If two of the most successful individuals in their respective fields got together each week to discuss their lives, successes, lessons learned, and just shoot the breeze, would you want to be a fly on the wall?
Of course, you would! Thankfully, Max Temkin and Patrick Rothfuss have made it so you don’t have to employ secret agent or shapeshifting techniques to listen in on their conversation. Each week Max and Pat meet up to chat about anything and everything. Thankfully, they had the wonderful idea to record and share their conversations in a podcast titled, Unattended Consequences.
While you don’t need to know anything about the hosts to get a lot out of each episode, it may help to introduce them a little so you understand why you should be listening to their advice.
Max Temkin is designer out of Chicago and heads his own company, Maxistentialism. He is most well-known as the co-creator of the wildly successful game and one of the great Kickstarter success stories, Cards Against Humanity (CAH). In addition to CAH, he is also the creator of Humans vs. Zombies, Slap .45, Tableflip, and Werewolf. He has designed and created websites for many clients such as the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation and Barack Obama. In addition to his many designing and writing projects, he also sits on the boards of the Chicago Design Museum, Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, and the National Advisory Committee of DonorsChoose.org.
Patrick Rothfus is a New York Times bestselling author and best known for his projected three-volume series The Kingkiller Chronicle. The first of the series, The Name of the Wind, won a Quill Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror and was listed among Publishers Weekly’s “Books of the Year”. The second installment, The Wise Man’s Fear, was published in 2011 and reached Number 1 on the New York Times Hardback Fiction Best Seller List. He frequently tours and appears as a guest at many conventions across the country. He also organizes the charity Worldbuilders, which, since 2008, has raised over $4 million, primarily for Heifer International, a charity which provides livestock, clean water, education and training for communities in the developing world.
When I was introduced to Unattended Consequences I initially started just mindlessly listening to their discussion while I was doing other tasks. However, as their conversation went on, I found myself darting around trying to find some paper to write down some of the tricks, advice, or ideas they were discussing. Now when I listen to each week’s discussion, I sit with pen and paper in hand to take notes so I can actually employ the advice these titans of their industry are willing to share.
What I found to be so intriguing about their conversations is how their advice can be applied to every industry, profession, or person. Though Max’s experiences may seem unique to business and design, and while Pat’s expertise is writing, their advice is universally applicable.
Take for example this past week’s episode, “And Also He Got An Extra Shirt, The End”. This episode reads like a ‘How to Succeed in Anything’ manual. There is advice on the secret(s) to their success, marketing strategies, succeeding in interviews, writing, developing storylines, and even breaking bad habits. But the greatest part of the conversation is it just flows from topic to topic. There is no script or agenda. No one is pushing you to buy their product or get publicity. It is just two exceptionally funny and successful people talking. It feels like you are sitting at a coffee shop pretending to be working while eavesdropping on two interesting and intelligent people having a chat.
Even though I get a lot out of each episode professionally, they also talk about fun things that any nerd at heart loves to discuss: books, science fiction, characters, movies, politics, social media… the list goes on. The hardest part for me when listening to their podcast is that I cannot join in on the discussion because they talk about the things I love to talk about! Since we cannot be a part of the conversation, we are lucky enough that we get to be present for the conversation.
Once you subscribe, let me know what you think and what advice or tips you took away from each conversation!
For those who want a sneak peak at some of the advice you can expect, I’ll share what I took away from the episode I reference above, “And Also He Got An Extra Shirt, The End”:
In this episode Pat and Max discuss writing, The Marvel Universe, creating powerful stories, and how to not be steered off topic in an interview no matter how hostile it becomes.
What is the secret to Success?
Secret to success can be found in a quote from Penn Jillette, “The secret to every magic trick is the magician is willing to work a lot harder on some aspect of the trick than any normal reasonable person would possibly expect”.
So the answer to any question on how to succeed (how to start a successful kickstarter/write a good book/get an agent/ etc) is this: Do more work on your project/book/goal than any reasonable person would expect.
Secret To Marketing Success:
Companies/movies/products spend months and years building up a product or event, but by the time it is release, who cares? The excitement is over, the consumer has had time to weigh whether they want to spend their hard earned money or not.
CAH creates and products, releases the products and THEN advertises it as: Look at this great product, get excited about, here is where you can buy it.
In this way, the product is new, exciting, and they can buy it NOW. Consumers are at their most excited when the learn of the product, so why burn consumers out? We are an “I want it now” society, take advantage of it. Allow customers to actually buy your product when you spend time talking about it instead of teasing them for months.
How to Beat A Hostile Interview: Stay On Message
James Carville wrote about how to handle a hostile interview and stay on point. Think of the interview as a maze and your goal is to get to the end (your message) in as few words as possible.
Throughout the interview, even if an interviewer is trying to lead you away from your message or get you to go off topic, do not take the bait and always circle it back to what you want to say. Use as few words as possible. In a world of sound bites, do not give them what they want to hear, give them what YOU want them to know.
See example of Evander Holyfield interview after huge win, no matter what he was asked, he brought it back to religion and doing all things through God. Boxing? God. Critics? God. Ok, let’s get off religion, what about tactic? God.
Another great example of this is when Jen from CAH appeared on a local am conservative radio show to discuss the Trump Survival kit Bug Out Bag campaign. The host ACTUALLY said to her “I learned in radio host 101, if you aren’t going with us, you are against us”. (What?! No it isn’t!) Despite every attempt to bait her, anger her, and even instill fear in her by threatening an onslaught of online hate, she never broke character and stayed on message.
Secret to Successful storyline or scene:
If you describe a scene in a movie and you are saying, and then this happened, and then this happened. It’s crap. Everything should lead from “therefore” or “but”.
Strong Scene = This happens therefore this happens. This happens but this happens.
Crap scene = this happens, and then this happens, and then this happens.
Build a story and reason for why the characters do what they do. Don’t just throw in actions.
Creating a Successful World in a Book Series
What is the one thing Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones all have in common? The authors created these big wonderful/expansive worlds that the reader can invest in while learning about the title characters’ adventures. The reader is aware that these main characters live in these worlds and other people are living, fighting, struggling despite the fact you are only reading about this one character or characters.
Other “make you think” thought:
The difference between fiction and genre fiction:
Fiction = people having extraordinary reactions to ordinary events
Genre Fiction= people having ordinary reactions to extraordinary events.
Secret to breaking any bad habit
This is actually a pretty cool idea that Max and Pat employed this past week and one I have heard echoed from top experts on breaking addiction for smoking/food/ too much social media/procrastination/ etc. See: Radiolab, March 8, 2011 Episode titled, “Help!” for another podcast that discusses this idea on how to break bad habits.
Doing something which feels good at the time but we know we need to stop (such as fooling around on social media when you should be working), but is in fact having a harmful effect on your overall life is a difficult cycle to break.
In order to break that cycle you need two things: (1) a good friend who will hold you accountable and (2) something you find so vile and against what you believe in that it would make you ill to support it.
Now, make a commitment with your friend that if you break, you will have to do that thing you find repulsive. For instance, let’s say you love to smoke but you want to quit. But more than your love of smoking, you hate a certain political candidate. Tell your friend if you smoke that they will make sure you donate x amount of money to that candidate’s campaign.
From then on when you look at that cigarette all you will think of is having to give your hard earned money to someone or some cause that you despise.