Super excited to share my conversation with Christine Doherty Kondra and her husband, Nick Kondra: the two co-founders of Cornerstone Restaurant located right in the heart of Wayne, Pennsylvania. If you live in the Philadelphia area, I encourage you to check out the fine dining experience that Christine and Nick have built — I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Throughout our conversation, Christine takes us on her life journey, as Nick chimes in to add color to stories. She tells us all about life before Cornerstone. Although she ideally wanted to pursue her passion for food immediately after college by attending the French Cullinary Institute,  she couldn’t give up an incredible job offer in the pharmaceutical industry. So for the next 10 years,  Christine climbed the ladder in the corporate world, working in New York, Boston, and London. And then at the age of 30 in 2009, she decided to quit her job and finally follow her passion — she reinvented herself and became a renowned chef on Nantucket and opened her very own business called the ACK experience.

Christine’s years in Nantucket were formative. Not only did she meet her husband Nick, but she also developed incredibly strong relationships with chefs and farmers – and those relationships are now valuable assets to continued success at Cornerstone today. In 2013, Christine and Nick decided to move back to Philadelphia. Although they had plans in the future to eventually open a restaurant, they didn’t think it would happen as quickly as it did. Then in 2014, a friend called them and told them that a prime space was available right in the heart of the mainline of Philadelphia. Christine and Nick jumped on the opportunity, took a risk, and opened Cornerstone Restaurant in 2015 where they curate distinctive menus, highlighting fresh, local, and globally sourced ingredients.

I promise you will not be disappointed with your meal. I went there with my family on a Friday night just about a month ago and it was the perfect atmosphere and meal after a long day of work! Over the past three years, Cornerstone has had tremendous success — so much that they just expanded this past March, opening a brand new bar and seating area. They are open 10 AM to midnight Tuesday through Saturday and 9 AM to 4 PM on Sundays. Hope you guys enjoy my conversation with Christine and Nick as much as I did!

New podcast is up with my friend Father Rob Hagan! Father Rob is most well known for being an incredible asset to the Villanova University Community, where he is both the basketball and football Chaplain and Senior Athletic Director.

Coach Jay Wright gave him the honor of being the last person to cut down the net after the 2018 Championship game. Coach Wright remarked the following about Father Rob: “I think every player and every member of our staff will tell you Father Rob is one of the greatest men any of us have in our lives. He has been an integral part of the program and my life, I count on him as a dear friend. Our whole team and staff attend a prayer service before every game. It starts with Father Rob doing a reading from the Bible and then a homily. He’s never talking about the game, he’s talking about life — and what kind of men we are and what kind of Christians we are. I always joke with Father, don’t make us cry before the game!!”

When I met Father Rob last month, I had just lost my dad and he also lost his dad suddenly at the age of 18, so we instantly made a connection and he was able to provide me with profound wisdom I will never forget.

So quick background on Father — he is from Philadelphia, went to Cardinal O’Hara for high school, graduated from Villanova in 1987 and then immediately went to law school. He was a successful attorney for seven years, living a very normal life for a young man in his 20s and early 30s. Then when he was 32, he decided he wanted to become an Augustinian. After six years of additional education, he was ordained a priest in 2003 and has never looked back.

Throughout our conversation, he not only takes on his life journey but also provides us with valuable universal life lessons on humbleness, small acts of kindness, patience, overcoming failure, how to handle losing a loved one, and so much more. Please enjoy!

 

Books:

Green Bananas: The Wisdom of Father Bill Atkinson

Hi everyone! Super excited to share my conversation with my friend Alexa Buckley. Alexa is 27, grew up right outside Philadelphia, went to Episcopal Academy for high school, and then went on to Harvard University. During her senior year at Harvard, she and her friend Sarah Pierson came up the dream of starting their own shoe company called Margaux. Although they were passionate about the idea, they had already committed to jobs in venture capitalism and consulting. However, they suddenly became inspired when they heard Sheryl Sandberg give the commencement speech to their graduating class at Harvard in 2014. Sheryl asked, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” That moment sparked the fire in Alexa and Sarah to forego their planned corporate jobs, take a risk, and dive head first into starting Margaux.

In the spring of 2015, just a year after their graduation, they successfully launched Margaux, which has evolved over the past three years into standard and made-to-measure comfortable and chic ballet flats, loafers, slippers, sandals, and boots. They have had several pop-up stores all over the country in places like San Fran, Boston, Palm Beach, and Nantucket and just last month opened their very first flagship store on Bleeker Street in the West Village in NYC. Throughout our conversation, Alexa takes us on her entrepreneurial journey over the past three and half a years. We talk about the setbacks, the rejections, the importance of resilience, the ah-ha moments, working with a best friend, and so much more. I especially loved how Alexa told her story in such a humble manner. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did!

Also, with Thanksgiving coming up, I wanted to let you all know that my good friend Brittany Fenkel and her family just published an awesome children’s picture book based on their true story of how they cook for a homeless shelter every Thanksgiving and all the great feelings that go along with it. There aren’t many Thanksgiving books out there for kids and this one is very sweet (it also makes a great gift!). A portion of the proceeds of the sale of this book goes to Project Home. The book can be purchased through their website www.gobblesgivesaturkey.com. Link in the show notes!

 

Books: Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

Website: https://margauxny.com/

Hi everyone! Super excited to share my conversation with Villanova Head Basketball Coach Jay Wright, who is most well-known for winning the 2016 and 2018 National Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament. This podcast is also a special tribute to my dad, Tony Hayden, who passed away peacefully on October 9th at the age of 74 and was a lifelong Philadelphia basketball sports fan. I interviewed Coach Wright on Wednesday, September 26th and that night I gave my dad a sneak preview to the interview. My dad was one of the toughest critics of all time and I am happy to report that he loved every second of my conversation with Coach Wright! I hope you guys do too!

Quick background on Coach Wright: he and his wonderful wife named Patty have three children. Coach was born and raised right outside of Philadelphia in Bucks County where he went to Council Rock High School and then Bucknell University. He had a marketing job right out of college in Philadelphia before he took his first coaching job in 1984 at the University of Rochester. He went on to be the Assistant Coach at Drexel University, then Villanova University, and then the University of Nevada. He moved on to Head Coach at Hofstra University in 1994 and finally, Villanova in 2001.

Although Coach Wright has had an incredible amount of success, it’s important to remember that he started from the very bottom. Just like anyone else, he experienced a tremendous amount of failure and setbacks throughout his career and has had to use grit, perseverance, and a positive attitude to get to where he is today. What I absolutely loved the most about my conversation with Coach Wright is that even with all of his success, he is still the most humble and kindest person ever.

Hi everyone! So excited to share my conversation with my friends Pat Croce and Kelly Croce Sorg, my very first father-daughter duo and two of the most humble, kind, and welcoming human beings.

For a quick background, Pat is 64 and—in my opinion—has one of the most remarkable Philadelphia success stories. Pat’s story is inspirational because it is a classic rags-to-riches tale. He started out as a physical therapist and then at the age of 30, he took out a $40,000 loan and launched his own company called Sports Physical Therapists. There, he treated professional athletes and also people from all walks of life. He started a phenomenon, as his business grew into a chain of 40 centers spanning 11 states. In 1993, he sold it for approximately $40M. In 1996, he became President of the Philadelphia 76ers. Note that he used persistence and grit to convince the preceding owner to sell the team to him. Pat said he called him 50 times and even showed up at his house a couple of times. Under Pat’s ownership, the Sixers went from last place in 1996 to the NBA finals in 2001. Pat’s stories from his time as president of the 76ers are incredible. He tells us about how he worked tremendously hard to create a fan-friendly environment and of course we touch on his relationship with the famous Allen Iverson.

Kelly also has her father’s entrepreneurial spirit. She was a huge asset to the team that built Pat’s $10M St. Augusta Pirate and Treasure Museum in 2005, which is now located in St. Augustine, Florida. Today she works at a company called Chairloom, that creatively helps customers with furniture purchases, reupholstery projects, and custom furniture. They are based out of Ardmore, PA but have clients all over the country.

In the 2nd part of our conversation, we take a deep dive into meditation which has become a huge part of both Pat and Kelly’s life. They emphasize how important it is to stay in the present moment—in the NOW. What I really loved the most about my conversation with Pat and Kelly was that they incorporated so many valuable life lessons in their stories. We talked about the importance of curiosity, listening, remaining positive through rejection, stepping outside comfort zones, and so much more.  I hope you enjoy my conversation with Pat and Kelly as much as I did!

 

Books:

“I Feel Great and You Will Too” by Pat Croce

“Lead or Get off Pot: 7 Secrets of a Self Made Leader” by Pat Croce

“110%: 110 Strategies for Feeling Great Every Day” by Pat Croce

“A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life” by Brian Grazer

“The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself” by Michael A. Singer

“The Art of Happiness” by Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler

Websites:

http://www.chairloom.com/

http://thepiratemuseum.com/

Hi everyone! Super excited to share my conversation with Laura Lea: a 32-year-old certified holistic chef and food expert based out of Nashville, Tennessee. Laura went to UVA for college and then moved to NYC where she lived for 4 years. In NYC, she had good-paying jobs in the law and financial industry, but they left her feeling unfulfilled. Not only was Laura unhappy with her job but she also was struggling with her personal life as well.

She was not leading a healthy lifestyle, which caused her struggles with anxiety and depression. Laura became quickly tired of this lifestyle and began to focus on ways to improve her health. One major change she made was learning to eat healthily.

Laura became so passionate about food and nutrition that in 2013, she took a leap of faith, quit her corporate job, and applied to the National Gourmet Institute of NYC—a yearlong cooking school where she became a certified chef. After graduating from the school in 2013, Laura moved back to Nashville and launched LL Balanced, a website where she is able to share all of her amazing recipes. It wasn’t all easy though—she started from the bottom and had to slowly build a following.

She said yes to any opportunity that came her way, such as teaching a free cooking class, lecturing classes at school, being a food consultant for restaurants, and creating meal plans for clients. Slowly but surely she began to obtain tremendous credibility. Today, 5 years later, she has built an incredible following and business. She launched her very first cookbook called LL Balanced in 2017 which includes over 120 delicious and nutritious recipes! And she has a second cookbook on the way!

Can’t wait for you all to listen to Laura Lea’s inspirational journey—her positive energy is contagious!

Mike Mayock has one of the coolest Philadelphia stories, so I can’t wait to share my conversation with him! He was born and raised in Philadelphia as the oldest of seven kids and today, he has two awesome children: Leigh and Michael.  Mike went to the Haverford School followed by Boston College where he was the captain of the football and baseball team and was inducted into the BC Hall of Fame in 2001. After college, he had a short stint in NFL for two years playing for the Steelers and the Giants. Then from 1984 to 2003, he pursued a job in the commercial real estate industry in the greater Philadelphia area.

Although he was making a comfortable financial living in commercial real estate, Mike knew he had to find a way to pursue his true passion: football. So as a side hustle, he would announce high school games. He started at the very bottom and did any sort of game to get his foot in the door. As time went on, the industry started recognizing Mike and as a result, he started doing more football games at higher levels. Everyone thought it was cool he was doing these games, but no one really thought it would amount to anything significant. In fact, he stayed at his day job in commercial real estate for 18 years before he got his big break in the NFL Network in 2003.

The job offer from the NFL Network came with big risks, like having to take a pay cut while raising a family. Mike took the risk, accepted the job, and never looked back. He told me it was the best decision in his entire life. Today, he is one of the most highly-respected people at the NFL Network. And the next time you see him on national television, I hope he will be a reminder of someone that used grit, patience, and perseverance to turn their passion into a real-time job. I can’t wait to watch him continue to kill it!

Books:

War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team by Michael Holley

I’m very excited to share my conversation with my friend Rosemary Connors: an award-winning anchor and reporter for NBC10 News in Philadelphia. You can watch her live weekday reports and see her anchoring the weekend mornings!

Rosemary is 35 years old, married, and from right outside of Philadelphia. We both attended the Academy of Notre Dame in Villanova, where she just gave the commencement speech to the graduating seniors on June 1st! She is my fourth guest to attend the Academy of Notre Dame, following Martie Gillin (Founder of SpeakUp), Maureen Doran (founder of Skirt Boutique), and September Rinnier (Co-founder Tuckernuck). She then went on to the University of Pennsylvania—where I also went—so this was a really fun conversation for me, given that Rosemary and I have a similar background.

Throughout our conversation, Rosemary tells us all about her journey in the news industry. Her climb to an established position in Philadelphia did not happen overnight, but she has stayed the course over the past 13 years. She started from the bottom right out of college and dove headfirst into the industry. She began her career in Grand Junction, Colorado and then Fort Myers, Florida before making her way back to Philadelphia. We talk about the setbacks, the risks she took, her schedule and so much more. I hope you enjoy the conversation with Rosemary as much as I did!

 

Books:

“Gideon’s Trumpet” by Anthony Lewis

So excited to share my conversation with my friend Vaughan Cutillo, one of three co-founders of Montauk Brewing Company! If you’re not familiar, Montauk is a beautiful and super fun summer vacation town.

Vaughan was born and raised in Montauk, but he has a Philly connection via his alma mater: Villanova University. As listeners know, I love featuring Philly success stories since I grew up there! One of the main reasons I am excited to share Vaughan’s story is because Montauk Brewing Company has truly humble and authentic roots. They started from the bottom, brewing beers as a hobby in Vaughan’s parent’s basement. At age 25, Vaughan and the two other co-founders (Eric Moss and Joe Sullivan) decided to give their 2-week notice to their existing jobs, pull their funds together, and turn their passion of brewing beers into a real business.

The first step was to open an actual brewing taste room, but it didn’t happen overnight. Since the guys were the very first brewing house in Montauk, it took nearly three years to get full permitting from the township.  Although they hit some road bumps in the beginning, Vaughan, Eric, and Joe persevered and stayed on course. June 30, 2018 marks the company’s six-year anniversary! Today, not only do they have an awesome, super popular brewery in the heart of Montauk, but they also distribute their beer throughout Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island and West Chester. They have an incredible following and just over this past Memorial Day weekend, they sold 300,000 cans of Montauk Brewing Company beer.

Can’t wait to watch their company continue to grow—and of course, can’t wait to visit Montauk again this summer!

 

Books:

Good To Great by Jim Collins

Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere by Steven Leckart and Zach Klein

Website: https://montaukbrewingco.com/pages/home

Instagram: @montaukbrewco

Hi everyone! Given that I am from Philadelphia, I absolutely love when I have the opportunity to feature Philadelphia entrepreneurs. So today I am excited to share my conversation with my friends Neely and Chloe Burch who were both born and raised right outside Philadelphia.

Neely (27) and Chloe (26) are sisters and they come from a long line of family members in the fashion industry including their dad and uncle (who started Eagle’s Eye), their cousins Louisa and Pookie Burch (who started Trademark), and of course their aunt—the one and only Tory Burch. In the fall of 2016, Neely and Chloe decided to pave their own path in the fashion industry and launched “Neely and Chloe” in NYC which features a wide variety of affordable go-to accessories, such as handbags, wallets, footwear and so much more! I purchased my weekender bag a few weeks ago and I use it every single day!

Throughout our conversation, Neely and Chloe tell us all about their entrepreneurial journey as sisters. We talk about “a-ha!” moments (i.e., when their product was featured on Oprah’s Top 100 List), navigating the fundraising world, how they deal with setbacks, and so much more. Stand by: this sister duo is on to something so incredible. I can’t wait to watch them continue to grow and explode in the fashion industry!

Website: https://neelyandchloe.com/about/