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The Stories Behind 15+ Million Copies Sold, Lessons from Will Smith, Personal Reinvention, and More | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "The Stories Behind 15+ Million Copies Sold, Lessons from Will Smith, Personal Reinvention, and More".
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Hello boys and girls, ladies and germs. This is Tim Ferriss. Welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferriss Show, where it is my job to deconstruct world class performers. From all different walks of life, all different arenas to tease out the habits, lessons learned, etc. that you can apply to your own lives. My guest today, long overdue, is Mark Manson. You can find him all over the webs, including on Twitter @immarkmanson. Mark is a three time number one New York Times best selling author of the subtle art of not giving a fuck. Maybe you've heard of it as well as other titles. His books have sold nearly 220 million copies worldwide and have reached number one in more than a dozen countries. Since 2008, he has written articles at markmanson.net. One of the largest personal development blogs in the world with more than a million monthly readers. In 2023, a feature film about him and his work will be released in theaters by Universal Pictures. We'll link to everything in the show notes as per usual at Tim Not Blog/podcast. Mark, welcome to the show.
Mark'S Career Journey And Collaborations
Difficult changes and modified default behaviors. (01:13)
Nice to see you. It's a pleasure. Happy to be here. I read this profile of you in New York mag and it shared many different stories and I want to dig into maybe certain aspects of that. But what I'd be curious to hear just off the cuff because a lot has happened in your life in the last five to seven years. What have been some of the most difficult changes to get accustomed to or default behaviors to modify now that your reality has changed? Oh, man. I mean, I feel like we could do the entire show just on this. You could probably do an entire episode. Maybe you could get an all-star guest list of what people don't tell you about success. Yeah. Let's do it. The most surprising thing and the most difficult thing at the same time was in "Suttle R" not giving a fuck came out in 2016. It hit number one early 2017 and by mid 2017, it was just off to the races. I think it sold two or three million copies just that year. And for me, it was very strange. I mean, obviously, there was a lot of happiness and joy, but for me, it was very strange because as a young author with their first traditionally published book, I had all of these long-term goals and dreams and visions for myself of like, I'm going to be writing until I'm 50. And maybe one day I'll be on the Times list. And maybe one day I'll get invited on a morning show. And I hit all those dreams in like three months, basically. And so my surprise is that there was just this profound kind of emptiness on the other side of that of, "Oh shit, what do I dream now? "Like what do I hope for in my future?" And so very unexpectedly, it kind of, I spiraled into a little bit of a funk, like a little bit of a depression. And the worst thing about that type of depression is nobody wants to hear you talk about it. There's no tears shed. Yes, no sympathy whatsoever. Like, "Oh, boo hoo, poor author. "Sole three million books or whatever." So it really caught me off guard. And there was a little bit, you know, there was imposter syndrome, which I think comes with any sort of monumental success. There was a little bit of, "What do I do now? "Like how do I follow this up?" A lot of insecurity of, "Am I ever going to do anything "this meaningful or noteworthy again?" And I struggled with that for a number of years. And that was just kind of on the emotional and personal side that doesn't even get into like relationships and money. I feel like it's almost like a prerequisite to being quote unquote wealthy is you have to spend money on something stupid that you regret. I just feel like that is a non-negotiable. You're not really wealthy until you've done that at some point. So I went through a couple of those experiences. - It would be the most notable. - Fucking house. You know, the funny thing about me is I'm very minimalist. I'm very Spartan. I don't really like to have a lot of possessions, but for some reason when it was time to buy a house, I'm like, "You know what? "Let's just get all the rooms." You know, I have nothing to put in them, but let's get them all. And that was just an unbelievable mistake that really made my life a headache for a while. So.
Be careful what you wish for. (04:52)
- What are some of the things, and just so people listening understand where I'm probably going with this? There is a meandering path, but there is a path, is I want to talk about the present tense, and then I'm going to rewind and do a, I don't want to call it a life review, but look at some of the trajectory, at least insofar as I've been able to, observe it in the course of watching you do what you've done from the sidelines, but also having done research for the conversation. So present tense though, building on what we were just talking about. What are some of the things you thought you wanted, or needed that you got, and you're like, "Huh." "Huh." Hmm. - I would say actually the biggest thing, and this is kind of a broad thing, but I think you and I are very similar in that we started as online blog guys, and I think when you come up in the internet world, even if you amass a very large audience, at least for me, there was always a little bit of this chip on my shoulder of like, I'm not a real writer, like I don't have an article in a magazine, there hasn't been a profile on me in a newspaper, and there seemed to be kind of like an invisible wall between me and that world. And so for a number of years, I really, really wanted that, for lack of a better term, mainstream media attention, just kind of like that nod of respect, of like, "Yeah, kid, you did it." And when I started getting that, and started working and engaging with a lot of legacy media, I was like, "Wow, this sucks. "I miss my blog, I miss the emails from my readers." Like, "I don't wanna do this, this is such a pain, "and yes, we have like the Zoom calls with 11 people on them, "and I don't know who half the people are." That's been a pretty eye-opening thing in the last few years.
How Mark’s feature film deal came to be. (06:59)
- And to flesh out the current state, most people this thing will have heard about universal pictures. Or have some passing familiarity. Oh, maybe I saw that at the beginning of a movie, I think. Yes, you did. Not a small entity. And I would love to know how this feature film came to be. How did it come together? And related to that, what does your current team look like? Not only including any full-time employees, but also agents, managers, et cetera. Just what does that constellation look like? - The film I kind of forced dumped my way into. After the book blew up, a bunch of studios started sending offers to my agent. - For sure. To your book agent. - Yes, to my book agent. And I know you know this, but for everybody else, it's pretty common for film and TV studios to buy up rights to best-selling books without any intention of actually doing anything with them. It's kind of just like a land grab. Just in case, so-and-so director one day is like, I love that book, I wanna do a thing with it. They already own it. So out of all these offers that came through, there was some pretty off-the-wall stuff. There was some stuff that I couldn't ever imagine myself doing. And I told my agent, I said, if we do any of these deals, it's really important. The only reason I think I'm ever gonna do a film or a TV show is to simply spread these same ideas to people who don't read books. Like to me, that's the only reason to do this. So when the offer for a documentary came through from a production company that specializes in documentaries and has done a bunch of them based on books before, to me, it just seemed like a very logical fit. I was like, okay, if I was to ever have a movie that is the kind of project that I would do, I would feel good about. My agent told me, she said, these things never get made, don't get your hopes up. I was like, okay, cool, I don't really, I've never had any ambition, have a movie or be in the movies. So I was like, cool, kind of forgot about it. Like a year and a half goes by and I get a phone call and it's the production company. And they're like, guess what? We got financed by Universal. And I was like, okay, what does that mean? And they're like, you're gonna have a movie, you idiot. You wanna be at it, you know? And I was like, sure, why not? And then from there, you know, next thing I know, I'm on a plane, I'm flying down to New Zealand, I'm meeting with the production company, I'm meeting with directors. Was New Zealand due to COVID? Is that why it was in New Zealand? Yes, it was. So originally we were gonna do it, the production company was actually based in New Zealand, but we were originally gonna do it in New York. But then when COVID happened, I used it also as an opportunity to just get the hell away from COVID. So during this whole process, they're telling me we're gonna have a theatrical release, we're gonna take it to festivals, we're gonna do this, we're gonna do that. And I don't know, like I, maybe we, and I'm sure we're gonna talk about Will later, but maybe from being around Will, I just kind of became jaded of like Hollywood people. I was just like, yeah, sure, while not really believing it. And sure enough, we're a month out, and it's coming out, it's gonna have a limited theatrical release, it's gonna be available online. And I seem to be the one who's like, wait, this is actually happening. It's one of those projects that I can't take a ton of credit for consciously like navigating myself into. Like I don't have like, you know, the three bullet points of like how to get your movie made. I wish I did, but you know. - Step one, have they unexpected global bestsellers? Step one, sell two notebooks. - Wait for a lot of inbound. - Yeah, not very reproducible.
The teamwork that makes Mark’s dream work. (11:00)
In terms of your question about team, so I have my agent at CAA, and she's phenomenal, she's amazing. And the amazing thing about her being at CAA is that it opens up all these crossover opportunities into film, into TV. It's how I ended up doing Will's book, or a big part of why I ended up doing Will's book. So she's great. I have my web team, which is four full time people. I have a researcher, I have a content guy. That is his official title content guy, 'cause it's just, he just wears a lot of hats and he kind of makes everything run. I have a tech developer, tech slash development guy, and then I have a social media manager. It's all in house, everything we do is in house, all the design, the tech stuff, the promotion, the marketing, everything. We use a few freelancers if we're doing video content, stuff like that, but yeah, that's the team right now. - Number of follow questions on this, the web team, you said four full time people. Now is that including the researcher content guy, tech, and social, or is that in addition to, so you end up having seven or eight full time folks? - No, those are the four positions. - I see, I see, I see. God, I've got it. What does the researcher do? I mean, I know they do research, but what type of research? - I don't have a graduate degree in psychology, yet I consistently find myself in this sticky situation of having to say something that feels somewhat authoritative. I mean, I'm sure you're in this position a lot too. - Yeah, sure. - So at a certain point, I just went out and hired people with graduate degrees in psychology and said, "Look, can you just make sure I'm not putting my foot in my mouth or giving terrible advice?" So a lot of times I'll go to her and I'll say, I've been thinking about an article on say the negative side effects of self-esteem. Can you go out there, find all the research and data? What are the studies? Are they good studies? Were they done well? And then just summarize it for me. And then if I want to dig into it with her, I can. She's been invaluable. It's almost like outsourcing a piece of my brain, somebody. It's been very helpful. - And I'm asking about the team out of personal curiosity, of course, but also because I enjoy and benefit from hearing how people think about teams. For instance, I'll give you an example. Kevin Kelly, arguably the most interesting man in the world, people should look him up, kk.org, also the author of a famous article called "1,000 True Fans," which I encourage everybody to read. And he said to me once, they explained to me rather that he has an assistant and then he has a researcher, but they are not the same person. And he said in his experience very often to optimize for one or the other, you will find that they are somewhat mutually exclusive. In other words, the traits are somewhat mutually exclusive. Now, I don't know if I agree or disagree with that, but it was an interesting observation based on the pattern recognition from someone I respect, right? So how did you choose full-time versus contractor or internal versus external? It'll be another way to put it, I suppose. - Some of this is personal preference. I like working long-term with people. I like finding exceptional talent, paying them very well, and then sticking with them over a long period of time. So I've never had an employee leave. And two of my guys, one's been with me for 10 years, one's been with me for almost nine, and then the other two have been with me for about three or four, which in the web world is crazy. That's like crazy talk. - Yeah, it's an eternity. - I have entrepreneur friends with online businesses, and they look at me and they're like, "Are you nuts?" You're like, "You could pay these people half as much." And I'm like, "Yeah, but I'd be hiring every six months." - It'd be a fasting bargain. Yeah, you'd be paying for it with your time. - Exactly. And I also just, there's something to be said with the trust and loyalty. I don't know how you measure that, but there's the trust and loyalty that comes with working with somebody for 10 years. So we just, two days before we're recording this, we completely redesigned my site and relaunched my newsletter. It was a multi-month project, and I know, like the guys that I have, I know I don't have to look over the shoulder. I know they're gonna get it done. I know it's gonna be well done. And a lot of that is simply because I've been with them for so long, and they've been with me for so long. - Yeah, I feel the same way, which is why I have full-time team.
Sourcing talent. (16:04)
In addition to contractors, I do use freelancers and contractors. How did you find the members of your team? And we don't necessarily have to go one by one, but do you have a particular approach to sourcing talent? - Yes. So I've always, always find them through my email list and my subscribers. I've tried through kind of conventional job searching venues, and I just, you get so much extra leverage from, I guess, the fan relationship. Generally, every time I ask for applications through my own audience, the people who apply are almost comically overqualified, and the talent level is through the roof, and a lot of that is just, they love my work, they've been reading it for years, and that earns you a lot of cloud. - It does, that makes sense. And do you mail out a link to a page with a job description? You just simply put it at the end of one of your newsletters, like, hey, by the way, I'm looking for this, is it dedicated? How do you do it? - I will create a temporary page for the position. I usually go through three steps. So I have the initial application, it asks for the generic stuff, resume, cover letter. I'll usually ask a few cute questions in there. What are your three favorite books? What was the last risk that you took, major risk you took in your life, and what happens? Things like that, although, as the years have gone on, I'm discovering that those questions aren't really great filters. So I'll do that, that's kind of the first round, I'll get hundreds and hundreds of applications, and then I narrow it down to, say, 20 to 30 people. - Do you review all of those yourself? - So sometimes I will have a team member kind of go through and just be like-- - Pick the highlights. - Yeah, or anything that doesn't, 'cause I'll set standards on the application page. So I'll tell them, like, anything that doesn't meet the application standards, like, just kick out. So this most recent round of hiring, I'm hiring a video team to start doing more video content, and I asked for at least three years of professional full-time experience in some form of, you know, whether it's TV, film, YouTube, whatever. And sure enough, you get 200 applications from people who have never held a camera before, but, you know, they're really ready to learn, they can't wait to learn, Tim. It's nice to have somebody to kind of just go and mark those all red for me. - They want a scholarship ride to graduate school at Manson University. - Exactly, exactly. So I'll filter those down to 20 to 30 strong candidates, people who meet the requirements and seem smart and talented and driven. And then I'll actually give them a few small pieces of work to do, like example, tasks, similar to what the position is hiring for, and I'll give them a deadline to meet it at. And it's always funny because there's always at least two or three people who immediately complain about this, and they say, you know, this is slave labor, you're taking advantage of us, you know, you're using us to crowdsource ideas for yourself, which is silly 'cause, I mean, I understand why they think that, but I think anybody who is in our industry understands that ideas aren't the thing that matter. - Yeah, and so, you know, from that, I'll narrow it down to three to five people, and then those people I'll do face-to-face zoom interviews until I find the one that feels like the right fit. - What are you looking for in the interviews? - By the time they get to the interview, they've basically shown that they are completely qualified to do the work, they're probably gonna do a great job. The interviews for me, it's 99% looking for intangibles, looking for personality, character. I usually try to get a sense of what their values are, get a sense of how resilient they are, how do they take responsibility for themselves, a little bit about their background, things like that, but also just like, do I get along with them? Do I like talking to them? Do we have a sense of humor that meshes well? Things like that. - Makes sense.
How Mark knew he’d found the right agent. (20:56)
Last question on the team, and there's a point to all of this people listening, part of which is just satisfying my own interest. Big, big part of which, but CAA, this agent, there are a lot of agents, and you've got quite a few three-letter acronyms to choose from, right? You've got CAA, WME, UTAA, and there are many other boutique agencies and so on. A lot of people out there who could ostensibly probably do a pretty good job, many who would promise the moon to do a terrible job, but how specifically did you decide on this agent that you work with at CAA? - So my blog blew up in 2014, 2013, 2014. It kind of went from maybe 100,000 readers to a million, million and a half. And around that time, agents and publishers started coming knocking, asking if I wanted to turn some of my work into a book. And so I had a number, and at that time, again, homegrown internet guy, I self-published my first book. I've been selling online courses since 2010. I've always had a little bit of an irrational, like I wanna do it myself, mentality, but back then I had a very, very irrational I wanna do it myself, mentality. So a lot of my calls with these editors and agents was basically me just being a bit of a dick and being like, why should I publish a book at all? Why shouldn't I just self-publish? I get way more royalties or whatever. And it was funny because pretty much everybody in the publishing industry kind of stumbled over that question. They couldn't really give me a satisfying answer. So my agent, her name's Molly. At the time she wasn't at CAA, she was at a small boutique agency in New York. So I get on the phone with her, and we start having a conversation, and she's constantly interrupted me, she's constantly talking over me. She's very aggressive and assertive to the point that I'm getting a little bit uncomfortable talking to her. And so I throw out my gotcha question. Like, why should I even publish a book at all? I could self-publish a book and keep all the royalties for myself. And she kind of sat there silently, and she was like, well, figure out what the hell you wanna do, stop wasting my time, call me if you wanna publish a book, and like, hung up on me. I was like, god damn, all right. And a couple hours go by, and I start thinking to myself, I'm like, that's who I want bargaining on my behalf. If I have a six or seven figure negotiation with somebody, like, I want her on my team. So I called her back and I said, I'm in. And she's a total rock star in her field. And it was again, Forrest Gump moment. So right before subtle art came out, she called me and she said, hey, I just wanna let you know I'm moving to a new agency, nothing's gonna change, going over to CAA. And I was like, oh, cool, what's CAA? And she was like, you know, kind of like thought I was joking, I guess. She didn't answer me. And I remember like, I, I Googled CAA. And if you go to their website, it just has like a snail mail address. There's like literally nothing on the website. - There's nothing. So for folks wondering, if they don't know, it's Creative Artists Agency. It's one of the largest, I suppose we could call it, talent agencies in the world. They represent a lot of the top tier A grade celebrities you would recognize. - Yeah, and it was maybe a week later, I was talking to my editor and he was, he goes, hey, congrats. And I was like, for what? And he goes, Molly, Molly moving to CAA. I was like, yeah, why are you telling me congrats? And he just looked at me like, I was the biggest fucking idiot. I was like, he's like, he's like, Matt's in, you just won the lottery. - Speaking of winning lottery, let's talk about, and this is gonna be a bit of a strained metaphor, but putting yourself in a position where at least you have a chance at winning the lottery.
From Entropy to F*ckery. (24:58)
And I'm gonna further confuse matters by reading a paragraph from a Wikipedia entry on a video game. And this will hopefully make some sense for people within a second. There's a video game called, and I don't know how it's pronounced in English actually, but kata-mari-dama-si in English, but in Japanese it's kata-mari-dama-si, and which literally means clump spirit. And the reason I learned about this video game was in a presentation by Matt Cutz, who at the time was at Google, and he was giving a presentation, I think it was at the state of the word or an annual WordPress meetup. I could be getting those specifics wrong, but I was there. And he described how he observed people building audiences over time. This is where we're gonna go through the looking glass and go back in time with your story. But here's the plot, this is directly from Wikipedia. The game plot concerns a diminutive prince, I'm not saying you're a diminutive prince, but the game plot concerns a diminutive prince on a mission to rebuild the star's constellation in Moon, which were inadvertently destroyed by his father, the king of all cosmos. This is achieved by rolling a magical, highly adhesive ball called a kata-mari around various locations, collecting increasingly larger objects. This is the key part, ranging from thumbtacks to human beings to mountains until the ball has grown large enough to become a star. Goes on and on. So that's kata-mari-damashi, at least in Japanese. I suspect they changed the spelling, D-A-M-A-C-Y so they could trademark it. But that's a side note. All right, Matt's point was, when you first start, you are generally in the success stories he has seen starting very small with a ball that's rolling up thumbtacks. And then eventually it gets a little bit bigger and you move to larger objects and then you get to humans and you get to mountains and so on. And I thought maybe we could start, if you're open to it, with you telling the backstory on a character, maybe not a character, a person named Entropy. Could you explain who Entropy is or was? And then walk us through the development because it seems to parallel this video game in actually a very similar way that my trajectory has mirrored this video game in a sense, the metaphor at least. So Entropy. Who is Entropy? - Oh God, well, ironically enough, it was originally my gaming handle when I was in high school. But it was my, I guess you call it a pseudonym of my first blog. I started blogging, my roommate had a blog in college. And he and I, the pickup artist thing was popular at the time. And so there was a lot of kind of writing store, like, oh, I went on a date last weekend, this is what happened. And my him and another friend of mine were kind of always egging me to start a blog, dude, start a blog. And it was really just because, you know, we already each other's stories and stuff and they wanted to read mine. So that's actually how it first started. Was just me, my roommate, like peer pressuring me into sharing stupid drunk things I did. - And what year is this roughly? - This was 2007. - 2007. - Okay. - I was 23 and doing things that 23 year olds do. And there was really no, again, forest gumping my way into it, right? Like there's no ambition or at that stage, there was no ambition or kind of vision for this. Like it's just the cool thing that my friends want me to do. And I enjoyed it too. I found that was kind of actually the first point in my life that I discovered like, hey, it's really fun to sit down and write something just because you enjoy it, not because it's a term paper or whatever. So that went on for about a year. And I don't think, you know, the quote unquote readership was probably never more than a dozen people. But then something strange started happening, which is people that I had never met started reading it and commenting on it. And I have no idea how these people found me or where they came from. And that was a little bit mind-blowing to me. And it was around that time I started to get very curious. This also coincides, I was just out of school. The great recession was going on so there were no jobs at anywhere. I was basically living on a friend's couch. And it kind of opened up this idea of like, hey, there's internet stuff you can do. Like you can, this blogging thing is that actually a thing. You can promote products and get commissions. You can put ads on your site. Like you can make a little bit of jump change if you think about it and are strategic about it. And this is, so this story is gonna lead to you, Tim. I gotta warn you. So I started getting curious about, I guess you would call it, like kind of the online marketing, online blogging world. And it was around that time I discovered for our work week, I think it had just come out or been out for like a year or something. - Yeah, that was April 2007, it came out. Seems like a lifetime ago. - Yeah. So I found that and I read it. So to your credit, I read that book and it blew open my mind in terms of like, what the possibilities were. I was just like, oh my God, you could do all sorts of shit online and automate this stuff. And oh my God, I'm gonna be living in Argentina and this is gonna be great. So like, I'm like, sign me up, dude. Like, let me, here I'll go bot Argentina. - Argentina, here I come. - Exactly. So I had a very love hate experience with that book, but in hindsight, both were good. So the love side of it was, it just opened my mind to so many possibilities. The hate side of it was, I thought it was gonna be so much easier. I thought, like, the way you describe some of those examples of like, oh yeah, this was like a month tops. Like, you know, meanwhile, a year and a half later, I'm still grinding like 12 hours a day. So, you know, I went through a period of like, God damn that Tim Ferriss, like, what the hell was I thinking? You and I have had a complicated relationship. You're not aware of most of it, but. - Oh, dummy. - No, no, I mean, it was a difficult, but very, very rewarding period in terms of just trying all these different websites and blogs and SEO pages and AdSense pages and 90% of it doesn't work. And then the 10% that works, like, you're making, it brings in 100 bucks a month. And you're like, okay, well, if I can just do 10 more of those, maybe that gets me somewhere. And so it was one of those grinds that you look back with like some nostalgia and like, you know, there's a little bit of romance to it. Like, I would never, I don't think I'd ever be able to stomach it today, but as a broke 25 year old, I'm really proud of it. - And what was the website or the primary websites at the time? - Oh man. So back then, Google was rewarding blogs. And the idea was you build up a blog, you create a bunch of articles about whatever the topic is. You get a little bit of traffic, and then you either put ads or do like affiliate links. So I had a blog for like, Feng Shui, I had a blog for teeth whitening strategies. I had a blog for, I kind of am trying to remember, oh, like bartending, like mixology and bartending. Keep in mind, like half this stuff I didn't actually know anything about. I just googled other stuff and rewrote it. Not the greatest work I've ever done, but in a way it was putting in the hours. And meanwhile, I had the entropy blog, which was still writing about my dating life. And ironically, I guess I had to learn this the hard way. That was the thing that actually caught traction, because it was the thing that I actually cared about. And I actually thought about a lot from my day to day. - And probably also enjoyed writing about more so than teeth whitening and Feng Shui. - Yeah, a hundred times more. - Not to knock either one of those. - Gonna get a lot of Dennis Haidt mail coming to you. - I don't wanna nift the teeth whitening, young adults, novel writers out there. - Yeah, right. - So that's what started to take off. And I kind of found myself, you know, in college I dabbled in the pickup artist stuff. And as my blog started to get accepted in those circles, guys started asking me to coach them. They wanted to do calls, they wanted to meet up with me. You know, they wanted to bring me down to New York and go out the bars with me. And as a guy with nothing else going on, that was really enticing. It was really exciting. And so I kind of got sucked into that world for about, I'd say a year, year and a half. And then was pretty strongly turned off by it. It felt very, obviously there was a lot of toxic advice in that industry, but also just the dynamics of, everything was so performative, you know? Like it, nobody actually really cared if you were having a good time or not. Nobody cared if the woman you met was really smart or interesting or funny. You know, it was just like, did you make out with her? Did you get her phone number? No, all right, you're not on the scoreboard tonight. You know, like that was kind of the extent of their thinking. And so I started to become pretty grossed out by it. But also at the same time, I realized that there was very much an opportunity to integrate some of those more healthy emotional elements into it. So I rebranded my website, my blog, my little blog as practical pickup. I started using my real name. I started promoting honesty, vulnerability, actually giving a shit about who you're talking to instead of just trying to like press the right buttons to get her into bed. And yeah, I guess you would say that was another, like that's when that ball started picking up bigger and bigger items. Started broadening the scope. Let me ask you, you know, this just popped into my head and I'll give a confession first. So if I go back and look at the oldest versions of my blog over time, they're awful, right? Like some of them are really, really hard on the eyes. And that is not what I'm going to say about my question coming right now. But I'm curious, am I making this up that on one of your blogs in the early days, there's a photo of you with like a very low cut, the neck shirt on it? Am I making that up? It just popped into my head. Is that a real thing? I had like a goofy picture of me with like a scarf and sunglasses. It was Tim, you're bringing out like this is the douchey 25 year old. No, no, no, no. I'm not. I want to clarify my intentions here. OK, OK. My intention is to show how this ball works in practice, to use the video game analogy. In the same way that I started with very narrow, at least in the blog capacity, I started a very narrow tech audience focused productivity slot. That's where I focused. And really I was speaking almost directly to people in Silicon Valley, where I lived at the time. It was very, very narrow. And then it expanded and after the success of the first book, realized I didn't want to get painted into the corner of being the X hour work week guy forever. But I had the optionality at that point, which might not come again, to try something totally different because I knew publishers would take the gamble just based on the audience that I built. So I did for our body and then it started to expand from there. And I want to perhaps provide a little bit of historical context also for the time that we're discussing, right? There in 2005, I want to say the game by Neil Strauss came out somewhere around there. And then I want to say was in that same range, she doesn't have five, two thousand six that I hope they serve beer and hell came out by Tucker Max. And no matter what people feel about the content in those books and the subject matter covered, both of those got a lot of young men or, let's say boys on the verge of becoming men. So late adolescence, both writing for the first time. Yeah. And then both authors, you know, Tucker Max and Neil Strauss, ended up doing their own version of rolling this ball afterwards. Right. And so my intention here is to point out in a sense how much went into contributing to where you are today, not saying you would replicate it if you attempted to in the same way. But that's that's why I'm going through this backstory because also and I'm sort of showing the punchline in a sense. And I'd be interested to know if you think this is a fair comment. A lot of folks, especially, I think right now, when they're able to study or at least see supposed case studies of people becoming these overnight successes on platforms like TikTok and so on, they dramatically overestimate what they are capable of doing in three months, but they dramatically underestimate what they would be capable of doing in three years. That's it. Yeah. And that's why we're having this conversation in part, because a lot of folks are like, oh, Mark Manson, that's the settler of not giving a fuck guy. Oh my God, huge mega bestseller. I'm so glad that he did that. And what a genius and you may very well be a genius, but I want to provide the backstory to the genius. If that makes sense for sure. And it is there's 10 years of quiet iteration behind that that big breakthrough. Success. Right. And so going from $100 a month with teeth whitening and Feng Shui to writing a book with Will Smith, like that is it's a dramatic transition, but it's not a one step phase shift, right? It's this sort of incremental build. And that's that's the picture that I'm trying to paint. So when did you go from then the sort of pickup expanded into honesty, vulnerability and then bleeding into relationships to broader advice? So the transitions. Happened. The pickup stuff kind of started 2009. I'd say the honest, the vulnerability stuff in next year, 2010. What and then what I realized, I think in 2012, either late 2012 or early 2013, something really strange happened, which is I realized that like 25, 30% of my audience was female, which is bizarre because I'm explicitly writing men's dating advice and it is written in a way that it's like dudes in a locker room talking to each other. But a lot of I kept getting emails from women saying, you know, I don't relate to this or that, but this advice you gave about boundaries is the best thing I've ever heard. It's better than any female advice that I've ever seen. I I started getting email after email of that. So it it occurred to me that it no longer made sense to limit myself to simply writing writing for men. And so I took that step the further step of just rebranding to just my name. I'm going to write about. For everybody and initially it was mostly dating relationship advice, but the other kind of thing I started to notice around that time as well. By then I had been writing dating and relationship stuff for like five years. And when you really dig down into it, there's no such thing as a dating problem. Like every dating problem is simply a personal emotional slash trauma slash bag baggage problem for sure is manifesting as a dating problem. Human problem. It's just a human problem. So I was like, you know, I don't really think it's valuable for me to sit here and, you know, write things like top five first date locations, you know, whatever. I should be talking about this deeper level stuff because that is what everybody seems to be struggling with. So that was also part of the transition of getting into, I guess, what you would call more traditional personal development topics. If we then flash forward, so we have this like blurry, Austin powers kind of transition and we end up, I believe, tell me if I'm getting this right January 8th, 2015.
Learning the subtle art of strategic F-bombing. (42:59)
I may be getting this right blog posts, 2,354 words, I believe. So this is, this is the big one. This is the mother load. And my question is. Before the blog post became the subtle art of not giving a fuck, what other names did you consider for that? If you even remember, and or how did you just end up with title because I, you think a lot about word smithing and crafting and I know you spent time on this. And I know you have spent a lot of time thinking about headlines and titles. So what was the process of getting to that? So there's not really a way to answer that without kind of going back a little bit and talking about what that era of social media was and what kind of my whole process was back then. Great. I think I had my first like mega viral posts in 2012, early 2013. And what I don't think it took a while for everybody to figure out, but it was right around then that Facebook turned on the spigot of reach for outside published material, like Facebook kind of decided that they wanted to be the newspaper for everybody. And so if you were able to write an attention grabbing headline, you know, a little bit of copy, have a intriguing image, you would just go crazy on that platform. And so the big growth spurt that happened in my audience was on Facebook from 2013 to 2015. Sotoart was actually one of the last viral articles I had in a series of probably eight or 10 viral articles over that two year period. I kind of discovered this and then started refining a process. And as you pointed out, like a huge part of the process was title. I just realized like the title is almost as important as the entire article itself. So I started spending hours just writing out dozens and dozens of titles. And I also just kept around title ideas that I had. You know, I just had a Google Doc that I'd be out at dinner with a friend and he'd make a joke and I'm like, ah, that'd be a really good article title. And I'd like pull out my phone and jot it down on the Google Doc. So the subtle art, the title had been sitting on that Google Doc for a while. So I'm a big metal fan and the band Lamb of God has a song called the Subtle Art of Murder and Persuasion. And it was right around that time, I forget, I had a couple articles with another thing about Facebook's algorithm at the time. I noticed that if I just put fucking the title, you know, you would get like 50% more juice. Turbo boost. Exactly. It was like a cheat code for Facebook. My mind was already in a spot where I'm like looking back in the wholesome, good all days, the rest words. Oh my God. So, you know, my mind, I was already kind of existing in a headspace where I'm always on the lookout for like a clever use of the F word. And, and so I was listening, I was huge fan of Lamb of God and that song comes on to my, my iPhone or whatever, Subtle Art of Murder and Persuasion. And I was like the subtle art of not giving a fuck. And I was like, wow, that's, that's really catchy. And then it sat on the document for a while. And then it's actually funny kind of how the article got written. It sat there for many months. It never really, I never really felt the inspiration to do something with it. And then there was a period that holiday, the Christmas and New Years right before that, that, like, as you said, it came out January 8th. That holiday was really shitty for a variety of personal reasons. It was just one of those Christmas holidays that you're like, fuck, why do I have a family? And like, do I have to spit side with these people? So, you know, I was coming out of that in a pretty bummed out state. Yeah. My wife, who I was not engaged to yet at the time, there was like visa troubles. So she was, you know, stuck in Brazil. So I'm like, basically, I was actually in Austin. I was sitting alone, like basically just moping in Austin for a few weeks. And when I get mopy, I get very, very snarky and like, like, bitingly sarcastic. And so it was time to write an article and I pull up the list and I see that title. And I'm like, you know what, I am going to write the most offensive profane thing I can possibly imagine. But I'm also going to give the best possible advice that I I imagine I can give. I'm going to combine the two things and I just want to create that, like this innocent people. And so I wrote it and I thought it was completely over the top and ridiculous. And, you know, sometimes when you write something, I'm sure you have this experience, like you're, you can't really tell if it's good or not. Like I'm too close to it. Yeah. So I put it away. I woke up the next day. I was still unsure about it and I sent it to my content guy, official title. And I told him who also kind of acts as an editor for me. And I told him I was like, I don't even know if I want to post this. It's pretty ridiculous. And he came back on Slack and like all caps and he was like, you can fire me. I'm posting this fucking thing. He's like, this is the best thing we have to post this. And sure enough, he was right. Like it just, it went absolutely crazy. It was everywhere. Yeah, I remember that. I do remember that the, the banner with the kitten and all that. I remember seeing that when it came out and I was like, that's a really, really good headline. It was good piece too. But I remember thinking, man, everyone's in a while, you know, it could be an album. It could be. And this, this harkens back to my early days when I had the sports nutrition company and it was doing now what would be called D to C. But lots of paid advertising. So I needed headlines to work. So I was also working with very expensive long lead publications, like magazines. Good Lord. You think it's hard to zig and zag online, man, with that type of lag time. It's brutal. So I developed a. An affection for really, really good titles and headlines. And I was like, man, that that's a gold medal right there. And out of curiosity of the eight or so. Articles that you had go mega viral in a two year period, which, especially in the context of that time is a very high hit rate. I mean, thinking back to that time, I was on the playing field. That's a very high hit rate. How many of those started with a headline and then became an article? Because I would imagine most people who write, write something and then try to come up with the headline. Oftentimes, I think that will be the case. I would say half. It was probably 50 50. What was second place in terms of virality? Do you remember? Second place was seven strange questions that help you find your life purpose. And then the number one question was, what is your favorite flavor of shit, sandwich, and does it have a long way? Oh, the questions, the questions. So things go completely goo coo bananas and watching it from. I suppose I was saying the sidelines, the kind of front row seats, because I was tracking things in the blogosphere, roughly speaking, quite closely, because I was still so involved. We're in the same space. We have mutual friends, you know, so. Oh, yeah, it makes sense. How many blog posts have you written? If any idea? Well, the site still houses about 250, but yeah, a lot of them have been removed or decommissioned decommission. You know, thank you for your service. You were no longer necessary. I would say probably in the neighborhood of five, six hundred. Yeah. I mean, that's a solid canon. Yeah. I and after. Let's see, thousand plus on my blog. Because I got started in 2005, so I had a bit more of a lead time. Ended up spending a lot of time thinking about crafting of certainly pieces and also headlines. Let's before we delve into sort of the. The explosion after that event. And I think a lot of people might be able to fill in some of the gaps because they, they, I would imagine at least more than a handful of folks will have some familiarity with maybe the later chapters of what the success of that book looks like and seeing the orange cover everywhere, any airport anywhere in the world. There it is. I actually do want to ask about the cover because that's, I think. An element that has also worked tremendously well. Yeah. But before we get to that, what are the things that you most struggle with now?
Prioritizing health maintenance. (52:41)
Or recently? So this is going to be a bit of a blase answer. Especially probably for you and your audience. I have always struggled with the physical health side of things. Mm hmm. I spent pretty much all of my twenties kind of getting my head. You know, in order, getting my baggage cleaned out, fixing my relationships, understanding my emotions, developing self-awareness, all these things. You know, I was always so focused on that. That I never really developed good habits around taking care of myself. And so it's I'm at that point now in my late thirties where you actually pay for those bad habits, you know, because when you're 28. You don't really pay for it. Yeah. I hit a point a year or two ago where I realized it's never going to get easier or better. So it's not a sexy answer. It's kind of a blah answer, but it's, you know, the last year, especially, it's been very, very health focused. I've actually been listening to it shitload of your episodes on subjects like that. I appreciate that. It's been very helpful. Yeah, the health piece, you know, this is 45 now and all of those little decisions add up and I've I've been pretty good at maintenance, but I've also just through pure life aggression sustained. 30 plus fractures, handful of surgeries and holy shit. Do those add up? Do those start to reappear and the degree of self care? What I've realized just needs to go up in a very nonlinear fashion, the older you get, or you just start sliding in a really significant way. So I'm in a maybe a similar boat in the sense that I'm also in the last year and certainly for this upcoming year going to be focusing on the health component because it's this upstream variable that just affects positively or negatively everything else. So yeah, for what it's worth, I'm happy to chat about that anytime. Thanks, Ben. I appreciate that. You know, whenever I feel like I'm getting off the rails, it's just for what it's worth, I have found and I have some degenerative disc issues in my back also, which is unfortunate, but congenital kettlebell swings, slow carb diet, perhaps also skipping one or two meals, let's just say breakfast because I find that easier than portion control. And some type of core work, whether it's something like Pilates or really technical Pilates or let's just say gymnastics, strength training also, but that's a bit more aggressive on the joints. So you have to have that stability/connected tissue strength. But if I just do core work, kettlebell swings, pushups, and some type of diet that restricts high caloric density carbohydrates to some extent, it really makes a huge difference. What do you have pains? Do you have a lot of pains? In terms of symptoms, is that's... I actually don't. I'm very fortunate in that regard. I just got fat. Especially we're going to get to my run the last five years and all the projects I did. You know, I overworked. I overdid it. Yeah. The wake up call for me was actually I was writing three books at the same time. Sorry. Yeah. Yeah. No. You know, you know, you know, like how stupid that is. I was writing three books at the same time. Living in New York, I'm traveling. I'm on planes like if not every week, every other week. And I was actually sitting in my office one morning and I started having intense heart pain and or chest pain, I should say. I started having intense chest pain and it freaked me out. You know, I have a history of heart disease in my family. And I was like, I'm fucking 37. Like this can't be happening. So, you know, sat down, went to a doctor, ran all the tests. Everything's fine. But he looked at me. He's like, if you had any stress going on in your work, like. But yeah, I had gained, you know, I had gained probably 25, 30 pounds. The little exercise I had been doing before then, I went out the window. My eating habits were terrible. My sleeping habits were terrible. I had massive circles under my eyes. And I kind of had just this come to Jesus moment of like, dude, you can't put this off any longer. You have to do something to take care of it. And there was also a little bit of a humbling that had to happen. Of realizing that after a number of years of trying to do it myself, that I just for whatever reason, like this part of my life, I don't seem to have good. Decision control. So I hired a coach and that was super helpful. And it's, it's, you know, speaking of that kind of snowball effect, the more the further I go down the path, the more I want to go down the path. And I also feel a little bit stupid because my whole thing for 15 years now has all has been all about how people think and feel and helping them, you know, deal with struggles and pain in their life better. And I'm sitting here and I'm like, wow, not drinking for a few weeks, going to bed at like 10 p.m. I feel 20% better on a day to day basis. How did I not realize this before? Like how am I so late to this party? It's been an interesting experience. Just like you're asking, where were you when you stopped drinking and started going to bed earlier, getting a solid night's sleep? Just geographically, where were you? LA. LA. I asked because New York, in my experience, I grew up along the island. I've spent a ton of time in New York City. It is just a cultural norm to, I mean, to drink four or five nights a week. And you get on this caffeine. Booze, see saw and which is the norm for millions of people. Yeah. Every week, if not every day. And that's why I was asking about the switch. I was completely unprepared for how influential moving from New York to LA would be in that factor because you were absolutely right. All social life in New York revolves around eating and drinking alcohol. And yeah, after seven years, it adds up. Like it really adds up. Where's an LA? Like, you know, people don't drink nearly as much. Everybody wants to go on a hike. They want to surf. They want to like, you know, go hang out on the beach. So it's, it's, it's been very good. Yeah, the wear of health matters a lot. Yeah. Not just the how of health. I mean, the how of health is often a consequence of the wear in a way, right? Yeah. LA, LA does have that in spades. If you haven't been to the the Venice boardwalk green on, I want to say a Sunday when the acrobat's go to train, you should definitely check that out. You see Cirque du Soleil athletes practicing on this, on this green, which is probably, I don't know, 30 by 30 feet. And if you just want a casual pass by Cirque du Soleil performance, you can take it with that. It's inspiring. It's really, really inspiring.
Co-authoring a book with Will Smith. (01:00:38)
So let's, let's talk about the five year period of projects. And three books at once. Oh my God. Oh boy. Yeah, that's a lot. Could you describe what you did with Will Smith? How it came to be and your personal. Primary lessons learned doesn't have to be from the content of the book. It could also be from the interactions, exposure to LA, entertainment, et cetera. Just love to know what you did for people who don't know. Yeah. How it happened. Maybe those are in the opposite order. And then what your personal primary lessons learned work from that. So I co-authored Will Smith's memoir, which came out last year. It's called Will. We worked on it for about. I think about two and a half years together. The way it came about was his team actually reached out to me. He had wanted to do a book for a little while. And from what I understand, I wasn't there, but from what I understand, he had, you know, some kind of casual meetings with a few different authors. Just to kind of see what was out there. And when they contacted me about it, first of all, another story, my agent being great, my agent didn't tell me about it right away. The first thing she did is she sent me an email and she said, hypothetical question. If a celebrity wanted to write a book with you. On what terms would you be interested? Which is smart because she didn't tell me who it was. Yeah, that's smart. And I said it would have to be an A-lister. And they would have to want it to be more than just about their life. Like they would want to like dig into their problems and history and baggage, et cetera. Which is as it so happens, exactly what Will wanted to do. So after that, we set up the meeting. Super surreal. I don't know. I always tell people like the craziest part about meeting a really, really famous person isn't actually the really, really famous person. It's all the shit that goes on around the super famous person. It's hard to explain. But next thing I know, I'm getting whisked away to Atlanta, where I'm supposed to meet him on set of a film that he's working on. Turns out Ang Lee is working, he's directing that film. So I start like don't fanboy it, Ang Lee, don't fanboy it, Will Smith. Like, oh God, like this is so stressful. And you're supposed to just kind of act casual. Like this is all normal. So he finishes their like rehearsing a scene or something. And I'm like, I'm like walking in circles, not knowing where you're supposed to go. And his people are like, are you OK? And I'm like, where should I sit? I've never been on a Hollywood set before. What do I do with my hands? What do I do with my hands? Like Ricky Poppy. I told one of his bandagers, I was like, I've never been on a Hollywood set before. I don't know if I'm like in the right place or not. She just kind of looked at me like, really? I was like, sorry. You know, so next thing I know, they finished rehearsing. We go straight to an airstrip, getting loaded onto a private jet. And they're like, no, no, no, you need to sit in the front with Will. Because you're going to talk about the book now. And I'm like, now, like this is OK. You know, first time on a jet. So the whole thing is just surreal and strange. And everywhere he goes, there's a mob of fans waiting for him, people shrieking. So it took a few days to kind of like get over that, get in a room with him privately where it's quiet and actually have kind of an extended one-on-one conversation with him. And before I went to meet him, I had two conditions for myself, which was the first one is he can't be an asshole. Because I just nothing is no amount of money, no matter prestige is worth spending three years working with an asshole. And then two was, you know, there needs to be something legitimately, like he everything needs to be on the table. He needs to be very willing to open up and kind of go anywhere. So we had a few really good productive conversations. And I was blown away. The thing that really knocked my socks off about him. I mean, he's a smart guy, obviously. He's a very hardworking guy, obviously. His charisma and his ability to read a room and react in a way that makes people feel comfortable. And then also kind of talk it to him a little bit about some of the hurdles that he went through in his life, his ability to adapt, to setback, to reframe it in a way that is helpful to himself. It's really incredible. Like he's one of the, and I know this seems strange to say after the Oscars incident, but he really is one of the most emotionally intelligent people that I've been around. And so we had a dinner the last night and he kind of just out of the blue was like, so what's up, Mark? Were you going to do a book or what? And I was like, well, I've got an outline in mind. And I said, you know, I told him the thing I just said about emotions and his ability to use his emotions to adapt the things. I also said, it's probably why he's such a good actor is that he's able to summon emotions and play with them and react to them in a masterful way. And I said, so I think the book should be built around emotion. It starts with fear. It moves through all your defense mechanisms into your fame, into all the success, until that facade collapsing. And it eventually finally ends up at, at love at a very genuine, authentic love, which is kind of something that it took him a long time to get to. And I said, and as you move through all those emotions, there's, there's a word for somebody who's able to move through setbacks and, and deal with any sort of negative emotion and harness it to advantage them. And I said, it's, it's will. So that should be the name of the book. And it was like the Fresh Prince came back like he was just like, hell, yeah. He like gets up starts like slamming stuff on the table. He's like, hell, yeah. Hell yeah. We're doing that. And I'm like, all right. So I got the gig like it was a good meeting, good meeting. Yeah, good meeting, good meeting. But it was a wild and fun two years with him. He is honestly, I mean, as you can imagine, I get so many questions. Since, since March about him, but honestly, he's such a great guy. Deep down, obviously he makes mistakes and does stupid things like the rest of us, but I have nothing but gratitude for that project. It was very easy to write. It was very enjoyable. The way we did it was I presented the outline. We kind of refined it together. I wrote the first draft. He did a revision of that and then me and the editor at Penguin kind of like did a final pass. So it really is both of us in that book. Like it's a lot of people assume it was all me or assume it was all him. I don't know, but like it really was both of us. Like he put a lot of work and effort into it and he really cared about it.
In a post-slap world, what should we know about the real Will Smith? (01:08:21)
So I'm going to get asked about what you learned about Hollywood and entertainment through the process of interacting with him and writing the book. I'll just open a door if you want to walk through it. If not, we could skip it. I know you just mentioned a lot of people have asked you about the Oscars and Chris Rock and so on. Is there anything you want to say about that or about him with respect to that or not? You can also just say, no, not really. And we can move on totally up to you. So I publicly wrote a piece about it as a newsletter. It's on my website. The TLDR of it is basically. Yeah, he did something really stupid and unacceptable, but as somebody who spent a lot of time around him, not just him, his family, his friends, getting to know his kids, getting to know his brother. He is honestly, there is so much generosity that happens with him that nobody ever sees and it's very much by design. Like he doesn't, he doesn't feel a need to publicize it. And so just seeing what I've seen being around him, I kind of told people, like, look, that's not the real him. That's like the worst side of him. You know, the will that you know and that you hope is real is that's the real will. He's, he's a very great. Loving, but flawed human being. In terms of what I learned, oh, and you asked earlier what I learned from him, it's funny because that project, I didn't, you know, he does have a marvelous story of resilience and overcoming. I mean, he come, he comes from a very dysfunctional family and abusive father. Grew up on the streets of West Philly, like very rough neighborhoods. And it's, it's actually very remarkable how he navigated that. Avoided all the pitfalls that come with that sort of upbringing to get where he is today. It's definitely not an accident. So that story is amazing, but there was nothing in it that really, you know, there were no epiphanies for me personally. The epiphanies for me personally were just being around him as a professional, you know, being around a guy like that who's been at the top of his game, top of his field for 30 years, one of the most famous human beings on the planet. I was blown away at the way he worked with his team, the way he was with his fans, the way he dealt with the media. I mean, to be honest, dude, like I, the first time I hung out with him and I saw him get mobbed by fans, my immediate reaction was like, man, I should be nicer to my fans. Like, I think Will is nicer to his fans than I am. And like he is, he's Will Smith. Like he should be paddling out through a hundred foot waves every time he steps out of a door. Yeah. But one of the things that he helped me see, and he said this to me too, is he said, you know, he was like, I'm very aware that every encounter I have with a fan is a very asymmetric encounter. Like for me, it's five seconds that I'm going to forget about, you know, within a minute for them, it's five seconds that we're going to remember for the rest of our lives. So he's like, just put in the effort for those five seconds. Like it's not the payoff is so monumental for the other person that it, there's kind of no ethical argument to not do it. The other thing that he said that was really profound for me, because as you can imagine, he's got this like full staff of people that just follow him around the world, he's got cooks and chefs and wardrobe people and security guys and everything, logistics. And I asked him once, I was like, do you ever feel like it's kind of weird just having this like team of people that just shadow you everywhere you go? Cook your, you know, I was like, when was the last time you cooked a meal for yourself? And he's like, it started laughing. And he's like, I don't know, man, probably at least 10 years. But he told me, he said, he's like, look, it's really simple. Like I, I am world class at one thing. And yeah, it'd be very easy for me to like be the humble guy and cook a meal for myself and send the chef home. But I'm only world class at one thing. And that would take away from my time and energy from being world class at that one thing. And not only that, but my chef is world class at one thing. And by sending him home, I am taking away from his ability to be world class at the thing that he's world class at. That's cool. Yeah. I saw potentially the first part coming, but not the second part. Yeah. That's, that's a significant. Addition, right? Looking through the mirror from the other direction, not just your direction. And he described it as robbing him of an opportunity to be excellent, which I just to me is like such a beautiful, it's funny because you know, you hear so many outsourcing conversations in terms of business of like how to hire an outsource and do all this and automate and do all this stuff. He spoke about it in ethical terms, which was really profound for me. Yeah.
How Will Smith depends on and interacts with his team. (01:13:55)
What did you observe or what stood out to you about how he worked with his team outside of that example that he just gave? This kind of validates what we were talking about earlier. The first thing that really stood out to me about his team was they've all been with him forever. And it was funny. I was talking to one. He's got one guy named Scotty who I love. Scotty's been in a few of his YouTube videos. Lovely, lovely guy. It's got, he was kind of joking with me. He's like, yeah, I'm the new guy on the team. I've only been here nine years. Everybody in like significant roles in his team have been with him since at least the Fresh Prince days, many of them since, since the eighties, some of them since he was a kid. They're like childhood friends that he kind of put into the appropriate place. So that, that really blew me away. It also validated a lot of my beliefs around loyalty and trust. He also explained it to me once as he said, he was like, look, when you become famous, nothing is scarce. Like, if you want money, you can go get money. If you want parties, you can go get parties. If you want sex, you can go get sex. He said, the one thing that becomes more scarce as you become famous is trust. And so he said, I very much tried to build my organization to optimize for trust first and everything else second, which I thought was very wise. Of him, but in terms of just operationally, like he's, he, he's very good at including everybody. Like he's very, you know, there's no like rigid hierarchy of like, Oh, well, you're, you're the assistant of this manager. So like you shouldn't be in the room talking about these ideas. He loves to just joke and bounce creative ideas around. And if it's like the lowly production assistant who comes back with a, with a great idea, like. He's happy with that. Like he'll run with it. He doesn't feel like a possessiveness around like who gets to tell them what. Fascinating.
Future Plans And Decision Making
Setting the course for the next few years. (01:16:13)
Super, super fascinating. What, what are your goals? Desires wants me. I don't know how crazy we want to get, but in the next say. You can choose the time frame three years. Right. Because there was a point, as you said, you're writing for your friends in college. Readership per se of no more than a dozen people, not really thinking about where this is going or how you're going to optimize it. It was just writing, having fun with friends and enjoying the process. Now you have. Among other things, paradox of choice situation on your hands where there's more inbound than you can probably even begin to process, even more than your agent can probably process. She has to have some quick means of eliminating things. Yeah. How are you thinking about what you want to do or not do over the next handful of years? The place I'm in now, I mean, I will write more books, but I'm kind of in this like, almost like prodigal son coming back to the internet moment. Doing all of these projects over the last five years in legacy media, it's been. It's been very rewarding and it's been in many cases, very fun and educational. But what I realized is that that's not where. That's not what I love doing. I love just the raw dynamism of. Posting something, getting immediate feedback, processing that feedback, understanding like, Oh, people like that. Why did people like that? What is it about that idea that resonates with people and then trying to like figure out like, okay, well, how could I do something more with that? I just, I love that process so much and the immediacy and the creative control that comes with that. Then I'm kind of envisioning this place in my career is like, I'm coming back to that. I mentioned earlier that I'm currently hiring out a video team. And before like 500 people listening to this, start sending the applications. I can learn. I can learn Mark. I'm willing to work for free, but you have to teach me everything. Exactly. I have, I've already made the initial hires. If there are more people that I'm hiring, subscribe to my newsletter, it'll be announced there. I'm very bullish on online media and independent media in general. And I think it has a bright future. I think it's, it's, you could argue it's already the predominant form of media in terms of just where the narratives come from and where the best content comes from. But I think that's only going to continue over the next decade. And so I'm excited to be here for that. You know, I, there's two things that I love. One is what I just said, the kind of the immediacy of online content. The other one is just, I have this very, very strong passion bordering on like the fury of a thousand sons to take the self-help world, which traditionally, you know, when I was growing up, when you were growing up, self-help was not something for the masses. It was like, if you, if you had a bunch of money in your savings and could fly to a city and sit in the conference room for five days, like that's, that's where this content used to be. And I think over the past 20 years, we're living through kind of, I don't know if democratizing is the right word, but just a widespread dissemination of these very important concepts and ideas to the masses for either free or very, very, very cheap. And I just, I really deeply believe that a lot of these concepts, these basic things that you and I talk about week in, week out, they should be everywhere. They should be taught in school. They should be, you know, basic relationship skills should be taught in school. Basic meditation, a lot of exercises you do in therapy, CBT, like these concepts should be taught everywhere. Like everybody should have access to them all the time. And I'm very passionate about that idea. And I want to, that it's always been kind of like a chip on my shoulder that I've had throughout my career. And it's still there. There's still work to do. And so the marriage of those two things is kind of where my head is at right now.
How Mark says no to financially tempting projects he doesn’t want to do. (01:20:47)
So to choose the things you want to do, which you've been describing, right, to hone in on the things that you know you enjoy, it would seem to be that a prerequisite of ensuring that happens. I have a number of follow up questions. This is one. Ensuring that happens requires you say no to a lot of stuff. Yes. That you either ignore completely, don't respond to or say no to a lot of stuff. And you're fortunate that you have a team. So Molly can also say no to a lot of things on your behalf. Yes. I'm curious. How you're thinking about saying no to very tempting things and they may not be tempting, but I'll give you an example. Okay. So you get, you get an email from Molly. She's like, it might be worth a five minute conversation. Give me a call. So you get on the phone. She's like, Steven Spielberg. You read well. He's not done this for anybody. He wants you to write a three part. Oh God. Book series. I'm already Facebook. I mean, I'm already Facebook. And maybe I'm actually screwing up this thought exercise by making a three part, no, it's not a three part, but it is going to be a year or two of focus on this, which would be the seminal definitive book with Spielberg's full cooperation, full access, journals, everything pay you some insane amount of money, right? Twice the number that you would pick as a stretch goal that you're like, they'll never say as to he's like, I'll just pay twice as much. Let's get this over with so we can get to the work. What do you do when stuff like that comes up? Cause you know, it's going to come up. Well, maybe not that specifically. I'm using an absurd goal to drive the exercise. Yeah. Right. Because if it's, if it's like, ah, this is a B minus offer, easy to say no to, right? Because you want to strive to do an A plus in the things you just described. So yeah. How do you think about saying no to the stuff that will be tempting? For lower level stuff, I think the best way is to simply set rules. Mm hmm. I've done that with speaking the last year or two. What are your rules? So my rules are basically it either needs to be like. An Uber away or it needs to be just like an absolutely like stupid. Amount of money, which nobody takes the stupid amount of money. So it's basically just an Uber away. And also I decided to that I'm not really going to do keynotes anymore. If you want me to sit on stage and answer questions, that's fine. But like the preparation, the thought, the practice that goes into a keynote, the mental energy, like you're not in pain for 60 minutes on stage. No, you can pay for everything around it. Exactly. So speaking has been a big one that that I've cut out the delta between how speaking opportunities look on paper versus reality is like, it's just so wide because you get that email and there's this number with a bunch of zeros behind it. And you're like, Oh my God, that's the easiest money ever. And then you actually go do it. And you're like, wow, I just spent a week not doing anything else to be here. So rules around that. So to the Spielberg opportunity, you know, my, my rule with any sort of like celebrity memoir would probably be very similar to my rule with Will. A-lister has to be doing it for the right reasons. I think the difference this time would be, you know, part of the reason I gave myself chest pains a few years ago was I. I think I was so eager to say yes to things. To back up a little bit after subtle art, there was a little bit of this insecurity, maybe call it imposter syndrome of like, okay, this might be my 15 minutes. Say yes to everything because, yeah, who knows if this is going to come back around. Who knows. So I did that. I don't necessarily regret it, but I think this time around, it would be on my terms. So it would be like, okay, is he an A-lister? Yes, he is. Is he doing it for the right reasons? I'd probably have to sit down and talk to him, get a feel for that. Is it a good fit chemistry wise? You know, have to sit down, figure that out. And then I think it would be on my terms. I'd be like, okay, here's my schedule for the next two years. Here's where I can fit this in. This is when I'm available. Take it or leave it. I think the money at this point. Would be a very, very minor factor. Mm-hmm. I've definitely. Only so many skittles you can eat. Seriously, like it's you do hit a certain number where you're like, fuck it. I'm just going to do stuff I want to do. Yeah. So very fortunate to be there. Okay, so let's say. Miss you, Spielberg. It's like, great. That all sounds fantastic. Would it fit around what you just described you would want to do? Or would it start to crowd it out? Just knowing yourself. If that offer came down the pipeline like tomorrow, my reaction would be. I'm so I'm building out a video team where we get to start scaling video content in 2023. I'm under another contract with Harper to do another book. 2024. So we can get started like 2025 if you want, like that would probably be the conversation, which I'm sure he would hate. You know, the challenge there would be holding the line with that. You know, if he started to push back and well, we'll offer you twice as much money as your Harper contract, you know, it's like you can't get seduced. Like you need to hold. It's like boundaries in relationships, right? It's like if you tell somebody like, hey, this doesn't work for me. Don't do it. And then they do it. It's really hard to not let it slide. Like nobody wants to confront people in their lives and say like, hey, that, like that, that's upsetting to me. I told you not to do it. You know, it's really hurtful that you did that. Like nobody wants to have that conversation. Yeah. But if you want to have good relationships, you have to have that conversation. And I think it's the same in the professional world. Like if you don't set those boundaries of like, okay, this is what works for me. And if you don't hold those boundaries, then you just kind of end up in this. No man's land. Furthermore, if you don't hold those boundaries, if you make exceptions, those exceptions are going to travel. Yep. And then people will either say you don't actually follow your own rules. So you should say yes to my phone, the blank. And most certainly, because I've experienced this and have become a lot better at holding strong lines in the last say 10 years, people will get pissed. People will get very pissed. If you've said no to a bunch, then you say yes to one, because for whatever reason, it's more appealing or just bleeds over into the, maybe I should let this slide category. You can really find yourself in just a world of messiness. Yeah, slogging through the swamp of, of unclear boundaries. It's funny too, because early in my career, like kind of prided myself on my ability to say no to things that I didn't want to do. Like that was kind of a badge of honor I had. What I didn't realize is that as you scale the mountain, the things you have to say no to are proportionally difficult to say no to as how high you get. So it's like you, it's like a skill you have to keep learning over and over and over again. Oh, it absolutely is. I mean, the stuff you're saying no to now. Flashback, not that long ago, right? Handful of years would have been the best. They would have been offers that would have exceeded your wildest dreams. And these are the things you have to say no to now.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck‘s cover story. (01:29:12)
It's a funhouse mirror of psycho emotional experience because it's not like we've let go of all of our conditioning and hardwired. We've developed over decades. Yeah, it just doesn't happen overnight. Let me fulfill a promise to my audience because I did say I was going to ask about it. The the subtle art cover. What is the background story on the cover and how do you feel about it? Do you like it when you first saw what ended up being the cover? So I love the cover. It's a Harper's credit. They did it. Good for them. Yeah. It's funny because when I went into that book, that was, you know, that was my first book with a publisher. All my friends who were published authors had all these warnings of like how horrible publishers are and how terrible mistake, like decisions they make and all this stuff. And everything was subtle art was just a breeze. Everything went really well. Everybody got along. There were no problems and I was like, wow, what's everybody talking about? That's amazing. And I I will just highlight this is extremely rare. Yes. I just gave I'm not a therapist. I don't play one on the internet or try not to, but was just doing my 100th iteration of like a three hour therapy session with someone who's going through their first book experience. I'm like, I'm sorry. I just I don't know what to tell you. I'm sorry. This is this is the this is the norm. Cause he was like, is this normal? This can't be normal. Does this actually happen all the time? And I was like, yep, yep. Yes, it's actually kind of obnoxious. If you get any amount of authors in a room together, inevitably, the conversation just always ends up and bitching about publishers. So the funny thing about the cover though, they were very adamant on the orange. So initially it didn't have that splat. The splat was me. So I and this again, this is credit to them because this is I didn't realize this was not normal. So they sent the initial draft of the cover. I took it, put it like opened up Photoshop myself. I think I changed the font to be the same font as my website. And then I added the splat because I wanted something kind of iconic. It seemed fitting and I sent it back to them and they were like, we love it. It's great. We'll do it. And I was like, wow, great. I love these guys. And sure enough, you find out that that never happens. People never, you know, the publisher never listens to your feedback. They try to force things through. But it's actually ironic because I think at the time, I was just this like no name internet guy. And so they're like, oh, yeah, well, if that makes them happy, like, let's just put it on the cover. But then once you become. You know, Mark Manson or Tim Ferriss or Ryan Holiday suddenly. Once they've got the sunk cost of a real advance, now things are a little different. Exactly. It's like everything is just murdered by committee over and over again. What excites you these days?
Why Mark is pivoting to video production rather than podcasting. (01:32:12)
And I'll give you two options as a multiple choice. So what excites you these days? I think in part, you've certainly answered or alluded to that. And with video and the teams, and I think this is this is maybe me as a an avid. Horse buggy driver in a world where a model T came out a few years ago and everybody's moving to cars and I'm still. Digging my horses, trying to sell people on why my horses are so incredible, but is the drive to video something that you really want to do in your heart of hearts or or and this is not a pejorative. Option B. Is it because inevitably everything is driving to video and that if you're not capitalizing on that, you are simply going to be invisible to the algorithms that matter and the results that matter or something else. It's a great question and I'm not going to lie. There is definitely some of the latter in it of just like, I love this business. I love what I do and like blogs are dead. You and I both know blogs are dead like you get no reach for any sort of written content whatsoever. Newsletters are getting super saturated like it's just it's hard to. Stay in front of eyeballs in our industry that said I wrestled with this this past year because. I think it's been like four years now. My team has been telling me. Do you either need to do videos or have a podcast? Do you need to have videos or have a podcast? I'm like motherfuckers. I'm writing three books right now. Talk to me in two years, but they were right and I and I knew they were right. Like it's just the way the world is going. So I actually dabbled a little bit with a podcast. It was funny. I went actually, I think you have an old article from years and years ago about like the starter kit of equipment. Bought all that stuff. I just wanted to do like a dry run just to see do I enjoy this? Is it fun for me? And actually my first guinea pig was was our mutual friend Ryan Holiday. So I went over to his house down there in Austin, brought all the mics and everything, sat down, talked to him for an hour and a half, two hours, went home, opened up the audio, started listening to it. And I realized that it was probably the least interesting conversation Ryan and I had ever had. And I were like five year friendship. That immediately gave me a respect for what you do and other podcasters do because on the outside, it looks like, oh, yeah, you just sit down and talk to somebody. Like, how hard is that? You know, you don't realize how much goes into being a good interviewer, how much thought you have to put into the questions you ask. I usually have this out of frame. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's not an accident. It's not an accident. I realized that it definitely wasn't grabbing me. On the video side of things, I initially did it for the reason you just said I was like, well, having a YouTube channel just seems like a thing you're supposed to have. And so I started recording some short videos about two years ago and send it off to a freelance editor and kind of never thought about it after that. But as time went on, I started to enjoy it more and more. And I think the thing with video is that there's there is a very long learning curve to it. Like you have to understand it's not just about being good on camera. Like you need to understand lighting, you need to understand audio, need to understand editing, file types, resolutions, aspect ratios, like all this stuff. And usually the way you learn is by fucking it up. Also, YouTube, right? Like you have to pay attention to the headlines, the thumbnails, a million other variables, right? There's a lot. Yeah. So it's been a slow burn for me, but I think it started to kind of become the highlight of whatever I was doing that month. OK, this is interesting. So how did that shift happen?
What can we expect from Mark’s future video trajectory? (01:36:28)
How are you making it fun for you? So I don't know if you run into this much, but one of the kind of the frustrations I've started running into is when it comes to personal development topics, there's nothing new under the sun. Like all of these concepts and ideas save for some recent psychological research. Or, you know, every couple of times a year, a really great new study will come out in psychology. And then three years later, it's not replicated. So it's like most of what we're working with is ideas and concepts that have been around for decades, if not centuries. Footnotes to Plato. Yeah, right. Exactly. Everything's a footnote to Plato. There's only so many ways you can write about how to get over anxiety before you just start repeating yourself. There's only so many ways you can write about getting over a breakup before you just start repeating yourself. And I definitely, the last few years, I felt like I've hit that. And and it's been frustrating. You know, you just you feel like you're trying to reinvent the wheel all the time. And I feel like video, a new medium opens up opportunities to approach. Age old topics from a new direction or new dimension. And that's kind of my plan for that. I've become a lot more interested in like, OK, I'm less interested in writing about theory and, you know, this is how your mind works. And this is why you get anxious and this is this is what resilience is. And I'm much more becoming far more interested in implementation. Like, OK, how do you actually get somebody who's read this stuff to go do something with their life? And if you're limited to the written form, you can't really do anything about that. But if you got a camera with you, like, fuck it, go visit the guy. See if he's getting off his couch, film it, ask him how he's feeling. You know, like, I think there's just a lot of opportunity to explore things in that format. That haven't been tapped into. And so that's what really excites me at the moment, the new creative opportunities. In that sense. So it sounds like format wise. At least at first blush as you're describing it. It's not going to be between two ferns with Mark Manson, right? You won't be sitting down doing a video what people might think of as a video podcast. That's really your pod be featured and part of the entire cocktail that makes it work. But do you envision a lot of it being case studies, so to speak, or kind of real world. Tracking of different people in a sense. I know tracking might be a strange word. So I think there's a lot of. Keep in mind, this is still super early days for me, but I've got a lot of brainstorms around this right now. So one idea that I've talked to the team about is. You can kind of reinvent classic psych studies, you know, so there's a famous marshmallow study. Like you could probably do a really fun and entertaining version of that with just random people off the street. And, you know, give them a hundred bucks if they win or whatever. I think there's a lot of opportunity to do like a real time. You can use things as incentive. You can kind of gamify it a little bit. So I don't know if you've watched like there's a new trend going on on YouTube of like kind of gamifying everything. It's Mr. Beast got huge and everybody's seen Mr. Beast for sure. Yeah. So when I was watching Mr. Beast, I kind of the thing that occurred to me was. OK, well, that's fun. You know, you put people in a circle and see if how long they can stay and then give them $100,000. Whatever, whatever amount he gives them. Like what if you actually like took somebody who. Who's like struggled to lose weight over the last five years and you're like, hey, I'll give you I'll give you $50,000 if you lose 20 pounds in the next six months or whatever. And then you track them and follow them and see what's their process? Where do they get hung up? What are the self-defeating beliefs and doubts and stuff like that? And I think this is what I like about it too is that if you look at. You know, research on motivation and people actually sticking to the behaviors and goals and things like that. Money is one of the most effective, super effective inputs. People don't like to hear it, but man do do incentives work. Yeah, I mean, it's what's that Charlie Munger quote? It's like, you know, everything is incentive. Yeah, just follow the incentives. Yeah, just follow the incentives. But yeah, it works. It's just it's not scalable on like a mass. You know, you can't have like an army of therapists who offer you a thousand dollars to lose weight, but you can have an asshole on YouTube who does. So I'll be that asshole. And that's kind of like the working concept at the moment. I think it'll be fun, but it also just. It makes it it renews the subjects for me. You know, I've been beating these dead horses for 15 years at this point. And you know, this brings the horse back to life. Yeah. And I think it also just introduces a lot of these concepts and ideas to to a new generation. You know, there's Gen Z is not on Twitter. They're not reading blogs. They're not signing up for newsletters. They're on YouTube. They're on TikTok. So that excites me as well.
Staying relevant and creatively fulfilled in a crowded market. (01:42:15)
Yeah, I dig it. I love I love that you're. Tweaking and brainstorming to keep it fun and interesting for yourself. I've seen so many examples of YouTubers who have created a style. Very successful style. They've been cursed with. Getting a lot of attention and ultimately a lot of money for creating a caricature of themselves that they then have to continue to be. Yeah. And the question there for how do you do this in a way that is. Energy giving fun. Creatively satisfying on some level without just being the. And person to come up with a. Twenty second dance routine on TikTok hoping that you're going to ride that wave. Yeah. And if that's not something in a million years you would ever want to do, otherwise. Yeah, I feel like I have a couple of competitive advantages entering that space in a serious way. I feel like I have a couple of competitive advantages for the simple fact that I'm old. Because most big YouTubers are like their 20 something year old dude who have never had a real job. Never been married. Don't have kids. I feel like as somebody who has been doing this for a long time and has got who has fallen into a lot of those traps of. Feeling like you have to please the audience all the time or feeling like you have to publish all the time. Or being terrified that. You know, you're going to lose people or they're going to leave you or whatever like you know, I've I've gone through that in my own way and I feel like I've. Got my head on straight about it at this point and then. I also just think it's an advantage to be older and know who you are being a position where it's like. Well, it's like the Spielberg thing right it's like well, you know, dude, I. I got enough Skittles. Thanks, but. I don't need your views. Thank you. Yeah, you also are in the enviable position of.
Writing Tools And Recommendations
The software Mark uses to compose a book. (01:44:23)
Having the ability to do. A huge range of experiments. Yeah, right, because you have sort of the time and space if you choose to create it and protect it. You have resources. So if you wanted to do something out there that might cost a pretty penny, but you can. I'm for it to lose it. You can do that. So it's a great position to be and I'm excited for you. Couple of boring tactical questions. Do you still use Scrivener when working on your books or do you use other workflow? I use Scrivener for the first draft of my first two books or for subtle art and for everything is fucked. I find it great for. If you still haven't quite nailed down the organization of a book, Scrivener is great for moving around large chunks of text. Very easily. But it's actual user interface, I think, is inferior to Word. So if you're actually trying to go line by line and just make everything really polished and clear, I think Word. So usually I would do first draft on Scrivener and then. Port it over to Word and do all my revisions on Word and go from there.
Recommended reading, (01:45:36)
Sophie's world. So I have read. I don't know if you still feel this way. This is from an interview on nomadicmat.com from a while back. And it has here. You can't believe everything you read on the Internet. So feel free to confirm, deny or modify. But if you're a complete newbie to philosophy and want to get a basic understanding of the Western Canon, I recommend a book called Sophie's world by Josteen Garder, I want to say. It's a fun fiction book that acts as a kind of primer or primer, depending on how fancy you want to get to the most important Western. Thinkers, is that still a book you would recommend? Yes, with the asterisk that I read it as a teenager, it is a fun way to get, I would say, like a Wikipedia understanding of each major thinker and their contributions and how they influenced the Western civilization. Which writers or thinkers or let's stick with writers first. And we can then talk about other people who might be influencing your thinking. But are there any particular writers or books that you have been paying particular attention to in recent memory? I can buy some time by giving examples. OK, I would say there are the long standing influences, which we don't necessarily have to focus on. But we could if they're still highly relevant to you in your life now. So for instance, I believe that you've mentioned David Foster Wallace, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, and others. Stephen Pinker, Jonathan Heit. In my particular case, for instance, I've had a number of books recommended to me only one of the three of which I've read. So that would be I think it's four thousand weeks by Oliver Berkman, which I thought was a fantastic book. And there are a number of chapters that really stuck out as counterintuitively helpful, such as. Cosmic insignificance therapy, which I ended up excerpting on the blog because I wanted to share with people and share the book with people. Then there's another which I suspect I will find interesting, which is called Die with Zero, which is, I believe Bill Perkins. I have not read it yet. But these are books that seem to cohere in a puzzle of life philosophies and instructions that I think will be very relevant to me now and over the next, say, five years. So I'm paying attention to those books and the threads that appear to connect them. I'm also paying attention because I'm working on fiction right now in this highly absurd, but very, very fun series of world building exercises that I'm doing in fantasy actually. So it's very different from anything I've ever done. If people want to take a look, it's the project is called Cock Punch and you can find it online anywhere. So good, Cock Punch.com. And I bought that URL. I tried to get on your whitelist, but it was impossible. Yeah, it was surprisingly, I think surprisingly, surprisingly popular. There's a lot of demand. There's a lot of fun coming. So that is an example of me doing something for the pure fucking joy of it. And I'm having a lot of fun with that. At the same time, I can study, say Ursula K. Le Guin and these classic iconic, highly skilled masters of the craft, whether that be fantasy or science fiction. So I'm paying attention to, for instance, the writer's journey, which is effectively the hero's journey adapted, but applied to writing. So those are the examples, personally, of things that are currently on my mind. And I've also realized that I've been over-caffeinating and inflicting biological anxiety on myself. Very unnecessary way. So I'm going to be revisiting some of the stoic writings, probably the moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca, which is commonly sold through, I think, Penguin classics as letters from stoic. So that would be a very long word salad of books that are currently on my mind. Gotcha. Right. There's like one that's kind of anchoring to two more I want to read. And then with the craft that I'm currently involved with, let's call that fiction. A few things at time to that. OK. Yeah, it's hard because it's, I mean, there's so many books that talk about a lot of books. So a lot of books. But yeah, I mean, you definitely hit what I would consider my biggest influences. You know, David Foster Wallace's nonfiction is what made me want to be a writer. He's got particularly his piece, supposedly fun thing I'll never do again is just. I go back and read it every couple of years and just in awe of how clever and observant he is. Hunter is Thompson, John Didion, you know, I kind of think there's there's almost like different categories in my brain. So there's there's nonfiction writers I appreciate for the quality of their writing, which they are in. There is nonfiction, I would call it academic nonfiction, which I mostly read just to. Make sure I understand the prevalent research in the space, which would be Jonathan. Hey, I'm a huge fan of Dan Gilbert. He's got a great book called stumbling on happiness. Yeah, excellent book. Yeah, it's such an in my opinion, it's kind of the best book about happiness, research, and all the paradoxes and contradictions that come with it. And then in another category, I guess you would call it like contemporaries. So I also love Berkman's book. I'm actually friends with Oliver. He and I used to be meditation buddies in New York, a small world. And he sent me a draft of that for a blurb and it was my email back to him was like. It's like you, you fucker, man. Like this is this is one of every once in a while, you read a book and you're just kind of you're a little bit angry because you're like, I wish I wrote this because it's that good and it's that smart. And I was like, yeah, this is that for me. Like I'm happy for you. I'm so happy for you, but there's a little piece of me that's like shit. Very well written. Yeah, it's fantastic. So, you know, stuff that you or Ryan or James Clear. People kind of in this new personal development space, I'm always tracking in terms of just like what I've been reading recently. I've actually been reading a lot of fiction the last year. I am not going to start writing fiction unlike you anytime soon, maybe one day. I actually it's actually kind of like a bucket list thing to do a novel one day, but it's funny again, coming out of this intense period of work. It's almost like my brain just. It was seemed kind of repulsed by a lot of nonfiction. You're like, I liked our chocolate, but I've had it five times a day for the last three years. I needed a break from dark chocolate. Seriously, man. I mean, I read, you know, both in terms of research and also just my own curiosity, I read hundreds and hundreds of books, nonfiction books over that period. And I think coming out of it, you know, as soon as I didn't feel like I had to read those for a project anymore, I was like, my brain was like, all right, give me fantasy. Give me no more homework. No more homework. Yeah. What kind of fiction? So I'm actually trying to get back to kind of lighter fiction. Stephen King is one of those authors that obviously I've always heard of him, always know about him. I read a couple of his books in high school, loved them, and then never really went back to him. And so now that I'm kind of on this like decompression reading kick, I've taken upon myself to go to actually go back and read some of the Stephen King classics. I read, this is not fiction, but it was a biography. I read Unbroken by Lauren Hillebrand about the World War II's incredible story. I've been reading a lot of World War II stuff. All the light you cannot see is fantastic. I'm kind of on a light fiction kick, just like letting my brain recover. Yeah, and maybe it's also because I'm in a zone in my career that's very open and creative right now, and I kind of want to just be able to let any idea in and play with it. So maybe that's why it feels right. I was thinking of easy to read fiction that I've enjoyed in the last few years. If you wanted to read, especially if you never have read a hard-boiled detective fiction novel that I thought was incredibly hilarious and came highly recommended. The Last Good Kiss by James Crumbly, C-R-U-M-L-E-Y. Some of the languages dated, I'll warn people in advance, so trigger warning, but it is, as it says in its description on Amazon, one of the most influential crime novels ever written by a legend of the genre, it's hilarious. The writing is very strong, so James Crumbly, The Last Good Kiss, would be pretty high up, and I'll give you one other different genre, just in case you want to screw around. This is, I'll give you two, so on the sci-fi side, either of the anthologies by Ted Chang, C-H-I-A-N-G, man, those are just incredibly strong. Oh, it's unbelievable. Yeah, I read both of his collections once, say, three or four years ago. Yeah, it just floored me. I was like, "Speechless afterwards." Yeah, incredible. And so along those, I don't want to say same lines because each of his short stories is so different, but there is a book called This Is How You Lose the Time War, and part of what makes it so cool is that it was written by two people who alternated chapters as they went along, but it is entirely cohesive. So how you even do that is almost beyond comprehension. I can see how you could have a writing partner and you work on a screenplay together, but to write a super compelling sci-fi novel that is kind of a category breaking format in and of itself, deeply sophisticated and time-bending with two authors is something else. And it's a fast read, super compelling. Anyway, I'll throw that one out just as an option, amongst the hundred other books you're reading, you're looking for 101st. Nice. Well, Mark, this has been a really fun conversation. We have covered a lot.
Parting thoughts. (01:56:54)
I don't feel the need to try to bleed the stone. I think people will find at least a few stories, a few tidbits in this that they can walk away with and ponder or use in some fashion. Is there anything else you'd like to say? Any closing comments, questions, anything you'd like to point my audience to, anything at all that you'd like to add? No, I mean, just the usual, like, go to my website, read my shit type thing. I do want to say thank you to you. Seriously, it's, I mean, you've been a pioneer for my generation and you know, been a big fan for a long time. My adolescent anger towards you aside while I was sleeping on couches, seriously, you've, for those of us who are the generation under you, you've been showing us how to do it for a long time now. So I appreciate that. Oh, thanks, man. I really appreciate that. And it's been, it's been really fun to see you on this rocket ship. And it's been very fun for me to have this conversation also, because I've wondered often, like, I wonder how the fuck he's feeling about all this, like, what is this experience like? I wonder what the experience might be to be in his shoes right now. So it's been fun to, to get a, a peek on the inside and to hear it straight from the man himself. So I really do appreciate it. Everybody, you can find all of email@example.com. The new redesign is beautiful. It's very elegant. It's very clean. I've been thinking of doing a complete redesign on my site for the first time in a long time and went to your site just in the course of doing research for this conversation. I was like, wow, that's clean. It's clean. The old design was like eight years old. And it was funny, because as soon as the first drafts of this new one came in, me and my developer, like, went and looked at the old site and we were just horribly embarrassed. We were like, how, how have we allowed this to be online for so long? So on or an upward, you're trending in the right direction. I look forward to seeing the video. I look forward to seeing the film also. So keep an eye out, folks. That'll be released in theaters by Universal Pictures Wild. Who would have thought? Crazy. Back when you were working on teeth whitening and funks away. It's so fun. It's so, I find it so inspirational to track those things from the very early beginnings, because you can't possibly, if you had sat down and maybe you did, when working on all those many sites and throwing everything against the wall and tried to form a 10-year plan that would get you here, it would have been impossible. Never. It just wouldn't have worked. It's like the Steve Jobs thing where you can connect the dots going back. Like, I look back and it's, yeah, all those kind of bullshit SEO sites. I needed those to kind of build up the skill set to actually build a functioning company in a blog that got an audience. And then from there, you learn the skills to expand the audience. And like you said, it's the, it's the tacky ball. Yeah, it's the tacky ball. The katamari dama shi, the clump spirit. Sounds better in Japanese. Yeah. Well, Mark, I really appreciate the time. Thank you for taking it and being so open to discussing all of the things. Really, really do appreciate the time and appreciate what you're trying to do in the world and what you are doing in the world. So keep it up. And to everybody listening, until next time, one step at a time, keep that sticky ball rolling and don't underestimate what you can do over time and try not to overestimate what you can do in a given week or month because it'll just end up beating the shit out of yourself. And that does not tend to help you in the long term. So be just a little bit kinder than is necessary to not just others, but to yourself. And thanks for tuning in. .