Please enjoy this transcript of another Random Show with serial entrepreneur and world-class investor Kevin Rose. 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: Ferriss: Hello, ladies and germs, this is Tim Ferriss. Welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferriss Show, where it is my job to deconstruct world class performers, whether they are from the worlds of athletics, business, strategy of any type of fashion, entertainment, or otherwise. This episode is a little bit different. It is not going to be a long form interview where I dissect or deconstruct a world, class performer – or at least not in the usual fashion. Instead, this is a special edition of The Random Show. I am joined by my usual cohost in this capacity, Kevin Rose – @kevinrose on Twitter.
He’s a serial entrepreneur and world class investor, and that is not an exaggeration. He is one of the best product guys for those in Silicon Valley or technology investors I know. What makes him unique is perhaps and unusual combination. He’s very good at very early stage investing – seed investing – and at the public markets. He’s also an all-around wild and crazy guy, which makes for a fun conversation. So we go all over the place.
We talk about new and favorite books, memory training, multiple wives – or maybe I talk about that – bets for or against virtual reality, and much, much more. So please say hi to us on the socials and enjoy.
Hello, boys and girls, and welcome to another episode of The Random Show. I think it is Episode 477. I’m Tim Ferris.
Kevin Rose: And I’m Kevin Rose. Thanks for joining us. It’s been awhile – a few months.
Tim Ferriss: It has been. To be precise, it’s been a long while. And we are sitting in your new place.
Kevin Rose: I just moved in today.
Tim Ferriss: A lot of life changes.
Kevin Rose: Speaking of The Random Show, you hit me up last night and were like, “Hey, let’s do a Random Show.” It was midnight and you said on Tuesday. Yesterday was Tuesday and I’m like, “I’m not getting out of bed to do a Random Show.”
Tim Ferriss: That would’ve been very random, though.
Kevin Rose: But you meant Wednesday.
Tim Ferriss: I did mean Wednesday.
Kevin Rose: You’re in town for one night.
Tim Ferriss: That’s right. It’s just a sniper shot – in and out. I’m excited to dig in because we have a bunch of new interests. But we also have new questions. I realized when I was just developing my Bambi legs in the podcasting and interview game –
Kevin Rose: Episode One.
Tim Ferriss: Episode One of The Tim Ferriss Show, which we didn’t even have a name for at that point, although you nominated Tim Tim Talk Talk, which –
Kevin Rose: I still think that’s the best name and I think you should rename your show.
Tim Ferriss: Thank you. Go to hell. Kevin has stuck and people still refer to it as Tim Tim Talk Talk.
Kevin Rose: I see that on Twitter from time to time and I always laugh my ass off when I see it.
Tim Ferriss: Hopefully things have evolved and not devolved, but I remember you giving me so much shit when I put together my list of questions and asked you if you had to be a breakfast cereal which would you be. You were like, “Oh, it’s going to be one of those interviews.” I was like, “Oh, stop busting my balls. I’m nervous already even though you’re my friend.” It was my first time recording audio.
So at some point, I’m going to lob some questions at you that I’ve asked a lot my other guests. I don’t know your answers to them, and it sounds like you have some top secret questions to volley from your side.
Kevin Rose: Yes. Before the show, Tim and I spent five or ten minutes putting together a bullet list of stuff we wanted to talk about. You mentioned wanting to do those new, refreshed questions on me. So of course, I have to come back to you and do some on you as well. You’re always on the interviewing side of this equation. Why not throw some back to you and see what you come up with? I feel like you grill your guests sometimes. You’re like, “What would you put on a billboard,” and they’re like, “Oh!” It’s really difficult to answer this stuff in real time.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, some of them are really tough in real time.
Kevin Rose: I’m curious to see how you’re going to do. We’ll see.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, we’ll see how well I can tap dance. I’ve grown better at the asking, but not necessarily the answering of questions. Do you have anything new on yours? I should also say, for those people who are wondering about the prep, we both bullet out a couple of items that are new for us – books, gizmos, or otherwise – but we don’t share those notes with each other beforehand. Otherwise, it would be boring.
Kevin Rose: That’s right. We tend to leave it as fresh stuff we just came up with. It’s typically stuff that we’ve used and discovered since the last time we saw each other.
Tim Ferriss: That’s right.
Kevin Rose: I’ve got three things – do you want me to kick it off with the first one?
Tim Ferriss: Yes, please.
Kevin Rose: So this one is actually thanks to you. I talked to you on the phone and talked to you about TM Meditation. Transcendental meditation is a form of meditation that I hadn’t actually heard of until you first brought it up. I have a buddy, Anish, who’s been doing it since he was a child. You know Anish. He was at my bachelor party.
Tim Ferriss: I do.
Kevin Rose: And also, our mutual Dr. Peter Attia – I was just talking to him and was asking, “Hey, what are some great ways you reduce stress in your life?” He was like, “Oh, I’ve looked at the literature.” He’s trained in TM as well. He did an introduction to some of the folks over at the center and I went and gave it a shot. I called you up and was like, “What do you think,” and you were like, “Yeah, go do it.”
Tim Ferriss: Peter’s been on the podcast, and I was convinced to do my first proper training with TM by two other guests. It was Chase Jarvis and Rick Rubin, specifically.
Kevin Rose: Oh crazy.
Tim Ferriss: I effectively asked them the same question you asked Peter and it just took a while for it to get through my thick skull that I should try it because of the costs involved and various things.
Kevin Rose: It’s not cheap.
Tim Ferriss: It’s not cheap. And I may collaborate with some of the folks involved at the higher levels of TM to change that. We will see. There are some quirky aspects to it. You sent me a photograph of your –
Kevin Rose: My sacrifice.
Tim Ferriss: – flowers and fruit with the comment, “I feel like I’m joining a cult.” For a secular person, it’s a little tough.
Kevin Rose: Here’s the deal. I grew up religious and I drank the blood of Christ at communion and did all of that stuff. So I’m used to certain formalities around certain things. I go to the introduction meeting, which is free, and I sat down in almost a church type setting. They welcome you and start explaining stuff. I’m like, “Okay, everything you’re saying sounds great.” They tell us the cost and I’m like, “A little pricy, but if it’s going to change my life – whatever.”
And then they’re like, “By the way, on your first day I want you to bring three pieces of fruit and some flowers for the introduction to the dude and an offering you must give him on the table. We burn incense.” I was like –
Tim Ferriss: And by the dude, you mean there’s a large mural of the dude from The Big Lebowski.
Kevin Rose: That’s right. No, it’s the founder. I never recall the founder’s name.
Tim Ferriss: Maharishi?
Kevin Rose: Maharishi, yes. So whatever. I’m not going to buy in if it’s any kind of religious thing.
Tim Ferriss: Darya’s making faces.
Kevin Rose: She is making faces. Are we allowed to talk about this, by the way? This is the other thing, they told us we couldn’t talk about any of this stuff. Will they sue us?
Tim Ferriss: I don’t think so. Ultimately, this is a ringing endorsement of the benefits of TM, probably. But there is some weird stuff. Let’s call a spade a spade. And people have talked about it before.
Kevin Rose: Yeah. Basically, you go into a little room.
Tim Ferriss: Swing a dead cat over your head 13 times. No, you don’t do that. I’m kidding.
Kevin Rose: You do your little ritual sacrifice thing. It’s fine. I gave fruit. It lasts like 30 seconds. And then they give you a mantra. For people that don’t know, there are a few different types of meditation. The type that I’m used to is the head space variety, which is mindfulness. You sit there, you follow your breath, and your attention is directed at the in and out flow of your breath. That’s kind of it.
Mantra based meditation is taking a word that doesn’t mean anything and you repeat it over and over and over in your head. You sit there for 20 minutes and you take this word – let’s say it’s cheeseburger – and you just think cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger over and over. Eventually, you enter this somewhat hypnotic state. Did you find that’s where it took you as well?
Tim Ferriss: It does. Or it can, I should say. I’m sure there are people who are experts in this who would take issue with this analogy, but you can think of it as almost a white noise machine for a waking state. So if you use a white noise machine to help you get to sleep, then this would be the equivalent for helping you achieve a sort of alpha brainwave level of relaxed attentiveness that some people might associate with flow. So it does help you get into a hypnotic state.
Kevin Rose: That’s right.
Tim Ferriss: Where I find it very helpful is, if you feel compelled when you’ve attempted meditation in the past to swat your thoughts away as if they were flies buzzing in your face, it can get very frustrating. By repeating a mantra, you’re effectively overriding a lot of the internal dialogue or monologue. But yes, you can get into a very, very altered state of sorts – an enhanced state.
Kevin Rose: Yes. It’s a four-day training course and I did the first day. It was literally the fruit sacrifice and then the introduction of the mantra. By the way, the reason I said it’s cheeseburger, cheeseburger is because they give you this mantra and you’re not allowed to tell it to anyone. It’s private, just for you. Later, I looked them up online and there are 15 of them. So you can just guess which one mine is. It starts with an “M.” I’m just kidding. Essentially, you do that, and then I was a little upset. I finished day one and I was like, “Why did I really pay all of this money for this?”
Tim Ferriss: Why do I have to say Puttentang, puttentang?
Kevin Rose: I literally read it on the Internet and I could just do it. I was like, “You know what? Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.” I went back for day two and it all made sense and I stayed for the entire four days. It’s not –
Tim Ferriss: To be clear, when you say four days, it’s like an hour or two a day.
Kevin Rose: Yeah. I’m talking about an hour and a half per day. Day two through four is all about helping you get over the little hurdles that appear throughout the entire process. It sounds simple, but as you’re doing the mantra certain things happen. I was doing the mantra and I started syncing the mantra with my heartbeat. I was like, “Whoa, that’s weird.” So that distracted me and took me away from the mantra. I didn’t know what to do and was kind of frozen.
Imagine that, but probably 15 different things you will run into that are distractions. They teach you how to come back to the mantra, embrace that stuff, and that’s where the value is.
Tim Ferriss: It’s practical, tactical stuff, where there were two chief benefits – at least for me. You have someone holding you accountable to meditate for two sessions in between the inverse and meetings. There is a consequence (i.e. embarrassment) to not performing the assigned work. When I tried meditation in the past, I’d buy a book and I’d be like, “90 percent of this makes no sense. I don’t understand. But here’s a little sidebar. Fine, I’ll follow my breath.”
I’d do it and I’d be like, “Am I doing this right? I don’t know. I had all of these thoughts. I’m no good at this. I’m losing at meditation. I quit.”
Kevin Rose: Right.
Tim Ferriss: And after a few days, I would stop doing it. But when you have someone you’re going to meet with each day who, in that hour and a half, is going to want to talk about your last two sessions, do post game analysis, and help you with the issues that came up, you feel compelled with social pressure of sorts.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, it was great.
Tim Ferriss: And the costs, quite frankly. If I were to point to a benefit of the payment – although I hesitate to do that – you succumb to the sunk cost fallacy. You’re like, “Well, I already paid for it, I might as well do it.”
Kevin Rose: Yeah. And I asked a ton of questions and got a lot of value out of it. It’s been about a month and a half now. I’ve been practicing and doing 40 minutes of meditation every day, seven days a week.
Tim Ferriss: Two sessions, split into 20 minutes.
Kevin Rose: Yes. My wife, Darya says she notices a big difference. I don’t know. I feel a little bit more relaxed. My pressure points are if too much is going on in my life – if I have a lot of travel combined with work combined with board meetings combined with fundraising – I hit a certain critical mass and I break down a little bit. It’s just too much going on. Why are you laughing?
Tim Ferriss: I’m laughing because it just doesn’t happen to anyone else. I don’t know why you have this particular defect. I’m joking. I missed you, too.
Kevin Rose: But seriously, that hasn’t happened as much. I’ve been able to weather the storm a lot better. I’m not experiencing any type of effect other than I will do the meditation and I will come out of it in a slight daze. They tell you when you finish the 20-minute session to spend three minutes slowly reintroducing yourself to the world.
Tim Ferriss: It’s like coming up from scuba diving. You have to equalize.
Kevin Rose: Exactly. One time I didn’t have that three minutes and I just got up and went, and I felt a little weird afterwards. The lady who was instructing me said, “Actually, if that’s going to happen and you know you have to go out to some place, cut back the meditation time and still spend that three minutes.” You go pretty deep inside yourself and you’re a little dazed. People can get headaches and all kinds of things if they come out too fast.
Tim Ferriss: Darya is pointing to a shirt that she had printed for herself that says, “That’s what she said.”
Kevin Rose: And that’s why I married my wife. She makes those kinds of jokes.
Tim Ferriss: Let’s make it more concrete. We were just at dinner together and Darya said you have been a rock in the best way possible, meaning very stable – a dramatic difference. For someone who is doing that type of work, it can be in some cases difficult to discern the progress. It’s like if you’re gaining half a pound of fat a month. A decade later, you’re going to be pretty fat. But you won’t notice it –
Kevin Rose: Like a year later, you’d be pretty fat, too.
Tim Ferriss: That also. It’s a terrible comparison, like the boiling frog, but you don’t notice the improvement because you’re exposed to it every day.
Kevin Rose: Right.
Tim Ferriss: And I noticed a big change in my sleep. Particularly the onset of sleep changed dramatically. I will be the first to admit I am not as consistent with afternoon sessions, so for me it’s mostly first thing in the morning. This particular type of meditation is probably not for everyone, but it can be very useful for some people. I think the social accountability, the camaraderie, and the teacher/student relationship were what was most important for me.
Kevin Rose: Yeah. I do like the foundation they put in place. Once you pay for the session – do you remember how much it was? $1,200.00 or something like that?
Tim Ferriss: Something like that. The cost has decreased over time from $1,500.00 to $1,200.00.
Kevin Rose: But you get to go back whenever you want. The teacher was like, “Come back any time. You don’t have to pay anything to hang out and I’ll help you if you run into any more road blocks.” They were really friendly people.
Tim Ferriss: Let me give a couple of suggestions. The TM folks will probably hate me for this, but you can experiment with this using some type of mantra. I hate that term. I think it’s very loaded. But you can use a word that is a two-syllable word, like nature.
Kevin Rose: Well, it’s not supposed to mean anything, though.
Tim Ferriss: It’s not supposed to mean anything, but let’s not let perfect be the enemy –
Kevin Rose: Ohm is a very common mantra.
Tim Ferriss: You can use ohm also. For some people who are allergic to yoga like I was for a long time, they’ll have negative associations. But you can use that. Even though I do have a mantra, I’ve used that exact example of nature.
Kevin Rose: What does your mantra start with?
Tim Ferriss: I am not going to tell you.
Kevin Rose: You can say the letter it starts with.
Tim Ferriss: I’m going to lie to you. It starts with “Z.” I’m such a hyper analytical person, I enjoy having a few superstitions I hold on to.
Kevin Rose: You drank the Kool-Aid. You totally drank the Kool-Aid.
Tim Ferriss: No, I also don’t like using red pens for signing anything.
Kevin Rose: Are you serious? Who even has a red pen?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I won’t use red pens. I don’t like cheersing with water.
Kevin Rose: I don’t like cheersing with water, either. That’s just weird. I’m not doing it for a superstition reason. It just feels strange.
Tim Ferriss: So a couple of alternatives for people –
Darya: [Inaudible – no mic]
Kevin Rose: No, I’m not. She was saying I’m doing it for superstitious reasons. I just don’t like the idea of everyone drinking alcohol and I don’t have a glass of alcohol.
Tim Ferriss: No, it’s not superstition. It’s pure hard science.
Kevin Rose: I like alcohol. I want a glass of alcohol.
Tim Ferriss: Okay, we won’t belabor that. But for people who are interested in experimenting with this kind of thing, you can bootleg an imperfect variation of it and experiment. I do think people would derive benefit from it. But having someone who can answer very specific questions like, “You travel a lot. What are you going to do if room service knocks on the door and comes in while you’re in the middle of meditation?” Going through all of those contingencies is very valuable.
But you pointed out one – headspace has worked tremendously well for a lot of my friends and a lot of people listening to this for that matter.
Kevin Rose: Calm is another one that has worked well.
Tim Ferriss: There are others who have enjoyed – and I’ve enjoyed, frankly. I’m not a purist about it. I’ve used guided meditations from Tara Brach, who was introduced to me by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings. The guided meditations by Tara Brach are fantastic. She’s also been on the podcast. Sam Harris has some great guided meditations. I think the website is samharris.org. There are many options out there for starting your day off in a relaxed, nonreactive, calmly effective state. And those are some of the options.
Kevin Rose: Yeah. I agree with you. I would say if you’re going to try mantra based meditation, try to pair up with a friend or someone you know who has done it before. They can help you get over those hurdles. The nice thing about paying for the class is that it truly is a forcing function to make you take it seriously. I went to day two because I was kind of pissed. I was like, “Why did I pay this much for it? I’m going to get something out of it.” After I went I actually got it. This is the way with all courses.
Tim Ferriss: It’s true with a lot of skills, also, that are very frustrating in the beginning. Let’s take slacklining as an example.
Kevin Rose: Oh god. I tried that at your house.
Tim Ferriss: Slacklining is difficult, and most people completely lose interest and quit after the first and second sessions. Neurologically, they’re not capable of the neurological and muscular control and coordination. You need a certain –
Kevin Rose: You saw me. It was like I was having seizures.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, so you require a certain number of sleep cycles, as far as I can tell, to consolidate this procedural knowledge. Meditation, in this particular case, is very similar. It’s like going out and snowboarding. I don’t know anyone on the first day of snowboarding who was like, “That was so much fun.” You just eat shit and catch edges and smash your head on the slopes – or your ass and tailbone – for the entire time.
Kevin Rose: Right.
Tim Ferriss: In the world of meditation, that’s where 95-plus percent of people quit. If they were forced to do five days, they would see the potential. They would have one good run and they would be like, “Okay, now I’m hooked.”
Kevin Rose: That’s why I like to take 10 from head space, where they take 10 days for 10 minutes a day. That was the first time I got through all 10 days and I was like, “Oh.” It was about day eight when I got it. I was coming out of it more relaxed. I was feeling stronger as an individual after I did. Anyway, we don’t have to talk about meditation the entire time.
Tim Ferriss: The last thing I would say is it’s very similar to physical training for non-reactivity. If have been interested in the stoic philosophical episodes that have been on this podcast before related to Seneca and a number of episodes by Ryan Holiday. Training that type of non-reactivity – meditation or mindfulness – mentally as you would train physically is a foundational skill that allows all the other pieces of the puzzle to function well. Alright, what’s next.
Kevin Rose: That was mine. What’s yours?
Tim Ferriss: I’ll give a couple of specifics. One is a fiction book that I just finished. I have almost always been a nonfiction snob. I’ve taken a very hoity toity position with fiction, which was, “If I just want to make stuff up, I can do that myself.”
Kevin Rose: I feel the same way.
Tim Ferriss: I want to get something concrete out of a book.
Kevin Rose: I don’t want to waste the time.
Tim Ferriss: If I’m going to invest the time reading a book, it needs to be valuable, actionable, and have takeaways. I’ve realized a few errors in that thinking. First, just as is the case with movies, there are movies or TV shows for entertainment, for stress relief – like Dumb and Dumber, which are brilliant in their own way. And then there are documentaries, like Fog of War, you might watch to learn something.
I think it’s very true with reading. You can better remember and incorporate some of the lessons from fiction because they are stories well told and we are programmed to be story remembering machines. The truths that are imbedded in fiction often are more utilitarian than the dense nonfiction that is just going to fall out of your brain like sand through the fingers. That’s been my experience.
I’ve actually realized that fiction can have not only a rejuvenating and relaxing effect by turning off your problem solving apparatus, but you can actually imbed truths that are helpful. One book that was recommended by our mutual friend Chris Sacca. He’s been on this podcast and is on track to be – if not already – the most successful venture capitalist of all time based on his first fund.
The novel is How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. I’m blanking on the author’s name. It’s a Pakistani author. It’s a fascinating novel that is beautifully written. I’ve never seen such incredibly glowing reviews of any book. It’s just woven together in such a powerful way. It’s unique because of the voice and perspective that is used. The entire book is written from first person. It’s like you awake to pain in your left eye. You’re laying down under your mother’s cot with your head on the dirt.
Kevin Rose: Oh, I like this. This sounds cool.
Tim Ferriss: I was told about this by Chris, who –
Kevin Rose: It sounds like a video game almost.
Tim Ferriss: It does. After Chris told me about this, I thought to myself, “I should really read that.” My second thought was, “That way of writing the book will be fascinating and cute for 10 pages and then it’s going to drive me insane.” It didn’t at all. You just seamlessly become this character. I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s written as a parody of a self-help book, which is awesome and hilarious. There is a lot of truth and timeless wisdom imbedded in this book.
Kevin Rose: Is it on Audible or just –
Tim Ferriss: Oh, I’m sure it is. Thank you, Darya. Yeah, there we go. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid.
Kevin Rose: The reason we’re not getting our facts right is I have no Internet at the house right now. Darya’s looking things up on her phone.
Tim Ferriss: Right. And here’s the quote in there. Many liked this quote by Michiko Kakutani with The New York Times, “Audacious… Hamid reaffirms his place as one of his generation’s most inventive and gifted writers.”
It’s a beautifully written book. If people are looking for a shift in the gears – perhaps a break from the relentless pursuit of dry facts, then I think this is a fantastic way to spend a few days. I got so into this, I read this book in maybe three days tops. I think it was two days, probably. I read it in a weekend. It’s fantastic. So that would be the most recent read that I’m into.
I’ll bring up one other one that’s really weird. Maybe it’s just an odd choice and an impulsive purchase. It’s a book of poetry. I’m not a poetry reader and I was in a Barnes & Noble at Union Square in New York City. There was a really thin collection of poetry sitting there called Night Sky with Exit Wounds. I think the author is Ocean Vuong.
Kevin Rose: That’s a great title.
Tim Ferriss: It’s fantastic. Oh, that’s what caught me. I’m pretty sure the last name is Vietnamese. I opened this book that’s very small and I started reading one poem in the morning when I wake up and one at night. Or, if I feel stressed, I use it just like I use fiction to short-circuit the pro/con hyper analytical, what-if brain that can drive me completely bonkers. It works really well. I will warn people about something I didn’t know. I don’t think it would’ve affected my purchase, but this author is very gay and very explicit. There is some pretty hardcore action in this book. If you’re reading along and you’re like, “Whoa! Hey now! –
Kevin Rose: Tim’s into some crazy shit.
Tim Ferriss: That will probably happen a few times. Some of the poems, I don’t like at all, and that’s okay. But every third or fourth I read – and this is a first for me – the wording is so evocative of unusual imagery. Like The Night Sky with Exit Wounds – it twists my brain. It’s almost like mental yoga. My brain struggles to piece together an image that makes sense. A lot of these poems don’t seem to make a lot of sense, but there are four or five turns of phrase that stretch my ability to visualize in such a way that I find it just opens doors to perception or gives me other lenses through which I can view the rest of my day.
Kevin Rose: Sweet.
Tim Ferriss: It sounds odd, I know, but I’ve never really read or pursued poetry in this way. It was a very impulsive purchase based on chancing across this book. I think it’s going to reignite my interest in certain types of poetry, like those that were introduced to me by Rolf Potts, the writer and author of Vagabonding, one of my favorite books. That’s a to be continued. I don’t think I will become a poet. I don’t have the hubris to think I have the capacity for that, but also the way this book is formatted is so odd.
As someone who is accustomed to narrative fiction or nonfiction, the words will be scattered around the page for one poem and then the next will be an unbroken paragraph of text with no punctuation. It’s just so jolting that I find it serves as a pattern interrupt for me.
Kevin Rose: It’s almost like art, in a way.
Tim Ferriss: Totally.
Kevin Rose: You’re getting a little piece of art on every page.
Tim Ferriss: It absolutely is. That has been an interesting, unintended experiment of mine recently.
Kevin Rose: That’s awesome.
Tim Ferriss: Another is that I am going to be, as promised, donating at least $100,000 to psychedelic research at top universities this year, 2016. I’ve already raised $90-something-thousand for Johns Hopkins and the use of psilocybin for treatment resistant depression. That’s depression that has not been addressable by any traditional means. I’m going to be doing more work in funding research.
Thank you for everybody who contributed to that campaign. It was a huge success. Things are already underway. I’m very excited about what will be discovered that can be used in that trial.
Kevin Rose: Give me the quick 30 seconds for people who aren’t familiar with this. What is the trial? What are you testing? I get that it’s depression that can’t be treated with anything else. But what does the actual trial look like? What do they receive?
Tim Ferriss: If people want to read all of the details, they can go to crowdrise.com/timferriss. The trial has actually been upgraded. It will be relatively small sample size. I’m pulling this from memory, but I think it will be six to 12 people.
Kevin Rose: Can I be one of the –
Tim Ferriss: Unfortunately, not, unless you want to move to Baltimore and fill out a very long questionnaire and qualify for it. But the purpose is to determine whether a single, or several, administrations of standardize psilocybin – I’m guessing 0.25 to 0.35 milligrams per kilograms, which would translate to what would generally be considered heroic dose. If I get this wrong, you can go to my blog and leave a comment and let me know.
We want to see the measurable effects and persistence of effects of psilocybin in patients who have not responded – chronic depression that has not been addressable or treatable with other pharmaceutical or therapeutic means. They will be also using FMRI and other imaging tools to try to determine if there is a demonstrable and statistically significant effect, how psilocybin has this particular effect.
There is good science and more science on the way to indicate that there are some incredibly powerful applications of psilocybin, for instance in the treatment of different kinds of addiction. It can’t be used for everything, but in terms of nicotine addiction or alcoholism, it’s tremendously effective – at least based on the preliminary data we have thus far.
Kevin Rose: When you’re administering this psilocybin to someone –
Tim Ferriss: Can I finish one thing?
Kevin Rose: Yeah, yeah. Go for it.
Tim Ferriss: The purpose of me bringing it up was not to say, “Hey, guys. I’m donating a bunch of money to psilocybin. Please give me a gold star.” It was to say that I’m doing a second campaign. Instead of using crowdfunding, I want to run an experiment. I want to figure out not only what works or doesn’t work in the scientific arena with these compounds, but what are the most effective nontraditional ways of fundraising for scientific studies.
I’ve already designed and will be selling a number of themed t-shirts that should be available by the time you hear this. You can check those out by going to fourhourworkweek.com/mushroom, which is traditionally where one finds psilocybin. It’s not in all mushrooms, so don’t go out foraging. That’s a good way to get dead. I’m curious to see if merchandising is a more efficient way to raise $100,000 for scientific research than crowdfunding. In turn, I will compare those to the usual approach, which is a director of development of a university or nonprofit has a dinner at someone’s house where they invite a bunch of muckety-mucks and they have a one-on-one conversations infused with a lot of wine to convince people to donate money.
Kevin Rose: Everyone gives $25,000 and that’s what you hope for.
Tim Ferriss: Or you try to land a whale. I want to see if there are more elegant ways of doing that.
Kevin Rose: The t-shirt looks pretty cool. You’re wearing it now and it’s fantastic.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. It’s very comfortable. I spent a disturbing amount of time picking out the materials for these shirts. I’m a real stickler. I’ve seen some shirts I would’ve been totally down to wear – from say South by Southwest, where every startup is giving away free shirts. That’s generally a waste of money, by the way. But some of them are so comfortable that I’ve worn ridiculous shirts just because they’re a good material.
Kevin Rose: They always give you extra-large, though.
Tim Ferriss: But they give you extra-large muumuu shirts with a 20-by-20-inch logo that makes the front all stick and plastic. Who is going to wear that?
Kevin Rose: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: You tried to cut corners to make a minimally expensive shirt and as a result you wasted all of it. You spent $2.00 a shirt –
Kevin Rose: It’s more like $10.00, but yeah.
Tim Ferriss: You spent $10.00 a shirt. You did 1,000 shirts because you didn’t want to spend $15,000. And now that $10,000 is going to be entirely wasted because no one is going to wear it. You could’ve just spent 50 percent more and actually have some measurable ROI of some type. It’s a pet peeve. I fucking hate it. I have no fashion sense. I wear a lot of t-shirts. I think a lot of about t-shirt comfort.
Kevin Rose: I have a question about mushrooms.
Tim Ferriss: Yes?
Kevin Rose: The typical college Kevin that has experience with mushrooms is you get a chocolate, you get a bag, or something like that. When you do these trials, how do they measure this stuff? Are they grinding up mushrooms and weighing them out? How do they actually administer –
Tim Ferriss: My understanding is that it’s synthesized. It would be extracted, but this is actually one of the largest constraints, with a compound that is as tracked and regulated as plutonium – it’s scheduled in the same class as cocaine and heroin. So it is extremely difficult to get the approvals on many different levels, including IRB for human trials, to initiate this type of research. I need experts here for accuracy, but for the sake of argument, let’s just say you get all of the approvals.
You want to get five grams of psilocybin, it’s something crazy like $15,000 a gram to get a hold of it because there are no economies of scale.
Kevin Rose: Who’s growing it? It’s not being grown, it’s all synthesized.
Tim Ferriss: Synthesized or extracted – I don’t know specifically. There is a nonprofit called Usona which has purchased a very large quantity so they can then distribute at cost to researchers. It’s a brilliant approach and they’re doing this all through legitimate, legal means. They have all the necessary clearances. It removes the largest constraints currently, which is capital.
Universities have fundraising and it has to be allocated. If you have a six-person study and it’s going to cost an additional $50,000-$100,000, even if all of your research is well planned and all of the proper boxes checked, if you don’t have the money, you don’t have the money. So this will in part remove that limitation. It should greatly improve the number of researchers who are performing studies using psilocybin, which is very exciting.
Kevin Rose: That’s great. The first time I read about it being used in research was probably about six to eight months ago. There was a study done in New York. This kid that was studying to become a doctor came down with cancer and he was having absolutely horrible anxiety.
He knew how to check himself because he was premed. He was rubbing his lymph nodes all the time and freaking out, to the point where the doctors were like, “You need to stop rubbing your lymph nodes.” He was causing rashes. He went off the deep end. They had this study and he took part. He swallowed these capsules of psilocybin and knocked out his anxiety 100 percent. Even though he still had stage four cancer, he was just okay with dying at that point.
Tim Ferriss: This is one of the areas that is very active. It’s end of life anxiety or depression for, in instance, terminal cancer patients. There is a very good article written some time ago by Michael Pollan called The Trip Treatment.
It was in The New Yorker and is very much worth reading. It talks a good deal about this. That is one type of study that I will be funding more of. There are actually two on deck. It is very important to fund studies that are easily defended at this nascent stage of research, with a very unfairly scheduled compound. You have to really be on the up and up and on the best behavior, and have as many assurances and insurances as possible, to ensure you can defend this study scientifically and politically. These particular populations in the early stages are important to choose wisely.
It’s very hard to say, “Fuck the cancer patient who’s going to die. Let that guy have incredible anxiety and depression.” It’s very hard to attack that. Similarly, I find it very compelling to look at the treatment resistant depression, something that has not responded to other medical options to date, or veterans with PTSD.
Kevin Rose: Don’t you feel like you could use marijuana as a template here? They’ve been very successful at creating cannabis related compounds to treat and help cancer patients with pain and other things. That was kind of the foot in the door strategy to open the door to further research other things.
Tim Ferriss: Potentially. I’ve spoken with some people who have had very deep involvement on the political legislative side with cannabis. I do think there are lessons to be learned – both things to do and not to do. So that’s something I’ve continued to be very passionate about.
Kevin Rose: Sweet.
Tim Ferriss: If you want some super comfy t-shirts that’ll make your nipples hard in a good way, go to fourhourworkweek.com/mushroom. One is very subtle. One is not so subtle. You can decide if you want to support some team colors. All of the proceeds, 100 percent, are going to directly to research. That is something I’m very much looking forward.
Kevin Rose: Awesome. I have one quick little book and then we can move into the Q&A. Does that sound good?
Tim Ferriss: Let’s do it.
Kevin Rose: The book I’m halfway through right now – and I hate to recommend something I’m only halfway through, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s called Moonwalking with Einstein. Have you read it?
Tim Ferriss: I haven’t, but I know a good deal about it. Joshua Foer?
Kevin Rose: Yes. He was a writer that was covering national memory champions. So he was assigned this beat and he thought he was going to write a single article about these memory champions and then he got pulled into actually performing and learning the tricks of the trade to become a memory champion.
Tim Ferriss: Now memory champion includes things like memorizing the order of the cards in a shuffled deck.
Kevin Rose: That’s right. Or an unpublished poem handed to you, and names and faces of 50-some people. They hand you these cards with names and faces and you get a minute to memorize all of the –
Tim Ferriss: I think DigiStrings, maybe?
Kevin Rose: Yeah, you use random strings of digits. It’s insane stuff that for someone like me, who has a really horrible memory, to be attracted to this book. Where I’m at right now, they talk about this idea of a memory palace. Do you know much about this?
Tim Ferriss: I know all about it. The loci technique.
Kevin Rose: Yeah. Give your take on it. I’m curious.
Tim Ferriss: I used to be really into this stuff. Also, Ed Cook, who is the coach in Moonwalking with Einstein is a very close friend of mine.
Kevin Rose: No way! That’s amazing.
Tim Ferriss: He has been on the podcast, talking about memory stuff.
Kevin Rose: Are you serious? How did I miss that episode? That’s awesome.
Tim Ferriss: He’s great. We did it when I was on the West Coast and he was in London, so he had plenty of booze. It was great. He’s a hilarious Brit to start with.
Kevin Rose: They talk about him drinking in the episode and going out –
Tim Ferriss: Oh, it’s not joke.
Kevin Rose: – and using it to hit on girls and stuff, by memorizing.
Tim Ferriss: Ed is hilarious. You should definitely check out the episode. Memory Palace has been used for ages in one form or another in many different cultures. It’s also called the loci technique, which means location. The way it’s used is very simple.
You have a predetermined location or route that you’re familiar with and you can then, in the process of giving yourself a tour of this location in a predetermined say clockwise fashion around the perimeter of the inside of a concert hall, or walking from your front door to your favorite coffee shop where you pass 16 different buildings and a bunch of different landmarks, you can place items that you want to remember along that route in a particular order.
Kevin Rose: Right.
Tim Ferriss: And that allows you to do some very interesting things. Not only can you remember things by using imagery – which we’re very visual creatures – you can also recall them out of order. I used to do this as a party trick in college. I was a neuroscience major, and for a very brief flash in time, I was very interested in how to stretch the capacity of cognition. You can take the abstract and convert it into the concrete, ideally in the form of images. You can do that with numbers.
For instance, you can take the numbers from one to one hundred, convert the numbers zero to nine into specific letters. So let’s just say zero is “S” or “Z.” One is “T” or “D,” which both have one down stroke. Three is “M,” three down strokes. Four is “R,” – the last letter is R. And then let’s just say you decide well in advance that 12, as an example, is TN. Anytime you have a 12, it’s automatically TN. Maybe that’s the Tin Man.
So let’s just say you have a route from your front door to your coffee shop and somebody gives you a one-dollar bill, a five-dollar bill, a ten, and a twenty. You say, “Okay, I’m going to memorize the serial code numbers on all of these and give them back to you. I would take pairs of numbers and go in fours. My first stop – I walk out the door and there’s a yellow fire hydrant. That’s the first landmark that I pass. If the first four numbers are like 1270 – I’m making that up.
Seven is a “K” and zero is an “S” or a “Z,” like I said. So 1270. So TN – I have Tin Man. 70 – KZ would be one. KZ I associate with this guy named Bill Kazmaier, who was the World’s Strongest Man champion for ages. He’s a complete beast. I know what he looks like. So now I have the Tin Man and Kazmaier fighting around this yellow fire hydrant. Now I have four numbers. I can move on to the next one. By doing that, you can get to the point very quickly where you’re memorizing 100-plus random numbers at a time. It’s really incredible.
Kevin Rose: So I’ll give you my very first exercise in the book. It’s the same idea. This time you picture your childhood house. Everyone tends to know their childhood house pretty well – or a location you know quite well and have lived there for a long time. They start you off at the sidewalk right by your mailbox. So you think you’re going to put an item down right there. In this case, he wants you to memorize 15 different items on a grocery shopping list.
The first thing is pickled garlic. So you put a glass of pickled garlic right there, when you’re walking in, right on the corner. You visualize the glass. You visualize how it tastes in your mouth, the logo on the outside, the type of screw down cap that it has – and the more connections you can make to how it feels and how it tastes, the stronger the reinforcement is in your brain. So that is one location.
So just like you, the next one up is by your garage door or the front door. The next one is inside the house or in your kitchen or whatever comes next. You pick these 10 different locations and you place one object down at each location. Sure enough, I can go back days later and tell you exactly where the pickled garlic was.
Tim Ferriss: Almost anyone can do this. If you use the same location over and over and over again, I found there was a fair amount of interference and I would get confused because I would recall something I had already put in this specific place. If I was sitting in the equivalent of a bar on Princeton’s campus hanging out with somebody and they’re like, “I heard you do some weird memory shit.” It’s like, “Dance for me, monkey.” And I’d be like, “Okay.”
So I would actually look around the room I was sitting in and I would place the images around the room. It was so unique a signature and frame that I would see the person two or three days later and I’d be like, “Hey, do you still have that five in your wallet?” I’d quote the serial code backwards and they’d be like, “What?!” People can get to that level of proficiency within a week or two of practice. It’s not complicated.
Kevin Rose: Anyway, this is a great book. I’m enjoying it so far. If you’re looking to improve your memory, there are a bunch of little tricks they’re starting to unveil about halfway through the book. It’s been a fun read and it’s also on Audible. That’s how I got it.
Tim Ferriss: I’ve heard great things about it. There is another book for those of you who want a compliment that I found extremely helpful. I haven’t seen the book in 20 years, but I think the author is Higbee. Your Memory and How to Improve It.
Kevin Rose: Cool. I’ll check that one out as well.
Tim Ferriss: That is a tremendous resource. In my sophomore year, all of the recreational reading I did was related to pneumonic devices and studying this type of – some people call it artificial enhancement of memory.
Kevin Rose: That is so funny. I didn’t even know this when I sat down. You didn’t know I was going to bring this book up.
Tim Ferriss: I had no idea. There is another book that is just basically a description of a super mind called Mind of Mnemonist by A.J. Luria. It talks about synesthesia and all of this crazy, Rainman-like abilities and beyond. I thought it was very inspiring, but it also highlighted that, when you have those types of gifts, it’s often a very mixed bag. You have a lot of issues.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, they bring that up a lot in this book. They walk through a couple of profiles of individuals that have had more or less perfect memories. It’s very daunting not to be able to forget certain things. It actually has really bad – you want to be able to forget certain things. We’re built to forget certain things. It shows the consequences there, and they’re not pretty.
Tim Ferriss: No, they’re not. That’s why, when I look at technology and living in Silicon Valley as I do, and the perspective of memory enhancement using technological means – I think there is a lot of promise in developing some of these technologies. They’re well into development at this point.
Kevin Rose: Are you talking about –
Tim Ferriss: No, I’m not talking about TDCS – the transcranial direct current stimulation.
Kevin Rose: That sounds right.
Tim Ferriss: No, I’ve experimented with that.
Kevin Rose: Have you?
Tim Ferriss: I have.
Kevin Rose: Gosh, we could just keep going on and on. We need to get to Q&A.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, we’ll do Q&A. And if you guys want to talk more about cognitive enhancement and memory, we can certainly do that.
Kevin Rose: We do should do –
Tim Ferriss: Actually, I have another recommendation for people. Have you guys seen Black Mirror?
Kevin Rose: No.
Tim Ferriss: Oh my god.
Kevin Rose: I saw Black Swan. Wait, I did see – you mean, the little miniseries?
Tim Ferriss: The miniseries that’s like The Twilight Zone based on technology.
Kevin Rose: Yeah. The first one was just kind of like –
Tim Ferriss: Look, the first one is creepy and gross. But I really enjoyed it. There are some very good episodes.
Kevin Rose: I watched the one where the President’s daughter gets kidnapped or whatever.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I think that’s the first one. It’s a mind trip, but there’s one episode about a not-too-distant-future where you can replay memories because your waking reality is being recorded through your eye. You can replay them, project them for people, rewind, search for certain things – I don’t think we’re that far away.
Kevin Rose: That’s crazy.
Tim Ferriss: But it definitely highlights some of the risks involved with that.
Kevin Rose: It could be amazing, but it also could be really horrible.
Tim Ferriss: I think it will be both. Alright. Q&A.
Kevin Rose: Let’s do it.
Tim Ferriss: You want to take a stab first?
Kevin Rose: I want to start first. This is kind of fun. I get to interview you on your podcast. I guess The Random Show is our shared show, but this is more or less your channel. What is one illegal substance that you’ve tried that has changed you for the better?
Tim Ferriss: Got Tim Tim on this one. Psilocybin.
Kevin Rose: Psilocybin? That’s your number one?
Tim Ferriss: I had a number of very transformative and formative experiences with psilocybin that were the tipping point for certain decisions and reprogramming.
Kevin Rose: What did it do for you? Clearly, as mentioned just a few minutes ago with the research you want to do, something happened and it changed you. What was the change?
Tim Ferriss: I would say I’ve always been a worrier. I’ve always had a fair degree of anxiety, which is not uncommon among A-type personalities.
Kevin Rose: This is me to the tee right now.
Tim Ferriss: I heard at one point – and I want to know the attribution on this, so somebody please let us know. Hit us up on Twitter.
Kevin Rose: @timferriss.
Tim Ferriss: @kevinrose. This expression I heard and rang so true to me was, “Anxiety is being trapped in the future and depression is being trapped in the past.” So if you’re a planner and a control freak, what are you doing? You’re constantly planning. What if this? What if that? Contingency A. Contingency B. It’s makes you a fucking stress case.
Kevin Rose: Dude, that’s me.
Tim Ferriss: And it manifests in different ways. Some people get angry. Some people start losing their temper. Other people develop physical symptoms – GI discomfort, acid reflux, or whatever it might be.
Kevin Rose: I’ve had it all big time.
Tim Ferriss: My experience is that sufficient dose – and this is something you really need to do with proper supervision. I’m not just saying that as ass covering, liability lip service. There are many cases of people using psychedelics in the wrong circumstances and dying. You can make very bad decisions – step out in front of traffic, jump out of a window. There are many different ways you can horribly injure or kill yourself if this is not used in a responsible way.
Kevin Rose: But not from overdosing psilocybin, right?
Tim Ferriss: No, it’s from making very poor decisions because you think you can fly or something.
Kevin Rose: Or drive your car or something stupid.
Tim Ferriss: All terrible ideas. You need proper supervision. But with all of those caveats, let’s use a comparison. I think we’ve all had the experience of opening up a computer and you have 30 tabs open. You’re running out of storage. I’m looking at Kevin’s computer right now. It looks just like mine. You have 30 tabs open – warning, startup disk almost full. Oh shit. What do I do? And then Dropbox is syncing. Why is my computer running so slow? Oh, Slack’s also on. It’s like, “Why is my system so goddamn slow?” Oh, the antivirus is on.
Kevin Rose: You have antivirus on a Mac?
Tim Ferriss: I don’t. For me, a moderate to high dose of psilocybin serves as a hard reboot. It just cleans that entire system, flushes the cache, and allows me to regain a 30,000-foot view. Sanity in view of larger pictures and my most important priorities – and remove all of that noise. The anxiolytics – the anxiety decreasing and depression suppressing effect for me, the first time I used it, lasted three to six months. It was unbelievable how persistent it was.
Kevin Rose: Wow.
Tim Ferriss: I would say that is my answer.
Kevin Rose: That’s fascinating. Good answer.
Tim Ferriss: Thanks. I’m going to ask a few questions that I don’t think I got around to asking the first time.
Kevin Rose: Alright.
Tim Ferriss: When you hear the word successful, who is the first person who comes to mind and why?
Kevin Rose: I would probably say Philip Rosedale.
Tim Ferriss: Okay. Who is Philip and why?
Kevin Rose: He created Second Life virtual world way back in the day. I have interviewed him on my show Foundation. Back in the day, I had a podcast called Foundation. You can still find it. I think it’s foundation.bz. The reason that I like him is on a couple of fronts. I feel that he is a very creative person that fully accepts risk and goes in headfirst. He is willing to try really wild and crazy ideas and really doesn’t care if they fail. He has done that throughout his career and has been very successful at it.
I really admire people that aren’t afraid of failure and are willing to try big, bold things. Elon Musk would be an easy answer on this front because he’s trying so many really cool, big, bold ideas.
Tim Ferriss: The founders of Google are another example.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, but I –
Tim Ferriss: I think it was Larry Page that said one of the things people miss is that, if you aim big enough it’s very hard to fail completely. You take something from it or learn lesson that you can then parlay into the next thing that’s successful.
Kevin Rose: The problem I have with the founders of Google – I’ve had the pleasure of meeting these guys and I think they’re – I’m not knocking them at all. They’re really brilliant and have created an amazing organization that continues to do great work. The reason I like Philip and picked him over the founders of Google –
Tim Ferriss: You’re mad about your AdSense account.
Kevin Rose: They banned my AdSense account. No, seriously, it’s because Philip has these ideas that are just so crazy. You’ll have to go back and listen to my other podcast about how to manage people and projects and get group think to come together and create beautiful things. They’re kind of out of this world ideas and I’m attracted to that. For some reason, I like the really crazy thinkers. I just had Jason Fried on my podcast that I do for the Journal. He has created an amazing start-up. We were talking about the culture he creates in his company. He said, “I want to pay people for getting eight hours of sleep.” And he wants to track that.
You come in with your Fitbit, you open your account and it shows you slept a full eight hours and you get paid a bonus. That’s amazing. He really cares about how he can take care of the entire life cycle of an individual in ways he’s never heard about before. Those are the types of ideas that aren’t just, “How can we create a better browser? How can we create a self-driving car?’ They’re just –
Tim Ferriss: I’m smirking because I was thinking with a Fitbit you could try to pay people for having an hour of sex a day. It has an accelerometer. It could figure it out. You’d have to wear a belt while you were boning, I guess. Darya’s question was, “Where would you attach it?” No, that’s true.
Kevin Rose: There could be a Fitbit cock ring or something. Seriously, let me say one last thing on this topic and then we can move on.
Tim Ferriss: The butterfly.
Kevin Rose: You’ve got my head all messed up now. I think that in being a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley for so many years, we see the same pitches over and over. You see modifications of, “Hey, I’m the Uber for this. I’m the Twitter for that. I’m the Myspace for this.”
Tim Ferriss: It’s just the incremental YouTube also around stuff.
Kevin Rose: It’s the Peter Thiel true zero-to-one jump – those big ideas that are new and beautiful and ugly and scary, that you find them so rarely in founders. I like those types of founders, so that’s why he came to mind.
Tim Ferriss: Phil Rosedale has a tremendous amount of stamina. He’s been in the game for a long time. He knows how to modulate. He’s been very consistent.
Kevin Rose: Big time meditator, too. He invented his own form of meditation. I’m not joking.
Tim Ferriss: What characterizes it?
Kevin Rose: He counts to like 10,000 a day. He does mantra-based meditation based on counting.
Tim Ferriss: Just single digits? 1, 2, 3 –
Kevin Rose: Yeah. We were sitting there and he was like, “Yeah, I’m at 587 right now.”
Tim Ferriss: Wait. He does it –
Kevin Rose: Every day.
Tim Ferriss: No, no. As he’s doing other activities? Oh, my god. That sounds difficult.
Kevin Rose: He doesn’t stop to do it. He’ll have like three minutes.
Tim Ferriss: He’ll be on a conference call and he’s at like 6,737.
Kevin Rose: Right, and then he stops and he goes – and if he has a minute he does an extra 100.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, he picks up.
Kevin Rose: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: That sounds so stressful.
Kevin Rose: It totally does for me, but it works for him.
Tim Ferriss: Whatever works.
Kevin Rose: Next question. It’s after midnight now. If you could change any law, what would it be. And you can’t say drugs.
Tim Ferriss: Let me think about this for a second.
Kevin Rose: Is there anything that just drives you nuts and you’re like, “Why is that a law?” You have to have some political somewhere –
Tim Ferriss: I do. I’ve gone through this recently. I’ve been told I’m a libertarian. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I think that there are laws – and perhaps all laws should be revisited and reassessed on occasion.
There are certain laws that are put in place to, in the best cases, create the greatest good for the greatest number of people in circumstances that then change. For instance, I’m building a barrel sauna and it’s relatively small. It looks like a gigantic wine barrel. It’s based on plans that were given to me by Rick Rubin, who got them from Laird Hamilton. It’s an incredible set-up.
It’s surprisingly inexpensive. And to put that on my own property, out of view of any neighbors, was just like trying to broker a fucking peace treaty between North and South Korea.
Kevin Rose: Why did you tell your neighbors?
Tim Ferriss: No, no. It has nothing to do with my neighbors. It has everything to do with getting city and town permits and all of that kind of stuff.
Kevin Rose: No, don’t do that. Just do it yourself.
Tim Ferriss: Just don’t do it? No, no, no. You have to do that. In any case, this is just one example. I’m generally a small government guy. I really feel like, if you look at for instance crises or natural disasters – in earthquakes, in the blitz where London was being bombed in World War II, people develop social structures and rules that keep the peace and assign roles to different types of people and create order amongst themselves.
Now, I’m not an anarchist. I’m not saying the government shouldn’t exist. But I do think that we’ve edged too far into a nanny state type of dependency that is not a healthy dependency whatsoever. It’s created a stifling environment for certain things – whether it is this barrel sauna or hiring really good non US citizens to work at your startup.
Kevin Rose: That’s a big issue.
Tim Ferriss: I know a lot of icons in Silicon Valley have been working on it, but why is this so hard? It is completely ludicrous. Especially based in a country where the blend of cultures and innovation we have is directly a consequence of massive immigration. It’s outrageous. In any case, that’s my rant. If I could change any law – nothing super specific.
Kevin Rose: The sauna laws.
Tim Ferriss: I need to provide more money to the sauna lobby.
Kevin Rose: Do a fundraiser for the sauna law and get a t-shirt.
Tim Ferriss: I’m sure I could come up with a better answer if I thought more about it. Oh, here’s one. I think that it should be easier for a loved one to take their loved one off of life support, or provide ethical euthanasia in cases where that has been sort of prearranged. I don’t think the state should have a say in that. I think if that is something that has been documented and agreed upon beforehand, that should be an option in more circumstances.
Kevin Rose: Yeah. Sucks to see people suffer.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Kevin Rose: Alright, what’s my question?
Tim Ferriss: These are pretty short ones. What is the book or books that you’ve gifted most to other people?
Kevin Rose: Number one would be Miracle of Mindfulness.
Tim Ferriss: That’s Thich Nhat Hanh.
Kevin Rose: Right. Have you ever read that book?
Tim Ferriss: It’s a great book.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, it’s great. It was the one that really got me into mindfulness and applying it to everyday life. There is a story in there where he talks about washing the dishes to wash the dishes.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, instead of thinking about the plum that you’re going to eat after the dishes.
Kevin Rose: Exactly. It’s such a good anecdote, though.
Tim Ferriss: I know.
Kevin Rose: The point being, if you’re thinking about the plum when you’re washing the dishes, when you’re eating the plum you’re going to be thinking about your fucking email or whatever it is. His whole thing is we should be in the moment and focusing on the task at hand, putting our full attention on that, and really living that moment. This is just a great short read. You can pick it up on Amazon for like $12.00. It’s not an expensive book and it’s one of my favorites when it comes to mindfulness.
Tim Ferriss: What’s second place?
Kevin Rose: Just because of doing the whole social Internet thing in the early days, I would say Wisdom of Crowds was a big one for me. That meant a lot to me and there are still some great little tidbits in there.
Tim Ferriss: Green Eggs and Ham?
Kevin Rose: I think those are probably my top two.
Tim Ferriss: Fantastic. Since I gave a longwinded answer, I’ll give you some air time and I’ll ask another question. A purchase of $100.00 or less that has positively impacted your life.
Kevin Rose: I hate to plug my other podcast, but on episode two I went out and interviewed this guy that is a master of pens. He knows more about pens than we do about anything else on earth. He recommended three pens that have the absolute best rollerball pen, the best fountain pen – and these are all $4.00 pens. Some of them are really hard to find. Some you can only find in Japan.
Tim Ferriss: That’s convenient.
Kevin Rose: But you can find them online. I swapped out my entire stock of pens at my desk with these cheap little $3.00 to $4.00 pens and they’re amazing.
Tim Ferriss: Do you recall the names of any of them?
Kevin Rose: Yes, I can put them in your show notes. I will get his top there and they’ll be in the show notes.
Tim Ferriss: Alright. We’ll put these in the show notes, guys. Fourhourworkweek.com/podcast – you can find show notes for this and all of the other episodes.
Kevin Rose: But I think for me that represents who I am as a person. I like to geek out on something and go really deep. I think you’re like this, too.
Tim Ferriss: I’m definitely like this, too.
Kevin Rose: You find something you’re into and I’m like, “Really? There’s a better pen? Tell me more.” And we ended up having a 30- or 40-minute podcast about notebooks and pens. That was super geeky, but I have some awesome notebooks now.
Tim Ferriss: I dig pens. I have a bit of a pen fetish myself, so this is right up my alley.
Kevin Rose: The next question for you – what is one body experiment you wish you didn’t do?
Tim Ferriss: One physical experiment that I wish I didn’t partake in –
Kevin Rose: You can’t mention the double circumcision.
Tim Ferriss: I’m sorry I did that to Toaster. I do regret that. Sorry, Toasty.
Kevin Rose: He’s still in pain.
Tim Ferriss: Good boy. The one that comes to mind is – I was in Cape Town, South Africa, doing research related to a number of chapters in The 4-Hour Body. I was getting muscle biopsies, which involve having something the side of a large pen stabbed into the side of your leg to cut muscle tissue out – not super comfy. That one I don’t regret. That got me a lot of really interesting enzymatic information related to endurance and a muscle fiber analysis. I was at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa and Dr. Timothy Noakes is there. He’s incredibly well versed in the worlds of ultra-endurance and hydration, or lack thereof, and how the body responds to different states of hydration.
I wanted to do a very well established running test. It was going to be an endurance test, which I’m not known for to start with. I decided that I could use every advantage possible and I had read in a number of places that resveratrol, which most people associate with longevity –
Kevin Rose: The red wine compound.
Tim Ferriss: The excuse they use to drink red wine, when in reality you’d have to have like 72 cases a day to get the therapeutic dose used in clinical. Resveratrol also has some incredible implications for endurance. I remember seeing this video – I believe it was Super Rat. There was normal rat and then super rat running on a treadmill. I want to say it was David Sinclair, perhaps, who did this.
Kevin Rose: And they gave super rate resveratrol.
Tim Ferriss: It’s endurance doubled. It’s run time to exhaustion doubled. I said, “Okay, well let me look at the research and figure out the dosage they used on the rats – the milligrams per kilograms.” And then I –
Kevin Rose: Oh my god. You ratted yourself.
Tim Ferriss: I ordered like five months’ worth of resveratrol – like multiple bottles.
Kevin Rose: Oh no.
Tim Ferriss: Don’t do this at home, kids – I consumed all of the bottles. I had to consume something like 120 capsules to get the proper milligrams per kilogram.
Kevin Rose: Why would you do this? This is dumb.
Tim Ferriss: There are a couple off issues, folks, for those of you who haven’t realized this is dumb yet. I couldn’t figure out a way to expeditiously have this administered through injection, which is almost certainly how it was given to these rats. They didn’t feed the rats resveratrol chow, I’m pretty sure. They most likely injected it intramuscularly or intravenously. I didn’t have that as an option, so I did it orally.
Well, there are a bunch of issues that come up here. I’ll just flash forward and give you guys a snapshot and then explain what happened. I’m sitting there in this meeting and there was a serious, brilliant, hilarious guy sitting there. He’s like explaining this very seriously to me and it’s like a 10-minute intro to what I’m about to do. Out of nowhere, I start sweating fucking bullets – a cold sweat.
Kevin Rose: How many pills did you take at this point?
Tim Ferriss: Oh, I had all of them a half hour beforehand. I had 90 or 120 capsules.
Kevin Rose: So you’re drinking like 10 at a time and gulping them down.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, yeah. I’m good at swallowing pills. I get this profuse cold sweat out of nowhere pouring down my face. He’s giving me this very serious speech and I’m trying to pay attention because the sweat’s coming into my eyes. He’s like, “Are you okay?”
Kevin Rose: You’re like, “I need a hamster wheel stat.”
Tim Ferriss: I was like, “Do you have a bathroom nearby.” He points me down the hallway and I do the butt squeeze waddle down the hallway and do a reverse bra jump through the stall and just stay there for the next 45 minutes. I didn’t realize – what was not listed on the ingredient list on these pills – there’s something used as a filler called imoden, and imoden acts as a laxative. I was just a disaster. Needless to say, it completely killed my endurance. I did the running test. It was 10 times worse than it would’ve been if I had not swallowed 120 pills.
Kevin Rose: You probably like lost a ton of water and –
Tim Ferriss: Oh, it was a complete disaster. So that was –
Kevin Rose: You’re lucky you didn’t have some crazy, horrible side effect like –
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Look, I don’t recommend mimicking that behavior, but to the extent possible I did do my homework. I read a lot on PubMed. I knew there was a risk that I would have GI distress, I just didn’t know that it would be like –
Kevin Rose: That severe.
Tim Ferriss: – exorcist style out the other end type of issue. Live and learn. I saw a t-shirt here in New York City. It said bad decisions make good stories, so I guess this is one of those examples.
Kevin Rose: There you go.
Tim Ferriss: What advice would you give to your 20- or 25-year-old self? Place us where you are and what you’re doing.
Kevin Rose: I don’t know whether I should go 20 or 25. Let’s go 25. Right around that time was when I was creating Digg for the first time. It exploded and got a bunch of users and we grew the company to a pretty decent size. The issue was, at that age, I was still really immature. If I would sit down with my younger self, I would say to that person to seek out mentors and stop acting like you know it all. When I didn’t know something, I refused to learn it. I wanted to focus on what I already knew I was good at.
I was really good at the creative side and coming up with new feature ideas and product ideas, but when it came down to hiring staff or interviewing folks – all of the other pieces of business you have to learn in order to succeed – I didn’t have any of that. Rather than admit I didn’t know it, I just turned a blind eye to it. That caused a lot of problems later.
I was like, “Okay, I’m going to focus on this small domain and hire other people to take over my weak spots.” I first of all didn’t know how to hire the right folks. We hired some great people, but gave the keys to the castle to folks rather than taking on the hard work, which was admitting I didn’t know these things and putting in the time and effort to become proficient in them. That’s what I’d go back to that 25-year-old self with.
It’s a lot of the stuff that I’m still learning today. As a fourth or fifth time entrepreneur having a startup, I’m putting in a lot of time and effort. I feel like I’m mature enough now at almost 40. If I don’t know something, I immediately go and say, “Who is the smartest person in the room? Who can point me in the right direction so I can get schooled on this.” It’s important. You can’t just shuffle that stuff to the side and let an ego get in the way when it shouldn’t be.
Tim Ferriss: That makes perfect sense. The short-term ego pain prevents the long-term catastrophic pain.
Kevin Rose: Right. Exactly. And it only happens once. You have that small little bash to your ego for 10 minutes, but you get introduced to the right folks and you admit that you don’t know something. And guess what, that never comes up again. You can go and get schooled up on that.
Tim Ferriss: That’s good advice. What is the worst advice that you hear being thrown around to startup founders, or in general? What is some bad advice that’s given frequently?
Kevin Rose: Well, I’ve seen many a startup that believes that when they have a little bit of traction it’s the time to go raise a bunch of capital and spend into that and hope for the best.
Oftentimes, you see a lot of bloat created and a lot of extra pressure to hit certain milestones that don’t make sense and then cause you to make really bad short-term decisions for the business to bring in revenue when it’s not going to help in the long-term. There are bunch of examples I can give here and I don’t want to pick on any one individual company. That said, let me pick on one company.
Tim Ferriss: When people are like, “I don’t want to be an asshole, but,” that usually means they’re immediately going to be an asshole.
Kevin Rose: I know. There’s that great Onion article that says the devil’s advocate turns out to be just a big asshole. I love that article. It’s so true.
Tim Ferriss: Side note – I heard this comedian say, “When someone says, ‘I’m a taxpayer,’ it means they’re about to be an asshole.”
Kevin Rose: Totally. A great example of this is a company like Fab.com. I was an angel investor there. It had a great founder and a great seed of an idea – it was a great pivot from the site they were before into a very design-oriented e-commerce play. It had a great following and was doing – the conversions on these little flash tails were working quite well. They went out and raised several monster rounds, hired a bunch of employees, and just spent into this business and blew through a bunch of capital.
When the novelty wore off, the business went away. That said, growing thoughtfully and in line, in track, and in parallel with your revenue, and being more responsible around that makes a lot of sense. Don’t over raise capital and spend too much cash up front. I think we’re getting better at that as an industry. I think there has been enough fires now that people can see that’s not the wisest way to go.
That said, we still see things like Uber and others that are just raising monster amounts of cash. But the good news is that they have real revenue to back it up. I think this was very much a thing when you don’t have the revenue and you’re going and doing this – it’s a bad decision.
Tim Ferriss: Also, if we’re looking at Fab versus Uber, the Fab example is very different in the respect that it’s not necessarily a winner take all market where they have to dominate a city or a country or a continent to become the de facto choice for ridesharing. There are certain network effects, or marketplace dynamics, where if they have the most drivers then they’ll have the most riders. The riders want to have the fastest pick-up time. If they have the most riders, then they’ll be able to recruit the most drivers.
It’s a virtuous cycle for the person who owns the most market share on both sides of that equation. But in a Fab case, or many cases like it, there are a lot of perverse incentives at play. There are particularly perverse incentives at play in an environment like we are either just coming out of or still in. There are many people who would disagree with this, and I don’t have issues with smaller examples. But there are startups that are on their way to failure and the founders know. They take a ton off the table, the employees see nothing, and then it just craters.
Kevin Rose: Right.
Tim Ferriss: That is a byproduct of being able to raise these monster rounds, in part – riding momentum of I-bonds as opposed to revenue. That’s one of the reasons I got dismayed and disillusioned with a lot of the exchanges. They’re certainly not long-term relationship building, but a lot of the transactional exchanges that happens in that startup eco system –
Kevin Rose: There are a lot of positives to taking venture capital. One of the negatives is that the founders are pushed to build a bigger and bigger business. For example, when I first launched Digg, I launched it as just a tech only news site. It quickly became the largest tech news site in the world. There was no doubt we had more traffic than any – at the time, CNET was big and a couple of other blogs.
But when a certain amount of dollars came to the table, it was like, “Hey, what we love what you’re doing with Digg as a tech site. Why don’t you go into world news and politics and science and all of these other categories?” So we did that. And then that was great and we had 38 million people a month coming to our site. “But wouldn’t it be great if you could get to 50-100 million people coming to your site per month? Why don’t expand into something that my mom would like to use and embrace some of the traditional news sites and help them promote their content?”
Things that just weren’t naturally organic in our DNA – that is the danger. If Fab had stayed small or Digg had stayed small and focused on their core and stayed true to their DNA, they wouldn’t be forced to make these unnatural decisions that eventually lead them not servicing their audience.
Tim Ferriss: In fairness, though – I’ll play devil’s advocate/asshole here. If you sign up for taking venture capital, you have to understand the economics of venture capital. They need you to grow. They, in turn, have their bosses who are the LPs with a fiduciary responsibility to try to generate a 10x or 100x return for a few startups. The rest are going to be dogs, dead, or zombies.
Kevin Rose: And I think that’s where, as Kevin the 25-year-old founder versus where I am today, the difference is that the 25-year-old Kevin would’ve taken that as gospel. “Hey, you should go do X, Y, and Z.” “Okay, I’m going to go do that. That sounds great. You guys have been down this road before.” The Kevin today would say, “Thank you very much, trusted advisor,” and take that into consideration. Oftentimes it is great advice. Eight times out of ten you’re going to agree with them.
But there’s that couple of times when you’re going to say, “That doesn’t make sense for my business. I respect you and your idea, but we’re not going to do that. It’s just not.” And they can’t force your hand in that unless they have control of the board, in which case that’s a whole separate conversation. Alright. I have two more questions for you.
Tim Ferriss: Let’s do it.
Kevin Rose: Biggest misconception people have about you.
Tim Ferriss: That I have an issue with hard work. I don’t have an issue with hard work. I have an issue with hard work applied to stupid things. You should focus on being effective, picking the right things to do before you focus on being efficient, which is doing things well.
Kevin Rose: Do you really only work four hours a week?
Tim Ferriss: Oh god. Here’s the reality, and you know this. I know you’re verbally fucking tickling my balls to make me uncomfortable. The fact is, I don’t have to work at all if I don’t want to work. That is not the driver for me at this point in my life.
Kevin Rose: I was just joking. You don’t have to answer this question.
Tim Ferriss: Oh goddammit. I’m not allowed to have booze right now. I could use some booze, but I’m not gonna do it for reasons I can’t discuss. Top secret. Continue.
Kevin Rose: Okay, next question. This is a very serious question. I think other people out there will be curious about this.
Tim Ferriss: The rumors about by 21-inch cock are all true.
Kevin Rose: There you go.
Tim Ferriss: I can’t even blame it on the booze. I haven’t had any.
Kevin Rose: You’re 39.
Tim Ferriss: 39 – dirty old man. No, I’m 38.
Kevin Rose: Sorry, I’m one year behind.
Tim Ferriss: Early onset Alzheimer’s.
Kevin Rose: So you’re not married yet.
Tim Ferriss: I’m not.
Kevin Rose: I’ve known you for quite a while now and I’ve seen you through a handful of relationships. For those that don’t know you, what do you look for in a woman and what’s your take on dating? I’m curious. Who dates Time Ferriss? What do you look for?
Tim Ferriss: Masochistic, ill-advised women. That’s not true. I’m joking. I’m looking for a half-Japanese, half-Italian, bisexual –
Kevin Rose: Be serious.
Tim Ferriss: – architect, super athlete, part time swimsuit model?
Kevin Rose: You’re not joking, either. That’s the funny part. I know you well enough to know you’re joking for the podcast but you’re really not joking.
Tim Ferriss: Who knows how to squat with the least body weight.
Kevin Rose: This is actually what you’re looking for.
Tim Ferriss: I’ll put it this way. I wouldn’t mind that. That sounds like a very enjoyable conversation. I look for generally what I look for in a human being.
Kevin Rose: Do you want someone who can kick your ass, though? You’re a hardcore person.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I’m hardcore.
Kevin Rose: I’d say of all my friends, you are – even though you can relax and meditate, you’re very into shit and take stuff very seriously.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I’m hardcore about a lot of things. I can be hard around the edges. These are characteristics that I don’t know if I could fix and I’m not sure I want to fix them. I’ve seen so many benefits from them. They’ve been useful tools. I will tell you I’ve dated women who are very, very feminine and yen – very swirling in emotional range and very nurturing. I’ve also dated women who are extremely tough and make me want to be more resilient, less reactive, hyper driven.
Both of those can work for me. It’s important that you can have someone who is driven and tough like that who doesn’t feel the need to constantly butt heads to assert being an alpha. That is something I can’t have in a relationship because I’m already that way. You can’t have two of those in one room. It’s like Chinese fighting fish. You put them in a bowl and they just fucking kill each other. That dynamic doesn’t work.
Whether it’s a heterosexual, homosexual, or whatever-sexual relationship, there has to be a compliment of personality traits and strengths and weaknesses. I could go down a long list. What do you want me to focus on?
Kevin Rose: I’m just curious what it is you’re looking for now. We don’t have to go – what’s that? Yeah, that was a good answer.
Tim Ferriss: I’ll be honest. There is a big part of me – I, not too long ago, got out of a very long, very serious, fantastic relationship that I reflect on a lot. But ultimately, I wasn’t sure what I was looking for in my life as it relates to family and/or marriage. That led to a level of indecision that was unfair to my partner at the time. When you ask me what I’m looking for, part of me wants to say I don’t know. I know what I can’t stand. I can tell you that. But what I might look for in a person that I’m envisioning as the mother of several kids of mine is very different from what I envision say if I’m considering that my life might be a combination of different women or –
Kevin Rose: Oh shit.
Tim Ferriss: – a lack of marriage entirely. But having say – maybe I have a wife and then a mistress and they both know each other. Maybe I have two wives. Maybe I have a Raise the Red Lantern situation with like six wives. Sounds like a huge headache on a lot of levels to me personally. Maybe it’s a series of very intimate lovers that I stay in touch with. I don’t know, honestly. It’s a big question mark to me. For the time being, I’m spending time with people – and this includes women – who I respect a lot.
So whether they are super hardcore and driven or just very good at what they do, but extremely soft and able to counterbalance some of my hard edged, steely attributes – which can be really damaging in excess. I need someone to help temper that. I respect them because they’re good at what they’re do. I enjoy spending time with them because I learn from them. They don’t take themselves too seriously. They can laugh at themselves. They take care of themselves physically.
For most of my friends, that’s a criterion as well. I want to be averaged up in all ways possible by the people I surround myself with. Even if I have some friends who might not take care of themselves physically, I need at least a few close friends who do. Because if I’m the average of the five people I associate with most, well shit. I need to be very careful about how I allocate those interactions. I like really nice hamstrings. I like big brown eyes and little brown ankles, as one friend would put it.
Kevin Rose: Little brown ankles?
Tim Ferriss: That’s how he describes the type of woman he likes. I like generally long hair, but I can think of an exception to all of these things. That’s the thing. People are like, “What’s your type?” Super hot, smart, and funny? I don’t know. Color doesn’t matter to me. In terms of short hair versus long hair – nah. Tattoos or no tattoos or piercings or no piercings – I’ve dated every possible permutation of those. I don’t know what to tell you. I love women, period. I’m not sure what to do about that. I think that’s part of the challenge that I’m having.
Kevin Rose: That was a great answer.
Tim Ferriss: I think that’s all we got. Well, how should we close out? Do you have any parting thoughts, recommendations, reflections?
Kevin Rose: Yes, I do. Sign up for my newsletter, thejournal.email, on the Internet. I send out a once a month newsletter of all my crazy chaotic stuff, gear, and tech stuff I’m checking out. That also has a podcast on iTunes. And also, I think virtual reality sucks. I tried the HTC and it’s stupid.
Tim Ferriss: I think you’re going to lose this bet.
Kevin Rose: You sent out a Tweet saying, “Virtual reality is blowing my mind. I now see the light.” I saw that Tweet from you three months ago.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I don’t take it back. I stand by it.
Kevin Rose: It’s so dumb. Virtual reality’s so dumb.
Tim Ferriss: Alright.
Kevin Rose: Did you try the HTC-1 that you put on your head?
Tim Ferriss: I tried the Vive with –
Kevin Rose: The Vive, yeah. That’s the one.
Tim Ferriss: I think it was the Valve with –
Kevin Rose: At Adam’s lab?
Tim Ferriss: No, a different lab. It had Valve software running on it.
Kevin Rose: If you were really that blown away –
Tim Ferriss: I was very impressed. Maybe I have better long-term vision than you do. Maybe I can see the potential.
Kevin Rose: No. No, this is one of those things where it’s a hype cycle in Silicon Valley. Sadly, the benefit to the consumer has to be in the order of magnitude better than what they’re already experiencing for it to ever get adopted. That comes on a couple of fronts – on the application front. They have to enjoy it at least 10x or greater. And then it also comes on the comfort and wearability and maintenance and set-up and everything else that goes with owning a virtual reality system.
And sadly, we’re all going to realize that it’s much like the Wii. It was fun for the first five games of Wii bowling that I played, but then it ends up in a drawer. Just like 3D TV.
Tim Ferriss: Well, here’s what I think you’re missing. Darya’s giving the hands-up, I don’t know what you’re talking about – here’s the difference if we’re looking at purely the entertainment applications restricted to video games. The Wii required entirely new types of games to be created, which basically were reminiscent of early Nintendo sports games. They’re very different from the games that are currently blockbusters.
But what if you take virtual reality, and simply use that to enhance the most popular first-person shooter games and Call of Duty and so forth – which I don’t think is that much of a stretch. I don’t think that’s a hard sell. I think that is substantially better than what is currently available.
Kevin Rose: We’ll see. I think it’s a pretty – I would say there’s a couple of different camps in the virtual reality space. There’s one that thinks it’s going to be accessory for gaming and the other one that says we’re going to be watching movies like that and sit around watching the Super Bowl. Everyone will have one at a Super Bowl party. We’re wearing headsets and trying to cram freaking nachos underneath the mask. That’s a real thing. People are saying that kind of stuff. I believe the maintenance and set up is just really difficult.
Tim Ferriss: I don’t see the Super Bowl soon. I don’t see that type of interaction happening. You’re sacrificing an element. We could all watch the fricking Super Bowl at home by ourselves. But we go to a Super Bowl party. Why? There’s a communal aspect to it and elements of that experience that are not fully accounted for when someone brings up the example of the Super Bowl party and using it so you can stand in the middle of the field and have a fucking crazy 300-pound guy charge at you. That sounds like fun.
Maybe there are permutations on that that could work, but with something like Call of Duty, where you’re sitting in your basement in your underwear playing it anyway, I think – in that case, let’s say it is a hype cycle. What does the landscape of VR look like in three years or five years? Has this been abandoned?
Kevin Rose: Obviously, a lot of money is going into game development and app development in VR – tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars from some of the top companies. But it’s one of those things where, if consumers don’t demand this hardware and it doesn’t sell through, then those funds are going to quickly dry up. It’s very much a chicken and egg thing. You need original content, and original experiences, more so than just a flying whale coming by your head that’s in a 30-second demo.
You need real content that’s developed for VR, which is expensive to create. It’s a chicken and egg thing, but you need a hell of a lot of eggs. You need a lot of great games. If you get in there and have a mediocre experience or, “I only have two headsets. We can’t play co-op,” there’s 1,000 use cases I could describe where it ends up frustrating the gamer and it sits in the corner and they go back to the way things were.
This has been tried time and time again. This isn’t the first type of – I had a Nintendo Power Glove back in the day. I put my hand in the glove and I tried to do different things with it. Do you remember that thing with the little keyboard on the side of it?
Tim Ferriss: I do remember it.
Kevin Rose: We’ve tried these devices to augment our gaming experiences and yet we all still come back to the standard controller. It’s easy. I can toss you one. We can sit there and drink a beer while we’re doing it. There’s a thousand little things you can do that you can’t do with these big-ass headsets on. And you need a dedicated room if you’re going to walk around with them. You’d be bumping into furniture and shit. There are so many hurdles to get over here. I just think those hurdles are a little too high.
I will say one thing. Augmented reality is very much different than virtual reality, and that I still think the jury’s out. I’m talking about where you put on a pair of glasses that allow you to project – at least back into your eye – the idea of there being little living creatures and different things crawling around in your furniture. Have you seen some of those things?
Tim Ferriss: I have. They scare the shit out of me.
Kevin Rose: That is cool enough.
Tim Ferriss: It’s not just that. It’s like overlaying things onto reality as you visually experience it today.
Kevin Rose: That’s right. That I haven’t written off yet. But this idea of virtual reality – and I’ll be the first to admit I’m wrong if two years from now this is not the case. But I just had this gut feeling. Sometimes I like to be a little bit different than everybody else.
Tim Ferriss: Stir the pot.
Kevin Rose: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: You have a bet riding on this, do you not?
Kevin Rose: On virtual reality failing?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Don’t you have a –
Kevin Rose: Oh, Adam, yeah. I’m betting a neuroscience friend of ours –
Tim Ferriss: Very well-known neuroscientist.
Kevin Rose: He’s on your podcast.
Tim Ferriss: Adam Gazzaley.
Kevin Rose: He has drunk the Kool-Aid. He’s poured the Kool-Aid into the water, mixed it, and drank it. He’s hardcore.
Tim Ferriss: Just as context, Darya used to work with Adam. Is it fair to say he’s one of the preeminent neuroscientists in the world? MD, PhD, studies gaming, has developed gaming, has a lab at UCSF – one of the best regarded in the country, certainly.
Kevin Rose: What does that –
Tim Ferriss: 50 people? Something like that. This isn’t like a homeless guy on the corner with a sandwich board saying VR is coming. You have a qualified opponent.
Kevin Rose: No, I get that. I think that he is a good opponent. He is not a technologist. He’s a neuroscientist. He has a dedicated big-ass room for virtual reality. So when he goes and plays in virtual reality – and I’ve been in his lab and played with his equipment – it is quite fun. But he has a big-ass room that he gets to – not everyone has that room. I don’t have that room here in New York. It’s a different environment when –
Tim Ferriss: How specific are your criteria for success of failure? For me –
Kevin Rose: It’s very loose.
Tim Ferriss: – if there are fucking rooms all over a given city, and then in every city, where people can go experience virtual reality, that seems like it’s at least gaining a foothold. That would be some measure of success.
Kevin Rose: I think that virtual reality as a form of laser tag could be really interesting. I actually saw that a week ago and it looked pretty fascinating. It had 10 people in a room that were all wearing headsets. They could see each other in the virtual world. Monsters could appear and they could run around corners and shoot them and things like that. But that’s just Scandia fun. That’s like mini golf. That’s going to be a –
Tim Ferriss: Scandia?
Kevin Rose: Scandia’s a thing on the West Coast. It’s a mini golf course where you go ride go carts and play mini golf. That’s the kind of fun that is. I think that what Adam’s talking about is this in almost every home and it being a fixture of your household.
Tim Ferriss: See, I think you’re overweighting the entire room experience, which is definitely an enhancement and improvement over the stationary experience. But I could see people with immersive sound systems in the headsets themselves so you have surround sound, using the headset in conjunction with a controller, and having an incredible virtual reality experience.
Kevin Rose: We’ll see, dude. I’ll tell you a story that I probably shouldn’t tell. I was at Google and I went to Google X, which is very limited access. They do all of the crazy and top secret experiments. They had Google Glass before they announced it. I somehow talked the Glass team into giving me one of the first prototypes outside of the team. So I got one of the first 10 units. It had the beta software on it and I had it hooked up to my Android phone. I could see all of my text notifications. It was the coolest thing if you were in Silicon Valley to have back then. No one had one. I wore it to a party one time and it was stupid.
Tim Ferriss: I remember. A friend of ours showed up at South by Southwest with Google Glass on and it was just a nerd magnet. Throngs of people were surrounding her everywhere she went.
Kevin Rose: As my wife will tell you, I had mine for two weeks or something like that. I gave it back to the Glass team. They were like, “What the fuck? Everybody wants one of these. Why are you turning this in?” They expected me to have it for the next three months. I’m just like, “No one is going to use this. It’s too dorky. It’s another thing I have to charge. We don’t need more of those in our lives. It’s heavy. It’s bulky.”
I didn’t understand it and that was my gut, consumer, product person’s take on it. I ended up just abandoning it. I feel the same way about virtual reality.
Tim Ferriss: Only time will tell. I don’t think it will take that much time, either. I think there is so many big announcements and launches coming up soon. Within the next year or 18 months, we should have a pretty good idea of what’s going to fly or not fly. What’s at stake?
Kevin Rose: It requires a trip to Japan to buy a bottle of Hibiki 30-year aged whiskey, which you can’t find in the United States. They don’t import it into the United States.
Tim Ferriss: That’s a good bet.
Kevin Rose: It’s a good bet. It’s a win/win because I’m going to help him drink some of it if I have to give it to him. It should be fun. I think that, even if I lose the bet, I’ll be pretty impressed and happy. If they come out with a few titles where I’m just blown away, I’ll be the first to say this is going to take off. But my gut doesn’t tell me so.
Tim Ferriss: The jury’s out.
Kevin Rose: We’ll see.
Tim Ferriss: Well, another Random Show on the books. You already mentioned the Journal. I will tell people. Check out the t-shirts. I’ve never done t-shirts before. 100 percent of the proceeds are going to psychedelic research, most likely psilocybin, at top universities.
I’m not making anything from it whatsoever. Everything is going to senior scientists who are working on very fascinating applications of compounds that have been neglected. They can potentially address some extremely debilitating conditions that have very few options otherwise medically speaking. Check out the shirts. If you like them –
Kevin Rose: American Apparel shirts?
Tim Ferriss: I’ll have to look. I went through –
Kevin Rose: Is it cotton or a blend?
Tim Ferriss: Most likely a blend. I went through all of my own t-shirts and picked out the most comfortable and the designs that I liked and sat down with a sourcing team and looked at how to make the most comfortable shirts possible. I’m test driving the prototypes.
Kevin Rose: They’re not made from mushrooms?
Tim Ferriss: They’re not made from mushrooms. They don’t disintegrate. You don’t take a shower with them and sprout anything. You can’t grind them up and eat them. That would be pretty amazing, but no. Fourhourworkweek.com/mushroom. Check them out. Find us on Twitter if you have anything to correct, say, or add. And I feel like that’s about it.
Kevin Rose: That’s it. Thanks for listening.
Tim Ferriss: Alright, thanks for listening, guys. You can find show notes, links to various things that we have mentioned, at fourhourworkweek.com/podcast, as well as show notes for every other episode. Until next time. See you. Thanks for sticking around.
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