“The Moment” with Brian Koppelman

I almost never do interviews. But I went out of my way to do three, in New York, over the past ten days.

I’m gonna take this post to talk about the first one, with Brian Koppelman, on his podcast, “The Moment.”

Here’s the link via Stitcher (though you can listen in other ways too.)

Have you heard of Brian? He’s one of the co-creators (as well as a showrunner and writer) of Billions, in its fourth season on Showtime. He’s also a screenwriter and director, a former music industry exec and producer, and a lot of other stuff. He co-wrote and co-directed one of the most underappreciated movies of the past decade, Solitary Man, starring Michael Douglas and Susan Sarandon.

But his podcast is his true labor of love.

Why?

Because for all his success, Brian remains a soldier in the trenches. He struggles. He beats his brains out. He’s had ups and downs that would’ve taken the heart out of anybody.

But he loves this racket.

He’s a real writer, and he’s got the psychotherapist’s bills to prove it.

Brian calls his podcast “The Moment” because he’s fascinated by writers’ (and other artists’ and entrepreneurs’) stories of their own inner turning points.

When was THE MOMENT when you finally saw the light? Turned the corner? Got it together?

What hellish ordeals did you go through to get to that point?

When did you make the decision to “turn pro,” even if it was only inside your own mind?

I’ve known Brian for about ten years. I wanted to be part of a back-and-forth with him because I knew he would ask hard, probing questions and I knew he wouldn’t let up till he’d gotten real answers.

“Talk about when you were most miserable. Where were you? What were you doing? How did you get there? How did you get back?”

“Did you ever give up? What was that like? When was it? What made you hang on?”

Then he’d tell me his stories of his own darkest hours.

In the past few months Brian has interviewed a bunch of the people I respect most—Rosanne Cash, Seth Godin, Tony Gilroy & Scott Frank.

I found myself telling Brian things I hadn’t remembered, or even thought of, in years. Including the story about me and the gorilla in the parking lot of a banana importing company in New Orleans (tune in for the full version.)

Before we started recording the podcast, I asked Brian who his audience was—and what they were hoping to get from our conversation, or any conversation.

“They’re very intelligent. Highly educated. Creative. Some are young, just starting out. Others have long successful careers, in all kinds of fields, but maybe they’re not completely happy. They’re struggling. They’re trying to break through, not just in a creative or commercial sense, but on a deeper level, a soul level. They’re on their ‘hero’s journeys.’ They’re in the shit and they want to know how other people have handled their own time in the shit.”

I was nodding my head.

It sounded a lot like me.

Anyway, here’s the link to the podcast again. The conversation is about an hour long.

It’s a good one, thanks to Brian being a great interviewer.

Take a listen if you get a chance.

And thanks, Brian, for making it happen.

 

 

DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

do the work book banner 1

THE AUTHENTIC SWING

A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.

noboybookcover

TURNING PRO

Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"

Turning-Pro

17 Comments

  1. Mary Doyle on February 13, 2019 at 6:07 am

    Will definitely check out this podcast – sounds like a great “meeting of the minds”…thanks!

  2. Brenda Ammon on February 13, 2019 at 6:16 am

    Steven I can’t wait to listen. We are all in this together. I love your work. My husband and I love Billions.

    I really enjoy receiving your emails. Thank you for all the insights about life!

    I love Seth too. I am taking his This Is Marketing Seminar. Great. Great. Great. Life changing stuff happening.

    Thanks you and your team for being a part of transforming people lives.

  3. Mia Sherwood Landau on February 13, 2019 at 6:29 am

    I’m thinking my life is a daisy chain of moments… Thanks to you, Steven, I’ve come to realize that’s a good thing!

  4. Pamela Hodges on February 13, 2019 at 6:34 am

    Hello Steven,
    Thank you for sharing your interview. I will listen. And learn. Deciding to be a writer and writing is harder than cleaning seven litter boxes every day. This podcast sounds great. It will be helpful to find out how other creatives deal with “being in the shit” because I am there now. The only way I see to get out, is to “Do The Work.”
    xo
    Pamela

  5. Joe Jansen on February 13, 2019 at 8:42 am

    I like eavesdropping on a conversation between two guys (or gals) who know each other, understand each other, and clearly enjoy each other’s company. The couple things that poked me: how we can relate to the genre convention of the detective getting beat up (howdy, Jake Gittes) because that’s what we’re doing to ourselves when we’re not fully committed, like drunks who say they’re going to quit but keep getting hammered. Pounding ourselves down until we (if we’re lucky) find that bottom.

    The recognition (I think Brian says it) of the fear of what if we expose ourselves, reveal our specialness, and we’re told it’s not good enough and we risk feeling crushed. And isn’t *that* what makes us blow ourselves up before we get to the end. Do it before it’s done to us. The voice of the big R.

    And Steve’s… maybe we think we have to be great for God to love us. Maybe that’s not true, and we can just *be* (and be doing the best we can).

    Good conversation. Thanks for letting us listen in.

  6. Ms. Moretti on February 13, 2019 at 9:59 am

    Mr. Pressfield, your Artist books are so concise and clear that they speak to the soul. I am so glad you did this interview! Brian Koppelman is in the trenches, in the Work, on the Artist’s Journey. He practices it, he gets it, and is so familiar with your work and your voice that I found myself thanking him, along with you, for asking such great questions. Although you touched on some points and familiar examples from your books, it was so nice to hear you elaborate on them in conversation, and in the moment.
    You know when you watch a favorite actor do one of those press junket interviews for their latest movie? They can be painful to watch – full of hype or surface-y b.s. for a ten second sound bite. Well, this was nothing like that! Thanks to both you and Mr. Koppelman for creating a rich atmosphere for more inspiration and insight along the path. Loved it.
    When I read nonfiction that is vital – and yours is, on this leg of the Journey – the words I read go into the bones, and there is a resonance of truth and knowing. Also, a feeling that this is food on a deep level.
    Thank you for sharing so generously.

  7. Stephanie Clayton on February 13, 2019 at 11:45 am

    I Can’t wait to listen to this tonight. Thanks for continuing to inspire me, Mr. Pressfield.

  8. Rock Kendzior on February 13, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Just finished listening to the interview. Wonderful on many levels. So glad you two connected. Good exchange and energy. Thank you for “doing the work.”

  9. BRIAN S NELSON on February 13, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    Dear Steve,
    I was so excited to find your interview on “The Moment” last week. I know you don’t do interviews very often, so this was like Christmas in February/January. Could have been 2 weeks ago. We’ve had a Snowpalalypse in Tacoma, so I’ve lost track of time. Your voice is super clear in your writing, but there is something even more endearing to literally hear you speak.

    Like Joe Jansen, I love to listen to discussions between 2 interesting people. In fact, I’m still amazed at how much I enjoy the podcasts to which I subscribe. So much good content, not enough time to listen.
    However…what about a Black Irish Podcast…nudge, nudge, wink, wink…
    bsn

  10. Jed Hicks on February 14, 2019 at 7:01 am

    Great podcast! Always enjoy listening to Steve explaining the mundane, blue-collar, in the trenches effort of writing every day. Enjoyed Brian’s focus on those turning point moments and diving deeper there. Your life changes. YOU can change your life.
    I used to believe that published writers basically wrote their book in one or two drafts and after a few tweaks from their editor the book was ready to print. Steve has really helped to demystify that perception and helped me with the simplest of all advice, “Just keep plugging along.”

  11. Tony Monterastelli on February 14, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    Great interview! Thanks Steve and Brian!! I’m glad Brian mentioned “The Artist’s Way,” by Julia Cameron, another great book for artists that stands up with “The War of Art.” I have been doing morning pages.. Morning pages are not intended to be real writing, though it certainly helps writers. Morning pages purge the negative, Resistance-based self-talk first thing each day. Putting those shitty random thoughts down on paper is like putting the beast of Resistance right in a cage where it belongs. Then you can go about having a productive day.

  12. Candice York on February 14, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    I found this interview via a You Tube wormhole (the interview with Marie Forleo) and I am a forever fan! Discussions about GRIT are few and far between among my generation, and discussions about (actually) applying this grit through creative outlets are even more sparse! I can’t exactly put into words how ecstatic I am to have discovered your site and “The Moment” podcast! Thank you for all your hard work and for sharing your lessons with the world!!!

  13. sandra on February 15, 2019 at 8:10 am

    Dear Mr. Pressfield,

    Thank you for sharing this interview. I’m always amazed and inspired by your hero’s journey. Thank you for telling your story; it keeps my fire burning. In fact, I still hang on the first words you taught me (which continue to haunt me): Did You Overcome Resistance Today? I penned them years ago when I heard you on a radio interview. And the same old sticky note remains by my desk as a reminder.

    Your interview with Mr. Koppelman jolted me into reality. Am I serious about writing or playing with it? Live it or die? I’d die without it. On the front cover of your book, THE WAR OF ART, Esquire called it “A vital gem…a kick in the *ss.” I pulled it from my bookshelf for that reason.

    Indeed, you say it best, “The single most critical skill for the artist is this: The ability to sit down and do her work.”

    You are a gift to aspiring writers like me. I send you my gratitude and heartfelt appreciation.

  14. foteini on February 15, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    I love you Steven i wish you made more interviews because i like to hear your voice…

  15. Kyle Estep on February 16, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    I love Brian’s answer to who his audience is. I will check out the podcast. Thank you for sharing this because there is so much being created everyday that finding the right art for me or my clients is overwhelming.

  16. sam jason on February 19, 2019 at 11:49 am

    inspiration it is such a good interview really good work.

  17. Cecelia on February 21, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    Definitely will have a listen! Who knew that he was the brilliant mind behind Billions. Love that show. 🙂
    And I love even more, the notion of capturing the moment when people are wading through the shit trenches. Rather than accepting the Oscar or walking the red/silver/you name it color of carpet. We need to capture this more IMO. I also loved the interview you did with Marie Forleo and talked about this a bit. Where the hair is unkempt, the face is unshaven, haven’t showered in who knows how many days but the magic is happening (or not sometimes) as the creativity is bleeding out of our soul. This is the real deal. You are the real deal. Thanks, Steve!

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