Inside a Maximum Security Prison: Three Stories of Redemption and Entrepreneurship

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Photo: Josh Estey

In this podcast, I had the rare opportunity to interview three men in Level 4 maximum security at Kern Valley State Prison. There was no time to do homework on any of them, so I crossed my fingers and jumped in. It was incredibly nerve-wracking and, ultimately, incredibly rewarding and fun. Any expectations I might have had going in were exceeded.

I owe special thanks to Cat Hoke, all the men who participate in Defy (the program Cat started), and all the staff and officers at Kern, including Chief Deputy Warden Goss who made it possible for me to bring recording equipment. Thank you for the help, sir!

If you’re interested in a similar prison visit after listening to this episode, Cat now has five more trips lined up. Simply email admin@cathoke.com for more details. If this episode moves you in any way, make sure to check out Defy and other groups doing this work and making an impact, like the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC).

Enjoy!

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Inside a Maximum Security Prison: Three Stories of Redemption and Entrepreneurship
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Want to hear another inspiring conversation? — Check out my interview with Catherine Hoke, the founder of Defy Ventures and author of A Second Chance. Stream below or right-click here to download.


This podcast is brought to you by Helix Sleep. I recently moved into a new home and needed new beds, and I purchased mattresses from Helix Sleep.

It offers mattresses personalized to your preferences and sleeping style — without costing thousands of dollars. Visit Helixsleep.com/TIM and take the simple 2-3 minute sleep quiz to get started, and the team there will build a mattress you’ll love.

Its customer service makes all the difference. The mattress arrives within a week, and the shipping is completely free. You can try the mattress for 100 nights, and if you’re not happy, it’ll pick it up and offer a full refund. To personalize your sleep experience, visit Helixsleep.com/TIM and you’ll receive up to $125 off your custom mattress. Enjoy!

This podcast is also brought to you by the Wondery network’s Business Wars. Hosted by David D. Brown, former anchor of the Peabody award-winning public radio business program Marketplace, Business Wars shares the untold and very real stories of what goes on behind the scenes with the leaders, investors, and executives that take businesses either to new heights or utter ruin.

I recommend starting with the first one, Sudden Death, which is the first of an eight-part series that chronicles the brutal business battle between Netflix and Blockbuster, and later HBO. Other episodes dig into epic face-offs that have shaped the landscape of what we buy and how we live, such as Marvel vs. DC, Nike vs. Adidas, Nintendo vs. Sony, and Hearst vs. Pulitzer. You can search for Business Wars on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider, or you can just go directly to wondery.fm/tim to start listening right now.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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Adam Robinson — Outflanking and Outsmarting the Competition

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“If I realize my focus is off, and certainly when I’m experiencing any negative emotions, I ask myself, ‘Where should my attention be right now?’ Almost always, the answer is ‘my mission,’ which is like a beacon that always beckons.” — Adam Robinson

Welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where I share the habits, tools and patterns of world-class performers. This special short episode features insights from Adam Robinson (@IAmAdamRobinson). His answers to my questions were highlighted in my most recent book, Tribe of Mentors.

For those of you not familiar with Adam, he has made a lifelong study of outflanking and outsmarting the competition. He is a rated chess master who was awarded a Life Title by the United States Chess Federation. As a teenager, he was personally mentored by Bobby Fischer in the 18 months leading up to his winning the world championship.

Then, in his first career, he developed a revolutionary approach to taking standardized tests as one of the two original co-founders of The Princeton Review. His paradigm-breaking — or “category killing,” as they say in publishing — test-prep book, The SAT: Cracking the System, is the only test-prep book ever to have become a New York Times bestseller. After selling his interest in The Princeton Review, Adam turned his attention in the early ’90s to the then-emerging field of artificial intelligence, developing a program that could analyze text and provide human-like commentary. He was later invited to join a well-known quant fund to develop statistical trading models, and since, he has established himself as an independent global macro advisor to the chief investment officers of a select group of the world’s most successful hedge funds and family offices.

Adam has also been one of this show’s most popular guests, and you can check out his first appearance here, and his second here.

Enjoy!


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Want to hear another conversation with an investor who has his mind on more than money? — Check out my interview with Steve Jurvetson, an early VC investor in SpaceX, Tesla, Planet, Memphis Meats, and Hotmail. Stream below or right-click here to download.

Steve Jurvetson — The Midas Touch and Mind-Bending Futures
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This podcast is brought to you by 99designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. I have used them for years to create some amazing designs. Whether your business needs a logo, website design, business card, or anything you can imagine, check out 99designs.

I used them to rapid prototype the cover for The Tao of Seneca, and I’ve also had them help with display advertising and illustrations. If you want a more personalized approach, I recommend their 1-on-1 service. You get original designs from designers around the world. The best part? You provide your feedback, and then you end up with a product that you’re happy with or your money back. Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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Brandon Stanton – The Story of Humans of New York and 25M+ Fans

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“Doing anything less than something amazing is squandering this whole reason that you’re here.” – Brandon Stanton

Brandon Stanton (@humansofny) is the photographer behind Humans of New York. He attended the University of Georgia and worked as a bond trader in Chicago before moving to New York to pursue photography. Followed by over 25 million people on social media, Humans of New York features daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets of New York City. It has been turned into two #1 New York Times bestselling books: Humans of New York and Humans of New York: StoriesIn recent years, Brandon has expanded the blog to include stories from over thirty different countries, and was invited in 2015 to interview Barack Obama in the oval office. In 2017, Humans of New York was turned into a television series that is now available on Facebook Watch.

Enjoy!


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Brandon Stanton - The Story of Humans of New York and 25M+ Fans
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Want to hear another podcast with an innovative artist? — Listen to my conversation with Soman Chainani, author of The School for Good and Evil series, in which we discuss publishing stories, personal discipline, and remaining true to an artistic vision when money’s on the table. (Stream below or right-click here to download):


This podcast is brought to you by WordPress, my go-to platform for 24/7-supported, zero downtime blogging, writing online, creating websites — everything! I love it to bits, and the lead developer, Matt Mullenweg, has appeared on this podcast many times.

Whether for personal use or business, you’re in good company with WordPress, which is used by The New Yorker, Jay Z, Beyoncé, FiveThirtyEight, TechCrunch, TED, CNN, and Time, just to name a few. A source at Google told me that WordPress offers “the best out-of-the-box SEO imaginable,” which is probably why it runs nearly 30% of the Internet. Go to WordPress.com/Tim to get 15% off your website today!

This podcast is also brought to you by Four Sigmatic. While I often praise this company’s lion’s mane mushroom coffee for a minimal caffeine wakeup call that lasts, I asked the founders if they could help me—someone who’s struggled with insomnia for decades—sleep. Their answer: Reishi Mushroom Elixir. They made a special batch for me and my listeners that comes without sweetener; you can try it at bedtime with a little honey or nut milk, or you can just add hot water to your single-serving packet and embrace its bitterness like I do.

Try it right now by going to foursigmatic.com/ferriss and using the code Ferriss to get 20 percent off this rare, limited run of Reishi Mushroom Elixir. If you are in the experimental mindset, I do not think you’ll be disappointed.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

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The Art of Hospitality: An Interview With Entrepreneur and Hotelier Liz Lambert

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Credits: Pia Riverola

“There’s something so awesome about where elegance meets rock and roll.”
 — Liz Lambert

Liz Lambert (@thelizlambert) first purchased a seedy motel on South Congress Avenue 23 years ago, and transformed it into Hotel San José, which has become known today as the quintessential “Austin” hotel. The success of Hotel San José, which sparked a revitalization in the city’s now thriving South Congress district, led her to launch Bunkhouse Group, a hospitality company founded on the pillars of design, music, and community-driven experiences.

In the course of chronicling her experiences with the residents of Hotel San José on video camera, she ended up making the Last Days of the San Joséa documentary that casts a fascinating light on human relationships in gentrification and urban renewal. You can check out the trailer here, click here to be notified when streaming becomes available, or get a copy of the DVD here.

Enjoy!


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Want to hear another episode with someone who takes design seriously? — Listen to my interview with Debbie Millman in which we discuss catalyzing low points, a ten-year plan for a remarkable life, and much more. (Stream below or right-click here to download):


This podcast is brought to you by Soothe.com, the world’s largest on-demand massage service. Because I’ve been broken so many times, I have body work done at least twice a week, and I have a high bar for this stuff. I do not accept mediocrity, and I wouldn’t expect you to, either.

After much personal testing, I can affirm that Soothe delivers a hand-selected, licensed, and experienced massage therapist to you in the comfort of your own home, hotel, or office in as little as an hour. I was amazed at the quality of service and convenience. Think of it as Uber for massages, available in fifty cities worldwide. Download the app at Soothe.com and use code TIM25 to get $25 off your first massage.

This podcast is also brought to you by Peloton, which has become a staple of my daily routine. I picked up this bike after seeing the success of my friend Kevin Rose, and I’ve been enjoying it more than I ever imagined. Peloton is an indoor cycling bike that brings live studio classes right to your home. No worrying about fitting classes into your busy schedule or making it to a studio with a crazy commute.

New classes are added every day, and this includes options led by elite NYC instructors in your own living room. You can even live stream studio classes taught by the world’s best instructors, or find your favorite class on demand.

Peloton is offering listeners to this show a special offer. Visit onepeloton.com and enter the code TIM at checkout to receive $100 off accessories with your Peloton bike purchase. This is a great way to get in your workouts, or an incredible gift. Again, that’s onepeloton.com and enter the code TIM.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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How to Succeed in High-Stress Situations

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“A good person dyes events with his own color…and turns whatever happens to his own benefit.” – Seneca

From the outside looking in, the last several weeks have been disaster after disaster for me:

  • Death in the family
  • Several deals that have been worked on for 6+ months fell apart at the last minute
  • I might need to sue someone for egregious breach of contract and unexpected damages
  • On and on and on…

I’ve thought of several books over and over again during this period to cope. One of them was The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday (@ryanholiday). It has helped me to turn problems upside-down, look at them through a different lens, and even uncover unique opportunities.

The Obstacle Is The Way is a collection of stories and principles about Stoicism, which I consider to be the ultimate personal “operating system” for anyone who wants to thrive in high-stress environments and situations.

If you want to be antifragile like Thomas Jefferson, Marcus Aurelius, Bill Belichick, and many of the most dominant investors in history, Stoicism offers a real playbook. If you want to make better decisions, if you want to smile when other people cower, it offers real tools.

To quote Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.” What if you could be a person who is improved by crisis? At the very least, it would give you opportunities no one else can see, let alone grasp. Much more important, it would make you a happier human being.

Here are a few sample chapters from The Obstacle Is The WayPlease enjoy!


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Want to hear another podcast featuring Ryan Holiday and Stoicism? — In this episode, we discuss the “big three” Stoics, how Stoicism applies to the modern world, and how to improve your decision-making when stakes are high (stream below or right-click here to download):


This episode is brought to you by Teeter. Inversion therapy, which uses gravity and your own body weight to decompress the spine or relieve pressure on the discs and surrounding nerves, seems to help with a whole slew of conditions. And just as a general maintenance program, it’s one of my favorite things to do.

Since 1981, more than three million people have put their trust in Teeter inversion tables for relief, and it’s the only inversion table brand that’s been both safety-certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and registered with the FDA as a class one medical device. For a limited time, my listeners can get the Teeter inversion table with bonus accessories and a free pair of gravity boots — a savings of over $148 — by going to Teeter.com/Tim!

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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One-Person Businesses That Make $1M+ Per Year

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This podcast episode of The Tim Ferriss Show is coming up on the 11th anniversary of my first book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. While there are parts written by my 29-year-old self that make me cringe, I’m both honored and amazed that it continues to strike a chord with so many.

Rather than re-editing the book and risking the loss of whatever made it work in the first place, I’d like to share case studies of people who have used it as a blueprint to build successful businesses as detailed in The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business by freelance journalist Elaine Pofeldt (@ElainePofeldt).

Much like 11 years ago, I hope this episode inspires more people to make a change for the better and accomplish more than they thought possible.

Please enjoy this episode!


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Want to hear a podcast with someone who inspires others to build businesses and live lives on their own terms? — Listen to my conversation with Seth Godin in which he details the rules, principles, and obsessions that help him manage his life. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

How Seth Godin Manages His Life -- Rules, Principles, and Obsessions
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This podcast is brought to you by 99designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. I have used them for years to create some amazing designs. Whether your business needs a logo, website design, business card, or anything you can imagine, check out 99designs.

I used them to rapid prototype the cover for The Tao of Seneca, and I’ve also had them help with display advertising and illustrations. If you want a more personalized approach, I recommend their 1-on-1 service. You get original designs from designers around the world. The best part? You provide your feedback, and then you end up with a product that you’re happy with or your money back. Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade.

This episode is also brought to you by LegalZoom. I’ve used this service for many of my businesses, as have quite a few of the icons on this podcast — such as Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg of WordPress fame.

LegalZoom is a reliable resource that more than a million people have already trusted for everything from setting up wills, proper trademark searches, forming LLCs, setting up non-profits, or finding simple cease-and-desist letter templates.

LegalZoom is not a law firm, but it does have a network of independent attorneys available in most states who can give you advice on the best way to get started, provide contract reviews, and otherwise help you run your business with complete transparency and up-front pricing. Check out LegalZoom.com and enter promo code TIM at checkout today for special savings and see how the fine folks there can make life easier for you and your business.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

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Steve Jurvetson — The Midas Touch and Mind-Bending Futures

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“Celebrate the childlike mind.” — Steve Jurvetson 

Steve Jurvetson (@jurvetson) is an early-stage venture capitalist with a focus on founder-led, mission-driven companies at the cutting edge of disruptive technology and new industry formation. Steve was the early VC investor in SpaceX, Tesla, Planet, Memphis Meats, Hotmail, and the deep learning companies Mythic and Nervana. He also led investments in startups that were acquired for $16 billion, and five that went public in successful IPOs.

In 2016, former President Barack Obama announced Steve’s appointment as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship. Steve has also been honored as one of “Tech’s Best Venture Investors” by Forbes, and as the “Venture Capitalist of the Year” by Deloitte. Steve will be launching a brand-new venture fund sometime later this year, and you can read about it at future.ventures.

Enjoy!


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Steve Jurvetson — The Midas Touch and Mind-Bending Futures
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Want to hear another conversation with an incredible investor? — Check out my interview with Mike Maples, Jr., a partner at venture capital firm Floodgate, and the the man who taught me how to invest. Stream below or right-click here to download.


This podcast is brought to you by Four Sigmatic. While I often praise this company’s lion’s mane mushroom coffee for a minimal caffeine wakeup call that lasts, I asked the founders if they could help me—someone who’s struggled with insomnia for decades—sleep. Their answer: Reishi Mushroom Elixir. They made a special batch for me and my listeners that comes without sweetener; you can try it at bedtime with a little honey or nut milk, or you can just add hot water to your single-serving packet and embrace its bitterness like I do.

Try it right now by going to foursigmatic.com/ferriss and using the code Ferriss to get 20 percent off this rare, limited run of Reishi Mushroom Elixir. If you are in the experimental mindset, I do not think you’ll be disappointed.

This podcast is also brought to you by Helix Sleep. I recently moved into a new home and needed new beds, and I purchased mattresses from Helix Sleep.

It offers mattresses personalized to your preferences and sleeping style without costing thousands of dollars. Visit Helixsleep.com/TIM and take the simple 2-3 minute sleep quiz to get started, and the team there will build a mattress you’ll love.

Its customer service makes all the difference. The mattress arrives within a week, and the shipping is completely free. You can try the mattress for 100 nights, and if you’re not happy, they’ll pick it up and offer a full refund. To personalize your sleep experience, visit Helixsleep.com/TIM and you’ll receive up to $125 off your custom mattress.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

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30 Comments / Leave a comment or question