Musings about Ourselves and Other Strangers

Musings about Ourselves and Other Strangers

If you've ever been surprised by your own thoughts, well, you're not alone. From the time we're born to the time we die, we spend our lives meeting strangers — including the one within. We also spend our lives learning about many of those strangers, and turning them into colleagues, friends, and family. In Musings about Ourselves and Other Strangers, host Charlie Bresler talks with fascinating people on their musings about family, community, work, helping others, and getting to know the stranger inside ourselves. Where do we fit in the world we all inhabit together? Join us as our musing leads us to some unexpected places. Charlie Bresler is the co-founder of The Life You Can Save and former President of a large international retail company. Here he investigates ideas that he has been “musing” on since he obtained his Ph.D. in clinical and social psychology way back in 1984.


June 20, 2024 50 mins

Starvation isn’t only a deficit of calories, it’s also a deficit of nutrients. Children especially suffer when the food they do get doesn’t meet all their nutritional needs.

Felix Brooks-church has some big ideas to end the “hidden hunger” of micronutrient deficiency, and in 2013, he and David Dodson co-founded the non-profit organization Sanku to help close the gap. 

One of Felix’s biggest id...

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What do concert tickets and philanthropy have in common? Generally, not much, but a couple of friends of The Life You Can Save are working very hard to change that.

Tech entrepreneurs Joshua Ross and Adam McCurdie could have made a fortune building their ticketing platform start up, but a trip to war-torn Sri Lanka fueled their desires to do work that was truly meaningful.

It took a few years ...

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March 18, 2024 61 mins

When  the book The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty was first published in 2009, it completely changed (and re-ignited) the conversation around poverty, ethics, and philanthropy. Clearly it affected Musings host Charlie Bresler, who, after reading the book, ultimately approached its author about starting a non-profit based around philanthropy.

According to its author, Peter Singer, those ...

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Most of us in the west have our first pair of shoes long before we can actually walk. Not true for Caroline Teti, who had her first pair of shoes at 12, when it was time to go to high school.

From a very early age, Caroline understood the importance of education for finding a way out of the limitations that come from poverty — fewer choices, poorer health, less ability to contribute to her community. Her f...

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February 12, 2024 46 mins

One of its first three employees, journalist Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Future Perfect at Vox. For those unfamiliar, Future Perfect tells stories about people and organizations “finding the best ways to do good.”

Dylan came across Peter Singer’s book The Life You Can Save at a formative age, helping cement his interests around global health, anti-poverty efforts, philanthr...

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Will Rayward-Smith has spent his adult life learning about the effects of climate change. Fortunately, unlike many who feel overwhelmed by the climate crisis, Will has dived in to help bring about lasting change.

A specialist in decarbonization and transitioning to clean energy with a PhD in Clean Energy from Cambridge, Will understands the urgency of the issue. He founded SunSHIFT to replace diesel genera...

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January 8, 2024 6 mins

What drives us to do good things? And what dissuades us from doing those good things, even if we generally believe ourselves to be good people?

This has been the topic underlying Season One of the Musings podcast, and Charlie has had some truly fascinating conversations on that question.

In Season Two, Charlie plans to look at a different perspective on philanthropy and doing good: “Effective ...

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December 4, 2023 43 mins

The “mildly talented” (100% his term, not ours) actor, Nick D’Agosto tweeted enthusiastically about The Life You Can Save, and when the team saw the tweet, they jumped on it! They reached out and connected Nick and Charlie, and a friendship was formed.

Nick invited Charlie to appear on his (Nick’s) podcast, “God & Other Delicacies,” and now Charlie is returning the favor. If Nick sounds familiar, it’s beca...

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November 27, 2023 33 mins

It seems almost ridiculously simple: when donors give money directly to recipients, poverty goes down. 

Michael Faye, co-founder of GiveDirectly and Segovia, and CEO of Taptap Send, came to this “cash works” realization in the early 2000s. Michael was working on his PhD in Business Economics at Harvard University, evaluating ways to help bring about the end of extreme poverty. 

Once it became ...

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November 13, 2023 45 mins

“Money, although it won't make us happy in and of itself, is an incredibly powerful tool in our lives, when we use it in alignment with things that matter to us. Because whether we like it or not, money is needed and necessary to accomplish things that matter.”

John Hagensen, Managing Director at wealth management firm Creative Planning, probably handles the “tool” of money better than most. With a profoun...

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November 6, 2023 40 mins

The only thing more high-impact than tennis champion Marcus Daniell’s serve is his philanthropy and his mission to encourage other athletes to give.

An Olympic bronze medallist with five ATP titles, Marcus realized he had a unique opportunity to help the less-fortunate not only by donating but by using his platform to spread the word. In 2020, he co-founded High Impact Athletes to encourage other high-prof...

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October 23, 2023 61 mins

“Typical tech nerd”? Whatever that is, Ankur Shah Delight probably doesn’t fit the definition. 

The once-math and computer science student is now an Executive Coach with Momentum Lab, where he helps people discover themselves through finding a purpose that truly aligns with their values.

Of Eastern Indian heritage and one of the few students of color in his town in rural Washington State, Anku...

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October 16, 2023 40 mins

Am I even making a difference? Is helping one cause, one kid, or one family going to make a difference that lasts? 

In this episode, Charlie welcomes Ingrid Srinath’s musing on this topic. She shares that making a difference is a combination of giving now, advocating for policy change, and building the ecosystem that can support both of those. 

Ingrid Srinath has held many titles in her career...

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October 9, 2023 42 mins

Daniel Petre is an insightful no-nonsense conversational partner, so be ready for some frank talk in these musings. 

A former Microsoft executive, who worked closely with Bill Gates and later founded several highly successful venture capital funds. Daniel has worked and lived among high-powered, monied individuals. He has been struck by how “old rich, white men” do not want to part with their money, while ...

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October 2, 2023 47 mins

Is it possible for life to be both fulfilling and moral? How do we strike a balance between our obligations to others  and living a pleasurable life? 

In this conversation, Charlie and Neela Saldana, a fellow board member of The Life You Can Save, muse on how cultural differences, religion, identity, education, wealth, family upbringing, even travel all influence our moral principles. In order to impact so...

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September 26, 2023 41 mins

From bingo to the Bellagio, Elaine Wynn’s life hasn’t followed what one might term a “conventional” path. 

She and her now-ex-husband Steve Wynn were introduced by their fathers when both were very young. They started their lives together running Steve’s father’s bingo business; a series of opportunities took them to Las Vegas, where they built some of the most famous resorts in that city. Elaine was induc...

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September 19, 2023 43 mins

In this episode, guest Professor Joshua Greene and host Charlie Bresler hit upon an important question — and have somewhat different answers.

Many of us claim to be pretty “moral” human beings with an admirable set of values. But do we always live up to it? Obviously not, or we likely wouldn’t need police or lawyers or jails. The question Josh and Charlie found thornier is the why. Why don’t we live up to ...

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August 29, 2023 53 mins

Musing with Michael (Mike) Schur is a bit like playing chess with Garry Kasparov. No matter what conversational move you make, he has a counter that will likely stun you. No wonder his book is called How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question

In this episode, host Charlie Bresler is musing with Michael Schur. Creator of the critically acclaimed NBC comedy The Good Place, co-creator on P...

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August 29, 2023 39 mins

If you enjoy the introductory music that begins our show, you’ll really love this episode — host Charlie Bresler is talking with composer and musician José González, who generously agreed to allow his music to grace Musings on Ourselves and Other Strangers.

José has had a fascinating history: his parents fled the dictatorship in their native Argentina in 1976. Because José’s parents were at university and ...

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Most of us think we know ourselves pretty well. But do we? We all have a moral code we aspire to live by, but sometimes we fall short, and we may not always understand our motivations to act or not to act. 

In this podcast, host Charlie Bresler is interviewing some fascinating people in the quest to find out why there can be a pretty big gap between who we think we are and how we behave.



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