When we seek an example of great leadership, one man who often comes to mind is Winston Churchill — the iconic, visionary prime minister, who guided his country through war and stood firmly for his beliefs and impervious to his critics. But how did Winston become the legendary British Bulldog?
My guest today seeks to answer that question in his biography, "Churchill: Walking with Destiny." His name is Andrew Roberts, he’s a journalist and historian, and we begin our conversation discussing why he thought another Churchill biography was needed. We then shift to the life of Churchill, beginning with a childhood in which young Winston often felt neglected. Andrew then discusses Churchill’s military career, why Winston was so eager to see action on the frontlines, and how he parlayed those experiences into becoming the world’s highest paid journalist by his mid-twenties. Andrew then explains how Churchill also became one of the 20th century’s great historians and how his appreciation of history and sentimental outlook colored his worldview and shaped his leadership. We also discuss why Churchill was one of the few leaders to foresee the threat that Hitler posed. We end our conversation discussing whether some of the current criticisms of Churchill, such as the allegation that he masterminded genocide in India, really hold weight.
Get the show notes at aom.is/churchill.
#543: Learn the System for Getting Things Done
Over ten years ago, I read the book "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. I’ve been using the tactics and strategies that he laid out in the book in managing tasks and, well, getting things done, ever since. David’s out with a new workbook to accompany his classic bestseller, and I have the pleasure to speak with him today about his philosophy and system for managing life. We begin our conversation discussing how David came up with the GTD system in the first place and how it differs from other time management systems out there. David then explains what the “mind like water” mantra is about and how the GTD system helps you clear your head. We then dig into the specific steps of getting things done, including capturing ideas, clarifying tasks into action, organizing those actions, reflecting on your action list, and, of course, taking action!
This is a time management system I can personally endorse, so if you’re not familiar with it or have fallen off the GTD wagon, I recommend giving this show a listen.
Get the show notes at aom.is/gtd.
#542: When Breath Becomes Air
When Paul Kalanathi was 36 years old, he was on the cusp of finishing a decade's worth of training to become a neurosurgeon -- a profession he felt called to. But then he learned he had terminal stage four lung cancer. In a single moment, everything changed in his life. For the next twenty two months, Paul and his wife Lucy grappled with how to live life even when you know you have limited time left. In his last few months, Paul wrote a memoir about this search for meaning in life and death, as well as his experience as a medical student, neurosurgeon, and cancer patient. Entitled "When Breath Becomes Air," the book was published shortly after he died.
Today, I talk to Paul's widow, Dr. Lucy Kalanathi, about Paul's journey to uncover insights about meaning and significance during his time as both doctor and patient. Along the way, Lucy shares insights about the human side of healthcare, delivering and receiving bad news, and how your identity and sense of self changes when you're diagnosed with a terminal disease. She also shares her experience of being a widow and of the grieving process, as well as what to say and not say to someone who's grappling with a tragedy.
Get the show notes at aom.is/breathbecomesair.
#541: The Art of Noticing
Quick, name the president who's on the dime. Or think about the letters and numbers on your license plate. Were you stumped for a moment? That's the strange thing about our powers of observation: we can look at something a thousand times, and never really notice it.
Our struggle to notice what's around us is even worse in our Smartphone Age, where we often have tunnel vision that limits itself to a little handheld screen.
My guest today wrote a book that aims to help us recapture the keen use of our senses. His name is Rob Walker, he's the author of "The Art of Noticing," and he argues that tuning into things normally overlooked not only provides fodder for art and business, but can make life seem more vibrant and engaging. Rob and I begin our conversation discussing what it means to notice and the benefits that come from noticing. We then spend the rest of the conversation walking through several exercises you can start doing today to strengthen your noticing muscles, including creating observational scavenger hunts and collections. Rob also suggests several ways to notice overlooked things at museums and why looking at the world like there's a dramatic heist about to go down causes you to notice more in your environment.
Get the show notes at aom.is/noticing.
#540: How to Be a More Compelling Person
We all know people who have a certain magnetism and charisma. What is it exactly that makes them so compelling?
My guest today explores that question in his book "Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make People Influential," and primarily locates the answer in two such hidden qualities: strength and warmth. His name is Matthew Kohut and today on the show he explains why it is we find the combination of strength and warmth so attractive in others, and how we can cultivate these traits ourselves, including in the way we dress, carry ourselves, and talk. Matt then gives advice on how to display strength and warmth in different situations we might find ourselves in, from acing a job interview to managing a crisis at work. We end our conversation with that most perennial question of body language: what to do with your hands when you speak.
Get the show notes at aom.is/compellingpeople.