Shaun White and the Magic of "Who Cares?" (#140)

Shaun White and Tim Ferriss

Photo: Jason DeFillippo

“My parents never really told me I couldn’t do anything.” Shaun White

This particular episode comes from a fun event — my first live podcast at the iconic Troubadour in L.A. It sold out through my newsletter in 30 minutes, so thanks to all of you who came. If you haven’t signed up for the email newsletter, you should check it out. It’s free. Just go to

There were quite a few amazing guests at the event, and we’re going to divide them up into a few episodes.

Shaun White (@ShaunWhite) is our first — a professional snowboarder and skateboarder. Among his formidable feats of strength:

  • He’s a 2x Olympic Gold medalist.
  • He holds the X Games record for gold medals at 15, as well as the highest overall medal count at 24.
  • Shaun has earned the number two spot on BusinessWeek’s list of the 100 most powerful and marketable athletes.
  • And — ACH-TUNG! — for those near L.A. or willing to travel, Shaun is hosting an incredible event called Air + Style. Think of it as X Games meets Coachella, where you can listen to world-famous bands and then see jumps off of a 16-story ramp (no joke), among other excitement. Check it out at For 20% off general or VIP admission, you can use code “TimFerriss.” I get no cut, and I’ve already bought four tickets for myself and friends. The code is only good until midnight PT on February 19th (Friday).

If you only have a couple of minutes, listen here to discover who Shaun considered one of his biggest mentors and the lessons he learned.


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

#140: Shaun White: The Most Unholy Snowboarder Ever

Want to hear another podcast from a world-class athlete? You will probably enjoy my podcast with Triple H. In this episode, we discuss pre-fight rituals, injury avoidance, and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (stream below or right-click here to download):

#72: Triple H on Pre-Fight Rituals, Injury Avoidance, and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Based on Shaun’s two-goal philosophy, what two goals would you set for yourself? How would they help with your life or business? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Air + Style | GO90 | Website | Twitter | Instagram

Show Notes

  • Shaun’s heart defect that made the life of a world-class athlete unlikely. [06:27]
  • Shaun talks about the first time he met Tony Hawk. [08:09]
  • Shaun discusses his family background. [14:59]
  • How did Shaun’s parents keep him grounded when he started getting attention from sponsors like Burton at age seven? [16:26]
  • How has Shaun managed to maintain creative control and avoid the pitfall of bad decisions that often plague athletes? [18:47]
  • Shaun talks about some of his career mentors. [21:28]
  • What opportunities is Shaun glad he said no to? [23:45]
  • What advice would current-day Shaun give to his 2006 Winter Olympics self in Torino (when he won his first gold medal)? [26:54]
  • Shaun describes picture day at school with two black eyes. [27:58]
  • Shaun explains his lifelong admiration for Andre Agassi and lessons he’s learned from the tennis great. [33:07]
  • Shaun sets two goals every season: something serious and something funny. [40:29]
  • What is Shaun’s internal dialogue when he’s competing? [44:07]
  • Most gifted books. [47:24]
  • Was growing up in Southern California a disadvantage for an aspiring snowboarder? [48:41]
  • Shaun tells us how his physical training differs now from when he was younger. [50:39]
  • Shaun’s superstitions and what he does before competitions. [55:30]
  • What was so unholy about Burton’s White Collection? [58:52]
  • How did Shaun get involved with music? [01:01:51]
  • Shaun tells us about inheriting the Air + Style event. [01:10:15]
  • Who is the first person who comes to mind when Shaun thinks of the word “successful?” [01:14:40]
  • Who does Shaun rely on to tell him when he’s wrong? [01:15:28]
  • When does Shaun tend to come up with new tricks? [01:16:39]
  • Are there any historical figures Shaun wishes he could meet? [01:17:25]
  • What would be on Shaun’s non-advertisement billboard? [01:17:41]

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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37 Replies to “Shaun White and the Magic of "Who Cares?" (#140)”

  1. Another great podcast! I live in LA how can I attend a live podcast when you do this again. We actually met at Bungalow. I told you after the Poliquin podcast I transformed my body based on his principles. Your podcast are strong keep it up!

  2. LOVED the Jamie Foxx interview. It was a total pleasure to hear him actually interviewed, and given the time and space to express himself on a host of topics. Such an interesting guy. Great job Tim!

  3. Effin great. Been waiting a while for this one.

    Tim – worth doing some homework on skateboarder RODNEY MULLEN. He’s got a TEDTALK and countless mindblowing video parts. You’ll be glad you did.

  4. Great Interview! The sound faded in and out every now and then. But Shaun was one of the best guest I have heard on this podcast. He would keep me laughing the entire time.

  5. I’m in love with you asking people what they say ‘no’ to. The Seth answer was great. Shaun’s answer was good to. I am excited you added this. Success lays in staying the course and knowing what represents you and what deludes you so hearing what the big players chose to say ‘no’ to is an eye opener. Great work!

  6. Tim,

    Early listener and admirer…Your interviewing skills are always getting better. This interview with Shaun is awesome. So natural. Loved the getting lost in the conversation and trying to get back on track. Hilarious and valuable stuff as always. Thank you! Mike

  7. Until Tim answers for having a fake like Walter O’Brien on the last episode I’m not going to be listening to any more podcasts.

    Promoting a debunked charlatan like Walter O’Brien is an abuse of your listeners’ trust.

  8. Hey Tim!

    Just wanted to show a little gratitude for the work you’re doing! Your podcast has been apart of my day to day for a while now, and is something I always look forward to. Soooo, thanks for inspiring me and making my daily grind a little bit lighter and more intriguing. Thanks as well for making me look like a crazy ass person for laughing out loud at the dead quiet Phil & Sebastians today..

    It’s a hard thing to recover from without immediate relocation, considering I scared the s**t out of the lady next to me..but I’m grateful for the laugh none the less. 🙂


  9. Hi Tim. Don’t know how else to share this comment regarding your 5 bullet friday. but you are valuable enough to me for me to make the effort to communicate. Also I don’t use twitter and when I tried to check in on your page it just had heaps of really old posts, with recent dates, and nothing related to anything current not least 5 bullet friday. so it’s far too confusing to bother signing up to twitter just for you – cos your twitter page is – well, I’m not sure of its utility.

    So. With love and respect in a supportive fashion. Considering that you cherish feedback and that you would understand constructive critiscim to be more valuable than praise.

    You just sent out a 5 bullet Friday. The straight out opening line was to share with us some kind of fascia roller style implement. You’ve been on this topic a bit lately. Great! Okay – new therapy item to note down. But you call it a sex toy ???? Then, you explain that your colleague and friend says that its a sex toy. Having filled us in on these massive diversions, you are then forced to finish the paragraph by stating the disclaimer that if one is a dumb person, they should not insert the so called sex toy inside their body.

    You didn’t feel you could just say ‘i’ve found a new roller?”‘ ??

    “here is my 5 bullet friday. these things are all fascinating and helpful and new for me this week. Here’s an article, here’s a song, here’s a new roller for my fascia.” But no . sex toy don’t insert blah blah blah blah

    I found that all so irrelevant and unnecessary, facile and immature. It made me think ‘tim ferriss is not a good writer, maybe he will never be”

    Just as a side note. Kelley Starrett, you stated is a trainer to ‘the stars’

    who and what are these ‘stars’ you refer to? a good writer would never

    use a phrase like that, nor need to include any of those references – wondering aloud if Kelley was a sexy leopard (because of his book title – yes okay okay I get it) . So much of you is admirable. And then there are bits like this that are just so amateur and childish

  10. Does anyone know how/where this event was announced? Did I miss an email? I’d heard about Tim’s plans of doing a live event in a previous episode, but didn’t really know to how to follow it. Just trying to learn for next time 😉 – anyone’s willingness to help is greatly appreciated.

  11. Great podcast! Do you have any female guests on the docket? Would love to listen to you interview more successful women in the start-up world and/or experts in their field (tech, business, engineering, medicine). Thanks!

  12. Ciao Tim, saluti dall’italia

    I know anyone is bothering you with the transcription, I just wondered it would be a very good ol 4hww style to outsource the transcription of all these podcast and publish them as a super outstanding best seller.

    Ciao, grazie ancora per l’articolo su depressione…

  13. I love Shaun White and his story, but he sure does make me feel dumb. I mean, what was I doing at 15 years old? Playing video games and riding my bike around town… meanwhile Shaun White was becoming an Olympic gold medalist.

    But I suppose we can’t all be child prodigies, eh? 😉

  14. Tim – love your work. That said this interview wasn’t as good as the others. The fact that it was in front of a live audience changes the dynamic. Including something about the way you asked questions and the way the interviewee responds. I would ditch the live interview. I see no up side.

  15. Thank you Shaun for interviewing with Tim. A ton of great take aways from this podcast!

    Ha! “I didn’t know Tony Hawk did magic tricks!”

    I agree with Mark Harries. Bring on Rodney Mullen, and Tony Hawk as a combo. I am a huge fan of these modern Stoics.


  16. Tim,,

    check out the benefits of mustard seed for your selenium intake. its definitely over looked for both selenium and omega-3.

  17. Hey Tim! Loved this podcast and gained a lot of respect for Shaun White the person, not just the athlete.

    I’d love to hear you interview Rob Dyrdek sometime. He’s similar to Shaun in that he went pro at skateboarding at an early age, then made great business decisions and turned it into multiple shows on MTV, ownership stake in DC Shoes among other companies that sponsored him and clothing lines.

    Thanks for doing what you do!

  18. I have to say that the live podcasts are not my cup of tea… I have the impression to be at a talk show. In my opinion, the live podcasts lose their intimacy and “special” component that makes them otherwise so special. I feel urged to laugh when the attendance is laughing, to react when I maybe wouldn’t react… It does not feel that special anymore.

    Are you going to continue doing them? Or are the podcasts between 4 eyes still the basis?

  19. This audio should have been edited and mastered better. Tim, I can do that for your for free, as I have paid experience at a radio station doing that. Please let me know if you need someone to do this for you.

  20. Hi Tim,

    thank you for your great work. I love your podcast and it inspires me a lot. I also recommend it to a lot of people. This podcast was a little different. It was a talkshow feeling and was very entertaining. Really funny. But I found your podcast so special because you dig deep and try to find out habits of successful people. This was missing in that one.

    I think it would be interesting to know, more about Shaun’s goal setting.

    I mean he was crazy successful and still is. That can’t be luck 🙂

    – When did he start to set goals?

    – How many goals does he set?

    – Does anyone know about his goals?

    – How often does he review his goals?

    Greetz from Germany

  21. That podcast made me laugh so much. Seriousness is a disease of self-importance and luckily, neither of you suffer from it. Hilarious interview, thank you for all the work Tim. You sounded relaxed and easy going. Shaun has a refreshing honesty that makes him super funny.

    Six years ago I bought a pair of Shaun’s Burton boots. They were men’s boot but man did I love these boots lol. Beige with black lions on them, they looked like chicks boots so I got them. One day I went heliskiing with my friends in Revelstoke BC. I wasn’t as strong of a rider as my friends and I became super nervous after being dropped at the top. The powder was so deep and I started to panic a bit. I looked at my boots and I asked them to guide me. It was completely absurd but I talked to my boots as if they had the spirit of Shaun inside them. I calmed down and rode my best riding day so far. I always attributed this personal victory to the magic Shaun White’s boots. lol.

    I love how Shaun gives simple explanations for everything he does. Success is often linked with complicated tactics and disciplines but Mr.White shakes it all up with his genuine child-like simplicity. And you Mr.Ferris steered that interview like a champ. Listening to this made me happy.

  22. “My parents never really told me I couldn’t do anything.” – Shaun White

    I think my difficulty from life is coming from the bad words from my parents when I was a child, this could be many discouraged words from the father or mother, I hate it until now!!!