Table Top Inventing Podcast (Business Professionals)

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

 In This Episode

  • How does a young lady pursuing a career in biogenetics find herself a successful artist?

  • How can a small company file a lawsuit against a huge company without getting crushed?

  • How do you fall in love with 3D printing after avowing never to use it?

The stories behind these curious juxtapositions are waiting for you in today's podcast.

Welcome to the Table Top Inventing podcast. I am Steve Kurti, aka "the Mad Scientist", and I'm pretty jazzed about something that happened this last week.

We just finished up our first Inventor Camp of 2016 in Apple Valley, CA, last Thursday, but on Wednesday while we were in full swing, I had the coolest thing happen.

One of the challenges this year involves binary numbers, byte conversions, and ASCII tables. If you're a techno geek, you'll get those references, but if you're not, those are terms for how the data moves around in your computer, cell phone, and the internet. I wanted the kids to see under the hood so-to-speak and see that things aren't really as mysterious as they seem.

I was talking to Lilli and Trevor who were tasked with programming up a little solution for encoding letters and numbers into binary, and Lilli was telling me about how her program worked. She was pretty excited that she could look at the 8-bit represented by the LED lights and look up the letter on a chart.

I turned to Trevor to ask him if he knew what they needed to do next. He answered,

"Yup. I'll get to that in a minute, but right now...


It was so awesome and so funny, I had a fit of laughter on the spot. That is what I love to see: Kids with their imagination on fire. 

Today's guest, Tracy Hazzard, also loves to see kids with their imagination on fire. Tracy is the CEO of Hazz Design Consulting, a design company headquartered in Orange County, CA. Let's find out how Tracy is igniting the imagination. 

Tracy said my favorite phrase "Successful Failure". We have a dozen different ways to say this same thing: "failing forward", "Failure is the first step to success", and a host of others. The basic idea is to stop being so afraid of being wrong or of making a mistake along the way.

Anything big requires learning, and true learning always starts by being bad at something before being really good at it. If you want your kids to experience "successful failure", check out Inventor Camp at

Let's Ignite more Imagination.

Original Episode Date: May 5, 2016

Category: Business Professional

Direct download: 089_-_Designing_Success_with_Tracy_Hazzard.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 8:48am PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

In This Episode

  • What is it like to write a video game from code in a printed book?

  • Can techie kids learn to have good people skills?

  • How does a computer game programmer become a politician?

Jay Obernolte - Table Top Inventing PodcastYou'll have to listen to today's episode to learn the answers to these fascinating questions.

Hi, this is Steve, "The Mad Scientist" Kurti, and today's guest on the Table Top Inventing podcast is a first for us. We've had game-changing researchers, game-changing teachers, game-changing investors, and other game-changers on our podcast including other programmers.

However, we've yet to have a game-writing politician. Today's guest has experience as a programmer and coder right down to the assembly language level, but he has also started a small company and has now crossed over into the world of politics.

As a tech person myself, I was curious what would drive a successful programmer and business owner to step into the political arena. The path is an interesting one as always.

Let's welcome our first public servant to the podcast, California Assemblyman, Jay Obernolte.

Jay mentioned my favorite concept on the podcast toward the end: life-long-learning. I have always wondered what causes someone to leave a successful career to try something new, but learning and trying something new is a great reason in my book. As a perpetual learner myself, I am always interested in challenging my skills against some new idea or task.

I also understand what Jay said about moving from coding into managing people. My personal experience with starting a business has hit multiple roadblocks as I try to navigate how to understand the social world of marketing. Tech folks like us often choose computers, engineering, or science because at some level it is simpler to understand than people.

However, there is no shortcut in life to success that doesn't include learning to have great relationships. That's why in our Inventor Camps we always have students work in teams and show off their work at the end. Talking to other teammates and presenting our work to others are crucial skills for any professional in today's world.

Subscribe to the Table Top Inventing podcast to hear stories of other world-changers to equip yourself and your teens for the rowdy world of innovation.

Original Episode Date: 4/29/15

Category: Business Professional

Direct download: 088_-_Games_and_Politics_with_Jay_Obernolte.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 11:32pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Joanie Connell - Table Top Inventing PodcastIn This Episode

  • How much does work-life balance matter to today's professionals?
  • Why do people communicate differently on email vs phone vs face-to-face?
  • What are the effects of helicopter parenting on the kids we are trying to protect?

Today's podcast will reveal the answers to these crucial questions.

Welcome to the Table Top Inventing Online Radio Show.  Every week we interview successful individuals from across the career spectrum and share their stories.  The best information on how to raise intelligent, curious, successful kids is out there, and we're collecting it into one place on our on-demand radio show.

Today's guest is particularly well-acquainted with the pitfalls surrounding current trends in parenting and education.  Joanie Connell is a PhD psychologist with a degree in engineering who coaches high-performing professionals.  In her work with these high-profile individuals, she has become painfully aware of some glaring issues in modern parenting and education habits.

Let's jump straight into this action-packed interview.

Joanie and I discussed things I've believed for quite some time, but she brings the psychological and social credibility.  Her background in engineering and work with professionals strikes a curious juxtaposition with the stories and woes of executives with unmotivated kids.

I loved her advice to just let kids be bored sometimes.  It's so easy as parents to feel like we must be in an "educational moment" all the time, but Joanie's wisdom says we should back-off and allow kid's natural curiosity take over.

I couldn't agree more.  Our whole Inventor Camp framework revolves around letting kids jump into the deep end of the pool to see if they can figure out how to swim.  Standing back while kids discover things on their own inspires more learning than over-scheduling or helicoptering ever can.

It is a hard thing to let our kids face life on their own.  I know.  I have teens too.  But you don't have to take this road alone.  Sign your kids up for Inventor Camp and become a part of a growing community of parents who are learning to pull back on the helicoptering.  Head over to our Inventor Camp page and sign your teen up for the best summer of their lives!

We'll help you step back and let your teenager step up.

Original Episode Date: 4/22/16

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 086_-_Understanding_Engineers_with_Joanie_Connell.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 6:19pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Ted Dintersmith - Table Top Inventing PodcastIn This Episode

  • Why would an entrepreneur and noted venture capitalist zoom in on education?

  • How serious are the educational challenges we face in the US?

  • Is there a simple path forward to creating a better education for every student?

My guest today is Ted Dintersmith, noted venture capitalist, author, and executive producer of the Sundance-acclaimed education documentary, “Most Likely to Succeed.”  Ted believes that with the best of intentions, we’re ruining the futures of our kids, and our country. He says we stubbornly cling to an obsolete education model that prepares kids for assembly line jobs that no longer exist and that failed policies have turned school into a dreary regime of testing and accountability. Worse,  he believes that even our best students learn little, as so many lose curiosity, creativity, intrinsic motivation, and sense of purpose.  Ted is fresh off a 50-state tour of schools and communities with his film, throughout which he has also seen the very best of learning experiences which have provided for Ted an inspiring vision of how schools can launch kids into lives of competence and purpose. 

There are lots of opinions about how and why we should change the education in the US. If you only take one point away from today's show, consider this. What would happen if suddenly tomorrow we told every teacher in the country, "We trust you to turn our kids into curious, thoughtful, productive humans"?

Original Show Date: April 7, 2016

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 084_-_Succeeding_at_Education_with_Ted_Dintersmith.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 8:53pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

In This Episode

  • What is possible if you shut off the television?

  • Can you really do anything you want, if you set your mind to it?

  • How hard is it to learn to fly over 80 kinds of planes?

Scott Glaser - Table Top Inventing Podcast

Join us today as we rocket into a conversation about goals, dreams, and the grit to achieve them.

I love today's interview. I admit to having favorite episodes. This is one of them, but maybe not for the reasons you might think.

Today's guest is an engineer who loves to fly planes. He has degrees in aerospace engineering, but his true passion is being in the seat holding the stick or the wheel.

Scott Glaser is a one-of-a-kind individual. He wasn't able to go directly into military aviation but never gave up on the idea of flying military jets. Years later, he is now certified to fly many different kinds of planes including military aircraft. How did he manage to get to where he really wanted to be in the first place?

You'll have to listen in to hear the story, but I'll give you a hint: he learned to fail well.

I love Scott's story. I especially enjoyed the part where he said that it is important to Fail a LOT! You don't hear that very often trumpeted from the from of the room, but every innovator knows how important it is to be resilient. Scott specifically mentioned learning to "dust yourself off".

I have been interviewing many professionals and innovators for our podcast, and they are all giving this message, "Learn to fail well." Learning how to succeed is what we normally hear about, but learning to fail well is much harder yet infinitely more valuable to the innovator. I have heard it said, "If you aren't prepared to fail, you aren't prepared to innovate."

If you want your teenager to learn to fail well, go to and find out how you can get them involved in our programs. Failing well is in our DNA, and success is the natural outcome.

Original Episode Date: March 25, 2016

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 082_-_Getting_What_You_Want_with_Scott_Glaser.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 11:22pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Jason DiVenere - Table Top Inventing Podcast

In This Episode

  • What is the best way to get a flight into space if you are not currently an astronaut?
  • How serious is space tourism?
  • How can we feed that inner drive to explore?

Today's episode is about exploration which reminds me of a quote by T.S. Elliot.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

That's a great commentary on getting perspective, but Elliot is not suggesting we can get perspective without exploration. Instead, he is saying to get your rear end up off the couch and go see some new scenery!

You better strap yourself in with a 5-point harness for today's episode! We are blasting off with Jason DiVenere. Jason loves to explore. For fun, he might hop on a plane to Sydney, Australia, for lunch or an afternoon at the Sydney Opera House. During college, he spent time driving around the Mojave desert in southern California for the DARPA Grand Challenge team at his university.

Somewhere along the way, Jason became enamored with space travel. So in addition to exploring the desert in southern California or flying all over the world, his ultimate goal is to travel in space.

This goal drove him to some interesting lengths, but you'll have to listen to the rest of the podcast to satisfy your curiosity.

But before we jump in, Jason wanted me to point out that in our interview he is sharing his opinions. We mention Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, but he is not speaking in anyway for those companies. He is only sharing his experiences and perspectives.

Jason's story is compelling. He ended up working for the front-runner in space tourism simply because he wanted to go to space and he wouldn't take "no" for an answer! He's got curiosity AND grit--both characteristics that we want to see in every teenager.

If your teenager likes to build things but you're worried that they need more challenge, sign them up for an Inventor Camp near you. Inventor Camp is full of excitement and learning. We use powerful technology, and we don't dumb down the difficulty. Students get immersed in real scenarios, and versatile, real tools such as 3D printers, computer programming, and electronics.

Original Episode Date: 3/4/16

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 079_-_Space_Travel_with_Jason_DiVenere.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 7:19am PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

  • Do you have to be an engineer to make robots?
  • Are there any advantages to growing up on a farm?
  • How hard is it to build a life-sized R2-D2 robot?

Michael McMaster | Table Top Inventing PodcastNormally on the Table Top Inventing podcast we are discussing some form of inventor or innovator, and today is no exception. For most of us, the word "Farmer" does not really bring up images of innovation, but that would be a grave mistake.

Some great innovations have come from the farm. Every star in Hollywood looks great because of a gentleman named Eli Whitney, and if you visited a farm and got to drive one of those huge tractors, you would discover that onboard are sophisticated GPS systems, computers, and great air conditioning.

Today's guest brings a blend of down home wisdom and high tech curiosity. He even mentions one of my favorite electronics platforms--Arduino(R)! Let's find out how Michael McMaster went from farm boy to sci-fi robot builder.

I love learning about the unusual paths that some people take to success. Michael certainly has an unusual story with lots of opportunities for failure, getting back up again, and finding another way to try.

Michael's experience with practical, hands-on learning on the farm just underscores again that the Table Top Inventing classroom experiences such as Inventor Camp are an ideal place to start innovating. Head over to and check out Inventor Camp.


Original Episode Date: 2/11/16

Category: Makers & Innovators

Direct download: 077_-_Robotics_and_Farming_with_Michael_McMaster.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 5:55pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

  • Does your child want to become a doctor but doesn't have the grades?

  • Have you ever wondered what happens when you get put to sleep by an anesthesiologist?

  • What is the purpose of licenses and credentials?

Dr. Wayne Smith - Table Top Inventing PodcastJoin us as we strap on our boots for a trek along alternate paths into healthcare.

Today's podcast breaks a streak I've had for quite sometime on our podcast. For various reasons, I have not had the opportunity to interview a medical doctor for the Table Top Inventing podcast. However, healthcare is one of the fastest growing fields in our country today.

In fact, engineering and science to address healthcare challenges is also a quickly growing field. So I'm glad I found an unique and interesting anesthesiologist to speak to us about his journey to becoming a doctor and what a young person entering the field might want to consider.

Dr. Wayne Smith is a very curious individual with an unusual story to tell about starting with a 2.6 GPA out of high school and eventually exiting his residency in anesthesiology with excellence. This is not your typical 4 years of pre-med followed by 4 years of med-school followed by a residency. 

Dr. Smith certainly doesn't pull any punches. He worked hard and found a way where most others would have quit. Along the way, he discovered the valuable lessons of learning how to learn and seeking excellence for its own sake. Hold on to your seats as we take off for an aerial view of a curious path into healthcare.

If your student needs that little spark or push into a life of curiosity, head over to our website and find our Inventor Camp. Just like Dr. Smith, Inventor Camp helps students become curious about life and to seek out answers for themselves.

Dr. Smith said, "Learning is secondary only to things like sleeping and breathing and eating." Let us inspire your teenager to find that same excitement for learning!

Original Episode Date: 2/4/2016

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 076_-_Flying_High_with_Dr_Wayne_Smith.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 10:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

  • Have you ever wanted to work at Google?
  • Does Google really have a climbing wall at the office?
  • How important is practical programming experience if you want to work at Google?

Eric Hennigan - Table Top Inventing PodcastToday on the Table Top Inventing podcast we are talking to a Googler*. If you are curious about some of the things you've read about Google, their employees, and the amenities at the office, stay tuned.

On the interview, Eric Hennigan and I had such a great conversation that we went over time. So we added some bonus interview footage at the end. Don't miss it.

After college, Eric worked for the US Navy as a programmer. That experience convinced him to sharpen his skills as a programmer, and he went back for a PhD in Computer Science from UC Irvine. Along the way he discovered the best students are actually self-taught.

Eric has worked at several companies as a programmer, including Zodiac Aerospace, but currently he is a coder for Google. He doesn't say much about his duties as a YouTube ad wrangler, but his views on getting a great education are priceless.

Every time I talk to Eric I learn something new. He is just full of excellent insights and thinks deeply about life and learning.

For the last month or two, we've been talking about our Resonance Innovation Fellowship, but we're closing registration on that soon. However if you have students destined to be a programmer or engineer like Eric, stop by the Table Top Inventing website ( and learn more about Inventor Camp this summer. Inventor Camp is not your typical summer camp. Students actually learn more in 4 days at camp than in weeks during school, but they don't even know they are learning because it's so much fun.

The future can always be read by those who create it!

Original Episode Date: January 14, 2016

Category: Business Professional, Technology Educator

Direct download: 073_-_Googling_with_Eric_Hennigan.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 12:51am PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

  • Excellence in Learning with Andrew PudewaHow is the Suzuki Method related to writing?

  • How can students get past the "blank page" road block?

  • How can limitations actually increase creativity rather than decrease it?

Today's podcast will have several surprises and interesting practical approaches for teaching and learning. I have interviewed many fascinating guests, but you will be hard-pressed to find a better overview of powerful learning ideas on our podcast.

If you have ever played a musical instrument, you've probably heard of the Suzuki method for learning to play the violin. Today's guest has had the privilege of studying directly with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. His insights from working with Dr. Suzuki have significantly influenced his current passion of inspiring students to write with excellence.

Andrew Pudewa understands learning at a very deep level. His experiences with Dr. Suzuki and subsequently in starting the Institute for Excellence in Writing have common themes which we discuss in the interview.

This next year we will be taking a select group of 10-15 teens on a journey of self-discovery, deep intellectual curiosity, and innovation leadership. This is not a club, social gathering, or homework tutoring. The students in the Resonance Innovation Fellowship will be on a quest to find impact and world-change through the backdrop of technology. Email Steve at to take the next step!

Original Episode Date: January 7, 2016

Category: Business Professionals


Direct download: 072_-_Excellence_in_Learning_with_Andrew_Pudewa.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 10:45pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Educating Your Curiosity with Geoff WiggsHi, I'm Steve, the host of the Table Top Inventing Podcast. This is the 6th and final episode in our "Powerful Podcast" series this December.

Today you'll hear Geoff Wiggs say...

"Art teachers who've never been to Europe, who've never been to the Louvre, who've never been to the National Galleries in London put pictures of paintings up, and you say, 'Wow, that's a pretty painting.'

Then you go and stand in front of it in the Louvre or in the National Gallery of London, and the scale and the brightness of the pigments and the brush strokes brings everything out. It changes everything. It goes from being a sterile picture to being an event, but you have to have a level of intellectual curiosity to hike to Paris, get into the Louvre, stand in line long enough to see this painting... and then you've got to have a little bit of a soul to say, 'Wow, that was really amazing!'" 

Geoff is a big fan of experiential learning as you'll hear on today's interview. Today's episode may be a little edgy and irreverent, but I don't think any of us is surprised that a few students make it through the US Education system with some scars.  Geoff is now a successful attorney in northern CA and his experience is worth some tough reflection.

Geoff is a lot of fun. I think I enjoy talking to him because he's always curious and has unusual perspectives on life. Curiosity is one of those traits that rarely follows us from childhood to adulthood, but those who manage to keep it intact as they mature seem to have a much more interesting life. If you want to give your teenager an opportunity to find that level of curiosity and drive to discovery, you need to know about the Resonance Innovation Fellowship.

This next year we will be taking a select group of 10-15 teens on a journey of self-discovery, deep intellectual curiosity, and innovation leadership. This is not a club, social gathering, or homework tutoring. The students in the Resonance Innovation Fellowship will be on a quest to find impact and world-change through the backdrop of technology.

To find out more email me at

Don't wonder about the future. Email us, and we'll help you create it!


Original Episode Date: December 28, 2015

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 070_-_Educating_Your_Curiosity_with_Geoff_Wiggs.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 10:02pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes


How are ambition and serving others related?  Can we END neglected diseases in the third world?  How important are values and lifelong learning to success?  Join us on today's episode for a peek behind the curtain of true success.

Welcome to the Table Top Inventing podcast where we discuss innovation, success, and the path to a good life for teens and those who guide them.  We have a special treat for you today.  I had an opportunity to bump into a successful executive at a business conference earlier this fall.  I was so impressed by his story and the values of their company that I knew I had to find a way to bring his wisdom to our show.

Mark Stoleson is the CEO at Legatum a global private investment fund based in Dubai--The United Arab Emirates.  In the interview, Mark and I mostly cover the amazing successes and lessons he's learned along the way.  We didn't spend much time discussing the failures and challenges along the way, but afterward he told me,

"Steve, hopefully what will come out of this is something that is inspiring and not so far out of reach for people.  If we pull back the curtain a little farther, it has not been a continuous upward trajectory since elementary school with everything being a walk through fields of daisies.  It's had its ups and downs.  It's been a real life.

The secret of success in facing a challenge or a setback is what you do with the situation.  Even if hanging-on and persevering is the best you can do, that's doing really, really well.  Because it forms who you are and your character.  Some of the greatest benefits and opportunities come out of times of challenge."

I love the way Mark frames his experience.  As you listen to this interview remember some of the greatest success stories began in humble places.  It isn't about getting it right every time.  Success is about how you face what life brings.  Let's listen in for timeless wisdom from a life well-lived.

Original Release Date: 12/03/15

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 06420-20Ambition20and20Serving20with20Mark20Stoleson.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 10:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes


How can your teen grow up to work with their childhood hero?  What is the path to finding a passionate and exciting career?  What are some alternatives for intelligent teens who aren't thriving in an academic environment?  Listen in today for wisdom on these questions from a life-long entrepreneur.

This is the podcast where we discuss innovation, excellence, and entrepreneurship for teens and the adults who cheer for them.  Today's guest is a personal development enthusiast.  I won't tip the cards on the show just yet, but let me share a quote by one of my favorite physicists, Albert Einstein.

"All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual."

Humans contain the most powerful innovations coming in the future.  Every great product or human accomplishment began in the mind of a person.  In fact, the seed of those ideas probably began in the mind of teenagers.  Can parents and educators inspire teens to pursue those seeds of world-change?

I believe so strongly in those seeds of potential that we're starting a new project called the Resonance Innovation Fellowship where teens can find the mentoring and support to discover their full potential.  We have extensive experience working with teens and helping them accomplish unbelievable results.  If you know a high school student willing to push themselves, explore themselves, and grow more than anyone they know, send me an email at and mention RIF--Resonance Innovation Fellowship.

Kevin Miller grew up as an entrepreneur.  In fact from his earliest memories, he always thought of himself as an entrepreneur.  Recently his enthusiasm for personal development led him to work with the Zig Ziglar brand, and he's now the host of "The Ziglar Show", one of the top 10 most popular business podcasts in the world!  Listen in today to hear the exciting and gritty details of growing up as an innovator.

Original Release Date: 11/20/15

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 06220-20Free20Agent20Kevin20Miller.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 6:56am PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

What does it feel like to patrol the DMZ near North Korea?  What does it feel like to take a projectile to the chest in Iraq?  Is leadership really the same across all organizational structures?  Join us today to hear from an excellent leader retired from active military service in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, and most recently West Point.

This is the podcast where we discuss leadership and innovation for teenagers.  I can't wait to introduce today's guest!  We've been counting the days until Jonathan retired from his position at West Point so we could interview him for the show.  While in active military service, he wasn't allowed to speak publicly about his experiences, and having previous experience as a researcher in civil service with the Navy, I understand why the military has such strict policies.

Why should we be interested in the opinions of a retired military officer?  I have asked myself that question having been in the bureaucracy of the Navy, and eventually left because my free entrepreneurial spirit could not be reconciled to long term service as a civil servant.  So why would I interview a retired military officer for our podcast?  To be honest, there are still aspects of the military that call to my heart such as the Navy Seals training in San Diego.  The discipline and serving for a higher cause still calls to the heart of every red-blooded, patriotic American--regardless of your beliefs about the current politics.

The US is still the leader in innovation world-wide, specifically because we are so free thinking, but free-thinking requires solid, robust protection.  Many brave Americans pledge their lives and relinquish some of their freedom of choice to protect the ideals upon which our free-thinking is built.

I also believe that strong innovators must believe in the future and their innovation with the same discipline that a soldier holds to the commands and structures put into place by an honor-bound military.  So I had to interview Jonathan Silk to learn more about his philosophy of leadership.  You'll find Jonathan's story and perspectives irresistible.  Join me today as I interview an American hero.

Original Release Date: 11/12/15

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 06120-20Leading20People20with20Jonathan20Silk.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 5:01am PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

What is a microbusiness?  What lessons can teenagers learn by running a microbusiness?  Can teens run successful, money-making microbusinesses?  Join us today to discover more about teens with microbusinesses.

This is the podcast where we discuss success and innovation for teenagers.  No spoiler alerts today, but if you are interested in teenagers getting a jump start, stay locked in here!  

I remember reading an article several years back that discussed the dilemma of being a modern teen. In ages past, societies considered teens to be adults, and expected them to step up into the adult world and prove their worth to the society.  If we observe the teenager, we see the deep desire for significance.

Yet in the modern system of education, teens are asked to solve problems and challenges with little or no lasting value.  With apologies to my own fields of study, solving for x or finding the equations of motion of an already well-known set of differential equations just feels hollow and thin.

How do we navigate this juxtaposition between a teenager's internal drive for significance and the typical 4 years (and possibly another 4 year in college) of knowledge gathering which seems disconnected from reality?  I'll look up the article and post it in the show notes, but the conclusion of the article was to restructure our expectations and opportunities we offer during these years filled with passion and purpose.

On the podcast we discuss an alternative to our modern conundrum of how to keep teens engaged in meaningful education.  Carol Topp is an Engineer turned accountant--I know that's an unusual shift.  In the last few years, she has worked with many teens in her accounting practice, helping them structure what she likes to call a "microbusiness".  The experiences and learning that occurs in a microbusiness can be a great catalyst toward adding significance to the otherwise "dry learning" teens dread.  Let's find out more about Carol's experience and explore some new possibilities.

Original Release Date: 10/29/15

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 05920-20Teen20Microbusiness20with20Carol20Topp.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 5:43pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes


How do you keep a business running for 50 years?  How valuable is a good reputation?  What is the value of premium products in today's market?  Join us as we consider the value of quality on today's podcast.

This is the podcast where we talk innovation.  Today's guest innovates the old-fashioned way, and I think you are going to like Jim.  I don't normally start my introduction right off this way, but after speaking with Jim, it seemed appropriate.

Jim's dad started a small job shop 70 years ago, and Jim and his brother Bob turned that small machine shop into a stable business over the last 50 years.  They've weathered economic upturns, downturns, and major customer orders going south.  Their company is built around good old fashioned hard work and high quality.  Their products are well-known to outlast the competition by a long shot.

I got a funny feeling as I was interviewing Jim because his approach to quality and supplying a premium product felt very close to home.  If I could build a business to last 50 years around high quality and no compromise, I would be very proud.  As the founder of Table Top Inventing, I found myself taking careful notes!

Small businesses like McWelco are getting more rare these days, but great wisdom is sometimes stored in strange places.  Today, Jim McKinley tells us about how they survived 50 years and what he feels are the important values of a strong business and a successful life.


Original Release Date: 10/01/15

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 05520-20Creating20Excellence20with20Jim20McKinley.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 5:28am PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Can we actually get smarter?  Is IQ as static and unchangeable as we've been taught?  What is the path to getting smarter?  Join us for a thought-provoking discussion on today's podcast.

Hey there Innovators!  Today's guest will challenge your perspective on the world!  According to the late Dr. Reuven Feuerstein,

"The chromosomes do not have the last word!"

If you had the same biology textbooks and took the same developmental psychology classes I did in college, you were no doubt taught that IQ is a fixed quantity, independent of age and learning.  I never did like that answer because I always felt like I wanted to know more, be more, do more.  The idea of any fixed quantity bothered me then, and still grates against my optimistic view of the world.

Well, recent research is beginning to give a scientific basis for the results achieved by Dr. Feuerstein and others who have believed for years that cognitive modifiability is real.  Perhaps my grandma was onto something when she did that crossword puzzle from the newspaper every week.  New research indicates that exercising the brain strengthens it just like the muscles in the body!  This is great news for be because now I can train for higher performance, but it is particularly great news for those with traumatic brain injuries, learning disabilities, or other cognitive challenges.

These new ideas underline more than ever, the advantages of practicing and training the native creativity in teenagers.  We'd love to talk to you more about inspiring your teens to deeper questioning, higher problem solving, and broader creativity.  Just visit to learn more.

Today's guest is from the National Institute for Learning Development.  Kristin Barbour has been working with traumatic brain injury cases for years and now serves as the executive director for NILD.  Brace yourself for some unbelievable insights with Kristin on today's interview.

Original Release Date: 09/17/15

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 05320-20Getting20Smarter20with20Kristin20Barbour.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 4:58am PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes


How do you escape from the burnout trap?  What is the path from merely existing to really living?  What will our kids learn from our work habits?  Join us for the compelling answers on today's podcast.

Hey there Innovators!  Today's guest has seen the world from many angles and has some perspectives on how to find a life worth living.  As the old proverb goes,

Find something you love to do, and you'll never have to work a day in your life.

Our philosophy at Table Top Inventing revolves around helping students find the joy in learning.  We believe the first step to a happy life is to explore then to do more of what seemed to work.  That doesn't seem too complicated, but how many of us have worked in jobs we don't like, all the while telling ourselves we really need the money?

We never want students to wander into life without an idea of what they love to do.  If your student or child is creative and inventive, go to to find out more about how Table Top Inventing can help.

Today's guest is from Hawaii, but not too long ago, he lived in Milwaukee, WI.  He was sleeping 4 hours a night as a bread delivery guy and not getting much time with his kids, but now he's writing and speaking and loving life.  How can such a change occur?  Let's find out!

Original Release Date: 09/10/15

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 05220-20Really20Living20with20Kimanzi20Constable.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 2:35pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

What is so powerful about the question, Why?  Is the path to success a straight road or a crooked and winding path?  How is skateboarding related to corporate finance?  Join us for the circuitous answers on today's podcast.

Hey there Innovators!  Today's interview is with a guest from the future.  I won't spoil the surprise on that one.  I love to elicit questions.  I believe that questions are essential to life, and I'm in good company because Voltaire said,

"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers."

I am fond of the idea that answers are very short lived while questions can be self-perpetuating and almost immortal.  If I ask, "How does water fall?"  You could say, "Under the influence of gravity, water falls at 9.8 m/s^2."  That answer takes less than five seconds to say, but if I accept the answer, that's the end of my curiosity in that direction.

However, it turns out that the answer just given is only a small part of the processes possible with water.  By hooking a water hose up to a speaker or mixing water with Ethylene Glycol or watching water drop into sand, hundreds and thousands of new questions arise each leading to more questions.  Our guest today calls this the search for "Why?".  This simple word can lead to the farthest reaches of outer space or to the inner universes of atoms, nuclei, and even stranger things...

Here at Table Top Inventing, we believe that the best questions don't have simple answers.  Complexity and the intricacy of the real world can be a vehicle to a never ending stream of inspired questions.  Questions are the beginning of a quest, and quests can lead to all sorts of interesting places.

Our after school Inventor's Guild classes in Thousand Oaks, Hesperia, and Orange County are designed to be the genesis of intelligent questions not simple run-of-the-mill answers.  To learn more, email or visit

Today's interview was recorded on a Sunday from a guest on Monday.  How is that possible?  Well David Seto is an interesting character, and I connected with him while he was in Hong Kong on Monday which was Sunday afternoon here in California!  David has tried everything from law to finance and is now trying his hand at entrepreneurship.  He grew up in NYC, and his parents literally owned and operated a "mom and pop" store.  Let's find out how a kid from NYC grew up to be a curious coordinator of corporate finance.

Original Release Date; 9/3/15

Category: Business Professionals


Direct download: 05120-20Asking20Why20with20David20Seto.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 4:07pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Phil Drake and Steve Kurti - Table Top Inventing Podcast

How important are failures in the process of success? Just how different is a career in computer science in 1977 from the same degree in 2015? Can small town students find success in the "real world"? Join us for the down home answers on today's podcast.

Hey there, Innovation Nation! Today's guest is from my home town of Franklin, NC. Franklin is a small town in the Smoky Mountains and home to some of the most down-to-earth, gentle, gracious folks in the country--I'm not biased or anything. As a kid, I always dreamed about growing up to be significant, and businessmen like Mr. Drake fired my imagination. However as a young teenager, noone told me how to get on that path to significance.

Unfortunately, many young teenagers are like I was:  a little misguided. I didn't know what it took to realize great dreams, but T. E. Lawrence--an English archaeologist and military officer--sums up the process quite poetically.  He says,

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did."

Great deeds do not begin on the drawing board. They begin in the heart. Perhaps rather than trying to find out how great our students are by testing them, we should instead spend time working to inspire them.

At Table Top Inventing, we exist to inspire teenagers. Our summer Inventor's Bootcamps, after school Inventor Workshops, and exclusive tech mentoring are all designed to inspire students to aim higher. Our globe is facing significant challenges over the next 20 years, and today's students will be the ones to solve many of the current problems.

Students must learn that they can find the answers they need through research, experimenting, and collaborating with others. They need to discover just how powerful they can really be, but these realizations will not happen by accident. The proper environment for innovative, creative learning is essential. Learn more at

Today's guest is no stranger to innovation. Phil Drake started programming a computer in 1977 when computers still had to be programmed by hand if you wanted them to do anything. You might think that such a forward thinking individual would come from New York City or LA or San Francisco, but this entrepreneur started life on a farm as the son of the local "tax man". Let's listen in to the story of a fascinating homegrown businessman.

Original release date: August 20, 2015

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 04920-20Running20the20Numbers20with20Phil20Drake.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 7:10pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Table Top Inventing Podcast: Kirk BowmanHow does a music teacher for a school district create a successful software business? What is the connection between entrepreneurial thinking and great school performance? How can farm work encourage a young man to become an entrepreneur? Listen in for the wide ranging answers in today’s podcast!

Hey there, Innovation Nation! Our guest today has a broad background with a distinct entrepreneurial thread. Entrepreneurs are the reason we have iPhones, cars, planes, and most other modern conveniences. They see a problem in the world and proceed to fix it. I came across a great quote today about entrepreneurs from Nolan Bushnell. He says,

“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

Nolan knows what he’s talking about because he’s done quite a few things including starting Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza. He lives entrepreneurship and his son, Brent Bushnell who was on our podcast earlier this year, caught the same entrepreneurial bug, and we want to pass that same spark onto all the kids in our Inventor’s Bootcamp this summer.

If you think about many of the tech startup companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, etc., they were started by passionate young entrepreneurs that caught the vision early. We know how to fan those flames in our Inventor’s Bootcamp. We introduce teens to technologies they never knew they could learn, and then set them loose to innovate. Kevin is one of those teens. He started by learning about 3D printing, and recently his mother told me that he’s begun taking all kinds of things apart at home just to see how they work!

Today our guest, Kirk Bowman, is from the great state of Texas, and he and I discuss the effects of entrepreneurial tendencies on his life trajectory. He started his first business as a farm kid selling blackberries and now has a software company and is starting a consulting business focused on helping businesses properly price their products. Join me for a fascinating discussion about how entrepreneurial thinking can shape your world.

Original release date: August 13, 2015

Direct download: 048_-_Value_of_Entrepreneurship_with_Kirk_Bowman.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 6:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Ed Kless - Table Top Inventing PodcastIs it possible that questions are more powerful than answers? What is the ultimate question? What are the Latin roots of the word “educate”? Listen in for a deep discussion about the answers in today’s podcast!

Hey there, Innovation Nation! You are in for quite a ride today. Strap on your oxygen tanks because today, we are going deep.

“Language was invented to ask questions. Answers may be given by grunts or gestures, but questions must be spoken. Humanness came of age when man asked the first question. Social stagnation results not from lack of answers but from the absence of the impulse to ask questions.”

This quote by Eric Hoffer has become my new favorite. Our guest today, Ed Kless mentioned it, and I had to go find it afterwards. Hoffer basically says that curiosity is the engine of human social structures. Curiosity in this context is not just following random synapse firings but rather the pursuit of intelligent, thoughtful impulses of the human heart. From these impulses spring the desire to understand others, to understand the world around, and perhaps in its most powerful form, to understand ourselves.

I’ve said it here on the podcast before, but it always bears repeating: Answers are short-lived and uninspiring, but a burning question can fuel curiosity and even a whole life’s work. Curiosity about numbers and burning questions about how they behave have driven mathematicians such as Paul ErdÅ‘s to create a rich and vibrant understanding of math. Burning questions about how the most basic elements of the universe interact have driven physicists such as Erwin Schrödinger, Richard Feynman, and the ubiquitous Albert Einstein to develop a robust theory of matter and energy along with a rich understanding of their underlying constituents.

Questions always involve a quest, and quests are rich and varied things which almost never end up the way we imagined them in the beginning. I’m not one of those who believe the “journey is the destination”, but the journey certainly makes for great stories and wonderful memories once we reach a destination. For some of us, the journey often calls us back to the open road of life to ask ever deeper questions or perhaps just to find some other interesting destination. No matter your disposition in life, questions and the pursuit of their answers are at the core of what it means to be human as Hoffer suggests.

Today, Ed Kless and I will delve into deep water. Ed is a fellow podcaster. He is a businessman. He is a philosopher. He is a thespian. Let’s find out more about our fascinating guest.

Original Release Date: 8/6/15

Direct download: 48_047__Great_Questions_with_Ed_Kless.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 6:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

John Griffith - Table Top Inventing PodcastHow can a teenager from a good, decent, wonderful family end up making a mess out of their life by the age of 15? What is the path from poor teenage choices to a life of purpose and meaning? Where can parents look for some hope if their teen has taken a very bad path? Listen in for sobering answers in today’s podcast!

Hey there, Innovation Nation! I got to talk to one of the most amazing individuals on today’s podcast! If you like underdog, transformation stories, then today’s episode is tailor made for you, and I think you’ll agree with Norman Vincent Peale who said,

“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.”

Confidence, or believing in yourself as the quote says, radically shifts what is possible. Belief for or against our own ability can have dramatic effects on what is possible. As individuals and even as a society, we often believe something to be impossible–such as running a four minute mile. No documented cases of a mile being run faster than 4 minutes was documented until an English runner named Roger Bannister did it on May 6, 1954. For thousands of years we have run and competed in running games. Yet for some reason in the years just following Roger Bannister’s record-breaking run, many athletes began to run a four minute mile, and now it is common for a professional male middle distance runner to be able to run a four minute mile. Why the sudden change?

Truthfully, we don’t know exactly what causes achievement, but we do know that limiting beliefs can have a significant effect on us. For this reason, we work very hard to remove limiting beliefs as students tackle challenges in our Inventor’s Bootcamp every summer. Students are encouraged to try new things and notice the outcomes because trying a new activity often leads us to new thinking. In fact, it turns out that the secret sauce for Roger Bannister had quite a bit to do with a new type of training that he began around that time. He noted significant changes in his running times after some of his training adjustments and continued in that direction. This approach of varying the inputs and observing the outputs is just the practical application of the scientific method which is in high regard during Inventor’s Bootcamp.

If you’d like to find out more about Inventor’s Bootcamp, visit and click on the Inventor’s Bootcamp button.

Today I get the privilege of introducing you to one of the most remarkable individuals to be on our podcast, John Griffith. John’s is truly a story of tragedy and triumph. I won’t spoil the plot, so join me as we go on a journey through innocence and tragedy to great hope.

Original Release Date: 7/23/15

Direct download: 045_-_Breakin_It_Down_with_John_Griffith.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Caleb Simonyi-Gindele - Table Top Inventing PodcastHow do we foster curiosity and innovation in kids? How does a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy sharpen your business skills? How important is human uniqueness? Listen in for the thought-provoking answers in today’s podcast!

Hey there, Innovation Nation! My guest today is a curious Canadian. I won’t give too much away just yet, but his focus on the importance of uniqueness prompted me to look up this quote by Salman Rushdie.

“Human beings, you see, do absolutely two primary things. We see like and unlike. Like becomes, in literature, simile and metaphor. Unlike becomes uniqueness and difference, from which I believe, the novel is born.”

Similarities and differences drive the uniqueness of human culture. Without similarities we would have no common ground upon which to connect. Yet without the differences, we would have no reason to exist because another person could just as easily take our place.

Teenagers are at that point in their lives when they are just beginning to find out what makes them unique. We have found the environment we create in the Inventor’s Bootcamp to be one of those magical places where uniqueness and creative exploration grow. Every single class we can honestly say, “I’ve never seen that before!” Students never cease to amaze us like the bottle-top-vampire-security-system built by three teenage girls last summer. The new skills students learn and the uniqueness they bring make the Inventor’s Bootcamp an unforgettable experience.

To learn more about Inventor’s Bootcamp, visit and click on the Inventor’s Bootcamp button.

As with most of our guests, I can honestly say that Caleb Simonyi-Gindele is unique. His perspective on business seen through the lens of both a curious innovator and a trained Marriage and Family Therapist is truly one-of-a-kind. Let’s dive in and pick the brain of a truly deep thinker.

Original Release Date: 7/16/15

Direct download: 044_-_Human_Uniqueness_with_Caleb_Simonyi-Gindele.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Jody Maberry - Table Top Inventing PodcastCan a student get A’s in College Calculus after almost failing algebra in high school? How does a financial analyst find his way to becoming a Park Ranger? What is the power of a story to influence students, customers, or acquaintances? Listen in for the engaging answers in today’s podcast!

Hey there, Innovation Nation! Today’s guest is anything but ordinary. As a Park Ranger turned MBA, he’s a real story teller! As humans we long to have the world woven into a story. John Steinbeck said,

“We are lonesome animals. We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say-and to feel- ‘Yes, that is the way it is, or at least that is the way I feel it.’ You’re not as alone as you thought.”

I was actually thinking that very thought this morning as I listened again to one of my favorite stories. I like to start my day of with a good story to launch me into the day. I love harrowing stories with heroes and villains and underdogs. Do you like stories like I do?

If so, you might resonate with this story. Last summer during one of our Inventor’s Bootcamps, we had a young teenager. His name was Eric, and he wasn’t fitting in very well with his team. He was obviously a bright young man but needed to find his place in our high tech summer camp. He had tried the electronics and programming but hadn’t meshed very well. Then he tried the 3D design and was taken to another world! He spent the rest of the week designing and 3D printing his designs. The real kicker? Eric was on the Autism spectrum and yet found a way to thrive in his team!

To find out more about Inventor’s Bootcamp, visit!

And now to our story teller of the day: Jody Maberry. Jody started off as a pretty bad high school student, but even though he dropped his Basic Algebra class twice in college for poor grades, two years later he was getting an A in calculus. Let’s listen in to find out how this transformation occurred.

Original Release Date: 7/9/15

Direct download: 043_-_A_Good_Story_with_Jody_Maberry.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Tom Friedhof - Table Top Inventing PodcastDoes being a drummer really correlate to strong logical skills? How important is reading books to success? How important is application in the learning process? Listen in for answers in today’s podcast!

Hey there, Innovation Nation! If you don’t know what LoL is, I bet your kids do. Our guest today has helped companies like Riot Games, the XPrize Foundation, and Hollywood’s “The Wrap” craft great looking websites. In our interview, Tom referenced a great quote by the late Stephen Covey from his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

“Remember, to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.”

I am the poster child for this quote. Every time I learn something, I want to go find out if it really works. My problem is that I read and learn so much! Yet the wisdom is backed by some of the best educational theory. There are probably hundreds if not thousands of papers on the subject of applying knowledge and the value of application. There is no substitute for trying an idea if we want it to stick.

We see the value of this idea every year in our Inventor’s Bootcamp summer program for teens. Just a couple weeks ago we had our first Inventor’s Bootcamp of 2015, and I remember vividly a girl named Claire. She was trying to understand how to wire up and use her team’s Impact sensor which measures the change of pressure with time. I could tell my words were quickly making her eyes roll back in her head, so I encouraged her to try the computer code to see what would happen. She tinkered with it for 5 or 10 minutes, and then I heard my favorite sound: “Ohhhhhhh!!” and a second later, “I get it. That is sooooo cool!”

This experience gets played out dozens of times every week during Inventor’s Bootcamp because we let kids use technology and get their hands on it.

If you’d like to find out more about Inventor’s Bootcamp, visit and click on the Inventor’s Bootcamp button.

And now let’s introduce Tom Friedhof. Tom’s company ActiveLamp creates beautiful, intuitive websites for some very well known brands. Yet he didn’t get his start in the coding world in the normal fashion. Let’s get the story from Tom.

Original Release Date: 7/2/15

Direct download: 042_-_Gotta_Do_It_with_Tom_Friedhof.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 6:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Jared Easley - Table Top Inventing PodcastHow does a successful corporate professional at the top of his game recover from a layoff in December? How can buying a bottle of maple syrup be a life-changing experience? Does noticing and helping other people really matter in business? Listen in for the solid answers in today’s podcast!

Hey there, Innovation Nation! My guest today is a great podcaster. In fact, he and his partners have started a conference for podcasting called “Podcast Movement,” but before we dive into today’s interview, something Jared said reminded me of a quote from the book “The Go Giver” by Burg and Mann:

“All the great fortunes in the world have been created by men and women who had a greater passion for what they were giving – their product, service or idea – than for what they were getting. And many of those great fortunes have been squandered by others who had a greater passion for what they were getting than what they were giving.”

We often have this view of business as a one way street where businesses take our money, but if we back up a moment and take a good look, we’ll notice that the best and most trusted businesses have a long-standing habit of serving their customers very well. In fact, I heard a story about a Nordstrom’s employee who took a return on some snow tires! See the show notes for a link. However in real life, can we really be that generous? Does generosity matter?

We think it does. In fact in our summer Inventor’s Bootcamp classes, students are always encouraged to share what they’ve learned with other students rather than keeping the knowledge to themselves. Just last week when we had our first class of the summer, one of the students became known as “the wiring guy” because he figured out and memorized the wiring for the robot motors everyone was using. Not only did the other students get the help they needed faster, Audin “the wiring guy” got a great sense of confidence from helping.

To learn more about Inventor’s Bootcamp, visit and click on the Inventor’s Bootcamp button.

I’m excited, today, to introduce you to Jared Easley. Jared recently suffered a dramatic corporate downsizing incident that left him reeling but managed to silence all the doom and gloom voices that seem to plague us at moments like that. He cites as his inspirational turn around, the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the sincere gratitude of a podcast listener. Let’s find out more about this fascinating story.

Original release date: 6/18/2015

Direct download: 040_-_Investing_in_People_with_Jared_Easley.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 6:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Lee Cockerell - Table Top Inventing PodcastHow does a cook in the army learn to become the Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World? What is the importance of Role Modeling? How important is having dinner together as a family? Listen in for the timeless answers in today’s podcast!

Hey there, Innovation Nation! My guest today has connections in one of the most magical places in the world! I won’t spoil the surprise yet, so let me distract you for a moment with a great insight from James Baldwin:

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

Unfortunately, I have observed this to be true with my own kids! Kids seem to have a sixth sense for seeing the difference between what we say and what we do. In today’s episode we’ll touch on this topic, and I think it is a particularly poignant topic. In our Inventor’s Bootcamps, we encourage kids to explore, tinker, try stuff because the process of trying something new, varying the approach, and iterating until success is the only way to learn anything. It is such a powerful idea that the best business leaders encourage it, and we use the same process in our company whenever we try a new idea.

If you’d like your kids to learn this success formula in a fun and engaging Inventor’s Bootcamp environment this summer, visit and click on the Inventor’s Bootcamp button.

And now to break the suspense about today’s guest! For 10 years, Lee Cockerell was directly responsible for the Disney Magic at Walt Disney World Resorts in Florida. Since then he has focused in on great leadership and training another generation of great leaders. Let’s listen in as Lee shares some timeless treasures of leadership.

Original Release Date: 6/3/15

Direct download: 038_-_Leadership_with_Lee_Cockerell.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Stephen Key - Table Top Inventing PodcastDo you need a patent to make money on a great idea? What choices to inventors have to bring their ideas to market? Can you start a successful business as an art major?

Hey there, Innovation Nation! Today we’re talking inventing–one of my favorite subjects–and I just read a great quote by the business strategist Gary Hamel:

“As human beings, we are the only organisms that create for the sheer stupid pleasure of doing so. Whether it’s laying out a garden, composing a new tune on the piano, writing a bit of poetry, manipulating a digital photo, redecorating a room, or inventing a new chili recipe – we are happiest when we are creating.”

I agree whole-heartedly as does my guest on the podcast today, inventing coach Stephen Key. I just lose track of time when I’m creating something, whether it be a recipe I’m developing or a 3D design I’m making and printing in our 3D printing lab. I am truly happiest when I’m creating.

We believe this idea so strongly that we’ve built a whole company around it, including on of our favorite activities–Inventor’s Bootcamp. We fill a room with 3D printers, embedded processors, sensors, 3D design software, and computers for programming, and then set students free to discover that ever dangerous idea: I can learn on my own. In every class, several students are set free to discover the universe without the limits imposed by others.

To find out more about the Inventor’s Bootcamp visit or you can just visit and click the Inventor’s Bootcamp button.

Our guest today is a well-known inventor and coach to upcoming inventors. His students have been on the television show “Shark Tank”, and most of us have probably used one or more products designed and licensed by Stephen Key. Today’s interview is a peak into the mind of a great inventor.

Original Release Date: 5/7/15

Direct download: 034_-_Inventing_and_Licensing_with_Stephen_Key.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Francesco Ferrazzino - Table Top Inventing PodcastWhat is the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality? What are the advantages of failure? How can the latin expression “forma mentis” improve your success?

Hey there, Innovation Nation! I read a book recently by a Stanford University Professor, Carol Dweck. The name of the book is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Carol Dweck says,

“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”

This approach to learning grows a student’s confidence and ability to explore. In our Inventor’s Bootcamp experiences, students are taught this type of exploratory and challenging mindset. We fill a room with 3D printers, embedded processors, sensors, 3D design software, and computers for programming, and then give the students a big challenge. Every year, we never cease to be amazed at the creative solutions and capability demonstrated, as Carol Dweck has correctly predicted.

To find out more about the Inventor’s Bootcamp visit or you can just visit and click the Inventor’s Bootcamp button.

Today our guest is the founder of a literally game-changing company. Proxy42 was founded by Francesco Ferrazzino and a video for their amazing new game can be found at After the interview, I strongly recommend you take the 2.5 minutes to watch it. This approach will change how games are played. If you’re listening to this from the United States, you may find Francesco’s accent a little thick, but I will make no apologies. This interview is among the best I’ve ever had. Listen to it, and the re-listen to it. His ideas are powerful.

Original Release Date: 4/30/15

Direct download: 033_-_Augmented_Reality_with_Francesco_Ferrazzino.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 7:04pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

David Hancock - Table Top Inventing PodcastHow difficult is it to write and publish a book? You’ve heard of guerrilla warfare, but what is Guerrilla Marketing? Do you need to have a college education to write a book?

Hey there, Innovation Nation! I am thoroughly enjoying the warmer weather. Our little orchard out back is beginning to come to life. I love seeing the fruit growing on our apple, peach, pear, and apricot trees. It reminds me of the growth and excitement we experience every summer in our Inventor’s Bootcamps. I get really excited about Inventor’s Bootcamp because there’s so much growth and creativity and excitement as the students build crazy engineering contraptions with 3D printers and wire them up with a little electronic trickery and programming prowess. The amount of creativity, confidence, curiosity, and deep thinking of the students in these summer camps is almost unbelievable.

To find out more visit or you can just visit and click the Inventor’s Bootcamp button.

Today our guest is the founder of a game-changing book publishing company, David Hancock! Morgan James Publishing is revolutionizing the way authors interact with their publisher. Publishing has never been easier, and no company has ever worked this hard to help authors succeed. Listen in to today’s podcast to find out more!

Original Release Date: 4/23/15

Direct download: 032_-_Guerrilla_Publishing_with_David_Hancock.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 7:58pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Mike Ghost - Table Top Inventing PodcastWhat happens to trash once it hops into the trash truck from my garbage can? What is the value of a 4-year education beyond the classes offered? Why would federal investigators show up to a landfill? How do we turn play into learning?

Today are talkin’ trash with Mike Ghost! Well, not exactly like that… Today we’ll be talking to a former district manager for Waste Management about what happens to your trash after it leaves the can at the curb. Along the way, we’ll also discover how one man’s journey through high school to college to the workforce and back to college led him to appreciate the value of an education.

This week’s Great Inventor Secrets is actually brought to us by Jonathan Butcher and Daniel Cheung who were featured on last week’s podcast. We had so much great material that I wanted to share a few more minutes of our conversation with a couple of great inventors. Tune in and learn more!

Original Release Date: 2/19/15

Direct download: 023_-_Talking_Trash_with_Mike_Ghost.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Mark Haapala - Table Top Inventing PodcastWho exactly are Perspicacity and Perspicuity, and why are they on our podcast? What would make an insurance claims investigator participate in renaissance fairs? If the devil is in the details, why are they so important? What can cause a classroom full of budding mathematicians gape in amazement?

Speaking of world change, on the show we have an investigator who pries into the business of large corporations. Now it’s not what you might think, but I’ll let Mark tell you more about what he does.

Original Release Date: 2/5/15

Direct download: 021_-_Mark_Haapala_and_the_Devil_in_the_Details.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Ben Meredith - Table Top Inventing PodcastWhat would lead a music director to a career in computer coding? How can you get people to read your online posts even if the content seems at first to be bland? Is it really necessary to create an explosion every time I light the grill? Why did Nikola Tesla wiggle his toes 100 times every night? What does all this have to do with inventing and education?

Our guest today, Ben Meredith, is a self-taught web developer who creates great WordPress plugins. If you aren’t familiar with WordPress, it is a web kit to help average people start a website. Forbes says that 20% of Websites are now powered by WordPress–that’s somewhere north of 60 million websites powered by WordPress–and Ben is developing plugins for this extremely powerful web force. Listen in to see what Ben has to say about the power of the web and self-education.

Original Release Date: 1/22/15

Direct download: 019_-_From_Choir_to_Coding_with_Ben_Meredith.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Larry Roland - Table Top Inventing PodcastWhat is the career path from a mail room clerk to the Marketing Director for a multinational company? What does a marketing guy think about the need for algebra? What is the secret for starting a conversation with someone you don’t know? What is my secret weapon for taking a shallow conversation to a deeper level? Stay tuned for the answers in today’s podcast.

Our guest today, Larry Roland, is the marketing director for a major multinational transportation company. Larry shares some candid thoughts about what it means to be educated and how he got his own education.

Original Release Date: 1/15/15

Direct download: 018_-_Social_Engineering_with_Larry_Roland.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Geoff Wiggs - Table Top Inventing PodcastGeoff Wiggs is a 3rd career attorney. His resume includes a service in the Air Force, a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and a Master’s in Business Administration. United States Air Force – Airborne Vietnamese Cryptologic Linguist Geoff served nearly 10 years in the United States Air Force as a Vietnamese Cryptologic Linguist. He spent 52 weeks at the Presidio of Monterey learning the Vietnamese language. His service included stations in the Far East as well as in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm.

Computer Consultancy – Orcas Technologies, Inc.
For nearly 20 years, Geoff ran his own computer consultancy, Orcas Technologies, Inc. He has a degree in Computer Science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University with a focus in Strategic Implementation. As an independent computer consultant, he worked with Wholesale Food Distributors to optimize their 
departmental processes and help them get the most out of their computer software and hardware. He worked with distributors across the nation.

Master in Business Administration
While running his own business, he found time to pursue his Master’s in Business Administration from Pepperdine University. He focused in Strategic Implementation. After receiving his MBA, he worked for two years as a management consultant through his computer consultancy.

Law Practice
After spending a few years working as an independent management consultant, he decided to go to law school. While he was in law school, he concentrated on Consumer, Bankruptcy and Startup Law. While in school, he worked as a volunteer clerk in Chambers in the San Jose bankruptcy court and graduated from Santa Clara in May, 2009. For family reasons he was unable to sit for the bar exam until February of 2011, when he took the exam and passed. After passing the bar, he started his own law practice. Today, he focuses his practice on bankruptcy and consumer law as well as general civil law.

Original Release Date: 12/11/14

Direct download: 013_-_Fire_History_STEM_and_Geoff_Wiggs.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 8:38pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

John Westrum - Table Top Inventing PodcastJohn Westrum is the Vice President of Operations at Afinia, a division of Microboards Technology, LLC.  John has been instrumental in introducing the Afinia 3D printer into the US market, and has a long-term view on products and sales with his 20+ year tenure as a VP at Microboards.  John knows his business inside and out including the marketing and sales, the support and engineering, as well as the purchasing side.  We approached John because we were interested in his views both of Maker Education as well as his perspective on our core question, "What is the purpose of an education?".

Category: Business Professionals
Original Release Date: 10/30/14

Direct download: 007_-_John_Westrum_Interview.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 2:00am PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Alex Huthmacher - Table Top Inventing PodcastToday on our podcast we will be talking with Alex Huthmacher.  Alex is the Manager of Network Infrastructure at 21st Century Fox where he Manages projects, configures network devices, firewalls, switches, load balancers, ect.  Before working at FOX Alex was network engineer at Sandia National Laboratories where he focused on security in network integration.  Alex has also worked at the Xerox data center in San Diego where he helped them migrate the infrastructure to Texas.  With all this experience you might expect a much older man, but Alex's determination, hands-on experience, and insatiable curiosity have served him well at his young age.

Category: Business Professionals

Original Release Date: 10/2/14

Direct download: 003_-_Alex_Huthmacher_Interview_1.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 6:03pm PST