Neil Strauss: Embrace Your Fears

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Neil Strauss is a seven-time NYT best selling author. He became an international celebrity and an accidental hero to men after writing The Game, where he went undercover in a secret society of pickup artists for two years.

If that wasn’t enough Neil is an award winning columnist at the New York Times and Rolling Stone, for which he’s well-known for earning the trust of some of the most guarded and secretive celebrities in the world.

Today on the podcast,

  • We dig into vulnerability. Neil says the things that you’re most afraid to share are probably the things you to. If you’re feeling it, other people will too.
  • We also talk about the inner critic – the programmed messages you carry that aren’t true.
  • And we tackle fear: where it comes from, and how your best work can come from it.

Enjoy!

The things that you’re most afraid to share and tell others are probably the things you need to share because if you’re feeling it, other people will too.

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Some Questions I Ask:

  • If you’re always thinking about the next thing, does it mean that you aren’t maximizing on what just happened? [2:10]
  • How do you describe yourself? [3:18]
  • Do you get sucked into stories like Serial? [4:57]
  • What’s your opening line of questioning? [6:24]
  • Has the business side ever been a part for you? Or is it all about the art? [9:12]
  • Does vulnerability equal connection? [15:05]
  • How do you arrive at a project like The Game? [16:07]
  • Did you get the relationship help that you needed during your pursuit of The Game? [17:27]
  • Was there a self diagnosis in your pursuit of picking up women that people can’t hate you if you’re the number one? [18:08]
  • Can you talk about the gap between people’s personal experience and the belief that their personal experience is worthy of sharing? [20:29]
  • So when you make something, should you just throw it out there even if you don’t know if it’s good? [21:40]
  • Talk to us about how important sharing is to the creative process. [22:50]
  • How would you tell the story of The Game in one sentence? [24:32]
  • Is there a timeline for how often you should release your work? [26:30]
  • When people are being precious about their work, are they trying to perfect their work so they don’t get criticized? [28:28]
  • How do you overcome the inner critic? [29:44]
  • When did you go from your work mode to understanding where you stood in your state of trauma? [41:44]
  • How important is community in your process? [42:24]
  • Is writing a long process for you? [49:56]
  • Who have you worked with who you’ve been especially intrigued by? [51:31]
  • Which was more valuable to you; the book about Marilyn Manson that took 3 months, or the book about yourself that took 5 years? [52:55]
  • How do you relate The Truth to The Game? [53:45]
  • Can you go to a dinner party and not dissect people? [56:19]
  • Did you set out on this path to learn about yourself? [57:51]
  • As an adult, are you still uncovering things about yourself? [59:03]
  • Do you have any daily writing tactics? [1:00:55]
  • How important is the process to nonprofessional creators? [1:05:45]
  • How do you decide what to write? [1:08:11]
  • Is there anything that people would be surprised to learn about you? [1:09:39]
  • Is exploring two opposite sides of something an interest and theme for you? [1:11:36]
  • Do you use travel to escape or to learn? [1:13:29]
  • Did you have any fear that after you’ve released a book that you wouldn’t ever be able to write something better than it? [1:14:10]
  • How important is recreation and rejuvenation to you as a creative and as a human? [1:16:08]
  • Do you believe in flow states? [1:17:22]
  • Do you do anything to achieve flow states? [1:17:54]
  • What am I not asking that I should? [1:18:12]

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • How Neil has managed to lose track of how many best selling books he’s written. [1:51]
  • Why learning through metaphor is more effective than bulleted lists and prescribed advice. [3:56]
  • How to effectively use “the open loop” to capture attention and build rapport. [5:17]
  • How to flip the status quo in an interview; Neil turns the tables and interviews me. And surveys the crew to corroborate. [7:27]
  • The depths of my relationship with my wife and how it relates to my perceived work addiction. [10:26]
  • At what degree is creating destructive to the other important aspects of your life? [14:02]
  • How Neil sets vulnerability boundaries for the subjects and collaborators of the books he writes. [14:43]
  • The things you’re most afraid to share with others are exactly the things you should be sharing. If you feel it, others feel it too. [15:24]
  • How Neil’s willingness to not control the future led him to be known as the best pickup artist in that world. [17:38]
  • Why deadlines are one of the most important facets to Neil’s creativity. [20:02]
  • A lot of creativity is not necessarily the doing, but the listening and the noticing and sharing. [22:30]
  • Why you should not wait to release your work. Even if it CAN get better. Release it before the inspiration fades. [25:30]
  • Why you should welcome judgment and criticism. [27:21]
  • We all have the inner critic. The most successful people have the courage to silence the inner critic and do what you do despite it. [29:05]
  • The many faces of procrastination. Which one are you? [32:18]
  • Why you should just choose anything. Start with one idea and be open to changing it. [36:17]
  • What led to Neil’s intimacy issues, which led to his writing of The Game, which led to healing his trauma. [40:50]
  • Neil’s creative writing process. The third draft is for the haters; you know, like how Eminem writes. [43:30]
  • What types of feedback Neil specifically looks for. [48:16]
  • Making something out of nothing is the easy part, but crafting it into something you want to share is the hard part. [49:29]
  • The common thread to the topics of Neil’s books: fear. [54:54]
  • Lionel Richie’s assessment of what’s at the top of the top: nothing. The only thing you get to take with you is all the experiences that got you to the top. [59:55]
  • The systems Neil uses to protect himself from his worst self. AMAZING! [1:01:10]
  • Choose the block of time that you want to create. Commit to it. [1:06:00]
  • “Uncertainty is a very confident place to be.” Pull all your heart and love and care into what you do without predicting the outcome. [1:15:50]
  • The art is in the listening and applying your perception. [1:18:50]
  • “Embrace your fears, accept them, and do them anyway.” [1:19:55]

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Post author

Dustin Gurley is an Designer, Developer, Artist, Instructor, Critical Theorist and Systems Engineer. He has an extensive background working professionally with 2D/2.5D/3D Motion Graphics, Compositing, Film, Video, Photography and client-side performance techniques as it pertains to web development. Dustin recently completed work on his Master of Fine Art degree in Motion Media Design (Motion Graphics) from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Prior to beginning his graduate work, Dustin obtained a Bachelor of Art degree in Communication Studies with a concentration in Broadcast and Emerging Media from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. In addition to design and modeling, Dustin enjoys toying with his view camera, working with scratch film, authoring media related material and contributing to various industry conferences. When not in front of a computer, Dustin can be found with his wife, Regina Everett Gurley. The couple enjoys dividing their time between their home just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina and the beautiful North Carolina coast. Currently, Dustin serves as the Lead Instructor of Internet Technologies for Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina.