author interview

Jen Hatmaker: “Connection and Belonging Matter Almost More than Anything Else We Put Our Hands To.” – Happiness Article

Interview: Jen Hatmaker. Jen Hatmaker is a New York Times bestselling author, blogger, and sought-after speaker. She has written many books and hosts the podcast For the Love. (If you want to listen to the two of us in conversation, she interviewed me on For the Love here.) Jen and her husband, Brandon, are founders of the Legacy Collective, a giving community that granted more than a million dollars in its first year. The couple also pastors Austin New Church and lives on…

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Celeste Headlee: “If It’s a Habit that I Don’t Really Want to Do, I Need to Get It Done in the Morning.” – Personal Development Article

Interview: Celeste Headlee. Celeste Headlee is an award-winning journalist and the bestselling author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has anchored shows such as Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, and The Takeaway. Her new book is Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving. I couldn’t wait to talk to Celeste about happiness, habits, and productivity. Gretchen:…

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Bethany Saltman: “I Never Could Have Guessed Just How Right I Was About Happiness When I Was 18.” – Happiness Article

Interview: Bethany Saltman. Bethany Saltman is an author, award-winning editor, and researcher. Her work has appeared in places such as the New Yorker, New York Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Parents, Town & Country, and many others. Bethany also serves as a bestselling book partner and in-demand mindfulness mentor, helping writers and entrepreneurs at all stages of the creative process envision and execute their projects, including book proposals, content development, Big Ideas, messaging, and the like. Her new book is Strange Situation:…

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Deborah Gruenfeld: “A Mantra You Can Say to Yourself Before Taking the Stage: ‘I’m Glad to Be Here, and I Know What I Know.’” – Personal Development Article

Interview: Deborah Gruenfeld. Deborah Gruenfeld is a leading social psychologist and the Joseph McDonald chaired professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In her work, she examines the way people are transformed by the organizations and social structures in which they work. Gruenfeld’s award-winning research on power, influence, and group dynamics has been featured in many scholarly journals as well as in The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. She’s co-founder and…

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“The Infinite Mystery of Children Is a Wondrous, Ever-Bountiful Source of Happiness.” – Self Improvement Article

Interview: Stewart Friedman. I met Stewart Friedman several years ago, during a visit to The Wharton School. He’s a professor of organizational psychology at Wharton as well as the founding director of the Wharton Leadership Program and Work/Life Integration Project. He’s been recognized twice as one of “HR’s Most Influential International Thinkers.” He was chosen by Working Mother as one of America’s 25 most influential men to have made things better for working parents, and honored by the Families and…

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“New Opportunities for Solving Tough Problems Show Up in My Conversations with Myself.” – Personal Development Article

Interview: Emily Balcetis. Emily Balcetis, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychology at New York University. She’s the author of more than seventy-five scientific publications, and her research has been covered by Forbes, Newsweek, Time, Cosmopolitan, Scientific American, and The Atlantic. Her TED talk on “Why some people find exercise harder than others” has had more than 3.7 million views. Her new book is Clearer, Closer, Better: How Successful People See the World. When it comes to setting and meeting goals,…

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“For the Entirety of My Adult Life, I’ve Carved Out the Peaceful Dawn Hour of 5 am to Read a Book.” – Happiness Article

Interview: Richie Jackson. Among other things, Richie Jackson is an award-winning Broadway, television, and film producer who most recently produced the Tony Award-nominated Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song on Broadway. He executive-produced Showtime’s Nurse Jackie (Emmy and Golden Globe nominee for “Best Comedy Series”)  and co-executive produced the film Shortbus, written and directed by John Cameron Mitchell. He recently wrote a book that just hit the shelves: Gay Like Me: A Father Writes to His Son. I couldn’t wait to talk to Richie about…

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“It’s Never Events That Make Us Happy or Not—But Our Own Attitudes Toward Them.” – Personal Development Article

Interview: Janice Kaplan. Janice Kaplan is the author of fourteen popular books, including the New York Times bestseller, The Gratitude Diaries, and she has a new book  called The Genius of Women: From Overlooked to Changing the World. She was the editor-in-chief of Parade magazine, which at the time reached 70 million people each week, and she spent many years producing network television specials. Her books have been translated around the world, and she speaks about gratitude and genius at…

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“I Thought I’d Wake Up One Day and Be an Adult Who Knew What Made Her Happy.” – Personal Development Article

Interview: Lydia Denworth. Lydia Denworth is a science journalist who’s a contributing editor for Scientific American, and writes the ‘Brain Waves’ blog for Psychology Today. Her work has also appeared in the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, and many other publications. Her new book is Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond. I couldn’t wait to talk to Lydia about happiness, habits, and relationships. Friendship is so important to happiness!…

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“Life. Nothing Goes As Planned. Distractions, Misfortunes…All Have To Be Factored In.” – Happiness Article

Interview: Twyla Tharp. Twyla Tharp is a dancer, director, and choreographer who is famous for her innovative and often humorous work. She has choreographed more than hundred thirty-five dances, five Hollywood movies, directed and choreographed three Broadway shows, received a Tony Award, two Emmy Awards, nineteen honorary doctorates, the National Medal of the Arts, and many grants including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the “Genius Grant”). She’s a member of the American Academy of…

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“When Children Feel Safe, Seen, and Soothed (Most of the Time), They Develop Security.” – Happiness Article

Interview: Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. Dr. Daniel J. Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and executive director of the Mindsight Institute. Dan is also a New York Times bestselling author, neuropsychiatrist, and interpersonal neurobiologist. Dr. Tina Payne Bryson is a psychotherapist and the Founder/Executive Director of The Center for Connection, a multidisciplinary clinical practice, and of The Play Strong Institute, a center devoted to the study, research, and practice of…

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“Avoiding Mistakes and Broken Promises Will Do Much More for You Than Going Beyond the Call of Duty.” – Personal Development Article

Author interview: John Tierney John Tierney is a science writer who, among other things, is a contributing editor to City Journal and a contributing columnist to the Science section of the New York Times. He’s also a public speaker and makes frequent TV appearances. I really love his book, with Roy Baumeister, called Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Greatest Strength. It was a New York Times best-seller and has been translated into 20 languages, and I found it invaluable in…

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“I Try to Focus on My Breath, and Within Seconds, I’m Focusing on the Deadlines I’m Missing.” – Happiness Article

Interview: Dan Zevin. Dan Zevin is a Thurber Prize-winning humorist who has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Rolling Stone, Salon, Real Simple, Parents, and The Wall Street Journal, and as a comic commentator for NPR. He’s also the author of  Dan Gets a Minivan and The Day I Turned Uncool, which were both optioned by Adam Sandler. His latest book and YouTube series is Very Modern Mantras: Daily Affirmations for Daily Aggravations. I love aphorisms, proverbs, koans, paradoxes,…

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“More Failure = More Success.” – Self Improvement Article

Interview: Neil Pasricha. I’ve known Neil for years. We got acquainted long ago, through our blogs, when blogs still felt fresh and new. I was a big fan of his gratitude blog 1000 Awesome Things. From there, he’s released huge bestselling books such as The Book of Awesome and The Happiness Equation. He’s got a terrific podcast called 3 Books with Neil Pasricha—it’s “by and for book lovers, writers, makers, sellers…and librarians.” You can watch his TEDxToronto talk on “The Three A’s…

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“Happiness Usually Comes from a Place of Stillness, from Feeling Like You Have Enough in the Moment.” – Personal Development Article

Interview: Ryan Holiday. Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying; Conspiracy; and many other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the New York Times to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as multiplatinum musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He’s written three books that explore ancient…

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“Sitting Under a Tree in a Pine Forest Is Happy Medicine.” – Self Improvement Article

Interview: John Jantsch. John Jantsch is from Kansas City (just like me!—I used to see his office sign on my drive home from the airport) and is a marketing consultant, speaker, and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine, SEO for Growth, and The Referral Engine. His latest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur: 366 Daily Meditations to Feed Your Soul and Grow Your Business, is a collection of daily meditations for entrepreneurs; by making ourselves better people,…

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“Fresh Air and Being in Nature Always Give Me an Energy Boost.” – Happiness Article

Interview: Maki Moussavi. Maki Moussavi is a coach, speaker, and author of The High Achiever’s Guide: Transform Your Success Mindset and Begin the Quest to Fulfillment. A former corporate professional, she shares tools she’s used herself and with clients to help ambitious, goal-oriented professionals rewrite their programming and start living on their own terms rather than by the “rules” that have been set by others. I couldn’t wait to talk to Maki about happiness, habits, and productivity. Gretchen: What’s a…

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“I Wanted to Be in a Field that Could Promote Creativity, Joy, Connection, and Living to One’s Highest Potential.” – Personal Development Article

Interview: Steven Hayes. Steven Hayes is Nevada Foundation Professor in the Behavior Analysis program at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada. He’s extraordinarily prolific—author of 44 books and nearly 600 scientific articles—and his career has focused on understanding human language and cognition and the alleviation of human suffering. He developed the Relational Frame Theory, an account of human higher cognition, and has guided its extension to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a popular evidence-based form of psychotherapy…

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“Having a Non-Verbal Activity Feels Essential, and As, These Days, Do Non-Digital Activities.” – Self Improvement Article

Interview: Amy Waldman. Through mutual friends, I’ve known Amy Waldman for years. When I first met her, she was a reporter with the New York Times (which she did for eight years, including three years as co-chief of the South Asia bureau). Then she changed her writing path to become a novelist, and her first novel, The Submission, was a national bestseller. Now Amy has a new novel that has received a huge amount of buzz: A Door in the…

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“Distraction Starts from Within; It is Our Never-ending Search for an Escape from Psychological Discomfort.” – Personal Development Article

Interview: Nir Eyal I’ve know Nir for years now. How do we know each other? I don’t even remember! I’m a huge fan of his first book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, which I found very useful when I was working on my book Better Than Before, all about habit change. I also attended his first conference, Habit Summit, which is where I met the brilliant folks at Aperio Insights who designed my quiz for the Four Tendencies framework.…

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“Mood and Energy and Self-Care Are a Huge and Under-Appreciated Part of Creativity.” – Happiness Article

Interview: Chase Jarvis. Chase Jarvis is an award-winning artist, entrepreneur, and one of the most influential photographers of the past decade. He has created campaigns for Apple, Nike, Red Bull and others, was a contributor to the Pulitzer-winning New York Times story “Snowfall,” and earned an Emmy nomination for his documentary Portrait of a City. He also created “Best Camera”—the first photo app to share images to social networks, and is the founder of CreativeLive, where more than 10 million…

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“The Animal Version of Happy Boils Down to Two Things: Safety and Discovery.” – Personal Development Article

Interview: Kathryn Bowers I got to know Kathryn because we’re both in a writers’ group, the Invisible Institute. I love this group because although we’re all non-fiction writers, we cover an extremely wide range of subjects. When else would I hang out in a professional group with someone like Kathryn—who’s an applied animal behaviorist and science writer? Her first book, Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection Between Human and Animal Health, was a New York Times bestseller and was recently featured at…

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“Ever Since I Nearly Died, I’ve Lived with a Sense that I’m in ‘Overtime’ and Every Second Counts.” – Self Improvement Article

Interview: David Fajgenbaum. Dr. David Fajgenbaum has undergone an extraordinary medical experience. During medical school, he had his last rites read in 2010 and nearly died four more times as he battled a rare and incurable illness. Thanks to a drug that he discovered in his lab—and began testing on himself—he’s now in his longest longest remission ever (5.5 years). He leads the effort to cure his disease—idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease—as a physician-scientist at Penn and co-founder of the Castleman…

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“Happiness Is Not Something You Can Measure Against Others.” – Happiness Article

Interview: Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, Founders of theSkimm Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of theSkimm, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg launched theSkimm from their couch in 2012 and have built a brand with more than 7 million daily subscribers. The company started with the Daily Skimm, the fastest growing email newsletter on the market (sign up here), and has expanded to include theSkimm app, Skimm Studies, Skimm Reads, Skimm Picks and Skimm Notes, Skimm This. Not only that, there’s a production…

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“When We Fail in Some Way or Another, We Can Simply Begin Again.” – Personal Development Article

Interview: Jerry Colonna Jerry Colonna has had a very interesting career. He is a well-regarded venture capitalist, and as an executive coach, he’s helped many people do their best work. He’s the cofounder and CEO of Reboot.io, an executive coaching and leadership development firm. If you listen to the terrific podcast Start Up, in Season 4, Episode 3, you may remember hearing from Jerry Colonna. Gimlet co-founders Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber talked to him to help them work through…

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“Creativity Begins with Noticing What Everyone Else Overlooked.” – Self Improvement Article

Interview: Rob Walker Rob Walker is a journalist who writes about design, technology, business, and the arts, among other things. He’s been a columnist for the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine and Lifehacker, and has written several books, and has several fascinating side projects. I’m interested in many of the things that he’s interested in—most recently, the subject of his latest book, The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in…

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“[I Love] the Challenge of Doing Stuff that Scares Me Because that Relief and Happiness You Feel on the Other Side Makes It Worth It.” – Self Improvement Article

Interview: Amanda Little Amanda Little is a professor of journalism and science writing at Vanderbilt University. Her reporting on energy, technology, and the environment has appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Wired, Rolling Stone, and Bloomberg Businessweek. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and children. She has just published a new book: The Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World. In a nutshell: “Amanda Little tells the defining story of the…

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“The Stories We Tell Ourselves Are What Make Our Dreams Come True.” – Self Improvement Article

Interview: Sheri Salata Sheri Salata has had a remarkable career. She served as co-president of Oprah Winfrey Network and president of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. In various roles, she worked with Oprah for twenty-one years. Then she decided to go out on her own, and reinvent her career and her life. Along with her longtime best friend Nancy Hala, she has launched The Pillar Life as a way to create more happiness, success, and abundance. The eight “Pillars” they explore…

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“When I Feel Anxious, I Make Lists: ‘What’s Going Well Right Now?’ and “What Bothers Me?’” – Self Improvement Article

Interview: Chris Guillebeau Chris Guillebeau and I have been friends and colleagues for a long time—so long that I don’t remember how or when we met. I’ve attended his terrific conference, World Domination Summit; we’ve done book events together; and his excellent daily podcast Side Hustle School is part of the Onward Project, the family of podcasts headed up by me, all about making your life better (along with Do the Thing with Whole30’s Melissa Hartwig Urban, Happier in Hollywood,…

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“I Garden Because I Cannot Help Myself—But It’s the Best Kind of Compulsion.” – Self Improvement Article

Interview: Margaret Roach Margaret Roach worked in publishing for many years, at places like the New York Times, Newsday, and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Then at the end of 2007, she left the city and “success” for a life lived much more quietly and closer to nature. She’s a passionate gardener; has published a popular garden website since 2008; opens her garden for tours a few times a season; writes books; and lectures frequently to help foster an interest in gardening. Not…

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