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.


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#185: David Foster Wallace Morning

September 2, 2014 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 29 minutes

TOPIC: The Durable Impossibility of Email.

This week, Dan and Merlin return to an evergreen topic: the impossibility of email.

Chaotic, paradoxical, debilitating, frustrating, buoyant, and occasionally capable of causing short-term madness, email is still the medium that we'll never get right.

But, quixotically, it never stops us from trying.


#184: Days of Bathrooms Past

August 26, 2014 at 11:00AM • 1 hour 28 minutes

TOPIC: Is there anything else you want to tell me?

This week, Dan and Merlin discuss what bathrooms can teach us about learning, expertise, and empathy.


#183: Remember Who Has the Cannon

August 19, 2014 at 1:00PM • 1 hour 30 minutes

TOPIC: Wait, what'd I DO?!?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about anger, misunderstandings, and trying to do the right thing. How bewildering (and emotional) it can be to feel misunderstood—as well as trying to better understand what we may have done wrong.

Emotions are armor-piercing bullets.


#182: Non-Canonical Suspenders

August 12, 2014 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 27 minutes

TOPIC: Thinking, Thinking, Thinking.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the inextricable links between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. They also take some time to fondly remember Robin Williams.


#181: A Broom Pusher for Johnny Carson

August 6, 2014 at 11:00AM • 1 hour 7 minutes

While Merlin takes a short sabbatical, Dan is joined by special guest David Sparks to talk about presentations, making your thing, balancing acts, iBooks author, paying for your kids' school with side projects, old man glasses, and more.


#180: Deus Ex Machina for Your Gut

July 22, 2014 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 10 minutes

TOPIC: Stupid can't stick to me.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the distinction between being against something vs. not having an opinion about it vs. just choosing not to let the world stick to you.


#179: 7 Most Important Breasts for Your Re-Fi

July 15, 2014 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 16 minutes

TOPIC: A Personal History of Personal Publishing

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the constantly-changing landscape of online publishing. How we got from home pages to blogs to social media and beyond. Things move around, things get shorter (or longer), and things get super-weird and unpredictable.

How do you decide where your stuff goes and who do you expect it to reach in this whackadoodle environment?

You won't believe what happens next!


#178: Fake Laminated Bull Poop

July 8, 2014 at 3:15PM • 1 hour 19 minutes

TOPIC: Yes. Yes.

This week, Dan and Merlin follow-up on their recent 5by5 at the Movies episode about Glengarry Glen Ross, talking more about sales culture, media consumption, how our personal data gets used to close us, and why Dan admires Ricky Roma.

Or, Tony Roma, as you call him.


#177: Motivation Has Pit Stains

July 1, 2014 at 1:00PM • 1 hour 20 minutes

TOPIC: Motivation

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about their upcoming 5by5 at the Movies episode on Glengarry Glen Ross, which segues naturally into a discussion of the many aspects of motivation.

Carrots, sticks, bonuses, fear, status, and just growing up all shape our understanding of why we (and, yeah, others) do what we do.

What happens when our motivation starts better accounting for how other people are motivated?

Get them to sign on the line which is dotted.


#176: "ENJOY YOUR MEAL"

June 24, 2014 at 11:00AM • 1 hour 15 minutes

TOPIC: (Not) Solving People Problems With Technology.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenge of finding business workflows that…actually work. And, what happens if you try to fix a "people problem" with a technical solution.

Also, detailed discussion on Wolverine's healing factor, gruesome hand-shaving, Florida's giant grasshoppers, dangerous bourbon foil, and varieties of elves.


Come to Ungainly X-Mann Meetup #4

PSA: Hey, if you live in the Bay Area and you like comics and/or Merlin, please come out to Two Cats Comics on Thursday night and hang out with Merlin. [more »]