Over the years, somebody on the internet somewhere coined a phrase that perfectly summed up the struggles of modern society in most parts of the world: “first world problems.”
You’ve heard it before – those minor inconveniences (“There’s no WiFi on this plane!”) or even luxuries that can be viewed as negative (“This hotel puts too much orange zest in their mimosas!”). Here’s one that we don’t spend much time thinking about: “I actually have achieved my goals. What now?”
Doesn’t sound like a problem? What if you’ve dedicated your life – every fiber of your being, late nights, early mornings, weekends, all your precious free time and energy – to reaching this goal?
Working towards a goal can be difficult and stressful at times, but ultimately, a goal gives you a purpose. When you achieve it, you could really risk losing the very thing that has kept you going all these years.
In this episode of The School of Greatness podcast, I sat down with bestselling author, blogger, and internet entrepreneur Mark Manson to talk about the dark side of success and how to handle it.
Mark Manson is not your average self-help coach. He gives advice (that doesn’t suck) to people who are tired of feeling hopeless, empty, and confused about this crazy thing we call life. His blog is a precious resource, housing articles, videos, podcast episodes, and even courses about how we can become happier people and achieve our dreams.
Mark knows a thing or two about achieving dreams, too: his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: The Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, was (and still is!) a massive worldwide bestseller. More than two million copies sold in its first year, and right now, that number is around seven million and climbing! Nothing prepares you for success like this.
Of course, Mark got to celebrate a little bit. He went on some trips, bought some fancy toys and gadgets, and played Zelda for months on end, but this was only fun for about a month. Mark found himself in a spiraling depression, asking himself, “What now? What’s the point of all this?”
Mark had to wade through some difficult answers to that question.
In this episode, we talked about how he managed that success – as well as how he’s worked through various failures in his life.
Mark always wanted to become a successful author, but after writing a worldwide bestseller, it was as if he had nothing left to accomplish. How can you beat that? He could write more books, but chances are, they wouldn’t sell as many copies as The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. In other words, he was living in the shadow of his own success.
Achieving your dream only to feel purposeless in the end doesn’t seem worth it.
Luckily, Mark didn’t stop here. “What got me out of the fetal position,” he says, “was just accepting that I’m probably never gonna have a book that does that well. I’m still gonna do very well. My other books sell very well and can be great and can help a lot of people. You can’t get too attached to that number because you’re gonna torture yourself for the rest of your life.”
Accepting your success is the first step to overcoming the slump. So you accomplish your goal – Great! Celebrate that! But once the celebrating stops, accept your success, be proud of it, but ultimately let it go. It’s time for a new dream to take its place. When we don’t have a dream, we don’t have a mission or purpose in life.
Mark continued to do what he does best. His next book Everything is F*cked is (ironically) a book about hope. He decided to write about what he was struggling with – feeling hopeless in the shadow of his own success. “The material world is totally not the point,” he said. “It’s a side-effect.” In other words, making more money, increasing those numbers, and taking fancier trips – that’s just a never-ending pursuit to beat yourself. It’s hopeless.
In his new book, Mark also talks about how media and technology shape our perception of the world, making it seem like everything is going to hell when it actually isn’t. He includes psychological research showing that technology takes advantage of our flaws instead of helping them. It’s so easy to hide behind social media and assign blame. It can really turn us against each other. When you check Twitter, you might be tempted to think that the apocalypse is upon us – everyone is at each other’s throats – and this is when the hopelessness comes in.
Thankfully, Mark doesn’t stop here either.
The first thing Mark says to do when you’re experiencing hopelessness is to develop a sense of values. For you to have a vision of hope, you need to focus on something worthwhile and valuable.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be something extraordinary or ridiculous like becoming the prime minister of Czechoslovakia or setting a Guinness world record. It could mean spending more time with your family, helping kids at a local school, or consistently exercising three days a week to reach your fitness goals.
It’s also common for us to think of a LOT of values we want to pursue, but sometimes, this can be just as hopeless. If you want to accomplish too many things, then you might end up doing nothing at all, because you’ll be overwhelmed by the pressure of doing so many things at once.
Mark urges you to choose the value that is most important to you and make it the central focus of your life.
What is more valuable than what you have today? And I’m not talking about money here – what is something in your life that, if you achieved, would honestly make you happier?
No one likes to be stressed. But when you’re not experiencing any sort of pain in reaching your goals, then it’s likely that you will find yourself just as hopeless as when you started.
In this episode, Mark and I talk about what he calls the “Goldilocks amount of stress and pain” that we all need in our lives. Anything that’s valuable demands sacrifice. If your goal is to exercise and lose weight, but your heart rate stays at static 100 BPM as you walk idly on the treadmill while looking at your phone, then you’re not exactly taking the steps needed to reach your goal.
Mark explains that this moderate amount of pain is just what we need to stay motivated and empowered in order to achieve our goals. Here’s a paradox – by most metrics we’re safer, healthier, and living longer in human history, yet everyone is freaking out. Anxiety and depression rates are higher than ever, and “everything is f*cked.”
If you’re too pampered, you essentially remove a sense of value from your life and that removes a sense of purpose. Losing a sense of purpose means anxiety, depression, and a crisis of hope. Mark explains that with the more comfort and luxury we experience, the more we have to be selective in choosing our discomforts, our stresses, and our sacrifices.
On the other hand, if you go to the gym and destroy yourself for hours to reach your fitness goals, you’re gonna get injured and it’s gonna backfire. If you have too much stress or pain then you damage yourself. Listen to your body, heart, and mind to find the amount of sacrifice that’s healthy and works well for you.
Mark Manson has definitely undergone some stress. He recently went on a speaking tour, covering 14 cities, and admitted to feeling “mortified” about the idea, but he was pushing himself, his skills, and his ideas to continue reaching his goal of inspiring people across the world.
Also, no big deal, but famous actor, comedian, and music artist Will Smith came knocking at his door, saying, “Hey man, I want to write a book [about] my legacy and I want your help.”
Talk about some serious pressure, right?
Will Smith has a lot to say about success, stress, and achieving your goals. He’s been in the entertainment business since he was 17. He’s been at the top of music, TV, film – basically everything. In this episode, Mark shares a story that Will Smith shared with him, about pushing yourself and enduring an insane amount of stress.
In the early 90s, Bad Boys was Will Smith’s first feature film that really gained him some popularity. The studio was unsure that the film would sell internationally, so Will volunteered to go to several different countries for premiers and hundreds of interviews. He’d do all this on the weekends while filming Fresh Prince of Bel Air! The studio started giving him much nicer offers and more attention, and what he learned is that being an actor is not about the movie -the movie is only half of the job as an actor. The other half is selling it to people.
How do you keep a crazy lifestyle like this up? Will Smith had an answer:
“You know what the trick is? What you do is you bite off more than you can chew, agree to do more than you think is possible, and then you just go and do it.”
What if you spent those hours binge-watching Netflix into hours of community service? What if you don’t walk at the gym, but run? What if you stopped daydreaming about your goals and instead worked toward achieving them?
Balance is important (remember Goldilocks?), but so is sacrifice.
And second, don’t succumb to the pressure of achieving your dreams all by yourself. Developing healthy relationship habits with people you trust is vital in order to maintain balance. We need people to be happy. It’s that simple.
Sometimes, you achieve your dreams, but are left feeling empty. Sometimes, you feel so overwhelmed by your dreams that you can’t get off your couch. Sometimes, you may look at all the political unrest, the news reports, the social media posts, and everything seems hopeless. I know I do sometimes. If you’re feeling hopeless, this episode is for you
As a best-selling author, Mark Manson has a lot to say about achieving success but also processing success. Ultimately, you’re never going to reach a place in your life when “you’re done,” because lounging on a desert island is not satisfying in the end. There are always new values to pursue, new people to meet, and new risks to take, and these things give us purpose.
Mark’s definition of greatness is “giving a 100% for whatever you value, whether it being the best mom the world has ever seen or the best preschool teacher or lawnmower man” – That’s what matters!
Zelda also matters, too. Mark wants you to know that Zelda is a great game, but it shouldn’t be a lifestyle. Don’t remove the challenge in your life: Embrace it. Learn how in Episode 793.
Lewis: This is episode number 793 with number 1 New York Times best-selling author Mark Manson. Welcome to the school of greatness my name is Lewis Howes, a former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today now let the class begin.
Les Brown said “Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life.” Super excited about this episode we’ve got Mark Manson in the house. He is a NYT best-selling author, blogger, and entrepreneur. His mega hit book ‘The subtle art of not giving a fuck’ was a massive worldwide best-seller selling almost 2 million copies in the first year alone. It’s called the self-help book for people who paid self-helped and recently actor Will Smith discover the book and recruited Mark to support him on his future book.
In this episode we talked about what people don’t tell you about success and how to handle success when you have it. Mark’s journey working with Will Smith behind the scenes and some incredible stories about Will. Where you can find hope when you have a big breakdown or setback. What Mark calls the goldilocks formula for pain and how to prevent burnout in work and life, so how do you avoid this in chasing big goals and dreams? I am very excited make sure to tag me on Instagram and tag Mark Manson as well over there and let us know what you think lewishowes.com/793.
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Big thank you to our sponsors and I am so excited about this interview without further ado let me introduce to the one and only Mark Manson.
Welcome everyone back to the school of greatness podcast we’ve got the legendary Mark Manson in the house. Super pump to have you on because when we had you about a year and a half ago the book had done like 2 million copies and now you’re telling me 7 and half million worldwide.
Mark: Yeah, 7 and a half million worldwide.
Lewis: Congrats on all the success. How many people have sold 7 and a half million copies of a book? Probably like less than a thousand books.
Mark: I have no idea I think it’s, I saw a list once of all the 10 million copies sold books in the last 10 years and there was only like 8 of them. I try not like project, I try not to get attach to it.
Lewis: Are you seeing week after week sales are growing? Or is it kind of steady?
Mark: They started and peaked I would say mid last year. So now they’re very gradually coming down, like now I think 30 of them before like 10.
Lewis: So supposed before it was 100,000 a week it was 70,000 a week?
Mark: I wish.
Lewis: But at some point you were probably doing that right?
Mark: You know holiday season gets really good but I mean it’s still doing super well.
Lewis: How many weeks on the list?
Mark: 120 weeks.
Lewis: 120 weeks on the NYT crazy. Is there any other book? I guess 5 love languages?
Mark: 5 love languages is like 400 weeks.
Lewis: It’s amazing. I had Rachel Hollins on and she’s 1 or 2 on the NYT list recently for her new book, I think she sold 3 million copies or something I heard in a year which is crazy.
Mark: So when my next one comes out I feel her and I just gonna monopolize the whole times list.
Lewis: I wanted to ask you about this because we’re talking before and start recording about the [?] conversation and how she did this ted talk, I think it was a while ago when she eat, pray, love came out I think it sold 10 million copies, and she had this realization that her best work is behind her and maybe it’s not her best work but her best-selling work. And we’re saying now there’s nothing that prepares you for: 1. Being a huge success and blowing up. You wanted it to be but you want to be sure that it would be this big. And then 2. How do you handle almost knowing that it’s going to be so hard to recreate the same success or greater for the rest of your life?
Mark: Well you just accept that you’re not, maybe I will but I can’t you just have to accept. A book like this and a book like ‘eat, pray, love’ it’s such a, it’s not even once in a lifetime you know it’s book like this come out once every 5 years. So, if you aim to do it twice you’re just gonna drive yourself insane because there’s just so much outside of your control. So, for me what actually got me out of the fetal position ever day was just accepting that you know, it’s like I’m probably never gonna have a book that do that well, I’m still gonna do very well my other books sell very well and can be great and can help a lot of people. You can’t get too attached to that number because you’re gonna torture yourself for the rest of your life.
So, I just had to learn to let go of it I had to learn like it’s great that it did that I am extremely proud of it but it’s gotta move on got to find the next thing.
Lewis: I think of the Olympic gymnast like this 15 year old Olympic gymnast that wins the gold medal, where it’s like your greatest moment where a billion people watch you when you’re 14, 15 or 16 years old and then what will you do the rest of your life? You will never recreate that and you did this at 15, 16 or 17 and how does someone like that who has big success accept yourself? How do you accept yourself?
Mark: Yeah, and I’m gonna write a dozen more books and some of them will flop and others will be best-sellers. So, if everything if subtle artist mind that trick I’ve got a lot of decades of like misery in front of me you know it’s just you have to be realistic about it. And I think the other thing too is understanding that I did some mental jujitsu and I was asking myself ‘what’s more valuable to the word?’ is writing a book that affects a million a little bit or 10,000 very profoundly.
Mark: You know who’s to say which one of those things is better or more important more valuable? Sure selling a million copies is sexier you know it gets you more attention and interviews, but there’s a strong argument that affecting 10,000 people very deeply is arguably more valuable contribution to the world. So, I started thinking of things in that way it took me a long time to kind of detached myself from that, because I think when you’re starting yourself as a writer and everything you love seeing the numbers go up, it’s like every year the numbers are higher than before and it feels good and motivates you. At some point though like once that number gets high enough you got to let go of it, you got to let go of it because it’s not sustainable once it’s that high. It was a difficult process to kind of get back to like ‘Okay, I need to write a book step 1 write a book I love.’ Because when I started this next book everything is fucked. So, I like start trying to write stuff that you know subtle art readers are really gonna love and it felt very empty, it felt like a job which I didn’t become an author to have a job. Then once I had a book that I am proud of that I think is great then I can look at it and say “Okay, how can we maybe change this or market this so that it will sell a lot of copies?” That’s step 2 but step 1 it always had to be in a creative process it always has to be by yourself first.
Lewis: So you went to a process of huge success but it also sounds like a little sadness and forcing yourself to try to create the next thing because of the pressure from publisher and whatever you had and not being satisfied with the results you are creating.
Mark: I mean there was definitely external pressure you know publisher and everybody but there’s, I want to see my number go up. The other thing that happened and it’s funny because I think around the time I was here because I think we talked like a year after it was out or something a year and a half after. I actually got really bummed out which is something insane at the time.
So, I went to this period for about 6 months where I was just really ‘what’s the point of all this?’ like I worked so hard for 12 years to get to this point and what?
Lewis: Because you’ve written how many articles for your websites?
Mark: Hundreds, thousands. I started in 2007 online.
Mark: So, yeah it took the way I described it is it took time to find new dreams, new visions for like the future that I want for myself.
Mark: And it’s funny because since I went through that, I’ve got a group of friends who are like in the startup world out in New York. I know a couple of guys who have exited a really successful exits.
Lewis: Go through a depression also or like sadness?
Mark: I remember when I was talking with my buddies about it and I was like ‘I’m really bummed out and I feel insane.’ You wake up every single day for 10 years for a certain reason and then that reason is gone, and so you just lay in bed ‘well shit what am I gonna do today?’
Lewis: Yeah after you spent the money on a few fancy toys or trips or whatever it is.
Mark: It’s fun for like a month.
Lewis: Yeah, I think dream is one of the most important things and when we don’t have a dream we don’t have a mission or purpose in life. I remember a similar feeling when I was doing the decathlon in college. It was my goal to be an all American so I had to qualify for the national championship first and that was a process of qualifying. Then I got to the national championship and I had placed in the top 8 to be all American. The whole goal was how to be number 8 because I was brand new with the decathlon, I just started practicing 6 months prior. I remember I got in 8th place and I was on the podium and I got my trophy or whatever and I was very emotional, and about 10 minutes after I was really angry.
Lewis: My parents were there, my coaches like it was a big celebration. I was at a dinner table and I just didn’t want to be around anyone. I was kind of a jerk and didn’t want to look anybody in the eye I was frustrated because I didn’t think I realize I didn’t know what to do next. Everything I was working for was so dedicated every morning and happen.
Mark: Well some of that anger too because when you do accomplish that goal or that dream and it’s like ‘let’s be honest’ the reality is never be nice as it was in your head.
Lewis: You don’t really get the feeling that you are looking for.
Mark: And you’re the same person got the same problems.
Lewis: You think it’s gonna give you something.
Mark: Yeah or change you in some way. No, you wake up the next day and you’re the same dude. It’s funny because everything we’re talking about, I got a fit in the new book in here.
Lewis: Everything is fucked.
Mark: Everything is fucked the book about hope. So kind of going back to bringing these 2 treads together I eventually rich a point where I was like you know I’d pitch a bunch of book ideas to my publisher. I reached that point where I got to go back to basics, I got to write that is true to myself. My formula through my whole career has always been my writing is basically a very public form of therapy. So like whatever issues I’m going through I write it out and I write it out in such a way that you know hopefully other people can get something out of it as well.
Lewis: As for me the podcast too. I need the people that I need the most help with on relationship, business or whatever it is.
Mark: So, I went back to them and said “Let’s start out by writing about what I am struggling with” that’s the process of hope came in. So it made me realize that what’s going on in the material world is totally not the point, it’s a side-effect. What matters is do we have that vision of hope in our mind? Do we see a possible future for us to step into that will make our lives better? And as soon as you take away that vision we don’t know what to do with ourselves and we despair essentially. So that’s the starting point of the book is how we need to be constructing these dreams and visions for ourselves and what happens when they’re taken away.
Lewis: Or we achieved them and they are no longer there.
Mark: Achieving is one way of taking them away.
Lewis: So how does someone develop a sense of hope when they’re stuck or when they feel they’ve gone through a big breakdown in their life?
Mark: So, I think that’s where like a lot of classic self-help advice comes in, you know you start with something simple and small. Start with basic habits and goals and then they start to build upon themselves. And the funny thing was is that it was the exact same with my issue too, it’s like I said I basically sat around played Zelda for 3 months and it was strangely one of the most awful periods of my adult life. It’s like I’m living the dream.
Mark: It was the same thing. I told my agent like ‘go find me something.’
Lewis: Is that when Will Smith came about?
Mark: No, he came a little bit later but it was you know I was working my way out of this by the time his people contacted me.
Lewis: So how do we develop a sense of hope for ourselves? How do we create a new vision, a new dream?
Mark: So the 2 things that I talked about in the book is ‘1 you need to develop a sense of values.’ So, for you to have any vision of hope in the future something needs to be better or worthwhile, like it needs to be valuable.
Lewis: The life you are looking to create.
Mark: It can be anything. It can be helping kids at a local school. You need to decide that something is more valuable than what you have today and oddly a lot of people struggle with that. They don’t know which way to go, they don’t know what a better life would look like.
Lewis: Or they want to do so many things they do nothing.
Mark: And so they don’t go anywhere. It’s like pick that one thing that is kind of the central value in your life and then the 2nd component you need to feel of getting there. If I decided that the goal of my life is to be the prime minister of Czechoslovakia you know that’s not gonna happen. So, if you have this vision that is completely detached from reality and you see this a lot, people will pick goals or dreams that are just so out there that it gives them an excuse not to do anything.
Lewis: That’s the first kind of step figuring out what that is for you the bitter value?
Lewis: Not being so unrealistic but I think you also want to be like you want to push yourself probably right?
Mark: Totally because otherwise you’re not improving. One thing I talked about later on in the book is I think there’s a goldilocks amount of stress and pain in our lives if there’s no pain in our lives then there’s, like you said there’s sense of sacrifice that there’s anything valuable that we’re working towards, and so then we lose hope and meaning.
Lewis: So we should experience pain on the process?
Lewis: How much pain should we experience?
Mark: If you have no stress or pain then everything is just gonna feel meaningless because you’re not actually sacrificing, you’re not giving anything up to achieve something. But if you have too much stress or pain then you become traumatize and you damage yourself.
Lewis: It’s kind of listening to your body, listening to your heart and mind and make sure you are checking with yourself every week.
Mark: It’s like if you go into the gym you walk on the treadmill, like we’ve all seen those people come to the gym and are like walking one mile an hour on the treadmill on their phone, that’s not a workout. But at the same time if you go to the gym and destroy yourself for hours, you’re gonna get injured it’s gonna backfire. So, it’s the same thing with our psychology if we’re too pampered, if everything is too easy we essentially remove a sense of value from our lives and that removes a sense of purpose. So that causes crisis of hope and people struggle with depression and anxiety and things like that.
Lewis: When things are too easy we don’t have as much hope that’s what you’re saying?
Lewis: So, what are you doing now that you’ve got this first world problems?
Mark: This is actually one of the things I talked about in the book because there’s a little bit of a paradox going on in society today which is where by most metrics we’re safer, healthier, and living longer in human history, yet everyone is freaking out.
Lewis: Anxious, stress, depression.
Mark: And then you look at all the political crap that is going on you know. So there’s people that are just almost fever pitch thing happening in society despite the fact that everybody, like everything is the most comfortable it’s ever been. So one of my arguments is that the more comfort and luxury we experience the more we have to be selective, like we have to consciously choose our discomforts and our stresses. It’s very for that farmer to like find meaning in their life, but when you’re like living in a nice condo in L.A and you’ve got awesome opportunities happening. You have to seek out that stress because if you don’t pick those things to challenge and stress yourself you are going to start succumbing to all the little things.
Lewis: What are the pains that you choose for yourself?
Mark: I’m doing the speaking tour this summer like I’m doing 14 cities. I am mortified I am absolutely mortified but it’s good because it’s like I’m pushing myself and like pushing my skills and my ideas, and we joke about Will Smith knocking on your door, like dude that’s a lot of pressure. You get a guy like him and he comes to me and like “Hey man I want to write a book my legacy” and it’s like that’s on me. It’s good stress and good fear, because these are the fears that I want and this is the stress that I want. So, I think it’s so important today I think as a culture we’re just getting away from that, everybody wants to be coddled and protected all the time. Not only can’t you be coddled and protected all the time but it will back fire, it will the more you’re protected the more your feelings are always protected the more sensitive you are going to get to everything little thing in your life.
Lewis: Yeah, I think Jordan [?] when I had him on he said “Don’t protect your kids, don’t keep your kids safe.” Obviously you keep them safe, don’t protect them from their vulnerabilities like allow them to get stronger through the pain.
It’s interesting because I think a lot of people want to play safe and I’m always looking personally for way to challenge myself physically, mentally, and emotionally every day. Anyway we can push ourselves a little bit more is going to make us more fulfilled as well. So, how did this Will Smith thing come about? You know crushing a few million copies sold.
Mark: So, he been actually doing to do a book for a while and he read, I think his manager read and gave it to him and he read it and really liked it. So then he kind of tapped his team and ‘let’s go talk to this guy.’ It was late 2017, I was actually down here I went to Sony studio, well first I had some phone calls and then I went down to Sony studios and met with his team and it was pretty intense. But it make sense because they’re like checking my values you know it’s like if he’s gonna share his life with me and we need to make sure that our values aligned. So we got along and it went great and then they told me like ‘I think the next step for you is to actually meet Will and see if you guys get along well.” 4 months go by.
Mark: And the whole time in my head I’m like, you know don’t count your eggs before they hatch. I’m not gonna expect anything and I’ll just be glad if it happens. So suddenly I got an email “Will wants to meet you and we’ll fly you to London.” And I was like “Okay, cool let me know when and I’ll check my schedule.” And then they come back like 2 days from now. So, I had a conflict I had an event or something. 2 months go by and then they come again “You’re gonna fly out to Miami and you’re gonna meet him.” And this time I was ready. We kept going through this for months and I actually haven’t talked to them about this but I am pretty sure it was intentional, it was to see if I would basically be a [?]. His life is so crazy and his schedule is so crazy and like he can literally get into a plane and fly into another continent for an afternoon and then fly back that they need to make sure that I’m gonna be okay.
So, finally after about 6 or 8 months of this they said “Can you come down 2 days?” Plane ticket comes through.
Mark: And I’m like all right. So, I went down to Georgia and met him on, he was in the set of [?] and he comes out just fresh prince same as ever.
Lewis: Having fun.
Mark: He was goofing off, joking nicest guy in the world. I spent about 4 days with him and it was no pressure, it was just talk and get to know each other and then at the end of those 4 days it was actually fine. We’re at dinner with a group of 10 people and I’m sitting across from him like this and we’re all nice relax dinner, and also in the middle of the meal I was going home the next afternoon and the middle of dinner he just looks at me and he’s like “So, Mark we got a book or what?” And like the whole room goes silent. I told him I got some ideas but you know let me write it up and show it to you in the morning and he’s like “All right man let’s do it.” So, I ran back to my hotel room. I did have an idea that I felt really good about. So I went back to the hotel room and wrote it up and met him for breakfast, pulled up my laptop and showed him like a brief outline and 30 seconds he was like “This is it.”
Lewis: Wow. That’s pretty inspiring man.
Mark: It was absolutely crazy.
Lewis: But what can you share about the books and the interview you have done with him and the whole process since that moment. Did you take it to a publisher right away? Did it take 8 months?
Mark: That was about a year ago. So, we did publisher pitches in the summer. So he and I met up about once a month for 3 or 4 months just to get a proposal, for people who don’t know the process of making a book is you write out kind of 20 to 30 page proposal which is you’ve got an outline of the sample chapter, and maybe an introduction and then you take it to all the publishers and then they bid on it. So, we did that and he came here to New York over the summer and we took all the publisher meetings and it was funny because.
Lewis: Together you did it?
Mark: Yeah, we did it together
Lewis: What was that like?
Mark: Being in a room with him, I always tell my friends it’s like an alternate universe because it’s just the attention like the energy and attention like there’s this vortex around him and any room that he goes into, I mean part of it is just the level of his charisma but part of it is the celebrity thing and part of it, like if he goes into a hotel lobby it’s just bananas. People forget their working, security guards leave their post to come take a selfie. So, the publisher meetings was really funny because a lot of them were very star struck. It’s like these 3 people need to be here and those 9 definitely do not. So it was a little bit of circus but it was a hell of experience, like you know this too when you and I pitch to a publisher, you know you swept out to New York.
We basically posted up in a pent house in a hotel and they just shuttled all these publishers through.
Lewis: They came to you guys?
Mark: They came to us. We had multiple rounds of bidding so I think 23 publishers bid on it the first round and then we took the top 6 and went to second round. So, it was just surreal I mean the whole time I was just like enjoying the ride.
Lewis: What were the lessons you learned from an author perspective on how to approach publishers differently? Whether you’re a big star like Will Smith or not how could you take that lesson going into your next pitch alone?
Mark: So, actually one of the cool things about hanging out with Will is I’m learning a lot from him too along the way, and a lot of it is not stuff that’s gonna be in the book, a lot of it is just business type of things. He’s been in the entertainment business since he was 17, and he’s been at the top of music, TV, film everything. So, I remember one time he was telling me he said that after they did bad boys in the early 90s, bad boys was like his first feature film that kind of blew up. He said after he did bad boys him and Martin Lawrence he said that the studio were really unsure if it would sell well internationally. So, Will went to the studio and he’s like “Hey man any country you want me to go through I’m in.” And so the studio started sending him to London to Germany to Russia and he’d do every trip, he’d hop on the plane and fly and do a premier and do like 20 interviews. He’d do that on the weekends while filming fresh prince and he said that Martin Lawrence didn’t want to do the traveling, and then he said that what he noticed when it came time to do the next movie, like studio started giving him much nicer offers and giving him a lot more attention. And he said what he learned that it’s being an actor the job is not about the movie, the movie is only half of your job as an actor. The other half is you got to go out and sell it to people. It’s the same way as in publishing.
Lewis: As an author.
Mark: There are so many authors out there that spend 2 years on their book and then they’re like “Well, I’ll post it on twitter but why should I have to do anything? You guys should go do it.” So, my approach especially this time around is this is part of the job, even with subtle art I kind of gripe and complain a little bit.
Lewis: But now you’re doing this tour?
Mark: Yeah, I’m doing a tour and it’s my attitude this time around that’s completely change. It’s like this is part of the job, this is why they are paying me.
So, I flew out here to L.A on my own dime, I’m doing like 7 podcast and YouTube shows on my own.
Lewis: Luckily you got a lot of dimes saved up. It’s interesting I’ve heard him talk about before where he’s like knowing for being one of the people that stays the longest on the red carpet. That’s one big lesson, what other lesson you’ve learned so far?
Mark: I’ve done a number of trips with him. There’s a lot of little life things, you know he told me it was funny because when I was finishing my book that’s coming out next week, when I was finishing everything was fucked. So this fall he typical Will style like just, I got an email from his manager. So, I end up on this 2 week trip to India and Dubai. So, I’m doing Will’s book I’m finishing my book, I’m doing this project for audible and I’m running a website with 2 million readers.
Mark: So there was a few months this fall where I was probably the most stressed I’ve been since I started my business. So, I’m like this huge ball of stress and I get on this plane and I’m in the middle of India with Will Smith.
Lewis: Private jet?
Mark: Well once you get there it’s private jet. So, I’m sitting there on the jet with Will and we were talking about his career in the 90’s, he would film fresh prince during the week fly somewhere to do some promotional things on the weekends and then during breaks and between the seasons when he would film his next movie. So, I mean he’s just basically going 7 days a week and he’s recording like music and all these stuff. I was like “How the hell do you do it?” and he just kind of laugh and said “You know what the trick is? What you do is you bite off more than you can chew, agree to do more than you think is possible and then you just go and do it.” And it sound so simple but it was one of those moments where a switch click in my brain.
Lewis: You probably eliminate a lot of the down time that waste time too. You’re not playing video games, you’re not watching TV you’re just focus.
Mark: And it’s purely out of necessity like on that India trip I was up at 4 am writing my book for 6 hours before meeting up with him and then spending the afternoon with him. When I would go back to my hotel at night my team in the U.S was waking up, so I would check in on them on the website and then I go to bed. If you would ask me like I was capable of doing that 2 years ago I would have been like “Are you insane?” but it’s just I see when I’m with him I see him do it, like he’ll go film all day and then he’ll come back to the house and meet with his social media team and plan videos for that month until like 10 o’clock, and then he’ll go to bed and he’s been doing that for 30 years.
Lewis: What about someone who’s listening who says it’s not a very balance life?
Mark: I think that’s a really good point because I’ve had periods of my life where I have worked kind of insane 16 hour days or whatever and it just exhausting and stressful and everything else in my life kinds of falls apart, whereas with him he somehow does it like gracefully.
Lewis: He’s got a family and married.
Mark: And I think part of like you know watching him do it. I think if you’re doing something that really energizes that you love and then you do that with people that you love then there’s not really a need for balance.
Lewis: It’s true you’re doing everything you want all the time.
Mark: So you find a way to work the people you love into it or to have them with you while you are doing it.
Lewis: And you said he’s got an interesting philosophy on delegation what is that?
Mark: He told me something really cool and it’s funny because it’s advice that you hear a lot but just the way he put it is very powerful. So, when you hear people talk about delegation they’re like ‘you should do anything that you’re not great at, you should hire somebody.’ He said the same thing but he talked about it in like a moral way like he basically said “If I’m doing something.”
Lewis: Anything else.
Mark: “If I am doing anything else then I am ethically” Like it’s an ethical problem. He’s depriving the world of the thing that he’s world class at and he said “If I’m not hiring somebody whose world class at the thing I am bad at I’m doing the world a disservice by them not doing what they’re world class at.”
Lewis: That is powerful. What do you think his greatest challenge is? Being a superstar that everyone loves that he gets opportunities left and right, what do you see is like his biggest struggle or a way for him to get to the next level?
Mark: Well, I think the challenge for him lately is and this ties in a lot with what we’re talking about my last book. His biggest challenge the last 10 years has been redefining what the next level is.
Lewis: Reinventing himself.
Mark: For years and years it was always bigger movie and he hit a point where he was like ‘I need to change my metric for what the next level is.’ And that’s how those books came about. This is why we’re writing the book is he wants to share that process of like “Look I went out and conquered the world, achieved all these things.” It’s going to be an amazing book. It’s gonna be his whole life all the needy gritty details that lot of stuff he hasn’t talked about before and then about kind of how his whole philosophy and mindset has changed the last 6 or 7 years.
Lewis: If you can give him 1 piece of advice what would it be?
Mark: I don’t know man I’m gonna have to pass on that one.
Lewis: No advice?
Mark: You’ll have to wait. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say but I think its personal enough and the book is not out that I would hold on.
Lewis: And so this book everything is fucked a book about hope. Who is this really for? Who needs this right now?
Mark: So the people I wrote the book for there are 2 things that are kind of going on in our culture today. 1 is what we mention which is what we mentioned the increases in depression and anxiety, suicide, drug overdoses like all of those things are on the rise. I think there’s a real lack of, you know our cultures approach to those issues is either just medicated or ‘oh go see a therapist or something.’ You know like we don’t want to deal with it or something.
The second one is why do we all seemingly have the feeling that the world is going to help even though it’s not. You and I know we’re both on social media and I know when you get on it’s like you see the same things I do and everybody else does, like you would think that some days I would get on twitter and you would think the fucking apocalypse is upon us and it’s just people freaking out about this or that and they freak out and they argue and bicker and they try to tarnish each other and try to ruin each other’s reputation and then the next day it’s something else.
The book is also some look at how what is it about the way we’re getting information that causes this perceptions. What is it about the internet and the technology that has change our relationship with our culture so much that the feeling is we’re always at the [?]. I think everybody either likes to blame the media or everybody likes to blame social media or everybody likes to blame Facebook or Trump or whoever, I think there’s something underlying all of them. There’s like something more fundamental I think those are facts of like a more singular cost. So its deep stuff hopefully, my goal with it is to just help people chill out a little bit.
Lewis: Fine perspective too probably.
Mark: I think really the only way we’re gonna get through this is by really understanding how our relationship to this technologies affects us emotionally and it’s nobody’s fault, just our brains of all the certain way and that this technologies they react they cause that we aren’t even aware of.
Lewis: I just had a [?] recently and about the deep work and essentially the digital minimalism. Social media the addictive nature of it keeps us trap to feel anxiety, to feel stress and comparison and it’s hard to do meaningful and fulfilling work in our lives and we’re constantly in that loop of feeling trap.
Mark: Absolutely and one thing I talked about in the book is that I really think technology for how great it is, it is developed to take advantage of our psychological flaws rather than compensate for them. Our brains just don’t [?] rational creatures, we’ve got all sorts of prejudice and all these stuff. And instead of developing technology that like helps us get over those flaws that technology taps into them because it makes it more profitable.
Lewis: It’s powerful man. You guys can get the book right now it’s all about hope. Before I ask the final 2 questions I want to acknowledge you Mark for showing up. Because some people when they hit the top they can just stop and take it easy and play Zelda for 5 years. So you did that for a little bit but now you’re showing up and you’re challenging yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually to go beyond where you are right now in a different way. I really acknowledge you for that man because it could be super easy to say I want to ride this for the next 5 or 10 years.
Mark: I want to make sure that the audience knows Zelda is a really good game. I’m not ripping on Zelda but it’s sitting on that couch man and again this is what kind of an infused book is like I might big discovery like I’m not happy without challenge in my life. When you remove all the challenge I breakdown.
Lewis: I think most of us aren’t happy without a challenge. If we’re just sitting on a beach every single day it gets like boring. I mean sure it may be nice for a few months if you’re working your butt for life but its’s like we find fulfillment in the service of others, the challenges we faced and overcome. We don’t find fulfillment by just lying on a hammock 24/7.
Lewis: Everything handed to us.
Mark: I mean it’s funny because you got to learn that lesson over and over again. You know our brain just keeps tricking you.
Lewis: I think it’s important to make sure you give your body and your mind time to rest and to be on the beach for a week or 2 or whatever it maybe to reflect to recharge, but that shouldn’t be the norm.
This is called the 3 truths you answered it last time. So now that a year and a half has passed and you’ve done so many new things and new things in your life. Imagine this is the last day in your life 100 something years from now and you pick the day and you’ve accomplished everything. You’ve achieved everything you want you reinvent and have an amazing life. But it’s your last day and you’ve got to go and all of your work has to go with you, so no one has access to your word anymore but you get to leave people with message 3 things you know to be true about everything you experienced in your life, and this would be the thing that people have to remember you by. 3 lessons or 3 truths by Mark Manson.
Mark: I’ll say the 3 truths that are most salient for me today that I’ve learned recently or I felt very intensely. 1 is definitely that one like I need some stress to be happy. It’s funny because my 2017 I didn’t do my thing, well I did some things but I sat around a lot and mail a bunch of money. 2018 I was like working stress out of my mind and if I had to do one of those 2 years over again I do 2018 no question, like totally again. And that was a big realization that for whatever reason some stress and anxiety makes me happy.
2 I would say and again this might be salient only because we just talked about it I would say that there’s no actual end point to any of this, there’s no one goal that you’re gonna be like ‘awesome.’
Lewis: I’m done.
Lewis: Like there’s no you know and probably the same thing with kids and family like there’s just the way the we are constructed psychologically in such that we’re always mildly dissatisfied, and that’s by design and that’s what created civilization in the world. I think it’s important to hold that in our mind and be realistic about it. Don’t delude yourself that if you just had this one thing, if you just go live on an island or if you just get this car or whatever that everything is gonna be great it’s not.
3rd truth I think ultimately what matters most is just people, the connections you make and how connected you feel with others. So any sort of analysis you do in your head in terms of decision making, I think people underestimate human connection and overestimate material success and big numbers and stuff like that. So whenever you’re doing that analysis you know just pumped inflate the human connection number a little bit deflate the material value a little bit.
Lewis: that’s cool man. Anything else we need to know?
Mark: I think that’s it.
Lewis: Final question. What’s your definition of greatness?
Mark: My definition of greatness is just showing a 100% for whatever you value, whatever you care about like really just not leaving anything on the table, whether it’d be the best mom the world has ever seen or the best pre-school teacher or lawnmower man or whatever you are doing. If that’s what you’re doing and you’re showing up fully putting everything into it and getting better at it consistently like that’s what matter.
Lewis: There you have it my friends I hope you enjoyed this interview with Mark Manson. Make sure to check out his new book follow him over on Instagram and on social media and his blog of course. Make sure you share it with your friends lewishowes.com/793 let me know what you enjoyed the most out of this episode.
Be a hero to someone today by sharing this with one friend, text them this link for someone that you think that would inspire this would help to improve their life. Lewishowes.com/793
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The way to find more joy in your life is to have a clear direction of where you want to go or have some goals that allows you to move in a certain direction. Now, the answer is not just in the goals it’s in enjoying the moments every single day along the journey to getting there. Those maybe challenging they may be fun they may be exhilarating moments but whatever you do you must look at your goals as a road map as Les Brown said “Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life.” They show you what’s possible but you hold the key to seeing what’s possible for your joy and happiness by enjoying and appreciating the journey along the way. I love you so very much and you know what time it is, it’s time to go out there and do something great.
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