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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Latest Episode

Paul Rieckhoff: The Power of Righteous Anger

In my view, if you're not angry, you're not paying attention. Whether it's school shootings or our failed infrastructure or our president or the tax on our election, I think there is righteous reason to be angry.

Paul Rieckhoff, host of the Angry Americans podcast, talks about being an independent in today’s political climate, about the role of veterans in our country, and about anger as a political force.

Paul is a veteran, activist, and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Last year, he founded Righteous Media and launched the Angry Americans podcast. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and find the show on social media at @AngryAmericans. Follow Paul on Twitter at @PaulRieckhoff.

Join in the discussion! Participate in Episode 9 of Burn the Boats with Shannon Watts and Casey Weinstein by leaving a voicemail at 216-245-5461 or sending a voice memo to burntheboats@evergreenpodcasts.com. Shannon and Casey tell us about the death threats they’ve received for standing up for what they believe. So we want you to tell us what other lines you think should never be crossed, regardless of how strongly you disagree with someone.

Recent Episodes

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Bill Kristol: The Crisis within the Republican Party

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:7
Bill Kristol, founder of The Weekly Standard and chief of staff to the Vice President under George H. W. Bush, talks about the current state of the Republican party, how it got there, and his bipartisan push for political decency.
Listen to Bill Kristol: The Crisis within the Republican Party

Mary Beth Bruggeman: Inclusion, Leadership, and Service

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:6
ary 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.
Listen to Mary Beth Bruggeman: Inclusion, Leadership, and Service

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

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 & past president of Team Rubicon Global; served as a commentator for NPR; a host on Crooked Media; & a contributor to The NY Times & The Atlantic.

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