How to Stop Waiting And Start Doing with Roman Mars
Hey, everyone. How's it going? I'm Chase Jarvis. Welcome to another episode of Chase Jarvis Live here on CreativeLive. This is where I sit down with the world's top creatives, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders and I do my best to unpack actionable and valuable insights with the goal of helping you live your dreams in career and hobby and in life. My guest today is Roman Mars. Welcome.
Thanks, thanks for having me.
It's a pleasure. It's the first time our meeting right here in these... Actually, we met in the hallway. But I need to get a little backstory. We're here because, well, Print Magazine's got us all together in this box. I just got off the... I had my picture taken by our friend, John Keatley. You're next. But this particular section of what we're doing here is... Well, you heard my little intro. I do my best to unpack actionable and valuable insights from people like you who are super smart and leading your specific whatever it is that you're interested in. That's what I ...
wanna know. So, podcast 99% Invisible. Legendary. What work do you think you're doing? Like, when you think of the work that you set out to do every day.
I mean, fundamentally, I tell stories, factual stories, about the world that make you notice and appreciate the world in a different way. That's what we're after.
And how did you arrive at that particular thing? Go back x number of years and then give me a little bit of a timeline. And now you're able to articulate that point of view really clearly.
I mean, I was this public radio superfan. I was working on my PhD in genetics for a long time. I listened in the lab and listened to NPR all the time. At a certain point, I realized that, if I could study a new thing every day, like a journalist does, instead of studying the MRRM gene cluster in corn every single day...
I was gonna say fruit flies? That was what my memory of genetics...
It was transposable elements in corn, what I worked on. And then, my life would be perfect. And so, I set about rearranging my life. (chimes) Want me to retake?
No, it's all... Faux pas and everything are included in this show.
So, I set about rearranging my life to work in radio and do that type of thing. So, I moved out here. I did some tech jobs for a little while. And then I began volunteering at KALW in San Francisco, 91.7. That was 16 years ago.
And then I worked on every type of radio show that exists in public radio. Public affairs shows, call in shows, music shows, interview shows. And, seven years ago, I began to become interested in how to tackle design on the radio. And that's what 99% Invisible became.
First show. Do you remember it?
Oh, the first show I ever did for 99.
It was a piece about acoustics, acoustical design, in the San Francisco Public Library. So, I talked to the acoustic designer. And, in the San Francisco Public Library, there's this large seven story atrium. Like a center area. And they were gonna put the circulation desk at the bottom of that seven story ceiling. And the acoustic designer said, "If you put things there, no one will be able to hear. And the library patrons won't be able to talk to the librarians and that sort of thing." So, they kind of tucked it underneath the first floor. And that's where it sits today. And this is a good piece of design. It also sort of created this interesting problem. If you ever walk into there, there's this round atrium area that you have to step down into. And because it was originally designed to have a desk in the middle, people don't know where to go and what to do.
And they get stuck.
And they kind of run into each other. And so, they put up this sort of janky theater rope-style thing to direct traffic. At least it was there seven years ago. I don't know if it's there now. And so, they had this $150 million building. The design problem that was created via this one good solution was being solved by a $12 theater rope. And I love that. The unintended consequences of trying to think through a problem, solve the problem, and then try to deal with it.
You know, what you solve. Yeah, exactly. And so, I love that kind of stuff. That was the first episode.
It's so well produced. The show.
Is that because of the actual radio background?
Yeah, I mean...
Is it a coincidence, also, that acoustics was the first show?
I mean, that was not a coincidence. In the beginning, I was nervous about how we could cover visual design. And so, that one made a lot of sense. But, in terms of the radio part or how it's produced, my background's from radio. I like things to be radiophonic, which means that it can't be something that's... If you could print the text of it and read it yourself and get the feel of it, then you're not making radio. You have to make a thing that really can only be consumed by the ear. And so, I look for things to make it rhythmic and interesting. A lot of the material is pretty dense. So, there's lots of... I break in and help explain things. And the voices are active. So that your ear is always interested. And so, that's just my aesthetic. It's what I like. And, also, that's the fun part to me. Placing music, getting good sound. I love the sound of peoples' voices. I love every type of voice.
I wasn't thinking of interrupting you. I was just thinking, "I think I could listen to your voice pretty much for three hours straight." I'm just kind of getting... If I start leaning in and getting cozy here...
It's very kind of you. But I, even though I'm complimented a lot on my voicing, there's a lot of... People are really critical of people's voices on the radio. We hear about it all the time. Young women, in particular, have this thing that I think is purely invented called vocal fry. Invented by people who are annoyed by it. Not invented by the women who have it. And it's just a way to shut women up even more. And it's super irritating to me. But I love the sound of different voices. There's no proper radio voice, in my opinion. I like all the different variety. And so, we try to bring all those things in. And I just love hearing... When you're doing your job right as a radio presenter and an interviewer... I've fallen in love with every person I interview in the process of working with the sound of their voice. And so, that's the best part. And when you can convey that in the piece, then you've done a good job.
One of the things that this particular gathering of people, while we're here, while I'm grabbing interviews with the folks that... Debbie Milman has helped curate this piece for the Print Magazine. And then I'm sort of sub-curating an opportunity to connect with some people that I think are expressly talented and have insights that the people who pay attention to this show and here, on CreativeLive, a community of 10 million... Creativity with a small c I think of as design and photography and architecture. And then there's creativity with a big C, which is part of the solution to every problem we will ever know. Whether it's math or physics or... I'm wondering if you can refine that for me for a little bit. How do you think about the work that you do in the light of creativity with either a small c or a big c? And does the big c matter?
I mean, it all matters in the sense that I like to talk about small things and use them to point out big things. And I don't always cover the most important and pressing issue. But I think being aware of design and being thoughtful about the world makes you more prepared and better to solve the problems of the world all around. So, I might be only talking about whatever the pitch of the angle of a curb cut on a sidewalk, but I'm really talking about bureaucracies and rules and regulations and bigger ideas. And so, those are the good shows. When it comes to creativity, the part of me that... I'm a worker. And, fundamentally, I don't consider myself especially creative. I just consider myself especially hard working. And, to me, the best thing you can... The way you can talk about creativity to make it effective is just recognize that it's work. And that you solve the problem. You don't wait for inspiration. I don't believe in inspiration. I believe in just working.
Chuck Close. There are artists who sit around and wait for inspiration to come and never get anything done. And the rest of us go to work.
I'm a big believer in that. And so, that's the part. It's not... It's both the most important thing and not special at all. It is just like everything else. You just have to work through it. And you have to pick the part that you can tackle. So, when I work on a show, I don't necessarily write the intro first. I write the part I'm most excited to write first. And then I build out from there. And whatever thing you need to get you started, whether it's just a regular schedule or the fact that there's this great piece of music and you know you can just talk the hell out of it, you know, like talk right over it and it would set down so good and smooth. Like start wherever you can and find purchase and just do it. And just do it every single day. And the other part is I've been trying to... As my show has developed, I've become more of a businessperson on behalf of the show, 'cause I have employees and all these other things to do. But I need to open up Pro Tools every day. I need to open up my tools to do the job. And there are other people who could mix my show and do a better job than me. But I wanna be the last person to touch it.
How much do you consider craft in your work? Are you thinking about these things on every... Is every... Do you make an attempt to consider every option, every piece of, every decision... How precious do you feel like you are with your craft?
At this point, I'm not especially precious. Mainly because...
Go back to the piece on work, right?
Yeah, I mean, in the beginning, you have that luxury in the time and the lack of success gives you some amount of freedom.
It's weird. Celebrate if you're just starting. You got all sorts of opportunity to make mistakes and no one's watching.
Right. And so, you have that time to futz over everything. And you have that notion that you're right, your way is right. You're gonna make it your way, the right way. Now, I've made 16 years of radio. There's lots of ways to make a radio story good. And sometimes my employees... You know, they're super talented. More talented than I am. That's why I have them. But they don't do things the way I would do them. And that's okay. And letting go of that is important when you're developing. So, I don't know how we got here, necessarily. But I...
Creativity with a small c.
And craft. So, craft, the idea of craft. I do not futz over every detail anymore. Mainly 'cause there's two reasons. One, I have a deadline every single week. A show comes out every week. No matter if I love it or just kind of like it. I have to at least get to a kind of like it.
It doesn't matter if you got in a car crash that week or it snowed and you missed your flight. None of those things matter when you gotta...
You gotta do it. And so, I believe in the craft to a certain extent. And then there's a certain point where you just have to do your job and get it out, 'cause people count on it.
Personal style, how do you get it?
I don't know.
But it's a tough question. It's a question I get asked as my life as a maker. And, now, with CreativeLive, I'm trying to help millions of other people do that. It's a tough question.
I always tell people that stealing plus lack of talent equals creativity. So, in your attempt to do what other people do and your inability to do it, 'cause you don't have enough talent to do it, you will create a new thing out of that. And so, I believe in trying on as many possible things that you can to find your voice through other people's stuff. Because, in the beginning... This is something... He's sort of a giant in my field. His name's Ira Glass. And he mentions this a lot. You are in this because you know what's good. But you're not capable of creating things as good as you know are good. And, in that period of time, you just have to work it out. And so, but I like... You know, when I was creating my show, I knew I wanted it to be 40% DeMayo's Memory Palace, 40% Jad Abumrad's Radiolab, and 20% Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything. And, even though...
And then 99% Invisible. And so, all of that stuff together, even though those are all me copying their style in different ways, the alchemy of that, that became me. It's not not genuine. I can't do what they do. But, when we mix it all together and put it through me, then, all of a sudden, it is a thing.
I totally believe in that. And so, just don't be afraid of that part. I think that's a good part of finding your style through other things. And I think every... My wife is a singer. You know, you don't start out singing your own songs that you created, for the most part. Like, a lot of punk bands do. But, in general, you just, you learn to sing by taking classes and learning other... And then you find your voice through other peoples' voices. I think that's important part.
Another piece of Ira Glass, which I think runs parallel to this conversation is the creative gap. Have you ever talked about that?
The distance between what you can see in your mind and what you can actually make. And, at some point, that starts out and the gap is massive. And then, over time... To the end that you are speaking to momentarily... When you start to get better and better and better and when the thing that you can see is the exact thing that you can create, I would say that that equals, let's call that mastery. I believe it's important to continue to move the goalposts. Because, if you're just lingering in mastery, that's one thing. But it's that gap, the struggle where happy accidents happen, ingenuity when you have to make something, you have to make what you have with what you've got. Talk to me about that a little bit. 'Cause I see that embedded in 16 years of shows.
I mean, there's 16 years of me doing radio. It's six and a half years of shows for 99. So, I mean, the main thing I did to move the goalposts on my show was invite other people to do it. Because I did it by myself for the first couple of years. And then I had employees. The things that they create are not things I would create. And then I have to figure out how to edit that to make it what I want. And also, fit the style of the show. And have their voice in it, too. And so, that's the part of it that's a big deal to me.
So, something you said in your last thought and has been... I've picked up on it just in the 10 minutes or 15 minutes we've been talking. Is you've called yourself many things. You've called yourself a creator. You've called yourself a businessperson. You've called yourself an editor. You've called yourself a lot of different things. I champion the idea that we're all hyphens now. We used to just be able to... Maybe you can take me through how you think about that. You used to just be the radio person. Or, before then, you were just the technician. And, now, you just described an ecosystem where you touch everything. So, talk to me about how you think about that. Is that good? Is it bad? Do you encourage people to specify or diversify? What's the POV from you?
I mean, my favorite term for myself is producer. That's what I always was in radio. So, the producer, what I love about that term is you solve the problem. If you have to move the car to make sure the equipment comes in and then move it back out. Find some street parking. It doesn't matter how important you are in the scope of things, you have to do that thing. You have to order the food. You have to do... You have to fix the ISDN when it's down. You have to do everything. That, to me, is the ultimate. And that is you are utility player and you do everything to solve the problem. And so, the creative and business stuff, how I sort of manage those two... To me, a lot more of my job is solving the production problem of making sure everyone gets paid. It's a different problem than I used to solve. But it's still solving the problem of producing the show. And I like it. That the reason why the show works and some shows are successful and some aren't is that sometimes you can... There's one person that can handle all that stuff. And then, when you have to have too many of those people, 'cause one person can't handle it, it becomes harder and harder to fund that thing. But, luckily, I find I liked the businessy parts. It's not what I fell in love with. I mean, I fell in love with just the way people talk. And I wanted to be one of them. And I wanted to read books and talk to interesting people. And then I fell in love with the tools. I was in Pro Tools and I love the way I could use music to change a mood and I could use the rhythm of speech to change things. And then, in a way, I fell in love with the business parts. I loved raising money for what we did. 'Cause I thought it was important. So, I like all those things. And I keep a toe in all of them. But I let huge parts go. My show wouldn't exist without the workers, the producers who work on my show. There's some weeks I'm really involved. Some weeks I'm so much less involved. And all I know is, for the first... For the most part, with radio, the host gets so much credit. So, for 10 years of my radio career, I got way too little credit for what I did. And now I get way too much credit for what I do.
I'm thinking of these two here. They're like, "Yeah." I'm looking at you, Matt.
So, I guess it's kind of balancing out. But it's weird. And getting comfortable with that is a strange part of the development of when you create something and have it grow with other people in it. But I like it. I don't feel like I've lost complete touch with what I do, 'cause I still... When there's no show that's gonna come out, 'cause everything else is falling apart or something got killed or some kind of story that's run off the rails, I'm still the one who can put one together in seven days by myself if I had to. Because that's how I started the show. And I can still do it. I've just tested this. So, I know I can still do it. (laughter) But I don't like doing it, because those shows aren't as good. Because, without everyone involved, they're not nearly as good as they could be. So, I personally like when people get into... I mean, now people ask me about podcasts all the time. Before that, they asked me about how to get into public radio. And I always tell them to join a radio station, like KALW, where I came from, which was small and needed workers, needed help. And you had to do everything. And, if you showed up, you had a job to do that day. Whereas, if you got an internship at a big station, you would get someone coffee. And that's useless. You know, I believe in many hyphenates. And maybe even so much so that you're not defined by any one of those terms. There aren't enough hyphens for it to include everything.
I love that answer. It lines up so much of my belief of a future, not just of creativity, but of employment. And the other side of the same coin is some people think of that from a fear base or a constricted mindset like struggle, but it's also opportunity. Like, you have so many opportunities to dip your toes into things. This 40 year work at the same company, get a gold watch, those days are over. The light at the end of the tunnel is either, depending on your mindset, it's either a train or it's the end of the tunnel. And I think the context you just put on that is awesome. I wanna talk, just for a second, about when things go wrong. 'Cause you just tested yourself and you said, "I know I can still do it. I just did that." So, is that, did you grab the ball before it hit the ground? What are some... Presumably, you have a memory or two of some painful shit.
Sure, I mean, the way you know you have a healthy production is when you kill stories. When you are going down a path and you know it's not good enough to work and you have the flexibility and the person power to get something done anyway. And so, I don't consider those failures to be huge train wrecks. That's part of the process. You know, when you are presenting documentary and fact and journalism, you can get stuff wrong. And that's no fun at all. You know, people get upset about those things. And that's no fun at all. When you do something publicly, people are open and invited to comment. And I'm super sensitive about that stuff. And that feels terrible. But I would say the main thing's that were... The train wrecks that I feel right now are when my staff are disappointed in something that I did. That makes me feel terrible. And so, you just have to... The thing is, you have to have the long view of your work. So, I make a short show every week. And, to me, no one episode of the show represents what the show is about. And so, I hate it when people say, "What show should I listen to?" 'Cause, to me, that's not it. To me, I'm drawing this regression plot. This episode's about this. This episode's about this. It all kind of scatters. And sometimes they're about big things. Sometimes they're about small things. Sometimes they're about ideas. Sometimes they're about people. And then you draw this regression line. And that regression line is the thesis of the show. And so, you don't do that by one big, perfect episode. You do that by lots of different ones that make up a whole body of work. And so, you know, the ones that fall short are in a slightly different... They have different focus or part of that process.
And, for those of you listening, you could interchange radio show with photograph, with painting, with design, with all of these things that... They're all proxy for one another in the process of making. That's what I love. In the particular lies the universal. And trying to do what you do so well is hone in on your radio show, but it's a proxy for making, basically, anything.
There's a million instances. And then there's the work. Which photograph should I look at in your work? I don't even know what the answer is. So, to that same end, where I'm trying to employ some of the things that you brought up in your intro and talk about them here, you talked about having a visual... How can you make, first of all, something visually interesting on a radio show? And how do you talk or critique or think about, in some cases, visual design? Let's talk about your boots for a second. So, you talk about breaking things up. You talk about changing gears. We're gonna change gears for a second.
So, you've got these boots. I commented on them earlier. And we'll contrast them to my shoes. And do what you do. Talk to me about your boots and how do we get the people at home that are listening to this on podcast...
How to care about my boots.
Yeah, to care about your boots. 'Cause you were...
That's tough. I mean...
You were kind of passionate about it, though. I love your boots, 'cause I've only seen those in brown.
Well, I mean, in my personal case, I like to wear black belts more than brown belts. And so, I wanted some black boots. They also hearken back to my history of only wearing combat boots and Doctor Marten boots.
Remember those? Remember the '90s? (laughter)
It was the '80s and '90s for me. And I don't know if... I'd have to do a lot of research to find these interesting. I mean, they're called Indy Boots, because they hearken back to Indiana Jones, which is one of the greatest movies of all time. And I just...
But they've got a finish on them that it looks like they want to be Indiana Jonesified.
Yeah, you beat them up. This is the second time I've worn them.
Yeah, but they're beautiful, though.
But it's my second pair I bought. And I went back to them, 'cause I bought a pair of these and then I had another one in between and I bought these. I tend to wear stuff like this because I don't like to think about shoes all that much. I love pocket squares and I love waistcoats and things like that. But I wear these boots if I'm wearing a suit or if I'm wearing a T-shirt. And so, I like things that are versatile like that. Yeah, they just make me happy. And one of the things that gives me the greatest joy in the world is arriving early at the airport and getting my shoes shined. It's like a glorious experience. I'm a big believer in getting your shoes shined. It's like a massage or something. It's like relaxing. You talk to a guy who usually has a very interesting life. And so, there are very few shoeshines anymore. Except for in the airport. So, I found the one place that you can find joy in an airport is at the shoeshine.
I'm at ESA FOBA three days a week, so I'm gonna look for you every time I walk by that shoeshine place.
So, at terminal two. It's in the corner before the shops start. International... It used to be outside, but they closed that place down. Around the country, I know where the shoeshine is.
Nice. I will always think of you as I walk by those. I'd like to, at the risk of being overly prescriptive, which I sense that you're wary of, I'm gonna ask you to be for a second. I don't know if it makes you uncomfortable.
I'll do my best.
Go with me on this one. There are people who want to do what you do. What are you telling them? What would you tell them if they were here?
Just start. I mean, there's no secret formula. There is no secret to anything. It's just you do it and you can't plan it out. Especially if you wanna make radio. You have this supply... It's finite, luckily. This finite supply of horrible radio inside of you. And you can't think it out. You can't study it out. You can't listen to it out. You have to work it out. And, as you keep doing it, you will get better. And so, that's really it. And you can solve the problem of the money thing later. I mean, if you can't, then I understand that, 'cause I came from very humble means. But I just worked in the corners of the time to make it work. And then, if you have a combination of having the skills to do it and the right connections and the ability to sort of get people to pay attention to it, then you can make it. It's not... I wish I could tell you that, if you just worked hard, you could make it. I was super lucky. I had thought... I mean, no one knew what I did for 10 years. And then, all of a sudden, people cared. And I was just a good of a producer before that as I was afterward. So, luckily, I had some goods to deliver when people found me. But there is no guarantee that putting the effort in results in anything. But I know that not putting the effort in gets you nowhere.
What is one thing that, if you told people about yourself, they would be surprised to know? (laughter)
Surprised. My staff is always surprised that I really like to dance.
I wouldn't have thought that.
They consider me very buttoned up.
I don't know why, but...
They consider me very buttoned up and not... I have a very different...
Let the waistcoat go and just...
Yeah, I just like... That's one thing. I love dancing and I love... But the other stuff... I'm kind of like... My personality's been out through what I do a lot. And so...
That's why. That's the nature of the question.
Yeah, so, I would say the other thing is I swear a lot more, especially on Twitter and various other things. So, there's an impression of Roman Mars, the host of the show, who's super thoughtful, reads every plaque, pays attention to everything, is really careful about things. And then there's the person that can't be bothered by stuff and is not... To me, and I don't mean to talk in third person in any sort of egotistical way, but the Roman Mars host is an aspirational character. He's more thoughtful. He's more curious. He cares more about the world. The angry punk rock me, which is a huge part of me, just reacts and is not thoughtful and doesn't think about the other side of things. And just wants to fight. And so, that's a huge part of my personality that people don't get to very often, but my friends get to see it. The glorious angry side of me.
You mentioned punk rock. You mentioned punk. You mentioned Doc Marten's. Punk band?
I was never... I worked a lot with them. I was basically the booker of a lot of bands and I did my own sort of thing. But I grew up on Washington, DC hardcore. I'm still a straight edge. It was my thing. And so, I love that stuff. And a lot of what I did... I created, with PRX, I created this collective podcast called Radiotopia, which is like my little punk rock label. And I've always wanted one. And I made it in podcasting instead. And so, the ethics of that were all built... The way we do our contracts, the way we don't own anything of anybody's, the way we try to treat people and they take care of their own work and take care of themselves, to me, it's my Dischord Label. It informs every part of my life. My history with punk rock music and punk rock ethic.
We share that in common. Just the DIY ethos. The if you can't buy it, then build it, if you can't find it, then make it, and, if not you, then who? Time to get to work.
Any particular characters from that era that...
I mean, my hero was Ian Mackaye. I mean, and so it's the way...
Minor Threat Ian?
Minor Threat. Yeah, Minor Threat and Fugazi and Embrace.
Hi there, I don't believe we've met. My name's Ian and I'm from Minor Threat.
Yeah, exactly. The way he comported himself and did his business, which is a strange part to take from that, but I recognized that. And it was about doing something small that was also universal. So, he was interested in documenting a single scene, the Washington, DC hardcore scene. And it had ripple effects out in the world. It had ripple effects for me while I was growing up in Central Ohio. And so, it was both small and big. It was careful. It was like... I always knew that the next Dischord release I would like and I would also be challenged by. Every Fugazi album that ever came out, first time I listened to it, I hated it. And then I loved it.
And then you loved it, right?
And all art should be this balance between comfort and challenge. And, if it's too comfortable, like a lot of punk is... So, punk can be really dismissed kind of easily. It tends to be all comfort and no challenge a lot of the time. So, I don't know, the first album sounds exactly like the fifth album. And it's comforting. But it gets tiresome. The ones who really... The ones I fell in love with were the ones where I kind of hated what they did next. 'Cause I want them to be like they were before. And then I grew to love what they did. So, that was a big part of what Dischord was about. It's always about challenging with the style of music and about the range of what they did.
Do you think about your career in those terms, also? Are you trying to do that with your show? Or is it subliminally?
I mean, in my best days I think so. A lot of times you just get bored. I mean, that's what drives that stuff forward is you're bored with yourself. And so you always wanna do something different. But it's nice to rest on comfort. Like, you can't not provide it. 'Cause there was a moment where I had to pick my staff up off the floor the day after Trump won the election. Because they basically wanted to...
Crawl on the floor.
Do that and also only do basically anti-Trump things. I was like, "Well, that's not our job." It's part of our job. But it's not all of our job. So, 'cause our job is still to provide comfort. Our job is still to do the things that people care about that we've been doing the whole time. And, when we can fit in the parts that challenge, that's great. But the comfort part is not... It's not that the challenge part is the noble part and the comfort part is the weak, capitalist, horrible part. You know, comfort is good, too. And so, I like that there's shows that people can rely on that provide something that's thoughtful and interesting. And I think that makes the world a better place. Even if you're not just screaming at the world.
I'm really moved by your idea that you shared earlier in the show about the people who are listening, what are they visualizing? And it's for that reason that I want to take a picture of you and I while we're actually on the radio show here.
And it's weird that it's... Most of my background is in philosophy. The philosophy of art. Conceptually, I think that's really interesting thing playing with the media. And, if the media is the message, what is an auditory experience of... 'Cause you know what it looks like when people are taking a picture together. And, right now, there are gonna be hundreds of thousands of people going, "Hmm, I wonder what it looks like when Chase takes a picture with Mister Mars." So, it's cultural. But here we go. That's a little bit too bright. So, now you know folks. That's what it sounds like. (laughter) That's what it sounds like. I want you to know that I'm excited to have had you on the show. I feel like, as a reminder to the folks at home, that everything that you talked about with your radio show and making and producing and creating and working and business is 100% applicable to any of these. The making process, regardless of the medium. Any habits that you attribute to success or longevity or... From a practical side.
Habits. Unfortunately, there's lots of bad habits to success, not just good habits. Which is you work too much and you work at night and you just work all the time. And I recommend working at home a lot, so you can still see your kids. And I exercise a lot. I run a lot. So, I do that every day. It's a big deal to me. But I don't know if it really helps. It must help my work. But I don't think it does that, necessarily.
There's one way to check.
Exactly. The thing is, because of stress or whatever, how I'm wired, I have chronic migraines. And the only thing that helps me is being so exhausted that I sleep really hard. And so, I basically have to... It's not that I'm like "Yay, exercise. I'm great at it." It's my medicine. I do it an hour and a half a day so that I'm exhausted when I'm done.
An hour and a half a day. Okay, maybe 60 minutes?
It ranges from 60 to an hour...
But it's like energy runs downhill. So, if I was fine and doing things I loved every moment and it's really hard to get outside and it's wet and rainy, that's when it's really hard to exercise. When you're gonna be in blinding pain for three days and not get anything done, then working out for an hour is not that big a deal.
That's right. You're like, I'm on it.
Yeah, I mean, so it's not... Again, this is not noble. I don't have great habits. I'm not really good at things. It's just I know that the alternative is for me. If I was normal, then that wouldn't be an issue.
The humility with which you approach the habit question and saying you have a bunch of bad habits, like working blah blah blah... Can you actually not be humble for a second and say something, for God's sakes, Roman?
The good things I do?
Yeah, what's a good habit you have that you would actually call good? Got nothing?
I mean, I really don't think of it that way. I always think about the things I should be improving. I'm super messy.
I understand that. It's what I'm trying to get you to break through here. (laughter) This is therapy. No, I'm trying to...
I'm super messy. My stuff is not organized at all. Like, I have terrible habits about that stuff.
We're clearly not gonna get there, folks at home. (laughter)
I mean, the main thing is just to... The one thing that came over time that, for me, was the... When you have something that's your own, you always have work to do. So, the thing you can get good at and practice at, which is a good habit, is...
So reluctant right now. You're so reluctant.
Is to get good at assessing where your level of fear about getting something done actually matches the amount of time you have left. So that you're not freaking out about something. Like, I do radio. So, it never stops. There's always something to do. So, I work with some people who work in print and web. My digital director, Kurt, he doesn't understand... He's like, "Why aren't you banking shows and getting them done? Why don't you feel nervous all the time because of it?" And it's because I know we'll get them done. It's like, so, if you can match up with... You know your skill level, know what you can do, and get to the point where you're not fretting over a thing. Knowing where to put your worry, I guess, is the right thing to do. Is really important.
And how do you get there?
You get there with time.
It's like reps.
It's just knowing your own habits. And knowing... I don't have to look at the hours. I don't have to estimate the hours. I know that, if I have a thing in 10 days and I haven't started... A live event, I can kind of wing part of that. It's triage. And that's important. Because you can't fight a war on all sides. So, getting good at that triage and knowing your own habits and your skill set to deal with that, that's a thing. And it only comes with time.
When was the last time you gave a long form interview like this? Yesterday? Two days ago? A week ago? Or two months ago?
I can't remember. It's been awhile. I mean, I did a stage thing a couple days ago. People asked me questions. But I usually interview.
Yeah, that's one of the reasons I love this. And I'm excited about what we've recorded here. I appreciate you sharing so much.
Keep doing what you're doing. The world loves it. I'm excited, 'cause I know that Debbie's excited to have you be a part of this Print thing. It's been fun connecting here for the last 45 minutes or so.
Thank you so much.
Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Roman Mars is the host and creator of 99% Invisible, a short radio show about design and architecture. With over 300 million downloads, the 99% Invisible podcast is one of the most popular podcasts in the world. Fast Company named him one of the 100 Most Creative People in 2013.
CHASE JARVIS is an award-winning artist, entrepreneur, best-selling author, and one of the most influential photographers of the past 20 years.  His expansive work ranges from shooting advertising campaigns for companies like Apple, Nike, and Red Bull; to working with athletes like Serena Williams and Tony Hawk, to collaborating with renowned icons like Lady Gaga and Richard Branson.<br>