20 Best Lessons From Interviewing Today’s Top Performers

Ryan Holiday
8 min readJan 25

I’m not saying everyone should start a podcast. In fact, I have said the opposite many times. There are way too many of them out there…and most are not good.

I’m just saying that having a podcast is pretty magical because you get (for free) something that no amount of money in the world could buy: Access to some of the smartest and most interesting people in the world. ‘Picking someone’s brain’ is really a form of picking their pocket and yet with a podcast, you get to do that and usually the person says “Thank you so much for the opportunity” at the end.

It’s pretty magical!

Over the last several years, I’ve had the chance to spend more than a few hundred hours interviewing people for the Daily Stoic podcast (which you can subscribe to here and here). And with over 100 million downloads of Daily Stoic’s episodes so far, the people I’ve gotten access to have been beyond my dreams. I am certainly better, smarter and wiser for the privilege.

In today’s email, I wanted to share some of the absolute best things that I’ve learned in that time.

— Les Snead, the general manager of the Los Angeles Rams, told me that inside the Rams organization they talk about having “panic rules.” What do you do when everything gets mixed up, when the coverage is confusing, when the play breaks down and there’s havoc on the field? How do you respond when the play clock is running down and the play call hasn’t come in yet because the headsets aren’t working? “When there’s chaos and your brain is panicking,” Snead said, “go to your panic rules. Slow down and go to your panic rules.” This isn’t just an on-field thing. For the chaos of life, we all need panic rules. Otherwise, you’re liable to make panicked decisions. You’re liable to do something emotional, something short term, something that violates your principles and hurts your cause.

— The Olympic mountain biker Kate Courtney told me a piece of advice she received from her coach when she was pushing herself too hard in practice. “Do you want to be fast now,” her coach asked, “or later?” Meaning, do you want to win this workout or win the race? In Discipline is Destiny, when I say that self-discipline saves us, part of what it saves us from is ourselves. When we are…

Ryan Holiday

Bestselling author of ‘Conspiracy,’ ‘Ego is the Enemy’ & ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’ http://amzn.to/24qKRWR