It is with great pleasure that I welcome author, podcaster and performance coach Nick DiNardo into QUAKE Books HQ. Nick, we have known of each other’s work for quite some time now, but for those who don’t know you so well I devised a brief question and answer session, focused on your book The Game of Adversity.
1) Your main professional focus is on adversity, why is it such an interesting topic to explore?
I think our lives are all defined by inflection points. These are moments in our lives, big and small, that become essential to our journeys as human beings. In my research, and the conversations I’ve had with high performers across multiple disciplines, I believe that the difference between them and the average person is their ability to respond effectively and consistently over time.
2) What inspired you to write a book on the subject and what kind of person did you write the book for?
I was inspired to write the book by a couple of things. Early in 2014, I read The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. I loved the focus on stoic philosophy, and the way he designed each chapter into a blend of story, research, and application. It made me think about my own approach to adversity/obstacles/failures. I began to build out a framework of principles, and support them with research and stories from sports. I used sports because it is a microcosm for life in many ways. I thought that it could be a “Trojan horse” to get readers engaged and it allowed me to go deeper into themes of mental performance.
I also wanted to have a stake in the ground for what I believed in. I thought a lot about how I could be a role model for my son (who is now 4 months old), and I wanted to have a worldview that would help him ask questions of his own belief system as he got older.
3) My favourite quote in your book is this one “Poker players are good not because they have the best hands but because they know how to play the shitty ones”, could you expand on the concept please…
Absolutely. Poker isn’t about luck. Whilst the average player thinks it is about the quality of cards that they have been dealt, there is a reason that the same names and faces are at the final table of the World Series of Poker event year upon year. These are the players that know that success in poker is about two things: data (how to read the people around the table) and decisions. Sometimes the best decisions are the ones in which you fold, and decide not to play. Life, like poker, is about PATIENCE. We all struggle with it, especially if we are driven to succeed and make an impact on the world.
4) A piece that touched me and which I have shared is your Why Sharing Our Miscarriage is the Right Thing to do. Now, Nick, having gone through that and come out the other side (although of course the pain of miscarriage never really goes away), what is the one thing that this adversity taught and continues to teach you…
Thanks a ton Kai. I appreciate the kind words. I think the most important thing that experience taught me is how tough moments are the most powerful way of bringing people together. It brought my wife and I closer. We’ve become a better team. We appreciate each other more, and we appreciate each moment with our new son, Benjamin.
On a larger note, when one thinks about the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, what was the response in New York City in the following days, weeks, and months after that horrible tragedy? It brought the city together. It brought the United States and the world together. It crossed socioeconomic lines, racial lines, and political lines. For a time, people prioritized other human beings instead of trivial things.
That’s what I choose to focus on in the midst of adversity. No one wants tragedy to happen. But we must learn how to grow from it. How does tragedy and adversity generally have the ability to bring community together? Now THAT is what I am obsessed with.
5) Given that you run a successful podcast, The Sweet Adversity Podcast what advice would you give to a full time worker with a couple of kids, who wanted to start up their own show?
Keep it simple. Most podcasts last 7 episodes. I firmly believe the reason why, is that they get caught up in the detailed production aspects. I have the same $50 microphone I’ve used since I started back in 2013. I used garage band to edit episodes (I since have hired a virtual assistant to handle the production process), I use Libsyn to host the podcasts, and WordPress for my website. Pat Flynn has a series of videos that taught me everything I needed to know about how to start and launch a podcast from a content perspective.
My personal advice would be: 1.) Figure out the theme of your show 2.) Watch Pat’s videos and 3.) Do it for the love of the content, and don’t try it thinking about how to make money. The interest and attention will come IF you focus on your theme intensely.
6) Could you tell us a little bit more about your performance coaching?
I started to see a common problem amongst aspiring high achievers: those who had specific goals and aspirations, but felt like they were falling short of where they wanted to be. This would lead to anxiety, stress, and a feeling of being overwhelmed… which would in turn result in a paralysis, as they approached new goals. The problem was not them: it was their lack of resilience once challenges presented themselves.
I began doing workshops with division 2 and 3 college sports teams, and then started to see some interest from entrepreneurs and sales teams. We focus on brain training as a differentiator. We work on building mental skills like those I mention in the book (growth mindset, process over outcome, and self-awareness), and incorporate exercises I’ve learned from sport scientists and psychologists. My exact approach depends on the specific needs of the team or entrepreneur (which usually starts with a thorough interview and assessment). To me, mastering the inner game is essential for long term success.
7) Thank you so much for taking the time to review your QUAKE Book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, what does this choice say about you?
I think it says that I am a work in progress. I struggle with the same things my clients struggle with. I think if we can all become a little more self aware, and seek to understand ourselves, we can become better people: for ourselves and for the people we care about. As high achievers, sometimes we focus too much on the future… what Pirsig teaches me is that sometimes the best place to be is right here; in the present moment.
What a great sentence to end on! So with that I leave you. Thank you so much Nick for being here with us and agreeing to be interviewed, so others can learn and grow! If there are any QUAKE Books Agents who want to become podcasters, you now have some excellent advice to get started! And for those currently going through adversity, Nick is right, it is a challenge but it is also an opportunity to develop!