Skip to content

About the guests

Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss has been listed as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People” and one of Fortune’s “40 under 40.” He is an early-stage technology investor/advisor (Uber, Facebook, Shopify, Duolingo, Alibaba, and 50+ others) and the author of five #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, including The 4-Hour Workweek and Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers. The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, is the first business/interview podcast to exceed 100 million downloads. It has now exceeded 500 million downloads.

Dax Shepard

Dax Shepard is the co-host of Armchair Expert, a podcast in which he talks with some of the most iconic, creative personalities around the world. Armchair Expert has been nominated for multiple awards and is one of the most downloaded and listened to podcasts in the world. Dax has also starred in many films and television shows over the past two decades, including the acclaimed network television drama Parenthood, for which he played Crosby Braverman for seven seasons; Netflix’s The Ranch; the ABC sitcom Bless This Mess, and the feature films Without a Paddle, Idiocracy, Employee of the Month, Baby Mama, The Judge, and This Is Where I Leave You. Shepard has also written, directed and starred in three films: CHiPs, Hit and Run, and Brother’s Justice. Shepard, a lifelong gearhead, will next be seen as one of the hosts of Top Gear America, which will stream on Discovery’s new Motor Trend subscription service in 2021.

Show notes

The Tim Ferriss Show
Armchair Expert

Production by Cadence13


Brené Brown: Hi everyone, I’m Brené Brown, and this is Unlocking Us. Alright, y’all. We have a podcasters roundtable today, this is just the most fun, honest, vulnerable, ping pong-y conversation that I’ve had in a long time. I am talking to my friends and fellow podcasters, Tim Ferriss and Dax Shepard. And we’re talking about everything from how we prepare for podcasts, parenting, we actually do talk about ping pong, we also talk about addiction, we talk about trauma, and we dig into the long and very winding road to healing and wholeness. It is a fun conversation, it is a hard conversation, it’s messy, and I guess it’s everything you’d expect from three people who consider curiosity about ourselves and the world and each other a way of life. And I want to let you know too that this is an adult conversation, in terms of language, and more important to note, we talk very openly about addiction and we talk very openly about childhood sexual trauma, and so I want you to know that going in. It is a long conversation. It is what we call a deep dive. We are going to be off the grid for the holidays, we’ll be back, Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead will be back the week of January 11th, so I wanted to leave you with a long conversation that you can re-visit and listen to in pieces.

BB: It was an important conversation to me. I learned about myself, I learned about Tim and Dax, and I learned a lot about how much we all share in common, especially when we’re in struggle. Thanks for being here, y’all. Okay, before we jump into the conversation with Tim and Dax, let me tell you a little bit about them. Tim Ferriss has been listed as one of Fast Company’s most innovative business people, and one of Fortune’s 40 under 40. He is an early stage technology investor and advisor, he was in very early with companies like Uber, Facebook, Shopify, Duolingo, Alibaba. He’s the author of five number one New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-sellers, including The Four-Hour Workweek, and one of my favorites, Tools of Titans, the tactics, routines and habits of a lot of different people in one book. It’s really fascinating. The Tim Ferriss Show podcast is the first business-interview podcast to exceed 100 million downloads, and it has now exceeded 500 million downloads. His podcast is just something I listen to all the time. I cannot encourage you enough to take a listen.

BB: Our other guest is Dax Shepard and he is the co-host of Armchair Expert, a podcast where he talks to some of the most iconic creative personalities around the world. Armchair Expert has been nominated for multiple awards and is one of the most downloaded and listened to podcasts in the world. Dax has also starred in many films and television shows over the past two decades, including the acclaimed network television drama “Parenthood.” Dax played Crosby Braverman for seven seasons. He’s also in Netflix’s “The Ranch,” the ABC sitcom “Bless This Mess,” and he also stars in the feature films “Without a Paddle,” “Idiocracy,” “Employee of the Month,” “Baby Mama,” “The Judge,” “This is Where I Leave You.” Dax has also written, directed, and starred in three films, “Chips,” “Hit and Run,” and “Brother’s Justice.” Dax, who is a life-long gearhead, will next be seen as one of the hosts of “Top Gear America,” which will stream on Discovery’s new MotorTrend subscription service in 2021. My husband is going to be like, “What? MotorTrend subscription service?” This is already happening. Alright, settle in, get a cup of tea, stretch for your long walk, buckle in for your long drive, a conversation with Tim Ferriss and Dax Shepard.

BB: Alright, I’m here with Tim Ferriss and Dax Shepard. It’s been nothing but technology shenanigans since we got started. Welcome, guys.

Dax Shepard: Haha. Happy to be here.

Tim Ferriss: Thank you.

BB: I was telling Tim earlier, I’m kind of nervous, like y’all are podcasting goals.

DS: You’re nervous? I find that a little hard to believe.

BB: No, I’m nervous. Do y’all ever get nervous?

TF: I get nervous. I was also saying though, I feel like that’s like Mike Tyson in his prime at 21, after 20 straight first-round knockouts being nervous getting into the ring, but also knowing with great confidence that he is going to conquer all. You’ve been highly dominant since emerging on the scene, not terribly surprising, but yes, I still get nervous.

DS: And this will sound so narcissistic, but my nerves are about whether or not I will fuck up for my own personal goal, which is like, I gave this example before on Tim, I want Bill Gates to think I’m a genius. I’m so tempted to try to get him to think I’m smart that I know a high probability I’ll ruin the interview by trying to get my own selfish desires met. I just go into it going like, “Shut the fuck up. Don’t try to impress him. Just don’t do it.” So I’m not even really thinking about him or the interview, it’s just like I’m trying to police my own defects.

BB: Yeah, I think I do the same thing, and I think there are times sometimes when I’m talking to people and I get so wrapped up in, “Am I doing it well?,” that I lose a thread of conversation. Have y’all ever had that happen? Dax?

DS: This is what I’ve evaluated quickly, is that I am more of a steam roller, so what I’m trying to do to counteract that already is I’m like really want Tim to go first every time to make sure I don’t steamroll.

BB: Okay, I like this system. Tim, do you ever get so nervous that you lose track of where you are?

TF: I don’t often lose track of where I am, but I also cheat and very often prefer to do interviews without video because I have notes in front of me. I do use notes and I take notes, so I very rarely lose track of where I am. I organize my entire workspace with a certain flow, it’s probably much more calcified than a lot of approaches, but I find it to be extraordinarily helpful, so I don’t lose track necessarily. What I will do though is not lose track of someone else, but at times, if it’s a follow-up question, I will lose track of the intent of the question while I’m halfway through wording it. So that does occasionally happen, and thank God for post-production. There are ways to fix such things.

BB: That’s true. Dax?

DS: I think mine vary greatly on how acute my brain is that day, because what I like to do is, I get 25 balls in the air for better or worse, I don’t mind deviating off something and then I’m trying to remember, “Oh, bring it back to that thing you asked 19 minutes ago.” And on good days, I can do that. And on bad days, I go home going, “Oh, right, I was supposed to bring back this really poignant part of what they said and I didn’t.”

BB: I listen to both of your podcasts very religiously, and one of the things I really love is preparedness. I always feel like you’re respectful of my time because you’re prepared, and I don’t think preparedness looks a certain way, it doesn’t look linear. You can do the chaos and the balls and come back to the threads, you can go from notes, but I really feel respected as a listener when I listen to y’all because you’re prepared. What does preparedness mean to y’all?

TF: Preparedness, for me, depends a lot on the guest. So there are different types of preparation. If it’s a guest who has been interviewed a million times and is going to be likely tired of discussing certain topics, and I don’t want them to go on auto-pilot and just vacate the premises really early on, and that could be anyone, it could be a celebrity type, could be a comedian, like Jerry Seinfeld or someone like that, who have been in the game with great endurance for a long time, then the preparation looks like finding thought-provoking questions they will enjoy answering, have likely good answers to, that they have not been asked frequently before. Preparedness also means, to me, not just the research and the documents and so on, I mean, I do prepare a lot of that ahead of time, but it means talking to the guest, in my case at least, for a handful of minutes beforehand to really hone in, ask them what a home run would look like, which very few interviewers ask, like, “Why are you doing this? What would make this a good use of time for you?” We can actually hone it in ways that will be maximally helpful to ensure that they are comfortable and loosened up a bit like they’ve done some preamble calisthenics before we get into the meat and potatoes of the interview. So those are a few of the things that I think about.

BB: I love the looking for things that haven’t been talked about yet. One of the things I’ve noticed, and I never had any intention of interviewing famous people or celebrities, but I had a hard learning early on to get caught in the middle of a junket with somebody, and man, that’s a different beast. That’s not fun for me. I don’t like that.

DS: Or them. Nobody’s happy in those scenarios.

BB: Is that true?

TF: Yeah.

DS: Oh my God, when you’re doing a junket, the first one I was ever in “Without a Paddle,” we were on a 13-city, 15-day trip, where every single day we had upwards of 20 interviews, radio stations, local news, in the lobby of the hotel with print. And by day nine of that, you are giving the exact same answer out of just survival, and you feel fraudulent, and you feel like you’re coming across as fraudulent. The interviewer is knowing they’re getting recycled garbage, it’s not really tenable for anyone, and yet that’s how we do it.

BB: When I think of junket, the only thing I can think of is “Notting Hill,” the Horse and Hound guy, like when Julia Roberts is at the table and… And that’s what I always think, because I’ve never been on either side of one, but man, when I’m interviewing someone, you can just almost hear them probably like, “And so it was a huge moment for me.”

DS: Yeah, and generally, here in LA, it’s at the Four Seasons on Burton Way, and so you’re there at the hotel for two days in a row, and you wake up and you start at 7:00 AM and you sit in a room and they bring in a new journalist, this isn’t an exaggeration, every five minutes, and they have a three and a half minute interview, and you do that for 11 hours. And often when I’m leaving, I’ll say, “How many interviews did I just do?” And it’s in the hundred and something, it’s really an experience like no other. It’s crazy.

BB: Wow, how do you prepare?

DS: I will say that rare for me is to ask advice. It’s a very hard thing for me to do, but I did luckily ask Chris Hardwick for advice very early on, he was one of my first 10 interviews. And he said to me, “Be careful about how much you research, because what ends up happening is you’re setting this person up for all these stories you’ve already now read about, and there’s just a limit to your interest when you know what’s coming.” So I took that to heart, and yet I couldn’t possibly do it without a net, so for me, the research is the net, and I try to not drive them into something that I’ve already thought I want them to tell me about because of the reasons Chris said. On our best day, I’m just dancing up there and occasionally I’ve got to reach down and grab one of those things and move it along and that’s on the best day. That’s what I’m striving for.

BB: Yeah, I found a rhythm where I try to prepare five… Just seven questions like beats. And then I use them when I need them, but I don’t use them when I don’t need them. But it was interesting because when I was working with my agents when we were starting the podcast, my agent recommended both of your podcasts to listen to as examples of preparedness, combined with, I don’t know, comfort and flow. I do feel respected as a listener when the person hosting the conversation is prepared. So let me ask this question, I’m just super curious. Would you consider yours, Tim, an interview or a conversation?

TF: If I had to pick one, I would say it’s an interview. I am creating something in service of my audience who has finite time and infinite choice, and while I want it to have a casual conversational tenor, and I set it up to feel like you’re sitting at dinner with us, I feel an obligation to respect you as the listener by ensuring that you get what you came for. And in my case, that is tactical, practical tools, advice, habits, etcetera. So I feel like I have failed if I do not succeed in unpacking some of that because that is the premise and the promise of the show, so I would choose interview.

DS: Mine’s conversation, for sure, and I think I got really defensive at the beginning where people would comment that it was that, or that I talked about myself a lot, which, it is egregious. I’m not defending how much I talk about myself, it’s often repugnant, but it’s definitely a conversation, and I think it would have been a missed opportunity for me to go the other direction because I’m in a super privileged position where I can have conversations with a lot of these people because they’re peers and you can hear an interview everywhere, so it just seems like it would have been silly for me to just act like I was strictly an interviewer. I don’t think I would have been good at it.

TF: It’s really, I think, encouraging when you realize there’s no one way to do this. It’s like writing a book, it’s like writing a song. You have Larry King who bears no resemblance to what “Inside the Actors Studio” looked like in terms of preparation, and there are interviewers who know the answer to every question going in, which is not me, that would be incredibly boring for me, so I don’t do that. There are highly conversational shows, and then there are mixtures of the two and everything in between. So I think that if you want to have a chance at any type of longevity, which is sort of a prerequisite for long-term success, however you define it, you need to find a style and approach that is sustainable for your personality and that you will be good at and enjoy on some level, and it’s tomato tomato, it’s different for different people.

DS: Well, and when Tim and I had a conversation on his show recently, I was repeatedly shocked with how different our approach is. And his is awesome, his is so awesome, and it so wouldn’t work for me. The fact that he had hired someone to transcribe his interviews so that he could learn and better himself, and that he actually studied “Inside the Actors Studio,” like all these things work great for his asset set, and then nearly the opposite for me. And yet I think both shows are great. And then you have a completely third approach, which is phenomenal as well, but yeah, that’s a great thing to point out, Tim. I think when you’re starting something, you start looking to who you like and then you’re subconsciously perhaps trying to do what they do, and it’s probably not going to be the best thing for you.

BB: It’s so true. I asked the question just because I experience them differently in terms of format and goal, but equally enjoyable, and I learn the same amount from both. So I think it’s who you are and how you bring connection. So I have questions. So I sent Tim and Dax five questions. First of all, I knew one person would have to go first. When I work with leaders around how to run meetings, I always say like, worry about the bandwagon and the halo influence. So the halo is whoever has the most influence, everyone changes their answers to that person, and then the bandwagon is just human nature to gather around the common mean. So I was like, “Let me just put the kibosh on that shit right off the bat, and I’ll send the questions and get their answers.”

DS: So can I ask you, Brené, because I’m really interested in what you just said.

BB: Yeah.

DS: Those obviously are road blocks to creativity or productivity, so those are to be avoided.

BB: Yeah, so let me give you an example. So halo effect is the person with the most influence, if they share first, will, without question, shape and change the answers of the people who share their opinions behind that person. That’s the halo effect. The bandwagon effect is even if people are all lateral in terms of power and influence, there is a tendency to gather around the group mean. So one of the things we do when we talk about time estimation for projects, I’m worse at time estimation than I am at any other thing in my life. I mean, it’s awful.

DS: Well, I’d love to see a contest between you and my wife, to be honest.

BB: I will win in shorter time than she will, with that time estimation. One time, I’ll tell you, when I was just married, we were painting this rent house that we had in Houston, and I told Steve that I would go get him something to eat and he was painting. And when I came back, I walked in and he was on the floor and he had painted, in the paint, like this mustard color, Ralph Lauren paint, “You suck at time.” [laughter] It was like three hours later. He was so hungry.

DS: This was one of my most recent requests to my wife, I said, “I’m not trying to shame you, but when you work, you’re always going to be home by dinner, it doesn’t happen. Which is fine, it’s totally fine.” I said, “You’re very optimistic, and I’d love for you to try as an experiment to be pessimistic. What is the worst possible time you think you’ll get home, and let’s start from there and then over-deliver. Let’s just see what that feels like.”

BB: And?

DS: She said she’s open to it, we haven’t really tried. This was three days ago. So we’ll see.

BB: Yeah, I just can’t do it. And so what we do is, we’ll say, “Okay, Tim, Dax, we’re going to launch this new project and we need to make sure the website is up and ready, blah, blah, blah. How long does everyone think it’s going to take?” And then we write on a post-it and we flip it, it’s part of Scrum and Agile process to do this, we flip it over at the same time, and that way we avoid any halo or bandwagon, and mine will always say 90 days and the chief operating officer’s will say 1.5 years.


DS: That’s a great hack, because I was thinking, oh gosh, you’re going to have to single out who the halo maker is, which will make that person defensive.

BB: Right.

DS: Yeah, yeah. Okay, good. What a great easy way to handle that.

BB: Turn and learn, that’s what we call it, the turn and learn. Yeah, it’s really effective, and it also just surfaces massive problems right off the bat because people’s expectations and understanding of things are so different. So I did this to Dax and Tim, and so we’re going to start with the first one. I did my answers too, so we’ll share. Okay. A bumper sticker or a short slogan that’s true, and its potential is really misunderstood, its ability to make the world a better place. What did you answer, Tim?

TF: My answer was, “Don’t believe everything you think.”


DS: That’s so good.

TF: Yeah, that was a bumper sticker shared with me by a hospice care physician named B. J. Miller, who’s helped more than a thousand people to die. He’s a triple amputee himself, he was electrocuted in college, he was a warning story, actually, when I went to the same school for undergrad. And the narratives that control us, the stories we tell ourselves shape our reality, and so often we just take it as assumed that what we’re thinking is true, it’s accurate, it’s a reflection of reality. So don’t believe everything you think, I think has some really profound implications for well-being, it has profound implications for performance, it has profound implications for everything since your entire experience of life is passed through this filter that we call the mind.

BB: God, it’s huge. Because also, our brain creates stories to protect us that really exacerbate our worst shame and fear, and then when we believe those stories, they ruin relationships, marriages, partnerships, employee relationships. I mean, don’t believe everything you think. Oh my God, it’s a good one. Dax, do you have one?

DS: So I answered to your question, I’m drawing a blank here, which is not actually a bumper sticker, I just literally, I couldn’t think of one. But as Tim was talking, I just thought of one of my favorite things, which is an AA slogan, which is “What other people think of you is none of your business.”

BB: That’s one of my all-time favorites.

DS: I love it, I love it. I love it, I love it. It doesn’t matter. It’s none of your business. It’s how you think about yourself.

BB: Do you find it hard to live by?

DS: I’m obsessed, I’m obsessed with what people think about me, I’m never correct. It’s never enough. If someone just sent me this great Garrison Keillor quote on praise, and it was saying like how to take praise. And he said, “I go through faux humility, but in truth, I want the praise to be them staring into my eyes like I’m a sun god.” That’s where my ego ultimately is, that’s what I’m in search of. I can pretend I want to hear “Good job.” No, I want you to get on your knees and worship me like a sun god, and anything short of that is not enough, so I just try to skip the whole thing, I’m not successful at it, but certainly, I feel so much better when I skip the whole endeavor. I’m not going to be a sun god, and that’s really what I want.

BB: It’s true, when I was doing the shame research, what I found is no one really wants anyone to say, “That’s a good person, average, fair, competent.” People want, “Amazing, incredible, worship.” It’s true.

DS: Superlative, smartest, sexiest, something ‘est.’

BB: ‘Est,’ something ‘est,’ the best of something.

DS: Yeah.

BB: Mine is, “Shit happens”. Definitely because I have to say it to myself a lot because I’m a blamer. And so when something goes wrong, I like to know whose fault it is, even if it’s my own fault. I’d rather it be my own fault, like if I get a flat tire, I’m like, “It’s because I’m not working out.” Because people who work out are really mindful about their car maintenance and they get everything done at the right time, and like, I just want something to be someone’s fault because that’s a controlling thing for me, so just sometimes bad shit happens.

DS: Can I ask you a follow-up question to that, Brené? Because this is a big theme in my family, my nuclear family I grew up in. And I want to know, do you think that you came by it through nurture or nature?

BB: The blaming piece?

DS: Yeah.

BB: For sure, that’s nurture. I come from a long maternal line of blamers.

DS: I remember reading that book, maybe The Rising Sun, and in that book, they talked about the kind of Japanese business philosophy is, they’re not even interested in blame or who did it. And I read that and thought, that is so revolutionary. Can you actually address problems without singling out the bastard who screwed up?

BB: Are you a blamer, Tim?

TF: No, I would say that that tendency exists, but the larger the crisis, the less likely I am to do that. So the more intense and the higher the stakes, it could be a car accident, it could be some catastrophic economic event, it could be COVID, the less likely I am to look for that. It’s with the daily paper cuts, the nuisances, the mild inconveniences, I’m more likely to do it. So it’s not like I am wandering around like a bodhisattva at the salad bar and not pissed off at anyone at any time, that certainly happens. So the blaming exists, but I wouldn’t say it’s the strongest default unless we’re talking about also self-blame, in which case, I am relentless and ruthless in self-talk. So if we want to invoke the name of Jocko Willink, his book, Extreme Ownership, I think that that type of extreme ownership can be productive and constructive, or it can be also very masochistic.

BB: Yeah, and shaming.

TF: Yeah, the self-blame and self-shame is more of a challenge for me, I would say.

DS: Yeah, the line between an inventory and a shame-fest is very thin.

TF: Right.

BB: And are you a blamer, Dax?

DS: Again, and I think through 16 years of going to meetings or whatever it is, I say this often, I have to step over many bad ideas before I get to the one I act on, so yeah, I see a bowl of cereal dumped over on the carpet when I walk in, and my first thought is, “Which one of these assholes did this?” It could be anyone in the house, and then I think, “Well, you know, I’m going to have to clean it up regardless of who did it,” and maybe I’ll say a general rule in the house is, let’s try to eat in the kitchen. It doesn’t have to be specific. I’ve got to work through all that. My first thought is, “Who did this? Let me get them and let me shame them a little bit,” but I don’t think I act on it much.

BB: Yeah, I have to reverse engineer out of it, my cognition has to take over my affect. And the thing is that I’d rather be at fault for something, I’d rather be the cause of COVID personally, than just “shit happens,” because then I have a sense of control about making sure it doesn’t happen again. My therapist told me one time that my motto should be “Let go and let Brené.” Is that the rudest thing?

TF: So Brené, how does that square with your bumper sticker, “Shit happens”?

BB: Well, that’s why it’s my favorite bumper sticker, because I need to wear it on my forehead. I need to say, “Sometimes bad shit happens, man, it’s no one’s fault.”

DS: Yeah, it’s not the one you’re practicing, it’s the one you aspire to, right?

BB: Yeah, I know, the practicing one is like, “Stop driving slow in the passing lane, asshole,” that would be my practicing one.

DS: Yeah. My bumper sticker would be, “Stop inconveniencing me.”

BB: Yes. What would your… Not your aspirational bumper sticker, Tim, but your real bumper sticker be? On a grumpy day, like don’t give us a thoughtful meditative day, like a shit day.

TF: This is going to be a lazy response, but I think Dax’s, “Stop inconveniencing me.”


TF: Is probably it. I’m just like, why is the entire world right now following a to-do list, the top of which is, “Fuck up my day.” Like, what is going on? How did I miss this broadcast?


DS: And I don’t know how other people come to this realization, I would not have come to it without the 12 steps, which is just simply that thinking, it overestimates your importance in the world, that anyone in the world is even thinking about you or conspiring against you, and to be able to just recognize it immediately as self-pity, which is as offensive as self-aggrandizement. I don’t know where I’d have learned that, I’d have just been like, “They’re fucking with me. You know, I’m that important. The universe has something, they’ve singled me out because I’m so important.”

BB: Spotlight theory, man.

DS: Is that what it’s called in psychology?

BB: Yeah, spotlight theory, it’s like the same thing where you’re getting ready to pull yourself out of a pool, and you kind of you know… For women, suck in your stomach and get your hair right, and then you pull yourself out, or guys may flex a little bit, and like no one’s looking. Unless you are so weird about how you’re doing it and your self-weirdness is attracting stares, but no one’s looking, no one cares.

DS: My sister-in-law had this awesome thing she created, she worked at a clothing store, and she would often be in the minute 90 of bringing new options to someone in the dressing room, and she’d be hearing things that people tell themselves, “I don’t look good in blue,” or, “Green’s not blah, blah, blah.” And she would say, from the other side of the door, “Do you remember what color shirt I’m wearing?” And almost all the time, no one has any clue what color shirt she’s wearing. And it’s just a really great moment where you’re like, “Oh yeah, no one’s going to know what shirt I’m wearing either.”

BB: Yeah. No one’s looking.

DS: Yeah.

BB: Okay, something you do regularly, a practice or a habit that’s hard as shit, but totally worth it?

DS: Definitely exercise. Exercise, I think, is the most important cornerstone to me not feeling miserable and discontent. I’ve even said if I had to give up all the tools I have, I think that would be the last one I’d give up, that seems to have had the most effect on my mental attitude.

BB: Did you have a second place or a close one, or is that just a first by far?

DS: Probably the program for me would be the next one where I feel like if I didn’t go to meetings and get accountable to other guys and listen to other people’s stories, I think I would be miserable as well. But I would prioritize, which is a little bit sacrilege to say, but I would prioritize exercise.

BB: True or false, exercise is a pillar of your sobriety.

DS: 1,000%. You know, I have this thing, I’ve said it before, but if I’m sponsoring a guy and he calls up and he starts complaining about X, Y and Z, I’ll say, “I am so so happy to listen to this, I just want you to take a one hour walk or go to the gym for an hour and then call me back and I’ll listen to the whole thing.” And almost 100% of the time that concern they had has gone down by 80%, I just haven’t had the experience where they did that, and then they called me back and they’re still as crazy in their head about the thing.

BB: That’s true. That’s neurobiology, right? That’s physiology.

TF: Yeah, I also just want to second what Dax said in terms of if someone put a gun against my head and said, “You’ve got to choose one of all of these tools in the toolkit for sort of mental emotional stability and resilience,” I would also choose exercise easily, not even a close second place.

BB: Okay, Tim, God dude, yours sucked. The thing that you do regularly, that’s hard as shit, but worth it. I don’t want to believe it’s worth it, but go ahead, spill.

TF: Yeah, the answer I gave was cold exposure, so I have…

DS: [laughter] I knew it’d be something grueling.

TF: Yeah, so I have a cold plunge at home, it’s pretty easy to create. I won’t give step by step because you can get yourself into trouble with electricity, but you can turn a chest freezer with help from someone qualified into a cold plunge pretty quickly. So you have water, if you leave it plugged in too long, it turns into a gigantic ice block, which is not helpful, but at about… Let’s just call it 40-55 degrees, depending on your pain tolerance, at least two to three minutes, once or twice a day, I do it in the mornings. My girlfriend, I will say, is highly sensitive to cold, this was so unappealing to her, impossible, and she has now trained herself to enjoy it in the mornings. The reason being, I find it personally incredibly effective for anti-depression, it is such a mood stabilizer and mood elevator.

BB: Really?

TF: I guess those seem counterintuitive or paradoxical together, cold exposure, cold baths used to be prescribed at these various retreats for people suffering from depression, including some of the most famous artists, folks you would recognize, painters and such would be prescribed, say, two sessions of cold exposure per day, and that’s just been lost over time in favor of pharmaceutical intervention, which has its place, but the cold exposure is a game changer. It’s really a game changer. And if I look at, Brené, we were chatting about Jim Collins before we started recording a bit and how he scores his days day-to-day, kind of plus one, plus two from an emotional standpoint or negative one, negative two. And if I look at my plus two’s and my plus one’s, one of the most consistent ingredients is cold exposure in the morning, so it would be that type of cold exposure.

DS: Wow. Okay, what is your evolutionary explanation? So for me, the exercise makes a lot of sense, we were designed to do some labor four, five hours a day, and then for that labor, we got some positive chemicals, and so we don’t do that labor, we sit around in chairs and talk in microphones, so that’s the big deficit there for me that needs to be overcome. Do you have an evolutionary theory on why this would be so beneficial?

TF: Well, a lot of things happen when you get exposed to uncomfortable cold, most of them related to, if not all of them, related to survival. The body does not want to be immersed in 40-degree water very long because you’ll get hypothermic. So there are all sorts of hormones that are released, primarily to make you more acute and to motivate you to get the hell out of said water, and a side effect of that is improved mood. So for instance, people are familiar with SSRIs, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. There are also SNRIs, Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors that are also used by psychiatrists in treating different mood disorders. And you’re not achieving the exact same outcome, biochemically speaking, but when you’re in cold water, you release a whole hell of a lot, and those hormones, these signaling molecules, travel through your body and do all sorts of things. And one of the effects, which I think is probably just a side effect, because I don’t think evolution optimizes for making us happy in any way whatsoever, it optimizes for us having kids and keeping them alive for a short period, and then our Darwinian use is zero. But my explanation would be that these survival responses have a side effect when used in controlled dosing of improvement.

DS: It’s also great for toxic masculinity just to get that penis as small as humanly possible in the morning so that you don’t walk out into the world with that BDE.

TF: Yeah, if you want an innie instead of an outie, then three minutes and 40-degree water will allow you to have that experience.

BB: Yeah, the shrivel alone could be worth it just for the world. Yeah, again, don’t go rig your YETI or any stuff like that.

TF: No.

BB: Get some information before you do it.

TF: You can start with just finishing a normal shower with 30 seconds of cold, you don’t have to start with the decathlon of cold endurance. You can start small.

BB: That’s what most of my friends are doing. Just complete cold showers. I was torn between working out, which is for me, walking or swimming, I’m a swimmer. I love walking and swimming, because they hit all three of the exercise, meditation, and no one can find me.


DS: Isolation.

BB: Isolationism, yeah.

DS: Pillar of mental health.

BB: It is a pillar of mental health for me, especially like the swimming is like… No phone, no nothing. And my second tie was, I have a value here at work, beauty and excellence in all things. So like the font matters, the punctuation matters, and it’s a fine line between that and perfectionism, which I cross too often sometimes. But I do think it’s a hard thing. It’s hard as shit really, but it’s worth it to make sure that we try to do things in a beautiful and excellent way every time we do something. I think that matters, but for me, working out’s number one.

TF: What do you think of when you’re swimming? Are there any elements of it that you focus on and/or what does it feel like therapeutically to you when you’re swimming?

BB: I’m not a good meditation person, I should probably take a class or something, but I’m like, milk, almond flour, I just go straight to the grocery list and shit that I’ve got to do. My husband’s a swimmer, a much more serious kind of master swimmer than I am. He has a lap counter on his watch, I just literally do 11111, 22222, 33. I just count laps, and then I’ll have an amazing idea for a book, and I’ll have to keep something that’s waterproof that I can write at the end of the lane. It’s probably my meditation.

TF: Amazing. That’s a 100%, by the way, a 100% valid meditation.

BB: Really?

TF: By almost any experienced mediator’s definition, if we’re looking at the sort of emotional cognitive outcomes and not the vehicle to get there, absolutely. You don’t have to sit in a cave in full lotus with your knees aching, thinking about oat milk staring at the back of your eyelids. I think swimming is outstanding meditation.

BB: Yeah.

TF: So you’ve checked the box.

BB: Yeah, I’m a very serious meditator, I might have to rethink my answer on this one. This is an interesting one for me. Dax, most people really underestimate what?

DS: Most people take for granted that they’re able to be honest with themselves, and in my experience, it’s way harder than you think it is to be honest with yourself. I mean, really hard because you’re getting all this input and things feel very correlated. You assume it’s causality, whatever it is, it’s not easy to unravel all the different things that result in some mood or some feeling or some anything, and I think it’s pretty darn hard to get good at recognizing what you’re really experiencing.

BB: What’s the biggest barrier for you in being really truthful to yourself about what you’re doing, feeling, or thinking?

DS: It’s always when it collides with my identity. So if I have the story I tell about who I am and something comes in conflict with that, that gets harder and harder and harder to see, and I have more and more and more explanations or more and more justifications, because I can’t accept I’m not this person I claim to be, pronounce to be, think I am. And I guess for me it’s like, the solution to that seems to be having a more flexible identity, which is I can still have that identity and I can still have hiccups within that identity. My identity is I’m a sober person. Well, I had a couple of months this year where I wasn’t a sober person, and yet I’ve had 16 years of being a sober person, so it’s like I’m not going to erase the 16 years and I’m also not going to not acknowledge the three months I wasn’t. I’ve just got to kind of make peace with that more complicated identity.

BB: God. I feel like embracing the multitudes that live within us, that is… Yeah, that’s hard, that’s really hard.

DS: It is. It’s really hard. We’re all self-haters, so it’s like, I’m on there with claws on these three things I think are great about myself, and the notion of not even having those three things is very scary to me.

BB: I’m the same way, and I can also get blame-y about that too. I can also be like, “This is inherently who I am, but you’re not allowing me to be that.”

DS: Yeah.

BB: Like you’re ruining the vibe of who I truly am.

DS: Yes, yes.

BB: So you forced me into this lie.

DS: Yeah, yeah, the talks I have with myself are spectacular.

BB: What do you think people underestimate, Tim? This was the weirdest answer, this makes the cold bath look possible.

TF: Well, I just want to say for a second, a thought that occurred to me, which was that our self-talk, as you guys are describing it, which is also just a constant peanut gallery in my own head, it’s kind of like a bizarro world, depressing version of Ted Talks. If you could have an alternate TED organization that just put out really demotivating, depressing, upset talks. I think a lot of self-talk is exactly that.

BB: Let me ask you this question, what keeps you from being honest with yourself the most?

TF: Fear, I think not too dissimilar from Dax. There are very few things historically that I’ve liked about myself, so if there’s anything that even as a glancing blow seems to threaten the solidity, the believability of one of those legs of the table, you will just go through Mongolian contortion in your mind from doing gymnastics to try to rationalize your way out of it. I strive to be honest with myself but comes back to the don’t believe everything you think, also. You may be like a Russian nesting doll of delusion, where you think you’re being honest, but in fact you’re lying to yourself, and then within that you think there’s a secondary belief, but in fact that’s not true, and there’s this thing underneath it. So I find Byron Katie’s, The Work as a framework, really helpful for scrutinizing your own thoughts and beliefs to really stress test them to see what is true. And without writing it down, I find it very difficult for me to arrive at what I think is defensively true about myself, whether it’s really enabling, whether it’s way over the top aggrandizing, whether it’s critical or super intensely hateful, I have to put it on paper in order to gain clarity.

BB: Two things come up for me when y’all are talking about this. One, there’s a team of researchers who have studied shame for decades, and they say the quintessential elicitor of shame… I know the direct quote, “The quintessential elicitor of shame is unwanted identity.”

TF: Oh, wow.

DS: Can I give a practical example of what I’m talking about?

BB: Yeah.

DS: Because I don’t want people to think it’s like I have a hard time knowing whether or not I stole something from the grocery store.

BB: Right.

DS: It more acts like this. So when my wife and I were first together, she does all this charitable stuff, some of it was in Africa. I have an anthropology degree. I know that often very well-intentioned people have fucked up Africa way more than they’ve ever helped it. So at first it’s, she’s going to take this trip to Africa and it’s going to be for a thing that I just disagree with, whether that’s respectful to the culture, whether it’s going to yield the result you want. And I start mounting an argument why the actual charity she’s about to be involved with is not a solid one, right? So that’s the first wave, and that’s not me being honest with myself. Then it becomes… And you were gone a month ago for this other one and this other one, and then through 300 of these arguments, it finally occurs to me, I’m very afraid that this thing, helping people, will be more important than me.

DS: I can mount an intellectual argument, but I’m doing that to avoid telling her I’m really afraid that you have these pursuits in life that will take priority over me. And then finally, on the 300th time we argue about it, and I can say that I’m so afraid you’ll pick that over me someday, and she looks at me and says, “I will never pick anything over you,” and then I’ve never cared once again about a charity thing, nor do I even evaluate whether it’s a good or bad a charity. So that’s for me what it is. It’s like I think I’m mounting some intellectual point and it’s just not true, that’s not truly what’s going on with me. That’s hard for me.

BB: I think the worst I’ve ever felt about myself is when I’m winning an argument and know I’m lying. [laughter] No, like when you’re winning an argument and you can just out argue this person with both hands tied behind your back, and you know that you’re winning and you know it’s not true. It’s like you’ve got them doubting what they did and they’re right.

DS: You’re basically gaslighting is what you’re doing.

BB: Yeah.

DS: Yeah, it sucks.

BB: It sucks, but it’s to protect identity.

DS: Or to fight against having to be vulnerable, to say, “I’m scared.”

BB: Oh my God, yes. Yeah, I’m scared or that hurt my feelings, or I wanted you to make a bigger deal out of this.

DS: We had it for three years with her cell phone in bed. She’s not managing her time correctly. If she’s in a position where she has to answer emails every night for 36 minutes, there’s some time management issue, and I’m winning that argument. I am right in that fact, but we had that argument for years until finally I said, “I would love your attention,” and she put the phone on the nightstand, said. “I’d love to give you my attention.” But I had so many stupid arguments that I quote “won,” prior to that.

TF: Something harder for me than the cold exposure that has been worth it, is taking workshops with my girlfriend related to non-violent communication, NVC, and learning in some cases, like from a workshop for Getting the Love You Want, which is a very well-known book, and others that seem really cliched and rote and sterile, and based on all of that, it seemed like they would not work because they are such obvious crutches or scripts that you end up using in a conversation that have been so incredibly helpful for not doing what I have done a lot in the past. And I still sometimes do, which is what Dax is describing, like 300 arguments until you finally get to the point of being able to say what it is that you’re afraid of, or what it is you’re feeling. Because I would much rather talk about things in the safe terrain of like, “Hey, let’s play analytical ice hockey.” If I get the chance to smash your argument against the boards, I’m going to take that and then I’ll feel really great because I won, and that’s what I do with rhetoric, even though my argument makes no real sense, it doesn’t matter. So reading some of these books which have really made me squirm and doing these workshops have been extremely valuable for the relationship, and through the relationship have helped me to better just communicate, I think, overall, with less aggression. Still not perfect, but that has been tremendously important.

DS: And the stupidest part is you don’t even get what you want when you win the intellectual argument. It never gets you what you want.

BB: Still lonely.

DS: One time you say what you need and someone’s happy to meet it and it’s over. It’s so stupid.

BB: Yeah, I don’t know, winning is no replacement for intimacy or connection or those things, but it’s so much safer.

DS: Yeah, I’ve been dreadful to date many, many times over many decades.

BB: This is a hard thing for me because vulnerability, ironically, I know, but is really hard for me.

DS: I can’t imagine arguing with you, Tim. I mean, if I know a little something about time management…

BB: Oh, God.

DS: You must fuck people up.

BB: Yeah.


TF: Well, I’m a decent debater, but I have friends who are lawyers and who are whip-smart on top of it and also generally over-caffeinated, and they’ll just dismantle me and I’ve gotten into these screaming matches with them in groups because they’re so kind of abusive with their ability to fence as debaters, and I’m just like, goddamnit, fill in the blank, just because you can win the argument does not mean you’re right, and I’m not going to engage in this because you’re going to hand me my ass, but I just want to state publicly right now, that just because you can outmaneuver me with your rhetoric doesn’t mean that your argument is better, and so I concede defeat.

DS: I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend, right before Kristen, who was actually much better at it than I was, and I’m grateful to her because we had a thing for an hour and a half, I had pie on my face, she destroyed me. It ended, I sent her an email and I said, “You were right and you won. And I feel worse.”

BB: Yes.

DS: And I was like, ah, that’s how everyone feels who fucks with me. Great, you’re right and you won and I feel even worse. So if your goal is to make me feel better, you did fail at that, and I was like, thank you for letting me experience how brutal I can be.

BB: The lengths we’ll go to self-protect, I won, we’re disconnected, I’m still lonely.

DS: You feel worse. I feel worse.

BB: We both feel worse, but I won. I don’t know what you win.

DS: It’s the pyrrhic victory of all pyrrhic victories.

BB: It is totally. What do you think people underestimate? If there’s a Tim Ferriss answer besides the YETI Bath, this would be it.

TF: So I think I remember what I emailed, which was how much and how comprehensively you become the average of, say, the handful of people, let’s just call it the five people you spend the most time with, in ways that you wouldn’t expect. So choosing your friends and saying no to friends maybe who have become toxic for me is something I constantly have to remind myself of because it is really challenging for me to say no to certain types of relationships or spending time with people because it seems really harmless like, “Well, let’s go have dinner with this couple,” or “Let’s go do this,” or “Let’s have a coffee with this person,” and whether it’s physically, financially, emotionally, relationally, what type of couples are you spending time with, you become the average of those people kind of mashed together in all these different ways. So I think about that a lot. I think it’s grossly underestimated, and that’s true of schooling. There’s so much attention paid to parenting and the role of parenting, but the effect of peer influence in school is gigantic.

BB: It is.

TF: I think it’s sort of a microcosm of the macrocosm of how ever present that is in life.

DS: The best example of that was in a Malcolm Gladwell book where he said, if you think the parents have so much sway, why has there never been a first generation kid who had their parents’ accent?

TF: Yeah, that’s a great example.

DS: It’s never happened.

BB: That’s a great example.

DS: You go, “Oh, yeah. That would never happen.”

BB: I play a lot of ping-pong when I’m writing a book, and someone that I work with comes and moves into our garage apartment, we met bartending and waiting tables many years ago in Austin, and now he’s the CFO for the company, and he comes and he moves into my garage apartment for six weeks and he eats dinner with me and my family, and we play ping pong for hours and I bounce ideas literally and physically, and we just do this. But then we’re also serious ping pong players and competitors, and someone told me you’ve got to be careful about bullshitting and doing stuff while you’re playing ping pong because muscle memory works both ways. It doesn’t just remember the good shots, it remembers the bad shots too.

TF: Yeah.

BB: And you can build muscle memory around the bad shots as well, and so then I’m like, “Well, shit, I’ve got to focus,” and then I can’t talk and that’s the whole point. But it reminds me that people I’m around that I don’t like are still shaping me.

TF: Yeah, or somebody you love in nine areas out of 10, but they have a string of really contentious angry relationships, and you think that couldn’t possibly infect or affect your relationship, but you’ve got to look at the pie chart and how it breaks down, like are you spending time with predominantly in happy marriages or unions, or in unhappy or neutral? You could love somebody in almost every way and still be affected by that one category and totally agree with what you’re saying. Just to clarify something you said, so when you’re on book deadline, you have someone who moves into your garage apartment to be your designated ping pong player? Am I hearing that correctly?

BB: That’d be funny if that was true, but no, it’s more like midwifery. They help birth the book, like they challenge, they read, they say, “I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

TF: Oh my gosh.

BB: That would not be good territory for me and Steve to do together. That’s not a good husband-wife thing for us.

TF: Yeah.

DS: Well, you know Buster Keaton had his own studio, and what they would do is they go shoot, and then when they ran out of ideas or they wanted more gags, he had a full baseball field at his studio and they all played baseball, and that’s where he came up with all of his ideas.

BB: There’s some science around it, I can’t quote the research, but it’s also how my brain turns off, and then the creative part opens up, so I’m going to watch some kind of British mystery or something that’s super predictable, and then I’m going to play ping pong and think.

DS: Well, becoming the average, Tim, I love that what you said, because I do think, of the many things we overestimate, especially in this country, we really overestimate that we’re individuals, and we can look at dog training like it’s black and white, and it is black and white. Because dogs are social animals, they will behave in a very predictable way if you do X, Y and Z, and we like to forget that we are the ultimate social animal of all time, and that we too, despite how cemented we are in our personal individual identities, we so often underestimate that we are group animals that do all kinds of things stronger than us in service of the group.

TF: Oh, 100%, there’s actually… Way back in the day, I believe it was Newt Gingrich, for those who don’t recognize the name, politician, who said that he learned everything he needed to know about controlling, I guess it was the House at the time, from a book called Chimpanzee Politics, which was a field biologist’s observation of power dynamics and struggles…

BB: Totally. God.

TF: And usurping and so on, in a large group of chimpanzees. No joke.

BB: Of primates, yeah.

DS: I read that book in college. I’m mad I’m not in politics.

BB: It also reminds me, I just interviewed David Eagleman, the neuroscientist at Stanford about neural plasticity and brain malleability. And he said our neural network is just part of a larger neural network of the people around us, like we are networked in. At first when I read this, I was like, “Is that true? Or is that like along the lines of like people start to look like their dog level theory?” Like is this true that we become like this mash-up? Yeah. Alright, we had different answers on this question, I’m having so much fun, thank y’all for doing this. I really wanted to know what y’all thought about this. Okay, this is a controversial topic. When I post about it, people go nuts in the comments. Regret, a fair teacher or not worthwhile? Let’s start with you, Dax. Your answer was, “Not for me, it sounds like a euphemism for shame.” I think this is a quote from The Big Book, right?

DS: Yeah.

BB: “We neither regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” So regret, you don’t have a lot of use for.

DS: I don’t. I don’t know if that sounds arrogant or something, but yeah, I don’t sit around and regret things at all. I regret things when I haven’t dealt with them, when I haven’t made my apologies or processed why I did it. In that window, I feel deep regret and shame. But once I’ve done the things I know I need to do to clean that up, I don’t then look at it as a regret.

BB: Let me ask something, because I think my answer is yes. I think regret is a really… An important thing, a function of empathy and a good teacher, but I also agree with everything you said, so I don’t know if I live in regret, but I do think regret can motivate amends.

DS: Yeah, see, I think it’s a stepping stone towards something, but I don’t think it’s something to be held on to. I think it’s like you feel regret, and then you go, “Huh, something’s not at peace in me, I know I should have acted differently, and why did I do that? Okay, I did it because of that stupid old fear, now I need to go talk to the person and do my ten steps, say I’m sorry.” And then that’s that. Then I’m done with that, I don’t regret it.

BB: I was really moved by George Saunders’ commencement address. He had a line that he said, “The things I regret most are failures of kindness. When someone was standing in front of me suffering, and I responded sensibly, reservedly, and mildly.” I do think regret without action is not helpful, but I think regret that drives behavior change or amends is a function of empathy, so I think we have different answers, but I think we agree, Dax.

DS: Well, yeah, I do too. I think it’s… Every time you interview someone about empathy, there’s like 26 different definitions of empathy, no one can agree on. So I think this is just one of those words. It’s like, how do you think of it?

BB: Yeah, Tim?

TF: Regret can be a useful teacher and a spotlight that helps you identify things that you would benefit from doing or not doing. I would say regret to me is a type of pain, and I think pain can really be a positive force for positive change. If you have pain in your abdomen, you go to get it checked out, and it’s some type of cancer that they’re able to surgically remove, then that was incredibly valuable. I think that’s true emotionally also. For me, I’ll just use one example. One of my closest childhood friends died maybe four or five years ago from a fentanyl and alcohol overdose. And we had been in touch very sporadically, and I had seen him a handful of times when I went back home to where I grew up. Had his phone number and simply hadn’t been very proactive in reaching out, even though we still enjoyed spending time together. And that regret of not having reached out more proactively has led me to reach out to, I would say, more than a dozen old friends and mentors to simply say, “I appreciate you, you were so kind to me, you really were a force for good in my life, and I want to say thank you.” So I think that, at least in my experience, it’s possible to perhaps feel guilt about doing or not doing something without the shame of translating it into, “I am therefore permanently flawed or bad.” So for me, regret has been and continues to be an incredible teacher.

BB: So it sounds like we agree that regret can be a powerful catalyst, it’s not something to hold on to and carry on your load your whole life. It’s not a life-long shame mechanism, but it can be an important catalyst to amends or change or something. Is that fair?

TF: Yeah, I think so. I mean, is your regret the regret of change, meaning the regret that leads to change or is it like the regret of rumination that just is a bullet ricocheting inside your skull non-stop because you haven’t provided an outlet? There’s no fix that you have decided to put in motion.

BB: So that would be like when you quote The Big Book, Dax, that would be a threat to my program. I remember Terry Real who’s a therapist says, “A man addicted to alcohol needs shame like a man dying of thirst needs salt water.” And that’s so powerful to me.

DS: Right, right. Well, yes, and Brené, what were you thinking the whole time Tim was talking? Were we having the same thought?

BB: I don’t know, the thing that I was thinking, for me, when you were talking about the story with your friend is, that’s how I think of regret. I think about it as empathy and I also think about as part of my inventory.

DS: Well, as an addict, I wanted to hug you and say, “It is not on you, you should not feel the burden of that, you should not feel the weight of that.” People don’t understand that without the desire of the person, there’s nothing anyone can do. So I would just beg of you to have zero regret about that. I think it’s beautiful that you’ve decided to check in more with people, but in no way should you let this person’s disease suck you into it because it is a disease, and you didn’t have any part of it. And to be honest, you don’t have the cure for it either. So do not feel bad about that, please. If I were to die at some point, people would be sad, I’d want them to be sad, but I don’t think anyone should ever feel that they had some responsibility to save me. Unfortunately, addiction’s a get real, one-man job, or woman, with the help of these other alcoholics, so I just would not want you to carry that.

TF: Thanks, Dax.

BB: Yeah, the cause, change, cure. The three Cs. I hate those.

TF: What are the three Cs?

BB: You didn’t cause it. You can’t change it. And you can’t cure it. I hate that.

DS: Well, what’s ironic is both parties in that scenario are suffering from immense powerlessness.

BB: Oh my God.

DS: That’s what you guys have in common. You can’t change him, and he doesn’t have power over that thing, and it’s wild.

BB: Yeah.

DS: And it’s my most hated state. I hate being powerless. I want to control everything.

BB: Yeah, I’ve been really digging into that too in my own program about… [laughter] I get to that sneaky place, I’m like, “What do you mean by powerless exactly?” Like I get to this like, “I’m pretty empowered.”

DS: Well, you know what fucked me up, I talked about with Tim is, the tricky thing for me was manageability.

BB: Oh, God.

DS: So I had a very clear definition of what un-manageability was, and that was me drinking and doing cocaine, that was unmanageable by all measures, but me doing opiates and doing my podcast and putting my kids down to bed and working out, that was confusing for me. That felt very manageable, until it was not, until I was physically addicted and had to detox from opiates and I was like, okay, the final chapter is unmanageable, but boy, what a misleading… It felt very manageable to me.

BB: Yeah, I’m very skilled at managing a lot of things, and I have a lot of things that are sober, clean things in my life that are not abstinence ability, like… So for me, food, work, things that I have really intentional abstinence around, that I had to create out of nothing because how do you do that? That’s why I’m always texting you, Tim, about keto. You’re like, “I don’t know. It’s really binary.” I’m like, “That’s what I need. Binary. Binary is good. You’re either, you are, or you’re not.”

DS: Yeah, 99% will yield you nothing.

BB: Yeah, yeah.

DS: 100% will yield you everything. It’s crazy.

BB: Yeah, that’s it. Open the cage, let the tiger out three times a day, put it back in. Alright, I like this question because there’s been a lot in my life, and I was curious for both of you. A sliding door moment in your life, which references… Have you all seen the movie “Sliding Doors,” with Gwyneth Paltrow?

TF: I have.

DS: I have not, but I’m very clear on what the premise is.

BB: Yeah, you need to see it. You and Kristen should watch it and just see what you think. It’s pretty dramatic, I guess, the choices. So a sliding door moment in your life where things could have gone different ways. Tim, what was your answer? Sliding door moment for you.

TF: It’s the first one that came to mind. I think there are sliding door moments every day for everyone, but the one that came to mind for me immediately because it’s so top of mind and still unraveling for me in a good way, unwinding maybe, is the publishing of a podcast episode talking about childhood sexual abuse for the first time, certainly publicly. And most of my closest friends, most of my family members had no knowledge of this. So deciding to do that, which I expected was going to be in a book maybe 15, 20 years from now, after both of my parents had passed away, because I didn’t want them to blame themselves for something that I didn’t view as their fault, that was a sliding door moment. It really has changed how I view my life, it’s changed how I prioritize, it’s changed how I relate to the trauma, it’s changed how I relate to thinking about other people experiencing this type of trauma. It’s still very, very fresh, and this was just a few months ago. So I think that was the most important podcast episode I’ve ever put out. I wouldn’t recommend it for entertainment value, it doesn’t have a Disney ending, but it’s been incredibly impactful. So that was the first thing that came to mind when you asked that question.

DS: Can I ask a question, Tim? Because you and I kind of talked about this when we talked on the phone, and I have done a similar thing as you and have had, I think, the same experience as you, which is just like whatever weight is on your shoulders, it just keeps diminishing every time you say it, and it gets lighter and lighter and lighter. But I wondered, was some of your reservation mired in our gender roles in society? I feel like so much of what my hang-ups about being open about that we’re just really, really mired in what a man is… Homosexuality, that was the worst thing you could be when I grew up in 1980. Did this make me gay? Was I weak? It was so inextricably linked to all these concepts of masculinity for me.

TF: For me, it wasn’t specifically that type of concern. I think that part of the reason I haven’t discussed that even with most of my closest friends might have some of that color, but for me, it was the unpredictability, and also the fact that a few years before, or maybe a year and a half or two years before, I had attempted to write about this as a draft of this chapter in a book to come, and it fucked me up so badly for at least 6-12 months in so many ways that I could not have foreseen. It was so destabilizing that I really had an incredibly high amount of uncertainty about what the effects would be. So it was the unpredictability of it really that scared me. It was realizing that it’s a lot easier to squeeze the toothpaste out of the toothpaste tube than to put it back in. And I had to be or feel incredibly confident that the burden it would hopefully relieve and the impact that it would hopefully have, both kind of speculative, had a good chance of outweighing the unforeseen consequences that would be hard to stomach.

TF: And I was also afraid, quite frankly, of the internet. I haven’t had social on my phone, for instance, any of the social apps for four or five months. I plan to continue doing that. But it was prompted by expectation that there would be a lot of incredibly tasteless, awful conversation around this episode, which I fully expect with the way that humans are at their worst, kind of Lord of the Flies, it’s just an emergent property of groups, especially when enabled by technology. So I also worried about how fragile I might be and how deeply affected I might be if I were exposed to that. And I was able to set up systems with my team and policies for me to be unavailable and to provide some white space to shield me from that. But to answer your question directly, it wasn’t specifically that, although I’m sure there were elements of it that factored into the entire experience and decision.

DS: And has it been your experience that none of those fears really have come to pass?

TF: This might sound odd, but I’m happy with this answer, and that is, I don’t know.

BB: Oh, yeah.

TF: Because I have never gone looking for social feedback during the weeks following that episode. That is a deliberate blank spot and blind spot for me because I don’t want to go looking for it. And I asked my team also if we received any emails or anything that was not constructive, that was aggressive, that they would archive. Unless I absolutely needed to see it, I didn’t want to see any of it. So I can say subjectively, I haven’t experienced being exposed to those things, but if you said to me, “Alright, you have to bet a million dollars, was there a bunch of nasty stuff online or not anywhere?,” I would say absolutely. I was absolutely bet that it exists, I just haven’t gone looking for it.

DS: I would take that bet in a second.

TF: Yeah.

DS: I would bet right here a million dollars that 99.9% of the feedback, that would be my guess. I’ve just had the same fears and I’ve just always been shocked that my fear of being vulnerable, it’s yet to be the thing. I’ve not had anyone weaponized my vulnerability, even with my cynical view of mankind. It, for me, has never come to pass. And there’s been many of those for me, things that I’ve said online, and I thought, “Well, that’ll be in a headline or that’ll be this or that,” and just so far, not one thing. I don’t want to jinx myself or incite someone to do it, but I’ve been shocked that my fear is very misplaced.

TF: I would agree with you. The vast majority of feedback is really positive. But then again, it’s like on social media, even in the best of times when you’re feeling stable, maybe not for you, Dax, but if someone is scrolling for comments, what do you remember, the 98 positive or the two really vicious? I think that even in the best of times, that is a tendency for most people. It’s certainly my tendency. And I would just say that just because you think you’ll get predominantly positive feedback if you’re very vulnerable about past trauma. Especially if we’re talking about capital T trauma, really graphic, horrifying, extended, repetitive, capital T trauma, I would not take public disclosure lightly. I think that you need to have a safety net and therapists and support systems in place because you may end up in a free fall. I think that’s important.

BB: People often ask me, “How do you know what to share and not to share when it comes to vulnerability?” And I say, “Everyone has their own line, but my bottom line is, if my healing is dependent on your response, I’m not ready to share it.” And so, if what you say can affect my ability to heal from something, and that means one of two things, like I’m looking for just positive feedback or I’m looking at all or I need it in order to heal. And so it was interesting because I shared your podcast widely. I thought it was a really important conversation between you and Debbie.

TF: Thank you for that.

BB: Yeah. And I did the same thing actually, Dax, for you when you talked about your sobriety, and we still get emails and contacts about the importance of both of those things. And I thought the way that you and Debbie handled the conversation was not just careful and thoughtful for y’all, but careful and thoughtful for us, and people for sure who were listening who are trauma survivors. Let me ask you this, when those sliding doors are in front of you, what’s the life right now, had you not done it?

TF: I think the life had I not done that, and I want to give full credit to a name you’ve mentioned Debbie, Debbie Millman, just an incredible human being.

BB: Amazing.

TF: Just a delightful, brilliant teacher, graphic designer, artist. She was my partner in this conversation because she experienced quite a lot of sexual abuse as well in her own life, and so it was a conversation intended to provide a toehold for people who identify as male, female also, in my case, heterosexual, in her case, not. And we wanted to provide as many entry points as possible. Had I not done that, I think I would be afraid of and obsessing over mortality and death much more than I am right now. My biggest fear when COVID hit and the people I know have died of COVID-related complications, and some people also with no pre-existing medical conditions on life support. These are people 40 years old. I thought to myself, “If I die because of this virus and have not released this in some form, my life will have ended incomplete.” And I think that I would carry a low to high level of constant anxiety about that, that exiting this life with that task undone had I not released that episode, and I think the implications of that are really, really broad. I think that would have affected in some way every supposedly compartmentalized piece of my life and all of my decisions.

BB: Supposedly compartmentalized, right?

TF: Right, supposedly neatly compartmentalized, which of course they are not. I also think that I would feel very alone. I would not feel as connected as I do to the rest of humanity who in many, many cases, swim in very similar waters of suffering. These are very common experiences. So it’s been heartening and depressing, honestly to have so many close, close, close friends of mine reach out to tell me in confidence that they had some similar experience. But I think now that we’re all aware of our own past islands of suffering, that we no longer feel like we’re on the islands, and that I think is really comprehensively, hugely impactful for me.

DS: It’s pandemic level of people who have experienced sexual abuse. Any time you’re at a four-top table, one of you there has experienced it, and yet we all feel so uniquely isolated in it. It’s very misleading. I wonder, Tim, have you had this thing, I read Missoula by Jon Krakauer, and I read all these incredibly predictable outcomes of women who are sexually abused on campus. It’s like an unavoidable playbook. And I could read that and recognize, “Well, yes, of course, that’s what happens.” And yet I did not feel connected to that. I didn’t think, “Well, well, I too then clearly have a whole handbag of things that changed.” I’ve come to terms with that over time, that I’m not unique, that I wasn’t the one person sexually abused who somehow didn’t walk down that very predictable road. It may be my own arrogance. I don’t know what it was, but it’s just funny, I could so see that other people, of course, but I guess for me, maybe it would have been admitting weakness or something. I remember my mom told me, she works in CASA with kids in foster care, and she said, “Do you know what the percentage of people who are addicts who have been molested?” And I said, “What?” And she said, “It’s 80%.” So she’s like, “You had a 20% chance of not.” And then add on other ACEs into that mix. It’s funny, I was able to have compassion and see that that’s what happened to other people and maybe not assume that it happened to me.

TF: In the last five years, I’ve been pretty proactive in pursuing healing in different ways, but prior to that, I would read, if I were exposed to it, articles like those you were referring to, but the idea of reading a book that included a lot of sexual trauma, I was unwilling to roll the dice. I was afraid that if I rolled snake eyes on that, that it would just fracture some deep part of my psyche, and that I would become untethered and lose sight of shore. So I was very guarded against consuming too much material that might re-traumatize in some way.

BB: You know, there’s different numbers for young girls and young boys. Their prediction is in the next 10 years, as more men feel comfortable disclosing, that those numbers will be very even. If you look at Peter Levine, Bessel van der Kolk, the people doing a lot of this research, they’re going to say “The numbers are the same.” It is a pandemic with boys. We are not encouraged as parents to talk to them in the same ways that we talk to girls about what’s okay and not okay, and what we need to hear about if it happens. I think, Dax, to your point, a lot of it is about masculinity and why we don’t talk to boys about those things. And you can be sure that we had the same conversation with our son as we did with our daughter, because my husband is a pediatrician and I’m a social worker, you just know that this is as prevalent with boys as it with girls, and the unwillingness or inability to talk about it is… shame is a formidable foe. It hates having words wrapped around it, and so it will do whatever it takes to make sure that it as an emotion is never languaged. It can’t survive once it’s languaged.

TF: Yeah. And I just want to… Some people may find this to be perhaps a dark topic, which it is in a lot of ways, I would just say that on the side of light, I do not feel like I am uniquely flawed or broken, I do not feel like once abused, always traumatized every day forever. And there are some incredibly effective tools and modalities available that can have tremendous impact. So I do feel like I have largely emerged on the other side. And as…

BB: Absolutely.

TF: A therapist once said to me, “Take that wound and make it part of your medicine.” Meaning whatever you are giving to the world, you have, through the lens of your trauma, a window into this shared experience. It gives you the ability, should you hone it and develop it, to have empathy and perspective and sympathy for people in a way that allows you to be with your own unique life experience, incredibly helpful and healing for other people. So take that wound, make it part of your medicine. It can be turned from what you view as this black hole into a real asset, I think, if you approach it in certain ways. So that’s sort of the silver lining on the cloud, is that there is a way through and a way to transmute what has happened to you into something that allows you to heal yourself and help heal other people.

BB: Yeah, and in turn, heal the world, the community. Thank you for sharing that. Dax, sliding door moment for you.

DS: I would say that if I had assigned numbers to it, I would say Kristen was 49% sure she wanted to have kids, and I was 51.001% positive I wanted to have kids. We were kind of at a sweet spot in life where we both had made some money, we went to Africa on this incredible Safari. That was so fun. The gilded cage had presented itself. We were very comfortable, and we were having a lot of fun, and the thought of adding two dependents into the mix wasn’t so appealing, and some part of me just knew I’ve got to push 0.01%. So we just barely did it. We just barely decided to have the first kid, by the skin of our teeth. Even structured it in a way where we’re not trying, but guess what, she was pregnant. And yeah, what an experience. I had fantasies about how all of these other achievements or moments in life would feel, and all of them were not what my fantasy was, and this thing has overdelivered in every single way, and is a pain in the ass. That’s the thing I just think all the time like, “Thank God, we just tipped a hair in that direction.”

BB: What does fatherhood mean to you, Dax?

DS: Well, there’s a lot of things that are healing about it for me personally, which is I used to resent my father most of my life because he left when I was 3, and I saw that as something that had happened to me. And I think my daughter was maybe a year old, and the thought of missing the next 17 years of her life is the single worst fear I have. I can’t imagine her on this planet and me not observing it. And I went, “Oh my God, my dad was the victim.” I feel so sad for my dad genuinely. What a bummer he missed it. It’s much worse to miss your child’s life than to miss your parent’s life, just for whatever reason. Offering a woman unconditional love without any fear of commitment, not an ounce like, “Yeah, girl, you’ve asked me to be there to the end, I’m dying to.” That’s a unique feeling, I’d never had. I love Kristin. I’ve loved a couple other women I’ve dated for a long periods of time. I love them, and there’s always 5% of my fear I’m going to have to be inconvenienced by this human being, and I don’t know if it’s worth it. And to look at two people that I’m excited to be endlessly dedicated to, I don’t know that I would’ve have that feeling in a life without that. And it’s a beautiful feeling.

BB: Do you think about the work of parenting as unrelenting as the joy?

DS: Yes, yes big time.

BB: Worrying.

DS: And that thing we talked about earlier, which is like, you better fucking know why you’re doing things at all times. You cannot afford to be mindless in this. If you’re punishing them for this reason, you better be standing on really firm ground or that’s my commitment. So, the self-introspection is just quintupled, because I don’t want to do things out of fear to them. I don’t want to pass any of that shit on.

BB: Me either.

DS: And I’m less willing to do that to them than I am to other people.

BB: Yeah. For me, my sliding glass door was Steve and I dated for off and on for seven years, and then we broke up, and we were living together. It was the first time we had lived together, and I packed up and moved out. And it was over over, and I missed him, and I think he missed me, but I needed it to be over. And he showed up on Christmas morning at my house in Houston and proposed to me in front of my entire family. So we have it on video, and all you hear is my brother going, “Dude, that took balls. Aren’t y’all broken up?”

DS: Talk about swinging for the fences.

BB: Yeah. Because I opened the front door and I was like, “What are you doing here?” And he’s like, “I just wanted to see you.” And I was like, “We’re not seeing each other right now.” Or like, “We’re broken up. This is it. This is a big breakup.” And so I think my sliding door moment was definitely opening the door on Christmas morning. I can’t imagine my life without him, or our kids, or our family. And it has pushed extreme clarity for me around what I’m doing and what I’m not doing, where I say yes and where I say no. He makes me a better person, and I think he makes the world a better place in general. So it was a ballsy move.

DS: You’re objective enough to recognize that didn’t go the way, high percentage way.

BB: No.

DS: If you guys break up a bunch of times and then someone shows up and erratically proposes…

BB: No, no, and in fact, six months in I was seeing my therapist and I said, “It’s just not working. You know, I’m going to divorce Steve.” And she said, “I can see that. That makes sense to me.” And I said, “Oh shit, man, really?” And she goes, “He likes you so much more than you like you. It must be really frustrating.” I was like… [laughter] It was so painful. I was like, “You’re fired.” And he did, he liked me more than I liked me, and it took me a couple more years to get there. He’s a patient guy.

DS: My mom in her never-ending wisdom, she has said to me many times when I was batting around the idea of a break-up, she’ll go, “You should totally break up with her. You will have to deal with this issue, if not in your next one, your third… You’re going to deal with this issue, so yeah, break up with her, spend three more years in la la land and then deal with it in four years.” [chuckle] She goes, “Why don’t you just practice on this one because you’re going to get out of it anyways? It’s a no-risk opportunity to try out working through it.”

BB: I mean, it’s absolutely true. Tim, what are your thoughts on love?

TF: Yeah, I mean, I think love and the search for beauty over productivity and using a lot of adjectives and nouns I wouldn’t have used five years ago is the single biggest shift for me in so many ways. So love is very top of mind for me. I love listening to the two of you talk about your families because I’m certainly thinking about, along with my girlfriend, of having kids together, and I was never… I should say for certainly 30 plus years, I was never 50.001% in, I was… [chuckle] I was hard no, I was 100% no because I thought it would be so selfish to bring a life into this world when I was so confident that I would either damage them through bad parenting or pass on defective genetic material that would doom them to lives of depression and despair, and I was just like, “No, that’s a terrible, selfish decision, therefore, 0%.” And it’s only through the process of doing a lot of work over the last… Let’s just call it eight years or so, total, that I’ve reached a place where I feel very good about considering family. And I’m glad I didn’t do it earlier. I do not think I would have been in the right place or space to fully dedicate myself to children, say 10 years ago. I think that would have probably almost certainly have been a bad decision, but 43, not getting any younger. And I think that love and family are very top of mind for me at the moment.

BB: That’s beautiful.

DS: If I could suggest this concept, I learned it in The Broken Ladder, the income inequality book, it’s fantastic, people should read it, but it’s all about what cultures down compare versus up compare, and we all up compare and we’re all miserable because of it. I would suggest you down compare. So on your worst day of estimating what kind of parent you’ll be, go to the grocery store, take a look around, and I guarantee even with your shitty, shitty evaluation of your abilities, you will see someone doing it far worse than you could do it on your worst day.

TF: Good advice. Good advice.


BB: That is so true, and sad, but it’s true. You know what, I’m a better older parent, like I had Ellen in my mid-30s, and I had Charlie at 40. I would not have been a good 25-year-old mom. I was still drinking for first of all, and doing a lot of other stupid shit, but the only commitment I have is like I have to be in shape, I have to take care of myself and my body and my spirit, because I’m going to be like college graduation on the walker, but I’ll be there.


BB: But I had the same fear and the same commitment to not work my shit out on my kids. I’ve heard you talk about that too, Dax, and we don’t. And we’re super honest with our kids about what we come from and what we’ve been through. My kids are now… I have a 21-year-old and a 15-year-old, and they know things like, “Let me tell you why we’re strict about drinking, because genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger, and you may have one beer and not be able to stop until you’re in rehab.” We talk about our lives. And they get it. And now that Ellen’s a senior in college, she’s seeing it. You know, she’s seeing it. I will tell you from the moment you decide, at least in my experience, and everyone I’ve ever interviewed around it for the research, the moment you decide, this is something I want, it is the most excruciating and exquisite vulnerability that you experience, I think. It’s a thing. Alright, rapid fire, and here’s what’s going to happen, we’re wrapping up with a rapid fire, we’re going to go in order this time. Dax, you’re first.

DS: Okay.

BB: Fill in the blank. Rapid fire. Vulnerability is…

DS: Honesty.

BB: Tim, vulnerability is…

TF: I was going to say being honest, so we’re on the same page.

BB: That’s great. Dax, you’re called to be brave, but the fear is real. You can feel it in your throat. What is the very first thing you do?

DS: Get into action.

BB: Tim?

TF: Breathe. Focus on breathing.

DS: Regrettably, get into action.


BB: I’m an action bias girl, too. Dax, what’s something that people often get wrong about you?

DS: I try not to think of what people think of me, I don’t know. I hear mostly, “You’re taller than I thought you’d be,” or I hear, “Wow, you’re smarter than I thought you’d be,” so I guess those two.

BB: Interesting. I knew you were whip smart, got a little intimidated when we did that live event together in Austin. I knew you’re whip smart, I didn’t think you’d be so generous and funny.

DS: Oh, look at that.

BB: Yeah, I knew you were going to be smart, so I was prepped. [laughter] Tim, what’s something people get wrong about you?

TF: Yeah, for me, I would say misconception is that I’m about doing the least possible in a bunch of different areas, and it’s really… [laughter] It’s more about finding non-obvious, elegant solutions. Testing and finding non-obvious elegant solutions, and those all go together. I’d say that’s what comes to mind for me.

BB: Is the stereotype because of the Four-Hour stuff? Have they not read it?

TF: Yeah, some of our greatest blessings end up also being our greatest curses, so the Four-Hour title will continue forever. That’s okay, I retired the jersey a few years ago with the book titles, but it doesn’t matter.

BB: Yeah, no, yeah.

TF: I have the cattle brand on my forehead.

DS: If I ever catch you doing anything in life for five hours, I’m going to sound the alarm. [laughter]

TF: I know. I know. Join the line.

BB: Yeah, and I’m like excellent at four hours and be like, “Oh my God, after you finish your PhD in Kathmandu, and you do these exercises, a kettlebell on your head, you’ll be able to reduce it,” I’m like, “This is shit ton of work to get to four hours, that’s all I know.” So I do not think of you that way. Dax, the last TV show you binged and loved.

DS: Oh my god, “Queen’s Gambit.” Whoo.

BB: Jesus. Me too, brother.

DS: Oh, what a perfect, perfect, perfect show.

BB: Perfect. Tim.

TF: The last one was “Undone,” which is an incredible rotoscoped animated, I think it’s an eight-part series, that talks about reality, schizophrenia, altered states, and tells the story through the eyes of this young woman who has a car accident and wakes up questioning where she is and who she is.

BB: Wow. What…

TF: Brilliantly done, it’s called “Undone,” and you can find it on Amazon.

BB: Got it.

DS: Ooh.

BB: Favorite movie, Dax. I know you’ve got a lot of them, but give me one that you just love.

DS: “Pulp Fiction.”

BB: “Pulp Fiction.” Tim?

TF: “Spirited Away,” that’s a Japanese animated film.

BB: Yes. Death by paper cuts. Like, yes, that’s a… Yeah. Dax, a concert you’ll never forget.

DS: Oh, Steely Dan. I think the best live band ever. They have the best studio musicians that come on the road, man, it’s dynamite.

BB: I have a dream one day that you and I are going to do a yacht rock like karaoke competition. I will wipe you up. You will be screaming for a Doobie Brother help.

DS: Challenge accepted.

BB: Okay, it’s on. Concert for you, Tim.

TF: I have super sensitive hearing, so I don’t go to many concerts, so my answer will be especially funny. Oz Fest, which is this multi-stage basically heavy metal event, kind of like Lollapalooza at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. And I went because my apartment, my shitty ass apartment right out of college, was like a mile down the street and you couldn’t get anything done because it was so goddamn loud, so I was just like, “Alright, I’m done, I’ll just… If you can’t beat them, join them.” And it ended up being amazing.

DS: Look at this piece of shit.

Kristen Bell: Hi, my friends.

BB: Oh, we love her. We love her so much.

DS: This is why people book me on things, because there’s always a 5% chance she’ll blow through the background.

BB: It’s worth it.

S4: Looking for keys.


BB: Favorite meal, Dax.

DS: A bolognese.

BB: Bolognese. Tim?

TF: Japanese breakfast. Anything that approximates Japanese breakfast, like fish on rice with miso soup and all that good jazz and pickled stuff. That’s the jam for me.

DS: Are you a Japanophile? From the last few answers, it sounds like…

TF: Yeah, I know, I seem to be leaning in one way. I lived there as an exchange student for a year, from 15 to 16. So it’s really shaped who I am in a lot of ways.

DS: Can I ask if you could sum up in two sentences, what are they doing right that we’re doing wrong?

BB: Good question.

TF: Thinking about we instead of the me.

DS: Yeah, yeah.

BB: Collectivity. Yeah. What’s on your nightstand, Dax?

DS: Holy shit, what is not on my nightstand? [laughter] It is the most embarrassing sector of my life. Every book I get sent that I don’t read, every wax ear plugs that I sleep with, 16 remote controls. It’s a shit show. It’s like a fucking gym locker. It’s so bad. [laughter]

BB: Oh, I’m so glad I asked. I never got that answer. It’s so good. Tim? I bet yours is really organized.

TF: It has a bunch on it, but I’ll pick a few items. I have an Oura Ring, so I use my Oura Ring for tracking sleep. I have a lot of… Historically, a lot of sleep issues. I have a Kindle and I have a small statue of a coyote.

BB: What does that mean?

TF: There’s a great book, I think it’s Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World and it’s about trickster mythology across cultures, and the coyote is thought of, the term that’s used at one point in the book, is a boundary walker. In a lot of Native American lore, the coyote is not just the trickster, the prankster, the coyote also is the bridge between the gods and the mortals, and in some cases steals fire, like Prometheus, and provides it to human kind. So I like the idea of being a boundary walker, which is kind of how I view my job.

BB: Beautiful.

DS: I thought for sure the coyote was going to be mythical in Japan.

TF: Yeah.

BB: Oh, that’s where my money was, too.

TF: I am very interested in Japanese mythology, but maybe for another time. [laughter]

BB: Another time.

DS: Can I interrupt rapid fire for one second to tell you, Tim, I’m halfway through the Genghis Khan book?

TF: Oh, nice. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.

DS: That’s right.

TF: Great book, yeah.

DS: My hunch is you’re not even on page one of Titan, is that a fair guess?

TF: I am not on page one, but I have the thumbnail in my Kindle. I bought it and I downloaded it, so I do have Titan.

DS: Alright, I just wanted to demonstrate I’m more dedicated to this friendship than you are.


BB: I bought both these books because of y’all.

TF: Amazing.

DS: What book did you buy? Both?

BB: Both of them. Great episode with Bill Gates, it was such a fun episode. I liked y’all chugging the diet Cokes and laughing, it was just great. But Titans, explaining that, then and when y’all were together on Tim’s podcast, I got ‘em… I haven’t started either one of them, I was worried about the Genghis Khan one being too violent for me, but I’m going to give it a shot.

DS: Thus far, not very violent. It’s more philosophical, as Tim pitched it. It’s really interesting.

BB: Okay.

DS: Yeah, it’s also an incredible look into that culture of that era and how they lived and what their environment forced them to… It’s fascinating.

BB: I’m making myself read it before I get my 23andMe results.

DS: Oh yeah, you’ll be dying for some Genghis Khan.

BB: Yeah. Okay, last two questions, both of you. A snapshot of an ordinary moment that gives you true joy, just a really ordinary everyday moment. Dax.

DS: Oh, a 100% when I lay in bed with my girls in both nooks.

BB: Tim?

TF: The first one that comes to mind is, if my dog goes out with the dog walker and comes back, I lay down on this one carpet, and ever since she was two or three months old, she would crawl up on my chest and kind of put her paws on my shoulders and lick my face, and now she’s 65 pounds, but we’ve done the same thing every day, and so she’ll jump up on my shoulders, knock me down and have a cuddle fest.

DS: That’s more effort than I’ve put into raising children. You’re going to be fine.


BB: That’s exactly what I was thinking. I was like, you’re going to crash the parenting thing, right there. Like just the consistency alone is the key right there.

TF: Yeah. Clicker Training my Children. That’ll be my memoir.

BB: You’re going to be good at it. Okay, last one, tell me one thing you’re grateful for, Dax, right now in your life.

DS: Currently, my health.

BB: Yes. Jesus. Tim?

TF: I’m grateful for my wonderful, beautiful, incredibly emotionally intelligent girlfriend who has helped me to grow tremendously in the time that we’ve spent together. I feel like a better person with her, I feel like more of myself with her, so I feel very grateful for her.

BB: Thank y’all so much and thanks for the work you do and the conversations and interviews, and just making us smarter and making us laugh and making me just feel more connected and human. I’m grateful for those things. For both of you.

DS: Same to you, I’m flattered to be in this trio right now.

TF: Yeah, me too. Thank you for gathering us.

BB: Absolutely, thank y’all.

DS: Alright, lots of love, and I’m not going to sign off too quick.

TF: Bye, guys.

BB: Bye.


BB: I hope y’all are taking something meaningful away from our conversation. I really loved it, it was fun to talk to two people who both interviewed me for their podcast, and two people who I feel connected to, and two guys who seem to care more about the path to hope and healing and wholeness than protecting the norms of masculinity in our culture today. And I am grateful for that, I appreciate their honesty, their vulnerability and their generosity. Again, Dax’s podcast is Armchair Expert, and Tim’s is The Tim Ferriss Show. Really highly recommend you listen to both of them, just scroll through, they have so many episodes and find a guest you really love and just listen. I think you’ll learn something, I think you’ll laugh and have a good time in the process. You can find Dax online at Dax Shepard, just Dax Shepard on Twitter and Instagram, his website is You can find Tim online at tferriss on Twitter and timferriss on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. His website is simply We’ll put all the links per usual on the episode page on Again, thank you for listening. I want to remind you that we are taking some time off for rest and play over the holidays, so we will be back with Dare to Lead and Unlocking Us the week of January 11th, so our first episode back for Dare to Lead is on January 11th.

BB: And then our first episode back for Unlocking Us on January 13th. Right now over on the Dare to Lead podcast, which is exclusively on Spotify, I talk with Jim Collins. It is another deep dive, a two-hour conversation, Jim’s work, his books, Good to Great, Beyond Entrepreneurship, his books completely changed the way I lead, the way I work, the way I think, the way I research, it was a real… Just coup for me to be able to talk to Jim Collins for two hours. We talk about our values, shadow values, the power of curiosity, we talk about grounded theory research, we geek out on that a little bit, and we talk about how Jim has put 30 years of research around leading and building good organizations and entrepreneurship into one integrated framework that he calls the map. If you are an entrepreneur, if you are a leader, if you’re interested in organizational development or culture, this is a don’t miss podcast. Again, Dare to Lead podcast is available exclusively on Spotify, it’s also free to listen to, but you do have to listen on Spotify, and a reminder that in late January, Unlocking Usis moving over to Spotify as well.

BB: Again, you can still listen for free, you can listen from my web page, you can download Spotify and listen on your phone. Everything will be there by the end of January. I just want to say 2020 has been one hell of a year. It has been heartbreaking, and we’ve seen people do heroic things, and we have learned, and we’ve had to unlearn. We’re exhausted, we’re weary, and we’re also really, I think, optimistic and hopeful about a different 2021. I just want to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you for listening, thank you for walking alongside of me, thank you for leading me when I needed to be led. Just deeply grateful. I don’t know if you know this, but Apple named Unlocking Us the number one new podcast of 2020. And so the fact that we had to cancel our launch at South By Southwest in March, and bootstrap this from my house, it’s been kind of shocking. And it’s just, I owe that to you. I owe that to each of you, I could not have done that by myself, and so thank you again to this community. I’m grateful that we get to be together this way and tell stories and learn together.

BB: Alright, y’all, awkward, brave, and kind. I will see you in the new year. Take care of yourselves and each other. Unlocking Us is a Spotify original from Parcast. It’s hosted by me, Brené Brown, and it’s produced by Max Cutler, Kristen Acevedo, Carleigh Madden, by Weird Lucy Productions, and by Cadence 13. Sound design is by Kristen Acevedo, the music is by Carrie Rodriguez and Gina Chavez.

© 2020 Brené Brown Education and Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Brown, B. (Host). (2020, December 16). Brené with Tim Ferriss and Dax Shepard on Podcasting, Daily Practices, and the Long and Winding Path to Healing. [Audio podcast episode]. In Unlocking Us with Brené Brown. Cadence 13.

Back to Top