The James Altucher Show

By James Altucher: Interviews w/ Mark Cuban, Tim Ferriss, Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin, Tucker Max on Entrepreneurship, Investing, Health

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James Altucher is a successful entrepreneur, investor, board member, and the writer of 11 books including the recent WSJ Bestseller, "Choose Yourself!" (foreword by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter). He has started and sold several companies for eight figure exits. He's on the board of a billion revenue company, has written for The Financial Times, The New York Observer, and over a dozen popular websites for the past 15 years. He's run several hedge funds, venture capital funds, and is a successful angel investor in technology, energy, and biotech. He has also lost all his money, made it back, lost it, made it back several times and openly discusses how he did it in his columns and books.

Episode Date
[Bonus - Part 2] - The Real Truth How James Chose Himself

This is the 5th anniversary of my book “Choose Yourself,” which I am so proud of. The book took off in ways that I could not have expected. I self published it thinking only my family would read it and a few friends and now it has over a million copies published in 20 different countries. Plus, I get emails and letters everyday from people like you who say it’s helped them either get unstuck or take a chance they were too scared to. Or anything. So I’m happy I get to celebrate it with you. There’s a special announcement waiting for you in this podcast.




- James


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Also, sign up for a chance to win one of 100 signed copies of my bestselling book "Choose Yourself" at


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Aug 12, 2018
[Bonus] - The Real Truth How James Altucher Chose Himself

So, this is a very special podcast for me. Because it’s the 5th Year Anniversary of my bestselling book “Choose Yourself.” This book changed my life. And so I want to bring you into the celebration! All the details are in this podcast. Plus you’ll also hear the real truth behind why I published this book, how it’s lead to new opportunities everyday, the financial struggles I dealt with in the roughest time of my life, my family hardships, etc. It’s a real tell all. Writing it has helped me and now I hope you can use it to do something liberating and freeing in your own life.


Thanks! And enjoy


- James


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Also, sign up for a chance to win one of 100 signed copies of my bestselling book "Choose Yourself" at


Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Aug 11, 2018
380 - Henry Winkler: "The Fonz" On Finding Your Identity Again

I interviewed “The Fonz!” aka, Henry Winkler. Henry played the Fonz on “Happy Days” for ten years. But after Happy Days ended, he got stuck. “I didn’t have a plan b,” he said. “I just lived my dream for the last ten years. And I did not have anything to replace it with. I was psychically in pain. When you don’t know what you want, it literally hurts your head. I was sad. I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing.” He went nine years without an acting job. “It was a rudderless time,” he said. So I wondered how he got out of that rut. Because he did escape that pain… He’s in “Arrested Development" and “Barry,” which is a new Emmy nominated comedy airing on HBO.

Links and Resources

Barry on HBO

Also Mentioned

Happy Days

Paul McCartney



Yale School of Drama

Arrested Development

Adam Sandler

Gary Marshal

Mitch Horowitz

Bill Hader

Sarah Goldberg

My Interview with Brian Grazer

Sherri Thomas

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park 

Arthur Miller

Alec Berg

Stella Adler

Ron Howard

Robin Williams



I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at

Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Aug 09, 2018
379 - Lewis Howes: Where Do Breakthroughs Come From?

Lewis Howes is doing a TV show… he was told “no, not now” from Ellen Degeneres's team. And six months later told “yes” by Facebook. I wanted to know how he made it happen, what it’s about and WHY he pressed forward. (A hint: it has to do with energy). 


Links and Resources

Inspiring Life with Lewis Howes

The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy“ by Lewis Howes 

“The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives“ by Lewis Howes 

Visit Lewis’ website and subscribe to his newsletter 

Listen to his podcast “The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes“ 

Follow Lewis on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram


Also Mentioned

Comedian Steven Wright

Jerry Seinfeld

Failing Up” by Leslie Odom Jr

Ramit Sethi

Gabby Bernstein

Jay Shetty

Gretchen Rubin

Lewis on Ellen Degeneres

Tom vs. Time (Tom Brady’s Facebook show) 

Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook show 

Tony Robbins

Scott Adams’ “talent stack” theory

Lewis’ podcast interview with Tony Hawk

My podcast with Tony Hawk

Uber’s collaboration with Spike Lee

James Altucher Show animated podcast series (made possible thnks to Jon Briggs and FoodFight Studios)

Access to my ebook “FAQ Me


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Aug 07, 2018
378 - James Altucher: Cal Fussman Asks Me About Experimenting with Minimalism & Lifestyle

Cal Fussman was the Editor at Large at Esquire for years where he got to interview Muhammad Ali, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Robert DeNiro and hundreds more. So he’s really known as an all star interviewer. He asks big questions. And now he’s interviewing me, which is also live on his podcast “Big Questions.” He named the episode “James Altucher on Reaching For Your Future and Letting Go of Your Past.” So, I guess that’s what this episode is about. He said, “I’d like to go to the start and see the arch of your life.” And I hope you let this episode be an invitation for you to explore your own story arch, too.

Links and Resources

Why Self-Help Guru James Altucher Only Owns 15 Things by Alex Williams

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo


Amblin Partners - Steven Spielberg's Production Company 


Melanie Whelan - CEO of SoulCycle

Guiness Book of World Records

My interview with Wolfgang Puck 



I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Aug 02, 2018
377 - Roy Niederhoffer: Trading Against Your Instincts: How to Make Money in The Market

This is a must listen for anyone interested in money, wealth creation, investing strategy, crypto, psychology, economics, etc.

Roy Niederhoffer is a super investor. And founder of a billion dollar hedge fund. He started earning six-figures at age 13! He taught himself how to code and then started a software company with his friends. He used the money he made to fund his education at Harvard, where he studied neuroscience. And now he applies what he learned about the brain and human behavior to the market.

And it only gets more impressive when you find out that he really came from humble beginnings (his father was a cop). So, this interview will cover everything from investing strategy to the future of currency PLUS book recommendations, methods to stay motivated and more.  


Also Mentioned

Monroe Trout

Toby Cravel

Paul Jones 

Space Invaders video game



Ms. Pac-Man

Scott Adams

Beethovens’ Symphony No. 5 

Daniel Kahneman author of “Thinking Fast and Slow” 

The Blank Slate” by Steven Pinker

Joseph Stiglitz

Antifragile” by Nassim Taleb



I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Jul 31, 2018
376 - Seth Godin: Go Back to What Lights Your Heart on Fire: This is What Makes a Hit

Seth Godin is best known as marketer and an author. But I think of him as one of the great thinkers we have today. He doesn’t create for the masses. He creates for a core group of people. Seth says to imagine this (it’s the essence of his creation, his art and his business): “You have a microphone, what are you going to do with it? My formula is I wake up in the morning and think about the people I seek to serve. That’s all I do. And I don’t reverse engineer it. I make it so that I can actually do my work.” He asks himself, “What change am I trying to make here?” And he wants you to ask yourself this, too.


Links and Resources

Purple Cow” by Seth Godin

“Gracefully” by Seth Godin

Akimbo (Seth’s new podcast) 

Seth’s blog

"This Might Work" by Seth Godin

Seth Godin’s online course Alt-MBA 


Also Mentioned

Krista Tippett and her podcast “On Being” 

Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast “Revisionist History” 

The Davinci Code

Gangnam Style

Chris Anderson

Kevin Kelly’s article “1,000 True Fans”

“The Tipping Point” by Malcolm gladwell

"Freakonomics" by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt 

Choose Yourself by me, James Altucher

Jerry Seinfeld

Sweet Green

Howard Schultz (founder of Starbucks)

Ayn Rand (author of “Atlas Shrugged”

Zig Ziglar

Warby Parker

Wharton Business School

Adam Grant author of “Originals”

James Cook

“The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (a Netflix documentary)


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Jul 26, 2018
375 - Bishop T.D. Jakes: How to Evolve, Where to Go Next and What Step to Take

Bishop T.D. Jakes was not born with “Bishop” in his name. He’s a preacher. The first one on my podcast. But he’s ALSO an entrepreneur (His business is his church and he has an entertainment company called TDJ enterprises). Every week, Bishop T.D. Jakes gives sermons to tens of thousands of people on multiple platforms (online and off). And people watch from all over the country. So I asked him about that (building an audience, find what you love, pursuing it, etc.) And I asked about his business. He gave me so much knowledge about entrepreneurship. And his most recent book, “Soar!: Build Your Vision From the Ground Up” says how anyone (from beginner to expert) can adopt his principles. We packed so much valuable information into the hour we were together. Everything from reinventing the choices we make to “purpose over profit” to why failure is priceless.

Links and Resources

Soar!: Build Your Vision From the Ground Up by T.D. Jakes 

Woman, Thou Art Loosed by T.D. Jakes 

Identity: Discover Who You Are and Live a Life of Purpose by T.D. Jakes 

Destiny: Step Into Your Purpose by T.D. Jakes 

The Potter’s House

Watch his youtube channel 

Also Mentioned

My Interview with Ken Langone 

Tyler Perry


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Jul 24, 2018
374 - Robert Greene: The Laws of Mastery: Know What You Want & How to Master It

Five years ago I interviewed one of my all-time favorite authors and brilliant thinkers. Now, I’m bringing this interview about mastery back to the surface. Before you can master something, you have to know what that “something” is. We all want to master something. And live to our full potential. That’s why we ask ourselves questions like, “What’s my passion?” and “What do I love?” Robert Greene told me his theory: find your voice, connect with your likes and dislikes. He digs into these strategies but also talks about seduction, manipulation, regret, writing and why he thinks everybody has creative potential.


Links and Resources

48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene

Mastery” by Robert Greene

Art of Seduction: An Indispensible Primer on the Ultimate Form of Power” by Robert Greene

Also Mentioned

"FAQ ME" - a free ebook for my podcast listeners! You can access it at

"11 Rings" by Phil Jackson

"Influence" by Robert Cialdini

Nicholas Tesla

Y Combinator creator Paul Graham

Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs: A Biography by Walter Isaacson

Leonardo da Vinci quote: “Just as a well-filled day brings blessed sleep, so a well-employed life brings a blessed death.”

I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Jul 19, 2018
373 - Sasha Cohen: How to Relentlessly Pursue Your Dream

Sasha Cohen is a World Champion ice skater. She won silver in the 2006 Winter Olympics when she was just 22 years old. Which means she had to start early. I wanted to know how she figured out what her dream was. (Because I think that’s hard at any age.) And I wanted to know how she became one of the best in the world at her thing. Her pursuit is relentless. Her focus is obsessive. And now she's sharing how to chase your dreams. And then make it happen...

Links and Resources

Follow Sasha on Facebook + Instagram + Twitter

Also Mentioned

Morgan Stanley

60 Minutes


Kristi Yamaguchi

Anders Ericsson

Malcolm Gladwell

Richard Feynman

The Weight of Gold Documentary 


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at

Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Jul 17, 2018
372 - James Altucher [Part 2]: How to Go from Idea to Business, Build an Inner Circle...

This is Part 2 of my interview with Amy Morin where she interviews me on building a business, going from idea to implementation, learning new skills, some my personal investment philosophies, why I think I’m stupid, burnout, relationships and more.

I’d also like to hear what you think of this episode. Tweet me at @jaltucher. Thanks

- James


Links and Resources

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success by Amy Morin

13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do: Raising Self-Assured Children and Training Their Brains for a Life of Happiness, Meaning, and Success by Amy Morin

There Are Only 4 Times You Should Agree to Work for Free” by Amy Morin on Inc.

Ep. 259 - Amy Morin: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do  

Ep. 289 - Amy Morin: The Easiest Side Hustle You Can Start Right Now


Also Mentioned

My interview with Nell Scovell

My Google talk

The Power of No” by me (James Altucher)

“The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno

My latest book, “Reinvent Yourself

My interview with Richard Branson

My interview with Judy Blume

Parker Posey

Judd Apatow


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Jul 12, 2018
371 - James Altucher [Part 1]: Amy Morin Interviews Me (How to Say "No," Anxiety, Success & More)

I wanted someone to interview me. And Amy Morin was the perfect choice. She’s the author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do” and she’s been on the podcast twice before this. For Part 1 of this interview, we cover a lot... Here's a list:

- WHY you should invest in yourself & how to diversify that investment

- Why process is more important than goals

- “Vulnerability hangovers”

- Anxiety

- Writing

- Reinvention

- How to say "no" (and when to say "yes")

And more. Enjoy and you can let me know what you think on Twitter @jaltucher


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


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Jul 10, 2018
370 - Garry Kasparov [Anniversary Episode]: The Mindset of a World Champion

Garry Kasparov is a World Champion Chess Master. He has made a name for himself through his unmatched intelligence and skill. In this special anniversary episode, I share my interview with Garry Kasparov from 2017. We talk about his mindset from the beginning of chess all the way to becoming a world champion. And drill down to get simple steps that anyone can use to improve their own mindset.

Links and Resources:

Read Garry’s newest book, “Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins“ 

Read “How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves, from the Board to the Boardroom” by Garry Kasparov

Read “Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped” by Garry Kasparov

Read “Checkmate!: My First Chess Book (Everyman Chess)” by Garry Kasparov

Check out Garry’s website

Follow Garry on Facebook and Twitter

I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at

Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Jul 05, 2018
369 - John McCaskill: Behind The Pot Industry Boom (Pros & Cons)

I went to Denver for research. Twenty-nine states + Canada have legalized marijuana in one form another. So what happened before the industry boom? And how can people profit today? I interview John Mc in this "pot-cast" about the changes he's seen develop in Colorado (economically, financially, culturally, etc.) 

I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Jul 03, 2018
368 - Mike Reiss: Yes! You Should Take Chances with Your Career

Mike Reiss started writing for The Simpsons because NO ONE else would take the job. They didn’t know they were passing up the opportunity work on what would soon become the #1 animated series on prime time TV. Mike has tons of stories about TV writing, comedy, and creating something people love. His secret: “We said, ‘No one’s gonna watch this so let’s just make this for us.” In this episode, Mike tells me why he took a chance, why he wasn’t afraid, and how it became the most fulfilling career move he ever made.


Links and Resources

Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by Mike Reiss

The Simpsons

Follow Mike on Twitter

My interview with Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson)

The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson

It’s Garry Shandling Show

Not Necessarily the News

National Lampoon

Conan O’Brien

James L. Brook

Sam Simon

Jake Hogan

Carol Burnett

The Flintstones

The Critic

Family Guy

South Park


Itchy and Scratchy


Taxi (tv show)

Chico and The Man

Mary Tyler Moore Show

Jim Brooks


Teen Angel

Whoopi Goldberg

Al Gene

Mike Reiss’s speech at Havard

Mark Twain quote “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter”

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry David



Chevy Chase

Richard Pryor

Sabrina the Teenage Witch

My interview with Nell Scovell

Beavis and Butthead




All In The Family

Big Bang Theory

Harvard Lampoon

Rocky and Bullwinkle

Citizen Kane

Terms of Endearment



Thomas Pynchon

J.D Salinger

Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

V. by Thomas Pynchon

Tom Clancy

Buzz Aldrin

James Taylor

Magic Johnson

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire


Silicon Valley

The Comedians

Billy Crystal

Josh Gad

Poking the Dead Frog: Conversations with Today's Top Comedy Writers by Mike Sacks

Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

Even This I Get to Experience by Norman Lear

The Hitchhiker by Charlie Lee


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at

Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Jun 28, 2018
367 - A.J. Jacobs: Immerse Yourself in The Creative Process

AJ Jacobs is entertaining. I think that’s the first thing I should say before I also say that he’s a six-time New York Times bestselling author. All his books are funny. And they’re extreme. I’ll explain. AJ comes up with crazy ideas and then gives us his “normal” way of life to fully immerse himself in a new (but temporary) way of life. This time he’s traveling the world to thank a thousand people who all had a hand in making his daily cup of coffee.


Links and Resources

"Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey" by AJ Jacobs (you can pre-order it now) 

 “Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection”  by AJ Jacobs

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible“ by AJ Jacobs

The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World“  by AJ Jacobs 

My Life as an Experiment: One Man’s Humble Quest to Improve Himself by Living as a Woman, Becoming George Washington, Telling No Lies, and Other Radical Tests“  by AJ Jacobs 

"It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World's Family Tree" by AJ Jacobs

Visit his website

Follow AJ on Facebook + Twitter

Also Mentioned

My interview with Dr. OZ

23 & Me

"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress" by Steven Pinker

Elisha Gray, he filed the patent for the telephone about 4 hours after Alexander Graham Bell

My interview with Tom Papa

Bill Gates

Ted Kaczynski

Jay R. Ferguson who plays AJ in “Living Biblically”


Larry David

Jerry Seinfeld

Marlon Wayans who almost played AJ 

John Galecki

The Big Bang

Modern Family

Louie (Louis CK’s show)


American Idol

Tim Ferriss

Gangum Style  

My YouTube channel

Good Fellas

Tom Hanks

Karma Sutra (book)

I, Pencil by Leonard E. Read


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Jun 26, 2018
366 - Ken Langone: Billionaire Co-Founder of Home Depot

Ken Langone is a billionaire. He co-founded Home Depot and he’s also been on the boards of some of America's most renowned companies. Ken talked to me about capitalism, (his book is called “I Love Capitalism!: An American Story”), corporate governance, morality, and picking good people to invest in. But I also always say that this podcast is not just about business. I also got to learn from Ken about self-respect, death, having a good outlook on life and following your gut. His success is proof that you can live well and live true to yourself. That’s what I hope to keep learning for myself.


Links and Resources

I Love Capitalism!: An American Story by Ken Langone


Also Mentioned

My interview with Garry Kasparov 

My interview with Sara Blakely

My interview with Arianna Huffington


Amy Schumer’s SNL monologue


Pete Cunningham

Frank Blake

Sam Walton

Jack Welch

Bernie Madoff

Home Depot

NYU Langone Health Centers

Robert De Niro


The Bible


Jeff Bezos

Warren Buffet quote, “It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and you can lose it in 5 minutes.”

The Wizard of Lies

Bob Nardelli

Ross Perot

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York

Jim Kaplan who collaborated with Ken on his book

Goldman Sachs

Stanley Druckenmiller

Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy

Pam Goldman (Ken’s assistant)


Steve Easterbrook

Jack Welch

Strayer - Jack Welch Management Institute


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Jun 21, 2018
365 - Steve Cohen & I Talk About Creativity, Culture and The Beatles

We're mixing up the format! You already know Steve Cohen (my podcast producer) from a recent episode. Well, in this episode, Steve and I talk about the impact of creativity, BUT we get really specific and focussed totally on one historic moment... just before The Beatles fell apart. 


Links and Resources

Let It Be by the Beatles

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Paul McCartney

John Lennon

George Harrison

Yoko Ono

Phil Spector - the producer of the album Let It Be

Ringo Starr

Jimmy Fallon

The Roots


Kanye West

Behind the Music

The Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger

Keith Richards

Charlie Watts

Richard Ben Cramer

Brian Epstein

Curious Mind by Brian Grazer

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - a documentary directed by Ron Howard

Eye Contact by Brian Grazer 

Tom Bodett

In Conversation: Quincy Jones

Andy Warhol

The Comedy Store

Robin Williams

Jay Leno

David Letterman

Spielberg on HBO

James on Ice T’s podcast

Break In - Ice T’s first appearance

George Lucas

Judy Blume

Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan

American Pie

Ep. 340 - Don McLean: Why You Should Follow Your Instincts 



Ep. 343 - Tony Rock: The Process to Get ANY Idea Off the Ground


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


Thanks so much for listening! If you like this episode, please subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” and rate and review wherever you get your podcasts:

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Jun 19, 2018
Special Ep: Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin

Hey! There's a new podcast out from my good friend Seth Godin. If you haven't had a chance to check out it, then here's your chance. I think you'll really enjoy it. It's called Akimbo


Jun 18, 2018
364 - Tom Papa: Will You Put Your Dream to The Test?

Tom Papa was afraid to follow his dream (like everyone else). But he put it to the test. He went up on stage, got laughs, and kept going. Now he has 5 different income streams (all because he took that first leap). He’s got a new TV show coming up, a podcast, a radio show, live events and comedy tours, plus he also just wrote a book, “Your Dad Stole My Rake: And Other Family Dilemmas.” These opportunities didn’t come to him over night. He’s been doing comedy for 25 years. He put his dream to the test. It was the scariest thing he’d ever done. I wanted him to share his story. And the courage.


Links and Resources

Read “Your Dad Stole My Rake: And Other Family Dilemmas” by Tom Papa

Watch Tom’s Specials, “Tom Papa: Human Mule,” “Tom Papa: Live in New York City,” and “Tom Papa: Freaked Out

Listen to Tom on the radio “Live From Here

Listen to Tom’s podcast “Come to Papa

Check out Tom’s website to see where he’s touring right now

Follow Tom on Twitter

Also Mentioned

Seinlanguage by Jerry Seinfeld 

Tom’s interview on WTF with Marc Maron 

The Village Voice


The Marriage Ref (tom hosted) created by Jerry Seinfeld 

The Informant!

Greg Giraldo

Paul Reiser

Red Oaks

Stephen Colbert

Conan O’Brien

Jay Leno

Dave Chappelle

Eddie Izzard

Paul Newman

Kevin Hart

Jim Gaffigan

Opie and Anthony (radio show)

Larry Wilmore

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Lenny Marcus 

Amy Schumer

Inside Amy Schumer


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


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Jun 14, 2018
363 - Allison Task: How to Have a Personal Revolution

Allison Task is a businesswoman. She was in the dot-com industry for nearly a decade. But she didn’t want to run a tech business. She wanted a more creative career... cooking. So that’s what she did. First, she went to culinary school, then she worked for Martha Stewart. and now, Allison is a premier chef, life coach, TV personality and podcaster. She’s also the author of recent book, “Personal Revolution: How to Be Happy, Change Your Life, and Do That Thing You’ve Always Wanted to Do.” And that’s what she’ll teach you in this episode… how to have a personal revolution.

Links and Resources

Personal Revolution: How to Be Happy, Change Your Life, and Do That Thing You've Always Wanted to Do by Allison Task

You Can Trust a Skinny Cook by Allison Fishman  

Cooking Light Lighten Up, America!: Favorite American Foods Made Guilt-Free by Allison Fishman Task


Also Mentioned

Yahoos Blue Ribbon Hunter

Spam Jam

Cook Yourself Thin


Martha Stewart

Everyday Food

Choose Yourself by James Altucher

The Power of No by James Altucher

Ep. 276 - Scott Adams: The Hardest Sell: Convincing Someone You’re Not What You Used to Be

The Joe Rogan Experience


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Jun 12, 2018
362 - Dani Zoldan: Reflecting on Reinvention: Why Stand Up Saved My Life

I’d always been interested in comedy, but I was completely terrified to go up on stage. But now  I’m obsessed. I interview as many of my favorite comedians on the show as I can, so I could learn from them. I want to know everything. Not just from comedians. But from everyone in the industry. And Dani Zoldan, owner of Stand Up NY, is the one who convinced me go on stage consistently. So I went up 6x a week. I got good. Stand-up comedy is by far the hardest skill I’ve ever wanted  to learn. And now, I needed to reflect. I’ve been doing stand up close to 3 years now. I own part of a comedy club. I’ve gone all in. I wanted Dani to interview me because he was the person who encouraged me the most in the beginning. This is my stand up journey…


Links and Resources

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J Dubner  

The Bell House 

Stand Up NY - go to for a course to develop your best 5 minutes of stand up 

Ep. 316 - Aaron Berg: The Fearless Comedian (How He Find the Funny)

Judah Friedlander

Judah Friedlander: America Is the Greatest Country in the United States

30 Rock

Ep. 325 - Godfrey: Flex Your Comedy Muscle 

Luna Lounge

Marc Maron 

Aspen Laugh Festival

Dave Chappelle 

Louis CK

Ep. 343 - Tony Rock: The Process to Get ANY Idea Off the Ground 

Anthony Jeselnik

Ep. 344 - Barry Michels: This Is What’s Really In Your Subconscious Mind 

The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity and Willpower–and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion by Barry Michels 

Brian Regan’s talk at Google 

Chris Rock 

Bo Burnham 

Amy Schumer 

Ep. 327 - Dante Nero: From Stripping to Comedy: How to Switch Careers

Ep. 251 - Geno Bisconte: Let Yourself Laugh!


Johnny Carson

Seth Rogen

Rodney Dangerfield

Guys We Fucked Podcast

Tuesdays With Stories!

Race Wars



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Jun 07, 2018
361 - Jesse Itzler: The $160,000 Lesson

Jesse doesn’t remember anything he learned from college except for ONE lesson. He calls it “the $160,000 lesson.” He almost breezed by it. I had to stop him. “What was the lesson?”

It’s a strong lesson. And if I try to write the whole story in this box, it’ll lose it’s power.

I wrote about it here. Or you can listen to the podcast now [it’s in the first 2 mins]. It’s worth it. Jesse is one of the most naturally motivating people I’ve ever met. And it’s contagious.


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at

Show Notes:

Living with the Monks: What Turning Off My Phone Taught Me about Happiness, Gratitude, and Focus by Jesse Itzler

Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet by Jesse Itzler

My first interview with Jesse Itzler: Ep.163: 6 Simple Steps to Becoming Self-Made

Vanilla Ice (rapper)

Marquis Jet (a company Jessie founded, which was then sold to NetJets)

Zico coconut water (Jesse’s a partner)

My interview with Shane Snow, author of Smartcuts [Ep. 355 - Make The Breakthrough You Need (With These “Smart Cuts”]

President Obama

Dwight Eisenhower

John F Kennedy

Lyndon B Johnson

Richard Nixon

Spanx (invented by Sara Blakely who Jesse is married to and who I got to interview on this podcast: Episode 211: How To Get a Billion Dollar Idea)

Philip Roth who wrote “American Pastoral” a Pulitzer Prize winning book

Steve Jobs

Game of Thrones


Silent retreat

Thich Nhat Hahn and his monastery which is Buddhist

Jesse stayed with Orthodox Christian monks

Vipassana (silent retreat)

Fit for Life” by Harvey Diamond and Marilyn Diamond

Jesse turned some of the highlights from his book into an animated series. Check it out here

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Jun 05, 2018
360 - Joey Coleman: How to Relate to People (Customers, Partners, Bosses, Loved Ones and Cops)

Joey Coleman knows relationships. Business relationships, romantic relationships. “It’s all part of the human condition,” he says. He also got himself out of 76 traffic tickets. And it’s all because of this one trick: he goes a level deeper. And then another level and another. Anytime I've made money, it's because of this trick. Joey's book is called, “Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days” and I trust Joey. His book and his talks all offer some of greatest value you’ll find for relationships, friendships, entrepreneurship, friendships, solo-preneurship, being an employee. Anywhere and in every area.

Links and Resources

Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days by Joey Coleman


Also Mentioned

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

My interview with Robert Cialdini 

Scott Adams 

Tucker Max

Tim Ferriss

Ryan Holiday

Lewis Howes

my interview with Barry Michels 

Mastermind Talks (created by Jayson Gaignard)  

Delta Airlines 


Attention Pays: How to Drive Profitability, Productivity, and Accountability by Neen James


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May 31, 2018
359 - Keith Hernandez: Talent & Obsession (A Formula for Grit)

Keith Hernandez is arguably one of the best baseball players of all time. He played first baseman for the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals the majority of his career. He won two World Series titles (one with each team). He’s now apart of the broadcasting team for the Mets. And he just wrote a new book, “I’m Keith Hernandez: A Memoir.” He’s multi-talented. But before there was broadcasting and books there was no plan B for Keith. Everything he did was baseball. And he was sent to the majors when he was only 2 and a half years out of high school. So I wanted to know what transformed him from being a talented, obsessed kid to one of the best players of all time. And what kept him there for almost 20 years. This is the Keith Hernandez story…  


Links and Resources

I’m Keith Hernandez: A Memoir by Keith Hernandez

Pure Baseball by Keith Hernandez and Mike Bryan

If at First: A Season With the Mets By Keith Hernandez and Mike Bryan

Shea Good-Bye: The Untold Inside Story of the Historic 2008 Season by Keith Hernandez and Matthew Silverman


Also Mentioned


The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams and John Underwood

Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen

Joe Medwick

Peter Marshall

Pete Rose

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

Moneyball (the movie)

Bob Kennedy

Andre Agassi

Open: An Autobiography By Andre Agassi

Ted Williams

Lou Brock

Dick Selma

Larry Dierker

Gene Tenace

Dave Anderson

Derek Jeter


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


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May 29, 2018
358 - Heather Monahan: Create Confidence Up From Nothing

Heather Monahan told me that with every decision you make, you’re either going to be building confidence or chipping away at it. So I wanted to learn how to be building it more often than I am destroying it. Because according to Heather, author of “Confidence Creator,” confidence is not static. It’s a muscle. And you can work on it at any stage of life. She says, “It’s not a natural gift. It’s practice.”

Links and Resources

Confidence Creator by Heather Monahan

Also Mentioned

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini  

My upcoming interview with Keith Hernandez (subscribe to the podcast to make sure you hear it)

Compilation video of Eddie Murphy on David Letterman 

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg 

The song “Glorious” by Macklemore 

The Honda Civic Effect

My YouTube Channel which just launched


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May 24, 2018
357 - Jordan Harbinger: How to Keep Growing and Keep Moving Forward

Jordan Harbinger built a successful brand from podcasting for 12 years. He’s done close to 900 interviews with top performers. But something changed recently. He reached out to me via email. And I knew I needed to get him on the show right away. He told me that he didn’t like his brand anymore. He didn’t like what it was morphing into. “I was becoming disillusioned,” Jordan said. So he took a step back. And after what he thought was an amicable split from his partners, he and his team got fired. PAUSE. This is awful. I’ve been through my own terrible losses before. So I can say fully that what Jordan did next was the definition of a true entrepreneur.

Links and Resources

The Jordan Harbinger Show

Also Mentioned

PodcastOne Network

Howard Stern

Opie and Anthony

Podcast Listeners Really Are the Holy Grail Advertisers Hoped They’d Be by Miranda Katz on WIRED

Dan Harris

Missing Richard Simmons

Seth Godin

Larry King

Gary Vaynerchuk

Jerry Seinfeld

Talk Pages of Wikipedia

Mike Rowe: The Way I Heard It (Episode 597) on The Art of Charm 

Advanced Human Dynamics Programs 

Friend of a Friend: Understanding the Hidden Networks That Can Transform Your Life and Your Career by David Burkus

Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke

Ep. 40: Annie Duke: How to Make Decisions Like A Poker Champ on the Jordan Harbinger Show

Ep. 28: James Fallon: How to Spot a Psychopath on the Jordan Harbinger Show 

The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain by James Fallon

Charlie Rose

On Being

Hardcore History



Cam Herrald

Tim Ferriss

Gavin de Becker


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May 22, 2018
356 - Steve Cohen: The Tao of Steve Cohen, A Shortcut to Wisdom

I hired Steve Cohen. He produces this podcast. And I wanted him to be on the show because he has a mutant superpower. All my guests do. But his superpower really blows me away. I can barely understand how it comes so natural to him. But it does. Steve is a friend to thousands and thousands of people. He knows everyone and their mom, their manager, their business. He’s built up genuine goodwill with so many people. And I look at that as a superpower because it’s not your typical “networking.” It’s more than that. It’s networking with meaning. Or as Steve says, “it’s friendship.” I wanted to interview Steve about how he got this talent. And he kept me laughing the whole way through. Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing: Steve Cohen!


Also Mentioned

Howard Stern

Dan Rather

Walter Cronkite

60 Minutes


Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need by Harvey Mackay

Mother Teresa

Matt Lauer

J.B. Smoove

Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 1

Seth Godin

Wolfgang Puck

The Wolf Of Wall Street

Jordan Belfort

My interview with Mike Posner

James Taylor

Rain Man

Enter the Dragon (1973) featuring Bruce Lee

The Last Dragon

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Ava DuVernay

Choose Yourself! by me

My segment of Good Day New York (Steve’s show before coming to work with me on this podcast)

The New York Times Article about me “Why Self-Help Guru James Altucher Only Owns 15 Things”  

A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer

Michael Buffer

Pat Croce

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

Ryan Holiday

My most recent interview with Mike Massimino

My interview with Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Dumb and Dumber

On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 My interview with Nancy Cartwright who did the voice of Bart Simpson

Charlie Rose

Gayle King

The Psychology of Winning: Ten Qualities of a Total Winner by Denis Waitley

Eric Andre who’s in The Internship and Man Seeking Woman Season

Man Seeking Woman (the book) by Simon Rich

The Eric Andre Show

Hannibal Buress

My interview with Wayne Dyer

My interview with Richard Branson


All the people contributing to make "James Altucher Show" possible: Pamela Rothenberg, Nathan Rosborough, Jay Wujun, Michelle Brown, Savannah Griffin, Matt Lazas and Doug Hill


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


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May 17, 2018
355 - Shane Snow: Are You Ideal to Work With? (What Makes a Good Team)

This is Shane Snow’s third time on the podcast. And we had a lot to cover. Shane is the author of, “Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.” (An incredibly intelligent book.) And he’s also the cofounder of “Contently,” a content strategy company that helps businesses grow. Shane’s taught me a lot about solving problems in unconventional ways. And in this episode he teaches me about the 4 elements that make someone “ideal to work with.” See, he’s been studying teams. And just wrote a book about it (coming out in June) called “Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart.”

Links and Resources

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow

Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart by Shane Snow

Contently - the company Shane co-founded

Take The Open Mindedness Test on Shane’s Website


Also Mentioned

Ep. 168 - Tony Hawk: Don’t Stand Still

The Peekaboo Paradox by Gene Weingarten


Malcolm Gladwell

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin (how Shane learned to be a better writer) 

JJ Abrams

John F. Kennedy

Rizza of the Wu Tang Clan

Malcolm X

Martin Luther King

Bayard Rustin

12 Rule for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson


The Captain Class: A New Theory of Leadership by Sam Walker

Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Taleb

Elijah Muhammad

Hamilton the Musical

Bob Dylan

Elon Musk



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May 15, 2018
354 - Mike Massimino: You Can’t Control the Outcome, So Keep Doing What You Love

It took Mike Massimino 11 years to achieve his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut. He was rejected 3 times. But he never stopped his pursuit to achieve his dream. He writes about it in his New York Times bestselling book “Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe”. This is Mike’s 2nd time on the podcast and I wanted to ask him all the questions that have stuck with me ever since that first interview. Like how he kept trying even after that 1st rejection.


Links and Resources

Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Mike Massimino

Also Mentioned

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

The Right Stuff (the movie)

Jurassic Park

Science Channel

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Podcast, StarTalk Radio

StarTalk on the National Geographic Channel

The Planets and Beyond on Science Channel

One Strange Rock on the National Geographic Channel

The Big Bang Theory

Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

Elon Musk

Jeff Bezos

Richard Branson


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May 14, 2018
353 - Maria Konnikova: How to Look at Life Like a Game and Make Better Choices Because of It

Maria Konnikova is a journalist. She’s written two New York Times best sellers. One about con artists and having the confidence to get away something. The other is about how detectives think. But now she’s immersed in poker (for her next book). And making big money (she made $200,000 in her first year playing). That WAS NOT the plan. She wanted to write a book about luck. Now, she’s on her way to play in the world series. She taught me about “game theory,” which is “when you look at the world like a game, where everyone has certain payoffs for certain decisions,” she said.


Links and Resources

The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time by Maria Konnikova

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova

My first podcast interview with Maria Konnikova

Also Mentioned

Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players by Stefan Fatsis

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Josh Foer

My interview with Josh Foer

Doyle Bronson who said he could win without looking at his cards

A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market by Edward Thorpe

My interview Anders k. Ericson, author of “Peak” and the founder of the 10,000 hour rule

Erik Seidel


Brian Koppelman

Youtube clip Erik Seidel playing Johny Chang 

Matt Damon

Daniel Negreanu

Bobby fisher

Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play by Dan Harrington

Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen

Poker Go (a site to watch poker)

Nassim Taleb

My interview with Tony Robbins

My interview with Frank Shamrock 

Run It Once (poker strategy site)

Phil Galfond

Joseph Conrad (polish writer)

Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts by Annie Duke

The story of the Polgar sisters

Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games by László Polgár and Bruce Pandolfini

Brad Mehldau


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May 10, 2018
352 - Tony Hawk [Anniversary Episode]: The Key to Having Abundance in Life is Persistence

Tony Hawk is a professional skateboarder AND world champion for 12 years in a row. Every single day, since he was 11 years old, he’s done what he loves to do: skateboarding. I interviewed him at an event in 2016. And Tony was skating before the interview. It’s what’s most natural to him. But he also built a brand and an empire from his success. He’s sold over a billion dollars worth of video games with his name on it. 


Show Notes:

Follow Tony Hawk on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (username: tonyfrankhawk)

Watch videos at

Learn about The Tony Hawk Foundation

Jason Gaynor’s Mastermind Talks Conference

my interview with Freeway RickRoss


I write about all my podcasts! Check out the full post and learn what I learned at

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May 08, 2018
351 - Sherrod Small: The Benefit of Starting at The Bottom (You Get to Rise)

Sherrod Small is a comedian, all around personality, actor, writer, producer, podcast host of "RaceWars". He’s done everything. He grew up in the comedy clubs with his cousins, Chris Rock and Tony Rock. And he could’ve taken a shortcut, but he chose not to. "We wanted to start from the bottom of the bottom,” he said. “We wanted to know every aspect of this business. And we wanted to grow our own voice.” He told me his path to success. It’s applicable to more than just someone who wants to pursue stand-up. He talked to me about enthusiasm and experience. And why he recommends you skip taking shortcuts when you feel the excitement.

Links and Resources: 

My interview with Tony Rock: Ep. 343 – Tony Rock: The Process to Get ANY Idea Off the Ground

Greg Giraldo

Lucian Hold who ran The Comic Strip  

Rick Newman owned The Catch

Robbin Williams

Rosie O'Donnell

Some of Sherrod’s biggest influences: Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Bobcat Goldthwait

Michelle Wolf’s performance at the 2018 White House Correspondents Dinner

Sherrod’s commentary on CBS as official correspondent for the White House Correspondents Dinner

Todd Barry

Dave Chappelle

Chris Rock

Jerrod Carmichael

Sherrod’s podcast “RaceWars”

Greer Barne’s bit on Colbert


Christian Finnegan

The Real Real World

Neal Brennon

Sherrod’s show with Christian Finnegan called “Black and White” on A&E

Jim Biederman

My interview with AJ Jacobs  

My interview with Kevin Alloca 

Joe Rogan

My interview with Sebastian Maniscalco

Carrot Top

Carl Ruiz (who Sherrod is working on a new show with)

Guy Fieri

Man vs Food

Sherrod’s show, Men vs Food

Louis episode “bang bang”

Bonnie McFarlane

Mark Norman


Alex guarnaschelli  

Kert Metzer (who used to write for Inside Amy Schumer”)

Stephen Colbert  

Jon Stewart

Sherrod’s website

Sherrod’s upcoming show  Mi Familia: Part 1 - LIVE AT THE COMEDY CELLAR

Sam Jay

Michael Che

Chris Redd

Leslie Jones

Drew Michael

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May 07, 2018
350 - Mark Manson: The Origin of Hope (vs. Hopelessness)

You’ve heard of the book,“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.”  It’s the #3 most read book on Amazon and a “New York Times” bestseller. And the book, written by Mark Manson, is still skyrocketing. But ENOUGH. Mark is ready to move on. He’s been doing press for the book for over a year. And it’s pulling him back from getting to a place where his brain can look for new ideas. So I asked what he’s curious about. I wanted to know what’s next.

“I’m fixated on this idea of hope and meaning right now,” Mark said. He broke it down. And revealed his opinion on why there’s so much hopelessness and meaningless now. Our conversation went deep. And we got into topics I haven’t talked about much on this podcast. And now… thanks to Mark, I have new ideas, too.

Links and Resources

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

6 Things People Should Give Fewer Fucks About by Mark Manson

Check Out Mark’s website

Follow Mark on Twitter + Facebook


Also Mentioned

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World--And Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress by Steven Pinker

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

Republic by Plato

Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter

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May 03, 2018
349 - Jon Morrow [Anniversary Episode]: He Made Half a Million Dollars in 9 months. This is What Kept Him Motivated

There are very few times in my life that I am so incredibly grateful to meet someone. And this was definitely one of those top 10 moments for me. Jon Morrow has created several multi-million dollar businesses. He's the founder of Smart Blogger and written several viral articles including “On dying mothers and fighting for your ideas” and “How to quit your job, move to paradise and get paid to change the world.” Jon is the epitome of overcoming obstacle. He was paralyzed from the neck down at birth. That didn't stop him. It motivated him. Because he knew he could end up in a nursing home. And nothing scared him more. I asked him everything: how he built his businesses, consulting practice, how he wrote without being able to type. And with every question I asked, he had an answer. He had a story. Or experience to share. And I'm grateful I can share it with you.


Show Notes:

Jon’s website

Jon's most popular blogs that went viral: “On dying mothers and fighting for your ideas” and “How to quit your job, move to paradise and get paid to change the world

How to accomplish big things even when you feel small

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us” by Seth Godin

Tribes: The Case Studies (which Jon was featured in) + it’s a free PDF

Fight Club

Jon mentioned a few successes from his course:
Danny Iny – Mirasee
Jennifer Grisham – Everyday Bright
Tommy Walker – (runs content for Shopify)


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May 01, 2018
348 - Jocko Willink: How Having a Code to Live By Will Give You Strength

Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL. Jocko has taken what he learned from the military and is teaching others how to live their life the same way, including our kids. He lives by a code. A code that anyone can develop for themselves. Jocko holds himself to these standards everyday. This is the Way of the Warrior…  

He’s also written books about this code: “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win,” a book I loved and highly recommend. And most recently he published two books in his children’s series: “Way of the Warrior Kid: From Wimpy to Warrior the Navy SEAL Way” and “Marc’s Mission: Way of the Warrior Kid.”


Links and Resources

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Way of the Warrior Kid: From Wimpy to Warrior the Navy SEAL Way by Jocko Willink

Marc’s Mission: Way of the Warrior Kid by Jocko Willink

The Dichotomy of Leadership: Balancing the Challenges of Extreme Ownership to Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (releasing September 25)

Jocko Podcast (don’t miss his recently released 3 part series)

Check out Jocko’s apparel company at


Also Mentioned

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson

Fortunate Son: The Healing of a Vietnam Vet by Lewis B. Puller Jr.

22 Kill - an organization to raise awareness to the veteran suicide epidemic and to educate the public on PTSD and other mental health issues.

Factfulness: 10 Reasons We’re Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling

The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang

The Woman Who Could Not Forget: Iris Chang Before and Beyond the Rape of Nanking by Ying-Ying Chang

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Apr 30, 2018
347 - Jen Sincero: You Are a Badass at Making Money

Jen made $30k a year before she decided to get rich. Guess how much she made a year later? SIX FIGURES. “I was sick of living my life so small,” she said. So she made a BIG decision. Jen “decided” to get rich. She shifted her focus, incorporated positive thinking and made success her only option. There was no plan B... And that’s what she taught me in this interview. This episode will give you Jen’s best insights about making money and being positive from her New York Times bestselling books, “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” and (the 2nd edition of the series) “You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth”.

Links and Resources

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero

Follow Jen on Twitter + Facebook

Check out Jen’s website


Also Mentioned

The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles

Think and Grow Rich

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Apr 26, 2018
346 - Nell Scovell: From Old to Original: How to Take Tired Ideas and Make Them New

Nell Scovell had a dream career working in television. She’s worked on every classic I can remember. And she even created a show, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” She took tired sitcom plots and put them through what she calls a “magical blender.” And out came something original. She told me how her ambition to be a prominent female television writer gave her these amazing opportunities that us men can only dream of. And how being on the sidelines gave her the confidence to lead a team to success.


Links and Resources

Just the Funny Parts… And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys’ Club  by Nell Scovell

Follow Nell on Twitter + Facebook


Also Mentioned

Murphy Brown


It’s Garry Shandling’s Show

The Muppets


Late Night with David Letterman

Sabrina the Teenage Witch, created by Nell



I Dream of Genie

Coach with Craig T. Nelson

The Simpsons


Curb Your Enthusiasm

A Thousand Clowns, the play by Herb Gardner

The Cosby Show


The Buttoned Down Mind of Bob Newhart

I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy’s Golden Era by William Knoedelseder

Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin by Paul Feig

Gilligan’s Island

Freaks & Geeks

Arrested Development

The Office

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk: Why we have too few women leaders



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Apr 24, 2018
345 - Aubrey Marcus: Human Optimization + Peak Performance (A Guide)

Aubrey Marcus is the CEO and founder of Onnit, a company dedicated to human optimization and peak performance. I like what Aubrey had to say because it’s not just what you’d typically think of when you hear the words “optimize” or “peak performance.” He says, “You gotta live a life that’s worth living. Live a life that’s well-rounded, balanced and includes the things like having a glass of wine or smoking a joint and making love to your lover, playing with your dog and hanging out, but also being extremely productive, also meditating, also eating right, also training like a beast." And his philosophy is backed up by clinical studies. He really has the science to prove his theories. So I'm testing them all. 

Show Notes


Own the Day Own Your Life by Aubrey Marcus

Alpha Brain


Also Mentioned

The Joe Rogan Experience


My interview with Rich Roll

My interview with Freeway Rick Ross (the infamous drug dealer and now philanthropist) 

Alpha Brain 


Huperzia Serrata 

Acetylcholine system (responsible for memory, sharpness, focus)




Boston Center for Memory (this is where Aubrey did his clinical trials for Alpha Brain)

Aubrey’s interview with Tim Ferriss

Aubrey’s interview with Gary Vaynerchuk

Tim Ferris’ video working out with kettlebells 

Brody Miller

Rodger Huerta

The steel mace

The steel club

Zeitgeber (the external cues that help sync your circadian rhythm)

The Human Charger (light emitting earbuds) 

Wim Hof method


Chronic stress

Snus (a Swedish tobacco company) 

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship: A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz

You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter by Dr. Joe Dispenza

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Practicing the Power of Now: Essential Teachings, Meditations, and Exercises From The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Island by Aldous Huxley

Sex at Dawn by Cacilda Jethá and Christopher Ryan


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Apr 23, 2018
344 - Barry Michels: This is What's Really in Your Subconscious Mind

Barry is taking Eastern/compassion meditation and westernizing it. He wrote a book about these “tools” that you can use to understand yourself better. And understand your reactions, your dreams, your disappointments. He’ll explain how your subconscious stores information and memories. So that you can take advantage of it. This episode is powerful. Barry Michels has knowledge (and experience) helping people like you and me through therapy and his books. I highly recommend you listen to this interview. Because Barry will teach you how to tap into the potential you didn’t know you had...


Links and Resources

Also Mentioned

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Apr 19, 2018
343 - Tony Rock: The Process to Get ANY Idea Off the Ground

Tony Rock is a super stand up comedian. And he’s also Chris Rock’s brother. He stars in CBS’ newest comedy, “Living Biblically,” based on my good friend, AJ Jacobs’ book. Tony’s been working on his comedy muscle for 24 years, so I wanted to ask him about his process. And how anyone can adopt this process for their own projects or side hustles. These are Tony's techniques to bring your ideas from the drawing board to action. 


Links and Resources

Watch Tony on CBS’ newest comedy, Living Biblically, based on AJ Jacobs book, “The Year of Living Biblically”

Watch Tony on BET’s Shows Black Card Revoked + Apollo Live

Watch Tony on NBA - The WarmUp Live on Twitter or on

Follow Tony on Twitter + Facebook

Also Mentioned

Ep. 293 - AJ Jacobs: Why We Experiment (And Why You Should Also)

Inside the NBA

Patrice O’Neal: Elephant In the Room

Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip

Chris Rock: Tamborine

Dave Chappelle: Equanimity & The Bird Revelation

The Kevin Nealon Show at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood

Jay-Z Album - 4:44

Louis CK: Live at the Beacon Theater

All of Us


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Apr 17, 2018
342 - Frank Oz: How to Create Something Original: Lessons from The Maker of Our Most Beloved Characters

Frank Oz is the puppeteer. He played Miss Piggy. Bert of “Bert and Ernie,” The Cookie Monster,  and even Yoda on Star Wars. He just released a new documentary called “Muppet Guys Talking: Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched.” It’s about the creation of the Muppets and the man behind it all, Jim Henson. He was a unique leader, with a “nothing is impossible” attitude. This is the untold story of the Muppet creators and the team that made it all possible.

Links and Resources

Watch Frank’s documentary: “Muppet Guys Talking: Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched” only available on for $10

Frank directs the off broadway production In & Of Itself playing at the Daryl Roth Theatre in NYC

Sesame Street

Star Wars

The Muppets

The Muppets Movie 

Trading Places (the 1983 movie) 

The Great Muppet Caper 

Touch of Evil

Little Shop of Horrors 

Downton Abbey

Steve Martin

Orson Welles

Jim Henson

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Apr 16, 2018
341 - Anders Ericsson [Anniversary Episode]: 7 Secrets of Mastery

Anders K. Ericsson discovered the “10,000” hour rule. I had him on my podcast in 2016 to talk about peak performance. (One of my favorite topics.) And he broke down the steps every individual should follow to learn and MASTER a skill.

Links and Resources

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Dr. K Anders Ericsson and Robert Poole

Also Mentioned

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

The Polgar SIsters (the 3 best female Hungarian chess players ever)

Laszlo Polgar (chess teacher who raised 3 chess prodigies his daughters)

The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance

Mozart - considered the most talented prodigy in music history, Anders disputes this

Magnus Carlsen - the best chess player in the world at age 12


Picasso - one of the best painters of his time

Andy Warhol - in the 1950s he was a master illustrator

The Boston Marathon

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Apr 12, 2018
340 - Don McLean: Why You Should Follow Your Instincts

Don McLean is a singer and songwriter best known for the song, "American Pie." But he’s so much more than just this one hit. He’s sold 40 platinum and gold records and he’s still touring(!). And now he’s kicking off his 2 year tour for his new album, "Botanical Gardens." Don has decades and decades of experience and he’s always had an instinct about what he’s wanted to do... what he wanted to create. He transforms nostalgia into music and art. And in this interview he told me how  I think I was asking for every artist. Or anyone listening who still wants to become one


Links and Resources

Check out Don’s newest album Botanical Gardens 

Don’s Albums we talk about:

Don’s Songs we talk about:

Check out Don’s website for tour dates

Also Mentioned

Steve Martin - Don told a story where he showed up on his doorstep in 1972 (before he was anyone) to talk about the banjo

Penn Jillette - he came on the podcast!

Larry Butler

Buddy Holly

The Weavers

Steve Allen

Pete Seeger

Bob Dylan


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Apr 10, 2018
339 - Tyra Banks: How to Create New Opportunities & Gain Control of Your Destiny

Tyra Banks booked 25 fashion shows her first year being an “unknown.” That’s unheard of. She climbed to the top of an industry and consistently created new opportunities for herself. When “they” said she was getting too fat, she switched from high-fashion to commercial modeling. When “they” said her idea for a TV show was stupid, she found someone else and got a “yes.” Then she produced one of the highest rated reality TV shows “America’s Top Model.” She excelled in 150 countries. And created 25 international versions, too. And what was most impressive was that Tyra had her hands in all of it. She’s a true entrepreneur. And I’m so lucky to have learned from her. Now you get, too.

Links and Resources

Perfect Is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me About Beauty, Booty, and Being a Boss by Tyra Banks and her mama, Carolyn London

Modelland by Tyra Banks 

Tyra's Beauty Inside & Out by Tyra Banks and‎ Vanessa Thomas Bush 

America’s Top Model 

Tyra Beauty (Tyra’s cosmetics line)

Also Mentioned

Lean on me” (movie) 

Battlestar Galactica  (movie)

Star Trek 

Against All Odds”  (movie)

Stand and Deliver  (movie)

Edward James Olmos

James interview with Tony Robbins

Cindy Crawford

Heidi Klum

Claudia Schiffer

American Idol 

MTV’s The Real World 


Kenya Barris (creator of Blackish)

Ken Bock

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Apr 09, 2018
338 - Michio Kaku: What The Future Holds… (How to Use Physics to Predict the Future)

Michio Kaku is one of the most famous physicists out there. His new book, “The Future of Humanity” is a New York Times bestseller. It’s full of deep questions. “Every question has another answer, which begs more questions,” he said. “But that’s good. Because that’s what science is all about.” Michio talked to me about time travel, space travel, etc. And he PROVED that there’s a lot more possible than just what lies on the surface. The future is an exciting picture.


Show Notes:

Physics of the Impossible” by Michio Kaku

Physics of the Future” by Michio Kaku

The Future of the Mind” by Michio Kaku

Einstein’s Cosmo” by Michio Kaku

Beyond Einstein” by Michio Kaku

Albert Einstein

Theory of Everything

String Theory

The Theory of Everything

Quantum Theory

Interstellar travel

"Alice in Wonderland"

Stephen Hawking

Shakespeare's quote: “All the world’s a stage"

Isaac Newton

Einstein Rosen Bridge

Interstellar” (the movie)

Singularity (theory)

The Quantum Principle

The Uncertainty Principle


The 5th Dimension

Quantum Entanglement

The Matrix

The Nation Science Fair

Star Trek

Harry Potter

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Apr 05, 2018
337 - Robert Kurson: The Leap of Faith Everyone Needs to Take

Robert Kurson is the bestselling author of “Shadow Divers,” “Pirate Hunters” and his newest, “Rocket Men”. He writes about people and their explorations. And brings them to life. Before he became an esteemed author, he led a pretty conventional life. He went to Harvard Law School and carried out his degree in the field. But he dreaded every morning. So he started writing and took a huge leap of faith. This is his story…

Show Notes:

“Pirate Hunters” by Robert Kurson

“Shadow Divers” by Robert Kurson

“Rocket Men” by Robert Kurson

Apollo 13

Machiavelli’s Advice for Nice Guys


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Apr 03, 2018
336 - Steve Case [Anniversary Episode]: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future

Steve Case founded AOL. He’s a self-made billionaire and author of the New York Times bestseller “The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future.” This is one of my most popular episodes from 2016. Because he has a great story (he turned down Bill Gates, when Gates wanted to buy AOL for millions). He saw a bigger future. And he held on to that idea. He learned how to master his own future. That’s what this episode is about.

Enjoy and you can check out my full notes on my blog at


Show Notes:

Steve Case’s New York Times bestseller, “The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future

Revolution (Steve is the founder)

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Apr 02, 2018
335 - Wynton Marsalis: How to Find the Jazz of Life: Embrace Your Creativity

Wynton Marsalis is one of the best and most well-known jazz musicians ever. I had him on to talk about creativity. He’s made over 80 albums, sold over 7 million records, and won 9 Grammys (all unbelievable). He even won the Pulitzer Prize in music, which is the 1st for jazz. Now Wynton’s the Managing Director & the Artistic Director for Jazz at Lincoln Center. Wynton’s whole life is about being creative. He’s learned how to transform art from its existing state into something entirely new. That’s a skill. And that’s what we’ll dive into in this conversation: how you, too, can become a master of your own creativity.

Show Notes: 

Read Wynton Marsalis’ article in The New York Times, “What Jazz Is and Isn’t And listen to some of his music on “United We Swing: Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas

Check Out Wynton’s Website

Be part of Jazz at Lincoln Center Community via

Autobiography of a Yogi by P. Yogananda

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Mar 29, 2018
334 - Brad Meltzer: Creating a Bestselling Novel (The Secret X-Factor Revealed)

Brad Meltzer is one of the most passionate writers I’ve ever met. He writes page-turning thriller novels. “The Tenth Justice”, “The Millionaires” and his most recent, “The Escape Artist”. The first book Brad wrote got 24 rejection letters. But he trusted his gut and kept fighting. He found what he loved: 1. Character creation and 2. writing. I wanted to find out the X-factor in his books… and how he pressed on to become the writer he is today.

Show Notes:

The Tenth Justice by Brad Meltzer

The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer

The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer

Brad’s Ted Talk: How to Write Your Own Obituary

Jack and Bobby the TV Series

The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Games Magazine


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Mar 27, 2018
333 - Adam Perlman: ‘Billions’ Writer on The Internal Struggle that Comes With Changing Your Career

Adam Perlman is a TV writer, director and co-executive producer. We met on the set of Showtime's “Billions,” which I can now say I am a technical writer for. He's also written for some of my favorite shows like "The Newsroom" and "The Good Wife." Adam used to be a lawyer. But he went through this constant battle with himself on whether it’s “okay” to be an artist. Finally, the market collapsed. And there was no work for him in corporate law. So he spent his days writing and eventually landed a mentor, and a gig, and the story picks up from there. Adam Perlman’s a true example of the struggle a lot of us go through when we know we have some bigger dream... but don’t know if survival comes with that dream. So I look at Adam as living proof that it can be done. That you can have your dream and your wellness and your finance all at once.

Show Notes:

Some of the shows Adam Perlman writes for:
"The Newsroom"
"The Good Wife"

"Billions" (on Showtime)

My interview with Bill Cartwright
My interview with Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Bob Scanlan
Samuel Beckett
David Mamet
David Rabe

The Harvard Lampoon

The Acting Company

The Flea
The New York Fringe Festival

Aaron Sorkin’s shows: "The West Wing" and "Sports Night"

"Seinfeld" (TV Show) by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" 
"Silicon Valley"
"The League"

Michael Patrick King (Adam says Michael Patrick King was the major creative force behind "Sex and the City")
t (the play Michael Patrick King worked on with writer Nancy Shane)
Transport Group (the off broadway theater company that Adam Perlman was the literary manager for)
"Sex and the City" (Movie)

"Ugly Betty"
"Law and Order"

Gen Maynard (the first person to help out Adam in his TV career. Gen worked on “The Amazing Race,” “Survivor,” and later “CSI”)

Josh Berman

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Mar 26, 2018
332 - Jimmy Yang: Stop Being Bored at Work… Risk Stability & Find Your Next Career Move

Jimmy Yang veered into comedy not out of love, but out of desperation. He writes about this in his new book “How to American”. “I was picturing myself sitting behind a desk until I was 65 at the same job,” Jimmy said. He knew he had another skill to offer. So he googled “open mics.” And went. He Jimmy wasn’t very funny (at first), but what he found was a sense of purpose and a community of people just like him. He set himself on a journey towards a meaningful life.

Show Notes: 

Silicon Valley

How to American” by Jimmy Yang

Patriots Day

Crazy Rich Asian

Ha Ha Comedy Club


The Wire

Freaks & Geeks

Beavis & Butthead

Dr. Drew


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Mar 22, 2018
331 - Ryan Holiday: Behind the Conspiracy: A Deeper Look at THE Most Surreal Conspiracy of Modern Day

Ryan Holiday had access a surreal conspiracy. Probably THE most surreal conspiracy of modern day. And he wrote about it in his new book, “Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue” It’s a narrative nonfiction, which is new for Ryan. And that’s what makes it the best book he’s ever written. In this interview, Ryan tells us how he unraveled a conspiracy and why it was the hardest book he’s ever written. He also quotes a handful of Stoics, something I’ll always appreciate about having Ryan on the show.

Show Notes: 

Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue” by Ryan Holiday

"Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts” by Ryan Holiday

Ego Is the Enemy" by Ryan Holiday

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living“ by Ryan Holiday

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph“ by Ryan Holiday

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator“ by Ryan Holiday

Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising“ by Ryan Holiday

Also, I highly recommend Ryan’s reading list newsletter. And his daily email, which I read every day “The Daily Stoic

In the beginning, you'll hear me mention my interview with Amy Morin author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success

My interview with Peter Thiel (Ep. 43 - "What The Future Looks Like")

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Philosophy: the straw man argument vs the steel man argument

My interview with Jordan Peterson - “12 Rules for Life: A Solution to Suffering” 

Peter Thiel’s “7 questions” (he wrote about these in his book, “Zero to One,” but you can also read about them here on Medium

Eric Weinstein, President of Thiel Capital

"The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas

Uber co-founder, Travis Kalanick

"The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene

"Mastery" by Robert Greene


Peter Thiel’s speech at the Republican Convention (you can watch it on YouTube here)

Ryan Holiday’s open letter “Dear Dad, Please Don’t Vote for Trump” 

Matt Levine (Bloomberg columnist who Ryan reads)

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Mar 20, 2018
330 - Jon Ronson: Go Inside the Mind of A Psychopath

Jon Ronson writes about psychopaths. He created a test called "The Psychopath Test." And wrote about it. I had him on to learn what it means to be mad. He told me how to spot the signs (and how it starts to haunt you). He also told me stories. Lots of them. About kids trapped in mental hospitals. Secret cults planning to take over the world. His writing style is sort of humorist meets gonzo-esque journalism. He puts himself directly in the center of a conspiracy. That's where this episode will take you... into the mind of a psychopath.

Show notes:

Listen to Jon’s podcast “The Butterfly Effect” (season 1 was about the consequences of the tech takeover of the porn industry)

"The Men Who Stare At Goats" by Jon Ronson

The Men Who Stare at Goats (Movie)

"So You've Been Publicly Shamed" (one of James’ favorite books)

"The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry" by Jon Ronson

"Them: Adventures with Extremists" by Jon Ronson

Psychopathic Test (live show)

"Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries" by Jon Ronson

Justine Sacco (you can read about here in this New York Times article “How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life”

"Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutionsby Johann Hari 

R.D. Laing (the anti-psychiatrist who wrote “The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness” NOT Artie Lange the comedian)

The Bilderberg Group (the group that extremists Jon met said “run the world”)

Alex Jones, a “conspiracy broadcaster” (who you might know if you’ve seen InfoWars)

Bill Hicks (American stand-up comedian)

Jim Tucker (the journalist who helped Jon Ronson uncover more details about the Bilderberg Group), he wrote a diary about it called, “Jim Tucker's Bilderberg Diary: Reporter's 25year Battle to Shine the Light on the world Shadow Government” 

Henry Kissinger

AJ Jacobs, a good friend and bestselling author who wrote “The Year of Living Biblically” 

Broadmoor Ssylum for The Criminally Insane

Albert Dunlap (one the CEO’s Jon and I discuss as an example used in The Psychopath Test)

Okja (the popular Netflix movie written by Joon-ho Bong and Jon Ronson  (here’s the trailer on YouTube)

"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" (a TV show Jon recommends watching) 

Bari Weiss (the New York Times columnist who’s an example of someone who’s pushing back against online shaming) 

Emma Gonzalez, one of the high school student from Parkland who’s making waves in the movement to reform gun laws and one of the leaders of the March For Our Lives event 

"I Am, Unfortunately, Randy Newman" (a documentary Jon Ronson worked on) 


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Mar 19, 2018
329 - Sebastian Maniscalco: How to Create an Authentic Word of Mouth Career

Sebastian Maniscalco's one of the most successful pure road comics, meaning he doesn’t have film crews following him around. He built himself up the old way. Through word of mouth. But I wanted to know what is "real" word of mouth? Not just social media posts. Paul's created real, authentic relationships with the people he wanted to connect with. And then turned it into a $50 million career.


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Mar 15, 2018
328 - Wolfgang Puck: Knowing Your Calling is Step One. Following It is Step 2 (A Chef’s Journey)

Wolfgang Puck is a famous chef who has successfully created an empire in food. At age 14, he worked in his first restaurant. A few weeks in, he was fired. And contemplating suicide. Fast-forward, and Wolfgang became the first “celebrity chef.” He’s expanded his love of food in every single way: restaurants, cookbooks, catering (he’s catered the Oscars.) Now he also has a MasterClass available online.

“I always wanted to be in charge of my own destiny,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is what I was born to do.” I don’t fully understand destiny. So I wanted to know. How could he actually feel that? How could he know? How could anyone know?


Show Notes

Wolfgang’s MasterClass - "Build Your Cooking Techniques"

We talk about some of his restaurants including:


Rogue (this one's in LA and only serves 10 people a night) 


Eric Ripert (famous chef)

Chef (a movie starring Jon Favreau)

Le Cirque

Billy Wilder (famous director)

Ma Maison

The Wall by Pink Floyd

Serena Williams (tennis player)

Frank Gehry (architecture)


Four Seasons

Freddy Rosen who started Ticketmaster

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Mar 13, 2018
327 - Dante Nero: From Stripping to Comedy: How to Switch Careers

Dante Nero was a male stripper for 10 years. And now he’s a comedian. He was always intrigued by comedy. But before he went up on any stage, he made sure his fundamentals were impeccable. And that’s key. This is what makes Dante Nero one of the greatest comedians still going 18 years later. Listen for your guide to the basic skills every comedian should know…

Show Notes:

The Beige Phillip Show - Dante’s podcast

Movies and Shows Dante’s appeared in:


The Blacklist

Ocean’s 8

Power on Starz


Eddie Murphy’s Raw

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life” by Steve Martin

Stand Up NY


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Mar 12, 2018
326 - Tony Robbins - [Anniversary Episode]: How to Be Fulfilled: Just Start Asking Yourself These 2 Questions

Tony's latest book "Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook"

"MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom" by

Tony Robbins

"Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!" by Tony Robbins

Tony's Netflix documentary about Tony “I Am Not Your Guru” produced by my good friend Brian Koppelman


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Mar 08, 2018
325 - Godfrey: Flex Your Comedy Muscle

Godfrey’s 20 years old in comedy years. (Your age = your experience). He might’ve been born in 1969. But that doesn’t matter. He learned this from Jerry Seinfeld.

Seinfeld asked Godfrey, “How long have you been doing comedy?” At the time, his answer was 9 years. And Seinfeld said back, “That’s your age in comedy.” And it’s true for most skills. Or any pursuit. It’s not true for riding your bike because we all started young and a lot of us haven’t cared to step on a bike in 10 years. But if you’re trying to perfect a skill and become a master at something, then years dedicated = your age.

This perspective has helped me in more ways than one. And I wrote about it on my site (I write about all of my podcasts.) You can read it here,

Enjoy the show. And thanks

Show Notes: 

“Regular Black” (Godfrey’s special on ShowTime)

Seinfeld’s joke that people would rather be in the coffin then giving the eulogy

Soul Plane 


Adam Sandler

Eddie Murphy

Saturday Night Live

"On Writing" by Stephen King

Jim Gaffigan

Comedian (Jerry Seinfeld’s documentary)

George Carlin

Richard Pryor

Jackie Gleason

Johnny Carson

Jonathan Winters

Mantan Moreland

Pigmeat Markham

Slappy White

Timmie Rogers

George Burns

Gracie Allen

Laurel and Hardy

Steven Wright (Godfrey’s example for a guy who demonstrates “energy” on stage)

Tony Robbins - NLP (here’s a training video on it)

Jean Perret (famous comedy writer) - he talks about “the law of 3’s”

Godfrey’s yoga bit on “Just For Laughs”

Comedy Cellar

David Attell (Godfrey says he’s one of the funniest comedians living)

Colin Quinn

Dave Chappelle

Mitch Fatel

Mitch Hedberg


Bill Cosby (in “The Cosby Show”)

Tim Allen (“Home Improvement” “Last Man Standing”)

Ray Romano (in “Everybody Loves Raymond”)

Kevin James (in “The King of Queens”)

The Chappele Show

Kevin Hart

Dane Cook

Steve Harvey (Family Feud, The Steve Harvey Show, The Big Shots)

Black Panther (in theaters now)

Marlene Dietrich

Greta Garbo

Robert Mitchum

Clark Gable

Spencer Tracy

Katharine Hepburn

King Bach

My interview with Amanda Cerny

Zach Galifianakis (in “Between Two Ferns”)

Greg Giraldo

Patrice O'Neal

Bernie Mac

Collin Quinn


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Mar 06, 2018
324 - Cal Fussman: The Art of a Great Question

Cal Fussman is one of the greatest interviewers of all time. He’s interviewed an estimated 500 iconic people. He asks the question no one else is asking. He gains respect. And gets the best answers. Cal knows how to connect with everyone. So how did he get the superpower of connection?

Show Notes:

Read Cal’s Esquire column -What I’ve Learned

Listen to Cal’s podcast -Big Questions with Cal Fussman

The Tim Ferriss Show

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

Ep. 211 - Sara Blakely: How to Get a Billion Dollar Idea

Ep. 321 - Jim Cramer: Stocks - The Greatest Wealth Creator of All Time

The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

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Mar 05, 2018
323 - David McCandless: Visual Storytelling: Transforming Data into Stories through Infographics

David McCandless is the #1 data visualization expert. But what is that? “Data visualization?” Simply: it’s a better way to tell stories.

Show Notes: 

“Visual Miscellaneum: The Bestselling Classic, Revised and Updated: A Colorful Guide to the World's Most Consequential Trivia” by David McCandless

“Knowledge Is Beautiful: Impossible Ideas, Invisible Patterns, Hidden Connections--Visualized” David McCandless

Visit David’s website -

Watch David’s TED Talk - The Beauty of Data Visualization - which now has over 2.5 million views

These are a few of David’s infographics we talk about in the podcast (most have been updated)

One of the first infographics from 1869 by Charles Minard depicting Napoleon’s March in Russia in 1812.

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Mar 01, 2018
322 - Yuval Noah Harari [Anniversary Episode]: A Brief History of the Future

Probably the books I've recommended most in the past five years was "Sapiens" by Yuval Harari. And not only me: it's Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg's top recommendation. I’m releasing this episode because there’s so much to know about our past as humans. And our future.


Show Notes:

Read New York Times bestseller "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Noah Harari

Read "Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow" by Yuval Noah Harari


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Feb 27, 2018
321 - Jim Cramer: Stocks - The Greatest Wealth Creator of All Time

Jim Cramer is one of the most well known financial experts on the planet. I’ve known him for 16 years. We worked together. I was a writer for and he was doing “Mad Money” for CNBC. So we have history. And I wanted to check in with him. But I didn’t ask about his success or how his career is going. I wanted the hidden truth. “Are you happy?” That’s what I asked Jim Cramer. 22 years later… fame, money, success… “Are you happy?” And that’s what I found out...


Show Notes:

“Confessions of a Street Addict” by Jim Cramer

My podcast interview with Dr. Oz: The #1 Health Guru in America

“Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company” by Andrew S. Grove


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Feb 26, 2018
320 - Steve Scott: How to Make $50K a Month Writing From Your Couch

This podcast episode is action packed. It’s not philosophy. It’s action. It’s HOW to actually get to the top of Amazon’s best seller list, how to get an idea for your book, how to create daily writing habits, etc. Steve Scott has written 70+ books. And each one generates income. He makes 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars A MONTH! He’s been on the podcast before. And broke it all down. I brought him back again to give us more details. More inspiration. Because if you didn’t act then, it’s okay. You can act now.

Show Notes:

"Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less" by SJ Scott

Visit Steve’s websites:

Steve Scott’s Facebook group “Authority Self-Publishing”

Listen to my first interview with Steve Scott - Ep. 23 – How To Go From $0-$40,000 a Month Writing From Home

"Deep Work" by Cal Newport

"Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg

My interview with Charles Duhigg

pomodoro technique

"The Accountability Manifesto: How Accountability Helps You Stick to Goals" by SJ Scott (the book he wrote that flopped)

"Tools of Titans" by Tim Ferriss

"Dictate Your Book: How To Write Your Book Faster, Better, and Smarter (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #4)" by Monica Leonelle


"The Art of Witty Banter: Be Clever, Be Quick, Be Interesting" by Patrick King (Steve says he’s a great example of copy writing / description for books)


A Thousand True Fans (brilliant article and idea by Kevin Kelly) 
You can also go listen to my interviews with Kevin Kelly (he’s been on twice):

Ep. 173 - One Rule for Predicting What You Never Saw Coming…

Ep 95 – Kevin Kelly: A Thousand True Fans

"50 Shades of Grey" by E L James

Amazon Ads (Scott uses this to micro-target readers) (this is the website Scott goes to get his titles reviewed and “ripped apart” before publishing)

"Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking" by Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport

"The One Thing" by Gary Keller

Virtual Staff Finder (the site Steve used to find his virtual assistant)

"Guerrilla Publishing: Dangerously Effective Writing and Book Marketing Strategy" by Derek Murphy

"The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Writing Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income (Before 8AM)" (The Miracle Morning Book Series)

Honoree Corder, the project manager for “The Miracle Morning for Writers”


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Feb 22, 2018
319 - Cheryl Richardson: Personal Growth: How to Give Yourself a Radical Upgrade

Self-care. What does that even mean? I called the expert: Cheryl Richardson. She’s written several New York Times bestsellers and I owe her credit for helping me cultivate new thinking whenever I needed it. When I was most scared, I’d call Cheryl. And she’d say, “Your best thinking got you here, (to the worst situation of your life, to your complete bottom), so you probably need the thinking of somebody else.” She’s always been right. 


Show Notes:

Waking Up in Winter: In Search of What Really Matters at Midlife” by Cheryl Richardson

The Art of Extreme Self Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time” by Cheryl Richardson

Take Time for Your Life: A Personal Coach’s 7-Step Program for Creating the Life You Want” by Cheryl Richardson

Life Makeovers: 52 Practical & Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time” by Cheryl Richardson

Choose Yourself” by James Altucher

The Power of No” by James Altucher

Hay House Publishing - Cheryl’s first publisher

You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay

Launchpad Venture Group - where Cheryl does her angel investing

Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples” by Harville Hendrix

The Secret of the Ages” by Robert Collier


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Feb 20, 2018
318 - Paul Mecurio: Scary, But Not Impossible… Leaving the Job You Hate for the One You'd Love

Wait! Before I say “comedian.” Let me tell you who Paul Mecurio really is. He’s a transformer. A true re-inventor. He started out at as a lawyer on Wall Street. Because it was logical. And he got used to making 2, 3… 4 million dollars a year (after bonuses vested). It was hard to give it up... at first.But he still made little efforts. And those efforts add up. Overtime Paul stopped taking notes in meetings. He wrote jokes instead.

And then one day he got a chance to meet Jay Leno. And he started living a double life. If the senior partners knew what he was doing, they wouldn’t tolerate it. He’d be out. Immediately.

This was a gamble.
But it was worth it...

Show Notes:

Jay Leno

The Daily Show

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Stand up NY

Comedy Cellar

Paul Koestner - Louis CK’s cinematographer

The Hudlin brothers (Warrington Hudlin and Reginald Hudlin. Reginald wrote “Black Panther: Power,” directed “Marshall” and produced “Django Unchained.”)

Spike Lee (“25th Hour,” “He Got Game,” “Do The Right Thing,” “Malcolm X,” “She’s Gotta Have It”)

Albert Brooks (his movies include “Taxi Driver”, “Finding Nemo,” "Finding Dory,” “Twilight Zone: The Movie,” “Private Benjamin,” “A Most Violent Year,” and so many more)

Woody Allen (“Annie Hall,” “Manhattan,” “Love and Death,” “Bananas,”)

David Letterman

Robin Williams

Luna Lounge

Marc Maron

Blowin in the Wind by Bob Dylan

Monologue: What Makes America Laugh Before Bed by Jon Macks

My interview with Jon Macks: Ep. 190: Jon Macks – The Gut Decision That Lasts A Lifetime

Jimmy Brogan (Jay Leno’s main writer)

Louis CK

Pete Holmes

Gary Gulman

Steve sweeney

Don Gavin

Movie: Chuck with Liev Schreiber

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Feb 19, 2018
317 - Annie Duke: The Fastest Way to Become an Expert at Anything

For two decades Annie Duke ranked as one of the top poker players in the world. Which means she won a lot. But she couldn’t win without losing. I’ll explain.

It’s hard to learn when you win, I think. Because if you win, then you think you’re a genius, but if you lose you blame your opponent for being “lucky”. So how do you become a real master... Skip the 10,000 hour rule. There’s a hack.

And Annie figured it out. Listen now.


Show Notes:

Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts” by Annie Duke

Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell

Every Hand Revealed” by Gus Hansen

Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy” by Judd Apatow

Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph” by Ryan Holiday

Choose Yourself” by James Altucher 


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Feb 15, 2018
316 - Aaron Berg: The Fearless Comedian (How He Finds The Funny)

Aaron Berg is “the fearless comedian.” And I think that’s a compliment. How would you like if someone call you “the fearless (whatever you are).” Fill in the blank. I wanted to learn that skill. And that’s what I think you’ll learn from this interview.

 Show Notes:

American Etiquette: Failing Upwardly in a Fox News Nation” by Aaron Berg

Mr. Manners: Proper Etiquette for the Modern Degenerate” by Aaron Berg

Aaron Berg’s Albums: “Comedy Coltrane” & “Unscripted”, both available on iTunes or Amazon

Aaron’s Radio Show “In Hot Water” LIVE Tuesdays at 2pm

Stand Up NY

Gotham Comedy Club

LOL Comedy Club

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Feb 12, 2018
315 - Kevin Allocca: The Economics of Entertainment... This is What Makes Videos Go Viral

Kevin Allocca is "Head of Culture and Trends" at YouTube. He's been there for 8 years. So he knows how videos go viral. But more than that, Kevin knows the economics of entertainment. He told me how to get a message out (because no one reads books anymore. It's easier to get hits online than hits on Kindle.) So what's the first step? "You gotta start making something," he said. "Especially when you’re trying to establish what your voice is, what your perspective is... these things need to be sort of incubated in a way."


Show Notes:

Videocracy: How YouTube Is Changing the World . . . with Double Rainbows, Singing Foxes, and Other Trends We Can’t Stop Watching by Kevin Allocca

Kevin’s TED talk “Why videos go viral” 

Ylvs’s videos: “What Does the Fox Say”  and “What’s the Meaning of Stonehenge” 
David after Dentist 

Charlie bit my finger 

The making of GANGUM STYLE
The Star Wars Kid 

Chocolate Rain with Tay Zonday
My interview with Erika Ender (songwriter of Despacito, which has 4+ billion views on YouTube) 
"Lazy Sunday" by Adam Samberg (an SNL Original short) 

Bo Burnham & Amanda Sings (people who started on YouTube and then made it into career)
Ze Frank (created the video unit at BuzzFeed)
"Friday" by Rebecca Black


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Feb 08, 2018
314 - Sara Blakely [Anniversary Episode]: How to Get a Billion Dollar Idea

Sara Blakely is a self-made billionaire. She’s the founder and creator of Spanx. I interviewed her exactly a year ago. But all of her advice (learned directly from DOING) is still impacting me today. I had to re-listen. And I hope you do, too.


I wrote an article "What I Learned From Spanx Founder Sara Blakely." Sometimes I re-read it to remind myself of everything she taught me. Some people are inspirations for life. Sara is one of those people. Check out the full post and learn what I learned at


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Feb 06, 2018
313 - Dr. Oz: THE #1 Health Guru in America

This podcast is all about getting in control of your food. Food is medicine. It's fuel. Listen to Dr. Oz, leading cardiac surgeon, featured health expert, host of The Dr. Oz Show and author of 8 New York Times bestselling books, including his newest, “Food Can Fix It: The Superfood Switch to Fight Fat, Defy Aging, and Eat Your Way Healthy”.


Show Notes:

Dr Oz’s 8th NYT Bestseller: “Food Can Fix It: The Superfood Switch to Fight Fat, Defy Aging, and Eat Your Way Healthy

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari

My interview with Yuval Noah Harari

Dr. Oz's article on "The Pegan Diet"

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Feb 05, 2018
312 - Jordan B. Peterson: 12 Rules for Life: A Solution to Suffering

Jordan thinks about things, people pay attention, and he gets paid for it. His YouTube channel has tens of millions of views. He’s a clinical psychologist, professor and author of “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.”  


Show notes:
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson

Jordan's popular YouTube channel and lectures

"Tools of Titans" by Tim Ferriss

 Jordan’s interview with Joe Rogan on "The Joe Rogan Experience

Carl Panzram (the serial killer Jordan talks about)

A quote from Carl Jung: "Modern people can't see god because they won't look low enough"

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Feb 01, 2018
311 - Todd Barry: Accidental Comedian: How to Stumble Into Your Calling

“It’s weird to do something that you didn’t really plan on doing,” Todd Barry said. He’s a comedian and actor. But he wanted to be a musician. “I didn’t go on stage with the conscious goal of pursuing comedy. In my mind, I still wanted to be in a band,” he said. “And at some point, I think it was like 8 months in where, I was like, ‘I guess I guess I’m doing this.’” I wanted to know what kept him going... It was simple.  “Weirdly, I don’t think I ever said ‘I’m thinking about quitting…’ which I guess is pretty telling.”

Maybe that’s how you find your calling…

By not quitting what you don’t hate, you create skill. And skill becomes love.


Show Notes:

Read Todd's book, "Thank You for Coming to Hattiesburg: One Comedian's Tour of Not-Quite-the-Biggest Cities in the World"

Listen to Todd’s podcast interview with Judd Apatow 
This is one of my favorite jokes from Todd Barry
Watch Todd in “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” with Jerry Seinfeld 

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Jan 30, 2018
310 - Tim Larkin: Surviving the Unthinkable

We live in this society where there’s “rules of etiquette”... but there aren’t really “rules of etiquette” when someone’s trying to kill you. Sometimes violence is the answer. “This is a key mind shift people need to take for their own self protection,” Tim Larkin said. Tim’s an American self-defense expert, the founder of Target Focus Training, and author of the “New York Times” bestselling book “Surviving The Unthinkable.” And he’ll teach you how to save your own life.

Show Notes:

“When Violence Is the Answer: Learning How to Do What It Takes When Your Life Is at Stake” by Tim Larkin

“Survive the Unthinkable: A Total Guide to Women's Self-Protection” by Tim Larkin

“How to Survive the Most Critical 5 Seconds of Your Life” by Tim Larkin

“The Art of War” by Sun Tzu

“The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene

“Abnormal Psychology” By Ronald J. Comer

The 21-Foot Rule

Pancho Villa

Jason Bourne Movies

The Sopranos

A History of Violence

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Jan 29, 2018
309 - Loretta Breuning: The Science of Happiness: How to Hack Your Brain & Become A Happier Person

Happy chemicals = the key to happiness. So I interviewed Dr. Loretta Breuning, author of “Meet Your Happy Chemicals,” “The Science of Positivity,” “I, Mammal,” and “Habits of a Happy Brain.”

Show Notes: 
Meet Your Happy Chemicals” by Loretta Breuning
The Science of Positivity” by Loretta Breuning
I, Mammal: How to Make Peace With the Animal Urge for Social Power” by Loretta Breuning
Habits of a Happy Brain” by Loretta Breuning
Anxiety: What turns it on. What turns it off” by Loretta Breuning
Check out Loretta’s site, Inner Mammal Institute - designed to helps people build their power over their mammalian brain chemistry.
Also, if you like this interview, go back and listen to my first interview with Loretta Breuning

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Jan 25, 2018
308 - Erika Ender: Everybody Has Talent

Erika Ender was just nominated for “best song of the year.” She wrote "Despacito." (Which has 7billion+ views on YouTube.) I first interviewed her in October '17. And I wanted to re-release our conversation to celebrate her. She has so much wisdom and gave me so many powerful takeaways. But one of my favorites is “everybody has their own talent.” And when she says it, I believe her. 

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Jan 23, 2018
307 - Kareem Abdul Jabbar: Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court

NBA’s all-time leading scorer? Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Six-time NBA champion? Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

50 years of athleticism. THAT’S peak performance. Then he combined his career with activism, philanthropy (President Obama awarded him with “The Presidential Medal of Freedom,” the nation’s

highest civilian honor.). He’s also collaborated with HBO documentaries to create the highest rated sports documentary in history.  

I don’t know anything about sports. But I’m grateful I got to learn from Kareem. (And now you do, too).

Show Notes: 

“Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court” by Kareem Abdul Jabbar

“Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court” by Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Autobiography of Malcolm X

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Jan 22, 2018
306 - PJ O'Rourke: The Celebrity President

PJ told me some unconventional ways to vote for president. “Who would you road trip with?” A lot of people might think they’d say Trump, “but think again,” he said. I didn’t vote. But I still wanted to know how it happened… (Also, this episode is airing just days before the one year inauguration of President Donald J. Trump.)

Full show notes and links here.

Show Notes:

The National Lampoon, PJ was the Editor in Chief in the 70’s (back in John Belushi days)

“Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government” by PJ O’Rourke

“Give War a Chance” by PJ O’Rourke

“On The Wealth of Nations” by PJ O’Rourke

Ezra Pound (poet)

East Village Other (a competitor to The National Lampoon)

The Village Voice (another popular magazine back in the 70’s)

NPR’s debrief on Brexit

My interview with Ron Paul -

“The Art of The Deal” by Donald Trump

Eisenhower’s Farewell Address


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Jan 18, 2018
305 - Bill Beteet: The Pursuit… Sacrificing Everything You Know for What You Really Love

It’s weird. Normally, the people I interview on this podcast are at the end of their career. Bill is just starting. He spent years in law school. And then made up his mind (after a day of fasting) that he’s going to be a comedian. I wanted to know why… “I calculated it out,” he said. “I figured I can out work a lot of these guys. I cultivated this really huge love for stand-up and it imbued my life with meaning the more I sacrifice for it and the harder I pursued it.” I feel this podcast is filled with lessons on commitment and confidence, but mostly, on being true to your pursuit. And really choosing yourself...

Show Notes: 

“Choose Yourself” by me, James Altucher

Bill’s Quora page

Bill’s TED talk

Bill’s Show “If You Feel like Killing Yourself, Call Me”

WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Nick Ogle

"The Hidden Tools of Comedy: The Serious Business of Being Funny" by Steve Kaplan

Ari Shafer youtube talk - 4 hours long

The Lazy Philosopher (Bill’s podcast)

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Jan 16, 2018
304 - Dov Davidoff: Vulnerability is Good. (It Can Set You Apart)

It’s easy to just be an entertainer, but it’s a lot harder to be an artist. Dov Davidoff is learning this. And he taught me how he’s figuring out how to use his vulnerabilities to his advantage. To set him apart. For him, humor is a way of telling the truth (in an odd sort of way). I’ll explain. The truth can be hard to hear. Even if it means trashing your wife on stage. This is Dov’s interpretation of comedy. And here’s how your vulnerabilities can be used to your advantage...

Show Notes:

“Road Dog: Life and Reflections from the Road as a Stand-up Comic” by Dov Davidoff

The HBO Series, Crashing

The NBC Series, Shades of Blue

  • Dov plays characters on both shows!

Also Mentioned

Gotham Comedy Club

Sanford and Son

Stockholm Syndrome

The 40 Year Old Virgin

Freaks and Geeks

The George Lopez Show




The Comedy Cellar

The Village Underground

“Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging” by Sebastian Junger


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Jan 15, 2018
Ep. 303 - Jeff Goins: Real Artists Don't Starve

Jeff is the bestselling author of “Real Artists Don’t Starve.” I’ve wanted him to come on this podcast for over a year. Because he knows the secret to become a “thriving artist.”

“That’s somebody who makes money so they can make more art,” he said. The key is to combine your art with a business sense (even if it’s just the basics).

Start with your natural talents. Turn those talents into skill (through practice). Develop a business sense (more on this in the podcast) and figure out “what does ownership” look like in your space.

This is the guide to becoming a real artist. A wealthy artist. (You’ll even learn HOW to ask for money.)

Show Notes: 

“Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life” by Jeff Goins

“The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing” by Jeff Goins

“You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)” by Jeff Goins

“The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do” by Jeff Goins

“Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age” by Jeff Goins

“The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene

"Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah" by Richard Bach

"Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Complete Edition" by Richard Bach

Full show notes here 

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Jan 11, 2018
Ep. 302 - Aaron Carroll: It’s All Relative: Nutrition Myths Debunked

Aaron Carroll is a pediatrician and the author of “Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully”. I threw every argument ever made about coffee, carbs, alcohol, MSG, BACON, antioxidants, the list goes on. He’s about to dismantle the rumors. And give you your control back.

Show Notes:

Read Aaron’s book “The Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully”

Aaron writes for the New York Times, read his articles here.

“Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!” by Tony Robbins

“Giant Steps: Small Changes to Make a Big Difference” by Tony Robbins

My podcast interview with Dr. Sanjiv Chopra - Ep. 174 - The Art of Wellbeing

“The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest” by Dan Buettner

The Mediterranean Diet

“A History of the World in 6 Glasses” by Tom Standage

Brazil’s Nutritional Guidelines

The Man Who Saved a Billion Lives - Norman Borlaug who won the Nobel Peace Prize for inventing Dwarf Wheat

“Don't Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and It's All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life” by Richard Carlson


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Jan 09, 2018
Ep. 301 - Dan Harris: How to Mentally Train the Mind - Ten Minutes a Day

He had a panic attack on air. Live.  A meltdown in front of 5 million people.  Dan was struggling with PTSD, which led to drug abuse and depression. Then he found meditation.

Show Notes: 

“10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story” By Dan Harris 

“Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book” By Dan Harris

Download Dan’s App (10% Percent Happier) to Start Meditating today!

Listen to Dan’s podcast (10% Happier with Dan Harris)

Watch the ABC World News Tonight story about the inspiration for Dan Harris’ first book!

Also Mentioned:

The Ben Shapiro Show

Pod Save America

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Jan 08, 2018
[Special Edition]: I'm Celebrating 300 Episodes!

I’m celebrating my 300th episode. With a GIANT episode. I took all the best clips from years and years of podcast. And recorded some new “behind the scenes” thoughts and ideas about each clip (what I learned and why I loved this guest, how they helped me and how they can help you, too). You’ll hear advice and EXCLUSIVE stories from Mark Cuban, Tony Robbins, Arianna Huffington, Sara Blakely, Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday and the list goes on. THIS is episode 300! And I can’t thank you enough for listening.I’m celebrating my 300th episode. With a GIANT episode. I took all the best clips from years and years of podcast. And recorded some new “behind the scenes” thoughts and ideas about each clip (what I learned and why I loved this guest, how they helped me and how they can help you, too). You’ll hear advice and EXCLUSIVE stories from Mark Cuban, Tony Robbins, Arianna Huffington, Sara Blakely, Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday and the list goes on. THIS is episode 300! And I can’t thank you enough for listening.

P.S. If want to go back to hear the full episodes with these guests, click below:

Ep. 62 – Tony Robbins: Money Is Just A Game

Ep. 217 – Tony Robbins: About The Time Tony Robbins Smashed The Podcast Table (and other things I learned)

Ep. 211 - Sara Blakely: What I Learned From Spanx Founder Sara Blakely

Ep. 204 - Mike Massimino: “I’m Not Good Enough” Probably Means You Will Get Good Enough

Ep. 63 - Tucker Max: Tucker’s Surprise Announcement

Ep. 133 - Tucker Max: Mate: Become the Man Women Want

Ep. 221 - Tucker Max: The Difference Between People Who Succeed and People Who Don’t

Ep. 226 - Jon Morrow: Do You Have A Gun To Your Head?

Ep. 258 - Nancy Cartwright: Becoming Bart Simpson… How to Find the Artist Inside Yourself

Ep. 288 - Mike Van Cleave: A Conversation About Cancer & Learning How to Discard the Meaningless

Ep. 24 - Mark Cuban: Enough Said

Ep. 290 - Ray Dalio: Principles for Investing in a Meaningful Life (Tested Strategies from 1 of the World's Wealthiest Investors)

Ep. 263 - Naval Ravikant: The Largest Transfer of Wealth in Human History

Ep. 28 - Kamal Ravikant: How to Become an Angel Investor with Only $1000

Ep. 202 - Kamal Ravikant: Maybe a Pilgrimage Can Save Your Life

Ep. 227 - Garry Kasparov: Become The World’s Greatest at What You Love Most

Ep. 216 - Yuval Noah Harari: The Next Step in Our Evolution

Ep. 231 - Jim Norton: Dropout and Laugh (A Comedian’s Journey)

Ep. 180 - AJ Jacobs: Four Words That Will Give You Ultimate Freedom

Ep. 213 - AJ Jacobs: Podcasting, Then and NOW

Ep. 261 - AJ Jacobs: The Intersection Between Discomfort and Curiosity

Ep. 293 - AJ Jacobs: Why We Experiment (And Why You Should Also) 

Ep. 157 - Gary Vaynerchuk: How to Be Successful by Being Yourself

Ep. 2 - Gary Vaynerchuk: Millionaire by Age 35

Ep. 260 - Gary Vaynerchuk: Set a Flag on YOUR Thing

Ep. 22 - Tim Ferriss: Possibilities and Experimentation

Ep. 109 - Tim Ferriss: The Tim Ferriss Experiment Revealed 

Ep. 196 - Tim Ferriss: Becoming a Titan & Overcoming Your Worst Weakness

Ep. 281 - Tim Ferriss: Using a New Lens to Make Life Easier 

Ep. 150 - Daymond John: Do This When Success if Your Only Option

Ep. 210 - Daymond John: How to Create Your Own Point of View & Build a Following

Ep. 141 - Judy Blume: Stop Wondering “What is it all for?”

Ep. 13 - Arianna Huffington: The New Way To Thrive

Ep. 169 - Arianna Huffington: The Delusion We’re All Suffering From

Ep. 18 - Ryan Holiday: Turning Trials into Triumph

Ep. 108 - Ryan Holiday: Ryan Shares His Keys to Success

Ep. 171 - Ryan Holiday: The Powerful Enemy of Your Success

Ep. 222 - Ryan Holiday: The Essential Question: How To Live A Good Life

Ep. 238 - Ryan Holiday: The Art of Making and Marketing

Ep. 298 - Ryan Holiday: Competition is for Losers: Invent Your Own Category

Ep. 59 - Brian Koppelman: Brian Ruined My Life

Ep. 98 - Brian Koppelman: The Art of Super-Creativity

Ep. 193 - Brian Koppelman: How to Deliver Every Single Time

Ep. 139 - Cheryl Strayed: James’ Go-To Author

Ep. 6 - Dr. Wayne Dyer: A Test to See If You Are Ordinary

Ep. 129 - Dr. Wayne Dyer: Namaste

Ep. 273 - Sheila Nevins: The HBO Producer Who Dawned the Era of the Human Experience

Ep. 42 - Coolio: Entrepreneur’s Paradise

Ep. 35 - Biz Markie: The Best and Worst Interview You’ll Ever Hear

Ep. 159 – Derek Sivers: The Zen Master of Entrepreneurship

Ep. 45 - Nassim Taleb: Why You Should Embrace Uncertainty


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Jan 04, 2018
Ep. 299 - Paul Reiser: Find What You’re Drawn To, Even if It’s Hard

Why would anyone want to pursue a career in comedy? There are no benchmarks, no paychecks and definitely no guarantees. It’s too risky. Unless you have that pull... the one that tells you, "this is the right thing. This is what you're meant for." Paul Reiser knew. And never looked back. That’s what I want for everyone listening to this podcast. That's what I hope for you.


Show Notes:
some of Paul's work:
"Stranger Things"
"My Two Dads"
"Mad About You" (Paul was in 160 episodes!)
Paul’s first appearance on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” in 1982!
"There’s...Johnny!" (Paul wrote the Hulu Original Series)
Paul also stars in the TV Series "Red Oaks," he describes it as Caddyshack meets "The Graduate"

Read Paul’s Books:

Also Mentioned:
"2000 Year Old Man Record"


Jan 02, 2018
Ep. 298 - Ryan Holiday: Competition is For Losers: Invent Your Own Category

If I compete with you, I’m a loser. It means I’m not helping anyone in a new way. Ryan said, “Competition is for losers.” He was quoting Peter Thiel. Instead, you have to invent your own category… here’s how

Show Notes:
“Trust Me I’m Lying” by Ryan Holiday

"The Obstacle is The Way” by Ryan Holiday

“Ego is The Enemy” by Ryan Holiday

“The Perennial Seller” by Ryan Holiday

“The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday

“The Daily Stoic Journal” by Ryan Holiday

A famous writing technique created and taught by Julia Cameron called “morning pages.” You can read about it in her book “The Artist’s Way”

“Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius

A phrase from Ryan’s mentor, Robert Greene and author of “The 48 Laws of Power” (Ryan mentions “tactical hell” when everyone’s just reacting all the time)

A quote from Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and bestselling author of “Zero to One” (Ryan quotes him saying, “competition is for losers”)

Ryan’s article “Uncommon Advice To Any Young Man Wanting To Become Insanely Successful (Or Get Something From Someone Who Is Successful)”

“If You Have to Cry, Go Outside” by Kelly Cutrone


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Jan 01, 2018
Ep. 297 - Rich Roll: Surrendering Does Not Mean Failure

“If you were on the outside looking in you’d probably think, 'This guy's got a really good life.' And on paper I did, but on the inside I felt like I was dying. I was depressed. I was unenthusiastic about my life because I knew I was in a career that was ill suited to me. But I just couldn’t see my way out of it,” Rich Roll said.

He told be about the time he felt a tightness in his chest. He couldn’t walk up the stairs. He had to take a break halfway up the flight.

Rich was 39 and dying.

Rich and I talked about his story before... how he transformed himself from a depressed and overweight alcoholic to a plant based, vegan eating, mega athlete / bestselling author / podcaster / writer and total peak performer.

But THIS time we dove even deeper.

“I was trying to force this round peg into a square hole for most of my life," he said.

I wanted to understand the switch that led him to himself... He told me his secret. And I believe him.


He went to rehab. And got help for a problem he couldn't handle on his own.

That's Rich's meaning of "surrender." Getting help when you need.

But it's hard to know when it's the right time to get help. I probably need help right now. It's the first time I've felt physically sick in five years. My body is tired. And I'm trying to rest. But sometimes, I can't pull myself away from what I love.

So I talked to Rich and then my friend Ryan Holiday. And then prepped for two more interviews.

I like this interview with Rich for a lot of reasons. I'll tell you one though... It's because when he says something, it feels just confessing. He's sharing what's true for him. And helping you heal in the process. (You'll know what I mean if you start listening)

Dec 28, 2017
Ep. 296 - Linda Papadopoulos: Validation: Why It’s Dangerous…

We all have vulnerabilities. And I exposed mine to Linda because it’s a free therapy session. She’s a well-known psychologist and bestselling author born in Canada, living in the UK.

I had to ask her about all her theories. And all her books. But mostly these 2:

1. “What Men Say, What Women Hear”
2. “Unfollow: Living Life on Your Own Terms”

Because I am still outsourcing my self-worth to new measures. First, it was money. So I gave up Wall Street (for many reasons). And then it became book sales and now podcast downloads or laughs when I’m on stage doing stand up.

And so I asked Linda “why?”

Why am I sacrificing my art for identity?

“We create because it’s in,” she said. “We’re social beings and our identity is bound up in what we create. That identity needs to be confirmed by others, right? It’s an interesting thing: identity. It’s simultaneously what makes us different but it’s also what binds us with a group”

Then she told me about the evolution of acceptance.

“Years ago you’d have a much smaller group validating that. Now, you have people out there, James, that don’t have a vested interest in you feeling good about yourself. Actually, there are people out there that would find it interesting if you didn’t. And you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Is the source not important?’”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s like a big bathroom door,” she said. All the comments on message boards or Facebook or Twitter…

Think about this. You go to a public bathroom. And the door is covered in ink. Is any of it positive? Or even worth reading?

That’s social media. (According to Linda.)

She said, “Look at who’s giving you that validation and explore if it’s quality or quantity. And, maybe that’s that’s what we’ve sold our souls for... quantity.”

Then she gave me tips. Really useful tips that I started practicing as soon as the podcast ended (like taking note of when I’m on social media, and how my mood is, and how much power someone else has). And then I asked her about women.

She broke down all the reasons people get divorced. And the most common misunderstandings. And how to get rid of them for good.

Because fighting hurts. It comes back to what Linda said about vulnerabilities. We all have them. And they’re impossible to forget. It’s like they put a mark on you. And follow you from place to place. Never letting you forget…

(Linda gave me advice for that too.) “The vulnerabilities are there,” she said, “but the assets are the people that tell you it’s okay to have them…”

Dec 26, 2017
Ep. 295 - Jon Alpert: Behind the Camera: How to Be the Catalyst for Social Change

“This guy tried to kill me. He had a gun to my head,” Jon said.  “We were leaving the country.  We got intercepted.”



I was interviewing Jon Alpert.  He was trying to smuggle controversial footage out of Iraq.

“I was basically a complete failure up until the moment that I started making films,” Jon said.

He was constantly trying to make his community a better place, but his attempts were always unsuccessful.

“I want to make this country better. And I’m not a good soldier. And I’m not a politician. So I can’t go represent in Congress, but I can be a good reporter,” he said.

He took two passions (camera and country) and combined the two to become creative in the intersection.

His documentaries show aspects of social change that I’ve never seen anywhere else. There’s this undercurrent of a larger problem... an issue or a cause that people are fighting for. I feel like, in talking to Jon, that I want to be fighting for something too. Jon had a core. A direction. And a destination. All in one.

“The camera is a license for me to go up to you and to invade every single part of your life,” he said. “The camera is a license to invade people’s personal space.”

“And I’m doing it because I love my country and that’s how I believe I can be the best patriot.”

He told me about his newest documentary, “Cuba and the Cameraman.” 45 years! It took him 45 years to make this.

It’s his life work.

He went through a thousand hours of footage. Editing took a year. And what resulted (what we finally get to see) is one of the greatest films about the Cuban Revolution. Ever.

And this podcast is the story behind those stories. We hear about the leaders. The criminals. And what was inside their refrigerator.

These are the war stories you don’t hear. This is the filmmaker's journey.

Dec 25, 2017
Ep. 294 - Jackie Martling: The Joke Man... I Talk with Howard Stern's Former Lead Writer

I started to get really itchy. Inside my head.

I didn’t know how to scratch it. So I avoided it. Until I broke out into hives and finally forced myself on stage.

I think it started when I interviewed Gary Gulman, one of the greatest comedians ever. It was over two years ago. And even though he was deeply depressed, I was jealous.

Because he was living my dreams. He was scratching my itch.

So I started to interview more comedians. And writers of comedy. I had so many questions. I interviewed Jim Norton, Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson!) Fred Stoller, Chris Smith (who worked with Jon Stewart), Paul Shaffer (the famous band leader on Jay Leno), Bonnie McFarlane. The list keeps growing.

And there are so many branches of comedy:

Stand up, voice overs, writers, monologue performers, sidekicks. And each branch has its own microskills.

That’s true for every skill. They all require you to learn hundreds of micro-skills.

So getting started can be scary. Very scary. Some people die with itches unscratched.

When I want to get better at something, I go underneath the skill. I imagine a small version of myself looking up at my dreams. If I can see how far away I am from greatness, I feel the desire to get there. That’s what this podcast is about. Picking apart greatness.

Jackie Martling came to the studio. He was the lead writer at “The Howard Stern Show” for 18 years and now he’s the author of “The Joke Man Bow to Stern.”

I don’t know anyone who’s looked at their crappy job and said “I’m going to do this for 18 years.”

So I wanted to hear him talk about what it’s like to love what you’re doing with your life. To feel good and dedicated.

That’s where I hope to find us help. (I say “us” because I’m still itchy). I still want to be a standup comedian. Not just “do” standup. Doing and loving leads to being.

I’m still at “doing.” Because love comes from having a deep relationship with the skill.

Jackie loves what he does.

So I’ll keep scratching.

Dec 21, 2017
Ep. 293 - AJ Jacobs: Why We Experiment (And Why You Should Also)

I like the idea of experimenting for two reasons. A) widen comfort zone B) become a better person.

I’ll tell you about A first then B.

But first, let me reintroduce my good friend AJ. If you listen to this podcast then you already know who AJ is. But just in case, AJ Jacob’s is a professional at experimenting. All his books are experiments. Four are bestsellers.

He told me about one he did with the comedian Jim Gaffigan. They looked up the oldest jokes in the world. From hundreds of years ago. And told them to live audiences today. Sometimes Jim bombed, some jokes he skipped (because a lot of jokes were about lettuce… lettuce used to be thought as an aphrodisiac), but others worked.

And he didn’t know what to expect.  

That’s A) widening your comfort zone.

So for this podcast, AJ and I came up with ideas to experiment with. And we want you to join us. You’ll hear what we’re testing right now. And what’s next. 

I found that if I do a new experiment a day or week, it becomes a micro step to creating a healthy life. For example, I told AJ that I try very heard not to say anything bad about anybody. And it’s hard because things come up throughout the day. But ultimately it makes me feel happier to not gossip. And I’ve been doing this now for about seven years. AJ tried it too. “It was fascinating,” he said, “because I realized 70% of my speech was trash talking and it made such a difference in my life when I cut that out because it made me more positive and happier.”

And it’s true. Because we all know that eating trash makes you feel like trash. And it’s true for your brain too. 

These are the nuances hidden in experimenting. You have a secret with yourself. A promise to uphold. And you live up to some unknown potential sometimes.

That’s B.

Dec 19, 2017
Ep. 292 - Tiffany Haddish: Stop Telling Yourself You're Not Good Enough

Got to interview one of my favorite comedians for the podcast, Tiffany Haddish, star of “Girls Trip,” her recent comedy special. "She Ready", and 20 years a stand up.

I asked her what was the biggest change in her first few years of doing standup. (She's been doing it over 20 years).

She said, "I learned to change the fear into fun".

I think all of the above is great advice to achieve success in everything worth doing.

I had a gift for Tiffany.

It was a suitcase. I gave her a suitcase for the kids.

Let me explain. Because a suitcase is an odd kind of gift.

Tiffany was placed in foster care when she was 12 years old and stayed in the system until she was a legal adult. When she moved from home to home she didn’t have a suitcase or any kind of bag to put her clothes. They make the kids put all their belongings in trash bags. And it made her feel like garbage.

“You’re garbage,” she said. “Garbage moved around from house to house.”

“When I was 13, I said to myself if I ever get any sort of power, any sort of influence at all, I’m gonna figure out a way to make sure no kid feels like a piece of trash.”

And she’s succeeding (and you can help).

So she’s been collecting suitcases for kids through the Felix Organization. If you’re reading this and want to donate a suitcase, look up the Felix Organization.

I wanted to know how she rose up from foster kid to superstar comedian. And the first black female to host Saturday Night Live.

“I try to manifest what it is I want to be,” she said. And she told me her self talk…

“You got divine order all over you,” she said. “Everything is happening in the order and the way it’s supposed to happen.You got this girl. Pull that energy from your uterus. You got it that’s where your soul at. Pull it up from your soul. You got this girl.”

I couldn’t stop laughing.

She said she tried to find the joy and the fun in everything she’s ever gone through.

Here’s a quote from her new book, "The Last Black Unicorn":

"In stand-up, you do need to be having fun up there like Richard Pryor said, but you have to know yourself well, too...You start learning and it's like playing a piano. You know exactly what keys to stroke, 'cause really with comedy, you're like fiddling with people's souls. You resonate on the same frequency as them, trying to greet them to relate…”

“To do that, you gotta put yourself out there. And in order to put yourself out there, you've gotta have an idea who you are.”

Make sure to read the full show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Dec 18, 2017
Ep. 291 - Stephen Tobolowsky: Write Your Own Story Because We're All Living On Borrowed Time

If you’re reading this, you probably don’t know the name Stephen Tobolowsky.

But I’ll give you some hints.

Ned Ryerson. (From “Groundhog Day”)

Jack Barker. (From “Silicon Valley”)

Sound familiar? Stephen Tobolowsky is one of the main characters and actors in one of my favorite TV Shows, Silicon Valley. He also plays the MOST annoying character in Groundhog Day. He’s been in 200 movies and a thousand other things including Seinfeld, Thelma & Louise, Heroes and the list goes on.

But he did something weird.

He wrote a book.

And when I read it I thought, “who the hell is this guy?”

There are only two ways someone could write this book…” My Adventures with God”.

ONE: If they were incredibly broken as a human being somewhere in their lives and then they climbed back out of that hole by thinking all these intense and philosophical thoughts.

TWO: They were just born this way...

I still haven’t figured out which one.

I have to admit I didn’t understand parts of Stephen’s book. And not because it was bad, (I loved it), but because I had to stop and think. His thoughts are so valuable and I really wanted to know what they meant. I was pretty happy he was able to come on my podcast.

He taught me that we’re all writing and choosing our narratives to some extent...

“Well I think on a personal level, we all end up developing narratives,” Stephen said, “Either it's instinct or sometimes it’s choice. I think we live in the dark so much of the time that we need metaphors to find our way. And I believe having a philosophy is only useful if it helps you see in the dark.”

So I asked him how do we begin to take control of our own narratives?

Because we to some extent, I can’t just surrender to the narratives that has  been  given to me.

That takes away my freedom and ability to reinvent.

Stephen told me this, “We’re all living on borrowed time.”

This podcast shows you a window into a man’s desire to connect with the deeper meaning on time and what it means to be alive.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Dec 14, 2017
Ep. 290 - Ray Dalio: Principles for Investing in a Meaningful Life (Tested Strategies from 1 of The World's Wealthiest Investors)

I wish I could take everything Ray Dalio said and turn it into a book. But he already did that. It’s called, “Principles: Life and Work.”

And I’m going to be re-reading it for the rest of my life.

He defines principles as “ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life.”

And he’s revealing how he used these principles to build BridgeWater Associates, (which manages $150 BILLION in assets. Globally.)

He told me story after story. How he went broke. How he started over. How he built a community within the walls of business. How he wrote his book. Love his family, teaches his students, learns from life…

“I think you're faced with choices. Those are the times that test your values…”

“Being successful is hard,” he said. “But it’s a lot harder to live a life you don’t want.”

Then he said, “habit is the main controller of all of us.”

And (for me) it all came down to one formula:

He said, “Dreams + reality + determination = a successful life.”


Show Notes:

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

Ray founded Bridgewater Associates, LP, a hedge fund that manages $150 billion in global investments.

Listen to Ray’s TED Talk


“The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell

“The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg
(And you can listen to my interview with Charles - Ep. 161 – Charles Duhigg: Be Smarter, Faster, Better… And Most of All Be Free 

Also check out this video from Ray if you want to learn more about economics.


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Dec 12, 2017
Ep. 289 - Amy Morin: The Easiest Side Hustle You Can Start Right Now

You may remember Amy, she came on my podcast a few weeks ago. We discussed her book, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.”

I asked her why is it a book about what people DON’T do instead of SHOULD do. It seemed counterintuitive to me.

But her reasoning made sense. The book wasn’t written for other people. It was actually just a letter to herself at first. And then she put it online. And it became viral… that led to a book deal.

The podcast was really popular. But I feel like you didn’t get the full story…

Amy’s not just an author, therapist, social worker/mentally strong person. She’s also an entrepreneur.

She was making money in her sleep...

“I’ve always had some sort of a side hustle usually something fun or strange,” she said.

I knew immediately I needed to have her back on the show. I wanted her to  share this with my listeners. Because these are “choose yourself” ideas. Simple, easy to execute, and anyone can do it.  

“I had a friend who had a jewelry store,” Amy said, “so I knew the markup on jewelry was incredible, like 200 hundred or 300 hundred percent.”

And she knew jewelry was fairly inexpensive to ship because it didn’t weigh anything. Over the years she and her husband thought about how they could turn this into something they could monetize. And finally they did it.

I asked so many questions about how she pulled the trigger. And got the courage. I wanted to know how she made this business work. I also gave her ideas about how she could scale.

I really believe this: anyone who listens to this podcast can start doing their own side hustle right now.

“Over time it went from a few dollars to a few hundred and then before I knew it we were up to a few $1,000  dollars a month.”

You could quit your job I told her.

“That was the dream,” she said.

You can read my show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Dec 11, 2017
Ep. 288 - Mike Van Cleave: A Conversation About Cancer & Learning How to Discard the Meaningless

I got a call from my friend Mike Van Cleave a year ago. He told me had cancer. We hadn’t spoken for years.

“It’s like mold in your refrigerator,” he said. “All of a sudden you’re like, ‘What the hell happened? It’s only been a week.”  

You never know who’s going to call you out of the blue someday with cancer. It’s scary, but luckily we don’t live with these thoughts in our minds. We only think of ourselves. “Will I get cancer?” And that’s important. These selfish thoughts keep us alive.

I’ve always admired my friend Mike. I felt honored to have him on this podcast. He told me the science of his cancer (thyroid cancer) and the ways he’s surviving every day.

I’ll take emotional pain over physical any day. So my bones can keep typing.

“Do you have pain in your bones?” I asked him.

He did. And it went away. “I have no bone pain right now. So there’s a very good chance that all the bone metastasis is working,” he said.

That takes away 80% of the “badness”. He spoke casually. And sometimes I laughed inappropriately.

I guess I was scared.

In 18 months, his medicine will stop working. The cancer will keep growing again. And he’ll be on a new drug.

He told me about the success rate of his next drug (only 50% of people are helped and it only helps for 6 months).

“What’s the best case scenario?” I asked.

I cried afterwards. Not in front on him.

Not there…

But later, when I was alone with my fear, I cried for hope. He’s down to his second to last drug. The second to last hope.

Unless they create a new medicine…

“We’re look at a maximum of three years,” I said… “What happens next?”

“Honestly, really bad things happen,” he said.

Then he told me, “All of a sudden there was meaning... The desire to connect with meaning overwhelmed the time I had for the meaningless. In some ways, you can’t understand it. And the one thing I’ve come to understand completely is there’s only one thing in your life that matters and that’s the quality of your relationships. It’s such a cliche. You can look back at thousands of quotes from people who are old and dying and they always talk about the people in their lives. Nobody cares how much money you have when you die.”

I stayed silent. I wanted to catch all his words. And learn from them.

“Most of the things we sit around worrying about, you realize, at this stage, has no meaning. Now, it’s important. Maybe. Ya know, it’s important that I have a job, but the job itself only has the importance that you place in it.”

I hope this podcast is a special moment for you like it was for me. I took it as a chance to step back from my life. And the problems I think about over and over again.

This interview allowed me to care for a friend. And I hope it lets you care for a stranger. That’s something I want to do a little bit more each day. Until the day is full with selfless thoughts between selfish thoughts.

Maybe that’s part of the medicine.

Make sure to read the full show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Dec 07, 2017
Ep. 287 - Scott Galloway: How the Four Most Influential Companies on the Planet Took Over the Market and Changed Humankind

I don’t know where to begin. I’m a fan of Scott. I think he reminds me of someone I went to highschool with. He was bright and always cursing at the right time. I remember laughing. Because I felt close to being free. But he was the one with the ability to put himself in the middle of controversy.

That’s something I (still) can’t do.

He’d say eff this or eff that. Part of me felt compelled to egg him on. But he didn’t need it. He was comfortable being cynical and right.

Scott Galloway does this with business. I watch his weekly  “Winners & Losers” videos where he tells you things like “Brands are dying” and “Amazon will be broken up” Then he’ll dress up like Spock and I’ll lose my mind.

I get these videos emailed to my phone. And I’m also subscribed to his YouTube channel.

He came on my podcast to talk about his new book, “The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.”

But we also talked about his past: creating and selling companies. Being on the board of The New York Times, wanting to salvage the newspaper industry (his idea back then was brilliant).

“I got laughed out of the room,” he said.

“What was your idea?”

“That the stupidest thing we did is buy into this bullshit lie that ‘information wants to be free.’”
He’s right. I remember the beginning on the internet. We gave information  away… And now they’re profiting off us. Scott called it “the hot girl effect”

“Everybody wants to hang out with the hot girl,” he said. “So, to say you’re doing a deal with Google made you feel younger and more interesting.”

They said “information wants to free.” So deals were made.

He told me exactly how he would’ve turned it around. And I felt like I was listening to the possibility of new reality.

That’s what Scott Galloway brings to the table. Beyond strategy or analysis. Beyond brilliance, he brings possibility. And teaches you that it’s not over.

“The Four” are winning.

But I told Scott nobody really cares. Nobody cares which one of these companies “wins.”

I’m interested in is learning how to win too. I want to know HOW Amazon, Apple, Facebook & Google became influential. And disruptive. So I can be influential and disruptive, too.

Scott said all Fortune 500 CEO’s have one thing in common... or at least “450 of them have one thing in common.”

They’re likable.

“Even the ones that are psychopaths?” I said.


He explained: ”During the day these people are Darwin and Darth Vader, make no mistake about it. They play full body contact business and they make very brutal decisions. They dominate markets. They put companies out of business. And they don’t put warning labels on your iPad even though your kid has a crack-like addiction to the thing.”

He called them “wolves in sheeps clothing.”

Zuckerberg, Jobs, Bezos, Page, Brin.

But then he told me the principles they standby...

There’s five in total.

And we go through them all on this podcast. 

You can read my show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Dec 05, 2017
Ep. 286 - Dennis Woodside: How Do You Know When Something is The Next Big Thing (Advice from Dropbox’s COO)

Dennis Woodside left Google, for DropBox. Everyone thought he was crazy.

DropBox was this little tiny company.

What was he thinking?

“So you ask why I would go from Google to Dropbox. Just play the movie forward. Where’s it going to be in ten years? It’s logical to me that the company that pioneered this notion of putting your files in the cloud is going to have all kind of opportunities and going to solve problems for everybody in the world. A lot of people don’t think that way. They think very linearly. That’s how we’re taught as kids. That’s how you’re taught in college.

(And that’s how Dennis was taught to think in law school. But he got out of that rut. More on that later…)

“You have to rewire your brain a bit,” he said.

You have to ask yourself, “What trends do I understand to be true?”

And “If I extrapolate that trend to its logical conclusion, what does the world look like?”

That’s what Dennis did. And that’s how he found Google. And later, Dropbox.

He said Google was tiny when he first joined.

“What year?”


There were only a thousand employees.

“When I joined Google everybody thought I was crazy because it was a little tiny company,” he said, “but I felt one of the most exciting things you can do with a career in Silicon Valley is to help grow a company. And be there early... There’s a lot of uncertainty. And competition is really hard. You have to figure everything out. That’s the hardest part, but the most rewarding.”

Dennis is now the COO of DropBox. How did he go from lost lawyer to a leader in Silicon Valley?

I wanted to know.

“Ultimately, I realized I wasn’t going to be a great lawyer,” Dennis said.

This is where his career path changed from one end of the spectrum to the other. He reinvented. He learned a whole new set of skills. And he adapted to an ever changing digital world.

Most people are thinking about the next ten days, Dennis is thinking about the next ten years.

He saw DropBox as a pioneer. And is vision paid off. DropBox is one of the fastest growing companies maybe ever. And there are billions of people who are signing up every month.

I wanted to learn how to cultivate that same skill. The one that lets you have a vision. And believe in it.

Make sure to read the full show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Dec 04, 2017
Ep. 285 - Ellen Fein & Sherrie Schneider: How to Get the Relationship You Deserve... Advice from "The Rules" Authors

I sat down with two women the other day. And I can't decide whether they’ve completely ruined my life or helped me. I decided they were going to help me decide before this podcast was over. Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider are the authors of the classic book, “The Rules”.

I know this book inside and out. Every woman I ever dated back in the 90's and early 00's read "The Rules" AND were following them. I felt like I was talking to them on behalf of every single person I’ve ever dated. (And every man who’s ever been frustrated by a woman they’ve dated.)

"The Rules" tell women how to date and WHO to date. But more than that, it teaches you to have self respect. How to bring the center of gravity back to yourself. And stop outsourcing your self-esteem to some other human or some idea of being with that human.

I've been married twice. I told Ellen and Sherrie about both of my marriages, but I kept something things private, too. I told them I'm going to give their books to my daughters. I want them to read it.

"But I don't know if I want my future girlfriend to read it," I said.

Maybe that's because I'm a little lost. And I want her (whoever she is) to be a little lost with me.

Make sure to read the full show notes here: 

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 30, 2017
Ep. 284 - Frank Shamrock: The Making of a Legend: How a Criminal Became a Champion

I asked Frank Shamrock, a living legend MMA fighter, “How many titles have you won?”

“I think I won them all.”

He calls himself a “super athlete.” So I told him he lacks humility... And we laughed.

But he’s right. He IS a super athlete. He evolved the art form. And went one level deeper than any opponent. He didn’t just say “how do I crush this person?” He said “How is the body working? What is this machine? How can I use it optimize my performance?”

“I was studying the biomechanics,” Frank said. “And how to maximize it… everyone else studied technical fighting.”

But he wasn’t always a fighter. He found the sport in jail.

He was 11. He left home and learned “crime was a tool to change your situation and protect you,” Frank said.

His parents were abusing him. “I was an emotional basket case,” he said. “I couldn’t hold anything together for more than a few days, no sport, no activities I would just fall apart.”

He escaped through crime. “ I actually threw rocks at a train and in California, that’s a felony. I went and did ten days in juvenile hall.”

It was his first time away from his “family.” His abusers…

He was hanging out with all the other kids in juvie. So he started to ask questions. “How do you deal with x, y and z.” He listed out all the abuse. They looked at him shocked and confused. And asked him repeatedly, “What are you talking about?”

“You don’t get locked in the closet till they get home?”  he asked. They couldn’t believe what they were hearing.  

That’s when this small 11-year-old realized he had to get out.

“When things didn’t work out, I knew what to do: commit a crime, go back to juvenile hall, see my friends…”

The cycle didn’t stop.

He turned 17. Committed another crime and went to prison for 3 and a half years. “Because I was married and an emancipated minor, anything that I did illegally was charged as an adult.”

THIS was Frank’s wake up call. It all fell on him. He had ruined his life. He had 20 felonies, no education, and a baby to support.

“I know what the bottom is like,” he said. “I know what it’s like to have zero. You can always build up. But it starts by changing your mind and taking action.”  

This is a story about the making of a legend.

It’s the story of a criminal turned champion. I want to take these lessons and apply them to my own life.

I realized I don’t have to fight, but I can at least live with the mindset of a fighter.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 28, 2017
Ep. 283 - Anthony Ervin: Overcoming Your Battles: How an Olympic Swimmer Transformed Tourette's Syndrome into Winning Gold

Anthony holds a lot of weird records. But the most interesting to me is the record for the biggest span between winning golds. SIXTEEN YEARS.   

But first, let’s start from the beginning.

Anthony Ervin always had a gift for swimming. He had the talent. He had the coaching. And he had the success from an early age. But there was something else looming. Tourette’s.

I asked him how it happened. “What was the first things you noticed about yourself when you developed Tourette’s?”

“It was debilitating,” he said. “I felt a lot of nervous energy running through the body and that energy needs to find an exit.”

It escaped through his eyes, his jaw, his neck.

“It took a long time cause originally you want to fight this. You want to imprison this energy just to make it stop. But my eventual tactic for it was to take that energy and move it through my entire body. Specifically to move it into my swimming,” Anthony said.  

He used it as a weapon.

He turned a negative into a positive. And it ultimately led to success in swimming.

He first went to the Olympics when he was only nineteen. He won gold. But he wasn’t ready for the mantel of responsibility that came with winning.  

“I quickly fell off the mountain,” Anthony said.   

He battled with depression and addiction. He dropped out of college. He stopped competing. He self-medicated. And he kept this secret inside. He forgot all about his athletic success.  

I really wanted to understand why.

What is the catalyst for a comeback?

In this podcast, Anthony Ervin, 3 time Olympic gold medalist reveals how he did it…  

Make sure to read the full show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 27, 2017
Ep. 282 - Tyler Cowen: What the Future Holds: Stagnation or Innovation?

We’ve become too comfortable. We’re innovating less and watching Netflix more.

When I think of a “complacent class,” (a group of people who don’t care to move forward or move at all), I think of this: Americans soaking high wages off the backs of more aggressive global economies. I picture us eating delivered food, never moving, only using the remote. And having drones deliver everything we need.

I had to ask Tyler Cowen about this. He’s a personal computer that’s going to answer all my economic questions.

He knows all about the “complacent class.” Because he wrote the book on it.

It’s called, “The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream”.

“Look at it this way,” he said. “We’ve had these incredible advances in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We take fossil fuels and powerful machines and combine them to do everything you can imagine (cars, airplanes, electricity, radios, televisions). We’ve had incredible booms spread to the middle class. Spread to the poor. We’ve done that. Now we’re waiting for the next wave of big things.”

I have an idea of what the next big wave could be… I’ve written about it before. And I’ve interviewed the experts. But I wanted to know, will we be successful?

“We’re kind of running a race,” Tyler said. “Will the next wave of innovations and productivity come before our debts do us in? Right now to me, it’s looking like the answers no.”

What Tyler said next scared me.

“America is losing its dynamism.”

But Tyler makes two distinctions here. The future is built on A) Innovation and B) PRODUCTIVITY. It’s the persistence to do.

I still feel we’re trying to hit the frontier. We’re exploring space. Improving biotech. Creating countless innovations.

But is this progress coming from is only the 1%? Are the rest of us just sitting around? Waiting for the benefits?

I wanted to hear the worst case scenario. I don’t know why. Maybe sometimes fear pulls me in. It’s like following a narrow path of light in a dark cave. I'm not interested in the dark. I'm following the light.

But what he said next is a scary thought to consider…

“The worst case scenario is that America’s allies realize we cannot make good on all of our commitments. So they start fighting more amongst themselves. Trusting us less. Maybe building their own nuclear weapons. The fiscal position of the United States government becomes more and more cramped. We stop being credible. The quality of our governance continues to decline. And, both internationally and at home, we have a mess with warfare and partial collapse of international order. And here we have a return of something like the 1970s with high unemployment, high inflation and stagflation,” Tyler says.

So then what is our future? What can we depend on?

In this podcast, I ask Tyler and he shows me how we can create a dynamic future… How we can keep reaching for the frontier.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 23, 2017
Ep. 281 - Tim Ferriss: Using a New Lens To Make Life Easier

Tim’s doing a new experiment.

(I’m not surprised.)

He’s looking at people and asking himself one question...

“What happened to this person?"

He said, “Normal people are just folks you don’t know well enough yet, right? Nobody's normal. We’re so full of stuff and trauma and nonsense and silly beliefs. Everyone’s a work in progress and since you’re a work in progress, it’s very hard to know yourself.”

He gave me an example. But didn’t name names.

“There was this woman who had some very peculiar emotions. It turned out that she had watched her father beat her mother into unconsciousness on multiple occasions… knocked out, unconscious, on the floor. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.”

She’s acting in response to her past. Not her present. I think that’s what Tim means when he said, “we're cause and effect collection machines.”

And that’s really where advice comes from… the intersection between cause, effect, and hindsight.

I feel Tim’s really mastered this new intersection. He’s embracing being “a work in progress.”

That’s what makes his new book so relatable.

It’s called “Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World.”

He reached out to Matt Ridley, Stephen Pressfield, Dustin Moskovitz, Naval Ravikant, Patton Oswalt, Susan Cain, Ben Stiller, Annie Duke… the list goes on and on.

(But don’t worry! I’m in the next book, “Tribe of ALMOST Mentors”).

Each person in the book dissects their success. They slice it open, dig through the guts and give you the heart.

They show you HOW they became a peak performer. And the best part is it’s all through Tim’s lens.

Make sure to read the full show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 21, 2017
Ep. 280 - Chuck Klosterman: From Yesterday to Today: Comparing How We Interact with Culture

I can’t just call Chuck a writer. He’s arguably one of the most successful pop culture critics.

“Oh sure,” he said. “And I have a big advantage. Most critics want to be the first to write about something, I get to be the last person. And that puts me in a very good position.”

“Why?” I asked.

“I’m not just reacting to something,” he said. “I’m looking at all the other reactions.”

He’s interpreting our interpretations. And defining the 21st century.  

They say Deja Vu shows us when we’re having the right experience at the right time.

The other kind of “repeat experience” is monotony. The same “day-in and day out.” I think humans have a desire to look for newness.

If you look down at your feet but forget to look at the sky and see a new day, is it a new day?

The way to achieve newness is through interpretation.

No song sounds the same to any two people. No business opportunity or investment looks as golden to two people. We see the world through ourselves.

Chuck Klosterman analyzes Pop culture. He's the author of "Fargo Rock City," "Sex Drugs and Coco Puffs,"Kill Yourself to Live (85% of a True Story).

(I love that “85% of a True Story”.)

Last time he came on my podcast, we talked about his book "What If We're Wrong." And now we’re talking about his latest book is "X.


He told me about the age of Led Zeppelin… when artists performed for themselves. People always asked, "What's this lyric or that lyric mean?"

And the artists would say, “You decide.


But now we live in a 24/7 awake world. 

People don't want other people to have control over “their” creation. “The artists now have a desire for people to understand what they did," Chuck said.

I wanted to understand why...

And what I found out is that interpretation is a form of control. Or a form of freedom (depending on how you use it.)

In this podcast, Chuck teaches you how to become an observer from the inside… how to change your view of yourself, your life, of the world.

I think this podcast is about choosing to look each day the way you’d want yourself to... and then taking action that matches the rhythm of your heart. That’s how I make meaning out of anything and everything.

This is what Chuck did. He’s created a micro category. He dives deep into every aspect of a niche category (pop culture.) And if you study how he thinks, you'll learn something very important.

No one else thinks like him. And no one else thinks like you.

The world changes because our thoughts change. Anytime I’ve been in the gutter, I told myself, “the world changes if my thoughts change.”

Maybe nothing happens, except for the exchange of an old mindset for a new.

You can read my show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 20, 2017
Ep. 279 - Elizabeth Smart: How She Endured Tragedy, Survived and Created Her New Normal

I was really nervous for this podcast.

Elizabeth Smart has been through so much trauma. And I’m sure everyone says that to her. Was she sick of hearing that after all these years?

I wanted to learn how she survived. The kidnapper came through her window, held a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her. He said it was religion... God, that made him do it. But she saw through them and their evil.

Elizabeth said, "From a very early age, my parents said, 'You'll know a person by their actions. If they're a good person, they'll be doing good things. If they're a bad person, they'll be doing bad things.' So despite the fact that my captors constantly said, 'God has commanded us to do this. We don't want to do this, but we have to,' it was always pretty easy for me to separate what they said from actual faith because they were hurting me." 

I asked her about escape... and how she rebuilt her life back. She was just fourteen when she was kidnapped.

Now she's an advocate. She started by going to Washington with her dad. They spoke to congressmen about the "Amber Alert"  we all get on our phones when someone is kidnapped. Now she has a two-part movie series on A&E called "Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography" and a new movie coming out on Lifetime called "I Am Elizabeth Smart." These movies help us discuss a terrible issue. 

1 in every 4 women are sexually abused. And one in six men are sexually abused, too. "I can talk statistics," she said. "But for me, personally, those numbers did not sink in until I started meeting them and they started coming forward and saying, 'Elizabeth, I've never told anyone this before, but when I was your age..."

I think that's what struck me the most about Elizabeth. Everyday she focused on the tiniest things to be grateful for. Even in the worst moments she never forgot that gratitude is often the key to meaning.  

This podcast is not about the horrific details of Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping. It’s about the endurance of a survivor.

This is her story.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 16, 2017
Ep. 278 - Floyd Landis: The Consequence of Exposing a Legend: Learning How to Take Your Life Back & Overcome Rejection

Floyd exposed Armstrong. He exposed the whole US cycling team for doping.

In 2006, he won the Tour de France. He made it to the heights of the profession.

And then he blew the whistle.

“People see it as exercise, a healthy, endurance sport. It’s not that at all,” he said. “It’s war, and your body is a machine.”

I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to be the whistle blower. I think I’d just quit the sport to avoid controversy.

“Aren’t you afraid of letting down children?” I asked him?

“At this point there’s enough information out there that if you’re able to read and you can think, you can see what’s happening. It’s obvious… what’s happening in profession sports.”

He told me every detail. How he was bullied for being honest. Sent hate mail. He was depressed and turned to drugs. So how did he turn himself around? This is that story…

The consequences of exposing a legend… overcoming rejection, and finally learning how to take your life back one and for all.

You can read my show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 14, 2017
Ep. 277 - Griffin Dunne: Never Doubt, Just Do: How to Follow Your Gut

I wish they’d send Joan to space.

She's a real writer... who wrote about true things. I want her to describe the feeling and the wonderment of what life would be like. But they don't send writers to space.

Only scientists (for now). Joan Didion pioneered a new genre in writing: "creative nonfiction." Before her, storytelling and nonfiction never touched. They were separate.

She's one of my all time favorite writers. And I spoke to her nephew, Griffin Dunne, a filmmaker, director, producer, actor...

And now, he's a documentarian. “Every family has it’s tragedy," I said. "But not everybody dives into that tragedy decades later to re-explore it."

The documentary is about his aunt Joan Didion. "Was it painful for you to go through every piece of tragedy in your life?” I asked.

You don't usually see directors or documentary makers making a movie about somebody so personally close to them.

“I think she knows that I love the people that we lost," Griffin said. "We’re the last two standing in the family. I think when she looks at me she sees someone who loved her husband and her daughter. And when I look at her, I see someone who adored my mother and adored my father. We grew up together. ”

Her story's never been told. "Why'd she let you do it?" I said

"I can only sort of guess what the reasons are," he said. Sometimes mysteries stay mysteries, but also become art.

This is why Griffin was able to make the documentary. And make it beautiful, creative, and inspiring. He titled it, “The Center Will Not Hold”.

This podcast is about so many things. Joan Didion’s writing. Griffin Dunne’s career. But most of all, I think he taught me about instinct. He told me about his daughter. She wants to be an actor (my daughter does too). He discouraged her a little bit. Encouraged her, but also told her about all the heart ache.

But Joan told her, “Do what you want to do. Do what you feel and what you love. Forget everybody’s advice, follow your gut.”

I think we all need a Joan.

At least I do.

Make sure to read the full show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 13, 2017
Ep. 276 - Scott Adams: The Hardest Sell: Convincing Someone You're Not What You Used to Be

It’s Scott’s 3rd time on the podcast. In the first interview, he was “the creator of Dilbert.” A famous cartoonist. The second time he was still “the creator of Dilbert” and a hypnosis/persuasion student. Now (appearance #3), Scott Adams is something new. He’s reinvented. And no longer standing on the footbridge between old self and new self. He’s the author of “Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter” and infamous for predicting Trump’s win… two years before election day.

His prediction was spot on.

Before Trump raced Hillary. Before he beat Ted Cruz in the primaries. And before he beat 18 other "more experienced" Republican candidates (Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, and the ones who’s names I can’t remember.)

Scott could name each persuasion trick Trump was using. His tone, the stories he told, the way he made you remember him, his thoughts, plans, policies, tweets. And how he's still doing it to us today.

I wanted to know how he knew. But I also wanted to know how he changes his career. And his life.

“I came in through the side entrance,” he said.


““Look how hard it is to change to fields. And so so dramatically. The hardest sell is convincing someone you’re not what you’ve been for decades… Or convincing them that you have more to offer,” he said.

“Right.” And then I realized we hadn’t even talked about cartooning. And the interview was almost done.

He taught me the most important rule for persuading anyone of anything: facts don’t matter.

“What makes news and what makes people care is if you do something in a different way,” he said. New doesn’t matter. New and different matters.

“In this case, I’m talking about politics, but I'm talking about persuasion. That was a different way. That immediately gets people’s attention. And they say, ‘Oh a new thing. Finally, there’s a new thing. Let’s talk about the new thing.”

In this episode, Scott teaches you that it’s possible change someone's perspective of you. That you can break free of the titles and jobs you hold and become who you really feel you are.

He’ll walk you through how he did it… how President Trump did it, and how you can do it, too.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 09, 2017
Ep. 275 - John C. McGinley: The Root of REAL Reinvention: Having The Right Attitude

He was trying out a role built for him. The screenwriter wrote the script with John in mind. He wrote his name in the margin. "A John McGinley type."

"Did that give you high confidence?" I asked him.

"No, they made me audition 5 times for a John McGinley type!”

So I wanted to know how he landed so many incredible roles. He told me the secret. We either poison ourselves. Or we thrive.

It's our choice. We make it every day. And usually one is our habit.

“Actors usually bring one of two things with them into a room," he said.

"They usually either bring in 'pigpen,' which is this cloud of dust." He gave me an example: You walk into an audition or an interview. You say, ‘My aunt died in Philadelphia last night so I had to take the train down there and I never got a chance to look at your script/proposal/offer.”

That's pigpen. And you’re out before you gave anyone the chance to give you a chance. 

I asked John why people do that. Why do we pick poison?

“Fear. We’re afraid. We’re afraid of our own shadows. Sometimes we come in and we impose our problems into the room. And that’s pigpen. And you’re dead."

And it happens in every situation in life really. You can probably think of a friend who does this to themselves all the time.

So what's the other choice?

Elvis dust.

“Elvis dust is when you come in with this strange combination of self-esteem meets homework meets right for the part meets the room. And when people bring in Elvis dust all we wanna do is get it on us."

Al Pacino had Elvis Dust. So did Paul Newman. John worked with both of them. 

“What would you see in Al Pacino’s acting that was really above and beyond? What did you learn from him?” I asked.

“He’s a magician," John asked him why he wanted to be an actor in the first place. Al Pacino said, “Johnny, see, I just want to be a storyteller.’"

I asked John what he wanted to be growing up... his answer was the same as Al's.

"I didn’t know what it would look like. But I knew I loved participating in any kind of storytelling process."

Maybe that's what Elvis Dust is made of... 

You can read my show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 07, 2017
Ep. 274 - Bill Cartwright: How to Gain the Confidence of an NBA All-Star

Bill Cartwright and I have nothing in common. He’s from the west coast and I’m from the east coast. He’s 7’1” and I’m not. When Bill got drafted to the NBA, they called him “Moses”. He held every important basketball title in high school AND college. But being tall and having talent are two very different things. I wanted to know the evolution of becoming a peak performer.

So I asked him, “What made you want to be good?” It was obvious he was working really hard from a young age. So what was that driving force that pushed him over the edge?

“Everybody wants to be good at something,” he said, "In sports everybody wants to be a good shooter. Or a great player. There are thousands of people who want to do that. So what’s going to separate them?  Time.  The time you’re willing to put in. It’s the sacrifices you’re willing to make.”

Then he told me his WHY.  “I liked it,” he said.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 06, 2017
Ep. 273 - Sheila Nevins: The HBO Producer Who Dawned the Era of the Human Experience

Before Sheila Nevins, no one cared about our human stories.

“I felt that there could be performance in every man, that every man could perform his life or his situation or his trauma or his successes or his failure,” Sheila said. She's a 26 Academy Award winning HBO producer. She birthed the modern documentary. 1,700 of them in total.

"I think everyone has something to offer," Sheila said.

But not everyone realizes it. "Sometimes you're so embittered by life that you never can tell your story," she said. “I think in the best of all worlds everybody would respect their own story. They would feel that their life was worthy... that they had done the best they could... that they were the victim either of circumstance or the recipient of good luck."

She sees people as picture. To Sheila, all life is either film uncaptured or captured.

"I walked home last night," she said. "There were a lot of bag people out. Madison Avenue... pretty ritzy block. Fancy stores and a guy collecting cans. No one who threw that can in that garbage thought that someone could get five cents for it."

Sheila made documentaries. But this podcast isn't only about that process. It's also about the lens she used. And how she inspired us to fall in love with ourselves, with human stories, and with the darkness of the human experience.

Make sure to read the full show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Nov 02, 2017
Ep. 272 - Lewis Howes: "The Masks of Masculinity": Why Men Wear Masks and How to Remove them to Live Your Best Life

Was Lewis Howes a bully? Is it possible? He set up the situation:

When you’re young, you’re told to be kind, open, loving, helpful and generous. When you stand up to the bullies for treating someone badly, what happens? They shove you in a locker.

Your mindset changes.

And then you realize… maybe it doesn’t feel good to be open, kind and generous.

So we put on these masks.

We try to fit in. We try to protect ourselves.

Lewis walked me through the masks:

The athletic mask
The material mask
The sexual mask
The know it all mask (and so on.)

He writes about each one in his new book, “The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives.”

And he gives a real-life example for each mask. I’m in the book. He put me in as the example for the “know it all mask.”

So I asked him, “Why did include me in your book?”

“Well, as I was writing it, I was trying to think of examples of men in my life who are a good representation of these masks," he said. "For example, the sexual mask was Tucker Max and Neil Strauss. For the material mask, I talk about Ty Lopez. I’m not trying to make any man wrong," he said. “They're just examples of men who have lead with these masks and got amazing results but also struggled."


But I was still curious why he included me. I push. "I think to me, you’re just a brilliant guy who always knew how to build up businesses. You had the answers, you were smart in chess. You read a ton of books. You just had a lot of information," he said.

But he also reveals my failures. And how I exposed myself through writing. I put my fear and the stories behind my fear out in the open. And that's what Lewis calls "the vulnerability hiding beneath the mask." 

It's what we lost when we were shoved in the locker, humiliated and afraid. We have to return to what was once lost.

But be careful not to put a new mask on at the same time.

I made this mistake. And I think I still make it. After losing everything and writing about it, I put on a new mask. “I think that became an addiction for me,” I told Lewis. I replaced the “know it all mask” or the “Wall Street” mask with a new, “self-deprecating mask.”

I felt if I didn’t write a new self-deprecating story about myself every day, I’d disappear.

And it goes back to Lewis’s point. Masks help us protect ourselves. But they also help us lose our sense of self.

“Most of us don’t feel like people will still like us or love us if we’re not producing one of these masks…” he said.

It’s scary to remove the protected mask layer. But Lewis says that’s part of growing into your true self.

“Try to think, ‘How can I take off the masks that aren’t supporting my vision or the masks that are maybe hurting other people in the process?’”

I’ve known Lewis a long time. And I wanted to learn from his new strengths. Not just the ones he’s mastered. I wanted to learn from the lessons he’s still trying to learn.

So I asked him, “What if this book doesn’t do well? And you get the worst reviews?” Because he said winning was one of his old masks.

“Here’s the thing, I’ve come to peace with it,” Lewis said. “I’ve thought about this. ‘If I didn’t get on the bestseller list how would I feel?’ My ego would be hurt. I’d be sad and frustrated because I worked so hard. But I’m focused on the vision, the process, and the message more than the result. I’m not defining my self-worth based on the result anymore. If I don’t hit the ‘New York Times’ list, it’s okay. It’s more important for me to get the message out than to get the result.”

I believe in Lewis's message, too. It's helpful for men to understand themselves and for women to understand the men in their lives.

Enjoy. And if you like this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review (it helps other people find the show, too). Thanks.

You can read my show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Oct 31, 2017
Ep. 271- Dan Lyons: "Disrupted" Author on Loving Your Job, Losing it & Starting Over

Dan Lyons is kind of infamous. He was a journalist who loved his job and got fired when he was 52. “I loved what I did,” he said. And that’s rare. “I loved meeting people, talking to them, interviewing them, trying to figure out what’s a good story.”


And then it was taken away from him. I feel like 52 would be the worst time to get fired. He moved to San Francisco and got a job at Hubspot, which lead to his book, “Disrupted.” He exposes the company. And exposes Silicon Valley.


And then the TV writers for “Silicon Valley” invited him to write for their show. I wanted to know all about it. What’s it like on set? How much input did you give? And did they take? And then what happened when you went back to your job at Hubspot?


That’s sort of where Dan’s story begins. Because as he shares in his book, “Disrupted” they started to push him out. Like high school kids bullying a kid out of their clique.


I wanted to know how he survived. How he coped… And how he got back with his bestselling book.

Oct 30, 2017
Ep. 270 - David Litt: Obama’s Former Speechwriter: How to Write Speeches for the People of America

“[President Obama] knew who I was, but he knew who a lot of people were,” David Litt, a former speechwriter for the president, told me in this podcast.

He wrote speeches for the president. Now he writes for “Funny or Die”. And before the White House, David wrote for “The Onion”. His style is satirical, humorous and self-deprecating. When Obama made you laugh, there’s a chance it was really David Litt.

So I asked him, “What’s the funniest thing you wrote that you were happy the president said?”

“Oh man, it doesn’t sound that funny when I say it, but, it got at a truth about politics that we probably could have expressed otherwise,” he said.

The joke was told at the 2013 Correspondents dinner. Obama said, ‘I know Republicans are still sorting out what happened in 2012, but one thing they all agree on is they need to do a better job reaching out to minorities. And look, call me self-centered, but I can think of one minority they could start with."

Humor helps us tell the truth. And it helps us remember the truth. And sometimes it just gives us a break from the chaos.

Like the time Reagan needed surgery after getting shot. He said to the surgeon, “I hope you’re a Republican.”

And everyone remembers that.

“You don’t have to be the president’s right-hand man or woman to contribute to your country,” David said. “I mean, you certainly can be and those are important stories, but I wanted to write a book about this other side of public service.”

So I wondered, could I do it? Could I write for a president?

And how did he transition from “The Onion” to the Oval?

“In America, your place in history isn’t determined for you,” David said. It’s not determined by where you’re born or who your parents are. “You make your own place in history as an American.”

When Obama first became a senator, a reporter asked him, "What will be your mark in history?" The young Barack Obama laughed and said, "I haven't even sat at my desk yet."

Then he repeated this story at a commencement speech in 2005. (I'm paraphrasing.) But he told the students, "You haven't sat at your desk yet… but you still have a choice."

I wondered how he did that… how he connected this small part of his personal history to this larger idea of making your mark.

“It’s called the ladder of meaning,” David told me. “I forget who coined the phrase, but at the bottom of the ladder are basic details and at the top of the ladder are big values.”

“One of my favorite speeches is the speech Martin Luther King delivered the night before he was shot. He talks about surviving an assassination attempt. A deranged woman, stabbed him with a letter opener. It almost got to his heart. Doctors told him that if he sneezed, he would die. This got out in the press and he got a letter from a nine year old, white girl who said, ‘I just wanted to let you know I’m glad you didn’t sneeze.’”

Then Martin Luther King gives his speech about the progress of civil rights. “He prefaces everything with saying, ‘I too am glad I didn’t sneeze because If I had sneezed I wouldn’t have been able to tell you all about a dream that I had.’”

“He’s connecting this very meaningless moment (a sneeze) with these incredibly important national events.”

It was beautiful. He used imagery. “I’ve been to the mountain top.” He used passion and love. He used the top of the ladder and the bottom.

This episode isn’t about politics. It’s about how words make history. And with every new word, you can make your own history, too.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Oct 26, 2017
Ep. 269 - Sir Richard Branson: How He Found a Gap in The Market and Became The Billionaire Founder of Virgin

Sir Richard Branson. End of notes. Enjoy.

Just kidding.

The advice from Richard is priceless. He's a self-made billionaire (BILLION!) who windsurfed across the English Channel with his kids, biked from Northern Italy to Southern italy with his whole family (they rode 100 miles a day). He's active everyday. Active in life, active in fatherhood, active in business.

“My slogan is 'Screw it, just do it.' Why not just try these things? You may fall flat on your face," he said, "but you’ll have fun."

That's part of "find your virginity." (The slogan based on his new book "Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography")

Then he told me how he applies this to Virgin, the multi-billion dollar empire he started on a whim...

“A business is simply coming up with an idea that’s going to make people’s lives better," he said. That's why he's been in business for over 50 years. "If I hadn’t reinvented myself I wouldn’t be in business,” he said. "And if I see a situation where people’s lives are not as good as they could be, we’ll jump in. We'll try to improve people’s lives."

I don't have an easy time saying "screw it." I usually overthink. And second guess myself. I want to change that. So I called Richard. And he told me how to change... he told me how to find my virginity.

Make sure to read the full show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Oct 24, 2017
Ep. 268 - Kellan Lutz: The Actor’s Guide to Building a Personal Blueprint and Following Your Spirit

I've never been a vampire. But Kellan has. He got his big break in "Twilight." This was an epic. Five movies back to back. It was a supernatural role in this made up fantasy world. And that's where he found his freedom.

"With Sci-Fi, you have this freedom to create whatever world, whatever rules, you want. There’s nothing tell you what you can and cannot do," he said. "We’re playing these vampires that don’t breathe, don’t eat, so trying to portray human qualities was interesting."
But now he's done with that series. He's taking on more challenging characters. And contributing his fame to charities he cares about deeply.

He came to New York to support the Geoffrey Beene Foundation. (He's the brand ambassador for them). They had an event in New York, "Frame This Revelation." It's aimed "to uncovers the truth of cancer's ruthless and vicious assault by showcasing the work of artists who are battling this insidious disease – either for themselves or their loved ones." The campaign is raising awareness for new cancer research. And I felt lucky to learn about it directly from Kellan. 

"Children and animals just always get my heart beating. And when my good friend, Kim Biddle, created "Save the Innocence" an organization that deals with children being trafficked for sex out in LA..."

I had to interject. Because I'm totally naive.

“How big is this problem? Because on a day to day basis, you hear the words "sex trafficking," but you never see it." He told me about the problem. He told me how it's all around us in everyday life. And how we miss the signs. Because we're not educated.

"When you’re educated, you see it first hand," he said. He told me how hard it is for girls to escape. And why they get trapped repeatedly.

And he told me the solution to... building a case, getting law enforcement involved... "A lot of times, women don’t feel worthy... we have to give them hope," he said. And so I listened and I learned how we can give hope.


You can learn more about the Geoffrey Been Foundation at

You can read my show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Oct 23, 2017
Ep. 267 - Mike Posner: A One Hit Wonder's Comeback Story - How to Tap Into Your Own Authenticity

He thought he was going to be one of the lucky ones. "I knew statistically... and intellectually that every once in awhile an artist has a hit song. And they’re lucky... they’re even luckier if they get two. I felt like, I was different. My first song was a hit," he said. "So I thought all all of mine will be hits..."

But he was wrong.

“Each song I put out after that was progressively less and less popular. And I became progressively less and less popular, until I was left alone in a million dollar house in LA with an empty schedule and nothing to do,” Mike told me.

He felt pathetic. And need to escape. He realized fame wasn't the "magic bullet." So he set out to find it.

And his comeback story began... This podcast is that story.

Make sure to read the full show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Oct 19, 2017
Ep. 266 - Amanda Cerny: The Secrets of Becoming a Social Media Influencer

Playboy wasn't part of the plan. "It wasn’t on my list of things to do in life," Amanda said. "What did you want to do?" I said. "Acting." But everyone told her "no." They told her "You're branded as a playmate, so that's what you are." She could've given up. She didn't. "One person says "no," then another person says "no"... but eventually, there’s that one person who believes in you and that can be yourself.” In this interview, Amanda tells me her secrets to becoming a social media influencer and the actor she's always wanted to be. She taught me how you can choose yourself. 

You can read my show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts! 

Oct 17, 2017
Ep. 265 - Mr. X: I Interview An Anonymous Guest on Hacking, Government, Bitcoin and Terrorism

The FBI went to his high school when the 15-year-old Mr. X hacked into the largest Internet company in the world and stole 90 million credit card numbers. 

"You are going to jail for a long time," they told him. 

The day after he stole them he sent them back to the company and explained what their cybersecurity flaws were. 

He thought they would thank him. 

The FBI came to arrest him. "I was scared to death," he told me when we first met. 

The head of the school, a three-star general, told them, "You guys better get out of here if you aren't writing this boy a check and saying thank you." 

They left. 


Two years later when Mr. X graduated he got "the call". The call that meant he wouldn't go to college. 

The call that meant he would parachute into enemy fire, hack foreign governments, hack our own computers. "I've done so many things," he once told me. "You can't imagine." 

The call from a three initial agency. More than one. 

We met at a dinner. We were both obsessed with hacking and the latest flaws in computer security. We ignored every else and spoke for three hours. 

And we haven't stopped talking since. 

I don't mean this to be a conspiracy theory. There's already been rumors about "fake news", election hacking, etc. 

There are bot armies. There are hackers taking down electric grids every day. Every company in the Fortune 500 is completely hacked. Your computer is hacked. 

I've spent many years talking to people in the security space. 

The reality is: the war is on. 

And it's being fought with data. And it's being fought all over the world. And it's being fought every day. 

Not just on election systems. Or at big companies. But on your computer. And the war is not always being fought by the people you expect. The enemies we were always trained to believe. 

Mr. X spent time in special forces. Was in every overseas battle. Has been involved in more news stories than he likes to admit. 

He's also built and sold two companies using his hacking abilities. He lives a good life now and doesn't want his voice e or identity to be revealed.

So we distorted it for the podcast. 

I asked him, "Do you still work for 'them' ". 

He turned away and said, "You never stop working for them." 

The goal of this isn't to scare people. Information is power. 

And this is some of what I've learned from Mr. X. 


“In the past, to go up against an institution, you need to be an institution.” Mr. X said. “Now more than ever, we need to stand up for what we believe in. We have these powerful, engaging tools to influence others, but we still leave it up to the powers that control us to influence us.

If you believe something, share it.

In other words, don't let the media "program" what you believe in. Don't let the online word "hack" into your brain. They already know more about you than you know about yourself. And they use that knowledge against you 24 hours a day. 

If you want to have a voice, YOU HAVE TO SPEAK.


We were talking about computer security. He told me all the ways you could be hacked… that you would never think of. 

“Let me ask yo, when’s the last time you updated your firmware on your router?” 

I had no idea.

“If I'm going in, I'm going through the router,” he said. “The majority of the fortune 500 use the same router… So you either trust the government to police data OR you need to be that person.”

And that was just one weakness. Next time you are on your phone check out how many apps on your phone have permission to turn on your video camera and start recording and transmitting what they record without you being aware. 

Don't think they aren't doing it. 


Was Osama Bin Laden really casually sleeping on the third floor of a building with no access out? Or was he a prisoner and we had lost our use for him? 

Mr. X: "he was our prisoner for years. Then we had no use for him." 

Always question everything the media and the government tells us. Always be a skeptic in a world where it's not in anyone's benefit to tell you the truth. 

This is not conspiracy theory. The only truth is to trust the people you love. The people who love you. 

This doesn't mean be irrational or paranoid or come up with crazy theories. 

This means practice being a skeptic every day on every issue. 

Practice skepticism. Not paranoia. 


I knew there were millions of questions I wanted to ask… but couldn’t.

I asked anyway.

“Are you still involved in the government?” 

“I can’t say that,” he said.

“Well, which agency were you in?”

“I can’t say.”

“Do people know it?”

“Yes, let’s just say it’s a well-known 3 letter agency.”

Ask. Get shut down. Ask again.

When I do an interview, I don't want to harass people for an answer. But sometimes if you poke and prod from various directions while you build rapport, you can get the answer. 

Not this time. 


Mr. X started hacking when he was in military school. 

Everything was regimented: 
wake up
first mess
solute the flag
go to class
second mess
second class
change 15 minutes
go to sports
third mess
after third mess, 2 hours of study hall, one hour of free time
go to sleep
do it all over again

The school is isolated. And the students can’t leave campus. 

The only way Mr. X could talk to girls was if he found them online. “We were heavily confined,” he said.

But he kept hitting firewalls.

So he started hacking. He learned everything he could. Not because he wanted to "attack" websites. But because he didn't want to be alone. 

Always let the prison walls around you create your opportunities. 

Censorship created his curiosity. 

What frustrates you that can kickstart your curiosity. 


Mr. X helped find one of the most well known serial killers in recent years and put him behind bars for life. 

Mr. X was paid to find patterns. He watched terrorists. The example: “a burn phone.” This is what criminals use to cover their call history. They buy a cheap phone. Call a few people, throw it away and buy a new one. 

So Mr. X wrote software. 

Someone calls you, then you call 3-4 people. Those 3-4 people call 3-4 more people. It’s a tree of calling. And if they follow the branches then can find the roots.

He analyzed the trees of one billion phone calls a day. He had access to all of our calls. 

“Eventually, you realize that if a bunch of random numbers keep calling the same person that all those random numbers are the same guy,” Mr. X said. 

People are patterns. Those patterns become your fingerprint. 

He used that fingerprint to identify a notorious serial killer. Used GPS to track him down. Now the guy is in jail. 

He used those fingerprints to track terrorists. "There were a lot of attacks stopped."


He wasn't educated about hacking or even computers. But he was passionate about it and learned everything he could. 

“I found something I was interested in… and that was the best education I ever received.” 

Find an interest. List every day the things you were interested in as a kid. It's never too late to learn now. 

The one who loves what he does will always learn faster and better than the person who doesn't love it. 

The one in love will compete better against the one who doesn't. 

The one in love will be...happier. 


“You were saving lives,” I said. 

“No, I wouldn’t say that.” 

But I insisted. Because I feel we all have invisible threads of impact. We help and hurt people in ways we don’t know. 

We all have our special abilities. And abilities to help and hurt without realizing. Always be healthy enough to know the difference. 

Mr. X got married. Loves his family. Loves his work. "Some of my ex partners never escaped the mindset wer were programmed with."

Reach for the positive when trapped in a negative.

Love someone. 


Mr. X measures his net worth not by dollars, not by accomplishments or promotions. “My net worth is now in data," he said.

He comes from hacker culture where the core belief is that information should be free. 

Too often, we accept what's been given to us. "The rules" we were told to live by. The standards were set for us...

But Mr. X proved you can set your own standards. You can choose the measurement of your net worth. Rich in relationships, rich in people, rich in joy, rich in knowledge...


Mr. X found a pattern in his own life. He realized he loved hacking. And he loved detecting patterns. He got the same joy from both. 

So he started reading books… and learned everything he could about computers, code, internet, backdoors and so on. 

He used those abilities to fight wars. Then to help law enforcement track down criminals. And then to build massive companies that he sold. 

I met Mr. X with his wife and daughters recently. I had never seen him so happy. 

Sometimes the best pattern is the smile of your daughter. At least I think so.

You can read my show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Oct 16, 2017
Ep. 264 - Erika Ender: "Despacito" Songwriter on Connecting With The World to Find Your Talent

"Everyone has their own talent," Erika said. "And my talent is expressing through writing songs and from singing them."

She wrote “Despacito" - the fastest song to hit 3 billion downloads in the history of music. Now it’s past 4 billion. That’s half the planet.  I asked how she did it. “Let’s say I want to write a song that gets 4 billion views," I said. "What should my first few steps be?”

"You know what…" she said. “I don’t think about the numbers. I think the main thing is for you to connect with the world."

She has a beautiful way of thinking. And it bleeds into her art. Often, my mind is full of fears and it clouds my creativity. So I asked if she’s afraid of losing. Or not topping herself. What if “Despacito” was it? Her peak? 

"Everyone asks me that," she said. "People are always asking, ‘Do you feel pressure? What are you going to do next?’ And I say, "You know what... this is such a gift. I’m not putting any pressure on myself because I think doing that is seeing life from the ego eyes. I'm not thinking I'm going to top this. I’m just going to keep doing quality work. I'm trying to evolve."

That's the key to having an "abundance mentality." And the key to pursuing your talent.

Make sure to read the full show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Oct 12, 2017
Ep. 262 - Bonnie McFarlane: Getting The Persistence to Do What You Love

Comedy is brutal. If the audience doesn't know you, they WILL judge you. That's true for most things (you can't walk down the sidewalk in New York City without being judged at least a hundred times).

Bonnie said you have to know your audience. I wondered "how though?" I gave an example, "Okay so do you try to figure out how old the audience is, what gender they are, sexual orientation, race, how much they drank or didn't drink, etc.?"

"No, I usually just think, 'Okay, blue collar, I'll do my marriage stuff."

It was that easy. That's professionalism. That's professional judgement. That's comedy. And the path to likability.

Bonnie has a joke about using the GPS.

"In Brooklyn I'm not going to do driving material. I have a really funny GPS joke that I can't do in the city because nobody drives. "I'm so immature about it," she said. She makes fun of the audience... They didn't ALWAYS live in the city. "Sometimes it irritates me. I'm like I know you understand what GPS is, if you saw this in a movie you'd get it, so don't just sit there like 'oh not my experience'."

I learned you can lose likability as quickly as you gain it, though. And that scared me. But Bonnie doesn't care. "I like when the audience is scared for you. If they don't laugh at something I think is funny, I lash out. Sometimes we start in a love fest, then I insult them and them maybe we still end in a love fest."

Her process is her art. She has hundred of jokes. "The premises just come," she said. She takes from life. The premises are there all the time," she said. "I just write whatever happens to be in front of me." Right now she's working on a joke: "what if your therapist was a Syrian refugee?"

I think I did more laughing than questioning in this interview. I hope you do too.  

You can read my show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Oct 09, 2017
Ep. 261 - A.J. Jacobs: The Intersection Between Discomfort and Curiosity

AJ’s about to launch a TV show. A few months ago he started a podcast. He’s 49 years old. And it all started because he decided to write a book on a weird idea he had. “I wonder what it would be like to live the Bible.” It’s especially weird if you consider the fact that he’s Jewish. AJ is a living example that anyone at age 49 could've decided to do this idea. Anyone at ANY age could’ve done this idea.

He told me to be curious about everything. "Even things you're not curious about." That didn't make sense to me. How do you do that? 

"Read books you don’t think are interesting," he said. Explore new podcasts, watch old movies. Then observe yourself. One of the original Saturday Night Live writers, Alan Zweibel, said you need to have two heads. "The head that's having an experience and the head that's observing.”

That's how you find your next big idea or small step forward in your life. You peel back the layers crusted on top of yourself. You dig into fresh layers and discover something new. AJ calls is "Fun-comfortable" (it's the intersection between discomfort and curiosity). 

This episode teaches you how to find that intersection. 

Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Oct 05, 2017
Ep. 260 - Gary Vaynerchuk: Set a Flag on YOUR Thing

"If you do not do what you love, that’s on you," Gary said. Years ago, no one believed you could choose yourself. You needed gatekeepers. Now we have YouTube, Instagram. “Now it’s the standard,” Gary said. If you cut out all the reason why you can't do something, then you cut out all the infrastructural and financial problems stopping you. "The only thing left is your f-cking head." Gary set up this example (and this podcast is full of them):


Pokemon. Imagine this is your passion. First, you blog. Then it becomes a video blog. Then a podcast. “Let's say you become the foremost Pokemon gal, 'Sally the Pokemon Gal.' You’re owning it. You go to Comic-Con, you get random sponsorships on your blog. You’re getting by. And then, Pokemon-GO comes out. Now you're on CNN and FOX. You’re getting paid $5,000 to give a talk. The world has just walked in to you." That's key. "Everybody who’s listening right now is looking for trends. They’re trying to walk to where the world is now and by the time they get there, the world moved on. If you go to your thing and set a f-cking flag on your thing, the world comes to you." 

Read the full article (and top 10 lessons I Learned from Gary Vaynerchuk:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Oct 03, 2017
Ep. 259 - Amy Morin: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

“Life is inherently risky. We make up all of these rules in life about what’s gonna keep us safe," Amy Morin told me. She's the author "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do." It was originally just a list she wrote for herself. Her husband died suddenly. Just after the three-year anniversary of her mom's death. “I thought my mission in life was to teach people how to be mentally strong, and I didn’t realize how much I was going to need mental strength," she said. This podcast teaches you the skills to become mentally strong. To practice every day. 

Make sure to read the full show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Oct 02, 2017
Ep. 258 - Nancy Cartwright: Becoming Bart Simpson... How to Find The Artist Inside of Yourself

To me, Nancy Cartwright is the most unknown famous person. She's the voice of Bart Simpson. "When I went in for "The Simpsons", the audition pieces of Bart and Lisa were sitting right next to each other. Hers said 8-year-old middle child. His a ten-year-old, school-hating underachiever, and proud of it." Nancy's instict kicked in. "I’m like ‘Oh bam bam that’s it.’” She tried out for Bart. And got it. Her whole career is based off of instinct. "I read this book about writing and producing," she said. "It was an awesome book written a number of years ago. It said, 'Ride the horse in the direction that it’s going.'" Her career as a voice actor became real acting and she landed roles in "Cheers," "Richie Rich," "Twilight Zone." Now she has her own production company, "Spotted Cow." ANd just released "In Search of Fellini," a beautiful film about her search for the most influential artist in her heart. "This film was probably 75-85 percent true," she said. "It's mostly true." In this podcast, Nancy tells us how she traveled alone to Italy in her mid 20's. And followed her heart and instincts ever since. We speak about how this film really comes full circle for her and gives meaning to her life. This is the journey to find your authentic self.


Also thank you to Audible for supporting today’s show. Audible content includes an unmatched selection of audiobooks, original audio shows, news, comedy, and more from the leading publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, and business information providers.

You can read my show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Sep 28, 2017
Ep. 257 - Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins: TLC - The Biggest Girl Band in American History

“Life is tough…and it’s also miraculous.”

T-Boz and TLC sold 70 million albums, becoming the bestselling girl band ever in America.

Along the way they declared bankruptcy, she battled sickle-cell anemia, the death of one of their bandmates and best friends, a brain tumor, everything.

She’s 47 today and beat two life sentences the doctors declared on her.

People say, “Well, she sold 70 million albums! That’s success!”

When you do your absolute best today, even though you know tomorrow everything can change – that’s success.

I had T-Boz on the podcast to celebrate the release of her new memoir, “A Sick Life” which I highly recommend.


TLC sold 70 million albums and is the #1 selling girl band in America.

But to stay creative, T-Boz and her bandmates, Left-eye, and Chili had to constantly develop music that stayed fresh and relevant. 15 years after they started, they released their 5th album


I always say “Reinvention is every day” ever since my book, “Reinvent Yourself” came out.

But I’ll be honest, just as hard is remembering every day that “reinvention every day”.

The straight and narrow and supposedly easy path is constantly whispering to me to follow it.

But don’t.


Other groups were R&B, other groups were rap, other groups were funk.

How do you be the best?

T-Boz (funk) + Left-Eye (Rap) + Chili (R&B) = TLC = 70 million albums


Sickle-cell anemia is debilitating. You’re not supposed to live. The blood cells don’t want to deliver oxygen to the rest of your body. The pain is incredible.

T-Boz’s brain tumor took three years to recover from. The death of her best friend and band-mate took 2 years to recover from.

Going bankrupt after selling tens of millions of albums forced her to start from scratch.

Reinventing in a constantly changing music business is the downfall of many artists. For their last album, TLC even used Kickstarted to fund it as opposed to a record label.

Success is about reinvention and persistent every day.


A lot of creatives don’t want to read the contracts or fine print. TLC didn’t read it as well and ended up making almost no money on their first 30 million albums.

At one point they even held up music legend, Clive Davis, at gun point, asking, “Where’s our money”.

They went bankrupt and had to start from scratch.

Don’t outsource your financial well-being and the security of your family to others.


No matter who you are, life is going to happen. “Life is tough”. T-Boz had painful sickle-cell anemia since birth and often had to be hospitalized mid-album, mid-tour, mid-whatever.

“When I was seven they told me I wouldn’t live past 30. I’m 47 now.”

“They told me I couldn’t have kids. I have two now.”

“When they did brain surgery, they told me I might never sing again. I’m on tour now with our latest album.”

Then she lost her best friend and band-mate, Left-eye, to a car crash. She was depressed for two years.

Then she had a brain tumor that required surgery and three years of physical therapy to recover from.

“I still can’t whistle,” she told me.

“Try,” I said. So she did. She couldn’t whistle. “I can’t move the muscles on the left side of my mouth.”

But throughout the podcast she laughed. “And I’m going back on tour tomorrow.”


T-Boz has written songs, performed them, did the choreography for TLC’s videos, conceived of the videos, written a book of poems, written movies, and now this memoir.

People sometimes say, “I can’t be creative”. Or, “I don’t have the talent”. Or “I can do X, but not Y”.

Not true. Creativity is a muscle. Find some small way to be creative every day and the muscle gets developed. For me, today is the first day I’m going to try to do standup in the same day at two different clubs. I’m scared.

Find one thing scary and challenging and creative every day.

What happens then? Everything.


A lot of pop music today is created by people who have reverse engineered “the hit”. There’s even a book about it, “The Hit Factory”, about a group of kids in Sweden who have basically written most hits you’ve heard in the past year.

But the key to TLC’s success was that they were always writing the songs that were important to them:

“Unpretty” – about staying true to your looks and not trying to change them to fit another person’s desires. “Waterfalls” – about staying true to your dreams but not caving in to the shortcuts that destroy many lives. Hit after hit.

“That’s the point of being an artist, right? You feel something and you have to get it out.”

List today what your real values are. What do you believe in? What’s important to you? What’s scary to you?

It’s a hard process to figure out who you are and what you stand for. But this unlocks the creative well and supercharges all of your relationships.

Honesty with others begins with honesty to yourself.


The best way to live a full life tomorrow is to live the fullest life you can today.


“Life is tough. And for many years I’ve felt like I’ve worked to get sick and worked to get better, just to get sick again. I’m learning to find a balance and just live. You lose people and you fall ill and bad things can happen.

“But it’s also really miraculous. You can have babies you were told you’d never have. You can bring joy to millions of people with your music. You can feel love and happiness and faith.

“You can decide that you’re stronger than any obstacle and you can empower your- self to survive. I know things can get really dark, but you’ll always feel better if you hold on. The light always returns.”

Make sure to read the full show notes here:

And don't forget to subscribe to "The James Altucher Show" on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts!

Sep 26, 2017
Ep. 256 - Ken Follett: I Want to Write a Bestseller

Ken Follett is a well-known Welsh novelist who specializes in writing spy thrillers novels and has sold over 160 million copies worldwide. Before he became a novelist he was a reporter for the London Evening News and was a Deputy Managing Director for a small publishing house, Everest Books. In his spare time he wrote novels, but he wrote a dozen before finding success. Eye of the Needle, his eleventh book, was his first successful novel published in 1978. His novel The Pillars of the Earth was on The New York Times bestsellers list for 18 weeks in 1989. This novel has been so incredibly popular all over the world for many years. In 2007 it became the #1 most popular choice on the Oprah Winfrey Book Club and returned to The New York Times bestsellers list at #1. Follett’s newest novel, Edge of Eternity, is the final novel of his Century Trilogy and available today!

Sep 21, 2017
Ep. 255 - Marcus Lemonis: The (Real) Key to A Profitable Business: People

Marcus Lemonis is a self-made millionaire, serial entrepreneur and the front man of CNBC’s popular series, “The Profit”. Since an early age Marcus has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and passion. When he was twelve he started his own lawn mowing business to generate enough money to open a candy store. After he graduated college, he started in automotive sales and managerial positions which ultimately led him to get involved in the camping and RV business. Today he is the CEO of Camping World, a company specializing in products and services for RV owners. On “The Profit” Marcus lends his expertise and experience to help struggling businesses get back on their feet. Since the show premiered in 2013, he’s invested $50 million of his own money into the businesses featured on the show. On each and every episode Marcus uses his 3P formula, People/Process/Product, to analyze the pitfalls and how to improve the product and process. Marcus’ charm, results driven attitude and passion for people has left an impression on the entrepreneurial industry that can’t be matched. Start watching “The Profit”, today!

Sep 19, 2017
Ep. 254 - Jim Kwik: Train Your Brain to Maximize Memory and Motivation

Jim Kwik is a leading expert in memory improvement, brain performance, speed reading and learning. But before he became the expert, he suffered a brain injury. And that made it really hard for him to learn. "If knowledge is power than learning is a superpower," he said in this conversation. He's figured out how to increase his brain power and memory. And now, you can learn the tricks that he's taught to high profile clients like Elon Musk, Nike, Virgin, Will Smith, and more. His online courses have helped students in over 100 countries. He’s the founder of Kwik Learning and host of "Kwik Brain" podcast. Unlock your brain's power NOW. And enjoy this episode.

Sep 14, 2017
Ep. 253 - Paul Shaffer: David Letterman's Legendary Band Leader on Making Music & Taking Your Shot

Paul Shaffer has lived through five decades of music. He got his first big break was he was hired on the spot by Stephen Schwartz to be the musical director in Toronto’s production of “Godspell”. The cast included Martin Short, Gilda Radner, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin and Victor Garber. The show was a huge hit and launched Paul’s career. Paul was a featured performer and a musical composer for the first five years of Saturday Night Live. But he’s best known for being David Letterman’s sidekick and musical director on _The David Letterman Show_ for over thirty years. He got to play with some of the most popular musicians of our generation including Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner and Ringo Starr. You can read his memoir _We’ll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives_ or listen to his newest album “Paul Shaffer & The World’s Most Dangerous Band”.

Sep 12, 2017
Ep. 252 - Brandon Webb: Getting Focussed (Lessons from a Sniper turned CEO)

Brandon Webb served as a Navy Seal for almost ten years. He decided to leave. He was burnt out and he wanted to watch his kids grow up. And he’s had a philosophy since he was thirteen, if he’s not enjoying what he’s doing he’s going to find something different. When he left the military he got into real estate, then he got four years into a business that failed and then after all that he got divorced. He had hit the bottom. But he learned how to pull himself back up. He started a blog as a passion project and turned it into a very profitable media company. Today, he is the CEO of the media and E-commerce business, Hurricane Group, Inc. which focuses on military news and entertainment and outdoor products and clubs. He is a New York Times bestselling author of The Killing School and The Red Circle. Look for his newest book, Total Focus that is now available.

Sep 08, 2017
Ep. 251 - Geno Bisconte: Comedy as the Cure... Let Yourself Laugh

Geno Bisconte is the most hilarious, high energy person I’ve ever met. He finds humor in almost every single sentence and he’s always in a good mood. He’s been a stand up comedian for more than fifteen years, headlining and hosting some of the most popular comedy clubs in New York City. He’s written for the Comedy Central Roasts, featured on multiple radio shows and was a cameo in HBO’s series Crashing. Every week he hosts his own podcast, In Hot Water with Aaron Berg on and his newest album, Uncle Geno Is Amazing is available to buy now on iTunes.

Sep 05, 2017
Ep. 250 - Alex Blumberg: The Shape of a Story: Building a Podcasting Empire

Alex Blumberg is the founder and CEO of Gimlet Media. Before this, he was an incredibly successful radio journalist. He won multiple awards in the industry. Alex hosted and produced popular NPR shows, "Planet Money" and "This American Life". When he saw the new industry of podcasting booming, he risked it all and reinvented himself. He started his own company. Today Gimlet Media oversees and produces multiple podcasts at one time. Visit to discover a variety of new podcasts you can start listening to today!

Aug 29, 2017
Ep. 249 - Chris Anderson: TED - Tricks to Mastering Public Speaking and Storytelling

After a long journalism career, Chris Anderson became the curator of the TED Conference in 2002. Since then he has expanded the conference to cover all topics including science, business and global issues. He introduced the TEDx initiative, giving licenses free of charge to local organizers who want to put together their own live event. In 2016, Chris published his book, “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking”. It’s an insider’s guide to creating an unforgettable talk. Listen to thousands of free TED Talks on and follow Chris on twitter @TEDchris.

Aug 24, 2017
Ep. 248 - Noah Kagan: Stop Fighting What You Are Good At

Noah Kagan was fired from Facebook. He was employee #30. “I think they made the right decision to fire me," he said. "One of the big realizations I’ve had in the past few years is that people need to stop fighting their natural skill. My sweet spot is getting things going. My sweet spot is promoting products I love. That was the lesson learned. What I was strong at was not what Facebook needed anymore.” He wrote about it in his free ebook “How I Lost 170 Million Dollars: My Time as #30 at Facebook”. I asked him "how does the average person know what their strong at?" That's what we talk about in this interview. Today, Noah is the CEO of, and I use these sites to grow and market my business. He also hosts a great podcast, “Noah Kagan Presents” and writes for his blog,

3 min - Noah first came on my podcast 2 years ago. He gave me a challenge: go to a coffee shop and ask for 10% off. The cashier was confused. “You want what?” “10% off,” I said. And I didn't give a reason either. My face was emotionless. She asked her Dad. “We don't do that,” he said. I could feel myself about to throw up. I was going against the normal social protocol. And endangering my life. Any time you step out of your comfort zone and risk being thrown out of the tribe, it signals a reaction in your brain: fear. But now it's much easier. I do challengers almost everyday. Noah does too. And he shared them on his podcast “Noah Kagan Presents.” We talk about more challenges you can do in this interview.

6 min - “I've been experimenting with habits and figuring out how to focus on the essentials,” Noah said. “That's where I'm really starting to explore.” He gave me an example. “Look at your phone right now. What apps have you not used in the last 6 months? Delete them.” He does this with relationships, business, everything. “It helps me realize what really matters,” he said. And appreciate more of the people and places and things he interacts with. I did a similar thing about a year ago, but in a much more macro level. I got rid of everything I owned. Except 15 items. Noah asked me what I miss. “Nothing,” I said. I lied (by accident). A few special things came to mind. But, more importantly, it’s been a year and I haven't replaced it rebought anything I threw away.  

9 min - After I got rid of 40 years worth of stuff, I had nowhere to live, so I started another experiment. I threw myself at the mercy of my friends…

10 min - Noah says he doesn't want to hate his week so he did a week of nothing. “I had no meetings, I had no one to be around and I was alone for a week.” He started at point zero. And added back the essentials. “What things really matter in my life? What places? What people?”

11 min - I told Noah what I learned from getting rid of all my belongings…

13 min - “People think of dieting only in health, but can you have a diet in friendships? Look at all the things that are weighing on you,” Noah said, “and start having a diet.”

16 min - Noah was the 30th employee at Facebook. “Why were you fired?” I asked. He told me about the guy who fired him. “He's rich,” he said. “But I think they made the right decision to fire me. One of the big realizations I’ve had in the past few years is people need to stop fighting their natural skill. I call it their sweet spot and my sweet spot is starting out.” Facebook didn't need that skill anymore. So they got rid of him. I wanted to know how the average person finds out what their sweet spot is...

19 min - Noah recommends trying these two strategies to find what you’re really good at.

24 min - I tell Noah one of my signature jokes from my stand up comedy…

27 min - Noah told me about his mentor, Jonathan Coon. He founded 1-800-Contacts and funded the movie Napoleon Dynamite. He has a strategy to “reduce friction in his life.” He goes to the same restaurants and overtips the waiters. They know to seat him at the same table and give him the same meal every time.

29 min - We talk about tipping. Noah said that if he’s ever feeling down, he just tips someone well. It makes him feel good. I take it one step further…

30 min - Noah’s mentor got an Uber. “I want your house,” the Uber driver said. “I’ll tell you exactly how you can get a house like this,” Jonathan said. He was even willing to give the driver the money to start a business that day. Here’s what happened…

35 min - We talked about podcasting. When Noah first started his show, “Noah Kagan Presents” he was recording on his iPhone. Then he asked for feedback and found out his audio quality sucked. “I think anyone can do a podcast,” he said. “But number one: can they do it for 4 years? Probably not. Number two: can they get feedback? Candid, honest feedback from the right people. You can get the wrong feedback from the wrong people, which is not helpful. And then three: can you actually improve it?” He said the key is to always ask for feedback.

37 min - Why EVERYONE should start a podcast.

42 min - Noah put himself out there. “Everyone should get their prostate checked,” he said. “Are you okay?” I asked. He’s fine. We kept talking about health. And how you can A/B test to see what’s really working for you.

47 min - Noah said he tried the 5am challenge. Now he gets up at 6 or 7am. But the challenge is what got him to move the day up earlier. Don’t set goals. Set challenges.

50 min - Noah told me about his no apologies, “choose yourself” challenge. He said, “Don't apologize for who you are.”

52 min - How to say, “no.”

53 min - I started wondering how people can get back on track, because again, a lot of people veer away from what they really want in life. And they recognize this. They veered away early. But want to be happy again. It’s hard because they feel this obligation as part of their day. I know it. I used to feel it too. Sometimes, I still do. But it’s rare. And I think the key to choosing yourself is closing the gap between what you want to do and have to do. Little by little. Day by day. So I asked Noah, “How do you get back on track?”  

58 min - We discuss “the elements of a good day.”

1 hour - Noah talks about how he built his business. "If someone told me how long it took to get successful, I may not have ever started,” he said. But that’s why it’s good to be ignorant sometimes. And to just focus on what’s in front of you. "I like to work on problems I have in my life and create things I want to see exist in the world,” Noah said. We unpack this and how it relates to other areas of our lives.

1 hour 2 min - Noah’s tried to learn a bunch of new skills: chess, Hebrew, podcasting. He hired a coach or found a mentor for each one. So I asked him what he’s learned about learning...

1 hour 5 min - We talked about “beginner’s mind.” The feeling you get when something’s new. Or when you’re starting over. Noah moved to Israel after we did this podcast. “Changing relationships or jobs or locations, generally improves life,” Noah said. “For me, what I’ve noticed is that when I live in foreign countries or different cities and do work there, my curiosity is elevated.”

1 hour 7 min - We talk about uncertainty. Noah said that if you’re uncertain about what you should be working on, look to your past. And remember what made you happy.

1 hour 8 min - Noah and I discuss the benefits to hiring a coach or teacher when you’re learning something new.

1 hour 11 min - I explain how I personally use Noah’s business, KingSumo, and how it’s helped my businesses grow exponentially.

1 hour 15 min - Before I ended the podcast I needed new challenges from Noah. He gave me three he’s working on right now and he explains how I can incorporate each into my life.

Aug 22, 2017
Ep. 247 - Ramit Sethi: Challenge: Start Living Your Ideas NOW

Ramit Sethi is a bestselling author, personal finance advisor, entrepreneur and author of "New York Times" bestselling book, "I Will Teach You to be Rich". He’s taught thousands to manage their personal finances and how to become rich on his website, He’s been featured in ABC News, CNN and the WSJ.

Aug 17, 2017
Ep. 246 - Ramit Sethi: You Have Something People Would Pay For Right Now...

Ramit Sethi is a bestselling author, personal finance advisor, entrepreneur and author of "New York Times" bestselling book, "I Will Teach You to be Rich". He’s taught thousands to manage their personal finances and how to become rich on his website, He’s been featured in ABC News, CNN and the WSJ.

Aug 15, 2017
Ep. 245 - Mark Manson: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F---

Mark Manson is a writer, blogger and author of the "New York Times" bestseller, "The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F-ck". Visit his blog,, to read some of his best articles on self improvement, dating and relationships, culture and life choices.


2 mins - I tell Mark why I didn't initially want him in the show... and why I changed my mind

4 mins - Mark and I first met at a friend’s poker game. then I ran into him a few weeks later. But I didn't remember meeting. “Hi I'm James,” I said. Then I remembered. And I realized he was the guy from the poker game… the guy who's name I kept trying to figure out all night. “I just thought you were a chill guy,” Mark said. We laughed. That's how I'd like to start all new moments in life. With a laugh.

8 min - Mark says where he got the inspiration to write his bestselling book, "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck"

10 min - We talk about what “giving a fuck” actually means. And how to decide what's worthwhile. “I joke around with a lot of people,” Mark said. “I say I wanted to write a book about values...but I knew if I wrote a book about values no one would read it. So I put the F word everywhere. Because essentially what giving a fuck is is you are deciding what you care about. You are deciding what you value in your life.”

12 min - So then I ask Mark how you get started?

14 min - We talk about people pleasing. And self absorption. “It’s very common in the self help world to say, ‘Be true to yourself and follow your feelings.’ That’s nice and everything, but if I went out to 6th Avenue and started peeing on the corner just because I feel like it…” I interrupted. “Is that your true passion? Peeing in 6th Ave. That’s your truth?” “Yes this is my truth at the moment…” Then he got serious. “We live in a society. We’re inner-dependent on each other in many ways. So there’s tension between what you yourself want and what’s also good for the community around you. And that’s hard. I think a lot of people suffer because that balance has gotten out of whack too far one way or the other. Either their constantly people-pleasing or they’re constantly selfish and self-absorbed.”

15 min - I feel everyone starts out people pleasing. And adulthood is when you cross into being more independent. Not necessary self absorbed, but the part of your brain that works to increase your livelihood and sense of survival kicks in. And the struggle is to let go of the “people pleasing” aspect. The part of you that needs approval. I still struggle with this. “Choosing yourself” is choosing to give yourself the stamp of approval. I try this everyday.

17 min - Mark sold drugs when he was 13. Someone told the principal and he got kicked out of school. Six months later his parents got a divorce.

22  min - So I asked, “What do you think your parents could have or should have done differently in this situation?”

28 min - There's a trick to having a good relationship, he told me… it's sort of an equation. Or a scale.

31 min - He fell into a “bottomless pit” of approval. He chased every woman on campus. And learned the rules of attraction. He told me about the really sleazy pick up lines he'd use. “Does that stuff work?”I asked. “It attracts  really insecure women,” he said. And that led to his dating theory: you end up attracting what you put out.

33 min - He took what he learned about dating to build a coaching business.

35 min - We talk about Tucker Max’s books and how they’re often taken the wrong way.

41 min - Mark started traveling and living off his online business. He got serious about his writing.

43 min - Mark explains the attachment theory

45 min - He read “The Four Hour Workweek,” by Tim Ferriss. And based his nomadic life around it.  But traveling forced Mark into avoiding intimacy. He kept leaving friends behind. And later learned what he really wanted...

47 min - I asked Mark, “When did you start giving a fuck?”

48 min - He told me how he got back to his roots to see what made him happiest

50 min - Mark explains how new and exciting experiences start to fade as you get older...

53 min - And he told me why putting down roots and building a community was his newly discovered biggest value.

55 min - Then I wanted to learn the art of. It giving a fuck. There are a lot of subtleties. So I asked, “What steps do I need to take today to stop insecurities and not care as much?”

58 min - People always ask me how to find customers or readers or a marker. The first rule is this: if you make something that’s valuable, people will show up.

1 hour 2 minutes - We talk about constantly finding different metrics to measure your success by.

1 hour 3 minutes - We talk about a chapter in Chuck Klosterman’s book, But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past, on what survives and how it correlates with a chapter in Mark’s book.  

1 hour 6 minutes - What is the subtle art, how do you do it?

1 hour 9 minutes - There are a few fundamental principles to stop giving time and energy into things that really don't matter to you. We break them down.

1 hour 12 minutes - Mark talks about starting to write his next book about relationships and how he’s already been comparing it to his first book… that's the death to all creativity. You need a free, unstressed mind to be creative everyday. Comparison is creativity’s heart attack.

1 hour 15 minutes - Every time you switch tribes, you switch the metrics of comparison. Pay attention to your tribes values. And disown any that don't matter to your heart.

1 hour 18 minutes - Your brain is always going to find a problem or a comparison, the trick it to figure out the game and trust it a little less.

Aug 10, 2017
Ep. 244 - Wally Green: He Was in a Gang at 13. Now He's Uniting The World Through Ping Pong


"I was shot twice by the time I was 13," Wally told me. "I owned six guns. Everyone I grew up with then is dead," he said.

He then walked back to his side of the ping pong table. He took out his iPhone. Using his iPhone as the racket, he served the ball.

He beat me 11-0.

"Ok," he said, "everything you are doing is wrong."


The way I held the racket was wrong. 
The way I stood with my legs was wrong. 
The way I hit the ball and then the way I followed through after the hit was all wrong. 
The angle of my wrist was wrong as I waited for the ball to come to my side was wrong. 
The way I held the racket at a slight angle to the table was wrong. 
My backhand was all wrong. 
The way I had grown up and lived my life was mostly wrong.

He kept streaming shots at me non-stop.

"No, no, no," he said. "No! Go up!...No!...Close the racket...No!...Use the other foot to shift weight...No! No!"

So we stopped.

He came over to my side of the table. He was looking down. I was afraid he was thinking, "why am I doing this?"

He stood behind me and grabbed my arm and moved it up as if I were hitting the ball.

"See!," he said. "Like this. Like this."

I wanted to be friends.


I've been playing ping pong for 40 years.

I had a table as a kid. My dad and I would play every night. We would play for hours. And during the day, my friend Jonathan and I would play matches up to 100 every day.

I thought I was good.

Now, after taking lessons for several months, I realized that 100% of what I had been doing for 40 years was wrong. Everything.

I was good enough to beat people who grew up with a ping pong table. But I was really bad.

"When I went to North Korea," Wally told me and then he started laughing, "those players were scary good."


Wally started playing ping pong. Someone saw his skill, and, as these things go, sent him away.

In order to come back you have to go away.

He went to Germany to study ping pong with pros. Pretty soon he was the best.

"I've played every sport," he told me. "Wrestling, basketball, boxing, tennis, paddle tennis. Ping pong is the hardest.

"You have to think of everything. For instance, there's 1000s of ways to serve. And there's so many things to think about when you return the ball. You have to think several moves ahead."

Wally has seen me play chess.

"It's EXACTLY like chess. But also physical."

We were having a three hour lesson that day. It ended with me doing a backhand-backhand-forehand-forehand, then forehand at the other end of the table - then random.

Then start over. He shot 100 balls at me one after the other.

"Again! Again! Good! No! No! No! Close the racket! You're crossing over when you follow through. Just go up!"

Ugh. I had too many bad habits. I kept doing them. How do I stop the bad habits? 40 years of bad habits are hard to get rid of.

It's like being afraid to say "no" after 40 years of telling everyone "yes".

We took a break.

"Why did you go to North Korea?"

"I like to do things that are BIG. Every year I want to make sure I do something really big. Really special.

"I saw the North Koreans were listing a tournament so I applied and I got in! I was the only non-Asian there.

"Once I got there they took my phone. I had no way of getting in touch with the outside world for ten days. Couldn't call my wife. If something happened there was no proof I was even there.

"So I just played ping pong. And they were GOOD!"


"Not only were the better than me," he said, "but the entire crowd was cheering for them and booing constantly at me.

"So I decided, forget this. Let's have fun with this. Let's make crazy shots. Let's jump up and down after every point. Let's get the crowd laughing and jumping with me. I focused on the crowd.

"At first they were surprised. And then they started laughing with me. They were cheering me. I was losing but it didn't matter. We were all having fun.

"Even the other North Korean players, they didn't know what to do. They were afraid to talk to me but by the end they were hugging me.

"That was my big thing that year."

"What about this year?" I asked


Wally made a movie.

"The Tables" about the ping pong tables at Bryant Park.

"No matter what is going on in your life," Wally told me, "You could be homeless, an office worker, a ping pong champ, it doesn't matter...everyone has a home at the tables in Bryant Park. It's home there."

I watched the documentary. It's good. "It's winning awards everywhere," Wally said, "I have to go to LA this weekend because it's winning at a festival there."

One year Wally and some friends threw a weekly party, "Naked Ping Pong". They invited everyone they knew to a friend's apartment in Tribeca that was big enough to fit a ping pong table and the few people they thought would show up.

It got mobbed.

So they pitched the idea of a ping pong club to Susan Sarandon and other investors. And the club, "Spin" was born. That's where Wally has been giving me the lessons. Now Spin has locations all over the country.

After one three hour lesson I was exhausted. I didn't think ping pong could be so tiring. We went upstairs.

"I'm going to Israel next week because one of my students is in a big tournament there."


It's a cliche to say, "Life is short". It's a cliche to say, "You only have one life."

But if you take one chance a year, something unexpected, something you love, you build a life worth loving.

So many times I've spent years just struggling for money, thinking it will buy happiness. What a waste!

We scheduled our next lesson. Then Wally showed me his unicycle Segway. I think it's called a Ninebot.

"I have to head off to the tables," he told me. "I always like to play there every day."

He stood on the Ninebot and he started weaving in and out of the crowd as he cruised down the sidewalk on his robotic unicycle. Then he was gone.

I was exhausted, I went down into the subway to practice doing standup comedy again with an unfriendly crowd.

I want to do my special thing each year. I want my life to compound into wonder.

I went into the subway. I opened my mouth and started...

Aug 08, 2017
Ep. 243 - Shawn Stevenson: The ONLY Health Podcast You'll Ever Need to Hear

Shawn Stevenson, host of The Model Health podcast said, "In the lab, they found anti-depressants in the New York City water system."


Ok, no problem. I'll drink tap water. Save on therapy costs. In NYC everyone has to go to therapy. It's a requirement. "This week my therapist said..."

"There's also these other chemicals in water.." and he was about to list them for me.

"No no no," I said. "Shhhh!" I put my hands on my ears. "I'm good. Don't need to know more."

Shawn is obsessed with health. Every week he interviews the best people in the world on health. He's interviewed hundreds.

And now I get to ask him for this BEST advice. Don't abuse what he tells you, James!

Shawn was 200lbs overweight. He could barely get from room to room before collapsing with exhaustion and pain.

He was diagnosed with an incurable spinal condition called degenerative disc disease.

His spine was deteriorating to nothing. The way an old person leans over and over until they collapse dead.

"You have the spine of an 80 year old," the doctor told him.

"The doctors told me to wear a back brace. I kept getting worse. The doctors kept telling me nothing could be done. I was losing hope. Losing the will to live."

So he chose himself. He CHOSE his health.

He studied every aspect of health. He created the #1 podcast on health, The Model Health Show.

He read everything he could. He changed his diet. His doctors told him don't bother. He exercised. His doctors said it won't help.

"You're going to die of this."


When he came on my podcast, he looked like a man in perfect health. He was muscular, glowed with health, had energy. He was something maybe I will never say.

"I'm feeling great every day," he told me.

And then he started dropping the most amazing health tips on me. I felt overwhelmed. Do I have the discipline to do all of this?

I've had many health experts on my podcast. If you don't have physical health, it's 1000 times harder to be a success.

The body feeds the mind and the heart. The body reduces stress. The body contains the basics for everything you want to do in life.

You are alive in your whole body. Not just your brain. Not just in your bank account. The entire body has to be nourished and loved.

For some strange reason he asked me to be on his show as well. I was really grateful he wanted to talk to me about how my own lifestyle improved my health.

But more importantly, he came on my show and I was able to drill HIM with questions.

Not that all doctors are bad. But I couldn't believe some of the things Shawn had to tell me.

I list some of them on this infographic. I already thought I knew things about sleep, water, movement, exercise.

I thought I already knew things about how health worked. About how health led to success.

But he broke it down one step further.

I needed that. I now live by it (we actually recorded this podcast about two months ago) and the results have given me enough energy to create new opportunities in my life that I would not have been able to do before.

I have a formula now: 1% more health equals 100 more possible opportunities.

Shawn! I'm grateful you broke your stupid hip when you were 20 and got Spinal Degenerative Whatever and gained 5000 pounds.

I'm grateful the doctors told you you were going to rot and die. I'm so happy you collapsed, half dead, under the weight of your own bloated body.

I'm really happy you almost died.

Just don't do it again.

Aug 03, 2017
Ep. 242 - Shane Snow: The Smart Way to Succeed

Shane Snow is a well known journalist, entrepreneur, co-founder of the content technology company, Contently, and bestselling author of "Smartcuts: The Breakthrough of Lateral Thinking". You can find his writing in "Wired", "The New Yorker", and "Fast Company" and a dozen more top publications.

Aug 01, 2017
Ep. 241 - Jason Calacanis: How to Invest: The Guidebook from an Angel Investor Who Turned $100K into $100 Million

Jason Calacanis is an angel investor, serial entrepreneur, writer and blogger. He is the founder and CEO of Listen to Jason’s podcast, "This Week In Startups", interesting stories from the world of entrepreneurship.

Jul 27, 2017
Ep. 240 - Gary Gulman: This is Comedy: Gary Gulman Breaks Down the Best Joke in The World

When Patton Oswalt, one of the top comedians over the past several decades, was going through the worst experiences of his life this past year, he wrote an entire post about one joke Gary Gulman made. ONE JOKE.

Oswalt starts off:

“This is…so perfect.”

I like the pause in there. LIke there are no words so he had to notch himself down even though it doesn’t express exactly what he wants to say: … “so perfect”.

He analyzes Gary’s joke and why it’s so difficult to do a joke like this (nobody sees how the sausage is made, they only see the final joke after years of perfecting).

Patton closes with: “Thank you Gary Gulman. I know a lot of my shit’s gonna get angry these next four years, but it’s stuff like what Gary’s doing that reminds me I gotta make sure it’s funny first. Angry doesn’t change shit. Funny disarms the horde.”

Gary is one of the best in the world. And no matter what area of life you want to improve in, studying in detail someone who is among the best, will up your game.

It ups my game. I am infinitely frail. I fall apart at the slightest resistance. I sometimes can’t handle it. I sometimes can’t handle failing. I don’t always believe you learn from failure.

But studying the best, makes my brain feel good. Like it’s being nourished. And that often gives me the strength to persist.

For the past five months I’ve been going up on a stage 2-3 times a week and performing standup comedy in front of an audience.

Often the other performers are people who were on the Colbert Show the night before. Or just released an hour-long Netflix special.

So I have to up my game all the time. I want to be “one of them”. And I don’t want people in the audience to be able to tell that I’m different.

Plus, I get scared to death. I am honestly so scared I am about to cry every time I am about to go on stage. Even if I’m going on stage to perform just five minutes of jokes. Five minutes is an eternity.

What I realized, and will save for a future post, is that there are at least 20 or 30 (and probably much more) “micro-skills” that I could not have possibly imagined when trying to get better at standup comedy.

I’ve been public speaking for 20 years. Is it that different?


Which is why I had to have Gary Gulman on the podcast. One of the best in the world.

I said above “five minutes is an eternity”.

Gary told one joke on Conan in 2016 that lasted six minutes. One joke where (and I measured it) he gets laughs every ten to fifteen seconds throughout.

He uses every skill in the comic’s toolbox. And probably many more that I haven’t been able to understand yet.

I printed up the joke. I gave it to Gary. I said, “I want to analyze this joke word by word.”

The first thing he said is, “This almost depresses me”.

“How come?”

“It took years to write this joke. And the others that I came out with around then. It’s so hard. Sometimes I can’t’ even get up because it’s so hard to do this.”

What follows is one of my favorite podcasts. We cover his career, the techniques he learned and how he learned them.

We cover the depression and anxiety and fear that goes into building any career out of excellence. We cover the micro-skills.

No matter what you do in life, the one who masters all the master skills of your field of endeavor will be the one who rises to the top. How do you identify those skills? How do you master them?

And we analyze this joke. To see the joke, Google: “Youtube Gary Gulman Conan States”. It’s his 7/13/16 performance. Watch it first.


Here are some things I learned:



The whole joke is about the states and how they were abbreviated. Gary walks out on stage, “I just wanted to recommend a documentary to everyone and then I’m going to go.” Everyone laughs.

No one believes him. But he’s totally COMMITTED to the joke.

In the podcast he says, “I’m bragging, really. Because I know I have something in my pocket that I’ve polished so frequently over the years. Years and years have gone into this one joke. And I know they haven’t seen it. It’s almost like I’m say, ‘Wait till you get a load of me.’”

A lot of comedians just pander for a laugh, especially in the beginning. Yes, fart jokes work. But GREAT comedy is art.

Gary’s worked hard and he’s know it. This transcends more than just jokes. People won’t always know that what you have to offer is valuable to them. Until you show it.

That’s how Gary builds rapport with the audience. They sense the commitment. They are in for the ride.


Audiences are terrifying. And often they don’t know you.

Might be a business audience in a meeting. Might be a reader. Might be a listener or a crowd. Or a comedy club audience.

They have to like you. Johnny Carson has said that this is the most important skill for a comedian.


Watch Gary’s clip and see how he becomes naturally likeable to the audience. These are techniques that can be used in every situation.

But it’s also how you build up capital so now you can take chances, propose ideas they have never heard of, build rapport with each person listening to you, and perform the magic trick of transmitting what you see in your head, into the heads of all the listeners.

I didn’t realize this was such an important skill at first.

Again, I have another post about this. But, for me, the results were disastrous when I didn’t realize how important this was.


Gary uses movement. It’s almost like he’s acting out the joke.

He points to the sky, everyone’s eyes move up. They’re with him. They’re in the story. “I need to keep their attention during that time because it’s a lull,” he said.

You can’t just tell your joke. Or tell your story. Or tell your idea. Ideas, jokes, stories are three dimensional.

Gary takes his joke and turns it from a premise into a three dimensional world we are suddenly all living in.




Throughout my entire life, I’ve been abbreviating states.  I’ve never thought, “Oh so many states start with the same two letters.”

Who thinks of that?

“What were you doing when you first thought of that?” I asked him.

“I think the first time was when I was in 2nd grade and I got the arrow book of the states. I got it in 2nd grade but it must’ve been printed several years prior because the abbreviations was a new concept in this particular version of the Arrow Book of States. For whatever reason, I wanted to memorize the abbreviations. That’s when I noticed how difficult it was.”

Thirty years later, he turned that difficulty into a joke.

I notice this with comedians. They observe everything out of the ordinary.

Seinfeld once said that a regular person goes into Bar Mitzvah and says, “nice buffett”. A comedian will go in and say, “why is there pork?”

I’ve been working on a joke lately. The premise is that OJ Simpson made $2.7 million while he was in prison. The premise doesn’t have to be funny. Just quirky. The punchline can come after years of work. Not in my case but in the case of the best comedians, jokes, speakers, inventors.


This is unique to Gary. He’s able to draw out jokes for 6 minutes. I asked how he’s going to get down to writing the next 6 minute bit.

“It’s daunting,” he said.

“How do you deal with the anxiety?”

“I’ll say this, but it’s something that’s very personal to me. Hopefully it will help people. But I was in the hospital for a few nights because of my depression and anxiety. I was overwhelmed. It was a couple of months ago. I wasn’t suicidal. I just went to the emergency room and they admitted me and changed some medicines up, but it’s literally crippling.”

“Did that help? The combination of medicine and them talking?”

“Yeah…I’m in a better position now then I was then. I can function a little bit better and I’ve been able to get back on stage.”

He said he had a fear of performing. Which was amazing to me because he’s so good at it.

But I get it. I can’t go on stage without having a panic attack. And I know he’s been on stage 1000s of times.

It’s hard. But once you say, “This is too hard”, that’s when you have to do it to get better. And improvement never ends.

That’s why I wanted to learn from him.

It’s easy for a comedian to tell crude jokes. Gary brings you into new territory.

He told me that once he got a hold of the abbreviations joke, he held on. “I tried to strengthen it and lengthen it.”

We kept dissecting. I wanted to get deeper into the toolkit. How did he make the joke stronger?


He’s a few minutes into the joke. They’re talking about abbreviating the first state (Alabama). Alaska is next. But he had to take the audience away from the story.

Or they’d lose interest.

He sets the scene. The whole team of abbreviators is eating breakfast. And Gary says, “The omelette station had just been invented and was sweeping the nation.”

“I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the omelette station,” he told me. I never thought about it before.

Hidden truths surround us. Ghosts in a conversation. But saying them brings the discomfort into comfort. Makes the scary…funny. Or possible. Or gives us a new way of looking at things.

“The omelette chef must hate us,” he said. 

And in the joke Gary says they wanted to be a “chef chef.” Not an omelette chef.

The tangent diverts your attention away from the main plot. He adds another about the people who call Hollandaise sauce “holiday sauce.” This has nothing to do with the joke. But it’s funny and adds depth to the story. And does it have to do with the joke..? Maybe!

And then brings it back to abbreviations. Alaska is right after Alabama.

Both are AL. That’s when the “crack team of abbreviators” realize they’re in trouble. “Did we already use AL?”


In one of his first lines, Gary tells you the documentary is 98 minutes. Not 90, not an hour. It’s 98 minutes.

“Why 98?” I said.

It had to do with the number of syllables. And the exactness. Words don’t tell a story. Details tell a story.

And it ends on a “t”. Gary knows from 20 years experience what consonants will elicit a bigger laugh.



The crack squad of abbreviations is made up of “nayer do wells.”

I didn’t even know what that meant. “I like to use language that you forgot you knew,” he said.


Gary quoted the late Richard Jeni, who said, “What you’re trying to do is put together as many laugh lines as close together as possible.”

You don’t have to wait long to laugh again when you watch his act. Gary does this too. He makes a small reference.

“I want to say it was 1973… So I will.”

And the whole crowd laughs. At first, I couldn’t figure out why I was laughing. “It’s a cliche,” Gary said. He uses a cliche to make fun of cliches.

He makes you take a second look at some statement everyone says, but no one realizes they’re saying.


The joke gets more and more ridiculous with each line. But Gary looks almost clueless. He’s going on and on about this documentary, their struggles and challenges.

It’s almost like he crosses this invisible line where he’s no longer aware. He becomes part of the story.

And his comedy turns from joke to performance.

Everyone in the audience begins to see there’s no real documentary. Except Gary.

He subtracts self-knowledge which adds to the laughter. Because now people not only can’t believe how ridiculous this documentary’s premise is, but they can’t believe how ridiculous Gary is.

Adding knowledge makes a hero. Subtracting knowledge makes comedy.

James Bond can get shot in the heart, perform surgery on himself, and then get the bad guy. He’s a hero.

If Woody Allen is shot in the heart then….even picturing it makes me laugh.


Gary makes jokes out of difficulties, adds specificity, tangents, cliches and so on.

He has his tool kit. Each element has a purpose. And they all take him to the edge.

“That’s one of the reasons I’m moving to Boston,” he said. “I can take more risks.”

“What does it mean to take more risks?” I said.

“Just to go on stage with material that is not as worked out as the one we went over today.”

He wants to test his joke in front of audiences, then record it and tweak it.

If you can’t take risks, you won’t hit the edge. You won’t go beyond it.

Beyond the edge is peak performance. The area few, if any, hit. 
Beyond the edge is success. Because people reward the ones who have mastered the risks beyond the edge.

I always say I don’t like to hit “publish” on an article until I’m afraid of what people will think.

That’s not quite true for this article. I’m proud to say Gary is one of the best there is. I’m happy I got a chance to take my absolute favorite joke and get the guy who told it to answer all my questions for an hour.

I felt bad when Gary expressed his depression. His desire to continually improve and his fear of where that next improvement might come from.

We’re all afraid.

I wanted to tell him…sometimes when I feel that way, and I feel that way almost every day, I often know that something new is going to happen. Something that will push me forward.

Afterwards, I felt bad I didn’t say that. I wanted to tell him how skilled he is. That he will push forward.

But I didn’t say that either. I’m hitting publish here not because I’m afraid. But because I want everyone else to experience the pure joy I felt when I listened to this joke, listened to how he crafted it, and learned a bit more about how in any area of life I can strive to improve and be the best I can be.

Jul 25, 2017
Ep. 239 - Alex Berenson: How to Write a Page-Turner

Alex Berenson had the dream job. But he was unhappy. And perhaps it even scarred him in some ways.


He switched it up. To his true dreams. To the dreams he had for himself since he was a child.


I want to do this.


First off, Alex has written 11 bestselling thriller novels. Alex knows how to get the reader to turn the page and ask, “What happens next?!”


This is an unbelievably hard skill.


But it’s not the  most  important skill when you are moving into your dream job.


I will tell you the most important skill. And Alex explains more clearly how he did it when we are in the podcast.


The most important  skill is to have this weird sort of “active arrogance”.


Here’s the gap: The best in your profession have skills, experience, and they know how to sit down and DO something every day.


The beginners: they WANT to do something. They PLAN to do something. They SAY they will eventually do it. They THINK they have the skills they need.


But they never do it.


The ones who succeeed. They have the arrogance to think they can just simply sit down and do it. .Despite not having the skills. Despite being total amataurs. They simply sit down and DO IT.


By doing it, you LEARN the skills, you DO the job [a first novel in Alex’s case], and you get better.


DOING is the only way to succeed. Most poeple stop before this point. Alex didn’t.


And thank god. Because his 11 bestsellers have been lifesavers for me. A way for me to dream. A way for me to escape.


Here’s how Alex did it:

[6:25] - Create your own universe


“In 2003 and 2004, I went to Iraq for the paper,” he said (he worked at The New York Times). “The war had ended, supposedly… we deposed Saddam. Most reporters go during the ‘active phase,’ so The Times said any cub reporter could put their hand up and go. So I put my hand up.” Then he came back and realized he had stories. And John Wells was born. Alex has written 11 bestsellers. All page-turners. I wanted to know what made him start writing thrillers. I’ve always thought of writing fiction. I still wonder if that’s what’s next.


Here’s what he told me, “In my universe, nobody lies to me. They can lie to each other, they can even lie to themselves, they cannot lie to me.”

[11:00] - Some luck goes unnoticed


“Coming back to the states was a shock,” he said. “The wastefulness of this country really smacks you when you’ve been away for a while, certainly in a place like that.”


“What do you mean? What’s an example?”


“I think the example that struck me is the electrical grid.”


We take it for granted that the lights go on. And then use them like crazy. I live in NY. The lights are always on. It doesn’t matter what time. And I never think about it. “American is a place of abundance,” Alex said. “I guess that’s a good thing. It’s better to be rich than poor but realize that 80% of the world is never going to live in conditions anything like this. It really does just smack you in the face to realize how lucky we are and how little we realize that.”

[12:00] - Choose yourself

I asked Alex if he thinks we’re becoming complacent as a society. “Thats a real fear,” Alex said. There are two sides. One side is if you give people everything will they stop wanting to work? Will they say they have enough. And give up.


But then the other side is you work so hard and go nowhere. “The flip side of that is if you make the system so unfair that nobody believes hard work can get you ahead, they’re not going to work either.”


And I think that’s why work should be more than a paycheck. There has to be a vision. And following that vision is how you choose yourself.


[15:00] - Have a little arrogance


Alex said a lot of reporters want to write novels. He was one of them. But there’s something that separates those who write from those who don’t...


“I did something arrogant,” he said. “I wrote a novel.”


So I wondered if that’s part of the formula? Do all novelists have some arrogance to write something totally made up and think other people will want to read it?


“Of course,” Alex said. “Are you kidding? It’s the craziest endeavor. ‘I’m going to create this world with these fake people and I want you to believe they’re real. And I want to make them come alive for you.’”

[17:17] - Finding aspects of you

I’m curious about the characters. Like dreams, where do they come from? Is it a manifestation of yourself? Of people you know? And who leads the story? Is it the writer? Some writers say the characters are so strong psychologically that they lead the story.


Alex got his answer from his wife. She’s a psychiatrist. She says John Wells is a projection of Alex’s most idealized version of himself. “He’s strong, he’s very capable, he’s so tough. Women love him, men fear him, sheep want to be with him, ya know he’s tortured because he’s committed all this violence over the years, but he’s essentially a good guy.”


I wonder what it would be like to create my own universe and then ask a doctor to read into me. But I only know what I create if I start creating.


[19:22] - How do you survive?

His books are 400 pages each. And that’s before everything gets cut down and reformatted. He used to write before work. Now it’s his full time job.


“So how do you survive? How do you sit through it?”


“Writing the books is mentally painful,” he said. “I make the characters suffer. Because I’m suffering.”

[26:13] Who’s your hero?


I wanted to know more about Alex’s hero. He could’ve made the everyman. But instead he chose a spy, someone who in danger. Maybe it’s a reflection of who we want to be. Someone with real freedom.


Alex said. “When you have nothing to lose, when you don’t care if you live or die, you have incredible freedom.”


Alex doesn't have that freedom. He told me how he was almost kidnapped in Iraq. “People thought I was spy,” he said. ““I had a very close call. I mean everyone has a close call, but I had a very close call”


“What was your close call?”


“Ya know, I don’t like to talk about it.”


I couldn’t let this go. When someone comes on my podcast, I have one chance to ask them everything I want to know.


“Could we please talk about it?”


“I found a notebook that a Shia fighter kept… It was just a tiny green notebook. It was in the rubble of a building. And I took it.”


“They saw you pick it up?”


“No… I was dressed like a local. I had a goatee. I had my haircut shorter, but no one was going to be fooled into thinking I was Iraqi. No one who REALLY looked at me. And I didn’t speak arabic”


People got suspicious of him.


“The question was, ‘What are you doing? Why do you look like this? Why are you trying to pass… you’re not one of us. And once that happened, it just spiraled.”


“So you reached a point where you got scared,” I said.


“Oh, no no no no. It was much worse than that…”


[34:16] - Get stories

I wanted to know how Alex got back home. He was detained. And almost martyred.


These experiences lead to his novels. Now, he had stories to begin fueling the John Wells series.


[43:34] - Write everyday

People ask Alex how he gets his inspiration.


“I have a mortgage to pay and I have a contract. I can’t wait for inspiration.” He says he makes progress everyday.


[44:30] - How do you get people to turn the page?

Alex turned the tables. He asked if I wrote a page-turned.


The answer’s no. I tried. I’ve tried for 20 years. He said one key is to let people read your work. I’ve never let anyone read my fiction. I want to know the beats.


We broke them down.


“I’m kind of the wrong person to ask about structure,” he said. “My books violate the normal structure of genre fiction.”


But I find this is true with all peak performers. They can’t explain how they do so well. It comes natural to them. So getting into the finer nuances takes effort.


I dug. And here’s what I found…


[54:54] - Finding structure

  1. In the beginning, the main character is involved in something bad
  2. Then he solves it
  3. And he’s given a grace period of relief
  4. Then he goes through something worse… Alex said, “You have to have a mission and within that mission there has to be sub-missions.”
  5. It could get worse. “It depends,” Alex said. Sometime the main character gets help from somewhere else or a clue is revealed. Anything can happen.


[58:20]  - They key to a great ending...

Eventually it ends… But here’s the key. You need a cool solve.


So I asked, “What’s a cool solve?” This is another great example of an expert knowing his craft better than the inner workings of that craft…


We went through a ton of examples. And finally landed on this:


You have to build. “For Wells, there’s always tensions. Your always asking, ‘How far will this go?’ You just got me to explain it better,” Alex said.

Jul 20, 2017
Ep. 238 - Ryan Holiday: The Art of Making and Marketing

Ryan Holiday, stop writing books that are just for me!

With “Perennial Seller” you just answered an obsessive question I’ve had for years: What makes something, someone, some product, some art, withstand the test of time?

What is the magic sauce? The secret formula?

What makes something sell a million copies a year (music, art, books, products, etc)… forever?

I want to know.

I’ll try my best to summarize our conversation and your book but people should buy the book for your 1000s of examples:



If you write what everyone else is already thinking, then nobody needs to read your work, or use your product.

They already have it.

It doesn’t matter if you are 50% better than anyone else.

Nobody understands how to judge that except the experts in your field. And those experts don’t care about you. They might even hate you.

Create your own field. And be 1000% the best in that field.



The 100th person who writes a “50 Shades of Grey” style book, or a disco pop EMD album can…MAYBE…get 1% of the audience.

If you find an underserved audience, you can get 100% of it.

There’s an important side effect of this: IF YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING FOR THE MONEY…YOU LOSE.

Because the rest of the world is competing for that dollar.

Money is a side effect of creativity, quality art, creating something unique, and building your marketing into that art.



Test out sample chapters. Release songs on YouTube. Keep iterating. Keep digging for your authentic voice.

In comedy, it took Louis CK 20 years of telling jokes before he found his voice when talking about dating and parenting.

Don’t look for LOTs of fans at first. Look for the hard-core fans. The ones who will stick with you while you go on this crazy ride. The ones who will share.

What my prior podcast guest, Kevin Kelly, calls “The One Thousand True Fans”.



Ryan told me that “Smokey and the Bandit” beat “Star Wars” at the box office the same weekend they both opened.

I did not know that! It almost seems like blasphemy to me.

John Grisham only sold a few thousand copies when he first published “A Time To Kill”. Only much later did it sell millions.

Catcher in the Rye had a slow start. Now sells a million copies a year.

The best works of art and the best products have to fight the masses to find their right audience. But when they do, the audience will reward them.

Write or create what is unique to you, find the 1000 true fans. The ones who are hard-core and love the value you bring. And serve that market over and over.

That divides the winners from the non-winners.



“Choose Yourself” could have been another ranty personal development business book (“Blah!”).

Instead I wove in a personal story of struggle and loss and pain. Pain that changed me and still does every single day to (hopefully) lesser extent.

This is what makes a story both unique (it’s my story) and universal (everyone experiences pain, everyone wants to solve it).

Too many people play a persona (“my life is perfect so let me teach it to you”) and that’s inauthentic.



Star Wars is a perfect example. It’s the ‘arc of the hero’. A boy who struggles, encounters problems, faces them, lives forever. I.e. Jesus. Krishna. Buddha.

Star Wars is a sci-fi western (great example of “idea sex”) where he innovated on the graphics but used a story that was basically “Focus grouped” for thousands of years. Thousands!

So he stuck within the rules of a genre (actually several that he combined) but also made it uniquely his own.

This is the key to successful art.

Telling a story that is personal to you AND resonates with everyone is very difficult. It takes practice. It takes marketing. It takes listening. That’s why these are the items that become perennial sellers.

It’s worth it to build that skill. How do you do it:

- Understand the history of what you loveLearn from the best

- Learn from the best

- Practice over and over

- Build marketing into your art.

- Experiment, learn, repeat

- Follow the rest of the advice in this article.



Ask yourself, “Who is this actually for?” Who is your fan?”

“A lot of creators struggle with this,” Ryan said. “You make this great work and then you think the world is eagerly anticipating it, but they’re not.”

You have to have a sense of honesty internally to know who your stuff is for. So you need to ask the right questions from the beginning.

You have to connect strongly with those initial hard core fans.

Combine your creative idea with the heart of another human being.

The people who struggle with your struggle. The people who will be better off when they read your writing or use your invention.



If you do something new, people will not like you. SOMEONE will hate you.

“When the moon landing happened,” Ryan told me, “It had 93% market share. That’s incredible.

“But think about it. That means 7% of the audience turned on the TV, saw Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon and said, ‘oh, this is boring. I’m going to change the channel.”

Be ok with that.

Iron Maiden had a lot of people hating them. And yet they focused on their core audience and became one of the most popular rock bands ever despite playing music that would NEVER make it on the radio.

The TV show, “Seinfeld” was on the verge of cancellation it’s first few years.

But Jerry Seinfeld already had a hard-core following not only among fans but even among network executives.

Having network executives as hard-core fans guaranteed him the runway he needed to succeed with the wider audience.

The Beatles had a hard core following from 1957 on that, even when their label rejected them in 1962 (“Guitar bands are going out of style”), their hard core fans kept them afloat and a year later they were catapulted to success.

Your hard core fans buys you “marketing capital” that you “spend” on expanding to a wider base.

If you go for just the wider base, you face the competition too early and end up as an also-ran.

And remember, the moment you first start – NOBODY at all cares about you.



I don’t hit publish unless I’m actually feeling physical fear about doing it.

If you don’t want to divide the audience, don’t hit publish.



Nobody really cares about you. Every industry is turning upside down. Everyone is worried about their own jobs and agendas.

You can’t just be better than everyone else. There’s “infinite shelf space” as Ryan puts it.

You’re competing against “Breaking Bad”, Google, Trump’s tweets, old episodes of Seinfeld, Harry Potter, etc.

If you want to be out there and noticed. If you want your vision to succeed. If you want your product used…you need to talk about it. You need to represent it. You need to write about it. You need to be about it.

The marketing has to be part of your art. Even the Beatles made entire movies (art and marketing at the same time) to support their true creativity (the music).

Marketing is no longer about ad space. It’s another important outlet of your creativity.

And if it doesn’t work. Move on. You don’t have one idea in you. You have 1000s.



Most things fail. The ones who succeed, pick up from their failure, figure out what went wrong, figure out how to validate an idea better with an audience, and then go back and try again.

They try over and over until they find that hardcore audience that will listen.

Validation is a cure for stupidity.

They go back again and again until their skills are refined. John Lennon and Paul McCartney met in 1958. They played and played and played and refined.

In 1962 their label rejected them (“Guitar bands are on their way out”).

The rest is history.

Now you can create history.

And Ryan, one final note. Please keep writing all-star books so you can keep coming back on the podcast.

And keeping writing books that will make my life better.

And then letting me ask you any question I want about them. Because the’s the way I roll.

You’re a good guy and, of course, welcome any time but I’m really mostly interested in reading things that make my life better. So keep at it.


Jul 18, 2017
Ep. 237 - Scot Cohen: The Best Networker in the World. PERIOD.

Scot Cohen is the best networker on the planet. I have never seen anything like it. And he used that skill to make tens of millions of dollars, not only for himself but for many others.


I wanted him to explain, in detail, how.


But first:


I’m sorry, Scot. I am really, truly sorry. I am horrified at my behavior. A year of bad behavior.


Imagine: you owe someone a phone call and you say to yourself, “Ok, I’ll call tomorrow”.


And then tomorrow you say, “Well, maybe tomorrow”.


And then you delayed so much you feel awkward about calling. Because you know you have to apologize and you hate confrontation.


Stupid, right?


Let’s make this even worse: the person you have to call back has been incredibly generous to you. In fact, he let you stay in his apartment for three months for free. You’ve worked together for 14 years and he’s one of the most successful investors in NYC. And then you did this for no reason.


I’m an idiot.




The day I threw out all of my belongings  and gave up my apartment I was sitting in a restaurant with my one bag and I called Scot Cohen. I said, “I’m just sitting in this restaurant.”


“Where are you going to live?”


“I have no idea yet.” I coudl’ve just stayed in a hotel. But for various reasons I was feeling a bit down. I just wanted to sit in the restaurant. I had no idea where I would live.


“Come on over,” Scot said. “Stay here.” And so I did. For the next three months I stayed in one of Scot’s several apartments.


I invested in Scot’s hedge fund in 2003. We’ve worked together on and off for 14 years. He’s one of the most successful hedge fund managers I know.


He’s made tens of millions, invested in dozens of companies that went up 1000s of percent, and I am glad that, in my own small way, I was able to help him in several situations. .


When you build your network over years, over decades, and your network is made up of good people, they help you out. They let you move in their apartment. You work on deals together to make money. You meet each others girlfriends who become wives.


And then sometimes you let them down and you have to apologize.


So I did. On the podcast.


This is how stupid and awkward I am: I hadn’t seen Scot in a year. I had stupidly avoided his calls. And so I said, “come on to the podcast and that’s where I will apologize”.


And then, I said, step by step we will break down and figure out





Scot came to NYC with nothing. But he had a skill that is worth tens of millions at the highest level. It's networking at a level I've never seen before or since.




One time, a year earlier, I was sitting in his apartment. Scot rushed in, changed into a suit and rushed out.


It was Sunday night, 8 o’clock at night. He was rushing  from tennis with one hedge fund manager to the wedding of one of his investors.


That’s how he made himself so successful. He networks seven days a week.


I just sit around and fall asleep early.


I asked him on the podcast how he did it. How can I do it? How can anyone do it?


We broke down his story:

1. Self awareness

“Do self-work,” he said. “Really try to dial in on who you are and where you want to go, because if you don’t have that right, you’re never going to be able to get off first base.


“This is fundamental. It takes a while. You’ve got to have patience to play this out, so give yourself the time. You’re not going to get a quick fix. Nothing’s going to happen in three months, or a year. It’s going to take years. So get that fundamental work done on yourself first, and then you can start growing.”


2. Keep a diary

Scot told me to write down where you want to go.


“If you don’t write stuff down, how are you going to go anywhere? You’re not going to remember where you came from.”


“I think it’s really important to be able to quantify what you’re doing during the day,” he said. “You’ve got to keep account of how you’re spending your time. That’s the most important thing.”

3. Meet people

I asked Scot, “What else can they do? Should they start holding dinners? Should they start figuring out who’s good, and doubling down on those relationships? Should they start coming up with ideas to connect people? What should they do?”


His advice was simpler than that… just plant seeds.


“Surround yourself with great people. I don’t care if it’s a plumber. I don’t care if he’s a construction worker. I don’t care if it’s a teacher, a police officer, a guy in the gym, somebody that you met at the grocery store. It doesn’t matter, but just make sure they’re kind. Make sure they’re aligned with where you want to go...”


Jul 13, 2017
Ep. 236 - Farnoosh Torabi: Flipping the Mic - Farnoosh Interviews Me

She was my partner in crime. Farnoosh recently hosted her own show on CNBC. She also has a super popular podcast. And she’s a successful book author and all around writer. But to me she’s more than that. From 2006 to 2008 we did videos together every day. We would meet on Wall Street, a video guy would tape us talking about whatever we wanted to talk about, and then we’d send that video out onto the interwebs. The day the first iphone came out we went to the Apple flagship store near Central Park. We interviewed the people who were waiting on line all night. A homeless guy started to pick on Farnoosh. Not that I am so brave but I didn’t want to seem unmanly so I stood in between the man and Farnoosh and asked him to please go away. He lifted me up and threw me to the ground. And then he went away. That was a fun story that I wanted to share. But more...Farnoosh is a textbook example of how a career can be made and be a success. She had a fulltime job learning skills she loved and then mastered: financial markets, writing, video, multimedia, communication, and the business of business. While at the full time job, she wrote a book on the markets: YOU’RE SO MONEY. From that, she no longer needed and diversified her sources of income by writing for many outlets, going on various TV shows, starting her own show, writing more, starting a successful and profitable podcast, and many other activities. And ten years later, we still find each other doing videos together or podcasts, or articles, or whatever. Building a career is like knitting a tapestry. It’s small thread by small thread. It takes years. It becomes beautiful. And it’s something you can fall into when it’s done for comfort and security. That tapestry becomes your network. A career is not what you created today, but the networks you built up today that will create unexpected opportunities for you ten, fifteen, twenty years later. As an example: I just did a deal with a friend of mine I began working with twenty years ago. Every day I see these opportunities. And I’m horrible at networking. Farnoosh isn’t. But there’s another reason I wanted Farnoosh on my podcast. Farnoosh is great at interviewing. And I wanted her to interview me. I find when I am a guest on other people’s podcasts I always find new ways to say the things I want to express, new ways to say what I’ve learned from my guests and my experiences. Who better to interview me than the person who has been interviewing me for almost a dozen years. “I came prepared,” she told me. Because she wanted to find out what you don’t see on Google...

Here’s what we talked about:

The rise of entrepreneurship and the rise of “gurus.” Farnoosh asked me, “Who should people trust?” But really, it doesn’t matter. Anytime you “study” entrepreneurship, it means you’re not DOING entrepreneurship. It’s great to have ideas. And it’s fine to read one business books (TOPS), but then that’s it. Get in the mud and starting doing. - listen at 7 minutes

Farnoosh asked me, “Do you remember the first time you used the internet?”  It was before the web. I logged into a news group and could talk to people from Norway about Star Wars. Besides the phone, it was the first time I spoke to someone without being in the same room…  It was 1986. And then the web started. Hypertext came in. And I thought it would be used for storytelling. But then it became huge for commerce. Then she asked me, “What’s next?” - listen at 19 minutes

Mentorship and finding your inner circle - listen at 25 minutes

Evolution, willpower and the access economy - listen at 36 minutes

My daily schedule (the morning is my “maker” hours, in the evening I manage several businesses and at night I have fun. I do comedy.) - listen at 38 minutes

Is it better to focus on one thing and enjoy the subtleties of what it takes to be the best in the world at something? Or diversify? I struggle with this. Farnoosh said she bought the book, “The One Thing.” Because she wanted to get focussed. “I bought it and never finished it,” she said. The irony… she got busy doing “other” things. But maybe the other things takes us off our path, out of our delusions and shift us into doing more fulfilling learning curves. - listen at 43 minutes

The story of “lucky Lisa.” That’s Farnoosh’s nickname for the friend who helped me get rid of all of my belongings - listen at 53 minutes

“What about dating?” Farnoosh wondered if dating is weird for me. Because I have no home. And then we talked about renting vs owning. I used to believe in renting. But now I just borrow. It’s part of the new access economy. We live in a world of access (and Airbnb). But I eventually answer her question about dating, too. - listen at 59 minutes

Then we talked about money. “If you couldn’t pass on any money to your kids and all you could pass on was investment strategies, rules, a portfolio, what would it be?” - listen at 1 hour and 5 minutes

“Do you like talking about politics?” she asked… - listen at 1 hour and 10 minutes

“Did you vote?” No. And I don’t think it matters. Here’s why. Saying it’s your “civil responsibility” to vote is not true. I agree we all have a civil duty. I do mine by writing 300 articles a year, giving talks, doing 100 podcasts a year and giving it all away. You get to decide how you fulfil your this civil duty. If you choose voting, that’s fine. But I don’t. I don’t want to outsource my contribution. We started debating - listen at 1 hour and 11 minutes

Hear the story of the time I went to Bernie Madoff and was turned away. He said, “The last thing I need is to see the name Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC on the front page of the Wall Street Journal” - listen at 1 hour and 19 minutes

How to get into TV - listen at 1 hour and 22 minutes

AND the “choose yourself” method for getting into TV (how to get past the gatekeepers) - listen at 1 hour and 27 minutes

Jul 11, 2017
Ep. 235 - Tim Kennedy: A US Special Op's Reason for Serving - "Win Hearts and Minds"

“Have a spirit of adventure, the desire to learn something new, be an explorer and never get too comfortable.”




“Imagine this room is filling up with poisonous gas,” Tim said. He’s looking straight at me. “There’s two doors behind me, one window and one to either side.” He points exactly where everything is, even though he’s still looking straight at me.


“We have several choices,” he said, “I can pick the locks of one of the doors. I can break down the doors. I can smash one of the windows and we can climb out. We have three minutes until we die. What do we do?”


Tim is aware of everything around him. Which is probably why I started off the podcast with:


“We have nothing in common.”


“We’re 30 seconds into the interview and we’re already disagreeing,” he said.


It’s a creative challenge to figure out how to relate with each person I meet… He’s a US Army Special Forces sniper. He’s been to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s an MMA fighter. And has multiple black belts.


I have zero black belts. I have negative black belts. I haven’t been to war. And I’m not trained to kill people. I can’t shove someone without looking funny.


So we have different instincts.


“I remember every moment of every gunfight I’ve ever been in,” he said. “And there are things that wake me up at night.”


“Like what?”


“In the movies, saving your friends and killing a bad guy is a high-five moment, right? No. You just took a human life. That is something that echoes with you through eternity.”


He told me about the decisions he had to make every day. And how his dad’s words rang in the back of his head, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”


There were four people in Tim’s unit. Each had a different job: communications, medicine, explosives, tactics. Tim was tactics. “Weapons tactic expert,” that was his job title.

He constantly had to assess whether or not to fire. Because the situation was never clear. Innocent people could be in the same room as the man with the machine gun.

 “He was shooting at my teammates. He had a machine gun in the window.” And Tim didn’t know what (or who else) was on the other side...

Then he asked me, “Do you throw the grenade?” 

I didn’t know. My instinct is to run.

“Run? The bullets are 175 grain and travel at 2,800 feet per second. Do you run 2,800 feet per second?”

He threw the grenade.

“Did you ever find out what was behind that window?”

“Yeah... the moment the grenade goes off and all you hear are women and children screaming and crying. I stayed up for a week with the women and kids that were in that room. We fight until the fight is over. But then we revisit and give them the best medical care that we can in the field and transport them to the best hospitals that we have access to. That’s the most beautiful thing about US Army Special Forces, ‘The Green Berets.’ We want to do everything by, with and through the indigenous people.”

I can’t imagine.

And not being able to imagine, is what we have in common. It’s when you try to find the bridge where two people can meet that I learn the most about the people around me.

 Here's what we talked about...


Shortcuts: -

[12:20] - We talked about his childhood. I wanted to know if fighting is inherent. He says it wasn’t. Although, he did learn how to fight when he was young. His brother and friends always threw him in the pool. “Were you traumatized?” I asked. Tim had the mindset that he could get stronger. And he planned to throw them in the pool someday. All 9 of them. But in between sports and horsing around, Tim’s Mom brought in balance. She enrolled him in piano lessons. I didn’t ask if he still plays piano. I don’t know if he still has this balance. But it’s worthwhile to try to create it in your own life. To lose your stresses in the concentration of a new art, a new practice.

[27:12] - “War is horrible. Period. It’s where we see the most unimaginable horrors,” Tim said. So I asked him why he initially signed up to go to war. And He told me this, “Evil will prevail if good men stand back and do nothing.” He had to take action. I asked him another question. This is happening all over the world. We didn’t take action in Rwanda until it was too late. At what point do you start to take action against evil?   

[39:20] - Tim’s made mistakes. Mistakes that wake him up at night or prevent him from going to sleep. War takes a toll. He set up a scenario for me. A machine gun being stuck out a window, pointed at him and his team. Shooting. He throws a grenade through the window the machine gun is in. The grenade goes off. The moment it goes off he can hear the women and children screaming and crying. He had no idea who was in the building, but does he risk his own life to save the lives of the women and children inside? Listen for what happens after the smoke clears.  

[49:00] - “You don’t get to see who a person really is, until you strip them down,” Tim said. He’s talking about the Army Special Forces selection process. It’s one month of breaking the candidates down before the real training even begins. You don’t have a name. Just a number. You have no identity, no resume. They deprive you of sleep and your calorie intake is substantially inadequate. Then they find out who you really are at your core...

[53:00] - Tim said, “Once you understand humanity, you understand right and wrong, you understand just and unjust. These are things that transcend language”. Tim was an expert at transcending language. It was part of his job. Because he had to adapt and assimilate into cultures around the world. So I asked him, “What are the tools? How do you became a “warrior ambassador?”

[58:00] - I didn’t realize how much our army gets involved in all the world’s issues. They stop poachers, save animals from going endangered, they try to stop human trafficking and anything that touches the black market. I wanted to learn more about human trafficking .I know it’s a very real problem in the world, but I didn’t know enough. What does it mean? Are little girls being kidnapped and sold into slavery? And does that happen all over the place? “Yes,” Tim said, “It happens here in the United States, here in Austin, TX.” Then he told me how this black market industry is supporting terrorism all over the world.  Listen here for Tim’s explanation of how we are trying to put it to an end.

[1:08:50] - I asked Tim about mastery. He’s a peak performer in all areas of combat and martial arts. He also owns several businesses. So I asked, “How did you master all of these areas?”  But he said, “There’s no such thing as mastery.” So I asked him what he thinks of learning. He told me this, “Have a spirit of adventure, the desire to learn something new, be an explorer and never get too comfortable.” Listen to our conversation to learn Tim’s perspective on how to regain your sense of exploration.


Jul 04, 2017
Ep. 234 - Charlie Hoehn: Getting Past Anxiety and Learning How to Play Again

In my podcast Charlie and I talked half the time about getting past anxiety. And half the time about this:

[14:00] - Charlie’s time working for Tim Ferriss, doing a virtual internship with Seth Godin, and marketing Ramit Sethi’s New York Times bestseller. He told me how he pitched his heroes (and how he suggests you can too)

[23:00] - We talked about getting paid to do what you love (and how the first step usually means doing what you love for free). If you want a job you love, it (usually) has to start free. That’s how you build the skill. People in low-level jobs are essentially paid to move away from their dreams. It’s up to you to move toward your dreams. Charlie said, “You’re brought into school where your spontaneity and impulses are muted. You’re forced to work on stuff that is not that interesting to you… I think that’s why it is so important to work for free because you have to tap back into what matters to you.”

[52:00] - Then we began talking about anxiety. 

Jun 27, 2017
Ep. 233 - Fred Stoller: Five Minutes to Kill: A Story About "Making It"

You have five minutes to kill. That’s it. Those five minutes can make or break a career.

I don’t think I would be able to handle the pressure. I’ve done a lot of public speaking. And now I’ve tried standup. For the past three months I’ve been going up once or twice a week.

It’s difficult. I thought 20 years of public speaking would help me. It doesn’t. It’s the Hunger Games on that stage.

So Fred Stoller is my hero. He was a standup comic 30 years ago, then he was a writer on Seinfeld, then he’s been a guest start on 60+ TV shows including Seinfeld, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, Scrubs, and every other show I can think of. He’s sitcom history.

And he wrote all about it in three excellent books, including his latest, “Five Minutes to Kill”, about his five minutes on the 1989 HBO Young Comedians Special and what happened to the specific performers of that show.

So I asked, “If everybody thinks you’re so funny, then why didn’t you have your own show?”

But I wasn’t the first person to ask Fred this… He asked himself the same question throughout his career.

So did his mom.

And it hurt his self-esteem. He said, “When I used to headline as a comedian, I’d feel sorry for the people lining up waiting to see me… like I was their weekend.”

Now he’s entering a new world. He’s writing. And learning how to embrace “this weird guy that I am… who got lost finding this place.” He’s learning how to express himself with his own voice.

He reinvented from standup to writing on the best sitcom ever. Then he reinvented again to appear on all the TV shows he’s been on.

Now he’s 59, and he’s reinventing again. He’s a writer. His books are excellent.

Reinvention is not something special people do. It’s not something for only a few. Fred has been frustrated and also exhilarated down every path he’s chosen.

Reinvention IS the goal. Not a pathway to it. Reinvention is a habit. It’s what we do every day to bring out the fire inside that constantly wants to express itself.

That’s why I wanted to speak to Fred. Not because he wrote “The Soup” episode of Seinfeld. But because he’s still doing what he loves to do. And what he loves to do is constantly changing.

Jun 20, 2017
Ep. 232 - Jocko Willink: The Way of the Warrior

I was afraid before interviewing Jocko. I think it was instinctual. His body is seven times the size of mine. I pointed at the cover of his new book, “The Way of The Warrior Kid.

“See this kid,” I said. “That’s me right now.”

I like to overlap somewhere with my guest. Like a story we both can share and laugh about.

With Jim Norton, for instance, we grew up together. With Garry Kasparov we were both chess players. And I also worked on Deep Blue for a while, the computer that would ultimately defeat him.

But with Jocko…what? I felt intimidated. He was like this superhero that had conquered the world and everyone respected him and I felt like the nerdy little boy I was in junior high school.

So I started talking. “I can’t do a pull up. And I’ve never been in the battlefield… obviously. Or I would look completely different. You were the commander of your SEAL unit and you had to make life and death decisions. But out of that, you cultivated all of these leadership lessons.”

He listened. That was nice. Then I asked why he joined the military. (And stayed for 20 years.) But he flipped the question back to me. (He has a podcast, too. So he knows how to drive an interview.)

“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be in combat,” he said.


“Well… what did you want to do when you were growing up?” he asked.

“I guess I wanted to write and interview people.”

“Well, there you go.”

I don’t think my brain fully realizes that I’m doing what I dreamt of doing as a kid. Jocko made it sound so simple.

“Well, there you go.”

We’re not all lucky with everything we do. Jocko is lucky. I am lucky. But some of his friends didn’t make it back from war.

Doing is the step forward. But sometimes it worthwhile to just pause… long enough to hear the words.

“Well, there you go.”

We began the interview…

Jun 12, 2017
Ep. 231 - Jim Norton: Dropout and Laugh (A Comedian's Journey)

Jim Norton is the reason why I do podcasts. First, he’s a world-famous comedian, recently released a one hour special on Netflix, has been on shows like “Louie” and “Inside Amy Schumer” has written two New York Times bestselling books and has appeared on countless radio shows and podcasts. But just as interesting to me...we grew up together. The first day Jim moved  into town we were in fourth grade. Rather than keeping his mouth shut like  anyone else just moving into town he immediately started making everyone laugh. Day one we were laughing so hard I thought my stomach was going to break. We all said out loud that day (Jim doesn’t remember but I do), “you should be a comedian”. And he did. He did! I like when my podcast combines the personal and the professional. Combines my own story with the story of someone achieving peak performance in an area of life that I love. Comedy is not just about making people laugh. And being a standup comedian is not just about “standing up” in front of a crowd of people and telling jokes. Comedy is about observing the hidden truths in life that everyone knows but nobody has ever quite articulated. And standup is about how to articulate that truth in such a way that people feel momentarily unsafe and confused (the setup), and relieved (the punchline). But that’s only one theory of comedy. There are many. And so I wanted to try it for myself. I’ve been doing it now a few times a week for two months. It’s hard! It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to get good at. So I asked Jim, who has been doing it all of his life,  to come on the podcast. Here are some things I learned:

Make Mistakes - listen at [8:08]

I told Jim I was afraid to bomb. To tell a joke and have nobody laugh. “Bombing is what we learn from the most,” Jim said. “It’s not about how to avoid bombing. You will fall flat all the time. It’s about getting up after that.” “I left myself no safety net,” he said. “I started when I was 21. I didn’t have a diploma. I got a GED three years after I got sober. I have no high school diploma... So I knew it was going to be this or nothing.” Sometimes to survive the biggest pains on the way up, you have to fly without a safety net. You have to fall. The way to hit the top tier in any area of life is to figure out where the line is, and go beyond that line. If you aren’t failing, then you aren’t trying to be unique. You aren’t going to be the top tier.

Find Time to Laugh at Yourself - listen at [14:45]

Comedy is about connection. You tell something about your life, something honest and true and usually uncomfortable. The comedians job is to transform your pain. Like an alchemist. “I make fun of myself,” Jim said. “I give my own personal examples, but I think if I’m doing that at least I’m being truthful and I’m not coming from a place of thinking I’m better than that guy… like who am I?” They laugh because it’s a safe way for people to experience their own demons. You can get close enough to the shadows of your life without the fear of being overrun by guilt or shame. It’s a chance for us all to be a little more human, a little more honest and a little more free.

The Umbrella Theory  - listen at [28:50]

Jim just started writing another book. He’s on TV. He’s touring. He’s got a radio show (Jim Norton and Sam Roberts on Sirius), he has a podcast. He works with incredible talent. And is always looking for new material from his own life. “You can’t just be lazy,” he said. “I talked to Chris Rock recently and I know it sounds like I’m name dropping, but I’m not. “That’s a total name drop,” I said. “But I didn’t mean it like that…” We talked about Chris Rock’s career. He stopped touring. He hadn’t been on the road for seven years. But yet you still hear his name all the time. He’s hosting the Oscars, testing out material at clubs, etc. To succeed in any area, right now list all the things that are skills in that area. Make sure you spend some time trying to master all the granular parts of the field you want to be unique in. The ones who master the “umbrella” of their field are the winners.  

Is Your Heart In It? - listen at [1:06:40]

I’m going on stage once or twice a week now. I’d love if you come. Most of the time, the audience doesn’t know me. It’s hard to set that foundation. I want us to all be in it together. I asked Jim what three things should I do?

  1. Write material everyday
  2. Tape your set you do and make yourself watch it
  3. Get on stage every night (or as much as humanly possible where you know your hearts really in it) / be willing to show up

Number three is true for any dream…

Catch the Cycles of Comparison - listen at [46:15]

I don’t have a solution to every problem in my life. I think that’s why I’m still writing… seven years after starting this blog, I’m still confessing. Jim and I talked about comparing ourselves. I make this mistake daily. I look around and see who’s on the front-page of my dreams today. "I always want to achieve what I'm not achieving,” Jim said. "I never feel like I'm doing well." I think everyone has a tendency to wonder, “what’s next”. This is sort of the problem with goals. You achieve a goal and it always seems anticlimactic  because now you have to work towards the next goal. I ask myself this because since 2003 I’ve written 18 books. I’ve done at least one, sometimes two books, every year since 2003. Until now. This is the first year I’m not working on a new book. I haven’t felt the urge so I won’t force it. But I have felt the desire to get better at other things and achieve other things so rather that keep to the routine of writing another book, I’m trying to achieve success in these other areas.


Although Jim and I went to school from ages 10 to 18, I hadn’t seen him in 31 years until he walked into the podcast studio. What a pleasure to combine the deeply personal with my professional passions. The result is always so much better as well. Because we have the story and the rapport, and we can get right down to learning the topic I love best: how to achieve peak performance in any area of life. But seeing a friend for the first time in 31 years. That’s why I love to do this podcast.

Jun 06, 2017
Ep. 230 - R.P. Eddy: Why Warnings Matter (A Podcast About the Future)


The best things in life are born from coincidence. I am a firm believer in this.

A year ago I was flying back from California. I started talking to the guy sitting next to me. Turns out he had  worked in almost every branch of government related to intelligence and diplomacy.

Now he runs his own private intelligence company. He has information about every government in the world. He is paid a lot of money to reveal and analyze that information.

But when we were on the plane, for basically four or five hours I asked him everything I could and got the most incredible detail about the state of affairs in the world. I’m almost afraid to reveal what we spoke about on the plane.

Everything from “how to catch a liar” to “What is the Nigerian government specifically doing about oil prices” to “Will Trump win?” (and his answer turned out to be stunningly accurate).

Then...a lost touch with him. He  was just a guy I sat next to on the plane for a few hours. We got off and went to live our separate lives.

Until now.

His new book is out: “Warnings” written with uber-diplomat Richard Clarke.

What is he warning about? Everything.

Where are the hidden potential catastrophes around the world. And how can we live with them. And how can we avoid them. And how can we figure out the warnings after these?

He answers, he analyzes, he proves, and he does it from his 30 years of experience uncovering these things for the US government and now, through his company, for other governments and large institutions that can afford him. 

The key is: “that  can afford him”. Because now he comes on the podcast and just like the coincidence of meeting  him a year ago, he answers all of my questions again about his book. About the “Warnings”.

I love  when coincidence intersects real life. I saw his book, remembered him from our interaction, and we had the best time on the podcast. Read the book, listen to the podcast, and don’t ignore the coincidences in your life.

(But he is.)

R.P. Eddy is the CEO or Ergo, one of the greatest super intelligent firms in the world. Governments hire him and his firm to spy on other governments.

“Hopefully, I wasn’t too indiscreet,” he said, referring to the time on his plane.  

I told him not to worry. “If you’re not arrested by the end of this podcast, then you’re okay.”

In his book, “Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes,” R.P. covers all the major world catastrophes that could’ve been predicted and prevented: 9/11, Madoff, Fukushima, the financial crisis, AIDS, climate change.

If we can learn to predict these, or at least learn how to figure out  how the correct experts are, then a lot of pain can be avoided.

Experts warned us. But no one listened to them. R.P. calls these people “Cassandras.” The name comes from greek mythology. Apollo (a god) wanted to sleep with Cassandra. She refused. So Apollo cursed her.

“She could foretell any future disaster. She could see it in vivid color,” R.P said. But the curse was that no one believed her. So she burned to death in a terrible attack. (An attack she knew was coming…)

These people exist in real life.

And R.P. wants us to notice them. So R.P, and his coauthor, Richard Clarke, started “The Annual Cassandra Award.”

They’re giving away cash prizes (up to $10,000) to motivate people to find and nominate a true “Cassandras.”

This is the formula for spotting a “Cassandra…”

How to detect a truth-teller (listen at [55:25])

The “Cassandras” featured in R.P’s book are experts in their field. They have been for years. He told me about Laurie Garrett, the head of global health for the Council of Foreign Relations. She’s the first person to ever win the Polk, the Pulitzer and the Peabody.

“She foresaw the rise of HIV/AIDS when she was a radio reporter in San Francisco,” R.P. said. “She saw these men dying of a disease called ‘gay related immune deficiency,’ ‘GRID,’ or ‘gay cancer.’ They didn’t know what it was. Gay men didn’t think they had a transmissible disease. They thought they were sharing a cancer somehow, but just by looking at them and seeing the Kaposi sarcoma on their face, Laurie Garrett knew this was a contagious illness and started getting the media to pay attention.”

This was during the time of Ryan White. He was a young, poor high school student dying of HIV caused by a blood transfusion.

He was banned from school. People shot at his house. “Noted politicians called for gay people to be put in camps,” R.P. said.

But Laurie could see how the pandemic was unfolding. And she came up with a plan for health care and surveillance networks to prevent the disease’s spread.

The issue is that a lot of “Cassandras” are ignored. Because sometimes warnings are wrong… so how do you tell the difference between a “chicken little" and a “Cassandra.”

“Cassandras” are data driven. “Everybody in our book who was right was a proven, technical expert on the topic they were speaking about,” R.P. said.

“They are questioners by personality.” They ask hard questions and doubt what most believe.

They have an off-putting personality (not always, but it’s common).

They have a sense of personal responsibility. “When they walk into a restaurant and the fire alarm goes off, they’re the one who says to everybody, ‘Let’s get out of here,” R.P. Said. “These guys think of themselves as sheepdogs. Some people think of themselves as sheep (they probably don’t realize they’re sheep) and then we all know there are wolves out there. Sheepdogs, to some extent, think it’s their job to protect us.”

They have high anxiety. “Let’s go back to our fire alarm example. These are the guys who look for the fire exits when they walk in. They’re the people who pull the fire alarm when they smell smoke. And when you think about personalities, a lot of people don’t do that.”

Why we continue to let real threats slip by us:

I asked R.P. why these people, “the Cassandras,” are ignored. Why aren't we trying harder to prevent terrible things from happening?

“It comes down to our human biases,” he said.

We pick sides.

If we think someone is off-putting, we doubt them. If they confuse us (meaning they’re data goes over our head), we move on. And miss the warning.

The same is true for our ideologies and belief systems. We’re quick to deny people who think differently. Madoff’s ponzi scheme is a perfect example.

R.P. interviewed Harry Markopolos, a financial fraud investigator. “He knew within 45 seconds of understanding Madoff’s “hedge-fund” that it was a ponzi scheme,” R.P said.

But the SEC didn’t listen to Harry’s warning because of his personality. They thought he was obnoxious.

Even though he had hard evidence:

Madoff claimed to trade 60 billion dollars worth of options. But that many options didn’t even exist in market. The math proves Harry right.

Humans fail by emotions.

I don’t know if there’s a solution. Maybe we have to unlearn. Maybe we have to judge our judgements.

And ask more questions.

Curiosity is a new world. And isn’t that what we want after all?



May 30, 2017
Ep. 229 - Brandon Webb: Becoming The Master of Your Own Fate

His platoon was counting on him. He couldn’t come back a failure. Brandon had been deployed to the Middle East four times. He’d seen the ugliness and destruction war had caused. And now he was being sent straight to sniper school. This is one of the most stressful jobs as a Navy SEAL. He would have to learn how to make quick decisions. Hard decisions.

“The only easy day was yesterday,” he said. “That's our motto.” Brandon is one of the most accomplished sniper teachers of his time. He changed the system. And implemented positive reinforcement, which allowed him to see firsthand how having a good “mental mindset” propels people into success.

In his memoir, “The Red Circle” and his newest book, a New York Times bestseller “The Killing School: Inside the World’s Deadliest Sniper Program,” Brandon shows you exactly how to train for a “champions mindset.” He uses mental management strategies: visualization, positive self-talk, solution-based thinking and so on.

He is the master of his own fate.

And now you can be too...


Here's what we talk about:

[6:08] - I don't normally do this. But this time I gave away the “table of contents” of what I wanted to discuss with Brandon Webb:

- I wanted to cover Brandon’s ideas on war
- discuss the issue of teaching people to kill people (to me, this is the elephant in the room)
- Brandon was one of the first deployed to Iraq. So I wanted to ask about his ups and downs going to war, coming back and going to war again

 -“Obviously, I don’t want to learn how to be a sniper” I said, “but what I really want to talk about is peak performance.” Both of Brandon's books to talk about this, especially his section on “mental management.” I wanted to learn what tools and habits I need to do today to make myself a master of my own fate. That’s essentially what this show is about… becoming the master of your own fate. “Choosing yourself.”

[30:16] - I needed to know. Islam itself. What is the fight? Is this really a fight of religions? I asked Brandon why radicalism has spread so quickly in the Middle East. He pointed out the economics and the gap between rich and poor. “The social and political situation is not very good… Saudi Arabia, for example, has a very elite royal ruling class but the working population is very poor.” He said people join the fight because they need a cause. They need to belong to something. A military is a tribe. I get this question all the time. “How do I find my purpose?” Some people find their purpose in a fight. In a mission. In a cause… Brandon explained that the people who join these radical groups, or any group, were probably suffering in life. And they wanted to fill a hole in their life. They wanted what any human wants: a feeling of belonging. That’s the powerful force pulling them in. When Brandon was 16, his dad threw him off a boat in Tahiti. Brandon had to find his way back. And eventually he joined the military, became a Navy SEAL and then became a special ops sniper. There were 23 of them and 220 tried out. The question he gets most often is one of ignorance, “How many people did you kill?” But that's not what it's about for Brandon. And maybe that's what separates good from evil. He continued to tell me how radical governments incentives people to join “the cause.” He said they pay you to become a martyr. I couldn't believe it. “Is that true?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said, “As a state sponsor of terror, Iran is funding and fueling the conflict in the Middle East, especially with Israel.” And the Internet makes it worse, too. Brandon tells me how...

[59:03] - Brandon was training people to be peak performers in incredibly high stake situations. It wasn’t just target practice. Someone would be shooting back. He expected each and every one of his students to perform at a perfect level. Eighty and ninety percent was no longer acceptable. I wondered how you could teach someone to perform under these high standards. The key: visualization.

[1:02:30] - “I’ve seen it,” Brandon says, “I’ve seen it while on the firing line. They think about it and then it transfers to behavior.” If someone says don’t flinch, they’re going to flinch. Brandon made up the ranks. His job was to train snipers. And he wanted to start by programming his students with good habits. So instead of focusing on the negative (don't flinch), he focused on the positive (keep your eyes on the target.)

[1:03:52] - “I’ve always been pretty good at math,” Brandon says, but once he started his own business he started to doubt himself. The financial statements were too hard, he was no good at it. He started thinking he “can't”, but he caught himself. And change his self talk. Listen to how he did this in our interview. You’ll also hear how to create the narrative necessary to support it.  

[1:07:26] - Brandon left the Navy. And started his own company. But he didn't know when to let go. It wasn't working out. He lost everything. A month later his wife was asking for a divorce. And the kids went with her. “I had to have the conversation with all his neighbors: “Where'd your family go?" It was embarrassing. He said it was the first time he felt like he really failed in life. I asked how he bounced back. He told me this: “Failure is necessary to being successful in life. There's a big difference between quitting and failure.”

[1:17:14] -We we're talking about gold medalists. And how they have a different mindset. He told me some of the expectations he holds for himself. And how you can create “the mind of a champion” with visualization tactics, hard work and confidence. (He also tells me how someone even gets confidence to begin with.)


Also, if you like today’s show, subscribe! Then you won’t have to check back and you’ll be first to hear new episodes. Thanks! -James

May 23, 2017
Ep. 228 - Matt Barrie: Become a Skilled Freelancer in Today’s Marketplace

I almost changed forever the entire way people define relationships. The word "commitment" would have a new meaning. More babies would be born.

I'm thinking BIG.

Sometimes you want to try an idea and you don't let yourself think about money.

If an idea is good, money is a side effect. Ideas are the real currency.

I met a brand new couple for breakfast. J and K. They told me they just had the "going steady" conversation.

"How'd you guys meet?"

"J-Swipe". Or something like that. I forget. It was an online dating app.

"What does 'going steady' mean when you are both in your 40s?" I asked.

J was in his 40s. K wasn't. I wondered if 'going steady' meant that he gave her a ring or something. There's only so many more 'going steady's you have left in you at that age.

They both pulled out their phones. They were looking at each other's phone and then showing me.

"We deleted all of the dating apps on our phone," she said. But they were both peering at each other's firm.

They needed confirmation.



The "Going Steady" App

Both sides of the couple sign in to the app. Then they select the other person. Then when both sides select each other, the app deletes all the dating apps on their phone.

If they ever download a dating app again, the other side gets notified by email. Or if they "de-select" each other from "Going Steady" then both sides get notified by email.



- Notify FB and Twitter that they are "Going Steady"
- Keep track of anniversaries, gifts, places they go, significant memories, etc.
- Notify friends of anniversaries, etc.


The next day I wrote up the "spec", which was actually just similar to what I wrote above.

I logged into I opened a new project and cut and pasted my Spec in there.

It was weird to read prior chats I had had on the site. Since the last time I had uploaded a project in there was in 2006.

A customer service representative popped up a window and asked if I need help. I said, "Sure, why not?"

Meanwhile, within ten minutes I had about ten people bid to do my project.

I included in the Spec that they had to not only complete the app in 30 days but upload to the Apple store, the Google Play store, and do basic marketing for me.

People were bidding from China, India, and Kenya.

The average bid was $1000. I chatted with each one of them to make sure they understood what I was asking.

My basic test was this question: can an app on Android and Apple detect and delete other apps on Android and Apple?

The customer service representative recommended a developer as well. This developer cost more than $1000. More like $3500. That's ok. I just wanted a good job done.

A small price to pay to change the future of evolution.

I asked this developer the same question.

Some of the developers would not upload to the stores or do any marketing. I crossed them off.

Others didn't seem to understand my question about detecting other apps on the phone. I crossed them out. I didn't want any communication problems with people from the opposite side of the world.

Finally, the recommended developer said, "I know you can do this on Android but not sure on Apple. Let me research."

Five minutes later he came back. "It's impossible to do this on Apple."

We tried to figure out a work-around. Like if the device owner gave permissions, etc.

But there was no work-around.

"Ok," I said, "thanks for your help."

End of idea. End of project.

Total time it cost me: 45 minutes, from writing the spec, logging into the site, creating the project, talking to the developers.

Total money: I paid $29 to have a customer service representative help me.

Success? Failure? Neither.

It was an idea. I did the execution basics to see if I should pursue further. It didn't. But I learned a lot. What it would cost to make an app, I learned a bit more about the Apple store, and I went through the process of trying to find a developer.

Do one "execution step" each day and it compounds into success.

I wrote J. "Remember that idea we spoke about? Here's what I did." And I described.

He wrote back.

"That's the difference between you and me. We had an idea I was a lazy sack of s**t and you went ahead and tried do it."

Meanwhile, he's produced some of the best TV shows of all time.

But I almost changed the worldwide definition of "Going steady". I almost increased the world population.

Some people say, "Almost doesn't count".

But I say, " 'Almost' is is better than nothing. And 'Almost' every day eventually turns into Everything."


Shortcuts - 

[24:20] - The top freelancers on the site are making seven figures a year. And the average job makes $166. Find out what skills they’re using.

[23:28] - Freelancing is changing the way we make money. Now, anyone from any country can earn a living. Matt said, “If you have access to a computer and the internet, the whole world has opened up to you.”

[30:03] - Matt told me the story of how he developed his company. He said he needed to figure out a simpler way how to resolve an annoyance in his gut. I think that’s true for all good businesses.

[31:00] -  In 2006, Matt failed. It was his first business (before For six years he put all his heart and energy into it. “I walked out of that business a broken man,” he said. “I was devastated.” Matt was physically and mentally tired. He thought to himself, “What am I going to do with my life?” In the entrepreneurial journey, this is one of those dark moments. Listen to the story of how his dark moment turned into his most successful business endeavor.

[36:00] - Matt had a "wow" moment. He realized what his next life would be. He figured out how he would reinvent himself. But he had a hard time asking friends for help. He was embarrassed. Hear what he did...

[45:48] - Get Matt’s proven strategies and secrets to increase revenue

[57:19] - AH-HA! This tip was brilliant. Matt told me how to find inspiration for new projects. This is important because inspiration always precedes reinvention.


Also, if you like today’s show, subscribe! Then you won’t have to check back and you’ll be first to hear new episodes. Thanks! -James

May 16, 2017
Ep. 227 - Garry Kasparov: Growing Your Talent, Working with Machines and Becoming the World Chess Champion

Shortcuts - 

[5:40] - I asked Garry, “What separated you from people just as talented?” He interrupted. Finally! I found my match! “Wait, wait wait, slow down,” he said. “‘As talented’ is a stretch.” He said he was lucky. His upbringing made him a champion. “I was born in a family where chess was part of the culture. My father and mother usually spent their winter nights looking at the newspaper chess sections, solving problems. Also, I was born in the Soviet Union so when my talent was discovered, I had an opportunity to be taught by semi-professionals. Then professionals. The framework for my talent to be discovered and to be polished was there.” He said, “You may call that luck, but the talent was quite unique.” That’s how you become a peak performer. You have to pursue your talent and get a little lucky. But it’s never just luck. “As soon as I discovered chess I started moving very quickly.” He beat the kids his own age and older. By age 12 he was the Soviet junior champion. Peak performance comes from talent, luck and an ability to move up in the ranks faster than your competition. How do you do that?

[11:44] - I feel like I’m always trying to figure out my life. I’m always planning. Because I think if I subtract X from my life, add Y, and multiply by 100, I’ll be happy. Garry told me how he takes a step back. He said you need to see the big picture. That’s why he started drawing all his chess matches. After each game, Garry drew the board, he looked at what happened and he saw where he went wrong. “I could feel at at every game, I was getting better,” Garry said. “I was learning.” That’s why I write everyday. It takes my mind out of the equation. I get to see what I’m doing. And how my life is. I stop making moves. And I just breathe. Then I see clearly. The key is to create a ritual of reflection. Writing, drawing. Do something that let’s you see the board. See your life.

[27:40] - Sometimes Garry had ten steps planned out. Other times, nothing. Garry said, “In the cases where you don’t have a clear preference, go with your natural instinct.” 

[34:55] - Garry was beat by Deep Blue, IMB’s “genius” computer. It was the first time a machine beat the human brain at chess. People said it was a revelation. And the end was near. The same thing happened when ATM’s were invented. Everyone thought bank tellers were going away. .And before that the elevator operator was eliminated. People went on strike. “This is a normal development of technology,” Garry said. “If you have something really disruptive, it means it kills jobs before it creates new jobs.” Sometimes jobs are replaced. Sometimes they’re not. As humans our biggest shortcoming is that we let our fear precede any real threat. Machines don’t have fear. But they also don’t have the ability to dream… “We all do have fears,” Garry said. “The question is how do we handle it… I want people to not be afraid of this progress because there are so many things we can bring back if we start dreaming again. By the way machines cannot dream. Even in sleeping mode.” 


Also, if you like today’s show, subscribe! Then you won’t have to check back and you’ll be first to hear new episodes. Thanks! -James

May 09, 2017
Ep. 226 - Jon Morrow: He made half a million dollars in 9 months. This is what kept him motivated

Jon is paralyzed from the neck down. He couldn’t crawl. “My mom noticed I was dragging my legs,” he said. The doctors said he’d die at age two.

But he felt like he had something to contribute to the world. So he became unstoppable.

He started writing for free. “I couldn’t be paid,” he said. If he earned a decent income, Jon would lose his Medicaid.

His reputation as a writer grew. So he started consulting. And made 30,000 dollars in 24 hours. “At first, I charged $99. And 300 people signed up.” He raised his prices. Then built online courses that taught people how to guest-blog and started another “premium” consulting service.

“I made half a million dollars in 9 months,” he said.

The work lets him pay his own health benefits and live life for himself. Now, Jon Morrow is the CEO of SmartBlogger. He helps bloggers increase traffic, improve their writing, and make money. Jon believes any limitation can be overcome, although not easily. His story continues to inspire thousands around the world.

Shortcuts - 

[23:00] - Jon told me how he developed a sense of self worth. Hear how he did it. -

[26:25] - “When I got into kindergarten, another kid called me disabled, and I said, ‘What does that mean?’ And, he started laughing.” Jon’s teacher came over and said, “You don't know what that means?” He didn’t. So he asked his mom. She thought about it and said, “It means you can't do something as well as someone else. But it also goes the other way.” She said, “Everyone in the world can't do something as well as someone else…” So everyone in a sense is disabled. Jon focussed took inventory of his skills. Then he mastered them. Learn how you can hone your abilities, too. -

[29:00] - Jon had twelve job offers after college. But he couldn’t accept any of them. He had to keep his medicaid. And if he exceeded $700 per month, the government would take it away. So he found a loophole. He worked for free. Then years, later Jon asked for favors and ended up making half a million dollars in just 9 months. Find out how he initially did it here. -

[1:11:50] - Jon was paralyzed from the neck down. He needed to reconstruct his reality. “I can only move my facial muscles,” he said. He would’ve went crazy. But he made a new plan. “I started listening to audiobooks and podcasts 4-8 hours a day.” His goal was to spend more time listening to inspirational stories, than he actually spent in his own life. I needed to understand, “Why was that your goal?” He said, “If you spend the majority of your time in worlds where people are accomplishing incredible things, all of a sudden that started to seem normal to me.” Listen how Jon reconstructed his reality -

[1:16:20] - Jon said, “A lot of people are under the assumption they can get whatever they want without trading something that they have. And that’s just not the case.” When he hears a success story, he looks for the price. What did they sacrifice? Money? Sleep? Time? Relationships? Everything has a price. But how do you know what price you’re willing to pay?  Jon tells you how.


Also, if you like today’s show, subscribe! Then you won’t have to check back and you’ll be first to hear new episodes. Thanks! -James

May 02, 2017
[Bonus] - Ryan Deiss: How to Believe in Your Idea Enough to Take the First Step (and Other Business Advice)

I remember sitting at my cubicle job looking at people wondering, “Why? Why are you here? Why are you doing this?” I asked a friend once, “Don’t you think this job is meaningless?”


He said no.


And then I knew what I had to do. I had to quit. And I did (eventually). First I spent time building up my own business on the side.


I don’t know if I’ve ever really believed in myself. I just knew I didn’t want the life I had. Sometimes believing in yourself just means you don’t believe in what you’re doing right now. And you have to change.


Sara Blakey felt this way, too. She woke up one day, looked at her life and said, “I’m in the wrong movie.” Now she’s a self-made billionaire entrepreneur.


But my friend Ryan Deiss said believing in yourself is possible. And I wanted to know more.


He started his first business in college. And made $100K in revenue the first year. He sold eBooks online. “I had books on pretty much any topic,” he said. One was about baby food. Then he partnered with mommy bloggers and sold it to their readers. 


(That’s the formula for a great strategic partnership. Create something useful. Find someone with an untapped audience. Someone who’s talking to the people you want to talk to but who isn’t not offering what you have to offer.)


Now, years later, he’s the founder and CEO of DigitalMarketer. He’s a transformer. He teaches people how to build profitable online businesses.  


He walked me through it. He told me about digital marketing. And how people use these skills everyday to start and grow their own businesses..


Here’s what he said..

Apr 27, 2017
Ep. 225 - Ryan Deiss: College is Irrelevant. THIS is How You Make a Better Future

Over the past five years, I've seen Ryan Deiss rise from a quality entrepreneur to one of the biggest names in Internet marketing. He's the founder and CEO of DigitalMarketer and anybody in the internet marketing space knows Ryan Deiss.

He emailed me at 4am. He said, "I realized the promise that was made to millenials-- the same one that was made to me, and probably the same one that was made to you-- “Go to college. You’ll get a good job," simply isn’t true anymore." 

The old promise is no longer true. But there’s a new promise….

We're going back to a society where mastery matters. And grades don't. 

But still....most parents want to send their kids to college. Have them waste the four years, and even the money. Get into debt. “It will pay off,” they think, even though the data shows incomes for people ages 18-35 have been going straight down for 25 years.

So how do you grow? Invest in yourself. 

Shortcuts - 

 [7:42] - People say you go to college to learn how to be an adults. “The best place to learn to be an adult is to go and get a job,” he said. “You can socialize around peers in the workforce. I met my wife in college. I’m thankful for that, but I think to call your first couple of years college the place where you learn to be an adult is mildly absurd.” 

- [17:45] - Ryan told me the top two things he looks for when hiring a candidate... and it's not a college degree.

- [18:07] - Learn how to add value and move up in any job.

- [25:18] - Ryan has four kids. Sending them to college would cost over a million dollars. But he said he would do it. But he has a few conditions: they have to get a job or internship. They need to test the market. And see if that’s really the right fit for their lifestyle. Hear Ryan’s advice on how to go through college the right way.

- [28:44] - “I think if we acknowledge that a college degree is not a prerequisite to success or happiness in life than we will not as parents, or as kids, or as educators, or as employers, determine that it is a necessary requirement,” Ryan said. We talked about the financial burden on kids and parents. It’s not the best decision to go to a “four-year-long summer camp to find yourself.” There are other options.

- [32:21] - One alternative is an internship. Or apprenticeship. “I believe business owners like myself, like you, (people who hire people), I believe we should carry more of the burden of education on our backs,” Ryan said. “If we’re willing to make that investment, we’ll recruit and retain some of the smartest people in the world.” I was confused. “What do you mean by burden of education?” I said. “Will you take actual time and money to be part of someone’s educational process?” He said “yes.”

-- Hey James here. Thanks so much for listening. If you like the show, subscribe! I have a new episodes every week.


Apr 25, 2017
Ep. 224 - Dave Asprey: Live Like a Biohacker (Activate Untapped Brain Energy, Work Smarter & Think Faster)


Dave Asprey is the creator and bestselling author of “The Bulletproof Diet.” He biohacks health. And discovers innovative ways to live longer, lose weight, increase brain function and evolve better. My brain isn’t hacked (yet). So I needed to talk to Dave. We did a podcast and I asked him “how do you evolve better?”


- [14:00] - Energy is scarce. We get tired. So I asked Dave what he does specifically to enhance his energy levels?

- [21:40] - Aging is scary… Dave told me what he takes every day to slow down the aging process. This is importance because the environment is affecting how we age. We live in WIFI dense areas. We’re constantly stressed. Our diets fluctuate and so on. “We call it aging. Over time, your ability to power your body goes down, and that doesn't have to happen. It is within your control to fix it,” he said. “You can tell the battery in your body to recondition itself and you can give it a better power source. Or you can let it slowly grind down…”

- [39:50] - I never know what to eat. Once time I went on an all fruit diet. Another time I fasted for three days and passed out while playing ping pong with friends. Dave told me what to eat and what to avoid. He even told me which foods are worse than cigarettes.

- [44:40] - “I like to go all in,” Dave said. He told me exactly what he does from the moment he wakes up.

- [53:00] - I asked Dave, “What do we do to evolve better?”  He told me how to take charge of your body and manage stress.


-- Hey James here. Thanks so much for listening. If you like the show, subscribe! I have new episodes every week. 

Apr 18, 2017
Ep. 223 - Scott Steindorff: The Search For Your Own Authenticity

The cocaine made his throat close. “I was about to die”.

He wanted to be an actor. He wanted to be creative. He had dreams. And working real-estate for his father wasn’t one of them. “I didn’t want to come down,” he said.

“Why’d you do it?”

“I really wasn’t happy with myself,” he said. “I believe it was because I wasn’t my authentic self doing what I really wanted to do in my life.”

“Nepotism got me the job.”

And it was killing him. He was suffocating.

Now Scott Steindorff is the producer of “Empire Falls,” “Chef,” (one of my all time favorite movies), “The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Love in the Time of Cholera,” and more.

He’s worked with Paul Newman, Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson, the list goes on.

The other day he called me, a few days after we shot the project, to tell me about brand new projects he was working on  that were different than anything he had done before. He is constantly testing the limits of his creativity.

I wanted to know how he became his “authentic self.” How did he go from being depressed and self-medicated to a successful and happy movie producer?

I wanted to know because I don’t think we ever really know. I think part of self-awareness is never quite getting there but always moving (hopefully) in the right direction. And creativity is something that needs to be  constantly reinvented.

Once creativity stays the same, it is no longer creative. Scott found a way to constantly be creativity. I want to learn how.

“It’s not easy at all,” he said. “You have to do the leg work.”

“What’s the leg work?” I asked

Here’s what he said:



These are the two types of cravings:

a) Depletion: Your body needs something. It can be water, a vitamin or mineral or a change. That’s where reinvention comes in.

b) Addiction: I felt powerless. I was addicted to money. More was never enough. Then I left Wall Street. Because they were the supplier.

Scott wanted euphoria. He craved it.

“I grew up wanting to be a skier and an actor and here I was in an office making money,” Scott said. “I started craving that feeling of euphoria and excitement and passion for life.”

So he started doing cocaine.

“Nobody knew I had a problem,” he said. ” I would do it by myself. So when I checked into rehab, it was a shock to my family.”

The patients had to drink some type of alcohol until they threw up. “By the second day, I said to the doctor, ‘This isn’t working for me. I’m a cocaine addict not an alcoholic.”

He thought they’d try something new. He thought they’d help.


“Well… leave,” the doctor said.

“There was a shift in my consciousness. I went to my room. I cried uncontrollably for 24 hours. All the stress and pressure left me and from that moment on I haven’t used for almost 33 and a half years.”

“What do you mean the stress left you?” I said. I couldn’t imagine. He told me it just left. No explanation. He just saw his own choice. And he took it.

I think most people don’t know what they really want in life.

We talked about adapting. And I said it seems like you have to surrender and be okay with the changes…  even while you’re depressed.

“Isn’t depression a lack of your expression?” he said. I never thought of it that way. Maybe I’m filling one need with sand when I really crave water.



I’m not in a 12-step program, but I want to understand who I am as my authentic self. So I asked what can I do right now?

“Ask yourself questions,” he said. “How Am I feeling? How do I feel about myself, do I love myself, am I feeling less than? Do I feel guilt?”

“But what if you’re lying to yourself?”

“You can’t lie to yourself,” he said. “You’re just denying the truth. If you’re listening to this, it’s coming to the surface. Don’t push it down.”


Step 3: ACT IT OUT

It’s easy to come up with ideas. It’s harder to act on them. I always say, actions are more important than words, which are more important than thoughts.

It’s not about one skill set. It’s about how you meld them together and act on them.

Scott laughed and said, “I have very few skills in life…”

I didn’t quite believe him. He had skills to do real estate. To make movies. To be creative. I have skills.

But we always compare ourselves to what the “next level” is. And I can’t help it. I do it also. So, again, it’s the direction that counts. And fully engaging in the process.  

Scott would surrender. If an opportunity presented itself, and it excited his need for creativity, he would say “yes”.

It never hurts to try the next steps in whatever endeavor presents itself. Try it on like you try an outfit to see if you want to wear it for the summer. See if it fits. See if you love it. And if you do, go all in.

Scott’s story is not about movies, or addiction, or creativity, it’s about knowing the right direction to take the next step.



Scott quit his dad’s real-estate firm.

“Was he supportive?” I asked.

They didn’t talk for two years…

Scott became a millionaire. He was still in real-estate, though. And unhappy. Then the market crashed.

“It crushed me,” he said.

Scott changed careers every five years or so. Now he’s 56. And he’s working on a Joan of Arc movie, a new TV series based in the Bahamas, and a script for “Station 11.”

Any time he liked a book, he’d try to buy the movie rights. Then he’d try to get the movie made. Sometimes it would work. Sometimes it would be a massive success. But always he tried, starting with the simplest step.

The story he told me was a combination of luck, learning skills, building a network, and acting on the intersection of all of the above. But more than anything, it’s being open to surrender. Surrendering to constant reinvention.

Reinvention is a habit not an event.

Apr 11, 2017
Ep. 222 - Ryan Holiday: The Essential Question: How To Live A Good Life

I tried to ruin Ryan Holiday’s life. Fortunately, I failed. I told him to start an agency, build it up, sell it for 10 million dollars and THEN start writing books.

“It’s a good thing you didn’t listen to me,” I said.

But I was wrong. It turned out he took my advice.

“It made me super unhappy and it cost me a bunch of friendships,” he said. “But it’s not your fault. I know there are a lot of things that could make me money, but what I really like is writing. That’s what I want my life to be.”

“So what if you don’t know what you want your life to be?” I asked. “What should you do?”

“That’s the essential question,” he said…


Most writers die penniless. I can’t think of a profession where I can name as many suicides as writing.

I’m jealous of the people who don’t write actually. Making business deals and going to work is so much more profitable than trying to tear your soul apart and put words on a piece of paper most people won’t read.

There’s only one writer in history to become a billionaire. (J.K. Rowling, if you’re reading… come on my podcast!)

So why does anyone do it?

I don’t know. I do it because it’s what I would do if I had nothing again. It’s what I would do with everything. It’s the one thing that makes me feel like I am going places without moving.


Everyone wants to be the hero of their own story. I do. But I chose victim for years. I lost everything and I wanted the world to pick me back up.

I’m not mad at the world for leaving me on the floor. I’m grateful. Because it let me pick myself up. It let me choose myself.

“Stoicism is a practical philosophy and it works,” Ryan said.

“Define ‘works’.”

“At its core, it says you don’t control the world around you. You control how you respond to the world around you.”

He told me about the two most prominent practitioners of Stoicism. One was Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor. He had all the power in the world. His favorite Stoic was a slave, Epictetus, who was banished from Rome by a past emperor.

“You have extreme wealth and power using the philosophy, and it’s helping them,” Ryan said. “And then you have extreme adversity, difficulty and powerlessness using the philosophy and it’s helping them. To me, that’s working.”


People are losing their jobs. And they’re afraid. I asked Ryan if the Stoics have a practice for fear.

He said, “The Stoics call that amor fati, which in Latin means ‘a love of fate…’ You look forward to the bad things because they were made just for you.”


This is the key to all advancement in life. Make your job irrelevant. Burn the bridges behind you.

“You should be trying to make your job or your role irrelevant because what you’re actually proving is that you know how to do things, you know when something is working, and you’re able to come up with the next thing,” Ryan said.

“When an employee comes to you and says, ‘I know my job was to run this marketing department, but over the last 6 months I’ve automated X and Y. I’ve hired someone who’s incredibly talented, sales are up X percent and I don’t have that much to do.’ Your boss doesn’t go to their boss and say, ‘Well how do we get rid of James?” They go, “James is f**king killing it.’”

“That’s how you work through or up an organization,” he said. “No one says, ‘Your book was so amazing Ryan, we don’t need anymore books from you.’ They go, ‘What are you writing next?’”


I was listing the pillars of Stoicism. I wanted to know if I understood.

So I said,

- Integrity, (universal integrity, for example: never lie to get what you want)

- Fairness (Help the people around you. Even if it hurts you. If it helps someone more than it hurts you, it’s just.)

Then Ryan jumped in.

“Temperance,” he said, which means don’t be an addict to some other force. Don’t be an addict to anything.


“John Kennedy Toole killed himself because his book was rejected. That’s so sad to me because then the book won the pulitzer prize,” Ryan said.

I’m always happy when a friend says they like my writing. But I’m exceptionally happy when a complete stranger writes to me and says they like my writing. I don’t know why this is. There’s still a piece of me that craves validation.

So I asked Ryan, given that we still want people to like us, how can you be creative or if you don’t like your job, how can you persevere if you’re seeking other people’s approval?

He told me how he judges his own success. “I’m trying to shrink the amount of people whose approval matters to me.”

He gave an example.

A U.S. Senator wrote him. He said he reads "The Daily Stoic" every day. “I really liked today’s entry,” the Senator said. “It’s exactly what I try to think about for my office.”

That’s the approval Ryan chose. He’s not after 10 million views on Facebook.

“I try to think less about if what I’m doing is popular and more about if what I’m doing is being proven right.”

It’s the same for entrepreneurs. You just need to attract a core group. And offer them real value. Because marketing won’t matter if your product sucks.

Know your scene, know how to help them, and ignore the rest.

The Roman Empire was declining. And Stoicism was rising. “Things were bad,” Ryan said. “But they learned how to accept it.”

They committed to high values and practiced self-reliance. I’ve become my own ruler a few times. Sometimes I was Marcus Aurelius, an emperor. And sometimes I was Epictetus, the slave.

I don’t know what I am now.

Maybe both.

Apr 04, 2017
Ep. 221 - Tucker Max: The Difference Between People Who Succeed and People Who Don't

“You and I both know what happened to you 18 months ago," he said. "If you don’t write about it, you will die as an artist.”

Tucker's sold over 3 million copies of his books. I know I'm going to have to listen to him.

Maybe later.


I’ve known Tucker many years. I can safely, say, I’ve been in the trenches with Tucker.

We’ve both started businesses since then, published books, invested together, and cried (well, I did) together since we’ve met.

In one of the worst personal disasters of my life, Tucker was there. He was there for the beginning, middle, and end.

I always ask myself ‘who is in my scene’?

What’s a Scene?

I consider it:
- the people I learn from
- the people who I can count on
- the people who challenge me to work harder and rise to my potential (and I can do the same for)
- the people I can call when I am confused or troubled, and the people who are there for me no matter what.

Ask yourself: Who is in your scene?


Without a scene, it is much harder to succeed. Ask Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jack Kerouac, Andy Warhol, Sara Blakely and many many others who have risen to the top of their fields throughout history.

Tucker and a few others have been in my scene for years.

So I visited him. Talked reinvention, writing, and his current business success.

Here’s the top five things I learned:


“No one has ever replicated anything I did because they looked at the surface. They didn’t actually understand the underlying input.”

“What do you mean by input?” I asked.

“People look at my writing and they say, ‘I get drunk, I fall down, I yell curses… I’m going to write really arrogant things. Then I’ll get the same attention Tucker Max gets.’ But that never works.”

“I was opening my soul,” he said. “I was being honest. Anybody trying to mimic me forgot the honesty part.” That’s the work. That’s the input.

“If you want to boil it down, people who succeed are worried about input. People who don’t succeed are worried about output.”



Spaces are getting crowded. Anyone can blog. Anyone can make a youtube video. Self-publishing is growing. And they’re handing out podcasts at all the major international airports.

More and more people are getting creative.

More creativity = more competition. So how do you stand out?


“I’m talking about being different, which is not the same thing as being better,” Tucker said.

“When I started writing, I wrote emails for my friends and my only measurement for whether the emails were good or not was whether those nine guys thought it was funny. There was no arguing. If they did, it was good. If it didn’t, it was bad.”

This reminded me of how Craig from Craigslist built his company. Started out with an email, with the sole intention of providing pleasure for his friends.

Provide benefit for the few, and then you can scale to provide benefit for the many.

Tucker found his micro-tribe. And it grew. Because his did this...



People send me articles all the time, "Can you read this?".

I read one the other day. “How to survive a breakup” But the author left out his story.

Advice is autobiography.

Don’t give me advice from the mountaintop. Tell me the story of the struggle.

Of how you were the very reluctant hero, who was called into action for better or worse, who climbed the mountaintop, who now has the knowledge.

Your story is the only test: Are you original?

“I’ll give you a super simple trick to being original,” Tucker said. “Tell the truth. The hard truth that everybody thinks and nobody says.”



Last week I did seven podcasts. I probably asked 1000 questions.

So I asked Tucker, “What’s the skill? How does one become a good writer?”

He had one answer:


Tucker asks himself three questions:

Am I what I think I am?
Am I who I want to be?
Am I good at this or not?

It gave me food for thought. Sometimes the more I work hard at something, I realize the worse I am.

I want to improve.



Tucker destroyed his own movie.

"You will die as an artist," I said, laughing, "if you don't fully write this story."

“I’ll never forget,” he said. “It was the night of my birthday… the night I knew the movie was a failure.”

“Why’d you turn down Justin Timberlake for your movie?”

“It’s embarrassing,” he said.

I said, “Don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone. I'll never write about it. I promise."

“I was convinced the Tucker Max character was going to be huge and I wanted it to be about me, not the actor.”

He was sorry.

But, listen, if only 30% of our decisions are correct, we will have very successful lives. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

And it's how you take a bad decision and later convert it into wisdom that is the true test of future success.

“The same thing that screwed up my movie, happened in my company. This time I recognized it early enough to see what I was doing.”

He decided to step down from CEO of his company, Book in a Box. He still works there. Just not as CEO.

“It was a really hard decision,” he said, “but I knew it was right because as soon as I made it, I felt a thousand pounds lighter.”


Since hiring his replacement as CEO, his business has grown 400% in the past year. “Book in a Box” takes non-writers and helps them get their first book out the door.

It’s a great idea for a business. I wish I had invested.

After the podcast I had the chance to meet the newest baby in his family.

And after that I started to think about how I could avoid dying as an artist.

I need to step up my game.

Mar 28, 2017
Ep. 220 - Matt Mullenweg: Do You Have Your Own Internal "Code"

I have a rule. After every podcast, I write down 10 things I learned. I don't know if anyone else does this. Do you do this? Some people make illustrations. They send me what they've learned. It's a creation of a creation of a creation. A drawing of a podcast of someone's life.


But I broke my rule. It's been over a month. And my brain is digging for the lessons from my interview with the creator of Wordpress. I think I have Alzheimer’s. Matt was 19 years old when he started Wordpress. It was 2003. Now gets more traffic than


The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both use Wordpress. I use Wordpress.


I wanted to know if it’s still worth the time and effort to make your own site. He said it is. That’s how you break out...


"We're trying to revitalize the independent web,” Matt Mullenweg said. He’s 33 now. "It's not like these big sites are going anywhere. They're fantastic. I use all of them, but you want balance. You need your own site that belongs to you... like your own home on the Internet."


This is part of Matt’s code. Not Wordpress’s “code.” Matt’s like a robot. I mean that as a compliment. There are many signs of this: language, ability, he’s very exact.


I had to interrupt. He was talking in code. And it was my job to translate.


He said, "If I send you a unit of work...”


"I don't mean to interrupt,” I said. “I'm a little bit of an interrupter. So I apologize in advance, but you talk in a very code-like language… 'a unit of work.’ How about ‘a task?’ That works as well."


He laughed. And thanked me for translating. The podcast continued.


He told me about his personal code (again, robot).


People have values. Geniuses and other advanced forms of life  have “code.” So here’s Matt’s...

 A) Measure what’s important to you.


Matt wrote a birthday blog. He does this every year to measure what’s changed. It lists how many books he’s read over the past year, countries he traveled to and so on.


He’s very specific.


It’s a measurement of his personal freedom. He can see where time went. And if he chose himself. “You cannot change what you don’t measure,” Matt said.


So this year, I wrote a birthday blog.

 B) Own the work you do

"Other sites provide space,” he said. “They provide distribution in exchange for owning all of your stuff. You can't leave Facebook or Twitter and take all of your followers with you."


That’s why he recommends having your own website. It’s yours. Not Facebook’s. Not Business Insider’s or Huffington Post’s. It’s yours.


When I first started, I picked a template, posted a blog, shared a link on Twitter and within 3-4 minutes I had traffic.

 C) Ignore concern

Matt dropped out of college and moved to San Francisco when he was 20.


“Were your parents upset?”


“They’ve always been supportive,” he said. “But they were concerned.”


That didn’t stop him. He had direction. And when you know where you’re going, you don’t ask for directions.


Sometimes I feel like I’m driving with the wrong address in my GPS. And Siri won’t stop re-routing.


So what I learned from Matt: Reroute yourself as many times as it takes. Reinvent.


Put someone else’s concern for your wellbeing on your gratitude list. But don’t let it stop you. Don’t let it get in the way of your code.

 D) The myth of loyalty

When Matt moved and started his first job, he made more than his dad did.


“I got an amazing salary,” he said.


I kept wondering if his parents were upset. I don’t know why.


“Were they upset?”


He said no. Again. But then he explained. “Learning spreads organically.” And when he moved, it helped spark possibility for his dad.


“He worked at the same company for 26 or 27 years. He more than doubled his salary when he left. It made me so sad. I never want anyone to be in the situation my dad was in,” he said. “He gave the loyalty of decades and they didn’t return that loyalty…”


Why? Because they were following a different code. The “employee code” is not the same as the “employer code.”


I don’t measure much. I try to let my life float by. And I hope to help people feel free enough to live by their own codes too. Like Matt and his dad.


That’s how I measure what’s important to me. Am I supportive? Of myself and of others? If yes, then I’m a mix of creation and evolution. Robot and human.


Code and DNA.

Mar 21, 2017
Ep. 219 - Jessica Banks: Dare of The Day

She said, I am an introvert but had to develop tricks to fake being an extravert because of where I worked.

I said, Do you think everyone in LA is an extravert?

She said, I don’t know. Maybe they are all faking.

We were at a party. I had been sleeping but a friend called me up and said “you have to go this party three blocks away from you.” So I did.

Why? Because why not? Sometimes you know to say no. But to surrender to the moment, if nobody is getting hurt, sometimes you say yes. I went.

It was crowded and I knew some of the people and some of the people I didn’t. I didn’t know her but we were introduced. “You have to ask her for [X} favor,” the introducer whispered to me. But I never got around to the favor.

I said, can you tell me some of the tricks?

I asked because sometimes I feel I don’t really know how to live and look like a normal person.

Sometimes I like being home and writing and reading all day because that passes for human without me having to see, or touch, or talk to anyone. When I go outside, I often feel unhinged. Like I could float away.

So I wanted to know.

She didn’t tell me at first.


Ok, she said, sometimes I would do what I call a “dare of the day”. I would do something that I might be scared to do or was out of my comfort zone.

I said, like what?

She didn’t want to tell me.


She squinted her eyes at my face then touched my cheek and rubbed her fingers together as if pulling something off my face.

I would go up to people, strangers, and pretend to pull a wisp of hair off of their face.

That would freak me out, I said. Both doing it and having some stranger touch my face.

I would do all sorts of things like that.

Ok, I said, I want to try this. Start me off. Tell me more or tell me what I should do tomorrow.

She said, I can’t.

She made a motion with her fingers around her head the way people do when describing someone who is crazy.

She said, Now that i’ve told you this your mind will start working on it. Tomorrow you will wake up and your body will know what to do.

She told me the rest of her story, which was fascinating. Stay tuned for the podcast I hope she agrees to do.

Then I went home. I woke up and I was upset about something that had happened earlier the day before.

My friend Amy then had advice: go and eat pancakes and bacon and photograph it so I know you are eating. You have to prove it to me.

I went. I ate. I photographed.

Then my body knew what to do.

I walked outside and there was a man and his daughter. I held up my hands with palms out, non-confrontational and said, “Good morning!” and they smiled and said good morning back.

I started walking home. I saw a couple holding hands. Palms out, Good morning! And you [the girl] I love your blue hair. And you [the boy] I love your jacket.

A pretty girl crossing the street. Good morning! She turned away and angled away from me as she walked past. I guess it might be taken the wrong way sometimes. Maybe it might not be attractive.

I said to a guy opening up his store. Good morning! He smiled. Hey, good morning, guy.

I said it all the way home. I got home. I didn’t feel down anymore. The sun was coming in. I started to write.

First I wrote the girl from the party and told her what happened.

She wrote back (i’m going to paraphrase), don’t record your dares. That’s why I was hesitant to tell you the dares I did.

Ok, other than this one, I won’t.

She said it will take a few weeks to figure out your boundaries on dares. Both personal and physical.

She said, don’t dare anyone else to do this.

I didn’t understand her reason. But maybe it would affect the way I did my own dares. SO DON’T DO THIS.

I wanted to leave the party but I had one more question.

What did you do after you were working in LA for so long as an assistant.

She said, I went to get a PhD in Robotics at [best school in world for Robotics]. She laughed and I think she said, maybe that was a dare for myself also.

I went home. I went to sleep. And she was right.

My mind was going crazy that night. But in a good way.

Mar 18, 2017
Ep. 218 - Debbie Millman: Create Identity then Impact

Ben (of Ben & Jerry's) was in the room. He needed a logo.

Debbie Millman just started her agency. She was competing against the best ad agencies in New York City.

She lost. So she moved on to Burger King.

"Why do you think you lost?"

"We didn't have insurance," Debbie said. "We didn't have the big, global brand experience to show them."

"I'll never forget this," she said. "When we got to Burger King headquarters, we got into a fairly small elevator with the Senior Vice President of Market Research. The door closes. He looks at us and says, 'Don't get your hopes up.'"

This is important. Because Debbie Millman never describes herself as an entrepreneur.

But she's the perfect example.

Entrepreneurship is about putting your all into something, getting rejected and going back into the next room.  

Data is taking over. Data is replacing thinking and driving the direction of the future. Data sells confidence. And that's what the brands wanted.

Burger King tried changing their logo 7 times in the decade leading up to Debbie's success.

So she did focus groups. And studied eye-tracking on the original logo. "We wanted to know what people thought," she said. "We wanted to get a sense of why this was so beloved?"

"People do not read first. First and foremost, they see color. Then they see numbers, then shape, and then, if you still have their attention and they understand what you put in front of them, then they will read."

A logo is a message. Even if you don't read it. You can recognize logos visually without reading. Our brains know.

Then we choose who we belong to. And that's our tribe.

Debbie was changing the face of an iconic brand. And change causes fear, which strikes up all the stress hormones in our body.

"In order for us to create an identity that was evolving from the original, we had to keep some of those iconic elements."

You're original. As a baby, you were a blank canvas. No logo. No brand. No name. And no identity.

Then you went to school and made friends and things happened to you. Someone asked me, "who will you always be? Who's James? When you're 4, 14, 24, 34, 44, 84, what parts of you will always be there?"

That's what Debbie had to figure out with her brands. She did it with Tropicana, Star Wars, and eventually, she won Ben & Jerry's over too.

But after all of this data, all of this color, all of this branding, at the heart of it is the essence of who you are. What is the logo of your heart.

 Debbie figured out hers. And created her life around it. Figuring out who we are is the key to having an impact all over the world.

 That's what Debbie taught me on this podcast. That's what I try every day to create in my own life.  


Mar 14, 2017
Ep. 217 - Tony Robbins: How to Be Fulfilled: Just Start Asking Yourself These 2 Questions

Tony Robbins stopped by on his birthday. And then he started causing problems. Like he does.

"I realize you're high energy," the audio engineer says, looking at Tony, "but when you bang the table it sounds like the whole room is shaking."

In 220 podcasts, it's the first time the audio engineer had to interrupt in the middle.

"Oh, ok, no problem," Tony says.

"I don't want to stop the passion," the audio engineer says.

"Don't worry, I'll be good," Tony says.

Then the audio engineer went back outside.

Tony kept slamming that table. Outside the room, people thought he was going to climb over the table and beat the S**t out of me. But it was all good.


I felt like I had to keep the energy level high. So pretty soon we were both yelling back and forth.

He was there because of his new book, "Unshakeable". But we spoke about maybe 1000 topics. Not just the financial world.

So let's get right down to it. What did I learn?


This is great for newspapers. They say, "The world is ending!" and they say it EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

And yet it never does. It never did. Even in 2008. The world did not end. The market is at all time highs right now.

The key with Tony's book is he shows these statistics not so you can make money off of them but so you DON'T PANIC.

Markets move. Ignore the news.


Before the podcast I said to Tony, "let's do a fun outtake". I wasn't sure he'd say "yes". We videotaped it (it's on my instagram).

He BRINGS IT. It's so much energy I almost had to stutter out my planned line ("I can't see your face on Skype, only your chest").

And when we did the podcast, I felt like I had to yell and really UP my own energy level at least three levels higher just to keep pace with him. I don't know how he does it.


I asked. How do you do it? I want that energy also.



He finally said, "Enough with the 'how-to'. Don't ask 'how-to' questions".

He said, "Ask What and Why?" What is the Result. Why is your purpose.

"Why are you getting out of bed in the morning? And what are you going to do about it?

"Motive matters and brings energy".

He said, "I love lighting people up." That, he said, gives me the energy.

When I later found out his schedule, not only was he booked every hour that day with different news sources (he started the day by ringing the bell at the Nasdaq) but IT WAS HIS BIRTHDAY.

He brings it.


This is critical for well-being. Don't expect the world to provide you with happiness.

Every time you find yourself slipping into an expectation, change it in your head into an "appreciation". Find the things you appreciate. Then take ACTION.

"It's like a practice," I said.

He banged the table.



I said, "how do you learn new things?"

He said, "Modeling."

I said, "Well, I imagine you look great walking down a runway at a fashion show but seriously."

He laughed and said, "Look, when I went to write the Money book and then my new book, Unshakeable, I didn't just sit around reading the paper.

"I went out with a video crew and interviewed 50 billionaires about how they invest.

"I watch what they do. I study how they think. And I see if I can break it down into chunks so that anyone can follow their process."

In my last podcast with Tony, two years ago, he described how he learned how expert Marines improve their firing skills even though he had never fired gun before. He described almost the same process then.

For me, I know this works. When I want to write, I always read first.

When I want to do public speaking, I watch standup comedians (and singers) first. I want to figure out how the best people in the world do something so I can do it 1/100 as good at the very least.

When I need energy now, I picture Tony Robbins smashing the table and the audio engineer begging me to slow it down.

Well too bad!


"If your happiness requires other people to behave the way you want them to behave, then what are the chances you're going to stay happy in your life?

"You'd have to limit yourself to a small number of humans... who you can control, which is not love."


Learn how to deal with stress. That's the path to freedom. Not the other way around

He gives many techniques. One of them is to learn to appreciate the things around you. But more than that, he says.

Take, "Massive Action". Show people you appreciate them. Take steps forward in a career. Feed your mind. Help someone. Cultivate great thoughts. Strengthen your body. Participate. "You activate your body's chemistry."

"Doing nothing, you learn nothing".

How do you do this?

Again, "How brings in fear". You have to have an emotional purpose. Something more than yourself. Purpose is "why?"

Find a role model so that you realize that what you want is attainable for you.


He said to me, "what are the two things you are most worried about in life?"

No problem. I didn't hesitate. "I constantly worry about going broke and that someone will cheat on me."

He leaned forward.

"EVERYBODY IS WORRIED ABOUT THOSE TWO THINGS!" he said. "That's not your worries. That's the mind's worries. It's in everyone's mind."

Don't bother negotiating with your mind. It's there to protect you but it's used to the jungle from 50,000 years ago.

Find things that are bigger than just you. Make those things your purpose. Your reason for living. They can change. But they will be the things that take you to freedom.

Not your mind.

And, he said, when I am afraid to do something, that's when I do it!


"I had mercury poisoning this past year. I also had a problem with my back that could have been critical.

"But I did a ton of research. I spoke to many doctors and other people with similar problems. I worked on my own issues and did not let them bring me down."

"I am responsible to choose my own happiness," he said.

I think I'm paraphrasing. We spoke about so many things I can't remember everything.

Sometimes when I prepare a podcast, i read so many books, watch so many interviews, jot down so many notes, and get so much nervous energy ready that I feel like it burns like a bright hot light for the entire podcast and then dims once it's over.


Man, it is hard. It's like trying to stop a tank. I think I my "interruption skills" greatly improved during this one hour. I simply couldn't do it at first.

But finally I had to do it. He said, "And then President Clinton called me and..."

I had to yell, "STOP!"

"Will you finally tell me why the hell Presidents call you?"

And he answered.

After Tony left I had to go catch an airplane. About six hours later I finally felt like I was starting to calm down.

At the airport I ran into someone on Tony's team. She said, Tony really enjoyed the podcast.

I don't know if she says that to everyone. But I was happy.

I know I enjoyed it. I know I learned a lot. I know it got me to start thinking again about why I get up in the morning, about what emotional purposeI want to have greater than myself.

It changes every day. But it's there. It has to be.

Today it was: Write this post.

Oh, and run for Governor. But more on that later.

Mar 07, 2017
Ep. 216 - Yuval Noah Harari: A Brief History of The Future

My ancestor from 70,000 years ago was smarter than me. He knew every plant, mushroom, animal, predator, prey in a several mile radius.

He knew how to make weapons. He knew how to capture something, make it edible. I can barely order delivery. And as far as weapons, they say “the pen is mightier than the sword” but I don’t think a tweet is.

My ancestor also knew how to adapt to new terrains, how to handle strangers who could be threats, how to learn who to trust and who not to trust. I wish I had his skills.

Not only that. Archaeological evidence says his brain was bigger than mine. And bigger is better.

To make things worse, another animal made the entire human race its slave. Wheat domesticated us. It forced us to stick around for the harvest, horde up for years when the harvest might be bad, go from a life of a diverse diet to basically all carbs all the time. And it turned us from hunters to farmers.

But it’s not all bad. And the news is actually very good. Probably the books I’ve recommended most in the past five years was “Sapiens” by Yuval Harari. And not only me: it’s Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg’s top recommendation.

And now Yuval has a new book, “Homo Deus” – i.e. where are humans heading? If Sapiens explored the last 70,000 years of human history, “Homo Deus” takes the trends into the future. What will happen next?

The answers are fascinating. And I had even more questions. I couldn’t believe I was finally talking to Yuval after reading “Sapiens” so many times and recommending it on every list and giving the book to all of my friends. And then finally reading “Homo Deus“.

What made humans the only animal to spread across the entire globe? What was special about us? How did we go hundreds of miles into empty water to find Australia for instance? I would never take that risk! And then survive and flourish in a completely new ecosystem, just like we did in North America.

“Fiction,” Yuval told me, and describes in his book. “We created elaborate fictions for ourselves: ‘nations’, ‘corporations’, ‘religion’, ‘crusades’, and perhaps the most successful fiction: ‘money’. So I could use a dollar and some stranger in China can use a dollar and we can trust each other enough to do a transaction.”

So what’s next? “Homo sapiens are going to evolve again.” Yuval said, “Technology is taking us there and technology is evolving much faster than we are.”

I still can’t believe I spoke to him. Five years ago I took his course on Coursera. I was thinking, “how did this guy get so smart?” And now I was talking to him.

And, like I said, the news was not bad.

Here’s what I learned:

1. The economy needs you to invest in yourself

“There’s a change in the nature of the economy from a material based economy to a knowledge-based economy. The main assets in the past were material like gold minds or wheat fields,” Yuval said. “These are the types of things you can conquer through violence.”

That’s how we got California. The US invaded and absorbed their wealth. But you can’t invade and absorb knowledge.

China isn’t going to take over Silicon Valley and absorb all the wealth. “Today, the main asset is knowledge,” he said.

The only good investment you can make for your future is the investment you make in yourself today.

Hone your idea muscle, build a network and a library of mentors, make a commitment to do one healthy thing a day. Because the health of your body impacts the health of your brain.

I try to improve 1% a day. That’s it. That’s how I invest in myself.

2. Explore Internal realities vs. External realities

Resources today are different. They’re abstract.

Yuval said, “The source of wealth in California today is knowledge, in the mind’s of engineers and technicians and CEOs. And you just cannot conquer it by force.”

That’s one of the reason’s why Yuval says, “You see a decline in international violence.”

The other reason: weapons are too powerful.

“Nuclear weapons have transformed war between superpowers,” he said. War today is “collective suicide, which is why we don’t have such wars since 1945.”

Terrorism is different. Their weapon is fear. Yuval calls it “psychological menace.” But he’s really concerned about them in our future.

“Terrorists function by capturing our imagination, turning our imagination against us, and causing us to overreact,” he said.

“In a way, a terrorist is like a fly that tries to destroy a china shop. The fly is so small and weak. It cannot move even a single teacup. So how does a fly destroy a china shop? The fly finds a bull, gets into the ear of the bull and starts buzzing. The bull becomes so enraged that it loses its temper and destroys the china shop. This is what happened in the middle east over the last 15 years,” Yuval said.

“Al-Qaeda could never destroy Iraq by itself. It got into the ear of the United States and the United States went wild and destroyed the middle eastern china shop for Al-Qaeda. This is how terrorism functions. And if you want to fight terrorism you should start with your own imagination.”

For me, this means understanding that ideas are currency. Becoming an idea machine, writing ten ideas a day, so you get the new ‘weapons’ of Sapiens, is the key.

3. We’re going from “humanists” to “data-ists”

In 500 years we might not be dealing with humans at all.

Look at Amazon for example. They tell us what to buy. We don’t ask our friends. We ask data.

“Given the advances of bioengineering, brain-computer interfaces and so forth, I think it’s very likely that within a century or two homo sapiens will disappear and be replaced by a completely different kind of being,” Yuval said.

He says bioengineering is just one possibility. Another is we start connecting brains and computers to create cyborgs.

This isn’t science fiction. It’s already happening.

I’m sort of scared and sort of excited. We went from tribes to villages to cities to kingdoms to empires to “isms” to…data that will unite us.

The next step in our evolution. The final frontier.

Feb 28, 2017
Ep. 215 - Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal: How Flow Helps You Step Outside Yourself and "Do The Impossible"

Imagine going on a swing as high as you can. Then going higher. Then going so high you loop around.

I get scared thinking about it.

Sergey Brin, the founder of Google, did it the first time he tried. Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal were training people at Google how to get into the state of FLOW. Sergey volunteered.

What is Flow? The state where your brain and body loses all sense of time and you retreat into this perfect area of creativity and productivity.

A state where Steven and Jamie have spent years trying to hack and re-create at will. And this is what they’ve done.

I was talking to Steven Kotler, who’s been on my podcast a few times and Jamie Wheal. They co-authored “Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work.”

It’s sort of a sequel to “The Rise of Superman” all about “flow” in action sports.

Steven said. “It’s the moments of total absorption where you get so focussed on the task at hand that everything else just disappears, action and awareness merge, your sense of self disappears, time passes very strangely and all aspects of performance, mental and physical, go through the roof.”

But when I read it I thought, “Where are the chess players?” Where are the creatives?

Programmers get into flow. Musicians, athletes, artists, all sorts of people get into flow.

The question was “how?” I am selfish. I wanted to know for myself: HOW?

So I read “Stealing Fire.” It’s about all the ways you can get into flow and other “optimal states of consciousness.” It teaches you how to step outside yourself, have a 500% increase in your performance, functionality, creativity and have satisfaction.

I had to find out, what are the triggers to get into flow?

They said “risk.”

“Life or death?” I asked.

“You need risk, but it’s definitely not physical risk,” Steven said. “The brain can’t tell the difference between social fear and physical fear.”

Steven and Jamie figured this out when they went to Google to experiment on Sergey Brin’s brain (Google’s founder). They built a swing that loops 360 degrees around and covered him in EEG sensors. You’d have to pump your legs and use all your strength to gain the physical and mental momentum to go in a full circle.

“My ten year old daughter crushed it,” Jamie said. “She did 35 loops in 60 seconds, which is nudging the world record.”

Only a few people actually made it all the way around. Sergey’s one of them.

It takes intense focus. You have to overcome your fear and stay in the moment. You have to use risk to your advantage.

“Anything that drives attention to the current moment drives flow,” Steven said.

It’s not just swings. It’s not just “smart drugs” or “extreme sports”.

On the podcast, Steven and Jamie give a range of techniques and ideas for how to get into flow.

I want in. I want in ALL of the time.

They have a quiz on their website ( that tells you your “flow profile.” Over 50,000 people have taken it.

On the first company I started I once disappeared into my office and programmed for about 24 hours straight. Completing a month’s project in one day’s time.

We kept that client for life, even when we sold the company.

Flow not only feels good, creates increased productivity and brain function, it’s also a key skill to compete.

I hope I can get back to that state again. Today.

Feb 21, 2017
Ep. 214 - Cass Sunstein: The World According to Star Wars

I want to be a Jedi Knight. The idea of surrendering to some “force” greater than oneself. The idea of being in touch with some essence that can bring out my full potential in way that I could never possibly understand.

When Cass Sunstein, genius economist (author of “Nudge“, 40 other books, does Nobel-prize level research) wrote “The World According to Star Wars“, I knew I had to talk to him.

I reached out to everyone I knew, found a way to get ahold of Cass, who wasn’t doing any interviews on the book, and managed to book some  time with him.

I’ve written many times before about the effect Star Wars has had on my life.

But I was also interested in the phenomenon of Star Wars, a topic Cass writes about. In particular, why was it a hit?

George Lucas is the living breathing manifestation of “idea sex”. He takes concepts that worked in the past, meshes them together, and knows the combination will work.

For example: think of a blonde-haired young man who has to reluctantly save the world from an evil galactic empire, uses laser powered swords and blasters, and meets a beautiful princess along the way.

If you think “Flash Gordon” you’d be right. What you might not know is that George Lucas tried to buy the rights to the old TV serial “Flash Gordon”. He wanted to make the movie. He was rejected so he made Star Wars.

Or you might think Joseph’s Campbell’s “The Hero With a Thousand Faces”, which George Lucas studied religiously before writing the script to Star Wars.

Or you might think…any of a dozen influences George Lucas had and meshed together. His idea: to take the familiar, provide his own twists, and release. If the old influences were hits and he just changed one aspect (make a Western a Space Opera) there’s a good chance he would have a hit.

Cass Sunstein explores: what makes a hit? What makes a failure? What makes something a hit after it’s been dead for years (example: Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” didn’t sell at all while he was alive and is now considered one of the best-written books of all time).

This is a topic I am obsessed with. Combine that with the topic of “Star Wars” and now Cass Sunstein has written a book I am obsessed with.

We found a room to hide in and we spent the next hour laughing and swapping notes on the relevancy of The Force in today’s world. We didn’t talk economics, world history, behavioral psychology or any of the topics he is one of the best experts in the world in:

We talked about what makes stories go viral. We talked about how much we enjoyed this cultural hit that changed generations.

We were two kids talking about our favorite movie.

Feb 16, 2017
Ep. 213 - A.J. Jacobs: How to Connect With The Greatest Network in The World

My first podcast is 24 minutes long. It’s just me. No guest. The topic: “Why College Is a Waste of Time.” Then I did one about my book “Choose Yourself.”

One week later, I got 30 minutes with Robert Greene. Then an hour with Tucker Max, an hour with Gary Vaynerchuk, and an hour with AJ Jacobs.

A month later I interviewed Dr. Wayne Dyer. Two months, Arianna Huffington. Six months, Mark Cuban.

I didn’t have an editor or a microphone. Three years later everyone has (or should do!) a podcast.

It connects me with people I never thought possible. Or in AJ Jacobs’ case, it connects people with family they didn’t know existed. That’s the theme of his new podcast, “Twice Removed.”

“The good news is once you realize that everyone is family, you can just choose,” AJ said. “So you’re not stuck. You’ve got the whole world to choose from.”

His first guest was Dan Savage, the sex columnist for “The Village Voice.” In the other room, AJ had a secret guest, a relative 41 degrees removed from Dan.

Along the way, AJ unravels the 41 connections. He had Dan in tears.

“We’re all connected,” AJ said. “People have called genealogy the museum of me. We all see the world through our own lens.”

Here’s what I learned from AJ’s lens…

1. Start with X

When I first started doing an interview podcast my audience size was X. Then I improved the quality and my downloads went to 3X.  In the case of “Twice Removed,” “Start Up” and “Freakonomics” adding production makes it 10X.

“For every minute that makes the air there are hours that don’t,” AJ said. “You can make 18 different shows using the same material.”

The key is to do the best with what you have today. It cost $0 to make “The James Altucher Show.” And I got to do what I never dreamed possible for the first 40 years of my life.

2. Show the truth

The arc of a good story starts with a problem. Luke Skywalker wanted to explore but he couldn’t until his aunt and uncle were killed by stormtroopers. Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed in the first few panels of Batman.

You need a problem to kickstart an otherwise reluctant hero.

“I love to tell my kids about my family's failures,” AJ said. “Honestly, I think they think I’m total loser.”  

AJ told me about an Emory University study. It showed kids adjust better when they’re told about their family’s failures.

“There’s the narrative of ‘We were always successful’ or ‘We’re always losers.’ Families are oscillating,” AJ said. “You go through times where things are going well and times when it’s total failure. Tell your kids about the struggles your family has undergone and that you emerged ok… that you survived.”

Give yourself permission to have an imperfect life.

3. Surprise Yourself

AJ learned this from a writer at “The Daily Show.” “He talked about how important it is to surprise yourself and make yourself laugh,” AJ said, “which at the time I didn’t really understand.”

So he tested it.

“As you’re writing, take a left turn that your brain didn’t expect.” He does this in “Twice Removed.” And in our interview.

He told me about an experiment he did with his wife. They filmed 24 hours of their day for weeks. Every argument was caught on tape. And they checked it frequently to see who was right.

“It was bad either way,” he said. “Because if I was wrong I looked like an idiot, but if I was right she would just get angrier.”

So they quit that experiment. And he started a new one: “Twice Removed.”

Feb 14, 2017
Ep. 212 - Anna Koppelman: How to Find Your World... Where You Belong

Anna Koppelman is an angel. She’s the angel I wish I had looking over me  back when I was being bullied.

When I was a kid, it was “Lord of The Flies” on the playground. Nobody cared at all. Kids would kill each other at recess and whoever survived went back to class.

But it’s different now. Bullying is a thing. It has a voice. And there’s a way out of the world of “you’re not good enough” and into the world where you belong…

I read an article on Facebook that was going viral:"What I know Now As a Teen With Dsylexia."

Anna Koppelman wrote it. Then she kept writing.

When I read the article, I thought Anna was one of those alien millennials taking over the world. But even worse, she’s not a millenial. Ever since birth she’s been on the Internet. She’s an eleventh grader. Which makes her 17 or so. Generation Z… it’s a totally different animal.

Anna started a charity when she was 12 years old. At 14, she asked the Huffington Post to publish her work. They said yes.

Then she wrote about dyslexia, bullying, intelligence, her crushes, her rejections, and each article felt like it was going a level deeper. Her writings were read everywhere by teens who had been through similar experiences.

I wish I had this as a kid. A world where I could talk to people going through what I was going through. A way to connect to my “tribe”. Or a way to reach out to people and we could all figure out we weren’t alone.

“I couldn’t not say it,” she said. “I had this feeling at school and in my life of just not being able to connect with people… I had a feeling of isolation since first grade, like there was Saran wrap between me and the rest of the world.”

Here’s what I learned from Anna Koppelman about finding out where you belong…

1. Figure out another way

When Anna’s “friends” discovered she couldn’t read, they laughed. “You’re not smart enough to be our friend,” they said.

She was pushed out of the tribe.

But then she learned from a moose.

“I was watching the children’s show, ‘Arthur.’ And there was this kid on there. He was a moose. He had dyslexia. So I turned to my parents and said, ‘I have dyslexia.’”

“How did this moose exhibit the dyslexia?”

“It was all just about the same feelings that I was feeling… where he was behind in his class, but he had all these great ideas he wanted to get out but couldn’t. And the feeling of being trapped because there’s something in your brain that’s processing differently.”

But she found another way. And learned how to read. But kids kept making fun of her. For the next 10 years.

“I just wanted to connect with people,” she said. “When I would write, I would be able to connect with people. When I would perform poetry, I would be able to connect with people.”

“What do you mean perform poetry?”

I was confused.

Because it sounded like her life was miserable at school. And instead of going to school with the eye patch and going straight home, she’d head back out to go read slam poetry in front of a dozen+ strangers.

“What made you do that?”

“I knew that no matter how awful school was there was a world outside of school and I just needed to find that world.”

2. Use your skills

Anna started out writing about her interests. People spend years writing about things outside themselves.

I did too.

But for years I was afraid to write about the things that really scared me, or drove me, or kept me up at night. I was afraid to write about the things that shamed me. Or I was afraid because I wondered what people would think.

So I wanted to learn, what did Anna, at age 14, do differently?

Start with craft. Write everyday. Use your brain. Develop your analytical muscle. Build your skills.

Talent is the ignition in the car. Many people have talent. Many people never turn on the car. Many people never drive the car to get to their destination.

Skills are just talent in its infancy.

3. Create from one layer deeper

I asked Anna about courage. A lot of people want to change their lives. But few take next steps .And I feel that even fewer young kids, dying to fit into their close-knit world of school and popularity, take those next steps.

I wanted to know what triggered that point. “How did you hit publish? Weren’t you afraid?”

“I didn’t have any friends,” she said. “I was eating lunch alone pretty much everyday. I was just in a really sad place. And the kids in my grade were really mean to me. I just felt that there was no real happiness. But when I would sit down and eat lunch alone, I would start to write in my notebook or I would write on my computer.”

She didn’t know the risk.

And in a strange way, these horrible experiences helped her become the writer she is today.

“The things that have happened in my life,” she said, “got me to a place where I have more of an ability and belief in myself…”

The transition came when she revealed her scars. She showed the deepest sides of her struggle. And bled on paper.

Only by taking risks can a person unleash the hidden talents inside.

Vulnerability bleeds. And connects you to the world… your world. It connects you to where you belong.

4. Always be kind

A boy at school tricked her. He was always mean. But she thought things could change. “I was throwing parties for children in need,” she said. “I had been doing it since middle school.”

He said he wanted to throw a bake sale for Birthday Fairies.

“And I believed him.”

He got all the popular kids to “help.”

“Then the day of the bake sale came. None of them baked anything and they all just kind of laughed.”

“This is like Steven King’s ‘Carrie. Did you psychically spill blood all over them?”

She didn’t… I guess angels don’t spill blood on people.

Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to be a kid now. For my entire life since birth to be connected up to a much bigger world. I’m jealous of the kids born now. How they can turn to this global tribe to develop their talents.

But it’s not connectivity that makes you a better person. Or connects you to better relationships. Or builds up your latent skills. Or helps you find your passions.

No matter who you are, it’s taking those next positive steps, those first risks that turn talent into skill, those first vulnerabilities that connect you to others – this is the key to unleashing that bigger world, that brings you to a tribe bigger than who you are.

This is what I learned today from Anna.  

Feb 09, 2017
Ep. 211 - Sara Blakely: How To Get a Billion Dollar Idea

Sara Blakely is weird. I wish I could think like she does. I want to be weird like her.

"I look at any object and try to think of any use it has other than what people had planned for it."

And then she acts on it. She sees a pair of pantyhose, cuts off the feet (why not?) and creates a multi-billion dollar company, Spanx.

She sees her 9 month pregnant belly and paints a basketball on it. And then inspires hundreds of other women to do the same. Creates a book out of it: The Belly Art Project, and donates the proceeds to charity.

"All my life I was taught how to deal with failure," she told me. "My dad would ask us at the dinner table every night: how did you fail today?"


She got comfortable with failure at an age when every other kid wants to get an A+ at everything.

She got comfortable embarrassing herself. For two years she tried to be a standup comedian. "I wasn't very good at it."

Practice embarrassing yourself...

Ready. Fire. Aim.

She got a huge order from Nieman Marcus even though she didn't have the inventory or the production ready.

She said, "YES!". Then she figured out how to get the order filled.

Oprah listed Spanx as one of her "favorite things" of 2000. Oprah wanted to film her office. Sara had no office.

She said, "YES!". Then she got an office and filled it up with people.

Say YES! Then make things happen. Don't argue yourself into failure.

Excuses are easy. Saying "yes" and then executing is hard.

Get your thinking time.

"It takes me five minutes to drive to work," she told me. "But I take 45 minutes. I use that time to think."

It's important to think. To be creative every day.

This is how she comes up with non-stop ideas to expand her brand, expand her products, and work on other projects.

I suspect this is the secret for how she always sees things differently. Being creative is a practice. It's not lightening from above.

It's taking the long route when you could've taken the short route.

Purpose = Infectious salesmanship.

While I was talking to Sara she used the word "empower" several times.

Spanx clothes gives women more confidence. Empowers women. The Belly Art Project empowers pregnant women.

It seems like there are three parts to a project that leads to master salesmanship.

- the higher purpose for it. This gets people excited.
- the actual product and its benefits.
- execution

Combine all three and people will get infected with your passion for your ideas. Sara was unstoppable.

Don't volley.

Don't engage with the people who want to argue with you. That's time wasted when you can be creative.

Don't invite ego in the door.

Once you've worked on your project, have passion for it, started it, be willing to take suggestions and listen to people.

Ego can kill a project and close the door on good opportunities.

Be aware of you mortality.

Sara was selling fax machines for five years before fully launching Spanx.

She could still be selling them if she never started.

If she listened to all the people who tried to dissuade her.

If she became afraid of the multi-billion dollar companies that could have easily squashed her. Except they didn't. She was one person and they were billions. But they lost.

We are here only this precious small amount of time. Make every moment a work of art. Make every moment move you one step forward towards your dream and purpose.

Invent a new undergarment even if you had never made clothes in your life.

Get 100s of women to paint their pregnant bellies and then raise money for charity with the idea.

"EVERYTHING IS A CANVAS," she told me.

Which makes everyone a potential artist. What a great way to look at life.

But I can't!

Why not?

For anything you want to do, for anything that excites you, take the time to figure out the next step. Ready. Fire. Aim.

Just why not? Why not?

Feb 07, 2017
Ep. 210 - Daymond John: How to Create Your Own Point Of View & Build A Following
He is exactly one year younger than me, almost to the day. So we could've even grown up together. We had similar interests in music. He could've taught me sewing. I could've taught him how to play chess.
But, to be honest, he worked harder than me. He stood on a corner and sold hats. Then he sold t-shirts. Then he would go to work at Red Lobster all night. Then back to school the next day.
I was lazy as a kid. I couldn't work so hard. Six billion dollars later, Daymond John sits atop the FUBU fashion empire and I think to myself, "He's one year younger than me."
Do you ever feel that: jealousy? Or if not jealousy, then maybe regret? Like there's so many things you could've done...if only...
The good news is, "if only" has two answers: "You didn't do it then." And..."Start today."
There's never any rush. If today is the day you can start enjoying something, start making money from it, start combining all of your interests into career that lasts one, five, ten years....then today is the day you should do it.
I've interview Daymond before. We covered a lot of his background and how he started when I interviewed him about his book, "The Power of Broke."
But on this interview I learned some new things.
Many people are unhappy in their jobs. I hear it every day from people. I get emails every day about it.
But you can't start a business in a second, or a month, or even a year.
Daymond worked at Red Lobster for SIX YEARS while he was getting FUBU off the ground. He didn't want to take a chance.
Why not? One might ask.
It's scary. If you leave a job for a new business and it doesn't work out, how will you pay your bills? I stayed at my job at HBO for 18 months after I started my first business before I would make the leap. I was really scared.
You don't leap until you can take away as many of the risks as possible.
While Daymond was working at Red Lobster and selling hats on the street, his friends were losing their lives selling drugs.
I was reading recently about Charlie Munger, Buffett's #2 man at Berkshire Hathaway and one of the richest men in the world.
He started a hedge fund in 1973. The worst time ever to start a fund. And, if I remember correctly (I refuse to Google), he was down 20-30% the first year. And then 20-30% the second year. And then he fought back and ended up making money for his investors.
Another man, probably in a very similar situation, was Bernie Madoff. We don't know exactly what happened but the theory is that when he was down he was too ashamed to tell anyone and turned it into a massive fraud.
Character is destiny. The choices you make today are your biography tomorrow.
Daymond refused to let the opinions of others veer him off his path. He worked hard, stuck to his uncool job while he pursued his passion. And made it work.
Critical to Daymond's success. Make the company more than just about you. Make it about the community. Then it has a life larger than "Daymond John." You create something people are willing to share.
How did he do this?
  • Name - "FUBU" means "for u, by us". BAM!
  • Friends - Daymond got his friends to wear it. Then their friends wanted to wear it. And so on. That's real marketing. Don't even think of advertising your product unless PEOPLE ARE FIRST DYING TO SHARE IT.
  • Authority - LL Cool J grew up down the street from Daymond. Daymond didn't know him but he started pursuing him, asking him to wear a FUBU product in one of his videos. LL probably didn't even know who this kid was. But then he saw other kids wearing the clothes. And he responded to the name. So he started wearing FUBU in his videos. BAM!
  • Shows - Daymond started going to all the Hip hop fashion conventions. The Magic convention in Las Vegas. He met his peers in the clothing business. They didn't know him as a kid from Queens. They just knew his products. They knew that LL Cool J was wearing them. He built his network with his peers.

Note that in all of the above he didn't spend ONE DIME on ads but he had millions of dollars worth of free advertising.

This doesn't come out of luck. That comes from every day...


People mess this part up a lot. There's not one "destiny" that we are meant to figure out and do.

Maybe Daymond John loved hip-hop music but wasn't a good musician. Maybe he loved clothes. Maybe he loved selling. Maybe he loved seeing LL Cool J wear a hat he made.

We don't really know. There are too many factors. We do know, though, that once he got through the hard parts of the business and it was really starting to roll, that, as Warren Buffett would say, he "skipped to work every morning".


This is the most important factor. I've interviewed 200 successful people so far for my podcast, give or take, and this is the one factor they all have in common.

Daymond got ready (he made the clothes, he saved money, he didn't quit his job, he built community).

And then something happened that was game-changing. If you stick to something long enough and it's growing and you feel that people are loving  what you do, then something game-changing will happen.

Macy's placed a $400,000 order (at the MAGIC fashion show).

Daymond didn't have the money.

Now was the moment when you can take risk. He and his mom mortgaged his mom's house for $100,000. He had to make 15,000 items. He got the fabrics. He filled up his house with seamstresses, and he fulfilled the $400,000 order.

Then he returned the $100,000 out of the profits.

He quit his job at Red Lobster. He was in business now. He was in business for life.

Feb 01, 2017
Ep. 209 - Bobby Casey: Never Feel Broke Again and Travel the World (Forever)


I heard an eight-year-old kid tell another eight-year-old that he's not welcome in his home. He said "Trump or Clinton?"




And that was that. They kept walking. Kept debating and I bet nothing happened. I bet they're still friends.


Some people are either all talk or afraid.


Or both.


I try not to be either. I try to listen, come up with ideas, and be grateful. Because if I listen, I learn. And then I can say two sweet words, “thank you.”


How many people said, "If Trump becomes president, I'm leaving the country." Or the other way around?


There's only one reason why I’d ever even consider packing. And Bobby Casey spelled it out for me.


"Americans don't understand how insanely expensive it is to live in the U.S.," Bobby said on my podcast.  He sold everything he owned and left the country in 2009. Right after the market crashed. Now he works all over the world. And helps people get off the grid.


I wanted to know how he did it.


And why...


"I hated my customers," he said. "I hated my employees, I hated my job, I hated my business."


"But what made you think you could sell all your belonging and travel the world forever?"


"Weren't you scared you would run out of money?"


"I just knew I'd work it out," he said. "I'd make some money."


I couldn’t do it. It’s easy to be uncertain when you’re level of unknown isn’t going to erupt your central nervous system.


But Bobby had motivation.


“My happiness and my quality of life is much more important than cashing out on a business,” he said. “I didn’t care. I wanted to be happy again.”


So he got rid of everything. He gave away motorcycles. (He had 27). Then he bought two one-way tickets to Prague. One for him. And one for his 9 year old son.


“We’d never been there.”


The rest of his family moved a few weeks later. He has three kids.


"What about friends? And school?" I asked.


"My daughter, she's 20, she's a rapper in London. She did two years of virtual school. And she can make friends anywhere. It’s her personality type.” His other two kids enrolled with locals.


I had 100 questions. "How'd you get the confidence? What type of freelance work did you do?" “How did you make ends meet?”


He broke it down for me. And told me all the ways he saves money living abroad.


I did the math on this,” he said. "You won't believe this, but I pay $42 a year for a 10,000 euro deductible health insurance plan."


Anything after 10,000 euros, he's covered. "I could get airlifted to John Hopkins if I wanted and that would be covered."


"You can make about $150,000, tax-free, as an American living abroad." Here’s how Bobby explains it on the podcast...


If you make $100K (gross) in the U.S, then you’re probably netting less than $60K. Abroad, you can make the same $60K (net), live tax-free (if you qualify for the “foreign earned income exclusion”), get a housing allowance, pay $42 a year for health insurance, and basically never feel broke again.


I was getting depressed. Because I know I’m not going to move. It’s part of being human. Everyone I look up to, Scott Adams, Dan Ariely, Nassim Taleb, they all say the same thing: people are irrational creatures. Even the idea that we’re being rational, is irrational.


Every time Bobby spoke, I had 10 new questions.


I thought I'd never understand. But then he gave me his secret. And it answered all my questions.


It was so simple. I couldn't believe it.


Bobby and his son were walking around Estonia. They left Prague, bought a house and had no plans.


Someone overheard them speaking English.


“You’re American?”


They started talking. “What are you planning to do for your kids for school?”


Bobby had no idea.


“I have a son who’s your son’s age. We found a really good school up the hill. There’s a meeting tonight for foreigners who want to enroll their kids.”


That was it. Then Bobby told me his secret…

“I figure it out as I go.”

Jan 26, 2017
Ep. 208 - Ken Kurson: What Will Trump Do As President? We Hear From The Expert

Social media is a bloodbath.


Trump. Hilary. Walls. Genitals. Crooked this or Deplorable that.


There's two things I know:


1)  I choose whether I am happy with a situation or not. Whether I am "free" or not. Nobody else can choose that for me unless I give them permission.


If a situation (call it X) happens that I don't like, I ask myself: is the world better with X and me in it. Or with X and "no me".


All I can do is have impact on the people around me. And if it's worthwhile impact, if it's the sort of impact that helps people and creates positive change, then those people around me will share it with the people around them.


That's how things get done. That's how one "votes" with their life every single day. No excuse.


2) I'm not the smartest person in the room.


If a situation happens that I don't understand, I don't pretend to understand it. I don't go ahead and act like I understand it.


I have no clue.


So I ask the smartest person in the room. I ask the people who know more than me. I ask people I respect who might have opposing views.


The world has many opposing views. And I admit that I don't understand all the facts. I ask people who have more facts than me. Who have studied more than me.


Do I automatically agree with them? It doesn't matter. They feed my brain. I know they will because I already trust them to think carefully about an issue and I trust their years of experience.


Then I think. Then I decide.


Does it change what I do?




I do what I do. I try to keep having impact in the way that I know best. I want to be a free person. This doesn't mean rich. Which often entangles me too much in the addiction of having more and more.


Nor does it mean have everyone love me. Because that is also is something outside of me that is out of my control.


Freedom means I can make choices. Freedom means I can make as many choices as possible to live the life I want to live.


I wanted to learn more about what a Donald Trump presidency might mean. There is so much blood shed trying to force me to have one opinion or the other, I decided to call one of the smartest people I know.


Ken Kurson shed some light for me on things that were confusing me. Do I have to agree with everything? No. I am free not to.


But I learned. Which is always the best thing I can do.



Jan 24, 2017
Ep. 207 - Chris Smith: Did you ever wish you were them? Your Heroes?

“We all lived through it. But one fun or interesting realizations I came to in reporting the book was... Can we curse on your podcast?”


“Yeah. Anything goes.”


“... Is just how much shit happened in the world between 1999 and 2015.”


Chris Smith is the author of The New York Times bestseller, “The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests.”


He interviewed 144 people, including the host Jon Stewart, Craig Kilborn, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and so many other people.


“You know, Jon Stewart’s a guy who had an upper-middle-ish class upbringing in New Jersey, went to William and Mary, came into comedy sideways. He wasn't sure exactly what he was going to do after college.”


I needed to know how Jon Stewart did it. How he redefined Late Night. How he broke out and rose to the top of comedy. And how he used humor to disrupt it all mainstream media, mainstream politics, the news.


“He would wear the same thing in the office everyday: a pair of work boots, a pair of chinos, the same t-shirt, the same Mets hat. And well, they’d rag on him about being a slob. There was—and not to get cheaply psychological—something Jon was communicating… He was simplifying a lot of the extraneous stuff and getting to work.”


Here’s what I learned from Chris Smith about comedy, change and the combination that changed the world:


1) Ask the right questions

Jon showed up every day and asked, “What was in the news? What's funny about it? What's our point of view?”


Everyday, I ask, “Who can I help today?” It keeps me open to the day. It gives me a fresh perspective. That’s part of reinvention.


Always looking. Always starting over. Always asking, “What’s missing here?” And then filling that gap.


2)  Change the format

Jon did a “Bush vs. Bush” segment.


First you see a clip of Governor Bush talking about Iraq and saying, “We're not here to nation-build.” Then you see Bush as president saying the complete opposite. "We're going to nation-build in Iraq."


Jon didn’t point out the hypocrisy. He could’ve. But that wouldn't have been funny.


Instead, he played dumb. He pretended he didn’t know it was the same person contradicting himself.


That’s what made it funny.


He removed knowledge from the situation. And got the attention of millions. Eventually, making real change. They even had an effect on some big issues.


“They made an eight or nine-minute mock detective movie. They took one veteran and tried to trace his paperwork through the Veterans Administration. They kept running into ridiculous roadblocks, but it was also moving. It gave you a sense of how much this guy was going through to get medical care,” Chris said. “That ended up shaming the Veterans Administration and changing a lot of those rules and regulations.”


He also transformed media.


“Loosely,” Chris says.


But, in old media you couldn’t find the truth like you can today. It would take weeks of research. Now with the Internet you can search and find anything. And turn it around in 24 hours.


Chris talked to Anderson Cooper. He said the mainstream media world was always aware of “The Daily Show.” They didn’t want to get made fun…


“And, inevitably, you did.”


3) Ignore the traps

“You've got, in many cases, a lot of ambitious, competitive, eccentric people,” he said. “You put them in a room and give them a deadline and that can lead to a lot of clashes.” But Jon didn’t get stuck in the trappings of show business.


Which is easy to do in any career.  


But if you use your idea of how things could be to fuel creation, you get a leg up.


You get “The Daily Show.”


4) Live in two worlds

“What about when you were writing the book? Did you ever wish you were them? Did you ever feel like, ‘I'm covering them, but I want to be them’?”


I knew my answer. And Chris’s answer was more or less the same.




“In some fantasy world... sure.”



Jan 19, 2017
Ep. 206 - Steven Johnson: Why You Have to Replace Ambition with Play

I wish I was as smart as Steven Johnson. I asked him, “What is your one favorite thing that everybody thinks is bad for you that is actually good for you?”

He didn’t want to tell me. “My kids might listen to this later,” he said.

But he told me...

He's the author of "Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation," "Everything Bad is Good for you," and the recent "Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World"— how the idea of "play" more than anything else, is what created the modern world.

“I regret saying this a little, but, the assumption that video games are just a terrible waste of time and that this generation is growing up playing these stupid games is really… it’s so wrong," he said.

He was talking about using play for education reform. "If you think about it, we walk around with a bunch of assumptions of what a learning experience is supposed to look like: listening to a lecture, watching an educational video, taking an exam to test your learning."

I was gonna puke. 

“I’ve been watching my kids play Battlefield 1, which is set in WWI. And it’s amazing.”

“I sit and watch my kids play and ask what they’re thinking about. Because as a grown up who doesn’t play the game you can’t process it. There’s just so much going on in the world. They’re playing this multiplayer game, in this incredibly vivid landscape with a million data points streaming across the screen.”

His doesn't understand it. And his kids don’t understand how he doesn’t understand it...  “Didn’t you see the signal I got? And how this one piece of the interface was telling me to do xy and z?”

“All I can see is there’s a gun and a Zeplin. I’m 48,” he said.

We’re the same age.

“Does that make me middle aged?”

“We’re old."

Kids are basically gonna destroy us. We’re the one’s who are going to end up in diapers. They started off there, we end up there.


We play, too.

So here’s what Steven found out.

One would ask, that sounds ridiculous: how did "play" create the Industrial Revolution. Or all the wars of the past 500 years. Or all the innovations we've seen with the Internet, which was initially funded by the military. What does "play" have to do with it?


And that's what makes Steven Johnson so infuriating. He'll take two concepts that seem like they have nothing to do with each other and he'll say, THIS caused THAT!

And I'd shake my head and cry and ask, "How is that even possible?" And then he'll show me.

Because he traces his curiosity. It’s like when you start clicking all the hyperlinks in a Wikipedia page. And seeing how everything is connected.

Steven connects the dots and puts them in a book for you.

If I were to recreate a robotic Steven Johnson (hmmm, actually, maybe he is a robot. Or at least has a Cylon brain or maybe Bradley Cooper's brain from Limitless) I'd have to feed in 10,000 books or so, and this ability to find every possible cross connection between every two ideas mentioned in the books.

And then he spits it out in his masterpieces.

As I told him in the beginning of the podcast: I enjoy a lot of books. A lot of books are great even. But your books and only a few others are among the only books where I read it and I feel like my IQ is going up.

I made up a game in fact, based on his books. Maybe someone should make the card game for this.

Here's two random concepts. Tell me how they are connected.

Example: The lengthening of shop windows in London in the 1600s and the rise of American slavery in the 1800s.

I’m not making this up. One really caused the other.

Steven calls it “the hummingbird effect.” It’s different from the butterfly effect where the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can cause a hurricane.

That’s chance.

The hummingbird effect is traceable. “It has to be 2-3 steps removed,” he said. “And you have to be really rigorous about when it just doesn’t work.”

You play to find the links.

I told him this idea. He laughed and said, "I should do that."

Example: The laugh of Sputnik, led direction to Tinder.

In the podcast, we spoke about how humans have this evolutionary need not only for food and reproduction (Darwin's well-trodden theories), but also novelty.

Example: Gutenberg in the 1400s led to the study of genomics.

And that novelty and play gave us energy and initiative to produce discoveries ranging from the cotton gin, the steam engine, world exploration, and the Internet.

Example: a tree used by the Mayans to make games led directly to car tires.

What I really wanted to explore in the podcast was not only these insane connections. It was almost ludicrous how many fun ones I was coming up with, but what was it about Steven that allowed him to come up with all these connections.

What does he do differently with his brain?

Can I do it also? I wanted to learn.

Example: The invention of the phonograph in the mid 1800s directly led to their being more boys than girls born in China this year.

Jan 17, 2017
Ep. 205 - Jairek Robbins: What To Do When You're Overworked, Tired and Can't Turn Off Your Mind

You know that game where you flip a card, see the face and turn it back over, then try to find the match?


That's the game we're going to play...


Write down your values. I told Jairek mine. I had three.


Jairek is a life coach. And Tony Robbins is his dad. But that doesn’t matter. Because Tony didn’t invest in his son’s strengths. He invested in weakness.


“I didn’t really have an understanding of what real hard work was,” Jairek said.


So in college, Jairek went to Canada and stacked lumber.


“You’ve known me a long time,” I said. “What’s a weakness I have that you think I can work through?”


“I’ll tell you how we find those,” he said.


Step 1: Review your values


Jairek said, “Let’s do this right now. If I were to ask you what’s most important to you in life, what would you say?”


  1. “Humans…” That was number one. Connecting with people I care about.


  1. “Being an honest person who acts with integrity.”


  1. “And creativity.”


So here’s the card game… Imagine you have all the cards face down on the carpet. Every card has a match.


One shows your values. The other shows your time. You have to match them up to win.


Because values = time.


People say, “Time is money.”




Time is values.


But pretty much everyone struggles with this. I struggle with this. Jairek gave an example but it made me wonder maybe your brain's idea of values is wrong.


Maybe your “values” are really your expectations… In my life, misery sinks in when expectations are higher than reality.


I don't know.


The example Jairek gave was a guy who spent all his time doing business. His values were family and God. So I asked Jairek, “Could your brain be wrong?”


Maybe this guy’s calendar was right. Maybe he really valued business…


I’m not in his head. I don't’ have a life coach. I have a therapist.


So if you're reading this and thinking, "No he doesn’t," then you know what's true for you.


Step 2: Find a match


Log your time. Look at your day and your week. Jairek’s clients log their lives for seven days. But he also needs to know your thoughts. Which is harder to measure. “I don’t have a sensor for that yet,” he said. “It’s subjective.”


Jairek has helped thousands of people.


One client said, “Honestly, I wake up and the first thing through my head is, ‘Am I going to close that deal today?’ It’s always combing through my mind. Even at dinner. I’m thinking about the paperwork. My mind’s constantly turning. I’m not able to let go of what’s going on.’”


His home life was suffering.


So Jairek asked, “What’s your ritual to turn it off at the end of the day and walk away without having all those thoughts processing in your head?”


Most people don’t have a ritual. That’s the problem. “You need to disassociate from work,” he said. “Get it out of your nervous system.”


So here’s the formula: disconnect, then connect.


Part A) Disconnect:


“Some people go for a walk, other people breathe for 20 minutes. It’s different for everybody. You have to figure out the routine.”


Sometimes I’m emailing about work at midnight. That’s how habits start. They creep in when my guard is down, when I’m not connected to anything I love.  


Part B) Connect


Jairek switched his coaching methods a few years ago. He used to coach on performance. Now it’s relationships. Because it’s the relationships in our lives that increase our performance.


“Right now, if you’re at work, and you think about your kids, your heart’s probably not gushing over them,” he said.”


“No, usually they suck and I’m annoyed at them.” I had plans to see them in a few hours.


Then Jairek hypnotized me.


“What’s the most precious and beautiful moment you have with one of your kids?” he said. “Go back way in the distance. Remember one of your earliest moments with them that just lit your heart up. And as a dad made you prouder than you could have ever imagined.”


He had me repeat the process. Catch a memory. Then another. You can do this about your spouse, family, someone who’s hurt your or you’ve hurt.


Then combine memories with music. Or look at a picture. “If you combine the visual, auditory and the feeling of it, and reconnect with those memories, then by the time you get home, you’re less likely to pick up a business call. Because your head’s not thinking about all the deals.”


I saw my kids that day. We laughed more than ever…


And when I flipped the cards, I found a match.

Jan 12, 2017
Ep. 204 - Mike Massimino: The Ultimate Thrill Seeking Profession

Mike Massimino failed his PhD the first time. Failed the astronaut test the first three times.

Failed to get the highest evaluation when he walked into space the first time. And almost destroyed the Hubble Telescope on the last attempt the US was going to make to fix it.

But he did it. He did it all.

Two things I noticed about him.

One thing is he kept saying things to me like, “I wasn’t the smartest in X but…”

He said that about his classmates. He said that about his neighbors. He said this about his fellow co-workers. He said this out in the middle of outer space. 350,000 miles away from home.

In my podcast, years later, he was still saying that.

He's a liar.

He got his PhD from MIT in “robot arms on Mars”. He went into space twice. He fixed the Hubble telescope so now we can see images like this:

By the way, he failed the astronaut exam because his vision wasn't good enough.

He then figured out how to TRAIN HIS EYES TO HAVE BETTER EYESIGHT. I never even heard of that before. He passed his next exam with 20/20 vision.

Clearly he was good enough. In fact, he is the best at everything he has ever done.

Humility without negativity (negative might be: “I’m not good enough so I will give up.”) seems to be key. In other words:

Humility With Forward Action.

Second, he told me something very interesting.

In his lab at MIT there were ten other students.

Four of them became astronauts.

Do you know how hard it is to become an astronaut? Out of the 1000s of people who used to apply each year, less than 10 would get in. These 1000s who applied were DESPERATE to get in.

And they couldn’t.

And yet FOUR from this one single lab flew into outer space.

If he had been hanging out in a bar instead of a robotics lab, I doubt he could say, “Me and 3 of my friends went into space”.

Life and it’s outcomes are contagious.

Be where, and with who, you will inherit the greatest possibilities, the greatest encouragement, the greatest knowledge, the greatest joys and friendship

These are the viruses you want to infect you.

Those are the people and places that will propel you into outer space.

And by “outer space”, in this one case I am talking metaphorically. Be the person the people around you expect you to be.

I learned this from Mike because I was curious and I reached out to him and wanted to ask questions.

Learning something from the people you admire is really the point here. If you do it just once a day you’ll learn 365 incredible things a year.

This will make your life a dream. And then you’ll dream of things you never knew existed.

Jan 10, 2017
Ep. 203 - Susan David: What Happens When You're Deeply Stuck In Your Job and Asking, "How Did I Get Here?"

It’s the most commonly believed lie. It will make you lose all your money. It’ll make you wake up in your 40’s or 50’s and wonder what you’re going to do about retirement. It will make you develop your worst possible habits.


For me, it was drinking. And waking up face to floor. I was ugliest when I was unhappy. That’s true for everyone.


Unless you hide it with plastic surgery and cocaine.


The point is I care about myself now. And not a lot of people say that.


But it’s important.


I should care about me more than anyone else… even my daughters. But sometimes I mess up. Sometimes I love them more than me.


Even on airplanes, they say, “Put your mask on before assisting others.” If you put a mask on your baby before you put a mask on yourself, your baby will never know who you could’ve been.


If I don’t put my oxygen mask on first everyday, then my kids, my friends, everyone I meet, won’t know who I really am.


They won’t know me at my best. They’ll know me passed out on the floor because I tried starving myself for three days (it was a fast. I was trying to detox my body. Again this goes back to caring about yourself. Molly, Josie, I swear, I had good intentions.)


Let me get back to the most commonly believed lie.


It’s called the sunk cost fallacy. This is when you stick to what you’re doing because you already invested your whole life in it.


For example, you won’t quit your job (the job you hate) because that’s what you went to college for or because you’ve been doing it for 20 years and change is scary.


I studied computer science. I went to graduate school for it.


But now I do what I love. Because I gave up.


I had to give up on life’s little stresses and jump head first into an even bigger stress. It took me one step closer to bottom. And one step closer to the lifeboat.


I have a friend. She’s 52. Or 53, divorced. She has a “low-level” job. Or that’s what she says.


She thinks her goals are out of reach. She says, “I can’t do it.” And she believes it. So I asked my friend Susan David, (she’s a Ph.D) “How can you help someone like that? How can you help someone struggling with life’s circumstances?”


But I was asking the wrong question. Because she told me the stress people experience everyday isn’t (usually) caused by massive life events.


“There’s a particular kind of stress that, in psychology, we call allostatic stress,” Susan said, “It’s the everyday stress.”


I was interviewing her about her book, “Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life.”


She gave 50 or 100 tips to do exactly what the subtitle of her book says, “Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life.”


1) Accept it

“Accept that you aren’t where you want to be,” Susan said. “Be with those difficult emotions.”


She said we get stuck in two ways. One is “bottling.” The second is “bruting.” Bottling is when someone traps emotions inside. They ignore their feelings.


Bruting is when someone obsesses about emotions. And try to determine what happened and why…


They both cause high levels of anxiety.


So I had to stop asking, “Why?”


2) Choose “want-to” goals

I have four main values. They’re in my daily practice.


Values are the things you want to do versus the things you have to do. Because “have to” goals are less likely to be successful.


So I asked Susan, “What if you don’t know what your values are?”


“We often turn around and say, ‘How did I get here?’


“I was just going on with flow. I was just doing what everyone else told me to do. I went to college. I got a job. I got a house... How did I get her?’ This is a really difficult place for people to be” she said. “What’s really critical for all of us to realize is values are not some abstract idea. Values are ways of living, ways of being.”


Figure out your values. Susan says, at the end of the day ask yourself, “What did I do today that was worthwhile?”


I watched a plane move through the sky today. I held the door for someone. I smiled at someone who looked dangerous… someone who probably isn’t smiled at often.


Those were worthwhile moments. I’m also writing…


It’s a “want-to” goal that I hope to have for the rest of my life...  but who knows, sometimes reinvention has new ideas for you.


3) Make “towards” moves

There are two types of movements.


Everything you do is either a “toward” or an “away” movement.


“If I value my health, I can go downstairs and choose an ice cream, which is an ‘away’ move or I can make a choice that is healthier,” Susan said.


4) Watch for setbacks

“When you have a setback you’re more likely to revert back to an old bias you falsely believe,” she said.


I made an “away” move. I stopped writing my daily gratitude list. And then I started compla