The Minimalists’ First Podcast; Hip Diggs’ Response

Last week, The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn, and Ryan Nicodemus, started a podcast. Today, I’ll do a short review of their first podcast, including a response to their mention of Hip Diggs, children, and minimalism.

radio-590363_1920 Minimalists: photos of old radios

History In The Making

The Minimalists’ first podcast was okay. I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars. They responded to many questions and comments from their followers from nearly every social media known to humankind. Some of their comments and suggestions were helpful and insightful.

The podcast was also chock full of self-promotion. They mentioned their books, their blog, their YouTube channel, their Pinterest site, their charity work, their forthcoming movie, Minimalism, and much more. I find it admirable that they refused Google Ads on their site, but I question whether their constant use of self-advertising is much different. I understand this is a common trait among bloggers, but it can get old.

The delivery of their first podcast was low-key. Although I enjoy some of Joshua and Ryan’s ideas and advice, the podcast did not keep my attention. I’m a college speech instructor and a former radio announcer and I noted the delivery lacked energy. In fact, I turned it off after the first ten minutes. It was only when a Hip Diggs’ follower told me that I was mentioned later in the show that I listened to it in its entirety.

And Now For A Comment From Hip Diggs…

First, I know that I operate a blog and Facebook fan page called Hip Diggs, but if one simply takes the time to visit my about page, they would know that my name is actually, Dan Erickson. I’ve got to admit, Hip Diggs would be a pretty cool personal name, but here’s what it really means in regard to my blog:

Hip: Beyond all trends and conventional coolness.

Diggs: A home, place of residence, or place of business.

I appreciate that The Minimalists chose to mention me on their first podcast, but as my online mentor, Michael Hyatt, recommends, we should always clear up information and feedback from others about ourselves that might miss the mark. So here it goes…

Here’s What The Minimalists Said…

We posted an essay on Facebook. That essay was Minimalist Family: 12 Useful links. This gentlemen, his name is Hip Diggs, commented:

“I agree, but my 10-year-old daughter drives me crazy with her clutter.”

So what Mr. Diggs here is saying, is that, yes, you can be a minimalist family, but my daughter prevents me from being truly a minimalist. The only thing I would say, is tell that to Leo Babauta

He has six kids, and he’s sort of the ultimate minimalist. He puts Ryan and myself to shame when it comes to living a minimalist lifestyle. 

The quote that came to mind was from Epictetus:

“When you call your child, be prepared that she may not respond to you, or if she does, she might not do what you want her to do. Under these circumstances, it doesn’t help your child for you to become agitated. It should not be in her power to cause you any disturbance.”

Hip Diggs Response To The Minimalists…

  1. Please research a person’s name before quoting them: You guys actually list me as one of your favorite websites on your blog. I appreciate that and have returned the favor. However, if you’ve found value in my blog, you might think you’d at least know my name. I hope you’ll keep me as one of your favorite websites after reading this post. Oh, that’s right, you’ve never really read Hip Diggs.
  2. My comment on your Facebook post was meant to be humorous: Sometimes it feels like minimalists are too serious to perceive intended humor. I did note that you got a chuckle out of my comment in your podcast. That’s good. You’re welcome. But then you took it a step further.
  3. Please don’t project your words as mine: “So what Mr. Diggs here is saying, is that, yes, you can be a minimalist family, but my daughter prevents me from being truly a minimalist.” That is not what I’m saying. I’m saying my daughter is 10 years old and does not yet embrace minimalism. As for me being a minimalist, I don’t take anything to extremes, but I do practice minimalist strategies and I do make a point to live simply. That’s good enough for me.
  4. I already know Leo Babauta’s story: Again, if you’d ever taken a few minutes to read my blog, you’d see that I have plenty of references and links to Zen Habits. So, of course, I know the story of his six kids. However, I am not Leo. I would prefer to allow my daughter the freedom to make her own choices and to learn from her own experiences and mistakes. I will not force minimalism or any other philosophy or religion upon her. I will only guide her in being an honest and good human being.
  5. People without children should not criticize people with children: I loved the Epictetus quote. However, neither Joshua nor Ryan have children. In fact, Epictetus had no children of his own. I challenge you to find one parent who has never been disturbed by any of their children’s actions. Good luck with that. When you’re a single parent with a full-time job and your own child who’s not ready in time in the morning, see if you get disturbed. Then you can lecture me about how to respond to children.

The Last Word

I like The Minimalists. I think they’re promoting a good cause. I believe in living with less because I’m concerned with the Earth’s environment and our natural resources. I believe in simplicity because it leads to better health and emotional contentment. But I would urge The Minimalists to be a bit more careful in their comments about others. Keep up the good work and peace to you, Joshua and Ryan.

By the way, I lived in a 20-foot trailer in the middle of an apple orchard for many years, owning about 100 items, long before minimalism became a trend, and long before Joshua and Ryan had even graduated high school. Just saying…

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  1. Very well said Dan. I think you’ve remained quite composed too, btw. I know I’d be fuming, but that’s just me.

    We find podcasts or even “webinars” are a lot of self-promoting, so we tend not to watch/listen to them. We even did a podcast with someone and when it was released I listened for a minute and turned it off. I was bored with my own feature!

    1. I still like those guys, but I just think they should think more often before they speak. I was a combination of mad and amused. I’m sure they didn’t mean any insult, and even if they did, I have pretty thick skin.

      By the way, the whole self promotion thing is something I really dislike about this thing we call blogging. Like everybody, I do a little, but think we should also practice moderation in that regard.

  2. Love your articles and admire that you let your daughter make her own choices about living simply or not. I unfriended the minimalist quite some time ago because I felt their main goal was to promote themselves. I started getting the feeling they were just promoting this life style as a new high paying job. They were my first introduction to minimalism, but also just got tired of the self promotion. Keep up the good work and the open mind. We are all different and all have different views of what minimalism or the simple life is to us.

    1. Thank you, Rene. I’ll still keep The Minimalists on my “liked” list, but I think you have hit the nail on the head. They left one corporate world to start their own. I do still respect the fact that they are supporting a message of living with less.

      1. Exactly! A good friend of mine said this just last week. I listen to their podcasts and think they present a great “intro” into the idea of minimalism but I also believe they are a bit removed from what I call “real people in a real world”. Lots of shades to that, I know. Maybe I’ve just been living this for so long I tend to be a skeptic about people jumping on a bandwagon before really understanding the process or really embracing it.

        1. I just think they are better marketers than anything else. But if they live it and teach it, can’t be too critical.

  3. Personally, I stopped following/reading The Minimalists about a year ago. In my opinion they seemed to have traded their main focus of helping people for self promotion, using minimalism as a means to do that. Plus I find a lot of what Joshua says to be mean spirited, and often rude.

    They started me down the road of minimalism….and I thank them for that. But I want to invest my time and energy reading and sharing with people who truly want to help others. Not line their bank account, and minor celebrity status.

    1. I agree that Joshua can seem mean spirited. I’m not sure he really means to be or if he’s just not thinking before he speaks. At any rate, they have a large platform and have brought minimalism before a larger audience. I applaud them for that.

      One area where I think they lack is deeper thought. I feel as though they approach minimalism with something close to an all-or-nothing attitude. I don’t believe it’s that simple. There are many things we need to consider before jumping into a minimalist journey. For some, minimalism can be applied to some areas of their lives but not all areas of their lives. It can’t always be all or nothing.

      I also sense a sort of self-importance and image of absolute authority coming from them. I’ll keep following them for now, but I’ve been seeing more articles that make me question their motives.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Alan.

  4. You took that quite well, I’m not sure I would have. When I was first questioning Minimalism and if it was the right fit for me I came across the Minimalists site and enjoyed the early articles but soon grew bored and left. They and I have little in common as I have family and my home must reflect the diverse interests of all who visit and stay.

    As for how to deal with children and their stuff, it doesn’t matter what style you want to see reflected in your home your children are going through their own experimental phase and in my way of thinking they should be permitted to do so. One can always close the door to their rooms if it so offends. We don’t own our children, they are not an extension of our own personality. Children are young persons and should be treated with the same respect we would show an adult. Just my two cents.

    1. Thanks, Lois. We’re on the same page concerning children, and The Minimalists, for that matter. I think too many of the minimalist sites set specific rules and expectations for what minimalism has to be. That can make people feel inadequate if they don’t meet those expectations. I’d rather keep things more open ended and be welcoming to all. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. I feel like I owe a lot to The Minimalists. I discovered their site a few years back, and followed them on a handful of the social networks they operate on, and used a lot of their advice to free myself from debt, and simplify what was a needlessly complicated life.

    However, I thoroughly agree with everything you said in this article. I feel like Josh and Ryan have evolved into a brand that uses every method imaginable to sell themselves to me, and I’m getting very little back in return for my emotional investment in the pair.

    Unsubscribing from The Minimalists might actually be the essence of minimalism itself…

    1. I had to chuckle about unsubscribing being the essence of minimalism, Jon. Minimalism comes with so many paradoxes. Although I use the term, I’m always a bit uncomfortable with it because it creates rhetorical complications on many levels when applied to lifestyle choices.

      I do have some respect for The Minimalists. They have a large platform and have been able to introduce many people to simple living. I also think it’s great that they have created a documentary on the topic. I hope it comes to Netflix someday.

      Thanks for reading and commenting at Hip Diggs.

  6. I’ve just discovered your site Dan, so plenty of reading to do. Many blogs seem so self-promoting and as soon as I start to read an article and realise it is leading to promoting a ‘course’ etc I click off. In my world this is not what minimalism is about. I also have been a ‘minimalist’ for many years, though it took until 5 years ago to discover that my way of life had a name-I just did it, unlabelled. I have 2 boys, I encourage them not to overconsume but never force them, the older one gets it now, the younger doesn’t and likes to consume, that is his decision and me enforcing my views on him, I believe, will make him want more, not less. I have to confess I started reading the Minimalists when they first arrived on the scene, but switched off a while ago as I found them not relevant to my life, but we’re all different.

    1. I still see what The Minimalists are up to from time to time, but I find more self-promotion from them than I’m comfortable with. I hope to keep Hip Diggs a site focused on simple living without blatant self-promotion. If that means never making large profits from this endeavor, so be it. I’m glad you’re following along, LW.

  7. This—>”One area where I think they lack is deeper thought. I feel as though they approach minimalism with something close to an all-or-nothing attitude. I don’t believe it’s that simple. There are many things we need to consider before jumping into a minimalist journey. For some, minimalism can be applied to some areas of their lives but not all areas of their lives. It can’t always be all or nothing.”

    I totally agree with you! And like so many other commenters I learned about this from The Minimalists but no longer follow them as closely. That’s also the reason I don’t hang out with the local minimalist meetup group. They were too focused on minimalism being about spending less and for me it’s about so much more than that.
    I really enjoyed your response and your take on the topic and will continue to read your posts. Oh, and very nice blog design, too. 🙂

    1. Ana, I agree that there seems to be an all-or-nothing attitude from The Minimalists. To their defense, they also occasionally post that minimalism is different for everyone. I get the same sense of all-or-nothing from many of the high-traffic minimalist sites. I think I know why: It’s simple human psychology.

      I see minimalism as a diet. People want a quick fix. They want to lose 100 pounds in three months. Or they want to clear 20 years of clutter in a few weeks. Extreme black-and-white terms allow people to believe this is possible. And although it is possible, the average person will not succeed because they are trying to reverse something that took years to develop. Still, they are attracted to the “fad diet.” To me minimalism is more like the fad diet and simple living the long term healthy lifestyle. The second takes more work and commitment. People don’t want to hear that something takes work and commitment. They want an easy fix. Minimalist black-and-white thinking gives them that hope. And therefore those sites become more popular.

  8. I love this post. I have three children and a hoarder husband and am attempting to live a “minimalist lite” lifestyle. To me this isn’t just about possessions but about time. One of the first blogs I discovered was The Minimalists. However, they never really resonated with me as their philosophy doesn’t seem compatible to a stable, secure life with kids. Personally, their attempts to be “cool” grate on me a little. I love your blog Dan, and other blogs such as “Slow Your Home” and even “Becoming Minimalist” as they are more accepting of people taking things at their own pace. People want to cut out the clutter and noise for different reasons and to different extremes. For me, it means living in a home (1250 square foot, 5 people) where we use every inch of space but don’t feel cramped, working just enough hours (in jobs we enjoy) to lead a comfortable but not excessive lifestyle, and having time together as a family and to pursue hobbies, exercise or quiet time. Minimalism should not be prescriptive. It should be left to the individual to figure out what works for them. I really enjoy reading what works for other people though and through reading these blogs my work life balance and relationships with my family have steadily improved.

  9. I like the minimalists. They promote minimalism and add value to other peoples lives, as well as their own. When they self promote, it’s becuse no-one else is going to.

    They mentioned your blog in their podcast; I would consider that something to be thankful for. Perhaps emailing them directly with your disagreements would have been more useful.

    Peace, Gail

    1. Hi Gail: I like The Minimalists, too as I clearly suggest in this post. Civil people can point out disagreement without disliking others. By the way, I have emailed them, both before and after the podcast, and have never received replies.

  10. Hi Dan! I arrived here after reading one of your posts on No Sidebar today. I think one of the struggles with some minimalist blogs (especially those with huge audiences like The Minimalists) is that at its core, balanced and reasonable minimalism is not a very good business model to keep people engaged with a brand. You’d read a few posts, get the gist, and then move on with living your life with your new knowledge. In reality, the only fun, distracting, active, juicy part for me (and I’m guessing for many others) is the part where you say “NO MORE! I will live the remainder of my life with only TWO forks!” and then simplify, declutter and feel cleansed….but THEN WHAT? Then comes the less fun task of figuring out what to fill all that space with.

    Sure, it sounds very nice to say that you’ll immediately be able to spend more time with family, take quiet walks, focus on other projects, etc., etc. But for many of us, the excessive things and crammed schedules we held so close were actually a buffer from dealing with unresolved or ambivalent feelings about those very things we now HAVE TIME FOR. It can be daunting to finally get what you thought you always wanted and still be yourself 🙂 I sometimes find myself letting messes and unnecessary possessions build up so that I can feel the sweet high of declaring “enough is enough” and sorting and simplifying my life again. I doubt I am the only one.

    It’s very easy for minimalism to become a distraction from your feelings, a way to feel control, and sometimes a compulsion. It can be a cycle that is hard to break, and history shows that kind of cycle makes for a MUCH better business model (see also: self-help, weight loss, time management, basically any topic that lends itself to a free introductory e-book offer).

    If you are in this unhealthy cycle (as I have sometimes been) then I think the more a minimalism blog focuses on sweeping, generalized statements and rigid (and often unattainable) goals, the more primed you are to use them as a source for continuing this cycle, and that’s why they are so popular. If you are in a healthier, more balanced place in your views of minimalism (as I have also sometimes been), then you are more likely to unsubscribe when you start to feel like the content has become unrealistic and no longer applicable to your life. Under this model, blogs like The Minimalists will always have tons of people subscribing and tons of people unsubscribing (not unlike a program like Weight Watchers! I see a pattern here…).

    Well, this just turned into a much longer comment than I meant to leave, but I just wanted to say that I appreciated your post very much because it felt real and personal and relatable and, in my humble opinion, we don’t have enough of that these days. Keep it up!


    1. Yes, minimalism is like a fad diet in a lot of ways. We start only to backtrack. I search more for a healthy balance rather than all or nothing solutions. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jenna.

  11. When I was an La Leche League Leader, I often came across mothers/parents who were all for nursing…until they realized it was about parenting, not just feeding. When I started Home Education, parents were all for jumping on the bandwagon…until they realized it was about parenting, not just educating. When we originally chose a “minimalist” life style friends were gun-ho…until they realized it WAS a CHALLENGING life style, not just living about kicking back with a joint or beer. Josh and Ryan make a great introduction to making a change in your life but I’ve found myself turning to others (including you) for everyday inspiration.

  12. I have always enjoyed the Minimalists in addition to your blog as well. I became attracted to the idea after reading a few books in the late 90’s by authors Sue Bender and Elaine St. James. Also “Your Money or Your Life” and “Voluntary Simplicity”. The only problem is, as you say, many of these people did not have children. I am 68 years old and live with three other adults, a 7 year-old grandson, and two dogs. You can imagine how difficult it is when I am the only one among them who is into minimalism. All I can do is keep some of the main areas of the house simple. I have to ignore the bedrooms of my children and grandchildren. My husband has many “collections” that he refuses to part with. Does this drive me crazy? Absolutely! Being simple is not always simple. I commend you for letting your daughter have her own space as an individual. She will probably change as she matures. If we become rigid and inflexible that defeats the whole purpose of minimalism, which to me means to enjoy the really important things and let go of the rest. Thank you for your insightful words.

    1. Thanks, Lana. I agree that flexibility is part of the whole equation. There will always be chaos around us no matter how hard we try to control our surroundings. The key to being content and having peace is to be willing to accept that chaos even if we don’t enjoy it. I think Leo Babauta at Zen Habits also recognizes this.

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