Remember the last time you and few close friends stayed up too late at the Diner because no one wanted to leave? You didn’t need that grilled cheese with a side of pancakes but damn if it didn’t hit the spot! You laughed until you cried or cried until you laughed. Regardless of which lead to what, you left feeling a little more thoughtful, grateful, and actually full. Those are the best conversations we have in our lives, and the reason why Diner Talks with James exists. I’ll be your bearded bespectacled host, James Robilotta. I’m an author and professional speaker who talks to willing and unwilling audiences on the role that authenticity and vulnerability must play in life and business. I am a life coach with a Masters in counseling and 16+ years of improv comedy experience. Most importantly, I am a fellow human being with a fervent curiosity for others’ passions, relationships, insecurities, ambitions, patterns, and food quirks. So, come join me in The Diner. Slide into the booth, place your order, and tell me a story.
Is social media connecting us or dividing us more? With Dr. Josie Ahlquist
This week I am joined in the Diner by social media expert, Dr. Josie Ahlquist! We kicked it off by randomly talking about Josie’s high school dating life. We then discussed her huge transition moving from Wyoming and South Dakota to Los Angeles, what some of the values she missed were and new ones she appreciated. Josie and I then bonded over dealing with imposter syndrome when when writing a book and how much better she is at asking for help than I am. Speaking of books, we got to hear all about Josie’s new book: Digital Leadership in Higher Education: Purposeful Social Media in a Connected World. She taught me about self awareness and being intentional on social media as a leader. After a fun random facts segment, we dove back in and discussed Josie’s lack of connection with girls when she was younger and how that has changed in adulthood. We finished up by talking about whether or not social media connecting us or dividing us more, how to own your truth online, and whether or not #activism works. Having Dr. Josie Ahlquist was insightful, educational, and super fun. I hope you learn as much as I did!
Comedy is a Survival Mechanism with Douglas Widick
Douglas Widick, hysterical actor, music producer and improviser, joins me in the diner this week! Fun fact, he created the theme song for Diner Talks with James and he and I are the co-owners of the internationally known hip-hop improv comedy team, North Coast. We kicked off our convo discussing the beginnings of our friendship, North Coast, and, naturally, Doug’s diner prowess. We then talked about the delicate dance that is being great friends who go into business together. I then switched gears and wanted to ask Doug about his impressive and unrelenting work ethic and what drives it. We touched on the societal responsibility of coming from more than enough and then got a little bit cerebral and discussed using humor as a defense and survival mechanism. Then we got deliciously deep when Doug Widick and I jumped into our deepest fears. We finished our hysterical chat with some wisdom. Doug discussed the importance of enjoying the journey on the way to your goals and the interplay between side hustles and the main dream. This episode had some gem’s y’all. Enjoy!
Why Black Women are Invisible with Sara Lowery
Sara Lowery hopped into the diner with me for this episode and it was enlightening, to say the least. Before we dove into deeper topics we first had to debate about the correct way to to order Waffle House hashbrowns and grits. Then we jumped in the deep end of the pool when I asked Sara, “As a Black women, how are you doing in 2020?” Sara tought me about how Black women have always been and still are invisible in society. We talked about how even this year George Floyd had to die so we even looked at Breonna Taylor. Sara talked about how exhausting it is and how she balances being a social justice educator AND needing time to process. She went off and told us all that we need to get past the table of contents of people who are different than us that we meet. At the end of the day intersectionality is great but labeling people is not. After a fun segment where we learned some fun facts about each other, Sara and I talked about the importance of, and how to, know your value. We talked about how you introduce yourself is how you show up in life. At the end, the episode closed out with an impromtu, fantastic, TED-like talk from Sara and you don’t want to miss it because she got me fired up and I know she’ll do the same for you. Thanks for coming to the diner, Ms. Lowery!
Pregnancy loss and powerful parenting with my wife, Tina VanSteenbergen!
This week’s diner guest is my favorite human, because it’s my wife - Tina VanSteenbergen Robilotta!!! We kicked off the conversation learning about Tina’s love of bourbon and bubbly water then we dove off deep end. Tina told me about why being a mother is something she has always wanted to do. We discussed the way our parents influenced us in known and unknown ways. Tina and I then discussed our devastating experience with pregnancy loss in the second trimester. She then discussed dealing with loss while trying to grow a young business she was passionate about. Climbing out of that horrible time, we both chatted about the stress of trying to get pregnant again. Then…spoiler alert… it worked! So then we discussed about whether or not we are going to raise a good human. Tina shared one thing she is excited to teach our child with a really powerful story. We lighted the mood debating “Duck, Duck, Grey Duck” vs. “Duck, Duck, Goose.” We wrapped up the conversation with Tina discussing the role other women have played in Tina’s pregnancy journey.
Processing the fall out of a million dollar business with Tom Krieglstein
Tom Krieglstein became my first guest to actually eat while he was in the diner! Since he was munching on a veggie pizaa, we started by chatting about the impact The Simpsons had on Tom’s dietary choices. We then dove into Tom’s passion of creating a culture of connection. He told me about his chase for the Guiness World Record for hugging and we let the roll into a great talk about where Tom’s passion for connecting others stemmed from. Tom then opened up and processed the failure of a million dollar business that he started and was then fired from. In doing so we talked about self-help practices because he is a huge proponent for journaling. Then after a fun segment where we learned about Tom’s passport mishap in Indonesia and an embarassing puberty moment for me, we dove back in. We ended the conversation discussing his new role as a step-father and the difference between being a tourist and being a traveler. Tom dropped a lot of nuggets in here, y’all. I can’t thank him enough for joining me in the booth!
Confronting an absent father with curiousity with Justin Jones-Fosu
Justin Jones-Fosu jumped joyfully into the Diner this (j)episode. We kicked it off commiserating about how to grieve what you miss in quarantine/Covid-19 times and what it’s like parenting in this madness. Justin then spoke about the importance of involving your kids in their growth and learning plan. We then shifted gears and Justin opened up to me about his life-changing trip to Ghana in 2018. On the trip, he confronted his absent father but he did it using a surprising approach: curiosity. After that powerful talk with he told me about his ABC and 80/20 rules for who you give time to in your life. We ended by discussing the possibility that perhaps we have trained our friends to communicate with us in certain ways/patterns and how to break those. It was awesome to have Justin in the diner booth with me!
Customer ReviewsSee All
James brings so many insightful perspectives with humor and fun. If you’re just looking for some motivation or inspiration, look no further!! Highly recommend it.
Don’t miss out on these talks!
If you’re looking for a balance of hilarity and depth, this is the podcast to listen to. Not only does James talk about authenticity and vulnerability, he demonstrates it in every episode. I will never not recommend this!
A profound dose of curiosity and Sid some
James has such a profound degree of curiosity that I feel like I could listen to him interview anyone about anything. His natural insights and vulnerability invites and creates such welcome spaces that you feel like you’re a part of the conversation. I love his willingness to go deep and the humor throughout the process!