As I journey through life, I find I’m spending more and more time digging into the big “Why” of humanity. This post is a smattering of the best of the best ideas, thought leaders and communicators that may help answer the big questions;
- Why do we continue to wage wars?
- Why do some societies rise while others fall?
- What are the impacts of government action or inaction on monetary policy? On poverty? On crony capitalism?
- Why is our current society so unhealthy? Why does the Pima Indians have the highest rate of diabetes in the world?
- Why is our politics so divided and is this something NEW to our world?
- What causes society to move to and from religion?
- What’s the role of abundance or scarcity in a country?
- What can we learn from history, does it repeat?
- Which economic theories win out over time?
- Why are so many people today broken and medicating to deal with life?
- What separates a great President from a failed Presidency? What’s the magic formula for great leadership?
- When was the last time you visited a KMart? What causes one company to grow and another die?
All these answers are out there and it takes time and understanding to piece it all together. With 7 years on the air, my role was to devour every minutia of information locally, nationally and internationally. To successfully master the craft of live radio, I had to be able to speak of the issues of the day. Over time all these data points turned into a pattern. About 5 years into the radio program I started connecting these patterns into 12 arguments that show that America is in Decline. I’ve started to organize these arguments into chapters of a book. Here’s the intro.
Next, while building out an educational network that focused on history and classics, I spent years digging into the historical origins of man. The rise and fall of nations. The influence of religions and economic theories on society. I dug into philosophers, kings, and civilizations that at one point were at the pinnacle of the entire globe, and that is now laying in the archaeological rubble. From great literature, art, music, architecture to technological advancements and great migrations a story emerges.
Finally, after years growing up in Catholic education and being of service to a number of Catholic agencies, and spending quality time with men I respect in the Protestant faith I’ve started to look at what faith means to me and how it shows up in my life. From a weekend back in 2001 in Oracle and staffing a weekend in a southern Arizona hot springs, I learned about my shadows and motivations. By working with a group of men for over a decade I started to learn how wounds of the past show up in my life. With advice and counsel of strong men and mentor-ship from men in the faith, business and community leadership fields I have learned more about who I am and how I show up in my family, my career and in my faith.
To fully understand where we are today I’ve dug into the thought leaders from politics, sociology, psychology, and economics. I put forth the following lectures, discussions, and documentaries to paint a picture of how I see the human condition.
This is a long collection of my beliefs and analysis on (click for a Deep Dive by topic);
and much more.
Some thought leaders that I really have been intrigued by are Malcolm Gladwell, Angela Duckworth and Tim Ferriss. They’ve made observations and studies of people and society on a micro and macro level. Each of these authors and thinkers has a body of work on how to destruct what makes some people succeed while other people, who seem to have it all, fail. Here are a few of my favorite lectures by these people:
HERE with Pastor Rick Warren.
Angela Duckworth- GRIT and Perseverance! Ever wonder why friends or family members that have it all, money, looks, smarts and opportunity yet struggle at life? The missing ingredient needed is GRIT. Duckworth does a deep analysis of the science and psychology behind success. Get the book and devour it. Freakonomics covered a super bold project that Duckworth is proposing, check out the interview….Could Solving This One Problem Solve All Others?
Tim Ferriss and his first book, 4 Hour Work Week, started out his journey on figuring out the hacks that make great people great. From sports to money to cooking to military figures, Tim interviews and dissects the best of the best. Start with Tools For Titans and subscribe to his podcast.
THIS article from Inside Business is a great starting point to learn all things, Tim. Here’s what jumped out at me:
1. There are two parts to self-improvement
Oftentimes we see self-improvement merely as goal achievement. However, Tim realized that achievement is only 50% of it. He says, “The other 50% is gratitude and appreciating what you already have, not focusing solely on future accomplishments.” There are so many highly successful people who are never satisfied with what they’ve accomplished and it’s unfortunate.
As Tim mentioned, “They’ve conquered every mountain, slayed every dragon and they’re still not happy”. Don’t be one of those people! If you want to have any sense of well-being, you have to show appreciation for what you already have.
2. Improve two areas of your life at a time
For those of us who are Type A personalities, we tend to be super ambitious and self-critical as we’re always trying to improve our lives. Over the last 10 years Tim realized that “too much optimizing can be self-destructive.” Like with many things in life, things in excess tend to take on the characteristics of their opposites. So in this case, the sole focus on self-improvement can be misguided and can lead to depression and anxiety.
6. Focus on developing skills and relationships
When making important decisions and capping the downside, potential risks or mistakes, Tim focuses on two things: skills and relationships. The question he asks himself is, “Even if this fails, are there skills and relationships that I can develop that will carry over into other things?” Tim’s philosophy is that, “Failure isn’t failure if you can gain new skills and develop relationships for future advancement.”
7. It’s important to diversify your identify
When you’re passionate about your work, it’s easy to have everything vested in your business which can serve you well in most cases. However, Tim says that “100% dedication can lead to a disaster in the sense that you have all of your psychological eggs in one basket.”
10. Fame, power, money and alcohol just make you more of who you already are
Tim knows a lot of successful people who are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. One thing he’s learned is that fame, power, money, and alcohol just make you more of who you already are.
He explained, “So if you’re neurotic, add 100 million to that, you’ll be super neurotic!” If you’re generous, add 100 million to that, you’ll be even more generous. Essentially your characteristic just get exaggerated when you add those things in life. So it’s important that you work on who you want to be before you get those things.
Here’s a long form interview with Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss. I remember listening to Tony Robbins cassette tapes in college and graduated to his CD’s. To hear the two together is pretty cool.
Want to dig into Social Psychology? Start with Canadian, Dr. Jordon Peterson – HERE – He weighs in on safe spaces and political correctness. My favorite in #1…be grateful!
What I enjoy
Listening to: My favorite bands tend to be from the decade of the 1970’s. I grew up in the 1980’s but never really connected with that time period musically. Of the favorites of favorite, if I had to listen to one playlist for the rest of my life, stranded on a deserted island, it would have to be Pink Floyd. I got a chance to see them and spend time in their hotel room during the Division Bell tour in Phoenix in the early 1990’s. Check out a cool new website, Sutori and their anthology of Pink Floyd. Follow me on Spotify for an eclectic mix of musical playlists, especially ‘Joe Can’t Get Enough‘.
Watching: I despise reality TV. I enjoy the new medium of the long form, binge-worthy, series that have been prevalent on various cable outlets. Homeland and House of Cards continue to weave real-world political storylines into a very intriguing plot line. If I’m not into a series, I’m always looking for a great documentary. Many of the best I’ve shared in this post.
Podcasts: If you haven’t stumbled into the world of podcasts yet, I highly recommend you do. Get the free app, Stitcher, set up themed playlists and sample as many different shows as you can. I go in waves of shows that I follow and devour. After 7 years on live radio, every morning, I start to appreciate and understand what makes a good show. I’m particularly drawn to great interviewers. The art and talent of a great interviewer are something to admire.
Here’s a few I’m listening too right now:
Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders – Stanford U
Here’s The Thing – Alec Baldwin
Story Corp – NPR
EdSurge On Air
Conversations with Tyler
Revisionist History – Malcolm Gladwel
lThe Art of Manliness
Hidden Brain – NPR
On Being – Krista Tippett
TED Radio Hour
London School of Economics
Harvard Business Review – Ideacast
Tim Ferris Show
Ken Rudin’s Political Junkie
Banter: AEI Podcast
Exchanges at Goldman Sach
Rich Dad Poor Dad