How to Feel Like the Incredible Hulk in 2009

The above video is of my presentation at the Entertainment Gathering, titled “How to Feel Like the Incredible Hulk.” In a short 17 minutes, I explain exactly how I conquered fears of swimming, language learning, and ballroom dancing by questioning “obvious” guidelines and dogmatic teaching.

I explain three approaches (first principles/assumptions, material over method, and implicit vs. explicit) you can immediately apply to your own lifelong goals, or lifelong fears, to become the new-and-improved you in record time in 2009.

This is one of my favorite presentations I’ve ever done. Perhaps because it was so short! Special thanks to Terry Laughlin of Total Immersion for the photographs of swimming biomechanics.

For students of Japanese, the closest equivalent to the featured kanji poster that I could find online is here.

I hope you enjoy the talk as much as I enjoyed giving it!

Other Presentations from the EG

Dozens of presentations were mind-blowing but few are online at this point. Here are two I found hysterical (makes my OCD look normal) and brilliant (makes me look like a knuckle dragger), from Adam Savage of Mythbusters and the superhuman intellect Amory Lovins, respectively:

[Ed. Note: This video no longer available. Please enjoy a different talk by Adam Savage—this one from the 2012 EG.]

Before you watch Amory’s video, read this abbreviated bio – I suspect he is also Batman:

Cofounder and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Amory B. Lovins is a consultant experimental physicist educated at Harvard and Oxford. He has received an Oxford MA (by virtue of being a don), nine honorary doctorates, a MacArthur Fellowship, the Heinz, Lindbergh, Right Livelihood (“Alternative Nobel”), World Technology, and TIME Hero for the Planet awards, the Happold Medal, and the Nissan, Shingo, Mitchell, and Onassis Prizes. His work focuses on transforming the hydrocarbon, automobile, real estate, electricity, water, semiconductor, and several other sectors toward advanced resource productivity. He has briefed eighteen heads of state, held several visiting academic chairs, authored or co-authored twenty-nine books and hundreds of papers, and consulted for scores of industries and governments worldwide. Newsweek has praised him as “one of the Western world’s most influential energy thinkers”; and Car magazine ranked him the twenty-second most powerful person in the global automotive industry.

[Ed. Note: This video no longer available. Please enjoy a different talk by Amory Lovins—this one from the 2012 EG.]

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.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

137 Replies to “How to Feel Like the Incredible Hulk in 2009”

  1. That was a fantastic presentation Tim. It’s helpful to show people what they can really do if they learn how to do it (the right way).

  2. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for sharing this presentation. I had pick up a few points from you where I can become more effective in life. Thanks.



    Personal Development Blogger

  3. Hi Tim,

    Love the video, but not sure if you’re aware that the last two minutes are cut off. Fora seems to preview the first 15 minutes and there is a Watch Full Video link that doesn’t seem to work.


  4. Tim it is a great video, but i am curious about the end of the presentation. Can we find all the video in youtube?

  5. Tim, Excellent! Thanks for sharing. I find you approach very intriguing and will definitely try to take your advice to heart and apply your methods and approach when taking on life’s and my own personal challenges. Good stuff!

    @Jake – I was able to get the Fora Full Video to work. I had to refresh my browser window once I got to the page to get it to load, but it did.

  6. I like how you break down the complexity in a rational way.

    PS… I can’t believe you intentionally lost 45 lbs of muscle mass for the dance competition!!

  7. Great presentation. Thoughtful, concise and well-spoken.

    My mind latched onto your final comment about schools.

    I hope that you, me and all other concerned people come up with the solution for the American public school system soon. It is the most noble cause we have in this country and the greatest investment in a better world.

    My family is filled with teachers and educators and having been around schools my whole life we need a new paradigm. Education is the business of building the future and we need to approach it that way.

    I could go on for days, but instead I’ll just say thanks for putting your mind to the solution and for sharing your expertise with us.

  8. Tim,

    I suppose you just pulled that stuff about Amory off his website. Here are a few fun facts: “educated at Harvard” is not the same as “awarded a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts from Harvard” and “received an Oxford MA (by virtue of being a don)” did not seem to be the same as “earned a Master of Arts in Physics at Oxford.”

    Mr. Lovins entered Harvard in 1964 and dropped out in early fall 1965 “due to some knee problems”. He returned to the school in the fall of 1966, only to drop out less than a year later. His explanation to Harvard Magazine in 2004 was that the reason was “largely because I ignored the normal curriculum structure.”

    After leaving Harvard, he entered Oxford in 1967. In an interview posted published by in April 2001 titled The Pro-Business Nature Boy Mr. Lovins admitted to being equally unstructured at Oxford. Here is how he described his academic career to Damien Cave.

    “I slowly decided to move from academia to activism,” he says. “In 1971 I was doing graduate work in physics at Oxford, and the problems I was working on were interesting, but not nearly as important as the [environmental] ones I was reading about. So it gradually occurred to me that if I wasn’t part of the solution to those problems, I was part of the problem. So I left academic life.”

    Again, that description did not sound to me like there was a graduation and a diploma involved.

    It seems to me that Mr. Lovins, who is famous as a convincing author and energy visionary, probably does not have an academic degree that is the result of following a prescribed course of study in an accredited institution of higher learning. I am not aware of any particular restriction on calling oneself a “physicist”, but I would imagine that most people who use that designation have at least one and probably more formal academic degrees. Honorary degrees do not normally count for much.

    For more information

  9. Hi All,

    Please note: to not get cut off two minutes short, you need to click on the play button, then click again on “watch full program” at the bottom right. Why? That’s a good question for the people.

    Seems like a great way to drive everyone with videos to upload on another video hosting site; and drive your viewers nuts 🙂

    If anyone finds this video on YouTube , please let us all know in the comments.

    All the best,


  10. Tim,

    Great presentation. I was able to watch the whole video by clicking on the watch full program button.

    I have become quite fascinated by your methods of decronstructing tasks that are challenging to me. I have been learning a new language, and these techniques work well. I imagine they work well in just about any situation. Everything we learn is just a series of smaller tasks or information linked together. It’s amazing what we can comprehend or learn to do if we find a way to make sense of it.

    Also, just wanted to say, great dance moves in the video! 😉

  11. The full video link worked for me. I know a 5 year that throws things around “Hulk style”. He even has the gloves that make smashing sounds + Hulk roars. The best part is that he really believes he IS Hulk when he has them on. Classic. Maybe you should get some! 😉

    Our educational system is seriously lagging here. Can we tackle health care next? Everything is ridiculously inefficient. What kind of information are you looking for? Curriculum? Models of school systems in other countries? Are you talking about primary education? Or anything that works? Its a great topic. 🙂

  12. I had to close the browser multiple times and reload, and then jump to where it blew up the last time, but I did get to watch the whole thing.

    This is probably my favorite of all of your talks. Not only do we get to learn a little bit more about you, we see the process of hitting the brick wall and then using strategy and ingenuity to scale it rather than try to crash through it.

    BTW, my friend who speaks fluent Japanese (Sherry who arranged the Tesla ride) said your language skills are off the hook! In Trial By Fire you spoke like a native! Now I understand precisely how you did it. I’ll have to try language again using this technique, because right now all I got is “Muchos Mas Margaritas Por Favor”. 🙂

    1. Hi Tim,

      I know this was eons ago, but would you happen to have an updated link to the Kanji poster you mention or suggestion on how to find it? The link now directs to movie “JCVD” on iTunes.

      Kind regards,

      Don Macfarlane


  13. Enjoyed the presentation, Tim. Very thoughtful especially the piece on public education. The methods you described seem to go well with the show you did on the History Channel. I’d be interested to see how well these skills could be taught and learned. –Gennaro

  14. Hi Tim,

    Very good stuff. I’ve been following the Life-Hacking Revolution for half a year now…it is super interesting.

    Much of what you gave in the presentation is similar to other discussions you have been a part of. The new thing I came away with in this video was the concept that fear is more often a signal of something you SHOULD be doing, rather than SHOULDN’T be doing.

    I am excited to list my fears and conquer them this year.


    Mike Tieden

  15. Very cool.

    I expected to find a link to Hulk Hands, but I think your approach is more sustainable and effective. But you have to admit, Hulk Hands do look cool.

    Great choice of presentations.

  16. Baller video ferris. As a young guy in random nowheresville canada, I have to say you completely inspire me to become better than myself.

  17. At this time of year the mind turns to new ideas and challenges for the coming months. This video inspires and gives us no excuses, anything can be done if you apply the right techniques.

    My plan is to learn piano in the next 12 months so I can play in the new year 2010 (also my 40th birthday!). Time to start deconstructing and learning!

  18. Hola Senor Ferriss!

    Your edu plans ignited my curiosity. From the presentation I got the impression, that you want to change mostly the motivating, incentive aspects of public education. Is it so, or you think bigger, let’s say a new complex method (ala montessori), which includes special motivating environment, better learning materials (textbooks suck), test system, nasa technology, etc.?

    I’m sure you’ve read the Learning Revolution by J. Vos. In the book she introduced some experimental schools. Do you find any of them close to your own vision?

  19. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for the video, it’s a very informative presentation and I learnt a lot from it.

    I especially liked the tip about leading with the arm in tango, because as a beginner I find it difficult to lead with the chest alone. Will try it out when I get the chance.


    P.S. I was actually inspired to take up tango classes after reading your story in the book and on this blog. 🙂

  20. Tim,

    Bingo! I am currently learning Chinese here in Taiwan. I was quickly getting frustrated until I managed to get a set of flashcards from the local Mormon missionaries! I figure, they seem to learn more quickly than anyone else, so lets see what they are doing different. They are the 3000 most frequently used Chinese characters organized from the most to least frequently used. It seams that although 3000 are needed for full fluency, 80% of all words and phrases are comprised by the 1st 500 characters.

    Now it’s like playing tetris! Just learn more characters and fit them in to commonly used sentences.

    One thing I missed in your explanation, the number one most important aspect = desire/passion to learn. Perhaps this is a no-brainer for you, has been priority for me.

    Kudos! Thanks

  21. Tim,

    Aside from the show, have you considered putting materials out there for helping people learn the stuff you are doing? You could put out a “Learn Italian with Tim Ferriss” book, or a “Tim Ferris teaches Surfing”, etc. Your notes and the real content would be priceless.

    Keep the videos coming. May I suggest a video/presentations tab at the top. This would make tracking all your videos a little easier as the blog grows in size.

  22. In the Amory B. Lovins video he briefly mentions houses without a furnace in the rocky mountains.

    Google “Passive House” Already popular design in Germany, it is a combination of super insulation, heat exchanger technology (recycling the heat you already have) and maximizing site selection.

    Agreed, we are the change we were waiting for!

  23. great post Tim. As an educator, I hope you need to continue to pursue your goals of education reform. Trends toward chronic assessment of critical thinking skills and inquiry based learning may be humankind’s only salvation.

    -pura vida hermano

  24. Thank you, thank you! A very enjoyable video — thanks for sharing it with us. I really enjoy the posts where you share your “how to” skills that could greatly impact how people live their life.

    If you have the time and the inclination, it would be wonderful to hear your tips on how you stay organized and achieve the ambitious goals and dreams that make life so exciting for you.

    Specifically, how do you think of and organize the many individual steps that are required to achieve a “big goal” or dream. What works best for you?

    i.) do you create a detailed, written road-map for each dream or goal? I assume you do (or do you keep this in your head?).

    ii.) do use a more “visual” mind-mapping system (vision boards perhaps?) or a more traditional gantt chart/bulleted milestone?

    iii.) do you rely on hand-written journals or a specific project management software program?

    iv.) would you be willing to share with us visually via photos what your dream/action system actually looks like?

    Tim, I realize you are busy and can’t reply to every post. If you have the desire to share the “how you do it”, it would be greatly appreciated (and I think interesting and valuable to many who follow your blog).

    Thanks again


  25. Tim, I am a great fan of your writing. I have to say that while I find this particular presentation interesting and entertaining, it’s also probably the one I’ve learned the least from. I suspect a lot of that has to do with the challenge of how much material you are able to fit into 17 minutes and the fact that you chose to discuss three separate examples rather than go into depth on one particular one.

    Honestly, I suspect you have enough material for a new book here (or at least a really interesting series of blog posts), but what I found myself wishing you had provided more detail on is:1) When you’re trying to master a new skill, how do you go about identifying the most useful experts to learn from? 2) What exactly do you mean by explicit and implicit key principles and 3) How do you go about identifying and mastering these?

    (Of course, now you have me hoping we’ll see more on this subject on future blog posts. 🙂 )

    All the best.

  26. Tim –

    interesting front page article today in The Oregonian that a “hick town” from my childhood in Oregon that has below average math tests scores in the local high school is now teaching algebra starting in the first grade and they are dramatically changing results!!

    There is hope !!

  27. Hi Tim,

    I would love more specifics on your language learning strategies. It was not clear enough for me from the video as to how to proceed. If I had been there, I would have definitely taken you up on the offer to ask more questions afterward.

    I have five children 12 and under, and I’ve always had a secret goal of empowering them to be multilingual. It would be great fun to create a program built on your principles for children — I’m thinking first of the homeschool crowd. (I have a degree in education, among my several degrees, and was a teacher for a couple of years, and now homeschool my children half day.)

    Any chance of getting an audio from you someday with more specifics about your approach?


  28. Hi Tim,

    We’re listening — we made a tweak to the embedded player so it will play through the entirety of all the E.g. presentations. Hope you enjoy.

    Your presentation is great!

    Sarah Kennon + Allan Claghorn

  29. I really loved what you had to say about learning Japanese, as I am also a lover of languages. I think it comes down to the fact that I am an extremely nosy person and can hardly bear to not know what is going on. My brother married a Japanese girl when I was about 11 and she brought her cousin over (to New Zealand) for the wedding who didn’t speak a word of English. We sat in the lounge together, pointed at lots of things in the room and wrote them down in hiragana and I figured out that the i in inu was the same i in ichi… from there I was hooked, and even though my school didn’t teach Japanese (I DID do latin though _ amo amas amant etc) I found ways and means with Japanese though, as you do. Anything in Japanese I could get my hands on I would pore over. I found a book showing kanji as pictographs and really took to the little stories you could make up about each character. Needless to say I went to Japan as soon as I was old enough to travel alone and have made many japanese friends over the years. Having japanese flatmates was also helpful to learn practical words such as sentaku not to mention current slang. Now, I am happy to say, I have a 14 year old daughter as obsessed as I was. We both also love french and we have a goal to go to Tahiti or New Caledonia, (both cheap to visit from New Zealand). We have been immersed in french movies (Amelie, Diva, Romauld and Juliette, Ruby and Quentin (?) etc), french music, (rapper Marco Prince, yus!!!!!), french comics (Archie and Veronique) – languages are such fun. Also, is great – you meet people of the language you are studying and they help with your work, and it starts with the basics. Anyway, I loved your video, oozing with enthusiasm, and you break it all down so well. Must get that poster you referred to too, and the suggestion on of your commenters made about looking at how the Mormons study was also useful. Thanks for that.

  30. Hi Tim,

    Our thanks for the great post!

    Please note that we’ve corrected the “end of video cutoff,” extending the runtime for all our embedded videos to 25 minutes.

    Your fans at

  31. Hey Tim,

    Great post. I am becoming more of a fan of yours. I have to be honest with you that my first impression of you was that you were a little cocky and I closed off myself off to learning from you. But after following you for some time now, I can see that you have the right to be confident.

    But most importantly I can see the love and compassion coming from you in that you want to help other people become more efficient.

    I am very xcited to hear you talk about a better school system. If there is one person who could get somethiing done, I believe it is you. I will help you in any way that I can.

    I know that children are our future. We can have them learn so much more in a shorter amount of time than what is going on now. Many kids are slippiing through the cracks.

    Many teachers and administrators have good intentions but are simply getty swallowed up by the politics and red tape. Lets get something going on this.

    Our future depenends on it.

    Darin Steen (Chicago)

  32. Hi Tim

    I am trying to learn French.Is there anything similar out there which summarise’s most of the vocabulary one need’s to have to be able to converse with a French person.

    Many thanks.

    If anyone else can help.that would be great.

  33. Tim and all-

    Love the talks. I’d never heard of Mr. Lovins. I’m going to look more into him and his Institute. I just read Gladwell’s new book, “Outliers”. You might want to pick that up for his discussion on schools. It might help jumpstart new ideas for improved education.

    Interesting recent educational fact: 90.5% of the students in Clark County (where I live) failed their final exam in Algebra 1…This isn’t commentary on the students, but on the teaching. Its broken and we MUST fix it!



  34. Hi Tim and other readers,

    Thanks for the message and the several principles you use to overcome fears. I truly believe that fear is one of our biggest self-limiting emotions and is the root of why people do not take massive action on big ideas that will lead them to success.

    Happy New Year


  35. Is there any way you can get the videos to have subtitles? I have a hearing impairment and don’t want to miss out on the fun.


  36. Thanks for effective v.s. efficient, this is a big piece for my puzzle. Also, the “4 Hour Work Week” ROCKS and you RULE!

    Blessings to you and yours for sharing your vision/s,


  37. Hey all,

    Check out this: a kid earned all 121 boy scout badges before he turned 18. More importantly, he earned roughly half in just a few months leading up to his 18th birthday. Talk about the power of impossible deadlines. Maybe Tim will interview him about how he did this, as the AP article was light on details. It did say he wanted to be a politician.. he might be very interested in networking with a promoter extraordinaire.


  38. Tim,

    Enjoyed the presentation, I would still like you to show how you actually break down and learn a language. The vid was to vauge.

  39. Tim

    Once again you show your method is the a more straight line approach in having a more fulfilled life. I also admire the way you explained explicit vs implicit teaching. Many things taught in traditional schools are implicit. It is the after class short ten, fifteen or twenty minute talks where teachers share the implicit information.

    In university studying drama I found the short talks with my professors yielded nuggets of information. Within these nuggets true wisdom cam through. The implicit teaching seem to be the foundation for a lot of your success Finding those little secrets to propel a person farther faster in a shorter amount of time.

    Again thanks for providing these video’s and inspiring others to be better in life at what ever they do.

    Cheers for Calgary

    Leonard Irwin

  40. Tim, Didn’t know the fastest way to get in touch with you – just watched your video and saw that you are interested in starting charter schools as an alternative to the awful public education system that we have. We operated charter schools in Houston that we recently closed after trying to do this for 10 years (we were successful for a while, then at the end not so much…). A couple of years ago we also ran the Houston portion of Arnold Shwarzenegger’s program “Inner City Games”/”After School All Stars” (which got shut down after he decided to be governor). Would love if any of our personal experience (and financial losses in undertaking these projects) would be able to help you. We still have tons of connections and it is a truly a shame we don’t use them anymore.

  41. Hi All,

    Thank you so much for the great suggestions and kind words! A few answers:

    1) For more specifics on how I learn languages, click on the “language” link in “Topics” on the top right-side of this blog. There are several posts. Frequency cards for many languages can be found at

    2) and Sarah, thank you for fixing the embed player to run in its entirety!

    3) Regarding education (thank you for all of your offers, and Jessica, I’m sure I’ll be in touch in 2009), I’m still doing research and expect to have more specific angles on public education (or likely math and science specifically) in 2009.

    Thanks again and more to come… 🙂


  42. I don’t know if you know about this blog called “Study Hacks”. It’s about doing the activities in school (both university and high school) that count most.

  43. Hi Tim,

    very interested that you mention the school system. I am developing a prototype rapid-learning environment to export worldwide, suitable for all ages.

    I would love to have your enthusiasm as part of the project, let me know if you are interested. It certainly is a huge idea.

    chaos boy 7 7 (at) hotmail (dot) com

  44. Like Samok, I am interested in watching this video but I require closed captioning because I am hard of hearing.

    Just today, I learned about an online service that provides captioning. The website is:

    Please consider making your videos accessible for those with a hearing loss, those whose first language isn’t English, and those who benefits from reading text.

    1. Dear John and Samok,

      Thank you very much for your suggestions on captioning. I am running around this week but will forward this to

      All the best,


  45. I was checking out the Amory Lovins video and although the stuff he’s talking about all sounds very interesting and certainly possible, he’s forgetting a few things.

    First, how’s he planning on replacing the 1 billion “old school” cars on the planet, heck, even a third of them, and where does he get the resources to accomplish that feat? I mean, most of the average people I know drive cars from around 1991-2001. Also concidering the economic climate at the moment, not many people are rushing to buy new cars.

    Second, what about Jevon’s paradox? Basicly Jevon’s paradox propositions that any technological advances will increase consumption instead of decreasing it.

    Basicly, while you’re making more efficient cars and trucks, you free up energy resources for people to use for other purposes, and of course more driving, since it’s cheaper. Sure, you accomplish more with less, but it doesn’t solve the problem of ever increasing consumption and emissions, concidering uses for energy are infinite and the current economic model is also based on infinite growth.

    I’m not saying all this is pointless, but these are some questions that I feel have not been answered.

    And I just had to open up about it somewhere. Sorry Tim! 😀

  46. Tim,

    Loved the video, especially on your use of deconstruction to learn languages quickly. I lived in Russia for over 2 years and we used something similar to that to help us learn faster. That and the total immersion where you have to use it or you aren’t going to eat or find somewhere to go to the bathroom. Does the deconstructino technique work on most languages that you have found? I am interested in learning Finnish and Hungarian and am curious to see how it works on them. Looking forward to seeing what you have in 2009!

  47. Tim,

    I’ve been a fan of yours for about a year now and am finally ready to “find the muse”. I have a question that I hope you can answer for those of us that will be using many of your principles in the new year. My question is this: given the current state of the economy and the fact that the FHWW was written in better economic times, is there anything in the book that doesn’t apply today? If so, what would you do differently today if you were just getting started.

    Thanks in advance,


  48. Wow Tim, that was awesome… Honestly watching that really makes me look at my fears and problems in an entirely different light.


    ps Thanks for creating some of the best content on the internet.

  49. In reference to OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell mentioned in two comments above, the L.A. TIMES did a recent story in regards to the book’s argument that some disciplines require 10,000 hours of practice to master, and applied that “theory” to Dustin Hoffman not becoming a star until his 30’s (meaning a prior 10,000 hours of auditions, etc on his part). The subsequent letter to the editor below I thought was an interesting reply:

    “Either acting is not a `complex cognitive skill,’ or it does not necessarily require 10,000 hours to master such a skill, if you consider that Anna Paquin won the Oscar for best supporting actress in `The Piano’ at age 11 and Tatum O’Neal won the same award for `Paper Moon’ at age 10.”

  50. Great stuff, Tim. Quick comment on education, as I know it is something you are getting into more and more and many of your readers seem to be commenting on the subject as well. Outliers is on my shelf ready to read (and I’m looking forward to it), but I would first recommend Sir Ken Robinson.

    I was schooled in the Waldorf model for my primary years and it has made (at least I believe) a profound difference in all aspects of my life. What Robinson discusses in this TED Talk is at the core of what is both wrong with current educational systems and what we should be concentrating on in modeling a more effective system. The Waldorf system is, even with its faults, the closest thing we have at this time to a school that actually prepares children for the world in its current state and not just for the next exam.

    Here is the TED Talk with Robinson:

  51. Hi Tim,

    Excellent video. I’m extremely interested in streamlining education and methods of accelerated learning.

    I hope you dive more into hacking languages and general education.

    I am open to being a tester/helper with any theories or methods you have – get in touch.

  52. Tim,

    Was interested by your last comment on the educational reformation.

    What exactly have you done and what are you looking to change?

    What are your thoughts about ADD?



  53. Tim,

    This was an incredible presentation!!! I was lucky enough to be attending as the guest (or perhaps copresenter if I may be so bold) of Cameron Carpenter, the white sparkly organist. I really loved your presentation and I feel that it was one of the top 5 of the conference. I just finished reading your book earlier this week and I really am inspired by it. I am looking forward to using the principles in the book towards my musical ventures (especially with my Ravel project; transcribing all of his piano works for organ). Have to dream big!

    I look forward to reading more posts! Have a magnificent 2009!

    Happy New Year,

    Eric (aka the red headed organist)

  54. Thanks Tim, this is good stuff. I’ve honestly been trying to deconstruct your deconstructions and this provided some much-needed insight.

    Your learning techniques would make another great post.

  55. Andy,

    I don’t know if you’re planning on playing classical or pop piano. If you’re planning on pop piano, the best deconstruction is “The Piano Guy” Scott Houston. In 4-6 hours I went from vaguely knowing the tone value of the piano keys to accompanying myself singing “The Long and Winding Road”. Run “scott houston piano guy” through Google and follow the links.

  56. @Jack and @Jessica, I can appreciate your comments on Education. I too come from an education family and having taught for several years, I know the challenges the system is facing. The system sucks because our schools are functionally obsolete. I had an administrator who thought that if the kids were in their kids and the classroom was quiet, then I was a some kind of master teacher.

    There’s not enough of hands on learning in the Education system, which is what I got from your presentation.

    Identify the problem/fear, deconstruct it, analyze how to do it right, then do it, practice some more, repeat and ultimately teach it someone else.

  57. Love the video. The one thing I enjoy about this video/article is that you say how to “feel” like the incredible hulk. After all, you have to feel incredible before you become incredible.

    With regard to deconstruction, many people conquer fear through deconstruction. I saw a video about a guy who overcame his fear of flying simply by thinking about driving to the airport, then walking to the airplane, and then sitting on the airplane.

    Overall, great stuff Tim.

  58. Hey Tim

    Great stuff!

    I just wanted to let you know that I’m teaching myself japanese and would like to recommend a few resources for people that might be interested, as I saw on your comments.

    I got all this information from a guy named Khatzumoto. He actually taught himself japanese (reading, writing, and speaking) without ever taking a class to a method similar to you. He talks about it on his website

    He recommend a poster similar to the one you used,

  59. Tim,

    Great post. I’m curious about what you’re doing to change the American education system. I, like you, am a beginner with this but feel the same need to change the things and ways we are teaching our children. I am in the process of putting together a local program in my hometown to put the fun back into learning and learning through DOING, not just listening to someone. I would be most interested in learning what you’re doing and how we may be able to expand upon our ideas.

    All the best and thank you,


  60. I have been practicing the ‘fear compass’ for the last few months. Go where the fear is, because that’s where you can make the most difference. A daily application is in my inbox: Answering first those emails that I feel like just leaving alone. And that’s probably the most efficient hack I use daily. Maybe even effective, as you say.

    Happy 2009, Tim and everyone!


  61. Tim – I have someone you need to meet if you’re serious about changing our education system. (I really hope you are.)

    Her name is Angela Maiers ( She has conducted Literary Institutes, seminars, and workshops all over the nation that have reached thousands of educators.

    She focuses on areas of literacy, learning, and 21st century education. She’d be a great person to chat with if you have the time.


  62. No one , bill gates included, who tries to ‘fix ‘ education is willing to face reality. google steve sailer or read up on charles murray. the continued, perennial failure is do to an avoidance of reality.

  63. A beautiful job! I even was compelled to take notes.

    I really loved your school idea at the end. As a polyglot myself, I would love to see the schools revamped and modernized, especially the language departments. They really have not got a clue to how to teach a foreign tongue, its all Greek to them.

    Fear is our friend and its ok to fail, would be a simple yet welcome start in the scholastic system.

  64. @me

    So are you saying that you are in agreement with these gentlemen who believe that certain races are more intelligent than others? One must bear in mind that “scientific” studies are usually not entirely accurate, especially when one takes into account the new and different acknowledged kinds of intelligences. Perhaps a legitimate “fix” therefore would be to think outside the square and consider other ways of learning, as Tim has put out here? And further, consider that your new president-elect seems more intelligent than the last, or perhaps seeming so is an equally valid form of cleverness? My 2c.


    Quick note from Tim: be sure not to let this escalate, lads and lasses. Talking race can be playing with fire. Play nice and breathe deeply before writing responses. It’s good practice for everything else in life 🙂

  65. ###

    Quick note from Tim: be sure not to let this escalate, lads and lasses. Talking race can be playing with fire. Play nice and breathe deeply before writing responses. It’s good practice for everything else in life 🙂

    Yes, Tim, you are wise. Therefore can you please remove my recent comment:


    January 7th, 2009

    3:37 pm

    lest it offends someone.


  66. On the topic of your issues of the American public education system. I can guarantee an interesting perspective from John Taylor Gatto. I met him here in Australia in 2007 and was captivated by his perspective and insight. He is certainly a starting point for understanding the system and identifying key aspects that can be exploited to drastically improve the system.

    Of course, until that revolution then carries to the Australian home education system (which models itself about 10 years behind the US frameworks) we will continue to be home educators. Here is another’s thoughts that better encapsulate mine:

    “John Taylor Gatto is a three-time New York State Teacher of the Year, but he ultimately quit his teaching career in order to focus his attention on reforming the public school systems, which he claimed “hurt children.” Now, John Taylor Gatto’s mission to “challenge the myths of modern schooling” has sparked nationwide discussion and activism.”


    His web site is:

  67. Tim,

    Great presentation!

    You discussed your approach of learning would you approach learning English?


  68. My mother (a retired public school teacher) likes to cite a study which shows that methods work with those teachers that like said methods and don’t work with teachers who dislike the method. This makes a case for more teacher autonomy for method and management via results.

    As for myself, I could write a book about what is wrong with current teaching methods, and may write it one day. But perhaps a book’s worth of changes is not what you are interested in, seeing as you like to distill problems down. So here are my essences. The current public school system faces three

    core problem areas:

    1. The environment is very distracting — noise, bullying, etc.

    2. The pace does not match the talent/drive of many students. Smart/talented/motivated students are held back while dumb/untalented/unmotivated students get over their heads.

    3. Motivation is a huge problem. The motivation gap is possibly larger than the talent gap.

    These three areas are not orthogonal. Lack of motivation or being out of league leads to discipline problems which leads to distraction, etc. However, attacking the problem from these three directions is still a useful approach, IMO. So, let’s take each on its own:

    1. Kids like to talk. Come to think of it, so do grownups. Put either in an echo chamber, and each conversation interferes with the others. Whispers become shouts. When I was in school, classrooms were

    echo chambers: painted cinder block walls with tile floors. Many newer school have carpet — which helps — but the walls are still reflective. Acoustic tiles or unpainted cinder blocks for at least two non-facing walls would make a huge difference in noise levels.

    Also, discipline might be better if the kids weren’t eating junk. Ditch the chocolate milk and desserts. Do not serve puffed cereals or pancakes for breakfast! Slow carbs, some protein and natural fats could do wonders for overall discipline.

    2. In college classes are by the semester or quarter. In elementary school they are by the year. This is backwards! Elementary school classes should be by the quarter or less. If you flunk a class you should only repeat a quarter vs. the entire year!

    And flunking should only affect the course flunked. Those who flunk reading but succeed in math should be able to proceed in math while repeating the last reading quarter, etc.

    3. Some people are naturally academic; they learn for learning’s sake. Others need a reason to learn something difficult. “You will need this in college” is not a valid reason! Textbooks are largely written by academics and most teachers tend to be academics. This produces a huge

    motivation gap. “Why bother?” should be the first question addressed in any subject. We need to teach engineering along with science, accounting and economics with math.

    Another demotivator is relative grading. Some are slower than others for some subjects. There is no catching up. More honor in getting an F while cutting up in class than working hard to get a

    D+. This holds whether the scale is “absolute” or “on a curve.” Relative grading should be replaced with levels of proficiency. Think Dungeons and Dragons levels for a better model.


    These are but a taste. If you want more, contact me.

  69. Question for Tim (and the forum): following Tim’s advice on language learning, I’ve found a language exchange partner to help me learn Mandarin, while I help her with English. I’m wondering if anybody has any good tips on structuring a language exchange. For example, is it useful to prepare list of questions or discussion topics? What are some guidelines for providing feedback to each other? If one person is relatively good at their foreign language and the other is a beginner, how should you change the approach? I’d love to hear any comments anybody has, or useful links.

  70. Enjoyed the video and was wondering if you were planning on doing a post on deconstructing skills and reducing the amount of time required to learn a skill. A bit confused on how and where to look for principles, and the whole thing about implicit over explicit.

    I’ve read the posts on being effective in learning languages. But how can I deconstruct, for example, a programming language?

    Great post…

  71. Hello Tim,

    Given your interests in accelerated learning and in the American education system, you might want to consider looking into the Transition School (TS)/Early Entrance Program (EEP) at the University of Washington. The program accepts students after 7th or 8th grade, and, after one year of intensive study, ushers them into the university as fully matriculated students. EEP students, despite their age, consistently graduate among the top at UW and have accomplished some remarkable things. The website for the program is:

    If you’d like, I would be happy to put you in touch with people in the program (I am an alumni).



  72. Great presentation! My research area focuses a lot on the last part of your presentation. I believe that reform is needed at all levels of the North American educational system. Interestingly enough, I taught swimming at one time (in the 80s and 90s)! My record is 5 minutes teaching an acute hydrophobe how to swim across a pool. Many of the techniques that you mention I used without knowing that there were more experienced coaches that taught the same techniques. We have much to discuss. I would love to collaborate and share. Feel free to email me. Wow, what a blessing!

  73. Hello Mr. Ferriss,

    As a woman of 60 who is working on her dissertation research I wanted to commend you on your trying to tackle the education system in our country (USA).. I began college at 40 and after obtaining 4 degrees from Purdue University I still love to learn…

    One major issue is children and their parents, and people in general do not realize it is happening all the time. One is learning and learning from the moment we are born. The love of learning is sadly missing and the education systems squashing of creativity is disheartening.

    When we as a society figure out that our children’s education is going to better all of our futures we will perhaps realize that it is more important and deserves better attention then sports players, superbowls, political thieves, unethical people, etc. etc.

    Giving high statis to those that help children along the way of life and letting them know how valued the time they put into this endeavor should be a top priority.

    Thank you for taking your time to help as you realized the importance of your educational opportunites. Whether it be formal learning in university or trade schools, or mother nature watching. Each of us using and giving of our talents will help all of us.

    Making school a privledge to attend not a drudergy or chore is a major issue for children today!

    We have been learning about developmental relavence and different types of learning and intelligence for a very long time….lets use this knowledge to help all those in a broken public system to fix it or change it to something that children “love” to go to each day…

    Check out the Quaker based school that the children of high officials attend, there you will find many ways of repairing the other schools across our lands..

  74. Tim,

    I would like to learn more about your public school research. How can I stay abreast of your developments? I would also be interested in becoming involved. Please give more info.

  75. Hi Tim,

    I’d like to get your thoughts on deconstructing a martial art please. I have been attending Capoeira classes in London for a year now and want to accelerate my progress – do you have any suggestions on this please?

    My thought was to apply some of your advice in relation to tango to Capoeira.

    This is my first post to your blog, but rest assured I have been following your blog and book for sometime now! Thank you for all the information and advice you have given – it’s certainly inspired me!