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[00:00:02]

It won't take you long to figure out that I'm not your regular interviewer. I'm not very polished, not very articulate, but I just think differently than other people.

[00:00:17]

Hey there, Stephen Dubner. And that's my Freakonomics friend and co-author Steve Levitt.

[00:00:20]

He's an economist at the University of Chicago.

[00:00:23]

I've worked for two decades on the edges of economics, studying strange phenomena, human behavior and weird circumstances. But now Levitt is ready to try something different.

[00:00:35]

I've gotten really interested in trying to figure out how to leave the world a better place. And that's how I spend my days now not writing academic papers.

[00:00:44]

Levitt is now ready to start his own podcast. It's called People I Mostly Admire.

[00:00:51]

And one of the things I hope to do with his podcast is to get these interesting, smart, insightful, offbeat people to offer advice not necessarily about their expertise in their profession, but about general things in life.

[00:01:07]

Sometimes they're going to give great advice, sometimes are going to give terrible advice. And I think that's part of the fun. Why should you listen to the show? I would say listen to this show because I think we're going to have some of the most interesting people come on and talk. And some of them are going to be household names and some of them are going to be people that you would never hear of otherwise.

[00:01:28]

For instance, the all time Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings just don't neglect the thing about you that makes you weird.

[00:01:36]

And one of the savviest book agents in publishing, Suzanne Gluck, who happens to be Leavitt's agent and mine, HarperCollins, hired McKinsey to consult on how to be more profitable.

[00:01:50]

And they said just published the bestsellers, If We Only Knew. The perfect guest for me is someone who's not only wildly intelligent, but also a little bit off the rails.

[00:02:04]

I was in this terrible psychological state where I was claustrophobic, seasick.

[00:02:10]

I really had to go the bathroom and we're all throwing up left and right. And then finally, finally, finally, finally, the cameras roll.

[00:02:18]

Someone who thinks differently and who doesn't care at all how the world perceives him or her.

[00:02:24]

Whenever I'm flying in an area that has fish farms, I always look at it like it's always could be safe from hurricanes.

[00:02:32]

And I try to ask them all the questions I could never ask in a regular conversation without seeming really rude.

[00:02:39]

But because I'm on a podcast, I can ask him whatever I want. Well, you kind of bad at that job.

[00:02:45]

It doesn't seem like you have a lot of the traits that would make so many good computer programming.

[00:02:50]

Do you have some insight into what makes you such a quitter? I'd never framed it the way you do. But I like the in-your-face description of quitter.

[00:02:58]

On people I mostly admire, you'll hear how someone who grew up in a village in Guyana went on to run the Yale School of Management.

[00:03:05]

I talked to my mother every day. She taught me the importance of being open to new experiences and people because one does not know as one traverses one's life, where a helpful relationship will form, where an insight will come from, and how a public intellectual like Steven Pinker picks his battles.

[00:03:26]

Human conflict is inevitable. We don't all want the same things, but I do manage my controversy portfolio carefully.

[00:03:34]

You'll hear it in conversation with some of the most interesting, unorthodox people around, from actresses to athletes, authors to inventors.

[00:03:43]

Or is it your idea to skip all those? Great. There was your moms? Oh, it was my idea. It was just so damn boring otherwise.

[00:03:52]

What you did was fearless and really ruthless in a way that I'm not accustomed to.

[00:04:00]

I think my superpowers that I'm an emotional influencer. So if I'm excited about something, I can get other people excited about it.

[00:04:08]

People I mostly admire is part of the Freakonomics Radio Network and it debuts on August 21st.

[00:04:14]

Subscribe now to people I mostly admire on Stitcher, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

[00:04:23]

So one thing I know for sure is I know Stephen Dubner, I forget a lot of things, but when I meet somebody unusual who says things to me that I've never thought before, who changes my mind, I never forget those people.