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The Art of Manliness

Author: The Art of Manliness

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Podcast by The Art of Manliness
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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.
Why Are We Restless?

Why Are We Restless?

2021-04-1950:184

Most everyone has experienced restlessness from time to time. A feeling of wanting more, but being unsure of how to find it; of struggling with distraction, but being unsure of what to focus on; of striking out in various directions, but not feeling any more fulfilled. While we tend to think of restlessness as a very modern phenomenon, a French diplomat and philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville, observed the very same problems in America two centuries ago. And the roots of our restlessness go back even further still. My guests today will trace some of these genealogical branches for us. Their names are Benjamin and Jenna Storey, they're a married couple, professors of political philosophy, and the authors of the book Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment. We begin our conversation with how the Storeys' inquiry into restlessness began from observing existential meltdowns in their students and a constant but unfulfilling busyness in their friends. The Storeys then explain how Tocqueville observed a similar phenomenon at the start of the 19th century, before digging into two of the philosophers Tocqueville's observations were shaped by: Michel de Montaigne and Blaise Pascal. They first unpack Montaigne's ideal of living a life of cool, nonchalant, existential indifference, which sought contentment in the here and now, and then discuss Pascal's critique of that philosophy, in which he argued that seeking diversion and distraction for its own sake only makes us miserable, and that humans must engage in an anguished search for something beyond ourselves. We then explore what happened in the West when Montaigne's approach to life was adopted by the masses, and how it's led to feelings of existential failure, an impossible search for constant happiness, envy, loneliness, and acrimonious political debates. At the end of our conversation, the Storeys argue that while restlessness can never be entirely extinguished, it can be tamed, and suggest a few ways on how. Get the show notes at aom.is/restlessness. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Quick, think of a famous magician. Dimes to donuts, you just thought of Harry Houdini. Though it's been almost a century since his death, Houdini still occupies a prime place in the cultural imagination, and my guest explains why in his book, The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini, and for us today on the show. His name is Joe Posnanski, and we begin our conversation with Houdini's childhood -- how he mythologized it and carved a path out for himself from his desire to not be like his father. We then discuss Houdini's early days as a magician, the trick he honed that helped make his name, and the outsized importance of that name in his fame and legacy. We then explore how escape artistry became Houdini's calling card and why it resonated so much with the public. We get into the way Houdini brought an athlete's physicality and mindset to his performances, and how the difference between magic and escape artistry can be described as the difference between the impossible and the amazing. From there we turn to the fact that Houdini was, and wasn't, interested in money, his insatiable ambition and drive for fame, and how even the turn he took later in life towards debunking spiritualism kept him in the public eye. We end our conversation with why some modern magicians downplay Houdini's talents, while he yet remains an enduring cultural icon amongst the public. Get the show notes at aom.is/houdini. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Before Gary Collins left a bureaucratic government job to pursue a more independent existence off the grid, he had to work on downsizing and decluttering his life. The lessons he learned in ultimately achieving that aim apply to everyone — even those with no plans to leave civilization — who would like to lead a simpler life. Gary shares those lessons in his book The Simple Life Guide to Decluttering Your Life, and with us today on the show. We begin with why it's so easy to get caught up in the consumerism-driven "cult of clutter," how the clutter it generates extends far past a person's tangible stuff, and the cost it exacts from our lives in both financial and psychological terms. Gary then explains how to simplify and declutter every aspect of your life — the material, of course, but also the technological, informational, and even social. Along the way, this self-described "redneck hippie" offers no-nonsense advice that refreshingly departs from the kind of soft glow, artfully arranged, white background pictures of minimalism you might find on Instagram. Because Gary's not on Instagram. That would be clutter. Get the show notes at aom.is/simplelife. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Despite the fact that public speaking remains an important and relevant skill in our modern age -- you never know when you'll need to give a toast at a wedding, pitch an idea at work, or champion a proposal at a city council meeting -- most of us get very little instruction these days in how to do it effectively. Fortunately, my guest says, we can look to the great orators of the past to get the public speaking education we never received. His name is John Hale, and he's professor of archeology as well the lecturer of The Great Courses course Art of Public Speaking: Lessons from the Greatest Speeches in History. Today on the show, John shares what we can learn about the physicality of public speaking from Demontheses of Athens, the importance of empathetic body language from Patrick Henry, the effective use of humor from Will Rogers, the power of three from the apostle Paul, and the potency of brevity and well-executed organization from Abraham Lincoln.  Get the show notes at aom.is/publicspeak. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When it comes to proposed solutions to life's problems, whether on an individual or societal scale, the four most commonly used words these days are "According to a study . . . " This phrase is used by journalists and media outlets; we certainly use it a lot in AoM articles. And it's used in the rationales that are forwarded for implementing some new program in a school or other institution.  My guest, however, questions whether we really should be lending the research of social psychologists and behavioral scientists so much weight.  His name is Jesse Singal and he's the author of The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can't Cure Our Social Ills. Today on the show, Jesse explains how social psychology has come to such prominence in our culture, the role things like TED talks have played in its rise, and yet how the replication crisis calls into question the legitimacy of the field's growing influence. We discuss why the solutions sometimes offered by behavioral science are both seductive and flawed, and how this dynamic played out in the self-esteem movement of the 1990s. We then discuss if another fad of social science, power posing, actually works, before turning to how the problems of positive psychology are exemplified in a program the military adopted to help soldiers with PTSD. We end our conversation with whether the idea of grit is all it's cracked up to be, and how ultimately, there are no quick fixes to life's big problems.  Get the show notes at aom.is/quickfix. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Editor’s Note: This is a re-broadcast. This episode originally aired in June 2018.  When you start a fitness program, you tend to spend most of your time thinking about the physical part — what movements you’re going to do, how much weight you’re going to lift, or how far you’re going to run. But my guest today argues we ignore the mental aspect of our training at our peril. His name is Bobby Maximus. He’s a world-renowned trainer known for his brutal circuit workouts and the author of the new book Maximus Body. Today on the show Bobby and I dig into the psychology of fitness. We begin by discussing what holds people back from getting started or going further with their goals and how sticking little green dots all over your house can help you surmount those barriers. He then shares why it’s important to manage expectations when beginning a training program and why there are no shortcuts to any goal. We then shift gears and get into Bobby’s training philosophy. He shares how to train to be “ready for everything,” why you need to do strength training before your endurance work, and why recovery is so important in reaching your fitness goals.  We end our conversation with some examples of the “Sunday Sermons” Bobby shares on his website and a discussion of why perspective is important whenever you’re going through a hard time in life.  After the show is over, check out the show notes at aom.is/maximus. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Romanticism, not in terms of courtship and bouquets of roses, but as a philosophical approach to life which blossomed in the 19th century, embodies many tenets, including a nostalgia for the past, a heroic view of the world, a firm sense of right and wrong, and the idea that an individual can shape his own destiny, as well as have an outsized impact on the world. It is through this lens of Romanticism, my guest says, that we can best understand one of the most memorable, influential, and legendary figures in American history: Theodore Roosevelt. His name is H. W. Brands, and he's a professor of history and the author of numerous books and biographies, including T.R.: The Last Romantic. Today on the show, Bill explains how Teddy Roosevelt was one of the last bearers of the Romantic spirit, where his Romanticism came from, how that spirit motivated him to push and challenge himself from boyhood 'til death, led him both to egoistic excesses and worthy, epic deeds, and influenced everything from his familial relationships to his time as president to his second and third acts in life.  Get the show notes at aom.is/rooseveltromantic. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
In Finland, "sisu" is a concept that, while it can't be strictly translated into English, roughly corresponds to a combination of bravery, resilience, grit, and determination. My guest today will help us unpack it further, and offers advice on how everyone can live life with more sisu.  Her name is Joanna Nylund and she's the author of Sisu: The Finnish Art of Courage. Joanna explains what sisu is and how it was exemplified in the David and Goliath story of the Finns facing down the Russians during the Winter War. We then talk about what it is about Finland that birthed the quality of sisu and ways to develop it even if you're not Finnish, including embracing discomfort, getting out despite the weather, and seeking silence and solitude as a way to develop inner strength. We also talk about the Finnish practice of retreating to a rustic cabin in the summer to reacquaint oneself with simplicity, manual labor, and nature. We end our conversation with the sisu way of communication, and how to foster sisu in children. Get the show notes aom.is/sisu. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Unless you're a complete recluse, you probably use your voice many times a day, whether talking to your spouse, chatting with co-workers, or singing along to music in the car. Yet, you've probably never thought all that much about something that's literally happening right under your nose. My guest today says that once you do start thinking about your voice, it reveals fascinating secrets to who you are. His name is John Colapinto and he's the author of This Is the Voice. John and I begin our conversation with what exactly the voice is, how the voice develops in babies, why men and women speak in lower and higher voices, and what each sex finds attractive in the voice of the other. We then discuss why people develop accents, and how these accents set boundaries as to who is in and who is out of a group. We dig into the modern phenomena of vocal fry and uptalk, and how, when you end everything in a question, it can sound like you're a submissive supplicant. We get into how singing makes us feel super vulnerable, and why modern pop music can sound soulless when its inherent imperfections are stripped out. We end our conversation with the way our voices degrade as we age, and John's call to own and use your voice. Get the show notes at aom.is/thisisthevoice. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Personal responsibility, the ability to own up to one's mistakes, is a foundational element of character. It's also the only way we can grow and get better. But as anyone with any experience being human well understands, dang, it sure can be hard to do. My guest today explains why, and how you can yet rise to meet this important challenge. His name is Elliot Aronson, and he's a social psychologist and the co-author of Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. Elliot first explains how and why we engage in self-justification to avoid facing our mistakes, and how this process is driven by the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance. We then discuss how once you make a decision in a certain direction, good or bad, you become more entrenched in your attitude about it and more likely to continue down that same path, and how this phenomenon represents what Elliot calls "the pyramid of choice." We end our conversation with how we can learn to approach the mistakes of others with more generosity, and our own mistakes with more honesty. Get the show notes at aom.is/mistakes. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The Roman army hires a former legionnaire to hunt down a courier and intercept a letter he is carrying from the apostle Paul. But when this mercenary overtakes the courier, something happens that neither he nor the empire could have predicted. This is the plot of the latest novel from writer Steven Pressfield, entitled A Man at Arms. Pressfield is the author of numerous works of both fiction, including Gates of Fire and Tides of War, and non-fiction, including The War of Art and The Warrior Ethos. On today's show, Steven explains why he decided to return to writing a  novel set in the ancient world after a 13-year hiatus from doing so, and why he chose to center it around one of Paul's epistles and the threat the Roman empire perceived in the growing movement of Christianity. We discuss how the protagonist of A Man at Arms, Telamon, embodies the archetype of the warrior and a philosophy of "dust and strife," and yet has exhausted the archetype and is ready to integrate something else into it -- a philosophy of love. Steven explains how the journey Telamon is on applies to all artists, entrepreneurs, and individuals, and the transition we all must make from the first half of life in which we're discovering our gifts and honing our skills, to the second half of life, in which we figure out what those gifts and skills are for.  Get the show notes at aom.is/manatarms. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
We all know how indisputably good exercise is for you. Yet a lot of folks still find it a struggle to engage in much physical activity. To understand the reason that this conflict and tension exists and how to overcome it, it helps to understand the lives of our human ancestors. Though, not the way the popular culture understands them, but the way someone who's actually studied them understands them. My guest is such an expert guide. His name is Daniel Lieberman, and he's a Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology and the author of Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding. Today on the show, Daniel shares what we can really learn from our ancestors as to our modern relationship with exercise, while debunking some of the popular myths about our hunter-gatherer history. We begin by talking about how very recent, and actually quite weird, the whole concept of exercise is. We then discuss the fact that our ancestors were not the natural super athletes we typically imagine, what their state of physicality was really like, and how understanding their lifestyle can help us understand the competing interests going on in our own minds and bodies that can leave us feeling ambivalent about getting up and moving around. We then discuss if, as it's been said, "sitting is the new smoking," and the less and more healthy ways to sit. Daniel unpacks whether we're evolved for running, how our ancestors' strength compares to our own, and whether or not exercise helps us lose weight. We end our conversation with how this background on the past can help us in the present, by showing us the two factors that are critical in helping us moderns make exercise a habit. Get the show notes aom.is/exercised. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Many people know Bruce Lee as a martial artist and film star. But he was also a  philosopher, who articulated principles that apply beyond engaging in artful combat, to grappling with life itself. Shannon Lee, daughter of Bruce Lee, caretaker of his legacy, and author of Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee, unpacks those principles on today's show. We begin our conversation with what Shannon remembers of her late father, and how she discovered the power of his philosophy after sinking into a depression following the death of her brother, Brandon Lee. We then dive into some of the sources of Bruce Lee's philosophy, his reading habits, and what books he kept in his extensive library. Shannon shares the story behind how her father first started formulating his ideas around becoming like water, how he engaged in forms of moving meditation, and what you can learn from his journaling practice. We end our conversation with the resilient, proactive way Bruce Lee responded to a potentially crippling back injury.  Great inspiration in this show on what should be every man's ideal: the combination of contemplation and action. Get the show notes at aom.is/leephilosophy. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Each day you begin work with high hopes for productivity and creativity. But each day you instead find yourself bogged down in checking and answering emails and responding to messages on Slack. As frustrating as this is, it just seems like the inevitable, unalterable dynamic of modern jobs. But my guest today says that another way of working is possible, and it could unleash a tidal way of new productivity. His name is Cal Newport, and he's a professor of computer science and the author of several books, including his latest, A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Information Overload. Cal describes how email and chat channels have created what he calls "the hyperactive hive mind," and the costs to productivity, well-being, and focus that this hive mind incurs. He then explains why we feel the need to quickly respond to messages, even if rationally we know they’re not urgent. Cal then lays out practical ways to replace the hive mind with a more effective way of working, and why it involves concentrating on processes over messaging, increasing intellectual specialization, a return to hiring support staff, and, counterintuitively, more friction and less convenience. Cal also offers advice on how to make these changes at your office, even if you're not in a position of authority. Get the show notes at aom.is/noemail. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When celebrities, dignitaries, and executives go out and about and travel around the world, they're often surrounded by bodyguards whose job it is to protect them and their loved ones. My guest today offers a look at what's involved in offering these professional protective services for VIPs, and how average citizens can apply the same principles to protect themselves and their families. His name is Todd Fox, he has an extensive military and law enforcement background, and he's the founder of Close Protection Corps and the author of Protection for & from Humanity. Todd and I discuss why the soft skills around mindset constitute the foundation of personal protection, and the prep work that's necessary to keep both VIPs and normal folks safe, including the process of "advancing" and a system from the Vietnam era you can use to make yourself a "hard target." We then discuss what you can learn from the Marine Combat Hunter program, the Cooper Color Code, and the OODA Loop to develop better situational awareness. We end our conversation with the hard skills you should learn to protect yourself, and the order you should learn them in. Get the show notes at aom.is/protection. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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Comments (227)

Jacob Presley

LOVE this episode!! From Meyers brigg references to evaluating real and practical advice. Another great Pod, Mate👌

Mar 10th
Reply

David C

Awesome!

Mar 3rd
Reply

Humberto Moya Morux

why in the world you keep the music in the background so loud ?

Feb 17th
Reply

Ryan B

He definitely said is “this episode of art of manliness podcast is brought to you in FART by.....”

Feb 11th
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dozerD LX

if I wanted to hear Conan O'Brien I would have cable. Everybody has a podcast now, Jesus probably has one.

Jan 12th
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farzad k

Can't play it here in Castbox,broken link maybe...

Dec 5th
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CrimsonNightShade

Such insight and he does it in a down to earth humble form.

Dec 2nd
Reply

Tony

Very insightful and practical. Thank you.

Nov 3rd
Reply

Lourenço Murteira

80.000 people in a women's soccer match? Screaming? Sure buddy

Sep 30th
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nathan keith

Awesome episode

Sep 23rd
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Sep 22nd
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Saša

This is one of the best actionable podcast I've listened to. Some great techniques that can be easily implemented (even if they are not necessarily easy to do).

Sep 21st
Reply (1)

Tim Turner

great subject. boring guest.

Sep 1st
Reply

Attila Turgut

It was a great podcast that broadened my perspective. I want to read author's book(Think Like a Rocket Scientist)as soon as possible.

Aug 18th
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&

One of the very best AoM podcasts. I had so many questions answered. Thank you so much.

Aug 7th
Reply

Spencer Durano

holy shit that was an abrupt retroactive ad

Aug 7th
Reply

Vance Russell

Great episode. I’m afraid most of the people I want to share it with wouldn’t be able to get past a definition of “liberalism” that is different from what they commonly use.

Jul 26th
Reply

Salvin Rodrigues

very good episode

Jul 14th
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Pelumi

"You must not fool yourself but you're the easiest to fool" & "Learn fast" not "fail fast". Amazing interview. Learnt a lot. Thanks

Jul 2nd
Reply (1)

Jacob Presley

Certainly one of the best discussions on this podcast.

Jun 30th
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