90 episodes

A deep dive into the stories, habits, ideas, strategies and methods that drive fulfilled people and create enormous success for them. The guests are diverse, but they share profound similarities. They’re guided by purpose, live with intense joy, learn passionately, and see the world with a unique lens. Each episode lets us soak in their hard-earned wisdom and apply it to our lives. Guests include Neil deGrasse Tyson, Seth Godin, and Tyler Cowen.

North Star Podcast David Perell

    • Business
    • 4.5 • 95 Ratings

A deep dive into the stories, habits, ideas, strategies and methods that drive fulfilled people and create enormous success for them. The guests are diverse, but they share profound similarities. They’re guided by purpose, live with intense joy, learn passionately, and see the world with a unique lens. Each episode lets us soak in their hard-earned wisdom and apply it to our lives. Guests include Neil deGrasse Tyson, Seth Godin, and Tyler Cowen.

    Rob Henderson: An Internet Academic

    Rob Henderson: An Internet Academic

    Rob Henderson is one of my favorite up-and-coming writers. I like him because he's one of those people who doesn't fit into a category. He's a Ph.D. candidate in psychology, but I met him in a book club about technological stagnation. He's spent years in the academy, first at Yale and now at Cambridge, but most of his influence comes from his online writing.
    Most of all, he's interested in human nature. In particular, psychology, status, and social class. Those interests come from his background. During his childhood, he bounced around between foster homes in California. After working as a busboy, a dishwasher, and a supermarket bagger, he joined the Air Force at the age of 17. After his enlistment, he ended up at Yale and now, Cambridge. Please enjoy my conversation with Rob Henderson.

    • 1 hr 12 min
    Chrisman Frank and Ana Lorena Fabrega: How Childhood Education Will Change

    Chrisman Frank and Ana Lorena Fabrega: How Childhood Education Will Change

    This week, I have two guests. Both are affiliated with Synthesis, a new kind of online school where kids learn through games and simulations. One is Chrisman Frank, the CEO of Synthesis. The other is Ana Lorena Fabrega, who is their Chief Evangelist.
    Here's the backstory: A few years ago, Elon Musk asked the co-founder to start an experimental school with him at Space X. The goal was to develop students who are enthralled by complexity and solving for the unknown. Synthesis was the most innovative learning experience from that school and spun off into its own company. In full transparency, I'm an investor.
    This episode presents a vision for the future of childhood education, enabled by the Internet. Please enjoy my conversation with Ana Lorena Fabrega and Chrisman Frank.

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Ash Fontana: Building Artificial Intelligence

    Ash Fontana: Building Artificial Intelligence

    Ash Fontana is an entrepreneur, investor, and author. As an entrepreneur, he was only of the early employees at an online investing platform called AngelList. From there, he became the Managing Director at Zetta, the first investment fund focused on artificial intelligence. Now, he's the author of the AI-First Company.
    This conversation is about that book. Ash says that AI-First companies are the only trillion-dollar companies, and soon they will dominate even more industries, more definitively than ever before. But we don't just talk about the book. We also talk about health, continental philosophy, and Ash's obsession with bicycling. Please enjoy my conversation with Ash Fontana.

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Li Jin: Creating the Creator Economy

    Li Jin: Creating the Creator Economy

    My guest today is Li Jin, the founder and managing partner at an early-stage venture capital firm called Atelier.
    She's known for her extensive writings about the Passion Economy.
    Her essays explore how people can make a living from their passions and creative skills.
    All of her writing is filtered through the lens of consumer startups and the technology industry.
    In this episode, we explore Li's perspective on the future of the creator economy.
    We talk about what it'll take to build a middle class for creators and how platforms should enable creator monetization.
    But then we venture beyond the world of work and discuss the novels of Jane Austen, what Li learned by growing up in Pittsburgh, and why she thinks social media and content creation are valuable pursuits.
    Please enjoy my conversation with Li Jin.

    Show Notes:

    2:37 - How do content creators get users to migrate platforms and engage in unfamiliar apps?
    5:44 - Why is some digital content more consumable than others?
    13:07 - What is the driving force behind Li’s background in English literature?
    17:34 - Why Jane Austen is so incredibly important to the world of modern creatives
    21:56 - What has contributed to the alienation of gig workers in modern economy?
    24:57 - Where does Li Jin’s technological optimism stem from?
    28:32 - What is an “Angel Investor”, and how do they influence the modern world of content creation?
    32:55 - What is the difference between an artist and a creator?
    37:44 - How has the modern market created space for content creators?
    42:19 - What causes creative burnout in the world of content creators?
    50:01 - What are the implications of viral fame in the modern world of content creators?
    57:46 - Which aspects of traditional and non-traditional education were most impactful on Li Jin?
    1:08:55 - What are some things that both successful and aspiring content creators often misunderstand about the industry
    1:14:20 - What are some of the parallels between the worlds of writing and investing?
    1:18:08 - How Li Jin embodies the spirit of a malleable fate

    • 1 hr 22 min
    Zena Hitz: Liberal Arts Thinking

    Zena Hitz: Liberal Arts Thinking

    My guest today is Zena Hitz, a tutor at St John’s and the author of an excellent book called Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life. Her book explores the meaning and the value of learning for its own sake, through images and stories of bookworms, philosophers, scientists, and other learners, both fictional and historical.
    That’s the jumping-off point for this episode. We also talked about the relationship between religion and the Liberal Arts, why studying the Liberal Arts has become so unfashionable among average people, and how an essay about Oedipus Rex inspired her to become an intellectual.
    Show Notes
    1:37 - What about Oedipus Rex grabbed Zena's attention and inspired her to pursue intellectualism.
    7:05 - What Zena sees as a "good" question in an intellectual frame, and why good materials can get you to them more easily.
    9:55 - Why the most profound questions won't show up at the beginning of your inquiry, and how the common person's depth of inquiry has seemed to dwindle since the past.
    13:19 - How Zena maintains her attention reading books when it is so easy to be distracted.
    17:00 - Why it is decadent, complacent, and undermining to ourselves and our community to pursue education only in what will get us work.
    23:53 - How people pursued lifelong learning in the past and why it's even more viable of an option today.
    28:07 - What Zena hopes to give to the world at large through her work.
    33:51 - How the monumental shifts in wealth and inequality have hindered people's ability to contemplate ideas they deem important.
    36:20 - The differences in solitary and communal efforts to contemplate intellectual topics.
    39:40 - Why we shouldn't be consuming books, but rather engaging directly with them.
    44:03 - Why Zena believes that the idea of a patriarchal or caucasian canon is a myth.
    49:02 - How education is a means of training your mind while simultaneously freeing it.
    53:04 - The affinity between the liberal arts and religion.
    55:11 - Where Zena learned how to write and why she has trouble writing if she doesn't have an audience.
    58:42 - How to use writing to improve your thinking.
    1:01:30 - Why St. John's has deliberately set itself apart from research universities.
    1:05:33 - The crisis in Zena's life that kicked off her political thinking and essays, and why she believes that our current institutions are becoming increasingly disconnected from our humanity.
    1:13:23 - What brought Zena to religion when there is a historic amount of people leaving it.

    • 1 hr 18 min
    Tiago Forte and Will Mannon: Building Cohort-Based Courses

    Tiago Forte and Will Mannon: Building Cohort-Based Courses

    I have two guests today: Tiago Forte and Will Mannon.
    Tiago is my business partner and the creator of an online course called Building a Second Brain. The two of us record a podcast like this every year to reflect on what we’ve learned about the online education industry. And this time, we invited our Director of Student Experience: Will Mannon.
    Will oversees all aspects of the student experience with the exception of curriculum design. He’s at the frontier of thinking about live online learning, from how assignments should be delivered to how live sessions should be structured.
    Show Notes
    3:21 - Why hiring your first employee is one of the most important steps you'll take in your business.
    5:38 - How sharing a workforce and resources with another business or entrepreneur can help fast-track personal and professional growth.
    11:00 - How running an online course is like organizing a music tour.
    13:30 - The role of the alumni mentors in Tiago's courses, and how they have changed from his first to his most recent cohort.
    17:16 - What different mentors can bring to the table and why the differences between them all brings strength to the program.
    21:03 - Why giving as many people as possible the ability to lead allows much more effective learning for everyone.
    25:04 - The nature of burnout and why creatives are so prone to experiencing it.
    31:04 - Discovering the right size for a cohort and how to scale effectively.
    37:13 - How to help students find each other and make meaningful and lifelong connections with each other.
    40:28 - The "beer mode" and "coffee mode" of productivity.
    44:32 - How to increase your focus by never giving yourself enough time.
    51:02 - Why David and Will organize Write of Passage to have attendees "come for the ideas and stay for the people".
    56:23 - Why running a course should be about empowering leadership in students, not in building dependence on the teacher.
    1:02:33 - Why the element of shock is so fundamental to deep learning.
    1:06:43 - How friendship can come so readily out of hardship and pain.
    1:11:33 - The unusual growth of David and Tiago's online brand this year and what sparked it.
    1:14:45 - Why writing a book summary for Tiago is so integral in internalizing the information and the message contained within it.
    1:24:22 - What hands-on education and perseverance in the face of extreme difficulty can teach us that traditional education never can.
    1:32:30 - What we can learn about education from businesses and markets outside of the educational sphere.
    1:36:33 - Why success in a new business should not be focusing on competition, but on radical differentiation.
    1:39:23 - The importance of finding your community online and curating it to inspire and inform you.

    • 1 hr 44 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
95 Ratings

95 Ratings

Kevin Beach ,

Curiosity jack of all trades

David’s natural curiosity and energizer bunny energy make each episode interesting and a joy to listen to. I’m amazed by how he can go down unusual rabbit holes with some of the worlds best thinkers. I recommend starting with the Tyler Cowen episode.

Nick102215484 ,

Excellent questions and guests

David asks insightful questions, then cultivates a void for the guests to fill. This allows for longform discussions and depth.

I’m tearing through these episodes!

tbswitze ,

Zena Hitz

David’s interview with Zena Hitz was a gem. Truly masterful conversation orchestrated by David’s well researched and thought out questions. Loved it.

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