“It took me 10 years to understand that an interview was more than Meet the Press. Then another 20 [years] to figure out that it was more than sitting down with George Clooney and having the time of my life.” – Cal Fussman
This episode is very special to me and features a verbal Jedi who never gets interviewed himself: Cal Fussman.
The Austin Chronicle has described Cal’s interviewing skills as “peerless.”
He has transformed oral history into an art form, conducting probing interviews with the icons who’ve shaped the last 50 years of world history: Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Jack Welch, Robert DeNiro, Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Dr. Dre, Quincy Jones, Woody Allen, Barbara Walters, Pelé, Yao Ming, Serena Williams, John Wooden, Muhammad Ali, and countless others.
Born in Brooklyn, Cal spent 10 straight years traveling the world, swimming over 18-foot tiger sharks, rolling around with mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and searching for gold in the Amazon. He has also made himself a guinea pig—Cal has boxed against world champion Julio Cesar Chavez and served as a sommelier atop of the World Trade Center. He now lives with his wife—whom he met while on a quest to discover the world’s most beautiful beach—and his three children in Los Angeles, where he spends every morning eating breakfast with Larry King.
If you only have a couple of minutes, listen to this entertaining segment on what it’s like to do shots with Hunter S. Thompson.
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear another podcast from a guest who works behind-the-scenes with some of the world’s most talented people? — Listen to my conversation with Rick Rubin. In this episode, we discuss cultivating world-class artists (Jay Z, Johnny Cash, etc.), losing 100+ pounds, and breaking down the complex (stream below or right-click here to download):
All you need to do to get your free 30-day Audible trial is go to Audible.com/Tim. Choose one of the above books, or choose between more than 180,000 audio programs. That could be a book, a newspaper, a magazine, or even a class. It’s that easy. Go to Audible.com/Tim and get started today. Enjoy!
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What can you do this week to make yourself a better listener? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- The Power Broker by Robert Caro
- The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun
- Read Cal Fussman’s Mikhail Gorbachev interview
- Watch George Foreman win the heavyweight championship
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln by James Humes
- Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore
- Man on Wire by James Marsh
- The Walk by Robert Zemeckis
- Chimpanzee Politics by Frans de Waal
- A Feast of Snakes and Car by Harry Crews
- Read Cal Fussman’s piece in Esquire, Drinking at 1,300 Feet
- Learn more about Cal Fussman:
- Quincy Jones and his unique book signing practice [9:38]
- Cal Fussman’s pivotal childhood moment [10:42]
- Deconstructing the skill of asking great questions [12:28]
- Contrasting interview styles from different life stages [19:53]
- The importance of University of Missouri Journalism and its role on Cal’s career [26:08]
- What it’s like to do shots with Hunter S. Thompson [30:21]
- The story of Cal Fussman’s start in international travel [34:08]
- How a single question could get Cal Fussman 6 months of housing and lodging while traveling [51:53]
- Common mistakes and lessons learned about the art of asking questions [55:19]
- On honing the ability to tell stories [1:05:18]
- What happened at the end of Cal Fussman’s travels, which changed his interviewing style [1:09:13]
- On speaking at Summit at Sea [1:17:33]
- Decoding the art of the interview [1:31:08]
- The story of boxing Julio Cesar Chavez [1:41:22]
- When you think of the word successful, who is the first person who comes to mind and why? [2:20:18]
- What George Foreman did to change Cal [2:29:54]
- Most gifted books [2:34:01]
- Favorite documentaries and movies [2:41:56]
- If you could have a billboard anywhere, what would you put on it and why? [2:48:27]
- Advice to Cal’s 30-year-old-self [2:49:08]
- The story of the time Cal Fussman had writer’s block, and what Harry Crews said that saved him [2:55:30]
- Quincy Jones
- Robert Caro
- Muhammad Ali
- Hunter S. Thompson
- David Halberstam
- Ezra Pound
- Petra Němcová
- Mikhail Gorbachev
- Julio César Chávez
- Alex Banayan
- George Foreman
- Michael Moorer
- Toni Morrison
- Harry Crews