Ryan Holiday (@ryanholiday) is the host of the Daily Stoic podcast and the bestselling author of countless books about marketing, culture, Stoicism, and the human condition. His latest offering is Discipline Is Destiny: The Power of Self-Control, and he joined us live in Los Angeles to talk about this and lots more!
What We Discuss with Ryan Holiday:
- How do you get into the headspace where you do your best work when everything in the modern world is trying to distract you from getting there?
- In spite of writing his first book about 1,800 years after Marcus Aurelius wrote his last, has Ryan really outsold the Stoic philosopher emperor?
- How do we keep from letting our desire to be perceived as great get in the way of truly achieving greatness (or at least creating good work)?
- Do you have the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed, courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other in order to live your best life?
- How Stoicism’s four cardinal virtues (courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom) can guide you even when the circumstances in which you find yourself are beyond your control.
- And much more…
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Over the course of just the last decade, author Ryan Holiday has become something of a household name for penning bestsellers like Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, Stillness Is the Key, and his latest, Discipline is Destiny. He also hosts the Daily Stoic podcast, puts out newsletters including the Daily Dad and the Ryan Holiday Reading Recommendation Email, frequently writes in his blog, and runs a creative advisory firm. On top of all this (and probably a few things we’re forgetting to mention), he owns a brick-and-mortar bookstore. He’s a busy man of many talents, but he’s still found time to appear on The Jordan Harbinger Show a couple of times in the past few years.
And for this episode, Ryan actually flew out to Los Angeles to join Jordan in front of a live audience at The Venice West in L.A., and this is what happened. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
This Episode Is Sponsored By:
- Hyundai: Find out more about the IONIQ 5 here
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Miss our conversation with Daniel Levin, a man who knows how to track down people who have gone missing in war zones and bring them home alive? Catch up with episode 617: Daniel Levin | How to Find a Missing Person in the Middle East here!
Thanks, Ryan Holiday!
If you enjoyed this session with Ryan Holiday, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Discipline Is Destiny: The Power of Self-Control by Ryan Holiday | Amazon
- Daily Stoic Podcast
- Other Books by Ryan Holiday | Amazon
- Ryan Holiday | Stillness Is the Key | Jordan Harbinger
- Ryan Holiday | Solving for What You Really Want from Life | Jordan Harbinger
- Ryan Holiday | Website
- Ryan Holiday | Facebook
- Ryan Holiday | Instagram
- Ryan Holiday | Twitter
- An Independent Listening Room | The Venice West
- “Took a Quick Trip to L.A.” | Ryan Holiday, Instagram
- WALL-E | Prime Video
- Team Owners | NFL
- Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday | Amazon
- Toni Morrison’s Lessons on Storytelling and Communication | PR News
- How to Mark Texts and iMessages as Unread on Your iPhone, iPad, or Mac | Gadget Hacks
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius | Amazon
- A Stoic Idea Worth Tattooing On Your Body | The Daily Stoic
- The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday | Amazon
- Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday | Amazon
- The Bhagavad Gita | Amazon
- Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday | Amazon
- Sales Rank Tracking for Author Book Sales on Amazon | NovelRank
- Who Is Epictetus? From Slave to World’s Most Sought-After Philosopher | Daily Stoic
- Serenity Prayer (with Credit to Epictetus) | Wikipedia
- The Highest Good: An Introduction to the 4 Stoic Virtues | Daily Stoic
- What Is Stoicism? A Definition & 9 Stoic Exercises To Get You Started | Daily Stoic
- Laurie Santos | Practical Lessons from The Happiness Lab | Jordan Harbinger
- Why Olympic Bronze Medalists Are Happier than Silver Medalists | Boing Boing
- Miss Americana | Netflix
- What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? | American Psychological Association
- Looking Back on the Worst Chapter of My Life, Four Years On | Jordan Harbinger
- James Clear | Forming Atomic Habits for Astronomic Results | Jordan Harbinger
- Kobe Bryant | Dissecting the Mamba Mentality | Jordan Harbinger
- Sandra Day O’Connor’s “First” Principles: A Constructive Vision for an Angry Nation | Judicature
- The Daily Dad
- The Harder They Fall: A Novel by Budd Schulberg | Amazon
- What Makes Sammy Run? by Budd Schulberg | Amazon
- It Is Difficult to Get a Man to Understand Something When His Salary Depends Upon His Not Understanding It | Quote Investigator
- The More You Learn, The Less You Know | Daily Stoic
- Why We Admire Socrates | Daily Stoic
- Author Donates $10k to Help Relocate Confederate Monument in Bastrop County | Ryan Holiday, Instagram
- What Rome Learned From the Deadly Antonine Plague of 165 AD | Smithsonian Magazine
- History of Memento Mori | Daily Stoic
740: Ryan Holiday | Discipline is Destiny (Live from Los Angeles)
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:03] Ryan Holiday: So the Stoics say, "You don't control what happens. You control how you respond to what happens," right? I don't control that my flight was delayed. I do control, you know, what I do with that time. I do control whether I lose my temper. I control how I react to that. And the Stoics would say that you can always control with one of, or perhaps some combination of those four virtues, which are courage, temperance for self-discipline, justice, and wisdom.
[00:00:28] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists and entrepreneurs, spies, and psychologists, even the occasional organized crime figure, war correspondent, extreme athlete, or gold smuggler. And each episode turns our guest's wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
[00:00:57] If you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about the show, I highly suggest our episode starter packs. These are great place to begin. They're collections of our favorite episodes, organize by topic to help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show — topics like persuasion and influence, disinformation and cyber warfare, abnormal psychology, negotiation, communication, crime and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:23] Today, a bit of a different episode for you. This is my first ever live show. I did this in Los Angeles, sponsored by Hyundai. First live show I've ever done in my entire career, at least in memory here. It was so much fun. I definitely want to do it again. The audience was great. The conversation was a lot of fun. I was really feeding off the energy of the crowd and almost wish all my shows were in person. Of course, we had Ryan Holliday fly out, and do a huge solid, fly out and do this with me. We talked — creation, work ethic, stoicism, success, parenting, ego, censorship, and more. Ryan Holiday, sure many of you know who he is, but if you don't, he's got, I think 15-plus bestselling books now. He even seemed to have lost count last I checked. So a very prolific author, probably one of the most successful authors ever, I think we can say that. Certainly, one of the most successful living authors of our generation here. And if you'll like Ryan Holiday, you're going to love this episode. And if you don't, you will still get a lot out of this conversation and have a chance to laugh with us over the next hour or so here. So I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I enjoyed creating it. And here we go with Ryan Holiday.
[00:02:31] All right, well, this is a perfectly normal environment to have a conversation.
[00:02:35] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:02:36] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome, everyone. Tonight's show is brought to you by the first ever fully electric Hyundai IONIQ 5, which is also a totally natural thing to say.
[00:02:45] Ryan, thank you for coming all the way from Texas, man. I appreciate that.
[00:02:48] Ryan Holiday: Of course.
[00:02:48] Jordan Harbinger: There's a little scare this morning. Maybe a little flight delay here and there.
[00:02:51] Ryan Holiday: Five and a half hours.
[00:02:52] Jordan Harbinger: No big deal. No big deal. Do you feel like you're in the future when you get to California from Texas?
[00:02:58] Ryan Holiday: Well, everyone from California is moving to Texas.
[00:03:00] Jordan Harbinger: That is true. You got me on that one.
[00:03:01] Ryan Holiday: I'm going back in time.
[00:03:02] Jordan Harbinger: You got me on that one. A robot passed me on the way to get a juice today, which I thought was like, I'm like, wow, this is, this is really like the — what's that Disney movie where no one walks anymore and they're all super fate.
[00:03:14] Audience: WALL-E.
[00:03:15] Jordan Harbinger: WALL-E. I'm like, this is the beginning of that.
[00:03:17] Ryan Holiday: In Texas, the robot would be carrying an assault rifle.
[00:03:20] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah, an AR. It's not an assault rifle, it's the brand name. Okay. All right.
[00:03:26] So it's good to see you, man. Thank you so much for doing this.
[00:03:28] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:03:28] Jordan Harbinger: I know, we're in some COVID protocols here. A lot of people showed up for this. You know, I was surprised. I have to say, I probably shouldn't say this out loud, I was very surprised at the demand for this because I thought, "Oh, who wants to see a live show?" Because usually I'm doing this in my underwear, but I'm like a button down kind of guy on the top and nobody has to know. And here we are, I had to put pants on for this, but most of you had to drive here and park for this in LA traffic. So you guys are the real heroes here.
[00:03:56] Do you get nervous for doing a live broadcast at all?
[00:03:58] Ryan Holiday: Not really.
[00:03:58] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:03:59] Ryan Holiday: I don't think so. Do you?
[00:04:00] Jordan Harbinger: No, not until the—
[00:04:02] Ryan Holiday: This is significantly less people than you would normally talk to, I think.
[00:04:05] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's true. Although hopefully, more people will listen at some point to what we're doing here. I've heard you say that you're not nervous for television either, even live TV.
[00:04:14] Ryan Holiday: Yeah, I guess not. I feel like when you know what you're talking about — like people are like, "Are you afraid of going on stage?" But I feel like if I was giving a lecture about physics, I would be nervous.
[00:04:24] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:04:24] Ryan Holiday: You know, or something I didn't know about. But I was also thinking before we've done this, I think I've been on the show more than any other person.
[00:04:29] Jordan Harbinger: That's probably true.
[00:04:30] Ryan Holiday: So we have a lot of practice.
[00:04:31] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. We have a lot of practice. When you know what you're talking about, I usually don't really necessarily know what I'm talking about.
[00:04:38] Ryan Holiday: But you're not talking—
[00:04:38] Jordan Harbinger: That's a good point.
[00:04:39] Ryan Holiday: —you're asking questions.
[00:04:39] Jordan Harbinger: That's a good point. You're the one who has to be ready for questions.
[00:04:42] Ryan Holiday: Yes.
[00:04:42] Jordan Harbinger: I can just sort of wing it. Getting prep done though is never easy for live TV. You can do your best. You can be prepared. You can't really guess what's coming from the interviewer.
[00:04:52] Ryan Holiday: Well, live TV is weird when you do like cable news spots.
[00:04:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:04:55] Ryan Holiday: Actually, it's a harder thing because you have like three minutes or five minutes and you have to talk. Like this is an hour or whatever.
[00:05:01] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:05:02] Ryan Holiday: I feel like even if I suck at the beginning, I can probably pull myself out.
[00:05:05] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:05:05] Ryan Holiday: I have enough time. The really tight spots are hard. Like when you have only a very little bit of time, and then I think you also realize like every medium has its own set of rules, and the people who do it a lot have figured out those rules. So, you know, sort of figuring out what works in each space. But I see it more as like a puzzle as opposed to like something that's like intimidating.
[00:05:29] Jordan Harbinger: That's a good way to look at it actually, yeah, because live radio, when you're doing like call-in live radio, when I was on SiriusXM a zillion years ago, a caller can't sit there and be like, "Let me tell you the beginning of this story." They're like, "Nope. Get right to the question." You know, you're sitting there with like Dr. Drew or something.
[00:05:43] Ryan Holiday: The worst part of radio and like morning radio shows or then like the cable news spots is actually like when you get there — so you get there like 30 minutes earlier, you're calling like 30 minutes early and then you have to watch the thing. So like I find, for instance, cable news to be like one of the most toxic things you can put in your body or your brain.
[00:06:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:06:02] Ryan Holiday: And so I avoid it at all costs. And then, wait, before I'm about to go do this really hard thing.
[00:06:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:06:06] Ryan Holiday: I just had to watch 30 minutes of Fox News or whatever, and you're like, it's very hard to like keep your equilibrium. And then morning radio you're like, you're having to listen to like, you know, Bobby and the Douche or whatever—
[00:06:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah
[00:06:17] Ryan Holiday: —for like 20 minutes and I feel like it takes you out of your normal headspace and then, it's keeping whatever the sort of bubble that you exist in as like a person—
[00:06:29] Jordan Harbinger: Right
[00:06:29] Ryan Holiday: —who knows what you're talking about and likes what you're doing. And then, it can be weird to like, go into the zone. The same one like when you do talks. Like I gave this talk a couple of years ago. I talked at the NFL owners' meeting and it was the weirdest talk I've ever given.
[00:06:43] Jordan Harbinger: Why? I mean, that sounds exciting.
[00:06:44] Ryan Holiday: Well, I mean, it was weird in the sense that the audience was all the owners of the NFL, all the GMs and all the coaches. So it's like 32 billionaires.
[00:06:52] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:06:54] Ryan Holiday: Then the people you see on television, you know, it's like the people you know, right? And it's huge.
[00:06:58] Jordan Harbinger: The always-looking-angry guys—
[00:07:00] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:07:00] Jordan Harbinger: —yeah—
[00:07:00] Ryan Holiday: And like—
[00:07:01] Jordan Harbinger: —phasing in the sidelines.
[00:07:02] Ryan Holiday: —they set it up. Like I was speaking last and they were like, "Okay, you will just sit here in the front row." And I was like, "I can't sit here for two hours watching other — like, I can't watch the whole event and then talk."
[00:07:14] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:07:14] Ryan Holiday: Like, I was like, I need to go in the back and pace like a crazy person, and go to the bathroom like 30 times.
[00:07:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:07:21] Ryan Holiday: I think when you're like performing or doing anything in public, it's like you have to figure out how you get into the zone or whatever that headspace you do. And that is hard if all of a sudden you're thrust in a very unfamiliar environment. I think that's why you see like NBA players or whatever, like they're listening to headphones—
[00:07:37] Jordan Harbinger: They have towel on.
[00:07:38] Ryan Holiday: Yeah. You have to like go into some, I don't know what you would call, but you're going into this place and you have to figure out how to stay there. And you have to figure out how to access whatever it is that you do.
[00:07:49] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. Yeah. Because people talk about things like flow state or whatever. And for sports, I understand that you're doing pushups or jumping jacks in the back. You get warmed up, stretched out, and then you stay in the locker room, you go to your vaults. I mean, I know a lot about gymnastics, as you can tell. But with a podcast or with a talk, I have like a playlist on Spotify that I never use, but I know is there, and I'll play like half of one song and then, you know, I'm thinking about things, reviewing notes, et cetera. But for something like that, it seems like, yeah, when you're not in your home—
[00:08:18] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:08:18] Jordan Harbinger: —with your own close, like you're in, you just got off a flight, you're jet lagged, it's a totally different environment. And like you said, you're doing cable news or talk radio, something you said is the most toxic thing and you're about to contribute to that problem.
[00:08:31] Ryan Holiday: Yes.
[00:08:31] Jordan Harbinger: And you have to get into that headspace, but also your own headspace of how you're going to perform.
[00:08:36] Ryan Holiday: But I think just generally, like whatever it is you do, what is the headspace where you do your best work? I think we often are just sort of like winging it. Like we don't think that much about sort of cultivating the environment, going into that. Like in my book Stillness, I call that space stillness. Like how do you get into a place where it can be crazy around you, but you've sort of slowed it down, you've eliminated the extraneous, your mind is not thinking of 50 other things? You have to figure out how to access that to do what it is that you do. It's not that you can't white knuckle it or just force it, but it's just, that's never where the best performance comes from.
[00:09:10] Jordan Harbinger: Does it feel still when you're doing it? Because I feel like, for me, it doesn't feel still. I'm like checking volume, checking notes, making sure the baby's not crying in my current situation. Checking the internet.
[00:09:20] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:09:20] Jordan Harbinger: Again, and repeat like ad nauseam.
[00:09:23] Ryan Holiday: Yeah, I guess, I mean, I try to sort of slow that stuff down. I mean, you can be very active.
[00:09:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I call it neurotic, but whatever.
[00:09:30] Ryan Holiday: Yeah. I mean, the irony of stillness is that you need it most when you're doing the most. Like you think of an athlete on the free throw line. You think of someone you know about to compete in a race or about to sing. Like you're doing something that's very physically taxing, but like you have to get to a place where that is the only thing that you're doing. You can't be doing a bunch of other things at the same time.
[00:09:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Always a process, I suppose. I guess the most free-flowing conversations are the ones where I almost forget that the recording device is on.
[00:10:00] Ryan Holiday: Yeah. And when you like, watch like postgame interviews, they're like, "Oh, you know, I wasn't thinking about it.
[00:10:04] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:10:05] Ryan Holiday: What was going through your head when you did X? And there the answer's almost invariably nothing, right? Like, I wasn't thinking about it, It just happened. And with writing, the weird thing about writing is you sit down and like, where does it come from? It is obviously from you, but somehow you just know, like it just happens.
[00:10:24] Toni Morrison calls this "making contact." And she talked a lot about like, how do you set up your life to make a contact? And for her, she was talking about how she found that she best made contact before she heard the word "mom." So that meant like getting up very early, right? She would like to watch the sun come up while she was working. And then the first time she heard like, "Mom, make me—", you know, whatever, it was like over. So that was like her window. And so you got to think about what that is for you. And I mean, ideally, you can sort of get it on demand and I think you can get a lot of it on demand, but I do try to set up my life and my systems, and then when I'm doing something really hard, what are the kind of rituals or processes that allow you to get into that place?
[00:11:05] Jordan Harbinger: I do wonder about that whenever I text you because sometimes you'll reply right away, like right away and we'll have a conversation. Other times it's like, three days later. And I'm like, all right, you know, I don't push the issue, but I'm like, "What is he doing right now?"
[00:11:17] Ryan Holiday: Well, I'm very excited about, I heard that Apple is rolling out, like you can mark messages as unread in text.
[00:11:24] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, finally,
[00:11:25] Ryan Holiday: Yes.
[00:11:26] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you. Yes, applause.
[00:11:27] Ryan Holiday: Because like—
[00:11:28] Jordan Harbinger: Finally.
[00:11:28] Ryan Holiday: Yeah, so I'm more of an email person for that reason.
[00:11:32] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:11:32] Ryan Holiday: And so like the problem is I'm usually getting the text and then I'm like whatever, but I'm in the middle of something I have to do and then I just forget that it exists.
[00:11:38] Jordan Harbinger: I'm the same, but I feel like, oh, well, if I don't answer, they're going to be like, "Oh, Jordan doesn't appreciate this." So it breaks focus every time, so I don't check it, so I turn the notifications off.
[00:11:47] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:11:47] Jordan Harbinger: Which means at the end of the day I'm like, oh, 49. Oh, my wife asking all these different questions about what to get from the store and all these important things are also not making it through. Yeah. That's a welcome advance, finally.
[00:11:59] I heard you, you've sold more books than Marcus Aurelius. Is that true? How many papyrus scrolls have you sold though? Probably not that many.
[00:12:07] Ryan Holiday: Only since book scan has been reporting in America and capturing roughly 80 percent of—
[00:12:13] Jordan Harbinger: So like 50 BC onwards.
[00:12:15] Ryan Holiday: Yeah, so for the first 1800 years, you know?
[00:12:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:12:20] Ryan Holiday: He was, but you could also argue that he had 1800 years to get up to the speed, and then we're measuring at the same.
[00:12:26] Jordan Harbinger: That's right. He sold like no eBooks probably by now, well, a handful, none of his new stuff.
[00:12:32] Ryan Holiday: And I narrate my own audiobooks. He doesn't.
[00:12:34] Jordan Harbinger: That's true.
[00:12:34] Ryan Holiday: So—
[00:12:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's a good point. Yeah. You got him on that one. I noticed your tattoos there. What's going on there?
[00:12:40] Ryan Holiday: I have obstacle, ego, and stillness.
[00:12:43] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:12:44] Ryan Holiday: And then I haven't done the four virtues for that series yet. I don't know why it just happened, but that's all I got.
[00:12:49] Jordan Harbinger: There's a guy here that has an obstacle is the way. Is it ego is the enemy or obstacle is the way?
[00:12:53] Male audience: Ego is the enemy.
[00:12:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. He's got the same tattoo as you.
[00:12:55] Ryan Holiday: Nice.
[00:12:56] Jordan Harbinger: Although—
[00:12:56] Ryan Holiday: And the shirt too.
[00:12:57] Jordan Harbinger: I'm fairly sure you got—
[00:12:59] Ryan Holiday: You needed two reminders. What's your ego situation?
[00:13:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:13:05] But he does actually have that tattoo. I saw that and I was like, "Wow. You must be like a—" I mean, he tattooed your book title on his body. That's got to feel good. I mean, not the tattoo part. That definitely does not—
[00:13:15] Ryan Holiday: Not for him.
[00:13:15] Jordan Harbinger: —feel good.
[00:13:16] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:13:16] Jordan Harbinger: But in making that literal impression on people.
[00:13:20] Ryan Holiday: It is. It's weird. I try not to think about it.
[00:13:22] Jordan Harbinger: I get that.
[00:13:23] Ryan Holiday: It's like odd. Not that you did it. I think the irony of a lot of creative professions—
[00:13:30] Jordan Harbinger: Dig your way out of this one.
[00:13:31] Ryan Holiday: You do something because you want to be like seen or you want your work to be received.
[00:13:36] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:13:37] Ryan Holiday: And then, it happens, and then you're like makes it uncomfortable. It's kind of irony of like, you got the thing you wanted—
[00:13:44] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:44] Ryan Holiday: —and then you realize you didn't actually maybe want that thing.
[00:13:47] Jordan Harbinger: For me, it's less, I didn't want it. Like, I love the fact that other people enjoy—
[00:13:51] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:13:51] Jordan Harbinger: —the stuff that I created, but I realize I spent so many years being like, "And then I'll be a cool person," and then when it happens, you're like, well, not that it's happened yet, but in theory then you're like, "Oh, I guess I love interacting with people and all this, and I love the fact that it's impressed on so many people, but I'm like, almost like blushing. Like, oh geez, I don't require this. So when I meet people, when I lived in Hollywood, I met a lot of people who thrived off that and they were never that healthy emotionally.
[00:14:19] Ryan Holiday: Yes.
[00:14:20] Jordan Harbinger: I know, it is funny, but it's also like, oh, I'm so glad I don't have that bone.
[00:14:24] Ryan Holiday: Well, yeah, I mean, one of the things I talked about in Ego is the Enemy is like, how do you cultivate a relationship with the work? In the Bhagavad Gita, they say like, "You're entitled to the labor, but not the fruits of the labor." So how do you get to a place where that's extra, right? Not why you do it. Because you can work really hard on something to do something that's really awesome. It can be ahead of its time or it can be swallowed up by news events, or it can be bungled by a publisher or whatever. So you have to cultivate a place where that's not why you're doing it because it's a really unhealthy way to do it. And some people do it for that reason.
[00:15:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:15:00] Ryan Holiday: They want the attention, they want the adulation, they want the recognition. And I guess it's good if you get it, but there's no guarantee that you'll get it. And it can also be taken away, right? Whether you could get canceled or—
[00:15:13] Jordan Harbinger: Sure
[00:15:13] Ryan Holiday: —you could just become irrelevant or you could screw it up or whatever it is, right? You want to cultivate a relationship with the work, or at least what I try to do is — like, I have this book coming out in September and like I want it to be a success. I'm about to do the last round of edits, like—
[00:15:28] Jordan Harbinger: Do you have a title yet? Can we like bump it or—?
[00:15:29] Ryan Holiday: Yes. It's called Discipline is Destiny. It's the second in this four virtues series I'm doing, but like the idea is I'm not done yet, so I can't say it yet, but like there is this point where you finish and then it goes to the printer or whatever, like you can't touch it anymore. It has to have succeeded or failed at that moment. Like I would say, like on my first book, which came out, it's crazy to think, my first book I was just thinking about this is exactly 10 years old, and I would say with my first book it was 10 percent satisfied with it intrinsically for what I did and 90 percent like, are people going to like it.
[00:16:06] Jordan Harbinger: Is the first book, Trust Me, I'm Lying?
[00:16:07] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:16:08] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:16:08] Ryan Holiday: You know, how many copies did it sell? Did it hit the bestseller list, you know, blah, blah, blah? And I would think, or I would like to think that I'm closer to flipping that ratio, but ideally, you get to a place where you're totally self-contained. The zen-like, sage place would be like, you do what you do and you don't even know how it does. Right? Like, it just is.
[00:16:28] Jordan Harbinger: That seems laughably far away for somebody who creates things or for me, creating things. Like, I'm always interested in what people think up until, I wouldn't say it's under a healthy way, but it man, does it push the limit sometimes.
[00:16:42] Ryan Holiday: But can it affect your mood or happiness?
[00:16:44] Jordan Harbinger: For short periods of time? Yeah, certainly. Not like for a day, but for like a few minutes, I'm like, "Well, that's a bunch of crap." And then I'm like, uh, whatever. It's some dude on the Internet, on YouTube especially, it's like, "Nah, don't mind them."
[00:16:56] Ryan Holiday: There used to be this site called NovelRank and you could like type in your name. And it would tell you that in real-time the Amazon rank of all your books in every country they were published.
[00:17:05] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, that seems like a bad—
[00:17:06] Ryan Holiday: And for some reason it like closed six or seven years ago. And I would say that it was one of the greatest moments of my life because now I can't check it and I couldn't think about it. And then you realize like every time I've taken some step, like in my system or my process, that's like insulated me a little bit more from like real-time feedback—
[00:17:25] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:17:25] Ryan Holiday: —or like hearing, I feel like the work has gotten better, but also my happiness has gotten better.
[00:17:31] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that makes sense. That's the equivalent for podcasters of like checking your Apple or—
[00:17:35] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:17:35] Jordan Harbinger: —Spotify rank all the time. Not that I do that, but if I did—
[00:17:38] Ryan Holiday: You definitely do that.
[00:17:39] Jordan Harbinger: —it would definitely get old really fast. Yeah. So at what point in the book process do you get the tattoo? Like when you publish it? After it becomes a bestseller? When does the tattoo happen?
[00:17:50] Ryan Holiday: All of these I got before the book came out and then—
[00:17:53] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh, staring. Because what if they're like, "We can't use this title. I'm sorry."
[00:17:58] Ryan Holiday: No, it is a negotiating, it's a bit of leverage with the publisher. It's already decided.
[00:18:03] Jordan Harbinger: It's on my body and I won't tell you where, so we have to use it.
[00:18:07] Ryan Holiday: So on the discipline book, like I went through a bunch of different titles and this was the latest ever in the process that I've changed a title.
[00:18:15] Jordan Harbinger: All right.
[00:18:16] Ryan Holiday: And so like if I'd gotten it earlier, that would've been bad, but I usually try to build the book around the title, so I've known for a really long time what it's going to be. But yeah, a part of it would be, yeah, it's not, "Oh, it did well, I want to get a tattoo about it."
[00:18:31] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:18:31] Ryan Holiday: I'm trying to get a tattoo of something I feel like I need to be reminded of, that also happens to be a book is out, which is why I don't have tattoos for my marketing books.
[00:18:40] Jordan Harbinger: That makes sense. Because I was like, what is he going to do if it doesn't become a—? Like, you know, put Big Bird over it or something? What are you going to do? You're so backed into a corner at that point. All right.
[00:18:50] There's a lot of people here, especially here in the United States, maybe in the west in general, or, yeah, the whole world, whatever they feel they need to exert some sense of control.
[00:18:59] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:18:59] Jordan Harbinger: And they feel like everything is falling apart and we see that narrative allotting, like clickbait headlines and things like that. Are you seeing this, what do you think about this?
[00:19:06] Ryan Holiday: I mean, the world is falling apart.
[00:19:07] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, fine.
[00:19:08] Ryan Holiday: It's not great. I don't think anyone's like, "This is how things should be going," but I'm not sure. There's been many moments in history where that is the case, right? Like where everything was operating as it should.
[00:19:20] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:19:20] Ryan Holiday: Like, history is an unending series of disasters and, you know, tragedies, right? So this is what stoicism is built around. Epictetus say first task of a philosopher is to separate things into the category of things you control—
[00:19:38] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:19:38] Ryan Holiday: —and the category of things you don't control. And the latter category is much bigger than the first.
[00:19:42] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:19:42] Ryan Holiday: Like most things you don't control. And yet what we spend an inordinate amount of time and energy on is what is not in our control. So it's a tempting thing, but it's ultimately a distraction and, you know, sort of a waste of your resources. So I'm always trying to sort of like, you know, is this thing that I'm upset about? Is this thing I'm worried about? Is this thing I'm repeatedly checking? Is it a thing that's in my control? Which goes back to, you know, about the creative work. Like you don't control whether you get on the bestseller list. You don't control how the algorithm surfaces your content, right? You control over a long enough timeline if you do good work, you know, I think generally you'll be recognized for that work, but you control the work, you don't control the recognition for the work. You control if you're a good person, you don't control if people acknowledge that, right? You can do the right thing, you don't control whether it's contagious in any way. So I think as the world is falling apart, it's not that you turn away from the world, but you try to zoom in your focus ultimately to that circle of things that are up to you.
[00:20:49] Jordan Harbinger: And then do you respond with those? You've got these four, well not you, but I guess stoicism has these four virtues, one of which you're writing about now.
[00:20:56] Ryan Holiday: Yes. They're called the cardinal virtues.
[00:20:57] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:20:58] Ryan Holiday: They're cardinal virtues in stoicism. They're also the cardinal virtues in Christianity. People think because they're also the sort of Catholic cardinal virtues that it has a religious connotation. So like these are the virtues from the cardinal? Cardinal comes from the Latin cardō, which means hinge. These are like pivotal things. This is like what the good life hangs on would be the implication. And yeah, the idea is — so the Stoics would say, you don't control what happens, you control how you respond to what happens," right? I don't control that my flight was delayed. I do control, you know, what I do with that time. I do control whether I lose my temper. I control how I react to that. And Stoics would say that you can always control with one of, or perhaps some combination of those four virtues, which are courage, temperance for self-discipline, justice, and wisdom.
[00:21:48] Jordan Harbinger: So you're going to write about each one of those, that's pretty good, I mean, they gave you a nice list.
[00:21:53] Ryan Holiday: They did. It worked out very nicely.
[00:21:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:21:54] Ryan Holiday: So I've done the first two and then this week I am starting the beginning, like talking about going into the zone, I have in my calendar to start the process on what will be the third book.
[00:22:05] Jordan Harbinger: How many bestsellers have you written so far? I'm going to be that guy who like sets you out for this thing and then everyone's like, "Whoa!" Yeah.
[00:22:10] Ryan Holiday: I don't know exactly. I think it's — it depends on how you count them, but let's say it's more than 10 books, and I think all of them have probably hit some lister or another.
[00:22:21] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. We'll get into that. Yes. Thank you. Finally, somebody's listening.
[00:22:25] Ryan Holiday: Well, you did it. These people bought them.
[00:22:28] Jordan Harbinger: I heard you — well, how do you feel when a book hits the list?
[00:22:31] Ryan Holiday: You know, I think the first time it was — again, my point is that I cared about it a lot.
[00:22:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:22:38] Ryan Holiday: The first time, Trust Me, I'm Lying didn't hit the New York Times list, although it's sold enough copies, and then it did hit the Wall Street Journal list. It felt nice, I guess. It's like ephemeral, but ultimately, all these things are much more ephemeral than you think they're going to be.
[00:22:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:22:54] Ryan Holiday: Like I remember, The Obstacle is the Way came out in May of 2014, it didn't hit any list for five years or six years.
[00:23:04] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my gosh.
[00:23:05] Ryan Holiday: But it sold quite well. And so that was helpful in the sense that it decoupled sort of critical success or recognition of success and then the actual raw numbers of like people you're meeting. But again, the third thing would be like, is it good or not? And there's just plenty of things that sell well that are not good.
[00:23:21] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:23:21] Ryan Holiday: Plenty of great things that never sell for a variety of reasons. But I remember when Obstacle hit number one for the first time, which was exactly on the anniversary of five or six years. I remember I was mowing my lawn when it happened and it was cool. My agent called me and I was like, "Oh, what happened?" and he told me. And then, you know, I mean, I still had to finish mowing my lawn. It's not like—
[00:23:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:23:44] Ryan Holiday: —there was no like parade. Nothing changed. So you just sort of realized like, "Oh, it just is," and it's the point like you think it's going to be this thing, and then it's not that thing. The problem is you can have two reactions to that kind of anti-climactic-ness, which is one it can realize, "Oh, I was after this thing, that no external thing is ever going to get me." And if that happens, then you've been given a wonderful gift and you have a certain newfound freedom that can kind of only come from—
[00:24:14] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:24:14] Ryan Holiday: —I imagine someone who's trying so hard to be a billionaire. Elon Musk who wants to get people on Mars. Like it's going to happen and then it's just like, oh, it's just another day, right? It just happens. It's not to say it's not an impressive accomplishment, but it never gets you what you think it's going to get you. So if you had that realization, like you've been given a double success. The problem is what most people do, and I've done this also, is you go, like, let's say the first time my book hits a list, you're like, "Ah, but it's not the New York Times list."
[00:24:41] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:24:41] Ryan Holiday: If I get New York Times, it's X, or if it hits number one, it's X. Or you go, you win a Super Bowl and you go, "Ah, but one time can be a fluke. You have to repeat," right? Kevin Durant wins all these titles with Golden State, and then he's like, "But nobody thinks I earned it. I have to go do it somewhere." So the problem is we think like more, even though once was not enough, it's like a drug, once is not enough or once was just special enough, but then it disappeared quickly and then you're chasing that dragon.
[00:25:10] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:25:10] Ryan Holiday: And you think more of it's finally going to get your dad to be proud of you or you to feel cool like you were saying, or like you think it's going to be this thing, but it's never going to happen because no external thing can fix or validate internally. That has to be a thing you give yourself.
[00:25:26] Jordan Harbinger: This is where one of your Instagram videos, I believe you can't change internal issues with external accomplishments. It's probably like a paraphrase from—
[00:25:34] Ryan Holiday: Yes.
[00:25:34] Jordan Harbinger: —someone. I love that because so many people I know, including myself, will try to change an internal issue with an external accomplishment. And it's so hard to get over that habit.
[00:25:44] Ryan Holiday: And the problem is it's a very powerful driver, right?
[00:25:46] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:25:46] Ryan Holiday: Like you can see how, especially in a capitalistic society, that would be a powerful sort of motive force that makes the world go round, right? If people felt good after doing this one thing — it's probably an evolutionary force in some way, right?
[00:26:02] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:26:02] Ryan Holiday: If you ate one time and then you're like, "I'm full forever," like you would die.
[00:26:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:26:07] Ryan Holiday: The insatiability of the human species is probably responsible for all our great art and accomplishments and inventions. That's why we don't stop and go, "Hey, you know, life in ancient Greece, that's good enough," right? Like, it's why we don't settle. And it makes sense collectively, but individually it is also a recipe for misery. You have to figure out this way to go like, "How can I do what I do from a place of fullness that's motivated by, like I genuinely love it. I'm genuinely trying to express this thing. I am having fun while I'm doing it," and not, "I will feel good when X happens," right?
[00:26:46] Or like you ever talk to someone and they have a number? Like they have a number—
[00:26:49] Jordan Harbinger: Like an arbitrary number or
[00:26:50] Ryan Holiday: something.
[00:26:50] Yeah. They're like, "When would you be good?"
[00:26:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:26:52] Ryan Holiday: The number's always like absurd. It's always like $20 million or whatever, and it's like you guarantee if you get $20 million, first off the number will immediately change to another one and it will be anti-climactic and like, literally every person who's ever achieved something has said, you know, like, "It wasn't as magical as I thought it was going to be."
[00:27:12] Jordan Harbinger: Olympians talk about this a lot. They get the gold and then they're super depressed after this or any medal for that matter.
[00:27:17] Ryan Holiday: Yeah. But it might just be one of those things that you have to learn by experience. But the idea is does it take five Super Bowls for you to get it, or can you pick it up after winning a scholarship to play in college?
[00:27:30] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:27:30] Ryan Holiday: The earlier you earn it, I think the more balanced and normal you can be as a human being, even if you're talented and ambitious in trying to do stuff.
[00:27:39] Jordan Harbinger: How many more million more books do you think you need to sell to hire a landscaper?
[00:27:44] Ryan Holiday: I don't know the answer to that question. The blessings or the curse of success is—
[00:27:50] Jordan Harbinger: Cutting your own lawn? Are you really going there? Is this what's happening right now?
[00:27:53] Ryan Holiday: No. Whether it gets you to a place of enoughness or not.
[00:27:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:27:56] Ryan Holiday: And you can see how insatiability would drive you to certain heights, but then when you really study the lives of those people, it never feels like that success is particularly fun.
[00:28:07] Jordan Harbinger: In a way, it's kind of depressing because nothing's ever enough but also that has to be liberating because you realize, well, if nothing's ever enough, then I can be satisfied with what I have. But it's so much easier if you just had a little more.
[00:28:16] Ryan Holiday: To me, the more interesting thing is can you be great at what you do or world-class at what you do and not do it from a place of emptiness, right? Like in a way, oh, like why are you doing this? Well, I feel like a worthless human being if I'm not doing X. Like that in a way feels easier to me than doing it from like, no, I'm like a normal, well-adjusted person, and I do what I do at a level that has impact.
[00:28:47] Jordan Harbinger: I've heard you say you cultivate a new identity each year. Did I get that right?
[00:28:50] Ryan Holiday: I don't think so.
[00:28:51] Jordan Harbinger: No. Okay.
[00:28:52] Ryan Holiday: Maybe.
[00:28:52] Jordan Harbinger: You talk about these New Year's habits and you cultivate like a new, well, maybe it's a new element of your identity. Not like you change your name every year.
[00:29:01] Ryan Holiday: There is something special about the turning over of a new year where you get to like sort of decide who you're going to be or what you're going to do. There's also something kind of sad that we like only in January though, like—
[00:29:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:29:13] Ryan Holiday: —if like I have a bad habit in June, I got six months—
[00:29:17] Jordan Harbinger: Five more months of meth, yeah.
[00:29:19] Ryan Holiday: Yeah, exactly. You know, you do have the ability to do that at any time, but there is something nice about the calendar turning over.
[00:29:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You mentioned like leave your running shoes where you can see it because if you cultivate this, I guess it's a habit in a way, but also if you're stepping over the running shoes now you're violating the identity. You talk about Taylor Swift, right? You had mentioned she looked at herself and had like decided to make this big change.
[00:29:43] Ryan Holiday: Oh yeah. I remember. The Taylor Swift Netflix documentary is actually very good, but she was talking about, I think it was like an eating disorder thing, she was saying, she was like looking at a picture of herself and she could feel the pattern starting, like the spiral that starts.
[00:29:57] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:29:57] Ryan Holiday: And then she was talking about, she was like, "No, I don't do that anymore."
[00:30:01] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:30:02] Ryan Holiday: She had this and I think this is sort of what kind of behavioral therapy is rooted in, which is itself rooted in stoicism. But I think the idea that like we have patterns or loops that we get into and recognizing what those are and deciding which of those you're going to continue to indulge and which of those you aren't. I think realizing one, you have the power to make that choice just because you've done something for a long time, just because you always do something. Like, people do this often where they'll like explain a certain behavior they do as if it excuses said behavior. And it's like, no, that's just an explanation.
[00:30:35] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:30:35] Ryan Holiday: That's not a justification of it, that doesn't mean it doesn't suck for everyone around you, right? It's like, "No, I'm anxious because you know, my mom did X, Y, or Z," that doesn't make it less crappy for your family to be around you. So recognizing those patterns and deciding which of those patterns are connected to the person that you want to be, I think is a very powerful and empowering idea.
[00:30:59] Jordan Harbinger: So we cultivate habits, identity, to control what we can control.
[00:31:03] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:31:03] Jordan Harbinger: And we leave the rest up to fate. Yeah?
[00:31:05] Ryan Holiday: Yeah. The Stoics would say, it's not that you leave it up to fate, but it's, you're going to focus on how you respond to that.
[00:31:11] Jordan Harbinger: I'm trying to lead you into amor fati here. You got to make it easy for me.
[00:31:14] Ryan Holiday: Ah, I see, I see.
[00:31:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yes.
[00:31:15] Ryan Holiday: Well, the Stoics say that it's not just even accepting what's outside of your control, but like genuinely embracing what's outside of your control as like an opportunity. When the Stoics say that the obstacle is the way, which is what Marcus Aurelius says, "The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." He's not just saying, you should turn your shoulders, and it is what it is. And he is also not saying like, this thing that happened to you is someone dying, you're getting fired, you know, losing your leg in an accident, whatever, he's not, "Oh, it's wonderful," like, "Good for you." What he's saying is that thing presents to you if you accept it, which you have no choice but to do, you can choose not to accept it, but it doesn't change whether it happened or not.
[00:31:56] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:31:56] Ryan Holiday: But when you accept it for what it is and you embrace it and you say, within this is an opportunity to be excellent in some form or another, to practice something, to be something, to do something. That's what the obstacle is the way means. That's ultimately what amor fati means, which just translates to a love of faith. So it's not even like, "Okay," but, "Yes, this is what I was looking for and this is how I use it." And in meditations, Marcus Aurelius says, "A strong stomach digests what it eats." And he says, "A fire turns everything that is thrown into it, into flame and brightness in the heat."
[00:32:29] So the idea being that you cultivate this kind of will inside yourself that takes the things that happen to you and uses them to some positive end. It's not that it's wonderful that your mom died, but that it did happen, and so what changes are you making in your life in response to what you learned or what you went through that makes you better for having gone through that thing.
[00:32:52] Jordan Harbinger: Some of those come later though, right? Because like when — some of you remember when I had to restart my show, some of you are newer and didn't see that, but me and my producer Jason, who's here tonight, we weren't like, "Oh great, we're not going to sleep for weeks. Professional career is probably dead in the water. This is great."
[00:33:08] Ryan Holiday: Yes.
[00:33:08] Jordan Harbinger: "Let's savor this."
[00:33:09] Ryan Holiday: But in retrospect, right?
[00:33:11] Jordan Harbinger: 20/20 hindsight, probably the best thing that's ever happened to me, and I mean that. And I know people, like when people told me that though, I wanted to punch them in the throat.
[00:33:19] Ryan Holiday: But it is. It's like, it's funny though, so like if that's where you're going to end up, why are you torturing yourself now?
[00:33:27] Jordan Harbinger: Because you don't know that's the end though.
[00:33:29] Ryan Holiday: But when is it not the case?
[00:33:30] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I don't know. I don't want to find out either.
[00:33:33] Ryan Holiday: There's nothing in your life that you look back to that happened, even the worst things you're like, but even though I didn't like it, even though it was awful, it still got me where I am now, which is like something I like and I'm proud of. And you realize that it's inseparable from, there's no way you could have gotten where you are now without that thing happening, right? But that was also true at the moment, right? It's like, I forget where I heard this, but so I'm stealing it, but they were talking about like in time travel, like every time travel movie, they're like, if you go back in time, you can't touch anything.
[00:34:03] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:34:03] Ryan Holiday: Because it will change — but then like in our own lives where like stuff happens, we wish it was otherwise or resented or we fight against it as if it's not contributing to where we're ultimately going to end up in the future.
[00:34:19] Jordan Harbinger: I suppose that's true and that's comforting, but it's all in the moment, it's just like, "Well, this still sucks though." Yeah.
[00:34:24] Ryan Holiday: Of course.
[00:34:25] Jordan Harbinger: But I guess that's part of the — you got to keep that coin in your pocket.
[00:34:27] Ryan Holiday: And I think if you see it, it's not like, again, it's not these sort of rose-colored glasses, it says like something bad happened and you're just like, "Oh, it's wonderful." It's that you have the power within you to change that thing into or change yourself in response to that, into someone you want to be, or someone who is better for having gone through that, right? It could have been the worst thing that happened to you. Like all the things you were worried about when that moment happened.
[00:34:54] And I remember we were talking about this the other time.
[00:34:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you sent me a book, actually. That's right. I forget about that.
[00:34:58] Ryan Holiday: Which book did I send you?
[00:34:59] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man. It was, you know, I don't remember the title, but it was like black and white drawings.
[00:35:03] Ryan Holiday: [Indiscernible]
[00:35:04] Jordan Harbinger: No, we read that thing over and over, but it was like a very small book with a bunch of — this sounds so dumb — with like pictures and drawings on it, and my wife and I were like, "This is really helpful right now," but I can't, for the life of me, remember the title.
[00:35:15] Ryan Holiday: I literally have no idea what you're talking about.
[00:35:16] Jordan Harbinger: You said, this helps me through a hard time. You just mailed it to me out of the blue. I was like, this is the nicest gift ever. Of course, now, I sound like ungrateful.
[00:35:22] Ryan Holiday: But all the things you were worried about happening—
[00:35:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:35:25] Ryan Holiday: —you could have ensured that, that was true, right? It could have been the worst thing that happened to you. It could have been the end of your career. Those were choices you could have made.
[00:35:35] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:35:35] Ryan Holiday: Right? By not doing anything about it.
[00:35:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I thought about giving up or whatever.
[00:35:38] Ryan Holiday: Throwing it out.
[00:35:39] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:35:39] Ryan Holiday: Right. It's like you could fail but you could also guarantee that you fail by quitting.
[00:35:45] Jordan Harbinger: Thankfully, I wasn't qualified to do anything else at all. So that helped actually.
[00:35:50] Ryan Holiday: Well, I think we often also underestimate, like it's not like it magically that three days later was the best thing that happened—
[00:35:57] Jordan Harbinger: No, it took like eight months for me to be like, okay, this is not—
[00:36:00] Ryan Holiday: But it was a lot of work.
[00:36:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:36:01] Ryan Holiday: And those gains were cumulative and then compounded.
[00:36:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:36:04] Ryan Holiday: Right. So it's also like, I think we underestimate the process too. Like the book I'm about to start, the way my schedule and the books work out, It's hard because like I'm finishing one and the other is just a vague idea in my head. And so that seems like a very unbridgeable gap. And I went through this when I was writing Discipline because it was the same time roughly last. And I was like, "There's no way this book's coming together. I don't know who the characters are going to be. I don't think I have the material. I don't know if I'm qualified to do the book. I don't know if I want to do the—" Like all these thoughts are running in my head because I was comparing it to the book that I just finished.
[00:36:39] And as I was going through my note cards, which as I do all my books and I sort of going through them, I found a note card that I'd written to myself — we can sort of send messages to ourselves in the future this way I guess — but I was like, you will probably not think that this book is going to come together. But if you show up every day and do your note cards, the book will reveal itself.
[00:36:58] Jordan Harbinger: You wrote that in your notes for the book?
[00:37:00] Ryan Holiday: Yes. And I said, "In June when you go through your note cards—"
[00:37:03] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:37:03] Ryan Holiday: Like, I don't remember when I wrote it, but I wrote this note to myself that I needed like several months later. And it was true. It wasn't the next day it magically came together. And there was really no point in which it just was all there but a little bit started to come together and a little bit more started to come together. And then I did those things. And over time, eventually the process, there's a great writing rule, like just a couple of crappy pages a day, a couple of crappy pages a day, eventually got me to a rough draft, which I edit, you know? And now it's there.
[00:37:34] When you've watched the process, like the sort of daily grind of work or work on a thing, pay off a few times, this is actually what success helps you with. It's not like, "Oh, I'm amazing and people love me." It's like you are like, "No, if I do these things, stuff comes out the other side." And having done this now, you know, at least 10 times, I at least more or less trust, like, if I show up every day and I don't quit, I'll get something that's not embarrassingly bad.
[00:38:05] Jordan Harbinger: That's a low bar.
[00:38:08] Ryan Holiday: Low bars are helpful though.
[00:38:09] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:38:09] Ryan Holiday: You know, people are like, "I just want to be like a supermodel or something." You know, you're like, you just want to be in amazing shape. And it's like, what if you just started eating healthier and you just sort of saw what happened?
[00:38:18] Jordan Harbinger: I was talking with Kobe Bryant after our interview on the show.
[00:38:21] Ryan Holiday: That's a nice name-drop there.
[00:38:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, no, I know. I thought about not including that, but then it didn't make as much sense.
[00:38:26] Ryan Holiday: Your friend, Kobe—
[00:38:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. We go way back. Afterwards, we started talking about our kids and he actually really lit up, and it was basically his only focus after getting out this book that was about like a girl who played tennis in a magical land, a children's book. And I was really impressed that one of the most famous athletes in the world was not prioritizing fame, not prioritizing money, recognition, but instead was focused on his kids. And that's how you know you're on the right track. And you and I talk about this sometimes, but a lot of people when I bring this up, they'll go, "Oh, well, he had the luxury—"
[00:38:58] Ryan Holiday: Sure.
[00:38:59] Jordan Harbinger: Right? Of doing that because he already had fame, he already had money, he already had recognition. So all those things were satisfied. Which doesn't make a lot of sense if it's a bottomless pit, right?
[00:39:08] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:39:08] Jordan Harbinger: I think that might be backwards.
[00:39:10] Ryan Holiday: I remember I read an interview like right after, or it was an article by a reporter that had interviewed Kobe Bryan a bunch of times. This is right after he died and she was putting together some retrospective about the Lakers and she'd reached out to Kobe. She texted him so they knew each other well enough. She said, "Hey, I'm doing this piece. Can I get like 20 minutes with you?"
[00:39:27] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:39:27] Ryan Holiday: You know, and this is a guy who has like a shoe brand. He has a book. All the stuff that like media is what drives—
[00:39:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:39:33] Ryan Holiday: —what drives him. And he texts back and he's like, "No. I'm like, heads down, focus on my girls right now. Like hit me up in a couple of weeks," and he had no idea that he had like seven days left with them. That's a haunting story, but I think it's also a powerful story because like you don't know, like part of the reason we neglect things or people or ourselves is that as Stoics say we assume we have unlimited amounts of time. It's not that life is short, it's that we waste it because we think we have a lot of it, right?
[00:40:01] And as a parent, as a creative, as a person who's trying to do whatever it is you're trying to do, the ability to say no to stuff, stuff that you want to do, stuff that other people think you should do, stuff that would be good or lucrative for you to do, it's hard. It's really hard. I have an email in my inbox that came earlier today for like a significant amount of money to do a thing that I don't really want to do. And my instinct is like, it was immediately like, I don't want to do that. It doesn't sound fun. I wrote no. And then I deleted it and went back to unread and I was like—
[00:40:34] Jordan Harbinger: Unsend.
[00:40:35] Ryan Holiday: Like there's a part of my brain that was like find a way to justify doing this yourself.
[00:40:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:40:39] Ryan Holiday: But I know I need to say no to that thing. And the ability to say no to those things is like a superpower. And it's a superpower because real, you know, it's a superpower because really powerful people are very bad at it. Like extremely bad at it.
[00:40:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:40:55] Ryan Holiday: Like I speak at a lot of conferences and it's like, I know why I'm there. You're worth seven billion dollars. Why are you here? Right?
[00:41:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:41:03] Ryan Holiday: Or like—
[00:41:04] Jordan Harbinger: They need that applause that you're going to get for this podcast.
[00:41:07] Ryan Holiday: It's hard to say no to things. It's really hard to say no to things. And it's obviously harder earlier in your career. It's hard depending on your socioeconomic, it's harder at different places for different people, totally. But I once heard this quote about, or this observation by Sandra Day O’Connor, the Supreme Court Justice, and one of her female aides was saying what she so admired about Justice O'Connor was that she never said sorry before she said no.
[00:41:33] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:41:34] Ryan Holiday: She just said no. And she was like, "I'd never met a woman who just said no," because like the instinct was to please.
[00:41:41] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:41:42] Ryan Holiday: Or to feel like she had to do more than everyone else, right? And she was just like, "No, I don't want to do it. And that is really powerful and important. And I think when you have kids, one of the helpful exercises for me is realizing that when I say yes to things, I'm saying no to them.
[00:41:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:41:59] Ryan Holiday: Or I'm stealing that time from them.
[00:42:01] Jordan Harbinger: You write about that in the Daily Dad newsletter, dailydad.com that I subscribe to. You write about that and many other things, actually. But that has stuck with me because I'll be like, "Oh, I don't have anything else to do. Wait a minute. Of course, I have something else I could be doing."
[00:42:14] Ryan Holiday: Yeah. You signed up for a lifetime obligation—
[00:42:16] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:42:17] Ryan Holiday: —to this little person.
[00:42:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:42:18] Ryan Holiday: And then somebody asks you to do this thing that you don't want to do, but you won't say no, or you say maybe.
[00:42:26] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:42:26] Ryan Holiday: And you just hope it'll like go away.
[00:42:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Been there, done that, for sure.
[00:42:29] Ryan Holiday: Yeah. Or I think, like having kids also helped me, the pandemic too, but just be like, better with boundaries.
[00:42:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:42:36] Ryan Holiday: Like, I will do that, but I won't do any of that other stuff you're asking me to do. Like, to just be able to really clearly say what you're comfortable with, not comfortable with, and own it, and not feel uncomfortable about it or awkward about it. It's not just you deserve it, but like it will also make you better at whatever it's that you do.
[00:42:54] Jordan Harbinger: It's funny you should say that because as I started cultivating those same types of things from reading the Daily Dad and the pandemic and stuff you and I talk about during podcasts when you're kicking would be landscapers out of your bookshop, I have also realized that when other people say like, "Oh, hey look, I can't," I'm like, don't even explain it.
[00:43:11] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:43:11] Jordan Harbinger: 100 percent okay with it. Because the boundaries, when you get your own, you realize that these are, one, hard for other people to put forward, but so much more important than you ever imagined. So I don't bug people for most, I did bug you to do this but whatever, because I knew you'd be great, but aside from that, I will never bug anybody or like try and step over those boundaries for that reason.
[00:43:32] Ryan Holiday: And I heard from someone, they told me like, if you just say you have a rule, people were respected.
[00:43:38] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:43:38] Ryan Holiday: Like, I have a rule. I don't do live podcast events.
[00:43:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:43:40] Ryan Holiday: And people would be like, "Oh, okay."
[00:43:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:43:42] Ryan Holiday: That sounds serious.
[00:43:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:43:43] Ryan Holiday: And so like—
[00:43:44] Jordan Harbinger: Jordan Harbinger Show must have been pretty bad, pretty horrible.
[00:43:47] Ryan Holiday: So if you say you have a rule or—
[00:43:49] Jordan Harbinger: Made a rule after.
[00:43:50] Ryan Holiday: But also like my wife, like, I'll be like, "I really don't want to do this. Like, how do I say no?" And she's like, "Just say no." And then it's like, you're not weird for saying no to something you don't want to do.
[00:44:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:44:00] Ryan Holiday: The problem is when you're like, "No, because—"
[00:44:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:44:02] Ryan Holiday: Like, you give these reasons, and then what you're really doing is giving the person, you're telling them, if you just say, "No, like I can't, I won't," or whatever, or if you go, "No, I'm just like really busy," they go, "Well, this won't take that much time."
[00:44:14] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:44:16] Ryan Holiday: What you're telling them is that you would like them to argue with you about why you should do it, when really if you just own it and it also doesn't waste their time.
[00:44:26] Jordan Harbinger: That's true. Although to be fair, you did say, "Let me ask my wife and see what she says," you are fully setting up the whole, like, "If she doesn't want me to go, I'm not doing it."
[00:44:34] Ryan Holiday: That sounds right.
[00:44:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, but hey, she's probably happy to bag this.
[00:44:38] Ryan Holiday: I think that's one of the things that you realize is like, "Oh, I will steal an unlimited amount of time for myself. So you have to create boundaries or checks that—" Actually I was reading the new Judd Apatow book and he interviewed Lin-Manuel Miranda, and I didn't know this, but he had had a kid like two weeks before Hamilton started.
[00:44:57] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, wow.
[00:44:58] Ryan Holiday: And he was like, "It was actually the best thing that ever happened to me," because he's like, "I didn't go out a single night after Hamilton came out." So like, we sometimes think like family, like, oh, it holds you down.
[00:45:10] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:45:10] Ryan Holiday: And it does, it holds you down to reality, right?
[00:45:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:45:14] Ryan Holiday: Like, so he wasn't out partying, he wasn't flying all over, he wasn't doing every bit of press. He was like, "No," like after the show, because the show's at night, like, "I have to go home," right? And like, I think one of the things that having a family or more balanced personal life that you're not in sort of mortgaging over to your work is it allows you some checks against that impulse to do an unlimited amount.
[00:45:37] Jordan Harbinger: How do you teach your kids the stoic values or I'm sure you probably don't necessarily think about them that way when you're teaching your kids, but I assume they're not sitting back plowing through Meditations by Marcus Aureus before nap time.
[00:45:47] Ryan Holiday: No, my oldest is six or almost six.
[00:45:52] Jordan Harbinger: So he's plowing through it. But the youngest ones are—
[00:45:54] Ryan Holiday: Yeah, look, the only way to teach your kids — people are like, "Well, I want my kids to be Christian, so I take them to church every week." And it's like, well, what if you just like actually lived by biblical teaching, you know? That might have been a stronger argument.
[00:46:09] Jordan Harbinger: Let's not get carried away.
[00:46:10] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:46:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:46:10] Ryan Holiday: So like, like ultimately—
[00:46:12] Jordan Harbinger: Live by example? No, thank you.
[00:46:15] Ryan Holiday: If I want my kids to observe these ideas, I have to like actually—
[00:46:20] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:46:20] Ryan Holiday: —model them, right? And that's the harder thing.
[00:46:23] Jordan Harbinger: Tell me about The Harder They Fall by Budd Schulberg. That book taught you something pretty important.
[00:46:28] Ryan Holiday: Oh yeah.
[00:46:29] Jordan Harbinger: If I can't think of it, then I will.
[00:46:31] Ryan Holiday: No, no. It's one of my favorite novels. So he has two novels. He has a novel called What Makes Sammy Run? which I like a little bit more. And then, The Harder They Fall is this sort of boxing novel that he wrote. I read it when I — well, it was funny. So I reread that book. You should always be very suspicious of the stories you tell yourself in your head because you're a pretty good liar. I thought that I read The Harder They Fall, which is a novel about corrupt boxing, like an organized crime infiltrating boxing, and then there's this like public relations guy who's like a man character and he sort of corrupted by it and then he walks away from it.
[00:47:04] And if you had asked me my own story earlier this year, I would've told you I read that book and that's why I left American Apparel to become a writer. And I reread it this year and I pulled up Amazon to see when I bought it and I worked at American Apparel for like five years or four more years or something.
[00:47:24] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:47:24] Ryan Holiday: Like we think that change happens in these sort of epiphanies or wake-up calls and it's almost always a lot more gradual than that.
[00:47:31] Jordan Harbinger: Five years was a long time too.
[00:47:32] Ryan Holiday: Yes. And I didn't leave for the same reasons that the character in the novel I was reading, which is that we're really good at telling ourselves that, one, our work is really important. And then he has this line in the book, he says, "I told myself the lie that you can deal in filth and not become the thing you touch."
[00:47:50] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:47:51] Ryan Holiday: And—
[00:47:51] Jordan Harbinger: With American Apparel, quite literally the case.
[00:47:55] Ryan Holiday: No, but you tell yourself like, ooh — like think about all the people that you know work in this administration or that administration, people that work in industries that they know are evil or corrupting or strange. And they're like, "Well, I'm one of the good guys, or I'm steering it in the right direction."
[00:48:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:48:12] Ryan Holiday: Or, "I'm the adults in the room." We are really good at lying to ourselves. There's an Upton Sinclair line, he says, "It's very hard to get someone to understand something when their salary depends on them not understanding it."
[00:48:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yes.
[00:48:23] Ryan Holiday: And so very often deep down know what's true, but then you have, you know, whatever your salary is, that many reasons to not take it seriously or make the step that you obviously know you need to make.
[00:48:39] Jordan Harbinger: There's a lot I have on Ego. I'm going to try and condense this down. I know you've done an entire, I mean, we've done it actually—
[00:48:45] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:48:45] Jordan Harbinger: You and I have done entire shows on this in the past, so I don't want to dwell on it too much, I guess. But my son, he's almost three. He's in the why phase right now. So it's like, "Oh man, I'm hungry." "Why?" And it's like, oh, now. And then, eventually, you get to philosophy, which is probably really good for you actually. It's like your bag. I know this trip's up tons of people. We can all think of examples, but if I say like, okay, fine, ego is the enemy. You ask me, why? I don't have a succinct answer. You obviously do at this point.
[00:49:11] Ryan Holiday: Well, no, I mean, if I had a succinct answer, I wouldn't have written the whole book about it.
[00:49:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's true.
[00:49:15] Ryan Holiday: People go, like—
[00:49:15] Jordan Harbinger: Fair enough.
[00:49:16] Ryan Holiday: People will go like, "Tell me the book, like in one sentence." And I go, "If I could have done this in one sentence, I would have saved these people the trouble—
[00:49:22] Jordan Harbinger: What's your favorite episode out of your 1,400?
[00:49:25] Ryan Holiday: I would've just done that. It would've been a lot easier. No, but I think, first off, if you make a distinction—
[00:49:31] Jordan Harbinger: Less profitable for sure though.
[00:49:33] Ryan Holiday: If you make a distinction between ego and confidence—
[00:49:35] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:49:35] Ryan Holiday: —which I think is important. Confidence I feel like it's something you earn. Ego is something beyond confidence. It's based on, you know, sort of nothing real. If you define ego is that sort of voice in your head that says, "You're better than other people. The rules don't apply. It's different this time. Everyone wants this from," you know?
[00:49:51] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:49:51] Ryan Holiday: All this sort of self-aggrandizing, delusions of grandeur. I don't see the purpose that it serves, right? Ego is this thing I found that gets between you and the thing that you want to do gets in between you and other people, gets in between you and reality, gets in between you and the work that you need to do, gets in between you and the truth that you're trying to tell. It gets between you and the feedback you need to hear, right? So ego is this thing that gets in the way.
[00:50:18] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:50:19] Ryan Holiday: And when you sweep it away, you have this momentary connection with what you're doing, what you need to do, what's required, and then, of course, you make a little progress, and then ego comes back.
[00:50:29] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:50:29] Ryan Holiday: So I see it as this sort of continual sweeping away or eliminate, reduction of ego. But the second you think you have done it is like the most egotistical thought you have. The second you go, I am ego-free, ego has reintroduced itself.
[00:50:45] Jordan Harbinger: I don't know if you wrote this, "Being a know-it-all is a self-fulfilling prophecy." I love that because that is—
[00:50:50] Ryan Holiday: Yes.
[00:50:51] Jordan Harbinger: —it seems entirely true.
[00:50:52] Ryan Holiday: Well, if you think you know everything that there is to know, it is true for you because you are not capable of learning anything else. But, you know, going back to Socrates, Socrates's wisdom is rooted in the fact that he knows nothing or that he knows that he doesn't know anything. And what is the Socratic method? He goes around and asks people questions. Like Socrates wasn't wise because he went around and told people the answer. He went around because he asked like your son, why, why, why, why, why? And eventually discovered something in the process of doing that.
[00:51:22] Jordan Harbinger: How do you think about people who expect you to be — this is a personal question, I suppose, they expect you to be one way because stoicism, right? And I chose some choice Instagram quotes here. I was going to leave this out, but I just, I can't because your wife will be very disappointed, I think. You want to express your honest beliefs, right? You've got a lot of IG drama. I'm not going to say these people's handles here because it'll probably—
[00:51:44] Ryan Holiday: I'm really concerned about where this is going.
[00:51:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. One guy said — this is after you gave a speech about tearing down these confederate statues.
[00:51:50] Ryan Holiday: Yes.
[00:51:50] Jordan Harbinger: I'm sure you remember that post. Somebody said, "Why choose to move somewhere and then start agitating for that place to change because you don't like something about your new home? You use social media and your platform to magnify your paternalism and amplify your shaming techniques. Live and let live, man." And this is a guy that we both know, which I was surprised—
[00:52:10] Ryan Holiday: Who is this?
[00:52:10] Jordan Harbinger: —but not surprised.
[00:52:11] Ryan Holiday: No, I don't know.
[00:52:12] Jordan Harbinger: I'll show you later.
[00:52:13] Ryan Holiday: Okay.
[00:52:13] Jordan Harbinger: Not going to put it on the live stream.
[00:52:16] Ryan Holiday: This is one reason that I do check the comments less than—
[00:52:20] Jordan Harbinger: I bet you do.
[00:52:21] Ryan Holiday: —I used to do. So one of the things that's weird, like when you have a platform is do you have the platform or does the platform have you?
[00:52:31] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:52:31] Ryan Holiday: That's a question I ask myself a lot and I think, I know a lot of people where they sort of don't say what they think, not because they're worried about being canceled, but they're worried it will cost them something. And that doesn't seem to me to be a successful place, right?
[00:52:49] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:52:49] Ryan Holiday: Like I write because I have things that I want to say, not because people have things that they want to hear, right? And so I have tried and I generally try not to think about what other people are going to think when I am doing work. Because if you do, then, you've like sort of handed over your power.
[00:53:13] So yeah, like, I mean, first off, it doesn't seem to strike me as unreasonable to live in a town and then be like, "What is this monument to," literally a monument to white supremacy and go, "maybe that doesn't need to be here?"
[00:53:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:53:25] Ryan Holiday: And maybe just because it's been here for a while doesn't mean we have to keep paying to maintain it. That doesn't strike me as a crazy thought. So I felt good about obviously what I said, and then if it pisses some people off. The other thing that's funny is when you piss people off, they often, they're like, "Well, I'm not going to be a fan anymore," or whatever. And they don't realize that not only do you not care but maybe the reason that you said it was specifically to filter out the said people.
[00:53:54] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:53:55] Ryan Holiday: Like it sort of hit somewhat recently, I guess maybe surprisingly recently, but like as the platform particularly Daily Stoic grew and grew and grew, I realized that like people came to it for different reasons, right? And like, people heard about it because I did some weightlifters podcast and now there's like these meatheads that are following it.
[00:54:14] Jordan Harbinger: Nothing wrong with meatheads.
[00:54:16] Ryan Holiday: No, no, no. Just like—
[00:54:16] Jordan Harbinger: Don't unsubscribe.
[00:54:19] Ryan Holiday: They came to it thinking it was one thing.
[00:54:22] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:54:23] Ryan Holiday: And I could continue to have them as fans if I didn't disabuse them of that incorrect notion, right? So like, they thought stoicism, for instance, was just, it would certainly be better for me financially and easier for me as a human being in the world who doesn't like people saying mean things to me to only talk about the elements of stoicism that people like hearing about, about individual resiliency, about productivity, about not having opinions about, like, it would be easy to focus on just the sort of individualistic elements. But as it happens, one of the four virtues is justice, right?
[00:55:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Like the how inconvenient. Dang.
[00:55:05] Ryan Holiday: And you know, when I write about the other things, and it turns out that it upsets the people who wanted the version of stoicism that made them a better sociopath. Like that's just where we part ways.
[00:55:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:55:18] Ryan Holiday: And it's not that I like that.
[00:55:21] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:55:22] Ryan Holiday: But that's just what it is, right? That I can't pick and choose.
[00:55:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I could have spent the weekend, I did pick up some choice ones, but as I reread them now, I'm like, ooh, maybe not on the show. Like, there's some bad, you know, bad ones.
[00:55:34] Ryan Holiday: What's weird is when you get crazy, like if you get crazy comments from some like anonymous thing and you're like, is this a troll?
[00:55:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:55:40] Ryan Holiday: Is this a real person? Is this a robot? But then every once in a while you'll get them from like, people with like blue check marks.
[00:55:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:55:45] Ryan Holiday: And you're like, whoa, okay, but, you know, what is what it is?
[00:55:49] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, I say surprising, but also you're like, "Well, I kind of know that guy, and it's not," but you do see a lot, it just shows us how divided many people are in many ways. But a lot of this stuff, man, they really do try to cut deep. I know that your wife actually noticed because she'll — what does she say that Jordan Harbinger has entered the chat, whenever?
[00:56:05] Ryan Holiday: Oh yes, yes, you're always there commenting, which I appreciate.
[00:56:07] Jordan Harbinger: I wouldn't say always there. Sometimes I'm in there.
[00:56:10] Ryan Holiday: You're sort of there with the popcorn to watch.
[00:56:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yes. But tell me about the plague that infects your character, like literally and metaphorically actually.
[00:56:18] Ryan Holiday: So I think what I love about Stoics is that they were real people writing real things in the real world that they live in, which is, although very different from ours, not that different from ours. So, obviously, I intellectually understood, for instance, that Marcus Aurelius was writing during a pandemic. He lived during a pandemic. In fact, they named a pandemic after him. It was called the Antonine Plague.
[00:56:40] Jordan Harbinger: Ah.
[00:56:41] Ryan Holiday: Sort of like how we called it the Spanish Flu, even though it was from Kansas.
[00:56:45] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yeah, because they were the only ones who admitted that it existed.
[00:56:48] Ryan Holiday: Well, no, we took it, like it started here, and then we put a bunch of people on boats in the First World War and sent them over to Europe and they brought the 1819 flu with them. But anyways, it's called the Antonine Plague. It wasn't his fault but it happened when he was the emperor, so it's called the Antonine Plague. So I intellectually understood that some of the meditations were written during a plague, and then he may have even died of it. But it's not until a pandemic happens in our lifetime that you realize like, Oh, he's not figuratively talking about the plague.
[00:57:20] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:57:20] Ryan Holiday: He's also literally reacting to what a global pandemic would do to human beings. And it turns out like what it does to human beings is remarkably consistent. And so the quote that struck me most during the pandemic, he said, "There's two types of plagues. There's the plague that takes your life." And then he said, "There's another pestilence that can destroy your character." And the idea that I think maybe, you know, some of these people, I know people who, well, they also got COVID, but they got something worse than COVID.
[00:57:49] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[00:57:49] Ryan Holiday: Right?
[00:57:50] Jordan Harbinger: I know where you're going with this.
[00:57:51] Ryan Holiday: And it's a long COVID in that they're not coming back from it anytime soon, right? Like something happened in their brain, a flip or, you know, virus got in there and they're like, not the same as they were a few years ago. And I think that's what Marcus was talking about is that like, you know, this thing happens. And does that thing make you more empathetic or less empathetic, more connected to reality and reason or less connected to reality and reason? More involved civically, less involved civically? More selfish, less selfish, right? And I think his point was that obviously you don't want to get physically sick but this character virus is the thing to really be worried about. And it's been weird to watch people I know, people are fans themselves, that happened to them, but it's just interesting to think that they were thinking about the same things that were thinking about.
[00:58:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:58:39] Ryan Holiday: When you're like, what happened? Before we came here, we were just like, "Did you see what happened to so-and-so? And it's just like, yeah, it can happen to anyone.
[00:58:47] Jordan Harbinger: Lost soul, yeah. Maybe, now is a good time to talk about memento mori, right?
[00:58:50] Ryan Holiday: Yeah.
[00:58:50] Jordan Harbinger: Because we're talking about death. Tell me about that. Someone stole my memento mori coin, by the way. Well, I would like to say they needed it more than me, but I think they were just kind of a prick.
[00:58:59] Ryan Holiday: Let's see if I can, I think I can solve this problem for you.
[00:59:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yes. Hey, all right. Thank you, man.
[00:59:04] Ryan Holiday: No. If you think about Marcus living in this plague because millions of people in a time when, literally, they thought they could stop the plague by burning incense.
[00:59:13] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[00:59:13] Ryan Holiday: That was like extent—
[00:59:14] Jordan Harbinger: We still have that. They're called essential oil diffusers and they're still for sale on Etsy.
[00:59:19] Ryan Holiday: Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
[00:59:22] Jordan Harbinger: That's right. Free shipping though.
[00:59:26] Ryan Holiday: And it's part of an MLM.
[00:59:27] Jordan Harbinger: Right. You can sell to other people.
[00:59:29] Ryan Holiday: Yeah. No, he's watching this happen, right? And it's a reminder of his mortality. In fact, Marcus' last words, he's dying ostensibly of a plague — or we believe it to be of a plague — and his friends are crying, and he says like, "This is what happens." And he is like, "Don't be sad about me." He said, "Think about the same thing happening to you." The point is we all die, but that doesn't mean we have to waste the present moment, right?
[00:59:57] And I think a big part of the stoic literature is about precisely that — how do you seize the moment in front of you and thinking about your mortality is not morbid, but it's actually very clarifying. The back of the coin, it says, "You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think." And that's what memento mori is about. And again, if Marcus Aurelius had to remind himself this.
[01:00:21] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:00:22] Ryan Holiday: When you literally could die at any moment of like cutting your finger and getting infected, like the idea that we wouldn't need that reminder when our average life expectancy would stun people living in the ancient world. It's extra important that we have this practice.
[01:00:39] Jordan Harbinger: Thinking about it for yourself makes a lot of sense. What about thinking about it for other people in your life? I mean, people you love, not people you actually want to—
[01:00:48] Ryan Holiday: It's not you go around and be like, "Hey, by the way, you could die in the moment."
[01:00:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:00:51] Ryan Holiday: But, one of the most haunting passages in Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is as you tuck your child in at night—
[01:00:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:00:58] Ryan Holiday: You don't tell them—
[01:00:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:00:59] Ryan Holiday: —but you tell yourself that they could go at any moment.
[01:01:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:01:02] Ryan Holiday: And it's extremely hard to do. And the fact that it's hard to do, I think is part of it. The idea is not detachment. The idea is presence, you know, your kid's like, "Hey, can we read one more book?
[01:01:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:01:14] Ryan Holiday: And you're like, "No, I got to go." You don't have to go.
[01:01:17] Jordan Harbinger: You don't have to go. Yeah.
[01:01:18] Ryan Holiday: And there will come a time in your life, hopefully, just because they're a little bit older, but it could be for more tragic reasons when you would give literally anything for the opportunity to do that one more time. And you have it now and you're rushing through it because you're streaming something.
[01:01:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:01:37] Ryan Holiday: Or because you left your phone in the other room.
[01:01:39] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, it's game five, but I get it. Yeah.
[01:01:41] Ryan Holiday: Yes.
[01:01:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:01:42] Ryan Holiday: So this moment you have, you have it now for sure, and yet you rush through it. And I think with what Stoics say, I think this is the most powerful part of it, the Stoics would say, is that where you're rushing from is life. Seneca says, "Don't think of death as something in the future, but think of death as something that's happening now." He says, "The time that passes belongs to death," which I think is a really powerful perception shift. That death isn't this thing that happens once, hopefully when you're 86 years. Death happened every day of those 86 years because once time passes, it's dead.
[01:02:18] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[01:02:18] Ryan Holiday: And the person that you were in that moment is dead and nothing can revive it and nothing can get more of it. All you have is that present moment. How do you choose to spend it? That's what matters.
[01:02:28] Jordan Harbinger: Well, time flies during a great conversation, my friend.
[01:02:30] Ryan Holiday: Yes.
[01:02:30] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you for making this trip. Special thanks to Hyundai for sponsoring this show and making this happen. And thank you all for coming out. Amazing. Thank you so much.
[01:02:45] You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show with the go-to person to help negotiate a hostage situation in Syria when no other intelligence agency would help.
[01:02:55] Daniel Levin: When you have a hostage in negotiation, especially in a war zone, the hardest thing to do is to actually figure out who the hostage takers are and the rumors are off the charts.
[01:03:03] Proof of life is getting that authentication that you're talking with the people who actually have the person, and you want to know, of course, that the person's still alive. You ask them for some question or some nickname, something that no one would be able to know. And if they can't come back with that answer, you walk away.
[01:03:19] The person I had to flag down and find who held this Westerner hostage was probably the biggest Captagon dealer in the country, and they often use the same distribution routes for the Captagon as they do for the human trafficking. So the same people who take little girls from villages and send them to the Gulf, to Dubai, to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia to other places there, they fill also stomachs of the girls with drugs and use them as couriers while also shipping them as the product itself.
[01:03:47] The first thing you have to do is tell the parents to stop doing something that they want to do and that every schmuck under the sun is telling them to do, which is to seek public support, right? To get public statements, to do Facebook campaigns. The Secretary of State says how we're not going to leave a stone unturned until this awful act is being brought to justice. What just happens with that is your price went up before you even started negotiation. You do not want to drive up the perceived value of the hostage.
[01:04:15] Sometimes people are taking hostage just for the shock value of executing them. What you're going to do with the campaign that you're doing right now is going to get your child or your spouse killed. How is pissing off the people who hold that person's life and their hands helping you? By the time, I get involved, it's usually too late.
[01:04:34] Jordan Harbinger: To learn all about the nuances of negotiating with criminals and human traffickers, check out episode 617 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:04:43] Again, thanks so much to Hyundai for sponsoring us and to Ryan Holiday for flying out to LA just to do this show. His new book is out right now, by the way, Discipline is Destiny. Please use our website links if you buy books from the guests on the show. The links are always in the show notes. They are also at jordanharbinger.com/books. It does help support the show. This new book sold something like 60,000 copies in the first week, 60,000. Success really well-earned, my friend. Really proud of Ryan Holiday for this and all his successful endeavors and proud to call him a friend.
[01:05:12] And thanks to you, all of you who came out to the live show. I really enjoyed meeting and hanging out with all of you as well. One of you is the Red Power Ranger. That was pretty cool. All of you were great, folks. It made me very, very proud that The Jordan Harbinger Show fan base community is just full of such high-quality people. I really enjoyed the heck out of that evening. I hope I get to do it again and again in many cities in the future. And of course, thanks again to Hyundai for sponsoring this episode and making it happen. Hopefully, more live shows in the future with them as well.
[01:05:42] Links to all things Ryan Holiday will be on our website in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Remember to use those book links, jordanharbinger.com/books. Transcripts in the show notes, videos up on YouTube. This is a fully professionally produced show with multiple camera angles, so it's a pretty good one if you're going to watch anything on YouTube from this show. It's not just two dudes on webcams. Advertisers, deals, and discount codes, the people that keep the lights on around here, all of those codes and deals are at jordanharbinger.com/deals. And I've said this once, but I'll say it again. Please consider supporting those who support this show. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram, and you can also connect with me on LinkedIn. I love talking with you, whether it's in person or online.
[01:06:20] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using the same systems, software, and tiny habits that I use every single day. It's our Six-Minute Networking course, and that course is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm teaching you how to dig that well before you get thirsty. Build relationships before you need them. And hey, many of the guests on the show, they subscribe and contribute to that course. So come join us and you will be in smart company right where you belong.
[01:06:45] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know a Ryan Holiday fan or somebody who would be interested in what we discussed here in this episode, please do share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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