#508: Break Out of Your Cage and Stop Being a Human Zoo Animal
The human body is capable of doing a wide variety of movements, in a variety of environments. But my guest today argues that most modern people only do a few movements each day, commonly find themselves stuck in sterile surroundings, and that these confinements are sapping our physical and psychological health.
His name is Erwan Le Corre and he’s the founder of the MovNat physical fitness system and the author of the book The Practice of Natural Movement: Reclaim Power, Health, and Freedom. Today on the show Erwan explains what natural movement is, and our amazing human potential for walking, running, balancing, jumping, crawling, climbing, swimming, lifting, carrying, throwing, catching, and self-defense. We then discuss the cultural forces that have disconnected us and our children from our ability to perform these natural movements, and have turned us into "zoo humans." Erwan and I then dig into the benefits of engaging with natural movements, from improved mental and physical health to a greater sense of freedom. We end our conversation with Erwan's actionable advice on how you can easily incorporate more natural movement into your daily life.
Get the show notes at aom.is/naturalmovement.
Many people today are feeling stressed or overwhelmed by life. The typical approach to treating these issues is to learn how to manage one's symptoms through things like mindfulness or meditation. My guest today argues that mere management is insufficient. Instead, we need to tackle the root of what’s causing us to feel anxious, stuck, and generally lost—a decreasing sense of agency.
His name is Dr. Paul Napper and he’s a psychologist and the co-author of the book The Power of Agency: The 7 Principles to Conquer Obstacles, Make Effective Decisions, and Create a Life on Your Own Terms. Today on the show, Paul makes the case that the reason more and more people feel like they're floundering, is that they don't have a strong sense of personal agency. Paul explains what he means by agency, and why learning how to get better at thinking, acting, and making choices for yourself can be the real key to feeling less stuck in life. Paul and I then discuss the seven overarching principles of increasing your agency, as well tactics to put them into practice.
Get the show notes at aom.is/agency.
When it comes to your personal presentation, there’s one aspect that often gets overlooked: your voice.
Your voice is a big part of what makes you, you, and what makes you likable and influential. Yet you probably don't think too much about it.
Not to mention, my guest today argues, you’re likely not even using your true voice thanks to bad habits you’ve picked up throughout your life.
His name is Roger Love, he’s a voice coach who's worked with some of the world's most famous singers and speakers, and the author of Set Your Voice Free. Today on the show, Roger explains why having a clear, confident, pleasant speaking voice is important for success in your career and your life, the the biggest ways people sabotage their voice, including voice fry, uptalk, and being nasally, and how these issues can be addressed and eliminated. Roger also shares how to speak in a more masculine way, and why you're probably not speaking loudly enough.
Get the show notes at aom.is/voice.
For thousands of years, men's lives were structured by rituals -- rituals that helped them mark significant events, make sense of the world, and move from one phase of life to the next.
In our modern age, our lives are largely devoid of rituals, and my guest today says we're worse off for it. His name is William Ayot, and he’s a poet, men’s group facilitator, ritual leader, and the author of Re-Enchanting the Forest: Meaningful Ritual in a Secular World. We begin our conversation discussing William’s introduction to the power of ritual, why rituals have declined in Western culture, and what makes a ritual, a ritual. We then discuss the history of the mythopoetic men’s movement kickstarted by Robert Bly and his book Iron John. William then unpacks why it's important for men to undergo a rite of passage, why it's never too late to participate in one, and how men can have multiple rites of passage over their lifetime. We discuss how to give your son a rite of passage as well. William also provides some ideas for daily rituals you can incorporate in your life to provide more meaning and enchantment to existence. We end our conversation with William’s advice on how to get started with a men’s group.
Get the show notes at aom.is/ritual.
#504: How an Olympic Marathoner Trains, Eats, Recovers, and Stays Mentally Strong
The marathon race is one of sport's most physically demanding events. To not just complete a marathon to but to compete in the race at its highest levels takes an incredible amount of dedication to training, recovery, diet, and mindset.
My guest today gives us a firsthand look at what that kind of dedication and strategy look like. His name is Jared Ward, and he placed 6th in the marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and 8th in this year's Boston Marathon. But Jared is more than just a runner -- he's also a coach, a statistics professor at BYU, a husband, and a father of four.
Today I talk to Jared about he balances all those aspects of his life, even as he trains for the 2020 Olympics, and about exactly how he eats, recovers, and programs his workouts. We also discuss how he deals with nerves before big races and stays in a positive mindset while he runs them. We end our conversation with Jared's advice for amateur runners.
Get the show notes at aom.is/olympicmarathon.
We live in a world where it’s possible to work ourselves 24/7. Even when you’re away from the office, work still follows you on your smartphone. Being constantly connected can make us feel like we’re getting a lot done, but my guest today makes the case that we’d all be better off if we practiced the ancient tradition of the Sabbath. His name Aaron Edelheit and he’s the author of the book The Hard Break: The Case for a 24/6 Lifestyle.
We begin our show discussing the burnout Aaron experienced as an entrepreneur working non-stop, how he rediscovered the Jewish tradition of the Sabbath, and how it changed his life and even helped him sell his business for over 200 million dollars. Along the way, we explore America’s workaholism and how it’s making us miserable and less productive, and costing businesses money. Aaron then digs into how you can start implementing a Sabbath practice regardless of your beliefs, and the benefits that accrue to your life, your health, your creativity, and even your bottom line when you take a weekly reset.
Get the show notes at aom.is/hardbreak.
Talking to new people can lead to making new connections and learning interesting things, and simply makes both you and the person you talk with happier. Yet many of us have a very difficult time striking up a conversation with strangers. Why is this?
My guest today has done studies to find out. Her name is Gillian Sandstrom and she's a professor of social psychology at the University of Essex. Gillian's research has explored both why people have such a hard time talking to strangers, and why it's beneficial to do so. Today we dig into common barriers to talking to new people, including the "liking gap," where we believe people find us less interesting than they do. We then talk discuss the benefits of talking to strangers (which go for both introverts and extroverts), and Gillian's best tips for getting better at it.
Get the show notes at aom.is/talktostrangers.
#501: Zero to Hero: From Bullied Kid to Medal of Honor Recipient
As a boy, Allen J. Lynch was a severely bullied and aimless kid growing up in the industrial neighborhoods of Chicago's South Side. He went on to serve in the Army, receive the Medal of Honor for the valor he displayed when he rushed to save three fallen comrades during a deadly firefight in Vietnam, and dedicate his life to helping his fellow veterans.
Today I talk to Allen about his story, which he shares in his recently published memoir: Zero to Hero: From Bullied Kid to Warrior. We begin our conversation discussing his childhood, when the bullying started, and how it affected his youth. Allen then shares the aimlessness he had as a high school graduate and how he carried it with him after he signed up for the Army, and at first struggled to adapt to military life. We then discuss how Allen ended up in Vietnam, the best friend he lost there, and the harrowing scenario that earned him a Medal of Honor citation. Allen then shares how receiving the Medal of Honor put him on a path of service in helping fellow veterans heal from the wounds of war. We end our conversation with a poignant discussion of Allen’s own battle with PTSD and how his motto of “others not self” has helped him deal with it.
Get the show notes at aom.is/zerotohero.
When you invite people over for a dinner party, you likely think of some delightful conversation topics to bring up to keep your guests engaged. My guest today argues that one of those topics should be death.
His name is Michael Hebb and he’s the founder of Death Over Dinner, an organization that encourages folks to have dinner parties to talk about death -- from the philosophical aspects to practical matters like wills and funeral planning.
Today on the show we discuss why you should invite friends and family to your house to talk death over a plate of lasagna. We begin our conversation discussing the downsides of not talking about death and how ill-prepared Americans are for death both emotionally and financially. Michael then shares the best ways to invite people to a death over dinner party. We then dig into questions you can use to get people talking about death in terms of both the practical and the philosophical.
True story: after I recorded this episode, I had dinner with some friends and we discussed death and estate planning over pizza. It was a big success.
Get the show notes at aom.is/deathoverdinner.
The world of Norse mythology and legend is a thoroughly fascinating one, and my guest has captured it in all its compelling mystery in his book which retells those stories, called Tales of Valhalla. His name is Martyn Whittock and today he takes us on a gripping tour of Norse culture and myth.
We begin the show discussing who the Norse people were, and the misconceptions people commonly have about them, including associating them exclusively with Vikings. We also talk about misconceptions about the Vikings themselves, and what it really meant to be a Viking. We then get into why it's hard to completely recapture Norse myths and rituals as they were originally known. Martyn then unfolds the Norse creation story, offers interesting snapshots of the major Norse gods, including Odin, Thor, and Loki, and explains what Ragnarok was all about. We end our conversation discussing Norse sagas, and how Norse culture continues to influence our modern culture today.
Get the show notes at aom.is/norsemyths.
#498: Lessons in Persistence From Climber Tommy Caldwell
On El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, there was a wall that had never been climbed, and that some said would never be climbed. It’s called the Dawn Wall.
But in 2015, Tommy Caldwell along with Kevin Jorgeson became the first to free climb it. That journey was then made into an award-winning film called Dawn Wall.
Today I speak to Tommy about what led up to that historic climb, starting from how he got involved in rock climbing in his childhood. We begin our conversation discussing the different types of rock climbing and why people often misinterpret what "free climbing" means. We then dig into Tommy’s climbing career, including his early success in sport climbing and the harrowing experience of being held hostage by and escaping from rebels in Kyrgyzstan. We then discuss how Tommy responded to losing a finger and getting divorced, and why he decided to climb the Dawn Wall. We end our conversation discussing the years-long process of preparing for the climb and the virtue of what Tommy calls “elective suffering.”
There are a lot of little, potent lessons here in how to remain persistent and driven in the face of setbacks that apply beyond climbing to every aspect of life.
Get the show notes at aom.is/dawnwall.
#497: The Meaning, Manifestations, and Treatments for Anxiety
According to recent statistics, the number of Americans dealing with anxiety disorders is over 40 million and that number is increasing. My guest today is one of those Americans who's suffered from bouts of anxiety all of his life. He’s also a successful journalist. So he decided to use his journalistic chops to explore the history of anxiety and how we treat it in the hopes he could gain more insight about the mental disorder that has plagued him since his youth.
His name is Scott Stossel. He’s an editor at The Atlantic and the author of My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. We begin our conversation discussing Scott’s experience with anxiety that began as a child, what anxiety feels like, and how he’s treated it throughout his life. We then dig into the history of anxiety, looking at how it's been viewed differently through time, and at what point psychologists classified it as a mental disorder. Scott then walks us through the different theories about what causes anxiety and what the research says about the best ways to treat it. We end our conversation discussing the state of Scott’s anxiety today and whether he thinks he’ll ever be cured.
Get the show notes at aom.is/ageofanxiety.
#496: What Plato's Republic Has to Say About Being a Man
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.
#495: Wish You Had More Time? What You Really Want is More Memories
When you ask people about their schedules, they'll typically tell you they're very busy, and don't have enough time for sleep or for leisure activities. Yet when they're actually asked to track their time, it turns out that they work less and sleep more than they realize.
My guest today studied and dug into this disparity. Her name is Laura Vanderkam and she's the author of several books on the personal use of time, including the focus of our discussion: Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done.
Today on the show, Laura and I discuss why there's a gap between how busy people think they are vs. how busy they actually are. We then unpack what the people who don't feel oppressed by the phantom of busyness do differently than those who do, why time goes by faster when you're older than it did when you were young, and how you can still slow down time as an adult. We talk about how what you really want are more memories, not more time, and how to find more adventure in your ordinary life. We end our conversation discussing how tracking your time can create a more memorable life, why you need to create open spaces in your schedule, and the one tactic you can begin doing this week to start making more of your time.
Get the show notes at aom.is/offtheclock.
#494: The Inspiring Story of One of WWII's Greatest Tank Gunners
Recently, I participated in the AoM podcast's first live audience interview. It took place at Magic City Books here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and joining me for the interview was two-time past guest Adam Makos. Makos, the author of A Higher Call and Devotion, was here in T-Town to discuss his most recent book, Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II.
Spearhead follows the story of Clarence Smoyer -- a quiet kid from Pennsylvania coal country who became one of the greatest tank gunners in World War II history -- and how his life crossed paths with an enemy tanker, Gustav Schaefer, during the Battle of Cologne. Adam shares how he became interested in WWII history as a kid and how he found Clarence's story. He then gives us an engaging rundown of tank warfare in WWII, and walks us through Clarence’s hero’s journey and the epic battles he faced with calm commitment and a love for his team of tankers. We end our conversation discussing what happened when Clarence and Gustav recently met up as old men, and the lessons Adam thinks members of the social media age can take from the veterans of the Big One.
Get the show notes at aom.is/spearhead.
There are over a hundred million books in existence. And the average person only has 8 decades in which to read them. So which books should you choose to read over others before you croak?
It's a question that's launched scores of lists and many an argument, and my guest today has fired his own missive in the debate.
His name is James Mustich, he’s been in the book business for over 30 years as a book seller, reviewer, and editor, and he's created the ultimate book list in his book 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die. Today on the show, James explains his guiding philosophy on the books he decided to include in his list, and how he designed the book to have the feel of browsing through an ideal bookshop. James then makes the case for why book lists are helpful, but should never be seen as strictly prescriptive. We then dig into the surprising genres of books that James includes in his list, including science fiction, detective novels, and children’s books, and one or two of his very top recommendations in each category. At the end of our conversation, James makes a list just for the AoM audience of books every man should read before he dies.
Get the show notes, including Jim's list of books for men, at aom.is/1000books.
#492: How to Survive a Secret Syrian Terrorist Prison
Matthew Schrier was on his way home from Syria after spending months photographing the war going on there, when, just 45 minutes from the safety of the Turkish border, he was taken prisoner by the Al-Nusra Front — a branch of Al-Qaeda in Syria.
For the next seven months he was starved and tortured in six different prison camps. Yet he survived, becoming the first Westerner to escape Al-Qaeda. Today he teaches the military about what he learned through his experience.
Today on the show, I talk to Matt about his book, The Dawn Prayer, which details what he learned about how to survive a Syrian prison, as well the lessons he learned in what not to do from a fellow American with whom he was held captive.
Get the snow notes at aom.is/dawnprayer.
"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.
There's no doubt that luck plays a role in how successful we are in life, but the more we believe in luck, the less motivated we feel to proactively go after our goals. How do we navigate this paradox around luck — acknowledging the influence of chance but not letting it demoralize us?
My guest today argues the answer lies in seeing life more like playing a game of poker than pulling the handle of a slot machine. Her name is Karla Starr and she's the author of Can You Learn to Be Lucky? Why Some People Seem to Win More Often Than Others.
Today on the show Karla argues that no matter what hand you're dealt in life, there are still many things you have control over that you can influence to make your own "luck." We talk about how the things that come down to chance, like the timing of a job interview, how physically attractive you are, and whether you have more or less resilient genes can be influenced or counteracted by our own proactive behaviors so that more opportunities in life fall our way.
Get the show notes at aom.is/lucky.
If you’ve been trying to get a handle on your anger, you’ve likely read tips for calming down like taking a deep breath and counting to ten.
My guest today argues while those tactics might serve as band-aid in the short term, truly getting control of your anger has to begin long before you have a blow up. His name is David Lieberman. He holds a Ph.D in psychology and is the author of several books, including his latest, Never Get Angry Again. We begin our discussion talking about what happens in our minds and body when we get angry, the ill effects anger can have on our health and relationships, and why common anger management advice isn't very effective. David then digs into the deeper root causes of most anger issues and walks us through what you can do to address and solve them.
Get the show notes at aom.is/anger.
The health benefits of fasting from food have gotten a lot of attention in the last several years. What's often forgotten in these discussions, however, is that fasting has been practiced for thousands of years not only for the sake of the body, but for the spirit as well.
My guest today has written a book, The Sacred Art of Fasting, that explores the different ways fasting is practiced by all of the world's major religions and how it can be practiced by individuals today. His name is Father Tom Ryan, he's a priest and author, and today on the show, we discuss the reasons for making fasting a spiritual discipline, how this discipline is practiced within several different religions and can still be practiced by someone who isn't religious, and how to get started with this universal, age-old discipline.
Get the show notes at aom.is/spiritualfasting.
#487: Leadership Lessons From the 3 Greatest Ancient Commanders
Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Julius Caesar. Three of the greatest generals of antiquity. But what made them great and what can we learn from them about leadership? My guest explores those questions in his book Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and the Genius of Leadership. His name is Barry Strauss and he’s a classicist and military historian at Cornell University. Today on the show we discuss the traits all three of these men possessed that made them such military geniuses, including audacity, ambition, and a little luck. Barry walks us through the five stages of war that each of these legendary commanders navigated and where each thrived and floundered.
Barry then makes the case that while Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar each experienced success in the short-term, in the long run all of them failed to achieve their ultimate aims because they became victims of their own success. We end our conversation discussing what these commanders' shortcomings can teach modern leaders in any kind of field, and whether it’s possible to be both a bold visionary leader and a great manager.
Get the show notes at aom.is/mastersofcommand.
#486: How to Get Better at Making Life-Changing Decisions
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.
#485: Why Visiting Dark Places Is Good for the Soul
When you go on vacation, you probably travel to places that help you feel good, relax, and have fun. My guest today likes to visit places where great human suffering and tragedy has occurred.
His name is Thomas Cook. He's a writer of crime fiction, but in his latest book, Even Darkness Sings, he takes readers with him on the real family trips he's taken to see humanity’s darkest places, including Auschwitz, Verdun, and Hiroshima. We begin our conversation discussing how Thomas and his wife got the idea to visit dark places, how all dark places are different yet connected, and how darkness has a unique power to offer insight and even hope and optimism. Tom then takes us on a tour of some of the tragic places he’s visited and the lessons he’s learned from them. We end our conversation discussing the importance of treating dark places with somber reverence and how a personal dark place was created for Tom while he was writing this book.
Get the show notes at aom.is/darkness.
If you've never been in a fight before, have you ever wondered how you’d respond to getting punched in the face?
My guest today found the experience pretty delightful. Which is all the more surprising given that he'd lived more than three decades of his life as a self-described pacifist, who abhorred violence, thought fighting was barbaric, and feared he was a coward. His name is Josh Rosenblatt, and he’s the author of Why We Fight: One Man’s Search For Meaning Inside the Ring, which describes his decision to enter an actual MMA fight at the age of 40.
Today on the show, Josh talks about why after a lifetime of being a hedonistic, non-physically oriented, intellectual type of guy who thought mixed martial art fighting was dumb, he decided to climb into the cage as a MMA fighter himself. Josh describes how he first got interested in MMA fighting in his early 30s, started studying Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and boxing, and discovered the joys of getting in touch with his long submerged aggression. We then discuss what it was like to train for an actual MMA fight as an older guy, how fighting has influenced his writing, and what getting into the cage taught him about sacrifice, asceticism, transcendence, and the potential for human transformation.
Get the show notes at aom.is/whywefight.
In the past few years, sports recovery has become a big business. Elite athletes and weekend warriors alike are spending lots of time and money on things like cryotherapy, float tanks, foam rolling, and supplements in order to feel better, push themselves harder, and gain an edge over the competition. But does any of this stuff actually do anything?
My guest today spent a year investigating the science of exercise recovery. Her name is Christie Aschwanden and she’s the author of Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn From the Strange Science of Recovery. We begin our show discussing what exactly athletic “recovery” is and why the recovery business has been booming recently. Christie and I then dig into several different recovery modalities from drinking Gatorade, to taking ice baths, to foam rolling, and the science, or the lack thereof, behind their effectiveness. We end our conversation discussing what actually works best for exercise recovery (hint: you do it every night and it’s free), whether you should spend your money on things like cryospas, and whether recovery methods can still be beneficial, even if they're largely based on the placebo effect.
Get the show notes at aom.is/recovery.
In the 21st century, most of our written communication is done through typing on a computer or tapping digital buttons on a smartphone screen. But my guest today argues that we can increase our sense of humanity and our connection to the physical world and to other people by rediscovering the lost art of putting a real pen to real paper.
His name is Michael Sull. He’s a master penman, penmanship instructor, and the author of several penmanship books. Today on the podcast, I talk to Michael about what it takes to become a master penman and what exactly a master penman does for a living. Michael then takes us on a tour of the history of cursive handwriting, including insights into how culture has influenced handwriting styles throughout the ages and why penmanship has declined in the modern day. Michael then makes a case for why people should start writing in cursive again, how to get started with improving your handwriting, and why there’s nothing like getting a handwritten note in the mail.
Get the show notes at aom.is/penmanship.
#481: Building Financial Independence Beyond the Stock Market
Financial independence is a goal for a lot of folks. But what does it take to get there? My guest today explores that question on his website, Financial Samurai. His name is Sam Dogen, and before writing about money online, he worked in finance. We begin our conversation discussing how his career in equities shaped his personal finance philosophy and made him leery of putting too much wealth in the stock market. Sam shares why he recommends putting a lower percentage of your money in stocks than is often recommended in mainstream finance advice, how that percentage should shift as you get older, and alternative ways to invest, build your wealth, and create multiple streams of income that will give you more control over your fortunes. Sam then shares what it means to be financially independent and some of the blindspots he thinks exist in the FIRE, or Financial Independence/Retire Early, movement. We end our conversation talking about how to plan your financial life for the future, especially concerning what the changing world will be like for your kids.
Get the show notes at aom.is/financialsamurai.
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.
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.
#478: Mastering Mindset to Improve Happiness, Health, and Longevity
Having a positive mindset comes with an unbelievable number of benefits, from better physical and mental health, to improved relationships and performance at work. If you've got a more negative bent, you're really missing out on a lot.
Fortunately, my guest says it's possible to shift into a more positive gear. Her name is Dr. Catherine Sanderson and she’s a professor of psychology at Amherst College. In her latest book, The Positive Shift, she highlights scores of studies that show how a positive mindset can make us healthier and happier, and how that mindset can be achieved. Today she shares those insights with us, beginning with debunking the idea that a positive outlook means being naively Pollyanna-ish in disposition. Catherine then walks us through what the research says about the surprisingly robust benefits of having a positive perspective which affect every area of your life. We then discuss specific tactics you can use to develop a more positive outlook, even if you have an inborn inclination towards being negative.
Get the show notes at aom.is/positiveshift.
#477: The History and Future of America's Special Forces
When people talk about military special forces, the Navy SEALs are often the first to come to mind. But there are several special forces in the military that have a storied history and play a fundamental role in America’s military defense. My guest today is the only person to have been allowed to audit and write about the training programs of the respective special forces units of every branch of the military.
His name is Dick Couch. He’s a retired US Navy SEAL and the author of several books on America's special operations forces. Today on the show, we particularly discuss his book Sua Sponte: The Forging of a Modern American Ranger.
We begin our conversation discussing the history and varied purposes of the military's different special operations forces. Dick then explains how a soldier becomes an Army Ranger and why going to Ranger School isn’t the thing that makes you a Ranger. He walks us through the process of becoming a Ranger, including Ranger Assessment and Selection. We end our conversation discussing the role special operations forces will play in the future of America’s military.
Get the show notes at aom.is/armyranger.
#476: Are Modern People the Most Exhausted in History?
People often complain about being tired and burnt out these days from work and family responsibilities. We think it’s because of the way technology has sped up the pace of life, and the way we’re always “on,” and figure we’re living in the most exhausting age in history. But are we really?
My guest today argues that, no, people have been complaining about being tired since at least antiquity. Her name is Anna Schaffner and she’s written a book called Exhaustion: A History, which traces the fascinating evolution of physical, psychological, and existential fatigue from the ancient Greeks to the modern day. Today she takes us on this tour, and as we move from age to age, we dig into how exhaustion has changed as to how its described, whether we blame external or internal factors as its source, and how much we believe personal agency can control it.
Get the show notes at aom.is/exhaustion.
If you’re like a lot of men listening to this podcast, you’ve likely made it a goal to lose some weight this year. But if you’re also like a lot of men listening to this podcast, you’ve made that goal before, maybe even succeeded with it, but have had to make it again because you gained all the weight back. My guest today argues that losing weight is actually pretty easy. The real trick is keeping it off.
His name is Layne Norton. He’s a professional bodybuilder, powerlifter, and doctor of nutritional science, and today on the show we discuss all things fat loss. We begin our conversation discussing why losing weight is easier than keeping it off, the mechanisms that kick into gear once we shed body fat that cause us to gain all of it, and even more back, and why yo-yo dieting is so terrible for you.
We then dig into whether there's one diet that's the most effective in helping you lose fat, the tactics you need to use to keep the weight off in the long run, and the real reason exercise plays a role in helping you do so, which isn't what you think.
Get the show notes at aom.is/biolayne.
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.
The Gila National Forest covers about 3.3 million acres in southwest New Mexico. During the dry summer season, wildfires pose a serious threat to the area. To spot wildfires in this vast landscape as soon as they start, the U.S. Forest Service relies on fire towers spread throughout the area that are each manned by a lone individual. My guest today wrote a memoir about the unique experience this job offers. His name is Philip Connors, he's a writer and one of the country's few remaining fire watchers. Today on the show we discuss what the life of a fire watcher is like and what it’s taught him about nature, solitude, and time. Along the way, Phillip describes the virtues of listening to baseball games by radio and the value of slowing down in an increasingly rushed world.
Get the show notes at aom.is/firewatch.
Like FDR or JFK, Ronald Reagan has become more of a symbol for many Americans than a flesh and blood person. For some he’s the embodiment of all that’s good in America, while for others he's the very opposite. But beyond the political divides, who was Reagan, the man?
My guest today spent five years researching and writing an epic, non-partisan biography that seeks to bring the abstraction of Reagan back down to earth. His name is Bob Spitz and his biography is Reagan: An American Journey.
We begin our conversation discussing how Reagan’s hardscrabble childhood in the Midwest and his family’s staunch progressive politics influenced his early political outlook. Bob then shares how a young Ronald Reagan showed signs of becoming "the Great Communicator" as a young man and how his charm and innate talent for speaking led to a successful career in radio and the movies.
We then discuss why Reagan went from being a true believing Democratic New Dealer to being a leader in the burgeoning conservative movement in the 1960s. Bob delves into Reagan’s leadership style as governor of California and President of the United States and the important role Nancy Reagan played throughout his political career.
We end our conversation discussing Reagan’s ultimate legacy.
Get the show notes at aom.is/ronaldreagan.
#471: Using Mental Models to Make Better Decisions
We live in a complex, fast-changing world. Thriving in this world requires one to make fast decisions with incomplete information. But how do you do that without making too many mistakes?
My guest today argues that one key is stockpiling your cognitive toolbox with lots of “mental models.”
His name is Shane Parrish. He’s a former Canadian intelligence officer and the owner of the website Farnam Street, which publishes articles about better thinking and decision making and is read by Wall Street investors, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and leaders across domains. We begin our conversation discussing how Shane’s background as an intelligence officer got him thinking hard about hard thinking and why the musings of investors Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger have had a big influence on his approach to decision making.
Shane then shares his overarching decision making philosophy and explains what mental models are and why they’re a powerful tool to make better decisions. We then discuss why you should focus on being consistently not stupid instead of trying to be consistently brilliant and tactics you can use to make better decisions.
Get the show notes at aom.is/farnamstreet.
#470: A Proven System for Building and Breaking Habits
It’s a new year and if you’re like millions of people around the world, you’re likely making goals to create some new habits or to break some bad ones. But if you’re also like millions of people around the world, your attempts at making and breaking habits will usually fail after just a few weeks of flailing effort, and you'll probably think your lack of willpower is to blame.
My guest today argues that it isn’t truly a lack of willpower that’s holding you back from your habit goals, it’s the tactics you use for reaching them.
His name is James Clear, he’s the author of the book Atomic Habits, and today on the show, he walks us through how to make habit formation and habit breaking much easier by crafting optimal systems for behavior change. We begin our show discussing the misconceptions people have about habits and the 4-step process of habit formation that tracks the 4 laws of behavior change. James then suggests specific ways to make good habits more attractive and easier to obtain while making bad habits less attractive and easier to shake. We end our conversation discussing why you should take into account your unique personality when you craft your habits.
Get the show notes at aom.is/atomichabits.
#469: How Valley Forge Turned the Tide of the Revolutionary War
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.
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 The Buddha 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.
#467: 3 Big Questions to Help Frantic Families Get on Track
Does your family life feel frantic?
Does it seem like every week you and your wife are scrambling to manage all the stuff that’s going on like school and community activities, extracurriculars, social engagements, and home maintenance?
Perhaps what you need to do is apply some of the strategies that help businesses get organized to your family life. That’s the argument my guest makes in his book The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family. His name is Patrick Lencioni and he’s a business consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Today on the show, we discuss how the questions he asks his corporate clients to provide clarity and direction to their businesses can also provide clarity and direction at home.
Pat unpacks his 3 questions, and explores how vital it is to create a sense of context, mission, and purpose for your your family, why every family needs a rallying cry, and how to actually implement the principles we discuss in your family's life. If you want to start leading your family in living intentionally, instead of staying in reactive mode, this is the show for you.
Get the show notes at aom.is/franticfamilies.
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.
#465: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead
To move forward in life, we typically focus on finding answers. But my guest today argues we should spend more time asking questions. His name is Warren Berger, and he’s a self-described “questionologist” and the author of The Book of Beautiful Questions: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead. We begin our conversation discussing why having an inquisitive mindset is more important than ever in this fast changing, uncertain world of ours, but why people are afraid to ask questions. Warren then argues that questions don’t necessarily need to have answers to be useful and explains what he thinks makes a question a "beautiful question." Warren then talks through the importance of asking questions when you're trying to make decisions, be creative, form relationships, and lead people, while providing concrete examples of questions to ask yourself and others to be more effective in each domain.
Get the show notes at aom.is/beautifulquestion.
Humans are storytelling and story-listening creatures. We use stories to teach, persuade, and to make sense of the complexities of existence. Being able to craft and deliver a good story is thus a real advantage in all areas of life, giving you a foot up when doing job interviews, going on dates, interacting with friends, or making a sales pitch.
Fortunately, good storytelling is a skill that can learned by anyone. Here to teach us the art of storytelling is Matthew Dicks, a writer, five-time Moth GrandSlam storytelling winner, and the author of the book Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling.
Today on the show, Matthew walks us through the nuts and bolts of how to craft a compelling story. We begin our conversation discussing ways to generate story ideas, why good stories don’t have to be about big moments, and why he recommends a practice called "Homework for Life." Matthew then tells us what we can learn from movies about making a story so engaging that people are waiting to hear what you say next. We also discuss the don'ts of storytelling, including how to never begin a story. And we end our conversation with a five-minute story from Matthew that showcases all the principles we discussed during the show.
Get the show notes at aom.is/storyworthy.
For thousands of years, the Spartans have captured the imaginations of Westerners. In ancient Greece, the city-state was admired for its military prowess, civic unity, and dedication to leisurely athletic pursuits. Today, we make movies about Spartans and name sports teams after them. When we moderns think of Spartans, we typically think of them simply as fierce warriors.
But while the Spartans were indeed warriors par excellence, their culture was much more complex. Today on the show, I unpack some of these complexities with historian Paul Rahe. Paul is working on a series of books with Yale University Press which explore both the military and political strategy of the Spartans. We begin our conversation discussing why it’s hard for us moderns to truly understand Sparta. We then dig into the history and culture of Spartans, including where they came from, their economic set-up and relationship with the helot population, and the strenuous upbringing of boys that made them fit for battle. We then talk about the mixed government of the Spartans. We end our conversation discussing how the city-state faded into obscurity, and why the Spartans yet live on in modern culture.
Get the show notes at aom.is/sparta.
#460: The Eat, Sweat, Thrive Protocol for Tactical Athletes
First responders and members of the military have physically and mentally demanding jobs. To tackle those jobs effectively, they need to be in shape physically and mentally. But most first responders have erratic schedules that make working out difficult, so that many don’t, and consequently suffer from injuries and poor health. My guest today is a former Navy SEAL on a mission to solve that problem. His name is Adam La Reau, and he's the founder of O2X, an organization dedicated to training tactical athletes.
Adam walks us through the unique challenges soldiers and first responders have when it comes to physical fitness and explains his philosophy on training “tactical athletes.” We then discuss insights civilians can take away from how first responders train, including making time for working out on an erratic schedule, managing stress, and making recovery a priority.
We end our conversation discussing the other organization Adam founded called One Summit, which pairs children who have cancer with a Navy SEAL mentor who helps the kids gain greater resilience through rock climbing.
Get the show notes and resources at aom.is/O2X.
Your time on earth is finite and once you use it up, it's gone forever. Thus on the AoM podcast, we talk a lot about how to maximize your time -- how to use it more effectively to be more productive. But is it possible to be too concerned about managing your time? Should you also make space for chucking out all the to-do lists and schedules and just being kind of idle?
My guest would say yes. His name is Alan Lightman, he’s a physicist and writer, and the author of the book In Praise of Wasting Time. Today on the show Alan forwards the sort of countercultural argument that intentionally wasting time isn't a vice but a virtue. We begin our conversation by discussing what Alan means by wasting time, and then get into how wasting time benefits our psyches, creativity, sense of mental self-reliance, and even, ironically enough, our productivity. We end our conversation discussing the difference between chronos time and kairos time, and how wasting time allows us to spend more time in the latter state.
Get the show notes at aom.is/wastingtime.
#454: A Magician's Search for Wonder in the Modern World
Magicians usually become magicians because they experienced a sense of wonder seeing a cool trick as a kid, and they want to re-create that awe for audience members on a regular basis.
But what happens when a professional magician stops feeling the magic of magic?
That happened to my guest today.
His name is Nate Staniforth, and he recently wrote a book titled Here is Real Magic. Today on the show, Nate shares how he got into magic and became a professional magician, only to become disillusioned with his career. Nate then talks about how he embarked on a search to re-discover the magic of magic, which took him to the slums of India where he encountered a three-thousand-year-old clan of fire-eating street performers, and re-kindled his sense of wonder. If you’re feeling burnt out from your work or disenchanted with life, this episode will have some insights for you.
Get the show notes at aom.is/realmagic.
Are great leaders born or made? Do circumstances make great leaders or do great leaders change the times? These are a few of the big picture questions my guest explores in her latest book. Her name is Doris Kearns Goodwin, she’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, and in her latest book, Leadership: In Turbulent Times, she explores the makings of great leaders by looking at the biographies of four US presidents who led the country through periods of crisis: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson.
We begin our conversation discussing the ambition all four of these leaders had as young men to do something great and how they connected their personal ambition to the greater good. We then discuss the personal setbacks all of them experienced early in life and how these challenges influenced them as leaders. Doris then shares the leadership traits and skills all of them implemented during their presidencies as well as how they did things differently. We end our conversation discussing whether any other leader could have managed the crisis each of these presidents confronted or if these men were singularly suited to the circumstances.
Get the show notes at aom.is/turbulent.
"Warrior" is a word that gets thrown around a lot. There are road warriors, and social justice warriors, and ninja warriors. But what does it really mean to be a warrior?
My guest today sets out a working definition in his book The Warrior’s Manifesto. His name is Daniel Modell, and he earned his Master's Degree in philosophy before going on to serve for twenty years in the New York City Police Department.
Daniel and I begin our conversation discussing what makes a warrior and the lessons Spartacus can teach us on that score. Daniel and I then discuss why warriors do what they do, why violence is sometimes necessary for peace, and what it means to be savage without becoming savage. We then discuss how bureaucracy kills leadership and why you don’t need a title to be a leader. At the end of our conversation, Daniel talks about why it isn't just members of the military and law enforcement who need to understand the way of the warrior, but ordinary civilians as well.
Get the show notes at aom.is/warriorsmanifesto.
When you think of wartime prison escapes, what comes to mind? Probably the breakouts attempted by prisoners of war during World War II and the movie The Great Escape. But the escapees of WWII learned many of the tricks of the trade from their pioneering predecessors, who honed their courageous craft during the first World War.
My guest today has written a book about their audacious exploits. His name is Neal Bascomb, and his book is: The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War. Today on the show, Neal describes what conditions were like for British POWs during WWI, and why prisoners wanted to escape the German camps, even when they were relatively comfortable. We also discuss Germany's most infamous POW camp, which was essentially a land-locked Alcatraz designed to hold the most escape-prone prisoners. While it was believed to be impossible to escape, Neal describes how the prisoners hatched an elaborate breakout plan anyway, and made a 175-yard tunnel towards freedom. We end our discussion with what Neal took away from the heroic exploits of these men.
You're going to really enjoy this look at a fascinating slice of history.
Get the show notes at aom.is/escapeartist.
#450: How to Make Time for What Really Matters Every Day
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.
Every year the cost of a four-year college degree goes up, forcing young people to take on massive amounts of student debt for an education that often doesn't even prepare them well for the jobs of today. My guest today argues that there’s a better, cheaper, and faster way to prepare for gainful employment.
His name is Ryan Craig, he's the Managing Director of University Ventures, an investment firm reimagining the future of higher education, and the author of A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College. We begin our conversation discussing the disconnect between a college education and the job skills employers are looking for and why higher ed continues to get more expensive each year. Ryan then digs into alternative education models that include boot camps, income-share programs, and apprenticeships that are not only faster and more affordable than college, but also put an emphasis on real-life job skills.
Get the show notes at aom.is/anewu.
#448: Your Son Isn't Lazy — How to Empower Boys to Succeed
Do you have a teenage boy who struggles in school? Or do you have a younger son who you can imagine struggling in school as he gets older? He may be an otherwise capable young man, but seems apathetic and unmotivated, to the point you think he's not excelling simply because he's lazy. My guest today says that's the wrong conclusion to draw, and one that leads to the wrong parenting approach to addressing it.
His name is Adam Price and he's a child psychologist and the author of He's Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself. Today on the show, Dr. Price argues that the real reason many young men are unmotivated is not that they don't care about succeeding, but that they feel too much pressure to do so, and are scared of failing. We discuss why nagging and over-parenting simply exacerbates this issue, and how stepping back and giving boys more autonomy can help them become more self-directed and find their footing.
Get the show notes at aom.is/notlazy.
The ancient Greek poet Archilochus said, "A fox knows many things, but a hedgehog one important thing."
The original meaning of the quote has been lost to the mists of time, but my guest today argues that it's a great metaphor for classifying two types of leadership strategies.
His name is John Lewis Gaddis and he's a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, an expert on the Cold War, and a professor of military history at Yale University. Today, Professor Gaddis and I talk about his book, On Grand Strategy, in which he distills insights about strategy from political and military history going all the way back to antiquity.
We begin our conversation discussing what strategy is and what it means to have grand strategy. John then shares the analogy of the fox and the hedgehog, and the benefits and downsides to each approach to thinking and acting. We then discuss why the best strategists combine fox-like and hedgehog-like mindsets, examples from history of great leaders who had both, and how he helps his students see the relationship between principle and practice.
Get the show notes at aom.is/grandstrategy.
#446: How Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Will Make You a Better Man
In the 1980s, when people signed up for a martial art, they probably joined a karate or taekwondo school. Today? They’re probably signing up for a roll on the mat in a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class. And the Gracie family has played a central role in this martial art's precipitous rise. My guest today is a member of the Gracie family, the head instructor of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy, and the co-creator of Gracie University, an online jiu-jitsu program. His name is Rener Gracie, and you may have seen the videos we made with him on our YouTube Channel a few years ago.
Today, Rener walks us through the origins of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, beginning with his grandfather Helio, and how a martial art born in Japan ended up being reshaped in Brazil. He then shares how his father helped develop the UFC as a way to promote the efficacy of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but why there's a big difference between sport BJJ and self-defense BJJ, and why BJJ is such an effective real world martial art. We end by talking about the mindset shift that occurs when you learn how to defend yourself, and how the confidence you gain from learning jiu-jitsu carries over into other aspects of life.
Get the show notes at aom.is/gracie.
Are people mostly good or mostly bad? We're apt to think of ourselves as good people, while thinking of the general population as not-so-stellar. My guest today argues that most people, including yourself, are really best described as a mixed bag.
His name is Christian Miller, he’s a professor of moral philosophy and religion at Wake Forest University, and today on the show we discuss his new book The Character Gap: How Good Are We? We begin our conversation discussing how Christian defines the extreme ends of the character spectrum and why very few people can be described as entirely virtuous or vicious. Christian then points to psychological studies that highlight both bad news and good news as to whether humans tend to have praiseworthy or blameworthy character, and which suggest that whether we behave virtuously or viciously often depends on the context we find ourselves in. We then discuss how to close the gap between how we should act and how we do act, including practices that strengthen our ability and desire to do the right thing. We end our conversation discussing how all world religions provide structure to moral development and why we should be slow to call ourselves and others good or bad people.
Get the show notes at aom.is/charactergap.
#444: How to Use the Procrastination Equation to Start Getting Things Done
Procrastination can be a big stumbling block to our success in life. If you’re a student and you put off studying to the last minute, you might not do as well on a test. If you wait to start saving for retirement until you’re in your 40s, you lose out on the power of compound interest.
We know that we need to do certain things sooner, rather than later, but we don’t. Why?
My guest today is Dr. Piers Steel, and in his work and his book, The Procrastination Equation, he's distilled all the research out there on procrastination into a kind of formula that explains why we put things off. Piers explains why his approach to procrastination is different from that taken by many psychologists, and what they often get wrong about its root causes. He then digs into the different components of why we procrastinate, as well as actionable advice on how you can mitigate these issues and start getting more stuff done.
Get the show notes at aom.is/procrastinationequation.
#443: What Building Your Own Coffin Teaches You About Life, Death, and Meaning
When David Giffels was 50 years old and completely healthy, he decided to build his own coffin with his 81-year-old, master craftsman father. Why? Well, I ask him that on today’s podcast. David Giffels is a writer who previously published a book of essays about growing up in the Rust Belt of Ohio in the 1970s. That title is called The Hard Way on Purpose. In his latest book, Furnishing Eternity: A Father, a Son, a Coffin, and a Measure of Life, he recounts the experience of building his own coffin with his father and the lessons about life, aging, and death that he picked up along the way.
We begin the show discussing why many in the Rust Belt live by the motto, "The Hard Way on Purpose," and how it manifests itself in their undying loyalty to their sports teams that come up short year after year. We then shift gears and discuss David’s project of building his own casket with his dad, the expectations he had going into it, and why lying in your own coffin is, unfortunately, not as profound of an experience as you’d think it would be.
Get the show notes at aom.is/giffels.
#442: Rocky Marciano's Fight for Perfection in a Crooked World
Rocky Marciano was a slow, stocky kid, with short arms and stubby legs. He wasn’t the kind of kid you’d pick to one day be an elite boxer, yet he went on to become the only undefeated heavyweight champion in boxing history. In the process, Marciano became a cultural icon in 1950s America, rubbing shoulders with presidents, movie stars, and gangsters.
How did someone who got a late start in the sport, become one of boxing's greatest athletes? And what happens to a man when fame and fortune are suddenly thrust upon him?
My guest today explores those questions in his new book Unbeaten: Rocky Marciano’s Fight for Perfection in a Crooked World. His name is Mike Stanton and today on the show Mike shares how grit, discipline, and fate led Rocky to become the only undefeated heavyweight fighter in boxing history. Mike then shares the challenges Rocky faced with his newfound fame — from balancing work and family, to managing a huge influx of money, to navigating the crooked world of organized crime that controlled the sport of boxing. We end by talking about how Rocky is both an inspiring and tragic figure.
Get the show notes at aom.is/marciano.
Do you feel like you’re putting your nose to the grindstone and working longer and longer hours, but not getting anywhere with your career? My guest today makes the case that if you want to be a top performer and advance in your job, you need to start working smarter instead of harder.
His name is Morten Hansen and in his book Great at Work, he highlights his groundbreaking, exhaustive analysis on top performers and shares his "7 Work Smarter Practices” that can maximize your job performance, without necessarily requiring you spend more time at it.
Today on the show, Morten explains why top performers concentrate on fewer things, but obsess more about them, as well as the optimal number of hours to be working each week. He then shares some advice on how to convince your boss to limit the number of irons you've got in the fire. We then discuss a practice Morten called "the one thing" that will elevate your skills, why you shouldn't pursue a job based on passion alone, why the best collaborations involve a bit of heated debate, and why you need to find more time to work alone.
This show busts a bunch of myths as well as offers a lot of really interesting insights that you can put into practice.
Get the show notes at aom.is/greatatwork.
#440: The 3 Great Untruths That Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure
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.
You’ve probably read or heard about the benefits of meditation, but you’ve never given it a try because it all seems a bit too woo-woo. You’re not alone. My guest used to be a skeptic himself, but after falling into drug use and suffering a nervous breakdown on national television, he gave meditation a try and found that it made him calmer and more resilient. He’s now on a mission to make meditation approachable for the masses — no meditation pillow required. His name is Dan Harris. He’s a news reporter at ABC who you can see on Nightline. He’s also the author of the books 10% Happier and Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.
Today on show, Dan shares the story of his nervous breakdown in front of millions of people and how that led him to meditation. He then takes us through the latest research on the benefits of meditation, including the way it reduces depression and anxiety. Dan and I then discuss some of the myths that people have about meditation, such as the idea that it takes a lot of time, requires you to sit on a pillow, and will cause you to lose your edge. We end our podcast with Dan taking us through a 1-minute guided meditation which will you give you a nice moment of practical zen.
Get the show notes at aom.is/meditation.
If you found yourself in a situation with a violent attacker, would you know what to do? While it’s easy to think you’d instinctively make the right decision, the truth is, if you haven’t been formulating and practicing a plan ahead of time, you’ll likely make the wrong, and possibly deadly, choice.
My guest today has spent over two decades teaching people how to deal with threats, and even more importantly, how to avoid them in the first place. His name is Dr. Gav Schneider and he’s an expert in personal risk management and security and the author of Can I See your Hands: A Guide To Situational Awareness, Personal Risk Management, Resilience and Security. Today on the show, Gav shares the biggest mistake people make when it comes to their personal safety and why understanding that criminals have an advantage is foundational in keeping you and your family safe. He then walks us through how to develop situational awareness so that we can avoid problems before they occur, why it’s important to have multiple plans of action for when an attack happens, and why realistic training is crucial in being ready to defend yourself.
Get the show notes at aom.is/caniseeyourhands.
#437: Don't Make Me Pull Over! A History of the Road Trip
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.
You’ve probably heard that Edwin Starr song “War, What is It Good For?” Well, my guest today makes the provocative argument that war is in fact good for a lot of things. His name is Benjamin Ginsberg. He’s a professor of political science at John Hopkins University and in his book, The Worth of War, he argues that while war certainly is terrible in the death and destruction it wreaks, it also gives rise to many of the political structures, technologies, and conveniences that society benefits from.
We begin our conversation discussing how war is what gave rise to many things we take for granted, including nation-states, engineering, leadership strategies, and large-scale organizing. We also discuss many of the life-saving medical advances that have been made thanks to war, including sanitation, vaccinations, trauma surgery, and prosthetics. Professor Ginsberg then makes the case that war is the ultimate test of rationality, as it unsparingly eliminates bad ideas and bad thinking. We then discuss how war has counterintuitively advanced civil liberties, like voting, in the 19th and 20th centuries.
This is a thought-provoking conversation that’s going to give you plenty of grist to consider and discuss with your friends.
Get the show notes at aom.is/worthofwar.
We all want to be more productive. And when we buckle down to do so, we typically try to figure out ways to better manage our time. My guest today, though, argues that focusing on managing your time is only part of the productivity picture. You also need to learn how to better manage your attention.
His name is Chris Bailey, and his latest book is Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction. Today on the show, Chris shares research-backed advice on how to improve your powers of concentration, and why doing so is more important than ever. We delve into why you need to be intentional about directing your attention, why multitasking actually causes you to be less productive, and the surprisingly long time it takes to get refocused when you get distracted. Chris then shares tactics you can start using today to become more focused. We then shift gears and discuss the importance of having periods of time when you’re NOT focused, especially when planning for the future. Chris shares how you can organize your day to get the benefits of being both focused and unfocused.
Get the show notes at aom.is/hyperfocus.
#434: Legendary Coach John Wooden’s Secrets of Leadership
John Wooden has been called the greatest coach of all time. During his tenure as coach of the UCLA men's basketball team from 1948 to 1975, he led his team to four undefeated seasons and ten national championships, seven of which happened in consecutive years.
But the funny thing is, winning wasn't John Wooden's goal as a coach. That was simply a happy byproduct of the ultimate aim he set for his team both on and off the court -- to perform their very best in whatever they did.
My guest today had the pleasure of working with Coach Wooden while he was still alive on several of Wooden's books about teaching and leadership. His name is Steve Jamison and today on the show, Steve shares some of Wooden's best nuggets of wisdom on the pursuit of excellence. We begin our conversation discussing Coach Wooden's definition of success and why winning wasn't a part of it. Steve then shares how Wooden was able to impart his vision to his team so effectively through his quiet, but intense court presence. Steve then digs into Wooden's famous Pyramid of Success and why his folksy, almost quaint advice resonates so much with people. We end our conversation discussing how Wooden kept a check on big egos on his teams, and kept success from going to his own head as well.
Get the show notes at aom.is/wooden.
We live in an age of noise. Not just audible noise, but visual noise. It seems like you can’t go anywhere these days without something or someone vying for your attention. My guest today thinks all this noise has made us a bit crazy, and that we need to re-capture the power of silence in our lives. He came to this realization while traveling alone, by foot, for fifty days to the South Pole. Since having that experience of what he initially found to be a disturbing level of silence, he thinks other people need more space for quietude in their lives.
His name is Erling Kagge. He’s an adventurer, philosopher, and the author of the book Silence: In the Age of Noise. Today on the show Erling shares his adventures of being the first person to walk to the North Pole, the South Pole, and Mount Everest alone and why he thinks adventure is within reach of anyone who desires it. We also discuss why creating intentional friction and discomfort is a necessity in our modern world. We then shift gears to discussing the exploration of a different kind of terrain: that of silence. Erling shares what experiencing the silence of being alone in the South Pole is like, what philosophers have said about silence, why people should embrace the challenge of seeking silence, and how to find it even in our noisy modern world.
Get the show notes at aom.is/silence.
When we think of creative people, we often think of a genius who works alone, comes up with an earth-shatteringly new idea in an instantaneous eureka moment, and then sees that obviously valuable idea naturally become a well-known sensation.
My guest today argues that this picture is altogether wrong, and lays out a different image of what it really means not only to be creative, but to become a successful creative, and achieve one's aims. His name is Allen Gannett and he’s the author of The Creative Curve.
We begin our conversation discussing what exactly creativity is and the myth of the creative genius that exists in the West. Allen shares why the best creative ideas actually aren't completely novel and instead riff on what already exists. We discuss why the most creative people in history were the biggest consumers of other content and ideas, why creatives needs to promote their work, why timing is crucial in a creative idea taking off, and the 4 types of people a successful creative needs to have in their network.
Whether you need to be creative in traditional business or more artistic pursuits, this show has some good insights on how to make your ideas more successful.
Get the show notes at aom.is/creativecurve.
#431: How Everything Is Funny Now, and Why That's Terrible
No matter where you look these days, someone is trying to make you laugh. Advertisers, politicians, and even ministers have all become comedians. But it wasn’t always like this. When and why did the world become so funny? And what are the consequences of living in a culture where everything has a touch of humor and irony?
My guest explores those questions in his latest book, Planet Funny. His name is Ken Jennings (yes, Ken Jennings the Jeopardy guy). Today on the show, Ken shares the moment in his life that got him thinking about how humor has taken over the world. From there we discuss the history of humor and how it’s changed throughout the ages. Ken and I then discuss the recent advent of politicians, advertisers, and amateur Twitter comedians trying to be funny and how the internet has changed humor. We then dig into the consequences of living in a hyper-humorous world, including the decline of sincerity, earnestness, and even genuine, gut-busting laughter. Ken ends our conversation with a call to be more mindful of how an excessive focus on funniness can impoverish society, our decisions, and ourselves.
Get the show notes at aom.is/planetfunny.
#430: Why You Need to Join the Great Conversation About the Great Books
There are conversations between friends. Conversations between family. And conversations in the media. But did you know there's also been a conversation going on between writers, thinkers, and philosophers for a couple thousand years? What's been called "the Great Conversation" refers to the way the authors of the so-called "Great Books" have for millennia been referencing and riffing on the work of their predecessors, and this dialogue is one you can not only eavesdrop on yourself, but join in.
My guest today founded an online community that helps people take part in the Great Conversation. His name is Scott Hambrick, and he's both a Starting Strength barbell lifting coach, and the creator of Online Great Books, a program which helps people read and discuss the classic texts of Western literature. Today on the show Scott and I discuss where the idea of the Great Books came from, why they're worth reading, and how to read them. Along the way, we offer sample questions to think about when you're reading these texts, as well as mini models of exchanges you can have with others about them.
This show will likely inspire you to pick up a copy of The Iliad or something by Plato.
Get the show notes at aom.is/onlinegreatbooks.
#429: Taking Control of the Brain Chemical That Drives Excitement, Motivation, and More
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.
#428: The Life of a Dragon — The Untold Story of Bruce Lee
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.
In today's hyper-competitive market in which technology is eating jobs, what sets the successful companies and workers apart from the ones that flounder? My guest today argues it could be something as little as saying hello and helping an old lady with her wheelchair.
His name is Tom Peters, and he's a business expert and the author of several books on professional success. His latest is The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide With Work That Wows and Jobs That Last.
Today on the show, Tom and I discuss why the human touch and striving for excellence is what will give companies and workers an advantage in today's market. Tom shares why execution beats strategy in business and in life, how companies can develop a culture of excellence, and why the businesses that put customers first win in the long run. Tom then makes the impassioned case that business managers should see themselves as “coaches of excellence” and that they have more of an impact on the lives of people than we give them credit for.
Get the show notes at aom.is/excellencedividend.
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.
While we often associate Eastern spiritual and philosophical traditions with meditation and contemplation, there's another side to this wisdom that centers on action and can help us move through depression, anxiety, fear, and just general malaise.
My guest today is the author of a book about this action-oriented philosophy. His name is Gregg Krech, he's the co-founder of the ToDo Institute, and his book is The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology.
Today on the show, Gregg and I discuss a Japanese psychological technique called Morita therapy, which concentrates on accepting instead of fixing one's thoughts and feelings, and acting in spite of them. We discuss how action can be a powerful antidote to depression, anxiety, and interpersonal conflicts, how to act when you don't feel like it, how to stay motivated when the initial rush of a new project or relationship has worn off, and why it's better to have a purpose-driven rather than a feelings-driven life. We end our conversation unpacking the idea that busyness is not the same thing as purposeful action, and why we need self-reflection to tell the difference between the two.
Get the show notes at aom.is/artoftakingaction.
We’ve all probably thought about it. What would we do and how would we fare after a societal collapse? My guest today has spent his career helping individuals get ready for such a situation. His name is James Rawles. He’s the owner of survivalblog.com and the author of several bestselling books on prepping, including How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It.
Today on the show, Jim and I discuss how our dependency on the power grid makes us more vulnerable to disaster than we’d like to think, and all the downstream consequences that would happen if the power grid went down for a significant amount of time, including loss of water, sewage services, and a disruption of supply chains.
We then dig into what you can do to prepare for such a situation, including securing a water supply, storing food, and the skills and mindset you need to weather a crisis. Even if you don't think you're interested in prepping, it's really interesting to think through what you'd need to do to survive an apocalyptic scenario.
Get the show notes at aom.is/rawles.
#422: Men & Manners — Tipping, Emojis, and Much More
They say that manners make the man. But how do you display good manners without coming off as awkward and in a way that elevates life both for yourself and for others? Today I bring back writer David Coggins to discuss etiquette and manners in the modern age. I had David on the show a year ago to discuss his book Men and Style. He’s now out with a new book called Men and Manners. Today on the show, David shares how style and manners are connected and why good manners are like good poetry. We then discuss best etiquette practices concerning tipping, greetings, attending parties, and texting. We end our conversation highlighting the grace and power of handwritten notes.
Get the show notes at aom.is/menandmanners.
Admiral James Stockdale was a fighter pilot and POW in Vietnam for seven years. During his imprisonment, he was regularly tortured and beaten, and often held in solitary confinement.
Despite the emotional, mental, and physical trauma he faced day in and day out, Stockdale survived and came home to become an influential public figure.
How did he do it?
As my guest today explains, Stockdale had with him a philosophical survival kit.
His name is Thomas Gibbons, he’s a retired Army colonel and a current professor at the U.S. Naval War College where he teaches a course founded by James Stockdale called Foundations of Moral Obligation. Today on the show, Tom shares how a little book of Stoic philosophy helped Stockdale endure through seven grueling years of confinement and how his experience as a POW inspired the creation of a course on Western philosophy. Tom then shares why it’s important for military officers and leaders of all kinds to have an understanding of philosophy and walks us through some of the topics they cover in the “Stockdale Course,” including Aristotelian virtue ethics and Kant’s duty ethics.
Get the full show notes at aom.is/stockdale.
#420: What Makes Your Phone So Addictive & How to Take Back Your Life
If you’re like most people, you’ve got a powerful computer in your back pocket that allows you to listen to this podcast, check the score of your favorite team, and learn the population of Mickey Mantle’s hometown of Commerce, OK (answer: 2,473). Our smartphones are a blessing, but for many people they can also feel like a curse. You feel compelled to check your device all the time, leaving you feeling disengaged from life.
What is it about modern technology that makes it feel so addictive? My guest todayexplores that topic in his book, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. His name is Adam Alter and today on the show, we discuss what makes today's technology more compelling than the televisions and super Nintendos of old, whether our itch to check our phones can really be classified as an addiction, what soldiers' use of heroin during the Vietnam War can tell us about why our attachment to our phones is hard to shake, and how the reward we're looking for on social media isn't actually the "likes" themselves. Adam then shares what he thinks is the most effective tactic for taking back control of our tech, and how consumers may be able to influence the direction of its future.
#419: American Honor — Creating the Nation's Ideals During the Revolution
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.
Do you feel stuck in moving forward with your plans and goals in life? Well my guest todayhas some no-nonsense advice on how to shift out of neutral and get going again.
His name is Bernie Roth. He’s the co-founder of the Stanford design school and the author of The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life. Today on the show, Bernie explains to us what “design thinking” is and how its principles can be used to create a flourishing life for ourselves. We discuss how suspending the belief that everything has meaning can help you find new meaning, why reasons are just excuses, how to really get at the root of our problems, the difference between trying to do something and doing it, and how action is the best form of learning. We end our conversation discussing how you build true confidence by consistently taking small steps towards your goal and making the achievement habit a part of your life.
If you need help in getting unstuck in life, you're really going to enjoy this podcast.
Get the full show notes and links at aom.is/achievementhabit.
#417: Expect Great Things — The Mystical Life of Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau is one of America’s most influential thinkers and writers. 164 years after it was published, Walden continues to inspire readers to get out into nature and march to the beat of their own drummer.
But what was the worldview of the man who wrote those immortal words?
Well, for one thing, Thoreau believed in the existence of fairies.
That’s one of the insights my guest mined as he explored the intellectual and spiritual life of Henry David Thoreau. His name is Kevin Dann and in his book, Expect Great Things: The Life and Search of Henry David Thoreau, he takes readers on a tour of the inner life of a uniquely American philosopher.
Today on the show I talk to Kevin about the mystical life of Henry David Thoreau, and why Kevin would actually say that mystical isn't quite the right word to describe Thoreau. And yes, we dig into Thoreau’s belief in fairies and how, despite his magical outlook on life, he was also a keen scientific observer.
You’re never going to read Walden the same way after listening to this episode.
Recent surveys have shown that anxiety and depression are up amongst school-aged children and teens. Parents and teachers are also reporting a decrease in motivation amongst young adults. My guests today argue that both issues stem from the same problem and can be solved with the same solution.
Their names are Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson. Bill’s a clinical neuropsychologist and Ned is a college test prep coach. In their book, The Self-Driven Child, they make the case that modern helicopter parenting and highly structured school schedules and after-school activities are part of the problem of increased anxiety and decreased motivation amongst young people. The solution is to start letting your kids make their own choices and experience the consequences of those choices — both the good and the bad. Today on the show, we discuss specific ways parents can let their kids make their own decisions and why this doesn’t mean you let your kids do whatever they want. With each tip, they explain the science of why it helps increase intrinsic motivation. Lots of great actionable advice. Even if you’re not a parent, you'll find the advice on developing intrinsic motivation to actually be pretty helpful for grown-ups too.
After the show is over, get the full notes at aom.is/selfdrivenchild.
#415: Forging Mental Strength Through Physical Strength
When you start a fitness program, you tend to spend most of your time thinking about the physical part — what movements you’re going to do, how much weight you’re going to lift, or how far you’re going to run. But my guest today argues we ignore the mental aspect of our training at our peril. His name is Bobby Maximus. He’s a world-renowned trainer known for his brutal circuit workouts and the author of the new book Maximus Body.
Today on the show Bobby and I dig into the psychology of fitness. We begin by discussing what holds people back from getting started or going further with their goals and how sticking little green dots all over your house can help you surmount those barriers. He then shares why it’s important to manage expectations when beginning a training program and why there are no shortcuts to any goal. We then shift gears and get into Bobby’s training philosophy. He shares how to train to be “ready for everything,” why you need to do strength training before your endurance work, and why recovery is so important in reaching your fitness goals.
We end our conversation with some examples of the “Sunday Sermons” Bobby shares on his website and a discussion of why perspective is important whenever you’re going through a hard time in life.
After the show is over, check out the show notes at aom.is/maximus.
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.
We all want to feel like our lives matter. To find this kind of significance, we often think in macro terms about our overarching purpose and values. Such reflection is certainly useful, but what are the smaller building blocks that will get us to those goals? What are things we can do to live more purposefully on a day-to-day basis?
My guest lays out ten such habits in his latest book, Make Today Matter. His name is Chris Lowney. He started his vocational life studying to become a priest before discovering it wasn’t for him and shifting his ambitions to the corporate world, working first as a managing director at JP Morgan and now as consultant and keynote speaker. Today on the show Chris and I discuss tactics gleaned from both his experience as a Jesuit seminarian and as a business leader that can help you live each day with more meaning. Chris explains how to keep your most important values at the forefront of your mind, how to approach each day with bravery and heart, and how looking for little ways to do good deeds, express gratitude, and lead others in a positive way will all add up to a life that matters.
Get the show notes at aom.is/maketodaymatter.
Back in 2016, a bizarre story emerged in pop culture. Professional wrestler Hulk Hogan won a $115 million dollar lawsuit against the gossip website Gawker for publishing a sex tape that had been made without his consent. The victory was somewhat surprising but the real surprise was who was actually behind the lawsuit; it wasn't Hogan himself, but the billionaire founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel.
Thiel had his own axe to grind against Gawker, and he had been honing it since 2007. He had been plotting to take down Gawker for almost a decade.
What may sound like a tawdry story of celebrity and scandal, actually contains surprisingly potent lessons on revenge, Stoicism, strategy, perseverance, hubris, privacy, and the underrated power of secrets.
My guest today dug into this story and its insights in his new book, Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue. His name is Ryan Holiday, and he's also the author of Growth Hacker Marketing, The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, andThe Daily Stoic. Today on the show Ryan and I discuss his latest book, and the lessons we can take from a story that reads much like a modern-day Count of Monte Cristo.
Get the full show notes at aom.is/conspiracy.
#411: Why Emotions Are Better Than Willpower in Achieving Your Goals
To achieve your goals, you probably think you need one key ingredient: willpower. Grit. Self-control. Discipline. To hear a lot of self-improvement gurus tell it, if you want to get your life together, then just get it together. Just do it.
Yet while these motivational calls certainly feel good and make us pump our fists, how well does willpower-ing your way to your goals work in reality?
If you're like a lot of people, who have a string of half-finished aims heaped in the dustbin of their lives, you know the answer is: "Not very well."
My guest todayargues that there's a reason for that -- that while willpower does have a role in our lives, there's actually a better source of motivation at our disposal: our emotions.
His name is David DeSteno and he's the author of the book Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride. TodayDeSteno makes the case that cultivating certain feelings will actually enhance our self-control and help us become who we want to be more than simply relying on willpower to get the job done.
Get the show notes at aom.is/emotionalsuccess.
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 Brain and 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.
Hunting is one of America’s deeply held national traditions. Some of our biggest folk heroes were hunters — men like Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and Theodore Roosevelt. But how did hunting become a tradition in America in the first place and how did that tradition influence American culture, including its arts and conservation laws?
My guest todaytackled the history of American hunting, especially its sporting form, in his latest book. His name is Philip Dray and his book is The Fair Chase: The Epic Story of Hunting in America. Today on the show, Philip and I discuss the start of sport hunting in this country during colonial times and how European hunting norms influenced the pastime in America. We then dig into how Americans developed a new and democratic form of hunting. Philip shares how magazine writers and artists in the 19th century helped create the myth of the noble sportsman that we have todayand how hunting changed as Americans moved West. We then dig into how the decimation of the American bison after the Civil War led hunters to start the conservation movement in America and Theodore Roosevelt's role in that movement. We end our conversation discussing the state of hunting in America today.
Get the show notes at aom.is/hunting.
#408: The Incredible Forgotten Story of WWII's Ed Dyess
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.
We’ve been told since we were little kids to “Be nice.”
But what if being nice isn’t really that good and it’s making you and those around you miserable?
That’s the provocative argument my guest today makes. His name is Dr. Aziz Gazipura. He's a psychologist and founder of the Social Confidence Center. In his latest book, Not Nice, he makes the case that being nice is holding a lot of men back in their lives.
We begin the show by talking about what people think “nice” means, but how it usually plays out in reality. Dr. Aziz then digs into the issues that pop up over and over again in the lives of people pleasers, like anxiety, depression, anger, and resentment. We then discuss what the opposite of nice is, and no, it’s not being a complete jerk. He then shares specific tactics the chronically nice can start using today to be more assertive, like saying no without feeling guilty, getting over feeling responsible for everyone’s feelings, and stating your preferences.
If you’re a chronic nice guy, this episode is for you.
Get the full show notes at aom.is/notnice.
If you’re like a lot of people, engaging in small talk can feel awkward and tedious. Consequently, you avoid it as much you can. But my guest today argues that if you want to get ahead both personally and professionally, you need to embrace these little exchanges. Her name is Debra Fine and she's the author of "The Fine Art of Small Talk."
Today on the show, Debra explains why small talk is actually a big deal and isn’t just a waste of saliva. She then shares the biggest obstacles people have to engaging in small talk and the two mindset shifts you need to make to get over those obstacles. Debra and I then discuss specific tactics you can start using today to start conversations, keep them going, and end them gracefully. Lots of actionable advice that can immediately improve your day-to-day life, so take notes.
Get the full show notes at aom.is/smalltalk.
What makes a great sports dynasty a great sports dynasty? We typically think it’s the result of amazing talent or coaching.
But my guest today argues that it all comes down to the often quiet, understated leadership of a team captain. His name is Sam Walker and he’s the author of the book "The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams."
Today on the show, Sam and I discuss his quest to uncover what makes great teams great and the unlikely answer he came up with. We then discuss the traits Sam found in the great team captains of sports history. Some of them you’d expect to see on a list about great leadership, including doggedness and humility, but a few of them, like the willingness to push the limits of the rules and engage in conflict with the players and the coach, might surprise you. Throughout the conversation, Sam shares insights on how leaders from all fields can apply these lessons in the teams they play on and work with.
Get the full show notes at aom.is/captainclass.
Between 1991 and 1996, Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived with and filmed a pack of wolves in Idaho. From this intensive field work came the award-winning documentary, "Wolves at Our Door." The husband and wife team are out with a new book that highlights some of the things they learned on living a flourishing life from the wolf pack they were embedded within. It’s called "The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack."
Jim and Jamie share what wolves can teach us about family, respecting your elders, play, the importance of belonging to a group, leadership, and what it really means to be an alpha wolf. Tune in for a fascinating conversation on a fascinating creature that has much to teach us humans.
Get the full show notes at aom.is/wisdomofwolves.
Networking. You’re told it’s something you need to do to advance your professional life, but the tactics most “networking professionals” suggest either don’t work or make you feel icky and awkward.
My guest today argues that you don’t have to go to networking events or hand out business cards left and right to network effectively. You just need to realize you're already embedded in a really effective network right now.
His name is David Burkus. He’s a professor of leadership and the author of the book "Friend of a Friend: Understanding the Hidden Networks That Can Transform Your Life and Your Career." Today on the show, David shares what’s wrong with most traditional networking tactics and why they’re not really effective. We then dig into the power of the network you already belong to. David explains what dormant weak ties are, why it can be beneficial to silo yourself off from others, how to balance siloing with connecting, and how to turn work-friends into friend-friends and friend-friends into work-friends. Lots of great counterintuitive insights in this episode.
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.
#401: Everything You Need to Know About Diet & Fat Loss
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
Modern life has given us lots of conveniences. With a tap of your smartphone screen, and without leaving the house, you can order a car to your door or a hot dinner, or even replenish your toilet paper supply. Right now, you’re listening to this podcast how and when you want to. Yes, life is good in the 21st century.
But what if there’s such a thing as too much convenience? What if it's actually enslaving us in some strange way?
That’s what my guest today argues. His name is Tim Wu, he’s a professor of law at Columbia Law School and the author of several books, including "The Attention Merchants." Today on the show, Tim and I discuss the tyranny of convenience. We begin with a brief history of convenience, discussing how it became a driving force in the economy in the late 19th century and how Tim believes we’re at the beginning of a second convenience revolution. We then discuss how convenience can make us feel more free and unique, but actually limits our freedom and makes us like everyone else. Tim then shares ideas on how to inject some healthy inconvenience in your life for more happiness, freedom, and fulfillment.
Get the full show notes at aom.is/convenience.
#399: The Vast Influence of Testosterone on Our Bodies, Minds, and the World We Live In
Testosterone. It’s what makes men, well, men. But my guest today argues that this hormone is a paradox. On the one hand, it makes men physically strong, courageous, and ambitious. But on the other hand, testosterone can contribute to prostate cancer, heart disease, and asocial aggression.
My guests's name is Charles Ryan. He’s an oncologist that specializes in prostate cancer, and in his book, "The Virility Paradox," he walks readers through the upsides and the downsides of testosterone. We begin our conversation discussing testosterone’s role in prostate cancer and how Charles artificially lowers T levels in cancer patients to prevent its growth. Charles then walks us through how our exposure to testosterone in the womb has a huge role in how we respond to testosterone later in life. We then delve into the positives and negatives of T, including the way it decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s but increases your chances of balding and can even inspire asocial aggression. We end our conversation discussing whether TRT is the fountain of youth for older men or can turn young guys into beasts.
Get the full show notes at aom.is/virility
To hear a lot of guys tell it, real men don't care about style. Where did this idea that men don't care about their appearance come from, has it always been around, and is there validity to it?
My guest today argues against the idea that real men don't care about clothes and lays out a case for style being a valid part of masculinity. His name is Tanner Guzy. He's a stye coach and the author of "The Appearance of Power: How Masculinity Is Expressed Through Aesthetics."
Today Tanner and I discuss why caring about how you dress is typically thought of as effeminate, why men should think of clothes as an amoral tool, and how that tool can be a valuable means towards accomplishing your desired ends. Tanner argues that rather than focusing on the mechanics of style, men need to figure out their larger goal in dressing better first, including which of 3 style archetypes they fall into. We also discuss the relationship between style and status and how to balance dressing in line with the particular tribe you belong to, with dressing for the wider world.
Get the full show notes at aom.is/appearanceofpower
Recent surveys have shown that rates of anxiety are up, especially among young people. What’s going on? And if you’re someone of any age who struggles with anxiety, what can you do about it? Those are just a few of the questions I ask my guest today. His name is Kevin Ashworth and he’s the clinical director at the NW Anxiety Institute. Today on the show Kevin and I discuss the difference between regular worrying and anxiety disorders, the ill effects of anxiety, and its causes. Kevin then explains some of the different ways anxiety manifests itself in men and women and some of the theories out there as to why it's has been on the uptick. We end our conversation with research-backed ways to get handle on your anxious feelings.
In a world where some people have certain advantages that others do not, how do you navigate the landscape while still acting ethically? My guest today argues that we all need to put some more skin in the game.
His name is Nassim Taleb. If you read the AoM site, you’ve likely seen our articles about his antifragility concept. In his latest book, "Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life," he explores the ethics of living in a complex and uneven world. We begin our conversation discussing what Taleb means by skin in the game and how it’s similar to traditional notions of honor. Nassim then explains what he means by asymmetries, how people exploit them unethically, and how skin in the game can reduce that exploitation. Taleb then explains why ethics are hard to scale, why minorities end up ruling, and what it means to put not only skin, but soul in the game.
#394: The Incredible True Story of the Renegade WWII Pilots Who Helped Win the War in the Pacific
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
#393: The Importance of Building Your Social Capital
At some point all of us will likely experience a job loss or some other big life setback. While it can feel like your world is crashing down, there’s one asset you'll hopefully have at your disposal which can help you weather the storm: your social circle.
My guest today experienced the buoying power of relationships firsthand when he lost a job he held for over ten years. His name is Jordan Harbinger and we’ve had him on the podcast before. For 11 years he was the host of the Art of Charm Podcast, but recently found himself out of the host chair and without a job. But thanks to the social connections he’s built up over the past decade, Jordan was able to quickly get back on his feet and now has a new show.
Today on the podcast, Jordan shares what it's like to lose a job he held for a decade and what specific tactics he used to manage the roller coaster of emotions that come with that. We then dig into how his social circle was the key asset that helped him get back on his feet quickly and what you can do to start developing social capital today so it can buoy you up in a time of need.
Lots of actionable advice in this episode. You’ll want to take notes.
#391: Micronutrients, Genetics, and Preventing Age-Related Diseases
When you think about diet and nutrition, you probably think about carbs, proteins, and fats. These macronutrients play a huge role in athletic performance and whether you gain or lose weight. But food is also full of micronutrients that are vital for your health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, most people overlook micronutrients, and consequently are deficient in them. My guest today has spent her career researching the ill effects of micronutrient deficiencies and what you can do to optimize them. Her name is Dr. Rhonda Patrick and she’s a biomedical scientist. Today on the show, Rhonda and I discuss micronutrients: what they are, what they do, and why we’re not getting enough of them.
We then dig into her research into nutritional genomics, or how genes affect how your body processes nutrients. We end our conversation discussing how stressing yourself with cold exposure, heat exposure, and fasting can boost your health.
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.
We live in a time of hype and self-aggrandizement. But my guest today argues that what the world needs more of are quiet professionals -- people who’s only focus is to get the job done well. His name is Rob Shaul and he’s the founder and president of Mountain Tactical Institute. We had Rob on the podcast last year to discuss his physical fitness philosophy.
Today on the show, I talk to Rob about his philosophy towards work and life that he’s laid out in a series of essays on his site about what it means to be a quiet professional. We begin by unpacking the foundational definition of a quiet professional, and then Rob walks us through the traits and attributes he thinks one must develop to embody this ideal. Rob’s ideas are refreshingly understated in a culture that puts a premium on bombast.
Get the full show notes at aom.is/quietprofessional.com
#388: Why Group Culture Is So Important to Success
Have you ever been part of an organization where everyone and everything just seemed to click? People are motivated and things get done. Contrast that experience with being part of an organization that feels toxic. Demoralization, cynicism, and infighting emotionally drain the people who work within it, and dysfunction reigns.
Why do some organizations thrive and others flounder? My guest today argues that it all comes down to culture.
His name is Daniel Coyle and he’s the author of the book The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. Today on the show Dan and I discuss how cultures are formed and what the famous Christmas truce during WWI can teach us about culture formation. Dan then shares the factors that create positive group cultures, including action steps you can take to implement these elements in the organizations you lead or belong to. If you’re a leader in any capacity (this includes being a dad), you don’t want to miss this episode.
#387: Think Like a Poker Player to Make Better Decisions
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.
#386: The Rise and Fall of the American Heavyweight
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.
When you study for a test or you’re trying to learn a new skill, what’s your typical approach? If you’re like most people, you might repeat facts over and over again or do the same task over and over again until you can do it in your sleep.
While these brute force tactics might make you feel like you’re encoding new information into your brain, my guest today argues that you’re just fooling yourself. His name is Peter Brown, and he’s the co-author of the book Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Today on the show Peter and I discuss why typical approaches to studying might make it feel like you’re learning, but don’t actually work. We then delve into research-backed advice on how to really learn something and really retain it. Some of these insights are going to seem pretty counterintuitive. If you’re a student, someone who’s looking to become proficient in a new skill, or just dedicated to the idea of lifelong learning, this episode is packed with actionable advice.
When you hear self-reliance, what do you think of? Living off the grid in a cabin somewhere? Doing everything yourself, and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps?
Do these images get at what it really means to be self-reliant, or is there a deeper and even more profound meaning to be grasped?
Indeed there is, and my guest today is here to help us unpack it. His name is Kyle Eschenroeder. He’s a regular contributor at AoM and we’ve just published a little pocket guide filled with his meditations on what it truly means to be self-reliant. Today on the show, Kyle and I discuss what most people get wrong about self-reliance and how he defines it. We then get into specific tactics you can use to trust yourself more like spending time in solitude, developing an inner scorecard, not seeking advice when you’re first starting a big project, and using intentional introspection. Kyle and I then discuss how to jive self-reliance with belonging to a community and how to know if you’re becoming a self-reliant man. Developing a self-reliant mindset is more difficult than ever in our modern world, and yet vital to living a satisfying life on your own terms; you don't want to miss this show.
In the past few years, there’s been a lot written about the ills of the “masks of masculinity.” These supposed social masks are the source of personal problems in the lives of men as well as countless societal problems.
But what if the problem isn’t the masks of masculinity themselves? What if the problem is we don’t teach young men how to wear these masks in a way that’s productive and pro-social?
That’s what my guest today suggests. He makes his living teaching actors how to put on the mask of the masculine soldier. His name is Dale Dye, and he’s a retired Marine captain who served in Vietnam, and he's the owner of Warriors, Inc., a company that consults actors and filmmakers on how to make war movies more realistic. Today on the show, Dale and I discuss how he went from a career in the military to a career in film and what many filmmakers get wrong about war. Using war historian John Keegan’s book "The Mask of Command" as a starting point, Dale and I discuss why social masks are necessary in leadership, war, and even being a man. Dale share his insights about the masks of masculinity from years of teaching actors how to be soldiers, why it’s important to have multiple masks in your arsenal, and knowing when to put them on in different situations.
Get the show notes at aom.is/daledye.
How long can a human run without stopping? What’s the most weight a human can deadlift? Will someone ever run a mile in less than three minutes and thirty seconds?
My guest explores these questions in his latest book, and along the way uncovers insights into all the factors that go into pushing the limits of human athletic performance. His name is Alex Hutchinson and he’s the author of "Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance."
Today on the show, Alex and I discuss the history of the science of human performance and the three competing theories about how to measure and improve it. Alex first explains the interplay between physiology and psychology when it comes to humans pushing themselves. We then spend the rest of the conversation discussing factors that have an influence on our performance including pain, thirst, muscle strength, diet, and mental fatigue. Alex finally shares insights from the latest research on how you can manipulate these factors to run faster and longer and lift heavier weights.
Get the show notes at aom.is/endure.
If you’re a parent, you likely want your kid to flourish and succeed. And according to my guest today, the best way to do that is to let your kid fail.
Her name is Jessica Lahey and she’s a teacher and the author of the book, "The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed." Today on the show, Jess gives us a quick overview of the history of parenting in America and why it’s gotten more protective and more involved in the past few decades. We then discuss the many downsides of helicopter parenting and why letting your kids fail is so important for their long-term development. Jessica then gets into the nitty gritty of areas where you should let your kid experience failure and how to make sure these failures become learning experiences.
Get the show notes at aom.is/giftoffailure
For thousands of years, philosophers and writers have debated the nature of courage. What is it? Are some people born more courageous than others? Can you learn to be courageous?
My guest today set out to answer these questions by looking at courage through a scientific lens. His name is Robert Biswas-Diener. He’s a psychologist and the author of "The Courage Quotient: How Science Can Make You Braver."
Today on the show, Robert explains how he defined courage for the purpose of his research and how he went about studying and quantifying this quality. He then explains how courage manifests itself differently in cultures of dignity, honor, and face. We then discuss the genetics of courage and how people can learn to be more courageous. Robert than gives brass tacks advice on what you can do to manage fear and increase your propensity to action, including carrying lucky charms, thinking about yourself less, and avoiding self-handicapping.
Get the show notes at aom.is/couragequotient.
According to my guest today, the past decade has seen the rise of a truly soul-sucking food trend. In fact, he argues it’s creating a hell on earth.
What is this mealtime monster?
My guest's name is Brendan Newnam and he, along with his co-author Rico Gagliano, is on a mission to destroy brunch and bring back the dinner party.
Brendan and I begin our conversation discussing why brunch has become big business in America, but why he thinks it’s terrible for us individually and also as a society. We then dig into why we should bring back the dinner party as the preferred mealtime social event. Brendan explains why hosting a dinner party is pretty dang manly and why dinner parties are so much better than brunch. He then gets into the nitty gritty of hosting a dinner party, including the optimal day to schedule one, the best way to invite people, and who to invite. Brendan shares why the food isn’t the most important thing at a dinner party, while also providing some easy entree options that people will love. We end our conversation discussing how to handle small talk and controversial discussion topics, why the party is just getting started after the food has been eaten, and how to give people the hint they need to leave if they're staying too long.
After listening to this show, you’ll be jonesing to host a dinner party of your own.
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.
#376: When to Compete, When to Cooperate, and How to Succeed at Both
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.
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.
You may have heard of Roger Bannister and his amazing feat of breaking the 4-minute mile mark in 1954. But the story leading up to this milestone of human performance often gets overlooked and is filled with drama and lessons on grit, determination, and a living a balanced life.
My guest today wrote a book sharing the story behind Bannister’s record and the two other men who were also vying to break it. His name is Neal Bascomb and his book is "The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less than Four Minutes to Achieve It." We begin our discussion talking about the lead up to the race in which the 4-minute-mile barrier was broken and how many doctors in the early 20th century believed achieving this milestone was physiologically impossible. Neal then tells us about the lives of the three men racing to be the first to run a sub-4-minute mile, and shares insights from them on the way the ethos of sports has changed as it's transformed from an amateur pursuit to a professional job, as well as the ability of people to push the limits of the human body by sheer mental will.
It’s been said “Leaders are readers.” But what should a leader read?
My guest today set out to answer that question by polling 4-star generals and admirals in the U.S. military to get their best recommendations.
His name is Admiral James Stavridis. He's served as the commander of US Southern Command, US European Command, and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe. He now serves as dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. In his book, "The Leader’s Bookshelf," Admiral Stavridis explains why reading is fundamental for all leaders and provides a list of 50 books suggested by senior officers.
We begin our conversation by discussing the culture of reading amongst military officers past and present, including Generals James Mattis and George Patton. Admiral Stavridis then shares tips on how to read more even with a busy schedule and how to get more out of your reading. We then dig into the list of 50 books military brass recommend most and the lessons on leadership they provide.
You’re going to be adding a lot of books to your reading list after listening to this podcast.
#372: World Without Mind — The Existential Threat of Big Tech
During the past decade three companies have revolutionized the way we shop, socialize, and find information. I’m talking, of course, about Amazon, Facebook, and Google. While these companies have made our lives easier in many ways, my guest today argues that they’re also eroding autonomy and individuality. His name is Franklin Foer and he’s the author of the book, "World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech." Today on the show, Franklin talks about how the utopian ideals of Silicon Valley have led to an internet that is becoming more and more homogenized and centralized. We then dig into how the vast amounts of personal information these companies have about us can be used to manipulate us. Franklin then argues that while these companies make us feel more autonomous, they’re actually diminishing our choices and reducing our individuality. We end our conversation discussing ideas on what you can do to maintain your sense of autonomy in today’s atmosphere.
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.
#369: When — The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
When it comes to planning for success, we tend to focus on the what and the how. For example, when we set our workout goals, we’ll come up with detailed plans on what exercises we’ll do; when we come up with a debt repayment plan, we decide exactly how we’re going to pay down the debt.
But what if success in any endeavor isn’t only decided by the what or the how, but also the when?
That’s what my guest today argues in his latest book. His name is Daniel Pink, he’s the author of "Drive," "A Whole New Mind," and "To Sell is Human." In his latest book, "When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing," he takes a look at how timing can affect everything from the way we make decisions to how creative we are, and even if a group will be successful in a shared task.
Daniel and I discuss how to use your internal clock to your advantage, why you shouldn’t get surgery done at 3PM in the afternoon, if there's really such a thing as night owls, and why you should find more opportunities to sing in a group.
This is a fascinating discussion that will provide plenty of cocktail party fodder, but more importantly, actionable points you can put into practice today to make yourself more effective.
#368: The Courage and Resilience of Ulysses S. Grant
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.
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.
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.
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.
#365: Why Are 7 Million Men Missing From the Workforce?
For the past few decades, there’s been an intense focus on getting more women in the workplace and helping them thrive and succeed. At the same time, however, a silent problem has emerged that could have serious repercussions on our economy and society: more and more men have been dropping out of the workforce.
My guest today is an economist with the American Enterprise Institute who has written a book highlighting what he calls an “invisible crisis.” His name is Nicholas Eberstadt and his book is "Men Without Work." Today on the show, Nicholas delves into the research that shows that while unemployment is down, the number of men actually working or looking for work is lower than a generation ago. We then delve into some of the possible causes of the disappearance of men from the workforce, what these non-working men are doing while they’re not working, and how they’re supporting themselves without a job. Nicholas then discusses the possible economic and societal problems that this growing number of non-working men create, and what we can do on a micro and macro level to encourage men to be self-reliant and industrious.
If you find yourself running out of money before your next paycheck or if you’ve been having trouble making a dent in your debt, then you, my friend, need a budget.
My guest today is Jesse Mecham, he’s the creator of the You Need a Budget system and software and he’s just written a book about the philosophy underpinning his system. It’s called "You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want." Today on the show, Jesse tells us the personal story behind his software, why most people fail at budgets, and the myths people have about budgeting. He then walks us through the four rules of the You Need a Budget system, as well as actionable advice on how to implement them. Whether your goal is to pay off your debt or to simply get some control over your finances, this episode is for you.
#361: The Untold Story of WWII's 45th Infantry Division
When many people think of the American involvement in WWII, they likely bring to mind the 101st Airborne Division (aka the Band of Brothers) and their heroics at Normandy. But there was another American infantry division that took part in the largest amphibious assault in world history (no, it wasn’t D-Day) and then fought a year in Europe before the 101st even showed up. All in all, this division saw over 500 days of combat. They were the Thunderbirds of the 45th infantry division and my guest today was written a captivating history of this oft forgotten group of soldiers.
His name is Alex Kershaw and he’s written several books on WWII. The book we discuss today is "The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau." Alex begins by sharing what made the 45th different from other infantry divisions and discusses why they’re often forgotten. He then talks to us about a colonel from Arizona named Felix Sparks who always led from the front and fought side by side with his men for over two years. We get into some of the major battles the 45th encountered and their liberation of the concentration camp at Dachau. Alex ends our conversation with a call to all of us reach out to a WWII vet before they all leave this life (which is not far off).
#360: Why Men Have a Hard Time Making Friends in Adulthood
It’s a common trope that adult men don’t value friendship as much as their female counterparts, and that men really don’t need and want friends like women do. But my guest today argues that assumption is wrong and comes from viewing friendship from a strictly female point of view. In fact, based on his research, most adult men very much want good friends but just don’t know how to make them. What’s more, he says, male friendships look different from female ones and we should stop judging the quality of male friendships based on how women do relationships.
My guest's name is Geoffrey Greif, and he’s a sociologist and author of the book "Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships."
Today on the show, Geoffrey shares the common myths about male friendships, the benefits men get from having friends, and how male friendships are different from female friendships. He then discusses the four types of friends a man will have in his life, how friendship changes as men age, and how fathers have a huge influence on whether their sons will have friends as adults. Geoffrey then shares his research on how couples navigate friendships together and why some brothers are best friends, while others don't talk to each other for years.
#359: Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best of the Best
Do you sometimes wish you had a cabinet of counselors you could go to for advice and insight on how to make life better and easier for yourself?
Well, my guest today created his own board of mighty mentors — a metaphorical round table of some of the most successful people in the world — and asked them all the same 11 questions on how to live a more fulfilling and productive life. And he wrote a book to share all the insights he learned with others.
His name is Tim Ferriss, and he's an author and the host of the Tim Ferriss Podcast. In his latest book, "Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice From the Best in the World," Tim shares the answers he got to the 11 questions he posed to a diverse range of successful people like Steven Pressfield, Jocko Willink, Bear Grylls, and Greg Norman, among many others. In today’s episode, Tim shares insights from the people he interviewed on how to say no without feeling guilty or looking like a jerk, the books successful people frequently gift others, and what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed, distracted, and just generally down.
#358: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
Have you ever just wanted to get in your car, drive off into the middle of nowhere, leave behind the hustle and bustle of civilization, and just be by yourself?
Well, in 1986 a man named Christopher Knight did just that and lived alone in the Maine woods without any, any human contact for 27 years until he was discovered in 2013.
My guest today wrote a biography — "The Stranger in the Woods" — about this man who locals called “the Hermit of the North Pond.” His name is Michael Finkel and today on the show we discuss how Chris survived alone in the Maine woods by himself, but more importantly, why Chris wanted to be by himself for so long. By looking at the life of one of the modern world's last true hermits, Michael and I explore the idea of hermitage, solitude, and why being an individual requires you to be alone.
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.
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!
#354: Brains & Brawn — Tips and Inspiration on Being a Well-Rounded Man
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.
Picture this: You’re sitting in your car at a stoplight mindlessly staring off into the distance when a memory from your childhood pops into your mind. Initially, thinking about the memory makes you feel happy, but then you start feeling a pang of sadness for that time long gone. If you’ve experienced that feeling of happiness tinged with sadness, you’ve experienced nostalgia.
My guest today is a psychologist who has spent his career researching this oft-overlooked emotion. His name Clay Routledge and he’s a professor of psychology at North Dakota State University, and author of "Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource." Today on the show, Clay takes us deep into the psychology of nostalgia. We begin by discussing what exactly nostalgia is, what it feels like, and what induces nostalgic feelings. Clay then delves into the benefits of nostalgia, such as alleviating depression and loneliness and providing meaning in your life. We then get into the downsides of nostalgia and how to avoid them. We end our conversation discussing why we feel nostalgic for time periods we didn’t even experience ourselves and the possible benefits of that type of nostalgia.
After this show, you’ll be wanting to bust out old photo albums to take a trip down memory lane.
While meat makes up a big portion of Americans' diet, few people know very much about how meat is sourced and butchered for consumption. Today on the show, I talk to a world-renowned third-generation butcher, Pat LaFrieda, about all things meat, including his new book, "Meat: Everything You Need to Know." We begin our conversation talking about his family business in New York City and how it became one of the premier meatpackers in America. Pat then walks us through how that steak you’re grilling got there and all the factors that determine the price of meat.
We then shift from the macro to the micro of meat by discussing the tools Pat recommends every backyard chef should own, how to tell if meat is bad, and what dry aging does to beef. He then shares what his favorite cuts of beef, lamb, and pork are, how to cook them, and why he thinks you should be leery when a restaurant boasts about their delicious sirloin steaks.
#351: The Surprising Power of a "Useless" Liberal Arts Education
We’ve all heard the jokes about useless liberal arts degrees, but my guest today argues that in today’s high tech economy, liberal arts degrees can be incredibly useful and even lucrative. His name is George Anders and he’s the author of the book "You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a 'Useless' Liberal Arts Education." We begin our conversation looking at research that suggests that the jobs that pay the most money and are in the most demand today require a liberal arts background, and not necessarily a STEM degree. He then goes on to highlight research that shows how most of the jobs being created today aren’t in computer programming or engineering, but rather in jobs that support those fields like sales, management, and consulting. George then argues that individuals with a liberal arts background are in a killer position to fill those jobs.
We then discuss the perils of liberal arts degrees and what individuals who've earned them can do to market themselves and take control of their careers.
#350: Peak Performance — Elevate Your Game and Avoid Burnout
When you train your body, you actually don’t get stronger while you’re lifting weights. You get stronger after your training session and during your recovery period. For your muscles to fully adapt and recover, you need to eat plenty of food and get plenty of sleep. To really get strong, you need to take your recovery as serious as you take your training.
What's true for the body, is true for the mind as well. At least that’s what my guests today argue. Their names are Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness and they’re the co-authors of the book "Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive With the New Science of Success."
Today on the show, Brad and Steve share how their respective backgrounds in elite running and business consulting taught them the importance of rest and recovery from brain work. We begin our discussion on how the American ethos of 24/7 grind and hustle actually hinders performance in school and work. We then dig into the science of burnout: what it is, how it feels, and why it happens. Brad and Steve then share how you can start incorporating “recovery” periods into your intellectual life that will allow your psyche to get stronger and more resilient.
If you’ve been feeling burnout from work or school or if you simply want to perform better, this episode is for you.
#349: Is This a Date or Not? The Problem With Ambiguity in Relationships
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.
#348: A Counterintelligence Expert's Five Rules to Lead and Succeed
Trust. It certainly makes life easier when it exists. Instead of having to craft complicated contracts for a business deal, a simple handshake will do. Instead of surveilling your spouse like the NSA, you take them at their word.
But trust, it seems, is in short supply these days. We’re afraid of trusting people and we have a hard time getting people to trust us. How can you establish trust in even the most toxic environments?
My guest today thinks he has the answer to that question. His name is Robin Dreeke, and he's spent his career working in a field where trust is hard to get but important to have — doing counterintelligence for the FBI. Robin’s recently published a book sharing how he has been able to gain the trust of people who aren’t very keen on trusting others. It’s called "The Code of Trust."
Today on the show, Robin shares the five rules of building trust with anyone — no matter how suspicious they are of you. While these rules may seem like they’re an invitation to become a human doormat, Robin explains why that’s not the case, and how they actually make you more influential.
Whether you’re working with spies, like Robin, or just want to build more trust in your office or relationships, you’re going to find plenty of interesting and actionable advice in this podcast.
You’ve likely experienced an awkward moment or two in your life. You say or do something that’s out of social sync, leaving the person you’re interacting with bemused, and you feeling like running and hiding under a rock.
While awkwardness is an uncomfortable feeling and can hurt us socially, my guest today argues that there is some upside to it too. His name is Ty Tashiro. He’s a psychologist and the author of "Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome." Today on the show Ty highlights his research on awkwardness. He explains what exactly we feel when we feel awkward and what triggers the feeling. He then digs into why some people are more awkward than others and the detriments that come with being socially awkward. Ty then shares things chronically awkward people can do to be less so, like developing social algorithms and studying manners. We end our conversation discussing the upsides of awkwardness and how to balance it with the downsides.
If you struggle with awkwardness or know someone who does, this episode will provide you a lot of actionable advice and insights on both embracing and mitigating your social propensities.
There’s been a lot written and said about the fall of the Roman Empire. But what often gets overlooked is that before Rome became an empire with what was effectively a king, it was a kingless republic. What was that republic like and why did it fall into an empire, before the empire itself fell?
My guest today explores this question in his book, "The Storm Before the Storm." His name is Mike Duncan and he’s the host of the Revolutions and the History of Rome podcasts. Today on the show, Mike walks us through the formation of the Roman Republic and why it was so unique amongst ancient governments. He then explains the unwritten code of behavior that governed Romans and how it enabled the Republic to last for nearly 500 years. Mike then walks us through how the breakdown of that code led to the breakdown of the Republic, and how reformers seeking to take Rome back to its good ol’ days only sped up its fall. We then discuss if we can see any similarities between Rome’s republic and America.
This is a fascinating episode on an oft-overlooked part of Roman history.
#345: Not Caring What Other People Think Is a Superpower
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.
If you’re looking to pay down debt or save for a financial goal faster, there are two ways to to do it: either save more money or make more money. Let’s assume you’re knocking it out of the park with your frugality. How can you make more money? Well, one way is starting a side hustle. Besides providing you with extra income, my guest today argues that having a small business on the side can actually bring a lot more satisfaction and confidence to your life. His name is Chris Guillebeau and I've had him on the podcast before to discuss his book "Born for This."
Today on the show Chris and I discuss his latest book, "Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days." Chris and I begin our conversation talking about why every man should have a side hustle — including those who are already very happy with their day jobs. Chris then walks us through the process of starting a side hustle from ideation to business formation to marketing. Along the way Chris busts some myths that people have about starting a business and provides examples of folks who have added $1,000 to $20,000 a month to their income with a business they work on in their free time.
#343: How to Read Nature — Awakening Your Senses to the Outdoors
Nature. Even if you're an avid outdoorsman, you likely take it for granted. When you’ve seen one tree or one blue sky, you’ve seen them all, right?
Well, to those with well-trained senses, natural surroundings can actually tell you a whole lot. The leaves on a tree can tell you what direction you're headed and the smell in the air can tell you about the weather. There are bits of knowledge and fascinating signposts all around you. My guest today has spent his life observing and cataloging these small details in nature and uses them to deftly navigate the wild without a map and compass. His name is Tristan Gooley and he’s the author of several books, including "How to Read Nature."
Today on the show, Tristan tells us how he got started with natural navigation and how he’s having to rediscover what was once common knowledge to our ancestors. We then dig into specific ways you can use nature to navigate or even know if there’s a storm coming soon. After listening to this show, you’ll never look at trees the same way again. I guarantee it.
In the age where smartphones provide constant stimulation, many of us have forgotten what it feels like to experience the monotony of boredom. And while on the surface that might seem like a good thing, my guest today highlights research that not being bored can actually make us dumber and less creative.
Her name is Manoush Zomorodi, she’s the host of the podcast Note to Self and the author of the book "Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self." Today on the show, Manoush shares her experience of how feeling scattered and less creative led her to create an experiment that tested whether her lack of boredom in recent years was to blame. We then dig into the philosophy of boredom and why we dread it so much. Manoush then goes into what the latest research says about the benefits of boredom, like increased creativity, better productivity, and improved mental well-being. Finally, she walks us through some exercises you can use to help inject more boredom in your life. (Yes, you read that right.)
When it comes to self-improvement, most people set big, audacious goals. Setting those goals feels good. It pumps you up and you feel like you can conquer the world. But then . . . it happens. You have a setback and within a matter of days, your fiery ambition to change yourself is extinguished. And so you’re back to where you started, only you're even worse off than before because you're saddled with the sting of failure.
But what if I said there’s a much more effective way to improve yourself and it just requires getting 1% better each day? It's called the Kaizen method. It sounds like a mystical Japanese philosophy passed down by wise, bearded sages who lived in secret caves, but it actually has a surprisingly American and modern origin. My guest today has written a book about this philosophy of small, continuous improvement used by Japanese carmakers for over 60 years. His name is Robert Maurer and his book is "One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way."
Today on the show, Robert explains the American roots of this Japanese manufacturing process and how the Japanese re-introduced it to America in the 1970s. He then digs into the psychology of why the Kaizen method of improvement works so well not just for organizations but for individuals. We end our conversation with the practical ways you can incorporate Kaizen in your own life.
Inside many men is the call for adventure. My guest today is one of those men and listening to that call has led him to pursue a lifetime of amazing expeditions around the globe, all while balancing a demanding career as an airline pilot as well as family responsibilities. His name is Laval St. Germain and today he shares when he first heard the call for adventure on his grandparent’s farm in western Canada and how he started taking action on it.
We then go through some of the adventures he’s been on, including being the first Canadian to summit Mt. Everest without oxygen, dodging landmines while climbing the highest mountain in Iraq, and rowing across the Atlantic Ocean by himself.
Laval then shares how he tragically lost his son in a canoeing accident and how the habit of making checklists that he developed as a pilot helped him lead his family through the grieving process. We dig deeper into how Laval uses checklists as a pilot, adventurer, and family man. And we end our conversation talking about how regular joes can go on the kinds of adventures Laval regularly undertakes without breaking the bank and while still attending to their families and careers.
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.
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.
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.
#335: Exploring Archetypes With Jordan B. Peterson
The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Genesis creation story, Bhagavad Gita. These are just a few examples of the myths and stories that explain human existence. Individuals like Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell have argued that while these myths sprang from different cultures, they all share similar archetypes and meta-narratives. My guest today has picked up where Jung and Campbell left off and is making an impassioned case that the way to save ourselves from increasing political polarization is to become acquainted with these ancient human myths once again.
His name is Jordan B. Peterson and he’s a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto. But unlike many clinical psychologists, Dr. Peterson has spent his career studying human myths and how they can provide meaning in a world of tragedy and frustration. Today on the show, Jordan provides an introduction to the world of myths and archetypes. We begin our discussion talking about some of the big archetypes we see over and over again in stories across cultures and time, and why they show up everywhere.
We then discuss feminine and masculine archetypes in detail, how the hero archetype is the link between the two, and examples of the hero archetype from around the world. Jordan argues that disregarding or ignoring these ancient myths led to the rise of extreme political ideologies in the early 20th century, as well as their resurgence today. We end our conversation discussing how these myths can help young men journey into noble manhood, and the books Jordan recommends young men read to learn more about them.
While the subject may seem heady, this is an accessible and fun conversation, filled with insights about how to live a flourishing, meaningful life. You’ll definitely be thinking about its ideas after the show is over.
We’re often told violence is never the answer. My guest today would argue that not only is that idea wrong, it's also extremely dangerous. He says that sometimes violence is the answer, and that when it is, it’s the only answer.
His name is Tim Larkin and he’s a self-defense expert and the founder of Target Focus Training. Tim has trained military, law enforcement, and civilians on how to use violence to protect themselves. In his latest book, "When Violence Is the Answer," Tim makes a convincing case that civilians need to change their mindset about violence if they want to protect themselves and their family.
Today on the show, Tim and I discuss what he means by violence and why it's often the only possible response to violence. He then goes into detail about the difference between antisocial aggression and asocial violence and how to respond to both. We then discuss why good people should study criminals on how to use violence more effectively. We end our conversation by exploring how knowing how to kill and maim people can counterintuitively make you a more peaceful and gentle man.
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.
We live in a world that puts a premium on being “authentic” and “showing your true self.”
But what exactly is your authentic and true self?
For example, is it your natural tendency to be a curmudgeon, or your concerted effort to be kind and generous?
Which one is the “real” you?
My guest today has grappled with those questions for most of his career as a psychologist, with a focus on personality research. His name is Brian Little and he’s the author of "Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being," as well as the recently published book, "Who Are You, Really?"
Today on the show, Brian and I have a fascinating discussion on the world of personality science that will leave you wondering who you really are. We begin our conversation discussing the various factors that influence our personalities, including genetics, social environments, and self-direction. Brian then digs into the debate on whether our personalities are set in stone or if they can change, even into old age. We then discuss whether personality tests, like the Myers-Briggs, actually tell you anything about your personality, and if there are better assessments out there.
We end our conversation discussing how simply changing environments can change our personalities, how we can willfully change them ourselves, and what the “real” you actually is.
You're in for an enlightening existential conversation that also provides actionable insights on how you can live a more flourishing life.
#331: The Difference Between Essentialists and Non-Essentialists
Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you feel like you're always busy but not productive? Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?
If you can answer yes to any of those questions, today's episode is for you. I talk to business consultant Greg McKeown about his book "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less." In it, Greg argues that by doing less we can actually not only be more productive, but, more importantly, get more of the right things done in life.
We begin our conversation talking about the differences between an essentialist and a non-essentialist, and why essentialists look at every decision with a 100-year view. Greg then shares how you can apply essentialist principles to your work so that you can convince your boss that maybe some of the stuff you’re working on isn’t that important. We then discuss why taking time for play, sleeping, or doing absolutely nothing can sometimes be the most productive thing you can do. Greg then shares tips on how to say no to people without feeling like a jerk and why adding buffer to your life is an important part of being an essentialist.
This podcast is filled with both brass tacks advice and deep insights about living a flourishing life. You’re going to want to take notes.
What skills and knowledge sets does a man need to have in order to be effective and self-reliant? My guest has spent the past few years thinking about this topic and putting down his ideas in a series of books he calls Modules For Manhood. His name is Kenneth W. Royce. I had Kenneth on the show a few years ago to talk about the first volume of Modules for Manhood. Today on the show, we take a look at "Modules for Manhood Volume 2."
We begin by discussing what it means “to cope with the world” and why many young men today aren’t equipped to do so. Kenneth then shares some strategies on how you can find the time and money to learn new skills. Next we dig into some of the specific skills he highlights in his book, including how to teach, managing your time, and how to become a leader by learning to be a good follower. We end our conversation talking about problem solving and why every man should get his pilot’s license.
This episode is a hodgepodge of insights on becoming a well-rounded man, from a man who has spent his life trying to become well-rounded himself.
#329: Stick With It — The Science of Behavior Change
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably got some habits you’d like to change: maybe you want to quit smoking or eat better or check your phone less. And if you’re like most people, you’ve probably tried making those changes, and failed. And after failing again and again, you just gave up.
My guest today is a psychologist who specializes in helping people make real, lasting change in their lives. His name is Sean Young and he’s the director of the UCLA Center of Digital Behavior and the author of the book "Stick with It: A Scientifically Proven Process For Changing Your Life—for Good." Today on the show, Sean explains why most of our approaches to personal change fail, and the scientifically proven process he and his team have developed to help people make lasting change. Sean shares several tactics that — when used in combination — can help you finally make those changes you’ve long desired.
We discuss why creating small wins is important in habit change and what we can learn from cults on how to effectively change ourselves. We then discuss how we can alter our environment to facilitate transformation, as well as “neurohacks” that can shortcut the brain’s hardwired instincts. At the end, Sean ties all these concepts together to provide listeners with a roadmap to finally sticking with a habit change.
During the past 10 years or so there’s been a lot of chatter about the health benefits of intermittent fasting — that is, going without food for a short window of time on a regular basis. Some of the touted benefits of intermittent fasting include shredding body fat while maintaining muscle, improving blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, increasing longevity, and improving focus. But how many of those purported benefits are real and how many of them are just hype?
Well, my guest today is a nutrition scientist who has spent the past several years researching and experimenting with intermittent fasting to find out the answers to those questions. His name is John Berardi and he’s the co-owner of Precision Nutrition, an online nutrition coaching company. John has written a free ebook that highlights all the latest research on intermittent fasting as well as his personal experiments with several different IF protocols. Today on the show John cuts through the hype of intermittent fasting and gives us a nuanced look at the benefits and downsides of this diet method. If you’ve been thinking about trying intermittent fasting, you don’t want to miss this show. John breaks down exactly who should use IF and who shouldn’t, and what kinds of results to expect when you fast.
Camping is one of America’s favorite pastimes. About 50 million Americans head out into the wilderness each year to refresh and reinvigorate themselves.
While it may seem like camping as a recreational activity has always been around, camping as we know it today is actually relatively new. For most of human history, camping is what you did during war or on a hunting or fishing expedition. It wasn’t something you just did for fun in and of itself. So how did camping become a modern pastime?
My guest today explores the answer to this question in his latest book. His name is Terence Young and he's the author of "Heading Out: A History of American Camping." Terry and I begin the show discussing how camping got its start as an anti-modern revolt after the Civil War, and the New England minister who wrote a book that would kickstart the camping craze in America in the 19th century. Terry then shares how businesses responded to the growing number of campers in America by creating and marketing products and goods to make camping easier, and how these products began a debate about which sort of camper is the most authentic camper — a debate which remains today. We end our conversation talking about the rituals of camping, why all campsites in America look exactly the same, and the state of camping today.
This is a great episode to listen to on your way to a weekend camp trip, or when you're dreaming of your next outing on the way to work.
#326: Why Boys Are Struggling & What We Can Do To Help Them
While there’s been a big push in recent decades to help girls thrive in school and in the workplace, boys in America have quietly been struggling. For example, boys are more likely to have learning and discipline issues in school and are less likely to graduate high school than girls, more women are now attending college than men and are earning more bachelors and masters degrees than men, the incarceration rate for boys has increased in the past few decades, and suicide rates have increased among teenage boys. What’s more, teachers and therapists have reported that boys seem increasingly disengaged from school and life.
If boys are having so much trouble, why don’t we hear more about it? And more importantly, what can we do as parents, teachers, and mentors to help them?
My guest today has spent his career researching childhood development and helping boys become fulfilled men. His name is Michael Gurian, and in his latest book, "Saving Our Sons: A New Path for Raising Healthy and Resilient Boys," he provides insights on why America’s boy problem is ignored, as well as concrete steps that parents and mentors can take to help these young men grow up well.
Today on the show, Michael explains what the "Dominant Gender Paradigm" is and why it causes institutions to ignore the problems of boys and young men, what people get wrong about male violence, and what male anhedonia is. He then argues that if we want to help boys (and girls) we need to approach things from what he calls a "Nature Based Theory," which recognizes that while boys and girls have a lot in common, there are biological differences that influence the way boys learn, socialize, and behave. Michael then provides concrete things parents and schools can do to cater to these differences in boys to help them thrive and become resilient men.
If you’re the parent of boy or if you teach or mentor young boys, you don’t want to miss this episode.
When we think of being a good leader, we often think we need to be a bold, visionary, risk-taking type like Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, or Steve Jobs.
But my guest today argues that most of the day-to-day work that makes the world function is done by individuals who stand outside the limelight and lead with calm confidence. His name is Joseph Badaracco and he’s the author of the book "Leading Quietly: An Unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing." Today on the show, Joe and I discuss the heroic archetype of leadership, why most leadership development books and courses focus on it, and why heroic leadership can actually get in the way of an organization’s success. He then shares the qualities of a quiet leader and why they’re often more effective than heroic leaders at getting things done in an organization. We end our conversation by exploring the Aristotelian approach to leadership that most quiet leaders utilize and how you can start using those same principles today in your work, community, and family.
#324: How Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith Are the Cure for Sad Clown Syndrome
If you’re like many modern men, you might have a pretty good life — a decent job, a family, a home, maybe a few hobbies. Despite having the appearance of a good life, though, you feel kind of empty inside. Like you’re missing something.
My guests today would argue that what you’ve got is a case of Sad Clown Syndrome and to get over it, you need to get together with some men and do some burpees.
Their names are Dave Redding and Tim Whitmire and they’re the leaders of a grassroots movement bringing men together for free workouts called F3, which stands for Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith. According to them, they’ve seen tens of thousands of men not only get physically in shape by attending F3 workouts, but reenergize themselves mentally and spiritually.
Today on the show, Dave and Tim share the origins of F3 and how they realized it was solving the problem of Sad Clown Syndrome in the lives of American men. They then detail what the symptoms of Sad Clown Syndrome are, and how exactly F3 acts as a remedy. We then discuss why male friends are so important in a man’s life and why the typical guys that men call friends aren’t really friends. We end our conversation by discussing what the 3 Fs in F3 mean, including why the “Faith” component is more about having a purpose beyond yourself and less about religion.
Take a breath right now.
Did your chest go up and down?
Congratulations, you just failed at breathing.
Don’t worry, my guest today on the show will set you straight.
Her name is Belisa Vranich. She’s a clinical psychologist who has made a career re-training people on how to breathe correctly and in her latest book, "Breathe," she provides a step-by-step program to help people breathe better.
Today on the show, Belisa explains all the ill health and psychological effects of poor breathing, like increased stress, poor sleep, poor mental function, and even poor digestion, as well as why so many people mess up this seemingly simple and automatic bodily process.
She then walks listeners through how to take a proper breath and even shares some exercises you can do to train yourself to breathe better and improve your all-around health.
This is an extremely practical podcast, and you’re going to feel great after you do the breathing exercises Belisa lays out.
#322: Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong
My guest today is Eric Barker, author of "Barking Up the Wrong Tree."
We all know those collective maxims on success: nice guys finish last; it’s not what you know, it’s who you know; winners never quit.
We’ve heard them so often that we accept them as articles of faith.
But are they really true?
My guest today says, yes…and no.
His name is Eric Barker and he’s the author of one of the few blogs I regularly read: Barking Up the Wrong Tree. There, he takes a look at what actual research says about these tried-and-true maxims of success and provides a nuanced, often counterintuitive look at them. He’s recently taken some of his best writing from 8 years at the blog, expanded on it, and turned it into a book by the same name.
Today on the show, Eric and I discuss why most of the ideas we have about success are wrong and what we can do to be better advice sleuths. Eric shares research that shows why high school valedictorians are less likely to become millionaires or influential leaders, and what that teaches us on the importance of knowing ourselves. He then breaks down the idea that nice guys always finish last, and how it’s both true and false at the same time. We then discuss why grit can sometimes be overrated and why winners in fact always quit. We end our conversation discussing why being a glad-handing extrovert can both garner success and sew the seeds of failure, and how the idea of work/life balance is making people more miserable than ever, as well as what you can do about it.
Lots of fascinating tidbits in this show that you can implement right away to improve your life. Plenty of great cocktail party fodder as well.
Personal finance can seem intimidating, but the reality is it’s pretty basic — save more than you spend, find ways to earn more, invest for the long-term, and protect your assets. But if personal finance is so easy, why do so many people screw it up?
My guest today has spent his career exploring this topic. His name is Jonathan Clements and he’s been The Wall Street Journal’s personal finance columnist for years. During his writing career, he’s also published several popular personal finance books including "The Little Book of Main Street Money." In his latest book, "How to Think About Money," Jonathan distills decades of personal finance experience into punchy, insightful, and action-oriented advice.
Today on the show, Jonathan and I discuss the most common money mistakes people make and the psychological biases that cause us to make them. Jonathan then shares research-backed advice on how money can buy you happiness…and also misery. Just depends on how you use it. He then delves into brass tacks tips on how to save for retirement no matter how old you are, how to overcome your psychological biases so you don’t make stupid money mistakes, and why focusing on not losing money will help you have more money in the long run. Lots of actionable advice to enhance your finances in this episode.
You’ve probably heard about the precipitous rise in diagnoses of ADHD in America the past few decades. What was once a rare mental illness has now become a common problem amongst children -- particularly boys. Why the sudden spike? Are there really more people with ADHD or is something else going on?
My guest today has some possible answers to that question. His name is Steve Hinshaw and he's a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley. In his book, "The ADHD Explosion," Dr. Hinshaw gives the lay reader a crash course into ADHD and provides some insights as to why we’re seeing such a huge spike in the number of individuals diagnosed with it. We begin our conversation talking about what exactly ADHD is and how it impairs individuals. We then discuss the biological and environmental causes of ADHD, debunk some of the myths surrounding it, and discuss which treatments actually work.
Dr. Hinshaw then delves into his research which shows that the rise in ADHD is not because more people are actually developing it, but rather that cultural and economic forces in schools, corporations, and governments incentivize shoddy diagnoses. We also discuss the fact that ADHD medication is often used by people who don’t have ADHD in order to perform better, and whether it actually improves performance for these folks or not.
We end with a discussion about his new book, "Another Kind of Madness," and the stigma of mental illness in America.
#318: Exploring Life's Trails, Literally and Metaphorically
My guest today is Robert Moor, author of "On Trails: An Exploration."
One of my favorite things to do in life is to find and hike a trail out in the wilds. I love how a good trail gently leads you through nature. You don’t have to think much about where you’re going, so it gives you time to think about other things. It's great for chewing on deep issues and getting new insights, but it also causes you to take the trail for granted. For example, I sometimes forget that a group of people blazed the trail I’m enjoying and that another group continues to maintain it without any fanfare.
My guest today decided to stop taking trails for granted and to explore them in-depth -- both literally and metaphorically -- after his own hike on the Appalachian Trail. His name is Robert Moor and he’s the author of the book "On Trails: An Exploration." Today on the show, Robert shares why he decided to hike the entire Appalachian Trail after he graduated from college and why that experience led him to diving into the deeper meaning of trails.
We then discuss why following a trail is so existentially satisfying and how trails are embedded in human thought and communication and provide us with a sense of place and orientation in our lives.
We end our conversation talking about the idealistic origins of the Appalachian Trail, the movement to extend the Appalachian Trail to Morocco (yes, Morocco), and what a perpetual hiker named Nimblewill Nomad can teach us about the limits of freedom.
If you’re a hiker, you’re going to love this show. If you’re not a hiker, it’s going to inspire you to find a trail this weekend and become one.
#317: Why Your First Impression Matters & How to Improve It
My guest today is a psychologist who specializes in the science of first impressions and has written the most useful and thorough book on the topic that I've come across. Her name is Ann Demarais and her book is "First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You." Today on the show, Ann explains how quickly we make a first impression and the psychological biases that influence how people judge you (and how you judge others).
We then dig into what you should focus on during a first interaction to give a good impression and the behaviors you may think come off as neutral or positive but actually read in a negative way. For example, you may think you’re giving off a relaxed vibe during a social interaction, but others might see you as aloof. Ann explains how to find these blind spots in your self-awareness and what to do about them.
We end our conversation by going through some actionable tips to become more charismatic, like how to keep a conversation going when your first meet someone, how to show interest in someone without looking creepy, and the common mistakes men make with their first impressions. And if you happen to blow your first impression, Ann shares how to recover.
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.
#315: The Power of Small Experiments to Supercharge Your Success
Today on the show, Noah Kagan shares what it was like getting fired from Facebook right before it went public and losing out on a $185 million pay day, and how he bounced back from that blow. He then digs into the process he goes through in testing if a business idea is viable and how he used that process to start several successful ventures. Noah then shares the difference between founding a business and managing it, and why managers get the short shrift in today’s start-up focused world. We end our conversation by talking about how you can run personal experiments to create a better life and how to run a diagnostic test on yourself in order to make every day a great one.
Today on the show, I talk to GORUCK founder Jason McCarthy, who started the company after serving as a Green Beret in Iraq. What began as a backpack company has morphed into a tight-knit community of people looking to push themselves through what Jason calls "Good livin." Today on the show, Jason and I discuss where the idea for the GORUCK events came from and what a man can learn about leadership, teamwork, and community by doing hard things with other people.
My guest is Chris Fussell, author of "One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams."
Today on the show, Chris and I discuss why traditional top-down leadership organizations aren’t effective today either in the world of military or business and how civilian organizations can apply the lessons he learned during combat. We discuss the legacy of John Boyd’s OODA Loop philosophy and how McChrystal took that idea and scaled it to the large and often bureaucratic armed forces. Chris then delves into how to develop a sense of “shared consciousness” in an organization and how to empower subordinates to make decisions to move a goal forward without having to ask for permission from a superior. We then discuss why complete decentralization isn't a cure-all and why it’s important to have the structure of top-down leadership.
Whether you’re a corporate manager, business owner, or a leader in a non-profit, you’re going to walk away with some actionable advice to make your organization better.
#312: The Costs of Light Pollution and the Benefits of Darkness
My guest today is Paul Bogard, author of "The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light."
Today on the show, Paul and I discuss what true darkness actually looks like and the type of un-dark night most modern folks experience. He then shares the last few spots in America and Europe where you can still experience true darkness and what the sky in those places looks like. We then delve into what we miss out on spiritually by not experiencing true darkness and the health detriments that come with being exposed to artificial light 24 hours a day. Paul also shares some of the common myths about darkness, such as the idea that darkness is more dangerous than light.
This show is going to inspire you to seek out a remote area of wilderness so you can experience the beauty that comes with a truly dark night.
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.
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.
My guest today is Isaac Lidsky, author of the new book "Eyes Wide Open: Overcoming Obstacles and Recognizing Opportunities in a World That Can’t See Clearly."
Today on the show, Isaac and I discuss how he went blind and his initial reaction to losing his sight. We then dig into insights he gained about resilience, humility, and Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech that allowed him to move forward in life.
Among his accomplishments since going blind are graduating from Harvard Law School, clerking at the U.S. Supreme Court, working at a high-powered corporate law firm in NYC, and turning around a struggling construction business that now earns over $70 million in yearly revenue. Oh, and while he was doing all that, he was also busy being the dad of triplets.
If you feel like your ability to move forward in life is hamstrung by limitations, or you struggle with being resilient to setbacks both big and small, Isaac is going to show you that it’s all in your mind, as well as what you can do to see things as they really are.
#308: The Case for Blue Collar Work With Mike Rowe
My guest today is Mike Rowe, former host of Dirty Jobs, and current blue collar trade advocate.
On the show, Mike and I discuss where the idea for Dirty Jobs came from and why a show about blue collar workers became a surprise hit. We then explore why we devalue blue collar work, the societal and individual consequences of that devaluation, and what Mike is doing to make pursuing vocational and trade work cool and viable again.
If you’re a young man trying to figure out if college and an office job is right for you, or if you’re a guy in a dead end office job looking for an alternative, Mike’s going to make a strong case for why you should consider putting on a hard hat and getting your hands dirty.
My guest today is retired Navy Admiral William McRaven, author of "Make Your Bed."
Today on the show, Admiral McRaven and I discuss why something as simple as making your bed every day can lay the foundation for success in every aspect of your life, how a parachuting accident taught him an important lesson on avoiding self-pity and learning to rely on the help of others, and why rolling in the sand as a SEAL trainee taught him how to become more resilient to the whims of life. We end our conversation by talking about how a leader can remain hopeful and share that hope with his team when all seems hopeless, and what you have to do to avoid "ringing the bell."
This podcast will leave you fired up to make your bed, and become a better man.
#306: What a Magician Can Teach You About Being More Successful
My guest today is David Kwong. He’s a magician, New York Times crossword creator, and now author of the book "Spellbound: Seven Principles of Illusion to Captivate Audiences and Unlock the Secrets of Success.
Today on the show, David and I discuss how several key principles from magic can be applied beyond the stage and make you more successful in business and life. We’ll learn what it means to “load up” in magic and how Richard Branson used that principle to start Virgin Airlines, and why storytelling is key for executing both a successful magic trick and a successful business. We also discuss how magicians plan for tricks gone awry and the lessons non-magicians can take from that preparation. We even get into the mutual admiration Theodore Roosevelt and Houdini had for each other and how Houdini personified Roosevelt's ideal of living "the strenuous life."
My guest on today's show is Winston Groom, author of "The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight."
Winston Groom has authored numerous history and historical fiction books, including "Forrest Gump," as well as the subject of today's show, "The Aviators," in which he details the engaging history of these pioneers of flight and their service to their country. Today on the show, we discuss each of these men and their respective heroics -- from Lindbergh’s famous flight across the Atlantic, to Doolittle’s legendary raid on Tokyo, to Rickenbacker’s survival at sea for 23 days. We also dig into their complex characters and specifically, Lindbergh’s testy relationship with the press and how his initial opposition to the U.S. entering WWII got him labeled a traitor by FDR.
Winston is a masterful storyteller so you’re in for a real treat today. You’re going to be left both entertained and inspired by these three men.
#304: The Lies of Manhood and How to Teach Young Men Its Truths
My guest today is Jeffrey Marx, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Season of Life."
Today on the show, Jeffrey talks about his relationship with retired NFL athlete and now minister and high school football coach Joe Ehrmann. Jeff begins by sharing what he learned from Joe and other NFL players about what it means to be a man during his stint as a ball boy for the Baltimore Colts in the 1970s. He then shares how Joe went from a party animal to an inner-city minister who focused on helping young men. We then discuss what Joe sees as the lies of masculinity in the popular culture and how they need to be replaced with strategic masculinity.
We end our conversation talking about how coaching high school football ties into Joe’s ministry to men and how Joe’s philosophy on masculinity helped Jeffrey draw closer to his father.
Lots of great insights on this show so be sure to take notes.
Today on the show, I talk to Emrys Westacott, philosophy professor and author of "The Wisdom of Frugality," about the philosophical history of penny pinching. We begin our conversation discussing what philosophers mean by frugality and the various philosophical schools that gave frugality primacy. We then go on to summarize the arguments as to why frugality makes people wiser and happier, the counter-arguments to frugality as a virtue, why the ideal of frugality changes based on circumstances, and why living frugally is harder to do today than in times past.
This show provides a nuanced look at a much-praised virtue and will leave you mulling over how, why, and to what extent to strive for it in your own life.
#302: My Workout Routine & The Benefits of a Strength Coach
Back in 2015, I had Starting Strength coach Matt Reynolds on the podcast to talk about barbell training. At about the same time, I started getting online coaching from Matt for my own barbell training. A year and half later, I’ve made some incredible gains with my strength and hit personal records that I never thought I’d be able to attain. Thanks to Matt, I was inspired to have recently entered my first barbell competition, and deadlifted 533 lbs, squatted 420 lbs, and shoulder pressed 201 lbs at the event. And perhaps best of all, my body has stayed healthy and I haven't been injured in the process.
Because guys frequently ask me about my training, I've brought Matt back on the podcast to walk listeners through the programming and nutrition plan I've been following for the past 18 months. We discuss how Matt customized my programming, and why he started me with the novice Starting Strength program even though I had been barbell training for a few years. We also dig into my setbacks and how Matt adjusted things to help me break through plateaus.
If you’ve been thinking about barbell training or are currently training and are confused about how to program, you’re going to get a lot out of this episode. Consider me your human guinea pig.
Today's guest is Kyle Eschenroeder, author of "The Pocket Guide to Action."
Last year, Kyle published a piece on the site called "Meditations on the Wisdom of Action." It contained 116 short, punchy devotional-esque passages on the nature and importance of action. It was my favorite piece of content in 2016, and I still find myself continually thinking about its principles, and utilizing them in my life. The feedback we’ve received from readers has been similarly enthusiastic. At over 16,000 words, this longform article was about the length of a short book. So we decided to turn it into one, and titled it "The Pocket Guide to Action: 116 Meditations on the Art of Doing."
Today on the show, I’ve brought Kyle on to dig deep into his philosophy on action. He shares why inaction can be expensive, how action can sometimes mean not doing anything, and why taking action is the best way to find courage and passion in life. Along the way, he shares tactics you can take today to help shift yourself into a more action-oriented mindset.
If you’ve been struggling to get started on a project or have just been feeling unmotivated, this podcast will light a fire under your rear!
My guest today is Lenore Skenazy, author of "Free Range Kids."
Today on the show, Lenore and I discuss how being labeled “America’s Worst Mom” led her to become a leader of a movement to give kids more unsupervised time, the cultural shifts that have happened in the past 30 years that have resulted in overprotective parenting, and why, contrary to popular belief, the chance of your kid getting abducted by a stranger is actually incredibly small. Along the way, Lenore shares some crazy stories of parents getting in trouble with the law simply for letting their children play outside by themselves.
We end our conversation with some actionable steps you can take as a parent to raise independent, self-reliant kids and why it’s important for kids to have as much unsupervised play as possible.
If you’re a parent or a parent-to-be, you don’t want to miss this hilarious, but informative episode.
#299: What the Ancient Greeks and Romans Thought About Manliness
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.
#298: The History of BBQ and Becoming a Backyard Pitmaster
My guest today is Matt Moore, and we talk about his new book, "The South's Best Butts."
Today on the show Matt details the history of BBQ and why pork is a staple in the Southern variety. He then explains what exactly a pork butt is (and no, it’s not the rear of a pig), and why it's such an ideal meat for smoking. Matt then shares how and why BBQ flavors and techniques differ across the South and highlights a few pitmasters who are adding new takes to this traditional dish. We end our conversation by going through the step-by-step process of smoking the perfect pork butt.
My guest today is Beth Kobliner, and we discuss her latest book, "Make Your Kid a Money Genius."
Beth shares the research on the age at which most kids develop the money habits they’ll have for the rest of their life (it’s surprisingly young) and provides some basic guidelines on what you should and should not talk about with your children when it comes to money. We then dig into specific tactics on teaching your kids -- whether they’re in preschool or college -- about saving, work, insurance, and debt.
Even if you don’t have kids, you’re going to find some useful reminders in this podcast about getting your financial life in order. For those of you thinking about getting married soon, Beth shares some fascinating research on how the amount you spend on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony correlates with marital success and happiness. It will definitely provide some conversation fodder to discuss with your significant other.
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.
My interview today is with Craig Marker, a StrongFirst kettlebell trainer, and psychology professor at Mercer University.
We’re big fans of the kettlebell here at the Art of Manliness. It’s a great piece of gym equipment that builds both strength and cardiovascular conditioning. Today on the show, I talk to StrongFirst kettlebell coach Craig Marker about the wonders of these little cannonballs with handles. Mark digs deep into the research done by the Soviets back in the 70s and 80s that shows why kettlebells are an effective tool for building explosive power, and how kettlebell training can improve your deadlift, help you jump higher, and even lead you to becoming a better ballerina (if that’s your thing).
We then segue our conversation to talking about training in general and the mistakes beginners make when starting with a strength program. Mark then makes the case that in addition to our regular workouts, we should live our lives like it's the 1940s if we want to see improved health and happiness.
We end our conversation talking a bit about Craig’s day job as a psychology professor at Mercer University and how his training as a psychologist has helped him improve his coaching and fitness training. He even shares a little trick you can play on your brain to lift more weight or run faster.
My guest today is Jordan Harbinger of the Art of Charm podcast.
While men sometimes see developing their social skills as something superficial or unimportant, these skills are essential for success in business and life. Knowing how to interact and get along with others is how we can make friends, find love, and advance our career. My guest on the podcast today has spent the past ten years helping men become more socially dynamic through his in-person coaching services and his podcast The Art of Charm. His name is Jordan Harbinger and today on the show Jordan I discuss why improving your social skills is so important and why many men often give it the short shrift. We then dig into the concept of social capital and why it might be even more vital to develop than financial capital. We end our conversation getting into brass tacks advice on how to become a social dynamo without having to be an extroverted “life of the party” cheeseball.
This is a great podcast filled with tons of actionable steps.
My guest today is Scott Sonenshein, and we talk about his new book "Stretch."
Scott and I discuss why chasing more resources often leads to failure, and why learning to stretch and use what you've got can give you a competitive advantage in business and in life. Scott then shares insights he’s gleaned from the world of business on how the stretching principle can help you achieve your personal goals. We then dig into the science of why constraints make us more creative and scrappy, why planning is overrated (and why you should put a premium on action), and why it’s so hard to stretch even though we intuitively know it comes with lots of benefits.
My guest today is New York Times columnist David Brooks, who also authored the book "The Road to Character."
David and I begin our discussion with the “crooked timber” view of humanity that people had in previous generations and how it shaped moral development. He then takes us through the cultural changes that got rid of this perspective of human nature and how that led to a loss of a moral vocabulary that makes it hard for people today to even talk about character.
We then take a look at the lives of several eminent individuals from history and what they can teach us about character formation. From General Eisenhower’s battle to harness his uncontrollable anger, to George Marshall’s inner fight for discipline and the ability to put big picture goals ahead of personal ambition.
We end our conversation talking about the mindsets and actions we can take to live a life of character.
This is an important, interesting, and edifying episode I hope you'll tune in for.
#291: The Untold Story of Jimmy Stewart's WWII Service
My guest today is Robert Matzen, author of "Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe."
Robert shares why Stewart’s family history instilled an iron sense of duty towards serving his country in the military and how Stewart spent his single day off as an actor training to be an Army pilot in the years leading up to WWII. We also discuss how Stewart had to fight military brass and his boss at MGM Studios to ensure that he actually saw combat instead of staying stateside to make propaganda films.
Robert then gets into detail about the combat missions Stewart flew during WWII, his leadership style as an officer, and how the war took a toll on him physically and emotionally.
We end our conversation talking about how the war influenced Stewart’s film career when he returned home and how it may have helped him create one of cinema's most iconic characters, George Bailey.
If you’re a fan of Jimmy Stewart, you don’t want to miss this show.
My guest today is Antony Cummins, and we talk about his book "True Path of the Ninja."
Today on the show, Antony uncovers the biggest myths we have in the West about ninjas -- like the fact that there isn’t really a ninjutsu fighting system, nor were samurai the ninjas' sworn enemy -- and then gives the real history of these ancient warriors. Antony then shares what lessons actual ninjas can teach us folks living in the modern West about psychology and interacting with others in business and life.
The bad news is that we're going to ruin your childhood conceptions about ninjas in this podcast, but the good news is that the real story of ninjas is even more fascinating.
"Software is eating the world," or so we’re told. Products that once took up physical space can be contained in our smartphones and held in the palms of our hands. Instead of having a record collection, now we can stream any music any where and any time we want. Instead of shelves and shelves of books, we can have access to thousands of volumes in our Kindle app. Instead of stacks of photo albums, we can store a virtually unlimited collection of pictures in the digital cloud.
But in the cultural background to this digital shift, there’s been a silent rebellion brewing.
My guest tracks that rebellion in his book, "The Revenge of Analog." Today on the show, David Sax and I talk about why we’re seeing a return to analog products like vinyl records, hardcopy books, and pen and paper -- and it’s not because of nostalgia. David goes into detail about the sudden revival of vinyl and turntables and why it’s more than just some hipster fad, why hardcopy book sales are going up while ebook sales are declining, and why writing with pen and paper unleashes creativity compared to typing or writing on a screen. He then gets into how the internet is counterintuitively driving this upsurge of interest in tangible products and the benefits we get psychologically, culturally, and economically by living in an analog world.
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.
Today on the show, Steven Kotler shares what ecstasis is and why it improves performance in sports, business, and even military combat. He then goes on to describe the four accelerating forces in science that allow individuals to hack into ecstasis more easily, including things like mind-altering drugs and zapping your brain with electricity. Pretty crazy stuff. We end the show discussing how average Joes can get into ecstasis as well as the ethical implications of these new technologies. Are we bringing in a brave new world here, literally?
If you want a glimpse of what's coming into the world of performance enhancement in the next 20 years, you're not going to want to miss this show.
One of the most heart-wrenching things that can happen to a man is losing his young wife to death. Becoming a widower but also being left alone to father a baby compounds the heartache. It’s something that happened to Theodore Roosevelt and also to my guest today on the show. His name is Daniele Bolelli, he’s a professor of history, host of the podcasts History on Fire and The Drunken Taoist, an amateur mixed martial artist, and the author of several books, including "Not Afraid" and "On the Warrior’s Path."
Today on the show, Daniele and I discuss why a bookworm like himself started fighting, how combat sport fighting grounds us in reality, and the forgotten philosophy of Bruce Lee. We then talk about his experience losing his wife to an aggressive brain tumor, what it was like raising a child by himself, and how martial arts and Theodore Roosevelt provided him strength and inspiration during a harrowing time in his life.
#285: The Real Science of Nutrition and Supplements
If you work out regularly, you probably take some sort of supplement, be it whey protein or creatine or a pre-workout energy drink. But do the supplements you’re taking actually work?
My guest today on the show has spent his career studying the effects of what we put into our body and is the director of the online encyclopedia of supplements and nutrition called Examine.com. His name is Kamal Patel. He’s a researcher with an MPH and MBA from John Hopkins University and is working on his PhD in nutrition. Today on the show, Kamal and I discuss why there’s so much confusion when it comes to supplements and nutrition. For example, he explains why one study can say cholesterol is bad for you, while another one says it’s vital for health. Kamal then breaks down how to read scientific studies on nutrition so you can make informed decisions about your diet instead of relying on clickbait headlines published by pseudo-journalists. We then get into which supplements actually work and which ones are a waste of money. Kamal also shares his insights on the growing field of nootropics and if there really are supplements that will make you smarter.
Last summer, I had Lesley Blume on the show to talk about her book "Everybody Behaves Badly" which gives the story behind the story of Hemingway’s first big novel, "The Sun Also Rises." On today’s show, I talk to an author of another book about this landmark novel, who, instead of providing the historical context of "The Sun Also Rises," explores the ideal of manliness Hemingway was trying to get at in the book. His name is Frank Miniter, he’s a journalist and the author of previous books like "The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide." His latest is called "This Will Make a Man of You: One Man’s Search to Find What Makes Men."
Frank and I discuss Hemingway’s project of creating a new myth of manliness that combined traditional notions of masculinity with modern sensibilities, how Frank Sinatra killed the rugged gentleman and made “cool” a defining feature of modern manliness, and what the running of the bulls can teach us about rites of passage into manhood. We end our conversation talking about Hemingway’s attraction to and repulsion from bullfighting, and why the matador was Hemingway’s ideal symbol of manliness.
My guest today argues that while these narratives may have been true at one point in American history, the statistics show that in recent decades Americans have lost that pioneering, entrepreneurial get-up-and-go. Instead, we’ve become pretty complacent. His name is Tyler Cowen, he’s an economist at George Mason University, writer at his blog Marginal Revolutions, and the author of several books. His latest is "The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream."
Today on the show, Tyler and I discuss the statistics that indicate Americans are losing their dynamism -- that we're moving less and starting fewer businesses -- as well as the effect this trend is having on our economy and culture. Tyler also provides some insight on what’s causing this complacency, what to do to overcome it, and how it's likely leading us to an era of severe disruption.
If you enjoyed my podcast with Neil Howe about the generational theory of history, you’re going to love this episode. Tyler’s ideas dovetail nicely with Howe’s cyclical view of history.
In today’s episode I'm welcoming back one of my all-time favorite guests, writer Steven Pressfield. Steven is the author of several popular novels including "The Legend of Bagger Vance," "Gates of Fire," and "The Virtues of War." He’s also written several popular non-fiction books on the creative process, like "Do the Work" and "The War of Art," which cover how to overcome what he calls "the Resistance." Steve’s now got a new novel out called "The Knowledge." It’s based on his early days as a writer in 1970s New York City and provides the backstory of how he learned to overcome the Resistance in his own life.
Today on the show, Steve and I discuss how the Resistance rears its ugly head in our lives and how to overcome it by transforming from an amateur to a professional. We then talk about Steve’s early days as a writer and the struggles he went through in becoming a pro.
If you are or someday hope to be a writer, artist, or entrepreneur, you’re going to love this episode. It’s filled with insights on the mindset you need to adopt in order to thrive in any endeavor.
But what if growing up doesn’t mean you have to be boring and lame? What if becoming a grown-up is actually a really rebellious act?
That’s the argument my guest today makes in her latest book. Her name is Susan Neiman and she’s the author of 'Why Grow Up? Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age.' Today on the show, Susan and I discuss why becoming a grown-up has gotten a bad rap, how our culture— including smartphones— infantilizes us, and what the Enlightenment thinkers Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Emanuel Kant can teach us about how to become a grown-up. Susan then goes on to share ideas on what you can do to feel more like an autonomous adult and why embracing that role is such a subversive thing to do.
#279: Why Exercising in a Group Is the Best Medicine For Vets (and Civilians)
In recent years, several new veterans organizations have popped up to help our men and women in uniform transition from the service to civilian life. Instead of providing a place where veterans can get together to drink, these new organizations are looking to offer vets a sense of meaning and mission that they often lose after they hang up their uniform. My guest today is head of one of these new organizations. His name is J.J. Pinter and he’s the Deputy Director of Team Red, White, and Blue (Team RWB for short) — a veterans organization with the goal of getting vets and civilians together to work out.
Today on the show, J.J. and I discuss the issues facing vets that Team RWB is trying resolve, such as getting them reintegrated back into their community and staving off feelings of depression. We then discuss why Team RWB decided to make fitness their primary focus and why exercising with other people is one of the best remedies for melancholy and malaise. Finally, J.J. and I talk about why it’s so important for civilians to interact and connect with our vets and how they can do so through Team RWB.
Today on the podcast I talk to Brad Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, as well as the Director of the National Marriage Project, who's spent his career researching the impact marriage has on people's lives. Brad I discuss the effect marriage has on men, and why officially tying the knot actually makes a significant difference compared to being in a committed, non-married relationship. We also discuss what men can do to create a lasting marriage and the best age to get hitched.
We then shift gears to talk about his research on fatherhood, particularly the importance of fathers in a child’s life and the benefits men get themselves from being a dad.
Whether you’re already married and a dad, or thinking about popping the question, you’re going to find a lot of insights and surprising information in this podcast.
#277: Krav Maga – The Self-Defense System of Israeli Special Forces
Today on the podcast, I talk to David Kahn, chief instructor at the U.S. Israeli Krav Maga Association and the author of several books on the topic, including Krav Maga Defense. Today on the show, David and I discuss the origins and history of Krav Maga, its philosophy, its fundamental moves, and how to use it in a defensive scenario.
Nicholas Carr and I discuss why he thinks our utopian future is creepy, how the internet is making us dumber, and why doing mundane tasks that we otherwise would outsource to robots or computers is actually a source of satisfaction and human flourishing. We finish our discussion by outlining a middle path approach to technology -- one that doesn’t reject it fully but simultaneously seeks to mitigate its potential downsides.
#275: How Your Climate-Controlled Comfort Is Killing You
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.
Stephen Mansfield and I discuss the bleak statistics on male friendship, the myth of the lone alpha male, and why making friends in adulthood is so hard for men today. We then discuss what he means by a “band of brothers,” why men’s accountability groups usually fail, and how a close-knit group of friends can help make you a better man. We end our discussion by delving into exactly what you need to do to develop a band of brothers and what to do when you get together.
If you feel like you’ve been lacking in the friendship department, this episode is for you. You’re going to walk away with some tactics you can put into action right away to begin developing your posse of pals.
For many of you listening, getting a promotion or a raise is likely a goal for the coming year. But what’s the best approach to take to ensure this desire becomes a reality?
My guest today argues that if you want to ask for that promotion this year, you need to start laying the groundwork months before making the pitch to your boss, and she walks us through exactly what you need to do to establish that groundwork.
Her name is Frances Cole Jones, she’s an executive image consultant, the author of "How to Wow," and a regular guest on the Art of Manliness Podcast. Today on the show, Frances shares the common mistakes people make when asking for a promotion, as well as the exact steps you need to take months before making your request in order to set yourself up for success. We also discuss what to do if the answer ends up being “no.”
#272: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Myth of Progress
On today’s show, Joseph Loconte and I discuss what C.S. Lewis called the “Myth of Progress” that had swept the Western World leading up to the First World War, why it contributed to the war's catastrophic damage, and how the myth shaped both Lewis’ and Tolkien’s views about good, evil, and warfare. We then get into detail about Tolkien’s and Lewis’ battlefield experience and how it inspired specific characters and scenes in their respective works. We end our conversation about how the fantasy work of these writers carved a middle path between cynicism and unbridled optimism while simultaneously showing readers that even the lowliest of individuals can play a decisive role in the great adventure of life.
We’ve all likely experienced those moments in life in which our breath is literally taken away; at the same time that we feel existentially small, our spirits seem to greatly expand. It’s a singular feeling that we call wonder.
But why do we feel wonder? What purpose does it serve in our survival and flourishing as humans? Why does it get harder and harder to feel wonder as you get older? Is it possible to recapture that lost wonder -- to manufacture it in some way?
My guest today explores these questions in his book Wonder: From Emotion to Spirituality. His name is Robert Fuller and he’s a professor of Religious Studies at Bradley University. Today on the show, Robert and I discuss the psychology and biology of wonder, why researchers haven't really studied wonder, and the benefits of experiencing it in our lives on a regular basis. We also explore how wonder shaped the lives and careers of men like John Muir and William James, how religion ritualizes wonder, and whether we can take action to experience more wonder in our lives. This podcast will leave you wondering a lot about wonder.
We don't normally think of soldiers and first responders as "professional athletes," but that's exactly how my guest today argues they should see themselves. His name is Rob Shaul, and he's the founder and president of the Mountain Tactical Institute -- a research organization dedicated to creating fitness programming that takes workouts outside the gym and gives them a mission-centered focus. Rob believes that soldiers, police officers, and fire fighters, as well as folks who participate in strenuous mountain activities like rock climbing and backcountry skiing, should view themselves as tactical athletes and train not just to train, but for a purpose outside the gym.
Today on the show, Rob and I discuss what makes the Mountain Tactical Institute’s mission-focused approach to fitness different from other organizations, why it is that soldiers and first responders should think of themselves as professional athletes, why soldiers in Afghanistan started following his fitness programming for mountain climbers, why there are so many out-of-shape first responders on active duty, and how to train to become a "tactical athlete," even if you're a civilian.
In the past decade, autism has gotten more and more attention by the media and the wider culture. You probably know someone with autism or who has a child with autism. Yet despite the spotlight autism has gotten in recent years, several myths and misconceptions about it pervade the popular culture. Understanding the history of how the conception of autism we have today developed can go a long way in shedding light on these myths.
My guest has written what is probably the most extensive history of the development of autism. His name is Steve Silberman and his book is "NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and The Future of Neurodiversity."
Today on the show, Steve and I discuss the forgotten history of autism research, how the popular myths we have about autism got their start, theories as to why autism even exists, how parents should approach raising a child on the spectrum, and advice on how to connect with your autistic friends or colleagues.
#268: How the Science of Competition Can Make You a Better Man
What if I told you that there’s a performance-enhancing drug that’s completely free, completely legal, and has no ill side-effects when used correctly? Oh, and you’ve probably already taken it many times in your life.
Competition is that drug, and today on the show I talk to author Po Bronson about his book "Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing," which digs deep into the science of competition and how it can improve our performance in a wide variety of tasks.
In today’s podcast, Po and I discuss the difference between adaptive and maladaptive competition, the culture of virtuous competition that existed amongst the ancient Greeks, and how you can shape competition to make you a better man in all aspects of your life.
#267: The Technological Forces That Are Shaping Our World
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.
There are some people who absolutely love running, and others who flee screaming from it. They hate how it feels, and they think it's a poor form of exercise because it overly stresses the body, causes tons of injuries, and doesn't even help you lose weight. Right?
Are these objections accurate? Today I talk with competitive runner Jason Fitzgerald to get his answers. Jason is a USA Track and Field certified coach and has finished in first place in marathons and obstacle course races across the country. He’s also the owner of Strength Running.
Today on the podcast, Jason and I discuss some of the myths about long-distance running that keep people away from the sport, why runners often neglect strength training (but shouldn't), and what programming should look like when first starting out with running, as well as when you want to get more competitive.
Over the years, we’ve had experts on the podcast to talk about how to defend yourself, guys like Tim Larkin and Tony Blauer.
But when is your use of force, whether lethal or non-lethal, justified? What are the legal consequences if your self-defense isn’t justified?
Today on the podcast, I talk to attorney Andrew Branca about his book The Law of Self Defense. Andrew and I discuss the common legal myths people have about self-defense, how self-defense differs in civil and criminal cases, and when the law says you can defend yourself and how you can do it. Whether you’re dealing with a person threatening your life or some jerk shoving you at the bar, knowing how to defend yourself isn’t enough. You need to understand the legal implications of your actions as well.
#264: How to Coach People in Business, Sports, and Life
Whether you’re a parent, a manager, or a mentor, we all have to coach people at some point in our life.
But how do you coach in a way that makes the recipient receptive to your feedback but doesn’t take up too much of your time and energy?
My guest today has spent his career coaching managers on how to be better leaders at work and he's distilled his knowledge on how to coach effectively in his latest book. His name is Michael Bungay Stainer and his book is The Coaching Habit. Today on the show Michael and I discuss how effective coaching requires you to talk less and ask more questions. Michael then shares the exact questions you should ask when coaching someone that will guide them to the answer they need to make their needed improvement.
#263: The Philosophy and Practice of Building a Fire the Scandinavian Way
What is it about making and warming ourselves with woodburning flame that's so satisfying? And how can we better master the art of firemaking?
Well my guest today has published a book that’s become a cult classic in Scandinavia and it’s all about wood and fire. His name is Lars Mytting and his book is "Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way." Today on the show, Lars and I discuss the pleasures of preparing wood for a fire and why firewood is an important part of man’s identity in Scandinavian countries. We go on to talk about the best kind of wood for fires, how to fell trees for firewood, how to season your wood for optimal fire building, and the best time to split wood.
This is a show both philosophical and practical, and it will leave you wanting to build the best fireplace fire of your life when you’re done listening.
#262: Santa Claus, Rifle Toting Boy Scouts, and a Jazz Age Con Man
While many Christmas traditions have ancient roots, Christmas culture as we know it today is a modern creation and most of that genesis happened in New York City a century ago.
My guest today on the show wrote a book that explores the development of Christmas in New York City by looking at a 1920s con man who used the story of Santa Claus to swindle hundreds of thousands of dollars from generous New Yorkers. His name is Alex Palmer and his book is "The Santa Claus Man: The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New York."
Today on the podcast Alex and I discuss what Christmas was like before the 19th century and the famous New Yorkers who helped turned Christmas into what it is today. Against that backdrop we discuss the life and times of John Gluck, a PR man who started an organization that answered letters written to Santa Claus but in the process lined his pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s also a story that involves a bitter rivalry between the Boy Scouts of America and another scouting organization that consisted of rifle-toting 12 year olds.
You don’t want to miss this holiday edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. It’s going to give you lots of fodder to talk about at Christmas dinner.
#261: Solitude, Friendship, & How NOT to Be an Excellent Sheep
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.
The barbershop has been an important institution in the African-American community for generations. But what many don’t know is that up until about the Reconstruction era, pretty much all barbers in the United States -- whether they cut the hair of white men or black men -- were African-American, and that barbering provided many black men a good enough living to enter the upper middle class.
Today on the show, I talk to historian Douglas Bristol about his book recounting this lost part of American male history. It’s called "Knights of the Razor: Black Barbers in Slavery and Freedom." Today on the show, Doug and I discuss the rise of the black barber in slaveholding states in the South, the influence black barbers had in the white community, and how black barbers paved the way for the modern barbershop. We also discuss the factors that led to the segregation of the barbershop and why the barbershop maintained a stronger allegiance among black men compared to their white counterparts.
If you're a fan of podcasts, my next guest likely needs no introduction. His name is Tim Ferriss, and he's the author of several New York Times bestselling books and the host of the popular podcast, "The Tim Ferriss Show." Tim’s out with a new book called "Tools of Titans," which distills the hours of interviews he's conducted with high-performing guests on his podcast to give readers the best tactics and strategies on how to live a successful, flourishing life.
Today on the show, Tim and I discuss self-improvement advice and the survivorship bias, the common habits of high-performers, and how to ask better questions so you can learn things more quickly. Tim also discusses his struggle with depression and what’s worked for him in keeping the black dog at bay. This podcast is crammed with actionable advice, so you’ll want to take notes.
#258: Honor, Courage, Thumos and Plato's Idea of Greek Manliness
I’m a classics guy, so the ancient Greeks and Romans inform a lot of my ideas about what manliness means, particularly in regards to the way they equated manliness with living a life of virtue. One of the best books that I’ve come across on how the Greeks saw manliness as intertwined with virtue is by professor of philosophy Angela Hobbs. In Plato and the Hero: Courage, Manliness, and the Impersonal Good, Hobbs goes into detail clarifying Greek concepts related to manliness, including the wild, Homeric virtues of andreia, or courage, thumos, or spiritedness, and time, or honor. Today on the show, professor Hobbs and I discuss these ancient notions of masculinity in detail as well why the philosopher Plato felt uneasy about them. We then talk about how much of Plato’s philosophy was about tempering these virtues so that they can be harnessed for the greater good of society and how that’s influenced our notions of masculinity today.
Along with getting into shape, being more productive is a common goal people have.
While there are a ton of books and articles out there filled with productivity tips, which ones actually work?
My guest today took a year out of his life to test all the productivity advice out there and has written a book sharing what worked for him. His name is Chris Bailey and he’s the author of "The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy." Today on the show, Chris and I discuss the common misconceptions about productivity that lead people astray in their goals, why having a “why” is the most important step in becoming more productive, and why planning your day around your personal energy cycle can boost your productivity significantly. Chris also gives specific tactics to beat procrastination, strengthen your ability to focus, and manage your to-do list.
This episode is chalk full of actionable advice, so take notes.
Practicing good leadership is difficult enough in everyday situations. Practicing good leadership when you’re literally under fire — whether from bullets or actual flames — truly puts your leadership skills to the test.
My guest today has experienced both kinds of fire, and not only lived to tell about it, but distilled out the lessons every man can learn from those life-or-death experiences. His name is Jason Brezler and he’s both a Marine combat veteran and a current firefighter for the New York City Fire Department. Brezler not only served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and works in the FDNY’s Special Operations Command, but he’s also the owner of a leadership consulting firm — called Leadership Under Fire, Inc. — that teaches organizations how to develop leaders that are able to make critical decisions and lead their teams to success when under pressure.
Today on the show, Jason and I talk about his experience in Fallujah, what it takes to become a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department, and lessons on leadership and decision making from battling both human enemies and hot flames.
#255: The Joy of Missing Out - Getting Control of Your Digital Life
Do you feel overwhelmed by your digital devices? Do you constantly have an itch to check your phone even when you’re trying to focus on important work or interacting with your loved ones? Do you find the constant onslaught of opinions coming from the digital ether psychologically tiring? Do you feel like your inner life and grasp of existential meaning becomes more shallow the more time you spend online?
At one time, my guest today on the podcast could say yes to all those questions and decided to do something about it. Her name is Christina Crook and she’s the author of the Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World. Today on the show Christina and I discuss the promise and perils of digital technology, her experiment with quitting the internet for a month, and tactics you can take to master technology rather than being its slave. Lots of great insights in this episode to curb your digital addiction.
After the show is over, check out the show notes at aom.is/jomo for links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic.
The fall of the Roman Empire has been a cultural touchstone in the West for centuries. It’s been used as a warning of what can happen to a society that gets off track. While lots of ink has been spilt on the topic archeologists have made new discoveries in the past few decades that have given us fresh insights as to why the Roman Empire deteriorated and what that decline looked like.
My guest today recently earned his PhD from USC, specializing in the fall of the Roman Empire, and he’s begun putting his vast knowledge into an accessible and easy-to-digest podcast. His name is Patrick Wyman and his podcast is called "The Fall of Rome." Today on the show, Patrick and I discuss the theories out there as to why the Roman Empire fell, the role of the barbarians in the fall, and what the fall of the Empire may have looked and felt like to Roman citizens at the time. We also discuss if there are any similarities between the Roman Empire and the United States, and if we’re following the same path that Rome did.
Earlier this year we published an in-depth series about masculinity and the Christian religion — in particular, why it is that in nearly all Christian churches the world over, women outnumber men. One of our sources for that series was a book called "Why Men Hate Going to Church," and on today's show I talk with the author of that book, David Murrow.
David and I talk about the significant disparity in the sex ratio of Christian churches, the factors that led to that gender gap, why fewer men in the pews typically leads to an overall decline in congregation attendance, what some churches are doing to make church more “man-friendly," why newer megachurches have been more successful at attracting men than older, smaller churches, and why one branch of Christianity -- Eastern Orthodoxy -- hasn’t suffered the same decline in male attendance that's plagued other traditional denominations. Whether you enjoyed our series on Christianity and manhood, have wondered why you find going to church so unbearable, or simply enjoy discussions on the intersection of faith, culture, and masculinity you’ll love this podcast.
Last year I had a fella by the name of Clint Emerson on the podcast. He’s a retired Navy SEAL and he came on the show to talk about his first book, "100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation." It was one of my favorite episodes from last year and a favorite of listeners as well.
Well, Clint’s back with another book filled with deadly skills. This time around it's "100 Deadly Skills Survival Edition: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Surviving in the Wild and Being Prepared for Any Disaster." In it, he, along with AoM's illustrator Ted Slampyak, show readers how to survive in any environment they might find themselves in, from the desert to the mountains to the sea. The book also covers how to manage disasters at home.
In this action-focused show, Clint and I talk about the mindset you need to handle any deadly scenario, as well as specific tips for surviving a variety of threats and emergencies.
#251: Be an Entrepreneur Without Quitting Your Day Job
The popular idea of the entrepreneur is that he’s a renegade risk-taker who goes all in with following his passion so that he can get out of the 9-5 rat race.
But what if you enjoy your day job at the office? Or have other reasons for wanting to work for someone else? Heck, maybe you're a doctor, or firefighter, or teacher and working for someone else is just part of the gig. If you fall into one of these categories, does that mean you're completely barred from entrepreneurship?
My guest today says “no.”
His name is Patrick McGinnis and he’s the author of the book "The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job." Today on the show, Patrick and I discuss the myths of becoming an entrepreneur -- including the one that you have to go all in to be one -- and discuss practical ways you can invest just 10% of your time and money into entrepreneurial endeavors. We also talk about the benefits of becoming a 10% entrepreneur, like boosting and diversifying your income streams, as well as becoming more competitive in the traditional job market.
Whether you’re a businessman, a statesman, a general, or a parent, you’re strategizing on a daily basis. So how do you do it better?
My guest today will provide some insights. His name is Barry Nalebuff. He’s a game theory expert and the author of "The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life." On the show Barry and I discuss how game theory can help you make better strategic decisions in all sorts of situations. We explore why threatening to punish your child’s sibling for bad behavior might be a more effective strategy than threatening to punish the child himself, what Donald Trump can teach us about the promise and perils of injecting randomness into your strategy, and how you can use game theory against yourself to lose weight or even quit smoking.
Pride. It’s been called one of the deadly sins.
But what if pride holds the key to human success and flourishing?
Well, that’s the argument my guest makes in her book, "Take Pride." Her name is Jessica Tracy, and she's a psychologist at the University of British Columbia. Today on the show Jessica and I discuss why pride gets a bad rap, the different kinds of pride that exist, and how feeling the good kind of pride is essential to growth, development, and even cooperation. We also discuss how men and women experience and express pride differently.
Football is often used as a metaphor for life.
What is it about football that makes it so adept at providing lessons on living, what specific lessons can we gleam from the sport, and are those lessons worth the risk of physical injury that come with playing the game?
My guest today takes a stab at answering these questions in his book "Why Football Matters: My Education in the Game." His name is Mark Edmundson and he’s a professor of English at the University of Virginia.
#247: The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Antidote to Excessive Irony
Thanks to digital technology, modern life often promises us a world full of limitless possibilities where you’ll never have to be bored again. But what if that promise of limitlessness and freedom actually contributes to our lives feeling dull, flat, and full of anxiety? What if embracing constraints and even boredom can give our lives more texture and heft?
That’s what my guest today argues in his book Play Anything: The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Secret of Games. His name is Ian Bogost, he’s a professor of philosophy and, get this, a video game designer. Today on the show, Ian and I discuss why modern life can often be filled with existential angst, why we live in an age of irony that's supercharged by the internet, and how looking at the world as a metaphorical playground can help you feel more grounded and present in reality. This show is full of counterintuitive wisdom and ready-to-work tools that can help you live a more fulfilling life.
Knowing how to give and receive feedback is essential for our personal and professional growth. To remedy the discomfort we have with it, most books and articles focus on how the giver of feedback can take the sting out of its delivery with tactics like the ever-popular "criticism sandwich." But Doug Stone argues in his latest book that when it comes to feedback, we should be focusing on how we can be better receivers of it.
Stone is the co-author of the book "Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well" and today he joins me on the show to discuss why even constructive criticism is so hard to take, as well as brass-tacks advice on how you can be less defensive and more open to the feedback you receive on a daily basis. You’ll want to take notes on this episode. It’s crammed with information that can improve your life immediately.
Natural Movement, or MovNat, is a fitness system inspired by the physical training of ancient Greeks and Romans as well as the 19th century's physical culture pioneers. The philosophy behind MovNat is simple: humans intrinsically know how to physically move their bodies, and itch to do so in a wide variety of ways. But our sedentary lifestyles and even the way we exercise has caused us to forget how to move efficiently and proficiently. MovNat can help you re-learn these basic, functional human movements, like jumping, crawling, carrying, throwing, balancing, and running.
Today on the show I talk to MovNat founder Erwan Le Corre and MovNat Performance Director Danny Clark about what MovNat is, the classical inspiration behind MovNat, and how it can help you to become strong to be useful.
Seven years ago, my guest today published what has become an underground cult classic on masculinity. His name is Jack Donovan and that book was The Way of Men. I had him on the podcast a few years ago to discuss it — check it out if you haven’t listened to it. In The Way of Men, Donovan argued that for men to really live what he calls the “tactical virtues” of masculinity, they needed to join an all-male honor group, or what he calls a gang or tribe. In his latest book, Becoming a Barbarian, Donovan lays out what creating these honor groups would look like.
On today’s show, Jack and I discuss why masculinity is often tragic, why today’s modern world makes it hard for men to form male honor groups, the difference between a club and a tribe, and what it means to start the world.
We typically think of reverence as connected with religion, but my guest today on the podcast argues that reverence is a virtue that extends past religious ceremony and is vital for the flourishing of human society. His name is Paul Woodruff, and he’s a professor of Humanities at the University of Texas and the author of "Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue."
On today’s show, Professor Woodruff and I discuss what the ancient Greeks and Chinese can teach us about reverence, why reverence has been forgotten in our modern age, and what you can do in your own life to renew this virtue.
#241: Easy Ways to Upgrade Your Style With Aaron Marino
Many of you have probably seen today's guest on YouTube. His name is Aaron Marino and he’s made a name for himself as a men’s style expert with his often zany videos geared towards helping men look and feel their best. He’s also a two-time contestant on Shark Tank.
Today on the show, Aaron and I discuss how an early business setback in the fitness industry led him to creating a men’s style empire online. We also get into the nitty gritty of men’s style by discussing the common style mistakes men make and the easy and cheap fixes that will help you look like a million bucks. This podcast is filled with with actionable steps that you can start implementing today to look more stylish and make a better impression wherever you go.
On today’s show Candice Millard and I discuss the supreme confidence Winston Churchill had as a young man that he was destined for greatness and how he intentionally sought after dangerous military missions that would catapult him to fame.
We also discuss the compelling leadership and persuasion ability Churchill displayed during the Boer War that would later propel his political career, as well as the similarities between Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt.
With some thought and intentionality, you can help ensure that you have a happy, loving, fulfilling relationship that lasts until death do you part.
My guest today is Les Parrot and he’s a clinical psychologist specializing in marriage and family. He, along with wife Leslie, who's also a marriage therapist, have written a book to help couples prepare themselves for matrimonial commitment. It’s called "Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before— And After—You Marry."
Today on the show, Les and I discuss how a man can know if he’s personally ready for marriage, the myths people have about marriage that set them up for disappointment, and the conversations you should be having with your future spouse to help ensure you have a happy life together. While the conversation is geared towards soon-to-be marrieds and newlyweds, even if you’ve been married for a couple decades, you’re going to find some useful advice and insights in this show.
Philosophy professor Charles Taylor wrote a 900-page tome called "A Secular Age" in which he argues that secularity has more to do with a feeling of uncertainty about truth that pervades a culture in which all ideas are contested and contestable.
My guest today on the show wrote a reader’s guide to Taylor’s epic work. His name is James K. A. Smith (he goes by Jamie). He’s a Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College and his book is called How (Not) to Be Secular. Today on the show, Jamie and I discuss what it means to live in a secular age, how we got here, and why it creates so much anxiety. Whether you’re a believer, agnostic, or atheist, you’re going to find some fascinating insights about today’s culture.
For the past several years, you’d be hard-pressed to scroll through your Facebook feed, especially in the summertime, without seeing some of your friends posting pictures of themselves at the finish line of a mud run or obstacle race. Events like the Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, and Tough Mudder have become well-known parts of the modern recreational scene. Many of you listening have probably done one yourself.
But why exactly have obstacle races, known as OCRs, exploded in popularity in recent times?
Why do millions of affluent suburbanites pay as much as $200 to have their bodies bruised and banged and sometimes subjected to extreme cold, electrical shocks, and even tear gas?
My guest today has spent the past few years exploring that question and he’s made a documentary sharing the answers he’s found.
His name is Scott Keneally and his documentary is called Rise of the Sufferfests. In today's show, Scott and I discuss how the little-known origins of obstacle racing can be traced to a farm in England, how enterprising businessmen turned that idea into a multi-billion dollar industry, and the cultural forces that have provided the soil for obstacle courses to grow so rapidly. We also discuss the criticism levied at obstacle racing and what Scott thinks the future holds for OCRs.
#236: What the Generational Cycle Theory Can Tell Us About Our Present Age
In the 1990s, Howe, along with co-author William Strauss, published two books, Generations and The Fourth Turning, which set out a bold and fascinating theory: that history can be broken down into 4 phases, and 4 generational archetypes that repeat themselves over and over every 80 or so years.
What are the characteristics of the generational archetype you belong to? What historical phase are we in now, and what does the Strauss-Howe theory predict is likely to happen to the geo-political and economic landscape in the next decade?
My guest today on the podcast did a firsthand investigation of the fascinating history of military research and shared her findings in a highly readable and entertaining book. Her name is Mary Roach and she’s the author of "Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War." Today on the show, Mary gives us a look inside the military fashion departments that create uniforms that keep soldiers cool, comfortable, and protected from chemical weapons, all while still looking good, unpacks why diarrhea has always been one of the biggest threats in war, and discusses why conquering the need to sleep has been a goal of militaries around the world for ages.
#234: Haggling and Deal Making Advice From a FBI Hostage Negotiator
If you’re like most people who grew up in the West, particularly America, negotiation might make you uncomfortable because it’s really not part of the culture. The price someone asks is usually the price we pay.
But negotiation is something all of us will have to do at one time or another. A job salary or car price are two obvious examples that come to mind.
The problem is the way most folks go about haggling when they do have to negotiate is often counter-productive. For example, it’s typically assumed the best way to negotiate is to quickly get to yes and make compromises. But what if the better approach is to make “no” your goal and to never split the difference?
Well, that’s what my guest on the show today argues. And his insights have been field tested in truly critical situations. His name is Chris Voss, and he’s a former lead international kidnapping negotiator and the author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As if Your Life Depended On It. Today on the show, Chris shares tactics and strategies he developed to better negotiate with kidnappers that can work in the civilian world. And many of his tips run counter to what you've probably been taught. If you’re looking to become a better haggler, you’re going to love this episode. It’s packed with tons of actionable advice.
#233: Diet and Nutrition Advice From the Doctor of Gains
Today on the show, we cut through all the confusion when it comes to nutrition and fitness by talking to an actual Doctor of Gains. His name is Jordan Feigenbaum. He’s a Starting Strength Coach, diet consultant for some of the best competitive powerlifters and CrossFit athletes in the world, and a medical doctor currently doing his residency at UCLA.
Jordan I discuss why barbell training is the best medicine for overall fitness, the best way to approach diet for strength training, and why you can’t gain strength and muscle while simultaneously losing fat. We also discuss which supplements are the biggest waste of money and which ones are actually scientifically proven to work. This episode is jam-packed with actionable information, so be sure to take notes.
#232: Become the Chief Financial Officer of Family Inc.
My guest today on the show argues that in order to get a big picture view of your finances, you need to start looking at your family as a business and yourself as the Chief Financial Officer of Family Inc. His name is Doug McCormick and he’s a professional investor and the author of "Family Inc.: Using Business Principles to Maximize Your Family’s Wealth."
Today on the show, Doug and I discuss the two types of assets you’re managing as the CFO of your family, and the business principles you can apply in your family "enterprise" to help them grow. We also discuss the metrics that corporate CFOs use to determine the health of a company and how you can use the same ones to measure the health of your family’s finances.
#231: How the Ghosts of Tradition Inspired Ancient Military Might
The armies of ancient Greece and Rome have gained legendary status. Both militaries successfully conquered much of the known world in their respective eras.
But what made them so formidable? Technological innovation? Novel strategies? Plain old grit?
My guest today on the podcast argues that it was the Greek and Roman armies’ reverence for their mythic pasts that made them great. His name is J.E. Lendon (he goes by Ted). He’s a classical scholar and the author of "Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity."
What can you do to de-escalate potentially violent confrontations so things don't come to fist blows? How do you deal with people who get in your face and act in verbally belligerent ways? My guest today has spent his career studying the psychology of aggressive people and how to handle them. His name is Shawn Smith, and he's a psychologist, and the author of the book "Surviving Aggressive People: Practical Violence Prevention Skills for the Workplace and the Street."
The popular idea out there is that women are more social than men and men are more competitive than women. What’s more, these tendencies are socially conditioned rather than biologically innate.
But what if it’s the other way around?
My guest today is a psychologist who has spent thirty years researching the differences between how boys and girls socialize, and she’s discovered that many ideas that people have on the subject are completely wrong. Her name is Joyce Benenson and she’s the author of the book Warriors and Worriers: The Survival of the Sexes. Today on the show Joyce and I discuss the biological origins of male and female socialization, why men prefer all-male groups, and why women can be just as, if not more competitive, as men. We also discuss how men compete to cooperate and why men can make up much faster with an enemy than women can.
I've had several Navy SEALs on the podcast, because as the SEALs are one of the world's last bastions of unabashed manliness, they have a lot to teach modern men. My previous SEAL guests have talked about how the lessons they learned from being a special operator can apply to gaining greater resilience, navigating the business world, and even parenting. In these interviews, we talked a little about their SEAL training. But in today’s episode, we're really get into the nitty gritty of that training, and talk about the specifics of what it takes to become a Navy SEAL. My guest today is Rorke Denver. He’s a Navy SEAL commander and the author of two books: Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior and Worth Dying For: A Navy SEAL’s Call to Action. Today on the show Rorke and I discuss the intense training that goes into becoming a SEAL as well as what lessons civilians can take from the SEALs on leadership, sacrifice, and duty.
#227: The Art & Science of Loving the Place You Live
How can you learn to love the place you live, even if you don’t feel it's the place of your dreams, or the most ideal location?
My guest today spent a year researching the burgeoning science of what's called "place attachment" in order to answer that question. Her name is Melody Warnick and she’s the author of This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live. On the show Melody and I discuss what “place attachment” is and what you can do to have more of it for the place you live. This is a great podcast filled with some extremely actionable advice.
When it comes to the factors that lead to success, there’s a tendency in folks to discount the role of luck. We like to think we’re the complete masters of our fortune -- that we can control everything that happens to us and make our own luck. But by not giving luck its due, we actually prevent ourselves from effectively managing this force so we can experience success in the long run.
My guest today has written a book on the math of success, skill, and luck. His name is Michael Mauboussin and he’s the author of "The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing."
Bonds. James Bond.
007 is a masculine film icon - handsome, debonair, and dangerous, and epitomizes the French idea of savoir faire, which is the ability to know what to do in absolutely any situation.
Bond is so manly, that it'd be easy to think he's solely the creation of author Ian Fleming's imagination. But in fact, Bond was inspired by a real life WWII spy named Dusko Popov. My guest today, Larry Loftis, has written a new book about that spy who's life story is actually even more interesting than any fiction could hope to be.
#224: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things With Malcolm Gladwell
Why do smart people do dumb things?
This is one of the many questions my guest has explored during his writing career. His name Malcom Gladwell, writer at the New Yorker, author of several New York Times Bestselling books, and now host of the podcast Revisionist History. Today on the podcast, Malcom and I explore the question of smart people doing dumb things by looking at the basketball career of Wilt Chamberlin. We discuss how Wilt discovered a way to increase his free-throw shooting percentage dramatically, but why he consciously decided not to continue using that technique.
In the American Revolution, two figures stand in stark contrast to each other: George Washington and Benedict Arnold. What few Americans know is at the start of the War of Independence, Washington was a blundering general, while Arnold was one of the colonies’ very best. How is it that Washington transformed himself into one of America's greatest leaders while Arnold ended up betraying his countrymen?
That’s what my guest today, Nathaniel Philbrick, explores in his book "Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution."
To the layman, financial investing can look extremely complicated. And while financial markets are certainly complex, the rules governing sound investment are actually pretty simple. The problem most people have is following those rules. It’s all about behavior.
My guest today is a behavioral finance expert who has recently published a book crammed with practical advice to help investors from all walks of life have better investing behavior. His name is Daniel Crosby and his book is The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the Secret to Investing Success.
Where goes greatness come from? Why was Ted Williams the greatest hitter in the history of baseball? What made Mozart one of history's most talented composers?
The typical answer is that greatness is innate - some people are just born with extraordinary gifts and talents. Recent research though is turning that on its head. Greatness is actually the result of years of hard, deliberate practice.
My guest today has been on the forefront of this research on expertise. Anders Ericsson is on the show today to talk about this new book, "Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise."
#220: Tyrants-- A History of Power, Injustice, & Terror
Since the days of Ancient Greece, a battle between two political forces has been going on in the West: democracy vs. tyranny.
But what makes a tyrant a tyrant? How has tyranny changed throughout Western history? And what is its connection to masculinity?
My guest today, Waller Newell, has recently published a book that explores these questions.
#219: The Real Life Story of Hemingway and The Sun Also Rises
Ernest Hemingway is a literary legend, but unlike many literary legends, he gained that status while at the very beginning of his career when he introduced his first novel, The Sun Also Rises.
My guest today has published a detailed account of how Hemingway created his first novel. Her name is Lesley Blume and her book is "Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises." Today on the show, Lesley and I discuss Hemingway’s drive to revolutionize literature, the authenticity of his manly persona, and the real life party in Spain that inspired his classic debut novel.
Hosting guests, letter writing, and going out on real dates are often seen as old-fashioned practices that are no longer needed in an age when folks can book an Airbnb room instead of crashing at your pad, you can communicate instantaneously via email or text, and your next girlfriend is just a Tinder swipe away.
But my guest today argues that the refinement of civilization requires that we still continue these supposedly old-fashioned practices. His name is Mitchell Kalpakgian and he’s the author of "The Lost Arts of Modern Civilization: How to Taste and See the Abundance of Life."
Today on the show, we discuss what Homer can teach us about being a good host, why writing letters by hand will always beat email, and why you might consider resurrecting the forgotten art of courtship.
What if belonging to a tight-knit group that requires loyalty and self-sacrifice is the key to feeling fulfilled and wholly human?
That’s the argument that my guest makes in his latest book. His name is Sebastian Junger. In his book, "Tribe," Junger uses his firsthand experience as a war reporter as a starting point in exploring the vital human need to belong to a group. In today’s show, Sebastian and I discuss how humans are wired for tribalism, how males bond, and whether or not it’s possible to recapture tribe in a large and prosperous society.
One of the things that makes humans, well, human is the ability to make a fist. Other primates can’t do this. The commonly accepted theory as to why humans developed the ability to make a fist is that they needed to do so in order to grasp tools.
But research conducted by my guests today have led them to posit a very different theory. They argue that the reason we can make a fist is so we can give better knuckle sandwiches.
Their names are Dr. David Carrier and Dr. Michael Morgan. Today on the show, we discuss that idea and the theory that human bodies, especially male bodies, evolved for fighting.
#215: Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction
A common complaint of the modern age is the sense of distraction and lack of focus that pervades our lives. We typically blame technology like the internet or smartphones for our inability to concentrate on the task at hand. But my guest today argues that the culture of distraction we face runs much deeper than that and actually began several hundred years ago with the Enlightenment.
His name is Matthew Crawford, and he’s the author of Shop Class as Soulcraft as well as his latest book The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming Human in an Age of Distraction. Today on the show, Matthew and I discuss the origins of our distracted culture and the deeper implications of lives lived totally inside our own heads.
We've all had those days where everything seems to go just right. We set goals for ourselves and we accomplish them. Instead of frittering away our time on YouTube, we're focused and get work done. It's easy to attribute these sorts of days to luck, but my guest today argues that research from behavioral economics and psychology can show us how we can consistently have more of these good days.
Her name is Caroline Webb and she's the author of How to Have a Good Day. Today on the show, we discuss how to set goals in the morning and put them into action, how to reduce cognitive overload so you can make better decisions, and how to deal with irksome people and setbacks so they don't ruin your day.
If you're like most men who work a 9-5 job at an office, you're probably spending a lot of that time sitting down at a desk. Then when you get home, you might be a little active, but then you'll sit down at your desk in your home office, or you'll sit on the couch and watch TV. All that sitting is not good for your body. Some doctors even say it does as much damage to your body as smoking does.
My guest today highlights all this research in a new book called Deskbound. In the show, Kelly Starrett and I discuss the dangers of sitting, and what you can do to un-do all that damage. There are a lot of great action steps that you can take right away. Don't miss it!
In the quest to become the men we want to be, we're often our own worst enemy, especially when it comes to our egos. Our ego is prevents us from being humble and teachable when we're first starting out on an endeavor, it blinds us to our own weaknesses in times of success, and it can cause us to wallow in self-pity when we fail.
My guest today is Ryan Holiday and in his latest book, Ego is the Enemy, he discusses how ego can thwart our personal progress and success as men. Today on the show we look at examples from history of men whose hubris caused their downfall and other men who were able to successfully harness their ego to attain greatness. Along the way we provide actionable steps to prevent ego from becoming your enemy.
#211: Ask Frances - Difficult Conversations, Small Talk, and Charisma
A few months back, we had Frances Cole Jones on the show. She's the author of How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Selling Your Brilliant Self in Any Situation.
At the end of that show, Frances directed our listeners to her website to ask her any question about how to better present oneself. She was flooded with questions from AoM podcast listeners, and today I have Frances back on the show to answer some of those.
We cover difficult conversations, how to bolster your small talk skills, and specific tips for developing your charisma.
Why are some people more successful than others? It's a tough question to answer because it relies on a number of factors, many which are out of our control -- like genetics and plain old luck. But there are a few factors that we have a say in -- one of those being the ability to persevere even in the face of setbacks. Otherwise known as grit.
My guest today, Professor Angela Duckworth, has spent her career researching this trait, and in today's show we discuss her new book, Grit, and the ways we can increase this trait in our ives.
#209: Raising Men: What Navy SEALs Teach Their Sons
A special Father's Day edition of the art of Manliness Podcast. Retired Navy SEAL Eric Davis talks to us about his book Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught Their Sons. We discuss lessons from SEAL training on teaching your kids personal responsibility, mental toughness, and leadership.
#208: Trout Fishing, Boredom, and the Meaning of Life
Fishing has been used as a backdrop in both film and literature for finding the meaning of life and coming-of-age stories (A Rive Runs Through It comes to mind). But these fishing-as-life metaphors often become trite, losing some of their significance.
My guest today wanted to write a book about fishing that's not about fishing. He wanted to suss out philosophical and life ideas without making the fishing metaphor trite. And I think he did a darn good job.
His name is Mark Kingwell, and in his book Catch and Release, he explores his newfound love of fishing. Within that, he also explores the themes of masculinity, boredom, procrastination, and more.
#207: Primal Endurance - Become a Fat-Burning Beast
Are you an endurance athlete unhappy with your stalled performance? Are you constantly battling aches and pains? Are you running 30 or 40 miles a week, but still can’t get rid of your spare tire around your mid-section?
If so, this episode is for you.
Today on the show I have Mark Sisson on to talk about his latest book Primal Endurance. We discuss the well-entrenched endurance training myths that many athletes follow that result in sub-par performance and the counter-intuitive programming and dieting protocols you need to follow to break through your performance wall.
#206: Extreme Ownership - Leadership Lessons from a Navy SEAL
We live in a time of uncertainty and complexity. Things are always changing; whether it's business, politics, or life in general, you're having to constantly adapt and make decisions, even when you don't have all the information. This complexity is at its peak during combat, and us civilians are in for a treat today because my guest has gleaned lessons on dealing uncertain situations from his own time in the military.
Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL officer who served and led in the Battle of Ramadi. During his time in Iraq, he developed and taught other men how to lead in times of extreme complexity, which led to his book, Extreme Ownership. Today on the show we talk about decision making, self-discipline, and much more.
#205: Seven Brothers, the Merchant Marine, and the War Against Hitler's U-boats
You've probably heard of the great battles fought in Europe and the Pacific during WWII, but did you know that part of WWII was fought just miles off the coast of the United States? And that the men taking part in these battles were civilians?
Well, my guest today has published a book about this oft forgotten of WWII history. His name is William Geroux and his book is The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-boats.
Today on the show, William and I discuss the U.S. Merchant Marine and their important role during WWII and why they were targets for German U-boats off the coast of the United States. We also discuss why Mathews County Virginia produced so many merchant mariners during WWII and the family from Mathews County that produced 15 men who took part in the merchant marine war.
There are tons of books about how to be happier, how to improve yourself, how to be less angry, etc. These books often tout things you should add to your life to get to where you want. But sometimes the best way to achieve a goal is to actually subtract something from your life, and to stop doing the things that are making you miserable.
That's the approach today's guest took in his latest book, How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use. His name is Randy Paterson, and he's a psychologist. Today on the show, we discuss the things he's seen with his patients -- common lifestyle choices and thinking patterns -- that make them miserable, and what you can do to eliminate those things from your life.
#203: The Real Life Most Interesting Man in the World
You've probably all seen the Dos Equis 'Most Interesting Man in the World' commercials. He goes on great adventures, has tremendous stories to tell, is friends with the rich and famous, etc.
The Dos Equis man is a fictional character. But here's the thing: there was a man from 19th century who would put the Most Interesting Man in the World to shame. And you've probably never heard of him. Frederick Russell Burnham was a world-famous scout, took part in multiple wars all around the world, prospected for gold and oil and jewels in the world's roughest environments, and befriended Teddy Roosevelt amongst many other famous men of the era.
There's a new book about his life called The Splendid Savage, written by Steve Kemper. Today on the show we discuss Frederick Russell Burnham, including what drove him to take part in all these adventures and what men today can learn from his life.
If you're an endurance athlete, you probably experience the wall - that moment in the race when you're pushing yourself really hard and your body just tells you, "Enough. You can't go on." The same can be said for strength trainers too - you're lifting a weight that's been easy before, but now feels too heavy to complete. So you wonder if it's maybe your body telling you you've had enough, and it's time for a rest.
But what if that's all in your mind? What if your body can go further and push itself harder? My guest today has written a book that focuses on recent research regarding mind over muscle - how we can push ourselves beyond what we think we're capable of by using a few neurological principles. His name is Matt Fitzgerald, and his book is called How Bad Do You Want It?
If you're a dad, or plan on being one someday, you probably have some advice or principles that you'd like to pass on to your children so that they can grow up to be well-adjusted adults. My guest today has not only passed along his wisdom, but compiled it into a couple books. His name is Walker Lamond, and I first had him on the show back in 2009 to discuss his popular book, Rules for My Unborn Son, which lays out style advice, etiquette tips, and all kinds of other principles that he wanted to pass along to his son. On today's show, we talk about how that journey is going with Walker's 8-year-old son.
We also talk about his new book, Rules for My Newborn Daughter. We talk about fatherhood, and how it's different for a daughter vs a son, as well as a ton of other dadhood and parenthood topics.
#200: The Virgin Vote - Masculinity & Politics in the 19th Century
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.
Last year I put a garage gym in my house. It's been fantastic, but it's not without its problems. For starters, there's the issue of space. How do you cram in a gym when you have to fit a car in your garage as well? The start up costs for a garage gym are hardly anything to flinch at. How can you save money on equipment without skimping on quality? Which equipment do you actually need? The other issue is just motivating yourself when working out by yourself. How do you motivate yourself to workout when it's just you in your garage and it's dark and 30 degrees outside?
My guest today, he has spent his career doing garage gyms and helping people transition to garage gyms. His name is Jared Moon. He's written a lot of content for our site on how to make DIY fitness equipment, like the ever popular DIY prowler. He's got a new book out called Garage Gym Athlete. Today on the podcast, we're going to talk about how to become a garage gym athlete: the pros and cons of garage gyms, the math of garage gyms, the economics of garage gyms, why it might be more affordable than a regular gym, and how to motivate yourself when you're working out by yourself. If you've been thinking about switching over to a garage gym, this podcast might finally push you over the edge.
Most of us living in modern, western democracies live relatively safe lives. We're not having to constantly protect ourselves from marauding, blood thirsty tribes or fend off criminals at every corner.
There's always the possibility that our life would be threatened by another human being. What should we do in those situations given the ethical, moral, and legal implications of defending ourselves?
Well, my guest today has spent the past 40 years studying and teaching about this topic. His name is Tony Blauer and he's the founder of the SPEAR self-defense system. Today on the podcast, Tony and I discuss how to get better at detecting and defusing threats and what you need to do to become a human weapon.
What does it mean to live a “life of the mind?”
Why is it important that we make time to ponder and contemplate the heftier ideas of what it means to be a human?
And if we have the desire to lead a contemplative life, how exactly do we go about doing it?
Well, my guest today has spent his life pondering and thinking about these questions. His name is Father James Schall. He’s a Jesuit priest and philosopher and the Professor of Political Philosophy at Georgetown University. Father Schall has written on a wide variety of topics, but today on the show we focus on his book The Life of the Mind: On the Joys and Travails of Thinking in which he elucidates on ways of approaching thinking so that it delights and edifies us. Today on the the show, Fr. Schall and I discuss what it means to take part in the Great Conversation, why the life the mind has some drudgery to it, and brass-tacks things we can all do to live a more thoughtful and contemplative life.
#196: The Science of Self-Motivation and Productivity
You want to be more productive. You want do more, in less time, so you can spend time doing the things you actually want to do. So we read articles and books on productivity, and have the best of intentions, but too often we just find ourselves spinning our wheels. You can't self-motivate to do the things you know you should be doing. If that describes you, you'll love this podcast. My guest today is Charles Duhigg. We had him on before to talk about The Power of Habit, and today we're talking about his new book, Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business.
This isn't your standard self-help book. Rather than relying on old platitudes, Duhigg turns to science and real-world examples of motivation and productivity. We also get into the nitty gritty and give you solid tips on how you can improve your day-to-day life and work.
During World War II the Greek island of Crete was occupied by the Nazis and was a strategic stronghold. To take back the island, Great Britain created a small band of misfit resistance fighters consisting of poets, historians, and Cretan shepherds. Their job was to muck things up for the Nazis, but one day they decided to do something completely audacious: kidnap a German general and get him off the island.
Against all the odds, they accomplished their mission.
How’d they do it?
My guest today on the podcast went to Crete to follow in the footsteps of these WWII resistance fighters and along the way discovered that they had tapped into the ancient Greek art of the hero. His name is Christopher McDougall and in his book Natural Born Heroes, he takes readers on a whirlwind tour through history, psychology, and fitness to show how these clever, courageous Englishmen emulated Odysseys and other Greek heroes and what regular Joes can do to live more heroically. In today’s episode, Chris and I discuss the mindset, the virtues, and the skills needed to become an ancient Greek hero.
If you've been following the Art of Manliness for a while, you know we're big fans of Theodore Roosevelt. There's a new biography out about him that talks about his work as a natural historian, conservationist, hunter, etc., and it uses TR's own field notes as the primary source.
It's called 'Theodore Roosevelt in the Field,' and on today's show author Michael Canfield and I discuss what we can learn about Roosevelt's approach to life from his field notes, how this note-taking honed his keen sense of observation, and of course, the lessons that men can take from his adventurous life.
It's become an article of faith in our modern world that if you're feeling depressed, unmotivated, angry, anxious, etc., what you need to do is think about why you're feeling that way, which will resolve it. But what if thinking about your feelings all the time actually makes the problem worse? That's what my guests today argue. Michael and Sarah Bennett, the father-daughter team who wrote the book F*ck Feelings, are here to talk about why thinking about feelings can be unproductive, and what to do instead.
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.
Have you ever met someone who has a job that seems like something they were born to do? Not only do their skills match up with their job, but they genuinely enjoy their work. Now you might think it's just plain luck that landed them their career, but my guest today has written a book about how you can turn the odds more in your favor in the career lottery. Chris Guillebeau's latest book is called Born For This. In this show, Chris shares brass tacks advice on finding work you love. Don't miss it.
Have you ever thought your life was a little too routine and safe? Maybe you feel like you've never had a chance to test your mettle and see how you'd respond in a chaotic situation. Would you break or would you rise to the challenge? My guest today on the podcast had those same feelings, and decided to do something about it by becoming a paramedic in Atlanta. He was thrown into a world of violence, addiction, and mangled bodies. His name is Kevin Hazzard, and he's the author of 'A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic's Wild Ride to the Edge and Back.'
Do you feel like your ability to think deeply about issues is hampered because you lack an intellectual foundation? Do you want your intellectual life to be imbued with more texture and nuance? If you answered yes to these questions, then it's time to start acquiring the classical education you never had. My guest today on the podcast, Susan Bauer, will show you how to get started. She's the author of The Well Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. We discuss what a classical education is, the benefits of it, and how you can create your own curriculum for yourself which can accommodate even the busiest of schedules.
#188: Raising Children Who Are the Opposite of Spoiled
As a parent, one of my goals is to raise children who aren't spoiled. I want them to be grounded, generous, and savvy when it comes to money and consumption. I want them to make the most of their money, without it controlling them. My guest today, author and New York Times columnist Ron Lieber, has written a book full of research-backed tips on teaching your children important personal finance lessons.
#187: Improving Strength & Durability With the Kabuki Movement System
If you lift weights, you're going to love this episode. (And even if you don't, you'll get something out of it!) A few months ago, I had powerlifter Chris Duffin on the show to discuss his inspiring story of overcoming childhood poverty to become one of the strongest men on earth. I've brought him back on to talk about his recently released Kabuki Movement System. Utilizing the brightest body mechanics minds on the planet, he's developed a training system that makes the most of one's body, as well as reduces injury risk.
Ol' Blue Eyes, the Chairman of the Board, the Voice. Frank Sinatra has been an icon of masculine coolness and swagger for decades. During his lifetime, he was able to create a myth and legend around himself that continues to exist today. But, like all legends, when you look closer at them, you discover that the reality is much more complex than the story. Today I talk with Sinatra biographer Frank Kaplan.
So, what is character? We always talk about wanting to develop good character, but what exactly does that mean? And once you figure out what it is, how do you go about developing it? Those are the questions my guest today, Chad Hennings, tries to answer in his book, Forces of Character.
#184: Using Behavioral Psychology for a Rich Life With Ramit Sethi
You know the old song and dance.
You set a goal for yourself- lose weight, pay off your debt, ask that woman out-- but something holds you back from taking action. Or if you do take action, you flame out in a week. So you do more research on your goal, hoping that you'll find the one piece of information that will guarantee success. But you fail again.
What if instead of more thinking, achieving your goal requires more feeling?
That's what my guest today on the podcast argues. His name is Ramit Sethi and he's the owner of the website I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Today on the show, Ramit and I discuss what we can learn from behavioral psychology to help us achieve our goals, whether it's losing weight or asking for a raise.We talk about why you should focus on big wins in life and Ramit gives us an exact script to follow when asking for a raise. Lots of actionable steps in this podcast. You'll want to take notes.
If you're like most people in America, you probably took PE during your school-age years. It was probably required, and also an easy "A." You spent 45 minutes playing some sport, and it was a blow off class. During the 1960s, though, La Sierra High in California developed an intense physical fitness program under the direction of Coach Stan LeProtti. He was inspired by the physical training of the Ancient Greeks, and wanted to develop strong young people who'd go on to be strong, useful citizens. My guests on the podcast today, Doug Orchard and Ron Jones, are making a documentary on this forgotten program. We discuss the history of that La Sierra program, its effects on those kids, the routines they were doing, and what this film can do for PE today.
#182: Continuing the Mission of Service and Brotherhood
In Charlie Mike, Time magazine columnist Joe Klein tells the dramatic stories of how two veteran organizations dedicated to service began and how these groups gave many struggling vets the sense of purpose and camaraderie that they ached for since returning home. Today on the podcast, I talk to Joe about Team Rubicon— a veteran organization that does natural disaster response around the world– and The Mission Continues— an organization founded by retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens that funds volunteer work done by vets. Joe and I discuss the men behind these groups, the work they do, and how throwing themselves to the service to others helped many struggling combat vets overcome the demons of war.
Throughout human history there have been pockets of genius around the world. You had Athens with Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. During the Enlightenment, Edinburgh, Scotland produced a lot of great thinkers who influenced the modern world. And today, Silicon Valley seems to have a concentration of extremely smart and talented people. Why do these pockets of genius seem of occur? What was it about these places? My guest today wanted to find out. Eric Weiner is the author of The Geography of Genius, and on today's show we talk about his book.
#180: Establishing a Modern Day Homestead and Unschooling
There's probably listeners out there who homeschool their kids using a curriculum that you've developed or bought online. But there's another type of homeschooling that doesn't use a curriculum, and it's called unschooling. It's a fascinating concept in which you have your kids at home, but put them in situations where they need to use problem solving skills and math and other subjects to complete a task at hand. My guest today, Ben Hewitt, has unschooled his two boys, and on the show we talk about how and why they've chosen this lifestyle.
#179: The Science of Cheating -- How to Prevent and Deal With Infidelity
I talk to relationship expert Duana Welch about what science says about when relationships go wrong. We tackle infidelity, porn use, how to break-up, and even how the death of a significant other effects men. Duana and I get into the nitty gritty in this show. You don't want to miss this one.
Several years ago we published an article about famous "mastermind groups" from history. One of them was a group of British scholars called The Inklings. From this group came two of the 20th century's most famous English writers: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. After I first learned about the Inklings, I wanted to dig deeper into this male-only writer's club to find out more about each individual and the group's effect on their respective lives and careers. In The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, husband and wife team Philip and Carol Zaleski profile the four most prominent members of the Inklings (Lewis and Tolkien, along with Owen Barfield and Charles Williams), how the group started, and how its dynamics changed over its 30-year history.
In today's podcast, I talk to Philip and Carol about the history of the Inklings and what we can learn from them about forming our own mastermind groups.
I'm a barbell guy. That's what I do for my strength training. But I know a lot of listeners love bodyweight exercises. You can do it anywhere, it saves you money, and it's incredibly functional. So there are a lot of benefits, but I've never really been able to find a good bodyweight program. But I came across a book called Homemade Muscle by Anthony Arvanitakis which builds periodization into bodyweight programming. He's got an amazing story, which we'll talk about, as well as the nitty-gritty of bodyweights.
In the past 20 years, there's been all kinds of research about declining community life in America. Participation in PTAs, civic clubs, even bowling leagues is on the decline, and Americans don't really know who their neighbors are anymore. My guest today argues that what we're seeing is a transformation in how people organize themselves socially. Why people are doing this, and how it affects our society, is what author Marc Dunkelman ("The Vanishing Neighbor") and I talk about.
Are you an entrepreneur or a manager, and you feel like every day at work you're just putting out fires? Or in your personal life, you go home and it's just crisis after crisis that needs fixing. And so you try to manage this trouble-shooting by getting more efficient at putting out those fires. What if the real answer though is not greater efficiency, but instead a way of looking at your life as a series of systems? That's what today's guest, Sam Carpenter, argues. On the show we talk about his book, Work the System, and how everyone can benefit from systemizing their work and life.
Since I started the site in 2008, I've read a lot of books about men's style. And one of the most fun, engaging, and witty books on the topic I've come across is called Men's Style: A Thinking Man's Guide to Dress. It's by a columnist and novelist named Russell Smith. Today on the show we discuss the philosophy of style, the history of it, why the great men of history were concerned about how they look, and why we should care today. We also get into practical tips on suits, shirts, shoes, etc.
#173: Date-onomics -- How Skewed Sex Ratios on College Campuses Are Affecting Courtship and Marriage
In the past forty years we've seen dramatic changes in the way people date and marry. From the hook-up culture on college campuses to young adults putting off marriage longer and longer, a lot of explanations have been offered that focus on changing values in our country. But my guest today on the podcast argues that perhaps changing demographics has more to do with changing mating patterns in the West. His name is Jon Birger and he's the author of the book Date-onoics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game. Today on the podcast Jon and I discuss how changing sex ratios influences everything from delaying marriage to the hook-up culture.
#172: Scottish Highland Games & Training for Performance
You've probably seen on TV or online the Highland Games: guys in kilts throwing giant logs, tossing hammers over their heads, etc. It's a fascinating strength competition, and one I've long wanted to learn more about and get in touch with my Scottish roots. Today on the show I'm talking with a Highland Games competitor named Matt Vincent. We talk what goes into training, how to get started with events if you're interested, a workout program called The Hate, and much more.
All of us are going to die someday. And we're all going to have loved ones who will die from disease or old age. In fact, some of you listening right now may be dying yourself or watching a loved one die.
But the thing is most modern Westerners aren't prepared for the actual event of dying because we've done such a great job cordoning it off from the rest of life. If you're a young person, you've likely never seen a person die because we typically die in hospitals.
Consequently, there are lot of myths and misconceptions about the dying process. Also a lot of fear- both for the person dying and those watching them die.
But my guest today has made it her career educating people about the dying process and showing people that it's more than a medical event. Her name is Barbara Karnes. She's a hospice nurse and the author of several books about dying and how to bring it back to the natural part of life that it is.
Today on the podcast Barbara and I get into what to expect when you're in the twilight of life and how you can make the experience less scary and even more meaningful.
One of my favorite writers online is Steve Kamb, who operates a fitness website called Nerd Fitness. What I love about Steve is that he's made fitness accessible and fun to people who otherwise wouldn't be interested in physical fitness or strength training. He takes inspiration from video games, pop culture, comic books, etc. and creates workouts and life lessons. He just wrote a book called Level Up Your Life, and on the show we talk about how video games can be a template for leading a better and more fulfilling life.
#169: The Psychology of Scam Artists & How Not to Get Duped
We've probably all seen some sort of scam or fraud in the news (Bernie Madoff), or even in our email inbox (that Nigerian prince). We tend to think we're way too smart to fall for those cons and tell ourselves "That could never happen to me." Well our guest today wrote a book that says that might not be the case. Her name is Maria Konnikova and her book is called The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It Every Time. She looks at the psychology of scams and what scam artists do to get inside our brains. And in this episode, we talk about that, as well as how to scam-proof your life.
#168: The Value of Deep Work in the Age of Distraction
Have you ever spent an entire day at work feeling really busy, checking emails, reading your news feed -- and at the end of the day you realize, "Man, I really wasn't all that productive." You felt busy but your brain was fuzzy and didn't end up doing all that much.
If that sounds familiar, today's show is for you. My guest, Cal Newport, has a new book out called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. I'm not joking when I say this has been a life-changing book for me. We talk about the principles of deep work, plus the nuts and bolts of being more focused with your day.
#167: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport
Sports is a multi-billion dollar industry. Hundreds of millions of people consumer this entertainment either live or on TV, and athletes are paid millions for what they do. But all this started with the super exciting sport of competitive walking. You read that right.
My guest today is Matthew Algeo, and he's written a book called Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport. It's a fascinating bit of lost American history, and on today's show, Algeo and I discuss competitive walking, and its larger implications and influences on sports today.
#166: Self, Soul, and Living a More Idealistic Life
One of my favorite books I read last year is called Self & Soul: A Defense of Ideals by a professor named Mark Edmundson. He makes the argument that in the West, our commitment to ideals (the Soul) is fading, and we're becoming a culture of the Self -- desiring comfort, safety, and materialism over the ancient ideals of courage, compassion, and contemplation. In today's podcast we discuss ancient ideals, the cultural history of the decline of ideals, and how we can revive Soul in the modern wold.
One of the biggest sources of contention in marriages is money. The reason for that is because people come into marriage with very different ideas about how money should be managed, saved, spent, etc. My guests today, Derek and Carrie Olsen, are a couple who had a big financial catastrophe at the beginning of their relationship. On today's show, we talk about their book One Bed, One Bank Account.
I talk to media and image consultant Frances Cole Jones about how to put your best foot forward in your personal life and business. Lots of great actionable steps to help you make a great first impression.
If you've read Band of Brothers or watched the miniseries, you're familiar with the name Dick Winters. He was part of that famous airborne division which was so crucial in so many pieces of WWII. We've written a lot about the Band of Brothers here on AoM, and each one had something unique that set them apart from the others. What set Dick Winters apart was his leadership abilities. Our guest on today's podcast, Colonel Cole Kingseed, was a good friend of Major Winters in his later years, and even helped him write his memoirs. After Winters died, Kingseed wrote his own book called Conversations With Dick Winters, which we talk about on the show.
#162: Digital Manners & Etiquette For the Modern Man With Daniel Post Senning
We've probably all heard of Emily Post, who wrote an etiquette book back in the 1920s that became world-famous. Her work of encouraging good manners and etiquette continues today with her family at the Emily Post Institute. Today on the show I have Emily Post's great-great-grandson Daniel Post Senning to discuss etiquette for men, as well as digital etiquette in this world of smartphones, emails, etc.
#161: Turning Boys Into Men: The Power of Mentoring
A while back I got an email from an AoM reader named Jareem Gunter. He does a lot of mentoring for at-risk youth in Oakland, CA. He's released a book called The Man Book, which I contributed to, and is full of skills for young men to succeed in the world. On this podcast, we talk about that book, as well as the topic of mentoring, and why it's so important not only for young men, but older men too.
#160: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make You Healthier, Happier, and Smarter
For the past year I've been doing a lot of research on the benefits of face-to-face conversation, and looking for more ways to incorporate it into my own life. One of the books that really helped is called The Village Effect by Susan Pinker. She highlights not only psychological, but physiological benefits of face-to-face contact. It makes us healthier, happier, and smarter, and we talk about how to get more of it in your life.
Last year I got an email out of the blue from a guy named Tod Moore inviting me to a weekend of doing various man skills: shooting guns, butchering animals, doing obstacle races. Of course, I was in. The event was called the Vanguard, which was put on by a gym in Austin, Texas called Atomic Athlete. Their goal is overall strength and conditioning, and on today's show, I talk to the two founders of the gym about lifting, conditioning, the psychology of strength, and more.
#158: The Prime of Life -- What It Means to Be an Adult
There's been a transformation in the West about what it means to be a grown up. There used to be scripts to follow, and markers to meet which would mean you're an adult. But those scripts have been thrown out the window, and now it's confusing for young people to know if they've entered adulthood. My guest today takes us on a whirlwind tour of modern adulthood, going back to the 1500s. His name is Steven Mintz, and he's a professor of history at the University of Texas.
Winter is coming. If you like to be in the outdoors, one thing you need to start thinking about is what would happen if you were stuck in the wilderness with nothing but your wits. Would you be able to survive the harshness of the cold? A lot of survival resources gloss over what you do in cold environs. My guest today is Dave Hall, and he's written a book about just that, called Winter In the Wilderness. We talk about shelter, how to get water, building a fire, surviving hypothermia, and more.
#156: Lost Detective - The Life and Times of Dashiell Hammett
If you enjoy shows like The Wire or True Detective, or film noir, there's one guy you can thank for that: Dashiell Hammett. He was a writer in the 1920s-1940s, and he is the guy who created the modern detective. He took the entire genre into the modern era. And Hammett was able to do this because he was in fact a detective for the Pinkerton agency before becoming a writer. My guest today, Nathan Ward, has written a book called The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett. We discuss how Hammett's experience paved the way for the modern American detective in entertainment.
More and more today, we're communicating with the people in our lives through screens. While this has greatly improved efficiency, there are some drawbacks that have come with the decline in face-to-face conversation. My guest today, Sherry Turkle, has written a book (Reclaiming Conversation) about what we're missing when we don't engage with people in face-to-face conversation. In today's show we talk about what we can do to reclaim conversation with the people in our lives, and there are a lot of actionable tips that you can implement right away.
#154: Strength Training for Everyone with Matt Reynolds
Matt Reynolds, a former power lifter and Strong Man competitor, is the co-owner of a gym in Springfield, MO called Strong Gym. He's been coaching me online, and I've seen significant improvement in my lifting and strength training since I've started with him. I wanted to get him on the podcast to talk about his story, as well as why everyone should be doing strength and barbell training.
#153: Microaggressions and The Rise of Victimhood Culture
In the last few years we've seen an interesting phenomenon, especially on college campuses, where students will take slights or even just awkwardness incredibly sensitively and emotionally. Two sociologists have gotten together -- Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning -- and published a paper and theory about why this "victimhood" culture has arisen on campuses. We talk about this paper, as well as honor, dignity, masculinity, and more.
Lewis Howes had aspirations of being a pro football player, and he was on the path to making it happen for himself. After a career-ending injury, and year spent on his sister's couch, he started an online business which became a big success. Since then, he's started a podcast called The School of Greatness, in which he interviews people about what it means to live a flourishing life. He has a new book by the same name, and on today's show Lewis and I talk about how to live the good life.
We've talked about Stoicism before on the Art of Manliness. From eminent men like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, the Romans heartily embraced the philosophy. My guest today wrote a book about how Stoicism can help our modern soldiers. Nancy Sherman is a professor of philosophy at Georgetown, and on today's show we talk about healing not only physical wounds, but mental ones too with this ancient way of thinking.
#150: Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice
One of my favorite writers is Adam Makos. He has a new book out called Devotion. It's about two men -- one black and one white -- who end up in the Korean War together and become fast friends. In this podcast, Adam and I talk about these two men, as well as why he thinks it's important to continue telling the stories of our war veterans.
#149: Taking Action in an Uncertain and Hack-Focused World With Kyle Eschenroeder
Kyle Eschenroeder is an entrepreneur who runs Startupbros.com. Beyond that, he's a guy who reads and thinks deeply, and has contributed a few excellent pieces of content for AoM. In this podcast we talk about one of those popular articles, which was about thriving in uncertainty. We tend to think we have more control over our lives than we really do. So today we talk about tools and techniques to truly thrive when life takes us in unexpected directions.
Have you ever noticed that when you try really hard at something, you actually aren't able to achieve what you're trying to do? For example, if you can't sleep at night, you try really hard to fall asleep, which only makes matters worse. Chinese philosophers understood this fact that when you try really hard, it makes things harder to achieve. My guest today, Edward Slingerland, has written a book called Trying Not to Try, which combines these Chinese philosophies with modern neuroscience and explores how we can live a more carefree and spontaneous life.
Talent is undoubtedly an important part of being successful in life. But there's another piece that's often overlooked: our mindset. My guest today, Carol Dweck, has spent decades researching this very topic. Her conclusion is that there are basically two mindsets in life: growth or fixed. Whichever one you have will go a long ways towards determining your success in life, as well as your children.
#146: Deadly Navy SEAL Skills Every Man Should Know
Every guy at one point or another in his life dreams about being Jason Bourne or James Bond. Lock picking, escaping restraints, evading bad guys, killing bad dudes with an improvised weapon. That's stuff guys like to know even if they'll never have to use it. Well, now you can learn how to do all that cool spy stuff. Navy SEAL Clint Emerson has just published a book called 100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation. In it, you'll find every cool Jason Bourne skill you'd ever want to know. Today on the podcast, Clint and I discuss the EDC you should have to be prepared, the workout you should do to be a tactical athlete, and skill sets you should acquire to keep you and your loved ones safe. You don't want to miss this one!
In the last decade or so, books, blogs, corporations, and even governments are putting more emphasis on the idea of happiness. On the surface, this sounds great, but our guest today argues that maybe this should give us some pause. William Davies is the author of The Happiness Industry, and makes the case that this focus on happiness may be more about dollar signs than our actual well-being.
#144: Living the Braveheart Life With Randall Wallace
Believe it or not, we're coming up on the 20th anniversary of the movie Braveheart. It's a film that fills you with thumos and inspires you. On today's episode, I talk with the man who created the William Wallace we know from that movie. His name is Randall Wallace, a screenwriter, produce, songwriter, and author. His new book is called Living the Braveheart Life: Finding the Courage to Follow Your Heart.
#143: Crossing the Oregon Trail in the 21st Century With Rinker Buck
You've heard of the Oregon Trail. You learned about it in elementary or middle school, quite possibly by playing the popular computer game. Despite it being one of largest land migrations in human history, though, you probably don't know a whole lot about the Oregon Trail. Today's guest decided to remedy that by actually crossing the entirety of the trail in a covered wagon and with a team of mules. It's a fascinating conversation that you won't want to miss.
#142: The Science of Mating and Dating With Geoffrey Miller
Despite romantic relationships being such a big part of our lives, nobody ever really sits you down and says, "Here's how to have a successful relationship." We're instead expected to figure it out on our own. Today's guest, Geoffrey Miller, says we're setting people up for failure by not giving them some advice. On the show we discuss the book he co-wrote with Tucker Max called "Mate."
#141: The Science of Freediving and Holding Your Breath With James Nestor
When I was a kid, one of my heroes was Harry Houdini. Among his many feats, he could hold his breath for an incredibly long time. I was intrigued by the topic, so I started researching and found the book Deep by James Nestor. It's about the sport and science of freediving, which involves taking one deep breath and diving hundreds of feet under water. From how human bodies react to being under water, to tips about holding your breath longer, this is a fascinating podcast that you don't want to miss.
#140: Invest Your Time Like Money With Elizabeth Grace Saunders
It's often said "time is money," but do you really treat your time like money? Well, my guest today on the podcast says, no, most people don't, but if they did they'd be much wiser stewards of their time. Her name is Elizabeth Grace Saunders and she's the author of the book "Invest Your Time Like Money" and today on the podcast we discuss what you can do today so you get out of "time debt" and invest time so you have more of it in the future. If you're feeling busy and overwhelmed, this podcast is for you.
#139: The Secrets of a Perfect Shave With Mark Herro
The very first article I published on The Art of Manliness was How to Shave Like Your Grandpa where I explained how to get started with safety razor shaving. Lots of guys learned about old-school shaving from that article, but there is one man who has brought more men into the fold of safety razor shaving than that article. His name is Mark Herro, but he’s better known as Mantic59. Through his YouTube videos, Mark has become “Dad of the Internet” by teaching millions of men how to shave. Besides his popular YouTube channel, Mark runs the shaving blog Sharpologist. Today on the podcast, Mark and I discuss the ins and outs of old school wet shaving and the secrets of getting a close comfortable shave.
#138: Reviving Practical Wisdom with Barry Schwartz
We've probably all seen instances where dumb rules and regulations were enforced even when everyone involved understood they were enforcing dumb rules and regulations. We've created so many rules that we no longer know how to use common sense to guide us. At least that's the argument my guest on today's podcast makes in his book Practical Wisdom. Barry Schwartz is a professor of psychology at Swathmore College. In his book, Practical Wisdom, Schwartz highlights how our society has been overtaken by rules and regulation leaving people very little room to exercise their discretion. This overreliane on rules can have disasterous consequences. Instead of rules, Schwartz argues that we need to revive the ancient Greek concept of phronesis, or practical wisdom. Today in the podcast, we discuss how to do just that.
It’s a question that philosophers have taken on since Aristotle.
What makes something funny?
Going beyond that– why do we laugh in the first place? Because if you step back and look at it, laughing is pretty dang weird.
Well, my guest today on the podcast went on a world wide tour to uncover the science of humor. His name is Peter McGraw. He’s a behavioral scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder and he’s the co-author of the book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. Today on the podcast Peter and I discuss the findings from his research around the world as well as in his humor lab at the University of Colorado. If you’re looking to add a bit more humor into your life, you won’t want to miss this.
During the past 10 years or so, there's been an uptick in the number of books and newspaper articles about how young men today our floundering. Fewer young men are going to college than in years past, and those that do go, fewer of them are graduating. What's more there's a general sense that young men today are simply unmotivated to seek out gainful employment or starting families. Meanwhile, girls and young women are surpassing boys and young men in education and in work.
My guest today on the podcast has spent his career studying how the biological differences between boys and girls and the changes in our culture and society during the past few decades can explain these discrpencies in achievement. His name is Dr. Leonard Sax and he's the author of several books including Boy's Adrift and Girls on the Edge. Today on the podcast, Dr. Sax and I discuss how gender effects the emotional and intellectual development of boys and girls and what parents and schools can do to help them thrive based on their unique attributes. If you're a parent, you won't want to miss this episode.
#135: Inventing an Authentic Life With Eric Wilson
“Discovering your authentic self” has become an article of faith in the United States. There are thousands of blogs, books, and seminars that supposedly teach people how to discover who they really are. But what if our obsession to uncover an authentic self is getting in the way of living a truly flourishing life? What if instead of trying to discover an authentic life, we should be focused on inventing an authentic life? Well, that’s the argument Eric Wilson makes in his book Keep it Fake: Inventing an Authentic Life. Today on the podcast, Eric and I discuss questions of the self that have boggled philosophers for ages and how thinking ourselves as authors of our life story can help us lead a truly flourishing and nurturing life.
#134: A Field Manual For Life After Combat With David Danelo
Since 9/11 and before, American warriors have faced combat in difficult and adverse theaters with dedication, courage, and remarkable inner fortitude. Our nation supports them during their time in the fight, and "thank you for your service" has become a common civilian affirmation.
But what happens when these men and women return from the battlefield? What is waiting for them at home? How does our society prepare these indispensable citizens for the confusion, absurdity, and trauma of their transition back to everyday life?
Marine combat veteran David J. Danelo's message is simple--those who return to peace after war possess a power that must be discovered, honored, and treasured. The Return: A Field Manual for Life After Combat tells how our military and civilian cultures can protect and nurture this potent gift.
Today on the podcast, we discuss how warriors can make the return to civilian life and what civilians can do to help.
#133: Financial Independence Through the Strenuous Life With Mr. Money Mustache
What would you say to a person who told you that you could retire at age 30, never have to work again, and still live a comfortable life, all on a normal salary and without winning the lottery?
You’d probably call them crazy. Of course that’s not how money works.
Well, my guest today did retire at age 30, and he did so without making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. And through his blog, he’s helped other people reach “financial independence” a lot sooner than they thought possible by living a life of “financial badassery.” His name is Pete and he’s the owner of the website Mr. Money Mustache. In today’s podcast, Pete and I discuss how living Teddy Roosevelt’s “Strenuous Life” can help you become financially independent.
#132: The History of the American Bachelor with Howard Chudacoff
Something all men have in common is that one point in their lives they're all bachelors, that is, they've never been married. What's interesting is that there's been very little written about the history and sociology of bachelorhood. Well, my guest today is the author of one of the few books on the topic. His name is Howard Chudacoff and he's the author of the book, The Age of the Bacehlor. Dr. Chudacoff and I discuss the influence bachelors in America have had on American masculinity, particularly the bachelors who lived during the late 19th century or "Golden Age of Bachelorhood." It was during this time that bars, barbershops, and pool halls became masculine institutions and the traditionally male past times like sports rose in prominence in the U.S.
#131: What Ancient Philosophers Can Teach You About Using Your Smartphone With William Powers
Our personal tech devices can be both a blessing and a curse. All the information we'd ever want is right at our fingertips, yet at the same time these devices can make us feel rushed and pressed for time while discouraging deep thinking.
Well, my guest today argues that to learn how to navigate our techno-world, we should look to the insights of ancient philosophers and thinkers. William Powers is the author of Hamlet's Blackberry and today on the podcast we discuss what Shakespeare, Seneca, and Socrates can teach us about making better use of our technologies.
My guest today wrote a parable about a young boat captain that provides timeless advice on developing the traits needed for lasting and significant success in your life. His name is Alden Mills, he's a former Navy SEAL, inventor of the Perfect Pushup, and the author of Be Unstoppable: The Eight Essential Actions to Succeed at Anything. In today's podcast, Alden and I discuss perseverance, grit, and becoming the master and commander of your life.
#129: Competition Gun Shooting and Self-Defense With Mike Seeklander
Today I talk to champion gun shooter, Mike Seeklander about the world of competition gun shooting. Besides competing around the country, Mike is also a firearms instructor for citizens as well as law enforcement officers. Today on the show, Mike and I discuss the world of competition gun shooting-- what's involved and how to get started. We also discuss self-defense with and without a firearm.
#128: How Your Obsession With Success Is Making You Miserable With Jim Rubens
Despite living in one of the most affluent and safe times in human history, a lot of Ameicans are miserable. Jim Rubens wanted to find out why. In his book Oversuccess, Jim Rubens makes the case that it's our obsession with fame and money is the underlying cause of our American malaise. Highlighting research from domains like neuroscience, psychology, and sociology, Rubens deftly shows how our obsession with material success is spiritually killing us and how men are particularly susceptible to this siren song.
It's a debate that goes back for centuries.
Are great athletes made or are they born?
In his book, The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, journalist David Epstein investigates that question. By looking at cutting edge research, he uncovers how much of nature and how much of nurture contributes to creating world class athletes. It's a fascinating book that offers insight into the nature of athletic ability and gives some food for thought to parents out there signing their kids up for expensive personal coaching in the hopes their tyke will be the next Ted Williams.
#126: Christianity, Masculinity and Some Manly Maxims With Stephen Mansfield
During the past few centuries, Christian churches have had some difficulty reaching men. During the late 19th century and even today, Christian churches have created special programs to get men in the pews.
But why does trouble exist in the first place? And what can be done about it?
In today's podcast I talk to author and speaker Stephen Mansfield about this issue as well as his book Mansfield's Book of Manly Men. If you're a Christian, you'll find Stephen's insights about the church and men interesting; if you're not a Christian, you can still get a lot out of our later conversation about the virtues and ideals Stephen thinks men should strive for and the great men from history we should study and emulate.
#125: The Enduring Appeal of The Great Gatsby with Maureen Corrigan
When the Great Gatsby was originally published in 1925, it was a complete critical and commercial flop. It wasn't until after F. Scott Fitzgerald's death that it gained the status of the Great American Novel and it's appeal still endures today. On today's show, I talk to Maureen Corrigan about her book "So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures." We discuss how Gatsby is one of the first hard-boiled novels of the 20th century, why Gastsby still appeals to us today, and what you can do to get more out of your next reading of the Great Gatsby.
#124: Self-Discipline & Personal Effectiveness With Rory Vaden
Today I talk to business owner, author, and public speaker Rory Vaden about his two books, Take the Stairs and Procrastinate on Purpose. Rory and I talk about the principles that will help instill self-discipline in you and how you can be more effective with your time to leave a lasting legacy. Get out your pen and notebook. You'll want to take notes during this episode. Lots of great takeaways you can apply today.
#123 StrongFirst and Kettlebells With Eric Frohardt
Eric Frohardt is the CEO of StrongFirst, a company dedicated to helping individuals becoming stronger physically and mentally. It was founded by Pavel Tsatsouline, the Father of Kettlebell training here in the U.S. Today in the podcast, Eric and I discuss why strength is skill, the benefits of kettlebell training, and greasing the groove every day to get stronger.
A sunken pirate ship is one of the hardest things to find in the world. But two treasure hunters risked their lives and fortune to find one. In the process, the uncovered the story of one of the greatest pirates to ever live during the Golden Age of Piracy. My guest today wrote a book about the search of this pirate ship. His name is Robert Kurson and he's the author of the book Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship. In today's show Robert and I discuss why pirates are so appealing, why two guys would risk millions of dollar to find a pirate ship, and the legendary story of the pirate who captained this sunken ship. You're not going to want to miss this.
#121: Strategic and Critical Thinking With Tom Ruby
Tom Ruby served 26 years in the U.S Air Force and held positions as Squadron Intelligence Officer and Chief of Doctrine for Air Force Intelligence. Mr. Ruby served on a General Petraeus' Joint Strategic Assesment Team during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Today, Mr. Ruby spends his civilian life consulting companies on how to better think critically and strategically. Today on the show, Tom and I discuss how the Average Joe can improve his critical thinking and be better strategists. Lots of great takeaways from this show.
Alastair Humphreys is a real-life adventurer. He's biked around the world and has even been named Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic. But Alastair wanted to show people that you didn't need to travel halfway across the world or spend a lot of money or time to find adventure. So for a year, he did what he called "Microadventures" in his native England. They're small things he could do in an evening after work or on a weekend. He cataloged all of his adventures in a book called "Microadventures" and today on the podcast Alastair and I discuss how the average Joe can find more adventure in his life by going on microadventures.
Until fairly recently, most of the scientific research about parental influence on children usually left out dads. But recent studies have shown that fathers have an important role in the development of children-- from conception into adulthood. Award-winning science writer Paul Raeburn highlights all this new research in his book "Do Fathers Matter?" In today's podcast, Paul and I discuss what we can learn about fatherhood from a hunter-gatherer tribe in South America, how dads can help make their kids more social and verbose, and why every dad should roughhouse with their kids. If you're a dad or plan on being one someday, this is a must listen.
#118: Olympic and Collegiate Wrestling Legend Dan Gable
In this episode I talk with the legendary wrestler and wrestling coach Dan Gable. He won the 1972 gold medal in Munich without giving up a single point, and won 15 championships as a coach at the University of Iowa between 1976 and 1997. His new book is called "A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable."
What is it about making things with our hands that provides so much satisfaction? Why are we so drawn to the archetype of the craftsman? In his insightful book, Why We Make Things and Why it Matters, furniture builder and woodworking instructor Peter Korn explores the philosophy of craftsmanship. In the podcast today I talk to Peter about the ethos of craftsmanship, what craft can teach us about living the good life, and why you should get out in the garage and try building something with your hands.
#116: Southern Gentleman's Kitchen With Matt Moore
If you've read the site for awhile, than you're likely familiar with Matt Moore-- AoM's resident chef. Matt recently published a book with Southern Living magazine entitled The Southern Gentleman's Kitchen. Today on the podcast I talk to Matt about cooking, chivalry, boar hunting, entreprenuership, and how to cook the perfect steak.
#115: The Slumbering Masses With Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer
We often take for granted society's current sleep schedule. If you're like most people, you sleep about 8 hours a day in one chunk between the hours 10 PM and 8AM or there abouts. But our guest today reminds us that sleep always wasn't like that. In fact, it wasn't until the middle of the 19th century that that idea of sleep became the norm. In his book The Slumbering Masses, Dr. Michael J. Wolf-Meyer takes a look at the anthropology of sleep and explores how modern conceptions of sleep drives an entire sleep industry as well as stimulant industry-- coffee and energy drinks. A fascinating discussion.
World record setting powerlifter Chris Duffin embodies what Teddy Roosevelt called the "strenuous life." Not only has he trained hard to lift superhuman amounts of weight, but he's strived to be the best man he can be in his family and professional life. His story of grit and drive to overcome obstacles and become a success is truly an inspiration. Chris and I discuss strength training and why men should be physically strong, but we also discuss how he has managed his time to balance family, work, and competitive powerlifting.
#113: The Evolutionary Origins of Depression With Jonathan Rottenberg
Today we refer to depression as a mental illness that needs to be cured as quickly as possible. But our guest today makes the nuanced case that human beings may have evolved to be depressed and that at one time in our prehistoric past it served an adaptive purpose. The problem is that our brain isn't made for this hectic and stressful modern world that we live in. Dr. Jonathan Rottenberg is psychologist specializing in moods and today we discuss the research from his book The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic. Dr. Rottenberg's nuanced view of depression brings some much-needed balance and humanity to the discussion about depression.
How do we make decisions in complex environments? Can we trust our gut? How do we gain insights? In today's podcast I talk to Gary Klein to answer these questions. Dr. Klein pioneered the field of naturalistic decision-making and is an expert on the science of insights. If you've enjoyed our content on the OODA Loop or situational awareness, you're really going to enjoy this episode.
#111: Why Men Fight & Why We Like To Watch With Jonathan Gottschall
Jonathan Gottschall was an associate professor of English whose career had stalled in mid-life. Then one day he looked out his office and saw an MMA gym and he decided he was going to train to become a fighter to prove something to himself and to write a book about the biology, anthropology, and sociology of male violence. In the process, many of his assumptions about violence and masculinity changed. What he once saw as something terrible and despicable, came to be seen with some nuance. Part memoir, part anthropologic treatise, Gotschall's book The Professor in the Cage is a fascinating look at the role of violence in masculinity. In this episode I talk to Gottschall about violence and masculinity and why getting in a fight may be the best thing a man can do for himself.
#110: Hardboiled Detectives, Boxing, and Creativity With David Levien
David Levien is a screenwriter, movie producer, novelist, and amateur boxer. He's worked with his writing partner Brian Koppelman on Rounders, Ocean's 13, and The Illusionist. On his own, he's published several novels, including the Frank Behr detective series. In this episode, I talk to David about writing, why detectives are an American archetype of masculinity, and boxing. This was a really fun and engaging conversation.
For the past year or so I've had AoM readers emailing and tweeting me about a book called Underground Strength. Finally had a chance to check it out and I had to have the author on. Zach Even-Esh is a strength and conditioning coach and author. His philosophy towards fitness really resonates with me: tire flipping, sledgehammers, squats, and deadlifts-- among other things. In today's show, I ask Zach about the Underground Strength Philosophy, why you should strive to be an athlete, and what a guy can start doing today to get stronger.
#108: The Upside of Your Dark Side With Dr. Todd Kashdan
You can't go anywhere these days without running into an article or a book on how to be more positive and upbeat. Pessimism and anger are seen as traits we should do all we can to avoid. But my guest today says that view might be a little too short-sighted. His name is Dr. Todd Kashdan and he's the co-author fo the book, The Upside of Your Darkside. Today on the podcast we talk about the benefits of getting in touch with your pessimism and anger and the potential downsides of too much positivity. And we also discuss what Teddy Roosevelt can teach about the benefits of narcisssim and pychopathy. A fascinating discussion.
#107: The Champion's Blueprint With Dr. Jeff Spencer
Is success a skill that can be learned? Why are some people afraid of success? And what blind spots cause the successful to crash and burn? Well, my guest today has some ideas about these questions. His name is Dr. Jeff Spencer and he's spent his career helping top-performers-- athletes, CEOs, government leaders-- perform at their very best. We discuss his "Champion's Blueprint" and how the average Joe can apply it in his own life. Lots of great actionable steps in this podcast. Take notes!
#106: Photographing War & Conflict With Robert Nickelsberg
Robert Nickelsberg was a contract photographer for TIME magazine for 25 years. During that time he documented conflicts in Kashmir, Iraq, Sri Lanka, India and Afghanistan. His most recent book Afghanistan highlights his work from the Soviet retreat in Afghanistan in the 80s to the American conflict post 9-11.
On the podcast Robert and I discuss what it's like working in such hostile environments, the importance of situational awareness, and what he learned about Afghan manhood. If you've thought about becoming a freelance photographer, you'll get a lot of great insights from this podcast. Even if you don't want to be a photographer, you'll still find Robert's career fascinating.
#105: Lessons from a Navy SEAL on Resilience With Eric Greitens
Eric Greitens is a Rhodes Scholar that started out his career as a humanitarian but then became a Navy SEAL. His book The Heart and the Fist makes that case that in order to be a good man, you have to be strong enough to fight for those you’re trying to do good for. His book Resilience is based around a series of letters between him and a SEAL buddy that was going through a rough time in his life with alcoholism, job loss, and PTSD. Greitens calls upon his background in philosophy to provide insights and advice for his struggling friend on how to develop resilience in the face of adversity. Eric and discuss what resilience is and how one develops it. We also talk about "uneven courage" the "morality of intentions" and how action proceeds feeling. An illuminating conversation. One of my favorites.
I've quoted Dr. Waller Newell several times in my writing about masculinity on the Art of Manliness, and his approach towards manhood is very similar to the one that I take. So it was a pleasure to finally get to speak to him and have him on the podcast. Dr. Newell is a professor of political science at Carleton University and has written several books on manhood and honor including The Code of Man: Love, Courage, Pride, Family, Country and What Is a Man? 3,000 Years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue.
What do women find attractive in men? What should you be looking for in a partner if you want a long lasting relationship? Are there any red flags to be looking for in a relationship? Are married men miserable or happy? My guest today has spent her career researching these questions. Her name is Dr. Duana Welch and in her book "Love Factually" she highlights the research that's out there about dating and relationships. Whether you're single or married, you're definitely going to find some great takeaways from this discussion.
I talk to Antonio Centeno, owner of Real Men Real Style and our style writer at Art of Manliness, about the science and history of men's style. We discuss the martial origins of most menswear including the suit, tie, tench coat, and even t-shirt. We also discuss what science has to say about the effects a man's style and appearance has on their career and love life. For example, did you know that men with higher testosterone levels are on average more vain than men with lower testosterone levels? A great discussion with some practical takeaways on improving how you look.
#101: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War With Robert Coram
John Boyd is one of the greatest military strategists that hardly anyone knows about. Unmatched in the cockpit during the Korean War, his mind was also without rival. He was not simply a warrior of combat, but a warrior-engineer and warrior-philosopher.
When he was 33, he wrote “Aerial Attack Study,” which codified the best dogfighting tactics for the first time, became the “bible of air combat,” and revolutionized the methods of every air force in the world.
His Energy-Maneuverability (E-M) Theory helped give birth to the legendary F-15, F-16, and A-10 aircraft.
A briefing he developed, “Patterns of Conflict,” changed combat strategy for both airmen and ground troops, introduced the oft-cited, and typically misunderstood OODA loop, and “made him the most influential military thinker since Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War 2,400 years ago.”
All in all, John Boyd served in the United States Air Force for twenty-four years and through three wars.
But he was never promoted above colonel.
All because Boyd stubbornly refused to compromise his principles and ideals for advancement.
In today's podcast I talk to John Boyd biographer Robert Coram about the life and career of this fascinating warrior-philosopher and what we can learn from him on how to be better men.