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.



#64: Frozen Poster

April 23, 2012 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 38 minutes

TOPIC: The Surprising Problems of "Doing What You Love"

Merlin has some follow up on Agency: be in control of what you give away and why you charge what you charge, and Dan is interested in what happens when you stop loving what you love when you do it as a job.

There are no guarantees, so don't mistake the Federalist Papers for Constitutional Law, and if you miss the signs you shouldn't be sailing, you'll just end up vomiting in your bucket hat.

You're not going suddenly arrive and do what you love. You get there through course correction: look back at all the ugly birdhouses and look ahead for the next step toward building a home.


#63: Bold with the Scissors

April 16, 2012 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 20 minutes

TOPIC: Agency, Independence, and Outing Your Makebelieve "Partners."

Dan and Merlin return to the topic of agency.

Who's allowed to speak and act on your behalf? And, what happens when you discover people who've unilaterally decided by fiat to speak and act on your behalf?

Well. If your work (and your business) matters to you, you tell them to knock it off.

How to reclaim your own stuff, set your own terms, and fire all the non-silent non-partners of the lucrative Free Compliment Industry.


#62: Cultural Molasses

April 9, 2012 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 2 minutes

TOPIC: Karmasucks, No-Sayers, and Black and White Thinking

Dan and Merlin consider the karmasucks and black and white thinking that lead to inertia and a culture of derision.

Anyone can laugh at an agenda, and it only takes one turd in the punchbowl to ruin the party, so don't ask permission, ask yes or no questions, and keep your judge behind your explorer.


#61: I Handed Him My Luke

April 2, 2012 at 4:15PM • 1 hour 9 minutes

Dan and Merlin talk about Dancing Han Solo, going to college in Florida, and developing smarter patterns for Getting Things Diaried.

Whether you're calling collect, person-to-person, or station-to-station, it's time to get serious, get realistic, and just get it on the calendar.

Send the invite, work those Telephone Thursdays, and make that call E6W ("Every 6 Weeks"). Pick the system that supports your intentions. Then use it.


#60: Living Inside an Unfinished Thing

March 26, 2012 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 10 minutes

Dan and Merlin consider how to rethink your work as a platform. It's not just a job, or just a career, or (God forbid) just a brand--it's about deciding when you need to take your time and attention pro.

How the stuff you've made and done can be leveraged into the next things you'd like to make and do; how to find the orthogonal angles and unexpected branches; how to learn what you need to learn; and how to take your work so seriously that you'll dare a quick dip in the douche pool.


#59: Brains All the Way Down

March 19, 2012 at 5:45PM • 2 hours 1 minute

This week, Dan and Merlin tackle the problem of changing cultures at work. It's not a snapshot, it's not a kitchen table, and it may actually have surprisingly little to do with you.

Which is complicated.


#58: Girl with the QR Tattoo

March 12, 2012 at 4:30PM • 1 hour 12 minutes

TOPIC: Changing Inputs

Dan turns Merlin's technical difficulties into a discussion of discovering and paying attention to things that have a high ROI.

It's not about who you think you are, or the latest and loudest thing. You'll miss something even if you follow 1000 blogs, so remember who you really are.

La pregunta: ¿Que hacer?


#57: Start with Anger, End with a Sign

March 5, 2012 at 4:30PM • 1 hour 33 minutes

Merlin and Dan talk about successful lawn care secrets and getting angry over dog poop, paper towels, duck crossings, and the Dark Side.

No one ever saw the error of their ways because they saw a note from Management. Instead of counting piles and grabbing coals, maybe act a little more like Mr. Rogers.


#56: One Giant Beholder Dinosaur

February 28, 2012 at 4:45PM • 1 hour 27 minutes

Merlin and Dan talk about your attachment to old coffee cups, Captain America glasses, and Grandma's underwear cabinet—all the physical (and emotional) clutter that keeps you from making the things you love and having the life you want. The Kipple.

See: it's not a red snapper problem, it's an emotional problem. So, quit being scared of your fridge, or your inbox, or your todo list. Just suck it up, buy some contractor bags, and never organize another thing that's not worth keeping.


#55: The Pickles Never Touch

February 21, 2012 at 5:00PM • 1 hour 47 minutes

This week Dan and Merlin ponder why there's so much variability in the quality of our work. 

Whether we're making code, scrubbing toilets, or stinking up the Arby's, what explains our individual drive to do something better?