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What Creates Passion and Passionate People, and What Defeats it In Us? Interview with Gregg Levoy

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Part one of a two part transcript of my lengthy interview with Gregg Levoy, one of my favorite writers. Link to recording of interview here.

Thanks Thanks to Tsara Shelton for helping with the transcript editing.

what creates passion and passionate people, and what defeats it in us? That's the focus of Gregg Levoy's book, the focus of our interview.

Rob: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom-Up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey sponsored by My guest tonight is Gregg Levoy. He is the author of Callings, a best selling book and a new book Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion. And I have to say these are both brilliant, incredible books that you gotta read. Things are a little different on this interview, I'm doing it live face to face with Gregg so welcome to the show.

GL: Thanks so much Rob, I appreciate it.

Rob: So a little background here, now I interviewed you five or six years ago, long after your first book, Callings, was published, but when I discovered it and got aware of it because I had become interested in the world of story and fascinated by the Hero's Journey by Joseph Campbell, that whole concept that he wrote about in his book Hero with a Thousand Faces. And you wrote this book Callings, which I saw as a book that focused on the call to adventure in a sense, and I read it and it was like wow, amazing book and the world responded similarly; you've had a great success I think with it.

And so you came back to me when you brought out this new book and I have to say that my radio show changed. Back when I interviewed you I had an angle on health, and now my radio show has been for five or six years called the Bottom-Up radio show and it's based on the idea that I think we're transitioning from a top down to a bottom up culture and I try to get people's takes on bottom up and top down. Bottom up is a kind of a way of relating, experiencing, seeing that is based on connections and the idea that we're all connected, we're all interdependent. And - I first looked at your book, it was like, oh, this is a book about passion and I'm not sure it's going to connect but I have to tell you that reading it, it basically gave me an epiphany, a breakthrough and some ideas about bottom up that were really great for me. Now, I'm not sure how much that helps you with your book, because you're on a book tour promoting your book, but it was great for me. And this book is about passion and it encourages you to find your passion and I'm kind of - I don't usually go on this long without my guest speaking, but for me this book is kind of a cartography of passion. It explores and turns it into science, which I haven't seen anything like before. So, it's a brilliant book, not just in the exploration of the idea, but in the language and the way you've woven together stories, quotations, and the etymology; the history of the words that you explore. I think you pull those pieces together in such a beautiful way. My friend Margo called it liquid velvet.

GL: That's great.

Rob: And it is just a beautiful read as well as an inspiring and enlightening read.

GL: Thank you.

Rob: So, with that said, I'm going to begin the way I've been advised to give talks, the old preacher said first tell them what they're going to hear then tell them and then tell them what they heard. So, let's start off, what is the goal of this book?

GL: The goal of the book - I would just say like you said, it is just an exploration of something we've been noodling around with for ages, is what creates passion and passionate people, and what defeats it in us. So I was just fascinated with the subject of - and all the way back to Callings, of how people create a life that really belongs to them and isn't a knockoff. And part of what kept coming up was the subject of passion and vitality. So, to me it's just an exploration, like a scientist, like my father who was a scientist, you know, is looking at what this subject looks like from the inside out, from historical perspectives, cultural perspectives, artistic, neurological; I just wanted like you said, a scientific exploration of this subject that we hear a lot about, especially nowadays. Business people talk about it, couples are always looking for it, educators talk about life-long learning I mean there's just a lot of discussion about passion and engagement. So I just wanted to understand it from the inside out.

Rob: Okay, so your first book - not your first, but your big book is Callings.

GL: Right.

Rob: What's the subtitle?

GL: Finding and Following an Authentic Life.

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