and national radio/television personality. His Intelligence for Your Life radio show currently airs on 350 stations and reaches 14 million people each week. John was born on July 9, 1952 in Garden City, New York, on Long Island. Proficient on the piano and trumpet from the age of six, he was named to the New York State Symphonic Orchestra in high school. He also enjoyed playing the organ in several rock bands during his adolescent years. As a communications and music major at North Carolina State University, John got suspended for forging a professor’s signature (while trying to change majors) and soon after found himself living in a tent in a North Carolina public park (after being kicked out of his family home). Utilizing his savvy communications skills, he talked his way into a part-time job at a local radio station and parlayed it into a meteoric career in journalism: from serving as an award-winning CBS News correspondent in Nashville and New York City, to hosting network coverage of international sporting events (1992 and 1996 Olympic Games, Tour de France, Wimbledon), and eventually becoming co-host of Entertainment Tonight that lasted a decade. An aspiring musician, John’s self-produced first album sold a mere one thousand copies. Determined with unwavering tenacity, he and his wife, Connie Sellecca, took an outrageous gamble and huge financial risk and created a television special, John Tesh: Live at Red Rocks—that resulted in one of the most successful Public Television concert specials in history. From the extraordinary success of the special, John left his seven-figure TV job and launched into a full-time music career that earned him six Emmy Awards, 4 Gold albums, 8 million records sold, and continuous sold out concert tours. With endless drive and their passion to give back, John and Connie then created a self-syndicated radio show, Intelligence for Your Life, a lifestyle program—airing on over three hundred radio stations and heard by tens of millions of people each week—that offers advice and expert opinions on topics such as health, finance, relationships, careers, and family. In 2015, John overcame a terminal cancer diagnosis by relying on the steadfast determination and grit that have been the hallmarks of his life and career. In his upcoming memoir, Relentless: Unleashing a Life of Purpose, Grit, and Faith (releasing February 25, 2020), John reveals his secret to overcoming the many pivotal challenges he’s faced, in the hope that readers will find inspiration and guidance they can apply to overcome their own struggles. Combining inspirational stories with a lifetime of wisdom, John’s memoir encourages readers with the powerful message that their challenges and failures can become learning opportunities and the fuel for persevering to personal greatness. Most importantly, readers learn of John’s strong faith in the healing power of Scripture and how that has shaped his life—especially the moment when he and Connie discovered divine healing and how that ultimately contributed to his victory over cancer. John and Connie live in Los Angeles, California. John’s accolades include induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame; winner of the Syndicated Personality/Show of the Year award by Radio & Records magazine for his radio show; a Keyboard Magazine Award; and owning the unique distinction of composing what critics have hailed as “the greatest sports theme in television history” for NBC Sports basketball. In sticking to his philanthropic character, John’s live television concerts, including the inspiring “Live at Red Rocks,” have raised millions for Public Television. Join Dustin and John for a genuine and profound conversation on the pivotal moments in life that defines us and our purpose. “Having people see my collection of inexplicable successes and failures” John says, “hopefully will help them find inspiration and practical guidance in my personal road map—as unplanned and haphazardly drawn as it was at times.”

Feb 2020

58 min 51 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Ben Kane, bestselling novelist, specializing in historical fiction. He is best known for The Forgotten Legion, Spartacus and Hannibalbook series. Eleven of his thirteen novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers, and his books have been published in thirteen countries, including the US, Italy, Spain, Poland, Germany, Russia and the Netherlands. Ben Kane was born in Nairobi, Kenya—as his dad worked there as a veterinarian—and moved to Ireland with his family at age seven. As a child, he loved to read—especially historical works—that included medieval tales, Sherlock Holmes stories, and fantasy novels from JRR Tolkien to Guy Gavriel Kay to Stephen Donaldson. In his early adulthood, and as a genuine animal lover (and following in his dad’s footsteps), he studied veterinary medicine at University College Dublin. In 1996, after 5 years of college, a career as a veterinarian began. Soon after, his love of history took him abroad as he set off on a 3-month solo trip along part of the ancient Silk Road. Visiting the ruins of Merv, in Turkmenistan, it sparked his interest in ancient Roman history. Shortly after returning, he felt the urge to travel again, and in 1998—indulging his passion for ancient history—he set out on a trip around the world which lasted for nearly 3 years. It was during this prolonged time abroad that he first had thoughts of writing military historical fiction and having a career apart from being a veterinarian. What started as a hobby soon became an obsession, and about four years later The Forgotten Legion emerged into the light. Through hard work and perseverance, and with the help of his dedicated agent, Charlie Viney, a book deal was secured in the summer of 2007. That started a burgeoning writing career and a new chapter in Ben’s life. In 2013, for an honorable charitable cause, Kane and two author friends walked the entire length (84 miles) of Hadrian’s Wall—Britain’s largest Roman archaeological feature and one of its major ancient tourist attractions—while wearing full Roman military outfits, including hobnailed boots. They raised nearly £19,000 for Combat Stress and Medecins Sans Frontieres. In 2014, they walked again in Italy, raising over £26,500. A documentary film was made about their walk, titled The Road to Rome, with Ian McKellen narrating. Since 2014, Kane has continued to raise money for charitable causes. To date, he has raised more than $130,000. Having visited nearly 70 countries and all seven continents, he now lives in Somerset, England with his wife and children. Join Dustin and Ben for an enlightening conversation and hear how Ben’s passion for history led him to a career as an acclaimed author.

Jan 2020

43 min 50 sec

Susan grew up in East Hampton, surrounded by creative spirit and flair. Jackson Pollock’s house and the studio of Dutch American abstract impressionist, Willem de Kooning, proved an important influence in her childhood; and consequently her career. Her colourful upbringing led her to study ancient art and architecture at UCLA, followed by apprenticeships with European goldsmiths, finally finishing her schooling at the Gemology Institute of America.

Dec 2019

24 min 50 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Jaci Velasquez, platinum-selling and three-time Grammy nominated artist, American actress, on-air personality and renowned Contemporary Christian and Latin pop singer/songwriter—performing in both English and Spanish. Velasquez was born in Houston, Texas on October 15, 1979 and is of Mexican, Spanish, French, Scottish, and Arab ancestry. She grew up in a lyrical environment where her parents were singers and pastors at an evangelical church. At the age of nine, she began traveling with her father—who by then was a full-time singing evangelist—first singing backup, and then singing solo, and releasing two independent records. It was while on the road that she was discovered by a representative of Myrrh Records. Jaci’s illustrious music career has earned her three Platinum albums, three Gold albums, sixteen No. 1 singles, six more singles in the top 10, seven Dove Awards, three Latin Grammy Award nominations, three Grammy Award nominations, and an American Music Award nomination. She has also graced more than fifty magazine covers, including Teen People, Latin Girl, Teen Beat, Parade, and People and has as appeared in ads for Pepsi, Doritos, and Target. In addition to her remarkable music success, Jaci is an actress and has been featured in five faith-based films since 2009. She has also co-hosted Salem Broadcasting Network’s “The Family Friendly Morning Show with Doug and Jaci Velasquez” with more than 1.5 million daily listeners. On October 8, 2019 Jaci released her memoir, When God Rescripts Your Life: Seeing Value, Beauty and Purpose When Life Is Interrupted, sharing how she overcame the challenges of early fame and a failed marriage and trusted God to turn her broken pieces into priceless treasures. After the release of her first album at the awkward age of sixteen, Jaci Velasquez found sudden fame. Five of the songs reached number one, and she became the first and fastest-selling solo artist in Christian music history to reach gold status with a debut album. Despite her initial success, however, her career stalled, and her young marriage ended quickly, leaving her feeling broken, used up, and sometimes useless. But God repurposed those experiences for a greater plan as her renewed faith carried her through a resurrected career, the adventures of a second marriage, and the ups-and-downs of being a wife and mother of two boys, including one diagnosed with autism. Through a blend of personal narrative, practical strategies, and the truth of God's word, Jaci invites readers to rewrite their own stories and dream new dreams for their lives. Her life-transforming insights will guide readers in not only overcoming challenges, wrong turns, and often painful circumstances, but also in growing from those experiences and becoming equipped and empowered to help others. In addition to writing, recording, touring and acting, Jaci serves as an advocate for autism awareness. Join Dustin and Jaci for a heartfelt conversation on life’s numerous twists and turns and hear how Jaci’s faith helped her navigate the curvy roads and grow stronger along the way. “I may not know what to do or what the future holds,” Jaci says, “but I trust that God does.”

Dec 2019

35 min 21 sec

Bjorn Oste, the Swedish co-founder and CEO of Good Idea Drinks, is the featured guest on a new episode ofDustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough, You Can Be Tougher” podcast. Good Idea Drinks – available in three flavors, orange-mango, lemon-lime and dragon fruit – are unsweetened, sugar-free sparkling beverages that feature a blend of five amino acids, and the mineral chromium. Research has shown chromium to reduce the blood sugar spike after a meal rich in carbohydrates. Accordingly, each can of the drink is labeled as “The Swedish Sugar Buster.” Good Idea Drinks, which are also vegan and non-GMO, originated in 2015. Bjorn is additionally a co-founder and member of the board of directors of Oatly, a 100-percent, oat-based alternative to milk. Oatly emerged out of a collaboration between Bjorn and his brother Rickard, a professor in nutrition. Rickard had just invented an oat-based dairy alternative, when Bjorn partnered with him in 1997 to create the new drink. They introduced Oatly into the Nordic countries and across Europe, and it sold well. Then, they brought Oatly to the United States, where it has also gained a following. Oatly’s success, Bjorn said, “was the result of advanced cross-disciplinary research going hand-in-hand with smart branding and market activities.” Bjorn and Rickard also started Aventure AB, a research company that specializes in advanced, functional food concepts. Its focus is on developing products that make it easier for consumers to shift to a healthier lifestyle. The bothers want consumers to adopt a preventive mindset. Prevention, they note, is preferable to medical intervention for health problems as type-2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, which can be lifestyle-related. Technology background Bjorn began his professional career in another discipline. In 1983, he completed a graduate program in industrial economics at The Institute of Technology at Linkoping University in his native Sweden. He then started a software company with a group of friends. The company, Dynamic Software, became a world leader in specialized complex computer security systems for global banks, blue-chip companies, governments and other entities. Bjorn was responsible for sales and marketing, until his group sold the company to Security Dynamics in 1997. He subsequently formed his alliance with his brother Rickard. “Building a software company was interesting,” he said, “but now I had the opportunity to engage in something that could make a real difference in people´s everyday lives.” Life’s tough – you can be tougher, like Bjorn Oste, who’s always intent on making possibilities happen.

Nov 2019

29 min 11 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Catie Harris, a nurse turned entrepreneur, helping other nurse professionals realize their dreams of self-employment and owning their own businesses. Dr. Catie Harris has over 20 years of experience as a nurse at all levels—from bedside nurse, to nurse practitioner, to a first assist to the surgeons in the operating room. She has also taught in academics and worked in corporate healthcare. As a board-certified nurse practitioner in Philadelphia—where she sees thousands of patients each year—Catie is also the CEO and Founder of Concierge Nurse Services, a company that provides a high level of individualized care for patients after surgery. In addition, Catie has authored Concierge Nurse Secrets and 5 Pillars of Care After Surgery, helping hundreds of patients in the first 24 hours after surgery to recover at home without confusion, fear or anxiety. Dr. Harris is also the creator of the NursePreneur Mastermind—a one of a kind business mastery program uniquely for nurses. Taking what she has learned over the years in the nursing profession, Catie now uses it exclusively to help nurses transform their nursing knowledge into creative, meaningful & profitable businesses, such as coaching, consulting, courses, contracting, and clinics, even if they have no business skills or advanced degrees. Due to her business prowess, Dr. Harris has appeared in top media outlets like Huffington Post, Yahoo News, International Business Times, ABC, NBC, Fox News, Daring Woman Magazine, and more. She currently lives in Philadelphia with her son.

Nov 2019

20 min 55 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Robert A. Schuller, an American author, televangelist and pastor, and head of the Robert Schuller Ministries, whose mission is to inspire the world by incorporating the whole person and seeking to minister to people physically, emotionally and spiritually—aptly titled “Vital Living.” Dr. Robert Schuller is the son of famed televangelist Dr. Robert Harold Schuller—founder of the Garden Grove Community Church. In 1955, the senior Schuller came to Garden Grove, California and started a church in the tradition of the Dutch Reformed Church in America (RCA). What evolved from a small gathering of parishioners at a local drive-in theater became America’s first “mega church” and, eventually, America’s first “television church.” In a span of twenty years, the Garden Grove Community Church had grown to 10,000 members and resided in the Crystal Cathedral, a massive structure constructed of glass walls and ceiling. Its weekly television worship service—Hour of Power—had become the most-viewed religious television program in the world.  Soon after graduating from Hope College in Holland, Michigan in 1976, Dr. Schuller became a regular participant on the Hour of Power reading scripture and occasionally preaching. Following his graduation from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, Dr. Schuller was ordained in the one-week-old Crystal Cathedral. It was from that stirring pulpit, alongside his father, Dr. Schuller reached a television audience of more than 20 million people worldwide delivering a weekly message of “Possibility Living.” Dr. Schuller served as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral from 2006-2008 and now continues his ministry with Robert Schuller Ministries. As a highly successful author of 17 books—including the New York Times best-seller “Walking in Your Own Shoes”—he travels the world advocating for peace with The Global Peace Foundation and is regularly seen on national stages as a motivational speaker.  Dr. Schuller lives in Newport Beach, California and is married to Donna Greenough Schuller, a Certified Nutritional Consultant and author of three books, and a regular participant in the ministry in a variety of roles over the years. Together, they have four grown children and six grandchildren. When they are not engaged in ministry or visiting their children or grandchildren, the Schullers love the outdoors and scuba diving in the oceans of the world. Join Dustin and Dr. Schuller for a heartfelt conversation on his life’s mission to inspire the masses towards “Vital Living.”

Oct 2019

46 min 15 sec

The “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Charles Rosen, socially-responsible and environmentally conscious visionary and founder of NJ-based Ironbound Hard Cider. Charles Rosen is the founder of Ironbound Hard Cider, a NJ-based social-enterprise company designed to radically change a system that fails the very people it is supposed to help—the underemployed and formerly incarcerated. His goal—to give ex-offenders a real chance to rise above a system that he believes is purposefully designed to put them back into prison. Over the last several years, Rosen has been developing a radically different concept for bringing the formerly incarcerated and other chronically underemployed members of our community (including immigrants and vets,) back into the workforce, and one that goes beyond what any government program has done. “The amount of effort required for ONE individual to transition out of a state of chronic poverty is almost inconceivable,” Rosen states. “We are engaged in human repair work unlike anyone else in the country. I don’t know of any other employer, federal or state program, or nonprofit organization that is committing the time or other resources necessary for this type of transformative work.” Rosen accomplishes this by a radical workforce development training program—developed in partnership with Columbia University’s Earth Institute—that focuses on areas such as conflict resolution, identity value, and communication skills and is taught through workshops and one-on-one sessions. Combining this with a collective of local entrepreneurs and small food businesses as well as farming practices that use regenerative agriculture to heal the land, Rosen’s “Ironbound Collective” brings economic, environmental and culinary benefits to the entire community, including his customers. Committed to changing the system, Rosen feels our country is on an unsustainable course and wants to prove that a business can be responsible for more than shareholder returns. Rosen says “We are trying to create a unique community in NJ where everyone’s success is interdependent – employees, farmers, restaurateurs, distributors, and consumers. While it’s been hard to change the system, and costly, I’m still hopeful that I can prove it’s doable.” Join Dustin and Charles for an illuminating conversation and listen how a radically different and socially-responsible thinker inspires real human transformation coupled with economic success.

Oct 2019

38 min 57 sec

Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” podcast this week features Morri Chowaiki, a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, personal coach, soon to be published author and currently the Head of Sales & Retail for The Shark Group—a private consulting firm helmed by the star of the hit TV business show, Shark Tank, Daymond John. Morri Chowaiki is a serial entrepreneur with roots in Sales, Business Management, Technology, Consumer Packaged Goods and E-Commerce. At age 12, he started his career selling rattan furniture, sparking his entrepreneurial spirit. An early adopter in e-commerce, Morri has worked in manufacturing and software organizations servicing some of the world’s largest retailers. He also started his own successful business, One Life Products, whose invention—the Hanukah Tree Topper®—was featured on ABC’s hit TV business show, Shark Tank. That TV appearance led to a lucrative licensing deal with one of the show’s sharks—investor and legendary entrepreneur Daymond John. Soon after, Daymond was so impressed with Morri’s keen business acumen and forward-thinking leadership skills, that he offered Morri a key position at his private consulting firm, as the Head of Sales & Retail for The Shark Group. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.  In addition to his business prowess, Morri is a sought-after motivational speaker, soon to be published author, and a personal consultant and coach. As a married father of 3 living in beautiful San Diego, CA, Morri volunteers at numerous charities/boards and is a cartoon voice actor in his spare time. Join Dustin and Morri for an informative conversation and hear Morri share his own life story as a framework for entrepreneurs everywhere.


Oct 2019

33 min 6 sec

Life’s Tough – but Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano is Tougher, leading the charge on making blockchain technology and digital assets accessible to institutional clients and wealthy family offices. Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough—You Can Be Tougher” Crypto podcast this week features Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano, an American entrepreneur, investor, and U.S. Army veteran. Anthony is Co-Founder and Partner at Morgan Creek Digital Assets—a multi-strategy investment firm focused on providing access to blockchain technology and digital assets for institutional clients and wealthy family offices. Anthony graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School and then attended Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, where he received his Bachelor of Arts double majoring in economics and sociology. He served in the U.S. Army as a sergeant from March 2006 to August 2012. During his exemplary service—deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2008-2009)—he earned distinguished honors as The Distinguished Leader Graduate of the Warrior Leader Course and a Commandant’s List Graduate of Infantry Leadership School. In January 2013, Pompliano founded Digaforce, a social media intelligence platform for demographic information based on unfiltered, social content. The company was acquired in December 2013 by Strategic Link Partners. His professional career continued to flourish with stints at Facebook in 2014 as Product Manager, leading the Growth Team for Facebook Pages advising the executive team on their social strategy and helping to launch numerous products like AMBER Alerts and Voter Registration, to later leading the business operations team working on growth and engagement at SnapChat.  Anthony’s foresight and shrewdness in identifying blockchain opportunities led others to follow his counsel—police officers and other state employees in Virginia’s Fairfax County will be looking forward to retirement with potential dividends from an unusual source: bitcoin. Earlier this year, two separate pension funds that collectively manage $5.1 billion in assets for the state’s police force and other employees have joined a $40 million investment in the Morgan Creek Blockchain Opportunities Fund, which in addition to backing some of the best-known startups in the space, plans to invest in cryptocurrency. The Morgan Creek Blockchain Opportunity Fund marks an unusual fusion of traditional venture capital flowing into crypto and a new breed of companies aiming to use cryptocurrency to prepare for retirement. To combat potential cryptocurrency fraud concerns—cautioned by the SEC—Pompliano worked with the pensions to answer questions they had about potential risks and how crypto investments differed from traditional assets. Going forward, he says the blockchain fund will continue to invest in cryptocurrencies and companies building infrastructures for a wide range of blockchain products, while pushing forward with the next stage of his project—raising a separate $500 million fund to invest in future tokens he expects will be created using blockchain to represent shares in everything from works of fine art to real estate. “Our venture fund can invest in the companies that are issuing tokens," says Pompliano. "We can invest in the equity of the exchanges where those tokens are being traded. But the big fund will purchase the tokens themselves." Join Dustin and Anthony for an informative conversation on the emergent cryptocurrency landscape in today’s ever-changing economic climate.

Sep 2019

31 min 5 sec