Fireside Chat: Google and Tim Ferriss

This fireside chat at Google in London was also simulcast to their offices in Ireland, Sweden, and Moscow. It was a blast.

It covered tons of topics never discussed on the blog before: proposed improvements to Gmail (please!), the real original book title, using telephone vs. e-mail, principles and case studies, metrics (including exercise), analysis vs. intuition, the declining dollar and personal outsourcing & geoarbitrage, and much more.

If you’re bored at work, you can listen to the audio while you browse Facebook 🙂 My collection of 55 odd videos on YouTube can be found here if you want more semi-productive distraction before 5pm.

TGIF and have a wonderful weekend!

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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55 Replies to “Fireside Chat: Google and Tim Ferriss”

  1. The original title was very interesting. I wonder what type of controversy it would have created. I bet you sales still would have been great.


  2. Awesome! Tim can EVEN outsource online dating! And the idea of personal Geo Arb really just confirms that Tim’s understanding of new style project creation and project management allows him to outsource ANYTHING!

  3. Hi Tim, I really enjoyed your eloquence and spontaneity in this presentation. Thanks for posting this- a great spend of an hour. Are you coming to Australia any time soon?

  4. Hi, Tim. Bought the book this week.

    Your quote here, “I don’t really believe in personal happiness. I believe in interpersonal happiness.” Is profound. I am also glad to learn you didn’t outsource the writing of your book.

    Question re: the cover: Why is the guy in the hammock? You stress in the book that working 4-hour (or “shorter”) weeks is not all about being lazy, but instead, it’s about doing what you want to do (languages, travel, etc.) So why the man in the hammock “chilaxing” as the kids say today?

    Also, do you think spending time talking to Google and tech conferences is worthwhile? You minimize and somewhat disdain the use of email, PDAs/phones and other technologies, and clearly, these folks can’t start working 4-hour weeks, as you acknowledge. You say in another video your target market isn’t someone who can’t pay the bills. Why not? Surely they are the ones who most need it, not snarky overpaid techies.

  5. Tim,

    I enjoyed the interesting tidbits from this talk. I’ve got ONE tiny suggestion, though that might improve your vids and speeches for everyone. Since your talks are pretty “low-key” from a vocal standpoint, you might want to have the sound guys really boost your voice a bit, or wear your mic much closer to your mouth. I had a lot of difficulty hearing you on this vid and I had both the players volume and my laptop volume all the way up. Plus, I’m sitting in a room with zero outside noise. Folks in an office might have a really hard time hearing this while enjoying a sandwich over lunch, or all the clicking on Facebook as you suggest. Also, might I suggest, since you’re great at tweaking your persona. . .a vocal/speech coach? What would REALLY help you go the distance is a bit of vocal projection, and those folks can work wonders on you with a few quick lessons. I hope you appreciate the constructive criticism. . .:-)

  6. Thanks Tim – I really needed some inspiration today as I face a four-hour afternoon blocked out to complete a final assignment for my class :/ 🙂 Have a great weekend as well! ~Marcie

  7. Glad you had an enjoyable celebration last night. I ran into your friend Aaron at the Netvibes event. Nice guy.

    I’m off for one more day of playing in the surf. Back to normal life tomorrow. I’ll catch the video then.

  8. Nice interview. Very informative. I have no problem with Tim’s low-key vocal delivery. It sort of fits in perfectly with his relaxed lifestyle design.

  9. Tim-

    Brilliant! Loved the interview and found the information very useful. I wish to see more videos like this. Not neccessarily an hour long, but informative 1/2 hours would be great. We love to see you explain your principles and to see you living the lifesyle. I wish you would do a talk/interview in NYC. I would be first on line! All your videos are great, and please keep up the good works. And congrats on the book anniversary!


  10. I haven’t read 4HWW in a while, so thanks for the refresher, and I was on the fence about signing up for getfriday, but am definitely interested in getsunday. Keep up the good work.

  11. Also, since I can’t find any email address for you, which isn’t surprising considering your comments about it, I am wondering how to decide on a business to start. I know that I’ll be good at whatever i do, I am just having a hard time deciding.


    Hi Sean,

    No worries. I’d recommend you reread the “automation” section of the book and then jump onto the reader-only forums you see above in the nav bar. Good luck!


  12. I would ask one thing for future such talks: when someone asks a question, repeat the question, or give the questioners a microphone! It was not possible to hear the questions. (This was done once throughout the question and answer period.)

    From what I remember of high school Latin, “reductio ad absurdum” is correct. 😉

    Interesting that you use your middle finger to point to yourself when you talk about the 80/20 rule with your customers that you no longer pro-actively chased… did you realise that? 😉

    Time under tension is an interesting concept, and one I have used myself… have you considered expounding that on your blog?

    Lucid dreaming! Yes! It’s something I am fascinated with too… unfortunately, I seem too much (to myself) like a coma victim (or at worst, a corpse) while sleeping. 😉

    Excellent interview. We need more of these! 🙂

  13. It was great to see this interview now I just finished reading your book yesterday.

    I really am wondering though, being a creative person myself, how could all the outsourcing techniques etc. be applied on artists, composers, graphic designers, as we are the only ones who can make our product. I was already wondering about this while reading the book. Any ideas?


    Hi Farfield,

    Funny you should ask. I might be speaking at an event May 8th about this exactly. Will keep you guys posted 🙂


  14. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for linking this. I have a question that has been on my mind since reading the 4hww. Perhaps you can do a blog post on this: What are your feelings on handling investment risk while finding a muse? Do you typically try a couple of ideas (@$1000 -web development plus market testing — each) and see which one sticks?

  15. I found that this was a very informative and interesting interview, well worth the time it takes to watch it.

    I especially liked the discussion of “The 4-Hour Workweek”‘s original title and the unorthodox testing methods you used to determine the best title (google adwords) and especially the way you picked the best cover design! Did you just go in the bookstore, set them up, and watch people? People must have looked confused by the “decoy” book if they actually opened and started reading. Hopefully nobody tried to buy it! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this. It is a great idea. As long as no employees noticed. But even if they did, what’s the worst that could happen? not much.

    I didn’t have any problems hearing the audio, but I couldn’t hear the questions from the audience. I mostly was able to figure out what they asked in context. I think that Tim’s style in the interview is great, very relaxed and approachable.

    I don’t agree with Doc Kane’s suggestion to get a vocal/speech coach. Being relaxed is better than being too prepared/polished. If a speaker comes off too polished and forceful, it can make him seem less real and less believable.

    Great job Tim!

  16. Could someone post the approx time that Tim talks about the fitness metrics? Id like to see that part but theres no damn way Im watching 1 hr 11 min to find it or spending 20 minutes jumping around, too.

    THANKS! 🙂

  17. I am glad he cleared up the email thing. Many people were misunderstanding what he meant.

  18. Completely off-topic: I couldn’t help noticing how your crossed your legs Tim. The bottom of your shoes is facing your interviewer. Rings a bell?

    Maybe not… In my culture, it’s really rude!

  19. For those intrigued by the personal happiness issue…

    Not believing in personal happiness is one assumption that I recommend you do question. You might be surprised at how happy you can become when you do this.

    Project into the future 20 years or more and where will that belief take you? I´m serious. I´ve seen it myself as I spend a lot of time in locations with unhappy successful people. It´s not a pleasant sight.

    Thankfully, there are workable solutions.And you will find them as soon as you allow in the possibility that personal happiness can be attained.

    Make happiness a priority and you´d be surprised how it keeps popping up!

  20. Tim,

    As Farfield brought up, I too was trying to figure out ways to apply 4HWW techniques to my career choice. I am currently studying to become an acupuncturist. My “product” is in my hands. Although I love what I do, I would prefer to work only “4 hours” a week with my patients and have the rest of the time to pursue other interests. I am very interested in hearing more from your perspective. May 8th you might be speaking on it? Great!!

  21. Hi Tim, Thanks again for doing this talk. I was the guy in Dublin who organised the viewing there. It was great to have the opportunity to put questions to you directly about the book.

    It was a great way to spend one of my few weekly hours of work. 😉


  22. Hi Tim,

    Great interview!

    I am from Lithuania ( Baltic State) and I do not believe that we are going to take the ousourcing industry from India like you mentioned 🙂 it is the same comparison as for USA to take over the production industry from China 🙂

    We have much higher cost of living and more expensive work force then India and I do not see how we can be compared with Vietnam in your example. Please, Tim, next time check out the stats before declaring such things.




    Hi Paulius,

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t think the Baltic States will be taking 100% of the outsourcing work from India at all, but I do believe that Baltic, former Eastern Block, and South/Central American countries are well poised to become players who compete with India and take some % of the pie. It will take time, but this is what I believe.

    There’s a good Businessweek article on the “new economics of outsourcing” that shares some of the reasons.

    Thanks again for the contribution,


  23. Hi Tim, enjoyed the fireside chat and follow your blog/twitter/book etc. I’m a medical student (in NYC) and find your ideas / approach to things particularly refreshing, given that folks in med school / medicine is often fall on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of their way of thinking. That said, next time you’re in NYC, would you consider dropping by a top med school and talking to students / docs / scientists on where your vision fits in with their pursuits? I imagine this would be different from your typical audience, but If you have any interest, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll provide more details…

  24. Tim, quick question. You have an amazing vocabulary that seems to roll off your tongue. It’s clear that you’re naturally very intellectual, yet I’m wondering if you have “learned” to be smart and use intellectual vocab. I’ve heard great things about Paul Scheele’s work, like Paraliminals. Are you familiar with Paul’s work? I haven’t seen a blog post about “increasing your IQ or vocab”. Any quick tips?


  25. So where are these proposed improvements for Gmail? In the video, you only mentioned that you had some suggestions, but you never actually said what any of them were. Just curious.

  26. Proprietary info? I don’t think the masses will know until it is in beta testing 🙂



  27. OHHH…totally rude…or ON TOPIC…I was showing the bottom of my bare feet as I typed this. I spent the day at an art show selling and a lot of time PLANNING ( not yacking like tools) about things we were going to do better.


  28. Like Stephen above, I found the conversation surrounding personal vs. interpersonal happiness and the claim that you do not apply metrics to your social life the most interesting parts of this particular interview.

    I really value time spent alone and have probably had most of the peak experiences in my life while alone, but I still believe in the point you’ve made here regarding interpersonal happiness. Since it remains a tricky balancing act for me, I’d love to hear any additional thoughts on how you keep the peace between your distinct needs for solitude and socializing.

    As for the other topic, I don’t completely believe you refrain from using metrics in your emotional life. They have certainly come into play while outsourcing your dating or in your post about test driving friends. While I agree that keeping meticulous records of who owes who a beer or coffee is silly and insulting to lasting friendships, I think that metrics in relationships are important. Ephemeral, perhaps, but important.

    I remember arguing elsewhere on this blog that human relationships are sacred. I do not think that keeping metrics on them is in conflict with that basic premise. Whether we like it or not, relationships are transaction-oriented. It’s just that the currencies are different. Kindness, affection, honesty, sexual expression, compassion, humor are all currencies in their own ways.

    We’ve all had the experience of being emotionally drained by another person. Even if we keep no written record of it but we remember to avoid that person in the future, we’ve used a metric. If we’re already invested in a relationship with said draining person and therefore want to uncover and uproot the specific mechanism through which the emotional hemhorraging is taking place, we might coach the person to act differently or coach ourselves to react differently. Still, most of us will try this tactic a given number of times and no more before dismissing the exercise as effective or ineffective. This, too, is a metric. Perhaps it’s a metric more dependent on internal definitions than objective ones, but I still think it’s a metric.

    I suppose the entire concept is limited primarily by how accurate our internal definitions are in the first place. I think we can structure relationships similarly to the way be structure businesses. Both often seem to be defined by a prior experience of what we realize we don’t want. A business on auto-pilot? Cool. A relationship on auto-pilot? Also cool.

  29. Exercise excerpts: 00:04:51 and then again about time under tension metric at the 1:00:00 mark

    Tim/Amy/et al: how did you arrive at good date-bad date metrics for your outsource teams? Could you give some examples of your criteria? Trying to reconcile this with your not being “data driven” about relationships and your assertion in the open q&a that character judgement is visceral vs. heavily analytical.

  30. Hey, Zo, just wanted to peek back in to address your comments about my suggestion that Tim consider a few speech lessons. For the record, I’m not suggesting that he become an operatic singer or some sort of blow-hard on stage, but just learn to use his voice a bit more powerfully. After a quick swing-through to your own blog, I notice you’re in Toastmasters. As you go through their program, I’m sure you’ll pick up on what I’m alluding to in the post. I too agree that Tim’s style, which is laid-back, yet deliberate in delivery, is a strong point in getting across his message, and it parallels his writing style and general approachability. I also think it would be nice to hear everything he says. 🙂 Alas, if he didn’t choose to boost his vocal projection a bit, at least having the sound guys prepared to handle his style would be a welcome improvement in my opinion. Good luck with your own lifestyle tweaks, looks like you’re up to some cool stuff as well!

  31. @Christine,

    Don’t we all have criteria data metrics when we are looking for a mate? Many of us have, height, fitness, intelligence, humor and similar common interests “requirements” to increase the attraction probability? The only thing you can’t train outsource personnel is to feel a spark or good vibes. Isn’t that the fun in dating?

    I do have to say, I now regret not going out with some really good guys due to my personal criteria of my past. My goal this year is to get out of my dating box (he-he) and minus any axe murders, open the playing field even more. I may be missing someone awesome if I stick to certain physical criteria vs personality and compatibility. Besides I am a chick, for me if the guy is smart and funny that trumps physical aspects most times. I have dated guys who by my original physical requirements I would have passed over but won me over by being smart, funny, and interesting. Sometimes the universe knows better than me, so I am open to the possibilities. 🙂



  32. @Christine and @Jennifer

    I am embarking on a “Lifestyle Design” experiment in this regard at present. It wouldn’t be prudent for me to say too much here right now, but hopefully I’ll have some interesting results within a month or so.

    For basic relationships, I’m typically more concerned with traits that are absent from men, rather than the ones they possess. For instance, the absence of possessiveness, jealousy, controlling tendencies, etc. is more important to me than almost anything else. I’ve found that once a relationship is infected with any of those issues, they often spread out of control like viruses, and almost always trigger some sort of self-fulfilling doomsday prophecy.

    I guess I’m applying the “low expectations” approach to relationship happiness in this regard. Speaking from my own experiences, I can say that it has definitely worked better for me than a high expectation approach.

    I’ve been working on some articles about relationships. I constantly find myself giving relationship advice to friends, acquaintances and even my own mother – so I’m starting to take what I have to say more seriously. I will try to make my stuff publicly available soon. I’ll re-post here when I do, assuming Tim lets me. ; )

  33. Tim, I know this is a bit off, but, have you used or reviewed the amazon kindle – allowing us to get books wirelessly…or is this too connected for you still?

    I guess all technology is about making the move to “get it now”? Kinda scarey, b/c I love books….just wondering what you have heard or your thoughts on the amazon kindle?




    Hi Zach,

    I think the Kindle is great for traveling light, but I enjoy taking notes in books too much to do it when at home. Hope that helps 🙂


  34. Just my two cents worth…

    Bikram’s alright – provides a decent yoga buzz. Ashtanga incorporates whole categories of poses that Bikram eliminates (arm balances, inversions and more). It creates just as good a sweat without relying on the heat of the room to provide the illusion of intensity.

    I sent Amy a lead for a swimming coach.

  35. Hey Tim

    Ridicules Interview

    I really like that you are doing all this to help us all out, appreciate it. It would be awesome if you could have more of these. Also if you could do one on starting up an automated business or even have other people who have, give advice about it would be awesome. Do you think you are going to do any talks down in Florida in the near future?

  36. Gmail.


    You are a tease.


    Hmmmm… did they edit them out? Seriously, they had joked they might have to. Interesting…


  37. Thanks for the words of wisdom Tim. Your book was phenomenal and I’m happy you shared this video. Most appreciated….

  38. Thanks for writing a very informative book. You are the man! I’ve finally found someone who I can look up and aspire to be like one day! I definitely want to own businesses but not run them in the 20th century way. I’m hoping you post more video interviews. I’d like to see video of your insight in how you automated BrainQuicken or just the topic of automation itself. You still own this business? Thanks again!

  39. Tim,

    What are your thoughts on products from MLMs such as Quixtar? Are those qualified as muses? What about products from say Amazon as part of their affiliate marketing program? Any advice is appreciated.

    Loved the book!


    Hi T,

    I don’t personally recommend MLMs as what I’ve seen is bad, and the structures seemed designed to make a few people rich, not produce good products or wealth distribution, no matter what they claim.

    Just my 2 cents,


  40. I’ll probably show just how much of a non-techie I am with this question, but I want to download the audio of your interviews and listen to them on my ipod. Is that possible?


    Hi Mark,

    I’m sure there is a YouTube scraper someone can recommend, but I don’t know. Can anyone help on this?


  41. Saw the interview. Loved the part where you discussed about the book’s cover (going to a bookshop & seeing which one was picked up the most).

    My personal views on the cover – loved the hardcover book. BUT dint like the softcover as much. The softcover design did not give the impression that it would have such serious and amazing information/techniques inside.

    Anyway… by any chance, is it possible to upload images of all the bookcovers you had considered before deciding on one? Curious to know.

    Take care

  42. Hey Tim!

    I like that you use economic concepts but ‘pareto optimality’ refers to something completely different: it means that a given equilibrium in the market could not be changed without making one or more persons worse of. In other words: both producers and consumers are benefitting from the situation.

    The 80-20% rule is a well-known management concept, but it isn’t used in economics!

    Love your work,

    many greetings!

  43. Re: Ask Sunday- Tim, What is your experience with Ask Sunday. How does it compare to Get Friday? I just signed up but am not sure I like it. It seems to be a boatload cheaper, and when I think of that I always hear the saying you hear from so many people, which I truly dislike and is definitely not all encompassing “you get what you pay for”. Have you used this yourself, or know anyone directly who has?


    Hi Sean,

    I”ve been using AskSunday for about 6 months and love it. I’ve been very happy with results thus far, and their response time is excellent in my experience. Good English from Manila as well 🙂


  44. Thanks. I will evaluate it for a little longer then. My first impressions were mixed. I wasn’t getting responses very quickly, and I was not sure if they were acknowledging my requests.

  45. Tim, did you find that in the beginning you were feeling out individual AskSunday responders until you found one that you liked in particular, or a few?

    You might not have been doing this personally, but through other assistants. (its like an ant colony after a while I bet).



  46. good chat, i’m seeing trends in your wordage and what questions get asked from video to video over the years…glad that now late 2009 its less about validation and more about emulation (from what i can tell)

    the amounts of research you must have gone through in 30 years sometimes seems baffling…just mentioned here was linguistics and just how you approach questions, wordage, references…i wonder how much of it you’ve just happened to learn or tackled with tenacity pre-book and purpose of life heh.

  47. Hi Tim:

    I just finished that video and it’s really a pleasure getting to know you through your blog. I’m learning a lot from you but I’m also pleased to discover there are other people with similar interests and thinking.

    I find that so few people put so much forethought in their decisions. It is amazing how much you analyze and use some sort of data in your choices–the way you chose your book cover for example. As you mentioned, that was a small sample, but an incredibly brilliant idea.

    You mentioned Jiu Jitsu. That is one of, if not my first, passions in life. Are you pretty serious about it–train often? With or without the gi? One of the best times of my life was a three week trip to Brazil just to train Jiu Jitsu during the Mundials. It was probably the most amazing experience of my life.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing in your blog.


  48. Have been interested to hear and read some of your time management comments, particularly about the less amount of data that you like to look at. I recall a book that I read, Leadership Lessons of the US Marines I think it was, referenced the 60% solution. Basically they feel that once you have 60% of the information you have an actionable solution. Waiting any longer and the battlefield circumstances changes

  49. The original title was very interesting. I wonder what type of controversy it would have created. I bet you sales still would have been great.