The James Altucher Show

The James Altucher Show

United States

Altucher Show Description

Episodes

Ep. 207 - Chris Smith: Did you ever wish you were them? Your Heroes?  

“We all lived through it. But one fun or interesting realizations I came to in reporting the book was... Can we curse on your podcast?”   “Yeah. Anything goes.”   “... Is just how much shit happened in the world between 1999 and 2015.”   Chris Smith is the author of The New York Times bestseller, “The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests.”   He interviewed 144 people, including the host Jon Stewart, Craig Kilborn, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and so many other people.   “You know, Jon Stewart’s a guy who had an upper-middle-ish class upbringing in New Jersey, went to William and Mary, came into comedy sideways. He wasn't sure exactly what he was going to do after college.”   I needed to know how Jon Stewart did it. How he redefined Late Night. How he broke out and rose to the top of comedy. And how he used humor to disrupt it all — mainstream media, mainstream politics, the news.   “He would wear the same thing in the office everyday: a pair of work boots, a pair of chinos, the same t-shirt, the same Mets hat. And well, they’d rag on him about being a slob. There was—and not to get cheaply psychological—something Jon was communicating… He was simplifying a lot of the extraneous stuff and getting to work.”   Here’s what I learned from Chris Smith about comedy, change and the combination that changed the world:   1) Ask the right questions Jon showed up every day and asked, “What was in the news? What's funny about it? What's our point of view?”   Everyday, I ask, “Who can I help today?” It keeps me open to the day. It gives me a fresh perspective. That’s part of reinvention.   Always looking. Always starting over. Always asking, “What’s missing here?” And then filling that gap.   2)  Change the format Jon did a “Bush vs. Bush” segment.   First you see a clip of Governor Bush talking about Iraq and saying, “We're not here to nation-build.” Then you see Bush as president saying the complete opposite. "We're going to nation-build in Iraq."   Jon didn’t point out the hypocrisy. He could’ve. But that wouldn't have been funny.   Instead, he played dumb. He pretended he didn’t know it was the same person contradicting himself.   That’s what made it funny.   He removed knowledge from the situation. And got the attention of millions. Eventually, making real change. They even had an effect on some big issues.   “They made an eight or nine-minute mock detective movie. They took one veteran and tried to trace his paperwork through the Veterans Administration. They kept running into ridiculous roadblocks, but it was also moving. It gave you a sense of how much this guy was going through to get medical care,” Chris said. “That ended up shaming the Veterans Administration and changing a lot of those rules and regulations.”   He also transformed media.   “Loosely,” Chris says.   But, in old media you couldn’t find the truth like you can today. It would take weeks of research. Now with the Internet you can search and find anything. And turn it around in 24 hours.   Chris talked to Anderson Cooper. He said the mainstream media world was always aware of “The Daily Show.” They didn’t want to get made fun…   “And, inevitably, you did.”   3) Ignore the traps “You've got, in many cases, a lot of ambitious, competitive, eccentric people,” he said. “You put them in a room and give them a deadline and that can lead to a lot of clashes.” But Jon didn’t get stuck in the trappings of show business.   Which is easy to do in any career.     But if you use your idea of how things could be to fuel creation, you get a leg up.   You get “The Daily Show.”   4) Live in two worlds “What about when you were writing the book? Did you ever wish you were them? Did you ever feel like, ‘I'm covering them, but I want to be them’?”   I knew my answer. And Chris’s answer was more or less the same.   “No…”   “In some fantasy world... sure.” -  

Ep. 206 - Steven Johnson: Why You Have to Replace Ambition with Play  

I wish I was as smart as Steven Johnson. I asked him, “What is your one favorite thing that everybody thinks is bad for you that is actually good for you?” He didn’t want to tell me. “My kids might listen to this later,” he said. But he told me... He's the author of "Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation," "Everything Bad is Good for you," and the recent "Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World"— how the idea of "play" more than anything else, is what created the modern world. “I regret saying this a little, but, the assumption that video games are just a terrible waste of time and that this generation is growing up playing these stupid games is really… it’s so wrong," he said. He was talking about using play for education reform. "If you think about it, we walk around with a bunch of assumptions of what a learning experience is supposed to look like: listening to a lecture, watching an educational video, taking an exam to test your learning." I was gonna puke.  “I’ve been watching my kids play Battlefield 1, which is set in WWI. And it’s amazing.” “I sit and watch my kids play and ask what they’re thinking about. Because as a grown up who doesn’t play the game you can’t process it. There’s just so much going on in the world. They’re playing this multiplayer game, in this incredibly vivid landscape with a million data points streaming across the screen.” His doesn't understand it. And his kids don’t understand how he doesn’t understand it...  “Didn’t you see the signal I got? And how this one piece of the interface was telling me to do xy and z?” “All I can see is there’s a gun and a Zeplin. I’m 48,” he said. We’re the same age. “Does that make me middle aged?” “We’re old." Kids are basically gonna destroy us. We’re the one’s who are going to end up in diapers. They started off there, we end up there. Unless… We play, too. So here’s what Steven found out. One would ask, that sounds ridiculous: how did "play" create the Industrial Revolution. Or all the wars of the past 500 years. Or all the innovations we've seen with the Internet, which was initially funded by the military. What does "play" have to do with it? Everything. And that's what makes Steven Johnson so infuriating. He'll take two concepts that seem like they have nothing to do with each other and he'll say, THIS caused THAT! And I'd shake my head and cry and ask, "How is that even possible?" And then he'll show me. Because he traces his curiosity. It’s like when you start clicking all the hyperlinks in a Wikipedia page. And seeing how everything is connected. Steven connects the dots and puts them in a book for you. If I were to recreate a robotic Steven Johnson (hmmm, actually, maybe he is a robot. Or at least has a Cylon brain or maybe Bradley Cooper's brain from Limitless) I'd have to feed in 10,000 books or so, and this ability to find every possible cross connection between every two ideas mentioned in the books. And then he spits it out in his masterpieces. As I told him in the beginning of the podcast: I enjoy a lot of books. A lot of books are great even. But your books and only a few others are among the only books where I read it and I feel like my IQ is going up. I made up a game in fact, based on his books. Maybe someone should make the card game for this. Here's two random concepts. Tell me how they are connected. Example: The lengthening of shop windows in London in the 1600s and the rise of American slavery in the 1800s. I’m not making this up. One really caused the other. Steven calls it “the hummingbird effect.” It’s different from the butterfly effect where the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can cause a hurricane. That’s chance. The hummingbird effect is traceable. “It has to be 2-3 steps removed,” he said. “And you have to be really rigorous about when it just doesn’t work.” You play to find the links. I told him this idea. He laughed and said, "I should do that." Example: The laugh of Sputnik, led direction to Tinder. In the podcast, we spoke about how humans have this evolutionary need not only for food and reproduction (Darwin's well-trodden theories), but also novelty. Example: Gutenberg in the 1400s led to the study of genomics. And that novelty and play gave us energy and initiative to produce discoveries ranging from the cotton gin, the steam engine, world exploration, and the Internet. Example: a tree used by the Mayans to make games led directly to car tires. What I really wanted to explore in the podcast was not o

Ep. 204 - Mike Massimino: The Ultimate Thrill Seeking Profession  

Mike Massimino failed his PhD the first time. Failed the astronaut test the first three times. Failed to get the highest evaluation when he walked into space the first time. And almost destroyed the Hubble Telescope on the last attempt the US was going to make to fix it. But he did it. He did it all. Two things I noticed about him. One thing is he kept saying things to me like, “I wasn’t the smartest in X but…” He said that about his classmates. He said that about his neighbors. He said this about his fellow co-workers. He said this out in the middle of outer space. 350,000 miles away from home. In my podcast, years later, he was still saying that. He's a liar. He got his PhD from MIT in “robot arms on Mars”. He went into space twice. He fixed the Hubble telescope so now we can see images like this: By the way, he failed the astronaut exam because his vision wasn't good enough. He then figured out how to TRAIN HIS EYES TO HAVE BETTER EYESIGHT. I never even heard of that before. He passed his next exam with 20/20 vision. Clearly he was good enough. In fact, he is the best at everything he has ever done. Humility without negativity (negative might be: “I’m not good enough so I will give up.”) seems to be key. In other words: Humility With Forward Action. Second, he told me something very interesting. In his lab at MIT there were ten other students. Four of them became astronauts. Do you know how hard it is to become an astronaut? Out of the 1000s of people who used to apply each year, less than 10 would get in. These 1000s who applied were DESPERATE to get in. And they couldn’t. And yet FOUR from this one single lab flew into outer space. If he had been hanging out in a bar instead of a robotics lab, I doubt he could say, “Me and 3 of my friends went into space”. Life and it’s outcomes are contagious. Be where, and with who, you will inherit the greatest possibilities, the greatest encouragement, the greatest knowledge, the greatest joys and friendship These are the viruses you want to infect you. Those are the people and places that will propel you into outer space. And by “outer space”, in this one case I am talking metaphorically. Be the person the people around you expect you to be. I learned this from Mike because I was curious and I reached out to him and wanted to ask questions. Learning something from the people you admire is really the point here. If you do it just once a day you’ll learn 365 incredible things a year. This will make your life a dream. And then you’ll dream of things you never knew existed. .

Ep. 203 - Susan David: What Happens When You're Deeply Stuck In Your Job and Asking, "How Did I Get Here?"  

It’s the most commonly believed lie. It will make you lose all your money. It’ll make you wake up in your 40’s or 50’s and wonder what you’re going to do about retirement. It will make you develop your worst possible habits.   For me, it was drinking. And waking up face to floor. I was ugliest when I was unhappy. That’s true for everyone.   Unless you hide it with plastic surgery and cocaine.   The point is I care about myself now. And not a lot of people say that.   But it’s important.   I should care about me more than anyone else… even my daughters. But sometimes I mess up. Sometimes I love them more than me.   Even on airplanes, they say, “Put your mask on before assisting others.” If you put a mask on your baby before you put a mask on yourself, your baby will never know who you could’ve been.   If I don’t put my oxygen mask on first everyday, then my kids, my friends, everyone I meet, won’t know who I really am.   They won’t know me at my best. They’ll know me passed out on the floor because I tried starving myself for three days (it was a fast. I was trying to detox my body. Again this goes back to caring about yourself. Molly, Josie, I swear, I had good intentions.)   Let me get back to the most commonly believed lie.   It’s called the sunk cost fallacy. This is when you stick to what you’re doing because you already invested your whole life in it.   For example, you won’t quit your job (the job you hate) because that’s what you went to college for or because you’ve been doing it for 20 years and change is scary.   I studied computer science. I went to graduate school for it.   But now I do what I love. Because I gave up.   I had to give up on life’s little stresses and jump head first into an even bigger stress. It took me one step closer to bottom. And one step closer to the lifeboat.   I have a friend. She’s 52. Or 53, divorced. She has a “low-level” job. Or that’s what she says.   She thinks her goals are out of reach. She says, “I can’t do it.” And she believes it. So I asked my friend Susan David, (she’s a Ph.D) “How can you help someone like that? How can you help someone struggling with life’s circumstances?”   But I was asking the wrong question. Because she told me the stress people experience everyday isn’t (usually) caused by massive life events.   “There’s a particular kind of stress that, in psychology, we call allostatic stress,” Susan said, “It’s the everyday stress.”   I was interviewing her about her book, “Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life.”   She gave 50 or 100 tips to do exactly what the subtitle of her book says, “Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life.”   1) Accept it “Accept that you aren’t where you want to be,” Susan said. “Be with those difficult emotions.”   She said we get stuck in two ways. One is “bottling.” The second is “bruting.” Bottling is when someone traps emotions inside. They ignore their feelings.   Bruting is when someone obsesses about emotions. And try to determine what happened and why…   They both cause high levels of anxiety.   So I had to stop asking, “Why?”   2) Choose “want-to” goals I have four main values. They’re in my daily practice.   Values are the things you want to do versus the things you have to do. Because “have to” goals are less likely to be successful.   So I asked Susan, “What if you don’t know what your values are?”   “We often turn around and say, ‘How did I get here?’   “I was just going on with flow. I was just doing what everyone else told me to do. I went to college. I got a job. I got a house... How did I get her?’ This is a really difficult place for people to be” she said. “What’s really critical for all of us to realize is values are not some abstract idea. Values are ways of living, ways of being.”   Figure out your values. Susan says, at the end of the day ask yourself, “What did I do today that was worthwhile?”   I watched a plane move through the sky today. I held the door for someone. I smiled at someone who looked dangerous… someone who probably isn’t smiled at often.   Those were worthwhile moments. I’m also writing…   It’s a “want-to” goal that I hope to have for the rest of my life...  but who knows, sometimes reinvention has new ideas for you.   3) Make “towards” moves There are two ty

Ep. 202 - Kamal Ravikant: Rebirth: Maybe This Trip Is Going To Save Your Life  

Kamal was totally lost. His father had died. His job over. His relationship gone. He felt adrift, depressed, broken. He was so lost he wandered the world trying to find his way back. Twenty years later he wrote the novel about what happened - REBIRTH. The novel is about how he discovered for himself the ancient art of the pilgrimage. How to be a wanderer. How to be lost in a world with too much GPS raining down. Would a pilgrimage, a wandering, solve his problems? I read Kamal's book. The book comes out today. I had him on my podcast (also out today). I wanted to find out how even in our daily lives we can go on a pilgrimage. Even if I'm in a cubicle, can I break free, can I become a wanderer Sometimes I also feel stuck. But I don't want to go away for months at a time. I want a pilgrimage in my life right now! From what I can gather from reading the book, REBIRTH, and talking with Kamal, a pilgrimage has several parts: A) SEEKING AN ANSWER Something happened. Something confusing. Something that wasn't in the plan. You have to get off the regular path. Try a new one. Try one that takes a bit of courage and discipline. To meet stranger along the way B) IT TAKES TiME I'm not a believer that you have to go to a far location. But take time for yourself each day to do something you've never done before. Think about things you never thought about before. Find the places in your life that you never looked before. They are there every day. The pilgrimage awaits. Do a dare you never would have dared to before. C) STRUGGLE Maybe some people find life easy. I don't. Life is filled with worries about money, about relationships, about (for me) kids, about decisions, about the people who hate you, who annoy you, who scare you. Anxieties, regrets. Every pilgrimage begins with the struggle. And every journey is a struggle. The struggle doesn't stop. It just changes. It changes into one where you are lost to one where you have vision. Where the struggle is not being trapped in the vision of others but for the unique impact that you want to create. D) BENEFITS OF A PILGRIMAGE: - You see more clearly: Everything you see on a pilgrimage is different from "normal life". Enjoy them. Learn from it. Even a single day, a single meeting, can be a pilgrimage. What is your takeaway from it. - You meet people. I like to pretend everyone has a fortune cookie to give me. A little bit stale, a little bit crunchy, with a folded message inside. Read it. - There's an end. We've made pilgrimages too easy. We can go to a museum and see 2000 works of art. It used to be that people would travel a 1000 miles to see one painting hanging up in a chapel. Then you can really appreciate what you see. The more you appreciate the people, the things, the emotions around you, the more you are a pilgrim. - Come back changed. A pilgrim doesn't just fly a plane from LA to NY. A pilgrim changes because of the journey. You do that by using your senses: listen more, see more, taste more, observe more. The convenience of modern society comes at a price. It's too difficult now to be a pilgrim because everything is two taps away on our phone. There is an "otherness" to being disconnected for a bit. To search. To wander. And finally, to give up looking. To surrender to the results. ---- It's freeing to give up, even for a few minutes, everything you ever knew. To become a Wanderer. To look around and see everything as if it were new. REBIRTH, by Kamal Ravikant, got me thinking about these things. He went on his pilgrimage. He met people. He went on an adventure, a journey, and reading his book showed me how. I need to leave. To struggle. To find an answer. And then to completely give up all hope of ever finding one. To find again the beauty of being completely lost. If I get lost enough, maybe I can find something worth looking for.

Ep. 201 - Ben Mezrich: Success after 190 Rejection Slips  

“When I was a struggling writer, before I wrote my first book, I got 190 rejection slips.”   He taped them to the walls like a serial killer.   “My wallpaper was rejection slips.”   “What was the worst one...,” I asked Ben Mezrich, a New York Times bestselling author. Over the past five or six years, I’ve probably read all of his books. He wrote “Bringing Down the House,” which became the movie “21”. He wrote, “Accidental Billionaires,” which became “The Social Network” where Jesse Eisenberg played a seemingly evil Mark Zuckerberg.   The New Yorker sent him just a page with the most powerful word known to man.   “It was just, ‘No,’” Ben said, “I was rejected by a janitor at a publishing house because I sent a manuscript to an editor who was no longer working there and the manuscript ended up in the trash can. A janitor took it out of the trash, read it and sent me a rejection letter.”   That was his big chance. Not Ben’s.   The janitor.   “I’ve never wanted to write a book,” Ben said. “I wanted to write. I wanted to write a hundred books.”   I was interviewing him about, “The 37th Parallel: The Secret Truth Behind America's UFO Highway.”   They found these cows in the 70s. It looked like they were sliced with a laser. They had perfect slices of circles in their abdomens. Like pancakes. And they were completely drained of blood.   The FBI investigated.   There was no mess. No blood spill.   Then pilots started seeing UFOs. Ben says if a pilot sees a UFO now, they’ll get fired for reporting it.   So I asked him, “Isn’t there a freedom of information act?”   “They’ve tried,” he said. “But they didn’t even admit Area 51 existed until a few years ago. So, no. They don’t have to release that information.”   People lose their minds looking for answers. Questioning can be interrogative or art. Answers birth more questions. And the space between answer A and question B is just space.   And that’s where Ben’s books are created.   “I only go into the stories where it’s larger than life or something happens,” Ben said. “What leads up to that incredible moment? What leads up to Facebook being a billion dollar company or what leads up to a guy suddenly believing in UFOs?”   I asked about his writing process. And selling process.   “I write by page not by time,” he said.   If he’s writing a 300 page book, he does this:   Step 1: introduce characters Step 2: introduce love interest Step 3: introduce what they’re trying to achieve / their goal (You’re starting off with the obstacles.)   That’s part 1.   Step 4: “At the end of 100 pages something happens -- something that makes it very difficult for the characters to achieve their goal.”   Ben said, “When I’m interviewing people, I’m thinking of their lives as chapters.”   Interviewing is part of Ben’s writing, but it’s also part of his selling process. He won’t write a book that won’t sell.   “How do you know?” I asked.   “Usually, I speak to the main character enough to get a book proposal,” he said. “Then I do all that research. Then I do an outline (very specific, in fact, I know how many pages each chapter is. It’s like a skeleton. It’s very severe.)”   My dreams don’t have skeletons.   They usually look like boneless blobs or liquid sliding downstream. Direction over details. That’s what Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert told me.   I get stuck because I want to do everything at once. I want to read every book, go for a walk, fly around New York City, interview Carly Simon, Edward Thorpe, Carrie Fisher (who I’m sad I missed sharing her stories with you… we were going to meet when she returned from the UK). I want to spend time with my daughters, begin and win at all my dreams, but I also want to do nothing.   Sometimes I get so worked up dreaming of the millions of directions I could fly that I forget to take off.   But it’s ok.   Because I have something to write about. I have a connection with you. Something to share. Something that makes us the same kind of human: ambitious, terrified, curious.   We want to be all in. We want to be creatures of resilience.

Ep. 200 - Scott Adams: Subtly Hypnotizing Yourself And Everyone You Meet  

How can you use mass hypnosis to control 60,000,000 people so they vote for you to become the leader of the world? Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, knows the answer and has known it for years. So I called him and asked. I needed to know. He told me how Trump won. And he told me how anyone can use these persuasion techniques to improve their lives. What if you can get people to do whatever you want just by using the right words and subtly hypnotizing everyone you meet? It sounds like a science fiction novel. But it's true. It's what happened, and it happens every day. Who are the victims? You're the victim. Scott Adams predicted in September 2015(!) that Donald Trump would become President because, "he is the best master persuader I have ever seen." Scott Adams trained as a hypnotist and master persuader for years. "Once you realize that everyone is completely irrational," Scott Adams told me, "your life gets a lot easier. "You can start to use the principles behind this to see why people really do things, as opposed to using rational facts, and then use that to your advantage. "Understanding that people are irrational has made my life a lot better." But how did he predict a year and a half ago that Trump would win? I needed to know how. And how I could do it. Trump was the unlikely choice to be President. Just like Scott was the unlikely choice to be one of the world's most popular cartoonists with Dilbert. But we can all learn the skills that Scott learned. Scott heard a story that made him want to change his life in his 20s. His mother had delivered birth to his sister without the use of anesthetics. She was hypnotized. "She felt no pain," Scott said. So Scott, in his 20s, learned all the techniques of hypnosis. "You mean," I said, "You can take a gold watch and swing it in front of their eyes and make them do what you want?" "That has never happened," Scott said, "Except in movies. "What you learn is that basically everything people do is completely irrational. And then they rationalize it later. "Like, they might say they voted for Trump because of his policies but this is just a rationalization. Everyone is irrational and everyone is subject to persuasion." Everything seemed against Trump. But somehow he beat 16 candidates in the primaries and one big candidate in the election. And, Scott says, all the theories as to why he won have been wrong. So I called him up and asked him what happened. And he told me: ----------------- - THE LINGUISTIC KILL SHOT "Trump described everyone using two techniques: - words that had never been used in politics before - words that were visual. So every time you looked at the candidate being described you would look for confirmation bias." Example: Jeb Bush he described as "low energy". "Low energy" had never been used to describe a candidate before so they stood out. And whenever you looked Jeb, unless he was jumping around, you would automatically look for clues that showed he was low energy. Trump systematically did this with everyone who was frontrunner against him, including "Crooked Hillary" which referred both to her legal troubles and the persistent rumors that she was sick. ------------------ - CHARISMA = POWER + EMPATHY Scott said, "Trump clearly had the Power part down. But he was low on Empathy. "So he used polling to figure out what the critical issue was for the most amount of people and came up with Immigration. By going with this issue he proved he had empathy with his base. "Expect him as President to try to show empathy to a much larger group of people." ------------------ - OVERSELLING THE STORY "Trump consistently oversold his point. For instance, 'Build a Wall'." He used hyperbole because it's the direction that counts. "It didn't matter that the facts didn't support him. His base was listening to the direction while all the media was getting bogged down in the weeds. "And in many cases, he would back down. He would recognize if he oversold too much and back down on it. "But again, the media would show his views for free because he was so outlandish and his supporters would note the direction, not the facts." I asked Scott: What would happen to Trump if a "Rick Perry" situation occurred like in 2012, where Perry couldn't name the 3 cabinet departments he wanted to eliminate and that destroyed his campaign? Scott said, "If Trump was stumbling to name the three he would just say, 'You know what? There are 10 cabinet positions I'd eliminate! You probably can guess the ones I'm talking about." "And then while everyone would be scratching their heads trying to figure out if there are even ten cabinet departments, his supporters would be just note the direction." -------------------- - AUDACITY Early on he would say things that were so audacious nobody could believe a Presidential candidate would be saying these things. But people got used to it. It got him free media coverage which allowed him to spend less than half of what Hillary spent. It allowe

Ep. 199 - Gretchen Rubin: Where Happiness Hides  

  “When did you decide to go from being a lawyer to a full-time writer?” I asked Gretchen Rubin. She wrote the #1 New York Times bestseller, “The Happiness Project.” It was 2001. “At the Supreme Court, I was surrounded by people who loved law. They were reading law on the weekends. They were talking about law at lunch time. They just loved, loved, loved law. And I knew that I didn’t.” I felt pain in my legs. That’s the feeling I had in my body the last time I didn’t love something. I couldn’t sit around anymore. I got up mid-meeting, walked straight to the elevator and left. “I think a lot of people want to leave what they’re doing, but they don’t know where to go,” Gretchen said. A) How to find where to go “I was looking up at the capitol dome,” Gretchen said, “And I thought, ‘What am I interested in that everybody in the world is interested in?’ That’s when she wrote her first book, “Power Money Fame Sex: A User's Guide.” Her first step was research. That’s also what she did for fun. “That’s a big tip-off,” she said. “What do you do for fun?” I loved talking to prostitutes at HBO. But if I stayed I wouldn’t have my own podcast. I couldn’t talk to anyone I wanted. I was limited to prostitutes. And it wasn’t their fault. I didn’t know if it was OK to want a better life. I kept waiting for people to notice the signs. I wanted them to worry about me and encourage me to do what I love. But each situation is different. And you can’t always ask for advice. Advice is what other people would do if they were you. Not what they actually do as themselves. We try guiding each other with good intentions… but it’s not the same as choosing yourself. B) Be you Gretchen has 12 commandments of happiness. And the first one is “Be Gretchen” so for me it’d be, ‘‘Be James.” But sometimes I feel really disconnected to myself. Gretchen’s suggestions involve knowing a lot about yourself. So I asked her, “What if I don’t know anything about myself?” “That is the great question of our lives. ‘What does it mean to be you? Who are you?’” “It seems so easy because you hang out with yourself all day,” she said. “But it’s so easy to get distracted by who you feel you should be... or who you wish you were. Or who other people expect you to be.” It’s almost like we outsource our personality to everybody around us. But it's OK to stop doing things that should make you feel good, but don’t. “I had this weird experience recently,” Gretchen said. “I was at a cocktail party. And some woman, very nice person, was saying ‘Oh I love going skiing with the whole family. It’s a great vacation.’” Gretchen said it seemed great. But skiing doesn’t appeal to her. At all. “I love the fact that my husband has a knee injury so I never feel like we have to go skiing.” The woman tried convincing her. She said it’s a beautiful adventure, great for the whole family and everything else. “Twenty minutes later she came back to me with this absolutely stricken expression on her face. And she said, ‘I just realized I don’t like skiing either…’” Here’s an easy, two-step formula for being happier: Step 1: Do less of what you don’t like doing Make a list: 10 things you do but don’t like doing. (Unless you don’t like lists…) Step 2: Do more of what you like doing Come up with all the things you daydream about. What have you always wanted to try but never had time for? BAM! Now you have time. And you’re you. C) Use envy Gretchen was looking through a magazine from her college. She read about the other lawyers. And felt mildly interested. Then she saw people with writing jobs. “I felt sick with envy,” she said. “Envy is painful, but it’s a very helpful emotion for a happy life. It’s a giant red arrow sign standing over someone’s head saying, ‘They’ve got something you want.’” I’ve learned there are three types of self-help books. One is you’re telling people what to do. The other is scientists are telling people what to do and the third is you’re telling people what you did. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people. I always ask how they knew what to do next. And how they knew where to find joy... But that's the myth of happiness. It's not knowable. It's not one idea.  

Ep. 198 - Dan Ariely: Where A True, Deep Sense of Accomplishment Comes From  

Dan Ariely was burned all over his body. He lived in the hospital for years. He grew up there. Now he writes about pain. And irrationality. And meaning. He had nerve damage from the burns. And no skin to protect himself from pain. The nurses slowly peeled back his bandages. He begged them to rip them off.   They wouldn’t. He wanted quick pain and fast relief. They did it slowly for peace of mind. Not his. Theirs. Dan calls this “irrational behavior.” He says, “being irrational are the cases where we think we will behave in one way, but we actually don’t. And the reason I care about this is because those are the cases in which people are likely to make decisions.” He helps predict behavior. So you can respond the way you’d expect you would… not the way you actually do. “It's an interesting conflict,” he says. We talked about his new TED book, “Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations.”

[Bonus] - Steven Pressfield [Part 2]: The Meaning of Practice  

Steven Pressfield wrote all of the greatest books for writers. He's a pro. And in part 1 he talks about turning pro. Now he talks about HOW to develop your skills. “I have a writing practice," he says. “And what that sort of means is you detach yourself from the outcome and you’re looking at the long picture. If somebody says to me, ’Steve you’re gonna live to be 97.8 years old. Are you going to be writing the last day of your life?’ I'll say, ‘Yes.’ And I don’t give a shit if it sells or not. I’m in it." Be in it. Because it's not just a habit... it's your life.  

Ep. 197 - Steven Pressfield [Part 1]: How to Go From Amateur to Pro  

HOW TO GO FROM AMATEUR TO TURNING PRO? I had a full time job. I was trying to run a business on the side. I was pitching two TV shows. And I was obsessively playing chess day and night and traveling to tournaments. And nothing was going well. My attention was scattered. I was unhappy. I felt stuck. One time I was talking to one of the partners in my side business, Randy Weiner. I said to him, "I'm reading this fascinating book about chess endgames". He said, "I don't care about that! Why are you even looking at those books? Chess is a game for kids. You should be working at this business full-time." The next day I quit my job. I joined the business full time. I never played in another chess tournament ever again. I stopped pitching TV shows. I went from being an amateur to being a pro. Which is why I'm glad the other day I spoke to Steven Pressfield, author of "Turning Pro", "The War of Art", "The Legend of Bagger Vance", "Do the Work", and more than a dozen other great books and novels. Sometimes it seemed like each new low was lower. And often the highs were higher. But I haven't had a job since. Ever since I made the decision to turn pro, I've been free. It took me two years of asking before Steven finally agreed to do the podcast. I've read all his books twice. But I was still scared to death right before the podcast. Steven and I spoke for two hours about turning pro, writing, how to improve, how to achieve peak performance in any field of life. I wanted to ask questions nobody else would ask him. Two hours later I feel good about it. The podcast is coming out later today. Here is some of what we spoke about: - HOW TO DEAL WITH THE DEMONS When I join a gym, I go until I stop going. Then it basically teeters off. I'm an amateur at going to the gym. Every single day I write. If I don't do it for two days in a row I feel physically sick. But so many times I feel bad about what I am working on. Or I feel unsure if I should work on the next book. or try the next new idea. The demons come up. I get blocked. I get frustrated or scared. Will I be a failure? Have I run out of ideas? Steven wrote several books about these very demons. Steven said, "those thoughts are 'the Resistance'. "Every time you want to go from a lower level to a higher level - becoming an entrepreneur., get in better shape, meditate, be an artist - the Resistance will ALWAYS attack. Every writer or entrepreneur feels the Resistance every day." Recognize each thought as it comes up, he said. Identify the thoughts that are the resistance. Say, 'that's the resistance". "There's no way to get rid of The Resistance. Be aware of it. Say to yourself, these thoughts won't help me achieve my dreams." - KEEP THE EGO OUT A friend of mine started a company once. It was clearly a bad idea. But he thought it was a homerun. This is a cognitive bias. We tend to believe that if we pour our heart and soul into someone (our personal "investment") then it's a good idea. When I do something I have to constantly stop and ask if I'm smoking my own crack. One time I made a website I thought was brilliant. It had an IQ test on it. And it was a dating site. And it would tell you if you were smart or stupid and you can then date people and know their intelligence. I thought it was brilliant! My six year old daughter told me, "Isn't this kind of mean?" My daughter refused to light my crack pipe. Steven told me he had to make sure with his most recent novel, the autobiographical "The Knowledge" that he had to keep his ego out of it. "I had to put some distance between myself and the writing because it was about my early struggles as a writer." - EVEN A PORN DIRECTOR CAN BE A MENTOR: Steven told me about how he switched from writing bad novels to going into screenwriting, to finally getting back to writing novels. It's important to keep switching around, to pursue every angle of an interest. To take away a lesson from every area. Along the way he met a director of porn movies that wanted Steven to write some scenes. "He told me two things: A) don't make a sex scene just about having sex. Make sure it advances the story. Like the detective is having sex with someone and spots a clue. B) Always have something else happening so they can cut back and forth. Like a wife is cheating with the carpenter but the husband is coming home and she doesn't realize and the camera cuts back and forth. That took me to a new level in my fiction writing." The porn director was a mini-mentor. Other writers he admired were virtual mentors. Editors, agents, other directors and writers also became mentors. Learn from everyone. - FEAR OF SUCCESS IS REAL I said, "I don't believe that 'fear of success' is a thing. Is it?" Steven sai

[Bonus] - Tim Ferriss: [Part 2] Where Are You Not Replaceable?  

I was very late and I was very upset at myself. I had flown three thousand miles. I moved into an Airbnb right next to where Tim was staying. I had written thousands of notes on ripped pieces of paper and stuck them all throughout the book. I had notes written up and around all the margins. I listened to dozens of his podcasts. And I've known him for years. All morning I had jotted down possible questions. And I was late to meet Tim for our podcast. Because the west coast is three hours a way in time travel from the east coast. That's how stupid I am. I rushed over and he was waiting. Tim follows his own advice. He was relaxed. No problems. I apologized, we spoke for awhile, and then started the podcast. Three hours later...not even close to done but we stopped. I want to be a better person in life. I want to be healthier. I want to be more creative. I want to find what is hidden inside of me, dig around, unleash it. I want to find the strength to do that. It's not an easy to thing to do. To scrape the dirt and dust that collects inside of ourselves. To explore. To wander. To create. Tim's book, "Tools of the Titans" is a guidebook for doing the above. And I had a lot of questions. ---- A few months after I started my podcast in 2014, Tim wrote me and said, "Can I call you and ask you some questions about podcasting". I said sure and he called and we talked for quite awhile. He called many podcasters during this period. Then he started his own podcast. He DOMINATED. All of his guests were amazing. He told me he was getting so much great advice from his guests it was overwhelming. The aftermath of a hailstorm where everything is just glowing and even the air you breathe seems cleansed. But that lasts only a short time until the atmosphere is filled with the everyday pollution of life. So he took a month off, re-listened to all his podcasts, and just for his own use he wrote down the advice he was hearing. "But it was too much," he told me. "I kept writing. It was clearly a book." It's not like any other book he's written. He steps out of the way in many cases, and let's these super-achievers do the talking. He curates their thoughts. They had found the hidden gems inside themselves, and long ago brought them up to share with the world to achieve their successes, and now they documented them with Tim. That's why I flew 3000 miles. I wanted the gems. I wanted answers. ---- I've had so many ups and downs I try to quantify what works on the way up. What goes wrong on the way down. I try to quantify: what are the steps for reinvention? I wonder: what makes someone break out of mediocrity? About seven months ago I threw out all of my belongings. I gave away or donated to the library about 3000 books. All of my books now are on my kindle. None of the answers were in my things. But now I have one physical book. Tim's. And I plan to keep it. Here are ten things (among many) I learned from the book and from our podcast: "ALL I HAVE TO DO IS SHOW UP" I'm impressed how Tim did his work before starting a podcast. Starting something new is not about taking risks. Jumping into the unknown, getting out of the comfort zone, doing something scary. It's not about bravery. It's the exact opposite. You can only do so many "new" things in life. So do the work beforehand. He called people up. He learned the craft as much as he could. He talked to people ranging from me to people at Apple. He had initial guests lined up. He had a huge launch. And he told me the other day that he is persistent at getting his guests. One recent guest, he told me, took two years to book. Which was refreshing for me to hear since it often takes me that long or longer to book many guests. Comedian Whitney Cummings told him: "My work is not done on the night of a big standup special. My work was done three months ago. All I have do is show up." Even though I was late for our podcast, I'm glad I showed up. - DOING IS EVERYTHING Derek Sivers told him, "If all we needed was more information, then everyone would be a billionaire with perfect abs." It's the DOING that's difficult. I asked Tim: "there's 700 pages of advice here. How can anyone follow everything? How do you know what will work for you?" Just pick a few things. Pick what resonates with you. Start slowly. It doesn't matter what you do. Just start DO-ing. Dan Ariely once told me something similar. "If you say sorry to someone, even if you don't mean it, even if THEY KNOW you don't mean it, then you still have a better relationship with them a year later compared with people who never say sorry." DOING > THINKING. - BLEED From Morgan Spurlock, the director of "Supersize Me" and many other great documentaries. "Don't be afraid to show your scars". This is not a book about

Ep. 196 - Tim Ferriss: [Part 1] Becoming a Titan & Overcoming Your Worst Weakness  

I was very late and I was very upset at myself. I had flown three thousand miles. I moved into an Airbnb right next to where Tim was staying. I had written thousands of notes on ripped pieces of paper and stuck them all throughout the book. I had notes written up and around all the margins. I listened to dozens of his podcasts. And I've known him for years. All morning I had jotted down possible questions. And I was late to meet Tim for our podcast. Because the west coast is three hours a way in time travel from the east coast. That's how stupid I am. I rushed over and he was waiting. Tim follows his own advice. He was relaxed. No problems. I apologized, we spoke for awhile, and then started the podcast. Three hours later...not even close to done but we stopped. I want to be a better person in life. I want to be healthier. I want to be more creative. I want to find what is hidden inside of me, dig around, unleash it. I want to find the strength to do that. It's not an easy to thing to do. To scrape the dirt and dust that collects inside of ourselves. To explore. To wander. To create. Tim's book, "Tools of the Titans" is a guidebook for doing the above. And I had a lot of questions. ---- A few months after I started my podcast in 2014, Tim wrote me and said, "Can I call you and ask you some questions about podcasting". I said sure and he called and we talked for quite awhile. He called many podcasters during this period. Then he started his own podcast. He DOMINATED. All of his guests were amazing. He told me he was getting so much great advice from his guests it was overwhelming. The aftermath of a hailstorm where everything is just glowing and even the air you breathe seems cleansed. But that lasts only a short time until the atmosphere is filled with the everyday pollution of life. So he took a month off, re-listened to all his podcasts, and just for his own use he wrote down the advice he was hearing. "But it was too much," he told me. "I kept writing. It was clearly a book." It's not like any other book he's written. He steps out of the way in many cases, and let's these super-achievers do the talking. He curates their thoughts. They had found the hidden gems inside themselves, and long ago brought them up to share with the world to achieve their successes, and now they documented them with Tim. That's why I flew 3000 miles. I wanted the gems. I wanted answers. ---- I've had so many ups and downs I try to quantify what works on the way up. What goes wrong on the way down. I try to quantify: what are the steps for reinvention? I wonder: what makes someone break out of mediocrity? About seven months ago I threw out all of my belongings. I gave away or donated to the library about 3000 books. All of my books now are on my kindle. None of the answers were in my things. But now I have one physical book. Tim's. And I plan to keep it. Here are ten things (among many) I learned from the book and from our podcast: "ALL I HAVE TO DO IS SHOW UP" I'm impressed how Tim did his work before starting a podcast. Starting something new is not about taking risks. Jumping into the unknown, getting out of the comfort zone, doing something scary. It's not about bravery. It's the exact opposite. You can only do so many "new" things in life. So do the work beforehand. He called people up. He learned the craft as much as he could. He talked to people ranging from me to people at Apple. He had initial guests lined up. He had a huge launch. And he told me the other day that he is persistent at getting his guests. One recent guest, he told me, took two years to book. Which was refreshing for me to hear since it often takes me that long or longer to book many guests. Comedian Whitney Cummings told him: "My work is not done on the night of a big standup special. My work was done three months ago. All I have do is show up." Even though I was late for our podcast, I'm glad I showed up. - DOING IS EVERYTHING Derek Sivers told him, "If all we needed was more information, then everyone would be a billionaire with perfect abs." It's the DOING that's difficult. I asked Tim: "there's 700 pages of advice here. How can anyone follow everything? How do you know what will work for you?" Just pick a few things. Pick what resonates with you. Start slowly. It doesn't matter what you do. Just start DO-ing. Dan Ariely once told me something similar. "If you say sorry to someone, even if you don't mean it, even if THEY KNOW you don't mean it, then you still have a better relationship with them a year later compared with people who never say sorry." DOING > THINKING. - BLEED From Morgan Spurlock, the director of "Supersize Me" and many other great documentaries. "Don't be afraid to show your scars". This is not a book about

Ep. 195 - Joshua Foer: The Explorer's Code  

The Explorer’s Code:  I wanted to wake each morning, not anxious about my day anymore. Not worried about what so-and-so would say, or where my career was going, or what was I going to write today. My only job each day is to explore something new. So I called up Josh and asked him how I could be an explorer. He told me. - Have A Mission Every day, whether it’s “be creative today.” Or “go some place you’ve never been” or “talk to ten random strangers”, make a mission. Learn something new. Missions are for people who DO. Mission statements are for people who DON’T. -Uncomfortable Situation Try to put yourself in as many uncomfortable situations as possible. “For instance,” he said, “you should apply for a temp job. See what it’s like.” Or maybe one day you and a friend can make a bet: who can get the furthest out of town with just $100. The uncomfortable zone is where you find out who you are, the comfort zone is where you sleep. Task: make a list of uncomfortable situations. Stretch the idea muscle. -Partners/Team Josh has 100s of people who submit items to Atlas Obscura and atlasobscura.com. “There’s over 10,000 weird and obscure places on there now.” He also started it with two partners. Even superheroes need a team. Superman still needed the Justice League. Luke Skywalker still needed Han Solo and Princess Leia. Luke Cage needs Iron Fist and Jessica Jones. Who are on your team? Are they good people? Do you each have your super power? I am constantly looking for my team of fellow explorers. “Try to experience wonder every day,” Josh told me. A few months ago, my mission was to throw out everything I owned.  What would it be like after 40 years of collecting things, to own absolutely nothing. And a few months before that, my mission was to track down someone who had disappeared from my life. I failed at that mission. But I experienced wonder along the way. And today, I’m going to change my life forever. I will text you about it.  

Ep. 194 - Seth Godin: How to Make What you Want For A Living  

What does it sound like when you change your mind? That's the name of Seth Godin's next book. He only printed 5,500 copies. And he's not printing anymore. He doesn't just view a book as pages surrounded by two covers. He makes a 3-dimensional object that's beautiful to look at and read. "It's not new,” he said on my podcast. “It's the best of the last four years of my work. And it's illustrated with hundreds of photos by Thomas Hawk, who's the most prolific and talented internet photographer." The book weighs 18 pounds. And it's 800 pages long. I asked him about art and marketing... and he told me about life. A) START FROM THE BEGINNING "No business, no project, no novel ever started big," Seth said. It started with fear, uncertainty, excitement, possibility. Tons of “what if’s” that lead to real action. And real action halts the what if’s. The what if’s turn to what is. Seth said, “Instead of saying, 'I need to leap to the middle,' say, 'I'm going to start with people who want to engage with me.'" All successes start with one person. That's it. One person, then two, then three. Success is a curve. We all know it. Don't try to cheat the curve. B) KNOW YOUR WORLD I asked Seth, "How do you know what the world wants to hear?" "Well, first of all,” he said, “never the whole world. You pick your world." Where do you hurt? Where you do you feel a knot? Can you loosen it up and ease the pressure? Can you create something for the people who want to love what you want to love? C) WHAT DO YOU CARE ENOUGH TO SAY? We talked about Facebook. And the Lays Potato Chip guy who re-designed the bag. His job was to make it sound crunchier. Kids had slamming competitions. Who could slam a soda the fastest? So Coke-A-Cola created a bottle with a mouthpiece meant to maximize chugging efficiency. They sold product. But it's the message that matters. I always say: message over money. Invention happens at the edges. Between heart and lungs, breath and vocal chords is the message. It's the thing you want to say. The thing you’re afraid to say. "What really matters isn't what time you posted on Facebook," Seth said. "What matters is, what did you care enough to say? D) ANYONE CAN LEAD... "’Purple Cow' says, 'How do I sit in my office and make a thing that people talk about?'" "What 'Tribes' says is 'Now that anyone can stand up and lead (because anyone can have a media channel... because anyone can make connection) will you choose to lead? And if you're going to lead, who will you lead? How will you connect the people you're leading? That is marketing, but it's also life." E) CULTURE BEATS EVERYTHING "No one has a Suzuki tattoo," Seth said. "What's a Suzuki tattoo?" I asked. Then I got it. Harley Davidson makes half their revenue licensing their brand. T-shirts, jackets, etc. "If you're in the Harley tribe, you can't show up on a Suzuki," he said. "Tribes aren't about the alpha to the omega. Leaders always go away. The alpha person dies or moves on. But the tribe doesn't. The tribe persists. Because culture beats everything. Scenes have a culture. Tribes have a culture. It's culture that determines how an organization make its choices, how a nation will evolve." I've said this before. It doesn't matter who the president is. What matters is who you surround yourself with. Who's in your tribe? Who's in your heart? And if they're toxic to your creativity or well-being, detox now. "The Beatles didn't invent teenagers. I'm not saying we invent our tribe. We just show up to lead them." I didn't invent the choose yourself community. The cubicle job did. I'll never say what other people should do. I just say what I like to do. I say what gets me past just getting by. F) SHOW UP “Half my blog posts are below average,” Seth said. I asked if he feels bad. Intellectually, I understand failure. But it still hurts. It can turn your life upside down. I lost everything more than once. And maybe you’re reading this because you have to… or you're afraid of losing everything. “I’m talking about [creating] generous work with good intent... that didn’t work.” That’s the failure we need to show up for. “I show up,” Seth said. G) DON'T WRESTLE WITH INFINITY I didn't know what that meant. "I am almost done wrestling with infinity," he said. We had half an hour left in the interview. I didn't interrupt. I couldn't. I was captivated. My mind expands when I’m seconds away from hearing someone’s genius. My vision slows and the inside

Ep. 193 - Brian Koppelman: How to Deliver Every Single Time  

Brian Koppelman and his wife Amy Koppelman saved my life. Many years after he ruined my life. First off: when he wrote the movie “Rounders” I became obsessed with poker. I went to the same club he played at and played for 365 nights, including the night my first daughter was born (I was there for the birth though!) .   I was an addict. But eventually I stopped in order to start another company. I wish I had never stopped because that other company cost me all of my money at the time.   Then he wrote several of my favorite movies after that. I didn’t even know it was the same director until the first time I interviewed him here.   Now he is writing and producing my favorite TV show, “Billions” on Showtime. About an aggressive hedge fund billionaire going after an equally aggressive US Attorney played by Paul Giamatti.   Brian has been on the podcast several times but there’s always so much more to talk about in terms of creativity and inspiration and how to succeed as an artist / entrepreneur.   Ditto for his wife Amy who has also been on this podcast and written three of my favorite novels. One of which was turned into a movie (“I Smile Back”) starring Sarah Silverman.   But here is how they saved my life.   Awhile back I had a personal emergency. Things were going haywire.   Amy called me and said, “What’s going on?” I told her.   She had me take a photo of every meal I was eating (“I want to make sure you are eating”) and a photo of everyone I was eating with (“I want to make sure you are around people”) and had me write to her every day what was going on in my head (“write!”)   That was one time.   Another time: I lost millions of dollars in a half hour while I was on the set of “Billions” watching it be filmed.   I was called into an emergency board meeting by phone and found out the company was going to be shut down. It was a disaster.   But 90% of how we feel about a situation is determined by our choice of how we will react. Only 10% is based on the situation itself.   And since I was on the set of my favorite TV show being filmed, I decided to enjoy myself. Brian later said to me, “You lost what!? We couldn’t tell at all. You were making jokes, asking questions, and you were the last one to leave.”   I used being on the set of “Billions” to change my reaction to an otherwise horrible event. This allowed me to easily change my 90% reaction into a positive one.   So not only is Brian a creative genius, but he’s a good friend.   I went up to his offices where they are writing season 2 of “Billions” and I had maybe 1,000 more questions about creativity, writing, the arc of his career, and of course, billions of dollars.   But one thing stands out for me.   Everyone always says, as if it were advice that has come down from heaven to all writers: “Write what you know”.   Brian doesn’t agree with this. And this is the secret to his success. And the secret to all the great writers in history.   Stephen King didn’t know what it was like to be a bullied teenage girl with psychic powers when he wrote “Carrie”.   Ernest Hemingway didn’t know what it was like to be an old Cuban man who spent his life fishing.   JK Rowling didn’t know what it would be like to be a boy attending Hogwarts Wizardry School.   Brian Koppelman told me:   “Don’t write what you know, write what fascinates you.”    This is the key to all good art.   In this podcast, we also talk about what it feels like to hit a dead-end. To be unsure how to move forward. To be scared that maybe the best was behind us.   How do you move past that. Recreate yourself. Start the work again. Flourish.   I ask. Brian delivers.

Ep. 192: Stephen Dubner - One New Habit To Change Your Life Forever  

WHAT I CAN LEARN IN ONE MINUTE THAT WILL CHANGE MY LIFE FOREVER Stephen Dubner (Freakonomics) has a new podcast and it just hit #1 in the iTunes charts. "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" is the name of it and it's about to change my life. He came over to play backgammon and I asked him about it. He told me he became a journalist because it was an easy way to start talking to people. He said, "If I ask people to tell me something I don't know," then I often learn new things and it keeps the conversation going. My mind blew open. I'm tired of freezing up. Feeling too paralyzed to talk. I'm a shy introvert. This will help unfreeze me. For everyone I meet, I will try to learn something I don't know. I'll simply ask them. This will be my new habit. --- I listened to Dubner's first podcast of the new show. I learned something new from one member of the audience. First off, it's a hard podcast to create. Listen to it. There are three panelists. There's a fact-checker. And there's 100 people in the audience. I've never heard of a podcast like that. It's crazy to put that much work into a podcast! To be creative, go beyond what everyone else says is crazy. And to be crazy, go beyond what everyone else says is creative. Creativity is a lose-lose proposition. You're crazy and you're lost in the woods. But if you aren't creative, you're stuck in traffic with everyone else. Someone on the show said something I didn't know: when you sleep, the nerve cells in your brain constrict, allowing spinal fluids to wash right through and clean up the proteins that often attach to nerve cells in the brain to cause Alzheimers. I learned about five new things on that very first episode. I went to sleep that night in anticipation. Spinal fluids washing through my brain, giving my cells a much needed bath. --- If I can ask everyone, "Tell me something I don't know," I'm going to learn from everyone. It adds up. It compounds. It will give me more knowledge and help me be less shy. I hope. "Tell me something I don't know".

Ep. 191 - Chip Conley: How To Find Your Calling  

He died. He was giving a speech, sat down, and the next thing… he was dead. They called an ambulance. They got paramedics. They did that thing. They brought him back to life. But his body didn’t like living. He died again. Eight more times they used machines to convince the machine in his body that we call a heart, to come back to life. Please come back to life, the machines said to his heart. And finally his heart decided to stay. After that, things changed. Like they often do when we die at the age of 47. “There are three things,” Chip Conley, now the head of hospitality for AirBnB, told me, “a job, a career, and a calling.” “I had been building and running hotels for 20 years. It was my calling to be in the hospitality business. I built over 50 hotels. But it was starting to feel like a job.” “When I died, I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to go back to my calling.” Within a few years he had sold his business. He had nothing left to do. “I had faith in my calling, though,” Chip said. “Something would happen.” And it did. It did. Adam wrote me. He was my Airbnb host. I’ve been in 4 different Airbnbs that Adam owns over the past three years. So we knew each other. I only live in Airbnbs and I know many of the regular hosts in New York City. “I’m having a special guest in the apartment right downstairs from you,” Adam wrote me. “He’s the head of all hospitality for Airbnb. Would you like to meet?’ Yes, very much so. I had spent 90% of my life in Airbnbs over the prior three years and just about 100% in the prior year. In 2014 I even wrote an article, “10 Ways to Improve Airbnb.” Adam made the introduction. Chip Conley, the man who had died a few years earlier and sold his hotel business, responded. “Should I bring a bottle of wine?” he said. He came upstairs and we started to talk. “Brian Chesky, the founder of Airbnb, called me and asked me if I wanted to be the head of hospitality. Airbnb was a tech company, it wasn’t used to being a hospitality company.” “When I ran 50 hotels, hospitality was my main focus.” “For each hotel, I had the hotel managers come up with five adjectives for what that hotel would be.” “Maybe the adjectives might be: funky, hip, modern, clean, rock & roll.” “Every employee, even the housekeepers, would keep those adjectives in mind in whatever they did. And, if possible, we even made sure the five senses the customers would experience in the hotels would match the five adjectives.” “This is a great idea,” I said, “You can even apply ideas like this to writing a book. Or even building a career for yourself. What five adjectives do you want your life, or the objects you create, or your relationships, be used to describe it.” “Absolutely,” Chip said. So he went to Airbnb to start creating an atmosphere of hospitality among the hosts. He had found his way back to his life’s calling. I had felt it. Since 2013, Now I live in them. Now they are home. All because Chip died. “How do you find your life’s calling?” I asked him. “What did you love doing when you were 6, 8, 10 years old,” he said. “Like I had one friend who even at 6 was making mudpies as if they were real pies. Then she became a lawyer but was always unhappy.” “So she quit being a lawyer and is now one of the biggest pastry chefs in the world.” “For me, I was always pretending to run a restaurant in my house. I always wanted to be in the hospitality business.” I thought back to when I was ten years old. I was writing short stories. And when I was 12 I even wrote an article in the newspaper interviewing politicians. You find your interests from back then and see how they age into the current day. “Find the thing you did where you lost all sense of time while you are doing it,” Chip told me. “Remember the equation from Victor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning‘,” he said. “Despair = Suffering – Meaning.” “Find the things that bring you meaning. Suffering is always there in this world. But if you have meaning, you will have less despair. “You will find your calling.” Sometimes even now I find myself doing things where I feel more ‘job’ than ‘calling’. I try to adjust where I can but it can be difficult. I guess a little bit at a time and eventually you can move your life into that calling. I said to him. “This is too good. Do you mind if I record the conversation?” He said, “Sure.” So I did. I’ve been recording conversations with people ever since I was ten years old. When I was 26, he said, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I found my first little motel and called it The Phoenix. “I knew that whatever I did, I wanted to be creative and to have freedom. I tell everyone to write down the two most important qualities about their calling and check back with it over the years. “Eventually I felt like what I was doing was the opposite of creativity and freedom.” “And that’s when I had that experience of flatlining. That was my body’s way of telling me I had to change. So I got rid of my hotels.” “What if you are sitting i

[Bonus] Ryan Holiday: Trump & "The Benefit of Madness"  

http://ryanholiday.net/dear-dad-dont-vote-donald-trump/

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