I spend a lot of time in the car. I drive about 30,000 miles a year schlepping medical products across CT and western Massachusetts.
Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of listening to many a motivational speaker. One of the things that motivational speakers like to tell you is that despite the fact that most things are outside of your control, one thing that you can control is your attitude. I never really understood that. I’m well aware that my attitude can fluctuate. I can remember a mismatched sock enraging me. And some days, I’m too busy enjoying the clouds in the sky to worry about the minivan tailgating me in the right lane. But isn’t that attitude directly correlated to circumstances? Didn’t I get up on the wrong side of the bed the morning the socks did me in and the right one that beautiful cloudy day? Who could be happy after they just got fired? If your dog has an accident on the floor and your first step in the morning lands right in that mushy heap, do you smile?
Well, I’m starting to learn that you actually have some control over how you will react to things. It turns out we all have ups and downs in life no matter who we are. Some are better able to cope than others, and yes, a lot of that has to do with attitude. And, even more perplexing, we do have some control over our attitude and ultimately how we will react to these inevitable idiosyncrasies that life throws our way. Only took me a few decades to figure this out, but better late than never.
Now, the actual nuts and bolts of how we get ourselves properly conditioned to weather life’s cuts and scrapes without blowing a mental gasket is another thing. It’s not always a simple cliche, like “put on a happy face”. Barf. In some situations, talk like that can, and should, get you beat up. Solutions to and instructions for maintaining a positive outlook take up libraries and are proferred by the likes of doctors, shamans, gurus, religious institutions, Tony Robbins, and drug dealers, to name a few.
However, one little trick that I’ve learned to help maintain a positive attitude is to listen to positive messages. One way I do that is to listen to podcasts while I’m in the car. Due to the nature of my job, I pass a lot of time staring at my windshield. I love Howard Stern and used to really be into sports talk radio, and listened to both to fill the hours spent in my four wheeled office. However, over the last few years, I’ve started to include listening to podcasts into my time passing. I’ve found that my mood stays more positive when I listen to people on podcasts talk about things like self improvement, challenges, struggles, and how people overcome and persevere through obstacles in life. As a human being, and especially a human being who has chosen a career filled with daily rejection, maintaining a positive attitude is always a challenge. The podcasts that follow help me get out of the negative and “turn that frown upside down”. <vomitting emoji>
Knowledge for Men is one of the first podcasts I found that is geared toward a positive message. Andrew Ferebee is a personal development student turned master who has created a business helping others to become stronger, more grounded men through coaching, training and mentoring. In his podcast, he interviews a wide variety of authors, entrepreneurs, and other notables who share their stories of success and detail tools and practices that have helped them on their way. I’m not a big fan of “self help” and feel good motivational speakers. Andrew, a disciple of Tony Robbins, has a bit of that flavor in his show, but he also masterfully provides a great format and hub for learning about success from an assorted cast of guests. My reading list is often filled with books authored by guests that I’ve heard on the show.
The Art of Charm features host Jordan Harbinger, an interesting dude. His podcast complements he and AJ Harbinger’s Art of Charm academy which offers training on how to improve social and networking skills. Jordan’s personal story of working hard all the way through law school and great start at a law firm only to stumble upon truth in the old adage “its not what you know, but who you know,” and then succeeding by learning to hack and master social strategies to excel at building relationships with the right people, is compelling. He has created an almost university like academic platform dedicated to personal improvement through social skill mastery that offers boot camps, in house training, and online resources to indoctrinate users into networking and relationship building mastery. This podcast offers interviews with notable guests such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Shaquile O’Neal, and Tony Hawk along with features like “Fan Mail Friday” and Minisode Monday, which focus more on practical tips for getting ahead.
I was trying to keep this post business focused, but “This Life” really helps me with the positive outlook I’m going for by listening to podcasts. If you were a teenager in the 90s, you know Dr. Drew Pinsky from the late night show “Loveline” he hosted with future Man Show co creator Adam Carolla. Pinsky went on to produce and star in the controversial “Celebrity Rehab” and its off shoots. In Celebrity Rehab, Dr. Drew appeared with Bob Forrest, former lead singer of the band Thelonius Monster. Bob’s personal journey includes a transformation from drug super fiend to recovery superhero in a comeback story for the centuries. I think Dr. Drew intends for this podcast to branch out to a broader audience than the just the recovery community by addressing a wide range of topics with his guests, but a healthy dose of both Bob and Drew’s passions for fighting addiction, including the escalating opioid epidemic, charge the discussion on a regular basis. Drew’s pragmatism and positive outlook meshes with Bob’s off the wall personality and energy for an always interesting, if not sometimes hard to follow perspective on they and their guest’s experience of this life .
My first exposure to James Altucher was his blog article “How I Make a Living as a Writer”, which I probably found googling something like “how to make a living as a writer” or more likely “can you make a living as a writer?”. It’s a quick and worthwhile read and I love how he admits “When I first wrote a novel in 1991 I remember walking down the road and seeing a pretty girl and thinking, “She might like me now.” Since the early nineties, James has tackled writing, entrepreneurship, finance, and now celebrity. He challenges his guests and audience with his unique outsider perspective to create an engaging experience that you’d never find in mainstream media.
I recently read, or listened to, “The Four Hour Work Week” as an audiobook. Apparently the book has been out for over 10 years and I can’t believe I’m so far behind. If you haven’t read it, stop what you’re doing now, and go get it. That’s why I’m saving Ferris’s Podcast for last. I wanted you to read the rest of my post first. A few years ago, I attended a leadership training program that my company had purchased. Part of the training was a personality assessment which revealed that I am a process oriented person. I learned that as a process oriented person, often the result of finishing a project is not as important to me as the process involved in completing the project. Tim takes this perspective on business as he qualifies himself from kindergarten age as a nonconformist and details ways that he has hacked, sliced, and diced traditional business processes to provide meaningful success and create a comprehensive lifestyle model that facilitates a new social class that he refers to as “The NR” or The New Rich.” And, book review over. Sorry about that. The podcast takes the deconstruction of the 40 hour work week into a 4 hour work week methodology from the book and applies it to his examination of “world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use. This includes favorite books, morning routines, exercise habits, time-management tricks, and much more.”
Apparently there are about a bajillion of these podcasts now, and even some I’ve listed above share a guest or two occaisionally, so there certainly is some overlap. Ideally, I hope you try one of them, and get something out of it. If you hate it, maybe some day you’ll invent a time machine and you can go back in time and never read this blog. Or, you could leave me a comment below and let me know what you think. Also, if you have a podcast you recommend please list it in the comments as well.