49 episodes

What does it take to become superhuman? That's what this show explores. With thoughtful explorations and insights about work, society, and culture, we dig into the areas of life where human potential can be unleashed. This podcast accompanies a blog and newsletter.

Becoming Superhuman Jeff Gibbard

    • Society & Culture

What does it take to become superhuman? That's what this show explores. With thoughtful explorations and insights about work, society, and culture, we dig into the areas of life where human potential can be unleashed. This podcast accompanies a blog and newsletter.

    Behold! The Visionary.

    Behold! The Visionary.

    Who doesn’t love a good story?



    Like a story of overcoming adversity, of perseverance, of triumph? We like those who buck the status quo, who disrupt industries, and who despite being pioneers and trailblazers, who make it all seem within reach.



    These folx, who we call visionaries, are able to see past the present into a bold and daring future. They ask courageous questions, push people out of their comfort zones, and demand people be willing to sacrifice for their vision.



    There’s just one problem.



    Most of the time, these stories are made up, grade-A, horse shit.



    “The visionary” is, quite possibly, capitalism’s greatest illusion and we, apparently, never seem to get tired of it.



    Here’s what I mean...



    Next up, on the cover of Forbes…



    Who will be the next genius, "visionary" to grace the cover of Forbes?



    Sadly, that honor has become a bit like the Madden Curse as titan-after-titan industry is revealed to be a fraud or greatly exaggerated. Whether shown on Forbes, Fortune, Time, or Bloomberg, there is a disturbing trend of people cast as visionaries, who turn out to be sociopaths and liars, being showered with praise.



    SBF & FTX



    Sam Bankman-Fried (or “SBF” as he’s apparently known) was on the cover of Forbes in October 2021. He was the founder of FTX, a crypto-currency exchange, and Alameda Research, a trading firm. At one point he was worth of $26 BILLION dollars. In October is was $10.5 Billion, and then...





    Less than a week ago, FTX filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy and sent catastrophic ripples through both crypto markets and financial markets. Turns out, the whole thing was being run like a ponzi scheme. Oh, and rumor has it that SBF is in the Bahamas with millions of other people’s money. What a visionary!



    Remember Elizabeth Holmes?





    She threw on a black turtleneck, artificially deepened her voice, and pretended that her solution worked. That was enough for her to be hailed “the next Steve Jobs.” Forbes now has her net worth at $0 and she was found guilty on 4 out of 13 charges.



    Behold, the visionary.



    Has anyone actually met Zuck in the Metaverse?



    The answer is no. That shit is stupid. It looks like Second Life circa 2007, but where no one has feet.





    After countless privacy violations, subjecting users to psychological experiments without consent, flooding the world with unrestricted misinformation, helping foreign nations to disrupt our elections, engaging in a pattern of obviously anti-competitive monopolistic business practices, and most recently guiding his company to losing more than a $700 billion loss in value — in about one year — by betting on a stupid vision of wearing VR goggle to simulate a cubicle, Zuck is a special kind of “visionary” billionaire. Don't worry though, only 11,000 people were laid off.





    He got lucky and built a social network at the right time, ripped off features from everyone else, bought up any compe

    • 11 min
    The 3-Part Superhero Public Speaking Framework

    The 3-Part Superhero Public Speaking Framework

    NOTE: This is a longer one and if that is intimidating, overwhelming, or cause for you to sit this one out despite being interested in the topic, I’m going to encourage you instead to try the podcast version (Apple Podcast | Spotify).You can also skip over the whole post and jump straight to the framework -- though the story is what will give it context.







    Some people love public speaking, others can’t stand it. But, anyone who has ever done it, wants to be good at it. They want to be light and funny, entertaining and informative, and perhaps most importantly transformative. They want the audience to walk away changed, seeing the world through new eyes, ready to tell someone about it.



    The obvious problem for most is something we call “stage fright.” It’s this natural tension that unleashes our fear of freezing up and looking like “a total loser.” Everyone starts pointing, sneering, whispering, and even laughing. You can feel the judgement creeping down every hair on your back. It is embarrassing, possibly even shameful.



    Everyone thinks stage fright comes from general anxiety about this nightmare unfolding. The truth is that there are three things that cause stage fright, and none of them are anxiety -- though all three can cause anxiety.



    If you can wrap your head around what I’m about to share with you, not only will it help you avoid freezing up but it will change how you speak in front of groups, no matter how larger or small, for the rest of your life.



    I’m going to tell you how a single moment 8 years into my speaking career changed everything.



    These are the events that led up to me falling apart on stage and how to make sure it never happens again.



    The First One



    I did my first speaking engagement in August 2010.



    I had been hired to talk about social media, for 90 minutes, in front of 200 people out in Los Angeles. Again, this was my FIRST speaking engagement. Luckily, I was passionate about the subject matter and knew what I was talking about.



    I reached out to one of my peers and he gave me some advice about breaking the talk into smaller chunks or acts. I broke the 90-minutes into three 30-minutes segments.



    I was ready.



    When the time came for my talk, I was nervous. I waited anxiously in my seat waiting for my time slot. When I heard my name called I felt butterflies turn to panic. Can I really do this?



    My heart was racing, beating out of my chest, and my only relief was the knowledge that my blazer was covering the sweaty armpit stains on my dress shirt. I walked up the stairs on the side of the stage, and I'll never forget what happened next.



    As my foot hit the stage and I shook the hand of the person who introduced me…I felt an immense wave of calm wash over me. It happened in an instant. I was in my zone.



    Not everyone has this happen but I did. I loved it and I was hooked.



    The First Season



    After that, I took any gig I could get and for the next 6 years, I spoke in front of thousands of people, all across the country and even internationally. I was giving talks on a variety of social media topics running exclusively on coffee, passion, and subject matter expertise. I was comfortable, funny — at times — and deeply invested my audience walking away with practical, tangible information.





    My audiences responded well, I got overall good feedback, and I thought I was great speaker.



    The First Awake

    • 12 min
    97 Tricks

    97 Tricks

    I have a new online course coming out soon called Hyperfocus that is a complete productivity system for people with ADHD, and I have a question for you.



    Should I price it at $497 or $499?



    On second thought, don’t answer that, I have another question…



    I’m only planning on offering 3 licenses in the first 6 months, do you want to join the waiting list?



    No, no, no, wait…don’t answer that. I know what I really want to ask you.



    Why are these obviously scammy sales and marketing tactics still a thing?



    Transparent Tactics



    Go through the directory of all online courses and all online product downloads, and they often have a price ending in 99 or 97.Look at most online courses or webinars and you’ll notice that despite being online and infinitely scalable, they often have limited seats and even more limited time to sign up before the deadline.Watch any advertisement on Youtube for making money and you’ll notice they all follow the same script about someone going from rags to riches when they discovered this one simple trick.



    With all that has been written about these marketing and sales tactics there’s no way that people are falling for it, right?





    I’m not so sure, however, my gut tells me that even though 99% of us can see through the BS, that 1% still makes it worth it to continue playing these games.



    99



    For nearly a century, companies have been setting their prices at $4.99 instead of $5.00. For anyone left who doesn’t know why, it’s because of a psychological trick that takes advantage of our tendency to read prices left to right. By seeing a lower number at the left, the price appears lower in our minds even though we rationally understand the real price after rounding. Something $997 is really $1,000. Something $4.99 is really $5.00.



    We all know it. And yet, we’re still doing it.



    The trick is all laid out for us to see. As consumers, the most we can really do is be annoyed. As businesses, however, we can choose to respect our customers enough to round up and be honest about the price, choosing instead to focus on making the product or service worth the actual, honest price. No tricks.



    Limited Time Only



    Since at least 1984 when Robert Cialdini published Influence, possibly even earlier with the invention of the department store “sale,” or possibly even before that, scarcity has been a tool to move people into action.



    We know it, but sometimes we still can’t help ourselves. When we see that Amazon listing shows “only 1 left in stock” we spring into action.



    Unfortunately, we don’t know if that’s even true, as clever marketers everywhere realized that there doesn’t actually need to be real scarcity to use the tactic.



    So, we continue to get campaigns that push and press on us to take action now before it’s too late.



    Immunity





    One of the things that I’ve gotten from a decade in marketing is a greater awareness of the tactics attempting to be used on me. Once I see the trick, it's harder for me to be fooled by it. Part of Becoming Superhuman, as you learn and think, is developing an immunity to manipulation. For me, I've found that companies that take the alternative approach of being honest, are somewhat refreshing. I think a lot of customers are looking for a little more honesty in the world.



    This is why, for at least the last 8 years, my prices have been flat numbers: $5, $50, $500, $5,000, etc.



    As I release my products and courses in the future, I plan to mak

    • 5 min
    The First Pancake

    The First Pancake

    For every stack of fluffy, buttery, golden pancakes, what immediately preceded it was an ugly, first pancake.



    It’s almost inevitable that the very first pancake of any batch is going to be ugly, and poorly executed. The pan isn’t hot enough, or perhaps it’s too hot. Maybe you greased the pan a little too much, or maybe you went a little too light on the non-stick spray or butter.



    In any event, while it probably tastes just fine, the very first pancake is usually not your best work.



    I have been away from Becoming Superhuman since September 5th. I consciously chose to eschew this project — temporarily — to instead focus on my role as father and husband with the arrival of our second child. Sleep and sanity have both been noticeably diminished.



    After a little more than a month completely off, I am back, and this is my first pancake.



    Starting Again, Amidst Uncertainty



    Life, thankfully, is rarely monotonous.



    Unexpected challenges or setbacks appear without warning…like the various leaks my home seems to spring on me or the appliances that break at the worst time. Exciting opportunities come crashing into your office like the Kool-Aid man, often when you are down to your last dollar or when you are double booked every hour on the hour. And, new ideas materialize from nothingness, leaving you to decide whether to hold on tight and pursue it, or let it fade back into obscurity from whence it came.



    All of this, while often stressful, does keep things interesting. Unfortunately, the process of putting all of these variables back in order can be quite difficult, especially if your underlying circumstances already keep you busy.



    If you’re anything like me recently, you may be wondering: how do we get back up to speed from a cold start or manage our energy and momentum amidst uncertainty?



    Here’s the four steps I’m taking to get back up to full speed following a month off.



    Step 1: Consult the face in the mirror



    I have ADHD, and (undiagnosed, but likely) low support needs Autism.



    I share this because as I explain my strategies for managing energy and momentum, it’s important to note that my advice is tinted by the unique way that my brain processes the world around me.





    I am open about my conditions and hope that doing so helps de-stigmatize the labels that are too often used to marginalize and malign, consequently leading people to mask their needs. Those who do not feel safe to set boundaries or ask for the accommodations they need, may stop searching for solutions. By shedding the stigma of these labels, we give everyone the freedom to truly investigate how their own minds work and hopefully find ways to drop the mask, show up powerfully and authentically, and find methods for pursuing what’s important to them.



    This is important because the first step to developing strategies for getting back up to speed or managing our energy, is to understand ourselves. I cannot give you the full list of questions to get to know yourself as it could fill an entire book. I’ll just encourage you to become intensely curious about how your brain works, what factors impact your energy and focus, and what purpose is at your core?



    Step 2: Honor your totems and routines





    To trigger a work session, I like music without lyrics. Some people like silence, or the Top 40, or TV in the background.



    I like to work late at night following a short nap after dinner — I like the darkness and quiet, and my mind is at its sharpest. I prefer working for LONG uninterrupted stretches of time because I know that taking a break after 20 minutes or an hour into my work is almost guaranteed to destroy my focus. Some people like to work first thing in the morning when their energy and focus are at its peak. They may need to take frequent breaks to maintain or strengthen their focus and may prefer to break their work up in

    • 9 min
    The remarkable similarities between unhealthy masculinity and bad leadership

    The remarkable similarities between unhealthy masculinity and bad leadership

    What’s your favorite movie of all time?



    Until recently, I had a number of movies vying for the title of “Jeff’s favorite movie.”



    I wouldn’t fault you for thinking it’s Spider-Man: No Way Home.





    I love that movie, it’s easily my second favorite movie of all time. Dead Poets Society made a huge impact on me at an important time in my life. Countless other movies have made it into the top 3, at various points of my life.



    Recently, I came across a movie that resonated with me in every possible way. It was exciting, engaging, thought-provoking, and emotionally touching. Immediately after the closing credits started rolling after my first viewing, I knew it was my favorite movie of all time. The movie is called Everything Everywhere All at Once.





    Whether or not you’ve seen it, we’re going to extract an important lesson from it. I’ll give you all of the context you need. However, I think we should start somewhere familiar…



    Who are our Leaders and Heroes?



    Quick! Think of a superhero.



    Chances are, most of you reading this thought of one of the following: Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron-Man, or possibly Wolverine. These are some of the most popular characters as well being some of the longest running publications.



    When we think of Leaders, a similar phenomenon occurs — we often think of men, first.



    In both of these cases, we have an unconscious bias that is largely a result of the availability heuristic (”rule of thumb”). The availability bias shows we are generally more likely to recall things that we see frequently or that stand out. In many cases, these biases can lead us to make incorrect conclusions as Daniel Kahneman points out in Thinking Fast and Slow.



    However, in the case of gender in leadership and comics, the stats are clear, men overwhelmingly dominate. Most of the prominent and celebrated leadership positions we see on a regular basis are dominated by men, even when considering any recent progress for gender parity. The Fortune 500 has reached an all time high for women CEOs…at 44, or 8%. Meanwhile, comics continue to have a representation problem that goes back decades.



    All of this is undergirded by the cultural norms handed down to us by the society we live in. While the sum-total of everything above is not the exact definition of the patriarchy, we are dancing in the same disco.



    via GIPHY



    The Leaders and Heroes we see



    When we have such a strong support system for placing men at the apex of society and in leadership or idolized roles, we naturally begin to analyze their traits assuming that it must be something in their behavior or habits that explains their success rather than any structural advantages created through violent opposition to equity.



    In a capitalist system, this means that we will find ourselves seeing success among those who are stoic or unfeeling, willing to be aggressive, willing to win at all costs in service of maximizing shareholder value. If you live in the US, you are also living in a country whose entire commonly shared history is a collection of stories that glorify war and conflict while glossing over the untold suffering caused by these conflicts. Is it any wonder that our leaders are influenced by a culture whose “real heroes” went into battle and whose fictional heroes are to be revered and modeled because they indulge our power fantasies of invulnerability and justified, righteous violence?





    It is here that we find ourselves waist deep in the conversation about culturally accepted understandings of masculinit

    • 7 min
    Working in Public

    Working in Public

    “Hey Jeff, what’s new?”



    Oh, nothing much. Same old, same old.



    Do you ever do that, or is it just me? People ask “how you are” or “what’s new in your world” and you skate right past it into “just another day in paradise.”



    Not today!



    I do a lot behind-the-scenes and often don’t talk about my projects until they are published. This is odd since I’ve long been an advocate for documenting your process and sharing your work along the way.



    So, today, I’m going to follow my own advice and share what I’ve been working on. Nearly all of these are works in progress and not ready for prime time, so please take these with a grain of salt and be kind.



    Here are 10 things I’m working on right now outside of the work I do with my clients. My clients always take precedence over the following. These are the projects I work on late at night when the emails stop coming in and my mind is free to focus on passion projects.



    1. A Website that’ll knock your socks off



    Websites are never “done.” There’s always something to add, update, refresh, or retire.



    My current website hasn’t done a good job of showcasing my work as a speaker and workshop trainer. It’s hard to navigate and especially not good at surfacing the “best of” content. The new site addresses many of these shortcomings with a much improved design.









    2. A Game-Changing Podcast Network: Shareable.fm





    I’ve mentioned it here and there but it’s just about ready for launch. I’m in discussions with the guys over at TurnKey Podcasts to be my partners for the network.



    There are a few details that need to get ironed out and there’s still a bunch of pages on the site with placeholder copy.



    Shareable.fm is a podcast network built for podcasters BY podcasters. It’s first and foremost a network that supports podcasters with help clarifying their message, growing their audience, monetizing their shows, and streamlining their production. The benefit for non-podcasters is the creation of a collection of podcasts with shareable content.



    Podcasters win and listeners win!



    Could we be the next Gimlet? The next Wondery? Who knows? Only time will tell.



    Sign-ups for podcasters start soon.



    3. Something you gotta tell someone about: Shareable Season 6



    The last episode of my podcast Shareable was on February 4th. I’d been on hiatus since then.



    I put the show on hiatus for two reasons.



    I had taken on too many projects (see: this post — the one you’re reading)I wanted to change things up a bit so the show didn’t get stale.



    As of last week, Shareable relaunched for season 6 with a new format, now hosted on Shareable.fm (see above), and with a production process that is hopefully going to be more scalable and sustainable. If you haven’t yet listened to Shareable or {gasp} not yet subscribed, now is a great time to do so. Check it out.



    4. Ever want to be a Superhero? Check out The Superhero Institute





    The Superhero Institute is a coaching certification training. Completion of the training curriculum entitles coaches to promote themselves as authorized, certified superheroes. They’re also given a listing in our directory of superhero coaches (the Superhero Universe).



    Up until recently however, most of this was just an idea. I’ve been working in the background to build the site required to put this idea into motion.



    Again, if you’re brave, here’s the staging site.



    The curriculum is completely developed but not yet recorded and made available as an online training program — that comes next. I’m also looking to talk to 25-30 coaches who can h

    • 8 min

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