How to Be a Better Thinker | The Nerdwriter (Evan Puschak) on Impact Theory | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "How to Be a Better Thinker | The Nerdwriter (Evan Puschak) on Impact Theory".
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- Hey everybody, welcome to Impact Theory. You're here because you believe that human potential is nearly limitless, but you know that having potential is not the same as actually doing something with it. So our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas that will help you actually make good on your potential. All right, I'm really excited about today's guest because he thinks about shit deeply. He crawls inside important ideas like an intellectual archeologist and roots around grubby fists and all until he finds the narrative thread that makes those ideas accessible. In an era where people will tell you the only thing that matters is entertaining people, he's built a wildly successful YouTube channel with roughly one million subscribers that proves there's still a huge market for depth. His powerful essay is on an absurdly wide range of topics from Batman and Rihanna to politics and moral issues, provide viewers with the kinds of insights that can truly shape one's worldview. Recognizing his unique gifts, MSNBC snatched him up to produce for them when he was still in his early 20s and the Discovery channel tapped him to write and host a show on their digital network, Seeker Daily, where he produced a horde of breakout content. He is, in my opinion, everything that is good about the internet and he's proving that creators from anywhere armed with a simple camera and a willingness to work their asses off can not only make a living as content producers, but they can alter the very direction and flow of cultural discourse. Please help me in welcoming the man whose entirely self-made treasure trove of content has been viewed more than 48 million times by people all over the world, the creator of the smash hit YouTube series, The Nerdwriter, Evan Pouschak. - What an introduction. - Dude, I want that on my tombstone. I would love it. - Cool, man, well, honestly, that the intro is sort of the hurdle for bringing people on the show. It's like, am I willing to do enough research about the person to be able to write that? Am I gonna get something out of it? And researching you was really awesome. So Jason Silva put you on my radar. - Jason's a great guy. - And I am eternally indebted to him for that and not being super familiar with the essay format on YouTube was really, really interesting to see the diverse range of topics that you cover, which of course then led me to trying to find out like what is the mission statement that you guys have? So the concept of cultivating worldview, what exactly does that mean?
Personal And Professional Growth Strategies
What does cultivating worldview mean? (02:42)
- Well, it was something that launched the whole idea of the show and that was that when I had graduated college at Boston, I had this very strange sort of frustrating feeling that I knew a lot of things, but I just didn't know how they all connected and I felt like I was constantly consuming contradictory information and it just really bothered me 'cause I felt that I didn't have a foothold on my own knowledge. And so worldview for me was a kind of organizing principle of how do all the things that you know connect? How do you build a worldview in which you are building bridges between the different spheres of things that you're learning? And so cultivating is what you know and how those things connect. And that's what the show is in it.
How do you cultivate a worldview? (03:41)
I wanna show people how I built my worldview, not so that they can adopt it, but so that there can be a template for doing it yourself. - I love though that you've said, and this is actually really interesting, I wanna go into this, but you've said that it's okay if you wanna adopt my worldview, I think that's how it starts, you steal somebody else's. - Yeah, that's how I did it. - So walk me through that 'cause I think seeing the way that you do it is maybe it's certainly as important, maybe even more important than the actual worldview that you present, which is very coherent and very compelling. But how does that process look? If it starts with stealing somebody else's while you get the momentum going, how do you progress beyond that? - Well, you have to learn how to think. I mean, that's the first part of it. Ralph Waldenverson, who is one of the early thinkers that really blew my mind said that a young man reveres men of genius because to speak truly they are more himself than he is. And that is the perfect sort of way to think about being young and trying to build a mindset for yourself is that when you read the great philosophers or just the great thinkers about anything, what is so enlightening about them is that they knew how to say these things. They articulated them in a certain way that when I read them in a lot of Emerson, almost all of Emerson, when I'm reading it, it was like this series of revelations where it was like, yes, that is what I was thinking about this. This is what I wanna say about it. And so Emerson is right. He was more me than I was at that moment because he was articulating those things. So you start off by adopting the beautiful thinkers and beautiful articulators of the past. And then by just applying a little bit of critical thinking, you're gonna sort of carve out your own statue. You're gonna carve away the things that don't mesh with you and you're gonna add on the things that do. And that's a long process of cultivating something that you can sort of have and use to judge all incoming information against. - Yeah, it's interesting because without sort of that eloquence was sort of how I put things together in my own head about, people often talk about thinking unique thoughts, right? And that's like a big obsession. It's not a unique thought, whatever. And I thought, wow, I'm not sure that I ever really have unique thoughts. What I'm trying to do is take in enough information that I can make unique connections, right? So what you're saying about pairing away the sculpture until only you remain is actually pretty beautiful. Was it Michelangelo that said that? Like I don't, I carve away the pieces that aren't David or whatever until I, you know, until its form is finally revealed. It's actually a really interesting way of thinking about it. Why do you think cultivating a worldview is useful? - I think it's useful because it provides a foundation through which you can act. You know, it's hard to act in the world, in an intentional way, without having a base or a foundation in which you feel stable and stable and you're comfortable with. That was the kind of anxiety, the cosmic anxiety that I was feeling at that time when I was a little bit younger was that I don't know how to move forward here because I don't feel like I'm stepping on something that's odd. I feel like I'm stepping on so many clouds, you know, and it's sort of, it was disorienting. And so when you start figuring out what your worldview is, which is just another way to say, when you start to figure out, you know, what your morals are and what your philosophy is as an individual person, but also how that relates to the world. The way forward looks a lot more clear because it almost becomes inevitable what you have to do. When you make a moral decision, you're making a decision based on how you should, it's based on how you should act. So, you know, once you start to get a handle on it, I think the world becomes a little bit less scary and your actions in it become a little bit more certain and intentional. I think that's what we're all trying to do. At least that's what I was trying to do back. - It's really great answer. So I love that metaphor that you're using of it, feeling like you're stepping on clouds, sort of that squishy, marshy, like am I about to fall through? Like kind of vibe, which very much I had in my early 20s for sure. Do you know Pete Carroll? - Yeah. - So I'm not a big sports guy, but he happened to be the coach of USC and then the Seahawks and being from Tacoma and having gone to USC, made my radar. And then, you read Angela Duckworth's book, "Grit." - I haven't. - He comes up in that and she really lays out his philosophy. So he was the coach of New England, the New England Patriots and didn't do well, ends up getting fired, goes to college football, ends up crushing it at USC and then going on to the Seahawks and winning the Super Bowl. And people ask him like, what the hell? Like how did you go from getting fired to having such a crazy career in college and then back to the NFL as a winning coach? And he said, somebody told me, you lack a life philosophy. And he said it was really realizing that I needed a life philosophy. I needed that base that you're talking about to have the firmness under my feet, the way forward, as you said, like the way forward becomes really clear. And I think when people are really thinking about like, so the question I get asked more than anything, how do I find my passion? - Yeah.
How Do You Choose Your Passion? (09:13)
- And which actually may be sort of a side step to what you're really doing with your show. - That's a crazy silly question, I think. I mean, that's a question I hear a lot too. I mean, and I think that's something that we're inculcated to think about when we're young and in college or in the schooling system, how do you find your passion? Like, it's something that you're gonna find under a rock, which is not the way it's, I think the great tragedy of modern society is that there is no thing for every individual person. You have aptitudes, like if you can draw, then you have aptitude for that. And there are certain things biologically that you're gonna be given and you'll be lucky to have them. But in terms of finding your passion, everything in modern society, because it does not push you in a certain direction. That is, that's what being in a free society means, is a choice. And because it's a choice, it's a tragedy. It's so, you know, it's so arbitrary. - Why do you say it's a tragedy, I understand. - It's a tragedy because, you know, in a society where, you know, you're pushed to do a certain thing. If you're 300 years ago, if your father was a cobbler, you were gonna be a cobbler. Right, you, you know, didn't have many prospects outside of that, but you didn't have a chance to fail at choosing something in your life. You were gonna be a cobbler, your identity was stable from the start. You know, for us, in this society, where we are not only not told what to be, but we're not told how to learn what to be, which is to say we're not told how to learn what your passion is, it only comes down to a choice. And the choice is arbitrary, and I think people, and myself, there's a difficulty in overcoming that fact, because we wanna believe, and the messaging we're given is that there is something out, there's a passion out there for you, that you have to discover and wait for it to reveal itself, like a soulmate.
Choose Your Passion Stop Waiting For It (10:50)
Yeah, but the real truth is that you just have to choose. Choosing, you know, is, when it's not based on anything, is scary. - So, okay, let me follow that logic then. So, get world view, realize then based on world view that you're going to pick a path that leads to passion. - Yeah, I mean, passion will come, I think. I mean, if you do something, when you do something that you develop an expertise in, you know. - Do you recall Newport's book? - So good they can't ignore you? - I'd have it, no. - I think, judging by what you're saying, now you're gonna love it. But he goes into that thing where gaining mastery is a fundamental part of passion. And if you don't give mastery, good luck. - Well, that's, I mean, that's the whole, you know, Jason Silver, who we both know and who is, you know, so intense and so awesome. He loves to talk about flow. And, you know, I love it as an idea. You know, when you pick a lane for yourself, you'll develop a mastery, you'll feel great about it. If you have to, you course correct. But I don't think that it reveals itself to you, like something that was waiting for you to find it. - Exactly. - So where people go wrong? - You've talked really powerfully about your own course correction. So really cool, by the way. So for those of you who don't know, he literally, he creates a video for the saying called "The Kind Project", making desk for these underprivileged kids in Africa. The video is just a smash hit, starts getting a lot of attention, gets on the news, goes to MSNBC, literally live in the broadcast. And the woman says, "Hey, somebody here should basically hire you." Which they then do, which is incredible. But then you realize, not loving this. - No, I didn't. And MSNBC was great to me. So I have to say that first. And individual people there are extraordinarily smart and very cool and all my bosses were great. And that experience was crazy because I was, working as a telemarketer, selling car warranties, just absolutely hating my life. And I made this one video. And Lauren Sodontel, the host of The Last Word, which is The Ten o'clock Show, saw it, had me on the air. And then the next day he was in Burbank and asked me out for lunch. And at that lunch asked me if I wanted to move to New York to work for them. It's like, "Would you like to do it?" And I don't know if he had the authority to do it. I don't think he did. So they spent like five months trying to build a job for me there, which I eventually took. And when I got there, I thought, maybe I'll work my way through the ranks here and find that this is what I love. And then within, I'd say, a few months, it just sort of started to rub me the wrong way. - Well, so before we just gloss on, so walk me through the mindset. So you're there and not loving it. A voice in your head is very much saying, "This isn't for me." Most people will stay there for years, years and years. - I wouldn't leave until someone kicks them out. - Well, I sort of did. I mean, here's the thing is that once I checked out of being a good employee at the company, which is horrible to say, but that's the truth, is I would spend hours in an office hidden away working on the Nerdwriter during work. Now, I don't suggest that to people because you want to be a good employee, but I had a lot of free time there. And so I was thinking, I have to double down on my own work. And so I just started working on that show all the time. And I had quit when I thought that MSMMC might be my path. I sort of left the Nerdwriter for a little bit for a few months, but then when it was not so great, I started up again and I was like, "Hey, I renewed my passion for this." And I worked and worked and worked.
Confronting the Comeback Decision during Career Setbacks (14:58)
And then someone at Discovery saw a video. They just said, "We're launching a new show called "Seeker Daily." And would you be interested in writing the show with a co-host and hosting it and launching it for us? And I heard that, I felt the same way. I felt like this could be my path. And we talk about sort of how does the show scale. I thought, well, maybe this is the way. Maybe I leave the Nerdwriter and work for Discovery where I'm in a higher leadership position. My editorial influence is greater. Maybe I'm the voice behind the show and I make it exactly what I want with the resources of Discovery. Another learning experience that wasn't the case to me. - Why hell, man. - As soon as I sort of checked out of there and started phoning it in, I started paying a lot more attention to the Nerdwriter and what I really wanted to do. - Yeah, it's such a fascinating thing. And so we're sort of on opposite sides of this, right? So I'm an employer. So I know what it's like to have a large group of people and have this huge enterprise that can only work if you can find people that can feel their most alive, right? And if there's one thing I promise you, it's that it works for some people and other people fucking hate it, right? And so you're constantly like, Jesus, what do I do? Because you want people to be alive and you want it to be the thing that they wanna do. And you, like what I always told people is be here for the most selfish reason ever. Like don't come to work for me, right? Like I'll think about me, all obsessed about me and what I'm trying to do, I'll make sure the company's fine. You come for you because when somebody's in the room grinding it out because their passion happens to align with what the show needs to be successful, unbelievably amazing things happen. So we were talking before we came on camera about boil things down to the physics, right? And so the physics of being a human is when you feel connected to something, when you feel passionate, it makes you feel alive. You wanna do it, right? You're moving towards something. No one has to tell you to do it. There's like this pull through demand of this is my calling or whatever. - Absolutely, absolutely. - So it's fucking tricky, right? It's tricky on both sides of the fence. - Because people, like you say, some aren't built for that. And for me, like, you know, I studied film and narrative filmmaking and I thought I was gonna be a future film director. And one of the huge things about filmmaking that makes it so great that I hated was that it was collaborative. - Right. - Okay? So-- - Know thyself. - Know thyself, all right? So when I used to direct short films, I used to give the speech to my whole crew and I was always the director. I used to say, listen, I'm gonna be a dictator, a benevolent dictator here, right? I'd love to hear what you say, but I wanna make it very clear that I have the final say on everything and this is my vision that we're all helping to realize my vision. But that's not for you, fine, like we can get onto another film. But I'm such a protective perfectionist about my own work that I work best when I am by myself doing a project. And that's why I quit filmmaking and started writing fiction because you do that by yourself. And now the nerd writer is a similar thing which is, which I only, there's nobody on the team, it's just me. Collaborative in my life with my relationships. Not in my work. In my life, I let people in, there's a give and take. I love people, they love me back. It's a very integrated thing. And so there's people out there who you're never gonna convince to be a part of that larger thing, I think. And that must be the most difficult thing as a manager or a leader of a company. 'Cause those people need jobs too. - Right. - You know, what are they gonna do? - Yeah, I mean, that's really fascinating. It's like parents when they think about, okay, well the techniques I used on child A worked, but the techniques I used on child A don't work on child B. So now what? So, and that was actually really interesting. So like my sister and I grew up in the same household, very different outcomes. So, we had the same parents, but some things worked really well for me and then some things worked really well for her. But there wasn't like a lot of crossover. And that's what it's like running a company is your tech, your natural techniques. And I think the goal of a leader has to be to transcend your natural techniques to find something like Pete Carroll says a life philosophy that allows you to figure this stuff out and to tie it back to what we were talking about with, you know, cultivating a worldview, you need a filter, right? You need to know what to say yes to and what to say no to. And whether that's as a leader, whether that's as an employee, whether that's as an artist or just somebody trying to make it through life, figuring out like what decisions to make, right? From a moral standpoint, - Of course. - You need to have that filter, but it is really difficult to, when you start talking about a mass of people, and this is what, another thing we were talking about off camera is, so I'm looking at the nerd writer and I'm thinking fuck, like this content is on another planet, like it's so good, and I could just sit there and watch it. But the real question that you should be asking is why do I think it's good?
Ken Sugy (the art of brokenness) (20:10)
Because it's gonna be very different for other people. So for me, usability is all that matters. So I'm watching the content and I'm saying, oh shit, I can really use this piece of information. Like you totally fucked up my life, you changed it in the most beautiful and amazing way with the Hemingway quote and the notion of, what's it, Kentucky? - Kinsugi. - Kinsugi, thank you. - Yeah. - So I'm watching that episode about Kinsugi, the record player of my life skips, grinds to a halt, I'm like, this is unbelievable. And the Hemingway quote that you threw in, which I had never heard, immediately put it on my list of like life changing quotes, is life breaks everyone and some are stronger in the places that broke. - Yeah. I was-- - Great quote. - Whoa. - Great writer. - Walk us through that concept, that art form, what it is, how it's impacted you. - So interesting because that's a video that I've probably gotten the most personal feedback about. And the concept is sort of simple. In Japanese culture, they have an art craft art called Kinsugi, where when ceramics are broken, they don't throw them out and buy another, or create another one from scratch. They put the ceramic pieces back together. But the way that they had, it he's them is with gold, a kind of gold adhesive gold sparkly, you know-- - It's almost like a mortar. - Material, yeah, it's beautiful. And so you get these pieces that are broken, but at the cracks are more beautiful. And I thought, that is such a perfect metaphor. And it's not my metaphor because it goes into the Buddhist concept of wabi sabi. But the idea that we are going to go through trauma, and it's particularly relevant right now, I think, in the post-election period, we are going to go through trauma. But trauma is an opportunity to change and to reorganize the elements that made up your life. I gave a speech in Singapore a couple weeks ago. And what I spoke about was that when a person's mind is traumatized, it's like the story that they were telling themselves has ceased to be persuasive, right? And when a story stops being persuasive, it is disorienting, and that, I think, is what trauma is. The period between when your old story breaks apart because of this last straw in the camel's back thing. I mean, we're gonna continue to tell ourselves the old stories until it's so glaringly contradictory that it doesn't hold up. So trauma is the period between when that breaks down and when you, from the pieces of the old, build something new. And we'll never glorify the trauma itself. But recognize that in that period, you have a very unique opportunity that will only come along a handful of times in your life to reorganize the story that you tell about yourself to yourself. So that, for me, is what Kinsuga is all about. And I think a lot of people just really connected with that idea. - For sure. So the idea behind my entire life, and certainly the idea behind this show is that humans are constructed, right? Which is why I think Jason knew I would resonate with you. The concept of cultivating, which it's that you say cultivating worldview, right? So there's something so active in cultivation. It's choices. And you know, you're talking about the narrative, and I've never heard anybody say before that trauma is the moment where your old story breaks down, you can't cling to it anymore, and you have yet to build the new one through Kinsugi. That's fucking beautiful, by the way, and thank you for that. - Thank you. - And I'm a big believer in you have to open yourself up to being changed, that really changed me. That's really fucking cool. - Yeah. - So thinking about this notion of, I'm gonna take an active role in rebuilding myself and doing it in a way that becomes an art form. Like that's super, super interesting to me. So I'm gonna wrap up really fast why I brought that up, but I wanna come back to it. So I brought that up just to talk about scalability. - Yeah. - So you're having this big impact on people, which I think is important. And I think that we're living through a revolution right now. And the revolution is that the medium is changing so much that there are no gatekeepers anymore. And the only gatekeeper is your ability to get my attention. - Yeah. - That's, like when people really understand what that means. - Huge, huge opportunity that should not be glossed over. - Yeah, it's a paradigm for creators. And so you've risen up and there are other people like you. - I got I was born in this era. - Yeah, for sure. - For sure. - For sure. Then the next question becomes, so how do you scale it? Like, and I ask that from the position of somebody who wants you to touch more lives. - You know, scaling for me is the thing that I'm constantly thinking about in the business. I mean, 90% of my mental energy is, you know, going towards creating the videos, which is all I really wanna do. But now that the business side has become-- - Is that really all you wanna do? - You just wanna create the videos. - Yeah, I mean, I'm a film director at heart. Like, I'm a creator at heart. The impact that comes out of it is still very important to me and I try to engage with it as much as I can. But the business side of it, particularly, it makes me cringe a little bit. That said, I do think about scaling the show and what's the way forward because I want to make the most impactful work. And so when I think of scaling, I think in that way. - Yeah, it's interesting because I think that, so you and I look at the world in, let's say, if we were Venn diagrams, like there's 90% overlap. I was watching your content, I'm like, "Yeah, I find this interesting too." Like, it's amazing, like, this guy's DJing my brain. It was like, just so much fun. And then there's like this area that does an overlap where we see things really differently. So when I look at anything, right, the first question I'm asking is scalability. Now that speaks to my personality, that speaks to my worldview, not that objectively it's right. So when I think about Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, right, you had one guy, all he cared about was scale. And then you had the other guy who so enjoyed the art of being on the motherboard and wiring things together that he actually asked to be a mid-level engineer. Like, you own the company and you-- - He's a fascinating character. - Even now, like the things that he sort of toils away with, toils away are small, but you know, it's amazing. - We're living through a time right now to entrepreneurial generation. - Yeah. - Now, to really be an entrepreneur, to be the lead, to be the alpha in an entrepreneurial organization, is it takes a certain personality type and not everybody's going to enjoy it. And I think a lot about my wife and I, so my wife and I co-founded the company, she puts this whole show together. Literally, I am the talent, I'm not just saying that. Like, I'm the talent of her show. But the show, what you see, like that's her and the team. - Yeah. - So, but I think about our personality type. She has no interest in leading, right? So she wants to follow my vision. - By the way, interesting.
Self Awareness (27:57)
- I mean, it speaks to your interest in Wozniak and just the desire to really create. And the funny thing is I went to film school. So, I used to want to be on set, I wanted to direct, and then one day I think it was my wife that asked me, like, would you ever go back to directing? I was like, no, I could never do that. - Yeah. - And the reason that I couldn't go back to directing is for me, for my personality type, once you taste scale, there's no going back. So, like, as you're talking about nerd writer and wanting it to be less content and more impact, I'm like, fuck yeah, less content, more impact, that's awesome. So I'm gonna put Evan on that. And then I'm gonna have somebody over here doing the daily content, 'cause we got it like the algorithm's changing, bro. - Yeah, I think. - Like, you gotta stay on that. - YouTube is changing. - Right. - I hear that, and I might need to partner with a U-type figure in the future to, you know, to do this, but I, so Seinfeld always says, like, the relationship with the show was so white hot that he knew he had to stop after nine seasons, because they were gonna offer him like $100 million for season 10. And he just knew that a little bit of too much can ruin a whole experience. So I wanna make sure that I am doing things right, but I'm also, you know, not turning away from the opportunities that are coming at me. - Sure. You have a lot of self-awareness. If you had to teach somebody how to be self-aware like that, what are the steps? - Oh, God. That's a good question. You have to be brutally honest with yourself, I guess. I mean, you know, put yourself around the people who will support the journey that you're on. For me, like introspection is one great source of the content that I make, you know. - Do you have like a strategy for introspection?
How to effectively think about things. (29:49)
Like, do you put headphones on and listen to the sound of the rain? And like, are there things that you do to really facilitate that or? - No, I hate the rain. No, love the rain, but I don't. I mean, for me, like there's always a conversation happening in your head, in my mind. So it's like, you know, my personal belief is that the, you know, the mind is, you know, made up of language. So I am constantly, you are constantly telling a story to yourself about yourself and about the world. And it's got those two facets. If you just take the time, you can listen to it and make it explicit. Best way to do that is to write it down, right? - That's interesting. - You don't think without writing. There's no thought without language. So you have to make it explicit. You know, when I was, when I just graduated school, you know, one of the first things I did is I read all the philosophy that there was. You know, I started from the pre-suckratics and I went all the way down to the 20th century and tried to just get all the big benchmarks and read all the books. - With a particular bent for Albert Kenmuth, I remember Ken. - Yeah, I mean, he was a, he was a, he was definitely a watershed moment. But I, after that, wrote this thing called a discourse on truth, right? And I had it bound up at Kinko's and it looked really nice and I had the perfect font and I got A4 paper and I made like 100 copies of it. And it was this like very highfalutin, kind of very pretentious, leeward of the thing that went through truth and ways to know it and things like that. And I gave it to all my family and my friends who were like, you know, what is this thing? You know, this looks like you just, you know. So, but it was so important for me. And when you learn how to listen to your own story and write it down, I think self-awareness is like an inevitable byproduct of that. Because you get addicted to knowing what you think about something. Yeah, I think there's this weird state we all have. You know, we're operating on old memories and we're operating on things that we read, but we haven't really like retained. As soon as you start transferring that whole messy, cloudy, misty area of knowledge into explicit knowledge, you're gonna start seeing a lot more in yourself and what's out there. And so, my advice is to write, just write and the rest will follow. The story that you were telling about the journal that you wrote is, what was it, the truth? The discourse on truth. The discourse on truth. At all, find bookstores. It's actually pretty interesting and it made me think about how people, 'cause I know what your family was thinking when they read it, like, oh God, right? Like it's pretentious or graduated from school, it doesn't have a job, but he's gonna do this. Right. But here's the thing, when people see little kids like learn how to walk and like, you know, they stop peeing the bed, they're, oh my God, right? They're ecstatic, they're over the moon. But we should be thinking the same thing about intellectual development, right? 'Cause maybe that was like a little cringe worthy or whatever. - Certainly. - But what, it's actually a really important exploration. So I went through a similarly cringe worthy thing in my late teens in high school when I got really into Eastern philosophy. And so, like, I had the answer to everything, right? - Yeah. - So, be like, what are my friend? You know what I mean, like, that kind of shit. And I remember, like, I was convinced, I was gonna go to college, get my degree as like, the safety net, but then I was moving to the wilderness in China. - Dude, I am so with you. I had the same thing. - My man. - I was like, I got to this point where I was like, oh, I have to work my body out. Like, I have to be a farmer. And I went to work on a farm. - Nice. - For like a few months. - Wow. - Because I was like, this is the inevitable last step of this journey that I have to go on. So I have to do it. And then I thought, well, I'll probably have to just be a monk for 10 years. And I was like, considering the ways of telling my family that I wasn't gonna be able to contact them because, you know, in monk school, we can't contact anyone. - Yeah, monk school, I like that. That is bad as coming about the farm. - I went to Normandy in France through a program called HelpX, which was like, you live in someone's farm and they feed you and work for them. Eventually I got over that. Thank God. - But I'm gonna guess you actually learned some lessons from that kind of hard-ass work. - Yeah, you do. You learn to persevere through, you know, through pain. You know, 'cause working a whole day, moving branches or moving heavy pieces of wood is so, you know, it's so exhausting. And it, I, people who do that for their whole lives, I only did it for a very short period of time, but it was very illuminating in that way. It's that you just have to keep working at it and eventually you'll finish. But that was a direct outgrowth of the philosophy thing that we were talking about. It was like, this is the path I have to take. - Yeah, that's really fascinating. So that's how I think of the gym, by the way. For me, it's my-- - I haven't asked you that yet. - When I was a kid, I always had to have a job during the summers and because I was so insanely lazy, I would take whatever job my parents would get for me 'cause I didn't want to go apply for a job. So that meant it was always manual labor. So I worked in a pain factory. I did a pain store. I worked doing literal like hard labor. There was one summer where all I was doing was a job. So I spent some time smashing concrete with a pickaxe and just doing all this stuff that is, your mind literally is, if you have a certain personality type and I think that we share that, like your mind is just racing. Get me out of here or you go into a zen state, right? And you find this way to separate your mind from your body so that your brain can like go explore, go daydream, be somewhere else, be creative while your body is set to this task. But it's actually one of those periods where your mind is a lot of really productive thinking because you so want to escape the reality of what you're doing at that moment that the only place to go is in. And I actually found, so I loved your explanation about write it down, it makes it concrete and it takes this sort of ephemeral mush and turns it into something very real. I felt that way about having manual labor to do because my body was taken care of. There were no distractions, oddly enough, there were no distractions from my physicality. I was totally engrossed in this thing, right? This amount of cement has to be broken apart, this vat of paint has to be cleaned out, like whatever it is, you sort of set your body to that task. Do you read Kurt Vonnegut? - Of course. - All right, so I forget which story it's in, but there's one where the people can move their body in a direction and then send their mind in the opposite direction, they can actually exit their body. - Which I always, that felt so true to me. Because that was what manual labor was for me. I would send my body over here to do something and then I would turn my mind to this way to deal with some intellectual pursuit, some either film idea or who knows. But in doing that, really learning to go deep is why I was asking you, like what your process is, in fact one of the first questions I wrote down that I wanted to ask you was, what is your process? You've done such a good job of taking a subject, like Rihanna's work, work, work, work, work, song. Like you've got a whole fucking like show about that song. - I love that video. - I love that video. - How's this happening? He made a show, he spent a week on this song and it's really interesting, hardcore week. How did you train yourself to go deep like that? - I think when you write a lot, it makes it a little bit easier to compose a story. Right, so that part of my brain is, and mind is still is primed for taking the information and composing it into something that is persuasive and like a story. So every week or whenever I come up with something for the nerd writer, it's usually a combination of some kind of introspective thought process that I wanna talk about. And something from the world that I've consumed that I think is interesting and like talk about and it's like, oh, there's a good interaction between those two, let's see what I can do there. So once I have that, which is the hardest part because ideas are just a bitch, then I research very intensely for a week or two weeks. - Do you give intention to your subconscious at all? Forget who it was, it said it, maybe Einstein, oh God, it was one of the like big scientists who said, never go to sleep without making a demand of your subconscious. And I thought, wow, this guy has accomplished a lot in his life, so I'm gonna take that pretty seriously. - Well, I mean, there is a truth in that your mind works out problems when you sleep. So yeah, a lot of times I will be totally stuck on something and go to sleep and wake up next morning finding that I've solved that persuasive problem, whatever it is. - That's awesome. - Yeah.
Impact Alexis wants to have with his life. (39:03)
- All right, so what's the impact that you wanna have with your life? - With my life. - I don't know, I mean, you said earlier in the interview that you saw something that was in one of my videos and it sort of stopped you in your tracks and helped you think a different way. Like I've been talking about a lot in this interview, for me, we learned by saying, not thinking, we learned by articulation and articulation is what makes the world go around, right? So the impact I wanna have is I want to articulate things in such a way that people actually view a different world than they viewed before they heard what I said about it. You know, because the world and our minds are made up of language and when you find a new way write that language, you change the world and you change people's minds. - Man, thank you so much for coming on this.
- Cheers, brother. - Absolutely. - It's been awesome. - It's been awesome. - Fantastic. - What can these guys find you online? - You can go to the Nerdwriter on YouTube, if you just type in the Nerdwriter in Google, you'll find it. I have a Twitter as well, but I mean, it's all happening at the Nerdwriter Show. So watch it, subscribe. - All right, guys, be sure to do that. You're gonna wanna go deep in this man's world. I promise you, it doesn't matter what you are interested in. He has gone down that rabbit hole and he has come back with a nuggets of gold that you need to understand in his words to open a new door for you and show you things in a totally new way to help you put unique connections between things that you never would have imagined before. The idea of actively cultivating your worldview of building that platform and translating it from clouds that really feel like you're gonna fall, you're on unstable ground and making it this platform that's actually going to let you find out what you wanna do, how to move forward, pivot. If you're later in your life, it doesn't matter. Going in and learning how to think, learning how to objectively critique these things and really go in and discover a truth that you don't see when you're skipping across the surface. And what I love is he will do the profane, the profound. He will go on pop music and make you realize that there's a layer of depth and interconnectivity that you never could have imagined. But then he'll also break down Gotham City through the ages and deal with comic books. It is fucking incredible. It is a whole universe unto this man. And the most amazing thing that you're gonna take away is you're gonna realize that there's a whole universe unto you and he is going to help you tap into that. So subscribe, drink deeply of this man's stuff. It is unbelievably great. Evan, thank you so much for coming on the show, man. It was a pleasure. Please give it up. Guys, you know this is a weekly show. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. We are trying to get as many amazing people like this on the show as humanly possible. And if you rate and review, that will help us out. So go to iTunes, Stitcher, let us know what you think, tell the world about the show. And until next time, my friends, be legendary. Subscribe! Thank you. That was awesome. That was fantastic. A lot of fun. Thank you. Hey everybody, thanks so much for joining us for another episode of Impact Theory. If this content is adding value to your life, our one ask is that you go to iTunes and Stitcher and rate and review. Not only does that help us build this community, which at the end of the day is all we care about, but it also helps us get even more amazing guests on here to show their knowledge with all of us. Thank you guys so much for being a part of this community. And until next time, be legendary, my friends.