After watching a special of The Oprah Winfrey Show about the AIDS epidemic in Africa, 11-year-old Kendall Ciesemier founded the organization Kids Caring 4 Kids in 2004. After this event, Kendall knew she had seen the opportunity she was waiting for — a chance to give her life more purpose than the chronic liver disease she had grown up fighting against. She spent the next eight years spreading awareness and supporting students in Zambia — growing generous hearts and global vision among kids.
Today, Kendall is a producer, writer, and social entrepreneur who works at digital news company, Mic — where she notably broke a story about Alice Marie Johnson that drew the attention of Kim Kardashian West, President Donald Trump, and the world. Kendall’s work has also been featured in a wide variety of news programs and publications, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Glamour Magazine, and Forbes. Kendall has been honored as the 2014 Glamour Magazine College Woman of the Year as well as one of Youth Service America’s “Top 25 Most Powerful and Influential Young People.”
In this conversation, Branden and Kendall dive deep into her story of thriving in the midst of life’s struggles, finding purpose and passion, how to use media to drive social change, and where to begin after overcoming adversity.
Jamie Tworkowski’s life changed in 2006 when he met Renee Yohe and wrote a story called “To Write Love on Her Arms.” He posted the story on MySpace and began selling TWLOHA t-shirts as a way to help pay for Renee’s treatment. Today, TWLOHA has now responded to 200,000 messages from people in 100 countries, in addition to giving two million dollars to mental health treatment and recovery.
Jamie is the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms and the New York Times bestselling author of ‘If You Feel Too Much’. Currently, he’s been putting his time into HEART CAMP — a two-day workshop that invites the attendees to dive into matters of mental health, authenticity, writing, starting something that matters, and bringing their heart to work.
In this conversation, Branden and Jamie get real and personal about the cost of putting everything into your work, moving courageously toward transition and new chapters, and why the greatest thing we can do is to choose to stay until tomorrow.
Before we figured out that it wasn’t ok to stand out and do crazy things for fear of rejection, we had a period of our lives where we weren’t afraid to do stuff. Author, speaker, and media producer, CJ Casciotta, has passionately given himself over to the idea that if we’d get back in touch with what makes us different, we’d change the world.
CJ Casciotta has helped some of the world’s biggest brands discover their unique identity and share it creatively including Lululemon, The United Nations, MGM Studios, and Whole Foods. He also spends time speaking around the country at places including TEDx, STORY Conference, and charity: water, to name a few.
In this conversation, Branden and CJ talk about his newly released book: ‘Get Weird: Discover the Surprising Secret to Making a Difference’ — diving deep into the truth of how getting weird just might be the key to making the world a better place.
Civil rights activist, teacher, and author, DeRay Mckesson thinks hope is the belief that tomorrow can be better than today. As one of the leading voices in the Black Lives Matter Movement and the co-founder of Campaign Zero, DeRay has spent his life working to connect individuals with knowledge and tools, and provide citizens and policy-makers with commonsense policies to ensure equity.
He’s most notably known as the host of Pod Save the People and named as one of the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine in 2015 — as well as as one of the 30 Most Influential People on the Internet by Time Magazine in 2016.
In this conversation, Branden and DeRay talk about his book ‘On the Other Side of Freedom’ and his personal journey of advocacy and activism that has caught America’s attention.
Most notably recognized as the most popular figure from ABC’s The Bachelor, Ben Higgins is someone who is currently leveraging his platform of fame for good. Currently known for hosting iHeart Radio’s pop culture podcast, Almost Famous, nothing could have adequately prepared Ben for how appearing on one of the highest grossing television shows would ultimately pave the way for him to accomplish his humanitarian dreams.
Today, Ben is the CEO and founder of Generous, a ‘for-purpose’ business that aims to use profits to fund operational expenses of nonprofits doing sustainable, life-changing work around the world. Ben also sits on the board of Humanity and Hoped United — a nonprofit working to assist underserved villages in Honduras through creating jobs, access to education, clean water, and health care.
In this conversation, Branden and Ben unpack what it means to lead a life of purpose and generosity, the importance of getting angry about injustice, the burden of fame, humanitarian work, and living into the meaningful questions that inevitably come with faith.
Lisa Gungor’s faith was the lens through which she viewed her marriage, music, and dreams—all of which the world witnessed through her and her husband’s Grammy nominated band, Gungor. Yet, when the lens was shattered through events like the unraveling of a career, the loss of a worldview, and the birth of a baby girl with heart defects, it led Lisa to a tumultuous place — until it gave way to a new perspective.
In this conversation, Branden and Lisa talk about her process of writing her latest book, The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen. She also unravels what it means to hit rock bottom, understand what suffering is, feel what love can do, and continue to open our eyes to wonder in the heartbreak.
While living in Ethiopia in 2010, Founder and CEO of the lifestyle brand ABLE, Barrett Ward, saw firsthand how extreme poverty forced young women, generation after generation, to resort to prostitution as a means of supporting themselves and their families. He saw that they needed an opportunity to earn a living with dignity, empowering themselves to end the cycle of poverty. This was the beginning of Barrett’s life’s work at ABLE.
Leading a fashion lifestyle brand might be an unlikely role for someone self-described as ‘not a fashion guy’, but that’s exactly where Barrett Ward then found himself. Barrett is now the visionary behind the rapidly growing Nashville-based company disrupting the fashion industry with a social conscience. Today, the company employs more than 300 women in Ethiopia, Peru, Mexico, and Nashville.
In this conversation, Branden and Barrett unpack the importance of making an impact where it matters most, building a company based on radical transparency and second chances, and the importance of fostering an attitude of gratitude in your sphere.
Jodi Ettenberg is a Canadian ex-lawyer who later discovered her passion in the world of food and travel. On her award-winning website, Legal Nomads, she’s helped people all over the world to explore the world around them, not with fear and suspicion, but with open-minded curiosity and compassion.
Jodi’s writing has been recognized by the world’s top online publications such as the New York Times, BBC, National Geographic, The Guardian, CNN, and Bloomberg.
A decade later, because of a crazy unfortunate turn of events involving a spinal tap, Jodi is left wondering if she’ll ever be able to live her life of food and travel ever again. In this conversation with Branden Harvey, Jodi shares her wildly heartbreaking and powerful story for the first time on a podcast since the turn of events that changed her life forever.
In a pit of depression, Ben Nemtin and his three best friends decided to create the world’s greatest bucket list to make them feel alive. They bought a rickety old bus and criss-crossed North America, achieving the unthinkable. And most importantly, every time they accomplished a dream, they helped a complete stranger cross something off their bucket list — this was the beginning of The Buried Life movement.
Ben Nemtin is now the #1 New York Times bestselling author of What Do You Want To Do Before You Die? and the star of the MTV show The Buried Life. As the co-founder of The Buried Life movement, Ben’s message of radical possibility has been featured by major media outlets including The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and NBC News. An acclaimed keynote speaker, Nemtin has presented his '5 Steps to Make the Impossible Possible' to business conferences and corporate leadership teams around the world.
From playing basketball with President Obama to streaking a professional soccer field, from raising over $400,000 for charity to placing a record-breaking $250,000 bet on roulette—Ben’s bucket list quest has inspired millions to chase their dreams and realize that impossible is possible.
In this conversation, Branden and Ben dive deep into how to make the impossible possible and why humanity puts off the things we really want to do in our day-to-day lives.
From his humble beginnings in Bradenton, Florida, R&B singer and classical guitarist Reggie Williams Jr. never expected his side project R.LUM.R to blow up. Then the internet found him and his music took off with the release of his 2016 single "Frustrated" — racking up over 39 million streams on Spotify to date. He has also won fans with singles like "Be Honest," "Tell Me," and "Love Less." NPR Music labelled R.LUM.R a "fast-rising artist whose falsetto is no joke" and he has played at major festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
The heart behind R.LUM.R’s work is a desire to give back to music what he believes it gave to him — which was a place of belonging, refuge, and release ever since his complicated youth.
In this conversation, Branden and R.LUM.R fearlessly unpack the scars behind his successes and tell the truth about why empathy is the most powerful tool inside storytelling.
Mike Donehey is and singer, songwriter and guitarist primarily known for his work as lead singer in the Christian rock band Tenth Avenue North. What many people don’t know, is that Mike’s journey as a musician began after a near-fatal car accident where he was told he would never walk again. He then picked up a guitar during his days in the hospital and began to write music.
Now, the band has long been known for the depth and vulnerability of their songwriting since they released their acclaimed national debut, Over and Underneath, in 2008. Quickly winning fans’ allegiance with radio staples, the band was named the Gospel Music Association's New Artist of the Year in 2009. The group gained further momentum with 5 full-length records that spawned hits that have led to selling in excess of one million albums to date.
More importantly, Mike is willing to dive into controversy. Over the last several years, he’s used his platform to advocate for Black Lives Matter, fairer treatment of immigrants and refugees, and other social issues.
In this conversation, Branden and Mike dive deep into matters of faith, balancing your personal life while gaining fame, speaking truth to power in politics, as well as the importance of refusing to give up your humanity for the sake of a brand.
Benjamin Von Wong is a world-renowned photographer who decided to use his talents to make a difference. He never set out to be a photographer, and he became one almost by accident. Nevertheless, in the space of the past 5 years since he quit his day job as a mining engineer, he’s earned a worldwide reputation as a brilliantly original photographic artist, and was even named one of four winners of this year’s Imaging Alliance award for Visionary Photographers.
Benjamin now creates fantastical visual worlds through photography, virally promoting worthy causes, then posts them on his website so people can experience the creative process in a visceral way. Something he’s known for is creating work that looks hyper-realistic and photoshopped, but it’s based on capturing images of what is actually in front of his camera.
In this conversation, Branden and Benjamin dive deep into the importance of using your curiosity to make a positive impact in this world — and figuring out how to do that in a creative way that makes people care.
Is the process of creating art more about becoming a mirror for the creator or the observer? Fine art photographer, Brooke Shaden, has explored this question for the better portion of her life and found the nuanced answer inside her own powerful story.
As a self-portrait artist who emphasizes surrealism and imagination, Brooke has spent years becoming the characters of dreams inspired by a childhood of intense curiosity and fear. After studying films for years in college, she realized her love of storytelling was universal — and started writing as well as pouring into international travel.
Brooke’s additional love of motivational speaking, writing, and education led her to bring the Promoting Passion Convention to life — a series of hands-on workshops, lectures, and creative panel discussions dedicated to helping artists make a difference with their passion. She’s also responsible for starting The Light Space — a photography school for survivors of human trafficking in India and Thailand.
In this conversation, Branden and Brooke hash out the belief that the greatest gift an artist has is to promote passion and share your unique self.
Nigerian American professional soccer player, Amobi Okugo, has had an incredible journey in the world of soccer ever since he was young. He was then drafted after his freshman year at UCLA into Major League Soccer as part of the 2010 Generation Adidas Class. He has amassed over 150 appearances in all competitions professionally and has been honored to represent the United States national team program at various youth levels including the 2012 Olympic squad.
While playing midfielder with the Portland Timbers, he began the process of launching A Frugal Athlete — an organization helping increase financial literacy and encourage prudent financial practices among professional athletes. After watching so many athletes go broke, Amobi decided that he needed to be a part of the solution of creating ways for athletes to use their resources wisely and plan effectively for the future.
In this conversation, Branden and Amobi unpack how his journey has unfolded as a professional athlete who is passionate about educating and guiding the next generation of athletes in living a life well-spent.
Called "The Brené Brown of Wonder” by Mind Body Green and a “Millennial Motivator” by Fortune, Amber Rae is an author, artist, and speaker whose work invites you to live your truth, befriend your emotions, and express your gifts.
Her writing blends raw, personal storytelling with psychology and neuroscience, and has reached over 5 million people in 195 countries. Her public art has spread to over twenty countries, and she's spoken to and collaborated with brands like Kate Spade, Apple, Amazon, and Unilever.
In their second Sounds Good conversation together, Branden and Amber dive deep into the process of writing her newest book, Choose Wonder Over Worry, and why her life’s work has become about inviting others to face their fears, wake up to their truth, and get to the source of what's holding them back.
In 2005, Shawn Askinosie left a successful career as a criminal defense lawyer to start a bean-to-bar chocolate factory, Askinosie Chocolate, and never looked back.
The only chocolate maker working directly with cocoa farmers on four continents, Shawn travels to regions of Ecuador, the Philippines and Tanzania to source cocoa beans for his chocolate. Recently named by Forbes "One of the 25 Best Small Companies in America", Askinosie Chocolate has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, on Bloomberg, MSNBC and numerous other national and international media outlets.
As someone who encourages and inspires entrepreneurs to take the leap from intentional contemplation to purposeful action, Shawn Askinosie was named “One of the 15 Guys Who Are Saving the World” by Oprah Magazine. In his newest book, Meaningful Work: A Quest to Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul, Shawn shares how businesses can and should solve problems in the world, and how positive change begins with individual action.
In this conversation, Branden and Shawn explore the journey of weaving social responsibility into everything we do — the overarching idea that doing more is not enough, but work worth doing is.
Jacqueline Whitney had a plan for her life. As a teenager, she was great at school, great at volleyball, and knew those would take her down her dream path. Everything changed when a series of injuries affected her ability to exercise for more than a few minutes and to be able to focus on her school work without needing to nap.
Jacqueline had to learn how to deal with this sudden pivot. She turned to writing, and then eventually to Instagram, to communicate her story, her loss, her pain, and her questions. And one by one, a community of thousands of people experiencing similar struggles began to show up.
Today, though she’s still in the midst of her recovery process, Jacqueline uses her time and energy to encourage her audience by sharing her writing.
In this conversation, Branden and Jacqueline discuss the process of learning to feel things deeply, becoming empathetic, and the nuances of sharing your story with the world.
After the tragic and unexpected loss of her husband, Kristine Carlson resolved to find hope in the midst of heartache and her life has never been the same since. Today, Kristine is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and leader in the field of transformation. After collaborating with her late husband Dr. Richard Carlson to create a publishing industry phenomenon with the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff series — selling more than 25 million copies worldwide — Kristine is emerging as a profound teacher in the areas that matter most to the human heart: how to heal and how to love.
Her forthcoming book, From Heartbreak to Wholeness: The Hero’s Journey to Joy, offers a process for healing that goes beyond common prescriptions for getting through the pain of loss. Kristine’s message of self-rediscovery and transition has been featured on national television broadcasts, including The Today Show, Good Morning America, The View, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.
In this conversation, Branden and Kristine move through her journey of grief, transition, heartbreak, and healing — and why it’s important to choose to be the hero in the midst of life’s shattering circumstances.
In November of 2015, Rob Lawless began a journey to spend 1 hour with 10,000 strangers to learn about their lives with no agenda. Leaving behind his careers in finance and tech sales, Rob took a huge risk and made the bet that creating human connection is currently a more important foundation for his future than building his savings account.
Since the birth of this project, ‘Rob’s 10K Friends’, he has attracted a massive following and national attention — meeting everyone from street artists, to people experiencing homelessness, to CEOs, to former Mayors, to DJs, to students, and millionaires. After each meeting, he posts a photo on his Instagram and Facebook page along with a short story on what he's learned about each person. Rob is currently seventeen percent of the way to 10,000, which is no arbitrary figure.
In this conversation, Branden and Rob talk about this journey to meet 10,000 people that has revealed the human epidemic of loneliness and our deep need for connection.
Founder of Design Sponge, Grace Bonney, believes that curiosity allows you to find deeper meaning inside whatever community you’ve found yourself in. This belief has altered her life in profound and impactful ways ever since she started building her own business.
Grace Bonney’s blog, Design Sponge, attracts over 1 million readers per day while focusing on the creative community, with the goal of making the art and design world personal. Previously, Grace was a contributing editor at Domino and House & Garden and freelanced with top publications like New York Home, Food & Wine, In Style, New York Magazine, and more.
Grace has been a featured guest on Good Morning America, The Martha Stewart Show, and American Public Radio and has been a keynote speaker with a wide variety of organizations. She has published two best-selling books, Design Sponge at Home and In the Company of Women — and just released her newest project: a magazine called Good Company.
In this conversation, Branden and Grace dive deep into her process of building her business and why there is power in curiosity, inclusivity, and embracing our differences. Ultimately, they’ll highlight why curiosity without judging ourselves for not knowing the answers makes our communities better.
Miles Adcox has devoted his life to living into these three concepts: Empathy over action, love over agenda, and grace over advice. Publicly and privately, he is known as one of the most plugged-in people on human condition that there is today.
Today, Miles Adcox is a speaker, writer, and CEO/Owner of Onsite — an extended care center for emotional trauma & co-dependency that has been featured on 20/20, Good Morning America, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Miles is a communication, personal growth, and mental health consultant to the music and entertainment industry. He is a featured guest expert on The Dr. Phil Show, and has also been featured on The Doctors, A&E’s Intervention and has been interviewed on codependency, emotional wellness, and family dynamics on several national radio shows.
In this conversation, Branden and Miles deconstruct the journey toward living with self-awareness and empathy. And ultimately, how to find authentic, non-performance based, messy community that embraces all of you.
Anjali Pinto is a professional photographer, artist, and writer who met her husband, Jacob, when she was young. They fell in love and shared their beautiful story consistently on Instagram.
Jacob died suddenly at age 30 — out of the blue and with no warning. In her grief, Anjali didn’t turn inward. She turned to Instagram. Over the course of the past year and a half, those Instagram posts—one a day, every day—have become a kind of documentary project: a tribute to Jacob and an unfolding of Pinto’s grief. Anjali garnered the attention of more than 50,000 followers and eventually hosted an art show dedicated to memorializing the life of Jacob that made a profound impact on its viewers.
Currently, she lives in Chicago and shares a photo studio with creative and supportive women — having the privilege of photographing projects that fall somewhere in the categories of personal, editorial or commercial.
In this conversation, Branden and Anjali move deep inside her story of loss and grief — and ultimately, how publicly grieving has revealed the nuanced, complicated beauty of humanity.
The most recognized male figure-skating star in the world, Scott Hamilton has won 70 titles, awards and honors including an Olympic gold medal, an Emmy Award nomination, and induction into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame.
In 1984, Scott captured the attention of the world with his Olympic Gold medal performances in Sarajevo and has since shared his love and enthusiasm for the sport as a analyst/commentator, performer, producer and best-selling author. Scott then co-founded, co-produced and performed in Stars on Ice for 15 years before retiring from the tour in 2001. He further inspires others as a speaker, humanitarian, and as a cancer and pituitary brain tumor survivor.
After losing his mother to cancer, then becoming a survivor himself, Scott became an activist in retirement — and has been involved in charitable work and has authored three books. His most recent book, Finish First, is a wake-up call for business leaders, entrepreneurs, spouses, parents, and even students to stop settling for mediocre, revitalize their intrinsic will to achieve excellence, and go for the win.
In this conversation, Branden and Scott dive deep into the truth that adversity and perseverance can shape you for good — discovering that both can give you a value and a self-esteem that is priceless.
Tiffany Mitchell’s life circumstances have opened her up to this important truth: The act of creating is like pulling something from your core – bypassing everything that is covering up your true self. Her painful and beautiful story has taught her that when you admit what you’re curious about creating with other people, you’re allowing something good to come alive inside of you.
Tiffany is a photographer, writer, visual storyteller and advocate for the power of vulnerability. She started her now well-known Instagram account at a season of her life where she struggled with depression and anxiety — living with chronic pain that confined her to her house for 2 weeks out of every month between the ages of 19-27. She reached her rock bottom when a divorce, miscarriage, and death of a loved one left her feeling like she’d lost herself entirely. During this time, she had put down a lot of the things that used to give her joy. It wasn’t until she started slowly creating again that she found her voice as well as her own inner-healing.
Today, she’s fostered a massive social media following while using her platform to share the deepest parts of herself with intention — motivating people to uncover their own creative hearts. This passion of hers has taken her all over the globe — and it’s given a lot of people the hope to begin again.
In this conversation, Branden and Tiffany discuss the fears that are attached to our inevitable pain — and how her life changed when she began to see creating things as an act of radical healing.
Justin Zoradi’s important work began the day he decided to no longer deny opportunities to others that he demanded for himself. This realization was sparked while working in South Africa in 2006, where he met several bright students who wanted to go to college but couldn't afford it.
Today, Justin Zoradi is an award winning social entrepreneur, the author of the book Made for These Times, and the founder of These Numbers Have Faces, an international education nonprofit helping African youth attend college and transform their countries forever. Truth be told, this social enterprise started during the recession in 2008, with zero business skills from the couch of Justin’s apartment. The rest is history.
Justin holds an MA in International Conflict Resolution from Portland State University and a BA in Communication Studies from Westmont College. His past work includes Doing Work That Matters, as well as his upcoming book, Made for These Times: A Start-Up Guide to Calling, Character, and Work That Matters available for pre-order.
In this conversation, Branden and Justin dive deep into a story of empowerment, responsibility and clarity as a compassionate leader trying to make a difference in the world.
Show notes: soundsgoodpodcast.com/justin
New apparel: knownsupply.com/goodnews