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Todd Nief is the owner of downtown Chicago's #1 CrossFit gym and the coach to multiple CrossFit Games athletes. He has been featured by Men's Fitness, WGN Radio, and NBC Chicago among others. His background in chemical engineering and as a musician in multiple death metal bands gives him a unique lens with which to unpack the models that people use to solve problems in complex areas like fitness, business, nutrition, music, economics and psychology.
 
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I first encountered Spenser’s work through his writing for the Morning Chalk Up, and at some point I clicked on enough links to realize that the majority of his work is on voting rights and election reform. I’ve been a subscriber to Spenser’s voting rights newsletter, so I wanted to get his take on how things went with New York City’s experiment in…
 
Dave Bland is one of the most creative drummers currently playing extreme music. While technical wherewithal with blindingly fast blast beats is always appreciated, the ability to adapt to the varied styles present on Full of Hell records as well as the more straightforward death metal of Jarhead Fertilizer requires much more perspicacity. I first …
 
Humans have an intuitive sense for who is important and well-connected. We like knowing “movers and shakers,” and we regularly engage in complicated social machinations — conscious or otherwise — to position ourselves close to the seat of influence. But what about the formal study of the spread of information through human networks? Matthew O. Jack…
 
Yautja plays lurching, uncomfortable music, so it is fitting that their new album is called “The Lurch.” I first met Kayhan back in approximately 2010 when I was on tour with Weekend Nachos and we stayed at Kayhan’s place in Birmingham, Alabama. At the time, Kayhan was in a band called Legion (funny enough), and since then has gone on to play in se…
 
I’ve often spoken on the Legion Strength & Conditioning podcast about the desire for “simple solutions to complex problems.” I figured I’d reframe and refine that discussion for a solocast based upon the cynefin decision-making framework, Julia Galef’s great new book “The Scout Mindset,” and some marketing intuition from years of running a small bu…
 
At some point in the last year or so, I started listening to the Epidemiology Counts podcast. I was thrilled to learn that the host, Bryan James, is a Chicago local at Rush University — and he’s a CrossFitter at Goose Island CrossFit. Bryan and I recently collaborated on an article for BarBend about controlling the spread of Covid in gym, as well: …
 
James Pligge is back by popular demand. This time, we talk about some of the many misconceptions that people have about James and Harm’s Way — as well as James’s ill-fated attempt to make a protein shake with Coca-Cola. To be honest, talking about making a protein shake from Coca-Cola probably doesn’t do a lot to correct any of those popular miscon…
 
I feel like I say this about a lot of my friends that I have on the podcast, but John Caution is one of the weirdest and funniest people I know. I’m happy to talk to John endlessly about funny things that people we both know did 15 years ago, but, in this interview, we talk about the legacy of Weekend Nachos. We talk about the trolling instinct, th…
 
Speaking with Matt is like being blasted with a firehose of information. He is entwined in the worlds of politics, database engineering, and 3D printing, and he speaks in dense, reference-laden paragraphs. This is thrilling to me, since I love information. I also feel empathy for folks who have been subject to my own tendencies to speak in dense, r…
 
Andy is one of the most talented musicians I know. Some people think of musical talent as a preternatural gift for shredding through neoclassical riffs on guitar or ripping through Chopin concertos as a pre-teen. In Andy’s case, this talent manifests itself as incredible taste and intuition for songwriting and audio production. When you hear a song…
 
Jeff edits many of these podcasts…and now it is time for him to speak! Jeff is a prolific musician and artist — creating in a variety of genres and formats. His works appear as stand-alone albums, as complements to performance art, and on pirate radio stations. I’ve long been a fan of Jeff’s music, and, in 2020, he released two of my favorite album…
 
Of Feather and Bone put out one of the best records of 2020 with Sulfuric Disintegration, so I was really excited to speak with drummer Preston Weippert. Like Rats played with Of Feather and Bone in Baltimore a few years back, and I was very impressed with them. Since then, they’ve released two albums and dropped any pretense of being anything othe…
 
Like many, I am deeply concerned with the impact social media has had on our brains, our attention, and our society. I have a slightly different take on what the root of the problem is, though. While those worried about distraction, polarization, algorithms, and censorship all have a right to be concerned, I think the real issue is deeper and more …
 
This episode with James from Harm's Way is one of the most consistently downloaded episodes of the podcast, so figured this would be a good time to revisit it. If you haven't seen the Harm's Way Running Man memes that offered a much needed moment of levity this summer, then spend some time giggling right here. And, the original show that sparked th…
 
This conversation is a repost from the From Coach to Business podcast that I did with my friend Brandon last year. With the recent announcement that San Francisco CrossFit is closing their doors, I wanted to revisit this conversation since there were several key takeaways on operational excellence. In the best of times, running a functional fitness…
 
This is a holiday repost, which pairs very nicely with the recent episode with Cedric Chin discussing tacit knowledge, expert intuition, and deliberate practice. If you enjoyed that episode, you will hopefully also find Scott Young's work fascinating—since he distills research-based best practices in learning and skill acquisition into highly actio…
 
Certain clusters of nerds on the internet can find it very frustrating when successful people say a lot of incorrect stuff ("Just focus on your passion and be yourself!") about how they found success in their field. To be clear, I am such a nerd. Cedric Chin has researched and written extensively about the academic literature on skill acquisition a…
 
Leonard Suryajaya creates lush, harrowing, and hilarious images in his photography, and I was fortunate enough to be a part of his process for his recent work with The New York Times. While I initially wanted to talk to Leonard about his creative process, I couldn’t help but indulge and take a detour into the history of Indonesia. Leonard’s story o…
 
John Nerst, in some sort of bizarre ascetic practice, enjoys studying people disagreeing online. While online discourse is a cesspool of bad intentions, bad faith, and, of course, bad arguments, John is able to divine some deep insights about the fundamental nature of human disagreement. In this interview, we discuss how the abstractions we use let…
 
Albert Kao of the Santa Fe Institute has been researching collective behavior in animals — including really crazy things like using their own bodies as a bridge to invade a wasp nest. As we mention in the podcast, this absolutely needs to be made into a horror movie if it hasn't already. In addition to animal behavior, Albert has also created some …
 
I’m often asked “how I handle it all,” and — while I think the true answer may have something to do with several deep flaws in my fundamental personality, I do think I have a framework that helps me get a good amount of stuff done. I tend to manage too many projects at once pretty much all of the time — which is actually probably not very good for …
 
It doesn’t always work well to try to corner artists who you like and make them explain how they do the thing that you enjoy about their work. Sort of like getting a comedian to explain their jokes. Maybe not the best thing for your ongoing enjoyment of humor. Still, I will not be deterred, and I wanted to get Ethan from Primitive Man on the podcas…
 
As I mention in the intro to this podcast, I know John Murphy as the pilot of a 90s era Pontiac Trans Sport — aka the “Egg Van.” The world, however, knows John as co-founder and gameplay designer at Young Horses, the indie games collective responsible for the much beloved hit Octodad. As a lad, I was an obsessive and nerdy player of role-playing ga…
 
Dirk Verbeuren has played drums on more extreme metal releases than is reasonable or appropriate for any single human. He took over for Chris Adler as the drummer for Megadeth in 2016, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to release underground release after underground release — including material with the recently revived Cadaver. Dirk not…
 
Figuring out how to prioritize in any sort of complex system is really, really difficult. We see this all the time in working with athletes. A simple, linear mindset results in athletes trying to do more, more, more training — and expecting to get more, more, more results. In reality, there are trade-offs involved in any sort of training plan. Thes…
 
In this episode of "Between Two Todds," Todd Jones discusses his songwriting process for Nails and why he thinks of himself more as a "music fan" than a "musician." Todd has a public perception that is often totally out of alignment with his actual personality. Some of this is likely a side effect of being the front man of one of the most aggressiv…
 
Every small business that has any level of success hits a tipping point where the fact that business is going "kind of well" becomes the most stressful thing to the founders. I vividly remember hitting this point with South Loop Strength & Conditioning several years ago. The gnawing worry that we were missing something or doing something wrong with…
 
Wayne is the principal in residence at KIPP Team Academy in Newark, New Jersey. I’ve wanted to have Wayne on the show for awhile to talk about education since I’m endlessly fascinated with learning, learning about learning, teaching, teaching others to teach, and basically every other possible recursion and iteration of the words "teach" and "learn…
 
I recently wrote a controversial oped for the Morning Chalk Up on why my CrossFit gym isn’t an essential business. John Wooley, from the regularly hysterical CrossFit satire account @makewodsgreatagain, wrote a thoughtful response disagreeing with my claim that CrossFit gyms are not essential. I figured it would be interesting to have a recorded co…
 
When people think of the culture of a country or a city, food is one of the first things that comes to mind. But, with the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, a lot of folks - myself included - have serious concerns about the ability of restaurants to make it through to the other side of an extended shutdown. As a fan of regional ethnic cuisine…
 
Brad Stulberg has a list of accomplishments that would make most authors drip with envy. Hundreds of thousands of books sold. A regular column in Outside Magazine. Contributions to publications like The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and Wired. A blue checkmark on Twitter and tens of thousands of followers. A lot of Brad’s message is about avoi…
 
Cal spent a long time chasing money, social status, and all kinds of external validation. And he didn’t just chase it. He was good at getting it. As an interest rate trader in Chicago, he had checked a lot of the boxes that people think will make them happy. (Including playing golf with Michael Jordan - crazy, right?) Cal was in the audience at the…
 
So, what’s the deal with chiropractors? Are they all just full of it? Ian Kaplan is the COO of Hybrid Performance Method (Stefi Cohen’s training company) and soon to be doctor of chiropractic, and he’s also one of the most thoughtful and skeptical people in the fitness space. In this conversation, Ian breaks down how he thinks about uncertainty and…
 
People are predictably irrational, right? We have a poor intuitive understanding of statistics, we leap to drawing cause and effect relationships where none exist, we don’t understand exponential growth very well, and we gorge ourselves on junk food and junk television. We’re broken! While there are all kinds of quirks to our built-in reasoning har…
 
Anyone who has coached or competed in CrossFit for awhile sees things that kind of don’t make sense. Athletes with 15+ unbroken ring muscle-ups and a 6:30 2k row who are surprisingly bad at “metcons.” Athletes who can only do 5-10 unbroken strict handstand push-ups who are able to quickly chip away at a set of 50 and beat athletes who can do 20+ un…
 
This is a cross-post from the From Coach to Business podcast that we just launched. My friend Brandon and I both often get questions about starting and growing a coaching business - either online or in the brick and mortar space - so we put together a season with answers to some of the most common questions we get as well as some insight on the mis…
 
This is a cross-post from the From Coach to Business podcast that we just launched. My friend Brandon and I both often get questions about starting and growing a coaching business - either online or in the brick and mortar space - so we put together a season with answers to some of the most common questions we get as well as some insight on the mis…
 
We're going back in the archives this week to last year with a repost of an interview with Adrian Bozman - the Head Judge of the CrossFit Games. You can check out the full show notes from the episode here. I've been hard at work finishing up the first season of From Coach to Business, which will be released in the next week or two. I'll be releasin…
 
Chris Mills is the drummer for Harm’s Way - and he’s also a clinical social worker for an addiction and mental health residential program. Many folks who are touring most of the year piece together random part-time jobs or have their hands in a few different pieces of the music industry (management, booking, merchandise, etc.). Chris, however, is a…
 
Fundraising for your business is often a stressful, opaque and time-consuming process. I’ve gone through it on a minor scale in order to take on a lease and build out a building for South Loop Strength & Conditioning - but my good friend John Friel is currently in the process of attempting to raise venture capital for his start-up Art in Res. Ventu…
 
Jason Leydon is an elite-level CrossFit coach - and, much like myself, a continuing education junkie. I’d been looking forward to this conversation, since Jason is not just very successful in his ability to develop athletes, but also very self-aware about his process and how he’s developed his knowledge and his methods. Jason is the real deal, and …
 
Shelby Lermo plays guitar for Vasum and Ulthar, and used to oversee the tangled web of death metal, interviews and conspiracy theories that was Illogical Contraption. This conversation was a real pleasure for me, since I’ve known Shelby as an “online friend” for probably close to a decade, and have long admired his work from afar. For those concern…
 
We’ve got Jake Rhodes from BearKompleX and Jason Yule from Boxstar Apparel and Harbor Park CrossFit on the podcast. I met both of these fellows when they exhibited at the inaugural South Loop Games in 2016. This episode isn’t just for CrossFit geeks, since we dig into the ways that Jake and Jason think about building a market for their businesses i…
 
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