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How To!

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What if Dear Abby was an investigative reporter? Each week on How To!, David Epstein (bestselling author of Range and The Sports Gene)) 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.

102 Episodes
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For the past year, Brandon has been terrified of leaving his apartment. And so he’s settled into an extreme pandemic routine. He cooks all of his own meals, has yet to see his parents, and on the rare occasion he takes the trash out, still wears double masks, rubber gloves and safety goggles. Brandon has been fully vaccinated for weeks now but the very low risk of a breakthrough Covid case seems like a grave danger because a few years ago he suffered another incredibly rare viral infection. On this episode of How To!, we bring on economist Tim Harford, author of The Data Detective and host of the podcast Cautionary Tales, and clinical psychologist and Stanford professor Debra Kaysen to help Brandon work through his anxiety—from a statistical and an emotional perspective. Most of us feel varying levels of anxiety about getting back to “normal,” but Tim and Debra’s advice can help us reframe risk and find coping strategies to get back out there. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Survive a Shark Attack.” Do you have a problem that needs 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 at slate.com/howtoplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Ever since she started taking a new medication a few years ago, Meme is worried that she’s lost her sex drive. She still has a great relationship with her husband, but she isn’t interested in sex the way that she used to be, and she’s worried it’s hurting her marriage. On this episode of How To!, we bring on sex educator Emily Nagoski, author of Come As You Are, to coach Meme through how to revamp her sex life. For busy couples, you should actually schedule a time on your calendar to be intimate. "Think of like when you were dating...that was date sex,” Emily reminds us. She then breaks down the myths that so many of us have internalized about sex, and shares surprising tips to help anyone—no matter their age or relationship status—have better sex.  If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Save Your Marriage.” Do you have a problem that needs 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 at slate.com/howtoplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
What does it take to persevere and succeed, not just in our careers but in all aspects of our lives? For psychologist Angela Duckworth, the answer can be summed up in one concept: grit. She explains the ingredients in grit and the experiences that make one person persist where another gives up — and offers concrete steps to instill grit early in life and sustain it. This is an episode of The TED Interview, a podcast from the TED Audio Collective. For more episodes, find it wherever you're listening to this. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Michaela is worried that her son, Asher, is constantly worried. At 8 years old, Asher is already dealing with some pretty intense anxiety. For example, he cried every day at school last year. Now that he’s being home schooled during the pandemic, Michaela has seen how much pressure Asher puts on himself to do well. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Dr. Krystal Lewis, a clinical psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health who works with kids with anxiety disorders. Krystal knows how hard—and how common—it is when kids struggle with anxiety early on, and she suggests some helpful coping mechanisms. But even more than these techniques, Krystal urges parents to learn how to manage their own anxiety. Instead of trying to hide your struggles, be a model for your kids as you work through difficult emotions.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Stop Being Anxious.” Do you have a problem that needs 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 at slate.com/howtoplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Stacie is in her early 30s and is ready to have a baby. There’s just one problem—she doesn’t have a partner. As much as she wants to be a mom, Stacie is worried about being a single parent by choice. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Lori Gottlieb, therapist, author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, and solo mom herself. Lori opens about her own experience having her son on her own, navigating people’s judgment, and finding ways to consider herself “enough” as a single parent. The hardest part? “Every decision you make is ultimately yours. On the one hand, that might seem liberating, but on the other hand, it’s very paralzying because there's so much pressure,” Lori says. What does Stacie ultimately decide?  If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Decide Whether to have a Baby” and “How To Talk to Your Son About Sex.” Do you have a problem that needs 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 at slate.com/howtoplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Shirley loves her job as a product manager for a startup, but she can’t stand her manager. He’s inefficient, old-fashioned, and entirely unsupportive of her work. “Just so you know, you don’t deserve this,” he told Shirley when she recently got promoted. Is there anything Shirley can do to make her work situation better? On this episode of How To, we bring on Patty McCord, former chief talent officer for Netflix and author of Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility, to give Shirley some tips. Shirley ought to approach the situation the same way she would any product she works on: “Be the person that is the problem fixer, not the problem finder,” says Patty. Complaining or staging a coup will go nowhere, but approaching your manager with tangible solutions for improving your relationship could make a difference.  If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Get That Promotion You Deserve.” Do you have a problem that needs 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 at slate.com/howtoplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Diane feels like she’s constantly picking fights with her partner Mohammed—when he forgets to grab tomatoes from the grocery store or drops the ball on planning their son’s birthday party. Their conflicts are complicated by layers of cultural differences: Mohammed is a Syrian refugee, Diane is an American, and they live in the Netherlands. “He lived through a war, so I can’t win any argument,” says Diane, who is increasingly desperate to find a solution. On this episode of How To!, we bring on investigative journalist Amanda Ripley, author of High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out. Amanda reveals that conflict can actually be good—as long as anger, and not contempt, is at its core. Drawing from her research on astronauts, gang members and politicians, Amanda coaches Diane through techniques that can help all of us have better fights.  If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Win Arguments Like a Hostage Negotiator.” Do you have a problem that needs 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 at slate.com/howtoplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dating is always tough, but during a pandemic it can feel downright impossible. “I’m incredibly lonely, and it’s impossible to meet anybody my age right now,” our listener Sarah said. Feeling isolated, Sarah has clung to a friends-with-benefit situation with Matthew, her friend and dance partner. But at 36, Sarah knows the relationship isn’t meant to last. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Logan Ury, director of relationship science at Hinge, dating coach, and author of How to Not Die Alone: The Surprising Science That Will Help You Find Love, to help Sarah break up with Matthew and move on. And moving on, Logan says, doesn’t necessarily mean just dating. What Sarah might really be missing is a community—and so she ought to search for not only a romantic partner but also friends who function as “other significant others.” If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Find Your First Kiss at 38.” Do you have a problem that needs 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
When Shellye Archambeau walked into her first meeting as a board member of Verizon, she felt a moment of panic. “Do I actually belong at this table?” she remembers thinking. Shellye, one of the first Black women to work as the CEO of a tech company in Silicon Valley, has struggled over the years with what’s commonly known as “impostor syndrome”—the feeling that you are a phony, despite all evidence to the contrary. On this episode of How To!, Shellye, the author of Unapologetically Ambitious, gives advice to Hannah, a medical student who is struggling with the same feelings of self-doubt, particularly as she’s about to treat patients for the first time. Can Shellye help Hannah tame her impostor syndrome so she can be an effective physician? “I can’t tell people how to get over it,” Shellye says. “But I can tell you how to deal with it.” If you liked this episode, check out “How To Be a Badass On and Off the Court.” Do you have a problem that needs 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. 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
We're all have to give a presentation at some point in our lives — on a stage, in a conference room, and, these days, on Zoom. So what makes a good speech? On this episode of How To!, we bring on Chris Anderson, the head of TED Talks and author of TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking. Chris gives us the inside scoop on the famous speaking series and breaks down some of the greatest speeches of all time. Then we present Chris with an unusual challenge from a 6th-grader named Lucy. She wrote in asking for help with a speech she is planning to give to her school board about improving her school. Can the head of TED help our 6th-grade listener with the biggest speech of her young life? If you liked this episode, check out our episode featuring Guy Raz, the former host of TED Radio Hour: “How To Become Your Own Boss With Guy Raz.” Do you have a problem that needs 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
Imagine you’re floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a boat the size of an SUV. You have no working electronics, no food or water, and only a styrofoam box to shade you from the sun. Your only companion is a 22-year-old who has little seafaring experience. How would you survive? On this episode of How To!, we bring on Jonathan Franklin, author of 438 Days, to tell us the incredible story of José Salvador Alvarenga, a shark fisherman who survived at sea for over 14 months. Jonathan says that Alvarenga was a pro at being resourceful—surviving on bird meat, shark livers, and sea turtle blood—but the real key to his survival was mental. For much of his journey, Alvarenga took care of his younger companion, Jonathan says, and it was this caregiving motivation more than anything else that kept Alvarenga alive.  If you liked this episode, check out the first episode in our two-part series: “How To Survive in the Wild Part 1.” Do you have a problem that needs 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
Have you ever wondered how you’d fare in the wild? What you’d do when facing off against a rattlesnake or staring down a polar bear? On this episode of How To!, the first in a two-part series, we dive into two extreme scenarios worthy of their own action movies. First, Kyle Dickman, author of On the Burning Edge and a former hotshot firefighter, opens up about the time he truly feared for his life—not fighting wildfires, but crossing paths with a rattlesnake on a family hike. Next, we’ll bring on Jill Fredston, author of Snow Sense and Rowing to Latitude who has fought avalanches for decades only to realize the mountain doesn’t care about our sense of self-confidence. Though their experiences may seem remote, they can teach all of us something about risk, luck, and how to coexist with nature.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Withstand Pain.” Do you have a problem that needs 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
Laura’s dad lived an unusual life. He raised 12 children on a farm without running water in the Texas countryside while also programming his own website that connected families, for free, with help when they were going through difficult times. Ever since he passed away this January, Laura has been searching for a way to tell his story, hoping to ultimately post what she writes about her father on Facebook. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Glenn Rifkin, author of Future Forward and veteran obituary writer at the New York Times, to help Laura craft the perfect remembrance. A good place for Laura to start, Glenn says, is to interview the many members of her family, acting as a reporter to gather as many stories about her dad as she can.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Say the Right Thing at the Worst Time.” Do you have a problem that needs 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
For years, Stella helped raise twin girls whom she loved deeply. She potty trained them, read bedtime stories and made sure they ate their veggies. But then, one day with little warning, she was asked to leave them. Stella isn’t a parent—she’s a nanny. And though it’s been years, she’s still heartbroken over being let go from her old job, especially the way it ended. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Tasha Blaine, author of Becoming a Social Worker and Just Like Family. Tasha spent years interviewing nannies for Just Like Family and she’s here to help Stella process her loss. When you’re getting paid to raise someone else’s kids, how do you navigate that messy work-life divide? And for couples, how can you establish a better, more professional relationship with this “third parent”? Listen in for the secrets of a real-life Mary Poppins. If you liked this episode, check out our “Cheat Sheet” series on raising children in an unusual year. Do you have a problem that needs 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
Andrew snores so badly that his cats won’t sleep in the same room as him. He’s desperate to sleep better at night, and breathe more easily during the day. As a trans man, Andrew spent most of his life training to be a soprano opera singer only to become a baritone when he transitioned in his early 20s. On this episode of How To!, we bring on James Nestor, author of Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, to share the history of why we breathe the way we do. Turns out being a “mouth-breather” is more than just an insult, it’s harmful to our health. James gives Andrew some nasal breathing exercises to improve his snoring, anxiety, and overall wellness. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Sleep.” Do you have a problem you can’t get out of your head? 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. Podcast production by Derek John, Rachael Allen, and Rosemary Belson. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Emilia can’t stop thinking about a long-ago love affair with Ivan, a man she met in Mexico in her early 20s and dated for several years. Now, a decade later, Emilia is newly married, but thoughts of her time with Ivan pop into her mind daily, a fact she’s never shared with her husband. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Ethan Kross, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan and the author of Chatter: The Voice In Our Head, Why It Matters, and How To Harness It. Whether thinking about a past experience or worrying about the present, we all get stuck in negative cycles of thought, and Ethan has the tools to help us form a better relationship with our thoughts.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Fall Out of Love.” Do you have a problem you can’t get out of your head? 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
Michael grew up terrified that the world was going to end. This wasn’t your typical childhood anxiety, but something he was taught while being raised in the Children of God cult. Michael left the cult years ago, but now in his 30s he’s struggling to heal the scars it left on his parents and 11 siblings. How do you go on living when the world doesn’t actually come to an end? On this episode of How To!, we bring on Rebecca Stott, author of In the Days of Rain, a memoir about her childhood in a cult called the Exclusive Brethren. “Whenever I have an interview like this, I can feel the frog in my throat,” Rebecca tells us. “It’s like there’s something still censoring me...in my own head.” Rebecca knows what it’s like to feel ashamed of her childhood, but she’s also learned to find what was useful in her experience and apply it to her life today. She says Michael can do the same thing by opening himself up to his loved ones and in future relationships.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Forgive the Unforgivable.” Do you have an unusual problem that needs 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
How To Fall Out of Love

How To Fall Out of Love

2021-02-2331:142

Several months ago, Sarah told her best friend John she’s in love with him—but he doesn’t love her back. Now Sarah can’t get John out of her head, especially because they still talk all the time. How can Sarah move on from John? On this episode of How To!, we bring on Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and the author of Anatomy of Love, to help Sarah train her heart—and her brain—to fall out of love. The first thing Sarah needs to do, Helen says, is cut off contact with John. Every time she sees him, it reactivates her brain circuitry for romantic love. And as beautiful as their friendship may be, it’s holding Sarah back from finding her true love.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Propose (to a Man).” Do you have a problem in your love life? 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
How To Start Over at 60

How To Start Over at 60

2021-02-1628:002

Age may just be a number but turning 60 is a big deal—at least, according to three listeners who recently wrote us about the challenges they’re facing in their later years. Joy can’t decide whether to retire from her job as a high school Spanish teacher. Doug is trying to figure out where to channel his energy after a career in the military. And Kim needs to find a way to support herself for the first time in her life after a devastating divorce. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Herminia Ibarra, a professor at the London Business School and author of Working Identity. Herminia has studied life transitions extensively, discovering that we make changes by running small experiments rather than taking one flying leap into the unknown. And since our identities are so closely linked to our professional life, Herminia says, it’s important to surround yourself with new people as you conduct these experiments, testing out different possible selves and imagining what new identities may be out there for you, at any age. If you liked this episode, check out “How To Find a New Career Before It’s Too Late.” Do you have a seemingly impossible problem? 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
Chris’s childhood was defined by the Pentecostal church, where his father is a minister and his siblings are following the same path. But when Chris went to college, his views on the church changed, and now at age 23, he no longer identifies as religious. That’s caused a major rift with his parents, and Chris can’t stand the tension anymore. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Patricia Lockwood, a poet and writer who chronicled her own experience leaving the church in her memoir Priestdaddy. Raised in a strict Catholic family with a father for a priest (thanks to a rare loophole), Patricia thought she was done with religion by the time she was in her early 30s. But when an unexpected financial crisis prompted her and her husband to move back in with her parents, Patricia learned a new way to bridge the gap between them. Reflecting on your shared values, Patricia says, is key to connecting with your parents, even if you’re still leaving their religion behind.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Talk Politics Without Wrecking Relationships.” Do you have a seemingly impossible problem? 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
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Comments (18)

Khanoomzii

So since the man is fun to spend time with, woman is the one who should carry the burden of home chores, errands, children's stuff, household planning and so on, and to make things more interesting, she must seek help on how to keep a tension-free conversation about all that stuff with a man who does not even care to listen, or just to stay awake! I'm really mad how you guys handle that subject, regarding the pressure women are undertaking with the unfair burden of domestic responsibilities worldwide!

May 12th
Reply

Kyla McNamara

I took a break from listening for awhile, what happened to Charles?

Mar 2nd
Reply

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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