Podcast of the week: Adam Savage @ The Tim Ferris Show

For 14 years; 1,015 myths; 2,950 experiments; eight Emmy nominations; and 83 miles of duct tape, Adam Savage regaled us with the scientific method as he and Jamie tacked various myths and movie magic: Which will keep you die walking or running in the rain? How does was escape a sinking car? Thee wee so many…and like all good things, it had to come to an end. Yet, he goes on: He has a book, aptly named Every Tool’s a Hammer, he is making bags out of sail cloths, and has a new show on Discovery: Savage Builds.

Yep, he build an iron man suit out of titanium and a  D printer with the gang at Colorado School of Mines.

As you may have guessed, Adam’s greatest strengths must be Creativity and Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence . In this free wheeling interview in which he discusses his love of building and creating from Iron Man to sword scabbards to scrambled eggs, you get a sense of his Humor  and incredible Zest for life. This is a guy clearly playing to his strengths. None of that surprised me. I knew this would be a fun interview. What I did not expect was how insightful and down right profound he would be showcasing Perspective his as he s

It’s still very difficult for me to confront the fact that I’m a flawed human being. There’s still some part of me that thinks, “Oh, as long as I perform all these things correctly, everything will go smoothly.” The answer is, no. That’s fiction. Nothing will ever go smoothly. No plan ever survives first contact with implementation and we’re all going to screw up and feel unworthy at a very constant pace in our lives. That’s being a person. The trick is to be honest about that.

Podcast of the week: Seth Godin @ Akimbo

Akimbo is an ancient word, from the bend in the river or the bend in an archer’s bow. It’s become a symbol for strength, a posture of possibility, the idea that when we stand tall, arms bent, looking right at it, we can make a difference.

Akimbo’s a podcast about our culture and about how we can change it. About seeing what’s happening and choosing to do something.” So goes the introduction to Seth Godin’s contemplations on how the world works. This is not your usual podcast: No guests. No fancy production. Just Seth and his thoughts. His very well groomed thoughts. Seth is the thinker’s thinker. Author of 23 books, many best sellers, Seth has long been the go to person for all things marketing every since Purple Cow took the world by storm.

I have long been a fan, having read the said Purple Cow, Linchpin and Tribes (among others and watched his Ted Talks like How ideas spread:

Seth’s podcast listens like a series of essays. Really thoughtful essays. Episode 19, the Big Sort, gets to the heart of arranging. “People strong in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.” Seth gets to the heart of our compulsion to organize, the incredible Discipline it takes.

All of Seth’s shows go beyond the topic at hand, giving incredible Context to listener.

Aikimbo will feed not just your Context but also your

Podcast of the week: Evan Carmichael @ James Altucher Show

My love affair with podcasts continues as I binge listen these past several days the James Altucher Show. James made a name for himself by being an early tech reporter, Hedge Fund Manager and serial entrepreneur and author, with 20 books to his credit. There could be many of the 400 episodes I recommend, but Evan Carmichael stands out for its positivity.

428 – Evan Carmichael: How to Shut Out the Negativity in Your Life and Maybe Get Huge on YouTube

I did not know Evan Carmichael, well not directly. Sure I had seen some of his youtube videos posted on facebook like Steve Job’s 10 Rules for Success:

or Oprah Winfrey’s Top 10 Rules For Success

or 5 PROVEN Ways to FIND Your True PURPOSE!

These make their way around motivational posts as Evan has over 1.7 Million Subscribers. All good great stuff. Evan distills the essence of success through carefully editing interesting and successful people’s stories from other video interviews. And he does it right, focusing on the positive, because that is the heart and soul of what he does and who he is. James and Evan were a fantastic pairing, two uber enthusiasts who love finding just one thing to give them an edge. And they love to share. This is their includer in action.

James is a very enjoyable interviewer. He has a way of connecting with his guest through making his own observations and interjections. Every episode I learn so much from James and his guests.

Strengths fed:

Podcast of the week: Shawn Achor @ Jordan Harbinger

I love podcasts–heck we all do. Now I thought I would shine the light on specific episodes that caught my ears. First up: Happiness Researcher, Shawn Achor being interviewed by Jordan Harbinger.

144: Shawn Achor | Why Success and Happiness Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

I first encountered Shawn (great name by the way) through his first work, the Happiness Advantage, a book of highly actionable ideas, as his subtitle suggests: “How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life.” Shawn has a gift at taking research and bringing i alive. He is even better in person:

In this fast-moving and very funny talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that, actually, happiness inspires us to be more productive.  His humor is part of why this has been viewed almost 20 Million times.

Jordan Harbinger unpacks with Shawn his new Book, Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being

Jordan doesn’t just skillfully interview Shawn, he enters into a a dialogue, looking for ways to help us understand why this matters and how to put it into action. Jordan’s show notes takes it a step further by adding a worksheet to help you take action on the big ideas presented during the conversation. Jordan is an incredible engaging conversationalist that makes his guests feel at ease.

Jordan’s show is well worth subscribing to and mining the back episodes.

Shawn has several books worth reading:

Strengths fed:


A fresh look at Gallup’s strengthsfinder themes

While Gallup has written definitions and action steps for each of its 34 themes, they do not always illustrate the point effectively. I have taken a stab at giving a more detailed explanation you can find here. The folks at Leadership Vision Consulting have done a wonderful job adding illumination through inclusion of real life examples culled from thousands of interviews over 16 years working with clients. They also focus on the generative aspect of the strength–ie how you can use this theme to make things happen. Check out yours:

achiever | activator | adaptability | analytical | arranger | belief | command |communication | competition | connectedness | consistency | context | deliberative |developer | discipline | empathy | focus | futuristic | harmony | ideation | includer | individualization | input | intellection | learner | maximizer | positivity | relator | responsibility | restorative | self-assurance | significance | strategic | woo

They also offer up a podcast that focuses specific episodes on the use of strengths.

In Procrastination lay possibilities

One of the things that undermines us being at our best is procrastination.

  • In 1978, 5% of the population admitted to being chronic procrastinators compared to roughly 26% of the population today (Steele, 2007).

Indeed, it is no coincidence that Self-Control is the least occurring VIA Strengths (only 4% of the population) and Discipline is near the bottom of Gallup’s 34 Strengthsfinder themes (31st of 34). So, if you are like me, you cannot call on these strengths to help you.

Warning: While reading.viewing this post will help you effectively move beyond procrastinating if put into practice, you will probably go down a rabbit hole exploring procrastinating. 

Tim Urban of Wait, but why offers one of best explanations for why we procrastinate:

He offers a follow up in another post on How to Beat Procrastination.

Dr. Linda Sapadin has created a personality quiz to help you identify the type of procrastinator you are:

According to Dr. Sapadin, the 6 styles represent the outer polarities of 3 traits:

Attention to Details: The perfectionist pays too much attention to details; the dreamer doesn’t pay enough attention.

Focus on the Future: The worrier is overly concerned about what might happen if…; the crisis-maker is not sufficiently concerned (until crunch time).

Relationship to Others: The defier goes against what others want; the pleaser is overly oriented to what others want.

In her book, she offers prescriptions to each of the styles. Short of buying the book, what can you do?


First steps always involve having a plan. Part of the plan comes down to understanding your priorities. For big picture, short of having your own mission statement (which is a good idea), I like Warren Buffet’s 25/5 priority solution:

  • Write down your top 25 goals for the next year.
  • Circle your top 5.
  • Throw out the other 20. As Buffet said “Everything you didn’t circle just became your Avoid-At-All-Cost list. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.”

You can do this on a life time, or five years or one week. It really does not matter. The idea is to zero in on the essential. Charles Schwab employed a similar idea brought to him by a consultant Ivy Lee

  1. At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

A more macro approach has to do with understanding the nature of your to do list at any given time as General Eisenhower did: “”I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” This is best illustrated by this matrix:

If you actually organized all the tasks into one of the four quadrants, you will be a far more productive place. Here is a video of it in practice:

But how to stop procrastinating?

Anisa  Horton at FastCompany offers an idea of scheduling procrastination which he borrowed from Charles Duhigg:

“this is something I actually found when writing the book.  The more you focus, the more that focus becomes a habit.  So, willpower is like a muscle, right?  It’s this muscle that you can build up, and it gets tired, but the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.  The same is true of our ability to focus.  The more you practice focusing, the easier focusing becomes.  And so the other answer for procrastination is, don’t beat up on yourself.  Let yourself practice going longer and longer and longer without taking a five-minute break to check Facebook because after three or four weeks, after three or four months you’ll be able to sustain focus much longer, but the key is, you can’t change everything overnight. You can’t suddenly say, I want a brand new habit tomorrow and expect it to be east and effortless.  It’s something you have to give yourself permission to take a little bit of time to practices because you’re building up neuro pathways associated with certain behavior and those neuro pathways just build up over time.  You can’t speed up that process any more than is natural.”

Another personal favorite is the Pomodoro Technique.

  1. Choose a task to be accomplished.
  2. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
  3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
  4. Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
  5. Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break

Other techniques

Visual Cues: Let’s say you need to learn a list of vocabulary words. You commit to reviewing 25 words every day. You can get a bowl of 25 paperclips–25 to be exact. Each word you review, you flip the clip to an empty bowl. And you keep going until the first bowl is empty. Repeat tomorrow. 

Surrender your cell phone. Seriously, you know you cannot live without it, so let’s meet half way. When you get home, give your phone to your parent. You can give yourself an allowance of say 30 minute phone break to do all the things you normally do. A growing body of research is showing that Cell phone usage is driving anxiety levels up

Exercise Self Control. Don’t have any? There is an app for that. You can block websites and apps that distract you. The nice thing is you can give yourself an allowance. So you can block Youtube for say 1 hour and then give yourself a break to do so. There is an app called Focus for your iphone that does the thing. More iphone apps for productivity here.

Focus Writer helps you concentrate on your writing on a mac. StayFocusd increases your productivity by limiting the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites through this Chrome extension

Practice mindfulness daily. Why? “Emotional regulation, to me, is the real story around procrastination, because to the extent that I can deal with my emotions, I can stay on task,” says Pychyl, a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada).

Podcasts worth listening to


Where to start?

Simply pick one of these strategies and test it for one week. Run it like an experiment. Next week try a different strategies. 

Well worth reading is this article on the Science Behind Procrastination.

Love of Learning: Podcasts worth listening to

The podcast world is the love of learning’s best friend.

Let’s start with an interview with Josh Waitzkin,  an 8x US National Chess Champion, a 2x Tai Chi Push Hands World Champion, and a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  He is the author of The Art of Learning (require reading to train with me).  Josh is now pursuing paddle surfing where I’ve been working with him for the last year.  He is the most positive, inspirational person I know and I’m incredibly thankful he agreed to come on the show. Josh’s Core Training Principles –

  • Reduced Complexity (end game before opening) – training with less variables to focus on larger, high-level principles concepts.
  • Firewalking – learning from the experience of others using empathy and visualization.
  • Mental Representations – have a clear mental model for a skill your practicing.  Like modeling an Agassi forehand.
  • Growth comes at point of resistance – we learn the most when we’re outside of our comfort zone.
  • Living on the other side of pain
  • Train at the few to internalize the many
  • Finding your own way
  • Beacon of Quality
  • Depth before Breadth
  • Loving the storm
  • Have your compass on
  • Most important Question
  • The Downward Spiral – Usually it isn’t the first mistake that’s disastrous, but the first mistake tends to make the second more likely.
  • Philosopher vs. Philosophologist – We tend to study the work of those who study the experts instead of studying the experts directly.

SoundCloud Widget



Think of domain and you can probably plug in and find a podcast to educate and entertain you. So many to explore, but I will highlight a few that do a deep dive. Check out our the posting for Curiosity, the sibling for a love of learning. Here are some of my favorites:

 The Psychology Podcast

Every episode Scott Barry Kaufmann interviews the most intriguing people form the world of psychology, diving deep into their research with good humor. Some episodes to get you started:

The Way I heard it 

Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame, takes the guy in the bar format to share a story, a mini biography of famous people past and present. Episodes are typically five minutes, but will take you far deeper into than you would expect. Each episode starts with a avague but intriguing aspect that leaves you guessing who he is talking about. Check out these episodes:

    • Episode 69: “A Little Dab’ll Do Ya!”
    • Episode 67: Charlie’s Big Break
    • Episode 59: A Hero Under the Influence
    • Episode 54: The Boy Who Loved to Fly
    • Episode 15: Sorry, Wrong Number
    • Episode 3: Clean Up On Aisle 4!

The China History Podcast

LASZLO MONTGOMERY hails from Claremont California whose business takes him to China. Amateur historian does not do justice to this world class sinophile. You can listen from any episode as he does it by topic, not by chronology. Some topics take 2 or 3 or even 10 episodes. I have learned so much. 

Hardcore History

In “Hardcore History” journalist and broadcaster Dan Carlin takes his “Martian”, unorthodox way of thinking and applies it to the past. Was Alexander the Great as bad a person as Adolf Hitler? What would Apaches with modern weapons be like? Will our modern civilization ever fall like civilizations from past eras? This isn’t academic history (and Carlin isn’t a historian) but the podcast’s unique blend of high drama, masterful narration and Twilight Zone-style twists has entertained millions of listeners.

The Daily

This moment demands an explanation. This show is on a mission to find it. Only what you want to know, none of what you don’t. Hosted by Michael Barbaro. Powered by New York Times journalism. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, ready by 6 a.m.

Philosophy: The Classics

Author Nigel Warburton reads from his book Philosophy: The Classics which is an introduction to 27 key works in the history of Philosophy.

Fresh Air

Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio’s most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today’s biggest luminaries.

Freakanomics Radio

Have fun discovering the hidden side of everything with host Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of the best-selling “Freakonomics” books. Each week, hear surprising conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature—from cheating and crime to parenting and sports. Dubner talks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, social scientists and entrepreneurs — and his “Freakonomics” co-author Steve Levitt. After just a few episodes, this podcast will have you too thinking like a Freak. Produced by WNYC Studios, home of other great podcasts such as “Radiolab,” “Death, Sex & Money,” and “On the Media.”

Find your strengths Twin

The guys at   Releasing Strengths are aiming to connect you with someone who shares your top 5. The odds are slim:

We are all pretty unique, however some people share the same Top 5 themes. The chances of two people having the same Top 5 themes is 1 in 278,256. Even more incredible, two people having the same Top 5 themes in the same order is 1 in 33 million. (33,390,720).

And yet they have already connected 22 sets of Strengths Twins, 1 set of Triplets and 1 group of Quads in only 660 registrations. It is interesting the frequency of those filling in the form: 

Perseverance: Podcasts worth listening to

I love podcasts. I have been stumbling on some wonderful episode directly related to the concept of Strengthsmining. Today, I share a few dealing with perseverance. Identified as one of 24 character strengths, I don’t anyone questions the value of sticking to something. Angela Lee Duckworth quantified this in her work on Grit. With the release of her book, she has shown up on several podcasts like The Art of Charm. She covers

  • Why we shouldn’t label others as talented.
  • Why our potential is one thing — and what we do with it is another.
  • How to focus on high-level goals.
  • When to give up — and when to be stubborn.
  • How to grow our grit and perseverance.
  • And so much more…

And The Mastery Podcast, she covers

  • The value of process vs. outcome
  • How she first came to value grit
  • Her definition of grit
  • Impact of self-control on grit
  • The differences between achievement and mastery
  • Sunk-cost fallacy
  • Setting a goal at the right level
  • Is passion or perseverance harder?
  • The 3 kinds of character that are most important

And Freakanomics Radio

Scott Barry Kaufman interviews Caroline Miller on her New Book, Getting Grit. Caroline’s work feels more actionable than Angela’s as you hear this podcast.

Grit is not without some controversy: NPR highlighted some on The Hidden Brain in an episode called “The Power And Problem Of Grit”

But other research has also pointed to a potential downside to grit. Like stubborness, too much grit can keep us sticking to goals, ideas, or relationships that should be abandoned. Psychologist Gale Lucas and her colleagues found in one experiment that gritty individuals will persist in trying to solve unsolvable puzzles at a financial cost. And that’s a limitation of grit: it doesn’t give you insight into when it will help you prevail and when it will keep you stuck in a dead-end.