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Contrarians

James O’Brien on the art of changing your mind, the value of listening and the importance of compassion

About This Episode

Following the release of the paperback edition of his latest book How Not To Be Wrong: The Art of Changing Your Mind, we welcome James O’Brien to this week’s Change Makers. Described as a ‘verbal bruiser’, ‘an insufferable dinner part guest’ and ‘the bloke in the pub who could never agree to disagree’ – by none other than himself – James is one of the UK’s leading broadcasters with over a million loyal listeners for his daily LBC talk show. But you’d be wrong if you thought this episode would contain the thoughts of someone who has made up his mind. As he says in his book: “There is no point in having a mind if you never change it.”

James O'Brien, Broadcaster & Author

James O’Brien is an award-winning writer and broadcaster whose journalism has appeared everywhere from the TLS to the Daily Mirror. His daily current affairs programme on LBC has over 1.2 million weekly listeners and his first book, How To Be Right, was a Sunday Times bestseller, which won the Parliamentary Book Award for Best Political Book by a non-politician. He is often to be found on Twitter trying not to get into arguments unless absolutely necessary. In his follow up, How Not To Be Wrong, James turns the mirror on himself to reveal what he has changed his mind about and why, and explores how examining and changing our own views is our new civic duty in a world of outrage, disagreement and echo chambers. He writes candidly about the stiff upper lip attitudes and toxic masculinity that coloured his childhood, and the therapy and personal growth that have led him question his assumptions and explore new perspectives. Laying open his personal views on everything from racial prejudice to emotional vulnerability, from fat-shaming to tattoos, he then delves into the real reasons – often irrational or unconscious – he holds them.

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Lockdown List

What is a book that has changed your life?

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

What are you watching at the moment?

Too Close

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

My Dad.

In one sentence, describe your ‘new normal’.

“Try not to see anyone else as players in the drama of your own life and remember that they are all the stars of their own stories.”

What is your best tip for life?

To thine own self be true.

A quote for life

“Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”

What is your lockdown soundtrack?

  • Esja by Hania Rani
  • It’s Quiet Up Town (Hamilton)
  • The Room Where It Happens (Hamilton)
  • No Body, No Crime by Taylor Swift (feat. Haim)
  • You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon

Find out more

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