Episode Notes

The holiday season is here which often brings fun, parties, stress, and a whole host of emotions. That’s why we are revisiting one of our favorite conversations with Annie Grace on some strategies we can use to rethink our relationship with alcohol.  

Links from the episode:

The Naked Mind by Annie Grace  

The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace  

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  • 5:17. What does it mean to have a problem?
  • 9:48. Busting myths about alcohol
  • 25:30. Best practices for drinkers in the room
  • 36:43. Changing the culture of networking



Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, a series of discussions with entrepreneurs and innovators about building a successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Lawyerist supports attorneys, building client-centered, and future-oriented small law firms through community, content, and coaching both online and through the Lawyerist Lab. And now from the team that brought you The Small Firm Roadmap and your podcast hosts 


Stephanie Everett (00:35): 

Hi, I’m Stephanie Everett. 


Zack Glaser (00:36): 

And I’m Zack. And this is episode 477 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today we’re replaying an episode on Staying Sober with Annie Grace. 


Stephanie Everett (00:48): 

Today’s podcast is brought to you by Posh Virtual ReceptionistsNetDocuments  & LawPay. We wouldn’t be able to do our show without their support, so stay tuned. We’ll tell you more about them later on. So Zach, this is a replay of this episode and maybe you could just share why we’re doing it. 


Zack Glaser (01:05): 

Yeah, so I think this episode is becoming kind of a tradition. I think it’s an important topic to talk about in general, but around the holidays, I think it’s good to talk about sobriety and just our relationship and people’s relationship with alcohol because there’s a lot of times this is a difficult time for people. So I like it as a good tradition for Lawyerist here. And this is a time for traditions. Traditions make us feel connected with the past. They make us feel comfortable. I know a lot of people have a lot of holiday traditions. I grew up in a large family or a large extended family, and we would go around the table at Thanksgiving and say what we were thankful for. And I think a lot of people do that, but we would go around individually and whether you were five or 85, you had to say something you were thankful for. And so in that spirit, I am thankful for this community. I’m thankful that I get to wake up and connect with empowered, intelligent attorneys running healthy law firms, and that I get to help facilitate that and affect that in whatever small or large way that I’m able to do. 


Stephanie Everett (02:20): 

I love that. I share that gratitude. I think our community’s amazing and our team, we brag about, I hope we brag about them enough, but I just feel so fortunate to get to come to work every day with you smart people and people who I think are just amazing at what they do and who challenge me and bring out the best in me and challenge me every day to up my game because I see what they’re bringing. 


Zack Glaser (02:46): 

Right? Well, I hope other people in our community kind of feel that way about their own teams, but I would love to hear what the listeners of this podcast are thankful for, I think specifically maybe in their business, but it can certainly be anything. And they can find us on any of our socials at, I hate to say Twitter, but X or whatever manifestation it’s in Instagram. LinkedIn is probably a fantastic way to find us, or just on our website. 


Stephanie Everett (03:14): 

So now here is actually Sam Glover’s conversation with Annie. 


Annie Grace (03:23): 

Hi, my name is Annie Grace. I am the author of This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment and really just want people to help look at alcohol mindfully more than anything else. Thanks for having me. 


Sam Glover (03:34): 

Welcome to the podcast, Annie. It’s kind of been an interesting experience getting you on the podcast. I had no idea who you were until about 30 days ago exactly when one of our community members, Jennifer Longton said, you have to have Annie Grace on your podcast. And I found your materials. I started my own alcohol experiment. I read This Naked Mind and now you’re a celebrity in my mind, and I’m thrilled to have you on the podcast. So welcome. That’s awesome. You have your own podcast called This Naked Mind too, right? 


Annie Grace (03:58): 

Yes. This Naked Mind podcast. 


Sam Glover (04:00): 

Very cool. After I learned who you were and started investigating and reading, your name kept popping up more and more and more, especially among people I know who’ve had their own struggles with alcohol. You’ve helped a lot of people. That must be a really humbling and amazing experience. 


Annie Grace (04:13): 

Yeah, it’s mind blowing and definitely like, okay, this is happening with or without me. I’m just glad to be able to play a part. Right. 


Sam Glover (04:20): 

Do you know how many people have signed up for the Alcohol experiment? It feels like thousands. Yes. Maybe tens of thousands. 


Annie Grace (04:26): 

No, we’ve crossed a hundred thousand just Wow. Yeah. 


Sam Glover (04:30): 

That’s really amazing. Well, good work. I guess you probably don’t need me to pat you on the back, but great work. 


Annie Grace (04:37): 

I appreciate it. 


Sam Glover (04:38): 

One of the things that drew me immediately to you was, I guess I don’t want to hate on those who are working at substance abuse from other angles, but the AA message has never resonated with me. But your message is more around it felt like it was more accepting of using alcohol as a spectrum. And if I feel like I need to take a break, then I probably do. And here’s a very convenient way to think about it. And then in the alcohol experiment, it was more of a scientific approach to changing my mind about things. But clearly you have engaged with that idea of what does it mean to have a problem? And you talk about this a lot in the book, and how should we be thinking about that if the idea has occurred to us, how do we think about whether or not we have a problem? 


Annie Grace (05:17): 

Yeah, it’s such a good question and I kind of want to address it in two different parts. And first of all, talking specifically about the paradigms that exist, and it’s funny because I didn’t get into this. I got into this with my own story and doing a lot of research and coming to some conclusions that were different than what I was seeing in the world and saying, Hey, this is really interesting. And one of those conclusions was really that we don’t use this all or nothing mentality with anything else. I mean, I can’t think of anything else where a hundred percent is success and 99.9% is shameful abject failure like it is if you have a drink after you’re sober, quote or if you’re in recovery. And not only do we not use it with anything else, it isn’t relevant to the majority of people. And so I started thinking like, well, what does it mean then to have a problem? Do you need to stop drinking forever? And the science says that most people don’t. That actually, according to the Center for Disease Control, 90% of people who excessively drink aren’t chemically addicted. They’re not clinically addicted. They don’t need sobriety as their solution. 


Sam Glover (06:21): 

I’m trying to remember from your book, but there is such a thing as chemical addiction where if you do have another sip at any point in your life, it will sort of wake your brain up to addiction again and you’ll be addicted all over again. But that isn’t the majority. 


Annie Grace (06:33): 

No, it’s not. It’s only 10% of excessive drinkers. So it’s a vast minority of people. And that really happens over time. Alcohol changes the brain to where you have fewer dopamine receptors and all that detail. And basically what happens is then, yeah, one drink after even 10 years of sobriety can get you right back into the pits of the pathways in the brain that we’re originally addicted. But most people, they just need a break. And sometimes even most- 


Sam Glover (06:57): 

People are on a spectrum, 


Annie Grace (06:58): 

A total spectrum. And actually the whole term alcoholic is not even recognized by the medical community anymore. It’s called alcohol use disorder. And interestingly, it’s 11 questions and it cuts to the heart of, do I have a problem? Two of those 11 questions are these, do I drink more than I need to get the same effect? And do I ever regret drinking, saying, oh man, I overdid it last night. And for me, in my profession, which is I was in the marketing advertising world, that was me and everybody I knew, but if I measured myself on that 11 question spectrum, answering yes to those two questions was really mild, but it wasn’t something I should necessarily ignore. 


Sam Glover (07:35): 

I mean, it kind of feels like if you think you might have a problem, then you probably have something that is worth doing something about. 


Annie Grace (07:41): 

Yeah. If you’re asking, and I like to frame it like this, I like to say the question, we know that our brains are almost like computers. They give us the answers to the questions we ask them. And if you’re asking a question, do I think I have a problem? The answer to that is either going to be yes or no, and it’s either going to be stressful or not stressful. And the yes answer is going to be stressful. So going to want, our brains are going to be biased to say no, and that’s just how it’s going to work. So I always like to say, well, what if we just asked a better question? Wouldn’t that be more fun? What if we just asked, would my life be a bit better, drinking less? Would I be more productive, drinking less? Would I be happier? Would I lose weight? Would I look better? How could it be? What if we asked that question? Because then the yes to that isn’t filled with anxiety. It’s like, huh, that’s interesting. Alright, maybe I’ll give it a try. 


Sam Glover (08:27): 

Yeah. I think your construction is a bit more of would you like to be drinking less and you don’t seem to be able to do that. If so, then maybe it’s worth addressing that. 


Annie Grace (08:36): 

Yeah, absolutely. And just even moving further and further back from the, if it is a spectrum and you imagine it on the spectrum and the end of the spectrum is kind of this rock bottom, your life becomes unmanageable. You have to go and either get treatment or whatever the case is, how far back can we move this conversation? I mean, my goal really is to make alcohol. Our conversations around alcohol, they should be a wellness conversation rather than an addiction conversation. Because again, the reality is most people are not addicted. 


Sam Glover (09:09): 

The approach you take in this naked mind, which I’ve read and I haven’t read the alcohol experince, but the approach you take in there is the book is a process in and of itself where you’re trying to reprogram the reader’s unconscious by talking to their conscious mind about alcohol. And I found that to be really powerful. And no, I think if people have gotten to this point in the podcast and they do have a question about problematic drinking, they should probably just pick up your book or start the alcohol experiment or both. But can we talk a bit about alcohol itself? Because you bust some myths and I want you to bust those myths for us on the podcast about alcohol being healthier or the key to a long life or just the fact that it might not be all that dangerous. 


Annie Grace (09:47): 

Yeah, absolutely. And it’s so interesting because in my journey, I remember intentionally being told that, okay, a glass of red wine is good for your heart, so I’m going to intentionally start to drink that every day. And I might’ve even been told that by a doctor, to be honest with you, because I didn’t really start drinking until I was in the corporate world. I mean, I drank here and there in college, but it wasn’t until I was in the corporate world and kind of happy hour and the pressure there took over. And so a lot of my drinking was really launched, I would say, in my career. And I didn’t have any inkling that it wasn’t healthy for you. In fact, I thought it was healthy for you. And certainly we all know in the back of our mind, well yeah, we see somebody on the side of the road with a paper bag and a bottle of bourbon in it, and that’s not healthy. But red wine certainly is healthy. And one thing that I noticed is how often I just read headlines and we’ve got the bias of social sharing because we’re going to share stuff. The science of sharing says we’re going to share stuff that makes us feel better about ourselves, makes us more accepted by our peers. And those things then by their very nature, are not always going to be the controversial thing. 


Sam Glover (10:55): 

It’s the echo chamber, right? 


Annie Grace (10:57): 

Unless the controversial thing is we’re all rallying together against the controversial thing, but it’s very much still going to be the tribal thing. So if you’re in a social circle that’s drinking a lot, sharing something about, I saw the article, A glass of red wine is more effective than half an hour at the gym or drinkers, moderate drinkers live longer than non-drinkers, 


Sam Glover (11:19): 

That feels less ridiculous. But the gym one feels intuitively just ridiculous, although I want to believe it. 


Annie Grace (11:25): 

Right? You want to believe it. And there is, I mean, each of these, if you look, so what I started to do is I started to say, huh, how does this line up with the fact that if I drink too much, I have to throw up to save my life, my body literally rebels against the alcohol to the point where it expels it or I will die. How does that sync up and how does it sync up with the statistic? I read that just two drinks a week increases the women’s chance of breast cancer by 15%? How does that work? And so I started to look beneath the headlines and actually start to read the studies. And it is amazing how you can manipulate science, and I’m sure your audience is so well aware of this fact, but it’s amazing how you can manipulate So in the You live longer, that study is called the Houlahan Study. 



And basically they looked at people over a very long period of time. It was more than 20 years, and they looked at how many of them died. Now they didn’t look at cause of death, but they did look at other things like how active they were, how much they drank, and they made a correlation that the people who drank a lot died first, the people who never drank died second, and the people who moderately drank died third. Now, what they left out of the headline that is very clearly written in the study is that the never drinkers were people who had either health issues or prior problems with alcohol, and that’s why they- 


Sam Glover (12:45): 

Weren’t drinking for other reasons. That would probably explain why they died earlier. 


Annie Grace (12:50): 

Yes. And often that reason was a prior problem with alcohol. So they were sober in recovery, so they’d already done the damage to their liver. So then you have this headline saying, moderate drinking makes you live longer. No, and it’s just so far from reality, it’s the same thing with red wine and heart health. So they basically did a study where, and it was in mice where resveratrol, which is the compound in wine that is supposed to be really good for your heart reduced, it was heart disease in mice. And so there’s this huge study and they said, okay, red wine is good for your heart. It has this chemical compound, which by the way is also found in blueberries and stuff like that, but let’s conveniently leave that out, all these antioxidants and whatever. And then they did a study within the last few years where they actually decided to test this in, I believe it was either Italy or France, against people who were drinking lots of red wine and heart health. And they found that that compound actually did not have an effect on human heart health. It was just in the mice that came up and they couldn’t replicate the mice study. But again, once that headline gets out there, you can look at this and you can say, okay, if there’s a headline, there’s a headline recently about no level of alcohol is safe for you, that came out about a year and a half ago. 


Sam Glover (14:02): 

And nobody shares that one. 


Annie Grace (14:04): 

Nobody shares it because crickets, you’re not going to get the comments. Everybody’s going to be like, you’re a party pooper. What are you doing? Way to bring down the mood? But you get one that says, alcohol makes you live longer. And all of a sudden everybody’s like, yes. And I mean, I’m sure you’re well aware of this term, but it’s just confirmation bias. We want to confirm the things we’re doing anyway to make ourselves feel better. It’s just how the brain works. It’s actually really innocent because we don’t realize we’re doing it. But we do have, I think humans who, when we start to drink too much, speaking from my own experience, you get this little nagging voice and it’s like, huh, is this really okay? Why don’t I feel good today? Am I really going to work again with a hangover more Advil? Is that really good for me? 



And there’s this little voice, and you want that. You either have to do something about that voice by making a different decision, which feels really hard, or you need to do things to make that voice quieter and some of these confirmation bias. No, it is healthy for me. I saw this article. I’m going to look that up. I’m going to drink with my friends. I’m going to all these things so that we just make more and more peace with this question. And again, because the primary question we’re asking is, oh, no, do I have a problem? And that answer is scary and stressful, and we’re looking for- 


Sam Glover (15:20): 

Ways to answer no. 


Annie Grace (15:22): 

And when we get stressed, what do drinkers do? Drink, right? That’s how it works. 


Sam Glover (15:28): 

Reading in this Naked Mind, you go into some detail around, on the one hand, the massive weight of scientific and medical literature and studies and writing on the fact that any amount of alcohol is harmful or can be harmful versus the highly publicized, flawed interpretations of a couple of studies. And what struck me was like, I can’t simultaneously believe that alcohol is good for me and that climate change is real and that vaccinations are safe, because it’s a similar thing where there’s 99% of the weight of evidence for climate change is on one side and a couple of flawed interpretations of quack science on the other. And the same for vaccinations causing autism. I can’t carry those contradictory things in my head. At the same time, I guess now I believe that any amount of alcohol can be harmful or is harmful. 


Annie Grace (16:19): 

Yeah. Yeah. And it’s really interesting, I think. So you bring up just this topic that I feel needs to be discussed. First of all, with climate change, I think it’s really interesting because climate change not existing is a much less stressful belief. 


Sam Glover (16:33): 



Annie Grace (16:35): 

And alcohol being healthy when we’re drinking is much less stressful belief. Our brains are naturally going to gravitate towards things that make us feel better in the moment, even if over the long term they’re not going to make us feel as good, which is really, really interesting. But it also brings up this idea of, okay, well, how can those things coexist? How can I say any alcohol is not safe? But then we live in a society where, look, let’s be honest, there’s going to be times where I’m probably going to drink and choosing to not drink at all. I don’t really drink at all anymore. I haven’t had a drink in almost five years now, but that is a very counter-cultural position right now. And especially when I was still working in corporate. I mean, I remember going on these work trips like Brazil and London and Dubai and not drinking and just blowing people. 



I remember being in Australia, not drinking or in the uk, and people are like, what is happening? It was so intense, but how can we have those two things and have the tension between, okay, alcohol is dangerous in any amount yet. I’m still going to continue to drink because I think if we ignore that it’s dangerous in any amount, we’re not going to take a mindful approach to it. But if we allow that, it’s dangerous, then drinking is going to become really stressful, and we might either drink more or be frustrated, whatever the case is, or ignore the evidence that it is harmful. How can those things coexist? And I like to talk about this idea of we do lots of things intentionally and mindfully that are risky. We get in our cars every day. 


Sam Glover (18:01): 

My lawyer brain immediately went to justifying wanting to drink by all of the other risky things that I do. Yeah, totally. 


Annie Grace (18:07): 

And I think that we get in our cars understanding that we need to wear our seatbelt, understanding that we need to put it in four wheel drive. We take harm reduction precautions because we don’t ignore it. And I think for me, if I could just help people to not ignore it and get out of this paradigm where it’s a hundred percent or nothing where I’m going to be all in as a non-drinker and totally embrace all the evidence, or I’m going to ignore it completely because it’s painful. If we could just almost have this new area of just being incredibly mindful, whether that’s taking a break and looking at your habits or whether it’s just having what I call non-negotiables, a few different things in your head where you’re like, I’m just not going to go there anymore. That’s my non-negotiable. If I do, I’m putting myself in a little bit of a timeout. It’s a longer break just becoming saying, okay, I’m going to do this, but I’m going to do it. Knowing the risks, I feel like we owe it to ourselves. I mean, we’re more conscious. I had this crazy conversation, sorry to go on a tangent. 


Sam Glover (19:04): 

No, bring it. 


Annie Grace (19:05): 

Yeah. I literally was sitting around with a group of girlfriends and they were all drinking wine and I was drinking a plastic water bottle. One of them is like, those have BPA. And I’m like, wait, that’s ethanol in your class. That’s the same stuff that goes into your car. I can’t even comprehend that you’re drinking wine, but that’s the level of us not saying, right, 


Sam Glover (19:36): 

Let’s level our understanding of the risk basically. 


Annie Grace (19:39): 

And then make your decision. And there’s no right or wrong decision, in my opinion. I know that’s contrary to the traditional kind of recovery community, but in my opinion, there’s no right or wrong decision, but go into it mindfully. You owe it to yourself to do that. 


Sam Glover (19:51): 

I mean, so like I said, I think I said at the top to our listeners, so I went through the alcohol experiment and today is day 30. So today’s my last day. I read most of your emails. I’ve read the book, and I’ve been engaging with this idea of, okay, so what kind of a drinker do I want to be going forward? And going into it, I think I drink too frequently or I thought I drank too frequently and occasionally excessively, but mostly just too often. And coming out of it, I’m thinking exactly that thing, the cost benefit, the mindfulness of it. It’s probably not worth drinking alcohol because I’m bored, especially on a weeknight. But if I’m at dinner and somebody orders a $300 bottle of wine, my curiosity is enough to overcome the risk there where I want to know what a $300 bottle of wine a glass of that tastes like or scotch. But in between, there is a whole lot of stuff where it’s probably just not worth it. And that’s kind of the reflection that I am taking away from this, but that as a general position, it’s probably better for me to just not drink. I’m better off. It’s healthier, and I feel better. 


Annie Grace (20:53): 

So interesting when I have this conversation with people and they reframe it for themselves where, oh my gosh, so I can really just say no. Occasionally, I remember my boss, the one who really got me into drinking in the first place in a way, because he was like, Amy, why aren’t you at the happy hour? What’s going on? I’m like, oh, I don’t really drink. He’s like, oh, no, it’s not about that. You’ve got to network here. You got to show up for the big bosses who are in town from London. You got to be here. And I was like, okay. 


Sam Glover (21:16): 

Right. I’ll do that. 


Annie Grace (21:17): 

And I was dead serious about my career. So if I had to learn how to drink to be promoted, by all means, there was no snag for me about it because again, it’s not common knowledge that there is some risk there. And about a year after I had left that role, and about probably two years after the book was out, he’s like, Hey, I read your book and it’s so nice just to be able to say no sometimes. I just never felt like that. We were all keeping up with each other. We were literally all keeping up with each other. I had so many coworkers who were like, well, I just drank. You were always ordering more drinks. I was like, what? Are you kidding me? I was just doing it because you were. I didn’t want that eighth drink. I knew that was going to make me feel like crap. And it was just so funny how we do, because it’s unexamined and so many things that are unexamined. They just confessor and create this life of its own. I had another friend and she’s like, Annie, oh my gosh, I feel like I’ve been going through my life accidentally drinking. I walk into a dinner party and somebody puts a glass of wine in my hand and I just drink it. 


Sam Glover (22:16): 

It’s a default. Yeah. 


Annie Grace (22:17): 

Yeah. There’s not even any consciousness in it, which is why so much of my work focuses on bringing this stuff into the consciousness and then saying, okay, what do I really want? What’s really, and without guilt, because it’s so important, it doesn’t work. The guilt, we all know that alcohol causes more deaths than all prescription and illegal drugs combined. That’s pretty common knowledge. It’s really a harmful substance that doesn’t change our behavior on a regular basis. But conscious asking yourself the better question of like, huh, what do I really want? When is it really worth it? When is it not worth it? And then making those decisions in the now. I mean, I feel like that’s the best approach to most things. Alcohol, food, whatever, Instagram. 


Sam Glover (23:01): 

That makes sense. We are overdue. I got to take a quick break, and when we come back, I want to flip that and talk about how those who drink can have better manners towards those who choose not to. So we’ll be back in a minute. 


Zack Glaser: 

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Sam Glover (25:30): 

So we’re back. So Annie, as I was reading about the challenges in your Facebook group, in your emails, in the book about how challenging it can sometimes be to be the non-drinker in the room and reflecting on the conversation we’ve been having, it strikes me that people who are drinking could bear some of the responsibility to have a better attitude about those who choose not to as well. What are some good manner best practices that the drinkers in the room can have? 


Annie Grace (25:53): 

It’s such a great question because again, it’s so innocent. I mean, it’s so full of just lack of examination. I remember saying constantly that I just didn’t trust people who didn’t drink. 


Sam Glover (26:05): 

I have said that, and I am ashamed of it, 


Annie Grace (26:08): 

And I just really felt that was true. I mean, if they’re not willing to have one or two and really say what’s on their mind and all this stuff, I just wasn’t going to trust them or whatever the case was. And I think that it’s so funny because if you take a step back and you look at it, there’s this great comedian that I saw, and he’s basically compared, he doesn’t drink and he compared it to not eating mayonnaise. And he is like, yeah, what if I walked in and I was like, no, I don’t want any mayonnaise. And people are like, oh my gosh, do you have a mayonnaise problem? 


Sam Glover (26:34): 

I don’t think we can hang out anymore. Oh my God, you’re a downer on this. Yeah. 


Annie Grace (26:39): 

Yeah. Do you not want to see the fact that I’m putting mayonnaise on? Do you not want me to use mayonnaise around you? What’s the, and so I think really just making it a non-issue. You know what I mean? If someone says, I think the point where the etiquette goes wonky, again, very innocently is what do you want to drink? Oh, I’d love an iced tea. Oh, are you sure? Wait, 


Sam Glover (27:03): 

Just don’t say that. 


Annie Grace (27:03): 

Are you not drinking? I remember the first time I was on a business trip in London and I didn’t prepare anybody, and I remember talking to my husband and being like, should I tell people ahead of time? Course, you overthink it as the person in the room who’s not going to be drinking. You overthink it. And he’s like, no, no, it’s not going to be a big deal. Just go into it. It’s no problem. And so I walked in and this coworker, Danny, she said, Hey, Annie, do you want to drink? And I was like, no, thanks. I’m just going to have whatever. And she’s like, wait, are you pregnant? And I was like, no. She’s like, well, are you sick? I’m like, no. And she’s like, well, no. What? What’s happening? What’s going on? He was so almost aggressive. 


Sam Glover (27:43): 

You said, drinking is the only drug that you have to explain why you don’t take. 


Annie Grace (27:47): 

Right. And so if we could just as an etiquette, just like don’t make anybody explain it. I mean just that would go so far. Just chill. Just chill. 


Sam Glover (27:59): 

One of the reasons that I said, I’m trying to avoid making sweeping pronouncements to myself or anybody else about my takeaways from a 30 day experiment with not drinking. But one of the things I found compelling in your book was you talk about, okay, so you’re wondering what your future is going to be. Let me talk to you about moderation. And I found it really compelling. You argue that moderation is harder than drinking or not drinking because you actually have to kind of obsess about the fact that you’re not drinking, it’s going on a diet. All you can think about is the thing that you don’t have. 


Annie Grace (28:30): 

Yeah. Moderation is a lot being on an alcohol diet. And so how I differentiate this in the alcohol experiment, which is the more recent book, so I think it has a little bit of updated thinking, but I differentiate it between liberation versus fixation because I think that if you’re truly liberated from alcohol where it doesn’t have, its kind of hooks in you, and just to be really clear, alcohol in the brain, overstimulates, dopamine, you have an artificially high level of a dopamine tells you, Hey, that thing you just did, I need you to do that again to survive. It’s the same thing with sex, with food. It’s 


Sam Glover (29:06): 

Like, it’s like click training for dogs, right? 


Annie Grace (29:08): 

Absolutely. And so we have- 


Sam Glover (29:09): 

Dopamine is the clicker. Exactly. 


Annie Grace (29:11): 

We have this idea that if alcohol gets its hooks in me somehow it’s my fault. I’m just one of those people who just can’t do it. And we’ve made this dichotomy where these alcoholics, and they’re different than us and they’re pity them. I’m so sad for them, whatever. But since you’re a human and you have blood and flesh and bones and brain cells, alcohol is going to react like alcohol does in your brain. It doesn’t matter. And so drinking every single day and then stopping, it’s going to make it a little bit hard, at least in the short term, for you to just easily give it up. It’s just like sugar, sugar, you’ll 


Sam Glover (29:48): 

Have a craving 


Annie Grace (29:48): 

Helping me. You’re going to have a craving. And so we make that really wrong in ourselves, which is something I just wanted to mention. But 


Sam Glover (29:54): 

Yeah, it’s not a willpower thing. It’s a biological chemical, mental thing, 


Annie Grace (29:58): 

Right? Yeah. It has nothing to do with you being strong enough or good enough or not being, but we’ve made it all that. We’ve made people drinking too much. We don’t have cigarette, a holics or heroin. We’re just like, no, cigarettes are addictive. I guess 


Sam Glover (30:14): 

We’d be like potheads though. 


Annie Grace (30:16): 

That’s true. That’s totally a fair point. That’s funny. Yeah. But with alcohol, no. It’s all about the person’s something wrong with the person, and you feel that shame because we’ve been carrying it for a long time. And so what I like to do is just really differentiate between this idea of liberation, which is you walk into a party, what’s your first thought? Is your first thought, okay, am I going to drink? Am I not going to drink? Where is the drinks? What is there to drink? You’re fixated. That’s the fixation side of it. If you walk into the party and you’re like, oh, who’s here? Alcohol’s not top of mind. And so I think it’s really about, and I have a whole kind of list in the book of different ways you can look at this in different circumstances to just give people a framework to think about it. 



But the key for me, I wanted alcohols to become small and irrelevant in my life. And I like you, I do not make sweeping. I will never say I’m never drinking again for two reasons. Number one, I know how the brain works and the brain’s going to go, whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s too scary. I can’t do it. It’s for forbid and fruit. Oh my gosh. So what I say is I drink whatever I want. I just haven’t wanted to have a drink in five years. It’s true. I haven’t wanted to because I’ve done a lot of work on my thinking and what I believe about alcohol and when you believe the things that the science says, it’s hard to want to in most circumstances, and that’s what my work is really centered on. But when you’re fixated on it, it creates a huge amount of mental noise. There’s a huge amount of back and forth, and am I going to am not going to, there’s a huge amount of just thinking about drinking 


Sam Glover (31:45): 

Or I’ve always taken breaks to make sure that I can, but there was something different about this one because previously it’s always been for a week or two or three or four. I’m not drinking, I’m not drinking, I’m not drinking. That’s the constant mantra in my head. Basically. Yeah, 


Annie Grace (31:59): 

The breaks without the mindset shift, which is what the alcohol experiment delivers that nothing else does, are literally creating the diet mentality. It’s creating the forbidden fruit. It’s okay, two things come out of the break. One man, did I miss it? And two, thank God I proved to myself that I don’t have a problem. And both of those 


Sam Glover (32:15): 

Things exactly. 


Annie Grace (32:16): 

Accumulate into more drinking ironically. So yeah, so I didn’t want that with the alcohol experiment. With the alcohol experiment. You’re 15 days in, you’re like, huh, I don’t even think I want to drink. That’s interesting. Maybe I’ll never drink. Maybe I will. Who knows? I’m just going to play it by ear. And so it’s really this fascinating giving you back all the power because I’m just giving you the knowledge. I’m just taking this thing that’s previously unexamined and we’re going deep into examining it. And then you’re making your own decision again based on, yeah, maybe I want to skydive someday there’s risk in that maybe I want to keep drinking. There’s risk in that. But for me, the goal should always be, and again, it’s about asking your brain a better question. The goal should be freedom. It is not free, in my opinion, to stop drinking and go to meetings every single day about drinking. 



And if people that works for them and they need to do that, that is amazing and it’s beautiful, and I support that a hundred percent in my life, that would not be freedom. That would be giving alcohol more power than it even had when I was drinking it. And so for me, freedom is getting rid of the thinking, getting rid of the fixation, getting rid of the desire so that it is small and irrelevant. And that’s what people report. They’re like, well, if I want to drink, I have one, but if I don’t, I’m not thinking about it. I’m not craving it. And I think if you are in the fixated part, if you are where it’s taking up a lot of your mental energy to be like, am I going to, am I not going to how much when? I mean I remember all of those things, not going to drink until Friday. Okay, can’t do that, so I’m just going to not drink until Thursday. Couldn’t do that. Okay, I’m just going to have one alcohol free day. 


Sam Glover (33:49): 

Right? Mean you share these examples from your own background. And as just general examples in the book and in the emails that I received through the alcohol experiment, and they just so resonate with me that I’ll be like, I feel like I’ve had a drink every night for five days in a row. Maybe tonight I shouldn’t drink. And inevitably in the evening when I’m tired and bored and my defenses are down that crumples and it’s because I’m trying to moderate. I think that’s why it resonated so strongly with me where I was like, yeah, it’s a lot easier just to say I’m probably not drinking. 


Annie Grace (34:20): 

And there’s another factor of the brain that it’s like you could look at the brain like a little kid, right? If a little kid is coming to you and they want ice cream and I think there’s a chance they’re going to get ice cream, how much are they going to talk to you about it? Even if you say no, if they still think there’s a chance, they will not. 


Sam Glover (34:37): 

Ask me one more time, the answer’s no. 


Annie Grace (34:40): 

They will say everything possible. They will never shut up. But if they know there’s no chance, if they’re sure there’s no chance. If you say, you know what, today, if they believe your word and they know there’s no chance, they shut up and they let it go. The brain is the same way, and that’s why this firm decision for 30 days can feel really easy because you’ve said, no chance, 30 days, no chance. 


Sam Glover (35:02): 

You’ve reset your default. 


Annie Grace (35:03): 

The brain shuts up, the brain goes away. It’s like, okay, I’m not drinking. Let’s think about other more interesting stuff. But if you go into it, which is what moderation is, am I going to do it? Am I not going to do it? How much am I going to have? The brain is not going to stop, because guess what? It craves the artificial stimulation that alcohol provides at a neurochemical level. I mean, there’s just not really getting around the science behind that. And so it’s going to create a lot of internal, am I not? And none of that feels good, but if you make a firm decision, and I always recommend that people just don’t go back into it after an experiment, don’t go back into it mindlessly. Don’t let somebody just put a bottle of beer in your hand at the party. 


Sam Glover (35:39): 

Make a decision. 


Annie Grace (35:40): 

Make a decision, and preferably make the decision before whatever event there is. So if you go, I always say maybe means yes, 


Sam Glover (35:49): 

That sounds 


Annie Grace (35:49): 

Great. You go out to a happy hour and you’re like, oh, maybe I don’t know. I’m doing pretty good. Maybe you’re going to drink most of the time if you go and you’re like, no, not tonight, maybe tomorrow night you’re not going to drink and you’re going to have so much more fun because you’ve made that decision ahead of 


Sam Glover (36:03): 

Time. So you come from the world of marketing, which has a famously hard drinking culture as well, and law certainly does. And we at Lawyerist, we put on events, we have conferences, we have meetups, we host things, and we have been trying to decide what does it look like to change the culture of our profession or the world in general around how central we make alcohol to things. Because on that idea, just putting alcohol front and center in an event feels like you’re setting those maybes up for failure. What are some of your ideas or advice for how we can change the culture of the profession, the culture of socializing, the culture of networking, whatever? 


Annie Grace (36:43): 

So I’ve been actually working with a young man at Stetson Law School about doing an alcohol experiment within the law school and kind of doing it as a voluntary wellness thing. And I think something like that within universities and just providing it as an optional thing where people could even do it as a fundraiser, get pledges for my 30 days or whatever the case is. I think it’d be really powerful as a very tangible thing. But I think the broader and deeper answer to that is all change happens. It happens with a minority and not a minority. That is sadly sober as I like to say. I remember a friend of mine getting sober about 11 years ago, and she was the poster child for, oh my gosh, I never want to be sober because it looked so miserable and she reports that she felt really miserable. 



And so I think when you feel like you have to give up alcohol because you’ve drank too much, and now finally you’re just going to have to do it, and oh, bummer, that gives the example of cheese. That’s not anything I ever want. Where on the other hand, if you come into a situation, you’ve had a mindset shift, you’ve decided this is a wellness conversation, you’ve decided, Hey, tonight I’m not drinking, and you walk in there and you order an iced tea and you’re laughing and having a good time as you will, that really has a ripple effect. It is profound because like I said earlier, we’re all really keeping up with each other and soon it’s incredible how just one person doing something different proudly and with the right mindset of not, you’re not in a, I don’t get to, you’re in kind of like a vegan, I don’t want meat. I’m not pining over your hamburger. I made my decision. I’m proudly vegan, or whatever the case is. If you open up this whole other conversation, it’s like, wow, that’s cool. So huh, how’d you do that? And then all of a sudden that really starts to shift. So I do think it is very grassroots and it is like everything shifts with a kind of radical minority taking the first step. I 


Sam Glover (38:38): 

Suppose we also just need to get better at putting something, a different activity at the center of our events. I mean, it is really easy to fall back on. There will be alcohol, and so the alcohol is holding the activity is holding a drink and socializing. Whereas we’re not very good at putting other activities centrally to the things that we plan, I guess. 


Annie Grace (38:57): 

And I think that one thing that I’ve seen people do corporations do and bars do is just have a very visible non-alcoholic option and it will blow your mind. Yeah, 



That makes sense. Because there isn’t one. If you had something that is like virgin sangria, something that’s nice tasting and kind of fancy looking, but it’s a non-alcoholic alternative, or you walk up to those little bars in the hotel where you’re at, everybody’s networking and socializing and there’s the bar and they just have a just sign that says, Hey, non-alcoholic options, and they list not an alcoholic virgin mojito or whatever the case is, it’s like blows people. They’re like, I can’t believe how many people took me up on this. It’s just that it hadn’t been an option before. 


Sam Glover (39:41): 

I was reading, I ordered some seed lip while I was on the alcohol experiment, which for those who have never heard of it I hadn’t is a distilled spirit that is non-alcoholic. It’s interesting. I’m not sure, I think it’s worth 30 bucks a bottle, but one of the things I love about it is that it’s not trying to be a fake cocktail. If I wanted to drink cocktails, I would drink cocktails. I want to find interesting things to drink that are not alcohol based or facsimiles of alcohol-based drinks. And I’ve been pleased to see as I’ve been going out and doing things that more and more bars seem to be getting this idea that they can be creative with beverages that aren’t just sugar and aren’t just cocktails without alcohol in them, which is kind of neat to see. So 


Annie Grace (40:21): 

I was on Good Morning America last January, and we filmed in a brewery in a distillery, and I was talking to the owner and I was like, so he’s like, it’s crazy. In the last two years, the amount of requests we get for interesting things to drink that are non-alcoholic has just skyrocketed. I mean, it’s like many, many multiples. And he’s like, it’s not just the pregnant women and the few people who are sober. It’s like a lot of people just don’t want to drink all the time anymore. 


Sam Glover (40:49): 

That seems healthy. Speaking of which, by way of closing, I suppose, what’s your favorite beverage for social non-alcoholic beverage consumption? It’s 


Annie Grace (40:57): 

Funny, I’m drinking it right now. I love Brew Doctor kombucha. It’s like a clear mind, like this organic fermented tea has rosemary and sage and I think it’s 


Sam Glover (41:07): 

Great. I’m still trying to get my head around kombucha, but Aaron Street, my business partner makes his own and his mom is starting her own business brewing kombucha out of her house and selling it. So I think I need to get with the program. 


Annie Grace (41:18): 

Well, and you need to be really careful because if there’s a lot of very vinegar tasting. 


Sam Glover (41:23): 

Yeah, I think that’s where I started when I was like, Ugh, 


Annie Grace (41:25): 

Yeah, you have one of the wrong ones. And you’re like, oh, why would anybody? But the thing that’s great about it, if you can get a good one is it’s very mild and it’s sipp. It has almost the, I don’t know if it’s called speed bumps or something, know how alcohol, you’re not going to just down it all, but orange juice, you’re just going to chug it and then what are you going to do? Drink 18 orange juices? It’s not going to happen, right? So kombucha is a nice, you feel like an adult still, 


Sam Glover (41:49): 

But what you just nailed speed bumps. I like that because that is a quality that alcoholic beverages have where they encourage you to sip them and drink them slowly. I mean, until you get to a certain point that water doesn’t. You can just chug a glass of water. It is an interesting quality that is harder to find outside of alcoholic drinks, but I have noticed that about kombucha. You’re 


Annie Grace (42:08): 

Putting it into the experience of drinking rather than the facilitating hydration, which is what we’re after. Really, 


Sam Glover (42:15): 

That is what I hope to see more of. If this idea spreads is drinks that are enjoyable to drink, not because they get you tipsy. Yeah, 


Annie Grace (42:22): 



Sam Glover (42:23): 

Annie Grace, thank you so much for being on the podcast. I really appreciate your time and I think it’s worth encouraging listeners to what go and try the alcohol experiment. I guess if you find yourself coming up with excuses like I did, I was looking at the page and I’m like, oh, but the holidays are coming up. There’s going to be things that I want to drink, and I’m like, damnit, now I’m making excuses, so I have to do it. Give it a try. 


Annie Grace (42:44): 

That’s awesome. 


Sam Glover (42:45): 

So free. Anyway, thank you so much, Annie. 


Annie Grace (42:47): 

Thank you. 



The Lawyerist Podcast is edited by Britany Felix. Are you ready to implement the ideas we discuss here into your practice? Wondering what to do next? Here are your first two steps. First. If you haven’t read The Small Firm Roadmap yet, grab the first chapter for free at Lawyerist.com/book. Looking for help beyond the book? Let’s chat about whether our coaching communities, are right for you. Head to Lawyerist.com/community/lab to schedule a 10-minute call with our team to learn more. The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said in this podcast is legal advice for you. 

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Sam Glover

Sam Glover is the founder of lawyerist.com. He is the co-author of the bestselling book The Small Firm Roadmap and original host of the weekly Lawyerist Podcast.

Featured Guests

Annie Grace

Annie Grace is the author of This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life. At 26, Annie was the youngest vice president in a multinational company. By 35 she was responsible for marketing in 28 countries—and drinking almost two bottles of wine a night. Knowing she needed a change but unwilling to submit to a life of deprivation and stigma, Annie set out to find a painless way to regain control. Annie no longer drinks and has never been happier. She left her executive role to write this book and share This Naked Mind with the world. In her free time, Annie loves to ski, travel (26 countries and counting), and enjoy her beautiful family. Annie lives with her husband and three children in the Colorado mountains.

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Last updated November 22nd, 2023