The Top 10 Mindblowing Podcasts of 2020

2020 has been a year of challenges and changes for everyone, but we at Podcast Notes never stopped doing what we do, which is finding the world’s best podcasts and pulling out the more intriguing, useful, insightful and actionable ideas from them.

We are always learning and always improving. And after taking notes on hundreds of Podcasts over thousands of hours it call comes down to this. It wasn’t easy, but we’ve selected the 10 very best shows of 2020 along with the gems of wisdom for you all in one place.

If you’re going to read one post all year, this is the one. By definition, it has arguably the highest Signal to Noise ratio of almost anything online. Thousands of hours distilled into 10 minutes of Notes.

10. James Nestor: The Lost Art of Breath | Chase Jarvis Live Show

  • “Breathing is a foundation of health and if you’re not doing it right, you’re never really going to be healthy.” – James Nestor
  • Making small adjustments in the way we breathe can have extraordinary downstream effects on athletic performance, organ health, autoimmune disease, snoring, and even scoliosis
  • 25-50% of the world’s population mouth breathes – this is correlated to sleep apnea and asthma
  • People with anxiety and asthma breathe too much which is why resting carbon dioxide levels are low
  • The need to breathe is triggered by carbon dioxide, not oxygen
  • Disevolution: Impact of Modern Lifestyle On Skeleton
    • Ancient skulls have near-perfect teeth without braces or corrections needed
    • Wisdom teeth removal is the result of modern-day pathologies in our breathing that has made our mouths smaller and reduced space
    • Half of braces treatments will make breathing worse
    • Babies who are breastfed will have straighter teeth and less prevalence of sleep apnea in adulthood versus babies who were bottle-fed
  • Benefits of Harnessing Nasal Breathing
    • When we breathe through our nose we can filter and humidify the air so it can be best absorbed by the lungs without irritation
    • Nasal breathing fights bacteria and pathogens
    • Breathing through your nose instead of your mouth increases oxygenation by 20%
  • How Can We Start Nasal Breathing?
    • Step 1: Practice breathing through your nose
    • Step 2: Exhale fully and calmly, lifting the diaphragm
    • Practice: Use a small piece of tape over mouth to force nasal breathing
  • Control Your Breath, Control Your Body
    • If you want to get amped up, inhale longer than exhale
    • If you want to slow down, exhale to a longer count than inhale
    • For balance: 5-6 seconds in and 5-6 seconds out
  • Full notes from James Nestor

9. Bitcoin Has Entered Phase 5 with PlanB, Jeff Booth & Preston Pysh | What Bitcoin Did Podcast

  • Technology is Deflationary
    • Technology is an unstoppable force that drives prices lower and enables less human work
      • Moreover, because technology evolves exponentially, money printing has to increase exponentially to match the exponential deflationary pressure
    • Technology moves fast and leaves people and companies playing an old game (E.g. Sears losing to Amazon, Kodak blinded to the rise of digital photography)
      • Similarly, expect governments to be left behind, trapped in a bubble of their own creation
        • “Interest rates policy, printing of money, is all of those things on a last leg of an old system, trying to keep the system alive” – Jeff Booth
  • What Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) Misses
    • While giving people free money is politically popular, it fails to explain the source of the money: insidious stealing from the people
    • Additionally, devaluing a currency destroys its status as a reserve currency, eventually leading to revolutions and wars to reset the status
    • Instead of leveraging technology, inflation forces humanity into wars
  • Based on PlanB’s model, price should start making new All-Time Highs (ATH) around the start of 2021 [it happened a few weeks early]
    • People will then dig deeper into the value proposition of Bitcoin
  • Bitcoin vs Other Assets
    • S&P and Bitcoin are correlated and co-integrated over the last 10 years (their correlation is not a coincidence)
    • This can be explained by the increasing quantity of fiat currency
    • Historically, people weren’t able to escape hyperinflation because all their wealth was in the local currency, Bitcoin fixes this
  • “The biggest threat to Bitcoin is good government policy” – Saifedean Ammous
  • The army of Bitcoin Hodlers is growing and there will be a trigger point
    • “Once you have seen, you cannot unsee. Once you get it, there is no way back.” – PlanB
  • Full Notes from Plan B

8. NO EXCUSES | Jocko Willink on The James Altucher Show

  • Common life lessons:
    • Look at the positive in every situation
    • Take small steps to reach a bigger goal
    • Take full responsibility for your life
    • “I don’t think that’s very strange at all. I think it actually speaks to the nature of some foundational truths in the way the world operates.” – Jocko Willink
  • Each day, try to spend more time producing than consuming: “You have to make sure it’s not a deficit where all you’re doing is consuming and you’re not producing anything” – Jocko Willink
  • “Short-term gratification is not long-term success and it’s not long-term happiness” – Jocko Willink
  • As a leader, you’ll be more respected if you’re humble. If you act like you know everything and make a decision even though other employees know it isn’t the right move, they will see through it and lose trust in your leadership ability.
    • “You have to really put your ego in check” – Jocko Willink
    • If you want to become a better leader, be more humble. If you’re humble, you’ll listen to other people and take responsibility for things that went wrong instead of blaming other people.
  • If someone has a different viewpoint than you, don’t hate them for it. Listen and try to understand where they’re coming from.
  • Full Notes with Jocko

7. Poker, Probabilities, and How We Make Decisions | Annie Duke on Conversations with Tyler

  • It’s hard for people to make bets that hedge against their identity
    • People will hedge against disaster with fire insurance but are less likely to hedge against their marriage with a prenup (only about 5% of married couples have a prenup)
      • “We have this idea that if we do hedge against something, that somehow if the bad thing happens, we caused it. And this is particularly problematic in situations that do have very high emotional valence.” – Annie Duke
  • Lessons From Poker
    • It’s hard to be happy playing poker because the losses hurt much more than the happiness you gain from winning
    • Be aware of the self-serving bias: We tend to attribute good things to our own skill, and we tend to attribute bad things that happen to us to luck
    • The number one trait of a top poker player is open-mindedness:
    • “In order to really succeed at the top levels of the game, you have to be so open-minded. You have to be so willing to ponder on a daily basis the idea that you might be wrong, the idea that the things that you think to be true or what you think about an opponent — that it just might be inaccurate.” – Annie Duke
      • “If you have those things and you’re smart, I think that in a pretty quick period of time, you could become very good at that game.” 
  • Full Notes with Annie Duke

6. Essentialism Explained: How To Focus On What Matters | Greg McKeown on Modern Wisdom Podcast

  • Being Busy ≠ Success
    • “Almost universally people will feel stretched too thin at work or at home, busy but not productive” – Greg McKeown
    • Just because someone is busier than you doesn’t mean they’re more important  
      • Being busy isn’t an achievement 
  • Having A Clear Mission = Success
    • “Instead of the fear of missing out or FOMO, you start to have the joy of missing out or JOMO”
    • “Take the time to explore, figure out what you really can make a great contribution in and then go big in it” – Greg McKeown
  • Finding What’s Essential
    • List all of your tasks on importance from a 0-100 scale
    • Anything that’s under a 90, question and maybe even eliminate
      • “Every time you do something that’s below 90%, you’re taking it away from something that is 90% or above, you’re making a trade-off” – Greg McKeown
    • We have to protect our ability to prioritize
    • You have to ignore both the internal and external nonessential voices
  • You don’t become successful and then become disciplined, you become disciplined and then you become successful
  • Don’t keep your phone in your bedroom at night
  • Top performers tend to sleep 8.4 hours per night
  • Every day you should be writing out your to-do list and then prioritizing it
  • Full Notes with Greg Mckeown

5. Best Decisions, Daily Routines, Mind Training, and Much More | Hugh Jackman on The Tim Ferriss Show

  • Hugh’s routine: wake up, make coffee, take a cold shower, read for 30 minutes, and then meditate
  • Meditation:
    • “The trick to life is to not letting the mind be your master but let it be your servant” – Hugh Jackman
    • “I have a feeling of coming home, a feeling of experiencing my true self and not just being caught up in the monkey mind or being reactive to life” 
  • Lessons from Hugh’s Parents
    • You cannot overinvest in education
    • If you are ever in doubt of what to do, go and learn more
    • Everyone needs to feel appreciated. It doesn’t matter what they do, it doesn’t matter who they are, that’s a need in everybody.
    • If you’re a guest, always offer to help clean up
    • You always keep your word
  • Work Your Butt Off
    • Whatever you want to accomplish in life, you can’t sit around waiting for luck to happen. You have to chase success.
    • “My feeling was you have to drive, you have to work. You cannot be a victim, you cannot wait for the phone to ring. You have to go out and generate and get your brand out there and get going.” – Hugh Jackman
    • “Be stoic, be hopeful, but work your ass off”
  • Follow Your Gut: “There is some calling that is beyond the conscious brain’s strategizing of how to be happy and successful or meaningful in life. There’s something elemental and instinctual.” – Hugh Jackman
  • A north star that Hugh uses to make life decisions: Is this good or bad for our family?
  • Rowing is one of the best ways to get lean:
    • “Seven-minute row, four times a week, and the goal is 2,000 meters. And when you try it, at some point, you’re going to hate me for it, but still. That’s the quickest, best way.
  • Full Notes with Wolverine

4. How To Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones | James Clear on Making Sense with Sam Harris

  • Luck, habits, and choices all collectively determine success in life. You can’t control the first, but you can control your habits and choices.
  • Habit = Automatic behavior: It’s a behavior that’s been repeated enough times that it basically becomes automatic
    • Another definition: “They’re solutions to recurring problems in your environment”  – James Clear
    • “Habits are often heavily influenced by the environment that we’re in” – James Clear
    • People often watch how friends or family members solve recurring problems and copy that solution or habit
    • “You sort of inherit the habits of the people around you”
    • Your Habits = Your Responsibility
      • “It’s your choice as an adult how you respond to these recurring problems and if you have the option, to build habits that solve those things in a healthier, more productive, and fruitful way, then that’s your responsibility to try and build those” – James Clear
  • Why Good Habits Are So Hard To Form
    • Every action has two outcomes: An immediate outcome and an ultimate outcome
    • The immediate outcome of most bad habits is positive even though the ultimate outcome is negative
      • E.g: Eating a donut feels great but doing it daily will likely cause long-term health problems
    • “The cost of your good habits is in the present. The cost of your bad habits is in the future.” – James Clear
  • Goals Vs. Systems
    • “You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems” – James Clear
    • “Most of your outcomes in life are lagging measures of your habits” – James Clear
      • Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your reading and learning habits
      • Your bank account is a lagging measure of your financial habits
      • Your physical fitness is a lagging measure of your eating and exercise habits
  • “Your current habits are perfectly designed to deliver your current results” – James Clear
  • Full Notes from James Clear

3. The New Media World, The Value of Family, and Why Boomers Need To Go | Ryan Holiday on The Portal with Eric Weinstein

  • Tech and Attention Spans:
    • People are on their phones and consume more information now than ever before
    • “We have more information about other people, I think the exhaustion from social media in a sense is keeping up with the Joneses times like a thousand” – Ryan Holiday
  • Shifting Media Landscape
    • “It’s never been easier to reach a mass audience, to monetize your work, to control your own destiny as a creative person” – Ryan Holiday
    • “Things can be flat out cultural phenomenons but have no cultural impact” – Ryan Holiday
  • Want A Meaningful Life? Start A Family
    • These days people try to find meaning in psychedelics, polyamorous relationships, traveling, and being an influencer
      • “We’ve emptied all these things of meaning and replaced them with nothing and we wonder why everyone is content to burn down this system” – Ryan Holiday
        • “We tore down marriage, replaced it with nothing. We tore down the office, the community, the small town square, all of the things we’ve torn them down and replaced them with nothing”
    • Ryan’s advice: “Get married, have kids, live within your means, find work that’s purposeful and fulfilling for you”
    • When you become a parent, it makes you more comfortable with death because you know a part of you will live on 
    • Being a parent is hard, exhausting, and difficult, but it’s worth it
  • Move on Boomers
    • “They’ve hoarded all the stuff and they won’t retire and give it up” – Ryan Holiday
    • Baby boomers don’t seem to be aware of how much more expensive college tuition and home prices are now compared to when they were young adults
    • Millenials have had a hard ride, they experienced: 9/11, the Iraq war, the 2008 financial crisis, massive student debt, and more
    • “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit”
  • Ryan’s found a lot of life advice from reading books from authors who have long since passed away: “I spend most of my time communicating with people that are dead”
  • Full Notes with Ryan Holiday

2. The Pandemic, Power of Masks, Levels of Risk and More | Nassim Nicholas Taleb on EconTalk

  • Taking Risks
    • There’s a big a difference between medium-size variations at the individual level and systemic at the system level
      • E.g.: Jumping 1 meter 20 times will make you stronger but jumping 20 meters 1 time will likely kill you
    • When taking risks, avoid risks of ruin
      • In other words: Take all the risks you want today, but make sure you’re around for tomorrow
    • “Pandemics are the fattest-tailed thing, and that you got to kill them in the egg” – Nassim Taleb
  • Nassim isn’t a fan of the World Health Organization (WHO): “It’s a bureaucratic organization that has been devastating for mankind because of its incompetence.” – Nassim Taleb
  • During the Black Death period, cities did not accept any foreigner or any outsider, and even the residents coming back had to go to lazarettos, or the equivalent of quarantine
    • The root word of quarantine means 40 days, which is how long-ship had to stay at bay before entering the city.
  • Limitations of Science
    • Science is not about evidence. Science is about properties.
      • E.g: There are no clinical data on whether it’s unsafe to jump from an airplane without a parachute at 35,000 feet, but since we understand gravity, we don’t need a clinical study
    • Averages and forecasting are a lot less useful in science than people think
      • A river that is on average 3 feet deep, can kill you because it can have sections where it’s 60 feet deep 
    • Forecasting works best for thin-tailed distributions like flipping a coin, you’ll likely get in the ballpark of 50% heads and 50% tails
      • You can’t do linear regression with fat-tails
      • You can’t use correlation when you have non-linear effects
  • The Golden Rule of societies: ‘Treat me the way you want to be treated when you’re older, and respect that.’
  • Full Notes with Nassim Taleb

1. Happiness, Reducing Anxiety, Crypto Stablecoins, and Crypto Strategy | Naval Ravikant on The Tim Ferriss Show

  • Scientists are Heroes
    • “My heroes are scientists because I think applied science is the engine that pulls humanity forward. It eventually becomes technology.” – Naval Ravikant 
    • “I think scientists are still the most unsung heroes of human history and Feynman was one of the greats”– Naval Ravikant 
  • Social Sciences ≠ Science
    • “Social science does kind of lead you down the road to ignorance because it is about social. And anything social is about groupthink and group behavior and individuals can search for truth but groups search for consensus.” – Naval Ravikant
    • “The opposite of education is not ignorance; it is education in social science.” – Nassim Taleb
    • “I think the nature of what science is is being corrupted and that started the day we let the so-called social sciences masquerade as sciences” – Naval Ravikant
    • What does Naval consider to be real science?
      • Physics, molecular biology, chemistry, mathematics, the theory of computation, etc.
        • “If there isn’t some experiment that could theoretically disprove it then it’s not science” 
  • “You’re not going to get rich renting out your time. You must own equity – a piece of a business – to gain your financial freedom.” – Naval Ravikant
    • “To me the purpose of money is freedom and for that, you need to create wealth” – Naval Ravikant
    • “Make money with your mind, not with your time. So if I can make just one good decision a year and that makes me all the money I need for that year” – Naval Ravikant
    • Money will take care of your money problems, but it won’t take care of all your problems
  • Meditation
    • “Proper meditation, proper examination should ruin the life that you’re currently living.” – Naval Ravikant
      • “It should cause you to leave relationships. It should cause you to re-establish boundaries with family members and colleagues
      • It should cause you to quit your job
      • It should cause you to change your eating patterns
      • It should cause you to spend more time with yourself
      • It should cause you to change what books you read
      • It should cause you to change who your friends are
      • If it doesn’t do that, it’s not real examination.” 
    • “I will tell you it’s the single most important thing that I do” – Naval Ravikant
    • “When the best hour of my day is spent by myself, then the world has very little to offer me”
    • The best part is that anyone can do it and it’s free
  • “I think cryptocurrencies are probably one of the greatest inventions in human history” – Naval Ravikant
    • Crypto is like a Swiss bank account that no government can break into
    • “It’s very liberating to disconnect wealth creation, wealth storage, and wealth protection, from the state and that’s what cryptocurrency is really enabling” – Naval Ravikant
  • The Ultimate Lifehack: Play Long Term Games
    • All effective self-help books can be boiled down to one lesson: play long-term games
    • Compound interest applies everywhere: Relationships, money, health
    • You want to find things in life that feel like play instead of work, that will help you play long term games
      • Find healthy foods that you enjoy eating
      • Find a job or career that you enjoy doing
      • Find books you enjoy reading
  • “Read what you love until you love to read” – Naval Ravikant
  • “The modern devil is cheap dopamine” – Naval Ravikant
  • Full Notes with Naval
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