William B Helmreich

  • Episode: 5

William Helmreich has walked every block of New York City’s five boroughs to get a better understanding of the city and the 8 million people that call it home. He is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at City College. He has also written 16 books including, The Things They Say Behind your Back; Against All Odds: Holocaust Survivors and The Successful Lives they Made in America (Simon & Schuster), What Was I Thinking: The Dumb Things We Do and How to Avoid Them and The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in New York City.In addition to books and publications in scholarly journals, Professor Helmreich has written for the New York Times, Newsday, the Los Angeles Times and has also been a guest on Oprah Winfrey, The Larry King Show, CBS Morning News, CNN, ABC Nightline, and guest anchor on NBC TV News. William is larger than life character and has truly inspired me to be more disciplined and creative.


1. William talks about his most satisfying experience as a teacher.

2. Advice on finding your purpose in life.

3. 10 traits most successful people have.

4. He talks about his near-death experiences in life.

5. How can we learn to be more disciplined.

6. How he manages to be a full-time teacher while walking 30 miles a week and writing a book.

7. Why really smart people have a harder time making decisions in life.

8. How to deal with difficult people.

9. Why is it important to have high tolerance for not being satisfied

10. His definition of courage (this is my favorite)


[1:52] Why he started his project of walking 6,000 Miles in New York City

[5:00] How he deals with walker’s block

[7:20] William talks about time management and importance of being disciplined

[9:14] How to deal with  difficult situations

[13:15] He talks about his experience of almost being shot in head

[18:15] We talk about the skills/ abilities that are needed to walk in NYC.

[20:00] William talks about how he decides to choose different projects.

[21:56] We talk about different writing styles and what makes a good writer.

[22:40] William talks about why some immigrants succeed in America while some don’t.  

[23:00] William talks about 10 traits that successful people have

[26:26] His technique in getting through the New York times

[29:28] Why is it important to distance yourself from the situation to be more successful in life

[30:45] How to find your purpose in life

[31:50] why he thinks really smart people have harder time making a decision ‘

[34:04] William talks about accepting limitations  

[35:08] We talk about why it is important to have high tolerance for not being satisfied

[35:40] How one can come to a  conclusion as to what drives them

[37:26] His book recommendations

[39:55] His one advice to his 20-year-old self

[40:45] His definition of courage

[42:00] His most satisfying experience as a teacher

Books recommended By William:

1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

2. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer

3. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

4. The great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald

5. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

6. Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance

7. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

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William B Helmreich

by Limitless Grit Time to read: 11 min