Podcast by The Art of Manliness
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Note: This is a rebroadcast. It originally aired in November 2020. When we think about finance, we typically think about numbers and math. My guest today, however, argues that doing well with money is less about what you can put on a spreadsheet and more about what goes on in your mind, and that if you want to master personal finance, you've got to understand how things like your own history, unique view of the world, and fear and pride influence how you think. His name is Morgan Housel, and he's an investor, a financial journalist, and the author of The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness. Morgan kicks off our conversation by explaining how doing well with money is less about what you know and more about how you behave, and illustrates this point by comparing the true stories of a janitor who saved millions and a prominent Wall Streeter who went bankrupt. He then explains how the seemingly crazy decisions people make around money actually make a kind of sense. From there we get into why you need to know the financial game you're playing and not play someone else's. We then turn to why it's hard to be satisfied with your position in life when your expectations keep rising and why not continually moving your goalposts is the most important skill in personal finance. We discuss how getting off the never-ending treadmill of wanting more requires seeing money not just as a way to buy stuff but to gain greater autonomy, keeping the "man in the car paradox" in mind, and understanding the distinction between being rich and being wealthy. We then talk about the underappreciated, mind-boggling power of compound interest, using the example of Warren Buffet, who made 99% of his wealth after the age of 50. We then discuss why you should view volatility in the stock market as a fee rather than a fine, why pessimistic financial opinions are strangely more appealing than optimistic ones, and why it's best to split the difference and approach your money like a realistic optimist. We end our conversation with the two prongs of Morgan's iron law for building wealth.If reading this in an email, click the title of the post to listen to the show.Show HighlightsWhy personal finance success isn't about knowledge, but psychologyUnderstanding that nobody is actually crazy when it comes to money decisions (even though those decisions might be crazy)Why context is crucial to understanding people's financial choicesWho buys lottery tickets? Why do they do it?Why personal finance is more "personal" than "finance"Are there overarching principles to follow, despite the personal nature of finance and wealth?The underappreciated role of luck in our financesHow to be more content with what you haveKeeping your expectations from rising in lock step with your income/net worthThe difference between being rich and being wealthyThe mind-boggling power of compound interestBalancing optimism and pessimismMorgan's golden rule of financial successResources/People/Articles Mentioned in PodcastAoM's personal finance archivesThe Motley Fool5 Books for the Personal Finance Education You Never HadHow to Achieve a "Rich Life" With Your FinancesWhat Every Young Man Should Understand About the Power of Compound InterestGraduating From a Paycheck Mentality to a Net Worth MentalityWhy and How to Start an Emergency Fund
Cancer. Alzheimer's. Heart disease. Diabetes. Infertility. While these prevalent and dreaded diseases are caused by multiple factors, my guest says they also all share a common thread: a ubiquitous and too-little-understood condition called insulin resistance.His name is Dr. Benjamin Bikman and he's a professor of biology and physiology, an expert in obesity and metabolic disorders, and the author of Why We Get Sick: The Hidden Epidemic at the Root of Most Chronic Disease — and How to Fight It. Ben begins our conversation by explaining insulin's role in the body, how it goes awry when it comes to Type I and II diabetes, and how giving Type II diabetics insulin to treat their disease actually makes them “fatter and sicker, and kills them faster.” We then turn to the fact that even if you don't have diabetes, you very likely still have insulin resistance (something helpful to keep in mind during this conversation is that "insulin resistance" is bad and "insulin sensitivity" is good), and the condition's three primary causes. Benjamin then unpacks how insulin resistance correlates with cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and reproductive health problems, including the fact that erectile dysfunction isn't a function of low testosterone, but insulin resistance. We then talk about the role of insulin resistance in someone's susceptibility to COVID-19. We end our conversation with the four pillars of reversing insulin resistance, including the role of diet and physical activity, and how these lifestyle changes can work to help relatively healthy people get healthier, all the way up to allowing diabetics to get off their medication.I can't tell you how motivating this conversation was for me to start a habit of walking more during the day, as well as after dinner. I bet it will have the same effect on you.Resources Related to the PodcastInsulin resistanceConnection between high blood pressure and insulin resistanceErectile dysfunction and insulin resistanceConnection between cancer and insulin resistanceCOVID-19 severity and insulin resistanceAoM's series on testosteroneAoM's fitness articlesAoM's article on the benefits of cold showersAoM podcast on intermittent fastingAoM article on intermittent fastingHLTHCode (We're not affiliated with this company and they're not a sponsor, but we tried it, and love it, and have been consuming it daily.)Connect With Benjamin BikmanBenjamin's lab websiteBenjamin on Instagram
When you think about the word "gentleman," you probably think about the kind of well-mannered, well-educated, civil, virtuous, self-controlled fellows who lived in England and America during the 19th century. But there was also a not-entirely-dissimilar conception of the gentleman that grew out of the East, though it arose quite a bit longer ago. This gentleman was described by the Chinese philosopher Confucius in a text called the Analects, which my guest says might be thought of as a 2,500-year-old set of advice columns for those who aspire to be exemplary individuals. His name is Robert LaFleur, and he's a professor of history and anthropology and the lecturer of the Great Courses course, Books That Matter: The Analects of Confucius. Today on the show Robert talks about how the Analects are all about learning to rule, and that Confucius believed that you couldn't lead a state, without being able to lead your family, and you couldn't lead a family, without being able to lead yourself. Robert argues that the Analects teach the reader how to integrate the kind of character traits and relational skills that are required to "get good at life," and how this aptitude centrally rests on living with a quality called "consummate conduct." Robert discusses the importance of what he calls "all-in" learning to the Confucian gentleman, the nuance to the idea of filial piety that Westerners typically miss, and the often overlooked check on this hierarchical dynamic called "remonstrance." We end our conversation with why Confucius so heavily emphasized the importance of ritual, and how rituals hold a transformative power that can allow you to become something bigger than yourself. Resources Related to the Podcast Robert's Great Courses course: Books That Matter — The Analects of Confucius The translations of the Analects that Robert recommends (he's currently working on his own): Ames and Rosemont ("All of the translations have something to offer, but I think that the Ames and Rosemont translation brings out more of the social connections in the text than many of the others.") Annping Chin ("Having said that, the newer Penguin translation by Annping Chin is also very good.") China's Spring and Autumn Period University of Chicago Professor of Classics David Grene The Confucian Book of Songs The Sociological Imagination by C. Wright Mills From Text to Action by Paul Ricoeur Confucius: The Secular as Sacred by Herbert Fingarette Emile Durkheim AoM series on ritual Connect With Robert LaFleur Robert's Blog: Round and Square Robert's Faculty Page at Beloit College See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Her name is Anna Lembke and she's Chief of Stanford's Addiction Medicine Clinic and the author of the book Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in an Age of Indulgence. At the start of our conversation, Anna unpacks the definition of addiction, why she believes it applies equally well to substances like drugs as behaviors like using porn, and how it exists on a spectrum from the serious and severe to the mild and minor. Anna explains why life in our comfortable, pleasure-filled modern society is increasing the problem of addiction, and argues that the reason we're so miserable is that we're working so hard to avoid being miserable. She then digs into the science of why we become addicted to substances and behaviors and how it all comes down to our mind and body trying to seek balance between pleasure and pain. We discuss dopamine's role in this seesaw dynamic and how the substances and technologies of modernity can lead to a dopamine deficit. We then walk through the process of getting a handle on your addiction, including the importance of doing a dopamine fast, and how long the fast needs to last to be effective. Anna shares tactics for sticking through this abstinence period, which include, counterintuitively, intentionally seeking out pain. She explains why a dopamine fast can help you rebalance your brain, what comes after it's over, and much more. Check out the show notes at aom.is/dopaminenation Resources Related to the Podcast Prohibition Worked Better Than You Think What Vietnam Taught Us About Breaking Bad Habits Brown and Shuckit's research on alcohol use and depression Nora Volkow's research on dopamine and addiction AoM Podcast #708: Overcoming the Comfort Crisis Sunday Fireside: Lash Yourself to the Mast Sunday Firesides: Shame Is a Gift 4 Lessons From a 4-Week Social Media Fast Connect with Anna Lembke Anna's Website See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
You're probably familiar with the mythological tale of Hercules (or "Heracles" as the hero was originally called) from books, comics, and movies. But while Hercules is often rendered as a kind of one-dimensional superhero in popular culture, my guest today argues that he's actually quite a complex character, and that the story of how he completed twelve epic labors has a lot to teach us about endurance, revenge, mental illness, violence, punishment, trauma, bereavement, friendship, love, and masculinity. His name is Laurence Alison, and he's a forensic psychologist and an expert in interrogation, who's created a written and oral retelling of the classic myth. At the start of the show, Laurence shares how he's been using the story of the twelve labors of Hercules to facilitate reflection and discussion amongst military personnel and first responders, and how the labors can provide life insights for everyone. We then dig into the details of many of the labors of Hercules, from slaying a lion to cleaning out stables, and discuss what they can teach us about grappling with life's highs and lows, and what it means to be a man. Resources Related to the Podcast Our last podcast with Laurence about what he's learned from his work in interrogation about building rapport AoM Podcast #660: The Theater of War With Bryan Doerries AoM Series on Greek Mythology AoM Manvotional: The Choice of Hercules Find Laurence Alison's Hercules Retellings The Heracles Project on the Grand Truth website Direct access to the oral retelling of the labors of Hercules (this is an audio experience with music, sound effects, illustrations, and guided interpretative diary exercises) Print copies of Laurence's written, illustrated retelling of the labors, as well as a novella Laurence wrote on the entire life of Hercules, are available to purchase by contacting Andrew Richmond. You can get a feel for the former book here. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When you think of your assets, you probably think of your money. But you also have three other hugely important assets at your disposal too: your time, energy, and priorities. When you manage these assets poorly, you can feel overwhelmed and scattered and yet unproductive and unfulfilled. When you manage them well, things in your personal and professional life click, and you experience traction and satisfaction. How do you avoid the first situation and achieve the second? My guest today, Carey Nieuwhof, provides answers in his book At Your Best: How to Get Time, Priorities, and Energy Working in Your Favor. We begin our conversation with Carey's story of achieving success, only to suffer burnout, and how burnout has become less of a job problem these days than a general life problem. We then talk about how to leave what Carey calls the "stress spiral" and get into the "thrive cycle." We discuss the two mental shifts you need to make to better manage your time, how to keep other people (and yourself) from hijacking your priorities, the power of categorical decision-making in separating the good from the best, and why you need to put even your personal commitments on your calendar. We also talk about scheduling your daily tasks into what Carey calls your green, yellow, and red energy zones, and how to spend your time more strategically. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Look around a grocery store, airport lobby, or subway car, and you'll see a bunch of people who are physically together but distinctly separate, each off in their own world, often looking at their phones. In public environments like these, we rarely think to talk to others, and hope no one talks to us. But my guest today says that initiating these kinds of interactions will not only be more edifying and enjoyable than we think, but holds a key to the sustaining of civilization. His name is Joe Keohane, and he's the author of The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Connecting in a Suspicious World. Joe and I spend the first part of our conversation taking a high-level look at how talking with strangers makes individuals happier and society more connected, and why we so strenuously avoid these interactions, even though they almost invariably go better than we anticipate. We discuss how interacting with strangers helped expand human civilization, the codes that ancient cultures developed on how to treat strangers, and a theory as to why people are more social in places like Brazil than in Nordic countries. From there we turn to the more practical side of things and discuss how to develop or redevelop your ability to talk to strangers. Joe shares how to ask people how they're doing in a way that will get a real response and a better question to ask people than what they do for a living. We also talk about how to change your perspective on small talk, and move it as quickly as possible into meatier territory. We end our conversation with how talking to strangers can overcome division and polarization in society, and how it's changed Joe's own life. Check out the show notes at aom.is/strangers/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
If you went to the doctor about treating your depression or anxiety, you might expect to be written a prescription for Zoloft or Xanax. But if you went in to see Dr. Jasper Smits, he might write you a different kind of prescription, one that instructed you to take a jog around the block. Dr. Smits is a professor and clinical psychologist, as well as the co-author of Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being. Today on the show we talk about why he likes using exercise as an option for patients who struggle with mood disorders, anxiety, and even general stress and anger, but don't want to do talk therapy or take a medication. We discuss how exercise has been found to be as effective for depression and anxiety as medication (and of course has a much better side effect profile), why it works, and whether a particular type of exercise is better for particular disorders. We then spend the rest of the conversation digging into the catch-22 that surrounds depression and exercise: if exercise is good for depression, but when you're depressed you don't feel like exercising, how do you find the motivation to get going with it? We discuss strategies for starting and sticking with exercise that can help not only those who struggle with mood disorders and anxiety, but anyone who is looking to make physical activity a habit. Check out the show notes at aom.is/exerciseformood See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
How many of your life's ten biggest decisions have you already made? My guest today, psychologist Dr. Adrian Camilleri, would often ask this question to friends and family, and found that it generated a lot of interesting conversation. It also generated a lot of his own thoughts, which made him want to dive more deeply into it and empirically study it and other related questions as well. The result was the Biggest Life Decisions Project, which we'll be talking about on the show today. Adrian first explains the criteria that define a big life decision, the most common ones people make, and which of these decisions people rank as being the most important. We then talk about the numbers and types of big life decisions people typically make in each decade of their lives, and how these decisions tend to be front-loaded in your twenties, but you'll still have a surprising number to make in your later years, too. Adrian shares which decisions people tend to look back on positively and are correlated with higher life satisfaction, and which tend to lead to poor outcomes and regret. We also get into the way people can both underestimate and overestimate the importance of some decisions, before ending with what Adrian has learned by working on this project about how to make good life decisions. After the show is over, check out the show notes at aom.is/tendecisions See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
If you have one, take a look at your pet cat or dog. These animals descended from wildcats and wolves, but today live pretty sedate lives, walking around your house and yard, waiting for you to deliver some kibbles to their bowl. My guest today says that modern humans are, in a similar way, domesticated versions of our former, wilder ancestors, and that living a flourishing life requires reconnecting with the primal energy within that now lies dormant. His name is Micah Mortali and he's the founder of the Kripalu School of Mindful Outdoor Leadership and the author of Rewilding: Meditations, Practices, and Skills for Awakening in Nature. Micah first shares how he came to combine his passion for yoga and mindfulness with a love of the outdoors and bushcraft skills to create his unique philosophy of rewilding. We then dig into what rewilding means, and why it's vital to body, mind, and spirit to throw off the malaise of modern domestication and restore your sensory connection to nature. From there we turn to the practices that can help you do that, from walking barefoot in the woods to staring into a campfire to meditate. We also talk about how practicing hands-on ancestral skills like making fire with a bow drill, building a wilderness shelter, and tracking animals can heighten your confidence and awareness. We end our conversation with small things that everyone, even if you live in the suburbs or city, can start doing today to begin rewilding your life. Check out the show notes at aom.is/rewilding See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Why do some people who look can't-miss high-achievers on paper end up floundering in life, while those who can seem like underdogs end up flourishing? When my guest noticed this phenomenon while being involved in the selection process of veteran SEALs for a specialized command, it led him to the discovery that beneath more obvious skills are hidden drivers of performance, which he calls attributes. His name is Rich Diviney, and he's a retired Navy SEAL commander and the author of The Attributes: 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance. Today on the show, Rich discusses the difference between skills and attributes and how the latter can't be taught, but can be developed. We then talk about the difference between peak and optimal performance, before turning to the attributes which drive the latter. We get into a discussion of the components of grit, the difference between discipline and self-discipline, why you should become something of a humble narcissist, and much more. We end our conversation with how to figure out the attributes you are and aren't strong in, and which you need for getting where you want to go. Check out our show notes at aom.is/attributes See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Note: This is a rebroadcast. It originally aired March 2020. Emerson famously said “society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.” My guest today says things have gotten a lot worse since Emerson uttered those words over a century and a half ago. His name is Robert Twigger. We last had him on the show to discuss his book Micromastery. Today we discuss a book he wrote 20 years ago called Being a Man in the Lousy Modern World. We begin our conversation discussing how the modern world infantilizes men so they're easier to control, and whether Robert thinks things have changed since he initially published the book. We then dig into the four factors Robert says need to be in place for a man to feel like a man, and why experiencing these qualities has become harder to do in the present age. We then discuss what Robert did to counter the currents of modern malaise like hiking the Pyrenees mountains and learning a martial art, and whether doing those things actually made him feel manlier. We end our conversation with what men can do to start fighting back against the conspiracy against their manhood. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Modern students are apt to see going to college as the way to earn a credential that will help them get a good job. But as Andrew Delbanco, Professor of American Studies at Columbia University, argues in his book College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be, higher education was developed for a different purpose — one it should fight to maintain. Today on the show, Andrew shares how he decided to write his book to understand more about the history, nature, and value of an institution which has come under increasing pressure in the modern age. Andrew describes how America's earliest colleges were founded as places where students could learn from both their teachers and from each other, and thereby develop the capacity to grow in character, serve others, live a good life, and even face death. Andrew explains why colleges have largely abandoned this mission, and makes the case for why a broad, not-entirely-specialized, liberal arts education remains relevant in an age in which the ability to grapple with life's big questions is as crucial as ever. We also talk about the difference between colleges and universities (no, they're not synonyms), why a prospective student might choose the former over the latter, and what other things those contemplating where to go to school should consider when making their decision. After the show is over, check out the show notes at aom.is/college See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When it comes to advice around getting better sleep, nearly all of it is directed at the individual sleeper who feels they've got room to improve: Here's what you might be doing wrong; here's how to straighten out your sleep hygiene. Yet for the millions of people who are sleeping with someone else in their bed, this advice leaves out a huge elephant in the room — the other person sharing your sheets. As my guest today argues, a shared bed means shared sleep issues that need to be tackled with shared solutions. Her name is Dr. Wendy Troxel, she's a clinical psychologist, a sleep specialist, and the author of Sharing the Covers: Every Couple's Guide to Better Sleep. We begin our conversation by discussing how sleep not only affects people's relationships, but people's relationships affect their sleep, and how this bidirectional dynamic can become either a vicious or virtuous cycle, depending on the quality of sleep that a couple gets. We then talk about the various issues couples deal with in sharing a bed, from snoring to a mismatch in temperature preferences. We also get into the complications that come with bringing kids into the picture, and Wendy gives her take on the issue of family co-sleeping. From there we turn to solutions for shared sleep problems, and dig into the idea of sleeping in separate beds. Wendy unpacks the way the taboo around separate sleeping has waxed and waned throughout history, why it works for some couples, and the options for implementing it, from sleeping in separate bedrooms to a more moderate approach called the "Scandinavian Method." Wendy also gives advice to couples who want to continue to share the same bed, but struggle with the fact that one person is a morning bird and the other is a night owl. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
If asked to think about the greatest generals of the ancient world, one name is likely to come to mind first: Alexander the Great — the incomparable military commander who amassed the world's largest empire by the time he was but thirty years old. A name that probably won't come to mind, however, is that of Philip the II, Alexander's father. But my guest today argues that if Philip hadn't done all that he did, Alexander wouldn't have been able to do all that he did. His name is Adrian Goldsworthy, and he's a classical historian and the author of numerous books on antiquity, including Philip and Alexander: Kings and Conquerors. Adrian first surveys the state of the Macedonians before Philip assumed the throne, sharing how they differed from other Greeks, who actually weren't sure Macedonians even counted as fellow Greeks, and how Macedon was burdened with political instability, a deficient army, and a palace full of deadly intrigue. Adrian then explains how Philip, despite having little political or military experience, was able to take control and turn his army and kingdom around, including the innovations in weaponry and tactics that allowed him to achieve domination in Greece. We then talk about the relationship between Philip and his son Alexander, and how Alexander inherited many things from his father that set him up for his own success, including the plan to invade the Persian Empire. We end our conversation exploring the question of whether Philip, if he had lived longer, could have achieved what Alexander did. After the show is over, check out the show notes at aom.is/philipandalexander See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
It's hard not to notice how heated and divided our public discourse has gotten, especially online. People insult and vilify each other, take unnuanced positions, and seem to be competing as to who can seem the most committed to a cause or the most outraged about an issue. You may have called some of this behavior "virtue signaling," but my guest today says that it's better described as "moral grandstanding," and he's studied the phenomenon not in terms of eye-roll-inducing anecdotes, but through the lens of both philosophy and empirical research. His name is Brandon Warmke, and he's a professor of philosophy and the co-author of the book Grandstanding: The Use and Abuse of Moral Talk.Brandon begins by defining moral grandstanding as the act of engaging in moral talk for self-promotion and status, and explains why he thinks moral grandstanding is a better term for this behavior than virtue signaling. We get into the difference between prestige and dominance status and how moral grandstanding can be used to obtain both types. We then discuss why it's tricky to know if you or someone else is engaging in moral grandstanding, before turning to whether there's a personality type or a side of the political spectrum that's more likely to grandstand. Brandon then delves into why moral grandstanding isn't just an annoyance on social media, but comes with real costs to society. We end our conversation with what we can do about moral grandstanding. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Gary Hoover loves books. Among the nine companies he founded was the bookstore chain Bookstop, which was acquired by Barnes & Noble. He has a personal collection of 60,000 books, which he had to purchase an abandoned medical center to house. And he's the author of his own book, which is about books, called The Lifetime Learner's Guide to Reading and Learning. Today on the show, Gary shares how his fascination with books was born in his youth, why the collection he amassed over the decades is almost entirely non-fiction, why he prefers physical books over ebooks, and why getting your hands on old books can be particularly beneficial in enhancing your knowledge of the world. From there we turn to Gary's method for digesting a book, which allows him to glean its most valuable nuggets in just thirty minutes, without having to read it cover to cover. We also talk about whether Gary takes notes on the books he reads, and how to incorporate more serendipity into the way you do your own reading and build your home library. Check out the show notes at aom.is/hoover See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Julian Treasure knows a thing or two about how to speak well. He's given five TED talks which have been watched over 125 million times, including one on, well, how to speak well, which resides in the top ten TED talks of all time. But as a former audio branding strategist, Julian got his start in the world of hearing, and as the title of his book — How to Be Heard: Secrets for Powerful Speaking and Listening — implies, he believes that if you really want to be a good communicator, you've got to learn how to be a good listener. So that's where we begin our conversation today. Julian shares why becoming a skilled listener is so important, and the practices you can use to do so. We then segue into the vocal part of communication, and Julian shares the four foundations for powerful speaking that apply whether you're talking in a casual conversation or on the TED stage. He discusses what separates the best TED talks from the just so-so, the breathing practice and posture cue that will improve the effectiveness of your vocal toolbox, and how to make your voice more resonant. We also discuss the physical gestures to generally avoid when speaking, including "the placater," and a highly effective tip for refining your body language. Show notes at aom.is/howtobeheard See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When people hear that Brian David Johnson is a futurist, they typically want him to offer up some predictions for what the world will look like 10, 20, 50 years from now. But Brian will explain to them that being a futurist is less about predicting the future than envisioning possibilities for it, choosing the one you want to build, and figuring out how to get there from the present. Brian works through this process of futurecasting for Fortune 500 companies and the military, and in his book, The Future You, he shows individuals how they can apply it to their personal lives. He shares what that looks like with us today on the show, beginning with the importance of envisioning the future not as something set that you're helplessly hurtling towards, but as something you can actively change and shape. We then talk about how to do your own futurecasting by figuring out what you want the life of the future you to look like, and identifying the tools and people that can get you there. Brian then explains how to get going towards your desired future and why that future is local. We end our conversation with what all this has to do with a quote from General Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Plans are useless, but planning is everything." After the show is over, check out the show notes at aom.is/futureyou See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
If you have any interest in World War II, then you've surely seen one of the most arresting photographs to come out of that conflict. In it, members of the 101st Airborne Division can be seen sporting mohawks and applying war paint to each other's faces right before they're set to parachute into Normandy. The idea for that pre-battle ritual came from Jake McNiece, part Choctaw Indian and the section sergeant of the Army's notorious "Filthy Thirteen" demolition unit, who had already proved himself a highly unorthodox leader long before the countdown to D-Day. Today on the show, Richard Killblane shares the story of Jake McNiece and the Filthy Thirteen with us. Richard is the author of two books about the unit — The Filthy Thirteen and War Paint — and is himself a veteran of the Army's Special Forces who served at every level in the military from private soldier to company commander, and ended his career as the Command Historian for the U.S. Army Transportation Corps. Richard describes how you could already see the kind of hell-raising-but-effective leader McNiece would become during his youth in Oklahoma, and why McNiece chose to become a paratrooper. Richard then talks about all the trouble McNiece got into during boot camp, how he ended up leading a section of fellow renegades, and why his superior officers kept him around despite his pattern of engaging in deliberate disobedience. Richard then explains what was going on with the Filthy Thirteen's pre-Normandy Invasion mohawks and war paint, and what McNiece and his men did on D-Day and during the rest of the war. Richard explains why it was that McNiece got promoted, despite never changing his rebellious ways, and we end our conversation with his surprising transformation after the war. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The ironic thing about our digital devices, is that they promise constant stimulation . . . and yet we find they end up making us feel numb. Numb in terms of struggling to be present. Numb in feeling overloaded with information and choices. Numb in feeling like we often view even our own experiences from a third-party perspective. My guest today, Dr. Charles Chaffin, has written a book called Numb: How the Information Age Dulls Our Senses and How We Can Get Them Back, which explores the various ways internet-induced numbness manifests itself, from FOMO to choice overload on dating apps. On the show today we focus in particular on how the news media and social media can negatively alter the way we experience life and what to do about it. We first discuss how recovering our sense of engagement with life begins with thinking about the fact that our attention is a finite resource, and being intentional about how we direct that resource. We then discuss how to deal with what Charles calls the "attention panhandlers" who vie for our engagement online. Charles talks about the phenomenon of compassion fatigue, where there are so many worthy causes you could take up, that you end up doing nothing at all. We then discuss how Instagram can change the way you experience life in an age where we can all feel like content creators. We end our conversation with how to wrest back control of your attention, and use it towards action rather than distraction. After the show is over, check out the show notes at aom.is/numb See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Everyone has experienced the way deadlines can act as a double-edged sword: on the one hand, they force us to get stuff done; but on the other, they often push us to wait until the last minute to get to work, so that we do that work in a poorly executed, slapdash rush. Scientists call that latter dynamic "the deadline effect," and my guest today has taken a field-tested dive into how to manage it, so that you can get the advantages of deadlines, without suffering from their downsides. His name is Chrisopther Cox, and he's the author of The Deadline Effect: How to Work Like It's the Last Minute—Before the Last Minute. We begin our conversation with how Chris's experience as a magazine editor got him interested in deadlines and what studies have shown as to both their benefits and their pitfalls. Chris then unpacks ways to harness the former towards greater productivity in both your personal and professional life, including creating interim checkpoints, knowing how to set reasonable due dates, planning left to right rather than right to left, and using what he calls "soft opens with teeth." Along the way, Chris explains these principles using a bunch of real world case studies, from the system a chef uses to open multiple Michelin 3-star restaurants to how the Telluride ski resort gets ready to open for the season. We end our conversation with what you can start doing today to take advantage of the power of deadlines in your own life. After the show is over, check out the show notes at aom.is/deadline See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Who and where do you want to be in the future? It's a question we typically answer by looking ahead. But, my guest would say, you can actually best find the answer by looking back. His name is William Damon, and he's a Stanford psychologist who studies adult development and purpose, and the author of A Round of Golf With My Father: The New Psychology of Exploring Your Past to Make Peace With Your Present. On the show today, Bill explains why you should consider doing something called a "life review," a process you can initiate at any age in order to get greater clarity on what is now probably a blur of memories around how you ended up who and where you are today. Bill explains the steps of doing a life review, and how doing one can do two things for you: 1) help you think more positively and gratefully about your life story — even its regrets — and understand why you made certain choices and developed as you did, and 2) help you refine your life's purpose, recognize that you can change and grow no matter where you are in the life cycle, and chart a course for further development in the future. Bill does this through the lens of the fascinating story around how he came to do his own life review, in order to better get to know himself, by getting to know his father, who he was told growing up was killed in World War II, but, Bill would discover, in fact survived the war and led a more complex life than Bill could have imagined. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
According to a recent survey, the percentage of men with at least six close friends has fallen by half since 1990, and men today are 5X more likely to say they don't even have a single close friend than they were thirty years ago. What are the reasons for this seeming friendship recession among men? Today I talk to the man who conducted that survey to try to find out. His name is Daniel Cox and he's the director of the Survey Center on American Life. Today on the show Daniel takes us on a tour of the state of friendship among modern men, beginning with the fact that men today have fewer friends and feel less emotionally connected to the ones they do have. We explore the irony that while people have long said that traditional norms of masculinity are what's holding men back from having fulfilling relationships, it's younger men, who are more progressive on those norms, who are struggling the most to make friends. Daniel talks about the fact that the male friendship recession isn't pandemic related, but rather seems to be linked to the weakening of ties to community institutions like church, the changing nature of work, and the fact that Americans are spending more and more time with their families. From there we go down a bunch of interesting avenues, including the fact that husbands rely more on their wives for emotional support than vice versa, why Daniel finds it concerning that young men today are more likely to first talk about their problems with their parents rather than their friends than was true 30 years ago, and the irony that single men are struggling the most to make friends even though they need them the most. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
What a gift the human self is. It enables you to sense and reflect upon your own existence; examine the past and plan for the future; check certain impulses in order to reach for other aims; and conceptualize how others see you, allowing you to better connect with them. But, my guest says, the blessing of the self also comes with a curse, one we need to get a handle on if we're to live flourishing lives. His name is Mark Leary, and he's a professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience and the author of The Curse of the Self: Self-Awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life. Today on the show, Mark unpacks exactly what the self is and its vital benefits, before delving into the downsides that also come with having a self. Mark then shares how people can make the most of the advantages of the self, while mitigating its disadvantages, including the practice he most recommends for quieting the kinds of self-related thoughts and ego-driven behaviors that can make us miserable. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Start jogging around the block, or simply sitting outside on a hot summer day, and you begin to feel moisture develop all over your body. Maybe a drop of sweat will roll down your face. Your clothes get sticky. You start feeling in greater intensity a process that's actually going on all the time: sweating. You may never have thought too much about your sweat, or perhaps been a little embarrassed by it when your sweat became noticeable in a socially delicate situation. But my guest today says that human sweat is in fact incredibly fascinating, and something you should embrace with real appreciation and enthusiasm. Her name is Sarah Everts and she's a science journalist and the author of The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration. Sarah and I begin our conversation with what sweat is, the two kinds your body produces, and how human sweating is unique and what Sarah calls our species' superpower. We then get into the surprising quickness with which the things we drink start coming out of our pores, why we sweat when we're anxious or nervous, whether how much you personally sweat comes down to genetics or environment, and why the fitter you are, the more you sweat. Sarah unpacks whether there are differences between how men and women sweat and smell, whether our dislike for body odor is innate or culturally conditioned, why some people are smellier than others, and the role that smell and pheromones play in attraction. Sarah also explains whether antiperspirants are bad for you and if you should switch to natural deodorant. We end our conversation with why it feels so good to make ourselves intentionally sweat through things like sauna-ing, and whether hitting the sauna can detox your body. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
“We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” While this quote from C.S. Lewis is often cited, few completely understand what Lewis meant by it, nor understand the book from which it was taken, The Abolition of Man, which, unlike Lewis's more popular works of fiction and Christian apologetics, is a broad philosophical treatise aimed at everyone, and perhaps the most admired and yet least accessible of Lewis's writings. My guest today has written a guide, called After Humanity, that is designed to make The Abolition of Man more understandable to the average reader. His name is Dr. Michael Ward and he's both a Catholic priest and a Senior Research Fellow at Oxford. Michael kicks off our conversation by offering a big picture overview of what The Abolition of Man was about, which centers on Lewis's argument against subjectivism, and for the idea that there exists objective moral values, the denial of which brings destructive consequences. We unpack the case Lewis makes for the existence of a natural order which underlies all religions and cultures, and why he called this universal, objective reality the "Tao." We then get into what Lewis meant by the idea of making "men without chests," the function of a man's chest, and why chests aren't being developed. We end our conversation with why moral debates can seem so shrill and fruitless in a world without agreement upon objective values, and if anything can be done to build the chests of modern men. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
A lot of organizations and individuals will set some aim for themselves, and then, when they reach the point where they should be seeing progress, but don't, seem surprised that things haven't worked out the way they hoped. They shouldn't be surprised, my guest would say, if they never had a strategy in place for reaching their goals. His name is Stanley K. Ridgley, he's a former military intelligence officer, a professor of business, and the lecturer of The Great Courses course, Strategic Thinking Skills. Today on the show, Stanley explains why strategy, whether implemented in business, the military, or your personal life, is so important when it comes to dealing with uncertainty, making decisions, winning competitions, and getting to where you want to go. He first explains why following "best practices" is not the same thing as following a strategy, and how real strategy is a cycle of mission-setting, analysis, and execution that never ends. He unpacks what strategic intent is, and why it's so important to be clear on yours. We then discuss two main approaches to strategy — cost leadership and differentiation, and why you need to adopt the latter in your own life, and stop treating yourself like a commodity. We also get into why indirect attacks on competitors can be more effective than frontal assaults, where people go wrong when it comes to the execution of their strategy, and the role that intuition plays for the master strategist. We end our conversation with what you can start doing today for five minutes in the morning to get closer to your goals. Along the way, Stanley gives examples from both war and business on how the art of strategy works in the field. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When most people think about losing weight, they think about the details of a diet plan — what food to eat, how much of it to eat, and when to eat it. What they don't spend enough time working on, are the mental and emotional habits that can sabotage their efforts, regardless of the diet plan they adopt. That's why my guest today, despite being a biochemist, has made mindset the foundation of his approach to losing weight. His name is Dr. Trevor Kashey and he's the founder of Trevor Kashey Nutrition (TKN). We begin our conversation with a thumbnail of Trevor's unique background, which includes earning his first university degree in biochemistry at the age of 17, setting national records in powerlifting, and coaching an Olympic fight team, as well as how he went from coaching elite athletes to helping average folks lose weight. We then talk about why Trevor focuses on bridging the gap between knowledge and action, and the erroneous assumptions people make that keep them from following through on their intentions. From there we turn to the phases TKN takes its clients through, which begins with getting what Trevor calls “food clarity.” We discuss how simply tracking what you eat can get you to naturally change your diet because of something called “the Hawthorne effect,” and can almost be all you need to do to start losing weight. We then get into how to deal with your hunger when you're cutting calories, and why it's crucial to be decisive about it. We also discuss how you can eventually eat more once you work on eating less, how to manage the expectation of consistent weight loss, and why you really need to weigh yourself every week. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Editor's Note: This is a rebroadcast. It originally aired June 2020. One of the most burning questions in life is what it is you're called to do with it. What is your life's purpose? What great work are you meant to do? Guidance on this question can come from many sources, and my guest today says that one of the best is the Bhagavad Gita, a text of Hindu scripture thousands of years old. He's a psychotherapist, yoga teacher, and author of The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling. Stephen Cope and I begin our conversation with an introduction to the Bhagavad Gita, the significant influence it's had on philosophers and leaders for ages, and what it can teach us about making difficult decisions. We then discuss the insights the Gita offers on the four pillars of right living, beginning with discerning your true calling or sacred duty. We unpack the three areas in your life to examine for clues to your life's purpose, and why that purpose may be small and quiet rather than big and splashy. Stephen then explains the doctrine of unified action, why you have to pursue your calling full out, and why that pursuit should include the habit of deliberate practice. We also discuss why it's central to let go of the outcome of actions to focus on the work itself, and the need to turn your efforts over to something bigger than yourself. All along the way, Stephen offers examples of how these pillars were embodied in the lives of eminent individuals who lived out their purpose. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When Chris Kronner took his first head chef position at an upscale restaurant, he inherited a menu which featured a popular burger. At first he resented having to hold onto it. But then he began to wonder, and be captured by, how he might experiment with and elevate this sandwich standby. Thus began a decade-long obsession with creating the perfect, mouth-wateringly tasty burger. In his new book, A Burger to Believe In: Recipes and Fundamentals, Chris shares how he turned what he learned in his quixotic quest into the Bay Area's famous Kronnerburger, as well as accessible tips that can be used by the average backyard chef to level up their burger game. Chris shares some of those tips today on the show, beginning with the best kind of beef chuck to use in your burgers and why the method you use to cook your burgers should vary depending on their fat content. We then get into why Chris likes to use dry aged beef in his burgers, and how you can make your own in the kind of mini fridge you'd keep in a dorm room. From there we delve into the optimal size and shape of the patty, Chris' surprising pick for buns, the ideal proportionality of toppings, and Chris' take on the desirability of putting ketchup on your burger. We also get into our mutually conflicted feelings about pairing one's burger with French fries, and, if you need to get your burger fix on the run, what fast food chain Chris thinks has the best burgers. Get the show notes at aom.is/burger. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When Americans think about their country's Founding Fathers, they tend to think of them as cool and competent figures, who were supremely confident in the superiority and longevity of the republican government they had created. But my guest says that nearly all the founders experienced great internal and external conflict in conjunction with the new government, and came to be greatly pessimistic about the future of the democratic experiment they had helped birth. His name is Dennis C. Rasmussen and he's a professor of political theory and the author of Fears of a Setting Sun: The Disillusionment of America's Founders. Today on the show, Dennis unpacks how four of the founders — George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson — ultimately came to worry that the American republic wouldn't last past their own generation, based on concerns that ranged from the rise of partisanship to a lack of virtue amongst the American citizenry. Dennis also discusses why it was that one founder, James Madison, remained optimistic about the future of the country. We end our conversation with why the disillusionment of the founders actually carries a message of hope for us. Get the show notes at aom.is/settingsun. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Three-quarters of our face-to-face communication with other people is given through nonverbal cues — the way we smile, hold our arms, raise or lower our voice, and so on. This body language is what helps us make a good impression, build rapport, and collaborate and create with others. It's no wonder then, that in an age where so much of our communication has moved to the digital realm, which is largely devoid of this body language, misunderstandings and miscommunications are so common. My guest would say that the key to improving our digital communication is to translate the body language of the physical world into our texts, emails, and calls. Her name is Erica Dhawan, and she's a leadership consultant and speaker, as well as the author of Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection No Matter the Distance. Today on the show, Erica explains the way things like how long it takes you to respond to a text, what punctuation you use in your messages, and how you sign off your emails can all affect the impression you make in your personal and professional relationships. We discuss the significance of exclamation points in our digital communication, using the example of how putting one after the word "sure" can convey a different meaning than using an ellipsis or nothing at all. Erica then gives her take on if and when to use emojis. From there we turn to how to avoid putting passive aggression into your messages, and how to deal with receiving messages that feel laden with such. We then unpack the best way to sign off on your emails. Erica explains how to choose the right communication channel — text, email, or video/phone — for your communication and the expectations as to how quickly you should respond to messages that are received on each respective medium. We end our conversation with what to do when someone's digital communication style leaves you frustrated or confused. Get the show notes at aom.is/digitalbodylanguage. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Editor's Note: This is a rebroadcast. The episode originally aired in November 2017. 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. Get the show notes at aom.is/hermit. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Winston Churchill once said of his only son: "I love Randolph, but I don't like him." It's a sentiment many a parent with a tumultuous relationship with one of their children can relate to, and well describes both how Winston felt about Randolph, and how Randolph felt about his father. My guest today details Winston and Randolph's incredibly close and yet terribly complex and combustible relationship in his book, Churchill & Son. His name is Josh Ireland, and we begin our discussion with how Winston's own harsh and neglectful father influenced his decision to be a much more involved and ultimately indulgent family man, and the way he spoiled a son who was already inclined towards appalling behavior. Josh describes the manner in which Winston and Randolph both bonded and fought, and the effect the trouble Randolph caused had on the relationship between Winston and his wife. We then get into how World War II, and the way Winston may have encouraged Randolph's wife to cheat on him with an American diplomat, affected Randolph's relationship with his father for the worse. Josh explains the outsized expectations Winston had for Randolph, the points at which father and son respectively realized they'd never be fulfilled, and the lesson to be taken from their story about the cost of parents imposing their own dreams on their children. We end our conversation by discussing why it is that the children of great leaders rarely turn out well themselves, for, as Randolph himself observed, "Nothing grows in the shadow of a great oak tree." Get the show notes at aom.is/churchillandson. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When we're failing to do the things that are most important in our lives, the typical diagnosis of the problem is to believe we're simply not working hard enough, and the typical solution to the problem is to put in more effort, apply more discipline, and grind it out. My guest would say that we're thinking about both the root and the remedy of the issue in the wrong way. His name is Greg McKeown, and he's the author of the bestseller Essentialism, as well as his latest book, Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most. Today on the show, Greg shares how he came to realize that life isn't just about focusing on the essentials, but making those essential things the easy things. We discuss why it is that we commonly make things harder than they need to be, and how while the right thing can be hard, just because something is hard, doesn't make it the right thing. We then discuss the role that emotions like gratitude play in making things feel more effortless, why you need to have a clear vision of what being done looks like (including having a Done for the Day list), how to overcome the difficulty of getting started with things through microbursts of action, and how to keep going with them using a sustainable pace marked by upper and lower bounds. We end our conversation with how seeking an effortless state applies to one's spiritual life. Along the way, Greg shares stories from history and his own life as to what it means to get to your goals using a more effortless path. Get the show notes at aom.is/effortless. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
If you're someone who wants to lose weight, you've probably spent some time thinking about and experimenting with different diets. Browse the literal shelves of a bookstore or the metaphorical ones of the internet, and you can find thousands of options to choose from, each with their ardent fans and supposedly decisive rationales. But which diet really works best, and, most importantly, given that 95% of people who lose weight on one gain it back, is a plan that an average human can stick with for the long haul? My guest today is in a distinctly well-informed position to comment on this question, having personally test-driven over a dozen diets in three years. His name is Barry Estabrook, and he's an investigative journalist and the author of Just Eat: One Reporter's Quest for a Weight-Loss Regimen That Works. We begin our conversation with what set Barry on his quest to find the best, most sustainable diet. We then get into the fact that the ideas behind modern diets aren't new, and the sometimes weird history of their predecessors. From there we turn to Barry's experiments with contemporary diets, including what happened when he tried eating both low-carb and low-fat, joining Weight Watchers, and figuring out what he could learn from the eating habits of the Greeks and French. We end our conversation with what Barry ultimately changed about his own diet to successfully drop the pounds, and what he discovered as to what really works best for sustainable weight loss. Get the show notes at aom.is/rightdiet. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Why do we want the things we want? While we'll offer up plenty of reasons to explain our choices, my guest today says the real reason we want what we want is this: other people in our lives want those same things. His name is Luke Burgis and he's studied philosophy, theology, and classical literature, works as a business entrepreneur, investor, and educator, and is the author of Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life. Luke and I discuss how our desires are strongly mimetic, that is, imitative, and how there are two groups of people that act as models of desire for us: celebrities and public figures who are distant from us, and friends, family, and colleagues who are close to us. Luke explains why it's actually that latter group where we experience the most rivalry and conflict, because the more similar we are, the more we end up competing for the same things, the more envy we experience, and the more we want to differentiate ourselves from the crowd, even though the areas in which to do so can be increasingly small. In fact, someone can be a model of desire, not only in influencing us to imitate them, but in motivating us to act in the opposite way. Luke shares how mimetic desire can be both a negative and destructive or a positive and productive force, and offers advice on how to harness it for the latter purpose by humbly recognizing the way other people are influencing our wants, and using that knowledge to opt out of games we don't want to play, utilize the healthy aspects of competition without allowing it to get us off track, and intentionally choose worthy, even transcendent, models of desire to emulate. Get the show notes at aom.is/wanting. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When you're deciding what to wear in the morning, or on the viability of some activity for the weekend, you'll likely turn to a weather app to see what the forecast holds. My guest today would suggest supplementing that habit with another: actually going outside, looking at the sky and feeling the air in order to engage in an ancient and satisfying practice and build a more intimate relationship with the weather and the world around you. His name is Tristan Gooley and he's a master outdoorsman, expert natural navigator, and global adventurer, as well as the author of The Secret World of Weather: How to Read Signs in Every Cloud, Breeze, Hill, Street, Plant, Animal, and Dewdrop. Tristan and I begin our conversation with how modern meteorological science is incredibly useful, but has also disconnected us from the weather signs right in front of our faces, as well as the different microclimates that can exist even on two different sides of a tree. We then do a quick review of some of the basic scientific/meteorological principles that underlie understanding the weather, before turning to the concrete, research-backed, field-tested, signs you can observe in your environment to predict the weather, like the shape and height of clouds, and why you should check those clouds from lunchtime onward. We discuss whether there's truth to the old saying, "red sky at night, sailors' delight; red sky in morning, sailors take warning," and what changes in plants and the behavior of animals can tell you about the coming forecast, We end our conversation with how to get started today with predicting the weather using natural signs. Get the show notes at aom.is/weather. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Editor’s Note: This is a re-broadcast. This episode originally aired in April 2019. Plato’s Republic is a seminal treatise in Western political philosophy and thought. It hits on ideas that we’re still grappling with in our own time, including the nature of justice and what the ideal political system looks like. But my guest today argues that The Republic also has a lot to say about manliness, character development, and education in our current climate of safe spaces and trigger warnings. His name is Jacob Howland. He’s a professor of philosophy at the University of Tulsa and the author of the recent book Glaucon’s Fate: History, Myth, and Character in Plato’s Republic. We begin our conversation with an outline of Plato’s Republic and how it combines literature and philosophy. Jacob then makes the case that in The Republic, Socrates was attempting to save the soul of Plato’s politically ambitious brother, Glaucon, and why he thinks Socrates failed. Along the way we discuss what Socrates’ attempt to save Glaucon can teach us about andreia or manliness and what it means to seek the Good in life. We end our conversation discussing the way The Republic teaches us of the need to possess not only physical courage, but the courage to think for oneself and stand up for one’s beliefs — a courage that is tested in a time like our own, where it can feel difficult to ask hard questions and wrestle with thorny issues. Get the show notes at aom.is/republic. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Seventy-six years years after the end of World War II, that singular event continues to capture our interest and fascination. There's a reason for that; the war combined two greatly compelling things — the epic, historic sweep of large-scale battles and the personal stories of the individual young men who fought in them with determined resolve and humble heroism. My guest has written a book that deftly combines both of these elements into a thoroughly memorable tale. His name is James Sullivan and he's the author of Unsinkable: Five Men and the Indomitable Run of the U.S.S. Plunkett. Today on the show, Jim shares the story of the Plunkett — the only Navy ship to participate in every Allied invasion in the European theatre — as well as the stories of a group of men who served on this destroyer. We begin with the personal connection Jim has to the Plunkett, and how he got interested in learning more about the ship. Jim then explains the role the Navy's destroyers played during WWII, before getting into the backstories of some of the men who served aboard the Plunkett. From there we delve into the escorting and landing operations the Plunkett was involved in leading up to its arrival along the Italian coast at Anzio, where a dozen German bombers bore down on the ship in one of the most savage attacks of the war, and how the ship yet lived to fight another day. We end our conversation with what happened to the men Jim profiled, how the war affected their lives, and how their lives affected Jim. Get the show notes at aom.is/unsinkable. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
After more than a year of being cooped up due to pandemic restrictions, lots of people are itching to hit the open road and get the heck out of dodge. If that's you, my guests have some great tips for planning and executing an awesome road trip. Their names are Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi and they're the proprietors of the RV Atlas blog and podcast, the authors of several books on camping and road tripping, and veteran road trippers themselves, having, together with their three boys, spent over a thousand nights at hundreds of campgrounds from coast to coast. We start off our conversation with how the Puglisis began road tripping with a pop-up camper, and the benefits of driving places rather than flying. We then get into how to dip your toes into RVing without a big commitment, and whether there’s an ideal age to start taking RV trips with your kids. From there we get into best practices for planning and executing a road trip, whether you're going by RV or car, including the biggest mistakes people make, the art of road trip snacks, and when it's better to fly versus drive. We also talk about how to keep kids entertained on the road, including how to handle the issue of screen time. We end our conversation with the benefits of staying at campsites rather than hotels, why you might want to look into private KOA campgrounds, and why planning a great road trip always starts with picking a great destination. Get the show notes at aom.is/roadtrip. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
for knowing the death which was about to come upon them by reason of those who were going round the mountain, they displayed upon the barbarians all the strength which they had, to its greatest extent, disregarding danger and acting as if possessed by a spirit of recklessness. So wrote the Greek historian Herodotus, our main source as to what happened at the Battle of Thermopylae, clearly impressed by the bravery the Spartans showed in making a stand against multitudes of invading Persian warriors. Even down to the present time, this legendary battle continues to capture our imagination, and my guest today will go beyond pop culture depictions of it, to describe what really led up to Thermopylae, how the epic clash that happened in a narrow coastal pass in Greece unfolded, and why it matters. His name is Paul Cartledge, and he's an ancient historian, professor of Greek culture, and the author of several books on Sparta, including Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World. At the start of the show, Paul describes Sparta's martial training system which allowed it to become a dominant power in Greece, the Spartans relationship with other city-states, and how they ended up partnering with their sometimes enemy, Athens, in repelling a second Persian invasion. We discuss who made up the famous 300 Spartan warriors who would defend the Grecian pass to the death, how they armed and prepared for combat, and what happened over three days of battle. We end our conversation with the importance of the Spartans' courageous stand at Thermopylae not only in the outcome of the Greco-Persian Wars, but the course of world history. Get the show notes at aom.is/thermopylae. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
How do you form a meaningful connection with another person? Well, it starts with simply opening your mouth. From there, my guest says, you want to progress through a conversation, or perhaps a series of conversations, in a particular sequence of stages that will form an effective on-ramp towards a stronger relationship. Her name is Judy Apps, she's a speaking and voice coach and the author of several books on communication, including The Art of Conversation. Today Judy and I discuss that art, beginning with why it's so important to learn. We then get into the different levels a conversation should progress through in order to build intimacy and smoothly segue into discussing the things that matter most. Judy explains how to bring the kind of energy to a conversation that creates connection, and two exercises you can use to overcome the self-consciousness that can thwart that energy. Along the way, we discuss how conversation is both a game that you can have fun practicing, and a dance that can flow into some of life's most magical moments. Get the show notes at aom.is/artofconversation. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Our world has never been more convenient and comfortable. With just a few taps of our fingers, we can order food to our door, access endless entertainment options, and keep our climate at a steady 72 degrees. We don't have to put in much effort, much less face any risk or challenge, in order to sustain our daily lives. In some ways, this quantum leap in humanity's comfort level is a great boon. But in other ways, it's absolutely killing our minds, bodies, and spirit. My guest says it's time to reclaim the currently-hard-to-come-by but truly essential benefits of discomfort. His name is Michael Easter, and he's a writer, editor, and professor, and the author of The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort to Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self. Michael first shares how his experience with getting sober helped him discover the life-changing potential of doing hard things, before digging into what fleeing from discomfort is doing to our mental and physical health. We then discuss the Japanese idea of misogis, which involves taking on an epic outdoor challenge, and why Michael decided to do a misogi in which he participated in a month-long caribou hunt in the backcountry of Alaska. Michael shares what he learned from the various challenges he encountered during his misogi — including intense hunger, boredom, solitude, and physical exertion —as well as what research can teach all of us about why we need to incorporate these same kinds of discomforts into our everyday lives. Get the show notes at aom.is/comfortcrisis. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Whether you've been dating someone for a short time or been married for years, there's one question that can remain perennially interesting — did I choose the right partner? My guest today has some answers to that question that aren't based on crowd-sourced anecdotes or biased personal hunches, but reams of scientific research. His name is Ty Tashiro and he's a professor of psychology, a relationship expert, and the author of The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love. We begin our discussion with the difference between loving someone and being in love with them, and how the latter comes down to a combination of like and lust. Ty shares the three elements that go into liking, and how this liking piece is really the foundation of long-lasting relational happiness, even though it tends to get underemphasized. Ty then reveals the surprisingly low ROI of factors like looks and income in relationship happiness, before unpacking the factors that do have an outsized impact in contributing to enduring love. We discuss which personality traits are predictive of relationship stability and satisfaction, which have the opposite effect, and why you need to ask your friends for their assessment of your significant other's personality, rather than only assessing it yourself. We also get into the importance of your partner's attachment style, which they learned in childhood, and two red flags to look for in your relationship. These insights will prove super useful for those in the dating scene, but will also be of interest to those already in long-term relationships, in either affirming the wisdom of your choice of partner, or helping you identify issues that may be sabotaging your relationship and can still be addressed. Get the show notes at aom.is/love. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Fishing has long lent itself to imparting philosophical parallels and metaphorical life lessons. But these homespun platitudes can, to be honest, tend to get a little timeworn and cliche. My guest today breathes new life into what fishing, specifically fly fishing, has to teach anglers and non-anglers alike, while also giving us a look inside the skill, fun, and sensibilities of this sport. His name is David Coggins, and he's a travel and style writer, as well as the author of The Optimist: A Case for the Fly Fishing Life. David and I discuss the different types of fly fishing that exist, and what they say about your personality, stage in life, and how we all choose the way we're going to do something. We then discuss the way that pursuits like fly fishing are not just about their mechanics, but the experience as a whole, which includes things like eating hash browns at a diner in Montana. We talk about the importance of mentors, and David's experience with two old guys who showed him the fly fishing ropes. We then get into why men love getting ready for something as much as actually doing it, before delving into the tension between wanting to nab a fish, and being okay when you don't, and how part of growing up is learning how to care, but not care. We end our conversation with the best route for getting into the fly fishing life, and how you can get started in a way that's both affordable and close to home. Get the show notes at aom.is/flyfish. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
There's no shortage of information out there on how to change — how to lose weight, exercise more, curb your anger, quit smoking, and every other kind of habit someone might want to pick up or drop. But despite this avalanche of information, you're probably struggling to change just as much as you ever did. What you need is an actual strategy — to identify what particular barrier is keeping you from a particular goal, and a specific solution to that specific roadblock. My guest is well-positioned to help you cut through the voluminous noise around personal change and hone in on both sides of this equation. Her name is Katy Milkman, and she's a Wharton professor who's spent her career studying behavioral economics and the author of How to Change: The Science of Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. On the show today, Katy and I walk through common reasons people aren't successful in changing, and the best, research-backed tools for turning uphill battles into downhill ones. We discuss the ideal times to begin a new habit and the power of fresh starts, how to get motivated to tackle something when there are more pleasurable things you'd rather be doing, how to use commitment devices to stay the course, why giving advice to someone else can help you take that advice yourself, and the crucial importance of surrounding yourself with peers who are better — but not too much better — than you are. Get the show notes at aom.is/toolsforchange. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
It's a common life trajectory for men: graduate college, get married, get a 9 to 5 job, have some kids, settle down in the suburbs. And somewhere along that way, they start to get a little soft and stagnant. They let themselves go, becoming less active, and more sedentary. They have more material possessions but fewer hobbies and interests. They lose their edge. My guest has spent his life battling against this loss. In his more than five decades on earth, he's served in the French navy, trained soldiers in close quarter combat, skydiving, long-range weapon shooting, first aid, and explosives, set a deep water scuba diving record, and studied multiple martial arts, and he currently owns a gym, teaches as a MovNat Master Instructor, and coaches men over forty in how to live better, stronger, and more vibrant lives. His name is Vic Verdier and today on the show he shares his advice on how a man can stay fit and engaged with life as he gets older. We first discuss Vic's background before getting into why it's important for men to seek physical achievement and become physical polymaths, and the role strength training, cardio, and working on your balance plays in that pursuit. Vic then shares his advice on keeping the pounds down and your testosterone up as you age, and why he thinks training in combatives is important on both a practical and psychological level. We talk about the importance of maintaining a connection to nature and keeping your possessions minimal, before ending our conversation with why it's important to stay comfortable with being uncomfortable, and how men can continue to seek adventure and exploration, even when they live in the suburbs. Get the show notes at aom.is/edge. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
We tend to throw the word "genius" around pretty casually, saying so-and-so has a genius for a particular skill, or sarcastically pointing out someone's failure by saying, "Nice work, genius!" But what makes an actual genius, a genius? My guest today has spent over two decades exploring that question by studying the world's most iconic and original thinkers and creators, both past and present. His name is Craig Wright, he's a professor emeritus of music at Yale who continues to teach a course there called "Exploring the Nature of Genius," and he's the author of The Hidden Habits of Genius: Beyond Talent, IQ, and Grit—Unlocking the Secrets of Greatness. Today on the show Craig reveals the characteristics and patterns of behavior of true geniuses, and begins by answering the questions of whether there's a connection between genius and intelligence, and whether genius is hereditary. We talk about several drivers of genius, including situational advantages, a childlike ability to play with possibilities, a keen curiosity, a strong memory, broad interests and vision, the ability to toggle between intense concentration and loose relaxation, and keeping a daily routine. We then discuss whether there's a connection between genius and mental health issues, and what effect being a genius tends to have on someone's personal life. Along the way, Craig illustrates his points with examples from the lives of Mozart, da Vinci, Steve Jobs, and more. Get the show notes at aom.is/genius. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Several years ago, there was a tweet that went viral which said that of Jesus' many miracles, perhaps his greatest, was having 12 close friends in his 30s. As people say, it's funny, because it's true. When my guest today came face-to-face with the anemic state of his own friendships, he set out to try to do the miraculous himself, and make friends in middle-age. His name is Billy Baker and he's a journalist and the author of We Need to Hang Out: A Memoir of Making Friends. Billy and I begin our conversation with the problem of male loneliness in the modern age, and how it befell him in his own life. We then discuss how men and women do friendships differently, the way men do theirs shoulder to shoulder, what this means for what male friendships need to be built around, and why they require what he calls “velvet hooks.” Billy shares how he started his project, which experimented with different ways to recover and create connections, by rekindling his old friendships, but why that ultimately didn't scratch the friendship itch for him. Billy then describes what did: a kind of casual fraternity for middle-aged men he started, and how it was inspired by something called the "men’s shed" movement in Australia and its philosophy that men need "somewhere to go, something to do, and someone to talk to." We end our conversation with Billy's takeaways for making friends in adulthood, including the need for embracing intentionality and social risk. Get the show notes at aom.is/makefriends. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.