Ann Miura-Ko — The Path from Shyness to World-Class Debater and Investor (#331)

Photo: Christopher Michel (@chrismichel)

“The main difference was that I was willing to outwork and outdo every competitor who walked in through that door.” Ann Miura-Ko

Ann Miura-Ko (@annimaniac) has been called “the most powerful woman in startups” by Forbes and is a lecturer in entrepreneurship at Stanford. The child of a rocket scientist at NASA, Ann is a Palo Alto native and has been steeped in technology startups from when she was a teenager. Prior to co-founding Floodgate, she worked at Charles River Ventures and McKinsey and Company. Some of Ann’s investments include Lyft, Ayasdi, Xamarin, Refinery29, JoyRun, TaskRabbit, and Modcloth.

Due to the success of her investments, she was on the 2017 Midas List of top 100 venture capitalists. Ann is known for her debate skills (she placed first in the National Tournament of Champions and second in the State of California in high school) and was part of a five-person team at Yale that competed in the Robocup Competition in Paris, France. She has a BSEE from Yale and a PhD from Stanford in math modeling of computer security. She lives with her husband, three kids, and one spoiled dog. Her interests are piano, robots, and gastronomy.


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

#331: “Is That a World-Class Effort?”: The Story of Investor Ann Miura-Ko

Want to hear my interview with Ann’s business partner? — Check out my interview with Mike Maples, Jr. from venture capital firm Floodgate, the man who taught me how to invest. Stream below or right-click here to download.

#286: The Man Who Taught Me How to Invest

This podcast is brought to you by WordPress, my go-to platform for 24/7-supported, zero downtime blogging, writing online, creating websites — everything! I love it to bits, and the lead developer, Matt Mullenweg, has appeared on this podcast many times.

Whether for personal use or business, you’re in good company with WordPress, which is used by The New Yorker, Jay Z, Beyoncé, FiveThirtyEight, TechCrunch, TED, CNN, and Time, just to name a few. A source at Google told me that WordPress offers “the best out-of-the-box SEO imaginable,” which is probably why it runs nearly 30% of the Internet. Go to to get 15% off your website today!

This episode is also brought to you by LegalZoom. I’ve used this service for many of my businesses, as have quite a few of the icons on this podcast, including Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg of WordPress fame.

LegalZoom is a reliable resource that more than a million people have already trusted for everything from setting up wills, proper trademark searches, forming LLCs, setting up non-profits, or finding simple cease-and-desist letter templates.

LegalZoom is not a law firm, but it does have a network of independent attorneys available in most states who can give you advice on the best way to get started, provide contract reviews, and otherwise help you run your business with complete transparency and up-front pricing. Check out and enter promo code TIM at checkout today for special savings and see how the fine folks there can make life easier for you and your business.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


  • Connect with Ann Miura-Ko:

Floodgate | Twitter | Instagram


  • Ann was so shy as a child that her brother would have to introduce her at piano recitals. [05:35]
  • What Japanese phrase would Ann mutter at English speakers as a hostile kid growing up in Michigan? [08:21]
  • How did Ann manage to get a handle on her introversion and start opening up to people? [10:16]
  • When did Ann first speak on stage without an introduction from her brother? [13:20]
  • Why did Ann persist with speech and debate even after a rocky couple of years? [14:39]
  • Ann has always loved competition. [16:06]
  • To what dark lengths has Ann been willing to go for a slice of pizza? [16:41]
  • What catalyst turned Ann from a lousy debater into someone who won tournaments? [19:46]
  • What is the format of debate competition? [24:12]
  • What resources does Ann recommend for people who want to get better at debating and structuring arguments? [28:24]
  • Observations on what passes for modern debate — in politics and my family. [31:47]
  • Life is not a debate, and it’s not always about being right. So what does Ann feel is the most important lesson she learned during her debating years? [34:06]
  • A look at the differences between debate and negotiation in spite of their similar toolkits. [37:19]
  • Ann shares her rocket scientist father’s story of coming to America from Japan and one of his favorite phrases: “Is that a world-class effort?” [39:30]
  • How Ann made a world-class effort at a job making copies and filing, and what keeping her father’s words in mind taught her about ownership of circumstances no matter how seemingly insignificant. [43:54]
  • How giving a stranger a tour at Yale resulted in the opportunity for Ann to shadow a major company’s CEO. [46:36]
  • Ann’s first job that primed her for world-class photocopying and labeling. [53:15]
  • As an office supply connoisseur with many years of experience, what are Ann’s favorite notebooks and pens? [54:58]
  • What personal artifacts does Ann hold dear? [56:18]
  • Ann talks about teaching Mayfield Fellows at Stanford and what she loves about the program. [58:12]
  • What is the reading list for the intelligent growth in startups class Ann is teaching at Stanford now, and what’s in store for her students this quarter? [1:00:11]
  • How a potential investor might spot artificial inflation of value among startups. [1:06:03]
  • Why did Ann deviate from her initial plan to become a doctor? [1:07:20]
  • What thoughts surrounded Ann’s abandonment of the doctor track in spite of the preparation it had taken to get there, and what did she know about herself that her parents and test scores didn’t? [1:10:59]
  • How did venture capital and investing in startups enter the picture for Ann? [1:15:40]
  • “What is Steve Jobs doing in this house?” [1:16:20]
  • A job offer accepted over shared interests and an examination of the unique interview that led to it. [1:17:36]
  • Ann’s second day at CRV was 9/11. What did she observe and learn about shepherding companies and investors through a stagnant economy during her time there? [1:22:05]
  • The most expensive words in investing. [1:25:27]
  • First principles thinking and the toughest leadership decisions that Ann sees come up most commonly. [1:25:49]
  • Knowing the difference between a winning strategy versus a strategy not to lose. [1:28:45]
  • In what ways might hedging manifest as a defensive strategy? [1:30:05]
  • The importance of focusing on your own race, as demonstrated by Oprah and Dan Gable. [1:31:55]
  • Ann’s take on why you need a little bit of aggressiveness in order to have the win. [1:34:08]
  • How did Ann meet Mikes Maples, Jr.? [1:35:09]
  • Why Ann pursued a PhD in computer security, what kind of company she was planning to start, and how Mike persuaded her to work with him instead. [1:38:36]
  • What was Ann’s initial reaction to this proposition, and why was it such an unusual proposition at this time in Silicon Valley? [1:41:20]
  • Why Ann’s first year at Floodgate was so hectic — and what she considers “the most creative and probably productive” period of her life. [1:46:07]
  • What’s Ann’s real first name? [1:48:18]
  • What constitutes a struggle for Ann, and how has she coped with difficult times? [1:49:17]
  • What are Ann’s superpowers? [1:55:10]
  • What are thunder lizards, and why is Ann hunting them? [1:59:23]
  • Is the scientific method dead? How does Ann see the world changing as a result of artificial intelligence and machine learning? [2:01:10]
  • Philosophy thought exercises and real world applications. [2:04:03]
  • Societal problems that need to be solved and figuring out who’s best able to solve them. Do collective interests and self-interests have to be misaligned? [2:07:07]
  • What books has Ann gifted or reread most? [2:08:44]
  • What recent purchase of less than $100 had the most positive impact on Ann’s life? [2:11:00]
  • What would Ann’s billboard say? [2:12:27]
  • What do the Japanese characters for Ann’s first name mean? [2:13:25]
  • Where Ann can be found online, how Floodgate got its name, and parting thoughts. [2:14:30]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply

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

22 Replies to “Ann Miura-Ko — The Path from Shyness to World-Class Debater and Investor (#331)”

  1. Hello Tim! Can you please provide some insights on tools to use for beginners in investing. Do you recommend anything particular like etrade or ameritrade for purchasing stocks?

    Thanks in advance!


  2. Hello Everyone,

    Hmm… Ann Miura-Ko. Amazing, Exemplary. I think her “BillBoard” to the world could also say “What did YOU do today?”

    Love you all.

    Bruce in China.

  3. Hey Tim,

    As an orthodox Jewish guy, I have been trying to stick to the four hour bodydiet.

    Believe it or not, there are a few steps in the diet that would actually be going against a few parts of our religious daily routine, but there are good workarounds.

    In the orthodox Jewish world, there are an extremely small amount of diet books, and I think making a book that is custom made for us, would not only be a major help, but would also draw lots of attention. Like I said, there aren’t really diet books out there, and I know that we are struggling with our health and weight all the time.

    I would be interested in connecting up to work on it, just letting you know that I am a nobody, and I’m sure there are better qualified, more talented people that can work on it in place of me.

  4. Hi Tim, my comment is in regard to 5bullet Friday and oregano oil. I don’t do Twitter.

    When taking essential oils orally you should always take them diluted in a capsule. Otherwise you irritate your delicate mucous membranes. The burn is not a good sign.

    Oregano is indeed a great oil. If you’re interested in essential oils research and safety look up Robert Tisserand. He’s an Oldtimer in this field. You might find something interesting.

    Greetings, Karin

    1. I’m a huge believer in Oil of Oregano. I take it in capsules – no burn and just as effective. I combine it with grapefruit seed extract and take both at the first hint (scratchy throat, sniffles, etc.) of a cold or flu, and after flying. I haven’t had a cold or flu in at least 5 years.

  5. Awesome episode! Thank you Tim.

    Favorite quote: “urusaina!”

    Favorite lesson: Choosing a job is a question about “What job would you be willing to put in a world-class effort?” and not as much about if you are currently producing world-class results. It was very inspiring to hear about Ann’s winding road from pre-med, investing, PhD, and back to investing. Wished you would have dug a bit deeper about things she proactively decides to NOT put in a world-class effort in order to maintain balance in her life.

  6. What an awesome episode. I have been asking myself “is this world class?” for everything from cutting the grass to crossfit workouts. It is a serious motivator. Thank you Tim and Ann.

  7. Loved discussion of limitations of scientific method, enterprise software, applications of AI; pen & notebook rec, HBS case studies recs.. refreshing to hear a female voice in this industry. Career path story is inspiring. Genuine interview that rolls so smoothly especially in the second half.

  8. Dear Tim,

    I’m a Brazilian singer and would love to send a few songs. What is the best way to do that?

    I’ve been following you for a long time. Love everything you do!

  9. Hello Mr. Ferriss, a while back you recommended a CBD Oil in one of your 5-Bullet Friday emails. I have tried to find it on your website, but can’t. Could you re-post that? I’m looking for a quality oil.


  10. Awesome episode and inspiring lady. As a small business owner with a baby on the way, I totally needed to hear the part about how she kept it all together whilst completing her PHD. Thanks for the show as always Tim!

  11. Hello Tim.

    I couldn’t find any ways to communicate through so I’m asking my question here. Hope you’d answer it 🙂

    I have started the slow-carb diet as you described in the book, it’s been 2 weeks. There is a product that looks like green pasta but it’s made of 100% split peas. I’ve been having it with some meat and 100% bio tomato paste and it tastes awesome. Just wanted to check if it’s OK to have it as veggies in some meals.

    Thanks for your time.

    Mahsa Maslahati

  12. I have listened to 80% of your podcasts and this one is far and away my favorite. I have a daughter who is a biomedical engineer and her life quote is “There will always be smarter and more talented people, however, never let someone work harder than you”. I will forward Ann’s quote, “Effort matters”

  13. Love her idea of taking an offensive, rather than a defensive, strategy…”we’re here to win it”…another excellent interview, Tim!

  14. Hi Tim.

    This conversation definitely went all over the place, but I guess this is a good thing as far as the quantity of information goes.

    Thinking about it … the quote you put at the beginning of each podcast post and the billboard question is probably the 80% most of us can remember when thinking about specific podcast episodes. However, for this one, I’d say the “world-class” part is the most memorable, as it was mentioned several time along the episode.

    ~Felix Dragoi

  15. I am a fan! Your material is such a great source of inspiration, tools and methods to make life richer, creative and intetional in many areas (diary, happy body, meditations x 2 etc.).

    – but… relationships.

    This topic is neglected in your podcasts (exept for brilliant ep. with E. Perel) and I would personally find it so interesting, I think the whole world would!

    Coming from here – how do you meet new people? I really struggle with that – I do sports, work full time, go on camps and retreats – but so few connections are worth pursuing. I have a group from earlier days but it’s so hard to make new friends in adult life. And find boyfriend (after a split up from 10 yrs of relationship)…

    Any hacks, hints or methods here?

    Do you know any material good for that? Podcasts, books? To apply Ray Dalio’s method – other people must have gone through that as well 🙂 Where to find guidance?

    You might find this interesting – transformational breath, horrible website though: [Moderator: link removed.]

    And have you heard anything about: [Moderator: link to book The Presence Process removed.]

    Would be soo interested in your insight!

    Probably you will never read that – anyway I send you loads of greetings from Warsaw, Poland!

  16. Ann’s comment about have a strategy of “winning” vs. “not losing” was on point. Working at a startup in a competitive space, you’re constantly keeping tabs on your competitors and trying to maintain parity with features your competitors release. My key takeaway here is be aggressive, make big bets on your vision, and stay on the offense.

  17. I really enjoy all of your podcasts and learn so much from each one. Loved how Ann spoke to the essential power of effort. Nice to hear from someone who makes it look easy because she is brilliant.