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.

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

  1. I love this presentation of yours, Tim!!! I remember well that little Incredible Hulk and enjoy the newer version even more. I’m going to try the swimming tricks in Lake Dunmore this summer–thanks for making it do-able and so straightforward.

  2. Does sombody know, which wordpress theme is used in Tims blog or can give an advise to a similar? I like the simplicity and the well arranged style.

    thanks in advance

  3. Hi Tim,

    The part in your talk about the education system prompted me to write this. I’ve been looking at education from a community development perspective, mostly because we aren’t utilizing the amazing genius within our youth, because we’ve condemned them to a bad babysitter.

    I’m happy to share my piece of your puzzle.

  4. Great Video! You have very original content on your blog. Inspiring indeed…

    “It’s simply beyond words. It’s incalculacable.” Michael Scott – The Office

  5. Great post Tim!

    I read your article as I was heading out the door for some laps in the local pool. I’ve always loved swimming but my style was very inefficient. I tried your suggestions out and I swam 25% further than I had done in the past, in less time and with less effort!

    It’s amazing what insights can be uncovered when we challenge the status quo and look at things with fresh eyes. Keep up the great work, I look forward to reading more of your articles.

  6. I saw your presentation from the EG Conference on My initial reaction can be summed up in two words: Marry me! If not, I’ll settle for a dance.

    Seriously…you’ve had some great opportunities which you turned into awesome experiences. I noticed from the responses you stirred the pot up quite a bit. I’m interested in how you plan to use that success. How will use your gifts to help others towards their own achievements? What outcomes do you hope for?

  7. What a nice presentation: How to feel like the Incredible Hulk. Saw it on TED. I was trying to find that quote you gave about time. The reference was how things take up as much time as you allow them. I thought you called it Parkins Rule, but when I googled that I could not find anything. Could you give out that quote again? Thank you!

  8. Not sure if you are following this video’s comments on TED, but it may be a good idea to silence some of the more volatile haters (hate begets hate). You mentioned the importance of nipping flaming in the bud on another blog post, and there some definite buds that need nipping over there.

    You have been an inspiration for me and many others, and it is a shame to let a few loud, envious souls tear you down.

  9. Amazing! BUT

    Confronting mans fear is a good advise, but making everyone to believe they can master any subject in such a short time is immpossible and the higher you expect the deeper you fall

    I also didn’t like your arrogance attitued.

    You must know that most people will fail trying to do this.

    Better encouraged them for just confronting the feer no mater what the resaults are !!!

    not everyone is superman like you, that’s the reality

  10. Hello, and thank you for reading my comment.

    Tim, I honestly know very little about you. I merely stumbled upon your video on Ted. (Smashing video by the way, you seem to have your concepts well founded) You mentioned something about having an interest in discussing the matter of the United States Public School System? If you are indeed as concerned as I took you to be, I would look forward to sharing some of my works and concepts with you on the matter.

    I cannot prompt you enough on the urgency of how important it is that you contact me. (It is a great opportunity for you, I do believe. I’ve written several times on the matter of public school systems and how though they are ‘not wrong’ there is an approach that is ‘more right’ You would be interested to say the least)

    Please contact me via email:

  11. Hey Tim,

    Just saw this video for the first time, and I was quite impressed. I wanted to tell you that I am entering a professional teachers’ program at the University of Colorado next month. If you want any insights into how teachers are trained, I would be glad to give you some insights. If the school system is going to change, how the subjects are presented will have to be a major part. It’s frustrating to me that in ten minutes I can teach *anyone* how to write a book, but it takes four years to teach a student how to write a five-paragraph paper.

  12. Hi Tim!

    I watched your presentation on TED and at the end of it you said you were researching Education. Well, I just listened to some statistics on the radio. here is the link to the written article: There is also a podcast with the same name.

    Statistic 1. In formal learning situation the best retention rate a corporation an hope for is 20%.

    Statistic 2. One study shows that information is doubling every two years.

    Statistic 3. It takes 10 years to become an expert at something.

    This BBC article is about innovations in learning and education within companies. But perhaps some of these ideas can be reworked for public grade school education. Kids who are learning the old fashioned way will just get left in the dust. Why even send them to school, unless you need a babysitter, if they will only remember 20% of what they learn. Why not give them an interactive and meaningful environment? Obligation is the death of pleasure and pleasure in living every day is my goal for everyone on the planet.

    I couldn’t find a related topic to post this, so I am just typing it in, hoping that it will get read. If there is anyplace I can hop on to become part of the education investigation, please let me know. I am a US ex-pat living in Eastern Europe. Mother of 4 🙂


  13. In your talk, what exactly did you mean by innertubes? I’m a TED translator and have problems translating the sentences where you use that word. I did let the word “Rohr” pass for the German translation when I was ‘merely’ reviewing, but am not so sure now I’m translating the whole thing myself.

    All the pics I can find on Google show floating tires, but that meaning doesn’t fit because you use the word with “jumping through”, “diving through” and “hitting the bottom of the tube”. But Rohre at a pond?

    I’m confused 🙂

    1. Hi Baahar,

      An “inner tube”, when used in my speech, refers to inflating the inner tube of a car tire. This is then floated on the water and children can lay on them or play with them.

      Hope that helps!


  14. Tim – re: Education Reform ~

    In this field, you must forget all about “What vs. How, Material vs. Method, and Implicit vs. Explicit”. These issues have been studied to death, and there are a zillion excellent answers – many of them used in private K-12 schools, college, and in home-schooling. But many of them get drummed out of the government-run K-12 schools (check out Jaime Escalante, John Taylor Gatto, and others who’s successes were barely tolerated by the educational establishment).

    No, for a problem of this magnitude, you must go to the foundational Assumptions and Principles of the horrible system we have. Steven Covey makes it clear that when you put good people in bad systems, you get bad results; same with good methods. It’s the System that Sucks !

    Ours is based on the Prussian model of the early industrial revolution, where the goal was to create obedient, compliant workers and wage-slaves to fit the new age of the machine and the uber-state. The current government-run “schools” are designed to get the result that they are getting ! They are the last bastion of monopoly, union-stifled, socialistic-collectivist “political correctness” run amok. They now exist primarily for the financial benefit of the employees and their political power, not for the benefit rising generation or the future of the nation.

    Until education is de-tenured, de-unionized, privatized, free-enterprised, and it’s “customers” can “vote with their feet” and go somewhere other than their assigned “neighborhood training store”, we are going to keep getting what we are getting, no matter what new and better Method and Content may be introduced. (Can you imagine all of us being assigned to the local store where we had to buy our food, clothing, auto-repair, and all other goods and services from !?!? We would not tolerate that, and the lousy quality such Soviet/Cuban-style regimentation, not for a minute. WHY do we do that with the government-run schooling to which we subject our children ?? )

    You’ll find your most fruitful answers in Assumptions and Principles: We must blow-up the current no-choice, government-run, union-controlled model, cut the tax-money in half, Privatize the entire system, declare Freedom of Choice, and let the magic of what those concepts have done for us economically and materially do for us educationally. It works in private K-12 schools (Catholic, Protestant, Montessori, etc.) and in college – why not in all of K-12 ??

  15. Hey Tim,

    I just finished watching your video, and I was quite impressed. Fear is definitely an obstacle for many, but what we don’t know is that by doing minor changes, in spite what everyone else says, we can conquer anything.

    By the way, very impressed by your Japanese skills. Who would have thought!

    Thanks for the great content.


    Gus Sevilla

  16. I just found is post. Are you still doing work on the education system? If so I want in. I’m a cosmetology teacher. Better teaching in any field makes better more functional student. Better students = better more functional people. Better people = better world. Sign me up

  17. I think a lot of people are missing the point. Fear came be turned into something positive.

    Great presentation, thanks for sharing!


  18. Hello, I stumbled upon this presentation and really enjoyed it. I was wondering, Tim, are you still doing work or thinking about deconstructing the public school system to achieve better results. I am interested in the discussion because I am a high school math teacher looking for more effective ways of teaching and learning.

  19. Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thank you Nonetheless I’m experiencing challenge with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting equivalent rss problem? Anyone who is aware of kindly respond. Thnkx

  20. The poster link is a mini URL that now redirects a Jean Claude Van Damn mocumentary-realty from the description, but nothing to do with eastern language studies.

    I want to find like the the one you have in 4Hour Chef that is sorted by kana pronunciation.

  21. Hi Tim

    The video wouldn’t load here but managed to digest it on YouTube fine, so thank you.

    Using fear as an indicator as you say has been helpful, especially with all the overwhelm and ‘creeping doubts/fears’ with starting a new venture

    Thank you again Tim

    Best Regards