Featured Episode

Featured Episode

Learning Life with Jon Tota

Each week Learning Life strives to teach you something new, deliver interesting stories and share best practices to take your learning to the next level.

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Latest Episodes

Scott Finn

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Benny Boas

This week we have Benny Boas, CEO of Burlington Code Academy and Upright Education. Benny began teaching coding and software development with online courses and bootcamps through BCA right here in Vermont.

Now, he’s going national. Upright Education partners with colleges and universities to prepare adults for software-based work with rapid re-skilling courses, teaching a wide range of skills from Javascript to UX/UI design.


Kate Williams

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% 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.

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.

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.

Dr. Rob Williams

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 a major voice on Vermont Independent Radio, Dr. Rob will be there to show you something new and interesting.

This week, he 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.

Bill Cherry and Craig Wilkinson

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.

David Bradbury and Sam Roach-Gerber

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.

Ben Krueger

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.

Dan White

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?

Jackson Latka

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.

Michael Ly

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.

Russ Scully

From windsurfing and paddleboarding on Lake Champlain to creating 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.

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