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[00:00:06]

I've known Guy Raz for a very long time. We actually went to college together, so we've known each other since we were teenagers. And he remains to this day one of the most inspiring people I've ever met. His ability to see through a situation and understand the complexities of how things work and how people work continues to amaze me. And so it was incredibly fun for me to have one of the most popular podcasters in history come as a guest on my podcast.

[00:00:33]

What a lot of people don't know about Guy is that he used to be a war correspondent. He has been in harm's way multiple times. Plus, he's also talked to many entrepreneurs about what it takes to start a business. So he understands this concept of courage from many different angles.

[00:00:49]

So that's what we talked about, courage, how to find it, where it comes from and what to do with it. This is a bit of optimism.

[00:01:02]

The thing that I wanted to talk to you about is courage. Yeah.

[00:01:06]

And the reason is because most people know you for your podcasts and especially for how I built this, where you talk to people who have the courage to do extraordinary things in business.

[00:01:23]

But what I think a lot of people don't know about you is that you used to be a war correspondent. Yeah. And used to embed with the military in some of the most dangerous situations that were happening in the world. And I thought, you're unbelievably well qualified to talk about courage. There are, I think, different types of courage. We are living in a day and age, I think, right now where people are finding courage, where people need to find courage, the courage to stand up, the courage to challenge the status quo, the courage to speak one's truth, the courage to demand change, the courage to ask for help, the courage to have difficult conversations.

[00:02:00]

You know, it's it's interesting. This topic of courage is something I thought about a lot over over the course of my life. And I think the reason why Simon is because I have never thought of myself as a courageous person. And I don't say that to be falsely modest in any way. For me, courage was always a pursuit. It was always something I wish I had more of. And it's funny, I used to talk to my wife about this a lot.

[00:02:26]

And I remember one time she said to me, How can you not see yourself as courageous? You know, you've been to Iraq and Afghanistan and covered the Balkan wars and Israel Palestine and have been to incredibly violent places where it was gunfire all around you. And to me, it's strange because I'm going to do those things. I spent, you know, six months in Iraq in 2003 and then many months and every four or five or six or seven and several visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

[00:02:57]

And most of those trips were not embedded with the military. You know, you were kind of free wheeling. And I remember the first time I went to Afghanistan was a week and a half after Daniel Pearl was murdered. And I was 26 maybe, and I was the NPR Berlin correspondent and I was sent to go to Afghanistan and I had to fly to Islamabad, to Pakistan, where NPR had like a house there, like a staging house. I remember I was four in the morning and I was leaving the house and arriving into the house was the outgoing NPR correspondent who had just come out of Afghanistan, and his name is Michael Sullivan.

[00:03:34]

And as the first time I met him, I was so nervous, you know, but I was trying to be brave. And I said, oh, how is it there? How does it seem? He just looks at me, goes, Watch your ass, kid. I was like, OK. And he said, I knew Danny Pearl really well. And I get into a car and I go to Kabul and, you know, I was scared to do those things, but it didn't immobilize me with like I could do it because it was part of my job.

[00:04:03]

You know, part of my job was to be a foreign correspondent and to bear witness. I was a reporter.

[00:04:07]

The hardest thing for me to do in life has been to have difficult conversations with people, to confront people. I don't relish confrontation. I always prefer harmony over confrontation.

[00:04:23]

I've always been afraid of tense situations with other people for fear of the way I would react. So that's the kind of courage that to me is much more challenging.

[00:04:35]

It's a much higher level of courage because it's the courage to examine that, to examine yourself, but to be prepared in a difficult conversation for the relationship with the person to be worse afterwards. You know, and I have always had a hard time with that. I just don't like it. I've never liked it. For me, harmony has always been like the thing that I pursue. I think sometimes to my detriment, because if you're only pursuing harmony, you're kind of sometimes papering over bigger questions and issues that go unresolved.

[00:05:07]

Anyway, a long winded way of saying, I have always struggled with this idea of courage.

[00:05:14]

What's so interesting, I think about courage a lot, too, and I've always believed that courage is external, that, you know, you and I have both had the honor of meeting people who have risked their lives to save the lives of others who thought that they would probably die in doing so and through some miracle didn't.

[00:05:33]

And when I've asked them, why did you do it? No one ordered you do it. No one would have faulted you if you didn't do it. You've got a family. You've got kids. Why did you do it? They almost all say exactly the same thing, which is because they would have done it for me. Yeah. And none of them think of themselves as courageous. Yeah. They think that's what anyone would do.

[00:05:50]

So that's what I would do and they would do it for me. Or that there's a mission. There's a higher calling, which you talked about. I was a reporter. I was there to bear witness. Yes. Yeah. And you know, I always joke around that we don't have the courage to jump out of a plane unless we have a parachute on our back. It's the external thing.

[00:06:04]

It's the parachute that gave us the courage to go and having a sense of purpose, a cause to wake up four in the morning, we are able to to find the courage that other people might perceive as courage.

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Yeah, but for us, it's simply following the path that we've chosen to put ourselves on. It's exactly right. But when it's having a difficult conversation, it's not our job to have difficult conversations.

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Yeah. So now I understand why you call it courage, because now I have to go deep inside where before it was a path I was on or the belief that someone was there for me, it was it was a social contract.

[00:06:38]

Yeah. You know, it's a really interesting point because when I and I guess we should mention, we go way back. We went to college.

[00:06:46]

We went to college together. We said that too many years to count. Yeah. When I graduated college, I wanted to be a reporter so, so much. And I know this is like a now a kind of a trope and a well-worn trope that people say. But I really, truly am an introvert in the classic sense that I and I think you are to a little bit, which is complete. Even though we do public jobs, we do public speeches.

[00:07:09]

I speak in front of thousands of people and do events and have this job.

[00:07:12]

I really when it's over, I, I just need to collapse in a dark room and go to sleep. It's really hard for me. I love it. I appreciate it so much. But it's, it doesn't come naturally to me. So I was never the kind of person that would walk into a party I think like you too and be the center of the party like oh there's Simon, there's guy.

[00:07:30]

Let's gather like I'm not the guy at the Irish bar telling the the stories. And, you know, Jimmy Fallon's one of those people. He is just a natural at it. It's incredible.

[00:07:38]

So I was never the kind of person who could just walk up to somebody. Even now, I have a very difficult time going up to people, just saying, hi, I'm Guy, how are you? Let's make conversation because I can't connect the dots to continue the conversation. There's some wall I hit. I just I start talking to them and I even when I try, I get to and and then and then it's I hit a wall. I can't keep a conversation going.

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And there are lots of people who have the opposite ability. Right.

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Who have this talent. Here's the thing. To be a reporter.

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You have to be prepared to go up to anybody and ask them any question, and I think the reason why I was attracted to becoming a reporter was because the minute you put a microphone, because there's a radio reporter from the beginning or notepad, I could go up to anybody.

[00:08:27]

And if they say, you know, go bugger off or, you know, whatever it is they might say to you, to me, it's fine in my personal capacity, if I walked up to somebody in a social situation and they just said, look, I'm just not interested in talking to you, I would be so personally hurt and embarrassed that I wouldn't know how to respond.

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But somehow, as a professional, going up to somebody with a microphone in my hand or a notepad, it's no problem.

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All of a sudden, at age 22, 23, when I started professionally reporting, it opened up this whole world to me. I think it's why I was attracted to it, because it was a way for me to actually do something that I really wanted to do, which was to interact with people, which was to find out about their stories, which was to talk to them and get to know them. But I couldn't do it in my personal capacity.

[00:09:15]

It's so interesting.

[00:09:16]

My my life is very, very similar. I didn't know that I was an introvert because I'm not socially well, I am socially awkward sometimes, but I have a big personality. And so others mistook me and I mistook myself for being an extrovert because I have a big personality. But I love Susan Cain's definition of introversion versus extroversion, which is it's about energy. Yeah. Which is an introvert wakes up in the morning with five coins and every social interaction they have, they spend a coin.

[00:09:41]

At the end of the day, they're depleted, where an extrovert wakes up in the morning with no coins and every social interaction they have, they get a coin. At the end, they feel rich. And when I spend time with my friends who are extroverts, we go to a party and they are like, as soon as we leave, they want to go out more.

[00:09:55]

You know, when I leave a party, first of all, I always leave early, I always leave early. And I just want to I just want to go home and do nothing.

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Yeah, but I'm just like you, which is if I have to talk to someone about I mean, about anything, if I need to find something out about who they are, what makes them tick, how does that go?

[00:10:14]

I can start a conversation, keep it going. I have insatiable curiosity. I ask good questions, I ask pointed questions.

[00:10:21]

But in a social interaction where I have no pursuit, I go up to a person. They may introduce themselves and I don't know what to say. Yeah. And I'm so self-conscious about it as well because I'll just stand there and smile and nod and like beg and hope that they say something. Yeah. Because otherwise I'm just going to be like, OK, well very nice to meet you and walk away going. They think I'm an idiot.

[00:10:44]

But this idea of pursuit, which is when I have pursuit, I'm able to call upon and very naturally, I might add, it still might exhaust me, but I don't. There's no internal dialogue. There's no strain. Yeah.

[00:10:59]

So this goes back to the first challenge that you raised, which is you don't perceive the things that you did in going into a war zone.

[00:11:08]

Yeah. As courageous, even though the rest of us. Absolutely. Would I concur with your wife, that is, you know, for the rest of us, it is courage.

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But for you, because there was a pursuit. And so it goes back to the question you raised before, which is the thing that you find very difficult.

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And I think the thing that a lot of us find very difficult is how to start a very difficult conversation.

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Knowing and I like the way you put it, that at the end of this conversation it could be worse.

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Yeah. Or if it's professional, it might be someone losing their job. Yeah.

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Or it might be someone feeling bad or it might be pointing to someone out, something that they don't want to know about themselves, but they really need to know this about themselves. And the relationship could collapse. Yeah. And so how does one do that.

[00:11:54]

Like what is the pursuit like how do we have pursuit so that that becomes something that human beings are better equipped to do?

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It's a really hard question to answer because I think most of us are wired to avoid or I think to avoid conflict. I think so. I don't know if all I don't know if that's true, but I think so.

[00:12:15]

I mean, is this a different personality types? We either want people to like us. Yeah. Or we went to make sure people feel OK. I wanna make sure you're OK. Yeah, I think few are the people who don't care about how I feel and I don't care about how you feel, so I'm just going to do it. Yeah. I mean as I get older it gets a little bit easier, but I have probably spent too much time in my life worrying about what people think of me and really wanting to be liked by people.

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And I think in part because like most people, we are we are our own worst critics.

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We're usually the hardest on ourselves.

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Yeah, I'm really compelled by this idea that to find, quote unquote, courage, that there has to be a pursuit because that makes whatever struggle you're about to go through worth it.

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Right. Like the need to bear witness is more important than me running away to safety or anything else that we do where we're uncomfortable, although we may not.

[00:13:08]

Feeling comfortable in the time and this idea that our ability to have difficult conversations, to find the courage for confrontation is actually the pursuit is not the thing that we're talking about, but it's about self-examination and personal growth that if I am in the pursuit of self-examination, then in order to be on that journey, I have to have these conversations, because at the end of the day, none of us live in a bubble.

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We're social animals. Yeah. Whether we like it or not, introversion and extraversion aside, we have to interact with other human beings. We have no choice. And success in life is a successful interaction with other human beings. And that doesn't mean everything's happy. That means successful interaction is knowing how to navigate complication and tension as well. Successful marriages are not absent tension, just the successful marriages. The couple are willing to meet it head on and go through it.

[00:14:02]

Yeah, but again, the pursuit is, I think, self-examination. I need to grow. Yeah.

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And I think that it's like we all live in our own movie. Right. And we are all constantly like seeing that movie from a very distinctive perspective, our own perspective, our own perspective.

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That is usually wrong. Yeah, right. Like even the story we tell ourselves about who we are is a version of who we are, but it's very different from someone else's version. I'll give you an example. I had this impression and I think part of it is just intentionally like suppressed memories of. Really hating high school and recently a high school friend of mine got in touch with me because, you know, she hears my show and found out I live in the Bay Area and got in touch with me.

[00:14:53]

And she was a good friend of mine, high school. And we lost touch after high school. She went to UCLA and now she's a psychiatrist. And we were on the phone and I said, I just I really hated high school. I just I have really bad memories of it.

[00:15:09]

It just being lonely. And it was a big high school to a 3000 person high school. I was the editor in chief of the high school paper. But my memory is of being just, you know, another kid in the crowd and she's like, really hate high school.

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She's like, you had so many friends, everyone liked you.

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And I was like, whoa, what are you talking about? And then she told me the story that I didn't even remember until she told me. She said, you were.

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And I'm telling you the story because I promise you, my own story of me in high school was as kind of a standoffish, aloof kid who was kind of too cool for school and never went to football games. And I didn't go to the senior prom. I didn't participate because probably because I wanted to participate. But my response to it was, those things are stupid and I'm not going take part. So I have this perception of kind of being like a negative person.

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And she said, I remember one time our senior year of high school gym member. She said, we just took the day off, we just skipped school and we went skiing. We went to Mountain High outside of L.A. and I said, yeah, I think I remember.

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She said, And do you remember? I could barely ski. And we went down like one hill and I was just doing snowplough all the way down. And you got down.

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And when I finally reached the bottom, you were waiting there for me with a cup of hot hot chocolate.

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And I did not remember. This is a friend. I didn't remember it at all. She said you were so nice. You were just such a nice person, high school. And I was stunned. I was like, tell me more. I need to know this.

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These memories are totally locked away, you know? And so that's also part of the challenge that we face as as humans, that we have these narratives that that are so real.

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They are the truth to us. You know, like I think about this is my kid, Simon, my kids who you've met. I love them so much.

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But sometimes and maybe more than sometimes, my kids set me off and I love them. And I, you know, and I do a children's show. So I'm like, there are lots of kids who listen to me on the show and and know me and my character on the show. But like, I'm also a dad.

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And so, like, I could get really, really mad at my kids when they do stupid things or they do something that, you know, they could just set me off. Right, whining, whatever, whatever it is. Right. And I'm sometimes I will I work hard on trying to control it.

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And I count to ten and and thankfully, my wife and I are on the same page and, you know, but I can just lose it. Sometimes I get really mad.

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And I have this fear that one day the narrative that they will have is like Daddy, uncle or daddy used to get really angry instead of like the hours and hours of time that I spent. Like, playing with them are like throwing pitches or working on their hitting or throwing footballs at them. Like I thankfully I get to work from home. So I see the kids outside of school hours. I see them every day and really do to try to engage with them.

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But I still thought, like God, one day I going to have a conversation with my kids.

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They're going to be like, Yeah, Dad, you were just, you know, that's who you were. And and I'll be like, what? But what are you talking about?

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Isn't that part of sort of the the magic and frustration of life, which is. Yeah. My friend George Flinn calls the moments of truth.

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There are these fleeting moments, sometimes minor little things that have massive impact in the lives of others that we don't even remember that we did good and bad. I might. Yes, yes, yes.

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That time that you walked past me in the hall and waved and said hi to me, I've never forgotten that you're like, yeah, okay.

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You know, and you gave me the courage to do something because and you're like, yeah, well, you taught me how to be a good person because you were standing at the bottom of the hill with a cup of hot chocolate.

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And we don't realize good and bad the power that we can have in the life of another human being. Yeah. And so I guess the pursuit is then you try and be a good person all the time. But even getting angry is like that one time that you told me, you know, you told me off. And I I'm really grateful that you did because nobody else would have. I mean, like, we have no idea idea how it's going to be perceived.

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And one of the things that I find so interesting, even you telling me about your own narrative of yourself, because, you know, it's rare that we get to have conversations with people where we've actually known each other a million years and we interacted in college together because we were both involved in student government.

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And I remember you. It's so funny that you say that you were afraid of confrontation, because I remember you standing out in a I remember a few other people, guy that I interacted with in student government.

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Yeah. And I remember you specifically as having absolute courage to speak out and speak in hard words. For the things that you believed were right and you were you were very outspoken and uncompromising in doing the right thing, and so I remember you as having more courage than everybody else to have difficult conversations and have confrontations.

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It's interesting. It's possible that that's true, that, you know, especially in college, I was able to articulate ideas with less fear than I can do as an adult like today. I mean, I can sit on a stage. Right, and be interviewed or talk to a crowd of people. But I'm prepared for that conversation.

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And it's usually a fairly friendly crowd, right. Like that. People are coming to see you. But if I was in like, let's say, the Oxford Union, you drop me in the Oxford Union right now and the forum is open to anybody to speak or like a TED conference. And you just hand me a microphone in that audience. I don't think I could do it.

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I think it would be really hard for me to stand up and just extemporaneously say something, because this is the courage part. I think this is comes back to the idea of courage.

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Where I think I lack courage to this day is I'm still vulnerable to the fear of judgment by outsiders.

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You know, even at this point in my life, in my mid 40s parent, you know, to children, grown man, successful career, I still do want to be judged positively by people.

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And I think that's really what I struggle with, especially when it comes to this idea of courage. I don't have the courage to say screw it. I don't care. You know, I'm just going to say it. I don't care what people think about it. I really do care about what people think. I think that's half true.

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And of course, I'm overlaying my own experience as you're speaking. Yeah. And I am the same.

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I don't think that I have courage to speak out the same way other people do, because I want to make sure that the message is right. Yeah. But then again, I know that I have this reputation for saying very uncomfortable things to people in meetings or on stages. Yeah.

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And so I'm trying as you're speaking, I'm trying to reconcile these two things and it goes back to pursuit, which is, yes, I have pursuit for my cause that when I say those uncomfortable things straight to someone's face in a meeting, truth to power, at no point do I have any trepidation because it's no longer about me and it's no longer about them.

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It's about something that's way more important than both of us. Yeah.

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Whereas when it's something else and it becomes about something small or worse about me, then I can be completely stuck and literally not know what to say.

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And I think that you could stand up in front of the Oxford Union in front of a potentially unfriendly audience with no agenda, no subject matter, and be compelling if you gave yourself a cause or pursuit on that stage.

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And that's, by the way, one of my stupid human tricks, which is before I give any talk, no matter the size of the audience, no matter the composition of the audience, I will be backstage and I will say sometimes out loud to myself, you're here to give me.

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And it reminds me that I have an agenda, I have a vision, and I'm here to pursue it.

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And if I'm caught off guard and somebody says, hey, can you just say a few words? The way I'll compose myself for a second or two before I speak is you're here to give take an opportunity. This is a new audience go. Yeah. And I think you can do the same.

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Yeah, I think that's right. I know you can. This is not like a motivational talk.

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I know, but I think you're right when there's a purpose behind it, you know, when there's an external purpose or an external pursuit.

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We've been calling it pursuit, which I really like. Yeah, it's doable, I think.

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And I actually think that right now and I've recently been doing this as well on my show on on how I built this. You know, we're a really important moment. You know, we're in a moment where we are. All of us, especially all of us white folks, have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable in a way that is going to be and hopefully already is really unsettling to sit down and hear and listen and also to spend time trying to understand things that we just didn't for for most of our lives.

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I liken it to like what's happening now in the conversations around privilege and around history and around memory and around wealth equality and systemic institutional racism. I sort of liken it to what's happening with I think a lot of whites in the United States is they're sort of like, you know, when you're you're on your computer and all of a sudden that, like Rainbow Circle shows up and starts to just go and go. And you're like, oh, my God, can you please hurry up?

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I'm in a hurry. And the computer is just like the rainbow circle. Like I think a lot of white people are in that rainbow circle. They're processing a lot of information right now and it's extremely important.

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But it's also very frustrating for most African-Americans, most black Americans who know these things, know these troops, live these truths and in many cases haven't been believed.

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You know, their concerns have been diminished or minimized. The way they've been treated have been brushed aside and not taken seriously. And now we're in a moment where there must be a. Total reassessment and reevaluation of our narrative, right, our own personal narrative, the narrative that we have believed about our country, the United States, a willingness to completely tear that narrative down and reconstruct it.

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And, you know, basically, I think. A need to sort of surrender, to surrender to truths that many white people in America, you know, I don't think always for nefarious reasons, but just they haven't been willing to do so.

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And I think that that is something that, you know, I don't want to overstate it.

[00:25:48]

I don't want to overuse word courage. But I do think that it will require a level of courage to reshape how we how we think about this country, our history, who benefits? Because if we can't do that, we can't change it. You know what I mean?

[00:26:04]

The thing that I think was so different about the murder of George Floyd, to your point, is that it was the first time you talk about being in our own movie and narratives and you know what we believe.

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And when stories of police brutality, you know, come out in the news, what we saw was photographs of the aftermath or a blurry interaction of we don't know what.

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And there was the one account and then there was the police account. And because most of us have, you know, as a white male, the interactions I've had with the police in the past has been very different than my black male friends who've had very different interactions with the police. And so that all factors into how do I assess this?

[00:26:45]

And the murder of George Ford was so different because we saw the entire scene from beginning to end with multiple camera angles for the first time ever as a white population, we saw what a lot of African-Americans have known for a long time, and there was no double narrative. There was nothing there was no fuzzy aftermath. It was there crystal clear that's what it was and there was no uncertainty.

[00:27:15]

Yeah. And I think that the frustration among so many black Americans is that it took the George Floyd video to wake up a sizable portion of the American population. I mean, the very hard thing for most people to reckon with is that within all of us lives racism. It's very hard for us to say that because the word racist in America has, you know, to many people means somebody burning across wearing a white hood. And so, you know, the old trope, I don't have a racist bone in my body.

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You know, you always hear that from somebody who said something incredibly racist. The reality is racism lives deep within us. We have been exposed to images and ideas from the earliest times in our lives that shape the way we see the world and to deprogram that to unravel. That is really hard work. Yes.

[00:28:18]

And I think that people can more easily accept that.

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If we accept that, we all have judgment. Yeah. And we judge people every day. And I mean, we do it at work. You know, somebody underperforms what is their problem, you know, and we have judgment about all kinds of things, including someone's appearance. And we are all judgmental. And so the question isn't I don't think how do you cease to be judgmental? Because I think I think this goes to pursuit. Right?

[00:28:52]

I think this goes to pursuit, which is no one will ever be nonjudgmental, but we can pursue.

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That ideal, because the whole idea of pursuit is that you never get there, but you'll get better and better and better and better, and it's your thing about growing up and getting older, which is I don't think we're different people.

[00:29:08]

I think we're better versions of the person we're trying to be if you want to be on that journey. Yeah. And to have the uncomfortable conversation with yourself, I was too judgmental or I judged too quickly or I need to learn to hear first before rendering judgment. Find out what the back story is. Listen. And I think that idea of listening, it is the best solution to avoiding judgment. Yeah. So the courage is not the confrontation. It's not having the difficult conversation.

[00:29:41]

The courage is the willingness to start and or be in that conversation and then say nothing.

[00:29:48]

And also to be in that conversation, I think, and understand that you may hear things that make you feel really bad. Yeah. And that's really important. You know, that is a truth. Yeah. And there's accountability, right? Yes.

[00:30:04]

Which is the judgment part is a human thing. And we want to mitigate that. And we want to get better and better and pursue being less judgmental our whole lives.

[00:30:12]

But when we are to accept accountability. Right.

[00:30:15]

I think that we are especially Americans. Right? We are. Naturally optimistic and by the way, it's a very uniquely American thing, like you grew up going to Britain, the average person in Britain is inculcate in the culture to think like I'm going to grow up and be the prime minister. I'm going to grow up and be a billionaire like in America. It's a very American idea that, like, it's always going to get better.

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Europeans make fun of us. Europeans make fun of Americans for the unbridled optimism, for the unbridled optimism.

[00:30:42]

I think I think that's been changing over the past few years. I don't want to kind of be a caricature of the American optimists, but I will say that this moment to me feels very encouraging in the sense that there are conversations that are happening now on huge platforms in mainstream media that would have been considered radical a few years ago.

[00:31:08]

You know, conversations about reparations, about how to how to begin to confront a real reckoning. It's really a much more mainstream conversation.

[00:31:19]

I think more and more people in America, particularly whites in America, are understanding that the wealth creation in this country is not something that happened overnight. It's something that happened over hundreds of years, primarily because of free labor, because of enslaved population that built the foundation of that wealth, who never benefited in that wealth. It's instructive to, I think sometimes to examine how other societies have reckoned with their past, not to compare tragedies or to compare experiences.

[00:31:52]

I mean, South African apartheid and the Rwandan genocide of the Holocaust and Jim Crow and enslavement and, you know, the terrorization of black Americans. Each of these stories is unique and each of these stories stands alone. But in many cases around the world, there have been attempts to reckon with the past, imperfect, most of the time imperfect, even in the case of Germany, where they banned any public symbols of Nazism. They there are no statues to Nazi leaders are no, there are no memorials to Nazi Nazis at all.

[00:32:29]

You can't fly the swastika. Germany paid cash reparations to Holocaust survivors. It doesn't mean that it eliminated racism and anti-Semitism in Germany. They exist. It doesn't mean it made Germany a perfect country. It is imperfect. It doesn't mean that there are aren't Germans who bitterly resent the fact that they are constantly reminded by their own country of the crimes of their ancestors. But it is something it's something right now in South Africa, there was a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

[00:33:04]

It didn't bring about economic equality. It didn't bring back the dead, but it was something. And in the United States, we have had nothing. I mean, even even well-meaning presidents like Jimmy Carter, who is a deeply empathetic person, we've never had a U.S. president. I mean, who who has felt able to. At the very least, begin a conversation about the original sin of America's founding, and I think that that that has to happen, that as a first step that has to happen.

[00:33:39]

Human beings are funny because we have ingrained in us. It's innate, a desire and a sense of fairness. You know, children from a very young age. Yes. Oh, yes, and especially if they're siblings. Oh, yes. You know, that's unfair. That's right. Right. Yeah.

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And sometimes it's a somebody get something and somebody else doesn't or sometimes it's in punishment. How come you're not yelling at them? We have innate it's ingrained in us because we didn't teach our kids fairness.

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They're so young when they start using and having a sense of fairness and balance and equilibrium. And the statistics are alarming.

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I can remember the exact numbers, but they're it's something like 70 or 80 percent of malpractice suits are simply because the doctor refused to apologize. That's yeah, yeah, that if the doctor simply said, I am so sorry, they would have been no suit.

[00:34:32]

Yeah, and you think about it, there are so many ways that people avoid saying sorry because it's so hard, because Sayari is a mirror that says you did something that hurt someone even if you didn't intend it.

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You still do it, it's like that old Keystone Cops, it's like you're holding a plank of wood and you turn, you turn and you bonk somebody, you know, you hit somebody. You if you want to do that, you still turn around and say, oh, I'm sorry. Like, you still take accountability even though you didn't mean it.

[00:34:58]

Yeah. And just happened to me just yesterday that I got sort of a kind of apology. My favorite is when people say, I'm sorry, but, well, that's not an apology. The minute you leave negated the apology.

[00:35:10]

But the one I got yesterday was we had an argument and she didn't want to talk about it. And so she just basically said, I'm going to talk to you tomorrow. I don't want to talk about this. And got off the phone very abruptly and she texted me and said, I apologize. The phone call ended abruptly. And I thought to myself that said that I like I, I thanked her because I knew what she was trying to do.

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It's a step.

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It's a step, you know, and I wanted to I wanted to know. It's the fact that to her that was an apology. But she'd never said, I'm sorry I was difficult or I'm sorry.

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I ended the phone call abruptly. It was too hard. So I'm sorry. The phone call ended abruptly, you know, as if it was cut off because we lost our cell signal.

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And I think if we struggle to apologize to our friends for the actions that we take that may make the situation go south, then how is a society, where do we find the courage to say, I'm sorry for what we did, I'm sorry for what my ancestors did, even though I had no part of it?

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It's well, just like I didn't intend to to bunk you with my briefcase, with my umbrella.

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And by the way, even when you say sorry, it may not actually have an immediate impact in any way. The example it would be. With Germany, I mean, my grandmother and my grandfather, who lost most of their family in the Holocaust, who were burnt ashes, they shuddered when they heard German spoken.

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If they heard it in movies, they shuddered. They were so fearful of they would never step foot in Germany. I lived there for three years. So there's an enormous difference.

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Like, of course, I saw horrible Germans, but I also saw wonderful Germans and really came to admire so many things about Germany.

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Now I'm just two generations removed from the Holocaust.

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When I was a kid, my parents had friends who would come over who are now my age in their mid 40s, who had numbers on their arms.

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I was six, seven years old. I remember that I'm now there's 45. I remember that they were my age.

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But the fact is, is that. You know, in apology to somebody, I understand that that often requires courage, but it's doable. It doesn't actually, and especially in a personal context, saying sorry or thank you to somebody. It's free, but it's so damn hard.

[00:37:37]

It's so it's so damn hard. Yeah. And there's two sides of this coin because there's the courage to say sorry and accept responsibility. And there's also the courage to accept that apology. That's right, there's two sides. Yeah, and sometimes it happens where one person musters the courage. There's a pursuit of something here to take full accountability and say sorry, even if unintended or not personally involved in the case of history. And what do you do when the other person doesn't accept it?

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It's very hard. And that's I think that's part of the fear of giving an apology.

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Yeah, because because if you're left apologizing and there's no acceptance of the apology, that is the most vulnerable you can be.

[00:38:19]

Yeah, and forgiveness is also very difficult. And we know from millions and millions of research papers that when you forgive somebody, it's actually something you do for yourself. But it's still very hard. Yeah.

[00:38:32]

You know, I'll be honest with you, like, it's conversations like these for me where somebody who I love and trust who. You know, I know I can have a conversation with and you and I, you know, the nice thing is we reconnected after many years and what's so nice is because there was a background, because there was a history, instant friends and yours and my friendship has only gotten deeper.

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And you're one of those few people in my life that I know I can talk about absolutely anything without judgment. If anything, you will get in there with me to try and understand what I'm trying to understand with me. And this conversation has been exactly that for me. This idea of courage has to have pursuit, I think is fascinating. And then when there is pursuit, you actually won't need courage because you just want to do it.

[00:39:21]

Yeah, like had this great conversation with Maria Shriver about service, what it means to live to to live a life of service. And I made this comment that service has to have sacrifice. And she pushed back and said absolutely not, because if you're the one doing the thing and it's the path you're on, it never feels like a sacrifice to you.

[00:39:40]

It's right. Struggle, maybe suffering, maybe, but not sacrifice.

[00:39:46]

It's only a sacrifice. Like how could you've given up that to do that to others? They don't want to be on that path. They see it as a sacrifice for you. You just see it as a logical next step. Yeah.

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And I think that's what pursuit does.

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I think pursuit makes having that difficult conversation or doing that difficult thing, the logical next step that to others they perceive as courage. But to those who do it, of course you do it like those servicemen and servicewomen. Who risk their lives to save the lives of others in that moment, it was just a logical next step.

[00:40:20]

Yeah, and in every case I know you've experienced this.

[00:40:24]

I remember when I spent time with with soldiers and Marines and I would say, why are you here? And, you know, you would occasionally get a pat answer to protect and, you know, the freedoms of my country. And I say, no, really, why would you die? And it's always, look, man, I'm just here to protect the guy, my left and my right every time. It's simple as that.

[00:40:44]

It's a very clear idea. I mean, yes, it's patriotism and the flag and maybe some of that stuff. But really, it's about making sure the guy on your left, the guy on your right doesn't get killed.

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It's camaraderie. Yeah. And it goes back to why should we go through this?

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Why should we go through this conversation, this national conversation, this struggle right now?

[00:41:06]

And it is there's a pursuit to have these difficult conversations, even if they're difficult on a one on one level. Yeah, not at a societal level, because we've been given a pursuit by our founding fathers. All men are created equal pursue 234 years later. We're still pursuing.

[00:41:19]

But I think because it is, we have no choice but to live amongst each other. We are tribal animals, we're social animals. And it's person to the left, in person to the right. That's why it's worth it.

[00:41:29]

At least it is for me. Yeah, no question about it. I mean, I think ultimately that's what it's about right now.

[00:41:35]

We're at this moment now that is really unsettling. And it's not only because that that the pandemic and the economic crisis, it's because of so many factors that I can't fully articulate. But I think most people will understand what I'm talking about. It's a moment that has sort of culminated in this political period to where cruelty and this absence of just empathy. And I know it's going to sound really simplistic and forgive me, but I believe this just an absence of kindness is just really and I'm not saying that, that we were kinder, more empathetic or what beforehand, although I do think outwardly we were in some ways.

[00:42:19]

But I think we've been in a moment for the past three years, you know, with the election of Trump and and the people around him, that has really kind of opened the floodgates to just just a kind of a level of cruelty that and meanness that makes me really sad. And I hope my hope is that this moment is also instructive for all of us, that this should not be what we want.

[00:42:46]

We should want to live in a in a place where in a country in a society where we are making sure the person on the left and the right to us is OK.

[00:43:01]

It's not that hard, it's really not that hard, it can be done. You know, I hope that it can happen in this country. I hope that this period will have shaken us in a different direction. I don't I don't know if it will. I think it will.

[00:43:17]

I think that this one is that the response has been different. Everything about this one's been different. And I think that this is one of those things like stepping into attention with a friend or a loved one where you say, I don't want to go through that again, but I'm glad it happened.

[00:43:31]

God, I really don't want to go through it again. No, no, no. Oh, my God.

[00:43:37]

And this is the problem with pursuit, right? Because pursuit is an ideal. None of us is going to be perfect. None of us is going to get it right. Society, individuals, society, just collection of individuals who get it wrong on a regular basis.

[00:43:50]

Yeah. And you just hope you hope that we can look around and ask for help, lend our help and take accountability when we get it wrong. And that's the pursuit.

[00:44:02]

All right. Let me ask you this question. I mean, the infinite game, the whole premise of that book is to keep playing the game. And so by its very definition, it's an optimistic book. Right? Because if you're playing the infinite game, you believe the game is worth playing and worth playing infinitely. And I wonder because I do this very optimistic show how I built this. I did TED Radio Hour, very optimistic show I do out in the world, very optimistic show.

[00:44:31]

It's about possibility. I love the idea of possibility. But I have to confess that that that I go through periods of deep, dark pessimism, you know, where I'm really discouraged about the future. And it's hard because I'm a parent.

[00:44:46]

I've got to be optimistic because I've got two children and I want them to live in a world that's better.

[00:44:53]

So I wonder how you think about optimism versus pessimism, given that the nature of your work is optimistic?

[00:45:01]

You know, people think because I'm optimistic, I'm I'm blind. To me, optimism is not the denial of the reality around me. It's the belief that the future is bright, that I'm in a dark tunnel. And instead of focusing on the darkness, I choose to focus on the light at the end.

[00:45:18]

And I cannot tell you how far away it is. And I can't tell you how long it's going to take to get there. But all I know is that I can see the light and that's the direction we have to go. But I can still accept and acknowledge that this is dark and difficult and my footing is uncertain because I can't see the ground. And so Fumi optimism is the belief that I'd rather walk with my head looking forwards than my head looking down and instead of worrying about I don't know how to take the next step to be confident that if I stumble, that I have people with me who'll pick me up because I promise to do the same for them, because I don't believe you can reach the light alone.

[00:45:54]

And that doesn't mean that I don't sometimes feel down because of the state of where we are or feel bad, because you just continue with the metaphor that we're tired and exhausted and it's dark and my knees are scraped up and I'm hurting. And the thing that solves for all of that is someone who says, I got you back. I agree. And this is why you understand courage, because you've been there and you would not have had the courage to go into a war zone as a journalist if there weren't hundreds of thousands of journalists who'd gone before you.

[00:46:29]

You might have been by yourself, but you didn't go alone. It's true to be a part of something. You know, I cannot stand it when politicians invoke the future.

[00:46:39]

We have to do this for our children. Right. Because if if we really made decisions for our children, we wouldn't make half the decisions that we make.

[00:46:46]

Right.

[00:46:47]

But it's for our past. We cannot let those who went before us let their struggles go in vain, that we have to uphold, that we're only a part of a journey. We're only a part of a continuum. And it's not our journey. It's the journey of all of those people who came before us. Yeah, and legacy is not what we leave behind. Legacy is how much we carried it forward in pursuit.

[00:47:13]

My legacy is not what I left behind. My legacy is I moved down that path ten feet in my lifetime. Yeah. And then I passed the torch to you to try and carry it a little further down.

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And I think we completely misunderstand what legacy means, that it's actually nothing to do with us. What's your legacy? Ask me what what the legacy of those who came before me is.

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And I'll tell you what, minus. Yeah, because the cause is not mine. It was established long before me.

[00:47:43]

I agree. I agree. I, I don't think I could say it any better. I appreciate you defining what I have as courage and I hope it's true. And if it is, I could always use a little bit more every day.

[00:48:00]

Aymen. Well, I'll go with you. All right, let's do it. I love you. There's not a single time I talk to you where I don't learn something or come away just a little wiser.

[00:48:12]

See, now you're doing the thing that my friend Laurie did where I stood at the bottom of the mountain with a hot cocoa. I'm like, wow, really? That's. I love that. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for saying that.

[00:48:27]

The thing that I took away from this conversation was that pursuit doesn't have to be something lofty, it doesn't have to be about vision or cause it could be something much smaller than that. But for us to have courage, you have to have pursuit.

[00:48:43]

If you enjoyed this podcast and if you'd like to hear more, please subscribe wherever you like to listen to podcasts. Until then, take care of yourself. Take care of each other.