How to Turn Failure into Success (#255)

“You will fall. And when you fall, the winner always gets up, and the loser stays down.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

In this episode, we discuss another frequently requested question from listeners. I’ve gathered some of the best advice about coping with frustrations and roadblocks, and — ultimately — learning how to turn failure into success.

These conversations are extremely valuable because they show you there is more than one way to achieve your goals. After more than 200 conversations with the world’s top performers, you start to spot certain patterns. These are the shared habits, hacks, philosophies, and tools that are the common threads of success, happiness, health, and wealth. Behind each success story is usually a lesson on how to overcome failure. Aside from my own take on the topic, this episode includes conversations with:


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

#255: How to Turn Failure into Success

Want to hear another episode of featuring multiple guests and their best tips? In this episode, we explore the best morning routines with Jocko Willink, Seth Godin, Jamie Foxx, and Scott Adams (stream below or right-click here to download):

#253: Morning Routines and Strategies

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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 Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

  • Connect with Malcolm Gladwell:

Website | Revisionist History | Twitter | Facebook

  • Connect with Bryan Johnson:

Website | OS Fund | Twitter

  • Connect with A.J. Jacobs:

Website | Twice Removed | Twitter | Facebook

  • Connect with Shep Gordon:

Twitter | Instagram

Show Notes

  • I share one of my own failures that I turned into a learning experience. [06:17]
  • Malcolm Gladwell on a failure that helped set him up for later success. [14:02]
  • Malcolm Gladwell’s morning routine and writing process. [17:08]
  • How Malcolm winds down from a day of work. [20:56]
  • Malcolm’s flaws that have turned into strengths. [22:36]
  • Malcolm on giving and receiving advice. [25:08]
  • How Bryan Johnson went from broke and unemployable to record sales in an oversaturated industry. [25:49]
  • Bryan’s worst decisions and fatal mistakes in real estate. [30:27]
  • Bryan on analyzing his own irrational behavior. [31:16]
  • How Bryan deals with feeling overwhelmed. [33:22]
  • One of A.J. Jacobs’ favorite failures. [35:56]
  • A.J.’s most embarrassing failure. [38:51]
  • Shep Gordon on a rookie management mistake he sees most often. [41:10]
  • Why did it take nearly a decade for Shep to agree to let Mike Meyers make a documentary about him? And why did a book follow? [47:06]
  • How did Shep prepare girl-next-door Anne Murray for stardom with the help of some Hollywood Vampires? [55:40]
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger on the biggest sacrifice he has made while climbing the ladder of success. [57:54]
  • Arnold on learning from failures. [1:00:24]
  • What does Arnold know today that could have helped him in his twenties? [1:03:07]

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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28 Replies to “How to Turn Failure into Success (#255)”

  1. Hi Tim,

    I love this new podcast format. It’s great to have a collection of tips and tricks about a specific topic all in one episode. Thanks again for all the great work you share with the world, it has definitely made an impact on my life.

    Maybe as a suggestion: I always enjoyed the long, in-depth interviews with your guests. I hope those will remain part of your Podcast agenda.



  2. A quote which stood out was, “Just the way you drop out of the womb… you are already a winner.” As it relates to being in America. One thing I found and am focusing on lately is eliminating criticism from my own speech and thought, but also eliminating (as I am able) those around me who are critical of others. Similar to your bracelet method of eliminating complaint in life. I found criticism to be a silent killer of creativity, inspiration, and above all… confidence. I’m not talking about constructive criticism, but negative, picky dicky criticism. From everything to the line-mates in a grocery store to so-called friends and acquaintences, fellow business-mates, to media personalities. There is so much criticism today. It soaks in almost through osmosis. How to not let it affect you is a worthy quest. I find myself with the thoughts, “How dare you cast that attitude on me,” with people I know, and have begun eliminating them from my life. I hope I don’t wind up a hermit lol.

  3. Tim Ferriss – you are awesome. Doubt you will even read this post but needed to express gratitude. I appreciate your deep thinking and curious mind so much. Thank you for asking inquisitive questions, always digging deep and sharing it all with us. I love the combo of inspiration and education that your podcast provides.

  4. AJ Jacobs on explaining how the model had six assistants taking care of her – and at the same time no one was looking at him… that part is hilarious!

    And Shep laughing all the time!

    This episode is both eye-opener and very very fun! Thanks Tim and keep going!

  5. can you explain how to implement the knowledge learned from self help podcasts/books into day to day life? I find that there is tonnes of great advice on WHAT to do to make a better lifestyle, but the HOW is sometimes missing. Not sure maybe I’m missing something, would love to hear your thoughts.



  6. Hey Guys,

    Strengths and weaknesses and what to focus on seems to come up a lot in Tims podcasts – i’m trying to focus on my strengths on building a digital agency. But one of my weaknesses is the ability to sell/talk to people. Now in my case would it be better to keep focusing on my strengths and delegate my weaknesses, given that the weaknesses are very high on the ‘things you should learn/develop in your life if you want to be successful’ list?



  7. Hi Tim, I heard your keynote at sxswedu last March and was inspired to explore how we can support our students in becoming efficient, independent learners. One step, outlined in a grant proposal to be one of three Lighthouse Schools in Rhode Island, is to build a curriculum that students can follow, at first with teacher support, and increasingly independently, toward the learner autonomy that post secondary institutions and employers value.

    I’d appreciate your consultation support as we build this curriculum with our students. If this wheel has already been invented and you can point me to resources, that would be great! Our advisories meet for 90 minutes every other day. I’m convinced we could take just a small piece of that time and move mountains!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Craig MacKenzie, Principal

    CHariho Regional High School

  8. For me Tim it is all about seeing the work as the reward, or, following my passion. After struggling for so long and falling in love with peaks but hating valleys, I made the blanket decision months ago to NOT focus much at all on outcomes. But to focus almost entirely on enjoying my work, enjoying giving and falling in love with the process.

    All my nightmares were borne of getting too attached to outcomes of my blogging business, like profits, clients, customers, traffic, all that stuff. When I appeared to come up short in these areas, I labelled it a failure, or a struggle, and crashed. Then I would perceive situations as failures, and would decide to pick myself up. Good deal, but still a bit lacking because I was too focused on outcomes.

    Then I chose to see the work as the reward – since I love blogging, traveling, and helping people to blog – and saw the outcomes as extras, or the icing on the cake. Failure is impossible in this scenario. Because if you do what you love and see the results as a bonus, you don’t see certain outcomes as struggles or failures. Who cares?

    I just focus on loving things as they are, practicing, meeting new folks and loving the process. Of course, since taking this approach I have made more money 🙂 Power of greater detachment at play here.

    Fab podcast, as always.

  9. Both great episodes – I generally do like these “distilled views” of several high performers’ habits.

    Also just booked via Soothe, worth a shot 🙂

  10. Tim, I’m wondering how you and fellow entrepreneurs think about competition. Specifically how they think about innovating in the market of an incumbent giant (Compaq vs. IBM). How do they overcoming the fear of being crushed and convince themselves they have a chance?

  11. Hi Tim

    First up I don,t want anything from you.

    I have been listening to the podcasts and read some of the books in the past 3 months. I was thinking “yep this is all good stuff”. I like this innovative approach and the long form interview.

    Today I saw your 2017 ted talk on “define your fears”

    Now…..that was brave and vulnerable. I take my hat off to you. You really opened your heart there.

    Now I will read all your stuff with a new vision of Tim Ferriss…. average guy, human being, person who cares about more than just himself, willing to risk his public persona, fame and reputation so that others may learn something.

    Well done Tim. I think that talk will help a lot of people.

    Best wishes


  12. TimTim,

    Love this new format of the podcast. Nice easy bite sized actionable nuggets that you can revisit when needed.

    Boss, you are an entrepreneur of entrepreneurs. Thanks for being such an inspiration to us all.



  13. Tim, I am a long-time listener. You are doing great work. Thank you.

    You asked for feedback on the Tim Ferriss Radio Hour, and we can always improve, so here goes:

    1. A great idea to go for the shorter, focused format. Don’t get me wrong, I love the long format; for example, I had already listened to all five long interviews of the people featured in this episode. But the shorter format allows people to focus on areas of particular concern.

    2. Having said that, I have found that these Radio Hours tend to stray off topic. For example, in this one, you play some of the morning routines of some of the guests, but morning routines was the subject of your 19 July Radio Hour. And it that one, you “strayed” off morning routines by playing segments that went beyond that topic.

    3. Perhaps you are doing this to fill up an hour’s worth of time given that it is the Tim Ferriss Radio “Hour”. However, I would aim for shorter broadcasts if that is what is needed to keep focused on one discrete issue. Maybe call it the Tim Ferriss Radio Show or something similar to free yourself from the 60 minutes. Or you could add more (topically relevant) clips from more guests, though that would be more work.

    So that is my suggestion. I would be inclined to experiment with a shorter, focused version of the radio show. It would be a nice contrast to your (great) standard fare of two to three hours.

    Keep on rocking the house!

    John Zimmer

  14. Hey Tim! I loved this podcast, but I was wondering if you knew of any women you could interview for the same topic? It’s great to learn a bout these great men overcoming failure, but I think it’d be super cool to get a women’s perspective as well. Any who, just a thought!

    Once again, thank you for your awesome podcast, I absolutely love it!

  15. I’m not finding these radio hour podcasts quite as fascinating as the full length versions, to much off topic stuff, and not enough depth. However, that might just be me and my expectations.

    What I would say is, the show notes make great reminders of things that may have skipped my memory, that I wanted to look up when I first heard the original podcast, or that I use to find beneficial, and let slip.

    Nice to revisit stuff, once in a while.

    Thanks again.

  16. This was a timely episode, thank you. But I also agree with others here – if you want to focus on a specific topic, it’s better if it’s just condensed knowledge without fillers. We don’t mind if the episode is shorter, it’s still well worth listening.

  17. Hi Tim,

    First time listener of your podcast. I enjoyed listening to the show, particularly the interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Shep Gordon. Both felt genuinely accessible and impactful.

    I noticed that you didn’t interview any women, people of color or any non-white male and was wondering why you chose not to? I’m always curious about the why behind this question and if it even occurred to you to choose differently.

    Many thanks!

  18. Right.Got it.

    Just finished reading my very own copy of The Four Hour Working Week and ready to rock with a brand new outlook!

    Mum of 4, 2 businesses and working 60+ hours per week. Frazzled, knackered and about to blow – this could not have come at a better time! I’m already stripping away layers of unnecessary crap and people pleasing and have one awsome dreamline on the go.

    (You’ll also notice that i’m commenting from my brand new WordPress account that I haven’t even set up yet! That’s how excited I am.

    Where have you been all my life Tim?

    Right, i’m off to outsource 90% of my work!

    “I’ll be back” (sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

  19. Hi Tim, I realize I’m not really your demographic, but I learn so much from your podcasts. I really like the new format for quick, focused bites, but still enjoy the deep dive from your previous format.

    I think all genders could benefit from a little more estrogen on your show, women have been on your show, but definately a minority.

    I would love to see you have Jenny Lawson on your podcast. She has really paved the road and been a powerful voice for owning your weirdness!

    Thanks again! Hugs & Kisses!

  20. WTF? W? (Why Tim Ferriss? Why?)

    I just started listening to your podcast a month ago and I’ve had my earbuds plugged into my ear literally every spare moment since . I’m not your usual demographic I’m certain (59 yr old female from Canada). I can’t remember the first interview I listened to but I remember thinking “is this some frat boy club”? I kept listening, regardless, and I’m so glad I did. Every time I think “nah” this won’t interest me (like Arnie) I am blown away and impressed by the depth of the conversations or the non stop laughing like A.J. episode. I “love, love, love” your show and the WTF (Why Tim Ferris?) is regarding your mobile podcast that you’re considering and why have you not considered Canada? We would love Molly too you know?

    I responded to your ask and ordered Tribe of Mentors because you are absolutely correct when you remind us how much you give out for free. I’m certain I’ll enjoy your new book as much as I love your podcast.

    Keep up the great work Tim. Canada loves you too!!!