DiscoverThe Retirement Wisdom PodcastHow to Begin – Michael Bungay Stanier
How to Begin – Michael Bungay Stanier

How to Begin – Michael Bungay Stanier

Update: 2022-01-24


What are your goals and plans for this year – and beyond? Each year offers fresh opportunities for new pursuits, new goals and often big transitions. The fun part is the goal-setting, envisioning your future and how things can unfold. But how do you begin? How do you start to move forward on your big goals in a way that works, especially when you’re pursuing something meaningful that really matters to you? My guest, Michael Bungay Stanier has answers in his new book How to Begin: Start Doing Something That Matters.

His full bio is below, but you should know that Michael Bungay Stanier has been named named #1 Thought Leader in Coaching. I’ve learned a ton from following his work over the past 12 years – and you’ll come away with useful takeaways from this conversation and his book.

We discuss:

  • What makes something a Worthy Goal

  • What gets in the way of people starting to do things that matter

  • How to craft and thoughtfully sharpen Worthy Goals

  • What we can get wrong about resistance

  • Action verbs that resonate with him now

  • The value of doing hard things

  • His involvement in Malaria No More

  • Lessons he’s learned about transitioning well

  • The key benefits of How To Begin: Start Doing Something That Matters

Michael Bungay Stanier joins us from Toronto.



Michael Bungay Stanier helps people be a force for change. His latest book is How to Begin: Start Doing Something That Matters. He’s best known for his book The Coaching Habit which has sold close to a million copies and has thousands of 5-star reviews online, and The Advice Trap focuses on what it takes to tame your Advice Monster.

He founded Box of Crayons, a learning and development company that helps organizations move from advice-driven to curiosity-led. They’ve trained hundreds of thousands of managers to be more coach-like and their clients range from Microsoft to Gucci.

He left Australia about 30 years ago to be a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University … where his only significant achievement was falling in love with a Canadian …which is why he now lives in Toronto, having spent time in London and Boston.

Balancing out these moments of success, he was banned from his high school graduation for “the balloon incident” … was sued by one of his Law School professors for defamation … and his first published piece of writing was a Harlequin Romance-esque story involving a misdelivered letter … and called The Male Delivery.


For More on Michael Bungay Stanier

How to Begin: Start Doing Something That Matters (Amazon)



Mentioned in this episode:

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr


Podcast Episodes You May Like

Tiny Habits Can Lead to Big Changes – BJ Fogg

Smarter Tomorrow – Elizabeth Ricker

Learning is a Lifetime Sport – Tom Vanderbilt

The Power of Fun – Catherine Price


Wise Quotes

On Worthy Goals

“This is such a crossroad, isn’t it? What David Brooks would call: are you ready to climb the second mountain? Because you’ve climbed the first mountain of your career and you’ve had success and you’ve got status and you’re now resourced and experienced, and you’ve got, as they call it Nordic highlights. You’ve done great. You got all of that. and you are 50 or 55 or 60 or 65. And you’re thinking to yourself, I’ve got 20 good years left. At least I don’t want to play golf the whole time. What am I going to do? And so this book is written because I’m 50 something, 53 or something. So I’m kind of in this space myself. And I’m like, okay, so a worthy goal is about what are you going to do with your time? There’s a legacy act. So it’s perfect for the folks listening to us now, Joe. And a worthy goal has three elements to it. Is it thrilling? Is it important? And is it daunting? So let me just kind of break those down a little bit. Thrilling starts with you. Do you care about this? Do you light up? Do you kinda rub your hands together and go, oh, I’m, I’m pretty stoked about this. I’m pretty excited about taking this on. This speaks to what I care about, what my values are.  It’s the best of who you want to be when you grow up. I know you’re 55, but we’re all still trying to figure out who we’re going to be when we’re growing up.”

On Unlocking Greatness

“…We unlock our greatness by working on the hard stuff. It’s not, we unlock our greatness by naming our purpose. And it’s not, we unlock our greatness by picking up the trophy at the end – it’s by working on the hard stuff.”


About Retirement Wisdom

Planning for retirement goes well beyond your 401k or IRA. How will you invest your time after your full-time working years?

You’ll need another portfolio.

I help people create an active multipurpose retirement, with the right mix of interests, activities and pursuits to invest your time wisely. And for many, like me, it includes a new version of work – redefined on your own terms.

Schedule a call to see if a 1-on-1 program or a small group Designing Your New Life program can give you an edge in your next chapter.

Visit for tools and resources to help you retire smarter.










Sleep Timer


End of Episode

5 Minutes

10 Minutes

15 Minutes

30 Minutes

45 Minutes

60 Minutes

120 Minutes

How to Begin – Michael Bungay Stanier

How to Begin – Michael Bungay Stanier

Retirement Wisdom