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Connect Raleigh

Connect Raleigh

By Chuck Belden
A local and authentic look into Raleigh, NC. Each week we will meet interesting people, visit unique places and dive deep into all the things that make Raleigh, NC one of the best places to live in the US. As one of the most connected people in town, I'll introduce you to all the reasons why we call this place home and leverage over 14 years of my network for your gain. If you're new to town, lived here for years, or thinking of a move to the area, this podcast will connect you to everything and everybody you should know. It's time to Connect Raleigh.
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4. Dr Holly

Connect Raleigh

29. Raleigh’s Best Bars
We are taking a little time off from the podcast preparing for season #3 so in the meantime please listen in on this awesome conversation about Raleigh’s Best Bars from our friends at Raleigh Magazine.
July 05, 2022
28. Greg of Beta Box Labs
I love getting together with my boy Greg Pearlman. It's always one of my favorite conversations and today we let you listen in on it so you can get insight into His Raleigh. Give it a listen and afterward go check out some of his favorite places around town like... CAM Lincoln Theater Oak + Iron Fitness Raleigh Raw Weaver Street Market Cortez Second Empire Stanbury Umstead Hotel NC Museum of Art Boxyard Laurence BBQ Rockford
May 06, 2022
26. Mike Doyle
Ever wondered what it would be like to sell all of your stuff, move someplace new and start fresh? I've done it twice and there is something to be said about it for sure. My new buddy Mike Doyle did it too. Mike moved to Raleigh in 2016 after selling everything he owned in New Jersey and traveling the US for about a year in 2015. He owns an animation company called that brings to life what a company does in a 60-second animation. He's also got a webcomic called dailyBred and a podcast about the late 90s punk scene called This Was The Scene. He could have chose any place in the world to settle down and he picked Raleigh. Why? Well, let me tell you all about it in this episode.  And after you listen, connect with him at:  IG - @yourdailybred / @thiswasthescene And this is a man about town so he's got some great insight as to where you should spend your next 72 hours in Raleigh. Check out some of his faves at: Crude Bitters Transfer Co Food Hall Crank Arm Brewery HQ Raleigh Brew Alimentari Kings Neptunes Jerry's Artarama Poole's Diner Stanbury Death & Taxes Roshambo Beverage Company The Davie Lone Rider Mellow Mushroom Benchwarmer Bagels
March 09, 2022
25. Hannah from Women's Social Club
Hannah's story has a lot of twists and turns, but I get the impression she wouldn’t have it any other way. She says "there have been more jobs and moves than I care to admit, ranging from account management fresh out of college in NYC, to getting engaged and moving to Boston, losing my dream job in Miami, to landing back in my hometown of Raleigh with a husband and a baby on the way." After a very short move to NYC she decided it was time to officially make Raleigh their home and take the leap and open her own business, Dove & Olive Mercantile. It was in the process of pivoting this business during COVID where she found her motivation, purpose, and ultimately, The Women’s Social Club. I love this story for a number of reasons but maybe most of all because it's so familiar. We have had very similar journey's staring our respective networking and social groups. I created the Raleigh Young Professionals almost 15 years ago and we have so many parallels. It's a bit creepy. You can connect with her here: And then go check out some of her favorite places around Raleigh: Trolly Pub Heartwell Raleigh Cheesy Wye Hill Vita Vite The Optimist Falafel and Co. Oakwood Pizza Box Art Museum Raleigh Night Market
February 25, 2022
24. Nathaniel Brown, Perspective Coach
Nathaniel is what some call a deep well to drink from. His ability to extract principles and concepts from a vast array of cultures and texts, gives him the perspective, ability and the tools to engage others on many levels which always makes him a great conversationalist. Nathaniel battled with PTSD, night terrors, mis-identity, inferiority, anger, isolation and the overall feeling of not being enough. However, after doing the deep inner work and shifting his mindset along with his perspective, he has made it his mission to help others, reconnect to who they truly are. He believes that when we take time to re-see our traumatic/life experiences with a new perspective, we engage with life differently. We become better Fathers, Mothers, Husbands, Wives, Entrepreneurs, and Leaders. He believes all of us can truly Be, Do and Have what-ever we desire. After listening to our chat, check him out online at: Website: IG: @therealnathanielbrown IN: And then connect with some of Nathaniel's favorite places around Raleigh: Watts & Ward Taverna Agora Vinny's Venture Pizza Chuy's Raleigh Raw NC State Fair C Grace Logan's Trading Company Haven Farm Adventure Landing Brier Creek Alamo Theater The Rialto Theater Parade of Homes
February 07, 2022
23. Craig & Caz from This is Raleigh
Originally from Australia, Craig and Caz Makepeace are the founders of, one of the world's largest family travel blogs and now two good friends. Their blog has won multiple awards, they've been invited to The White House in 2014 as one of the most influential travel bloggers and digital media outlets to attend the first ever travel summit on study abroad, and were recently awarded Green Cards for their travel blogging expertise and success. They are now the founders of which is dedicated to sharing all the amazing things to do in Raleigh and the pursuit of a vibrant life in the “City of Oaks”. Be sure to jump over to their site to downloand your own uniquely Raleigh bucket list. They could literally live ANYWHERE in the world and they chose Raleigh. Let's find out why! To learn more about them after the episode connect with them here: And be sure to check out some of their favorite places around town tagged in our Instagram post at
January 21, 2022
22. Matt Sheehan from Exhale
In today's conversation I get to introduce you to Matt Sheehan of Exhale, a brand new tech enabled company that focuses on simplifying all of the  home services needed to care of your largest single investment...your home, to give people back their most precious resource...their time. Matt is a Boston transplant and now Raleigh resident. He's a husband, father of 3 awesome kiddos, a proven executive who often chooses the path less traveled and now he's launched a killer business here in the Triangle.  You can connect with Matt on LinkedIn at and check out Exhale online at And after you connect with Matt, go check out some of his favorite places around Raleigh at: Homestead Building Company Lafayette Village Farina Lake Gaston Dix Park Carolina Hurricanes
November 17, 2021
21. Susie from The Diversity Movement
Susie is an experienced and effective consultant, trainer, LGBTQ+ subject matter expert, and content creator who artfully mixes her professional experiences with down-to-earth humor and personal coming out story to bridge the knowledge deficit and help others on their DEI journeys. Her unique perspective and future-ready business strategies are amplified as a TDM Senior Consultant where she drives awareness and shared accountability across all diversity traits including gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, and mental and physical abilities. Susie’s expertise has deepened recruitment pools, increased employee productivity, and boosted companies’ bottom lines. Susie’s career includes 18 years in public education and in 2015, she founded With Pride Consulting to create actionable change for the LGBTQ+ population in schools and the workplace.  Susie is also an accomplished artist whose work has been featured in numerous venues throughout North Carolina and on HGTV’s Love It Or List It. Susie lives in Cary, North Carolina, with her wife, two children, and a dog named Clark Griswold. When she is not consulting or speaking, Susie enjoys spending time outdoors with her family, painting and baking delicious treats!  You can connect with her at:  And on Instagram: @thediversitymovement @susiesilverart  And after you connect with her online, go check out some of her favorite places around town: Mayton Inn Gonza Tacos Y Tequila  Chatham Street Wine Market La Farm Bakery Umstead Park NC Art Museum Bond Park Marbles Kids Museum Artspace
November 12, 2021
20. David Meeker
David Meeker is a Raleigh native, which is becoming harder and harder to spot these days with so many folks moving to town. He founded Carpenter Development and partnered with the Trophy Brewing team in 2008 to open Trophy Brewing and Young Hearts Distilling. He has made every mistake in the world, lived to tell about it, and has invaluable development experience because of that. David is on the Board of the Raleigh Chamber, Downtown Raleigh Alliance, Common Cause NC, North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform, Dix Park, Dogwood Bank Advisory Board, and Artspace all of which have a major focus on building community in Raleigh. He is also on the Capital Campaign Committee for Healing Transitions, a detox and recovery center on Dix Park. David lives in Downtown Raleigh with his wife and two boys. You can connect with him here: @davidmeeker on twitter @wrightbros on IG And then check out some of David's favorite places: Beasley's Chicken and Honey Death & Taxes Umstead Park Dix Park Layered Boulted Bread Morgan Street Food Hall Transfer Co Food Hall Garland Centro Fiction Kitchen Crank Arm Brewing
October 27, 2021
19. Jerry from Personal Safety at Work
Jerry McCormick is the Chief Safety Officer for Personal Safety at Work, where he utilizes his 30 years of experience as a police officer, plus 8 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and as a personal safety expert that researched more than 300 incidents of Active Shooter cases and then developed training for thousands of public safety professionals on how to respond to active shooter incidents. In addition, he has transitioned into a role of providing employee personal safety training after interviewing 9,800 police officers in the US, Europe & China on why police officers are rarely victims of Person-on-Person Crimes to help employees learn how to deal with a myriad of workplace and public threats that extend beyond active shooter situations. Personal Safety at Work has expanded their online offerings to include Distracted Driver Training and Turnkey Fleet Safety Management Program. This course is designed to increase safety, reduce injuries, reduce damages to property and vehicles, reduce lost time at work from accidents and improve confidence when operating a motor vehicle. In this chat Jerry and I talk about his life's work of creating safe environments for others and how that has contributed to making our area one of the safest places to call home.  You can connect with Jerry at and be sure to go check out what he loves most about Raleigh...well...Cary mostly: Waverly Place Koka Booth Amphitheater Cary Tennis Park Durham Athletic Park Durham Bulls Durham Performing Arts Center Duke Basketball Duke Football NC State Basketball NC State Football Carolina Hurricanes
October 21, 2021
18. Amanda from Amanda's Best Friend
Amanda Cheney is an entrepreneur and philanthropist in Raleigh, NC. After graduating from NC State, Amanda worked in telecommunications, banking, and politics before starting her own business in May of 2011.   aMANda'S BEST FRIEND, LLC is a premium level pet care service in the Raleigh area. In addition to her business, Amanda is fully vested in the Raleigh community through her volunteerism with the non-profit Band Together. She attended the Harvard Business School Governing for Nonprofit Excellence Program in September 2019. Amanda is an avid traveler, certified yoga instructor, and long-distance runner. She also loves to cook and read. And, of course, she’s totally obsessed with her dog named Nala who she rescued in October 2019.  After the episode please connect with her here:  Instagram: @amandas_best_friend  Facebook: @amandasbestfriendllc  LinkedIn: @amandas-best-friend  And then go try out her favorite people and places around Raleigh:  Kane Realty  Koka Booth Amphitheater  Walnut Creek Amphitheater  Bowstring   Rover  Band Together  Red Hat Amphitheater  Glenwood Grill  J Betskis  Cantina 18  Raleigh Art Museum  Museum of Natural Sciences  Pour House  Lincoln Theater  Cat's Cradle  About your host Chuck Belden: I am a client centered, full service Real Estate Broker with a high touch, high communication approach to serving my clients. I earned my NC Real Estate License in 2008 and was named Rookie of the Year that year in my firm. I've spent the last 13 years building a successful business and an outstanding reputation in the industry by always putting RELATIONSHIPS FIRST. I've worked in general brokerage for the majority of my career, including a time as the Managing Director of Hunter Rowe's Durham office and a year in new home sales for a local custom home builder.  If I'm not helping my clients achieve their real estate related goals, you can find me most likely with my beautiful wife, playing with my two amazing children, hosting this podcast, studying leadership, hosting networking events with the Connect Raleigh Networking group, playing lacrosse with the Raleigh Lacrosse Club or out on a LONG run.  I'm an experienced leader with a diverse background in sales & negotiations, coaching, business development, entrepreneurship, management, client care, and public speaking. I value people and believe deeply in building strong relationships which is evident in my desire to connect and serve others. My wide skill set comes directly from a rich professional career spanning from hospitality to real estate sales, management and team building to community management & new home sales and finally to real estate office management and talent personal & professional development.  And if you want to learn more about the process of buying or selling real estate, or working with a real estate agent, Let's see if we might be a good fit to work together. Take a look down there. 👀     You can find me at:    Instagram-  Facebook-  Twitter-  LinkedIn-   Or learn more about how we would work together:   ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️
October 14, 2021
17. Terrance Ruth, Raleigh Mayoral Candidate
Terrance Ruth is a proud Raleigh Citizen. A husband. A dad. He is a teacher at NC State, a former public school principal, and a community organizer. He led a foundation that works for social and economic justice. Terrance is a former National VP of Repairers of the Breach. And he is running to be Raleigh's next mayor. Thanks to our wives we've been able to connect and today he came by the studio for a chat. You can learn more about him on and connect with him here: FB: @truthforraleigh Twitter: @TruthforRaleigh Instagram: @TruthforRaleigh And if you want some real insight into what makes the man tick, check out some of his favorite Raleigh people and places here: The Banana Moon Junction West DW Foundation Table Raleigh Garland YM4C Second Empire Anisette 42nd Street Oyster Bar Blackology Coffee
October 05, 2021
16. Brook a Human Design Manifestor
Brook's story is a familiar one. Raised to go to school, get good grades, find a good job, work hard and get all the things. But something along the way changed. She knew there was something deeper worth seeking in this human experience, which led through some self-discovery about the food we eat and the way we move our body. While super common now, that was super woo back then. From there, she started a health coaching business and hustled her way to a pretty successful spot. She did all the things the experts say to do but something felt off. And then she crumbled and stripped it all away to find her true alignment by studying Human Design and now her goal is to help others find their true alignment and flow. You can connect with her at or on IG @BrookBelden. She's lived in Raleigh for 20+ years so be sure to check out some of her favorite spots around Raleigh for a true local's perspective: Gear Up For Adventure Falls Lake Durham Life & Science Museum Lifetime Fitness Raleigh Raw Humble Pie Raleigh Art Museum Lake Johnson Prime BBQ
September 09, 2021
15. Chris from Thompson & Prince
Chris Gorges is the founder & CEO of Thompson & Prince, a brand strategy and design firm focused on early-stage ventures and small businesses. He leads a wide range of creative projects related to foundational branding, including naming, logo design, visual identity, messaging, positioning, marketing collateral, pitch decks, and website design & development. Chris is also a bootstrapping tech entrepreneur, building Everharbor, a community for creative agencies and talent. He moved to Raleigh in March 2020 from New York City when COVID began and has a unique perspective on what moving here and living here is like. Give it a listen and connect with Chris below. Thompson & Prince: IG @thompsonandprince Twitter @thomprincenyc LinkedIn Web Everharbor: IG @everharbor Twitter @everharbor Linkedin Web Chris: IG @chrisgorges / @departmentofvintage Twitter @chrisgorges Web And after the chat be sure to check out the Connect Raleigh group on Linked In at and then go see some of Chris' favorite places around Raleigh and a few others we talk about at: UNC Scale School Red Hat Amphitheater Cookout Taco Bell Linwood Brewing Concern Wilson's Bowstring Pizza DiFara Pizza  Crank Arm Brewery
September 03, 2021
14. Michael of Nest Raleigh
This is going to be a long and windy ride so sit back, get comfy and come along with us as we talk through what it's been like running a business, specifically a Co-Working office, during the global pandemic. Michael opens up about the struggles as well as the silver linings and how he feels we move forward from here. And if it's not clear from our conversation, Michael loves Oakwood Pizza Box so you better run, not walk, over there today to grab a slice and ask about the top secret Oakwood Pizza Box story. After that, check out some of his other faves: The Nest Attended Events Betabox Labs HQ Raleigh aka Raleigh Founded Origin Hotel Mandolin Marbles Kids Musuem C Grace NC Bluegrass Festival
August 26, 2021
13. Chris
Christopher Terrell Moore, known as Artist Christopher Terrell, and known to me as Chris is a local Raleigh artist. We met a decade ago when I was walking through the Crabtree Mall with my real estate nametag on upside down. He caught it, called me over and I corrected my blunder. From there we connected on social media, he joined my Connect Raleigh networking group and soon I had the opportunity to help him purchase his first home. Here's a secret I don't think I've told many people and didn't tell Chris during our chat but I should have...I wore that nametag upside down on purpose. I was a new real estate agent trying to meet people so I came up with the idea that I would put it on upside down and walk the mall until somebody noticed it and started a conversation with me. And here we are 14 years later....crazy.  Over the last twenty years, he has produced over a thousand pieces, showcased his paintings and other art forms at more than 100 shows, and has been written about extensively. His art career began in middle school – drawing cartoon characters from his favorite comic books and selling them to his friends for lunch money. And it's evolved greatly from there. Through this work, Terrell taps into our internally shared experiences in life, both struggles and triumphs, with the goal of focusing on the more fundamental things that connect us over the more superficial externally experienced things that divide us. In 2009 he put together a year-long exhibit entitled “Art gallery: Home of the Obama Art Museum.” It showcased hundreds of creations by artists worldwide depicting President Obama – some in very creative forms, such as works made out of shoes or coins.  From 2009 to 2012 he created and operated “Hustle & Flow Community School of Hip-hop, R&B, and Art.” It was an organization that promoted school programs such as track-out, in-school programs, and special events. Its mission was to provide young people a place to learn and grow their creativity. In 2012, he created the Raleigh Film & Art Festival which is an annual event that showcases the most talented film directing and art work of young people from North Carolina and beyond. The festival draws many hundred submissions each year. You can connect with him here: And after the episode, be sure to strap on your walking shoes and go on his tour of Raleigh. You can go check out some of his favorite places and get a feel for his Raleigh here: Connect Raleigh Networking Group The Hudson Condos Raleigh Film & Art Festival First Friday Raleigh Arts & Science Academy North Carolina State University Obama Art Museum Tobacco Road Sports Cafe Benny Capitale's Pizza Falls Lake JC Raulston Arboretum Marbles Kids Museum Dix Park Raleigh Farmer's Market
August 18, 2021
12. Lindsay
This conversation got me really fired up and I think that after you give it a listen the same will happen for you unless of course you are a terrible person. And if you're a terrible person you're probably not listening to this podcast or following me on social media because you'd be too busy doing terrible things. So, since you're an awesome person, and you're doing awesome things like listening to this podcast of course, you're definitely going to love this chat with Lindsay Wrege the co-founder and CEO of 321 Coffee, a coffee shop truly based on diversity and inclusion. She started this company in her college dorm room as a freshman folks. I know what I was doing as a freshman and it wasn't starting community impacting companies. She now employs over twenty individuals with disabilities and believes in the power of using business for social impact. She's already partnered with big Raleigh companies like Pendo, Cisco and is looking for the right connection at Apple for their new Raleigh campus so if you know your thing and make a connection for Lindsay. You can connect with Lindsey here: IG: @drink321coffee And if you feel connected to Lindsay after this conversation, head on out and check out some of her favorite spots around Raleigh. 321 Coffee Raleigh Farmers Market Cisco Pendo Happy + Hale Apple A Place at the Table NC State Centennial Campus & surrounding greenways Whitfield Farms Short Walk Wines Lilly's Pizza 
July 22, 2021
11. John
Welcome friends. It's time to connect with Mr. John Kornegay. John is a photographer living in Raleigh, North Carolina. When he's not working he enjoys spending time with his lovely wife and son, functional exercising, and transcendental meditation in his spare time. JK as the local's know him, is a guy you need to connect with right now so go do it. Start with a follow on Instagram and then get to know this man in person as soon as you can. This is another one of the relationships that I talk a lot about that came out of the birthday round table my boy Kristian put together and I'm grateful and lucky to know him. He's got great insights on what to do, where to go and how to live life and he shares much of it here in our chat.  Connect with JK at: Check out the conversation and let me know your thoughts. And after the listen, give some of his favorite places a try. You can see the list below. Shaw University Lucid Skin Beauty Nest CoWorking Lifetime Fitness Raleigh Raw Food Truck Rodeo Morgan Street Food Hall Ray's buck jones Angus Barn Sullivan's St Jacques Raleigh Art Museum Centro Sitti Gravy Tonbo Ramen
July 15, 2021
10. Larry
Get ready for today's conversation. If you're not sitting down, you may want to. And it's likely you're not going to be able to stay in your seat for very long because it's about to get hype up in here today. So sit, stand, go for a run, listen to this one on a long whatever you gotta do. Larry Long Jr. is the Founder and CEO of Larry Long Jr LLC, which focuses on sales motivation, inspiration, training & coaching, and he's the host of the ‘Midweek Midday Motivational Minute’ on Linked IN. Larry is an experienced sales leader with a demonstrated history of success in SaaS sales. He is extremely passionate about coaching as you'll be able to tell from our conversation, and he gets fired up by helping professionals take their game to the 'next level'. From years of playing athletics, primarily baseball, Larry brings a unique perspective to the table and understands many of the challenges faced by sales professionals. His areas of experience include Sales Training, Team Development, Leadership, & Motivation within organizations of all stages (start-up to publicly traded). Practicing what he preaches, Larry continuously seeks opportunities to learn & grow. Basically he is a speaker, trainer and thought leader helping people from all different backgrounds and industries just be better. He's a husband, a dad, a friend, and he cares deeply about people I feel better after every time I talk with him and he ups the energy everywhere he goes. And couldn't we all use a little more of that. This episode has so many important nuggets of wisdom in it that you're just going to have to listen to the whole thing. And after you do, connect with Larry and tell him how this conversation impacted you. You can do that at any of the links in the show notes. LinkedIn: Twitter: Instagram: Website: Sales Training Course: And once you've connected with him, go check out some of his favorite spots around the Triangle below: Bojangles Pendo Idea Fund Partners NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic Duke Angel Network Durham Bulls Carolina Mudcats Carolina Hurricanes Wake Med Foundation Beasley's Chicken + Honey Poole's Diner Marbles Kid's Museum Boxcar Urban Axes
June 21, 2021
9. Jeff
Let's connect with Jeff! Jeff Murison is the President of Live it Up Hillsborough Street, an organization dedicated to creating a thriving corridor bringing NC State and local residents together in one awesome community.  We talk about what it's like to go back to face to face connections in the post Zoom/Covid world, how the pandemic has affected local businesses and the University and the silver lining in all of it. Because if you look...there's always a silver lining. You can find him online at: Or, if you're out and about at any of the following places there is a good chance you'll bump into him and can connect: Global Village Coffee Live it Up Hillsborough Blue Ridge Corridor Alliance North Carolina State University Drive Shack Connect Raleigh Networking Group Young Professionals Network Downtown Raleigh Alliance Player's Retreat Raleigh City Greenways Trolley Pub Gonza Tacos Y Tequila Aloft Hotel Krispy Kreme Challenge
June 12, 2021
8. Liz
Liz McLean is a lifelong Raleigh resident and has vowed to NEVER LEAVE. She's a graduate of Meredith College with a passion for her community and the people of North Carolina.  She has over thirteen years of professional experience in public relations, brand awareness and client engagement and has worked with a variety of clients including political candidates, Fortune 500 companies and local non-profits. Her 3 favorite things are Raleigh, Live Music and Giving Back and she's happiest when all 3 collide into a beautiful mix. She recently joined the team at Holt Brothers Incorporated as Executive Director of the Holt Brother Foundation, an organization led by former NFL greats and brothers Terrence and Torry Holt to help kids that have a parent or guardian with cancer. Liz enjoys helping others understand how to apply their talents, grow their personal and professional networks in the city she loves and call home, and is constantly looking for ways to grow and improve her own understanding of her that include high level peripheral vision and knowing when stragers are pregnant, among other very serious gifts.  She’s recently taken up Fly Fishing and can often be found at Dix Park or out and about in downtown Raleigh. Connect with Liz here: IG: IG: - business Some of her favorite people, places and things around Raleigh that you need to drop everything and go experience right now include: Transfer Food Hall for awesome food choices Jolie for fancy date night Rosewater Kitchen also for fancy date night Barcelona again for a fancy date night Cowfish (actually I said this one but it's really good) Vita Vite for pre and post dinner drinks Bloomsbury Bistro the place to be in the 90's but still pretty damn good Hayes Barton Pharmacy amazing desserts...maybe best in town Lincoln Theater for live music Mission 19 is a favorite "local" band Band Together a favorite organization Pour House for live music Kings for live music Walnut Creek Amphitheater for live music Reynold's Coliseum for live music back in the day now mostly some NC State athletics Holt Brothers Foundation to make an impact in the community Torry & Terrance Holt Holt Brothers Construction NC State Football A Place at the Table for coffee Benchwarmers for coffee Tazza for night out with friends Dix Park to do fun shit outside Lake Raleigh for a top secret cool place to paddle board that nobody knows about...until now Umstead Park for hiking The Flourish Market for local shopping Edge of Urge for local shopping Unlikely Professional for local shopping for the dudes So & So Books for a cool bookstore Two Roosters (this was mine too) for amazing ice cream
May 14, 2021
7. Jojo
In an arena football game right before the NFL camp was slated to start and potentially all of his childhood dreams about to come true, he broke up a pass play, tripped over a receiver and slammed into a wall. The impact broke Jojo's neck and left him paralyzed from the waist down. The doctors told him he'd never walk again. In that moment he thought: “My life is over. I’ll never play again. I’ll never be a husband or a father.” But then, like an answer to those dark thoughts, he remembered something a past coach used to shout at him during practice: “Dig!” That word motivated him. So he made it his own and turned it a slogan: “D.I.G.: Determination. Intensity. Guts.” Those words got him through that dark time in his life. There were days he wanted to quit the rehab work because it was just too hard. D.I.G. kept him going, all the way to a full recovery. Nearly 20 years later, he still carries that message to every person who walks in the door at CORE, his downtown Raleigh fitness studio. Every day he calls on his experiences to say: “No matter your goal, you have to have the Determination to start. You need the Intensity to hustle hard. But the key is Guts. You’ve got to have the guts to push through the hardest times." It’s become the CORE value at CORE and he continues to inspire every person he comes in contact with. You can connect with Jojo here: IG: @jojopolkdig FB: @JosephPolk LI: @JosephPolk IG: @CoreRaleigh Twitter: @CoreRaleigh And then go check out some of his favorite places here:  Midtown Olive Oil Lululemon North Hills Barre 3 Mojoe's Burger Joint Happy and Hale Run Raleigh Physical Therapy
May 03, 2021
6. Doug
If you're thinking of calling Raleigh home, today's guest is somebody you should connect with for sure. Doug Stewart is the Author of 5 1/2 MENTORS, he is a TEDx speaker, certified Dale Carnegie Instructor, performance coach, and mentorship thought leader. He is best known for utilizing original and adaptive methods to help people pursue a life of purpose through enthusiastic discovery. Most importantly, Doug is a devoted husband to his best friend, Merideth, and proud father to Kendall and Kendrick. And he knows a thing or two about building community which is why he is on today's episode. In this chat Doug and I sit down for the second time to talk about all things Raleigh. And if there is somebody that LOVES this's this guy. So much so that he's got our area code (919) in everything he does. I feel like this might be one of the best conversations for somebody to listen to that is moving to a new area without much of a support system and without knowing many people. If I were moving someplace new, this would be the first place I would start to get confidence and a plan on how to connect with strangers in a strange place.  After you listen to the episode please connect with Doug here: And now go try out some of his favorite places. Oh, and tell them he sent you and maybe you'll get hooked up. Downtown Raleigh: Raleigh Raw: Raleigh Founded: Warehouse District: Morgan Street Food Hall: 321 Coffee: Raleigh Farmer's Market: Jubala Coffee: Pullen Park: Harris Lake: Jordan Lake: Fuquay Varina: Cary: Holly Springs: Apex: The Provincial: Common Grounds: SAS Institute: Research Triangle Park: Umstead Park:
April 26, 2021
5. Morgan
Morgan is a video production entrepreneur and digital marketing content creator. When she is not producing videos for businesses, she focuses on her blog,, and social media outlets to teach the most effective methods in digital marketing and video. In today's chat in which my dog joins us for the majority of so sorry for the barking, we talk about so many reasons and places that make Raleigh unique and a great place to call home. If you do anything with your day today make sure you connect with Morgan at her links below and then you go check out some of these awesome places we talk about. Business website - Blog - YouTube - TikTok - @mkgmarketing Instagram - @mkgmediaco Linkedin - Now run to these places right now and show them some love: Wendell, NC: Bearded Bee Brewing Company: North Carolina State University: Gary Vaynerchuk: Jordan Lake: Falls Lake: Emerald Isle: Lake Johnson: Global Village Coffee: Lucky Tree: Raleigh Raw: Raleigh Rose Garden: Sola Coffee: Sir Walter Coffee: Sitti: Sosta Cafe: Wye Hill: Dorothea Dix Park: Lynwood Brewing Concern: Benchwarmers Bagels:
April 19, 2021
4. Dr Holly
Did you know that there was a desert in Washington state? Me either. But today's guest did. Dr. Holly Sullenger is somebody you need to connect with. She is one of the nicest, coolest, smartest, most well connected people in Raleigh and she loves to help others. She's a corporate speaker, trainer and consultant that helps others stay relevant in their field by giving the participants new tools and insights. And if there was ever a time to stay's now. She loves helping clients work smarter rather than harder and seeing people have "Lightbulb" and "A-ha!" moments are her true passion. In our conversation we talk about the adventures of parenting, leadership development, moving to a new area and not knowing anybody, why she felt Raleigh was the #1 place in the world to move to and so much more. Here's where you can Connect to her: Dr. Holly Sullenger of Dr. Holly Speaks, PhD, LLC Website: Linked In: Facebook: Twitter: Email: Her Favorite places: For Outdoor Activities: Lake Johnson, Bond Park, Jordan Lake, downtown Raleigh, downtown Durham. Bida Manda: Cafe Luna: Pour House: Red Hat Amphitheater: Regency Park:
April 12, 2021
3. KeeKee
Keekee Lennay is a Health and Confidence Coach. She is originally from Detroit Michigan but currently live in Raleigh NC. After leaving a toxic relationship and overcoming domestic violence she decided to take control over her health and life. She has successfully lost over 80lbs, ran a half marathon, and started implementing small changes to her lifestyle to be more healthy and happy. Her passions includes dance, laughing until her stomach hurts, and good music. She is an advocate for women, especially women of color, and one of her strengths is helping them recognize their worth. She shows women that living a healthy lifestyle can be made simple and on their terms. She coaches girls to tap into their authentic self and love the body they live in. Her desires include making an impact in her community and earning a living while doing it. Good food, Chicago stepping, genuine hugs, and Beyonce are the ways to her heart. In this chat we talk about she opened her first business during a global pandemic and as a black woman business owner how she navigates all that that comes with that every single day and how her business contributes to the downtown Raleigh community. Kee’s favorite places in Raleigh: for healthy food and positive vibes for good food, beer and people for one stop shopping from Black owned businesses  home to over 20 fashion, children, self-care, and lifestyle brands, The Lounge also features workstations and bi-weekly Think Tanks and events. Connect with Kee: @keekeelenay on IG and FB @nourish_Raleigh on IG @nourish on FB @homegurlhangout
March 25, 2021
2. Connecting with Dereck Whittenburg
Whitt is one of the most revered athletes in North Carolina history. He is a former collegiate basketball player who played for North Carolina State University, where he was a member of the 1982-83 team that won the NCAA national championship. As a star guard he helped lead former coach Jim Valvano's squad to a historic 54-52 victory over heavily-favored University of Houston and clinched the title of game MVP.   Dereck was a third-round selection of the Phoenix Suns in the 1983 NBA Draft. He has more than 25 years of college basketball coaching experience and has worked as an analyst for ESPN and as a regional NBA scout for the Utah Jazz. He was an executive producer for "Survive and Advance," a 30 for 30 documentary detailing NC State's 1983 title run. He was also an executive producer for "The Gospel According to Mac," a 30 for 30 documentary about Colorado football coach Bill McCartney. Committed to giving back to his community, Whittenburg serves on the Board of Directors for The V Foundation for cancer research. Whittenburg is the co-founder of the Dereck Whittenburg Foundation, with a mission to extend the hands of financial assistance to deserving college students that find themselves facing the hindrance of finance as the barrier to their completion of college degrees. The mantra of The Foundation is "Dream. Believe. Work. Now Finish!" Whittenburg is currently employed by the athletic department at his alma mater, serving as Associate Athletic Director for Community Relations and Student Support, he currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Jim Valvano foundation for cancer research, and holds the position of Director of Basketball Operations at North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C. You can connect with Dereck at:
March 15, 2021
Connect Raleigh. Episode 1: The Re-launch!
Welcome to episode one of the Connect Raleigh podcast. My simple philosophy is that relationships matter, like really matter. I know super genius right? I actually believe it’s not what you know its who you know. And that’s not an excuse to be lazy or ignorant. And with approximately 70 families a day moving to this area there are a whole lot of relationships just waiting to happen. And a whole lot of people looking to get connected to something bigger than themselves. So I’m here to connect you to the people and places of Raleigh that make this the best place to live in the country! And this is our first episode as we take on this new direction but still bringing you the same great content and the same inspirational stories. In this podcast we will connect you to the people and places of Raleigh and get you connected on a deeper level! Let’s get started!
March 03, 2021
016 Brian Foreman
Great content right here especially on parenting, leadership, and community activism. Brian is also easily accessible and excited to talk with anybody so please reach out to him directly if you’d like to further discuss any of the content here. Please like, comment, and share this episode!
June 04, 2020
Friday Flash w/ Greg Pearlman of Beta Box Labs
Spend a few minutes learning about and from local Raleigh, NC business owners, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and all around good people.   On Episode 4 Greg Pearlman, Chief Success Officer at BetaBox Learning shares his mission to help learners everywhere uncover and hone their technology skills and how his company is shifting to help children while learning from home. Tune in to see how each of us can support his mission and help the kids!
May 15, 2020
015 Angela Kristin Taylor
Angela Kristen Taylor is an Integrative Productivity Expert,  the CEO & Founder of Productive Souls and The Limitless Collaborative,  she's an Author, a Speaker and a mom. Angela helps ambitious entrepreneurs and sales professionals overcome chaos so they can create the life and business they want. She’s a licensed realtor, certified spiritual healer, integrative nutrition health coach, mom to five kids (and two giant dogs), Disney cartoon & super-hero aficionado, and the creator of The Limitless Collaborative, a one-of-a-kind virtual co-working space created for solopreneurs, micro-businesses, and creators to connect, find community, and get things done.
May 12, 2020
Friday Flash w/ Kendra Leonard
Spend a few minutes learning about and from local Raleigh, NC business owners, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and all around good people.   On Episode 3 Kendra Leonard shares her mission to dress the city with us and opens up about how COVID-19 has impacted the Raleigh small business community.
May 08, 2020
014 Nathaniel Brown on going from Brokenness to Fully Integrated
This is a special Build it Better Podcast episode where I got to spend some time with my good friend Nathaniel Brown. Nathaniel is the kind of guy that lights up a room and you just feel GOOD after every interaction with him. In this conversation he goes deep as he shares his story of sexual trauma, anger issues, night terrors and going from brokenness to fully integrated. And now, living his best life, he's able to pour it into others as a husband, father, entrepreneur, coach and mentor.
May 04, 2020
Flash Friday w/ Kristian Castro
Spend a few minutes learning about and from local Raleigh, NC business owners, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and all around good people. On Episode 2 Kristian Castro shares his story, what he loves about Raleigh, NC and how we all can help the hospitality industry. 
May 01, 2020
013 -Cristina Roman on How to Stop Procrastinating
If you're ready to stop procrastinating, this is the episode for you!
April 28, 2020
Friday Flash w/ Patrick Moen
Spend a few minutes learning about and from local Raleigh, NC business owners, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and all around good people.   On Episode 1 Patrick Moen shares his story on life during the CoronaVirus lock down, building a consulting business and hosting a super cool and impactful podcast called 'Just a Recording.'
April 25, 2020
012 Melissa Danehey modern day Superwoman
“Running is about finding your inner peace, and so is a life well lived.” Dean Karnazes I’ve known today’s guest for a number of years. In my past life, before real estate and before network marketing I was in the bar business. I was managing bars. Big, loud, crazy party bars surrounded by booze and bad decisions. And although the time to leave that lifestyle came and I don’t regret it at all, I do miss the relationships that I made then. There are a lot of great people I worked with on a regular basis back then and Melissa was one of them. Melissa Danehey is a native North Carolinian whose love for the California coast drew her there in 2014. She has her Masters in Nutrition  and Currently is the Nutrition and Children’s Program Manager at the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo where she Develops and implements community health education activities and related general health education programs for individuals and groups. In her spare time, Melissa runs trails, lots and lots of trails. LIke lots of trails. Seriously yo. Alot.  She competes in ultra marathons. Her ‘no-quit’ attitude has earned her 18 ultra marathon finishes, including 10 podium finishes and 2 overall wins. She Has placed second in 2 24 hour races and FIRST in the Born to run 100 miler AND the 2019 Angeles Crest 100 mile race.. She’s also an entrepreneur as the founder and owner of Summit Natural Skin Care, a skincare and hygiene solution for the outdoor adventurer. She loves to play piano, and spend time with her daughter and 2 dogs. She is also a foster/resource parent and a Big Sister. She’s a fantastic person with a huge heart and today, she opens that huge heart up about running, relationships, divorce and being a single mom. Tag me @ChuckBelden and #BuildItBetterPodcast in your social posts this week sharing your favorite parts of this episode and if you haven’t already subscribed to the podcast please do. I would love to hear what you think about it by asking you to rate and review the episodes.  I’m excited you’re here for this one…ready...set….go
February 24, 2020
011 Greg Pearlman: When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
Marie Montessori said “The work of education is divided between the teacher and the environment.” It's clear to me that both play an integral role in our development and as I look back over my life I can notice where the environment and my settings contributed as much if not more to my growth. Like now. Literally like right now. Like this podcast environment, its changing me for the better. And today’s guest, Greg Pearlman has totally changed me for the better. Greg believes in the power of the environment and focusing our mindset on the power of learning opportunities, not failures because they are different and how you package them matters. Greg is the Chief Success Officer at a super cool education startup called Betabox and he believes hands-on, experiential learning is the missing ingredient required to prepare students for the complex, uncertain future before us all. He is on a mission to bring technology to more students in an inclusive and accessible way which focuses on the environment in a new and modern way. And he’s also on a mission to continually improve himself and his environment by mindfully navigating his personal connections and relationships. And on this episode, in THIS environment, with me as the ready student, Greg, the teacher, appeared. Make sure you stay til the end to hear the action item I’m challenging you with. It’s a good one.
February 11, 2020
010- Doug Stewart
If you’ve listened to any of my first 9 episodes you’ve likely heard me reference a friend’s birthday party I was invited to attend last summer. This wasn’t your typical birthday party. At least, it wasn’t my typical birthday party. This was a very close friend of mine named Kristian AKA @cash_here our featured guest on episode 2, who I consider a great friend, a mentor, a brother and somebody I really admire. He didn’t want a typical birthday so he invited about 25 guys he considers inspiring and thought leaders to a conversation because he thought it might springboard into some other new relationships. And he was right! I met @freddyvaloy there, our episode 8 guest and I met @dougstewart919 there, today’s guest. Doug literally grew up in business. From a very young age he either spent his days working in the family furniture business or he was shooting jumpers to avoid working in the family furniture business. Half the people in his life told him he wouldn’t amount to much because he had trouble in school and the other half told him the sky was the limit because he could play basketball. That’s a tough spot to be in as a kid.Who’s right? Who’s wrong? I guess the answer is, who do you believe is right? Doug chose to believe the half that told him basketball was the answer so he put most of his efforts there. Basketball got him to college but once there, he struggled. It wasn’t until he met an advisor, somebody that got him to take a real good look at himself and what he was capable of, that things got better for him. And since then, he’s dedicated his life to giving others the same gift as a certified dale carnegie instructor. He’s been a business owner, a podcast host, a TEDx speaker, he’s a loving father and husband, a compassionate friend and the kind of guy you want to get to know and hang out with because he just makes you feel like you can realize your best self. And like Kobe said, He inspires you to be great in whatever you want to do. Doug is about to deliver the goods. I’m excited you’re here with us... Give it a listen and let us know what you think.
January 29, 2020
009- Tina Konidaris on Honesty + Service to Others + Hard Freaking Work = Success
I read a quote by Winston Churchill once that said “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.“ And I can’t stop thinking about how true that is but I’ll take it a little further and say that yes, we make a living by what we get but we could make an even better living by giving more. Giving and serving others doesn’t just affect our life independent of what we do for a living. They are connected. They are the same thing. You can’t separate the two and say I’ll give more in my personal life so I build a life but when it comes to work, I’m going to be selfish AF and think that philosophy will work at all. You’re nuts if you think that way. This conversation is with Tina Konidaris. A few months ago I was introduced to Tina a mortgage lender that some of my colleagues had done business with in the past. In just a matter of a few seconds I instantly knew there was something different about her and something special. So much so that I reached back out after our first encounter and asked her to be a guest on the podcast and I knew there was something magic she could share with all of us. Tina came from a humble upbringing in a small town in North Carolina and moved all the way to division president of Dash home loans, a mortgage lending company in Raleigh North Carolina. The road was bumpy, challenging and filled with hard work and determination. It wasn’t handed to her by any stretch of the imagination. And on today’s podcast she opens up about all of it. You don’t want to miss this episode.
January 22, 2020
008- Embrace The Suck
Things are going to get hard when you’re working to improve your life. There’s no doubt about it. How you react determines everything.
January 13, 2020
007- “Honesty is the most gangster thing you can do today” ~ Freddy Valoy
This conversation is a standup comic’s guide to authenticity vulnerability and honesty. And i’m not sure if there’s a better person to talk to about authenticity and vulnerability and a little mental health, than a standup comedian. A guy who chooses to stand all alone in front of a group of strangers, often hundreds of them, with just a microphone and try to make them laugh. I mean, how much more vulnerable can you get? This conversation is with Freddy Valoy a North Carolina comedian on his take all things relationships, authenticity, honesty, comedy, masculinity and more. Check it out, I promise it won’t disappoint.
January 06, 2020
006- Brett Blair on the importance of living your best life NOW!
What does living your best life look like? Would you have the courage at “mid-life” to completely change gears and chase your dream? Brett did and in this episode you’ll learn how he would personally coach you to do the same.
December 30, 2019
005- A Live Goal Setting Session with Kristie Brose
This is a live recording of a goal setting session I did for a number of real estate agent with the President of Hunter Rowe, Kristie Brose. Although this is specific to real estate agents, I think a lot of this information can translate to other businesses. On this episode we talk about: goal setting, networking, building relationships and more. Give it a listen and please share your feedback.
December 09, 2019
004- Podcast Takeover w/Brook Belden
Are you living your best and most authentic life? Or are you lying to yourself and telling yourself a narrative to soften the blow of hard times Instead of facing the truth? I am. Yikes. We are switching things up a bit in today’s episode and flipping the script. I’m going from host to guest. And today’s host is going to really dive in deeper on a number of uncomfortable issues and questions that all of us should ask ourselves regularly. Join us on this one of a kind episode as Brook Belden pulls back the curtain I’ve been hiding behind.
November 22, 2019
003- Buddy Rathmell: How to design a life of adventure and deep personal connections
Buddy Rathmell‘s business resume is a long one but his life resume is even longer. He has created a life of adventure that revolves around solid core values and service to others. On today’s podcast he’s going to share some of his great adventures and some of his values that have shaped his entire life. He’s going to talk about things like: being intentional when creating deep friendships and relationships, how he hitchhiked across the country at 18 years old after his dad‘s request, how he sailed a friends boat across the New York shipping Harbor, a close encounter with a bear while overnight camping alone at 11 years old, how not to be a victim and to take control of your life, how self awareness is key to growth, how to use “be”, “do” and “have” as your constant course correctors, how to be intentional as a parent with the values you want to instill into your children, and how accountability is the main key to success. He also has a special gift for all of us at
September 23, 2019
002- Kristian Castro: The number one key to success that most people miss
Many of us have a voice inside of us that’s yearning for more. It’s begging for deeper relationships, to create something unique and special and to help others achieve more but too often we fall short of our goals and there is one CRUCIAL first step that many of us miss. On this episode Kristian Castro, the Founder and CEO of 262Hospitality is going to help us unlock our true potential by getting us clear on this first step. For over 10 years Kristian has been coaching and mentoring hospitality industry professionals around the country. And with his background as a professor in higher education at Johns Hopkins University and an MBA to go along with it, his vision of becoming the education source for hospitality training is well within reach and whether you are a hospitality professional or otherwise, he has some knowledge to drop on us all. He’s been published in the Journal of Product and Brand Management for his work in relationship marketing. He has led multiple workshops in business, time management, marketing and branding. And the common thread through all of it is his love of people which is evident in his personal mission to make a positive impact and provide value for each person he comes in contact with.
September 16, 2019
The Beginning
Welcome to the Build it Better Podcast. In this episode learn why this podcast matters, why me and why now.
September 08, 2019
Eric Dudley: What it takes to Build a LEGACY
Take a deep dive into what it means to be a man, a mentor and create authentic and safe places for men to connect on a deeper level with mentor, coach and sales professional Eric Dudley. We talk about Eric’s three keys to success, building and leaving a legacy and how to overcome shame. And much, much more including some mind expanding personal development quotes you don’t want to miss so grab something to take some notes and lets get after it.
July 30, 2019