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.
When I asked listeners for questions to present to Cal during this return appearance, about 70 percent of you replied with some version of: “He is my favorite storyteller of all time. Please just let him talk for another four hours!”
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I never get tired of talking to Cal. He’s such an incredible storyteller.
If you only have 5 minutes, you’ll want to hear Cal’s favorite interview questions that usually get a great response.
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear my first episode with Cal Fussman? — In this episode, we discuss Cal’s interviews with the most influential people in history, how he made himself a guinea pig (Cal boxed against world champion Julio Cesar Chavez), and his best life lessons (stream below or right-click here to download):
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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…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Connect with Cal Fussman:
- The Interview Master: Cal Fussman and the Power of Listening (Cal’s last appearance on this show)
- The Piano Has Been Drinking [Not Me] by Tom Waits
- Did Muhammad Ali Throw His Olympic Gold Medal into the Ohio River? Sports Detectives, Smithsonian Channel
- “Just Take Me to Jail:” Remembering Muhammad Ali’s Refusal to Fight in Vietnam by Democracy Now! (video)
- Social Confrontation: The Battle of Michigan Ave — 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention footage via Chicago Film Archives (video)
- The Rumble in the Jungle (George Foreman vs. Muhammad Ali, 1974)
- Muhammad Ali’s Astounding Bursts of Physical Brilliance by Cal Fussman, Esquire
- What is Parkinson’s Disease? Parkinson’s Disease Foundation
- Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier: A brutal trilogy by Greg Logan, Newsday
- Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes by Frans de Waal
- Muhammad Ali: Robert Lipsyte on the Life of the Greatest, Time
- Drinking at 1,300 Ft: A 9/11 Story About Wine and Wisdom by Cal Fussman, Esquire
- Wynn’s Bartolotta Becomes Costa Di Mare by Andy Wang, Las Vegas Weekly
- Barrel saunas
- A Distasteful Encounter with William F. Buckley Jr. by Gore Vidal, Esquire
- 300 Things We Didn’t Know About Gerard Butler by Cal Fussman
- The 75 Movies Every Man Should See, Esquire
- Inside the Actors Studio
- What I’m like when I drink Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea
- Cal Fussman prescribes Tom Waits for Molly. [08:16]
- To Cal, Muhammad Ali’s death was “like having your childhood end when you’re in your fifties.” [08:55]
- Cal talks about what made Ali unique — especially in the context of the ’60s. [10:04]
- Cal talks about getting to know Ali. [17:29]
- Ali was a hero for heroes. [21:34]
- Contrasting Ali’s childhood training regimen with that of rival Joe Frazier. [26:38]
- The teamwork of Ali and cornerman Drew Bundini Brown. [31:07]
- The best time for an interviewer to ask the toughest questions. [32:41]
- Muhammad Ali vs. Cal Fussman [32:50]
- Is there a Muhammad Ali for millennials? [40:47]
- What kind of ice cream did Ali share with Cal? [47:54]
- When you’re writing an obituary for your hero and dear friend, too many words still aren’t enough. [48:09]
- Ali’s definition of evil. [51:33]
- Cal is lucky enough to have breakfast with another one of his heroes almost every morning. [54:33]
- Cal tells us about the time his friend saved his life by making a camera under his shirt look like a gun to fake out troublemakers in Brazil. [56:14]
- An interesting story from the James Beard Foundation awards. [1:08:12]
- Cal’s worst interview — and the aftermath. [1:15:51]
- How Cal’s writing style makes it impossible for an interview subject to lie to him. [1:27:04]
- How Larry King’s casual, conversational interviewing style differs from Cal’s. [1:27:43]
- Cal interviews a guy named “Gerry” for an Esquire cover story. [1:28:28]
- How Fidel Castro deals with difficult reporters. [1:39:10]
- What I learned from James Lipton’s interviewing style. [1:41:06]
- Interviewers Cal greatly admires. [1:42:03]
- Interview questions that get consistently good results (and a few that would likely get bad results). [1:46:01]
- How a dinner party game, Jackie Gleason, and Frank Sinatra helped Larry King in the beginning of his broadcasting career. [1:51:35]
- Developing friendships vs. getting “good tape” from interviews. [1:56:21]
- Cal’s “jukebox” style of preparing for an interview. [1:59:04]
- Best strategies to get to the heart while interviewing? [2:04:12]
- Tom Waits
- Muhammad Ali
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Robert F. Kennedy
- Joe Frazier
- George Foreman
- Lonnie Ali
- Howard Bingham
- Nelson Mandela
- Rudy Clay (aka Rahman Ali)
- Frank Sinatra
- Drew Bundini Brown
- Julio César Chávez
- Bernie Sanders
- Cus D’Amato
- Mike Tyson
- Elon Musk
- Robert Lipsyte
- Larry King
- Ted Allen
- Paul Bartolotta
- Kevin “The Manager” Hekmat
- William F. Buckley, Jr.
- Jorge Ramos
- Donald Trump
- Gerard Butler
- Megan Fox
- Fidel Castro
- James Lipton
- Barbara Walters
- Charlie Rose
- Matt Lauer
- Jackie Gleason
- Neil Strauss
- Oprah Winfrey
- Edward Norton
- Jon Snow
- Jocko Willink
- Leonardo DiCaprio
- Laird Hamilton
- Rick Rubin
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.