Guy Kawasaki's Remarkable People

Andrea Lytle Peet: The Embodiment of Perseverance

Episode Summary

This week's guest is the remarkable Andrea Lytle Peet was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 33. She quickly went from competing in marathons and triathlons to walking with a cane. While 80% of ALS patients die in 2-5 years, Andrea has lived with ALS for over eight years. She has participated in marathons all over the country using a recumbent bike, and she is raising money for ALS while doing so. She has also created the Team Drea Foundation, which supports innovative research to help find a cure or effective treatment for ALS. Andrea completed her 50th race in Alaska on May 28, 2022, making her the first person with ALS to complete a marathon in all 50 states. Hers is a remarkable story of perseverance. This interview occurred in October 2022.

Episode Notes

Guy Kawasaki is on a mission to make you remarkable. His Remarkable People podcast features interviews with remarkable people such as Jane Goodall, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Marc Benioff, Woz, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Bob Cialdini. Every episode will make you more remarkable.

With his decades of experience in Silicon Valley as a Venture Capitalist and advisor to the top entrepreneurs in the world, Guy’s questions come from a place of curiosity and passion for technology, start-ups, entrepreneurship, and marketing. If you love society and culture, documentaries, and business podcasts, take a second to follow Remarkable People.

Listeners of the Remarkable People podcast will learn from some of the most successful people in the world with practical tips and inspiring stories that will help you be more remarkable.

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Episode Transcription

Guy Kawasaki:

I'm Guy Kawasaki and this is Remarkable People. 

We're on a mission to make you remarkable. 

Helping me in this episode is the remarkable Andrea Lytle Peet. 

She was diagnosed with ALS at the age of thirty-three. 

She quickly went from competing in marathons and triathlons to walking with a cane. 

While 80 percent of ALS patients die in two to five years, Andrea has lived with ALS for over eight years. 

She has participated in marathons all over the country using a recumbent bike, and she is raising money for ALS research at the same time. 

She has also created the Team Drea Foundation. This supports innovative research to help find the cure or effective treatment for ALS.

Andrea has completed a marathon in all fifty states. 

Her last one was in Alaska on May twenty-eighth, 2022. 

Hers is a story of remarkable perseverance. 

This interview occurred in October 2022. 

I'm Guy Kawasaki, this is Remarkable People, and now here is the remarkable Andrea Lytle Peet.

I have great admiration for runners, because I just can't handle the pain myself. And the pecking order is sort of runner, and then people who run half marathons, and then people who run marathons, and then people who run multiple marathons, and then there are people who run in all fifty states, and then there's you, who run in all fifty states with ALS, which basically means you are the big kahuna. 

You are on top of the stack.

Andrea Lytle Peet:

Thank you.

Guy Kawasaki:

Tell everybody what you did.

Andrea Lytle Peet:

Sure. I became the first person with ALS that did a marathon in all fifty states. 

I used a recumbent trike, three wheels, and I peddled with my feet, and yeah, it was an amazing, humbling, experience.

Guy Kawasaki:

And which was your favorite race of the fifty states?

Andrea Lytle Peet:

I have to say Alaska, which was number fifty. 

It was not an easy race. I took a two or three hour ferry. And then hour drive, and reached this very small town in Alaska, population like a thousand. 

But the whole community came for the race and I had fifty of my friends and our family there with me and it just an amazing journey that I never really thought that I would actually complete.

Guy Kawasaki:

And now what, are you going to do fifty countries or what's next?

Andrea Lytle Peet:

Oh man. 

So we have completed a documentary, and I'm writing a memoir, and the only creative thing I cannot think of in my mind is how to achieve is a cure for ALS in my time. 

So that is why I am laser focused on raising money.

Guy Kawasaki:

If people want to support you, how can they do that?

Andrea Lytle Peet:

Oh, so our foundation is a teamdrea.org. We do bold, innovative research to find a cure for ALS. 

When I was diagnosed, wanted to challenge my friends and family to take on a race that they were assured that they can finish and raise money. 

However, ALS, we have now raised a million dollars, and it is all volunteering. 

All just new and out of the appreciation of the time that we have.

Guy Kawasaki:

Wow. Wow. 

If I could come out of this interview with the answer to this next question, I would declare victory and call it a day. 

How's that for a buildup for a question?

Andrea Lytle Peet:

Wow.

Guy Kawasaki:

So the question is how do you persevere with a condition like ALS?

Andrea Lytle Peet:

So ALS kills people in two to five years on average. I've been living with ALS for eight years now and I was diagnosed at the age of about thirty-three. 

I never thought that I would live to see my fortieth birthday and here I am. 

So I guess I would say I am here because I realized that I have been given the gift of time. We never know what is coming next and I am so grateful to be able to be here let alone doing marathons, and I prefer to take on the challenge with gratitude.

Guy Kawasaki:

Wow. Do you have advice for others dealing with such challenges?

Andrea Lytle Peet:

I remember just after my diagnosis I was sitting in the car crying. 

I was so depressed and I looked up and I just realized that I can be depressed or I can live my life now. Time will pass the same way either way. 

I think that whatever challenge that you are facing, find some hope in that, and that has kept me going. 

You never know what tomorrow will bring a good or bad, but I have just had the most amazing, incredible experience and I hope that others, no matter what you are facing, just appreciate the time that you have now.

Guy Kawasaki:

Have you found any sources of information particularly useful? 

And let me give you a little background on this question. So I have Meniere's disease. 

Meniere's disease is basically when you have vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss, which trust me, it's not the worst thing in the world to happen to you. Okay? 

Nobody ever died from Meniere's disease. 

But I have been very public about having Meniere's and inevitably people send me emails. These are well-meaning people and they send me emails saying, “Well if you took niacin, or if you ate sweet and sour lobster, or if you had more turmeric, or go get shots of whatever.” 

And I bet something like this probably happens to you. So have you found any good source of information online?

Andrea Lytle Peet:

No. Surely with ALS and, with everything probably…let me stick to ALS…everyone is so different. 

The sources are different, the causes are different, things progress at different rates. 

ALS is probably like cancer. It's probably an umbrella that we are trying to find a pill that will solve it. 

What I have come to believe is that you have to trust stuff in your body and experience and just do what works for you.

I have leaned in obviously to exercise, but it isn't just doing marathons.

I swim, I do pilates, and what I do is focus on telling my brain to connect to my muscles. 

It apparently forgot how to do that on its own. 

But I specifically think of moving my foot, and moving my finger, and what it will take to do that, and yeah.

That was a long answer, but I think you just have to learn what works for you and ignore the rest. You could spend a lifetime trying niacin, or what others recommend.

Guy Kawasaki:

My last question for you is what's your advice to the friends and family of people dealing with challenges of your magnitude? How can they best help?

Andrea Lytle Peet:

For me, the best way to help that I have found is to help others. 

So we are raising money for research to find a cure and that is the only way that no one will have to go through this disease and so I have turned my perspective the other way and how can I help? 

I am so lucky with this disease and so many other families aren’t. 

And so I try to be a sort of hope, be a friend, be a resource, or just listen.

Do what you can do to get out your own head and give back. I think it's better than the alternative of staying stuck.

Guy Kawasaki:

Want to make any kind of closing statement or anything? You don't have to. I'm just giving you the stage.

Andrea Lytle Peet:

Well first of all I just really appreciate you for reaching out and you are so positive in what you do and the way that you talk to other people. 

I think when we take the time to get to know one another, we realized that were not all that different, and I just really appreciate you.

Guy Kawasaki:

Thank you. And to put it mildly, I appreciate you and your remarkable story.

So a week after I conducted this interview, I came to the realization because of Peg Fitzpatrick, that Andrea's episode was coming out just before Thanksgiving. 

And I thought, who could give a better Thanksgiving message than Andrea Lytle Peet. 

So here it is.

Andrea Lytle Peet:

Hello.

Guy Kawasaki:

Hello Andrea. Thank you for letting me contact you yet another time. 

We looked at our schedule and your episode is coming right out about the Thanksgiving time. 

I wanted to know if you want to offer a Thanksgiving message to my listeners.

Andrea Lytle Peet:

Hi, want to tell your listeners to just to be thankful for the gift about being alive. 

Everything from the way that your brain tells your muscles to move, to your mouth being able to tell other people that you love them, to thanking them for all that they do.

I know that I am so thankful for my family, for my husband, and just other so near.

Guy Kawasaki:

That's a great message. Andrea, I am thankful that I discovered you. You have been a remarkable guest and friend.

Andrea Lytle Peet:

Thank you so much. Happy Thanksgiving.

Guy Kawasaki:

Oh my god, Andrea is such a remarkable person. 

I hope you enjoyed this interview. If there was ever a Remarkable People interview that personified perseverance, this is it. 

If you'd like to support Andrea and her research efforts to cure and treat ALS, go to teamdrea.org. T E A M D R E A.org. 

I'm Guy Kawasaki, this is Remarkable People. 

A great Thanksgiving to you all. And if you're in a country that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving right now, well, well celebrate anyway. You can never give too much thanks. 

And speaking of thanks, my thanks to the team, my thanks to the Remarkable People team that would be Peg Fitzpatrick, Jeff Sieh, Shannon Hernandez, Alexis Nishimura, Luis Magana, and the drop in queen of Santa Cruz, Madisun Nuismer. 

Until next time, Mahalo and Aloha.