Monthly Archives

February 2024

Sean A Mirski

By Author, Politics No Comments

This week on the Here’s What We Know Podcast, our host Gary Scott Thomas had a fascinating conversation with Sean A Mirski, a lawyer, historian, U.S. foreign policy scholar, and author of the monumental book “We May Dominate the World: Ambition, Anxiety, and the Rise of the American Colossus.” Sean shares how he spent eight years crafting his book while juggling a demanding law career. His book unpacks nearly 100 years of complex policy across the entire Western Hemisphere with gripping storytelling as we deeply dive into the pivotal moments that shaped our nation’s destiny.

So if you’re up for a historical exploration filled with drama, strategy, and lessons for our times, tune in now and be ready to geek out!

This episode is sponsored by:

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In this Episode:

  • Explore how Sean’s time at the University of Chicago shaped him and touch upon his role as a visiting scholar.
  • Sean shares insights into his writing process and rigorous research involving primary sources, from dusty archives to Library of Congress documents.
  • The discussion delves deep into understanding history through human stories rather than dry facts.
  • Sean reflects on the importance of presenting balanced perspectives that respect historical complexities instead of one-sided narratives.
  • Sean emphasizes meticulous documentation and how easy it is to distort history without proper context or verification.
  • Impactful historical events involve political figures like President Abraham Lincoln, General Ulysses S. Grant, Secretary William H. Seward, President Theodore Roosevelt, Republican politician James G. Blaine, Major General Smedley Butler, and President James Monroe.


“There is kind of a rhythm to the story that helped me sort of keep it all in my head.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“There’s a secret thrill that I feel when I’m in the archives that I’m reading through these documents and sort of just the feeling of having one of these, you know, memoranda or messages in your hand and knowing sort of the historical weight that ended up, being attributed to it and the kind of consequences that it had. There’s just something fun about that for me that I really, I can’t, I guess, fully explain.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“There are a mix of both where there’s really kind of, I think, shades of gray and a lot of complexity because that’s just how we are as human beings, we’re messy.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“Human beings being the mortal creatures that we are, it just didn’t always pan out that way. There were always sort of indirect consequences. There were always things that sort of ended up backfiring or having perversions, you know, incentives that led to bad things happening.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“I think for every generation, it’s worth sort of revisiting the stories of the past because there’s always going to be things that you sort of discover and new insights you glean by virtue of the fact that you’re kind of looking at this history through a new lens that, you know, previous generations didn’t, didn’t have because they were just stuck in a different moment in time.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“It obviously leads to sort of sense of humility, I think, among historians to know that. There are always going to be other ways of telling the story.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“But one of the sort of lessons I at least took away from writing this book is that you’re never going to have a definitive answer to history, because even once you have all the documents in front of you, and even when you tell a story that’s entirely consistent with them, uh, there’s always going to be different ways of telling that story.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“And so I offer my book not in the spirit of this is right and no one can challenge it, but as this is one way to look at it that I hope is consistent with the historical materials, but there are other ways of looking at the same events and sort of coming to, you know, slightly different conclusions.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“One lesson I learned in sort of writing this and it certainly sort of affected the way I now read other history books is sort of never being a definitive yes or no, but always being more of a sort of here’s one version of the story that we can tell.” ~ Sean A Mirski

“That’s the main reason I wrote the book to sort of look at the example of the United States and say, well, Are there any lessons we can draw, right?” ~ Sean A Mirski


Sean A. Mirski is a lawyer, historian, and U.S. foreign policy scholar who has worked on national security issues across multiple U.S. presidential administrations. A term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he currently practices national security, foreign relations, and appellate law at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, and is also a Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He previously served in the U.S. Department of Defense under both Republican and Democratic administrations as Special Counsel to the General Counsel, where he earned the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Award for Outstanding Achievement. He has written extensively on American history, international relations, law, and politics, including as author of We May Dominate the World: Ambition, Anxiety, and the Rise of the American Colossus (Public Affairs 2023), and as editor of the book Crux of Asia: China, India, and the Emerging Global Order (CEIP 2013). Earlier in his career, he clerked for Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. on the U.S. Supreme Court and then-Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and served as a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Named one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30,” he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Chicago.

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“We May Dominate The World: Ambition, Anxiety, and the Rise of the American Colossus” Book Link: Amazon

Chase Harmer

By Community, Personal Growth No Comments

This week on the Here’s What We Know Podcast, we delve into the entrepreneurial journey of the CEO and founder of PayCertify, Chase Harmer, from his early days in payment processing to his latest venture, Wishes. As a seasoned entrepreneur and innovator in fintech, Chase shares insights on embracing failure, the power of persistence, and his vision for transforming charitable giving.

This episode provides an enlightening perspective on taking risks, overcoming adversity, and leveraging one’s experiences toward making the world a better place through technological advancements within philanthropy. Tune in now!

This episode is sponsored by:

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In this Episode:

  • Listen in to Chase’s background story from growing up in the Los Gatos area, hustling from a young age, and starting business ventures at 19 years old.
  • Discover how he started in credit card sales during its nascent stage in 1998, then quickly moved on to start his own business after learning about profit margins.
  • Hear his lessons learned through failures, including an initial failed partnership due to a lack of experience and understanding of marketing needs.
  • Be inspired by how he turned an initial investment into a $40 million/year business before moving into building technology for merchant services without a prior tech background.
  • Discussion on how success has changed him personally: facing challenges that almost led him to lose everything but choosing redemption over despair.
  • Chase shares wisdom on valuing human capability beyond monetary wealth—what you can do without money often defines your true worth.
  • Discover how Wishes was born out of Chase’s desire for meaningful impact rather than personal wealth accumulation. 
  • Explore the topics and his insights on his blog about astrophysics.


“I burned through a lot of that capital, uh, learning how to do things wrong. you know, I was able to escape out of there 11 years later, but pioneering some new and novel concepts inside of the payments business.” ~ Chase Harmer

“You know, in my mind, I never thought, I never thought, you know, I never thought failure was an option.” ~ Chase Harmer

“I’m an optimist by nature. I think most entrepreneurs pursue something that’s crazy to most people, we all believe that we can do it.” ~ Chase Harmer

“I think being a founder and just being connected to the outcome was more meaningful for me to create a product that mattered, that actually was real, than, you know, making a fortune or trying to make money. It was all about making something that mattered, you know, and that people want it.” ~ Chase Harmer

“You either get killed by those failures or you choose to just keep on going and I don’t see keep on going as a choice. I just feel like it’s like an obligation. Like you’re the only person that can say it’s over. There’s, it’s not over until you say it’s over.” ~ Chase Harmer

“If there’s an ounce of daylight to grasp on to, I grasp on to that daylight and I try to make the sunshine.” ~ Chase Harmer

“When the world turns and you are on the verge of losing things or you know you can’t make payroll or all these different things, you know, you really feel, you really see like who’s with you and who’s not with you in a lot of times. It just feels like you’re by yourself. You’re on an island, you know, and nobody really understands what you’re going through. So I think a lot of times when you have that spiritual connection, it allows you to at least know that there’s someone else or something else with you, um, to help you along that journey.” ~ Chase Harmer

“I think that’s really why I built this: to really make the world a better place and to help as many people as possible.” ~ Chase Harmer

“I think the American, like, we’re all like pioneers at heart. Like, we all want to blaze our own trail, I think. And, you know, some people, um, have the balls to do it. And, you know, other people are part of the overall strategy.” ~ Chase Harmer

“God made us is like, we’re not all supposed to be, they’re supposed to be crazy idiots that follow dreams that maybe are possible, but are not afraid to do it. And that those dreams may turn out to be real and or maybe they don’t. But you know, I think. It’s only in trying that we really find out who we’re made of and what we’re supposed to be doing in this world and what our purpose is about.” ~ Chase Harmer

“Your journey is going to be different than everyone else’s.” ~ Chase Harmer


As the Chief Executive Officer, Chase Harmer is the visionary for PayCertify, a worldwide payments company that works with businesses in the e-commerce, healthcare, and travel verticals, processing billions of dollars in transactions annually. Having started in banking at the age of 19, Chase has built portfolios processing billions globally and created several patents through his two decades of experience.

Chase has spent 26+ years as a payments entrepreneur and was one of the pioneers of virtual credit card technology. After building several companies and creating 7 patents since 2013, Chase leverages his past successes to give back to the community and help other entrepreneurs build businesses as a Lecturer and Mentor at the Founders Institute.

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Heath Wright

By Music No Comments

This week on the Here’s What We Know Podcast, we sit down with the lead vocals, lead guitar, and fiddle of the renowned ’90s country band, Ricochet. Tall, good-looking, and incredibly talented Heath Wright shares his epic journey from delivering donuts to insurance agencies with our very own host, Gary Scott Thomas, to becoming a cattle rancher in Oklahoma. He reminisces about the bizarre things bands did back in their early days and gives us an inside look into life on a ranch, new music releases, and his reflections on being part of a band. Join us in this amazing episode filled with laughter and more! Tune in now!

This episode is sponsored by:

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In this Episode:

  • The early days: Reminiscing about when Ricochet delivered donuts to an insurance agency, showcasing the unique promotional stunts bands undertook while climbing their way to fame.
  • A day in the life of a rancher: Heath candidly shares his current routine of tending to sick animals on his cattle ranch, highlighting how far removed it is from the typical musician’s lifestyle.
  • Nostalgia hits hard: They reflect on ’90s country music trends and discuss why some bands endure while others fade away.
  • The evolution of performance: Heath talks about singing their hit song “Daddy’s Money” 30 years later and jokes about wishing he’d recorded it in a lower key due to changing vocal ranges over time.
  • Behind-the-scenes look at recording: Insights into re-recording classic hits for today’s audience using modern technology are shared, preserving originality while enhancing sound quality.
  • Album release excitement: There’s a buzz around Ricochet’s new album, featuring both rerecorded classics and fresh tracks that blend past glory with present vibrancy.
  • Thought-provoking discussions reveal what goes into maintaining longevity in music, including making tough business decisions similar to those made by other successful groups like Sawyer Brown and KISS.

I’ll Still Be Loving You by Restless Heart (Live Performance with Heath Wright)


“I got to thinking to myself, well, If I’m lucky, I might get 10 years out of this, out of this career. But here I am 30 years later, still, still singing Daddy’s Money in the original key.” ~ Heath Wright

“If I had it to do over again, I don’t know that I would be in a band, or if I were, I would probably do it more like Mark Miller did it.” ~ Heath Wright

“I’m one of those guys who loves country music. I’ve been a country music fan long before I was a country music artist.” ~ Heath Wright

“When I go see a band, and I still do, I still go to concerts, I still love to listen to music and go out and listen to live performances and stuff, and, uh, when I do that, I like to sing along with the songs.” ~ Heath Wright

 “I loved it. It is refreshing that you’re so knowledgeable and that you’ve actually done your homework on Ricochet.” ~ Heath Wright

“I refer to myself as the spare tire of Restless Hearts. So they called me the sixth member. I’m basically the spare tire.” ~ Heath Wright

“My band is made up of professionals. I’ve handpicked the very best musicians out of Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas.” ~ Heath Wright

“I need people to understand that, you know, even though these aren’t the original guys anymore, these are the best guys in the business.” ~ Heath Wright


Heath Wright is the lead vocal, lead guitar, and fiddle of the country music band Ricochet. He is a proud native of Vian, Oklahoma, and has always stayed true to his roots, even during his 15-year stint in Nashville, TN. Heath’s journey began on the Rockin’ W Ranch, where he serenaded a captive audience of Hereford cows and honed his musical talents. Despite early shyness, Heath’s passion for music blossomed, leading him to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management at Northeastern State University before delving into a unique Country Music degree program at South Plains College.

Upon graduation, Heath embarked on the most significant journey of his life – the move to Nashville. There, he co-founded Ricochet, a band that skyrocketed to success with chart-topping hits and prestigious awards, including the New Vocal Group of the Year from the Academy of Country Music and several other CMA and ACM nominations. Top 10 hits (and even a multi-week #1) on the Billboard charts were no stranger to Heath and his band, Ricochet. During their highest point, Heath and Ricochet made numerous television appearances on Country Music Awards shows (as performers, presenters, and nominees), the Grand Ole Opry, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In 2011, Heath received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sing lead vocals for Restless Heart, a band he admired since childhood. Despite his bustling career, Heath’s proudest achievement remains his son, Dustin Heath, and the cherished moments they share on the family ranch.

Today, while Heath continues to perform with Ricochet and Restless Heart, he also fronts his band, “Heath Wright & the Hangmen,” showcasing classic-style country music across Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas.

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Kathy Reichs

By Author, Film, Sci-Fi, Science, True Crime, TV No Comments

This week on the Here’s What We Know Podcast, our special guest is the renowned Kathy Reichs, a forensic anthropologist turned bestselling author of Temperance Brennan novels. With a career that’s as remarkable as her literary acclaim creations, Kathy shares insights from her life journey. She went from being a curious child fascinated by science to becoming one of only 100 forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology.

Whether handling crime scenes or weaving humor into dark narratives, Kathy offers listeners an intimate portrait of a life rich with stories. So, stay tuned for a captivating conversation that traverses death investigations, literature’s imaginative realms, and everything that ties them together through the eyes of a master storyteller.

This episode is sponsored by:

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(Use code “Gary” to get $89 off any service!)

In this Episode:

  • The early signs of drive and curiosity in young Kathy.
  • The rigorous path to becoming a board-certified forensic anthropologist.
  • Transitioning from academic writing to crafting thrilling novels based on real-life experiences.
  • Insights into Temperance Brennan’s character evolution—from books to the hit TV show “Bones.”
  • Behind-the-scenes look at scriptwriting for “Bones” and how it differs from novel writing.
  • The importance of setting in storytelling and why Kathy never writes about places she hasn’t visited.
  • How personal preferences sometimes make their way into characters’ quirks.
  • Hear about Kathy’s latest novel, “The Bone Hacker.”
  • Kathy also touches upon family influences, with two out of three children following in her footsteps in writing.


“I do put in detail. I never put in anything just for grisly sensationalism. It has to inform the reader and move the story forward.” ~ Kathy Reichs 

“I don’t shy away from because I think my readers want to know what it’s like at a crime scene or what it’s like in an autopsy room. So I do give them detail.” ~ Kathy Reichs 

“You have to maintain your objectivity, your scientific distance, without getting emotionally involved with each victim, because you wouldn’t be of any good to them. But you have to still keep in mind that it’s a human being, treat that set of remains respectfully and hopefully get a name for that dead person, figure out what happened to them, and get them back to their family.” ~ Kathy Reichs 

“Bones is, we were all on the same page. I had other offers and they just weren’t right. But one of the things we agreed on was that we wanted humor in the show. I put humor in the books.” ~ Kathy Reichs 

“We had brilliant writers. You know, I’m not one of these authors who’s going to say they took my work and destroyed it. I had a wonderful experience. Everybody from the on-camera talent to the producers, to the crew, to the writers, everybody just was delightful. And we didn’t have a lot of drama. We didn’t have a lot of tension on the set like some shows do. And I think that’s partly why we lasted as long as we did.” ~ Kathy Reichs 

“That’s the definition of a thriller: that your protagonist or those close to your protagonist have to come under threat. One of the components of a thriller versus just a mystery.” ~ Kathy Reichs 

“Setting is a really strong component of my books. It’s almost like another character in my books. So I’ll never write about a place I haven’t been.” ~ Kathy Reichs 

“I think you have to go to a place to absorb. You could Google Earth it, but you’re not going to get the smells and the sounds and, you know, the tastes, the flavor of the food, and yeah.” ~ Kathy Reichs 

“I started out in academics and then I started doing forensic anthropology casework and then based on that, I wrote commercial fiction and then went into the world of TV production. So I kept taking side paths.” ~ Kathy Reichs 

“I’ll never run out of ideas. I’ve worked on so many cases when I was still actively doing forensic work. But also I’ve constantly got my antenna out for things, for whatever I’m reading, talking to colleagues, reading forensic journals, attending forensic meetings, and listening to presentations. I’m always on the lookout for ideas, story ideas.” ~ Kathy Reichs 

“If I can get through one or two pages in a day, that’s a really good day.”

“French is hard. It’s really hard. Spanish is easy. If it’s written, you pronounce it. French, they’re all these letters in the words. They have no purpose. You don’t pronounce them.” ~ Kathy Reich

“I try to make things up. I try not to use cliches ever. There may be a few that sneak in, but I do try to not use cliches.” ~ Kathy Reichs

Guest’s Bio:

Kathy Reichs’s first novel, Déjà Dead, catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Her other Temperance Brennan books include Death du Jour, Deadly Decisions, Fatal Voyage, Grave Secrets, Bare Bones, Monday Mourning, Cross Bones, Break No Bones, Bones to Ashes, Devil Bones, 206 Bones, Spider Bones, Flash and Bones, Bones Are Forever, Bones of the Lost, Bones Never Lie, Speaking in Bones, and the Temperance Brennan short story collection, The Bone Collection. In addition, Kathy co-authored the Virals young adult series with her son, Brendan Reichs. The best-selling titles are Virals, Seizure, Code, Exposure, Terminal, and the novella collection Trace Evidence. The series follows the adventures of Temperance Brennan’s great-niece, Tory Brennan.  Dr. Reichs’ latest novel, Two Nights, was released on July 11 and features Sunday Night, a tough-talking, scarred heroine.  Dr. Reichs was also a producer of the hit Fox TV series Bones, which is based on her work and her novels.

From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as a forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerizing forensic thrillers. For years, she consulted with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina and with the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec. Dr. Reichs has traveled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide and helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala. As part of her work at JPAC (Formerly CILHI), she aided in the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Reichs also assisted in the recovery of remains at the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Dr. Reichs is one of only 100 forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and is currently a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. She is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Dr. Reichs is a native of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. at Northwestern. She now divides her time between Charlotte, NC, and Montreal, Québec.

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