Burn the Boats

When Failure is Not an Option

Host, Ken Harbaugh, interviews political leaders, influencers, and other history makers about the choices we confront when failure is not an option. Choices like Alexander the Great made when he landed his troops on the shores of Persia and ordered his men to burn their boats.

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Diversity can be captured in a snapshot, in a photograph. But inclusion is all about finding that authenticity and bringing it fully to the table, and that is not an easy thing to achieve when you've built hundreds of years of culture around normalizing and equalizing people's character traits.” - Mary Beth Bruggeman

Mary Beth Bruggeman, the president of The Mission Continues, talks about her experiences as a woman in the Marine Corps, about the responsibility of teaching military leadership in wartime, and about the work TMC does to harness the energy and skills of veterans to work on social issues in their communities.

Find The Mission Continues on Twitter at @missioncontinue and Mary Beth herself at @mb_bruggeman. Watch Mary Beth’s TED Talk on YouTube. You can learn more about The Mission Continues on their website, https://missioncontinues.org/.

Join in the discussion! Participate in Episode 7 of Burn the Boats with Bill Kristol by leaving a voicemail at 216-245-5461 or sending a voice memo to burntheboats@evergreenpodcasts.com. Tell us your first name (or anonymous, if you prefer) and tell us what you think is the biggest obstacle our country faces to having balanced and responsible political parties.

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Bonus: Adam Frankel on Writing for Obama

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:5.5
In this bonus episode, Ken continues his conversation with Adam Frankel, talking about what it was like to write speeches for President Obama.
Listen to Bonus: Adam Frankel on Writing for Obama

Adam Frankel: Healing Family Trauma through Honesty

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:5
Adam Frankel, former speechwriter for President Obama and author of a new memoir, The Survivors, talks about generational trauma - from his grandparents’ experiences in the Holocaust to his mother’s struggles with mental illness and a revelation about Adam’s own identity - and the importance of honesty in his family’s healing process.
Listen to Adam Frankel: Healing Family Trauma through Honesty

Bonus: The Rights of American Samoans

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:4.5
In this bonus episode of Burn the Boats, Staff Sergeant Jeniffer Afualo-Robinson talks about losing her security clearance and, with it, a pathway to career advancement, just because she was born in American Samoa.
Listen to Bonus: The Rights of American Samoans

Joe Sestak: Individual Rights and the Common Good

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:4
Joe Sestak, retired 3-star Admiral in the US Navy and former candidate for Democratic presidential nominee, talks about the similarities between the Navy and the campaign trail, about his daughter’s illness inspiring him to run for office, and about a pilot under his command who chose to defy his orders.
Listen to Joe Sestak: Individual Rights and the Common Good

More about the name of the show...

In 334 BC, Alexander the Great led Greek troops across the Dardanelles Straits and into Asia Minor, landing on the shores of Persia. He hoped to finally vanquish his greatest enemy, Darius III - the King of Persia. But Alexander was badly outnumbered. The Persian army assembled to attack and Alexander’s troops began to speak openly of retreat. So he gave an order: "Burn the Boats." He told his men, “we either return home in Persian ships, or we die here.” There would be no turning back.

By burning his boats, Alexander hoped to galvanize and motivate his troops. They needed to fully commit to defeating Darius and the Persians. There was no other way - failure was not an option.

This podcast explores decisions our guests made when they fully committed to something because failure was not an option.

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The Team

Ken Harbaugh

The Host
A former US Navy Pilot and past president of Team Rubicon Global -- has served as a commentator for NPR, a host on Crooked Media, and a contributor to The NY Times & the Atlantic

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