The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Dax Shepard on the Craft of Podcasting, Favorite Books, and Dancing with Your Demons (#480)

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Dax Shepard (@daxshepard), an American actor, writer, director, and podcast host. He is known for his work in the feature films Without a Paddle, Zathura: A Space Adventure, Employee of the Month, Idiocracy, Let’s Go to Prison, Hit and Run, and CHiPs, the last pair of which he also wrote and directed, and the MTV practical joke reality series Punk’d. He is also known for portraying Crosby Braverman in the NBC comedy-drama series Parenthood.

Since 2018, Dax has hosted the juggernaut podcast Armchair Expert , 2018’s most downloaded new podcast on Apple Podcasts, winning “Breakout Podcast” at the 2019 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. His roster of guests includes Kristen Bell, Ashton Kutcher, Alicia Keys, Chelsea Peretti, Sarah Silverman, Conan O’Brien, Seth Rogen, 50 Cent, Jimmy Kimmel, Alanis Morissette, and hundreds more. You can find Armchair Expert on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Transcripts may contain a few typos. With some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can also watch the conversation on YouTube.

#480: Dax Shepard on the Craft of Podcasting, Favorite Books, and Dancing With Your Demons


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Tim Ferriss: Dax, welcome to the show. Thanks for making the time.

Dax Shepard: Yes. Thanks for having me. It might be fun for people to even know why we’re talking.

Tim Ferriss: Well, let’s see, it originated with a mention in my newsletter, 5-Bullet Friday. I had listened—

Dax Shepard: Very complimentary.

Tim Ferriss: Very complimentary and very well-deserved, related to an episode of your podcast, Armchair Expert, in which you interviewed Atul Gawande, who I’ve respected for a very long time, author of many books, including The Checklist Manifesto. And it was one of those episodes that I come across every once in a while, where I think to myself, I should have interviewed that guy first, because I don’t think I’m actually going to be adding much to the conversation by having a second interview unless I just jump straight to the rapid-fire questions, “If you were a breakfast cereal, what would you be?” kind of stuff. You did an exceptional job and—

Dax Shepard: So flattering. Thank you.

Tim Ferriss: And so you reached out after that, and that’s how we connected. And we had, I guess, one or two conversations since, and here we are on the show.

Dax Shepard: Yeah, we connected over the phone. And I’ll admit to my very, I think it’s human, susceptibility to compliments from high-status people. I mean, this is deplorable about me. But certainly people wrote on that episode on our feed that it was nice and everything, and it feels good. But then to see in, you could consider, quotes, a competitor on some level, or a colleague, I don’t know how you want to frame it, but to know that someone else who does what I do listened and liked it, is abundantly flattering. Sometimes I’ll reach out to, I think we’re both friends with Sam Harris. So if there was an episode I had loved of his, I’ll tell him that. And then occasionally he’ll go, “Oh, I really liked your…” And I’m like, “Wow.” I assume you would never listen to my show because you have your own show. So I don’t know. It gets elevated quickly for me that you took the time to listen when you spend so much time in the podcast world and you probably want a break from it.

Tim Ferriss: I have decided that I want to go back to the well and try to work on the craft. And part of that is listening to people who are really good. And I polled my audience on Twitter to determine which episodes to hone in on. And that was part of my homework.

Dax Shepard: Oh. No kidding.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. And I did that early, early on because I started this podcast in 2014, seems like in the Pliocene era. And I initially looked at Inside the Actors Studio and some of these others. Terry Gross. Also, I think had a similar experience to yourself in the sense that went on WTF with Mark Maron and Joe Rogan and was on Nerdist and had such a great time compared to the two minutes of having someone look over your shoulder at a teleprompter morning TV edition that I decided to kind of kick the tires and try it out, at least for myself.

But it seems to me like you have, much more so than myself, I mean, skyrocketed to such a dominant place, in some respects, with the podcast. And there’s a lot to unpack there, but I thought where we could start is your mom. And I’ll place some background around that. I’ve had many friends of mine ask me if I would have my mom or dad on my podcast. And they’ve also suggested that I record episodes with them, even if I never release them. And I think there’s something to be said for that. I haven’t yet done it. You did have your mom on the podcast. And I would just love to hear you describe why you did that, and if it was at all difficult to pull the trigger to do it and publish it.

Dax Shepard: Well, for me, it felt like I should absolutely do it because the premise of our show is, look, man, it is hard to get through 80 years on this planet and not fuck up royally often. And so my mother, I don’t know where she got it from, to be honest with you, but she’s always had the most compassionate, empathetic point of view. An example would be, I lived in a small town, occasionally a young kid would die in a car accident, always drunk driving related, and there would be other people in the car and the whole community would be mad at the driver. And my mother’s first thought would always be like, “Oh, man, what are the parents of the boy driving thinking about? Every baby comes home and cigars are handed out and everyone’s excited, and this is just not where it should end for anyone.” She always had this knack for taking almost the antagonists in stories and having a great deal of empathy for them. And so, however much I’m able to do that on our show, it’s directly credited to her, for sure.

And this really willingness to own your fuck-ups in public. She would tell people, relative strangers, how many times she’d been divorced or this or that. She seemed to fight shame with that. And so I just always admired her about that. And I definitely think that if that’s why the podcasts work, it’s attributable to her. So it seemed natural to have her on.

But then I had the fear of, my mother is not a public personality. She’s not been in interviews. It’s a stressful situation, as you’ve just said. I think people underestimate how much of a starter pistol goes off when you’re on one of those talk shows. It’s like, you’re standing behind a door. It’s about to raise up. You’re supposed to walk up to the right and to the left and you shake the guy’s hand, then you sit down and then you—it’s so quick and like being shot out of a cannon that it’s very hard to relax and be yourself out there. So I had an appropriate amount of fear that she would maybe just not be the person I know once there was a microphone in front of her. And then to my great delight, she had no problem with it. She was just very comfortable right away. And then I think the unforeseen thing for me was the person who does interviews was operating on some level, and so there are obvious things that I would have asked for follow-up questions with any other guest that I had never asked my mom.

And I guess the one that was probably most profound is—my mom has this incredible story. Three divorces. Started as a janitor, night shift. Built a company. Raised three kids on her own. She’s had two suicide attempts, she’s wrestled with mental health issues. My first stepdad was physically abusive and beat her up in front of us. And it was gnarly. And she was very comfortable with that. And so she’s going through her story, and then it just hit me for the first time. It’s something I would’ve asked a real guests, which was “God, how could someone as tough as you and as confident as you have lived with someone that was beating you up? You don’t fit the stereotype I have of someone with low self-esteem that would find themselves in that relationship.”

And she said, again, I’ve never asked her that, but she said, “The shame of having failed twice. I had just got divorced from your dad, and I didn’t want to tell my parents. And that didn’t go easy, and everyone was disappointed. And I felt like a failure. And now I picked this other guy, and I probably did it haphazardly. And here I was again, and I would have preferred to have gotten physically beat up than to own the shame of having failed twice in such a short period of time.” And I think that ended up being one of the most profound things that happened in that. I know a lot of women reached out to us and really related to that and have contacted my mom separately about that. And so that was a neat part of it that I never thought to really ask her in real life. But then once in this context, it seemed very obvious I should ask that.

And so I dug it. I could definitely see it going off the rails. And I’ll also add one thing about my mom, which is I one time told a story on a talk show that embarrassed her. And she called me and she was a little embarrassed, and I felt really bad. And I said, “I’m sorry. I guess I sometimes just assume you’re as open as I am,” or whatever it is. And then she called me back about a week and a half later, and she said, “You know what? I was wrong to call you. This is your story. And you have a full right to tell your story. And it involves me sometimes, and that can be sometimes I’m embarrassed by that. But you certainly, if you have any right, it’s to tell your own story.” So I already had that relationship. So I think that puts me in a much better spot than maybe—I don’t know what your relationship is with your parents. Are they still married?

Tim Ferriss: They’re still married. Yeah. My parents are still together. And I mean, there are a million directions we could go with that. And maybe we do, maybe another time. But before we turn it into the Tim therapy session, which we can—

Dax Shepard: Well, we will when you’re on my show, for sure.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. We’ll do that. I’m very curious if, A, that’s a level of equanimity that you’ve seen in your mom before? Because that’s a very, I want to say mature, not in the age-related sense, but in the psychological sense, perspective to take with your story and the divulging and telling of things that might be embarrassing to her, might even cause uncomfortable conversations with her friends. Have you seen that before? And then the second part is, did you see any downside, or did she experience any downside to being on the show as someone who’s not a public figure? And as we both know, a lot of weirdos can come out of the woodwork.

Dax Shepard: Oh, yeah. Although it is filtered at a certain point, as I’m sure you experience. In general, if someone’s listening to your show, they probably like you. I doubt people hate-listen to you the way they did to Howard Stern in the ’90s.

Tim Ferriss: My stuff’s too long.

Dax Shepard: Yeah. It’s too much of a commitment. No. She has had nothing but incredibly positive, moving reactions to that. And I do think she thought maybe what I have thought in the past, which is, “Oh, if she says this is, it’s going to be embarrassing to her brothers or her other family members.” And that was not the case. And I guess that’s what I’ve learned almost 250 times in a row doing the show, which is, every time you think it’s going to be embarrassing and there’s going to be backlash, that’s almost assuredly going to mean something real and vulnerable came out. And I’ve yet to see vulnerability met with shittiness, thus far. I mean, it’ll certainly happen. And certainly some things I’ve admitted have been mildly weaponized by different political points of view. But in general, I’ve just been so encouraged.

And a little bit—the premise of why I wanted to do the show is that I’m in a 12-step program. I’m in AA. I watch people. I’ve watched people for the last 17 years share things that should make you hate them, but when they do it and they’re owning it as a fault or a mistake or a character defect, it’s just hard not to be empathetic towards that. Because, man, I’ve yet to meet the person who’s not wrestling with some shittiness. It’s a unifying trait of us humans. We’ve got some shit we’re all dealing with.

Tim Ferriss: It seems like you have owned, and use extremely well, vulnerability as a superpower of sorts on your show and quite possibly elsewhere in your life. Let’s talk about one component of that, which is addiction. When did you first think of yourself as having a problem with any type of substance abuse or substance use?

Dax Shepard: Throughout my using. But I had a different point of view, which is my heroes at that time were Bukowski. They were other romantic drunks. They were Waylon Jennings. And I had this fantasy, this romantic fantasy, that I could do something artistically that would be impactful enough that it would excuse all of my shittiness. So Waylon’s got several songs basically apologizing for cheating on his wife. And it’s hard to be in love with a fun-loving man. And Bukowski would put these books out and it kind of excused what a horrendous piece of shit he was in his real life. So I think I was looking to be a fuck up, but maybe one that was funny enough that people overlooked it, or I wrote something important enough that people would give me a pass. And so that was my fantasy.

And on some level it worked a bit. I think people were willing to be around me more than some other people that are less funny. But I had underestimated that I ultimately suffered. I ultimately was demoralized and pessimistic and defeated in that it really wasn’t about all the people around me I could keep in my orbit. That I ultimately had to be with myself all the time. And so I had an awareness that I drank too much. That was quite obvious. And I knew that I used cocaine far more frequently than the Surgeon General would recommend.

And I didn’t care until—I had a few attempts at getting sober and I could put together two or three months. I generally did it because I knew I couldn’t use the way I used and work in movies. And I cared more about that. So I would generally get sober for movies. And then in between movies, I would go out. But my most profound moment was I was about to start this movie Zathura I knew I had to get sober for. I thought, “Oh, I’m going to go to Hawaii for a week vacation with a buddy before I start because I know I’m going to be getting sober.” And I specifically went to Hawaii because I was under the impression they didn’t have cocaine there. It was very hard to get cocaine there, and I didn’t want to die. But they have other stuff there. And I found crystal meth and all this stuff.

And by the time I left that trip, I had a layover in San Francisco, and I was so physically sick from that week. I had been in a car accident. I had smoked meth for a few days. I was in so much physical anguish that when I got to San Francisco, I really needed to get down three or four Jack and diets to make the flight to L.A. And I had been in AA at that point. So I’m so afraid someone from AA is going to run into me at this airport. And so I’m hiding in the corner of this bar and there’s the proverbial mirror, it actually was there, and I’m hiding. And people recognized me. So that dream had come true. I was about to make the most amount of money I ever made in my life, starting that movie, an amount of money that I thought would solve all things. And I was the most scared, most depressed, most suicidal I had ever been with all the things I had wanted to get.

And that was a very, very scary moment. And I realized, “Wow, it really isn’t about those things.” I had told myself, as I think a lot of people do, if I got some money, I’d be happy. If I got this girl, I’d be happy. If I got this job, I’d be happy. And I was lucky enough to get to all those things. And I was very unhappy. And so I really had to ask why. And I had to actually figure out how to be happy. Because it wasn’t those things. They help for sure. I don’t want them to be taken away, but I was at my shittiest point with all the things I had set out to get.

Tim Ferriss: Where did you land asking those questions in terms of what makes you happy? What were the levers that mattered? What were the ingredients that mattered?

Dax Shepard: Well, I’ve slowly cobbled together a little checklist for me. I think A. shame. I just had a decade of shames. All kinds of deplorable behaviors while fucked up. So that was a big component. And then, really, self-esteem. I was trying to get my value from a lot of outside validation, and then I got it, and I saw the same person in the mirror. I had also dated girls that I was convinced if that girl liked me, well, clearly that would prove I was desirable and worthy of wanting. And then every time I’d look in the mirror at their house, I’d—same piece of shit.

And so over years of being sober, my list really became, have I exercised? I can’t put too fine a point on my belief in exercise. I’m a zealot about it. I’m annoying. If I had to pick one thing in my life, it would be that I exercise. I’ve just never felt worse after an hour of exercise than I felt before. So exercise is huge. Have I gone to a meeting? That’s huge. Have I been of service to somebody I don’t want to be? And in general, when I feel terrible, if I ask myself those three things, if those three things happened today, they’ve never happened. I’ve never done those three things and been in major discontent. That for me is my checklist.

Tim Ferriss: You mentioned shame. So shame is something I’ve danced with at points, certainly after some childhood experiences. And I know you’ve had your own rounds with various types of shame and so on. I wasn’t planning on going here this early in the conversation, but you recently admitted to a relapse and had a very public conversation about it. If we flash back to your mom’s experience, not wanting to fail, not wanting to admit that this time it hadn’t worked, I view what you did as tremendously—that is coming out and addressing it and putting in place something proactively as a plan to try to mitigate it happening again. Walk me through your experience of deciding to tell, deciding to share. Because psychologically, I can’t speak to what that was like internally, but I’d like to hear it.

Dax Shepard: Yeah. I was very, very hesitant to share it, certainly publicly. One, I had let this 16 years of sobriety become so intertwined with my identity. I mean, I would tell someone within the first half hour of meeting them that I have been sober for 16 years. So it was like so much of my identity was that number. And we fight to protect our identity pretty hard. And I did as well. And then additionally, I have this ego component, which is I so cherished the people who listened to the show who would hear my story of sobriety in recovery, and then maybe try going to a meeting or they got sober. I mean, I’ve gotten hundreds and hundreds of messages from people over the last few years of doing the podcast saying, “Hey man, I’m two months sober because you—thanks for this.” And half of it was just, genuinely, I think that’s an estimable act. So that gave me a ton of self-esteem.

And then my ego’s certainly some percentage of that, which is maybe the unhealthy part of it, which is I liked being a beacon of someone that this program worked for. And I didn’t want to lose that. I didn’t want to not be someone people would look up to and want sobriety from. And as I started telling people closest to me that I had relapsed, a good friend of mine said, “If you’re true in that your real desire is to help people, it’s so much more helpful that you relapsed. You having 16 years and being married to Kristen Bell is not very helpful to anyone. Those aren’t overnight goals that someone would feel like they could relate to you on.” He said, “So if you’re honest and true about this desire to help people, this is very helpful.” And so I really took that advice to heart.

And I also, as you know, there’s something much different for me about listeners and what I call armcherries, than people maybe who saw me in Idiocracy. In Idiocracy you’ve got—Mike Judge is the genius behind that, and it’s his vision that we’re all executing. And if you like the show, you probably like me. I’m very connected to anyone that likes the show. I think they like me, not a character I played. And I couldn’t have a show begging people to be honest about the shitty things that they’ve done, and then not do that in return. But it was really, really hard. And then I had other fears.

Again, this is all in the midst of being actively addicted to opiates. So a lot of the things I would tell you, I know now are not the truth at all. But in those moments, I’m like, “I come out and say I relapsed, I may lose sponsors. I don’t know. I may not get asked to sell Samsung microwaves. I make a living. There’s a financial component that could backfire.”

And I’ll add into it, it’s so not fair my wife that now, every fucking interview she does for the next six months, they’re going to ask her about my relapse. That feels very unfair to me that I would put her in this situation where now she’s got to explain what the hell happened. So those are just all the factors that I was afraid to come clean about.

And then it was an interesting experience doing it because when Monica and I recorded it, I had a lot of control over that. We could edit something out if we didn’t like it. We could not release it. We still had control. And then there was a period where we’re like, “Well, what do we call it?” So I had control over what it was called. We had a control over what day it came out. And then I underestimated that once it was out, it was just out. And then I had no control over it. And one of the reasons I relapsed is I fucking love control. I love to know what mood I will be in. I love to regulate my emotions and my feelings. That’s one thing drugs do is you know how you will feel in 30 minutes. And I desire that.

But I will say, all my fears that they’ve yet to come to pass. I didn’t lose any sponsors. We have this great relationship with Lightlife, it’s a vegetarian meat. I got a huge basket of flowers from them. It said, “We want more than anything to still be in business with you.” So it couldn’t have been nicer. It was humiliating in some ways.

The bottom line is I felt horrendous lying to the people in my life. I had not gaslit people in 16 years, and I was gaslighting people. I was gaslighting people in my life. I was gaslighting a doctor. I was doing it. And I just, I don’t have the stomach for it anymore. I couldn’t do it. Monica was like, “You’re on something.” And then I deny it, deny it, and deny it, and make her feel crazy. And then I feel horrendous about that. That used to not bother me, or I used to be able to do it, but I wasn’t able to do it. And so, whatever downside that there was, which was so minimal, the relief of not looking at people I love and fucking lying to their faces has been infinitely better.

Tim Ferriss: So, your wife has said publicly that you’re also addicted to self-improvement or growth, and that seems to be in your favor. For those people listening who perhaps have battled with addiction or relapsing, what are some of the things you’re putting in place to decrease the likelihood of it happening again? What have you changed?

Dax Shepard: It’s a really interesting experience for me because I’m day 35 or something right now. So the first couple weeks was just kind of really owning that it wasn’t just this last period where I’d had two back-to-back surgeries. I mean, that certainly lit a fire under it, but if I really go back, it started, as I said, in that episode, with having been in a motorcycle accident, having a legit prescription, leaving it in Detroit because I had no one to administer it, going home to take care of my dad who’s dying of cancer. He has Percocet. I take Percocet with my dad. So that’s shady. I’m not really supposed to do that, but I’m justifying that as, well, I have a prescription at home, and fuck it. Also, my dad’s dying and we’re sitting here looking at the lake, and I can kind of justify that. Then I admit it to Kristen, and Kristen doesn’t think I’m a terrible piece of shit over that, and I kind of just work through that.

Then that becomes a little bit of a misleading experience, which is like, oh, yeah, I did that once, and it was no big deal. I didn’t go out and buy more. I didn’t do anything crazy. I didn’t act like an addict. Opiates were never my thing. I have a lot of stupid hobbies, and I get hurt. Maybe two years later I get hurt again, and I have a prescription, and now this time I don’t take them at night when they’re administered to me because they fuck up my sleep, so I just save them, and then in the morning when I get the other administered ones, I now take two because that feels better than the one. So, now we’re getting more shady, but again, not shady enough where I’m ready to go, “Oh, I don’t have 12 years of sobriety over this,” and I willfully allow myself to be misled by all that.

I go, “This isn’t something that I really don’t have control over.” I know what powerlessness feels like. I know what unmanageability feels like. If I drink, there’s no guessing where I’ll be in three days, and if we add coke to that, there’s just no guessing where I’ll be for a week or so. That to me is powerlessness and unmanageability, but this thing is very misleading because I can do my job, I can wake up on time, I can be there with my kids, I can do everything I would do, and for the most part, no one has any idea, and I’m doing all the things I think I need to do. I’m exercising. I’m still doing the fucking checklist, which is ridiculous. I’m being of service, I’m exercising, and I’m going to meetings, but again, now the lies are just—they’re just piling up.

A lie I tell in the morning has to—I need three more by 3:00 to make the first one make sense, and I’m like, “Oh, my god. I forgot how this spirals,” and then that became very clear, that it was unmanageable. I didn’t know who I was telling what to at some point, and then the powerlessness was just—opiates is a gnarly thing to get addicted to because daily, your tolerance goes up. So, even if you’re not even in search of getting higher, you’re just going to have to take more and more and more, and that’s the situation I found myself in pretty quickly into the whole thing, which was just like, I’m taking a tremendous amount now, and I’m going to have a horrendous detox, and I know it. That was not part of the plan. Did I answer your question?

Tim Ferriss: You didn’t, but the backstory is helpful. What are you doing now, or what are some—

Dax Shepard: I’m sorry. I told you the first—yes.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Dax Shepard: So, the first part was—

Tim Ferriss: Some breakers that you put in place.

Dax Shepard: Yeah. So, the first part was just understanding how this thing happened. I needed to get my arms around how did it happen. Well, it happened with all these baby steps, so that was important for me to acknowledge. There’s no wiggle for me. There’s no white lie for me, because the white lie will just—it’ll grow. That’s what it does. It grows. Then secondly, I had to ask myself, what am I trying to escape? What do I find so uncomfortable in my life that I need to confront? That took a couple weeks for me to kind of isolate, and that’s being tackled now. That’s being tackled in therapy, and that’s being addressed. I know, and I’m not really ready to let everyone in the world know what that is for me, but funny enough, the most generic thing in the book, in AA Big Book, is resentments will make us drink. We can’t have them.

For whatever reason, we’re the type of people that we can’t afford to have them, and I had a couple, and they were huge, and I was ignoring them, and I was not wanting to confront them. I’m now in the process of working through all those. So, I think, A, just coming clean, being honest with everybody, and then committing to figuring out why I wanted to escape, and addressing that, which I feel like is happening. Then again, the huge silver lining of this whole story is that I didn’t go drink and do coke, which I didn’t think was possible. I thought if I had the sad one day, I’d be like, “Fuck it. Well, then I want to drink. I miss that.” So I just feel crazy lucky that that compulsion didn’t come over me.

Tim Ferriss: Also, as you’re talking about remaining honest to your listeners, it strikes me that if the only thing that came out of your podcast were the strength of that public accountability with this type of situation, that that would be a huge ROI on starting the podcast. I mean, that’s an incredible point of leverage. You mentioned Monica’s name a few times. For those people who don’t know who Monica is, who is Monica?

Dax Shepard: She is my cohost on Armchair Expert, and her story’s fantastic, which is she was in our friendship circle kind of peripherally, and she let us know she could babysit, so I think about seven years ago maybe she babysat for our firstborn kid a little bit, and then when we had a second kid we kind of brought her on more full-time to help, and then we discovered pretty quickly that she was also a UCB person and was incredibly funny, and a really good writer. So then Kristen started asking her to write things for her, and then she kind of just took over Kristen’s life. If Kristen hosts an award show, Monica writes it. If Kristen does a commercial, she punches it up. She just became—funny enough, some of the stuff I used to do for Kristen, now Monica did. So I was just very thrilled about that. I was like, “Oh, good. We have two writers in the house now.”

So she transitioned from watching the kids to really running Kristen’s whole thing, and then—she was always around, and our hobby would be to argue about political things or a podcast we had just heard or a TV show. We loved debating, and so when I wanted to do a podcast, I thought, oh, this would be so great to have her, both just to be a completely different point of view than my own, and I think it’s also important that it would be a non-white and a non-male point of view, would be helpful, and she had provided that and become the most beloved part of the show. She also fact checks all of my interviews, because I spout facts I learned in college in 1999 that are either not true anymore or I’ve misremembered them. So she has this fact check component, and it’s kind of morphed. Then she had her own show on our network that was as big as our show. So she’s amazing.

Tim Ferriss: So, you poached your wife’s chief of staff for your—

Dax Shepard: I did. I did. We had to have a—it was a really funny conversation because she’s like, “You know I think you’re stealing Monica, right?” and I was like, “Yeah, yeah.” I go, “But we got to go with what’s financially better for everyone.” So, had I not had the financial argument in my corner, I wouldn’t have won it.

Tim Ferriss: Well, let’s double click on Monica’s role a little bit. There’s a large piece from The L.A. Times, and there’s a short mention or an excerpt that I’m going to pull out, which is, “Eventually, Padman came up with a business plan, and together they hashed out rough parameters.” So that refers to the planning stage of the podcast. Could you describe at that point, in the very nascent stages, because you’re very thoughtful, and you’re a very smart guy, also very agile on your feet, very funny, of course, but also very methodical and very analytical if you want to be, and Monica, clearly very smart. What did the business plan and parameters look like in the beginning, when you guys were on the back of a napkin?

Dax Shepard: Yeah. That might be overstated. I think that implies a lot more planning than we actually did, but in a nutshell, two things. I’m a terrible delegator. I have a ton of fear that someone won’t execute something in the same tone that I like. Again, back to me being a control freak. It’s why I went into directing at some point. So, to find someone like her, who I’d watched take over Kristen’s point of view and tone and execute it flawlessly for years, I just felt very safe. It’s the first person I think I’ve ever really just trusted to execute the shared idea. Yeah. I didn’t know everything other than I had been a guest on podcasts. That’s all I knew about podcasts. Rob, too, our other producer, he was very instrumental in this. He was producing another podcast, and I met him on there.

So Monica was meeting with people who have successful podcasts and finding out everything that goes into it, so she really did gather up all that. I just wanted to chat, and she really figured out how to do it, with Rob, who was also very instrumental in it. Then the thing evolves. It becomes something that you couldn’t have foreseen, and you thought you wanted to do one show, but it kind of becomes another show. She’s incredibly helpful in being—it’s just great to have two people who are objective checking each other, because I’m wrong a lot, she’s wrong a lot, but together, there’s a pilot-copiloty thing. I’ll call her the pilot for this, and I’m the copilot. But yeah, she’s just—

I’ll tell you, we didn’t edit when we first started the show, and the result of that was I felt a compulsion to fill every dead second of airtime. I already talk way too much. I’ve steamrolled in this interview, and so I did it even times 10 because I was like, “This person’s thinking for 22 seconds. I got to say something,” and Monica was like, “We need to start editing this show,” and then she started editing the show, and she really then becomes the editor, who’s so in charge of the tone of the show, and it’s her point of view as much as anyone’s because she does do that. I’ve never listened to an episode and thought, what the fuck was she thinking? I’m always like, oh, God, thank God she—she also knows when I go too far, which I go too far quite often, and she saves me.

Tim Ferriss: Just to give people a peek behind the curtain, how do Monica and Rob split responsibilities, just so people have a window into the podcast operation, so to speak, because this is certainly me following my own curiosity. I mean, you’ve built something amazing, you and your team. How do they split responsibilities?

Dax Shepard: Okay. So, I’ll kind of tell you pre-COVID because it’s evolved, obviously. For COVID, it’s changed dramatically, but when we did every interview in-person, Rob was in charge of every audio thing we needed, the hosting site, publishing it. He takes the photographs. He’s really great at graphic design, so he does our look, the yellow thing, and he also does all the merchandising. He designs all the stuff. I mean, Monica and I are involved in it, but he physically makes everything, I assume on Photoshop or something. I don’t even know what he uses.

He is also the liaison between all the technical people that are involved, and then Monica is very much a producer in that she’s dealing with publicists, she’s booking the show quite often, she is on the calls with sponsors and advertisers trying to explain what we do and what we don’t do, and how everyone can be happy, so she’s like—by the time it gets to me, and it’s time for me to read ads, all the things have been handled by Monica, whether that’s just like, “Oh, we don’t actually say that, but he’s happy to do this.”

So she’s in charge of both editing, dealing with all the advertisers, booking, and dealing with getting people. Rob also will get people too. It’s a lot easier for us to get experts than it is celebrities, and our show is Monday, celebrity, Thursday, expert, so experts generally have a book to sell, and that makes it a lot easier. But Monica’s now very dialed in with all these different publicists, and as we’ve had better guests, then more people are interested in all this, and she handled all that. I research. I show up, and I interview people, and I also reach out to people that maybe I have access to that no one else has access to, and on a rare occasion Kristen has to get involved, because people like her a lot more than me.

Tim Ferriss: So the podcast landscape is kind of an elephant graveyard of three-episode podcasts or 10-episode podcasts. Even very well-known people with ostensibly preexisting audiences just tap out frequently, and there are God knows how many, what, 30,000, 50,000, 100,000 new podcasts a week launching. I have no idea. The number is enormous.

Dax Shepard: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: You kind of pole-vaulted very quickly to a dominant position, and you have stayed there, and this is probably a question you’re tired of people asking you, but to what would you attribute that, if you had to speculate, or your best friends or people who know the show really well, if it’s easier to answer that way, what do they attribute it to?

Dax Shepard: Well, we launched really big, which was an advantage that we have over so many people, and we launched very big, or at least I explained it by the fact that Kristen and I did it together, and the episode didn’t go that well, which I think people found very, I don’t know, probably mirror neurony satisfying for anyone who’s in a relationship. So, I had an explanation for why the first episode did really well, and then also, some of my more popular friends, like Kimmel, I think, was on the first batch, and so was Ashton. They were nice enough to help. So when they were a part of the launch, I really kind of attributed it to them and/or the shared interest in Kristen and I as a couple, because we’ve found this out. It would be hard to miss if, say, she posted a picture of herself. Let’s say it gets, I don’t know what, 100,000 likes. She posts a picture of her and I together, it’ll get 300,000 likes, and same for me. There’s a factor of three thing, more than the sum of our parts.

So, I had explained it by that, and I thought for sure it would all fall off as soon as she was not on the show, and my other huge friends were not on the show, and then it just kept working, and I didn’t know why. I don’t know that I fully know why. I think there’s a tremendous amount of luck involved, and also, we get incredible guests. I mean, the guest thing is its own machine, where once Bill Gates is on, someone else who maybe was like, “I don’t know,” some of it becomes self-perpetuating. But I’ll say, and when we talked on the phone I told you this, that I learned a lot when we started doing live shows and we got to actually interact with people who listen to the show, and we’d hear their questions.

As I told you then, I always noticed in Sam Harris’s live shows when people ask questions, it’s a diatribe thesis on some kind of molecular biology. The real goal is clearly I want Sam to think I’m smart, and so what I glean from that is that they like that Sam’s smart. That’s what they like about the show. That’s what I like about the show. I like that he can argue well with other people, and I’m exposed to really smart people. So, when we started taking questions they were almost unanimously, “Oh, my god. I’m sorry I’m wearing this sweatsuit. I wore a skirt, but my thighs were sweating too much because I’m on my period, and I had to go to Ross and buy this stupid sweatsuit for $5. Anyways, I was wondering what your shower routine is.”

Then the next person would get up, “I farted in the thing, and now my friend won’t sit with me,” and it was just like, I was overwhelmed with how vulnerable all these people were. It’s like they led first with something kind of embarrassing or vulnerable about themselves, and it wasn’t until then where I was like, well, then that must be what they like about me, and that must be what they like about the guests when they’re on our show versus other shows, is that they seem to be more vulnerable or something. So, I guess that’s it, and then I guess from that I would conclude it must be rare. It must be rare to hear people be that way, or people wouldn’t be listening.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, especially with the mixture of guests that you have on the show, if that makes any sense. I mean, I think that vulnerability from—real vulnerability, not rehearsed one-or-two-story vulnerability, but true, “I haven’t talked about this before,” vulnerability in—

Dax Shepard: Yeah, realtime?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, realtime, “Oh, shit. I think I just backed into a corner,” vulnerability from both the tier one celebrity and tier one experts is quite uncommon. So, I think that’s—

Dax Shepard: Well, they have a safety net, I’ll add. So everyone that comes on the show, we tell them up front, “You can cut anything out you want. You go home tonight and you’re like, ‘I shouldn’t have told that story about my brother. His feelings will be hurt,'” they just tell us, and we cut it out. So we’re not 60 Minutes or The New York Times. I have no journalistic obligation to not give people the right to cut shit out. Right?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Dax Shepard: So I think what happens is they know that if they say something regrettable, they can just get rid of it, and then upon saying it, I think they realize they feel different than they feared they would feel, or they see from our reaction that we relate, and then they’re maybe not afraid anymore that that came out in that time. It’s like, I know you just published something really intimate, but it’s like, I’ve been molested. When I tell people I’ve been molested, I can just see them, and they’re like, “Oh, wow. He just said that, and no one ran away. Okay. Fuck. I’m going to say it too. Yeah, I was too.” I mean, look, dude. 25 percent, or at least if The Body Keeps the Score is an accurate book, 25 percent of people have had some sexual trauma in their childhood. So any time you’re with four people, one person there had—it’s not rare.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Dax Shepard: 40 percent of kids have experienced physical abuse enough that it left a mark. I mean, these are not rare occurrences, yet we all feel so isolated in them, and unique, and at fault somehow. Yeah. I just think there’s something about if you start, people are inclined to match you.

Tim Ferriss: When we were chatting on the phone, I was asking you how you prepare for episodes, and it seemed to me, and tell me if I’m misremembering this, but just for people out there who might feel like they’re just a collection of weaknesses, that one of your, let’s say, past challenges, dyslexia, is actually a superpower of sorts when it comes to podcast prep because you have such a developed memory that you don’t need to rely overly so on lots and lots and lots of notes, which is part of the reason why I tend not to do video, because I like to look at a lot of notes. I don’t have that retention that you seem to have. Is that a fair description?

Dax Shepard: Yeah. I think what other dyslexics who I’ve met throughout the years, what we seem to share in common—let me back up and say there’s a great chapter in a Malcolm Gladwell book, I want to say in the Goliath book, about for years, and this is what I learned growing up, that dyslexics were twice as likely to end up in prison, which makes total sense because you’re going to fail out of school, and what are your options? But it’s since been revealed that also—this number’s not right, so whatever the number is. You’re also twice as likely to become a CEO. So, it’s like, oh, that’s kind of interesting. It’s like, it can break you, but also, it can become this asset.

So what I’ve found from a lot of other dyslexics is that since you’re not really getting anything off that chalkboard, that’s a roadblock, you’re kind of forced to really develop a great oral memory. So when people tell me a story, I find that I just remember that. I’ll run into people that I haven’t seen in five years, and I’ll be like, “Oh, my god. Didn’t you…” I may remember the story better than they do. So when I research and I think out my thoughts, as I’m learning about them, questions pop up, and I kind of jot them down on paper, but just the act of me writing them, they’re pretty much in there then. Yeah, that must be a result of that dyslexia background, where I can hold onto that, although it’s getting worse. I’ll add that. I have two kids, and I’m getting older, and I was on opiates for a few months.

Tim Ferriss: Chipping away at the old prefrontal cortex.

Dax Shepard: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: You give your guests final cut. That’s also something I do. I’m actually, frankly, surprised that more shows don’t make that explicit. It’s kind of shocking to me. I ended up modeling that on Inside the Actors Studio because early on—

Dax Shepard: Oh, cool.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Early on, I was introduced to someone who used to do research for Inside the Actors Studio, and I hired them to review transcripts of some of the early episodes of my show to try to identify where I was sloppy, where I could improve, et cetera, which was a really useful exercise. So the question for you is how have you thought about working on interviewing, or how have you most improved as an interviewer since starting the show?

Dax Shepard: I’m still really bad at this. I still give myself a C, but I used to be an E because I talk way too much. It’s as if I met you at a bar, and I want your approval, and I’m aware of that, and I’m trying to get your approval. So I’ve talked less and less and less over the last few years, and it gets better and better the less I talk. But again, I will justify it a little bit in that I am so often trying to enact vulnerability, which requires me to go first. It’s almost like an AA meeting where it’s like I share first, and then maybe you’re compelled to share back. So, it’s kind of required, and then we get into this tricky situation where—I mean, it’s tricky for Monica, is how many fucking times can they hear me tell this story?

They got to be so bored of it, but at the same time, the guest I have doesn’t listen to the show, so they’ve not heard it, and then I also feel like it’s mildly unethical to cut out the part where I say I was molested, and then just cut right to them going, “Yeah, I was not.” So it’s a little dicey. It’s not perfect by any stretch, and I do end up talking more than probably people would prefer. But yeah, I’ve gotten more and more comfortable with it. I think also, originally when I started interviewing experts, I am intimidated by them. I mean, I’m talking to Richard Dawkins. I read Selfish Gene and just thought, how could someone have thought of that, 20 years of thinking this guy’s brilliant. So my own fragile ego wants him to know, “I get your books, so I’m going to waste so much of this interview letting you know I get your book.” And I just, I don’t try to prove with the person I’m smart, which is very hard again with the dyslexia baggage. I have a chip on my shoulder that everyone thinks I’m dumb. No matter how much proof I get to the contrary, I still have to work through that fear.

Tim Ferriss: So if you used to give yourself an E and now you give yourself a C, aside from—your words, not mine—talking too much, what is improved and what do you most want to improve? Or is it just the volume of talking? Are there other aspects?

Dax Shepard: You know, one thing I’ll say that has evolved is I was trying too hard at the beginning to get people to be sharing something we never heard. Here is what happens, I’m always in a meeting with other dudes and I hear some person share. And I think God, I’m so lucky to hear men talk about this. I don’t think anyone not in AA gets to experience this. And so I want everyone to have that. And so then the people I have on, I wanted them having no AA experience, I want them to jump right into that. And so I think I pushed pretty hard at the beginning and I’ve laid off. And then sometimes I think, have I laid off too much? But I am getting more confident when it’s going to be that type of interview. That’s great. It’ll be that type of interview. I follow them more.

I try really hard not to follow more than I previously tried to lead, because they just get repetitive. I have all these insecurities. I think we related a little bit on this, just like there was a while there where I was just looking at how many listeners we have and I’m just waiting for it to drop. I’m like, “Well, this is going to drop.” I know the inevitable trajectory of all things.

Even hit TV shows. They just slowly and precipitously lose and there’s better shows out there. And then I get distracted, all these things. And I just had to stop thinking about that. I just had to remember I did this with no expectations. I didn’t think a lot of people listen, I just loved talking, just fucking enjoy talking and then things will happen one way or another. And so I’ve semi successfully gotten out of them.

I haven’t asked Rob what the numbers are in probably a year. Maybe the first month of COVID. I was like curious what that had done, but since then I haven’t asked and that’s kind of a good barometer for me of how healthy I am and how much I’m getting my esteem from the right place. And now I just think, do I love talking to that person or not?

Tim Ferriss: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe in doing prep for this, that I read somewhere, that it was confusing to you in a sense to see the podcast achieve escape velocity, and become this juggernaut while not working on it as hard as you had in other things that had produced less stellar results. And my question is, do you think that is just something inherent to the format or is there some aspect of you hitting your zone of genius and flow precisely because you are not trying extremely hard?

Dax Shepard: I mean, that could certainly be it. I think there’re other factors too. The example I gave was that I’m used to directing a movie where it’s a two-year endeavor, like CHiPs for me was at least two and a half years of my life where that’s all I did. And then the whole outcome’s decided on a Friday by 3:00 p.m., I know if I’ve completely wasted two and a half years of my life in that respect. I enjoyed the process so much, but in that respect, yeah. Not the outcome I wanted at all. And that’s happened to me twice on two different movies where I gave it two years of my life and then it just floundered. So just show up and do something for three hours’ work. The work felt very like something’s too good to be true here.

I think I had a lot of that going like, this isn’t how it works. I’m supposed to sit in hair and makeup for an hour, which I don’t want to do. And I’ve got to learn a bunch of lines and then I’ve got to tediously shoot this scene and all these things, and this is like, “No, sit down, shoot the shit, and bow.” And it works. It’s just very confusing. It’s hard to understand why it would work. But I think some I didn’t even know what expectations to have. I didn’t know enough about podcasting to know if I was a failure or a success. I can tell you what a successful comedy movie is that you spent 25 million on. I know you have to get 13.5 that opening weekend, but I didn’t really know that. So I wasn’t even thinking about it.

It’s probably the thing in my life that has been purest in that it was really just about the experience and not about the results. And then lo and behold, I ended up with good results when I didn’t care, which is so confusing. I tried to tell this I have no advice for actors, but one is just, you’ve got to somehow convince yourself. You don’t care. If you get cast in this thing, it’s the only way you’ll be good in the audition. So you got to somehow trick yourself. I don’t know how you’re going to do it, but I found a method for me to do it. And that kind of seems to be the case here.

Tim Ferriss: What is your method?

Dax Shepard: To throw myself in?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Dax Shepard: Well, a couple of things I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve cast things now. And I do know now that so often it’s not about how good or bad it gets. It is people are right or wrong for stuff. Someone could have been much better at it in theory, but they’re just not right. There is something, I don’t know what it is. So recognizing it’s not personal helped from being on the other side of it. And then also tricking myself into, if I love acting, if that’s what I’m claiming I am, as someone who loves to act, and audition is just an opportunity to go act. I get to go act and that’s something I’m supposed to love. So if I don’t love going and acting in front of people, then I’m probably doing the wrong thing.

So to see the audition itself is an end in itself. Like I get to go act. And then I also have this point of view now, which is like, I’m going to show you what I would love to do in this movie or TV show. And you may or may not like that. And that may or may not be right for this TV show and that’ll be okay, because I really only want to do this thing. And so getting ownership over, it’s like, I’d like to go be in your movie and act like this and that may or may not work for you. I won’t take it personally, as I hope you won’t take it personally that I don’t want to go and shove a banana peel up my ass to get a laugh. That’s just not what I want to do. So maybe neither of us want to do what each other wants to do, but occasionally those things are going to overlap beautifully.

And the more I’m excited to go show them this interpretation I have of this writing. And that’ll be that. Just the outcomes got a lot better once I switched into that mindset. I think that goes for a job interview too, by the way.

Tim Ferriss: For sure.

Dax Shepard: I think you can go there, show them who you actually are. You’re better off being at the job where you being actually you is wanted, than you trying to be fucking Eddie Haskell and everyone finds out eight months later. Oh, guess what? This guy does not like doing research on the weekends. That’s not his bag.

Tim Ferriss: So you have this incredible podcast, I mean, I’ll speak for my podcast. An incredible ROI, right? Like you said, it’s not two and a half years in, and then you find out on Friday, whether it succeeded or failed. I mean it’s three hours in and more, more likely than not. Once you have a loyal audience, it’s going to succeed on some level.

Dax Shepard: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Has that changed what you say yes and no to? And how do you decide which projects or invitations to say yes to now? How has that changed if at all?

Dax Shepard: It’s given me this insane freedom because I also grew up quite broke for a period of time. And my family was very obsessed with climbing the financial ladder. So I’m obsessed with money and I have great fear and financial insecurity, completely irrational. I’ve had numbers throughout my whole life. I had this amount of number, I feel safe. If had this amount of money, I’ll feel safe. And then I never felt safe. So first I just want to own that It’s a complete fear, but having a source of income that has nothing to do with movies or television or commercials is so liberating for me because now I’m lucky enough to only do stuff that I am excited to do. I don’t actually have to think about the financial component. I wouldn’t do something motivated out of financial insecurity, which is very new for me, it’s three years old.

I would always be tempted to take a movie I liked less if the payday was twice as much, and I’ve interviewed a couple people that grew up with wealth and I’ve watched them navigate their career and I’ve been envious of it. Nick Kroll comes to mind. He has so much creative integrity. He just does what fascinates him. I think he’s had opportunities to do bigger things or bigger paydays. And he’s just always stayed on his path of what entertains him. And I just envied that. And he grew up with a ton of money. He said when I interviewed him, his fucking dad drove him to school in the limousine like Mr. Drummond. So I’m experiencing that to a degree, which is I just get to do things I’m really excited about today and that could totally change. The podcast could go away. I could be back, but currently I get to do things I’m super interested in. All right or I don’t do them.

Tim Ferriss: We all have fears. I have fears. You have fears that you’ve certainly spoken about very publicly. If we look at your podcast, and my understanding is it skews female, in terms of listenership, you have clearly struck a chord with the leading with vulnerability. Do you ever fear straying outside of that or operating too far outside of a template that appeals to your core listenership, or does that not cross your mind?

Dax Shepard: Well, no, it totally does. I’m trying to be as smart about this thing as I can. I, A, don’t want to lose it, and B, I would like to grow it. And so we’re in this great situation where you and I have a laboratory and we can try things for very little investment. Right? I’ll tell you an example that just happened is I got interested in conspiracy theories as a result of having Bill Gates on and seeing all these crazy comments. I really had no idea what the hell they meant. “Save the children. He’s a pedophile.” what is going on, right? I got really fascinated with conspiracy theories. So I said to Rob, “Hey, find us a conspiracy theory expert.” And he found this guy, David Farrier, I can’t pronounce his last name. I can spell it for you.

But he directed this documentary Tickled that I love. And he also has a show on Netflix called Dark Tourist. And he is a journalist who investigates a conspiracy. So I’m talking to him and I’m having the most amount of fun I’ve had interviewing somebody in two years, it’s just candy. And so I’m loving it. And then we can kind of see from the results of that episode, that people also loved it. And I’m like, “Well, fuck, I’d love to talk to that guy once a month.” And so I call him, like, “Do you want to do this once a month?” And like, they’ll pay you, you’d be a part of the show. And he’s like, “Yeah, I’m up for that.” And then we saw the response. So it’s like, “Oh, that’s awesome.” That just kind of presented itself and revealed itself.

And so I can’t wait to do that. And then we’ve had a couple different things like that, where it’s just, oh, it worked for us. And then it appears it worked for the audience, so let’s do that again. And I have the 300-mile goal of I’d love to do this show four days a week. I would love to give people what I get from Howard Stern, which is like, oh, I’m following this story. You know, in a dream world, Monday is candy at some super famous person you like, and then Thursday is protein, it’s the experts, but maybe Friday is we give you some weird topics we just learned about that it gives you something to talk about on the weekend at your barbecue. I’d love each day to have its own thing and not get stagnant and stay interesting. And I have some faith that those things will present themselves the way this conspiracy thing did.

Tim Ferriss: So the podcast and when I say the podcast, just to be clear, people from talking about Dax’s podcast is so successful and so reliable and so appealing to so many sponsors. If you wanted to make the decision tomorrow to do it every day, you could, right? It supports you enough that you could do that. So why wait, why not do that sooner? I’m not saying you should, or shouldn’t.

Dax Shepard: yeah.

Tim Ferriss: I’m just curious.

Dax Shepard: Well, I have a kind of commitment to just to do it, right? So like this David thing as a perfect example like, “Oh, I loved it and I want to do it a lot now.” And I don’t want to just arbitrarily fill up days. I want to make sure that I’m passionate about each day and excited to switch gears from an interview to maybe something more journalistic or whatever it is. And so I am committed to that to making sure that I’m super crazy passionate about it. And then also I have some outstanding obligations. I’m on a show Top Gear that’ll come out in maybe January and I have 12 more, I’ve got a film starting in February, and I have a game show my wife and I are going to do. So there’re certain things that I’ll have to just be mindful of making sure that they can fit within a schedule where I’m still doing four a week or something.

But so I guess I see myself maybe not taking any more on-air shit or on-camera stuff and just doing this all the time, because it is my favorite thing to do. Although Top Gear‘s insane, I just go there and I horse around in fast cars that someone else owns. And then I leave and I don’t have to deal with anything. I don’t have to put new tires on the back of it, and people are excited when I act like a jackass. So that would be hard to walk away from as well.

Tim Ferriss: Howard Stern.

Dax Shepard: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: I know you have a lot of respect for Howard Stern. Why do you have so much respect for him and how are you guys different or similar?

Dax Shepard: Yeah, it’s really interesting because I only liked him a bit when he was on terrestrial radio. I was never up that early and I didn’t commute anywhere. So I had to like turn it on in my house, which it was a foreign concept to me. But once he was on satellite radio, I could choose when I listened to him because it just replays. And he had also evolved enough. I don’t think I would have been on board for throwing baloney at girls’ asses and stuff. That wasn’t really my jam. What I really immediately loved about him is what an amazing interviewer he is. He’s just such a great interviewer. And I love that I still find this very intriguing about him is that his fan base is, I would guess, opposite of mine.

I think it’s mostly dudes. And so here’s this guy who has this kind of dude fan base and there’s a lot of sexual stuff yet he does transcendental meditation. He doesn’t really drink. He eats perfect. He’s in love with his wife. And it’s just monogamous to the core. I loved this dichotomy of him. I thought it’s interesting that he’s speaking to all these guys yet he is seemingly kind of different than his fan base. And I also credit him for doing more for gay rights, something I always cared a lot about. It doesn’t help when Lena Dunham gives a speech about gay rights; her fans already feel that way. They already are in step with her. It’s not going to convert anyone. And I always just applauded him being so embracing of gay rights when his fan base, I don’t think was that way. That, I just think that enacted way more progress than the left talking to the left. And I think he’s done that kind of bravely with like, supporting Hillary and having her on the show. Most of his fans don’t want to hear Hillary. So I just love that he like kept the ear of people open and was very soft and gentle with evolving real time himself. And he’s had so much personal evolution and I think taking his audience along for that ride in a really unique way, I don’t think too many people have done that.

Tim Ferriss: When you listen to a Stern interview, because you mentioned he’s an excellent interviewer; I would agree with that. For you, what does that mean? What are some of the telltale signs or clues or characteristics where you’re like, “God damn, that’s really good.”

Dax Shepard: Well, the thing that you’re almost guaranteed to get in every single Stern interview is the person’s going to say something they’ve never said before. Like if I’m a huge fan of Bill Murray or I’m a huge fan of Letterman, what could be more fascinating than Stern talking to Letterman? He doesn’t talk to anybody. And the notion that you’re going to learn something about them that doesn’t exist anywhere else is exciting. He has a monopoly on that. And then also his passionate interest in people is infectious. And there are many people he’s had on that I think I don’t like them going into it. And I’ve got to say, with the exception of maybe three of his guests—and I’ve listened to several hundred interviews—I liked the person more after he talks to them.

There’s only a few times I was like, “Oh, that person’s kind of a dick.” I wasn’t expecting that. It generally goes the other way. What I like about that is I do believe that all these people we disagree with or they are divisive, I do believe if we were stuck somewhere with them and talked to them for two hours, that just the humanity takes over. We’re so much more similar than we are different. And I just find his thing oddly life-affirming and encouraging like, oh, yeah, I thought this person was this. They’re a person who’s afraid their kids are going to turn out shitty and this and that; I liked that experience.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. He is incredibly skilled and, however you put it—throwing baloney at chicks’ asses—he can do that, too.

Dax Shepard: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tim Ferriss: He’s a connoisseur of that. I remember growing up, seeing him on TV and there’d be like lesbians at 2:00 a.m. with Snapple commercials. That was my memory of it, was being 12 years old and having insomnia and watching Howard Stern on television. But when he wants to turn up the dial on Jedi interviewer, I remember listening to his Sheryl Crow interview and being really impressed with just how well he navigates with so much due diligence and preparation, but not seeming like he’s reading off of any type of script, extremely skilled. I read, related to Howard, and I want you to fact check this, but you wouldn’t want to invite him on the show because you wouldn’t want to feel like you owed him a favor or he was doing it as a favor. if I’m getting that right? Could you expand on that, please?

Dax Shepard: Yes.

Tim Ferriss: I mean, because if Howard Stern came to me and said, I’ll be on your show, but you have to like be a clown at my kid’s bat mitzvah, I’d be like, sure, I’m in. Fine!

Dax Shepard: No, I’d be delighted to owe him a favor. Don’t get me wrong. I would want to owe him a favor, but I wanted to add one thing, a gift he has that you and I don’t have, which is he is the most skilled. There’s no question. Also, he has a status that you and I don’t have that actually has, no matter who he’s interviewing, in deep desire of his approval, which is incredible.

Tim Ferriss: Well sure.

Dax Shepard: I think Letterman had that. People go out there and they really wanted Dave—I certainly was dying for Dave to like me when I was on the show. It was way more about getting him to like me than whatever was happening with the audience or what movie I was supposed to promote. With a singular goal, I want Dave Letterman to like me. And I think he benefits from that a lot, Howard Stern.

I know I wanted him to like me when I went up. I don’t think when people sit down with you or I, it’s going to make or break their year, whether we ultimately liked them or not. So I think we have more of an uphill battle, but I just know as a fan of the show and someone who knows him personally, he doesn’t want to do anything, and I get it. But you know, I want to do less and less. And I imagine with more and more success, I want to do even less. And so I know he doesn’t want to be on this show. I have faith that if he were on it, he’d enjoy himself and not regret it as much as he thought he was going to, but I just know he doesn’t want to. I have his email.

I’ve never asked him to be on the show. I will never ask him to be on the show. Hopefully—I have said to Baba Booey once, “Look, he’s promoting this book. Our audience fucking buys books, man.” That’s why we get experts. There’s a huge uptick, if someone comes on the show, with book sales, so I’m not even saying, “I want a favor.” I’m just saying, “If you want to sell a lot of books, the door’s open,” and I just left it at that. But that was as far as I would go with inviting him.

Tim Ferriss: I know Howard Stern would be a dream guest for a lot of people. He doesn’t want to be a dream guest!

Dax Shepard: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Do you have any dream guests you have not already reached out to, right? Is there anyone where you’re like one day?

Dax Shepard: Well, I’ve got to say, the most shocking event of my life—it’s the only guest I’ve ever called my mom to brag about that I knew was coming was Bill Gates. I saw that documentary on Netflix. I don’t know if you’ve seen that? Inside Bill’s [Brain]?

Tim Ferriss: I haven’t.

Dax Shepard: I guarantee if you give it five minutes, you’re going to plow through all four episodes.

Tim Ferriss: Okay, I’m it.

Dax Shepard: It’s so good. He is one of the most fascinating people to ever live on planet Earth. There’s no question. So I am obsessed with him and we didn’t invite him on. I just talk about him a lot because I’m obsessed with him and someone from his team called and said, “Would you guys want Bill Gates?” And Monica called, better than if she had just hit the lottery, she’s like, “You are not going to believe who just asked to be on the show!”

And my first thought was like, Obama or Bill Gates. Like, who would I not believe? It was fucking Bill Gates. And I think he was the number one guy I would have wanted to talk, of course I would love to talk to Obama. I mean, that would be awesome. And then Bill Murray, I’m pretty obsessed with Bill Murray and I know he doesn’t do anything either. So the odds of that happening are very slim. But I would love to talk to Bill Murray. He’s a North Star, like I said. I brought him up at the beginning, like breathe, believe in yourself, be calm, It’ll happen.

Tim Ferriss: Perhaps another cliched question, but I’m going to ask, because I know people would enjoy hearing the answer. And that is for people who ask you for advice related to podcasting, because you must get it all the time from friends also, “I’m thinking of starting a podcast, I just started a podcast, I’m going to start a podcast.” Let’s just assume you want to spend a little bit of time and give an answer because they’re a close friend. What do you say to them?

Dax Shepard: Well, it’s interesting. Because I think that the friends of mine who have reached out, they’re a little bogged down in the idea, right? In the concept. And I don’t think that’s the most relevant aspect, to be honest. I don’t think, like, if you give a one-line description of why Howard Stern has been on the radio for 40 years successfully, it’s not like, shock jock who’s not afraid to throw baloney, I don’t know how you sum that up. The concept is irrelevant. It’s him. And if you look at why he’s so successful is that he’s just fucking brutally honest. He tells everyone what he’s thinking, embarrassing stuff.

I remember one time, this was so great, he came in, it was a Monday morning show. He was grumpy all morning and Robin’s like, “You’re grumpy, huh?”

And he’s like, “Yeah. Yeah, I’ve been grumpy for two days. Why did I get grumpy? I was sitting—oh, my God, I know when I got grumpy. It was right after I took a dump. I know what happened. I was reading a fucking article that said ‘Ashton Kutcher has a billion dollars.’ And I was like, ‘How the fuck… ‘”

Mind you, he’s friends with Ashton, so the fact that he’s acknowledging that would piss him off. I guess he has $500 million. It’s so wonderful. Like here’s a guy with $500 million, sitting in a very nice toilet presumably, and he’s agitated that this other guy has a billion dollar. It’s so human and wonderful. I think most people would hide that about themselves. They wouldn’t own that they’re that shitty and petty.

And so I guess when people call me, I’m like, “Yeah, the concept’s great and blah, blah, blah.” I may have a note or two about sustainability of a concept. I’ll just go, “It feels a little limited to me, because won’t that be done in 10 episodes? Or won’t that be done in 40,” whatever. But mostly I just say, “If you’re going to do it, you’ve got to make the decision that you’re going to be a hundred percent honest, or it’s not worth doing. And I don’t think it’ll work.”

And so often the people that are calling me or other public people, so that’s kind of a big barrier for them, understandably. I just don’t know that it works unless you are—maybe, I mean, if you have a procedural show like, let’s say, Making a Murder. Or not Making a Murder, but those wonderful women who have the best podcast—My Favorite Murder. If you’re recovering a case every time, yeah, I think maybe you could have a premise-driven one, but you better be a Radiolab or This American Life, and you’ve got a team of journalists that are going to go out there and build this incredible show over the course of six weeks and edit it into 90 minutes. But if you’re just going to drive the show, if you’re the content, then it better be like being your best friend or I just don’t think it’ll work.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Dax Shepard: What are you thinking about right now?

Tim Ferriss: Well, I’m thinking that you have to like the format you choose. If you don’t like the format you choose, you’re just not going to have the endurance also to do it for a long period of time. And you’re going to be, if you are competitive, and maybe that doesn’t matter, maybe you’re just doing it for the love of the game and you don’t care if anyone listens, but if you want to break through the noise, you need a certain degree of enthusiasm and endurance, both of which will be lacking if you don’t enjoy the format you choose. It just seems so—

Dax Shepard: I agree.

Tim Ferriss: —fundamental as a decision. You [crosstalk]—

Dax Shepard: Well, and by the way, I’ve talked to some friends where they’re like, “Oh, I want it to be about X, Y, and Z.”

And I’ll go, “I’m just going to point out I’ve known you for 12 years, you’ve never brought that topic up to me. But I can tell you the topic you bring up all the time, which is home furnishing. I know you think because you’re a director or an actor or this, you should be talking about that, but you love home furnishing. That’s what I know you like to talk about nonstop. Why isn’t that what your show is?”

I think first you’ve just got to go, “What am I endlessly talking about?” And I know I don’t go eight minutes into a conversation at any party where I haven’t asked, “Did you get molested?” Or they say something and I think, “Oh, I’m just curious—oh, it was one of your parents—I noticed your husband, he’s very quiet. Was your dad quiet?” That’s all I’m interested in. I want to know why we’ve all landed in these spots, and I think the clues are in your childhood. That’s all I talk about at parties, and then that’s all I talk about on the podcast.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. You’re not changing wardrobe too much in terms of going on the show. You appear to be a voracious reader and you read a whole lot, it seems. Are there any particular books that you gift to other people or recommend more than others?

Dax Shepard: Yeah, there’s a number one. I can’t stop talking about it. I’ve read it three times now. I will read it again soon, is Titan, the Ron Chernow book about John D. Rockefeller.

Tim Ferriss: Rockefeller.

Dax Shepard: Have you read that book?

Tim Ferriss: I haven’t. I’ve seen the cover.

Dax Shepard: Ooh. I’ve got to tell you, for someone I can already tell, like you, I’m blown away with the fact that you would have had someone go over your transcripts and point out things that you’re doing wrong or that you would listen to find the errors. It was such a specific commitment to betterment, which is fascinating and obviously very inspiring, that’s why people adore you. I would have guessed Rockefeller was one way, and then in this book I learned he’s almost the opposite of everything I would have guessed about him, and that his approach to all these things was so unique and so confident. I don’t know how this guy got this confidence.

When he was running Standard Oil, which is a feat that’ll never be accomplished again, I mean the level of what he accomplished is insane. But early on in the company, he set up a couch in his boardroom. He’s a big believer in naps. Every day, he napped for a long time. And he would have all the board members at the table, but he’d be laying on a couch. And he’d doze in and out, and he listened to them talk. And then he’d just pop up with like one idea, and that was good for him, and then he’d walk home early that day.

He was not what I would have thought. And just his weird confidence, I just loved it. And then all of the things he has impacted, there’s not been an American that’s had a bigger impact on life than him. There was no research medicine. That didn’t exist. He funds the first research medical facility. He’s the one who says, “Man, if you go get a procedure in Tennessee, those doctors have a totally different set of knowledge than the ones in New York. No one’s doing the same thing. Why is that? Oh, because of all these medical schools, they don’t have a unified curriculum. Okay, who has the best curriculum in the country? Johns Hopkins. What if I take that curriculum and I pay universities to adopt it?”

He unifies medicine. He gets rid of hookworm. He just tackled anything. He was so cocky and confident in the things he tackled and he succeeded. He’s just an amazing person. I can’t read that book enough.

Tim Ferriss: You’ve read it three times. You might read it again. What do you get—because there’s an information appeal, learning the bio and so on, but you have a great memory. You probably get that after two passes. What do you gain from reading it a third time, a fourth time?

Dax Shepard: Well, funny enough, it’s a big book so I do forget a lot of the stuff.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, this is not a Charlie Brown strip. These are big books.

Dax Shepard: Even as I’m talking to you, there was a period where he somehow took over all the shipping routes on Lake Erie, and I can’t remember right now the exact mechanics of how he did that, and so that will interest me. Like, how again did he get a monopoly of the Lake Erie ship—? That’s interesting. I’m going to want to find that out.

Yeah, I can’t explain it. It’s kind of just kind of like watching a favorite movie. It’s like I enjoy it each time around. And then also, I always recommend all the Jon Krakauer books. He’s my favorite writer probably. Yeah, I wouldn’t even know what you want to say is the best. Where Men Win Glory is an incredible book. Have you read that one?

Tim Ferriss: I have not, mm-mm (negative). Excellent writer, though.

Dax Shepard: You’ll see a theme here. I love when I find out something’s opposite of what I thought. It’s why I like Malcolm Gladwell, right? Every single chapter is about some common sense assumption that we find out through testing is counterintuitive. I find that to be the most pleasing experience of going, “Oh, my God, I’m dead wrong about that. I would have thought—that doesn’t make any sense. I love that.”

Pat Tillman. I remember when Pat Tillman quit the NFL and joined the army because he wanted to go to Afghanistan. And when I heard that, I thought, “What could explain that?” Here were my guesses: He’s either a religious zealot and this is a crusade against Islam, or two, this guy has done something so dark in his past that he has to atone in this insane way. Those are my only guesses.

I read that book Where Men Win Glory, and it’s the Pat Tillman story. And I find out quickly, it’s not any of those things at all. And that this person had this level of integrity I certainly don’t possess and I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that has this level of integrity. Real quick, he was like the last round pick to the Arizona Cardinals. He becomes one of the best safeties in the league. He gets offered $8 million to go to St. Louis on a four-year contract; Arizona will only give him a one-year contract for like a million bucks, and he stays in Arizona. He’s like, “These people bet on me when no one would. I’m going to stay and get less money with less security because they deserve that.” I wouldn’t have done that. I would’ve fucking been shopping for a house in St. Louis or whatever team.

And thing after thing in his life was like that. And so just this incredible human that I’ve never gotten to meet in real life that I get to meet through this book, and it’s opposite of everything I assumed. He wasn’t a jingoistic patriot. In fact, he got immediately disillusioned because he got deployed to Iraq instead of Afghanistan. He didn’t think we should be in Iraq. Then he goes to Afghanistan, he’s killed in friendly fire. There’s a cover up. His brother uncovers it, and the family, and they speak out about it. They’re like, “You will not use him as the poster boy for the military because he was misled and lied to, and then he was killed by a friend.” That’s wild.

Tim Ferriss: It’s Titan by Chernow, also at the top of the list. I’ll trade a recommendation, not that you need more.

Dax Shepard: Please.

Tim Ferriss: But Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, if you haven’t read that. I can’t recall the author offhand.

Dax Shepard: Hold on, I got to write it down on my [inaudible]. I can’t spell Genghis Khan, but I’ll figure it out. Genghis Khan

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. I’ll also—

Dax Shepard: And what’s the subtitle? Genghis Khan and what?

Tim Ferriss: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.

Dax Shepard: Oh, wow, this is right up my alley.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, this book, it sounds like will be right up your alley. It was recommended to me. I’m not going to name his name because I don’t know if he would want it to be named, but recommended to me by one of the best-known CEOs in the United States. And it’s outstanding. And if you want to talk about a portrayal of a person and their role in history that is counter to almost everything you might believe and all the preconceptions you might have, just the first 50 pages will leave you just absolutely dazzled by how much of an impact on things we take for granted now Genghis Khan had. That’s a good read.

Dax Shepard: Can I just tell you, I have almost no knowledge of him other than, didn’t he invent the shock troop, the stirrupped rider on a horse utilizing the mass of the horse to strike other soldiers? Was that his big invention, warfare wise?

Tim Ferriss: There were a lot of military innovations. I don’t recall using the weight of the horse. Certainly, he was very good at amassing and building an army by absorbing the engineers and warriors of the conquered. He was also very tolerant, even supportive of all religions as long as they made sure to pray for Genghis Khan at some point.

Dax Shepard: Uh-huh (affirmative). Sure, that’s a small request.

Tim Ferriss: And from a logistics standpoint, I mean, the type of warfare using these—I mean, his scouting missions would defeat some of the most capable armies in the world. These were like advanced teams that were scouting and they would defeat armies. They would be considered the US or China of its day in terms of military power. His impact and the impact of his activities on logistics, I mean, ranging from postal services to beyond—

Dax Shepard: Wow.

Tim Ferriss: —and just the sheer magnitude of what he did even compared to Alexander the Great. I mean, it’s staggering. It’s a cool read. It’s a really cool read.

Dax Shepard: And don’t they say like some actual percentage of people on planet Earth have his genes?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, there’s some absurd percentage that gets cited.

Dax Shepard: Is that apocryphal or is that real?

Tim Ferriss: I would need Monica to fact check that. I think it might be apocryphal, but who knows? I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me and it would also not surprise me if it were exaggerated, but—

Dax Shepard: Well, I have a salacious personal experience I’ll tell you about that is probably inflammatory. But Marlon Brando had that island down in Bora Bora and my wife shot a movie there, and we were there for six weeks and I got to all the little islands in the atoll. I had gone on diving things and I met a lot of locals. And it is rumored there that he had had like a dozen or so kids, right? And I’m telling you, this is very anecdotal, but I personally met several people that were clearly half Brando and half Tahitian, I guess. And I thought, wouldn’t it be hilarious if all of a sudden, not unlike when the Samoans overtook the NFL, if all of a sudden there was just a sweep at the Oscars for like a decade?

Tim Ferriss: Stranger things have happened.

Dax Shepard: He might amount for some percentage there in Bora Bora.

Tim Ferriss: Well, Dax, this has been a lot of fun. I want to ask just a few more questions and then wrap up for this round one. You’ve been very forthcoming with a lot of your challenges over time. You do something that I respect a great deal, which is not leading with solely the highlight reel. I think that that’s a real service to people who are suffering, as we all are in various ways, often self-inflicted wounds. And I wanted to know if you have perhaps a favorite failure? And what I mean by that is a mistake or something at the time that you viewed as a failure, that in some way set you up for success later. If there’s anything that you gained from tremendously, that at the time seemed like a shortcoming or a failure or a mistake?

Dax Shepard: I mean, the one that jumps out immediately and is most relevant to this conversation is, I was heartbroken when CHiPs didn’t open. Because back to my identity crisis, I had a three-year stretch where in my mind I decided I wasn’t an actor anymore. I was a writer-director, and I liked that. It felt loftier. Well, and substantively, I feel a lot more pride over having written a script than having acted. I do think it’s harder, so some of it’s worthwhile. But I had decided I was a writer-director and that was going to be the next 10 years of my life. CHiPs had tested really high at Warner Brothers, and they immediately put me on another movie that I took over from some other people, and so I was doing that.

And then overnight that ended. I did not have that identity anymore. And they had already commissioned CHiPs 2. I was already beginning to write that. And I got very depressed for three or four months, maybe more. I started doing math and thinking, “Okay, could I retire now? Could I be done now? Live on this amount of money?” Blah, blah, blah. That’s what I was spending most of my time thinking about is whether I was completely done.

And that’s when I wanted to do the podcast. I was ruminating on so much stuff. I was thinking about my own life and identity and trajectory and the failure, and then I started it in the wake of that. And I think because I was so interested in failure at that time—I say often on the podcast, I have nothing to learn from someone holding an Emmy over their head. I’ll never be holding an Emmy over my head, but I can relate if that person cheated on someone they loved and regretted it. I can relate to the failures that led up to that. That’s something I can learn from. And that’s how I learned from people in AA. I don’t ever learn from someone telling some victory story, it’s always how they fucked up and realized it.

And so now in hindsight, had I had the thing I wanted, which was being a writer-director, it’s so time-consuming. My kids were one and three when I finished that movie, maybe two and four; and I would have been gone. I would have taken bigger movies. I would have been way more into that. Ironically, I would have ended up making less money.

This thing that I had no desire to do and this complete collapse of this identity I had and desire turned out to be something that allows me to be with my kids a ton. I’m at home all the time. My wife can take work out of town if she wants. I can travel and do this. This life that came out of this epic failure, this 20-year pursuit, turned out to be something better than I had even thought to imagine. I didn’t even know that this could exist.

Yeah, that’s a very obvious one for me now that I look back and go like, “Fucking thank God that thing failed.” I would have been writing that movie, then directing that movie, then trying to get them to give me $100 million to do this one. Well, and by the way, the movie business is collapsing, so I would have been doing all that in a time it’s almost impossible to do that. Yeah, I got so lucky in that thing not performing, crazy enough.

Tim Ferriss: What a story. It makes me think of something a friend of mine said, I can’t recall who it was, but sometimes you need life to save you from what you want.

Dax Shepard: oh, yeah, yeah.

Tim Ferriss: I mean, what a great story.

Dax Shepard: Well, even if you go through your own life, right, and you think of the times you got exactly what you wanted and then the times you didn’t get the thing you wanted. And what I know most is that I don’t know what’s best for me. The things I got that I wanted did not turn out or result in anything I had forecasts or dreamt of; and yet, all these things I didn’t want to do.

I didn’t want to be on TV. I had decided in my egotistical mind I was a movie actor. I didn’t want to be in TV. I reluctantly was on this show Parenthood because I was at a lull in my career. Best experience I’ve ever had as an actor, opened up the doors for me to act and so many other things. Without question, the best thing that ever could’ve happened to me as an actor, and it was the thing I didn’t want to do. And I got to do the exact thing I wanted to do, ride wheelies motorcycles in a movie I directed, and it fucking didn’t turn out.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Just maybe two more questions here. This is going to be a question that sometimes turns out well and oftentimes does not, so we’ll see where it goes.

Dax Shepard: Flaccid or hard?

Tim Ferriss: What was that?

Dax Shepard: Flaccid or hard?

Tim Ferriss: I’d say this is a clear half-chub question, so we’re going to go with that. And it is, if you had a billboard, metaphorically speaking, to get any message, word, image out to billions of people, could be anything non-commercial, what might you put on that billboard?

Dax Shepard: Hmm. Wow, that’s a big one. I feel like that would take me a couple of weeks to come up with the right answer for that. Let’s see, let’s see. I’m driving on the road and I’m going to see a billboard, and what would I most want to see? Okay, I got it. I think it’s the message I most need to hear.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, lay it on me.

Dax Shepard: Would be, “Be as kind and forgiving to yourself as you are to the people you love.” I’m pretty fucking brutal to myself. And I’ll listen to a guy in a meeting share the exact same thing I just did, and I’m like, “Oh, that poor guy. It’s hard. Of course that happened.” But for me, I’m like, “You are the piece of shit I always knew you were. Here’s more proof. You don’t deserve love from anyone.”

Tim Ferriss: That is the billboard I would also most need to see, so I appreciate that answer. And, Dax, I really appreciate you as a student of life, as a presenter of personal truth including when it is uncomfortable. I really believe that the exploration of vulnerability and story, and sort of shared difficulty on your podcast is a real service to your listeners, so I want to commend you for that and thank you for that.

Dax Shepard: Thank you.

Tim Ferriss: You’re welcome. And I really appreciate you—

Dax Shepard: Sadly, I think that the people that need to hear it the most are us boys, and only the girls are listening. I feel like we’re the ones that just—it’s all about weakness and strength for us itself. It’s so stupid, ugh.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Well, I am probably the mirror image of your podcast in terms of demographic. I would guess that I’m around between 60 and 70 percent male, so it’s certainly a lot of men and women will have listened to this episode, and you’ve given a lot of food for thought. Where can people find you, learn more about you? Where would you like them to check you out?

Dax Shepard: Well, they should read my autobiography, Horsepower, a Story—no, I’m on Instagram. I think just under my name, Dax Shepard. Yeah, and then Armchair Expert. If anyone would like to listen to the podcast, so Rob tells me, it’s on all of the many platforms people consume their podcasts on. And yeah, I think that’s it for me. I hate Twitter. I’m on it, but only to promote the show. What a cancerous black hole that place is, whew.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. A lot of people peeing in the pool on Twitter. It ruins the fun. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to have this conversation, Dax.

Dax Shepard: Yeah, it was awesome. I can’t wait to interview you.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, yeah.

Dax Shepard: [crosstalk] We’ll give it to like a month lull so we both get interested in each other again.

Tim Ferriss: Right. Separation makes the heart grow fonder, so we’ll do that. And to everyone listening, thank you for tuning in. And you can find show notes for everything we discussed, including Armchair Expert, including Horsepower, his brand new autobiography—

Dax Shepard: And cologne!

Tim Ferriss: —and all of the social handles and everything at And until next time, be safe. And, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete,” to quote Jack Kornfield.

Dax Shepard: Mm. Mm, mm—

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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3 Replies to “The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Dax Shepard on the Craft of Podcasting, Favorite Books, and Dancing with Your Demons (#480)”

  1. I am a huge fan of Armchair Expert, have been since episode 1 and I think Dax’s assessment of what his fans like about the show is pretty accurate (clearly) but I’d like to add a couple notes. First, the podcast is never boring. Are there boring guests? Sure. Can you tell Dax and Monica agree its boring by the tone of voice and standard questions/responses? Yes. Have I heard Dax share some of the same stories over and over? Yes. Its endearing and adds to what is magic about the show. The enthusiasm, the sincerity, and the candid process of the entire thing. Every Monday I feel like I am attending a dinner party with friends. That approachability is so appealing and keeps my attention. Which is really hard to do, because as mentioned above, there are thousands of podcast options. In fact I remember the first time seeing the AE episode at like 90 mins or something and thought “hell no, I can’t listen to something that long”. But I did and still do, religiously. Also I will say that Dax Shepard interacts with his fans on Instagram and that gives him a huge advantage because then it feels personal. I have had him reply to several of my comments and it feels good to follow someone that respects his fanbase that much. He has major integrity and he’s got a lot of loyal fans for a reason.

  2. What an interesting and enjoyable interview. Was not aware of Mr. Shepard’s podcast (where have I been?) but will find time or make appointments in far away places to begin listening. Thoughtful as always…