042: Sheila Rittenberg & Marda Stoliar - Finding Your Passion & Sowing the Seeds of Change
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Marda Stoliar has improved the world in war torn countries and countries with repressive regimes as well as wealthy and poverty-stricken U.S. neighborhoods. She didn’t do it through politics or activism; she did it through baking. Sheila has had a life and career that has spanned across geographies, years, and roles. She’s worked in health and medical research. She was a community organizer, has worked in public broadcasting, started a nonprofit and has raised money for documentary films.
A few years ago, as Marda started telling Sheila about her students and their special reasons for learning to bake, Sheila was lit up by Marda’s work and the impact it had on the world. Today, they join the show to talk about discovering a passion, persisting through hardship, and how pursuing your vocation - your passion work - can enhance your impact on the world.
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01:03 – Jonathan introduces today’s guests, Marda Stoliar & Sheila Rittenberg, who join the show to discuss early financial lessons they learned and what it means to truly pursue your passion work
08:00 – Marda’s gift, explained
10:19 – Sheila reflects on her career and what inspired her to make the documentary Marda’s Gift
18:05 – The Bread Doctor
25:23 – How Marda inspires her students through positivity, resources, and education
32:44 – One extra step we can take to truly understand our path and one thing to avoid
35:46 – A hidden gem walking among us
37:33 – One thing about Sheila that she would like others to know about her and the last thing she changed her mind about
39:22 – How listeners can learn more about the documentary Marda’s Gift
40:39 – Why Marda provides one-on-one classes
43:29 – The Forty-Six Percent Chocolate Rule
45:59 – Marda opens up about a difficult time in her career
51:22 – Finding your passion work and why Marda continues her work
59:26 – Marda describes her ‘perfect day’
1:00:51 – Jonathan thanks Marda for joining the show today to share her story
“Success for me was not about being rich. Success for me was finding a vocation, finding work, finding a purpose to matter in the world - to make a difference.” (06:07) (Sheila)
“I became a community organizer in those days because I was so riled up about the political action I was involved in. So it was a natural fit and the opportunity was there. It just felt right.” (13:36) (Sheila)
“There is only one life. What is most important? How can you impact others by taking risks yourself? So, we’re all models in whatever we do - in the way we walk our dog, in the way we discipline our children, in the way we speak to a clerk in a store - we are all modeling all the time.” (22:32) (Sheila)
“One person’s actions can have a ripple effect that we don’t necessarily think about when we think about changing jobs, or volunteering somewhere, or learning a new skill or trade so that we can help high school kids learn how to build. I don’t know, I’m making this up. But every step is inspirational. And so I hope that comes across in the film. That is a key lesson.” (24:11) (Sheila)
“I actually believe that, as a country, we don’t invest enough in our education system. Education and knowledge are the first stepping stones. They can and do change the world.” (30:53) (Sheila)
“It’s so important that you address one person’s interests and their needs and give them what they need, not what you want to teach a group of people.” (40:50) (Marda)
“I learned how to bake bread in Venice. I learned how to bake pastries in Paris as I was going to work as a shoe designer. I would work all day as a shoe designer and then I’d go work in a bakery all night. I don’t know why. I just did. I never planned on opening a bakery. In my life things just happen, but they’re all creative.” (49:41) (Marda)
“If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it. I just wouldn’t do it. Waking up to something you don’t want to do? That would be so sad.” (57:32) (Marda)
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