Learning Life with Jon Tota
Take your skills to the next level! Learning Life talks to experts with the newest ideas and valuable insight to help you improve your business and your brain. Elevate your team and your work. Learning is as easy as tuning in.
info_outline #151: The Community Economy with Ryan Nakleh 11/24/2021
#151: The Community Economy with Ryan Nakleh This week Jon sits down with Ryan Nakleh, founder and CEO of Local Maverick, a sales and marketing platform that makes it easier to discover, shop, and support local businesses. Listen to the story as Ryan got a local business off the ground during the pandemic, and how he aims to bring the Amazon buying experience to communities and help them buy local. Learn more at https://www.localmaverickus.com/
info_outline #150: Social Made Simple with Sophia Rabe 11/18/2021
#150: Social Made Simple with Sophia Rabe This week Jon sits down with Sophia Rabe, founder and CEO of Olive and Milo Social. Olive and Milo is a digital marketing agency that focuses on social media, offering services such as consulting, strategy, management, and measurement. Rabe grew up in the Mad River Valley and is a Champlain College alumni, choosing to set up her business right here in Burlington. Rabe chose Vermont over big city life after trying out a year in New York, finding the smaller towns less isolating and a better work and social environment, including a more personal way to build a business. Olive and Milo is named after Rabe’s pet pig and cat, respectively. While the agency serves clients nationwide, today much of Rabe’s client base is here in Vermont, helping businesses navigate the web of social media platforms and pinpointing where to focus efforts; be it Facebook, the “modern-day phonebook”, or Tik-Tok, the world’s fastest growing hyperactive engagement platform. Learn more at .
info_outline #149: Better Data for Better Decisions with Barry Finette 11/11/2021
#149: Better Data for Better Decisions with Barry Finette This week Jon sits down with Barry Finette, founder of ThinkMD. ThinkMD is an innovative healthcare and technology company, seeking solutions to expand quality healthcare coverage across the globe. Barry is also a professor in pediatrics, microbiology, and molecular genetics at the University of Vermont. ThinkMD aims to put physician-based decision logic into the hands of anyone, so areas underserved by physicians can be aided by technology. The technology is distributed by government and NGO partners, rather than directly by the company. Listen as Barry and Jon discuss the future of healthcare, the role of big data in fighting diseases and stopping pandemics, and disrupting the healthcare industry. Learn more at https://thinkmd.org/
info_outline #148: A Spark of Innovation with Adam Liszewski 11/05/2021
#148: A Spark of Innovation with Adam Liszewski This week we have a UVM student entrepreneur with a firey new idea - all natural fire starters that are sustainably sourced and safe for the environment. Meet Adam Liszewski, CEO and founder of Stokes Firestarters. After making fire starters as holiday gifts as a child with egg cartons and dryer lint, Adam has moved on to production models using food-grade paraffin and recycled sawdust from East Thetford Vermont. Stokes are now available in stores across the northeast and beyond, and on Amazon! Learn more at
info_outline #147: Community Strong with Vermont Womenpreneurs 10/27/2021
#147: Community Strong with Vermont Womenpreneurs This week we are excited to have Mieko Ozeki and Bethany Andrews-Nichols, the co-founders of Vermont Womenprenuers, an organization driving the mission of helping women entrepreneurs build their businesses in the Green Mountain State. In addition to helping other women start up their businesses, the duo are small business owners of their own. Mieko owns and runs Radiance Studios, a website, digital marketing, and event production business. Bethany is the owner of Beenanza graphic design, and licenses her pattern work internationally. The organization was hatched when Mieko began holding monthly networking meetings, and met Bethany who suggested creating a showcase of the products and services of women-owned businesses in Vermont. Womenpreneurs has held in-person and virtual summits since 2018 and helps collaborate with women to build better businesses. Don’t miss the upcoming Vermont Womenpreneurs Summit, “Navigating the Unexpected” — a 4-evening virtual event focused on navigating change in uncertain times. The Summit runs November 1-4, 6:30-8:00pm nightly. Get your ticket at
info_outline #146: Democratizing Public Media with Scott Finn of VPR and VT PBS 10/14/2021
#146: Democratizing Public Media with Scott Finn of VPR and VT PBS This week we have Scott Finn, President and CEO of VPR and Vermont PBS. With the recent merger of Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS, Scott is now leading the green mountain state’s largest media organization with a reach of over a million people each month and the goal of expanding to a broader and more diverse audience. Modern public media is more than just TV and Radio. Scott is looking to democratize media, with outreach through Youtube, podcasts, and more online content with shows like “Brave Little State,” “The Frequency” and the children’s educational show “But Why?“. We’re excited to see VPR and Vermont PBS support independent podcast shows like ours. Learn more at and
info_outline #145: Redefine Your Reputation with Matt Murray 09/30/2021
#145: Redefine Your Reputation with Matt Murray This week we have Matt Murray, founder and CEO of Widewail. A Vermont native and Navy veteran, Matt has worked through numerous tech and automotive companies before starting his company to help businesses with their online reputation. Widewail provides a suite of management tools for online product and service reviews, helping businesses invite their customers to review and engage with reviewers. Learn more at
info_outline #144: Hosting Generations at Basin Harbor with Sarah Morris 09/22/2021
#144: Hosting Generations at Basin Harbor with Sarah Morris This week’s entrepreneur story goes back more than 100 years! We are excited to have Sarah Morris, a fifth generation host and concierge at Basin Harbor, the historic 700-acre resort in Vergennes, Vermont. Basin Harbor began as a working farm back in the 1800s, and in the 1920s, Sarah’s great-grandfather was inspired by the tourism boom in Miami and began to build out cottages on the beautiful Lake Champlain waterfront. Today, the resort features over 77 cottages, dining, golf, and tons of maritime activities. Learn more at
info_outline #143: Swing into Success with Peter Miller 09/16/2021
#143: Swing into Success with Peter Miller This week we have Peter Miller, owner of Mini Golf on the Go and a student at the Stiller School of Business at Champlain College. Peter is another great Vermont entrepreneur story with a miniature twist - his company designs and rents mini golf courses at any event, indoor and outdoor, complete with clubs and balls. Peter puts his Vermont-grown woodworking skills to the test building each hole of a course on a unique 2-by-8 foot board that's easy for his team to transport and setup anywhere. Learn more at https://www.minigolfonthegovt.com/
info_outline #142: From Vermont to Space with Ryan McDevitt 09/08/2021
#142: From Vermont to Space with Ryan McDevitt This week we have Ryan McDevitt, co-founder and CEO of Benchmark Space Systems. Based right here in Burlington at HULA Lakeside, Ryan is looking to go from Vermont to space with micro-satellites that will change space systems as we know it. After working at Pratt and Whitney as a jet engineer, Ryan returned to Vermont with his wife and he began working on propulsion systems at UVM. With a spark grant from the university, Ryan began to build out Benchmark. Listen to Ryan's vision of the future where earth jumps from a few thousand to 70,000 satellites in orbit; making up a complex system of imaging, communications, and "space-station" type satellites with refueling and clean-up crews for orbital debris. Learn more at https://www.benchmarkspacesystems.com/
info_outline #141: A Pure Family Story with Dawn and Sarah Lancaster 08/31/2021
#141: A Pure Family Story with Dawn and Sarah Lancaster This week we have Dawn and Sarah Lancaster, mother and daughter co-founders of Pure Energy Apothecary, focused on healthy and accessible skincare and home fragrance products. A graduate of Champlain College, Dawn is acting CEO and owner, while Sarah is a current student at Champlain and a fellow at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, headed up by our previous guest Dr. Kylie King. After the passing of Dawn's mother, the Lancasters were inspired to find healthier solutions to the skincare products people use every day. Now, the pair, along with their cousin Michaela are expanding the brand nationally while Sarah focuses on e-commerce and getting Pure Energy certified as a B Corp, a corporation with verified high social and environmental performance. Learn more at https://pureenergyvt.com/
info_outline #140: Upskill for the Future with Benny Boas 08/24/2021
info_outline #139: Act on Opportunity with Kylie King, Ph.D. 08/11/2021
#139: Act on Opportunity with Kylie King, Ph.D. This week we are excited to have Dr. Kylie King, Academic Director of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Assistant Professor of entrepreneurship and analytics at Champlain College. Jon and Kylie sit down to discuss the connection between Champlain College and the Burlington community, fostering entrepreneurship in students and young adults, and looking ahead to Champlain in 2030. Learn more at https://www.champlain.edu/centers-of-experience/center-for-innovation-and-entrepreneurship
info_outline #138: Paying for our Planet with Kate Williams 08/04/2021
#138: Paying for our Planet with Kate Williams "That is a big rallying cry for us–– how do we engage more entities, businesses, and people in seeing how, and feeling clear about how they can give to the environment broadly defined to drive positive change." This week we have Kate Williams, CEO of 1% for the Planet. 1% for the Planet is a global network of businesses, individuals and nonprofit organizations tackling our planet's most pressing environmental issues, headquartered right here in Burlington VT. 1% operates through memberships, where businesses and people can commit to giving 1% of their sales or revenues to environmental causes, in exchange for certification. 1% creates pressure for big businesses to truly pay the cost of doing business- cleaning up the earth in the wake of human pollution, and has given over $295 million to date. Jon and Kate sit down to discuss management structure, remote and hybrid work, and giving back to the community. Learn more about 1% by visiting https://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org/
info_outline #137: Healthcare Decoded with Rich Tarrant 07/28/2021
#137: Healthcare Decoded with Rich Tarrant This week we have Vermont entrepreneurial success story, Rich Tarrant. Tarrant founded what would become IDX Systems Corporation back in 1969, later acquired by GE Healthcare. His latest company is Marathon Health, based right off the Winooski Circle. Tarrant sits down with Jon to discuss his basketball career at St. Mikes, and how it led to being a pioneer in healthcare technology. Tarrant also talks about the function of health insurance in modern healthcare and his educational philanthropy. Learn more about Marathon Health by visiting
info_outline #136: Adventures in Business with Sas Stewart 07/20/2021
#136: Adventures in Business with Sas Stewart This week we have Vermont serial entrepreneur Sas Stewart. You may know Sas as the co-founder of Stonecutter Spirits and creator of the sought-after popup Adventure Dinner events. Sas sits down with Jon to discuss making things special - from food and drink to experiences for customers and employees alike. Sas has been running Adventure Dinners since 2014, providing a bespoke experience of locally-sourced food and wine, and one-of-a-kind surprise adventures around the beautiful state of Vermont, including secret island getaways and a Shelburne Vineyards residency. During the COVID Crisis, Sas helped co-found On The Fly, a grassroots collective of business, finance, and marketing experts assisting hospitality businesses through the pandemic. In 2020, On The Fly helped over 50 businesses, totaling about $40 million in economic activity and 640 full time employees. Learn more about On The Fly by visiting Book your adventure dinner today at
info_outline #135: Just Breathe with Dr. Rob Williams 07/13/2021
#135: Just Breathe with Dr. Rob Williams "So the goal with peak flow is to figure out how to coach humans in multiple breathwork modalities and to become aware of how you can change your breathing and change your life moment. By moment, it's the most fundamentalist, the most elemental thing we do is to breathe." In this live episode, we have Vermont serial entrepreneur, Professor, and friend of the show Dr. Rob Williams. Whether you know him from the Yak it to Me Burger stand, teaching at University of Vermont and Champlain College, or as a major voice on Vermont Independent Radio, Dr. Rob always shares something new and interesting. This week, Rob sits down with Jon to discuss Peak Flow, a course to teach the Wim Hof Method, a breathing, cold exposure, and focus technique designed to help you live a better life. You can join an exclusive Peak Flow course in Burlington on Friday, July 30th at 1:30pm at the Burlington Surf club. Book now to experience a life-changing practice at
info_outline #134: Business Brewed Right with Switchback's Bill and Craig 07/06/2021
#134: Business Brewed Right with Switchback's Bill and Craig "I guess I've always had a sense of wanting to involve everybody into the brewery from the very beginning. I was kind of well-known in the early days, when I was out on the floor working right next to everybody and if anyone asked, "why are we doing this?" they learned to maybe not ask those kinds of questions because they'd get about a half hour a conversation with me explaining that particular ingredient or that particular temperature on the mash profile for the beer." What makes Switchback Brewing Co special? From the classic Ale to the Karsten Lager, Citra-Pils and the IPA, and now their first Double IPA and Smoked Beers, it's not just the hops, it's the process, and more importantly, the people. This week Jon sits down with Bill Cherry and Craig Wilkinson, the president and production manager of Switchback, to talk about the Flynn Ave-based brewer's 100% employee ownership setup, running for five years now, via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. Listen to learn how a passion for beer and a passion for people has guided this local business through it's nearly 20-year history.
info_outline #133: Start Up and Start Here with VCET 06/22/2021
#133: Start Up and Start Here with VCET This week we have special guests David Bradbury and Sam Roach-Gerber, fellow podcast hosts and President/Vice-President of VCET, the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies. VCET offers programs, capital, and business mentoring for Vermont entrepreneurs. Through VCET, David and Sam co-host the Start Here podcast, showcasing business success stories across the state and the Vermont Startup Collective, a community of entrepreneurs to help start conversations and build better businesses together. Learn more at Join the Vermont Startup Collective: Listen to the Podcast:
info_outline #132: The Principles of Podcasting with Ben Krueger 06/16/2021
#132: The Principles of Podcasting with Ben Krueger Based in Burlington Vermont, Ben Krueger is the founder and CEO of Cashflow Podcasting, where he helps industry advocates reach more people, change more lives and move entire industries forward. Having collaborated on hundreds of podcasts since 2012, he has developed 8 Podcast Principles that when applied, lead to highly effective business podcasts. Built on these principles, they've developed a proven system for leaders to host their own world-class podcast in a fraction of the time. In this episode, Ben and Jon discuss how to make a truly great podcast and engage your audience. Learn more at Follow Ben Krueger on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/benkrueger1544/
info_outline Episode 101 Flashback: James Lawrence Conquers 100 Today 06/08/2021
Episode 101 Flashback: James Lawrence Conquers 100 Today This week we rewind to congratulate good friend of the show, James Lawrence, on completing a journey he started 100 days ago - The Conquer 100. That’s a full distance triathlon every day since March 1st… Yes, we’re talking a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles on the bike followed by a marathon. Every day. For 100 days. Congratulations to you, James! Back in September, James joined Jon on the podcast to talk about how he accomplishes these world record feats, the value of teamwork and his family and how each of us can push our own limits by taking on new experiences. Check out James in his TWO Amazon Prime Originals: Iron Cowboy | The Story of the 50-50-50 and World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji. Follow James Lawrence on Instagram @ironcowboyjames Learn more at
info_outline #131: Going Local to Make an Impact with Dan White 06/01/2021
#131: Going Local to Make an Impact with Dan White "For Localvore, we're a technology company that focuses on really connecting local consumers and regional consumers to businesses that are creating a more sustainable agricultural economy sourcing locally and making an impact." Dan White knows what it means to go local. He likes to think of Localvore as the "Patagonia of tech," dedicated to sustainable practice and reinvestment in community. What better way to do that then with food? And where better than Burlington Vermont? White chose Burlington to start Localvore because of Vermont's similarly aligned values and farm-to-table agricultural focus. Localvore and it's mobile app, the Localvore passport, connect community members to eateries, including the hungry with its Everyone Eats program. The ultimate goal is to create a great, sustainable, local food scene in every city. Visit and to learn more. Connect with Dan on . And follow Localvore on .
info_outline #130: Family First with Jackson Latka 05/25/2021
#130: Family First with Jackson Latka "I'm very bullish on Vermont, in general, because I think the quality of life here is absolutely incredible. And I think as people start to prioritize that, and, you know, keep their business and their personal life and kind of hold it to the same high expectations, I think we'll see a lot more people moving here and a lot more interesting things happening." Jackson Latka is a Vermont entrepreneur with a family-first photo app: Notabli. Built right in Burlington, Notabli is a scrapbook for parents that keeps photos, videos, audio, notes, quotes and more in a privacy-first library with printing and sharing capabilities. Learn more at Connect with Jackson on . Or follow Jackson at @jacksonlatka on Twitter and Instagram.
info_outline #129: Networked to Grow with Michael Ly 05/18/2021
#129: Networked to Grow with Michael Ly "We definitely leverage Burlington and our values here in order to build a national brand. " Michael Ly has been a Vermonter for 10 years, and an entrepreneur his whole life. Ly is the CEO of Reconciled, the cloud-based virtual bookkeeping and CFO advisory service. He has previously worked as a controller, consultant, and CFO. On top of all that, he's the co-founder of Humnly on-demand HR. Listen to Michael Ly's story on building his businesses, remote work. and scaling up in a small city like Burlington. Follow on LinkedIn: Get started with Reconciled: Check Out Humnly:
info_outline #128: On the Wave of Vermont Entrepreneurs with Russ Scully 05/11/2021
#128: On the Wave of Vermont Entrepreneurs with Russ Scully Russ Scully’s wife Roxanne might say that her husband’s favorite word is “Yes.” After all, he’s always looking for the next great story. Growing up in New Jersey, Russ knew a typical metropolitan area wasn’t for him. So after years of living and surfing in California, he and Roxanne settled in Vermont. Once here, the Scully’s started to realize just how much can happen in the Green Mountain State. From windsurfing and paddleboarding on Lake Champlain to create a lifestyle brand and one of the hippest Spots on the lake to building a one-of-a-kind incubator designed to keep Vermont’s most innovative businesses thriving here in-state, Russ has no shortage of stories to share. Hear who inspires Russ & Roxanne, how they decide which industries to invest in, and the impact they hope to have on the Burlington business community. Scully Interactive WND & WVS The Spot Hula See Change Sessions Stand Up Journal Follow Russ on LinkedIn Invest in Burlington alongside Hula. Email
info_outline Episode 127: Open the Mind Hatch with Coonoor Behal 05/04/2021
Episode 127: Open the Mind Hatch with Coonoor Behal This week we talked to Coonoor Behal, the founder and CEO of Mindhatch, where they help companies create the conditions for innovation and for employees to thrive. By utilizing a unique combination of design thinking, innovation, facilitation, organizational improv, and diversity and inclusion, Behal and the Mindhatch team are able to assist organizations transition from stagnant to innovative all while building an inclusive and exciting place to work. Ready to #GetHatched?
info_outline Episode 126: The Future of Live Entertainment with Evan Samet 04/27/2021
Episode 126: The Future of Live Entertainment with Evan Samet Harnessing FOMO and his love of live events, Evan Samet founded Ticket Insider - a secondary ticket reselling platform established in 2013 while he was still in college and sold in 2018. He is now the vice president of purchase and market analysis for Key Investment Group.
info_outline Episode 125: Get Out of Your Own Way with Julia Pimsleur 04/06/2021
Episode 125: Get Out of Your Own Way with Julia Pimsleur Julia Pimsleur went big. After building her multimillion-dollar language learning business Little Pim, she set a goal to help 1 million women reach $1 million in revenues. Now she wants to help you get out of your own way and go big now!
info_outline Episode 124: Blueprint for a Balanced Life with Nicole Mixdorf 03/23/2021
Episode 124: Blueprint for a Balanced Life with Nicole Mixdorf Nicole Mixdorf is the founder and chief wellness office of Balance by Nature, an award-winning corporate health and wellness consulting firm. After a stressful corporate job, Nicole wanted to get away from the harmful stress of her job and help others live a less stressful life.
info_outline Episode 123: Moonshot to Moneymaker with Lewis Schiff 03/16/2021
Episode 123: Moonshot to Moneymaker with Lewis Schiff The most successful people in America didn't necessarily go to the best school, but they certainly worked the hardest and gave everything to be where they are. They are entrepreneurs.