Rank #1: The Walk and Richard Branson
Cal looks back on the most amazing thing he’s ever seen in his life, August 7, 1974, when a French street performer named Philippe Petit secretly rigged a wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center and walked on it 1,300 feet above the ground. There are many lessons to be learned from Philippe’s feat, which took place 45 years ago, and Cal has mined for them through at least a dozen viewings of the documentary Man on Wire and the feature film called The Walk. The British mogul Richard Branson also calls Man on Wire one of his favorite films, and Cal wraps up his thoughts with a short conversation he had with Branson about what we can all take away from August 7, 1974.
Rank #2: Simon Sinek: The Infinite Game
Simon talks about the theme of his upcoming book -- and his message hits Cal’s ears like a symphony. Perhaps this should’ve been expected. The concept behind Simon’s book, Start With Why, led to a Ted talk that reached 42 million people. And Leaders Eat Last was a New York Times bestseller. The Infinite Game shows us that business should not be treated like it’s in a sporting event that has a definite period of time and ends with a win or a loss. If we do treat our business like it’s in a sporting event, Simon warns, there will be a decline in trust, a decline in cooperation and a decline in innovation. Simon makes a case that the most successful companies now tend to be guided by leaders with an infinite mindset. There are so many takeaways in this episode that it might be wise to pull out a notepad before you get started.
Rank #3: Jennifer Lawrence, Bono, The Pope and . . . Matt Pohlson
That’s right, Matt Pohlson. Cal sits with the founder of Omaze, a company that has helped raise $130 million for roughly 350 charities through donations made by people looking for a chance to win once in a lifetime experiences with the people they dream of meeting. Drink wine with Jennifer Lawrence. Get in a tank with Arnold Schwarzenegger and go crush things. Go on a double date with George and Amal Clooney. These events can lead to extraordinary stories. When Matt tells them they get better and better . . . and then Matt describes what it was like when he flatlined for four minutes, and came back from the edge of death, and how it changed his life. By the end, you’ll see why this is one of Cal’s favorite episodes.
Rank #4: Jocko Willink: On Going to War with Your Weaknesses
- How to create a team where everybody leads.
- How to get in people’s heads to make them see things they wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
- The value of keeping communications simple — and how good questions can simplify a complicated plan.
- Prioritizing tasks and executing them.
Rank #5: Kobe Bryant: Storytelling and the Awareness of Fear
Cal uncovers how Kobe made the leap from one of the NBA's greats to Oscar nominee.
Rank #6: Tim Ferriss: The Creation of a Bestseller
Cal finds out about the influences that led Tim to write the 4-Hour Workweek and a succession of best sellers as Tim prepares to release his latest blockbuster -- Tribe of Mentors.
Rank #7: Tim Ferriss: How to Make Money
Cal's financial fears disappear as Tim passes on his financial principles and investment strategies.
Rank #8: Seth Godin: Seeing the World Through a Different Frame
The best-selling author teaches Cal how to think like a marketer.
Rank #9: Larry King on Sinatra and The Meaning of a Life’s Work
A conversation between Cal and The King for the ages.
Rank #10: David Griffin: How Good People Influence Your Life
Not long ago, the New Orleans Pelicans won the National Basketball Association’s draft lottery and selected one of the most unique young talents in the league’s history: Zion Williamson. As we see in this week’s episode, the executive in charge of putting together that team, David Griffin, has created a life out of being around the right people. How else would an intern in a media relations department rise to running an NBA team? Griff’s backstory makes us all wonder about the people we meet and choose to be around (and not to be around), and how those choices make us everything we become. This conversation will make you think about the choices you make in your own life and how they impact your own future. And that’s just for starters . . .
Rank #11: Bill Nye, an Epic Story, and a Monumental Challenge
Why Cal went back to high school chemistry in his 30s, and how The Science Guy plans to save the world
Rank #12: Jim Kwik On Never Forgetting a Name Again
The celebrity memory coach hones Cal’s mind.
Takeaways from this episode:
- Turning what might be seen as a weakness into your greatest challenge and ultimately a strength.
- Tips for memorization.
Rank #13: Chris Voss: On Negotiating Better in your Everyday Life
Cal finds out how a man who worked on the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit for 24 years incorporates what he learned on the job into day-to-day life. Cal’s biggest take-away is that people who are good at asking questions have the essential elements to negotiate well.
Many of the characteristics inherent in successful interviewing apply – especially mastery of tone of voice and observation of body language. Negotiation, Cal learns, is a perishable skill and must be honed every day.
Voss, now the CEO of the negotiation training company Black Swan, shows Cal how a misplaced piece of luggage at the airport can be a great opportunity to practice. And how careful listening can get you where you want to go in life.
Rank #14: James Altucher on Reaching For Your Future and Letting Go of Your Past
Cal discovers how the best-selling author, investor, financial analyst, blogger, podcaster and delightful conversationalist once reduced all his worldly possessions to15 items that could fit in a small satchel that he carried with him from Airbnb to Airbnb. A tad extreme, yes, but the takeaways on discipline can elevate anybody's life.
TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS EPISODE:
- What James learned from giving up everything -- it wasn't all positive!
- Tips for downsizing your belongings, how to choose what stays and what goes, and best of all how to make best use of the things you keep.
- How the "access economy" is superseding the "ownership economy" and what that means in practical terms.
Rank #15: George Clooney and Charlie Engle: On Telling A Story
Cal goes to the archives and pulls out a childhood tale George Clooney told him about how his eccentric family taught him to tell a good story. The podcast continues with the story of how drug addiction was transformed into a landmark run across the Sahara Desert for Charlie Engle.
So many takeaways from this episode: The basics of storytelling. Overcoming addiction. The power of discipline. Seeing the world through fresh eyes. Inventing new challenges. A primer in how to get the most out of life and tell the story.
Rank #16: Heather Monahan: On Creating Confidence
Cal meets his polar opposite: The Boss in Heals. Heather Monahan. Whereas Cal was told as a writer in Journalism School never to sell, Heather came up on the sales side being told not to think of herself as a creative talent. She rose up the corporate ladder to become Chief Revenue Officer of the Beasley Media Group with 500 people working for her and was named one of the most influential women in radio only to see her job eliminated in a power struggle. But she used that tumultuous experience to turn herself into the author of the book Confidence Creator, and she is now a speaker and consultant on the topic. “Confidence,” she says, “is a skill to be developed.” She shows Cal how to be confident in areas where he doesn’t feel comfortable – and you’ll get a lot of tips, too
Rank #17: James Altucher: A Business Strategy Masterclass
When Cal needs to develop a business strategy for his new company, James comes to the rescue. Altucher has started many businesses over the years, making millions, losing millions, making more millions, losing more millions and making more millions. A prolific blogger and podcaster, author, angel investor and owner of a comedy club in New York where he often appears, James shows Cal how to define, shape and monetize his new business helping companies tell their stories. The strategy session is a gift for anybody who’s thinking about starting a business – and fun for everybody else.
Rank #18: Ryan Holiday: On Merging Creativity and Business
Cal meets the best-selling author at an entrepreneurial conference in Colorado called two12 and becomes highly curious as to how Ryan can be a writer and ALSO an expert at marketing books, as well as positioning companies. Generally, when a person has one of those talents or skills, he or she is lacking in the other area.
Cal finds out exactly how Ryan became The Full House in a conversation that will benefit anyone trying to create a piece of art or a business.
There are many takeaways in this episode, especially for people who are coming up with ideas for a new business, or taking their business through obstacles. Ryan is, after all, the author of The Obstacle Is The Way. And some of the advice he offered to the entrepreneurs at two12 can be scooped up right here on Big Questions.
Rank #19: Dandapani: On Learning to Concentrate
When Cal turns into a salesman to try to generate a million dollars in new business by the end of May, he is unprepared for the constant buzzing of his cellphone and the new lifestyle this brings. When it begins to feel like his brain has fragmented into 500 pieces, Cal reaches out to his pal, The Monk Dandapani, for lessons on how to focus and concentrate. The world-renowned monk gives Cal advice on harnessing his energy, that can lift everybody’s life.
Rank #20: Amy Morin: On Mental Toughness
The international best-selling author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do gives Cal some lessons on training your brain for happiness and success. And it couldn’t have come at a better time for Cal, who was recently challenged to lift his game as a CEO . . . and responded with an outlandish goal of bringing in a million dollars of new revenue by the end of May . . . without having the slightest idea how he was going to do it. Once she hears Cal’s background, Amy, a psychotherapist, actually thinks it’s a good thing for Cal to embrace this crazy idea and encourages him to get tough and go after it. Anybody who listens to this episode will be stronger for it – and have some laughs along the way.