The Story: After Show Week Three
A Discussion of Episodes 9–12
- The four BIG ideas/principles that come from the stories this week
- Plus, they show you how to apply these big ideas to your own life
- Actionable ideas and tactics to apply to your own life to increase your health, wealth, and wisdom!
(The following has been edited and condensed.)
Chad Grills: Welcome to The Story After Show. I’m Chad Grills. I’m joined by Ian Faison and Stephanie Postles. Let’s jump into it. What’s up?
Stephanie Postles: Hey, everyone. Welcome.
Ian Faison: Season One — in the books.
Chad: In the books. Season One is finished, but we have many more seasons to come. I think the listeners are going to be delighted.
Stephanie: Oh, yeah. They’re going to be really excited about Season Two and Three. I’m already looking forward to these episodes. Shall we just jump into it?
Chad: Let’s do it.
Stephanie: We are going to go through the big idea from each story that we covered this week and how to apply it in your life, and then we’ll probably just banter back and forth like we usually do.
Chad: Riffs and rants and all that good stuff.
Stephanie: We’ll start with Cheryl Strayed. That was an emotional story. We were just talking about that earlier; it gave you some ups and downs throughout the story, but the big idea is that sometimes, you have to escape — literally — just like she did.
You can’t worry about your plans; you just have to get out of whatever situation you’re in.
She didn’t have a plan, but if escaping is going to make something better, it’s probably better than no action at all, especially if it helps you get away from troublemakers, toxic people, a bad situation.
You can figure everything else out later. Just get out.
Ian: I love it.
Chad: Ian, you were saying earlier that the beginning of the episode is pretty cringe-worthy, which is a very good way to describe it.
Ian: Yeah. It was pretty cringe-worthy. I think that any time you’re looking at someone who’s trying things that are illegal in the United States, it’s always going to be an emotionally-charged moment, specifically in how we portrayed that scene.
It really shows the depth that we will go to please other people around us.
She had to escape that, she had to escape her boyfriend, she had to escape things in her life. A lot of times, those things are right in front of you, but you don’t necessarily realize that they’re bad.
She realized that she was going on a pretty rough path, but a lot of people don’t realize they’re going down a rough path.
Chad: I think what’s really interesting is that we’ve kind of perfected politeness as a society and culture, and it’s so easy to fall in the trap of not wanting to disappoint anybody. You don’t want to say something that’s going to cause tension or make people freak out because lots of people freak out.
If you just leave the situation, if you’re going to get away, that’s going to make people really uncomfortable.
It’s way easier to just stay put and never do anything different, but I think it’s way more interesting if you periodically offend the wrong people.
Not being afraid to offend the creeps that we featured in that story — I think it’s a good strategy.
Ian: It’s kind of like the term, “the Irish goodbye.” You just walk out of the party or something like that and just don’t say goodbye to anyone.
I’m part Irish, so that’s definitely something that I do, sometimes in my family. But I think a lot of times in life, we really are afraid of leaving the situation, whatever it is.
For her, she kind of wanted to leave but didn’t really have a means to. When you’re traveling, or when you’re trying to find a new place to go, there’s not always a clear path.
She quite literally took a path to get out of there.
Chad: She took the low-cost, affordable path. That’s what’s most interesting: the path that she took is accessible to anyone.
I don’t care who you are or where you are in life. You can literally walk away; you’re free to do that.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the trap of thinking that your exit needs to be glamorous, or it needs to fit in with a movie or story you heard.
She put in the hard work of realizing that, no, escape was accessible. She just walked away.
Stephanie: I think that’s something that you hear a lot from either myself or other people.
There are always barriers for why you can’t get out of a situation. It’s either a money thing or “I don’t have my degree.” There’s always a reason that people are putting up, but sometimes, there’s a free option.
Maybe it’s just investing your time somewhere. I mean, there are so many free options like going on a hike, of course. Maybe not a hike like Cheryl’s, but there are a lot of options out there.
But maybe we should dive into how to apply this. What’s the best way to apply this big idea to our lives?
Chad: We could tell escape stories. Steph, what is an escape story you have from your own life where you escaped a bad situation?
Stephanie: Bad situation?
Chad: It doesn’t have to be smoking heroin.
Stephanie: I didn’t smoke heroin, but a bad situation I can think back to is one of my first jobs when we were in D.C.
I did a rotation program, and I ended up in this one, final role, and the manager there was completely crazy. She was just horrible.
She would come in and scream at me and the vice president of the group, and she would say really weird things. Chad, you probably remember.
Chad: Mentally unstable is the best way to describe it.
Stephanie: Very mentally unstable. I kind of dealt with it for a year. During that time, you think, Oh, I can just do this a little bit longer. It’s not that big of a deal. I can get through this, and I’ll start looking eventually.
Now, I look back, and I think, I should have gotten out sooner. I shouldn’t have spent any more than two months under that crazy person.
It’s just hard to see it sometimes when you’re in the midst of it.
Chad: Steph’s downplaying this and being a little bit too humble with it.
This was a pretty prestigious job that she got right out of college. What was most fascinating to me about this situation was that the very “elite” students who had landed this role from Harvard, from Yale, from the Ivy League schools, were the ones who stayed.
They either stayed, or they jumped ship in the so traditional, so boring path to Wall Street where they don’t understand technology now. They still think that Wall Street is the path to go for prestige. They’re the ones that didn’t really escape.
Stephanie: Yeah. It’s definitely sad seeing people still working in those situations. I think, How do you not see what you’re in right now, and how do you not realize that if you get out now, you’ll be happier?
Ian: I think that says change is hard. Moving is hard.
Chad: So hard.
Ian: I think a lot of people, when they move, just blame it on their job. They’ll just say, “Hey, I’ve got to move. I have to take this new opportunity.” Or, especially if they’re leaving their hometown, “I need a change of scenery.”
That’s kind of the polite way of saying, “I just need to get away from all of you because you’re bringing me down in one way or another.”
It’s hard to leave friends or acquaintances or colleagues or workmates, but as it was with my time in the army, you kind of have to move because they force you to do that.
When you’re forced into a new place, you have to adapt to it. We’ve seen this from folks in our own lives. They leave for a brand new job in a brand new place, and life figures itself out.
Stephanie: It always does.
Chad: Scary, but on the other side of fear is usually something interesting.
In my own life, I left where I lived, which is a very small hometown, moved all the way across the country to the West Coast right after high school and left college when it got boring to enter the military. From the military to the startup world, from the startup world in D.C. to the startup world in the Bay Area, it’s fun to move around. It’s fun to explore.
So often, we think staying in one area is a sign of being committed to a career path or something like that, but that’s not the case.
Stephanie: I think we should move on to our next amazing lady that we highlighted, Grace Hopper.
Ian: The big idea from this episode is “Beware popular opinion.” There are hundreds of people that will tell you no in your life. You are going to get a ton of people saying that you’re too young, too old, too short, too smart, too dumb.
She was actually told that she was too qualified to join the Navy.
Chad: Sounds like something the military would say.
Ian: Exactly. When she got to the point where she had been in the military, had created computers and systems and done all of these amazing things, they still tried to force her to retire.
These were people that probably didn’t know what a computer was, and they were saying that she should leave the organization.
I think all of us need to beware of popular opinion. People are going to tell you no hundreds of times, and you have to be able to say, “No, I’m going to ignore those people, and I’m going to do the thing that I’m set out to do. I’m going to achieve the mission.”
Chad: That brings up an interesting point. Two of my friends recently launched a new investment firm, and they were very successful in the first fund that they raised.
They’ve been very successful investing in startups before, to the tune of four investments that are now worth over a billion dollars. They’re very, very savvy guys. They’re good at what they do.
They have a phrase called a “narrative violation.” Basically, they look for narrative violations, as in how are you going to find anomalies? Grace Hopper was an anomaly. She didn’t fit into other people’s narratives about how women should behave, how technology should evolve, how computers should function.
She didn’t believe in any of that, and that’s what made her so successful. Ultimately, that’s what makes the best companies successful: they don’t fit into a clear story.
That drives a lot of people crazy. They are always looking for that clear story, things that look like what came before. Massive change, interesting opportunities and fascinating people don’t fit traditional narratives.
Stephanie: How to apply this in every-day life: just believe in your ideas and your expertise, even if it’s your supervisor or boss that is saying, “This can’t be done,” or “This isn’t the way to do things.”
If you think that you know something that they don’t, keep pushing forward because I highly doubt, like Ian said, that a lot of people knew what she was talking about when she was saying, I want to build this type of software or computer or a compiler.
They probably just said, “That’s not how it works, and that’s not how it’s ever worked, so why are you even going to work on that?” It’s good to realize that sometimes, you know more. Just believe in your ideas.
Chad: I think the proof, in her story, of how big of a narrative violation she was committing was how lonely and depressed and, ultimately, suicidal she was.
That usually follows having every single person tell you, “No, you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong.” That happened for a decade in her own life.
“You’re too small, you’re too underweight.” Genetic things about her that she couldn’t change were things she was hyper-critiqued for anyway.
Ian: That has zero predictability of your success — your race, your color, your hair, your weight, any of that stuff.
Over and over and over and over again, she was told that she would never fit in. She had some serious problems with that. She thought, I’ve created things that are changing the world and yet, I am being forced to retire from my job?
How humbling is that? For her to say, “No, I’m going to come back. I’m going to keep coming back,” is just freaking crazy.
Stephanie: I also loved how she always hired really young talent. That just really hit home for me, from working at Google.
That’s something that Google really believes in. It doesn’t matter your age, it doesn’t matter what school you went to. You can be put on the best projects, and that’s consistently what she did. She would put young people on the most technical projects, even if they were only there for a day or two. A lot of people said that getting that opportunity really changed their lives.
Ian: Shout out to Lacey, Dylan and Max. All are Mission team members.
Stephanie: Our young team.
Chad: Go, team.
Ian: Each of them are younger. No offense, guys; I don’t mean that in a bad way. But they’re doing amazing things, and it’s often the people who don’t know what is impossible that can commit narrative violations themselves and do the impossible.
Stephanie: All right. Shall we move on? Next one is Condoleezza Rice or “Condi”, as her friends called her.
Chad: Condi is a fascinating person, and she’s actually right down the road at Stanford University.
Stephanie: She could be listening to this.
Chad: She could be, and she might be here soon — you never know — to talk about some of these things. The big idea from her story that I really, really loved was that it’s easy to glance at someone’s opportunities and say, “They got lucky.”
Obviously, we know that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, but nobody really talks about how to prepare to get the call and how to position yourself in such a way that you’re going to attract those opportunities.
With our modern technology, there have never been easier ways to create digital and real-world opportunity generators.
Condi’s story is an excellent one of creating opportunity generators in that she was having these great interactions with people, and she established a track record of always getting things done, of always going the extra mile.
When you do that, people will market you. People will rush to tell other people because the people who go the extra mile are few and far between.
Ian: I thought it was really cool that, for the first episode of the season, we had Sara Blakely’s story, and she got “the call,” and it was from Oprah.
At the end of this season, we had Condoleezza Rice sitting at Stanford, and she got “the call” from the president, asking her to join the National Security Council.
Those two things are very emblematic of how much preparation both women put into their lives in order to get to that point.
A lot of people think that they’re ready for the big break or the big call, but they haven’t put in the requisite work that is required so that when that does come, you’re 100% ready for it.
Stephanie: I think they also miss the little calls that come along. They don’t realize, This could actually be a big opportunity. People always hear, “Say no as much as you can. Always say no first.”
I really don’t understand that advice because I think a lot of times, you should probably say yes and see where it goes. Then, if it doesn’t help get you where you want to go, you can cut it off.
Ian: It’s the focus police. Some people talk about this, and there’s just not a cookie-cutter answer.
The answer is not, “Oh, you should say no to everything.” You see this all the time on LinkedIn: “This year was the year I said no to everything.”
Stephanie: Cool dude.
Ian: That’s just not good advice for someone who’s 22.
Chad: There’s always nuance. Every single situation is different.
There’s not going to be a template answer for everything. There’s a great quote by Albert Camus that says, “Tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance.” You’re going to end up in a tyrannical situation if you can’t approach every situation with nuance.
I think what was so fascinating about these women’s stories is that they put an incredible amount of thought and planning and preparation into everything, even Sara Blakely, who was selling fax machines door-to-door.
She knew she had to be funnier in order to get business, so she immediately went up to a standup club. That level of preparation is just wild and inspiring.
Ian: With Condoleezza Rice, she is obviously exceptionally smart. She’s exceptionally gifted, and she’s been pushed by her parents for a long, long time that education is the way out.
That’s her methodology to continue to get better every day. When you are the subject matter expert in your field, who comes calling? The most important people in the world.
Stephanie: Yeah, she is a really good example; sometimes, the traditional path is actually the best path.
She had it mapped out from the early days, and she knew, “Hey, to exceed or excel in this career, I need to have X, Y and Z, and I need to have these certain degrees.”
She knew exactly where she was going. That’s just a good idea.
Chad: It’s so easy to look at these big education systems and think, Oh, they’re corrupt. They don’t deliver any value, or things like that.
Again, the truth is complicated, and Condi’s success inside the traditional education system wasn’t from just hanging out and getting A’s. It was from her parents enrolling her in first grade when she was three years old. Three years old, entering first grade. That’s wild. That’s not just exploring the traditional opportunities. That is taking the system and the Man at face value. If you pursue these paths and do really well, good things will happen.
Ian: She brought that same energy and mindset to the rest of her career, which is why she never embraced any of the hatred or hate speech that was going on around her.
She repelled it, and what did she do later on in life? She had all the people who were working for her learn multiple languages and learn about culture.
She used education as her armor. She taught that to everyone else in her career. That’s a true leader.
Stephanie: Agreed. Go Condi. All right, let’s go on to the next one, which is about Amelia Earhart. What’s the big idea behind that episode?
Ian: The big idea for Amelia Earhart is to invest in yourself. She is a fascinating person in so many different ways.
She was building things at a very early age that she was trying to sell.
The famous story: she crashed her plane.
Chad: Her first plane.
Ian: Her first plane. This is possibly the most important thing in her life. She crashes her plane, and her instructor is freaking out, thinks that Amelia is injured.
She’s lying on the ground, doing her makeup, because “You never know when the reporters are coming.”
As far as prepping for the call, she was always ready for that. She was investing in herself by saving up $1000 by working in a mailroom.
When you are in the mailroom, working, you think that that is the rest of your life. You’re dreaming about flying planes. You’ve flown in one, but you can’t even fathom that you’d ever own one. She was putting in all of that work.
Chad: That’s really inspiring because it’s easy to think that people are statistics, or your income now, or your income for the last five years, is going to be your income for life, but that’s not true.
People aren’t statistics; they move up the socioeconomic ladder. In fact, they move up pretty rapidly. In Amelia’s story, she worked dozens of different jobs. When she did get to flying, she wasn’t just good at flying. She wasn’t the best in the world at flying.
She wasn’t the best woman pilot — that much is pretty clear. But she was the best woman pilot who could also sell, who had also studied medicine and helped soldiers. As you go down the list, there are so many different things.
It’s that combination and layering of skills that made her into an anomaly, a successful one.
Stephanie: She kept her long-term vision, too. She knew, ever since that incident in the field when the plane came toward her, that she wanted to fly. But she was actually okay with veering off course a little bit. She thought, Okay, now I’m going to try going back to college. Now I’m going to take this job.
She knew the whole time, My end goal is to be able to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic and around the world. Just being able to hold that long-term vision is really important because sometimes, you have to do the crap jobs to get there, and that’s okay.
Ian: She started cutting her hair short, curling her hair and having a branded image with a hat and her bomber jacket from the very beginning. She knew that this is who she wanted to be.
I think it’s also fascinating that she invested all of her life savings into the final, fateful trip. She and her husband put everything into this with the hope that there would be book deals, and she would live in infamy if she completed this trip.
Well, guess what? She’s the most famous pilot in the history of the world. I think it worked.
It kind of draws comparisons to some other geniuses that have crashed really expensive vehicles and that have put all of their money into their projects. I’m talking about Elon Musk.
It’s not ludicrous to say that no wonder these people were successful; they invested in themselves.
Chad: It’s something hard to consider, but how much of your wealth, how much of your savings are you investing into your projects? What projects do you have enough conviction in that you’ll put your own money on the line and invest in them?
The investment is what is going to show that your projects are going to get some traction. That’s where you’re going to figure things out, where you put your money to work for yourself.
Stephanie: I think it’s good to remember, once again, it’s not always a monetary investment.
Although she put up tons of money to build and buy the plane, a lot of times, it’s just a time investment. It’s taking the time to read books. It’s figuring out, What’s the easiest way to start today? What can I do today to get myself two steps forward?
Chad: If you don’t have money, you always have time, you always have an attitude. You can make a choice to have a great attitude, to show up wherever you are, and that is transformative.
Ian: Do we want to talk about any of the recent news with her?
Stephanie: Yeah. I think it’s interesting that something new came out, but their stories are a little different.
Chad: There are obviously a lot of different theories around Amelia’s disappearance and death.
Maybe she died, maybe she didn’t. Maybe she passed away peacefully years later on some unknown Pacific island. It’s really not clear.
But there seem to be two prevailing theories right now that have the most support.
One theory is that she and her co-pilot, Fred Noonan, I believe, crash-landed on the Marshall Islands, which were controlled by the Japanese in the Pacific.
There’s a photo in the Washington Post of a woman and a man that they think is Fred Noonan walking with the Japanese.
The journalist who is the biggest proponent of this theory has some supporters now, and it seems possible that they crash-landed and were tortured and killed by the Japanese.
Ian: I think this is something super tragic, but her success lives in all of American culture and global culture. This person has inspired millions and millions and millions of people.
If you go look at NASA and the people working there, they all cite that she was one of their inspirations.
It’s really something that she has inspired millions and millions of people.
There’s intrigue, obviously, with the disappearance, but she did something that no one else had ever done, and she’s the most famous person for it. That’s her hard work and research. She’s an anomaly.
Stephanie: And we’re still looking for the details around her disappearance and trying to solve this mystery that’s been going on forever.
People have thought they’ve closed it out. Every couple of years, it pops back up, and that really shows what kind of impact she had on the whole country.
Chad: Definitely. Not only the country, but also her husband.
Stephanie: Oh, yeah.
Chad: After they had invested that fortune, he spent even more. I don’t know if he went into debt or not, but he invested another small fortune into searching for her when the government stopped.
Stephanie: That’s a good husband.
Ian: You know what great husbands do? They leave reviews on iTunes. We wanted to give a few shout outs to our listeners.
We’ve had unbelievable feedback; the reviews on iTunes are really cool to read. We read every single one, and so, we want to give a few more shout outs.
First one is Manga: “Thank you for bringing this to my life. I love hearing about these wonderful women who’ve made such an impact to the world. I can’t wait for the next one.” Thank you so much. That’s really cool.
We have, from Realasier: “Love empowering women and men. Support I needed at this moment in my life. Thank you.” That’s really cool to hear. Thanks so much.
Stephanie: I’m excited to hear you read the name of this next one.
Ian: Hapajt said: “I’ve been listening since the beginning, and I’m a fan. Every story thus far has been inspiring and really helps keep my positive attitude when headed to work. Keep up the great work, team.”
Chad: You keep up the great work on your way to work.
Ian: Thank you so much. The final one is from GME_F: “Love listening to this podcast. Many audio biographies, enjoying the stories of women, especially those stories I haven’t heard before. It’s uplifting learning there are others who haven’t had role models and have succeeded. I may have just found a role model.”
Chad: Very nice.
Stephanie: That’s amazing, but I think my favorite was the video. Who wants to dive into the video submission.
Ian: We also received a video submission from a six-year-old in Walnut Creek, California. Zachary Daniel said that he loved the episode about Amelia Earhart because she was in Night at the Museum 2.
Stephanie: That is why we chose her, Zachary.
Ian: That is completely why.
Chad: Thank you so much for the feedback. We really appreciate that. It helps us on the iTunes charts so more people will find this podcast. If you can rate and review it, it’s a massive help for us. It’s going to keep bringing The Story to you on Monday through Friday, along with the After Show.
That brings us to the contest, which we’re still running right now. Thanks, in part, to Salesforce, who is our sponsor for Season One and Season Two.
We’re really excited about that. The contest is $5,000 in prizes that you can win by entering at thestorypodcast.com. You can win one of two tickets to Dreamforce.
We’re giving away drones, our favorite books and hoodies. That’s pretty exciting. Can you get more entries by referring and sharing?
Ian: Yeah, there are a bunch of different ways that you can get more entries. Just don’t use fake email addresses because…
Chad: The software tracks it.
Ian: Yeah, we track it.
Stephanie: We will find you.
Ian: We will.
Chad: Your conscience will track you even better than the software.
I’m just kidding. Thank you, everyone, so much for the support. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you for Season Two.
Stephanie: Stay tuned.
Ian: Season Two.
Stephanie: It’s going to be a good one.