[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the Science of Success with your host, Matt Bodnar.
[00:00:12.4] MB: Welcome to The Science of Success. I'm your host Matt Bodner. I’m an entrepreneur and investor in Nashville, Tennessee and I’m obsessed with the mindset of success and the psychology of performance. I’ve read hundreds of books, conducted countless hours of research and study and I am going to take you on a journey into the human mind and what makes peak performers tick, with the focus on always having our discussion rooted in psychological research and scientific fact, not opinion.
In this episode, we sit down and discuss everything we've learned in the last year of doing The Science of Success, review some of our favorite lessons and episodes, talk about the incredible insights we've discovered, and share some of the biggest common themes that have emerged from a year of interviews with amazing guests ranging from FBI hostage negotiators to game theory experts, neuroscientists, world class poker players, successful entrepreneurs, and much more.
The Science of Success continues to grow with nearly 700,000 downloads, listeners in over a hundred countries, hitting number one New Noteworthy, and more. A ton of our listeners email me and ask, "Matt, how do you organize and remember all this incredible information? Information I get from reading books, listening to podcasts, interviewing incredible experts, how do I keep track of all of it?" Because of that, we've created an amazing free resource for all of our listeners. It’s called How to Organize and Remember Everything. You can get it completely for free by simply texting the world “smarter” to the number 44222.
Again, it's a guide we created called How to Organize and Remember Everything. Listeners are absolutely loving this. We get emails all the time of people telling us how great this resource is and how much it's helping them stay organized and keep track of everything that they learn. Again, you can get it for free by texting “smarter” to the number 44222 or by going to scienceofsuccess.co and putting in your email.
In our previous episode, we discussed why you should not follow your passion, the two biggest pitfalls people struggle with trying to build a career they love, the incredible importance of deep work, why deep work is so valuable, and how we can cultivate it. As well as, how you can structure your lifestyle to attain autonomy and mastery, with Cal Newport. If you want some serious fuel to crush your New Year's resolutions, listen to that episode.
[00:02:22] MB: Are you excited?
[00:02:23] AF: I'm very excited. I'm really excited to talk to the audience, man. I mean, I'm behind-the-scenes here but unless you're a guest you probably have no idea who I am, or reporter, you might not know him too.
[00:02:32] MB: That's true. So the man speaking to you today, the other voice on the microphone who's with me here in person, is actually the producer of the show. His name is Austin Fable and Austin is kind of the wizard behind the scenes with The Science of Success, and he helps us with everything. The show would not run or really be what it is today without Austin's help and Austin's influence. He helps us find guests, he helps us do a lot of the research and prep, he helps get all the interview set up. He's really been instrumental in helping make The Science of Success what it is today.
This episode's going to be a little bit different and that's why it's airing kind of off track. You're still going to get a weekly interview that's going to be totally awesome, but this is actually going to be a conversation between me and Austin. I wanted to kind of introduce him to you guys and it's going to be a recap of the show. So The Science of Success has been around for a little more than a year. We launched in November of 2015?
[00:03:23] AF: November 3rd, 2015.
[00:03:24] MB: Nice. Yes, and so we'll count that as one year. So we're going to do a recap. We're going to talk about everything that's happened on the show, we're going to talk about some of our favorite guests, we're going to talk about some of our favorite lessons. But yeah, this is going to be a little bit different and so we hope that you enjoy this conversation. With that, Austin, why don't you say hello to everybody?
[00:03:44] AF: Well, first of all Matt, thanks for the very kind intro. I appreciate all of that. It's really nice to be on the mic talking to the audience. I guess just a little bit about how I got involved. So you and I do some work together outside of The Science of Success, but before coming on as producer, I was actually a big fan. So I've been listening weekly like a lot of other people and kind of taking some of these notes. You and I had read a lot of things, like "Influence" by Cialdini in the past.
So it's speaking a lot of the same language and it wasn't until the meditation episode, actually, that really kind of got me. It really hit home with me. First thing that I actually put into practice in my daily routine, and that's kind of what got me interested enough to reach out to you about helping.
[00:04:23] MB: Tell us the story of what happened when you heard the meditation episode.
[00:04:26] AF: So, meditation episode airs, I've always — similar to your story, I know I've had weird brief moments in my life where I've just sat down and been with my thoughts. But I've never really had any sort of structure with it, and they're very few and far between, right? Like years. So I'm driving down the road on I40 here in Nashville on the way to my dad's house and I'm listening to the episode on meditation and just kind of the impact it had for you. The method by Vishen Lakhiani and other guests we've had on. I almost pulled the car over. I mean, it was insane.
Going through the scientific benefits of forgiveness and gratitude that I'd never even thought of. It kind of blew me away. So I get back and I'm sitting there, and I get to my dad's house and I'm telling him all about meditation and things that he doesn't really know much about. He's like, "Well, that's great. That's cool." So, the next morning I decide I get up really early and I sit down, I can't do lotus position because of my knees, but I followed your Spotify playlist and I just sat there and I went through the framework, beginning with connectedness and then going into gratitude and forgiveness.
It was just amazing how sitting there, I find myself smiling when I'm thinking of gratitude, because it's all the things that I take for granted every day that I don't think about. Gratitude comes from within, so beginning with who you are as a person. Like, "I'm glad I know right from wrong. I'm glad that I feel certain ways. I'm glad that I was raised properly. And then you go into things like your health, and then you always end with things like, "I'm glad I have a car. I'm glad I have a house. I'm glad I have a nice wife, a dog, all those good things.
But the biggest one for me, Matt, was forgiveness because it was tough. Because I have traditionally really buried a lot of things and they come up at the worst times, right? You know what I mean? I might have a grudge with somebody and they run into you at the mall and I've completely forgot about it. But now that I've seen you I'm like, "Gah, it's that guy."
[00:06:14] MB: Yeah. It's really funny because I think one of the things we wanted to talk about on this episode is what are some of the big themes we've learned this year? And from interviewing everybody from bloggers to the founder of Life is Good, to game theory experts, people who are neuroscientists, PhD's, all kinds of crazy guests and forgiveness is a theme that has showed up again, and again, and again in a lot of different episodes. It's something that took — like, it really was a struggle for me, and still is to some degree, to forgive people. Because I'm naturally, my family and thinking about — I remember my grandmother was like notorious for holding grudges and if you crossed her the wrong way, you were just done. You know what I mean?
So, it runs in my family and I was very much kind of a very bitter grudge-holding person before I started down this path of learning all this stuff. So it still takes time for me sometimes to kind of practice forgiveness and something that, I mean, the science is in. It's not really disputable that forgiveness is really, really beneficial. But it's definitely something that takes a lot of work for me personally at least, to put into practice.
[00:07:22] AF: Well and it's one of those things also, were you're not doing it for the person you're forgiving, right? You're doing it for yourself. Because...
[00:07:27] MB: Absolutely.
[00:07:29] AF: For me it's, you know, I've got a certain people I held grudges against for a long time and I mean they don't know I'm holding this grudge. The only one impacted by this is me and it's not ever — no one ever thinks like, "Oh yes. I hate this person. That's such a great feeling," normally. But when you can sit down and you can really put some thought in a quiet room or with headphones in and music and really think about these things that just kind of erk you and they don't really matter and kind of let them go, it's amazing.
And so then, to kind of round out my story, I began making meditation a daily practice of mine after listening to the episode and that's kind of how I got looped in. And for me, kind of like you mentioned your grandmother, I've always been really afraid of this phrase like "being inside your head", right? People say this all the time like, "Oh I'm getting too far in my head." That usually means you're overthinking something. You're making something negative, you're thinking of all the bad outcomes, and now I like to liken your brain as sort of like a room.
I can walk into this room and I never want to sit in here because I hate the way the furniture is laid out, I don't like where the T.V. is. Well, I can move the T.V., I can move the chairs into it, and until you really get inside your head in a positive way with the intention of making change you don't realize it but you're your brain's a room. If you don't like the way it's laid out, change it.
[00:08:36] MB: I like that analogy and that's — I've never actually thought about it that way. You know it's funny though because I feel like, I mean obviously I think we both practice meditation and all that kind of stuff. For me, I still feel like naturally I'm a very sort of cerebral person and one of the things that I've taken away from a number of guests this year is kind of how to cultivate more like body awareness. And I had this really interesting insight a couple, maybe like a week or two ago, and it was this idea that like — and I still feel like, if there's some sort of balance between "being in my head" and "being in my body". I'm like 95% in my head, to the point and I think it was actually Megan Bruneau has a really good quote that I'm going to paraphrase it.
But she basically said something like, for people who are perfectionists, and you know again, her definition of perfectionism is not what you would sort of traditionally think of and I think I fell into that definition in many ways and got a lot out of that episode. But anyway she says, for people who are sort of perfectionists like they are they're constantly trying to get away from feeling anything, right? Like, as soon as you start to feel something in your body you tap into these kind of mental addictions, whether it's your phone, or like answering email, or working really hard, or whatever, to do anything so that you don't have to feel.
And that phrase really kind of resonated with me and I think like what I finally realized is, instead of what I had sort of thought of as body awareness prior to that was like this very mentally driven thing of like "what does my body feel? Like what does that mean, and is that okay?" I kind of switch it to like — I kind of had this light switch flip on that was like, to me, body awareness is just feel what your body is feeling. That's it. There's no, like don't analyze it. Don't ask what it's feeling. It's just like, kind of go into your body and just be like, "Okay, what's happening?" And that act of feeling it alone, really helps deal with a lot of those kind of — a lot of that stress, a lot of those emotions that, at least for me especially, like I sort of bury under the surface and don't want to deal with.
[00:10:28] AF: Well that's a really interesting point because, I mean you mentioned like perfectionism that ties into kind of — you're almost fighting your emotions, right? You're so busy analyzing and being like, "Why do I feel this way?" But you're not actually experiencing it.
[00:10:39] MB: Yeah.
[00:10:40] AF: And how you learn how to be better of something? By doing it. So how do you better deal with sadness, deal with anger, deal with even positive emotions like happiness and not be too overjoyed and do something without thinking? You do it by experiencing them and not trying to figure out why they are what they are but like, learning that like, "Okay, I'm angry. How can I use this in a positive way?" Or like, "I'm sad maybe I need to get through this in order to get to the other side."
[00:11:01] MB: Yeah.
[00:11:01] AF: She also has a really interesting quote, "Life's a song." You're not waiting to get to the end of the song. You don't put on your favorite tune sitting there waiting for it to end. You get on it to listen to it, and I think emotions are obviously a huge part of life and if you don't listen to your emotions you're really kind of missing the song.
[00:11:16] MB: I'm trying to remember which, and maybe it was — gosh, I'm trying to remember which guest said it, but the only people who don't experience pain and suffering, and actually I think it's a guest who hasn't aired and isn't going to air until after this episode. So I'm not going to reveal who it was.
[00:11:32] AF: Oh! Stick around.
[00:11:32] MB: But it's an upcoming episode that's really, really good. Basically the only people who don't feel suffering, pain, anxiety, negative emotions are psychopaths and dead people. So as long as you're not one of those two camps.
[00:11:46] AF: I don't think you want to be either.
[00:11:47] MB: It's a good thing to be feeling these native emotions. It's part of the experience of being alive.
[00:11:52] AF: Yeah, and to round this out into kind of one of the overarching themes I know we've seen, every guest, like you have Jared Tendler on and he teaches you about how to stop choking, right? Like, how can you keep your brain from sort of shutting off and then affecting your performance? And then you also go into more like mental models and emotions and every single guest seems to have one thing that's in common phrased in one way or another, and that's understanding these emotions is the first level to controling them.
Whether you're trying to become a better poker player, or golfer. Or whether or not you're just trying to live a happier life, or you're trying to give your customers what they want and not be reactive. I mean it all seems to come from this understanding and ultimately embracing of who you are and your different emotions.
[00:12:34] MB: Yeah and I mean I think we touch on that. I mean there are many guests that have touched on that piece and I think in the meditation episode we talked about the idea that you have to recognize — well, you know, we also talk about this in the episode about limiting beliefs and the interview with Catherine Plano where we went deeper on that. You have to be able to see a limiting belief before you can fight it, before you can remove it, right? And simply the same thing, like you have to be able to see the thought process as Jared Tendler talked about of how you choke before you can intervene and stop it.
And the only way, I mean maybe not the only way, but the only real way that I found to be able to meaningfully develop an awareness of your thought process is with a practice like meditation, right? And cultivating that ability to sort of catch your thoughts and say, "Okay, whoa. What was that phrase that I just said to myself?" You know what I mean? And these thoughts just flitter by sometimes. But if you can just catch onto them you can kind of see like, "Whoa, there's a lot more here subconsciously that I'm not dealing with."
[00:13:33] AF: And correct me if I'm wrong, but I mean a lot of those thoughts, if you're not there to catch them, I mean they go almost unnoticed.
[00:13:39] MB: Yeah, oh yeah they definitely go unnoticed.
[00:13:40] AF: But that impact is definitely not unnoticed.
[00:13:42] MB: Yeah. I mean, that's totally true and limiting beliefs, for instance, like a limiting belief about being able to do something or not, you know whatever the limiting belief is, there's so many ways it can manifest in your life. But that can easily just be lurking below the surface and preventing you at a conscious level from sort of taking the action you need to take, right? And because you kind of just, you feel this resistance to it or you feel like it's not achievable or whatever and a lot of times in these just brief moments you'll catch a glimpse of some kind of belief under the surface that's like, "Oh, that's the reason that I haven't been doing this thing I really need to do. It's because I feel like I can't or you know my relationship with my parents like somehow shifted the way I feel about this particular issue."
And actually, a really good instance of that, which is actually not on our show but I was on the Positive Psychology Podcast and did an interview. The host, I basically like broke down. She had like this limiting belief about money and I like, in real time, like had a conversation with her for like fifteen minutes and broke down like what the belief was and like went — you know I forget who it is, but basically it's just like you keep asking, "Why?" over and over again, right? Ask why, and then ask why, and then ask why again. You know, you keep asking why until you get to like the deepest fundamental issue of why something. Why you feel like you can't, or why you haven't done something, really.
[00:14:58] AF: The root it's often like 20 steps past what you thought it might be, and when you get there you're just like, "Oh my God, if I had just forgiven myself for over-drafting my card in college and my dad getting mad at me, then I probably wouldn't be freaking out about this."
[00:15:09] MB: Yeah, literally. And so her thing was like, she didn't want to sell because Kristen, the host of Positive Psychology Podcast, she didn't want to sell because her dad was a salesman and wasn't very successful and she thought of him as like kind of like a skeezy, like sleazy sales guy. She still love her father and had a good relationship with him, but just those, I guess, childhood experiences of dealing with that had somehow kind of tainted her ability to ask people for money, basically and that was holding her back from quitting her job and moving kind of full-time into the world of positive psychology, which is something she's obviously really interested in.
[00:15:44] AF: And been very successful. I mean, The Positive Psychology Podcast is pretty big. It's funny because they're all over the place. That's a really common one is the sales. People have such a mental block when it comes to a lot of these things and a lot of it comes from past experiences with sales people or people that you might have admired are coming off the wrong way. But really, at the end of the day, when you think about it, I mean this is your job. Like people are — salespeople, what do you expect to do? Sell. I mean it's not like you're approaching someone.
[00:16:09] MB: Well, there's also — there are ways you can sell with more integrity, right?
[00:16:13] AF: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:16:14] MB: You can ask people for money in a way that's not skeezy and like causes people to be like, "Whoa, what's wrong with you?"
[00:16:22] AF: Will provide value to theme.
[00:16:23] MB: Yeah. Understand their needs and help them solve the problem, right? And there are a bunch of books about that. You know, we don't really talk a lot about sales on the show but...
[00:16:30] AF: But one thing that's really, really interesting too is, you mentioned it, it's like how you come off to other people, right? And that goes back to perspectives. Your example in an earlier episode even it's like someone cuts you off in a car, and you're like, "Oh my God who is this guy?" Perceptions skews the perspective.
[00:16:44] MB: Yeah the reality of perception. That was one of our early episodes.
[00:16:45] AF: And it's like, "This guy is a jerk. He just cut me off. He's going too fast. What the heck?" Well this guy might be on the way to see his mother on her deathbed and he's freaking out, and I didn't know that. Likewise, you know, just to back back to sales example, but if I pick up — if I call you and you're like, "Stop calling me I hate you. You're the worst person in the world." It might be because you're having a really bad day and it's not anything to add to your limiting beliefs.
[00:17:07] MB: Oh I think this is something I've definitely internalized a lot through many of the conversations we've had on the show, which is there's kind of two pieces of this puzzle. One is the, you know, I forget the exact quote but it's basically like "everybody is fighting a battle that you know nothing about", right?
[00:17:20] AF: I love that quote.
[00:17:21] MB: And it's easy to kind of hear that be like, "Okay, sure." But when you really think about that, like you have no idea what someone's struggles have been, you have no idea what they've dealt with, you know, what's stressing them out in that moment and kind of causing them to behave the way that they're behaving, right? And so ideally sort of helps kind of create empathy or compassion or understanding for why they're behaving that way.
The other piece of that is the idea that sort of in many, I feel like in almost every instance, like when somebody is really rude or angry, it's not about you. It's all about them, right? Then I found this, and again, being somebody who earlier in my life was very kind of like vengeful and bitter person.
[00:17:59] AF: Are you going to tell the story about the guy?
[00:18:01] MB: What guy?
[00:18:01] AF: The guy you found who you were like, "On X day I'm going to find."
[00:18:04] MB: No, no, no. That was a buddy of mine. But no, we're not going to tell that story. Sorry listeners. Don't edit that out. It's a reflection of what's going on with them, right? And one of the most powerful ways to defuse somebody who's being really nasty to you in one way or another, and — oh there's a really good point about this too that I want to talk about. But the best way to defuse somebody harassing you are attacking you verbally or whatever, that I found just like is such a — it just diffuses the situation in many ways, at least for me, is just be like, "You seem like a really angry person and I wish for you happiness and blessings for the rest of your life," right?
[00:18:42] AF: Wow.
[00:18:42] MB: Because all of the frustration, when somebody is really mean to you, that's their inside world spilling out into the into the external world. It has nothing to do with you and has everything to do with kind of whatever demons are haunting them. So that's a really good way to kind of encapsulate the second or the third piece of this, which is like it's really easy to be compassionate to somebody or think kindly of somebody when they're nice to you, right? The way you actually build the muscle of compassion is to be really nice and compassionate to people when they're mean to you.
[00:19:18] AF: I think that's huge. What's the quote from Gandhi?
[00:19:21] MB: Oh, yeah, "Forgiveness is for the strong. The weak cannot forgive."
[00:19:25] AF: I think that's huge, and it kind of goes in the same vein here as I think it's — it's not necessarily weakness, but if you wear your heart on your sleeve enough to where you're externalizing these personal feelings and you're projecting them onto other people, I think that's something that can always be fostered like a strength. But that's a sign of needing to work on these sorts of skills and really take the whole world into perspective, not just what's happening to you.
[00:19:49] MB: It's funny because we've come back to forgiveness, even though we were talking about twenty minutes ago. It just shows how interrelated many of these themes are.
[00:19:58] AF: And they are and that's the great thing about a lot of these guests. You know, we give the listeners things that they can do to make their lives better and it's interesting to see how all of these different experts from different fields, there's always one or two or three things that really are of the crux of what...
[00:20:15] MB: Yeah, I mean, I'd say we both kind of put together just a short list of what we thought some of the biggest themes from this year were. Gut it's amazing how you can be interviewing an F.B.I. hostage negotiator and the next day you're interviewing a neuroscientist and they're talking about like very similar themes, right? Or you're interviewing somebody like Rick Hansen, who's a psychologist who's a deep expert in Buddhism. I mean that episode is such a fascinating interview.
But I'd love to, you know, we've talked a lot about kind of this forgiveness component and meditation. I'd love to to dig into some of the other themes and kind of overarching lessons. Austin, what else for you stood out as some of the biggest takeaways from Science of Success in 2016?
[00:20:54] AF: Oh man. There's been so many of them. You know, something I really love, obviously the Weapons of Influence series I'm a huge fan of. I think that's very easily practicable and then just one note about what you just said that reminded me of Chris Voss with the mirror thing. It's like, once you expose these things, you notice them.
[00:21:11] MB: It's totally true.
[00:21:12] AF: I watch — I listen to podcasts and I listen to the reporters on T.V. and I'm like, "My god is Miriam," and it always works out really well. But a couple of my favorite kind of overarching themes we've seen and we don't have to go through all three of them, but to me there really really three of them. It's like, Weapons of Influence encapsulates a lot of them. Because the biases are things that we see over and over and over again that we tell ourselves, that we tell all the people, that we project. And there are also mental models that I really like. Kind of going ahead and saying, "When X happens, I respond Y. And I respond Y because I know Y has a positive outcome for me.
The other one I see that's very interesting is sort of this — and it kind of goes into the whole selflessness and taking yourself out of the equation. But it's like your ego, right? It's kind of, you know, Michael Mauboussin talked about it. Great guest. It's kind of like removing yourself from the situation. He calls it "using the outside view". And it's kind of like when I come to you Matt, and I'm like, "Oh, you know, X is happening in my life and just don't know how to deal with it. Like, this is the toughest scenario in the world." And you might look at me, and you're like, "No man. You do like X, Y, Z. Things are going to be totally fine." But for me, it's almost impossible to figure out. So it's like by removing yourself from it, you can look at it from the outside view and really get a black and white sense of what's going on.
[00:22:20] MB: Yeah I mean I think that the outside view in many ways ties into all three of those kind of concepts and I think the the really interesting point about the outside view is like, it lets you really clearly kind of eliminate your bias from the situation, right? When you think about you know everybody thinks every situation they're in is kind of a unique snowflake of a struggle or challenge or whatever it is. And the outside view, which for listeners who don't know what we're talking about we say that, and we go really deep on it in the interview with Michael Madison. But the outside view basically is this idea that you should look at, instead of just looking at your particular situation, you should look at every situation of somebody like that that you can find kind of data for, right?
And so there's a really good example that I like and we give a couple examples in the Michael Mauboussin interview, but there's a really good example that like that actually Mauboussin wrote in a research piece, which we'll include in the in the show notes a long with this. But it talks about Tesla and it basically says, you know, he looks at this projection that Elon Musk made, that Tesla was going to grow it X percent a year or whatever and he basically says, "Okay, like let's look at the last fifty years of companies that had a revenue of you know a billion dollars or more. How many of those companies in this universe, you know, grew at thirty percent a year for a ten year period, right?
And he looks at every industry whatever every single company and there's never been a company in history that's grown at that rate right. Or whatever, and I don't know the exact numbers but the research study kind of goes into it but it's really interesting and basically shows you like, okay, well like you can build a model and look at those numbers and say, "Yeah, we can grow 30% a year for ten years and if we sold this many cars, that's how you get there. But if you look at every company that's ever existed like, no company that's that size has ever grown at that rate and sustained it for that period of time. That's kind of using the outside view to sort of understand your situation instead of saying, "Oh, I'm a beautiful unique snowflake that the only person ever dealt with this issue." Instead look at like, what's the universe of people or companies or whatever that have dealt with this and how is it panned out? And you get a much more predictive kind of analysis of that.
I think the Dan Gardner episode is another one that gets really deep into — and his book, Super Forecasting, gets really deep into a lot of the tools that you can use, or mental models, right? Which has absolutely been one of the themes from this year, to improve and sort of sharpen your thinking in a way to make it a lot more effective and to make it, your thinking specifically around prediction, a lot more effective and he goes super deep into that. So if you want to learn how to predict the future, or at least predict it way more effectively than most of the talking heads you see on T.V. and most of the kind of world renowned experts.
[00:24:53] AF: Which is shocking, right? I mean it's really interesting stuff how if you neglect these mental models you're like, I guess these forces of the universe try these things with an unchanged time. If you neglect those it'll bite you in the butt.
[00:25:07] MB: That's a really good point, the idea of being unchanged through time. And that's something we talked about in the interview with Shane Parrish, right? Yeah, author of Farnam Street, which is one of my favorite blogs of all time and he has an amazing — all across that website they have a ton of amazing resources about mental models and he has pages on pages of where he kind of breaks down he goes through a bunch of different mental models.
[00:25:28] AF: So why don't you explain what a mental model is, really, for those who might not have seen the episode. Because it's something I'm actively working on doing right now, which is why I'm really interesting to get into this a little bit. But it's essentially, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it's like, "Okay, I'm experiencing X. Let me step away and look through my list of toolkits, or my toolkit with mental models," and you kind of figure out a framework on how to best attack it.
[00:25:47] MB: Yeah that's definitely a piece of it. I'd say that there's kind of another component and I may actually pause for a second and pull up the actual definition of it. Or I might be able to just do it right now.
[00:25:56] AF: You can go onto like Munger and all those successful people in the world that follow these things.
[00:26:00] MB: Yeah. So long time listeners will definitely know, and actually — well there's two pieces here. Let me go back to the idea that you shared, which is kind of things that are unchanged through time, and then I'll explain mental models. So the idea that Shane Parrish talks about in that interview is like, instead of focusing on learning kind of the tactics and the things that are constantly changing, like reading the latest hot business book that's like "ten things you can do right now to like get more sales".
[00:26:27] AF: Clickbait.
[00:26:27] MB: Right. Yeah, and reading articles and stuff like that, that's all really irrelevant information. You know, if it's not going to be relevant in the next three to five years, or the next ten years, or really the next like twenty five or thirty years, why are you learning that information, right? And so Shane Parrish does a really good job of describing this and explaining it. But it's essentially the idea that if you're going to spend time learning stuff, which I think everybody listening to this is spending some time at least learning something.
[00:26:51] AF: Bravo to you all.
[00:26:52] MB: Yes, yes. But if you're going to spend time learning stuff, why would you learn information that's going to be sort of transient, when instead you could learn information that's timeless? What does that mean? What kind of information is timeless? So there's lots of information that's timeless and we go super deep into it. But things like physics, things like biology. You know, some of the core underpinnings of psychology, economics. Like these are trends that are changing in the next three to five years.
Yes, there are new discoveries and things like that, but the core principles of these all of these major fields are sort of largely unchanging through time and so if you can master the fundamental pillars that underpin most of the major disciplines of knowledge, and we just talked about some of them — history, psychology, physics, biology, things like that — you can build an understanding of reality that is so much deeper and so much richer and lets you really, really kind of understand what's happening in the world and what causes things to happen, especially the things you either want to happen or the things you don't want to happen and you can just be much, much more effective. We go super deep on that with both Shane Parrish and Mauboussin.
But that concept is the concept of mental models, right? Those principles from all those major disciplines are essentially all different kind of mental models, and Charlie Munger is kind of the pioneer of this idea who really popularized the concept of mental models and the concept of what he calls "worldly wisdom". And Munger is, for those who don't know and longtime listeners will know that I'm a big fan of Charlie Munger and talk a lot about him. But Munger is Warren Buffett's business partner, he's a billionaire, he's super successful, and he talks a lot about this idea, which is basically if you were to master that you know what he calls is like the ten most important ideas from the 101 course of every discipline of knowledge, those are all mental models that you can use to better understand reality and better achieve the goals you want to achieve.
Simple examples that we've talked about on the show, every single episode that we did in the six part Weapons of Influence Series, right? Each one of those episodes is a mental model, right? We did reciprocation bias, commitment consistency, social proof, authority bias. Every one of those is a specific instance of a mental model that helps you better understand reality.
[00:29:02] AF: And I think that's, I mean, that's really, really key here, right? So the point we made is, you now, we see so many of these really unexpected parallels between like a physicist and a hostage negotiator, and that's because there's these things that don't change.
[00:29:14] MB: Yes, exactly.
[00:29:14] AF: Like physics. Hostage negotiation; it's not really — I mean, it is about hostage negotiation, but what it really is about is understanding the position that someone else is in when they feel threatened or in a high stakes scenario, and that's never going to change. People always have different reactions, you know, get emotional during certain situations and these things are just, like you said, the best rule is like, you could take a 101 course on everything. That's the basis of what you need to know. That's what won't change.
[00:29:40] MB: And one piece of it too is like, you kind of talk about the idea of looking up the answers. That and the beauty of websites like Shane Parrish's blog, Farnam Street, is that they have these kind of a laundry lists of mental models. But the end game is actually to learn all these mental models and sort of internalize them on two different analogies for this. One is Charlie Munger calls it a latticework of mental models, where you basically have these these understanding of reality.
You know, things like authority bias, or things like social proof and you array them in your mind in a way that they're internalized and so when you encounter a particular situation where a particular bias is kind of called forth or like is taking place, you can intuitively recognize it, right? And we were talking earlier about mirroring right? Once you've learned the mirroring mental model, it's really easy to see it and use it and I use it all the time and I was in a meeting literally yesterday meeting somebody at a coffee shop and I was modeling everything they're doing, and I'm modeling you right now and you just noticed it.
But it's really funny that once you've internalize them they become even more powerful, and so the endgame, the goal is, how do I consistently build a, what Elon Musk calls — and this is kind of the other understanding — a tree of knowledge, right? You start with the trunk, which is the really big ideas that govern reality, and then you move out to the branches, and then you move out to you know the smaller branches and then leaves where you hang like little piece of knowledge, and if you array the knowledge in a coherent way like that, you can internalize and recall it and it makes you be able to think and analyze and make decisions way more effectively.
At the end of the day, one of the biggest and I've talked at length about this, but one of the biggest things that you can do to improve your life is to improve the ability to make better decisions.
[00:31:30] AF: Absolutely.
[00:31:30] MB: Right? And I mean that's what this show's fundamentally about, is to help you make better decisions and to get more information so that you can make better decisions. But then you know, that in many ways is kind of like the end game application of Shane Parrish's concept that you should focus on things that don't change over time. The more energy you invest in your ability to make better decisions today, it's like compound interest for knowledge, right?
It cascades through everything for the rest of your life and every single, you know, all of the energy that you invest in making better decisions today carries over to tomorrow and then if you add a little bit more, it carries over to the next day, right? And it gets to the point where you can really efficiently both understand what's actually happening, see through the biases that are causing a lot of people to misunderstand the situation or not really be able to handle it, and you can make a really effective decision.
All the time and energy you invest in that carries forward through everything that you're doing, right? In your personal life, and your work life. Like any anything that you're working on, those dividends kind of keep on accruing in a compounded way.
[00:32:29] AF: It's by far the best thing that you can invest time, effort, or money into, is figuring out how to make better decisions. And there's a lot of information out there, right? There's so much information on how to do it, but really when you come back to these mental models, this is the foundation, as you said. This is the trunk. Without the trunk, the leaves no matter.
[00:32:48] MB: Yeah exactly. I mean, and that's what the show's about, fundamentally, is it's about us finding people who we think can help us and you make better decisions, right? Which is me being a part of the show. It's so it's great because we're learning along with you guys. I mean, it's not like we have all the answers and we're delegating them down from a mountain top. We're learning this with everyone as we listen, which is great.
[00:33:08] MB: It's totally true. It is really funny, w e talked about and I don't we don't have to keep kind of talking about this, but we talked about the Megan Bruneau episode, which to me, I was like just blown away by some of the stuff that she said in that episode and like I've listened to it multiple times and sent it to, you know, some family members and other people and I was like, "Look this was really impactful for me, you know and I know that I'm sitting there doing the interview and like there while it's happening I'm like, "Man, this is like I'm not learning a lot."
In some instances you know we will definitely bring a guest on the show that we're both familiar with and kind of want to share their message with you. But in some instances, you know, we kind of know the guest is but we might not really — I have no idea sort of what fruit the interview is going to bear and I think we've both had moments after the interview where we were kind of like looking at each other like, "Wow, that was awesome. I can't believe I just learned all this stuff." So we're along on the journey with everybody that's listening.
[00:34:00] AF: And it's really cool too because, you know, you can read everything they have you can understand the message. But until you're actually speaking to the person, like the human being, you get a lot more out of it and you learn things like where they became inspired. Where they learned these things. How they managed to apply it to their own lives and a lot of times you really get the underlying stories that really neat. Like potential spoiler alert, we had Kamal Ravikant on the podcast recently and you learn the stories and the experiences behind what he writes, which you can read everything that he's written and still get the message but it's just a whole other level to be like, "Wow, you're a human being actually." And it's very cool.
[00:34:36] MB: And I think, you know the other piece of that too is a lot of times when you're you know when you're reading a book or whatever else, you can kind of get the idea but you're like, "Well, what about this thing that kind of they don't really address?" And the beauty of being able to actually ask them is you can really dig in and be like, "Yeah I get your main point, but like have you thought about X?" And they're like, "Yeah I did think about that, and like here's," — you know?
[00:34:57] AF: It's neat to see their thought process. Because it's like, "You know, I mentioned that. What's your take on it?" And then they kind of go into theirs and you get a whole different perspective. So we've got a couple things; we've got mental models, we've obviously got the outside of you kind of removing your ego. Then emotions, which is kind of its own jar of cookies, like Pandora's Box.
[00:35:13] MB: Yeah, it's so much stuff.
[00:35:14] AF: How to control them, how to use them, how to...
[00:35:17] MB: One of my...
[00:35:17] AF: ...push them down if you need to at times.
[00:35:19] MB: One of my favorite episodes that we did about emotion, and it's funny because the title doesn't say anything about emotion, but my wife actually made a comment about this. But the Dacher Keltner episode was so good, about emotional, you know, understanding your emotions and the title, which is The Science of Power, right? Doesn't really talk about that at all, which is part of the challenge of these titles as we get one sentence to convey like so much more than that.
[00:35:44] AF: Well, one thing for the audience they might not know is if they haven't listened to it is that Dacher actually consulted on the movie Inside Out, which is like all about emotions, if you haven't seen it. I know we've seen it. I cannot recommend that movie enough. You'll laugh, you'll cry. But behind all the Pixar and the animation, it really is a very interesting way of looking at your emotions as almost people and characters and how they influence each other and compound on one another. Maybe even in some instance, lead others.
[00:36:11] MB: One of the things my wife said to me about that interview, because I make her listen to many of the episodes. No, she likes listening to them. But she's going to hear this and be like, "I listen to your episodes." She was kind of listening to the first half and she didn't really care much about acquiring power I guess. But then she listened to the second half and she's like, "That was a totally different interview, and it was amazing," and I was like, "Yeah. I mean he's he was a fascinating guest." But yeah, the second half we got really deep on kind of the whole emotional piece of it.
[00:36:41] AF: Yeah. Which is huge, and honestly it's not what you would think, and that's another great thing about the show is a lot of times you find out that what you might just see on the surface isn't even half of the story.
[00:36:51] MB: And I think one of the biggest lessons for me, and we've seen this theme recur with a number of guests including the interview we did with Peter Shallard, including Cal Newport and several others and this definitely applies to the acquisition of wisdom and kind of building a framework of mental models. There's no such thing as kind of a get rich quick scheme. Or there's no such thing as as you know for your mind, right? There's no such thing as kind of a get smart quick scheme.
There's no way that you can short circuit a lot of this stuff like it just takes time. It just takes hard, deep work. It just takes energy and focus and that to me was was one of the recurring themes that I think we've seen in a number of different interviews that I've really internalized and it's something that I've learned in my life many times. There's no shortcuts to real wisdom, and there's no shortcuts to the knowledge, right? You really have to put in the work and you have to put in the time and effort and you have to think about it, and you have to use deliberate practice, right? Which is something we've talked about a lot on the show too, and there's no way around that.
[00:37:51] AF: No, and I remember actually when Peter came on, of course you and I both know Peter. Great guy. His advice was like, "Well, I'm sorry to your listeners but like the truth is really unsexy. I mean the whole thing is you need to be accountable and actually get things done," and then same thing with Cal the other day, who was a fascinating guest, it's that you know — like you said, there's no easy way around it and the most value comes from things that are going to be hard. But because they're hard the majority of people never attempt them, which in turn makes those skills valuable.
So you might be able to sit there and think, "Oh, well if I can do this, this is pretty easy. I'll do that. I'm getting some work done. I'm going to feel good about myself." Well, that might be fine every now and again, but to really make yourself valuable to really understand these mental models and ultimately acquire skills that are going to help you move through life, you really have to sit down and you have to take the time to learn them. And like I just said, it's the fact that 90% of the people won't do that, that makes you the top 10%.
[00:38:43] MB: Yeah exactly.
[00:38:44] AF: Which is...
[00:38:45] MB: And I mean for people who are listening to this right now, you know, I guarantee you not everybody who's listening is going to go out and really concretely apply this stuff and really learn and build that kind of deep mastery.
[00:38:55] AF: We hope they do.
[00:38:56] MB: Yeah I hope you do, because you will reap tremendous rewards from it. But for those of you who don't, in many ways, thank you. Because the people who do, do reap huge rewards from if. You know what I mean?
[00:39:07] AF: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:39:07] MB: And Cal talks a lot about that in deep work and we go into that a lot in his episode about the fact that this ability to sort of concentrate and create really high leverage output is something that is increasingly rare because of things like social media, because of the 24/7 constant kind of connectedness. But it's also increasingly valuable, right? And that compounds together to make it something that is really worthwhile to pursue.
[00:39:33] AF: Well, it's interesting. To go back to your analogy of the tree is like people are always hung up on what's cool right now. What's that new kind of sexy relevant thing and those are the leaves, right? But because people are always looking at the leaves, they don't notice that what's holding them up, which is ultimately the most successful thing in the world. It's the trunk.
[00:39:50] MB: And the leaves from the leaves change of the seasons, right?
[00:39:55] AF: Oh, there we go.
[00:39:55] MB: I just thought of that, and I mean that goes back to the same thing is, focus on timeless knowledge, right? Why would you invest time and energy learning something that's going to be irrelevant in two years?
[00:40:05] AF: Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. The social media aspect that's really interesting. Cal Newport, I mean he's not shy about at all. He's never, nor will he ever have a social media account and there are people that are like, you know, "Matt, I've got to have an Instagram page for my business, otherwise no one's going to know who we are." Well, Cal's a great example of an author and speaker who is very sought after, has great wisdom, yet like you're not going to find on Facebook. You're not going to find him on Instagram, Twitter. You can find his e-mail address online, but pretty much e-mail is about as digital as he gets.
[00:40:35] MB: Yeah.
[00:40:37] AF: So, we've got mental models. We've got kind of the outside view of things. We have emotions and then we also have decision making and achieving goals. Ane one of the things we really pride ourselves on the show is tactics. Things that you can actually do. What are some of your favorite tactics that you've seen through the past year? Things that you actually implement on almost a granular level that have really kind of stuck with you?
[00:40:57] MB: That's really interesting. That's a great question. You know the things that I feel like some of the best kind of tactics and strategies, and you know that's kind of why — and it's not every interview, but most interviews I try to ask the guest like, "What's one simple thing that somebody listening can do right now?" You know I mean? Or, start today? And one of my favorite tactics is actually something that, it wasn't from a guest interview but if we did the interview on the neuroscience behind Einstein and Isaac Newton's biggest breakthroughs, right?
[00:41:26] AF: I love that.
[00:41:26] MB: This is actually from Josh Waitzkin, the chess champion and world champion martial artist, author of the book Art of Learning, which is an amazing book. You know he talks about this kind of daily architecture around the idea of journaling, you know? And we've had a number of guests recommend some kind of form of journaling as a methodology for improving your thought process, improving your decision making and to me that's a super powerful thing and it's kind of the idea and we go in-depth on this methodology. We go into that in depth on the episode where we talk about the neuroscience of how Einstein and Isaac Newton got to their biggest breakthroughs.
But the way that that happens is through planting a seed in your subconscious and then stepping away from the problem, right? And the easiest way to do this is ask yourself a question of something you're struggling with at the end of the day, you know at the end of your workday. Take some time off, decompress, sleep, wake up, potentially sort of meditate if that's part of your daily ritual, and then before you check your email before you check your text messages before you get kind of bombarded with all of the things that are going to sap your attention.
Which Cal Newport did a really good job of talking about the content of attention residue and how if you check, even if you just glance over your e-mail, for the next 30 minutes, a piece of your cognitive brainpower is dedicated to processing what happened in that e-mail inbox and you're not getting your full mental processing power, and it takes like 20 to 30 minutes for you to reset back to that. So before you check any of that stuff you want to just do sort of a journaling session on that idea and say, okay like whatever problem or question you pose to yourself, just journal about it for 15, 20, maybe 30 minutes and that's how you really create meaningful and new insights.
[00:43:04] AF: So I love the idea of stepping away, which is very counterintuitive to solving your problems. But as relevant or as immediate as this morning, so we're sitting here, we're putting some notes together for the show, and I'm trying to think of points I want to bring up and things that connect. And I'm sitting there meditating first thing in the morning and I'm not even really focusing on this at all, like my notes. But it comes to me while I'm sitting there. I'm kind of like, "Oh, these two things align," and then it's very cliché, but think about why you always hear people, "Well I have my best ideas in the shower."
It's like, "Well, why is that?" It's because your subconscious is holding onto these problems. It's not like when you step away from the computer, or you step away from the paper they're gone. You know, they're in your brain. Your brain is still churning, whether you know or not.
[00:43:43] MB: Yeah and that's how neuroscience sort of defines and describes the creative process and we go deep into it in that episode. But that to me was kind of one of the biggest actionable takeaways in terms of structuring kind of a daily ritual around that. What about you, Austin? What were some of the biggest things that you took away?
[00:44:01] AF: There are so many of them, but I've got to tell you, I have a little soft spot for Chris Voss and the stuff that he...
[00:44:08] MB: He's the man.
[00:44:09] AF: ...brought in. Not only is he the kind of guy I think you could have a beer with, but he had some really actionable things and I've always been really into influence. I know we're both big fans of the Weapons of Influence and then also one of my favorite books is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. And those are like, it comes back to things that never change. Actively listening to someone.
[00:44:28] MB: Yeah. I mean, when was that book written?
[00:44:30] AF: It was back in the twenty's I think.
[00:44:31] MB: Yeah.
[00:44:32] AF: But it's still like a top seller, it still makes it's way into like Amazon top hundred books every now and again, I think. But it's just things that don't change, right? Like listening to someone, actively listening to someone because there's a difference. But for Vos it was just neat to me because it's — those were all things that you can implement almost in your daily life. Like mirroring. Like you were just mirroring me now, and now I'm kind of like looking at you like, "Is he mirroring my hands over here?" But it's just not only that, but it also comes into things like how and why questions, which I love too. Because they really against the root of what they're asking, right?
[00:45:04] MB: How questions are great. so powerful.
[00:45:05] AF: And it's cool because I'm really not listening to you and I'm really not actively there unless I'm asking these sorts of questions and really taking the time to actively listen. So for me, you know, he brings up the example that's like, "We want $2 million dollars and we're going to release this hostage." And he's like, "Okay yeah that's a that's a great demand, but like how am I going to do that, Matt? How am I going to get a chopper with $2 million dollars here? Like what do you think we should do?" And not only then am I like now on your side and the guys like, "Oh, well I don't know, Chris. I thought you had that handled." And you're like, "No, I don't think so."
But then you force, not only does it frame us on the same team like, "Oh yeah, we need to get that $2 million dollars in a helicopter. How do we do it?" And they're kind of now in your shoes and they're sort of on your team working with you. Same thing about why, and I love this too. It's like if you're in a negotiation, you come to me and you're like, "Austin, we're going to give you 30 days to hit this target and if you hit this target we're going to give you X." And I'm like, "Well, what is it about 30 days?" And then that might cause you to be like, "Well you know we've got this big thing happening on January 1, and so we need you to have it done in 30 days." So now I understand more about why you need it done in 30 days and what your motivations are.
[00:46:09] MB: And there's a bunch of psychology research that shows this is a mental model essentially. But when you just give people a reason, even if it's not — like you can literally make up a reason. If you just say why or you say, "Because X, Y, Z," people are more likely to comply with whatever you want them to do.
[00:46:28] AF: And that was an influence, wasn't it?
[00:46:30] MB: Yeah.
[00:46:30] AF: It's literally, the studies are astounding that if you just put "because" in. I could be like, "Matt, do you mind do the dishes because I want to watch this T.V. show?" And just because I — and that's not a good excuse at all not to do the dishes, but like because I put "because" in the sentence...
[00:46:44] MB: I feel more obligated.
[00:46:44] AF: You're like, "Well, he's got something else going on." So now I'm off the hook, on doing the dishes. That was really big for me, is the how and why and it's something that I immediately was able to do just even having coffee with someone, like you mentioned, and it's like, "You know how are we going to get this done?" It definitely not only diffuses a hostile situation a little bit and kind of brings you together, but it gives you a deeper understanding of where they're coming from, which kind of sneakily gives you the information that you might want and kind of gives you the upper hand.
[00:47:11] MB: Yeah I mean, I think — and the Chris Voss episode is so packed full of knowledge. But one of the most relevant tools for negotiation that I took away from that is just that the focus on trying to understand what the other person wants and needs, and that is such a critical thing. Whenever I'm in any sort of negotiation or working on a deal, or whatever it might be, my focus is always around the idea of seeking — you know I spend, it's kind of the old thing about Abe Lincoln's sharpening an axe. But I spend the majority of my time just trying to understand the other party and then very little time after that, if you have a really deep understanding of what they want and what they need, it's really easy to kind of see what the overlaps are.
[00:47:52] AF: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:47:54] MB: One of the other themes that really stuck out to me and was most impactful was kind of the idea of self acceptance, and that I think that and sort of self compassion, self forgiveness. You know we've had a couple episodes that kind of talk about this. The Megan Bruneau episode was really good on that. I think Rick Hansen kind of gets into that and the upcoming — spoiler alert. The upcoming Kamal Ravikant episode, which we've already recorded, was amazing and all of those kind of really touch on that concept, which was something that I really got a lot out of.
[00:48:26] AF: And that kind of, to bring it all the way back to the beginning of a conversation, but forgiveness especially in meditation, and we were trying to practice forgiveness actively. Forgiving yourself is the last step.
[00:48:39] MB: It's really the first step.
[00:48:41] AF: Well, it's the hardest step for sure.
[00:48:42] MB: It's the hardest step. There's no question about that.
[00:48:44] AF: People always say, "You are your hardest critic." And a lot of times you might not meet your own expectations and being able to step in and be like, "You know what? I didn't put my best foot forward there, but I'm going to move forward and next time I'm going to do X," is a really good way of kind of accepting the scenario for what it is, and then forgiving yourself as well.
[00:49:04] MB: Neuroplasticity was another one that that I thought was really kind of an interesting theme that came up again and again in interviews and for listeners who don't know what that is, neuroplasticity is basically the science of how your brain can be physically changed by your thought patterns and one of the core kind of components of that is the idea that this substance called a myelin, which sort of forms around your neural connections. The more you have a thought pattern again, and again, and again these myelin connections build up thicker and thicker, and that makes the connections like run kind of more smoothly and more strongly.
[00:49:37] AF: It's like oil for your car.
[00:49:38] MB: Yeah exactly, and so the more you have recurring thought patterns, the more you build these self reinforcing neural networks that make those thought patterns strong. But what that means is that you can literally reshape the physical structure of your brain with your thoughts and with mind-body interventions like meditation. I thought that was just a fascinating take away and the way that really concretely get's applied is in dealing with things like anxiety and depression. And we've had a couple interviews that have kind of gone into some of the science behind that.
The interview with Dr Alex Korb where, he's a neuroscientist that's studied deeply, specifically kind of the physical brain structure around people who have depression and anxiety and he talks a lot about how, and gives very specific instances of how you can use the science of neuroplasticity to remap your brain. The other interview that goes really deep on that, which was an amazing conversation, was the interview with Rick Hanson. He's such a sharp guy and the title of that interview, again, is kind of one of those titles that doesn't nearly give away all of what we talk about. It's such a rich and detailed conversation.
He goes from you know quoting the Buddha to talking about ego and all kinds of really interesting stuff. The definition of the self, like it goes really deep down the rabbit hole.
[00:51:01] AF: Well, what's interesting about like remapping your brain, your brain is kind of like a muscle. Like you said, you can kind of rewire it to think differently and our brains, and correct me — and I want you to speak to the audience about this. But your brain is kind of hardwired to make you suffer.
[00:51:13] MB: Yeah, in many ways and I mean that's one of the talking points, I think, in the Rick Hanson episode. You know, your brain and this is actually — we're going all the way back to the very first episode of the podcast, which if you guys haven't listened to, it's actually not a bad episode. It's not one with a guest. It's just me rambling on, but it's called The Biological Limits of the Human Mind, and basically what that means is your brain was designed via the process of evolution for one very specific outcome, and that was for you to survive to a reproductive age, right?
Your brain doesn't care about happiness, it doesn't care about you sort of living life and enjoying yourself. The only thing your brain cares about is getting you to a reproductive age so that you can reproduce, right? And so in many ways the evolutionary environment that our brains were designed in over millions of years is completely different from the world that we live in today and that disconnect creates all kinds of suffering and all kinds of unhappiness.
[00:52:11] AF: Well it's like back in the day, Kamal even touched on it. But it's like a snapping twig was something that would like freak out your brain abnormally there to kind of be like, "Oh, is there a tiger over there? do I need to run?" But we really don't have that anymore. So it kind of puts your brain in a weird sort of hyper alert but sensitive state.
[00:52:28] MB: Yeah I mean, we're always looking for threats to our survival, right? From an evolutionary standpoint that makes sense because the way evolution works, and I really — like I think everyone sort of thinks that they understand kind of how evolution functions. But until I read this book probably 10 or 15 years ago called Nonzero by Robert Wright, which we've actually touched on in a previous interview. I don't remember which guest it was, but we had a guest who recommended that as one of their favorite books and I think that book is the single best book that I've ever read that describes two things.
It describes kind of the fundamentals of how game theory works, ironically. Well, when you hear about what it's about it's kind of strange. But, it describes how evolution functions and the book Nonzero, it's called The Logic of human destiny and basically what Robert Wright does is go through the entire evolution of human society. From hunter-gatherer tribes, all the way up through the Internet, and analyzes using game theory as the tool to analyze it and looking specifically around the concept of non-zero sum interactions, how game theory sort of shaped and impacted human civilization, which is a fascinating read. He is really funny, and serious one of my favorite books of all time. But anyway.
[00:53:41] AF: Sorry, I don't want to interrupt.
[00:53:41] MB: No, no. Keep going.
[00:53:42] AF: Alright, so we talked about remapping your brain, right? Like, re-hardwiring your brain. Meditation increases grey matter in the brain. You can keep the nerves sharper, so what are the benefits of this? Like if I do this...
[00:53:54] MB: Before we get into that, the finishing point on the whole thing about Nonzero, which is an amazing book, and you know that like completely Blew apart sort of the way that I understood evolution and before reading that I didn't understand it all. And the way that it functions, like people think that evolution, which is also often called "survival of the fittest" and we talked about this actually in the interview with Dacher Keltner a lot, which is kind of tying all this back in. But people think that evolution is is this thing of like these, you know, whoever's like big and tough and strong is the one who always wins, and that's not what it means.
Literally all that it means is, think of it as like an accidental process, right? It's whoever happens to survive to reproductive age and happens to reproduce passes on the genes that enable them to do that, right? It doesn't have any sort of motivation. It doesn't have any sort of like driving guide that's trying to take it to a particular destination. It's literally just whatever combination of genes and traits got this organism to a reproductive age and got it to reproduce, those exact genes and traits by the nature of the fact that it made it to that point and did reproduce, are the ones that get reproduced. Right?
So if you if you really deeply understand that kind of apply it to humans, we were evolved to be happy. We weren't evolved to be, you know, to take over the planet even or to build societies or to combat social ills or whatever. The only thing we were evolved for was to make it to the age of like 25 or 30-ish and have children and the people who happened to do that the most, happened to pass on their genes, and those are the genes that we got. That was a huge like rant, but...
[00:55:29] AF: No, but that's very interesting is it goes back in and something you touched on, survival of the fittest. I mean, Dacher talks a lot about that and it's not necessarily like the one who can overpower everyone else. It's not like, if I'm bigger, stronger, and faster than you, and that definitely plays a part in it, don't get me wrong. But a lot of how we gain power is by contributing to society.
[00:55:45] MB: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:55:46] AF: Those genes, by contributing you become more well liked and thus you're more part of the community, and as a community you're more likely to survive. So those genes end up getting passed along as well. And of course the whole, you know, the traditional thought of it like the strongest, the fastest is definitely not off. But there's also the component of contributing back to society, being a productive member of the tribe that you're a part of.
[00:56:06] MB: Yeah and I mean again, if you think about that from an evolutionary standpoint it literally means the people who happen to be in a tribal society where they helped and cooperated with each other. Those people were more likely than the people who were inviting and killing each other, to reach a reproductive age. And thus they're more likely to have children that pass on those same traits, right? And so that's how altruism kind of got bred into our genetic makeup, and that's there's actually another book called The Moral Animal, by the same guy, Robert Wright, who wrote Nonezero that delves into that.
But we've talked enough about that whole kind of theme, but it's really fascinating and it goes all the way back to the very first episode of the show where we went deep on how evolution has constrained your brain and move. You know we explain these topics in kind of go deeper into it and the Dacher Keltner interview also, gets really deep on that.
[00:56:54] AF: So, back to the whole remapping your brain, all of that. So what are the benefits? Our brain is obviously hardwired for a world that we don't live in anymore. That we're not really forced to be a part of anymore, and that's the traditional hunter-gatherer survival sort of way. So by remapping the brain, how can we like level up our lives and live in this society better?
[00:57:14] MB: Yeah, well I mean I think the most obvious intervention, and the two or three interviews we have that talk about this, are for people who are struggling and suffering, right? With things like anxiety, things like depression, which are brain states that can either sort of come about or that sort of manifest themselves. You can literally change the physical structure of your brain to remap it so that you can get out of that state of suffering. So I think that's the simplest and easiest application. More broadly, in the meditation episode of the show notes page that specifically, we have so much. There's like 20 studies that are cited there about how meditation adds grey matter to your brain in areas about cognitive processing and decision making and all kinds of stuff.
So I mean I think it's the simplest way to apply neuroplasticity is if you're in pain or suffering, you're dealing with something like depression or anxiety, you can help to restructure your brain and remap it so that you don't suffer from those things. And the larger benefit is, for people who practice the kind of mind-body interventions like meditation, that can reshape the brain then build gray matter in the prefrontal cortex and other areas of the brain. It helps you be more calm, it helps you be more rational, it helps you be a better thinker, it gives you more cognitive processing power.
[00:58:27] AF: Absolutely, which are things I think everybody could benefit from having.
[00:58:30] MB: Alright, well that covers many of our favorite kind of themes, lessons, some of some of the best interviews, and some of the insights we personally kind of got out of all of the incredible conversations that we've had over the last year on the show. You know, I think to kind of wrap up I'd love to just talk about for a second like how much the show has grown in the last year, you know?
[00:58:51] AF: It's been a crazy ride.
[00:58:51] MB: Yeah, it's been a pretty wild 2016. You know, I mean we're up to, I don't even know?
[00:58:56] AF: Almost 700,000.
[00:58:58] MB: Yeah. It's going to be close to 700,000 by the end of the year, and it's been pretty amazing kind of getting there. You know we hit number one New and Noteworthy and we've kind of just continued to fortunately land incredible guests to be on the show and had the amazing privilege of kind of talking to them.
[00:59:14] AF: Yeah, and it's really cool, like we touched on earlier, I mean these are — we're learning with you guys. Like, we're learning with these listeners. It's not like we're the ones doling out this knowledge. We're just as excited for some of these guests as you all are.
[00:59:25] MB: Yeah, absolutely. Maybe more excited.
[00:59:28] AF: True.
[00:59:28] MB: But yeah. I mean I think, to start out, obviously we'd love to to thank all of the amazing guests that we've had on the show. You know, everybody who — we can't name names because there are too many of them. But like just every single guest we've got on has shared incredible wisdom, insights. There has just been so many really fascinating people, really interesting conversations and it's been amazing to have the privilege of talking to these incredible people.
[00:59:52] AF: And so many learnings.
[00:59:54] MB: Yeah.
[00:59:55] AF: I mean, that's really our goal here in the show is to help you guys and to help you all learn and then ultimately make better decisions, take control of your emotions, develop these mental models so that you all can live happier, more fulfilled lives.
[01:00:04] MB: Exactly and I mean those are some of the major — you know, it's funny because those of the major themes that come out of all these conversations and we don't necessarily select guests around those ideas. It's just these are sort of some of the core, fundamental ideas that don't change through time, that keep reoccurring across so many diverse conversations. The reality is, none of this could be possible or would be happening without the listeners, without every one of you and you know we get these amazing emails and stories and it's so great and I really, really appreciate it.
You know, hearing from everybody, and I read and respond to every single person who writes in and it means a lot to us to hear from you and it means the world to us that you listen to the show and we've just been humbled and amazed at the traction the show's had and we're so thankful to every single person who's downloaded and listened to an episode, who's left us a review on iTunes, who's joined our email list. All of those things, and we just hope that you get some kind of value out of this and that it's helping you be happier, be more productive, live a better life, make better decisions. Whatever it is for you that you really want to do, we hope that we can in some small way help you with that.
[01:01:17] AF: Sure, and we welcome your comments your questions if you have something you want to mail in. So don't be shy to say hello.
[01:01:24] MB: Yeah.
[01:01:25] AF: Or share with us something you might be dealing with.
[01:01:26] MB: Yeah, and as I said, I say this on every episode, but my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you if you do want to email in. You know, one of the things that we'd love to see or hear about is, what do you want to see more of? What you want to see in 2017? You know, this was kind of an experimental episode. Did you like this conversation? Do you want more kind of nontraditional, sort of not necessarily interview-esque episodes?
This is your show and you guys you guys are why we create all this content, so tell us what you want and we listen. You know, we've had multiple guests on that were recommendations or suggestions from listeners and we went out and sought them out and interviewed them.
[01:02:10] AF: Sure, and on the production front as well, you can always email me too. It's just email@example.com.
[01:02:14] MS: Yeah, especially anybody who has any media opportunities.
[01:02:21] AF: You know one thing else I'd like to hear, like on a real point, is if you put one of these lessons or mental models or one of these tactics in practice, like I'd love to hear some success stories. If you have a meeting that you just killed it because you were mirroring, and now you're getting ready to play golf with the guy, I'd love to hear it too.
[01:02:35] MS: Yeah, absolutely. We love to hear all kinds of stuff like that. Cool, well I think that kind of wraps up this episode. Like we said at the start, this is just a very informal conversation. We just wanted to sort of talk about some of the big takeaways we had from the show this year and we hope that you've enjoyed it.
[01:02:53] AF: Absolutely. Well, it's good to be on. It's nice to be in the mic.
[01:02:57] MB: Yeah guys, Austin's coming out from behind the curtain, sharing his wisdom.
[01:03:00] AF: The wizard of Oz.
[01:03:01] MB: Dropping some knowledge.
[01:03:02] AF: But once again, thanks so much to all of our listeners.
[01:03:05] MB: Thanks. You guys are the ones that really make this happen.
[01:03:08] MB: Thank you so much for listening to The Science of Success. Listeners like you are why we do this podcast. The emails and stories we receive from listeners around the globe bring us joy and fuel our mission to unleash human potential. I love hearing from listeners. If you want to reach out, share your story, or just say hi, shoot me an email. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you and I read and respond to every single listener email.
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