Rank #1: #168: The Value of Deep Work in the Age of Distraction
Have you ever spent an entire day at work feeling really busy, checking emails, reading your news feed -- and at the end of the day you realize, "Man, I really wasn't all that productive." You felt busy but your brain was fuzzy and didn't end up doing all that much. If that sounds familiar, today's show is for you. My guest, Cal Newport, has a new book out called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. I'm not joking when I say this has been a life-changing book for me. We talk about the principles of deep work, plus the nuts and bolts of being more focused with your day.
Rank #2: #499: A Fascinating Primer on Norse Mythology
The world of Norse mythology and legend is a thoroughly fascinating one, and my guest has captured it in all its compelling mystery in his book which retells those stories, called Tales of Valhalla. His name is Martyn Whittock and today he takes us on a gripping tour of Norse culture and myth. We begin the show discussing who the Norse people were, and the misconceptions people commonly have about them, including associating them exclusively with Vikings. We also talk about misconceptions about the Vikings themselves, and what it really meant to be a Viking. We then get into why it's hard to completely recapture Norse myths and rituals as they were originally known. Martyn then unfolds the Norse creation story, offers interesting snapshots of the major Norse gods, including Odin, Thor, and Loki, and explains what Ragnarok was all about. We end our conversation discussing Norse sagas, and how Norse culture continues to influence our modern culture today. Get the show notes at aom.is/norsemyths.
Rank #3: #354: Brains & Brawn — Tips and Inspiration on Being a Well-Rounded Man
Physical training has a lot of carry over to other domains of your life. It can help you become a better husband and father, a more productive worker, and a more disciplined student. My guest today is a living manifestation of the multiplier effect that physical training produces. His name is Dan John. He holds several records in discus and the highland games, and coaches and consults top athletes in the throwing sports and Olympic lifting. Dan also holds master's degrees in history and religious studies and was a Fulbright Scholar in religious education. He teaches religious studies for Columbia College of Missouri. Today on the show, Dan and I discuss how physical training can make you a better man in all domains of your life. We begin our discussion on how his training has made him a better scholar and how his scholarship has improved his training. Dan then explains what “shark habits” are, how they contribute to your long-term goals, and how to develop your own shark habits. We end our conversation getting into specifics of strength training. Dan shares the top 3 mistakes he sees people make with their training, why you need to start carrying heavy instead of just lifting heavy, and why you need to put a premium on recovery. This episode combines both brains and brawn for a compelling conversation on being a well-rounded man.
Rank #4: #377: 12 Rules for Life With Jordan Peterson
Have you been stuck in a rut for awhile? Have you been there so long that you feel like there’s no use in trying to get out of that slump? Maybe you even start telling yourself, “Things can never get better. This is just the way things are. Is there even a point to all of this?” And as you ruminate over these questions over and over, you feel more and more depressed and maybe even start to feel a bit resentful. Resentful towards others, resentful towards life itself. Well, my guest today says that perhaps the way you start to get out of that rut is to clean your room, bucko. His name is Jordan B. Peterson, and I’ve had him on the show before. Peterson is a psychoanalyst and lecturer, and he’s got a new book out called "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos." Today on the show, Dr. Peterson and I discuss why men have been disengaging from work and family and why his YouTube lectures resonate with so many modern men. We then unpack why it’s so easy to get resentful about life, before spending the rest of the conversation discussing rules that can help you navigate away from resentment and towards a life of meaning. Dr. Peterson explains why he thinks a meaningful life isn’t possible without religion or myths, what lobsters can teach us about assertiveness, and why a simple act like cleaning your room can be the stepping stone towards a better life.
Rank #5: #196: The Science of Self-Motivation and Productivity
You want to be more productive. You want do more, in less time, so you can spend time doing the things you actually want to do. So we read articles and books on productivity, and have the best of intentions, but too often we just find ourselves spinning our wheels. You can't self-motivate to do the things you know you should be doing. If that describes you, you'll love this podcast. My guest today is Charles Duhigg. We had him on before to talk about The Power of Habit, and today we're talking about his new book, Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. This isn't your standard self-help book. Rather than relying on old platitudes, Duhigg turns to science and real-world examples of motivation and productivity. We also get into the nitty gritty and give you solid tips on how you can improve your day-to-day life and work.
Rank #6: #348: A Counterintelligence Expert's Five Rules to Lead and Succeed
Trust. It certainly makes life easier when it exists. Instead of having to craft complicated contracts for a business deal, a simple handshake will do. Instead of surveilling your spouse like the NSA, you take them at their word. But trust, it seems, is in short supply these days. We’re afraid of trusting people and we have a hard time getting people to trust us. How can you establish trust in even the most toxic environments? My guest today thinks he has the answer to that question. His name is Robin Dreeke, and he's spent his career working in a field where trust is hard to get but important to have — doing counterintelligence for the FBI. Robin’s recently published a book sharing how he has been able to gain the trust of people who aren’t very keen on trusting others. It’s called "The Code of Trust." Today on the show, Robin shares the five rules of building trust with anyone — no matter how suspicious they are of you. While these rules may seem like they’re an invitation to become a human doormat, Robin explains why that’s not the case, and how they actually make you more influential. Whether you’re working with spies, like Robin, or just want to build more trust in your office or relationships, you’re going to find plenty of interesting and actionable advice in this podcast.
Rank #7: #164: How to Wow in Relationships & Business
I talk to media and image consultant Frances Cole Jones about how to put your best foot forward in your personal life and business. Lots of great actionable steps to help you make a great first impression.
Rank #8: #455: How to Create the Perfect Morning Routine
How to plan the perfect morning routine.
Rank #9: #169: The Psychology of Scam Artists & How Not to Get Duped
We've probably all seen some sort of scam or fraud in the news (Bernie Madoff), or even in our email inbox (that Nigerian prince). We tend to think we're way too smart to fall for those cons and tell ourselves "That could never happen to me." Well our guest today wrote a book that says that might not be the case. Her name is Maria Konnikova and her book is called The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It Every Time. She looks at the psychology of scams and what scam artists do to get inside our brains. And in this episode, we talk about that, as well as how to scam-proof your life.
Rank #10: #440: The 3 Great Untruths That Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve likely seen headlines about the tumultuous atmosphere on many college campuses in the United States, which primarily centers around what is and isn’t okay to say or express. The interesting thing is that not too long ago, it was the students who were protesting against the administration placing controls on free speech. But a few years ago, my guest noticed that things had gotten flipped: the students had started protesting that administrators weren't doing enough to limit speech. What happened? Well, my guest explores the answer to that question in a book he co-authored with Jonathan Haidt entitled The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. His name is Greg Lukianoff and he’s the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Today on the show, Greg tries to explain what’s going on on college campuses with the trigger warnings, microaggressions, protests, and sometimes violent clashes between social justice warriors and far-right provocateurs. He argues that there are 3 great untruths that have become woven into childhood and education that are leading the rising generation astray. Greg gets into where these untruths come from and how they're creating a culture of "safetyism" that's not only affecting intellectual discourse but the normal process of maturation. If you’re looking for some thoughtful, non-polemical insights about some of the craziness you see going on at college campuses, this episode is for you. Get the show notes at aom.is/coddling.
Rank #11: #191: Finding the Work You Were Meant To Do
Have you ever met someone who has a job that seems like something they were born to do? Not only do their skills match up with their job, but they genuinely enjoy their work. Now you might think it's just plain luck that landed them their career, but my guest today has written a book about how you can turn the odds more in your favor in the career lottery. Chris Guillebeau's latest book is called Born For This. In this show, Chris shares brass tacks advice on finding work you love. Don't miss it.
Rank #12: #401: Everything You Need to Know About Diet & Fat Loss
When it comes to fitness and nutrition, the nutrition part can cause a lot of confusion. There’s so much information out there about the best diet to follow and often the advice is contradictory. My guest today is here to clear up some of the confusion. His name is Robert Santana, he’s a registered dietician, a PhD candidate in exercise and nutrition science, a Starting Strength coach, and the nutrition coach at Starting Strength Online Coaching. Today on the show we discuss all things diet and nutrition. We begin with a big picture overview of the three main macronutrients our body uses to function, and the science of their effect on the body. Robert walks us through how our body partitions nutrients as we consume them, and explains exactly how we get fat. In the process, Robert debunks a lot of popular ideas people have about nutrition these days, like eating carbs makes you fat and eating fat is an easy way to lose weight. In fact, he argues that you should probably be eating a lot more carbs than you are now. He then walks us through the science of fat loss, and gives practical examples of what a diet needs to look like, whether you’re wanting to lose fat, while maintaining muscle, or gain weight that's more muscle than fat. We end our conversation discussing my experience in cutting weight, what I eat from day to day, and why trying to get six-pack abs isn’t necessarily a healthy goal. Get the full show notes at aom.is/santana
Rank #13: #233: Diet and Nutrition Advice From the Doctor of Gains
Today on the show, we cut through all the confusion when it comes to nutrition and fitness by talking to an actual Doctor of Gains. His name is Jordan Feigenbaum. He’s a Starting Strength Coach, diet consultant for some of the best competitive powerlifters and CrossFit athletes in the world, and a medical doctor currently doing his residency at UCLA. Jordan I discuss why barbell training is the best medicine for overall fitness, the best way to approach diet for strength training, and why you can’t gain strength and muscle while simultaneously losing fat. We also discuss which supplements are the biggest waste of money and which ones are actually scientifically proven to work. This episode is jam-packed with actionable information, so be sure to take notes.
Rank #14: #214: How to Have a Good Day, Every Day
We've all had those days where everything seems to go just right. We set goals for ourselves and we accomplish them. Instead of frittering away our time on YouTube, we're focused and get work done. It's easy to attribute these sorts of days to luck, but my guest today argues that research from behavioral economics and psychology can show us how we can consistently have more of these good days. Her name is Caroline Webb and she's the author of How to Have a Good Day. Today on the show, we discuss how to set goals in the morning and put them into action, how to reduce cognitive overload so you can make better decisions, and how to deal with irksome people and setbacks so they don't ruin your day.
Rank #15: #285: The Real Science of Nutrition and Supplements
If you work out regularly, you probably take some sort of supplement, be it whey protein or creatine or a pre-workout energy drink. But do the supplements you’re taking actually work? My guest today on the show has spent his career studying the effects of what we put into our body and is the director of the online encyclopedia of supplements and nutrition called Examine.com. His name is Kamal Patel. He’s a researcher with an MPH and MBA from John Hopkins University and is working on his PhD in nutrition. Today on the show, Kamal and I discuss why there’s so much confusion when it comes to supplements and nutrition. For example, he explains why one study can say cholesterol is bad for you, while another one says it’s vital for health. Kamal then breaks down how to read scientific studies on nutrition so you can make informed decisions about your diet instead of relying on clickbait headlines published by pseudo-journalists. We then get into which supplements actually work and which ones are a waste of money. Kamal also shares his insights on the growing field of nootropics and if there really are supplements that will make you smarter.
Rank #16: #294: Learning the Art of Charm
My guest today is Jordan Harbinger of the Art of Charm podcast. While men sometimes see developing their social skills as something superficial or unimportant, these skills are essential for success in business and life. Knowing how to interact and get along with others is how we can make friends, find love, and advance our career. My guest on the podcast today has spent the past ten years helping men become more socially dynamic through his in-person coaching services and his podcast The Art of Charm. His name is Jordan Harbinger and today on the show Jordan I discuss why improving your social skills is so important and why many men often give it the short shrift. We then dig into the concept of social capital and why it might be even more vital to develop than financial capital. We end our conversation getting into brass tacks advice on how to become a social dynamo without having to be an extroverted “life of the party” cheeseball. This is a great podcast filled with tons of actionable steps.
Rank #17: #470: A Proven System for Building and Breaking Habits
It’s a new year and if you’re like millions of people around the world, you’re likely making goals to create some new habits or to break some bad ones. But if you’re also like millions of people around the world, your attempts at making and breaking habits will usually fail after just a few weeks of flailing effort, and you'll probably think your lack of willpower is to blame. My guest today argues that it isn’t truly a lack of willpower that’s holding you back from your habit goals, it’s the tactics you use for reaching them. His name is James Clear, he’s the author of the book Atomic Habits, and today on the show, he walks us through how to make habit formation and habit breaking much easier by crafting optimal systems for behavior change. We begin our show discussing the misconceptions people have about habits and the 4-step process of habit formation that tracks the 4 laws of behavior change. James then suggests specific ways to make good habits more attractive and easier to obtain while making bad habits less attractive and easier to shake. We end our conversation discussing why you should take into account your unique personality when you craft your habits. Get the show notes at aom.is/atomichabits.
Rank #18: #497: The Meaning, Manifestations, and Treatments for Anxiety
According to recent statistics, the number of Americans dealing with anxiety disorders is over 40 million and that number is increasing. My guest today is one of those Americans who's suffered from bouts of anxiety all of his life. He’s also a successful journalist. So he decided to use his journalistic chops to explore the history of anxiety and how we treat it in the hopes he could gain more insight about the mental disorder that has plagued him since his youth. His name is Scott Stossel. He’s an editor at The Atlantic and the author of My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. We begin our conversation discussing Scott’s experience with anxiety that began as a child, what anxiety feels like, and how he’s treated it throughout his life. We then dig into the history of anxiety, looking at how it's been viewed differently through time, and at what point psychologists classified it as a mental disorder. Scott then walks us through the different theories about what causes anxiety and what the research says about the best ways to treat it. We end our conversation discussing the state of Scott’s anxiety today and whether he thinks he’ll ever be cured. Get the show notes at aom.is/ageofanxiety.
Rank #19: #243: Becoming a Barbarian
Seven years ago, my guest today published what has become an underground cult classic on masculinity. His name is Jack Donovan and that book was The Way of Men. I had him on the podcast a few years ago to discuss it — check it out if you haven’t listened to it. In The Way of Men, Donovan argued that for men to really live what he calls the “tactical virtues” of masculinity, they needed to join an all-male honor group, or what he calls a gang or tribe. In his latest book, Becoming a Barbarian, Donovan lays out what creating these honor groups would look like. On today’s show, Jack and I discuss why masculinity is often tragic, why today’s modern world makes it hard for men to form male honor groups, the difference between a club and a tribe, and what it means to start the world.
Rank #20: #462: How to Tell Better Stories
Humans are storytelling and story-listening creatures. We use stories to teach, persuade, and to make sense of the complexities of existence. Being able to craft and deliver a good story is thus a real advantage in all areas of life, giving you a foot up when doing job interviews, going on dates, interacting with friends, or making a sales pitch. Fortunately, good storytelling is a skill that can learned by anyone. Here to teach us the art of storytelling is Matthew Dicks, a writer, five-time Moth GrandSlam storytelling winner, and the author of the book Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling. Today on the show, Matthew walks us through the nuts and bolts of how to craft a compelling story. We begin our conversation discussing ways to generate story ideas, why good stories don’t have to be about big moments, and why he recommends a practice called "Homework for Life." Matthew then tells us what we can learn from movies about making a story so engaging that people are waiting to hear what you say next. We also discuss the don'ts of storytelling, including how to never begin a story. And we end our conversation with a five-minute story from Matthew that showcases all the principles we discussed during the show. Get the show notes at aom.is/storyworthy.