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The Art of Manliness

The Art of Manliness

Society & Culture, Philosophy, Education

4.7 • 14.3K Ratings


The Art of Manliness Podcast aims to deepen and improve every area of a man's life, from fitness and philosophy, to relationships and productivity. Engaging and edifying interviews with some of the world's most interesting doers and thinkers drop the fluff and filler to glean guests' very best, potentially life-changing, insights.

1029 Episodes

EPISODE #1,000! Rules for the Modern Man

Fifteen years and more than 200 million downloads later, this episode marks the 1,000th installment of the Art of Manliness podcast! It begins with a bit of a retrospective on the podcast and then segues into an interview with one of the show's earliest guests: Walker Lamond, author of Rules for My Unborn Son. Walker and I revisit the origins of the book and the early days of the internet and have a fun discussion of which of his rules have become obsolete and which remain evergreen. Tune in and enjoy! A big thanks to our listeners for helping us reach this cool milestone. The support is deeply appreciated! A big thanks to our listeners for helping us reach this cool milestone. The support is deeply appreciated! A big thanks to our listeners for helping us reach this cool milestone. The support is deeply appreciated!

Transcribed - Published: 19 June 2024

The Epic Adventures of America’s Forgotten Mountain Man

Plenty of famous explorers and frontiersmen emerged from America's periods of expansion and exploration, and today the likes of Daniel Boone, Kit Carson, and Davy Crockett remain household names. You're probably not familiar, but should be, with the name of another prominent pioneer: Jedediah Smith. Smith was a hunter, trapper, writer, cartographer, mountain man, and explorer who notched a lot of firsts: He was the first to lead a documented exploration from the Salt Lake frontier to the Colorado River and was part of the first parties of U.S. citizens to cross the Mojave Desert, the Sierra Nevada, and the Great Basin Desert. Having survived three attacks by Native Americans and one mauling by a grizzly bear, Smith's explorations became resources for those who followed after and led to the use of the South Pass as the dominant route across the Continental Divide for pioneers on the Oregon Trail. In the new book he co-authored, Throne of Grace: A Mountain Man, an Epic Adventure, and the Bloody Conquest of the American West, my guest, Bob Drury, uses the oft-forgotten Smith as a guide to an oft-forgotten period in American history. Today on the show, Bob paints a picture of a volatile American landscape in which trappers and Native Americans collided and clashed in the early decades of the 19th century. We discuss how the Lewis and Clark expedition created a lust for adventure among young men, how the humble beaver played an outsized role in settling the Western frontier, and how warfare changed amongst Native American tribes with the introduction of the horse. Along the way, Bob shows us how the life of Jed Smith intersected with all these historic trends and shares the epic exploits that he and other mountain men took part in while exploring and mapping the American West.

Transcribed - Published: 17 June 2024

Dad's Essential Role in Making Kids Awesome

As compared to mothers, fathers are sometimes thought of as a secondary, almost superfluous, parent. But my guest says that fathers actually saved the human race, and continue to do so today. Anna Machin is an evolutionary anthropologist, a pioneer of fatherhood science, and the author of Life Of Dad. Today on the show, we talk about the role of fathers in human history and how their main role continues to be teaching kids the skills they need to take risks, become independent, and navigate the world beyond their family. We also talk about the physiological changes that happen when a man becomes a father and how dads are just as biologically primed as mothers to parent. In the second half of our conversation, we talk about the experience of being a dad. Anna shares how long it typically takes a man to bond with a baby and transition into the role of fatherhood, how roughhousing is key in building that bond as well as developing your child's resilience, and how your personality and background will affect your parenting. We end our conversation with the difference in how the relationship between Mom and Dad affects how they parent, and the implications of that for building a strong family.

Transcribed - Published: 12 June 2024

The Laws of Connection — The Scientific Secrets of Building Stronger Relationships

Everyone has heard about the incredible benefits that come to mind, body, and spirit from having strong relationships. The quality of our social ties has a huge impact on our physical and mental health and our overall feeling of flourishing. Yet many people still struggle to create these strong relationships in their lives, and often figure that things like weakening communities and digital technology are to blame. But my guest says that the barriers to establishing bonds with others may actually be more psychological than physical, and he shares research-backed tips for breaking through them in his new book, The Laws of Connection: The Scientific Secrets of Building a Strong Social Network. Today on the show, David discusses how we can feel lonely even when we're surrounded by people if we don't have what he calls a "shared reality." We then discuss ways to build that shared reality with others. We talk about why frenemies are so bad for you, how to overcome the "liking gap," why you might want to interrupt someone to connect with them, the need to be aware of the novelty penalty in conversations, why you should stop telling white lies, and much more.

Transcribed - Published: 10 June 2024

Remembering D-Day 80 Years Later

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, 160,000 troops participated in the invasion of Normandy. Today just a few thousand of these veterans are still alive, with the youngest in their late nineties. As their voices, and those of the million combatants and leaders who swept into motion across Europe 80 years ago, fall silent and pass from living history, Garrett Graff has captured and compiled them in a new book: When the Sea Came Alive: An Oral History of D-Day. Drawing on his project of sifting through and synthesizing 5,000 oral histories, today Garrett takes us back to what was arguably the most consequential day in modern history and helps unpack the truly epic sweep of the operation, which was hard to fathom even then, and has become even more difficult to grasp with the passage of time. We talk about how unbelievably involved the planning process for D-Day was, stories you may never have heard before, a couple of the myths around D-Day, and the sacrificial heroism born of this event that continues to live on.

Transcribed - Published: 5 June 2024

Why You're So Bad at Giving and Receiving Compliments (And How to Fix That)

Over a decade ago, I remember reading a story that stuck with me. I think it was connected to the famous Harvard Study on Adult Development that studied a group of men across their lifetimes, but I can no longer find the reference. A much-beloved doctor, upon his retirement, was given a notebook filled with letters of praise and appreciation from his patients. After he received it, he put it up in his attic, and never opened it or read the letters. I've often thought of this story since I first heard it, wondering about what motivated the doctor's behavior, and the larger question of why praise is typically welcomed and makes us feel good, but can also make people feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. In today's episode, I take a stab at answering this question with Christopher Littlefield, a speaker and consultant who specializes in employee appreciation. But first, we talk about the power of recognition, why we can be so stingy in giving compliments, how compliments can go wrong, and how we can offer them more effectively. We then turn to why getting compliments can make you cringe, how people deflect them and how this deflection affects relationships, and how to get better at receiving compliments graciously.

Transcribed - Published: 3 June 2024

A Guide to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. It's a peculiar book, especially for a bestseller. Not a lot of it is actually about zen or motorcycle maintenance, it combines a travelogue, a father/son story, and philosophical musings, and the structure of its narration makes it hard to follow. Thus, it's the kind of book people often buy, start, and then put down without finishing. That's initially what happened to Mark Richardson, an author and automotive journalist who was born in the UK but has lived most of his life in Canada. But when the book finally clicked for Mark, he was so inspired by it that he actually undertook Pirsig's motorcycle pilgrimage himself. Mark shares that story in Zen and Now, which intersperses stories from his own road trip with an exploration of Pirsig's life and famous book. If you've wanted to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but haven't been able to get into it, today Mark will offer an introduction to what it's all about. We discuss Pirsig's ideas on the metaphysics of quality and our relationship to technology, and how he tried to combine the ethos of Eastern and Western thought into a unified philosophy of living. We also get into why Mark wanted to recreate Pirsig's road trip, the joys of traveling by motorcycle, and what Mark learned along the way.

Transcribed - Published: 29 May 2024

The Shadows Over Men's Hearts and How to Fight Them

There are a lot of unspoken challenges and hidden battles that men face in modern society. They often manifest themselves in a uniquely male malaise where a man feels apathetic, frustrated, cynical, and lost. Jon Tyson has thought a lot about the problems men face and has been on the ground trying to help them as a pastor in New York City. In today's episode, I talk to Jon about the sources of this male angst that he explores as the co-author of a new book, Fighting Shadows: Overcoming 7 Lies That Keep Men From Becoming Fully Alive. Jon and I discuss how men often try to solve their malaise and why those approaches don't work. We then explore some of the shadows men fight in their lives, including the shadows of despair, loneliness, unhealthy ambition, futility, and lust. Jon offers some advice to overcome these shadows, including sitting around a fire pit with your bros, taking time to develop your telos or aim as a man, and injecting a bit more playfulness in your life to counteract grumpy dad syndrome.

Transcribed - Published: 22 May 2024

Patton and the Bulge: Blood, Guts, and Prayer

General George S. Patton is known for his aggressive, action-oriented tactical brilliance. His character was also marked by a lesser-known but equally fundamental mystic piety. Those two qualities would come together in the lead up to and execution of Patton's greatest achievement during WWII: the relief of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. Alex Kershaw tells this story in his new book Patton's Prayer: A True Story of Courage, Faith, and Victory in World War II. Today on the show, Alex shares how, when the Third Army's advance into Germany was stalled by plane-grounding clouds and road-muddying rain, Patton commissioned a prayer for better weather that was distributed to a quarter million of his men, and how that prayer became even more urgent after the commencement of the Battle of the Bulge. We also talk about Patton's qualities as a leader and a man, including his reading habits, how he combined a profane assertiveness with a pious faith and a belief in reincarnation, and what happened to him as the war came to a close.

Transcribed - Published: 20 May 2024

Embracing the Strive State

We often think happiness will be found in the completion of a goal. We often think happiness will be found in ease and comfort. My guest says real joy is found in the journey rather than the destination, and that if difficulty and discomfort are part of that journey, that's all the better. Dr. Adam Fraser is a peak performance researcher and the author of Strive: Embracing the Gift of Struggle. Today on the show, we talk about what Adam calls the "strive state," where we have to grow and be courageous to tackle a meaningful challenge, and why this state is the source of the greatest fulfillment in life. We discuss why we often resist embracing the strive state and what happens when we don't have to struggle in life. We also talk about what successful strivers do differently.

Transcribed - Published: 15 May 2024

The Dude's Guide to Laundry: How to Save Time, Money, and Your Wardrobe

If you didn’t grow up doing your own laundry, once you headed out on your own, you probably just figured things out on the fly, hoped for the best, and have been doing things the same way ever since. But, while you may be getting the job done okay, you also might be making some mistakes that are costing you time, money, and cleaner clothes. In this episode from the Art of Manliness department of essential life skills, we’ll cover all the things you should have learned as a young man but never did, and how to do your laundry effectively. Our guide is Patric Richardson, aka the “Laundry Evangelist,” a laundry expert who runs how-to-do-laundry camps, hosts the television show The Laundry Guy, and is the author of Laundry Love. Today on the show, Patric shares the one cycle and water temperature you should use for all of your clothes, exactly how much detergent you should be using (which is a lot less than you think), how often you should wash your clothes (which is less often than you think), why you shouldn’t ever use dryer sheets (and what to throw in your dryer instead), how regardless of what the tag says, you can wash anything at home (including a wool suit), how to easily get rid of stains (including yellow pit stains), and many more tips that will save you time, money, and hassle in doing your laundry.

Transcribed - Published: 13 May 2024

How to Get Better at Anything

Life revolves around learning—in school, at our jobs, even in the things we do for fun. But we often don’t progress in any of these areas at the rate we’d like. Consequently, and unfortunately, we often give up our pursuits prematurely or resign ourselves to always being mediocre in our classes, career, and hobbies. Scott Young has some tips on how you can avoid this fate, level up in whatever you do, and enjoy the satisfaction of skill improvement. Scott is a writer, programmer, and entrepreneur, and the author of Get Better at Anything: 12 Maxims for Mastery. Today on the show, Scott shares the three key factors in helping us learn. He explains how copying others is an underrated technique in becoming a genius, why, contrary to the sentiments of motivational memes, we learn more from success than mistakes, why experts often aren’t good teachers and tactics for drawing out their best advice, why you may need to get worse before you get better, and more.

Transcribed - Published: 8 May 2024

Of Strength and Soul — Exploring the Philosophy of Physical Fitness

When you’re lifting weights, you might be thinking about setting a new PR or doing your curls for the girls. But throughout history, philosophers have thought about physical fitness on a deeper level and considered how exercise shapes not only the body, but also the mind and the soul. My guest today, Joe Lombardo, is a strength enthusiast who follows in this tradition and has explored the philosophy of bodily exercise in his writing. Today on the show, Joe and I discuss several different ways the philosophy of strength has been expressed over time. We begin our conversation with how the ancient Greeks thought of physical training as a way to develop personal as well as social virtues, and why they thought you were an "idiot," in their particular sense of the word, if you didn't take care of your body. We then discuss early Christianity's relationship with physical exercise and the development of the muscular Christianity movement in the 19th century. We end our conversation by looking at the philosophy of physicality espoused by the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, and what he had to say as to how strength training moves us out of the life of the night and towards the light of the sun.

Transcribed - Published: 6 May 2024

The No-BS Secrets of Success

Jim VandeHei didn’t have an auspicious start in life. His high school guidance counselor told him he wasn’t cut out for college, and he went on to confirm her assessment, getting a 1.4 GPA at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and spending more time drinking beer than planning his career. Eventually, though, Jim turned things around for himself, going on to co-found two of the biggest modern media outlets, Politico and Axios. Jim shares how he started moving up the rungs of success and building a better life for himself in his new book Just the Good Stuff: No-BS Secrets to Success (No Matter What Life Throws at You). Today on the show, Jim shares the real-world lessons he’s learned in his career. We discuss the importance of matching passion to opportunity, making your own luck, surrounding yourself with the right people, keeping the buckets of your happiness matrix filled, understanding the difference between wartime and peacetime leadership, harnessing the energy of healthy revenge, and more. Connect With Jim VandeHei Jim at Axios

Transcribed - Published: 1 May 2024

How to Eliminate the Two Biggest Sources of Financial Stress

There are different philosophies one can have when it comes to money. Jared Dillian’s is built around eliminating as much anxiety around it as possible, so you hardly think about money at all. Jared is a former trader for Lehman Brothers, the editor of The Daily Dirtnap, a market newsletter for investment professionals, and the author of No Worries: How to Live a Stress-Free Financial Life. Today on the show, Jared talks about the two biggest sources of financial stress — debt and risk — and how you can eliminate the stress they can cause. We discuss how three big financial decisions — buying a car, buying a house, and managing student loans — ultimately determine your financial health, and how to approach each of them in a stress-eliminating way. We also talk about how to minimize risk by creating what he calls an “awesome portfolio,” a mix of assets that has nearly the return of the stock market with half its risk. And Jared shares whether cryptocurrency fits into his “no worries” financial philosophy.

Transcribed - Published: 29 April 2024

The Secret World of Bare-Knuckle Boxing

Have you ever noticed the guy in a fighting stance on the Art of Manliness logo? That’s not just some random symbol; it’s an actual dude: John L. Sullivan, the greatest bare-knuckle boxer of the 19th century. While most people think bare-knuckle boxing came to an end during Sullivan’s era, in fact, it never entirely went away. In his new book, Bare Knuckle: Bobby Gunn, 73–0 Undefeated. A Dad. A Dream. A Fight Like You’ve Never Seen, Stayton Bonner charts bare-knuckle boxing’s rise, fall, and resurgence, as well as the improbable story of its modern chapter’s winningest champion. Today on the show, Stayton describes bare-knuckle boxing’s incredible popularity a century ago, and why gloved boxing took its place while bare-knuckle got pushed into a shadowy, illicit underground. Stayton takes us into that secret circuit which still exists today, revealing the dark, sweaty basements and bars where modern bare-knuckle fights take place and the ancient code of honor that structures them. And Stayton introduces us to a dominant figure in that world, Bobby Gunn, an undefeated bare-knuckle fighter who combines a love of faith, family, and fighting and has helped turn bare-knuckle boxing into what is now the world’s fastest-growing combat sport.

Transcribed - Published: 24 April 2024

Why Your Memory Seems Bad (It’s Not Just Age)

Do you sometimes walk to another room in your house to get something, but then can’t remember what it was you wanted? Do you sometimes forget about an appointment or struggle to remember someone’s name? You may have chalked these lapses in memory up to getting older. And age can indeed play a role in the diminishing power of memory. But as my guest will tell us, there are other factors at play as well. Charan Ranganath is a neuroscientist, a psychologist, and the author of Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory’s Power to Hold on to What Matters. Today on the show, Charan explains how factors like how we direct our attention, take photos, and move through something called “event boundaries” all affect our memory, and how our current context in life impacts which memories we’re able to recall from the past. We also talk about how to reverse engineer these factors to improve your memory.

Transcribed - Published: 22 April 2024

Grid-Down Medicine — A Guide for When Help Is NOT on the Way

If you read most first aid guides, the last step in treating someone who’s gotten injured or sick is always: get the victim to professional medical help. But what if you found yourself in a situation where hospitals were overcrowded, inaccessible, or non-functional? What if you found yourself in a grid-down, long-term disaster, and you were the highest medical resource available? Dr. Joe Alton is an expert in what would come after the step where most first aid guides leave off. He’s a retired surgeon and the co-author of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Help is NOT on the Way. Today on the show, Joe argues that every family should have a medical asset and how to prepare to be a civilian medic. We discuss the different levels of first aid kits to consider creating, from an individual kit all the way up to a community field hospital. And we talk about the health-related skills you might need in a long-term grid-down disaster, from burying a dead body, to closing a wound with super glue, to making an improvised dental filling, to even protecting yourself from the radiation of nuclear fallout.

Transcribed - Published: 17 April 2024

Skills Over Pills

Over the last decade, there's been an increase in the number of people, particularly young adults, who struggle with low moods, distractibility, and anxiety and consequent difficulties with getting their life on track and making progress in work, friendship, and romance. In addressing these difficulties, people are often given or adopt a mental health diagnosis, and look for a solution in therapy and/or medication. My guest isn't opposed to these remedies. She is herself a clinical psychologist who's maintained a practice for a quarter century that specializes in treating clients in their twenties. But Dr. Meg Jay, who's also the author of The Twentysomething Treatment, believes that a lot of what young adults, and in fact adults of all ages, struggle with, aren't disorders that need to be treated, but problems that can be solved. In the first half of our conversation, Meg explains what's behind the decline in mental health for young adults and how it's bigger than just smartphones. We discuss the dangers of self-diagnosis, the potential downsides of using medications to treat mental health issues, and why she advocates for "skills over pills." In the second half of our conversation, we talk about how mental health gets better when we get better at life, and what skills twentysomethings, and many older adults, need to develop, including the skills of thinking, feeling, working, socializing, and even cooking. We also discuss how porn is affecting the young men in her practice and an alternative to being a self-assurance junkie.

Transcribed - Published: 15 April 2024

The Power of Everyday Rituals to Shape and Enhance Our Lives

When we think of rituals, we tend to think of big, inherited, more occasional religious or cultural ceremonies like church services, holidays, weddings, and funerals. But as my guest observes, we also engage in small, self-made, everyday rituals that help us turn life's more mundane moments into more meaningful ones. In the The Ritual Effect: From Habit to Ritual, Harness the Surprising Power of Everyday Actions, psychologist and Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton explores the way our DIY rituals shape, and enhance, our lives. We take up that survey on today's show. Michael explains the difference between a habit and a ritual and how individuals and families create unique "ritual signatures" even within more standard rituals like holidays. We discuss the different areas of life in which rituals show up and what they do for us, including how they help us cope with uncertainty, savor life, and connect to the past. We get into the function DIY rituals perform in romantic relationships, from deepening intimacy to facilitating a break-up, the role that "kinkeepers" play in keeping a family together, the tricky business of combining family traditions when people get married, how to know when a family tradition should be retired, and much more.

Transcribed - Published: 10 April 2024

Walden on Wheels — A Man, a Debt, and an American Adventure

Millions of young adults know what it's like to graduate from college with student debt. For some, it's a frustrating annoyance. For others, it's a worry-inducing burden. For Ken Ilgunas, it was a dragon in need of slaying and a pathway to adventure. Ken is the author of Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom, and today on the show, he shares the story of how his quest to erase his debt led him to the Arctic Circle and through the peaks and valleys of living a totally unshackled life. Ken explains why he went to Alaska to work as a truckstop burger flipper and park ranger to pay off his student debt, what it's like to hitchhike across the country, how reading Thoreau's Walden got him questioning how we live our lives, and how that inspiration led him to living in his van while attending grad school at Duke. Along the way, Ken shares his meditations on nonconformity, engaging in romantic pursuits, and the benefits of both de-institutionalizing and re-institutionalizing your life.

Transcribed - Published: 8 April 2024

How to Create a Distraction-Free Phone

Jake Knapp loves tech. He grew up using Apple II and then Mac computers, browsing bulletin boards, and making his own games. As an adult, he worked at Microsoft on the Encarta CD-ROM, before being hired by Google, where he worked on Gmail, co-founded Google Meet, and created Google Ventures' Design Sprint process. Today, he's a venture capitalist and consultant for start-ups, as well as a writer. But, if Jake was an early adopter and booster of the upsides of technology, he was also early in sensing its not-so-positive side effects. Twelve years ago, unhappy with the pull his smartphone was exerting on him, he decided to curb its distractions. He continues to use this distraction-free phone today. Today on the show, I talk to Jake about what motivated him to change his relationship with his phone over a decade ago and what steps he took to do so, including how and why he lives life without a web browser or email app on his phone. We get into what realizations about work and life Jake's gotten from having a distraction-free phone, why he doesn't think using tools like Screen Time or a dumbphone are always the best solutions to reducing the phone itch, and how he also cuts down on distractions on his desktop computer.

Transcribed - Published: 3 April 2024

Want to Be Happy? Give Yourself Reasons to Admire Yourself

Happiness and depression can feel like slippery and befuddling things. We can do the things we've been told will make us happy, while still not feeling satisfied. Or, on paper, our lives can look great, yet we feel depressed. And the advice that's out there about these states doesn't always seem to correspond to our lived experience. Ryan Bush has created a new map he thinks can help us make better sense of life. Ryan is a systems designer with a long-standing interest in psychology and philosophy, the founder of Designing the Mind, a self-development organization, and an author. His latest book is Become Who You Are: A New Theory of Self-Esteem, Human Greatness, and the Opposite of Depression. Today on the show, Ryan explains the two dimensions along which we usually plot our happiness, and what he thinks is the missing third dimension: virtue or admirability. Ryan then unpacks his "virtue self-signaling theory" which he thinks can heighten happiness and reduce depression, and which is premised on the idea that if you want to live a flourishing life, you have to give yourself reasons to admire yourself. I really think this is a valuable idea that everyone can get something from and recommend listening through.

Transcribed - Published: 1 April 2024

Tips From a Hostage Negotiator on Handling Difficult Conversations

In resolving hundreds of kidnap-for-ransom cases involving gang leaders, pirates, and extortionists, Scott Walker, a former Scotland Yard detective, has learned a thing or two about how to negotiate and communicate in a crisis. He shares how to apply those lessons to the difficult conversations we all have in our everyday lives in his book Order Out of Chaos: Win Every Negotiation, Thrive in Adversity, and Become a World-Class Communicator, and we talk about his tips on today's show. Scott and I discuss what a "red center" means in a kidnap-for-ransom scenario and how to create one in your personal life, the "immediate action drill" that can help you stay in that red center, the importance of separating the decision-maker from the communicator in a negotiation and having a "battle rhythm," why you don't give hostage takers the money they ask for right away and how to structure a negotiation instead, and more.

Transcribed - Published: 27 March 2024

Lessons in Action, Agency, and Purpose From Buying a Ghost Town

In the 19th century, Cerro Gordo, which sits above Death Valley, was the largest silver mine in America, a place where dreamers came to strike it rich. In the 21st century, Brent Underwood used his life savings to buy what had become an abandoned ghost town, and ended up finding a very different kind of wealth there. Brent has spent four years living in Cerro Gordo and has documented the details of the mines he’s explored, the artifacts he’s found, and how he’s restoring the town on his popular YouTube channel, Ghost Town Living. Now, in a book by the same name, he takes a wider-view lens on his adventures there and shares the big lessons he’s learned from his experiences and from the original residents of Cerro Gordo. We get into some of those lessons on today’s show. We first talk about how and why Brent bought a ghost town as a way of escaping a typical 9-5 life and finding a deeper longer-term purpose. We then discuss what restoring Cerro Gordo has taught him about the necessity of getting started and taking real action, how learning the context of what you do can add greater meaning to it, the importance of understanding the long-term consequences of short-term thinking, the satisfactions that come with being a high-agency person, and more.

Transcribed - Published: 25 March 2024

Timeboxing — The Productivity-Boosting Power of Doing One Thing at a Time

From work to chores to entertaining distractions, there are many options for what you can be doing at any moment in the modern world. We often endlessly toggle between these options and, as a result, feel frazzled and frustratingly unproductive. We feel ever haunted by the question, "What should I be doing right now?" (Or "What am I even doing right now?") My guest will share a simple but effective productivity method that will quash this feeling of overwhelm, answer that question, and help you make much better use of your time. Marc Zao-Sanders is the CEO and co-founder of filtered.com, a learning tech company, and the author of Timeboxing: The Power of Doing One Thing at a Time. In the first half of our conversation, we unpack what timeboxing — which brings your calendar and to-do list together — is all about and its benefits as a time management system, including how it can help you get more done, live with greater intention and freedom, and even create a log of memories. In the second half of our conversation, we get into the practicalities of timeboxing, from how to capture the to-dos that will go on your calendar to how to deal with things that might pull you away from it. We end our conversation with how you can get started with timeboxing right now and have a more focused, productive, and satisfying day tomorrow.

Transcribed - Published: 20 March 2024

Get More Done With the Power of Timeboxing

From work to chores to entertaining distractions, there are many options for what you can be doing at any moment in the modern world. We often endlessly toggle between these options and, as a result, feel frazzled and frustratingly unproductive. We feel ever haunted by the question, "What should I be doing right now?" (Or "What am I even doing right now?") My guest will share a simple but effective productivity method that will quash this feeling of overwhelm, answer that question, and help you make much better use of your time. Marc Zao-Sanders is the CEO and co-founder of filtered.com, a learning tech company, and the author of Timeboxing: The Power of Doing One Thing at a Time. In the first half of our conversation, we unpack what timeboxing — which brings your calendar and to-do list together — is all about and its benefits as a time management system, including how it can help you get more done, live with greater intention and freedom, and even create a log of memories. In the second half of our conversation, we get into the practicalities of timeboxing, from how to capture the to-dos that will go on your calendar to how to deal with things that might pull you away from it. We end our conversation with how you can get started with timeboxing right now and have a more focused, productive, and satisfying day tomorrow.

Transcribed - Published: 20 March 2024

The 3 Musical Geniuses Behind the Most Popular Jazz Album of All Time

Even if you're not very into jazz, you probably know Kind of Blue, the jazz album that's sold more copies than any other and is widely considered one of the greatest albums ever, in any genre. Among the sextet of musicians who played on the album, three stand out as true jazz geniuses: Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and John Coltrane. Today on the show, James Kaplan, author of 3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the Lost Empire of Cool, unpacks the stories behind these towering figures. We discuss their background, their demons, their passion for musical greatness, and what they contributed to the evolving world of jazz. And we discuss why, when they got together to record Kind of Blue, the result was the most timeless and beloved jazz album in history.

Transcribed - Published: 13 March 2024

A Butler's Guide to Managing Your Household

It's a tough job to manage a household. Things need to be regularly fixed, maintained, and cleaned. How do you stay on top of these tasks in order to keep your home in tip-top shape? My guest knows his way all around this issue and has some field-tested, insider advice to offer. Charles MacPherson spent two decades as the major-domo or chief butler of a grand household. He's also the founder of North America's only registered school for butlers and household managers and the author of several books drawn from his butlering experience, including The Butler Speaks: A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining, and the Art of Good Housekeeping. In the first part of our conversation, Charles charts the history of domestic service and describes why the practice of having servants like a butler and maid ebbed in the mid-20th century but has made a comeback today. We then turn to what average folks who don't have a household staff can do to better manage their homes. Charles recommends keeping something called a "butler's book" to stay on top of household schedules and maintenance checklists. We then discuss how to clean your home more logically and efficiently. Charles shares his golden rules of house cleaning, the cleaning task you've probably neglected (hint: go take a look at the side of the door on your dishwasher), his surprising choice for the best product to use to clean your shower, how often you should change your bedsheets, and much more.

Transcribed - Published: 11 March 2024

Down With Pseudo-Productivity: Why We Need to Transform the Way We Work

The last several years have seen the rise of a sort of anti-productivity movement. Knowledge workers who feel burned out and that work is pointless, meaningless, and grinding, have been talking more about opting out, “quiet quitting,” and doing nothing. My guest would argue that, in fact, productivity itself isn’t the problem and that most people actually want to do good work. Instead, he says, it’s our whole approach to productivity that’s broken and needs to be transformed. Cal Newport is a professor of computer science and the author of books like Deep Work and Digital Minimalism. His latest book is Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout. Today on the show, Cal explains what’s led to the rise of what he calls “pseudo-productivity” and the fallout when we apply the structures of the industrial revolution to modern work. He then unpacks the tenets and tactics of the “slow productivity” approach to work, and how to implement them whether you work for yourself or for a boss. We discuss why you need to do fewer things in the short-term to do more things in the long term, the artificiality of working at the same intensity every day and how to inject more seasonality in your work, the role quiet quitting can play in achieving greater balance, and many other ideas on how to make modern work more sustainable, humane, and fruitful.

Transcribed - Published: 6 March 2024

The 5 Factors for Crafting Simple (Read: Effective!) Messages

Whether you’re a teacher, parent, or entrepreneur, you want to be able to persuade your students, children, and customers with your messages. That’s a tall task in the modern age, when people are bombarded with 13 hours of media a day. How do you cut through all that noise to make sure you’re heard? My guest would say it’s all about keeping things simple. Ben Guttmann is a marketing educator and consultant who’s helped promote everything from the NFL to New York Times-bestselling authors. He is himself the author of Simply Put: Why Clear Messages Win—and How to Design Them. Today on the show, Ben explains the gap between how people like to receive messages and the self-sabotaging, complication-introducing ways people tend to send them. We then talk about the five factors of effective marketing that anyone can use to close this gap and craft simple, effective, influential messages. We discuss why you should highlight something’s benefits rather than its features, the question to ask to figure out what those benefits are, how to replace “and” with “so” to create more focused messages, how the fad of using the F-word in book titles shows the transience of salience, how to make your message minimal by imagining it as a Jenga tower and how minimal isn’t the same thing as short, and much more, including Ben’s most immediately actionable tip for crafting better, simpler messages.

Transcribed - Published: 4 March 2024

The Misconceptions of HIIT (And the Role It Can Play in Your Fitness Routine)

You've probably heard of HIIT — high intensity interval training. In fact, you may feel so familiar with the idea that you think you understand it. But do you? People often hold some popular misconceptions about HIIT, and today we'll unpack what some of those are with Dr. Martin Gibala, a foremost researcher of this fitness modality and the author of The One-Minute Workout: Science Shows a Way to Get Fit That's Smarter, Faster, Shorter. Martin explains the main, underappreciated advantage of HIIT, which revolves around the "intensity-duration trade-off": the higher intensity you make exercise, the shorter your workouts can be while still triggering improvements in metabolism, cardiovascular health, and mitochondrial capacity. We get into the fact that the intensity of HIIT needn't be as high as you might think and that, contrary to popular belief, sprinting at intervals is actually a predominantly aerobic rather than anaerobic workout. Martin answers questions like whether Zone 2 cardio has an advantage over HIIT, if the so-called "afterburn effect" of HIIT is real, if you can do HIIT if you're older or have heart problems, and whether you should worry about the way HIIT can raise cortisol in the body. He also shares specific HIIT workouts you can do, including a walking interval workout and one of the best higher-intensity protocols to try.

Transcribed - Published: 28 February 2024

The Making of a Stoic Emperor

Perhaps you’ve read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, a book many turn to to learn and internalize the teachings of Stoic philosophy. But what do you know of the man who penned that seminal text? Here to help us get to know the philosopher and ruler is Donald Robertson, a cognitive-behavior psychotherapist and the author of Marcus Aurelius: The Stoic Emperor. Drawing on the Meditations, three ancient histories about Marcus’ life and character, and a cache of private letters between him and his rhetoric tutor, Donald unpacks how Marcus’ life shaped his approach to Stoicism, and how Stoicism shaped him. We discuss Marcus’ childhood and influences, his idea of manliness, the surprising significance of who he does and doesn’t mention in the Meditations, and how he used that journal as a kind of father figure. We also discuss how Marcus may have undergone training modeled on the Spartan agoge, how he came to attention as a successor to the emperorship, how he got turned on to Stoicism as medicine for the soul, and how he used the philosophy to deal with his tumultuous rule.

Transcribed - Published: 26 February 2024

The Secrets of Supercommunicators

Have you ever known one of those people who seemed to be able to connect with anyone? The kind of person who had the ability to make others feel understood and smoothly navigate even the trickiest of conversations? Charles Duhigg calls these folks "supercommunicators," and he's the author of a new book by the same name. Today on the show, Charles explains that what underlies supercommunicators' skill in connection is something called the matching principle, and he unpacks how it works and how you can put it to use in your own conversations. We discuss several techniques for how to figure out what kind of conversation you're having, so you can align your language and energy with the other person. And because emotional conversations can be particularly difficult, we dig into tactics for successfully navigating them, even when they contain a high degree of conflict. We also get into how to carry the skills of connection into your digital conversations.

Transcribed - Published: 21 February 2024

Busting the Myths of Marriage — Why Getting Hitched Still Matters

The marriage rate has come down 65% since 1970. There are multiple factors behind this decrease, but one of them is what we might call the poor branding that surrounds marriage in the modern day. From all corners of our culture and from both ends of the ideological spectrum come messages that marriage is an outdated institution, that it hinders financial success and personal fulfillment, and that it's even unimportant when it comes to raising kids. My guest would say that these ideas about marriage are very wrong, and he doesn't come at it from an emotionally-driven perspective, but from what's born out by the data. Dr. Brad Wilcox is a sociologist who heads the nonpartisan National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, which studies marriage and family life. He's also the author of Get Married. Today on the show, Brad discusses the latest research on marriage and how it belies the common narratives around the institution. We dig into the popular myths around marriage, and how it not only boosts your finances, but predicts happiness in life better than any other factor. Brad also shares the five pillars of marriage that happy couples embrace.

Transcribed - Published: 14 February 2024

Chasing Shackleton — Re-creating the World’s Greatest Journey of Survival

If you’ve ever read the classic book Endurance, you probably shivered and shuddered as you wondered what it would have been like to have undertaken Ernest Shackleton’s famously arduous Antarctic rescue mission. The adventurer Tim Jarvis did more than wonder. When Alexandra Shackleton challenged him to re-create her grandfather’s epic journey, he jumped at the chance to follow in the legendary explorer’s footsteps. Today on the show, Tim, the author of Chasing Shackleton: Re-creating the World’s Greatest Journey of Survival, first shares the story of Shackleton’s heroic effort to save the crew of his failed Antarctic expedition. Tim then tells us how he and his own crew replicated Shackleton’s journey over land and sea, from taking the same kind of rowboat to eating the same kind of rations — and the lessons in resilience and leadership he learned along the way.

Transcribed - Published: 12 February 2024

Night Visions — Understand and Get More Out of Your Dreams

When you really stop to think about it, it’s an astonishing fact that we spend a third of our lives asleep. And part of that time, we’re dreaming. What goes on during this unconscious state that consumes so much of our lives, and how can we use our dreams to improve our waking hours? Here to unpack the mysterious world of dreams is Alice Robb, the author of Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey. Today on the show, Alice first shares some background on the nature of dreams, why their content is often stress-inducing, and how they can influence our waking hours, from impacting our emotional health to helping us be more creative. We then turn to how to get more out of our dreams, including the benefits of keeping a dream journal and talking about your dreams with others. We also get into the world of lucid dreaming and some tips for how you can start controlling your dreams.

Transcribed - Published: 7 February 2024

Shakespeare on How Leaders Rise, Rule, and Fall

When people think of the plays of Shakespeare, they tend to think of his comedies and tragedies that spotlight interpersonal dynamics like love and jealousy, pretense and reality. But my guest would say that many of Shakepeare's plays, especially his sometimes overlooked histories, are also unmatchable in revealing the dynamics of power. Eliot Cohen is a military historian, political scientist, professor of international studies, and former State Department counselor, as well as the author of The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare on How Leaders Rise, Rule, and Fall. Today on the show Eliot takes us through what Shakepeare's plays can teach us about navigating the three-part arc of power: acquiring power, exercising power, and losing power. Along the way, we discuss how these lessons in leadership played out in the lives of real-life historical figures as well.

Transcribed - Published: 5 February 2024

Launch a Million-Dollar Business This Weekend

Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur but don’t have an idea for a business? Or have you been sitting on a business idea for years but have never gotten going with it? Well, after listening to this podcast and by the end of this weekend, you can have a business started that could ultimately make you a million bucks. Here to walk you through the process of becoming a near-overnight entrepreneur is Noah Kagan. Kagan is the founder of AppSumo, a software deals site, and half a dozen other multi-million-dollar businesses, as well as the author of Million Dollar Weekend: The Surprisingly Simple Way to Launch a 7-Figure Business in 48 Hours. Today on the show, Noah and I first discuss the two biggest obstacles that hold people back from starting a business and how to overcome them. We then turn to the practicalities of coming up with and vetting a business idea, how to find your first customers, and how to keep growing from there. Along the way, Noah and I share insights into how we turned AppSumo and Art of Manliness, respectively, from side hustles into rewarding careers.

Transcribed - Published: 31 January 2024

The Case for Minding Your Own Business

Attend the graduation of a college senior, and the commencement speech is likely to include a few themes: Do something big. Make a name for yourself. Change the world. My guest is not a fan of this advice, and says that rather than focusing on solving large-scale problems, we ought to concentrate on making things better in our own backyards. Brandon Warmke is a professor of philosophy and the co-author of Why It's OK to Mind Your Own Business. Today on the show, Brandon explains why what he calls "commencement speech morality" distorts our moral vision by emphasizing one version of the good and valuable life, at the expense of the value and good of a life marked by "ordinary morality." Brandon first unpacks the dangers of intervening in other people's business, including becoming a moralizer and a busybody. He then makes a case for the benefits of minding your own business and putting down roots, creating a good home, and living in solitude, and for how a smaller, quieter life can still be generous, important, and noble.

Transcribed - Published: 29 January 2024

The Mundanity of Excellence

Forty years ago, now retired professor of sociology Daniel Chambliss performed a field study in which he observed an elite swim team to figure out what it was that led to excellence in any endeavor. As Chambliss shared in a paper entitled “The Mundanity of Excellence,” the secret he discovered is that there really is no secret, and that success is more ordinary than mystical. As mundane as the factors and qualities that lead to excellence really are, they can still run contrary to what we sometimes think makes for high achievement. Today on the show, I unpack the sometimes unexpected elements of excellence with Daniel. We discuss how desire is more important than discipline, the central role of one’s social group and surrounding yourself with the best of the best, the outsized importance of the small things, why you need to make being good your job, why motivation is mundane, and why you need to keep a sense of mundanity even as you become excellent.

Transcribed - Published: 24 January 2024

A Guide to Protecting Yourself Against Unexpected Violence

When Sam Rosenberg was 20 years old and working as a bouncer in a bar, a disgruntled patron pointed a gun directly at his chest and told him: “Now I’m going to kill you.” Sam survived the incident but it caused him to question what he thought he knew about self-defense and sent him on a decades-long quest to figure out how people can best protect themselves and others. Today on the show, I talk to Sam, an expert in personal protection and the author of Live Ready: A Guide to Protecting Yourself in an Uncertain World, about his self-defense philosophy and how you can use it in your life to stay safe from violent threats. Sam makes the case that understanding how the mind works under life-or-death stress is the foundation of protecting yourself. We unpack that idea, as well as the phases of the timeline of violence, the phase you can exercise the most control in to deter a violent encounter and how to know when you’re in that phase, how to convey you’re a hard target that predators don’t want to mess with, and much more.

Transcribed - Published: 22 January 2024

Come Alive Again by Having More Fun

Reflect on something for a second: when was the last time you had fun? Are you having trouble remembering, and if you think about it, is it actually kind of hard to even describe what fun is, even? Don’t worry, if you feel like fun’s gone missing from your life, and are feeling a little dead inside as a result, Catherine Price and I are here to offer you a fun-tervention. Catherine is the author of The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again, and today on the show we discuss the three elements of true fun and how it differs from fake fun, how to conduct a fun audit so you can identify your personal fun magnets, how to get a greater kick out of your life, and why you really need to have a Ferris Bueller day.

Transcribed - Published: 17 January 2024

An Insider's Guide to the Rise of the American Mafia

You're probably familiar with the American mafia, at least through its portrayal in popular culture. But how did this infamous secret society come to be? Louis Ferrante traces its origins in the first volume of his slated trilogy on the subject, entitled Borgata: Rise of Empire: A History of the American Mafia. While there's been plenty written on the mafia, Ferrante, who was incarcerated for being a mobster himself, offers the first insider's history of this crime organization. Today on the show, he shares the surprising influences on the formation of the mafia in Sicily, why Louisiana and not New York was actually the mob's American Plymouth Rock, the unexpected collaboration between the government and the mafia during WWII, the real reason J. Edgar Hoover didn't go after the mob, why that hands-off approach changed, and much more.

Transcribed - Published: 15 January 2024

How Curiosity Conversations Can Supercharge Your Success

Brian Grazer is a Hollywood producer whose films and television shows have been nominated for 43 Academy Awards and 217 Emmys and grossed $15 billion worldwide. He's produced everything from my favorite TV show of all time, Friday Night Lights, to critically-acclaimed and Oscar-winning films like Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind. Grazer credits much of his success to his commitment to a practice he calls "curiosity conversations." Today on the show, I talk to Grazer, who's also the co-author of A Curious Mind Expanded Edition: The Secret to a Bigger Life, about why he considers curiosity conversations the “superpower” that fueled his rise as one of Hollywood’s leading producers. We talk about how these curiosity conversations are beneficial to have with everyone from VIPs to ordinary folks, how the ideas and connections they foster can enhance both your personal and professional life, what makes a curiosity conversation effective, and how to make them happen.

Transcribed - Published: 10 January 2024

Feeling Depressed and Discombobulated? Social Acceleration May Be to Blame

The social theorist Charles Taylor says that part of what characterizes a secular age is that there are multiple competing options for what constitutes the good life. The sociologist Hartmut Rosa argues that modern citizens most often locate that good in optionality, speed, and reach, which creates a phenomenon he calls “social acceleration.” Professor of theology Andrew Root explores the ideas of Taylor, Rosa, and social acceleration in his work, including in his book The Congregation in a Secular Age. While Andy largely looks at social acceleration through the lens of its effect on churches, it has implications for every aspect of our lives, from work to family. We explore those implications today on the show, unpacking the way that seeking stability through growth leads to feelings of depression, exhaustion, and discombobulation, how we collect possibilities while not knowing what we’re aiming for, and how we’ve traded the burden of shoulds for the burden of coulds. We discuss how social acceleration has shifted the horizons and significance of time, how time has to be hollowed out to be sped up, and how the solution to the ill effects of social acceleration isn’t just slowing down, but finding more resonance.

Transcribed - Published: 8 January 2024

The Power of NEAT — Move a Little to Lose a Lot

Do you have a goal to lose weight? If so, you're probably thinking about how you need to exercise more. And that can certainly help. But what about the 23 hours a day you're not at the gym? How much you move during those hours — from walking to the mailbox to fidgeting at your desk — can be just as important in winning the battle of the bulge. Here to explain the importance of what's called non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, is Dr. James Levine, a professor, the co-director of the Mayo Clinic's Obesity Solutions Initiative, the inventor of the treadmill desk, and the author of Get Up!: Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It. James explains how much more sedentary we are than we used to be and what happens to your body when, as the average American does, you spend two-thirds of your day sitting. He shares how doing the lightest kinds of physical activity, even standing more, can help you lose a significant amount of weight and improve other aspects of health, from your sleep to your mood. And we talk about how to easily incorporate more NEAT into your day.

Transcribed - Published: 3 January 2024

The Feel-Good Method of Productivity

When we think about getting more done, we tend to think about working harder, exerting more willpower, and buckling down; we tend to think of doing things that are unpleasant, but that we deem worth it, for the productivity boost they offer. But what if the key to greater productivity ran the other way round, and the easier and more enjoyable you made your work, the more of it you’d get done? That’s the premise of Ali Abdaal’s new book Feel-Good Productivity. In addition to being a new author, Ali is a doctor, a YouTuber, and the world’s most followed productivity expert. Today on the show, Ali unpacks the three prongs of his feel-good approach to productivity: energerize, unblock, and sustain. We talk about how to inject your work with more play, flip the confidence switch, find joy in increasing your power, harness relational energy, and use the 10-10-10 rule for overcoming hesitation in taking action. We also discuss why smart goals aren’t always effective and what’s a better alternative, why you might want to put a five-minute hourglass on your desk, the three types of burnout and how to overcome each, and much more.

Transcribed - Published: 1 January 2024

Declutter, Downsize, and Move Forward With Your Life

Note: This is a rebroadcast. You want to declutter. You want to downsize. You want to live more simply. So what’s been holding you back from getting closer to those ideals? My guest today sorts through both the psychological and practical roadblocks that can get in the way of living more minimally, and more in the present. His name is Matt Paxton, and he’s a downsizing and decluttering expert, a featured cleaner on the television show Hoarders, the host of the Emmy-nominated show Legacy List With Matt Paxton which showcases people’s heirlooms and treasures, and the author of Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff: Declutter, Downsize, and Move Forward with Your Life. We begin our conversation with how Matt got into cleaning out houses and working with hoarders, and some of the worst cases of hoarding Matt’s seen. We then get into both the mindset and brass tacks tips he’s learned from the most extreme cases of clutter that can be used by regular people who just want to pare down their stuff. We talk about why we can feel so attached to our possessions, and how to let them go, while still preserving your and your family’s memories. Matt recommends how and where to get started with your decluttering, and offers tools, including creating a “maybe pile” and a “legacy list,” for deciding what to keep and what to chuck, whether you’re dealing with big items like furniture or small stuff like documents and pictures. Matt explains what to do with your stuff whether trashing, donating, upcycling, or selling, and how much you can reasonably expect to get when you do the latter (spoiler alert: it’s a lot less than you think). We end our conversation with how, after you’ve decluttered your place, to keep it from getting clogged up again. Oh, and we also discuss where to find hidden stashes of money when you’re cleaning out the house of an older person who’s died. This is a really fun and interesting conversation that definitely motivated me to clean out our house.

Transcribed - Published: 26 December 2023

Duty, Honor, and the Unlikely Heroes Who Helped Win the Battle of the Bulge

The Battle of the Bulge commenced on the morning of December 16, 1944. The Allies were ill-prepared for this last, desperate offensive from the Germans, and the campaign might have succeeded if a few things hadn’t gotten in their way, including a single, green, 18-man platoon who refused to give up their ground to the Nazis. Alex Kershaw shares the story of these men in his book, The Longest Winter, and with us today on the show. He first explains the background of the Battle of the Bulge and how an Intelligence and Reconnaissance unit that had never seen combat ended up in the thick of it. And he describes the platoon’s 20-year-old leader, Lyle Bouk, who was determined to carry out his orders and hold their position despite being massively outmanned and outgunned, and how his men fought until they were down to their last rounds. Alex then shares how what Bouk thought was a total failure — being captured as POWs after just a day of combat — turned out to have been an effort that significantly influenced the outcome of the Battle of the Bulge, and how an unlikely platoon of heroes who initially went unrecognized for their valor became the most decorated American platoon of WWII. You’ll find such an inspiring lesson in this show about living up to your duty and holding the line.

Transcribed - Published: 20 December 2023

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