The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish

By Farnam Street

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Description

The Knowledge Project takes you inside the heads of remarkable people to explore the frameworks and mental models you can use to make life more meaningful and productive. Learn more at https://fs.blog

Episode Date
Winning at the Great Game (Part 1)
02:00:18

Author, educator, and hedge fund advisor, Adam Robinson shares powerful lessons on winning the game of life. He teaches us how to learn, how to fail, and his three secrets of happiness and success.

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For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

Is your brain hungry for more? Don't miss out! Sign up for our weekly "Brain Food" at https://fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow @farnamstreet on Twitter for mind-expanding content. 

Dec 11, 2018
Authenticity, Kindness, and Self Love
01:05:10

Television personality, activist, mother, and wife to Canada’s Prime Minister, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau discusses her battle with eating disorders, why nature and art play such a huge role in her life and what unites us as people.  

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For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

Is your brain hungry for more? Don't miss out! Sign up for our weekly "Brain Food" at https://fs.blog/newsletter/

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Nov 27, 2018
Taking Time to Get It Right
01:04:33

Dan Kluger, award winning chef and owner of NYC’s Loring Place joins me on the podcast to reveal what really happens behind the scenes of a bustling restaurant, why every detail of your craft matters, and how to create the perfect experience for every guest.

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For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

Is your brain hungry for more? Don't miss out! Sign up for our weekly "Brain Food" at https://fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow @farnamstreet on Twitter for mind-expanding content. 

Nov 13, 2018
The Kids Are Worth It
02:03:24

Parenting expert and best selling author Barbara Coloroso shares her three foundational principles of child-rearing, how to get kids to be accountable for their actions, and what we can do as parents to raise confident, happy children.

---

This interview is unlike any we’ve done so far on The Knowledge Project. We’re talking parenting with one of the foremost experts in the field, Barbara Coloroso. Her work was introduced to me by the mother of one of my son’s friends, (possibly as a hint towards my parenting), and once I started reading her books, I knew I had to get her on the show.

Her style is spunky, hard-nosed and compassionate all at the same time. And the qualities that her methods instill in children, mirror those that I want for my own kids — kindness, accountability, curiosity, and self-reliance to name a few. I’ll admit, as a father of two boys, I had selfish motivations to get Barbara one on one, and hopefully get the inside track on how to master this parenting thing.

If you’re a parent, uncle, aunt, or interact with children in any way, you won’t want to miss this captivating interview.

Here are a few highlights from our discussion:

I came up with three basic tenets. One, kids are worth it. I believe they're worth our time, energy and resources to help them become all they can become. Second, I won't treat them in a way I, myself, would not want to be treated. And third, it must leave my dignity and the child's dignity intact.

I felt that bribes and threats, rewards and punishments, which by the way, have become an insidious part of our culture, really interfere with raising an ethical human being. I want a child who will stand up for values and against injustices when it costs them, not when they're getting rewarded for being good because it's all about getting caught.  

Praise-dependent, reward-dependent children make wonderful henchmen for bullies. They will do the bully's bidding because they want whatever reward that bully is dangling in front of them.

If you make a mistake, it's a very simple formula. Simple doesn't make it easy. With a mistake, you own it, you fix it, you learn from it and you move on.

We want assertive lines, not aggressive or passive. Our climate today of adult discourse doesn't help our kids at all, with these virulent attacks and dehumanization of another human being, which is what verbal bullying does. So we need to walk our talk and talk our walk.

Discipline is not something we do to a child. It's something we do with a child. Punishment's adult-oriented. It's imposed from without. It arouses resentment and teaches kids to respond out of fear, or fight back, or flee. Discipline, on the other hand, means to give life to a child's learning.

If it's not life threatening, morally threatening, or unhealthy, let it go. Let them experience the consequences.

I really dislike it when people say, "My teenager's my best friend," I say, "Get a life." They need a mentor. They don't need a friend right now, not you as a friend. Then in adulthood, you can become their friend and you better become a good friend because they do pick out your nursing home.

We have 105 words for penis, and 125 for breasts, and only one for an ankle. We have to start young teaching kids to use their proper words. I want a little boy to say something like, "My penis feels funny," instead of using all these euphemisms, wee wee, sausage and bacon, or twigs and berries and all the different words that we use.

Deep caring is not liking somebody. I tell kids, “You do not have to like every kid in this classroom, but you must honor their humanity.” Deep caring is a must to relieve somebody else's suffering, and wishing them well, which by the way, is the antithesis of mean and cruel.

Listen and Learn

---

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

Is your brain hungry for more? Don't miss out! Sign up for our weekly "Brain Food" at https://fs.blog/newsletter/

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Oct 30, 2018
The Mental Habits of Effective Leaders
01:30:06

In a world that changes at a dizzying rate, effective leaders need to develop the skills to keep up. Developmental coach and author Jennifer Garvey Berger shares 3 habits to ensure continual growth, accelerated learning and deepened relationships of trust.

***

In this fast-paced digital economy, it’s impossible to see the changes that are on the horizon. That makes it difficult for leaders to prepare for what’s ahead. In her best-selling books, Changing on the Job, and Simple Habits for Complex Times, author and developmental coach Jennifer Garvey Berger teaches the skills and habits you can adopt today to make you more agile and adaptable to any scenario.

During our discussion, we explore some of the methods Jennifer uses to help individuals become better listeners, better learners, and better leaders. There was so much wisdom in this interview that it was difficult to decide what excerpts to share.

Here’s a small sampling of what you can expect:

So much of leadership ability is about how other people experience themselves in your presence. A great leader has a presence that makes other people bigger.

History is filled with leaders, who were told in whispers that there was disaster ahead and who were so certain about their own perspective that they marched into disaster headlong. A curious leader listens to whispers and begins to make sense of them, not necessarily to believe them all, but to know that there's something going on to be attuned to.

We have the possibility to always be growing. That's a glorious thing. For some people, they're into arrival.  

One of the different questions adult development theory lets us ask is, "Who am I being right now and is that the person I want to be?" You bring that question into your everyday life and it moves you.  

Over time, as we begin to ask different questions, they push out our thinking and feeling and experiencing because so much of what we're doing is the answer to a question. What you wear is the answer to, "What shall I wear today?" Our lives are living out answers to questions we don't notice that we're asking. Asking different questions helps us lead different lives.  

Taking seriously the possibility that somebody else is right and you're wrong requires a mental yoga that you have to remember to do because what your system is going to deliver to you for free from most of our development is when somebody says something that you think is wrong, you just think, "Well, that's wrong." You don't think, "Oh, what am I missing?"  

We tend to be looking for the root cause of something, but in complexity, there's no root cause. There's no root cause of a hurricane, right? There's no root cause of a tsunami. There's no root cause in nature. There are just many forces that interact together to get you a particular effect. Similarly, there's no root cause of trust. There's no root cause of leadership. These are all a series of things that happen together.

You can't tell the difference in a brain scan between somebody having an opinion and somebody remembering a fact. Our brains think they're the same. So, we have to get really careful with what we think is an opinion and what we think is a fact.  

One of the things I love about complexity is it can change from anywhere, right? You can change a system from anywhere. You don't actually need positional power. So, somebody who's locked in one of those patterns could begin to imagine ways to shift even if I'm just shifting my part of the pattern. What if I decided that the talk I'm going to do outside of meetings is going to be all praise for one another? How does that shift the system around me?  

I am continually surprised by the power of genuine listening. I know it sounds fairly simple, but people who are led by their curiosity and who genuinely listen to the perspectives of others, they learn like crazy.

Listen and Learn.

---

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

Is your brain hungry for more? Don't miss out! Sign up for our weekly "Brain Food" at https://fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow @farnamstreet on Twitter for mind-expanding content. 

 

Oct 16, 2018
The Path to Perpetual Progress
01:20:11

The world-renowned surgeon, writer, and researcher Atul Gawande shares powerful lessons about creating a culture of safe learning, the critical difference between a coach and a mentor, and how to ensure constant improvement in key areas of your personal and professional life.

***

Atul Gawande is one of the most impressive individuals I’ve had the pleasure to interview.

He’s one of the world’s top surgeons, a researcher, a prolific writer at The New Yorker, a multiple time best-selling author, and a husband and father to boot.

In this fascinating interview, I’m sure you’ll find that Atul is wise and generous with the lessons he’s learned over a dynamic and accomplished career but also maintains a childlike humility, curiosity and eagerness to learn.

We cover a lot of ground in our discussion, so here are a few excerpts to give you a taste of what you can expect:

I like having a lot of irons in the fire. I like being a jack of all trades and finding the edges between things is often where I have something to add. [My ideas] come from digging in deep enough to understand the gap between what we're aspiring for and the reality of what we're doing and then trying to figure out where the bridge is to narrow that wide gap.

When we all have a piece of care or a piece of a problem, very often none of us can actually see what the outcome is and the owner can't see the function of the system. So then you start finding things like data really matter.  

We've been fantastic at breakthrough innovation and we've had no real understanding of follow-through innovation. I think it's partly that the follow through innovation can seem like it's only about nuts and bolts, instead of about recognizing that there are ways that you can actually influence and have control, some degree of control, with regard to the world around you.

For most of human history, for like 99.99% of it, our world was governed largely by ignorance. We did not know the diseases that could afflict the human body or understand them, let alone what to do about them. We didn't understand how societies rose and fell. We didn't understand how economics worked, even in the most basic components.

Even if we were to come to a complete understanding of all the laws of the universe, we won't be able to understand all of the interconnections and all of the particularities and how they all interconnect. We're always making our best prediction and effort to be able to drive that, and so grappling, something about that is deeply human.  

In other industries that I've seen that have been able to create that space, you know, engineers on successful teams are able to create, and you can see on teams within the same organization and the same research lab for example, you can see good and bad culture within the teams, but when the leader has made it so people can actually speak up with an equal voice. People from the highest level to the lowest level, they have all been able to contribute, and when that exchange is the way that it occurs, then you know you're there.

The pedagogical theory is you go to Julliard, you get your 10,000 hours of practice with the violin, and you then head out into the world and you're responsible for the rest of your self-improvement along the way. That model is the primary one in professional life, most musicians, in medicine, in teaching, in business.  

The other model is mostly out of sports and that's the coaching model, and that says, I don't care if you're Roger Federer, you will have blind spots when it comes to your own improvement and you need a coach. Over time I think what we've been learning is the coaching model beats the teaching model, and has significant advantages.

The fact of rising health care costs is not the problem. What is the problem is, how much of the costs are rising that are not actually connected in any way to value.

I'm ruthless about prioritization. I just try to do no more than a couple of things at a time. I may do something different in a couple of months so it can make it seem like I'm doing a million things at once, but I'm not actually. I'm only doing one thing at a time.  

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For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

Is your brain hungry for more? Don't miss out! Sign up for our weekly "Brain Food" at https://fs.blog/newsletter/

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Oct 02, 2018
The Trust Battery
01:45:56

Today, I interview fellow Ottawan and the founder and CEO of Shopify, Tobi Lütke. In case you’re still new to the internet, Shopify is the largest ecommerce platform that allows people to easily set up online storefronts to sell everything from jewelry to surfing lessons.

Shopify began as a simple two man operation selling snowboards online, but it became clear rather quickly that it had the potential to grow into much more. Now Shopify employs more than 4,000 people and supports more than 600,000 businesses online. It’s a remarkable story, with a remarkable leader at the helm.

There was so much I wanted to talk to Tobi about that we hop around quite a bit. Here are a few of the topics we discuss:

  • Tobi’s thoughts on how video games helped him prepare to run a company
  • How selling snowboards online slowly transitioned to the creation of one of the biggest tech companies in the world
  • Why Tobi intentionally headquartered Shopify outside of Silicon Valley and how that fits into his overall growth strategy
  • One of the most underrated resources Tobi leans on to mine nuggets of wisdom when trying to get insight or solve a problem
  • The hard and valuable lessons Tobi learned as they scaled from a 2 employee company to a 4,000 employee company
  • What the “Tobi test” is, and how it helps Shopify team members become more adaptable, unified and prepared when things go haywire
  • How employees use the “trust battery” and how it fosters better teamwork, communication, and productivity throughout the company
  • The benefits of hiring employees in a “secondary market” as opposed to a “primary market” and how that contributes to the unique culture at Shopify
  • Tobi’s decision-making process and his philosophy on making quick vs analytic decisions
  • Tobi’s unusual morning routine that gets him in the right mindset to tackle the day
  • His optimistic view of AI and machine learning and how they will impact the way we do things in the future

And more…

Whether you’re building a business of your own, want to create a more dynamic and unified culture at work, or just like hearing entrepreneur war stories, this episode will not disappoint.

---

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

Is your brain hungry for more? Don't miss out! Sign up for our weekly "Brain Food" at https://fs.blog/newsletter/

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Sep 18, 2018
Thriving in a Digital World
01:40:25

Today’s guest is Stratechery author and founder Ben Thompson. If you’re an investor in Silicon Valley, work at a tech start-up, or just love to geek out on technology and business analysis, odds are good that Stratechery is on your short list of must-read blogs.

What started as a side project, quickly ballooned into one of the most influential tech blogs on the web. The New York Times called Stratechery, “one of the most interesting sources of analysis on any subject.”

I agree.

In this interview, Ben and I cover a lot of ground. Here are a few of the things we discuss:

  • Learn once and for all how to pronounce Stratechery. :)
  • How Ben’s business model was developed and how he massaged it over the years to become what it is today
  • The one metric Ben looks at each day to gauge the health of his business
  • How Ben deals with people who rip off his work and pass it off as their own
  • Ben’s thoughts on pricing, free trials, content and other important aspects of online membership sites
  • How Ben structures his day to churn out such incredible content so consistently
  • How Ben handles being wrong on his site, and his process for screening his work for confirmation bias
  • How the internet has changed the traditional view of supply and demand, and what companies should do about it
  • What Ben would teach an MBA class about internet strategy (if you do any business online, you need to hear this)
  • What it would take for a start-up to overtake Google or Apple, and the vulnerabilities that all companies share, no matter how big or profitable
  • The new era of technology and how companies like Netflix, Airbnb, and Amazon are doing it right (and what you can do in your own business to take full advantage)

This is one of the most jam-packed interviews I’ve done on the Knowledge Project. Ben’s answers are so thoughtful and informative that you’re going to want to have a notebook handy.

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

Is your brain hungry for more? Don't miss out! Sign up for our weekly "Brain Food" at https://fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow @farnamstreet for mind-expanding content. 

 

Sep 05, 2018
Thinking About Thinking
56:40

There are only a handful of websites that I read religiously. One of those is MarginalRevolution.com, started by my next guest, Tyler Cowen.

Other than hosting one of the most popular economic blogs in the world, Tyler is also an economics professor at George Mason University, a regular New York Times columnist, and the author of over a dozen books, including Average is Over, and The Complacent Class.

With such a prolific guest, it’s no wonder that we cover a lot of ground. In this episode, we discuss:

  • How the future of labor will look drastically different than it does today, and what we can do to future-proof our livelihood
  • The pros and cons of virtual reality and the impact it could have on society
  • The fate of newspapers and how information will be more and more “bundled” according to our tastes and preferences
  • Race relations in the world, and how in many ways we’ve taken discouraging steps backwards
  • How we’re losing touch with the physical world, and some of the symptoms that indicate that we could be in for a rough ride
  • What Tyler suggests doing to improve decision making and how important (and rare) that skill will be in the coming years
  • Tyler’s advice to parents about how to foster resilience, tenacity and internal drive in their children
  • Tyler’s “quake books” and the reading process he’s developed over the years that keeps him sharp
  • Why giving books as gifts can be dangerous
  • The one skill every person should possess before Googling anything
  • What playing competitive chess as a child taught Tyler about how he thinks and views the world today

And much more, including Tyler’s thoughts on minimum wage, bitcoin, and his favorite television programs.

If you want to upgrade your thinking so you’re prepared for the brave new world that’s rapidly developing before our eyes, you won’t want to miss this fascinating episode.

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

Is your brain hungry for more? Don't miss out! Sign up for our weekly "Brain Food" at https://fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow @farnamstreet for mind-expanding content. 

Aug 21, 2018
Thinking in Algorithms: My Conversation with Ali Almossawi
19:31

My guest for this short episode of The Knowledge Project is a man who wears many hats.

Ali Almossawi is a San Francisco-based author of books on critical thinking and computer science education, and the creator of An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments. He is also a principal engineer at Apple and was formerly employed as a data visualization engineer by Mozilla.

His books have been read by 3 million readers, translated into 20 languages, and have sold over a quarter million copies in print.

This interview is only 20 minutes along, but there was a lot I wanted to cover, so we move pretty fast. Specifically, we cover:

  • The unique format Ali chooses when writing a book to help people understand the concepts more deeply
  • The place for empathy in algorithmic thinking and how we can be more empathetic in our daily interactions with each other
  • Ali’s note taking process and how he tracks the ideas and topics he’d like to explore
  • Ali’s daily routine and the “algorithms” he uses to make the most of his day
  • The single habit that has the most profound impact on Ali’s day to day
  • The cost/benefit of sharing on social media and the impact it has on society as a whole

And more.

If you’ve ever wanted to improve the way you process information, think more clearly and make better decisions, you won’t want to miss this interview.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

Upgrade your thinking with the free FS weekly email digest called "brain food." Don't miss out, sign up at https://fs.blog/newsletter/

You do want to get smarter, don't you? Follow https://twitter.com/farnamstreet for mind-expanding content. 

 

Aug 08, 2018
Getting Better by Being Wrong
01:56:32

I have wanted to do this interview for a long time. On this episode, I am thrilled to have Annie Duke, former professional poker player and author of the new book, Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts.

Annie has a very interesting background that makes her uniquely qualified to speak about high-level decision making. As an author, speaker, world-class poker player, and academic in the fields of psychology and cognitive theory, Annie understands the intersection of luck, skill, and making decisions in uncertain, chaotic environments better than most people on the planet.

This is a whirlwind of an episode, and we cover all kinds of fascinating topics, including:

  • The strange circumstances that shifted Annie’s path from finishing a Ph.D. in linguistics to becoming a professional poker player
  • What it was like to be a female poker player in a predominantly male sport (especially before poker had become socially acceptable)
  • What drew Annie into such a high stakes, time-pressured environment and why she felt like poker was the perfect fit for her
  • How her graduate work in psychology informed the way she approached the game of poker — and helped her rack up wins
  • How she finds the signal in a very noisy stream of feedback
  • The big mistakes Annie noticed other players making that were stalling their progress in the game but allowed her to make giant leaps forward
  • The role that mental models played in her learning process (and which models Annie liked to lean on the most in a high stakes game)
  • The power of surrounding yourself with people that can help you expand your circle of competence — and how that made all the difference in Annie’s development as a player
  • Confirmatory and exploratory thought, and how one helps us to be “accurate” and one helps us to be “right.”
  • The secret pact you should be making with the people who are closest to you

And so much more.

This episode is just under two hours long, but there’s no fat in it. Annie delivers a masterclass in making the smartest decisions we can, even when our hubris insists otherwise. Do some finger stretches before hitting play, because you’re going to be taking some serious notes.

Please enjoy the interview!

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

Upgrade your thinking with the free FS weekly email digest called "brain food." Don't miss out, sign up at https://fs.blog/newsletter/

You do want to get smarter, don't you? Follow https://twitter.com/farnamstreet for mind-expanding content. 

 

Jul 25, 2018
The Science of Doing Good
01:05:13

On this episode of The Knowledge Project, I’m happy to have William MacAskill.

William is the co-founder and President of the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA) and an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Oxford University. He is also the founder and president of 80,000 Hours, the co-founder and vice-president of Giving What We Can, and the author of Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference.

William’s work is primarily focused on encouraging people to use reason and evidence to find the best possible ways they can use their resources to make the biggest possible impact in the world.

We cover a lot of ground in this interview, including:

  • Why good intentions aren’t enough when giving to charity and how we can do better
  • How William's giving philosophy was formed and how it developed into The Centre for Effective Altruism
  • The best metrics to assess how good a charity is before donating a dime
  • How letting our emotions guide our charitable giving can lead to ineffective, and sometimes harmful outcomes.
  • How many charities today unknowingly reward low dollar donors and sell themselves short millions of dollars in potential donations
  • A powerful thought exercise to help you gain a different but valuable perspective about helping the poor and suffering in the world
  • The one cognitive bias William believes is the most damaging to any business, organization or individual
  • William’s foundational values that guide his day to day decisions and actions
  • William’s take on “radical honesty” and when honesty can be taken too far and is no longer constructive
  • William’s definition of success and the imaginary conversation he has with himself on his deathbed to make sure he’s on the right track (this is awesome)
  • The most common mistake William sees people make over and over (and the embarrassingly simple way to avoid making it)
  • And then to wrap up, I gave him a softball question: What is the purpose and meaning of life?

If you’ve wanted to make more of a positive impact in the world around you, this insightful interview will give you plenty to think about. Your resources are precious and should be optimized to improve the lives of those you help. I don’t know of a better person to guide you than William.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

Upgrade your thinking with my free weekly email digest. Don't miss out, sign up at https://fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet)

 

Jul 11, 2018
Alive Time vs. Dead Time
01:17:32

In this episode of The Knowledge Project, I have the brilliant Robert Greene. Robert is the

author of 5 New York Times bestsellers, including The 48 Laws of Power and The 33 Strategies of War. He's also written on mastery and seduction.

Robert’s books have been somewhat controversial over the years and have been called amoral, cunning, and even ruthless for what they reveal. Yet millions of readers, from mid-level managers to hip-hop royalty and corporate executives have revered his work as a sort of canonized scripture for the ambitious.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of ground, including:

  • Why Robert believes his first book, 48 Laws of Power has continued to sell steadily for over two decades.
  • What Robert calls “alive time” and “dead time” and how we can optimize each day to be filled with “alive time” and live the life we’re proud of
  • The one skill that determines how far you’ll get in life, no matter how talented you are in anything else
  • Robert’s research method and how he finds such unique and interesting examples
  • What Robert looks for when he reads, and what qualities separate good books from excellent books
  • How Robert developed his famous note card system to extract the meat out of anything he reads
  • Why Robert insists on writing all his notes longhand even though it’s less convenient and less accessible than taking notes digitally
  • What Robert’s daily routine looks like, particularly when he’s writing and researching for a new book
  • What Robert considers to be the single greatest power any human has, and what we can do to strengthen it
  • How having unfettered access to information is actually making us dumber in very important ways and what we can do about it
  • How to fine tune your “bullshit detector” so you’re able to tell the difference between pretenders and performers. (As a bonus, Robert shares a few ways you can improve your bullshitting skills when it becomes necessary)

And a lot more.

Plus, Robert gives us a sneak peek into his newest project, The Laws of Human Nature, which explores the hidden motivations that drive what we do and say.

This interview is packed to the brim with interesting and actionable insights that I think you’re going to love. Grab a pen, a notebook, and a glass of wine and enjoy!

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

Upgrade your thinking with my free weekly email digest. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet)

 

Jun 27, 2018
Learning How to Suffer
01:09:11

Since the popularity of Obstacle Course Racing, or OCR, has exploded onto the scene, there has been one woman who has dominated the sport: Amelia Boone.

Amelia ran her first race in 2011 after some prodding from a co-worker, and though she says she stumbled her way to an unimpressive finish, she was smitten. She has since amassed over  50 podiums and two dozen victories, including the Spartan Race World Championship in 2013, and the World's Toughest Mudder (three times!) in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

Oh, and her 2014 victory came just eight weeks after major knee surgery.

Though she vehemently denies it, Amelia is superhuman.

This interview is a little different than others you may have heard on The Knowledge Project but no less fascinating.

We cover a wide variety of topics including habits, reading, self-reliance, and training.

Specifically, you’ll learn:

  • Why Amelia was drawn to obstacle racing even though running was something she despised
  • The complementary connection between her sport and her professional work and how racing has made her a more effective attorney
  • How Amelia fights physical and mental fatigue when most people quit (she even shares a story of how she dealt with a vacant support station halfway through a 100 mile race)
  • What she does to develop grit and resilience so she knows she can rely on herself when things get rough
  • Amelia’s “to-do list” trick that makes sure she’s productive — you’ll want to steal this
  • How a serious injury taught Amelia some of her most powerful lessons about who she is and what’s important to her
  • What Amelia’s parents did to teach her to be self-sufficient from a very young age
  • How she learned to deal with setbacks, and how careful she is with the language she uses when she speaks to herself when things go wrong
  • Why Amelia runs with a Sharpie and the same playlist she’s listened to for the past 5 years
  • How Amelia transformed herself from a casual weekend warrior to one of the most finely tuned athletes in the world

Whether you’re an athlete, a weekend jogger, or the only exercise you get is the leisure stroll from the couch to the refrigerator, there are lots of insights and plenty of inspiration waiting for you in this interview.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

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Jun 13, 2018
The Truth About Lies
56:34

On this episode of the Knowledge Project, I’m joined by the fascinating Dan Ariely. Dan just about does it all. He has delivered 6 TED talks with a combined 20 million views, he’s a multiple New York Times best-selling author, a widely published researcher, and the James B Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University.

For the better part of three decades, Dan has been immersed in researching why humans do some of the silly, irrational things we do. And yes, as much as we’d all like to be exempt, that includes you too.

In this captivating interview, we tackle a lot of interesting topics, including:

  • The three types of decisions that control our life and how understanding our biases can help us make smarter decisions
  • How our environment plays a big role in our decision making and the small changes we can make to automatically improve our outcomes
  • The “behavioural driven” bathroom scale Dan has been working on to revolutionize weight loss
  • Which of our irrational behaviors transfer across cultures and which ones are unique to certain parts of the world (for example, find out which country is the most honest)
  • The dishonesty spectrum and why we as humans insist on flirting with the line between “honest” and “dishonest”
  • 3 sneaky mental tricks Dan uses to avoid making ego-driven decisions
  • “Pluralistic ignorance” and how it dangerously affects our actions and inactions (As a bonus, Dan shares the hilarious way he demonstrates this concept to his students on their first day of class)
  • The rule Dan created specifically for people with spinach in their teeth
  • The difference between habits, rules, and rituals, and why they are critical to shaping us into who we want to be

This was a riveting discussion and one that easily could have gone for hours. If you’ve ever wondered how you’d respond in any of these eye-opening experiments, you have to listen to this interview. If you’re anything like me, you’ll learn something new about yourself, whether you want to or not.  

Enjoy!

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

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May 25, 2018
Earning Your Stripes
01:49:33

On this episode of the Knowledge Project Podcast, I chat with Patrick Collison, co-founder and CEO of the leading online payment processing company, Stripe. If you’ve purchased anything online recently, there’s a good chance that Stripe facilitated the transaction.

What is now an organization with over a thousand employees and handling tens of billions of dollars of online purchases every year, began as a small side experiment while Patrick and his brother John were going to college.  

During our conversation, Patrick shares the details of their unlikely journey and some of the hard-earned wisdom he picked up along the way. I hope you have something handy to write with because the nuggets per minute in this episode are off the charts. Patrick was so open and generous with his responses that I’m really excited for you to hear what he has to say.

Here are just a few of the things we cover:

  • The biggest (and most valuable) mistakes Patrick made in the early days of Stripe and how they helped him get better
  • The characteristics that Patrick looks for in a new hire to fit and contribute to the Stripe company culture
  • What compelled he and his brother to move forward with the early concept of Stripe, even though on paper it was doomed to fail from the start
  • The gaps Patrick saw in the market that dozens of other processing companies were missing — and how he capitalized on them
  • The lessons Patrick learned from scaling Stripe from two employees (he and his brother) to nearly 1,000 today
  • How he evaluates the upsides and potential dangers of speculative positions within the company
  • How his Irish upbringing influenced his ability to argue and disagree without taking offense (and how we can all be a little more “Irish”)
  • The power of finding the right peer group in your social and professional circles and how impactful and influential it can be in determining where you end up.
  • The 4 ways Patrick has modified his decision making process over the last 5 years and how it’s helped him develop as a person and as a business leader (this part alone is worth the listen)
  • Patrick’s unique approach to books and how he chooses what he’s going to spend his time reading

...life in Silicon Valley, Baumol’s cost disease, and so, so much more.

Patrick truly is one of the most warm, humble and down to earth people I’ve had the pleasure to speak with and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation together. I hope you will too!

***

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May 02, 2018
Learning How to Learn
01:33:38

Just when I start to think I’m using my time well and getting a lot done in my life, I meet someone like Barbara Oakley.

Barbara is a true polymath. She was a captain in the U.S. Army, a Russian translator on Soviet trawlers, a radio operator in the South Pole, an engineer, university professor, researcher and the author of 8 books.

Oh, and she is also the creator and instructor of Learning to Learn, the most popular Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) ever(!), with over one million enrolled students.

In this fascinating interview, we cover many aspects of learning, including how to make it stick so we remember more and forget less, how to be more efficient so we learn more quickly, and how to remove that barriers that get in the way of effective learning.

Specifically, Barbara covers:

  • How she changed her brain from hating math and science to loving it so much she now teaches engineering to college students
  • What neuroscience can tell us about how to learn more effectively
  • The two modes of your brain and how that impacts what and how you learn
  • Why backing off can sometimes be the best thing you can do when learning something new
  • How to “chunk” your learning so new knowledge is woven into prior knowledge making it easily accessible
  • The best ways to develop new patterns of learning in our brains
  • How to practice a skill so you can blast through plateaus and improve more quickly
  • Her favorite tactic for dealing with procrastination so you can spend more time learning
  • The activities she recommends that rapidly increase neural connections like fertilizer on the brain
  • Whether memorization has a place in learning anymore, or simply a barrier to true understanding
  • The truth about “learning types” and how identifying as a visual or auditory learner might be setting yourself up for failure.

...and a whole lot more.

If you want to be the most efficient learner you can be, and have more fun doing it, you won’t want to miss this discussion.

 

***

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Apr 10, 2018
Collaboration and Competition
01:16:38

Today, I’m joined by speaker, international executive and five-time author Margaret Heffernan. We discuss how to get the most out of our people, creating a thriving culture of trust and collaboration, and how to prevent potentially devastating “willful blindness.”

***

As former CEO of five successful businesses, Margaret Heffernan has been on the front lines observing the very human tendencies (selective blindness, conflict avoidance, and self sabotage to name a few) that cause managers and sometimes entire organizations to go astray.

She has since written five books and has spoken all over the world to warn, educate and instruct leaders to not only be aware of these tendencies, but how to weed them out of our companies, our business, and even our relationships.

In this conversation, we discuss many of the concepts she shares in her books, namely:

  • How to tap into the collective knowledge of your organization so problems are solved quickly, efficiently, and cooperatively.
  • The strange experiment Margaret ran to build “social capital” in one of her early businesses that transformed the way her employees treated and interacted with each other
  • How to build a culture that doesn’t create in-fighting and unhealthy competition within your organization, and how many companies today are missing the mark
  • One simple thing you can do as a leader to increase the buy-in, productivity and overall satisfaction of your team members (and it takes less than 30 seconds to do.)
  • The dangers of binary thinking and how Margaret catches herself from oversimplifying a situation.
  • Why arguing may be one of the purest forms of collaboration — and how to do it correctly.
  • How to identify the environment and context where you do your best work and how to best replicate it.
  • How “willful blindness” has caused catastrophic disasters in business, professional and personal relationships, and what we can do to avoid being another statistic
  • The wonderful advice Margaret gave to her kids when it came to choosing a career path

And much more.

***

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Mar 13, 2018
Survival of the Kindest
01:19:58

When Pixar was dreaming up the idea for Inside Out, a film that would explore the roiling emotions inside the head of a young girl, they needed guidance from an expert. So they called Dacher Keltner.

Dacher is a psychologist at UC Berkeley who has dedicated his career to understanding how human emotion shapes the way we interact with the world, how we properly manage difficult or stressful situations, and ultimately, how we treat one another.

In fact, he refers to emotions as the “language of social living.” The more fluent we are in this language, the happier and more meaningful our lives can be.

We tackle a wide variety of topics in this conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

You’ll learn:

  • The three main drivers that determine your personal happiness and life satisfaction
  • Simple things you can do everyday to jumpstart the “feel good” reward center of your brain
  • The principle of “jen” and how we can use “high-jen behaviors” to bootstrap our own happiness
  • How to have more positive influence in our homes, at work and in our communities.
  • How to teach your kids to be more kind and empathetic in an increasingly self-centered world
  • What you can do to stay grounded and humble if you are in a position of power or authority
  • How to catch our own biases when we’re overly critical of another’s ideas (or overconfident in our own)

And much more. We could have spent an hour discussing any one of these points alone, but there was so much I wanted to cover. I’m certain you’ll find this episode well worth your time.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

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Feb 21, 2018
A Decision Making Jedi
01:16:47

Michael Mauboussin returns for a fascinating encore interview on the Knowledge Project. We geek out on decision making, luck vs. skill, work life balance, and so much more.

***

Michael Mauboussin is back as a returning guest on the Knowledge Project!

He was actually the very first guest on the podcast when it was still very much an experiment. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to continue with the show. (If you missed his last interview, you can listen to it here, or if you’re a member of The Learning Community, you can download a transcript.)

Michael is one of my very favorite people to talk to, and I couldn’t wait to pick up right where we left off.

In this interview, Michael and I dive deep into some of the topics we care most about here at Farnam Street, including:

  • The concept of “base rates” and how they can help us make far better decisions and avoid the pain and consequences of making poor choices.
  • How to know where you land on the luck/skill continuum and why it matters
  • Michael’s advice on creating a systematic decision-making process in your organization to improve outcomes.
  • The two most important elements of any decision-making process
  • How to train your intuition to be one of your most powerful assets instead of a dangerous liability
  • The three tests Michael uses in his company to determine the health and financial stability of his environment
  • Why “algorithm aversion” is creating such headaches in many organizations and how to help your teams overcome it, so you can make more rapid progress
  • The most impactful books that he’s read since we last spoke, is reading habits, and the strategies he uses to get the most of every book
  • The importance of sleep in Michael's’ life to make sure his body and mind are running at peak efficiency
  • His greatest failures and what he learned from them
  • How Michael and his wife raised their kids and the unique parenting style they adopted
  • How Michael defines happiness and the decisions he makes to maximize the joy in his life

Any one of those insights alone is worth a listen, so I think you’re really going to enjoy this interview.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

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Jan 23, 2018
The Art of Letting Other People Have Your Way
01:22:25

In this episode, we get negotiation coaching from Chris Voss, former lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI.

***

Whether you’re buying a car, requesting a raise at work, or just deciding where to eat out with your spouse or partner, your negotiating skills will determine how pleased you are with the outcome.

Today, we have the special opportunity to learn some of the most effective tactics and strategies from a true master, Chris Voss.

Chris is the former lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI and author of the excellent book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As Though Your Life Depended On It.

In this fascinating conversation, Chris shares how you can use the same techniques that have been field tested in some of the most high-stakes, pressure cooker situations, in your daily life.

If you want to become a better haggler, a better communicator, or a better listener, don’t miss this episode. It’s packed with actionable insights you can start using today to be more persuasive and grab hold of more of what you want in life.

Here are just a few things we cover:

  • What it really takes to be great at negotiating (most people approach it all wrong)
  • How to keep your emotions in check in a negotiation
  • The three different voices you use to connect with your counterpart and put them at ease
  • How many of us “take ourselves hostage” in a negotiation and ruin it before it starts
  • The biggest time-waster (and profit-killer) that plagues so many negotiations
  • The main problems with traditional negotiation techniques (BATNA etc) and how they’re leaving lots on the table
  • The “negotiation one-sheet” Chris uses before entering into any negotiation (and how you can use it to)
  • How to use an “accusations audit” when you’re structuring winning deals (this is brilliant)
  • One technique to get your counterpart to spill their guts when they’re trying to be tight-lipped. “Prospect theory” and how to use it to your advantage
  • Maximizing employee satisfaction in the hiring process so you get the best talent...and keep them!
  • How empathy saves time and makes you more likely to get what you want in a negotiation
  • The power of deference (and when to use it)
  • Chris’ go to tools that work best on all personality types, in nearly any situation
  • How intentionally getting the other party to say “no” substantially increases the success rate of a negotiation

And much more.

An edited transcript is available to members of the Farnam Street Learning Community or for purchase separately ($9).

***

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Jan 03, 2018
Improving The Questions You Ask
01:22:36
The quality of your outcome depends on the quality of your questions.

Through asking the right questions we can spark innovation and creativity, gain deeper knowledge in the topics that are most important to us, and propel us forward in our personal and professional pursuits.

Yet very few of us do it well — if we do it at all.

My guest on the podcast today is Warren Berger — journalist, speaker, best selling author, and self-proclaimed questionologist.

His insightful book A More Beautiful Question shows how the world’s leading innovators, education leaders, creative thinkers, and red-hot start-ups ask game-changing questions to nurture creativity, solve problems, and create new possibilities.

In this episode, we discuss the importance of asking the right questions, why they’re critical to your success, and how you may be one great question away from a major breakthrough.

You’ll also learn:

  • How Warren manages the constant input and stimulation from online consumption when it’s time to create.
  • The small habits that pack the biggest punch and make the most difference in Warren’s life
  • What makes a question more or less effective
  • How to create a culture where questions are welcome and encouraged
  • Why answering all your kids’ questions may be doing them a disservice — and what to do instead
  • What “collaborative inquiry” is and how to use it to get the most out of your teams in the workplace
  • How Warren transformed one of his most painful failures into one of his most proud achievements
  • Why Warren insists that everyone is creative, and what we can do to fan the flames of our own creativity

If you think you could improve the quality (and frequency) of your questions to enhance key areas of your life, this is not a conversation you’ll want to miss.

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

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Dec 14, 2017
Is Sugar Slowly Killing Us?
01:43:35

It seems that nowadays, aside from religion and politics, one of the most hotly debated topics is that of nutrition.

Should we eat high carb diets? Low carb? High fat? High protein? What about wheat or gluten? Should we eat meat or adopt a vegan diet?

There are as many opinions as there are people — and books, magazines and websites are overflowing with information showing you the “right” way to eat and exercise to lose weight.

But if “eating less and moving more” is all it takes to lose weight and enjoy a healthy lifestyle, why are so many of us fat and getting fatter?

In this episode, I chat with Gary Taubes, bestselling author of three books, The Case Against Sugar (2016), Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It (2011) and Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007).

We talk about the sharp rise of obesity and diabetes in America, the structural hurdles to effective nutrition research, and explore the common myth that a calorie is just a calorie.

Here are a few other things you’ll learn in this interview:

  • How diets shifted in the last century, and what impact it’s having on our bodies today.
  • Why a carb isn’t just a carb — and why you should know the difference
  • Is the sugar industry the new Big Tobacco?
  • What role genetics play in our health, and how much is under our control
  • Why humans are so attracted to sugar and how to break the habit
  • Gary’s suggestions to improve your health, drop body fat and feel terrific
  • The benefits of fasting and how you can try it out yourself

And a bunch more.

If you think at all about your health, give this podcast a listen. 

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more episodes go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

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Nov 30, 2017
Leading the “Quiet Revolution”
56:59

For decades, introversion was looked at as something to overcome, almost like an illness. The way to win in life was through charisma, outspokenness, and self-promotion.

Even now, in an increasingly noisy world, introverts may feel added pressure to take one of two paths: force themselves into more extroverted behavior, or become even more reserved and shrink back to themselves.

My guest Susan Cain says both paths are wrong and in fact, rob the world of the unique contributions introverts make when they choose to be true to themselves.

Susan knows what she’s talking about. A self-proclaimed introvert, she wrote the New York Times bestselling book, Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking and delivered one of the most popular TED talks ever delivered, with nearly 18 million views to date.

Whether you consider yourself an extrovert, an introvert, or an ambivert (those lucky bastards in the middle) you’ll find a ton of value in this interview.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more episodes go to https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/the-knowledge-project/

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Nov 01, 2017
Life Lessons from a Self-Made Billionaire
01:31:25

Are you in love with your own ideas regardless of how good they are Would you like to make better decisions and fewer mistakes? Would you like to improve the most important relationships in your life?

These are just some of the topics I discuss with my guest, Ray Dalio.

Ray Dalio is the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, and is the author of the new book Principles: Life and Work. He is also a leading figure in the world of philanthropy, is an avid supporter of transcendental meditation, and has appeared on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Ray gave me over an hour and a half of his time, and I didn’t waste a minute of it. 

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode go to https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2017/10/ray-dalio/

For more episodes go to https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/the-knowledge-project/

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Oct 11, 2017
Givers, Takers, and the Resilient Mind
01:27:42

Are you a giver or a taker? Have you ever struggled to find work/life balance? How do you build resilience in yourself, your team, or your children?

I tackle these topics and many more in this interview with my special guest, Adam Grant.

In this interview, we cover a lot, including:

  • How to tell if you are a giver or a taker (Spoiler: if you just told yourself you’re a giver, you might be in for a rude awakening)
  • How Adam filters down hundreds of ideas and opportunities to the select few he focuses on
  • How to tell if your business idea is a winner or a huge waste of time
  • Why “quick to start and slow to finish” is great advice for budding entrepreneurs
  • How to nurture creativity and resilience in your children (or team culture)
  • How to create positive competitive environments that bring out the best in people
  • Adam’s two core family values and how he instills them in his children
  • “Mental time travel” and how it can make you resilient to any challenge or obstacle
  • Why “how can I be more productive” is the wrong question to ask (and what to ask instead)
  • How Adam and I each address the topic of work/life balance

And so much more.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode go to https://fs.blog/adam-grant/

For more episodes go to https://fs.blog/the-knowledge-project/

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Sep 21, 2017
The Warrior Poet and the Secret to a Happy Life
01:01:21

Ed Latimore (@EdLatimore) might be the most interesting person you'll ever meet.

Ed is a professional heavyweight boxer, physics major, and philosopher. He's also the author of the cult-hit Not Caring What Other People Think Is a Superpower. If there's anything Ed feels like doing, he simply does it.

This interview explores the physics of boxing, the value of a coach, and much of Ed’s hard-fought wisdom. You’ll discover:

  • How the painful end to a relationship lit a fire under Ed that hasn’t stopped burning
  • How Ed knows when he’s bitten off more than he can chew and needs to ease up on the accelerator
  • Why motivation is a terrible way to achieve great things (and what to do instead)
  • The unlikely way that Ed’s runaway best selling book came about
  • Why Ed thinks every person should step into the boxing ring at least once in their life
  • How people get stuck on the “dopamine treadmill” which feels productive but actually gets you nowhere (this is the kiss of death if you want to accomplish any important goal)
  • Ed’s brilliant philosophy on pain and suffering that will change the way you view hardships in your life
  • Ed’s somewhat controversial approach to coaching children and getting the very best out of them
  • The most important element of creating a positive habit (most people get this wrong)

And more.

After listening to this warrior poet, you won’t look at life the same again.

Enjoy this amazing conversation.

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://fs.blog/podcast/

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Aug 09, 2017
The Future of Transportation
59:34

Marc Garneau (@MarcGarneau) is a Canadian politician, Engineer, and the Minister of Transport. This interview was recorded live in front of an audience in Montreal. As a bilingual country, you'll hear bits of French from the audience questions here and there but the interview is predominately in English.

In this interview, we discuss the future of transportation (including self-driving cars), infrastructure investments, space, what it means to be a liberal in 2017, how we — as citizens — can judge an elected politician, how he ensures he's getting accurate information in a political system and so much more. 

Enjoy this amazing conversation.

Jul 02, 2017
The Psychology of Advertising
01:56:13

Rory Sutherland (@rorysutherland) is the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Group, which is one of the largest and most renowned advertising agencies in the world.

Rory started the behavioral insights team and spends his days applying behavioral economics and evolutionary psychology to solve problems that traditional advertising agencies haven't been able to solve.

In this wide-ranging interview we discuss:

  • Why advertising agencies are being asked to solve airport security problems
  • How to reframe problems to synthesize happiness for customers even in the lousiest conditions
  • How great storytelling can do everything from increase sales to make beer taste better
  • Why companies are more willing to throw money at infrastructure than they are to invest in behavioral change (and why it backfires)
  • What doormen, London’s black cab service, and ancient medieval guilds can teach Silicon Valley about business
  • One of the most interesting studies ever done that shows how irrational humans are
  • “Transaction utility” and how context and expectations wildly influence how much we are willing to pay for goods and services

And that just scratches the surface. We tackle how to mess with self-driving cars, Rory’s reading habits, the intersection of advertising and psychology, why dry toilet paper is a Western abomination, and so much more.

Don’t miss this episode. Rory will forget more about advertising and behavioral psychology than most of us will learn during our lifetime. This is truly a masterclass from a persuasion technician that has few equals.

If you want to get better at divergent thinking, persuasion, or just want to know why we do some of the silly things we do, this episode is a must-listen.

Enjoy this amazing conversation.

May 30, 2017
The Angel Philosopher
02:01:21

Naval Ravikant (@naval) is the CEO and co-founder of AngelList. He’s invested in more than 100 companies, including Uber, Twitter, Yammer, and many others.

It’s difficult to nail down exactly what we discuss in our conversation because I had so many questions to ask him. Naval is an incredibly deep thinker who challenges the status quo on so many things. This is an interview you’ll want to listen to, think a bit, and then listen to again.

Here are just a few of the many things we cover in this episode:

  • What a “typical day” looks like (not the answer I expected, and not one you’ve likely heard before)
  • How Naval developed his legendary reading habits and how he finds time to read no matter how busy life gets
  • How the internet has impacted book reading (both good and bad) and how to make sure you’re getting the best information from the most reliable sources
  • What popular habit advice Naval thinks is BS and why
  • Naval’s habit stacking technique that helped him overcome a desire for alcohol and other potentially destructive habits
  • How Naval’s core values give direction to his life and how those values developed over time
  • Naval’s thoughts on the current education system and what we can do to facilitate better learning for our children
  • Naval’s favorite mental models for making critical high-stakes decisions
  • His brilliant two-factor calendar authentication concept to keep him focused on only the most important projects
  • Naval’s definition for the meaning of life (buckle up for this one)
  • His amazing response to the investor who wanted to be just like Steve Jobs

And so, so much more.

Just a heads up, this is the longest podcast I’ve ever done. While it felt like only thirty minutes, our conversation lasted over two hours!

And although it is the longest, it’s also our most downloaded episode on the Knowledge Project, so make sure you have a pen and paper handy. There’s a lot of wisdom up for grabs here.

Enjoy this amazing conversation.

***

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For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

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Feb 27, 2017
Aristotle Koskinas on Greek History
01:03:08

This is one of 2 interviews that I conducted while visiting Greece this summer. Greek history is deep routed in many things as philosophy, democracy and culture and has laid the foundation of so much of what we know and how we live today. Today I speak with Aristotle Koskinas (@aristotlekoskin), a guide with Athens walking tours. He's one of the best guides you can find in Athens. In order to be a guide in Greece, an individual must complete a 2½ year program at the School of Tourist Guides in Greece - which is a state school under the Ministry of Development. Some of the courses in the curriculum include Ancient Greek history, Byzantine history, Prehistoric Archaeology, Mythology, Geology, history of Theater –and psychology of the tourist. Listen in for details on the history of Athens over the past 3000 years, the influence Greek culture has had across the world, and some insight on what surprises him meeting visitors from different countries.

Jan 05, 2017
Santorini Wine with Panayiota Kalogeropoulou
29:29

The island of Santorini has not only has breathtaking views but also a fascinating history. Traces of its first inhabitants have been linked back to 4500 BC. In 1613 BC the most powerful volcanic event in the last 10,000 years took place – completely destroying all the islands within a 60 km radius. It has been estimated that 90 billion tons of molten rock was injected into the air, the sea swallowed the volcano, and a massive tsunami swept across the Aegean Sea. Along with the obvious devastation of nature, it is believed that the eruption also sealed the deal for the most civilized nation on the island at the time, the Minoans. Thanks to the thick layer of ash cause by the event, the Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri was so well preserved that we are able to see how prosperous the area had once been with an elaborate drainage systems, multi-storied buildings, incredible wall paintings, furniture and vessels. The site has as much of a significant importance as does Pompeii. The island’s main volcanic rock, its mineral rich soil, and the amazing climate, has produced some incredibly unique wines. Santorini is known for some of the oldest vineyards in the world. And we know that wine is one of my favourite topics. On today’s podcast I speak with Panayiota Kalogeropoulou about Santorini’s wines. Panayiota is the Director at the Domaine Sigalas vineyard. Paris Sigalas, a mathematician with a goal to make his Santorini vineyard a world heritage site, focuses on grapes that thrive in Santorini (these include the Aidani, Athiri, Plantana – and the prime Greek grape Assyrtiko).

Jan 05, 2017
Future-Proof Your Knowledge
46:24

Samuel Arbesman is a complexity scientist whose work focuses on the nature of scientific and technological change. Sam's also written two books that I love, The Half-Life of Facts and Overcomplicated.

In this episode, Sam and I discuss:

  • Our relationship with technology and how it has shifted the way we consume and retain information
  • What “mesofacts” are and how to keep our mental databases updated in a world that’s constantly changing
  • Whether art or science is more fundamental to a thriving, successful society
  • The metrics Sam uses to define success for himself
  • The difference between physics thinking and biological thinking and why it matters
  • The phrase Sam’s father repeated to him every time he left the house that helped shape who he is today
  • The books that had the most profound impact on Sam’s life/li>
  • How to prioritize our learning so we’re spending time on information with the highest return on our investment

And much, much more!

If you love learning, but feel like it’s impossible to keep up with the endless flow of information in the world, then Sam’s your guy.

Enjoy this fascinating interview below.

Nov 28, 2016
Reading, Writing, and Lifelong Learning
58:38

On this episode, I’m happy to have Morgan Housel (@morganhousel).

Morgan is a partner at the Collaborative Fund. He’s a former columnist at the Motley Fool and a former columnist of the Wall Street Journal. His work has also been published in Time, USA Today, World Affairs, and Business Insider. You name it, he’s been there. Simply put, he’s one of the shining lights of the business press.

More than that, though, he’s one of the few people that I read all the time. As I’ve gotten to know him over the years, I can also tell you he’s an exceptional person.

We cover a lot in this interview, including:

  • What valets are really doing in your sports car once you hand over the keys
  • Morgan’s shocking discovery that his dream of becoming an investment banker wasn’t a good fit
  • The hilarious way Morgan was “not fired” from one of his earliest jobs
  • The three types of financial writing and the one Morgan finds most useful for readers
  • The brilliant method Morgan uses to keep his confirmation biases in check
  • When it’s ok to change your mind and when it’s important to double down on what you know
  • The teachers that most influenced Morgan’s life and what they did differently that made them so outstanding
  • The process Morgan uses to generate fresh ideas even when he feels like he’s exhausted them all
  • How he structures his daily routines around when he does his best thinking and writing

We even tackle a few of your questions, like what would he do if he knew there were no consequences, how life has changed since becoming a new father, and what’s on his bucket list.

You’re going to love getting to know Morgan. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

Oct 24, 2016
The Rise of The Machines
01:02:31

On this episode of The Knowledge Project Podcast, I am so happy to have Pedro Domingos (@pmddomingos) who is a professor at the University of Washington.

Domingos is the leading researcher in machine learning and recently wrote an amazing book calledThe Master Algorithm. I was fortunate enough to have a long and fascinating conversation with him over dinner one night that lead to the recording of this episode. I think you’re going to love it.

In this conversation we explore:

  • The three sources from which all humans obtained their knowledge for thousands of years, and how a new fourth is changing everything.
  • How AI is finding its way into every sector of our lives, and what that means for future jobs and future opportunities
  • Why white collar jobs are easier to replace than blue collar jobs and what the workforce may look like in the near future
  • How a hedge fund recently placed an algorithm as a full voting member of their board of directors
  • The difference between traditional computer science and machine learning and how it will impact technology
  • The five major schools of machine learning and how they’re revolutionizing the way computers analyze information
  • How “robot scientists” could transform the way we make medical and scientific discoveries (one recently discovered a drug for malaria)
  • How machines might compete in professional sports and serve more entertainment purposes
  • The future of self-driving cars and how humans will learn to adapt to them as the technology improves
  • Pedro’s vision of the future of AI and human’s daily interaction with AI

If you use technology in any way, you’re going to be floored by this interview. Enjoy!

Aug 30, 2016
Wine Lessons From a World Class Sommelier
01:02:10

On this episode of The Knowledge Project, I talk about one of my favorite subjects with one of the most respected sommeliers in the world: Véronique Rivest.

After placing twice in the top 12 in 2007 and 2010, Véronique became the first woman to make the podium by taking second place at the world's best sommelier competition in Tokyo in March 2013. She's also the owner of Soif in Hull, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite wine bars.

On this episode we learn:

  • How Véronique self-directed her education in wine, and the steps she took to become one of the best in the world.
  • The three traits of every sommelier (the most important one actually has nothing to do with their knowledge of wine)
  • How to properly taste wine (including an on-air tasting where Véronique guides me through the three phases of wine tasting)
  • Tips and tricks for serving wine to enhance the experience
  • The twenty-minute rule that ensures you serve perfect wine, every time
  • How to tell if a bottle has been corked and why it matters
  • The first rule of a wine tasting, no matter how much or little you know about wine
  • How to hone your sense of taste to appreciate the subtleties that each wine has to offer
  • How to host a wine tasting party that will impress your guests

If you want to impress everyone at the table the next time you’re at a restaurant with friends, listen to what Véronique has to say in this episode. You’ll be a wine expert in no time.

 

Jul 24, 2016
Media Manipulator
45:27

Ryan Holiday is the author of a number of incredible books, including Trust Me I'm LyingThe Obstacle is the Way, and Ego is the Enemy. He also runs Brass Check, a premier book marketing agency responsible for dozens of New York Times bestsellers and tens of millions of books sold. In short, Ryan is the real deal.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What Stoicism is and how it differs from many of the mainstream “philosophies” you learn about in school
  • How Dr. Drew is partially responsible for putting Ryan on the Stoic path
  • How Stoicism has helped Ryan navigate some of the challenges he’s faced in his life
  • How Ryan juggles everything he has to do as a writer, a business owner, and consultant
  • The impact working with Robert Greene had on Ryan and how that experience influenced everything from his writing, how he does research, and even the kind of person he turned out to be
  • How Ryan uses the famous Notecard System he learned as a researcher for Robert Greene
  • Why Ryan insists on writing his thoughts longhand, and why copy and paste is almost a capital offense
  • The process Ryan uses to write a book and what the ideation, writing and editing stages look like
  • The brilliant way Ryan runs his consulting business, including how he charges clients and how he gracefully handles people looking for free advice

You're going to get so much out of this episode. Enjoy!

May 16, 2016
Are we too busy to pay attention to life?
43:23

An inbetweenisode of sorts where Jeff Annello and I discuss whether we're too busy to pay attention to life - on whether we're too busy to live. If you want more of these let me know #tkp on twitter.

Mar 30, 2016
The Architecture of Music
56:29

On this episode of The Knowledge Project, I talk about the architecture of music with conductor Alexander Shelley. Out of all the amazing conversations I've had, this might be my favorite.

Shelley is currently chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra and music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.

In this fascinating interview, we discuss:

  • How Alexander prepares himself before stepping on stage (and how his process changes depending on the music the orchestra will play)
  • Why live performances create a powerful and almost spiritual experience
  • The delicate relationship between audience, orchestra, and conductor and how balancing them is like a beautiful dance
  • How to manage the egos, personalities, and different playing styles of 80 world-class musicians on any given night
  • How the structures of music have changed over the years, and how our ears still recognize shapes and patterns in any piece from any era
  • Why Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is so popular (Alexander breaks down the DNA of the song and how all music has its own unique “cell structure.” This alone is worth listening to the interview)
  • Why the sciences and the arts are inseparable and should be studied, practiced and revered hand in hand
  • How familiarity with music history allows you to appreciate and enjoy any piece of music (even current pop hits) at a whole new level

Whether you’re someone who always has music playing, or just occasionally taps your fingers on the steering wheel when the occasional tune comes on, you’re going to absolutely love this episode. I can’t say enough about it.

Enjoy the interview!

Mar 18, 2016
The Art of Changing Minds
53:39

On this episode of The Knowledge Project, I talk rationality, changing minds (our own and others), filtering information, the role of intuition, and a lot more with Julia Galef.

Galef is the President and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, a non-profit organization based in Berkeley, California, devoted to developing, testing and training people in strategies for reasoning and decision making.

She also hosts the Rationally Speaking podcast, a biweekly show featuring conversations about science and philosophy.

This is a topic I could talk about for hours, so we wasted no time at all. In this discussion, we cover a lot of ground, including:

  • What happened when Julia was 7 years old that first sparked a lifelong interest in good argument
  • The one thing her parents did that helps her keep an open mind to new evidence even when she might be wrong
  • The two types of rationality and how they both affect the way we view reality and the world we live in
  • Why she co-founded the Center for Applied Rationality and how they are changing the way people think about problems and make decisions
  • The role intuition plays in our decision-making process, (and when we can trust it to take over)
  • What the strengths and weaknesses of the 2 systems of our brain are and how they interact to help us function
  • The two-step process to changing minds (both your own and others’)
  • Julia’s tips on how to process the daily deluge of available information with a more rational mind

And a lot more ...

Feb 20, 2016
The Three Types of Decision Makers
01:06:25

Venkatesh Rao is the founder of the blog Ribbonfarm, the technology analysis site Breaking Smart, and the author of a book on decision making called Tempo.

We talk about a host of fascinating subjects, including:

  • The dangers and the benefits of tribalistic and individualistic thinking
  • The 3 types of decision makers and a brief overview of each (which are you?)
  • The brilliant way he describes the power of mental models through Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings
  • How mental models simplify the sheer volume of information our brains are forced to process every day
  • Why it’s critical to continually update your mental models, and how most people are doing this wrong
  • How Venkatesh processes the information he reads, and how he handles material he doesn’t enjoy reading
  • How technology will impact the way we run businesses, manage people, and even interact with each other
Jan 28, 2016
How to See the Future
46:00

On this episode, I'm happy to have Philip Tetlock, author, and professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

He's the co-leader of The Good Judgement Project, which is a multi-year forecasting study. He also wrote the New York Times best-selling book,Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction and Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?

In this interview, we dive into the meat and potatoes of what we can do to get better at the art and science of prediction, including:

  • What traits and characteristics make one person a more accurate forecaster than another
  • The 15 minute exercise that radically improves the average forecaster’s accuracy
  • How Philip’s mantra, “Start with the outside and work inside” can prevent you from making incorrect assumptions when making an important decision
  • How we can foster open-mindedness in ourselves and other people in our organizations
  • What the “Fermi method” is and how it can help flush out your ignorance when wrestling with a problem/li>
  • How much of prediction is a learnable skill, and how much is just dumb luck
  • How organizations can use Philip’s research to create a culture of creative problem solving (even if it means mistakes are more visible to others)

And much more.

Dec 08, 2015
The State of Venture Capital
55:57

On this episode, I have Chris Dixon.

Chris is a partner at perhaps the most famous venture capital firm in the world, Andreessen Horowitz or commonly known as a16z.

We talk about the history of venture capital, why companies fail, the future of artificial intelligence and the Idea Maze. I hope you like this interview as much as I did.

Nov 13, 2015
Elevate Your Financial IQ
01:00:13

On this episode I have Jason Zweig. Jason writes The Intelligent Investor column for the Wall Street Journal. He has also written books like Your Money and Your Brain, The Little Book of Safe Money, and taken part in revised editions of the cult classic The Intelligent Investor. He’s got a new book coming out called The Devil’s Financial Dictionary, which we’ll talk about. Jason is an extraordinary person who offers historical perspectives on today’s seemingly important financial news.

We talk about a host of things, including what his day looks like; why he adds a philosophical and historical view to his columns; the relentless flow of news; his new book The Devil’s Financial Dictionary, what the average investor should do and so much more. 

Oct 19, 2015
Why Mental Models?
53:33

In this episode of The Knowledge Project, I have on the show one of my favorite people: Sanjay Bakshi.

Sanjay is one of India’s most recognized finance professors. He teaches a course entitled Behavioural Finance and Business Valuation at the Management Development Institute. And while he probably doesn’t want me to mention this, not only is he an amazing teacher; he is also a skilled practitioner. He is one of the most successful investors you will ever meet.

In this interview, we talk about a host of things, including:

  • Why Sanjay has built an impressive anti-library, yet prefers to read on a Kindle
  • How to develop a multi-disciplinary approach to learning so you’re building breadth as well as depth in your knowledge
  • The clever mental trick Sanjay uses to keep an open mind about problems he’s working on
  • How he teaches his students to seek multiple perspectives when learning something new, and how it impacts their retention and understanding
  • How mental models transformed Sanjay’s investing strategies and spilled into other areas of his life as well
  • How Sanjay filters the deluge of information that’s coming at him every day to focus on the details that are most important.
  • What the most sustainable business models look like and the characteristics they share
  • Whether it’s advantageous to be more intuitive or data-driven in business, and how to develop those traits
  • Which book Sanjay reads three times a year and finds new pearls of wisdom every time he cracks it open

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

My free weekly Brain Food digest helps you upgrade your thinking. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet)

Sep 18, 2015
Leadership on the Field, in the Office, and at Home
32:56

This episode features Michael Lombardi, former General Manager of the Cleveland Browns and current member of the coaching staff on the New England Patriots. He's widely regarded as one of the best evaluators of talent in the NFL and as we'll see, a lot more goes into that than measuring talent.

In this packed interview with Michael, you’ll learn:

  • The four elements of leadership (that are just as applicable in the home and office as they are on the football field)
  • The key differences between good coaches and bad coaches and how to see where you are on the spectrum
  • How Michael evaluates a player’s ability to fit into the culture and system of a team (lots of carryover for recruiting into a company or other organization)
  • The importance of divergent thinking in an organization to avoid “groupthink” and stagnant progress
  • How to manage big egos and get players to cooperate to reach a team objective rather than compete for the spotlight
  • Why focusing on processes and not outcomes is an overlooked strategy to reach lofty goals
  • What coaching in the NFL has taught Michael about parenting

Whether you’re a fan of American football or not, there are lots of insights to be learned from this episode.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

My free weekly Brain Food digest helps you upgrade your thinking. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet)

May 29, 2015
When To Trust Your Gut
38:58

The first episode of The Knowledge Project features Michael Mauboussin, the head of Global Financial Strategies at Credit Suisse. He's also written numerous books, including More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places,Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition, and most recentlyThe Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing.

More importantly, Mauboussin spends more time thinking about thinking than most people.

In this inaugural episode, we explore:

  • How Michael structures his day (and which elements are absolutely essential to fit in no matter what’s on his plate)
  • How “chunking” his time when performing tasks seems to result in a more productive day
  • What role intuition plays in making big decisions and when it should be minimized
  • How deliberate practice can help hone our intuition so we can lean on it when it matters
  • How to audit your decision making process so you continually get better
  • Effective ways to challenge the status quo in your organization, even if you’re at the bottom of the totem pole
  • Tools and methods Michael uses with his children to encourage them to think for themselves
  • How technology affects our decision making processes both positively and negatively
  • The books that most influenced Michael’s life and why they mean so much to him

And much more.

I hope you enjoy this new format of learning the best of what others have already figured out.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

My free weekly Brain Food digest helps you upgrade your thinking. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet)

Apr 28, 2015