Ryan Holiday – Ego Is The Enemy

“If Confidence is what is real…ego is what we wish to be true.” – Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday visited Google headquarters for an interview about his thoughts on philosophy, his latest book Ego Is The Enemy, and other topics such as:

  • How do we use our work to hide from problems?
  • What are the problems with conditional happiness?
  • What is the persecution complex?
  • What are the positive aspects of an ego when it pertains to people who lack self confidence?
  • Why is Jackie Robinson’s story still important when talking about racism in corporate america today?
  • What can we learn from the tragic story about the fate of the writer of confederacy of dunces?
  • The practicality of philosophy and how it has been misconstrued.
  • And much, much more…


Links from the interview:

Quotes from the interview:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” –  Viktor E. Frankl“It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows.” – Epictetus

“In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” –  John Archibald Wheeler

“Would anyone think himself to be in his perfect mind if he were to return kicks to a mule or bites to a dog?” – Seneca

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”― Gautama Buddha
“…always to live your life by an inner scorecard, not an outer scorecard.”  – Warren Buffett

“It is a sore thing to have laboured along and scaled the arduous hilltops, and when all is done, find humanity indifferent to your achievement.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” – Otto von Bismarck
“Vain is the word of that philosopher which does not heal any suffering of man.”– Epicurus

The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” – Steven Pressfield

Questions asked:


What is ego? And how can it get in the way of our success? [00:46]
How do we become aware of our ego? [02:30]
“Ego loves the idea that something is fair or not.” You mention the ‘persecution complex’. What is that? And how can we protect ourselves from it? [03:30]
Philosopher Josef Pieper said, “We tend to overwork as a means of self-escape, as a way of trying to justify our existence.” . How does this tie into ego? [06:10]
Why do people feel they have ‘graduated’ in certain fields of expertise causing them not to learn anymore? How do we remain always a student? [08:19]
Can you talk about the story in your book about Jackie Robinson? [10:55]
Jordan’s story about his mentor dealing with racism in corporate america [14:40]
While ego can cause arrogance, what are the positive aspects of an ego when it pertains to people who lack self confidence? [15:30]
Startups and delusion [18:30]
What are the best three ways to check our ego? [20:40]
Have you experienced Impostor Syndrome and if so, how did you handle it? [22:20]
Writer James Basford said, “It requires a strong constitution to withstand repeated attacks of prosperity.” How do companies prevent themselves from creating an ego of success and entitlement? [25:25]
In the chapter, Always Love, you included the following Martin Luther King quote, “Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life.” Can you expand on this? [28:00]
Story about the fate of the writer of confederacy of dunces. What can we learn from that situation? [30:40]  
For someone just getting into Stoicism, where do you find a natural starting point? Marcus Aurelius seems to be the most accessible but I’m wondering if there’s a better place to learn about Stoic philosophy. [35:53]
“…it’s the book I wish existed at critical turning points in my own life. When I like, everyone else, was called to answer the most critical questions a person can ask themselves in life: Who do i want to be?” Who do you want to be? [37:21]
What do you think are the general character traits and trends of our current culture? What do you think are the most potentially dangerous things about those traits that should be addressed? [40:55]
You have conflict that happens in X AND Y, how do you deal with it? What gets under your skin, and what throws you off your balance? How do you pull yourself out of this? [38:55]
Philosophy to most people seems academic and theoretical. Is Stoicism unique in it’s practicality?  [42:55]
How did you go about taking action in his life? [45:00]
What was the most important thing he learned from Robert Greene? [47:15]
What was his favorite passage from “
The Ego Is The Enemy”? [47:54]
When do you draw the line between persevering  and quitting? [48:37]
How do you know when a decision is ego driven? [50:42]
What’s the craziest thing you have done to market this book? [52:14]
Does the mindset from Robert Greene’s
48 Laws Of Power influence people towards an ego centered way? [53:35]
What is your strategy for being a better reader? [55:27]

See also  Eric Barker - Barking Up The Wrong Tree
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