#9 Fix It Shorts Productivity: Charles Duhigg's Top 4 Tips

This episode highlights four key productivity fixes from New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Duhigg. His most recent book is "Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and In Business." Charles is also the author of "The Power of Habit."

Using cutting-edge science, reporting and real-life stories, Charles explains why being productive isn't just about daily habits, routines and lists.

"Keeping your eye on that thing that matters most to you is the secret to success," Charles tells us. "We need a mental model: a story we tell ourselves about how we expect our day to unfold."

Solutions:  Top 4 productivity tips:

  1. See emails as suggestions, not as obligations.  Be proactive rather than reactive with email.  You don't have to respond to all of them or get to a zero in-box. 
  2. To-do lists should be much more than random reminders.  Put your top priority or today or this week at the top of your list. 
  3. Use mental modeling to be productive. Turn a chore into a choice. Think about your goals and priorities a little more deeply than simply making a list.
  4. The most important thing is the most important thing. Don’t lose site of your higher goal while doing the daily stuff of life.

Charles’s website has short entertaining videos on the science of habit, find them at  http://charlesduhigg.com

A longer version of this show can be found here.

"FixIt Shorts" promises solutions journalism in 15 minutes or less.

#93 Emily Esfahani Smith: The Power of Meaning

Are you happy? If not, perhaps you’re asking yourself the wrong question.

Our culture is obsessed with happiness - a right that’s enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. But living a life of meaning, instead of the pursuit of happiness, may bring much deeper, longer-lasting satisfaction, says our guest, Emily Esfahani Smith, author of "The Power of Meaning Crafting a Life That Matters.

In 2013, comedian Louis C.K. struck a nerve when he spoke of the human condition on the Conan O’Brian show. “Underneath everything there’s that thing - that empty forever.”   The video clip from the “Conan” show went viral with more than 12 million views on You Tube.  

We look at solutions for that “empty forever life.”

“A meaningful life is connecting and contributing to something that is bigger than you," says Emily. Her book examines the wisdom of philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, neuroscientists and novelists and provides insight on how to lead a more meaningful life.

Emily argues that leading a meaningful life is more important than a happy life. "When we don't find meaning, we end up becoming more depressed, prone to suicide and more alienated."
 
Find out why cultivating connections with others, working towards a purpose, telling stories about our place in the world, and seeking out mystery can enrich our lives.

We also discuss belonging, alienation and politics. In a recent New York magazine article, Emily writes: "President Trump is like the neighbor, a man who unthinkingly builds new walls and fortifies old ones — walls to keep out immigrants and refugees, walls to divide the establishment from working-class Americans, walls to protect American manufacturers from American trade partners."

Additional reading: "The Road to Character" by David Brooks of the New York Times.
 

#85 Why We Are Fooled by Con Artists: Maria Konnikova

Have you ever been the victim of a con artist? Very often we fall for cons ourselves without being aware of it.

We speak with journalist and psychologist Maria Konnikova, a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine and best-selling author of “The Confidence Game:" Through storytelling and science, she explains the mind of the con artist and what makes the rest of us so susceptible. 

Con artists are everywhere. Since 2008 the number of reported cases of consumer fraud have shot up 60%. Online cases have doubled. Billions of dollars are lost each year in scams. 

"People are very willing to pay for things that will make them feel better about themselves," says Maria, especially when they're feeling lonely, are going through a divorce or have lost a job. "It can also happen during positive life transitions: you're about to have a baby or move to another city."

Con artists, she says, can swoop in when you're vulnerable and give you a sense of emotional purpose or stability.

Skilled scam artists are very good listeners and learn as much about their victims as they can. The internet and social media make their research so much easier.

Solutions: How to make yourself less vulnerable to con artists

  • Never accept a friend request on Facebook from someone you don't personally know, because your Facebook page has too much information that a con artist can use against you. 
  • Don’t post too much personal information online: locations, habits, and schedules. For instance, don’t check-in to locations, like stores or restaurants. Avoid geotags - giving information about your whereabouts. 
  • Don’t sign up for free trial offers, the most common scams involve fake weight loss schemes, prize promotions and buyers clubs. 
  • Be cautious when you use online payment sites and monitor your bills, because another popular scam is unauthorized Internet billing.
  • Don't click on links in an e-mail unless you've requested a password reset. For instance, if Google sends you an email saying that you need to change your password, go through Google. Don't use the email link.
  • Mindfulness. Go for a walk for one hour without a mobile electronic device. Get out of the immediacy of your everyday life and give your brain time to process the information that you have been given.  Be aware that a broader perspective - even a sense of objectivity about yourself - can make you less of a target. 
  • Businesses and institutions:Send a very clear message about ethics and accountability to employees and associates. A corporate culture that stresses the importance of the bottom line over everything else can lead to fraud.
  • In relationships and while investing beware of "sunken cost bias" the cost that has been incurred in an activity and is not recoverable; some victims have trouble admitting to being scammed because they have already lost money, time or pride. It’s never too late to walk away.

#84 Smart Solutions for The New Year

Fresh thinking for the New Year: In 2016 we were exposed to a dazzling range of smart, practical ideas from our podcast guests - from climate change and money matters, healthcare reform, to making room for strangers in our lives.  

 

In this show we start with Rebecca Jarvis, Chief Business, Economics and Technology Correspondent for ABC News. One of her smart money resolutions for the New Year is to be skeptical. Watch out for the know-it-alls and outright charlatans of investing, who pretend to understand how to beat the market. Rebecca also urges borrowers to be aware of the full costs of personal debt.

 

The need to be wary of simplistic slogans and fixes is at the heart of global economist Ruchir Sharma's book, "The Rise and Fall of Nations.” His solution? Look beyond the headlines to long-term trends. Slower growths in the workforce and immigration rates have a big impact on prosperity and growth.  

In the excerpt from our show on nuclear power, Michael Shellenberger, author of An Ecomodernist Manifesto, challenges the views of many environmentalists. He says nuclear is a crucial source of energy that "produces zero air and water pollution." 

"At the end of the day everybody is biased," says John Gable, who joined us to explain the thinking behind AllSides.com.  This news website comes with a left/ center/ right column - showing readers how major events are interpreted by liberal, conservative and centrist media. John urges us to confront our own biases and filter bubbles as we separate truth from fake news.

One forecast for 2017: due to the squabbling in Washington DC, over the role of federal government more solutions will be local. We spoke with obstetrician-gynecologist Rose Gowen, a City Commissioner in Brownsville, Texas. She told us how she was able to reduce high obesity rates using grants, a farmers market and bike trails and other local initiatives. 

Pulitzer-prize winning author, and New York Times journalist, Charles Duhigg talks about how we can improve our bad habits and become smarter, faster, and better. In this clip, we discuss to-do lists, mental models and making the most of our time - in life and in business. 

#83 Best Moments of 2016

 

Alan Dershowitz on Trump; what an Islamic fundamentalist learned in an Egyptian jail; plus a tenured professor explained why she quit her job—trigger warning ahead.

 

 

No doubt about it - the nomination and election of Donald Trump was the biggest, most surprising news story of 2016. At the start of this show we get two fascinating takes on the Trump story from a marketing man and a Harvard Professor.

For decades Alan Dershowitz has been on the front lines in the fight for civil liberties. He also has a refreshing take on the Trump phenomenon. "He was unpredictable: somebody who gave some people hope that maybe things won't be the same," says Dershowitz.

British marketing expert Mark Earls, made a second visit to our podcast, told us that emotion and identity play far greater roles in our voting decisions than many of us realize." We imagine that people consider in something as important as politics the pros and cons and the policy, but we don’t.

We spoke to Karen Firestone, the author of Even the Odds, about the time she met the famous advice columnist, Anne Landers, on a plane. The advice Landers gave Firestone changed her life. Find out why.

Do you like talking to strangers on planes, or talking to strangers? If the answer is no, then listen to Kio Stark (TED author and speaker), she may change your mind. We can all benefit from talking to strangers; find out why and how. 

Joan Blades tells us how she brings progressives and Tea Party supporters together for Living Room Conversations.

As a young Muslim man in Britain, Maajid Nawaz joined a global Islamist group. Jailed in Egypt in 2001, Maajid began an extraordinary personal journey. In this episode he describes his transformation towards liberal, democratic values as a secular Muslim. Today, Maajid is an active counter-extremist and founding Chairman of Quilliam - a global organization focusing on integration, religious freedom, citizenship and identity.  He is also the author of, "Radical: My Journey Out of Islamic Extremism."

Historian Alice Dreger, author of "Galileo's Middle Finger", reveals her personal fight for academic freedom and why it cost her a tenured job at a prestigious university.