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This Author: Merlin Mann

Back to Work Podcast by Merlin Mann

Back to Work Podcast

by Merlin Mann

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Back to Work is an award winning talk show with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discussing productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more. Hosted by Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin.


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316: Corona MacGuffin

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 21, 2017


This week, Dan and Merlin have one of their beloved "odds and sods" episodes. Something for everyone in this diverse and bewildering episode. "Same day delivery!"

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315: The Nakamichi Deal

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 14, 2017


TOPIC: "Delivery Attempted." This week, Merlin struggles with his coffee-making options, and Dan recalls his days of fishing lures. USPS deliveries, several TV shows, and Wolverine's disturbing bone claws are also discussed. Listener Jackson writes in to ask about dealing with failings of self-discipline.

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314: Which Fellini You Want to Be

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 07, 2017


TOPIC: "Remember this film is supposed to be a comedy." This week: Dan struggles with his progressive lenses, but he really liked the movie, Logan. Merlin's daughter has made four piles, and he finally accepts that he really should be watching more movies for his "work." Then, there's follow-up on that crazy S3 typo and some pretty poor Oscars® OPSEC. Then we're on to answering listener feedback via two futurist hats and a parenting hat: Listener Andrew, on self-driving cars and the mainstreaming of ponderous tech punditry. Listener Jason, on whether a future of voice computing will become a sociopathic blight. Listener Mark, on where the heck to find reasonable resources on better parenting.

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313: Parents, Old People, and Perverts

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 28, 2017


TOPIC: You can't perfect life. This week opens with the carnage of today's Amazon S3 problems and why so much of the internet seems broken. A brief history of outage monitoring is provided and a praxis for improving the process is proposed. Dan and Merlin debate what can be learned from how kids and other non-olds use technology "wrong." Should they be learning from us or should we be learning from them? This leads to some deeper ruminations on how we can choose to get better at doubting our own perceptions and correcting our own weird thinking. The future still isn't here yet—and that's kinda what makes it the future. After some discussion of mental health and creativity, the show pivots into yet more discussion of emerging technology, and how it consistently scares the crap out of people until…it just doesn't. Dan and Merlin wrap by answering a listener's question about whether it's better to be good at writing or at speaking.

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312: Snake Eating Its Own Goodwill

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 21, 2017


TOPIC: You're living in the future! This week, Merlin is in a bit of a tizzy as he tries to make coffee, redo his ads, and change his productivity system at the same time. Todoist and the evolving landscape of task apps are discussed. Dan likes Trello and Merlin likes tearing everything down and maybe just starting over. iPhone call ID and blocking apps get the treatment and Merlin has some recommendations. Dan has some questions about comics, and the boys reminisce about The Simpsons. As you do. Things get a little dark as your hosts look at deploying web ad (and tracker) blocking as survival and safety OPSEC. This leads to the donning of Futurist Hats and some subsequent speculation about the unfathomable things we might expect from our devices in the coming years.

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311: A Fair Eight

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 14, 2017


TOPIC: Alice hopes to hear from you. This week's episode is packed—literally, packed—with useful tips, tricks, and even a crazy challenge. Psyching yourself into falling asleep, learning how to breathe, using your iPhone's secret trackpad, and a gauntlet thrown (or maybe dropped?) to make yourself do everything with your voice for a day.

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310: Nominally Mine

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 07, 2017


TOPIC: My place is here—I fight with you! This week, Dan and Merlin cover a meetup announcement, Merlin's Les Mis obsession, Dan's new Hackintosh Method, and the Benjamin Family's slippery bar problem. Merlin advocates for "The Tiny Life Improvement Project." Pens and pencils are recommended, desks are discussed, and LBJ speaks out about his bespoke slack needs. The boys talk about the FTC's actions over Vizio's super-creepy user tracking, and wonder what questions to ask about the future of privacy on our smart devices. Things wrap with a quick discussion of culture-specific cargo culting and why we still cut the ends off the roast.

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309: Hard Pass

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 31, 2017


TOPIC: Celebrating your successful failures. This week, Dan and Merlin kick off with discussion of night bears, the ascendance of Netflix, and some very nice emails from listeners. Merlin also shares an important life hack for Twitter. Merlin brings in a new thought technology via Jen Kirkman guesting on John Moe's wonderful podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression: learning how to talk back to the voices in your head. Dan gives some big updates to his (theoretical) project to build a (theoretical) Hackintosh. Huge week. Finally, Merlin shares a thought on how to potentially find success in your miniature failures. What happens when you decide to keep doing something not because you want to succeed at it…but just because it's a thing that you do?

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308: When Does the Fork Go on the Sat?

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 24, 2017


TOPIC: Act like you're somebody that you like. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the evolution of voice recognition and touch interfaces and reminisce on the early days of making the turtle move. Dan brings in the topic of how fears of both failure and success lead to missed opportunities. Your hosts talk about how to track down the nagging bad feelings about these regrets and troubleshoot what we can learn from them. Merlin talks about recently returning to “Morning Pages,” what he’s learning from doing it, as well as some tips to help you get started with doing your own daily brain dump.

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307: #43 on The Ladder of Kindness

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 17, 2017


TOPIC: Youth is the aberration. This week, Dan provides updates on his Hackintosh project, which leads to a discussion of finding reviews and advice with context. The hosts realize, acknowledge, and quickly move past their program’s 6th anniversary, spending more time on that drum sound Merlin makes with his mouth. Recent email pitches are discussed, and advice is offered on smarter ways to pitch strangers on practically anything. Merlin responds to a question from a listener about learning to find inspiration in the absence of crisis.

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306: Sunday Pant

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 10, 2017


TOPIC: Reframing the conversation with yourself. This week, Merlin talks about his weird mortgage ads and compliments the literally fancy pants he got from the silver underpants people. Suggestions are offered for running a dehumidifier in a “smart home.” Dan and Merlin have a lot to say about terlets (hey, it’s been a while). Merlin shares a service for intelligently correlating personal tracking data, a listener has success with some B2W email advice, and another listener asks for tips on doing better self-talk. Dan shares his cool new project to build a Hackintosh.

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305: Quadruple Down

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 03, 2017


TOPIC: This is a feeling I'm feeling. This week, your hosts look at the announcement of Dish's new Air TV box, along with the rapidly evolving landscape for cord-cutters. Also, fantasies of monk holes are entertained. The big topic this week is a discussion of a listener's question about the role of positive thinking. [This is a good one.]

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304: The 2016 Compilation Episode

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Sat, Dec 31, 2016


This is the Best of 2016 Compilation Episode, featuring your favorite moments of the show over the last 12 months. Each clip was suggested and submitted by you, our amazing listeners. Have a great new year!

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303: A Liver Runs Through It

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 20, 2016


TOPIC: Is Tim firing us? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenge of dealing with email that's only kind of from a real person. There's some follow-up on Apple and wishing they'd just give us a "Get out of here!" Merlin recommends some podcasts and a terrific new clipboard manager from Tapbots. Dan talks about why he finally gave in and treated his eyes to a bigger phone. Just don't get him started on progressive lenses.

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302: Rabbi for the Rabbi

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 13, 2016


This week, the boys talk about slicing sand, unboxing videos, Overwatch, and some recommended TV viewing. Odds and sods, as you say. Main topic is follow-up re: listener feedback on recent Apple conversations.

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301: Not on My Timeline

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 06, 2016


TOPIC: Vaio Life! This week, Dan and Merlin respond to listener feedback and talk about the tightrope walk of caffeine consumption. Merlin suggests a new AudioDharma talk, which leads to a discussion of whether you have to be an X to learn about Y. Spoiler Alert: you don't. Dan updates us on his son's hot new gaming PC, and your hosts can't stop themselves from ruminating (again, again) on why Apple's hardware choices feel be so frustrating…and disappointing.

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300: A Room Where I Don’t Matter

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Thu, Dec 01, 2016


TOPIC: Kipple and Boomboxes This week Dan and Merlin start by talking about purging junk and answering listener feedback about kids and phones and teachers dealing with email. Main topic this week is whither Apple? Based on how the company is evolving, who do we think their future products will be for?

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299: Unhook from the Comparison

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Nov 23, 2016


TOPIC: Your "backstage" vs. their "onstage" This week, Merlin shares some useful thoughts (via Patrick Rothfuss) on being careful about how we compare ourselves to others. The hosts also share some terrific listener suggestions for fantasy books for kids. Also, Dan has strong feelings about poultry.

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298: Night Boot for Big Beef

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 15, 2016


This week, Dan and Merlin do another of their beloved Odds 'n Sods episodes, with tons of great recommendations for movies, TV, apps, services, and nighttime medical appliances.

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297: It Takes Craftspersonship

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Fri, Nov 11, 2016


This week, Dan and Merlin are a little out of sorts, so, after some chat and followup, they talk about some of the things that make them happy. Plus, awesome Mac key commands.

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296: Surely You Can't be Sirius

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 01, 2016


TOPIC: Leaving Dropbox Vegas Merlin survives a sleepover, and Dan has a concern about Dropbox.

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295: I’m Not Talkin’ for Clapping

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 25, 2016


Dan's still a little under the weather What home automation is good at right now (and what it mostly isn't) Updates on Hiya and call-blocking apps not working so much Merlin is getting pretty good at making Trump hands Hey! Follow-up and listener questions! Listener Greg wisely reframes the communication problem If you want to help people: offer something specific John Siracusa just wants toast in a reasonable amount of time Listener Johnathan has trouble getting timely responses from his busy manager Tip: It pays to ask around and maybe escalate Everybody feels vulnerable about something Listener Brian doesn't want to pester people about his side project Tip: Scale up and act like a magazine editor Ooooo…The Monty Hall Problem! Listener Matt needs tips on being a new dad Tip: You're not as bad at this as you think (or fear)

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294: Sufficiently Advanced Friendship

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 18, 2016


TOPIC: How to pester people responsibly. Dan's a little under the weather. Maybe kids should be in balls. Who knows? "Wrap a hot towel around your head." Westworld. It's definitely a thing. Follow-up… TaskPaper 3.5 is awesome. Yes. There are good board games. Sorry about that. How Merlin made Candyland more interesting. But only a little. Followup on smoke detectors. What a mess! More advice on covering up dumb LED lights. Merlin has an amazing rice cooker. Harry Potter talk. Movies we like, etc. Cool new Harry Potter prints. MAIN TOPIC: How to pester people responsibly. Trouble getting a response: what's the real problem here? Merlin learned a lot from being an unsuccessful project manager. If your results are at odds with your expectations? Something isn't working. Dan talks about his new interest in informal journaling. Writing is a 3D printer for your thoughts.

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293: The Frame for Our Relationship

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 11, 2016


TOPIC: The Minimum Viable Waste of Time. Some awesome odds and sods, a great new Markdown editor for OS X, and a main topic on dealing with those aggressive email follow-up people. Dan's Concern™ regarding his annoying smoke detectors Why things seem to get worse and more diverse Evaluate the credulity of Amazon reviews with Fakespot Scary edge cases for Samsung Note fires Cary's great DNS switching trick Merlin is loving Typora, a clever and powerful new desktop Markdown editor Pandoc does many file conversion things Homebrew makes Mac package management a doddle Brett Terpstra's Markdown Service Tools are essential TableFlip is a cool app for making and editing Markdown tables Fountain and Slugline are awesome for Markdown-like screenplay writing Also, hey. Editorial for iOS can totally handle Fountain files. Turns out! Merlin and Dan are still really liking iOS 10 It's definitely worth the time to prune your iOS notifications Main Topic: How should we deal with all those "just circling back" people? iPhone spam call blocker Hiya seems to be working now

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292: Rat King of Crush

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 04, 2016


TOPIC: A Surfeit of Merlin Mannsplaining. This week, Dan and Merlin produce an undisputed instaclassic odds and sods episode. When technology makes you feel crazy. Are retweets endorsements? Universal New Yorker captions. Cursed Images is amazing. Vatican Cameos! A totally smooth way to stop talking about someone when they walk into the room. iOS 10 call-blocking apps. Do they even? How to send an 'E mail' - Database - 1984 - YouTube BIG ACTUALLY-USEFUL SEGMENT: Two super-interesting matrices. How to plan your day. What Percentage Alcohol? WHAT PERCENTAGE? We still miss Phil Hartman. A recommended RSS option. Apple caters to Dan's News needs. Dim your LEDs! "Alexa, who is the Mother of Dragons?" Fast gloss on Plex's very interesting new Cloud Sync offering. This is one for the books.

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291: Three Healthy Holes

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 27, 2016


TOPIC: The Unreliable Narrator of You This week, Dan and Merlin talk about weather, compost, small changes, plus some Sling TV followup. The main topic involves Merlin helping Dan sanely enter the Philips Hue Light ecosystem. It's not just for nerds any more. (Although, sure, yeah, it's still mostly for nerds.)

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290: Table Scraps for Cable Cutters

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 20, 2016


TOPIC: Nobody's favorite thing. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about update failures, magic, and attention. Their ongoing dive into the fractured and frustrating world of the modern cord-cutter ecosystem continues. It's ponderous.

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289: John Rhetoric

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 13, 2016


TOPIC: Every week (and every time you think of it) This week, Dan and Merlin start by talking about some of the great updates iOS 10—alongside the usual strident advice about backing up before you do anything. Merlin also shares the late-night debacle of trying to order a new iPhone. There's some talk about weird 80s Budweiser commercials and then a deep dive on how (and whether) to setup and use the neato Plex DVR.

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288: History is Not Made for Horses

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 06, 2016


TOPIC: Find My Mac. Please. With Apple's big iPhone event coming tomorrow, Dan and Merlin discuss what makes this particular day such a black box in Apple's history. This is likely to be the last day for some time when we will know SO very little about where Apple is heading. Also, there's some discussion of which kinds of technology we're most resistant to and maybe why that is.

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287: You Are Now Cleared for Salad

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 30, 2016


TOPIC: Frantic SM 10 Pieces This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the problem with wraps, the problem with notebooks, and the problem with Amazon reviews.

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286: Secret Rap Name

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 23, 2016


TOPIC: Hey, try this. This week, Dan and Merlin have a shortie, so they talk about stuff they're loving right now and make some recommendations on gadgets, music, movies, and more. Also, the scientific link between chemtrails and morgellons can finally be revealed.

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285: A Baller VCR

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 16, 2016


TOPIC: Kids don't need VCR Plus+. This week, Dan and Merlin continue their series on updates. The topic this week is all about media consumption—in particular, the massive changes to how they learn about, locate, obtain, schedule, and consume media over the past decade or so. Sure, there's the usual old man talk about how How It Used To Be, but there's a heavy focus on how these changes are changing the way media is funded and produced. What's that media landscape gonna look like when a 5-year-old playing with an iPad becomes the producer of media in a very few years?

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284: Wake Up, Van H?t

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 09, 2016


This week, Dan and Merlin open with an unintentionally deep dive on how Merlin has been tricking out his house with home automation stuff. The main topic this week returns to the theme of updates; in this case, how ubiquitous devices have changed pretty much everything.

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283: Cognition to Completion

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 02, 2016


This week, Dan and Merlin continue their series on updates, talking about the evolution of electronic task management in their lives. Hint: simplify, simplify.

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282: Boring and Yet Wonderful

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 26, 2016


TOPIC: Orinoco Flow This week, Dan and Merlin continue their series on updates, focusing on the difference between the days before and after ubiquitous wifi. Also, lots of fun odds and sods on Scrivener and surviving summer with kids.

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281: The Mayor of Chocolate Sundaes

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 19, 2016


TOPIC: Way of the future. This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion on updates to their systems and their productivity worlds. In particular: how have new technologies and critical masses of users led to wanting or needing fewer intermediary communications layers? For years, email was more than just the lingua franca; it was that one internet communication protocol that every user could be counted upon to have and use. But, today? Options, baby, options! Sometimes for worse, but, so often, for much better.

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280: The Big Filter

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 12, 2016


TOPIC: Updates on Productivity and a modern Kobayashi Maru Scenario This week, Dan and Merlin start a new series on updates. Which sounds really boring, but it isn't, we swear. This time out, the boys start by diving deep on how and why just so much of their productivity systems have changed over the years. Innumerable ways in which technology and life has evolved to where so many of the old systems seem fiddly, unnecessary, or both. [This is a good one.]

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279: The Fishery Loophole

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 05, 2016


TOPIC: …and, then what happens? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the unexpected cognitive benefits of ritual, repetition, and thinking through the fascinating question: "…and, then what happens?"

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278: Yelling at an Idea

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 28, 2016


TOPIC: People, amirite? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the complexities of communicating with each other. And, brother, is it ever complicated.

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277: Everything's Hard

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 21, 2016


TOPIC: Varieties of pain. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's progress on building fireside.io and its imminent beta release. Lots of fascinating details on why he's made it and who it might be great for. Then, there's discussion of the unexpected mental benefits of physical training, and the influence that various sorts of pain (real or imagined) can have on us.

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276: Do You Even Lift?

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 14, 2016


TOPIC: Merlin's never sent his heartbeat. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about some of this week's WWDC announcements, the past and future of Apple, and that awkward feeling of wondering whether and when new technology is personally relevant.

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275: The Lies of Big Shoe

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 07, 2016


TOPIC: Fill one bag. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about our relationship with the stuff in our lives and how overwhelming it can be. Solutions are offered—throw out that old cinnamon!

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274: A Goat in the Pipe

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 31, 2016


TOPIC: Disruptions in Service This week, Dan and Merlin talk about that ineffable but growing feeling of disconnection from the collections we used to treasure. Music, Photos, Movies, Books—all the stuff we increasingly entrust to The Cloud. Seems like there's a weird confluence of changing culture and buggy technology that makes us feel sadly meh about making everything work. And that feels weird. Also? Don't be Randyll Tarly. That guy's a total choad.

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273: Knives and Spoons

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 24, 2016


TOPIC: True or false dilemmas? This week, things kick off with a discussion of how to be helpful. Especially at your kid's school, but really just in general. This leads to a rumination on "roots" and what makes us feel like we're part of a community. The main topic is about the future of machine learning, voice control, and all things "smart." What do we want, what can we imagine, and how do our own biases and habits constrain our sense of possibility?

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272: Surprise Endoscopy

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 17, 2016


TOPIC: Such small hands. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's acquisition of an iPhone SE and how much he's loving it. This leads to some ruminative discussion about how we pick devices based on how we prefer to use them. Also, some love for Spider-Man in the Civil War movie.

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271: Gravy Dumpster

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 10, 2016


TOPIC: Grow what? Grow HOW? This week, Dan and Merlin have a surprisingly passionate discussion about growth. Companies gotta "grow," right? But…what the hell does that really even mean? Lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous. Also, an important update on Pek Pongpaet.

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270: According to the Cabinet

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 03, 2016


TOPIC: Opinion at Scale. This week kicks off with a confession that Dan and Merlin are increasingly less interested in coverage of Apple's finances and the related Kremlinology and blind guessing about the company. Merlin announces the unlikely product he'd love for Apple to create (and why it'll probably never happen). Also, lots of followup on apps and services for fitness and personal tracking.

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269: 65 Cigarette Butts

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Apr 27, 2016


TOPIC: Finding stories and insights hiding in your data. This week, Dan and Merlin dive deep into the new world of personal tracking. Dan has a new FitBit, and Merlin has a surprisingly complicated system involving many devices and apps. Great stuff you can try for yourself. Also discussed: Merlin's weird cat, Deadpool, Pek Pongpaet the Professional Podcast Pundit, Alexa on Fire TV, a defense of Reed Richards, and Dan's advice on how to setup your own VPN.

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268: Tumblo Drylo

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 19, 2016


TOPIC: Putting an Overt Stake in the Ground. This week, Dan and Merlin end up talking about the surprising stuff a Fitbit can do for you. Dan even buys one. Also, some discussion of pope hats, NASCAR, (the amazing) Screens 4, and that failing restaurant by Dan's office that kinda looks like Terminus.

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267: Dear Iowa, I Have Enjoyed Your Corn

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 12, 2016


TOPIC: But, alas. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Smile's updated announcement about TextExpander and the ugly problem of blind internet rage. Also, lots of talk about ponderous 80s movies and old TV shows, including Dan learning which program had that tiny tabletop robot. Also, we are endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bearskins.

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266: European Bachelor

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 05, 2016


TOPIC: Wow, times change. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenges and opportunities of subscription-based payment models. When do they work (or not) and how quickly does autopay fatigue kick in?

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265: Especially Doris

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 29, 2016


TOPIC: Welcome to Costco. I love you. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about breakfast sandwiches, the pain and suffering of dealing with Apple IDs, managing kids and their iOS devices, Merlin's weird week with Playstation Vue, and the science (or otherwise) behind iOS's Night Shift. The main topic this week focuses on quality, values, and self-improvement. Are Dan and Merlin just cloud-yelling old men for wishing writers (and everyone for that matter) would try a little harder? Maybe. Maybe not.

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264: This Made Me Think of You

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 22, 2016


TOPIC: Serving the super-motivated super-fan. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about: a modest request from Merlin some interesting new options for viewing OTA broadcast television on Apple TV the evolution (and often lost opportunities) of media delivery highlights of yesterday's Apple event

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263: The Working Definition of Love

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 15, 2016


TOPIC: No one cares about your demo anymore. This week Dan & Merlin talk about realizing when life isn't all about you and getting better at learning how to say "thank you." Also, lots of great practical (and philosophical) suggestions for getting started with or back into comics.

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262: Large Platinum Spoon

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 08, 2016


TOPIC: Staying out of Technology Detention This week, Dan and Merlin do another giant-size grabbag episode that covers a lot of ground, including: movies, kids, and ratings, oh my! better text editing on iPad, faster typing on iOS complexities of picking the right pairings of Apple devices what's up with apps not launching in iOS? Hound, and the future of voice-controlled computing staying provisionally joyful about the possibilities of new technology exploring Merlin's early experience with a Synology NAS

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261: The Illusion of Ease

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 01, 2016


TOPIC: That's Not How the Future Works. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about evolving technology culture, the weird landscape of semi-smart devices, and why Merlin does and kinda doesn't do Getting Things Done so much anymore.

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260: Stuck in Green Forever

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 23, 2016


TOPIC: Grab Bag. This week, Dan and Merlin cover the waterfront. This wide-ranging episode covers lots of listener feedback, corrections of egregious errors, D&D alignment, the danger of guessing why people are how they are, some fun Tumblr recommendations, considering the yak-shaving ordeal of time-shifting broadcast TV, plus further discussion of last week's topic re: kids and computer access.

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259: The Transitive Quality of Misunderstanding

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 16, 2016


TOPIC: Epistemology and Parenting as Dumpster Fire This week, Dan and Merlin end up talking a lot about what they don't know and how they know they don't know it. The biases, errors, and frames that make us feel wiser than we probably are. Sometimes it pays to learn how to be a dummy. Also, Dan learns what a "film projector" is.

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258: Means of Egress

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 09, 2016


TOPIC: Feelings, Slide Rules, and The Franklin Test This week Merlin hasn't had enough coffee and may have early-onset toxoplasmosis, so he and Dan respond to great feedback from listeners, mostly on feeling feelings.

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257: Homemade Science Mayonnaise

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 02, 2016


TOPIC: Information, Context, and Courage. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the reaction to last week's episode about work and identity and respond to follow-up questions from listeners. Also, Merlin buys a faucet.

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256: Every Minute Weighs the Same

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 26, 2016


TOPIC: Coder, Kayaker, Father, Person. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's attempt to vastly rejigger his schedule in the interest of mental and physical health. This leads to a long discussion of work, identity, expectations, and choosing which of the voices in your head to listen to and when.

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255: A Ladle of Ladling

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 19, 2016


TOPIC: Say something funny. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about entertainment as a career and how difficult it can be to know whether you're suited for it. Plus, discussions of X-Men, San Francisco's collapse, and the best way to get vomit out of the bathroom sink.

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254: Fixed Points in Time

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 12, 2016


TOPIC: Budgeting the Primary Secondary Project This week, Dan and Merlin do a deep dive on a very old and very thorny topic: managing time. Thing is: this is not about bookkeeping—it's about accounting. Being honest, humble, and diligent in mindfully applying your time and seeing how it went. (This is a good one.)

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253: Ty Lambo

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 05, 2016


TOPIC: Elephants all the way down. This week, Dan and Merlin do a deep dive on communication, perception, persuasion, empathy, and understanding, as illustrated by everything from The Force Awakens to Don LaPre to PR emails to Donald Trump to a variety of elephants—plus a famous photo of a man and the fake dead triceratops he supposedly killed.

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252: The Chocolate Boys

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Dec 23, 2015


TOPIC: Something something the things we own. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the way shopping changes how we buy stuff—and how buying is changing what we can actually shop for. Then, there's a ruminative discussion of the Mast Brothers chocolate dust-up and what it might say about our sense of story, identity, and "authenticity."

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251: Manna Goy

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 15, 2015


TOPIC: Maybe quit being so "busy." This week, Dan and Merlin drop a lot of science on the miraculous taxonomies of Judaica. Mazel Tov! For the big topic, Merlin launches into an animated jeremiad on words meaning things, with a focus on being terminally "busy" versus being willfully "time-constrained."

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250: Step One: Don't Dress Like the Hamburglar

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 08, 2015


TOPIC: Sunrise, Sunset. This week, Dan and Merlin celebrate their 250th episode with an extensive discussion of McDonaldland and its horrific culture and citizenry. The main topic addresses the ““sunsetting”” of the Mailbox iOS app—and what it highlights about deciding where to put our stuff, what apps we choose to use, and what contingency plans it's probably wise to have in place.

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249: A John Nash Moment

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 01, 2015


TOPIC: Personal Crazy Walls This week, Dan and Merlin start by covering a lot of things that you might actually be thinking of. The meat of the episode focuses on a listener question about deciding what things go where—leading to a pretty nerdy exegesis of Notes vs. text files, reminders vs. task managers, and where stuff goes vs. where it probably should go.

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248: A Rye Bread Made of Birds

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 24, 2015


TOPIC: More Songs About Buildings and Food This week, Dan and Merlin talk about transitions, microwave ovens, air conditioning, and the likelihood of salmonella.

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247: On a Farm with a Monkey

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 17, 2015


TOPIC: A Mark on a Page This week, Dan and Merlin kick off by talking about Dan's recent interview with "Weird Al" and how he's such an interesting harbinger of changing times for media and platforms. Next, Merlin responds to a listener's question about how he uses a notebook, which leads to an extended dissertation on how to ruin your notebook in the best way possible. Nothing doesn't go in here.

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246: Venn Diagram of Confusion

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 10, 2015


TOPIC: Medieval or Renaissance? This week, Dan and Merlin start out by helping listeners learn to identify the subtle differences between all things Renaissance and Medieval. The remainder of the show is split between an in-depth introduction to the Plex media ecosystem, and a philosophical and practical meditation on choosing how to spend a given day.

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245: The Least Broken

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 03, 2015


TOPIC: First impressions of the new Apple TV This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the triumphs and travails of their first few days with the fourth generation Apple TV.

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244: You Have to Be a Stag

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 27, 2015


TOPIC: You are who you choose to be. This week Dan and Merlin talk about making buying decisions, dealing with unsolicited email, preventing stupid from sticking to you, and finding systems that may or may not work.

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243: The Device at Hand

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 20, 2015


TOPIC: It's Business All the Way Down. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about joys and frustrations of contemporary consumer technologies. So great yet so frustrating. So powerful yet so hobbled. It's weird how, as great as the newest tech ever gets, we so quickly find we're bumping right up against business, business, business. Then, there's some more discussion of updates in iOS 9 and what we can now do with iPhone 6s, highlighting the astonishing power of trackpad mode. Finally, some updates on Dan's cord-cutting and how one may choose how and what we're each willing to pay for—and how it's just no fun to amortize other people's garbage with your own time.

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242: Not My Bird

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Oct 14, 2015


TOPIC: Procrastination is a life sentence. This week, after some high-level discussion on the topics of Marvel and media reduxes, Dan and Merlin (maaaaybe) wrap up their initial and very positive impressions of iOS 9 on modern Apple devices. More fawning talk of Siri, plus tips on easily adding items to Reminders and Notes. Dan also lays out his freeing new philosophy and implementations for doing sane email on an iPad. Then, Merlin goes off a little on why constantly feeling bad about yourself is a terrible idea.

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241: We Went to Princeton

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 06, 2015


TOPIC: iOS Amazement This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's new iPad Air 2 and continue their discussion of how much iOS 9 on modern devices is already changing how we do our work. Also, some nerdy updates on how Merlin uses synced text files via Drafts, Editorial, and nvALT.

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240: The Third Phase Is Now

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 29, 2015


TOPIC: Speed, Reliability, and Expectations This episode, Dan and Merlin talk about this week's massive leaps forward with the pairing of iOS 9 and iPhone 6s.

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239: Starving African Child

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Sep 23, 2015


TOPIC: Block! Block! Body blow! Uppercut! This week, Dan and Merlin talk less about ad-blocking and more about what kind-of feels like (but might not actually be) a point of change for web advertising, podcasting, and media as a whole, which could affect, like, everything, man.

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238: A 100-Year Problem

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 15, 2015


TOPIC: Knowing what you'll need to know. This week, Dan and Merlin answer a listener question about how the "slow your roll" thought technology can apply to learning new skills.

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237: Slow Your Roll

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 08, 2015


TOPIC: Stop that train! This week, Dan and Merlin talk about some ideas for noticing and then battling the surfeits of negative thought that sometimes threaten to overrun us. Also: talk of a cool new computer mouse, evolution in the comic book industry, and what constitutes "real camping."

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236: Finished for Now

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 01, 2015


TOPIC: Practice, practice, practice. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the perilous wonders of practice of all kinds.

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235: This is a Thing

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 25, 2015


TOPIC: Losing hit points. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the stuff you have to do to stay healthy and well—and the rocky path to realizing when you have to actually "make it a thing." There's also some follow-up on OTA antennas, car keys, and how little most of us really understand about the media industries.

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234: Two Inches Behind the Board

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 18, 2015


TOPIC: Compensatory muscles This week, Dan and Merlin talk about how much emotions can become like physical injuries—and what happens when we try to overcompensate for either.

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233: Emotional Density

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 11, 2015


TOPIC: Can I ask you a question? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the complexities of communicating effectively via email. They also begin to sketch out a unified field theory for escalating communication media based on informational and emotional destiny. Also, more thoughts on The Smiths, plus some recommendations on books and comics for kids.

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232: You Got This.

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Aug 05, 2015


TOPIC: Don't just be the meatbag in the room. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about "the fill-in guy," TV shows they're loving, listener feedback, improving presentations, The Smiths, the evolution of podcasts, contact management woes, and remembering what you're capable of.

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231: Hot Rod Hospital Ship

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 28, 2015


With Merlin on sabbatical (returning next week), Dan is once again joined by John Roderick. They discuss the significance of dreams, sleep paralysis, unexplained phenomenon, alien abductions, a relationship with magic, the importance of history, night terrors, and leaving a legacy.

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230: My Emotional Reservoir

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 21, 2015


With Merlin on sabbatical, Dan is joined by John Roderick to talk about being a candidate, taking care of yourself, managing introversion, trying on ideas without fear, the Thirty Years War, and the struggle of being a generalist.

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229: Shrimp in the Desert

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 14, 2015


TOPIC: The perils and joys of just getting started. This week's episode is chockablock with awesomeness, from the sublime to the ridiculous. It ends on a very inspiring note. But, en route: Mexican guys love Morrissey Shabbos goys cause fire to be created An eruv is an ad hoc house described by string Merlin has Aloha for Judaism Teaching History is hard America owes some apologies Endorsing "Ordinary People Change the World" books Endorsing Mr. Robot and Humans Thanks for great Holacracy feedback (more later) Feedback on Merlin's lightning cable corrosion Dan's Concern: Acura recall What's up with "over the shoulder syndrome?" Is it dangerous to talk on a phone in the car? Is it dangerous to approbate? HUGE followup on "perfect is the enemy of the good" Just make a mark on a page.

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228: Tibet's Next Top Buddha

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 07, 2015


TOPIC: What kind of "perfect" can you tolerate? This week, Dan and Merlin have a big week. A huge week. Opening with a thank you to generous listeners, the boys then proceed to tackle some FU on the complicated world of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III (he is recognized!). Next up is some preliminary discussion on Pando's recent hit piece on Tony Hsieh, his weird edict for Holacracy at Zappos, and his strange and checkered history with theoretically transforming downtown Las Vegas. Moving forward, "Merlin's Concern" about his bizarre lightning cable problem is addressed and assigned to further research by the Fun Bunch. Finally, the meat of the episode is served in an extended meditation on whether and when "perfect is the enemy of good"—and how that concept maybe relates to aspects of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

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227: The Treasure Room

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 30, 2015


TOPIC: Learning to shut up and relax. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenges and benefits of getting out of your own head.

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226: Only Child*

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 23, 2015


TOPIC: Hitting and sharing and dietetic lunch. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about having and not having siblings (and what it may or may not actually mean) as well as addressing some of the rapid changes coming to the business of podcasting.

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225: A Different Kind of Happy

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 16, 2015


TOPIC: You can't have ALL the phone calls. This week, Dan and Merlin battle Skype to talk about Dan't hissing floor, text editing on iOS, plus more followup on WWDC announcements. Spotlight on a second look at last week's conversation about how we do and don't communicate.

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224: Sugar Pills and a Pack of Cigarettes

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 09, 2015


TOPIC: Poundsign Communication This week, Dan and Merlin talk about evolutions in how we do and don't communicate with each other.

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223: Normal is Whatever is There

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 02, 2015


TOPIC: Interstitial time and why you want it back. This week, after some preliminary discussion of smoking and the children who throw rocks and run track, Dan and Merlin answer questions from listeners.

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222: Full-Stack Obsessive

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Thu, May 28, 2015


Merlin and Dan use The Aviator as a jumping-off point to talk about OCD as it relates to perfectionism, creativity, and drive in the workplace. They discuss rituals and their consequences, the importance of mise en place, and eliminating disruptive processes. Also, Merlin invokes the term "workflows".

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221: Minimally Viable Interruption

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 19, 2015


TOPIC: Time, Stones, and Giving Yourself a Break Just…give yourself permission to not feel like a dick today. Especially if you think you don't deserve it.

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220: Canadian Gentle

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 12, 2015


TOPIC: Hopeless and Impossible. This week, Dan and Merlin, delve deeper into the impossibly hopeless nature of email.

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219: At Sixes and Sevens

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 05, 2015


TOPIC: Jumping Over the Precipice. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about what to be courageous about and when. It's rarely as easy or as simple as it seems.

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218: The Tigers in Your Kitchen

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 28, 2015


TOPIC: Fear, Anxiety, and Existential Whack-A-Mole This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Color Guard, the science of binge watching, and the uncertain future of podcasts. But, mainly, they talk a lot about fear and anxiety. Deep dive here. How are fear and anxiety different? What's a habitual thought feel like? And, what are some little ways to start gently climbing out?

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217: The Worst Most Advanced Teenager

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 21, 2015


TOPIC: Take it personal and make it personal. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about culture, solipsism, hiring, and needle-moving things.

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216: Safety Sword

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 14, 2015


TOPIC: Kremlinology and Verbing This week, Dan and Merlin follow-up on Dan's neighbor and The Trailer Incident. They also undertake a rather circuitous exploration of how little we understand about how stuff gets made. This leads to a semi-useful discussion of how the verbs we verb do and don't constitute the nouns we noun—and when we realize that.

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215: Legacy Cat

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 07, 2015


TOPIC: With great power comes…uh, uh, what-have-you. This week, Dan and Merlin cover a lot of ground. What makes a great comics movie. What movies to show (and not show) your kids. The majesty of The Big Lebowski. And, what exactly Dan should do about a construction trailer and a crawfish-pinching doctor.

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214: Destroyed by Farm Equipment

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Apr 01, 2015


TOPIC: Youth as exception. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about chess, the problem with SEO, and why getting old is normal (if you're lucky).

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213: That's Not Where Rogue Goes!

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 24, 2015


TOPIC: Thinking Patterns and Thinking Bias This week, Dan and Merlin talk in detail about how our unconscious patterns of thinking can damage our quality of life and hinder our ability to grow.

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212: That Tuesday Feeling

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Mar 16, 2015


TOPIC: A lotta ins, a lotta outs, a lotta what-have-yous. This week, Dan and Merlin are all thrown off since they're recording on a Monday. Weird, right? They mostly talk about the respective states of comics and Apple fandom.

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211: Squeeze the Teabag

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 10, 2015


TOPIC: The weather is not the sky. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about discovering the challenges that help you to thrive—and grow.

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210: Fighting with Garbage Can Lids

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 03, 2015


TOPIC: Less of an Island. This week Dan and Merlin talk about time, negotiations, and what we want (and don't want) from our email apps.

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209: Habitual Ritual

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Feb 25, 2015


TOPIC: Throwing Stars and Managers This week, Dan and Merlin talk about working in a beehive and discuss whether they played D&D properly.

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208: Don't Touch Daddy

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Feb 18, 2015


TOPIC: Illness, Late Night TV, AI in the home, and Talking Baby Dolls This week, Merlin battles the flu to talk with Dan about late night television, binge watching, talking baby dolls, and the kind of artificial intelligence we really need.

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207: Vampires in the Wallpaper

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 10, 2015


TOPIC: Scoping the Minimally-Viable Me This week, Dan and Merlin catch up on illness, Marvel comics, and what-have-you, but end up talking a lot about who we really are—who "I" actually am. Merlin eventually slips into an imbued and mildly-psychedelic fugue state that may strike the listener as alternately insightful and insane.

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206: Talking to Santa

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 27, 2015


TOPIC: Work as Practice This week Dan and Merlin chew on some of the numerous eternal imponderables of creative work—with a special focus on "work as practice."

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205: Obsolete, circa 1993

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Thu, Jan 22, 2015


With Merlin on sabbatical, Dan is joined by John Roderick to discuss his recent visit to Africa, the military, corporate friends, strategic thinking, the Internet, digital books and albums, echoes, playmobil figures, measuring your arms, the tribal world, selling coats on the internet, and more.

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204: Space Geisha

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 13, 2015


TOPIC: "I am NOT talking about bartending." A kind of two-parter this week. First up, a meditation on invasive thoughts, how they can take over our lives, and how we can maybe learn to deal with them. Second (starting about 38 minutes in), a VERY SPOILER-HEAVY dissection of the amazing new time travel movie, Predestination.

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203: I Blame the Media.

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 06, 2015


TOPIC: The things you did or didn't say. This week, Dan and Merlin sympathize with their pal Marco's recently becoming "way too popular for a day." What happens when something we said or wrote gets quoted, misquoted, taken out of context, or amplified a thousand times more than we'd expected?

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202: Choosing is a Radio Button

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 30, 2014


TOPIC: The Life You Actually Want. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about organization, multitasking and new year's resolutions.

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201: Never Enough Bathrooms

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 23, 2014


TOPIC: The Opacity of the Stack In this depressing holiday episode, Dan and Merlin talk about how tenuous our modern infrastructures feel. How great it is when everything in the stack "just works"; how increasingly seldom all the pieces work; and how frustrating it can be to figure out exactly what's broken.

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200: Blitzkriegschei?e

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 16, 2014


TOPIC: He'll only do three of these. This week, Dan and Merlin mark their 200th episode by responding to listener feedback and talking about Led Zeppelin and lunch tables.

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199: Merlin Mann's Best of 2014

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 09, 2014


TOPIC: When You Love a Voice. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about podcasts they're loving right now. And, yeah, Merlin rants a little about overthinking and fetishizing podcast production.

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198: Gardening Leave

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 02, 2014


TOPIC: Time to reboot. This week, Dan and Merlin respond to a note from Listener Tim on how to stay busy and active during his garden leave. The Boys encourage him to experiment with the personal rebooting that's almost impossible to do when you're stuck at an official jobby-job.

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197: Way of the Brown Lego

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 25, 2014


TOPIC: Mail Bag. This week, Dan & Merlin respond to listener email and toots. Specifically, dealing with passive-aggressive team members, bulbous "CC:" lines, and what constitutes "stability."

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196: The Circle of Lice

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Thu, Nov 20, 2014


TOPIC: Hakuna Matata. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about home pest control, misleading beef jerky, and becoming a more conservative electronics consumer.

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195: Prima Facie Butter Coffee

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 11, 2014


TOPIC: Working alone together. This week, Dan and Merlin look at the many ways workplaces have changed over the years, and how they can be great or not so great.

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194: The Company of a Clown

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 04, 2014


TOPIC: What gets us on the moon? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about varieties of clowns, rogue walruses, bloody elevator buttons, taking risks, and catching footballs.

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193: Disappointment Delivery Mechanism

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 28, 2014


TOPIC: You Are That Little Dot. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about notifications, beeps, bloops, flashes, and all the stuff we have zero control over. There's about a million ways people can contact us and just as many ways we can unintentionally disappoint every one of them. There's sanity in realizing which stuff you actually control, which stuff you have to let go, and how many of the expectations in-between can be reasonably managed.

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192: Party City Trophies

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 21, 2014


TOPIC: Reinforcement, Aikido, and Fear This week, Dan and Merlin try to tackle positive versus negative reinforcement.

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191: Heisenberg Uncertainty Dog

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 14, 2014


TOPIC: People, amirite? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about neighbors, dogs, Macs, MLB.tv, and flavors of reinforcement.

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190: C-3PO's Beard

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 07, 2014


TOPIC: The Ultimate Existential Investor This week, Dan and Merlin vent about Apple as only its superfans really can. What happens when things…don't…just work?

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189: That's How You Roll When You're a Lobster

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 30, 2014


TOPIC: Starting the stuff we haven't started. This week—after some entertaining random talk and a handful of hardware and software recommendations—Dan and Merlin dive back into a familiar evergreen topic: why is it so hard to get started with a project? And, just as importantly, what can we learn from that persistent difficulty? In a nut? Just start trying to suck more regularly.

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188: The Smell of Snake Anxiety

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 23, 2014


TOPIC: Media, Rarely Well Done This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the modern consumer media landscape and how we seem to be changing almost as fast as the technology. Almost.

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187: Peeling a Dangerous Onion

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 16, 2014


TOPIC: Knowing What You'll Need to Know This week, Dan and Merlin talk about a recent presentation Merlin gave on expertise and curiosity. They also pour out a 40 for Macworld Magazine.

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186: I Wish John Siracusa Were Here

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 09, 2014


TOPIC: Grab bag. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about—what? Well. They talk about privilege, empathy, bikes, bass players, Merlin's new mic, more bathroom signs, and a controversial anecdote about how Apple was maybe kinda not nice to a customer.

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185: David Foster Wallace Morning

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 02, 2014


TOPIC: The Durable Impossibility of Email. This week, Dan and Merlin return to an evergreen topic: the impossibility of email. Chaotic, paradoxical, debilitating, frustrating, buoyant, and occasionally capable of causing short-term madness, email is still the medium that we'll never get right. But, quixotically, it never stops us from trying.

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184: Days of Bathrooms Past

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 26, 2014


TOPIC: Is there anything else you want to tell me? This week, Dan and Merlin discuss what bathrooms can teach us about learning, expertise, and empathy.

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183: Remember Who Has the Cannon

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 19, 2014


TOPIC: Wait, what'd I DO?!? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about anger, misunderstandings, and trying to do the right thing. How bewildering (and emotional) it can be to feel misunderstood—as well as trying to better understand what we may have done wrong. Emotions are armor-piercing bullets.

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182: Non-Canonical Suspenders

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 12, 2014


TOPIC: Thinking, Thinking, Thinking. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the inextricable links between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. They also take some time to fondly remember Robin Williams.

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181: A Broom Pusher for Johnny Carson

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Aug 06, 2014


While Merlin takes a short sabbatical, Dan is joined by special guest David Sparks to talk about presentations, making your thing, balancing acts, iBooks author, paying for your kids' school with side projects, old man glasses, and more.

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180: Deus Ex Machina for Your Gut

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 22, 2014


TOPIC: Stupid can't stick to me. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the distinction between being against something vs. not having an opinion about it vs. just choosing not to let the world stick to you.

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179: 7 Most Important Breasts for Your Re-Fi

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 15, 2014


TOPIC: A Personal History of Personal Publishing This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the constantly-changing landscape of online publishing. How we got from home pages to blogs to social media and beyond. Things move around, things get shorter (or longer), and things get super-weird and unpredictable. How do you decide where your stuff goes and who do you expect it to reach in this whackadoodle environment? You won't believe what happens next!

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178: Fake Laminated Bull Poop

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 08, 2014


TOPIC: Yes. Yes. This week, Dan and Merlin follow-up on their recent 5by5 at the Movies episode about Glengarry Glen Ross, talking more about sales culture, media consumption, how our personal data gets used to close us, and why Dan admires Ricky Roma. Or, Tony Roma, as you call him.

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177: Motivation Has Pit Stains

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 01, 2014


TOPIC: Motivation This week, Dan and Merlin talk about their upcoming 5by5 at the Movies episode on Glengarry Glen Ross, which segues naturally into a discussion of the many aspects of motivation. Carrots, sticks, bonuses, fear, status, and just growing up all shape our understanding of why we (and, yeah, others) do what we do. What happens when our motivation starts better accounting for how other people are motivated? Get them to sign on the line which is dotted.

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176: "ENJOY YOUR MEAL"

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 24, 2014


TOPIC: (Not) Solving People Problems With Technology. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenge of finding business workflows that…actually work. And, what happens if you try to fix a "people problem" with a technical solution. Also, detailed discussion on Wolverine's healing factor, gruesome hand-shaving, Florida's giant grasshoppers, dangerous bourbon foil, and varieties of elves. Come to Ungainly X-Mann Meetup #4 PSA: Hey, if you live in the Bay Area and you like comics and/or Merlin, please come out to Two Cats Comics on Thursday night and hang out with Merlin. [more »]

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175: Andy is the Stuff of Nightmares

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 10, 2014


TOPIC: "Creativity" where you din't expect it. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about PIXAR, creativity, and FoldingText before finally succumbing to the treachery of Skype.

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174: I Dont Deal in Abstractions

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Thu, Jun 05, 2014


TOPIC: Dan & Merlin in Fancy San Francisco This week, Dan and Merlin visit across a table in a darkened room to talk about WWDC, San Francisco's lesser-known features, and how to spend less time bogged down in day-to-day junk.

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173: The Best Days End in Tears

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 27, 2014


TOPIC: Culture is what we DO. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about processing a hotel room and leading by example.

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172: Somewhere Between a Habit and a River

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Thu, May 22, 2014


TOPIC: How to undig a river. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about an email message from a listener who's having trouble getting away from his inbox long enough to do what he needs to, introducing a mindfulness exercise that may help point to a deeper problem. (This is a good one)

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171: Put a Sweatshirt In My Wallet

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 13, 2014


TOPIC: It's like wallets and backpacks. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about H.R. Giger, Dan's latest Android experiment, more on app privacy, and why we need both wallets, backpacks, and suitcases. You know. Analogies.

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170: Useful, Creepy, Gross

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 06, 2014


Merlin and Dan talk about Marked, Drafts, MLKSHK shutting down, App.net, routers, Hong King Phoey, poisoned meatballs, and more.

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169: Upgrade Your Skateboard

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 29, 2014


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin talk about comiXology and the future of online digital purchases.

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168: It's Okay for Cats to Wander Around on Planes

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 22, 2014


TOPIC: Standing up to Attention Bullies. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the world's impossible expectations regarding each of our own time, attention, and access. What happens when we tacitly allow the universe to ask us anything any time for any reason? How do we develop the sympathy to understand how vastly our schedules and priorities differ at a given moment? Well. One possible solution is to learn to find the courage to not be terminally ""busy"" all the time. That's all on us.

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167: Second Banana

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 15, 2014


TOPIC: Ubi Sunt, LCS? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the uneasy future of local comic shops—especially in light of Amazon's announced acquisition of comiXology.

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166: 404 - Friends Not Found

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 08, 2014


TOPIC: The future we can't know. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about how quickly technology is evolving, how janky that evolution can be, and how terrible we all are at forecasting what will come next and beyond. Could Merlin have ever imagined he'd pay $3.00 for an episode of Under the Gunn? No, he could not.

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165: The Opposite of Attrition

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 01, 2014


TOPIC: Words mean things. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the blight of buzzwords, jargon, and douchespeak writ large.

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164: Back in the Medieval Village

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 25, 2014


TOPIC: Curiosity & Creativity This week, Dan and Merlin talk more about expertise and how it relates to the ineffable qualities of curiosity and creativity. Can curiosity be inspired or taught? Or, is it just something you either have or don't? How do we buck the implicit authority to explore the vast universe of "unnecessary things?"

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163: Head Lice :-(

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 18, 2014


TOPIC: LEGO and Expertise This week, Dan and Merlin talk about LEGO and what becoming a Master Builder can teach us about expertise. Also: tooth fairies, binder clips, and the pedagogical warning shot. WARNING: This episode of B2W contains information about holiday-related personalities that may be of a sensitive nature. Listener discretion is advised.

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162: We're All Waiting in the Same Line

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 11, 2014


TOPIC: ““Experiencing Issues”” with Customer Service This week, Dan and Merlin analyze what's really going wrong when we get bad customer service. Spoiler: The brand is only as sound as its day-to-day implementation.

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161: Zeitgeist Helmut

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 04, 2014


TOPIC: Time, Sleep, and Aspirations This week, Dan and Merlin talk about impossible trade-offs and the benefits of remembering this is actually your life.

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160: Reverse Spider Sense

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Feb 26, 2014


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about shaving, lights, and Dan's amazing new superpower.

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159: You Become Your Catch Phrases

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 18, 2014


Merlin and Dan talk about Library Elf, app launchers like Quicksilver and Alfred, Stanley Kubrick, pushing people to create greatness, not knowing what you like until you see it, the typefaces of Moon, and more.

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158: Merlin-Sized Hole

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 11, 2014


TOPIC: Why We Have Doors. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about internet nostalgia, hacking vs. whacking, and why we have doors for a reason.

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157: Non-Dominant Hand

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 04, 2014


TOPIC: The Spreadsheet of You This week, Dan and Merlin talk more about sleep and how self-quantization can goose your mindfulness.

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156: Not the Monk I Used to Be

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 28, 2014


TOPIC: Better Sleep Habits This week, Dan and Merlin do a deep dive on building better sleep habits with a focus on the paradoxes and planning of daily activities that can make all the difference.

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155: Newton's Fifth Law of Politeness

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 21, 2014


TOPIC: Isolation and Identity This week, Dan and Merlin talk about civility, identity, Florida, and how you can't unsee Idiocracy.

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154: Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 14, 2014


TOPIC: The Attention Stack This week, Dan and Merlin talk about—what?—maybe the attention stack. How what we pay attention to (and, yes spend our time on) can't help but affect how we see, think, feel, and decide. Not happy with any of those things? Start working your way down the stack.

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153: Anxiety's a Goat

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 07, 2014


TOPIC: The thoughts we think. And think. And think. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about anxiety, compulsive thoughts, and how to at least crack an air hole in a big problem. Way of the future.

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152: Tiny Hands, Large Desires

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 31, 2013


TOPIC: Consistency, Change, and Counting-Down This week, Dan and Merlin return to the evergreen topic of new year's resolutions. Remember: in the main, you are what you've already done a lot.

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151: The Christmas Pants

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 24, 2013


TOPIC: Christmas and Control This week, Dan and Merlin meander through holiday matters, including the Winter Warlock-like impotence of having your electric meter blow up on Christmas Eve Eve.

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150: Ask for John Klumpp

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 17, 2013


TOPIC: Enough. This week, Dan and Merlin meander around the meaning of, "enough," pondering the deep existential pit we dig for ourselves and maybe how to get out of it. Merry Christmas. Get your head out of your ass.

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149: Vixen Haler

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 10, 2013


TOPIC: Criticism and Its Discontents This week, Dan and Merlin talk about criticism, people who don't like you, and how much to let each have anything to do with the work you produce.

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148: Activity Seat

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 03, 2013


TOPIC: Gooseneck Options This week, with Dan re-sick and Merlin full of beans, the boys do a deep dive on hand washing, purpose-built bathroom activity gadgets, and the benefits of arming our children.

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147: Five-Dollar Murray

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 26, 2013


TOPIC: Perfectionism and Procrastination This week, Dan and Merlin talk about why the classic meanings of perfectionism mostly miss the mark; it's less about being scared to finish and more about being terrified to start.

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146: Phantom Bell Syndrome

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 19, 2013


TOPIC: Going Mobile-er. This week, Dan and Merlin are very sick, so they talk about being sick. Then, they talk about what it would take to move to using just an iPad Air on the road.

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145: Nine-Thousand Words of Holden Caulfield

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 12, 2013


TOPIC: Grab bag This week, Dan takes a minute to sit down with Merlin to talk about bathroom GIFs, Marvel movies, private school ejection, and a new interview with Merlin that is very very long.

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144: Habituate a Goat

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Nov 06, 2013


TOPIC: Perception and Perspective. In their second ever live, face-to-face episode, Dan and Merlin talk about goats, noise gate, and taking a step back for a better view of where you are.

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143: Chimpanzee Scallop Throwing

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 29, 2013


TOPIC: Preparation This week, Dan and Merlin talk about preparation.

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142: 86 Jam Pack

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 22, 2013


TOPIC: Traveling Like a Gentleman. This week, Dan and Merlin revisit the travails of air travel. How to prepare, how to survive--and how to be a better and more mindful person along the way. Also, some timely discussion of this morning's Apple product announcements.

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141: Counterclockwise. Like a Gentleman.

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 15, 2013


TOPIC: Learning the Wheres and Whens of Productivity This week, Dan and Merlin talk about learning from how you work to improve your basic productivity infrastructure, with specific attention to using Perspectives in OmniFocus. Whether it's consolidating shopping lists, eliminating task rot, or leveraging geolocation, there are innumerable tricks for lightly tweaking a system in powerful, non-fiddly ways. Also: learn Dan's Unified Field Theory of Grocery Shopping.

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140: Silicon Circus

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 08, 2013


TOPIC: Special Guest, Matt Alexander This week, Merlin is joined by Bionic co-host, Matt Alexander. They discuss ““technology ecosystems,”” life as a self-described trans-atlantic, tech scenes that thrive and don't, dating someone from Florida (and her Mum), and getting back into Marvel comics.

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139: Tap Your Meat Stack

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 01, 2013


TOPIC: Grab Bag, plus Tasks vs. Calendar Items This week Dan and Merlin administer an epic grab bag episode, chockablock with new app, book, podcast, and music suggestions. Also, a return to the evergreen topic of where stuff goes. How to decide whether a given thing goes on a calendar, a todo list, reference files, or an alarm. Great ninja stuff.

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138: Mindfulness...Whether I Want It or Not

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 24, 2013


TOPIC: Informal Background Self-Quantization This week Dan & Merlin discuss the merits of self-quantization. Which is fancy way of saying, "Merlin got a new Fitbit." Why is anecdotal self-reporting a sucker's bet? What are the benefits of making your life a little video game? And, why is Merlin's scale accessing APIs via the internet?

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137: Alice Two Arrows Bob

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 17, 2013


TOPIC: Etiquette, Intros, and Endorsements This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the surprisingly complicated topic of email introductions. Who emails whom? Who gets cc'd and for how long? How much homework are we making (or accepting)? And, thorniest of all, how do you ““introduce”” someone you'd reeeeeeally rather not introduce?

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136: Scared of Your Own Life

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Sep 11, 2013


TOPIC: Fear of Your Own TODO List This week, Dan and Merlin cover a topic suggested by listener, @jeff_nordstedt: not wanting to look at your todo list. From capture to completion, there are a million ways to fall off the path. The boys take a deep dive on what those ways might be as well as how to get yourself straightened out and, as you say, back to work. Honestly. It's why people hate TODO lists. Well. That and the odor.

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135: There's No "I" in Success

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 03, 2013


TOPIC: Joss Whedon GTD; Meeting Redux This week, Dan and Merlin talk about getting specific with your productivity and why every meeting needs an agenda. Now, take a drink.

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134: A Boss You Don't Even Know About

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 27, 2013


TOPIC: Talk Shows, Baseball, and Inboxes. This week, Dan and Merlin cover a range of topics related to expertise, experience, professional repetition, and management, culminating in a tour of Merlin's current email filtering strategy.

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133: I'm Glad Your Computer Died

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 20, 2013


TOPIC: How many keys do you really need? This week, Dan and Merlin return to the question, "What do you want ten times more of?" and weigh the risks and benefits of increasing the amount of complexity in your life.

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132: C+ Objective Stack

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 13, 2013


TOPIC: Fraud vs. Failure This week, Dan and Merlin dive into what makes us feel like frauds and what makes us feel like failures.

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131: The Peacock Dance of Men

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Aug 07, 2013


TOPIC: Power, Yelling, and Airport Kung Fu This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion of power and how it does or doesn't work. Do real leaders actually talk like the douchebags, serial entrepreneurs, and screamy travelers struggling to imitate them? Not really. That's one way you can tell they're leaders.

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130: Cobb Salad Lawyer

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 30, 2013


TOPIC: Delays This week, Dan and Merlin talk about delays, agency, power, and why yelling at people about your problems rarely helps anyone.

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129: Putting Your Meat by the Pool

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 23, 2013


TOPIC: Lists This week, Dan and Merlin talk about 3? kinds of lists that can change your game. Merlin knows a lot about Productivity.

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128: Eating Scones in the Closet

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Fri, Jul 19, 2013


TOPIC: Time Awareness & Scope Wormholes This week, Dan and Merlin talk about why we (and Frank) are terrible at estimating time, as well as what we can do to get better at it.

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127: Loki Situation

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 09, 2013


TOPIC: Employers, Bosses, Leaders, and Managers This week—in what may easily turn into a multi-episode arc—Dan and Merlin talk about bosses. Whether we're looking at it from up or down, management is tricky business. The question is, what makes a boss a good manager, and what makes a good manager a great leader?

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126: Howard Chicken

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Thu, Jul 04, 2013


TOPIC: How many Saturdays do you get? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about time. Its scarcity, its passing, its tyranny, and its possibilities.

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125: Hakuna Potato

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Fri, Jun 28, 2013


TOPIC: There are Only Two Prices: Free and What It Costs This week, Dan and Merlin return to the classic lineup and some classic topics, including knowing your value, learning what to charge, and realizing what you can live with. Also: jury duty, traveling, bathrooms, the sliding scale of suffering, and what-have you.

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124: The Tuesday Afternoon Version of Me

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Jun 24, 2013


TOPIC: The Chinese Symbol for 'Pants' Inside of The Chinese Symbol for 'Jury Duty.' This week, Dan's away, so Merlin goes solo, taking a break from jury duty to talk about the opportunities that can be hiding inside change, inconvenience, and tumult.

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123: I Want to See Your Face the Whole Time (LIVE)

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 11, 2013


TOPIC: First Meeting, Gifts, and Grifts This week—after 122 episodes, plus almost a decade of internet pal-dom—Dan and Merlin finally meet and record in a room together for the first time. With only passing nods to the nominal topic of "gifts," Dan and Merlin mostly get to know each other. Why is Dan staring so penetratingly at Merlin? Does Dan think Merlin is fat as well as old? Why does Dan keep looking at his phone? Does that look clean to you? Whose show is it, really? Is John Siracusa slender or sickly? Why can't I show you the sole of my shoe? Should we stand up? Who am I thinking of? Is it hot in here or is it just me? Which one am I? Also, bathrooms. Inarguably, a Very Important Episode™.

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122: The Crowbar of Loyalty

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 04, 2013


TOPIC: Loyalty, Altruism, Reality Check, or Extortion? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about what we talk about when we talk about "loyalty."

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121: I Just Had a Dog Delivered

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 28, 2013


TOPIC: Dan's Recent Bathroom Incident, et al. This week, Dan and Merlin exhale. Don't search for secret doors.

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120: Egg MacGuffin

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 21, 2013


TOPIC: What would you do differently if you had a "safety net?" This week, Dan and Merlin congratulate their pal, Marco, on the acquisition of a company he helped co-found. Which leads to the nominal topic: what kind of safety net would you need to feel secure, do the things you'd like, and mostly banish the more persistent cumulonimbus clouds of your own anxiety? Many angles are explored. Why was Elvis unhappy? How is habitual Schadenfreude and automatic bile ensmallening our culture? Can we ever be—let alone feel—truly secure? And, how much of our old selves do we end up lugging along inside every suitcase we carry? Pretty great episode. Especially if you like the ones where Merlin gets all mad. Those are usually good ones.

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119: Big Bag of Pandora's Potatoes

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 14, 2013


TOPIC: Macintosh Nostalgia and Utter Apple ID Madness. This week, after an entirely appropriate amount of very important follow-up, Dan and Merlin talk about Susan Kare's original Mac icons, why they're not going to be appearing on John Siracusa's t-shirt, plus the litany of completely monkeyballs problems that now has Merlin ready to literally shoot his Apple ID in the back of the head, mob-style.

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118: One-Step Corn Kerneler

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 07, 2013


TOPIC: Toward an (Admittedly Dubious) Unified Field Theory of Creativity This week, Dan and Merlin consider a framework for understanding the basic modes and focal lengths involved in producing creative work. Why and how do we get so hung up and frustrated about getting good at what we do? Why's it so hard to take an abstract idea for making something great, then end up feeling pathologically stymied when we struggle to actually make it? The boys return to the classic topic of expertise, especially the frustrating ironies that separate the pro from the amateur from the, as they say, "failure." Also under consideration is Roger Von Oech's fascinating modal, character-based approach to making stuff—acknowledging the very different work of the Explorer, Artist, Judge, and Warrior. But, critically, also striving to keep those characters in the right order and on the right parts of the right task at the right time. Then, knowing when to change things up. Finally, there's a bit of discussion on Merlin's squirrely obsession with focal length—to not only choose the right mode at the right time, but to stay open to the idea of alternately zooming way out and way in at each step of the process. Accepting the benefits and trade-offs of switching between your macro and fish-eye lenses. It's a really good episode—at least way better than it sounds. And, the hosts agree that, until you find a better model for understanding How to Make Stuff, you could do a lot worse than giving this admittedly Byzantine method a spin for yourself.

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117: The Flu Shots of Siracusa County

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 30, 2013


TOPIC: Offices, and when to get out of them. This week—in what will surely be remembered as the greatest Back to Work episode of all time—Dan and Merlin eventually talk about working at a desk and when to take it someplace else.

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116: Beagle Removal Service

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Apr 29, 2013


TOPIC: Quit & Analyze, and Marvel Character Speculation. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's "Quit & Analyze" episode, then proceed into a very useful conversation about which characters from the Marvel Universe they're each most like.

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115: Invitation to a Blame Party

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Fri, Apr 26, 2013


TOPIC: Fixing the Culture of Meetings This week, Dan and Merlin address the problems with meetings, and how we can each choose to improve them. Ten quick ideas? Purpose Agenda Grazing Policy Hard Edges Scheduling Guests Timekeeper No Ratholes Focus Follow-Up Consistency

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114: I'm Moving to FudgePacker

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Apr 17, 2013


TOPIC: Quicksilver and the OS X App Launcher Landscape This week, Dan triumphantly returns from two weeks of crippling illness. So, the boys ease their way back into the groove with a grab bag of great follow-up, some Adventure Time talk, and a longer discussion of popular OS X App launchers, including Quicksilver 1.0, LaunchBar, and Alfred 2.

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113: Entropy's Gonna Do Its Business

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 02, 2013


TOPIC: Drafts for iOS, and Who You Want to Be This week, Dan and Merlin cover two very different topics. First, there's a detailed discussion of one of Merlin's favorite iOS apps, Drafts, including a deep dive on the app's extraordinary interactions with everything from Twitter to calendars to Dropbox. Second, Dan and Merlin have an A-plus conversation on the hardest question you’ll ask yourself this week: “Is this who I want to be?”

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112: Touching Pizza and Robotron

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 26, 2013


TOPIC: Choosing Your Forks. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about some of the deeper and more slippery issues behind changes in our career and life. In particular, how do we go from a vague tickle to that feeling of full-blown intolerability that can end up driving a change? Are we looking backward at what we should be doing as we slavishly catalog our many petty aggrievements? Or, do we take two giant steps back and apply a cooler eye to what we really want to do next? Even before we find our forks in the road, how can we know a big decision might or should be coming our way? And, how do we stay current on that never-ending need to accept and plan for the changes we never could have anticipated? It's tough at 23, it's super-hard at 30, and, brother, is it ever murder at 50. Sure, it's a little fruity, but, yeah: you need to write the story you really want to live. Rather than just cobbling together a flattering post-mortem on how you magically ended up where you are.

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111: You Get There Early for Pancake Day

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 19, 2013


TOPIC: Memory. This week, Dan and Merlin try to tackle the complexities of memory. Why do we remember things from childhood with unimpeachable detail, but then forget our own phone number or PIN code? How can the same person remember the name of everyone he's ever met, and then space a phone call a couple hours after it was scheduled? Why do we remember and why do we forget? Unsurprisingly, few concrete answers appear, but there's plenty of lively conversation on savant syndrome, tactical memory aides, and the precise location of Merlin's pills.

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110: Okay, Then.

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 12, 2013


TOPIC: Stupidity. This week, Dan and Merlin tackle stupidity. And, brother, there sure are a whole lot of flavors of stupid. Are we really talking about being clueless, unaware, dumb, absent-minded, or just plain-old ignorant? Because they're actually pretty different animals. Whether you're dropping your library book in the mailbox, leaving your iPad at home, following baseless medical advice, or doing whatever Dan did with his garage door (don't worry: the car is fine), it's really helpful to understand where your real problem really lives. From a tactical standpoint, try some useful failsafes, rituals, and habits. But, at a higher level, learn to develop the curiosity to keep evolving. Stay open to how you might be wrong by always seeking out the smartest person you can find who disagrees with you.

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109: Two Paragraphs on Bourbon

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 05, 2013


TOPIC: Not So Much This week, Dan and Merlin eschew ““topic”” to freely discuss razors, beef, They Might Be Giants, prolapse, Genesis, dogs, Spider-Man (and -Womyn), pretender marteenies, truck butt, the lonely plaster casts of our youth, blind harmonicists, those awesome blue IKEA bags, ceviche, E.L.O., Goldenberg's Peanut Chews, bumping, hypoglycemia, how Merlin named his daughter, Hyman Roth, endive, and, of course, The Big Lebowski. Then, they go and blow it all by unintentionally having a really useful discussion about Merlin's three key elements of optimal and sustainable workflows.

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108: What Can I Spray?

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 26, 2013


TOPIC: Shaving a Yak This week, Dan and Merlin talk about The Hierarchy of Fiddling. When does self-improvement silently shade into navel-gazing, and how do we realize that it's happening? Some fixes mean applying a fast change that produces outsized results (a true "life hack"). But, most of our more circuitous excursions into the world of ““productivity”” lead straight into a recursive black hole of lost time, sheer frustration, and soul-sucking existential onanism (let's call that one a "life whack"). Learn how to live with your dirty debit card, just satisfice with your dish-washing skills, and quit trying to solve non-problems with non-solutions. Yes, learn the key commands, but, don't feel like you need to learn all the key commands. Iterate with mindful sanity. And, like it says on the tin: always focus on how you'll get back to work.

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107: Pull Out Your Dingus

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Feb 20, 2013


TOPIC: Compression This week, Dan and Merlin talk about compression. What happens when we don't account for how long something really takes to do? And, worse still, what if we don't think about what has to happen before we can even start it? If you find you're stressed-out, over-scheduled, under-resourced—and not particularly loving the things you're making—there's a pretty good chance you've become a victim of your own compression. Acknowledge and understand the problem, and then learn how to avoid the classic pitfalls by falling in love with your calendar all over again.

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106: Enough Candy to Last Forever

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 12, 2013


TOPIC: Duplicates, duplicates, duplicates. This week, Dan and Merlin conclude their discussion of media management by focusing on dealing with duplicates. Just so many duplicates. Music, Photos, Contacts, and Finder files. It's all thorny business, but a canny combination of backup, cool apps, and paranoid discretion can make your digital life more manageable and fun. Also, some handy tips on sharing files, hosting media, and finding a digital home for your comic collection.

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105: Fissures of Men

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 05, 2013


TOPIC: Cool stuff Merlin loves. This week, Merlin is delirious and may be in a fugue state, so he and Dan talk about a bunch of cool apps and gadgets--stuff that Merlin likes and really recommends. Special attention goes to Drafts for iOS, the Logitech K760 Bluetooth keyboard, Verbatim's Tuff 'n Tiny USB drive, Cortex Camera for iOS, Cobook Address Book, with many more suggestions along the way, including handy tips based on how Merlin uses each.

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104: Grab Your Revolver

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 29, 2013


TOPIC: Modern Media Management: Metadata and Smart Playlists This week Dan and Merlin continue their 3-part series on Modern Media Management: handling your iTunes Library, iOS Devices, and iTunes Match without making yourself crazy. In this episode, the focus is on fixing audio metadata, with a big discussion of the awesome MusicBrainz and Picard.

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103: Lotta Little Knives

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Jan 23, 2013


TOPIC: Modern Media Management: iTunes Match This week Dan and Merlin begin a 3-part series on Modern Media Management: handling your iTunes Library, iOS Devices, and iTunes Match without making yourself crazy. In this episode, they cover setting up and using iTunes Match, being safe and paranoid, what to do after you get the iTunes ping, some smart playlists that will help you exclude kwanzaa music, find stuff you don't want to listen to, and maintain your sanity. Next episode they'll discuss wrangling metadata and smart playlists. Then in the last episode of the series, they'll cover managing the libraries on your devices and some grab bag stuff.

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102: Hunter Ready to Write

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 15, 2013


TOPIC: Creative Costumes vs. Pushing Out Product This week Dan and Merlin talk about how the legends and mythologies around creative people and beautiful losers can become such a destructive MacGuffin for us aspiring civilians. Getting gakked out on Hunter S. Thompson's cocaine and buying Sylvia Plath's oven are unlikely to take you anyplace useful, interesting, or…creative. Also: "BRIANMICHAELBENDIS!"

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101: Sprinting Straight Into a Wall

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 08, 2013


TOPIC: Those New Years When We're Not Actually Resolved. This week, Merlin and Dan step back from resolutions and shooting yourself in the face with a wrist rocket to talk about what you're actually trying to change. You're failing and feeling bad and eating a whole bag of cookies because you're resolving to be someone you're not (yet). What are you really trying to address? Are you being honest with yourself? Where do you actually start? Find the real reasons, build a real infrastructure, and build yourself a real habit.

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100: Go Ahead, Caller.

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Thu, Jan 03, 2013


TOPIC: Yes. The caller is there. This week, in celebration of their hundredth episode, Dan and Merlin do the first call-in episode of Back to Work. A bevy of the beloved jackals and nerds ask questions about GTD, creative autonomy, sleep and energy, interpersonal work communications, moving up at work, self-publishing, finding your rabbi, Marines, X-Men, and more.

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99: Nobody Wants to Live in a Scaffolding

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Sat, Dec 22, 2012


TOPIC: Troubleshooting for Saner GTD This week, Dan and Merlin wrap up their epic summer crossover series on David Allen's book Getting Things Done, focusing on the trouble spots, hang-ups, and occasional rat holes that people often encounter in implementing and maintaining their GTD system.

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98: Bagged and Boarded

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 18, 2012


TOPIC: Working Getting Things Done to stay current, complete, and creative. This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion of David Allen's Getting Things Done system. Learning how to leverage GTD's modality to firewall time for guilt-free creative work.

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97: Pope of the Office

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 11, 2012


TOPIC: Using GTD to sanely and intelligently decide what to do, and when, and where. This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion of David Allen's Getting Things Done system. Hopping over the basic workflow and setup (you'll definitely need the book for that), this is all about doing—leveraging the horizontal and vertical axes of GTD to intuitively choose exactly the right task at any given moment. Regardless of interruptions, regardless of unexpected change, and regardless of what you're mindfully not doing. David Allen calls GTD, "The Art of Stress-Free Productivity," and this is the episode where you'll find out how having put this system in place can yield astronomical improvements in how your actual things get done. Also included: a teaser for January's "iTunes management" series, plus recommendations for the three best comic series Merlin read this week.

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96: Compensatory Muscles

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 04, 2012


TOPIC: A Better System for Dealing with Life's "Stuff" This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion of David Allen's book, Getting Things Done.

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95: She's Five for a Living

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 27, 2012


TOPIC: Intro to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” This week, Dan and Merlin start a long-overdue three-part storyline on David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done.[1] How do you unwad that giant crapball of stuff you call a life? The answer is simple, but it’s not so easy. You need a trusted system in which to collect, process, review, and—yes—do all the things that matter. Getting Things Done is inarguably one of the best and most influential self-help books of all time for a good reason: it’s a candid, realistic, and painfully honest way to get out of your hole, and then stay out. This week, we start with the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of GTD, as well as the myriad and thorny problems it can help you address. So, pick up your own copy of GTD, read it through, then join us for a detailed tour of the system that changed Merlin’s game and helped jumpstart his online career. ©DavidCo, 2001.  ↩

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94: A False Sun

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 20, 2012


TOPIC: How to be a proper list-maker This week, Dan and Merlin discuss the pros and cons of lighting your environment properly, how we fall into bad list making habits and how to solve these issues. Also, Merlin makes some sounds for your enjoyment.

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93: 67 Points of Articulation

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 13, 2012


TOPIC: Florida, Education, and Peaking This week, Dan and Merlin continue their purging personal odyssey through the state of Florida. Isolation, education, and a parting admonition not to throw your cap in the air. Also, for the comic nerds, Merlin recommends checking out the exciting new stuff happening with "Marvel NOW!"

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92: The Florida Episode

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Nov 07, 2012


TOPIC: Florida. Hinted at since Episode 1—and repeatedly threatened nearly every week since—here, at last: The Florida Episode. The heat, the driving, the isolation, the driving, the white driveways, the early-bird specials, the menacing parking-lot violence, the driving, the people, the stop lights, the gates, the urology clinics, the driving, the short pants, the driving, and much MUCH more. In part one of what will surely be an epic, multi-episode arc, Dan and Merlin finally start coming to terms with their undistinguished youths in the Sunshine State.

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91: Compiling Stallman From Source

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 30, 2012


TOPIC: The tech you want, and the tech you can live with. On our second Last Show Ever™, Merlin and Dan talk about parenting, Gatsby hats, note taking and sharing, the Techno-Organic virus, and more.

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90: Quit!™

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 23, 2012


TOPIC: Sleep and How to Get It This week, Dan and Merlin talk about sleep—why we need it, why most of us don't get enough of it, and why we all strain to find a million excuses for perpetually walking around like a sad zombie. Chock-a-block with painful personal anecdotes, horrible cautionary tales, and scary hand-waving about Recent Medical Science, your hosts make their best case for taking your own sleep more seriously. Now. Also, loaded with tips on how to sleep better, with a heavy emphasis on a wonderful iOS app called, "Sleep Cycle." Pretty good for our last episode. (Guys, we were kidding! KIDDING!)

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89: Burlap Sack Full of Oranges

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 16, 2012


TOPIC: Programming Your Kid's Danger Room. This week, Dan and Merlin discuss the parenthood racket: the advice and expectations, the doubt and the fear, the assessment, the concentric circles, the snow cones. Parenting means programming a Danger Room that teaches you and the kid to handle the hovering, the hitting, the losing, and the play structure.

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88: So Many Reasons to Cry

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 09, 2012


TOPIC: Finding Grit. This week, Dan and Merlin return to a popular topic from last week: grit. Why is it we stick with some things but totally abandon so many others? Why'd Merlin give up on learning "Little Brown Jug" on the trombone, then double-down on nailing "Pinball Wizard" on guitar? How come Dan got so good at programming, but can't kick a damned football to save his life? Is there a framework for understanding why we remember hit points, don't travel, can't draw, and forget why every good boy deserves fudge? Along the way, Merlin accidentally—grudgingly—reveals that he actually knows things about sportsball, Dan breaks down the exhilarating rewards of immediate feedback, and both hosts wonder how Mariano Rivera can keep his cool after giving up a two-run homer. Also, there's a pseudo-interesting rathole on why Merlin may or may not start spending more time with App.net.

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87: Nothing to Declare But My Coconuts

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 02, 2012


TOPIC: Grit, Confidence, and Intuition. This week, Dan and Merlin begin a conversation on what researchers and educators are learning about why students of all ages do or don't succeed. Yes, it's about intelligence and other cognitive skills, but it's also about tenacity, courage, self-restraint, and resolve. It's really about grit. See our show notes for lots of links to the stuff that inspired our topic, but definitely tune in for Merlin's slight addendum to the formula: mixing in our growing confidence in our own intuition.

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86: The Talmud of Claremont

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 25, 2012


TOPIC: Anxious about the Change This week Merlin updates Dan about his schedule changes. They're going to come, but it's probably the anxiety, not the change, that is the problem. Take heart, it may be the change that you need. While you're at it, take the opportunity to plan your buffers and ramp up times. Your schedule will work better, your vacation may be less stressful, your pie will stay alive. Bonus: Dan and Merlin's comic book recommendations for new readers.

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85: Schr?dinger's Soap Holder

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 18, 2012


TOPIC: One Operational Paper Towel; One Safety Paper Towel. This week, Dan and Merlin discuss how to use a public restroom. There's some other stuff, too. But, yeah. Mostly Dan and Merlin discuss how to use a public restroom.

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84: Every Genie is an Actuary

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 11, 2012


TOPIC: Superpowers, Madness, and the Pursuit of Interesting Problems Dan and Merlin talk about the superpowers you have and can't control as well as the demons and drivers that our heroes have and can't control. How sometimes we find ourselves craving the screaming in someone else's head. Because, we surely do love and revere our Beautiful Losers and Genius Lunatics. Entered into evidence: Hunter S. Thompson, The Incredible Hulk, Sylvia Plath, Brian Wilson, Nightcrawler, Van Gogh, Syd Barrett, Tom Waits, Robert Lowell, Howard Hughes, and Corporate Stooges (n.b.: Dan said that; not Merlin). The upshot? Try not to get too obsessed with someone else's ether in the convertible or, for that matter, the cake in your own conference room. Get excited about constantly releasing that "better version of yourself"—and make the world a happy beneficiary of your own particular madness.

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83: Way of the Future

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 04, 2012


TOPIC: Obsessions, Compulsions, Obsessions, and Compulsions. Also, Obsessions—and Compulsions. This week, Dan and Merlin lick the doorknob five times, tap their heads with their shoes, and ponder the problem of obsessions and compulsions.

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82: Blue Food in Your Refrigerator

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Aug 27, 2012


TOPIC: Capture, Contracts, and Mapping the Territory. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about keeping an honest calendar and ensuring you regularly review your "contracts" with yourself. Chock-a-block with practical COM-ponents for making sure your map is up to date with the territory. ?Spanish question marks? ?Si! Zibba-zabba! Fax my gal!

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81: LAMP for Your Productivity

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Aug 20, 2012


TOPIC: Honesty and Sociopathy Go to Work Merlin and Dan talk about the cultural divide between you and your work. Coping with work is a little like being a sociopath so you better make sure you're taking away the right lessons and being honest about the right things. Anything else is a little dishonest. You don't need to quit your job, but you made want to at least resign your certainty. Nice!™

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80: Cascading Wave of Bad

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Aug 13, 2012


TOPIC: Kicking and Screaming Merlin has been dragged kicking and screaming into at least two things this week. Sometimes, that works out, and sometimes it doesn't. But, how many of those things do we need? How many can you sign up for? How often do you see Beast coming down the hall? There aren't that many things you have to do, but how can you see it coming? Well, you know where your cumin is and you haven't checked your MySpace this week. How's that for complicated?

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79: Mayor Pro Tem of Hoboville

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Aug 06, 2012


TOPIC: Adapting to the Danger Room of Life Dan and Merlin talk about how the protagonist of your story handles change in personal and work environments. How do you respond in the face of change you haven't anticipated or isn't conducive to who you want to be? What is the worst that could happen? Who can help you except you?

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78: Scream, Poop, and Run

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Jul 30, 2012


TOPIC: Gut Churn, Pointing Arrows, and Recognizing Change This week, Dan and Merlin talk at length about a recent article by Radiolab's Jad Abumrad, called, "The Terrors & Occasional Virtues of Not Knowing What You’re Doing." From the genesis of Radiolab through casting about for what comes next, Jad's article reads like a Greatest Hits of Back to Work. Just terrific. It all comes down to working through the times you don't know what you're doing and making, then accepting that—even once you do know—you still have to push through change and evolution. Working through the fear to make something awesome? Well. That's Fine for Jad Abumrad.

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77: Sadness Harmonica

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Jul 23, 2012


TOPIC: Motivation, Hardware Stores, and Fighting the Last War This week, Dan and Merlin talk about motivation—how it changes, how it doesn't, and how it can be fueled by anxiety and cognitive dissonance. There is also discussion of Merlin's pear tart problem, the challenge of the engineering triangle, and, yeah, a new t-shirt That's Fine for Merlin.

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76: The Avatar of Dorian Gray

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Jul 16, 2012


TOPICS: Better Meat & Working Backwards This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the many strategic and tactical benefits of reverse-engineering your next project. There is also extensive discussion of choosing, preparing, and cooking meat. It's not food until is sounds like food and it smells like food.

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75: The Mayor of Perspective

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Jul 09, 2012


TOPIC: Feeling Stuck in the Middle This week, Dan and Merlin talk about a topic suggested by listener, @toddsandends: what happens when you're stuck enforcing rules you don't agree with? Whether you're a security guard, an RA, a SysAdmin, a character on The Wire, or pretty much anybody else, sometimes there's just stuff you gotta do. Even when you think it's a terrible idea. So, who's allowed to corrupt you, what's it worth, and how long is that going to be okay with you? As ever, work is a lot of work.

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74: Cheap Liberal Arts Relativism

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Jul 02, 2012


TOPIC: How Much Honesty Can We Stand? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about how ridiculously complex "Honesty" can be. Do "Candor," "Transparency," "Frankness," and all those other Capital Letter Nouns mean the same thing?

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73: Permission to Unclench

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Jun 25, 2012


TOPIC: Aspects of Letting Go This week, Dan and Merlin talk about two very different viewports into doing what you want to do and being who you want to be. There's the non-fiddly value you earn from getting junk out of your head and into a place you trust (in this instance, OmniFocus location-based contexts). Then, there's the "what the cuss?" situation faced by listener, "Evan," who's struggling with a work conundrum that's hard on the office freezer and his feelings. How do you move toward doing the right thing in the face of a lot of wrong? And, how do you take care of the piddly crap that's made your brain such a messy white board? Also, there's our new t-shirts, some boot scoots, lots of tickles, plus, that total tool who pushed Shlomo out. Don't even get Merlin started. Literally.

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72: Rocky Balboa Moment

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Jun 18, 2012


TOPIC: Confidence, Courage, and the Problem with Thinking This week, Dan and Merlin talk about why we may or may not feel confident to do stuff. How do other people seem to get it so easily, and where do they find the courage? Well. You walk through The Forum, you check the mics, and you never let thinking get in your way. Too much thinking? UNACCEPTABLE! Dungeon. Seven years. No trials.

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71: Sorry to Lose You as a Son

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Jun 11, 2012


TOPIC: The Problem with Passive-Aggression. If that's okay with you. This week, Dan and Merlin apologize if they've made you unhappy with an episode about passive-aggressiveness, wussy non-communication, and non-apology apologies. But, maybe, that'll just have to be okay with them. But, could you PLEASE take your tuna out of the fridge, pick up after your dog, make more coffee, change the toilet paper roll, and help with taking trash to the curb? Thank You In Advance For Your Cooperation! — The Management

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70: Expectation Zero

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 05, 2012


TOPIC: Recalibrating Expectations This week, Dan and Merlin talk more about struggling with expectations. Everybody's expectations. Including yours. Why it's worth recalibrating your own expectations, managing others' expectations, and accepting the impossibility of knowing—let alone meeting—the expectations of the entire world. Because, that's monkeyballs. We also learn that Merlin likes his buttons touched very gently.

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69: Seven Dwarfs of Bad Emotion

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 29, 2012


TOPIC: Boogers and Expectations Are you making perfect reports when your boss just wants them on time? Are you making cr?me br?l?e when you should be jumping in a trench? Are wangs and boogers causing problems at work? This week, Dan and Merlin talk more about expectations – whether you're willing to or not – and the risks of expectations of partners, bosses, and kids. How can you handle expectations? There aren't a lot of easy answers. As you'd probably expect.

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68: The Black Queen is Killing Me

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, May 21, 2012


TOPIC: Incentive, Inspiration, and Motivation This week, Dan and Merlin are inspired to talk about the incentive and the motivation to make something. Inspiration is marketed as something you're missing, but it has a short expiration date, and if you're more scared than uninspired then it doesn't matter how many pieces of candy you're offered. And what do you do if selling bottled water cozies affects your intrinsic motivation to make them? Well. It's complicated. As usual.

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67: Ad Hoc Bra

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 15, 2012


TOPIC: Trying On The Change This week, Dan and Merlin (who might not have mentioned he didn't sleep much) discuss the balance between placing nickel bets versus going all-in—or at least thinking all-in. You might be talking yourself into stasis or change, but if you don't really try it on first, you may find out the techno and combat boots are nothing compared to living under incontinent grackles.

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66: Horseradish on My Raccoon

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, May 07, 2012


TOPIC: The Pete Campbell Problem Ever notice how you never really "arrive?" Or, have you ever noticed that right when you think you've "arrived," you don't stay arrived for very long—but now have a whole big bunch of new stuff to do? Yeah, us too. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about expectations, the wrong kinds of ambition, and the unquenchable lust for prestige and respect. Good practitioners practice, great leaders lead, and crummy managers just get their fingers all brown from digging around in your chocolate bag. How to see yourself more as your team does—and less as That Guy who deserves more everything. Because there will always be more "everything."

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65: A Light Dusting of Life

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Thu, May 03, 2012


TOPIC: Stressing Out About Stress Dan and Merlin talk about what happens when stress meets stress, anxiety feeds anxiety, and 10 guys maybe try to jump you in the woods. Which kinds of stress are simply unavoidable? Which ones are addictive? Which ones can be tolerated? And, yes, which kinds of stresses can be vanquished by firing your boss?

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64: Frozen Poster

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Apr 23, 2012


TOPIC: The Surprising Problems of "Doing What You Love" Merlin has some follow up on Agency: be in control of what you give away and why you charge what you charge, and Dan is interested in what happens when you stop loving what you love when you do it as a job. There are no guarantees, so don't mistake the Federalist Papers for Constitutional Law, and if you miss the signs you shouldn't be sailing, you'll just end up vomiting in your bucket hat. You're not going suddenly arrive and do what you love. You get there through course correction: look back at all the ugly birdhouses and look ahead for the next step toward building a home.

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63: Bold with the Scissors

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Apr 16, 2012


TOPIC: Agency, Independence, and Outing Your Makebelieve "Partners." Dan and Merlin return to the topic of agency. Who's allowed to speak and act on your behalf? And, what happens when you discover people who've unilaterally decided by fiat to speak and act on your behalf? Well. If your work (and your business) matters to you, you tell them to knock it off. How to reclaim your own stuff, set your own terms, and fire all the non-silent non-partners of the lucrative Free Compliment Industry.

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62: Cultural Molasses

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Apr 09, 2012


TOPIC: Karmasucks, No-Sayers, and Black and White Thinking Dan and Merlin consider the karmasucks and black and white thinking that lead to inertia and a culture of derision. Anyone can laugh at an agenda, and it only takes one turd in the punchbowl to ruin the party, so don't ask permission, ask yes or no questions, and keep your judge behind your explorer.

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61: I Handed Him My Luke

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Apr 02, 2012


Dan and Merlin talk about Dancing Han Solo, going to college in Florida, and developing smarter patterns for Getting Things Diaried. Whether you're calling collect, person-to-person, or station-to-station, it's time to get serious, get realistic, and just get it on the calendar. Send the invite, work those Telephone Thursdays, and make that call E6W ("Every 6 Weeks"). Pick the system that supports your intentions. Then use it.

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60: Living Inside an Unfinished Thing

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Mar 26, 2012


Dan and Merlin consider how to rethink your work as a platform. It's not just a job, or just a career, or (God forbid) just a brand--it's about deciding when you need to take your time and attention pro. How the stuff you've made and done can be leveraged into the next things you'd like to make and do; how to find the orthogonal angles and unexpected branches; how to learn what you need to learn; and how to take your work so seriously that you'll dare a quick dip in the douche pool.

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59: Brains All the Way Down

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Mar 19, 2012


This week, Dan and Merlin tackle the problem of changing cultures at work. It's not a snapshot, it's not a kitchen table, and it may actually have surprisingly little to do with you. Which is complicated.

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58: Girl with the QR Tattoo

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Mar 12, 2012


TOPIC: Changing Inputs Dan turns Merlin's technical difficulties into a discussion of discovering and paying attention to things that have a high ROI. It's not about who you think you are, or the latest and loudest thing. You'll miss something even if you follow 1000 blogs, so remember who you really are. La pregunta: ?Que hacer?

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57: Start with Anger, End with a Sign

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Mon, Mar 05, 2012


Merlin and Dan talk about successful lawn care secrets and getting angry over dog poop, paper towels, duck crossings, and the Dark Side. No one ever saw the error of their ways because they saw a note from Management. Instead of counting piles and grabbing coals, maybe act a little more like Mr. Rogers.

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56: One Giant Beholder Dinosaur

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 28, 2012


TOPIC: The Cost of Clutter Merlin and Dan talk about your attachment to old coffee cups, Captain America glasses, and Grandma's underwear cabinet—all the physical (and emotional) clutter that keeps you from making the things you love and having the life you want. The Kipple. See: it's not a red snapper problem, it's an emotional problem. So, quit being scared of your fridge, or your inbox, or your todo list. Just suck it up, buy some contractor bags, and never organize another thing that's not worth keeping.

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55: The Pickles Never Touch

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 21, 2012


TOPIC: Agency, Dignity, and Why We Work.  This week Dan and Merlin ponder why there's so much variability in the quality of our work.  Whether we're making code, scrubbing toilets, or stinking up the Arby's, what explains our individual drive to do something better?

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54: Freemium Mason

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Thu, Feb 16, 2012


TOPIC: Grit and Care and Sacrifice Merlin and Dan talk about returning to paleo, the nature of wieners and discouragement, crown vic habits and anxiety addiction. You won't beat it without a cocktail of grit and care with just the right amount of sacrifice.

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53: The Wages of Security

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 07, 2012


In the most average episode ever, Merlin and Dan talk physical and digital work environments so you can get going in the right direction and don't have to spend all day on it. And, when do you know you don't want 10 times more of something and what do you do about it? There's no guarantee of security, even if you show up sober, so start acting like an entrepreneur and choose what you want 10 times more of.

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52: Walk the Coastline, Bitches

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 31, 2012


TOPIC: The Hidden Cost is the True Cost Merlin is back from MacWorldPipeiWorld to talk with Dan about the True Cost of iceberg lettuce, an anchor tenant, 20 minutes of your time, and how much of your life you're going to eat sand. You don't have a TARDIS to make it back to pick up your kid or make it to Built to Spill so walk the coastline.

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51: Living Inside the Nonsense

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 24, 2012


TOPIC: Slipping on Dates, Sliding on Days Merlin and Dan talk about managing projects, scheduling calls, and being home when you scheduled a party. It SEEMS SO SIMPLE but then Jeannie has to go to Guam and slipping is your SOP. The way out of this quagmire is to admit you can't get out of it. You can't change a culture of slipping with a poster or a fairy princess. You have to fix the slides if you want to fix the slips.

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50: The Pork Soup Paradox

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Jan 18, 2012


TOPIC: What to do if you fear a layoff.

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49: The Field of Completion

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 10, 2012




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48: An Abrupt Existential Jerk

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Jan 04, 2012


TOPIC: How habits get made.  Dan and Merlin are back for 2012 to discuss how habits are like little hairs or inertia or homeostasis or something. How we build habits, how they get built for us, and what we can learn about habits from making our daily coffee.

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47: Utter Failure & Hotel Steak

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Dec 28, 2011


TOPIC: Resolving to skip the New Year's resolutions.

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46: Not Counting the Mezzanine

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 20, 2011


Topic: The Meta-Distractions of "Minimalism" This week, Merlin and Dan get all "Zen" about bias and minimalism. Your background won't get any blacker, so stop burning cycles arguing on the internet or worrying about what other people think or how minimal you are. It's not about the bird skeletons, lion skins or barefoot girls. Unless that's what works. Just make sure it _really_ works. 

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45: Finagling the Tree Bag

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Dec 13, 2011


Topic: The Narcissism of Small Differences

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44: Circuitous Bridge of My Own Design

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Dec 07, 2011


Topic: Moving from dumb nouns to awesome verbs.

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43: I Return Null

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Nov 30, 2011


Topic: Asking questions in order to find better questions This week, Dan and Merlin pick up their discussion of asking better questions and how sometimes the point of asking a question isn't to get an answer, but to get another, even better question. How do you do this? Blundell Chains, hypotheses, the clackity noise, and iteration.

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42: Coconut Headphones

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 22, 2011


This week Dan and Merlin talk about asking good questions instead of massaging your real problem until it fits the comforting solution you found on the cover of a magazine.

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41: Carpal Tunnel Diem

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Nov 16, 2011


Dan and Merlin talk more about why we get stuck and how might re-think getting "unstuck." Looking at process over product, remembering how you got here, and getting clear about what you're really trying to make. Merlin also has some updates and tips for your iTunes Matching and your Google searching.

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40: Dirty South Is Off the Menu

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Nov 09, 2011


Dan and Merlin talk about what it means for Google to change the meaning of "plus," and how it might bolster the production of "stuff and needy." They also consider options for "getting unstuck" with a creative project—how, sometimes, the constraints can help a lot more than the options.

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39: A Source of Rice with Velocity

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Nov 01, 2011


On strength and tolerance. Dan and Merlin talk about the many facets of strength, including the complexity of knowing what to be strong about, to whom, and when. It's about way more than nailing the "clean and jerk" or yelling at Sips-His-Coffee-Really-Loud Guy. It's also about accepting all the things they just can't stand about you. Also covered: the inescapability of Italian disco, maintaining an unassailable lawn, confronting skinny ladies in heels, negotiating D-minus hip-hop, and finding the will to spelunk all the way down the personal productivity stack.?

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38: Sorry. You Can't Have a Candle.

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 25, 2011


On improving presentation culture. Dan and Merlin talk about bombing the deck, advancing the slides, and striving to improve the self-perpetuating bad culture of presentations. Slide?!? (Also, kid germs in the spaghetti, meeting the angry corn guy, and moving closer to the metal with our Showbot hero.)

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37: It's Never Not Everywhere

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Oct 18, 2011


This week, Merlin loves and hates iCloud while loving and REALLY loving Dropbox. He and Dan observe angry corn, discuss emailing files to yourself, wonder what to do with an ugly photo, and explore Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle.

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36: Writing on the Wind

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Oct 12, 2011


Merlin Mann talks with Dan Benjamin about his dogged obsession with the flexibility of index cards—for propping up tables, giving very small cuts, and getting babies hygienically removed. Then, there is much talk of graphing your focal length against your time and attention.

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35: Why My Pants Were On Fire

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 27, 2011


How to handle job interviews. Merlin and Dan can't solve the problem of interviews being dumb, but Merlin will tell you what is wrong with you, how long you'll have to wait for your resume to get you a job, how Larry Wall interviews for a Perl job, and whether or not the answer is always Yes, like they were just telling Stephen (yes, Hawking).

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34: Rectangular Door Conspiracy

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 20, 2011


How to say "no." Merlin talks with Dan about saying No to toilet paper diamonds, mints on pillows, and things you don't have the wallet for instead of saying Yes to a crate of bananas you don't have enough information about or giving a qualified Yes to planning Christmas parties you don't have any interest in.

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33: The Hypocrite You Can Live With

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 13, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin have a totally natural emotional reaction to the unreasonable demands they place on themselves after reading The Spongebob Report. Maybe they wouldn't have offended non-ex-Marines if they had just taken some time and consulted their Manager of Expectations.

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32: The Beertruck Scenario

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Sep 06, 2011


Merlin and Dan talk about Dan's sabbatical, hotdogs, services, triggers, Quicksilver, Launchbar, and why there's no 'I' in 'ordnance.'

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31: You Can Polish AC/DC All Day Long

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 30, 2011


With Dan on sabbatical, Merlin is joined by John Roderick of The Long Winters to talk about life as a bull in a china closet, craving real-world constraints, making better records, and being banned for life from Interpol’s corn chip bowl.

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30: I'm Not Working in an Abattoir

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 23, 2011


With Dan on sabbatical, Merlin is joined by Jonathan Coulton to talk about traveling, horn sections, and Jonathan’s new album, "Artificial Heart."

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29: I Download FLAC

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 16, 2011


With Dan on sabbatical, TV's Rob Corddry talks with Merlin about Getting Things Done, writing, fear, and finding success as a blood-soaked clown.

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28: One Little Red Egg

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 09, 2011


Dan and Merlin talk about kid stuff, including the threat of Hot Wheels® donation, the inevitability of skinned knees, the nefariousness of the hospital gift basket, plus an important way every Dad has to go pro.

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27: Danny, Hold the License Plate

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Aug 02, 2011


Merlin and Dan discuss the shameful state of film school, the realities of Ape Law, Merlin's rock opera, and the subliminal downside of Spongebob's big promotion.

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26: Spaghetti Guy Hits Close to Home

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Fri, Jul 29, 2011


This week Wutang Dan and The MZA bring the ruckus to finding a job, selling your Mustang, and putting your house on the market: remember that you can't negotiate with reality, Merlin can't do anything to make you love him, enthusiasm is irreplaceable, and you've got to find your position of strength. Protect ya neck!

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25: My Food Court of Functionality

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Fri, Jul 22, 2011


Dan and Merlin talk about nerds getting problems and about using Markdown in BBEdit, Textmate or any text app because you need to find tools that remove friction, not distractions.

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24: The Daddy for your Destiny

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 12, 2011


Dan's in a closet, but Merlin has a lot of FU from the last show: good jobs don't get posted on Craigslist and while you may not know what's gonna happen next, you're not just gonna install Xcode and retire on your angry bird so either do your research, get mercantile and take the leap of faith or you'll be polishing your golden handcuffs.

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23: Failure is ALWAYS an Option

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jul 05, 2011


This week, Dan and Merlin determine that even the Chico Marx of notebooks is the right one if you're writing in it, failure is ALWAYS an option: fully committing didn't do Pickett any good, but you should commit to narrowing scope and deciding what success is. Why? Fact or Fiction: You can start a business on the side.

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22: My Baby Likes Aluminum Foil!

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Jun 29, 2011


This week, Merlin and Dan share their Pick: The Macintosh Computer. Also, a 17-minute experimental startup sound, catching conflicts, shivving the stagecoach, machine-gunning with SoundMaster, the dangers of ResEdit, and the future of recumbent bike baskets. But not Charcoal. Are you KIDDING me?

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21: Assistant TO the Regional Monkey

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, Jun 22, 2011


Merlin and Dan talk about the problem of permanent zeroes, desiring not to desire, why "hypocrisy" is killing you, stepping back on the path without apologizing, Merlin's new tattoo, and—yeah—going a little easier on yourself. Also, how almost everything is like a glass of water and John Siracusa is literally and uniquely Squidward. 

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20: Muscle of Failure

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 14, 2011


Merlin and Dan talk about getting started, putting on your shoes instead of shopping for pedometers, false dilemmas, doing as much work with your hands as you've done in your head, why you should leave some water in the pump, meta-fiddling, and getting better.

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19: Corner Casey Kasem

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jun 07, 2011


Merlin and Dan talk about mindful tool adoption, screwdriver museums, why Vi users may (or may not) be cannibalistic insects—plus debate on whether a home video of a toy horse falling down in someone's bathroom is about Humanity. Also, Dan effs with Merlin's head. Again.

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18: Forking the Question

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 31, 2011


Merlin and Dan talk about educating "That's Just a Button Guy," practicing more humane pushback, asking better questions, why laundromats don't accept "focus," plus what happens when you put WAY too much crap in your five-pound bag.

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17: Brick Building Full of Lies

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Fri, May 27, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin talk about checking email under the table to catch up on your 27 high priority tasks, a good time to use the word priority, blowing cycles on meeting with Narnia's stakeholders, and getting tasks out of your dreamcatcher.

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16: Bracing for the Blow

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Wed, May 18, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin aren't afraid of lawyers, dentists, negative feelings, or of not being afraid of something.

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15: Marionette of my own Design

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 10, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin are here to discuss the awareness of fear, asking yourself why, and knowing the problem instead of chasing fake confidence, patches, and hacks.

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14: Velocity of Disappointment

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, May 03, 2011


Merlin Mann joins Dan Benjamin to talk about problems that are impossible, problems that are boring, problems that you're scared of, and why you need to differentiate between fear and anxiety so you can be scared of something interesting.

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13: The Kid's Great

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 26, 2011


Dan and Merlin talk about "Cranking" - Merlin's latest post at 43folders.com.

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12: Chewie's Medal is Not Canonical

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 19, 2011


Merlin Mann has some "followup" before he and Dan Benjamin discuss entrusting your agency to others, how to reclaim it, and picking the right balance between expertise and challenge instead of fixing your metadata.

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11: Johnny Heuristic

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Apr 12, 2011


Merlin Mann joins Dan Benjamin to talk about evolution, investing in roulette, taking smarter chances and futureproofing your passion.

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10: At Last the 'Inspiration' Show

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 29, 2011




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9: Out of Scope!

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 22, 2011


Dan and Merlin improvise topics this week and get from Synechode, NY to dopamine, being scared and being safe, believing your thoughts and coloring your dreams, and solving problems by moving your hands instead of thinking.

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8: Little Velvet Hands

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 15, 2011


This week, Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin eighty-six their restaurant jobs—emptying grease traps, handling logs of meat, and sharing what they learned by bringing mostly bad food to America's table. Dan burns velvet hands, Merlin's Mom gives the guy with th

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7: Vocational Wheel

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 08, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin relate to Richard–a listener in the middle of a quarter life crisis working jobs he doesn't like–with stories from their pasts, suggestions to combat the cascade of seriousness, and some first steps for breaking out of the vocational wheel.

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6: Expectational Debt

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Mar 01, 2011


Merlin Mann is back from Webstock and ready to recap with Dan Benjamin, which leads back to caring first, performance and fear, meditation, hypnotherapy, and why you really need the hard answer instead just more tips.

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5: Chigger Bites on the Bus Driver

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 15, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin talk about the black art of paying attention to the right things, how lamps are no substitute, that it's hard whether you’re working from home or a cube, being honest about your expertise before looking for independence, and the need to move past inspiration.

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4: Failing with Style

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 08, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin talk about trying to change other people, how things really aren’t that bad, balancing fear or being driven by fear, leaving capacity for when you get The Pitch, procrastination (eventually), and giving yourself permission to fail in an interesting way. You’re not gonna get black lung from a spreadsheet.

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3: The Second Arrow

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Feb 01, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discuss ADD, Buddhism, mindfulness, concentration, and insight.

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2: Picture of a Boat

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 25, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin formulate a five-minute warning tactic before discussing the reality of bringing change to your company, some patterns that work for startups, solving the right problem at the right level, why you can’t find the innovation button, and using PathFinder as a Finder replacement.

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1: Alligator in the Bathroom

Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin Author: Merlin Mann Author: &Author: Dan Benjamin
Tue, Jan 18, 2011


In the inaugural episode of Back to Work, Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discuss why they’re doing this show, getting back to work instead of buying berets, the lizard brain, and compare the Shadow of the Mouse to San Francisco, and eventually get to some practical tips for removing friction.

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