Stop saying umm



As you know, my new years resolution is to drastically reduce the amount of “filler” words I use during the podcast. “um,” “like,” “uh,” “right” etc. So as per usual, instead of getting out there and practicing , I delved into some research to figure out both why we say Um/uh etc, and if there are any strategies to fix it. And I thought to myself, ‘a good guy to know is really well spoken and can talk in a professional setting without sounding unsure of him or herself.’

After trolling a few public speaking blogs and seeing the same old wisdom; “imagine the audience naked to feel less anxious”, I finally stumbled across one of the good guys to know’s favorite blogs – the Art of Manliness. They basically did the work for me, compiled some studies on WHY we use filler words, as well as some the perceptions others have of you when you use them. (teaser – the latter might surprise you) Finally will end with a few tips/strategies you can implement.

As always, I’ll interject my thoughts along the way and clue you into my thought process on how I plan to tackle some of my speaking weaknesses – but it will pretty much be me stepping through this great blog post so please check it out and have a play around with their site.

The authors open up by pointing out that Ums and Uhs are just one factor when it comes to being well spoken. The rest of the checklist, if your interested – goes like this. You can follow along and kind of mentally check off which ones of these you possess and which you might want to focus in on a bit:

  • Creating well-formed sentences
  • Being articulate
  • Having a large and diverse vocabulary
  • Speaking clearly (not mumbling)
  • Having a good pace, tone, and intonation (not too loud, fast, or monotone)
  • Being fluent – words come easy
  • Being able to explain things
  • Being straightforward and meaning what you say
  • Being thoughtful and courteous to the needs of the listener
  • Using little filler and empty language

So on to the UMS! – The next thing that the article points out is that even though public speaking experts and professional speech givers say you should completely strike filler words from your speaking, almost everyone uses what are called “filled pauses.” It’s a super natural part of human speech and when you’re having a conversation with someone, as long as they aren’t super excessive, both the listener’s brain and the speaker’s brain filter them out pretty easily and you don’t really notice them.

It’s also pretty universal across cultures, though the words may change. We have a really good friend Mike, who has lived in Chile for the past several years and has since become fluent in Spanish. Instead of saying “Um” a lot, he says “Eh” and “Ehmmm.”

Now just because it’s natural to have these filled pauses, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about them. Their appropriateness depends on the situation. i.e. your audience and your purpose. Research has found that how sensitive a listener is to these filler words depend on the speakers social role. People expect someone like the president that is giving prepared remarks to use hardly any of this filler. THIS is why I still DEFINITELY need to worry about them, because I’m the host of a Podcast. A broadcast that is almost nothing more than us talking to the listener.

So let’s delve into WHY we use these filler words. Honestly we don’t 100% know because they can mean a lot of things. Here are a few that were researched that the Art of Manliness article lays out and you can start to psychoanalyze me and tell me why you think I say them a lot:

  • They indicate that the speaker is in trouble: The speaker either consciously or subconsciously needs a moment to plan what he’s going to say next. “uh” signals a shorter delay, and “um” lets the listener know the delay might be a little longer. This happens when you’re trying to think and speak at the same time. (I think this probably happens to me a fair amount when I start to go “off script” and react to something one of the other host says about what I’ve just said)


  • Ums and Ahs act as placeholder to let people know you’re going to continue speaking. When you do need that moment, it lets everyone else know you’re not finished and are still in control. Researchers have theorized that this could explain why men use filler words more than women, because they are more worried about holding the floor as they speak. I think this one DEFINITELY happens while podcasting. Since we aren’t sitting around the table from each other, we don’t get ANY non-verbal cues on when someone else should hop in – and we also know that dead silence on air when broadcasting can be VERY distracting. So this one is probably a very legitimate use of Uhs and Ums in podcasting.


  • They indicate we aren’t that confident about what we are going to say.


  • They indicate that you’re searching for the right word.


  • They are more common when speaking about an abstract topic. The research here was kind of cool and found that in the classroom, humanities professors say Uh way more than professors of the ‘hard sciences.’ 4.76 times per hundred words versus 1.47 times. On the podcast, this can come up from time to time, but I think we usually are talking about something pretty concrete.


So now we know WHY we use these filler words, so next step is how to stop them. Even though it might not be desirable to totally eliminate these fillers from your speech, at least in my case, I think it’s very distracting to the listeners for me to leave them in as I think I lose credibility with them.

  1. Limit distractions and focus on speaking – Anything that adds to your cognitive load when you’re trying to speak has the potential to pull you off track and make you use fillers while you’re thinking about other stuff. The practical takeaway for me on this one is that I’m going to try and not look at my computer screens during my pillars anymore. Perhaps even turning them off, or at least physically turning away from them. Then I can’t see the other host’s ugly mugs, see when Geo loses internet connection, or have to wake up my screen when the screensaver comes on.


  1. Don’t put your hands in your pockets – I thought this one was lame at first, even though there was a study that accompanied it, because I couldn’t think of any time when I shoved my hands in my pockets during a broadcast. But what I HAVE done, is just have them at my sides or on my mouse scrolling through my notes. And the study postulated that when our hands are in our pockets (or in my case, doing something else not related to speaking) since you can’t use your hands to gesture, you’re forced to use more fillers. I’m going to try and use my hands just as I would if I was standing at a podium while I’m doing my podcasting from now on.


  1. Prepare rigorously and concentrate on transitions. This is one that is probably pretty obvious but I’m actually not sure a great way to do this. Was looking to you guys on how you prepare for your pillars and how you podcast for some tips.


  1. Keep your sentences simple and short. I actually don’t think I do a really poor job of this one, because we do keep our pillars pretty natural. Even though I write the whole thing out, I don’t read it word for word, so the changes that I have a really long complex sentence are low.


Before I conclude, there was two more really cool tidbit from this article, and it has to do with what NOT to do as you try to eliminate fillers from your speech. Conventional wisdom on public speaking says that just a silent pause is always better than an Ah or Um. This was a really cool study (the only one I read – but all the ones alluded to in this article are available at where they took a broadcaster that said um a lot and recorded a segment of his show. They played this version for students, as well as a version where the ums had been replaced by silence, as well as one where they totally edited the ums out and the words just flowed.

They found that in terms of perceived “eloquence,” while the smooth version won hands down, the other two (ums and silent pauses) were exactly the same. And on the other thing they measured – how anxious the speaker sounded – the version with the pauses was actually rated as seeming more anxious than the Ums.

So there you have it – more than you ever wanted to know about Ums. Turns out that there are some good reasons we as humans use it in language and we shouldn’t necessarily be on a crusade to totally get rid of them in all circumstances. I’m still not off the hook, however, because I’m a podcaster – speech is our lifeblood of the podcast and if I distract or turn off listeners because of all my fillers, you guys will kick me out.

Which brings me to my last caveat – in a variation of that same study, one group of students was told to ONLY listen to the content of what the guy was talking about instead of focusing on the ‘style’ of his speech. On the recording with the Ums, the group that was told to focus on content didn’t notice the ums and filtered them out. The author of that study concluded “Ums will not be associated with poor speech, but NOTING ums will be… just about every speaker produces ums, but the good speekers, by keeping substance, not style, the center of attention, will effectively hide their hesitancies”.

So I guess ultimately, even if I can’t eliminate some of my filler words from podcasts where I have the main pillar, at least if I can talk about something engaging, listeners will tend to filter them out and not run away from goodguystoknow!

Year in review podcast!


2015-1Hey everybody!  Well, another year is in the books.  This episode we break down all the awesome stuff we did in 2014 on the Good Guys To Know Podcast.  Find out who had the most challenge points.  Hear how we did on our year long challenges.  Hear our NEW year long challenges.  So much content, just the right amount of time.

As always, thank you for listening!

Oil Prices


images-3Happy new year everybody!  I hope you all have a long drive ahead of you in the near future, because gas prices are crazy low.  It’s all over the news and I can’t go 10 feet without overhearing someone talking about how awesome it is.  I decided to take a look into WHY the prices are so low at the moment, and maybe find out how long things could stay this way.  I came across a lot of great information, and did my best to refine it all into one pillar (see what I did there?).


Hope you enjoy, thanks for listening!!

Guide to the Casino


I can confidently say that all of the Good Guys have made more than few trips to the casino. Whether those trips proved lucrative is up for debate. But what those experiences have taught us is that there are a number of tips that can help make your first (or 50th) trip to the casino more fun.

According to the American Gaming Association, 27% of Americans visit a casino at least once per year. According to GGTK, 100% of good guys visit a casino at least once per year. We think there are two main things that you should remember when you go to the casino: 1. Casinos are supposed to be fun. If you aren’t having fun, it is probably time to leave the casino. 2. Casinos exist to make money. In 2013, Nevada casinos pocketed $23 billion in total gaming and non-gaming revenue, with statewide gaming revenue alone topping $10 billion. That means YOU have a very good chance of losing money when you visit the casino. However, there are definitely games that offer the average gambler better odds against an already stacked deck. Without further ado, let us present the GGTK Guides to the Casino!



The odds of blackjack are some of the best in the entire casino. Players who follow some basic strategy can reduce the house odds to 0.5%. The purpose of blackjack is to have the value of your cards add up to a greater number than the dealers without going over 21. Cards numbered 2-9 are worth their face value. Aces are worth either 1 or 11 (your choice) 10, J, Q and K are each worth 10. Before each hand starts, each player must place a bet. Then each player is dealt two cards face up. The dealer is dealt one card face up and one card face down. At that point each player has 2 basic plays. Ask for more cards (hit), or decided to not take any more cards (stay). Any player who goes over 21 automatically loses. After each player has finished taking cards, the dealer then shows his second card. Typically, the dealer is required to hit if they have 16 or less. Blackjack is when a player is dealt an ace and a card worth 10 (10, J, Q or K), which equals 21. At that point the player automatically wins and is paid out 3 to 2.



Baccarat is a card game that is most often available in high stake settings at a casino. In this game, a player has no responsibility in terms of electing to draw more cards. All you have to do is make one bet before cards are dealt. When you sit down at a baccarat table, you have three options: 1. Bet on the player 2. Bet on the banker 3. Bet on a tie.

It is important to remember that betting on the banker does not mean that you are betting with the house. It simply means that you are betting on one of the two hands that are being dealt. After each player places their bets, two cards are dealt face up to each of the two hands (the player and the banker). Each card has a specific value. Aces are worth 1; tens and face cards are worth 0; and all other cards are worth their face value.

The purpose of baccarat is to bet on the hand that gets closest to 9 points. If the cards add up to more than 10, the value of the hand is equal to the second digit. For example, if a player is dealt a 9 and a 3 (total of 12), their hands total is 2. A natural win occurs when the hand that you bet on equals 8 or 9 with the first two cards dealt. If either hand has a natural win, that hand is paid out and a new hand is dealt.  If neither the banker nor the player has a natural win, a third card MAY be dealt. The player hand always gets dealt to first. The player hand is required to stay on 6 or 7. If the player hand totals any other number (0-5), a third and final card is dealt.

This is where things get complicated. If a player stays with their 2 card total, the banker draws if they have 0-5, and the banker stays if they have 6-7. ALL OTHER HANDS RELY ON THE THIRD CARD THAT IS DEALT TO THE PLAYER.  Here are the possible options:

◦If the Player’s third card is 9, 10, face-card or Ace, the Banker draws when he has a 0-3, and stays with a 4-7.

◦If the Player’s third card is 8, the Banker draws when he has a 0-2, and stays with a 3-7.

◦If the Player’s third card is 6 or 7, the Banker draws when he has a 0-6, and stays with a 7.

◦If the Player’s third card is 4 or 5, the Banker draws when he has a 0-5, and stays with a 6-7.

◦If the Player’s third card is 2 or 3, the Banker draws when he has a 0-4, and stays with a 5-7.

In the event of a tie, there are no losers. You would only win if you were crazy enough to bet on the tie. The tie usually pays out 8:1 odds. Also, anytime you bet on the banker and win, you have to pay a commission to the banker (usually 5% of your bet). The reason for this commission is while the odds between the two hands are very close, the banker hand has a slight advantage. Overall, baccarat is another game where the casino does not have a significant statistical advantage over the gambler.



Craps is an incredibly exciting casino game for a number of reasons. One is that it is one of the fastest moving casino games. Blackjack tables average around 60 hands per hour. In craps, there are usually over 100 plays per hour. Also, craps has some of the best odds in the casino (nearly even odds for players betting on the come and the followup free odds bet). Finally, people playing craps are usually either winning or losing together which leads to loud reactions to just about every roll.

Craps is a dice game. At the beginning of the game one player is chosen to roll for the entire table. The roller is responsible for all rolls until the roller “craps out”. Craping out is a basically a losing roll. Betting starts with the Come Out roll, which is the first roll. Before the Come Out roll is the time to place your first bet on the Pass Line. This is a small box that wraps basically all the way around the table. After this first bet is out, the first roll is made. If it is a 7 or 11, everyone who bet on the Pass line wins! If the first roll is a 2, 3, or 12, that is craps, and everyone who bet on the Pass Line loses. Any other number which is rolled on the Come Out is set as The Point. After The Point is set, the roller keeps rolling and anytime The Point number is rolled again, anyone who still has a bet on the Pass Line wins again. However, after a point is set, anytime a 7 is rolled, bets that are on the Pass Line lose. At this point, when the roller “sevens out,” the dice are passed to the next player and betting starts over.

One of the more intimidating aspects of craps is that playing usually requires putting a more significant amount of money at risk. Typical tables have $5 minimums and in order to take full advantage of the odds, you should have at least $100 ready to play. Rarely would you get all of this money in play at once, and in most cases $100 may be enough to play for a whole night!

For more detailed rules of craps please visit:




Slot Machines:

Some people are quick to point out that slot machines are heavily weighted in favor of the casino. They would be exactly correct. Typical slot machines hold about a 10% edge over the bettor. Another bad thing about slot machines is that they are completely random. They literally use random number generators to decide what shapes are going to show up on your spin. If you are planning to win money playing slots, you better be the luckiest guy you know. If you are going to the casino to make money, slots are not the answer. However, if you are going to the casino to have fun, an argument can be made for the slot machines. Slots come in all different shapes and sizes. You can play slot machines themed after your favorite TV shows (Survivor, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones) and most importantly you can bet anywhere from 1 cent to multiple dollars with each pull. Remember that on slot machines, each wager is per line. Most machines have the options of playing multiple lines at a time which can make your money disappear very quickly. All that said, some of your greatest casino moments may come after a slot machines light up so that everyone around you can see how lucky you are.



Polar Vortex




Most of the US is dealing with frigid temperatures, and everyone’s blaming the polar vortex. Educate yourself about the omega block, which is the true culprit!  See which Good Guy can accurately describe how soap works, check in on the apple-a-day challenge, find out why is a terrible home page, get Geo’s latest fashion advice, and see if Chad can end his bamboozle slump.  All this and more in this week’s episode!

Babies in the 21st century


So we’ve had a few listener rumblings about what a good guy to know should know about babies – and we are starting to have some first-hand experience. My first kid is 2 months old now – Chad’s is almost one month – and Perek’s got one on the way.  So I would by no means call us experts, but we’ll struggle through it.

So as I was trying to think of how to structure the content for this pillar. Especially because one of the things I’ve found with both pregnancy and kids, is that there is a mountain of information. We got no less than 10 baby books while Val was pregnant, and when we have a problem now, googling also give you WAY too much information. So I’ve decided on a few topics that interested me about child-rearing that weren’t really in any of the books I read, and by extension, are things that I never really thought about until they were upon us. This is stuff that our parents maybe didn’t have to think about when they were raising us 3 decades ago.  So I found two of these that we’ll see how they go, and then with the remaining time, I’ve got some random tips/observations too that I can rattle off rapid-fire.

So – one of the first things that I suppose I kind of saw coming, but is also kind of a rabbit-hole when it comes to child-rearing is screen time. Here’s a good story from NPR on the topic. I want us to think back to when we were kids. We certainly had TV back then, but we probably had 1 screen our house so it wasn’t really a ‘tool’ that our parents had at their disposal. Eventually by the time I graduated high school, we were up to 3 TVs, and a computer. I just counted the screens in my house right now and came up with 2 TVs, 4 computers, 2 smart phones, and 2 Ipads.

This is something that hasn’t really been heavily studied because it’s so new, so I honestly couldn’t find any great definitive studies on what this much exposure does to kids/babies – but I would direct you to  great article from a guy called Ben Popper of “The Verge” entitled “Is Technology Scrambling my Baby’s Brain?” It gives a pretty balanced approach and does link to some studies. A few great points that the makes:

  • Every new technology has been demonized and said that it’s going to harm our children. For instance, in 1835 – an educational society said that “The perpetual reading” of novels “inevitably operates to exclude thought, and in the youthful mind to stint the opening mental faculties, by favoring unequal development. No one can have time for reflection, who reads at this rapid rate”
  • There is a huge difference between Passive and Active consumption of all of our new ‘screen’ technology. Again, the studies are few and small, but there was one where a professor taught two groups of children new words. One just watched a video, and the other had to touch a screen to produce an outcome. The interactive kids did better.
    • As a side bar to this, I feel like this is how we (the good guys to know) used to watch TV when we lived together. We were constantly critiquing commercials, calling out bad writing in sit-coms, and trying to crack jokes. I would call this active TV watching, and it was probably not as bad as just sitting  and vegging out.

So Popper lands on the fact that we need a balanced approach. I think a lot of people (myself included) feel a little queasy when we hear stories about kids that cant talk but can open candy crush on their mom’s ipad – but I think that goes in the active category that common sense says we shouldn’t worry too much about as long as we are “sharing” the experience with the kid. But plopping them in front of the TV for a sponge-bob marathon is probably not the greatest idea.


The second thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is social media. Namely facebook – and how much, if any, and who, should be posting pictures on facebook of babies/kids. This gets really touchy and as you can imagine, there are two really entrenched camps.  So before we get into it, let’s do some statistics. So in a study by Microsoft Research, found that 62% of mom’s with kids under the age of 3 use facebook. Of those, 96% have posted pictures of their children online! So it’s ubiquitous. And Chad will back me up – that it’s easy to see why – babies are fricken cute, we are proud of our progeny and want to share it with our friends.

So nothing really seems inherently wrong with this. And we were proceeding just fine. We knew we didn’t want to bombard facebook with constant photos, but didn’t really think twice about the few that we have posted. That all changed the moment that one of my wife’s friends posted something of him. Something just felt weird and wrong about it as I saw other people who weren’t friends with me commenting on it. So this sent me down another rabbit hole of “should I post pictures of my kids on facebook” articles. I found this one that I think does a good job of talking through the three most commonly cited ‘risks’ to posting pictures of your children online, and I’d love to get your guys thoughts on these:

  • Creep-os find pictures of your kid and download them and do bad things. This one they pretty much dismiss as being pretty alarmist. Crime against children research center told the new York times that predators don’t usually find their victims online (sadly).
  • Someone steals your kid’s identity. I didn’t even realize this, but one of the first things you do when you “announce” your kid on facebook is to give people their full name, and date of birth. So there’s a slight chance that identity thieves might use all of this to figure out their social security number, or open a credit card in their name or something. While that’s rare, the more insidious one here I think, is that your child may get passed off as someone else’s.
    • Mitch’s addendum to this – I don’t want someone seeing some super cute or funny picture of my kid and turning it into a meme or a video turning into a GIF. What if this was your kid? Or one of these.
    • Do some privacy settings help with this? Maybe if they are yours, but maybe not others.
  • The most thought provoking one – When your kid grows up, he’s going to inherit an entire digital history that he never made or wanted. Should I be creating a permanent identity for my kid online? Who knows what is going to be searchable editable by then? This is something that wasn’t even close to being the case 15 years ago.

My 2 cents is that there are way better ways to share photos with your friends and family. We use google+ and photostream ourselves, but there are a million other ones. Sure you could also cull your facebook friends to ONLY the people you want to share with, but I don’t think that a lot of us really want to do this. The voyeur in me still wants to be able to check up on ex-girlfriends, see who from high school is doing well/poorly, etc. So why even mess with doing anything on facebook, especially when you are creating an identity for someone who doesn’t have a say. What do you guys think?

Finally – some rapid-fire advice on my first 2 months of fatherhood and technology:

  • When you are researching a topic online, like sleep strategies – read all the articles you want, but NEVER read the comments. Kind of like the real world, people LOVE giving advice and telling everyone else how they are wrong. Case and point, just google “Cry it out” and read the comments on the first few articles. It will make you feel horrible.
  • Breast-feeding app. My wife is breast-feeding, and even though it’s more automatic now, the first few weeks there is kind of an obsession with how many times they get fed, how long they fed for, how many diapers they had etc. This is a perfect thing to use an app for. There is an added bonus here in that you as the dad can feel like you’re doing something by entering the data.
  • White noise app + Bluetooth speaker – I’ll fully admit, we are having trouble getting our dude to sleep in his crib. My wife suggested we buy a white noise machine – but we already have everything we need with a phone and wireless speaker. I think theoretically this is going to work very well.
  • You’re not going to need nearly as many clothes as you think. Not sure if this is really a tip or not, but our kid has a rotation of about 4 onesies. And we received approximately 400 of them at various showers etc.
  • Buy a decent camera and spend a bit o ftime learning to use it. Get familiar with the rapid-fire setting because volume is your friend. I’d say that about 95% of the pictures I take of my kid he either looks unhappy, or inhuman. But that other 5% he looks like a baby model. Those are the ones that make it to google+.




Did you participate in our last challenge to be conscious of how often and boldly you lie in your day to day life? I imagine a lot of listeners are wonderful people and never lie, but I still think it’s a fascinating topic. I recently read Lying by Sam Harris. It was a fast and interesting read, I recommend checking it out. This episode I’ll go over some of the main points from the book. Thanks for listening!



Why do we think that listeners want to hear about coffee? Well, to start with, just about everybody in the world drinks coffee, and a lot of it! Coffee is so heavily consumed that it’s total consumption in Europe and the U.S. is about 1/3 the consumption of WATER! Futhermore, around 7 million metric tons of coffee are produced each year and the average America spends just over $1000 dollars on coffee every year. So yeah, chances are you have tried and continue to drink it on a regular basis. At the same time, it’s hard to drum up a scintillating conversation about coffee. So have a listen to our latest podcast and learn some fun facts about the world’s favorite beverage. Plus, we interview a local coffee enthusiast and former barista about how to handle yourself at your local coffee house. Thanks for listening!coffee_guy_nw