“Nobody has to give you permission to do the work that you want to do.”
Today’s guest was always creative, but never thought of himself of an artist.
Then Brian Koppelman shifted his mindset. He adopted consistent daily practices to nurture his voice. He finally gave that voice the respect it deserved. And his life was forever changed.
As direct result, this former music industry executive turned screenwriter, director, producer and showrunner has spent the last two decades churning out an avalanche of consistently great creative output as the co-writer (alongside lifelong friend David Levien) of iconic films like Rounders and Ocean’s 13 and co-creator a little hit show you might have heard of called Billions on Showtime.
Today we convene for a fun and highly instructive conversation about the interior life of a master storyteller and modern day artist — and the lessons that can be gleaned from investing our own creative instincts.
We discuss how he discovered Tracy Chapman while still in college, facilitated her first record deal, and the hows and whys behind walking away from the music business to pursue his dream of being a writer.
We mine why devotion to process over results, mastery over success, and love of craft is the path to a meaningful life. We examine how to overcome negative self-talk and how Tony Robbins and Julia Cameron changed his life. And we dive deep into how his daily habits — journaling and meditation paramount among them — have paved his road to long-sustained success.
But, as a long time admirer of Brian, what strikes me most is his generosity. A source of personal inspiration for my own creative endeavors, Brian shares his copious experience freely (what works, what doesn’t and why) on his twitter feed (@BrianKoppelman) and as host of The Moment — his stellar podcast in which he shares conversations with all manner of successful creative people about the pivotal moments that fueled their fascinating careers.
I think of him as a benevolent mentor at large to anyone and everyone seeking to live more fully, creatively expressed lives of purpose and meaning.
So how does he do it? What can we glean from his example, habits and practices that can inform how we think about ourselves as creative beings? And why is this important?
Even if you don’t consider yourself creative, Brian will leave you questioning this assumption. Because deep down, we are all artists yearning to be fully expressed in that which makes us uniquely who we are. When we engage this inclination, the world is a better place.
And we all deserve permission to do the work we want to do.
Final Note: This conversation took place a few months ago while visiting NYC. Alas, my film crew did not join me, so this episode is audio only.
Final Final Note: Season 4 of Billions returns to Showtime on March 17. If you’re new to the show, it’s truly appointment viewing. So take the next week to get caught up. Season 3 was unreal and I can’t wait to see what Brian, David and their amazing cast and crew have lingering up their sleeves. The only thing I know for sure is that we won’t see it coming.
It’s both a delight and honor to share today’s exchange with a master storyteller. I sincerely hope you not only enjoy it, but that you put his sagacious wisdom to work.
Peace + Plants,
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Note: One of the best ways to support the podcast is to support our sponsors. For a complete list of all RRP sponsors and their respective vanity url’s and discount codes, visit my Resources page and click “Sponsors”.
Background, Context & Reference:
- Connect with Brian: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Podcast: The Moment with Brian Koppelman: Apple | Spotify | Stitcher
- Billions Series: On Showtime | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- IMDB: Brian Koppelman Credits
- The Wall Street Journal: How to Turn Failure Into ‘Billions’
- Inc.: How the Co-Creator of ‘Billions’ Overcame Self-Doubt — and What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From It
- People: Non-Binary Billions Star Asia Kate Dillon on Making TV History: ‘I Didn’t Understand How I Fit’
- Guardian: Asia Kate Dillon: ‘Life can be so diverse, mysterious and beautiful’
- UPROXX: How ‘Billions’ Creators Brian Koppelman And David Levien Use Music As An ‘Emotional Accelerator’
- Recode: ‘Billions’ co-creator Brian Koppelman says everyone knows how to tell a great story — but few get the chance
- BroBible: The Writer Of ‘Billions’ And ‘Rounders’ Shared A Story That’s Sure To Inspire Anyone Down On Their Luck
- Card Player: Rounders Co-Writer Brian Koppelman Posts Original Screenplay For Poker Movie Online
- TV Week: ‘Billions’ Set to Return Next Month — and Showtime Releases an Enticing Clip
- The Ringer: Brian Koppelman on ‘Billions,’ ‘Rounders,’ & Andre the Giant
- The Ringer: Going All In: An Oral History of ‘Rounders’
Notable Films & Books Discussed:
- Film: Rounders* Director: John Dahl
- Film: Ocean’s Thirteen* Director: Steven Soderbergh
- Film: Raising Arizona* Director: Joel Coen
- Film: Silverado* Director: Lawrence Kasdan
- Film: She’s Gotta Have It* Director: Spike Lee
- Film: Pulp Fiction* Director: Quentin Tarrantino
- Film: Tony Robbins | I am Not Your Guru Director: Joe Berlinger
- Book: The Artist’s Way* by Julia Cameron
- Book: Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!* by Tony Robbins
- Book: Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job* by Jon Acuff
- Book: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles* by Steven Pressfield
Notable People Discussed:
- Amy Koppelman: author of A Mouthful of Air*, I Smile Back* and Hesitation Wounds*; Brian’s wife
- David Levien: screenwriter, novelist, director, and producer. Best known as the co-writer of Ocean’s Thirteen* and Rounders*
- Bill Simmons: former sports columnist, analyst, author, and host of The Bill Simmons Podcast
- James Altucher: Author of Choose Yourself* and host of The James Altucher Show (Podcast) and podcast guest
- Bob Roth: Transcendental Meditation teacher, author, David Lynch Foundation CEO & director of the Center for Leadership Performance and podcast guest
- Rob Bell: author, speaker, former pastor and 2x podcast guest
- Asia Kate Dillon: actor, best known for their roles as Brandy Epps in Orange Is the New Black and Taylor Mason in Billions. Dillon is non-binary and uses singular they pronouns
- David Mamet: playwright, film director, screenwriter and author. He won a Pulitzer Prize and received Tony nominations for his plays Glengarry Glen Ross* and Speed-the-Plow*
- Bob Dylan: singer-songwriter, author, and visual artist who has been a major figure in popular culture for six decades
- Tracy Chapman: multi-platinum and four-time Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter
- Counting Crows: rock band from Berkeley, California, formed in 1991
- Seth Godin: author and former dot com business executive
- Michael Phelps: Most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals
- Elizabeth Gilbert: author, essayist, short story writer, biographer, novelist, and memoirist
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:
- RRP #179: From A Life of Matter to A Life That Matters: Jason Garner’s Journey from Music Industry CEO to Spiritual Warrior
- RRP #197: Never Fear Failure: Jesse Itzler On Living With A Seal, Tackling Life Plateaus & Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
- RRP #404: Music Mogul Jason Flom On Reforming Criminal Justice & Resurrecting Rock ‘N Roll
- RRP #425: Tom Bilyeu On Exiting The Matrix, How To Develop ‘Techne’ & Why Mindset Is Everything
- RRP #214: Mishka Shubaly On Writing: Faith, Guilt, Stubbornness, Abandonment, Revenge, Forgiveness & Why He Swears He’ll Make It Up To You
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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