Poverty Warrior: John Bouman

John Bouman, President of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, welcomes Michael to Shriver Headquarters. A courageous advocate who’s dedicated his career to the cause, John talks about real results achieved through the “War on Poverty,” the connection between race and America’s poor, and how anyone can get involved in helping the less fortunate Americans among us.

The Spokesman: Bill Burton

My old friend Bill Burton joins me on the Mean to talk politics and Election 2016. The former White House Press Secretary for President Obama describes what the day-to-day job is really like in the West Wing, the “stupidity” and corruption spawned by the money flood in our elecitons system, and his thoughts on the impact that Donald Trump’s campaign has wrought on our country. A veteran talks the talk!

USA Today Columnist: Melinda Henneberger

Does Donald Trump actually want to win? Did his performance in the second debate matter as much as we think? Does Hillary Clinton get a bad rap? Will a third party grow out of the the 2016 presidential race? Veteran political journalist and USA Today columnist Melinda Henneberger joins the Mean to break it all down.

New York Congressman: Steve Israel

U.S. Representative Steve Israel (D) has served the people of New York’s 3rd District for 16 years. Author of the acclaimed new book, “The Global War on Morris,” Israel is retiring from Congress in 2017. In this episode of The Golden Mean, Congressman Israel talks about a wide range of issues, including: reforming the money flood in Congress, ending the rigging of districts through gerrymandering reform, national security, cyber-warfare, and his burgeoning new career as a writer.

The Chairwoman: Christie Hefner

A woman of many interests and talents, Christie Hefner is always finding news way of achieving her goals while making a difference. In the business world, Christie has served as the Chairman of Playboy Enterprises, Canyon Ranch Enterprises and Hatch Beauty. In this episode of The Golden Mean, Christie talks about her 13-year journey to becoming CEO of Playboy – and how the election of President Obama changed the course of her career. Christie also talks about criminal justice reform, politics in our court system and the current state of the “Independent Maps” project geared toward reforming Illinois’s rigged districting process.

The Wordsmith: Frank Bruni

In this episode of the “Mean,” New York Times columnist Frank Bruni joins me to talk about the underrated value of public universities and community colleges. Author of the book, Where You Go Is Not Who’ll You Be, Frank breaks down for students and parents what he labels “college acceptance mania” in America. I also ask my favorite opinion writer about his perspectives on the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, the 2016 presidential election and the actual art of writing. Plus, the former NYT food critic offers one of his top restaurant recommendations!

The Guru: David Axelrod

In this episode of The Golden Mean, legendary strategist David Axelrod talks with me about his path to the White House, the parallels between the Chicago Cubs’ incredible season and a well-run campaign, as well as a look back to his years as a journalist covering City Hall and the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. Take a ride with “The Axe” and I!

Civic Innovator: Microsoft’s Chicago Chief Adam Hecktman

There is a huge movement afoot which is empowering everyday Americans to make decisions about the way our government performs – and not just on Election Day! Adam Hecktman, Director of Technology and Civic Innovation at Microsoft Chicago, talks about how anyone can use civic tech to influence our democracy. We talk about how the use of data can improve transparency, accountability and efficiency (how the government spends YOUR MONEY). Join us at Microsoft headquarters in Chicago for a common sense conversation about civic tech!

The Ringmaster: Mark McKinnon

Mark McKinnon first dreamed up the idea of a behind-the-scenes documentary series about the grueling nature of a presidential campaign back in 2002. Fourteen years later, it’s a smash hit on Showtime! In this episode of The Golden Mean, Mark joins me to talk about the show, this crazy political season, the state of the Republican Party – and the hidden meaning behind his ubiquitous Open Road Stetson!

Hometown Hero: Jarrett Adams

“I went from fighting for my innocence, to fighting for the innocent now.” Jarrett Adams, exoneree and attorney at The National Innocence Project, joins me during his visit back home to Chicago. In our very first episode, I’ll talk a bit about how the whole podcast came together, and then we’ll hear Jarrett’s amazing story of fortitude, survival, justice and success!

“I’ve always been curious about and attracted to innovative ideas and the people who turn them into realities. That intrigue was the genesis of ‘The Golden Mean.’ I hope you'll tune in here for fascinating one-on-one interviews with a diverse spectrum of captivating personalities and interesting thinkers. Please give us a listen!”