My 10 Favorite Podcast Interviews From ‘Season One’

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Summer is officially here which means the first season of the Optimize Yourself Podcast has come to a close (don’t worry…I’ll be back right after Labor Day). I cannot express enough how grateful I am to all of my listeners who inspire me to keep this program alive every single day. Please feel free to continue reaching out and sharing your stories (and your challenges) with me. I read every single message I receive.

It is my belief that it’s no longer necessary to sacrifice your health (and your sanity) in pursuit of your creative career or your business, and in season 2 I promise to continue finding the best experts I can to help design the optimized version of you…one small action step at a time.

Since entering the world of podcasting 4 years ago now (it’s been four years already???) I’ve interviewed over 150 people ranging from world-class experts in many different fields to everyday people sharing their personal journeys, their challenges, and their triumphs. I learn something profound and meaningful from every single interview, and I hope that you do as well. While choosing my favorite episodes (and your favorite episodes) from the past year is like choosing my favorite child, I’ve done my best based on user feedback, download statistics, and my own personal feelings as well.

Below are my top 10 favorite podcast interviews from Season 1.

1. Breaking ‘Bad’ From Assistant to Editor | with Kelley Dixon, ACE

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Kelley Dixon is simply a badass. She has edited some of the most iconic shows in television history including Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and The Walking Dead…to name a small few. What most people don’t realize is that she spent over twenty years working as an assistant editor before becoming an “overnight success.” This interview was EPIC, diving in for over 2 1/2 hours into the intricacies of Kelley’s journey from the bottom to the top. We also discuss her ninja-like strategies for perfecting her craft despite working long and demanding hours as an assistant.

2. Understanding the Link Between Creativity and Depression | with Dr. Edison de Mello

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This is the first episode of the Optimize Yourself podcast, and that’s by design. One of the fundamental themes I revisit in all of my podcasts, articles, and my online courses is the idea of optimizing creativity. Unfortunately if you are blessed with creative abilities, they often come at a price. And that price is battling mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and burnout. In this interview I do a deep dive into the link between creativity and mental health issues with the man who saved my life many years ago, Dr. Edison de Mello of The Akasha Center For Integrative Medicine.

3. How to Rewrite Your Own Story | with Dr. Steven Isaacman

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I recorded this episode more for my own personal reasons than because I thought it would be popular, but it ended up being the 3rd most downloaded episode of the whole season! In this episode I do a deep dive into the practice of psychoanalysis and the stories we write for ourselves every single day that could be holding us back from achieving great things. Dr. Steven Isaacman and I also have an in-depth discussion about the dreaded ‘imposter syndrome’ and how to overcome it when you work in creative fields.

4. The Disciplined Pursuit of Less | with Greg McKeown

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“Less. But Better.” This is the mantra of best-selling author of Greg McKeown, and I couldn’t agree more. This is one of my favorite episodes because Greg takes a very honest approach towards all the noise and busy-ness we deal with in society today, and he helps us understand what is required to truly prioritize our lives properly and say “No” to everything urgent in our lives. If you want to start focusing on achieving important things in your life (and start ignoring the urgent), this episode is a must-listen.

5. FOCUS: The Superpower of the 21st Century | with Cal Newport

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Cal Newport is quite possibly one of the world’s foremost experts on the concept of ‘Deep Work,’ and we wasted no time diving deep into what is required to regularly get into this mental state to achieve maximum levels of creative flow. I learned a ton from this interview that I am now incorporating into my upcoming Focus Yourself online program, and if you feel like you’re constantly distracted with no real direction, it’s time to start developing focus as your next superpower.

6. How to Reverse Depression, Anxiety, and ADD at the Genetic Level | with Dr. Ben Lynch

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The work that Dr. Ben Lynch is doing in the world of genetic testing and diagnosis is absolute LIFE. CHANGING. Having battled anxiety and depression for over a decade now I’ve experimented with numerous supplement and prescription medication routines, much of which was trial & error. But thanks to new technology from companies like 23andMe we can now get an accurate picture of our unique genetic makeup. Unfortunately most of the data is near-impossible to interpret, but that’s where Dr. Lynch comes in. His “Clean Genes” protocol helps you understand your unique genetic code and also design the right lifestyle changes to optimize your own genetic expression. Of all of the episodes I released this year, this episode has received the most profound feedback from my listeners.

7. Finding Your ‘One Thing’ | with Jay Papasan

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Whenever listeners and readers reach out to me confused about where to go with their careers or how to improve their health, often times the biggest problem is they have too many goals, too many priorities, and too many different projects they are taking on at one time. Thanks to Jay Papasan, co-author of the best-selling book ‘The One Thing,” there is now a simple formula to figure out the most impactful actions you can take to see the most results in your life. There isn’t a single day that goes by for me when I don’t ask myself, “What is the ONE THING I can do today such that by doing it everything else becomes easier (or unnecessary)?”

8. Your ‘Smart’ Phone Is Killing Your Creativity | with Kevin Holesh

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Talking about the exploding epidemic of tech addiction is one of my favorite subjects, and in this episode I do a deep dive into specifically being addicted to “smart” phones (which in my opinion could just as easily be called “dumb” phones, because that’s what they’re doing to us). My guest is Kevin Holesh who designed the wonderful app Moment which is basically a Fitbit for your phone usage. Not only can it help you more clearly understand how much you’re using your phone on a daily basis, the app can also help you drastically cut back on your addiction to your “smart” phone.

9. How to Tell Good Stories | with Jeff Bartsch

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Storytelling has been my life’s work for almost twenty years, and in this episode I chat with fellow film editor and Story Greenlight founder Jeff Bartsch about the components required to tell great stories. This applies to anyone who works in creative fields, not just editor or writers like us. But more importantly, not only do we discuss how to tell good stories, we discuss the importance of being able to tell your own story.

10. The Right Way to Network In Hollywood | with Chris Visser

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I’m probably a bit biased when recommending this episode as one of my favorites, but that’s because the guest Chris Visser is my (current) assistant editor. In this episode we do a deep dive into Chris’ approach to building a relationship with me over time and networking the right way to become an integral part of my team. For anyone who’s a socially awkward introvert struggling to build a professional network, this is a must-listen.

I’d love to know in the comments below, which was your favorite interview of this season? What would you like to learn more about Season 2?

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, and the creator of the Optimize Yourself program. Zack helps ambitious creative professionals and entrepreneurs overcome procrastination, depression, and creative burnout so they can get sh*t done and achieve the most meaningful goals in their lives...without sacrificing their sanity in the process. If you’re interested in learning how to better manage your time, your energy, and develop ninja-like focus, download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”