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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Petty

APiD Ep. 045 | We All Leave in a Hearse

How to Live and How to Die, with ER Doc David Talbott

Check out the full transcript here.


Life and Death exist side-by-side every day in the ER. Veteran ER physician and life philosopher, David Talbott, has spent almost 30 years in those trenches.

In this episode, David shares what he's learned about how to live well, how to die well, and how to use Mortality to your advantage.

But it's not just his time in the ER that has taught David what he shares with us today. His personal life has had its fair share of heartache and tragedy, and David draws vulnerably from those experiences, too, as he exhorts us to make the most of our one-and-only lives.

MY exhortation to you? Tune in to the full episode, and don't let it go in one ear and out the other or simply entertain your curiosity about what it's like to do the work that David does. It's more than dramatic stories from the frontlines of medicine.

It's a study in the human condition--OUR condition--derived from one man's encounters with thousands of people staring Death in the face.

Someday, maybe even some day soon, YOU will stare death in the face. Paint yourself into these stories. Imagine that it's YOU approaching your final breath. Pull Mortality CLOSE and accept its inevitability. Let David's hard-won wisdom sink deep into your soul and show up in the way you live so that when it's your time to die, you can die courageously, graciously, and free of regrets.

Remembering Dennis Franks, My Guest on Episode 034

I pushed pause on the interview to bring listeners some sad news.

Dennis Franks, my guest on episode 034, died suddenly on Saturday, October 16, at the age of 68.

He leaves behind his wife, Nancy--who played a life-saving role in Dennis' life-changing encounter with Mortality many years ago--two grown daughters, and three grandkids.

I didn't know Dennis well, but the time I did spend with him for the podcast made it clear to me that he had a huge heart and a voracious appetite for life. He was laser-focused on making every day count and making his life matter. He loved his family deeply. And he served thousands in their pursuit of financial independence through his work at Market America--which he saw as more of a mission than a profession. And one thing's for certain: Dennis had a lot more living he wanted to do.

If you haven't tuned in to Dennis' episode, I hope you will. After you listen, take a minute to share what his Story meant to you on one of my social media posts created in his honor on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

Life is short, folks.

Memorable Quotes from David Talbott

  • I think that when you look at life, you can say why me, but the reality is, why not you?

  • The reality is from the day we're born, we're all a statistic waiting to happen. We just haven't been introduced to the lethal details.

  • Did you live, did you love, did you matter?

  • Too many of us focus on longevity and we forget the quality of our lives.

  • The quality of our life is predicated so much on what we focus on.

  • I think the most important conversations are the ones you have with yourself in the mirror every day.

  • There is no growth without friction.

  • So many times we as humans put ourselves in our own prison, and we're the only one with the key, and we don't even realize it.

  • That which is gained with little effort is esteemed of little value.

  • You can come to the ER in a Lamborghini or a taxi, but we all eventually leave in a hearse.

  • In life it's not so much when and how you die; it's how you live.

  • It's a courageous thing to allow somebody to die with dignity and grace.

  • Discipline is weighed in ounces, but regret in pounds

Making It Matter in Your Life Today

What will it take for you to take the reality of your Mortality even more seriously and let it begin to change your life today?

Don't let it take a crisis.

Instead, create a life-saving crisis within yourself today by courageously embracing the Mortality Mindset. Commit to it as a discipline. With practice, we can approximate the impact of a real encounter with Mortality by continually reminding ourselves of its inevitability and making day-to-day real-world decisions in light of it. As David said, "discipline is weighed in ounces, but regret is weighed in pounds."

Here's one simple exercise to get you started: Read at least 10 obituaries from various sources. Mix it up: read a few from the New York Times, a few from your local paper, and a few from small-town papers, too. What sticks out to you? How does it affect you to read about other people's deaths and the lives they lived? Next, write your own obituary as if you'd lived the best life you can imagine, a life you are immensely proud of. Then, begin to make adjustments in your life RIGHT NOW that will increase the likelihood that THAT obituary will become a reality.

This is your one and only life. Make it count.

Remember: you ARE going to die. But you’re not dead yet. So get after it!

Your Opinion Matters

If this show has been meaningful to you, please rate it and leave a review on your favorite podcast app. Your feedback encourages others to tune in to this life-affirming, world-changing message. Thank you!

Let’s Create Your Best Life Together

Connect with me to learn more about how a powerful, confidential 1-1 coaching partnership or participation in a Graveyard Group can help you live even more courageously and die regret-free.

Connect with David Talbott

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If You Liked This Episode, I Think You’ll Like These, Too

New to Andrew Petty is Dying?

If you're new to this show, visit to browse the archive of past interviews with fascinating people and short, topical solo episodes--all designed to equip you with the mindset and the means to become the person you were made to be and live the life you were made to live with guts, gusto, and abandon. We flip the script by inviting our ancient foe, Death, to become an unlikely ally in our heroic journey to leave it all out on the field of life. Turns out, Mortality might just be the most potent motivator available--blasting us out of our ambivalence and complacency and into the fullness of our potential.

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