Episode 27: Grit and Passion: Speaking with Pioneer, Tish Scolnik

about the episode

Tish Scolnik is the CEO and co-founder of GRIT, a social enterprise that created the Freedom Chair, which is the mountain bike of wheelchairs. GRIT believes that everybody deserves access to the outdoors and adventure, regardless of their physical ability.

Tish graduated from MIT in 2010 with an SB in Mechanical Engineering and a Minor in Applied International Studies. She met her co-founders at MIT, and they came together around their shared passion to use their skills to make a difference. Many iterations later, they are still working hard to customize chairs and improve each new version for their many users—all with unique needs.

Jeff and Erik spoke with our guest, Tish Scolnik, a longtime friend and supporter of No Barriers, about her journey to cofounding and running her own company.

Her Freedom Chair has been used by many folks at our No Barriers events to navigate tough terrain; it enables wheelchair users climb mountains that would be otherwise completely inaccessible.

Tish is a 2009 Truman School for public service and a 2009 Glamour Top 10 College Women.

Learn more about GRIT here.

Episode Transcript

Tish Scolnik: This pioneering work is really rewarding, but it's also really hard, and there are a lot of times we could have said, "That's it. We give up. It's not worth it anymore." But we believed in our idea so much that we couldn't. You know, it was like we won't stop until we've taken every shot we could possibly think of. And I think if you're not that passionate, if you're not driven by your idea to keep pursuing, if you don't have that grit, then it's hard.

Erik W.: It's easy to talk about the successes, but what doesn't get talked about enough is the struggle. My name is Erik Weihenmayer. I've gotten the chance to ascend Mount Everest, climb the tallest mountain in every continent, to kayak the Grand Canyon, and I happen to be blind. It's been a struggle to live what I call a no barriers life, to define it, to push the parameters of what it means. And part of the equation is diving into the learning process and trying to illuminate the universal elements that exist along the way. And that unexplored terrain between those dark places we find ourselves in and the summit, exists a map. That map, that way forward, is what we call No Barriers.

Speaker 3: Today we're excited to be joined by

Tish Scolnik:, an MIT grad who is the CEO and co-founder of Grit, a social enterprise that created the Freedom Chair, which is the mountain bike of wheelchairs. Grit believes that everybody deserves access to the outdoors and adventure, regardless of their physical ability.

Erik W.: Yeah, Tish. Well. First of all, thank you for joining the No Barriers Podcast, and people will learn why, but I just want to say thank you for being a part of our community. And No Barriers is really nothing without the pioneers, without the people that are on the ground doing big things, making changes, making progress in the world. So, it's so personally gratifying for me to be a part of your story, and to connect with you and have you part of our No Barriers community. And so, just thanks for being our partner and thanks for going along on the ride of this No Barriers journey with us.

Tish Scolnik: Absolutely. Thanks for having me today on the podcast and at events past, present and future.

Erik W.: Yeah. And you've been to a bunch of our events, what we call our Summits, and you've been a big part of that. And you are the leader, the founder of Grit, which make these really cool wheelchairs that we want to talk about, obviously. They're incredible. You know, I've actually gotten on one and cranked up North Table Mountain behind my house with Mike.

Tish Scolnik: Amazing.

Erik W.: Yeah. So tell us about the engineering behind these wheelchairs, because I found it fascinating how different they are. You know, using levers, like when you crank down, you go to a high gear, when you lift up, you go to a lower gear. I mean, there's so much innovation that goes into these things. They're really revolutionary.

Tish Scolnik: Yeah. So you know, the idea for the Freedom Chair actually started as a class project at MIT when I was studying mechanical engineering, and worked with the instructor and a couple of classmates. And really what we zeroed in on was traditional wheelchairs are just really inefficient. They use small muscle groups in a kind of inefficient motion. And so we went back to basics, looked at the biomechanics to really figure out what's the best way to harness the power of the upper body. Actually, looked at some really cool data that the air force had put together, back when flight controls were all manual, that looked at how can you get the most power out of the upper body.

Tish Scolnik: And so we zeroed in on this lever idea. We're not the only people or the first people to ever think about putting levers on a wheelchair. But I think what we did differently is instead of just sitting in a lab or in an office and making our own sketches, we actually went out and we interviewed hundreds of wheelchair riders. We interviewed therapist, we interviewed technicians, to understand what people really wanted and needed out of a product, and to really understand how existing products failed to meet the specific needs.

Tish Scolnik: And so we came up with this idea for a lever drive train. So the levers connect to the wheels through a chain drive that's built from standard bicycle parts, and you push the levers forward and that actually propels the wheels. And the cool thing about levers is it's just a simple physics trick. They amplify your force. So the higher up on the levers you grab when you're pushing, the easier it is to propel. So you can move quickly on pavement. But then you can slide your hands up the levers and get the torque you need to get through mud or sand, or over an obstacle in your way.

Erik W.: Well first of all, most people don't take a an MIT class on like developing wheelchairs for developing countries. That's amazing. Were you just interested in that class? I mean, how did you stumble into that class?

Tish Scolnik: Yeah, so I had always been interested in medicine. I had volunteered as an EMT when I was in high school with my hometown ambulance corps, and was kind of thinking about premed, and didn't really know much about what engineers could actually do. And I literally stumbled into this class on wheelchair design, kind of thinking that it would further my interest in kind of the medical space, but then also give me a chance to really understand mechanical engineering. And it was through that program that I realized that engineers can actually use their skills to create products that make a big difference in people's lives.

Erik W.: Was the goal of the class for every student to come up with some kind of new design or something?

Tish Scolnik: So the initial class that I took actually focused on wheelchairs that are used in developing countries, and we were in teams of four or five paired up with small NGOs. The one I worked with was based in Tanzania, and working on solutions to problems that they identified, that they had specifically asked us to work on.

Jeff: So when you were doing the R and D for this whole project, were you just using field assessments from people abroad or were you guys running up and down the steps at MIT? Trying to throw some sand and some dirt in your way just to see how these machines function.

Tish Scolnik: Yeah, absolutely. Both. So we were spending time overseas in between semesters, and then we were running up and down the quad and trying to find stairs and ramps and grass and mud whenever it rained.

Jeff: Were you documenting this? Because there's got to be some archival footage of you guys like falling down steps and trying to figure out how to really optimize the power of this machine. Were documenting the whole thing?

Tish Scolnik: We did. I mean, I don't think when we first started we knew where we would end up, and so we probably missed some good opportunities to document some early activity. But yeah, we've got footage of us running around all the quads around MIT.

Jeff: So then when did it morph from being a assignment to a global outreach opportunity for you? In your mind, was there a a-ha moment? Or was it just sort of a gradual process even after you graduated from MIT?

Tish Scolnik: Yeah. So I think the transition from kind of classroom to real world is fascinating, because we didn't set out to start a company. We set out to use our engineering skills to design a better product. And so we actually kind of got to a point where people were asking to purchase it. And so I spent some time trying to figure out what the best way to make that happen was. Should we license the technology to another company? Should we try to collaborate with somebody who already works in this space? Or, option three, should we start our own company? And ultimately that's where we ended up.

Jeff: You picked the hardest one.

Erik W.: Option three is the path of most resistance, right?

Tish Scolnik: It certainly is. Yeah.

Erik W.: So how do you choose that path of most resistance? You know what I mean? When there could have been easier options.

Tish Scolnik: I think when it came down to it, we all believed in the product so much, and so wanted to see it out in the world and see what people would do with it, and at the end of the day believed we were the best people to make that happen.

Erik W.: Yeah. So you got to own it.

Tish Scolnik: Yeah.

Erik W.: Yeah. Now you went to Africa like after that class, right? And you learned some stuff over there. You went to Tanzania I think, and learned a whole bunch of stuff about like disability and... Yeah. Tell us about that, because I find that fascinating.

Tish Scolnik: Yeah. So, with funding from MIT and a couple of other organizations, myself and my other co-founders all had opportunities to travel abroad. Personally, I spent some time in Tanzania, and Haiti, and India, getting to work with small wheelchair manufacturers, NGOs that supported people with disabilities, and really get to understand what it's like to have to get around in a small rural village if you need to use a wheelchair.

Erik W.: Right, but it affects how the people interact in society and what their potential is, right? If they can't get to school up this muddy dirt road, then you're stuck in the house. Right? And you have no potential. It's lost.

Tish Scolnik: Yep. Yeah. And just to get to work or school, once you're there, you could do your job. You could learn in the classroom. But if you can't physically get there, then none of that matters.

Erik W.: And also, you don't have the power with a traditional wheelchair, right? Like your arms... Like I have a lot of friends who are paras, and they're cranking in this circular motion. And all of them have like tendinitis in their shoulders, and they're bone on bone in their shoulders because of these repetitive motion problems.

Tish Scolnik: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Erik W.: Right? So, the Freedom Chair kind of addresses those problems too, right?

Tish Scolnik: It does. Yep. Yeah. So, because you're kind of always moving your hands up and down the levers, you're always doing a slightly different motion. And then you're also just generally using bigger muscles when you're propelling yourself.

Erik W.: So it's more sustainable for folks.

Tish Scolnik: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Jeff: So for people to visualize this, and Erik and I have both worked with the Freedom Chair before, and we'll tell you that story in just a minute, but if you imagine this chair, it's really oversized a mountain bike tires. Knobby mountain bike tires with big handles that come up on both sides. How high are those handles on each side, Tish?

Tish Scolnik: I mean, they're below your eye level.

Jeff: They are, okay. All right. Well so, just to visualize that, I mean this thing is like the Terminator of all wheelchairs, right? It's a big bad machine.

Jeff: So give us a sense of your main demographic.

Tish Scolnik: So early on we had the opportunity to do some really incredible research overseas, but ultimately we found the best fit for our product here in the United States. And our riders couldn't be more diverse if I dreamed it. From the ages of 5 to 94, doing everything from picnicking in the park, to hiking mountains, to conquering Spartan races. But I think kind of generally, the one thing that really resonates amongst our core audiences, they love being outside and they want to be outside as much as they can under their own power. That kind of feeling of independence, and exercise, and that unbeatable feeling of just being out in nature.

Erik W.: Awesome. Yeah. We have a nature story with the Freedom Chair with our friend Nerissa Cannon, who used it to crank her way to the top of Bierstadt, which is a 14,000 foot peak in Colorado.

Tish Scolnik: Incredible.

Erik W.: She came to our event-

Jeff: Did you hear about that, Tish?

Tish Scolnik: Oh, of course. Yeah.

Erik W.: Yeah she knows. Yeah, she came to our Summit. She was pretty depressed, and I guess she had been diagnosed with this neurological disease, and nobody could explain anything. So she's in a chair, and she's dreamed about climbing a fourteener. So we organize some people, 40 people I think showed up.

Tish Scolnik: That's amazing.

Erik W.: Most of them had never met her before, and just a little pushing and pulling and spotting. But she did most of the work. She was cranking.

Erik W.: And Jeff, I have to applaud you, Jeff, because at 50 years old you carried her a little bit of the way-

Jeff: I was 49 at the time.

Erik W.: ...And that was pretty impressive for a 50 year old a spinal cord.

Jeff: Yeah, I still had not reached 50 at that point. But, I tell you, since then, and now I know Nerissa, I've seen her a bunch of times, that girl has taken off man. She is like a sparrow that is now flying. She is climbing, she's lead climbing. And I am convinced, Erik, that that day was the catalyst for her change. Like so many other No Barriers events that have taken place, she realized potential. And a lot of that is on you, Tish, for creating this adaptable machine that is just simply a conduit for freedom.

Erik W.: It's a tool. It's an amazing tool. And at the Summit it did really kind of open her up, because I remember we were both crying when we were up there and she said something to the effect of, "This is what I want out of my life. I mean, I know I won't maybe be perfect ever, but I want to connect with great people and I want to connect with beautiful things in the world, and this is it right here." And I was like, "Whoa, that's so deep."

Erik W.: And the chair was what got her there, was what facilitated the whole thing, which is a big part of No Barriers, you know, this idea of being a pioneer, of trying iterate in your life. Talk to everyone about that iterative process, because it's not all roses. It's really frustrating. Like I heard this story, and I don't know if it's exactly accurate, but you guys make this incredible product, and then you find out it's too wide to fit through doors. It's like, "Ah!" You know? That's the iterative process, just like one headache after the next, right?

Tish Scolnik: Yeah. I mean, so we believe in a stakeholder driven design process. So it's been really important to us that we work really closely with people who would actually be using the product from day one. And every single time we built a prototype we learned something new. Early on, some of them were sort of like a "duh."

Tish Scolnik: I remember one of our very first prototypes, we thought we want it to be really low to the ground so you have a really low center of gravity. But that meant the seat was so low compared to the height of the wheels, that it was really difficult to transfer into if you had a spinal cord injury. So it did work really well, if you could sort of hop over and get in. But we had really overlooked that key piece. And so you know, we fiddled around, come up with a new prototype. It's probably 20 or 25 versions of it along the way.

Tish Scolnik: And then another thing that's really interesting about our design process, is because people were constantly testing it and giving us feedback, what people wanted to do with it kept expanding. So people said, "Oh, we want to go to the beach." And we said, "Well there are chairs for going to the beach." And they said, "I don't want to have a chair that I only use for the beach, because I like go to the beach like once or twice a year. I want something that's more versatile, that I can use for all sorts of different activities." So, you know, coming up with modifications or adaptations for those use cases.

Tish Scolnik: And then kind of similarly we would have a model on the market, and then we'd hear from folks who said, "That works great for people with these types of disabilities, but I had a stroke and I only have control of one side of my body. And so I can't propel the Freedom Chair with both arms." And we said, "Well that's super interesting, and I bet if we work together we could figure out a solution." And so we actually came up with a model of the Freedom Chair, a hemi model, that's designed to be propelled with one arm and then steered with a one foot, the leg on that side that has control.

Erik W.: Do you find that fun, that iterative process? I mean, so like my friend Hugh Herr, who is a scientist at MIT said a lot of people fail at this scientific process, this engineering process, because you deal with failure most of the time. And it's really hard on the psyche. Is that true, or is that accurate?

Tish Scolnik: It's hard. But I also see it as sort of a continuous stream of opportunities, that people wouldn't be providing that feedback if they didn't care about it, or if they didn't want to see that new feature or that new model or accessory. So for us it's helped us guide our product development. But it's exhausting sometimes.

Erik W.: Right. And especially because as he said, the goalpost just keeps moving and shifting, right? Because people, you give them hope and it's like you open a door, and now they're dreaming bigger and bigger, and now you're having to step up higher and higher.

Tish Scolnik: Absolutely. And as an example, we talk about the Freedom Chair being all terrain and getting you out hiking. We never imagined someone would use it to climb a fourteener.

Jeff: Be careful what you ask for. The human condition will always try and take what's normal and turn it into something better and different. Right. So-

Erik W.: It is a universal thing, right? You can take the levers off and it's just a regular chair too, right? For people, so they can use it in their daily life? It's not just like their adventure chair.

Tish Scolnik: Some of the things that make it so great outdoors, make it less awesome inside. So it's got a little bit of a longer wheel base so you're more stable. And the mountain bike parts are awesome for servicing at your bike shop and all that, but you know, you don't necessarily want to be tracking your mud into your kitchen.

Jeff: So, when someone comes to you and wants a chair, is there a way for them to customize it with you? How do they go about reaching out to you and saying, "I have this mobility, or this limitation. How can I get a chair that suits my needs?"

Erik W.: You're opening a door. So he probably doesn't want people coming like, "Hey..."

Jeff: Yeah, let's do like a Tesla website...

Erik W.: You're like, "Stop."

Tish Scolnik: You can have one color, any color you want, as long as it's black.

Jeff: Yeah. But the red, the red is extra. Yeah, the flames are really, really extra.

Erik W.: Flames. Oh yeah. That's cool.

Tish Scolnik: So we have now five models, and we've got about a dozen different accessories, so folks can kind of build and customize from the options that we have. And I think if there's one thing I would want folks to know about us here at Grit, is that we are here to help you. We're not expecting that you navigate all the resources online and build everything on your own. We're here, we worked with hundreds of riders around the country. We will help you figure out what works best for you.

Erik W.: How's that manufacturing process work? Like can you manufacture stuff and then it has to be built? How's that all work? How'd you figure that all out?

Tish Scolnik: Yeah. So as an engineer, you know there's like all sorts of things you have to do to run a business. Some of it, you know, was a steeper learning curve like sales and marketing, but some of the production stuff was a more fun application of what we actually learned at school.

Tish Scolnik: So, we manufacture the Freedom Chair. We have a couple of contract manufacturers who make different parts for us, and then we bring everything into our office here in Massachusetts and we hand assemble every chair here. So they're kind of built to order depending on what size, what model, what accessories. Everything gets packed and shipped directly to your door.

Jeff: Not to, I guess sets you up for this tough question here, but you are an innovator. You're a creator, and your team are all a bunch of hard chargers. So I'm guessing that even though your book is full, you days are full. Matter of fact, you probably wish you had 28 hours in a day.

Tish Scolnik: I would take them.

Jeff: Is there something else that's brewing in your lab right now that you're thinking about, you and your team?

Tish Scolnik: Yeah, so we get tons of feedback from people who are using our chair around the country. You know, one thing that's been really interesting, kind of recently, is that we've had more organizations and facilities start to buy Freedom Chairs to offer them at parks, or at camps, or at rehab facilities. And so we're starting to think more about how the needs of an organization might be different from the needs of an individual.

Tish Scolnik: And so, we've been thinking a lot about lately is that you don't see hiking included in adaptive sports, as often as hand cycling, basketball, tennis, skiing, and we love hiking here. We think it could be very accessible, and there's tons of ways to adapt it, and that there's so many benefits to just being outside and in nature. And so we're kind of thinking more about how we expand what we offer, particularly with organizations and parks and all that.

Erik W.: Have you thought about, like are there... I was with this person the other day, and we're hand cycling, and she had an e-assist, electrical assist, and she was cranking up hills. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't keep up with her on the tandem bike. Is that something that could be possible in the future for folks? Or is that...

Tish Scolnik: Yeah, we're having some interesting conversations about e-assist. It's obviously gotten super popular in the bike world, and so it's something we're starting to play around with. You know, and we're also trying to learn more about the use-case, because a lot of our riders, the reason they choose the Freedom Chair over some powered device is because they want to be able to do it with their own power. They don't want something they have to charge, or add weight or batteries, or stuff like that. And so we're really trying to understand, yeah, exactly who that serves and what they want to do with it.

Erik W.: Right. And then I was going to ask, so when you start a company, you have to get people to believe in you enough that they give you some money. So God, how do you do that? You go out just with a great idea, I assume, right? Maybe it's a simple answer.

Tish Scolnik: Yeah. Transitioning from sort of a group of students doing some prototyping and R and D, into like an actual company and going out and pitching to investors was a huge transition for us. I think we believed so passionately in our idea and had already seen how it could impact people's lives, that it made it a little easier to accept the nos that came in, and to go back out and pitch again and until we got to yes.

Erik W.: I mean when I talk to you, I get so excited when I think about this innovation. So part of it is just having such a good idea, right? And a good team that you've assembled.

Tish Scolnik: Yeah, I mean, and I think what was interesting about starting the company and raising money for it was I think it also brought more attention to what we're doing. You know, you hear about startups in the news all the time and all these... There's plenty of great ideas out there, but I think ours is a great idea where our investors also feel really good about being part of it.

Jeff: You go to MIT is a bioengineer and you come out as a engineer/entrepreneur.

Tish Scolnik: Yeah.

Jeff: Yeah. And now you've got this solid business acumen behind all the other acronyms after your name. So I mean, I guess this is just an awesome byproduct of it. You've had this learning curve of not just your specialty, but you've had to learn how to operate a business, and the staff, and a team.

Tish Scolnik: Yeah, and you guys know that as well as I do, that it's both really rewarding and also really challenging.

Erik W.: Do you have a lot of people, now that you're a leader in the industry, do you have a lot of people coming to you like, "Hey, I have an idea, and can you help me build this idea, this innovation, this prototype..."?

Tish Scolnik: We get a handful of people reaching out with ideas, and then we get requests for... We try to serve as many people as we can with our models and with our sizes, but we don't always have... There are always somebody who's bigger, or smaller, or shaped differently, and needs some sort of accommodation that we don't currently offer. And so, we try as much as we can to really keep track of those, so that if and when we do have something that serves that audience, we're able to actually go back and tell folks about that.

Erik W.: So do you go back and teach the MIT class now?

Tish Scolnik: I've given a couple of guest lectures. I hope that I can kind of use my story to inspire some other folks to put those engineering jobs to good work. But I hope it's also, you know, I try to be clear about the risks and the challenges. This is really hard what we're doing, and it's really high highs, but the lows are comparatively low. And when you're running the organization you have to kind of own those. You get to own the successes, but you also have to own all those failures too.

Jeff: Well it's good, though, that you present to this younger group of MIT folks. It seems all glorious and real shiny and everything, and you've got to show them the underside of that too. And how much work and the bandwidth that you've put into it with your team. And, as Erik mentioned, how many starts and stops, and come up shorts along the way. As any innovator would tell you, that's just part of the process, right?

Tish Scolnik: Yeah. Well, we've had a couple of times people have said, "Oh, you know, we want to do a case study on you." And I said, "We're not done."

Erik W.: We're not a finished product. We're still evolving.

Jeff: Yeah. The lab is always staffed, right? Like, you're always trying to figure it out.

Tish Scolnik: Come back in a few years.

Erik W.: Like 50 years.

Tish Scolnik: Yes.

Jeff: It must be so satisfying for you to see the Nerissas of the world, and then they come back to you. And they've taken your idea, your brainchild, and extended it beyond what scope you could have ever imagined. Right? I mean, that gives me chills to think about how satisfying that must be for you.

Tish Scolnik: Yeah, so we actually, we started a private Facebook group just for Freedom Chair riders. So everybody, after you purchase it, you immediately get invited to join this group. And people share stories of all sorts of adventures. And sometimes it's the crazy, "I never thought I would do this ever in my life." And sometimes it's the like, "I went down the quarter mile gravel driveway to my mailbox and I got the mail by myself, and I didn't think I'd be able to do that again." And so, for me, it's super gratifying to be able to get that like almost real time feedback. Like we're not just doing this in a vacuum.

Jeff: Do you just keep a box of Kleenex there so that when you try you can just like wipe off the tears and...

Tish Scolnik: Yeah. The best testimonials and reviews we share with the whole team and we actually post them up in our office. So we have the front entry of our office, if anybody ever comes to visit, we have a map of the United States, and then we have photos all around it that riders have sent to us of them out out in the world, kicking butt.

Erik W.: You're going to climb Everest with the Freedom Chair next.

Tish Scolnik: Oh, gosh.

Erik W.: That's what I heard.

Tish Scolnik: That's what we got to do.

Tish Scolnik: I personally did Kilimanjaro, but Everest seems a little tougher.

Erik W.: No, no. I think Kili is a good place to start with the chair. So how many have you built so far?

Tish Scolnik: Yeah. So this year we'll cruise over to a thousand out in the world.

Erik W.: Awesome.

Tish Scolnik: Yeah.

Erik W.: And as you said, mostly in the U.S. right now?

Tish Scolnik: Yeah. Yeah. We've got a handful of customers around Europe, Australia, Israel, South Africa, but primarily in the United States. In 49 States.

Jeff: Are you patented? Is this yours, right?

Tish Scolnik: Yep. Yeah. We have two patents on two aspects of the design.

Erik W.: You know, so I wrestled with this idea of being a pioneer of this iterative process in this No Barriers life, and because you have such training, right, like what's your advice to people when they want to be pioneers in their life? Do they have to kind of really step up and get the right training to do the things, to have the impact that they have in life? What's your advice to people?

Tish Scolnik: I don't know if this sounds hokey, but I think you have to find something that you're truly passionate about, because this pioneering work is really rewarding, but it's also really hard, and there are a lot of times we could have said, "That's it. We give up. It's not worth it anymore." But we believed in our idea so much that we couldn't. You know, it was like we won't stop until we've taken every shot we could possibly think of. And I think if you're not that passionate, if you're not driven by your idea to keep pursuing, if you don't have that grit, then it's hard to be a pioneer.

Jeff: I like the fact that you call these folks, that they're riders.

Tish Scolnik: Yeah.

Jeff: I mean, that's a rider, like a mountain bike rider. You know, you're not sitting, you're riding.

Erik W.: Cool. Well, Tish, thank you so much. And you know, again, I want to just keep emphasizing how awesome it is to be associated with people like you and your team, and the Freedom Chair. It just changes people's lives and that's not any cliche. It's really amazing. So, thanks for everything.

Tish Scolnik: Thank you. Thanks for having us along for the ride for the past few years.

Jeff: Well, I'm grateful that there's really smart people in the world, like you, that figure out a way to channel that to make the world a better place. And you're a unique person when it comes to that. So thank you for your contributions.

Erik W.: And your team.

Jeff: Thank you. Thank you.

Erik W.: How do people learn more?

Tish Scolnik: I come to our website, gogrit.us. Give us a call, 877-345-4748. Message us on Facebook, Instagram. We're a small team. We love talking to folks and learning about what they want to do, hearing about your adventures, and then getting a follow along when you actually get a Freedom Chair and get out there. So we can't wait to chat with you.

Jeff: Let us know when the flame decals come out in the options.

Erik W.: Or like anything cool, like skeletons, or anything like that. Lightning bolts.

Tish Scolnik: I could do lightning bolts, I could get behind that.

Jeff: Thanks, Tish. Thanks for joining us.

Erik W.: Well, you know, we also sometimes persuade you to come out to our Summits, so yeah, you all will get to meet Tish and some of the team there, if you come out to one of our Summits. Our next one's going to be a next year in October, in San Francisco, so stay tuned for that.

Tish Scolnik: Awesome. Thank you.

Jeff: Thanks for joining us, Tish.

Erik W.: All right, Jeff, what'd you learn here? This is a really cool interview.

Jeff: You know, I think that there's some people who are designed to do this kind of work, and there's not many of them in the world. And there's people who are smart, and that do things for themselves, and then the other demographic is people who are smart and who think of others first. And Tish is obviously the second. And she has turned, I think, a pretty robust mechanical engineering skillset into an opportunity to change lives. And I feel like that there's something special about people like Tish, and I'm grateful that the world has more people like her walking around.

Jeff: What about you?

Erik W.: I'm just hung up on this whole idea of how you do big things, and make progress, and create innovation in the world. It's a really important subject for our community. You know, because I think everyone can be a pioneer. It doesn't really necessarily mean that you're building a revolutionary new chair or you are, you know, solving cancer, or rocketing to Mars. Like everyone I think has to sort of live with this pioneering spirit, right? Like there's a solution, there's an idea, right? Like Tish said, if you're passionate, if you're committed, if this thing is bigger than than you, and you just can't give up because you're compelled to move forward. There's a way forward. And I think that that's really refreshing, even though there's a lot of lows along the way as Tish mentioned.

Jeff: Yeah. And you know, she also mentioned how she's listening, like the feedback that she gets is so critical in that process. And I think we sometimes fail to listen to the people who are really doing the work, and it seems like the bedrock of what they're doing is creating something and then putting it out there, and then sort of putting their ear to the track and listening and waiting. Like, "Okay, so that works. That doesn't work." And I think that idea of listening for that feedback is such a really cool asset and skillset.

Erik W.: And never being a case study because you're always a work in progress.

Erik W.: Cool. All right, well thanks everyone. Thanks for being a part of the No Barriers Podcast, and thank you, Tish. Thanks, Jeff.

Jeff: Thanks, Tish. That was great

Speaker 3: Thanks to all of you for listening to our podcast. We know that you have a lot of choices about how you can spend your time, and so we appreciate you spending it with us. If you enjoy this podcast, we encourage you to subscribe to it, share it, and give us a review. Show notes can be found at nobarrierspodcast.com.

Speaker 3: Special thanks to the Dan Ryan Band for our intro song, which is called Guidance. The production team behind this podcast includes producers Dietrich Jonk and Pauline Schaffer; sound design, editing and mixing by Tyler Cottman; graphics by Sam Davis; and marketing support by Laura Baldwin and Jamie Donnelly. Thanks to all you amazing people for the great work you do.

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