Mark Manson is a well-known and respected author, entrepreneur, blogger, self-confessed psychology nerd, world traveller and former dating coach.
Skype interview 28.05.14
The Authentic Man Podcast Series
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How important is your work to who you are as an individual?
Mark: I think it’s huge, I think if you think about our identities, our identities are very important to us and a large chunk of our identity is composed of what we spend our time doing everyday. And, I think if you’re in a job or work that you’re not completely aligned with, that doesn’t align with your values or that you don’t enjoy, that you’re not passionate about or that you don’t feel strongly about – that is reflected in your identity, that’s reflected in how you feel about yourself. I mean if you think about it, if you’re spending 50% of your waking hours doing something that you don’t believe in and that you don’t feel good about then that’s you know, essentially 50% or a large chunk of your identity that you don’t feel good about. So, I think it’s huge and it’s a very fundamental thing for men to evaluate in themselves, you know, beyond just getting the pay cheque or whatever.
If in 10 years time, you could see one difference in yourself, what would it be?
Mark: Something I’d like to change in myself in the next ten years – well, I’m still – I’m 30 so, one big thing for me, and this is something that I, it’s something that I’m just starting, and I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this but I would like to be calmer in ten years. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling like I always need to accomplish something else, that I need to travel to more places, make more money and do these amazing things and have more friends and it’s – I feel myself slowly letting go of that and I feel like you know, by the time I’m 40 or so I would like to just be very comfortable and calm with who I am and what my life is and not feel like I need to constantly add stuff to it all the time.
Fill in the blanks… If I didn’t have _____ life so far would have been a lot harder.
Mark: If I didn’t have the willingness to fail, then life ironically would have be much harder.
-Have you failed at a lot of things?
Mark: Oh yah! The interview’s not long enough for that!
One thing you will never compromise on?
Mark: My dignity and my self-respect
Sky or Ocean?
Mark: I’ll go with ocean
Mark: I love swimming, I love the beach – I’m afraid of heights!
If you could hold one person’s hand, between both of yours – perhaps someone you’ve met or someone you haven’t – and send them an abundant amount of thanks simply for being who they are, who would it be?
Mark: I would actually say my father. Although it’s interesting because it’s – he’s been a good example in some ways but I’ve always had a very strained relationship with him and I think that strained relationship has been very educational. Not just from ways I look up to him and good examples he can set, but also in ways that I don’t want to become and I don’t want to be. Dealing with that conflict and dealing with that struggle – and he tries so hard but like it just doesn’t, it just doesn’t click. So I would like to honour that. Because you know, it’s an imperfect relationship and it probably always will be but it’s made me who I am.
What percentage of your friends have seen you at both your emotional lowest and highest?
Mark: I would say about – I’m thinking about you know, close friends or like good friends not just casual friends – I would say 50% maybe.
-That’s quite high.
Mark: I think if you had asked me this 6 or 7 years ago, it would have been like 10%. It’s interesting, you know a lot of things have happened in my life in the last 5 or 6 years and, you know, really coming into being authentic and being honest and vulnerable, these were all huge huge changes for me, during this time – and what I noticed during that time is that my circle of friends got smaller so like, some of them kind of got left behind. But, out of that smaller circle of friends, a large chunk of them have definitely seen the best and the worst sides of me. The amazing thing about that is that because I know that they’ve seen those things, I know that they’re there, no matter what. You know, I can rely on them, regardless of what happens.
-And were you surprised at the ones that faded away and the ones that were left behind?
Mark: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s actually – you know clients that I work with – that comes up all the time. People who think are your best friend, as soon as your values kind of change a little bit, you discover that there wasn’t a whole lot there. Whereas this other more casual friend that you just kind of thought This is somebody I like hanging out with it turns out that you actually have a very deep connection with them that you didn’t even realise.
Finish these sentences –
Mark: Oh man! Fulfilment means, living up to one’s values.
-And what else?
Mark: And what else? I would say, again – I think it comes back to feeling comfortable in failure because you can still believe in yourself when things go wrong. Then everything else is easy. So I think that that – and that’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. The way we feel about ourselves in our worst moments, defines us.
I am my most relaxed when…
Mark: I’m my most relaxed when – usually when I’m reading a book or watching a basketball game, maybe with a little whiskey in front of me.
In a friend I most value…
In a teacher I most value…
Mark: Because I think it’s pretty easy to point out other people’s weaknesses and shortcomings but it’s hard to care about that person, despite their shortcomings and their weaknesses.
In myself I most value…
-That comes up a lot, that’s definitely a theme.
Still or sparkling water?
Mark: Oh Still! Europeans, I don’t get it! Whenever I buy a water over there and they say it’s sparkling, I get so annoyed I shake all the bubbles out!
-That must take a while!
Mark: It’s really frustrating sometimes!
Tea or coffee?
-So do you not do caffeine at all?
Mark: Oh no, I’m a caffeine fiend, I just don’t like warm drinks, yeh I don’t like tea or coffee, yeh I’m weird.
What does silence mean for you?
Mark: Oh that’s a really abstract one. What does silence mean for me… I’m trying to find the words. Purity.
-Are you comfortable in silence?
In a parallel universe, what different career would you chance?
Mark: Musician. That would was my dream when I was younger and I gave up on it very quickly and I’ve always kind of regretted that – I mean I don’t regret it, cos other great things happened but it’s always been a big what if? for me.
-And that question has two parts.
-Why not now?
Mark: Why not now, I mean – the simple answer is I love what I do now so I have no desire to change.
If you could have a meal, sitting across the table from yourself, what would you both eat, and what would you be sure to tell, or ask the man opposite you?
Mark: Well it would definitely be Mexican food, that’s the easy part. What would I ask myself – I mean is this a present version of me or is this like a past or future me?
-It’s up to you, could be future, could be little boy. And you can ask him something or tell him something.
Mark: I think I would just – this sounds kind of strange but I think I would just, kind of shoot the shit and enjoy myself! I wouldn’t take it seriously because I think it’s important… so there are two reasons for that answer, to kinda analyse my own answer, I think it’s kind of important to not take yourself so seriously sometimes, or to have a levity with yourself and then also I think it’s important to enjoy yourself, enjoy aspects of your personality and your own little quirks or nuances or you know, strange habits and stuff like that. So yah, I would just try to enjoy myself.
-So you’d just hang out with yourself?
Mark: Yeh, talk about sports or the last book I read or politics.
-So I guess it would have to be a you from the past, if you’re talking about the last book you read?
Mark: Yeh you know, or maybe a parallel universe version of me. I mean I think, I try to question myself a lot as it is, so I’m always trying to kind of evaluate my own thoughts and actions from a third person perspective – I think sitting down with myself, it would be bananas.
Slick, well-cut suit, or jeans and t-shirt?
Mark: Oh man, it depends. I can’t pick one!
-What’s your most favourite thing to wear?
Mark: Well, I’m kind of more of a – I don’t know what the right word for it is – but I dress nice but casual you know, like nice shirt, blazer, nice jeans, nice shoes, like going out to a nice dinner or something like that. But I do like putting on a suit, I don’t get to put on a suit very often because of my work but I always enjoy – my vanity enjoys putting on a suit.
-And are they tailored?
Mark: I wish! Actually, I think my last one is but you know, I gain and lose weight so whatever – but yes, in my fantasy life it’s always tailored!
And just one extra question for you
-So you mentioned that you question yourself a lot and you analyse yourself a lot. For what purpose?
Mark: I think for almost every purpose. I mean, there’s a fine line right? You don’t wanna be like neurotic about doubting yourself and questioning yourself but I think it’s healthy to have a little bit of skepticism about yourself and ask yourself what your real intentions are. So that comes in handy with my business, you know, am I making this decision –is it an emotional reaction or is there really like a logical basis for this, am I being self-centered? I helps in relationships, you know, I might have a fight with my girlfriend and it’s like you know Am I really being stuck up or is she right – is this behaviour normal of me? I think it’s really healthy to sit down and ask yourself those questions but not dwell on them. You know, look for the answer, see how you feel about it, but don’t obsess over it and don’t criticize constantly. So it’s like sitting down and having a conversation with yourself over Mexican food. Was I really a dumb ass there? Yeh I was – Oh crap, okay I’ll go apologise. You know?
Awesome, well that’s all the questions.
-Thank you for that and I hope I didn’t surprise you too much
Mark: No, you know, I gotta say that after doing a lot of these I like getting the curveballs – so it’s fun, it spices things up and makes things a little be different!