Dec. 8, 2022

Best Books & Authors in 2022 – Marc Champagne (My Favorite Books, Tools, Habits, and More)

We deconstruct Marc Champagne's peak performance playbook—from his favorite book to the tiny habit that's had the biggest impact on his life. Marc is the author of Personal Socrates: Questions That Will Upgrade Your Life from Legends & World-Class Performers. We cover breathwork, the dialogue about mental health, and building a life wiki with Notion.

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We deconstruct Marc Champagne's peak performance playbook—from his favorite book to the tiny habit that's had the biggest impact on his life. Marc is the author of Personal Socrates: Questions That Will Upgrade Your Life from Legends & World-Class Performers. We cover breathwork, the dialogue about mental health, and building a life wiki with Notion.

“The thing that lights me up the most is leaving people with more energy after conversation than when they came in.” – Marc Champagne




In this episode, we deconstruct Marc Champagne's peak performance playbook—from his favorite book to the tiny habit that's had the biggest impact on his life. In it we cover:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:00:45 – The current dialogue around mental health
  • 00:01:27 – Being a source of energy for others
  • 00:03:26 – Trusting the journey
  • 00:05:05 – Breathwork and questioning medications
  • 00:14:22 – The Notion Life Wiki
  • 00:16:22 – Success is waking up happy and motivated



Marc Champagne is author of Personal Socrates: Questions That Will Upgrade Your Life from Legends & World-Class Performers. A self-proclaimed Mental Fitness Strategist, Marc is a speaker and corporate trainer and hosts the top 50 podcast, Behind the Human. Marc previously co-founded the journaling app (KYO) which reached 86.9 million people.







Learn timeless lessons on work and life from iconic founders, world-renown investors, and bestselling authors. Outlier Academy is the forever school for those chasing greatness. Past guests include Gokul Rajaram of DoorDash, Scott Belsky of Benchmark and Adobe, Joey Krug of Pantera Capital, Mark Sisson of Primal Kitchen, Luke Gromen of The Forest for the Trees, and Brian Scudamore of 1-800-GOT-JUNK.




Outlier Academy is hosted by Daniel Scrivner. Over the last 15 years, Daniel has led design teams at Square and Apple, turned around a $3M+ ARR SaaS business, and invested in more than 100 companies. He launched Outlier Academy in 2020 to learn from the world’s best founders, investors, authors, and peak performance experts.




Daniel Scrivner (00:06):
We're back with Marc Champagne, author of Personal Socrates, and host of Behind the Human, to dive into everything from his habits and routines to the tools he loves, his favorite books, and more all in less than 20 minutes. This is 20 minutes, 10 questions with Marc Champagne. Let's get started.

Daniel Scrivner (00:23):
Marc, thank you so much for coming on the show. It's wonderful to have you.

Marc Champagne (00:26):
I can't wait. I mean, the energy is always lit up with you, so let's do this.

Daniel Scrivner (00:31):
This should be a lot of fun. We try to keep this conversation to around 20 minutes, so it'd be a little bit faster pace. We'll ask you the same 12 questions we ask every guest. Are you ready?

Marc Champagne (00:42):
12 questions, go for it.

Daniel Scrivner (00:45):
The first one, what have you been excited or fascinated about recently? Big question.

Marc Champagne (00:49):
I mean, there's so much. I mean, the thing that comes to mind the most to be honest is just the willingness and all the dialogue around people actually taking their mental health and mental fitness seriously, that not being this strange, "Oh, what are you talking about meditating or journaling?" People are open to speaking about this stuff, which to me, I just see, "Wow. Now, there's a lot of possibility here. If we can really rock our internal empire, then everything exterior wise benefits from that."

Daniel Scrivner (01:20):
I think the openness around mental health, it feels like that's changed dramatically over the last couple years, which has been a wonderful thing.

Marc Champagne (01:26):

Daniel Scrivner (01:27):
Next question, I'm really excited to hear this. What are your superpowers, and how have you harnessed those strengths?

Marc Champagne (01:34):
Oh, I love it. Superpowers. Well, I'm looking... I'm just looking through the glass here. I've got my five-year-old drew this little Superman image, and he colored Superman's hair gray.

Daniel Scrivner (01:45):
There we go. It's you.

Marc Champagne (01:47):
I love it. I mean, so Superman for me though... I mean, the thing that lights me up the most is leaving people with more energy after a conversation than when they came in. I get the same thing in return from a lot of people. There's nothing better than that, at least for me, because then you can't put a price on that, feeling good. I try to do that as much as possible so that no matter what I'm talking about, whether it's mental fitness or if it's some practice or something in between, that hopefully at least the other person's listening, or they're engaged because the energy's infectious.

Marc Champagne (02:23):
That's just something that even before getting into this work, even in the corporate world of things, delivering presentations, I might not always be right on strategies and figures and this and that, but I'll hopefully at least grab your attention to think.

Daniel Scrivner (02:39):
I love the bar of your goal at the end of each meeting is to leave just everybody in the room in a better place as opposed to energy drained. I'm very similar, and I feel like whenever I have one of those meetings, it's like a gift to receive that.

Marc Champagne (02:52):
Oh, for sure. For sure. Part of that strategy, the opening prompt of my podcast, which every guest gets is who are you? There's a double meaning behind that or double objective, I should say. The first one is just to avoid job titles, and give people a sense of who that person is. But the bigger one for me is if that person's never thought of a question like that, I hope that at the end of our conversation, there's some thought process there, or there's some reflection. Nothing would make me smile more than the guest or that person's getting a little bit more post conversation just from one question.

Daniel Scrivner (03:26):
On the flip side, what have you struggled with, and how have you improved or worked around those things?

Marc Champagne (03:31):
I struggled with trusting the journey at the very beginning of leaving, what I didn't know at the time, very secure life in a space where my job was pretty secured, even though companies were going through layoffs and stuff like that, so at times, it didn't feel like that. But in retrospect now being on my own, and it's entrepreneurial world, I mean, it's a hell of a lot more secure, let's just say. Then I started to really realize that, Wow, I've really been conditioned to be on this program path, essentially, which is totally fine." I'm not saying that that is wrong, but when I came out of it and then into another world where that didn't exist, but I still tried to replicate that feeling, that's where I think there was a bit of a problem, at least for me.

Marc Champagne (04:19):
Then it wasn't until essentially following what I'm practicing and preaching when it comes to mental fitness to get to the point of, "You know what, I know I'm on the right path. I've set a really smart plan, and the best plan I can. I just need to trust a journey. I need to treat my mental fitness and mental health as a priority. Then I'll see the right path forward." Because then you become comfortable, or I mean, I would say I'm excited for the uncertainty that lies ahead because it's opportunity. Whereas not long ago, I feared that uncertainty.

Daniel Scrivner (04:53):
I love that. Something I've reflected on similarly is that every accomplishment starts with this leap into the unknown. One, it requires a leap. There's no easy path down. You just need to take that leap, and bet on yourself. It's interesting to reflect on that. What habits have you experimented with that have had a positive impact on your life and performance? This could be things you do today, things you just try to do that maybe you're occasionally good at.

Marc Champagne (05:15):
Of course. I mean, I would say the biggest one has been implementing a breathwork practice within my routine. Just because you can feel the immediate physical effects specifically, I'm just following Wim Hof's sequence of breath, essentially three rounds of in and out breaths, 30 breaths each, some breath holds, and stuff like that. Now, I'm getting to the point where it's... I mean, I did it this morning, which I'm stacking in other practices. So on the breath holds, I'm looping in a visualization of either how I want the day to go, or a big presentation or event or just goals in general, but just taking that time where at one point, you probably get up to two, three minutes, if not more in terms of a breath hold.

Marc Champagne (06:03):
While I'm sitting there, my mind's putting together the puzzle pieces. Then when I'm done that practice, I'm really primed, physically primed. My body's oxygenated, and my mind is also rolling in the right direction. That's been a big one for me.

Daniel Scrivner (06:18):
Is there an app you work with, or I guess how'd you learn about that? I know of Wim Hof. I guess just haven't gone down that particular rabbit hole yet.

Marc Champagne (06:24):
Well, you're about to... I just... Knowing you now, I feel like you're going to be on this for sure. I started with Kevin Rose's app Oak Meditation, because he's got a section in there that has breathwork. It's really short stuff, which is awesome. I think the longest you can do one of those sessions is five minutes and 30 seconds or something. I started with that, and started to really realize just even in between meetings or podcast, just a reset essentially. I was like, "Wow, that's powerful stuff."

Marc Champagne (06:56):
Then Wim, I feel like it was maybe about two years ago or so, he was really on a podcast circuit, right? I downloaded his app, which is good, but he also just has a YouTube channel where that's what I've been using now. I think, one of the videos has something like 33 million views. So clearly, everyone's doing the same thing. I mean, you just put it on. There's no ads running. He's guiding you through. You can also pause the video. If you want to extend your breath hold, for example, then just restart it. I've been doing that, but I would challenge people because I always laugh at myself.

Marc Champagne (07:32):
When you're doing it by yourself, you're essentially supposed to do about 30 big breaths in and out. I'm always amazed at how distracted our minds are. At least mine sometimes is almost nearly impossible to actually count 30 times or 30 breaths. So every now and then, I share that because I skip using the YouTube video just to check in with myself to see... It's a bit of a sanity check on how much is floating around in my mind, because if I can't count to 30, I'm probably maxed out somewhere, so it's just a nice temperature check.

Daniel Scrivner (08:03):
No, that's really smart. We will link to the YouTube channel as well as that YouTube video. I'll go and dig that up. I'll put that in the show notes. That sounds incredible. On the health side, what is your approach to diet, exercise, and sleep, and how have those things evolved over time? You can just focus on one. You can share just any broad views, but just curious for your thoughts and some of your practices around health.

Marc Champagne (08:25):
I mean, the last 12 months have been probably the biggest shifts in health that I've ever had in my life. I'm happy to say it's because of questions essentially, just questioning whether what I'm doing... I'll share a specific example, the medication that I was on. Does this feel right? Is this really the right path? Asking those questions, and then linking up with the people that can help. In my case, straight out of university, I was put on these PPIs, these heartburn medications, and basically for over 15 years been on this medication, and not because of...

Marc Champagne (09:06):
My diet's not that out of control that I'm eating Popeye's chicken every night type thing, but it was to the point if I didn't take this pill every day, even just water or milk or something would fire up this reflux and chest pains as if I was having a heart attack. For literally over a decade, I moved a lot. That means we changed family physicians several times as well. Not one person ever said, "You know what, should we try to get you off these things? You're a pretty young guy. I mean, maybe it's not the right approach." until I finally started working with these two physicians out in Houston, Texas, two MDs that are anesthesiologists by training, thrive performance medicine it's called.

Marc Champagne (09:48):
They got into integrative medicine, because they were just tired of the bandaid solution to a lot of the healthcare that's out there right now, and started asking questions. Within six months of adjusting diet, really looking at gluten, really looking at processed carbs, and then some supplementation while I transitioned off those medications, zero symptoms, nothing. It is incredible, because it's shocking, and there are so many diseases out there, chronic disease that I really think are a reversible and preventable.

Marc Champagne (10:25):
I've seen it with working with those docs. But if we don't ask the questions and again, coming back to our longer form interview, we're on the autopilot, and just keep going, change doesn't happen. So anyway, I feel great because of that.

Daniel Scrivner (10:40):
I'm glad we live in a time where integrative medicine is starting to become more and more common. I mean, the number of people that I know that I've talked to about that, that have resolved similar things... I remember talking with someone last year who had found out just crazy stuff. He basically went to more of a holistic integrative doctor, and found out that he had yeast in his body and mold in his body. The mold came because he used to work in construction, and used to do demolition work, and just, one, the amazing stuff that gets in your body and can stay there, and then two, that all that stuff is reversible or fixable or improvable.

Daniel Scrivner (11:14):
It's just with the less easy stuff. You have to put in more effort with diet, exercise, and sleep, that then I said, "That becomes part of your habit."

Marc Champagne (11:21):
One last thing just on the health side, just because I feel like everyone in the world, if they have access to do this at least for one month, they should, is to pop on a continuous glucose monitor for at least a month, and just see how different. It was just eye opening to me to see the response in glucose for what I was eating, but the way I was eating in terms of combination, how exercise, how meditation, even just doing the 10-minute meditation would drop my glucose response to foods. I mean, it was eye opening, and I say everyone tried because we're all individual, whereas a banana could fire up my glucose and someone else that has the reverse effect.

Daniel Scrivner (12:00):
Levels, which we did an interview with, is an incredible company in that vein that I know we both have some experience with. On the idea side, what books and podcasts have had a striking impact on the way you think?

Marc Champagne (12:11):
For sure, Tim Ferriss's podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. That one, I mean, I'm always intrigued with the people that have come on, and the way he interviews people. Rich Roll is another one that is a legend in my mind in terms of his story and how he interviews people and the mix of people. A lot of the health questions have come up because of that show for me. Then books, I'd say probably the one that's influenced me the most from a mindset and mental fitness standpoint, and the one that I gravitate towards if I have any time to even just read one page, and know that the value of that time on one page is going to be top level, and it's Robin Sharma and his work, The 5AM Club.

Marc Champagne (12:52):
He talks a lot about that. I just got his new book. It's the Hero Manifesto. I can't see. The book's backwards right now.

Daniel Scrivner (13:00):
We'll find a link to it.

Marc Champagne (13:02):
It's good because the way he writes, they're very digestible chunks of knowledge and content that even if you read one paragraph, there's stuff in there that you can apply right now.

Daniel Scrivner (13:12):
That's amazing. Agreed on Tim Ferriss and Rich Roll. Rich Roll is something I discovered last year, and went down a little bit of that rabbit hole, and his style. It's so interesting to me too that the same guest can go on. For the best host, they can all talk to the same guest, and they all have very different equally awesome conversations. I feel like that's such an interesting skill.

Marc Champagne (13:33):
Another one that comes to mind actually, and this just happened last week, so Cal Fussman, his show. I think we talked about him because he's in the book, but here's a perfect example. I think anyone that's listened to any podcast in the last six to 12 months has probably heard Matthew McConaughey on a show, right? Sure enough, Cal Fussman, his latest episode drops, "It's Matthew McConaughey." Normally, I would just... You know what, I've already heard a few of those interviews. His stuff is awesome. His book is stunning as well, but it was Cal Fussman. I haven't heard a Cal Fussman interview yet.

Marc Champagne (14:07):
To your point, I put it on, and I left there feeling really, really jazzed up and learned some stuff. It's just... You're right. A good host can really bring it to their own essentially.

Daniel Scrivner (14:19):
Well, I'm going to download that as soon as we wrap this interview. On the tool side, what tools do you use? These can be things to manage your work, your tasks, your time, but just tools. These can be physical or digital, but just things that you use that you've grown attached to.

Marc Champagne (14:33):
Well ironically, we were talking about this before you hit record, but Notion. I basically set up a page. It's called a Life wiki. On the top of that page, I have my objectives. I have some affirmations in terms of the way... I want to prime my mind in the morning, so I literally read that one little section every single morning. Then right under there, I have pages within that, that main wiki that are related to either my podcast, the book, the work, and it's just quick references.

Marc Champagne (15:03):
I live right in there, and then I organize essentially my top three items for the day right there, and check them off. Everything is in one spot. It's organized works for me.

Daniel Scrivner (15:14):
It's amazing that it's all in one tool. That's a unique answer, but it is amazing. I mean, if you're interested, that is a fascinating rabbit hole to go down. We can try to find some resources, and link them in the show notes, but the number of people I've come across that have just done some insane landing page or webpage in Notion is there's some really cool examples.

Marc Champagne (15:33):
Like I said, I've been using it. Then I was on Mindvalley podcast last night. The host there, he's like, "You've got to see my Notion. I've got my whole podcast set up through here." He was screen sharing. The first thing I did this morning was... I have my podcast in there as well, but there's just so much you can do, that to your point, I think if you can find some templates of whatnot just to see what's possible, it's unbelievable. Because now, literally within 15, 20 minutes of just reorganizing that podcast page for me, I feel like I've just upped my organizational game and freed up an incredible amount of time in terms of the efficiencies from recording to post production, and stuff like that.

Daniel Scrivner (16:12):
Kudos to Notion for building a tool that can do that, because there aren't many tools that meet that bar of you put in 15 minutes, and you feel like a dramatic step function change just happened.

Marc Champagne (16:20):
Big time. Big time.

Daniel Scrivner (16:22):
I'm really excited to hear your answer to these next three questions. These are some of my favorites. The first is super simple. What is your definition of success?

Marc Champagne (16:30):
Oh, I love that. This has evolved over the years for me. What feels right as we speak now is success to me is waking up feeling happy, motivated, and excited for the day. I don't want to make it any more complicated than that. There are so many different things that can happen throughout the day and throughout your life and whatnot. But for me, at least if I can feel like that every day, probably means I'm doing the right type of things. The right type of people are in my life, so I'm going to stick with that.

Daniel Scrivner (17:03):
I think that's a great simple litmus test. This one, I might know what your answer's going to be. I'll be curious. We ask this question to every guest. This is one of my all time favorite questions, and it's just what is one of your favorite failures? What we're trying to get at is something that didn't work. Typically, obviously when something doesn't go the way that we think it will, it's a failure, but what I love about this question is it's... I'm trying to uncover what's something valuable that you took away from that experience, and how that maybe propel you in a better direction.

Marc Champagne (17:32):
You're probably going to guess what I'm going to say. I mean, no doubt, the biggest and my favorite failure is creating an app that reached 86 million people than having to delete that business, an app from the store. The most pain, obviously, the most amount of development, self-development and growth, but the perfect example in this situation, I've already mentioned it. I mean, I am pumped to be behind the camera here with you, and energized and having these conversations. That's all because of that scenario.

Daniel Scrivner (18:04):
You've had a particularly interesting example there, where I can't think of anyone that's had that same. That's not a failure. That happens to many people.

Marc Champagne (18:12):
No, it's not that big of a failure.

Daniel Scrivner (18:12):
No. It's notable. Then the last question is just about gratitude. The question is what are you most grateful for in this phase of your life?

Marc Champagne (18:20):
Oh, just to have an incredible support system and people around me that throughout what we just talked about essentially were there 100% the whole way. I think of the acknowledgements in my book. I've reread those a few times. Those are the people that were there, and they have been there for a decade plus, and includes my family and everyone, but it's that close circle. My five-year-old too, and I've got another one on the way, but my five-year-old, there's a dedication in there to him that I hope once he's old enough, and his mind is ready to consume the type of work in that book that he knows that man, he had such influence in the words in that book.

Marc Champagne (19:02):
You know this with your kids, right? I mean, they just... They're so optimistic. They're not jaded with-

Daniel Scrivner (19:07):
They're amazing little humans, right?

Marc Champagne (19:09):
It's stunning. It's inspiring to me to see kids grow and just have such fresh perspective. Surround yourself with awesome kids. Surround yourself with good friends, good coworkers, family, and the rest takes care of itself.

Daniel Scrivner (19:24):
It's a good way to meet that litmus test of being excited to get up in the morning every single day.

Marc Champagne (19:30):

Daniel Scrivner (19:30):
Well, thank you so much, Marc. This has been wonderful to be able to connect with you. I love getting to chat in the two conversations we've had, so I just really appreciate the time.

Marc Champagne (19:37):
Oh, right back at you.

Daniel Scrivner (19:39):
For more from Marc, listen to our long-form conversation all about his new book, Personal Socrates, and the power of reflection in episode 48. You can find the show notes and transcript for that episode as well as this one at At our website, you can also find more incredible interviews with guests like Scott Belsky, Kevin Kelly, and the founders of Titan, Rally, Superhuman, and Primal Kitchen. Thank you so much for listening. I'll see you right here next week on Outlier Academy.