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How To! With Charles Duhigg
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How To! With Charles Duhigg

Author: Slate Podcasts

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What if Dear Abby was an investigative reporter? Each week on How To!, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg ("The Power of Habit") takes on listeners’ toughest problems and, with the help of experts, finds the answers to questions you’ve always wanted to ask, but couldn’t. Until now.

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Matt’s dad believes some crazy conspiracy theories—that the moon landing was faked, that JFK’s assassination was an inside job, and that QAnon is real. Matt can’t stand talking about politics—or really anything—with his dad these days, but he’s desperate to preserve their relationship. In this episode of How To!, we bring on Colin Dickey, cultural historian and author of The Unidentified, to explain why conspiracy theories are more popular than ever. To get through to a loved one, Colin says, don’t dismiss the conspiracy theory outright. If you want any hope of changing someone’s mind you have to first understand the void that it may be filling in their life.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Confront a Crazy Neighbor With Tig Notaro.” Do you have a struggling relationship with a family member? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Abe’s girlfriend wants to try something different—sleeping with other people. In other words, she wants an open relationship. Abe could be on board, but he has some questions. How does that work exactly? What are the ground rules? And what if it ultimately causes them to break up? After all, they’ve been a couple for the better part of 10 years, and just moved back in together after some time apart. In this episode of How To!, we bring on Rich Juzwiak and Stoya, columnists for Slate’s How To Do It sex advice column. Rich and Stoya have the expert tips—and the personal experience—to help Abe navigate this brave new world and decide whether an open relationship is right for him. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Talk to Your Son About Sex.” Do you have a question about how to make your relationship work better? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Subscribe for free on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mike is an average guy on a mission to change the state of Florida—specifically, to convince the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to stop overspraying the rivers and lakes with herbicides. As a fisherman, Mike cares deeply about the waterways in his state, but he’s struggling to break into the conversation and make a real impact. In this episode of How To!, we bring on Erin Brockovich, the citizen activist and inspiration for the Oscar-winning film Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts. Drawing on her new book Superman’s Not Coming, she has tips for how Mike can follow in her footsteps to enact environmental change. As much as Mike may want to keep shouting about his cause until someone listens, he may need to switch tactics to actually get people to hear him. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Save the Planet (And Still Use a Plastic Straw).” Are you facing a challenge that seems insurmountable? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sam and his sister used to be close, but lately their relationship feels strained. Years of favoritism toward Sam by their parents has taken its toll and now, after one disastrous family celebration, Sam worries he may lose his sister entirely. Can Sam save their relationship before it’s too late? In this episode of How To!, we bring on a pair of famous siblings who have navigated everything from an estranged father to Hollywood drama: Kate and Oliver Hudson, actors and the hosts of Sibling Revelry. The Hudsons know how hard it can be to redefine your relationship in adulthood. To start, separate your own struggles from your sibling’s and bring the focus back to your shared experience. You don’t need to sort out a lifetime of baggage in one conversation, but try to remember the original bond you had as siblings growing up. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Put Your Wife’s Career First.” Do you have a family problem you need a third-party perspective on? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Have you ever had a moment where you realized… I’m becoming like my parents? For many of us that can be a funny realization, but for Michelle it was a wakeup call. Her mother can be a bit of a drama queen, and as time has gone on, Michelle feels like the way she reacts to stressful situations mirrors that of her mother. In fact, Michelle’s boyfriend once told her she was turning into her mother, which, according to Michelle, was “the worst thing anyone could ever say to me.” In this episode of How To!, we bring on Susan David, a professor at Harvard Medical School, and the author of Emotional Agility. She has tips for how Michelle can recognize the patterns she’s falling into and turn her emotional fragility into emotional agility.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Walk Away From an Impossible Parent.” Do you have a relationship you’d like to mend? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Isabelle decided to spend her gap year as a political volunteer campaigning on behalf of Joe Biden. She’s been writing postcards, making phone calls, and even posting on social media. But she worries she’s not making enough of an impact, and is surprised by how many people are convinced their vote doesn’t matter. In this special bonus episode of How To!, we bring on Don Green, professor of political science at Columbia and co-author of the book Get Out the Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout. He recommends the most effective way to connect with potential voters and convince them to actually cast their ballot. It turns out yard signs are overrated.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Talk Politics Without Wrecking Relationships.” If you have a question, send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Back in 2018, newly elected U.S. Representative Katie Hill was a rising star in the Democratic Party. Then unauthorized nude photos of her were leaked to a right-wing blog by her estranged husband, triggering a House Ethics investigation. Katie denied the worst allegations but admitted to a relationship with a female subordinate on her campaign, and, amid immense pressure, resigned her seat. Since then she has written a new memoir She Will Rise, and continues to fight for her reputation. In this episode of How To!, we bring on Jon Ronson, the author of So You've Been Publicly Shamed, to help Katie understand what she went through and put it behind her. They discuss other examples of public shaming and how gender factors into the equation. Who determines the appropriate level of accountability and how do you know when you’ve apologized enough? No matter what happened, Jon says, we should all think twice before piling on to a public shaming. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Say the Right Thing at the Worst Time.” Do you have a relationship you’d like to mend? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On a recent phone call Shannon’s mom didn’t mince words: The only way she’d vote for Joe Biden is if Jesus himself comes down and tells her to. Growing up in a conservative household, Shannon understands her parents’ support for Trump. But she no longer sees eye-to-eye with them and every time they talk about politics it turns into a fight. The result is a complete fraying of their relationship. In this episode of How To!, we bring on Bill Doherty, professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota, and co-founder of the non-profit Braver Angels, to help Shannon and her parents navigate this heated election season. The most important thing to remember, Bill says, is that you can’t change your parents’ minds. But you can still save your relationship by recognizing shared values and treating each other as people, not political opponents. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Get a Stubborn Parent to Listen.” Do you have a relationship you’d like to mend? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
John needs to shed 15-20 pounds. At age 72, on the cusp of retirement, he wants to reduce his blood pressure medication and have more energy to travel. John knows how to lose weight—at an earlier point in his life he lost more than 50 pounds! But now he’s gained much of it back, and with his wife baking him more sweets during the pandemic, he can’t motivate himself to keep the weight off. In this episode of How To!, we bring on Katy Milkman, a behavioral economist at the University of Pennsylvania to help John try some new mental tricks to achieve his goals. Start by reengineering your environment, Katy says, then create a concrete plan with loved ones who can hold you accountable. John can use a turning point, like his impending retirement, to kickstart a new weight-loss regimen that sticks. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Lose 155 Pounds Happily.” Do you have a bad habit you need to break? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
One day in 1987, a young girl in a small town in upstate New York disappeared and then turned up dead. For seven years her murder went unsolved, until police finally caught the killer, a local man whom everyone knew. The town would never be the same, according to our listener Jen who grew up there. She’s a true crime fanatic and first-time podcaster who wants to investigate how the murderer got away with it for so long. In this episode of How To!, we bring on Jessica Garrison, a BuzzFeed News senior editor of investigations and author of the book The Devil’s Harvest. She shares the story of a notorious California contract killer who got away with more than 30 murders over 3 decades before he was brought to justice. In order to understand how that could happen, Jessica says, you need to look at the victims, who are often powerless and overlooked by society because of their class, race or immigration status. The ways in which we tell their stories can have outsized consequences on the entire criminal justice system. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Forgive the Unforgivable.” Do you have a mystery in your life you need help solving? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Shayne defuses bombs for the military, but in his personal life he’s terrified of confrontation. Take, for example, the time his kids’ babysitter cleaned out a week’s worth of groceries from his fridge and he never said anything. Shayne wants to be understanding and give people the benefit of the doubt, but he ends up feeling taken advantage of time and time again. On this episode of How To!, we bring in Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator and author of Never Split the Difference, to help Shayne stand up for himself. No matter how conflict-averse you are there are a few key ways you can persuade people to give you what you want—whether you’re arguing at home with your spouse, trying to get a free upgrade at a hotel, or, in Chris’s case, negotiating with terrorists. Empathy can be a powerful tool, Chris says, if you know how to use it.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Convince People to Give You Money.” Are you worried about accomplishing your goals? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Subscribe for free on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
College application season is here and Aria, a 17 year-old senior, is stressing—even more than usual. At her high school in Chicago’s south suburbs, she gets good grades, is on the cheer team, in multiple honor societies, leads the choral ensemble, and hosts her own feminist podcast. But now that Aria’s learning remotely during a pandemic, her anxiety is off the charts. How can she possibly choose a college, much less a career, amid such uncertainty? In this episode of How To!, we bring in Eve Ewing, a multi-talented poet, author, and sociologist, to help Aria work through her worries about the future. Like Aria, Eve spent time in Chicago-area public schools—first as a student and then, to her own surprise, as a teacher. Eve knows you can’t plan your exact path from Point A to Z. Instead, just focus on taking the next best step forward, Eve says, and trust that when you do, you’ll be getting that much closer to the person you’re destined to become. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Perform Under Pressure.” Are you worried about accomplishing your goals? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Subscribe for free on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Thirteen-year-old Henry seems like a model son. He gets good grades, plays on the hockey team, and has a solid group of friends. But Henry’s been spending a lot more time on the Internet during the pandemic, and recently brought up something that troubled his parents—that a woman could ruin a man’s career by accusing him of sexual harassment. Now his parents wonder what other forms of toxic masculinity Henry is learning online and in the locker room. In this episode of How To!, we bring on Peggy Orenstein, author of Boys & Sex, to share what she’s learned about how to raise a boy into a modern man. When it comes to sex and consent, Peggy says, this shouldn’t be one single talk. Instead, over the course of many conversations, help your kids understand that most media—and especially porn—does not portray sex realistically. Try to talk about intimacy in a positive way, rather than just warning your son what to avoid or how things can go wrong. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Get Your Kid to Finally Grow Up.” Do you need help having a hard conversation? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Subscribe for free on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Anna is sure the amount of time her two children spend on YouTube or Roblox cannot be good for them. With remote learning this fall, Anna is worried their addiction to screens is only going to worsen, stunting their imagination and exposing them to dangers online. In this episode of How To!, we bring on Devorah Heitner, author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World, to help Anna figure out the most constructive ways to monitor and guide her children’s screen time. The first step, Devorah says, is to realize not all screen time is created equal. Stop thinking of technology as the enemy. Instead, how can you help your kids translate their obsession with video games or social media into real-world skills? If you liked this episode, check out “How To Put Down Your Phone.” Do you have a bad habit you need to break? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Subscribe for free on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mitchell is a physical therapy student who dreams of revolutionizing the industry. What if physical therapists and their patients weren’t so constrained by insurance companies? His classmates and professors think he’s crazy, but Mitchell thinks disrupting the status quo could help a lot of people—if only he knew how to get started. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Guy Raz, the host of NPR’s How I Built This and author of the new book of the same title, to share what he’s learned from the hundreds of entrepreneurs who have come on his podcast. When calculating risk vs. reward, Guy says, think about the difference between something being scary vs. dangerous. It’s scary to build a startup and potentially fail, but think how dangerous it would be to have a boring job always wondering “what if”? If you liked this episode, check out “How To Fire Your Daughter.” Do you have a dream you wish you could turn into reality? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Subscribe for free on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Expert tips for navigating a most unusual back-to-school season. A special three-part series coming September 1st! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The trouble began when Sarah put a fern in front of her new condo. Nice, right? The woman who lives in the unit above didn’t think so, and without warning sent Sarah a slew of passive-aggressive notes. Sarah thinks it’s all a big misunderstanding, but now her neighbor refuses to even speak to her. Sarah is wracked with anxiety, struggling to sleep, and contemplating moving out. On this episode of How To!, we turn to stand-up comedian Tig Notaro, a cancer survivor and host of the new advice podcast Don’t Ask Tig, to help Sarah approach the situation with humor and clarity. When things don’t go your way, Tig says, you have to take back control of your own story. What would the hero in your favorite movie do? For Sarah, this means gardening with headphones and the Rocky theme on the soundtrack.  And a special birthday we'd like to celebrate... It’s been a year since we started solving guests’ problems, and we recently called a few of them to see how their lives have changed since they came on the show. Check out our article "Can a Podcast Change Your Life?" to read some of the surprising and inspiring things that happened! Do you have a problem that could use some humorous advice? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Subscribe for free on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Talk to Strangers.” Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Johnny is worried about being stuck in the same job forever. He’s been trying to climb the corporate ladder of his software company for years but has had little success. He knows he deserves a promotion, but he doesn’t want to be pushy, especially during a pandemic. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Alex Carter, author of Ask for More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything, to help Johnny assert himself and convince his higher-ups that promoting him would, in fact, benefit everyone at the company. Getting what you want, Alex says, is not so much about pitching yourself the perfect way as it is about asking the right questions. This is a time for companies to spend every dollar wisely, so why not invest in a proven performer?  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Find a New Career Before It’s Too Late.” Do you need help solving one of life’s puzzles? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
David was in the ocean in Hawaii when the unthinkable happened—a shark attacked him and bit off his leg. “I don’t think you’re gonna make it,” a medic told the 25-year-old on the helicopter ride to the hospital. But David did make it, and soon he learned that surviving the shark wasn’t the hardest part—it was what came after. On this episode of How To!, we bring in Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, psychiatrist and author of The Body Keeps the Score, to help David understand and deal with the lasting psychological trauma of the attack. For anyone suffering from severe trauma, Bessel says, it’s okay to grieve the person you were before. Accepting the loss of the “old you” will allow you to better embrace who you are now, both in your mind and body.  Do you need help overcoming life’s many challenges? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This bonus episode features Charles's recent appearance on the podcast Hello Monday, where host Jessi Hempel discusses the relationship between work and meaning. Charles tells the story of his experience attending Harvard Business School and all that followed after. It turns out that a paycheck - even a fat one - doesn’t buy a meaningful life. Charles and Jessi dig deep on the perks and pitfalls of business school, point up the importance of perseverance, outline the space between a job description and the job itself, and challenge listeners to make meaning in any job. For more advice from Jessi Hempel, check out our previous episode 'How To Find a New Career Before it's Too Late.' Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (16)

Yaser Izadinia

hello, where can I find transcript of this episode?

Oct 3rd
Reply

Yaser Izadinia

hello, where can I find transcript of this episode?

Oct 3rd
Reply

Kristi Barnhart Kallgren

we may not be in a zombie apocalypse, but close enough.....wonder how this episode would be different if created now...

Sep 2nd
Reply

J B

I really like this podcast. Thank you for the great content!

Jun 25th
Reply

Thushanthi Ponweera

Just what I needed to hear today. Thank you!

May 29th
Reply

Chandra Sekhar

good

Apr 29th
Reply

Chandra Sekhar

PAIN IS PLEASURE

Apr 28th
Reply

Adam Guennoun

First comment for this video

Mar 5th
Reply

E J

Thanks. Very informative.

Feb 6th
Reply

Aj Hoffman

that's my dad he asked me to listen to this and I'm just so glad he is trying for me and grayson

Jan 22nd
Reply

Pogla

30 minute show with over 5 minutes of ads?

Nov 4th
Reply

Shari Miller

Loved this!!!! I so needed exactly this podcast! thank you

Oct 25th
Reply

Maharshi Bhavsar

can make one for how to sell things on Amazon??

Sep 20th
Reply

Pogla

Really going to town with the ads

Sep 17th
Reply

Hamed Aravane

I have same issue for couple of years like Ben, but the point is that I'm just 24 and worried about my feature and what I do to my life. so I don't have the same drama but I got everything though on myself. however I have anxiety and can't fix it. by the way thanks for this podcast I really appreciate it

Sep 16th
Reply

Laurie Ornelas

adopt kids in America we have kids here at home that need mothers and fathers. what is wrong with you

Sep 7th
Reply
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