Rank #1: #184: Using Behavioral Psychology for a Rich Life With Ramit Sethi
You set a goal for yourself- lose weight, pay off your debt, ask that woman out-- but something holds you back from taking action. Or if you do take action, you flame out in a week. So you do more research on your goal, hoping that you'll find the one piece of information that will guarantee success. But you fail again.
What if instead of more thinking, achieving your goal requires more feeling?
That's what my guest today on the podcast argues. His name is Ramit Sethi and he's the owner of the website I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Today on the show, Ramit and I discuss what we can learn from behavioral psychology to help us achieve our goals, whether it's losing weight or asking for a raise.We talk about why you should focus on big wins in life and Ramit gives us an exact script to follow when asking for a raise. Lots of actionable steps in this podcast. You'll want to take notes.
Rank #2: #168: The Value of Deep Work in the Age of Distraction
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 #3: #354: Brains & Brawn — Tips and Inspiration on Being a Well-Rounded Man
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
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: #233: Diet and Nutrition Advice From the Doctor of Gains
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 #6: #455: How to Create the Perfect Morning Routine
How you start something is often how you finish it, and that couldn't be truer than for the trajectory of each of your days. When your mornings feel chaotic, rushed, and fragmented, the rest of your day often does too. But when you start off with a centering, invigorating morning routine, that feeling follows you the rest of the day.
If you've been wanting to improve or simply start your own morning routine, then this episode is for you. My guest is Benjamin Spall and he’s the co-author of the book My Morning Routine, which shares insights taken from the morning routines of dozens of entrepreneurs, leaders, and creative folks.
On today’s show, Benjamin walks us through how to craft the perfect morning routine, including how to make time for it in your schedule, what activities to include, and how a successful morning routine starts with what you do the night before. We also discuss how to adjust your morning routine while traveling and when you have kids. Along the way, Benjamin gives us a peek at the morning routines of several influential people to give us some inspiration for our own routines.
Lots of actionable advice in this episode on creating a morning routine that works for you and sets you up for a productive day.
After the show is over, get the notes at aom.is/morningroutine.
Rank #7: #196: The Science of Self-Motivation and Productivity
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 #8: #214: How to Have a Good Day, Every Day
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 #9: #348: A Counterintelligence Expert's Five Rules to Lead and Succeed
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 #10: #538: Research-Backed Answers to All Your Fitness FAQs
Which should you do first when you work out -- cardio or weights? How long does it take to get in shape? How long does it take to get out of shape? How important is your form when you run? Does exercise really contribute to fat loss? Does music help or hurt your athletic performance?
These are the kinds of questions folks have about exercise, and have trouble finding good answers to. The advice out there on blogs and magazines is often confusing and contradictory. My guest today set out to cut through the noise by finding the best research-backed answers to these questions and more in his book Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise. His name is Alex Hutchinson, and he started out as a Cambridge-trained physicist and a long-distance runner on the Canadian national team, and is now a journalist and author. Today on the show, Alex walks us through what the scientific literature says about some of the most common fitness and health questions out there. This is a fun and interesting conversation packed with lots of useful insights. Will your own theories and practices be confirmed or challenged? Listen in to find out!
Get the show notes at aom.is/fitnessfaq.
Rank #11: #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 #12: #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 #13: #191: Finding the Work You Were Meant To Do
Rank #14: #401: Everything You Need to Know About Diet & Fat Loss
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 #15: #234: Haggling and Deal Making Advice From a FBI Hostage Negotiator
If you’re like most people who grew up in the West, particularly America, negotiation might make you uncomfortable because it’s really not part of the culture. The price someone asks is usually the price we pay.
But negotiation is something all of us will have to do at one time or another. A job salary or car price are two obvious examples that come to mind.
The problem is the way most folks go about haggling when they do have to negotiate is often counter-productive. For example, it’s typically assumed the best way to negotiate is to quickly get to yes and make compromises. But what if the better approach is to make “no” your goal and to never split the difference?
Well, that’s what my guest on the show today argues. And his insights have been field tested in truly critical situations. His name is Chris Voss, and he’s a former lead international kidnapping negotiator and the author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As if Your Life Depended On It. Today on the show, Chris shares tactics and strategies he developed to better negotiate with kidnappers that can work in the civilian world. And many of his tips run counter to what you've probably been taught. If you’re looking to become a better haggler, you’re going to love this episode. It’s packed with tons of actionable advice.
Rank #16: #461: The Spartan Regime
For thousands of years, the Spartans have captured the imaginations of Westerners. In ancient Greece, the city-state was admired for its military prowess, civic unity, and dedication to leisurely athletic pursuits. Today, we make movies about Spartans and name sports teams after them. When we moderns think of Spartans, we typically think of them simply as fierce warriors.
But while the Spartans were indeed warriors par excellence, their culture was much more complex. Today on the show, I unpack some of these complexities with historian Paul Rahe. Paul is working on a series of books with Yale University Press which explore both the military and political strategy of the Spartans. We begin our conversation discussing why it’s hard for us moderns to truly understand Sparta. We then dig into the history and culture of Spartans, including where they came from, their economic set-up and relationship with the helot population, and the strenuous upbringing of boys that made them fit for battle. We then talk about the mixed government of the Spartans. We end our conversation discussing how the city-state faded into obscurity, and why the Spartans yet live on in modern culture.
Get the show notes at aom.is/sparta.
Rank #17: #180: Establishing a Modern Day Homestead and Unschooling
Rank #18: #539: Life Hacking, A Reexamination
In an effort to get more done and be our best selves, many of us have turned to "life hacks" that we find in blogs, books, and podcasts. I've personally experimented with several life hacks in the past decade, and we've even written about some on AoM. But are there downsides to trying to hack your way through life?
My guest took a look at both the positives and negatives of life hacking in his book, Hacking Life: Systemized Living and Its Discontents. His name is Joseph Reagle, and he's a professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University. We begin our conversation with a history of the life hacking movement and how blogging in the early 2000s made this obscure cultural movement amongst computer programmers go mainstream. Joseph then discusses how he distinguishes between "nominal life hacking" and "optimal life hacking" and between "geeks" and "gurus." We then discuss some of the beneficial productivity and motivation hacks out there, but also how there are ways they can go astray -- including only working for a certain class of people and becoming too much of a focus in life. We also discuss how the minimalism movement can sometimes lead to contradictory impulses, and end our conversation talking about how using spiritual practices like meditation or Stoicism as hacks can strip them of their deeper contexts.
Get the show notes at aom.is/hackinglife.
Rank #19: #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.