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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Evergreen Podcasts Earns First-Ever Ambie Nomination for 'Burn The Boats'

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Latest Episode

Master Sergeant Michael ‘Top’ Washington: Coping with Loss

Master Sergeant Michael ‘Top’ Washington served in the Gulf War, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan between 1988 and 2004, before becoming a firefighter. His son, Mike Jr., followed in his footsteps and joined the Marines. In 2008, Mike Jr. was killed during combat operations in Afghanistan.

The loss of his son sent Top into a deep depression, culminating in a moment on a bridge in Tacoma. Top had decided to end his life there, but says he felt his son’s hand pulling him back, saying, “You’re not done yet.” Since then, Top has found a new calling, as a licensed therapist focusing on fellow military veterans and first responders.

To hear more from Top, check out his interview on Warriors In Their Own Words, out next Thursday.

Recent Episodes

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Jason Kander: Destigmatizing PTSD While Continuing to Serve

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:43
Jason Kander, an Army Veteran and former candidate for Senate in Missouri, talks about his struggle with PTSD, and about his continuing public service.
Listen to Jason Kander: Destigmatizing PTSD While Continuing to Serve

Judge Lina Hidalgo: Local Leadership, Voting Rights, and Values

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:42
Judge Lina Hidalgo, county executive for Harris County, Texas, talks about changing the system from within and about budgeting through a values lens.
Listen to Judge Lina Hidalgo: Local Leadership, Voting Rights, and Values

Elliot Ackerman: Writing About War and America’s Future

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:41
Elliot Ackerman, Marine combat veteran and bestselling author, talks about writing and about his fears for the future.
Listen to Elliot Ackerman: Writing About War and America’s Future

Christian Picciolini: Disengaging White Power Extremists

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:40
Christian Picciolini, a former leader in the American white power movement, talks about his past and his current work in extremism prevention.
Listen to Christian Picciolini: Disengaging White Power Extremists

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.

Declan Rohrs

Producer
Declan (He/Him) was born and raised in Lakewood, Ohio. At Evergreen, he has assumed various roles, including Producer, Editor, and Email-Signature Guru.

Sean Rule-Hoffman

Engineer
Sean hails from Orange Village, OH. He earned a degree in Music Technology with a minor in Electronic Media and Film from Capital University in Columbus, OH.

Isabel Robertson

Senior Producer
Producer, writer, & researcher based in CLE. She's worked on StoryCorps, Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me, and The Intercept. She serves on the ACLU-OH Board of Directors.