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Productive Flourishing

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Productive Flourishing (formerly the Creative Giant Show) explores how to do the work that matters to become your best self in the world. Host Charlie Gilkey and occasional co-host Angela Wheeler take listeners on a deep dive into the lives of leaders, changemakers, creatives, and entrepreneurs who are thriving in life and business by doing work that matters. Listen in to see how they cultivate meaning, success, and happiness as well as their approach to productivity, business, health, and the challenges (yes, even the deep, dark ones) that show up in their lives.

Read more

Productive Flourishing (formerly the Creative Giant Show) explores how to do the work that matters to become your best self in the world. Host Charlie Gilkey and occasional co-host Angela Wheeler take listeners on a deep dive into the lives of leaders, changemakers, creatives, and entrepreneurs who are thriving in life and business by doing work that matters. Listen in to see how they cultivate meaning, success, and happiness as well as their approach to productivity, business, health, and the challenges (yes, even the deep, dark ones) that show up in their lives.

iTunes Ratings

92 Ratings
Average Ratings

Christina Scalera’s episode

By Lindsey_90 - Feb 28 2018
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Absolutely loved listening to Christina's episode! Always so great to hear her expertise!

Excellent Podcast

By Andy Molinsky - Jan 23 2018
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Excellent guests, great moderator and thoughtful discussion. Worth a listen for sure.

iTunes Ratings

92 Ratings
Average Ratings

Christina Scalera’s episode

By Lindsey_90 - Feb 28 2018
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Absolutely loved listening to Christina's episode! Always so great to hear her expertise!

Excellent Podcast

By Andy Molinsky - Jan 23 2018
Read more
Excellent guests, great moderator and thoughtful discussion. Worth a listen for sure.

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

Cover image of Productive Flourishing

Productive Flourishing

Latest release on Jan 21, 2021

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 4 days ago

Rank #1: 139: The Relationship Between Grief and Creativity with Cath Duncan and Kara Jones

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We may think creativity and grief wouldn’t normally go together, and yet, creativity and grief are very much related. Cath Duncan and Kara Jones join Charlie to talk about how grief and creativity are related, and why it’s important to do our grief and creativity our own way.

Key Takeaways:

[3:34] - Cath introduces herself and how she moved from her previous work to grief work. She had her own experiences of grief and loss that changed her and taught her what was going to be important in her work, and that helped to guide her journey to her current work.

[6:08] - Kara shares her journey: she used to be an artist and a writer prior to the grief experiences that slammed her family. For her, the connections and work that came after the grief were really an organic experience. When finding reasons to get out of bed after loss, she made connections to her physical body that carried on, and her work as an artist. It was very personal, but eventually translated to connections with other people.

[9:06] - As we experience loss and death and grief, we can choose to destroy ourselves or we can choose to create. Charlie, Cath, and Kara discuss the historical connection between these concepts as well as Cath and Kara’s current work. Kara views it as sort of a continuum, where grief and creativity are ends of a spectrum, and there’s a lot of stuff happening in between. Cath suggests that we can’t have grieving without creativity.

[12:35] - Tentative definition of grieving: a social and creative meaning-making process. We all have meaning-making experiences, and we have to string them together in stories to make sense of what’s going on, how we respond, and who we are. This sort of sense of security is called the Assumptive World. A great loss can shatter this world, and grief is the process of looking at these shattered assumptions and doing a more deliberate review of priorities.

[16:15] - Cath and Kara discuss an expanded definition of creativity as it relates to grief. It goes beyond something analytical. Kara talks about some of the other aspects of everyday life that can be affected by grief, and how different people react creatively.

[20:00] - “The Myth of the Hierarchy of Loss” - Cath talks about this idea of considering socio-cultural ideas of grief and loss to try to qualify or rationalize reactions to different losses. The basic idea of the myth of the hierarchy is that some losses are more important than others, some we don’t talk about, some that society stigmatizes, and where someone thinks they get slotted into the hierarchy (whether by themselves or by others) “tells” them how much they’re allowed to grieve, how they can express it, or how long they can express it.

[23:05] In their class, Cath and Kara teach about the relationships between grieving and shame. Shame, or the idea that we’re faulty or unworthy of belonging, can weave its way into some of the answers that we are considering for our new meanings. They consider questions like where shame comes from, and what sustains shame. A lot of people have experiences that sit outside of the “normal” or “preferred,” and that’s alright.

[30:50] - This definition of creativity is not necessarily making art, but the rather the ability to envision something else. Any time we’re making something, we’re being creative. It’s not the form; it’s the process.

[33:35] - Because we’re human, a lot of us carry around unprocessed grief. In society, we may not always feel like we have adequate time to cope with our grief. Charlie invites Kara and Cath to give an invitation for the listeners in these moments. Kara invites us to explore giving ourselves permission to do what we need to do. Related to that, Cath invites us to not explore grief. If you or someone you love is in denial, that can be okay. You don’t have to perform grief in the ways that others are requiring you to.

[40:05] - Cath discusses some of the genderization of grief with regards to the performance of grief. Along with this, it is important to remember that there’s not only one way to do it. This may be difficult in families where we want to all be experiencing our grief the same way. It is important for couples and families to recognize that people might be having very different experiences and ways of expressing themselves.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Creative Giant Campfire Facebook Group

Remembering For Good

When Your Baby Dies

Remembering For Good: The Workbook

The Creative Grief Studio

Mrs. Duck and the Woman, by Kara L.C. Jones

1000 Permissions Granted, by Kara L.C. Jones (PDF)

They Were Still Born, by Janel C. Atlas

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Episode 58: How to Heal After the Loss of A Partner with Kristin Meekhof, on Productive Flourishing

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Apr 28 2017



Rank #2: Angela Wheeler: What to Do If You're Burnt Out (or Close to It) (Episode 147)

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In this episode, Angela joins Charlie to talk about tipping points in your career or business that require you to change something. These tipping points could be changing in family arrangements, burn out, or a number of different things. They look at these periods of time when you’re going through something and you can’t do “business as usual,” how to recognize those times, and what to do to deal with them.

Key Takeaways:

[3:50] - With summertime rolling in, for people who may be more naturally energetic in the earlier parts of the year, the changing of the season can create different tensions as you start to slow down. While it’s important to listen to these signals, they may not always coincide with your business demands.

[6:27] - Whether you’re burnt out, “well done,” or you see it coming, these are all things to be paying attention to. This may also be a good time to invite some reflection into your life.

[8:27] - While these situations may look different for different people, they are all situations where we need to be internally more aware. No matter what your work situation is, it’s important to be able to tune in to where your energy is at and what is going on in your personal and work life.

[11:00] - Many of our creative listeners are constantly pushing and driving. One of the life lessons to learn is to moderate the driving, or lean into the driving in certain ways. It can be easy to localize what we’re going through, but there seems to always be something else that needs to be done. Zoom out - don’t look at just what you have to do this week or this month. Look for patterns to make sure you’re not overworking yourself.

[17:32] - One thing that happens for Charlie when he gets in these situations is that it takes him a lot of effort to engage with projects he usually enjoys (and also that need to get done). For example, writing is usually cathartic, but that’s one of the things he has trouble with when he’s getting close to well-done. When he notices this, he is able to ease up slowly to avoid reaching the burn out stage.

[23:17] - For Angela, there are a few things that start to happen. She can usually tell when she’s getting closer to burn out by the fact that her mood is more easily upset, and she tends to focus on things that aren’t very helpful.

[26:55] - Both Charlie and Angela pay attention to their behaviors as an indicator of their emotional state. All of us have different ways in which the toll of stressors show up for us. You may have to ask yourself “what am I doing that’s uncharacteristic of me?” or “what’s different and what could be causing it?”

[30:35] - Some reasons for these feelings creeping up could be changes in your external world, rather than you, or your work. Any of these things can increase emotional and cognitive pressure. Sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge how they’re affecting us.

[33:28] - Business and life are always connected. We have to acknowledge when work bleeds into our lives outside work.

[35:02] - What do we do when we notice ourselves in these situations? Charlie advocates for self-compassion - when you notice you’re going through something, the first response should not be to just soldier on. Before you jump right into fixing, acknowledge that something’s going on and take it seriously.

[37:08] - Whenever you know that something major is happening in your world, stop and think about how it affects you and what you had planned to do. Think about how it may requiring you to shift around the things you need to do.

[38:33] - Finally, try not to make a really drastic change, because this seems to make things considerably worse. Go through the process of who might be able to help you lighten your load or share responsibilities. If the load becomes too heavy to bear for you, find people and other sources to help distribute that load.

[42:36] - As he wraps this episode up, Charlie encourages you to think about where you are as far as the total load that you carry in your life, and seeing where you are on the spectrum on the way to well-done. Be compassionate with yourself about what you discover. No matter where you are, be thinking about what personal resources or practices you have that you can go to if you are getting too close to burnt-out. Building this team before you need it can help you avoid crashing and burning.

[46:22] - There are many people out there dealing with a similar feeling or situation, and Angela hopes that you will take some time to reflect on anything that has resonated with you in this episode, and pay attention to that.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Productive Flourishing

Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr

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Jun 22 2017



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Rank #3: Andrea Owen: How to Ditch the 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back from Happiness(Episode 175)

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Today’s show features Andrea Owen, proud author of 52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life and How to Stop Feeling Like Shit: 14 Habits That are Holding You Back From Happiness. Andrea joins Charlie today to talk about the habits and shame stories that hold us back from success. In this episode, they discuss how our stories, habits, and coping mechanisms lead us further away from being able to catch ourselves in the moment. **Disclaimer: this episode contains cable-friendly language, so be conscious of where and when you are listening.

Key Takeaways:

[2:40] - Her second book was a bit of a deviation from her first book, focusing on a different sort of pain point. The subject matter for the second book sort of found her, but she also listened to feedback from her clients, women in her community, and herself about things that they were struggling with. She started to notice and observe patterns and behaviors in her life and in those around her.

[6:00] - Sometimes when writing a book you notice things that come up for you that you may not have been aware of before. Andrea originally thought she didn’t struggle with imposter complex (attributing success or accomplishments to luck or connections), but through the process of writing her book she realized that she did.

[7:18] - Men and women experience imposter syndrome differently; women often experience the social aspect of being invested in what other people think as well as the competency aspect. Men don’t experience the social aspect quite as much. Charlie and Andrea talk about some of the consequences of these experiences, specifically when it comes to leadership. Andrea shares a specific example of one of her clients and how she perceived a situation in her annual review versus how a man might perceive the same situation.

[13:25] - In cases like Andrea’s client, sometimes this can open doors to having hard conversations that may be awkward, but could help clarify the situation. The conversations don’t automatically need to be confrontational - healthy communication will never go out of style.

[17:37] - Out of the 14 habits featured in her book, one of the most common that comes up is isolating and hiding out. This is when we’re in crisis or in some kind of struggle, and we think about reaching out to someone for help but we allow our self-talk to convince us we don’t need to tell anyone. Sometimes it’s because we’re ashamed of our personal struggle, or we’re worried about being a burden to someone else. These traits are very common, along with numbing out.

[22:10] - As soon as we get uncomfortable, we start building and adding steps to get away from the discomfort. This can form a spiral where we become busy to avoid something and then when we’re ready to handle it, we’re too busy. Sometimes you have to strip those things away and just sit with the discomfort (or shame, boredom, or other emotion) and allow yourself to experience it and decide what you’re going to do with it. Sitting with these emotions can allow you to discover what you’re really avoiding.

[24:15] - Discomfort isn’t the problem; it’s the feeling that we shouldn’t be uncomfortable that’s the problem. As we allow ourselves to experience the discomfort, we begin to expand our comfort zones. When we are presented with more challenges, we can choose to coast through, or embrace the challenge and grow to the next level.

[26:48] - Charlie and Andrea discuss post-accomplishment depression. People may experience this after they reach a big goal they’ve been working toward. This affects how people feel about themselves, and often prevents them from talking to others about it.

[29:45] - When we participate in behaviors like perfectionism, control, people-pleasing, etc, we’re allowing shame to be the ringleader. We manifest those habits to avoid shame, when we’re actually allowing it to control us. The win Andrea wants for people is to know - when you’re in that moment - that you’re doing something because of a shame trigger, and realign yourself to how you really want to be showing up in that moment.

[32:52] - We want to shine the light on things that are uncomfortable, and focus on aspects of ourselves that we think are unloveable. Focus on one thing at a time - don’t try to tackle it all at once.

[36:02] - We often praise busyness and busy work, but it’s important to focus on one virtue at a time. With personal mastery and personal growth, trying to work on too many aspects at once will probably end up resulting in less growth.

[38:45] - A lot of our habits are rooted in self-talk, and our self-talk is our shame manifesting itself. Our shame and our self-talk help create our core beliefs. Focus on the way that you speak to yourself and how you compare yourself to other. Start there and allow it to bleed out into any of the other things you want to work on.

[42:00] - Getting into a relationship with someone is a great way to figure out your triggers. Andrea shares an example of a time she and her husband got into an argument, and she found that it was easier to go to a place where she was planning a single life, rather than facing what she needed to own from the argument and discovering what the triggers were.

[44:25] - Sometimes when we’re triggered and feeling uncomfortable, the first thing we do is look for the places where we can find control. We can notice and observe certain behaviors to use as red flags for when we’re feeling a certain way. The trick becomes using those indicators to hack your way back into what’s actually going on. Charlie talks about the HALTS (hungry, angry, lonely, tired, and sick/stressed) behaviors as common indicators. When we do lash out, it’s important to own it.

[50:30] - Sometimes when writing books, authors will write portions for themselves. For Andrea, some of the habits she can most relate with are control, overachieving, and being strong. She briefly describes her struggle with these habits.

[54:20] - Andrea’s invitation/challenge is to really admit when you have screwed up - in a friendship, at work, or a romantic relationship. Instead of placing blame or making excuses to defend yourself, pause and take ownership and apologize to get a conversation started. Those are some huge and hard lessons, but they will help build trust and connections that can foster a new level of intimacy in any type of relationship.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Productive Flourishing

Andrea Owen

Brene Brown

52 Ways to Live a Kick Ass Life, by Andrea Owen

How to Stop Feeling Like Shit, by Andrea Owen

Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott

The New One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard

TouchPoints, by Douglas Conant & Mette Norgaard

Your Brain at Work, by David Rock

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Jan 04 2018



Rank #4: How to Eliminate Your Self-Sabotage and Limiting Beliefs (Episode 211)

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Today’s guest is Erin Pheil, founder of the MindFix Group. She joins Charlie to jam about why it’s so hard to rewrite stories and change self-sabotaging scripts. They also talk about some things you can do when you’re tired of the same choices leading to the same actions.

Key Takeaways:

[0:05] - Charlie’s new book, Start Finishing: How to Go From Idea to Done is out now! Productivity is how we become our best selves in the world. The book covers tools, practices, and mindsets that will help you finish the stuff your soul is yearning to do. There are contributions from Charlie’s friends, colleagues, and teachers. If you’d like to pre-order a copy, click the link below.

[4:00] - Erin ran a successful web agency for almost seventeen years, until she realized that it wasn’t something she wanted to do for the rest of her life. The fear around this thought was that her career was all she had ever known. After a series of rock bottoms, she started to see a therapist who showed her that the way she was looking at the world and seeing things was affecting everything else.

[8:05] - She devoted all of her energy into learning how she could actually change what was going on in her head. When it became replicable, she realized this work was what she wanted to be doing. Our operating beliefs are the ones that are doing the driving, and tend to be the ones that drive our self-sabotage. 

[11:25] - Emotion drives action, and the language we use to describe things actually becomes the way we see and operate in the world. The stories, or head trash, tends to dominate. The piece of head trash impacts how events occur to us. This is the same principle as confirmation bias.

[15:10] - People often struggle with what their “true” or “authentic” selves are. Different people can have different truths, and maybe the more important question is asking "what’s useful?" That can get us much further than “what’s true?” 

[17:50] - One of the most frustrating things about head trash is that we often realize the story we’re telling ourselves, and we know it’s not useful, but it’s difficult to change it. People hold on to these beliefs or stories because they feel like they have seen evidence in the world that it is true. 

[20:20] - In addition to our own stories, our cultures also have stories that become part of our mental narrative as evidence. When we have a belief that already has some evidence, every new bit of evidence that confirms the belief strengthens it, and we easily write off anything that doesn’t confirm it.

[23:20] - The body keeps the score with all of our stories and head trash, and this can eventually manifest itself physically. Erin talks about some of the tests they use with their clients, and one of them is whether or not they can feel something in their bodies when they have those thoughts.

[26:40] - People must learn to accept that it’s okay to have conflicting beliefs. They only accept one, and when they don’t acknowledge that they feel a certain way, they tend to suppress those beliefs or push them away. It takes energy to push things away, and when we accept them, sometimes the power dissolves.

[31:20] - There is a connection between the body and the mind, but there are also some disanalogies that keep us stuck. It’s not quite as obvious when we push away mental beliefs versus physical manifestation.

[32:55] - Erin talks about our beliefs and stories surrounding what’s possible with change. Our stories can anchor us down and prevent us from seeing our other successes.

[36:45] - When it comes to goal setting with contradictory beliefs, Charlie talks about changing the directive. Instead of saying you can or can’t lose that weight or save that money, remain open and change the directive to “what would happen if I…” This curiosity is a useful tool to uncover what people’s specific head trash is.

[41:40] - The work of uprooting head trash is daily work, because there are new things that pop up when we get rid of one thing. If it feels like there are other beliefs sprouting up, what you think you got rid of may not have been the root of the problem.

[44:30] - The first step to getting unstuck from self-sabotage stories is to identify and uncover what the roots of our head trash are. Step two is dissolving and eliminating them, which is the main work of MindFix. The million dollar question for people to start asking themselves is “What would I have to believe to be true in order to keep experiencing this pattern over and over again?”

[47:45] - Erin invites listeners to seriously ask themselves that million dollar question above, at least ten times a day. It is one of the most insightful questions that will help you learn about yourself in a short amount of time. Ask yourself that question and see what shows up. 

Mentioned in This Episode:

Productive Flourishing

Start Finishing, by Charlie Gilkey

The MindFix Group

The Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

Nov 06 2019



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Rank #5: Angela Wheeler: Best Practices for Your Annual Reflection(Episode 173)

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As the year comes to a close, we have a natural inclination to look back on what’s happened over the past year. Many of the Productive Flourishing readers and listeners have been asking questions about ways to do annual reviews or think about assessing the year. In today’s episode, Angela and Charlie talk through their new annual review worksheet, and share several tips on reviewing your year, as well as self-care during the holidays.

Key Takeaways:

[4:55] - A lot of time during the holidays, people have tension between being productive, spending time with family, and being in the season. Being with family and reflecting is a way of being productive, and it’s important to make time for those things.

[7:10] - When you start thinking about the year in review, always start with the celebration of the things that you’ve done. Think about the top three things from the year that you want to remember. Charlie encourages people to separate their personal and professional lives into separate buckets to give both the credit they deserve.

[10:47] - One of Angela’s biggest celebrations from this year in her professional was developing her new coaching practice, Clarity Coaching. This has gotten her back into the work that she loves the most, helping someone realize what they’re able to do. Her biggest personal celebration is the way she’s invited boundaries into her life in her relationships with people.

[14:45] - Charlie’s biggest celebration in his professional life is his book deal! He’s under contract to write a book tentatively titled Start Finishing: How to Go From Idea to Done. They’ve also experienced a lot of growth with Productive Flourishing. In his personal life, his biggest celebration also had to do with boundaries, and taking a step back from some things to avoid burnout. This allowed him to get clear about the expectations and intentions for himself, and he was able to reclaim a lot of time.

[19:10] - Do this reflection not only for yourself, but think about whether there is someone else in your life that can do this reflection as well so you all can celebrate each other. If you’re doing this with a team, make sure you explain why those things are important to you, because that’s where the real strengthening will happen.

[22:20] - The next question on the worksheet is what three things challenged you the most over the past year. People often see a tight relationship between the things that challenged you professionally and the things that challenged you personally.

[24:54] - The next question evaluates the top three lessons learned or reaffirmed. This is really pushing you towards a growth mindset. The goal is to not have to keep learning the same lesson over and over again. Later on in life, you may be learning the same thing, but it’s usually at a higher level.

[27:03] - Charlie talks about the four steps of the Wayfinding Academy. The first step is knowing where you are, the second step is knowing where you’re trying go, the third step is having a road map between where you are and where you’re trying to get, and the fourth step is knowing how to get back on track when you get off-course.

[28:30] - When thinking about the top three goals for the coming year, there are two different types. One is quantitative goals, and the other is more milestone or baseline goals. As you are thinking about goals, it’s important to get to a place where you can be sure you did it or you did not do it. This is also true for personal goals, so try to avoid vague goals that won’t motivate you.

[31:35] - The next question to think about is what needs to change to be able to achieve those goals. Sometimes nothing needs to change, but for most people, something has to change. You may have to change your day-to-day focus to achieve your overall goal, or you may have to drop some things to make the time for a new focus.

[37:10] - The next question asks what sprints, strategic projects, or experiments you could run to help you achieve those goals. Charlie goes over what each of these look like, and how you can utilize them to starting working on your goals. Sprints keep you in the project long enough that you’re still interested, but doesn’t drag it on.

[42:08] - Moving through the worksheet, the next question encourages you to identify someone who will support you through the sprints, projects, and experiments. Whenever you have a “how” problem, find a “who” solution - there’s probably someone who has been in your shoes or can help get you moving forward. It also helps build your success team.

[44:15] - The last major question on the worksheet is ‘When will you reach out to the people who can support you?’ Giving people advance notice of when you will need their help will increase their willingness and ability to provide support, and it also gives you enough time to pay it forward for that particular person. Ask them what you can do to support them in the meantime.

[48:00] - In real time, these questions take about 15 or 30 minutes to sit down and work through. Charlie shares some final reminders for working through the sheet. 1. Remember to start from a place of celebration before getting into the challenges. 2. Continue to think about what affects your personal life and professional life discreetly, while keeping in mind that they often overlap. Treat your life like your work - carry over what works in your job into your personal life. 3. Be thinking about what needs to change, and focus on the internal changes more than external changes. 4. Think about who you are going to reach out to, and reach out to them early.

[51:10] - Self-care is tied into all of these, especially looking at your goals, victories, and challenges. For this specific time of year, be sure to take some time to slow down and allow yourself the opportunity to reflect.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Productive Flourishing

Productive Flourishing Podcast Episode 121: How to be Intentional During the Holidays

Productive Flourishing Podcast Episode 108: How to Align Your Goals and Projects with Your Seasonal Energy

How to Set SMART Goals on Productive Flourishing

Dec 21 2017



Rank #6: 143: The End of the Creative Giant Show

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In this last episode of the Creative Giant Show, we discuss why we’re ending it and what comes next.

May 26 2017



Rank #7: Stan Tatkin: What Keeps You and Your Partner Together When the World Pulls You Apart? (Episode 191)

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Stan Tatkin is a PACT developer, and co-founder of the PACT Institute. PACT stands for Psycho-biological Approach to Couples Therapy. Stan joins Charlie on the show today to discuss why couple relationships are so hard, at the same time that they are so great and necessary. The main challenges stem from the fact that we are reactive beings first and fast, and thoughtful, loving beings second and slowly. Knowing this about ourselves allows us to build relationships that enable us to thrive.

Key Takeaways:

[3:05] – Relationships are an important part of our lives, at the same time that the challenges with those relationships can be a bad part of our lives. Relationships are hard, because people are difficult. Some in particular are harder than others - love relationships (like that of a parent and child) are hard because they are long-memory and dependency relationships. In our other relationships, we can try to resolve the problems in that primary relationships.

[5:50] - We are memory-driven, and when we do things according to recognition, it’s lightning fast while thinking is very slow. Our brains are also fully automatic, and this can cause us to go on autopilot in our relationships. We can start to make errors in communication and perception, which can lead to fights in a relationship.

[7:05] - The cognitive aspects of our decisions translate over to our emotional behaviors as well. We are more likely to act and react according to recognition. The emotional reaction comes after. Our survival instincts often lead us to go to war over love.

[10:20] - Stan and Charlie discuss being feeling beings over thinking beings. As much as we believe we are thinking beings, we are really feeling beings first.

[13:00] - It would be ideal if early education covered how to learn, and also how to be in relationships. Students would learn what relationships are, and what it means to be in a relationship. This might foster learning how you feel in different scenarios as well, and widening the range of emotions (Charlie likens this to primary colors). We also have primary emotions, and as we grow up we begin to feel more, and get blended emotions. Some people have alexithymia, where they don’t know what they are feeling.

[17:10] - Stan doesn’t have a statistic on how many people are affected by alexithymia, but it’s a developmental capacity model, so it looks at what people can and cannot do in the social/ emotional realm. Some of the limitations in the social/ emotional realm can cause problems in our love relationships. Stan provides some specific examples of how this can play out.

[19:38] - As humans, we are more primed for war and fighting, and we have unequal capacities in the emotional realm. When we add our historical relationships into our new relationships, that’s where the complexities arise. While we are primed for fighting, we are also dependent on relationships with others. They often interfere with our other need to survive; this creates a constant tension between our need to depend on others and our fear of getting hurt.

[22:18] - The good news is that there are ways to understand this complexity so that it doesn’t become such a problem. You can confide in a trusted person, but love relationships also provide tremendous repair. It is up to us to foster our love relationships to be productive rather than destructive.

[24:50] - Relationships are work - we have to work to get them to where we want to be so we can thrive together. There are some indicators that might predict relationships that don’t work out. On a biological level, two nervous systems may be so reactive that they don’t get along. The things people do as mistakes are: 1. They come from an insecure model where the family operates unfairly and unjustly too often, and they carry that forward into their own relationships that accrue this same unfairness 2. They don’t understand the primacy of the relationship, and don’t understand third things that are added to the relationship that take time away from the pair 3. They don’t have a sense of purpose or vision, or a sense of why they are together.

[29:35] - How do we come up with the guiding principles and vision in a relationship? It is almost irresponsible to not make the time to think about this. As you are coming up with principles that will protect you from each other, think about the intention behind each principle. There are shared beliefs that are fairly universal, and these can guide you in coming up with the vision for your relationship.

[32:55] - In a relationship, as you start defining your principles and vision, make sure you also agree on the purpose behind it. Challenge each other to explore why the vision serves a personal good and a mutual good. Practice full transparency without conditions.

[35:35] - What are general dealbreakers people should look for as they start to have these conversations? One of them is the transparency without conditions, and finding someone who believes the same. Deal breakers will eventually get to people. If you disagree on fundamental items, it will perpetuate the same problems down the road.

[37:55] - Some people are under the assumption (and hope) that the other person in the relationships, or they themselves, will change their stance on one of the deal breakers. As a couples therapist, Stan doesn’t see that this usually works out. It is hard because people don’t want to experience the loss. It is very painful, but there would be worse things to come other than breaking up.

[41:05] - There is a difference between surviving and thriving in a relationship. You can survive by negotiating on your non-negotiables, but it is hard to thrive in a relationship like that. As change is the only constant, even as a thriving couple, time may change your views on these non-negotiables. A task throughout the relationship is to know how people are going to adjust, and how they’re going to bargain so it’s good for both people in the relationship.

[43:26] - People may resist taking the time to outline some of these non-negotiables and their vision, because they are afraid there is something they will have to change or something will come up that they don’t want to face. This is part of the human condition; people don’t always show exactly what they want, even to themselves.

[45:04] - When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, like Charlie and Angela, it may be a good time to occasionally come together to talk about some of the decisions you’ve made previously and make sure that you’re still on the same page. Charlie shares the example of himself and Angela and the topic of having kids. Even if the relationship is comfortable, it could be productive to check in and make sure it’s still set up for the couple to thrive.

[47:37] - Recommitment offers a time to remarry and redo your vision for the future. As you move through time together, there are a number of things that can change the playing field. It’s hard to get people to do this proactively, but it could save a marriage (or relationship). The fear of loss can be a good motivator for coming to terms with what you could now agree on.

[49:30] - Stan doesn’t want couples to fear each other, except for in one sense. At any time, either person involved has the power to pull the trigger on the other, and leave the relationship. This gives rise to a kind of respect in the sense that there are lines you don’t cross. Both people need to make sure their needs are being met.

[51:40] - When someone is giving up their sense of self or their sense of fairness, it will backfire on both partners. This might become a therapeutic issue, and often when previous offenses show back up. These things can be corrected quickly if people have the right attitude.

[54:45] - Stan’s invitation for listeners is to come to one of the couples retreats coming up. He challenges listeners to come up with a plaque-able “10 Commandments” for your relationship. Don’t overthink this - it should be easy and simple to understand.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Productive Flourishing

Relationships Are Hard, But Why?, TEDx Talk by Stan Tatkin

Stan Tatkin

The PACT Institute

Daughters, by John Mayer


Apr 26 2018



Rank #8: Dr. Samantha Brody: Overcoming Overwhelm (Episode 203)

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Dr. Samantha Brody is a licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist. She joins Charlie on the show today to talk about her book Overcoming Overwhelm: Dismantling Stress From the Inside Out. In today’s episode, they talk about more expansive ways that overwhelm may be showing up, as well as some underappreciated considerations about the relationships between our values and overwhelm, compartmentalizing, and our individualized paces of change.

Key Takeaways:

[1:50] – “Overwhelm” is a word we use a lot, but Dr. Samantha’s definition is more comprehensive: it is the point at which what we’re experiencing is more than we can handle, and we have a response to it in one way or another. Our responses are individualized based on history, genetic disposition, and our worldview.

[4:20] – The sense or experience of overwhelm is the most important thing to get under control in order to help people feel better, whether emotionally or physically. By coming at it from the perspective of what’s most important to us, we have extra room to absorb stress and do the work we need to do.

[7:00] – Naturopathic medicine is all about looking at the whole organism and our lives in totality, and then identifying the root cause of our symptoms. If we try to solve our problems on the surface, they will likely pop up elsewhere in a different form.

[9:58] – There is a relationship between our values and overwhelm. The first step in the process of overcoming overwhelm is figuring out what is most important to us. When we’re not clear about this, we end up making choices that align with someone else’s values rather than our own. Our values, how we want to feel, and what we want to accomplish is our True North, or what we’re trying to move toward.

[13:15] – When we choose what to do and what not to do, it takes away some shame and discomfort, because we’re prioritizing right in the moment. When we misfire, we can figure out what didn’t work and why. We don’t have to shame or guilt, but continuing to work toward making choices for ourselves where we have control over the decisions can help to manage overwhelm.

[17:58] – One of the big sources of overwhelm for a lot of people is that they don’t give themselves the opportunity to not be superhuman. Sometimes our priorities have to shift from our normal behavior to something that allows us to breathe. Overwhelm can come not because of what’s actually happening, but the story we’re telling ourselves about what is happening to us, and how we react to it.

[21:35] – Sometimes not seeing a decision through can cause overwhelm. A lot of people get stuck after making a decision and taking action that solidifies that decision. A helpful exercise is to identify what you can change, what you can’t change, and what you’re going to choose not to change.

[24:45] – At some point, overwhelm becomes overload. We are each born with a different ability to handle stress (our bucket). Our buckets fill up with different things in some general categories: environmental stress, nutritional stress, insufficiencies, financial stress, cultural stress, and health stress. In each of those categories, there are different stresses that impact us individually.

[27:02] – Once our bucket is full, it overflows and we feel overwhelmed, and our weak spot is going to be exploited. We are able to decrease our overall load by identifying the things we have control over, and acting on the things that will have the most impact with the least amount of effort.

[29:15] – Everyone has a different way that they make change best and how they approach change. Some people like to tackle the small things first, and others like to solve the big issues first. You have to be honest with yourself about what works best for you.

[32:20] – We’re generally not very good at time scale shifts. This contributes to overwhelm because we often look at our lists of what needs to get done and collapse it to right now. We have to consider our list and relate it to a certain chunk of time that is attainable.

[35:15] – Part of the holistic approach is that sometimes, to go forward in one way, you have to go 90 degrees a different way to solve the problem.

[36:23] – One of the other main ideas in the book is that you can’t fail at self-care. Taking care of ourselves is a process, and no one way is right. If you’re unable to implement something, it either means it’s the wrong thing or maybe we need more support.

[39:02] – Sometimes we have to approach self-care as an experiment; we try something and see what happens. If what we tried doesn’t work, it’s a learning opportunity to figure out something different. This removes the pass/fail stigma.

[40:05] – If you’re already overloaded, adding something new is so much harder. We have to make the effort to identify what’s most important, and what we can remove from our bucket that’s not serving us. We have the space to really experiment and hopefully come up with a solution.

[41:45] – Dr. Samantha’s challenge is to take some time to really look at what your values are. Get clear about that one thing that is going to help you make choices that will get you toward what’s most important for you in your life.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Productive Flourishing

Dr. Samantha Brody

Overcoming Overwhelm, by Samantha Brody

Jan 03 2019



Rank #9: Episode 33 - The 12 Challenges of Creative Giants

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Charlie talks today on the show about what it means to be a creative giant and why he uses that term, challenges a creative giant may face, what it means and how to “stand tall,” and more.

Key Takeaways:

01:13 – What creative giants are.

03:20 – The challenges creative giants face.

07:52 – Why the term “giant”?

09:05 – What usually happens when a creative giant goes to large events and conferences. 

11:34 – Charlie’s fear of using the term “creative giant” publically. 

12:21 – Being able to “stand tall.”

Mentioned In This Episode:

Productive Flourishing

Theodore Roosevelt

Marianne Williamson

Jun 08 2015



Rank #10: 116: Learning to Learn and Express Yourself

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This episode is going to be a conversation between Angela and me about different learning styles and really getting to the bottom of how you learn, how you process and how you polish. The reason we’re going through this is because we’re both doing a lot of different creative things and we’ve found ourselves either stuck, or in the flow and we wanted to share how we’re working through that. Ready? Let’s do this!

Key Takeaways:

[0:50] Charlie explains how periodic struggles in his writing and learning ways to get unstuck have given rise to the idea for this podcast.

[3:21] The VARK modalities are brought up when talking about learning styles but these styles also apply to communication.

[4.30] If you ever you find yourself stuck learning something, try switching modalities - write/draw/move/talk it out.

[6:18] Charlie’s writing issue ended up being a great example of processing and expression style differences: he should have been drawing instead!

[9:45] This goes to show you that sometimes you get stuck because you’re trying to express your ideas in the wrong style.

[11:30] The three different ways to work through your creative process are conceptualisation, rough expression and polished expression.

[12:39] Each of these three stages may require you to use different styles: you may ideate visually, rough orally and so on and so forth.

[18:25] Sometimes, just switching modes will help you work through a jam and unstick your work.

[21:35] You also have to realise that working on your creations in one style or another as well as your level of mastery of that medium will not make it “less than”.

[26:05] When you’re not certain what style will best suit a particular activity, just try one, any one, it will help you to zero in on what works best.

[28:36] When you have mastered a medium, be even more careful because your own belief that this is your strength might prevent you trying different avenues.

[29:30] Our education system does not successfully foster different learning and communicative styles.

[30:27] People are happiest when they are expressing themselves and learning what style is natural for you will help you move in that direction.

Mentioned in This Episode:

The Small Business Life Cycle

Momentum Planning Method

VARK Learning Styles

Communication Matchmaking

Creative Giant Campfire Facebook Group

Nov 18 2016



Rank #11: Episode 38 - Every Day Is A Pivotal Point with Kevin Briggs

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Sergeant Kevin Briggs is a retired California Highway Patrol officer who spent most of his time on the Golden Gate Bridge encouraging people not to commit suicide by jumping. He was nicknamed the guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge and has helped over 200 people make the decision not to end their life. After retiring, he continued his work by traveling worldwide to speak on the subjects of crisis management, suicide prevention, and leadership skills. He speaks and teaches at conferences and law enforcement departments, as well as consulting and advising major companies and corporations. His story has been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers, which includes him being a cancer survivor, dealing with heart issues, and going through a divorce. He is currently working on his autobiography set to release in July of 2015. Kevin joins Charlie on the show today to discuss his work and knowledge of crisis management, share some personal stories, and much more.

Key Takeaways:

02:35 – Kevin’s first encounter on the Golden Gate Bridge.

06:01 – The little amount of training Kevin had received before taking his first suicide call and why that is.

08:43 – The emotional journey Kevin goes through when taking a suicide call and how it changes his perspective on life.

11:06 – Kevin’s second suicide encounter.

12:57 – Handling compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma and Kevin’s own depression.

15:55 – The importance of police officers and others in that field of work getting help for their stress and depression they may feel after seeing the things that they see.

19:14 – What the Quality of Life Triad is and where that came from.

21:43 – The importance of self-care and the resistance Kevin faces from fellow officers.

25:14 – Why people are so reluctant to seek help.

27:55 – Kevin’s RELEASE model.

31:55 – Tips on how to listen to someone and help them without judging or telling them what they need to do.

33:45 – Kevin’s own personal situation he dealt with when finding out his son was cutting.

38:44 – The importance of communicating and talking with your family and friends.

Mentioned In This Episode:

The New Yorker Magazine

People Magazine

USA Today

Pivotal Points

Quality of Life Triad


Jul 13 2015



Rank #12: Episode 15 - Cultivating Creativity During Motherhood with Lucy Pearce

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Lucy Pearce is a number one bestseller on Amazon and has written several books on the subject of motherhood and women. Some famous titles include Moon Time, The Rainbow Way, and the Moods of Motherhood. She also has her own publishing company, Womancraft Publishing, that helps empower women and get their voices and books published. Lucy joins Charlie today to talk about how you can unleash your inner creative and not feel guilty about raising children while you're doing it. They also talk about how men can better support creative women and mothers, how to be a productive woman, and more today on Productive Flourishing. 

Key Takeaways:

3:10 – Lucy comes from a large family of creatives.

7:00 – When the creative woman can not express herself properly, then her dark side will come out more and more. 

10:10 – Multitasking is important at times, but you'd get more things done if you focus on one task at hand. 

13:40 – You have to prioritize time for yourself and your creative outlet. Talk to your partner and work with each other's schedules. 

15:20 – Have small creative side projects that you can pick up anywhere you are to help maintain your sanity. 

19:50 – Between Lucy's 1st and 3rd child, she wrote 4 books, but then again, she doesn't clean her house often or iron. It's all about your personal priorities. What are yours?  

23:30 – When reading about productivity tips, it seems like there's more of a male bias to it and it can be hard for many women to relate to. 

27:30 – How can the men support the creative woman or the mother? Lucy explains in this segment. 

31:20 – A woman's mood and creative energy levels vary depending on her cycle. It's important for men to be aware of that energy and what stage of her cycle she is in. 

34:50 – Lucy talks about her book Moon Time, which helps women chart their cycle and their creative energies. 

39:10 – Lucy has just taken on a PA and, as a natural lone wolf, she is learning how to delegate her work. 

42:40 – In this segment Lucy talks about her most unanticipated challenge so far. 

45:10 – Final takeaway? “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Don't put it off until next year, start now. 

**Mentioned In This Episode: **






Feb 02 2015



Rank #13: Build Better Boundaries (Episode 183)

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On today’s episode, Angela returns to the show to talk with Charlie about boundaries. They did a joint presentation at the Think Better, Live Better conference, which was an interesting process for them. Since not all of their listeners were at the conference, they decided to bring a taste of their presentation to the podcast and share some of the concepts and lessons learned.

Key Takeaways:

[4:05] - Angela and Charlie decided that they wanted to talk about boundaries because they’ve been getting asked similar questions over the course of the decade they’ve been doing this work. The five keys that sort of govern their whole philosophy on becoming your best self in the world are: intentions, awareness, boundaries, courage, and discipline. They’re all interrelated, but boundaries come up frequently when we need to give ourselves space from things that aren’t helpful to us, and create space for the things that are helpful to our growth.

[8:03] - Most clients don’t realize that they need help with boundaries - sometimes what they need is externally driven, but what needs to be addressed are internal boundaries that will allow the other things to happen. Charlie gives the metaphor of the car and the driver; the trick is to know whether the problem lies with the car (ourselves), or the driver (our circumstances). Most often, it’s the driver.

[11:00] - The importance of boundaries is that drawing boundaries really allow us to get what we want and what we need in life. Putting the right things in place for the right reasons will allow us to get to the best results and best life.

[11:35] - One of the things that has come up for Angela is the fear that setting boundaries might push away the people we love, or that it might hurt somebody that we care about. The opposite usually ends up being true, and you’re enhancing the relationship with that person and making it stronger.

[13:15] - What’s the difference between positive and negative boundaries? Negative boundaries are the boundaries by which you push something away or put a wall up between yourself and other things. Positive boundaries create space around you for things that you want. It’s important to be intentional about what you’re creating space for, rather than just pushing people and things away. Boundaries don’t always have to do with relationships; it is also creating boundaries between ourselves and the noise that that may not be supporting us. Creating positive boundaries can be harder because we have to identify the things that are worth fighting for, and that in turn is a declaration that we ourselves are important, and our self-worth is a priority.

[16:30] - This self-worth piece is a very important aspect of setting boundaries. In order to set those boundaries, we have to be able to say this is what I’m worth, and what I want and need matters. These are things we often don’t tell ourselves, but creating boundaries can encourage more positive self-talk and self-worth. This is a practice and requires us to keep pushing to get what we need and want.

[20:20] - There seemed to be a very gendered dynamic in the people that came to talk with Charlie and Angela after their presentation at the conference. Women may struggle more with creating some of these positive boundaries because of some of the socialization in the world today. Angela was able to help people find a language that worked for them to help describe their boundaries to the people in their lives.

[21:25] - As we set boundaries, it sets a good example and allows us to be role models for our friends, and people in our communities and workplaces. When people see you setting boundaries, they’re drawn to that. They see you getting what you want and need, and making time for what’s important to you, and it gives them permission to do the same thing.

[24:15] - One of the struggles people have with boundaries is that it’s all very general. There are several different dimensions of your life that we can think about where we might want to implement boundaries. The key thing is wherever you are over-committed or depleted, you have a boundary issue. Be intentional about creating boundaries around those areas and think about what you’re trying to change in those areas for your boundaries to have real grip.

[27:10] - When setting boundaries, it’s important to think about ourselves as a whole. It’s important to think about all the dimensions - professional, personal, play - especially the ones where we don’t have good balance in our lives at the moment. Charlie and Angela talk about the importance of the “play” dimension; if it brings you joy and happiness, make it a priority!

[32:35] - Angela encourages the idea of working on one boundary at a time. As you’re thinking about boundaries for yourself and what that looks like, start with one thing or one area where things are out of balance. Set a boundary and work on it diligently rather than trying to set several at a time and getting burnt out.

[35:45] - Getting people on board with your boundaries is important from an accountability and support system perspective. We want to have important conversations with the people who matter most and invite them to support us in setting up new boundaries for ourselves. Charlie discusses some ways you can approach these conversations in a professional context, to help improve your work-life balance.

[42:10] - While today’s conversation is over, there is more to be said for our work on boundaries and how they can help us be our best selves in the world. Look out for a follow up post on this, and if you have any questions, email Charlie or Angela using the contact information below. The invitation/challenge for this episode is to start thinking about some of the dimensions mentioned and where you want to make a change in your life, and what type of boundary would support you in making that change.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Productive Flourishing

Brene Brown - The Work of the People

Start Finishing Your Projects Course



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Mar 01 2018



Rank #14: Episode 30 - Advancing Craftsmanship with Breanne Dyck

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Breanne Dyck is a strategist, coach, and consultant whose expertise is in distilling information, drawing key insights, and helping her clients achieve light bulb moments. She helps microbusinesses grow their revenues and their impact by applying the principles of adult learning. Her clients include speakers, authors, coaches, consultants, and other microbusiness owners, and she helps them achieve world-class results for their businesses and their customers. She has consulted on many products and courses, live events, and workshops for thought leaders, including New York Times and Amazon bestselling authors. Chris Guillebeau has called her a “course design rock star.” Breanne joins Charlie on the show today to talk about her extensive body of work, share knowledge, and much more.

Key Takeaways:

01:33 – How Breanne got started in her field of work.

06:05 – What made Breanne want to start her own business.

10:02 – When Breanne realized she could make courses and start helping people.

14:19 – Breanne is not a natural risk taker or experimenter.

17:39 – It’s the taking of action that produces learning.

20:55 – Learning in the higher level of mastery, as according to Bloom’s taxonomy.

25:56 – What the hack-first mentality is and the problem with it.

32:56 – Challenges Breanne faced once she started doing course building.

37:19 – Breanne likes to take theoretical knowledge and make it really practical and actionable, but found she was resisting doing that in the beginning.

42:39 – The challenge of being in a microbusiness but not having an infinite amount of time and resources to devote to making it perfect and the “curse of expertise.”

51:59 – Wanting to avoid the perception that we don’t know what we’re doing.

54:29 – The most unanticipated challenge that Breanne is currently facing.

56:40 – The pursuit of craftsmanship, of excellence, of doing amazing work is always a pursuit worth going after.

Mentioned In This Episode:


New York Times

Chris Guillebeau


Natalie Sisson

Tara Gentile

World Domination Summit

The Small Business Lifecycle

Bloom’s taxonomy 

Mark Silver

“The Curse of Expertise”

May 18 2015



Rank #15: Episode 18 - She-Factoring the Tech Startup World with Thursday Bram

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Thursday is the cofounder of Urgency, Inc., an online marketing agency focused on technical clients. She’s been blogging for over 10 years and has written for a variety of publications. She is a true renaissance woman whose interests include diversity in tech, the use of punctuation, crypto currencies, analytics impact on content strategy, gifs, and open source business models. She is a cofounder of PDX Shelter, a Portland based nonprofit startup, and an organizer at PyLadies PDX. She comes on the show today to talk to Charlie about the issues women face in the tech industry and other things related to tech and business.

Key Takeaways:

1:59 – Thursday grew up in a family of entrepreneurs.

4:00 – Urgency, Inc. was launched at the beginning of this year.

8:01 – A lot of tech companies want to be seen as progressive and modern, but most of those companies are founded by white, straight men who are usually from a middle class to upper class background and don’t think about any experience other than their own.

11:48 – One key starting point in looking at startup companies is looking at how they hire.

15:12 – The number of women who are getting CS degrees is increasing dramatically, but the problem is more a question of keeping women in tech.

16:16 – Investors are less likely to work with women founders, especially women who have families.

21:45 – Being aware of the social issues taking place in companies is the first step to making change.

27:05 – GamerGate started as a posting by a guy who was upset with his ex-girlfriend who was a game developer, and he accused her of sleeping with game journalists to get better reviews and eventually turned into attacks on several women.

32:15 – The same tropes that Anita Sarkeesian has identified in video games are also very visible in other forms of media. It’s a very prevalent thought pattern.

35:40 – PyLadies is a Python user group which for just women.

37:10 – PDX Shelter is a project that uses technology to address homeless problems.

46:08 – Even though all of these problems in the tech business world may seem huge, just taking one step and doing one thing is on the way to solving them.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Urgency, Inc.

Go Daddy

Entrepreneur Magazine

PDX Shelter

PyLadies PDX

Kathy Sierra


Anita Sarkeesian

Startup Weekend

Matthew Fountain


Feb 23 2015



Rank #16: Mike Vardy: Get the Right Things Done Easier By Focusing On Your Energy (Episode 171)

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Mike Vardy, a show regular, joins Charlie to jam about using energy as the basis of your plans and reflections, rather than just time. They also talk about using feelings as a gauge for productivity, rather than mere output. A key goal of their work is to feel better physically and emotionally, and it’s important to address those aspects just as much, and maybe more, than what we’re getting done. Mike is the founder of Productivityist and has been a frequent guest on the podcast.

Key Takeaways:

[2:10] - So much of productivity is focused on time, when maybe focusing on energy-based productivity may give you more traction.

[4:30] - We’re all productive during different times of the day, and our ideal day is going look different because we have different circadian rhythms. Our most productive times come around certain certainties we have based on the time of day. For Mike, it’s at night when he knows his kids are going to be in bed. That’s when he can get a lot of work done.

[7:10] - It is important to set boundaries for your work and energy - this might be certain times of the day where you can fall into deep work without worrying about having to respond to others. These can happen naturally based on the times of day you are generally most productive.

[12:50] - Figure out when you’re at your best, and structure your to-do list around that, rather than just letting it happen to you. As you begin working through your to-do list, you have to focus on what you can accomplish in your peak energy levels.

[18:25] - Finding something to act as a trigger to keep you on track is important for making the best use of your energy. Mike gives some examples, like his kids watching Netflix or closing the rings on his Apple Watch. You can use these triggers to redirect you back to your priority tasks.

[24:35] - The idea of triggers sounds more complicated than it is - it’s essentially just asking “Why am I here?” If you find yourself getting in your own way, or notice you’re doing something different than the task at hand, you can ask yourself why, and get yourself back to the original task.

[26:30] - Mike and Charlie talk about intention versus attention - knowing what your intention is allows you to pay attention to whether you’re using your time and energy in the best way.

[28:16] - People often conflate clarity and certainty - you can have clarity about what you need to work on, but have no certainty about when it comes up on a given day. We have more control than we’d like to believe, but you have to pay attention - it is about putting a framework in place that supports you.

[35:43] - Sometimes, people are so focused on a linear model of time, when a circular model allows us to make the most of our time. There is flexibility in when you start your day, your week, or in Mike’s case, even the year. Having a plan and sticking to your plan can help make time work for you.

[39:11] - A lot of people want to get “all the things” done. When you begin to evaluate how you’re spending your time in relation to your energy levels, it may feel like you’re getting less done. The focus becomes getting the important things done well, rather than ticking off boxes on a list. Too many people are trying to get as many things done as possible, because they equate productivity with how many things they did.

[42:24] - Time is a valuable resource that we should spend wisely, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not okay to delay tasks to a later time, especially if you’re not equipped to get something done at that time. The important thing about putting off a task to a different time is to be intentional about when you’re going to pick it back up, or decide it’s not useful anymore.

[47:00] - The more you do, the more people are going to want your time. Having your “bucket” of things you know you want to get accomplished some time down the road can help you protect your time when people start reaching out. Having things planned ahead allows you to prioritize and hold yourself accountable. It gives you the ammunition to say no, but also gives you the clarity to say yes.

[51:05] - Mike encourages journaling, or some way to keep track of not just the quantitative aspects, but also the qualitative aspects of your energy and how you’re spending your time. Record how you feel physically and emotionally. This can also help you in the future to decide if it’s worth it for you to take on certain tasks.

[54:16] - Mike invites and challenges listeners to start organizing your to-do lists by energy levels. Instead of working by project all the time, work by your energy levels to accomplish your tasks.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Productive Flourishing

Mike Vardy


The Front Nine, by Mike Vardy

Dec 07 2017



Rank #17: Year End 2019: Lessons Learned (Episode 212)

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Angela joins Charlie on the show today to break down some of the recent events they’ve experienced in this last season of the year, focusing on a recent trip they went on and some lessons they learned from that trip. 

Key Takeaways:

[1:35] - Charlie’s new book, Start Finishing: How to Go From Idea to Done is out now! Productivity is how we become our best selves in the world. The book covers tools, practices, and mindsets that will help you finish the stuff your soul is yearning to do. There are contributions from Charlie’s friends, colleagues, and teachers. 

[5:35] - One of the huge things that happened for Charlie and the team this year was the launch of his book. That has been a big learning curve and celebration for the whole team at Productive Flourishing. One of the not-great things that happened this year was Angela getting two concussions.

[8:00] - This year they also experienced pregnancy, miscarriage, and the death of their cat. This year was really a year of ups and downs for Charlie and Angela, and the difficulty has been taking in all the emotions as they were happening simultaneously. 

[13:15] - They recently took a vacation for joint self-care, so they could heal from the events of the year together. One thing that transformed the trip was setting up boundaries beforehand. 

[15:35] - The first lesson they talk about is disconnecting completely from work while they were on their trip. Technology was minimal - each of them break down what technology they brought and used on the trip. 

[21:45] - Many of Charlie’s productivity projects have been about solitude, but for Angela, she maintains contact with her phone more often. The days get a lot longer when they’re not stuck to their devices, and it allows more time for the people you love and want to connect with.

[25:05] - The second lesson learned was how much decision fatigue weighs on us, and how much micro-decisions add up. You can enjoy certain types of experiences more when you don’t have to constantly make decisions about different things. This frees up a lot of energy. 

[28:25] - They carried this back with them when they got home. Angela talks about the idea that simplicity equals peace. Personally, she’s taken a few steps back from multi-tasking, and putting more singular attention into tasks throughout the day.

[35:33] - One of the big takeaways of simplicity equals peace is that we have a choice. You have to ask yourself how you’re going to get things done, but you can also ask yourself how you want to be while you’re doing work.

[37:30] - Think about one area of your life that’s not quite in alignment for you, and identify something you can change to help increase your productivity. 

[38:54] - The third lesson learned is how much control we have over keeping things simple and intentional. Angela talks about some of the frustrations around focusing on one single thing, but also about the increased mindfulness she’s learned from being off her phone more frequently.

[41:45] - The fourth lesson they learned was using structured conversations to reconnect. The book The Eight Dates guided them through eight topics ranging from intimacy and sex to conflict and disagreement. Having the joint commitment to walk through the book helped them reconnect in a really powerful way.

[46:20] - This vacation was one of the best gifts they have given themselves. The lessons learned and disconnecting from the rest of the world made all the difference in how they were able to connect. 

[48:10] - These lessons can be applied to your day-to-day or holiday activities coming up at the end of the year. Think about what it might be like to disconnect and be present during this season. How can you lower decision fatigue and make this season simpler? What structured conversations could you have with the people around you?

Mentioned in This Episode:

Productive Flourishing

Start Finishing, by Charlie Gilkey

Clean Email

Blog Post on Miscarriage Story

Eight Dates, by John and Julie Gottman

Dec 26 2019



Rank #18: Episode 20 - Life After Tampons with Jennifer Boykin

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Jennifer Boykin is the creative visionary behind the midlife reinvention movement “Life After Tampons” who speaks, teaches, and writes about women who rise. She frequently contributes to major Internet sites and blogs regularly for The Huffington Post. Jennifer has experienced many losses in her life, including the death of her only daughter over 20 years ago. She joins Charlie on the show today to discuss dealing with loss, busting through fear, her website community at lifeaftertampons.com, and much more.

Key Takeaways:

01:36 – Jennifer experienced the death of a child over 20 years ago, which led to the start of her movement.

03:40 – Jennifer had always felt that motherhood was always necessary to her happiness but not sufficient so she went back to graduate school.

06:21 – The one rule at Jennifer’s website is they don’t talk about their loved ones and families so they don’t hide behind it.

08:04 – A lot of women spend so much time and energy devoting to family that when they finally have some time, money, and space, they don’t have the first clue about what they want to create.

11:25 – There is nobody talking about what Jennifer talks about on her website, and there are a lot of women who are looking for that sense of community.

12:09 – The biggest challenge for Jennifer has been getting up to speed on technology and staying current with it.

14:59 – Women have a deep yearning for a sense of meaning and purpose in life.

18:52 – Combine your urge for meaning and purpose with what your great loves are.

20:18 – Make it your business to know yourself.

26:39 – Every gain comes with a loss.

Mentioned In This Episode:


Jonathan Fields

Pamela Slim

Mar 09 2015



Rank #19: Episode 16 - Run the Point with Mike Bruny

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Mike Ambassador Bruny’s mission is to help individuals discover their greatness and live it out. His latest project, Brand Inside a Brand, focuses on personal branding for the working professional. He is the author of Move the Crowd: 30 Days of Hip-Hop Affirmations to Change Your Life, as well as a speaker, certified life coach, an alum of the Boston based Leaders of Color Development Program, The Partnership, Inc., and a stay-at-home dad to his 10-month-old son. He talks to Charlie about how he got to where he is today, lessons he’s learned along the way, and how to take action on something you’re passionate about and make it happen.

Key Takeaways:

2:08– Working at Intel is where Mike learned to become a professional speaker and where the idea of Brand Inside a Brand was started.

3:28 – Mike created his own curriculum helping people create a brand inside a brand while at Intel.

5:43 – One challenge you can run into is that companies don’t want you to be your own brand. 

7:03 – People who have a good, strong brand of their own are people who you wouldn’t even realize work for a company because they’re so independent.

8:29 – Part of your brand and what Mike teaches is to learn how to be more entrepreneurial, not become an entrepreneur.

11:09 – The idea of working for an employer for the intended length of your working career is obsolete. Most people move on from project to project.

15:21 – It’s about finding a job where you can show up and be the best of yourself, doing the things that you’re interested in, and the things that you’re interested in generating value.

21:35 – Mike sees hip-hop as a language of people.

24:05 – Mike has a vision of getting Seth Godin and Jay-Z on a stage together.

26:00 – Mike’s next project in the works is a community called “No More Reasonable Doubt,” a space where students of color can go to get his work and seek help.

29:27 – Mike organized an event for Charity: Water and helped raise $10,000 for them.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Brand Inside a Brand


Move the Crowd: 30 Days of Hip-Hop Affirmations to Change Your Life

The Partnership, Inc.

Ekaterina Walter

Justin Levy, Citrix

Scott Monty, Ford

Matt Cutts, Google

Robert Schofield, Microsoft

Guy Kawasaki, Apple

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Charity: Water

Chris Brogan

Russell Simmons, Do You!

Andre Taylor

Feb 09 2015



Rank #20: Episode 59 - Debugging the Imposter Syndrome with Dan Pickett

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The imposter syndrome is a major road block for many of us when it comes to doing our best work, especially if doing it requires us to start something new. “Who are you to do it?” rings so loudly inside us that we often can’t hear the other more helpful stories or see the other data points that show us that we’re on the right path. Dan Picket joins Charlie Gilkey for episode 59 to jam about how to debug the imposter syndrome.

Key Takeaways:

[0:55] Who is Dan Picket?

[1:02] Dan’s personal vision is to help people become the best version of themselves

[1:45] How is the imposter syndrome working on him right now?

[2:24] How did he get into programming?

[3:25] How did Dan start out in software development and programming?

[6:07] The stigma associated with software engineers.

[8:32] Why did he make the jump from Launchware to Launch Academy?

[10:59] How was the transition from entrepreneur to teacher?

[13:48] Computer software engineering is a rapidly evolving and multi-faceted universe!

[16:01] Disciplines that are in close periphery to software engineering are also affected by the pace of changing technology.

[17:07] What qualifies Dan to start Launch Academy?

[19:04] Imposter syndromes are so prevalent when you start something new.

[19:42] Dan shares two small anecdotes on overcoming the imposter syndrome.

[23:00] Only seeing the surface level of others’ work can make you feel like you’re not enough.

[24:32] The ironic thing about the imposter syndrome: it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

[26:36] Negative thoughts and stories can feed our fears and make us feel like an imposter.

[29:23] What would he do differently? Mindfulness.

[34:12] Always go back to your core values to see if what you’re doing is in-line with them.

[35:01] How does the imposter syndrome slide into the curriculum at Launch Academy?

[37:03] The zone of proximal development

[39:39] Advancement and growth only happens in discomfort.

[41:00] What’s his biggest challenge right now?

[44:52] Having patience and trust in others.

[46:06] The beauty of hiring based on core values and cultural fit.

[47:28] What is the one thing people could remember about Dan & his body of work from this episode?

Mentioned in this Episode:


Launch Academy


Worcester Politech

Agile Education Method

Pam Slim Podcast (@ 22:04 min)

The Feeling Good Handbook by Dr. Burns

Emotional Obesity by Laura Coe

The World’s Religions by Huston Smith

Young Entrepreneurs Club

Dec 07 2015