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    The Art of Manliness

    The Art of Manliness Podcast aims to deepen and improve every area of a man's life, from fitness and philosophy, to relationships and productivity. Engaging and edifying interviews with some of the world's most interesting doers and thinkers drop the fluff and filler to glean guests' very best, potentially life-changing, insights.
    enThe Art of Manliness1017 Episodes

    Episodes (1017)

    The Power of Everyday Rituals to Shape and Enhance Our Lives

    The Power of Everyday Rituals to Shape and Enhance Our Lives

    When we think of rituals, we tend to think of big, inherited, more occasional religious or cultural ceremonies like church services, holidays, weddings, and funerals. But as my guest observes, we also engage in small, self-made, everyday rituals that help us turn life's more mundane moments into more meaningful ones.

    In the The Ritual Effect: From Habit to Ritual, Harness the Surprising Power of Everyday Actions, psychologist and Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton explores the way our DIY rituals shape, and enhance, our lives. We take up that survey on today's show. Michael explains the difference between a habit and a ritual and how individuals and families create unique "ritual signatures" even within more standard rituals like holidays. We discuss the different areas of life in which rituals show up and what they do for us, including how they help us cope with uncertainty, savor life, and connect to the past. We get into the function DIY rituals perform in romantic relationships, from deepening intimacy to facilitating a break-up, the role that "kinkeepers" play in keeping a family together, the tricky business of combining family traditions when people get married, how to know when a family tradition should be retired, and much more.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enApril 10, 2024

    Walden on Wheels — A Man, a Debt, and an American Adventure

    Walden on Wheels — A Man, a Debt, and an American Adventure

    Millions of young adults know what it's like to graduate from college with student debt. For some, it's a frustrating annoyance. For others, it's a worry-inducing burden. For Ken Ilgunas, it was a dragon in need of slaying and a pathway to adventure.

    Ken is the author of Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom, and today on the show, he shares the story of how his quest to erase his debt led him to the Arctic Circle and through the peaks and valleys of living a totally unshackled life. Ken explains why he went to Alaska to work as a truckstop burger flipper and park ranger to pay off his student debt, what it's like to hitchhike across the country, how reading Thoreau's Walden got him questioning how we live our lives, and how that inspiration led him to living in his van while attending grad school at Duke. Along the way, Ken shares his meditations on nonconformity, engaging in romantic pursuits, and the benefits of both de-institutionalizing and re-institutionalizing your life.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enApril 08, 2024

    How to Create a Distraction-Free Phone

    How to Create a Distraction-Free Phone

    Jake Knapp loves tech. He grew up using Apple II and then Mac computers, browsing bulletin boards, and making his own games. As an adult, he worked at Microsoft on the Encarta CD-ROM, before being hired by Google, where he worked on Gmail, co-founded Google Meet, and created Google Ventures' Design Sprint process. Today, he's a venture capitalist and consultant for start-ups, as well as a writer.

    But, if Jake was an early adopter and booster of the upsides of technology, he was also early in sensing its not-so-positive side effects. Twelve years ago, unhappy with the pull his smartphone was exerting on him, he decided to curb its distractions. He continues to use this distraction-free phone today.

    Today on the show, I talk to Jake about what motivated him to change his relationship with his phone over a decade ago and what steps he took to do so, including how and why he lives life without a web browser or email app on his phone. We get into what realizations about work and life Jake's gotten from having a distraction-free phone, why he doesn't think using tools like Screen Time or a dumbphone are always the best solutions to reducing the phone itch, and how he also cuts down on distractions on his desktop computer.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enApril 03, 2024

    Want to Be Happy? Give Yourself Reasons to Admire Yourself

    Want to Be Happy? Give Yourself Reasons to Admire Yourself

    Happiness and depression can feel like slippery and befuddling things. We can do the things we've been told will make us happy, while still not feeling satisfied. Or, on paper, our lives can look great, yet we feel depressed. And the advice that's out there about these states doesn't always seem to correspond to our lived experience.

    Ryan Bush has created a new map he thinks can help us make better sense of life. Ryan is a systems designer with a long-standing interest in psychology and philosophy, the founder of Designing the Mind, a self-development organization, and an author. His latest book is Become Who You Are: A New Theory of Self-Esteem, Human Greatness, and the Opposite of Depression. Today on the show, Ryan explains the two dimensions along which we usually plot our happiness, and what he thinks is the missing third dimension: virtue or admirability. Ryan then unpacks his "virtue self-signaling theory" which he thinks can heighten happiness and reduce depression, and which is premised on the idea that if you want to live a flourishing life, you have to give yourself reasons to admire yourself. I really think this is a valuable idea that everyone can get something from and recommend listening through.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enApril 01, 2024

    Tips From a Hostage Negotiator on Handling Difficult Conversations

    Tips From a Hostage Negotiator on Handling Difficult Conversations

    In resolving hundreds of kidnap-for-ransom cases involving gang leaders, pirates, and extortionists, Scott Walker, a former Scotland Yard detective, has learned a thing or two about how to negotiate and communicate in a crisis. He shares how to apply those lessons to the difficult conversations we all have in our everyday lives in his book Order Out of Chaos: Win Every Negotiation, Thrive in Adversity, and Become a World-Class Communicator, and we talk about his tips on today's show.

    Scott and I discuss what a "red center" means in a kidnap-for-ransom scenario and how to create one in your personal life, the "immediate action drill" that can help you stay in that red center, the importance of separating the decision-maker from the communicator in a negotiation and having a "battle rhythm," why you don't give hostage takers the money they ask for right away and how to structure a negotiation instead, and more.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enMarch 27, 2024

    Lessons in Action, Agency, and Purpose From Buying a Ghost Town

    Lessons in Action, Agency, and Purpose From Buying a Ghost Town

    In the 19th century, Cerro Gordo, which sits above Death Valley, was the largest silver mine in America, a place where dreamers came to strike it rich. In the 21st century, Brent Underwood used his life savings to buy what had become an abandoned ghost town, and ended up finding a very different kind of wealth there.

    Brent has spent four years living in Cerro Gordo and has documented the details of the mines he’s explored, the artifacts he’s found, and how he’s restoring the town on his popular YouTube channel, Ghost Town Living. Now, in a book by the same name, he takes a wider-view lens on his adventures there and shares the big lessons he’s learned from his experiences and from the original residents of Cerro Gordo. We get into some of those lessons on today’s show. We first talk about how and why Brent bought a ghost town as a way of escaping a typical 9-5 life and finding a deeper longer-term purpose. We then discuss what restoring Cerro Gordo has taught him about the necessity of getting started and taking real action, how learning the context of what you do can add greater meaning to it, the importance of understanding the long-term consequences of short-term thinking, the satisfactions that come with being a high-agency person, and more.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enMarch 25, 2024

    Get More Done With the Power of Timeboxing

    Get More Done With the Power of Timeboxing

    From work to chores to entertaining distractions, there are many options for what you can be doing at any moment in the modern world. We often endlessly toggle between these options and, as a result, feel frazzled and frustratingly unproductive. We feel ever haunted by the question, "What should I be doing right now?" (Or "What am I even doing right now?")

    My guest will share a simple but effective productivity method that will quash this feeling of overwhelm, answer that question, and help you make much better use of your time. Marc Zao-Sanders is the CEO and co-founder of filtered.com, a learning tech company, and the author of Timeboxing: The Power of Doing One Thing at a Time. In the first half of our conversation, we unpack what timeboxing — which brings your calendar and to-do list together — is all about and its benefits as a time management system, including how it can help you get more done, live with greater intention and freedom, and even create a log of memories. In the second half of our conversation, we get into the practicalities of timeboxing, from how to capture the to-dos that will go on your calendar to how to deal with things that might pull you away from it. We end our conversation with how you can get started with timeboxing right now and have a more focused, productive, and satisfying day tomorrow.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enMarch 20, 2024

    How to Shift Out of the Midlife Malaise

    How to Shift Out of the Midlife Malaise

    When you think about someone having a midlife crisis, you probably think of a man getting divorced, stepping out with a younger woman, and buying a sports car. But my guest today says the often jokey, mockable trope of the midlife crisis we have in our popular culture discounts the fact that the sense of dissatisfaction people can feel in their middle years is quite real, and that the questions it raises are profond, philosophical, and worth earnestly grappling with.

    His name is Kieran Setiya, and he's a professor of philosophy and the author of Midlife: A Philosophical Guide. Kieran and I first discuss what researchers have uncovered about whether the midlife crisis really exists, how it might be better described as a kind of midlife malaise, and how Kieran's own sense of life dissatisfaction began when he was only in his mid-thirties. We then explore the philosophical reframing that can help in dealing with the existential issues that the journey into midlife often raises, including feeling like you've missed out on certain possibilities and feeling regret over your mistakes and misfortunes. We also talk about how to shift out of one primary cause of the midlife malaise — the sense that your life is merely about putting out fires and checking off boxes.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enMarch 18, 2024

    The 3 Musical Geniuses Behind the Most Popular Jazz Album of All Time

    The 3 Musical Geniuses Behind the Most Popular Jazz Album of All Time

    Even if you're not very into jazz, you probably know Kind of Blue, the jazz album that's sold more copies than any other and is widely considered one of the greatest albums ever, in any genre.

    Among the sextet of musicians who played on the album, three stand out as true jazz geniuses: Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and John Coltrane. Today on the show, James Kaplan, author of 3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the Lost Empire of Cool, unpacks the stories behind these towering figures. We discuss their background, their demons, their passion for musical greatness, and what they contributed to the evolving world of jazz. And we discuss why, when they got together to record Kind of Blue, the result was the most timeless and beloved jazz album in history.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enMarch 13, 2024

    A Butler's Guide to Managing Your Household

    A Butler's Guide to Managing Your Household

    It's a tough job to manage a household. Things need to be regularly fixed, maintained, and cleaned. How do you stay on top of these tasks in order to keep your home in tip-top shape?

    My guest knows his way all around this issue and has some field-tested, insider advice to offer. Charles MacPherson spent two decades as the major-domo or chief butler of a grand household. He's also the founder of North America's only registered school for butlers and household managers and the author of several books drawn from his butlering experience, including The Butler Speaks: A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining, and the Art of Good Housekeeping.

    In the first part of our conversation, Charles charts the history of domestic service and describes why the practice of having servants like a butler and maid ebbed in the mid-20th century but has made a comeback today. We then turn to what average folks who don't have a household staff can do to better manage their homes. Charles recommends keeping something called a "butler's book" to stay on top of household schedules and maintenance checklists. We then discuss how to clean your home more logically and efficiently. Charles shares his golden rules of house cleaning, the cleaning task you've probably neglected (hint: go take a look at the side of the door on your dishwasher), his surprising choice for the best product to use to clean your shower, how often you should change your bedsheets, and much more.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enMarch 11, 2024

    Down With Pseudo-Productivity: Why We Need to Transform the Way We Work

    Down With Pseudo-Productivity: Why We Need to Transform the Way We Work

    The last several years have seen the rise of a sort of anti-productivity movement. Knowledge workers who feel burned out and that work is pointless, meaningless, and grinding, have been talking more about opting out, “quiet quitting,” and doing nothing.

    My guest would argue that, in fact, productivity itself isn’t the problem and that most people actually want to do good work. Instead, he says, it’s our whole approach to productivity that’s broken and needs to be transformed.

    Cal Newport is a professor of computer science and the author of books like Deep Work and Digital Minimalism. His latest book is Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout. Today on the show, Cal explains what’s led to the rise of what he calls “pseudo-productivity” and the fallout when we apply the structures of the industrial revolution to modern work. He then unpacks the tenets and tactics of the “slow productivity” approach to work, and how to implement them whether you work for yourself or for a boss. We discuss why you need to do fewer things in the short-term to do more things in the long term, the artificiality of working at the same intensity every day and how to inject more seasonality in your work, the role quiet quitting can play in achieving greater balance, and many other ideas on how to make modern work more sustainable, humane, and fruitful.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enMarch 06, 2024

    The 5 Factors for Crafting Simple (Read: Effective!) Messages

    The 5 Factors for Crafting Simple (Read: Effective!) Messages

    Whether you’re a teacher, parent, or entrepreneur, you want to be able to persuade your students, children, and customers with your messages. That’s a tall task in the modern age, when people are bombarded with 13 hours of media a day. How do you cut through all that noise to make sure you’re heard? My guest would say it’s all about keeping things simple.

    Ben Guttmann is a marketing educator and consultant who’s helped promote everything from the NFL to New York Times-bestselling authors. He is himself the author of Simply Put: Why Clear Messages Win—and How to Design Them. Today on the show, Ben explains the gap between how people like to receive messages and the self-sabotaging, complication-introducing ways people tend to send them. We then talk about the five factors of effective marketing that anyone can use to close this gap and craft simple, effective, influential messages. We discuss why you should highlight something’s benefits rather than its features, the question to ask to figure out what those benefits are, how to replace “and” with “so” to create more focused messages, how the fad of using the F-word in book titles shows the transience of salience, how to make your message minimal by imagining it as a Jenga tower and how minimal isn’t the same thing as short, and much more, including Ben’s most immediately actionable tip for crafting better, simpler messages.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enMarch 04, 2024

    The Misconceptions of HIIT (And the Role It Can Play in Your Fitness Routine)

    The Misconceptions of HIIT (And the Role It Can Play in Your Fitness Routine)

    You've probably heard of HIIT — high intensity interval training. In fact, you may feel so familiar with the idea that you think you understand it. But do you?

    People often hold some popular misconceptions about HIIT, and today we'll unpack what some of those are with Dr. Martin Gibala, a foremost researcher of this fitness modality and the author of The One-Minute Workout: Science Shows a Way to Get Fit That's Smarter, Faster, Shorter. Martin explains the main, underappreciated advantage of HIIT, which revolves around the "intensity-duration trade-off": the higher intensity you make exercise, the shorter your workouts can be while still triggering improvements in metabolism, cardiovascular health, and mitochondrial capacity. We get into the fact that the intensity of HIIT needn't be as high as you might think and that, contrary to popular belief, sprinting at intervals is actually a predominantly aerobic rather than anaerobic workout. Martin answers questions like whether Zone 2 cardio has an advantage over HIIT, if the so-called "afterburn effect" of HIIT is real, if you can do HIIT if you're older or have heart problems, and whether you should worry about the way HIIT can raise cortisol in the body. He also shares specific HIIT workouts you can do, including a walking interval workout and one of the best higher-intensity protocols to try.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enFebruary 28, 2024

    The Making of a Stoic Emperor

    The Making of a Stoic Emperor

    Perhaps you've read Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, a book many turn to to learn and internalize the teachings of Stoic philosophy. But what do you know of the man who penned that seminal text?

    Here to help us get to know the philosopher and ruler is Donald Robertson, a cognitive-behavior psychotherapist and the author of Marcus Aurelius: The Stoic Emperor. Drawing on the Meditations, three ancient histories about Marcus' life and character, and a cache of private letters between him and his rhetoric tutor, Donald unpacks how Marcus' life shaped his approach to Stoicism, and how Stoicism shaped him. We discuss Marcus' childhood and influences, his idea of manliness, the surprising significance of who he does and doesn't mention in the Meditations, and how he used that journal as a kind of father figure. We also discuss how Marcus may have undergone training modeled on the Spartan agoge, how he came to attention as a successor to the emperorship, how he got turned on to Stoicism as medicine for the soul, and how he used the philosophy to deal with his tumultuous rule.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enFebruary 26, 2024

    The Secrets of Supercommunicators

    The Secrets of Supercommunicators

    Have you ever known one of those people who seemed to be able to connect with anyone? The kind of person who had the ability to make others feel understood and smoothly navigate even the trickiest of conversations?

    Charles Duhigg calls these folks "supercommunicators," and he's the author of a new book by the same name. Today on the show, Charles explains that what underlies supercommunicators' skill in connection is something called the matching principle, and he unpacks how it works and how you can put it to use in your own conversations. We discuss several techniques for how to figure out what kind of conversation you're having, so you can align your language and energy with the other person. And because emotional conversations can be particularly difficult, we dig into tactics for successfully navigating them, even when they contain a high degree of conflict. We also get into how to carry the skills of connection into your digital conversations.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enFebruary 21, 2024

    7 Journaling Techniques That Can Change Your Life

    7 Journaling Techniques That Can Change Your Life

    In my twenties and early thirties, I was a regular journaler. Several years ago, however, I stopped journaling almost entirely because I wasn’t getting anything out of it anymore. But my guest has helped me see that my problem wasn’t with journaling itself, but that I had gotten into a journaling rut, and he’s introduced me to some new ways to journal that have inspired me to get back into the practice. 

    Campbell Walker is an illustrator, animator, podcaster, and YouTuber, as well as the author of Your Head is a Houseboat: A Chaotic Guide to Mental Clarity. Today on the show, Cam shares how journaling transformed his life and what it can do for yours. We discuss why it’s helpful to do a journaling brain dump and how to then move beyond that to incorporate different techniques that will help you get greater insight into the problems you’re facing and how to solve them. We unpack those techniques, which include how to journal to break mindset, conduct a lifestyle and habits audit, and quell anxiety. We also talk about an experiment Cam did where he only used the social media apps on his phone when he was posting something, and every time he got the itch to check social media for fun, he engaged in something he calls “microjournaling” instead. We end our conversation with how Cam’s journaling changed after he became a dad and his tips on making journaling a consistent habit in your life.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enFebruary 19, 2024

    Busting the Myths of Marriage — Why Getting Hitched Still Matters

    Busting the Myths of Marriage — Why Getting Hitched Still Matters

    The marriage rate has come down 65% since 1970. There are multiple factors behind this decrease, but one of them is what we might call the poor branding that surrounds marriage in the modern day. From all corners of our culture and from both ends of the ideological spectrum come messages that marriage is an outdated institution, that it hinders financial success and personal fulfillment, and that it's even unimportant when it comes to raising kids.

    My guest would say that these ideas about marriage are very wrong, and he doesn't come at it from an emotionally-driven perspective, but from what's born out by the data. Dr. Brad Wilcox is a sociologist who heads the nonpartisan National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, which studies marriage and family life. He's also the author of Get Married. Today on the show, Brad discusses the latest research on marriage and how it belies the common narratives around the institution. We dig into the popular myths around marriage, and how it not only boosts your finances, but predicts happiness in life better than any other factor. Brad also shares the five pillars of marriage that happy couples embrace.

    Resources Related to the Podcast

    AoM Podcast #946: Counterintuitive Ideas About Marriage, Family, and Kids

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    The Art of Manliness
    enFebruary 14, 2024

    Chasing Shackleton — Re-creating the World’s Greatest Journey of Survival

    Chasing Shackleton — Re-creating the World’s Greatest Journey of Survival

    If you’ve ever read the classic book Endurance, you probably shivered and shuddered as you wondered what it would have been like to have undertaken Ernest Shackleton’s famously arduous Antarctic rescue mission.

    The adventurer Tim Jarvis did more than wonder. When Alexandra Shackleton challenged him to re-create her grandfather’s epic journey, he jumped at the chance to follow in the legendary explorer’s footsteps.

    Today on the show, Tim, the author of Chasing Shackleton: Re-creating the World’s Greatest Journey of Survival, first shares the story of Shackleton’s heroic effort to save the crew of his failed Antarctic expedition. Tim then tells us how he and his own crew replicated Shackleton’s journey over land and sea, from taking the same kind of rowboat to eating the same kind of rations — and the lessons in resilience and leadership he learned along the way.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enFebruary 12, 2024

    Night Visions — Understand and Get More Out of Your Dreams

    Night Visions — Understand and Get More Out of Your Dreams

    When you really stop to think about it, it’s an astonishing fact that we spend a third of our lives asleep. And part of that time, we’re dreaming. What goes on during this unconscious state that consumes so much of our lives, and how can we use our dreams to improve our waking hours?

    Here to unpack the mysterious world of dreams is Alice Robb, the author of Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey. Today on the show, Alice first shares some background on the nature of dreams, why their content is often stress-inducing, and how they can influence our waking hours, from impacting our emotional health to helping us be more creative. We then turn to how to get more out of our dreams, including the benefits of keeping a dream journal and talking about your dreams with others. We also get into the world of lucid dreaming and some tips for how you can start controlling your dreams.

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    The Art of Manliness
    enFebruary 07, 2024

    Shakespeare on How Leaders Rise, Rule, and Fall

    Shakespeare on How Leaders Rise, Rule, and Fall

    When people think of the plays of Shakespeare, they tend to think of his comedies and tragedies that spotlight interpersonal dynamics like love and jealousy, pretense and reality. But my guest would say that many of Shakepeare's plays, especially his sometimes overlooked histories, are also unmatchable in revealing the dynamics of power.

    Eliot Cohen is a military historian, political scientist, professor of international studies, and former State Department counselor, as well as the author of The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare on How Leaders Rise, Rule, and Fall. Today on the show Eliot takes us through what Shakepeare's plays can teach us about navigating the three-part arc of power: acquiring power, exercising power, and losing power. Along the way, we discuss how these lessons in leadership played out in the lives of real-life historical figures as well.

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    Podcast: The hollow crown Shakespeare on how leaders rise, rule, and fall.
    The Art of Manliness
    enFebruary 05, 2024