Men's Journal

Damn Good Advice From the World’s Most Fascinating Men

 Illustration by Sean McCabe


In the last quarter century, we’ve had the opportunity to steal life advice from some of the greatest men of our generation. For our 25th anniversary, we collected our favorite bits from scientists, adventurers, actors, musicians, and fighters, in hopes of making ourselves better men — and making better men ourselves.

What’s the most cherished possession you’ve ever lost?

My son. I ain’t never lost nothing else that wasn’t replaceable. Willie Nelson
READ THE FULL WILLIE NELSON INTERVIEW.


What’s the best advice you ever received?

As a teenager, I’d get frustrated by people I thought were not smart, and my father told me, “Son, don’t ever get frustrated by stupid people. Being mad at stupidity is like being mad at grass — it’s everywhere. James Carville
READ THE FULL JAMES CARVILLE INTERVIEW. 

Everybody you ever meet knows something you don’t.” A cab driver told me that 30 years ago, and I’m reminded of it every single day. Bill Nye
READ THE FULL BILL NYE INTERVIEW.

What advice would you give the younger you?

Lighten the fuck up. Anthony Hopkins
READ THE FULL ANTHONY HOPKINS INTERVIEW.



How does a man know it’s time to walk away?

When he doesn’t have the same passion and commitment. After I became champion, I got civilized with the parties and the private planes, the buffets and the caviar. That guy should stay out of the ring.Sugar Ray Leonard
READ THE FULL SUGAR RAY LEONARD INTERVIEW.

What skill should every man have?
The ability to fix things. You’ve got a lot of insecure people these days because they can’t fix a drippy faucet. We’re getting weaker and weaker as a species. I think the bugs will take us over pretty soon. Yvon Chouinard
READ THE FULL YVON CHOUINARD INTERVIEW.

How should a man handle getting old?
Badly. There isn’t any other way. Break all the mirrors in the house. – Philip Levine 
READ THE FULL PHILIP LEVINE INTERVIEW.

When is it OK for a man to lie?

Just about anytime, if it makes life more interesting and you’re not hurting anyone.Michael Douglas 
READ THE FULL MICHAEL DOUGLAS INTERVIEW.


How does a man know when someone is bullshitting him?

Here’s the problem: When someone’s bullshitting you, they’re usually telling you something you want to hear, so you don’t want it to be bullshit, and so you haven’t turned on your bullshit detector. Which is why, when you can find people who are honest with you, you should stay close to them.Aaron Sorkin 
READ THE FULL AARON SORKIN INTERVIEW.

What should every man know about women?

They love to laugh. You can laugh more women into bed than you can seduce into it — just so long as they stop laughing when you’re in bed. Michael Caine
READ THE FULL MICHAEL CAINE INTERVIEW.

What’s the best cure for heartache?

There isn’t any cure for it. Just try like hell to behave yourself and have some class. Burt Reynolds 
READ THE FULL BURT REYNOLDS INTERVIEW.


What adventure changed your life?

I spent 65 years in Air Force cockpits and fought in four wars, but I never looked at it as an adventure. It’s duty. You could say that the most important thing I did was break the sound barrier. That’s the reason we’re on the moon. But it was my job to try. That’s the way I looked at it. Chuck Yeager 
READ THE FULL CHUCK YEAGER INTERVIEW.

Right after I resigned from the Army, in 1965, I flew helicopters for oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. I flew personnel from rig to rig, and I’d live on a platform out at sea. I had a lot of time to myself — no wine, women, or songs — so I’d sit in my helicopter and write. That’s where I wrote “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” A few years later when I was on the road and not writing so much, my publisher told me I ought to go back out to the oil platforms. I told him, “You go.” Kris Kristofferson 
READ THE FULL KRIS KRISTOFFERSON INTERVIEW.

What was it like to be the most feared man on the planet?

I realized that was something a little boy wanted. I was scared of society, so that’s why I wanted people to be afraid of me. I’m not afraid of society now; that’s why all I want is for people to respect me. That’s why I give people respect. Mike Tyson 
READ THE FULL MIKE TYSON INTERVIEW.

What should everyone understand about the political system?

Small-town democracy works better than people know. Big money is very important, but on issues that the voters speak out on, they will kick big money’s ass. Barney Frank
READ THE FULL BARNEY FRANK INTERVIEW.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Best? The best? I don’t know why we have to put things in boxes of superlatives. That isolates them. Life is fluid, and the minute you start trying to put a line around something, it will deceive you and go away. Somebody introduced that idea to me about six or seven years ago. And the more I thought about it, and the more I tried to live by it, the happier I got. Alan Arkin 
READ THE FULL ALAN ARKIN INTERVIEW.

What would you do with a time machine?

 Go to the cloning era, clone myself 20 times, and put myself in America as 20 different people. One Shaq would be a banker. One Shaq would be a sheriff. One Shaq would be a race car driver. One Shaq would be a prince. One Shaq would be Spanish. We’d all be here at the same time, and every once in a while I’d meet myself. Shaquille O’Neal
READ THE FULL SHAQUILLE O’NEAL INTERVIEW.

Trashing hotel rooms – is there a preferred method?

Two things: superglue and a chain saw. You can superglue a toilet seat down or glue stuff to the ceiling. You can superglue somebody in their room, and they’re there for at least a day. I had a chain saw for a while. You find if you have a chain saw, you really don’t need to use it very often – just walking up to the front desk holding it will usually get a lot done. One of the most terrifying things that ever happened to me was that Keith Moon decided he liked me. He taught me the finer arts of hotel damage. He took me to a hardware store and got some charcoal and lawn fertilizer. He’d mix them up, put them in a condom, and flush it down the toilet. It would go down two or three floors and blow somebody’s toilet out of the wall. At checkout time, it comes in handy when a record company is footing the bill. Joe Walsh
READ THE FULL JOE WALSH INTERVIEW.

How should a man handle regret? And what’s your biggest regret?

Regret is something you’ve got to just live with, you can’t drink it away. You can’t run away from it. You can’t trick yourself out of it. You’ve just got to own it. I’ve disappointed and hurt people in my life, and that’s just something I’m going to have to live with. If you made the basic decision that even in spite of your crimes, you are worth persevering, that it’s worth trying to get good things for yourself, even though you might not deserve them, then you eat that guilt and you live with it. And you own it. You own it for life. – Anthony Bourdain
READ THE FULL ANTHONY BOURDAIN INTERVIEW.

What skill should every man possess?

You’ve got to be able to sell yourself. – Don Rickles
READ THE FULL DON RICKLES INTERVIEW.

What advice would you give the younger you?

Pull that damned reserve cord earlier, idiot. – Bear Grylls
READ THE FULL BEAR GRYLLS INTERVIEW.