Random 4: Tim Ferriss and Kevin Rose on Y-Combinator, Language Learning and More

This pre-China trip includes the below:

– Personal experiences with Y-Combinator, demo days, and pitching new ideas through avenues like YC.

– Five things you can do as a new startup to get your ideas, app, or product in front of influencers.

– Tweaking your website: per-user metrics, cost per acquisition, lifetime value of the customer, etc..

– The iPhone 3GS, talking some about the new updates and then a short comparison with the Palm Pre.

– Learning new languages and reactivating old ones (in this case, Mandarin Chinese).

The above list is taken from Glenn McElhose’s blog, where you can also find links to all of the sites and products mentioned in the show.


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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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152 Replies to “Random 4: Tim Ferriss and Kevin Rose on Y-Combinator, Language Learning and More”

  1. Hi Tim & Kevin,

    Loved your post – I am very interested in the practical insights you give startups for structuring themselves – particularly in how to collect data.

    A few questions:

    1) I’m curious as active investors what level of involvement you have with your portfolio companies and how you encourage their teams to interact with you – will you tend to pop by once a week and keep things pretty systematic with the idea that it’s easier to keep things structured and disciplined that way, or would you rather they just pick up the phone if they’re stressed over something?

    2) Do you take any solely advisory stakes and if so how do you balance that – I have encountered advisors working on a style of ratchet where, if after a few months of working together the team are happy with your input, the advisor gains a chunk of equity (perhaps ~5%) and I have been considering running with this model myself.

    3) Any thoughts on what you guys look for in potential investments would be great – especially *beyond* the basics (e.g. business model, scalability, addressable market). When you hang out do you indulge in crystal-ball speculation and the like?

    Keep up the good work!


  2. Hi great stuff. I have some friends in the current batch of YC, and two other Aussie friends who were in the last one who I think you know, and I’m in another Silicon Valley incubator from TheFunded. I also know some guys in TechStars in Boulder and went along to their pitch day last week, and have posted a breakdown of their approach that I’d love to know how you think compares to YC’s demo day. This is a really interesting area and these incubators are having a definite positive impact.

    My breakdown of the TechStars method for pitching is here:


  3. So this is how uber-rich NM post.com millionaires goof off …. cool –

    You guys are a great example of how to make money while having fun – for anyone NOT doing this themselves, it’s really possible –

    Although maybe not at their level – you’re legendary –

    Good work – keep it up – ciao

  4. I’ve never spent so much time watching two people just shoot the shit. I can’t decide whether that a HUGE compliment to you guys or a sincere sign of desperation on my part.

    Maybe a little of both… either way, I couldn’t take my eyes off.

  5. Love these series!

    Can’t wait to see more, and more often. Disagree on the waste of time, insider tips from industry leaders, especially guys like this are rare and insightful. You hardly ever get to peek into chats like this, something that these two are very open about doing.

    Thanks Kevin and Tim

  6. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for delivering good stuff, as usual. A question for you. . .

    How much of an investment decision is pure “statistics” and likely return vs. “gut response” regarding the mission of the company (the good it contributes) and a subjective sense of the management capabilities of the principals?

    The first pitch has to “grab” in about 90 seconds. . . . The gut feeling on management skills probably has to be discerned after that.

  7. You guys are so cute! ^__^;;;; I really love these ‘random’ episodes, and always find myself laughing out loud when I watch them. You both have real chemistry together which makes ingesting the info you give a lot easier.

    Anyways, I really hope you keep up with these!! So much fun and extremely informative. :3

    Mr. Ferriss, I trust that your arm is doing better? I very much hope so. (I know what kind of syringe/needles you’re speaking of, and OUCH! So big and quite painful).

  8. Guys

    Nice work. I really like your initiative here.

    Tim – Let’s please chat about starting a company that is a competitor to Rosetta Stone. I can’t disclose a number of things on the blog, but let’s just say I would invest in you and I believe others would too.

    Please feel free to contact me.

    1. Hi B,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m focusing on writing the book until end of the year, but please do reach out after that point if you still remember. I’ve been thinking about doing a business in language for ages.



  9. Tim, thank you for your guidance, it’s sage! I’ve been so busy practicing the four hour workweek, I have not made time to read your blog as I should. Question: What is the “pre-China trip?” Are you hosting a trip to China? I ask because I’m working on a product that is completely new to the Chinese marketplace and am looking for guidance on your web site.

    Before submitting this question, I used the google search to find the answer within your page, but was taken to google search results outside of your web site and couldn’t, quickly, find the answer. Which, leads me to a suggestion: A swift-search-your-site for dummies (coming from a fairly advance Internet user/researcher).


    Mrs. Jill Frost


  10. Tim, Kev, love watching this! Insightful, and funny at the same time. I feel like I should be taking notes. Really dig this sort of thing! Keep it up!

    – Cam

  11. Tim,

    I would argue with your assertion that the most efficient way to learn a foreign language is to translate from your native tongue to the new language. I majored in Japanese and everything, but it really wasn’t until I moved there and lived it, that I really learned to converse in it.

    I must admit, initially I probably did do quite a bit of translation, but then I gave that up. I learned a good part of what I know in Japanese, not by first learning it and then scrambling for the English to go with it. Now, when I speak Japanese I do zero translation. The times when I’m at the loss for a word or a concept, I find myself dropping back into English, but generally I generate Japanese without translation.

    My father-in-law developed a method of learning English for Russian speakers at his website http://www.language-bridge.com which relies solely on similar immersion where you are given a situation and then a story in the target language. You bind the words that go with situations which, he argues, will build a capacity where you don’t translate, you generate the new language.

    Many ways to skin a cat, I’m sure. I like your observation that printers usually skimp on learning materials to the detriment of the learner. Languages that rely on ideographs really can’t be learned without learning the context of the characters in the language.

  12. Some friends of mine from TechStars Boston are working on an app similar to what Kevin describes towards the end of this video. They take popular YouTube videos in various foreign languages (no Mandarin yet) and play them along with English translations. They also allow users to contribute better translations if the original machine translations are not accurate.

    I won’t link, but if you Google LangoLAB you can find them.

  13. I’m a bit surprised… The “show” is very efficient for you (shot in less than 1 hour). But for the viewer… Watching half an hour of (mostly) two guys talking (rambling?) is not a very efficient use of time for your audience.

    I suggest that you offer a transcript (I’m sure that it can be very cheaply delegated), maybe with a time code. I could read the transcript very quickly. If needed, it would be easy to jump to the interesting bits in the video.

    Offering Random as a podcast version would be a good idea too, to watch “as entertainment” while on the move, or while waiting.

    Unless there is an advantage to gluing your viewers for half an hour to their computer? If there is ads, I don’t see them, as they are filtered by Ad Block Plus…

  14. How come Glenn didn’t turn the camera on the cute girl in the cafe? I mean, he turns the camera on sasquash sitting next to Kevin and but not on the hottie?!!!

    Work with me here though fellas…each new episode of “Random” features a “random” hot girl from the location of the shoot…

  15. Mr bionic man! I wonder, how long did you and Kevin take to learn Chinese enough to navigate your way in the trip?

    Okay, 27mins more of the clip to watch. 🙂

  16. Awesome as usual.

    It’s cool watching you guys just chill and talk about stuff you are interested in.

    Keep em coming.

  17. Thanks for letting us follow your conversation. I find the format casual, yet stimulating. Looking forward to Random 5.

  18. If anyone is interested in learning more about the Y-Combinator/Tech Stars stuff, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures (who was also out at the Colorado event) talked about it on his blog a few days ago (avc.com). That was the first I’d heard of Y-Combinators, and it sounded interesting.

  19. @sarah I get this onto my iPhone by using http://clipnabber.com/ (to d/l ‘random 4’ use this url:

    and then visualhub (www.techspansion.com/) to get it into itunes. Quicktime also lets you then export the audio only.

    @tim @kevin I do this each time you produce a video anyway – happy to make the files available for your site if you’d like. The way Ted.com do this would be a great example to copy for this?

    1. Thanks for sharing, Andrew! I think we might be taking a break from the series for a bit soon, but this is a great idea.


      @sarah I get this onto my iPhone by using http://clipnabber.com/ (to d/l ‘random 4? use this url:

      and then visualhub (www.techspansion.com/) to get it into itunes. Quicktime also lets you then export the audio only.

  20. @ Scott Greiff

    I agree that translation is not a necessary step for mastering a foreign tongue, but you might as well learn how to transfer back and forth between your L2 and L1 (that’s “foreign language” and “native language” for you non-linguistic nerds out there). One of the most common uses of translation (or rather, “interpretation”) I have ran into is helping my mono-lingual friends and family members in Japan, Bangladesh and Taiwan.

    @ Tim & B-

    I would also love to see you develop a foreign language learning product. The combination of your linguistic abilities, business acumen and net savvy would certainly create a wonderful learner experience.

    I have been tinkering with a number of ideas myself, and hope to bring a product to market early next year. If all goes well, it will be the muse that enables my 4HWW…

  21. Ahah this is so entertaining guys, I love the way you’re able to give some useful informations while chillin out.

    Also to all the guys saying that they don’t have 30minutes, are you kidding me ? Dude the 4 hour workweek is not about using every minute of your life as a way to get to your goal – it’s about having the freedom to chill whenever you feel like it while following your dreams – wake up guys – don’t take it too seriously.

  22. Interesting info on the keywords used in google 1/3 = unique. Loved the last little bit too on the China trip. Some of the google stats stuff went over my head a bit though. Glat i at least took something from the 30+ minute video. Keep them coming.. as Johnny 5 would say.. “need more input”. Cheers. Steven.

  23. I’ve become a spaced repetition missionary. Without a doubt the most useful tool I’ve been using to learn Chinese in the last few months in Anki. It’s freeware, it’s flexible, there are a ton of flash cards out there already and it’s synchronisable across computers. With five minutes relatively passive learning a day I can pick up between 50-100 new characters a week. If I had the chance to use it more intensively I think the results would be very powerful. My trip to China last month to see the eclipse showed the progress I’ve made.

    In addition I’ve been playing with Heisig and Richardson’s Remembering the Hanzi, a book where the characters are taught step by step as stories. The stories are well thought out and vivid and I’ve been able to learn how to reproduce a good number of characters without ever practicing them.

    As a a tip for language production practice I find 15 minutes reading text out loud (as loud as sensibly possible) per day to be extremely valuable. It doesn’t matter if you understand the language or not, but the act of using your vocal muscles is so important in language acquisition and not often practiced by autodidacts. If you can record it and listen for your faults, even better.

  24. Hello Timothy, I am Italian I have read your book 4 hours a week I will create a company and apply the rules of your book in Italy.

    In your opinion what is possible ‘in Italy?

  25. Hi Tim,

    I just wanted to tell you that I have added you to my list of “10 Pretty Awesome Sites” on my website. I know this comment is off-topic for this blog post, but thought I could tell you this way. :3


  26. Some good tips in there.

    Curious why for most web startups funding is the goal? I’ve bootstrapped all of them so far, and just build it instead of spending time pitching.

    I have no credibility indicators for this (yet), but would love to get your honest opinion Tim:

    [URL removed per comment rules]

    Note, this is more of a “change the world” project then a for profit business.



    1. Hi B,

      I checked it out. Looks good. Just need to promote the hell out of it now, but I can’t let that be in the comments, broha 🙂

      Best of luck,


  27. About half way through the vid, good stuff man, these random episodes were a really cool idea.

    Also, before I forget, the trailer for T21C 2009 released a few days ago. You can check it out by clicking my name, then playing the main video (of course, hosted on Vimeo in HD).

    It’s a great representation of the event and I think it’ll peak your interest ;). Which speaking of, any time of the year you suggest I (re)contact Amy about having you speak at the event (July 2010)?

    thanks Tim


  28. Haha, I laughed pretty hard when you smacked Kevin for staring at a hot girl! By how loud/obvious Kevin seemed, I’m sure you guys have some cool stories involving random girls.

    It’s great to see you guys being yourselves. You two are able to have a little fun while being informative as well. Keep these random episodes coming and I’ll keep watching.


  29. Cool Post, I was hoping to see somebody post a down and dirty 20 minutes GA vid in the comments but it doesn’t look like anybody has yet. I’ve primarily accessed all my training through youtube as GA has a dedicated channel. This is the most helpful video I found on how to run the basics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qfG2d9etvk

    They also have a bunch of 1-2 minute videos explaining specific features but what I would really love is some video specific to industries. As in, your run site X, it sells 50 kinds of widgets and here is what you should have on your dashboard and here are the actionable metrics you should look at to improve your site. If these types of vids exist, please message me on my blog.

  30. Looking forward to seeing the China posts! I’m headed to Shanghai this week. Got a good restaurant for me?

  31. Hi Tim, just curious…what brand of digital camera do you use when traveling. Do you take a tri-pod too? Thanks for taking the time to get back to me on this one! By the way, I met you at the NSA Convention last year in NYC. Loved your session!

  32. So did anyone get the girl’s phone number or what? I was laughing pretty hard at Kevin trying to be so cool and not move his head while looking at her…

  33. I always look forward to the Random episodes and am seeking for ideas to emulate yalls success.

    Tim, I appreciate you pointing out sites/services like Y-Combinator and TechStars. Got any others? Know of any others for the Central Florida or Florida in general? UCF has a pretty great incubator program but they get more VCs than angels. Thanks!

  34. This is the second video I watch of you guys and I’m enjoying them quite a bit, although this one was more rambling than the first. Still fun, though.

    Regarding language learning, Kevin mentioned learning through singing, and there’s a lot of merit to that. This is a highly used technique when teaching kids a foreign language, and if you tie that to video, it works even better. Although the idea of learning through sets of films that start out basic (cartoons) to more advanced was an interesting idea as well, perhaps a business in the making?

    Have fun in China and keep the vids coming, especially for anything language-related 🙂

  35. Of the companies mentioned, I paused the video long enough to look at 3 of them. Only one seemed to have any way for me as a customer to possibly give them money – Foodzie, via transaction fee and a percentage commission.

    The other 2 (Tumblr and posterous) made a big point of never charging anything. Sure they might have an “advanced” mode later, but the eternally “free” mode is pretty darn good already. Tumblr has commemorative pillows, but that doesn’t seem like it would be enough to cover costs.

    How could these companies be good investments?!? The whole point of investing is to earn a profit. That starts with cash flow. Any cash flow.

    Maybe you’ll have a better idea, being near the center of the Bay Area action… I have to admit that their free services are pretty cool though.

  36. Tim I love your outlook on life. I’m a poker dealer in Vegas, and have yet to find a way to make any real passive income so I can leave and do what I want, and mine is not a job I can do from anywhere becuase I have to be physically there. But you give me hope for the freedom I want.

  37. Tim,

    Great topics. I’ve always been a huge fan of the episodes. I have two things to ask:

    1. From the 5 favorite books episode until now what are two or three new books you’ve been glued to? (Any category)

    2. When your out of your cast how will reacquaint yourself with weightlifting?

    (Thinking that your right arm will be a bit behind schedule). Just wondering what your plan was?

    Thanks Tim


  38. hi Tim, i noticed that you are on the faculty of Singularity University. Cool! It would be great to see a post discussing your thoughts on transhumanism/singularity

  39. Tim,

    You mentioned that there were not many 3rd party/off-the-shelf tools for specific analytics that require data base knowledge.

    I come across this problem (lack of 3rd party tools) a lot. Do you have a good technique for finding these tools?



  40. Kevin/Tim,

    Excellent progress with the show. I’m pleased with the advice and you’re doing an amazing job!

    Kevin, elaborate on the other recommendations one can do as a new start up. I think you only covered two of five?

    Perhaps there can be a shorter 30-minute version of your videos to highlight key points?

  41. Hey there, again… just wondering if either of you have ever heard of the website http://www.livemocha.com it seems like a great place on the web for language learning. have you ever heard of it? i suggest you check it out i’d love to hear your thoughts on atleast how great of an idea it is, to have a social community of language learners.



  42. Tim,

    Couldn’t help but notice how fidgety you are in the video. Are you normally that high strung or were you squirming in your chair because you had a hard time listening to Kevin because you knew you had more/better things to add to the discussion?

  43. Ah, languages..

    Let’s just say the first couple of weeks of Japanese is easy learning hiragana, then, once you mastered that, they hit you upside the side of your brain tellin you that there’s 4000 more kanji characters you have to worry about, and that you have to sing shiawasanara te wo takato in front of hundreds of people at a random japanese festival for extra credit.

    Lol.. Even though I learned a ton, I’m still tied between whether or not that class was beneficial to me or not…

  44. I’d like to hear what you think about lingq.com and Steve Kaufmann’s methods. They seem to be completely opposite of yours, but language is practically his life (even though he says he only spends about an hour a day on it)…

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for the comment. I have no real opinion of Steve’s methods. He was rude in the comments on this blog and threw his links in most of the comments to promote his site. I have little patience for that. He and I have differing experiences and suggestions for learning. No doubt he’s smart, and personal preference plays a large role in language acquisition. His methods might very well be ideal for a great number of people, but not for me.

      All the best,


  45. Am in the process of learning Japanese from a GREAT iphone app Human Japanese. It’s 10, 5-stary, A+ excellent. Picked up some japanese while in australia few weeks ago. Japanese and korean are ENORMOUS interests. zero interest in chinese. But thanks for refueling my focus and commitment to learning japanese. It’s design and pronounciation is so simple-smooth…like minimalist. Japanese is so much more efficient and better than english (clunky) language. Anyways, I’ve followed Merlin Mann’s vimeo’s a lot. He went MIA…looks like this could be a useful quasi-replacement (with no obligation to watch lol). thx for post. cheers.

    The SF scene looks awesome, but the itinerant mode, even better. Nice china vid! Hopefully I will get an osaka one myself. Cheers.

  46. Your comment about 1/3 of all google searches being unique made me think of an idea I have had for a while. Somebody in this group might find it useful.

    I started my business because I kept searching for a product that I needed, but I couldn’t find it. I probably put in 4-5 different searches on Google over the span of 3 months, and I could not find what I wanted. Every time I would type in the specifics of what I wanted, google would pop up with “No standard web pages containing all your search terms were found.” At this point, I realized nobody made what I wanted, so I just made it and the product has taken off.

    I think some of these VC firms that you mentioned should look into aggregating the data of all unique google searches and searches that turn up no results. There perhaps may be a way to distill this data and determine a product for which customers are looking but cannot find. This would be a very sweet way accomplish the two fundamental laws of marketing that I learned from the one and only Tim Ferris: identify a market that already exists AND a market in which no one has created a product or service. As consumer needs grow in complexity, this may be a tool to identify all the niche markets that continue to pop up over time, and the VC’s may be able to use this data to help determine viability of a product or service in the market place.

    It may not be a viable idea to take to scale, but it definitely worked for my situation. My business is a living testimony to the beauty of creating a product for people who want it and in a marketplace where no other product exists, and this might be a tool to help make that happen.

    P.s. Tim Ferris, you are the man. I read your book in the infancy of my business, and it was a miracle. I’ll get a hold of you a little further down the road to thank you personally and give you more details about my story, but I’m not kidding when I say your book changed my life and my business. I just retired (I’m 27) and I have no intention of being employed ever again, and I have a one-way ticket to Spain on September 7th. Let’s just say I read your book and took everything literally. Thanks for being a game-changer.

    1. Tony, thank you for the wonderful comment — it made my day. Congratulations on all of your success and que te diviertas en Espana!

      All the best,


  47. Hey Tim,

    I learned Spanish then Chinese to fluency, now I want to learn Portuguese. I signed up for a “Portuguese for Spanish Speakers” course at my school. The textbook is in English and teaches you Portuguese from the comparative standpoint of Spanish. What are your thoughts on this?

    Also, I’ve been reactivating my Spanish recently to prepare for my Portuguese learning. I figure I’m better off with my 2nd language brain reformatted to Romance language format, since now I just break off into Chinese whenever I want to speak Spanish.

    Is this a good idea or am I better off having my Spanish as far in the background as possible while I take on Portuguese?


    PS- Netflix streaming would be a lot better for language reactivation if you could change the subtitle language

  48. Very interesting, as always. Thanks guys.

    I think you’ll be interested in these guys from Ohio (I have no affiliation more than being an avid fan and user) who have built an awesome webapp for learning Chinese (and Kanji) characters.



  49. Ha, nice beard in the last ~20 seconds of the video. You look like 5 years older with it (same here).

    good stuff, lookin forward to the next episode


  50. Tim,

    I just took on French (my second foreign language) and have had great success using your methods, developing conversational ability in a fraction of the time I with Spanish (my first foreign language, which I studied in school). Your good recipe > good chef analogy is so on point!

    The only thing I have struggled with is pronunciation. This hinders my communicative skills and prevents me from recognizing words in speech that I do in text. You mentioned the need to condition ourselves to make foreign sounds. How do you advise training that?

    Also, I do not know what your policy on endorsing products in your blog, so if this does not meet Fonzi standards, feel free to delete this paragraph. But I feel compelled to recommend the language tapes of the late Michel Thomas. They are affordable and potent language learning tools. His focus on structure, grammar, and syntax give users the tools to access the language. After eight hours, I felt completely confident with conjugation and pronoun placement. It feelsmuch more like having a private tutor than a recording. It is NOTHING like a pimsleur phrase memorization experience (I know from experience). If you dont believe me, check out this clip from a 1997 BBC Documentary about the man titled The Language Master. He is a master teacher, who has a completely different approach to teaching and also, like yourself, has a scope of interests that goes far beyond language.

    Keep up the good work Tim. You are a HUGE inspiration to me!!!


    1. Hi Mike,

      That video is of Michel Thomas — he’s the man! Unfortunately, I didn’t meet him before his passing, but I’ve followed him since 1999, and I know a number of people who studied with him. Amazing human and teacher.

      Best of luck!


  51. Tim,

    I just took on French (my second foreign language) and have had great success using your methods, developing conversational ability in a fraction of the time I with Spanish (my first foreign language, which I studied in school). Your good recipe > good chef analogy is so on point!

    The only thing I have struggled with is pronunciation. This hinders my communicative skills and prevents me from recognizing words in speech that I do in text. You mentioned the need to condition ourselves to make foreign sounds. How do you advise training that?

    Also, I do not know what your policy on endorsing products in your blog, so if this does not meet Fonzi standards, feel free to delete this paragraph. But I feel compelled to recommend the language tapes of the late Michel Thomas. They are affordable and potent language learning tools. His focus on structure, grammar, and syntax give users the tools to access the language. After eight hours, I felt completely confident with conjugation and pronoun placement. It feelsmuch more like having a private tutor than a recording. It is NOTHING like a pimsleur phrase memorization experience (I know from experience). If you dont believe me, check out this clip from a 1997 BBC Documentary about the man titled The Language Master. He is a master teacher, who has a completely different approach to teaching and also, like yourself, has a scope of interests that goes far beyond language.

    Keep up the good work Tim. You are a HUGE inspiration to me!!!


  52. For text input –

    Swype is still not released (atleast not to my knowledge, maybe on the Iphone). however there is one called Shapewriter that is basically the same thing that is out… it takes some time to get used to.

    nice vid. i’m going to have to search to see if you have a vid or post on the best way to learn a new language… I failed spanish in middleschool, highschool and college lol.

  53. Rose, you ought to donate a dollar to Tim’s schools every time you say the word “basically”. It’s a silly filler well worth killing.

    Good banter. I like it when you guys stick to experiences that you (and only you) have a unique take on. This thing will die quickly if you become tempted to become a talking Digg, so keep on rockin’!

  54. Tony Hollowell,

    Congratulations on your success! Just to clarify: you’re making enough from a study guide you developed for an Indiana-specific high school algebra test that you’ve been able to retire? If so, that’s an amazing example of the power of a targeted, niche product that solves an important problem for customers.

    If it’s cool with the moderators, I’ll post a link to your site in the appropriate forum.

  55. In the language acquisition ideas list, use children’s voices for speaking content of a language tutorial rather than adults. Children are often just so much easier to understand! They don’t get all sophisticated on ya.

  56. Kevin Rose’s comment on a series of movies to watch to attain mastery made me think of how my son learned German starting with the BBC’s Muzzy programme. They now have Muzzy for learning Chinese.

    My son started with German Muzzy when he was 3 (after a year on French) and now speaks German with a high degree of fluency, reads it, and watches feature-length films like “Apollo 13” in German without a problem. He is now 6 years old, hasn’t been in Germany for nearly a year, but can still hold a conversation in it. It has obviously helped that we have gone to Germany a number of times on holiday, but there is nonetheless something to be said for learning by video and audio, skipping the books, in order to immerse oneself in a language.

    Muzzy can be had at either of the following sites:



    In addition to the above, I would also recommend reading news articles in the target language. You presumably already know what’s going on in the world, you can therefore focus on the language in which the same/similar information is being presented.

  57. Well, I’m definitely not a millionaire from my muse, but as I said, I took Tim’s book literally, and I agree with his observations that it takes very little money to just live in a foreign country. It’s not much different than the cost of living in the US, and since I have a friend-of-a-friend who has a condo in Huelva, Spain that he’s letting me use for free, my target daily income is $23. So my purchase order that I just received yesterday for 100 books at $10 a book lets me live in Spain for…43 days. Get a few more PO’s in the next few weeks, and I can live in Spain, doing absolutely nothing other than Flamenco dancing, for quite some time.

    The only difference between this muse and other muses is that I really LOVE what I do. I will definitely work on this stuff in Spain, and I’m really interested in exploring other issues within education that I simply didn’t have the time or mobility to explore when I was in a classroom, monday-friday, from 7-4. This muse was about “freedom to create” as opposed to the “freedom to do nothing.”

    Tim, I would love to read a post about your world of education. I cried laughing in your book when you talk about refusing to learn the alphabet and just wanting to draw sharks. You seem to have a polar dynamic (similar to myself) with school. You are clearly involved in education (sending 10% of profits to teachers, guest lecturer, self-educated in many areas) but the institution of education just doesn’t seem like the place for you. I read all these posts on your site by people doing awesome things, and I wonder how much of an impact “school” had on their ability to kick ass.

    Furthermore, people seem to think that more schooling will help our economy improve. Get more degrees, go to more schooling, and our economy will prosper. However, I look at the real game changers in life, and school didn’t seem to be the determining factor. Creativity, hard work, passion, and a whole lot of ass-kicking seemed to be behind their success. Do schools do more to dampen these pivotal elements of success, and is our country trying too hard to be like other countries that obsess on learning in school (china, singapore, etc.) when we should be focused on cranking out students (like yourself and others on this blog) who aren’t defined by the degrees they have attained?

    I think a post about education and schooling would start a pretty sweet conversation on this blog. Everybody has been to school at some point, and everybody has their own story about how school impacted them. As always, we need you to lead us…

  58. Hey Tim,

    I love this series; I get an insight into your personal life which really helps me to see the greater perspective for myself when implementing many of your concepts from 4hww. It’s the closest thing I have to actually sitting down with you and discussing topics. These vids also help my mental mastermind 😉

    I wish you would expand on your language acquisition methods/tips — I’ve been glued to your Random episodes specifically for it. Even in the last 3 minutes or you shared some really potent info when it comes to Chinese acquisition.

    I concur with ‘B’ from a comment above, it would be absolutely amazing to see you do a language product. Knowing your attitude and mentality towards learning/language acquisition, I’d know you’d combine the cutting edge in neuroscience and learning psychology to produce an amazing product – I would buy it in an instant.

  59. Tony,

    Thanks for the elaboration. You’ve probably thought of this idea yourself already, but if not, this seems like it would be a great way to expand your business if you are ambitious:

    1) Find out what other tests are a challenge to prepare for in other states (maybe by asking on teachers’ forums in those states?).

    2) Find out who the best teachers in those subjects are in those respective states.

    3) Distill their methods into study guides and sell them in the relevant states.

    Also, I completely agree with your point about the overemphasis on formal education as a panacea for economic advancement in the U.S. If you click on my name and search my blog, you’ll find a number of posts about this topic. One of those posts commented on a group of entrepreneurs in Brooklyn who had carved out livings for themselves in culinary fields (from making chocolate to pickles to sausages, etc.). I noted that in an NY Times article about these entrepreneurs, not one of them learned his craft in a school: artisanal cheese makers learned theirs on a trip to Italy; the butcher learned his as an apprentice; the chocolate makers were largely self-taught, etc.

    I don’t think I’ve made this next point explicitly on the blog, but here’s a thought that comes to mind to me sometimes when I see someone studying for a difficult professional designation or a masters degree in a Starbucks: that’s a whole lot of ambition and mental energy getting channeled into a book, rather than in, say, a new business. Less competition for those of us trying to start businesses, I guess.

  60. You are correct in your approach to language acquisition. Most approaches focus on recognition and therefore students never learn to produce. While that may be okay if you are living in that particular foreign culture and you are forced to produce outside of the classroom, for most students it is not enough.

    That is the primary debate between EFL and ESL (English has a Foreign Language versus English as a Second Language). The publishers and most academics still haven’t really understood that difference yet. Virtually all approaches are still ESL based, however that is not how most of the world studies foreign languages.

  61. Hi Tim,

    I was wondering whether you ever evaluated the “Rosetta Stone” series of language teaching software. If so, how does it stack up against the rest out there?…Thanks.


  62. I’m always interested in the language learning suggestions of Tim. Because there are tons of books to choose from and no useful recommendations. That is of course due to the fact that people have different approaches to language learning.

    I’m a veeery relaxed language learner as I don’t force myself to learn something. I pick up words now and then … and after some time find myself understanding the language. BUT I cannot learn things by looking only at their pronunciations. I have to save a word along with its correct spelling.

    For Hindi: I recommend Rupert Snell’s “Teach Yourself Beginner’s Hindi”. I also watched a few Hindi movies, which made it a lot easier to remember words in context.

    For Arabic: I don’t recommend the Arabic learning book of the same series, though. Similarly I couldn’t use Michel Thomas’s Arabic course either. They were concentrating on the pronunciation, which differs a lot from country to country. Without having the spelling in the Arabic letters in my mind I couldn’t remember anything … it was confusing. So if you are familiar with the Arabic letters, find another book … and please let me know as well 🙂

    For Italian: Michel Thomas’s course for Italian is promising. I’m at the beginning but already like how the teacher spells every word. I got myself some dual-lingual books and already recognise words from the course.

    The best way to learn a language is for me reading. Reading stuff I like. I learned English by reading Agatha Christie books. Often times I would only understand who killed whom and how, but after some time I found myself understanding more and more. I would only look up words that appear so often that I knew I would remember their meaning.

  63. Tim,

    Since you were talking about iphones, and technology this brings up a suggestion. You might want to do a re cap on all technology tools that make working abroad easier.

    For example, with an unlocked iphone, pre paid data/internet plan, tethering, and a VOIP workournd to not require wifi to get online. My life abroad just got 100 times easier.

    Just a suggestion!

  64. Dear Tim,

    Great video, I planned to only watch the five tips for start ups but ended up going through the whole thing.

    Not to sound critical but some of your videos are pretty large and it would be nice that when you give your break down of what the topics in the video are you also included the times in the video where this transition between topics approximately takes place.

    Thanks for being such a wealth of information.

  65. The toughest part isn’t usually relearning a skill in an old lifestyle/culture, it’s committing on going back to that lifestyle to reinvigorate that once learned ability.

    Great vid with Digg Rose



  66. Tim,

    First off – hope you didn’t get that elbow problem from hurling! (Is maith liom do chamán!)

    Secondly – on the language learning topic, you might be interested in our website at http://www.memorista.com – we specialize in helping users learn foreign vocabulary using mnemonics. For the five languages we currently provide, there are about a hundred basic language items, and most have multiple mnemonics. While the website won’t teach language per se, it aims to fill a niche of quick vocabulary learning.

    Best of luck with the Mandarin!


  67. Hey Tim!

    Just a random thought – I think that it would be smart if you would use a favicon for your blog. I was going through the favorites section in my browser today and realized that I visit much more often the websites which have a representative icon next to their URLs.

    All the best,


    1. Hi Traian,

      Man, I tell you: I’ve been meaning to do this for months. I need a favicon! I’ll see what I can do…

      All the best and thanks for the reminder,


  68. As usual, nice work guys. I was particularly interested in Kevin’s review of the iPhone3Gs and how it’s a bit quicker. The side by side comparison of the Palm Pre/iPhone3Gs was interesting. I produce original music, sound and multi-language dialogue for mobile apps & games. I have every major phone here to test my audio assets to ensure quality, however, my personal phone is a Windows Mobile ‘smartphone’ and I actually prefer the tactile interface of the keyboard. I travel alot, bringing only my phone for email access/word docs. The great thing about mobile web is it’s limitations. When at home on my laptop, I tend to fall into this comfortable internet trance and really waste alot of time. These lazy surfing sessions are way harder on a mobile device so I end up being more efficient.

  69. Hi Tim-

    Another thoroughly enjoyable episode. I just wanted to let you know that I have finished writing MY first book, Think Like A Salesman!, and have put your book in the appendix as further reading for folks to continue on their path to success. Thanks for continuing to be an inspiration (and Kevin Rose too!) as I continue to create the life I have always dreamed of living…I am well on my way.

    Since reading your book, I have left my former employment, started my own company, moved overseas (England) and now run an international training business; not to mention the many holidays taken along the way! Not bad for a guy in his late 40’s.. If I can do it, so can anyone. Keep up the good work, hope to meet sometime when our traveling paths cross, I might even autograoh a copy of my book for you!

    Take care

    Brian a.k.a.That Business Trainer

  70. Hey guys,

    I would like to get your guys take on the spiritual world, and success being dictated by spiritual enegry and good intent. I feel like both of you guys have developed a nice pocket of alternative living, and for future episodes would really love to get your guys insight on such topics as meditation, the law of attraction and general daily mindfulness.

    Many thanks for being such an inspiration to both of yous,


  71. Tim.

    I read your book and made a lifestyle out of it. As you can tell by my IP address, I’m living in Brazil and having a blast with my 4 hour lifestyle.

    That’s why it pains me so much that, despite everything you’re teaching, you still produce these heavy hi-rez videos that can’t be watched in countries that have limited bandwidth.

    I would love it if you could find a way to give people like me access to your videos. (Even though I know you probably don’t dig youtube)

  72. Did a bunch of research on Dvorak keyboards a while back… what I found was that the “studies” done on the speed benefits Dvorak offers was actually one study funded at least in part by the creator of Dvorak. If I remember correctly, it involved the Navy and showed some improvement. The myth has kind of spread ever since.

    However, there have been more recent studies that show no real difference between the two formats – plus QWERTY is ubiquitous. I tried to learn Dvorak but found it to be a pain, especially because of the ubiquity of Qwerty boards everywhere.

    That said, I think it’s more worth our time to just get really really good at qwerty – but hey, feel free to prove me wrong!

    Full disclosure, I work for S.A.Q.K. aka the Society for the Advancement of Qwerty Keyboards.


  73. Hi guys love your work and your style – and had to giggle at the distraction that girls in skirts provided you!

    Really enjoy your thought provoking and various topics

    Regards Erin

  74. Great video. I’m fascinated Tim with your work on language learning. I’m currently fluent in Italian and I have a working knowledge of French, but there is always more to learn. I’d like to reactivate my French so I look forward to using your ideas.

    Just finished the Four Hour Work Week on my Kindle and it was very inspiring to the point that I’ll be planning my separation from my current job in the next few months and begin a life of self-employment and vagabonding. Thanks for that last push…



  75. I currently work in real estate and would like to expand into the international arena. What language would you reccommend learning to increase traveling opportunities and possibly work/live overseas?

  76. Hi, Tim

    I enjoyed this blog segment and surprisingly it made me question a few things. I am 19 years old and going into my second year of college, trying to get my life together. I just started attempting to learn my 3rd language (french) and completely agree with your view on how a new language or (revived one) should be learned. I am currently half way threw your book and completely on my way to changing my entire life and outlook on it. I found my self to have much in common with the way you think(from what i have read) and just basically live your life. I am starting a new business to not have to endure what my single mother has had to for much of her entire life the “9-5 monster”. I am also currently in the best shape I have ever been in to date (Not much when 19 I know haha). Anyways point being that while I was just watching your blog video, I noticed that you said you would be using flash cards to revise your mandarin and instantly thought “wow sounds like a lot of work” . With that being said I came to the realization that I tend to look at most things as just plain work. Which ends up making me feel unmotivated and making things just worse. Definitely some changes being made there.

    Well, I feel like i just wrote you a big wall of me ranting about my life and random things instead of an insightful comment but i hope you get something out of it haha. Just really wanted to say Thank You.

  77. Kind of a general question but hopefully someone can point me in the right direction. I know nothing about starting a business but desperately want to get out of the “rat race” and work for myself. Any suggested resources to gain the fundamental knowledge I need to move forward? Thanks!

  78. Great stuff like always but you should’ve shown the hottie. Kevin had a hard time concentrating on what you were saying at the end!