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.

#44: Circuitous Bridge of My Own Design

December 7, 2011 at 7:30AM • 1 hour 13 minutes

Topic: Moving from dumb nouns to awesome verbs.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the problem with Capital Letter Nouns; how real and specific verbs will always trounce Excellence, Effectiveness, and Mission Statements--even in the Best-of-Breed Pursuance of Five-Nines Quality Across The Enterprise.

They also look at transitive and intransitive flavors of "feasance," finding your keyboard's Excellence Key, opting-in for The Johnson Treatment, lancing that actionable boil, and (as ever) shooting the obvious fish in the obvious barrel.

#43: I Return Null

November 30, 2011 at 8:30AM • 58 minutes

Topic: Asking questions in order to find better questions

This week, Dan and Merlin pick up their discussion of asking better questions and how sometimes the point of asking a question isn't to get an answer, but to get another, even better question.

How do you do this? Blundell Chains, hypotheses, the clackity noise, and iteration.

#42: Coconut Headphones

November 22, 2011 at 4:45PM • 1 hour 16 minutes

This week Dan and Merlin talk about asking good questions instead of massaging your real problem until it fits the comforting solution you found on the cover of a magazine.

#41: Carpal Tunnel Diem

November 15, 2011 at 6:00PM • 1 hour 21 minutes

Dan and Merlin talk more about why we get stuck and how might re-think getting "unstuck." Looking at process over product, remembering how you got here, and getting clear about what you're really trying to make.

Merlin also has some updates and tips for your iTunes Matching and your Google searching.

#40: Dirty South Is Off the Menu

November 8, 2011 at 8:15PM • 1 hour 39 minutes

Dan and Merlin talk about what it means for Google to change the meaning of "plus," and how it might bolster the production of "stuff and needy."

They also consider options for "getting unstuck" with a creative project—how, sometimes, the constraints can help a lot more than the options.

#39: A Source of Rice with Velocity

November 1, 2011 at 5:15PM • 1 hour 20 minutes

On strength and tolerance.

Dan and Merlin talk about the many facets of strength, including the complexity of knowing what to be strong about, to whom, and when.

It's about way more than nailing the "clean and jerk" or yelling at Sips-His-Coffee-Really-Loud Guy. It's also about accepting all the things they just can't stand about you.

Also covered: the inescapability of Italian disco, maintaining an unassailable lawn, confronting skinny ladies in heels, negotiating D-minus hip-hop, and finding the will to spelunk all the way down the personal productivity stack.

#38: Sorry. You Can't Have a Candle.

October 25, 2011 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 19 minutes

On improving presentation culture.

Dan and Merlin talk about bombing the deck, advancing the slides, and striving to improve the self-perpetuating bad culture of presentations.


(Also, kid germs in the spaghetti, meeting the angry corn guy, and moving closer to the metal with our Showbot hero.)

#37: It's Never Not Everywhere

October 18, 2011 at 4:00PM • 2 hours 4 minutes

This week, Merlin loves and hates iCloud while loving and REALLY loving Dropbox. He and Dan observe angry corn, discuss emailing files to yourself, wonder what to do with an ugly photo, and explore Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle.

#36: Writing on the Wind

October 11, 2011 at 9:00PM • 1 hour 21 minutes

Merlin Mann talks with Dan Benjamin about his dogged obsession with the flexibility of index cards—for propping up tables, giving very small cuts, and getting babies hygienically removed. Then, there is much talk of graphing your focal length against your time and attention.

#35: Why My Pants Were On Fire

September 27, 2011 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 34 minutes

How to handle job interviews.

Merlin and Dan can't solve the problem of interviews being dumb, but Merlin will tell you what is wrong with you, how long you'll have to wait for your resume to get you a job, how Larry Wall interviews for a Perl job, and whether or not the answer is always Yes, like they were just telling Stephen (yes, Hawking).