Stewart Brand – The Polymath of Polymaths

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“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” – Stewart Brand

Stewart Brand (@stewartbrand) is the president of The Long Now Foundation, established to foster long-term thinking and responsibility. He leads a project called Revive & Restore, which seeks to bring back extinct animal species such as the passenger pigeon and woolly mammoth.

Stewart is very well known for founding, editing, and publishing The Whole Earth Catalog (WEC), which changed my life when I was a little kid. It also received a national book award for its 1972 issue.

Stewart is the co-founder of The WELL and The Global Business Network, and author of Whole Earth Discipline, The Clock Of The Long Now, How Buildings Learn, and The Media Lab. He was trained in biology at Stanford and served as an infantry officer in the US Army.

I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did!

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Want to hear another conversation with a fascinating polymath?  Listen to this episode with Kevin Kelly, in which we discuss population implosions, The Long Now Foundation, organizational methods for learning, and much more? — Listen to them here (stream below or right-click to download part 1 | part 2 | part 3):

Ep 25: Kevin Kelly - WIRED Co-Founder, Polymath, Most Interesting Man In The World

Ep 26: Kevin Kelly (Part 2) - WIRED Co-Founder, Polymath, Most Interesting Man In The World?

Ep 27: Kevin Kelly (Part 3) - WIRED Co-Founder, Polymath, Most Interesting Man In The World?


This podcast is brought to you by Peloton, which has become a staple of my daily routine. I picked up this bike after seeing the success of my friend Kevin Rose, and I’ve been enjoying it more than I ever imagined. Peloton is an indoor cycling bike that brings live studio classes right to your home. No worrying about fitting classes into your busy schedule or making it to a studio with a crazy commute.

New classes are added every day, and this includes options led by elite NYC instructors in your own living room. You can even live stream studio classes taught by the world’s best instructors, or find your favorite class on demand.

Peloton is offering listeners to this show a special offer. Visit onepeloton.com and enter the code TIM at checkout to receive $100 off accessories with your Peloton bike purchase. This is a great way to get in your workouts, or an incredible gift. Again, that’s onepeloton.com and enter the code TIM.

This podcast is also brought to you by Four SigmaticI reached out to these Finnish entrepreneurs after a very talented acrobat introduced me to one of their products, which blew my mind (in the best way possible). It is mushroom coffee featuring chaga. It tastes like coffee, but there are only 40 milligrams of caffeine, so it has less than half of what you would find in a regular cup of coffee. I do not get any jitters, acid reflux, or any type of stomach burn. It put me on fire for an entire day, and I only had half of the packet.

People are always asking me what I use for cognitive enhancement right now — this is the answer. You can try it right now by going to foursigmatic.com/tim and using the code Tim to get 20 percent off your first order. If you are in the experimental mindset, I do not think you’ll be disappointed.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

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6 Short Life Lessons From Terry Crews

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Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

The below profile is adapted from the new book, Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World, which features practical and detailed advice from 130+ of the world’s top performers. Enjoy!

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Terry Crews (@terrycrews, terrycrews.com) is an actor and former NFL player (Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins, and Philadelphia Eagles). His wide-ranging credits include the original viral Old Spice commercials, television series such as The Newsroom, Arrested Development, and Everybody Hates Chris, and films including White Chicks, the Expendables franchise, Bridesmaids, and The Longest Yard. He now stars on the Golden Globe Award–winning Fox sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine. In 2014, Terry released his autobiography, Manhood: How to Be a Better Man — or Just Live with One.

What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel. I have read hundreds of personal development books, but this is the one that clearly showed me how to visualize, contemplate, and focus on what it was I truly wanted. It revealed to me that we only get what we desire most, and to apply myself with a laserlike focus upon a goal, task, or project. That in order to “have” you must “do,” and in order to “do” you must “be” — and this process is immediate. Although it takes time for these desires to manifest in our material world, you must see the thing you desire as completed, finished, and real, now. The better you can do this, the more you can accomplish. I have bought several copies of this book and distributed it to family and friends. I also reread it probably once a month to keep my vision clear.

Two more are Viktor E. Frankl’s incredible Man’s Search for Meaning and David McRaney’s You Are Not So Smart. Both books are absolutely essential to me in order to keep my perspectives correct in a changing world.

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

1986. It was my senior year in high school at Flint Academy in Flint, Michigan. I was the starting center for our class C basketball team. We had a great team that year, and we were expected to go very far, if not all the way, in the state playoffs. We faced Burton Atherton in the district final, and we were expected to trounce them, but they tried something we’d never seen before. They didn’t play. They would bring the ball down the court and just pass it back and forth at the top of the key. There was no shot clock, so they did this forever. The only time we scored was when we managed to steal the ball. But our coach, for some reason, decided we were going to let them do it. I remember standing there, with my hands raised in zone defense, watching them hold the ball without even attempting to shoot. I was frustrated, and every attempt I made to step out of the zone was rebuffed by our coach. This method was working for them, because with only five seconds left on the game clock, they were up 47-45.

One of their players made a mistake and tried a long pass cross court and I stole the ball. I desperately dribbled the entire length of the court . . . 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 . . . for our only chance to win. I missed. Their fans go crazy, as it was the biggest upset of the year, and I collapse in a heap, thinking my life is over. The coach afterward told the whole team that I had no business taking that shot and I should have passed it to our star player. It was in the paper the next day that I failed, and I was ridiculed by students and teachers alike. I was beyond crushed. A dark cloud covered me everywhere I went as I internalized the loss.

A few days later, as the fog of failure began to lift, I remember having a rare time alone in my room (I usually shared it with my brother). As I sat in the silence, another thought pierced through my sadness. “I took the shot.” It was invigorating, even exciting. “Hey, when all the chips were on the line, you didn’t leave your future up to others, YOU TOOK YOUR SHOT.” Instantly I felt free and in control. I knew from then on that I could have the courage to fail on my own terms. From that moment, I decided that if I was going to succeed or fail, it was going to be up to me. I was changed forever.

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?

“God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love this quote because it is all about defeating fear. Every great and extraordinary accomplishment in this world was done through courage. Hell, you don’t even get to be born unless your mother has the courage to have you. I repeat this phrase when I’m anxious or nervous about something. I ask myself, what’s the worst that can happen. Usually, the answer is, “You can die.” Then I answer back, “I’d rather die doing something I feel is great and amazing rather than be safe and comfortable living a life I hate.” I talk to myself a lot, and this quote helps me sort out my fears and deal with them. The more you run from your fears, the bigger they get, but the more you go into them, the more they tend to vanish like a mirage.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

There is a big difference between intelligence and wisdom. Many are fooled into thinking they are the same thing, but they are not. I have seen intelligent serial killers, but I’ve never seen a wise one. Intelligent human beings have been given this trumped-up position in society where, just because they’re intelligent, they are to be listened to, and I have found this is extremely dangerous. I was in a Christian cult along with other very intelligent people but, looking back, if I had heeded wisdom, I would have seen we were all on the wrong path. Intelligence is like following a GPS route right into a body of water until you drown. Wisdom looks at the route but, when it takes a turn into the ocean, decides not to follow it, then finds a new, better way. Wisdom reigns supreme.

Ignore any advice that tells you you are going to miss something. Every mistake I have ever made in business, marriage, and personal conduct was because I thought if I didn’t do or get this now, it was never going to happen. It’s like most clubs in LA. The trick is to keep the line long at the door, while the club itself is empty. The “aura of exclusivity” is really code for “bad atmosphere.” To do what you desire to do, you have all you need.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

“Work hard to beat the competition.” The truth is that competition is the opposite of creativity. If I am working hard to beat the competition, it actually prevents me from thinking creatively to make all concepts of competition obsolete. As a football player, I was told to work hard to compete against the other team, some perceived future threat (new draftees, age, or injury), and even my current teammates. As an actor, you are told to look a certain way or do things you don’t agree with in order to “compete.” This competitive mindset destroys people. It’s the scorched-earth way of thinking, and everyone is burned.

The truth is that you need the success of everyone in your field in order to achieve your own success. Creativity operates differently. You work hard because you’re inspired to, not because you have to. Work becomes fun, and you have energy for days because this life is not a “young man’s game.” It is an “inspired person’s game.” The keys belong to whoever is inspired, and no specific age, sex, gender, or cultural background has a monopoly on inspiration. When you’re creative, you render competition obsolete, because there is only one you, and no one can do things exactly the way you do. Never worry about the competition. When you’re creative, you can, in fact, cheer others on with the full knowledge that their success will undoubtedly be your own.

In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to? What new realizations and/or approaches helped?

I realized that I had to let people leave my life, never to return. Every relationship I have in my life, from family and friends to business partners, must be a voluntary relationship. My wife can leave at any time. Family members can call me or not. Business partners can decide to move on, and it’s all okay. But the same is true on my end. If I say I’m ready to move on and someone doesn’t accept that, now we have a problem. I remember trying to move on from a very close friend because he was displaying behaviors I wasn’t comfortable with. Soon after, I received a letter by certified mail, threatening me with a lawsuit for over a million dollars because of the demise of our “friendship.” It was ridiculous and it still is, so I actually framed the letter as a reminder of the necessity of letting people go and moving on. One approach I use is imaginary great-grandchildren. I talk to them all the time. I ask them about decisions and relationships and whether or not to continue them. They tend to speak loud and clear. “Grandpa, you shouldn’t do this, or you need to leave these people alone because we will be affected negatively, or worse, we won’t exist.” Those moments show me that this whole thing is bigger than me. It’s the realization that there is a “will to pleasure,” a “will to power” and, in the words of Viktor Frankl, a “will to meaning.” You won’t take a bullet for pleasure or power, but you will for meaning. So you sometimes have to do what I call a “crowd-thinner.” One wrong person in your circle can destroy your whole future. It’s that important.

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The above was taken from Tribe of Mentors, which shares short, tactical life advice from 130+ world-class performers from every imaginable field. Many of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, and artists are part of the book.

Get Tribe of Mentors at these fine retailers or at your local bookstore!  Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Apple iBooks | Books-A-Million | Indigo

Here’s a partial list of people included: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and roughly 100 more. Click here to see the full list, sample chapters, and more.

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The Erotic Playbook of a Top-Earning Sex Worker (NSFW)

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“Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.”
-Mae West

Alice Little (@thealicelittle) is considered the #1 top-earning legal sex worker in the United States. She is a 4’8″ legal sex worker at Nevada’s world famous Moonlite Bunny Ranch.  This episode is definitely not suitable for work (NSFW).

In this wide-ranging episode, we cover a lot of ground, including:
  • Technical sex tips
  • How Alice puts people at ease, including adult virgins
  • BDSM and power play
  • Threesome do’s and don’ts, plus the “Big KO” finishing move
  • Her music playlist for getting people into the erotic zone
  • Misconceptions about sex workers and the realities
  • Why “The Girlfriend Experience (GFE)” is her most popular offering
  • How she works with couples who want to explore new boundaries
Alice is also a vocal advocate for legal sex workers and the founder of the political movement “Hookers for Healthcare.” Featured on ABC’s Nightline, Alice is no stranger to the conversation of sex surrogacy and seeks to shift America’s perceptions of sex workers and sex work.
Enjoy!

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The Erotic Playbook of a Top-Earning Sex Worker (NSFW)

Want to hear another episode about sex? — Listen to her my interview with Esther Perel. In this conversation, we discuss polyamory, why happy people cheat, how to find (and convince) mentors who can change your life, what she’s learned from Holocaust survivors, and much more (stream below or right-click here to download):

#241: The Relationship Episode: Sex, Love, Polyamory, Marriage, and More (with Esther Perel)


This episode is brought to you by LegalZoom. I’ve used this service for many of my businesses, as have quite a few of the icons on this podcast — such as Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg of WordPress fame.

LegalZoom is a reliable resource that more than a million people have already trusted for everything from setting up wills, proper trademark searches, forming LLCs, setting up non-profits, or finding simple cease-and-desist letter templates.

LegalZoom is not a law firm, but it does have a network of independent attorneys available in most states who can give you advice on the best way to get started, provide contract reviews, and otherwise help you run your business with complete transparency and up-front pricing. Check out LegalZoom.com and enter promo code TIM at checkout today to save 15%, and see how the fine folks there can make life easier for you and your business.

This podcast is also brought to you by WordPress.com, my go-to platform for 24/7-supported, zero downtime blogging, writing online, creating websites — everything! I love it to bits, and the lead developer, Matt Mullenweg, has appeared on this podcast many times.

Whether for personal use or business, you’re in good company with WordPress.com — used by The New Yorker, Jay Z, Beyonce, FiveThirtyEight, TechCrunch, TED, CNN, and Time, just to name a few. A source at Google told me that WordPress offers “the best out-of-the-box SEO imaginable,” which is probably why it runs nearly 30% of the Internet. Go to WordPress.com/Tim to get 15% off your website today!

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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The Most Curious Man in Hollywood — Brian Grazer

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“‘Good enough’ equals shitty.”
– Brian Grazer

Brian Grazer (@BrianGrazer) is an Academy Award-winning producer and New York Times bestselling author (A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, with Charles Fishman) who has been making movies and television programs for more than 25 years. Grazer and his longtime friend and business partner Ron Howard began their collaboration in 1985 on the hit comedies Nightshift and Splash, and in 1986 they founded Imagine Entertainment.

In 2002, Grazer won an Oscar for Best Picture for A Beautiful Mind (shared with Ron Howard). In 2007, he was named one of Times “100 Most Influential People in the World.” His films and TV series have been nominated for 43 Academy Awards and 131 Emmys.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Brian’s “supertool” that helped him get ahead in business.
  • How to pitch people to create opportunity.
  • Favorite failures and lessons learned.
  • Brian’s criteria for choosing what movies to make.
  • How to develop better decision-making abilities.
  • And much, much more.

This episode was recorded in front of a live, sold-out audience of about 2,000 people at Summit LA17 in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

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The Most Curious Man in Hollywood — Brian Grazer

Want to hear another podcast with a brilliant producer? — Listen to my conversation with Vince Vaughn. In this episode, we discuss stories of his early beginnings, how to negotiate, his cold-calling career, and important decisions he’s made as a producer, an artist, and a businessperson (stream below or right-click here to download):



This podcast is brought to you by MeUndies. I’ve spent the last year wearing underwear from these guys 24/7, and they are the most comfortable and colorful underwear I’ve ever owned. MeUndies are designed in L.A. and made from sustainably sourced MicroModal — a fabric three times softer than cotton. Even better, it includes free shipping.

If you don’t love your first pair of MeUndies, they’ll hook you up with a new pair or a refund. If you love the product, they have three different subscription plans — so you’ll never be bored with the ever-changing selection. Check out MeUndies.com/Tim to see my current faves and get 20 percent off your first pair. That’s MeUndies.com/Tim.

This podcast is also brought to you by FreshBooksFreshBooks is the #1 cloud bookkeeping software, which is used by a ton of the start-ups I advise and many of the contractors I work with. It is the easiest way to send invoices, get paid, track your time, and track your clients.

FreshBooks tells you when your clients have viewed your invoices, helps you customize your invoices, track your hours, automatically organize your receipts, have late payment reminders sent automatically and much more.

Right now you can get a free month of complete and unrestricted use. You do not need a credit card for the trial. To claim your free month and see how the brand new Freshbooks can change your business, go to FreshBooks.com/Tim and enter “Tim” in the “how did you hear about us” section.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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Tim O’Reilly – The Trend Spotter

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“Money is like gas during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations.” – Tim O’Reilly

Tim O’Reilly (@timoreilly) is one of the most fascinating polymaths I’ve ever encountered. Wired has called him “the trend spotter” in the world of tech and macrotrends.

Tim is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc. His original business plan was pretty simple: “interesting work for interesting people,” and that’s worked out pretty well. His company has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue doing everything from online learning, book publishing, running conferences, urging companies to create more value than they capture, and trying to change the world by spreading and amplifying the knowledge of innovators.

In ’93, Tim launched the first commercial website. In ’98, he organized the meeting where the term “open source software” was agreed upon and helped the business world understand its emerging importance. Tim has now turned his attention and is very focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its implications, the on-demand economy, and other technologies that are transforming the nature of work and the future shape of the business world.

His new book is WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us. Enjoy!

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Want to hear another conversation with a futurist? Listen to my interviews with Kevin Kelly. In this 3-part conversation, we discuss population implosions, The Long Now Foundation, organizational methods for learning, and much more. Listen to them here (stream below or right-click to download part 1 | part 2 | part 3):

Ep 25: Kevin Kelly - WIRED Co-Founder, Polymath, Most Interesting Man In The World

Ep 26: Kevin Kelly (Part 2) - WIRED Co-Founder, Polymath, Most Interesting Man In The World?

Ep 27: Kevin Kelly (Part 3) - WIRED Co-Founder, Polymath, Most Interesting Man In The World?


This podcast is brought to you by Peloton, which has become a staple of my daily routine. I picked up this bike after seeing the success of my friend Kevin Rose, and I’ve been enjoying it more than I ever imagined. Peloton is an indoor cycling bike that brings live studio classes right to your home. No worrying about fitting classes in your busy schedule or making it to a studio with a crazy commute.

New classes are added every day, and this includes options led by elite NYC instructors in your own living room. You can even live stream studio classes taught by the world’s best instructors, or find your favorite class on demand.

Peloton is offering listeners to this show a special offer. Visit onepeloton.com and enter the code “TIM” at checkout to receive $100 off accessories with your Peloton bike purchase. This is a great way to get in your workouts, or an incredible gift. Again, that’s onepeloton.com and enter the code TIM.  

This podcast is also brought to you by ZipRecruiter. One of the hardest parts about growing any business is finding and hiring the right team. Nothing can drain your resources and cost you time and money like making mistakes in hiring.

ZipRecruiter developed its own system and platform for helping solve two of the biggest bottlenecks for employers: posting jobs easily and making it even easier to find the best candidates. More than 80 percent of jobs posted return qualified candidates based on your criteria in just 24 hours. As a listener to this show, you can give it a try for free at ziprecruiter.com/tim!

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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Sharon Salzberg, World-Renowned Meditation Teacher

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“Do the good that’s in front of you, even if it feels very small.”
– Sharon Salzberg

Sharon Salzberg (@SharonSalzberg) is a central figure in the field of meditation, a world-renowned teacher, and New York Times bestselling author.

Sharon has played a crucial role in bringing meditation and mindfulness practices to the West and into mainstream culture since 1974, when she first began teaching. She is the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, and she has written ten books — from her seminal Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness to her latest, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection.

Sharon offers a secular and modern approach to Buddhist teachings, making them more accessible. She is a regular columnist for On Being, a contributor to Huffington Post, and the host of her own podcast: The Metta Hour.

Please enjoy!

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Sharon Salzberg, World-Renowned Meditation Teacher

Want to hear another podcast about meditation? In this episode, we hear from Chase Jarvis as he explains his top priorities for feeling fulfilled. I talk transcendental meditation with Arnold Schwarzenegger. And I cover a wide spectrum with Sam Harris, and ask him about everything from hallucinogens to meditation techniques (stream below or right-click here to download):

#201: The Tim Ferriss Radio Hour: Meditation, Mindset, and Mastery


This podcast is brought to you by ConvertKit. This my go-to email service provider and the only email tool that has made email marketing intuitive for my team without sacrificing any of the features and benefits I need to run a profitable business. It’s got easy-to-use systems, split testing, resending technology, automation, targeted content, high rates of deliverability, integration with more than 35 services — like WordPress, Shopify, and Sumo — and excellent customer service.

Whether you have a thousand subscribers or a million, whether you run a simple blog or a whole company, ConvertKit has a plan that’s scaled to fit your budget and requirements. Go to ConvertKit.com/Tim to try it out and get your first month for free! Test the platform, kick the tires, and make sure it works for you and your business.

This podcast is also brought to you by Four SigmaticI reached out to these Finnish entrepreneurs after a very talented acrobat introduced me to one of their products, which blew my mind (in the best way possible). It is mushroom coffee featuring chaga. It tastes like coffee, but there are only 40 milligrams of caffeine, so it has less than half of what you would find in a regular cup of coffee. I do not get any jitters, acid reflux, or any type of stomach burn. It put me on fire for an entire day, and I only had half of the packet.

People are always asking me what I use for cognitive enhancement right now — this is the answer. You can try it right now by going to foursigmatic.com/tim and using the code Tim to get 20 percent off your first order. If you are in the experimental mindset, I do not think you’ll be disappointed.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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Terry Laughlin, The Master Who Changed My Life

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“Life is not designed to make things easy for us, but present challenges that help us grow.”
– Terry Laughlin

This episode is special to me. While I didn’t know it at the time, this ended up being  Terry Laughlin’s (@TISWIM) final long-form interview. Terry passed away from cancer complications on October 20, just two weeks after we recorded this interview.

Terry was the founder of Total Immersion Swimming and co-author of Total Immersion: The Revolutionary Way To Swim Better, Faster, and Easier. He had a profound impact on me — teaching me to overcome a lifelong fear of water and swimming (read all about it here). But more than that, he’s been an inspiration for the way I’ve done anything since.

Terry coached three college and two USA Swimming club teams from 1973 to 1988, improving each team dramatically. In that time, he developed 24 national champions at all strokes and distances — the first national champions produced by four different teams.

In 1989, Terry founded Total Immersion Swimming and turned his focus from working with young, accomplished swimmers to adults with little experience or skill (like me). But it’s not just about swimming; Terry’s elegant method of deconstruction and logical progression is the epitome of what I strive to do when I’m talking about learning any skill — from investing to learning languages.

It’s with a heavy heart but much gratitude that I was able to interview Terry before he passed.  Please enjoy, savor, and digest what Terry had to impart. And be sure to check out Terry’s gift for listeners of this podcast: a free seven-day membership to the Total Immersion Academy online training center.

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

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