How To! With Charles Duhigg

How To! With Charles Duhigg

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How to solve life’s problems, one question at a time.


Confront a Crazy Neighbor with Tig Notaro
Aug 11 • 32 min
The trouble began when Sarah put a fern in front of her new condo. Nice, right? The woman who lives in the unit above didn’t think so, and without warning sent Sarah a slew of passive-aggressive notes. Sarah thinks it’s all a big misunderstanding, but now…
Get That Promotion You Deserve
Jul 28 • 32 min
Johnny is worried about being stuck in the same job forever. He’s been trying to climb the corporate ladder of his software company for years but has had little success. He knows he deserves a promotion, but he doesn’t want to be pushy, especially during…
Survive a Shark Attack
Jul 14 • 30 min
David was in the ocean in Hawaii when the unthinkable happened—a shark attacked him and bit off his leg. “I don’t think you’re gonna make it,” a medic told the 25-year-old on the helicopter ride to the hospital. But David did make it, and soon he learned…
Bonus Episode - ‘Hello Monday’ with Jessi Hempel
Jul 7 • 29 min
This bonus episode features Charles’s recent appearance on the podcast Hello Monday, where host Jessi Hempel discusses the relationship between work and meaning. Charles tells the story of his experience attending Harvard Business School and all that…
Write a Bestseller
Jun 30 • 32 min
Lauren already knows the plot of her bestselling novel—the problem is she hasn’t written a word. Paralyzed by self-criticism and an earlier rejection, this former English major has spent years journaling instead of attempting the scary, difficult work of…
Fight Racism in Your Town
Jun 23 • 27 min
Chris has always considered himself “on the right side of things,” but as Black Lives Matter protests sweep across the country, he’s starting to realize he needs to do a lot more. As a white man living in Austin, Texas, he says he has a responsibility to…
Stand Up for Your Kid When Society Won’t
Jun 16 • 29 min
Karin always thought of herself as the mom of two boys—that is, until last year when her oldest child told her they were nonbinary, meaning they don’t identify as either male or female. Karin loves her kid deeply, but she’s struggling to get used to their…
Walk Away from an Impossible Parent
Jun 9 • 30 min
When Sydney’s dad texted her, “Do me a favor and lose my number,” she was crushed. At 27, Sydney has always had a rocky relationship with her dad, but she held out hope he could still be a part of her life. Now she’s starting to think it’s a lost cause.…
Find a New Career Before it’s Too Late
Jun 2 • 33 min
Donny is ready to leave the restaurant industry once and for all. As a recovering alcoholic, he was already looking for a new career before COVID-19 upended his life. But at 38 years old, Donny has held 30 different jobs, and without a bachelor’s degree,…
Get a Stubborn Parent to Listen
May 26 • 31 min
Alan’s 86-year-old dad will not stop driving—even after an incident where he drove off the road and totaled his car. Feeling guilty and worried, Alan has tried to convince his dad to hand over the keys, even enlisting the support of his father’s doctor,…
Say the Right Thing at the Worst Time
May 19 • 32 min
Ann’s sister just lost her husband and Ann doesn’t know how to console her. Ann lives in a different state and, having experienced loss herself, knows saying the wrong thing can only add to the hurt. What can Ann do from a distance to make her sister feel…
Lose 155 Pounds Happily
May 12 • 33 min
Ashley thought by now she’d be on top of the world. Once severely overweight, Ashley lost 155 pounds and recently ran her first half-marathon. But when she looks in the mirror all she sees are the imperfections. In this episode of How To!, we bring in…
Talk to Strangers
May 5 • 32 min
Every other Friday, Amy’s calendar reminds her to make the rounds of her office and say “hello” to her colleagues. As an introvert, Amy deeply struggles with small talk, but as a manager of 55 people she’s been told she needs to be more approachable. In…
Actually Enjoy Working from Home
Apr 28 • 32 min
Joanna really misses her office. Taking Zoom calls from the kitchen in her dimly lit Brooklyn apartment doesn’t compare to her bright, open office filled with friendly coworkers. In this episode of How To!, Ben Waber, an organizational scientist,…
Save the Planet (And Still Use a Plastic Straw)
Apr 21 • 33 min
Caleb tries to be good to the planet by recycling, biking to work and living a minimalist lifestyle in his small Ohio town. But he still feels guilty about using disposable diapers and buying a minivan for his growing family. How can he fight climate…
Stop Procrastinating
Apr 14 • 33 min
Marie trains dogs for a living, but she’s struggling to teach herself a new trick—overcoming procrastination. For a year, she’s been ready to launch a new dog training app….just as soon as she makes the training videos for it. The delay is hurting…
Quarantine Q&A: Masks
Apr 7 • 7 min
Margit from Denver, Colorado writes in with a question about how to encourage people to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Charles offers advice on how to incentivize people to form new habits, and draws lessons from past efforts to…
Tame a Chaotic Household
Mar 31 • 34 min
Sarah feels like she’s drowning in the clutter of her tiny Brooklyn apartment where she lives with a messy husband and two-year-old daughter. Now that her family is under quarantine together, the chaos seems destined to only get worse. In this episode of…
Not Go Crazy Under Quarantine
Mar 24 • 31 min
This week, we’re struggling with the same problem as our listeners: self-quarantine. As news of the coronavirus pandemic intensifies, how do we stay sane while staying home? How do we reduce stress and remain healthy while juggling remote work and…
Forgive the Unforgivable
Mar 17 • 31 min
For years Claire has been holding on to a terrible family secret: Her mom physically abused Claire’s brother when he was young. How could her mom have done that? Now, over a decade later, both Claire’s mother and brother have passed away, but Claire still…
Find Your First Kiss at 38
Mar 10 • 33 min
Sharon is 38 and never been kissed. This, as she acknowledges, is “a bit weird.” As a nurse who loves ballroom dancing, Sharon is smart, funny, and attractive. At the same time, she’s deeply religious and has been waiting so long for the perfect man she…
Get Your Mom to Accept You
Mar 3 • 31 min
When Hema first realized she was gay a few years ago after immigrating to the U.S., she knew she had to tell her mom. But the conversation didn’t go well. Hema’s mom lives in India and is convinced being gay is a Western phenomenon. So how does Hema help…
Vote for the Next President
Feb 25 • 33 min
Anthony is that rarest of things in American politics—a swing voter who is up for grabs in 2020. Caught between his Republican voting history and his current dislike of President Trump, Anthony is now registered as an Independent. But does he follow his…
Write the Perfect Breakup Song with Ben Folds
Feb 18 • 33 min
Lorenzo is a dental student with big dreams—of becoming a rock star. Lorenzo plays a mean guitar at open mic night, but there’s one thing holding him back: He doesn’t know how to write his own songs. In this episode of How To!, we bring in master…
Convince People to Give You Money
Feb 11 • 32 min
Shannon runs a nonprofit in Aspen, Colorado — a place filled with wealthy donors, but also stiff competition. With nearly 500 nonprofits vying for money, how does Shannon help her organization stick out? Some of the best advice may come from an unlikely…
Protect Yourself Against the Coronavirus
Feb 4 • 27 min
The coronavirus outbreak in China is causing panic worldwide. The World Health Organization has declared it a global health emergency and all we hear about are doubling infection rates, massive quarantines, and drugstores running out of masks. In this…
Put Your Wife’s Career First
Jan 28 • 30 min
Andy would do anything for his girlfriend Cassie. Well, almost anything. As Cassie looks to move away for vet school, Andy has to decide if he’s going with her, leaving his job, family and friends, and two bands behind in Austin, TX. In this episode of…
Kick a Meth Habit
Jan 21 • 31 min
Jason has been addicted to meth for the past 15 years, which is not uncommon in his small Illinois town. Every time Jason stopped using he would relapse, until last year when the state took custody of his two kids. Since then he’s sobered up, but is…
Rob a Bank
Jan 14 • 33 min
Joe Loya robbed more than 30 banks during an 18-month span before going to jail. Charles wants to rob one bank on a Saturday afternoon, and get away scot-free. Can Joe teach Charles the tricks of the trade? Or will he shatter his dreams, and a few…
Propose (to a Man)
Jan 7 • 27 min
Once upon a time, Ashley met a man and fell in love. Now, she’s ready to get down on one knee and pop the question. But with so few women proposing to men, she’s not sure how to go about it. In this episode of How To!, we bring in Caroline Kitchener,…
Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick
Dec 31, 2019 • 32 min
How To! gave dozens of people advice this year about solving their problems. Now, we track a few of them down to see how our experts’ suggestions transformed their lives. We follow up with an actor trying to get buff to play a superhero, a bachelor hoping…
Give a REALLY Big Gift
Dec 24, 2019 • 34 min
Mary’s mother needs a new kidney — as long as it doesn’t come from Mary. What’s a daughter to do? In this episode of How To!, Mary hears from Larissa MacFarquhar, author of a book on extreme altruism, to learn how to convince ourselves — and others — to…
Remember Everything
Dec 17, 2019 • 33 min
Jessica is only 26, but says her memory is ‘worse than my mother’s.’ She forgets friends’ birthdays, important details at work and worries that life is passing her by. In this episode of How To!, we bring in Joshua Foer, a former U.S.A. Memory Champion…
Sleep
Dec 10, 2019 • 29 min
Ben aka ‘Sleepless in San Francisco’ hasn’t been able to get a good night’s rest for over a decade. He’s tried noise machines, medication, vodka, even eating cheese — but nothing has worked. It’s harming his health, his career and his dating life. In this…
Get Your Kid To Finally Grow Up
Dec 3, 2019 • 29 min
Owen is about to graduate from high school and has no idea what he wants to do next. Owen doesn’t seem worried, but his mom, Lisa, is freaking out. In this episode of How To!, we get help from Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Stanford dean and author of How…
Cook One Perfect Meal
Nov 26, 2019 • 34 min
Jonny is a 26-year-old bachelor whose cooking often leads to heartache (and for one ex-girlfriend, a stomachache). Jonny admits he’s a klutz in the kitchen, so we hooked him up with Sam Sifton, cookbook raconteur and head of the New York Times’ Cooking…
Win At Online Dating
Nov 19, 2019 • 30 min
Traci is a single, professional woman looking for love. She builds furniture in her spare time, enjoys dancing and can’t believe she has to devote an hour each day to swiping through photos and sending flirty texts. Traci’s quest for romance is made…
Perform Under Pressure
Nov 12, 2019 • 32 min
Mike’s dream job of playing bass in a Chicago orchestra is within reach — if only he can conquer his nerves and master the audition. In this episode of How To!, we bring in Dr. Don Greene, a peak performance psychologist who’s worked with Wall Street…
Withstand Pain
Nov 5, 2019 • 33 min
Sophie is a typical mom … who runs ultramarathons in her spare time. She’s pretty tough but an upcoming 268-mile race across the loneliest parts of England is freaking her out. In this episode of How To! we turned to Wim Hof, aka “The Iceman” for advice.…
Not Be Scared
Oct 29, 2019 • 30 min
Becca is 6-feet tall, bold and strong-willed. She’s also easily startled and paralyzed by fear — even a children’s haunted house can reduce her to tears. In this episode of How To!, we bring in sociologist Margee Kerr, author of Scream: Chilling…
Fire Your Daughter
Oct 22, 2019 • 31 min
Kyle wants to sell his 50-year old family insurance business so he can finally retire. But a troublesome employee is holding him back: his daughter. In this episode of How To!, Harvard Business School professor Christina Wing tries to help Kyle figure out…
Put Down Your Phone
Oct 15, 2019 • 27 min
How many times have you looked at your phone so far today? Do you feel like you’re choosing to look, or automatically craving it when you ought to be enjoying life? In this episode of How To! we get advice from Jia Tolentino, New Yorker writer and author…
Be Funny
Oct 8, 2019 • 30 min
How do you learn to tell the perfect joke? In this episode of How To! A pastor from Oklahoma wants to spice up his sermons from the pulpit. So we introduce him to Gary Gulman, a New York standup comedian who makes jokes about his clinical depression in…
Decide Whether To Have a Baby
Oct 1, 2019 • 31 min
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Go On a Family Adventure
Sep 24, 2019 • 31 min
Can a family travel around the world for a year without killing each other? Dan Kois spent a year in New Zealand, The Netherlands, Costa Rica and Kansas with his wife Alia and their two young daughters, learning how other cultures parent. The result is…
Look Like a Superhero
Sep 17, 2019 • 30 min
How did Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman get so buff to play Deadpool and Wolverine? An up-and-coming Hollywood actor wants to know so he can land his own superhero role. In this episode of How To! we turn to Reynolds’ and Jackman’s trainer, Don Saladino,…
Stress Your Kid the Right Way
Sep 10, 2019 • 29 min
Is there a right way to let kids struggle and fail? How do you raise resilient children? And most important, when should you help out, and when should you chill out? In this episode of How To! we ask Dr. Wendy Mogel, author of The Blessing of a Skinned…
Survive a Pandemic
Sep 3, 2019 • 29 min
Have you ever wondered how you would fare in the apocalypse? Perhaps you have envisioned yourself, shotgun loaded, prepared to mete out kindhearted justice and tough-love defense in equal measure. It turns out, though, that when the next pandemic comes,…
Stop Being Anxious
Aug 27, 2019 • 29 min
Matt has anxiety attacks. Every day. When he gets too many texts, when he starts worrying about his family, when the unexpected occurs: that’s when the sweat starts and his mind begins racing. He’s a strong guy — he was a cop — but he thinks today’s…
Uproot Your Life
Aug 20, 2019 • 28 min
A decade after Elizabeth’s family left the U.S. to live in Portugal, they’re wondering if it’s time to move back. In this episode of How To! we turn to professional poker player, Annie Duke, who treats every decision like it’s a bet. She says think of…
Cook One Perfect Meal
Aug 13, 2019 • 32 min
Jonny is a 26 year-old bachelor whose cooking often leads to heartache (and for one ex-girlfriend, a stomach ache). Jonny admits he’s a klutz in the kitchen, so we hooked him up with Sam Sifton, cookbook raconteur and head of the New York Times’s Cooking…
Fire a Bad Employee
Aug 6, 2019 • 28 min
Gabe wants to fire a bad employee, but still be a good boss. In this episode of How To! we turn to Stanford professor of management science, Bob Sutton (The No Asshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss) for help. First, Sutton says, Gabe has to act like a…
Give Your Mom a Kidney
Jul 30, 2019 • 29 min
Mary’s mother needs a new kidney — as long as it doesn’t come from Mary. What’s a good daughter to do? In this episode of How To! Mary hears from Larissa MacFarquhar, author of a book on extreme altruism, to learn how to convince ourselves - and others -…
Withstand Pain
Jul 30, 2019 • 30 min
Sophie Power once breastfed her newborn during an ultramarathon, but an upcoming 268-mile race across a remote stretch of Great Britain is freaking her out. In this episode of How To! we turn to Wim Hof, aka “The Iceman,” for advice. Because when you are…
Rob a Bank
Jul 30, 2019 • 30 min
Joe Loya robbed over 30 banks during an 18-month span before going to jail. In this episode of How To! Charles wants to rob one bank on a Saturday afternoon, and get away scot-free. Can Joe teach Charles the tricks of the trade? Or will he shatter his…
Be Funny
Jul 30, 2019 • 27 min
How do you learn to tell the perfect joke? In this episode of How To! a pastor from Oklahoma wants to spice up his sermons. So we introduce him to Gary Gulman, a New York standup comedian who makes jokes about his clinical depression. The lesson? “Man…
Introducing How To!
Jun 21, 2019 • 2 min
What if Dear Abby was an investigative reporter? Each week, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit) takes on listeners’ toughest problems and, with the help of experts, finds the answers to questions you’ve always wanted to…