Adam Grant ON: How to Rethink Your Assumptions & Become More Effective at Communicating with OthersOn Purpose with Jay Shetty
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- 22 Feb 2021
This is a special TWO part episode!
You love On Purpose because it inspires your life. Have you tried Jay’s Genius workshops and meditations to access even deeper well-being? Learn more at https://shetty.cc/OnPurposeGenius
Adam is a world-renowned psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. So you’d think he understands his mind enough to get things right the first time, right? Think again.
This week, Jay Shetty speaks with Adam Grant about his new book Think Again and the importance of being open to rethinking what you once thought you knew.
See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Hey, guys, we have a pretty unique episode of On Purpose for You All today, so I had the absolute honor of speaking with Adam Gron, the renowned Wharton psychologist, not just once this year, but twice. I spoke to him back at the end of last year, but then was so excited about his new book, Think Again, that he decided to speak to him again just a few weeks ago, both interviews, which is so excellent and about different themes that I decided to combine them into one epic episode for your enjoyment.
The first interview you will hear is the most recent one. And then an hour in, you will hear our interview from a few months ago. Take your time. Listen to one today and one tomorrow. It really doesn't matter. I'm just so grateful to you all and to Adam for this special episode of On Purpose and Joy.
Everyone, welcome back to you On Purpose, the number one health podcast in the world, thanks to each and every single one of you that come back every week to listen, learn and grow.
Now, I know that we talk a lot about learning. We talk a lot about growing. We talk a lot about thinking differently. But today we're actually talking about unlearning. We're talking about all the things that we need to reflect on and maybe rewire and renew our thoughts about it.
Because I'm speaking with one of our favorite guests on purpose, one of the few people who ever played twice, the one and only Adam Grant and organizational psychologist at Wharton, who's been recognized as one of the world's ten most influential management thinkers.
He's also New York Times best selling author who has sold millions of copies of his books on generosity, driving success, nonconformist, moving the world and Building Resilience after adversity. He currently writes for The New York Times about work and psychology and hosts Work Life, a podcast on how to make work, not suck. His latest book, Think Again, is the topic of our conversation today. Adam, welcome back to On Purpose. I can't wait to talk about your new book, and I'm so glad that you're joining us again.
I am thrilled to be here, although I think it might be by accident because I know it's supposed to be one and done. So I don't know how I got back a second time, but I'm grateful to be here. Well, I'm happy to have you back. You know, I could interview about so many different topics. I'm glad that we're getting to go deeper again today. I wanted to start slightly wild card, and I didn't know this before, actually.
But I saw on your website that you have a section called Wondering where you answer fascinating questions by readers.
I was wondering what's the most crazy off the wall question you've ever had?
And I want to know how you responded.
Oh, the craziest question I think I've ever gotten was can you help me fight my medical malpractice lawsuit? No, I'm not a lawyer or a doctor.
I have no idea what to do here. I said let me at least suggest a few people who I think might be helpful and I never heard back. Well, that's very kind of you to to introduce them to some people when they've come for unsolicited and random advice. And it's nice that you are honest with them. I, I could imagine a few people having a bit of fun and giving some advice that just sounded cruel. I felt like this is this is obviously somebody who does not know where to turn for help.
And I'll do what I can to try to point them in a productive direction, but I'm not really sure what came of it.
Well, you're doing the same with your new book. Think again. You know, when I've been diving through the pages and looking at all the themes and topics you're covering, I feel like this book seems to cover so many of today's biggest challenges and mindsets that we're all struggling with challenges that we're all having in our lives. Tell me why you thought now's the time to write. Think again based on obviously all the years of study that you've done for it.
But why was now the right time to get people to think again?
I actually didn't realize it was when I started working on Think Again. It was I think I was three years ago that I started writing it and it just grew out of my frustration with people who are clinging to knowledge that was no longer accurate for a world that had changed a lot or who were stuck to opinions that clearly it was time to question and maybe complicate a little bit. And I felt like, OK, this is a great time to say I have spent my career as an organizational psychologist thinking again.
Right. My job is to rethink how we work, how we lead, how we live our lives. But I never really explored the process of thinking again and done a deep dive into the question of how do we update our own opinions and assumptions, how do we open other people's minds and how do we build cultures of learning? So I set out to write this book and then the pandemic hits when I'm about halfway through writing it.
And suddenly we are all forced to rethink all these things that we've taken for granted most of our lives, even something as basic. Can I hug my grandparents or can I go and eat in an indoor restaurant or will be live sports on TV and given all the rethinking that we've had to do because of the pandemic, it seemed like the right time to try to give people a general framework for how to think about it.
Yeah, asking people to think again is is quite a bold thing to do because we feel so safe in our regurgitated, pattern oriented thoughts. Like I feel that even now a lot of what I hear is a, when are things going to go back? Right. I'm still hearing that. And we hear things like, well, one of the things going to be normal again, and that feels like it feels like we have such a strong hold as humans on safety, security, stability, certainty, and and this idea of things staying the same, that when you say think again, it's like, well, actually, that's a lot of work.
Like it's almost like we're scared of that. So tell me about what you found and why are we so obsessed with things staying the same and and having that same thought? And where's the root of that?
Jay, it's ironic that you're asking me this question, right? As a monk, you specialize in helping people understand and accept impermanence.
So let me ask you, why do you think we're so attached to our ideas and opinions as opposed to being willing to question them?
Oh, Adam, look at you switch switching the interview over already getting everyone to think again how they should structure that interview.
Questions never, never to allow for this from from a very Monck spiritual perspective.
The idea would be, is that we are all wired for spontaneity, for growth, for ever expansion. But through our education, through our parenting, through the conditioning of what we've experienced in this material world, we've become safer or feel safer in this false safety net of stability. And from a spiritual point of view, the idea would be that there is no such thing as stability. There is no security. Everything from the cells in our body, through to our minds, through to every part of us in this material world is constantly changing.
And so the idea of holding on to something, the root of that is because we feel we've been trained to believe that that's how you survive. That's how you that's how you're happy.
That's how you you're scared of almost taking a risk of what may happen if I let go of this when actually when you live in a spiritually abundant life, you already know that movement and growth and expansion is the only way that you feel happiness. So from a very spiritual point of view, I could answer in many different ways, but from a very spiritual point of view, that would be seen as the root.
Well, that tracks very closely with what we would say in psychology, which is I first of all, there's there's just a basic ego threat that comes from admitting that your opinions have changed because that means you're saying, you know what, I was wrong. And for a lot of people, that makes them question their intelligence and makes them worry that everyone else is going to find out that there are fraud in it. It plays into imposter syndrome. And then there's also a challenge of unpredictability that if I need to change my opinions every day or every hour or even every week or month, then how do I make sense of a world that is not standing still under my feet?
And I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with that idea. And they like to maintain a sense of control by saying, look, if I stick to the comfort of conviction and avoid the discomfort of doubt, then I can feel like I have a grip on the world around me. And then I think there's a social piece of this, too, which is belonging if if I am willing to rethink some of my views, I'm putting myself at risk for being expelled from my group.
Right. I might be in some ways challenging my tribe. And that sense of exclusion, that risk of loneliness is obviously something that's easier to steer clear of.
Yeah. So where do you draw the line between thinking again and being stable and feeling like you're in a safe space? Like how do you how do you kind of draw that line? Because I feel like from your studies, I'm sure you found places where it was good to not think again or good to not question. And almost sometimes over questioning leads to over thinking and overanalyzing and procrastination. Tell us about that boundary. Yeah, I think it's very tricky.
It's probably a tightrope walk for a lot of people. But my read of the evidence is that when people start to make their opinions, their identity, they get in trouble. So you believe a bunch of things and you say, well, that's who I am. And I just I would love for people to imagine rewinding the clock half a century or a century or more and say, OK, if. You made your opinions or your beliefs, your identity, and let's say you're a teacher, you might have seen yourself as a corporal punishment, right?
Whose job it is to discipline students? Or if you were a doctor, you would have said, all right, I'm a professional lobotomist. And what I do is I you know, I solve all kinds of medical problems by taking out part of the frontal lobe. Or if you are a police officer, you might have seen yourself more recently as a stop and frisk. And the problem with all these identities is they're attached to policies and practices that we now know are counterproductive.
I think what we want is to build our identities around our values, and that's where we're looking for a little bit more stability and groundedness. So I want to go to the doctor who says my values are around protecting and promoting health and I'm open to rethinking what are the best procedures to do that. Right. I want to go to the police officer who says I'm here to promote justice and safety. And I'm not sure what the best ways to do that are, but I'm going to look at the data and I definitely want to send my kids to the teacher who says I'm here to help kids learn first and foremost.
And I'm not going to commit to any one way of doing that. And I don't know that we should always freeze our values. Right. I think they should evolve, too. But it's a lot easier for me to say my core values are generosity, excellence, integrity and freedom. And I'm going to be pretty flexible about learning the most effective ways to live by those values.
What do you think about that? I think that's such a great distinction. I've never heard it put that way, but I really appreciate that. For me, that's been really clarifying about how your values, as you said, they don't need to be frozen. They can they can evolve as well. But the idea is that you have a set of values, but you're flexible and adaptable about how they come to life at different times in your life. And and I often say to people like I love the books that I studied living as a monk, and and I got so much value from them.
And I obviously share them, but I'm always open to discovering something, some new spiritual truth that I'm not accustomed to or aware of when I'm speaking to someone, because I just want to be a seeker of the truth. And and I think that allows me to have this very deep affinity for the work that I've done, but not a sentimental attachment to them, if that makes sense. And I think that's what I was getting from you, is that often we create this sentimental attachment to our beliefs because we feel they define us as opposed to feeling well.
I have this very strong loyalty, but I'm still able to peruse and and search and discover. I think you nailed it.
Attachment is such a barrier for so many people to rethinking opinions and ideas that are no longer serving them well. And this this isn't just true with the things we believe about the world. Right. It's also true for the plans that we make. So you mentioned a lot of people are asking when are we going back? And obviously, I think you and I would both say, well, actually, let's just try to move forward. But it's so common for people to to get attached to early images that they formed of how they wanted to live their lives and who they wanted to be.
Right. Anybody who ever was asked the question as a kid, what do you want to be when you grow up and had an answer like, well, I'm going to be a lawyer or I'm going to be a doctor. And then 20 or 30 years later, it's still locked into that plan, never really questioning. Does that make sense for me? There's a there's a term in psychology for that. It's called identity foreclosure. And it's the idea of sort of seizing and freezing too early on, a sense of who you want to be before you've really explored alternatives.
And I think the danger of that is what you want, what you value, what you're looking for in life is going to evolve over time.
And I think we need our identities to evolve with that.
Yeah, absolutely. I couldn't agree more.
And I guess people struggle with thinking again because we're almost like, where do we start?
Like what? What value do you start on? What part of your life do you start on in your studies? Where did you find a good place to start thinking again? Like because I feel like you're opening up a can of worms of like childhood trauma. You know, it's like people start. So where did you start?
Yeah, I honestly don't know the answer to that question because I think it's going to be a little different for everyone. But let's just let's continue on the plan path for a second and say, OK, a lot of people have career regrets right there. They started down a path and then they fell victim to escalation of commitment to a losing course of action, which is where you invest time and energy and money and a path. And then you discover, you know what, this isn't quite what I wanted it to be.
And instead of cutting your losses, you double down. And economists will say that's because of sunk costs. Right. You don't want to admit that you've wasted all that time and money, but the psychological factors are even more important, ego and image. I don't want to look in the mirror and admit to myself that I made a stupid decision. And I want to prove to everybody else that I made a smart one. And so I get. Caught in this self-justification spiral where I'm rationalizing my past choices as opposed to rethinking them and what I've advised my students to do for years is to say, look, you know it.
You go to the doctor or the dentist when you're healthy a couple of times a year just for a checkup. Maybe we should have career checkups. Put a reminder on your calendar twice a year to ask yourself, have I reached a learning plateau in my job or a lifestyle plateau, for that matter? Have I learned something new about what my strengths are or my values are? And is it possible that this culture is no longer serving those? And I think having that kind of checkpoint is a great way to keep yourself honest and make sure that you do some rethinking about what your plans are.
And I don't think it has to be limited to career. Right. I think we could do occasional marriage checkups. We could do all kinds of life decision checkups. I think a lot of people have done this during the pandemic saying, wait a minute, where in the world do I want to live? I don't need to be tethered to the city that I've been for the last eight years.
That's such a practical piece of advice. And I love that one. And we're almost scared of asking that. I want to talk to you about that fear of addressing that, because we're scared of asking that question, because of the idea of what if I hate my job and the now from tomorrow, I know I hate my job and then I'm just going to be depressed. Or if I ask that question about my partner, then maybe we need to get a divorce or maybe we need to break up.
How do we curb our fear of even asking that question and thinking again?
Because that seems to be one of the biggest blocks to even getting to that point of doing that checkup? I think it is.
And the place I would probably start is to say let's let's consider Regrette in the long run.
Our biggest regrets are not our inactions. They're typically our actions. Sorry I said that backward. Try that again, Jay. I think a lot of this is about regret.
In the long run, the decisions that we tend to regret are not our actions. There are inactions there. The chances that we didn't take. And I think in a lot of cases.
Right, rebooting your career or rethinking a relationship is scary. You know, it's even scarier never even considering that possibility in the first place. And so, look, I think everybody is afraid of taking a risk or failing at some level. What we want to do is remember that we should be even more afraid of failing to try.
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Because obviously when you start something and I'm sure you felt this when you started studying or when you became an author for the first time, it's almost like, will I regret not trying because you don't know if it's going to work. And and you're so right that now I look back and I think, wow, I would have had massive regrets, not because you know, where things can go, but to be in that same place again and again and again and again and again.
And I think that's what we don't remember, is that we're always worried about what if the next step doesn't work out, not realizing that the step we're on right now isn't feeling great either.
I think there's so much wisdom in that and a funny place that you can see it is with students who are taking tests where you see that students are really reluctant once they've come up with an answer to change their response, even though the data show that on average, if you're willing to override your first instinct, you actually improve your score. And hilariously, when we tell students this, they still are reluctant to rethink their answers. And I think regret is a huge factor here because imagine the pain of saying I had the right answer and I undid it, as opposed to if I just stick to my gut and I don't rethink it.
Well, it doesn't seem like I was ever going to get it right in the first place. And I think if we're not careful, that can obviously steer us in the wrong direction.
That's crazy that even when you tell people, students in that example that they still don't change, like, why is it that how many times do we have to hear something to know that it works out?
Have you figured this out? Like what? What do we need?
What is needed to genuinely change? Like what is needed to genuinely think again and act on that thinking?
I think probably the most relevant date I've seen is from studies of leaders introducing organizational changes and trying to bring a new vision into a team or into a company.
And on average, in the classic data, leaders under communicated their visions by a multiple of eight, eight times less often than people needed to hear the vision. They explained it. And I think a lot of that is because once you come up with the vision, it makes perfect sense to you. It's crystal clear in your head, right? You spent days or weeks or months or maybe years thinking through this. And so the first time you say it, you assume everyone else gets it, but obviously they don't.
The first time you explain it and I don't know for any person whether that multiple is under communicating by three or 17. But I think on average, we probably underdo it for the most part. And what I often tell leaders is the moment you'll know that you've really gotten through to people is when they say, OK, enough already, I get it, I'm tired of hearing it. And that's when, you know, you've you've really gotten your point across.
Yeah. It's almost like you don't know every time you feel you've over said it, you haven't until that person thinks you've over said it. Exactly. I guess until you feel your team or your partner can complete your sentence. Right. It's almost it's almost like looking at Google, like Google can autocomplete because it knows what most of us are asking all of the time. And the idea that if I was going to say something and you could complete my sentence, chances are I've said it way too much.
It's like it's like the feeling of when your friend or your partner says something like, yeah, you've told me that story like 72 times. Like, I know, except for you. I know exactly what your mum does in that scenario, whatever it may be. Yes. That's a good checking system. I like that. I really like that. I think I think I undervalue that to you.
We assume everyone thinks like us. We do, and I would say the most the most powerful form of persuasion is self-preservation. And that means that instead of having to repeat your vision over and over again, you explain it once or twice and then you ask people to articulate it in their own words. And what they often think they're doing is trying to get other people fired up about it. But really what they're doing is they're internalizing it and convincing themselves that this is a good idea.
You mentioned in your book that people tend to slip into three. Well, there's there's a few, but there's one more about the mindsets of three different professions when they think and talk. And I love this. I really, really like this.
She said preacher, politician and prosecutor. Tell us a bit about those and give us some examples of those so that we can understand. And everyone is listening and watching. What I want you to do is reflect on when you fall into one of these, because we all fall into them at different times in our life. So if you're listening right now or watching, please reflect on as Adam's guiding us through, when in your life you do one of these things.
So, Adam, Jay, this is such a fun direction to go. And I hardly even know where to start, in part because when I think about my life as an organizational psychologist, it is incredibly peculiar to me that although I've never worked as a preacher, a prosecutor or a politician, somehow all of those occupations managed to waltz into my mind during my daily life.
And I think that's true for all of us. The original idea comes from a brilliant paper that my colleague Phil Tatlock wrote, and the idea is that we are social creatures that were very concerned with our standing in the world and what other people think of us, and that a lot of time, a lot of the time when we think we're making rational decisions, we're actually paying a ton of attention to where we fit into a social hierarchy.
When we're in preacher mode, we believe that we have found the truth and our job is to go out and proselytize our sacred, sacred beliefs and get other people on board with them. Prosecutor mode is sort of the reverse.
That's about saying, you know what, I've got to win an argument. You are wrong. And then politician mode is essentially campaigning for the approval of an audience, right, trying to lobby to get a tribe on board with whatever you think they want to hear or trying to earn their admiration in some way. And I think the thing that I worry most about is if you're in preacher prosecutor mode, you don't do enough rethinking because you already believe you're right and everyone else is wrong.
So why would you ever change your mind and a politician mode? We see more flexibility, but it kind of looks like flip flopping, right? I don't I don't really believe what I'm saying.
I'm just trying to appease my audience and cater to what they want to hear. And so, you know, it looks like I'm rethinking at the wrong times and maybe for the wrong reasons. Jay, I'm curious if these three modes, which one is your biggest vice?
Which one is my biggest vice? It would definitely be four years. I would say it's the preacher one for sure. Like, I think I think four years. And I find that especially when you're in an early stage, formative stage of a set of beliefs, preacher is very natural. So I remember when I first started getting involved in spiritual teachings, it was like I was preaching to my parents and my preaching to all my friends. And you're like, here's how you should have raised me.
Exactly. And you, like, push everyone in your life away from you because you think you've figured it out and you forget that this person has a bit more age.
They have a bit more maturity. They have there's there's things that come and come with life and time and experience. And so I think for long parts of my life, especially in the early stages of anything, I think I've naturally shifted into that and then slowly tried to move away from that as much as I can, hopefully into the fourth mindset, which we'll talk about. But yes, in answer to your question, I'd say my biggest vice has definitely been the preacher mode.
It's so interesting it I've thought about this over the years and whenever I encounter somebody who I think is is pretty frequently and preacher mode, I just think, OK, you know, it highly effective for appealing to their existing followers. Right. Because there's a group of people who are already drinking that Kool-Aid and it's very inspiring. And it gives you a sense that you've you found some kind of enlightenment.
But to everybody else, like, why are you trying to force feed me your wisdom? Right. I didn't sign up for this back off. And so I think the more resistant or skeptical an audience is, the more likely that preaching is to backfire.
Yes, I can agree with you more. And I think that's that's where I started to realize. And it was it was more so it was luckily, I, I feel like I caught it early or I was just like, well, actually, I only want to, you know, I just want to discover more. And hence the podcast has been phenomenal for that because I'm sitting with people who can share ideas and insights that may be different to what I've grown up with or challenging sometimes and sometimes even sparking debate in a positive sense.
And so I think that's why sitting down with people from I mean, me and you didn't grow up in the same area. We didn't grow up around the same group of people. And we we don't even stay in fascinated in necessarily the same types of thought on a daily basis. And therefore, this conversation allows me to do that. And and that's why I think the podcast or the idea of sitting down with someone is so powerful.
It is even though one of us is having a very bad hair life or a great one or a great one, you know, or a great one. So but the fourth mindset, which you say is almost like the best mindset to be in or one that you encourage, is the mindset of the scientist. Tell us about how we shouldn't just look at that as like, oh, I have to be like a scientist.
But what that mindset actually means, yeah, I'm not suggesting that anybody has to go and become Einstein or Bill Nye the Science Guy. The thought is you don't have to work in a lab. You don't have to wear a white coat or carry around test tubes. I think about being a scientist as as a way of seeing the world in a way of navigating your life. I think that what scientists value is truth.
I trying to get closer to truth, even if they might never really find it. And that means whatever opinions they form are tentative right there.
Their hunches, they might be hypothesis. And what I need to do as a scientist is when I have an idea, I want to go out in the world and explore whether it's true. And better yet, when it's true, that means I might run some little experiments, I might do observations. I might interview people. Right. If I were going to go into sort of anthropologist mode. And the hope is that I'm going to discover sometimes that I was wrong and I'm going to discover information that challenges my beliefs, not just that affirms my beliefs.
And after all, I think that's what learning is about, right? Evolving our beliefs, not just validating what we already think is true.
And I'm actually starting to rethink this a little bit because I think the data, the data are really compelling.
You know, there's there's an incredible experiment with. Talian Founders', where some of them are randomly assigned, these are these are entrepreneurs who are pre revenue and there's a control group who basically takes a couple month entrepreneurship course. And then there's another group that gets the same education in how to start a business only. They're taught to think like scientists. And this is a little bit foreign for business people. Right. But they're encouraged to just say, look, you know what, your your strategy.
That's just a theory about a future state of the world and how your company can succeed in it.
Your customer interviews. Those are ways to develop hypotheses about where your theory would be successful.
And then you build a minimal, viable product that is an experiment to run. And then what data do you need to find out if your experiment worked or didn't? So the control group over the next year makes less than three hundred U.S. dollars in revenue on average for startup. The scientist group makes over 12000 U.S. dollars in that year on average per startup.
It's a staggering effect and it's driven by the fact that the scientists are more willing to pivot, that when they're encouraged to think like scientists, they say, you know what, my my strategy might have been bad.
My hypotheses might have been wrong.
I'm willing to change gears. And so I stopped there and said, wow, if we can teach business people to think more like scientists, if we can teach entrepreneurs to be a little bit more disciplined that way and experimental in their approach, that's actually good for their success and growth. And I was excited there. But I have a hunch that you know why I'm rethinking this now. What do you think is maybe missing from this perspective? That's interesting.
I wasn't thinking along those lines. I was I was agreeing with you now that you're asking. Oh, interesting. Yeah. Yeah, I was agreeing with you. I felt I felt like that makes a lot of sense.
What's missing from that? Interesting. I, I'd love to reflect on that for a moment. Give me a second.
Let me please do. Yeah. Let me think about what do I think is missing from that.
I was in agreement with you because I found in my life and even as a you know, even as simply as a content creator, which isn't what I am as it will be if I look at that part of my life. That rule holds so true is that if you just say, oh, I only want to make this and I'm going to put it out, people may never watch it or connected or communicate with it. Engage with it. So what is missing?
I wonder whether the the missing layer is the idea of. And I could be totally wrong, the only the only thing I can think of is the idea of discovery and then commitment, like when when do you actually finally commit rather than continually testing, testing, testing, testing, and that could just go on forever. That's the only thing that came to mind. And that may be way off. But no, that's fascinating. That's one of the a couple of things that have been on my list right now.
I guess one of to be more specific.
So, yeah, I think there's there's a risk that if you're a scientist, you're always rethinking, you're always questioning. You never believe that you found the truth. You've just ruled out a bunch of hypotheses that were wrong. But, you know, you only have a model and it's just an approximation of reality. I think the best antidote that I've come across to that is something that Bob Sutton has said for years, which is, in his view, an attitude of wisdom, is acting on the best information you have while constantly doubting what you know.
And I think a good scientist probably does that.
The other thing that that I I've been questioning a little bit is, is is the scientist mindset pushing people too much toward sort of formal quantitative inquiry, saying you can only arrive at knowledge through rigorous AB testing.
And I think you're you're such a great person to, you know, to toss this around with, because I think if I were to broaden maybe what I really mean is you want to be in the mindset of a scholar, somebody who has the humility and the curiosity to know what they don't know and always be searching for new insights. And of course, science is one of the tools to do that. But as you've discovered in your life, there are also more spiritual paths to that kind of inquiry.
And so I wonder what your take is on the scientists versus the scholar as a friend?
Yeah, it's a great question. I'm so glad, by the way, the direction in which you're taking this and I love rethinking this with you.
It's the first time I've done this out loud. So we'll see where it goes. It's great.
I really I try and approach my life and I haven't used these terms before is how I see myself. But in the way you're discussing it of like a spiritual scientist. And what I mean by that is I feel like to get things done, you have to have the scientific approach. But I love looking at insight with intuition or like data with the dynamic nature of spirituality. And I love trying to find that almost like the middle of the Venn diagram of where that collides, because that's where I find like real creativity found.
That's where I find, like, energies created.
It's almost like I never feel satisfied if I'm only seeking internally, if I don't test that externally or if we're just testing loads of stuff externally. But it's not inspired from within.
And so to me, I love the juxtaposition of of both of those elements, like the scholar and the scientist. And as you said, because I feel like too many of us and this is part of thinking, again, too many of us are trying to be just one thing. And and I often get the feedback of, like, Jay used to be a monk. How can you be in media now? Like, how can you be on social media?
Yeah, it usually goes the other direction. Right. And I just open my heart and I'm honest.
I'm literally just experimenting with what feels right to me. Like I it felt right to me to become a monk when I was 22 and I'm 33 now. And at this age it feels really right to be doing what I'm doing now. And I'm allowing myself to grow and evolve and not have a simplified identity. And so I feel that the scholar and the scientist together or the spiritual scientist together can be a really fascinating place for people to live.
Their Venn diagram is such an exciting thing when you're able to see the overlap. There's actually an example that jumped out at me when I was writing. I think again, we had a doctoral student, Danielle, Testing, who is now a professor at SUNY Buffalo, and Danielle decided she was going to rethink the importance of ambition and leadership. And she said, you know, I wonder if there's something to being a little bit reluctant as a leader to having some hesitations about taking the helm.
You might be concerned about the implications for work life balance. You might be daunted by the responsibility and worried about being wracked with guilt. You might just be concerned that you're not qualified. And she ended up it was it was hard to study this because there aren't that many people who rise to leadership roles that said, no, I don't want it. Keep me out of here. No, thank you.
But she ended up studying charge nurses in hospitals who get rotated and whether they seek the leadership role or not on every every so well, a certain number of shifts will go by and then it's basically your turn. And so she was able to measure how reluctant they felt about leading. And she found that a little bit of reluctance actually predicted higher leadership effectiveness as rated by the people they worked with. And that was in part because the reluctant leaders were more willing to empower the people around them.
They were less likely to assume I know all the answers. They were more likely to seek out second opinions. And I thought this was such a cool finding. And then we were talking about this and we started thinking through, OK, where else is this idea appeared? And it turns out that Plato had this insight. So ancient Greek wisdom was, you know, the person that we want to elect to a leadership role is the one who is very hesitant to be in charge.
And then Douglas Adams wrote about it in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Right. That the only person we should want as a president is the one who had no interest in doing the job. And that's that's one of those moments where the Venn diagram comes together and you say, OK, if one of the great ancient Greek philosophers, one of the great modern British sci fi writers and empirical evidence are converging, there might be something here. Yeah, yeah.
I love those examples. I'm so glad you shared those, because that is it's such a refreshing way of thinking. I think we always believe that the person who should get it is the person who puts themselves forward, the person who's confident about. It's you know, it has that kind of self belief that they were meant to be that person, and I'm guessing there's truth in that, too. Sometimes the best athletes in the field are people who believe that they were going to be the best athletes of all time.
But at the same time, when you look at leadership in business and even spiritual traditions, I mean, that's very true of that's very true of monk culture and looking at spiritual rankings that the person who went on to be the master, the master teacher, would rarely be the person who thought they were the master teacher, would always be almost like humility was the key to the door of of that person not feeling they were worthy. Allow them to be the best and caring leader.
We could use a lot more of that humility in the world right now. I think a lot of people write it off and they misunderstand humility as having low self-esteem or having just a low opinion of yourself. And if you go back to the Latin root of humility, it's actually being grounded, it means from the earth. Right. And so humility is about recognizing, hey, we're all human, we're fallible, we're flawed. We have limitations and weaknesses.
And I think if you see it that way, it becomes a source of strength, because if you can see your weaknesses more clearly, then you can figure out how to overcome them.
Yeah, and I think the challenge that I mean, you probably see this more working with organizations so deeply that we keep we reward what we reward, we repeat.
And so we're seeing people always rewarded for not being vulnerable or not being honest and transparent. And, you know, I remember looking at some, you know, basic studies on how men and women approach job specifications and job descriptions. And he was saying how women look at a job description be like, oh, I can only do twenty five percent of that. And whereas a man would looking at me like, oh, I can do over 50 percent of that.
And so it's like they feel confident based on what they can do, whereas a woman may not. And so what I was finding fascinating about that, the overall amplification in one's beliefs is almost rewarded in a job interview.
How do you start to reconstruct that foreign and even me as an employer and you work with some of the biggest employers on the planet, how do you reconstruct that in a healthy way so that it's you are hiring the right person eventually? Because there's there's a bit of that. There's a bit of a dichotomy there. There is.
I think the place I would start is to say we've got to stop confusing confidence for confidence. The fact that somebody believes they can do something is not a good proxy for their actual ability to do it. And in fact, you're familiar with the Dunning Kruger effect in psychology. The finding is that the people who have the lowest emotional intelligence scores and also the poorest logical, logical reasoning abilities are the most likely to overestimate their abilities.
And you could just say, OK, some of that's ego. But some of it is also if you have no idea what emotional intelligence looks like, then it's really hard for you to judge whether you have it or not. And the same thing is true for logical reasoning skills. And I think in a job interview context, the place I like to start is to ask people to to demonstrate what they're bringing to the table. Right. I'll give them a try out.
I'll let them do a little bit of an experiment to show me their skills. I also, though, have started betting on people who underestimate themselves a little bit. There was there was a great study at Google a few years back of engineers, and this speaks to the gender differences you were just highlighting. It turned out that when you looked at self ratings of of how great you are as an engineer on a one to five scale, in order for women to make it at Google, they had to give themselves a five.
They had to have this unassailable confidence to say, look, I know I'm one of the best engineers in the world. Otherwise they were just constantly feeling discouraged and probably facing more gender bias than than anybody should be. The most successful male engineers gave themselves a four, not a five. The fives were arrogant, like I'm the best. And they closed their minds to learning. And I think the fours were like the experts that you and I would both admire.
They didn't boast about how much they knew. They were constantly marveling at how much more they had to learn. And I would love to live in a world where everybody who celebrates as before is more successful. And I think we have a lot of work to do there to to remove some of those barriers that women face.
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That's a.m. dot com forward slash purpose. Sign up for your free trial today at A.N.. Dot com forward slash Puppis. Absolutely, and I'm really glad you shared that with me in a small way, I found even with my own teams, we always did a self-assessment and then a manager assessment of the individual.
And I always found that I always rated people, hire the people that I rated higher and they rated themselves lower, were always my top performers. So I actually saw them as better than they saw themselves. And that was such a beautiful thing where I'm like, well, I think your score is like 45 out of 50. And then, like, I see myself as like a 38 and I'm like, that's amazing.
You're hired. Yeah.
And and then the opposite was true also where I saw people as like a 30 or 35 and they saw themselves as a 50. And I was just like, OK, well, there's something wrong here.
And you and we care about that. We could probably add a few other explanations to that puzzle. One is Angela Duckworth has shown with grit that the grittiest people often rate themselves more in the four range than the five range because they have much higher standards for what counts as having real passion and perseverance. And they never feel like they made it. And then another factor is we had another student who's now an MIT professor, and she studied how often people have impostor thoughts feeling like, you know, other people might find out that I'm a fraud, that I'm not as good as, you know, as they think I am, that I don't deserve my successes.
And a lot of people see if you had a chronic imposter syndrome, they see that as debilitating. And it can be if you're just plagued by those doubts.
But the more ordinary impostor thoughts that we all feel occasionally, you know, gee, I wonder if I'm good enough or I wonder if I've lost it and I'm no longer at my peak.
People had those thoughts more often, actually were motivated to perform better. They didn't get complacent. They didn't fall victim to what's often called a fat cat syndrome. They said, you know what, I might not be that good. I've got to work that much harder. I've got to learn that much more in order to make it.
And that's why I know you talk about this, that imposter syndrome actually has some benefits, like it can actually be used. And I feel like now when we feel imposter syndrome, we often think of like, oh, I don't want to feel that way anymore. Summit, I would love for you to talk a bit more about more the benefits of imposter syndrome. I think that could really benefit our community because that's been a really hot topic, an important topic for us.
I know for me, imposter syndrome has always showed me my skills gap. So so I've never seen the imposter syndrome as an identity issue or issue of, like, my self-confidence or esteem. It showed me a skills gap. So if I feel I don't know how to do it was it was the first time I think I sat at a table with investors or whatever it was. And I was like, oh, I've never invested. I don't know what this means, like, you know, and all of a sudden you feel a sense of imposter syndrome.
And I realized it was just a skills gap every time. And I love using it as a signal of asking myself, is that a skill I want to learn? And sometimes it's like, no, I don't care. And sometimes it's like, yeah, I'd love to learn that. So tell us a bit more about the benefits of imposter syndrome.
I think you just framed that so beautifully. And I think it probably calls to mind a caveat before we go into how to how to build on that, which is the response you're describing, Bessemer finds, is more common for men than women when men experience those imposter thoughts. We've had the often the luxury of going through our lives with other people, assuming that we were competent. Right. So people hear you speak and they hear you how eloquent you are.
And they say, you know what, this guy clearly knows what he's doing. And so it doesn't end up really crushing your motivation when you question yourself. Whereas I think in a lot of places, women, you know, especially if they've been raised in a male dominated world or a less egalitarian or more paternalistic culture are more likely to have these ongoing fears about, well, am I worthy? Do people really think I can make it? And they haven't had these constant jolts of confidence that maybe even where unearned and a lot of cases.
And so it's that response is rare among women than men. But we see it across the board with all genders. And I think the starting point is to say, look, there is a difference between doubting yourself and doubting your skills. And that's why I love how you described your skills gap. Right. You're never saying I think I'm an idiot or I think I'm completely incapable of being a good entrepreneur or a great investor or a successful content creator.
You're just saying, I don't know if I'm there yet. I think I have work to do. I have knowledge to pick up. I have expertise to gain. And I think what that is, is basically just having confidence in yourself as a learner as opposed to as an expert or a master.
I love what you just said, the idea of having confidence in yourself as a learner and you develop that when you learn how to learn things like it's almost like that feeling of like I know that if I wanted to, I could learn this. How do we develop the ability to learn?
Because and unlearn, of course, is part of that, because I feel like that's what's missing.
We we don't believe that. Even if we had the time and even if we made the effort, that we'd quite get there because we've never been taught how to learn, we've never been taught how to pick something up and roll with it. Where do you start in that process?
Well, in the growth mindset research, there's a simple exercise that really seems to help people. And it's one that I've used in some of my own experiments and been surprised by how effective it is when you ask people to do is just reflect on a time when they started out terrible at something and then got halfway decent or even good. And you say, look, you know what you've been learning your whole life, whether you realize it or not, and if you analyze some of your own moments of progress and improvement, you're probably going to pick up patterns.
And so in some cases, where people notice then is OK. I learned through observation and, you know, I had a role model that I was able to watch closely or I found the right videos on YouTube and I was able to pick this up. Other people will say, you know what, those the pattern behind my moments of growth is I had a coach who is in my corner and who saw more potential in me than I saw in myself.
And so now I need to find that person to to raise my aspirations.
And then for other people, it's as simple as saying, you know what? When I learned best, when I was most motivated to grow was when I had a curiosity gap.
I really wanted to understand something and it almost hurt. I wanted to scratch that itch so badly and I couldn't stop myself from then going and digging deeply into that phenomenon. And I think there's obviously there are dozens and probably hundreds and thousands of possible stories that come out that way. But I think reflecting on your own moments of learning is probably the best way to figure out where your confidence in learning should come from. Yeah, for sure.
Because he could go back to his. I remember like if someone asked me what was the first time I felt like I was learning something, I was probably in grade four. I had the best teacher of all time. I'll never forget his name was Mr. Foxwell, and I'll never forget him because it was he just made learning so fun. And I was probably like, what? I don't know, eight, nine years old maybe. And so, you know, super young and not necessarily thinking about being a learner or thinking I'd be sitting talking to you about learning.
But I remember that really strongly. And I remember being with someone who made learning so infectious. And now if I think back to anything that I've learned in my life, coaching has been the number one part of it, like being around someone who is energy is contagious and infectious because they love this thing so much, whatever it may be. And I think that's what it's been. I haven't just been around experts. I've mean people who I've been around, lucky to be around people who love what they did and were very compassionate with it.
And I think those two qualities are so beautiful because when you learn just from an expert, it's different from learning from a compassionate expert like that has some very special personas. I feel it does.
And at the risk of of just rattling off a study that tells you something you already know, that pattern is is one of the clearest findings in the development of talent. There's a classic study by Benjamin Benjamin Bloom where he looked at people who are elite in all sorts of different fields. Oh, gee, you know, I mean, I can hear, OK, your video when you first hear about God.
All right. So there's a classic study by Benjamin Blim where he looked at people who had been a lead across a lot of different fields. He looked at Olympic swimmers, world class tennis players, scientists, musicians, chess players. And he wanted to know what in their upbringing was common. And he found that they were rarely the most talented and even even in their city when they were in, you know, when they were 12, 13 years old.
But one of the distinguishing factors that set them apart from their peers was they had a first teacher or a first coach who made learning fun, which is exactly what you're getting at, where, you know, all the deliberate practice, all the hard work that a lot of people would say, you know, it's a grind. It's not going to be pleasant. They they actually learn to experience that is rewarding and that motivated them to keep going. And it sounds like you had that experience, too.
I'm curious, what did what did Mr. Foxwell do that made learning so fun?
I think he was one of the first people that that introduced a lot of games at school as part of the learning process. So I can't remember what we're learning in grade four. But the idea of everything was game five. I didn't know what that word was then, but it was it was this opportunity where everything was everything was play. I think that was a big part of it. He was also extremely animated and charismatic. And he would he was providing a lot of energy in what he was sharing and teaching.
And and I'd say at the same time, he was able to change the classroom. He was one of the first teachers we had. And this is you know, I'm talking about if we're eight to like twenty five years ago, he was taking classrooms outdoors. He was, you know, taking the class in the playground. He was taking on the lawn. He wasn't trying to keep us cooped up in this in this building. And so I felt like he was he was quite a visionary for, you know, a small class in a small suburb in London.
Like he was he was really taking risks and trying new things, I guess.
He sounds a lot like this incredible teacher that I got to know while I was working on Think again, Ron Berger. Ron, of all the teachers I've met since since I finished school. He's probably the person I most regret not getting to be in a classroom with. He for years taught in rural Massachusetts in a tiny town where today has his nurse and his firefighter and his plumber are all his former students.
And Ron was interested in teaching students an ethic of excellence. And he's sort of a he's a do it yourself kind of guy who's very crafty. And he decided that he was going to do exactly what Mr. Foxwell did, which was he would take students out into the world to learn. And so when they were trying to learn about about gas and radon, they actually went and did measurements in local communities when they were trying to understand scientific classification and taxonomies of animals.
He had the students come up with their own taxonomies and, you know, some people, assorted animals by size, others did it by whether they had sharp teeth, others did it by color or habitat. And they realized, oh, there are all these interesting choices that scientists make and those are always open to being rethought. My favorite Ranneberger Practice is teaching students to recognize that rethinking and revising your work is actually an enjoyable opportunity as opposed to a chore.
And what he would do is he would send first graders even off to draw a house and then instead of saying draw a house, he says we're going to do four different versions of a house. And they accept that their first draft is just a work in progress. And a lot of people told him, don't do this because you're going to you're going to leave students frustrated. They're going to get discouraged very easily. How many first graders want to do the same drawing four times?
And he said, you have no idea. After they do the first draft, they can see problems in their drawings and they are so excited to rethink them and refine them. And his students will often then, after that experience, insist on doing seven or eight different drafts before they turn something in. And I was just blown away by this and I had our kids try it. And our our nine year old daughter and our six year old son were working on some art.
And I said, OK, you know what? You can draw whatever you want and then we're going to try a second and a third. And they just lit up. And then the next day they said, I'm going to do a few different drafts and I don't want you to frame the first one. And I think teaching that joy of rethinking is something we should all be lucky to be part of.
Yeah, because the truth is, most of us get it right on after a couple of goes anyway. And the idea that you had to get it right the first time is actually what that's actually what's created this whole issue is we've been trained to believe you had to get it right the first time and that was the only way that you got the reward and then you got the mark. And you're reminding me actually of of my art teacher.
So I loved art at a high school. And I was always very good at graphic design and and digital and digital art or collages as opposed to fine art.
I can I'm terrible at painting, but but I had that and my teacher would always, always ask me why I did that, like why I put that color next to that color or why I put this image next to this image. And if I couldn't explain to him coherently why I did that, he wouldn't want to grade that piece. So he wouldn't give me a bad grade.
He would just delay the grade. Wow. Until I could explain to him or come up with a real reason for why it was done. And it's so fascinating that when I think about where did I develop the mindset to act intentionally, it all came from him saying to me, why did you do that? Why did you do that? Why did you do that? And the idea of having to explain it and rethink why I did it was the only way that he was satisfied as opposed to how it looked or how it appeared.
That's very powerful, and I'm wondering if part of what happens then is, you know, he's going to ask you. And so you actually think through your choices up front the next time. Yeah. And then he would still do it. You talk about he would ask about it, but that would annoy me. Like, I would be really frustrated because someone else in the class would get a good grade and, you know, mine would be delayed grading and whatever.
And I'd be like, well, mine looks better. And, you know, you'd have all those thoughts and he would just keep challenging me. And I think that was such a it was such an important, important piece of teaching that that I you know, that that has stayed with me for so long. But I wanted to move forward in a few other topics that you talk about, the book, one of the big ones you talk about is charged, conflicted debate level conversations.
And these exist in the workplace. They exist at home. When I think about this, I think about relationships and marriage and in families where we constantly argue and I think that's one of the places where we do the least unlearning because we have such strong views about our family and our upbringing vs. our partners or other people in our family, that it's so hard to let go of it. Tell us a bit about what you learned about these, about depolarizing a child's conversation or a debate where you just keep arguing the same point every week, which is very common.
Yeah, I feel like this is happening everywhere now and the world has just gotten more polarized. One of one of the funnier studies I came across during the research for the book was that a third of women said that their pets were better listeners than their partners. I mean, I guess all your pet can really do is listen. So maybe, I don't know. Our cat has an advantage, right, because she can't talk back. But I think we talk a lot about the importance of listening.
I don't think that we actually really build skills in how to do it.
Well, my favorite my favorite approach to listening that I came across is this idea called motivational interviewing comes out of counseling psychology. And the premise is that it's very hard to change somebody else's mind, but it's more likely that you could help them find their own motivation to change their mind. And what that means is, let's say, you know, you've got an uncle who you think has a really hateful set of beliefs instead of telling him, here's what you should believe and prosecuting him for being wrong and preaching about why you're right.
What you should do is say, you know, I was really interested in how you landed at this set of years.
And I was curious about, you know, what the pros are of having that viewpoint. If you've ever experienced any negative consequences of that. And can you just walk me through that? Because I actually don't understand your perspective that well. And then you listen.
And what most people do when they're asked to talk about the pros and cons of some stance they have is they'll give you a little bit of both. And then your job is to hold up a mirror and help them see that they might be a little more ambivalent than they thought, that there's more nuance in their own views than they saw before. And then you might just elaborate on there are two kinds of talk that you're here. This one is called SustainX Talk, which is basically a bunch of reasons why they would they would stick with the status quo.
Change shock is here are some rationales for why you might want to make a shift in my beliefs or my behaviors. And when you hear change talk, the recommendation is not to manipulate people, not to try to influence them, but to say, you know, it actually sounds like you've considered revisiting this view. I was curious, you know, what do you think would be the consequences of making a shift? And what if you wanted to do that, what might your plan look like?
And I've tried this in a bunch of conversations recently, and it is shocking how much less friction it creates and how much more openness not only the other person brings, but how much openness it creates in me, because I'm not here to give you answers. I am here to learn from you. And I guess that's part of the scientists or scholar mindset in action.
Yeah, I, I, I completely value that because I feel that that's where you become a mediator in your own conversation. Yes. And you become an observer in your own conversation of rather than looking at it is like this is my ego versus this person's ego. And you talk a bit about I wanted you to mention this because I love this. You talk a bit about how it's better to bring up only one or two reasons for your viewpoint in a debate rather than providing a lot of reasons.
Tell us about that, because we often think like we have to reel off ten reasons why this person's wrong. Yeah, you are telling us to limit that. Tell us a bit about that. Yeah, I'm tempted to pile on too many studies to support this point, which I'll try to avoid. But I will say studies of expert negotiators compared to average negotiators show that the experts use fewer reasons on average because they're afraid of diluting their argument. And they know.
Look, Jeff, I give you nine reasons why my proposal is fair and compelling. And you don't like it.
Then you're just going to pick the least compelling reason and ignore the other eight. Whereas if I just give you my one or two strongest reasons, you're a lot more likely than to take them seriously. And I think the number of reasons obviously matters. There's also the question of how the reasons fit together. And I've done an experiment at a university a while back where we are trying to get non donors who'd never given a cent in their lives to their alma mater to think about making a small gift.
And we sent them letters. And the big test was, is it better to appeal to the more egoistic or the more altruistic reasons for giving? So some people are told, look, alumni say giving feels good. Others are told alumni really appreciate the opportunity to do good through giving. And we found that both reasons were equally effective. We were able to get over over six percent of alums who had never given often in 30, 40, 50 years to to write a check, which was exciting.
Then we said, all right, two reasons are better than one, let's put them together. And the giving rate dropped in half.
There was a little bit of a conflict between, hey, this is going to make you feel good and, hey, this is going to do good and help a lot of people. And when we gave these conflicting or sort of mixed reasons, people were more likely to realize that a persuasive attempt was happening. And they put their guard up and they said, wait a minute, you can't influence me. And I think that that just strengthens the case to say, look, you want to be careful not to dilute your argument.
You also want to make sure there's some clarity and consistency in the perspective you're bringing to the table.
I love that. And I would say that for anyone who's listening or watching, that's a great take away, because I feel like when we're trying to create change, we try and give way too many reasons and way too many ideas and options. And and actually, when when you really believe something is an issue and there's a challenge and you just speak about it with passion and empathy and you focus in, the other person actually gets more clarity. So I often find, like when you're talking to someone, the reason it's hard for them to listen is because you're making it harder for them to listen by by speaking about far too many things when actually most of our minds can't focus on more than three things.
I guess that bringing up any more than the two or three you suggested just goes over people's heads and they don't actually understand what you're trying to say.
Yeah, it's it's amazing how many times I have to relearn that you cannot bully people into agreeing with you. They'll either fight or they'll choose flight. And I think if if you've if you have to watch out for preacher mode, my my biggest challenge is prosecutor mode. I think there's just there's something about my personality, my values and also my training as a social scientist that says if somebody believes something that's inconsistent with rigorous evidence, I feel like it's my responsibility to try to correct their view.
And I can't remember the last time that went well.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, that's why those those three, the preacher, the prosecutor and the politician is such great reminders. Any time we feel we've got one of those hats on, we get we can politely take it off and and go back to being the scientist. And and that's the one that gives you so much joy in the long term. You learn more about your partner, you learn more about your colleagues. You you learn more about and and when you learn more about someone, you know how to approach them every time.
And whereas when you don't learn about them, you approach them in the same way every time and you get the same result.
I think there's there's so much truth to that. And in fact, I've seen it recently and that I've started telling people that, you know, I've I've increasingly noticed myself. This is a great example of self persuasion. Right. I wrote a whole book about how we need to watch out for slipping into these other mindsets. And I have a habit of going into prosecutor mode when I'm exploring ideas. And if somebody believes one thing, the way that I really try to understand it is I argue the exact opposite.
And I know that drives people crazy sometimes. So I started telling people, you know, occasionally and then have to stop and say, OK, more often than not, when I'm in a disagreement, I become a prosecutor. And if you ever catch me doing that, please feel free to call me out. And I've had people do it.
I've also had some early readers of the book now say, hey, you know, that that lawyer thing that you wrote about, you're doing it right now. And it's a great it's a great sort of check yourself moment to say, OK, I just caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror. I do not like the person who's staring back at me right now. That's not who I want to be.
I love that. Adam. Adam, we end every episode of On Purpose, as you know, with a segment called The Final Five. Would you have to answer in one word to one sentence maximum?
This is your final five.
Are you ready? I'm ready. Let's start with this question.
What's something you wish you had rethought earlier? I decided not to study abroad, and I wish I had read that. What's the time when you rethought something where you realized your original thought was actually right?
I actually the title for Think Again was an example I miss I the title clicked for me one day.
Think again the power of knowing what you don't know. I love it. That's the book I want to write. And then I gave an early draft to my challenge network, the group of readers who brought a lot of criticism and some of them said, well, don't you want a different title?
Like what if what if the book was called I Might Be Wrong or Unlearning? And I rethought it a bunch and I said, well, I'm actually pretty excited about this title.
And I think they're really novel and compelling. And every time I explain the book to people, there was just something sticky about saying, you know, whatever you think about that, you might want to think again. And I realized that's a phrase I use all the time and it captures something that I stand for and I couldn't let it go.
I love it. I love think again. I think it's a great title. And it's interesting. I went through the same thing with things like a monk. So I had pretty much every publisher and imprint that I went to meet.
Tell me they didn't think the book should be called Think Like a Monk. Are you serious? That is one of the best potatoes I have ever seen. No, seriously, honestly. And I was so insecure about it for a long time before even up until the day before we launched it, because I'd heard that from like I met 17 and and I heard that from like 14 to 15 of the imprint's y that they believe that we should change the title.
They were just like Bluejay, who wants to be a monk. What does it mean to people? And I and I was struggling with alternatives because this was the only true thing that the book was trying to do. And and I felt was was my unique offering in the world that I'm I'm trying to pass along. And so, so hard and and, you know, I'm glad that we stuck with it, but I've rethought it a million times, you know, so it was it was very I was very scared up until the day we got, like ResultSet and all the rest of it.
I was so scared.
Well, it sounds like the imprint's you met you met with.
We're not your target audience, but I actually think it's an ingenious title for the exact reason that they're highlighting, which is I don't think most people want to be monks, but we all aspire to have the wisdom and also the equanimity that that you model. And so the idea that I could even if I don't have the patience or the discipline to immerse myself in a spiritual tradition like that, then I could learn to think more like one that's that's right at my fingertips.
Well, you're you're way out of you're always going to be my target audience from now on. No, I love that title. I think that anybody who told you to rethink it clearly should rethink their role in titling books. I love that.
Well, thank you for that. All right. Question number three, we've been spending so long and this is great, but I love it. Sorry. No, no, no, it's great. Question number three is what's the worst piece of advice you've ever received?
The worst piece of advice that I ever received was not to give credit to undergraduate co-authors on a paper I was writing because they were just research assistants and everyone has them. Wow. Interesting that that's a great one. Thank you for sharing that. What's the worst piece of advice you've ever given someone?
A piece of advice I've ever given someone is probably don't go back to school. Oh, interesting.
OK, I should talk to you about that. I've been thinking of going back to school, so it's so interesting for what I. So that's that's a that's a big question, which I could go into all the there's like three different areas that I'm fascinated by and I think I don't know enough. Again, I don't know enough about what I would end up studying if I end up choosing any of the three, you know, broad terms. Neurosciences is definitely one of them.
I'm fascinated by my passions always been defined by the juxtaposition of the intersection between timeless wisdom and modern science. And so for me, I'm always trying to find, like I love reading studies about how meditation impacts the brain, how a lot of my old monk practices affect the brain. And so neuroscience is definitely one of the big ones. I'm behavioral economics. Economics books have just been my my passion forever. And so anything around human behavior. But but wanting to know what the study is, I'm still exploring it.
But I shared it with you prematurely. But it's definitely been something I've been considering. So it's good to hear you say that. So I like that. I like that this is a longer conversation. But when you have a moment, look up. A colleague of mine named Michael Platt. He's he's an economic neuroscientist, and he basically he uses brain imaging to understand behavioral economics, which there are a few others like him, and I wonder if that's a synthesis of your interests.
Oh, that's great. Well, thank you for sharing. I will definitely pick your brain properly when when we please do. I look forward to that. Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. And fifth and final question, what is something that you don't know about yet that you're fascinated to learn about?
This is such a long list. I think one one thing that is just a total I'll give you a macro and a micro one and you can pick on the micro side. I really want to know why it is that you can't tickle yourself. That's genius.
I everyone's trying it right now at home, right? Like everyone.
I mean, they're all I've I've I've asked neuroscientists, I've run Google searches cannot get to the bottom of this one.
So that's the next book. Tickle Tickle something. Yeah. Maybe the best. I'm not sure I'm the first to write that book, but I definitely want to read it. The best answer I heard was you can't surprise yourself. And, you know, if you go to tickle yourself, your brain already knows it's going to happen. And it took me about four seconds to debunk that because I said, you know what I'm going to tell you right now.
Did you still laugh, you would have, right, and so even if you know it's coming, it doesn't seem to matter anyway that that's one thing I would love to understand better.
So you do it, McCrohan, to tell us. I love that.
That's a great that it's a bigger picture. I think one of the things I'm curious about is how we how we can establish some common ground across very partisan divides. For example, you know, take any political leader that you think is great or terrible today. The moment that you try to point out flaws in their character or shortcomings in their competence, people accuse you of being partisan. And I would like to have an independent standard where we say, look, this is what we mean by leadership skill.
This is how we judge values so that we could try to get on the same page.
I love that. And I hope you're going to create what that is. And then we start using that.
I think that's such a. Such a not just noble approach, but it's what's needed right now, the idea to look at things objectively without sentimentality, without attachment, without, you know, to be really approach something and go, well, what is best for everyone and to approach conversations like that in that in a way driven through data but but also through intuition, that would be amazing. So I think it would be fun. It is have to ask you before we wrap, one thing that I'm adding to my list as I as I do the book tour is I would love to know something you think that I should be rethinking.
Oh, OK. That's that's that's fascinating. What do I think you should be rethinking? This is hard. Do you know why this is hard? Because I agree with you on so many things. Well, that's a mistake that you need to rethink.
Look, I've read I've read all your books and I find them so fascinating and I agree with you so much that I think.
I don't know. This is interesting and it's because I don't know this about you, so so you may this may open up a whole nother conversation because you're so open to so many things. I would love to know how open or how much you've allowed spiritual thought to match your scientist's mind into your life, because I think someone who's as open as you and maybe you already have in your life, you have already done that.
And that's why you are who you are.
But now you just hit the bull's eye.
I would be fascinated because I just think that your I think your thoughts are already so spiritually evolved. And if that's what you've got from studying organizational psychology and behavior, then I'm fascinated to see what you were going to achieve with with that added to it. So, yeah, that would be my my addition. Thank you.
You nailed it. It's a it's a gaping hole in my learning and my and my really in my training too. Right. Which is any time I came across spiritual ideas I would either, you know, look for evidence or I would say, well how do you know? And it's only more recently that I've recognized how many of the fundamental principles of psychology that have resonated with me do have these roots in very ancient religious traditions and philosophical wisdom. And I think I have a lot to learn on that front now.
I love that you're extremely humble, modest and kind. And so I love all the time we ever get to spend together at home.
I recommend to everyone to please go and grab a copy of the book. Think again.
You will not regret it. I do believe that it's a skill that everyone needs right now and we need desperately in our careers, relationships, family, the world leaders. It's such a big need and I'm so glad that you're helping us think again. So, Adam, thank you so much. Is there anything else you want to share that you like? Jay have to share this with? You haven't let me share it. I'm open to that. So now, Jay, this is just been such a thrill.
I will say, since you raised a politician, prosecutor, a preacher scientist, I put together a little questionnaire that people could take to figure out where they stand and which of those modes they fall into most often. So if anybody wants to take it, it's just that Adam Grant dognapper. Oh, I love that.
Yeah, definitely. I love finding out more about myself. So that's great. Adam Grant, dot net. If you want to go and figure out which of the prosecutor, preacher, politician or scientist you are. So please go and we'll put that in the show notes as well.
Adam, thank you so much for tuning in and and so grateful to spend this time with you as always and excited for lunch or dinner next time. I can't wait. Thank you so much for having me, Jay. This is this is really fun. Thanks, Adam. Hey, everyone, thank you so much for listening to on purpose, and I really hope you enjoyed that conversation with Adam. And like I said at the beginning, it's your lucky day because there is a whole other conversation waiting for you.
Thank you all. And enjoy part two.
Hey, everyone, welcome back to you on purpose to number one health podcast in the world. Thanks to each and every single one of you that come to listen, learn and grow. It means the world to me that we have kept this incredible community throughout the pandemic lock lockdown when we continue to learn, trying to expand our minds and get the information and knowledge that can help us move forward in our lives. Now, today's guest is someone that I have been a fan of for a long time.
His books are absolutely incredible. I've heard speak digitally, never physically, digitally, and it's been an absolute joy. I'm so grateful to welcome to on purpose none other than Adam Grant. Now, Adam has been Wharton's top rated professor for seven straight years as an organized psychologist. He's a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning and live more generous and creative lives, all values that I absolutely love. And he has been recognized as one of the world's 10 most influential management thinkers and Fortune's 40 under 40.
He's the author of four New York Times best selling books that have sold over two million copies and translated into 35 languages. Give and take originals Option B and Power Moves. His books have been named among the year's best by Amazon, Apple and the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal. Adam is the host of WorkLife, a chart topping Ted original podcast, which I really love and want you all to tune into his TED talks and original thinkers and give us and take us have interviewed more than 20 million times his speaking consulting clients include Google, the NBA, Bridgewater and the Gates Foundation, and he writes on work and psychology for The New York Times.
Please welcome with a very warm and loving welcome to On Purpose, Adam Grant. Adam, thank you for doing this.
Don't take me yet, Jane. We'll see how this goes, but thank you for the overly generous. Introduction, I can promise you, we're going downhill from here. I love it. I've been following you. I think I'm trying to remember which of the first book I read, I think I read, give and take, is give and take story and then originals. And then I did a bit of option B and I need to grab power moves.
But like I said, I've really followed your work for quite a while and have just been deeply impressed by how you've spoken about so many themes through your research that I feel is so tied into my life's work and what I'm really focused on. So this is a treat for me. And I want to start off by asking you a question maybe that you don't give us so much. I find it very interesting that you are actually a diva or you used to be a diver, and I wanted to know if it's still something you do and where that even stems from.
Yeah, well, I'm long retired, let's be clear, I think it was the summer before high school when I was playing video games all day and my mom told me I had to get out and get some fresh air. So we went to a local pool and I saw one of the lifeguards on break doing these amazing flips and twists. And I said, I have to learn how to do that. Never mind that I walk like Frankenstein. I was afraid of heights and I could hardly jump at all.
But I basically became obsessed with diving and spent the next six years kind of living and breathing it. And I retired. Gosh, I retired about 20 years ago. And last summer I got back in the pool for the first time and. And did. Some real diets, which was a good reminder that it's not always true, that it's just like riding a bike. And what was what was your retirement Divx worth? It was the last time you ever did a proud moment.
Oh, you know, the funny thing is I retired, I retired between seasons, so I didn't even have a retirement date, but if I did, I was I was learning a friend three and a half on three meter, which is just more flips than any person should do before hitting the water.
And I crashed a few times and then said, OK, I feel like I've exceeded the expectations I had for myself as an. I believe and I'm nowhere near talented enough to make the Olympics, so it's time to move on. I love that I think there's a bit of break through when you're speaking to me, I don't if that's because of the video or I don't know if we did try with a video to disappear, but if there's a delay on my side, I'm just waiting.
So just clarifying that and we can edit that out. But I've also read that you're a big movie guy. I'm massively into movies. I wanted to ask you, what's been a movie that impacted you the most or has almost would you say embodies some of your work, like give it give and take with a movie? What would be a movie that would represent the original was a movie. What would be the movie to represent it?
So I've never been asked this before. It's such an interesting question. I think if give and take was a movie, I would have to be either love actually or pay it forward. That's awesome.
I love, love hearing those answers around the book. One of the things I really want to dive in with you is you you have a great way of communicating often tough messages or ideas. And there's a quote by Albert Einstein that definitely I try and aspire to live towards where he said that if you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it well enough. And and that's always been a big bedrock of how I try and think and work and the content that I try and create.
But, you know, you've been ranked Wharton's number one professor for seven years straight, which is insane. By the way. What is it that has made your teaching style so attractive or what have you built to try and not get that accolade? Because I know that's not your goal, but but what is it about your teaching style that you've worked on or developed or learned along the way? That's helpful for teachers, guide speakers, leaders, communicators.
I might be the worst person to answer that question. I've never sat in my classroom, so I'm not I'm not exactly sure. But I have I've collected a lot of feedback from students, especially early on when I was struggling a lot in the classroom and tried to figure out when when there are sessions that really work, what what's behind them.
And I think the thing that I love doing most in the classroom is bringing in the element of surprise. When I was when I was a teenager, I used to perform as a magician and there was something incredibly exciting and curiosity provoking about setting up an expectation that a trick was going to go one way and then boom, something completely different happens. And that was very much what hooked me in psychology early on, was that idea that I thought I thought one thing was going to be true.
And then I discovered the opposite was actually true. And so I think a lot of the time that I spent in the classroom is trying to challenge conventional wisdom and figure out, OK, what are the assumptions that my students hold about how to build a fulfilling career, how to make wise decisions, how to lead effectively and then turn those upside down. And I think that that immediately creates a sense of intrigue, as if, you know, hey, maybe I didn't know everything I thought I needed to know in order to be successful.
Absolutely great odds answer more and more commonalities. I love I love David Blaine and Derren Brown. I think that genius and I was fortunate enough to see Darren Brown. This is when he was he's now on Broadway while he was on Broadway, but he was testing his show, The Secret. I got to be one of the test events that he did, and he was a genius. I don't know if you follow either of them, but I love the idea of magic and teaching and surprise.
What's, I guess with that question? What's one of the things that you think seeing as you're trying to teach to surprise and that's what fascinates you in psychology? What lesson or teaching have you come across that has surprised you the most in your journey when you were just like that was something that I had no idea I was going to be the case. You know, I think one of the defining surprises, at least in my career, was when I started to write give and take, I spent about a decade studying generosity and success at work, and I thought I understood it pretty well.
I assume you spend 10 years studying a problem and you have a pretty good handle on it. And I remember I was I was pitching it was my book proposal. I went around to meet with a bunch of different editors and have them react to the ideas. And one of them just asked me a question that that really got me questioning my own assumptions. And I went back and reanalyzed a bunch of my own data. And I discovered something that I had not noticed in a full 10 years.
So as you know, I was really interested in the dynamics of giving, taking and matching where givers and the people who are always asking, hey, what could I do for you, takers or the opposite, they want to know what what can you do for me? And most of us don't want to be too selfish or too generous. So we end up being matters and we say, look, I'll do something for you if you do something for me.
And the paradox that I found in my data when studying the productivity of engineers, the grades of medical students and the revenue of salespeople was that the givers were consistently the worst performers because they were they were constantly sacrificing themselves themselves for other people. And sometimes they were getting burned and taken advantage of by takers as well. And then I found that the givers were also overrepresented among the best performers, not just the worst performers. And it was such an eye opening discovery to say, hey, this idea of trying to help others with no strings attached that could actually hold your career back or it could accelerate it.
And we've got to understand how to blend success and generosity.
Yeah, I'm so glad you raised that one, because I had that question down here. I really wanted to ask you that. Like, you know, I think that that is such a remarkable thing because sometimes we hear these cliches or if they're not cliches, we hear these repeated statements where it's like, oh, if you're a giver or you serve and make a difference and you'll be successful. And if you always once and you found, obviously, from what you've just said, is that actually they were the most successful but also the least successful.
What was the pattern of doing it in a successful way if there was one? What did you find to be that insight?
Yeah, so I think there's a there's a short term, long term distinction that really matters here. Right. Taking is is often effective in the short run, but in the long run, ends up being too transactional. It burns a lot of bridges, you know, it sort of destroys relationships and reputations. And so if you just stretch out the time horizon long enough, a lot of givers who struggled early on would over time discover, OK, I build a lot of trust, I am able to connect what I do to a really great sense of purpose that's bigger than me and that's motivating I to learn a lot through solving other people's problems.
But even even if you look at the long term, there were still a lot of givers who failed, along with those who succeeded. And I think the big differences broke down to the choices they made around who they helped, when they helped and how they helped. So the field givers would basically help all the people all the time with all the requests. And that that's kind of a recipe for saying, OK, look, you know, no good deed goes unpunished, right?
You get a reputation for being helpful and and also pretty competent. And then pretty soon everyone wants some. Successful would be a first step if you missed your reputation of selfish behavior, if you might be a taker. I'm not going to be as generous with you as I am if you're a giver or a manager. And I'm also going to make sure I like time to get my own work done so that I'm able to advance my own goals and priorities and take care of my own well-being, not just help other people.
And I'm going to try to give in ways that I enjoy, excel at so that when I do help, it's energizing and in some ways makes a unique contribution as opposed to being distracting and exhausting. And so I think just just recognizing that every time you say no, that's an opportunity to say yes, where you can make more of a difference. That seems to be something that really helps givers. I love them.
I'm so glad we're diving into this topic because I think so much of my community, my audience often has that question of like, I'm so empathetic and I'm giving my time and this person is invaluable or they misuse it. And I love what you said there. It's like actually when you give in a way that you enjoy and you give in a way that empowers you and feels nourishing to you, you actually end up having more of an impact on that person.
I guess we all get trapped in. And I wonder if you've done any of this. We all get so much, we get so trapped in this feeling of guilt and kind of judging ourselves when we think people think we might not be good people or we think people think that we're not generous people. And I feel like so much of it becomes so heavy and mental around what we think people think of us. What have you found in that regard?
How do you start to untie that knot almost of getting lost? And just like I want to be perceived as generous or helpful or useful or likeable. Well, first of all, I don't think there's anything wrong with caring about your image. I think if we don't care at all what other people think of us, then it's pretty easy to slip into being a taker. I think when when we run into trouble is when concern for our reputation outweighs concern for the people we're trying to help.
And so ideally, the primary motivation for saying at and trying to support somebody else is you believe in their potential and you care about their well-being and their success. And then secondarily, you know what? If if you think that's going to strengthen your relationship or they're going to think that that you're a kind giving person, that's OK. Right. That's that's actually going to then affirm your identity and your value system. And I think one thing we have to do, I found this over and over again when I've studied people across professions, is the most sustainable giving comes out of a combination of self concern and other concern.
So we don't want to be totally selfless. It's not to say that I want to help anyone because I want something back, but I want to make sure when I'm helping other people, I'm not depleting my own reserves. And so I think just just saying, look, it's OK to want to both do good and look good. Just make sure what's what's in the windshield in front of you is the doing good. And then every once in a while you can check the rearview mirror and ask, OK, this look horrible.
Yeah, I think that's really that's a really refreshing way of looking at it. You know, that's really elevating way of looking at it. I think sometimes we get lost in this, trying to chase this artificial mindset of I don't care what anyone thinks of me. And that's not very true for ninety nine point nine percent of us. I mean, I don't know anyone who doesn't completely care of how someone perceives them and how they are perceived. And you're so right that it's OK to want to do good and look good.
And I love that principle. You you shared with us have like not making looking good, overweighting, doing good. And, you know, you don't want it to outweigh that that reputational impact. Where where are you seeing that? Where are you seeing the biggest mistakes we made in in starting that journey? Sometimes we feel we don't have a lot to give. And I think a lot of people feel like this for a lot of their life. They're like, well, what do I give?
I have nothing to give. I don't have money. I don't have time. I don't have skills. I don't have confidence. And so they naturally default to being takers. How does that journey start for someone who's sitting and watching and listening to say like, OK, Adam, you're your best selling author. Jay, you got this podcast like that, but I'm just struggling to get started. What do I give Outweight? How do I build that connection with people?
This is what I hear all the time from my students. And early on when I was first starting to teach, I'd have these students come into office hours and they'd say, look, you know, my goal is to have the most successful career I can for the next thirty five years. So then I have enough to start giving back. And that just fell backward to me because the people that had achieved success, who I admired the most, started giving for long before they had accomplished something that was noteworthy.
And then to your question, well, what what then can I give before I succeeded? And I actually think we all have a lot to give. So let me throw out a few ideas. The first one is an entrepreneur named Adam Rifkin taught me that one of the most effective things we can all do is a five minute favor, just finding a small way to add value to other people's lives. And if you break down the kinds of five minute favorites that people love to do, listening counts as one helping other people feel seen or heard, valued and appreciated, giving people a quick bit of feedback on something they're working on, just providing a reaction, even if you're not an expert making an introduction between two people that you think could benefit from knowing each other but currently are not connected.
Oh, really simple things we can do that matter a lot to other people, but cost us relatively little. I think that's the place that I would start personally.
Yeah, I think those are great, great answers. And I'm glad that people have asked you that a million times before because it's fascinating to me. So when I was eighteen, which was the first time I interact with the monk, the monk was speaking about selfless service and talking about how the goal of life was to use our skills in the service of others. And that message really attracted me when I was 18 years old, and it really became a big part of why I made the decisions I ended up choosing to do.
And I remember just a couple of years ago when I was giving a corporate talk and I remember one of the executives coming up to me afterwards and they were just like, how old were you when you realized that service was the goal? And I was like, well, realized probably much later on. But I understood the point at age 18, although realization will take a lifetime. But I started to practice it and he was like the first time I felt that life was beyond me was when I had my first child.
And he was saying he was like thirty five, thirty six years old when he had his first child and he was just explaining that that goal of service beyond. Tell me about the difference between serving your family or serving people, you know, and.
Seven people you don't know, I'm intrigued by that extension and expansion, and if you've done any work in that space of looking at both not just satisfaction, but also impact and growth and where that comes from. Yeah, this is this has been one of my favorite questions to think about in organizational psychology, I was at actually it was it was part of my own career dilemma. I wanted to have a career where I could I could have a positive impact on other people.
And I had no idea what line of work was was going to fulfill that goal. I knew I knew I didn't want to be a doctor, even though that was a very high impact profession because blood made me squeamish and biology was not my strong suit. And then I thought about, OK, I'd fallen in love with psychology and maybe I should be a psychologist, but it felt kind of limiting to only help one person at a time. And I wanted to try to have a broader impact.
And so I went to and gather data from over thirty thousand people across industries and countries. And I looked at what kind of impact they felt they were having through their work. Was it on people they knew was on strangers? And then what did that mean for their ultimate sense of satisfaction? And it was as clear pattern as I've ever seen as a social scientist. It was much more powerful from a purpose standpoint to help a few people that, you know, in really significant and lasting ways than it was to touch millions of people in ways that might be much more trivial or forgettable.
And I think that's something that a lot of us get backward, especially when we're young. Right. To come in and say, OK, making a difference is all about the number of people that I reach as opposed to saying no, it's actually how much your your work counts in the lives of the people that you know, personally and I'm curious, you've you had this journey of starting out very, very local in your impact as a book and now reaching millions and millions of people with your podcast and your videos.
So do you still experience that, that person to person impact, or is it harder to see that today?
You out of that is such a good question. And it's it's something actually that. So I have a group of I have a small group of people that I still teach meditation to weekly. And this is a group there's a new group of people I have one back in London where I'm born and raised. And I also have a group of people here locally in L.A. We haven't been getting together because of the pandemic. We've been doing it digitally and literally it's just like 15 people that show up.
And it's not that they are more important or less important than anyone. It's just a group of people who are really enthusiastic about learning meditation in a deep way and allow me to share the depth of what I've learned and experienced. And and I always say to them every week, I'm like, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. Like they're really grateful. I'm making time that. But you make a difference. No, you don't get it.
Like, this is so fulfilling because I get to speak from the heart completely, openly about anything and everything that I've learned in my journey. And not to say that I don't find my podcasts and videos fulfilling. Of course I do. I'm so grateful to have these platforms. But but I agree with the point that you're making that from a personal satisfaction for not just the point, the research that you've done, that the personal satisfaction I gain from having a deep, meaningful exchange with a few people definitely outweighs reading a million comments or whatever it may be, because because there's just such a such a story.
There's just such an intimacy with that journey. And seeing someone progressed from like stage one, stage two to stage three, there's so much joy in that. So that's yeah, that's my answer. And I wasn't expecting to answer that question, but that's that's the first thing that came to my mind.
Yeah. That I mean, that makes a ton of sense to me. It's it's something I was I was first studying when I was in grad school, just doing experiments to say, look, if you have a job that benefits anyone, it's one thing to know that intellectually, it's another thing to come face to face with that person and see the impact that you make in their life. And I've done some experiments where I got people in call centers who are raising money for universities just to meet one scholarship student who benefited from their work.
And afterward, just that five minute face to face interaction with that one person who's been touched by the work, they do dramatically increase their their efforts. And they spent about one hundred forty two percent more weekly time on the phone and then raised one hundred and seventy one percent more money just from that one five five minute face to face connection. And I was stunned by that. And I think what it what it left me thinking is a lot of us do work that matters, but we don't really get to see the end result.
And it's worth reflecting every once in a while on. But he will be worse off. God didn't exist, so if you weren't doing your work, who would be harmed or who would be helpless? And then those people, those people are the meaning and purpose of your work. And the more you know about them and the more connected you are to them, the greater sense of purpose that you experienced day to day. Yeah, absolutely.
And I love how real that is. Like anyone and everyone right now can do that. And I know people who during the pandemic were delivering groceries to their next door neighbor because their neighbor had a young child who was elderly or what. I know people that were teaching their friend's kids English while they told their friends kids math because because the parents were doctors and they could be doing home schooling. At the time, there were just so many beautiful exchanges and moments where people were just impacting the people around them.
And and I and I think there's so much greatness in that because it's just accessible to everyone. Like no one no one has to suddenly build a brand or build a company or, you know, all the other things that we think we have to do to feel satisfied and connected. I guess. How does it work with criticism at home? Because I think in the same way, how do you understand that you work with incredibly influential people and think as you go through a lot of stress and pressure, what do you find with the same with stress and pressure?
Like is it also that an intimate pain and exchanges also outweighs the pain of negative comments or negative press? And all of that is, are you seeing that in the other spectrum?
That's a great question, I think. I think the jury's still out on that one. I would say one thing we know is emotionally bad tends to be stronger than good. So it often will take three doses of praise to equal the emotional force of one piece of criticism. My general sense is that criticism from strangers can hurt more and a lot of ways because it comes completely outside the context of a relationship and that has some care built into it. But it can also hurt a lot less because you can say, I don't care what those strangers think of me and I think the same.
The reverse can be true for criticism that comes up close. I do find it really interesting that both in work relationships and in friendships, a lot of people will say, you know, the closer the relationship, the harder it is for me to criticize people. And to me, that means the relationship is is not as close as it could be, because I think in a in a truly trusting relationship, your intentions are so well understood by the other person that whether you say something that might be praise or criticism, they immediately know that you're offering it to try to help them.
And so I think, you know, for a lot of us, that means getting a little more comfortable, having uncomfortable conversations. It means sort of previewing a psychologist often recommend our criticism by saying, look, I'm about to give you these comments because I have very high expectations of you and I'm confident you can reach the. Yeah, no, no, I think that's yeah, that's a that's a great way of looking at it and I think for so many people.
That it is it's really tough to to imagine I started to realize that when I started to work with people who, you know, hear from people who perform in front of hundreds of thousands of people. And when I was working with them as a coach or teaching meditation or whatever it may have been, and I started to realize just how much, you know, even chemically what's happening in the brain when you are adored by millions. And then all of a sudden the next day you are, you know, demonized by hundreds of thousands or whatever it may be.
And it's it's just like it is it is such an extreme that most of the planet doesn't get to experience that. It's really hard to comprehend and understand because for a long time, I think before I was in touch with that, I used to to call. Yeah, but people are rich, they'll get over it or you know, people are people are people are rich, they have beautiful homes, they're beautiful partners.
They'll get over it. But we realize that that doesn't substitute either. And have you seen that like in your work about how like your bank balance or your access to a network, whatever, that doesn't substitute the emotional pain that comes with any of that?
No, it doesn't. In some cases, it helps a little bit because it feels like you don't have all your eggs in one basket. And even even if there are a few million people like me over here, I've got a bunch of other fans to lean back on.
Yeah. You don't have a lot of the hardships that face is, I think is a common origin, if you look at the data, there's also, though, some really interesting evidence. This is Jennifer Castlebar and her colleagues showing that the more status you have, the more it hurts to lose it. If you're it's like it's like falling off a one foot ledge versus a 30 foot roof. There's a big difference there. It hurts a lot more to fall from from a serious high than it does to to fall when you've hardly climbed at all.
And so I think that, you know, that just the distance of the drop is significant for a lot of people. And then there's also the fact that you've worked really hard to earn the status that you have and so you become more attached to it. It becomes more a part of your identity and it maybe hurts you a little more viscerally. The most helpful thing I've seen on this is I did a podcast episode a couple of years ago on how to love criticism, where I went inside with with Ray D'Alessio at Bridgewater and a bunch of his colleagues.
And I've been studying them for years and all the things that I learned about how to take criticism. I think the best insight came from Doug Stone and Sheila King, who are conflict mediators. And they said, look, you need every time somebody criticizes you, you need to give yourself a second score, which is basically a score for how you took the criticism. So let's say you're in school and somebody gives you a D minus on a paper.
You can't change the D minus. It's already been given. The best thing you can do is to try to get an A plus for how well you took the device.
And I think that every time I get a piece of criticism or I'm talking to somebody who's trying to to get a little bit less defensive, it's to say, look, the criticism is already out there. Whatever people think of you or your work, you're probably not going to say a whole lot that's going to change it. And the more you try to change it, the more defensive you're going to look. So instead, why don't you just try to ace the response to the criticism?
I love that insight.
What a brilliant insight. And and what I love about it is that that's so much more about changing your own perception of yourself rather than trying to change someone else's viewpoint that they have of you, which is usually a reaction to criticism or feedback, is how do I now change to be perceived differently as opposed to change my own perception of myself, which which often is what kind of holds us back from trying new things out or, you know, opening ourselves up to failure or making mistakes.
That's a great insight. That's that's huge. I love that one. And Ray was a great guest on the podcast. And of course, I'm glad glad to hear that.
And it's it's interesting to see how people have mastered everything that I forgot the names of the two mediators that you mentioned, the conflict mediators. But it's interesting to see how there are so many deeper insights when we think of giving feedback that one that is truly, truly unique. One thing I'm thinking about, though, is let's say I want to go back to give and take for a second before we move forward that if someone's listening right now, I'd imagine they're saying, you know, Adam, I've been I've been a giver, I've been taken from and now I feel like I can never give a gift.
Like I feel like I can never trust again I'm stuck. It's now ruining my current relationship or current marriage or current work situation where there's someone in that position start. What is the healthy choice for then? I've seen this enough times that it seems to be a really common experience, and I think that the first thing I would say is Satya Nadella had a great observation on this recently. He said, look, you know, a lot of times, whether it's a pandemic or whether it's a personal struggle, we think we then have to flip a switch.
And that's what a lot of people do. They say, OK, I've been a giver, I've gotten burned one too many times, and now I've got to put myself first or else no one else will. And they're overcorrecting and they're switching from one extreme of giving to the other extreme of taking. And Sanjay said, no, we want to think about it much more like a dial that we're constantly tuning and adjusting, which I thought was a good metaphor.
And I think that's that's what I've seen successful givers do. It's something that I've also seen in the data over and over. It is you want to start by saying, OK, let me scream the people that I interact with when somebody asks me for help instead of just immediately saying, yes, let me figure out first if if they seem to be somebody who's who's who's really worth the investment of my time, and maybe I can test the waters a little bit by offering to spend five or ten minutes with them and seeing if they're actually appreciative or grateful or if they show a sense of entitlement.
And then maybe I'll go an extra step and I will ask them to help someone else that I'm trying to help and see if they're willing to pay it forward that way, which is one of my favorite tests personally and then the other. I guess the other thing I would do is I would say every giver needs some matchers to protect them. The beauty of matchers matching being most people's default in new relationships is they believe in an eye, for an eye, a just world.
What goes around comes around. And so matchers are extremely tough on takers because they feel like that's a violation of fairness and justice. And so they're very good at protecting Giver's from takers. And they do it in part because they really want to see Dacres get what they deserve. But they also they believe that generosity should be rewarded. And so matchers are kind of like the karma police who make sure that that fairness is maintained in the system. So find some people who really believe in justice and and get them to to be a protective shield.
Yeah, there's there's there's a there's a rough rule that I remember we had in the monastery, in the ashram.
And it was like you should always have you know, if you had to break down your connections or your relationships would be like 20 percent should be people that you're learning from 20 percent of the people that you're teaching. And then 60 percent would be people that have the same level. And that was kind of like how we were recommended to construct our I wouldn't call it a network of a construct of teaching and coordination in the ashram, because we found that for so many people, they were just teaching.
So they were like 80 percent surrounded by people that they were teaching and guiding and giving to and then 20 percent at the top. And then there was no one that they had to share their pains with or share their real stories with. And we were always recommended, and I always like that because it just very much put into perspective how many people I needed. And it's kind of like what you're saying, like matches. You need those people on your level as well as being a giver and a taker in some places.
That is such an interesting breakdown to say, look, there are people you should be learning from and there are people you should be teaching. I wonder where do you draw the line on that? Because one of the things I really admire about a lot of the actually a lot of our mutual friends is that they're totally committed to being lifelong learners. And one of their core philosophies is that you can learn something from excuse me, if I may say that again, I think one of the core philosophies of a lifelong learner is that you can learn something from every person you meet.
And so if I only have 20 percent of people that I'm learning from, am I missing out on the wisdom that I could be gaining from the other 80? Yeah, that's a great question.
I guess. I guess I should clarify more what I meant. What I meant is the people that are naturally seen as your teachers or seniors, so that yes, one hundred percent, we should be learning from everyone. You can learn from the people that you teach. You learn sometimes more from your students than your teachers. But just recognizing that you need people in your life that you do naturally seek wisdom and guidance from, I feel like we we haven't necessarily built a strong culture apart from school.
Like if you think about it after Wharton or after school or wherever you want to and studies, rarely does anyone have a mentor or a coach or a guide. And we don't really have that as part of Western culture. Like, it's not a it doesn't have a stronghold. If you I don't know if you did a recent study and asked about how many of them have a coach or a mentor, teacher or whatever you want to call it, we know all the successful people do, whether it's athletes or CEOs.
But a lot of the majority of the population wouldn't say that. So I would say that to clarify that point would be that 20 percent of your life should be surrounded by guides, mentors, coaches and teachers as a role as opposed to you being a learner. You should always be a learner in all areas of your life because that yeah, that that resonates.
And I think I think you're right. We need. Much more mentorship than we have, and I think the sad reality is that if you look at most Western countries, many people don't even have one friend at work, let alone a mentor. And so I remember when one of the questions I got a lot when given take first came out was, OK, how do I be a good mentee so that I'm not being a taker in this relationship? And at first I would just say to people, look, you know, your job as a mentee is just to try to to achieve the potential that your mentor sees in you.
I think a great mentor is someone who sees more potential in you than you see in yourself. And if you can work to try to make that vision a reality, then you have made your mentor feel like, OK, my time was well spent. Right. I've I've really invested in a meaningful way in this person. And, you know, as I as I started giving that feedback, a lot of people came back and said, you know what, I'd love to be able to do this, but I don't even have a mentor.
So how could I admit? Where do I find a mentor? I think you're right. We need a much better cultural norm and infrastructure so that everybody who's trying to build a career or a life has access to wisdom.
Yeah, no, I'm glad I'm glad to hear that reflection from you and get that assurance and that idea. I was saying to a group of young people in London that I that I mentor sharing with them the other day, that I was saying that part of a role of a friend is to remind you of how far you've come. And part of the role of a mentor is to remind you of how far you have to go. And and, you know, you need both.
You need your friends saying because I was I was reminding one of them of how far they have to go. And they were they were asking me in a challenging way. They were like, you know, why are you doing that? Like it's making him feel uncomfortable. And I was like, no, that's part of why I'm in your life. But you guys shouldn't see that as a right for you to do that to him, to like you need to you need to encourage him and noticed the greatness he has.
So it's. Yeah, it's nice having that thought.
Let's talk about work for a moment. You spoke about work on people not having friends at work. You know, there's a lot of people that say, well, work isn't everything and there is other people. It's kind of what we spend most of our lives at work. And I know you obviously you've spent your life studying the workplace and relationships and I'm with you that we spend far too much time there to not take it seriously. What? And I work.
So I give you give you a quick example. I turn down offers to become a monk. And then I worked at Accenture for three years. And so I've I've worked in that corporate space for not a significant part of my life, but enough to know what it feels like. And and one of the biggest challenges I saw is that people not feeling like they were noticed and recognized and led. And I was in a group of very talented people who I felt everyone had different degrees of that emotion and feeling of like, well, you know, I've got so much to offer, but no one notices me.
If someone's feeling like that right now in an organization, what's the step process for them to go through in that with their feeling they don't need to know? Inspired. They're not surrounded by motivators. They don't have they don't have. You giving the keynote every Monday morning in the meeting where if you wish that on anyone.
Yeah, no. The funny thing is, no matter who it was, we'd all we'd all get familiar with it and everything. But but I think the point I'm making is just yeah. I think so many people today, we have such a higher expectation of leadership because we're exposed to so many more inspirational people online and through books in the world, whereas before you didn't really have that. So I feel like expectation leadership is higher. That also makes us more disappointed.
Yeah, I think that's true. I think I think we definitely expect more from our workplaces and from our leaders than than we did in the past. If you look at the change in what's often called the psychological contract, the unwritten set of expectations and obligations that we exchange with our employers, you know, it used to be enough to say, hey, you know, I'm going to show up here and I'm going to give you loyalty in exchange for job security.
And hopefully you'll support my family and my my lifestyle. And then over time, we got more and more to wait. No, I also want this to be a family. And I also want you to give me a noble cause or a purpose to work toward. And I think it's harder and harder for leaders to fulfill those expectations. So if you're in an organization where you don't have that or a job where you're missing that, I think the first thing to do is to go and find people who are doing work that you think is worthwhile and ask them if they need any help.
Often there's a side project that you can get involved in a committee, a task force, and that can be a step in the right direction. I think a second option is, is to pick up a hobby outside of work. There's there's been a big debate for the last few years about whether the you know, the the passions that we have outside work detract from our jobs or whether they enrich our jobs. And they can do both. But it turns out that if you have a hobby that you really love, it's unrelated to your work or that gives you a sense of meaning that can spill over into your job and.
They energize you and then I think the third option might put on the table is to say there are few things more powerful than volunteering with your co-workers. There's there's good evidence and I found this in some of my own research, and I've got a bunch of colleagues who have tested this as well, that if if you feel like your job doesn't make a difference and your leaders aren't that inspiring, being part of an organization that allows you to lend your skills or share your knowledge with other people who might not have had the privilege of benefiting from them can sort of.
All right, Lisa, I belong to in order to Keres, and I'll let you know I'm in a position where I can do some good with the expertise. I do have and I think that volunteering can frequently be done in groups. So setting up a mentorship initiative for high school students or for people who might not have access to your resources or your education level, I think that can make a huge difference.
I think those is really wise, wise suggestions, because I think the point you're making, if I can say that, is, is that there are just so many options. And I think we sometimes get into the feeling of like this is the only option I have right now and it's not working. And you just kind of given us three or more alternative paths that that anyone can at least explore. And and having been in that position, I can definitely say and vouch for what you're saying is just I remember that knowing I had on the pot always freed me from the pressure of something not working where I was.
And and that's just such a freeing thing in general. I feel like people should always know their options because it just relieves you and liberates you from this overwhelming stress and pressure that we often put on ourselves.
Yeah, I think so. Huge. And I think one of the mistakes a lot of people make is they actually underestimate their own strengths. So there's an exercise that I found extremely powerful about doing it myself and offering it to leaders and students. And I think for anyone who hasn't tried it, it's called the reflected best self exercise was created by Laurinburg and Roberts and Jane Dutton and their colleagues at the University of Michigan. And what they do is they say, look, if you really want to understand your strengths, it's not enough just to fill out a survey and rate what you think you're good at and what you could offer.
What you want to do is see yourself through a mirror that other people hold up for you. And so they ask you to reach out to maybe 10 to 20 people that you know well and have them write a story about a time when you were at your best.
Yeah, I like this one. And then you collect the stories and your job is to create a portrait of what are the common themes. And I've found typically 20 to 30 percent of those stories highlight strengths for people they didn't even know they had. And it's such an uplifting way to see through the eyes of the people that you really look up to or respect and trust. Hey, you know what? There's a lot I can contribute that I haven't really been thinking carefully about.
Yeah, no, I think that's such a good exercise and yeah, I think just doing that with people that know you through different methods and means, like it may be someone that a charity that you volunteer at and a leader there and it may be someone at work and it may be someone that you helped on the side. I think it's so important getting that refreshing feedback from people and and asking for a very intentionally and specifically, because I think sometimes we ask for feedback, which is too broad without reflection.
And it's almost like in the requesting of feedback that needs to be reflection and intentional.
I agree, and I think we can give it to I remember just years ago in the middle of a very cold, grey Michigan winter, and I was I just felt lonely and depressed and I decided that I was going to make a list of the people who mattered most to me. And I was going to write them a quick note about what I appreciated most about them. And I ended up sending one hundred of these over the course of a week because everyone that I wrote, I felt like I mean, it was the ultimate five minute favorite, right.
It didn't take that long to say to somebody who I cared a lot about. Hey, look, here's why I appreciate having you in my life. It was such a meaningful way to reconnect with people that I'd lost touch with. And so it just kept going and eventually we could go on. But, you know, I actually have some work to do to probably stop writing these gratitude notes. But it just is another example of a way that we can both open ourselves up to receiving feedback, but but lead by offering something that's that's probably profound for other people and that they don't hear very often.
Yeah, no, no, absolutely. And I hope everyone is listening and watching gives these great examples that Adam is giving a go. And I actually tell him to practice as you hear it. And you're like, oh, that'll be cool. That would make sense. But we don't actually do it. And I would recommend that if you can just do one of those, if you can just go and ask someone for that feedback this week, just try it with one person.
And if it's useful with one person, then try it with someone else. But just don't let it be a theoretical idea that you stage there in the back of your head. I really want you to try and bring that to life. Everyone is listening and watching. Adam, I've loved listening to your your podcast work life. And I know that Season three is now available and I highly recommend everyone go and listen. But one of the episodes I picked out, which is very critical to everything that I'm trying to develop right now.
So as a business owner and founder myself, I love the episode you had called Reinventing the Job Interview, because this is something that I think the skill that I'm trying to develop the most in my life right now is to be a good recruiter and to be a good hire of talent and also nurture of talent as well. And this is something that's kind of like I believe is from a professional level, one of the biggest top priorities in my life right now.
And one of the things that I loved is you talked about how, you know, the fact that obviously Walt Disney and Tom Brady and other incredibly successful people were all rejected at one point in their life. How do you and it's not just about the great the greats like them on the red people, but how do you get good at judging someone's potential in in a format that has been created to lead to just people giving the right answer? Or, you know, it comes with so much baggage always for like dating, like sitting across the table with someone and then sitting across the table with someone asking questions.
They both seem like terrible ways of getting to know people the worst.
They're horrible. I mean, look, there are some experts, Jay, who even go so far as to say that it's not like we learned nothing in job interviews, but the signal is surrounded by so much noise that it gets drowned out and maybe we should just not do them at all. I don't know if I go that far, but I think the most the most powerful thing you can do is, is to say, look, you know, you're always going to misjudge people's potential if you think it can only be found on a piece of paper or on a digital resume.
And so I think we need to throw out credentials. And I'm shocked that there are still employers that require a college degree for any job. There is nothing you learned in college that you could not learn somewhere else if you wanted to, to even just go to YouTube. You can pick up most of what you want to learn there or or on a couple of podcasts. Right. It's not that hard. And yes, of course, there are jobs like a surgeon or a pilot that require professional training.
But I'm talking about a basic liberal arts degree, irrelevant to the job performance. So I think I think we need to get to what candidates are able to learn and willing to learn and what they're willing to contribute to other people. And so that means we should pay less attention to what's on people's resumes, what pace of experience they have, less attention to what they say and much more attention to what they can do. And so I would say let's let's take an example.
What's what's a job that you're hiring for?
So I'm looking for a head of content. So I want to bring someone in who can manage my content and partnerships from a very senior position, who has the ability to look at everything from video to podcasts through to books and everything else, but from that from a content and brand point of view. Perfect. OK, so you can probably spend eight hours talking to a bunch of cabinets and think, you know something about what their values are and skills are, or you could actually collect a work sample from them.
So first thing I would do is when you put out this job posting, I'd ask for a list of the five podcast guests that you need to have that you've never heard of and see how interesting the people are that they come up with and whether they're a fit for on purpose. Right. Whether they understand your value system and what you're trying to bring to the world. I would ask them to critique your social media posts and tell you what the one thing is that you should change moving forward and what one thing you've done occasionally that you should be repeating more often.
And then I would ask them to take a look at your book and give you a pitch for the next book you should write. And you may not adopt any of their ideas, but you're going to very quickly see how well they apply their worldview and their skills to the problems that you're trying to solve.
Yeah, those are great. I love those. I've I've tried the second one, but I really like the first one about people trying to find people for the podcast that have never heard of before. I think that is such a great question because it's very easy for people to be like, oh, you've had Adam on. Why don't you have. So I'd like to kind of be similar, but to find people I've never heard of and, you know, is is such a great way of testing if someone's aligned with you.
I think that's a brilliant one. I love that one.
That's let me let me I'll be very curious to hear how it goes if you try it. I mean, it almost feels like it could be framed as, OK, you know, it's imagining that it's 20, 40 and find me the next Jedi. Yeah.
No, it would be fascinating. I love that. I genuinely love this. I think they're great ones. And I think that the last part of that is always like, how do you trust someone can execute on those ideas? I think that's always the hardest part. I find like we're surrounded by the world where people have lots of good ideas and very creative, but we struggle to find people around us or people in general. And I knew I had to become one of these people.
I, for a lot of my life, was an ideas person. And at one point I had to shift to bring my ideas into reality. And it's the best choice I ever made. And every day I would love to go back to being an ideas person, but I know the value in actually doing it and making it to reality. Yeah, I think that's a false dichotomy for a lot of people to say, OK, I've got to either be an ideas person or an execution person.
Last time I checked, we all have the capacity to be thinkers and doers. But to your point, not all of us have developed the habits and routines that make us good at executing. And so I would I would then I guess the next level of the works is to say, OK, once they've generated some ideas for let's say they're coming up with podcast guests, have them write you an interview guide for the most interesting questions you ask to have them go through the past interviews that some of these people have done or their past work and give you a synopsis that would help you really understand how to have a meaningful discussion with those people and give them a tight timeline on it and see whether they can step up.
You could even I even would go further and say give them a try and offer a two week internship and give a little bit more involved set of projects and test and see who's able to deliver.
I love the internship when I've done that with creative talent like Videographer's, where I've just said come and travel with me for a week and they've had to travel me around and create content on the go.
And I've found that that was that's probably my favorite way so far of finding the right person because it's like, do I enjoy their company? Did enjoy mine very important both ways. Can I be around them for a lot of time and can they be around me and ultimately can they perform on the job? And I love that internship idea. I think there's there's a lot of there's a lot in that that I need to explore a lot more of, especially for different roles.
So thank you for that.
I'm getting free consulting. This is great. And it's guiding me through my recruiting process. I love it. Now, I wanted to say this, that of like I love your Twitter account. And I was going to read two tweets before we do this final segment in the podcast. But these are two tweets from Adam Grant's Twitter If you don't follow and make sure you follow. So Adam said, we listen too much to people who think fast and shallow and too little to people who think slow and deep.
Being quick on their feet may make them sound smart, but it doesn't mean they're wise. I love that tweet. And then you went on to say this one. You don't have to agree with every idea in a book, article or podcast to recommend it. Sometimes the ideas that challenge our thinking are the ones that teach us the most. The point of learning is not to affirm our beliefs. It is to evolve our beliefs. So two of my favorite tweets from Adam, but the reason I read that first one out is because I'm now going to get you to think on your feet quickly.
It's a big but these are the final five fast five, which have to be answered in one word to one sentence maximum. I'm ready. Adam, are you ready? I'm ready. OK, great. All right. So the first one for you is what do most people misunderstand about their potential? They think their potential is driven by fixed talent when, in fact, it's driven much more by their motivation.
OK, great. Second question, what do you know to be absolutely true or something you're very confident about that lots of people disagree with you on or some people disagree.
The Peter Thiel question, what do I want to be confident about that most people think is not true?
Yeah, like what? Yeah. What are you sure about that? You think people may not be you know, people disagree with you on it. I'm I'm very confident that nobody should be that I like. Let me let me let me state that I would say.
They might be more of a liability than an asset. Oh, I like that one. I like that we've not had that before. That is a great answer. OK, question number three for you. OK, this one. I love it. I'm excited for your answer. If you could create a law that everyone in the world would have to follow, what would it be?
Do I only get one? The only the best I've ever asked that you do this and this is the worst thing to do to a social scientist. It's like it's like you find a genie in a lamp and you only get one wish instead of three. Yet you can do three. One.
Oh, no, no, no. I'll try to I'll try to boil it down to one if if I could only get people to follow one. It would be, oh, this is so hard, I think. OK, let me I don't know if this is my best law, but I'll throw out a first law. I think the law would be that you're not allowed to ask a person for something until you've figured out how you can help them.
Oh, nice. I like that. I think that's a great deal. OK, awesome. Question number four, what's the worst piece of advice you've ever received or given? The worst advice that I have received, actually, was to not write a book because it's a huge, huge investment of energy and probably no one's going to read it.
While I'm very glad that you did not listen to that. The reason why I ask that question is I think so many people have been told things that they had to intentionally avoid. And so I love hearing that because, I mean, you've got four New York Times best sellers and more on the way. So it's beautiful to hear that. OK, great. And the fifth and final question is, what was your biggest lesson that you've learned from the last 12 months?
I think for the last 12 months, I actually had a really interesting experience where I launched a book and then a podcast season and a friend asked me what I was going to do to celebrate. And I said nothing because I'm a I'm an author and I'm and I'm a podcast host now. And this is what we do. You release content. Right. And I realize this is more than a sentence. But she said, well, don't you think you should you should celebrate an accomplishment.
It's a milestone. And I said, yeah, I probably should. And the lesson I took away from this, and this is one sentence, is that when you're having trouble appreciating your achievements or enjoying any of your success, it's worth reminding three or five years and saying if the younger version of me knew I would go on to achieve what I've accomplished, how would I feel? And that immediately brought me a sense of appreciation and excitement that was missing.
I love that. And yeah. And I'm so glad you raised that and. Oh, so glad you raised that. I'm glad you went into it. Thank you for going over to the one sentence on that one, because I can so relate to that in so many ways. And I've been saying to a lot of people that, you know, the challenges, that why is it that negative emotions or negative memories have such a strong hold in our mind?
It's because when we lose, when something goes wrong, we cry for a month. And when something goes good, we kind of talk about it for an hour and then that's it. And so it's like you've got this massive dichotomy between how much you obsess over a loss or a failure and how quickly you let go or or how superficially you celebrate. You may celebrate, but it may just be a night with a bunch of people that don't even care about what you're doing and you don't care about them.
And so there's so much of a superficiality. And I remember last year I did an event at the theater and I was on my way home and my wife had left early because she left with my friends and I was doing meet and greets and everything afterwards. And it was a great event. It went beautifully and everyone showed up. It was amazing. And I was on my way home and I was feeling like that. I was like I didn't plan to celebrate.
I didn't think it was it was just such an anticlimax. It felt so like empty in that moment after having, like, two thousand people in the audience in the show. And Great. And I was and I was sitting empty for that for the first time in a long time. And I was really just entertaining that feeling and just trying to figure out where it's coming from. I got home and my wife had organized a surprise celebration with all my best friends, and it was such a like it was.
I've never stopped to this so many times. I've not celebrated enough and I've got to learn that as well. So thank you for reminding me that.
No, I mean, it's a point you made earlier that I wasn't it, that that we need to pause every once in a while and look at how far we've come. Yeah, no.
And I think we struggle with that when we're excited by what we're doing. And we feel like the passion is in the work. And I feel that way. I love writing. I love reading. I love teaching and guiding and sharing and recording and content creation. But that doesn't mean you can't celebrate. And they're not. You can't not it's not either. All right. I think sometimes we create this oh, I love my work, so I don't need to celebrate it.
But I think that's exactly right.
And, you know, I guess the I'm feeling a little bit about this in the context of, OK, if I were applying for your head of content job, what would I say? And I, I think you've got a book sequel that's waiting to happen. It should be called Talk Like a Man. And what you should unpack, this is the worst thing to do to someone. By the way, you should write this book. Well, really, if I believe in it, I should probably go read it.
But only you are going to write this book. If you talk like a book, you could explain to people how to convey the sense of passion and optimism and clarity that you bring to all of your communication. And I think that's a lot of that's something that a lot of people could benefit from. Thank you. That's actually a great tip. I appreciate it. When when it comes out, I will pay you your royalties and I'll tell you that I do know what I could talk to you for hours.
There are so many more questions I want to ask, and I'm glad that you're going to come back on next year. And I'm glad that you're hopefully going to turn into a friend that I can talk to very often, because I've got so much out of this and I only have to go because I have to go, which makes me even more sad and mad at my team for scheduling it this way. But but I want to say a big thank you to Adam, because in a very short period of time, I feel like we just dug so deep and have covered so many incredible angles and perspectives and viewpoints.
And I just want to thank you for doing what you do in the world, because, you know, I think sometimes it's it's hard to recognize there's so many books and leaders and ideas in the world. But but I think the ideas that you focused on a truly impactful to people's daily lives. And I think that those those make it some of the most meaningful ones, because just applying one of these principles could change someone's day. So so thank you for what you do in the world.
I'm really grateful to have I spend this time with you. I hope we get to meet in person one day. And and I hope we get to do lots more together. Well, I did, T.J. Thanks for having me. It's it's a real privilege to be here. I know you have many, many adoring fans and lots of opportunities to bring anyone you want on the show. So I really appreciate you bringing me and also just how deeply you've engaged with my work.
It's not something people do every day and it really stands out.
Oh, awesome. That means a lot to me, too.
Thank you. I'm glad I would have only would have wanted to do it justice trying to try my best in that regard. But everybody has been listening or watching these the books we've been talking about give and take and originals. These are the two books that we do have interpret today. Like I mentioned before, you can go and listen to work life as well and follow Adam across social media on Instagram and Twitter as well. I promise you, you will be liking and commenting a lot on his ideas and takeaways.
Adam, thank you so much again for coming on. And everyone look out for the next episode and make sure you share and tag me and Adam on the best takeaways, the best insights and what you're going to be practicing from this episode. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you, Adam, and hope to see you again soon. Hey, guys, this is Jay again, just a few more quick things before you leave. I know we try to focus on the good every day, and I want to make that easier for you.
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This podcast was produced by Dust Light Productions, our executive producer from Dust Light is Michelle Yousef. Our senior producer is Juliana Bradley. Our associate producer is Jacqueline Castillo. Valentino Rivera is our engineer. Our music is from Blue Dot Sessions and special thanks to Rachel Garcia, the dust like development and operations coordinator.