541 episodes

Hosted by productivity strategist Mike Vardy, A Productive Conversation is a podcast that discusses tips, tools, tactics, and tricks that are designed to help you take your productivity, time management, goals, to do lists, habits, and workflow to new heights - both at work and at home. If you're looking to focus your efforts on getting the right things done and start living the good life, then this weekly conversational podcast – crafted in the tradition of Slate's Working, Back to Work, and HBR IdeaCast – is for you.

A Productive Conversation Mike Vardy

    • Business
    • 4.2 • 99 Ratings

Hosted by productivity strategist Mike Vardy, A Productive Conversation is a podcast that discusses tips, tools, tactics, and tricks that are designed to help you take your productivity, time management, goals, to do lists, habits, and workflow to new heights - both at work and at home. If you're looking to focus your efforts on getting the right things done and start living the good life, then this weekly conversational podcast – crafted in the tradition of Slate's Working, Back to Work, and HBR IdeaCast – is for you.

    Scott H. Young Talks About Getting Better at Anything

    Scott H. Young Talks About Getting Better at Anything

    In this captivating episode of the podcast, I sit down with the renowned author and self-directed learning enthusiast, Scott H. Young, to dive into the intricacies of mastering new skills and the science of learning. Scott, known for his groundbreaking work on rapid skill acquisition, shares his unique insights into writing, learning, and the critical role of research in personal development.
    Throughout our discussion, Scott and I explore a variety of topics from the practical to the philosophical, all centered around how we can better understand and improve our ability to learn and perform. Whether you're a student, a professional, or simply a lifelong learner, this episode is packed with valuable lessons and actionable advice.
    Key Discussion Points


    Research and Writing Nonfiction: How Scott structures his work and breaks down complex subjects into understandable segments.


    Cultural Misunderstandings: Dealing with geographical misconceptions and the importance of accurate cultural representation.


    Principles of Learning and Memory: Insights into the cognitive science that enhances our learning capabilities.


    Role of AI in Education: A discussion on how artificial intelligence is reshaping learning environments and educational methods.


    Importance of Repetition and Variability: Scott emphasizes how these factors influence skill improvement and adaptability.


    Mental Models and Dynamic Skills: The significance of mental frameworks in mastering new skills and solving problems.


    Research Depth: Balancing between extensive research and the practicality of writing.


    As we wrapped up our conversation, it became clear that understanding the process of learning itself is as crucial as the knowledge we seek to gain. Scott's perspectives not only enrich our approach to learning but also challenge us to rethink how we teach and acquire new skills in an ever-evolving world. Don't forget to check out Scott’s book, "Get Better at Anything," and explore more of his profound insights on his website.
    Links Worth Exploring

    Connect with Scott: Website | X/Twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube


    Get Scott’s Book: Get Better at Anything


    That Jim Gaffigan Special: Learn more about it here


    Why Are Humans Suddenly Getting Better at Tetris?


    What is The Great Mental Models Project? Check it out.


    Another book to check out: Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment


    Related Conversation: Episode 256: Understanding Ultralearning with Scott H. Young


    Related Blog Post: More Better



    Thanks to all of the sponsors of this episode. You can find all of the sponsors you heard me mention on this episode on our Podcast Sponsors page.
    Want to support the podcast? Beyond checking out our sponsors, you can subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts. You can subscribe on Spotify and also on Apple Podcasts. Not using either of those to get your podcasts? Just click on this link and then paste the podcast feed into your podcast app of choice.
    Thanks again for listening to A Productive Conversation. See you later.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 7 min
    John Diggs Talks About Unlocking Potential with Mind Mapping

    John Diggs Talks About Unlocking Potential with Mind Mapping

    Welcome to this episode where we dive deep into the world of mind mapping with John Diggs, a former NFL player turned coach – but not a coach of the football variety.
    John brings a unique perspective on how mind mapping has not only transformed his personal life but also how he coaches others to achieve their fullest potential. We explore the broad applications of this powerful tool, from personal development to academic and professional success.
    John shares his journey from the football field to becoming a mind mapping mentor, emphasizing how this technique has helped him and many others visualize goals and navigate life's complexities. We discuss the versatility of mind maps in enhancing creativity, memory, and productivity, and how they serve as a foundational tool for successful life planning.
    Key Discussion Points


    Transition from NFL to Mind Mapping: John ecounts his transition from professional sports to becoming a life coach, using mind mapping to guide his and others' life choices.

    Mind Mapping for College Students: We discuss the significant benefits for students, such as improved decision-making, enhanced memory, and better organization of thoughts.

    Practical Applications of Mind Maps: From helping athletes prepare for games to aiding students and professionals in project management, mind maps prove to be invaluable.

    Integration with Task Management Tools: Both John and I highlight the integration of mind maps with tools like MindMeister and Meistertask to streamline task execution and project management.

    Vision Boards vs. Mind Maps: We compare the dynamic nature of mind maps with static vision boards, emphasizing how mind maps offer a more profound, evolving approach to goal setting.

    Mind Mapping for Personal Growth: John shares his personal story of how mind mapping helped him rediscover himself and rebuild his life after significant setbacks.

    Promoting Mind Mapping as a Life Skill: We advocate for the adoption of mind mapping as a routine practice for personal development and clarity in life goals.


    This conversation with John Diggs has been incredibly enlightening, showcasing the transformative power of mind mapping in various aspects of life. Whether you're an athlete, student, or professional, mind mapping can be a game-changer in how you organize your thoughts, set your goals, and achieve success. Be sure to check out John's resources and start incorporating mind mapping into your daily routine for a more organized and purposeful life.
    Links Worth Exploring

    Connect with John: Website | X/Twitter | LinkedIn


    Check out John's TEDx talk: Watch it here


    What is "Big Play Power" anyway?: Find out


    John's Books: Get them here


    Check out the "Meister" suite of tools: MindMeister | MeisterTask


    Want to go to "Mappineerville?: Visit (and join) now


    Related Conversation: Episode 335: Mind Map Your Writing with Daphne Gray-Grant


    Related Blog Post: How to Map Out One Year in One Hour



    Thanks to all of the sponsors of this episode. You can find all of the sponsors you heard me mention on this episode on our Podcast Sponsors page.
    Want to support the podcast? Beyond checking out our sponsors, you can subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts. You can subscribe on Spotify and also on Apple Podcasts. Not using either of those to get your podcasts? Just click on this link and then paste the podcast feed into your podcast app of choice.
    Thanks again for listening to A Productive Conversation. See you later.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 46 min
    Steven Bertrand Talks About Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Meditation

    Steven Bertrand Talks About Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Meditation

    In this episode, I'm joined by Steven Bertrand, who shares his inspiring transition from blogging and web design to becoming a public speaker and a meditation advocate.
    In this episode, we explore how Steven has overcome significant personal challenges and how meditation has played a pivotal role in his life From tackling physical disabilities to changing career paths, Steven's story is a testament to the power of resilience and the importance of mindfulness in achieving balance and inner peace.
    Key Discussion Points


    Journey from Blogging to Public Speaking: Steven reflects on his evolution from a blogger to a sought-after public speaker, emphasizing the role of meditation in gaining deeper insights and confidence.


    Overcoming Disability: Steven discusses the challenges he faced due to his disability and how meditation helped him overcome these obstacles and pursue his passions.


    Importance of Accessibility: A significant part of our conversation was dedicated to the necessity for accessibility in business and public spaces, with Steven sharing personal experiences and actionable advice for organizations.


    The Impact of Meditation: Both guests discuss how meditation has been instrumental in reducing their anxiety and enhancing their mental health, with yours truly highlighting its benefits in improving my focus and productivity.


    Mindfulness for Everyday Life: The conversation also touches on how meditation is not just a practice but a lifestyle that enhances the quality of everyday life, helping individuals stay grounded in stressful situations.


    Encouraging Meditation Practice: Both of us advocate for making meditation a priority, sharing tips and strategies for integrating it into busy schedules.


    This episode has been an enlightening journey through the life of someone who has used meditation not just as a tool for personal growth but as a way to face life's challenges head-on. Whether you are dealing with personal hurdles or looking to improve your productivity and mental health, the insights offered valuable lessons on the benefits of embracing mindfulness. Remember to check out Steve's meditation classes and more resources to start your own journey in meditation.
    Links Worth Exploring

    Connect with Steven: Website | X/Twitter | Facebook | YouTube


    Steven's Zoom meditation classes: Check them out


    Related Conversation: Episode 515: Haemin Sunim Talks About Zen Wisdom for Life’s Challenges


    Related Blog Post: How to Wake Up a Sleepwalking Mind



    Thanks to all of the sponsors of this episode. You can find all of the sponsors you heard me mention on this episode on our Podcast Sponsors page.
    Want to support the podcast? Beyond checking out our sponsors, you can subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts. You can subscribe on Spotify and also on Apple Podcasts. Not using either of those to get your podcasts? Just click on this link and then paste the podcast feed into your podcast app of choice.
    Thanks again for listening to A Productive Conversation. See you later.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 47 min
    PM Talks S1E5: What Do You Want From Us?

    PM Talks S1E5: What Do You Want From Us?

    In this latest installment of our monthly series PM Talks, I had the pleasure of chatting with my good friend Patrick Rhone about the vast theme of choices and how they weave through our personal and professional lives. This episode delves into everything from the cultural impact of wrestling to the profound topics of longevity, mortality, and the essence of making the most of our time. Patrick, with his characteristic insight and depth, brings a unique perspective to these discussions, challenging us to reconsider our priorities and the legacy we aim to leave behind.
    Our conversation wasn't just about the heavy stuff; we also touched on lighter yet equally significant aspects of daily life, such as job satisfaction, the fast food culture, and the evolution of meal service delivery. Patrick's reflections on identity and success, alongside our shared experiences with fast food and personal happiness, reveal the complex interplay between societal norms and individual fulfillment. It's this balance of thought-provoking and relatable content that makes our dialogue not just informative but also incredibly engaging.
    Key Discussion Points

    The significance of choice in our lives, from cultural preferences to professional paths.

    Our shared love for professional wrestling and its evolution from regional circuits to global entertainment.

    Reflecting on the longevity of both podcasting and wrestling, and what it means to sustain passion over time.

    The societal emphasis on quantity over quality in life expectancy and how it shapes our approach to aging and mortality.

    The importance of finding satisfaction in one's job, whether it's a high-flying tech position or a routine clock-punching job.

    Navigating the convenience and challenges of fast food in the context of busy family lives and the rise of meal prep services.

    Implementing productive morning and evening routines to manage time effectively and make room for what truly matters.


    Closing this episode, Patrick and I contemplate the bittersweet nature of nostalgia and the inevitability of mortality, underscoring the importance of saying "yes" to life's experiences. Through our discourse, we invite listeners to reflect on the choices they make, the value of embracing the present, and the importance of crafting a life filled with meaningful moments. Whether you're contemplating a career pivot, struggling with time management, or simply looking for ways to infuse more joy into your daily routine, there's something in this conversation for you.
    Links Worth Exploring

    Get Patrick’s Book: A Book for You

    If you like the Hartford Whalers…

    If you liked the Burger King “Whaler” sandwich…

    Check out Patrick's website.

    Read some Rhoneisms here.


    Thanks to all of the sponsors of this episode. You can find all of the sponsors you heard me mention on this episode on our Podcast Sponsors page.
    Want to support the podcast? Beyond checking out our sponsors, you can subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts. You can subscribe on Spotify and also on Apple Podcasts. Not using either of those to get your podcasts? Just click on this link and then paste the podcast feed into your podcast app of choice.
    Thanks again for listening to A Productive Conversation. See you later.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 6 min
    Mat Ellis Talks About Balancing Productivity and Personal Connection with AI

    Mat Ellis Talks About Balancing Productivity and Personal Connection with AI

    In this engaging episode of the podcast, I sit down with Mat Ellis, a pioneer in the productivity software arena, to explore how modern tools like AI can enhance both our work efficiency and our personal lives. We delve into the evolution of productivity platforms, particularly Mat's work with Sixty, and discuss the significant impact of these tools on our daily routines.
    As we navigate through the conversation, Mat provides profound insights into the delicate balance between leveraging technology and maintaining genuine human interactions. This discussion is crucial for anyone looking to optimize their time management without sacrificing personal connections.
    Key Discussion Points

    The Evolution of Productivity Software: We discuss the origins and growth of the productivity platform Sixty, tracing its development from the early productivity revolution.

    Technology as a Burden: Reflections on how the role of computers has shifted from being supportive tools to potential burdens, impacting both productivity and work-life balance.

    Managing Communication Overload: Strategies on using software to manage email and communication overload, including AI's role in prioritizing important messages.

    Automating with AI: Benefits of AI in automating routine tasks and implementing systems like the daily out-of-office, which helps manage email flow outside work hours.

    AI and Human Interaction: The potential and limitations of AI in productivity and time management, emphasizing the importance of human creativity and interaction.

    Personalized Communication: The value of personalized communication in relationship and time management, with examples of AI's role in enhancing these interactions.

    Productivity vs. Relationship Nourishment: Discussing the balance between achieving productivity goals and nurturing personal relationships, emphasizing the importance of focusing on what truly matters.


    My conversation with Mat Ellis was enlightening, showing us the potential of AI to transform our work habits and personal interactions. As we continue to integrate these technologies into our lives, it's vital to remain aware of the human element that fosters genuine connections and creativity. Remember, it's not just about being productive—it's about being meaningfully engaged with our tasks and the people around us.
    Links Worth Exploring

    Connect with Mat: Website | X/Twitter | LinkedIn


    A little bit more on Jerry Colonna: Check out the Reunion website


    Terry Crews with Rich Roll on "Nuance": Watch the clip | Watch the entire episode


    Related Conversation: Episode 472: The Evolution of Getting Things Done with David Allen


    Related Blog Post: Why Improving Your Relationship with Time is the Key to Mastering It



    Thanks to all of the sponsors of this episode. You can find all of the sponsors you heard me mention on this episode on our Podcast Sponsors page.
    Want to support the podcast? Beyond checking out our sponsors, you can subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts. You can subscribe on Spotify and also on Apple Podcasts. Not using either of those to get your podcasts? Just click on this link and then paste the podcast feed into your podcast app of choice.
    Thanks again for listening to A Productive Conversation. See you later.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 43 min
    FROM THE VAULT: Thomas Frank Talks About Elevating Creativity in Productivity

    FROM THE VAULT: Thomas Frank Talks About Elevating Creativity in Productivity

    In this episode, originally broadcast in April 2020, I'm joined by Thomas Frank, a prominent content creator who has significantly influenced the YouTube and productivity community. Thomas opens up about his journey into video creation, sharing the nuances of his creative process and how he has successfully integrated his personal interests with productivity content. From the initial inspiration to the complexities of content creation and management, Thomas provides a comprehensive look into the life of a content creator striving to deliver valuable, engaging content.
    As someone eager to dive into video content creation myself, Thomas's experiences and insights come at a perfect time. His journey from starting on YouTube in 2006 to becoming a serious content creator, inspired by folks like Pat Flynn and driven by a desire to infuse creativity into productivity, is nothing short of inspiring. We delve into the challenges of balancing creative energy with time management, and how personal interests can significantly enhance the content creation process.
    Key Discussion Points

    Thomas's transition into serious video content creation, inspired by Pat Flynn and the desire to deliver a powerful message through video.

    The integration of personal interests with productivity content, creating unique and engaging videos.

    The detailed research and personal testing that go into creating each video, emphasizing quality over quantity.

    Challenges in managing creative energy and time, especially when balancing long-form projects with the demands of short-form content.

    The importance of authenticity in content creation, drawing from a broad range of influences beyond the productivity genre.

    Struggles with deciding on video topics, last-minute content compromises, and the balance between creative work and business responsibilities.

    Leveraging existing audiences for new ventures, such as transitioning into music and exploring platforms like Nebula for content monetization.


    My conversation with Thomas Frank sheds light on the multifaceted world of content creation, from the inception of an idea to the execution and beyond. His approach to blending productivity with creativity, while facing the challenges of time management and audience expectations, offers invaluable lessons for aspiring creators. Thomas's journey is a testament to the power of authenticity and the importance of integrating personal passions with professional endeavors. As we wrap up, it's clear that the key to successful content creation lies in finding a balance that resonates both with the creator and their audience.
    Links Worth Exploring

    Connect with Thomas: Website | X/Twitter | Main YouTube Channel


    Check out "Thomas Franks Explains": YouTube Channel


    Thomas Interviews ME: Listen here


    The original version of this episode for more links: Check it out here


    Related Conversation: Episode 389: A/J Jackson talks about Music, Glasses and Color Theory


    Related Blog Post: The Power of Bit by Bit Productivity



    Thanks to all of the sponsors of this episode. You can find all of the sponsors you heard me mention on this episode on our Podcast Sponsors page.
    Want to support the podcast? Beyond checking out our sponsors, you can subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts. You can subscribe on Spotify and also on Apple Podcasts. Not using either of those to get your podcasts? Just click on this link and then paste the podcast feed into your podcast app of choice.
    Thanks again for listening to A Productive Conversation. See you later.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 1 min

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5
99 Ratings

99 Ratings

dougitect ,

Quality topics and guests

Always interesting and I like how he goes beyond the basics of productivity.

M in CT ,

Mike - please finish your sentences

I like this show and admire how much work and preparation Mike must put into the show. The guests are great and Mike is always prepared.

My only issue with the show is how Mike expresses himself. It is hard to vibe with the conversations when Mike begins a thought, qualifies it with a complex thought, and then circles back to the original thought. Mike - stop qualifying and finish your sentences…pleeeeeezzzzeeee

Otherwise, all good :)

retired army gal ,

I want to like this podcast….

But the host talks more than the guests! Mike, if you invite guests, let them speak. If you want to wax eloquently, then pick a topic and don’t have any guests.

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