Category: podcasts

LOU MONGELLO : Walt Disney World expert, podcaster, author, speaker & entrepreneur

Lou is the host of the wildly successful WDW Radio podcast. If you have any interest in the Disney brand or the parks you’ve probably heard of him. He’s also an author, public speaker, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He’s an inspiring guy. He left behind the life he cultivated after college to dive head first into his passion. That’s something I really admire. This interview is shorter than some others, but only because Lou is a busy guy. He answered my questions on a layover coming home from a speaking gig in the Philippines.

01. What’s your typical morning routine? How do you get your day started?

I’m up around 6:00AM, I get the family off to school and work and then I’m at my desk by 7:00. Triage the inbox, create and post a morning quote and image, and then hit whatever project is next on the list!

02. I’m very interested in your pre-Disney career. From what I understand, you were a lawyer living with your family far from Orlando. What did you originally want to do with your life? It seems like you had things pretty figured out, why weren’t you content?

I was planning to be an attorney forever, but I never woke up excited for work then the way I do now. Getting up to argue every day just wasn’t in my DNA. I’m blessed and fortunate to have found my true passion and calling.

03. Quitting a job and uprooting your family for a bigger dream is something most wish they could do, and you did it successfully. What was the tipping point and how did you convince yourself (and your family) that the time was right to make a change?

I knew pretty early on that this is what I wanted to do, and that I could turn it into a business. I didn’t know how, but I knew I had to try. I never wanted to look back with regret and wonder “What if…?” Fortunately, my family was (and IS) very supportive. I wouldn’t be here without them.

04. Here’s a quick question: Why Disney?

Simple: It’s what I’ve loved since I was a kid. I had gone yearly since I was 3 and was fascinated by the place and the memories my family and I shared. When I wrote my first book in 2004, I never hoped or expected it would turn into anything more.

05. Your podcast is currently hovering around #3 on the ranking of most popular podcasts on iTunes, right below Serial and This American Life. So, first of all Congratulations! That’s a huge accomplishment. Did you ever think WDW Radio would become so popular? Why did you decide to do the podcast in the first place?

Thank you! But let me be clear: That ranking, any recognition, awards, etc. is not about me – it’s about the community and family of people that listen to the show, and allow me to share my passion for Disney with them. I started it because I know the spoken word is much more powerful than anything I could write. You just can’t convey emotion or express yourself the same way. The medium is incredibly powerful and intimate. Plus, I’m a horrible typist.

06. You do a lot of public speaking around the country at all kinds of conferences and schools. What is the focus of most of these talks? Do you tie them all in with Disney?

They range from business, social and new media, Disney, entrepreneurship, to other motivational-type talks. The Disney Difference: Achieving The Ultimate Customer Experience, Leadership Lessons Learned from Walt Disney, “Quit Your Job and Do What You Love Full Time! I Did It, and So Can You!”, The Power of Community – Using Offline Interactions to Increase Online Engagement, How to Create, Grow, Launch and Monetize Your Podcast, and How and Why to Use Live Streaming to Build Your Brand and Business. For students (middle, high school, etc.) some topics include: IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN DO IT! Follow Your Dreams and Do What You Love!, Storytelling, entrepreneurship, etc.

07. Can you tell me a little about the Dream Team Project? You’ve raised an impressive amount of money for charity and I’d love for you to plug it a bit.

It’s probably easier to just read my story about the Dream Team at our website. It explains how it came to be and why I do what I do.

08. As any listener of WDW Radio knows; you love to eat. I bet most people think food in Disney World is mostly just overpriced hamburgers and soda. Is it possible for a foodie to actually eat well in the parks?

Ohhhh yeah!! Some of the best meals I’ve had anywhere in the world (the entire world, not just Disney World), have been at WDW. Don’t get me started on bluezoo, California Grill, Flying Fish, Artist Point, etc etc etc.

09. What is currently inspiring you and in what way? (book, movie, song, podcast, anything really…)

Being a parent, I try to emulate what my father did for me, and strive to be even better. It’s something that motivates and inspires me every day, in everything I do.

10. How do you end a typical day? What do you do to unwind? 

My “day” usually ends closer to the middle of the night, but when it does end, I usually will unwind a little by eventually falling asleep watching something educational on TV, or maybe a movie.

You can find Mr. Mongello on the web:

GARY ARNDT : world traveler, writer, photographer & host of The Global Travel Conspiracy podcast

Gary is an inspiration. He’s traveled to over 170 countries and territories all over the world. He runs the website Everything Everywhere and hosts The Global Travel Conspiracy podcast. He’s an award-winning photographer and his writing has been published in The Atlantic, Outside Magazine, & The Huffington Post. We talked about making decisions, group travel, podcasting, and overcoming fears.

01. What’s your typical morning routine? How do you get your day started?

Given how much I travel, I don’t really have a typical morning routine. I have different schedules in different places. I’m always in different time zones and have various degrees of jet lag. I have a set schedule for posting things to Instagram and my website, but that is based around Central Time in the US, so things will be different all around the world.

02. You’re well known for selling your house in 2007 to travel the world. I’m curious to know how that decision was made. Was there a tipping point that just made you feel like if not now, when?

The decision to travel was made in an instant. From there it took me over a year to make it happen. That involved tying up loose ends, selling my house, packing, etc. There really was nothing stopping me as I had no wife or kids, so once I came up with the idea, it was simply a matter of execution.

03. After years and years of constant travel, you finally rented an apartment in the states. How is that going for you? Do you miss the uncertainty of not knowing where you’ll sleep at night?

It has taken some adjustment. It is odd the things that require getting used to. I realized that I’ve been in a state of almost constant interruption the last 9 years. Maids knocking at your door, planes to catch, etc. Being able to be at home and just work without interruption, is a big change. I’m also getting used to not eating out every meal and trying to get into some sort of routine to be more productive.

04. I’m a huge fan of The Global Travel Conspiracy podcast. Why did you decide to start a podcast? And who is your dream guest?

I had wanted to do my own podcast for a while. About a year ago I was contacted by CBS who had just launched a new podcast network. I had several ideas for a show, but I decided to just go with a simple interview format. In terms of getting the most downloads or exposure, I suppose getting someone like Anthony Bourdain or Rick Steves would be the ideal guest, however, there are lots of travelers out there with great stories, and those are the people I really want to talk to.

05. I know you do some work with G Adventures. What exactly is your relationship with them…and how do you feel about group travel like that?

I am a brand ambassador for G Adventures. I have been working with them for over 5 years now. They are a great company and I average about 2 trips a year with them.

I do a lot of solo travel, but by no means do I put down group travel. The types of trips G does are exactly the sort I recommend if you want to go on a guided trip. The groups are small, they use local transportation and lodging, and focus on experiences and local culture.

They offer a wide range of tours for different comfort levels. For example, if you are a very experienced traveler, you probably might not bother with a group trip to a place like Western Europe or Southeast Asia. However, no matter how experienced you are, you can’t really travel to places like Antarctica or Bhutan by yourself. You have to go with a group. Those are the type of tours I tend to go on with G.

06. Imagine you’re talking to someone who has never done any serious traveling, maybe they’ve been dreaming about exotic countries, maybe they’ve purchased some Lonely Planet books but just haven’t bought that plane ticket yet…What advice would you give to someone looking to start traveling the world for the first time?

When all is said and done, you just have to do it. Book the ticket. All the planning in the world isn’t really going to prepare you for when you are on the ground.

Many of the fears people have about traveling disappear once they are on the ground and have to confront them. What they are really afraid of is the unknown, and once you are there and can see and experience it for yourself, it is no longer unknown.

07. One of the things I love about travel is that transcendent moment that comes around every once in a while, an example for me would be seeing Machu Picchu for the first time after dreaming about it for years. Do you have any significant moments like that you think about?

Yes, but they don’t really come from the iconic places you think they might. It comes from seeing things unexpected, or something which you never thought was that big of a deal. One of the greatest moments I’ve had was watching the sun set and the lights turn on, on the Hong Kong skyline. I was able to feel the energy of the city.

08. Are you working on anything new right now that you’re excited about?

I have several big things I’m working on. Now that I’m not traveling full time, I have the time and resources to finally get them done.

09. What is currently inspiring you and in what way? (book, movie, song, podcast, anything really…)

I read a lot of history. I just finished a biography of Genghis Khan, and now I have strong desire to finally travel to Central Asia.

10. How do you end a typical day? What do you do to unwind? 

I like to read. My Kindle is something I take with me wherever I go. I just got the newest version and it is an absolute delight to read on.

You can find Mr. Arndt on the web:

FRED PERROTTA : co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks & co-host of Power Trip

Fred is the co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks and the co-host of the endlessly fascinating Power Trip podcast. I don’t know Fred, but I use Tortuga products. I’ve gone through a lot of luggage over the years and I can definitely vouch for Tortuga, especially their masterfully engineered day packs. There’s a reason Entrepreneur listed them in their 100 Brilliant Companies. We talked about podcasts, advertising, travel & getting things made in China.

01. What’s your typical morning routine? How do you get your day started?

I leave the morning as my main personal work session. One day per week, I have one-on-ones with our team. Otherwise, I keep my morning calendar clear. I wake up naturally (not with an alarm), eat breakfast, then meditate with the Headspace app for 10-15 minutes. After showering, I make coffee and power through the most important tasks on my list until lunchtime.

02. Can you tell me a little about yourself pre-Tortuga? How did you get your start?

After college, I left the east coast for San Francisco and a job with Google. I spent three years working with clients to manage their advertising campaigns. Many of my clients were big spenders, but not household names. Almost all of them were online dating sites. I parlayed those skills into freelance work with startups after leaving Google so that I could pay rent while starting up Tortuga Backpacks. Oddly enough, we spend very little money on Google advertising now.

03. I use a Tortuga backpack, a Tortuga daypack, and Tortuga packing cubes…so you could say I’m a fan. Why backpacks? How did the company get started?

Rather than copying and pasting, check out our origin story here. We’ve written about this hundreds of times.

04. You guys advertise on a few travel podcasts, that’s how I heard about you. Podcasts are a relatively new medium and they seem to be working for you. How is it working? Is podcast advertising something more companies should be looking at?

We started with the Extra Pack of Peanuts podcast. Travis is a friend and loyal Tortuga user. He pitched me on the idea, and we decided to test it out. I listen to a lot of podcasts, travel and otherwise, so I knew that some companies were doing well with podcast ads. I loved the medium. Since Travis was already using a Tortuga, he could speak honestly about why he liked it. We probably wouldn’t advertise with someone who had never used our bags. Those types of ad reads are very transparent on other shows. I would recommend for other brands to try advertising on podcasts, unless they’re in the travel vertical. We prefer lots of availability and no competition there. 🙂

05. Speaking of podcasts, I love your Power Trip show. I’ve seen companies start podcasts and they may post a few episodes and then that’s it. You seemed to have found a happy middle-ground between advertising your products and giving great interviews and travel advice. Why did you decide to do the show and what has the response been?

Once our blog was rolling along, we wanted to test another medium. Jeremy and I both love podcasts, and it was easy to set up and cheap to get started. The only real commitment was our time. We liked that with a podcast, we could speak at length about our business and products and give people a look behind the scenes from the people involved. We’re on hiatus for the holidays now but will be back with a re-tooled version of the show in 2016.

06. Tortuga backpacks are manufactured in China. I went to China a few months back and fell in love with the people and the country. How did you end up deciding to manufacture there?

When we started the company, we bounced between sampling in China and manufacturing the first run in California. The reason we chose China is two-fold. First, Southeastern China is where most of the world’s textiles and soft goods are made. You can find an incredible network of factories, suppliers, and expertise there. Second, our bags are too complex to manufacture in the US and still offer them at an affordable price. Making travel accessible was more important to us than where we make the bags. See also Made In China.

07. Is there any simple advice you could give to someone wanting to develop a new product? What’s the basic process of developing an idea and finding a company overseas that can make it for you?

This is a huge question. I’ve already written about some of it here: How to run a physical product business from anywhere.

08. Are you working on anything new right now that you’re excited about?

Yes, we’ve roughly doubled our team in the last four months and are gearing up for a big 2016 including re-designed and new products and new content to help people travel better. Stay tuned to our blog for updates along the way.

09. What is currently inspiring you and in what way? (book, movie, song, podcast, anything really…)

Travel. The more I travel, the more committed I am to our mission and the impact that we can have. The destination almost doesn’t matter, because I can take something inspiring away from anywhere that I visit. In 2015, I visited Thailand and Spain. Both countries made me excited about travel though they were very different.

10. How do you end a typical day? What do you do to unwind? 

On low key nights, I cook dinner then read or watch a movie on Netflix. Otherwise, I’m out trying a new restaurant, grabbing a drink, or seeing a concert. I live in Oakland, just across the bridge from San Francisco. Both cities have an endless amount of things to do and to eat.

You can find Mr. Perrotta on the web: