The Art of Manliness

Oct 26 2020 44 mins 449k

Podcast by The Art of Manliness





#656: The Hidden Pleasures of Learning for Its Own Sake
Oct 28 2020 42 mins  
When we typically think about learning, we tend to think about being in a structured school, and doing it for some reason -- to get a grade, to get a degree, to get a certain job. But my guest today says that if we want to live a truly flourishing life, we ought to make time for study and thought long after we leave formal education behind, and embrace learning as something wonderfully useless. Her name is Zena Hitz and she's the author of Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life. We begin our conversation with how the unique Great Books curriculum at St. John's College works, and how Zena got her undergraduate degree there and then went on to pursue a more traditional academic path, only to discover the downsides of the modern university system and be drawn back to St. John's, where she now teaches. From there we turn to what Zena argues are the hidden pleasures of the intellectual life, which include learning for its own sake as opposed to doing it to advance some goal, developing a rich inner life, and embracing the idea of true leisure. We then discuss how thinking and studying for its own sake is different from watching TV or playing video games, and how it can create a resilience-building, inner-directed refuge from an externally-driven world. We end our conversation with how you can carve out space for contemplation amidst the overload and noise of modern life, the importance of finding a community that wants the same thing, and how to get started with deeper study and reflection by reading the Great Books. Get the show notes at aom.is/lostinthought. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#655: Simple, Excuse-Busting Advice for Getting in Shape
Oct 26 2020 56 mins  
When it comes to getting in shape, there are always a bunch of excuses to use as to why you can't get yourself in gear: you don't know what program to start, you don't have time, you don't have any equipment, etc., etc. My guest today cuts through those excuses and the unnecessary complications people often bring to health and fitness to show us how you can lose weight and get strong in ways that are wonderfully simple, but powerfully effective. His name is Dan John, he's a strength and throwing sports coach, a writer of many books and articles on health and fitness, and a college lecturer. We begin our conversation with Dan's two foundational approaches to simplifying your life called "shark habits" and "pirate maps," which will help you organize and streamline all your decisions, in turn helping you focus on and stay consistent with your diet and workouts. We talk about the way being part of an intentional community can keep you on track with your fitness goals as well. From there we get into Dan's quadrants for eating and exercise -- Reasonable Workouts/Tough Diet; Reasonable Workouts/Reasonable Diet; Tough Workouts/Reasonable Diet; Tough Workouts/Tough Diet -- and when you should be in one quadrant or another. We then talk about a very simple way to get started lifting called the "One-Two-Three" method, Dan's highly effective 10,000 Swing Kettlebell challenge, and how you can still work out even if all you have is a single dumbbell. We also talk about one of the most effective bodyweight exercises, the pull-up, and the overlooked key to working your way into them if you can't do even a single rep right now. We then talk about why Dan thinks you should exercise outside more often and the difference between health and fitness. We end our conversation with Dan's prescription for losing weight. Get the show notes at aom.is/simplestrength. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#654: How to Astronaut
Oct 21 2020 46 mins  
If you grew up in the ‘80s like me, there's a good chance you really wanted to go to space camp and you really wanted to be an astronaut. You probably had a lot of questions about what it was like to live in space, and if those questions were never answered (or you've forgotten the answers), my guest today can tell you everything you ever wanted to know. His name is Colonel Terry Virts and he's been to space twice, the second time serving as commander of the International Space Station for 200 days. Terry also helped film the IMAX movie A Beautiful Planet, and is the author of How to Astronaut: An Insider's Guide to Leaving Planet Earth. Terry and I begin our conversation with the plan he set in childhood to become an astronaut via going to the Air Force Academy and becoming a pilot. We talk about how long it took him to make it to space once he joined NASA, the training he underwent for years which required being a skill-acquiring polymath, and how aspects of that training, which included flying jets and wilderness survival courses, didn't always directly correlate to his job as an astronaut, but were still essential in being adept at it. We also discuss the physical training Terry did both before his missions and after leaving the earth, and whether he suffered any long-term health issues from being in space. From there we get into what a typical day is like when you're floating through sixteen sunsets, including what space food looks like these days and whether they’re really eating "astronaut ice cream" up there, what it's like to sleep while weightless, and of course, that most burning of questions, "How do you go the bathroom in space?" We then discuss the importance of emotional and mental skills when you're living for months at a time in a space station, and what it was like to leave that station to take a spacewalk and see the earth from above. We end our conversation with how Terry physically and psychologically adjusted to returning to earth, whether he yearns to go back up again, and what he thinks the future of space exploration holds. Consider this show the stint at space camp your parents never signed off on. Get the show notes at aom.is/astronaut. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#653: The Dirtbag's Guide to Life
Oct 19 2020 54 mins  
If you call someone a dirtbag, you might be insulting them for being dishonest. Or, you might be describing their lifestyle -- their pursuit of an outdoor passion at the expense of more mainstream options and commitments. If you've ever dreamed of being a rock climber living in a van or becoming a rafting guide, thru-hiker, world traveler, or some other kind of nature-loving, adventure-seeking wanderer, my guest has written a handbook for making it happen. His name is Tim Mathis and he's the author of The Dirtbag's Guide to Life: Eternal Truth for Hiker Trash, Ski Bums, and Vagabonds. Tim and I begin our conversation with what it means to be a dirtbag, the origin of the term amongst the early rock climbers who explored Yosemite in the 50s and 60s, and why Tim thinks the lifestyle embodies a countercultural philosophy. Tim then offers a window into why others might adopt this approach to life, by sharing his story of how he personally became committed to dirtbagging. From there we turn to the brass tacks of embracing a life centered on outdoor adventure and exploration, beginning with how much money you need to make it happen, and the kinds of jobs and careers that are conducive to it, including, perhaps surprisingly, the field of nursing. Tim also shares how he responds to criticism that being a dirtbag isn't a responsible way to live. We then discuss the effect dirtbagging can have on someone's relationships, and whether this lifestyle is viable if you have a spouse and kids. At the end of our conversation, we discuss how, even if you're living a more freewheeling lifestyle, it's important to have a sense of meaning beyond traveling around and doing cool stuff, and the three elements that go into finding that kind of meaning, which apply to dirtbags and non-dirtbags alike. Get the show notes at aom.is/dirtbag. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#652: Chefs' Secrets for Organizing Your Life
Oct 14 2020 49 mins  
The kitchen of a busy restaurant can be a chaotic, frenetic environment. But the best chefs create a kind of personal eye in this storm, from which they can efficiently craft meal after meal without ever moving their feet. The system they use to do this is called mise-en-place -- a French word that means "to put in place," and signifies an entire lifestyle of readiness and engagement. My guest today spent years interviewing over a hundred chefs and other culinary professionals about the mise-en-place philosophy and then translated it into a system that can be used outside the kitchen in a book called Everything in Its Place: The Power of Mise-En-Place to Organize Your Life, Work, and Mind. His name is Dan Charnas and we begin our conversation with how Dan, a writer, realized that mise-en-place was something that could be used by everyone, and the system's three general principles and ten tools. We then unpack some of those tools, both in how they're used by cooks in the kitchen, and how they can be applied by regular folks at home and the office. We begin with the importance of squaring your checklists with your calendar and the one organizing process Dan most recommends: something called the 30-minute "meeze." We then discuss how to arrange your physical working space for greater efficiency and the importance of working clean. From there, Dan explains what he thinks Stephen Covey's famous idea of putting first things first doesn't take into consideration, and why it's important to understand the difference between what Dan calls "process time" and "immersive time." At the end of our conversation, we discuss the tension between perfection and delivery, the way the "call and call back" communication system used in kitchens creates teamwork and respect, and the fact that the success of any organizational system rests on daily commitment. Get the show notes at aom.is/workclean. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#651: How to Turn Fear Into Fuel
Oct 12 2020 45 mins  
We typically think of fear as a negative emotion. Something that feels terrible, and not only keeps us away from true danger, but also inhibits us from going after our life's goals and passions. Fear can indeed be an unwelcome hindrance, but, my guest today argues, it can also be a powerful propellant and a signpost towards success. His name is Patrick Sweeney, he's a tech entrepreneur, a university lecturer, a coach and consultant to CEOs, professional athletes, and Navy SEALs, and the author of Fear Is Fuel: The Surprising Power to Help You Find Purpose, Passion, and Performance. We begin our conversation with how a diagnosis of leukemia forced Patrick to confront the fact that he had led a life dominated and shrunken by fear, and inspired him to face those fears and to spend six years talking to leading neuroscientists about how to live more courageously. He explains how fear should be thought of not only as an early warning system for danger, but as an early warning system for opportunity. We then unpack the three kinds of fears which exist, and how you can be fearful in one area but courageous in another. Patrick then explains how it's possible to train the brain's courage center to control and reprogram its fear center, so you can get the best from fear, rather than letting it get the best of you. We discuss how uncertainty creates something called "free energy," how free energy creates fear, and how to reduce both forces by exposing yourself to a wide range of experiences. We end our conversation with how to find the motivation to take the first step into a fear, and three things you can do to gain the confidence to take action in the face of uncertainty. Get the show notes at aom.is/fearisfuel. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#650: Why People Are Building Bunkers for the Apocalypse
Oct 07 2020 53 mins  
When you think about bunkers, you might be apt to think of the 1950s and people building basement and backyard fallout shelters during the Cold War. But there's a second "Doom Boom" going on right now, and people aren't just burrowing into the earth to protect themselves from a nuclear bomb. My guest today traveled across four continents to explore what's driving this phenomenon and how it's manifesting itself in the modern age. His name is Bradley Garrett and he's a professor of cultural geography and the author of Bunker: Building for the End Times. We begin our conversation with the immersive dive Bradley took into urban exploration for his PhD, and how it led to his fascination with the building of underground bunkers. From there we dip into the history of bunkers, from the ancient subterranean cities built in Turkey to the governmental decisions made during the Cold War that led Americans to build blast shelters in their backyards. From there we dig into why a multi-billion dollar private bunker-building industry has emerged in the present day, and how it's not being driven by a specific threat, but instead a diffuse sense of dread. We discuss how bunker building breaks down into individual and communal approaches, and why the latter is currently ascendant. Bradley takes us on a tour of two underground communities: one a complex of over 500 subterranean cement rooms in South Dakota, and the other a former nuclear missile silo in Kansas which has been turned into a luxe, 15-story inverted skyscraper of survival condos, complete with swimming pool, dog park, movie theater, and grocery store. We then turn to the modern movement of backyard bunker building, and how it often represents an act of resistance against the surveillance state. We also look at the culture of prepping in different countries, including the building of bug-out vehicles and fire bunkers in Australia. We end our conversation with whether or not Bradley ultimately concluded that bunker building and survival prepping is a rational response to the state of the world, and whether he became a prepper himself. Get the show notes at aom.is/bunker. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#649: Thinking for Yourself in an Age of Outsourced Expertise
Oct 05 2020 43 mins  
In an age where endless streams of data, options, and information are available, it can feel like every choice -- from what TV show to watch to how to invest our money -- ought to be optimized, and yet making any choice, much less an ideal one, can seem completely overwhelming. How do we figure out what to do? Much of the time, we don't. Instead, we outsource our thinking to technology, experts, and set protocols. This, my guest today says, is where some real problems start. His name is Dr. Vikram Mansharamani and he's a Harvard lecturer who studies future trends and risks, as well as the author of Think for Yourself: Restoring Common Sense in an Age of Experts and Artificial Intelligence. Today on the show, Vikram explains how our increasingly complex lives have led us to increasingly rely on algorithms, specialists, and checklists to make decisions, even though experts are best suited to untangling complications rather than complexities. We then discuss the issues that can therefore arise in relying on expert advice, including the siloing of information and the application of misdirected focus. Once we diagnose the problem (and how the problem can, for one thing, muddy medical diagnoses), we turn to the solution, and how we can harness the good that technology and experts can provide, without undermining our ability to still think for ourselves, by doing things like asking experts about their incentives, knowing our own goals, triangulating opinions, and crossing silos. We end our conversation with how the serendipitous discovery of perspectives that can come from flipping through a magazine and browsing a bookstore can be part of restoring self-reliant thinking in the 21st century. Get the show notes at aom.is/thinkforyourself. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#648: Lessons in Building Rapport from Experts in Terrorist Interrogation
Sep 30 2020 57 mins  
What do you imagine when you imagine a terrorist being interrogated by an intelligence officer? The former getting roughed up? The latter yelling, banging his fists on the table, and demanding that the detainee talk? My guests today argue that using force in this way to get what you want isn't effective when you're dealing with a terrorist, or, for that matter, a teenager. Their names are Laurence and Emily Alison, and they're a married pair of forensic psychologists, as well as the authors of Rapport: The Four Ways to Read People. We begin our conversation with how through their extensive experience in training police, military, and security agencies like the FBI and CIA on how to conduct interrogations of criminals and terrorists, the Alisons discovered that literal and metaphorical browbeating was ineffective in inducing communication and cooperation, and that methods which built rapport were much more successful. We then discuss why building rapport in order to handle conflict, avoid arguments, and create connections is important not only in interrogation rooms but at work and at home. From there we dive into the four elements that make up this model of interpersonal communication, the last of which we demonstrate with some role play. We end our conversation with the idea of the "animal wheel," in which different personality styles are represented by a mouse, lion, T-Rex, and monkey, and the importance of understanding your own interpersonal style and that of the person you're engaging with, so you can predict how they'll react, and adapt accordingly. Get the show notes at aom.is/rapport. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#647: What Happened When Two Friends Left Their Jobs to Build a Cabin Together
Sep 28 2020 46 mins  
It's a thought that's crossed many a desk jockey's mind: "Man, I'd love to flee this office, get out from under this fluorescent-lighting, and do something more concrete with my hands. Like, maybe, build a cabin in the woods." My guests had these thoughts, and unlike most, actually pulled the trigger on their long-standing daydream. Their names are Bryan Schatz and Patrick Hutchison, and in today's episode they share the experience they had as a result and which they wrote about in a recent article for Outside magazine. We begin our conversation with how the idea of quitting their respective jobs as a reporter and copywriter to build a cabin together in the Cascades began as a joke between these two then burned-out 30-something friends, and how it slowly became a real, if still sketchy, plan to make it happen. Bryan and Pat share the idyllic way they thought the project would go, and when the reality of how much harder it would be than they thought set in. We discuss the unexpected challenges that arose, how the tensions of constantly working together affected their relationship, and how they kept an income coming in while on hiatus from full-time employment. We get into how long the cabin, which they originally thought would take two months to build, actually took to finish, the extent to which it went over budget, how they finally felt when it was done, and what they ultimately decided to do with it. We end our conversation with what, despite everything that went wrong, Bryan and Pat gained from the experience, and what they plan to do next. Get the show notes at aom.is/cabinbuild. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#646: How to Win at Losing
Sep 23 2020 49 mins  
Losing stinks. Nobody wants to suffer defeat in a game, flunk a test, or get passed over for a promotion. Losses can feel like stinging humiliations, insurmountable setbacks, like the end of the world; they can even push us to quit pursuing something we love. And yet losses can be the most instructive and meaningful parts of our lives, and be central to our ultimate success. My guest set out to study and explain these underappreciated upsides of getting bested. His name is Sam Weinman, he's a sportswriter, and he shares what he learned in his book, Win at Losing: How Our Greatest Setbacks Can Lead to Our Greatest Gains, as well as in today's episode. Sam and I begin our conversation with how losing is typically a lot more interesting than winning, the difference between losing and failing, and how you can lose without failing, as well as fail without losing. Sam then illustrates the lessons in humility, growth, personal responsibility, and resilience that can come from losing by sharing the stories of famous people who dealt with famously big losses, including golfer Greg Norman, soap star Susan Lucci, presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, and speed skater Dan Jansen. We end our conversation with how Sam's study of how to turn loss into gain has influenced his own children and the way they deal with setbacks. Good insights here both on how to deal with your own losses as well as how to help your kids deal with theirs. Get the show notes at aom.is/winatlosing. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#645: The Forgotten Story of the Lumberjack Commandos of WWII
Sep 21 2020 46 mins  
Today, it's hard to go very long without hearing about special operations forces like the Army's Green Berets and the Navy's SEALs. But before special operators became an ingrained part of the military's strategy and established a prominent presence in the public eye, they existed as experimental, now largely forgotten units that were launched during the Second World War. One of the primary predecessors of today's commandos was the 1st Special Service Force, which was known simply as the Force, and is described in a book of the same name by military historian Saul David. Today on the show, Saul explains how he came across the little known story of the Force and traces its origins to an idea formulated by a British civilian scientist and championed by Winston Churchill which envisioned a unit that could accompany a fleet of snow tanks into enemy territory. Saul details how the Force was composed of men from both America and Canada, how members were recruited from the rough-and-ready ranks of explorers, miners, lumberjacks, and hunters who were physically strong and used to cold temperatures and rugged terrain, and the rigorous training that turned these recruits into what was arguably the military's fittest and best disciplined fighting force -- a unit which would become known as the "Devil's Brigade." We then turn to the action these elite commandos saw during the war, which included scaling the sheer cliffs of a mountain to secure a Nazi stronghold. We end our conversation with why the unit was disbanded before the war was even over and how its legacy continues to live on in the special forces of today. Get the show notes at aom.is/theforce. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#644: How to Develop Greater Self-Awareness
Sep 16 2020 50 mins  
95% of people say that they're self-aware. But only 10-15% of people actually are. As my guest today says, that means "on a good day, 80% of us are lying to ourselves about how much we're lying to ourselves" and this blind spot can have big repercussions for our success and happiness. Her name is Tasha Eurich, and she's an organizational psychologist and the author of Insight: Why We're Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life. Tasha kicks off our conversation by arguing that our level of self-awareness sets the upper limit of our individual effectiveness and that self-awareness can be developed and is truly the meta skill of the 21st century. She then unpacks what it is you know about yourself when you possess self-awareness, how there are two types of this knowledge, internal and external, and how you can have one without the other. Tasha then outlines the seven pillars of self-awareness, the barriers to getting insights into them -- including falling into the cult of self -- and how these barriers can be overcome, including asking yourself a daily check-in question. We then discuss how two of the most common methods for gaining self-knowledge -- introspection and journaling -- can in fact backfire and how to do them more effectively by asking yourself what instead of why, and actually journaling less instead of more. We also get into why you should be an in-former, rather than a me-former on social media, how to become more mindful without meditation, and how to solicit and handle feedback from other people, including holding something called the "Dinner of Truth." Get the show notes at aom.is/selfawareness. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#642: Finding Money and Meaning in the Blue Collar Trades
Sep 09 2020 37 mins  
When it comes to living their best life and building substantial wealth, many young men's first thoughts turn to developing a new app or starting a popular YouTube channel. They don't think about digging ditches. But that's how my guest today became a millionaire, and he thinks more folks should consider seeking not only financial success, but true comfort, peace, and freedom, by rejecting society's standardized white collar career path, and looking into alternative routes through the skilled trades. His name is Ken Rusk, he's a construction business entrepreneur who's also been a life coach and mentor to hundreds of his employees, and he's the author of Blue Collar Cash: Love Your Work, Secure Your Future, and Find Happiness for Life. Ken and I begin our conversation with how a guy who got a job digging ditches in high school and skipped college went on to create a multi-million dollar construction business. We then talk about how there aren't enough people pursuing blue collar work, and how this "skills gap" regarding the trades is driving up demand, and in turn, the potential income to be made in this field. Ken talks about the cost-benefit analysis of going to college versus learning a skilled trade, and the advantages to the latter. He then explains the often underappreciated reward of blue collar work, which he calls "the step back moment." From there, Ken shares some stories of folks who found fulfillment pursuing blue collar work, and even made that switch later in life. Along the way, Ken shares the life advice he gives employees and job seekers about how to manage their money, set goals, and pursue their own version of happiness and success. Get the show notes at aom.is/bluecollarcash. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#450: How to Make Time For What Really Matters Every Day [RE-BROADCAST]
Sep 07 2020 52 mins  
This is a re-broadcast. The episode originally ran in October 2018. Do your days seem like a continuous blur of busyness, and yet you don’t seem to get much done, nor remember much about how you spent your time? As a former employee of Google, my guest today worked on the very apps and technology that can often suck away our time. Today, he’s dedicated to figuring out how to push back against these forces to help people take control of their time and attention. His name is John Zeratsky and he’s the co-author of the book Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day. Today on the show, John shares how the experience of feeling like he was missing months of his life led him to spending years experimenting with his habits and routines, looking for the best ways to to optimize energy, focus, and time. He then shares the simple 4-step daily framework that developed from this research and walks us through that system. John talks about choosing one “highlight” each day to ensure your most important work gets done and that your life is full of memorable moments. He also shares how to reduce the time you spend wading in what he calls “infinity pools,” why energy management is just as important as time management, and how reflection is essential in figuring out if what you’re doing is working. Lots of valuable direction in this show for how to get your life on track and find more hours and meaning in the day. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#641: How Eisenhower Led — A Conversation with Ike's Granddaughter
Sep 02 2020 62 mins  
From guiding the Allies to victory in World War II as supreme commander, to steering the ship of state for eight years as one of the country's least partisan and most popular presidents, few leaders in history have had to make as varied and consequential decisions as Dwight D. Eisenhower. My guest today possesses insights into how he made the many choices he was faced with in his military and political careers that are gleaned not only from studying Ike's life, but from personally knowing the man beneath the mantle. Her name is Susan Eisenhower and she's a writer, consultant, and policy strategist, one of Dwight's four grandchildren, and the author of the new book How Ike Led: The Principles Behind Eisenhower's Biggest Decisions. Susan and I begin our conversation with her relationship with Ike as both historic leader and ordinary grandfather, and why she decided to write a book about his leadership style. We then dive into the principles of his leadership, beginning with his decision to greenlight the D-Day invasion, what it reveals about his iron-clad commitment to taking responsibility, and how that commitment allowed him to be such an effective delegator. From there Susan explains how a love of studying history born in Ike's boyhood allowed him to take a big picture approach to strategy, how he used a desk drawer to deal with his lifelong struggle with anger, and how his belief in morale as an input rather than an output inspired him to always stay optimistic for the benefit of those he led. We then turn to how Eisenhower dealt with the discovery of concentration camps at the end of WWII and making peace with Germany after it. We then talk about his nonpartisan governing style as president which he called the "Middle Way" and which involved emphasizing cooperation, compromise, and unity, including members of both political parties in his cabinet, limiting his use of the "bully pulpit" to sway public opinion, and striving not to turn policy issues into personality confrontations. We then discuss how this style influenced how he dealt with Joseph McCarthy and enforced the Brown v. Board of Education decision. At the end of our conversation, Susan explains that while she doesn't expect everyone to agree with the difficult decisions her grandfather made, she thinks there's something to be learned from how he managed to make them, and to make them without becoming hard and cynical in the process. Get the show notes at aom.is/howikeled. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#640: Weird and Wonderful Ways to Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Aug 31 2020 45 mins  
When people start on a self-development journey, they'll sometimes create a bucket list -- all the things, all the typically exciting and pleasurable things, they hope to do before they die. My guest started his own self-improvement journey very differently, by creating an anti-bucket list consisting of things he didn't want to do, and embarking on a "year of adversity." His name is Ben Aldridge and he's the author of How to Be Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable: 43 Weird & Wonderful Ways to Build a Strong, Resilient Mindset. Ben and I begin our conversation with how his struggle with debilitating panic attacks inspired him to study philosophical and psychological ideas on how to fight back against his anxiety, what he learned that can benefit anyone looking to be more resilient, and how he was particularly inspired by the Stoic idea of intentionally practicing adversity to prepare for adversity. We then talk about the project Ben set for himself of embarking on a year of mental, physical, and skill-based challenges designed to push himself outside his comfort zone, how he decided what kinds of challenges to do, and how doing hard things changed him. From there we get into the specific challenges Ben completed, from taking cold showers to learning Japanese, and what they taught him about self-discipline, facing your fears, and the human potential for growth. We end our conversation with the ways he's continued to push himself after the year of challenges was through, even in the midst of the pandemic lockdown, including climbing Mt. Everest from inside his house. Get the show notes at aom.is/getuncomfortable. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#638: How Changing Your Breathing Can Change Your Life
Aug 24 2020 46 mins  
When we think about improving our health, we typically think about altering our diet, trying to exercise more, and taking vitamins and supplements. But my guest today argues that none of that stuff really matters if we haven't improved something even more foundational: our breathing. His name is James Nestor and his latest book is Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. At the beginning of our conversation, James explains why he paid thousands of dollars to have his nose plugged up, and what happened to his body when he could only breathe out of his mouth. We unpack the dangers of the common problem of being a habitual mouth breather, including the fact that it can even change the shape of our faces, and why modern humans started breathing through the mouth rather than the nose. James then reveals what happened when he switched his experiment around and breathed only through his nose, and explains why simply switching the passageway of your breathing from oral to nasal can have such significant health benefits. He also shares his weird trick to switch from mouth to nose breathing at night, which I've tried myself and found effective. We then discuss the importance of getting better at exhaling, and why you counterintuitively probably need to be thinking more about getting carbon dioxide into your body rather than oxygen. In the latter part of our conversation, we discuss more advanced breathing techniques, including hypoventilation training, where you double your exhales to inhales to acclimate yourself to higher levels of CO2, as well as other experimental breathing techniques that may allow people to take conscious control of the supposedly involuntary autonomic nervous system in order to boost immunity and heal diseases. Get the show notes at aom.is/breath. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#637: What Poker Can Teach You About Luck, Skill, and Mastering Yourself
Aug 19 2020 53 mins  
Maria Konnikova, who has her Ph.D in psychology and studies human behavior, had never played poker when she approached Eric Seidel, a renowned player of the game, asking him to show her the ropes. Eric agreed to be her coach and Maria spent a year working towards the World Series of Poker, playing in numerous tournaments and winning a major title and hundreds of thousands of dollars along the way. But the real prize she was after in this experimental endeavor wasn't money, but insight into the intersection between skill and luck, and how much control we humans have over our fate. She got those insights in spades, and shares them in her latest book: The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win. Today on the show Maria explains why the poker table may be the best place to learn about the balance between chance and skill, and why we have such trouble untangling those two forces. We then get into how gambling has long been an interest of philosophers and led to advancements in probability theory, as well as why understanding the dynamics of betting allows us to improve ourselves. Maria then shares how she learned to detach herself from the outcomes of hands and concentrate only on what she could control, and how liberating it is to separate process from results. She describes the connection between poker and Sherlock Holmes, and how the game helped her not just see things but observe them. We then delve into the biases that get you off track with your goals, and the simple technique you can use to overcome them. We end our conversation with Maria's conclusions on the respective roles luck and skill play in our lives. Get the show notes at aom.is/poker. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#636: Why You Overeat and What to Do About It
Aug 17 2020 57 mins  
We all know the basics of losing weight: don't consume more calories than your body needs. And yet many of us still overeat anyway, sometimes continually, sometimes to the point where it leads to obesity, diabetes, and a significantly lower quality of life. Why does our behavior betray our intentions to be lean and healthy? My guest today argues that the answer lies in the ancient instincts of our brains that no longer fit the environment of the modern world. His name is Stephan Guyenet, and he's a neuroscientist, obesity researcher, and the author of The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat. We begin our conversation with what's changed in our country to turn obesity into an epidemic, and why Americans started gaining more weight in the 1970s. We then dive into exactly how the reward system in our brains leads us to eat more than we need to, how modern manufactured foods like Doritos hijack this reward system, and the factors that ramp up our cravings, including the buffet effect. We then explain how to push back on the desire to overeat, including reevaluating the assumption that all the food you consume needs to be delicious. From there we turn to the role that the hormone leptin plays in appetite regulation, how it can make it hard to keep the weight you lose from coming back, and the best techniques to manage this countervailing force. We end our conversation with the role stress and sleep play in weight gain. Get the show notes at aom.is/hungrybrain. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#635: The Existentialist's Survival Guide
Aug 12 2020 47 mins  
Life isn't an easy road to navigate. We're moody creatures, susceptible to an array of psychological setbacks, emotional ups and downs, fruitless searches for meaning, and trials posed by anxiety, depression, and despair. It's the kind of journey one needs a survival guide for, and my guest today says one of the best can be found in the writings of existential philosophers. His name is Gordon Marino and he's a football and boxing coach, a professor of philosophy, and the author of The Existentialist's Survival Guide: How to Live Authentically in an Inauthentic Age. Gordon and I begin our conversation with how he personally found existentialism, and how his coaching intersects with his teaching. We then get into what existential philosophy is all about, and the thinkers and authors who are considered to be existentialists. Gordon shares what he thinks is the greatest existential novel, and which of Soren Kierkegaard’s books he most recommends reading. From there we delve into what Kierkegaard has to say about anxiety, how he thought existential angst was the ultimate teacher, the distinction he drew between depression and despair, and why he argues that procrastination is one of our greatest moral dangers. We then unpack the different models of living an authentic life that the existentialists espoused, and what Nietzsche meant with his injunction to "live dangerously." We then get into the existentialists’ take on love, why love is actually hard to accept, and why you should presuppose love in others. We end our conversation with what boxing can teach about existential philosophy. Get the show notes at aom.is/existential. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#634: How to Design Conversations That Matter
Aug 10 2020 49 mins  
We typically don't think much about how we structure a conversation. We just sort of wing it and hope for the best. But my guest today argues that all conversations -- even the small and mundane -- can impact our ability to lead, influence, and connect, and ought to be approached with thoughtfulness and intention. His name is Daniel Stillman, he's a consultant, author, and podcaster, and in his book Good Talk: How to Design Conversations That Matter, he draws on his background in design to show how we can use the principles of design thinking to improve the quality of our exchanges. Daniel and I kick off our discussion by unpacking the defaults of conversation people often fall back on. Daniel compares the structure of conversation to an operating system, and we turn to how we can improve this conversational OS, beginning with the way we invite people into a conversation with us, and why we shouldn't just ask, "Can we talk?" We then get into how we can improve the "interface" of our conversations, by recognizing the influence that space and place have on them, and choosing the right environment for a particular dialogue. We end our conversation with the options you have for responding when it's your turn to talk and how to deal with the gaffes we all make during conversations, and the feelings of regret that frequently follow. Get the show notes at aom.is/conversationdesign. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#633: The World and Vision of Lakota Medicine Man Black Elk
Aug 05 2020 56 mins  
When he was nine years old in 1872, Black Elk, a member of the Lakota tribe, had a near-death vision in which he was called to save not only his people but all of humanity. For the rest of his life, Black Elk's vision haunted and inspired him as he took part in many of the seminal confrontations between the Lakota and the U.S. government, including those at Little Bighorn and Wounded Knee. My guest today is the author of a biography of this native holy man. His name is Joe Jackson and his book is Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary. We begin our conversation with a background of the Sioux or Lakota Indians, including how the introduction of the horse turned them into formidable hunters and warriors and how their spirituality influenced their warfare. Joe then introduces us to Black Elk and unfolds the vision that he had as a boy which would lead him to follow in his family's footsteps by becoming a medicine man and guide him for the rest of his life. We then take detours into the seminal battles between the U.S government and the Lakota that Black Elk witnessed firsthand, as well as the Sun Dance and Ghost Dance rituals which helped catalyze them. Joe then explains why Black Elk converted to Catholicism after the Indian Wars and how he fused Lakota spirituality with his newfound faith. We then discuss why Black Elk decided to tell his vision to a white poet named John Neihardt and the cultural influence the resulting book, Black Elk Speaks, had on the West in the 20th century. We end our conversation discussing whether Black Elk ever felt he fulfilled his vision. Get the show notes at aom.is/blackelk. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#632: How the Internet Makes Our Minds Shallow
Aug 03 2020 53 mins  
Have you found it harder and harder to sit with a good book for long periods of time without getting that itch to check your phone? Well, you're not alone. My guest today makes the case that the internet has changed our brains in ways that make deep, focused thinking harder and harder. His name is Nicholas Carr, and he documented what was then a newly-emerging phenomenon ten years ago in his book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. The Shallows has now been re-released with a new afterword, and Nick and I begin our conversation with how he thinks the effect of digital technology on our minds has or hasn't changed over the last decade. We then discuss the idea of the medium being the message when it comes to the internet, and how this particular medium changes our brains and the ways we think and approach knowledge and the world. Nick then explains how we read texts on screens differently than texts in books, why hyperlinks mess with our ability for comprehension, why it's still important to develop our own memory bank of knowledge even in a time when we can access facts from an outsourced digital brain, and how social media amplifies our craving for the fast and easy-to-digest over the slow and contemplative. We end our conversation with how Nick himself has tried to strike a balance in keeping the advantages of the internet while mitigating its downsides. Get the show notes at aom.is/shallows. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#631: How to Prevent and Survive a Home Invasion
Jul 29 2020 46 mins  
You're lying in bed at night and hear a noise downstairs. Is there someone in your house, and if there is, do you know what to do? While we'd like to think we'd rise to the occasion and readily dispatch with the bad guys, my guest today argues that without preparation and training, you're likely to flounder, and that you should have put more thought into how to keep the invader out of your house in the first place. His name is Dave Young, and he's a security expert and the author of How to Defend Your Family and Home: Outsmart an Invader, Secure Your Home, Prevent a Burglary and Protect Your Loved Ones from Any Threat. We begin our conversation with how Dave got involved with security training, the intensive field research he did for his book, and the basic equation criminals use in deciding whether or not to make your house a target. We then delve into how to tweak that equation in your favor, beginning with casing your house like a criminal would; we go over the vulnerabilities to look for as you walk the perimeter of your property, and the actionable changes to make to deter would-be home invaders. Dave then walks us through what to do if someone does invade your home, including the criteria to use in picking a place to hide, choosing a weapon to fight back, and selecting an engagement point to confront the intruder. We also get into the importance of firearm training, if you decide to own a gun for self-defense. We end our conversation with an oft-overlooked part of surviving a home invasion: the months and years of psychological and judicial aftermath. Get the show notes at aom.is/homeinvasion. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#630: The Strategy Paradox
Jul 27 2020 38 mins  
To be a great success in business, you need to have a compelling vision, create a well-thought-out strategy to achieve that vision, and then fully commit to that strategy with action and resources. That's also the recipe for being a great failure in business. That's what my guest argues in his book The Strategy Paradox: Why Committing to Success Leads to Failure. His name is Michael Raynor and we begin our discussion by describing the strategy paradox: the fact that the same sound strategy can lead to both success and failure. We discuss how the outcome then depends less on the strategy itself, than on the idea you decide to bet on, using the example of the way Sony employed the right strategy in backing Betamax in the VCR wars, but still lost out to VHS. Raynor then explains the limitations of forecasting and adaption, the approaches companies typically use to navigate the tension between needing to commit to something, and being uncertain they've committed to the right thing. He then unpacks two more effective ways of developing strategic flexibility: separating the management of commitment from the management of uncertainty, and acquiring a portfolio of assets that will increase your optionality. We end our conversation with whether the strategy paradox can be applied not only to making decisions in business, but to making decisions in our personal lives as well. Get the show notes at aom.is/strategyparadox. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#629: Why We Swim
Jul 22 2020 42 mins  
If you've been swimming since you were a child, you probably don't think too much about it anymore. But when you take a step back, the human act of swimming is a pretty interesting thing. You weren't born knowing how to swim; it's not instinctual. So why are people so naturally drawn to water? And what do we get out of paddling around in it? My guest today explores these questions in her book Why We Swim. Her name is Bonnie Tsui, and we begin our conversation today with how humans are some of the few land animals that have to be taught how to swim, and when our ancestors first took to the water. We then discuss how peoples who have made swimming a primary part of their culture, have evolved adaptations that have made them better at it. We discuss how swimming can be both psychically and physically restorative and how it can also bring people together, using as an example a unique community of swimmers which developed during the Iraq War inside one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. We also talk about the competitive element of swimming, and how for thousands of years it was in fact a combat skill, and even took the form of a martial art, called samurai swimming, in Japan. We end our conversation with how swimming can facilitate flow, and some of the famous philosophers and thinkers who tuned the currents of their thoughts while gliding through currents of water. Get the show notes at aom.is/whyweswim. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#628: The Rise of Secular Religion and the New Puritanism
Jul 20 2020 74 mins  
There has been a lot of civil and political upheaval lately, and what makes the atmosphere particularly disorienting, is that beyond the more obvious proximate and commonly-discussed causes for the turmoil, it feels like there are even deeper cultural currents and contexts at play, that are yet hard to put one's finger on and understand. There's a fervor in the debates and conflict that almost seems . . . religious. My guest today would say that's exactly the right word to describe the tenor of things. His name is Jacob Howland, he's a recently retired professor of philosophy, and the currents at play in today's world are things he's spent his whole career studying -- from Plato and Aristotle to the Hebrew Bible and Kierkegaard, with a particular emphasis on the political philosophy of the ancient Greeks. Howland draws on all those areas to weave together a kind of philosophical roadmap to how we've arrived at our current cultural zeitgeist. In particular, Howland makes the case that what we're seeing today is the rise of a kind of secular religion, a new Puritanism, that worships at what he calls "the Church of Humanity." This new Puritanism bases the idea of moral purity around one's views on issues like race and gender, and seeks to purge anyone who doesn't adhere to the proscribed dogma. Jacob walks us through the tenets of the dominant influence on this secular religion -- a strain of modern thought called "critical theory" -- and offers a kind of philosophical genealogy on what led up to it, which includes the ideas of Rousseau, Marx, and Hegel. We discuss how critical theory contrasts with classical liberalism, and approaches people as members of groups rather than as individuals, and as abstractions rather than particulars, and how this lens on the world leads to identity politics and cancel culture. We delve into Kierkegaard's prophecies on the leveling of society, and how the modern tendency to make man the measure of all things can leave us feeling spiritually and intellectually empty, and looking to politics to fill an existential void it can't ultimately satisfy. We end our conversation describing the sustenance which can. Get the show notes at aom.is/howland. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#625: The Code of the Warrior
Jul 08 2020 59 mins  
War is a violent and bloody business, but it's rarely a no-holds barred free-for-all. Instead, codes of conduct that determine what is and isn't honorable behavior on the battlefield have existed since ancient times. My guest today explored these various codes in a book she wrote during the decade she spent teaching at the United States Naval Academy. Her name is Shannon French, she's a professor of ethics and philosophy, and her book is The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values Past and Present. Shannon and I begin our conversation with the pointed questions she used to pose to the cadets she taught as to how being a warrior was different than being a killer or murderer, and when killing is and isn't ethical. She then explains how the warrior codes which developed all around the world arose organically from warriors themselves for their own protection, and how these codes are more about identity than rules. Shannon and I then take a tour of warrior codes across time and culture, starting with the code in Homer's Iliad, and then moving into the strengths and weaknesses of the Stoic philosophy which undergirded the code of the Romans. From there we unpack the code of the medieval knights of Arthurian legend, what American Indians can teach soldiers about the need to make clear transitions between the homefront and the warfront, and how the Bushido code of the samurais sought to balance the influence of four different religions. We end our conversation with the role warrior codes play today in an age of increasingly technologized combat. Get the show notes at aom.is/warriorcode. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#624: The Crazy, Forgotten Story of America's First Fitness Influencer
Jul 06 2020 47 mins  
The topic of health and fitness has long been a popular one for magazines, and in most recent times, for blogs and Instagram accounts. But what these modern publishers and influencers probably don't realize is that they're standing on the shoulders of an ambitious eccentric who laid the foundation for much of modern American media: Bernarr Macfadden. My guest today is Mark Adams, who wrote a biography of this proto fitness guru called Mr. America: How Muscular Millionaire Bernarr Macfadden Transformed the Nation Through Sex, Salad, and the Ultimate Starvation Diet. Mark and I begin our conversation with how Macfadden discovered a passion for health and fitness as a young man and failed at his attempt to become a personal trainer, despite coining the motto "Weakness is a crime; don't be a criminal." We then discuss how Macfadden went on to start the highly successful magazine, Physical Culture, and then an entire publishing empire, which pioneered many of the confessional, first-person, personal branding techniques still used today. Mark shares the tenets of Macfadden's sometimes sound, sometimes wacky health philosophy, including his advocacy of fasting, and what happened when Mark tried out some of Macfadden's protocols on himself. Mark and I then delve into how Macfadden founded a utopian community in the New Jersey suburbs, was convicted of obscenity charges, trained fascist cadets for Mussolini, and ran for U.S. senator on a physical fitness platform. We end our conversation with why Macfadden was forgotten, and yet had a lasting effect on the world of health and fitness, as well as media as a whole. Get the show notes at aom.is/macfadden. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#479: Becoming a Digital Minimalist [RE-BROADCAST]
Jul 01 2020 64 mins  
This is a re-broadcast. The episode originally ran in February 2019. Practicing minimalism with your possessions has been a trend for the past decade, and it can be a worthy practice, as long as you use it as a means to greater efficacy outside your personal domain, rather than just an end in itself. But there's arguably a minimalism practice that's even more effective in achieving that greater efficacy: digital minimalism. My guest has written the definitive guide to the philosophy and tactics behind digital minimalism. His name is Cal Newport and this is his third visit to the AoM Podcast. We’ve had him on the show previously to discuss his books So Good They Can’t Ignore You and Deep Work. Today, we discuss his latest book, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. We begin our conversation discussing why digital tech feels so addicting, why Steve Jobs didn’t originally intend for the iPhone to become something we check all the time, and why the common tips for reducing your smartphone use don't work and you need to implement more nuclear solutions instead. We then discuss the surprising lesson the Amish can teach you about being intentional about technology, how cleaning up your digital life is like decluttering your house, and why he recommends a 30-day tech fast to evaluate what tech you want to let back into your life. Cal then makes an argument for why you should see social media like training wheels for navigating the web, how to take those wheels off, and why you should own your own domain address. We end our conversation exploring what you should do in the free time you open up once your digital distractions are tamed, and the advanced techniques you can use to take the practice of digital minimalism to the next level. I think you'll find this a tremendously interesting and important show. Get the show notes at aom.is/digitalminimalism. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#622: How to Simplify Your Life and Get Off the Grid
Jun 24 2020 54 mins  
Many dream of leaving the city and all its tethers and obligations and creating a simpler, more independent life farther from the mainstream population and entirely off the grid. But how do you go from that daydream to making such a move a reality? My guest walks us through the process today. His name is Gary Collins, he made the leap himself and now lives off the grid in Northeast Washington, and he's the author of several books on off grid living as well as simplifying your life. We begin our conversation today with why Gary decided to leave his conventional, urban, 9-5 existence to find a freer lifestyle, and how he defines being off the grid. We then get into why Gary thinks you should make the move to living off the grid in a series of steps, the first of which is to simplify your existing life in three main ways. Gary then makes the case for why living in a RV should be the next step in your journey, before discussing the process of finding land for your off grid home, and the factors to consider in picking a locale. From there we get into how those who live off the grid take care of water, sewage, power, and internet, how they construct the house itself, and what to know about the start-up costs involved. We end our conversation with a discussion of getting off the grid in a more metaphorical way by quitting social media, and why Gary thinks you should pull the plug on those platforms, even if you're an entrepreneur. Get the show notes at aom.is/offgrid. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#620: How to Deal With Life's Regrets
Jun 17 2020 49 mins  
We've all asked "what if" questions about our life: What if I had majored in art instead of business? What if I had let my best friend know I liked her as more than a friend? What if I had taken the job offer in Colorado? Sometimes contemplating the imagined possibilities of these alternative histories fills us with sharp pangs of regret. My guest today says that's not necessarily a bad thing. His name is Neal Roese and he's a professor of psychology and marketing and the author of If Only: How to Turn Regret Into Opportunity. Neal and I begin our conversation by unpacking how asking "what if" is to engage in something called "counterfactual thinking," and how you can create a downward counterfactual, in which you imagine how a decision could have turned out worse, or an upward counterfactual, where you imagine how a decision could have turned out better. Neal then explains why living without regret isn't actually that healthy, and why even though regret is an unpleasant feeling, it can be an important spur towards greater improvement, action, and agency. We then do get into the circumstances in which regret can become a negative force, before turning to what Neal's research says are the most common regrets people have in life. At the end of our conversation, we pivot to talking about how imagining how your life could have turned out worse, can make you feel happier. Get the show notes at aom.is/regret. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#619: What Driving Tells Us About Agency, Skill, and Freedom
Jun 15 2020 57 mins  
According to Silicon Valley, self-driving cars are the future of transportation. Instead of owning and driving a car, you can just summon an AI-operated vehicle with your smartphone and have this superpowered computer taxi you to your destination. No more car maintenance, no more traffic, no more accidents. It may sound great on the face of it, but my guest today argues that shifting from being a driver to being a mere passenger represents an existential risk in and of itself, as well as a symbol for the potential loss of much broader human values. His name is Matthew Crawford and he's a philosopher, mechanic, and hot rodder, as well as the author of Shop Class as Soulcraft. In his latest book, Why We Drive: Towards a Philosophy of the Open Road, Matthew investigates the driver’s seat as one of the few remaining domains of skill, exploration, play, and freedom. Matthew and I begin our conversation discussing how freely moving around in our environment is a big part of what makes us human and then explore how shifting from being the drivers of our own cars to the passengers of self-driving cars could result in a loss of that humanity by eliminating agency, privacy, and proficiency. As our wide-ranging conversational road trip continues, Matthew and I take detours into what things like hot rodding and demolition derbies can tell us about mastery, play, and competition. We end our conversation on what driving ultimately has to do with the overarching idea of self-governance. Get the show notes at aom.is/whywedrive. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#617: What It's Like to Go to Army Ranger School
Jun 08 2020 39 mins  
Which branch of the military has the toughest training course for its officers and special operators is a matter of animated debate, but there's no question that the Army's Ranger School is a viable candidate for carrying that designation. Over nine weeks, and three grueling phases, soldiers undergo physical, mental, and emotional challenges that test their endurance, resilience, and leadership. My guest today went through Ranger School twice: first as an infantry officer in 2004, and then just last year as the first journalist to embed with a class all the way through the course. His name is Will Bardenwerper and he wrote an article about his experience for Outside Magazine called "Army Ranger School Is a Laboratory of Human Endurance." Will and I begin our conversation with why he wanted to observe Ranger School from a third-party perspective after participating in it firsthand as a soldier. Will then explains the difference between earning your tab by graduating from Ranger School and being an official Army Ranger who belongs to the Ranger Regiment special operations force. Will then gives us a big picture overview of the three phases of Ranger School: Benning Phase, Mountain Phase, and Swamp Phase. We then dive into what happens in each phase, taking side trips along the way into the controversy of allowing women into the course, whether or not it's gotten easier since Will went through, and the importance of doing well in the combat patrol exercises and peer reviews in which the students participate. We end our conversation discussing the lessons in endurance that civilians can take away from those who graduate from Ranger School and earn the tab. Get the show notes at aom.is/rangerschool. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#616: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling
Jun 03 2020 52 mins  
One of the most burning questions in life is what it is you're called to do with it. What is your life's purpose? What great work are you meant to do? Guidance on this question can come from many sources, and my guest today says that one of the best is the Bhagavad Gita, a text of Hindu scripture thousands of years old. He's a psychotherapist, yoga teacher, and author of The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling. Stephen Cope and I begin our conversation with an introduction to the Bhagavad Gita, the significant influence it's had on philosophers and leaders for ages, and what it can teach us about making difficult decisions. We then discuss the insights the Gita offers on the four pillars of right living, beginning with discerning your true calling or sacred duty. We unpack the three areas in your life to examine for clues to your life's purpose, and why that purpose may be small and quiet rather than big and splashy. Stephen then explains the doctrine of unified action, why you have to pursue your calling full out, and why that pursuit should include the habit of deliberate practice. We also discuss why it's central to let go of the outcome of actions to focus on the work itself, and the need to turn your efforts over to something bigger than yourself. All along the way, Stephen offers examples of how these pillars were embodied in the lives of eminent individuals who lived out their purpose. Get the show notes at aom.is/gita. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#615: How to Develop Authentic Gravitas
Jun 01 2020 49 mins  
When it comes to how you're perceived in your professional life, it's likely you want to be taken seriously. You want your words to carry weight. You want to be influential and listened to, regardless of your position in a company. You want to carry yourself with gravitas. My guest today is an organizational psychologist and executive coach who explains how to cultivate this quality in her book Authentic Gravitas: Who Stands Out and Why. Her name is Rebecca Newton and we begin our conversation together by delving into the traits that go into embodying gravitas, as well as the myths we have about this quality. We discuss how gravitas doesn't necessarily include confidence and charisma, as well as its false manifestations. Rebecca then walks us through the steps to carrying yourself with gravitas in meetings and presentations, including why you should script the beginning and end of your speeches, and how to put more gravitas into your voice and words. We also discuss what to focus on when you're pulled into an impromptu conversation, how to get real feedback about how you can improve the way you carry yourself, and how to convey gravitas in online communication. We then discuss why practicing self-leadership is so important to developing gravitas, why Rebecca thinks everyone needs to create a "personal thought leadership window," and how you can use your drive to and from work to become more thoughtful and reflective. We end our conversation with the questions you should start asking yourself today to develop more gravitas. Get the show notes at aom.is/gravitas. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#614: Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life
May 27 2020 56 mins  
When most of us run into obstacles with how we think and approach the world -- whether in terms of dealing with mental health issues like depression and anxiety or simply making progress with our relationships and work, we typically try to focus in on solving the perceived problem, or we run away from it. In either case, instead of feeling better, we feel more stuck. My guest today says we need to free ourselves from these instincts and our default mental programming and learn to just sit with our thoughts, and even turn towards those which hurt the most. His name is Steven Hayes and he's a professor of psychology, the founder of ACT -- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy -- and the author of over 40 books, including his latest A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters. Steven and I spend the first part of our conversation in a very interesting discussion as to why traditional interventions for depression and anxiety -- drugs and talk therapy -- aren't very effective in helping people get their minds right, and how ACT takes a different approach to achieving mental health. We then discuss the six skills of psychological flexibility that undergird ACT and how these skills can be used not only by those dealing with depression and anxiety but by anyone who wants to get out of their own way and show up and move forward in every area of their lives. Get the show notes at aom.is/liberatedmind. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#613: How Soldiers Die in Battle
May 25 2020 54 mins  
War is about many things: glory, violence, courage, destruction. But at its heart is death. Each side in a conflict tries to kill as many of the enemy as possible, while avoiding being killed themselves. The way these deaths have played out over thousands of years of warfare has changed not simply based on the way martial technology has changed, but also on the way that the psychological and cultural pressures that have led societies and individual men to fight have changed. My guest today, Michael Stephenson, is a military historian who explores these evolutions in his book The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die in Battle. Today Michael and I discuss the forces that led soldiers to their fate over the centuries, from advancements in weaponry to the expectations of social class. At the beginning of our conversation Michael discusses why he wanted to write this book, and the balance he had to walk in trying to describe the reality of death on the battlefield, without conveying those details in a sensationalistic or titillating manner. We then trace the history of death in war, beginning with its primitive beginnings and working our way to the modern day. Along the way we discuss how gunpowder changed the nature of warfare, the effect that distance has on how heroic a confrontation seems, why artillery is particularly terrifying, what motivates soldiers to fight, and much more. This is a surprisingly enlightening and humane look at an oft glossed over aspect of the human experience. Get the show notes at aom.is/lastfullmeasure. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#611: How a Weekly Marriage Meeting Can Strengthen Your Relationship
May 18 2020 37 mins  
Several years ago, Kate and I implemented a practice that has helped strengthen our relationship. It's called a "marriage meeting," and we got the idea from my guest today. Her name is Marcia Naomi Berger, and she's a therapist and the author of Marriage Meetings: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You've Always Wanted. Marcia and I begin our discussion with how she developed the idea of marriage meetings and why couples can benefit from implementing this habit. We then unpack the four-part agenda of the marriage meeting, which includes showing appreciation, discussing household chores, planning for good times, and resolving big issues, and Marcia explains why you need to do the steps in that particular order. She then addresses the possible objection to meeting with one's spouse in a more structured way, and explains why the format of the marriage meeting is more effective than trying to discuss these things on the fly. She then provides tips and insights on how to execute each part of the marriage meeting, including the importance of being specific with your appreciation, following up on to-dos, and scheduling good times both as a couple and as individuals. Marcia then shares advice on what to do if you want to start the marriage meeting practice but your spouse doesn't, how your meetings can take as little as 15 minutes, and how best to communicate during the meeting so that each partner will feel good about keeping up this game-changing habit. Get the show notes at aom.is/marriagemeeting. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#610: Who Lives in Survival Situations, Who Dies, and Why
May 13 2020 46 mins  
In disasters or accidents, why do some people survive and others perish? In exploring this question, my guest has uncovered psychological and philosophical insights into not only dealing with life-threatening crises, but strategically navigating any situation that involves risk and decision-making. His name is Laurence Gonzales and he's a pilot, a journalist, and the author of several books, including the focus of today's conversation: Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. Today on the show, we discuss how the story of his father being shot out of the sky during WWII set Laurence on a journey to explore the mysterious underpinnings of survival. Laurence then explains what happens to us mentally and emotionally in a disaster situation that causes us to make poor decisions, how our mental models can get us in trouble, and why rule breakers are more likely to survive than rule followers. Laurence then walks us through complexity theory and how trying to make things safer can counterintuitively make them more dangerous. We then talk about why the frequency with which you yell at your kids correlates to your chances of surviving a life-threatening emergency, before ending our conversation with a discussion of the paradoxes would-be survivors must grapple with, including being both realistic and hopeful at the same time. Get the show notes at aom.is/deepsurvival. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#609: The 3 Tasks of Moving From Adolescence to Adulthood
May 11 2020 50 mins  
A lot of ink has been spilled about how young people today are struggling to transition from adolescence to adulthood. But these think pieces are often heavy on blame and light on solutions. My guest today takes an understanding approach to the difficulties of growing up, as well as offers practical strategies for facilitating the process. His name is Mark McConville, and he's a family clinical psychologist who's spent decades working with young clients and written a book on what he's found does and doesn't work in getting them to become more independent called Failure to Launch: Why Your Twentysomething Hasn't Grown Up . . . and What to Do About It. We begin our conversation with how Mark defines a failure to launch, when in his career he started to notice this issue in his young clients, and what factors are behind its prevalence. He then explains the idea of "emerging adulthood" and how it's normal for it to take some time for a twenty-something to start feeling like a grown-up. Mark and I then unpack the three tasks a young person must master to transition to adulthood, which includes discussions of what prevents twenty-somethings from taking on grown-up responsibilities, how parents need to shift from a supervisory role to a consultant role, the importance of getting going in the right direction, and why young adults should treat life like a climbing wall. We end our conversation with advice to parents on the best way to motivate their kids to tackle the tasks of growing up. Plenty of insights for both young adults and their parents in this episode. Get the show notes at aom.is/launch. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#608: How Caffeine Hooks, Hurts, and Helps Us
May 06 2020 46 mins  
More than 80% of the world's population consumes the same psychostimulant every single day. Yet few of us know very much about our favorite daily drug . . . caffeine. My guest today will shed some light on humanity's love affair with this pick-me-up substance. His name is Murray Carpenter and he's the author of Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us. We begin our discussion exploring what caffeine does to our mind and body, before delving into how caffeine consumption developed in different places all around the world and how the way we get our caffeine fix has evolved over the millennia. Murray and I then discuss the popularity of coffee in America and how our grandparents actually drank way more of it than we do today. Murray explains how caffeinated sodas became a stimulating competitor to coffee in the 19th century and how energy drinks became a huge business in the late 20th. Murray and I then discuss how you're probably ingesting more caffeine than you realize, and what the generally recommended maximum amount to consume per day is. We then get into whether caffeine can enhance athletic performance, and how much you need to take for it to make a difference. We then discuss the overlooked benefits of caffeine, as well as its downsides, and end our conversation with the question of whether caffeine is an addictive substance. This episode will get you thinking about your morning joe differently. Get the show notes at aom.is/caffeinated. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#606: How to Activate Your Brain's Happy Chemicals
Apr 29 2020 44 mins  
Everyone has experienced the way our feelings fluctuate day by day, and even hour by hour. Sometimes we're feeling up and sometimes we're feeling down. My guest today says these oscillations are a result of nature's operating system and that you can learn to better manage these emotional peaks and valleys. Her name is Loretta Breuning and she's the author of several books on happiness and the human brain, including her latest, Tame Your Anxiety: Rewiring Your Brain for Happiness. We begin our conversation by discussing the similarities between human brains and the brains of other mammals, and how our brains release happiness-producing chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin to spur us to seek rewards related to our survival needs. We also talk about the unhappy chemical of cortisol which is released in response to perceived threats, and the factors that have increased our stress and anxiety in the modern world. Loretta then explains that the boost we get whenever the brain's happy chemicals are activated doesn't last, and how we need to plan and execute healthy options for proactively stimulating these chemicals, including creating expectations for rewards and finding small, positive ways of increasing our status. We end our conversation with how to manage spikes of cortisol in yourself, as well as help other people manage their emotional troughs. Get the show notes at aom.is/happychemicals. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#605: The Money Moves You Should Make Right Now
Apr 27 2020 49 mins  
The shutdowns that have accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic have wreaked havoc on the global economy. Millions of people are out of work, businesses are cratering, and the stock market has tanked. Whether you've been hard hit by these effects or are so far weathering the storm yet feel uncertain about your future, what financial moves should you be making right now? To get some insight, I brought back personal finance expert Ramit Sethi, author of the book I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Since the pandemic started, Ramit has been hosting "fireside chats" on his Instagram account where he covers a financial topic pertinent to the pandemic, as well as answers questions from his community of followers. Today we discuss some of the ideas Ramit's been hitting on during these chats as well as the common financial questions he's been fielding. I begin our conversation by asking Ramit why he tells people they shouldn't panic, but should overreact. We then dig into Ramit's advice for people who fall into different categories as to how the pandemic has affected them, beginning with survival strategies for those who are out of a job altogether. Ramit then shares the money moves people who do still have income coming in should make and why he's changed his tune on how much of an emergency fund you should have. We then discuss why now is a good time to find ways to earn more money and what investing should look like during an economic slump. We end our conversation with Ramit's advice on how to look for a job during a pandemic and what small businesses can do to adapt to the current climate. Get the show notes at aom.is/pandemicfinances. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#604: The Boring Decadence of Modern Society
Apr 22 2020 45 mins  
On the surface, it can feel like we've made a lot of technological, economic, and cultural progress during the past 30 years. But if you look closer, you start to notice that in a lot of ways, we've been running on repeat for several decades now. My guest today argues that this is what typically happens to rich and powerful societies: A period of growth and dynamism, such as we experienced after WWII, is followed by a period of stagnation and malaise. His name is Ross Douthat and his latest book is The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success. We begin our conversation discussing Ross's idea of decadence and how it's particularly marked by the quality of boredom. We then explore how decadence manifests itself in different areas of our society: Ross and I discuss how even though the realms of the economy and technology might seem vibrant (or at least they did before the pandemic struck), Americans are actually starting fewer businesses, moving less for work, and making fewer life-altering innovations than in times past. We then discuss the fact that clothing styles haven't changed all that much from the 1990s, the repercussions of couples having fewer children, and the calcification of our political institutions. We end our conversation with how each of us as individuals can fight back against decadence. Get the show notes at aom.is/decadence. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#603: The Physical Keys to Human Resilience
Apr 20 2020 52 mins  
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl said that "between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response." Frankl was talking about our ability to choose our mental responses to what we encounter in life. What if we could also choose how our physiology responds to our environment so that we can perform and thrive on a higher level? My guest today explores that question in his latest book. His name is Scott Carney and he's the author of The Wedge: Evolution, Consciousness, Stress, and the Key to Human Resilience. We begin our conversation discussing how Scott's investigation into the breathing methods of Wim Hof, an extreme athlete, turned him from a skeptic into an intrigued believer who wanted to learn more about our ability to exercise control over our physiology. Scott then explains his idea of "the Wedge" as the ability to consciously put a gap between an external stimulus and the otherwise automatic physiological responses it elicits. Scott and I then discuss his trip around the world to talk to people who have found ways to create wedges in their lives in order to elevate their physical and mental states. We discuss how throwing kettlebells around can be used to overcome fear and experience flow, how lying in a float tank may recalibrate PTSD, how building up tolerance to CO2 can increase your physical performance, how saunas can boost resilience, and why the power of the placebo effect is greatly underrated. Get the show notes at aom.is/wedge. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#602: The Case for Being Unproductive
Apr 15 2020 42 mins  
Decades ago, economists thought that thanks to advances in technology, in the 21st century we'd only work a few hours a week and enjoy loads of leisure time. Yet here we are in the modern age, still working long hours and feeling like we're busier than ever. What happened? My guest today argues that we've all been swept up into a cult of efficiency that started centuries ago and has only been strengthened by advances in technology. The remedy? Do nothing. At least nothing productive. Her name is Celeste Headlee and she's the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving. We begin our conversation taking a look at what work was like before industrialization and how we moderns work more than medieval serfs. Celeste then explains how industrialization moved us from task-based work to hour-based work and how that helped change our perception of time and usher in "the cult of efficiency." We discuss how we've taken this penchant towards over-optimization which prevails in work life, and applied it to our personal and family lives as well, adding stress and stripping us of hobbies and social connections. We then dig into how this current moment of being forced into doing less can be used as a time to reevaluate our relationship to work, and how we can reconnect with the idea of doing things for their own sake, especially cultivating relationships with others. Get the show notes at aom.is/donothing. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#601: How to Get Jailhouse Strong
Apr 13 2020 44 mins  
When you're in prison, you've got a lot of time on your hands, and a lot of inmates spend this time exercising. With little or no equipment and sometimes just the space available in their cells, prisoners are able to get incredibly big and strong. Learning how prisoners do these bodyweight workouts can be useful for those who aren't in jail, but want to get fit and don't have access to exercise equipment. My guest today got the lowdown on the methods prisoners use to get strong by interviewing bodybuilders who also spent time in the slammer. His name is Josh Bryant, and he's a powerlifter and powerlifting coach and the co-author of the book Jailhouse Strong. We begin our conversation discussing the mindset with which Josh approaches fitness training, including what he means by being "gas station ready." We then discuss why being big and strong is oftentimes a matter of survival for prisoners and some of the famously fit former inmates Josh highlights in his book. We then dig into the specific bodyweight movements prisoners typically use, how they can be incorporated in your own workout routine, and the various ways you can modify and make the exercises harder. We discuss programs prisoners often use and how Josh has enhanced them with his powerlifting background. Josh then lays out a beginner's three-day-a-week bodyweight program, explains the way prisoners incorporate "deloading" or taking a break from their workouts, and talks about his all-time favorite conditioning exercise. Get the show notes at aom.is/jailhousestrong. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.





#598: Journeying From the First to the Second Half of Life
Apr 01 2020 50 mins  
Have you come to a point in your life where the pursuits of your younger years no longer seem meaningful or satisfying? Maybe it's time for you to transition from the first half of your life to the second. My guest today has spent decades helping people, particularly men, make this passage. His name is James Hollis and he's a Jungian analyst and the author of over a dozen books, including Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life. We begin our conversation with a brief overview of what makes Jungian or depth psychology unique, and how it helps individuals find meaning and deal with life's existential questions. Our discussion then explores the differences between the first and second halves of life, and how the main question of the first is "What is the world asking of me?" while the primary question of the second is "What is my soul asking of me?" Jim explains why you need to sort through the influences of your family and culture on who you've become and how the second half of life is about finding personal authority and sovereignty. We also discuss why the first half of life is always "a gigantic, unavoidable mistake," and why that's okay. Jim explains what triggers the impetus to move from the first to the second half of life, how it can happen at any age, how to make the transition from one phase to the other, and why the journey to the second can be terrifying because it lacks the structure of the first. Jim describes the internal systems you can use for guidance in moving forward in the absence of this external structure. He then gets into the importance of continuing to grow in your profession or marriage throughout your life. We discuss the particular reasons men can get stuck in the first half of life, and how men are more free to tend to the needs of their souls these days, but can still feel adrift. We end our conversation with how you can know if you're on the right track in pursuing the tasks of the second half of life. Get the show notes at aom.is/secondhalf. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#595: Everything You Need to Know About Creating a Home Gym
Mar 23 2020 51 mins  
In a time when the world is dealing with a pandemic, and many commercial gyms have shut down, interest in creating a gym at home has swelled. Whether working out at home is something you've been mulling over for a long time, or that you've just started to think about, this show will help you decide if and how to move forward on the idea. My guest today is Cooper Mitchell, the founder of garagegymreviews.com, a website and social media communitydedicated to reviewing personal gym equipment and inspiring people to work out at home. Coop and I begin our conversation unpacking the many benefits of having a home gym, and also talk about one of its potential downsides. He then explains why it's generally a big mistake to go all-in, all at once on a home gym, and how he recommends making the transition instead. We then get into exactly what the start-up costs for a home gym are, and how it's likely less than you think. Coop shares specifics on what he thinks are the essential pieces of equipment to get, the cost breakdown on each, and the companies that manufacture solid equipment at an affordable price. We then turn to the issue of space, and Coop shares the minimum size footprint you'll need for your gym, as well as solutions if you're working with a very small area or live in an apartment. We end our conversation with suggestions for exercising even if you have no equipment at all. Get the show notes at aom.is/garagegym. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#594: How Churchill (and London) Survived the Blitz of 1940
Mar 18 2020 47 mins  
A few months after Winston Churchill took office as prime minister, the German military began an eight month-long bombing campaign on the United Kingdom which became known as the Blitz. The bombing, which lasted for 57 consecutive days and nights, killed 45,000 Britons. What was life like for the people who experienced the Blitz? My guest today zoomed in on this question by looking at the lives of Winston Churchill and his inner circle during this precarious year of the war. His name is Erik Larson, and in his latest book The Splendid and the Vile, he shows readers how the Blitz could be absolutely terrifying, unexpectedly normal, and strangely beautiful at the same time, and does so by profiling how Churchill, as well as his family members and advisers, handled both the unexpected horrors of war and the predictable pickles of interpersonal drama. We begin our conversation discussing the extent of the Blitz, and then spend the rest of our conversation discussing key members in what Churchill called his "sacred circle." We learn how Churchill's wife Clementine supported her husband during the Blitz, how his son Randolph created trouble with his gambling and affairs, how his teenage daughter Mary managed to keep doing typically adolescent activities even while bombs fell on England, and how his advisors contributed to his leadership. These characters offer a great lesson in how life goes on even in the midst of a crisis, and how one can be fearless even in the face of a threat. Get the show notes at aom.is/larson. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.




#591: Solve Problems Before They Become Problems
Mar 09 2020 57 mins  
So often in life, we get stuck in a cycle of reaction. We tackle the most urgent tasks. We deal with emergencies. We put out fires. We intuitively know we'd be better off if we figured out a way to be more proactive rather than reactive, thereby preventing fires from starting in the first place, but we can't seem to switch our approach. My guest today explores why that is and what we can do to start solving the problems of business, life, and society before they become problems. His name is Dan Heath and today we talk about his latest book, Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen. We begin our conversation discussing the issues that keep us from nipping problems in the bud, including problem blindness, lack of ownership, and "tunneling." Along the way Dan shares insights into how to overcome those roadblocks. We then shift gears and explore how to find the best upstream solutions to problems, which requires getting as close as possible to the problem, while also being able to survey the system it's embedded in from a bird's eye view. Dan explains the principles at play with plenty of real-life examples of how these tactics were used to effectively tackle big, seemingly intractable social problems. Lots of great insights that you can apply to solving problems in your personal life, business, and community. Get the show notes at aom.is/upstream. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.




#587: How to Get More Pleasure and Fulfillment Out of Your Reading
Feb 24 2020 52 mins  
Do you have a goal of reading more, but any time you start working on that goal, it feels like a chore? The equivalent of eating your broccoli? My guest today argues that the problem is likely due to the fact that you're trying to read what you think you should be reading, instead of reading what you actually enjoy. His name is Alan Jacobs. He's a professor of literature and the author of The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. At the start of our conversation Alan offers a critique of a certain approach to reading the so-called "Great Books," and makes an argument for choosing what you read based on Whim, with a capital W, rather than following any kind of list. He then makes the case for following that Whim into reading not only the books of your favorite authors, but the books your favorite authors read, which can actually lead you back to the Great Books, but in a way that will allow you to enjoy and appreciate them more. Alan makes the case as well for the value of re-reading books. Alan and I then discuss tactics to get more out of reading in our age of distraction, including his opinion on reading ebooks versus paper copies. We also get into his take on speed reading and whether it's okay to not finish books you're not digging. We end our conversation with what parents can do to raise eager readers. Get the show notes at aom.is/pleasuresofreading. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#586: The Story of the Skiing Soldiers of WWII
Feb 19 2020 38 mins  
In the winter of 1940, a group of civilian skiers was sitting by a fire in a ski lodge in Vermont shooting the breeze about how the US Army needed an alpine division like the militaries in Europe had. That conversation transformed into a concerted effort to turn their idea into a reality, and the creation of the Army's 10th Mountain Division -- a unit which would play a vital role fighting in the mountains of Italy during World War II. My guest today has written a book on these skiing, snow-born soldiers. His name is Maurice Isserman, and he's a professor of history and the author of The Winter Army: The World War II Odyssey of the 10th Mountain Division, America's Elite Alpine Warriors. We begin our conversation discussing why the US Army didn't have an alpine division before WWII and how a group of civilian skiers led by a man named Minnie Dole spearheaded the movement to create one. Maurice then shares why the 10th Mountain Division heavily recruited from top tier colleges, and how the unusual make-up of the division influenced its unique culture. We then discuss how the military figured out what new equipment this new mountain division needed and the vigorous training its members undertook high in the mountains of Colorado. Maurice then digs into the 10th's involvement in the war and whether they actually got to use the skills they trained for years to hone. We end our conversation discussing the legacy of the 10th Mountain Division, including their role in America's post-war boom in recreational skiing. Get the show notes at aom.is/mountaindivision. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#585: Inflammation, Saunas, and the New Science of Depression
Feb 17 2020 60 mins  
I've dealt with depression in my life. My body temperature also seems to run hot; in fact my wife Kate has nicknamed me "the baked potato." My guest today says that there may be a connection between those two things. His name is Charles Raison, he's a psychiatrist, professor of psychiatry, and the co-author of The New Mind-Body Science of Depression. We begin our conversation with why Charles thinks it's important to ask the question, "Does Major Depression even exist?" and what we do and don't know about what causes depression. We then turn to the emerging theory that physical inflammation may play a role in depression; Charles describes what inflammation is, and why the body may become inflamed and physically hotter not only in response to physical illness, but psychological stress as well. We then discuss the paradoxical finding that short-term exposure to inflammation in the form of exercise or sitting in a sauna can reduce long-term inflammation, and how hot you probably have to get in a sauna for it to have antidepressant effects. We also talk about how intermittent fasting may have a beneficial effect on inflammation, before turning to whether taking anti-inflammatory drugs could also help, and why you might want to get a blood test to see if your body's inflamed. We end our conversation with Charles' thoughts on how to figure out the right treatment for depression for each individual. Get the show notes at aom.is/inflammationdepression. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#584: How to Avoid Falling in Love With the Wrong Person
Feb 12 2020 59 mins  
Why do people sometimes fall in love with someone who is all kinds of wrong for them? Their friends and family see lots of red flags about their partner, but they themselves miss these warnings entirely, sometimes to catastrophic consequences. My guest today argues that these kinds of errors in relational decision-making happen when someone lets his heart rule without also heeding his head. His name is John Van Epp, and he's a therapist and the author of the book How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk. We begin our conversation discussing what society's default template for creating a successful relationship looks like, and how it leads people astray. John then defines what makes a jerk, a jerk, and the signs that you're dating a jerk. He then explains why it is that people so often miss these signs, by using a model of how attachment develops in a relationship; I think this model is super useful in understanding relational dynamics and you don't want to miss it. We then discuss why men need to do a better job in helping to pace relationships, instead of only letting women set the tempo. We end our conversation discussing the things you need to know about a person that you're forming a relationship with, including their relationship skills, family life, and values, before you escalate your commitment to them. Get the show notes at aom.is/lovethinks. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.




#580: Why People Do (Or Don't) Listen to You
Jan 29 2020 54 mins  
Some cultural observers have posited that we're moving from an information economy to a reputation economy. There's so much information to sort through, that figuring out which bits to pay attention to has come to increasingly rely on what we think of the person delivering them. We privilege the messenger over the message. But how exactly do we decide which messengers to listen to or not? What draws us to particular messengers and causes us to tune out others? My guest has spent his career researching, lecturing, and writing about the answers to these questions and he shares his insights in a new book. His name is Steve Martin and he's the author of Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don't, and Why. In the first half of our conversation, we unpack why it is that the messenger matters so much, and how people can manipulate these factors in unethical ways to peddle messages and influence that may not be credible. We then shift into how you can also leverage these neutral tools in ethical ways to make yourself more persuasive and ensure your ideas get heard. Steve explains that there are two types of persuasive messengers -- hard and soft -- and walks us through the qualities embodied by each. We discuss the different ways a person can become an effective hard messenger, including competence, dominance, and attractiveness, and what makes a soft messenger persuasive, including warmth, vulnerability, and charisma -- the latter of which incorporates a trait you may not have previously associated with being charismatic. We end our conversation discussing when you should use a hard vs. soft approach as you seek to lead and share your message. Get the show notes at aom.is/messengers. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#579: Jack London's Literary Code
Jan 27 2020 65 mins  
The literature of Jack London has long been given the short shrift by scholars. They say he wrote some good dog stories for boys, but beyond that didn't showcase any literary genius or high-level craftsmanship. Well, my guest today begs to differ with this assessment. His name is Earle Labor. He's the preeminent Jack London scholar and 91 years young. I've had Earle on the podcast two previous times: the first to discuss his landmark Jack London biography, and the second to discuss his own memoir, The Far Music. For this episode, I drove down to Earle's home in Shreveport, Louisiana to talk to Earle about the overlooked literary genius of Jack London and the big themes that London wrote about in his novels and short stories. We begin our discussion with Earle's story of how he became a Jack London scholar and why London's work was historically neglected by academics. We then dig into London's literary themes by first discussing how he used the Klondike as a symbolic proving ground for men and how success in this wilderness depended on one's ability to mold oneself to Jack's "Northland Code." Earle uses excerpts from my favorite London story, "In A Far Country," as well as "To Build a Fire" and The Call of the Wild, to showcase the tenets of this code, and well as London's literary artistry. Earle then explains how London shifted his themes later in his career with his agrarian writing, how his wife Charmian changed his perception of real women and his female characters, and the influence that psychiatrist Carl Jung had on London's last works. Consider this episode a masterclass on the literature of Jack London. Get the show notes at aom.is/london. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.




#576: A Treasure Trove of American Philosophy
Jan 15 2020 46 mins  
When you think of philosophy, you probably think of ancient Greece or 18th century France. You probably don't think of America. But this country also birthed its own set of philosophical luminaries, and my guest today had a unique encounter with them. When modern day professor of philosophy John Kaag was a graduate student at Harvard, he was dispirited and struggling personally and professionally. But thanks to a chance encounter with an elderly New Englander, he discovered an abandoned library in New Hampshire full of rare first edition books of the great works of Western philosophy, many of which were owned by quintessentially American thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James. Kaag began cataloging the books, and in the process, uncovered the intellectual history of American philosophy and its responses to big existential questions like, "Is life worth living?" Today on the show I talk to John about his experience with this abandoned library in the woods of New Hampshire, and with the authors of the books which were contained therein. We start off talking about how American philosophy is often overlooked, and its big ideas, which include transcendentalism and pragmatism. We then dig into how the works of European and Asian thinkers influenced American philosophers like Emerson and Thoreau, while they yet tried to make something completely new. John and I then discuss how American pragmatism was developed in response to the philosophical issues Darwinism created around free will and what it means to live a moral life. We end our conversation discussing how the pragmatist William James answered the question of whether life is worth living and how his answer might be said to hinge on one essential word: if. Get the show notes at aom.is/americanphilosophy. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#575: Counterintuitive Advice on Making Exercise a Sustainable Habit
Jan 13 2020 46 mins  
It's a new year and like many people, you may have set a goal to exercise more regularly. But like most people, you've set this goal before only to give up on it after only a few weeks. Why is it so hard to make exercise a habit? And what can you do to make it stick? My guest today argues that more willpower and discipline isn't the answer. Instead, you need to completely change the way you think about exercise. Her name is Michelle Segar, and she's a behavioral scientist and the author of No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness. We begin our conversation discussing Michelle's counterintuitive finding that common reasons for exercising like losing weight or even getting healthier aren't effective motivations. And she shares research on how our ideas of what exercise should look like, as well as the propensity towards an all-or-nothing mindset, also set us up for failure. We then discuss why sheer discipline isn't very effective for staying on track either, and why exercise needs to have an immediately positive impact on our lives if we want to stick with it. Michelle and I spend the rest of our conversation discussing the research-backed framework she's developed to help people make exercise a sustainable habit, which includes less emphasis on willpower and more on changing the meaning you lend to physical activity and its priority in your life. Get the show notes at aom.is/nosweat. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#574: The Power of Bad — Overcoming the Negativity Effect
Jan 08 2020 47 mins  
Have you ever been heaped with praise, only to ignore it in favor of focusing on the lone piece of criticism you received? That's the power that bad things wield, and it's a power that humans need to learn how to both harness and mitigate. My guest today lays out both sides of that coin in a book he co-authored with psychologist Roy Baumeister. His name is John Tierney and the book is The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It. We begin our conversation discussing how much stronger bad is than good, and how many good things it takes to offset a single bad one. We then dig into the implications of the fact that bad things have a much stronger impact than good ones, including how you really only need to be a good enough parent to your kids, the best way to deliver criticism to others, and why religions that emphasize Hell have historically won more adherents than those that focus on Heaven. We also talk about how negativity is contagious and why it's true that one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. We end our conversation with a look at whether or not social media is a negative force in our lives, and John's advice on how to not let those he calls "the merchants of bad" in the media make us think that things in the world are worse than they really are. Lots of insights in this show on how both to use the power of bad to your advantage, and overcome its negative effects. Get the show notes at aom.is/powerofbad. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.




#570: St. Augustine's Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts
Dec 18 2019 58 mins  
Do you feel restless? Have you ever lied in bed at night looking up at the ceiling wondering "Is this all there is to life?" Or have you ever achieved a big goal in life only to feel let down? Over 1500 years ago, Catholic bishop, philosopher and theologian Augustine of Hippo had those same feelings of angst and wrote down some insights on how to deal with them and they're just as relevant today as they were then. My guest today has written a book about Augustine's ancient insights on the anxiety of modern life and how this famous Catholic theologian has had a profound impact on Western philosophy, including among 20th-century existential philosophers. His name is James K. A. Smith and his book is On the Road with Saint Augustine. We begin our show discussing Augustine's biography and his oft-overlooked influence on atheistic existential philosophers like Heidegger, Sartre, and Camus. We then dig into the big ideas that Augustine hit on his famous book Confessions including how to deal with existential angst, how to find your true self, what it means to be truly free in life, and how to deal with our restless ambition. Along the way, James shows how 20th-century existential philosophers dealt with these questions, why he thinks existentialism falls shorts to answering them, and why Augustine's solutions might be better. Lots of great insights about big life questions in this episode. Get the snow notes at aom.is/augustine. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#568: The Untold Story Behind the Famous Robbers Cave Experiment
Dec 11 2019 49 mins  
In the summer of 1954, two groups of 8- to 11-year-old boys were taken to a summer camp in Oklahoma and pitted against each other in competitions for prizes. What started out as typical games of baseball and tug-of-war turned into violent night raids and fistfights, proving that humans in groups form tribal identities that create conflict. This is the basic outline of a research study many are still familiar with today: the Robbers Cave experiment. But it's only one part of the story. My guest dug into the archival notes of this famous and controversial social experiment to find unknown and unreported details behind what really happened and why. Her name is Gina Perry and her book is The Lost Boys: Inside Muzafer Sherif's Robbers Cave Experiment. We begin our conversation by discussing what the Robbers Cave experiment purported to show and the influence the experiment has had on social psychology since. We then discuss the similarities between head researcher Muzafer Sherif's ideas about the behavior of boys in groups with those of William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, and how both men's ideas were influenced by their personal experiences in war. We also dig into the general connection between children's summer camps and psychological studies in the 19th century. Then turning to the Robbers Cave experiment itself, Gina shares how that experiment wasn't Sherif's first attempt at this kind of field study, and how it had been preceded by another experiment in which the boys turned on the researchers. She describes how Sherif and his assistants attempted to get different results at Robbers Cave by goading the boys into greater conflict and how they got the boys to reconcile after whipping them up into a competitive frenzy. At the end of our conversation, Gina talks about finding the boys who were in the experiment and what these now grown men thought of the experience, and we discuss whether or not there's anything to be learned from Robbers Cave on the nature of group conflict. Get the show notes at aom.is/robberscave. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#567: Understanding the Wonderful, Frustrating Dynamic of Friendship
Dec 09 2019 75 mins  
Friendship is arguably the most unique type of relationship in our lives. Friendships aren't driven by sexual attraction or by a sense of duty, as in romantic and familial relationships, but instead are entirely freely chosen. My guest today says that's part of why friendship is both uniquely wonderful and uniquely challenging. His name is Bill Rawlins, he's a professor of interpersonal communication, and he's spent his career studying the dynamics of friendship and authored several books on the subject, including Friendship Matters. Bill and I begin our conversation discussing why friendship is often taken for granted, and what makes friendships unique from other types of relationships. We then explore the four particular tensions that arise in friendship: the tension between independence and dependence, affection and instrumentality, judgement and acceptance, and expressiveness and protectiveness. We also talk about how these tensions manifest in male friendships versus female friendships, and whether it's true as is commonly said that modern men don't have good friendships. We then shift into talking about how friendships change across the life cycle, starting with how kids think about friendship differently than adults. We unpack why it is we often think of the friends we made in adolescence as the best friends we ever had, and why many men stop having good friends in adulthood. We end our conversation with Bill's advice for making friends as a grown-up. Lots of insights in this show on a relationship that isn't typically examined or well understood. Get the show notes at aom.is/friendship. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.





#562: How Boxing Can Fight Parkinson's Disease
Nov 20 2019 40 mins  
If boxing and Parkinson's disease are thought of together, it's usually in terms of the former causing the latter. But my guest today makes the case that boxing workouts can actually be used to fight Parkinson's disease. His name is Aaron Sloan, he's a registered nurse, the owner of Engine Room Boxing gym here in Tulsa, OK, and the founder of Ready to Fight, a boxing fitness program catered specifically to those suffering from Parkinson's disease. We begin our conversation with an overview of what Parkinson's is, as well as the fact that men are significantly more likely to get it than women. Aaron then shares what the research says about the best treatments for Parkinson's, why vigorous, high-intensity exercise is one of the most potent remedies for it, and why he argues that boxing is the gold standard when it comes to the type of exercise that's most effective in slowing down the disorder. Aaron shares how he started Ready to Fight based on this premise, and a few stories of how the lives of Parkinson's patients and their families are being changed by the program. We then discuss whether boxing also causes Parkinson's and how Aaron answers the criticism that he trains people in a sport that also creates the disorder he's trying to alleviate. We end our conversation discussing what individuals with Parkinson's can do to learn more about incorporating boxing workouts into its treatment. Get the show notes at aom.is/readytofight. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#561: Get With the Program
Nov 18 2019 56 mins  
All of us are a part of teams at work and in our community. Even our families are teams. And most of us serve as both members and leaders of these teams. How then can we be our best in both roles? My guest today has spent his career gaining on-the-ground answers to this question through his experiences as a Marine and special operator in the military and a leadership trainer of corporate and athletic teams as a civilian. His name is Eric Kapitulik, and he's the founder of the team and leadership development company The Program and the co-author of a book with the same name. Today on the show Eric and I take a deep yet punchy dive into the keys of team and leadership development, and how these principles can be applied whether you're leading a family, a sports team, or a business. We begin our conversation discussing the biggest problems Eric sees in the teams he works with, why resolving most of these issues begins with the definition of core values, and how someone can figure out what their core values are. Eric then explains the difference between goals and standards and why teams should focus more on instilling standards and holding team members accountable to them. We then discuss the difference between being kind and being nice, why leading by example is insufficient, how Eric defines hard work, and the two excuses you need to eliminate from your life. Get the show notes at aom.is/theprogram. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#558: The Strenuous President
Nov 06 2019 48 mins  
In the first year of his presidency, the press used Theodore Roosvelt's name in connection with the word "strenuous" over 10,000 times. He was known as "the strenuous president," and with good reason: from his youth, TR had lived and preached a life of vigorous engagement and plenty of physical activity. Today on the show Ryan Swanson, professor of sports history and author of The Strenuous Life: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of the American Athlete, discusses not only how TR was shaped by what was called "the strenuous age," but how he shaped it in turn by promoting sports, and participating in athletics himself. We begin our discussion with what was going on during the late 19th century that got people interested in what was then called "physical culture." We then turn to the beginning of Roosevelt's introduction to vigorous exercise as a boy, and how he famously decided to make his body. We discuss TR's fitness routine when he went to Harvard, and how his becoming a fan of football there led to him supporting the preservation of the game as president. We then discuss how TR lived the strenuous life while in the White House, and thereby inspired the American public to live vigorously too. We take a fun look at what TR thought of the game of baseball, how he went to a health farm at age 58 to get back in fighting shape, and what kind of exercise and athletics TR would be into if he were alive today. Get the show notes at aom.is/strenuouspresident. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.






#553: How to Become Indistractable
Oct 21 2019 55 mins  
If you struggle with feeling distracted, you likely think that modern technology is to blame, and that if your phone wasn't so infuriatingly desirable to check, you'd be a lot more focused and productive. But my guest today argues that the problem of distraction doesn't lie with technology, but with you. His name is Nir Eyal, and he's a behavioral design expert and the author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. Today on the show we first discuss Nir's work in helping companies create apps that hook people into using them, and why he thinks these methods of attraction can be positive as long as you put tech in its place. We then dig into how to do that, beginning with the idea that you can't complain about being distracted, if you don't know what you're distracted from, how the first step in getting control of your attention is understanding what you'd like to be doing with it by planning out your time, and why the opposite of distraction isn't focus. We discuss why time management is pain management, and why we need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable internal triggers that prompt us to use our devices for emotional pacification. Nir then walks us through how to deal with the external triggers of distraction, including managing your email inbox, making pre-commitments, and turning indistractability into part of your identity. Get the show notes at aom.is/indistractable. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#552: How to Optimize Your Metabolism
Oct 16 2019 58 mins  
If you struggle to lose weight, you may blame an inherently slow metabolism. But is your metabolism really to blame, and can you increase it in order to burn more fat? Today we tackle these questions and more with Dr. John Berardi, who earned a PhD in exercise physiology and nutrient biochemistry, and is a writer, athlete, coach, and professor, as well as the co-founder of Precision Nutrition and the founder of the Change Maker Academy. John and I begin our discussion with what metabolism is, the components that make it up, how much each element contributes to your body's energy expenditures, and which can be controlled. We then get into whether or not it's true that some people have an inherently slow or fast metabolism, and how diet and exercise influences your metabolism, including whether or not dieting itself can slow your metabolism down, and why you might want to consider wearing a weight vest around once you lose body fat. We then discuss how intermittent fasting can increase your metabolic flexibility, whether there are certain foods that boost your metabolic rate, and the best exercise routine for optimizing your metabolism. We also also talk about how stress and sleep effect your metabolic health. We end our conversation with John's best tips for maintaining optimal metabolic health and losing weight in general. Get the show notes at aom.is/metabolism. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#549: Leadership Lessons from the Gridiron's Greatest Coaches
Oct 07 2019 52 mins  
Why do some NFL teams dominate year after year? Some would chalk it up to talent, but my guest today says it all comes down to the culture the head coach intentionally develops for the entire organization. His name is Michael Lombardi and he's the author of Gridiron Genius: A Master Class in Building Teams and Winning at the Highest Level. For over three decades, Lombardi has worked as a general manager or coach for various NFL teams and alongside some of the greatest coaches of the game, including Bill Walsh, Al Davis, and Bill Belichick. Today on the show, Michael walks us through what these coaches did to develop high performing teams and how those lessons can apply to leaders in other kinds of organizations as well. We begin our conversation discussing how legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh created standards of performance and a culture of excellence that turned the worst team in the league into Super Bowl champions within two years. Michael then shares the qualities top coaches and players possess, and how recruiters of every kind can really figure out whether or not someone will be successful at the next level. Michael then shares what leaders can learn from Walsh's innovating West Coast offense, why Belichick obsesses about special teams, how he and Nick Saban came up with a new approach to defense, and how Belichick prepares for games and fights complacency. We also get into the importance of how a QB carries himself, and why it's important to begin a drive down the field with an energizing play. We end our conversation with Michael's predictions for the future of football, including how we're starting to see a return to the game's rugby roots. Get the show notes at aom.is/gridiron. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#547: Achieving Success Through the Pursuit of Fulfillment
Sep 30 2019 46 mins  
The standard route to success in modern life goes as follows: work hard in high school, score high on your SAT, get into a good college, do well in your classes, get a good job. For some people, that path works, but for a lot of people, it leaves them disengaged and frustrated because it doesn't actually lead to a life of fulfillment. My guest today has spent his academic career studying individuals who have bucked the standard formula for achievement and found success on their own terms. His name is Todd Rose. He's a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the co-author of the book Dark Horse: Achieving Success Through the Pursuit of Fulfillment. We begin our conversation discussing what Todd calls the "Standardization Covenant," including how it developed to serve institutions rather than individuals and why following the standard path often leads to frustration. Todd then explains his idea of an alternative "Dark Horse Covenant" and what it looks like theoretically and in the lives of those who've followed it. He then walks us through the steps that dark horses follow to find success and fulfillment on their own terms, including focusing on "micromotives" to figure out where you fit, making decisive choices, creating your own options, and trying new strategies until you find something that works. We end our conversation with how Todd would like to see the Dark Horse dynamic incorporated into our educational system. Get the show notes at aom.is/darkhorse. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.




#544: The Audacious Life of Winston Churchill
Sep 18 2019 33 mins  
When we seek an example of great leadership, one man who often comes to mind is Winston Churchill -- the iconic, visionary prime minister, who guided his country through war and stood firmly for his beliefs and impervious to his critics. But how did Winston become the legendary British Bulldog? My guest today seeks to answer that question in his biography, Churchill: Walking with Destiny. His name is Andrew Roberts, he's a journalist and historian, and we begin our conversation discussing why he thought another Churchill biography was needed. We then shift to the life of Churchill, beginning with a childhood in which young Winston often felt neglected. Andrew then discusses Churchill's military career, why Winston was so eager to see action on the frontlines, and how he parlayed those experiences into becoming the world's highest paid journalist by his mid-twenties. Andrew then explains how Churchill also became one of the 20th century's great historians and how his appreciation of history and sentimental outlook colored his worldview and shaped his leadership. We also discuss why Churchill was one of the few leaders to foresee the threat that Hitler posed. We end our conversation discussing whether some of the current criticisms of Churchill, such as the allegation that he masterminded genocide in India, really hold weight. Get the show notes at aom.is/churchill. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.









#536: How to Achieve a "Rich Life" With Your Finances
Aug 21 2019 51 mins  
If you've read a lot of personal finance advice, you know that it usually concentrates on what you can't do -- what you shouldn't buy and how you shouldn't spend your money. What it doesn't often offer is a vision of what all that scrimping and saving is for. My guest today argues that while knowing how to save money is hugely important, it's important to know how to spend it too. His name is Ramit Sethi and he's the author of the book I Will Teach You to Be Rich. It's now out as a revised second edition, ten years after of the publication of the original. We begin our discussion going over what has and hasn't changed over the past decade when it comes to personal finance. Ramit then makes the case that living what he calls a "rich life," involves not just knowing where to cut back on spending, but where to increase it in places he calls "money dials." We then get into some practical ways to better manage your money to ensure you spend less in areas you don't care about, and more in those you do, including how to manage and pay off credit card debt, the bank accounts you need and how to set them up so that your finances are automated, and why you need to start investing today. We end our discussion on the idea that the big money decisions that many people ignore are more important than the small ones that get a lot of attention. Get the show notes at aom.is/richlife. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#534: How Navigation Makes Us Human
Aug 14 2019 49 mins  
If you're like most people these days, you probably rely on the turn-by-turn directions given by a smartphone app to navigate to where you want to go. While Google Maps has certainly made getting around a lot more convenient, my guest today makes the case that by relying on GPS to navigate, we're turning our backs on a skill that makes us uniquely human. Her name is Maura O'Connor, and she's a journalist and the author of Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate. We begin our conversation discussing what goes on in our brain when we navigate and how we use the same part of the brain that we use for memory when we're getting around town. We then discuss how human navigation differs from animal navigation and the cultural tools that humans have developed over millennia to help them find their way, including storytelling and songs. Maura then shares research that suggests our language influences our sense of location and space and how our ancient ancestors sowed the seeds of the scientific method when they were tracking animals while hunting. We also discuss recent research that suggests relying too heavily on GPS may increase your risk for dementia and be linked to other mental health problems. We end our conversation by musing on how it is that using GPS can shrink your sense of autonomy, while navigating on your own feels existentially empowering. Get the show notes at aom.is/wayfinding. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#533: How to Be a Time Warrior
Aug 12 2019 53 mins  
If you struggle with procrastination, goal-setting, and generally moving ahead in life, the heart of your struggles may be your view of time. More specifically, that you look at it too linearly. That's the argument my guest today makes. His name is Steve Chandler, he's a success and business coach, and the author of many books, including the focus of our discussion today -- Time Warrior: How to Defeat Procrastination, People-Pleasing, Self-Doubt, Over-Commitment, Broken Promises and Chaos. At the beginning of our conversation, Steve shares how he personally overcame years of failure and addiction to find a fulfilling life and career. He then explains why looking at time too linearly can lead to putting things off to the future, overwhelm and over-thinking, and perpetually trying to find more information before moving on an idea. He argues that we're better served by adopting a concept of non-linear time management, which pushes us to approach life with a bias towards action, privilege the energy of "want to" over "know-how," and act in the now. We then discuss other tactics and mindsets you can adopt to become a "time warrior," including being creative rather than reactive, seeing life as a game, and serving people rather than pleasing them. We end our conversation with what to do when you feel like you don't know what to do with your life. Get the show notes at aom.is/timewarrior. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.






#528: Become a More Competent Human Through Micromastery
Jul 24 2019 38 mins  
The author Robert Heinlein famously said: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” Compelling as that sounds, why do so many of us fall short of that kind of ideal, and cease to learn new and different skills in our adulthood? My guest would say it's because we approach learning the wrong way. His name is Robert Twigger, and he's the author of Micromastery: Learn Small, Learn Fast, and Unlock Your Potential to Achieve Anything. Today on the show, Robert makes the case that we often fail to learn new things because we feel we have to learn the whole field of a subject, which is overwhelming, tedious, and de-motivating. A better approach, he says, is to first master just one distinct skill that's part of said subject, or what he calls a micromastery. We discuss what micromasteries are, why they keep you motivated to continue learning in that field and in general, the benefits of lifelong learning, and why specialization is indeed for insects. We also discuss what the punk rock scene of decades ago can teach you about tackling new skills. We end our conversation with Robert's use of omelette making as a case study in micromastery. Get the show notes at aom.is/micromastery. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#527: Father Wounds, Male Spirituality, and the Journey to the Second Half of Life
Jul 22 2019 57 mins  
How does the way men experience spirituality differ from the way women engage it? What obstacles particularly keep men from experiencing greater meaning in their lives, and what paradigm shifts help them find it? My guest today has been thinking about those questions over the six decades he's served as a Franciscan friar. His name is Richard Rohr, and he's authored numerous books and devoted a significant part of his vocation to working with men -- both ministering to those who are incarcerated, and in leading male initiation rituals and retreats. If you enjoyed my discussion last month with David Brooks about life's first and second mountain, you'll want to listen to this one. Father Rohr has long taught the same concept, arguing that life is divided into a first and second half. We begin our discussion by exploring the difference between these two halves, and what it takes to move to the second half of life, including embracing non-dualistic thinking. We also talk about what prevents men from maturing into the second half of life, including having "father wounds." We then discuss how male spirituality differs from female spirituality, why church doesn't appeal to men, the male need for initiation, and what it means to do shadow work. We end our conversation with what fathers can do to help their sons embrace the spiritual side of life. Get the show notes at aom.is/rohr. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#526: The Rise and Fall of the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
Jul 17 2019 59 mins  
For nearly 400 years, the Comanche tribe controlled the southern plains of America. Even as Europeans arrived on the scene with guns and metal armor, the Comanches held them off with nothing but horses, arrows, lances, and buffalo hide shields. In the 18th century, the Comanches stopped the Spanish from driving north from Mexico and halted French expansion westward from Louisiana. In the 19th century, they stymied the development of the new country by engaging in a 40-year war with the Texas Rangers and the U.S. military. It wasn't until the latter part of that century that the Comanches finally laid down their arms. How did they create a resistance so fierce and long lasting? My guest today explores that question in his book Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. His name is Sam Gwynne, and we begin our discussion by explaining where the Comanches were from originally and how their introduction to the horse radically changed their culture and kickstarted their precipitous rise to power. Sam then explains how the Comanches shifted from a hunting culture to a warrior culture and how their warrior culture was very similar to that of the ancient Spartans. We then discuss the event that began the decline of the Comanches: the kidnapping of a Texan girl named Cynthia Ann Parker. Sam explains how she went on to become the mother of the last great war chief of the Comanches, Quanah, why Quanah ultimately decided to surrender to the military, and the interesting path his life took afterward. This is a fascinating story about an oft-overlooked part of American history. Get the show notes at aom.is/comanches. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#523: How to Keep a Happy Relationship Happy
Jul 08 2019 59 mins  
Most marriage and relationship advice books focus on solving problems. But my guests today argue that we shouldn't wait until problems arise in our relationship to work on strengthening it. Instead, they say, when times are good, we should think about how to keep that good, and act to make it even better. Their names are James Pawelski and Suzann Pileggi Pawelski, and they're husband and wife. James has a background in philosophy, and they both have backgrounds in psychology. They combined insights from both fields to write the book Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts. We begin our conversation discussing how most relationship advice falls short, the biggest myths people have about relationships, and the contrast between Plato's and Aristotle's approach to relationships. We then dig into the role emotions play in a relationship, particularly passion, and what we can do to continue to cultivate and experience positive emotions in a marriage even after being together for years. We then dig into how our character influences our relationships and how our relationships influence our character. James and Suzann share insights on how and why to focus on our strengths, help our partners develop their strengths, and even go on a "strengths date" together. We end our conversation talking about the power of appreciation in relationships. Get the show notes at aom.is/happytogether. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.




#520: The Surprising Origins and Prevalence of Bigorexia and Male Body Image Issues
Jun 26 2019 67 mins  
We typically associate body image issues with women. But my guest today says that a quarter of people with eating disorders are male and that there are millions of men in America silently struggling with and obsessing over how they look -- even to the detriment of their health, careers, and relationships. His name is Dr. Roberto Olivardia. He's a professor of clinical psychology at Harvard and the co-author of the book The Adonis Complex: How to Identify, Treat, and Prevent Body Obsession in Men and Boys. We begin our conversation discussing how the "Adonis Complex" manifests itself in men and why male body image disorders are a fairly recent phenomenon. Roberto and I then dig into how the ideal male body has changed over the past few decades and how we've seen these inflated standards of male attractiveness show up in advertising, movies, and even action figures. Roberto then shares possible causes of male body image issues, which include, interestingly enough, increasing gender egalitarianism in the West. We then dig into specific ways body image issues appear in men, including "bigorexia" or muscle dysmorphia, in which super jacked dudes think they're still too scrawny. Roberto then explains how eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia manifest themselves differently in men compared to women. We end our conversation discussing the line between caring about how you look in a healthy way, and having a disorder, what to do if you're having problems with body image issues, and what parents can do to inoculate their sons from the Adonis Complex. Get the show notes at aom.is/adoniscomplex. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#518: The Quest for a Moral Life
Jun 19 2019 48 mins  
Do you ever feel like you're spinning your existential wheels in life? That outwardly, you seem to be doing ok, but inwardly, you feel kind of empty? My guest today would say that you've got to move on from trekking up life's first mountain, to begin a journey up its second. His name is David Brooks and he’s the author of The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life. In that book, David makes the case that there are two mountains that we climb in life: The first is about the self -- getting a college degree, starting a career, buying a home, and making your mark on the world. But at some point, that mountain starts to feel unfulfilling. That’s when we discover there’s a second mountain to ascend -- a path of selflessness, relationships, and greater meaning. Today on the show, David tells us what he got wrong in his previous book, The Road to Character, and how The Second Mountain expands the vision of the good life. We then discuss why the first mountain of life gets more attention in the West and how the hyper individualism it encourages has led to an increase in loneliness, anxiety, and existential angst. David then walks us through how we shift courses from the first mountain of achievement to the second mountain of meaning by making commitments to things outside of ourselves. We then discuss the four commitments he thinks bring us real meaning and significance, and how we can seek and find them. Get the show notes at aom.is/secondmountain. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.




#514: Remembering D-Day 75 Years Later
Jun 05 2019 44 mins  
This week marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy. This amphibious Allied effort comprised a joint effort between British, Canadian, and American troops. Operation Overlord was massive in scope, and required effectively launching 12,000 planes and 7,000 vessels, landing 24,000 paratroopers into enemy territory, and transporting 160,000 troops across the English Channel and onto and over 50 miles of beaches. To commemorate this epic operation, I talk to historian Alex Kershaw about his latest book, The First Wave: The D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II. We begin our conversation with the context of the invasion and how the plans for it began years before 1944. Alex then walks us through the pre-dawn missions that paved the way for the larger invasion in the morning and how perilously close these first missions came to failing. Along the way he tells the stories of individual men who took part in this sweeping operation, including Frank Lillyman, the first paratrooper to land in Normandy; Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., a 56-year-old general and son of President Theodore Roosevelt; and Lord Lovat, a Scottish commando who brought along his personal bagpiper to pipe the British commandos ashore on D-Day. Alex and I discuss why only four Medals of Honor and one Victoria Cross were awarded on D-Day, despite the high number of heroic acts performed that day by ordinary men placed in an extraordinary circumstances. We end our conversation discussing the legacy of D-Day three-fourths of a century later. Get the show notes at aom.is/dday. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#513: Be Your Own Bodyguard
Jun 03 2019 66 mins  
If you’ve ever been at an event with a prominent person like a politician, celebrity, or business executive, you’ve likely noticed the dudes wearing sunglasses and sporting an earpiece, trying to look as unassuming as possible while vigilantly keeping an eye out for their client, or “principal.” These guys are part of a personal security detail, and their job is to protect VIPs from harassment and harm. Most of us will likely never be able to afford our own bodyguard, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use the same mindset and skills these professionals use to protect their high-powered clients, to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Today on the show, I talk to former executive bodyguard Nick Hughes about his book How to Be Your Own Bodyguard. We begin our conversation discussing Nick’s stint in the French Foreign Legion and how that transitioned to his work in executive protection. We then discuss how a bodyguard’s primary focus is to prevent violence or altercations from occurring in the first place and the tactics that can accomplish that goal. Nick walks us through how criminals pick out their victims, and how to avoid being targeted. We then discuss how to verbally defuse a situation before it turns to blows and the legal ramifications of self-defense. We end our conversation with tactics you can use to stay safe, whether you're vacationing abroad or driving the streets of your hometown. Get the show notes at aom.is/bodyguard. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#512: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
May 29 2019 68 mins  
We often think that to become a success in today’s modern world, you have to specialize and specialize early. My guest today makes the case that, actually, the most creative, innovative, and successful people don’t specialize. They’re generalists. His name is David Epstein and he’s the author of the book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. We begin our conversation discussing two different paths to success as embodied by Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, and why we’re naturally drawn to the former's specialized approach even though the latter's generalized approach is in fact the most common way to success. David then explains why our increasingly complex and abstract world requires not only having a depth but a breadth of knowledge, and how our education system hinders us from gaining such. David and I discuss why you shouldn't expect to know exactly what you're going to do for your career when you're young, why you should dabble in lots of different activities when you're first starting out in life and even when you're older, and why there's a correlation between having hobbies and winning the Nobel Prize. We also dig into why intrinsic motivation is often mistaken for grit, why you shouldn't be afraid to sometimes quit things, and the importance of finding pursuits that fit you if you want to achieve success. We end our conversation, with David's argument that our increasing specialization is not only stifling individual flourishing, but also getting in the way of scientific advances that would benefit society. Get the show notes at aom.is/range. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


















#496: What Plato's Republic Has to Say About Being a Man
Apr 03 2019 73 mins  
Plato’s Republic is a seminal treatise in Western political philosophy and thought. It hits on ideas that we’re still grappling with in our own time, including the nature of justice and what the ideal political system looks like. But my guest today argues that The Republic also has a lot to say about manliness, character development, and education in our current climate of safe spaces and trigger warnings. His name is Jacob Howland. He’s a professor of philosophy at the University of Tulsa and the author of the recent book Glaucon’s Fate: History, Myth, and Character in Plato’s Republic. We begin our conversation with an outline of Plato’s Republic and how it combines literature and philosophy. Jacob then makes the case that in The Republic, Socrates was attempting to save the soul of Plato’s politically ambitious brother, Glaucon, and why he thinks Socrates failed. Along the way we discuss what Socrates’ attempt to save Glaucon can teach us about andreia or manliness and what it means to seek the Good in life. We end our conversation discussing the way The Republic teaches us of the need to possess not only physical courage, but the courage to think for oneself and stand up for one's beliefs -- a courage that is tested in a time like our own, where it can feel difficult to ask hard questions and wrestle with thorny issues. Get the show notes at aom.is/republic. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.





#491: Everything You Know About Passion is Wrong
Mar 18 2019 52 mins  
"Passion" is a word that's been thrown around a lot in the last few decades. People have a vague notion that passion is a very good thing, and that they want to find it in their work and lives. But beyond passion as a buzzword, its realities are actually very little discussed and seldomly well understood. My guests today have set out to correct this deficit in their new book: The Passion Paradox: A Guide to Going All In, Finding Success, and Discovering the Benefits of an Unbalanced Life. Their names are Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, and I had them on the show last year to discuss their book Peak Performance. Today, we talk about the parts of passion that rarely get talked about: that it has both a positive and a negative side, how the advice to “find your passion” isn’t very useful, and the 3 things you need to really grow your passion. We also discuss why going all-in on your passion too early can lead to long-term failure, how passion can lead individuals to cheat to get and stay ahead, and why embracing the 6 pillars of the "mastery mindset" can help negate the negative side of passion, and harness its positive powers. We end our conversation discussing how it's okay to have an unbalanced life, and what to do if you can no longer do the thing you’re passionate about or you simply stop being passionate about your work. Get the show notes at aom.is/passionparadox. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.






#486: How to Get Better at Making Life-Changing Decisions
Feb 27 2019 42 mins  
How do you make the biggest decisions you face, the ones that have significant consequences and can change your life? Choices like whether to get married, move, attend a certain college, take a particular job, and so on? If you're like a lot of people, you just kind of wing it, and maybe draw up a basic pros and cons list. My guest today has studied the latest research in decision making theory and formulated a better approach. His name is Steven Johnson, his latest book is Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most, and today he walks us through how to move beyond listing pros and cons to using a more effective 3-step decision making process. We begin our conversation discussing how most people make decisions and how it hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years. Steven then walks us through the phases of a better decision-making methodology, including developing a more creative map of the possibilities before you, accurately predicting the outcomes of those options, and questioning the narratives you have about your choices. Steven then makes the case that reading novels and watching quality television shows can be a great way to train our brains in the skill of decision making. We end our conversation discussing what the raid on Osama bin Laden can teach us about making good decisions. Get the show notes at aom.is/farsighted. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.







#480: Hiking With Nietzsche
Feb 06 2019 39 mins  
Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most polarizing and misunderstood of modern philosophers. Dismissed by some and misinterpreted by others, the real philosophy of Nietzsche in fact holds some incredibly life-affirming truths for everyone, regardless of belief or age. My guest today has spent much of both his personal and professional life tracking down those insights. At the age of 19 and then again at age 37, he traveled to the Swiss town where Nietzsche wrote his famous work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and learned something different on each trip from the mustachioed philosopher about living a life of meaning and significance. His name is John Kaag, and he’s a professor of philosophy and the author of Hiking With Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are. In this compelling conversation, John discusses what he learned about life hiking the same mountain Nietzsche hiked, including the role that walking itself played in Nietzsche's approach to thinking. We begin with the biggest misconceptions about the philosopher, including what he really meant when he said “God is dead." John then walks us through Nietzsche's idea of the will to power, how this impulse should be balanced with amor fati -- the love of fate -- in order to achieve Nietzsche's ideal of becoming who you are, and the different things his philosophy can mean to a young man and to one approaching middle age. Get the show notes at aom.is/kaag. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#479: Becoming a Digital Minimalist
Feb 04 2019 63 mins  
Practicing minimalism with your possessions has been a trend for the past decade, and it can be a worthy practice, as long as you use it as a means to greater efficacy outside your personal domain, rather than just an end in itself. But there's arguably a minimalism practice that's even more effective in achieving that greater efficacy: digital minimalism. My guest has written the definitive guide to the philosophy and tactics behind digital minimalism. His name is Cal Newport and this is his third visit to the AoM Podcast. We’ve had him on the show previously to discuss his books So Good They Can’t Ignore You and Deep Work. Today, we discuss his latest book, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. We begin our conversation discussing why digital tech feels so addicting, why Steve Jobs didn’t originally intend for the iPhone to become something we check all the time, and why the common tips for reducing your smartphone use don't work and you need to implement more nuclear solutions instead. We then discuss the surprising lesson the Amish can teach you about being intentional about technology, how cleaning up your digital life is like decluttering your house, and why he recommends a 30-day tech fast to evaluate what tech you want to let back into your life. Cal then makes an argument for why you should see social media like training wheels for navigating the web, how to take those wheels off, and why you should own your own domain address. We end our conversation exploring what you should do in the free time you open up once your digital distractions are tamed, and the advanced techniques you can use to take the practice of digital minimalism to the next level. I think you'll find this a tremendously interesting and important show. Get the show notes at aom.is/digitalminimalism. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.





#474: The Surprises of Romantic Attraction
Jan 16 2019 39 mins  
According to the popular, evolutionary theory of human attraction, people select romantic partners based on objective assessments of what's called their "mate value" -- the extent to which an individual possesses traits like good looks and status. But is that really all that's behind the way people pair up? My guest today has done a series of studies which add greater nuance to the mysteries of romantic attraction. His name is Paul Eastwick and he's a professor of psychology at USC Davis. We begin our conversation unpacking the fact that there's sometimes a gap between the sexual and romantic partners people say they prefer in the abstract, and the partners they actually choose in real life. We then turn to whether or not the popular idea that men value physical attractiveness more than women, and that women value status and resources more than men, is really true. We also talk about how people's consensus over who is and isn't attractive changes over time, and whether it's true that people of equal attractiveness generally end up together. We end our conversation discussing how these research-based insights can be applied to the real world of dating, and why less attractive people may have better luck meeting people offline than on. Some interesting insights in this show that lend credence to the old adage that there's someone for everyone. Get the show notes at aom.is/eastwick. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.






#469: How Valley Forge Turned the Tide of the Revolutionary War
Dec 23 2018 49 mins  
Eighteen months after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Continental Army was on the ropes and the American Revolution was on the verge of being snuffed out. Battered, demoralized, and half-naked, 12,000 American troops marched into a small, poorly supplied encampment in British-occupied Pennsylvania to hunker down for the winter. They called the encampment Valley Forge. Despite the terrible conditions and circumstances there, something happened at Valley Forge that would change the tide of the Revolutionary War, and the entire course of history. My guest today is a co-author of a new book, entitled Valley Forge, about this historic crucible. His name is Bob Drury, and I last had him on the show to discuss his stellar book Lucky 666. Today he explains the dire obstacles General George Washington and the Continental Army were up against at the time of Valley Forge, from coming off a string of strategic defeats to weathering political infighting. He then offers a vivid description of the squalor soldiers lived in at Valley Forge, as well as a rundown of the common myths people have about this historical episode. We end our conversation discussing how the situation at Valley Forge got turned around, and why the men who survived this crucible ended up stronger because of it. This show will give you some fresh insights and new appreciation for this pivotal event in American history. Get the show notes at aom.is/valleyforge. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#468: Does Meditation Deserve the Hype?
Dec 19 2018 53 mins  
Earlier this year, I did a show about the benefits of meditation. That’s episode #439 for those who want to check it out. Shortly after that interview, I came across a book called TheBuddha Pill, which takes a critical look at the research on meditation and exposes some of the weaknesses of the hype that currently surrounds it. As someone who loves to look at both sides of an issue, I was certainly intrigued and today talk to one of the co-authors of that book. I begin my conversation with Miguel Farias, a psychologist and therapist trained at Oxford University, by discussing how the current mindfulness craze we’re experiencing in the 21st century isn’t entirely new, but is similar to a trend which emerged in the 1960s and 70s around the practice of Transcendental Meditation. Miguel explains how meditation research began with Transcendental Meditation, the limits of that research, and why Transcendental Meditation has now been eclipsed by mindfulness meditation. In the second half of the show, Miguel shares some problems with the Western approach to mindfulness meditation, including detaching it from a spiritual framework, making it a self-centered affair, and using it to take a more passive stance to life. We also explore the often overlooked downsides of meditation, including the fact that it can sometimes have the very opposite of the calming, centering effect people are seeking. We end our conversation discussing whether meditation is truly effective in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, Miguel's conclusion on whether people should practice it, and if you should ultimately feel guilty if you don't. Get the show notes at aom.is/buddhapill. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#466: What It's Like to Become a Widower
Dec 12 2018 53 mins  
What’s it like for a man to lose the person at the very center of his life — his wife? Maybe you know firsthand, because you’ve lost a spouse yourself. Or maybe you know a friend or family member who’s a widower, and have wondered what he’s going through and how to help him. Or maybe you’re just curious about what this journey is like, should you, heaven forbid, become a widower one day yourself. No matter which group you fall into, we could all benefit from understanding more about the journey widower’s take through loss, grief, and the effort to establish a new life. Here today to walk us through this process is Herb Knoll, who lost his wife himself and has dedicated his life to helping his fellow widowers. Herb is the founder of the Widower’s Support Network which provides free advice and resources to men who’ve lost their spouses, and the author of the book The Widower’s Journey. Today on the show, we discuss Herb’s own experience of becoming a widower, how and why he found that there were few resources available specifically focused on helping men deal with the loss of their wives, and how that catalyzed him into creating such resources himself. We then get into the different issues widowers face, including loneliness, isolation, depression, a decline in their own physical health, and poor decision making, and how and why these issues can manifest themselves differently in men than women. Herb also shares tips on what family and friends can do to support a widower in the months after his spouse dies. We then discuss what dating and marriage is like for a widower, including when the time is right to start dating again and how to handle a second marriage with kids, both financially and psychologically. Get the show notes at aom.is/widowersjourney. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#464: What's Causing the Sex Recession?
Dec 05 2018 43 mins  
Studies show that people, especially young people, are having less sex than past generations did. While many may celebrate this decline as a good thing, the reasons behind the drop in sex may not all be so positive. A decline in physical intimacy may potentially speak to a decline in emotional intimacy, and a struggle modern folks are having with connecting with each other. My guest explores the decline in sexual frequency as a way into these larger cultural and relational questions in her longform cover story for this month's The Atlantic magazine. Her name is Kate Julian, and today we discuss her piece, entitled "The Sex Recession," on why people are counterintuitively having less sex in a time when sex is less taboo and more accessible than ever before. We begin our conversation highlighting the statistics that indicate young Americans are having less sex and whether this decline holds true for other countries and affects married people as well as singles. Kate then delves into the idea that the reasons for why young people are having less sex may suggest deeper issues in how people are relating, or not relating, to each other. These reasons include the way dating apps are shaping in-person interactions, the prevalence of porn, and an increase in anxiety and depression. We end our conversation by raising the question of why people continue to perpetuate relational patterns that don't seem to be making them happy. This is a fascinating discussion. I know some of you listen to the podcast with your kids. Due to the mature nature of this show, I’d have them skip this one. Get the show notes at aom.is/sexrecession. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.









#456: Myths About Kids and Sports
Nov 07 2018 53 mins  
Youth sports in America is a 15 billion dollar industry. A lot of that money is going towards special coaching and training and participation in elite travel teams. Parents spend an enormous amount of money and time on their kids’ involvement in sports, hoping the investment will pay off in accolades, college scholarships, and even the chance to play professionally. But my guests today argue that all that special coaching you’re spending money on probably isn’t doing much to turn your kid into an superstar. Their names are Leonard Zaichkowsky and Daniel Peterson, and they've co-written a new book called The Playmaker's Advantage. Leonard is one of the pioneers in the field of sports psychology and was a professor of it at Boston University for 37 years. Over the decades, he’s consulted for professional and collegiate sports programs as well as Olympic teams. Daniel Peterson is a science writer who has spent his career looking at the intersection of neuroscience and athletic performance, and is co-founder and director of 80 Percent Mental Consulting. Today on the show, Len and and Daniel discuss whether you can spot athletic talent in a child and why a kid who looks talented at age 10 can end up being a dud athlete at 20. They explain why you shouldn’t regiment your child's athletic training or specialize kids too early in sports. Along the way, they provide best practices for parents and coaches who work with children in sports. We then discuss how sports can boost children's cognitive abilities and why an athlete's mental game can be just as important as their speed and strength. We end our conversation talking about what kind of practice is nearly useless, and what kind is the most helpful. Get the show notes at aom.is/playmaker. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.






#450: How to Make Time for What Really Matters Every Day
Oct 17 2018 55 mins  
Do your days seem like a continuous blur of busyness, and yet you don't seem to get much done, nor remember much about how you spent your time? As a former employee of Google, my guest today worked on the very apps and technology that can often suck away our time. Today, he's dedicated to figuring out how to push back against these forces to help people take control of their time and attention. His name is John Zeratsky and he’s the co-author of the book Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day. Today on the show, John shares how the experience of feeling like he was missing months of his life led him to spending years experimenting with his habits and routines, looking for the best ways to to optimize energy, focus, and time. He then shares the simple 4-step daily framework that developed from this research and walks us through that system. John talks about choosing one “highlight" each day to ensure your most important work gets done and that your life is full of memorable moments. He also shares how to reduce the time you spend wading in what he calls “infinity pools,” why energy management is just as important as time management, and how reflection is essential in figuring out if what you're doing is working. Lots of valuable direction in this show for how to get your life on track and find more hours and meaning in the day. Get the show notes at aom.is/maketime. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.












#440: The 3 Great Untruths That Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure
Sep 12 2018 54 mins  
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve likely seen headlines about the tumultuous atmosphere on many college campuses in the United States, which primarily centers around what is and isn’t okay to say or express. The interesting thing is that not too long ago, it was the students who were protesting against the administration placing controls on free speech. But a few years ago, my guest noticed that things had gotten flipped: the students had started protesting that administrators weren't doing enough to limit speech. What happened? Well, my guest explores the answer to that question in a book he co-authored with Jonathan Haidt entitled The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. His name is Greg Lukianoff and he’s the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Today on the show, Greg tries to explain what’s going on on college campuses with the trigger warnings, microaggressions, protests, and sometimes violent clashes between social justice warriors and far-right provocateurs. He argues that there are 3 great untruths that have become woven into childhood and education that are leading the rising generation astray. Greg gets into where these untruths come from and how they're creating a culture of "safetyism" that's not only affecting intellectual discourse but the normal process of maturation. If you’re looking for some thoughtful, non-polemical insights about some of the craziness you see going on at college campuses, this episode is for you. Get the show notes at aom.is/coddling. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#437: Don't Make Me Pull Over! A History of the Road Trip
Sep 03 2018 53 mins  
If you grew up in America in the 1970s and '80s, a vacation with your family likely involved piling in a car with your parents and siblings and being stuck with them for eight or more hours on the open road with little other than each other to keep yourselves entertained and sane. Entire movies were made about The Great American Road Trip. Yet this world has slowly faded away without our hardly noticing thanks to cheaper airfare and advances in technology and convenience. My guest today set out to document what he calls the Golden Age of Road Tripping before it vanishes from our collective memory. His name his Rich Ratay and in his book Don't Make Me Pull Over! he walks readers through the history of the American family road trip. Today on the show, Rich and I discuss how it was actually bicycles that kickstarted America's interstate highway system, when automotive road tripping really started taking off, and all the iconic businesses that built up around the nation's new pastime, including Stuckey's convenience stores, motels, and attractions like the world's largest frying pan. Along the way, Rich shares stories from his family road trips growing up as a kid, particularly his memories of his dad taking on the role of leader, protector, and refueling-stop-minimizer during their expeditions. We end our conversation discussing the decline of the family road trip, what we miss out on when we take a plane to our destination, and why Millennial parents are ushering in the return of road trips to American culture. This episode is definitely a nice drive down memory lane, and great one to listen to as you hit the open road. Get the show notes at aom.is/dontmakemepullover. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.









#429: Taking Control of the Brain Chemical That Drives Excitement, Motivation, and More
Aug 07 2018 58 mins  
Why do you feel so motivated and excited about tackling a new project at first, but then get bored and abandon it? Why does passionate love quickly turn into ambivalence? Why does it feel like you had more zest for life and work in your twenties than in your thirties and forties? Much of the answer can be found in a single chemical in your brain: dopamine. That’s the case today’s guests make. Their names are Daniel Lieberman and Michael Long, and they’re the co-authors of a new book entitled The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity. Daniel is a professor of psychiatry at George Washington University and Michael is a trained physicist turned writer. In The Molecule of More, they team up to explore a chemical that compels us towards achieving our goals, but also towards addiction. We begin our conversation discussing the situations in which dopamine plays a role in our lives, how it’s made, and how dopamine levels change throughout our lifetimes. We then discuss how dopamine drives our endless search for novelty, and the problems this can cause if we don't learn to how to switch from the excitement of anticipating something, to enjoying it in the here and now. Daniel and Michael then walk us through dopamine’s role in addiction to things like porn and drugs and the differences between “desire dopamine” and “control dopamine.” Along the way, they share insights on how to harness your dopamine so it works towards your greater goals, rather than against them. If you love the thrill of the chase, but have a hard time transitioning from pursuing something to actually building it, this is the podcast for you. Get the show notes at aom.is/dopamine. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#428: The Life of a Dragon — The Untold Story of Bruce Lee
Aug 03 2018 67 mins  
If you were like most boys, you probably went through a karate phase as a kid. When I went through my karate phase as a 5- and 6-year-old, I demanded that my family called me “Daniel-san.” Unfortunately, they did not comply. There’s one man you can thank for your karate phase: Bruce Lee. As my guest will show us today, Bruce Lee nearly single-handedly popularized martial arts in America thanks to his breakout Hong Kong kung fu movies in the early 1970s. My guest's name is Matthew Polly and he’s the author of the new definitive biography of Bruce Lee called Bruce Lee: A Life. Today on the show, Matthew and I explore the creation of the legend that is Bruce Lee, starting with his unique family history that had him straddling Eastern and Western cultures his entire life. Matthew gives us vignettes into Lee’s early life that show his fire, scrappiness, and love of martial arts, including his rise as a child star in Hong Kong and his love of street brawling. We then discuss how Lee started formal kung fu training as a teenager and how his ambition caused him to bump heads with his teachers. Matthew then shares how coming to America helped Lee refine and reinvent his martial arts practice, how Lee got his break in Hollywood, and how he ended up teaching kung fu to movie stars like Steve McQueen and James Coburn. Along the way, Matthew shares details of Lee’s relentless fitness routine and talks about Lee’s personal library of over 2,500 books that included a lot of philosophy and psychology. We end our conversation discussing Lee’s legacy and how he changed not only cinema, but our idea of manhood in America. Get the show notes at aom.is/brucelee. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#426: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8
Jul 26 2018 59 mins  
When you think of the Apollo Mission, the first thing that probably comes to mind is Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepping foot on the moon. But even Armstrong didn’t think his moon landing was the most important or daring of all the Apollo missions. For Armstrong, Apollo 8 best fit that description. If you’re like most people, you probably know very little about Apollo 8, let alone the names of the three astronauts who flew on that mission. But that will definitely change after this episode. In fact, you'll likely never forget their stories. My guest on the show today is Robert Kurson who's out with a new book called Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon. We begin our conversation discussing the state of America’s space program before John F. Kennedy made his famous “moonshot” speech in 1961 and why the Soviets kept beating America in the space race. We then discuss the audacious and near impossible plan made in a few hours in August 1968 to put men into orbit around the moon by Christmas of that year. Robert then tells us about the lives of the three men who would be the first humans to leave earth’s orbit and the first to orbit the moon, and why they were the perfect astronauts for this mission. We also discuss the role the wives of these astronauts played and why out of all the married astronauts who took part in the Apollo missions, the astronauts of Apollo 8 were the only ones to never get divorced. We end our conversation discussing the climactic speech the astronauts made on Christmas Eve from the moon and the life lessons Robert learned from writing about and talking with the men of Apollo 8. Get the show notes at aom.is/rocketmen. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.








#419: American Honor — Creating the Nation's Ideals During the Revolution
Jul 03 2018 49 mins  
What started the American Revolution? The typical answers are "taxation without representation" and the economic and political consequences that came with that. My guest today argues that while economic and political principles all played roles in the American Revolution, there’s one big thing underlying all the causes of the Revolutionary War that often gets overlooked: honor. His name is Craig Bruce Smith, he’s a historian and the author of the new book American Honor: The Creation of the Nation’s Ideals During the Revolutionary Era. Today on the show we talk about what honor looked like in America during the colonial period, how that concept changed, and how this shift precipitated the War of Independence. We then explore how personal affronts to honor experienced by several of the Founding Fathers at the hands of the British transferred into a feeling of being slighted as a people, galvanizing a collective sense of honor in the colonies and inspiring the fight for independence. We then discuss the role honor played in Benedict Arnold’s treason and how his treachery spurred colonial Americans to go on to win the war. We end our conversation discussing why the sons of the Revolutionary Era returned to a more traditional ethos of honor in the form of dueling. This show will give you fresh insights on the founding of America. Get the show notes at aom.is/americanhonor. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.






#414: Theodore Roosevelt, Writer and Reader
Jun 14 2018 43 mins  
If you’ve been following The Art of Manliness for awhile, you know we’re big fans of Theodore Roosevelt. The man embodied the Strenuous Life. He was a rancher, a soldier, a hunter, a statesman, and a practitioner of boxing and judo. But what many people don’t know about Roosevelt was that he was also an accomplished man of letters. He wrote over forty books himself and read thousands of others over the course of his lifetime. And as my guests on the show point out, TR’s literary life was tightly interwoven with his mighty deeds. Todayon the show, historians (and husband and wife team) Thomas Bailey and Katherine Joslin discuss their book Theodore Roosevelt: A Literary Life. We discuss how Roosevelt began the writing habit as a 7-year-old boy and how he wrote one of America's greatest military histories when he was just 24 years old. We then discuss TR’s greatest literary successes, including The Rough Riders, The Winning of the West, and African Game Trails. Thomas and Katherine share how Roosevelt’s penchant for action influenced his writing and how his writing inspired him to take action, and how John Wayne and Western movies wouldn’t exist without TR's literary work. We then get into Roosevelt's reading habits, including his opinion of compiling lists of must-read books. You’re going to gain new insights about one of America’s larger-than-life characters listening to this show. Get the show notes at aom.is/trwriter. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.




#410: The Male Brain
May 31 2018 42 mins  
There’s a common argument out there that gender differences are just the product of socialization. Implicitly and explicitly, the argument goes, culture tells men and women how men and women should behave. My guest todayargues that the drivers of male and female behavior are little more complex than that. In fact, about 50% of the differences between men and women are rooted in our biology, beginning with how our respective brains form in utero. Her name is Louann Brizendine. She’s a neuropsychiatrist, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of two books: The Female Brainand The Male Brain. Today we discuss that latter work, and the trajectory the male brain takes from prenatal life through old age. We begin our conversation discussing how a megadose of testosterone in the womb wires a male brain differently from a female brain and how that influences how boys socialize and learn during childhood. Louann then discusses how the male brain is re-structured again with another megadose of testosterone during puberty and the impact that has on a teen's behavior. She then walks us through what happens to the male brain when a man falls in love, has kids, and enters mature adulthood. Consider this podcast an intro guide to how your brain works (assuming you’re a dude listening to this, though female listeners will also get some insights into why the males in their lives act the way they do). Get the show notes at aom.is/malebrain. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#408: The Incredible Forgotten Story of WWII's Ed Dyess
May 25 2018 47 mins  
Ed Dyess was a smart, talented, athletic kid from Texas who had a passion for flying, movie star good looks, and a flare for acting. Thanks to a chance encounter on a highway in the middle of nowhere, he went on to become an ace fighter pilot, lead men with guns-a-blazing in America’s first amphibious attack during World War II, survive the Bataan Death March, and escape a harsh Japanese POW camp. All the while, Dyess kept quietly inspiring and leading everyone he encountered. Today on the show, I discuss this real life GI Joe with writer and filmmaker John Lukacs. John is the author of Escape From Davao and made a documentary about Dyess called 4-4-43 (narrated by past AoM podcast guest Dale Dye). John shares how Dyess started his military career as fighter pilot during World War II, but ended up leading men on the ground in the earliest infantry battles in the Pacific. We then dig into Dyess’ experience during the Bataan Death March and how he continued to support his men during this crucible. John then shares how Dyess, along with nine other men, escaped from one of Japan’s harshest prison camps and how he fought his way out of the jungle to let the world know of the atrocities going on in the Philippines. We end our conversation with a discussion of why Ed didn’t win the Medal of Honor despite his heroic actions, his tragic death, and the leadership lessons we can all take from him. Get the full show notes at aom.is/dyess. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.






#402: Why Honor Matters
May 03 2018 65 mins  
In today's world, honor is typically thought of in terms of integrity -- doing the right thing when no one is looking. But traditionally, honor meant having a reputation worthy of the respect of others. If people think about this type of honor at all these days, it's usually in a negative way, associating it with pistol duels, honor killings, and toxic shame. But my guest today argues that for moral life to be robust and vital, a culture of honor is absolutely necessary. His name is Tamler Sommers. He’s a professor of philosophy at the University of Houston, co-host of the podcast Very Bad Wizzards, and the author of the new book "Why Honor Matters." Today on the show, Tamler and I discuss honor— what it is, why it disappeared from our moral ethos and vocabulary, and why we should bring it back. Tamler makes the case that honor culture fosters community and encourages risk taking for the sake of excellence, while our modern dignity culture atomizes us and encourages us to play it small. He then makes a counterintuitive argument that the contained aggression and violence that honor promotes can have real benefits and shares one way honor is making a comeback in the form of the “restorative justice movement.” We end our conversation discussing why stories of honor are so appealing to humans and whether it’s really possible to revitalize honor in modern Western society. Get the full show notes at aom.is/whyhonormatters. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#401: Everything You Need to Know About Diet & Fat Loss
May 01 2018 81 mins  
When it comes to fitness and nutrition, the nutrition part can cause a lot of confusion. There’s so much information out there about the best diet to follow and often the advice is contradictory. My guest today is here to clear up some of the confusion. His name is Robert Santana, he’s a registered dietician, a PhD candidate in exercise and nutrition science, a Starting Strength coach, and the nutrition coach at Starting Strength Online Coaching. Today on the show we discuss all things diet and nutrition. We begin with a big picture overview of the three main macronutrients our body uses to function, and the science of their effect on the body. Robert walks us through how our body partitions nutrients as we consume them, and explains exactly how we get fat. In the process, Robert debunks a lot of popular ideas people have about nutrition these days, like eating carbs makes you fat and eating fat is an easy way to lose weight. In fact, he argues that you should probably be eating a lot more carbs than you are now. He then walks us through the science of fat loss, and gives practical examples of what a diet needs to look like, whether you’re wanting to lose fat, while maintaining muscle, or gain weight that's more muscle than fat. We end our conversation discussing my experience in cutting weight, what I eat from day to day, and why trying to get six-pack abs isn’t necessarily a healthy goal. Get the full show notes at aom.is/santana See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.







#394: The Incredible True Story of the Renegade WWII Pilots Who Helped Win the War in the Pacific
Apr 06 2018 50 mins  
In 1942, the United States was fighting a war in two major theaters: Europe and the Pacific. But in the early days of WWII, the US and its allies had a “Europe First” strategy which resulted in more troops, supplies, and attention being funneled to that theater. American forces in the Pacific were charged with protecting Australia from Japan, but given scant resources to fulfill that mandate. But a group of enterprising and rebellious bomber airmen stationed in Papau New Guinea grew tired of playing defense against the Japanese and decided to take the war to the enemy by going on daredevil, near-suicide missions. In his book "Lucky 666," Bob Drury shares the incredible story of these airmen and their ringleader, Captain Jay Zeamer. Bob walks us through the history of the war in the Pacific, including internal battles between U.S. commanders and the lack of logistical support American forces in the Pacific received during the early days of the war. He then introduces us to Zeamer, sharing what set him apart from other airmen and why so many were drawn to his charismatic leadership. Bob then shares how Jay and his renegade crew took an old dilapidated B-17 bomber and fixed it up themselves so they could take the war to Japan, and how the men split their time between landing in the brig and receiving awards for valor. It all leads up to a climatic dogfight — the longest in US aviation history — that would help turn the tide of the war in the Pacific. This is a story about friendship, leadership, and gritty boldness that's also incredibly moving. Grab a tissue. You’re going to need it by the end. Get the full show notes at aom.is/lucky666 See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.





#390: Why Insults Sting and How to Handle Them
Mar 22 2018 53 mins  
Insults are a part of the human experience. We insult others and we get insulted back. Social media has only amplified our tendency to ridicule one another, and increased our likelihood of being on the receiving end of a barb. Yet we don't typically understand the dynamics of insults very well. Why do we throw insults at each other and why do they hurt so much? Is there anything we can do to reduce the mental and emotional sting of these verbal affronts? My guest today has explored the philosophy of insults in his book "A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt and Why They Shouldn’t." His name is Bill Irvine, and I had him on the podcast about a year ago to discuss his book on Stoic philosophy. Today on the show, Bill and I talk insults. We begin our conversation discussing all the ways we can insult one another -- from direct insults to passive aggressive ones. Bill explains why we often resort to backhanded compliments when praising people and why you don’t have to intend to insult someone to insult them. Our conversation then dovetails into the rise of PC culture and how it’s made us all more sensitive to small slights and unintentional snubs. We end our conversation with tactics you can use to be less sensitive to social slights with many of Bill’s insights coming from the Stoic philosophers. In a day and age where we seem to be in perpetual outrage mode, this podcast can provide some fortifying balm for the soul. Get the full show notes at aom.is/insults. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#387: Think Like a Poker Player to Make Better Decisions
Mar 13 2018 55 mins  
It’s been said that life is a series of decisions. But life is complex and filled with randomness and uncertainty. How do you make decisions when 1) you don’t know everything you need to know to make the optimal decision, and 2) the factors influencing your decision are constantly changing? My guest today suggests thinking like a poker player. Her name is Annie Duke. She’s a former World Series of Poker champion turned business consultant. In her book "Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts," she shares insights from her career as a professional poker player on how to make smart decisions in the face of uncertainty. We begin our conversation discussing why life is more like poker than chess and why you should never judge the quality of a decision by the results. She then shares insights on why you need to factor in luck, both good and bad, when you’re making decisions and how thinking of your decisions as bets can make you feel more comfortable with uncertainty. Annie and I then discuss some of the biases that prevent humans from thinking probabilistically, and why probabilistic thinking can make you more compassionate and humble. She then makes the case that thinking of your political opinions as bets is one way to moderate our increasingly polarized society. We end our conversation discussing how leaders can use the ideas from her book to help the groups they lead make better decisions. This is a fascinating show filled with actionable insights that you can use right away. Get the complete show notes at aom.is/thinkinginbets. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#386: The Rise and Fall of the American Heavyweight
Mar 08 2018 73 mins  
With boxing on the wane in America for the past twenty some odd years, it’s easy to forget how much of a cultural juggernaut it was for much of the 20th century. Boxing was not only a common recreational pastime and athletic pursuit for young men, and a wildly popular spectator sport, it was a metaphor for manhood and other American cultural struggles as well. When two men stepped in the ring, it wasn’t just two men fighting. The bout could become a battle of white vs. black, nativist vs. immigrant, or democracy vs. fascism. My guest today, Paul Beston, explores the cultural history of the heavyweight boxer in his latest book: The Boxing Kings: When American Heavyweights Ruled the Ring. Paul and I begin our conversation discussing the man who created the archetype of the American heavyweight boxer, John L. Sullivan. From there, Paul takes us on a vivid historical tour of many of boxing's all-time greats, including Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, James Braddock, Joe Lewis, Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson. Along the way Paul provides insights how each of these heavyweight greats became conflicted symbols of masculinity in America. We end our conversation discussing why boxing has declined in America and what Paul has learned about being a man from writing about boxing. Even if you think you're not interested in boxing, you're going to find this show fascinating. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.











#377: 12 Rules for Life With Jordan Peterson
Feb 06 2018 52 mins  
Have you been stuck in a rut for awhile? Have you been there so long that you feel like there’s no use in trying to get out of that slump? Maybe you even start telling yourself, “Things can never get better. This is just the way things are. Is there even a point to all of this?” And as you ruminate over these questions over and over, you feel more and more depressed and maybe even start to feel a bit resentful. Resentful towards others, resentful towards life itself. Well, my guest today says that perhaps the way you start to get out of that rut is to clean your room, bucko. His name is Jordan B. Peterson, and I’ve had him on the show before. Peterson is a psychoanalyst and lecturer, and he’s got a new book out called "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos." Today on the show, Dr. Peterson and I discuss why men have been disengaging from work and family and why his YouTube lectures resonate with so many modern men. We then unpack why it’s so easy to get resentful about life, before spending the rest of the conversation discussing rules that can help you navigate away from resentment and towards a life of meaning. Dr. Peterson explains why he thinks a meaningful life isn’t possible without religion or myths, what lobsters can teach us about assertiveness, and why a simple act like cleaning your room can be the stepping stone towards a better life. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#376: When to Compete, When to Cooperate, and How to Succeed at Both
Feb 02 2018 46 mins  
Being successful in life requires social adeptness. And part of that social adeptness is balancing two seemingly opposing social strategies: competing and cooperating. But how do you know which approach to take in the hundreds of different social relationships you navigate day in and day out? For example, should you go out of your way to promote your achievements to your boss or should you spend more time helping your fellow co-workers? My guest today explores these subtle and often complex questions in his book "Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both." His name is Adam Galinsky and he’s a professor at Columbia Business School. Today on the show, Adam and I discuss why all of our relationships— even personal ones — are both competitive and cooperative and how our natural tendency to compare ourselves to others either causes us to cooperate or compete. Adam then shares how cooperation can lead to high status and success, but how once we gain status, our natural tendency is to become a jerk, which leads to our downfall. He provides some research-backed advice on how to avoid that from happening to you. Adam and I then discuss why teasing nicknames are a form of social bonding and why men use them more often, as well as why putting all of your credentials in your email signature just makes you look insecure. A fascinating discussion about the quirks of human social dynamics. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#375: The Misunderstood Machiavelli
Jan 30 2018 41 mins  
The ends justify the means. It’s better to be feared than loved. Politics have no relation to morals. These are just a few of the maxims the Italian writer Niccolo Machiavelli is well known for. The cynical and duplicitous advice he offered in 'The Prince' has made Machiavelli’s name synonymous with manipulative self-interest and deceitful plays for power. But what if Machiavelli wrote 'The Prince' not as sincere advice for would-be leaders, but as a work of irony and satire that’s meant to shine a light on the futility of manipulative deception and the need for leaders of virtue. That’s the argument my guest makes in her book 'Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli in His World.' Her name is Erica Benner and she’s a professor of political philosophy. Today on the show, Erica and I discuss why Machiavelli is misunderstood and what he actually was trying to accomplish with his writing. Instead of being an advisor for tyrants, Erica argues that Machiavelli was an impassioned supporter of republicanism and spent his life trying to foster republican virtue in Florence. And she argues that if you look at Machiavelli’s life and all of his writing, you’ll find a man who didn’t think politics had no relation to morals, but rather firmly believed the only way for free republics to last for centuries was to develop citizens and leaders of virtue. You’re not going to read 'The Prince' the same way after listening to this episode. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.





#370: The Era of Bright Expectations
Jan 11 2018 47 mins  
After WWII and before the Korean War, America experienced a short period free from the fear of war and conflict. People were optimistic about a future of peace and plenty. My guest today calls this time the “era of bright expectations,” and he experienced it firsthand as a young man who had just graduated from college. The era's burgeoning sense of optimism inspired him and a few of his college buddies to set out on a road trip up to the Canadian wilds in search of the spirit of romance and adventure. My guest's name is Earle Labor, and I’ve had him on the show before to discuss his landmark biography on Jack London. Today, we talk about his memoir of this youthful trip of his: "The Far Music." Earle tells us what life was like right after WWII and before the Korean War, and whether he regrets just missing the chance to fight in WWII. We then discuss Earle’s right of passage road trip from Texas to Canada. He talks about hitchhiking, sleeping in barns, fields, and state fair grounds when he and his buddies didn’t have money, and how they ate during those lean times. Earle then talks about the jobs they worked along the way to save money for their stay in Canada, including farming, building grain elevators, and bagging alfalfa for an entire week with little or no sleep. Earle even did some time prize fighting and worked at a burlesque theater. We end our conversation talking about the outcome of that trip, and Earle makes an impassioned call to men to celebrate their manliness and to never lose the spirit of romance and adventure. You don't want to miss it. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#368: The Courage and Resilience of Ulysses S. Grant
Jan 04 2018 51 mins  
Ulysses S. Grant is a historical figure who's often portrayed in a not-so-flattering light. Many Americans know him as a drunk, inept businessman who found himself thrust into generalship during the Civil War and led the Union to victory not because of his military genius, but simply because he happened to be on the side that had more men and weapons. The story then goes that Grant parlayed his military success into a career in politics where he led a failed presidential administration mired in corruption, and later died penniless. That’s the story you often hear about Grant. But my guest today argues that this common portrayal doesn’t come close to capturing the complexity of this American leader. In fact, if you look at Grant more closely, you can find a shining example of courage, resilience, and quiet dignity. My guest's name is Ron Chernow, and he's the author of several seminal, bestselling biographies, including ones on Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and John D. Rockefeller. In his latest biography, "Grant," he's trained his lens on the life of Ulysses S. Grant. Ron and I begin our discussion talking about Grant’s upbringing and how it influenced his unflappable, yet passive personality. We then discuss the real extent of Grant’s alcoholism, how it hurt him throughout his career, and how he managed it throughout his life. Ron then explains how someone who had such a passive and tender personality developed an aggressive new military strategy that would serve as a template for modern warfare. From there we look at the lessons that can be learned from the way Grant handled Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. We then discuss Grant’s presidency, including whether Grant was to blame for the corruption in his administration and the oft-overlooked successes he had while president. We end our conversation with the argument that Grant’s quiet, dignified professionalism is a much needed example in today’s flashy and overly self-promotional world. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#367: The Motivation Myth
Jan 02 2018 39 mins  
It’s a new year and you’ve likely set some new goals for yourself. Now you just need some motivation to work on them. So you read motivational quotes on Instagram, listen to a motivational podcaster yell at you for thirty minutes while you commute to work, and repeat affirmations about crushing it every morning and night. You’re feeling motivated. Really motivated. You start to take some steps to accomplish your goals. But then a few days later, you’re not feeling so motivated, and because you’re not feeling it, you stop working on those goals of yours. Then you start feeling guilty about not working on your goals, so you return to reading motivational quotes on Instagram to help pump yourself back up to get going. Sound familiar? If so, my guest today argues that you’ve likely fallen for the "motivation myth." His name is Jeff Haden and his latest book is "The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win." Today on the show, Jeff explains what the motivation myth is and why it’s so alluring. We then discuss the real secret to lasting motivation, and no, it’s not reading motivational quotes or listening to motivational speakers. Jeff then walks us through specific tactics you can start using today to tap into this genuine catalyst for achieving your goals. If you’re a motivational junkie that doesn’t have a lot to show for all your inspired intentions, this episode is for you. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#366: Teach Yourself Like George Washington
Dec 21 2017 53 mins  
George Washington has become an archetype of the great American leader. Subsequent generals and presidents all have been compared to Washington, and in the American mythos, they all fall short of this founder's military and political genius. What many people don’t know about Washington, however, is that his formal schooling abruptly ended at age 11 with the death of his father and that he was largely self-taught. My guest today wrote an intellectual biography of Washington and how this autodidact rose to American apotheosis despite lacking the classical education of his Revolutionary contemporaries. Her name is Dr. Adrienne Harrison and her book is "A Powerful Mind: The Self-Education of George Washington." Today on the show, Adrienne discusses how her time as a combat officer in Iraq led her to researching and writing her doctoral dissertation about Washington’s intellectual journey. We then discuss why Washington’s education was deficient compared to other Founding Fathers like Jefferson and Adams, how this lack made Washington extremely self-conscious, and what he did to mitigate ever revealing it. Dr. Harrison then takes us through how Washington charted his own education throughout the different stages of his life and career to help him become a wealthy landowner, successful general, and first executive of the United States. Adrienne also takes us on a tour of Washington’s personal study and library and what is says about his learning style. We end our discussion on lessons we can take from Washington on maintaining a passion for lifelong learning. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.










#357: How to Be a Creative Genius Like da Vinci
Nov 17 2017 36 mins  
Leonardo da Vinci has become the ultimate archetype of the creative genius. Besides his famous paintings, including the Mona Lisa, da Vinci had insights into anatomy and optics that would take science a few hundred years to verify. While Leonardo's genius seems like a gift from the gods, my guest today argues that it was actually the result of years of human effort and toil. Today on the show I have the pleasure of speaking with famed author Walter Isaacson about his latest biography called "Leonardo da Vinci." We begin the show talking about what has drawn Isaacson to write about innovative individuals like da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Steve Jobs, and how Isaacson has discovered that it’s at the intersection of science and the humanities that all great innovations are made. We then dig into the life of da Vinci and lessons we can take away from him. Walter tells us about da Vinci’s famous notebooks and what he kept in them, and makes the case that all of us should be carrying around a little notebook for ideas too. We then dig into the the myth of the solitary genius and how Leonardo collaborated all throughout his life on some of his greatest works. We then discuss one of the great paradoxes of da Vinci's life: that he could be both intensely focused and hugely flighty, and how both sides of this character were key to his genius. We end our conversation talking about how we can develop the same kind of power of intense concentration that da Vinci wielded, even in our distracted, digital world. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#356: How to Finally Beat Procrastination
Nov 14 2017 54 mins  
Procrastination. We’ve all done it and we tell ourselves we’ll never do it again. So we come up with an elaborate time management system to get us on track only to find ourselves continuing to put things off. While some procrastination can be mildly infuriating, chronic procrastination can be financially, professionally, and personally devastating — overdue bills result in calls from collection agencies, late reports result in getting fired, and undone chores turn your house into a dump. Why do we procrastinate despite our best intentions not to? My guests today are clinical psychologists who have spent their career working with procrastinators. Their names are Jane Burka and Lenora Yuen. They’re the co-authors of the book "Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now." We begin our conversation discussing the difference between procrastination and strategically postponing things. They then take us through the cycle of procrastination that we’ve all been through and explain why it’s such a vicious loop. We then transition to talk about why we procrastinate and why faulty time management isn’t the real root cause of it. Jane and Lenora argue that if you don’t tackle the true origins of procrastination — which range from the fear of failure to the fear of success — no amount of time management or planning will help you. We finally dig into how to tackle these roots so you can exit the procrastinator’s cycle and get stuff done. This podcast is filled with great insights and actionable advice. Don’t put off listening to it! See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#354: Brains & Brawn — Tips and Inspiration on Being a Well-Rounded Man
Nov 08 2017 62 mins  
Physical training has a lot of carry over to other domains of your life. It can help you become a better husband and father, a more productive worker, and a more disciplined student. My guest today is a living manifestation of the multiplier effect that physical training produces. His name is Dan John. He holds several records in discus and the highland games, and coaches and consults top athletes in the throwing sports and Olympic lifting. Dan also holds master's degrees in history and religious studies and was a Fulbright Scholar in religious education. He teaches religious studies for Columbia College of Missouri. Today on the show, Dan and I discuss how physical training can make you a better man in all domains of your life. We begin our discussion on how his training has made him a better scholar and how his scholarship has improved his training. Dan then explains what “shark habits” are, how they contribute to your long-term goals, and how to develop your own shark habits. We end our conversation getting into specifics of strength training. Dan shares the top 3 mistakes he sees people make with their training, why you need to start carrying heavy instead of just lifting heavy, and why you need to put a premium on recovery. This episode combines both brains and brawn for a compelling conversation on being a well-rounded man. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.






#349: Is This a Date or Not? The Problem With Ambiguity in Relationships
Oct 19 2017 51 mins  
Dating has never been more ambiguous than it is today. People sort of end up with each other without explicitly defining the nature of their relationship, level of commitment, or expectations for the future. What begins as hanging out, slides into spending the night, which slides into moving in together, and can even sometimes slide into marriage. While keeping your romantic relationships ambiguous may seem to make them safer and less complicated, my guest today has conducted research that shows that's not necessarily the case. His name is Scott Stanley, he’s an author and professor of psychology at the University of Denver, and he specializes in studying commitment, co-habitating, and marriage. Today on the show, Scott explains why dating has gotten more ambiguous during the past 20 years and why that has led people to slide into relationships instead of explicitly deciding and committing to them. He then highlights research that shows that, contrary to popular belief, co-habitating before marriage actually increases the chances of divorce when you do decide to get married and how living with someone makes it harder to break up with them, even when you realize you should. We then get into what men can do to make dating less ambiguous and more decisive, and how being upfront about your intentions with women will make you more attractive, reduce drama down the road, and put you in a better position for a happy and fulfilling marriage. Scott then shares what you should do if you feel like you’ve slid into your relationship and what married couples can do to strengthen their marriage. Whether you’re dating, thinking about getting married, or already hitched, this podcast is crammed with research-backed advice on how to have better relationships. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.





#345: Not Caring What Other People Think Is a Superpower
Oct 06 2017 54 mins  
Oftentimes when you start making positive changes for the better in your life, you’re going to have people, even people really close to you who claim to care about you, intentionally or unintentionally try to discourage you from your path. In those moments, you have to develop the ability to shrug off your critics and not let them drag you back down to their level. My guest today has succeeded in that struggle and shares the lessons he learned in his aptly titled book, "Not Caring What Other People Think Is a Superpower." His name is Ed Latimore and besides being a writer, he's a professional boxer, is about to complete his degree in physics, served in the National Guard, is an AmeriCorps volunteer, and avid chess player. Today on the show, Ed shares how he wasn’t always this ambitious and how he spent his twenties dorking around. He then shares the moment when he decided to get serious with his life and the steps he took to start college in his late twenties. We then dig into some of the themes in Ed’s book, specifically how to develop discipline even though you’re not motivated, why you have to embrace being mediocre to become great, and the difference between good pain and bad pain. Ed shares what it’s like to lose a boxing match on national television and the lessons on failure he took from that match. He also shares insights on how to deal with success, specifically how to keep that edge even when things are going well for you. We end our conversation talking about why not caring about what people think is a superpower and why sometimes the people closest to you don’t want to see you change your life for the better. This is a great show packed with actionable insights. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.






#339: The Power of Likability
Sep 14 2017 40 mins  
When you hear the word “popular” you’re probably transported back to high school where cliques of cheerleaders and football players ruled the roost while everyone else was at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Even as an adult, you probably remember where you stood in the pecking order and have some powerful emotions associated with that. My guest today has researched why popularity plays a key role in our social and psychological development and how our place in the social pecking order as children and teenagers can affect our happiness and well-being even when we’re in our 30s and 40s. His name is Mitch Prinstein. He’s a professor of adolescent psychology at the University of North Carolina and the author of the book "Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World." Today on the show, Mitch breaks down the two different types of social status: popularity and likability. He then shares research that suggests that while popularity comes with short-term benefits, it also has a tremendous amount of long-term downsides. Instead of focusing on popularity, Mitch argues that learning to be likable can get you all the benefits of status without the drawbacks. He then shares what you can do to become more likable in your life. Next we digs into the research that shows how children as young as 5 are already aware of who’s likable and who isn’t, how and why that status sensitivity goes into overdrive in your teenage years, and how being likable at a young age can have benefits well into adulthood. This is a fascinating show with lots of great insights and even action steps on becoming more likable. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#338: How to Beat Distraction and Stay Focused
Sep 12 2017 40 mins  
If you’re like me, you have a love-hate relationship with your digital devices. On the one hand, they give us access to unlimited amounts of information, connect us with friends and family, and allow us to work from pretty much anywhere. On the other hand, they can captivate our attention so much that we feel distracted and angsty. And try as we might, we often find it hard to ignore the itch to stop scrolling through Instagram and really listen to what a loved one is saying. Why do these devices feel so dang addictive? My guest today is a neuroscientist who’s studied that question in depth. His name is Adam Gazzaley and he’s the founder of Gazzaley Labs at the University of California at San Francisco. There, he and his team have researched what goes on in our brains when we use our digital devices, why they distract us, and what we can do about it. Today on the show, Adam and I discuss the science of distraction and focus. Adam walks us through the cognitive functions we use to focus our attention and to avoid distraction. He then explains why these evolved cognitive functions are mismatched to today’s constantly buzzing digital devices, using a theory of optimal food foraging borrowed from biology. We then discuss action steps grounded in science on how you can beat distraction and stay more focused throughout the day. We end our conversation talking about Adam’s work creating prescription video games (yes, prescription) that can be used to help elderly patients and individuals with ADHD. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#337: What Homer's Odyssey Can Teach Us Today
Sep 08 2017 52 mins  
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. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#335: Exploring Archetypes With Jordan B. Peterson
Aug 31 2017 50 mins  
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. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#333: Solitude & Leadership
Aug 24 2017 50 mins  
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. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#332: What Does It Mean to Be Authentic?
Aug 22 2017 47 mins  
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. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.






#327: Heading Out — A History of Camping
Aug 04 2017 46 mins  
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. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#326: Why Boys Are Struggling & What We Can Do To Help Them
Aug 02 2017 47 mins  
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. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.




#322: Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong
Jul 19 2017 47 mins  
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. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.



#320: The ADHD Explosion
Jul 11 2017 51 mins  
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. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#318: Exploring Life's Trails, Literally and Metaphorically
Jul 03 2017 55 mins  
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. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


#316: An Introduction to Stoicism
Jun 27 2017 43 mins  
Interest in Stoicism has experienced a renaissance in recent years. Yet despite the increasing popularity of this ancient philosophy, misconceptions still abound about it. For example, many people assume that to be Stoic means to not feel or express any emotion, including happiness, and that Stoicism requires one to live a bland and spartan lifestyle. My guest on the show today debunks these myths and shows that Stoicism can actually enrich our lives and allow us to experience real happiness. His name is Bill Irvine and he’s a professor of philosophy and the author or A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. In our discussion, Bill shares the origins of Stoicism and how the Romans modified Greek Stoicism to fit their culture. We then get into specific Stoic practices you can implement today to start improving your life. Bill shares the power of negative visualization, how to approach things you have some, but not complete control over, and how to purposely inject discomfort into your life to increase your grit. Bill then explains the Stoic duty of socializing and how to maintain your Stoic serenity even with the most difficult of people. We then discuss what the Stoics would have thought of political correctness and microaggressions and some of the critiques of Stoicism. If you've been wanting to understand Stoicism more, but haven't known how to get started, this podcast is a great introduction and is packed with not just background information but actionable advice. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.






#311: The Meaning of Beards
Jun 09 2017 50 mins  
The ability to grow a beard is what separates boys from men and except for a few rare instances of bearded ladies, men from women. Because it’s a uniquely masculine feature, facial hair has played an important role in forming our ideas about manhood. Today on the show, I talk to a cultural historian who specializes in the history of facial hair about the cultural, political, and religious history of the beard. His name is Christopher Oldstone-Moore and in his latest book Of Beards and Men he takes readers on a tour through the history of facial hair starting with cavemen and going all the way to the hipster beard of the 21st century. We begin our conversation talking about why male humans grow beards in the first place and then take a look at the spiritual and political significance of beards and shaving beginning with the ancient Sumerians through medieval Europeans. We then discuss why the Greeks were big on beards until Alexander the Great and why the Ancient Romans were bare-faced until the days of the early empire. We also discuss Jesus’ beard and why many early Christians actually depicted him as clean shaven. We end our conversation talking about the great beards of the 19th century, why clean shaveness took precedence in the 20th (and no, it’s not because of the military's use of gas masks) and the cultural meanings of facial hair today. Whether you’re bearded or bare-faced, this podcast is going to leave you with lots of new insights about the hair that grows on your masculine mug. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

#310: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity
Jun 06 2017 52 mins  
One of the primary roles of men across time and culture is that of the warrior. Indeed, how we define masculinity at its core is centrally shaped by warfare. The virtues we think of as manly, like courage, physical strength, and daring, are vital in battle, and because men have primarily been the ones doing the fighting for thousands of years, we expect men to possess those masculine virtues. But the way war is waged has changed throughout human history. If warfare informs our ideas of manhood, do the changes in war change our ideas about what it means to be a man? My guest today on the show answers this question in the affirmative. His name is Leo Braudy. He’s a cultural historian and film critic and the author of several in-depth and engaging cultural histories. In his book "From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity," Leo delves deep into the cultural history of warfare in the West and shows how the changes in battlefield weaponry and tactics have changed our ideas of manhood. Leo and I discuss how the different ways Achilles and Odysseus fought battles created competing ideas of manhood among the Ancient Greeks and how we see that competition still going on today. We then dig deep into the chivalric code of the Middle Ages and how aristocratic warriors combined Christian piety with pagan warrior fierceness. Leo then walks us through how the rise of the democratic nation-state changed warfare and manliness. We end our conversation talking about how the current war on terror is subtly changing our ideas of masculinity today. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.












#299: What the Ancient Greeks and Romans Thought About Manliness
Apr 28 2017 43 mins  
Ancient Greece and Rome have a heavy influence on the idea of manhood we promote on the Art of Manliness. In fact, this classical conception of manliness was how much of the West defined manhood up until the middle of the 20th century. If you were to ask a man living in 1920 what “manliness” meant, he’d probably give you roughly the same answer as a Greek or Roman man living 2,000 years ago. My guest on the podcast today is a classical scholar who has spent time thinking and writing about Greek and Roman notions of manliness. His name is Ted Lendon. I had Ted on the podcast awhile back ago to discuss his book Soldiers and Ghosts (episode #231 if you want to check it out). On today's show, Ted goes into detail about how the Greeks and the Romans defined manliness. We begin with the Greeks and how the Homeric epics, particularly The Iliad, served as their bible on how to be a man and how Achilles and Odysseus were held up as models of manhood. Ted then explains how the Athenian philosophers tried to tame Bronze Age manliness by making self-control an important element of being a man. We then shift gears to the Romans and discuss how they borrowed elements of Greek manliness to shape their own culture of manhood, as well as how Roman ideas of manliness differed from those of the Greeks. We end our conversation talking about why the virtue of self-control pops up in definitions of manliness not just in the West, but also Eastern cultures like Japan and China. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.




#296: How to Find Your Life's Purpose
Apr 18 2017 38 mins  
My guest today is William Damon, author of the book "Path to Purpose." There’s been a lot of ink spilt in the past decade about young adults' “failure to launch," wherein 20-somethings who should be progressing into independent adulthood, end up spending that decade of their life in an extended adolescence. Several reasons have been given for this phenomenon, from the economy to helicopter parenting. After conducting a landmark 25-year study, my guest argues that a major factor in young adults' failure to launch is actually rooted in their difficulty in finding a purpose for their life. His name is William Damon, he’s a professor of education at Stanford University, and today on the show we discuss the results of his study and the importance of having an overarching aim in life -- which are the themes of his book, The Path to Purpose. We begin our conversation discussing the criteria of a good life’s purpose and why fewer young people have one today. We then discuss why more young people are prioritizing fame and fortune over public service compared to their peers a half century ago, the new places many young people are finding purpose today (and why that’s led to a decrease in civic engagement), and the benefits that come from having a clear purpose in life. We end by talking about how a young person -- and even those longer in the tooth, who still feel adrift -- can find a life’s purpose and what parents can do to help their children find theirs. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.









#288: Love is Overrated
Mar 21 2017 50 mins  
Do you find yourself making the same mistakes over and over again in your relationships? For example, do you have a tendency to ignore red flags and constantly end up in relationships that aren’t healthy for you? Maybe you end up in relationships where the initial chemistry is good, but a few months later, you’re looking for any way out. Well, if any of those descriptions describe you (or a friend who needs some advice!), then give this podcast a listen. My guests today argue that your problem is that you let yourself get suckered by love. Their names are Michael and Sarah Bennett. Michael is a psychiatrist. Sarah is Michael’s daughter and a comedy writer. I had them on the show previously to talk about their book "F*ck Feelings." In their latest book, "F*ck Love," they focus on the most messed up feeling of all: love. Despite the irreverent title of their book, the Bennetts provide surprisingly solid and old-fashioned advice when it comes to establishing long-lasting and fulfilling relationships. They discuss why our emotions can lead us astray in relationships and why men are actually more prone to being bamboozled by romantic feelings than women. They then share both the red flags and the positive qualities you should be on the lookout for in a partner if you want a happy relationship. They also discuss what you should do in a relationship in which you're not happy and why couple's therapy is often not very useful. This is a podcast full of laughs, as well as some seriously helpful insights on how to navigate relationships effectively. Note: Even though the title of the book contains "F*ck," there's no swearing in this episode. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.














#275: How Your Climate-Controlled Comfort Is Killing You
Feb 02 2017 54 mins  
Modern technology has provided us with an unprecedented amount of comfort. For example, with just a turn of a dial we can ensure that our homes are always set at a perpetual 71 degrees, even if it’s blazing hot or frigidly cold outside. But what if our quest for technology-enabled comfort has actually made us physically and mentally weaker and sicker? What if our bodies actually need discomfort to truly thrive and flourish? My guest today explores that idea firsthand in his book What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength. His name is Scott Carney, and in this book he investigates the sometimes crazy-sounding claims of a Dutch daredevil and prophet of intentional stress exposure named Wim Hof. For a year, Scott followed Wim’s method of physical vitality that consists of daily hyperventilation breathing exercises and cold exposure to see what it would do to his physiology. And the results truly astonished him. Along the way, he interviewed scientists, researchers, and athletes who are on the forefront of exploring why embracing environmental discomfort is the missing key to our overall health. On today’s show, Scott and I discuss Wim Hof and his claims, the health benefits of exposing ourselves to the cold, and how hyperventilating may help you do more push-ups than you ever thought possible. If you’ve enjoyed our content on the health benefits of cold showers, you’re going to love this podcast. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.









#267: The Technological Forces That Are Shaping Our World
Jan 06 2017 61 mins  
We’re living in a time in which the landscape is changing quickly. Thanks to technology, steady jobs that provided a living for our fathers and grandfathers no longer exist and jobs that didn’t exist ten years ago are now providing paychecks for hundreds of thousands of people. Even the way we consume has changed in the past ten years thanks to streaming digital services and rental services like Uber and Airbnb. But where are these technological trends taking us? How will they shape the future 10, 20, and even 30 years down the road? Well, my guest today has written a book where he lays out his idea of what the future looks like. His name is Kevin Kelly. He’s the founding executive editor of Wired Magazine, and a former editor of Whole Earth Catalog, and he has spent his career thinking and writing about how technology, particularly the web, intersects with culture, business, and politics. In his latest book, The Inevitable, Kevin takes a look at 12 technological forces that are shaping our future and provides a glimpse of what that future might look like. Today on the show Kevin and I discuss the process he uses in making predictions about the future, the misconceptions he thinks people have about artificial intelligence, why people will likely own less stuff in the future, and the business opportunities that will emerge as time marches on. We also discuss the technological trends that worry Kevin the most. If you’re looking for a roadmap to navigating the brave new world we’re entering, then you don’t want to miss this podcast. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.







#261: Solitude, Friendship, & How NOT to Be an Excellent Sheep
Dec 15 2016 49 mins  
There’s a growing feeling amongst Americans that we’re suffering a crisis of leadership in our government, families, and businesses. People seem less independent and autonomous, and more directed by others. What's behind this lackluster leadership and what's the solution? My guest today argues that the problem has to do with the way we're bringing up what he calls "excellent sheep," and that the solution is equal doses of deep solitude and deep friendship. His name is William Deresiewicz and he’s the author of several books and speeches, including A Jane Austen Education, Excellent Sheep, and Solitude and Leadership. Today on the show, William and I discuss what most so-called leaders get wrong about leadership and why learning to be alone with your thoughts helps forge better leaders. We discuss the history of friendship, why friends are so hard to make as an adult, and what you can do to form deeper relationships. William and I also talk about how young people can stop being “excellent sheep,” and jumping through the hoops other people put in front of them in order to start living on their own terms. We cap our conversation with an exploration on why men should give Jane Austen a chance and the life lessons we can get from her novels. This is an eclectic, but wisdom-filled podcast. You're definitely going to hear something you'll end up mentally chewing on for days to come. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.





































































#200: The Virgin Vote - Masculinity & Politics in the 19th Century
May 12 2016 44 mins  
We're in the middle of a presidential campaign here in the U.S., and once again commentators, politicians, and reporters are bemoaning the apathy and disengagement of young Americans, but there was a time in American history when young people were the most passionate participants in American democracy. No, it wasn't the 1960s. It was the 1860s. My guest today on the podcast has just published a book about nineteenth century politics, and the energy that young voters brought to the process, and how young people, particularly men in the nineteenth century, looked to politics for a sense of manhood and adult identity during a time of economic and social upheaval. His name is Jon Grinspan, and his book is The Virgin Vote: How Young Americans Made Democracy Social, Politics Personal, and Voting Popular in the Nineteenth Century. On today's episode Jon and I discuss why politics was an essential part of male identity in the nineteenth century, and how a man's first vote was an important rite of passage into manhood during this time. We also get into the atmosphere of campaigns in the nineteenth century America. If you think this current election cycle is unprecedented in its violence, nastiness, and general circus-like environment, wait until you hear about the booze laden, torch lit, midnight campaign barbecues, and the shankings and brawls that happened at the polls during the nineteenth Century, some pretty crazy stuff. After the show make sure you check out the show notes at AOM.IS/VirginVote, where you'll find links to resources, things we mentioned, so you can delve deeper into this topic. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.









#192: Becoming Batman
Apr 16 2016 33 mins  
Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. Someone said that comic book superheroes is modernity's version of the great Greek myths. Just as the ancient Greeks used the stories of Achilles or Odysseus or Hercules as guides on how to live their lives, many modern individuals who grew up on superhero stories have found inspiration in them on how to live a heroic life, even if they're just regular Joe Blows. My guest today on the podcast is a documentarian who has created films about real-life people who have been inspired by comic book heroes to do good in their own lives. His name is Brett Culp and he's the director of one film called Legends of the Knight, which looks at how the Batman legend has transformed people's lives, as well as the forthcoming documentary called Look to the Sky. In today's podcast, Brett and I discuss why Batman is such an enduring superhero and how he's inspired a millionaire to dress up like Batman and visit kids in the hospital and a child psychologist to start using comic books to teach troubled children about skills like resilience and courage. We also discuss Brett's unique way of showing these films so that he can raise money for charity. If you love comic books, you're going to love this podcast. Even if you're not a big fan of comic books, you're going to enjoy it. It's a really uplifting story. Be sure to check out the show notes for links to resources mentioned during the show. You can find them at aom.is/culp. As always, if you enjoy the podcast, please consider giving us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. Brett Culp, welcome to the show. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.