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How To!

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What if Dear Abby was an investigative reporter? Each week on How To!, Amanda Ripley (bestselling author of High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out, The Unthinkable, and The Smartest Kids in the World) 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.

116 Episodes
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Susan never really got over saying goodbye to her eldest daughter, who left for college four years ago. She knew it would be sad, but she didn’t expect to be nauseous. Now her youngest is applying to college, and she’s already dreading drop-off next fall which makes her feel like a "pathetic loser." What can Susan do to prep herself for more heartbreak and a completely empty nest? On this episode of How To!, we bring on Kelly Corrigan, best-selling author and host of the podcast Kelly Corrigan Wonders. She recently dropped her youngest daughter off at college, which she wrote about in an essay for the New York Times called “How to Let Go of Your Irreplaceable, Unstoppable Daughter.” She shares some hard-earned wisdom about how to handle major life transitions with grace.  If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Get Your Kid to Finally Grow Up” Do you have a question with no easy answers? 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
Every kid sneaks a cookie from the cookie jar, but Jamie’s 8 year-old daughter Simone has taken it to the next level. If you look under her pillow or in the back of her closet, you’ll find stashes of candy wrappers and other illicit items. When confronted, Simone never cracks under pressure. Jamie is worried that if this behavior isn’t stopped soon, Simone will grow up to be a “supervillain.” On this episode of How To!, we bring on Christina and Ryan Hillsberg, authors of License to Parent: How My Career As a Spy Helped Me Raise Resourceful, Self-Sufficient Kids. They draw on their years of experience at the CIA to help Jamie figure out how to handle Simone’s sly behavior. Is there any way to harness it for good? Christina and Ryan give Jamie a crash course in building trust and influencing people without them realizing it. If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Convince People to Give You Money.”  Do you have a question with no easy answers? 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
Usually when something enters Rachel’s parents’ home, it never leaves. Growing up, Rachel and her siblings tried to clean out the growing piles of junk, but her mom would often dig into the trash to retrieve whatever was tossed. Rachel finally escaped her parent’s over-stuffed house but she still worries about their safety and quality of life. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Jessie Sholl, author of Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding. She knows what it’s like to spend hours decluttering a house teeming with stuff, only to have it come back with a vengeance. Many of us will eventually have to parent our parents, but how do you handle such an extreme case? Jessie explains that hoarding is a mental illness and advises Rachel on how to find agency in a situation that feels so helpless.  If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Avoid Becoming Your Mother.” 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
Have you ever had to make an impossible decision? One that doesn’t have an obvious “right” answer. One that someone will inevitably hate. John knows this feeling all too well. He’s the superintendent for a mid-size school district in California. To say the last school year was difficult is a major understatement… John tried to ensure the safety of his students, teachers, and faculty while balancing the reality of students struggling in their virtual classes. Throughout the school year, John’s relationship with his teachers and the teachers union deteriorated. Now, classes are back in session and he’s hoping to find common ground as soon as possible. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Gary Friedman, a world-renowned conflict mediator. He has some tips on how all of us can mend a fraught relationship before it’s too late.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Stand Up to Your Terrible Manager—Without Getting Fired.” 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
Do you think of yourself as a “good” person? Most of us do. You probably show others kindness and respect—no matter their age, gender, sexuality, or race, right? But our unconscious biases are often more powerful than we realize. In fact, mountains of evidence show the extent to which implicit bias is ingrained in our police departments, doctor’s offices and hiring committees, often to the detriment of marginalized groups. Our listener this week, Tim, has spent a lot of time thinking about his privilege as a cisgender white man and how it affects his work and his community. While he believes he no longer harbors any conscious prejudice, he’s still struggling to uncover and combat his implicit biases. On this episode of How To!, guest host Celeste Headlee talks with Mahzarin Banaji, a psychologist at Harvard and the author of Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People. She has some tips on how to interrogate our gut feelings and consciously change the way we see people who are different from us.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Fight Racism in Your Town.”  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
It’s painful for Barbara to think back on her son Ethan’s childhood. For years Ethan was caught between feuding parents until, one day, Ethan went to live with his dad and never came back. Barbara regrets not fighting harder for her son or at least communicating better. Now she wants to ask for a second chance before it’s too late—but isn’t sure how to go about it. On this episode of How To!, the second in a two-part series, we continue with Amy Baker, a developmental psychologist who specializes in restoring family connections between parents and adult children. Amy helps Barbara recall specific memories as she writes a letter of amends, paragraph by paragraph, in an attempt to open Ethan’s heart.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Reconnect with Your Kid After a Nasty Divorce,” the first in our two-part series. 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
Barbara survived a divorce so brutal that she refers to it as ‘The War of the Roses.’ Perhaps the most painful casualty was the severing of her relationship with her son, Ethan. Decades have passed and Ethan is now married with kids of his own, who Barbara adores. But due to their chilly, distant relationship, Barbara doesn’t get to see them as much as she’d like. Can Barbara repair their broken relationship before it’s too late? On this episode of How To!, the first in a two-part series, we bring on Amy Baker, a developmental psychologist who specializes in restoring family connections between parents and adult children. She has a specific method for writing a letter of amends that, more often than not, can lead to a breakthrough.  If you liked this episode, check out “How To Walk Away From an Impossible Parent.” 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
Avalon is driven, creative, and… can’t meet a deadline to save her life. In her defense, she’s a card-carrying member of the gig economy, juggling a complicated schedule as a DJ and visual artist. Avalon’s tried to organize her life using a bullet journal, but procrastination keeps getting in the way of her career pursuits. On this episode of How To!, the second in a two-part series on time management, we talk to Christopher Cox, author of The Deadline Effect: How To Work Like It’s the Last Minute Before the Last Minute. He explains why concrete deadlines, the shorter the better, can actually help Avalon’s creativity. And he gives all of us tips on how to set the perfect deadline—and never miss it. If you liked this episode, check out the first in our series: “How To Ditch Your Distractions Once and For All.” Do you have a problem you’re focused 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 at slate.com/howtoplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
There’s one thing that all of Helena’s personal projects have in common: they remain unfinished. The family photo album is empty, as is her mom’s recipe book. And the lavender garden is still unplanted. Helena is not lazy. In fact, she’s a busy lawyer who has no problem finishing tasks at the office. But she’s also a busy mother raising a family, and free time is hard to come by. So how can Helena banish her distractions? On this episode of How To!, the first in a two-part series on time management, we talk to Nir Eyal, author of Indistractable: How To Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. Nir used to be just as distracted as Helena, but then he figured out some tricks to break free from his stray thoughts. He explains why procrastination isn’t a sign of laziness, it’s a sign of discomfort. And why it’s more important to address your feelings than silence your push notifications.  If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Stop Procrastinating” and make sure to tune in next week to learn how to set the perfect deadline.  Do you have a problem you’re focused 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 at slate.com/howtoplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Winning the Olympics is everything Steve Mesler ever wanted. So when he and his U.S. bobsled teammates stood atop the podium at the 2010 Vancouver Games, his life seemed golden in every way. But soon after his triumph, Steve began to experience a period of extended mourning. Even though he won a gold medal, he lost his identity and sense of purpose. And he wasn't the only one. On this episode of How To!, the former Olympian, co-founder of Classroom Champions, and current United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee board member talks about the complicated aftermath of achieving an all-consuming pursuit. He discusses his struggles with depression, losing teammates to suicide and what the USOPC is doing to destigmatize mental health treatment. If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Be a Badass On and Off the Court.” Do you have an Olympic-sized 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
Alexandra and her boyfriend want to buy a house, but they’re looking in one of the hottest housing markets in the U.S. So when they got outbid for their dream home, Alexandra was secretly relieved. Spending money, even if it’s something she can afford, is absolutely terrifying to her. Alexandra grew up homeless and even though she’s now a lawyer, she has a hard time ever feeling financially secure. On this episode of How To!, we bring on Athena Lent, founder of Money Smart Latina and financial advice columnist for Slate's "Pay Dirt." Athena had a similar upbringing to Alexandra and learned the hard way how to revise her beliefs around money. If you figure out your net worth and plan for the unthinkable, you’ll be free to make big purchases without feeling panicked or guilty.   If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Get Out of Debt Faster Than You Think.” 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
Rich thought nothing of going to the hospital for a routine colonoscopy—until he got the bill. Even with insurance, Rich is on the hook for nearly $2,000, way more than he ever expected. It’s particularly painful because Rich was planning to finally pay off his credit card debt before getting married. So what can he do? Our expert this week has a suggestion—don’t pay the bill, at least, not at first. On this episode of How To!, we bring on investigative reporter Marshall Allen, author of Never Pay the First Bill: And Other Ways to Fight the Health Care System and Win, to walk Rich through his options. While most of us pay our hospital bills without thinking twice, Marshall says there are several surprisingly easy steps we can all take to make sure we’re not being overcharged. High healthcare costs may be inevitable, but we can still fight back. If you liked this episode, check out How To Give Your Mom a Kidney. 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 at slate.com/howtoplus. Podcast production by Derek John, Rachael Allen, Margaret Kelly and Rosemary Belson. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Have you ever thought about running but been too intimidated to start? Or maybe you’ve already got an after-work jogging routine and need tips on how to increase your endurance? On this episode of How To!, we reveal the game-changing, unexpected running tips you didn’t know you needed with the help of Alex Hutchinson, author of Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, and Shannon Palus, a Slate senior editor and marathon runner. Our experts say the key to running well isn’t how fast you go or how many times a week you hit the pavement—instead focus on training your mind to push past your limits. In the process you’ll ease your anxiety and build your confidence.  If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Lose 155 Pounds Happily” and “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 at slate.com/howtoplus. Further Reading Working for the Run: How Does an Ultrarunner Do Her Job? by Shannon Palus Mary Cain’s Chilling Story Highlights Problems That Plague Many Female Runners by Shannon Palus Why Can’t the NYC Marathon Happen? I Thought We Were Safe Outside! by Shannon Palus Why Pay to Run a Race at Home? by Shannon Palus Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Lee is worried that one day soon her 25-year-old adopted daughter, who is pregnant and struggling with a drug addiction, will show up on her doorstep with a baby in tow. How will she be able to explain the situation to her other daughter, who’s only 6 years old? And how can she prepare her for the day she’ll confront drugs and alcohol herself? On this episode of How To!, we bring on Jessica Lahey, a teacher and the author of The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence. As a recovering alcoholic herself—and the mother of two kids—Jess knows firsthand how hard it is to talk to your kids about substance use in an effective way, especially when addiction runs in the family. “If you tell kids drugs and alcohol are just bad, they know we’re hedging or lying because people wouldn’t do drugs and alcohol if they were all bad,” Jess says. “So a very important part of substance use prevention is being really honest and giving kids real information about consequences.” If you liked this episode, check out: “How To Kick a Meth Habit.” 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
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
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Comments (20)

ID18138661

How to is a great podcast. The newest episode shows me that using my intuition and perception of people is racist. It’s almost like we shouldn’t allow experience to dictate our approach to specific situations while also using our logic and reasoning to acertain the proper response. No we call common sense and preparedness “unconscious bias” instead of what it really is - a defense mechanism. And a good one too. If you have a prior experience with a specific person or group, you go in with an open heart and a contingency plan. That’s the point of the experience you’re “unconscious bias” is created by. Be sensible. Use BOTH experience and reasoning. The reasoning to know that this situation may not be like the others, and the experience to prepare if it is. Racism is inherently intentional. You cannot be accidentally racist. You have to intend for racism to happen before it does. Accidental racism isn’t racism. It’s someone being offended. By something not meant to offend. Try dealing with it the way I do - take responsibility for your words and actions and stop worrying about how they will be interpreted and start worrrying about how the will impact those around you for good.

Aug 24th
Reply

frya ghazinia

it's awesome and so useful thanks to Charles

Jul 19th
Reply

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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