“[E]go is the enemy of what you want and of what you have: Of mastering a craft. Of real creative insight. Of working well with others. Of building loyalty and support. Of longevity. Of repeating and retaining your success. It repulses advantages and opportunities. It’s a magnet for enemies and errors. It is Scylla and Charybdis.”
Ask today’s guest and he’ll tell you our culture is currently mired in an unprecedented epidemic of ego — a societal blight of apocalyptic proportions precipitated by the advent of selfie-crazed social media, self-esteem parenting and spurious self-help gurus fomenting an illusory sense of entitlement.
The result is a woefully misplaced celebration of ubiquity over meaningfulness: Of endless distractions over devotion to work ethic. Of self-congratulatory passion over fidelity to process. Of unbridled hubris over humility. And of rampant self-seeking over service.
We often equate ego with confidence, self-assuredness and ultimately success. The domain of the great visionary.
But what if this notion is utterly false? A personality trait that, at every turn, thoroughly undermines that which we seek?
And what if modesty, humility and self-honesty are not actual weaknesses but in fact our greatest asset?
This week Ryan Holiday graces the podcast to explain.
An autodidact of astute intellect that belies his 29 years, Ryan is many things — a voracious reader, prolific writer, shrewd observer of culture, media strategist and the author of four acclaimed bestselling books.
Dropping out of college at 19, Ryan began his multi-faceted career as an apprentice under Robert Greene, the acclaimed author of The 48 Laws of Power*. He went on to amplify the work of several New York Times bestselling authors before serving as the director of marketing for American Apparel – a job he held at the ripe age of 22.
When he’s not penning books or thought pieces for The Observer or Thought Catalog, Ryan oversees Brass Check— a consultancy firm he founded that advises New York Times bestselling authors like James Altucher, Arianna Huffington and even Tony Robbins, as well as corporate clients that include Google, Casey Neistat’s video sharing app Beme, Creative Live, Complex and Refinery 29.
About a year ago, Ryan and I went deep on his life and his heralded book, The Obstacle Is The Way*— a primer on the functional applicability of stoic philosophy for turning modern-day obstacles into opportunities and adversity to advantage. Now translated into 17 languages, it’s a read that achieved cult status among some of the world’s most successful CEOs, political leaders, world class athletes and NFL coaches. One of my most popular episodes, I highly suggest you check out RRP 168 if you missed it the first time around.
Today, Ryan drops in to talk about his new book, Ego Is The Enemy*. His best work to date, it’s a philosophical and historical exploration of the difficulties we unnecessarily create for ourselves throughout the various phases of life.
If The Obstacle Is the Way is a roadmap for facing and overcoming external challenge, Ego Is The Enemy is a natural extension of that map, plotting practical strategies to optimally navigate our biggest internal limiter.
This is a conversation about the menace of ego at every stage of life and career. How early in life, ego impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. How ego can blind us in success. How ego magnifies failure to hold us back. It’s a conversation about why we should be purposeful over passionate. And, to coin Ryan’s words, its about why we should be humble in our aspirations, gracious in our success and resilient in our failures.
Specific topics discussed include:
- collaborative process of writing the book
- the fall of American Apparel
- reverence and ego
- constructive criticism
- defining ego in the context of book
- being humble in our aspirations
- being gracious in our success
- being resilient in our failure
- egoism and narcissism in social media
- the cost of achieving greatness
- satisfying the ego and seeds of destruction
- discussing the root of an unhealthy ego
- the concepts of passion & purpose
- creating healthy boundaries
- developing a healthy sense of confidence & humility
- justifiable ego in the face of injustice
- the decline of irresponsible journalism (i.e. Gawker)
Intellectually curious, poised and self-effacing to a fault, Ryan is a rare breath of fresh air in a culture of bloviators and white noise. Plus, he’s a really good runner. He kicked my butt on the trail right after we finished the podcast.
I sincerely hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
Peace + Plants,
A few spots are still available for our next retreat — for info visit ourplantpowerworld.com
Check out Julie’s new podcast divine throughline
Thanks to this week’s sponsors:
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Connect With Ryan:
- Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator*
- Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising*
- The Obstacle Is The Way: the Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph*
- Ego Is The Enemy*
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance and the Art of Living* (coming October 18, 2016)
Background, Context & Reference:
- Forbes: Ryan Holiday: How Ego Makes Business Leaders Less Successful by Dan Schawbel
- Forbes: Don’t Let Your Ego Be Your Enemy by Nick Morgan
- Inc.: 23 Must-Read Business Books for This Summer
- Outside: How Can I Bulletproof My Mind to Get More Out of My Body? by Brad Stulberg
- Fortune: How Ego Almost Destroyed Steve Jobs’ Career by Ryan Holiday
- Fortune: Having An Ego When You’re Young Might Hurt You in the Future [VIDEO]
- Fortune: The Biggest Internal Obstacle Leaders Face [VIDEO]
- TalksAtGoogle: Ryan Holiday: “Ego Is The Enemy” [VIDEO]
- SportsIllustrated: How a book on stoicism became wildly popular at every level in the NFL by Greg Bishop
- NextShark: Ryan Holiday Reveals The One Thing That Can Destroy Your Career in ‘Ego Is The Enemy’ by Benny Luo
- Entrepreneur: 5 Deadly Kinds of Ego That Prey Upon Your Success by Ryan Holiday
- NYPost: Got a Kanye-sized ego? Here’s how to fix it by Christian Gollayan
- ThoughtCatalog: 25 Ways To Kill The Toxic Ego That Will Ruin Your Life by Ryan Holiday
- HuffPo: Why Ego Is The Enemy in Business and in Life
- HuffPo: Does Ryan Holiday have The Cure For Modern Life? by Thomas Church
- Observer: The Difference Between NBA Stars and Flame-Outs Is the Secret to Success in Any Field by Ryan Holiday
- Observer: The Biggest Threat to Your Success Is the Story You Tell Yourself About Success by Ryan Holiday
- Podcast: Revisionist History by Malcom Gladwell
- Rockumentary: Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster*
- The Guardian: Billionaire’s revenge: Facebook investor Peter Thiel’s nine-year Gawker grudge by Nellie Bowles and Danny Yadron
- Book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a [email protected]* by Mark Manson
Notable People Discussed:
- Steven Pressfield*: author of historical fiction, non-fiction, and screenplays
- Elizabeth Gilbert*: author, essayist, short story writer, biographer, novelist, and memoirist
- John Keats: English Romantic poet
- George Marshall: American statesman and soldier, famous for his leadership roles during World War II and the Cold War
- Robert Greene*: author and speaker known for his books on strategy, power and seduction
- James Stockdale*: American and United States Navy vice admiral
- Malcom Gladwell: journalist, bestselling author, and speaker
- Nassim Taleb: Lebanese-American essayist, scholar, statistician, former trader, and risk analyst
- Brené Brown: scholar, author, and public speaker specializing in vulnerability
- Daniel Gilbert: social psychologist and writer
- Kirk Hammett: lead guitarist and songwriter for Metallica
- Dave Mustaine: musician, singer, songwriter, actor and author
- Joe Satriani: instrumental rock guitarist and multi-instrumentalist
- Seth Godin: author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker
- Peter Thiel: entrepreneur, venture capitalist and hedge fund manager
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:
- RRP #073: Casey Neistat on Making It Count And How To Do More
- RRP #075: James Altucher on Why You Should Choose Yourself
- RRP #144: Casey Neistat’s Absolute Disregard For Failure—And The Imperative To Define Your Own Path
- RRP #168: Turning Adversity To Advantage: Ryan Holiday On Why The Obstacle Is The Way
- RRP #174: Casey Neistat on Trusting Your Instincts & Principles That Guide A Creative Life
- RRP #217: Gary Vaynerchuk Works Harder Than You Do
Thanks to Jason Camiolo for production, interstitial music and audio engineering; Chris Swan for production assistance & show notes; Shawn Patterson for graphics; and Ana Leimma for the theme music and interstitial music. This week we feature a new demo track entitled Moonlight Sparks by Ana Leimma. If you enjoyed it, subscribe to their channel on Soundcloud and leave a comment there letting them know how much you enjoyed it!
*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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