Best Investments, Bad Advice to Avoid, and Other Life Lessons (#294)

“The world always makes sense. We just don’t understand it.” Adam Robinson

This episode sets a new record with five guests — each considered among the best in their field. It features Adam Robinson (@IAmAdamRobinson), Debbie Millman (@debbiemillman), Neil Strauss (@neilstrauss), Scott Belsky (@scottbelsky), and Veronica Belmont (@Veronica).

This roundtable conversation discusses best investments, favorite failures, and bad advice to avoid. I really enjoyed all of the answers from the guests as there’s lots of actionable advice. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

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

Best Investments, Bad Advice to Avoid, and Other Life Lessons

Want to hear a conversation with a mentor from Tribe of Mentors? Listen to this episode with Tim Urban, in which we discuss the future, how to deal with procrastination, AI, and much much more. Listen to it here (stream below or right-click to download):

Managing Procrastination, Predicting the Future, and Finding Happiness - Tim Urban

This podcast is brought to you by Four Sigmatic. While I often praise this company’s lion’s mane Mushroom Coffee for a minimal caffeine dose wakeup call that lasts, I asked the founders if they could help me — someone who’s struggled with insomnia for decades — improve my sleep. Their answer: Reishi Mushroom Elixir. They made a special batch for me and my listeners that comes without sweetener; you can try it with a little honey or nut milk, or you can just add hot water to your single-serving packet and embrace its bitterness like I do.

Try it right now by going to and using the code Ferriss to receive 20 percent off this rare, limited run of Reishi Mushroom Elixir. If you are in the experimental mindset, I do not think you’ll be disappointed.

This podcast is also brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is, inevitably, Athletic Greens. It is my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body and did not get paid to do so. As a listener of The Tim Ferriss Show, you’ll get 30 percent off your first order at

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 Adam Robinson:

Website | Twitter

  • Connect with Debbie Millman:

Website | Design Matters PodcastTwitter | Facebook | Instagram

  • Connect with Neil Strauss:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

  • Connect with Scott Belsky:

Website | Behance | Twitter

  • Connect with Veronica Belmont:

Website | IRL Podcast |Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Show Notes

  • Introducing Adam Robinson. [05:55]
  • Bad recommendations Adam hears often. [07:17]
  • One of Adam’s most worthwhile investments. [13:09]
  • Introducing Debbie Millman. [17:12]
  • What is Debbie’s favorite failure? [18:44]
  • One of Debbie’s most worthwhile investments. [20:30]
  • Bad recommendations Debbie hears often. [26:48]
  • Introducing Neil Strauss. [27:47]
  • Neil’s favorite failure. [28:40]
  • One of Neil’s most worthwhile investments. [31:54]
  • Introducing Scott Belsky. [35:41]
  • Bad recommendations Scott hears often. [36:46]
  • What advice would Scott give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the so-called “real” world? [39:32]
  • Introducing Veronica Belmont. [41:16]
  • Veronica’s favorite failure. [42:28]
  • Bad recommendations Veronica hears often. [44:07]
  • What advice would Veronica give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the so-called “real” world? [44:38]

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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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

34 Replies to “Best Investments, Bad Advice to Avoid, and Other Life Lessons (#294)”

  1. I want to let you know that those of us who think highly of you and appreciate your work seldom take the time to post comments. I’m certain you know the haters are in the minority but they are very prolific when it comes to posting comments. Finally, any advice to a young lady that will be starting at Princeton in the fall?

  2. Nice selection of music. I’ve been hitting the songs from the 30s and 40s (e.g. Andrews Sister), just in a throwback mode at the moment. Lol

  3. Hi Tim,

    Hope this message finds you well.

    How cool that you mentioned Pan’s Labyrinth in today’s5-bullet Friday.

    I’m actually working on a show as an acrobatic coach/conceptor with Eugenio Caballero that works here with me as a visual consultant and was the production designer for Pan’s Labyrinth.

    I got to meet and talk with him more in the last few days and he’s a really great guy.

    Just wanted to share that with you….

    Take care

    Eric Saintonge

  4. Hey Tim. I don’t use Twitter so I’ll give a book recommendation here that I think you would like:

    [Moderator: Links removed for “The Art of Fire.”]

    All the best

  5. Hey Tim, like many, love your output. Hope you feel feedback is a gift. I sometimes find you go ‘all in’ on the very practical but sometimes miss an opportunity to share the more personal side of what made your guests who they are. Can I recommend you listen to the BBC’s desert island discs podcast as it might help you to see the point I’m making better than I can make it here. And which, IMHO might make your podcasts even better. There are thousands. I recommend the episode with the climber Joe SImpson, who you also have to have you your show. The Gok Wang episode is the only time I’ve burst into tears while driving at 8am (when you hear his story about coming out to his parents). There are thousands. Also they might give you a less ‘US centric’ view of outstanding individuals worth having on the show. Let me know what you think. @J_Brandon_Bravo. Couple of other suggestions for people from the UK you should have as guests. Martha Lane Fox – considered the UK founding digital entreprenuer, champion of social justic and youngest member of the house of lords. Increadible women. Also, equally if not more impressive, Tessa Jowell, responsible for a host of womens rights, bringing the Olympics to London and too miuch to do it justice here. I can intro you to both if need be. Thanks again and keep up the good work.

  6. No, Tim. Shape of Water was grandly trumpeted but is in no way even close to the quality of Pan’s Labyrinth. Notice the embarr similarities to Aimele’ ? Ridiculous. I think it’s because he’s now positioned to enter the industry as a “playah” after being lightly smacked/warned a couple of times already. The over-pandering to the animus. Very smart in today’s gender war climate. So he’s toning it down in the inter to be able to get future disturb.. Perfectly understandable. But booooring !

  7. Hey Tim,

    You should have the genius songwriter Frank Ocean on the show, if possible. He said he listens to you, somewhere…

    Or more people in the arts, generally. The Rick Rueben interview was great. Thanks!

    1. Ditto. Might be tough, but if you found some way to play just even 30 seconds of some Frank Ocean music, it would really add a beautiful dynamic to the episode.

  8. Hey Tim! I’m somewhat new to your show but have read your books, which I find to be incredibly insightful, inspiring and absolutely useful. Today I listened to the five experts podcast which included Debbie Millman and felt compelled to reach out. I’m a psychotherapist, practicing for 10+ years. Really appreciated Debbie’s take on the benefits of talk therapy. She articulated her experience with therapy so incredibly well, that I think anyone listening who was ever on the cusp of seeing a therapist would be convinced of it’s benefits. Thank you to Debbie for her illustration of the what and how and why therapy can be so incredibly important and useful. As a practicing therapist however I wholeheartedly disagree with Debbie’s “get what you pay for” assertion to finding a therapist. In the world of psychotherapists, counselors and the like, using a “get what you pay for” mentality to chose a therapist is actually a really poor way to find a good therapist. Just because a therapist has a doctoral degree and post-grad training doesn’t make them a good therapist. Most of the time, good therapists, great therapists, are word of mouth referrals from people who’ve been through therapy. A doctoral degree and post-grad training is great and absolutely needed for some clinicians and some types of therapies especially depending on what the therapist plans to do with the degree (practice, research, teach, etc), however there are a number of other factors that make for great therapists, and great therapy experiences that don’t include doctoral degrees. Because Debbie is an expert in her field and because you have thousands and thousands of listeners, I fear her advice will encourage people to either go find the most expensive therapist they can (which could be completely useless) or in the event they can’t afford that, do nothing at all. People need to know that excellent therapy can happen without a doctoral degree and going into debt, and it often does. Therapy is an incredibly personal experience with very individual outcomes. If you’re in need of therapy, the best place to search for a therapist often starts with word of mouth.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Really great comment on this matter. It’s true that the advice is only half-true since it doesn’t take into account many factors.

      For example, a Tony Robbins or Tim Ferriss (back in the day) event might really be worth its price, because it’s not as much about the money as it is about the value and already established excellence in their work. A $1 pen vs a $1000 pen might not make any difference when writing and this might be the case for a therapist as well since a good recommendation/referral is actually what really matters first and foremost.


    2. Hey guys, I don’t know if it’s only me but when I receive the e-mail newsletter with articles like this the article photo is compressed (as opposed to stretched). I’m using an Iphone 6plus with native mail app. Your tech team might want to check. Best regards!

  9. Hi moderator,

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with links in the comments, although from what I see, they wouldn’t be allowed. It seems however that youtube embedded videos and embedded amazon books (which I haven’t even seen before), don’t really fit the structure of the comment section without making it look totally out of place.

    If I’m not the only one seeing it this way, I’d suggest trying to disable those features for the comment section, since not even Tim uses embeds in his blog posts, but rather hyperlinks.



  10. On your Goodreads page, I just saw your answer to the question:

    “If/when you start to feel overwhelmed by all that you’re doing, what aspect(s) of your life do you focus your efforts and how?”

    Which was:

    “I focus on:

    1) 80/20 analysis and re-clarifying priorities, and…

    2) Getting out of my head and into my body. Movement, nature, even simply long walks, which are a favorite.

    I think a lot of our misery is simply an animalistic anxiety from too much sitting.

    Hope that helps!”

    Thank you for that second point. I really needed to read that concise and simple fact right now.

    Especially as someone with ADHD (and “who is on the spectrum”, etc.) who has noticed that, despite sitting in front of a computer screen a majority of the time I’m awake since my teen years, I can do physical labour for entire work days and still feel great afterwards: I not only should, but I NEED to, get out of my head and into my body. Daily!

    I can “take” more than I think, and not only am I doing a major disservice to my mental health (which was at an all-time low in 2017; disturbingly so)—I’m being abusive towards myself—by sitting passively.

    I don’t know if you’ll read this. But if you do, I want you to know:

    I’m so glad I found your podcast and started listening to it while doing said physical labour these past few months.

    It has honestly changed my life.

    You have helped me help myself; I was drowning in myself, and you have helped me find the strength within me (that I didn’t even know I had) to push off from the bottom of my mental abyss, stay above the surface, and swim back towards the shore. I can breathe again. I am finally seeking help. And I am so, so grateful.

    Thank you, Tim.

  11. Just a short profound thanks for your passion and those of your guests that has improved my life many fold.

    I’m 51, in the best shape ever -40lbs and more learned and curious than ever about well…everything. Thank you for making my world much bigger again.

  12. My company is interested in becoming a sponsor of yours. We are currently reading Tribe of Mentors and are loving it! Can you please have someone reach out to me?

  13. hey tim… any chance your book tribe of mentors (or even the last one tools of the titans) will be on AUDIOBOOK any time soon? i would love to listen to it on my daily commute. seems i don’t have much time to read these days, but i’d love to hear the content. Pretty please??

    1. Sir , can you show text for you voice , i don’t understand , that’s trust , and after , don’t ask me for it . because i don’t understand , or you ask with your blog , best idea

  14. This is not for publication, purely for feedback. Not a comment on the show, or the content, but the formatting of the email announcing this post (no, really, I do have a life). When viewed in portrait, the photo has Tim looking an awful lot thinner (or perhaps squished is a better term). I can provide a screenshot, and the various technical details. Clicking through to the blog post and everything is formatted appropriately. Let me know if you want further information. Cheers!

  15. Hi Tim, Your podcast has been a solid force in my life and I wnat to thank you for the quality and diligence you put into each podcast. I especially like the Stoic philosophy which I have been interested in since reading Admiral James Stockdale’s “Thoughts of a Philosphical Fighter Pilot” which is his essays on how he used stoic philosophy and particuarly Epictetus to survive and lead through his many years in the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam war. I just finished Tribe of Mentors and did not see this book mentioned by anyone but it is my most gifted book. It is an unbelievable book of philosophy in action. There are many philosophers but this guy put stoicism to an unbelievable test. Anyway I pass it on to you as a fan of stoicism.

  16. Hi Tim,

    Hope you are well? I am a huge fan of the podcast but am missing the old blog posts. Any future plans for more long-form blog posts?

    If you ever make it to London. Come train and visit us at Wave Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Without your books, I would never have opened the gym.

    Be well 🙂


  17. I really enjoyed Debbie’s segment on the benefits of therapy: contentment, self-acceptance, understanding your real motivations, getting over insecurities, etc.

    I’ve never been to therapy but I’ve gotten excellent similar results with something I wanted to share in case anyone else wants to try it. I call it Private Audio Journaling.

    Basically I just use a voice recorder app and talk about whatever I’ve been thinking and feeling, especially anything that caused discomfort. Then I’ll try to probe a little deeper why this or that bothered me, going back into the past or recurring patterns. I’ll record usually a 5-10 minute entry on average, then stop and play it back (something about hearing yourself say it out loud is key). I’ll usually end up recording several entries in a session, and I do it probably once or twice a week on average.

    What makes it “Private” is that I bought a dedicated laptop computer that is never connected to the Internet. I actually opened up the case and pulled out the WiFi/Bluetooth card (easy – takes a couple minutes and only requires a screwdriver). Then I installed full disk encryption software so it requires a password at boot.

    That may sound paranoid but I think the ability to admit ANYTHING, no matter how embarrassing, is key to success. I would be inhibited by fear of it getting out from hackers, viruses, theft, etc. (But I’m also just a generally fearful and inhibited person – something I learned about myself from audio journaling and used to be unaware of or ashamed to admit). If you’re less paranoid just use the app on your phone or regular computer.

    I’ve been doing this for two years and it’s really changed my life. I’m not claiming it’s as good as going to a real therapist, but does have certain advantages:

    1. You don’t have to worry about finding someone you trust or have a rapport with.

    2. You can say anything without fear of judgment or concerns about confidentiality.

    3. You can do it at home any time in your pajamas.

    4. It doesn’t cost anything other than the one-time laptop purchase price, and you can use a $100 old laptop from craigslist because it doesn’t need to be powerful.

    You can use the private journal to write also if you want. No need to install Microsoft Office – just use the free Wordpad app that comes with Windows. For audio I’ve been using the Voice Recorder that comes with Windows 10.

    Other security tips: Pick a good password you’ve never used online, always shut the computer down completely when not in use, and make sure there isn’t anything else with a microphone in the same room (other computer, cell phone, Alexa, etc.).

  18. You should have Arthur Haines on the show!

    Arthur has been a frequent and well-received guest on other popular podcasts, such as Fat Burning Man, Not Just Paleo, and Rewild Yourself.

    [Moderator: additional text and links removed.]

    Please let me know what the next steps are to get Arthur on Tim Ferris show!

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

  19. My favorite lesson from this episode was Debbie Millman’s investment in therapy. As someone who struggles with being coldhearted and egotastic, it helps me to know that people far more successful benefit from therapy. Like the stoic “Practice Poverty” lesson, it’s helpful to know that therapy is a tool that is there if you need it, that it can be extremely powerful, and that anyone going to therapy is not weak. They are instead facing their struggles head on, doing exactly what is required to conquer them.

  20. Hey, Tim and everyone else on this fantastic blog! My name is Piotr (Peter) and I’m on fire to build something extraordinary in the realm of performance psychology. I would love to incorporate psychological mental skills training and the new cognitive training technologies such as vision training and include all of these in a clinical environment. I’m currently completing my master of human kinetics specializing in sport and exercise psychology and I’m looking to learn more from real-world experience, not simply through academic journals.

    What I’m asking for is some guidance. Tim or anyone in this comment section would like to talk about things such as these I’m open to talk further.

  21. Amazing podcast. It’s a pleasure to listen to you. Many investment opportunities to learn here. I am always keen to learn for some better investment opportunities. Keep up the great work.

  22. This quote could not be more wrong. Our real purpose is to know and serve God. In doing so we bring Him glory and it makes us happy.

    Quote I’m pondering —

    “You must acknowledge deep in your heart of hearts that people are supposed to fuck. It is our main purpose in life, and all those other activities—playing the trumpet, vacuuming carpets, reading mystery novels, eating chocolate mousse—are just ways of passing the time until you can fuck again.”

    — Cynthia Heimel

  23. Tim,

    Love your podcast and your books, keep it up man! I’ve noticed that a lot of your content lately is tips and suggestions you’d recommend when it comes to finance/fitness/diet/etc. Seeing as you’ve reached a point in your career where your name by itself has enough weight to sell A LOT books.. Why not make your next book all about what advice YOU would give to people in various parts of life? I would certainly be interested in said book, and, I’m sure, all of your other readers and listeners would be too.

  24. Oh my goodness. Adam Robinson was a terrible (airquotes) interview. I hope this is an exceptional poor example of this podcast. I really love your long-format interviews, and this was my first episode of this podcast. I’ll try another one or two, but wow, this one was terrible.