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Ben Nemtin of MTV’s ‘The Buried Life’: What Do You Want to Do Before You Die? (ep. 336)

On the Live Inspired Podcast, John O’Leary welcomes Ben Nemtin of MTV’s The Buried Life as he asks the question “what do you want to do before you die?”.

In 2006, Ben Nemtin and three childhood friends started The Buried Life: a list of 100 things to do before you die. For every item on the list they accomplished, they helped a stranger cross something off their bucket list.

Ben has crossed off 93 including write a New York Times bestselling book What Do You Want to Do Before You Die?, make a TV show, be interviewed by Oprah (who called their mission “truly inspiring”) and play basketball with President Obama (who said Ben is an “inspiration for a new generation”).

Today, Ben shares what inspired the bucket list quest, its impact on millions to thrive personally and professionally and the practical steps you can take to create your bucket list today.

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  • Growing up in Pleasantville: Although Victoria, British Columbia + his childhood was idyllic, Ben put unsurmountable pressure on himself leading to anxiety and crippling depression as a young adult. After being dropped from the national rugby team, Ben dropped out of school and became isolated.
  • Rediscovering a zest for life, Ben + three friends set out on a two-week road trip with a bucket list of 100 things they’d like to do before they die, and helping others accomplish something on their list along the way.
  • MTV’s The Buried Life
    • The series name The Buried Life was inspired by Matthew Arnold’s poem written in 1852 by the same name.
    • “But often, in the world’s most crowded streets, But often, in the din of strife, There rises an unspeakable desire After the knowledge of our buried life.” Read the full poem here.
    • A-Ha, the Ripple Effect: During the 14-year journey, The Buried Life team was inspiring others to create and go after their own personal goals and passions.
    • When creating an item for the list, which included play basketball with President Obama, ride a bull and sing the National Anthem to a packed stadium, they pretended they had $10 millions and that anything was possible. Get the full list here.
    • In 2006, a man named Brent wanted to deliver pizzas to the homeless shelter he spent three years living in. He pulled himself out of that homeless shelter by starting a business that relied heavily on a now-broken down truck. With $408, the team bought him a truck and felt the profound impact they were having on others.
    • Valuing authenticity, they battled to executive produce The Buried Life when MTV signed them to a contract in 2010.
    • “No goal is greater than any other goal.” Kissing the Stanley Cup was a reminder that no matter how mundane or epic a list item was, it was important as long as it was important to them.
  • “You’re 77% more likely to achieve your goal if you have someone checking in on you.”
  • Take action on your bucket list:
    1. Take 30 minutes to develop your initial list with things that are important to you, understanding it will evolve as you evolve.
    2. Create accountability by sharing your goals with others.
    3. Break down the bigger, more important items into smaller, tangible steps.
  • “You are the architect for your own inspiration. Start taking steps towards your goals to create inspiration through action.”
  • “Accountability and inspiration through action will drive us towards our personal goals.”
  • Of the original 100, Ben looks forward to crossing off “make a movie” and “go to space”.
  • Organically over time, Ben graduated into the next evolution of his career as the outrageous list items seemed less intriguing.
  • How to manage + improve your mental wellbeing:
    • Acknowledge that feeling any type of anxiety or depression is okay.
    • Speak to someone you trust about these feelings, giving others the chance to help you.
    • Develop a Resilience or Mental Health Toolkit with things that increase your wellbeing.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.


My new book IN AWE is now available… and became an instant bestseller! Learn how to rediscover your childlike sense of wonder to unleash inspiration, meaning and joy. Visit ReadInAwe.com today! 


  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. The Overstory by Richard Powers and Third Door by Alex Banayan.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. Naivety.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. Mugs from when my grandfather was in the war.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. President Obama.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. The truth will set you free.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Stop and smell the roses.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. What do you want to do before you die?