040: Quitting Alcohol And Bluffing Your Way To ESPN with James Swanwick

James Swanwick is the co-founder of Swanwick Sleep, which produces the “Swannies” line of blue light-blocking glasses that improve the sleep of their wearers. He is also an investor, host of the James Swanwick Show podcast, and the author of The 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge. A former ESPN anchor, James has interviewed numerous high-profile individuals such as Angelina Jolie and Al Gore, and is actively involved with the Arnold Schwarzenegger-founded charity After-School All-Stars.

In this episode, discusses how he overcame anxiety to become an ESPN anchor, explains why he gave up drinking, and breaks down how “Swannies” help improve the quality of your sleep. As well, James has offered Do Well & Do Good listeners 15% off a purchase on the Swanwick Sleep online store. To take advantage of this offer, head over to SwanwickSleep.com and use the discount code DOGOOD.


Show Notes:

  • What was like life for James growing up and why did he end up moving to the United States?
    • Grew up in Brisbane, Australia; went to an all-boys private school and got a job as a newspaper reporter right out of high school.
    • At 23, moved to London and was hired by Sky Sports, then after a relationship broke down he moved to Los Angeles.
  • How did James get hired on as an ESPN anchor?
    • Had lifelong dream to host a television show, going back to his childhood when he would pretend to be a news anchor using his family’s video camera.
    • In 2010, he was presented with the opportunity to audition as an international anchor for ESPN.
    • First audition didn’t go too well because he was “wooden” and too nervous.
    • Rather than go back to Los Angeles, he fought for a second audition and aced it; while he was still very anxious leading up to his first show, he was able to power through it.
  • What prompted James to give up drinking?
    • While he wasn’t an alcoholic, and in fact drank what would be considered a “normal” amount, he found it still made him lethargic and irritable, and felt that he wasn’t getting the most enjoyment out of life.
    • After quitting, his mood, thinking and appearance noticeably improved. With this in mind, he created the 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge; the program has since been so successful that there is now a 90-day version as well.
  • Why does quitting drinking have such a positive impact on our performance?
    • Alcohol is technically toxic, and our body goes into overdrive to cleanse it from our system, making us feel tired in the process.
    • Drinking close to bedtime negatively affects our sleep for this reason.
    • Quitting drinking frees up energy that our body would otherwise be expending clearing alcohol from its system.
  • What are James’ tips for getting through alcohol-centric social situations (networking parties at bars, for example)?
    • Be confident and in good humor; demonstrate that you can still have fun without drinking.
  • What lead to James founding Swanwick Sleep?
    • He would frequently look at his phone or laptop before bed and noticed that it left him with unsatisfactory sleep.
    • His friend wore safety glasses to filter out blue light; blue light can trick our brain into thinking it’s still day out, and computer/phone screens emit a lot of it.
    • “Swannies,” created by James and his brother, are a more stylish take on this concept.
    • While it wasn’t an original idea, the Swanwick glasses became successful through their comfort and visual appeal.
    • Swannies offer more blue light filtration than specialized phone or computer apps.
    • Why did James volunteer for 11 charities in 11 weeks?
      • He had a bit of a midlife crisis nearly a year ago, going through a period of depression.
      • Read in a book that helping others can make you feel proactive and constructive.
      • While it was difficult at first, and he had to push forward through brute force, it improved his mood and made him appreciate how difficult life can be for others.
  • What’s After-School All-Stars?
    • A series of after-school programs founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Hernandez that provide inner-city kids with safe, fun and educational activities.
    • It has generated over $100,000 in sporting equipment for kids across Los Angeles.
  • Why has James been able to implement his charity work so successfully?
    • Through his network of well-connected, resourceful people.
  • Who has been the most impactful person in James’  journey to do well and achieve financial success?
    • Tai Lopez, a social media entrepreneur and James’ first mentor.
  • Who has been the most impactful person in James’ drive to do good?
    • Jon Bon Jovi
  • What are some personal development and mindset practices that James regularly uses?
    • He writes 20 things he’s grateful for in a gratitude diary each morning, eats organic food and drinks a lot of water, and gets sunlight and exercise.
  • What book does James recommend to those seeking a more successful path in life?
  • What is the best piece of advice related to happiness that James would give our listeners?
    • Don’t touch your cell phone in the morning until you’ve written down 20 things you’re grateful for.
  • Places to find James:


Do Well & Do Good Challenge Nomination:


“After-School All-Stars provides comprehensive after-school programs that keep children safe and help them succeed in school and life. Our vision is for our all-stars to be safe and healthy, graduate high school, go to college, find careers they love and then give back to their communities.”

About After-School All-Stars
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About the author, Dorothy

Dorothy Illson is the founder of Needle's Eye Media, a full-service Facebook advertising agency. She's also the host of Do Well & Do Good, a podcast dedicated to telling the stories of people who have created financial success and leveraged it to increase their positive impact on the world.

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