For the last six days, I have done almost no reading, a thing virtually unheard of for me. Instead, I have been obsessively listening to back-episodes of the Tim Ferriss Show Podcast. Tim Ferriss is the author of the Four Hour Work Week, a book that I skimmed, but never finished. I have, however, read two of Tim’s books that I really enjoyed, Tribe of Mentors and Tools of Titans. I’ve never been much of a podcast fan, but the thing that attracted me to Tim’s podcast was that I knew he was a meticulous experimenter, and tried to learn from data. I’m this way as well–as I wrote about often in the days after I discovered the concept of the quantified self.
I have always been someone who tries to take actionable lessons from my reading and experiences. When I read biographies, I take notes on things that the subject found useful and see if I can apply them in my life. Tribe of Mentors and Tools of Titans were chock full of these kinds of actionable insights. (One example: I learned of the Calm app, and have been using it for over a year now for daily meditation.) So I figured I’d give the podcast a try. I started with the most recent episode this past Friday, which wasn’t an interview, but a kind of roundup. After that, I went through the back list of 517 other episodes and marked the ones I thought I’d be initially interested in listening to. The list below is the list that I have listened to in the six days since. It is listed in order beginning with my most favorite. I list the times of the episodes to give a sense of just how obsessed I’ve become with these.
- Ep. 361. Jim Collins – A Rare Interview with a Reclusive Polymath (2 hr 25 min)
- Ep. 483. Jim Collins – On the Value of Small Gestures, Unseen Sources of Power, and More (2 hr 46 min)
- Ep. 406. Bob Iger – CEO and Chairman of Disney (1 hr 33 min)
- Ep. 39. Maria Popova on Writing, Workflow, and Workarounds (1 hr 41 min)
- Ep. 92. Mario Popova on Being Interesting, Creating More Time in a Day, and How to Start a Successful Blog (31 min)
- Ep. 273. Walter Isaacson – Lessons from Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci, and Ben Franklin (1 hr 25 min)
- Ep. 366. Neil Gaiman – The Interview I’ve Waited 20 Years to Do (1 hr 54 min)
- Ep. 474. Matthew McMonaughey – The Power of “No, Thank You,” Key Life Lessons, 30+ Years of Diary Notes, and the Art of Catching Greenlights (1 hr 39 min)
- Ep. 444. Hugh Jackman on Best Decisions, Daily Routines, The 85% Rule, Favorite Exercises, Mind Training, and Much More (1 hr 42 min)
- Ep. 121. BJ Novak of The Office on Creative Process, Handling Rejection, and Good Comedy (1 hr 31 min)
- Ep. 119. Kevin Costner on Building His Career, Positive Self-Talk, and Making Dances with Wolves Happen (1 hr 54 min)
I’ve done the math: that is 19 hours of podcasts in less than six days. Obsessed is probably not an exaggeration. I have filled pages of my current Field Notes notebook with notes, ideas, and scribbling from these podcasts.
I’ve then tried to turn these into curated notes in Obsidian, for example from the first Jim Collins interview on the podcast:
And this is what I’ve managed to get through so far. I’ve got at least another 20 or so in the list I pulled, including a second interview with Walter Isaacson, Ken Burns, Steven Pressfield, Michael Lewis, Edward Norton, Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Allen, Adam Savage, Nick Thompson, Drew Houston, Tim O’Reilly, and more.
I usually get a bit anxious if I am not reading a book, especially after a few days, but I’ve been so focused on these podcasts and what I can learn from them, that it hasn’t bothered that I haven’t done much reading in the last six days. It doesn’t bother me to think I may not do much over the coming week or so as I get through this initial wave of podcasts. It has actually been a pleasant change of pace.
The only problem is what to do with the mass of notes I’ve been generating. I think I’m going to need to set aside an entire day to compile and make sense of them, and figure out what actions I want to take first, and put together a plan. It’s really great fun, I find myself smiling often as I listen to the podcasts, and have been honestly surprised (despite how much I read) at how many of the books mentioned on the podcast I have already read. And of course, rather dismayed by how many I have yet to read.