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.
Chasing Your Goals as an Entrepreneur with Entrepreneurship Researcher Brandon Fong
Few things bring me more joy than seeing someone shoot their shot, and that’s how today’s episode came about. I got an email from Brandon Fong saying he loves the show and wants to kick it with me in the Diner and I just had to say yes. Brandon is the host of the podcast 7-figure Millennials and wise beyond his years (which sounds like an old-person thing to say… but, well, he is). He shared so many nuggets, including a favorite quote by Carl Jung that I loved: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will control your life and you’ll call it fate.” We talked about business, personal growth, psychology, values, and more. He shared his strategy for goal setting and reflection that will have you reaching for your journal before the show is over.
Protecting Your Boundaries and Standing in Your Truth with TV Host Elizabeth Ries
Today in the booth is TV Host and all-around badass, Elizabeth Ries! I’ve had the privilege of sharing the microphone with her before on live TV, but today we got to kick it via audio. Elizabeth is the host of Twin Cities Live and is a breath of fresh air (which I feel like we all could use in our lives). She shared so much wisdom in this episode about confidence, going after what you want, staying true to yourself, and setting (and maintaining) boundaries. We laughed, we cried, and we talked about how to up your pancake game with some blueberry compote. This conversation feels like a hug, and it will leave you wanting to chase down your dreams while also being kind and curious to everyone you meet along the way.
Practicing Assertive Optimism with Former Band Geek and Extreme Meetings Emcee, Brian Walter
Sliding in the booth with me this week is Extreme Meetings emcee, Brian Walter! To quote Brian, we are both “raging extroverts,” so this was a good time! We discussed our mutual love for mac n’ cheese and then dove into Brian’s band-geek-trombonist past. After that we talked about being extroverts and how we both have a need to be liked and how both of those have changed over our lives. Brian then shared his a bit of his timeline highlights between college and his current role as an Extreme Meetings emcee. I loved when Brian talked about his philosophy of assertive activism. We finished discussing finding confidence and standing in front of audiences and trying to make them feel.
Vulnerability vs. Perfectionism with Healthy Relationships Speaker, Bonny Shade
Diner Talks with James this week is with my dear friend, Sexual Violence Awareness and Healthy Relationships Speaker, Bonny Shade. We first kicked it off talking about buffalo wings with proper “wingo” and diner orders. She then told me about growing up with less than enough in Lake Worth, Florida, and what decisions her family made to set her up for success and make ends meet. From that time, Bonny developed a fascinating and, at times, debilitating relationship with money and finances. She then flipped the script on me and asked me to talk about my insecurities that I am still working on from high school. We talked about the desire to be relevant and fear of being irrelevant. We then discussed the Enneagram. Bonny is a type 3, “the achiever,” so that launched us into a important convo about being perfectionists in work, our marriages, and as parents. One of the most powerful moments was when Bonny told the story about how she never wanted to be a mom and her journey to being proud to be a mother. This was a beautiful episode, y’all. Hope you enjoy it!
Instincts vs. Training as a First Responder with Former Fire Chief Rich Gasaway
This conversation was so powerful that it had both of us welling up. Joining me in the booth was former Fire Chief and lifelong first responder, Rich Gasaway. It’s so fascinating to think about individuals in those roles that we often take for granted until we need them, and it was so beautiful to hear Rich describe the work that he does, how he got into it, and how he stays in it. I will routinely return to a quote he shared – “don’t ever judge the people by the chapter of their life that you happen to stumble into when you respond to a call.” This is advice we can all take to heart. Rich has seen a lot in his time and is doing some incredible work with high-risk-decision-making and helping us identify our patterns. He’s a wealth of wisdom and you won’t want to miss this episode!
Pregnancy loss and powerful parenting with my wife, Tina VanSteenbergen! - Encore
We are excited to bring you this encore presentation of one of our most popular episodes. We hope you enjoy!
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 the 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 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.
A New Favorite and Must Listen!
I wasn’t looking for a new podcast to add to my weekly routine- I struggle to keep up with all of my current favorites- but after just a few episodes, I knew that I would simply have to make the time because this podcast is hands down, a new favorite.
James and his guests discuss topics that truly matter while keeping in plenty of moments of humor and stories that make you laugh out loud. Instead of feeling like a listener, James makes you feel like you are part of the conversation and I often find myself wanting to pipe in with my own comments. A good podcast host asks questions that brings out the best in the guest, and James does this with ease. He blends vulnerability with humor, and without shame or judgment- shares his stories and creates a space for the guest to share theirs.
I love the discussions about genuine adult friendships- they are hard to make! And as a woman, I have learned so much about the male perspective on mental health, and gained new insight and respect for how different it is for a man to navigate emotions vs women.
The podcast is one to watch as it is going to quickly grow and soon become one that everyone is talking about. The conversations keep getting better and you will learn, laugh and have something to talk about with those in your life!
I was introduced to James’s work through a sorority sister and former colleague. I have been so inspired by not just his insight but also how he’s using his platform to provide a space to have genuine conversation and experience sharing. I just really love this podcast. It’s very refreshing, especially amidst a pandemic. James and his guests are awesome!
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.