Charlie Hoehn is an author, filmmaker, and marketing strategist. Best known for his playful approach to work, Charlie’s books — Play It Away, Play for a Living, and Recession-Proof Graduate — have sold more than 10,000 copies. Charlie’s work on mental health has reached millions of people. For four years, his article How I Cured My Anxiety was the #1 Google result for the search “anxiety cure.” His article Mass Shootings in America was the #2 most popular article on all of Medium.com in 2017. Currently, Charlie Hoehn is the Head of Video for Scribe. Previously, he worked full-time with Tim Ferriss as his Director of Special Projects. Together, they launched the #1 New York Times bestseller, The 4-Hour Body. Charlie Hoehn has advised over 100 authors, including Ramit Sethi, Eric Ries, Charles Duhigg, and Gary Vaynerchuk. Charlie Hoehn’s work has been featured in more than 50 media outlets, including NPR’s TED Radio Hour, Fast Company, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Financial Times, Globe and Mail, Tim Ferriss’ Blog, Seth Godin’s Blog, Chase Jarvis Live, and The James Altucher Show. Charlie Hoehn has spoken at The Pentagon, TEDx Carnegie Mellon, TEDx Santo Domingo, Google Startup Weekend, Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, Fort Presidio, Colorado State University, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and AATH. I’ve personally enjoyed Charlie’s books so I was excited to have a chance to speak with him. Please enjoy my interview with Charlie Hoehn…
How do you describe your occupation?
What is something about you that people might find surprising?
On the extreme end — I’ve helped thousands of people overcome debilitating anxiety. I’ve given 4 TEDx talks. I’ve spoken at the Pentagon. I was Tim Ferriss’ first full-time employee. I traveled around the United States in a giant tour bus with Tucker Max, shooting and editing funny videos on his movie tour. Four years later, I was Tucker’s roommate. I tricked one of my best friends into publishing a book. I once stayed up for 4 days, on only six hours of sleep. I’ve interviewed over 200 authors about their books.
On the more normal side — I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression. I love improv. I played baseball for 12 years. I don’t really identify as an author; I just had to write books to get the ideas out of my head. I play the guitar. My biggest passion is video editing. My goal for 2019 is to create a short movie every week. I was secretly addicted to cigarettes for a couple years, then quit after I did mushrooms. My favorite person of all time is my 1-year old daughter. A very close second is my wife.
What are you reading at the moment and what made you want to read it?
Joy at Work by Dennis W. Bakke. Titles like this always catch my attention.
What was your favourite book as a child and why?
For years, my favorite book was The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. I’d never read a book where I was reading about another kid reading a book. It was thrilling, and so much better than the movie. Then Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling came along, and that became my new favorite.
I loved so many books. I volunteered at a school library during the summers. I remember being fascinated by the Guinness Book of World Records. I also adored The Berenstain Bears and Goosebumps.
When did you fall in love with reading?
As early as I can remember. It’s as essential as walking. I have to read.
What was the last book you purchased, and why did you buy it?
Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block. I purchased it because the highest correlation for happiness is not money, not success, not fame… It’s community. So it’s worth studying. It’s also why I keep this How to Build Community poster in my office.
Related: I also recently ordered and read The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker for the same reason. And that is a fantastic book.
What are perfect reading conditions for you?
It’s not the conditions that matter, it’s having the right book. Something I want to read RIGHT NOW (rather than a book that could be nice to read someday). I’ll hungrily read in any setting, so long as it’s interesting and fun.
What book have you found most inspiring, what effect did it have on you?
Most recently, it was definitely One Last Talk by Philip McKernan. It inspired me to write my own talk, which is the personal truth I’d most want to say if I was about to leave this planet. Here are the effects it had on me:
I wept like a fountain. Until I read that book, I had little awareness of how I’d never fully grieved one of my best friends committing suicide. That book brought it right into the forefront, along with a couple other critically important truths that I’d never fully shared with anyone. I cried so much the whites of my eyes were totally clear, which is something I haven’t seen for a long time.
I gave my talk to my wife. She was really excited and honored to hear it, but it was the most nervous I’ve ever been to give a speech BY FAR. I was shaking because it was stuff I’d kept in for more than 15 years, and I had painful memories of ever bringing it up, so my body was expecting shame and judgment.
The talk went great. My wife was not only completely loving and accepting, but she also felt like a missing piece of the puzzle was there and she understood me. I felt like I’d dropped a weight I’d been carrying around for far too long.
What’s the most obscure book you own; how did you discover it?
A 90-year old copy of The Science of Living by W.H. McKeever. I flipped through it in an antique store, and it just delighted me.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
What is your proudest achievement?
Making a 4-year old girl laugh so hard that she cried during an improv show.
If you were trying to impress a visitor, which book that you own would you leave on the coffee table?
Definitely Play for a Living. We spent 3 years putting that book together, with 50 artists all over the world who contributed pieces. It’s amazing. We launched it on Kickstarter a couple years ago. I’m so proud of what we all did together.
If an alien landed in your garden; which three books would you gift them to showcase humanity in the best possible way?
I would definitely NOT give them Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling is the best version of the hero’s journey, and that’s what humanity is all about.
Then I’d show them Shawshank Redemption because they need to know we have awesome movies.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?
Probably The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Not because I have that lifestyle, but because it inspired me to reach out and work with Tim. And that totally changed the course of my life, no question. The ripple effects are too many to list, but it really woke me up to the possibilities of designing your entire life.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
Which book sat on your shelf are you most excited about reading next and why?
Not sure, I have a lot on deck. I’ll give you my trick though: Instead of adding books to your Amazon Waitlist, download the samples to your Kindle. Game-changer.