Arianna Huffington, Media Maven

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“You can’t run your life from your inbox.”
– Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) is the founder and CEO of Thrive Global and founder of The Huffington Post. She has been named to Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 Most Influential People and Forbes’ Most Powerful Women list.

Originally from Greece, Arianna moved to England when she was 16 and graduated from Cambridge with an M.A. in economics. In late 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that quickly became one of the most widely read, linked to, and frequently cited media brands on the Internet. In 2012, she won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting. In August of 2016, she launched Thrive Global with a mission of ending the stress and burnout epidemic by offering companies and individuals sustainable, science-based solutions to well-being.

Arianna serves on a lot of boards — including Uber and The Center for Public Integrity — and she is the author of 15 books, including Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder and The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time.

This is a wide-ranging conversation, and we get into plenty of tactics. Arianna is an expert storyteller and very funny — enjoy!

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Want to hear another podcast with an influencer in the media? — Listen to my conversation with Ezra Klein. In this episode, we discuss influencing the rules of the game by which this country is run (overall politics — not partisan), how Ezra lost 60 pounds, and his ascension into the ranks of the most respected media companies in the world (stream below or right-click here to download):

#208: Ezra Klein -- From College Blogger to Political Powerhouse


This podcast is brought to you by FreshBooksFreshBooks is the #1 cloud bookkeeping software, which is used by a ton of the start-ups I advise and many of the contractors I work with. It is the easiest way to send invoices, get paid, track your time, and track your clients.

FreshBooks tells you when your clients have viewed your invoices, helps you customize your invoices, track your hours, automatically organize your receipts, have late payment reminders sent automatically and much more.

Right now you can get a free month of complete and unrestricted use. You do not need a credit card for the trial. To claim your free month and see how the brand new Freshbooks can change your business, go to FreshBooks.com/Tim and enter “Tim Ferriss” in the “how did you hear about us” section.

This podcast is also brought to you by MeUndies. I’ve spent the last few years wearing underwear from these guys 24/7, and they are the most comfortable and colorful underwear I’ve ever owned. MeUndies are designed in L.A. and made from sustainably sourced MicroModal — a fabric three times softer than cotton. And now, they are also offering socks made from some of the most comfortable, premium materials.

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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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Lessons from Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci, and Ben Franklin

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“Education is supposed to juice your curiosity, not diminish or sate it.”
– Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson (@WalterIsaacson) is a professor at Tulane University, and the president and CEO of The Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute based in Washington, DC. He has been the chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of TIME magazine. He is the author of many biographies I have recommended, including The Innovators, Steve Jobs, Einstein: His Life and Universe, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, Kissinger: A Biography, and his most recent, Leonardo da Vinci.

In this episode, you learn life lessons and tactics from Steve Jobs, Ben Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, and more. Walter ties it all together beautifully.

We had a lot of fun in this conversation, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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Lessons from Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci, and Ben Franklin

Want to hear another podcast with incredible life advice?In this episode, I talk with Adam Robinson, Ramit Sethi, and Josh Waitzkin and discuss a variety of topics on business, wealth, and happiness (stream below or right-click here to download):



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. When 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. Give it a test run…

This podcast is also brought to you by Shopify. With the help of Shopify, many readers of my blog — first-time business owners — have ended up making millions of dollars each with their side gigs. Back in 2009, I helped create Shopify’s Build a Business, which is now the world’s largest entrepreneurship competition.

The goal of this competition is to entice would-be entrepreneurs to get off the couch and make things happen, and all you have to do to qualify is open a store on Shopify and start selling. Top sellers in each category then have the exclusive opportunity to learn from mentors and experts like Tony Robbins, Daymond John, Seth Godin, Sir Richard Branson, and me a location like Oheka (aka Gatsby’s) Castle or Necker Island.

Listeners to this show can go to shopify.com/tim to sign up for a free, 30-day trial and get access to video courses that will help you get started. Check it out at shopify.com/tim today!

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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Sir Richard Branson — The Billionaire Maverick of the Virgin Empire

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“Stick your neck out…it’s a lot more fun than sitting at home and watching other people do it.”
– Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson (@richardbranson), founder and chairman of The Virgin Group, is a world-famous entrepreneur, adventurer, activist, and business icon. He has launched a dozen billion-dollar businesses and hundreds of other companies.

His new autobiography, Finding My Virginity, shares the candid details of a lifetime of triumphs and failures and provides an intimate look at his never-ending quest to push boundaries, break rules, and seek new frontiers.

I loved our conversation, and we covered a lot, including:

  • Richard’s thoughts on “clean meat,” block chain, and cryptocurrency
  • How he’s coped with dyslexia, and how his parents helped make him resilient
  • Behind-the-scenes stories of deal-making, PR stunts, big wins, and big losses
  • The habits (and life decisions) he’s used to maintain high energy levels for decades
  • How Richard masterfully caps/limits downside risk, even though he’s perceived as a risk taker
  • How and why he takes regular 1-2-month (sometimes longer) breaks from alcohol
  • Favorite books
  • Lessons learned from Nelson Mandela and other mentors
  • And much more…

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Sir Richard Branson — The Billionaire Maverick of the Virgin Empire

Want to hear another episode with an iconic leader? Listen to my conversation with Ray Dalio. We discuss how Ray thinks about investment decisions, the three books he would give to every graduating high school or college senior, how he might assess cryptocurrency, and much, much more (stream below or right-click here to download):



This podcast is brought to you by Ascent Protein, the best protein I’ve ever tried. Ascent is the only US-based company that offers native proteins — both whey and micellar casein — directly to the consumer for improved muscle health and performance. Because the product is sourced from Ascent’s parent company, Leprino Foods — the largest producer of mozzarella cheese in the world — it’s entirely free of artificial ingredients and completely bypasses the bleaching process common to most other whey products on the market.

If you want cleaner, less processed protein, which I certainly do, go to ascentprotein.com/tim for 20 percent off your entire order.

This podcast is also brought to you by WordPress.com, 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.com — used by The New Yorker, Jay Z, Beyonce, 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!

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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Intimacy, Emotional Baggage, Relationship Longevity, and More – Esther Perel

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“The most powerful anti-depressant is doing for other people.”
– Esther Perel

Psychotherapist Esther Perel (@estherperel) is back to answer your most requested questions.

The New York Times called her the most important game-changer in sexuality and relational health since Dr. Ruth.

Her TED talks on maintaining desire and rethinking infidelity have more than 17 million views, and she’s tested and been exposed to everything imaginable in 34 years of running her private therapy practice in New York City.

In this episode, Esther explains:

  • How to foster relationship longevity.
  • The most effective ways to improve communication in relationships.
  • How to deal with criticism.
  • Letting go of emotional baggage from past relationships.
  • How to know when to move on from a relationship that doesn’t seem to be working.
  • And much more.

Esther is the author of the international bestseller Mating in Captivity, which has been translated into 26 languages, and her new book, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity .

Her creative energy is focused on co-creating and hosting an Audible original audio series, Where Should We Begin.

Enjoy!

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Intimacy, Sex Drive, Relationship Longevity, and More - Esther Perel

Want to hear another episode with Esther Perel? — Listen to her first appearance on the podcast. In this conversation, we discuss polyamory, why happy people cheat, how to find (and convince) mentors who can change your life, what she’s learned from Holocaust survivors, and much more (stream below or right-click here to download):

#241: The Relationship Episode: Sex, Love, Polyamory, Marriage, and More (with Esther Perel)


This podcast is brought to you by ZipRecruiter. One of the hardest parts about growing any business is finding and hiring the right team. Nothing can drain your resources and cost you time and money like making mistakes in hiring.

ZipRecruiter developed its own system and platform for helping solve two of the biggest bottlenecks for employers: posting jobs easily and making it even easier to find the best candidates. More than 80 percent of jobs posted return qualified candidates based on your criteria in just 24 hours. As a listener to this show, you can give it a try for free at ziprecruiter.com/tim!

This podcast is also brought to you by AudibleI have used Audible for years, and I love audiobooks. I have two to recommend:

  1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  2. The Tao of Seneca by Seneca

All you need to do to get your free 30-day Audible trial is visit Audible.com/Tim. Choose one of the above books, or choose any of the endless options they offer. That could be a book, a newspaper, a magazine, or even a class. It’s that easy. Go to Audible.com/Tim and get started today.

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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Investing Wisdom from Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Chris Sacca, and Others

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This episode contains some of the best lessons I’ve learned about investing, making money, and growing your personal wealth. It was inspired by my recent talk with Ray Dalio, which has been incredibly popular and led to many additional questions about money and investing.

There is no doubt we need to create systems and procedures that work for each of us. What works for me might not work for you. But you can learn from some of the smartest money managers in the world, and this includes billionaires and legends in the world of finance.

This episode includes tips and recommendations from:

I also share my own personal investing strategies, and the methods I use to assess risk and reward.

Enjoy!

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#270: Investing Wisdom from Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Chris Sacca, and Others

Want to hear another episode about money and investing? Listen to my conversation with Ray Dalio. We discuss how Ray thinks about investment decisions, the three books he would give to every graduating high school or college senior, how he might assess cryptocurrency, and much, much more (stream below or right-click here to download):



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. When 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.Give it a test run…

This podcast is also brought to you by Ascent Protein, the best protein I’ve ever tried. Ascent is the only US-based company that offers native proteins — both whey and micellar casein — directly to the consumer for improved muscle health and performance. Because the product is sourced from Ascent’s parent company, Leprino Foods — the largest producer of mozzarella cheese in the world — it’s entirely free of artificial ingredients and completely bypasses the bleaching process common to most other whey products on the market.

If you want cleaner, less processed protein, which I certainly do, go to ascentprotein.com/tim for 20 percent off your entire order.

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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TRIBE OF MENTORS — Sample Chapter and a Taste of Things to Come

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The sample chapter is below, but first, to answer a common question…

Some people have asked how the new Tribe of Mentors (subtitle: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World) is different from my last book, Tools of Titans. They’re different in content but similar in format.

Differences — First, 90% of Tools of Titans was based on the podcast, and more than 90% of Tribe of Mentors has never appeared on the podcast. It’s a new cast of characters and all new material. Second, my reasons for writing Tribe of Mentors are totally different. Third… well, if you read the first chapter in this post, you’ll understand how much they diverge.

That said, I did keep the “snackable” short-profile format that worked so well in the last book, and the universe helped me pull off some miracles for Tribe of Mentors (e.g. Ben Stiller, Temple Grandin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Yuval Noah Harari, Arianna Huffington, Marc Benioff, Terry Crews, Dan Gable, and many more). So, thanks, universe!

Enjoy the sample chapter below, and please grab the book at one of these fine retailers! Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Apple iBooks | Books-A-Million | Indigo  I promise it won’t disappoint.

Now, on to the first chapter…

INTRODUCTION TO TRIBE OF MENTORS — READ THIS FIRST

“The only true voyage would be not to travel through a hundred different lands with the same pair of eyes, but to see the same land through a hundred different pairs of eyes.”

          — MARCEL PROUST

“Albert grunted. ‘Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?’

Mort thought for a moment.

‘No,’ he said eventually, ‘what?’

There was silence.

Then Albert straightened up and said, ‘Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve ’em right.’”

      — TERRY PRATCHETT, MORT

To explain why I wrote this book, I really need to start with when.

2017 was an unusual year for me. The first six months were a slow simmer, and then, within a matter of weeks, I turned 40, my first book (The 4-Hour Workweek) had its tenth anniversary, several people in my circle of friends died, and I stepped onstage to explain how I narrowly avoided committing suicide in college.

Truth be told, I never thought I’d make it to 40. My first book was rejected 27 times by publishers. The things that worked out weren’t supposed to work, so I realized on my birthday: I had no plan for after 40.

As often happens at forks in the path — college graduation, quarter-life crisis, midlife crisis, kids leaving home, retirement — questions started to bubble to the surface.

Were my goals my own, or simply what I thought I should want?

How much of life had I missed from underplanning or overplanning?

How could I be kinder to myself ?

How could I better say no to the noise to better say yes to the adventures I craved?

How could I best reassess my life, my priorities, my view of the world, my place in the world, and my trajectory through the world?

So many things! All the things!

One morning, I wrote down the questions as they came, hoping for a glimmer of clarity. Instead, I felt a wave of anxiety. The list was overwhelming. Noticing that I was holding my breath, I paused and took my eyes off the paper. Then, I did what I often do — whether considering a business decision, personal relationship, or otherwise — I asked myself the one question that helps answer many others . . .

What would this look like if it were easy?

“This” could be anything. That morning, it was answering a laundry list of big questions.

What would this look like if it were easy? is such a lovely and deceptively leveraged question. It’s easy to convince yourself that things need to be hard, that if you’re not redlining, you’re not trying hard enough. This leads us to look for paths of most resistance, creating unnecessary hardship in the process.

But what happens if we frame things in terms of elegance instead of strain? In doing so, we sometimes find incredible results with ease instead of stress. Sometimes, we “solve” the problem by simply rewording it.

And that morning, by journaling on this question — What would this look like if it were easy? — an idea presented itself. Ninety-nine percent of the page was useless, but there was one seed of a possibility . . .

What if I assembled a tribe of mentors to help me?

More specifically, what if I asked 100+ brilliant people the very questions I want to answer for myself? Or somehow got them to guide me in the right direction?

Would it work? I wasn’t sure, but I did know one thing: If the easy approach failed, the unending-labor-in-the-salt-mines approach was always waiting in the wings. Pain is never out of season if you go shopping for it.

So, why not spend a week test-driving the path of least resistance?

And so it began. First, I scribbled down a list of dream interviewees, which started as one page and quickly became ten. It had to be a list with no limitations: no one too big, no one too out-of-reach, and no one too hard to find. Could I get the Dalai Lama? The incredible Temple Grandin? My personal white whale, author Neil Gaiman? Or Ayaan Hirsi Ali? I wrote out the most ambitious, eclectic, unusual list possible. Next, I needed to create an incentive to encourage people to respond, so I sought out a book deal. I figured “Be in my book?” might help. From the outset, I told the publisher that it also might not work, and that I’d return the advance if so.

Then, I started pitching my little heart out.

I sent an identical set of 11 questions to some of the most successful, wildly varied, and well-known people on the planet with “Answer your favorite 3 to 5 questions . . . or more, if the spirit moves you.”

After hitting “send” dozens of times, I clasped my hands to my chest with excitement and bated breath, to which the universe replied with . . . silence. Crickets.

For 12 to 24 hours, nothing. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. And then, there was a faint trickle through the ether. A whisper of curiosity and a handful of clarifying questions. Some polite declines followed, and then came the torrent.

Nearly all of the people I reached out to are busy beyond belief, and I expected short, rushed responses from a few of them, if I got any at all. Instead, what I got back were some of the most thoughtful answers I’d ever received, whether on paper, in person, or otherwise. In the end, there were more than 100 respondents.

Granted, the “easy” path took thousands of back-and-forth emails and Twitter direct messages, hundreds of phone calls, many marathons at a treadmill desk, and more than a few late-night bottles of wine, but . . . it worked. Did it always work? No. I didn’t get the Dalai Lama (this time), and at least half of the people on my list didn’t respond or declined the invitation. But it worked enough to matter, and that’s what matters.

In cases where the outreach worked, the questions did the heavy lifting.

Eight of the questions were fine-tuned “rapid-fire” questions from my podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, the first business-interview podcast to pass 200 million downloads. These questions have been refined over more than 300 interviews with guests such as actor/musician Jamie Foxx, General Stanley McChrystal, and writer Maria Popova. I knew that these questions worked, that they could help me in my own life, and that interviewees generally liked them.  

The remaining three questions were new additions that I hoped would solve my most chronic problems. Before taking them into the wild, I tested, vetted, and wordsmithed them with friends who are world-class performers in their own right. These three often ended up indirectly answering the “big” questions.

The older I get, the more time I spend — as a percentage of each day — on crafting better questions. In my experience, going from 1x to 10x, from 10x to 100x, and from 100x to (when Lady Luck really smiles) 1000x returns in various areas has been a product of better questions. John Dewey’s dictum that “a problem well put is half-solved” applies.

Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask. Conscious thinking is largely asking and answering questions in your own head, after all. If you want confusion and heartache, ask vague questions. If you want uncommon clarity and results, ask uncommonly clear questions.

Fortunately, this is a skill you can develop. No book can give you all of the answers, but this book can train you to ask better questions. Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, has said that “The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything.” Substitute “master learner” for “novel,” and you have my philosophy of life. Often, all that stands between you and what you want is a better set of questions.

The 11 questions I chose for this book are listed below. It’s important to read the full questions and explanations, as I shorten them throughout the rest of the book. Special thanks to Brian Koppelman, Amelia Boone, Chase Jarvis, Naval Ravikant, and others for their hugely helpful feedback.

First, let us take a quick pass of the 11 questions. Some of them might seem trite or useless at first glance. . . . But lo! Things are not always what they appear.

  1. What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

  2. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? My readers love specifics like brand and model, where you found it, etc.

  3. How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

  4. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

  5. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

  6. What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

  7. In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

  8. What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

  9. What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

  10. In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

  11. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

Now, let’s take a look at each, and I’ll explain why they appear to work. You might ask, “Why should I care? I’m not an interviewer.” To that, my response is simple: If you want to build (or foster) a world-class network, you need to interact in a way that earns it. All of the following points will help.

For instance, I spent weeks testing the order of questions for optimal responses. To me, proper sequencing is the secret sauce, whether you’re trying to learn a new language in 8 to 12 weeks, overcome a lifelong fear of swimming, or pick the brain of a potential mentor over coffee. Good questions in the wrong order get bad responses. Conversely, you can punch well above your weight class by thinking about sequencing, as most people don’t.

As one example, the “billboard” question is one of my podcast listener and guest favorites, but it’s heavy. It stumps or intimidates a lot of people. I didn’t want to scare busy people off, who might opt out with a quick, “Sorry, Tim. I just don’t have bandwidth for this right now.” So, what to do? Easy: let them warm up with lightweight questions (e.g., Most gifted books, purchase of <$100), which are less abstract and more concrete.

My explanations get shorter toward the end, as many of the points carry over or apply to all questions.

  1. What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

“What’s your favorite book?” seems like a good question. So innocent, so simple. In practice, it’s terrible. The people I interview have read hundreds or thousands of books, so it’s a labor-intensive question for them, and they rightly worry about picking a “favorite,” which then gets quoted and put in articles, Wikipedia, etc. “Most gifted” is lower risk, an easier search query (easier to recall), and implies benefits for a broader spectrum of people, which the idiosyncratic “favorite” does not.

For the curious and impatient among you, here are a few books (of many) that came up a lot:

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger

  1. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? My fans love specifics like brand and model, where you found it, etc.

This might seem like a throwaway, but it isn’t. It provides an easy entry point for busy interviewees while providing readers (and me) with something immediately actionable. Several answers have already changed my life, boosting immune function, improving sleep, and much more. The deeper questions elicit more profound answers, but profundity is the fiber of knowledge — it requires intensive digestion. To keep marching forward in the meanwhile, humans (yours truly included) need short-term rewards. In this book, I accomplish that with questions that provide tangible, easy, and often fun answers — Scooby snacks for your hard-working soul. To get the heavier lifting done, these breathers are important.  

  1. How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

This one is particularly important to me. As I wrote in Tools of Titans:

The superheroes you have in your mind (idols, icons, elite athletes, billionaires, etc.) are nearly all walking flaws who’ve maximized one or two strengths. Humans are imperfect creatures. You don’t “succeed” because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them. . .  Everyone is fighting a battle [and has fought battles] you know nothing about. The heroes in this book are no different. Everyone struggles.

  1. If you could have one gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

Self-explanatory, so I’ll skip the commentary. For would-be interviewers, though, the “If helpful…” portion is often critical for getting good answers.

  1. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

This is also self-explanatory . . . or so it seems. With questions like this and the next, I’ve found it productive to give interviewees a real-world answer. In a live interview, it buys them time to think, and in text, it gives them a template. For this question, for instance, I gave everyone the following:

SAMPLE ANSWER from Amelia Boone, one of the world’s top endurance athletes, sponsored by big brands and 4x world champion in obstacle course racing (OCR):

“In 2011, I shelled out $450 to participate in the first World’s Toughest Mudder, a brand new 24-hour obstacle race. Saddled with law school debt, it was a big expenditure for me, and I had no business thinking I could even complete the race, let alone compete in it. But I ended up being one of 11 finishers (out of 1,000 participants) of that race, and it altered the course of my life, leading to my career in obstacle racing and multiple world championships. Had I not plunked down the cash for that entry fee, none of that would have happened.”

  1. What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I was first asked this when interviewed by my friend Chris Young, scientist, co-author of Modernist Cuisine, and CEO of ChefSteps. Before responding, and while sitting onstage at the Town Hall in Seattle, I said, “Oooooh . . . that’s a good question. I’m going to steal that.” And I did. This question has deeper implications than you might expect. Answers prove a number of helpful things: 1) Everyone is crazy, so you’re not alone. 2) If you want more OCD-like behaviors, my interviewees are happy to help, and 3) Corollary to #1: “normal” people are just crazy people you don’t know well enough. If you think you’re uniquely neurotic, I hate to deliver the news, but every human is Woody Allen in some part of life. Here’s the sample answer I gave for this question, taken from a live interview and slightly edited for text:

SAMPLE ANSWER from Cheryl Strayed, best-selling author of Wild (made into a feature film with Reese Witherspoon): “Here’s my whole theory of the sandwich… every bite should be as much like the previous bite as possible. Do you follow? [If ] there’s a clump of tomatoes here, but then there’s hummus — everything has to be as uniform as possible. So any sandwich I’m ever given, I open it up and I immediately completely rearrange the sandwich.”

  1. In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

This is short, effective, and not particularly nuanced. It has particular application to my life reassessment. I’m surprised I don’t hear questions like this more often.

  1. What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

The second “ignore” sub-question is essential. We’re prone to asking “What should I do?” but less prone to asking “What shouldn’t I do?” Since what we don’t do determines what we can do, I like asking about not-to-do lists.

  1. What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

A close cousin of the previous question. Many problems of “focusing” are best solved by defining what to ignore.

  1. In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

Saying yes is easy. Saying no is hard. I wanted help with the latter, as did many people in the book, and some answers really delivered the goods.

  1. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

If your mind is “beach balling” (nerdy Mac reference to when a computer freezes), nothing else matters much until that is resolved. Once again, the secondary “if helpful” question is often critical.

***

Since any greatness in these pages is from other people, I feel comfortable saying that you will love some of what’s here, no matter where you are in life.

In the same breath, I know you will find some of what’s inside boring, useless, or seemingly stupid.  This is by design and a byproduct of collecting very different people with very different life experiences from around the world. Out of roughly 140 profiles, I expect you to like 70, love 35, and have your life changed by perhaps 17. Amusingly, the 70 you dislike will be precisely the 70 someone else needs.

Life would be boring if we all followed exactly the same rules, and you will want to pick and choose your own.

The more surprising part of all of this is that Tribe of Mentors changes with you. As time passes and life unfolds, things you initially swatted away like a distraction can reveal depth and become unimaginably important.

That cliché you ignored like a throwaway fortune cookie? Suddenly it makes sense and moves mountains. Conversely, things you initially found enlightening might run their course, like a wonderful high school coach who needs to hand you off to a college coach for you to reach the next level.

There’s no expiration date on the advice in this book. In the following pages, you’ll find advice from 30-something wunderkinds and seasoned veterans in their 60s and 70s. The hope is that, each time you pick up this book, not unlike with the I Ching or Tao Te Ching, something new will grab you, shake your perception of reality, illuminate your follies, confirm your intuitions, or correct your course that all-important one degree.

The entire spectrum of human emotion and experience can be found in this book, from hilarious to heart-wrenching, from failure to success, and from life to death. May you welcome it all in.

On my coffee table at home, I have a piece of driftwood. Its sole purpose is to display a quote by Anaïs Nin, which I see every day:

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

It’s a short reminder that success can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations we are willing to have, and by the number of uncomfortable actions we are willing to take.

The most fulfilled and effective people I know — world-famous creatives, billionaires, thought leaders, and more — look at their life’s journey as perhaps 25 percent finding themselves and 75 percent creating themselves.

This book is not intended to be a passive experience. It’s intended to be a call to action.

You are the author of your own life, and it’s never too late to replace the stories you tell yourself and the world. It’s never too late to begin a new chapter, add a surprise twist, or change genres entirely.

What would it look like if it were easy?

Here’s to picking up the pen with a smile. Big things are coming. . . .

Pura vida,

Tim Ferriss

Austin, Texas
August 2017

###

Get Tribe of Mentors at these fine retailers!  Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Apple iBooks | Books-A-Million | Indigo

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Eric Ripert — Lessons in Mastery and Mindfulness

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Photo cred: Nigel Parry

“Anger doesn’t help to create quality.”
– Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert (@ericripert) is recognized as one of the best chefs in the world. In 1995, at just 29 years old, he earned a four-star rating from The New York Times. Twenty years later and for the fifth consecutive time, Le Bernardin, where Eric is the chef and a co-owner, again earned the highest rating of four stars, becoming the only restaurant to maintain this superior status for such a marathon length of time. In 1998, the James Beard Foundation named him Top Chef in New York City and, in 2003, Outstanding Chef of the Year.

In 2009, Avec Eric, his first TV show, debuted and ran for two seasons, earning two Daytime Emmy Awards. It returned for a third season on the Cooking Channel in 2015. Eric has also hosted the show On the Table on YouTube, which debuted in July 2012, and he has appeared in media worldwide. He is the author of the New York Times best-selling memoir 32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line, Avec Eric, and several other books.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Daily routines
  • Conquering weakness and anger
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • The art of hiring
  • And much, much more

Please enjoy this wide-ranging conversation with Eric Ripert!

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#268: Eric Ripert -- Lessons in Mastery and Mindfulness

Want to hear another podcast with a world-class chef and entrepreneur? — Listen to my conversation with Andrew Zimmern. In this episode, we discuss his meditation practice, morning routines, and creative process (stream below or right-click here to download):

Ep 40: Andrew Zimmern on Simple Cooking Tricks, Developing TV, and Addiction


This podcast is brought to you by Athletic GreensI get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is, inevitably, Athletic GreensIt is my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body and did not get paid to do so. As a listener of The Tim Ferriss Show, you’ll get 30 percent off your first order at AthleticGreens.com/Tim.

This podcast is also brought to you by Four SigmaticI reached out to these Finnish entrepreneurs after a very talented acrobat introduced me to one of their products, which blew my mind (in the best way possible). It is mushroom coffee featuring chaga. It tastes like coffee, but there are only 40 milligrams of caffeine, so it has less than half of what you would find in a regular cup of coffee. I do not get any jitters, acid reflux, or any type of stomach burn. It put me on fire for an entire day, and I only had half of the packet.

People are always asking me what I use for cognitive enhancement right now — this is the answer. You can try it right now by going to foursigmatic.com/tim and using the code Tim to get 20 percent off your first order. 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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