The Penguin Latte Podcast #14 – Andrew Barry on Flow States, Life in South Africa, Good Books, and Living Curiously

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Recording this episode was like frolicking in a bounce house for adults.

Andrew Barry is one of the most humble and joyful people I’ve ever met. He’s completely shattered all of my previous notions about what a CEO “needs” to be: fast-talking, a phone in each hand, scheduling meetings and forgetting their child’s birthday parties. Andrew’s life is proof that no matter how busy you are, there’s always time for a little curiosity. (Or in Andrew’s case, much curiosity.)

So, who is Andrew Barry? He’s the CEO of Curious Lion – a company that helps clients scale and improve their online learning. Andrew is also an avid blogger who writes about creativity, education, decision making, and group learning.

This is a far-reaching and wide ranging conversation, much like Andrew’s own openness to the world and it’s people. We talk Zen philosophy, Aldous Huxley, meditation, writing, music, flow states, life in South Africa, and so, so much more. We could have spent hours talking about every nook and cranny about life and growth. So expect to see Andrew on the podcast again sometime in the future.

Please enjoy!


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The Penguin Latte Podcast #13 – Trace Brady on How to Improve Yourself With the Power of Storytelling

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube

We are always telling ourselves a story. No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape story. It doesn’t matter how scientifically oriented you are, or how many Nassim Taleb books you’ve read. Story is everything.

Story is what moves us. Story is what gets us from point A to point B. When we define our goal, we tell ourselves, “I’m going to move from here to there.” You might think that that’s too small to constitute a story. But that’s exactly what a story is: a traveling from point A to point B.

Today I’m joined by Trace Brady – a natural storyteller. And not only is he phenomenal at telling stories, he’s also mastered the subtle art of showing us the details that matter. I found myself laughing my ass off at some of the stories both big and small that he shared with me in this episode. I had an absolute blast recording this. Trace puts on a real show.

You can reach out to Trace Brady on Twitter at @thetracebrady. And if you fancy yourself a community of fellow storytellers, head on over to The Story Community Learning Center.

You might feel hesitant after seeing the length of this episode. But this is why I do long-form conversations. I give my guests as much time as they need to unravel all of their strange, idiosyncratic thoughts and methods behind their madness. I couldn’t have had such a wonderful episode with Trace if I constrained myself to even an hour of airtime. The 2 hour length was necessary to letting Trace say everything he needed to say.

So, please enjoy! I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation as much as I had recording it. Cheers, and take care.

The Penguin Latte Podcast #12: Shelby Smith on Lessons From Failures, Language Learning, and Having the Courage to Get What You Want

Today I’m joined by the bold and adventurous Shelby Smith.

Shelby Smith (@CoShelbySmith) is head of user onboarding for LingQ. She’s also a writer who discusses leadership, language learning, self-development, and why it it’s important to stand up for yourself to get what you want.

Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Watch on YouTube

Talking Points

  • Shelby’s backstory with the entrepreneurial spirit (2:30)
  • “I’m a day one listener of The Tim Ferriss Show” (6:00)
  • Action is the missing ingredient / Life in Ecuador (9:00)
  • Learning from having a failed business (15:00)
  • “I wrote that I was psychic” / How to handle job interviews if you never went to college (18:00)
  • Suggesting what companies do wrong (35:00)
  • What it was like to go for a year without social media, and all the unexpected changes that came from doing that [I can’t believe this is even a talking point] (41:00)
  • “Build a personal relationship with your ideas” / Experience with Write of Passage (1:00:00)
  • Shelby’s guiding principles (1:07:00)
  • On learning languages (1:15:00)
  • How we elicit meaning in language (1:25:00)
  • What’s the work you do that feels like play? (1:30:00)
  • When was the last time you were in flow? (1:35:00)
  • When do you feel dissatisfied? (1:38:00)
  • The final question (1:42:00)

Books

The Four Hour Workweek

The Art of Learning

Deep Work

Principles

Discipline Equals Freedom

People

Tim Ferriss

Jocko Willink

Josh Waitzkin

Samuel Hulick

Cal Newport

Ray Dalio

Richard Turner

Other

LingQ

Duolingo

The Penguin Latte Podcast #11: Deepu Asok on Meditation, Yoga, Drawing, and Happiness

Meditation is that state where you are no more. Your sense of Self is gone.

If you ask an artist where his work comes from, if he’s a generous artist, he’ll say, ‘I don’t know where it comes.’

Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Watch on YouTube

Deepu Asok is the author and illustrator of the wonderful and enlightening Visual Wisdom newsletter. He’s also the host of a podcast called The Happiness Hypothesis. He’s got a serious eye for designs that pop.

Deepu and I were dming over meditation and spirituality. But he had to get going, and asked to continue our talk over zoom some time. I said sure. And of course, I asked if he wanted to record our talk for the podcast. He said yes. And so, here we are.

Please enjoy my conversation with the wonderful and wise Deepu Asok!

Talking Points

  • On different schools of meditation and yoga (3:00)
  • The benefits of doing yoga before meditation (11:00)
  • Why meditate? (14:00)
  • “Philosophy doesn’t transform you. Practice transform you” (21:00)
  • “The lion is trying to help you, but it doesn’t know how.” (28:00)
  • On Happiness and work (37:00)
  • Three types of work (43:00)
  • Selling on Gumroad (50:00)
  • The differences between drawing and writing (55:00)
  • “You’re paying for the organization of the ideas” / Constraints (1:00:00)
  • Art vs Content (1:07:00)
  • On books and reading (1:16:00)
  • Wishful thinking (1:23:00)
  • Flow in drawing (1:35:00)
  • Constraints (1:40:00)
  • Final questions (1:46:00)

Mentions

Books and articles

Civilized to Death

The Art of Learning

Living Buddha Living Christ

Flow

Linchpin

This Is Marketing

Atomic Habits

Show Your Work!

Getting Things Done

Thinking Fast and Slow

Mind in Motion

Autobiography of a Yogi

Ladders of Wealth Creation

People

Inner Engineering

Thich Nhat Hanh

Carl Jung

Alan Watts

Naval Ravikant

Seth Godin

Nathan Barry

Austin Kleon

Derek Sivers

David Perell

Tiago Forte

Other

Indie Hackers

The Penguin Latte Podcast #10: Salman Ansari on The Lost Art of Having Fun

Every idea you have, every concept, every word, every utterance, every tone…all of that is influenced by those around you anyway. You’ve got to acknowledge that and embrace that and ask, ‘how can I mix those together?’ Each of us is a completely different combination.

Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | YouTube

Salman Ansari (Salman.io) is an illustrator, animator, and author of The Quick Brown Fox Newsletter.

Salman has a heart of gold. I promise that you’ll finish this podcast with more inspiration than you had when you started. He’s one of those rare souls who knows how to do what matters in life without taking himself so seriously. Every time I interact with him, I feel a radiant golden energy enveloping me in a reassurance that it’s okay to be myself. I hope you feel the same way after listening to our conversation. Please enjoy!

Talking Points

  • Giving advice on Twitter (3:00)
  • “Insecurity work” (5:00)
  • Layers in writing (8:00)
  • “The hardest part of writing is talking about myself” (13:00)
  • Aren’t we all polymaths? (20:00)
  • “Being yourself isn’t the most effective growth strategy” (26:00)
  • Salman’s experience with teaching (31:00)
  • Monetization for content creators (35:00)
  • Platforms, communities (41:00)
  • DJ Salman (44:00)
  • “What am I doing right now that would be fun to explore in a new way?” (49:00)
  • Getting inspiration from animation teams and comics (51:00)
  • On web-comics (55:00)
  • Creative constraints (58:00)
  • The benefits of reading older books instead of newer books (1:01:00)
  • Influential video games (1:05:00)
  • Authenticity as a buzzword/ Permission to be yourself (1:10:00)
  • Learning to be comfortable with questions, not answers (1:17:00)
  • Using tools in the right context (1:25:00)
  • Play (1:28:00)
  • Is it irrational to make art? (1:32:00)
  • “What do you mean why?” (1:38:00)
  • Leisure: The Basis of Culture (1:40:00)
  • Meditation (1:45:00)
  • Start with “I don’t know” (1:55:00)
  • Parting thoughts (2:07:00)

Mentions

The Courage to Be Disliked

Don Hertzfeldt

The Polymath Playbook

Status Regulation and Anxious Underconfidence

Spirited Away

Teenage Engineering

Studio MDHR

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

SHEN COMIX

Studio Rare and The Making of Goldeneye 64

Undertale

VVVVVV

Intimations by Zadie Smith

Elizabeth Gilbert

Aldous Huxley

Leisure: The Basis of Culture

Carl Jung

The Penguin Latte Podcast #9: The Austin Calvert MegaEpisode – What It Takes To Be Ferociously Yourself in Your Craft

It’s been so hard for me to keep this episode unreleased until today. I’m so excited that I get to finally share this with you all. This is the longest conversation episode to date. Austin completely and gracefully over delivered on everything I asked him. He’s the first guest to stand up and lean into the microphone during our conversation. I could feel his energy bursting from my screen.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Podcasts | Watch on YouTube

…What I’ve been learning about the Internet is…you can grow exponentially through these scaled networks..but to me, what that means is your real life actions just translate to the Internet. Your real life actions are essentially compounding, right? We don’t really need the Internet to do that. Real life actions in the 1960s could have compounded as well. It’s always been there….

Austin is a true artist in every sense of the word. He’s one of those remarkable individuals who knows how to express art, even when using the most crowded market for creatives on the Internet (YouTube).

If you haven’t watched his mini-documentaries about the future of technology, please do. And if you have, watch them again. I get goosebumps every time I watch one of his videos. Especially this one.

A note on audio: something happened to how my computer was receiving Austin’s audio feed through Zoom. I could have said something during our conversation about this, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the conversation. I’ve been kicking myself over that for weeks. Luckily, Austin was such an amazing guest so everything he says makes up for my mistake.

A note on future podcast episode numbers: I’m resetting the interview episodes. All numbered podcast episodes will signify that the episode is a conversation. All unnumbered episodes will signify that it’s an Akimbo styled episode: a short reading of one of my blog posts, or an improvised riff or story.

Consistent content. Even if you don’t think it’s good.

Talking Points

Austin’s background (3:00)

Learning multiple skills at the same time (8:00)

How much content should creators be pumping out everyday? (10:00)

Going off on the wrong path / A bedridden depression / Living in Berlin /Austin’s travels (11:00)

Experiences with Ayahuasca (If you’ve ever heard The Tim Ferriss show, you know the risks involved with this. Do your research.) (18:00)

“As consensus turns into a form of truth…” (32:00)

Fighting back against the daily darkness (35:00)

What happened after his Ayahuasca trip? / Being relentlessly yourself in your craft (39:00)

On compounding actions without the Internet (42:00)

Why did Austin decide to start making videos? (45:00)

How long does it take Austin to make a video? (48:00)

Thoughts on newsletters (51:00)

Why every creator should see themselves on an exponential curve (54:00)

A huge discussion about the ownership economy (56:00)

Appreciating the work you’ve done so far (1:18:00)

“Speed is a poison” (1:19:00)

Where’s the finish line? (1:23:00)

David Choe (1:25:00)

Staying anonymous (1:30:00)

Leaving your audience with a feeling (1:34:00)

Go beyond the limits of your medium / Austin’s definition of authenticity (1:35:00)

David Foster Wallace – This Is Water (1:48:00)

Austin’s favorite books (1:50:00)

How information itself is transforming with technology (1:55:00)

The real darkness of self-transformation vs “struggle porn” (1:58:00)

Low quality self-improvement advice (2:05:00)

Do we need mentors? / The mass pretending phase (2:08:00)

Lying to yourself on purpose (2:11:00)

Giving back (2:14:00)

Austin convinces me to drop Evernote for Notion (2:18:00)

The Final Question (2:22:00)

Mentions

GaryVee

Naval Ravikant

JRE 958 with Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

Tryroll

Blockchain

Ayahuasca

David Choe on The JRE

David Foster Wallace

Civilized to Death

The War on Normal People

David Goggins

Tony Robbins

Boards of Canada

The Alchemist

A Conversation with Phil Desforges “The goal is not uniqueness, it’s not originality, it’s to be you. That’s the only goal”

Hi all. Welcome to another conversation about the pursuit of creative excellence. I’m so happy that I finally get to share this episode with you! What follows is an intimate, insightful, and entertaining conversation with a true artist — Phil Desforges. I highly recommend you browse through Phil’s portfolio while you listen to this episode.

Talking Points

  • How Phil developed his color palette
  • The art of building a world in your art
  • How photography saved Phil’s life
  • Why men should open up about their feelings
  • Sensitivities to music
  • Why Stoicism is important to Phil
  • Phil’s favorite movies and directors
  • On Casey Neistat
  • Following your gut vs your reasoning
  • The comfort zone and consistency conundrum
  • On Beeple
  • The nuances of creating on certain mediums, thoughts on Tik Tok
  • Getting inspired by the right creators
  • The flaw of originality
  • A message from Pakistan
  • Spending a week without creating
  • Phil’s favorite coffee and tea
  • Memento Mori
  • “The output doesn’t matter; it’s the outcome.”
  • On being bored productively
  • “Less counting, more doing.”
  • The necessary constraint of mortality
  • Sonder and This Is Water
  • We are all living in our own bubble
  • On current world conflicts, and feeling helpless
  • Honing in on the skills you can’t teach
  • On the beauty of flow
  • Why it’s so tough to be natural on camera
  • What modern people are afraid of
  • On geeking out about the things you love, and creating around that
  • Phil’s message for stuck creatives

Mentions in this episode

Salvadar Dali

Casey Neistat

Sonder

This Is Water by David Foster Wallace

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Memento Mori

Symbols of Transformation by Carl Jung

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Beeple

Everything Is Fucked by Mark Manson

John Daub and OnlyinJapan

David Perell

The Penguin Latte Podcast #7: NoxyTango on Accepting Yourself as an Artist, the Emotions of Color, and Old-School Internet Culture

Because of the Internet, I’m more empowered to become better, and I’m able to seek the direction that I’m allowed to seek.

NoxyTango

Do you have any friends that you don’t speak to for more than a decade, and then you pick up right where you left off as if no time passed? That’s the kind of friendship that I have with NoxyTango. About 12 years ago, we met through a game called Runescape. We would spend hours on this game, creating “Runescape music videos,” increasing our fishing lvls, and forming a group of friends that we still keep in touch with to this day. Then, we became adults. And we didn’t have a full conversation until the time of this recording.

Please enjoy my talk with NoxyTango about the struggles of creativity, old-school Internet culture, and how the Internet brings us closer than we can imagine. I had a blast recording this, and I hope you have a blast listening to it.

Here’s a look at some of my favorite pieces by Noxy. I highly recommend you follow her art. It’s going to bring more color to your world (even though I’m about to list only black and white pieces. Sorry, I’m a huge fan of black and white.)

And you can watch her animations by clicking here.

Talking Points:

  • Runescape nostalgia and mid 2000s culture in Noxy’s art (2:00)
  • How Noxy discovered her art style, how colors influence emotion (4:00)
  • Pros and cons of digital art versus non-digital art (6:00)
  • Noxy’s influences (8:00)
  • Being an artist with Aphantasia, on my Synesthesia, and embodiment psychology (9:00)
  • Not being defined by your struggles (23:00)
  • How the Internet creates micro bubbles of community (26:00)
  • Being represented by our artwork, not how we appear in real life (28:00)
  • The dangers of being famous (31:00)
  • How the Internet has impacted her art in a positive way (35:00)
  • Why nice comments are so valuable to an artist (37:00)
  • “You’re good…for a girl” (40:00)
  • Defining masculinity and femininity for yourself (43:00)
  • Noxy’s writing process, and her upcoming novel (45:00)
  • NaNoWriMo (48:00)
  • The last time Noxy was in flow (50:00)
  • On rejection (55:00)
  • Noxy’s message for those who are stuck (58:00)

Show Notes

Synesthesia

Aphantasia

Nanowrimo

Embodiment Psychology

Brene Brown on vulnerability

Tim Ferriss on the dangers of fame

The Penguin Latte Podcast #6: Pranav Mutatkar on His Petri Dish of Inspiration

Today, I’m joined by the wonderful Pranav Mutatkar (@pranavmutatkar). His newsletter, Your Lazy Sunday blends together art, music, comedy, and culture. It’s an intellectual treat for those of us who prefer not to take ourselves so seriously. Highly recommended.

We spent about half this episode geeking out about our favorite directors, psychoanalysts, philosophers, writers, thinkers, newsletters, and comedians. Pranav has much to say on achieving our goals with as little effort as possible. And if that seems completely counterintuitive to the usual approach, that’s because it is. And guess what? It works. Pranav’s life is proof of that.

Please enjoy!

What you really want to do is transition from it being lazy for you, to it being lazy for your audience, for your customers.

Pranav Mutatkar

Talking Points:

  • Living in San diego, beer culture (2:00)
  • The brilliance of Bill Watterson (4:00)
  • “A petri dish from extremely diverse places” (6:00)
  • Can we really be ourselves all the time? (12:00)
  • Pranav’s favorite directors (15:00)
  • The interplay of the movies “Her” and “Lost in Translation” (16:00)
  • Pranav’s philosophy of laziness (17:00)
  • Geeking out about Carl Jung, the Shadow, Jordan Peterson, Nietzsche, and Kanye West (19:00)
  • Pranav’s experience with Building a Second Brain with Tiago Forte (40:00)
  • Pranav’s course on lazy habits (43:00)
  • Getting comfortable on camera, starting small when you’re starting out (43:00)
  • A big riff on perfectionism (54:00)
  • Failing before you’re big (1:01:00)
  • “Translating the untranslatable” (1:04:00)
  • The Theory of Constructed Emotions (1:11:00)
  • The struggle of going deep on ideas in a world of “get to the point” (1:14:00)
  • On why we need comedy (1:19:00)
  • Being inspired by fiction writers (1:22:00)
  • Being interested in many subjects (1:27:00)
  • Pranav’s message for people who want to understand themselves on a deeper level (1:37:00)

Mentions in this episode

Her

Lost in Translation

Carl Jung

Symbols of Transformation

Jordan Peterson

Friedrich Nietzsche

Kanye West (do I really need to link this?)

The Tree of Life

Building A Second Brain

Rise of The Full Stack Freelancer

Carseat Headrest

Captain Sinbad

The Theory of Constructed Emotions

Dave Chapelle

How to write like Hunter S. Thompson

Sam Harris

The Penguin Latte Podcast #5: Audrey Hebert On Laughing at The Sliminess of The Human Condition

[A note on audio: this was recorded in my room. I only have one mic. This was the best that I could do given my current equipment and setup. In retrospect, we could have leaned into the mic, but I wasn’t thinking about that. So, pardon that.]

Hey guys, welcome to another episode of The Penguin Latte Podcast! Today I’m joined by my girlfriend, Audrey Hebert. Audrey is a stand-up comedian and visual artist. In 2019, she won the funniest student contest at UC Santa Cruz. She’s one of those comedians that makes us laugh at the sliminess of the human condition. Seeing her perform always reminds me not to take myself too seriously. What I’ve learned from her comedy routine is that we are all just pissing, shitting, slimey, smelly monkeys in space who have no clue about anything.

You can find Audrey Hebert’s art on her Instagram page by clicking here.

“Sometimes you just have to do things that will make you feel like pure shit in order to get to do the things you want, and to get to a place to where you feel comfortable.”

Audrey Hebert

Talking Points:

  • Our favorite passage from The War of Art (3:00)
  • Time slots in stand-up comedy (6:00)
  • Dealing with hecklers (12:00)
  • Being inspired from local comedians (17:00)
  • Why being yourself on stage is important (21:00)
  • Gary Goleman’s gigantic list of tips for comedians (22:00)
  • Leaning into your intuition as a way to find your true fans (24:00)
  • The element of surprise in comedy (and cooking) (25:00)
  • Writing jokes on the day of the show (27:00)
  • The one Google Doc of Jokes (31:00)
  • On writing and drawing (34:00)
  • Cringing at our old work (37:00)
  • Strangest places for comedic inspiration (40:00)
  • Crowdworking (43:00)
  • A comedian who asked her parents to heckle her (45:00)
  • Why certain types of comedy age badly (47:00)
  • The Monty Python Debate (48:00)
  • On Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld (49:00)
  • On the brilliance of Nathan Fielder (50:00)
  • On the brilliance of Niel Cicierega and Nathan Fielder (57:00)
  • Why we need comedy (1:00:00)
  • Audrey’s message for people who want to get started in stand-up comedy… (1:13:00)
  • …and for getting better at performing in front of people (1:15:00)
  • Parting words of encouragement for those who are stuck (1:20:00)

Show Notes

The War of Art

Nathan Fielder

Monty Python

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Niel Cicierega

Gary Goleman’s 366 Tips for Comedians (Much of this applies to more than stand-up comedy. See, The War of Art, Mark Twain quotes, and other names I’m sure you’ll recognize.)