Amanda Palmer on How to Fight, Meditate, and Make Good Art (#67)

The Tim Ferriss Show with Amanda Palmer

“Work with the man when the man can help you make your art…”

– Amanda Palmer

“When in doubt, remember: At the end of the day, you get to do whatever the fuck you want.”

– Amanda Palmer

My guest this episode is Amanda Palmer, who first came to prominence as one half of the internationally acclaimed punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls.

Many of you have no doubt seen her surprise hit TED presentation, “The Art of Asking,” which has been viewed more than 6 million times. But her story goes much deeper, and, in this conversation, we delve into her routines, habits, creative process, relationships, business models, and more.

Her new book is aptly titled The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help.  I finished 50% and fundamentally upgraded my life in an afternoon of asking for help.  It’s one hell of a read.

Amanda is also widely known as “The Social Media Queen of Rock-N-Roll” for her intimate engagement with fans via her blog, Tumblr, and Twitter (1,000,000+ followers), and has been at the vanguard of using both “direct-to-fan” and “pay what you want” (patronage) business models to build and run her business. In May of 2012, she made international news when she raised nearly $1.2 million pre-selling her new album, Theatre is Evil, which went on to debut in the Billboard Top 10 when it was released in late 2012.

We get into it all, including war stories, cursing, and meditation techniques. It’s a fun ride. Enjoy!

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

Ep 67: Amanda Palmer on How to Fight, Meditate, and Make Good Art

Want to hear another podcast with a world-class musician? — Listen to my conversations with Justin Boreta of the Glitch Mob or Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. In the fomer, we discuss his meditation practice, morning routines, and creative process (stream below or right-click here to download):

Ep 62: The EDM Cinderella - How The Glitch Mob Exploded

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.  Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade.  Give it a test run…

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Have you ever overcome the fear of asking for help? Please share stories or examples in the comments!

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • The origin story behind the alias Amanda Fucking Palmer [4:40]
  • On the creative process behind The Art of Asking [7:40]
  • Simplification and honing in art and life [19:10]
  • Lessons learned as The 8-foot Bride [25:10]
  • What separates a good living statue from a great living statue [30:40]
  • Advice for effective use of eye contact [33:25]
  • Amanda Palmer’s meditation techniques [42:25]
  • Most gifted books [49:50]
  • Who is the first person you think of when you think of “successful” [55:50]
  • Common misconceptions about Amanda Palmer [1:02:10]
  • Why the Amanda Palmer fan base is so dedicated [1:09:40]
  • Lessons learned from the rebellion against Roadrunner Records [1:17:25]
  • If Amanda had to choose one online tool, which would it be and why? [1:25:40]
  • The dynamics of having two creatives in one household [1:26:55]
  • Rapid-fire questions: Drinks in Boston and advice for her 20-year old self [1:34:10]
  • Thoughts on flying solo or working with “the man” [1:37:25]

People Mentioned

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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40 Replies to “Amanda Palmer on How to Fight, Meditate, and Make Good Art (#67)”

  1. Dear Tim Ferriss, thank you, since you announced this podcast I have been waiting for it, now that is here, I can’t say how glad I am for you making this recording this, seriously, thank you.

  2. I always look forward to your podcast and was delighted to see who your guest was today. I’m currently reading Amanda’s book and thrilled at not only the lessons but the little stories and vignettes in each chapter.

    One thing to point out that I especially found refreshing was that this was a female guest. The podcast has been heavy on the voice of the dude so this was a real nice change of pace.

  3. What a delightful episode. Amanda is brilliant. And Tim, hats off to you for having her on the show. I always appreciate it when you interview smart, creative women. More please. 🙂

  4. I really enjoy this episode.

    One of the person I always want to see on your podcast is Neil Gaiman. I didn’t know before that Amanda was his spouse.

  5. Great interview. Amanda Palmer is just super.

    A subject that she bravely speaks about which I relate to more than ever is when she was hurt by the “get a job” heckling. As the 8 Foot Bride she was putting herself out there and doing something that had no real precedent. Doing unconventional work takes bravery and tough skin.

    I feel like that’s the name of the game now-a-days though… Thoughts?

  6. Thank you for your consistent inspiration! I really enjoy the balance of business and wellness you bring to the table. Great interview Tim and Amanda. Insightful words about meditation. Becoming a non judgmental witness can be tough…From listening to your podcasts Tim, I know you are not huge on yoga, I often wish I could come up with another word for yoga myself. To me, living yoga and meditation is what it’s all about. Check out our new project Yoga Trade. We are 3 friends with a vision to make the world a better place thru living yoga-based exchanges globally and locally. Community, travel, trade, wellness, adventure, meditation. We see uncertainty as possibility!!!! Grateful for all you do and your wise words.

  7. What’s the song called you played in the beginning? Should’t that be also somewhere in the shownotes? Don’t you think? Cheers!

  8. The eye contact exercises are really great. I really recommend this to anyone looking to deepen a relationship. Looking in eyes and connecting with someone is one of the most overwhelming emotions we can feel. Marina Abramović did a great piece called “The Artist is Present” at MOMA that made dozens of people burst into sobs, simply from being seen by another human.

  9. Tim, thank you for posting another wonderful and insightful interview for us all to enjoy and learn from. It’s been 11 years since we talked for hours after you sponsored Grapplers Quest back in the BodyQuicken Days. The Author success and personal accolades you’ve achieved are amazing and I’m proud to be one of your students in the craft of living. Keep inspiring and helping others and let’s connect for wine sometime when we cross paths again.

  10. Awesome interview. I watched Amanda’s Ted Talk (more than once it was so good) a year or so ago and loved it. I really enjoy her authenticity. Thank you!

  11. Hey Tim–

    Real quick:

    I learned pretty recently that asking for help is valuable in more ways then one. I’ve been able to increase efficiency, save money, and meet incredible people. Asking for help also saved my life– twice.

    Once from depression(long story short, I decided to be happy– yay!)

    The other time was from a houseless man in Denver. Apparently, he’d lived there for years and new the weather patterns. I was backpacking and he helped me get to shelter and made sure I had a place to stay for the night.



  12. Great Podcast.

    Tim, you should try and get Steven Kotler on as a guest. Dude knows everything there is to know about The Flow State.

    Perfect for the podcast

  13. You know when you go see a show of any kind any you aren’t expecting much and then you get blown away? I almost passed on this interview, It is nice to see a person who totally gets the business and life. She seems very connected to not only herself but life in general. Glad I listened, great podcast.

  14. Tim, Cool Amanda! I’m writing an e book tentatively entitled “How To Prosper Teaching English In China: Strategies For Wealth, Health And Happiness” and I want your permission to use your techniques to learn a language (English) fast, either by paraphrasing or linking. I would like to do the same with info on your slow-carb diet so teachers will be sharp and healthy. I lost about 45 pounds once, but stayed on cheat day too long, but am back on it and have lost 15 pounds and grooving. I’ve told hundreds of people about your books, so I’d like to become an affiliate also. I wrote a travel e book about China: “Hunting Elephants In China: Cheap Adventures Off The Beaten Track” available on Amazon I will soon make free.

    Thanks for all your inspiration and any comments pertaining to the above.


    Bruce Slaugenhaupt

  15. Tim –

    I loved this podcast. I am building a clothing business and am at the point where I cannot do everything myself anymore. If I want to move forward, I have to ask for help. So, I bought her book.

    I was fascinated by your admission of dealing with “profound loneliness” and your realization that you “can’t think your way out of this one”. I would love to hear more about your journey and discoveries in that area. Do you consider yourself an introvert, because I always wonder how that deeply affects our level of connection.

  16. Hi Tim,

    Can you please study “Eat to live” and let us know your take on it as it is against what you are recommending and maybe there is something true to it and we both maybe can still learn from it. I would appreciate your take as I like your empirical approach to live and being ready to really test things yourself.

    I hope you really will look into it as I am not sure what to believe anymore and what would be a good diet food wise. Plus the binge and all those eggs and meats are maybe totally wrong? I would be glad to receive an answer in the near future. Thanks a lot


  17. I think there is an interesting corollary here . . . I was in Mexico with my husband and their middle class family didn’t get so uncentered about poor people tapping on their windshield to sell gum or a cleaning. I think wealth disparity is less felt there, or something. There is not this “sales resistance” between ad hoc seller and customer like you see here.

  18. Amanda, you’re probably going to read this so I wanted to say that it’s nice to resonate with near everything someone says, refreshing and cathartic. The way you talk, is the same dialogue that I have internally and when externalizing the ideas and feels.

    You know when you’re talking to someone and you can’t figure out why there is a misunderstanding and then it becomes obvious that you both have different definitions/mental images of the same word, resulting in you both being on the same page but confused?

    Whatever that is, I don’t think I have it with you, you seem to have the same descriptive… language(?) as I. Where can I hear you talk more about meditation and emotions and whatever is in your head?

  19. Hello Tim,

    My question is this what does a 37 year old with a dead end career in social services do next. I found the internet 2 years ago in Nashville, TN been online for two years and desires to start a blog because I don’t want to miss the next boat to wealth. The internet is where the future is. In the last two years from just reading I’ve learned that I could have did things different when I was 18. All I have in my savings is $800 to my name. Basically I’m lost?



  20. Hey Tim,

    Love the podcasts and the books (haven’t gotten around to 4 hour body yet but working on it).

    I often read your emails on my phone and your mug shot and the certificate show up large and very pixelated. Is there any way you can fix this so the emails retain your professional touch.



  21. Thank you for another great episode, Tim.

    You’ve dropped hints about your newfound interest in AcroYoga recently, I would be happy to hear a full episode about AcroYoga someday.

  22. Tim, this is my favourite of your podcasts so far. I really loved it and it was exactly what I needed right now in my own artistic struggles. Amanda was fantastic. I especially loved her discussion of eye contact, meditation and defining success on your own terms –what will make you happy every day. So true. Gives me the courage I need right now.

    On a side note – I listened to this at the gym and said to myself “I’ll do jumping jacks while Amanda talks about her book recommendation until the end of that segment.” I’ve never done so many jumping jacks in my life! I was like oh, god, oh god! lol.

  23. Re: every successful artist having a hate-page dedicated to them . . . Where is Stevie Wonder’s hate-page?! I’ve always wondered this.

    But at any rate, thank you. This is so wonderful.

  24. Would love to hear Dr. David Katz on the podcast. I consider him one of the foremost experts on preventative medicine. I think his approach is a little different than Dr. Attia’s. This would create some nice diversity for the podcast in terms of maintaining ones health. Thanks!

  25. Fantastic interview, Tim and Amanda. Amanda’s voice and tone is authentic and candid, and she articulates with pauses or thoughtful choices of words in all the right areas. I wasn’t familiar with her prior to this interview, but appreciate her perspectives and look forward to reading her book.

    I’ve seen the art of asking for help show up powerfully for clients and friends when they’ve had the courage and clarity to ask. Part of the challenge is being clear on what you want in order to allow others to help you get it.

    Thanks for all that you do, Tim – your interviews always stick with me for days after I hear them.

  26. I rediscovered Amanda and her new book because of your podcast. I am very happy i got to learn more about Amanda and the book was very moving. I listened to it on Audible and having Amanda read it made me really feel like we now know each other and have a deeper connection. I was so inspired by the book, I think it became the catalyst for me overcoming my fear of asking my family for help in funding my startup effort. I knew I had to, but have been avoiding it and looking for other ways to gather my seed funding. So finally, after finishing the book, and feeling inspired and feeling like I need to just try and be volnurable… I did it, I asked my in-laws for help. I asked them to help me fund my project and help me reach Kickstarter… Where I will have to trust people I know a lot less to catch me again. Amanda’s book is a game changer. She helped me understand why I feel so uncomfortable about asking for help and asking for money specifically. I still don’t know if my in-laws will give me the money, but it was such a big step for me to ask, that I feel like I am better off already. Thank you so much for having her on your podcast.

  27. I got Amanda’s book and it was OK. It kind of stalls half way. I will soldier on an finish it. Dropping Ashes on the Buddha is really a great book and I recommend it. Thanks for the tip.

  28. I guess this episode was not as popular as the others. However, I just wanted to leave a comment here saying how much I loved it and how much insight I gained especially regarding relationships and my outlook towards life. It came at the right time and I am thankful to you and Amanda for this.

  29. Amanda Palmer’s Ted Talk was really inspiring. I would emphasize the importance of asking help whatever the reason is. Sometimes, creatives get a bit possessive of their works so they tend to ignore collaboration.

  30. How cool is this: went to amazon to buy Dropping Ashes on Buddha and the “Frequently bought together” paired Dropping Ashes and Bill Bryson: A Short History. This interview made quite the impression. well done!

  31. Hi I’m starting an experiment to go from fat to shredded in 12 months. I’m going to moving to Colombia (country, not my alma mater) and am working with a contest prep coach (even though I’m 30% body fat), am on my second anabolic cycle, and have located a world class plastic surgeon to create definition once the muscle is in place and the fat is around 10%. Since you too like interesting experiments – I though this would capture your attention. PS: will be using the slow carb diet from the book.



  32. I’m late to the party because I spend a lot of time in my my own art cave, as well as reading. First, I want to thank Tim for introducing me to Amanda via TOOLS OF THE TITANS, which prompted me to read THE ART OF ASKING. In a few days, I’ll be stepping out of my art cave while “waving my new watercolor” as I read some squeaky new baby art in public with a bunch of other writers, some with established works but others like me reading a work in progress. It’s a step out of my comfort zone and kettlebells for my courage muscles. I’m hedging my bets by rehearsing a lot to sound at ease. Thank you for all the inspiration.

  33. Amanda Palmer is raw and unadulterated and refreshing and real, but the space between the lines, the air between the words is the real genius of this episode. It’s Tim Ferriss allowing Amanda to perform which is to say just allowing her to reveal herself openly, safely, profoundly without inane interruption. I listened to this a few times and each successive time the moments of her rawness hit me harder and deeper, like more wasabi for my emotions. Thank you Tim.