Meet "Scorpion," The Real-Life Santa Claus


“I believe that peace means that one person has the biggest stick. I build those sticks.” – Walter O’Brien

UPDATE: This episode ended up sparking a lot of controversy. Many skeptics asked pointed questions about Walter’s background, claims, and credentials (often pointing to pages like this or this). This is the first time I’ve run into such an issue with the podcast, so it took me some time to figure out how to respond.

Here is my post-game analysis, as well as Walter’s response.

I struggled with whether or not to take down this episode and blog post entirely.  In the end, I decided it was more instructive to leave the below original up (with this new preface) and add an audio note to the beginning of the podcast (coming soon).

I’m hoping it will help us all improve, especially yours truly. Thank you for all of your feedback.

Walter O’Brien (AKA “Scorpion”) (@walterobrienscs) is the founder of Scorpion Computer Services and, a for-hire global think tank that provides intelligence-on-demand as a concierge service. The tag line for the latter is, “for any funded need.”

  • Need to defend against chemical warfare?
  • Move an entire manufacturing operation over a weekend?
Save a loved one from a deceitful spouse?
Thread the needle on a thorny legal issue?
  • Become a pop star in a foreign country?

When Walter and his team of 2,000+ distributed geniuses say “any funded need,” they mean it literally.

Born in Ireland, Walter was diagnosed as a child prodigy with an IQ of 197. He became an Irish national coding champion and competed in the Olympics in informatics.

Fast forward to today, he and Scorpion get paid to fix every imaginable problem for billionaires, startups, governments, Fortune 500 companies, and people like you and me. On the large side, it ranges from mitigating risk on $1.9 trillion of investments to inventing artificial intelligence engines to protect United States war fighters in Afghanistan.

Walter is also the executive producer of the hit CBS TV show Scorpion, inspired by his life, which has reached more than 26 million television viewers.

I was introduced to Walter well before the show, and we go deep in this conversation, with lots of amazing and also hilarious examples of problem solving.


Meet "Scorpion," The Real-Life Santa Claus

Want to hear another podcast from a world-class computer scientist? — Listen to my conversation with Luis von Ahn, the founder and CEO of DuoLingo. In this episode, we discuss learning languages, building companies, and changing the world (stream below or right-click here to download):

#135: Luis Von Ahn on Learning Languages, Building Companies, and Changing the World

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What is a problem you would like to have ConciergeUp solve for you? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • How Walter O’Brien began his relationship with NASA [8:15]
  • How Scorpion came to be [13:20]
  • The Emotional Quotient vs. Intellectual Quotient phenomenon [15:05]
  • The origin story of the name Scorpion and current status of the company [16:40]
  • The largest project Scorpion Computer Sciences has worked on [20:05]
  • How Scorpion implements “any funded need” solutions [20:42]
  • The “Gold Digger” story [23:07]
  • The current state of head transplants and why it may be of interest [30:00]
  • Why Walter O’Brien has never tried alcohol [38:28]
  • How Walter O’Brien cultivated a higher EQ [43:25]
  • Thoughts on developing the skill of rational thinking [45:30]
  • Meditative practices [53:10]
  • On virtual reality [57:15]
  • What is ScenGen? [1:04:20]
  • Are high IQ intellectuals more susceptible to emotional highs and lows? [1:12:47]
  • Cognitive patterns in people with high IQ [1:14:54]
  • How the TV show Scorpion came to be [1:16:45]
  • When you think of the word successful who is the first person who comes to mind and why? [1:30:22]
  • How Walter O’Brien gets out of a funk [1:32:09]
  • Most gifted books [1:33:20]
  • What purchase of $100 or less has most positively affected your life? [1:34:40]
  • Advice to Walter O’Brien’s 30-year-old-self [1:37:45]
  • On the challenge of sleeping [1:39:35]
  • Particular morning routines [1:41:35]
  • Thoughts on New Year’s resolutions, goal setting and completing the to-do list [1:42:30]
  • Historical figures that Walter O’Brien identifies with the most [1:43:50]
  • If you could put one billboard anywhere, with anything on it, where would it be and what would it say? [1:45:00]
  • Final words and asks of the audience [1:48:10]

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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308 Replies to “Meet "Scorpion," The Real-Life Santa Claus”

  1. Thanks for the post, Scorpion is one of my favorite shows! It’s so cool to learn a bit more about the real Walter O’Brien 🙂

  2. Hi Tim, I enjoyed the Podcast with Walter.

    In a future podcast could you sit down with Marcus Lemonis? He has a show on CNBC called the Profit. I think you’ll find that he has high integrity and a good heart.

    1. Hey Tim, I was about to raise these concerns too. have you seen his website? For a $1.3B company, this is horrendous:

      And then there are these claims tied into the article Sean mentioned above:

      Are Sean and I seriously missing something? Or is this guy a phonie? I mean I enjoyed the interview and all but if it’s dodgy…

      1. Also not defending the guy, but reference point 5 above, I noted from a quick read of the Sussex University article “Walter and his team-mates had previously come sixth in the world in a similar competition held in Wisconsin…”. Also, studying COGS at Sussex University isn’t something you get to do without ability.

      2. Tim, you should research the people who you’re going to interview a bit more..This guy is a flat out joke charlatan. Get Nassim Taleb on your show then you’ll be cooking w gas!

    2. YES, I’m glad you and many others here also realized there is something off about Walter. When I saw this podcast come up, I was shocked how he conned his way into it. I met this guy many years ago through a mutual introduction, and after a few times hanging out with him I had a strong suspicion that he was a fraud. I researched him and his company the same sort of discrediting proof came up, nothing he claimed could be substantiated or verified. As a car enthusiast, he would also brag about his not so great cars, with exception to the Lamborghini Countach he claimed he had. Growing up admiring this car, I was DYING to see his car, and when that day finally came I noticed right away that his car was in fact a REPLICA! A cheaply done one at that. For someone who made all these millions and worked on billion/trillion dollar projects to try and pass off his Feiro kit car as a real Lamborghini was all the proof I needed to know that he was a fraud. Never talked to him again.

      1. yeah, totally agree.. I feel he talks in all generalities and buzzwords and what he’s saying about his history sounds off in so many ways. Clearly psychopathic self-aggrandizement. He rented out a Starbucks during business hours for his billionaire sting operation and filled it with actors? come on..Starbucks are company run stores.

        If you want to hear what someone successful with IQ an over 150 sounds like listen to a youtube video by Demis Hassabis.

      2. Scott – Demis Hassabis would be an incredible interview…or maybe not; he is almost certainly too intelligent to keep up with, and I doubt he speaks in the kind of Hollywood-cliché-generator lines which make for good copy…you know, like “when I was 13, I invented the DDOS”, “I have an IQ of 197”, and so on.

  3. I really urge everyone to do a little background on this guy, and it is rather obvious that all of his claims are completely unsubstantiated. It’s a very interesting interview, but it somewhat discredits the entire process when you discover that there is nothing to back up anything what this man has claimed. Would a 1 Billion dollar business have a P.O. Box as their office location, and have a website that looks as basic as theirs is? Very disappointed in this interview without some proper vetting first.

  4. I’m looking for audiobook recommendations for a project these podcasts inspired. After Seth Godin’s interview, a friend and I took his advice and are making a practice out of repeatedly listening to a select set of wisdom-rich audiobooks (The War of Art was the first one I got, and it was well worth it). This also follows Seneca’s advice of not wasting too much time reading broadly. So the idea is to get as much value as possible for the time spent.

    Walter O’Brien’s ideas about developing emotional intelligence seems to fit perfectly with this concept. Instead of actively observing experts and receiving EI coaching from experts, we can select books that are the best available for a number of aspects of EI (or life in general) and reprogram our own admittedly amateur reactive thinking.

    I have several categories in mind, and a few books, but I was hoping to get recommendations for exceptional audio-books that specifically offer master insights in a wide range of personally relevant categories. I’d appreciate any thoughts or recommendations from anyone!

  5. Hey Tim, do not be fooled by Walter O’Brien. Most of what he says is completely made up. The guy is a pathological liar. Read Mike Masnick over at or even just check out his wikipedia page.

  6. Hey Tim, Walter O’Brien lied to you. He lies to everyone, and hasn’t a shred of evidence backing up his claims. There’s even a section on his wikipedia page calling him out.

  7. Just a quicky (oh, and great stuff, thank you!!) that stuff about the navy seals not breathing for 20 minutes… how do they get rid of all their co2 during that time – isn’t it excess co2 that causes our “breathing urgency”?

    1. while under water one can not breath in, you would drown if you do that, but you can definitly breath out, expelling the co2.

  8. How about if we start a “go fund me” campaign and raise money to pay Walter’s think tank to figure out how to get the military planes and Chem companies to stop spraying Chemtrails and save the planet? Or has somebody already paid Scorpion to do the opposite? 😉

  9. Truly a phenomenal interview. There was so many practical takeaways from this entire show. Loved his real-life answers to the rapid-fire questions at the end. I love how he prioritizes against things that have single points of failure.

  10. If Scorpion were to solve a problem for me it would be this: I am a Chiropractor in Australia, and Chiropractic in this country (and in the USA) has an element of negative brand equity, and an often mediocre public perception. There are people in every profession who are on the fringes but the problem we have is how to communicate on a large scale just how positive making Chiropractic a part of a healthy lifestyle can be. The general public can benefit greatly from using the services of trained, register Chiro’s, so how do we get the message across that what we do is safe, gentle and effective?

    PS – yours is my favourite podcast by some margin. Thanks for doing it, and anytime you want to do a podcast ‘on the road from down under’ I will be there!

      1. BS, Peterson! I’ve been helped tremendously by “Alternative Medicine” including chiropractic. I’ve also seen many lives completely transformed by it. In contrast, “conventional” MD’s almost killed me in childhood by the inherent dangers and side-effects of many of their treatments. After years of struggling to find answers in conventional medicine, getting steadily worse and worse, I was able to heal myself completely using Chiro, nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture, and other “Alternative” treatments. “What do you call medicine that works? Alternative Medicine.”

  11. Awesome, down-to-earth interview with a true genius. SO many practical, real-world takeaways from this. Loved his answers to the rapid fire questions at the end. Interesting how simple his answers were and how he prepares to avoid “single points of failure.” Great interview Tim!

  12. Hey Danny,

    I think the backup marketplace is too crowded to start from scratch. Crashplan is probably the most prominent service with Carbonite and others being up there as well. It would probably be pretty hard to compete with them. Though, I’m all for finding your muse and asking for feedback! 🙂

    1. It’s not the person who was conned who was to blame but the con who ran the hustle. We can all be fooled. Tim should leave the podcast up and post a caveat, and links that disprove the information

      “Scorpion” endorsed.

  13. Is this guy for real? Just because they have a fascinating TV show doesn’t mean it’s real. I need to verify this before listening. (the tone of Wikipedia & Techdirt doubts his veracity)

    1. Be careful Zoe, everywhere I look Walter’s claims don’t stack up. Whatever you do, definitely do not get your drug addicted son involved.

      Tim, you it owe to us to call this guy out, it’s flat out dangerous to promote someone like Walter O’Brien.

  14. ConciergeUp, can you solve this problem? I am trying to figure out if US financial system and monetary policy are fundamentally sound. I worry that they may not be and I want to hedge against another major collapse. But, as small retail investor, I don’t know what my best options are.

  15. Tim, you are the best really but if you do a little research on Walter O’brien I think you will find reasons to be extremely skeptical. Not sure if you screen him or if you just thought it was an interesting story but I think some healthy skepticism and critical thinking goes a long way here.

    BTW love the podcast. Keep’em coming!!

    and for a good laugh or laughs

  16. Was anyone else’s BS alert system going off on this guys backstory and actual career? Hear me out, he sounds like an intelligent, connected guy, but don’t you think he would be on to bigger things than consistently shilling for a CBS show over the past few years and trying to get us to ask for gigs that start at a measly 5K? What are the odds none of us have heard about the actual company Scorpion or hear about them in the news like we do for other special ops companies like this. Even his IQ claim is pretty bogus. Reddit was all over this. Check out his response to his IQ claim on his Reddit AMA, or just google his name and “fraud”.

    That said, I agreed with pretty much everything he said. I still enjoyed the podcast and would recommend it for the solid advise, but just realize it’s good advice regardless of the source.

  17. TV show or not, I need to research if this guy is real or not. Not very good article on him in wikipedia and TechDirt is skeptical as well

    1. Don’t want to be a wet blanket but I was thinking the same thing whilst listening too, did a quick search and up came the articles…

      1. I’m trusting Tim Ferriss on this one. I’m certain Walter O’Brien has figured out what to say to maximize the benefit to him and his business and how to say it as economically as possible.

        He won me over by his comments on apathetic people. They are the worst.

      2. I use many of Tim’s podcast interviewees as role models. I don’t want to role model the “wrong” attributes. Tim knew him before the TV show, perhaps he has more inside info that he can let us in on.

      3. I’m a programmer and not terribly black hat, but I’m getting a strong, strong scent of BS from this guy. His website looks like it’s from 1995, none of his more major claims (including “invented the DDOS attack” in this podcast, as well as the 197 IQ score) have any evidence for them whatsoever, and all of the clients he lists in his references section are relatively inconsequential — exactly the sort of clients you might expect if, for example, a company had a flashy (if inane) television show based on it.

    2. Absolutely. I was a bit struck by how he said its a 1.3 billion USD company and all the case studies on the website are 15 years old or more. Have a look at Palantir’s site, that’s a 1 billion in revenue firm….

      1. Corrected & noted thanks. That means 43m USD a year since he first opened the doors. Not likely on a project by project deal pipeline, thats a full time sales team rocking in projects right after the other and no sales people seem to exist on LinkedIn or anywhere else.

      2. Heather, PR Newswire merely distributes press releases provided by its members. STRYKE and Scorpion probably wrote that up themselves.

  18. The content on head transplants is laughably wrong and poorly thought through. Of all the complexities involved in such an undertaking one of the most glaring omissions is the lack of consideration for the role immunology will play. 1st world healthcare systems can barely manage transplant rejection now let alone the interplay between such a sheer amount of tissue and the foreign CNS and head. That a surgeon is considering carrying out a head transplant in the coming 3 years is no better than vivisection. If “Scorpion” gets head transplants sideways what else has he missed?

    1. And why not go 100% organic food, ultra healthy lifestyle so you can live longer naturally and catch the wave of life extending tech? Nah, I’ll eat ding dongs and drink root beer waiting for a new head.

  19. What was the name of that computer language used to make ScenGen again? After multiple replays I hear “raw nzc” which yields nothing in Google.

      1. But calling ANSI C a forgotten language is puffery. Threw me off. (I’ve done a fair amount of coding in C. Still do from time to time.)

      2. But if you look at the wiki link, nowhere does it mention “raw”, and us programmers are the sort to argue over tabs vs. spaces, etc 🙂 hence the kerfuffle over O’Brien’s odd choice of words. ANSI C is certainly valid, but “Raw” ANZI C is not. Raw, in the software world, is usually used to refer to something before it’s been transformed into a friendlier format, I guess the closest example in layman’s terms (heh heh) would be the the raw image format created by a digital camera. From wikipedia: “A camera raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of either a digital camera, image scanner, or motion picture film scanner.” So nobody says “Raw” when referring to a language really, but who knows, maybe in Ireland? By itself, this mistake wasn’t so bad, but in high contrast to the Louis Von Ahn (Duolingo), O’Brien came off as your typical “sysadmin from hell” computer stereotype, i.e the one, when the pointy haired boss asks a question, mumbles something about dept first regression and raw Anzi C and cloud-native architecture (see latest Dilbert), and thus many a computer mess hath been created. This is where the “Five Whys” comes in, and is a great way to stop an disaster like this in the tracks. I just heard today Accenture is known colloquially as “Accidenture” due to their skill at turning simple tasks into giant, expensive messes. Hey, go figure.

  20. Interesting about Bill Gates. Be greedy when you’re young and then charitable when you are older? Wasn’t that the same for Carnegie and some other philanthropists? Great episode..

    1. At the age of 13 in the year of 1988:

      At 10:02 “(…) 4 days later, I invented a denial of service attack and reverse torrent and pieced together bits of binaries and concatenated it and got it all down (…)”

  21. I’m a genius but I’m at best a half assed doer. That’s why I listen to your podcast for inspiration.

    Your opportunity cost comment about dissatisfaction from choice applies to people with regular jobs and financial resources. Knowing oppurtunity cost between two choices causes indecision and regret for most people.

  22. When I saw this episode in my Pocket Casts list, my first thought was “he deceived Tim Ferris too”, then I came to post some links, but found a lot of good ones already. Thanks everyone.

  23. Tim, Walter, amazing podcast!!! I had a braingasm! – Thank you!!!

    Life University.

    I always think we need one, all the time, maybe we need to create an online one at least, place to teach people how to take care of our body (basic nutrition, cooking, importance of exercise and breathing etc.), mind, finances, improve social resilience etc. – all those necessary basics to NOT die from heart attack or diabetes, or depression at the very least, to not be broke and suicidal… I believe someone who will deliver this idea to mass-market somehow in entertaining and compelling way…maybe through VR…who knows… will make…lots of money


    Question to Walter. how are you so good with computer languages (79 mastered back in your teens) and not good with natural languages that is basically the same thing? I always thought that because I’m naturally good with human languages computer languages are easy for me. Cause it’s basically telling a machine what to do in its native language.

    Do you think it has something to do with emotional intelligence? And not being able to connect to your intuition and gut feeling and mental intelligence at the same time?

    When I speak or learn a foreign language I pick up a lot from non-verbal communication, emotions of people, gestures etc.

    Head Transplants:

    Again Walter, Tim…

    Do you think head transplants can really transplant one person’s essence to a different body? Do you really think that what we are as people, it’s all in the brain, in the head space? Do you think we are in fact just a collection of data stored on a molecular level in the brain? What about our emotions? They are not stored and originate from the brain, do they?

    What about studies showing that we have separate “brain” in the heart and that it sends more signals to the brain than vice versa? That makes scientists question the location of the “ultimate governor” of the body and person.

    Do you really believe that consciousness is just a product of the brain and it resides there? And if not, how can a human being be reassembled “mechanically”, if consciousness, our true self, is not in the brain at all? Maybe essence, who we are, has not so much to do with our physical brain or any other organ? (Remember that scene from Avatar, when they put Jake Sully’s Essence/Personality into a different body? They were not concerned too much with head transplants, I know it’s just a movie but still.)

    Do you really believe there is NO metaphysical aspect to who we are? Something beyond what we can observe with certainty through our senses?

    Isn’t a true purpose of science is to discover and explain (or try to) things we yet to prove and yet to understand? Things we can observe results of and have a intuitive feeling of their origin? Things that don’t make full sense in today’s scientific reality?

    Like feeling “something is not right” before major disaster in our life?

    Or thinking about a person and they call us right away?

    Wasn’t death from bacterial infections considered “mysterious and magical” at some point before we fully developed the toolkit to observe bacteria?

    Suffering of people with High IQ:

    I have no idea what my IQ is but I do know that I grasp things easier and faster than most people I know on many levels, most things/skills/tasks I encounter come easy to me and do not pause a challenge big enough, that’s why I lose motivation for and interest in a lot of pursuits…And that’s why the whole world seems to me mad and crazy because I see simple solutions to big problems that many see as too simplistic or too crazy…

    Definitely makes it harder to connect with lots of people…

    I want to make people to live till 1000 and most people tell me I should think of getting rich instead that for me (for whole lot of reasons is a stupid goal).

    Just sharing…Maybe you have a solution. Sometimes I believe I’ve been given too much to handle, abilities I still can’t figure out how to handle or where to apply…

    Any advice?

    My favorite Quote:

    “If you come to a fork in the road – take it”

    Similar to one of my favorite quotes by Peter Diamandis, “Peter’s Laws”: “When given a choice, take both”

  24. Dear Tim,

    I until today was a big fan of your shows. But interviewing somebody like O’Brien who is so obviosly fake leaves me with a really bad feeling. If you do such a bad fact checking before an interview, this tells me a lot about your style of work and makes your other stuff appear less worthfull spending my time on.

  25. Hi TIM,

    Thanks for this episode. It did indeed blew my mind!

    Unfortunately, to much of Walter’s background stories seem to be hugely exaggerated or just false, as Reddit and TechDirt clearly show.

    I don’t think you should help promote these stories as real, even though it might inspire one in some weird illusional way. Best to put up a disclaimer?!

  26. Can’t believe you would link yourself to this guy Tim, honestly your hovering just on the border between reality and spoof yourself. This guy is a well known con man who has tricked media all over the world and like yourself they have ate it up and helped to propagate it even more. You are really endangering your brand here in my opinion. This really calls into question lots of the other guests you’ve had who I wasn’t so sure on but due to my lack of knowledge about them thought to give a chance as they came recommended by you. Seriously though even a bit of light googling shows this guy as a complete fraud and you didn’t even question him it.

  27. Good morning

    I’m currently listening to this podcast and find it extremely interesting, Love the fact that Walter is doing such amazing things with his gift and helping people.

    It got me thinking how useful his services would be in our country and how he would solve issues we’re currently facing.

    For example we have a dumbass government running our country into the ground, instead of solving problems like the current drought we are facing the smartest thing they could come up with was that its apartheid’s fault, no one takes accountability for anything, number 1 problem of the human race now a days.

    ” A former Queenstown (Eastern Cape) town Councillor asked one of the present Councillors what the current state of affairs was regarding our water supply considering that we have not had much rain lately and were running low. He was told it was the fault of the ‘previous apartheid regime’

    When the previous Councillor asked how he worked that one out he replied…………….. ” You built the dams too big , so they take a long time to fill. You should have built them smaller, they would fill quicker and we would have plenty of water and never run out.”……… I mean seriously…

    or taking the ostrich approach and denying entirely that we actually have a water crisis.

    The other issue we have is the rampant drug trade going on in our country, Did you know that we have a section of JHB that the police specifically avoid even though they know the people there are taking drugs and selling it in the area? Im sure that goes on all over the world, but to just turn a blind eye on something like that is that not condoning what they are doing? but worries me more is how prevalent it is in our area and not just in poor areas but the fact that they are infiltrating our schools and households.

    Men who are supposed to be responsible husbands or fathers are falling victim to it as a form of escapism from the stresses of their work or family life leading to more problems and woman becoming victims of their abuse when they get agitated. I sadly hear so many stories of cases such as these just in our social circle alone there are 2 mothers who’s sons are currently in rehab, a wife who is dealing with a husband who takes drugs behind her back, a mother who had to find out her son was arrested for buying drugs, family members who are hooked on some sort of drug and refuse to acknowledge its an issue even though they ended up living on the street, just to name a few… and I would genuinely like to help them in a way that would really make a difference but I neither have the funds nor the support to really make an impact (or maybe I’m not thinking hard enough)

    I highly doubt I could afford the services of the Scorpion to solve issues such as these but it would be extremely interesting to find out if this kind of thing falls in your “any” category or even just to get an idea on how you would tackle these kinds of problems….

  28. Come on, Tim. Did you at least fact check up on this guy before interviewing him? I question how reliable IQ tests can be once people score over 150. At that level you’re basically answering every set question accurately and the rest comes down to timing. With nothing to show for it, are we meant to just believe he’s telling the truth? Besides that, I literally couldn’t find any credible sources to back up all the other things he’s claimed.

    Usually I can pick out at least one or two useful pieces of information from these podcasts (and that’s on a bad day). Maybe it’s just me, but I learned nothing today. All I got from him was carefully coated bullshit with zero substance. If there actually was anything of significance to be taken away from this, please let me know. Maybe this time around, I’m just inept at understanding what he had to say.

    I apologize, Walter, if everything you claimed turns out to be true. However, you can understand how one would be skeptical, right?

  29. I enjoyed the interview even though felt that some of the stories were a bit too much “scripted” (like the golddigger story).

    Then I made the mistake to google Mr. Scorpion and came across several articles debunk in many claims he has made.

    Unfortunately they were much more convincing than O’Brian in the interview.

    This got me thinking:

    Why did Tim – one of the smartest guys around – fell for this guy if he is the fraud some people claim he is?

    Was it because they were introduced by someone who Tim trusts and he then proceeded under bias that makes us seek evidence that supports our believes?

    Or has Tim seen some actual evidence that proves beyond doubt that Walter O’Brian is the genius he claims to be.

    I’d love to hear why Tim really thinks O’Brian is the real deal — and not just a great storyteller with great lies and some mental issues.

    1. Completely agree. I was so taken away by the stories that I didn’t think at all that there was anything wrong. I do feel that Tim needs to do a quick followup with his explanation. Still 100% on Tims boat because he backs stuff up with substance.

  30. wooow this definitely is one of the most amazing interviews ever!!!!! if you have this in February, I don’t know how your going to top this!

  31. Thanks for the Podcast. Not aware of that show here in the UK, but what a facsinating guy.

    Hi Tim and Walter,

    Is there any chance that list of Top 10 books is published somewhere?

    QOTD – I would like Walter to answer a question about farming. How can British farmers react to the situation a lot of us are in where our businesses live or die by the swings in the commodity prices?

    As an arable farmer, myself and my peers seem to be stuck in this situation where our profitability is now dependent on which side of bed the commodity speculators get out of. How can you ‘add-value’ to commodities?

    Would be interested to hear his thoughts.

    Thanks gents. Brilliant stuff.

  32. His website looks like the website of a typical IT services company. Look at the specialties of his top employees (adobe, ms office etc.). If it turns out that he’s full of shit, it has to be one of the greatest dupes ever – CBS based a primetime TV show on his life.

  33. Hi,


    I’m going to listen to this podcast multiple times!

    Thank you Tim for this profound guest!!

    I’ve been watching the tv-show Scorpion and some times I had a feeling like sure why not jump off the cliff or going up in the balloon…

    I always thought it’s tv it’s entertainment, but now I think everything could happen :-).

    Any Funded Need… hmm

    I have a very personal need, Now I’m 29years old.

    I’ve been in pain for 10 years

    (3 surgeries low back L5-S1 fusion, they messed up the first surgery)

    trying to get to a normal life.

    I did a lot to fix this or cope with it, not coping in the sense of “I give up” but in managing time & energy to get “a” result. But it’s getting harder every year because the chronic pain made my body oversensitive which leads to more pain which leads again to .. and so on. My body is not getting “fitter” but neither is my mind.

    The only thing a hear from “doctors” is everything looks ok (padding themselves on the back) and suggesting to pop pills for my “minimal pain and discomfort”.

    I know this is not gonna save the world , but it’s my need.

    thank you for the great content & insights!

  34. How can I streamline the operations of a medical weight loss practice and improve the culture so that we increase value and make the model scalable (I.e. National)?

  35. Tim,

    A sincere thank you for your podcasts, and doing what you do, it has added tremendously to my life.

    I also am a bit troubled by what I have found doing some research on Walter as others have mentioned, it seems he has convinced some very high up the military food chain marketing his IQ as his credentials. I find the idea of questioning a person’s authenticity that might be as involved in the military as claimed and have a fair amount of influence within very unsettling.

    I hope this does not come off as being small minded, or petty, I have never met Walter and try not to be quick to judge. I just finished the interview feeling a bit not sure about some of the responses and claims. Which led me to search around a bit on him. The holes on the internet leave me feeling that he is more about creating the persona that the military wants, rather than being that person they found.

    I still absolutely loved the format of this interview, and still gained many ideas from it.


  36. Tim,

    I find Walter’s quote of “I believe that peace means that one person has the biggest stick. I build those sticks.” very interesting.

    Before there was a ConciergeUp and a Scorpion, there was the Socrates Project in the Reagan White House. Socrates was the massive “big stick” that President Reagan used in negotiations with Gorbachev to convince him to dismantle the Soviet Union.

    If you want more information on Socrates pls let me know. I was the founder and Director of the Socrates Project.


    Michael C. Sekora

    1. Great as a sound bite, but what does it really mean? Any way you slice it, it’s certainly not an unassailable truth anyway: the ruled under a tyrant probably wouldn’t call that state of affairs peaceful (“orderly” maybe, “peaceful” not so much).

      Not sure the quote applies any better in practice: hasn’t the one with the biggest stick been made to play an expensive and extensive game of whack-a-mole for the better part of a century at this point? And isn’t *using* the stick non-peaceful, by definition?

      Curious how effective the “massive ‘big stick'” has really been – Iran may have been held in check militarily and economically (more than 1 stick??), but what about numbers of states that continue to challenge the U.S. hegemony? (ESPECIALLY the Russians and Chinese)

      Lastly, Walter may not be quite as prolific at stick-making as he lets on (“technology” as the third stick??)

  37. Thanks TIM for this really amazing interview, i would argue your best; a quick search trough the interwebs and you find a lots of challenges to his claims, nevertheless still impressive even if some are exagerated. Really interested in his personal book club, i can see some of them, you have already posted on the show notes. Any insight in the recruiting process of scorpion?

    PS. This episode really kept me up all night

  38. Would write a detailed insightful wish in the near future.

    At hand I have a immediate challenge. The feeling of being stuck is raising my cortisol levels to a unprecedented level.

    I believe this wish/challenge is worth more than 5k. Probably 10 percent of my future earnings..

    I have to choose between 2 woman.

    Y. She is beautiful. Gorgeous. Exciting. Known less than a month. Definitely in love with her. She has a temper though. Extreme ends of emotions with her. Very happy and very sad. She is like a soul mate. We can just talk forever.

    W. 7 in the looks. Not exciting but caring. Very patient. Puts up with my shit. Known 3 years. There is love for sure but maybe not intense. Affection is a apt word. Passion might be lacking. Future should be stable and plaid.

    Now I am in 21 day hermit mode. Told both I need this time. No contact. Just going through demons from the past. Evaluating my strengths . Weaknesses. What is me. What makes me happy. Pretty sure whoever I choose is the one I would marry.

    Though Y has already said good bye. She can’t wait.

    W is accommodating and kind. She said she is okay waiting.

    I just want to know who I should choose . To follow love?

    Even if in the end I lose both. Just want clarity. And wake up with vision.

    By now you might have guessed. I cheated on W. Y knows about W but W is in the dark.

    How would a genius go about this..

    And because a happy relationship would make me liable to earn much… thus I believe this is more than 5k answer. Can’t really tag a amount to it though.

    Choosing a right mate.. how much is it worth?

    1. Sounds to me like you really shouldn’t be with W.

      If you do choose W, I doubt you will be happy. Because everything she does ‘wrong’ in your eyes will be compared to what you think Y would have done.

      Choose Y.

      If you don’t you will always end up wondering, and that will lead you to not giving W the attention and love she deserves.

      But in general, just make a decision. Keeping people waiting isn’t a nice thing to do.

      That’s my 2p worth.


      And by the way. You should probably refrain from scoring women on looks and attaching monetary values to relationships. It doesn’t come across very well.

    2. Date Both!

      Go out in nature, Enjoy sharing time!

      In 21 days you will know, what path to follow.

      No need to rush. Decisions, when they come, will answer themselves.

      Have open Heart, and no judgement, for anything.

      Be your Best for them, give them your True self and BE the Love.


    3. Sounds like Y might have a psychological disorder (read about BPD and see if it rings true). If that’s the case, she will seduce you, then proceed to chew you up, spit you out, and spend months complaining about how bad you tasted. You’ll tell yourself that you’re happy with her until she beats you to an emotional pulp and you’re forced to admit that she was the biggest mistake you ever made. Never make a relationship decision based solely on emotion and excitement. Read Mark Manson’s articles on relationships.

  39. The whole your body is in the game is how I feel when playing League of legends (free to play online game) and its not even realistic to reality lol games are getting better and better at sucking you into them every year. can’t wait for the future of gaming.

  40. Wrap your head around this one:

    “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

    Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.

    “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    So are My ways higher than your ways

    And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8–9)

  41. I have first-hand experience to say that he’s an absolute psychopath and a master bullsh*t artist. This episode should be very entertaining – I look forward to listening.

    Reach out if you want more details, Tim. 🙂

  42. Usually I try to have an open mind to even the most controversial guests on the podcast. But this guys sets off my BS detector like no other. Not only do his claims sound improbable, but most of all they are fashioned in such a incredibly cliche way. The whole ‘misunderstood genius that is above the folly of the common man’ shtick. Furthermore I understand that Tim doesn’t have a technical background, but everything this guy says about technology sounds specifically designed to impress non technical people. Just one example was his claim of being _fluent_ in 79 programming languages. My mom would think that sounds cool. A programmer on the other hand would react with: “sure you do”.

    On top of these issues his all to prevalent use of buzz words and bro-science was uncharacteristic for the usually high level of Tim’s guests. So I took and googled his name and found his Q&A (IAMA) on Reddit which exactly embodies my sentiment.

    So I wonder, is this guy able to substantiate any of his claims?

  43. An even cursory glance at the Google machine quickly shows that this “genius” is almost undoubtedly a charlatan and fraud. Which is a shame because the interview was fascinating. The real disappointment is that Tim decided to play along.

  44. So many hard questions unanswered in this podcast. Why didn’t Walter get his IQ ratified my Mensa? why he claims 6th in the Olympiad but records show Ireland was 90th.Why do business records show him at a 1-10 million revenue company with 1-15 employees but he claims so mush more?. why is some of the writing to scorpion so wrong technically? really, first episode they had running a Ethernet cable from a Ferrari to a 747 to save all planes crashing. My tech friends this laughed out out of the room. there is a Reddit thread on this. So many hard questions you didn’t ask Tim. I love you podcast but ask tough questions please

  45. I really enjoy & respect Tim’s work – so how the hectic did he get in a situation where he was taken in by a fraud like Walter O’Brien ???

    Tim is getting called out on this on Twitter and here but is remaining silent.

    Surely you own you an audience a reply? Do you genuinely believe Walter is telling the truth – despite all the articles on the web pointing to fraud – or can you just admit you got duped ?

  46. Ever since “Scorpion” began I have loved and watched it. The relationships and how everyone interacts are the most interesting aspects. The math and science is far above my head though I can understand much of the basic ideas. That said, there are occasionally scenarios that seem absurd. Like either something wasn’t explained, or doesn’t show how the situation evolved to such a point or whatever is going on is completely unrealistic. Sometimes the chain of events are unbelievable or your film crew has messed up somehow. Using more varied locations instead of always in the LA area would also help the show seem more realistic. The disaster scenarios often are beyond realistic. Fascinating show however. If you’re wanting to recruit, have your writers get the details down. I suppose you could recruit plenty of people who can see the situation and assume certain things must have happened. If I were a genius, which I am not, I’m sure I wouldn’t need things spelled out for me however, but I often find myself saying, “Whatever! That wouldn’t happen!”

  47. Would love for ConciergeUp to build me a $5k+ a month cash flow business so I can graduate medical school without debt…It’s a lot of work to get to the point of a 4 hour workweek…

  48. Based on what I read after listening to the interview, it seems like Walter is a bit of teller of tales, as any good Irishman would pride himself on being. I have known a few people like this. They are indeed very smart, but not smart enough to outrun the truth, in the long run. If he has wildly exaggerated even one of his claims, as it seems quite clear he has (even told outright lies), then the intelligent thing to do (for us “not so smart” people) is to pay absolutely no attention to anything he has to say, as he is not to be trusted. Using as much reason and logic as I can muster, the best conclusion that I can come to is that I wasted my time in listening to this interview, as there is nothing that can be trusted in it. If my time was wasted, then so was the time of everyone else who listened. Assuming about 10,000 people listened to it (just guessing) and that’s about 10,000 hours wasted. I hope that Tim vets his future interviews a bit more thoroughly. I feel used. I will never watch that show, even for Katherine McPhee.

  49. Thanks Tim. I often wondered what the Blarney Stone would say if it could talk. If you need any more imaginative Irish guests, give me a shout.

  50. The lower-bound number of possible chess games is 10^120. For a computer to play out every possible game within 100 years would take 10^110 games per second—obviously impossible. This guy uses that strategy for solving a chess game as an analogy to advertise his ScenGen service, but in fact it’s a perfect analogy for what’s wrong with his “root-to-tip” approach: any optimization problem worth solving will have a virtually inexhaustible set of possible inputs.

    Did I miss something? Apparently he’s successfully used this program for the Navy SEALS, so he can’t be totally nuts… hopefully.

    1. Hey, he can explore massive exponentially exploding combinatorial problems in seconds using just a laptop because he used his highly arcane programming language skills of ANSI C! This Walter guy is like the 13 year olds on Quora who claim to have mastered programming and are wondering why the world isn’t falling at their feet.

  51. This is the first time I’ve caught the scent of bullshit on this podcast.

    Definitely a smart guy, but also has a tendency for exaggeration. The anecdotes about the coding competitions were pretty suspicious as someone who has experience in those areas.

  52. In response to QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What is a problem you would like to have ConciergeUp solve for you?

    Who killed my Dad and will they ever be a caught. I believe there are enough clues and avenues for resolution which could be determined by the right person or people.

  53. Hey Tim, this interview had me fired up, I must admit however that I found it strange of a guy who’s supposedly as “successful” as Scorpion to end on a self-promotional note like he did, so I decided to check out Concierge Up’s website. With a team of more than a thousand geniuses, you’d think one of them knew about proper web design, but the design looked like ancient and quite frankly terrible.

    Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire, so I looked around, his Twitter seemed remarkably strange, with half assed self-promotion. Then I found the Tech Dirt article, and the Reddit AMA..

    Maybe you’re privy to some information we’re not, but it would seem the “Scorpion” is indeed not who he claims to be. Since I consider you a most trusted source of information, as I know many others do as well, I think it would be in it’s place to clear up the confusion as to Scorpion’s identity – with his many remarkable claims, surely it would be no problem to conjure up some proper sources?

    I’ve been following your work for many years, and I’m a big fan. This is the first time I’ve seen anything sketchy.

    Looking forward to your response.

    Kind regards,


  54. Did any one catch the programming language he mentioned that he wrote ScenGen in? Something like raw NCC without microsoft libraries? When I google that I don’t find anything. Curious 🙂

    1. Without re-listening I think he said ANSI C, which is if not the most widely used programming language ever then at least up there.

      1. Oh, you’re right. When I heard it I thought he just made up a language, “Raw NZC” — but in fact he did say “raw ANSI C with Microsoft Libraries,” which is something you might say if you were a teenager pretending to be l33t, as opposed to “C” which is what you’d say if you were, you know, a programmer.

  55. I would love ConciergeUp to figure out a way for me to motivate my students to read independently outside of their classwork. As a reading and language arts teacher, 8th grade, we have done assignments to hold them accountable, but many students view it as a chore. I’d like for them to come up with better ideas on how to get them to invest in this idea of independently reading.

  56. I’m an avid fan of the podcast and this one has really brought Tim’s credibility into question for me. An IQ of 197? A couple minutes into the podcast I began to doubt this, and it only took a couple minutes of googling to find out that there is a lot of controversy around his claims. If it was this easy to find out that most people believe him to be a fraud, how is it possible that Tim was unaware of this controversy and was so easily fooled? Or was he fooled, which would have even more deleterious implications.

    Here’s a list of facts, by no means exhaustive, that should make you think twice about this episode.

    -He has no record of his IQ test

    -There are many lists of the highest IQ’s, and he is on none of them.

    -He claims to have been contacted by the Department of Homeland Security several years before it was conceived.

    -The picture on his website is actually a photoshopped

    -He claims to have competed in the 1993 Informatics Olympiad and ranked as the “6th Fastest Computer Problem Solver” yet he was not one of the 82 medalists, and the only record of him being there ( says that his team got 90th place out of 250.

  57. Loved the podcast Tim – most profound answer to the “When you think of the word successful…” question I’ve heard thus far! Any suggestions for resources that will help improve critical thinking (books, puzzles, etc)?

  58. I’m a huge fan, and listened to this one twice in a row it was so interesting. Less than a day later, I’m wondering how you could be fooled into going along with this nonsense Mr. Ferriss? This guy is a wonderful storyteller and a true genius of the humble brag. He’s also completely fake. His 1.4 billion dollar company has a fake website, with fake employees and fake clients. He’s practically begging for work “anything above $5 thousand dollars” at the end of the podcast, while working on 10 billion dollar gov’t programs? I love the podcast Tim Ferriss, please vet your guests.

  59. I was born and raised in Ukraine and the story about the gold-digger made me feel bad, ashamed and angry 🙁

    I want people to know that not all Ukrainian girls are that evil…

    Apart from that the podcast is really mind blowing! The guy is fascinating! Now probably one of my favorite podcasts ever.

      1. thanks 🙂 it happened to me a couple of times when I met people who had prejudice because of some experiences or gossips… But for somebody who can think it should be obvious that not all people are the same 🙂

        greetings from Switzerland

      2. Same. my great grandparents were from the Ukraine. I did not take offense, nor feel ashamed from this story. But what a great story!

  60. No taking away from the Quality of what Mr Ferris does. Mans a Dude, but I gotta say, I didn’t find this quite as mind blowing as I thought I would.

    I know super intelligent types are not always the most engaging when they are speaking, but Tim usually has a way of pulling the good stories out of them. Listening to this guy, I just felt like I was listening to so many different Bullsh!ters, in so many different Bars.

  61. Unfortunately, this guest’s claims don’t add up.



    He did an AMA as well, which didn’t go well:

    Another problem: There never was a “400 baud” modem as he says he used as a kid. There was 300 baud, 1200 baud, 2400 baud… everybody makes mistakes, but for a computer genius with a 197 IQ…

  62. This podcast was amazing, ‘the scorpion’ has not only mastered the NLP techniques, etc to allow himself to communicate effectively and develop his EQ, but he also has some great beliefs, I love the line about Mother Teresa and Bill Gates.. Be selfish when you’re young so you can make a difference when you’re old.

    It’s awesome to see a different character on the podcast, another left of field topic that it would be awesome to see covered is the art sex.. I finished Ian Kerners ‘She comes first’ the other day, and damn.. I wish someone had taught me this stuff a few years ago. After all great is a key to a great life.

  63. Yeah my bullshit meter was going off too. There were some chronological inconsistencies that first raised alarms. This is the first interview of Tim’s where I googled the interviewee not to learn more but to see if he was real.

    I hope either Tim knows sometime we don’t or Tim was too busy to really vet this guy. Otherwise, how many other guests have been spewing pure bullshit. It would be nice to hear from Tim on this subject.

  64. Tim, it’s a bit sad that you fell on this. You are so smart and I’d be surprised if you haven’t noticed during the interview that this guy is a hoax.. I felt it, so I did some research afterwards and found all the proofs about his lies. The simplest – Google Image the image of the Scorpion building that appears in the Scorpion LinkedIn page and you’ll see it’s photoshoped from a glass company German building.. And there’s so much other proven BS.. Just sad 🙁 but I’ll forget about this one as I get so much value from your podcast. Thanks 🙂

  65. Hi Tim, I have never posted here, I listened to every single Podcast, read your books. And followed every thing you do, but this podcast mad me sad since it had so much potential. what a great guest. so many amazing things we could have learned from him. huge respect for him but this was a weak episode. thanks for your work