Category: The Knowledge Project

[Episode 28] The Return of a Decision Making Jedi: My Discussion With Michael Mauboussin

Guess who's back? Back again?
Michael Mauboussin is back, tell a friend.

Mauboussin 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./li>
  • 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.

Listen

Transcript

An edited transcript is available to members of our learning community or for purchase separately ($9).

More Episodes

A complete list of all of our podcast episodes.

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[Episode 27] The Art of Letting Other People Have Your Way: Negotiating Secrets from Chris Voss

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.

Listen

Transcript

A transcript is available to members of our learning community or for purchase separately ($9).

More Episodes

A complete list of all of our podcast episodes.

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Footnotes
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    Image Copyright Kate Haley Photography

[Episode #26] Warren Berger: Improve Your Life by Improving Your Questions

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.

Listen

Transcript

A transcript is available to members of our learning community or for purchase separately ($9).

Show Notes

You've gone from writing about business, then design, and now you're writing about questions. How did you find yourself at this moment in your career? [00:03:12]
Questioning is at the center of design thinking. [00:04:49]
What do you think of the state of freelance journalism today? [00:05:58]
Devaluing of journalistic content [00:07:14]
How do you personally filter and consume journalism and books? [00:08:05]
The enemy of creative: “There's so much media out there now that I feel like it's dangerous…” [00:08:50]
React Mode versus Create Mode [00:09:36]
How do you manage React Modes and Create Modes? [00:10:20]
Creating in a (metaphorical) cave [00:11:07]
“I have no choice, but to actually create something, because otherwise there's nothing else to do.” [00:11:55]
Does React Mode have to be in the morning? [00:12:06]
Find a routine that works for the individual. [00:13:46]
Manager's Schedule versus Creator's Schedule [00:14:32]
How do you make yourself focus? [00:15:59]
How do you say “no” to opportunities? [00:17:14]
The importance of creating sacred time blocks [00:18:06]
What kinds of things do you regret saying “yes” to? [00:18:46]
Using caution when agreeing to travel to event [00:20:09]
How much reading do you do? [00:20:46]
How do you organize your notes while writing a book? [00:21:58]
Organizing printed papers by subject [00:22:19]
Pruning the subject folders as you go [00:23:54]
Being creative on paper – literally [00:24:31]
The need to see everything in front of you at the same time [00:26:01]
Ken Burns' Vietnam documentary [00:27:10]
Getting Schooled by Garrett Keizer [00:27:58]
Do you stop reading if things aren't good? [00:28:58]
What would you say is the smallest habit that you have that makes a big difference? [00:29:32]
The importance of outdoor walking (or any slightly immersive activity) [00:30:04]
“Museums are the custodians of epiphanies.” [00:32:45]
What's the most surprising thing about creativity? [00:33:35]
Creativity and questioning seem to decline as we age. [00:33:59]
“We do not get rewarded for questioning.” [00:37:19]
“Questioning is seen as inefficient.” [00:38:47]
The “uncoolness” of asking questions. [00:39:39]
How “knowledge” gets in the way of asking. [00:40:45]
Innovation is about being the one who asks questions. [00:41:28]
What's the relationship between questions and being more creative? [00:41:41]
“Questioning is a tool that enables us to organize our thinking around what we don't know.” (The Right Question Institute) [00:42:15]
The awareness of what you don't know. [00:42:40]
The importance of questions for innovators in a variety of fields [00:43:45]
How can you coach people to improve their questioning skills? [00:46:07]
“A good question is a question that's rooted in curiosity.” [00:47:10]
The value of the outsider [00:48:43]
Why would an expert ask a novice question? [00:51:20]
What should parent or teacher do when children ask questions all of the time? [00:52:42]
Adults aren't simply “answer machines” for children – but they can be good question coaches [00:53:34]
Ownership of a question [00:54:54]
What do you struggle with more: questioning others or answering others? [00:56:15]
The problem of giving overly definitive answers [00:56:35]
How do you get a group of people to work on the same question? [00:58:19]
What is Collaborative Inquiry? [00:58:37]
Mission Statement or Mission Question (“How might we…?”) [01:00:24]
Who had the most impact on you intellectually when you were young? [01:03:29]
Warren talks about what he learned from the reaction to his book, Glimmer. [01:05:49]
The seeds of success can be found in failure. [01:09:34]
The problem with being “happy” when you fail. [01:11:25]
What's a common piece of advice about creativity that you're not buying? [01:15:38]
Everybody is creative. Don't separate “creatives” and “non-creatives”. [01:16:04]
The backlash to open office culture. [01:18:40]

People and Things Mentioned

Paul Graham
Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War
Getting Schooled by Garrett Keizer

Learn more about Warren on his website, Twitter, and through A More Beautiful Question.

More Episodes

A complete list of all of our podcast episodes.

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[Episode #25] Is Sugar Slowly Killing Us? My conversation with Gary Taubes

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 today’s 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. And please add to the conversation by sharing your thoughts on Twitter or Facebook.

***

Listen

Transcript

A transcript is available to members of our learning community or for purchase separately ($9).

Show Notes

  • What is Gary's daily diet? [00:02:18]
  • Is nutritional science in a worse state when compared to other areas of medical science? [00:03:10]
  • Gary historical take on nutritional science. [00:03:50]
  • What role does genetics pay in obesity and diabetes? [00:07:52]
  • Gary's thought on the Mediterranean diet. [00:09:57]
  • Statistics showing the increase in diabetes. [00:10:50]
  • Slow Motion Disasters [00:12:09]
  • Why are we seeing an increase in diabetes and obesity? [00:13:21]
  • Sugar's transition from luxury to staple. [00:15:49]
  • What sugar does inside our bodies. [00:20:17]
  • Why did diabetes specialists initially think that sugar didn't contribute to diabetes? [00:22:44]
  • How scientists discovered insulin resistance [00:24:48]
  • Why are people so attracted to sugar? [00:29:03]
  • Charles Mann on sugar as an addictive substance [00:32:24]
  • A history of “calories in, calories out” [00:33:43]
  • “Bringing this all back to insulin resistance…” [00:44:45]
  • There is very little discussion of the mechanisms that lead to obesity. [00:46:41]
  • What is the role of fibre? [00:48:42]
  • Denis Burkitt's role in bringing fiber into the conversation on obesity. [00:50:20]
  • The development of technology and the recent interest in gut biomes [00:55:52]
  • What has surprised Gary the most in his own research and exploration [00:57:03]
  • The Nutrition Science Initiative [00:57:53]
  • “If anything, at this point in time, we've done more harm than good.” [00:59:24]
  • What will it take for the nutritional research community to get more rigorous? [01:03:47]
  • How to use the research mindset from physics research to help support nutritional research [01:09:31]
  • What would your harshest critics say about your intellectual honesty? [01:12:39]
  • “I do have one advantage that [research scientists] don't have.” [01:16:16]
  • Will the sugar industry eventually be vilified like the tobacco industry? [01:20:25]
  • What practical tips can somebody take to improve and protect their own health? [01:24:15]
  • How Gary sometimes sees himself as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas [01:25:39]
  • What are the worst starchy vegetables? [01:29:27]
  • What's your take on gluten? [01:29:58]
  • One big problem with nutrition studies [01:32:23]
  • Fasting [01:33:13]
  • Gary's experiments with intermittent fasting [01:37:37]
  • What's the next subject that you're writing about? [01:38:22]

Websites:

Gary's Books:

People, Books, & Articles Mentioned:

***

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[Episode #24] Susan Cain: Leading the “Quiet Revolution”

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.

We cover a lot of ground, including:

  • How to find your “sweet spot” no matter what your stimulation preferences are
  • How to tap into your deepest wells of thought and creativity
  • What “free trait theory” is, and how it can help you accomplish the most important goals in your life
  • The truth about collaboration and it’s effects on the creative process
  • How she and her extrovert husband manage important differences in their life (like stereo volume)
  • How not being honest with your own narrative slows personal growth and development
  • The key to living a meaningful life that energizes and sustains you

And much, much more.

Listen

Transcript

A full transcript is available to members of our learning community or for purchase separately.

Learn More About Susan

You can learn more about Susan on Twitter or by visiting her website.

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[Episode #23] Life Lessons from a Self-Made Billionaire: My Conversation with Ray Dalio

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. His recent TED Talk on the topic of an idea meritocracy has already been viewed over a million times.

Ray gave me over an hour and a half of his time, and I didn’t waste a minute of it. We cover a lot of ground, including:

  • How most people are caught up in the “blizzard” of noise and information, and how Ray learned to operate above it
  • How predicting a financial collapse just before one of the most prosperous eras in US history almost ruined him — and why he’s grateful he was wrong
  • Ray’s meditation practices and a simple exercise you can use to foster more creativity, be more insightful, and eliminate stress
  • The one question Ray started asking himself that instantly improved how he made important decisions
  • Why the best decision isn’t always the one you have in your head — and how to know when to sacrifice your favorite ideas in exchange for the best ideas
  • The “two yous” that wrestle inside everybody, and how to help them get along
  • Why “tough love” is the greatest gift you can give somebody
  • The most common mistake we make every day that can bring our progress to a screeching halt
  • The five-step process Ray uses after a mistake has been made to make sure learning and growth occur

And much, much more.

Look, when you get the chance to ask one of the world’s most successful people how they did it, you should probably listen to what they have to say. I guarantee this will be time well spent.

Enjoy!

Listen

Transcript

A full transcript is available to members of our learning community or for purchase separately.

Show Notes

Ray tells the story of punching his boss in his face. [00:02:34]
What a typical day is like for the manager of the world's largest hedge fund [00:04:00]
Shane asks Ray how he filters what's valuable and what's noise when so many people throw information at him [00:05:25]
How Ray came to Transcendental Meditation [00:06:24]
The basics of Transcendental Meditation [00:07:05]
Ray's biggest influences in the 1960s,1970s, and 1980s [00:10:01]
Reading versus experiences [00:11:39]
How did Bridgewater almost go bankrupt? [00:12:04]
One of the most valuable experiences of his life [00:14:40]
The value of thoughtful disagreement and radical open-mindedness [00:15:40]
Learning to look at history for knowledge [00:16:41]
How to use a decision journal [00:18:14]
How long did it take you to figure out the value of stress-testing ideas? [00:20:15]
Idea-meritocratic decision-making is the best decision-making [00:21:36]
There are two things you need to do to be successful [00:21:55]
Thoughtful disagreement is not an easy thing for people [00:22:22]
What is an idea meritocracy? [00:22:43]
The difference between an autocratic decision maker and a democratic decision maker [00:23:50]
What is believability? [00:25:13]
How do people transition into an idea meritocracy? [00:26:44]
The equal values of meaningful work and meaningful relationships [00:29:16]
How can you tell that someone will respond well to an idea meritocracy? [00:30:19]
Understanding whether you're a teacher, student, or peer [00:32:27]
What advice would you have for somebody who doesn't work in an idea meritocracy but wants to improve? [00:33:49]
Are people more successful at Bridgewater with some experience or straight out of school? [00:35:42]
Which one of the principles of an idea meritocracy is most often misunderstood? [00:36:45]
Why is “tough love” one of the best gifts you can give somebody? [00:38:12]
Has your implementation of the principles of idea meritocracy changed over the years? [00:39:44]
What technology tools do you use to aid in decision-making or giving feedback? [00:40:32]
“Pain + reflection = progress” [00:42:04]
Can you define a culture of radical transparency? [00:45:06]
Radical transparency isn't for everybody [00:46:27]
Due to technology, radical transparency is happening anyway [00:47:40]
When radical transparency goes wrong, how does it go wrong? [00:48:49]
The importance of environment [00:49:17]
“There's no disagreement about strengths…” [00:52:03]
How do you foster open-mindedness in yourself or in others? [00:52:33]
Are social gatherings similar to work gatherings? [00:54:05]
The two things that Ray requires in a relationship [00:55:36]
Do other organizations like Bridgewater? [00:56:17]
Is leadership innate or can it be learned? [00:57:43]
The leadership program at Bridgewater [00:59:55]
Who are the masterminds behind the development program at Bridgewater? [01:01:05]
“2017 is going from the second stage of my life to my third stage…” [01:02:55]
The three life stages [01:03:14]
Does Ron worry about the next generation of leadership at Bridgewater? [01:04:43]
How do the principles at Bridgewater extend to philanthropy? [01:06:13]
In what ways will the future be the same as today? [01:09:13]
First-order versus second-order consequences [01:12:11]
With the growth of algorithmic thinking, who is at risk of losing their job? [01:14:08]
Machine-created art versus human-created art: does it matter? [01:15:10]
What's the most common mistake that successful people make? [01:15:53]
Why are many successful people unhappy? [01:16:31]
The connection between community and happiness [01:18:12]
How would a Universal Basic Income interact with a person's need for purpose? [01:19:37]
Ray's wife's experiences with low-income schools and disengaged students [01:20:58]
What is the overarching decision-making process at Bridgewater? [01:23:28]
“Rather than thinking about what our decision is, we spent more time thinking about what our criteria for making our decision are.” [01:23:54]
Ray's five steps to success [01:25:58]
Is the reflection process the most important? [01:27:41]
What advice would you give to a class of high school students? [01:28:33]

People, Events, and Books

Ray’s TED Talk
Bridgewater Associates
President John F. Kennedy
Steve Jobs
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mexican Debt Crisis
Vince Lombardi
Adam Grant and his book Originals
Robert Keegan and his book, An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization
Warren Buffett

Learn More About Ray

You can learn more about Ray on Twitter and Facebook or by visiting his website, www.principles.com.

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