New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!


Mike Posner

Embracing Death, Making Music, and Finding Purpose

Work on yourself first, then share your light.

Every athlete needs an offseason.

They need time to train in different ways to strengthen their mind and body for a new year.

The more you work on yourself, the more you’ll be able to give.

Give your mind, your heart, and your soul the nurturing it needs to grow.

That’s why I was so excited to speak with an artist who is on a journey to find inner peace in order to share his gifts: Mike Posner.


“Smiles don’t result from good things, they result in good things.” @MikePosner  

Mike Posner is a singer-songwriter, poet, and record producer. Mike has co-written amazing hit songs like “Sugar” by Maroon 5, “Boyfriend” by Justin Bieber, and “Beneath Your Beautiful” by Labrinth. His debut album 31 Minutes to Takeoff includes the US Billboard Hot 100 singles “Cooler than Me” and “Please Don’t Go.” His 2017 book Tear Drops & Balloons is his first book of poetry.

Mike has been through a lot of loss in recent years, and he uses it all to make music and poetry.

Learn about Mike Posner’s journey and hear some of his new songs on Episode 706.

“I just do what’s cool to me, and sometimes the whole world agrees.” @MikePosner  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • What got you into songwriting? (6:10)
  • Where do your melodies come from? (7:35)
  • Did things change for you overnight after your big hit? (9:15)
  • What makes a song really go big? (15:46)
  • What’s the biggest struggle for an artist that has a hit? (18:30)
  • Who is your personal favorite greatest musician? (21:36)
  • What is the biggest lesson your dad taught you? (30:02)

In this episode, you will learn:

    • About Mike’s struggle with depression (18:46)
    • What makes a song a hit (24:35)
    • What the death of loved ones taught Mike (27:01)
    • What keeps artists happy when they’re not touring (44:10)
    • How Mike uses meditation to be more present (45:05)
    • Plus much more…

Connect with
Mike Posner

Transcript of this Episode

Lewis Howes:                 This is episode number 706, with Mike Posner.

Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, 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.

“Learning is not child’s play, we cannot learn without pain.” – Arisotle.

Today we have my friend, Mike Posner, who is a singer/songwriter, record producer and poet on the episode. He’s known for releasing the popular studio albums, 31 Minutes To Take-off, and At Night Alone.

He’s written songs for many popular artists like Justin Bieber, Labyrinth, Maroon 5, Nick Jonas, Big Sean, Nelly, Austin Mahone, and many others. He has earned numerous nominations for prestigious awards, like Grammys, and the MTV Video Music Awards.

Today we go through a wide range of emotions. We have a lot of fun while playing a song together, we play the guitar and sing together, we also talk about death and what death has taught him about the value of his own life.

He shares deeper about what losing his father, recently, and losing Avicii to suicide, has taught him about life. We also talk about how happiness is not a product of what we do and what keeps artists happy when they are not selling records or touring. We go into if he thinks anyone could live a life without pain and suffering, and so much more.

He’s a true artist, he is a true poet, and I think you’re going to enjoy what he shares about art and happiness, and finding your purpose through happiness in this episode.

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Welcome, everybody, to The School of Greatness Podcast. I’m very excited, today! We have my man, Mike Posner in the house!

Good to see you brother!

Mike Posner:                  Right back! And we have the snap! Uh-huh!

Lewis Howes:                 How many songs have you written, overall, do you think?

Mike Posner:                  In my life?

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah.

Mike Posner:                  Thousands.

Lewis Howes:                 Thousands?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, thousands. I wrote maybe close to a hundred, no, like, between fifty and eighty per album.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow! And then how many come out? Ten to twelve?

Mike Posner:                  Ten, yeah. I think my next one’s nine. It’s just like I’m brandishing a sword, and I flip it over and keep going, so yeah, when we make an album I’ll write – I’ll basically go away for a year or two, write all these songs and try pick the best ones to produce and record, so then there’ll be, like, fifteen to twenty of those, and then we’ll put those on a whiteboard, and go, “Uh…”

At that point they’re all good, but you’re just, like, “These ones are a little better,” and so you get rid of another, like, six. Hopefully you have a project.

Lewis Howes:                 How many albums now?

Mike Posner:                  I’m getting ready to release my third solo album. Studio album. I’ve got a few live albums, and band mentions, and then I have some albums I recorded that never came out, got shelved and stuff, when I was cold, business, political stuff. But this will be my third studio album.

Lewis Howes:                 Cool man. So, what got you into songwriting in the first place? And singing music?

Mike Posner:                  When I was a little kid, eight years old, I loved hiphop. My big cousins rapped and my buddies and all the kids in school I thought were cool, they all listened to hiphop, and I thought, I want to try freestyling.

So, I remember one time me and my buddies, Ronny Posey and Aaron Webster, we found some CD’s that had music of them but no words, and we we all tried freestyling over them. I remember they thought, “Oh, that was fun,” and I thought, “I’m never going to stop. I’m going to get great at that!”

Lewis Howes:                 How old were you?

Mike Posner:                  I was, like, eight.

Lewis Howes:                 Freestyling at eight.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, and then I just kept, I just never stopped.

Lewis Howes:                 Are you a better freestyler, or are you better at writing a song?

Mike Posner:                  My freestyle skills are pretty rusty, now, though I still do it sometimes, and I kind of freestyle songs, now. Obviously not at this point, writing songs, but it’s not really a fair question, because freestylers go into songwriting a lot.

A lot of times songwriting starts with freestyling. You can make the argument that all songs start with freestyling. It’s like a melody pops up, where did that come from? You didn’t plan out to have that melody pop into you head, it just did.

Lewis Howes:                 So, when something comes into your mind, where does it come from? Is it usually something that you’re watching, or a deep conversation, or something you see on TV, where something starts to play in your mind?

Mike Posner:                  Well, that’s the million dollar question.

Lewis Howes:                 Well, how does it work for you?

Mike Posner:                  I mean, do you feel like you are the author of your thoughts? Or do they just pop into your head?

Lewis Howes:                 I think I’m inspired by things that I see ,or things that I’m lacking, so I have a desire for something or there’s a pain or a need, based on something I want. And then, based on that lack of feeling, that pain or that suffering or that desire to change something in my life, then I start to unlock this creativity of, “Okay, what would that look like? What would that feel like? Where is an example of this, in the world, that represents what I want?”

Or I’ll lean into music or art or dance, to start to see what I can unlock and I think that’s, at least, how I do it.

Mike Posner:                  I think that, deep down, because I want songs to come out, so there is that intention there. But you hear a lot of the great songwriters, they say, “I’m not doing it.” You hear that over and over again.

Lewis Howes:                 It’s just coming through them, or what?

Mike Posner:                  That’s what they say. And it feels like that sometimes. It’s like, “Do I really deserve credit for this melody that popped in my head?” I feel like I’m just recording it. I’m repeating it, you know?

It’s an interesting thing, because my ego wants to take a lot of credit for it, like, “I’m great! Look at all the amazing things I’ve done.”  But I don’t know if I’m really doing them. It’s just, I have these thoughts, on some level, you know?

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah. And you’ve had a lot of success over your career, but when a Abiza came out, and, we were talking just before, when somebody remade it and it kind of blew up there, did your life change after that moment, from what you were doing for years before, with touring and having other successes and other things you were doing? But, did things really change after that big hit? Or did it kind of stay the same for you?

Mike Posner:                  So, Ibiza was my second big hit, that I sang. I had a few others that I had written for other people, but my first big hit was a song called ‘Cooler Than Me’, in 2010.

Lewis Howes:                 How’s it go?

Mike Posner:                  [singing] If I could write you a song

To make you fall in love

I would already have you up

Under my arm

I used to fall in love…

Lewis Howes:                 I like that song! Did you sing that song?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, I sang that song.

Lewis Howes:                 Cool. 2010? That was a big hit.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, and I wrote it in my dorm, when I was in college, and recorded it in my dorm and put it out, and it was my first single. Also, what happened is, when you put singles out, you just make a ton of money and everyone tells you you’re great.

Lewis Howes:                 You wrote it in college? You were at Duke, right?

Mike Posner:                  Right.

Lewis Howes:                 So, you just came out, 21 years old, had this his, put it out online? Or how did it come out?

Mike Posner:                  I put it out online first, the original version, and there was a remix also.

Lewis Howes:                 A remix?

Mike Posner:                  The original version was me and Big Sean, a lot of people don’t realise. So I came out in Big Sean’s crew for a while, or just in his entourage. And I put this song out, and it sort of blew up online in a culty way. And then, after I had that song out for a while, I put a whole mix tape out, like, a whole free album, and then that kind of like circulated even more.

I started getting offers for record deals and stuff, so, like, finals week, junior year, I had flown into New York a bunch of times, to take meetings and what not. And I was really trying to finish finals. And my manager called, and he’s like, “You got to go back to New York.” I was, like, “No, I need to write this paper or else I’m going to fail.”

He’s like, “You’ve got to go back to New York, Jay-Z wants to meet you.”

Lewis Howes:                 Shut up! 2010, you’re twenty-one. Jay-Z wants to meet you.

Mike Posner:                  This is 2009. So it was before the song blew up.

Lewis Howes:                 It started to get a little buzz online.

Mike Posner:                  Correct, correct.

Lewis Howes:                 Jay-Z wants to meet you.

Mike Posner:                  Jay-Z wants to meet me. And I thought I would go there and then they would be, like, “Listen, Jay got busy, we’re sorry.” That’s what I thought, so I didn’t tell anyone. I just left campus.

Lewis Howes:                 You weren’t, like, “Jay-Z wants to meet me!”

Mike Posner:                  No, no, I left campus, went to the airport, flew to New York, go to the office, and then, just sort of waiting around, and then, “Okay, he’ll see you now.”

Lewis Howes:                 “Oh! He’s really here!”

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, and I had my little laptop, with my sticker on the back.

Lewis Howes:                 “Duke University.”

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, exactly! And I walk in the office, this gorgeous office, and there’s Jay-Z. And he was, like, “What’s up, man?” So, he had a little speaker system, I went plugged my computer into it and fumbled the aux cord, and finally played the song, ‘Cooler Than Me’, and he just started nodding his head real hard, I could tell he was just loving it.

And we spent, like, two hours with Jay-Z, talking and at the end of the meeting, he goes to his partner at the time, he goes, “So what do we do now?” And his partner says, “We do a deal.” And he said, “Okay, we’ll be in touch.”

So I went back to Duke, and I went back to the library, and I’m writing this paper, and I check my e-mail, and there’s an offer from Rock Nation, for a record deal. Needless to say, I didn’t do the best job on that paper.

It’s the only C I ever got. Because I was quite excited. And I ended up not signing with Jay-Z, for a myriad of reasons, I signed to Jay Records, which is a subsidiary of Sony. And, long story short, I made my first album, and there was a remix done of ‘Cooler Than Me’ that my homie, Gigamesh, did and that remix blew up.

And, like I said, I got totally jaded by it, I thought that’s what happens.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, you put out a song…

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, I’m one for one, so I will…

Lewis Howes:                 Everything you do will be a hit.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, everything I do will be a hit. So I put out my next song, and it did pretty well, but not as well. And then I put out the next song, and it did a little worse. And it kept going like that, and the graph was just going from top left to bottom right, like, the red line, you know?

And, finally to the point where,  a few years later, I was just ice cold, and I had really nothing to do, my calendar was empty and I had made my money, and I had a house in the Hollywood Hills, and I had a Porche, and just nothing to do.

Lewis Howes:                 And you were, like, twenty-three, twenty-four?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, like, twenty-four, and I thought, “What now?” And that’s when I wrote ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’, it was about that. Because everyone loves talking about that rise up, and what it’s like on that mountain top, or what they want you to think it’s like on the mountain top. But I thought it was interesting what happens after you fall off.

Lewis Howes:                 Once you have the big success and you start to go backwards, what do you do with that, what does that feel like?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, I never heard people tell that side of the story in music that much. So I thought it was cool if I wrote about that. And so I wrote that song, and there’s a lyric in the second verse, saying, “I’m just a singer who already blew his shot. I get along with old timers, because my name’s a reminder of a pop song people forgot.”

And a big ironic thing was that writing those lines gave me another shot, which I wasn’t really asking for, but I got it, anyways, because that song blew up.

Lewis Howes:                 Do you think it was because it was real, or because of the timing of it, or because of the partnerships you had, or why do you think that took off? When you used to write to write thousands of songs a year, and why didn’t the other ones take off? What makes a song really go big?

Mike Posner:                  No one really knows, no one really knows. Because even the greatest writers, or the guys with the most hits ever, even more than me, like Max Martin, they still write tons of songs that aren’t hits. So, no one has this formula. If there was a formula, everyone would be using it.

So, I think it’s all those things that you listed. Did the fact that I was being honest in the song, make people connect to it? Yeah, I think so. Did the remix and the production that the guys did on it, help? Yeah. Did my connections help? Yeah, all that stuff went into it, it’s just, I don’t know, I don’t know!

And every time I try to, you know, when I was younger, I would try to make something that would be popular, it would never work. When I just do what I think is cool to me, sometimes, not always, sometimes, the whole world seems to agree.

Lewis Howes:                 That’s a good lyric right there. When I do something that’s cool to me, sometimes the world agrees. That’s a good line. Sometimes, though, not every time.

Mike Posner:                  Not every time, not every time. And you’ve got to be prepared for that.

Lewis Howes:                 That’s the struggle of an artist. When they do something they fully believe in and they love, and then no one else cares, it’s hard to take that rejection, I think, right?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah.

Lewis Howes:                 Because you’ve written thousands of songs that maybe twenty people like, or people sing, or are going to play.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, because most people know me for those two songs, and I make albums. Like, I’m a student of the album, so what I do during my day, I listen to, like, Rolling Stones stuff, a hundred albums, and I try to make albums that are that good. But most people just know those two songs.

Which is, you know, I’m not angry at them, but it’s not the whole picture, you know?

Lewis Howes:                 Because the album really tells a full story, I’m assuming, for you. It’s an experiential thing. I listen to a lot of your new album that comes out in, January?

Mike Posner:                  Correct.

Lewis Howes:                 January, and you’ve been releasing singles coming up to that, but it’s a full book, and there’s chapters to the book that tell a story, right?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah. And you spend months on the transitions, and the order of the chapters. Making an album is a funny job, because you’re writing a book, that’s a great metaphor, but you also need each chapter to be able to stand on its own, and be a great short story.

Lewis Howes:                 And to be a hit.

Mike Posner:                  You don’t need every song to be a hit. Hopefully.

Lewis Howes:                 But you need a couple of chapters to actually be a hit.

Mike Posner:                  Hopefully.

Lewis Howes:                 It could be a stand-alone, yeah.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, yeah.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow! What’s the biggest struggle for an artist who’s got a hit, and has it come back? You’ve made the money, you’ve got the recognition, you’ve got the relationships, but your work isn’t being recognised. What was the biggest struggle for you? Did you face depression or anxiety from that?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, I faced depression. Starting before all that, in high school, growing up in Michigan. It would just be grey and dark all the time. I’d go to school before the sun was up and I would play sports, I would play basketball, and I’d come home when the sun was down already.

And I just remember feeling like, “What’s the point of this? None of this, nothing matters. And I don’t care about anything.” And I still feel like that sometimes. Then I used to feel it for extended periods of time. I feel that for a day or something, now.

So I still grapple with that. Because I have these big projects I started and I have some days where I’m like, “I don’t care about this, at all,” and I have people working on it!

Lewis Howes:                 What makes you, if you create a project, what makes you not care about it any more?

Mike Posner:                  I don’t know. I think I get in a mood sometimes, where I don’t care about anything.

Lewis Howes:                 Life.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, just low energy.

Lewis Howes:                 Why is that?

Mike Posner:                  I spend a lot of time trying to figure that out.

Lewis Howes:                 You seem like a happy guy.

Mike Posner:                  I think I am, most of the time, but I don’t want to sit in your chair and say I always feel happy, because that’s not real. And there’s enough people in the world that do that. Pretend, like, “I’ve got the answer.”

Nobody’s really got the full answer, you know? Everyone feels some sort of down, negativity sometimes, I believe.

Lewis Howes:                 Do you think a musician or an artist can truly reach the masses with their art, without feeling a sense of pain or suffering or depression at some point in their life?

Mike Posner:                  Well, I don’t know if anyone can live a life without feeling pain or suffering. Do you?

Lewis Howes:                 I think we all need to go through challenges, for sure.

Mike Posner:                  Can you skate through? Like, even the guys who have the trust fund, there’s suffering in their life. At some point they didn’t get what they wanted, or they got what they didn’t want, you know? And they felt suffering. Everyone feels it, so Werner Herzog says, “The poet must not avert his eyes.”

What does that mean? It means that, if you’re a real artist, you’re looking at the beautiful and the divine things in life, and you’re helping people see them. But you’re also looking at the ghastly and the disgusting, and you’re being honest about it.

And if an artist is not in touch, in my opinion, with both those things, then you’re not a real artist. And people are going to feel that, and they’re going to recognise it, and it’s not going to be real. It’s not going to be real.

Lewis Howes:                 Who’s the greatest musician, in your mind? Personal favourite?

Mike Posner:                  I don’t know. I’ve got so many favourites.

Lewis Howes:                 Top three.

Mike Posner:                  I think the greatest songwriter is Bob Dylan. Because all my other favourite songwriters, they all say he’s the best and they are so influenced by him.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow. What is it about him that makes him so great?

 Mike Posner:                 Just once-in-a-generation talent. He’s got an unmistakeable voice. I mean his writing voice. He also has an unmistakeable singing voice, but, man! You just can go so deep with his stuff. I mean, there’s just layers upon layers of the imagery and the symbolism and the metaphors. Sometimes I listen to his stuff and I go, “How did he do that?”

Lewis Howes:                 What about someone in our generation, who is someone you really look up to right now, who is either well known or on the up-and-up?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, my favourite songwriter is, there’s a guy, he’s a friend of mine now, but I was a fan first, named Taylor Goldsmith. He’s in a band called Dawes. We call it ‘pengame’. His pengame is just off the charts. He has a song, if anyone wants to check it out, called ‘A Little Bit Of Everything.’

And I’d recommend listening to it twice, because most people, myself included, when you hear a song, on the first listen you hear the melody, you hear the textures, and some words, and on the second or third listen you start to hear the words. What makes him special is his lyrics. Second listen, you might be in tears.

And then, there’s another guy named Conor Oberst, who’s in a band called Bright Eyes. And his lyrics are just crazy, man! They are just crazy! Yeah, so I recommend a song by him, ‘First Day Of My Life’ by Bright Eyes. That song, I’ve sung at weddings for friends, and I’ve sung at funerals. That’s how good that song is.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow! Amazing! Amazing! What about when you started getting more successful? Did you feel like it was easier to make deep, meaningful relationships? Or was it harder once you created that kind of fame for yourself in the industry?

Mike Posner:                  It can be harder, and this is actually, I think I gave sort of a long, meandering rant to your last question, and I didn’t really answer it, but I think this answer really sort of answers both, which is, when you have a hit song, or any sort of work you do that becomes very popular, people view you through the lens of that work.

So, in my case, I Took A Pill In Ibiza, which is a sad song, it’s right in the chorus, “All I know is sad songs,” so people assume I’m that. They come in contact with that before they come in contact with me. It’s not, necessarily, like you say, “You seem like a happy guy.” Usually I am a happy guy. I’d say more than half the time I feel good.

I wrote that song expressing some sadness that I was feeling, and it was a good place for me to put my sadness.

Lewis Howes:                 A productive place, yeah.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, a good place to put your anger and sadness in a song, and express that. So I think, that makes it hard, because people have an idea of you before they meet you. And that gets in the way of your art, too. Sometimes you start over-thinking, “Oh, everyone loves me for being the sad guy, so maybe I should keep doing that.”

You’ve got to be real careful with that, because then you’re not, you’re basically doing an imitation of yourself, your former self.

Lewis Howes:                 You’re not evolving.

Mike Posner:                  You’re not evolving. You know, IN-Q, you’ve had on the shows, a friend of both of ours, he says, “Art is alchemy.” I don’t know if he said it on your show, but he says it all the time, “Art is alchemy.”

So, you’re changing, you’re transforming your suffering into something beautiful and, hopefully, that adds something to other people’s lives when they come into contact with that beauty. But, if you’re dramatising or victimising yourself, you’re not alchemising your suffering, you’re just making more of it.

And so, you always want to be cognisant of that, “Am I creating more beauty, or more suffering in the world?”

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah. Well, Ibiza was bringing beauty to people, right? It was maybe bringing hope or inspiration to people, maybe, in a sad place?

Mike Posner:                  I hope so, and you know, the funny thing is, that music, the song sounds happy, so a lot of times it played in clubs and people are dancing, they have joyful moments to it. And that happened out of my suffering.

Lewis Howes:                 Even though the lyrics may be sad, it’s a dance song.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah! Which is beautiful, it’s beautiful! Because they’re having a beautiful moment, a positive experience, out of my pain, or my pain at that time. And that’s all you can ask for, as an artist. That’s the goal.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow. What about, what has death taught you about the value of your life?

Mike Posner:                  I don’t think you can live a good life, if you’re pretending you’re not going to have a death. And, for me, the key is keeping death on my shoulder. We all learn that lesson when someone dies, and if you haven’t had someone close die, you will. You can’t escape it.

So, for me, it was my father a year and a half ago, and then Avicii this year. And each time, there’s a silver lining to it, which is, one, if you miss something, you had something to miss, in the first place. So, if you can shift your attention from the missing to gratitude, because “I had something in the first place.”

So, let’s give a concrete example of that. I had a father, and a damn good one, for twenty-nine years and I got a lot of friends in Detroit who either don’t know their fathers, or the father wasn’t in their life, or he has a limited role in their life.

I had a full on father, for twenty-nine years, so he’s dead now. But I’m grateful I had him or twenty-nine years and I’m not going to complain that he’s not here for thirty, when my homie didn’t have one at all.

I’m just not, I’m grateful I had that. So, there’s that, there’s that gratitude that you can shift back to relatively easily when you’re feeling grief. In addition, there’s this beautiful reminder of your own mortality. That’s what I believe.

I believe why we don’t like death so much is because, when someone dies, it reminds us we’re going to die, and that scares us, but it’s actually a really great thing. And I think we should try to keep death on our shoulder because it makes you live a good life and it makes you, for me, remind me, “Hey, you know all that s**t you have a list of that you wanted to do one day? You should probably start doing it.”

Lewis Howes:                 “Now.” Yeah.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, and most of us have a list, I would say 98% of people who hear this, have two lists. They’ve got a list of the s**t they have to do, and then a list of the stuff they want to do when they’re done doing what they have to do.

And a lot of times, at least it was the case for me, there was really no reason I couldn’t start doing the stuff I wanted to do. And I did, and I’m trying to keep doing that. But it’s easy to forget, so that’s why I say you’ve got to keep death on your shoulder.

Lewis Howes:                 What was the biggest lesson your dad taught you?

Mike Posner:                  My dad used to always say, “There’s two ages: Health and happiness. Health and happiness.” And a lot of the lessons, he would say the same stuff, or I remember his words, but I didn’t really get it until now, and some stuff I’m still getting.

I remember my dad, I asked him once, “What are your goals?” He goes, “I don’t have any. I have everything I want. I love your mother, I just sit out on the porch and I feel I have everything I want.” And, at the time, I couldn’t hear him, because I, just like 90% of the people you have on, I’m trying to win all the time, doing stuff.

I’m creating goals and then chasing them down. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but he was just in a totally different head space and living life with a totally different paradigm, which was, like, “I’m content.”

I was at a monastery this summer, I did a retreat in solitude, and I was reading this book by Thich Nhat Hanh there, and there was something, I’m paraphrasing, but it was, “I’m happy in this moment and I don’t ask for anything in addition to make me more happy. I’m content in this moment.”

And it was the same, like, here’s this monk and he’s saying the same things as my dad. It took me some years to get that.

Lewis Howes:                 Do you think you would be happy if you didn’t keep writing song and keep putting it out there?

Mike Posner:                  The more I live, the more I’m starting to believe that happiness is not a product of what I do. That’s maybe the biggest lesson. We think, if we change our outside circumstances, like, “If I get my life just right and all the stuff around me just right – the right job, the right amount of money, the right romantic partner – then I’ll be happy.”

But I’m starting to really believe it goes the other way around, which is, “If I can figure out how to be happy, regardless of what’s going on, or what I’m doing, outwardly, all that stuff works itself out.” And, a lot of times, it just happens with no effort.

The thing you were working so hard efforting towards, just kind of falls into place.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah. Did your dad pass suddenly?

Mike Posner:                  So, I’m riding the wave of Ibiza.

Lewis Howes:                 Crushing it. Top song.

Mike Posner:                  I’m crushing it, I’m touring all over the world.

Lewis Howes:                 It’s the number one song, right?

Mike Posner:                  It is number one song, like, on the radio here. There’s different charts. On Billboard it wasn’t number one. I don’t know how it got on there. I try not to pay attention. But they tell you when you get a number one.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, they give you plaque or something, yeah.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, they make a big deal out of it.

Lewis Howes:                 Sure, but it was up there. It was there for a year.

Mike Posner:                  It was big, it was big, and I know, now, it’s the number ten song on Spotify, ever. Which is crazy. It’s crazy! And I’m sure more big songs, it’ll go down, but right now, it’s number ten. That’s the thing about number ones, they all go down, another one comes, every single one in history.

So, I’m riding this wave, I’m touring other countries, my band is on point, we’re really killing shows, and my mom calls. And my dad had been acting funny, like, he’d been forgetting stuff, he was getting lost and she called and said, “They found a tumour the size of a tangerine in Dad’s forehead, and they’re going to take it out tomorrow.”

So I got on the plane, took the red-eye to Detroit, I was living in L.A. at the time, had the car, the house in The Hills, the whole thing. I drove over, I flew to Detroit, slept a few hours when I got there, went to the hospital with my mom, and they were operating on my dad at that time. So we were just waiting there.

Lewis Howes:                 So you didn’t talk to your dad at that time?

Mike Posner:                  I saw my dad right before he went in. They won’t give you any water right before you get [operated], because you have to be dehydrated, for some reason, and I remember he kept asking for water, and then they put him under and he went. And then I went to sleep, because I’d been up for a bunch of hours.

And I came back to the hospital, and waited with my mom. A bunch of my dad’s friends were there, and they were all waiting to see if it was cancer, if the tumour was cancerous or if it was just a tumour that wasn’t cancer – I know there’s a word for that; benign? I don’t know.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, I’m not sure.

Mike Posner:                  And so, the doctor came out and I’m holding my mom’s hand, and he’s like, “He has glioblastoma,” like doctor talk, just Googled it and stuff, and that’s a fancy word for brain cancer. So I’m holding my mom’s hand and she just starts crying. She’s looking at me, and I kind of want to cry, but I’m not going to, because I’m trying to be there for her.

I moved back to Detroit. I sold my house. I just stayed there. And then me and my sister would take turns. She lives in New Orleans, so she’d come up. I’d go do shows, she’d go back to New Orleans, she’s an attorney there, and she’d work, and then I’d come home.

Man, it was, if you’re going to have a death, he had the best one. He was home, he wasn’t really in pain, we all got to say goodbye.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow. How long after…?

Mike Posner:                  Ten months.

Lewis Howes:                 You lived there for ten months, essentially? Off and on?

Mike Posner:                  Correct. And he died January 11, 2017. Then it was just cold, and I was in Detroit.

Lewis Howes:                 It’s the worst time to be in Michigan.

Mike Posner:                  Sounds like I got to leave. So I’ve been on the run since.

Lewis Howes:                 So your dad passed away in January 2017, you moved out of there, you’ve been on the run. Do you feel at peace about everything? Or do you feel like you still need closure with things?

Mike Posner:                  So, man, this is a year and a half ago. I went to Venice, I say, “On the run,” more stuff happened. I moved to Venice.

Lewis Howes:                 I mean, Avicii passed away, when was this? A few months ago, right? It was so sad, man! Did you know him?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, I worked with Avicii for a lot of years.

Lewis Howes:                 Was the song Ibiza with him?

Mike Posner:                  It wasn’t with him, but I mentioned him in it. Basically, Avicii always liked my stuff, so he, way back, before he had levels, he actually sent me levels, he was like, “Can you write a song for me?”

Lewis Howes:                 Levels like, [sings a melody]. Man! He was a hitmaster!

Mike Posner:                  He was. Those Swedish guys, they’ve got…

Lewis Howes:                 They’re freaks, man!

Mike Posner:                  We always say there’s something in the water with them, because their sense of melody seems to be better than everyone else’s.

Lewis Howes:                 Unbelievable. Did you write a song with him, or work on any songs?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, a bunch, over the years. Most of them never came out, but they’re working on a posthumous album for him. So I sent in all of my stuff I’d done with him over the years. I don’t know if it will make it or not.

But he was like me, he would do a million songs and then ten would make it, you know?

Lewis Howes:                 I watched his documentary, I don’t know if you saw it?

Mike Posner:                  I watched it. I heard his heart breaking, though.

Lewis Howes:                 His heart, it’s amazing to watch behind the scenes, but it’s heartbreaking because the guy was touring, like 300 stops a year, and he hated it. The anxiety he had, I don’t know if you ever saw it, but him just showing how he’s nervous before every event, and it sucks, I wish he would have been able to, someone would have been able to help him or create a structure where he could get over that nerves, the anxiety that he felt.

Because that’s really what drove him to the alcohol and the drugs, to kind of relax. And the pressure of, “Man, I’m just so good, and all these hits that come out, and people want to see me, and there’s so much money involved.”

But after, what, four or five years he was like, “I’m retiring, I’m quitting,” and then it was just kind of like he retired, and started to get better, but then he got worse, or something, right?

Mike Posner:                  I don’t know, I mean, I worked with him, like, a month before he passed away.

Lewis Howes:                 No way!

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, I went to his house.

Lewis Howes:                 Here in L.A.?

Mike Posner:                  In L.A.

Lewis Howes:                 How did he seem?

Mike Posner:                  He seemed normal.

Lewis Howes:                 He seemed okay, relaxed?

Mike Posner:                  To me, but I wasn’t super close with him. I worked with him, like, once a year.

Lewis Howes:                 For a couple of days, three days or something.

Mike Posner:                  Couple of days. And we’d write a song. But he seemed normal. So, we’d have two rooms going, so two people both working on his stuff, so we’d be writing a song in one room, he’d be in the other room with other people and they had a chef there, seeing as he was eating healthy and stuff.

And, I don’t know, man, I couldn’t believe it.

Lewis Howes:                 A month later.

Mike Posner:                  I couldn’t believe it.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah. He seemed positive, he was able to… Clear eyes, everything, right? Was he drinking, or no?

Mike Posner:                  No, no. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t drinking at night. I mean, I have no idea, I have no idea. But it was shocking to me, it was shocking to me. And it made me feel grateful for the foundation I have in my family. I talked to my mom, and she was, like, “You know, I’ve always been worried about you.”

To me, it was like, I always felt pretty secure. I had my ups and downs and what not, but I never really got into drugs and I’m pretty darn straight edge, I don’t drink or smoke. You know, you always hear those stories, stars that burn out, like, our hero, Jimmy Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, like, when I was a kid.

But I never knew any of my friends passed away until him.

Lewis Howes:                 And he was, what, twenty-seven?

Mike Posner:                  I think so.

Lewis Howes:                 What’s with the age twenty-seven, man? Amy Winehouse, a lot of these people are twenty-seven.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, I think some people play into it now, too. Which is sad. I know at least one person that does that.

Lewis Howes:                 How old are you?

Mike Posner:                  I’m thirty, man! I made it!

Lewis Howes:                 You got over the hump!

Mike Posner:                  I’ll be thirty-one on February 12th.

Lewis Howes:                 What was the lesson that you took away when Avicii passed? How did that hit for you?

Mike Posner:                  It was the same thing. It was a reminder, because it’s easy to forget. We’re not supposed to talk about death, and I’m glad you asked the question, because it’s not a usual question, but it’s a taboo subject in our culture.

If I mention it in front of my mom, she says, “Don’t talk about that!” You know? So, it was a reminder, “You’re going to die, too. What are you here for? How are you going to use your time now? Are you just going to do the normal things, that you’re supposed to do, that people tell you you should, or are you going to create the life you want?”

Lewis Howes:                 What’s your purpose?

Mike Posner:                  I think, to share my gifts. I think I do have a gift, now, I don’t know if it’s just natural, I think it’s a gift now, because I just did it a lot. But I think I’m the best I ever have been at music, right now. So, I think, to share that.

And you know, the honest answer, more than that – as I was saying that I didn’t feel totally authentic to you.

Lewis Howes:                 What’s the authentic answer?

Mike Posner:                  I think it’s to find peace in myself, and be that when I’m with people, when I’m with you, or doing an interview with you, or whoever I’m with. It’s to find my own happiness, my own peace, and then share that.

I feel like I’m not two journeys right now. There’s one journey where I’m creating the album and putting the album out, doing interviews, impress promo mode, I go on TV. But I’m also on the inner journey.

Like this summer, where I spent twelve days in solitude at the monastery, or I just did this vipassana meditation retreat, and it kicked my butt! And those kind of things, meditation, and meditating every day, that kind of seems like a selfish thing, but it’s not.

I’m trying to clean up my own mind. I’m trying to clean up all my judgements, and my jealousy, and my anger, I’m trying to clean all that up, so I can give the gift of my peace, my happiness, to the world.

And that gets into my music, that gets into my interviews, that gets into my phone calls, that gets into my relationships, and then it just echoes out. And I think that is the highest thing, my highest goal, to do that.

So, clean up my own s**t and then share my own light.

Lewis Howes:                 What’s your biggest challenge you face right now, in your own life?

Mike Posner:                  Biggest challenge right now, is, as I get busier, maintaining that. It is a lot easier to be equanimous and peaceful at the monastery.

Lewis Howes:                 When there’s nothing happening.

Mike Posner:                  Than it is to do it when you have a hit and you’re touring.

Lewis Howes:                 How do you maintain that peace and balance when you’re touring every day, six months a year, writing new songs, doing press, everyone wants you, how do you do that?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, I mean, one is your routine, right? So, I had to carve out, very clearly, with my team, my record lable, “Hey, look, I sleep eight hours a day, I meditate twice a day, I eat this much, I exercise this much.” That’s just to give me a shot. If I don’t do that, I don’t even have a shot! To stay equanimous, you know what I mean? So that’s just to give me a shot.

And then, you know, it’s a practice, so, as I’m going through the day, not only am I doing all this stuff, but I’m trying to have awareness that I am doing it. So, I try to keep awareness in some part of my body, all day long.

Do I forget? Yeah. All the time. But I’m trying to stay aware, stay present, as much as I can. When I spent this time in solitude, this summer, I realised how addicted I am to thinking. You know, just the brain going on all day long.

So, if I look at a flower, usually my brain’s going, “Oh, that’s a rose; this is the last time you saw a rose; I wonder if it smells good; smell it; it doesn’t smell as good as the last.” There’s a whole narrative going between the rose and I.

And, on retreats, at times I was able to quiet my mind – I’m meditating a lot; those days I’m meditating like five to seven hours a day, I’m just alone, that’s all I’m doing – and I had moments where I would see a flower, or hear a bird sing, or see the moon, with no narrative, and it’s just cripplingly beautiful, it would just bring me to tears.

Because that screen, that narrative, that’s usually between reality and I, wasn’t there. And so, you’re doing that with a flower, you better believe you’re doing that with other people, you know? Now, you see a person, even if you don’t know them, you’ve got a whole narrative running about them, and it’s worse with people you know.

The more history you have with someone, the more you do that. So, to me, it’s a practice, I was sort of trying to make a game out of it. How can I just be with people? When they’re speaking to me, can I listen to them, and not listen to what the voice in my head is saying about what they’re saying.

So, in Buddhism they call that deep listening or compassionate listening, and that’s a rare thing.  When someone’s listening to you that way, you know it, you feel it, and you feel heard. So, I’m just trying to do that. I’m a novice, but I’ve done it at times, and it feels good.

Lewis Howes:                 That’s great, man. What’s a song off of your new album? Can you play one for us? Can you play something with the guitar? I don’t know if you want a different chair, or whatever you want?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah! I like to stand.


I think I’ll buy a gun and blame it on my home town

It’s so cold in the deep

She asks me if I think I’ll ever see her again

I say, “Hopefully.”

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be

My heroes all died young, they hung themselves with fame

And these lunatics moulding me

I’ve got a tattoo, it’s a joke I keep a secret

I need everyone to notice me

But maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be

I think I’ll die young

With all my broken dreams

I’ve got it figured out

This is the golden key

Everything is how it’s supposed to be

I think this is how it’s supposed to be

We messed it all up, now the world is getting warmer

Soon L.A. will be out at open sea

Meanwhile, I’m falling down, my heart is getting colder

I hurt everyone close to me

But maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be

I think I’ll die young

With all my broken dreams

I’ve got it figured out

This is the golden key

The day my Daddy died

I was down the street

I lost my only friend

People don’t grow on trees

But I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be

Yeah, everything is how it’s supposed to be

Ooh! Whoa! Whoa!

Whoa, whoa

Whoa, whoa, oh-whoa

Everything is how it’s supposed to be

I think this is how it’s supposed to be


Lewis Howes:                 My man! I like that jazz chord at the end!

Mike Posner:                  Thank you.

Lewis Howes:                 It’s clean, man.

Mike Posner:                  A major seventh.

Lewis Howes:                 Is that what it is? Major seventh? I don’t know enough about music, but I can play some campfire songs, you know? I’ve been around the bonfire, you know what I mean?

Mike Posner:                  Oh, yeah? What can you play?

Lewis Howes:                 I used to play a lot back in the day, I mean, a lot of pop songs I can play if I have the chords, but let me see, I haven’t played in a long time. I really like Joni Mitchell a lot.

Mike Posner:                  You do? Man! I just got into her!

Lewis Howes:                 Oh, my gosh! I used to sing a song, I don’t know if I can play it any more, but… Case Of You? Case Of You is amazing! My sister highly recommends it.

[plays guitar riff with Mike Posner joining in]

Oh, I forget how the rest goes, but I like listening to you!

[guitar music]

Yeah! It’s been a while, man! I’m a little rusty! But it’s something.

Mike Posner:                  We nailed it!

Lewis Howes:                 It was cool, man! Purple rain?

Mike Posner:                  Oh!

[Lewis and Mike play]

Lewis Howes:                 Do you sing Purple Rain, ever?

Mike Posner:                  I’ve never sung it before.

Lewis Howes:                 Never sung it before? Prince?

Mike Posner:                  I’ve heard it, but I’ve never sung it.

Lewis Howes:                 Oh man! You’d be amazing at that!

[plays guitar riff]

Man, I’m trying to think of songs right now. What can I sing with him? I might know another song of his.

[plays guitar riff]

Mike Posner:                                                     [singing]

Old pirates, yes, they rob I

Sold I to the merchant ships

Minutes after they took I

From the bottomless pit

But my hand was made strong

By the hand of the Almighty

We flower in this generation

(Then it goes to D)


So won’t you help to sing

(then C, D)

These songs of freedom?

‘Cause all I ever have

Redemption songs

Redemption songs

(Then it hangs on a G, back to the verse)

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery

None but ourselves can free our minds

Have no fear for atomic energy

‘Cause none of them can stop the time

How long will they kill our brothers

While we stand aside and look? Ooh

Some say it’s just a part of it

We’ve got to fulfil the Book

Won’t you help to sing

These songs of freedom?

‘Cause all I ever have

Redemption songs

Redemption songs


(Then it goes to the bridge, E minor, then C, D; then it hangs out, and back to the verse)

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery

None but ourselves can free our minds

Have no fear for atomic energy

‘Cause none of them can stop the time

How long will they kill our prophets

While we stand aside and look? Ooh

Yes, some say it’s just a part of it

We’ve got to fulfil the book

Won’t you help to sing

These songs of freedom?

‘Cause all I ever have

Redemption songs

Lewis Howes:                 My man! That was fun, man! I haven’t played in a long time. That’s fun! It was about eight years ago when I played often. I remember I taught myself, in my freshman year at college, I taught myself.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, you did. Where’d you go to school?

Lewis Howes:                 I went to a bunch of different schools, but I went to school at a small liberal arts school in Illinois, called Principia College, and I went to a school in Columbus, Ohio, called Capital University.

My brother is the number one jazz violinist in the world, so I grew up listening to him play jazz violin, and feeling like I was ignorant, until I learned an instrument. Because I didn’t know an instrument, and I remember – gosh, what did I learn? I don’t even remember what I played any more!

But I learned, and I can’t even really remember how to play it that well, but, gosh, by Kansas; what was the love song by Kansas? Oh! Dust In The Wind, I think I learned. Do you know how to play it?

Mike Posner:                  No.

Lewis Howes:                 I can’t even remember how to do it.

Mike Posner:                  You’ve been playing longer than me.

Lewis Howes:                 [plays guitar riff] Nah, I can’t even remember, I’m getting really mixed up now. But I used to learn these love songs and campfire songs and anything I could at that time. Once I learned, like four chords, and I was like, “Oh, you can play lots of stuff!” But originally I just wanted to learn songs.

Then it was, like, “Oh, okay, we can get into this a little more.” But I was never good enough with like, the finger stuff or playing solos. I tried blues chords, and I could just never really get it. And my voice wasn’t good enough. If I could sing, then maybe I’d get more into it.

Mike Posner:                  You can learn that, too.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, but it’s hard man! I know. I was in choir for years, but never got that good. I can hit on pitch, but, yeah, I just never sounded that good. Anyways! Dude, this was awesome, man!

Mike Posner:                  Thank you, man! I was honoured.

Lewis Howes:                 Thank you, man! I’ve got a couple of final questions for you. What’s the lyric, if you had one message, if you could only sing one more song to the world, let’s say this is your last moment, many years from now, but it’s your last day.

You know it’s your last day, you’ve done everything you want to do in your life, you’ve written all the songs, you’ve had all the experiences, you’ve travelled, but you can only share one phrase of a song. It could be a chorus, it could be, like…

Mike Posner:                  Does it have to be mine?

Lewis Howes:                 It could be yours, it could be someone else’s. What would be the line or the sentence that you would share? That you’d want to be the last song that you would sing of a piece of a song?

Mike Posner:                  So, for me, I’ve thought about this a lot. I haven’t written that song, for me, yet. But the song I would sing is the one we just played, Redemption Song. That’s tied for my favourite song ever, and the line from it would be: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind.”

This is all that we were talking about before, and that line applies to anyone, to everyone. As soon as you get caught up in a concept, you’re a slave to that concept. So, that would be it. That song, to me, is the perfect song.

And I remember listening to that song a few years ago, and thinking to myself, “I know all these words, they’re all in my vocabulary, I can play all the chords, I can hit all the notes, so why didn’t I write a song that good yet?”

And it’s because I had to do that inner work that I’m doing now, and so the deeper I go, the further I go inside, I think, the closer I get to it. My Redemption Song.

Lewis Howes:                 Mmm. That’s cool, man! That’s real cool, I like that you’re doing the work on yourself. And taking time off to really reflect more, and give your mind and your heart and your soul the nurturing and the food that it needs to thrive and grow.

Mike Posner:                  That’s why I think it’s a direct… That’s what I’m always telling my manager. He says, “You’re taking all this time.” It’s not off though, it’s not off, I have to do it.

Lewis Howes:                 Every athlete needs an off season, where they reflect, train in different ways, to strengthen their body and their mind, and get ready for the next season.

There’s a question I ask everyone at the end, it’s called The Three Truths. Based on everything you’ve learned in your life, and experiences – imagine all the songs you’ve ever written, you’ve got to take with you. Nobody has access to them any more.

All your words, you’ve put it out there, but now you’ve got to take it with you, and it’s your last day, and you’ve got to die with your songs with you, right?

Mike Posner:                  Okay.

Lewis Howes:                 but you get to write down your final truths, three lessons that you would share with the world, or I like to call it your Three Truths. Again, you’ve achieved everything, done everything that you want to do, but you’ve got to take all your work with you, and you can leave behind Three Truths. What would you say are your three big lessons to share with the world?

Mike Posner:                  What a question, man! First truth would be that smiles don’t result from good things, they result in good things.

Second truth would be, everything is impermanent. If you really look at things, there is really nothing to hold onto, really nothing. I mean, whatever you think is sturdy in your life, is really not, whether it’s a relationship or a job, or whatever it is, you name it. It is going to end at some point.

And the sooner you can make peace with that, we can make peace with that – because I’m not done making peace with that – the more elegantly you can ride the waves on life and the lives of and death.

Third truth, I think I’ll use my dad for the third one. Health and happiness. Yeah. Thank you so much, man!

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, well, I want to acknowledge you, Mike, for a moment, because you have such a childlike spirit about you, a curiosity, a childlikeness and a wonder towards making art and expressing yourself, and I think it’s a lost art in making art.

And a lot of us are focused on career and goals and other things, but we forget to take time to reflect and express ourselves in a creative way. And you’ve done a beautiful job of expressing yourself by everything, your way of being, the way you show up, your hair, your beard is an art, you know?

Your performances, your communication style, like everything for you feels like an expression of your art, so I acknowledge you for showing others what’s possible in them by being true to yourself, by being consistent.

Mike Posner:                  Thank you, man, that means a lot to me! Thank you.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah man, of course. How can we follow you and support you? You’ve got an album, you’re going to be doing walking across America next year, it’s a new walking tour?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah!

Lewis Howes:                 You’ve got songs coming out soon, where can we listen to your music? Spotify, iTunes, all those?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, I would say, anywhere there’s music, my new stuff will be. I’m not sure, when we put this out, I may have a new song out, maybe not, maybe close. Depending on our release date here.

Lewis Howes:                 They can follow you on Spotify right now, and it’ll be there soon.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, follow me on Spotify, I think that’s the best way.

Lewis Howes:                 Is it Mike Posner over on Spotify?

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, as in M.I.K.E.P.O.S.N.E.R. And then I’m on the Instagram, the same thing. I’m a sort of haphazard poster, because sometimes I just hate my phone.

Lewis Howes:                 Sure, so they’ll follow you there, obviously on iTunes and all the places, anywhere music is listened to.

Mike Posner:                  I would say the biggest thing, though, January 11th, man, my new album, if something about this vibed with you, the new album. You know, I’m going to put out singles before, basically to draw attention to that, but this album is by far the best thing I ever made, and I’m super proud of it.

So I just want to say, if you’ve got forty minutes, it’s forty minutes of listening to that thing, and I don’t think you’ll regret it. You might, you know?

Lewis Howes:                 No, it’s beautiful, man, your lyrics are unbelievable. Even if it’s not your style of music, that Mike does, his lyrics in this really make you think. You know, you and Adam, or IN-Q, remind me a lot of each other in the way you construct your words, and your poetry, about just raising the consciousness level of what we’re doing in our daily lives, and you say it in a poetic way, with the melody that brings in, it just sparks curiosity and it just opens the spirit up to think differently about our lives. And I think that’s what’s powerful about what you do, what IN-Q does.

Mike Posner:                  Yeah, we borrow from each other.

Lewis Howes:                 You do, exactly. I was listening to you in the car with him and he was just freaking out and to have him freak out when he’s one of the greatest stage poet performers I’ve ever seen, to have him freak out about lyrics, him be inspired by your lyrics, I was, like, “Whoa!” That was impressive.

Mike Posner:                  Thank you, man. I’ve been inspired a lot by him. I did a poetry album because of him. I used to do a poem each show, last year, all because of him.

Lewis Howes:                 He’s great. He’s great. And you do little pop up tours every now and then, so people can follow you on your website and see tour dates and all that stuff.

Mike Posner:                  Correct, correct.

Lewis Howes:                 Final question for you, and then I’d love for you to play, if you’re down, to finish with a song. And it can be seated or whatever, but I’d love for you to finish with a song. Do you have one of Avicii’s songs?

Mike Posner:                  Well, I really know my songs, and even some of my songs that I wrote before I played guitar, I don’t know, so I’ve got to learn all of those, still.

Lewis Howes:                 Well, let’s do this first. I love you definition of greatness, what does it mean to you?

Mike Posner:                  Presence. Presence. So, if you look at life, most of the time I like to think of it like a graph, and there’s this X-axis, and that’s like what you’re doing over time, and the Y-axis is how present you are while you’re doing it.

And so, you can be making a bunch of money and very successful, the old cliché, man, and not happy. Or you can be doing nothing and literally sitting in a chair meditating and be happy. So, to me it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, that much, but the old proverb, “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.”

So, what does that mean? It doesn’t mean… You don’t necessarily need to change what you’re doing, you change how you’re doing it. Change how you’re doing it. So, the more present you can be, the greater you are.

Lewis Howes:                 Mike Posner. Thanks, brother!

Mike Posner:                  Lewis! Thank you, man!

Lewis Howes:                 Appreciate you, man!

Mike Posner:                  This is ‘Stuck In The Middle’. [plays guitar]


Perfume on my shirt

Puts me in the past

Too tough to be without her

But too afraid to ask

Here I am again, stuck in the middle

Here I am again, stuck in the middle

Too young to settle down

Too old to be in bars

It’s hard to take it easy

It’s easy to be hard

Here I am again, stuck in the middle

Here I am again, stuck in the middle

Here I am again, stuck in the middle, Ooh

Here I am again, stuck in the middle

Forgive me

I am building my ship as it sails

How do I become who I want to be

While still remaining myself?

People love the old me

I don’t know where he’s gone

Too tired to be famous

Too vain to be unknown

Here I am again, stuck in the middle

Here I am again, stuck in the middle

Here I am again, stuck in the middle, Ooh

Here I am again, stuck in the middle

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah! Mike Posner in the house, baby, yeah! Smash hit! Appreciate you, man!

Mike Posner:                  Thanks, man!

Lewis Howes:                 That was dope!

* * *

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