Becoming the Best Version of You (#210)

Becoming the best version of you

“Plato would have made a lousy investor.”

– Adam Robinson

This is a special episode of The Tim Ferriss Show. The audio is from a live conversation with not one, not two, but three guests: Josh Waitzkin, Ramit Sethi, and Adam Robinson.

Josh Waitzkin is an endlessly fascinating person who gets mentioned a lot on this show for good reason. For the uninitiated, Josh was the basis for the book and movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. He’s perfected the techniques that made him into a chess prodigy and a jiu-jitsu black belt, and he shared them in his book The Art of Learning.

Ramit Sethi (@ramit) is a business expert who has built a huge company from his blog. He’s the best-selling author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich.

Adam Robinson is the trusted outside global macro advisor to the heads of some of the world’s largest hedge funds and family offices. He’s written a best-seller on test preparation, developed artificial intelligence text analysis, been recognized as a chess master, and he’s hilarious.

I hope you enjoy this special edition of the podcast.

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#210: Becoming the Best Version of You

Want to hear another podcast with Josh Waitzkin?In this episode, we discuss The Art of Learning, what separates elite performers, and strategies for peak productivity (stream below or right-click here to download):

Episode 2: Joshua Waitzkin

This podcast is brought to you by Four Sigmatic. I reached out to these Finnish entrepreneurs after a very talented acrobat introduced me to one of their products, which blew my mind (in the best way possible). It is mushroom coffee featuring chaga. It tastes like coffee, but there are only 40 milligrams of caffeine, so it has less than half of what you would find in a regular cup of coffee. I do not get any jitters, acid reflux, or any type of stomach burn. It put me on fire for an entire day, and I only had half of the packet.

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This podcast is also brought to you by Audible. I have used Audible for years, and I love audiobooks. I have two to recommend:

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All you need to do to get your free 30-day Audible trial is go to Choose one of the above books, or choose any of the endless options they offer. That could be a book, a newspaper, a magazine, or even a class. It’s that easy. Go to and get started today. Enjoy.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Josh:

Website | The Art of Learning Project

  • Connect with Ramit:

Website | Twitter | Instagram

  • Connect with Adam:


Show Notes

  • Introductions. [07:06]
  • Why Josh has a snaggletooth. [10:35]
  • Adam gives us three things he’s learned this year that he considers the keys to success. [11:42]
  • Ramit explains the importance of relationships. [14:40]
  • What would Ramit like to improve upon in the new year? [16:32]
  • What makes a good leader? [17:09]
  • Josh has surprisingly close calls with death more often than most, which makes him especially grateful for life as the new year approaches. [19:28]
  • Focusing on “the most important question.” [21:29]
  • Josh shares his process for overnight digestion of a problem he’s working on and slicing through its complexity. [23:14]
  • Adam talks about daily routines. [27:05]
  • What makes Adam good at a seemingly unrelated number of skill sets? [32:50]
  • How does Adam avoid falling into constructs? [39:57]
  • The best question ever. [41:12]
  • Decisions Ramit wishes he had made earlier. [43:20]
  • Why Ramit loves interacting with haters and belligerent people on the Internet — and how he recommends dealing with them. [47:54]
  • Josh on dealing with haters in person. [53:43]
  • Why Josh generally eschews publicity. [58:05]
  • On influential thinkers and books gifted most often. [1:02:23]
  • Ramit on how it’s easy to mistake good advice for bad when it’s received at the wrong time. [1:14:02]
  • Adam talks about flying matadors and character development. [1:17:41]
  • Josh on making the transition from competitive fighter to receptive nurturer. [1:19:58]
  • We talk bad (but common) advice. [1:22:14]
  • How much of the self is discovery vs. creation? [1:24:01]
  • Ramit talks about the good advice he recently received that “blew up” his whole life. [1:26:06]
  • Adam on finding what’s undiscovered among the common. [1:28:00]

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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82 Replies to “Becoming the Best Version of You (#210)”

  1. Ramit, FU! Adam, FU! Josh, FU! Tim, no FU for you! This episode is hilarious, not because of content, but because it’s a group of professional cross-disciplinarians disciplining each other.

  2. Such a brilliant episode. Full of amazing nuggets (that whole ‘infusing your mind with a problem and letting your dreams create solutions to reflect on in the morning’ was awesome)… but also full of laughs – “drank a lot of wine” re: Hemingway – Tim’s random interjections haha. Best podcast episode I’ve listened to in 2016.

  3. Tim I have been listening to your podcast for years and I have never once made a comment, but I feel the need to do so now. PLEASE do a full interview with Adam, he seems like a brilliant guy and I would love for you to go more in depth with him.

    P.S. Tools of Titans is fantastic.

  4. Amazing episode. I’ve already listened twice. Taking notes and I’m writing down almost every word Adam said. Thanks to all of you for sharing your time and wisdom.

  5. Thanks for sharing these group chats. Even though they are hard to listen to, I get value out of them. Yet, I prefer 1-1 settings.

    I wish you a great 2017!

    PS: I can’t wait to see if you will do it in 2017! I found the 10-day meditation retreat (Vipassana), one of my biggest challenges in life. Just signed up for a second one 🙂

  6. Is there some transcript of the show? I noticed Show Notes to pinpoint interesting part of the show, but not the transcripts for deaf.

    1. I’m hard of hearing and would also appreciate if there were transcripts available. Pretty much the only way I can follow the show.

  7. Is there some transcript of the show? I noticed Show Notes to pinpoint interesting part of the show, but not the transcripts for deaf.

  8. Fantastic Podcast!

    I was really impressed by Adam Robinson`s approach to markets and life. I bet an one to one podcast with him would be included in my top10 list. Would it be possible to have a regular podcast with him?

    Tim, thank you for sharing so much information during this year and I can only hope that you continue doing so in 2017

    Best Holidays

  9. Josh, briefly mentioned a near death experience and I believe described being filled with “waves of love and gratitude”. This is a common sensation shared by others who have had NDE. I’d be interested in hearing more from him on this subject.

    It was about 20 mins in;

    Josh has surprisingly close calls with death more often than most, which makes him especially grateful for life as the new year approaches. [19:28]

    Focusing on “the most important question.” [21:29]

  10. Loved the entire show laughing out loud a couple of times while on my throw back Nordic skier! Learned some things as well. Awesome way to start the day.

  11. QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode?

    [My fav lessons I intend to practice, something I blogged about inspired by the podcast]

    from Adam Robinson, my new personal hero, such a smart guy


    Be enthusiastic about everything you do and anything that comes into your life. Life is happening FOR you, not TO you. People feel enthusiasm – that’s how we attract our best life. With enthusiastic actions!

    Live it like you mean it!


    Life is meant to be lived with other people, in the world. Whatever it is we do with our life will be worth absolutely nothing, if we don’t make an effort to build real, true, honest, heart-to-heart connections with other people. Life is meant to be lived together. Connect, open your heart, smile, give, share, be kind, be generous with your assumptions.

    Ever felt miserable? You probably didn’t have anyone at that moment close to you to share your blues with – that’s where biggest miseries come from.


    Expect magic in every moment. In every person. In every encounter. Act as if life has the most extraordinary plans for you just around the corner, maybe in the next person you meet. Get ready, stay open, assume the best. It might sound out-there, but our actions, and attitudes, and energy simply shift, when we expect the worst. And we do start attracting the worst in people and situations. Nothing is bad or good. Everything and everyone has a bright side. Will you see it?

    And my favorite was.

    “That doesn’t make sense.

    The world always makes sense. It’s our model that doesn’t work” – And that’s our model we need to re-evaluate, our actions we need to change.

    1. Tim: been a huge fan for some time now. Wondering if you’ve ever seen Tom Sachs’ “Ten Bullets” video. I feel like his thinking and philosophy and tactics totally have a place in your world.

      Also, check out the band “deafheaven”. They are from San Francisco, and their crazy mix of Explosions in the Sky and swedish heavy metal is amazing in all kinds of settings, some of it could even work for writing/focusing. Enjoy!

  12. This has to be one of my all time favorite TFS podcasts. Josh was right about what he said about your unique gifts, Tim. I hope you took that to heart!

    And, “No life worthy of the name consists of anything more than the continual series of struggles to develop one’s character through the medium of what everyone has chosen as a career.”

    Tony Robbins said something similar, that your goals should reflect who you want to become as a person more than anything else.


    1. No life worthy of the name consists of anything more than the continual series of struggles to develop one’s character through the medium of whatever one has chosen as a career! (It’s Adam)

  13. Tried the Four Sigmatic coffee and it is AWWWWWWESOME stuff. Also have been a longtime subscriber to and love the books I’m listening to.

  14. Loved this episode, and every episode that you’ve made, however I would love to hear an episode dedicated to those who are just starting out their careers. I’m a 25 year old female who works as an event planner on a very small scale (probably not your average listener). I’m at a strange point in my career where I didn’t go the finance/banker/consultant route like most people living in NYC at my age and I don’t know exactly what my next move is or where to go next. Basically I would love to see an episode scaled back to young lost millennials who have minimal money to invest and any advice you might have for us underdogs just starting out.

    1. Dear Cassie, Adam here. Your words and yearning touched me. You are brave to have chosen your own path, people like Josh and Tim and I relate to! Read Barbara Sher’s Wishcraft, especially chapter 4 I think it is, on touchstones. Get the paperback, so you can annotate, then I’m sure you’ll have other questions. Reach out when you do.

      1. Adam, would you mind sharing where to find the quote of Juan Belmonte that you mentioned in the podcast. Thanks!

  15. Tim: check out Tom Sachs’ “Ten Bullets” video if you haven’t already, and “deafheaven”, crazy cool metal/ambient band from San Francisc. Thanks for your books and podcast.

  16. I just wanted to wish you Happy Holidays. I’m waiting for Santa to bring me Tools Of Titans😎 If he doesn’t I’ll play Santa for myself. From the excerpts that you have given on the podcast it sounds like you’ve outdone yourself. Again, Have an Awesomenacious Christmas and a Happy new year!


  17. Tim, this was amazing! I’ve listened to so many of your podcasts, and this is one of my favorites so far. What a group.

    Thank you for what you do!

  18. Would love to get the quote Adam recited by legendary Juan Belmonte.

    Really enjoyed the camaraderie of the group and how you fed off of and fueled each other….this will be one podcast I listen to again as there were so many useful pieces of information shared. I appreciated the vulnerable authenticity!! What a way to close 2016! Thanks Tim!

    1. No life worthy of the name consists of anything more than the continual series of struggles to develop one’s character through the medium of whatever one has chosen as a career. (Adam here. 😉

      1. His autobiography, out of print, published exactly 80 years ago, January 1, 1937. Amazing, indomitable man, real life Rocky-esque rise to success, came from less than nothing with only sheer will, and a total, complete, godlike lack of fear, you have no idea. The greatest bullfighter, ever, with the soul of a poet, he was sought out by, and friends with, the leading artists and world figures of the day. Hemingway, Picasso, you name it.

      2. Adam, I love that you are here engaging with those seeking to improve themselves! Do you know if there is a video of this? I saw a picture via Ramit, so I have to think someone got a video of it. Can you confirm? Many thanks!

      3. Charles, many many thanks. Tim is amazing, leading the vanguard of human potential and achievement, and I was privileged to be onstage with him, Josh, and Ramit, such generous and brilliant souls. Such an honor. I wish the podcast had been videotaped, because the podcast doesn’t capture the electricity of the live event — which is why Tim wanted it live!! — or the hilarity we enjoyed among ourselves or with the audience. More than half the comments I made were addressed to the audience, for example, and not Tim, but that doesn’t quite come across in the podcast. Maybe someone videoed it.

  19. Robinson is one of the smartest people you’ve ever interviewed, and it doesn’t seem like he’s done a lot of interviews. Please record a separate show with him, and please make it very long!

  20. Have you considered including a photo of your guest(s) in the blog e-mail? I understand the need to promote yourself, brand, face, etc., especially with a book release. (I bought it, just so you don’t think I’m a critical dick!) But we know what you look like at this point, and I think it’d be more useful and engaging to get a picture of the people with whom you’re speaking.



  21. Tim, I’ve enjoyed the last two live shows. Epic guests, entertaining dialog and solid wisdom. Working on challenging / attainable resolutions for 2017. Enjoy the holidays and thank you.

  22. This podcast is like the finest green tea. The first infusion is short. Than you re-use the leaves and make a second infusion, longer than the first one. If the tea is high quality, usually the third cup is the tastiest. I listened to the podcast 3 times. First time I just listened, second time I started to metabolize an insane amount of wisdom, and the third time I wrote.

    Your ability to ask the right questions is turning into an art Tim. I loved the variation of the ‘What would you tell your 30 y old self’ – ‘What would your 80 years old self would tell you if he-she could speak to you right now’ This forces the interviewee to look at himself with a wisdom lens on. We often forget about our multidimensionality. At all time we have a part of us connected to our own spiritual self – our personal wisdom- , a part of us connected to our powerful self – our strength, fire and raw energy-, and a part of us connected to our child self – carefree, playful, creative. These various filters teaches us about the malleability of our feelings and opinions. It’s like an artist stepping back from the canvas to see better.

    I love Josh Waitzkin. He not only embraced his feminine self, his intuition, his softness and his perception, he seemed to have fused it into the core of his masculinity. I loved when he said has been flowing with love and gratitude in the last year. Being very close to dying seem to suddenly open a door on the inside – a whole bunch of treasures were hidden behind the door.

    This world needs more softness, more sweetness and more wisdom and through these people you give us different blue prints to build ourselves on. Thank you. I liked the way Josh talked about you. He said that you had the gift of being able to get to people’s essence. It’s like the story of young Arthur and the sword in the stone. People’s essence is like a sword. You can show off and try use all the big muscles you want, it won’t make it budge. A true heart, a humility and a grace will.

  23. Thank you Tim, I loved this episode!

    By the way… Tools of Titans arrived this morning (in Belgium)! Can’t wait to dig in! I’ll leave a review soon.

  24. Awesome listen as always.

    Replayed this one several times, and will a couple more. I really wish I could have made the live taping, I hope you do more.

    Could be the start of your new talk show.

  25. I am madly in love with this episode. Adam Robinson’s “expect magic in every encounter”, “it doesn’t make sense”, and “ball bearings”-amazing!

    Regarding the Tao Te Ching, I recommend reading the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff prior to reading the Tao itself because it deepens appreciation for the text. Also, Wayne Dyer has an audio book where he interprets the 81 verses, it is worth checking out.

    Tim, your question “How much of the self is discovery vs. creation?” was one of the best questions to sit in I have heard, thank you!

    Waitzkin continuously ignites my desire to learn, thank you!

  26. Man answers to the law of the earth – Earth answers to the law of heaven – Heaven answers to the law of the Force. The law of the Force – is to be what it is. Taken from Sun Zhu’s ancient text.

  27. Hi Tim

    Another great episode

    Add me to the list that would like to hear a full episode with Adam

    I have my copy of tools of Titans and plan to start reading it on Boxing Day.

    I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous new year

    Keep up the great work

  28. This show almost singlehandedly saved my spirit. On the most challenging day of my life, , the humor, wisdom , hope and practical suggestions by these brilliant humans, turned me around. And as a cynical New Yorker, I don’t SAY this kind of thing!!

    I’ve listened to this several times. I just wish Adam Robinson would distill his point of view into a book!!

  29. Hey Tim- Why don’t you interview more women? I was skimming your last year’s worth of interviews this morning and it looks like you featured 3 women and 47 men on your podcast. That strikes me as an ugly imbalance, and I’m curious why it exists. How did you find yourself interviewing 15 men for every woman you interview? In many of the areas where you are doing interviews it would be comparatively easy to find women who are as noteworthy or more so that your male guests (i.e. a female comedian on par with Mike Burbidlia, female gymnasts with insight on par with Christopher Sommer). Two of the worlds that you touch on that I’m at least passingly familiar with, tech and venture capital are both worlds known for being disproportionately male. Reflecting on those imbalances, and also your podcast makes me wonder: what insights you might be missing by slanting your interviews so heavily towards men? What audiences you might be missing for the same reason? And what kind of world does you work help create if it primarily focuses on broadcasting the experiences of high achieving men?

  30. I loved this podcast. All it takes is 20 minutes of any podcast or book with Tim (or one of his friends) to re-energize me about life & jump-start my enthusiasm…

    I was wondering – can everybody be self-motivated this easily if asked the right question, or series of questions? If so…what would that question be?

  31. Hi Tim

    Just received a copy of Tools of Titans and was disappointed to find that of the billionaires, icons and world class performers referenced (and apologies here for any slight inaccuracy, this is what we brits call a back-of-fag-packet calculation) 14 of the 122 individuals references are women. This is equivalent to 11%.

    Was there a rationale for the gender skew?



    1. Hey Melissa: have you emailed Tim about this or have gotten a reply? I’m a huge Tim Ferris fan and have found the same issue in his materials (podcast, books, etc).). Personally, I don’t believe there is an explicit rationale in the skew, rather it’s a reflection of an already existing gender gap in both leadership or several of areas/industries he covers. Eg. billionaires — huge gender gap among the ultrawealthy, think females represent just 12% of the world’s billionaires.

      That said, I think Tim could definitely make an effort to include more women. I remember him broaching this subject once in one of his podcasts a while back, but doesn’t seem to have gotten much traction.

  32. I love hearing Josh speak. I’ve read the art of learning a few times now.

    I really liked the discussion of Josh’s journaling practice.

  33. A wonderful, nice vibe to this end of year reflection en groupe, which enhanced my own year-end process. And, again some artful questioning. It’s fantastic to hear the journey of a chess player and fighter into the ocean, from Josh, “surfing as receptivity”. And I can never hear his near-death story enough as a reminder in experimenting. From Adam, I noted “No life worthy of the name consists of anything more than the continual series of struggles to develop one’s character through the medium one has chosen as a career”. And Tim, I have already averted a Christmas argument with “Is there anything I can say that would change your mind”. And Ramit’s comments on taking advice and being the best version of yourself, deserved the accolade of the podcast tagline, and too on the abundance angle that he learnt from Nick Grey – will be checking out Museum Hack in 2017. Tim and Ramit – what a great year for you both. Kevin

  34. Wow!! This could be my favourite episode of the podcast. I haven’t heard any of these guys on your podcast before, but now I might go through the archives to find them.

    Thanks so much for getting this group together. I learned so much on just one listen. Time to listen again.

  35. Attending the live taping of this show was a highlight of my year. Seeing the interplay between Tim and his guests was priceless. Adam Robinson’s example of being the dog looking for magic in every interaction was worth the trip to NYC. Love to see more live shows. Grateful for the followup recording to fill in the gaps in my notes that occurred from laughing so hard. Keep producing fantastic content Tim!

  36. Hi everyone.

    I probably go out of topic here and i’m sorry for this. I love Tim, i love this blog, i’m always here, and this “Becoming the Best Version of You” post sounded so good to me that i said; “Well why i don’t try to ask this question here!”. Maybe someone is so nice to help me.

    I’m trying to find a School in the U.S that is focused in the Holistic Nutrition and i saw many of them. Bauman College in Berkeley, The Canadian School in Natural Nutrition, etc…

    Anyone here has any advice for a specific school that i could do in maximum one year since i can’t stay in the U.S. for a long time?

    Thanks again

    – ANDREA –

  37. Thank you for Tools of Titans. Honestly, it’s been amazing to read it. Several of your posts to IG would have quotes on a consistent background and I am wondering if it is possible to access those in a version that could be printed in a large format? Poster size at the largest….not wallpapering the room. Thank you again and congrats to you. This book and all that went with it seemed to be truly a blast for you.

  38. Thinking about Josh Waitzkin’s legendary reclusiveness: Tim, Do you have any hard & fast rules for how much time you allocate to social interaction versus solo introspection/contemplation?

  39. Hi Tim,

    This show had lots of gems in it! I loved it! My favorite part is probably when Ramit discussed his interactions with haters. I love the idea of responding in a way that is unexpected by the hater.

    Thank you for your work!

  40. Hi All, does anyone have experience with meditation ‘following your heart Rate Variability’.

    I usually meditate following my breath and I just wonder how to bring HRV in the practice, according to what has been briefly shared in this episode. And if it is worth of…

    Any comment is welcome!

    Thank you.


  41. Video version of this episode? Would LOVE to see it! Now please! thank you so much and I also must +1 Adam. He is completely amazing! I am going to research the hell out of him. He is now my favorite person on the planet.

  42. The quote from Juan Belmonte, the Flying Matador: “No life worthy of the name consists of anything more than the continual series of struggles to develop one’s character through the medium of whatever one has chosen as a career.”

  43. Hi Tim! Thank you for the fantastic work you do, gathering and sharing such insightful and inspirational examples of living Life, for your experimentation, the books, podcast…all of it. Brilliant!!

    I value listening to the podcasts, repeatedly, as I manufacture my lowly widgets, and have for years. I have noticed recently that often the stream is unclear and halting. I checked different apps, listened via Stitcher and now have come right to the source, here. I’m listening now, #210, and it is choppy here as well, the exact same choppiness as the other sources- dropped syllables, etc. Also the fantastic interview with Adam Robinson, particularly difficult to listen to for the same reason- choppy.Is there a better way to listen? Or, what is the best way to listen?

    Wondering if others have this issue as well-? I’m hoping to be constructive and supportive here, not critical. Just thinking perhaps the ‘ripping’ or condensing of the stream is just not clean or something like that.

    Keep up the valuable and valued work!

  44. Hi Tim,

    Nice episode.

    Robert Cialdini, author of Pre-suasion and Influence might make an interesting guest. I think he’s been mentioned in a few of your podcasts now.

    All the best,

  45. Amazing episode! I’ve been Tim Ferriss podcast binging the last few days during my walks and down time … seems I’ve had an epiphany every episode for the last 3 days!! Thanks

  46. I’m reading and re-reading through Tribe of Mentors. There, Adam Robinson mention a new book, “An Invitation to the Great Game”. But the only copy I’ve found was $49 on Amazon. Is it available in other places at a more reasonable price? Any help is appreciated.