The Penguin Latte Podcast #15 – John Daub on Hard Work, Happiness, and The Spirit of Fun

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube

I’ve never watched Fight Club.

But I have seen so many episodes of Only In Japan with John Daub that it’s worrying my family.

John Daub (@OnlyinJAPANtv) is the producer, writer, designer, marketer, director, set designer, orchestrator and mastermind behind my all-time favorite YouTube series — Only in Japan with John Daub. He’s one of the hardest working creative people that I’ve ever met. Seriously, he fills all the roles I listed above. Watch eight seconds of one of his videos and you’ll soon see how much work this guy pours into his craft.

But what’s more important than John’s work ethic is his mission to bring smiles to the faces of his audience. As dramatic as this sounds, this episode changed me. The more I listen to it, the more I understand that what matters more than your own happiness is the happiness of the people you serve with your work. The way that John intonates his words when he’s telling his stories, or while speaking in normal conversation, is so magical and brilliant. John is raising the spiritual bar high for all creative people. If your work isn’t bringing you a sense of meaning, then you need to find something else to do. Make something that excites you as much as John gets excited about Japan.

If you can tell a good story, you will always have a job.

John Daub

Show us something strange or weird or something beyond all comprehension! And don’t be shy! Use as many exclamation marks as you want. Learn the tricks of the trade, the rules, the restrictions. And then break them. Break them down because you’ve mastered the art of self-expression.

But know that it’s going to be work. A lot of work. John works full-time on OnlyinJapan. Choosing what to work on matters more than hard work for hard work’s sake. Doing what you love might seem like fun and games, but more often than not, it’s a lot of flailing around in the dark. The cure? Have fun with it! Be silly, express yourself, and don’t be afraid to come up with material on the spot. You don’t need to have everything planned out beforehand. John Daub’s massive collection of videos is a living playbook on how to create content that delights an audience. The secret ingredient? It’s all in the story.

Please enjoy!


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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 #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

Solve or signal?

Are we building to signal how many bricks we’ve laid?

Or are we building because we see a problem that needs solving?

Measurements are necessary, of course. The architect needs to know the proper amount of all the materials and the cost of each.

But we always have the option of turning measurements into signals of our influence.

A friend of mine pointed out that we shake our heads at anyone who flaunts their income. But when we see people we like signaling how much they’ve earned off of their products, we let it slide. We become enablers of the behaviors we shake our heads at. Because they’re doing it “holistically.” They’re sharing their secrets to success in under 280 characters. To us, we feel like we’re part of their journey. Because if they can build something with only a few viral messages, so can we, right?

As creatives, as builders of remarkable things, we have a choice: solve or signal?

This might sound stupid, but

it’s not.

Let yourself say the stupid thing. As long as you’re not being offensive for the sake of being offensive, you’re fine.

I flinch when I hear myself editing my words out loud. This happens either before or after I speak. Sometimes both. “This might sound stupid, but…” or, “that sounded so…”

But when I watch myself being authentically stupid, without hesitation or self-editing, that’s when I start smiling. I’m not smiling because I enjoy hearing myself saying stupid things. I’m smiling because I wasn’t holding back. I was fully present in my stupidity.

Authenticity doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t apologize for saying something unwarranted. Authenticity means no hesitation, no editing.

When you’re editing live in front of somebody, you’re no longer present in the conversation. You’re in the future when you start with “this might sound…” and you’re in the past when you say “that sounded so…” But you’re in the present when you say the stupid thing. There is no ego in the present. Only your stupid Self.

Speaking mode, listening mode, writing mode. All for the present.

Be here now, be authentic, be stupid.