The Art of Manliness

The Art of Manliness

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Podcast by The Art of Manliness

Episodes

#337: What Homer's Odyssey Can Teach Us Today  

I love many of the classic myths and poems of ancient Greece. My favorite, though, is The Odyssey. While on the surface it seems to just be another epic adventure story, if you dig deeper, The Odyssey can give you insights on fatherhood, marriage, and surviving in a world that’s in constant flux.  My guest today recently published a book exploring these themes in The Odyssey, particularly the theme of fathers and sons searching for each other. His name is Daniel Mendelsohn, and he's a classicist, essayist, and book critic. In his latest book, "An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic," Daniel shares the experience of having his 81-year-old father enroll as a student in the undergrad seminar he taught on The Odyssey and the insights he gleaned about his relationship with his dad by looking at the father-son relationships explored in the epic poem. We begin our conversation with a big picture overview of The Odyssey and why Daniel’s dad decided to take his seminar on it. Daniel and I then discuss what we can learn about the relationship between sons and fathers from Odysseus' relationships both with his son Telemachus, and with his father Laertes. We then shift to what we can learn from Odysseus and his wife Penelope on forming a strong marriage, how travel can change us, and why The Odyssey becomes more relevant to men when they have families of their own.  This is a fun podcast filled with amazing insights about one of the greatest stories ever told. After you listen to it, you’ll want to dust off your copy of The Odyssey itself so you can read it with fresh eyes.

#336: Master Your Testosterone  

#336: Master Your Testosterone by The Art of Manliness

#335: Exploring Archetypes With Jordan B. Peterson  

The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Genesis creation story, Bhagavad Gita. These are just a few examples of the myths and stories that explain human existence. Individuals like Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell have argued that while these myths sprang from different cultures, they all share similar archetypes and meta-narratives. My guest today has picked up where Jung and Campbell left off and is making an impassioned case that the way to save ourselves from increasing political polarization is to become acquainted with these ancient human myths once again. His name is Jordan B. Peterson and he’s a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto. But unlike many clinical psychologists, Dr. Peterson has spent his career studying human myths and how they can provide meaning in a world of tragedy and frustration. Today on the show, Jordan provides an introduction to the world of myths and archetypes. We begin our discussion talking about some of the big archetypes we see over and over again in stories across cultures and time, and why they show up everywhere.  We then discuss feminine and masculine archetypes in detail, how the hero archetype is the link between the two, and examples of the hero archetype from around the world. Jordan argues that disregarding or ignoring these ancient myths led to the rise of extreme political ideologies in the early 20th century, as well as their resurgence today. We end our conversation discussing how these myths can help young men journey into noble manhood, and the books Jordan recommends young men read to learn more about them. While the subject may seem heady, this is an accessible and fun conversation, filled with insights about how to live a flourishing, meaningful life. You’ll definitely be thinking about its ideas after the show is over.

#334: When Violence Is the Answer  

We’re often told violence is never the answer. My guest today would argue that not only is that idea wrong, it's also extremely dangerous. He says that sometimes violence is the answer, and that when it is, it’s the only answer.  His name is Tim Larkin and he’s a self-defense expert and the founder of Target Focus Training. Tim has trained military, law enforcement, and civilians on how to use violence to protect themselves. In his latest book, "When Violence Is the Answer," Tim makes a convincing case that civilians need to change their mindset about violence if they want to protect themselves and their family. Today on the show, Tim and I discuss what he means by violence and why it's often the only possible response to violence. He then goes into detail about the difference between antisocial aggression and asocial violence and how to respond to both. We then discuss why good people should study criminals on how to use violence more effectively. We end our conversation by exploring how knowing how to kill and maim people can counterintuitively make you a more peaceful and gentle man.

#333: Solitude & Leadership  

About a year ago, I had cultural critic William Deresiewicz on the podcast to discuss, among other things, a speech he gave at West Point in 2010 on the power of solitude in making better leaders. It’s a powerful speech and my guest today is one of the individuals who was impacted by it. So much so that he spent seven years researching and writing a book on the intersection of solitude and leadership. His name is Mike Erwin and he’s the co-author of the book "Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude."  Today on the show, Mike and I discuss why solitude is more than just secluding yourself from other people, why it's so hard to come by in the information age, and how leadership in our governments and businesses have suffered due to the lack of solitude. We then dig deep into specific benefits that solitude can give leaders by looking at case studies from history. Mike shares how solitude practices enabled Dwight D. Eisenhower to make big, analytical decisions like launching D-Day, helped Lawrence of Arabia and General Ulysses S. Grant come up with creative war strategies, allowed Abraham Lincoln to keep himself emotionally stable during the Civil War, and gave Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pope John Paul II the moral courage to stand up for what they believed in. We end our show discussing practical ways you can inject some more solitude into your own life, no matter how noisy and busy it is.

#332: What Does It Mean to Be Authentic?  

We live in a world that puts a premium on being “authentic” and “showing your true self.”  But what exactly is your authentic and true self? For example, is it your natural tendency to be a curmudgeon, or your concerted effort to be kind and generous?  Which one is the “real” you? My guest today has grappled with those questions for most of his career as a psychologist, with a focus on personality research. His name is Brian Little and he’s the author of "Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being," as well as the recently published book, "Who Are You, Really?" Today on the show, Brian and I have a fascinating discussion on the world of personality science that will leave you wondering who you really are. We begin our conversation discussing the various factors that influence our personalities, including genetics, social environments, and self-direction. Brian then digs into the debate on whether our personalities are set in stone or if they can change, even into old age. We then discuss whether personality tests, like the Myers-Briggs, actually tell you anything about your personality, and if there are better assessments out there.  We end our conversation discussing how simply changing environments can change our personalities, how we can willfully change them ourselves, and what the “real” you actually is. You're in for an enlightening existential conversation that also provides actionable insights on how you can live a more flourishing life.

#331: The Difference Between Essentialists and Non-Essentialists  

Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you feel like you're always busy but not productive? Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?  If you can answer yes to any of those questions, today's episode is for you. I talk to business consultant Greg McKeown about his book "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less." In it, Greg argues that by doing less we can actually not only be more productive, but, more importantly, get more of the right things done in life. We begin our conversation talking about the differences between an essentialist and a non-essentialist, and why essentialists look at every decision with a 100-year view. Greg then shares how you can apply essentialist principles to your work so that you can convince your boss that maybe some of the stuff you’re working on isn’t that important. We then discuss why taking time for play, sleeping, or doing absolutely nothing can sometimes be the most productive thing you can do. Greg then shares tips on how to say no to people without feeling like a jerk and why adding buffer to your life is an important part of being an essentialist.  This podcast is filled with both brass tacks advice and deep insights about living a flourishing life. You’re going to want to take notes.

#330: The Life Skills Every Man Should Know  

What skills and knowledge sets does a man need to have in order to be effective and self-reliant? My guest has spent the past few years thinking about this topic and putting down his ideas in a series of books he calls Modules For Manhood. His name is Kenneth W. Royce. I had Kenneth on the show a few years ago to talk about the first volume of Modules for Manhood. Today on the show, we take a look at "Modules for Manhood Volume 2." We begin by discussing what it means “to cope with the world” and why many young men today aren’t equipped to do so. Kenneth then shares some strategies on how you can find the time and money to learn new skills. Next we dig into some of the specific skills he highlights in his book, including how to teach, managing your time, and how to become a leader by learning to be a good follower. We end our conversation talking about problem solving and why every man should get his pilot’s license.  This episode is a hodgepodge of insights on becoming a well-rounded man, from a man who has spent his life trying to become well-rounded himself.

#329: Stick With It — The Science of Behavior Change  

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably got some habits you’d like to change: maybe you want to quit smoking or eat better or check your phone less. And if you’re like most people, you’ve probably tried making those changes, and failed. And after failing again and again, you just gave up.  My guest today is a psychologist who specializes in helping people make real, lasting change in their lives. His name is Sean Young and he’s the director of the UCLA Center of Digital Behavior and the author of the book "Stick with It: A Scientifically Proven Process For Changing Your Life—for Good." Today on the show, Sean explains why most of our approaches to personal change fail, and the scientifically proven process he and his team have developed to help people make lasting change. Sean shares several tactics that — when used in combination — can help you finally make those changes you’ve long desired. We discuss why creating small wins is important in habit change and what we can learn from cults on how to effectively change ourselves. We then discuss how we can alter our environment to facilitate transformation, as well as “neurohacks” that can shortcut the brain’s hardwired instincts. At the end, Sean ties all these concepts together to provide listeners with a roadmap to finally sticking with a habit change.

#328: The Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting  

During the past 10 years or so there’s been a lot of chatter about the health benefits of intermittent fasting — that is, going without food for a short window of time on a regular basis. Some of the touted benefits of intermittent fasting include shredding body fat while maintaining muscle, improving blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, increasing longevity, and improving focus. But how many of those purported benefits are real and how many of them are just hype?  Well, my guest today is a nutrition scientist who has spent the past several years researching and experimenting with intermittent fasting to find out the answers to those questions. His name is John Berardi and he’s the co-owner of Precision Nutrition, an online nutrition coaching company. John has written a free ebook that highlights all the latest research on intermittent fasting as well as his personal experiments with several different IF protocols. Today on the show John cuts through the hype of intermittent fasting and gives us a nuanced look at the benefits and downsides of this diet method. If you’ve been thinking about trying intermittent fasting, you don’t want to miss this show. John breaks down exactly who should use IF and who shouldn’t, and what kinds of results to expect when you fast.

#327: Heading Out — A History of Camping  

Camping is one of America’s favorite pastimes. About 50 million Americans head out into the wilderness each year to refresh and reinvigorate themselves.  While it may seem like camping as a recreational activity has always been around, camping as we know it today is actually relatively new. For most of human history, camping is what you did during war or on a hunting or fishing expedition. It wasn’t something you just did for fun in and of itself. So how did camping become a modern pastime? My guest today explores the answer to this question in his latest book. His name is Terence Young and he's the author of "Heading Out: A History of American Camping." Terry and I begin the show discussing how camping got its start as an anti-modern revolt after the Civil War, and the New England minister who wrote a book that would kickstart the camping craze in America in the 19th century. Terry then shares how businesses responded to the growing number of campers in America by creating and marketing products and goods to make camping easier, and how these products began a debate about which sort of camper is the most authentic camper — a debate which remains today. We end our conversation talking about the rituals of camping, why all campsites in America look exactly the same, and the state of camping today.  This is a great episode to listen to on your way to a weekend camp trip, or when you're dreaming of your next outing on the way to work.

#326: Why Boys Are Struggling & What We Can Do To Help Them  

While there’s been a big push in recent decades to help girls thrive in school and in the workplace, boys in America have quietly been struggling. For example, boys are more likely to have learning and discipline issues in school and are less likely to graduate high school than girls, more women are now attending college than men and are earning more bachelors and masters degrees than men, the incarceration rate for boys has increased in the past few decades, and suicide rates have increased among teenage boys. What’s more, teachers and therapists have reported that boys seem increasingly disengaged from school and life. If boys are having so much trouble, why don’t we hear more about it? And more importantly, what can we do as parents, teachers, and mentors to help them? My guest today has spent his career researching childhood development and helping boys become fulfilled men. His name is Michael Gurian, and in his latest book, "Saving Our Sons: A New Path for Raising Healthy and Resilient Boys," he provides insights on why America’s boy problem is ignored, as well as concrete steps that parents and mentors can take to help these young men grow up well. Today on the show, Michael explains what the "Dominant Gender Paradigm" is and why it causes institutions to ignore the problems of boys and young men, what people get wrong about male violence, and what male anhedonia is. He then argues that if we want to help boys (and girls) we need to approach things from what he calls a "Nature Based Theory," which recognizes that while boys and girls have a lot in common, there are biological differences that influence the way boys learn, socialize, and behave. Michael then provides concrete things parents and schools can do to cater to these differences in boys to help them thrive and become resilient men. If you’re the parent of boy or if you teach or mentor young boys, you don’t want to miss this episode.

#325: Leading Quietly  

When we think of being a good leader, we often think we need to be a bold, visionary, risk-taking type like Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, or Steve Jobs. But my guest today argues that most of the day-to-day work that makes the world function is done by individuals who stand outside the limelight and lead with calm confidence. His name is Joseph Badaracco and he’s the author of the book "Leading Quietly: An Unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing." Today on the show, Joe and I discuss the heroic archetype of leadership, why most leadership development books and courses focus on it, and why heroic leadership can actually get in the way of an organization’s success. He then shares the qualities of a quiet leader and why they’re often more effective than heroic leaders at getting things done in an organization. We end our conversation by exploring the Aristotelian approach to leadership that most quiet leaders utilize and how you can start using those same principles today in your work, community, and family.

#324: How Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith Are the Cure for Sad Clown Syndrome  

If you’re like many modern men, you might have a pretty good life — a decent job, a family, a home, maybe a few hobbies. Despite having the appearance of a good life, though, you feel kind of empty inside. Like you’re missing something.  My guests today would argue that what you’ve got is a case of Sad Clown Syndrome and to get over it, you need to get together with some men and do some burpees.  Their names are Dave Redding and Tim Whitmire and they’re the leaders of a grassroots movement bringing men together for free workouts called F3, which stands for Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith. According to them, they’ve seen tens of thousands of men not only get physically in shape by attending F3 workouts, but reenergize themselves mentally and spiritually.  Today on the show, Dave and Tim share the origins of F3 and how they realized it was solving the problem of Sad Clown Syndrome in the lives of American men. They then detail what the symptoms of Sad Clown Syndrome are, and how exactly F3 acts as a remedy. We then discuss why male friends are so important in a man’s life and why the typical guys that men call friends aren’t really friends. We end our conversation by discussing what the 3 Fs in F3 mean, including why the “Faith” component is more about having a purpose beyond yourself and less about religion.

#323: Improve Your Breathing, Improve Your Health  

Take a breath right now. Did your chest go up and down? Congratulations, you just failed at breathing. Don’t worry, my guest today on the show will set you straight. Her name is Belisa Vranich. She’s a clinical psychologist who has made a career re-training people on how to breathe correctly and in her latest book, "Breathe," she provides a step-by-step program to help people breathe better. Today on the show, Belisa explains all the ill health and psychological effects of poor breathing, like increased stress, poor sleep, poor mental function, and even poor digestion, as well as why so many people mess up this seemingly simple and automatic bodily process. She then walks listeners through how to take a proper breath and even shares some exercises you can do to train yourself to breathe better and improve your all-around health. This is an extremely practical podcast, and you’re going to feel great after you do the breathing exercises Belisa lays out.

#322: Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong  

My guest today is Eric Barker, author of "Barking Up the Wrong Tree." We all know those collective maxims on success: nice guys finish last; it’s not what you know, it’s who you know; winners never quit.  We’ve heard them so often that we accept them as articles of faith.  But are they really true?  My guest today says, yes…and no. His name is Eric Barker and he’s the author of one of the few blogs I regularly read: Barking Up the Wrong Tree. There, he takes a look at what actual research says about these tried-and-true maxims of success and provides a nuanced, often counterintuitive look at them. He’s recently taken some of his best writing from 8 years at the blog, expanded on it, and turned it into a book by the same name.  Today on the show, Eric and I discuss why most of the ideas we have about success are wrong and what we can do to be better advice sleuths. Eric shares research that shows why high school valedictorians are less likely to become millionaires or influential leaders, and what that teaches us on the importance of knowing ourselves. He then breaks down the idea that nice guys always finish last, and how it’s both true and false at the same time. We then discuss why grit can sometimes be overrated and why winners in fact always quit. We end our conversation discussing why being a glad-handing extrovert can both garner success and sew the seeds of failure, and how the idea of work/life balance is making people more miserable than ever, as well as what you can do about it.  Lots of fascinating tidbits in this show that you can implement right away to improve your life. Plenty of great cocktail party fodder as well.

#321: How to Think About Money  

Personal finance can seem intimidating, but the reality is it’s pretty basic — save more than you spend, find ways to earn more, invest for the long-term, and protect your assets. But if personal finance is so easy, why do so many people screw it up? My guest today has spent his career exploring this topic. His name is Jonathan Clements and he’s been The Wall Street Journal’s personal finance columnist for years. During his writing career, he’s also published several popular personal finance books including "The Little Book of Main Street Money." In his latest book, "How to Think About Money," Jonathan distills decades of personal finance experience into punchy, insightful, and action-oriented advice. Today on the show, Jonathan and I discuss the most common money mistakes people make and the psychological biases that cause us to make them. Jonathan then shares research-backed advice on how money can buy you happiness…and also misery. Just depends on how you use it. He then delves into brass tacks tips on how to save for retirement no matter how old you are, how to overcome your psychological biases so you don’t make stupid money mistakes, and why focusing on not losing money will help you have more money in the long run. Lots of actionable advice to enhance your finances in this episode.

#320: The ADHD Explosion  

You’ve probably heard about the precipitous rise in diagnoses of ADHD in America the past few decades. What was once a rare mental illness has now become a common problem amongst children -- particularly boys. Why the sudden spike? Are there really more people with ADHD or is something else going on? My guest today has some possible answers to that question. His name is Steve Hinshaw and he's a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley. In his book, "The ADHD Explosion," Dr. Hinshaw gives the lay reader a crash course into ADHD and provides some insights as to why we’re seeing such a huge spike in the number of individuals diagnosed with it. We begin our conversation talking about what exactly ADHD is and how it impairs individuals. We then discuss the biological and environmental causes of ADHD, debunk some of the myths surrounding it, and discuss which treatments actually work. Dr. Hinshaw then delves into his research which shows that the rise in ADHD is not because more people are actually developing it, but rather that cultural and economic forces in schools, corporations, and governments incentivize shoddy diagnoses. We also discuss the fact that ADHD medication is often used by people who don’t have ADHD in order to perform better, and whether it actually improves performance for these folks or not. We end with a discussion about his new book, "Another Kind of Madness," and the stigma of mental illness in America.

#318: Exploring Life's Trails, Literally and Metaphorically  

My guest today is Robert Moor, author of "On Trails: An Exploration." ______________ One of my favorite things to do in life is to find and hike a trail out in the wilds. I love how a good trail gently leads you through nature. You don’t have to think much about where you’re going, so it gives you time to think about other things. It's great for chewing on deep issues and getting new insights, but it also causes you to take the trail for granted. For example, I sometimes forget that a group of people blazed the trail I’m enjoying and that another group continues to maintain it without any fanfare.   My guest today decided to stop taking trails for granted and to explore them in-depth -- both literally and metaphorically -- after his own hike on the Appalachian Trail. His name is Robert Moor and he’s the author of the book "On Trails: An Exploration." Today on the show, Robert shares why he decided to hike the entire Appalachian Trail after he graduated from college and why that experience led him to diving into the deeper meaning of trails.   We then discuss why following a trail is so existentially satisfying and how trails are embedded in human thought and communication and provide us with a sense of place and orientation in our lives.   We end our conversation talking about the idealistic origins of the Appalachian Trail, the movement to extend the Appalachian Trail to Morocco (yes, Morocco), and what a perpetual hiker named Nimblewill Nomad can teach us about the limits of freedom.   If you’re a hiker, you’re going to love this show. If you’re not a hiker, it’s going to inspire you to find a trail this weekend and become one.

#317: Why Your First Impression Matters & How to Improve It  

My guest today is a psychologist who specializes in the science of first impressions and has written the most useful and thorough book on the topic that I've come across. Her name is Ann Demarais and her book is "First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You." Today on the show, Ann explains how quickly we make a first impression and the psychological biases that influence how people judge you (and how you judge others).  We then dig into what you should focus on during a first interaction to give a good impression and the behaviors you may think come off as neutral or positive but actually read in a negative way. For example, you may think you’re giving off a relaxed vibe during a social interaction, but others might see you as aloof. Ann explains how to find these blind spots in your self-awareness and what to do about them.  We end our conversation by going through some actionable tips to become more charismatic, like how to keep a conversation going when your first meet someone, how to show interest in someone without looking creepy, and the common mistakes men make with their first impressions. And if you happen to blow your first impression, Ann shares how to recover.

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