On this episode Ryan sits down with his uncle Robin, whom he truly admires.  He gives a grounded perspective on the limiting nature of too much freedom, life in your 20s, and how to overcome the emotional issues that hold us back.  He then shares with Ryan his incredibly ernest advice on: how to move forward in life, the importance of hard work, what you need to be happy, and how we can avoid the mistakes he made growing up.  This is a great episode for anyone who feels like they are in a exploratory phase of life (like I am), and all the credit for this one goes to Ryan Doner.  Thank you brotha 😉


  • Intro [0:00]
  • Intro song [2:10]
  • Ryan explains what Paleomodern Polymaths is to his non-millennial uncle [3:10]
  • The History of Robin Doner [4:30]
  • What Robin did in his 20s (working in Antarctica)/how he recognized the underlying emotional issues holding him back [7:00]
  • Robin’s perspective on the struggle to find direction in your early/mid 20s [13:40]
  • Robin’s exciting non-traditional work/feeling trapped by travel [17:40]
  • How you can explore yourself in the details of a continuous everyday life [22:10]
  • How childhood trauma (divorce/loss of a father) affected the Doners’ behavioral patterns [25:50]
  • The differences in exploring life/careers in your 20’s vs 40’s [31:55]
  • The struggle to move forward in life/how to move forward [35:00]
  • How to create external means to motivate yourself [41:10]
  • “What advice would Robin give his 23 year old self” [44:20]
  • How your potential is wasted if you aren’t working hard [49:10]
  • The stresses/limiting nature of freedom [53:10]
  • The list things you need to be happy in life/practical self improvement [1:01:40]
  • Finding meaning in life/reconnecting with yourself [1:11:10]

Selected Links for the Episode:

Selected Quotes from the Episode:

  • “If you spend too much by yourself, out in the woods, or alone, a lot of your thoughts easily become magnified, or your feelings.  You don’t have another person to help you balance those thoughts out, or to round them out.  Things can easily become overwhelming because they keep coming back up, and there’s no one else to just interact with, and shift your mind away from things” -Robin
  •  “If people see who I really am, they’re not gonna want to be around me.” -Robin
  •  “If you quit trying on that aspect, to see something new in life, you sort of, in some internal way, shut down and die.  You stop trying.” -Robin
  •  “If you get comfortable in a situation where there are no stakes, you lose any struggle and it totally crushes you when you experience a small setback.” -Ryan
  •  “It’s really easy to go exploring for years and never get anywhere.  I’m a prime candidate for that.” -Robin
  •  “I think we’re relatively gifted and I don’t know how much of a gift that is if you aren’t willing to just dive in and work hard at something.  Damn the consequences just go fucking do it and work hard at it.” -Robin
  • *”You’re an amazing, awesome person. You just have to believe that for yourself. And that’s the person you need to put forward in interacting with other people. And that person, if you always have him at the forefront, you won’t end up going through the same struggles that I’ve gone through. You won’t be running from yourself. So who you are…and I see who you are…put that person forward. That’s the person you want to go out and meet people with. You have the tendency to settle back in a little bit…be a little introspective…hide a little bit. Bring who you are out, and know that that person is someone who the world wants to see and be with. I tell my wife the same thing. I tell her, “when you’re being you, I love you. Who you are is the most beautiful, amazing person. That’s who I met, thats who I fell in love with. When you’re free to be you. So when you want the daily challenge, the real one, it’s to be you.” -Robin.  *Ryan’s favorite quote


Cover art