The Art of Speed: Conversations with Monster Makers

The “Art of Speed” panel at SXSW: Evan Williams, Cali Lewis, Mike Cassidy, Tim Ferriss (Photo: vantan)

I had a blast organizing and moderating the “Art of Speed” panel at the incredible SXSW conference a few months ago. It was standing room only (at least from what I could see), and I learned a ton from some of the best at creating monster hits.

Here is the recording for those of you who missed it. It’s about 60 minutes total but can be listened to comfortably in little chunks.

The description:

The Art of Speed: Conversations with Monster Makers

This session will focus on how to accomplish huge things in little time. From near-overnight IPOs and massive cult followings, to instant NY Times bestsellers and runaway viral campaigns, learn tricks from those who have created monsters of buzz, fame, and fortune…

The panelists:

Evan Williams – co-founder Twitter/Obvious

Evan is the founder of Obvious Corp, a San Francisco-based web product development company and co-founder of Twitter (my Twitter here — full post on uses/abuses of Twitter coming soon), a micro-blogging and social networking site. He was also a co-creator of the software used as the basis for Blogger, one of the first web applications for creating and managing blogs. Blogger was acquired by Google.

Mike Cassidy – Benchmark Capital (Name unfamiliar? Click here.)

Mike has been the Co-Founder and CEO of three start-ups: Xfire (acquired by MTV for $110M), Direct Hit (acquired by for $500M), and Stylus Innovation (acquired by Artisoft for $13M). Mike has a BS and MS in Aerospace Engineering from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Cali Lewis – host and producer of GeekBrief.TV

Cali is the host of GeekBrief.TV, a three to five minute video podcast, covering new technologies, consumer electronics, and Web 2.0 projects. Along with her husband, Neal Campbell, they started GeekBrief.TV on December 23rd, 2005. Five months later, they began producing the show full time with support from PodShow Network and advertisers. Cali has co-hosted Call For Help with Leo Laporte, and appears regularly on MSNBC and The Lab with Leo Laporte.

Tim Ferriss (that’s me)

Please note that I was asked to also be a panelist and not just the moderator, so I’m participating in the discussion, not being a mic hog 🙂

Hope you enjoy it!

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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51 Replies to “The Art of Speed: Conversations with Monster Makers”

  1. A must listen for all, thanks for sharing.

    Its real Brain food was very interested to hear the scale of how quick the panellist business went from zero to hero so quickly with critical mass.


  2. Great event and very worthwhile time spent listening to the entire recording.

    Some great points by some of the more successful folks in the New Media space.

  3. Very interesting talk, from someone who enjoyed your book, but how would you respond to those who say you delete comments or edit your videos to eliminate any critisim or those who challenge your “teachings” or “methods”?


    Hi JT,

    Hmmm… I’d first ask them to read through the comments on the more controversial posts like “How to Test Drive Friends and Irritate People” or any of the diet/training posts. There are plenty of skeptics.

    I do have moderators delete rude commenters who don’t contribute to the debate, however. I have no time for trolls, and neither do most of my readers, so I make no apologies about keeping my blog a nice place to read and write. I treat this blog like my living room: if a friend comes over and wants to disagree without being a jerk, I’m all for having some wine and going at it intellectually; if someone curses and throws around sarcasm and attacks in excess, they’re asked to leave and never come back.

    In an online world of declining etiquette, I try hard to maintain some semblance of civility on this one. Just my choice.

    Hope that helps,


  4. Great stuff.

    I’ve been hearing about Twitter for so long.

    Is it making any money for the owners yet?

    Isn’t just another attention/time waster?

    Who’s twitters do you subscribe to, Tim?

    I guess it’s time I signed up to see what all the fuss is about.


  5. Back @TimFerriss,

    A great discussion on whether or not JKD & MMA are related can be found in Teri Tom’s excellent book – The Straight Lead. Fact is JKD is more like Western Fencing than anything else. Most of the book covers how to throw a single punch – The Straight Lead – which is referred to as The Core of Bruce’s JKD. I have never once seen anyone throw a true straight lead in the Octagon…

    Have a blast in Greece!


  6. Killing me with the long audio, but I’m sure it’s more the worth the listen.

    (By the way, I’m 18 and after realizing the need the financial independence and just one that always is looking at the best way to do something, your quite the ‘guru’. I discovered a lot of things on my own.. such as Internet Marketing and selling information products, healthy eating habits and workings it. But its still nice to have ONE person who seems to truly ‘get it’. I loved that you tested the book cover and names. As I’m slowly becoming a New Rich at a young age, it helps to have a mentor to lead the way a little bit.)

    Your Friend,


  7. Tim

    Enjoyed catching up with you at Sydney party and discussing the impact of social media in your marketing strategy.

    This post is another great primer for those looking at non-traditional methods at reaching big audiences and getting stuff done. Love it.



  8. Hola! Tim!

    Nice post, I think this is the first audio you made available that did not have video with it. Is it possible to put this recording on your ipod and if so where do I go to learn how? Enjoy the food and the islands : )


    Jose Castro-Frenzel

  9. Listened to this when it became available on the SXSW site (in the car, of course!).

    You all make a great case for the value of fast innovation. As you address in the book, sometimes our perfectionism is our worst enemy!

  10. @TimFerriss


    i’m a 24-year-old webstie manager for luxury retail company and after reading your book i’m very close to giving an ultimatum to my boss….let me work remotely or i quit. the company needs me badly so i definitely have bargaining power. my only doubt….will working remotely (from home) really change anything? won’t i still be stuck to the 9-5, the only difference is that i’m at home? i need time to work on my t-shirt company!!!!

    ….great book!



  11. Hola Tim, muy bueno tu libro, me lo estoy leyendo rapido !!

    Es muy impactante.. te abre la mente

    Hablas español? supongo que algo no? estuviste en Argentina aprendiendo Tango y tu compañera Natalie hablará..

    Sí no te escribo en inglés…

    un saludo

  12. I’m sure this is amazing, but I’m practicing the art of speed and was wondering if anyone typed in notes of highlights from the 60-minute vid that they could post in the comments. Many thanks in advance.

  13. Hi Tim – what’s the best place to ask you questions not related to your latest post? Do you read questions posted on old posts… like many weeks ago? Or do you only see questions/comments from your latest post?

  14. Tim,

    Great audio! I really enjoyed the referral email script you gave. It really is quite easy to reach the “untouchables” a simple email, phone call, or referral introduction and you are right IN!

    I’d really like to hear more about the process that you taught the students on how to reach them. I remember hearing a while back of the trip you offered…

    I think it would be a killer idea on your blog to give the free trip around the world to whom reaches the most influential “untouchables.”

    Challenges are a great way to motivate people.

    Thanks for the audio Tim.


  15. Dear Tim,

    Thanks for the continued original and enlightening posts. More importantly, you’re in the Greek Islands!

    The first, best thing you can do is rent a scooter and get some freedom of movement. My favourite island was Paros – low-key and big enough to do some real exploring. We got lost looking for the marble mines the Venus de Milo came from. Ended up at an ancient fruit farm run by a couple of elderly brothers (one named Minas – hence we followed signs there). Fresh figs, fresh almond, great characters.

    Have fun!


  16. Tim,

    Just wondering If there is any way you can post this as some sort of pod cast? I am going to Aruba this week and I would love to listen to this on the long plane ride. Thanks in advance, and keep up the good work.

  17. I very much enjoyed this audio. There were some great questions and great answers.



  18. @Mike: “If there is any way you can post this as some sort of pod cast?”

    You should be able to right-click using your mouse and download the file, then simply transfer it to your mp3 player.

  19. Tim, thanks for the awesome audio, very gracious thank you! I have given your book to many of my colleagues….I am set w/plans to resign on january 2nd, 2009 🙂

    I think I am getting a bit of a posse to follow….your book will be their ticket to get rolling!

    Best to you bro!


  20. Thanks Tim for sharing the audio. I loved listening to it.

    I especially loved the tip on why you should network with people ahead of time. And why you should hire people who love building relationships without purpose.

    My true story: I used to write 1 thank you letter a day, everyday. And spending that 50-70 cents everyday in printing the letter and mailing it changed my fortunes.

    Because of the thank you letters, I got CEOs to contact me back, received job offers and partnership offers, free tickets to workshops and books and a lot more cool things…

  21. Tim, may I suggest an audio section for the site. Maybe put this,the original SXSW mp3, google, etc. together for easy Ipod access. The more how-to style stuff we can get, the better.

  22. I agree completely with Mike on his 1st day pet peeve. It took my new job 6 weeks to get my own e-mail, since they didn’t start the switching branch contacts until after I got hired.

    They made an issue of how much they wanted me during interview and this screw up (along with a few other ‘little things) happens. My 90 day review is coming and I’m hoping to get some resolution. As much as I love my job, the environment is making me look at other companies.

  23. I just wanted to leave a comment on how I am enjoying your book, since this seems to be the best way to get your attention. I read that you traveled to Japan also. I am in Tokyo for a month and wondered if you will be in the neighborhood in the next 20 days. Would love to just chill over a beer.

    Do you have any plans to come out with a resource to travel effectively and efficiently in different countries or cities?

  24. holly S(*&! – mike freakin’ cassidy



    smartest guy ever?

    true gems revealed

    very sick

    thanks tim for sharing

  25. (Off topic)

    An inspired horoscope for Tim Ferriss:

    Your invitation to explore new places will be like music to a special someone’s ears (female). Be persistent.

    Take care to extend yourself to meet someone out of your usual circle of friends. You will be pleasantly surprised by this up and comer’s intellect and creativity (male).

    -From a budding horoscope writer.

  26. I finally found time to listen to this podcast. It was great, I got a lot of good nuggets of useful information. I especially like the advice from Mike regarding team building and setting the pace for new hires. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.


  27. Tim, I read your book and realized the dating site I’ve had for 5 years is the answer to my dream of being free from a cube where I will rot and die. I have been working on … and several niche specific dating sites even more in hopes to some day have enough income to live anywhere I choose. Thanks for keeping me motivated and letting me know that I’m on the right path!



    Thanks for the comment, Rand! Sorry to remove the URL, but pls see the comment policy above the comment box.

    T and Co.

  28. Dear Tim,

    I read your book today.

    First, thanks for your ideal sharing.

    but, I don’t understand your opinion on book.

    It has a expersonal world, So I can’t accept your think.

    To many reader is more happy, it’s better some example of your book.

  29. Unreal! Really good stuff. My head is spinning.

    (Tim – I love the well deserved applause when you introduce yourself).

  30. Hey Tim!

    I bought your book yesterday and started to read it tonight after a hot date. Anyway, I got to page 50 before I had to email you. So, here I am. Like you, I sometimes try to reach out to celebrities I admire and ask some questions. Last year, I wanted to hang out with John Mayer since he is a musical hero of mine. I didn’t get to meet him, but I did talk to him on the phone. Also, I wanted to talk to Tom DeLonge of Blink 182 and got to do that in-person. He actually asked me for feedback on his live shows–very cool. Last year I thought it might be fun to interview Mandy Moore and ask her if she would be interested in designing a T-shirt for charity. That didn’t work out, but because of that idea, I became a concert photographer at a few shows for some of my favorite bands. And now I’m contacting you. Anyway, I was hoping to get a challenge from you similar to the one you offered the Princeton students on page 49. A long shot–yes–but I figured I’d ask. A lot of people don’t realize how much fun you can have if you just ask. It’s pretty simple and plus… I’d really, really like to get that round trip ticket.

    Hit me back,


  31. Did you unconsciously coined a new word/concept? At about 13 min 50 second in the Podcast, you say “over-mation” instead of overwhelm. In the concept of an information diet, it’s interesting. Too much food – overweight, too much information – overmation.

    Why not use overmationed, when you are given too much information to make an enlightened decision? 😉

    Good day to all!

  32. Thank you thank you than you, and sxsw for sharing the hour long audio. I listened to it once this morning and will probably listen to it again tomorrow morning. Certainly made my temp job much more fun and inspiring for the day.

    The second it was done I sent the link to a bunch of my clients and family and told them to forward it to everyone they knew, people couldn’t get more then 5 minutes into it before replying to me to say how great it was. Really good fun stuff especially the talk about how employers tend to, um mistreat or undervalue employee relations and ‘happiness’ I’ve seen many companies first hand destroyed from the inside out. Some panel discussions and interviews can tend to feel safe or bland this one felt very honest, humble, exciting and motivating.

    bravo … good stuff!

  33. Question:

    I’ve got an idea for a web2.0 business, but I have pretty much no programming skills, so I don’t know where to start. Is there a guide of some sort out there that tells you what personnel you need to start a web business, and basically how a web business is structured?

    Thanks in advance!

    – Anthony

  34. Hi Tim,

    I am reading your book right now and I have an idea right now. A great idea if you ask my opinion and that of my wife and her Pilates instructor.It is about a fitness workout which I would like to put on a DVD/CD. Now I am not so good at ITC and feel I need support there. I got inspiration for the idea through your book but would need some more practical info esp. on how to test my idea without spending too much money. Any Tim Feriss clones who give workshops in Europe (Belgium with its European capital Brussels) and can share some experiences ? I feel my question – as my project – is not completely worked out, but any hint will help, I feel I am going through a phase in my life where my main challenge is to materialize financial wealth and learning to be in the receiving mode (not an easy one for me). For the moment I am one of the only guys distributing bamboo textile products in Europe (great market potential, big interest, money spent in stock…, ) and still online sales are poor, to give you an example. So this gives me time to launch a second “smarter” project. I am a former gymnast and also shiatsu therapist so I have a good connection with my body and what happens inside there on a mechanical level. I also have a big family with 6 children now and my dream is to be able to support them in all ways, Thanks anyway for inspiring me and so being able to inspire my children and talk about you as an example of what is possible as they grow up. I will here from you. thx

  35. Hi Tim,

    I bet you dont have too much time to communicate with people especially with the frequency of your checking emails (1 hr a week) but i hope i will get an answer from you to my email or what not.

    Im reading your book for the second time now and i love everything, i will go forward with setting somehing uyp but the only problem is that it looks like the book was written in American manner and i meant to ask you: Do u have any special requirements to people outside US in other countries (like Russia)? I mean du know of any specific things I could do over here instead of US? Im sure i can but im in doubts of contributing to a new business that could fall apart due to the lack of my business skills….any answer wil be appreciated! Thank you, Lily

  36. This was a great post. I did not know what I was missing this year at SXSW.

    Thanks for posting and I appreciate the inspiration.