It was a solid year for me, but it was an even better year for podcasting. Even with all the amazing podcasts out there, there’s one I’d recommend over the field. To business leaders, investors and managers, this podcast is the must-listen. In 2018, it’s actually changed my life, making me a better thinker, leader, and doer.
The Knowledge Project
The Knowledge Project podcast, started by Shane Parrish at Farnam Street, is freakishly good. I’ve been a big fan of Shane and his blog since 2016 when I became a paid member of his learning community. A few of his blog posts are required reading for leaders, especially this one and this one. He focuses on optimizing how people make decisions, which sounds simple, until most of us realize we’re actually bad at making decisions. Like, really bad.
So why is the Knowledge Project so good? Well, Shane is exceptional at asking the right questions. One of his listeners states, “Shane asks the right questions and never interrupts or talks too much. His guests are the stars in this show, and it’s amazing.”
But more importantly, Shane cuts the crap and goes deep with his guests. Real deep. With some episodes reaching the two-hour mark that sounds impossible, but it’s just a testament to the level of thinking at play. There’s no fluff here.
Start with these Goodies
Instead of trying to sell you on the whole series, let me get you started with a few Hall of Fame episodes. Grab your headphones and get started now. You’ll thank me later.
Episode 18: Angel Philosopher: Naval Ravikant on Investing, Making Decisions, Happiness and the Meaning of Life
Umm ok, where do I start? First off, Naval is super smart and accomplished, yet remains incredibly humble. The dude challenges the status quo on so many things. The podcast is full of contrarian viewpoints on everything from reading and happiness to group activities. One of my favourite quotes from the episode is on his viewpoint of group settings.
“Only the individual transcends. Nobody reaches enlightenment or internal happiness or does serious internal work in group settings. It is a very lonely kind of task. To some extent, I think that people who are constantly looking for social affirmation in their internal work aren’t that serious about it. It’s fine. I’m not judging. They’re craving more social interaction than they are really craving internal work.”
Chris Voss is the former Lead International Kidnapping Negotiator for the FBI. He’s also the author of Never Split the Difference which offers hands-on negotiation training. Within 5 minutes of listening to this episode, I bought Chris’ book. The negotiation tactics he teaches are scary effective. With his advice, I made some slight tweaks to how I approach negotiations and was blown away by the results. One of the most effective tools he explains is deference:
“Deference is this great tool for 360 degrees of influence. If someone perceives themselves to be superior to you and you’re deferential to them, they love it because they think that they’re entitled to it, so it makes them very happy. If you’re on a peer level with them and you treat them with deference, they love it because you didn’t have to, and they felt tremendous respect and appreciation for it. If you’re subordinate to them in any way and you’re deferential to how they feel, they love it even more, and they’re wonderfully appreciative of it because you didn’t have to do it, and they see you as being a very generous, gracious, and nurturing person.”
I’m really skeptical when it comes to leadership coaches and experts. But Jennifer Garvey Berger blew my mind. I immediately implemented a few of her tactics at Stryve with great success. In this episode, it was Jennifer’s approach to real leadership that made me rethink how I needed to act as a leader:
“A charismatic leader, when he walks into the room or she walks into the room, makes you feel good about her or him. I walk into the room and I’m a charismatic leader and you think, Wow! and you think about that person. A great leader, I think—that great leader walks into the room and you feel bigger. You don’t think, Wow! What a great leader. You think, Wow! I’m willing to say this thing. I feel more comfortable on my own skin. I’m just having ideas I haven’t had before. A great leader makes other people better.”
Shopify founder and CEO Tobi Lütke is a rockstar in my books. Aside from the monumental success he’s had building Shopify, he’s a very deep and thoughtful business strategist. Every line in this episode carried a tremendous amount of insight. My favourite quote is about Shopify’s humble beginnings when they were barely making payroll. Lütke explains how that experience is beneficial for companies:
Oh, yeah. I mean, you just have to…I had to learn to make every dollar count. It’s a hard habit to shake. You know, I actually think it’s one of those kinds of lessons that you get deprived of if you go straight to a startup accelerator and then go in to get the series A funding with not a lot of effort. Every company that’s being funded, you’re going to get a lot more of whatever they were already doing. So, if the company at this point of getting funding was already good at making every dollar count, really understood its market, then you kickstart a story that produces almost 100% growth for a very extended period of time, and in some cases, you’re actually fueling some completely different behaviour. I think it helps a lot.
It’s the perfect time of year to dive into a new podcast. Queue up these episodes for the holiday drive to your in-law’s or rock the headphones to tune them out. If self-improvement is on the shortlist of New Year’s Resolutions, consider this the first step.