Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Terry Crews (@terrycrews), an actor currently starring in the Golden Globe award-winning Fox sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a former NFL player (Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins, and Philadelphia Eagles) and author of the autobiography, Manhood: How to Be a Better Man — or Just Live with One. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. With some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy!
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Tim Ferriss: Hello, boys and girls, ladies and germs. This is Tim Ferriss. And thank you for joining me once again. As always, it is my job to deconstruct world class performers from every field imaginable to tease out the habits, routines, and so on that you can use. This episode is a very special one. It was such a treat. And you will realize why once we get into it. But it was recorded live at the Aratani Theater in Los Angeles in front of a sold out crowd. So, thank you to everyone who came. This was for Live Talks LA. And the guest was from within the pages of Tribe of Mentors, Terry Crews.
You may have heard of Terry Crews before, Twitter, Instagram @terry crews, Facebook Real Terry Crews, terrycrews.com. Terry Crews is an actor and former NFL player.
Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins, and Philadelphia Eagles. His wide ranging credits include the original viral Old Spice commercials, television series such as The Newsroom, Arrested Development, and Everybody Hates Chris, and films, including White Chicks, very underrated film. I think it’s fantastic. The Expendables franchise, Brides Maids, and The Longest Yard. He now starts on the Golden Globe Award winning Fox sitcom Brooklyn 99. In 2014, Terry released his auto bio, Manhood, How to be a Better Man or Just Live with One. And we start in some really unusual places in this conversation.
And it takes us a little bit of time to warm up, as it very, very often does. But stick around because this conversation really, really delivered. And with Terry, you just have to give him the ball and let him run with it. And that applies metaphorically in so many different capacities. But I really hope you enjoyed this conversation. If you enjoy it even half as much as I did, you will love it.
It was that much fun. And I remember, for hours afterwards, I went out to have wine and dinner with a few friends, and I just said, “God, man, Terry really, really hit a home run with this evening. He just killed it.” And I think you’ll get a feeling for why that’s the case. A lot of these stories, you have never heard before. A lot of the tips, the tools, favorite books, and so on, the elaborations you have never heard before. Terry is a true original. And here we go, without further ado. Please enjoy my conversation with Terry Crews.
Terry Crews: What’s up? Man, it’s so good. How you all doing? This is awesome. I love Tim Ferriss.
Tim Ferriss: This has been so surreal for me. First, greeting you. This is the first time we’ve met in person. And clapping him on the trap and feeling like I was trying to move a steer, I realized you are, in fact, as big as you look on television. And first and foremost, I really just wanted to thank you for, and I mentioned this back stage, but being so deliberate and thoughtful in your responses because I do know how busy you are. And we’re going to talk about that schedule. And you really took the time to put intention into your answers. And people have just gone berserk. It’s been a very powerful impact. So, thank you for that.
Terry Crews: Thank you, thank you.
Tim Ferriss: And I thought we’d start somewhere that perhaps people wouldn’t associate you with, if that’s even English. But you guys get my drift. And that is art. So, I went on to your Instagram profile not too long ago, and I saw a number of different profiles. And then, I started digging. And I didn’t want to tease out too much because I wanted to talk about it. Can you tell us a little bit about your background with art?
Terry Crews: Wow. First of all, I grew up in Flint, Michigan, a very popular place right now. I drank the water. I did. I’m a little crazy. But the deal was is that I’ve always been left handed, right brained, and very visual about everything in my life. And I remember, I have an older brother and a younger sister. And when my brother was off to school, I was about 4 or 5 years old. I hadn’t gone to kindergarten yet. I used to just sit and draw all day long. And it was something where I remember being inside of a painting or a picture or a drawing, and time would stop.
I would be there for almost – I remember starting a drawing or whatever, and it would turn into night. It would be eight hours have gone by, and it felt like, literally, twenty minutes. And I got better and better. But this is the deal, too, is that I was always, always disappointed as an artist because it never looked the way I wanted it to look. So, every drawing, every painting became this effort to make what was in my head match what was on the paper. And I’m still doing that, in regard to performances, in regard to drawing, in regard to my furniture, in regard to all of the things that I’ve ever tried to do. It’s still not as good as it is in my head.
And that’s crazy. And it’s weird. But I think my whole life has been trying to match up with this thing and this vision that I have in my head. And I don’t think I’ll ever get there. But it’s fun to try.
Tim Ferriss: So, I want to dig into a few details of this because you’re a very understated guy. So, you used to paint portraits of football players as a means of making money. Not only that, but you had an art scholarship before you had a football scholarship, is that right?
Terry Crews: That’s right.
Tim Ferriss: So, this isn’t just me, as a professional courtesy, trying to paint a holistic picture of somebody bigger than what you see on screen. This guy is a real artist. And speaking of someone that I wanted to be a comic book penciler for about 15 years. So, throughout college and everything, I was an illustrator trying to pay some of the bills. I was a very, very bad bouncer, not built for it. And I suppose a mediocre illustrator. But I really, really appreciate that. How did art serve you through these 17 to 20 lives that you seem to have led?
Terry Crews: Man. You got to – growing up in Flint, there were a number of obstacles. Crazy, crazy obstacles because I grew up at the height of the crack epidemic, and also, the demise of the auto industry. So, there were two things happening at once, and they were both horribly bad. It was like the ‘80s – probably the late ‘70s all the way through the ‘80s into the ‘90s was, literally, the walking dead. And it was real. You had people who were cracked out. I had friends, family who, one day, they were good people, the next day, they were stealing everything you had all the way to everyone you knew were losing their jobs. And it was a panic. And I remember there were two ways out. And one was through music and performing. Another way was athletics. But you couldn’t get paid doing art. Everybody was like that’s a wonderful picture, but you’re a starving artist. That’s the whole term. And I remember just saying, okay, I’m going to do this art thing, but I had to do the football thing, too. And these were my ways out. now, I didn’t believe that I was actually going to get any kind of light as an artist, but I had one teacher, one man, Mr. Eikleburg, I’ll never forget this. And he was like, he said, “Terry, you are an amazing artist.” He was like, “I’m the art teacher. You’re better than me.” And he said, “You can go somewhere with this.” And I was like, “Okay, but nobody is going to pay me to do this. It’s good, but I’ve got to use football.”
Well, he filled out all of the applications for me. And I didn’t even know. This is crazy. And he took my pictures and my paintings and everything that I did. And he took them and got them photographed, did all of this stuff, sent them to Interlocking Arts Academy. Now, Interlocking is this world famous, big, big deal arts camp up in Northern Michigan near Traverse City. And you study with people from all over the world. And he, literally, came to me and told me – he had already filled out everything, and he said, “Terry, you have a scholarship from Chrysler, full ride, to go to Interlocking Arts Academy.”
And I was like, “What are you talking about?” First of all, I didn’t think it was possible. This is the deal. There’s a lot of things – it’s weird because you got to let people believe in you. But I didn’t believe in myself. And, when I got a chance to go to Interlocking and study with people from Europe and from Brazil, and these were mainly music students. And then, they had art students. And it was just this – and coming from Flint, coming from the hood. And then, this changed my life. I remember we had, and it was really big on competition, very, very big on competition, it was like, if you were a violinist, you had to be the first chair and second chair. And I remember all of these kids were disappointed because they kept moving down, and they would just feel like they were crushed.
And the same thing with art. They gave us two – we had to do two drawings, and we had the whole class doing all of these drawings. And they said put your drawings on the wall, and don’t put your name on them. We have this guy coming from the Cleveland Institute of Art. He’s going to judge each painting. And we want to see who is the best. And I was like, oh, man.
And so, I did my deal. It was a wall full of art. And the art guy pointed at mine, and he said, “That one is the best one.” He went all the way across the room. And he said, “That one.” And they were both mine. And I was like now, life is a confidence game because then, you couldn’t tell me nothing. I was like damn it, I’m good. I got too arrogant. Then, I got arrogant. I’m the best one here. And then, you have to be humbled in some other way. But that let me know. I was like wow, I can do it. I can do it. I’m really as good. This is all over the world. And then, I got a scholarship to Western Michigan University in art. But it was small. It wasn’t full ride, but it was a small deal.
So, I got an art scholarship and walked on to the football team. And my mom passed away almost three years ago. And she always would tell me, she would say, “Whatever you do, I know you’re doing all of this football stuff, you’re doing all of these other things, but never forget you’re an artist, babe. You’re an artist.” I’m telling you, when I see what I’m doing right now, and I get to do so many things that so many people never got to see. I get to go so many places and do so many things that none of the people who wanted to were able to. I feel like there is a responsibility, but also, if I don’t do it, everything they’ve gone through is nothing.
So, the way I approach things is really kind of for everyone else. I have to try it. I have to go for it. And I knew, even as I was doing football, and I was doing all of this stuff, I remember because football was hard. Football is, again, another competitive deal. You would get on the team, and I would get cut. I was like I have to depend on this art thing because this is what got me here. And so, I would go back in the locker room, and this is how – I was married. I had two kids, at the time. I would go back in the locker room and go to the players. And I would ask them if they wanted their portraits painted.
And the weird thing is they were like come on, man, you can’t do it. And I would show them my portfolio. And they were like damn, dude. All right. And I was like, “Look, man, I’m going to paint you, and you’re going to be a giant over the city.”
“And you can have wings.” And let me tell you, football players are the most egotistical people in the world. They were like yeah, man, I want the wings, dog. How much for them wings, man? And I was like yeah. And I would do these masterpieces. But I have to tell you this, too. I did have a scam. I had a scam. This is the scam. In college, I would – what happened is I was playing football. But when you play football, you don’t get money for supplies. You only get book loans. See, scholarship is a gype. I’m telling, the NCAA is a gype, dude, the whole deal. You are not a student athlete.
You are semi pro. That’s all it is. There’s no student in it. I’m just putting it right now. And what was crazy is that I was like but I want to study art. And they were like why don’t you just study business or something, so, it’s easier to get by because the whole thing is just getting by.
Take a class, so, you can go to football practice. But I was like, “I’m an artist.” And they were like okay, whatever. So, I would go to these labs, and I would make – this is what I had planned. In the summer, I would make like probably 10 paintings. And then, I would make four of them really suck. They would be really, really bad. And I would bring those in in the beginning in these labs. And I would go to the teachers, and I was like man, what’s wrong with this? Help me out here. And he was, “Oh, Terry, oh, my God. We’re going to work on your perspective. And we’re going to do this.”
And I was like, “Yeah, I know, help me.” And then, I would go home, and then, I would go to practice for like a month and never do anything else because I had the paintings done. Then, I would bring another one in that was a little bit better. And let me tell you, I did this the whole semester. And then, I would bring out the masterpieces.
And I would say look how much you helped me. You took me from here to there, sir. And they were like you get an A. You are awesome. And, again, the whole thing was a scam. But I had to survive. I had to find a way to stay in school. Because this is the thing, a lot of people don’t know is that they can take your scholarship. It was crazy. It was one of those things where you are there as a body. And if you don’t perform, they’ll find a way to get rid of you. So, that’s a whole other subject.
Tim Ferriss: So, you mentioned surviving. You strike me as a really well adapted survivor. You’ve been through a lot. You’ve experienced a lot in your life. And you mentioned, very briefly, backstage, and I said, no, I want to talk about this in front of everybody, a vow that you and was it your brother and your friend made. Could you explain that, give the story of that from your childhood?
Terry Crews: First of all, I – this is the deal. I love to demystify. When I was a kid, no one would tell us anything, anything. And you got to understand, growing up in Flint, Michigan, it’s a factory town. And it’s, literally, the crabs in the bucket. And I’ve said this before, but people would say you can do anything you want to do, Terry Crews, you can do it. And you tell them what you want to do, and they’re like what they hell makes you think you can do that? Wait a minute. You just said we can do anything we want to do. You just said that. And I would call them on it. But what was wild is because, again, it was a factory town.
Everybody drove the same car. You had the same house. You had every – everything was the same. You went to the same stores. There was this one place called Meyer Thrifty Acres. Everybody would go. You would find all of the same food. It was the same clothing. Everything was the same. And I didn’t want any of it.
And I remember just asking people how do you get from here to there? What’s the secret to this? And what’s – one day, you’re going to find out. You just got to tough it out. You’re like come on man. I’m 9. I didn’t want all that. And so, what I did, me and my best friend made a vow, we made a vow that whenever you learned something that I don’t know, you are going to have to tell me. And if I learn something you don’t know, I’ll promise to tell you. And this is how I got through my whole teenage years. My father was a drunk. He was abusive.
He beat – my earliest memory is him hitting my mother in the face as hard as he could and her getting knocked out. And I knew, for a long time, that I had to do something to get out. What that does to a 5-year-old child is that you realize, first of all, he says he loves her. And he just knocked her out. So, what is he going to do to me? So, I remember trying to be very, very strong as a young kid. I would lift up couches, make muscles. And the whole thing was I was obsessed with becoming strong. And what was wild is that, right along with that, you had to be smart because this is another thing that’s crazy is that, in masculinity, we always say, hey, man, we never negotiate with a terrorist, never. But if you talk to a real negotiator, you always negotiate with a terrorist nonstop. First of all, I had to negotiate with my father. When he got mad, it was like hey, man, you want another beer? What you need? I’ll turn on the TV. Everybody be quiet because he’s here.
I spent all of my young days negotiating with that. Then, you go outside, and you got the drug dealer. You got the bully. You got the gang member. You’re like hey, man, should I walk on this side of the street, or this side of the street? Are we cool? Okay. And you don’t want me to go over there, cool, all right. I didn’t talk to your girl. I didn’t talk to your sister. I didn’t, I didn’t. Dude, so, you’re negotiating that. I go to football, in that world, and you’re negotiating with coaches. Let me tell you, I had a coach who was like, hey, man, I like Tyrone. This is a white guy. He’s like I’m going to call you Tyrone.
I’m like, “My name is Terry, coach.” He said, “I like Tyrone. Your name is Tyrone.” He called me friggin’ Tyrone. Do you know how abusive that is? How demeaning that is? But I had to negotiate with this guy because he had my dream in his hand. And I was like what am I going to do?
This is my way to make money. This is my way out of Flint. This is my way out of doing whatever I got to do. “You’re Tyrone.” Okay. I’ll be Tyrone right now, if that’s what I have to do. And it’s so wild because you realize this negotiation thing keeps playing. And it plays out in different ways. You know what I mean? And I’m going to have to bring it up because I want to bring up what’s happening in Hollywood right now. Because you have a lot of people who are negotiating with terrorists. You’re negotiating with people who are holding your dreams in their hands.
And it’s kind of wild because, again, I’ve been through all of this, all the way from my dad all the way up to Hollywood. You spend 20 years building this career, and I friggin’ have to negotiate with a terrorist for my own dream. And I’m sitting here like wait a minute, man.
I don’t have to put up with that. I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to put up with it. And it’s kind of wild because you have to get to a point in every job and everything where you’ve just had enough. There were times in the hood when I said I had enough, and I fought back. There was a time with my dad, I said I had enough, and I beat his ass. There was a time now when I’ve had enough of this shit, and I said no more. No more. This, I’m not going for. And it’s wild because you give people a shot. You give people a chance to make things right. To say you’re not doing me right. And this is the deal. I’ve learned, too – I’m sorry. I know there’s probably some questions, but I’m going on.
Tim Ferriss: I’m tired of hearing myself talk, so, no, no.
Terry Crews: My wife says he damn near interviews himself. That’s the deal. That’s why she’s not here tonight.
Tim Ferriss: That’s the lazy man’s interview. The monologue, the lazy man’s interview.
Terry Crews: I know. I hate it. I got so much damn shit to say. I’m sorry. It’s just trying to get it off my chest, man. I’m just getting it off my chest. First of all, it’s so wild because, once you reach certain spots, and you have to negotiate with these guys long enough to get what you need, to get what you have to have, and then, you can move on. And when I look at what art has done for me, and when I look at – because, right now, I have a furniture collection. Bernhardt gave me a collection of furniture. And I kind of segued into that. And I still do art. And I still paint. And I still draw. I plan on, literally, having art shows. Later in my life, just really becoming full fledged with painting and drawing and the whole thing.
But one thing is that it’s really something that no one can take from me. Like it’s something that I can do all on my own. And I don’t care. You don’t have to like it. If I like it, it’s okay. And it’s become one of the things that, in my life, that’s what art is. It’s, literally, subjective. It’s what you want to see. And, again, it’s all about can I get this vision that’s in my head on this piece of paper? But now, it’s almost like I want to – my life has turned into art. I want the vision of who I am and who I want to be to be out in real life. I like to call myself a motivational doer. I hate talking so much. I’m a big talker, as you can tell, but the big thing is I want to back everything up with action.
I want to be an action figure. Like always, always back it up with movement. Don’t talk about working out. You can do it all day, but do it. And that was the big, big distinction of seeing, especially growing up in the hood, of so many people. Man, I’m fixing to this, I’m fixing to – and man, I said, “Man, why haven’t you? Why aren’t you?” And so, everything you see me doing, I just said I’m going. I’m trying. I’m going for it. I don’t care. And we’ll see what happens. Okay. Questions.
Tim Ferriss: All right. Terry Crews.
Terry Crews: I think the time is up.
Tim Ferriss: We’ll be here all week. So, I have two questions related to everything you just said. And it’s going to take 10 minutes for me to get them out. No. The first one is related to how you responded to all of those challenges. You had an abusive father, you have an abusive coach. You have all of these various challenges. And there are a lot of people who I suspect, and I know some of them, who respond to those environmental factors by becoming bitter and not doing. So, where did you develop your optimism or that ability to be proactive? Because a lot of people just opt out. They feel like the deck is stacked against them, and they choose not to even attempt.
Terry Crews: And this is real, man. I learned it from my wife. For me, I’ve been a part of this super masculine, the toxic, masculine world for so long. And I had a come to Jesus meeting, so to speak. Literally, everything was ending. I was a narcissist, totally, still am a little bit, definitely. But I’m working on that every day.
Tim Ferriss: How old were you?
Terry Crews: I would say it’s an ongoing process. I would say, over the last 17 years, you know what I mean. Literally, from 17 years ago to now, it was like wow, especially after football. Once football ended, and the entertainment thing kind of happened, I had to learn you can’t fight your way out of things. You have to think your way out of things. And I noticed how my wife behaved. And I noticed, actually, how women behave because women have to think their way out of all kinds of situations. Whereas guys, we can muscle our way through and do all of this stuff and whatever. But I realized that that was not getting me anywhere. And my wife really taught me that vulnerability is not weakness. That I had to be vulnerable, but I had to be authentic, at the same time.
And she would always, always talk to me and tell me that – and she would always tell me the truth. Like there’s nothing more valuable than somebody who is going to speak the truth into your life. And she would constantly tell me this is wrong. The way you’re acting right now is awful. And I’m just like what? I’m like all of these other guys because that’s what guys do. You compare yourself to all of the other guys. And you say but, compared to them, I’m good, right? And she’s like I’m done. I’ll never forget the first time I had a big job. I remember, I got a big movie and whatever. And I was walking around at this party, and I had a cigar.
And I was walking around. And man, I had the swag. She was like, okay, you can stay over there. I’m going to be over there. And I was like what are you talking about. I’m winning. I’m winning. And she was like, no, baby. No, no. And I was like wow. And I realized, just in those little ways, I was losing her.
And so, I put the cigar down. I come back over there, and she said, “Now, that’s my Terry.” I was like oh, wow. And then, I had to be the same way with my kids. Now, I have two grown kids, actually, three now. My oldest daughter is 30. I have another one that’s 27. And they were the football kids that went through the whole toxic masculinity phase. And I tell the kids all of the time, those two, I’m like, look, you want cash, credit, whatever, you get it because I messed you all up really bad. I did. I’m like I’m so sorry. I constantly apologize, constantly try to make amends because I was too tough.
I was too hard. Now, they look at the other ones, and they’re like you treat them so good. I’m like I know. I’m so sorry. What can I say? But, again, my wife has been the example for me. And I remember when I had – one of the biggest fights that I ever had in my life was an addiction to pornography.
And I put it in my book, but the whole thing was I had to – once I realized that I, Terry Crews, thought that I was more valuable than my wife and kids simply because I was a man, and that allowed the pornography to exist in my life because they were objects. And let me tell you, man. I’ll never forget. My wife was like I’m done. I’m out. I’ve had enough. And then, at first, I was like, okay, go. Bye. I’ll just find another girl. It will be all good. And all of a sudden, there was a little voice, and it said maybe it’s me. I was like no, it couldn’t be me. I’m like come on. She’s not understanding.
And everything was looking out like this. Everything was blaming everybody else for what I was going through. And man, that voice came back again. It’s like a cracked egg, man. Once that egg cracks, you can’t close it up. You can’t seal it again. And I was like, man, it is me. It is me. And man, let me tell you, it was like one day thinking that the sun revolves around the earth, and then, somebody going no, no, no, no. We go around the sun, dude. And I was like oh, shit. It’s a whole other deal. And I went to rehab. And this is another thing in black culture. You don’t get therapy. It’s viewed as very, very weak. You’re viewed as you’re a punk. You’re sorry. And, man, I broke through all of that. And I’m going to tell you, man.
That’s when it all started for me. And then, the next goal was to start talking because, even now, right now, this right here is therapy for me. It’s therapy talking about things, sharing my heart. It helps me to line up what’s right in my life. And I have to give this man props, too, because remember when I told you about looking for the answers and looking for the questions, and getting questions and trying to find answers. I would go to these books because it was all about finding answers, asking questions, questions, questions. I still have a thing on my social media called the hard questions where I just ask questions, man. If we can’t ask questions, we’re doomed. We’re doomed. Okay. I’m done. I can’t stop talking.
Tim Ferriss: When I was looking at your history and your book and your back story, one thing that I paid attention to as a pattern was an uncommon degree of self reflection. And so, I want to rewind the clock a little bit back to high school. And one of the stories that you put in Tribe of Mentors is related to my question related favorite failures or a failure that set you up for later success. Could you tell us a little bit about that please?
Terry Crews: Man, yes. In 1986, that was my senior year in high school. And I went to Flint Academy. And it was a classy school, but we were highly ranked in the state. And I used to be a basketball player. Hard to believe now. Basketball was a big sport for me. But I was the starting center on this team. And what was wild is we were picked to go all the way in the state. We had a super star on our team.
And we had a really, really good team. But we played against a school who decided not to play. It was the district championship. And it was right at the beginning of the playoffs. And these guys would take the ball down the court and pass the ball to each other at the top of the court and wouldn’t play. And we had a coach who was like well, you know what, I’m going to beat you at your own game. So, we stayed in the zone. So, we’re sitting there the whole time. And I’m telling you, it was the most boring game of all time. We just sat there with our hands up, and they passed the ball. And if anything happened, somebody went and got it, and you scored two.
It was just a mess. So, the score was really, really low. And they were up 47 to 45. And it was, literally, under a minute. And I’m freaking out because, now, we’re going to – it’s evident we’re going to lose because I’m going man, this is a dumb defensive strategy anyway. We should have been going after it. But what happened is a guy threw the ball. Their guy threw the ball cross court, I intercepted it. And with literally five seconds left to go, and I take the ball all the way down the court. You got to understand. I’m thinking I had visions of oh, my God, this is the thing. I’m the hero. The heart is like pounding. I’m already at the party. You know what I mean? And I go with this layup, and I bring it up there, and it’s totally – it gets around the rim, and it rolls off. And let me tell you that place goes nuts because it was the upset of the year. And I collapsed in a heap. And I know my life is over. And you got to understand. And this is another thing. Shame among men. It’s like how could you do that, man?
Other players were yelling at me. The coach – I was in the locker room, and he was like you had no business taking that shot. And I stole the ball. It wasn’t like – we didn’t have a shot anyway. But he was like you had no business taking that shot. You should have passed it. Man, it’s your fault. And everybody in the room was like yeah. And they didn’t let me off one – and I remember just going oh, my God. And I went in the paper. And the paper, the next day, it was like Terry Crews had a shot, and he missed. And let me tell you, it was the most dark – when you’re 16 years old, I was beyond crushed.
And one guy was taunting me. I got in a fight after it at school and the whole thing. And I was just like this is awful. It’s horrible. And so, it was a couple of days went by, and I was in the deepest funk. I’m sitting on my bed, and I shared my room with my brother.
But, for some reason, he wasn’t there because I always remember him being there. It was kind of crazy. I don’t ever remember being alone, except that time. And I remember being alone and just thinking about I should have passed it. I should have passed it. Maybe I messed up. And what else could I have done? And then, another little voice. It said I took the shot. I took the shot. And I was like I did. I did. And I kept thinking, it was like, man, look, when you had the chance, when everything was on the line, you took your shot, man. You did that. You did that. And all of a sudden, I was like that’s right. I took it. And I learned, from then on, I said, man, wait a minute.
If I win or if I fail, it’s going to be on my terms. It’s going to be up to me. If I have the opportunity, I have to go for it. And then, I felt really good about losing the game. It was real. Now, you can call it reframing. A lot of people have scientific ways or psychological ways to do things. But I learned always to kind of reframe things so that it’s to your advantage. You know what I mean? And you look at these things like wait a minute, you took the shot, man. And this is another thing because what’s so crazy is that no one ever remembers that game. It’s one of the least important things in my life. But the lesson I learned is still guiding me today. The fact that go for it. Take your shot. Take your time.
When you get that thing, when you have that opportunity, don’t mess it up because this is another thing. And I want to tell you, Tim, the scariest thought ever is one thing that blew me away is that you really do get what you want. And let me tell you what I mean. There have been times when you can be self destructive. And you think it’s something else, or you think – I discovered, for a long time, if I show up late for something twice, I don’t want it. And you get what you desire. Everything about you, you get what you want. Now, the way your life is, truthfully, you want it. Now, that’s hard to say because a lot of people are like no way. There’s so many other obstacles. There’s this and this and this and this. But the truth is, if you wanted something different, you’d change it. And that hit me. Like it’s scary because, if I failed, or if I showed up wrong or messed up on something, I was like I didn’t really do what it took to get it. And, again, that comes from taking that shot way back in high school. But now, I realize, okay, get rid of any what I call self sabotage, and you can achieve whatever you need.
Tim Ferriss: This is such a pattern that I’ve seen across interviews that I’ve done. We were talking about Jamie Foxx back stage. But it goes all the way across the spectrum, say Debbie Millman who is a well known graphic designer. And she realized, at one point, and then, made her mantra busy is a decision. You’re disallowed from complaining responding to someone when they say how are you with a complaint that you are busy because that’s a consequence of your decisions. When did, for you, books enter the picture as a force that began to mold you or guide you? Do you remember? Because there were – for instance, there’s a book that you mentioned when I asked in the book about those gifts you’ve gifted most to other people, The Master Key System.
Terry Crews: The Master Key System, okay.
Tim Ferriss: So, that’s one example. I’d love to hear you talk about that, certainly. So, maybe we can start with that. When did that show up for you?
Terry Crews: Wow. Again, I’m a self help book nut. I therapize all of the time. I have audio books going nonstop. And I’ve been doing that for almost 25 years, literally. I probably read everything. This is why I’m a big fan of yours.
Tim Ferriss: You’re like there are only these Tim Ferriss books left, damn it. I’ve been avoiding this guy for months.
Terry Crews: But when I got this book called The Master Key System, and what was wild to me, it broke down some things in ways that I can understand. Because you hear certain things, but you have to hear things in a different way so that you can grasp it. And one of the concepts in the book is that, in order to have, you have to do. And, in order to do, you have to be. And I sat, and I would contemplate this thing a lot. And I was like what does this mean? And because it sounded like gibberish. It sounded a little bit like what is is, what was will be, that kind of stuff. What will be was but will be again. Okay. But once you really examined it is that, and I’ll bring fitness into this.
Tim Ferriss: Yes, please.
Terry Crews: With fitness, you are fit before your body ever gets in shape. You have to be fitness. Every person who lost 200 pounds can tell you the moment way back then when they knew they were going to be their ideal weight. That’s the moment it was my ideal weight, I’m going to be that. And then, your body just goes right into it. I heard a great quote the other day like follow your heart, and your body will catch up. And I think that’s the way it is with everything. And that Master Key System book broke it down where I had to say – like I always had dreams of like one day, I’m going to have money. One day – and I said, wait a minute. I’m rich. I’m rich now. And this is the thing, I didn’t have a penny. But when you do things, and you say, okay, now that I’m rich, what would a rich man do?
Tim Ferriss: This is really important.
Terry Crews: Do you see? What would a rich man do? And I started doing things that rich people did. And once I did it, I had it. Have, do, be. And I was like oh, my God, this works. So, I bought like 20 copies. I handed it out to family members, and they were like come on, what is this? I had people like thank you, merry Christmas. I want some money. But it was so funny because I was like, guys, you got to understand this. You are what you are now. There is only now. This is all you have. It’s like if someone – and trying to break it down where if you were trying to get to LA, and you didn’t know you were already here, you just keep walking. You keep going. You be all over the place, until, finally, you realize, wait a minute, I’m here.
But that’s kind of the way fitness, success, any goal, any aspiration, you must be it now. That book, the thing you want to write, or that thing you want to accomplish, you have to be it now. You are an author. So, now, what do authors do? Authors write. And when authors write, they have a book. And I’m telling you, it sounds really, really simple. But once you get it, forever, you will never think of anything the same way again.
Tim Ferriss: This is something I want to underscore. And I’ll give a close cousin example that’s really helped me. For instance, historically, I’ve been really impatient. And, for a while, that aggression and impatience was an aide and help in certain places. But it very quickly, in excess, became a huge handicap and a big problem.
And so, I would surround myself with people who were more patient and more tempered and calmer. Like one friend of mine named Matt Mullenweg. Some of you might know who that is. He’s a technologist, incredible guy. And so, I started asking myself, when I was going into situations that I thought might trigger me, what would Matt Mullenweg do. How would Matt respond to this email before I freak out and start throwing hay makers and have to do clean up for a week? But that’s an example of if I were Matt, right now, even though I haven’t magically turned into Matt, but if I were, and I acted like him, what would I do?
And I started making better decisions. And then, low and behold, over time, I started to then develop those characteristics. So, I think it’s a really important point that you’re making. And there’s another question I’ve been dying to ask you. And it relates to a juxtaposition that I hope you can explain the subtleties of a little bit. So, you are and have been called hardest working man in Hollywood.
And that sounds like a cliché, but you have so many different projects and have lived so many different lives. You’re incredibly productive. And going along with that, when I asked you, and this was one of my favorite parts of what you wrote, bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise. And the quote was, “Work hard to beat the competition.” And this is what you said, which, actually, is very close to what people like Peter Teal and other people say. It’s very, very similar. The truth is is that competition is the opposite of creativity.
If I’m working hard to beat the competition, it actually prevents me from thinking creatively to make all concepts of competition obsolete. And I’d love you to expand on that or give any examples of how that has helped you in your career, in entertainment. Because a lot of people, for instance, out of the NFL, they don’t make the transition to other things well at all. So, could you expand on that?
Terry Crews: Wow. Everything that I decided I wanted to do in life was very competitive. And sports, entertainment, it’s always been about – it’s funny because the whole thing is like, man, it’s a dog eat dog world. But dogs don’t eat other dogs. They don’t. Have you ever seen a dog eat another dog? I’ve never seen it. It doesn’t happen. And I was like wait a minute, you got to start questioning thing stuff, right. You know what I mean? Because we take that like, yeah, man, we got to fight to do this. And what happened was, see, I bought in. This is how I know it doesn’t work. I bought in. I was hook, line, and sinker about being competitive. I was out to beat everybody.
I would look at you and smile and want to destroy you. That was my whole MO. And I became a very fake person, very duplicitous, very sly, very cunning, very clever. But there was no real substance because it was all about beating the other person. The NFL teaches you. What’s so wild is that you have players that are on the same team. And they would play one against the other. And they would plant things in your head and say you’re a little old, or you’re too young. You don’t know what’s going on. And I’ll never forget, one guy, it’s an older player, he was like – I said, “What do we do in cover 2?”
He was like, “Go left, go left.” And I went left, and they were like, Terry, what the hell are you doing? And I looked over at him, and he was like – and I knew he set me up. And I said, wow, this is competitive shit. It’s hard. And so, then, it was about – it’s scorched earth. What happens is, when you compete, you’re just trying to beat you. This guy next to me, this guy – we’re at the top, I’m trying to be the best. And, all of a sudden, it’s like you focus all of your attention on beating that guy. But, when you’re running, you really can’t look at the other guy and really run an effective race. And then, life is a race, and the whole thing. So, you say, okay, I’m going to just look straight ahead. But life is not a race. It’s not even a race. It’s a marathon. And then, you realize it’s not even a marathon. It’s a trail run.
And what’s crazy is that there are people who are out here running on this track to beat each other when all of the gold and everything you’re supposed to get is way over here on this mountain. And you just walk over and get it.
And that is creativity. Creativity, there’s no running. You just do you. The idea you have – and I’m going to give you a great example. When I was approached to do a furniture line for Bernhardt, I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no clue. But I did know this, do not compete. Don’t try to beat whatever is out there already. So, I created this whole thing. And I would sit in my room, I have an office, and I would sit in this office, and I was thinking, man, what would happen if Egypt was a culture that existed today? What would furniture look like in Egypt? And then, I just started drawing. And I just started creating. And let me tell you, it went for days and days. I came up with so much stuff because I wasn’t thinking about anything. I threw away the book. I was like what would I do?
And let me tell you, when I got done, I created this thing called the lily pad. And what’s funny, the chairman of the company said, “Terry, no one has ever created anything like this before.” I was like come on. I really thought he was joking with me. And then, I had all of these other designers come. And they said this lily pad thing, it’s a chair on a table combined. No one has ever done that. I was like you’re kidding me, right? And let me tell you something. I, literally, did Fallon just the other day, and we were doing interviews on Jimmy Fallon in my lily pad chairs. And he was like no one did this. And it’s winning awards. It’s doing all of this stuff. And I’m sitting here flipping out because the creativity is where it’s at. If I had been trying to do a better chair than you, it would look like a chair.
This would have been something that everybody had done but maybe a little tweak over here, a little tweak over there. But, when you are creative, it takes you to a whole other place. There are musicians, artists, business men who decided, wait a minute – because you look at what Steve Jobs has done. If he tried to make better records, he would have never come up with MP3 and never come up with iPod. It’s like you have to be so far in your own self that – and this is the greatest thing is that there’s no one else like you. There will never, ever be. The world will never, ever see another you ever, ever.
No one will ever even have the timber of your voice. That’s what’s so crazy. And no one can ever do anything like you. So, everything you really want to do is original. That’s just the truth. And once I started to see that and know – also, it’s a confidence game because you have to know that your viewpoint is just as viable.
Because, for one, I have to say, sometimes, as a woman, or sometimes, as a person of color or where you’re from, you feel like I don’t measure up. You feel like they’re not going to see it. But I had to fight that. I had to fight all of that. I’m creative. I’m not competing with you. And another comparison I like to say is Fifth Avenue. You go to Fifth Avenue, if Gucci was every store on Fifth Avenue, and Gucci won Fifth Avenue, no one would go. You need the success of Gucci, Prada, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton for your thing to be successful. You need other successful restaurants because, some night, they’re not going to feel like that. They want yours. But if everybody ate the same thing, we would all hate it. And so, this is why, now – and, as an actor, I used to get very, very jealous.
You see a billboard of something you auditioned for, you’re like, man, I hate that dude. He ain’t that good. But now, let me tell you, once I got it, I look at the billboard, and I say, man, his success is my success because the bigger he gets, the more opportunities for me. And that’s the truth. That’s not even mumbo jumbo. It’s not a joke. If everyone here is successful, it makes you more successful. And once I knew that and realized it, there was no going back.
Tim Ferriss: Terry Crews, category of one. It’s easier to create a new category than to compete. I love it. So, I want to ask one or two more questions, and then, we’ll go to audience Q&A. But what I’d love to know is, as a father, you have five kids, is that right?
Also, a grandfather with better skin than Tim Ferriss. I need to learn your secrets of moisturizing. I didn’t have time to get to the gym. I’ll be hitting you up later for those questions as well. But what advice would you give to a new parent or someone planning on having their first child? Father, mother, or both.
Terry Crews: First of all, it’s not that big a deal. And because you overdo it. You’re going to overdo it, everything. It’s got to be the right school. Let me tell you something. My oldest daughter had a whole other life I didn’t know about. I’m not kidding. You’re like I did it right. And it’s like wait, what was that? You had a whole other what? And all your preparation, all you have to do is never shame them ever. Never shame them.
And, literally, love them until they can’t stand it anymore. And I’m telling you this because I’ve made those mistakes. I remember shaming my kids. The thing is shame is horrible because it tells you you are bad. Guilt is good because it says you did something wrong. But shame – and this is when I say I messed up my first two. It feels good to shame. You feel like I’m doing a good thing. Shame on you. How could you do something like that? You say something like that to your kids, it’s bad because then, they’re internalizing it. And what I also realized is that it’s not – they’re going to be fine, but you spend so much extraneous energy and time trying to do things and figure it all out for them, when you have to let their consequences teach them.
A perfect example. This is a perfect example. I love this example. We have a TV at home, and what would happen is I would be gone, and I would come home, and I would find the kids had watched TV for like eight hours. I’d be like what are you all doing? This is crazy. I left, you were watching TV. And I come back, and you’re still watching TV. This is nuts. So, when I turned it off, they were like oh, I hate you. And they were wild. And I was like, man – and so, what I did, I got this thing called a BOB. And BOB is a little box you attach to your TV, and it plugs in through the TV.
And every kid gets a code. And you could set it for a half hour, hour, two hours, whatever. And I was like, okay, you kids are only going to watch TV for an hour. So, I set it for an hour and the whole thing. And they come in when their code. And I would leave, they were watching TV, and I would come back, and they’re sitting there like – and I’m like what happened.
And they’re like BOB. But see, this is the deal. I’m like did you watch your TV? And they go, yeah. And okay, you did good. And they go, okay. But they weren’t mad at me. You understand what I mean. It wasn’t dad did it. It was their consequences. They did what they were supposed to do. They played it all out. And now, they are feeling the effects of their consequences. They are feeling their own discipline as opposed to me always behind them pick up your stuff, why aren’t you doing this, why aren’t you doing that. And all of a sudden, the kids just are like he’s going to do it.
And now, this is the great thing about being a grandparent, you’re like, hey, they’re going to be fine, dude. Send them home, bye. But just don’t be that into it, and let them feel their own consequences. It’s a beautiful thing, man. And it’s hard. I promise you, your first child, it’s going to be hard.
So, one of the things I really appreciate about you and that led me to want to reach out to you is how forthcoming you’ve been about your difficulties and some of the challenges that you faced because I think a lot of folks we see on magazine covers and so on, unfortunately, give people the impression that they’re flawless. They have it all figured out. And then, people feel uniquely flawed, in some way. That they’re damaged because they’re not that person. That’s unachievable. Could you share with us a story of any dark period in your life and how you found your way out of it? The things that helped you to navigate your way out of it.
Terry Crews: There’s a lot of dark times. I’m going to share this story, which changed my life. First, I literally just got my first job in entertainment. I was on a TV show called Battle Dome where they, literally, put me in a cage, and I fought my way out. It was so entertaining. It was pre MMA. So, people hadn’t seen blood on TV yet. We were like the first. It was really nuts. People were bleeding, going to the hospital. It was called Real Warriors, Real Pain. And I played this character called T Money. And that’s, actually, my wife’s pet name for me now. She’s like hey, T Money. And we called this the Christmas from hell because here I wanted to come home. I went home to Flint, Michigan with my family. You got to understand, my kids, at the time, I had three. I have five total now. I had three kids, at the time, and they were all girls. They were very small. They had never grown up with violence in the house. They had never seen it. And so, I told my father before I came, I said, “Hey, man, don’t act up. Do not act up.”
And he said, “I ain’t going to do nothing.” And I’m like okay. “So, I’m bringing the family. I know it’s Christmas time, so, just relax, man. And we’re going to be there, and it will be fine.” So, we get there, we’re having a good time. My wife and I are going out. We, actually, are driving to Detroit to hang with friends. And I get this call. And it was panic. My aunt called me. She said, “Terry, your daddy hit your mother in front of the kids. He got mad. He knocked her tooth sideways.” And I’m going, “I told him, I told him.” Now, we, literally – I stopped the car.
We turn it around. I told my wife, “Okay, we’re going to go over my aunt’s. You take the kids, go over my aunt’s house, the whole thing. I’m done. I’m dealing with this.” First, I went in this house. He had the nerve to still be there.
And I said, “Dude, what are you doing?” He was like, “Shut up, leave me alone. I can do what the hell I want.” Boom. Let me tell you something. I beat this guy for about an hour. He was pleading for his life. I was like I’m not a child anymore. I am a grown ass man. And how does it feel? You are about to get what my mother has felt. And I laid it on him. He was hurt, bleeding, laid out. I’m surprised I didn’t kill him. And I felt not one ounce better. I remember falling on the ground crying in tears. It didn’t make me feel one bit better, not one. Now, I was just down there with him.
And I said this is the revenge I’ve dreamed about my whole life, and now, nothing? Now, I’m just like you? And I remember just feeling empty, cold, just I don’t know. It’s probably the darkest place I’ve ever been because this here is the man who is the reason I’m here. And I put him in his place, so to speak. And I’ll never forget. It was just the most hollow, hollow feeling I’ve ever had. We got out of there. It took me years to overcome that. We got out of there. I got the kids out. We never came back. We were like forget the holidays, we’re not doing this. But, after years of therapy, and this was, literally, about six or seven years ago. What I’m talking about happened in like ’99.
So, I go back, and I go back to my father, and I’ve been listening to things and trying to do this thing correctly. And I remember I just said I have to find one thing that I can tell him that he did good. And we called him Big Terry because his name is Terry, too. So, I said, “Big Terry, man, I want to thank you because, if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here. And if I had to choose my parents, I’d choose you.” Because the truth is, he’s the reason I’m here. If it was another person, I’d be another person. So, I said, “If I had to choose my parents, I’d choose you.” Let me tell you something. He just broke down.
He said, “Terry, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for beating your mom. I’m sorry for everything I did.” Listen, man, those words broke him down. He cried in my arms for about the same time as I was beating him years earlier. And I was like this is not hollow. This feels good, this feeling. And I said, man, I have to use my strength for good because everybody can knock somebody out. But to give a hug with muscles is a whole other matter. And I said that is how – that’s the vulnerability. That’s the authenticity. That’s where real healing takes place because shame wants punishment.
It just wants to get back, boom, boom. And it’s temporary. But guilt develops discipline. When you admit I was wrong. Shame is with secrets, and you don’t say anything. But guilt says I did it. I’m sorry. And then, you develop the discipline to change. Man, again, it was one of the darkest periods in my life but totally reversed. And I decided that’s going to be my life. This is who I am. Now, some people got their ass whooped, I’m trying to tell you, in between this now. I’m trying to tell you, one thing that some people try to take that and be like – get out of the way. But what I wanted to say is the big thing was is that I knew that would never be – the only way I would ever use that is to protect.
To protect, not to get back, not for revenge. There was a time, but I’m telling you, man, that was a period that I learned forever. Now, again, my father, I wish I could say he changed. He kind of went back to his old ways. But I’m healed. And I did the things I needed to do. And that’s it.
Tim Ferriss: Thank you. Man, I’ve been looking forward to this interview for a long time. Thank you for that as well. And I’m going to ask one more question, and then, we’ll go to audience Q&A. And it’s related to a question that I posed to you in the book because, whether it’s looking at some of your early decisions as a child or the toughness that you showed in athletics, or doing what other people might consider risky by trying to create your own category in many different worlds, or having the second conversation with your dad, I think there’s a quote that really exemplifies you.
And it’s, actually, a quote that you gave me in the book. And it was, in answering the question, if you could have a giant billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say, and why. And it begins with God will not. Can you give us that quote please, and explain its importance?
Terry Crews: God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. Ralph Waldo Emerson. It’s my favorite quote. I, literally, have it in my dressing room, put on the wall in giant letters because fear begets more fear.
But courage just begets more courage. And you don’t even get to be born, unless your mother has the courage to have you. Any great thing, any – literally, creating a business to making art, it takes this courage. It takes this willingness to be looked at, to be judged. You have to face down your fears. And you have to step outside and go. And it helped me to just lay out what I was afraid of because that’s the big thing. You have to ask yourself what are you scared of. And then, you have to attack. You have to lay out – now, you talked about your swimming experience. I was always – when you grow up in the ghetto, they kick you into the pool.
And these are not good experiences. Okay? And so, we didn’t grow up on a nice pool and the beach and the whole thing. It was like the hood. And it was like, oh, man, it’s not good. So, my first experience was horrifying. I almost drowned. And so, one of my fears was swimming. And I remember when I had a house with a pool, and I remember going in the backyard and just diving into the deep end over and over again to get rid of the fear. And it’s weird because you get near the edge, and you go, oh, man, here I am. I have to beat it.
And so, I would just jump in and just keep jumping in, and keep jumping in, until you’re not afraid anymore because, remember, it’s a confidence game. And that quote just, when you think about anything that’s made and anything that’s created, anything that you see that you admire, it takes so much courage because people are going to judge it.
And people are going to say that sucks, especially in the age of the internet. Everybody is coming in and chipping in with whatever they have to say. And you have to be willing. And you have to be vulnerable in order – this is why vulnerability is actually strength because the vulnerability is part of courage. You have to be willing to let people judge your stuff, willing to let people hear your song, willing to let people hear you sing. And it’s so wild because I’ll never forget. I’ve got a story for that. The first time I ever got a movie, it was a big movie. It was with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was called the Sixth Day.
And I’ll never forget, I thought it was going to be like a quick role. It turned out to be a big job that worked six months in Vancouver. And I’m like oh, my God. And the first day I was on set, I had to say this line.
Adam Gibson, please come with us. And I remember, they said, “Action.” And I walked up on Arnold, and I was like, “Adam Gibson, we need you to come with us.” And he turned and looked at me, and I was like – damn it, that’s Arnold Schwarzenegger. And I mean, lightning fast, everything went through my head like you don’t deserve to be here. You’re just a dumb football player. You are a farce. These people are going to figure you out. You are a fake. You’re a phony. You fooled everybody. It’s a wrap. They’re going to find out, and they’re going to kick you out of here.
And lightning fast. And something was wrong with the camera. And they were like, “We got a problem with the lights. Give us five minutes.” And this is all split second. And I remember because I froze, and I know I froze. And I remember it. I went to the side, and I was like, “Terry, okay, you survived the NFL.” And after I left the NFL, I was sweeping floors, I was doing security. And then, I went into acting. And I said, “Do you want to go back to sweeping floors? Do you want to go back to security? Go in there and say these lines, man.” And I literally was cussing myself out. It was like, yo, get some guts, dude. And I walked back in there. And they were like action. And I was like, “Adam Gibson.” And Arnold was like, “This guy, I like his energy. He’s got a lot of – it’s amazing. I like him.” And let me tell you, after that, I learned go in, rush in.
There’s never been a time – I’ve been acting for almost 20 years, and there’s never been a time – and that’s why I want to demystify this thing. There’s never been a time that I don’t have those bubbles right before action. Never, ever. It’s always there. Don’t let anybody trick you and act like oh, man, I’m good. No, no.
If they’re that good, they don’t care. I’m trying to tell you. If you care, you’re going to always be nervous. You’re going to always have to face it. But when you walk in, it turns into a mirage, and it just starts to disappear. I remember on the set of White Chicks, it disappeared. I remember, I was rolling, and Keenan Ivory Wayans, I was like, “You got any notes, Keenan?” And he was like, “Man, do what you do, man.” And I remember just flowing. People who know, and there are a lot of people here who understand it, if you’ve ever been in a flow, it’s amazing. There’s a time when all of the writing just comes, the lines just come, the job is smooth.
You’re like man, I could do this all day. That’s by practicing, facing that fear, fear, fear, just going in, going in, going in until you hit that zone. Man, it’s a high like you will never, ever, ever experience. I encourage everyone. And I’m here to demystify it. You will be nervous always, but go anyway. It’s beautiful.
Tim Ferriss: Terry Crews.
Terry Crews: I talk too much.
Tim Ferriss: I could listen for hours.
Terry Crews: My wife has had enough of this. She’d be like oh, my God, can we get out of here.
Tim Ferriss: So, we have a number of audience questions. I think we’ll just jump right into it. And then, if they’re directed at one or both of us, we’ll just play some improv jazz here. So, this one is from anonymous, my favorite person, especially on the internet. But this is a good question. And I’ll pose this one to you. Imagine you’re 95-year-old self time traveled and came to you right now. What advice would he give you?
Terry Crews: My 95-year-old son?
Tim Ferriss: Self.
Terry Crews: Okay. I was like, okay. That’s a deep one. That’s a tricky –
Tim Ferriss: Back to the Future question.
Terry Crews: That’s a movie right there. What would he tell me?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. If your very old self came back to this moment and were to give you advice, what would it be?
Terry Crews: I would like to think he would tell me you’re doing the right thing because, actually, and to be honest, more so now than ever, you start to wonder. I’m doing it. I’m going through this whole – I’m part of this whole sexual harassment thing that’s going on in Hollywood. And you start to doubt should I have come forward. Should I have said anything? I don’t know because I don’t even know – and I’ll be straight honest. I don’t know if I’m going to have a career. That’s just real.
The people that I’m talking about are very, very powerful. They run everything. I’m just me, and they’re very angry. So, retaliation is one thing that happens. But this is the truth, this has been happening to women for centuries, centuries. They’ve been trying to do their thing, just trying to go to work. They rebuff some guy, and he’s going to fire them and get his revenge. And they end up getting their dreams messed up. But I want my 95-year-old self to say you did the right thing. Everything worked out. And it’s kind of dark because you just don’t know. But, also, at the same time, I like it here. I like the adventure. I like not having everything planned out. I told you even coming out here, I don’t want to know the questions. I just want to go off the head because this is where the excitement is. You know what I mean? I’ve never wanted to be safe and comfortable. It’s exciting here. And another thing is is that, with every person that comes out after and says you adding to the story helped me, courage begets courage. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’m with it.
Tim Ferriss: What was that?
Unknown: You’re doing the right thing.
Terry Crews: Thank you. Thank you.
Tim Ferriss: So, this is a question about changes. And this one is directed at me. But I’m going to also ask you. So, since you’ve turned 40 years old recently, what lifestyle changes have you made, if any? Mostly, Depends and Ensure. That’s not true. I decided to turn my head upside down and put my hair in my face because I can’t grow it on top. Honestly, the lifestyles changes are not changing what’s worked. Does that make sense? I’ve heard, at every what people would consider milestones, whether it’s 25, 30, 40, they’re like oh, it’s all downhill from here. It’s all downhill from here. And I’m like, yeah, you’re saying that because you stopped doing everything you’re supposed to be doing. It’s like I’m just going to keep doing the very simple approach that I have that’s regimented. You’re warm up would kill me.
It would send me to the ER probably. But I have my simple approach that seems to work. And it’s really not using excuses to stop doing those things because they seem to keep me strong. So, not many lifestyle changes. The only major change that has become very important to me at least, in the last six to twelve months, in particular, is paying tremendous attention to trying to fix a lifelong habit of berating and brutally attacking myself with my inner voice.
I’ve been extremely unkind to myself most of my life. And we don’t have enough time to unpack that right now. But some bad things happened to me really early, and that made me very angry. And I use that anger as a tool. But, as it’s been said, the anger is sort of the acid in the vessel. It damages the vessel more than anything it’s poured on. And I’ve really realized that in the last six to twelve months that if you want – this is my conclusion at least. If you want to love people fully, if you want to share your gifts with the world, you cannot do it if you just tolerate yourself. You cannot do it if you don’t love yourself.
It sounds like an indulgence. It did to me for a long time. It’s not. It’s not a nice to have. It’s a must to have. So, that’s psychologically and emotionally the biggest change that I’m trying to make. Now, you are, even though you look 23, are about to turn the big 5-0.
Terry Crews: I’ll be 50.
Tim Ferriss: So, what lifestyle changes have you made, or what are the most important habits that keep you looking 23?
Terry Crews: Well, I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for about 5.5 years. And man, that was the most valuable lifestyle change for me. I found that – now, again, I see people who are much younger than me. I wouldn’t recommend it for a 20-year-old just because you can eat like 4 pizzas and be fine. But, as you get older, and I grew up in the bro science era where it’s like seven meals a day and get your oatmeal, a lot of that. And so, it blew me away. I read this book called Man 2.0 and Engineering the Alpha.
And I was like this is crazy. It was unthinkable that you only eat eight hours in a day and a sixteen hour fast. And I do it every day. Now, some people have seen the benefits of one day a week, the whole thing. But, for me, I do it every day.
Tim Ferriss: So, what does your schedule look like?
Terry Crews: I eat from 2:00 to 10:00. And what’s wild is I have amino acid drinks, tea, water when I’m fasting. And then, my first meal is at 2:00. And sometimes, it goes beyond it because, sometimes, I’m not even hungry until like 3:30. And even today, I had just one meal. And I don’t feel bad at all. I learned to get by with less food. I feel more energetic. And, to be honest with you, I think more so than physically, it’s a spiritual thing.
I think, for me, everything that is within your grasp is not meant to be in your hand. Learning and teaching yourself to say no, and you tell you body what to do. You say no. Because what happens is your body will always lead you wrong. If you listen to it, you’re going to have a problem. There were years where I listened to it, and it got me in all kinds of trouble. And so, now, I’m like no, you’re going to do what I tell you to do. And you’re going to eat when I tell you to eat. And it really, really is an amazing thing. And there are lots of scientific ways to prove that it does well. But, for me, it’s a spiritual thing.
Tim Ferriss: What is your – I can’t help myself but ask a couple of follow up questions here. Do you have a default or go to first meal? A go to meal that is your first meal of the day?
Terry Crews: Oh, yeah, omelet and salad.
Tim Ferriss: What is in the omelet?
Terry Crews: It’s usually bacon, a little cheese –
Tim Ferriss: We got a lot of bacon supporters in the house.
Terry Crews: Bacon is a gift from God, man. God would not have his work made manifest without bacon. That’s Terry Crews. No, man. The healthy fats and the whole thing, but a little cheese, bacon in an omelet along with a great salad or some vegetables right there. And that’s my go to meal. I can eat that any – that’s the first thing I usually have any time when I break my fast. That’s it. And it’s light enough, and it doesn’t feel heavy. I’ve tried grabbing a big, bready sandwich before, and it’s just oh, my God. You go to sleep immediately. It’s so nuts. But that’s the kind of meal that I love.
Tim Ferriss: All right. Omelets for me tomorrow. Let’s see if I make it to 3:00. This question is very hyper specific. I’ll take a stab at this. It seems to be addressed to me. This is from Tia Carrera. Is she here? Amazing. Hi.
Terry Crews: Hey, Tia, I’m a fan. I’m a fan.
Tim Ferriss: All right. Thank you for coming. This is a really specific question. What are your thoughts on crypto currency, and could you maybe interview Mike Novogratz on your podcast? So, Mike Novogratz, well known investor, has recently made the statement that he has I think 5 or 10 percent of his net worth in crypto currency and block chain. Fascinating guy. I actually know Mike. I’ve gotten into some scuffles, not in a bad way, with Mike because we both have wrestling backgrounds. He’s a much better wrestler, and he supported the USA Wrestling Program. And we met, actually, in several places, but in Iowa when I first met Dan Gable who is a hero of mine, legendary coach who ended up in this book.
So, yes, I’d like to have Mike on. And he’s, actually, the brother, which I didn’t put together until Jacquelyn was already going to be in the book, but Jacquelyn Novogratz is also just an incredible, incredible woman. So, they have an amazing family. So, yes, I’d like to have him on the podcast. And I’m sure he’ll bust my balls half the time. He’s a very tough dude, which I invite. That’s perfect. My thoughts on crypto currency are there be dragons on the map. I would just say be very, very careful. I’m not a crypto currency expert. I do know a lot of experts.
And, even though I own a little bit of crypto currency, I’m very, very cautious to not take the DIY approach because there are a lot of bear traps. And I will say that I think most ICO’s are going to end up giving people nothing. I think many of them will be regulated out of existence. And the technology is very sophisticated.
And there are also very sophisticated technologists who can trick most people into giving up their money for something that will end up, poof, just being vapor ware. So, I think that crypto currency and block chain have the potential to be as important as what we consider the internet. And I’m really borrowing from some of my smarter friends in saying that. Having spent 17 years before moving to Texas, before moving there, 17 years in Silicon Valley, I really know some very, very smart people. And, actually, Vitalik, the creator of Ethereum, and Zuko, the creator of Zcash, and many of those folks, because I’m so interested in it, are all in Tribe of Mentors.
I wanted to kind of get them all in one place to see what patterns came out of it. I did that with poker players, too. When I tell you, you shouldn’t take all of my investing advice. But I would say much like picking stocks, you’re up against professionals. So, you wouldn’t bet on yourself if you were playing golf against Tiger Woods.
I would hope not, unless someone in the audience, it could happen here, is actually that caliber. Similarly, if you’re playing on Wall Street or playing in the world of crypto, you’re dealing with people who do this all day every day and know all of the nuances. So, I’d just say be very cautious. If you have an informational advantage, and you’re playing with chips you can afford to lose, then, I think it’s something that’s very interesting to explore just as a way of learning about the technology and the implications it might have. So, it’s endlessly fascinating and endlessly terrifying, I suppose, in short.
Was that a cough or an incredible laugh? I couldn’t tell. All right. So, here’s a question from John. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. When do you decide to mentor someone? What attributes do they manifest to become mentorable? And then, there’s a bonus old Buddhist proverb, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. How do you decide who to not necessarily mentor because it implies full time, unpaid extra job, but to help someone, to invest in really helping someone?
You’ve had, as I understand, some people who have really helped you along the way, whether the art teacher you mentioned, Sylvester Stallone, I believe is another. So, when you have the opportunity, how do you choose? You have limited time, limited energy. How do you choose who to invest in?
Terry Crews: Well, to me, it’s a little bit about – well, not a little bit. It’s a lot about desire. I’ve come – it’s wild because I’ve come across – I’ve had people who were in my circle who said they wanted things, and then, once they realized what it took, they were out. And so, now, anyone that I would be willing to mentor or whatever, I would send them on little tests.
I mean, really, it’s like you really have to really want what you’re going for. And my wife – because I made the mistake before of just making it too accessible. And, again, it’s kind of like people have to – you have to desire. You get what you want. But there’s a lot of people who are just trying it out. And you hear people who say they want it, and there’s so many things – like me, when I wanted something, I always would go out of my way to show that person who I wanted as a mentor that I’m willing to – I’ll show up early. I’m there. But I’ve had guys, men, and you’re like, okay, be here at this time, and it’s funny, I’m waiting on them. And immediately, it’s like it’s over. And everybody gets a shot.
From me, everybody gets a shot because you don’t know until you get that time. But you show up late a couple of times – I had one assistant who just forgot a whole bunch of stuff that I desperately needed. And you’re like this is just not important enough for you. And then, you have to let them go. And what’s so wild is that every time I let somebody go though, we have a conversation because I want to make sure that it wasn’t me. So, I’ll say you tell me – you’re fired, so, you don’t have to worry. There’s no hope for you getting your job back. So, tell me what I did wrong, and tell me what offended you. And I get really honest answers that way. And it has helped me become a better employer or a better mentor. But, also, there’s been other times when they were just like, dude, I messed up. I messed up. And I realized that I had an opportunity, and I pissed it away. And I’m like wow, well, you won’t do that again on your next job. I usually don’t go back. That’s another thing I always have to do. I even wrote that in the book about letting people go. And it’s part of the process.
Tim Ferriss: So, you mentioned letting people go not just in terms of employees but people in your circle, maybe people you grew up with. How do you break up with a friend? Or how do you have that conversation? Could you give us an example? You don’t have to name names, of course. But this is something a lot of people, myself included, struggle with. You realize this is someone who was a great apple, and they’ve turned into a bad apple. And they’re starting to poison the entire group, effectively, or have some negative impact. But you’ve known them for so long. How do you navigate that? Could you give us an example?
Terry Crews: First of all, we have a lot of talks as we go to say that, hey, man, we have to do this. We have to be held to this standard. I have an example. There was one person, I told him, he’s a single man, but I also said, hey, man, you have to understand that I’m a married man. And if I hear any drama about women in your circle, it’s going to be a no go for me because you have to treat every woman with respect. I don’t want any of that coming to me. And I said, you got to understand because, if it is, if it happens once, I’m gone. And he was like man, I would never – I understand. I know, man. I got your thing, man. I understand what you’re talking about, until it happened. And I went, dude, remember what I told you? You know what I have to do, right? And he just said, “Yeah, you’re right.” And I said, “Okay, sir. Amen. Love you. I love you like a brother. I wish it could have worked out.” And it was a very close friend. And I mean, super close. And I said, “Man, but I got to go on without you.” And it’s weird because Hollywood is one of those things that’s built on this kind of camaraderie, entourage or whatever. I don’t have that because, for one, I found that the entourage has you. They know all of your things, and they start telling you what you’re going to do. And it’s like what? And I said never me. I’d rather go alone.
And I’d rather walk alone. So, but it’s hard because, sometimes, you do feel lonely. You do feel like – but the higher up you go, the more is at stake, man. It’s good. Everybody can be down there, and you can be hanging, and everybody is good. But let me tell you, as soon as you get something, and soon as it becomes bigger than you, and it becomes more important than you, you got to let – some of these people have to go. They have to. And it’s not personal. I tell them, I love you, but we just can’t hang anymore. And I’ll be brutally honest but not mean. You don’t have to be mean. Some people feel like you’ve got to – but I’ve always – I love you, man, but we can’t hang.
Tim Ferriss: So, what do you do, if you’ve made that decision, and then, they reach out to you, or you feel the impulse to reach out to them because you’ve just known them, they’ve been a part of your pattern for so long? How do you respond, in either of those cases?
Terry Crews: I’ve blocked people, put a phone block on. I’ve changed my number. I do that a lot. And I’m talking family members. Family members who are like – man, I have people who call me up angry because they felt that I should be paying for this, and I should be doing that. And, all of a sudden, I just disappear. And you know what’s amazing? When the phone rings, you don’t have to answer it. That’s the trick. It’s a trick because you think oh, no, it’s them. I was like block. And all of a sudden, it was quiet. I was like wow, this is peaceful. And it got kind of scary because I was like is anybody calling? I blocked so many people, it was like, man, this phone ain’t working. But they get it after a while. But now, every relationship in my life must be voluntary. It must be voluntary.
If I had my wife tied up in the basement, is it love? No. I make all of my relationships in my life love based, meaning you want to be here. If you’re here, you want to be with me. If you’re my – even my managers, people in my circle, you are free to go, at any time, even my wife. If my wife was like I’m done, I would be like oh, no, don’t leave, please. If she would say, I got to go, I would be like dang. I would be hurt, but I couldn’t hold her because it has to be voluntary. But that works the same way for me, too. If I want to go, you got to let me go. If I say I got to go, you got to say okay. I’ll respect that. I understand. And, this way, all of your relationships are really good ones because everybody wants to be there. And it’s a beautiful thing.
Tim Ferriss: Thank you. We’ll take a few more. I know we’re running over time. Everybody cool? I’m having fun. Are you guys having fun? All right. I didn’t ask Terry. Terry, are you okay?
Terry Crews: I’m having fun.
Tim Ferriss: I felt those traps, I don’t want those inflicted on me. All right. A few more questions. What advice do you have for an introvert who wants to be an entrepreneur but does not like socializing? This is from Rosa? I’d love to hear your take on this. I’ll give my quick piece because I definitely view you as an entrepreneur first and foremost. I shouldn’t say first and foremost. But see, entrepreneurs – let me just not rant, but I’m going to get my words out for a second. Entrepreneur, if you look at the root of the word, is from, and I’ll just use the Spanish because it’s easier, [Spanish], to undertake. It’s someone who is effectively creating something from nothing. So, an artist is doing that. There are many different forms of being an entrepreneur.
And you do not have to be extroverted. And all you have to do to realize that is to watch, for example, early interviews with any people you view as tech luminaries now. It’s the most awkward footage you will ever see in your life. And then, they get media trained, and they’ll sit there like, and you’re like oh, my God, it’s the clown from It. That’s really creepy. That is what you think normal humans do. Okay. So, you don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not. You can be shy.
You can be introverted. I do think that it is very valuable, perhaps, as an experiment to do what say Warren Buffet did who was very introverted, at one point. And he trained himself in public speaking by going to toast masters and so on. I do think that’s useful as an experiment to not just assume that you are, in some way, cursed by being introverted. You may, in fact, have the capacity to do other things. But to be a successful entrepreneur, on almost every level, you do not have to be an expert at networking. You do not have to be an expert at socializing. You just don’t need it. So, you can definitely do you and still succeed. I don’t know if you’ve –
Terry Crews: That is really amazing advice. I think that people have confused boldness with being an extravert. But I’ve seen very amazingly bold introverts who they just know who they are and what they want. And you don’t have to be loud. You don’t have to be brash. And it’s really, really a cool thing when you see – it’s funny. When you see a little, old lady who runs this gigantic business, and she’s got her thing together, she’s just walking there with a quiet voice and everybody shakes because they know she means business. And that’s that kind of boldness that it doesn’t take a lot. She just knows who she is, and she knows what she wants. And man, that’s all you need. I’m with you.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. If you’re good at what you do, and so good, and I’m totally stealing this from other people, but if you’re so good that people cannot ignore you, you will not be denied.
Terry Crews: That’s right.
Tim Ferriss: Look at some of the people out there in the world. They are weird as fucking all hell. And yet, if they’re good, it’s like what are we going to do. It’s the best person out there.
Terry Crews: I know.
Tim Ferriss: So, embrace your weird self, as my friend Chris Sacca would say. So, we’re going to do the last question from the audience, and then, I have one closing question for you. What are your recommendations for coping with self induced anxiety. So, I’ll just give a few thoughts real quickly. In some families, you have baseball families. Everyone is good at baseball. Other families, everyone is really good at basketball. I feel like my family, not everybody, but 80 or 90 percent professional warriors. This is just their specialty. So, I’ve developed a whole repertoire of different ways to induce anxiety in myself. It has proven not to be very fruitful, I will say, in retrospect. But a few quick recommendations. One is there’s a book, and there are a lot of books like this that have terrible titles and actual good content. Some that sound like infomercials maybe that come to mind. But the one I’m thinking of is how to stop worrying and start living by Dale Carnegie. And this book is surprisingly sophisticated. It offers an entire toolkit for exactly this. It’s very, very powerful.
And then, I would say, just for my piece, is some form of the exercise that I call fear setting, which is completely borrowed from 2,000 plus year old philosophy called stoicism. And [inaudible] and others who have done this practice. But if you guys simply search the word fear setting, that is something I do probably every month, certainly, every quarter for diffusing the anxiety. And those are my two pieces of advice. Actually, the new one, which is in the last year, is something I added to what I normally do in the morning, which is journaling.
And that is, if I’m feeling extremely anxious or overwhelmed, and they’re very closely related, I will ask myself what might this look like if it were easy? And this could be a project, it could be a decision, it could be a contract, it could be a relationship, it could be breaking up, asking someone out, it doesn’t matter.
And simply asking that question and writing long hand does a lot to take the nebulous monsters in my head and to trap them on paper and to see that they’re actually just shadows. I’m terrified by nothing, in effect. So, those are a few thoughts. But anxiety, do you have recommendations for people for coping with anxiety?
Terry Crews: I believe, I can’t be certain on this, but there’s a quote in that Dale Carnegie book about living life in day type compartments.
Tim Ferriss: Man, you do know your self help books.
Terry Crews: Oh, I tell you. I know. Let me tell you, man. That right there, I take those nuggets, and I go –
Tim Ferriss: That is a fine book. It is a good book.
Terry Crews: Again, we have the same issues. It’s all wonderful. Again, those bubbles, that anxiety, that whole thing. And when you’re just living – they’re like just get today done. Today. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t worry about yesterday. Just today. And man, it feels like all the shackles, you start to feel peaceful. And it’s a beautiful thing. But that’s such a great book, man. It’s so right.
Tim Ferriss: That’s one of the books that I have in my living room on the book shelf cover out, which isn’t a great way to put books on a book shelf but because I want to see the covers of certain books so that I’m reminded of them. And if I’m feeling like I’m going into a tailspin or beginning to get lost in some way, I know that I can pull that off and go through the highlights. It’s a fantastic, fantastic book. Last question, which I think I said 75 questions ago. Terry, what would you like to say or ask as just parting words? It could be an ask of everybody who is here, who might be listening on the podcast. It could be a suggestion. Anything at all that you want to ask of people or simply say.
Terry Crews: I guess, the big ask that I have for everyone is that, and this is one quote that really, really gave me a big, big perspective is that people are not objects to be used. They are people to be loved. And my big ask is that you see everyone as people to be loved because – and one thing I see now, in America, especially with the parties and everybody is Democratic or Republican or this or that or black or white, but we’re people to be loved.
And that sounds very cliché or whatever. But when you get down to the heart of it, when you look at another person, see them as a child, we’re all like kids. And that, all of a sudden, you can see it much more differently because you can instantly love a child. You can feel the love for a child. A child doesn’t know. A child is figuring it all out. And the truth is we don’t know. And we’re all figuring it out. Please, please, please, before you call somebody an asshole on the internet, or before you push send on that tweet that’s going to tell everybody off, just know that this is a person that needs to be loved.
And there are a lot of people who are getting off on what you don’t know. And they want to treat you like an object and treat you like property and treat you like things that are bought and sold or whatever. But, man, I just ask that, if you ever get into that, stop and think of them as people to be loved.
Tim Ferriss: Ladies and gentlemen, Terry Crews. Thank you all for coming. Thank you very much. Love you guys. Thank you for coming.
Posted on: February 4, 2018.
Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.
Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.