Back to Work

Back to Work

Back to Work is an award winning talk show with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discussing productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more.

Hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.



#231: Hot Rod Hospital Ship

July 28, 2015 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 58 minutes

With Merlin on sabbatical (returning next week), Dan is once again joined by John Roderick. They discuss the significance of dreams, sleep paralysis, unexplained phenomenon, alien abductions, a relationship with magic, the importance of history, night terrors, and leaving a legacy.


#230: My Emotional Reservoir

July 21, 2015 at 3:15PM • 2 hours 8 minutes

With Merlin on sabbatical, Dan is joined by John Roderick to talk about being a candidate, taking care of yourself, managing introversion, trying on ideas without fear, the Thirty Years War, and the struggle of being a generalist.


#229: Shrimp in the Desert

July 14, 2015 at 1:15PM • 1 hour 32 minutes

TOPIC: The perils and joys of just getting started.

This week's episode is chockablock with awesomeness, from the sublime to the ridiculous. It ends on a very inspiring note. But, en route:

  • Mexican guys love Morrissey
  • Shabbos goys cause fire to be created
  • An eruv is an ad hoc house described by string
  • Merlin has Aloha for Judaism
  • Teaching History is hard
  • America owes some apologies
  • Endorsing "Ordinary People Change the World" books
  • Endorsing Mr. Robot and Humans
  • Thanks for great Holacracy feedback (more later)
  • Feedback on Merlin's lightning cable corrosion
  • Dan's Concern: Acura recall
  • What's up with "over the shoulder syndrome?"
  • Is it dangerous to talk on a phone in the car?
  • Is it dangerous to approbate?
  • HUGE followup on "perfect is the enemy of the good"
  • Just make a mark on a page.


#228: Tibet's Next Top Buddha

July 7, 2015 at 2:15PM • 1 hour 18 minutes

TOPIC: What kind of "perfect" can you tolerate?

This week, Dan and Merlin have a big week. A huge week.

Opening with a thank you to generous listeners, the boys then proceed to tackle some FU on the complicated world of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III (he is recognized!).

Next up is some preliminary discussion on Pando's recent hit piece on Tony Hsieh, his weird edict for Holacracy at Zappos, and his strange and checkered history with theoretically transforming downtown Las Vegas.

Moving forward, "Merlin's Concern" about his bizarre lightning cable problem is addressed and assigned to further research by the Fun Bunch.

Finally, the meat of the episode is served in an extended meditation on whether and when "perfect is the enemy of good"—and how that concept maybe relates to aspects of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.


#227: The Treasure Room

June 30, 2015 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 21 minutes

TOPIC: Learning to shut up and relax.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenges and benefits of getting out of your own head.


#226: Only Child*

June 23, 2015 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 25 minutes

TOPIC: Hitting and sharing and dietetic lunch.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about having and not having siblings (and what it may or may not actually mean) as well as addressing some of the rapid changes coming to the business of podcasting.


#225: A Different Kind of Happy

June 16, 2015 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 30 minutes

TOPIC: You can't have ALL the phone calls.

This week, Dan and Merlin battle Skype to talk about Dan't hissing floor, text editing on iOS, plus more followup on WWDC announcements.

Spotlight on a second look at last week's conversation about how we do and don't communicate.


#224: Sugar Pills and a Pack of Cigarettes

June 9, 2015 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 52 minutes

TOPIC: Poundsign Communication

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about evolutions in how we do and don't communicate with each other.


#223: Normal is Whatever is There

June 2, 2015 at 1:15PM • 1 hour 10 minutes

TOPIC: Interstitial time and why you want it back.

This week, after some preliminary discussion of smoking and the children who throw rocks and run track, Dan and Merlin answer questions from listeners.


#222: Full-Stack Obsessive

May 28, 2015 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 42 minutes

Merlin and Dan use The Aviator as a jumping-off point to talk about OCD as it relates to perfectionism, creativity, and drive in the workplace. They discuss rituals and their consequences, the importance of mise en place, and eliminating disruptive processes.

Also, Merlin invokes the term "workflows".