Justin Brady — Lessons Learned and Short Advice

I crafted a list of 10 life’s philosophical questions that I wanted to answers for myself. I could easily answer the questions based on my thinking. I thought—what would it look like if I ask the same set of questions to the best in the world from the different domain—so that I can learn from them—what they do, how they think on the same questions, and much more!

I’ve the honor of introducing my guest Justin Brady. I learned about him from my friend’s(Kathy Caprino) podcast and Justin is very kind enough to answer my questions.

Justin Brady amplifies the best ideas, entrepreneurs, and companies on earth. He achieves this with his podcast, writing, and PR/comms consulting for emerging tech. Cultivate Strategies utilizes PR, comms, and sneaky content strategies to reach millions of people. Nothing drives Brady more batty than seeing great ideas and great minds discarded—it happens every day.

Justin’s writing on communication, tech, creativity, and work culture have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, 99U and Quartz. His podcast has featured A-list business leaders and hit iHeart’s top 1% most downloaded podcast.

Connect with Justin Website | LinkedIn | Twitter

Please enjoy this conversation with Justin!

Nishant Garg: What books—or even movies and documentaries—would you recommend to someone who want to live a meaningful life? What books have you gifted the most, and why?

Justin Brady:

  • In Pursuit of Elegance, by Matthew May. He addresses why people overcomplicate new ideas. And how the best ideas are elegant, simple and focused.
  • A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink. It addresses future work styles and why creative arts gives creators a huge advantage.
  • Retire Inspired, by Chris Hogan. He talks about why becoming a millionaire isn’t rocket science, and how keeping up with the Jonses destroys your financial future.
  • Entreleadership, by Dave Ramsey. He discusses concrete entrepreneur strategies that helped him build Ramsey Solutions into a multi-million dollar company.

Nishant Garg: What does your first 60 to 90 minutes in the morning look like? What are your specific rituals on a regular basis?

Justin Brady: Outside of drinking coffee and getting ready for the day, I usually have morning calls with clients to touch base, and provide guidance. I also take about 10 minutes to respond to communications like email.

Nishant Garg: You have interacted with many successful people over the years – what have you found are the most beneficial exercises that people really feel have changed their lives for the better?

Justin Brady:

  • Truly successful people seem to be focused on a problem, and naturally curious, asking a lot of questions. They don’t seem concerned about how silly they will look for asking “stupid” questions.
  • They also set goals for themselves on a specific timeline.
  • They also have coaches and mentors that surround them to keep them focused and accountable.

Nishant Garg: In the last 3 years, how have you handled work/life challenges? If so, what questions do you ask yourself during tough times? What does your support system look like(any go-to-person)?

Justin Brady:

  • I have a tight relationship with family and friends and make sure I’m connecting with them often, outside of work. This keeps me focused on what really matters. I also have a coach that I pay monthly to keep me focused.
  • The exercise I do during the hard times is to write down my fears or everything bothering me. Getting something written down seems to help me focus on my problems objectively, and problems aren’t as mysterious or elusive once they’re written down.
  • I also embrace my own personal experience that failure is an extremely normal thing. I’ve failed hard, but I’ve learned incredible things from failure has led to incredible experiences. So, even if my current business dies some day, I know that the experience will be an incredible teacher, leading to something better.

Nishant Garg: What advice people should ignore when suffering with depression, anxiety, or any other negative emotions? Do you have a particular message you would like to give to the people?

Justin Brady:

  • I’m not sure what advice anyone should ignore, I’m not an expert in this area. In my own experience, I’d suggest folks struggling with anxiety or depression force themselves to connect with others and expand their relationships. In the dark times, you will not feel like socializing, but you must. Find people you can be 100% open and honest with. You’ll discover you aren’t as lonely as you think you are.
  • I’d also strongly recommend someone find a qualified therapist ASAP. Don’t ever walk the depression/anxiety road alone. Even hardened military buddies of mine, see therapists. We use health coaches for our body, we also need health coaches for our minds.

Nishant Garg: What practices do you have in your life to calm your mind and body during overwhelming moments? Any recommendation to someone who constantly feels stressed out?

Justin Brady:

  • I connect with friends and family. I also read Scripture and pray, and combine it with daily meditation. I’ve found the Calm app has great resources to teach meditation from an neutral/non-spiritual standpoint. It’s a very grounded, scientific approach which I appreciate.
  • If someone is constantly stressed out, I’d examine your life goals. Personally, I was living in a prison of my own creation, because I had linked my identity to my former business. I hated it business, but it was my identity so I kept going. And my life kept eroding. I should have quit sooner and found something more fulfilling.

Nishant Garg: How do you cultivate joy in your life? Whom do you consider the most happy and fulfilled to you personally, and why? Could you share any instance(s) that caused you unhappiness and how you dealt with it?

Justin Brady:

  • I surround myself with positive, uplifting, and success-minded people. I also meet regularly with a Bible study group I can be honest with. I manage or distance myself from negativity.
  • I also read positive books, listen to positive podcasts, and watch positive shows. Especially as I get older, I find that violent movies, or crass films, really dampen my mood. So I favor positive/uplifting content.
  • Who you hang out with and what you consume changes you. So make that change a positive one.

Nishant Garg: How do you find the balance between being appreciative of what you already have and striving to achieve more? 

Justin Brady: I constantly struggle with wanting to achieve more and being unsatisfied with my accomplishments. It never ends. Therefore, I integrate thankfulness into my daily prayer routine. I constantly remind myself of my blessings and I have a wife who encourages me and reminds me of the blessings as well.

Nishant Garg: What are some of the things you have changed your mind about in the last few years? Do you have any other favorite quote(s) or life philosophy you live your life by? 

Justin Brady:

  • I’ve changed my mind about so much. I used to think you had to drop everything to start a business. Not true. I used to think creative cultures couldn’t be made. Not true. I usd to think people are incapable of change. Not true. I use to believe in fail fast, pivot quickly. Turns out that’s stupid. It’s really more strategic. I used to believe you should never give up. Now I think giving up is good when moving to something better.
  • I suppose it’s important to know that goals, dreams, and minds change. Expect that something you’re focused on and excited about right now, may change in 5-10 years. Maybe sooner. And that’s ok.
  • If you’re not changing your mind or making changes in life, you’re not truly learning anything.

Nishant Garg: Could you share any conversation from your life, or maybe more than one conversation that has made the most impact in your life? What is the biggest lesson you took away?

Justin Brady: A buddy of mine once told me the biggest limitations we face are those we place on ourselves. It’s truly amazing to me how many goals we can achieve once we write the goal down, and find someone to hold us accountable. A focused person is a powerful force.

Please enjoy!


If you’d like to learn more about what I am reading, new documentaries, what I am learning new, recent podcast updates, things I am experimenting with, or anything —which I share extensively in my weekly short and sweet “Friday Newsletter”. No spam ever! I hate that too!

The Nishant Garg Show is listened to in 24 countries and is about extracting information on Mindfulness, Personal Development, Spirituality. I am on a mission to spread Mindfulness and I’d love for you to join me in this movement. For any question, please contact me. If you have enjoyed listening to my podcasts, please subscribe to the new podcast updates on Itunes. Please provide your reviews on Itunes which will really help me. Subscribe to the Newsletter. You won’t be spammed! I hate spams too! You will receive only one email every Friday on the latest published podcasts.

Lessons, Realization, and Relationships from Interviewing 150+ Experts

I may have an unhappy day at home. Things may not go right. I can’t control – but when that light goes on, I control my environment. And then, how many people get to control their environment? So, when I hosted a radio show every night or television show every day or wrote a column, I controlled the question I would ask. I controlled my environment.

I may have an unhappy day at home. Things may not go right. I can’t control – but when that light goes on, I control my environment. And then, how many people get to control their environment? So, when I hosted a radio show every night or television show every day or wrote a column, I controlled the question I would ask. I controlled my environment.

– Larry King

As of writing this post, I have interviewed 170+ amazing people who are experts in their own fields since the beginning of 2020. There are many ways to craft interviewing skill. I am not the one with natural talent of listening and curiosity. I really have to practice at it. Of course, you get better with the right practice with measurable outcomes.

To become better at asking good questions — you’ve to study this art, you’ve to study great interviewers. I specifically study Tim Ferriss’s work the way he asks questions on his podcast The Tim Ferriss Show. Cal Fussman is another Master interviewer and who can forget Larry King. Lately, I have been listening to Kathy Caprino’s podcast Finding Brave. Kathy’s energy is amazing and she brings elevated positive mood in the interviews. So, I’d say to you to find those interviewers whose energy and style match with yours.

If you are reading this post, you either have a podcast or interview people in some format. You might already be a great interviewer, or a beginner, or anything in between. I hope this post will help you to fine-tune your interviewing approach. Even if you’re not an interviewer, your ability to ask great questions will give a great advantage in your work, relationships and every where you interact with humans(may be with animals as well).

Here is the big question: “How do you create a great experience for yourself, guests, and the listeners?” I wrote the first part Lessons Learned From Tim Ferriss and Larry King To Interview The Best In The World which will give you more insights and understanding.

Only practice will move you forward. Here you go

1)Don’t be afraid to ask a stupid question:

I asked Kristen Manieri — “when you wake up in the morning , which app do you check first?” I was recording with Laura Bakosh in the morning and I asked her — “what did you have in the breakfast?” She responded — “nothing, she is on an intermittent fasting”..

I asked Marc Lesser that your book name is Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader — “Can this book be used by someone who’s not a leader in any capacity if they want to learn to be mindful”? I asked Tal Ben-Shahar – “Do you consider yourself as introvert or extrovert?”

I ask questions I feel like to ask in the moment without judging anything. In the beginning, it used to be scary to ask such stupid questions. You can only ask stupid questions(or any good follow up question) if you are actively listening. You might think the question as being stupid, yet it might sound like a thought provoking question to the guest. You never know!

I am not going to lie — I was super nervous before the interview with Alisa Cohn. I wanted to start with a lightweight question and actually ended up asking, “How do you coach founders and cofounders in the startup world”? This is a great question and I think it still is a broad question to ask especially after hitting the record button. I try to start with a simple lightweight questions. To my surprise, Alisa liked this question and really enjoyed answering it. An example of a simple question example – “How would your family describe what do you do for a living”?

I remind myself to go with a curious mind because I can only control my questions and can’t control what guests may interpret. I asked Amy Coleman – “what kind of a doctor are you?”

So, folks, listen up, and then ask if you really want to ask. The worst case is If they(guests) don’t like it or you are not satisfied with the answer or you think it may not serve your audience – edit it out. Simple! No big deal!

2) Control the environment: “If you can control it, then do it. If you can’t, then let it go”. We all have heard of it. 

In the interview, even though I am a passive driver, yet it’s up to me how I want to navigate the conversation. It’s a constant practice to be in the moment, actively listening, coming up with the follow up questions, and moving to another topic. I don’t have an innate talent for this and I have been able to practice this with 170+ guests(as of writing this post). Yes, asking good/great questions is a skill and can be cultivated.

I can try to control the interview by controlling the kind of questions I want to ask. It also depends a lot on my preparation. I spend a few hours going through the guest’s profiles including books, blogs, or anything they have done in their lifetime. Most of the time, I try to ask questions and cover topics I am personally excited about and want to learn. This is something I can control for sure. I can’t control what questions or topics my audience want to learn — unless they send me questions via email or social.

I remember this particular instance in my interview with Megan McDonough. She was explaining about the process of Living with EASE and then went on to explaining about her CORE values. I was actively listening and asked a follow up question: “How do you live your core value of love when you have a conflict with a member of your family”? 

Every episode on the podcast sounds different because I try to be in the moment and not worrying about other things. If I come up with a great question, it’s in the moment. Tomorrow, I may not come up with good questions. Who knows! So, do your preparation, and then go with it. That’s what I tell myself every single time.

3) Don’t Judge yourself for anything: Do you ever feel scared to ask a deep personal question to a good friend? Sometimes, I do, and sometimes I don’t. If my intention is to learn about that person, I will ask deep questions — which requires vulnerability. It may not be easier to ask deep questions to people whom you may not know very well. You may think what if they get offended, and what if you might come across as interrogating them, etc. etc.

In an interview, the intention is clear that you will be asking questions.  Simple! Asking questions is a craft. You won’t get it right if you haven’t practiced this skill before. You may not always get it right even when you have some or more experience. We all want to look good and are afraid of sounding stupid in front of others. But, that’s OK. If you go with a curious mind to learn about another person as a human being, you will feel less scared and you have less anxiety.

When I just started the podcast, I was not comfortable asking deep personal questions and in fact, I did not do in the first few episodes. Later on, I realized that my guests have been interviewed hundreds and thousands of times. I asked myself “How can I create a great emotional experience for them“? To create this experience, I had to go deeper which required active listening. I suggest you to practice listening in a way that you could ask a follow up question and still be able to navigate to other questions and topics. It’s going to take some time to get to this point. So, listen up, my friend and keep practicing.

Example: I asked Jill Bolte Taylor — “what do you do for fun?” This question may sound stupid, but I am coming from a place of curiosity.

I am in the moment. If I am not in the moment and just thinking about the next question, I might lose some good touch points. Every story brings tons of follow up questions and you can ask follow up questions with these keywords — “how did you feel in the situation X or when Y happened? What did you do…..? “HOW, WHAT, WHY”. I remember recording with Nicole Tetreault and she was discussing her deceased mother. I was in the moment and I asked – “what would you tell your mom if she is listening to this conversation”?

I don’t judge myself for any questions I ask. I try to analyze the interview later from a place of Compassionate Inquiry and not to beat myself up.

I remember two instances(very early in the podcasting) when I wasn’t sure how the interview went with Guy Kawasaki and Garrain Jones. I was analyzing too much. Perhaps I was unconsciously trying to judge the whole situation and later on I just told myself — “I did, what I did. I can’t change the outcome. I was in the moment. “

Some question might work great for one person and may not work for another. You can’t control that. You can only control yourself, you can only control your thinking and question. So never be afraid of asking stupid questions. You learn when you are curious. Be in the moment. Listen up!

4) Putting guests at ease before hitting the record: Psychological dynamics change when the record button is pressed. As Tim Ferriss says “you could interview a hundred people without a microphone and recording equipment, but as soon as you’re holding a mic, you’re hitting record, it’s being preserved, the psychological dynamics are different.” Check the full interview of Tim Ferriss and Cal Fussman here

I literally tell my guests that “there is no expectation from you. If you are not comfortable talking about anything, let’s not talk about it.” I also tell them if I ask a follow up question that makes you uncomfortable, you can pass it. This interview is editable. So, do not worry. I want you to feel relaxed and comfortable.”

5. You don’t have to know all the questions before the interview. Prepare for it, spend some time before the interview and think about what topics you might want to cover. I go with the intention of creating a master class that is timeless. This helps me in staying grounded and be present (mostly).

6) My style is getting concrete. Henna Inam was sharing about compassion practice. I asked a follow up question: “can you share any instance when you felt challenged to be compassionate?” Always try to ask for specific instances and examples . Some examples look like — “Could you give us an example of X”. “Would you mind giving an example that comes to your mind”?

7) Going with the mindset of I don’t know. I tend to ask questions which I don’t know and personally want to learn from guests. I can’t control and don’t always know what the audience wants. This mindset helps me to stay curious. I also let the guests know that “I am deep in the ignorance pool – please educate me.”

In the earlier days, one of the challenging interview was with Mickra Hamilton who’s a pioneer in the Epigenetics and human precision system. I didn’t know anything about the topic. I asked so many simple and dumb questions that luckily made the interview very well. Now, she and I are good friends.

And, the same thing happened in the interview with Inna Khazan on the topic of Biofeedback. I strongly feel that curiosity will always make the interview good, and in most cases — excellent. Another example is with the Raj Raghunathan. He was sharing the morning rituals, and when he shared about the breakfast banana shake — I asked him the recipe of the shake. My intention is to create a deep connection with the interviewees.

I hope this helps you! Happy Interviewing! If you’d like to get my help in your interview process, reach out to me!

The Nishant Garg Show:

This show is about helping you live a fulfilled life and my job on this show is to sit with the world class experts to extract the practices, routines and habits to help you live a fulfilled and abundant life. For any question, please contact me.

If you have enjoyed listening to my podcasts, please subscribe to the new podcast updates on Itunes please provide your reviews on Itunes which will really help me. Subscribe to the Newsletter. You won’t be spammed! I hate spams too! You will receive only one email every Friday on the latest published podcasts.

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