Claim Ownership


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Recommend this show by sharing the link: I still remember reading my first Nicholson Baker book, The Mezzanine. This extraordinary book slows down the pace of life to one where all the details are able to be noticed. For someone like me–a little bit in my head and moving too fast–reading the book resembles bullet time from The Matrix movies, only with the detritus of everyday living zipping past, instead.  Madeleine Dore reminds me of myself; both a great author and a great asker of questions, though they differ a bit from mine. She’s made a career out of asking obvious questions to important people, with all of the answers she’s received ending up in her best-selling book I Didn’t Do the Thing Today: Letting Go of Productivity Guilt.  Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Madeleine reads two pages from ‘Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life,’ by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. [reading begins at 12:12]  Hear us discuss:  Making more generous assumptions. [16:24] | The relationship between playfulness and routine. [17:15] | Knowing what’s essential vs transitory about yourself: “It takes a long time to become who you are.” [20:12] | “Things are just experiments and projects—we’re not tied to anything forever.” [25:28] | The complexity of awaiting your next project. [26:35]
Recommend this show by sharing the link: I’m working on a new book about how to strengthen working relationships, so I’ve been consuming a lot of content around the subject. I can divide the teachers I’ve been learning from into two different camps. First are the mechanics; the people laying out what to do. They’re okay, but I prefer the storytellers; the people who realize that stories, not rules, are what change people. It is both an extraordinary and a learnable thing to know how to tell a good story.  Will Storr is a storyteller, and the award-winning author of 6 critically acclaimed books including Selfie, The Science of Storytelling, and most recently, The Status Game. The Times called him, “One of our best journalists of ideas.” Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Will reads two pages from ‘Incognito’ by David Eagleman. [reading begins at 11:58]  Hear us discuss:  “You’re not living a story, you’re playing a game.” [5:37] | The danger of writing yourself as the hero: “You’ve got to accept that you might be wrong about things.”  [16:47] | The positives of the hero-making brain: “I would argue that a certain amount of comforting delusion is good.” [21:05] | How to manage your status: “Status isn’t about being rich or famous, it’s about feeling like you have value.” [23:59] | The connection between the ‘I’ and the ‘we.’ [29:36]
Recommend this show by sharing the link: I am a charming man. It’s an optimistic view of who I am. But like everyone else, I also have my faults. This means that one of the great gifts of my life are the people who are on my side but aren’t likely to fall for my whole schtick. Do you have people who, in the nicest possible way, hold you to be the very best person you can be?  Tom Wiese is the co-founder of Studio/E, and he’s spent the past few decades designing tools and teaching people how to explore, launch, and navigate their lives and businesses.  Tom reads an essay written by Michael from the book ‘End Malaria.’ [reading begins at 14:05]  Hear us discuss:  How a scar became a source of strength. [19:02] | Gaining the courage to recognise your scars. [22:07] | The myths of leadership: “Self-leadership is creating a vision that you desire for your life, then holding yourself accountable to it.” [24:45] | “When you’re in the unknown, you don’t know what’s going on unless you take some action.” [29:34] | Finding the balance between courage and safety. [31:34] | Knowing when to stop exploring and start making use of your discoveries: “Exploring alone is really hard; you need to have support.” [35:06]
Recommend this show by sharing the link: Bobby Herrera, author of The Gift of Struggle, is the co-founder and CEO of Populus Group. He is also a proud U.S Army Veteran, an unwavering champion for the underdog, and, most importantly, an all-pro dad to three amazing kids. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Bobby reads two pages from his book, ‘The Gift of Struggle.’ [reading begins at 5:47]  Hear us discuss:  Being an underdog, but not disempowered: “One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves in leadership is, ‘Who am I becoming?’ and staying on that journey–imperfectly, but consistently.” [2:33] | How intimidating struggle can be when coupled with inexperience: “We all have a PhD in struggle.” [8:25] | “The long way is the shortcut.” [14:54] | Renewing the commitment to struggle: “Asking for help is a sign of strength.” [15:30]
Recommend this show by sharing the link: I’m writing a new book that’s due for release in the middle of 2023, and I was just sitting at a coffee shop reading my editor’s response to the first draft. She’s been reviewing it for about three weeks, and those three weeks have been nerve wracking. I’ve released something into the world but not yet grasped what’s next. Anything is possible right now. In other words, I’m sitting with the ambiguity of it all and trying not to freak out.  You know how sometimes products just seem perfect for the task at hand? The reimagination that goes into creating them is the work of a product designer, and those individuals are taught by people like Andrea Small. She started out studying architecture and metalsmithing at Miami University, but later moved into product design after it was recommended to her. Andrea now teaches strategy and design research at the Stanford, where people use design to develop their own creative potential. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌   Andrea reads two pages from ‘The Book of Eels’ by Patrik Svensson. [reading begins at 16:15]  Hear us discuss:  “Being open to anything is both good and bad.” [6:57] | How to release control when navigating ambiguity. [7:53] | Is ambiguity truly synonymous with uncertainty? [21:33] | Learning to sit with the discomfort of ambiguity: “It’s physically active to navigate ambiguity–that’s why it seems so exhausting.” [23:19] | The relationship between ambiguity and individuality. [30:54] | “There is no perfect solution to navigating ambiguity.” [40:26]
Recommend this show by sharing the link: Keep this between us, but I have an offer for you. There’s this thing called the Insiders Club; it’s amazing and exclusive, and the other people who are a part of it are truly extraordinary, like you. We don’t let anybody in–it’s invite only, and the invites are rare … This doesn’t really exist, but it’s tempting to be an insider, isn’t it?  Actually, even though you’re not in the Insiders Club, you already are an insider. You belong to certain groups that have rules to keep people in, and others out. So, just as you’re already an insider, you’re already an outsider, too. My question is: What are you doing to create insiders, and to mitigate the pain of being an outsider?  Dominic Packer is a Professor of Social Psychology who studies how groups shape our identities, decisions, and our lives. He teaches at Lehigh University, and he’s recently co-authored a book, The Power of Us, with a fellow psychology professor, Jay Van Bavel. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Dominic reads ‘Experiments in Ethics’ by Kwame Appiah. [reading begins at 15:48]  Hear us discuss:  “I think you can be both with and against.” [8:47] | The practice of effective dissent: “If you’re dissenting for the good of the group, your goal is to persuade.” [9:52] | The evolution of social identity over the last decade. [21:20] | Managing and navigating identity politics: “Power has always been held by those who had identities.” [24:41]
Recommend this show by sharing the link: Nir Eyal is a former lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. His first book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products explored using the psychology of revolutionary products such as Facebook and Slack to make other products engaging and habit-forming. Indistractable, on the other hand, is about breaking bad habits - getting away from the things that distract us from what we really want to do with our time, attention and life. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  He reads two pages from a chapter from his book ‘Indistractable,’ entitled How to be An Indistractable Lover. [reading begins at 3:40] Hear us discuss:  “If you asked me today what superpower I’d want, I would want the power to be indistractable.” [2:07] | Surfing the urge: The key to mastering your internal triggers. [8:52] | “Most distraction begins from within us.” [9:54] | “Time management is pain management.” [10:13]
Recommend this show by sharing the link: ‘Why bother’ is a question we ask ourselves at certain moments in our lives; moments when life beats us down and we’re finding it harder and harder to keep caring. How do we muster up the will to fight for the life we want? How do we avoid giving up? Jen Louden is a national best-selling author of 9 books and the host of Create Out Loud, a podcast for creatives. For almost 30 years, Jen has been a leading voice in the spheres of self-care and creative transformation. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌   Jen reads two pages from her book Why Bother. [reading begins at 7:47] Hear us discuss: “Sometimes, you just have to fight for your life.” [5:48] | “It’s not unique to feel disappointment about our lives.” [10:51] | Leaving the past behind to make room for the future: “Nothing can be new unless it first turns to ashes.” [12:39]  Committing to the process: “Letting go of the outcome does not mean giving into resignation.” [16:41]
Recommend this show by sharing the link:    What does it mean to be a radical? Karl Marx had this to say about it: “To be radical is to go to the root of the matter. For man, however, the root is man himself.” So, radical compassion, empathy, generosity, leadership, humanity - perhaps it’s time to be a radical.  Pascal Finette is a founder of a boutique advisory firm, Be Radical, and the ‘posse leader’ at The Heretic, one of my favorite–very opinionated–newsletters. He’s worn many hats throughout his lengthy career, and, to this day, continues to be a learner. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Pascal reads two pages from Kraftwerk by Uwe Schütte. [reading begins at 12:30]  Hear us discuss:  “You are the people who surround you.” [3:06] | How individuals change: “Make people uncomfortable enough that they feel not only the desire to change, but the necessity. Then–most importantly–give them the tools to do so.” [8:15] | Empowering others to create a preferable future. [15:36] | Navigating the white savior complex: “It comes down to admitting to not knowing.” [22:07]
Recommend this show by sharing the link: What’s your relationship with ambition? I feel I’m both ambitious, and not. On one hand, I want to grow into the best of who I am and have a life of contentment, but on the other, there are some status-based trophies that just don’t matter to me as they once did. I’ve come to realize that it’s only by having pursued and–in some cases–won some of those trophies, have I started to appreciate what my bigger, more internally-driven goals might be. Shellye Archambeau, author of Unapologetically Ambitious, was ranked one of the 100 Most Influential Business Leaders in America, reflecting a 30 year career of leadership roles in various organizations. As such, she has a profound understanding of ambition at the highest echelons of organizational life, and is eager to share what she’s learnt along the way. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌    Shellye reads two pages from ‘All You Have to Do Is Ask’ by Wayne Baker. [reading begins at 16:20]  Hear us discuss:  Working through imposter syndrome: “I don’t know if I ever actually overcame impostor | syndrome, I just learnt how to deal with it.” [3:54] | “It’s really important in life to have cheerleaders around you.” [5:13] | Finding the right people to ask. [21:12] | How to nurture your network: “A network is the people around you who will do something for you when it’s not convenient.” [24:27] | Being ‘Unapologetically Ambitious.’ [27:45] | The price you pay for being ambitious. [34:07]
Recommend this show by sharing the link: The book I’m writing at the moment is about relationships. I’m neither a relationship expert nor a psychotherapist, but they do say you should write so that you can teach what you need to know. This means I’ve been reading some of the big names: Esther Perel, John Gottman, and most recently, Terry Real, who has a brand new book out called Us: Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship. A phrase often used as part of this book’s marketing that chimed deeply with me is this: ‘At a time when toxic individualism is rending our society at every level, Us provides the tools to find our way back to each other through authentic connection and fierce intimacy.’ It’s a big question – how much are we our own person, and how deeply must we connect?  Kevin Ashton’s latest book is called How to Fly a Horse, and, if nothing else, that’s a title that will get you curious. Kevin is also the guy who named the Internet of Things, and he’s been a key player in its evolution. Before any idea becomes a big deal, though, it starts as a crackpot’s mad imaginings. Even though the IoT was an idea that nobody really got, it was one that Kevin couldn’t get rid of, and he had a self-created sense of urgency that said, ‘If I don’t act on this now, I never will.’ Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Kevin reads two pages from ‘Finding the Mother Tree’ by Suzanne Simard. [reading begins at 19:50] Hear us discuss:  What it takes to cross the threshold: “Life is too short to get wrapped up in doing things just because you want the glory.” [24:57] | Knowing when it’s time to move on: “Don’t be a cliche.” [27:43] | “It’s okay to move on from one thing before you move on to another.” [34:57] | What we can learn from trees: “Trees are intelligent.” [35:07]
Recommend this show by sharing the link: One of my favorite questions is simply this: How can I help? The power of it is two-fold. First, it asks the other person to name the help that’s required – that's powerful for them, as it often isn’t totally clear what that is, even to them. The second power – the more important one, in my opinion – is that it disrupts your own assumption that you already know what they need. But, all of this points to a bigger question: How do you best give more to the world than you take?  Garrett Bucks is the founder of The Barnraisers Project. It’s just as it sounds: a group of people get together, and collectively build a barn for one of their members. As with all of us, it took Garrett a while to realize what his path should be. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Garrett reads two pages from ‘They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us’ by Hanif Abdurraqib. [reading begins at 22:35]  Hear us discuss:  “I spent a whole lot of my career feeling like I had a right to leadership, wherever I went.” [4:00] Being a neighbour. [10:33] | How to unlearn the heroic, individualistic narrative. [14:32] | Sitting with whiteness and using your privilege: “Whiteness is completely made up.” [30:50] | The importance of lowering your altitude: “If the conversation stops at the big picture, we’re just gonna be stuck in that morass.” [37:38]
Recommend this show by sharing the link: I’m just back from an extended visit to Australia, and as a farewell treat I took my family out to a fancy dinner. I’m a vegetarian but I decided to take them to a high-end steakhouse. I chose to go there for two reasons: first, most of them are committed carnivores; and second, I knew most of them hadn’t had the experience of the theater and rituals that come with a classic steakhouse. Not only was the food great, but I also ran a little pub quiz as dinner unfolded, creating a delightful sense of engagement, competition and bonhomie. At the end of the night, I truly felt like I had accomplished my goal – to create a special memory with the people I love.  Amantha Imber is a speaker, the host of Australia’s #1 business podcast, and a freshly-printed author. The foundation for all of that is actually her training as an organizational psychologist, helping people do better work and feel better at work. As well as speaking, podcasting and writing, Amantha founded a company called Inventium. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Amantha Imber reads two pages from ‘The Power of Moments’ by brothers, Chip and Dan Heath. [reading begins at 19:35]  Hear us discuss:  Identifying your core values with clarity. [15:02] | How to permit yourself to experience extraordinary things. [24:05] | The link between Amantha’s book Time Wise, and the commitment to creating magical memories: “The bad news is, time flies. The good news is that you’re the pilot.” [29:15] | “Humans communicate in dyads. We’re designed to communicate one-on-one.” [33:22] | The bagel–croissant approach to networking. [34:03] | Performing periodic ‘life check-ups.’ [35:08]
Recommend this show by sharing the link:   If you’ve read my new book How to Begin, you'll know that I track my own evolution as I define and commit to a worthy goal. For a while, I’ve been thinking about what success means, and how you would even measure it. In the book, I hone in on one metric, but perhaps I’ve been looking at it all wrong.                                              Jay Acunzo – like me – is a podcaster, and one I look up to. He challenges the way I think about creating and also about success. His core podcast is called Unthinkable and is billed as ‘The American life for creative work’. For many years, though, he hosted another podcast called 3 Clips where he analyzed three clips from other podcasts, and discussed why they worked. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌   Jay reads two pages from ‘Kitchen Confidential’ by Anthony Bourdain. [reading begins at 18:48]  Hear us discuss:  “We’re so focused on being visible that we’ve forgotten to try and be memorable.” [3:42] | Recognising your own heroic stories. [24:26] | How to identify the bigger picture. [28:00] | “You can imagine better work than you can create.” [33:36] | Being disruptive in a restrictive system. [37:39]
Michael’s new book How to Begin: Start Doing Something that Matters is now available at Today, we're pulling one of our best episodes from the vaults, featuring the brilliant Arthur Brooks.   There’s no doubt that I am a purpose-driven person, but I can’t actually pinpoint the origin of this sense of purpose. I’m both an atheist, and an existentialist, so where does this drive of mine come from? Let me ask you - where do you find your sense of purpose?  Arthur C. Brooks is a thinker and a writer about leadership, and, more broadly, a good life. He holds academic positions at Harvard, he was previously head of a conservative think tank, and he writes a regular article in The Atlantic called ‘How to Build a Life.’ But, those are just his jobs. What’s Arthur C. Brooks Why? Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Arthur reads two pages from book 4 of ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius. [reading begins at 21:00]  Hear us discuss:  Discernment of your purpose. [12:41] | Mastering transgressive acts: “Love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you.” [28:12] | Building I-Thou relationships: “Never use your values as a weapon, only as a gift.” [32:15] | Transitions between different strengths in life. [35:23] | What it takes to become an elder. [38:06]
One thing I don't mention often is that the thesis I wrote for my law degree was an attempt to combine my interest in literature with a perspective on law. So I wrote about the phenomenon of plain English: that's trying to write law without the legalese. And I tried to write about it through the lens of literary theories of language. I honestly did not understand what I was trying to do. And also nobody in law school understood what I was trying to do. What I can see now, with the benefit of hindsight and some self-esteem and some marketing speak, is that I was a boundary rider. I've come to learn that the interesting things often take place on the edges, those intermediate areas where X meets Y and some sort of new life is born. Brian Christian is a boundary rider too. He's just way more successful and interesting than law school Micheal. He thinks deeply and writes about deep patterns of life through technology and AI and algorithms. He's the author of The Most Human Human, the Alignment Problem, and Algorithms to Live By. After the introduction I just gave you, you're probably going to guess that Brian isn't just a science guy. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Brian reads from Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. [Reading begins at 15:10] Hear us Discuss:  Metaphor can be one of the main mechanisms by which science happens. [6:20] | Rules that are delightful to break. [24:35] | “I have this deep conviction […] we are on to some philosophical paydirt here. There is a very real way in which we are building [AI] systems in our own image, and as a result they come to be a mirror for ourselves.” [28:40] | What is the heart of the human experience? [38:10] | “Humans are not so special.” [42.50]
Recommend this show by sharing the link: A young woman stands, one hand on top of a chair, the other holding a bouquet of leaves. She stares directly into the lens of the camera; it’s not clear what she’s thinking. She’s wearing a long, dark dress with long sleeves and a white collar that covers her neck. It’s old-fashioned, colonial. A simple crucifix hangs from her neck. She’s an indigenous Australian –an aboriginal– and behind her is a lush landscape - it’s actually a tapestry of a landscape, and the picture is blue– the blue you might know if you’ve ever seen crockery with the willow pattern-spode china. This is a piece of art called A gaze still dark (a black portrait of intimacy), and the subject is Danie Mellor’s grandmother.   Danie Mellor created this piece of art. He’s a brilliant Australian artist whose work provokes questions about the intersection between colonial and contemporary in historic cultures. His work can be found in museums around the world, including The National Gallery of Canada, The British Museum, The National Museum of Scotland, and in Canberra’s own National Gallery of Australia, which is where I saw this painting and thought, ‘I need to speak to this person.’ Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Danie reads from ‘On Photography’ by Susan Sontag. [reading begins at 13:51]  Hear us discuss:  The art and evolution of photography: “The photograph is a way of stopping the march of mortality.” [19:26] | Incorporating play into your work. [27:24] | Knowing when to stop what you’re doing, and work on something else: “There’s a degree of innovation in the way that ideas express themselves in material form.” [36:43] | “You have control over the quality of work you offer, but not over how it’s received.” [44:29]
=> Recommend this show by sharing the link: If you had the chance to listen to my recent interview with Zach First, you heard us talk about how in a time of turbulence, organizations - whether big or small - can be candles in the darkness, and how being a manager means being a barrier against tyranny. That’s all good in theory … but how do you start a movement in practice?  Thibault Manekin is a commercial real estate entrepreneur. He might not seem like my usual guest at first, but Thibault is a real estate guy, with a twist. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Thibault reads two pages from ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. [reading begins at 16:05]  Hear us discuss:  “In order to grow an idea we have to understand that it doesn’t belong to us.” [8:01] | “Telling people how to be is a quick fix, but solves nothing long-term. It sticks in your head, but isn’t in your heart.” [13:08] | Chasing your dreams while also going beyond your own desires. [21:48] | Learning to surrender to your heart: “Outside of your comfort zone is the only place where true growth happens.” [26:34] | Using both your head and your heart in the work you do in an organisation. [28:37] | Staying on the path, even in dispiriting times. [35:25]
=> Recommend this show by sharing the link:  As a reader and someone who’s been immersed in business for 30 years, I have glanced sideways at the way institutions have become such a central part of our world. Within all of these institutions, you have individuals just trying to do their best, and do work that matters. I’ve seen and felt the paradox of how institutions are totally shaped by the people within them, and yet, are also a completely separate entity. So what does it mean to be part of an organization - specifically, to be a manager?  Peter Drucker is the name most synonymous with asking this question throughout his lifetime; I do wonder how he would answer it now, in these turbulent times.  Zach First is the Executive Director of the Drucker Institute, an institution founded to carry on Drucker’s work, and to help people manage with courage. Prior to joining the Institute, Zach was the type to, ‘dutifully follow the standards of the institution to which he belonged,’ but then at a certain point, things changed, and he stopped being a follower. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌ Zach reads from ‘Management’ by Peter Drucker. [reading begins at 13:50]  Hear us discuss:  “Organizations are just as mysterious and complicated as the people who populate them.” [6:14] | The fight against tyranny: “The most important thing we can do is hold our institutions to the standards that we need.” [22:01] | “Management is a noble task, and one of the most important in the modern economy.” [26:13] | Making the right decisions for your institution. [26:36] | How to remain courageous. [30:40]
=> Recommend this show by sharing the link: ‘When a man turns 30, he realizes that his life isn’t working.’  I heard this quote when I was in my thirties, and it spoke loudly to the crossroads that often occur at this moment of mid-life. When you hit your fifties, I think the question reappears - you’ve climbed your mountain, now who do you choose to be beyond that? As I’ve pondered this, I’ve been sitting with the idea of stepping into elderhood; the mentor role. Do you have an elder in your life, or are you perhaps being called, like me, to become one?  Stephen Jenkinson is someone I’ve looked up to as an elder, and he’s engaged rudely and briskly, with both life and death, having spent his time counseling dying people and their families. He’s a sculptor, a musician, a canoe builder, a sage, and the award-winning author of a favorite book of mine, Die Wise. Get‌ ‌book‌ ‌links‌ ‌and‌ ‌resources‌ ‌at‌  Stephen Jenkinson reads Seamus Heaney’s poem, ‘From the Republic of Conscience.’ [reading begins at 15:40]  Hear us discuss:  “You have to acknowledge many things about your own life that you’re less than thrilled about or proud of.” [19:35] | The nature of written law: “Lawfulness, in my mind, is principally predicated on obedience, not discernment.” [22:26] | The difference between grief and grievance: “One of the ways by which you know you are deeply and irreconcilably alive is having a capacity for grief - not to endure it, but to practise it.”  [27:21] | How to identify your burden. [33:02] | Deciding when to say ‘yes.’ [37:39]
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