The All Things Risk Podcast

The All Things Risk podcast explores the themes of risk, uncertainty and resilience as applied to sports, the arts, current affairs and just about any other domain. We feature long-form conversations with interesting guests who have loads of fascinating stories, tips and tools.
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Now displaying: November, 2016
Nov 29, 2016

Today, we revisit a theme we have explored many times on the show: resilience.  Resilience provides us with agency or control of our circumstances. Even though we live in one of the safest times in human history, we also live in the midst of high levels of uncertainty and ambiguity. If we want to be able thrive and perform well, cultivating resilience is an incredibly important skill and practice.  My guest is all about that.

Meet Sean Douglas. Sean works in the United States Air Force and is a resilience trainer, author and speaker. Nine years ago however, Sean faced the lowest point of his life. He was staring down the barrel of gun and almost committed suicide. Sean shares what he was feeling during this episode, and more importantly, what he did to bounce back and regain control of his life.

Since then, Sean has used this experience to help others. He trains people to become mentally, physically, spiritually and socially resilient. He combines his military and leadership training (he spent time as a drill instructor and has that drill instructor intensity!) with his personal experiences to help his clients. We talk about all this and lots more.

Show notes:

Article in Rolling Stone "Why We're Living in the Age of Fear" - 

Sean's website - 

Sean on Facebook - 

Sean on Linkedin - 

Sean's book Decisions: The Power to Overcome Self-Defeating Behaviours 


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Nov 20, 2016

Probabilistically speaking, if you were born without your right hand, what are the odds that you would become a world-class concert pianist? You might be mistaken (and forgiven) for assuming that the chances would be relatively low. However, that's perhaps because you have not heard of my guest on this week's episode.

Meet Nicholas McCarthy. Nicholas is a world-class concert pianist who has played all over the globe. He was born without his right hand. He was the first left-hand only graduate of the prestigious Royal College of Music in London. He has played alongside Coldplay at the opening ceremony for the 2012 Paralympic games, has a wonderful solo album, was a guest presenter at the BBC Proms, is a radio host and will soon launch his own podcast called "Of Note". He has also appeared on several prominent podcasts, including the Tim Ferris Show.  

Nicholas is hugely inspirational. In addition to this however (and as usual as this show's USP), I apply a risk lens to Nicholas' story and it provides some wonderful insights into the question: "how can you turn the odds of something you want to achieve to your favour?" We cover loads of great stuff in this incredible conversation:

  • Nicholas' background growing and how he got interested in the piano (and some great insights on parenting here);
  • The challenges that he faced in studying the piano at a world-class level (there were several!)
  • Left-hand repertoire, the style of playing in which Nicholas specialises;
  • The balance between talent and diligent practice;
  • Risk and risk-taking;
  • Much, much more

I am delighted to bring this conversation to you and I hope you check out Nicholas' work.

Show notes:

Nicholas' website:

Nicholas on Twitter:

Nicholas on Facebook:

Nicholas' solo album:

Nicholas' YouTube channel:

Nicholas playing Nocturne by Alexander Sciarbin (the piece this episode opens with) -

Twitter Account for "Of Note" Nicholas' podcast (to be launched at the time this episode went live) -

Facebook page for the "Of Note" podcast - 

Nicholas' TEDx talk -


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Nov 14, 2016

Today we take a look at the important and fascinating world of humanitarian aid and conflict  and disaster response, particularly in some of the world's most crisis-stricken areas. My guest is Ros Kirkland. Ros has eighteen years of experience in this field for both the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the British Red Cross.

Ros has been involved in relief operations in North Korea, the Great Lakes Region of Africa, China, Mongolia, Bangladesh and Darfur, Sudan. We talk about these experiences and she provides some interesting insights into how these operations work.  In addition, we also cover:

  • Governance in disaster relief
  • What it's like to have a career in this field, including challenges and ways in which to overcome these
  • Climate change and the future of humanitarian aid
  • Loads more!

I'm sure you will enjoy this great conversation!

Show notes:

Ros on Linkedin:

Ros in her Trustee role in the Women's Sport Trust: 

The International Committee of the Red Cross: 

The British Red Cross: 

Mark Blyth on Global Trumpism:


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Nov 8, 2016

What happens to our brains when we take risks? How do successful risk-takers process information? Do they look at risk any differently? What does the science of risk-taking tell us?

Meet Kayt Sukel, author of The Art of Risk: The New Science of Courage, Caution and Chance.  Kayt is a science writer and traveller who “has no problem tacking interesting and often taboo subjects spanning love, sex, neuroscience and politics.”  Her work has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, New Scientist, The Washington Post and National Geographic Traveller.

In the Art of Risk, Kayt studies “risk-takers” of various vocations – from base jumpers to fire fighters. We talk about this, and the conversation brings up loads of great stuff around diligent practice and hard work, decision-making, and how we can all get better at taking risks.

 But – there’s more to Kayt than this.  According to Forbes magazine, Kayt “knows more about sex than you or I do.”  Her first book is titled Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex, and Relationships (retitled This is Your Brain on Sex: The Science Behind the Search for Love).  So, as you would do with anyone you speak to the first time, we talk about sex – that’s the beauty of podcasting!

Along the way we touch on a range of fascinating topics:

  • Pop science;
  • How the brain works;
  • The nervous system;
  • Decision-making;
  • Gut feelings;
  • And much more!

Show notes:

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Nov 1, 2016


What would life be like if you could read people’s minds? Of course “mind reading” isn’t magic.  However, why mind reading tricks work is fascinating stuff.  What is even more fascinating is knowing the power of an understanding of how the mind works. This can be used to take risks successfully, improve performance, and design your life.  That is exactly what I discuss with my guest on this week’s episode (among many other things).

Meet “mind reader”, mentalist, coach, author and entertainer Jonathan Pritchard (check out his main project  Jonathan also hosts a podcast and runs a website called “A Life Well Designed” (in which I had the pleasure recently of being a guest).  He’s also a martial artist (he studies Wing Chun) and we connect all of these threads, plus a few more in this super fun conversation that covers:

  • Mind reading and mentalism;
  • How mind reading can be applied to lifestyle design;
  • Why and how pickpocketing works;
  • “Echo time” versus “real time”;
  • Martial arts;
  • Design concepts and lifestyle design;
  • Cognitive psychology and how we navigate reality
  • Much more!

Show notes:

Jonathan's main project "____ like a mind reader":

Jonathan’s site and podcast “A Life Well Designed” -

A Life Well Designed on Facebook:

On Twitter:

On Instagram:

A free preview of Jonathan’s book How to Think Like a Designer:

David Epstein’s book The Sports Gene:

Apollo Robbins on “The Art of Misdirection”:


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