The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish

By Farnam Street

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Description

The Knowledge Project takes you inside the heads of remarkable people to explore the frameworks and mental models you can use to make life more meaningful and productive. Learn more at https://fs.blog

Episode Date
Learning How to Suffer
01:09:11

Since the popularity of Obstacle Course Racing, or OCR, has exploded onto the scene, there has been one woman who has dominated the sport: Amelia Boone.

Amelia ran her first race in 2011 after some prodding from a co-worker, and though she says she stumbled her way to an unimpressive finish, she was smitten. She has since amassed over  50 podiums and two dozen victories, including the Spartan Race World Championship in 2013, and the World's Toughest Mudder (three times!) in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

Oh, and her 2014 victory came just eight weeks after major knee surgery.

Though she vehemently denies it, Amelia is superhuman.

This interview is a little different than others you may have heard on The Knowledge Project but no less fascinating.

We cover a wide variety of topics including habits, reading, self-reliance, and training.

Specifically, you’ll learn:

  • Why Amelia was drawn to obstacle racing even though running was something she despised
  • The complementary connection between her sport and her professional work and how racing has made her a more effective attorney
  • How Amelia fights physical and mental fatigue when most people quit (she even shares a story of how she dealt with a vacant support station halfway through a 100 mile race)
  • What she does to develop grit and resilience so she knows she can rely on herself when things get rough
  • Amelia’s “to-do list” trick that makes sure she’s productive — you’ll want to steal this
  • How a serious injury taught Amelia some of her most powerful lessons about who she is and what’s important to her
  • What Amelia’s parents did to teach her to be self-sufficient from a very young age
  • How she learned to deal with setbacks, and how careful she is with the language she uses when she speaks to herself when things go wrong
  • Why Amelia runs with a Sharpie and the same playlist she’s listened to for the past 5 years
  • How Amelia transformed herself from a casual weekend warrior to one of the most finely tuned athletes in the world

Whether you’re an athlete, a weekend jogger, or the only exercise you get is the leisure stroll from the couch to the refrigerator, there are lots of insights and plenty of inspiration waiting for you in this interview.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

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Jun 13, 2018
The Truth About Lies
56:34

On this episode of the Knowledge Project, I’m joined by the fascinating Dan Ariely. Dan just about does it all. He has delivered 6 TED talks with a combined 20 million views, he’s a multiple New York Times best-selling author, a widely published researcher, and the James B Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University.

For the better part of three decades, Dan has been immersed in researching why humans do some of the silly, irrational things we do. And yes, as much as we’d all like to be exempt, that includes you too.

In this captivating interview, we tackle a lot of interesting topics, including:

  • The three types of decisions that control our life and how understanding our biases can help us make smarter decisions
  • How our environment plays a big role in our decision making and the small changes we can make to automatically improve our outcomes
  • The “behavioural driven” bathroom scale Dan has been working on to revolutionize weight loss
  • Which of our irrational behaviors transfer across cultures and which ones are unique to certain parts of the world (for example, find out which country is the most honest)
  • The dishonesty spectrum and why we as humans insist on flirting with the line between “honest” and “dishonest”
  • 3 sneaky mental tricks Dan uses to avoid making ego-driven decisions
  • “Pluralistic ignorance” and how it dangerously affects our actions and inactions (As a bonus, Dan shares the hilarious way he demonstrates this concept to his students on their first day of class)
  • The rule Dan created specifically for people with spinach in their teeth
  • The difference between habits, rules, and rituals, and why they are critical to shaping us into who we want to be

This was a riveting discussion and one that easily could have gone for hours. If you’ve ever wondered how you’d respond in any of these eye-opening experiments, you have to listen to this interview. If you’re anything like me, you’ll learn something new about yourself, whether you want to or not.  

Enjoy!

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

Upgrade your thinking with my free weekly email digest. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet)

May 25, 2018
Earning Your Stripes
01:49:33

On this episode of the Knowledge Project Podcast, I chat with Patrick Collison, co-founder and CEO of the leading online payment processing company, Stripe. If you’ve purchased anything online recently, there’s a good chance that Stripe facilitated the transaction.

What is now an organization with over a thousand employees and handling tens of billions of dollars of online purchases every year, began as a small side experiment while Patrick and his brother John were going to college.  

During our conversation, Patrick shares the details of their unlikely journey and some of the hard-earned wisdom he picked up along the way. I hope you have something handy to write with because the nuggets per minute in this episode are off the charts. Patrick was so open and generous with his responses that I’m really excited for you to hear what he has to say.

Here are just a few of the things we cover:

  • The biggest (and most valuable) mistakes Patrick made in the early days of Stripe and how they helped him get better
  • The characteristics that Patrick looks for in a new hire to fit and contribute to the Stripe company culture
  • What compelled he and his brother to move forward with the early concept of Stripe, even though on paper it was doomed to fail from the start
  • The gaps Patrick saw in the market that dozens of other processing companies were missing — and how he capitalized on them
  • The lessons Patrick learned from scaling Stripe from two employees (he and his brother) to nearly 1,000 today
  • How he evaluates the upsides and potential dangers of speculative positions within the company
  • How his Irish upbringing influenced his ability to argue and disagree without taking offense (and how we can all be a little more “Irish”)
  • The power of finding the right peer group in your social and professional circles and how impactful and influential it can be in determining where you end up.
  • The 4 ways Patrick has modified his decision making process over the last 5 years and how it’s helped him develop as a person and as a business leader (this part alone is worth the listen)
  • Patrick’s unique approach to books and how he chooses what he’s going to spend his time reading

...life in Silicon Valley, Baumol’s cost disease, and so, so much more.

Patrick truly is one of the most warm, humble and down to earth people I’ve had the pleasure to speak with and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation together. I hope you will too!

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

My free weekly Brain Food digest helps you upgrade your thinking. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet)

May 02, 2018
Learning How to Learn
01:33:38

Just when I start to think I’m using my time well and getting a lot done in my life, I meet someone like Barbara Oakley.

Barbara is a true polymath. She was a captain in the U.S. Army, a Russian translator on Soviet trawlers, a radio operator in the South Pole, an engineer, university professor, researcher and the author of 8 books.

Oh, and she is also the creator and instructor of Learning to Learn, the most popular Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) ever(!), with over one million enrolled students.

In this fascinating interview, we cover many aspects of learning, including how to make it stick so we remember more and forget less, how to be more efficient so we learn more quickly, and how to remove that barriers that get in the way of effective learning.

Specifically, Barbara covers:

  • How she changed her brain from hating math and science to loving it so much she now teaches engineering to college students
  • What neuroscience can tell us about how to learn more effectively
  • The two modes of your brain and how that impacts what and how you learn
  • Why backing off can sometimes be the best thing you can do when learning something new
  • How to “chunk” your learning so new knowledge is woven into prior knowledge making it easily accessible
  • The best ways to develop new patterns of learning in our brains
  • How to practice a skill so you can blast through plateaus and improve more quickly
  • Her favorite tactic for dealing with procrastination so you can spend more time learning
  • The activities she recommends that rapidly increase neural connections like fertilizer on the brain
  • Whether memorization has a place in learning anymore, or simply a barrier to true understanding
  • The truth about “learning types” and how identifying as a visual or auditory learner might be setting yourself up for failure.

...and a whole lot more.

If you want to be the most efficient learner you can be, and have more fun doing it, you won’t want to miss this discussion.

 

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

My free weekly Brain Food digest helps you get better results through intelligent preparation and offers great reading recommendations. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FarnamStreet/) to go to bed smarter than you woke up. 

Apr 10, 2018
Collaboration and Competition
01:16:38

Today, I’m joined by speaker, international executive and five-time author Margaret Heffernan. We discuss how to get the most out of our people, creating a thriving culture of trust and collaboration, and how to prevent potentially devastating “willful blindness.”

***

As former CEO of five successful businesses, Margaret Heffernan has been on the front lines observing the very human tendencies (selective blindness, conflict avoidance, and self sabotage to name a few) that cause managers and sometimes entire organizations to go astray.

She has since written five books and has spoken all over the world to warn, educate and instruct leaders to not only be aware of these tendencies, but how to weed them out of our companies, our business, and even our relationships.

In this conversation, we discuss many of the concepts she shares in her books, namely:

  • How to tap into the collective knowledge of your organization so problems are solved quickly, efficiently, and cooperatively.
  • The strange experiment Margaret ran to build “social capital” in one of her early businesses that transformed the way her employees treated and interacted with each other
  • How to build a culture that doesn’t create in-fighting and unhealthy competition within your organization, and how many companies today are missing the mark
  • One simple thing you can do as a leader to increase the buy-in, productivity and overall satisfaction of your team members (and it takes less than 30 seconds to do.)
  • The dangers of binary thinking and how Margaret catches herself from oversimplifying a situation.
  • Why arguing may be one of the purest forms of collaboration — and how to do it correctly.
  • How to identify the environment and context where you do your best work and how to best replicate it.
  • How “willful blindness” has caused catastrophic disasters in business, professional and personal relationships, and what we can do to avoid being another statistic
  • The wonderful advice Margaret gave to her kids when it came to choosing a career path

And much more.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

My free weekly Brain Food digest helps you get better results through intelligent preparation and offers great reading recommendations. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FarnamStreet/) to go to bed smarter than you woke up. 

Mar 13, 2018
Survival of the Kindest
01:19:58

When Pixar was dreaming up the idea for Inside Out, a film that would explore the roiling emotions inside the head of a young girl, they needed guidance from an expert. So they called Dacher Keltner.

Dacher is a psychologist at UC Berkeley who has dedicated his career to understanding how human emotion shapes the way we interact with the world, how we properly manage difficult or stressful situations, and ultimately, how we treat one another.

In fact, he refers to emotions as the “language of social living.” The more fluent we are in this language, the happier and more meaningful our lives can be.

We tackle a wide variety of topics in this conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

You’ll learn:

  • The three main drivers that determine your personal happiness and life satisfaction
  • Simple things you can do everyday to jumpstart the “feel good” reward center of your brain
  • The principle of “jen” and how we can use “high-jen behaviors” to bootstrap our own happiness
  • How to have more positive influence in our homes, at work and in our communities.
  • How to teach your kids to be more kind and empathetic in an increasingly self-centered world
  • What you can do to stay grounded and humble if you are in a position of power or authority
  • How to catch our own biases when we’re overly critical of another’s ideas (or overconfident in our own)

And much more. We could have spent an hour discussing any one of these points alone, but there was so much I wanted to cover. I’m certain you’ll find this episode well worth your time.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

My free weekly Brain Food digest helps you get better results through intelligent preparation and offers great reading recommendations. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FarnamStreet/) to go to bed smarter than you woke up. 

Feb 21, 2018
A Decision Making Jedi
01:16:47

Michael Mauboussin returns for a fascinating encore interview on the Knowledge Project. We geek out on decision making, luck vs. skill, work life balance, and so much more.

***

Michael Mauboussin is back as a returning guest on the Knowledge Project!

He was actually the very first guest on the podcast when it was still very much an experiment. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to continue with the show. (If you missed his last interview, you can listen to it here, or if you’re a member of The Learning Community, you can download a transcript.)

Michael is one of my very favorite people to talk to, and I couldn’t wait to pick up right where we left off.

In this interview, Michael and I dive deep into some of the topics we care most about here at Farnam Street, including:

  • The concept of “base rates” and how they can help us make far better decisions and avoid the pain and consequences of making poor choices.
  • How to know where you land on the luck/skill continuum and why it matters
  • Michael’s advice on creating a systematic decision-making process in your organization to improve outcomes.
  • The two most important elements of any decision-making process
  • How to train your intuition to be one of your most powerful assets instead of a dangerous liability
  • The three tests Michael uses in his company to determine the health and financial stability of his environment
  • Why “algorithm aversion” is creating such headaches in many organizations and how to help your teams overcome it, so you can make more rapid progress
  • The most impactful books that he’s read since we last spoke, is reading habits, and the strategies he uses to get the most of every book
  • The importance of sleep in Michael's’ life to make sure his body and mind are running at peak efficiency
  • His greatest failures and what he learned from them
  • How Michael and his wife raised their kids and the unique parenting style they adopted
  • How Michael defines happiness and the decisions he makes to maximize the joy in his life

Any one of those insights alone is worth a listen, so I think you’re really going to enjoy this interview.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

Our free weekly email, Brain Food, helps you get better results through intelligent preparation and offers great reading recommendations. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FarnamStreet/) to go to bed smarter than you woke up. 

Jan 23, 2018
The Art of Letting Other People Have Your Way
01:22:25

In this episode, we get negotiation coaching from Chris Voss, former lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI.

***

Whether you’re buying a car, requesting a raise at work, or just deciding where to eat out with your spouse or partner, your negotiating skills will determine how pleased you are with the outcome.

Today, we have the special opportunity to learn some of the most effective tactics and strategies from a true master, Chris Voss.

Chris is the former lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI and author of the excellent book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As Though Your Life Depended On It.

In this fascinating conversation, Chris shares how you can use the same techniques that have been field tested in some of the most high-stakes, pressure cooker situations, in your daily life.

If you want to become a better haggler, a better communicator, or a better listener, don’t miss this episode. It’s packed with actionable insights you can start using today to be more persuasive and grab hold of more of what you want in life.

Here are just a few things we cover:

  • What it really takes to be great at negotiating (most people approach it all wrong)
  • How to keep your emotions in check in a negotiation
  • The three different voices you use to connect with your counterpart and put them at ease
  • How many of us “take ourselves hostage” in a negotiation and ruin it before it starts
  • The biggest time-waster (and profit-killer) that plagues so many negotiations
  • The main problems with traditional negotiation techniques (BATNA etc) and how they’re leaving lots on the table
  • The “negotiation one-sheet” Chris uses before entering into any negotiation (and how you can use it to)
  • How to use an “accusations audit” when you’re structuring winning deals (this is brilliant)
  • One technique to get your counterpart to spill their guts when they’re trying to be tight-lipped. “Prospect theory” and how to use it to your advantage
  • Maximizing employee satisfaction in the hiring process so you get the best talent...and keep them!
  • How empathy saves time and makes you more likely to get what you want in a negotiation
  • The power of deference (and when to use it)
  • Chris’ go to tools that work best on all personality types, in nearly any situation
  • How intentionally getting the other party to say “no” substantially increases the success rate of a negotiation

And much more.

An edited transcript is available to members of the Farnam Street Learning Community or for purchase separately ($9).

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

Our free weekly email, Brain Food, helps you get better results through intelligent preparation and offers great reading recommendations. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FarnamStreet/) to go to bed smarter than you woke up. 

Jan 03, 2018
Improving The Questions You Ask
01:22:36
The quality of your outcome depends on the quality of your questions.

Through asking the right questions we can spark innovation and creativity, gain deeper knowledge in the topics that are most important to us, and propel us forward in our personal and professional pursuits.

Yet very few of us do it well — if we do it at all.

My guest on the podcast today is Warren Berger — journalist, speaker, best selling author, and self-proclaimed questionologist.

His insightful book A More Beautiful Question shows how the world’s leading innovators, education leaders, creative thinkers, and red-hot start-ups ask game-changing questions to nurture creativity, solve problems, and create new possibilities.

In this episode, we discuss the importance of asking the right questions, why they’re critical to your success, and how you may be one great question away from a major breakthrough.

You’ll also learn:

  • How Warren manages the constant input and stimulation from online consumption when it’s time to create.
  • The small habits that pack the biggest punch and make the most difference in Warren’s life
  • What makes a question more or less effective
  • How to create a culture where questions are welcome and encouraged
  • Why answering all your kids’ questions may be doing them a disservice — and what to do instead
  • What “collaborative inquiry” is and how to use it to get the most out of your teams in the workplace
  • How Warren transformed one of his most painful failures into one of his most proud achievements
  • Why Warren insists that everyone is creative, and what we can do to fan the flames of our own creativity

If you think you could improve the quality (and frequency) of your questions to enhance key areas of your life, this is not a conversation you’ll want to miss.

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

Our free weekly email, Brain Food, helps you get better results through intelligent preparation and offers great reading recommendations. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FarnamStreet/) to go to bed smarter than you woke up. 

Dec 14, 2017
Is Sugar Slowly Killing Us?
01:43:35

It seems that nowadays, aside from religion and politics, one of the most hotly debated topics is that of nutrition.

Should we eat high carb diets? Low carb? High fat? High protein? What about wheat or gluten? Should we eat meat or adopt a vegan diet?

There are as many opinions as there are people — and books, magazines and websites are overflowing with information showing you the “right” way to eat and exercise to lose weight.

But if “eating less and moving more” is all it takes to lose weight and enjoy a healthy lifestyle, why are so many of us fat and getting fatter?

In this episode, I chat with Gary Taubes, bestselling author of three books, The Case Against Sugar (2016), Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It (2011) and Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007).

We talk about the sharp rise of obesity and diabetes in America, the structural hurdles to effective nutrition research, and explore the common myth that a calorie is just a calorie.

Here are a few other things you’ll learn in this interview:

  • How diets shifted in the last century, and what impact it’s having on our bodies today.
  • Why a carb isn’t just a carb — and why you should know the difference
  • Is the sugar industry the new Big Tobacco?
  • What role genetics play in our health, and how much is under our control
  • Why humans are so attracted to sugar and how to break the habit
  • Gary’s suggestions to improve your health, drop body fat and feel terrific
  • The benefits of fasting and how you can try it out yourself

And a bunch more.

If you think at all about your health, give this podcast a listen. 

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more episodes go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

Our free weekly email helps you get better results through intelligent preparation and offers great reading recommendations. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on twitter @farnamstreet and Facebook to go to bed smarter than you woke up. 

Nov 30, 2017
Leading the “Quiet Revolution”
56:59

For decades, introversion was looked at as something to overcome, almost like an illness. The way to win in life was through charisma, outspokenness, and self-promotion.

Even now, in an increasingly noisy world, introverts may feel added pressure to take one of two paths: force themselves into more extroverted behavior, or become even more reserved and shrink back to themselves.

My guest Susan Cain says both paths are wrong and in fact, rob the world of the unique contributions introverts make when they choose to be true to themselves.

Susan knows what she’s talking about. A self-proclaimed introvert, she wrote the New York Times bestselling book, Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking and delivered one of the most popular TED talks ever delivered, with nearly 18 million views to date.

Whether you consider yourself an extrovert, an introvert, or an ambivert (those lucky bastards in the middle) you’ll find a ton of value in this interview.

 

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode and more episodes go to https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/the-knowledge-project/

Our free weekly email helps you get better results through intelligent preparation and offers great reading recommendations. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/newsletter/

Follow Shane on twitter @farnamstreet and Facebook to go to bed smarter than you woke up. 

Nov 01, 2017
Life Lessons from a Self-Made Billionaire
01:31:25

Are you in love with your own ideas regardless of how good they are Would you like to make better decisions and fewer mistakes? Would you like to improve the most important relationships in your life?

These are just some of the topics I discuss with my guest, Ray Dalio.

Ray Dalio is the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, and is the author of the new book Principles: Life and Work. He is also a leading figure in the world of philanthropy, is an avid supporter of transcendental meditation, and has appeared on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Ray gave me over an hour and a half of his time, and I didn’t waste a minute of it. 

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode go to https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2017/10/ray-dalio/

For more episodes go to https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/the-knowledge-project/

Our free weekly email helps you get better results through intelligent preparation and offers great reading recommendations. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/newsletter/

Follow Shane on twitter @farnamstreet and facebook to go to bed smarter than you woke up. 

Oct 11, 2017
Givers, Takers, and the Resilient Mind
01:27:42

Are you a giver or a taker? Have you ever struggled to find work/life balance? How do you build resilience in yourself, your team, or your children?

I tackle these topics and many more in this interview with my special guest, Adam Grant.

In this interview, we cover a lot, including:

  • How to tell if you are a giver or a taker (Spoiler: if you just told yourself you’re a giver, you might be in for a rude awakening)
  • How Adam filters down hundreds of ideas and opportunities to the select few he focuses on
  • How to tell if your business idea is a winner or a huge waste of time
  • Why “quick to start and slow to finish” is great advice for budding entrepreneurs
  • How to nurture creativity and resilience in your children (or team culture)
  • How to create positive competitive environments that bring out the best in people
  • Adam’s two core family values and how he instills them in his children
  • “Mental time travel” and how it can make you resilient to any challenge or obstacle
  • Why “how can I be more productive” is the wrong question to ask (and what to ask instead)
  • How Adam and I each address the topic of work/life balance

And so much more.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode go to https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2017/09/adam-grant/

For more episodes go to https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/the-knowledge-project/

Our free weekly email helps you get better results through intelligent preparation and offers great reading recommendations. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/newsletter/

Follow Shane on twitter @farnamstreet and Facebook to go to bed smarter than you woke up. 

Sep 21, 2017
The Warrior Poet and the Secret to a Happy Life
01:01:21

In this wide-ranging interview physics major, philosopher, and professional heavyweight boxer Ed Latimore and Shane Parrish talk about boxing, tough love, entropy, the worst that can happen, coaching, and so much more. 

Aug 09, 2017
The Future of Transportation
59:34

Marc Garneau (@MarcGarneau) is a Canadian politician, Engineer, and the Minister of Transport. This interview was recorded live in front of an audience in Montreal. As a bilingual country, you'll hear bits of French from the audience questions here and there but the interview is predominately in English.

In this interview, we discuss the future of transportation (including self-driving cars), infrastructure investments, space, what it means to be a liberal in 2017, how we — as citizens — can judge an elected politician, how he ensures he's getting accurate information in a political system and so much more. 

Enjoy this amazing conversation.

Jul 02, 2017
The Psychology of Advertising
01:56:13

Rory Sutherland (@rorysutherland) is the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Group, which is one of the largest advertising companies in the world. 

This interview was recorded live in London, England. 

Rory started the behavioral insights team and spends his days applying behavioral economics and evolutionary psychology to solve problems that conventionally advertising agencies haven't been able to solve. 

In this wide-ranging interview we talk about: how advertising agencies are solving airport security problems, what Silicon Valley misses; how to mess with self-driving cars, reading habits, decision making, the intersection of advertising and psychology, and so much more. 

Enjoy this amazing conversation.

May 30, 2017
Angel Philosopher: Naval Ravikant on Investing, Making Decisions, Happiness and the Meaning of Life
02:00:55

Naval Ravikant (@naval) is the CEO and co-founder of AngelList. He’s invested in more than 100 companies, including Uber, Twitter, Yammer, and so many others. Don’t worry, we’re not going to talk about early stage investing. Naval’s an incredibly deep thinker who challenges the status quo on so many things. He’s thought deeply about stuff that’s near and dear to us, like reading, habits, decision-making, and life. Just a heads up, this is the longest podcast I’ve ever done. Our conversation lasted over two hours. If you’re like me, you’re going to take a lot of notes.

Enjoy this amazing conversation.

Feb 27, 2017
Aristotle Koskinas on Greek History
01:03:08

This is one of 2 interviews that I conducted while visiting Greece this summer. Greek history is deep routed in many things as philosophy, democracy and culture and has laid the foundation of so much of what we know and how we live today. Today I speak with Aristotle Koskinas (@aristotlekoskin), a guide with Athens walking tours. He's one of the best guides you can find in Athens. In order to be a guide in Greece, an individual must complete a 2½ year program at the School of Tourist Guides in Greece - which is a state school under the Ministry of Development. Some of the courses in the curriculum include Ancient Greek history, Byzantine history, Prehistoric Archaeology, Mythology, Geology, history of Theater –and psychology of the tourist. Listen in for details on the history of Athens over the past 3000 years, the influence Greek culture has had across the world, and some insight on what surprises him meeting visitors from different countries.

Jan 05, 2017
Santorini Wine with Panayiota Kalogeropoulou
29:29

The island of Santorini has not only has breathtaking views but also a fascinating history. Traces of its first inhabitants have been linked back to 4500 BC. In 1613 BC the most powerful volcanic event in the last 10,000 years took place – completely destroying all the islands within a 60 km radius. It has been estimated that 90 billion tons of molten rock was injected into the air, the sea swallowed the volcano, and a massive tsunami swept across the Aegean Sea. Along with the obvious devastation of nature, it is believed that the eruption also sealed the deal for the most civilized nation on the island at the time, the Minoans. Thanks to the thick layer of ash cause by the event, the Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri was so well preserved that we are able to see how prosperous the area had once been with an elaborate drainage systems, multi-storied buildings, incredible wall paintings, furniture and vessels. The site has as much of a significant importance as does Pompeii. The island’s main volcanic rock, its mineral rich soil, and the amazing climate, has produced some incredibly unique wines. Santorini is known for some of the oldest vineyards in the world. And we know that wine is one of my favourite topics. On today’s podcast I speak with Panayiota Kalogeropoulou about Santorini’s wines. Panayiota is the Director at the Domaine Sigalas vineyard. Paris Sigalas, a mathematician with a goal to make his Santorini vineyard a world heritage site, focuses on grapes that thrive in Santorini (these include the Aidani, Athiri, Plantana – and the prime Greek grape Assyrtiko).

Jan 05, 2017
Future-Proof Your Knowledge
46:24

Samuel Arbesman (@arbesman) is a complexity scientist whose work focuses on the nature of scientific and technological change. Sam's also written two books that I love, The Half-Life of Facts and Overcomplicated

In this episode, Sam talks about:

  • Our relationship with technology
  • Whether art or science is more fundamental to humanity
  • How he defines success for himself
  • The difference between physics thinking and biological thinking
  • Why its better to learn things that change slowly
  • And much, much more!
Nov 28, 2016
Reading, Writing, and Lifelong Learning
58:38

Morgan Housel and I talk about how he reads and why he's all kindle all the time. We also talk about the best teacher he's ever had, filtering information, and what indulgences he'd enjoy if there were no consequences. 

Oct 24, 2016
The Rise of The Machines
01:02:31

On this episode of The Knowledge Project Podcast, I am so happy to have Pedro Domingos (@pmddomingos) who is a professor at the University of Washington.

Domingos is the leading researcher in machine learning and recently wrote an amazing book calledThe Master Algorithm. I was fortunate enough to have a long and fascinating conversation with him over dinner one night that lead to the recording of this episode. I think you’re going to love it.

In this conversation we explore:

  • The three sources from which all humans obtained their knowledge for thousands of years, and how a new fourth is changing everything.
  • How AI is finding its way into every sector of our lives, and what that means for future jobs and future opportunities
  • Why white collar jobs are easier to replace than blue collar jobs and what the workforce may look like in the near future
  • How a hedge fund recently placed an algorithm as a full voting member of their board of directors
  • The difference between traditional computer science and machine learning and how it will impact technology
  • The five major schools of machine learning and how they’re revolutionizing the way computers analyze information
  • How “robot scientists” could transform the way we make medical and scientific discoveries (one recently discovered a drug for malaria)
  • How machines might compete in professional sports and serve more entertainment purposes
  • The future of self-driving cars and how humans will learn to adapt to them as the technology improves
  • Pedro’s vision of the future of AI and human’s daily interaction with AI

If you use technology in any way, you’re going to be floored by this interview. Enjoy!

Aug 30, 2016
Wine Lessons From a World Class Sommelier
01:02:10

On this episode of The Knowledge Project, I talk about one of my favorite subjects with one of the most respected sommeliers in the world: Véronique Rivest.

After placing twice in the top 12 in 2007 and 2010, Véronique became the first woman to make the podium by taking second place at the world's best sommelier competition in Tokyo in March 2013. She's also the owner of Soif in Hull, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite wine bars.

On this episode we learn:

  • How Véronique self-directed her education in wine, and the steps she took to become one of the best in the world.
  • The three traits of every sommelier (the most important one actually has nothing to do with their knowledge of wine)
  • How to properly taste wine (including an on-air tasting where Véronique guides me through the three phases of wine tasting)
  • Tips and tricks for serving wine to enhance the experience
  • The twenty-minute rule that ensures you serve perfect wine, every time
  • How to tell if a bottle has been corked and why it matters
  • The first rule of a wine tasting, no matter how much or little you know about wine
  • How to hone your sense of taste to appreciate the subtleties that each wine has to offer
  • How to host a wine tasting party that will impress your guests

If you want to impress everyone at the table the next time you’re at a restaurant with friends, listen to what Véronique has to say in this episode. You’ll be a wine expert in no time.

 

Jul 24, 2016
Media Manipulator
45:27

Ryan Holiday is the author of a number of incredible books, including Trust Me I'm LyingThe Obstacle is the Way, and Ego is the Enemy. He also runs Brass Check, a premier book marketing agency responsible for dozens of New York Times bestsellers and tens of millions of books sold. In short, Ryan is the real deal.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What Stoicism is and how it differs from many of the mainstream “philosophies” you learn about in school
  • How Dr. Drew is partially responsible for putting Ryan on the Stoic path
  • How Stoicism has helped Ryan navigate some of the challenges he’s faced in his life
  • How Ryan juggles everything he has to do as a writer, a business owner, and consultant
  • The impact working with Robert Greene had on Ryan and how that experience influenced everything from his writing, how he does research, and even the kind of person he turned out to be
  • How Ryan uses the famous Notecard System he learned as a researcher for Robert Greene
  • Why Ryan insists on writing his thoughts longhand, and why copy and paste is almost a capital offense
  • The process Ryan uses to write a book and what the ideation, writing and editing stages look like
  • The brilliant way Ryan runs his consulting business, including how he charges clients and how he gracefully handles people looking for free advice

You're going to get so much out of this episode. Enjoy!

May 16, 2016
Are we too busy to pay attention to life?
43:23

An inbetweenisode of sorts where Jeff Annello and I discuss whether we're too busy to pay attention to life - on whether we're too busy to live. If you want more of these let me know #tkp on twitter.

Mar 30, 2016
The Architecture of Music
56:29

On this episode of The Knowledge Project, I talk about the architecture of music with conductor Alexander Shelley. Out of all the amazing conversations I've had, this might be my favorite.

Shelley is currently chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra and music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.

In this fascinating interview, we discuss:

  • How Alexander prepares himself before stepping on stage (and how his process changes depending on the music the orchestra will play)
  • Why live performances create a powerful and almost spiritual experience
  • The delicate relationship between audience, orchestra, and conductor and how balancing them is like a beautiful dance
  • How to manage the egos, personalities, and different playing styles of 80 world-class musicians on any given night
  • How the structures of music have changed over the years, and how our ears still recognize shapes and patterns in any piece from any era
  • Why Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is so popular (Alexander breaks down the DNA of the song and how all music has its own unique “cell structure.” This alone is worth listening to the interview)
  • Why the sciences and the arts are inseparable and should be studied, practiced and revered hand in hand
  • How familiarity with music history allows you to appreciate and enjoy any piece of music (even current pop hits) at a whole new level

Whether you’re someone who always has music playing, or just occasionally taps your fingers on the steering wheel when the occasional tune comes on, you’re going to absolutely love this episode. I can’t say enough about it.

Enjoy the interview!

Mar 18, 2016
The Art of Changing Minds
53:39

On this episode of The Knowledge Project, I talk rationality, changing minds (our own and others), filtering information, the role of intuition, and a lot more with Julia Galef.

Galef is the President and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, a non-profit organization based in Berkeley, California, devoted to developing, testing and training people in strategies for reasoning and decision making.

She also hosts the Rationally Speaking podcast, a biweekly show featuring conversations about science and philosophy.

This is a topic I could talk about for hours, so we wasted no time at all. In this discussion, we cover a lot of ground, including:

  • What happened when Julia was 7 years old that first sparked a lifelong interest in good argument
  • The one thing her parents did that helps her keep an open mind to new evidence even when she might be wrong
  • The two types of rationality and how they both affect the way we view reality and the world we live in
  • Why she co-founded the Center for Applied Rationality and how they are changing the way people think about problems and make decisions
  • The role intuition plays in our decision-making process, (and when we can trust it to take over)
  • What the strengths and weaknesses of the 2 systems of our brain are and how they interact to help us function
  • The two-step process to changing minds (both your own and others’)
  • Julia’s tips on how to process the daily deluge of available information with a more rational mind

And a lot more ...

Feb 20, 2016
The Three Types of Decision Makers
01:06:25

Venkatesh Rao is the founder of the blog Ribbonfarm, the technology analysis site Breaking Smart, and the author of a book on decision making called Tempo.

We talk about a host of fascinating subjects, including:

  • The dangers and the benefits of tribalistic and individualistic thinking
  • The 3 types of decision makers and a brief overview of each (which are you?)
  • The brilliant way he describes the power of mental models through Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings
  • How mental models simplify the sheer volume of information our brains are forced to process every day
  • Why it’s critical to continually update your mental models, and how most people are doing this wrong
  • How Venkatesh processes the information he reads, and how he handles material he doesn’t enjoy reading
  • How technology will impact the way we run businesses, manage people, and even interact with each other
Jan 28, 2016
How to See the Future
46:00

On this episode, I'm happy to have Philip Tetlock, author, and professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

He's the co-leader of The Good Judgement Project, which is a multi-year forecasting study. He also wrote the New York Times best-selling book,Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction and Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?

In this interview, we dive into the meat and potatoes of what we can do to get better at the art and science of prediction, including:

  • What traits and characteristics make one person a more accurate forecaster than another
  • The 15 minute exercise that radically improves the average forecaster’s accuracy
  • How Philip’s mantra, “Start with the outside and work inside” can prevent you from making incorrect assumptions when making an important decision
  • How we can foster open-mindedness in ourselves and other people in our organizations
  • What the “Fermi method” is and how it can help flush out your ignorance when wrestling with a problem/li>
  • How much of prediction is a learnable skill, and how much is just dumb luck
  • How organizations can use Philip’s research to create a culture of creative problem solving (even if it means mistakes are more visible to others)

And much more.

Dec 08, 2015
The State of Venture Capital
55:57

On this episode, I have Chris Dixon.

Chris is a partner at perhaps the most famous venture capital firm in the world, Andreessen Horowitz or commonly known as a16z.

We talk about the history of venture capital, why companies fail, the future of artificial intelligence and the Idea Maze. I hope you like this interview as much as I did.

Nov 13, 2015
Elevate Your Financial IQ
01:00:13

On this episode I have Jason Zweig. Jason writes The Intelligent Investor column for the Wall Street Journal. He has also written books like Your Money and Your Brain, The Little Book of Safe Money, and taken part in revised editions of the cult classic The Intelligent Investor. He’s got a new book coming out called The Devil’s Financial Dictionary, which we’ll talk about. Jason is an extraordinary person who offers historical perspectives on today’s seemingly important financial news.

We talk about a host of things, including what his day looks like; why he adds a philosophical and historical view to his columns; the relentless flow of news; his new book The Devil’s Financial Dictionary, what the average investor should do and so much more. 

Oct 19, 2015
Why Mental Models?
53:33

In this episode of The Knowledge Project, I have on the show one of my favorite people: Sanjay Bakshi.

Sanjay is one of India’s most recognized finance professors. He teaches a course entitled Behavioural Finance and Business Valuation at the Management Development Institute. And while he probably doesn’t want me to mention this, not only is he an amazing teacher; he is also a skilled practitioner. He is one of the most successful investors you will ever meet.

In this interview, we talk about a host of things, including:

  • Why Sanjay has built an impressive anti-library, yet prefers to read on a Kindle
  • How to develop a multi-disciplinary approach to learning so you’re building breadth as well as depth in your knowledge
  • The clever mental trick Sanjay uses to keep an open mind about problems he’s working on
  • How he teaches his students to seek multiple perspectives when learning something new, and how it impacts their retention and understanding
  • How mental models transformed Sanjay’s investing strategies and spilled into other areas of his life as well
  • How Sanjay filters the deluge of information that’s coming at him every day to focus on the details that are most important.
  • What the most sustainable business models look like and the characteristics they share
  • Whether it’s advantageous to be more intuitive or data-driven in business, and how to develop those traits
  • Which book Sanjay reads three times a year and finds new pearls of wisdom every time he cracks it open

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

My free weekly Brain Food digest helps you upgrade your thinking. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet)

Sep 18, 2015
Leadership on the Field, in the Office, and at Home
32:56

This episode features Michael Lombardi, former General Manager of the Cleveland Browns and current member of the coaching staff on the New England Patriots. He's widely regarded as one of the best evaluators of talent in the NFL and as we'll see, a lot more goes into that than measuring talent.

In this packed interview with Michael, you’ll learn:

  • The four elements of leadership (that are just as applicable in the home and office as they are on the football field)
  • The key differences between good coaches and bad coaches and how to see where you are on the spectrum
  • How Michael evaluates a player’s ability to fit into the culture and system of a team (lots of carryover for recruiting into a company or other organization)
  • The importance of divergent thinking in an organization to avoid “groupthink” and stagnant progress
  • How to manage big egos and get players to cooperate to reach a team objective rather than compete for the spotlight
  • Why focusing on processes and not outcomes is an overlooked strategy to reach lofty goals
  • What coaching in the NFL has taught Michael about parenting

Whether you’re a fan of American football or not, there are lots of insights to be learned from this episode.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

My free weekly Brain Food digest helps you upgrade your thinking. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet)

May 29, 2015
When To Trust Your Gut
38:58

The first episode of The Knowledge Project features Michael Mauboussin, the head of Global Financial Strategies at Credit Suisse. He's also written numerous books, including More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places,Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition, and most recentlyThe Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing.

More importantly, Mauboussin spends more time thinking about thinking than most people.

In this inaugural episode, we explore:

  • How Michael structures his day (and which elements are absolutely essential to fit in no matter what’s on his plate)
  • How “chunking” his time when performing tasks seems to result in a more productive day
  • What role intuition plays in making big decisions and when it should be minimized
  • How deliberate practice can help hone our intuition so we can lean on it when it matters
  • How to audit your decision making process so you continually get better
  • Effective ways to challenge the status quo in your organization, even if you’re at the bottom of the totem pole
  • Tools and methods Michael uses with his children to encourage them to think for themselves
  • How technology affects our decision making processes both positively and negatively
  • The books that most influenced Michael’s life and why they mean so much to him

And much more.

I hope you enjoy this new format of learning the best of what others have already figured out.

***

For comprehensive show notes on this episode, including a full edited transcript, go to https://www.fs.blog/podcast/

My free weekly Brain Food digest helps you upgrade your thinking. Don't miss out, sign up at https://www.fs.blog/newsletter/

Follow Shane on Twitter (https://twitter.com/farnamstreet)

Apr 28, 2015