Please enjoy this transcript of my interview when I visited the Googleplex, the Mountain View-based headquarters of Google. Transcripts may 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. This is Tim Ferriss and welcome to another episode of the Time Ferriss show where it is typically my job to interview and deconstruct a world-class performer. Whether they are from the worlds of say athletics, business, politics, military – they could be from just about anywhere because there are patterns in the greatness and there are recipes, tactics, tools, that you can use. This episode is a little different.
I visited the Googleplex that is the Mountain View based headquarters of Google and had a chat – had a public chat and I was interviewed myself. And I made sure by selection of the questions – I knew at least the first five to six or so that we would cover some ground that has not been covered before.
So, there were questions such as, what has been the most important stoic teaching that I’ve come across? How can we stay humble? How do I manage the many, many requests that I receive in the inbound that I receive? What are the success factors or elements that have led to the success of the Tim Ferriss Show, this podcast? And the patterns that I’ve spotted.
Where do I see myself in five years? If I could pick anyone alive or dead to be on my personal board of directors, who would they be? Three people let us just say. How do I experiment with my dog training? These are things that many of you have asked me about and I haven’t had a chance to cover before.
We get into human longevity, insomnia, etc. So, I hope you enjoy this. It is a change of pace. It is shorter than the usual. And as always, thank you so much for listening.
Jordan Thibodaux: Welcome everyone. I would like to introduce you to Tim Ferriss, author of the Four Hour Workweek, Body, and Chef, host of the Tim Ferriss Show, the number one rated business podcast in iTunes, and a serial investor. I’m your host Jordan Thibodaux. So, without further ado, let us give Tim a nice welcome.
So, Tim, what has been one of the most important stoic teachings?
Tim Ferriss: So, stoic philosophy is in essence the operating system that I use for making better decisions or try to use.
It’s a very old – 2,000 plus years old in various iterations and I would say that you can start many places, whether it is Marcus Aurelius Meditations or the Moral Letters to Lucilius, the letters of Seneca. Cato is really interesting to me and one of the lessons that I try to implement in my life comes from Cato. Cato was considered by many the perfect stoic. I am sure he was not perfect, as none of us are, but he would regularly, for instance where mismatched clothing in high profile arenas where that was frowned upon so he could train himself to be ashamed only of the things worth being ashamed of.
So, he would practice doing things that would earn him the scorn – superficial scorn of others and the form that can take is – can be very, very simple and you can do it in very small ways. But, I have what I would call for instance – and this is a ridiculous example, but that is the whole point. I have my party pants, which are these ridiculous pants that look straight out of Austin Powers.
And I will occasionally wear those, not to the extent that I would offend some guest host – dinner host. I do not want to make enemies. That is not the goal, but I will wear it in a place where I know that I am going to get these sideways glances from everyone to try to inoculate myself against that type of superficial attachment to what others think.
For a while recently I was wearing what I could best describe as like a creepy porn ‘stache. It was a very ill advised half growth mustache that looked terrible. It really did look – it was like Chester the Molester. It was terrible. And I wore that around for like a good week and a half and every time I would put up a photograph on Instagram or whatever it was, they would be like please for God’s sake, take that thing off your face. And it was just an exercise. It was yet another exercise and there are many different ways to do it. But, I think that would be one that comes to mind is regularly practicing things that you feel embarrassed by, but should not.
That have not grander importunate whatsoever, so that when you train yourself to not be embarrassed by the small things, then when it comes time to make decisions, stand up for something larger, you will have the training that you need. And this is not necessarily stoic, but I think it’s Archilochus – I’m not brushed up on my ancient pronunciation, but the – this is a military context, but it was we do not rise to the level of our hopes, we fall to the level of our training.
So, what I like about stoicism is that if offers practical ways of practicing this. The second would be practicing your worst case scenario. This is very similar. So, say on a larger meta example – Seneca, I think it is on fasting and festivals or on festivals and fasting. I think it is letter 13 actually in the Moral Letters to Lucilius, which I re read all the time. Clearly, you can tell.
And to set aside a certain number of days, say each month which I do, during which you will be satisfied with the cheapest and scantest of fair or the roughest of clothing, etc. Asking yourself all the while, is this the condition that I so fear?
So, practicing poverty, which would then empower you to make decisions because you know the worst case scenario is not that bad and for that reason, among other reasons we can get into, I do one three day fast every month. I do one seven to ten day fast every one to two quarters and there are other things that I do on top of that, but those are a few that come to mind.
Jordan Thibodaux: Excellent, your podcast you have talked about the monkey brain. Can you explain what that is?
Tim Ferriss: The monkey brain or monkey mind is I think inside all of us in some capacity. It is this incessant internal dialog or maybe not even a dialog. Maybe it is just some stern or irritating roommate that you have in your head and we can all think back to say, elementary school.
I remember there was this kid in my class always misbehaving and I remember at one point he got up – it was like third grade, and the teacher suddenly froze and we turned around and he had a fork over his head and he said, “I am the master of the universe.” And he stabbed an electrical outlet and just got like blown backwards. And then there was this kid who would walk over and he would always – he would build a building out of construction blocks and then inevitably it will fall over when it got too tall.
Then he would just lay down and cry. And I think as we get older, we learn to not do those things because you would be put in a strait jacket, but as a result they are internalized. So, all day we are walking around with some version or combination of all of those things. And the context in which I probably brought it up, the monkey mind, was as it relates to my morning journaling. So, I do regularly journal. Sometimes I do what would be considered morning pages. Other times I use something called the Five Minute Journal, which we could talk about.
But, the goal is not to write per say. I am not doing it for someone else. I am simply capturing my monkey mind, its litany of complaints or insecurities on paper so that it is not caught on repeat for the rest of the day. I am simply giving it a two dimensional prison or play pen so that I can then move on with my day. And hit mute at least for a brief period of time on those things.
But, it is – I think that if you want to be less reactive – to be the author of your own life or business, career, whatever it might be, you have to be able to do deep work and be able to think long term and rationally. And for all of those things, you need to get very good at identifying where you are being overly reactive to thoughts, to external factors outside of your control, whatever it might be.
Jordan Thibodaux: That ties back to the Five Minute Journal.
Tim Ferriss: It does. The Five Minute Journal is a journal that is created a reader of the Four Hour Workweek actually. For those who have read the book, it was their muse. So, one of their cash flow focused businesses in the context of lifestyle design. But, you take two and a half minutes or so in the morning and then again at night. And so one is effectively a focusing and planning exercise. There is also a gratitude component, which I think is very critical for those of us who are driven, type A, achievers. It is very easy to constantly be focused on the future and just to pause for a second.
I heard someone say that depression is an obsession with the past and anxiety is an obsession of the future. Well, if you look at achievers, they tend to be very future focused and as soon as they hit a goal, they do not have time to celebrate the small one. This is not good enough. Bigger, bigger, better, etc. and that is a pattern that can be very self-destructive even if you rack up a lot of wins at the same time.
So, the gratitude component is extremely critical. That takes about two and half minutes each day and it also helps to identify your focal points or your priorities so that when, inevitably, that 10 percent that is left of the monkey mind pops up to like dance in front of you and distract you from your objectives you set out for the day, you can return to that.
And then, at the end of the day it is basically a performance review and I find it incredibly helpful and a lot of our ROI for the time invested.
Jordan Thibodaux: Excellent, so it seems like it gives you a degree of mental clarity.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, it does and I think that what separates – when I think about my podcast, I have interviewed 100 to 150 world class performers across every possible domain imaginable, sports, entertainment, politics, art, chess. It just goes on and on. That the difference between somebody who is good – like let us just call it the top quartile of the population in their chosen field and the top 1 percent, it is the degree to which they can focus to determine their goals and maintain that focus. It is one of the largest distinguishing factors.
Jordan Thibodaux: Excellent. Now, with people who have achieved such success in their careers or in athletics or whatever. What people do to maintain their humbleness?
Tim Ferriss: Humility, I think is not too tough to maintain if you create the proper environments and I am not a huge fan of self-control or will power. I think it is really overrated. It is like, oh well fat people are fat because they just lack the will power. It is like, no that is a stupid lazy answer or just a shite observation. If you look at behavior modifications, there is a lack of incentives. They have lack of social accountability. Maybe they do not have the information that they need and you can create environments which you can train and I come back to this over and over and over again.
But, there are a few things that I think are very helpful. 1.) Is Memento mori, so remembering that you are going to die and putting that – it is also very stoic. I am somewhat obsessed about death even to a degree that I found weird. But, Memento mori, so constantly revisiting death and realizing – it forces you to put your life in a broader context of civilization and the world and I think in and of itself, is very corrective. And how do you practice or develop that sense of Memento mori? I have a quote on my refrigerator that is from Marcus Aurelius and – meditations by the way, is effectively a ware journal. While Marcus Aurelius, who is the most powerful man on the planet at the time, Emperor of Rome, was on military campaign and he would write these entries to do exactly this, to remind himself that he was just a man.
He was going to die. It would all be dust. And it sounds depressing until you realize the clarity and lack of waste that comes from constantly repeating those types of things.
Then you have Memento homo – probably getting the pronunciation off, but that is remembering you are just a man or a person. So, we do not have – those in this room probably are not going to commission like Julius Cesar, someone to hold a laurel wreath over your head while you are doing a procession like the Roman triumph to say you are just a man, you are just a man, you are not a God. But, the way that you can very easily humble yourself is to always try to be the weakest person in the room in something. Like every day, you should be the weakest person in the room at some point. Whether that is in a meeting, or whether that is in a sport, whether that is in a gym, whether that is in a chess match, it does not matter, but I always try to be the weakest person in the room.
And I remember when I was 15. I had my first time overseas for an extended period of time. I was in Japan for a year and I ended up being a Judo player. I was competing in Judo and the high school that I went to was not particularly strong in Judo, but I was the big fish in a little pond and I was – I got very high in my – I thought I was just the cat’s meow. And I was not too overt about it, but I was very sort of satisfied with how well I was doing.
I went to my first tournament and I got demolished in seven seconds by this guy who weights 40 pounds less than I did. Like [Speaking Japanese] that was it. I was done and I got up. I am like, “I am fine.” They are like, “No, you are the loser. You are done. You are done.” And I was so demoralized and I was the only white guy in the tournament and it was kind of – so, there were a lot of people just hoping that they would be able to kind of like wag a finger and laugh. I love Japan, but like I get it. Very homogenous place. So, I ended up going, after that, to a cram school for Judo, like a Joko and they have it for all sorts of things at night and I went to Tokai University – Judo cram school.
So, Tokai University produces gold medalists in the Olympics. They are really, really tough. So, I went ahead and I was 15 at the time and I got just annihilated by 12-year-old. Talk about embarrassing. If you can try to flash back to high school and you’re like [mumbling]. You are a sophomore in high school getting killed by like sixth graders, seventh graders. So embarrassing, including women. I was getting torn to pieces.
And I got trashed for three or four months and I was like, wow. I do not feel like I am making a lot of progress. My endurance is getting a little bit better. And went to a tournament that had the same competitors as previous tournament and just walked through everybody. Just steamrolled because I had a better cohort group. I was the weakest in the room. As long as you are trending in the right direction, it does not matter if you are losing. So, that would be one approach. Just like every day, schedule it. Plan it. Be the weakest person in the room in some capacity.
Jordan Thibodaux: Nice, so bring it to communication. You have multiple people trying to reach out to you and contact you. How do you manage all of those requests?
Tim Ferriss: I suppose the short answer is I do not manage all of those requests. The irony of the Four Hour Workweek among many others, is that my systems have to be 100 times better now than they were when the book came out because if you look at my assistants and the various inbound channels that we have or try to avoid, but non the less have, it is 1,500 to 2,000 direct messages of some type every day that hit me and my team. That is excluding all of the tweets, Facebook mentions, Google Plus, etc. So, ignoring all of that. So, the way that I try to think about handling that is having rules set in advance.
So, for instance, if we were to take a corporate or startup analogy. You do not want to decide how to respond to a crisis when a crisis hits. If you think you are going to have a disaster, you want to role play it and say, alright if A, then B, C, or D? If X, then Y or Z? And have a plan in place so that – and this all ties back together. If disaster strikes, you are not reactive. You do not make a compulsive – or not compulsive, impulsive decisions that could destroy a lot of what you have worked to achieve, including your reputation.
So, with email I have very particular rules and I will block out periods of time. For instance, I am going to take July – and I did this about two years ago in Bali. There is actually a good piece in Ink magazine called Four Hour Reality Check that is not a bad ready about this.
But, I am blocking July to focus on writing and deep work in that capacity. So, I have to set up systems and rules in advance so that I do not have to be on email or calendar or phone, which is what I did for a month in Indonesia. I am going to do it this time overseas.
And the – so, the important thing is deciding on your policies and I have realized for myself that I do moderation very poorly. Whether it is caffeine, booze. Like I am on, I am on and if I am off, I am off. So, that is why I decided to take startup vacation, effectively retirement, as of about nine months ago. I realized for – this is just one example. I was drowning in email intros to founders, and cold emails, and pitches, and this, that, and the other thing. Whether I do 100 deals a year, 10 deals a year, one deal a year, if I have to filter and look at all the inbound to make decisions, it is almost the exact same amount of work.
Does that make sense? So, trying to pair back in moderation is – it is a fool’s errand. You just end up doing the same amount of work. So, I will decide, am I doing speaking engagements or not? Period. Am I doing interviews or not? Period. Am I writing for any other sites whatsoever? Because I hit by people who want me to write for this, and this new startup. To write for such and such established media that is trying to branch into whatever. No. Like the answer to that is absolutely not because I am focusing on my own writing. And the Five Minute Journal, all these things, help to allow you to practice that focus.
And then there are tools, right? So, there is a very small subset, let us just call it one to two percent, that get me closer to sort of the mountain that I see in the distance which represents the goals I have already set for myself. And I will have metrics, I will have KPI’s, key performance indicators, for these things like podcast growth.
Great commencement speech by Neil Gaiman everybody should check out called Make Good Art. It is fantastic. But, he talks a lot about this. And then the questions are what are the tools or policies, tactics that help with managing that subset that I am going to tackle? I used tools like Schedule Once for scheduling. It allows other people to find times and to avoid the back and forth. If you want to see something that will painfully humorous, you can check out – I think it is Let’s Get Drinks in I believe the New Yorker. Somebody could look that it. You will be like, that is my life.
I remember there was a tweet that I saw recently that was adulthood – I am paraphrasing. Adulthood is saying sorry for the late reply until one of you dies. It is like – that is a sad state of affairs. So, I use Schedule Once. I will use a tool called Boomerang, which allows me to not just automate follow up reminders if I do not hear back from someone, but to set parameters and secondly, this is very underused, there is a feature to send in the future.
So, the way you train someone, just like training a dog or a manatee or anything else, is the same stuff. There is a great book called Don’t Shoot the Dog which you should all read about for training humans also. Is you can extend the time between which you respond to certain types of people and it just teaches them you are not on IM. Email is not messenger for you. So, sending the future is very helpful.
Processing email – I use Gmail offline a lot. So, I will process email, batch process email, offline so that I do not have the psychological trauma of feeling like I am doing whack a mole. Where is end off two emails and I get five back and I am just like, I cannot. I am drowning. I cannot do this. I should watch Game of Thrones or whatever you use to procrastinate. To avoid that, batch processing offline hugely valuable.
There are other things that I do. I’ll give one more, which is if you send an email, try to think of if/then scenarios.
So, engineers on their own will probably do this naturally just thinking in terms of scripts or algorithms. But, if you send an email. You are like, “Hey, can you meet up next week?” And that is the end of the email. That is a bad email. So, “Can you meet up next week? I suggest this time or this time. This is my first choice. If you cannot do those times, please suggest two or three times in this timeframe that work for you. Let set it for 30 minutes.” Right? Like being really specific. It takes an extra 30 seconds on the front end and it will save you 20 exchanges on the back end.
So, just always thinking is there an if/then line that I should put in this email before you hit send? It saves a lot of time. But, I try to move as much as possible off of email to things like Slack, Dropbox, etc. whenever possible. It is designed for emergency military communication, not for what we use if or currently.
Jordan Thibodaux: So, most of us here in this audience have listened to your podcast and it has been wildly successful. What do you think drives the success of the podcast?
Tim Ferriss: I think the podcast is successful because I knew I had a guaranteed audience of one and that means, I was scratching my own itch. In the case of – whenever I try to design something for a market, it fails. Whenever I just do something that I could not find for myself, then it does fine. It seems to be the trend. So, I am scratching my own itch and what I was missing was the long form fly on the wall conversation, but also the tactics and the really detailed nitty, gritty how to stuff.
And all the books came about this way. I was looking for something, looking for something, looking for something and I was just like fuck. I will just write it myself. This is too annoying because I would gather all these resources. I would be like, okay I will at least compile this.
And in the case of the podcast, I wanted to try to spot the patterns in all these experts and I was already doing this type of prep work for the books by [inaudible] these people out and it happened – it just so happens that I would have these dinners or drink with folks who are the best at what they do and I would think afterwards, usually two or three glasses of wine in, man this is so good. Like I wish I could just share this. Why do I not just record this? And then –
If any of you heard the first episode, so sloppy with Kevin Rose because I was so nervous. Even though he was a close friend, still is a close friend, and he was just like busting my balls the whole time because that is what close guy friends do to each other. And so I just was drinking way too much and I remember what – recorded the first podcast. Committed to doing six. This is important. I can mention why.
But, I was skipping through the audio just checking on the quality and it was like two hours long, two and half hours long, and about an hour in I was anxious for whatever reason and I was like, well Kevin you know I want to be respectful of your time, da, da, da. And then I was like, whatever click forward an hour and the same exact phrase came up. And it was like Kevin, I want to be respectful of your time. I was like, oh my God. This is terrible. And I had this like lip smacking tick and like all of this stuff. The shame. The shame.
And I committed to six because if you only do one, you are going to quit or most people will. So, you commit to six and the question I asked myself – because the success – you asked what makes it successful. There are actually a bunch of questions baked into that. There is what makes the product something that could be successful? There is what makes it something that spreads? But, there is also why it survived? Which is maybe the better question.
If I had tried to do something fancier, like fill in the blank. Something that is produced really well, like Freakonmics Radio. I do not have the experience or the resources.
I would have become overwhelmed and I would have quit. So, rule number one is if you want something to be successful, you cannot quit after two episodes. You actually have to get to a point where your learning curve hockey sticks and I believe for my format, for podcasts in general, that is at least six episodes.
So, the questions I think that have allowed it to succeed for me and for me to feel successful doing it because I enjoy it, is 1.) How do I keep this fun? 2.) What would it look like if it were simple? Like, I ask myself that question more and more all the time now. What would this look like if it were dead simple? Stupid simple. Okay, Ferriss, I know you like feature creep. I know you like writing 700 page books, but like let us hold back on that for a second. What would this look like if it were easy? Try that first. So, I think those are a few things.
But, it’s very, very, very tactic rich. Routines, habits, what is the book that you’ve gifted the most to other people? What is the first 60 minutes of your day look like, specifically? Exact times. How do you make your coffee? You have coffee? How do you make your coffee? What brand do you like? Why? And just I try to harness that OCD in a way that is helpful instead of making my relationships implode, something like that.
So, I think that’s been it. But, scratching your own itch. If you have a guaranteed market of one, i.e. yourself, you are ahead of 99 percent of the entrepreneurs out there.
Jordan Thibodaux: Now, you have done almost like – what 100 plus podcasts now?
Tim Ferriss: Probably 150 episodes.
Jordan Thibodaux: Okay, so now you have a wide enough sample to see – of these successful people, are you seeing commonalities as leading to their success of their careers?
Tim Ferriss: I think there are a few things that come to mind right away. The first is – now, this could be a selection bias. Maybe I am choosing people who are more prone to have certain things in common than others or I am attracted to people in a way that biases this.
But, at least 80 percent of the people that I have interviewed across all domains have a daily mediation practice of some time. Certainly if you want to cut down on monkey mind, the first step is to just be aware of it and just observe it like a really shitting comedy in your head.
What is my brain doing? This does not make any sense? And 20 minutes in the morning is a great way to do that. I am not particularly in favor of one versus another. I found TM, transcendental meditation, to be very helpful because it is presented in a very secular way and I find the white noise of a mantra – the word mantra bugs me so much, but a word that you repeat over and over again to be very helpful. But, [inaudible] there’s a good book called Waking Up by Sam Harris. Same Harris has a PhD in Neuroscience. He’s been on the podcast and talked about this. Tara Brach, also fantastic. 80 plus percent have some type of meditation practice. Even if they do not call it meditation.
So, I have for instance interviewed Amelia Boone, incredible endurance athlete. The most successful female endurance athlete in obstacle course racing the world. But, also in like 2012 at the World’s Toughest Mudder – I think it was about 1,200 competitors, probably 90 percent male. She came in second place out of everybody. That is a 24-hour race. She is super tough.
And she said, “Well, I do not really have a meditation practice.” I was like, “What do you do when you’re running?” She is like, “I either listen to one track over and over again or I sing one track to myself over and over again.” I was like, “Well, that sounds a whole hell of a lot like meditation to me.”
And then like Arnold Schwarzenegger for instance. This was a really cool example. He did – he does everything 100 percent Arnold. Like when he goes, he really goes and he did – I think it was transcendental meditation for a year and then he felt like he hit a certain plateau in the benefits and he stopped.
But, he said that the benefits persisted for decades. Very, very cool idea. The prospect of that is very exciting. So, meditation would be on. 2.) Of the males and we could theorize this as to why this is the case, but of the males a high percentage of the interviewees over the age of 50 skip breakfast. Very high percentage. Wim Hoff, General Stanley McChrystal, tick, tick, tick, there is a long list, Pavel Tsatsouline. The Russian who effectively brought kettlebells to the US.
I remember I asked him – my usual sound check question is, what did you have for breakfast? And he was like, “Breakfast? Coffee.” I was like, “We need more of a sound check.” He’s like, “Dude, I like to keep it simple.” I was like, “Ah, alright, alright.” Pavel is awesome. One of my favorite episodes.
Let us see. I find, just as interesting as the patterns, I find the differences reassuring because, of course, I think we are pattern recognition machines. So, looking for like the secrets. It is like, okay [inaudible]. Give me the – what do 80 percent of these people have in common so I can just like do that. That is my recipe and then I will like have everything I want. Great. Do everything that I want. Be happy. That would be fantastic.
But, what I have realized over time is that what appears to be the case – because you have – at first I was interviewing all these people and they are like I wake up at 4:30 A.M. like Jacki Willink, the most decorated special operations commander from the Iraq war. He was like wake up at 4:30 A.M. and I had a string of about ten of these interviews where they are all like, I wake up at 4:30 A.M., I wake up at 5:00 A.M. I was like, oh God. I do not want to wake up at 4:30 A.M. For me, like I am waking up at the ass crack of dawn is like 8:30 A.M. Like that is a major effort for me because I go to bed so late.
And I have historically done all of my best writing between like 11:00 P.M. and like 4:00 or 5:00 A.M. And then I had a few folks who are very late night. I was like, oh thank God. Okay, phew that was close. And what I realized is – and there is a quote. I am going to massacre it, but I am going to paraphrase here. That I think is WH Auden – A – U – D – E – N. I might be getting the last name wrong, but routine in an intelligent man is a sign of ambition.
And I think that what is important is not having a specific routine. It is having a routine. That is it. You have a routine that allows you to preserve your decision making and your creativity hit points – sorry Dungeons and Dragons – for the things that actually matter so that you are not waking up and every morning deciding what to have for breakfast. You are not waking up every morning and maybe deciding what to wear. Steve Jobs, etc. I have quite a few friends who wear the same thing, effectively, every day.
So, in what ways can you preserve your decision making budget, your creativity budget, for the things that you are uniquely good at and that really matter? And the answer seems to be, you have a lot of routines and you can have your own routines. But, what is important is that you have a routine or routines that you stick to for periods of time. That seems to be – and there are many, many, many, many different routines, but those would be a few.
A lot of them, the majority of them, are insomniacs. So, take heart, just because you are an insomniac does not make you successful. But, seems to be a symptom or a common side effect of a lot of their behavior. And then, scratching their own itch. Almost all of them scratch their own itch and – this is actually super important. I think there is a lot of rah, rah like motivational speaker business advice out there is utter horse shit and I think of the biggest delusions, elusions, or just hoaxes are like optimism, think big, the passion is going to drive you.
Like that is how people are really successful, are successful. That might be the story that you read about in the magazines because it makes for a fun hero’s journey type of story, but the people that I have been most impressed by ask themselves all the time, what is the worst case scenario? Budgeting for the downside.
So, in other words, they are not using optimism to allow them to take action. They are not just like, you know what I am going to jump off the cliff and throw wings on the way down or whatever the cliché is that you might find on like a calendar in Office Space. No, they are saying the way that I do things that other people think are high risk or other people think are risky, dangerous, whatever it might be, is because I write down the worst case scenarios. Ask myself what can I do to mitigate these things from happening and then I ask myself if they happen what can I do to get back to where I am now? And I realize these like risky things are not risky at all.
They are totally reversible. They are just speed bumps if anything goes wrong really in the grand scheme of things and so they get a lot of at bats. They are really good at capping the downside. Branson has said this. As much as he has a lot of rah, rah stuff. Like you drill that into it, it is like he is really good at deciding what is the most I can lose if I do X? What is the most time that I could lose if we do Y? And then making decisions based on that sort of loss limit if that makes sense.
So, that is very heartening because I have never been – I would like to say I am a follow my passion kind of guy. I get excited about things. I want to scratch my own itch. But, I think that the real toolkit is getting really good at asking, is this the condition that I so feared? What if – and once you sort of neuter the worst case scenarios and depower them. You are like, oh yeah. This is fine. This is totally fun.
It is not any riskier than like investing in watching a new TV series on Netflix. Like maybe get three episodes in and you are like, damn it I cannot believe I watched three hours of this crap. Choose another series. It is not the end of the world.
Jordan Thibodaux: Right, that’s true.
Tim Ferriss: Narcos. Watch Narcos.
Jordan Thibodaux: Very good.
Tim Ferriss: So good.
Jordan Thibodaux: Can’t wait for season two.
Tim Ferriss: So good. That was such a head fake at the end. But, I am kind of happy. Sorry, I digress. Billions, also good. But, I digress again.
Jordan Thibodaux: Yeah, no I saw Narcos. I did not – actually some of the things that happened – I am like, did this really happen?
Tim Ferriss: Spent a good amount of time in Columbia and [speaking foreign language] on a round that was the called the Road of Death because Pablo Escobar’s henchman used to drop dead bodies down ravines on either side and they would just be piled with bodies. So, yeah tough history.
Jordan Thibodaux: That’s really hard to transition.
Tim Ferriss: So, next time you are stuck on 101 in traffic and you are like cruising the gods. Be like, at least the sides of the roads are not littered with bodies. Could be a lot worse.
Jordan Thibodaux: Yep.
Tim Ferriss: Could be a lot worse.
Jordan Thibodaux: So, period. Break, alright.
Tim Ferris: Period. Semicolon.
Jordan Thibodaux: Next transition.
Tim Ferriss: Do not use semicolons.
Jordan Thibodaux: I have seen many careers ended on this.
Tim Ferriss: Or em dashes. I love em dashes. So lazy.
Jordan Thibodaux: Now, are there plans to maybe write a book about these podcasts and the experience you have had?
Tim Ferriss: I have been toying with it. I put some feelers out on social media to see if people would be interested because usually when I end up doing something it is when it is less painful to do it than to not do it. So, the insomnia for me – I have actually become much better at getting to sleep – much better at falling asleep, but usually when I end up pulling a trigger on something it is when it keeps me up for like four or five nights straight and just like the ideas are coming. I am like, God stop. Make it stop. I want to go to sleep.
But, it is like that excitement good stuff, which is how the Four Hour Workweek happened. It was like waking up and writing down stuff and you are like, let me go to sleep. Get out of my head. I have to sleep. And so for the last week or two the idea of sort of distilling the patterns and learnings and the stuff that was like not in the podcasts also. Like the experiments that I have done afterwards or in between or other interactions I have had with these guys. There are a lot of just really actionable awesome habits and tools that I have actually tested.
So, well – let me take a poll. How many people here have listened to the podcast? Alright, of those people, how many would be interested in like a distilled synopsis of the best lessons learned in the podcast. Alright, so it is like a 60, 70 percent. Yeah, I think there is a decent chance. I just think it would – and I will tell you why also. It is not the reason you might expect.
What I suffer from most – what pains me the most about the podcast is the like embarrassment of riches that comes out of a two and half hour conversation because I do – I have one of these coming out in a week. I do not have time to actually digest and reflect on all the stuff that I am putting out. I do as much as I can, but I just do not have the bandwidth and now I have done 150. I am like – and part of me is like, I do not need to interview anybody else. This is enough. I want to do it because I enjoy it, but if you cannot figure out how to improve any aspect of your life from these 150 people across like 100 different disciplines, you are an idiot.
Tim Ferriss talking to myself – so, go back and review – review idiot. You have done tests before. Life is the test. Start studying or you are going to like have a panic attack. So, this would give – if I were to go back and try to distill all of this stuff, it would give me the incentive and opportunity to do exactly that.
To go back and actually pull out all these things. Like, oh my God. That is right. The most successful people in the business sand investing realm recommended Sapiens. This book on evolutionary biology essentially. It is like that is weird. Oh, yeah. I forgot about that. Maybe I should read Sapiens. Fill in the blank. There is so many examples like that.
Jordan Thibodaux: So, should be done by July, right?
Tim Ferriss: Alas, I am fast at many things. Book writing is not one of them. But, it would not be – it certainly would not take as long as some of the like soul crushing projects that I have allowed myself to expand. From like the Four Hour Chef was supposed to be 250 pages. I ended up with 670 after 250 pages were cut. It is like what was I thinking? Like, oh yes, I will do 30 percent of the photographs myself. How hard could that be? Oh yes, turns out – photography, really tough to do well. So, I am trying to learn from my mistakes.
Jordan Thibodaux: So, I have two more questions before we go back to the audience.
The first question is so good that I almost forgot it. The first question is, what are your plans? Where do you see Tim going in the next five years?
Tim Ferriss: Tim in five years? Tim sees Time – this is like Hulk speak. I see in the next five years – well, let me pause before I answer that to say, I have never had reliable five year plans, ten year plans, or otherwise and I treat my entire life as a series of two week experiments and six month projects. Because – and maybe this is just the way I cope with life and decision making, but I feel like if you make a five or ten-year plan that you can reliably hit, almost by definition you have to set a plan that is below your current capabilities.
If you are an A student, you have to set a C plus plan for it to be 100 percent achievable. That, I think, is just a great way to paint yourself into a very unattractive corner. So, two week experiments, six month projects are kind of how I view my whole life.
But, if I had to guess, I would say five years – less hair, better gymnastics, which is my new thing – one of my new things. But, larger picture, I see myself doing the podcast or some iteration of it. Just deconstructing experts and world class performers on a much, much larger scale. I just think it will be – I think and want it to be ten times bigger, without sacrificing the nitty gritty, the nerdy-ness or going into the details. It is like, if I want to talk about exogenous ketones – which by the way, internet or not, androgynous ketones – exogenous ketones outside the body with like Dom Dagaceno. Talk about the Navy SEALs and rebreathers and all this geeky shit for an hour and a half. That is what I am going to do.
If I am having fun, hopefully other will and I so I think that we will continue to be a component because whether or not I am publishing it, that is what I am doing anyway. So, I would like to – but, by doing it publically, I force myself to get better. It is a strong incentive to refine the blade.
I think that there is a chance I will have a family. We will see about that stuff. I want to have a conversation about my thoughts on marriage and relationships – that is a whole separate thing that requires a lot more tequila.
Jordan Thibodaux: Or maybe a four-hour workweek –
Tim Ferriss: Yes, that that is a whole separate thing, yes. Four Hour Parent not coming anytime soon. Somebody was like, what about the Four Hour Relationship? What is that? A guide to one night stands? That is a best case scenario. I feel like other people have written that book. Do not need to do it. So, I think five years from now I hope to be better at simplifying. I think I am good, but I know I can be better.
I would like to – this is the first time in a long time that I have ever said this, I want to still be doing what I am doing with the podcast. I am just really loving it. And with books, if anybody – well, I know there are people in the audience who have written books and I am not going to have anybody confess their sins now, but it is like you get through a book and – I remember I was 90 percent done with the Four Hour Body and I was talking to this author and I was like, “God, I’m so bored of this. Oh my God. I cannot stand rereading these chapters. I am 90 percent done. I am almost there.”
He goes, “Oh, congratulations. You only have 50 percent left.” And I was like, “Oh God, you are so right.” And it is just so painful to give birth to these things. It is like crowning with Tony Robbins head. That sounds terrible, but it is like – Tony, I love you. You know that. But, it is just like an image of birthing.
Jordan Thibodaux: I would have preferred Total Recall with Arnold.
Tim Ferriss: Or Arnold. So, you – probably also painful and kind of freaky. So, let that haunt your dreams everyone.
But, with the podcast it is like when I finish a good interview – I did one with BJ Miller. Especially someone who is not widely known. BJ Miller is a palliative care and hospice expert who has helped 1,000 or so transition to death and I finish and I am just like I feel so much smarter after having had this conversation and it just makes me so stoked to do it again a week later.
So, I want to be continuing along those lines. But, I fully expect that doors will close that I think are currently open. Doors will open that I do not even know exist at the moment and that is part of the two-week experiment, six-month project plan. So, I am okay with that and that is part of what makes it exciting quite frankly. If I had a predictable plan, I think would run out of steam. I would not have the gasoline or the electricity – those of you who drive Teslas – to make it work.
And I hope to be taking – I do not think I take myself too seriously, but I hope to even to a great extent be embracing and creating absurdity in the world and laughing at myself because I think it is very hard to get anything serious – I think it is really hard to get anything truly big and serious done if you take yourself too seriously. Another reason why I do drunk Q and A’s sometimes on the internet. I am not drunk right now.
Jordan Thibodaux: I can verify. Yes. Final question, let us say you had a personal board of directors and you could put three people on there, living and dead, who would those people be?
Tim Ferriss: Personal board of directors, three people. I would say first few that come to mind would be Benjamin Franklin, the merry prankster himself. Just such a colorful character in multi-faceted, really incredible armature who was able to best a lot of the professionals because of that beginner mind and lack of fear.
And I think that prankster like nature was very helpful. The Walter Isaacson biography of Franklin is so good, so, so good. It slows down for me in sort of the last third, but the beginnings are so incredible. It is really fantastic. Highly recommended.
Second, Richard Feynman probably. The physicist – I guess from Cal Tech – largely associated with Cal Tech. Another prankster. Just like another polymath/prankster who used to – in addition to being world class physicist at Los Alamos, he would – he became a safe breaker just to annoy his superiors. I would not suggest this in today’s climate, but he used to break into these safes at Los Alamos, take out the top secret documents and then put them on his boss’s desk and then close the safe and just leave them there to like – not for extended periods of time, just to like cause his boss to have a complete panic attack.
Learned to play the bongos. Had some debate with an artist friend and they got really fired up and he was like, “Well, I am going to teach you about science.” And he was like, “Well, I am going to teach you how to paint.” So, he got really into painting and he would go into strip clubs to paint strippers. Like, I love this guy. Like, this is hilarious. So, I think Feynman. Although, I might not be able to get a word in edgewise with him and Franklin at the same table.
And then, probably need some like serious person with some scars – I mean, not that they are not serious, but maybe like a Marcus Aurelius type who is like somebody who has had the weight of the world literally on their shoulders and has had to make life and death decisions. Yeah, I think maybe a Marcus Aurelius. Not sure if I can get him to laugh much. Maybe Musashi, but he would probably kill all of us. Musashi Miyamoto – or Miyamoto Musashi. Anyway, yes I would say Marcus Aurelius. I will go with him.
Jordan Thibodaux: Sounds good.
Female Speaker 1: Thank you so much for coming out. I have listened to your podcast every week and to actually see a face that moves with them is a neat experience.
Tim Ferriss: His head is so much bigger than I thought. Do look like a bridge troll. I apologize for that.
Female Speaker 1: I look like a bridge troll?
Tim Ferriss: No. I look like a bridge troll. Oh, this is good. We are getting all hot. Limbering up. I look like a bridge troll. Look at this thing. It is like I am a narwhal or something. Alright, continue. Sorry.
Female Speaker 1: So, I actually have a Molly question – which by the way, where is she? Totally thought you would have brought her with you.
Tim Ferriss: Yes, so Molly is my pup. She is about 11 months old. She is hiking right now. So, she is probably in the Marin Headlands with a walker.
Female Speaker 1: That was not my formal question. So, I know she is 11 months old. I actually have a 9-month old puppy, so follow a lot of what you talk about in your five bullet Fridays about her and toy that spits out food. And I know that you do a lot of testing experimentation on yourself and I was just wonder, as you are raising a puppy – not inhumanly, but do you do any kind of testing experimentation in her training?
Tim Ferriss: Right, testing and experimentation with Molly. So, in between the beatings – you mentioned humane. No, no beatings, no beatings. I am testing all the time and it is not like I am putting her in a skinner box or anything, but I think that it is a great – as with I think many things in life, how we do anything is how we do everything sometimes and I found that getting better at training Molly, be attuned to her needs, but also being consistent with my training and sequencing the training the right way – so, just in the Four Hour Chef when I talk about meta learning and disc deconstruction selection sequencing. I approach dog training the same way, which is really just animal training, including humans.
So, do not treat the dog great framework to start with and I think create training, huge, even if you have an older dog.
I think that clicker training for just precisions, super helpful. Karen Pryor is pretty good for that also. And training for attention as a prerequisite for all other skill training and you can do that very easily by for instance getting a treat in one hand a clicker in the other and you hold the treat in front of your dog’s face and after they sit and you have – you hold the treat out to your side, their eyes will travel with it. Wait until their eyes come back to your eyes and then you click the clicker and you give them the treat.
And by doing that in various ways, you instill in them the habit of constantly checking in with you using eye contact and it makes everything else, come, sit, stay, down, infinitely easier. So, thinking about to sequence those skills is very fun. Training for safety first, tricks second.
So, also something I look very carefully at. So, I will do timed stays, like down stay and I will do like – she has to do it for five minutes and then I will give her like the beluga caviar of dog treats. But, to do that, you also need a no reward marker. The different ways to do this – so, the reward marker would be click, treat. No reward marker, like you can use uh-oh. You can use different kinds of verbal ques to say you screwed up in other words.
And always getting your dog – sorry, this is something I am really into. So, using sit for please is another thing that I think is very helpful for safety and is a prerequisite skill. Any time she wants anything, sit and that is like, duh. Tell me something I do not know. but, I will give you a variation that you might not think of. Anytime I open a door, she sits first, I go out next, then she looks at me and then I go okay and she comes to the door. This means your dog never jumps out of the car when you open the hatch back and gets hit by another car.
Will never happen. If – well, I should not say never. Never say never, but you have just decreased the likelihood infinitely. So, those are a few things that I have played around with. But, I think these sequencing of skills is something that most dog training books do extremely poorly. There is one book that I am hoping to acquire and just give away for free quite frankly. It is really thin. It is called Command Performance and it is a short compilation of like two pages per behavior put together by the Whole Dog Journal. I am sure it is based somewhere in Northern California with a name like that. Maybe Portland.
And I would just start with that. I think it will go a really long way. There are also some YouTube channels that I think are helpful. Kiko Pup, K – I – K – O Pup, is one that I found very helpful. But, you run into the same issue that you run into with any type of coach, like Ju-Jitsu is very problematic for this, everything is. Where the instructor walks in, they just kind of decide on the technique d’jour and they teach you that.
There is no sequence. There is no progression and with dogs or humans, if you want the best result you need progression. Yes, long answer.
Jordan Thibodaux: Thanks. I have an online question. There is a lot of talk and focus on human longevity, what would you actually recommend people begin doing as they approach their 40’s and beyond for a minimum effective dose?
Tim Ferriss: Man, if you are in your 40’s it is just too late. Buy a – pick out your casket at Costco and – no, I just [inaudible] myself. The preface has to be; I am not a doctor. I do not play one on the internet. This is not medical advice, blah, blah, blah. Talk to qualified professionals. But, if I were to – or maybe I am already. But, if I were to pursue increasing lifespan, it would not be at the expense of performance number one. I enjoy performance too much, so it cannot make me like a sexless, listless, depressed person.
Which, a lot of things that extend lifespan do. Like, really, really extended caloric restriction. Yes, have fun with hat. You will wish you were going to die sooner. So, I am not going to do that. But, I do fasts to purge precancerous cells. Like, by the time you are 40 almost everybody will have what you could consider precancerous or cancerous cells. What you do not want is uncontrolled growth of those cells and you can effect that by understanding the idiosyncrasies of cancer metabolism.
But, just to keep it simple, you want to experience ketosis and or fasting for semi extended period of time. To me, that means at least two to three days. This is all a work in progress, but it is based on good literature. So, I would do say – I do one three day fast, meaning water, per month. Typically, I will finish Thursday dinner and then fast to Sunday dinner.
I may combine that with – this is addressing cancer in part. There are other mortality causes, of course, but I might use hyperbaric oxygen at like 2.5 atmospheres for 60 to 90 minutes three times a week. That is straight from Dominic D’Agostino who I had on the podcast. Looked at the use of hyperbaric oxygen, not only ketogenic diet and fasting, but also exogenous ketones, like mixing up a powder and drinking it like Gatorade and how that can extend lifespan in rats and different species.
Other things I would consider, would – if we are looking at pills because everybody asks me about this, I would say the medication that has the most support that I find compelling would be Metformin right now. Glucophage.
So, you could look up Metformin. There are side effects, but I do know a lot of MD’s who are using it prophylactically to extend – to decrease the likelihood of dying from a few different things. Those would be first to mind.
Jordan Thibodaux: Excellent.
Tim Ferriss: Do not drive a car may be number three.
Male Speaker 1: Quick question, how did you manage to conquer your insomnia and what is the delta from Four Hour Body to now? Mental interventions, physical ones? And especially when it comes to mental ones, how did you figure out – or how could one figure out what is keeping them awake at night or what makes their sleep quality poor?
Tim Ferriss: Good question. So, insomnia – what has helped me the most? There are a few things. I would say they are the obvious ones, but sometimes the obvious are important. Let me address the variable question first. So, there are controlled studies where you are looking for a certain P value and you are looking for a certain power and you care a lot about isolating variables.
If you care about results, first and foremost, you can still identify what the primary movers are, but I will do it after the fact. What I mean by that is, right now I have extreme elbow tendonitis. Actually, I have fixed most of it, but that is a whole separate conversation. And I did it by throwing maybe six variables at it at a time and od six at a time and then if it helped, I could then – because I cared first and foremost about training. I could remove variables and see what the impact reversal of X, etc. was. So, generally I am throwing quite a bit at the problem and then removing variables once I have a winning combination.
For me, with insomnia, it was replacing coffee with tea. You can with pretty high-powered tea or you can start with decaf tea and actually take like a Vivarin, caffeine pill, cut it into quarters. So, now you have, let us just say hypothetically, 25mg a quarter and you can start decreasing your caffeine intake as a known quantity as opposed a cup of coffee because it is highly, highly variant.
So, you could have like decaf plus 100mg first day, right? And then you do that for three days. Next, you go to 75mg, 50mg, 25mg. So, that is one of the more effective ways to decaf yourself. That was one. Is then limiting caffeine consumption past about 5:00 P.M., but everybody has heard that stuff.
Two that I found tremendously impactful that I did test in isolation would be 1.) Some type of meditation in the morning. So, 20 minutes – let us say you could start with ten. Use an app like Headspace, which has been very popular with a lot of my fans. Meditation in the morning. Depends a lot on your cause on insomnia. For me it was the monkey mind. It was just the machinery. I could not get the cogs and the wheels to stop moving. I was still in problem solving mode.
Mediation in the morning, reading fiction before bed, right? Take you into a story telling or story consuming as opposed to problem solving mode. Using flux or something like flux to change the light emitted from your laptop or screen. And last, I will – how should I do this? A friend of mine found micro dosing with psychedelics to be very helpful and a sub hallucinogenic level with perhaps psilocybin or something along those lines. Did a podcast with James Fadiman talking a lot about this. God forbid, you think I am suggesting that. I would never. Highly irresponsible, but I do not make the news. I just report the news.
Jordan Thibodaux: We are going to do another online question. You were known to be an aggressive marketer for the Four Hour Workweek. How does 2016 Tim react to 2007 Tim’s pitch and asks?
Tim Ferriss: That is a good question. 2007 Tim. 2007 Tim was – I think he was tolerable and for the – probably pushed a little too hard. What he did not know and he could not have known, is what really busy actually means a high level. So, I would, for instance, shoot off an email to someone to try to get them to look at a ten-minute excerpt of the book that I took ages to put together and it was like, this will only take ten minutes and then they would reply with like a I do not have the time. I am like – I did not say this, but in my head I was like, how could you not have ten minutes? That is ridiculous. Get very offended.
And now I get it. Now, I get it. I get 1,500 emails a day. I get probably 100 unsolicited books sent to me a week – a week.
I took a photograph of it at one point. I took a stack and I am just like, if I do not get back to you here is one reason of probably 100 why. And so now I have much more empathy and compassion for that kind of thing. So, if someone does not get back to me for months, never attribute – this is another quote I find very useful, never attribute malice, what you can attribute to incompetence.
But, I would add to that. Never attribute to malice, what you can attribute to incompetence or business. Do not take – try not to take it personally. Assume it is not personal. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt because you are going to be the one who takes the imaginary shrapnel and carries it around with you, like acid in a vessel for weeks on end if you hold grudges.
I think he did a pretty good job, but could definitely be a little overbearing at points. But, I do not know if that is something I would change.
I am too maybe superstitious to think that that would be – I am pretty happy with how things worked out, so I am not sure I would have changed anything. But, I would have told him be a little nicer to his joints. Very aggressive with joints and have suffered a lot of pain and surgery as a result of that. That is about it.
Female Speaker 2: Hi, Tim. I have a question around the experiments and project that you lead and do on your own. I am wondering about visions. So, you may not have a five-year plan, but what is the vision towards what you orient towards on your day to day basis in terms of like moment by moment. Who are you becoming? And I am wondering what would that look like for you? What is that vison?
Tim Ferriss: Yes, a vision. Vision for me is a tricky one unless I take it really literally and it is like – like the Dances with Wolves sweat lodge kind of sense, which that is also maybe a conversation that requires some level of other substances.
But, the – in terms of who I would like to be, I saw this as so cheesy and I have a better answer, but I will put it out there anyway. So, I do think about it with Molly. I saw this billboard at one point, it was like be the person your dog thinks you are and I was like that is actually really good advice. That is actually really, really profound advice if you kind of think about it.
But, the vision I think would be – I am going to try to back into this. So, the why build the podcast? Why? Why put out more books? Why do these various things? Why focus again on editorial? I am backing out of the startups, focusing more on the creation and interviewing and the research. And I feel like that is my Archimedes lever for larger change and to give a precise example, I have spent a lot of time around lawmakers and politicians. I cannot play that game.
I have too many skeletons outside of my closet, too many in my closet, I use way too many drugs, and I am not good at lying which is sort of a prerequisite for that for theater at least part of the time. But, what I have realized if I have a very well educated, very well healed in some cases, influential audience, I can help steer that ship from afar. Kind of like a football coach-calling commands without actually having to have my hands on the wheel. I can influence it.
And I have used that already to affect certain things, like the legality of shark fin importation in a couple of states in the US. In the process of funding research into using psilocybin to address treatment resistant depression at Johns Hopkins and those are experiments that will ultimately lead me to probably change or attempt to change laws and policy.
Because you can be chess piece on the board, you can be the best piece on the board which is better than being a pawn – that is kind of where we all start, I think. Then you can be a chess player. Then you can be very good. Then you can be the person who designs the game in the first place and ultimately in that sort of cascade, that is the most powerful position.
Female Speaker 2: Yes, and then you change the game. That is good.
Tim Ferriss: Yes, and then you change the game. So, I think that on a greatest impact for the greatest number of people, I do not want to lose the one to one which is why the podcast – providing people with things they can start now, immediately start using tomorrow or today is important to me. That is the micro that can affect the macro, but directly affecting the chess board is something I want to do, but I am playing a long game with that because to do it right I have to approach it very, very methodically.
For me, personally, I think that I want to be more and I am much better, but to reflect more on what – like to be happy with what I have and to constantly reflect on how fortunate I am in so many ways.
Because if I do not do that, nothing I get will ever make me happy, content, fulfilled. And I am really good at achieving. I can knock down walls. I am really good at it, but that is only side. It is only one piece of the whole equation and on top of that I would say – this is a two for – is being a – practicing and immersing myself – recognizing that I am a social animal. Humans are social animals. So, spending a lot of time in groups. That means mixed groups, meaning mixed gender. It also means, and this very out of favor as a topic of conversation, like small groups of men for me and spending periods of time in that environment.
I find it inexplicably in a way therapeutic and I think that if you look at our evolutionarily, you look at tribal societies – my most recent podcast was Sebastian Junger gets into this quite a bit. We are in such a sensitive political climate. Not telling you to run around and touch everybody, but there is no physical contact and there is – it is extremely, I think, problematic for us as organisms to live the way we currently live.
So, I think I need that and partial with that is developing greater compassion and empathy or just rediscovering that. So, long answer. I apologize, guys. But that is – if I had to reflect on it for me personally, that would be.
Female Speaker 2: Yes, thank you. That’s good.
Jordan Thibodaux: We will do one online question and then one more in person question. So, for the online question, you have experimented with interview structure of your podcast a few times. Sharing a bottle of wine with Astro Teller. What has worked the best?
Tim Ferriss: I have tried many things, interview formants. I have also tried non interview formats for the podcast and part of what is great about treating things as an experiment and being very vocal about the fact that you are doing that, is that you get like hall passes to do all sorts of zany, hair brained shit, which is great. So, I have done the wine. No big surprise, there is a point where – there is a tipping point where you have – wine makes you finnier and then you just feel like you are getting funnier, but you are no longer funny. There is definitely a point where the scale flips on that.
But, format wise, what I have found to work very well with my guests at least an hour and half, up to three hours. Once you get to three, most people just start running out of gas. I break the interview generally in my mind into thirds. First third would be developing rapport, offering vulnerabilities of my own. So, if you hear me offering stories of my own in the beginning, it is not because I want it to be the Tim Ferris Show, even though it literally is.
I do not want it to be just me talking. I am offering vulnerable pieces, so that they will reciprocate and that is something I have learned from Neil Strauss. It worked really well. So, I am trying to crack the ice. First third is basically getting through some of their bio – or not getting through, it is interesting stuff. Cover some of their bio, current project, and breaking the ice, and also getting through some of their sound bites.
Second third would be audience questions oftentimes or questions in form by the audience and then the tail end of that second third is whatever they want to pitch or talk about or promote if they have something. Then, rapid fire questions and sort of my usual set. And then the close. And I find that structure works very well for me.
In my experience, it takes at least an hour, sometimes more – unless you know the personal already, to get through their usually shtick. And if you do a lot of media, as I do – I am as guilty of this as anyone else – we talked about preserving your decision making creativity hit points.
One of the ways you do that is you figure out which stories and answers work really well and you just use those over and over again. But, I want to get original material. So, you have to burn through that and it takes about an hour or hour and half. And that is the general format.
There is a lot of prep that goes into that, of course. Other formats that work very well that I had not seen any other podcast try, but again asking the question what would this look like if it were easy? I was like it is really hard to schedule with these people. These are really, really busy people. It is super hard to schedule. What if I just had the questions submitted and voted on, read it, or Facebook or somewhere, and then took the top ten, emailed them, bought them a mic – ATR2100 is my favorite kind of all-purpose mic, USB. On Amazon Prime, shipped it to them. It is just like, you know what? Record whatever you want.
You do not have to schedule a time. Just repeat the question to the person who asked it and then give the answer and some of those have turned out spectacularly well. Maria Popova of Brain Pickings killed it. So good. Sam Harris killed it. Just so, so good. Some of them are better than others of course. But, they are quite a few formats that work well. I do like the wine, but I have realized you have to segue into the wine like half way through or you are going to be really sloppy for the end. So, I think the Matt Mullenweg episode that I did – we started with tea and the segued into tequila for the second half. That was a good format. We did not get too off the rails.
Jordan Thibodaux: Worked out well.
Male Speaker 2: In the many podcast books that you have written, you have done a tremendous amount of individual experiments and so have your guests, but my question is okay let us get back to your tribe here that you want – let us say if you have a bunch of adult followers and you want to make your own tribe, what would you basically have them do? Whether it is for their own betterment or for your own personal experimentation?
Tim Ferriss: Meaning what would I have them do for like the greater good? Or what would I have them do to solidify their own tribe?
Male Speaker 2: I mean actually – let us just say you have an adult boot camp. You get like a group of people, however – let us just say 20 people or something like that for 30 days and I am kind of wondering like would you run an experiment or would you –
Tim Ferriss: If I wanted them to be as tight as possible? If I wanted them to be as tightly bonded?
Male Speaker 2: Actually, that is part of the question. I guess what would your goal be? Because, like I said, for their own betterment or for your own experimentation?
Tim Ferriss: Yes, if I had an adult boot camp with 20 people I would have equal – this might come off the wrong way, but either equal numbers of men and women or just men and I would find someone who is in my position who is female to lead the equivalent for women because I would like to think I have empathy, but I do not have enough empathy to understand what it is like to be a woman. I just – I am not a woman.
Last I checked. So, it could be split. In which case, there would be like together activities, but also sort of gender specific – not gender specific, they would just be – they would be doing the exact same thing, they would just be in different groups. And the activities – so, I would not have a goal – it would not be like Fight Club operation mayhem at the end or anything. I would not have like a single thing for them to do afterwards.
Actually, I take that back. There would be a lot of hardship and suffering. No, I am serious. There is too little productive suffering in the US right now. It is like, oh yeah you got 27th place. Here is a gold star. No, that does not help anyone. It really does not. So, getting good at failing and overcoming it and coming back from it, that is the real world.
Like, that is what I want to train people to be able to handle. So if they are used to like fighting each other in those big blow up sumo suites and they are like, I am awesome and they go out and then get round kicked in the head by a UFC fighter. They are just going to be like, what the fuck just happened. They won’t be able to recover from it.
So, I would have probably some element of fasting because most people are not familiar with the true sensation of being hungry. I was not for decades. Like really hungry. Not like oh my God. I am grumpy. I have not – I am hangry. I have not had cashews in four hours. No, like really hungry. You have not eaten in three days hungry. And there would be an element of fasting. There would be an element of physical discomfort or pain. I would probably have people doing outdoor activities like building debris huts or something like that. No screens whatsoever. No alarm clocks. So, for the first few days people come in, decaf. They will be titrating off caffeine and they would wake up whenever they woke up.
Like for the first time maybe getting the actual rest that they need in ten years. And I would spend a lot of the time – and this is straight form Sebastian Junger. I think he was talking about what he would do in ninth or tenth grade. I would have people working on projects, like small projects that were very difficult and we would rotate in terms of who was leading a given group.
So, let us just say – they would be small groups. Maybe four people – like five groups of four. Everybody would have an opportunity to sort of lead a project and it would not be totally democratic at all. I would be like, okay you guys – like people who are – like one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. Okay, ones raise your hand. Okay, you are the dictators. That is it. Everybody has to do exactly what you said. This is not like a flat organization. No. Like you are the platoon leader, that is it.
Or maybe not the best analogy. You are the dictator and every exercise would be intended to put people out of their comfort zone, physical, emotionally, psychologically, mentally. So, that when they come out the other end they are better at – this is probably the only part that I might teach because we do post mortems on all of these, would be the ability to learn quickly and the ability to teach other people. And my goal along and away has been to create benevolent army of people who are expert learners, like incredibly high level, top one percent meta learners who can learn to be better at anything that I have done. Who can then teach people in turn to be better than they are? That seems like the right trend.
So, I think that is – I have actually fantasized about this, like the whole boot camp thing.
Male Speaker 2: Have we not all?
Tim Ferriss: I have fantasized about it a lot, but it would just be like camp pain. It would just be like – it is not – but, when you look at the success of like Tough Mudder, Spartan Race.
There is actually a good doc coming out soon. I really enjoyed it. I know the guy who produced it. Called the Rise of the Suffer Fest. I think there is part of us that really subconsciously yearns to be tested. Nobody is really tested these days and like in a holistic way, in a really painful way. There is no rite of passage. So, but I think we are programmed to need that, to want that. So, yes, I think the camp might get pretty low reviews given the amount of pain involved. Or I would just have a religious following of masochists. I do not know, but I do fantasize about it.
But, yes the goal would be master meta learners who have a high pain tolerance, who have expanded their sphere of comfortable action and are really good at helping other people to do the same thing.
Jordan Thibodaux: Well, Tim, thank you very much for coming and speaking to us. Really appreciate it.
Tim Ferriss: Yes, my pleasure.
Posted on: June 5, 2018.
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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.