This is an interview with my man Fritz in St. Louis, who runs ArchDevOps. He was actually the guest on Episode 27 back in the day. On that episode (27), we talked about battling cancer, raising daughters, and more. This one is more about parenting through COVID, homeschooling, the power of weightlifting, Earth as a “death planet,” and finding and retaining work during a pandemic. Hope you enjoy.
This is a short interview with my man Stuart Higgins of Higgins Talent Sourcing. We talk shop a tiny bit (recruiting), but most of this is about the uncertainty of the modern moment. He's based in England, but his wife is from Poland, and he did this interview in Poland. They're kinda floating and taking care of her mom these days, and oh by the way, they just had their first kid during COVID-19. He couldn't be back up to the hospital for two weeks after the birth. What's the experience of new fatherhood like in such a weird time?
This is a conversation with my LinkedIn friend (I surprisingly have a few of those), Daava, who is a recruiter in Portland Metro. We taped this maybe two weeks ago, so before all the political stuff happening in Portland right now, hence that’s not covered. However, this is still pretty interesting, and we talk about dance moms (she is one), competitive motherhood, the future of recruiting, communication styles, and what type of candidate/employee might excel because of COVID paradigm shifts. There’s also a story about low ponytails and excessive Miller Lite consumption in here. Hope you enjoy it!
This is an interview with Colorado-based organizational consultant Jeff Kinsey, who has a company called The Logos Group about 20 minutes from Boulder, CO. We talk a lot about the influx of people into Colorado, “The Note Police” at work, finding a true strategic path, and the question of what “diversity” even is -- i.e. is it racial, gender-based, or cognitive-driven. Hope you enjoy it, and we’ll be back next week.
My guest on this episode is Peter, who recently wrote a book called Honest to Greatness, which is coming out in mid-August. He actually has a 21-question “honesty quiz” on his website, which I linked in my show notes for this episode. He scaled an agency and he focuses on a coaching/consulting approach driven by honesty, which might seem like an oxymoron to some people. I’ve thought a lot about honesty at work, and in personal context, over the last few years as well. The big example in this space is probably Ray Dalio and “radical transparency,” and Peter and I discuss that here. We also talk about some research on how virtually every human being under the sun has lied in their life, but how you lie is typically a function of social class and access to resources. Peter calls honesty a “clarion call” for the rest of your existence, and I’d largely agree with that. Final quick note here: I think I hadn’t “dropped” an episode in about 7-9 days. I’m trying to get back to two per week but also balancing out the rest of my life and income possibilities, so for the 5,000 or so people who have listened to this so far and might come back, I’ll try to stay consistent with new episodes. Alright, let’s get to Peter and honesty.
This episode, my guest is Francie, who founded an online career coaching program called Terawatt. (They even have a pretty good blog.) We start this interview talking about life transitions -- her and her husband and kid spent eight years in California and moved back to the east coast last summer -- and then we get into coaching, leadership, management, and how to guide yourself through a career and find help from others. If you’re into leadership contexts, it’s a good, quick-ish (27 or so minutes) discussion. Let’s get going.
This is a conversation with my friend James, who is based “across the pond” in England. We start out talking about Brexit, and then we move into some of the problems with communication and language and persuasion and listening in a mobile-digital-first age, before getting into some generations stuff too. I think we even work Emma Watson in there. As a final quick note, I’ve got a few more episodes taped to publish, but it’s drying up a little bit, so if you think you might be interested in coming on for 25-30 minutes to talk about life, love, and the pursuit of adulthood, shoot me a message.
The guest on this episode is my friend Matt. He’s from the east coast but relocated to Denver and he’s part of the Just Be Social squad on the Twitter device, which includes a few of my previous guests on this podcast as well. Matt is a good dude, and we overlap in the sports fandom, meme fandom, and recruiter Internet ecosystem worlds. Thing is, he’s actually in recruiting and I just talk about it periodically. In this episode, we start on #BillsMafia and whether Buffalo people can have nice things (could this be the year with Brady gone?), and then we talk about housing prices, buying homes, relationships, and whether people stay friends when they stop being co-workers. Hope you mostly enjoy it!
Earlier this week, I actually got in a semi-heated Twitter exchange about the role of Instagram in everything that’s going on racially. I was going toe-to-toe with Angelica Mata, who was actually the guest on Episode 21 of this podcast. Anyway, I’m not a big fan of IG broadly, and I think the reason is that when I was on it, I was following the wrong people and brands and I was seeing a bunch of low-context virtue signaling. I’m not on it right now and I can only imagine that’s happening around race issues.
Anyway, my guest on this episode is Kenny, and he’s a creative director who began as a photographer, so we talk about Instagram and its role. We also talk about fatherhood, creativity, five-year plans, and more. We’re gonna dive in talking about concepting and briefs.
This interview is with my friend Darren, who is Jewish and from a small town in Texas that has, well, as you might imagine, not a good deal of Jewish people aside from his family. So we talk about being an outsider, understanding why others are outsiders, embracing different perspectives, online filter bubbles, and a little bit about HR and the ridiculousness of surveys (that part is towards the end). We actually taped this back on May 6th or 7th, well before the George Floyd protests, but I think a lot of the discussion resonates right now. Hope you find some value in it.
I think I first discovered the writings of Greg Satell, perhaps better known as Digital Tonto, sometime around 2015 when I was first trying to be a solo hustler. He’s an interesting dude. He was born and raised in Philly, lived all over Eastern Europe and the former Soviet block in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and ended up back about two miles from the house he grew up in. This conversation is predominantly about new ideas, technology, growth, and the accountability of Silicon Valley, but we also take a look at the Marriott-based party scene of Poland in the late 1990s. I actually taped this introduction in a WeWork -- don’t worry, I was social distancing at the time, which is to say no one was in the WeWork really -- so if you hear some background noise, my apologies. You’ll also hear my trusty dog, Samson, bark two times in this episode. And finally, I had a question about life experiences in your 30s for Greg, but befitting a conversation largely about tech, our Skype died out and it couldn’t reconnect, so I didn’t get to it. Still, enjoy this. I think ye will.
Sometimes in the weird freelance bubble that I’ve called home since 2015 or so, you randomly encounter people on the Internet who click “like” on some of your stuff, and then here and there you do a few work projects with them and can call them friends or acquaintances from afar. That’s the story with D’Nelle here, the guest on this episode. I dragged my feet a little on posting this because of other BS in my life, but it’s actually a really good conversation on defining yourself, the value of laziness, and how we’re all angry that people are not paying enough attention at a time when we’re all supposedly needing to pay more attention. Let’s get to it. We’re gonna start by talking about COVID’s impact on her business and her partner’s business.
Not everyone scales rapidly, "hyper-grows," or gets acquired by Spotify or another platform. And I think it's OK that we acknowledge the FULL spectrum of content creators, not just the bigger names. Ya know? So to hit 50 episodes on this growing-but-not-really-popular podcast, I wanted to give them a dime of encouragement.
Why can’t we just celebrate the idea of creation and new initiatives, even if they don’t scale rapidly or make billions of dollars?
This is just a short post to make this point: sometimes it’s OK to create a small thing, or a thing that serves a small purpose and doesn’t “hyper-scale.” Not everyone needs to be Amazon, or Joe Rogan, or whatever. Some people just create little things and a few people find them and you know what? That’s OK — and we should be acknowledging those people for being brave enough to create something out in that universe, chaotic as it may be.
Related reading: Why's it all about the number? | Shrine of Big Numbers | Life, 28-35 | Too much day drinking | Joel Hawbaker episode
There’s a huge ecosystem of recruiting and HR content out there in the world these days, which I’ve contributed to in part for sure. In fact, just on this podcast since I launched it, I’ve had Tim Sackett (Episode 35) and William Tincup (Episode 18), who are both semi-big names in that world. Well, to spare you some additional bullshit about dealing with recruiters and how to get jobs, especially in a layoff-heavy pandemic period, here I talked to Robert, who was one of my original antagonists on LinkedIn, where everyone seems to broadly not like me that much. In this interview, we talk about how recruiters work, agency (third-party) models vs. in-house models, AI, how to get the most from a recruiter relationship, and more. We cover all this in a little under 22 minutes, so it should be what they call “snackable” content for you. I cannot promise you a job or anything, because I myself really haven’t had much success north of 33 landing a conventional W-2, but I can promise you some context for how to work with and think about the recruiting sphere in this one.
This is an interview with my friend Jack. We met at ESPN in 2005; I started there that year, and I think he had been there about four years at that point. As such, we've been friends for 15 years now, and a chunk of it is definitely rooted in sports. This interview even begins with sports discussion -- Coach K, whether he's dirty, recruiting in basketball, and the 1992 Kentucky vs. Duke game. (The Laettner shot.) But Jack and I have also both struggled with drinking over the years, so eventually we get into that. What is a sober journey? What is the difference between sober friends and drunk friends, and the context of where you meet people? Then, near the end, I took out a little section where he educates me on how health insurance works (he worked within that space post-ESPN). I learned a bunch there, but not sure you wanted to hear it. Instead, we talk about rearview mirrors vs. windshields, staying on "the path," God, more about drinking, and just two guys being friends for all these many years.
Eamonn, who was on Episode 44 of this show, is also a friend from that time period. That Eamonn discussion is more about the broader biz world of advertising and data, and this episode is more about the intensely personal world of friendships, faith, and addiction struggles. I hope you find something in here of value.
This guest is named Diana. If you scroll back in your podcast player from this episode all the way to Number 29 of this show, it’s the same guest. We originally met in June 2003 doing Teach for America, both of us training in Houston. OK, so Episode 29 -- not this one -- is largely about an assessment she sent me and I completed and what that says about me and her as professionals. So that’s a little bit more of a “work” episode, and this is a little bit more of a “personal” episode, because we’ve both been divorced somewhere among the 17 summers since we first met. The core difference contextually is probably that she’s still close with her ex and they have a spot in each other’s lives, which is not my experience. But we talk about a bunch of stuff in this episode, including the first wedding you attend after your own divorce, which can be trippy. Plus: expectations, reaction vs. response, coaching, COVID as a near-death experience, and more. Alright, let’s get into it.
I met this guest, Todd, on LinkedIn -- I think that is an under-discussed channel of mid-30s and above male friendship, oddly -- within the last six months to a year, I think. We interacted on a few posts about different work things and then taped this episode, which starts with a look at the early days of TiVo. Todd was actually in the room the first time live TV was paused. Then we get into parenting and the idea of 13 year-olds having a moral obligation to be dicks to their parents, and then we get into some life lessons including what he learned from a book called “Cured.” Along the way there’s also a discussion about swim lanes of life, and how to decide whether to even have kids. Hope you enjoy it. Let’s roll.
This is an interview with my friend Gabe. I think we first started connecting sometime in 2018, on LinkedIn first. You know it’s some real serious shit because eventually we became Facebook friends too. This is a pretty far-reaching discussion on religion, relationships, being a manager at work, conspiracy theories, drinking, partying, growing up, and more. I hope you find some value in it. Let’s roll. We’re actually going to start by me telling Gabe about a conversation I had with my pastor, who actually also ended up on this podcast at Episode 37 I think, if you want to go check that out.
At this point, I am not even sure the first time I met this guest, Mr. Eamonn. We were friends at ESPN, so I figure we met sometime around fall 2005. It’s incredible to think that we’ve known each other 15 years at this point, and/or the fact that I’m almost 40 and he’s over it. Since we met in Central CT, we’ve probably lived in a combined 10 places, and he’s been in Hawaii and now back in Ireland. Life is weird. This is basically a discussion between friends and sometimes biz-type partners who belittle each other along the way, on topics ranging from God to data to sports to advertising to algorithms to relationships and back again. It’s in line with a few episodes I’ve done where I catch up with old friends about the status of their life and belief structure at the moment, which I probably can’t monetize that successfully, but hell, I think it has value. So, here we go. I think we’re going to start with a Pope and religion discussion.
I started doing Teach for America in mid-June 2003. It was still about two weeks before LeBron would even be drafted into the NBA. The previous summer, the Knicks had made the second round of the NBA playoffs -- and I don’t think they have been back to that round since. As of mid-June 2003, I think the only time I had been to Texas was a layover in DFW Airport. So I moved down there with a bunch of preconceived notions and no idea what I was in for in terms of teaching in the inner-city, and one of the first kids (we were all kids at the time, like 22 or so) I met was named Dave. He was also from the general Northeast, a Knicks fan, etc. We became friends. 17 summers later, we still talk periodically, so we taped this podcast and talk about a bunch of different stuff, from fixing education to middle-school basketball to the difference between living in Houston and living in NYC (it’s not as big as you think). At the end, we talk about male friendships in your 30s. Dave actually still teaches, and went from Houston back to NYC. I went from Houston back to CT and NYC, then back to Texas but in the DFW area. Life is weird, and maybe this conversation underscores that. Let’s get to it.
I initially heard this guest, James Hollis, on The Art of Manliness podcast. That episode was on finding meaning in the second half of life. Hollis is a Jungian therapist, i.e. Carl Jung. We don’t get into a tremendous amount of Jungian stuff here, but we talk about meaning throughout life, masculinity, and the ability to be with one's self in a quiet room. Having been divorced and trying to cope with that reality, I can tell you that’s a very real measure of a man. This episode is only about 20 minutes, so give it a whirl when you can. Let’s dive in.
I would guesstimate that the largest percentage of my first 40 episodes were people between the ages of 25 and 45. This episode is with Terry, who is a little bit north of that arc -- to the point that our first discussion here is actually about retirement. She’s retiring from a W-2 later this month, actually. And her and her husband are selling a house they’ve been in since 1987, so we talk about that as well. (My mom and dad actually moved out of the apartment I grew up in around early 2016, and they had been there since 1974.)
She wrote a cool piece on Medium about down-shifting houses and the role of your adult children in that process. Terry is also a member of Just Be Social on Twitter. I’ve interviewed a bunch of them at present, including Brenda, Mollie, Theresa, Angelica, etc. Fun little group. OK, let’s get into this episode.
I’ll keep this intro short, but I’ll make it a tad personal. Last summer (2019), I had just been piped out of this agency gig that I thought would have ended up better. Instead, I was there eight months, it largely seemed like most people disliked me, and I had a very unceremonious exit. Because of that and largely being fed up with the broader work ecosystem and how people get gigs and jobs, I was kind of a mess for part of summer ‘19, day-drinking and the like. Nothing I’m really proud of. Well, I have a couple of decent in-real-life friends who were helpful in that time, and then I have a few “Internet friends” who also were. Mike Simmons is my guest on this episode, and he falls into the latter category. Always down to discuss work or football or working out or finding mentors or getting better as a person. Interesting dude. This is about maybe 45 minutes of us talking about a wide variety of topics, including parenting, learning, the movie Cast Away, and more. We come back to COVID-19 a lot, though, and in fact we’re going to start there in terms of how to communicate with your team regarding what’s happening in the business in these moments. Let’s roll.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve very infrequently been to a successful training as an adult professional. Most are entirely subpar: stale cookies in the back of the room, chart paper on the walls, maybe some trust falls. But, while people do get new context and information professionally from interactions with co-workers and general life, the fact is that we put a semi-religious importance on training to hand people new skills. If the world of work is truly shifted by COVID, training will seemingly be a bigger deal in late 2020 and into 2021. But we haven’t broadly done it that well for a while. So it begs a work question and a broader question: how can we, as adults, gain and retain knowledge better? And how can we focus more on individual learning needs, as opposed to flashy technology? My guest on Episode 39 is my friend Laura, a learning and development professional, and we’re going to discuss this in both work and personal contexts. Let’s roll.
I quit drinking for Lent 2020 and my girlfriend, Katie, quit sweets/desserts. So, as Lent 2020 ended, we sat down for about 18 minutes to discuss both experiences. If you are wondering who "Samson" is and cannot figure it out from context clues, that would be our dog.
If you read some of the stuff I write or post, you may not think of me as a religious person. In some ways, I am not. I believe I was baptized Methodist, but as a kid I really only went to church on big events, or for weddings/funerals. It was not an active part of my life. I converted to Catholicism before marrying my ex. My mom was Catholic and my aunt is very Catholic so I had some context for it. That relationship did not long-term work out, and even after that conversion, I wouldn’t say we were very religious or church-going. Since late 2017, when I first met Katie, I’ve been going consistently to First United Methodist in downtown Fort Worth. I’ve been thinking about faith more in that process as well. So, what follows here is a conversation with one of the senior pastors at that church, Lance. He is the pastor of “The Gathering” service that I attend, along with a bunch of my church friends. We taped this right before Easter, and we’re actually going to start by talking about the repercussions of Easter not being in-person for most of us this year. There’s a lot of faith and work and spirituality “wokeness” in here, so enjoy it. I’ll say one final thing: a lot of times, I asked kinda three-part questions here and that might get irritating, but I promise you the conversation has some value. Let’s roll.
In summer 2013, I worked on a 12-week-or-so project with a big health care company. While I was there, one of my buds was this woman named Nikita. She’s since lived in a bunch of different places (me too), but we stayed connected digitally and taped this episode about 1.5-2 weeks ago. It’s primarily about raising kids, the flaws in diversity and inclusion arguments, and trying to determine what is and is not important as you move through your 20s, 30s, and 40s. Let’s get to it.
Feels like everyone is out there trying to hustle their widgets these days as opposed to like, I dunno, think about people dying and losing jobs? We don't want to constantly talk about the pandemic, no. We want to have some degree of normal conversation and figure out where everything stands. But at this moment, any marketing or sales email type deal -- or any post online, really -- can land as self-promotional and tone-deaf. But is that the reality, or is that just because our perception of that stuff is heightened in this moment? Plus: the role of the Internet. Plus: Calvin and Hobbes. Plus: some company in Montreal. Oh, and by the way, the guest is my friend David, who was also the guest on my first-ever episode, which was entitled "Existential Adriftness." Talk about a moment we are in now...
Tim Sackett is one of those “HR Famous” dudes where you’ve mostly probably heard him in audio or video form discussing hiring and retention and those types of topics. Me and him have actually been friends / acquaintances for about 3-4 years now. I think we’ve met in person maybe twice, which underscores the weird digital world we all reside in -- and even moreso now with coronavirus. Speaking of actually, this interview begins with Tim’s estimates on corona timeline, although we taped this probably third week of March, so additional data has come to light since. We also talk about tone-deaf emails, lessons of your 30s and 40s, Boomer generalizations, and at the end we spend some time on Larry Nassar and Michigan State, as Tim is a big MSU guy and lives in East Lansing too. Alright, let’s get going.
I’m on a Twitter thread that we call Just Be Social, which is now about 35 people who talk throughout the day on different issues, usually current events, but sometimes it gets deep and heated on gender/sex, ecnomic models, etc. We’ve become pretty good “online friends,” I guess you would call it. It’s definitely helpful in this current moment of social distancing.
I have had other people from this thread on this podcast -- Mollie I think was Episode 2 and Brenda I think was Episode 14 -- and I plan to try and have more. This is an interview with my Just Be Social friend Theresa, who is a bad-ass mom, once lived in Japan, and is pursuing her MBA and working full-time in the general Portland area. We actually start this discussion with some USA vs. Japan comparisons, because I’ve never been to Japan and know nothing about it, really. (PS I think in Episode 23, my other friend talks about the idea of “sex robots” in Japan.) So we’re going to start there, but then we’ll get into motherhood and cuddles, gender equality and more. Let’s roll.
This is a conversation with my friend Ben from high school. Back then his nickname was “Big Red.” His nickname might still be that; I don’t know. We’ve been out of high school 20+ years at this point. Gimme a break, OK? He went off to Duke. I went off to Georgetown. We actually talk a little bit about that in the beginning -- we clearly came from an “elite” academic institution, but we still have mutual friends from back when who share the dumbest stuff possible on Facebook. We also went to HS with Randi Zuckerberg, Mark’s sister, so there’s some on that. Also: men in therapy, losing your mom, adult relationships, Texas girls, partisanship, finding religion in your 30s, and just two dudes catching up after a couple of decades. It was fun to tape. Hopefully you listen to some of it! Let’s roll. I’m talking about the Jared Diamond book “Upheaval” as we get started.
With all the layoffs stuff going on globally right now -- there's a chance that 5M people in the USA have filed for unemployment in about the last 14-17 days -- I had a quick conversation with my friend Cathrine about the idea of "constructive discharge," which feels like something you'd read on Goop, but no ... it's a real thing around how companies treat employees, especially in times necessitating cost-cutting.
This is a layoffs discussion with Schelley, who is a Florida-based technical writer. She actually got laid off from two different jobs one year apart, on May 16. One of the layoffs was within 48 hours of her divorce becoming final too. And in one of the layoffs, she was contacted by a person she’d never met to be laid off! She’s got some stories, and we get through them in about 12-13 minutes. It’s an interesting look at humanity. Let’s hit it.
Brenda is a good friend of mine from online. She was actually a guest on Episode 14 of this show. We have shot the breeze on layoffs in the past, so I decided to have her back on for an interview for a side project I am doing about people being laid off. Since that project is not yet live, I'm currently posting some of this stuff on my own feeds. Since these are pretty personal topics (terminations, losing income), I doubt people will actively share 'em, but eh.
Brenda is a mid-career professional who has been through about three layoffs in her day. Predominantly we talk about signs whereby you know a layoff is probably coming, and then at the end we talk a little bit about “being called down to the basement,” drinking Diet Coke through a straw, and individual layoff stories we’ve had. Don’t worry, it will all make sense eventually.
Also, I do not really know what a "mid-career professional" is.
This is my friend Adam based down in Austin, where he’s been for six years. He’s had a bunch of different gigs in the recruiting world, the employer branding world, and even touched hospitality, sports writing, and some other cool stuff. I’m taping this intro on March 31, a Tuesday; this previous Thursday, which I guess was the 26th, he got laid off from his current gig because of COVID-19. We had a quick discussion on the context of that layoff, how it could have gone better, and his rules for effective, empathetic layoffs. Here’s not so breaking news: you need to communicate effectively. Let’s go get it.
If you’ve followed some of the stuff I write and post, I gave up drinking for Lent, which is probably about 33-34 days as I tape this introduction. My guest today is Kathryn, based out of Colorado, who also got sober and got more into strong women (strongwoman) events as part of her post-drinking development. She had a crappy 2016, relative to my generally crappy 2017, so we talk about some of that, sobriety, work challenges, pushing through hardship, and more. Let’s get into it.
This episode was actually a nice dose of self-awareness for me. The guest is Alabama-based educator and leadership developer Joel Hawbaker, who talks about courageous humility and has a website called Real Life Leading. I am not exactly sure how I first came across Joel, but we were supposed to do a taping or two in fall 2019. I missed two of them -- I think one was for a work project, which I suppose is good, and the second was because of day drinking and missing the time, which is inherently bad. We finally did get to connect and it’s a really almost beautiful conversation about where education is headed, where religious involvement is headed, how to forgive, whether we’re all inherently selfish and apathetic, and a couple of guiding principles for your 30s. I’m glad we finally got to it. Let’s get into it.
This is an interview with my digital friend Maggie, who helps with communications and strategy and beyond in the association space. The conversation covers a lot of different ground, but we especially talk about mental health in the workplace and the idea of “neuro-diversity,” and whether we can ever get it to scale that executives will care more about these topics. There’s an unfortunate story about how a co-worker at one job reacted to her. Let’s get right to it.
In the summer of 2003, my friend Diana and I were both new corps members in Teach for America. We were both training in Houston, TX. I was actually going to stay there for my teaching commitment, and she went to New Mexico -- but we taught at the same school, shout-out to Lantrip Elementary, for that summer. Now, that was 17 years ago, and a lot of stuff has happened since. This podcast will probably be in two parts, although the second part has not been taped yet. This part is a look at some of the assessment work that Diana does with Hawthorne Union, her company. Basically, what we did was this … she sent me some of their assessments, I took them, and in this episode we go through the results and the areas where I am and am not “woke.” (Or maybe employable.) So across 17 years, we went from riding janky school buses together in Houston at age 22 to analyzing each other’s pros and cons in our late 30s. Oh, in related news, both of us are divorced as well … so that might be part of the second go-round here. But for now, let’s talk about assessments. We’re gonna start by discussing why the Predictive Index assessment is better than a lot of other junk out there.
Mike Tunison, who you might know better as Christmas Ape or XMas Ape online, is one of the founders of the Kissing Suzy Kolber sports blog and a former reporter and writer for The Washington Post. In October 2017, he appeared on the “Shitty Media Men” list, and since then there’s been a degree of “cancellation” to his career. We actually started by talking kind of generically about standing up for your values and the like, and then later in the interview we got into more specifics -- so I killed the generic value stuff and focused on the experience of being part of the cancel culture. Then, at the very end, I added a small section where Mike talks about his work as a canvasser in Virginia and describes how upper-middle-class white families are perceiving Biden and Sanders. Let’s get into it.
Right before Christmas 2019, when I was kinda struggling big-time with income and employment context, I had this interview to be an apartment complex manager about 2-3 miles from my house. Interview was standard generic BS, with no real questions of relevance or to prove competency at a job, and it lasted maybe 20 minutes. As I was exiting, the couch outside was all beautiful young women. I instantly thought to myself, “Well, I’ll never get this job.” It was maybe noon. I decided, probably unwisely, to go to this bar near my apartment and have a sandwich and a couple of beers.
While there, I had a phone conversation with Fritz. He is a QA and automated tester in the St. Louis area. We met on social platforms. I think LinkedIn was first. I have a lot of problems with social and connectivity, for sure -- there are many flaws to social media -- but meeting people like Fritz is positive. So, we eventually did this podcast conversation and talked about cancer, risk, faith, raising daughters, and working for yourself. Actually, the whole conversation starts by talking about how people don’t pay you on time. Let’s get going.
Probably sometime in early to mid 2018, I started engaging more online with this dude Jordan Barta. I think it was initially around HR Technology, because he works in a sales function in that space, but eventually we started talking about a bunch of other stuff on Twitter, including flaws of work, education, politics, virtue-signaling, and more. I wanted to have him on this podcast. We literally tried to do this episode five times on different Wednesdays and Fridays and something got messed up every time; I think 80 percent of those were my fault. Well, we finally did it and it came out pretty solid. He actually lived in Finland and Germany for a while, so there’s a nice section in the middle about “socialism” vs. “capitalism,” which is a big topic in America these days. We also talk about work, management, life lessons, your partner/spouse challenging you, and the flaws of the education system. Let’s hit it.
This is a self-hosted episode that I promise / hope will not be incredibly self-indulgent. It's about my decision to give up drinking for Lent 2020 and some of my past and future issues around all that. Hopefully you enjoy it.
I guess when social media first started getting to scale, I thought it might be a cool place to discuss issues like anxiety, depression, and bigger debate-type topics. Obviously that didn’t really happen, and social media is predominantly a vehicle for family photos, vacation photos, some news (and some fake news) and virtue-signaling. I’m not consistently good at withdrawing myself from that world, no, but overall it’s probably a more harm than good situation long-term.
My guest today is Drew, who himself is the anchor of the podcast The Anxious Truth and he has a new book about anxiety as well, called An Anxiety Story. So we talk a lot about male anxiety, depression, gender roles, the use of social media, algorithms, and more. It’s a pretty nice emotional talk and we get done in about 30 minutes, so give it a whirl. Here we go.
This is a conversation with one of my best friends, a dude in Texas named Clay. We met back in December 2014, right before Christmas. My ex-wife and I had lived in Texas since that July, didn’t know that many people, and on one random Friday night, we took an Uber to this bar. The bar had a nice ambience but it was mostly sour beers, which I don’t like. I am not very athletic as a person, but I was playing club soccer at the time to try and make adult friends, and randomly -- we didn’t plan this -- someone from my club soccer team was there. So we were talking to them, and eventually they left. My ex and I end up getting another drink and we start talking to this kid at the edge of the bar. That was Clay, that was December 2014, and we’ve been close friends almost ever since.
This conversation covers a bunch of different stuff, from sex robots in Japan to housing prices in the US to people you see at Staples. We mention someone named Jimmy briefly; that’s a mutual friend -- more his friend -- who got divorced post-kids. Mention a guy named Kerzee briefly too; that’s a guy from a gym we used to go to who says there are only a few paths through life for a guy after the age of 35. There might be some other inside references in here, for which I apologize in advance. But if you want to hear two close friends shoot the shit on a variety of issues in under 30 minutes, you’re in the right place. Let’s roll.
Probably sometime in the middle of 2017, I noticed that some random dude on the Internet named Vadim was liking and resharing some of my stuff. Within a few months, I realized he lived in NYC -- where I’m from! -- but worked for a company in Fort Worth, where I lived. We met at a hotel and had a free breakfast and shot the shit about life. About a year later, we ended up being co-workers at that place. I lasted maybe eight months there, none too spectacularly. He was there probably 2.5 years. Now we’re both gone, but remain friends, so we had this conversation or Episode 22 of my show here.
Most of this is about feedback, authenticity, work-life balance, and imposter syndrome. There was actually 8 minutes and 44 seconds at the beginning where we were discussing penis necklaces, but I took that out because … well, vague notions of professionalism. Then there were about 3 minutes and 51 seconds at the end where we were gossiping about people you probably don’t know, so I took that out too. What’s left is still fun. Let’s get to it.
I met Angelica Mata for the first time in January 2017 in Austin as part of a “Just Be Social” meetup that Joel Renner organized. She was cool, still is cool, and we’ve done a couple of different podcast thingers together over the years, including chatting on Twitter about various dumb crap repeatedly. So I had her on mine. She’s currently studying about World War II, but she used to work for Apple and in other creative roles, so she has dare I say “woke” takes on academia, management, the possibility of a Third World War, and more. We even get into some female empowerment too. It’s a cool discussion. Let’s roll.
I’m currently taping this introduction in a house with two dogs where it’s raining outside, so I cannot let said dogs out to play … in case that comes across as weird in any way, I apologize in advance. One of the dogs actually just stole a toy from the other dog, to boot.
This episode is with Ray Ziganto, a manufacturing unicorn out of the Chicago area. He actually lives in Aurora, which is where the movie “Wayne’s World” was set. We talk about a bunch of different stuff over 45 or so minutes, including pivotal moments in your life, doing volunteer work and traveling abroad when you’re younger, working for self vs. working for others, and why most organizations don’t respect the idea of “learning” even though it’s super important in modernity. I cannot believe I got to Episode 20 on this deal. Cool. Hope you enjoy it.
Since 2010, I’ve moved a ton of times in-city, but two bigger times: New York City to Minneapolis in 2012, and Minneapolis to Texas in 2014. I’ve actually struggled with parts of Texas, as any good Northeasterner would, and I got divorced in the span of being here, but I’ve stayed in part for any number of reasons, with one of them admittedly being that I got tired of bigger moves and reinventing friend circles when you’re north of 30. It’s not easy, and I don’t think anyone would tell you it is.
My guest on this episode is my man David, whose last name I cannot pronounce 100 percent correctly so I will not try, and he has a different life arc: he’s lived in the same place, that being northern California, for decades -- and he has kids, and he primarily works from home. So in that context of geographic stability + no standard office + your kids’ activities, what does his friend circle look like at 45? That’s one thing we cover, along with jobs in the future, Adam Sandler, life attitudes at 25, gender roles, and more. Hope you enjoy it.
I moved to Fort Worth in July of 2014; I started writing more and more about work stuff and HR stuff and recruiting stuff around the same time. After I had been here maybe a year, I realized that this dude William Tincup, who had recently followed me on Twitter, lived in the general area and I reached out to him. I think we met once, nothing really happened for a while, and then in 2017-2018, I started doing stuff with his company, called RecruitingDaily. I don’t do day-to-day shit with them as much anymore, but I’m still connected to those guys and decided to have Tincup on this episode.
I actually haven’t posted an episode for about a month, so I’m getting back into the swing of stuff. I went to NYC for a while, where I spent 42 dollars on a 2.5 mile Uber, then spent 15 dollars on an IPA after I got out of the Uber. So that was fun. Anyway, this is a cool, far-reaching discussion on Instagram, NFL owners, workplace technology, Barcelona soccer club, Jordan and LeBron, and even The Pill. Hope you enjoy it, and thanks for giving it a listen.
In probably late 2016 or so, here was the general situation in my life: I had been freelancing for about a year at that point. I was actually doing pretty well and making good money, which was a surprise. My marriage was kind of going to shit in different pockets, which was less great. Somewhere in there, probably around that whole Presidential election we’re still dealing with, I connected with a local dude named John Hill. At the time, he had a business called Iron Egg that was mostly about website builds and revisions. We connected on, if I remember correctly, some health care project. It basically bombed on my end; my copy wasn’t long enough for their liking, but the clients didn’t have time to meet with me about their business. We worked on this deal for maybe three weeks and then it just faded away.
Thankfully, Hill is a cool dude, and we’re connected on some platforms, so we stayed in touch here and there. Now he has a company called Adapted Growth and another site called John’s Small Mountain, and this discussion is about sales, relationships, work-life balance, and the importance of getting to the gym -- or getting out of your head for a while -- during the workday. Ironically the day before I taped this, I think I had drank during lunch … and since I taped this, I’ve been pretty consistent about getting to the gym either early morning or mid-day. This podcast is all about shifting lives, you know? Let’s get into the discussion.
I had done a couple of work projects with this guest, Jenny Hill, before we taped the episode. I did not know her super well but this was a cool conversation around gender reveals (or should I call them anatomy reveals?), when women get more of a voice in the workplace, FOMO, and the like. I would actually say this is one of the episodes I taped where I felt “woke” -- and I know that word has negative connotations and repercussions -- and wanted to do more with this podcast in 2020. So thanks Jenny, and let’s get into it.
I’m part of an elite squad known as the Special Victims -- no, wait, actually it’s just a Twitter thread called Just Be Social, which you can find at the hashtag Just Be Social or sometimes hashtag JBS. My second episode of this podcast was with Mollie, another JBS member, and this one is with Brenda Hill, who is Kansas City-based by way of Chicago and some other places. She’s had a varied, interesting career, and we talk about that. She also has two Gen Z sons, and we talk about her perceptions of what Gen Z might want from work as they start entering the workforce. We also talk about some ridiculous work crap and how one of my old roommates in Houston used to scream every Sunday afternoon about a portal being down. It’s a pretty fun conversation. Hope you dig it.
A few months ago, I was doing a couple of short podcasts with a guy that used to co-own a gym I went to. I think only 1 or 2 of them ever got published, but we did a whole episode on that idea that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Well, now I have this podcast, and this episode I’m talking to Cesar Espino, who is a real estate investor, coach, author, and logistics guy out of the Los Angeles area. We talk a lot about the “five people you spend time with” theory as well, and also discuss legacy, mindset, mental toughness, and your 20s vs. your 30s. Hope you like it.
I remember right after graduating from college, I had one core friend backpacking throughout Asia and Europe for a while. We all have some version of this friend or this story; as I’ve gotten older, I’ve met probably 12-15 other people that did this. The flip side of the whole deal is that you all have friends who dive into work at 16, 18, 22, whatever … and start hustling and earning money. Those people maybe have less “fun” in their 20s, but theoretically the idea is they can have fun at different points with saved money and then later on. Unless you have a trust fund, the idea of just backpacking around Europe and Asia is probably not feasible.
I turned 39 a few weeks ago and broadly I’m OK with my experiences thus far, although I wish I had invested more in my career back in the day. Well, I worked at a place briefly in 2018 in the cybersecurity industry. I had to go to Kansas City for an orientation and I met Steven McFarland, who kinda has a similar “focused on career later than others may have” path. He’s a cool dude and now starting to make career moves, so I thought I’d have him on this podcast.
This is a shorter episode because we spent some time at the beginning catching up on the place we worked together, and a lot of that wouldn’t interest you, so I killed it. But the stuff about the trade-offs we make in early to mid adulthood is important for a lot of people, so I thought that was a good essence here. Let’s get to it.
Back in October of 2016, when admittedly the world seemed a bit of a simpler place, I wrote an article called “An organizational consultant can’t save you now.” Probably four years before that, as I was leaving New York City, I actually really wanted to be a consultant. Less than a half-decade later, I had soured completely on the idea. In that article I wrote, I quoted a guy named Dan Rust who has a book called Workplace Poker. In that book, he equates work to “chimp rape.” Not kidding.
Ironically, that was one of the posts where I first started interacting with Anil Saxena, who has been a digital and e-mail friend of mine for about three years now. I wanted to bring him on this episode and talk about both life and work. Admittedly we probably spend 90 percent of the time talking about work, but work takes up a big chunk of the middle part of your life, so I was OK with it. We talk about psychological safety, the role of HR, the role of leaders, and at the end there’s a sequence about a crappy job interview he had and what it meant when he eventually took the role. Let’s get to it.
I lived in an apartment — the number was 234 — with my ex for about 34 months. Since I left my parents’ house back in probably 1999, I think that’s the longest single place I’ve ever lived. I moved out of that place, oddly 14 years to the day of my graduation from college, after we got divorced. The new place was Number 328 and for a chunk of time I lived there, I’d classify myself as “lost.” When I eventually donated the couch in 328 to the Salvation Army, there were cigarette burns on it. You get the broader idea.
Well, back in 234, I was writing virtually every day and starting to get some traffic and some traction as a freelancer. In that apartment, I appeared on one podcast taping … and the lady I taped with never ran it. A few months into 328, I appeared on this guy Paul Millerd’s podcast. He talks about work in different ways and has a cool approach to what “success” even is. His newsletter, which hits on Saturdays usually, is one of the best out there if you care about issues like work, learning, success, etc. So now that I’m doing a podcast, I wanted to have him on. That’s what this episode is. By the way, now I live in an Apartment numbered 603, but I’m still interested in these types of work and life and success and future issues, and I hope you are too. Godspeed, and let’s get to it.
If you’ve ever read my blog, you know I’m not always the biggest fan of management and leadership. There are great leaders in the world, for sure, but I’d argue the majority are disappointing -- and actually, years ago Gallup actually had a stat that 82 percent of managers end up being poor leaders and wrong for the role. 82 percent bad means 18 percent good. Imagine if you came home in junior high and scored a 18 on a test. You think your parents would be very happy with that?
So I was excited to talk with Devin Craig, who is a Seattle-based consultant focusing on a more human form of leadership. I know that can sound like a BS-y term, but this is a pretty interesting talk. I was expecting it to be about 25 minutes and it was almost double that because, I mean, who doesn’t like to chop up leadership and management? Maybe I am a nerd. Anyway, here goes.
This is probably the shortest episode I’ve done so far, but it has some really interesting nuggets in it. The guest is Dr. Gordon Pedersen. You’ll hear this story in the first couple of minutes, but around age 38, he went to Indonesia, got sick, came back to the US and went to the hospital, and someone in the OR dropped him on the floor, breaking his back and immobilizing him. Never fear, though -- by 43 he had won a Bronze Medal at the Utah Games. Believe he was the oldest medalist that year.
This is a good conversation about health and how health is all you really have at some level as you age. It’s kind of ironic because I taped this on a Friday a few weeks ago, and on the day before I think I had ended up having something like 9-10 beers across hanging out with different people. So, it was a nice level-set for me to focus on health as well. Plus: there’s some stuff at the very end about the difference between one minute of being angry and one minute of laughing on your immune system. Hope you enjoy the episode.
Aging parents is a concept that people are starting to talk about more and more. I’ve seen stats about 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day, but they’re retiring to lives that will last longer than they ever lasted before -- potentially we’re adding the equivalent of a third of life to people these days. Now that’s great in terms of time with loved ones at one level, but there’s a huge financial piece of the puzzle that we haven’t totally figured out yet. And this is all happening at a time when wages for most people have been stagnating for at least a decade.
That’s part of what I discuss with Brandy Henry in this episode. She’s an independent business owner in the Portland Oregon area and she hosts her own podcast about engaging on social media. Here we talk about aging parents, about the difference between 22 and 30 and 38 and 46, about how everyone is nuts, and about dichotomies around women at work and at home. Hope you enjoy it.
One of my good friends passed away two years ago; if you read my blog or newsletter, you may have seen some stuff about it. Actually, on the day I’m recording this intro, there’s a memorial Mass for him at Georgetown University, but unfortunately I lacked the funds currently to fly up for it. Well, when I did attend his funeral in October 2017, one of the things that stood out from that day is that this kid I had barely seen since college asks me in the pews, “So, do you think you will stay in Texas?” It was a logical question because I had been divorced a few months prior and maybe I would go somewhere else and reinvent. So this kid asks me “What’s your five-year plan?” basically as our friend’s casket is being pushed down the aisle. It was a pretty jarring contradiction and when I got back, I wrote a post about how dumb “the five year plan” feels.
That’s one of many themes in this episode with Brian Ondrako, who has his own site and podcast called “Just Get Started.” You should check his stuff out because he’s got some A-level guests on there. As you might guess, “Just Get Started” is about how there’s never a perfect time to pursue something -- so just for it. It’s a cool theme, and we talk about that, five and 10 year plans, North Stars, sleep, fitness, Instagram likes, and more. Let’s dive in.
I’ve written probably 2,400 blog posts on my main site since about October 2013. I did the average per day on that once, and it’s something like 1.7 per day. In short, I have blogged a lot. Once in a while people ask me what my favorite-ever post is, and I mean, it’s hard to choose because I barely remember everything I’ve written on here. But … I think in 2016, I wrote a post called “New product features? How about new people features.” The idea is that workplaces become obsessed with product launches and rollouts, and those are obviously really important to the business -- but every day, people go through stuff too. They get married, they get divorced. They raise kids, they (hopefully not) lose kids. Their parents age. Friendships change. They fight with their spouse. They reconcile with their spouse. All this stuff happens to us day in and day out and it changes our connection back to the work we do every day.
That’s a big theme of this discussion with Bob Brumm, who brands himself as an Encouragement Engineer. The origin story of that term is within the episode. He’s a professional speaker and coach focusing on a positivity mindset and helping people get through different challenges. I figured he’d be a good guest because the focus of this podcast is on the Second Act of Life, about 25 to 50, and a lot of different, very impactful stuff happens to people in that age range. Turns out my guess was right -- this is a relatively short episode of maybe 24-25 minutes, but we cover a lot of themes, including work-life balance, work-life integration, “the reality of life kicking in,” being human at work, whether “purpose” is a buzzword, and more. Let’s get to it.
I think we all love us some rebound or rebuild stories -- we want it for your own lives, for our friends, and for our family. When something bad happens to someone, or they seem kicked in the mouth by life, we want to see them rise up and succeed. That’s a legitimately cool aspect of the human condition, I’d argue. I’d even say some of the narrative about Steve Jobs that makes his story resonate is that he got pushed out of Apple, came back, and made it one of the most valuable companies in the world for a time. The rebound aspect of the story is a big part of it.
That’s actually not a bad segue, because the guest on Episode 4 is Sid Clevinger. He actually lives in Dallas and I live in Fort Worth, but I didn’t know that when I started taping it … so I was sitting in a sparsely-populated co-working space about 40 miles from him when we taped. Anyway, Sid is an entrepreneur and a lead generation machine. We talk a little bit about that stuff -- he definitely loves him some entrepreneurs like Tony Robbins, Branson, Jobs, Gates, etc. But there’s a lot more human to this story; Sid had a rough first marriage and lost big in a business deal about three years ago. He can actually remember the taste of gunpowder in his mouth as a gun was perched there, and now he’s clearing 60K some months. It’s a nice come-up story and instead of framing it just around Steve Jobs or Richard Branson or Gary Vee or putting the entrepreneurial Instagram quote panels on a pedestal, we look at the human elements involved -- how relationships and your brain’s framework really can drive you from a low place to a successful place. Hope you enjoy.
A couple of years ago, I was volunteering at this public school in north Texas. It was not a good, high-performing elementary school, but through a series of connections, former President Bush -- W, not HW -- came to visit. I was never a big “W” fan because I grew up pretty liberal, but he was impressive on this visit. He didn’t understand the over-focus on lines in the hallway. I think someone even used the term “school to prison pipeline” while he was there. He had questions about the effectiveness of the curriculum. It’s all kind of ironic in some ways because No Child Left Behind was under his administration.
This all speaks broadly to the idea of “the system’ -- put that in quotes for a reason -- and how it benefits different people in different ways. Is this quote-unquote “system” broken? Perhaps. But to hear entrepreneur Ryan Narus tell it, it’s not so much “broken” as “evolved,” and that does present some new opportunities.
This is a relatively short convo of maybe 23-25 minutes, but there’s a lot of value in it around not playing the victim -- something I am often guilty of -- and how easily you can wake up in your 30s and think “Damn, I have no friends.” I’ve woken up many a morning in my 30s and felt that way. I’m actually currently using antidepressants in part because of that, which will be a topic for a future episode.
I’m admittedly probably a weird person, and I also admittedly have had a lot of different conversations in bars over the years with both genders. It’s weird because -- and obviously this varies by person -- normally when you’re a teenage boy, as I was about two decades ago, young boys talk about sex all the time. I’m sure young girls do too but I wasn’t privy to those conversations at that time, being a fat, awkward adolescent. But as dudes get older, potentially out of a focus on work or respect for their partner, they tend to discuss sex less, and women tend to discuss it a little bit more -- which is cool, but broadly I feel like no one is having really transparent discussions on the topic, and that’s problematic.
I met Mollie Bentley, who is the guest on this episode, via Twitter. We became friends quickly and we would periodically talk about sex and relationships. She’s been with her husband about 27 years and they have two kids. There’s a big sitcom-driven concept that sex is dead inside long-term relationships, and especially after kids. I know people for whom that’s true. I know people for whom that’s exactly the opposite. Mollie and I talk a lot about that near the middle to the back part of this episode.
You’ll also get thoughts into miscarriages, the role of social media in our world, sex as a habit, the weird work and personal lines that we draw around ourselves, and the big difference between how we grow up and how we’re expected to move through adulthood. The audio on this episode is pretty strong but around the ¾ mark of it, my dog was pacing around and fidgeting, so I had to take him out … you might hear some elevator pings as a result. My bad.
I came up with the idea for this podcast at a weird spot in my life, give or take. I’ve been mostly freelance since about November 2015, but I’ve had some bigger contracts or close to full-time engagements in that span that helped with the consistency of bill-paying and life-living. I had one of those from September 2018 until May 2019, and I lost it right around Memorial Day at the beginning of this summer. Since then I’ve been a mix of hustling and adrift. In this episode, the first of The Blunder Years podcast, David Wolinsky is going to call this “existential adriftness.” A lot of males go through it -- and women too -- and it’s not commonly discussed as much as it should be. That was part of the reason I set out to even do this podcast. I’m probably not going to make much money off it, although down the road, let’s hope. But I hope you’ll see it as a series of interesting conversations about all the things that come into -- and out of -- our lives as we grow up and find ourselves.
In this conversation, you’ll hear about sitting in bathtubs drinking wine, getting free drinks at airport bars, golden retrievers wearing dress shirts, the two paths of life for a man over age 32, old man Improv, cricket emojis on lead generation efforts, whether work-life balance really exists, and whether your 30s are the period where you start to think you deserve more.