Personal Development

Rick Rubin, Legendary Producer — Timeless Methods for Unlocking Creativity, Secrets Hidden in Plain Sight, The Future with AI, Helpful Distractions, Working with Strong Personalities, Breaking Out of “The Sameness,” and More (#649)

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“Look for what you notice but no one else sees.”

— Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin (@RickRubin) is a nine-time GRAMMY-winning producer, one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, and the most successful producer in any genre, according to Rolling Stone. He has collaborated with artists from Tom Petty to Adele, Johnny Cash to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys to Slayer, Kanye West to the Strokes, and System of a Down to Jay-Z. You can find my 2015 interview with Rick at

His new book is THE CREATIVE ACT: A Way of Being

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform.

Brought to you by Wealthfront high-yield savings account, Peloton Row premium rower for an efficient workout, and You Need A Budget cult-favorite money management app.

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#649: Rick Rubin, Legendary Producer — Timeless Methods for Unlocking Creativity, Secrets Hidden in Plain Sight, The Future with AI, Helpful Distractions, Working with Strong Personalities, Breaking Out of “The Sameness,” and More

This episode is brought to you by You Need A Budget! You Need A Budget is a cult-favorite budgeting app for a reason—it works. The app and its simple 4-rule method will change the way you think about your money and help you gain total control so you can plan for the things you need and get the things you want without guilt or stress. You Need A Budget has helped millions of people transform their finances, save their marriages, and live life on their own terms.

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This episode is brought to you by Peloton Row! Peloton Row delivers personalized rowing workouts to help you learn and master your stroke. Form features like Form Assist and Form Ratings & Insights indicate how to improve your stroke in class in real time and provide a post-class breakdown so you can hit the Row harder next time. And with the ability to customize your target metrics, you become an expert at the level and pace that feels good for you. You get all your cardio and strength in one shot, while protecting your joints and ligaments in a high-intensity, low-impact way. Fun fact: you work 86% of your muscles in only 15 minutes.

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Want to hear Rick Rubin’s previous interview on this podcast? Have a listen to our conversation (from the inside of a sauna!), during which we discussed how Rick lost 145 pounds, rebuilding the circadian rhythm, music discovery versus manufacturing, how to approach music from a place of appreciation, genre-hopping, sauna/ice bath combination, and much more.

#76: Rick Rubin on Cultivating World-Class Artists (Jay Z, Johnny Cash, etc.), Losing 100+ Pounds, and Breaking Down The Complex

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.





  • [00:00] Start
  • [06:28] Why Rick wrote The Creative Act.
  • [09:24] The Tao of Rick Rubin.
  • [12:16] Making the creative toolbox multi-purposeful.
  • [15:00] Collaborations: ensuring the best ideas prevail over egos.
  • [19:50] Creative revisions are experiments, not guaranteed improvements.
  • [26:44] Knowing when to be defined by or to deviate from an established genre.
  • [33:07] Why Rick resisted advice to make his first book an autobiography.
  • [37:10] Even a solo project is a collaboration.
  • [38:07] Noticing what nobody else sees.
  • [40:24] Being in the wonderful state “which makes art inevitable.”
  • [42:22] Craftsperson vs. artist.
  • [44:29] Good distraction vs. bad distraction.
  • [46:40] Breaking out of sameness.
  • [49:24] Filtering out non-constructive feedback.
  • [51:39] Does artificial intelligence deserve a role in the creative process?
  • [55:36] What happens when new music catches Rick’s ear?
  • [56:54] How to be the best music producer possible.
  • [1:00:17] Artists who seem to best channel wonder from the mundane.
  • [1:04:12] Managing massive inspirational intake.
  • [1:05:24] New movies on Rick’s radar.
  • [1:06:23] Tips for artists who want to endure the ages.
  • [1:12:06] Pacing the book — as the writer and the reader.
  • [1:15:39] Parting thoughts.


“That’s the way I like to work. I go in with a blind belief that something good will happen and until it’s proven impossible, I will continue banging my head against the wall.”
— Rick Rubin

“In most collaborative projects … the way that I’ve noticed it working is that there’ll be many ideas, and there’ll be a battle of wills to see which idea wins. It’s not necessarily based in which idea is best—it’s more of an ego conflict battle. And then someone who’s either willing to fight more or is more insensitive is able to push their way through, and that becomes a direction. And from my experience, those are not how the best decisions are made.”
— Rick Rubin

“Always refer back to the thing that you’re revising. I would never assume, because you put more time into something, it’s getting better.”
— Rick Rubin

“Look for what you notice but no one else sees.”
— Rick Rubin

“What makes an artist great happens not in the making. It happens in the way of being in the world, the way of experiencing the world, the way of noticing the thing that someone else doesn’t notice. The way of seeing what’s beautiful when everyone else sees the mundane and being able to represent that back in a way that other people get a glimpse of what we saw that they didn’t notice.”
— Rick Rubin

“The craftsperson is making the thing and making them all the same and making them all match or making the one that somebody ordered. … The artist is making the thing that you didn’t know you want, the thing that you didn’t know that you couldn’t live without, the thing that you didn’t know was possible.”
— Rick Rubin

“We get to walk around in awe all day and have our breath taken away, and then we get to portray that in something where someone else hopefully could have that same sense of awe from something we made.”
— Rick Rubin

“The reason there are so many musical artists and the reason I have thousands of albums of artists and thousands of artists that I follow that I love isn’t because they’re all the best one. They all do something really good particular to them.”
— Rick Rubin


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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