Please enjoy this transcript of another episode of The Random Show with serial entrepreneur, world-class investor, eagle scout, and all around wild and crazy guy Kevin Rose (@KevinRose). We discuss Kevin’s new diet obsession that may have just saved his life for many decades to come, fatherhood, minimalism, lifetime learning, ways to dial back alcohol consumption, lessons learned from Tony Robbins, most recommended books, and much more. Transcripts may contain a few typos—with some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy!
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Tim Ferriss: Hello, boys and girls, mogwai and gremlins. This is Tim Ferriss. Welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show. If you’re looking for perhaps some type of high-brow intellectual long-form conversation, you might want to go to tim.blog/podcast for one of my other long-form interviews.
Kevin Rose: Don’t sell us short, dude. Come on.
Tim Ferriss: Hold on, Kevin. I haven’t introduced you yet. But for those of you who enjoy the random, helter-skelter (is that a right word?) –
Kevin Rose: Yeah, I think it is.
Tim Ferriss: – nature – well, I’m going to run with it, of the random show, which we haven’t had an episode of for a very, very long time. It is a conversation between yours truly and my good friend, Kevin Rose.
Kevin Rose: Guest No. 1 on The Tim Ferriss Show.
Tim Ferriss: That’s true. You were Guest No. 1. The very first episode of The Tim Ferriss Show.
Kevin Rose: Actually, that’s in my LinkedIn bio now. It’s my claim to fame.
Tim Ferriss: It’s in your Google+ bio.
Kevin Rose: That’s right.
Tim Ferriss: We have not done a random show for a long time. But I’ll let you do, if you want to do an introduction, of the random show.
Kevin Rose: I don’t think we even need to anymore.
Tim Ferriss: I don’t think we need to.
Kevin Rose: We don’t even know what episode we’re on. Like, for those of you who have heard the random show before, I think we’ve done probably, if I had to guess, I’d say maybe 25 episodes?
Tim Ferriss: Something like that – 25 to 50 episodes.
Kevin Rose: So we’re Episode 27, let’s call it.
Tim Ferriss: Episode 27. Kevin, for people who don’t know you, what’s your story? What would you like people to know about you?
Kevin Rose: That’s a good question.
Tim Ferriss: What’s the speaker bio version of Kevin Rose?
Kevin Rose: I don’t even know these days. No, seriously, I would say that I’ve been a long-time internet entrepreneur. I probably am best known for creating the social news website Digg back in 2004. That grew to become a pretty big entity for a number of years. Then I was at Google as an investor and now I’m at True Ventures as an investor. Tim, you and I have probably co-invested on maybe a dozen or so angel deals?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, at least.
Kevin Rose: Facebook together. I think Twitter together.
Tim Ferriss: Twitter together, Blue Bottle Coffee together.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, a bunch of them.
Tim Ferriss: Side note: do you remember how ridiculed we all were when the consortium of techies and non-techies invested in Blue Bottle Coffee? Do you remember how much shit we got on the internet for that?
Kevin Rose: Yeah, absolutely. They’re like, “Why would Blue Bottle need to raise money?” But it’s done okay. It had a great exit here just about a month ago.
Tim Ferriss: It has done all right. It was, what, a majority stake acquisition by Nestlé for $700 million or so. So, it worked out.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, it worked out.
Tim Ferriss: So, you’ve done very well as an investor. You are obsessed with many things Japanese. You have a new obsession, it seems, every few weeks. Do you have anything new to add? Actually, I want to hear about the fast mimicking diet. Because this is something – I would have put money on you never sticking with the fast mimicking diet and maybe you can explain for people what that means. But you’ve actually now done a number of scheduled 5-day?
Kevin Rose: That’s right. 5-day FMD. I’ll start by saying that probably the reason why, Tim, you and I are friends – I met you when you were launching your first book on your boat party that you did. You rented out a warship in the San Francisco Bay.
Tim Ferriss: The S.S. Jeremiah, where they recorded a lot of the boiler room audio for the James Cameron movie, Titanic, in fact.
Kevin Rose: Oh, crazy. That’s awesome. But we hit it off because we both love all kinds of this idea of lifelong learning I think has been a theme that you and I both enjoy. I’ve certainly got really into biohacking in the last couple years. I’ve watched you from afar poke and prod yourself and squirt all different kinds of juices out of your elbow.
Tim Ferriss: This requires a little bit of explanation. This is so gross. But now I have to explain it. I had a botched PRP injection, which is platelet-rich plasma injection, in my right elbow. People can look up PRP. It actually has some fantastic applications. But there was a botched injection, which pushed effectively subcutaneous bacteria into the elbow capsule itself and it turned into this horrible infection that required debridement and surgery and so on. But Kevin, being the good friend that he is, came to visit me in the ER when I was having – I’m not sure you would call is synovial fluid – the infection fluid –
Kevin Rose: It was the pus drained out of your elbow, basically.
Tim Ferriss: The pus drained out of my elbow with this gigantic syringe. Being the mature adult that I am, I thought it would be funny to take this turkey baster-worth of elbow fluid out of the sharps container and squirt it at Kevin, who was in the room. I’m not proud of it, but I don’t regret it, either. So, yes, you’ve seen me do a lot and make a lot of short-term decisions that haven’t turned out very well in the world of biohacking.
Kevin Rose: It’s always entertaining though. Got to say. Had a lot of fun doing stupid shit together. But speaking of, well, probably not that dumb these days, but fasting. So, I got into fasting here probably about three years ago, two and a half to three years ago. I started fasting app Zero, which is a free fasting tracker. That has really kind of blown up and taken off. But then I started hearing about the research from Dr. Valter Longo. It actually was from a friend of mine, you know Mike Mazur, a mutual friend of ours.
Tim Ferriss: Yup.
Kevin Rose: Mike was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. He went into chemotherapy treatment and he was one of the guys that said, I’m not going to just take what they give me, but I’m going to go out and do my own research and see what else I can be doing to help fight this and beat this down. One of the things that came up was this idea of doing these 5-day FMDs. FMD stays for fasting mimicking diet. The idea is that compliance of doing a standard 5-day fast is relatively low. It’s am extremely difficult thing to do. Tim, have you ever done a 5-day water-only fast? Have you tried?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I’ve done 5, 7, and 10-day.
Kevin Rose: I’ve done a 5-day water-only, and I will tell you, it is absolutely brutal. I don’t know what your experience was, but I had a really difficult time sleeping.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, there’s a, I believe it’s a cholinergic effect that leads you have rapid heartbeat quite often, when you’re trying to sleep. It’s not pleasant. So, you’ll be exhausted and you’ll lay down in bed and you’ll feel like you just ran a 100-meter sprint in terms of heartbeat. It’s very unpleasant.
Kevin Rose: It’s kind of scary. I’m also one of those people that get those early heartbeats, where you feel like your heart skips a beat. They’re completely benign. I’ve had it looked at it and everything’s fine, but I get those every once in a while and those come more frequently when I’m in a fasted state. So, long story short, Mike does this 5-day fast. He beats back cancer. He’s in full remission, which is awesome. But the idea with the 5-day fast –
Tim Ferriss: Can I interrupt you one more time? I think this, I don’t think Mike would mind this, but I remember you and I when we were talking about this – did he do 5 or 3? I can’t recall.
Kevin Rose: I’m sorry, you’re right. He did 3.
Tim Ferriss: He did 3. Just for those who are curious, I’ve had conversations with Dominic D’Agostino before on this podcast. He’s a very well-published researcher. I was first introduced to the possibility that fasting prior to chemotherapy, I believe, and reduction, it could be either, has the potential to increase the resilience of normal cells while increasing the susceptibility or weakness of cancer cells to facilitate this type of treatment, but also to decrease the side effect that are commonly experienced. So, Mike, t my understanding, would do a 3-day fast before a session and while the other people in his cohort were laid out on the couch or in bed the next day, he’d be running a 10-mile training run.
Kevin Rose: Right, which is just insane.
Tim Ferriss: Which is nuts.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, and so he originally when he got turned on to this research by Dr. Longo, he showed me this YouTube video where they were giving rats chemotherapy. The rats that were fasted were just running around the cage. They looked like normal, healthy rats. The ones that didn’t fast were just, like you said, on their side, all beat up and in a horrible state. That’s exactly what Mike experienced. The idea is that making the chemotherapy more effective is that you’re depriving the cancer cells of some nutrients, certainly sugar, less glucose, and it makes them more susceptible to the chemotherapy treatments, so the chemotherapy is that much more effective.
Obviously, we can’t say for certain whether that’s what put him into remission, but he’s really happy that it did work. He is in remission and the evidence looks pretty compelling in humans. They’re also extending this whole protocol to healthy individuals as a way to potentially prevent cancer from even forming in the first place. I was turned onto Dr. Valter Longo’s new book, The Longevity Diet. I had him on my podcast. Have you see this book yet?
Tim Ferriss: I have seen that. I haven’t read it, but I have seen it.
Kevin Rose: It’s pretty awesome. There’s a whole chapter on his FMD protocol and what you need to do these 5-day fasts, getting into what it actually is. How it differs from a water-only fast is that you do have calories. So, you have around 700 calories or so per day. Some people say that sounds like a lot. Some people say it sounds like a little. It’s actually not much food. It’s like a handful of small soup and some crackers. The first day, it’s so not bad. You’re like, oh, I can do this. Like, some crackers and a little bit of soup. Then day two and day three, and you’re like, oh, my God, I’m dying, right? But it’s not nearly as bad as water-only. But the idea is that you eat just enough good to still get into this fasted state.
So, all of your inflammation markers, all of the different markers that they’re looking at in your blood, they look just like you’re doing a water-only fast, but with a minimal amount of food. So, you have a little bit of, not as much hunger, and a little bit more energy. And so the compliance is much higher.
Tim Ferriss: Were you tracking – when you do these FMDs, have you tracked your ketone levels at all? Do you get into ketosis or does the small amount of carbohydrate and so on that you’re consuming keep you out of ketosis?
Kevin Rose: I get a mild, I would say I get around .5 or so millimolars, so it’s a very mild –
Tim Ferriss: That’s right on the edge.
Kevin Rose: Right, which is kind of brutal because you’re kind of in the keto flu-symptom area. So, you’re not fully into ketosis. This is really interesting because Peter Attia, who you’ve had on the show a few times, he’s my doctor and I know you work with him as well. We played around with this protocol in that Attia has put together an FMD diet that is a lot more ketogenic friendly. So, a lot heavier on the fats and a lot less on the refined carbohydrates. So, for example, when you’re doing Longo’s version of this diet, and he actually has a nonprofit called ProLon, so you’d actually just order this kit. So, I get a kit in the mail that has all the pre-packaged food. If you’re watching the video version of this, this is what it looks like here. I just happen to have one. This is Day 5.
Tim Ferriss: What does the nonprofit do with the money they get? Because it looks very –
Kevin Rose: It goes back into research.
Tim Ferriss: It goes back into research.
Kevin Rose: That’s right. Longo doesn’t receive any of the money at all. He doesn’t take a salary. This is meant for people that want to create a little autophagy, a little cell death, generate new stem cells, which he has proven actually happens via this 5-day method. The thing that hooked me though is I have had an elevated cholesterol on my whole father’s side of the family. That’s turned into heart disease with my Dad and him passing away from a heart attack. My Grandpa passed away from a heart attack. My Grandma on my Dad’s side passed away from a heart attack. So, it’s running deep. It’s a little bit scary.
Now that I’m 40, I’ve got these pretty bad numbers. So much so that Attia has put me on Crestor, which is knocking back the bad cholesterol with the statin, but obviously I’d prefer not to be on a statin. Anyway, long story short, because of his book, The Longevity Diet, I was reading through it and he said that he was seeing people that did the 5-day fast, they were improving their cholesterol numbers and they were getting more good cholesterol and less bad cholesterol. I was like, oh, that sounds interesting, I might as well give this a shot. But to give it a proper shot, you’re supposed to do – and I talked to Longo about this – but three back-to-back 5-day fasts over three months, and then once a quarter.
Tim Ferriss: So, there’s like a loading phase of fasting, where you do whatever, the first week of each month for three months and then –
Kevin Rose: It’s the creatine of fasting.
Tim Ferriss: Right, and then you do maintenance once a quarter thereafter.
Kevin Rose: That’s right.
Tim Ferriss: Okay.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, so I did the first 5-day fast three months ago. I had my bloodwork drawn pre and post. Small minor improvements. Second fast, same thing. Then by the third, we actually saw a dramatic drop on a few different fronts cholesterol-wise. Attia, when he called me up, because we do these little calls to go over my bloodwork, he was like, “Kevin, you’re going to live to 90 if you can keep this up. This is amazing.” He was shocked. He was blown away. We’re pretty happy with the results. We’ll see how long they stick. This is no dietary changes. Granted, there’s a dietary change during those five days, but no long-term. I’m still kind of sticking to the same diet that I’ve always been sticking to.
Tim Ferriss: I like that he was so specific with 90. That’s lower than I would’ve expected, so it must be all the meth that you’re doing that’s going to kill you.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, I still do a dose of meth every now and then. Actually, speaking of meth, dude, I just did some L-theanine for the first time today. Have you tried this with coffee?
Tim Ferriss: It is very interesting stuff, to be sure.
Kevin Rose: Oh, my God, dude. I’d never tried it before. I took a pill, 200 milligrams this morning, and I was out with a mutual friend, Tony Conrad. We met for coffee and I gave him a pill too. We were like cracked out for like three hours, man.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, so this observing of the biohacking is a mutual arrangement that Kevin and I have. It’s not just him watching squirting fluid out of my elbow. I also observe things that you do. On the FMD though, just to return to that for a second, you mentioned in passing that Attia had looked at the possibility of doing a lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat version.
Kevin Rose: He actually has a protocol for that, yeah. I’m sure he’d give you the pdf if you ask for it for the podcast notes.
Tim Ferriss: Have you tried it?
Kevin Rose: I did. I did that for the second one. I liked it, actually I just happened to buy a 3-pack of the ProLon kit, so I wanted to go through them and use because they’re not cheap and so I just used that for the last one. But I like Attia’s in that it’s a little bit more work, obviously, because you’re preparing your own food, but his is different in that with ProLon you get these little, tiny snacks throughout the entire day. With his, it’s one meal a day and it’s just a salad. It’s greens and three tablespoons or four tablespoons of olive oil and like six olives and some sunflower seeds. It’s not a whole lot, but it certainly gives you – but it’s not as refined. So, I saw my ketone levels go up on his. I certainly had more energy on his versus the ProLon.
Tim Ferriss: Got it. I’ll ping Peter about that. It makes sense on multiple levels that you would have higher ketone levels. For people who are wondering how one would measure ketone levels, I think you and I still use the same device, which is the Precision Xtra by Abbott Labs, which does a sufficient job in measuring something called BHB, beta hydroxybutyrate in the blood.
For a number of different reasons, this is a much more precise and accurate, let’s just call is precise, but consistently precise — maybe it’s accurate, maybe it isn’t – method of measuring ketones or the degree to which you’re in ketosis than pee sticks. Because as your body becomes, or if you’re already very efficient at using ketone bodies, you could show a false negative. Where you pee on the stick and it tells you you’re not in ketosis, when in fact you are. So, the blood is just more accurate. I’m glad you’re going to live 90. That makes me happy.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, it was a pretty cool experiment and certainly for someone who has heart disease running in their family, I’m going to keep it up. I’m going to do another blood draw here next week to see where my levels are at and then I’m trying to do this quarterly. Hopefully, if we can get it down to where I won’t be using statins any longer, that’d be great.
Tim Ferriss: The last time we did a random show, it was a very, very long time ago, I believe. I was at least before you had a little monkey in your house. A reason, many reasons, of course, to stick around, but now a very compelling new reason. So, how would you describe – since certainly I have no kids that I’m aware of at this point –
Kevin Rose: That’s a good disclaimer there.
Tim Ferriss: I don’t have kids – *that I know of. What have been the biggest changes that you’ve felt or observed in yourself or otherwise? How you view the world? Anything like that now that you have a kid? And what is your kid’s name?
Kevin Rose: Zelda. She’s four months old. She’s named after the video game because one of the first things that my wife and I bonded on very early in our relationship was our love for the game Zelda. Actually, the new Zelda game allows you to track your hours played. It actually shows it in the little settings menu. Darya has over 200 hours played of the latest Zelda. She’s hardcore. She played a lot during her pregnancy.
Tim Ferriss: She’s a true believer. And when we were in Japan a long time ago, Darya was using some time of emulator, I don’t know what device it was on exactly, but she was playing Zelda on all the trains when we were sitting down and chilling. That’s one thing I remember.
Kevin Rose: The original. Yeah, Josh Cook was too.
Tim Ferriss: That’s right.
Kevin Rose: It’s fun to play the original ones with those old-school emulators. But yeah, in terms of her, it’s hard for, I think, a guy in that when you have your first child, there’s not a whole lot to do. There’s just a lot of crying. I tried to help out where I can but rly she was on her mom’s hip for the first several weeks and there’s a lot of getting used to new things. Now, it’s just amazing, dude. You walk into a room and she lights up when she sees me for the first time. She smiles and giggles. It kind of changes the way that I want to approach life in terms of what things are important and trying to make more time to be a good father.
For someone like myself that has so many varying interests and certainly can get sucked into new things pretty easily, I’ve been trying to be a little bit more thoughtful about where and when I spend my energy so that I can kind of dial back. I’ve spent a good portion of this year trying to live a little bit more of a minimalist lifestyle.
Tim Ferriss: What are some of the steps that you’ve taken to do that? I feel like you and I have had this conversation every year since we first met. But now, you actually have a gigantic incentive to follow through.
Kevin Rose: Well, it’s funny. Every time Tim and I get together, it’s like oh, man. I’ve got too many investments. I’m doing this. There’s too many things going on. I’ve got to spend my time here. We’re always more or less complaining to each other of us taking on too many things. It’s so ridiculous. So, I’ve just been trying to implement a few rules. One of the things I did starting January 1st was to throw away or donate something every single day. So, I have forced myself to go in and – for example, I went in and I just picked out all the clothes that I haven’t touched in a year and I took them down the street, like half a block away is a donation place, and I donated anything that I hadn’t worn in a year. It really thins out your closet.
Tim Ferriss: Was that easy for you to do?
Kevin Rose: Yes, absolutely.
Tim Ferriss: It was? There was no resistance? You weren’t like, “But that’s the sweater that my Auntie Janie gave me.”
Kevin Rose: Who’s the lady you had on your podcast that wrote that book?
Tim Ferriss: Marie Kondo. Technically, Marie Kondo is how they would say it in Japanese, but Marie Kondo.
Kevin Rose: Marie Kondo. Yeah, she’s awesome. I listed to her audiobook and one of the things that she says in her audiobook is that “The way that you can depart with something is to realize that it has already taught you its lesson. That lesson may be that it wasn’t for you.” If you have it hanging in your closet and you look at it and you’re like, “Oh, but someday I might….” No, the lesson is that it spent its time with you, it wasn’t for you, and it should go to good home where it can be appreciated by someone else. My lesson is not to buy it again. I took that and I’ve applied that to thinning out pretty much everything in my life.
I think a lot of people, there’s this analysis paralysis thing where you think about cleaning out the garage or you’re thinking about doing this massive overhaul in your life and you’re like, it’s the weekend, I’ve got to do this. There’s always something that jumps in front of it in terms of priorities. For me, I find that if I just say, okay, one thing a day. At the end of year, I may not be to my goal, but after five years, I certainly will. It’s not like I have that much stuff. But really saying, do I need this in my life? Is it bringing joy to my life? It’s such a good forcing function to get rid of a lot of stuff. Everything you get rid of is actually less of a mental load on you.
There was this old tea master that I met one time. Tim and I have done some crazy travels all throughout China in tea lands.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, the stories we could tell.
Kevin Rose: Seriously. We’ve done some crazy stuff in the middle of the Yunnan province. Nothing sexual. That was our friend. We had a friend that did something. So, long story short, the one thing that this tea master showed me was he pulled out of his pocket one key. He showed me the one key. He goes, “Kevin, do you know what this is?” I was like, “It’s a key.” He’s like, “Yeah, it’s the key to my house. This is my one key. I’ve worked my entire life to have one key.” Because we can all have multiple keys. Meaning the things that you purchase. Whether you have a key to your boat or your spare garage or a motorcycle or whatever it may be.
There’s things in your life that you accumulate and the least amount of burden and the most happiness you can get is having less stuff to worry about. And so I find that to be really true. That’s what I’ve been trying to focus on is having less and being happy with a handful of high-quality things.
Tim Ferriss: I also want to mention that it’s possible to read a book like Marie Kondo’s book, which I can never remember the title of it. I want to say The Magic Art of Japanese Tidying Up, but no, it’s something close. It’s like The Art of, The Joy of Magic Cleaning Up. I can never remember the exact phrasing. I don’t know why. But in any case, that cult following with her book leads some readers to think it’s an all-or-nothing, take-it-or-leave-it approach. You, on the other hand, have philosophically found bits and pieces of that book that are very useful to you but are tactically doing the opposite of what she recommends, but it works for you.
So, she recommends doing this once-in-a-lifetime tidying Super Bowl, basically, where you block out two or three days of your life and that’s what you do and then the rest is maintenance. It’s kind of like the Fast Mimicking Diet of Japanese tidying. You have this loading phase. I’ve had this book – I actually am looking at it on my bookshelf right now – for like two years. I’m just like, “Man, I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it.” Then I’m like, two to three days? I look at my calendar and I’m like, “No, I’m not going to do it. I’m just not going to do it.” I like the idea tactically of one at a time. One per day.
Also, what’s helped me, because I have actually been, since I moved to Austin not too long ago, it’s been a great opportunity after boxing everything up. Okay, do I really want to box all this stuff or do I just want to donate a lot of this because it might be from a 1 to 10 scale of value a 2 to me, or maybe a 1, maybe a 3. But I could donate this very to Goodwill or somewhere else to say a high school gym that needs equipment, which is something I’ve done in the past, and it’s an immediate 8, 9, or 10. It’s a nice karmic chess move to donate. You think of not what you’re losing, but also what you’re giving to someone else in that respect, which I find really helpful. So you’re giving away one item per day.
Kevin Rose: The other thing, too, I will tell you along those lines is that if there is a purchase that I want to make that is not just what I would consider to be a necessity like toilet paper or whatever it may be, and it’s something that is luxury, not luxury but in the sense of it’s going to cost you over $100, and I don’t necessarily need it, but I kind of want to try it, what I do is I save for later on Amazon. So you can add and say save for later. Set a reminder in your calendar app for a week or two weeks later. Almost 90 percent of the time I end up not buying that thing. I still have one thing in there actually from you. It’s that NAC supplement. Should I buy that? I haven’t bought it yet?
Tim Ferriss: Well, NAC, I should say with all of this stuff that we’re discussing because it bears repeating. We are not doctors; we don’t play them on the internet. Everybody should assume that at least 50 percent of what we’re saying is complete fucking nonsense and we are just not sure which 50 percent it is. So, work with a qualified professional before you start taking or stopping any type of medication or supplement. The NAC came to me initially because I was looking at it as a means to accelerate recovery between workouts. My understanding – I might be getting this wrong – but is that it is a precursor to glutathione, which some people think of as this master antioxidant or upstream antioxidant that a host of beneficial effects.
What I noticed in taking the NAC is that I was over the period of a week to 10 days, perhaps seven, eight days into it, that I was more even-keeled than was typical. Like the week had been very smooth. I hadn’t change anything else that I could identify. I’d been either meditating or not meditating for a series of weeks. There were a lot of constants. When I went onto PubMed and began to look at N-Acetyl Cysteine and search for other terms, like “depression” or “bipolar,” and so on, there were a number of search results that popped up that seemed to indicate to me that there was some promise in using NAC to mitigate the amplitude of the ups and downs that could be associated with bipolar.
That’s the primary reason that, for period of time, and I cycle off of all of these things. I became very fascinated by NAC, which quite nicely does have potentially recovery benefits from an athletic standpoint, although most of my athletic prowess has been focused on eating oatmeal cookies recently, so I can’t really claim that I’m doing a lot of killer workouts. I got Rhabdo from eating oatmeal cookies. For you CrossFitters out there, that’s for you. The other would be something you and I are both familiar with, which is low-dose lithium orotate, very, very low-dose lithium orotate, 5 mgs, which you can find on Amazon and elsewhere.
There’s a great New York Times article which people can find very easily that is titled along the lines of “Maybe We All Just Need a Little Bit of Lithium.” It talks about the inverse correlation of groundwater concentrations of lithium with, I want to say at least reported, suicide, homicide, manic depression, and so on. Those two, for me, function in tandem or at least appeal to me for very similar reasons. So, the NAC, should you use it or not, I think is a question of whether you feel you need it. For me, at least currently, I get asked all the time, what are your Top 10 supplements that you’re using right now? Because people have this impression after reading The 4-Hour Body and so on that I walk around with a drip IV bag in my arm and have a thousand pills I’m taking four times a day.
Kevin Rose: Well, I’ve certainly seen you in that mode.
Tim Ferriss: You have seen me in that mode, but my mode right now is to really ensure that I am using supplements as supplements. That I’m not using them to absolve me of the responsibility to eat proper food, for instance. It’s like look, if you’re drinking a lot and you’re like compulsively watching porn and not exercising and mainlining Pixie sticks for your diet and you’re like, “Wow, I’m depressed. Maybe I should take 15 different supplements.” It’s like no, you need to fucking fix the rest of your life and then see what your baseline is because you’re creating so much static and noise and garbage inputs that you don’t even know what your baseline is. It’s so disguised with sort of the trauma and confusion of your inputs.
Kevin Rose: Do you track your baseline? Do you log what you consume and what you take?
Tim Ferriss: This is going to sound so primitive and it is, but my baseline is really how do I feel when I wake up? Do I want to stay in bed because I don’t want to face the day? Am I anxious? Are those my first thoughts coming out of bed? Assuming that I’m not checking my phone, right? Because it’s really my starting state out of the gate of sleep to wakefulness. Then at night, how much trouble do I have sleeping? If any. Or do I fall asleep easily? How deep is my sleep? So for deepness of sleep, you could certainly use something like an aura ring or an accelerometer. There are different means by which you could try to assess the quality of your sleep.
But for me, really looking at how consistently I feel good waking up and how long it takes me to get up to say first or second gear. It historically has taken me a long time to go from park to second or third gear. Some people wake up – you might be one of these people – they’re like, “Fuck it, world! Here I am! I’m ready to party!” That’s not me. I have a real slow build.
Kevin Rose: I think in between you and that. I’m definitely not ready to party the second I wake up. I am after coffee. I have a cup of coffee, I’m ready to party.
Tim Ferriss: I feel that way, if, for instance, I’m in ketosis, past about 2 millimolars. I need less sleep. So, let’s call it six versus eight hours. And when I take up, I am awake. Versus feeling groggy for an hour or two, hour and a half. Which can be remedied somewhat by the psychological advantage of exercising in the morning, which is one thing I’ve been scheduling to do more of per Jocko Willink, a retired Navy SEAL commander and all-around intense dude.
Kevin Rose: Badass. Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Intense, accomplished guy. People can find him at tim.blog/jocko. Jocko’s first-ever public interview. I’m thrilled to have unleashed the giant, white gorilla on the internet. Baseline though, to return to your question, is really something I try to keep as simple as possible. Do I and have I measured all of those other things? Yes. But I think that whether it’s with your body or with a business, or any number of other things, it’s really easy to become addicted to measuring things that don’t matter very much. Or worse still, measuring things that will distract you from the things that do matter. Does that make sense?
Kevin Rose: Yeah, that totally makes sense. I’ve tried to pare it down to just the stuff I really care about. I just sent you a link in our video chat to my dashboard for the things I measure every day. So, for me, I’m really concerned about my glucose levels because they are a tiny bit elevated. So, I do waking glucose, bedtime glucose. I do whether I meditated that day or not. I do how many hours I fasted the night prior. I do how many drinks I’ve had and then I do what type of workout, whether I had tea or coffee that day, and then my food. But food not in terms of a by-the-calorie, super-anal kind of breakdown, but really just typing out what I ate for that day as a way to hold myself accountable and just look over the last few days at a glance and see if I’ve been behaving or not. So, I find that just the act of writing it down makes me behave a little bit better.
Tim Ferriss: It does. Okay, that was going to be my question. How does that actually impact your behavior?
Kevin Rose: This is a fascinating question. I did an experiment here about three weeks ago with a group of five friends. I created this spreadsheet that we all logged into every single day. What you do is you record the number of drinks you had the night before. I was thinking about turning this into an app, although I’m not going to do it. But I was interested in trying to create social pressure to drink less. Not to drink more, but to drink less. The thing that I found that was really interesting is that if you drink over two drinks in a night, people have some shame in reporting that, so they will mis-report. If you went out and you had four, five drinks, it’s like, “I don’t want to be the guy who had four drinks.”
Tim Ferriss: The one asshole on the spreadsheet.
Kevin Rose: Right, exactly. So, I changed it then so the spreadsheet would only say 2+. So that’s the max you could go. Then people were more open to being like, “Yeah, I had 2+ last night.” They were a lot more at ease, but it still created a little bit of social pressure and personal pressure if you looked at your list and you’re like, “Ooh, there’s been four nights of 2+ there. I should probably do a night without drinking.” So, my idea was to create an app that would allow you just to say up to 2+ and see all of your friends in the same arena and then hopefully encourage you to be able to drink socially but not take it too far.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, this brings up all sorts of really fascinating and frustrated methodological questions in terms of designing this type of reporting, right? Because I was thinking to myself as you were saying this, well, if you had a larger group, say a group of 200 people, one would expect you would have more people in that group reporting drinking 2, 3, 4 drinks on any given night. So, the shame factor would be decreased, but if you decrease the shame factor, that also decreases the incentive to actually behave, right? Because you can blend into this perceived acceptability of being like well, there are 10 other people out of 200 who had four drinks last night. That’s totally fine.
Kevin Rose: Well, the question is, how well do you know the people? So, how tight are they in your social connections in your peer group? Like Brenden Mulligan – I’ll call him out because he’s a friend of ours. He works at Google. He never drinks. He has like one drink. One drink. One drink every four days or whatever. Seeing him hit those streaks of like zero drinks, zero drinks, that was also a pretty powerful thing. I’m saying I need to be more like Brenden. I need to dial it back. So, it goes both ways.
Tim Ferriss: That’s true. I suppose if you’re seeing friends of yours doing well who have demanding jobs, demanding relationships, you can’t use that as your excuse when you have the data right in front of you showing that they’re actually behaving. So, you historically have been a non-trivial drinker, let’s call it. Like a minor league all-star of booze consumption.
Kevin Rose: I used to drink a lot more, to be honest. You can see my spreadsheet here.
Tim Ferriss: So, what has helped you most to decrease the amount that you drink?
Kevin Rose: Well, I think there is fear. I’ve seen a bunch of studies, there was one that was just published here a couple weeks ago, the largest study ever around dementia and alcohol abuse. They’ve very closely linked, which is really frightening. I think wanting to live longer for my daughter is another one, back to the point you had earlier about what has changed. And just getting older. Hangovers happen at 2.5 drinks these days. Why roll the dice? For me, to get to your question around what have I done differently, there’s a couple things. One, I’ve set aside time to learn at night, which I think is really important. You really can’t drink and learn at the same time.
Tim Ferriss: Or remember what you attempt to learn.
Kevin Rose: Exactly. The second thing that has been huge for me though has been the sauna. The sauna has been massive because it is like four drinks or three drinks, just by going and doing a 30-minute, high-intense heat sauna session. You come home and you sleep like a baby. If you don’t have a sauna, that can also be substituted with a really hot bath. It’s always been about I’m with my wife, I’m sitting down, and we’re going to crack open a bottle of wine, and I’ll have a couple glasses of wine. It’s never been like, “Hey, let’s go party!” Those days are long gone. Like a decade-plus gone. No, don’t look at me like that!
Tim Ferriss: A decade-plus?
Kevin Rose: Listen, if we’re out traveling together, Tim, we’re going to have fun, right?
Tim Ferriss: Okay.
Kevin Rose: So, the only times you and I hang is when we’re traveling together, so you can’t put that on me.
Tim Ferriss: All right, fair enough. We’re in different cities now. I will say, for those people who are like, wait – they can see each other? We are doing a very intimate video chat on Skype that you will be able to see on my YouTube channel, youtube.com/timferriss. Kevin is dressed for success, I will note.
Kevin Rose: I just had a park meeting this morning, so we dress up a little bit.
Tim Ferriss: I appreciate it. So, I gave you that look. Traveling is a bit of an exception. How do you prevent yourself – you have traveled a lot. In some cases, historically. Now, that may change with your daughter, but how do you prevent that from becoming the excuse to drink that happens frequently? Does that make sense? Because this happens in all sorts of capacities, right? Where people will say, “Oh, you’re traveling, you should eat pizza every night.” I hear that and I’m like if I followed that role, I’d be Jabba the Hut, because I end up traveling so much. If I allowed myself that out, it would become a real problem.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, traveling is difficult, especially when it’s in a social setting. If you combine traveling with social. I’ll be going to TED in a couple weeks and I know that there’s just going to be a lot of parties and a lot of events and a lot of drinking. I think that’s one of the things that I need to work on is that I have a hard time dealing with large groups of people that I don’t know. As a social lubricant, alcohol is amazing, right? It’s like, what else can we do? I think that someone was telling me that you never really strengthen that muscle if you’re leaning on the crutch of alcohol. So, you’re never going to become more comfortable with new humans and new interactions and new ways of breaking the ice if you always just go to the booze, right?
So, I think of it like, this is my workout that I’m going into. I’ve got a couple little hacks. One is to show up a little bit late, so then you skip a drink, right? It’s funny how if you skip a drink or two and you get there and people are already a little hammered, how unattractive and unappealing drinking then becomes. Because you look at everyone’s like, “Hey, good to see you!” And it’s a little bit sloppy. You look at that and you’re like, okay, they’re relaxed. They’re not going to remember what I said anyway, not that they’re that hammered, but you know what I mean. They’re in their relaxed state. So, I can be a little bit more jokey and be myself and not have to worry about being hammered. That’s a big piece of it.
When I’m at home, you’re going to laugh at this, but on Amazon, I bought these – speaking of buying more things that I’m probably going to throw away in a year – I bought these measuring cups that measure out exactly one glass of wine. So, what I do there is a bottle of wine we all know is kind of, like a half bottle of wine is kind of two and a half, maybe, it’s up there. It’s very easy, like Darya will have a little bit less than me and I’ll say, okay, I’ll wait until it gets halfway and then I’ll stop, you know? But you’re actually drinking more than you think.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, plus with a wine glass, if you have a large wine glass, you can think like a third of a bottle or close to half a bottle very easily.
Kevin Rose: Right, exactly. So, what I do now is I bought this measuring glass off of Amazon. I fill that perfectly, pour it in, get my second glass, fill it perfectly and pour it in. So, that’s all of my alcohol for the night. It stops me at two drinks, and I really take my time with it then. I have dinner. I slowly sip it. I look at it. I go sit down. We might watch a little John Oliver or something and then continue to sip on it. That’s my way of locking in. I know no more past that. It prevents any hangovers. My doctor says it’s pretty good for you to have a glass or two a night. Then also – dude, don’t laugh at me! It is good for you! Ish.
Tim Ferriss: I’ll go with ish.
Kevin Rose: No, but then it’s also taking nights off altogether. I think that’s the other big piece of it.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, for sure. Good for you, man. I love it. Now, you mentioned one other thing. Well, actually a couple of other points because I’ve been also cutting back on alcohol quite a bit. I still enjoy alcohol. Not gonna lie. I do have booze on occasion.
Kevin Rose: I love your drunk –
Tim Ferriss: Oh, the drunk dials?
Kevin Rose: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Those are fun. For those who don’t know, occasionally, I do these drunk-dial episodes. It’s the laziest podcast format thought up, I think to date, perhaps, which is I have listeners fill out a Google form with their contact info and I set a time, like a two-hour window where I will call people via Skype and starting drinking at Call 1 and drink all the way through to say Call 10 and get progressively more inebriated as I answer questions. That is fun. I did one about a week ago. It was a good time. Then I thought I should do another episode today. I was like, I just don’t want to do two nights of sipping tequila on Skype. A few things that have also helped me. No. 1 is, and this is not an excuse everyone is going to be comfortable using, but if I go to a party and they’re like, “Hey, man. You’re not drinking? What the fuck?” I’ll be like, “Yeah, I’m on a bunch of weird drugs. I am not really supposed to drink alcohol right now.”
Kevin Rose: Oh, that stops the conversation right there. That’s brilliant.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, well it stops the push. But then it also starts another conversation like, “Well, what kind of weird shit are you on?” At any given point, I think it’s fair to say that I could answer in the affirmative to “Are you on any weird shit?” I’m almost always doing something odd. It might not be a lot of stuff, but I’m probably trying something new. That stops people cold. If they’re like, oh, wow. I mean, it could be Tylenol. If you’re taking acetaminophen in any capacity, people may not realize this, but some absurd percentage of emergency room visits and liver failures are associated with high-dose acetaminophen, which is not that much. It’s something like two or three times the label allowable amount over 24 hours. It’s really a potent and potentially dangerous drug. So, that’s one. “I’m actually on this.” “I’m on A, B, or C,” or “I’m on a bunch of weird stuff at the moment and I’m just not supposed to drink.” It works really well.
Then second, and this is actually advice that Richard Branson gave on this podcast is, having club soda with a dash of cranberry juice or something like that. Just using that as your default go-to. One thing that I do which is going to sound really odd and it is odd, but I have a superstition about “cheers-ing,” clinking glasses, when I don’t have any alcohol in my glass.
Kevin Rose: Interesting. This is your tell.
Tim Ferriss: This is something that well, it’s kind of a tell. But what I’ll do is I will sometimes also go up to the bar and I’ll say, just give me a tiny splash, like the equivalent amount that would be in a thimble or something like that and then I’ll cut myself off at that. That’s the amount that allow myself. That’s another approach that I take to cut back on the booze. You mentioned though that you’ve been trying to learn at night and that the booze is not conducive to learning at night. What are you trying to learn at night? What types of things? What’s the format? Are you reading 100 pages a night or what is it?
Kevin Rose: Honestly, have you heard of this Coursera course called “Learning how to Learn”?
Tim Ferriss: I have not. Who teaches it?
Kevin Rose: It’s done by a couple professors. I’m actually in the middle of that right now. Another kind of biohacker recommended it to me. Apparently, it’s the No. 1 watched course on Coursera right now. It’s just been fascinating how they dig into the science of learning and how you go on this kind of focused or diffused mode and how to really go in and concentrate on something and when the optimal time is to learn. It’s all the science around learning. I’m just getting started with it. That’s what I’ve been diving into and spending my nights watching those videos. But it talks about the importance of actually getting away from your material. So, getting really focused and setting a timer for 25 minutes maximum. Going really in depth on the course material and then backing away and going into this more relaxed mode.
They were talking about, who was it? Benjamin Franklin? I can’t remember who it was that used to hold a pair of keys in their hand. Salvador Dalí did this as well, actually. Hold a pair of keys in your hand and you kind of just go into this relaxed state thinking about what you want to learn, to where you almost fall asleep and when you drop the keys out of your hand and it wakes you up, that’s when you go back and then you realize you were successful getting that relaxed. You’ll retain and become more creative. I don’t know. It’s just fascinating stuff. I’m just getting started with the course. And it’s free.
Tim Ferriss: Very cool. Yeah, the intervals and the duration of intervals for learning, along with break periods, is something that I’ve experimented a lot with as it relates to language learning. Because it’s so measurable, you can look at, say your recall of foreign vocabulary, assuming you’re controlling for a few different variables, right? Adjectives are generally going to be harder than nouns, for instance. But if you’re controlling for that, you can look at what your retention is, say 48 hours later, for 100 words you attempted to learn in one session versus two sessions versus three sessions with different types of breaks. I did that when I was looking at a few different languages, specifically in 2004, 2005. Actually, I’ve never shown you these notes.
I have text edit documents with all of my notes on language learning for about a year-long period, looking at all this type of stuff. There were some very clear patterns, such as focusing on the material right before bed with no interruption. Much like how it’s recommended by many names both you and I know, that you meditate first thing in the morning before you brush your teeth, before you check your phone, before anything else. When you have this tabula rasa blank state of sorts. Focusing on material that you want to consolidate in memory and recall later right before bed, at least in my experience, dramatically improves recall. Then, this is actually very important, not just doing that, but when you wake up, before doing anything else, which for me would override meditation, doing a recall exercise of some type. I tend to use flashcards, to determine which have stuck and which have not.
So those that have not, since I’m looking at language, I would give myself like a quarter of a second. It couldn’t be delayed because in speech, you’re not going to have the luxury of sitting there paused for long periods of time. It would go back into the rotation for review again throughout that day and later that night. But that has proven really, really helpful.
Kevin Rose: How about exercise? One of the things they mention in this course is this idea of doing cardiovascular exercise. I believe it’s post-learning something new. Apparently, this science was saying that it just sticks that much more. I don’t have any numbers in front of me, but it was something along those lines. Have you heard anything about that?
Tim Ferriss: In terms of the timing of exercise, I have less clarity, but there’s an entire book called Spark that talks about, among other things, the role of exercise in education and learning, and would point to things like BDNF, the release of brain drive neurotrophic factor, which can be elicited through different types of exercise. Part of me thinks that when one says because these are the easiest to study, or very often the easiest to study, cardiovascular exercise, this is where it comes down to trying to become literate with reading scientific studies or understanding how things typically work. As a couple of baselines, scientific studies usually use volunteer populations known as students. Those students have 45-minute class blocks or 60-minute class blocks.
So, to keep those students busy, people are very often disincentivized from using shorter-duration, high-intensity training or something like that. Weightlifting, for instance. Resistance training. If you want to, as an experimenter, design something that requires as little monitoring as possible, it’s like, all right, stick them on a stationary bike. If you have people doing burpees or deadlifts, like you actually need to –
Kevin Rose: I hate burpees.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, but you actually need to pay attention, right? You need to pay attention if people are lifting weights and so on. There are more safety concerns. So, just to point out perhaps the obvious, weightlifting is actually one of the most cardiovascular activities you could possibly engage in, but I won’t digress into that. You can look at a book called Body by Science for all of the details and why that is the case. But it would make sense to me that exercise could certainly play a role in increasing cognitive function.
But one of the questions that I ask myself all the time, when, and this is a good question for people to ask themselves when they see a headline that makes a scientific claim, is what else could explain this? What else might explain this? If you’re looking at cardiovascular exercise right after some type of cramming with material, you could make the argument that perhaps it’s not the exercise at all, it’s the fact that they’re going into a semi-mindless or meditative, repetitive period where they’re able to, their subconscious somehow work on the material, right?
Kevin Rose: Right. Well, this exactly what this course teaches is how to get into those periods. Yeah, 100 percent.
Tim Ferriss: I have certainly seemed to observe that exercise in some capacity, for me, it’s generally some type of resistance training, does have a positive effect on learning. So, yet another reason to get off your ass, which is something I need to do more of. I’ve digressed. I’ve fallen off the train a little bit, Kevin Rose. I’ll be honest. But I shall get back on the train. Fortunately, once you have a recipe that works, you have the confidence that you can get back on. That’s the good news, right? Say with the fast mimicking diet, not that you should use that for body composition, but fast mimicking diet or intermittent fasting, which a lot of people use your app Zero for, for slow carb diet, plus a handful of things like kettle ball swings.
I just know this is why I’m not stressed out about being off the rails. I kind of make fun of myself about it. Because it’s like look, if I just follow the prescription, like follow the algorithm for three to four weeks, there’s no magic involved. It will work and I will have less muffin top to grab when I’m in the sauna, which will make me happy.
Kevin Rose: Muffin top in the sauna is the worst. You look down and you see that little layer, this little boop.
Tim Ferriss: You also have like the glistening Cinnabon effect because you’re sweating. It’s a really unattractive look. It’s not a good look.
Kevin Rose: It’s not good. One thing I did want to talk about, which I think would be fun to chat about because we’ve both done is, real quick, is Tony Robbins.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, let’s talk about it. For sure. So, I’ve done two different Tony Robbins events. UPW, Unleash the Power Within, which was my first event. Then, more recently in December of this last year, Date with Destiny, which is a longer event.
Kevin Rose: Oh, you did that? I didn’t know you did Date with Destiny as well.
Tim Ferriss: I did. So, I’ve done two events. Some people have had a bit of exposure to Date with Destiny through the I am Not Your Guru documentary, which was co-produced, in fact, by someone who’s been on this podcast, Brian Koppelman, a really accomplished filmmaker. But what was your experience like? Your first Tony Robbins event?
Kevin Rose: It was kind of crazy. Thanks to you, I got hooked up with him. I went down and got a chance to meet him and hang out with him. I think that Tony has proven himself now that he’s been doing this for so long. He’s been doing it for 40+ years. But I think that in the back of my mind, I remember when I was a little kid, the audiotape version, infomercial version of Tony. So, there was always this stigma in my mind that was like, is he trying to sell me something? What’s going on here? I also watched his documentary and I was like, wow, this guy is clearly brilliant. He takes this stuff very seriously and he’s truly breaking through to people and helping people change their lives.
He was like, “I’m going to be in the Bay Area, you should come down.” I was like, “Okay, that sounds awesome.” I took a buddy of mine that has a lot of anxiety. He shall go unnamed but he wanted to go. He was like, “Kevin, let’s do this.” I was like, “Okay, let’s do it.” So, we went down for the three-day event. I thought it was great. I’ve got to tell you. You walk into it – and I was in arena where there was 12,000 people. There are a lot of people there. Everybody is coming there for a different reason, right? I was sitting across from a guy that had lost his legs and was previously a drug addict. I think he had some infection in his legs or something and had to have them both amputated. I was sitting next to someone that was running her own social media business and wanted to get better with her business and improve her finances. She was getting through a relationship that she had just ended.
Everyone had something to bring to the table. Of course, we all do. If we’re honest with ourselves, everyone has something they’re trying to work on. I went in there and Day One was awesome. Tony got out there and he spoke for like 12 hours we were there. Until after midnight.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, he’s a complete mutant. Yeah, it’s unbelievable.
Kevin Rose: I don’t even know when he pees. I have no idea when he uses the bathroom.
Tim Ferriss: Or drinks water. Yeah. He’s just a machine, the guy’s a machine.
Kevin Rose: He’s a machine. I walked over the coals with him. He was like, “Bring out some fresh coals for Kevin!” Of course, they put like fresh, you actually walk over coals at the end of the night. You’ve done this, right?
Tim Ferriss: I have, yeah.
Kevin Rose: Did he bring out fresh coals for you?
Tim Ferriss: I can’t recall if he brought out fresh coals for me. I think that might’ve been the VIP treatment you received.
Kevin Rose: It was a lot of fun. I think the biggest takeaway for me was really a couple things. One was definitely this thing called the wheel of life. Did you have to do that? Where you fill out your wheel?
Tim Ferriss: I’m sure I did. And I should also point out that for the attendees at these events – and I have a little bit more to say about this – but the exercises that really – and there are very tactical, prescriptive exercises – but that the exercises that change someone else’s trajectory and give them extremely concrete next steps that have an impact, are very often completely different exercises from those that affect the person right next to you. It’s really something to behold. But tell us about the wheel of life.
Kevin Rose: The wheel of life was interesting in that he gives you these areas of your life and you’re to rank them from 0 to 10 on how far along and how happy you are with those areas. So, for example, physical body. So, for me, I was like, for me, I give myself a 4 in this arena. I could be doing a lot better. Then there’s emotions and meaning. Another one is relationships. Another one is time. Another one is your career and your mission in life. Then there’s finances. Then the last one is how you contribute. How you give back. How you celebrate and contribute. So you go from 0 to 10 and you rank these out. You’ll see my wheel doesn’t actually look like a wheel. It’s kind of lopsided, but that’s by design.
By the time you look at this, it gives you a clear view of okay, I really need to step out how I contribute and give back. That allowed me to go really deep in my own personal life and say, what does it mean to contribute and give back for me? You and I have both done things in terms of going out. Like charity: water, the Tony Hawk Foundation, and giving away money, but just supporting a cause and writing a check, I don’t know how you feel about this, but for me, it doesn’t really mean that I’m giving back. I don’t really feel like I’m contributing. Yes, I’m giving cash, but I’m not actually taking part in that process. I’m not actually really helping out. Anyone can write a check.
What does it mean for me to contribute? The realization that I came to and actually there’s some really powerful moments in this conference where they turn out the lights and they make you revisit certain times in your childhood and all these things. I felt myself kind of tearing up because one of the things I realized is that I was not giving back and contributing in a meaningful way. The thing that I came to and that I realized is that my mother was verbally abused by my father for many, many, many years. Definitely abusive behavior. Never physically harmed her, but I would say the mental hard is more bad, if not worse, than some of the physical harm. I realized that I want to actually lean in and help out women that have been abused and that are currently in abusive relationships.
A goal of mine over the next couple years is finding the best possible way to contribute back to that. Not just in forms of another check, but actually how I can get involved. And whether that means helping them build their products and build a better website or mobile apps or any way that I can enable and use my technology skills to help with their business would be something that would mean a lot to me. So, that was a great experience to have. I wouldn’t have that if it wasn’t for Tony. That was just one of many things that I got out of the weekend. I would say that he’s a badass. It was pretty awesome.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, he’s a real master of his craft. What I would say to folks who have a certain image of Tony is that when you go to an event like this, I think the right way to approach it is to be skeptical but not cynical, and open to trying all of the exercises he suggests. There are going to be components that may not agree with you in the sense that there’s a lot of jumping around. There’s a lot of music. There’s a lot of noise, for lack of a better word. A lot of those elements made me uncomfortable. They’re not things that I would seek out.
Kevin Rose: Oh, my God. I could not see you dancing and jumping around.
Tim Ferriss: Right? It’s just not my thing. But the filter that I used going into it or the lens through which I was looking at it was it was made easier because one of my very close friends I’ve known since college, who’s had multiple company exits, is extremely, extremely accomplished, and he goes to Unleash the Power Within every year as a reset. He’s been 11 times, maybe 12 now. He’s been to Date with Destiny six times. This guy is not a seminar junkie. He’s not someone who avoids the work and goes to listen to a motivational speech so that he can feel better on a sugar high for two days and not take any next steps. This is not that guy. He is an operator.
So, the fact that he had been so many times really led me to want to stick with the entire event. I’m not going to lie. I had hard points. Then I mentioned this to you and it may not be the exercise that had a large impact on you, but the Dickens process that I ended up with Tony including in Tools of Titans, one of my more recent books, because it had such a big impact, made the entire event an easy like 10 to 100 turn for me.
Kevin Rose: Mm-hmm, that was the last day, too.
Tim Ferriss: That’s right. So, just that 30 to 60-minute exercise led me to dramatically improve my relationship with my father, to take responsibility for certain things that I had been telling myself were unchangeable, to really buckle down and step into discomfort to make some meaningful changes. Those are changes – Unleash the Power Within, I want to say I went to, now it’s got to be three to five years ago – those changes, the ripple effects of those changes that I made then are still very tangible now. Then Date with Destiny, very similar.
But to go into it expecting that if you step into it and accept some level of discomfort and commit to trying everything, this is just my view, that at least 50 percent you’re going to end up discarding. Probably 20 percent you’re going to find really uncomfortable and you’re going to dislike actively. Then like 10 to 25 percent you’re going to go, holy shit, I can’t believe how powerful that just was. It’s not a lot of handwavy, woo-woo ambiguity. These exercises are really, really, really specific. So, you don’t have to accept Tony as your one and only savior. You don’t have to believe that he is flawless because he is not. He’s just like everyone else. He’s an imperfect creature trying to do the best with the gifts and talents he’s developed. But the guy knows his shit. He actually really cares.
As I’ve gotten to know him over the last few years more and more so, I’ve become more impressed with him, not less impressed. That is at least, if one were thinking of attending one of these events, and I have zero vested interest in sending anyone to these events, other than they’ve had a material impact on my life. That’s why I was happy to see that you were going to attend. That they’d go in with an open mind expecting that, much like if you’ve read any type of book, you’re not expecting every line to be a life-changing piece of gold. You’re hoping that net-net it’s going to be worth the time that you invested. That’s been my takeaway. That it’s absolutely been worth the time invested.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, 100 percent agree. I think that like you, going into this was certainly a really uncomfortable thing for me in terms of when they first start the music and people come out on stage and they start dancing. You can tell the people that have been there before, because they immediately like jump out of their seats and start rocking out and throwing their hands in the air. I’m thinking to myself, I hate dancing. I hate dancing. I’ve never liked dancing with anyone. My wife or anyone. I always feel so awkward when I’m doing it. I’m a geek that likes to sit in front of my computer at night. Then I thought something another friend had told me who had gone and said, “Hey, Kevin. You just have to go with it. If you want to get anything out of it, you have to realize that he’s doing this by design to put you into a certain state.”
He wants to get you into an optimal state and an optimal – that can mean like, one example of one thing we did is we took something that was very serious to us, like a limiting belief that you had held so seriously and you say it out loud in a very joking and laughing way, and everybody, like 12,000 people are all doing this at the same time. You’re laughing and saying it. It’s like breaking it down in your mind and letting you know that you don’t have to take it so seriously and you can joke about it and have fun with it because it’s been forever since you’ve probably ever done that in your life. When was the last time you were able to take something that you held so seriously and so guarded and have a good time with it? So, he knows how to set up these little traps for you that trick you into reframing things in your mind. It really does change your long-term perspective on things.
Dude, I’m a fan. I would definitely go back again. I did the three-day event, the Unleash the Power Within, the same one as you. But yeah, I had fun with it. So, thanks for helping out with that.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, man. My pleasure. I would suggest also that as a point of social proof, and, of course, Tony’s fully aware of the sort of gravitas this would bring, but there are people, for instance, Mark Benioff of Salesforce, which I think has more than $10 billion in annual revenue now, who will pointblank say that Salesforce would probably not exist were it not for Tony Robbins. And he still attends some of these events. He was right behind me at Date with Destiny. He’s a big guy. He and Tony are very similar in size. Then you have Paul Tudor Jones. You have some of the most sophisticated traders and financial minds who have worked with Tony for 10 to 20 years. That’s on an ongoing coaching basis because he does have very discrete, very tactical exercises and tools that help to find blind spots and fully leverage the things that you’re good at and so on.
It’s not easy. It’s not comfortable, but certainly I’ve been very benefitted by the time that I’ve spent considering these things. I’m biased because in high school, I read Unlimited Power by Tony, which had an impact. I then, when I got out of college and I had my first job and I was commuting in my piece of shit minivan, the green machine, which was just a complete disaster of a car but I was trapped on 101 in the Bay Area, for people who know, just bumper-to-bumper in rush hour, to and from Mountain View to San Jose to work, and I would listen to this used set. I couldn’t afford the full set, a new copy, so I had Personal Power 2 in cassette tape, and listened to that, which helped me get to the point where I started my first company. Tony’s made these appearances at very opportune moments in my life.
Like I said, I don’t go to him for all things. I don’t think Tony has the answer to everything. But with particular types of self-imposed narratives and handicaps that you have built you’re or walls around certain types of thinking or certain types of emotions that perhaps served you very well in the past but no longer serve you, he is exceptionally good and helping you work through all of that.
Kevin Rose: I just love that this whole genre, the self-help genre, is not as frowned upon as it used to be. I don’t know if you remember, but probably 10, 15, 20 years ago, if you went to that area of the bookstore, you were like, look it, who’s in the self-help section? There must be something wrong with them. Seriously. That used to be the case. Now it’s gone and he’s probably at the center of it. But it’s become this idea of not self-help, it’s really just this idea that we’re all on a journey of lifelong learning and we all are done BSing ourselves and there’s not a single person that has all of life figured out, so why don’t we all actively, openly work on this together? I think it’s awesome.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. I should also say that as one point, as an example, I was interviewed on the BBC. They wanted to talk about the self-help genre. I knew it was going to be setup, right? I knew that they wanted me to defend self-help and they wanted to attack self-help. I knew when I was going in that this is what it was going to be. Or I figured it out about an hour beforehand when I got some notes and I was like, “Oh, I see where this is going.” They bring me out – this is a television show – and they say, “Good evening, Mr. Ferriss. We just wanted to talk about,” dah-dah-dah, bio, blah, blah, blah, “what is your general opinion of the self-help genre?” or something along those lines.
In effect, I said, “I think 99.9% of it is just horseshit.” I said, “It pains me sometimes to be associated with the label ‘self-help’ for X, Y, and Z reasons.” Then they didn’t have a leg to stand on, right? Because I’d taken their side of the argument, which was kind of hilarious.
Kevin Rose: That’s funny.
Tim Ferriss: Then I said, “But, at the same time, I think the label ‘self-help’ has in many cases an unfairly negative connotation because if you look at almost any type of reading, whether it’s a novel where people want to escape, or it’s nonfiction, where they’re hoping to learn more about let’s call it Andrew Carnegie, or you name the figure, there is some motive behind that, which they hope to help them.” Whether it’s a shift of emotion, the gathering of knowledge so they can impress people at a dinner party or otherwise. And that if I were to look at who I would say potentially emulate in the world of self-help, it would probably be like, and this is a name you brought up earlier, Ben Franklin. Who most certainly wrote extensively about what we consider today to be self-help. But he’s not lumped into the category of potential – and these people do exist, certainly – charlatans, who are just selling a bill of goods that doesn’t deliver.
There are plenty of people who have not walked the walk and talk extensively about their expertise and make recommendations and prescriptions. There are people all over the world in every possible disciple who do this and a lot of them tend to concentrate in this section of the bookstore called ‘self-help,’ unfortunately. But that alone isn’t enough to disqualify something. Certainly, if we look at the popularity of tutorials on YouTube, for instance, in any possible subject matter. If you look at the popularity of the Creative Lives and the Courseras and so on. Everyone now has access to expertise that even 10 years ago would’ve cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to access, if they had the ability at all. You look at Harvard, MIT, Stanford. Many of these schools are putting their courses online, in some cases, for free access. I know people who have taught themselves to code in this way.
All of that is self-help, right? It’s important, I think, that people not disqualify exploring certain realms because of a label that really represents a concept which may or may not apply to what it is you’re examining.
Kevin Rose: Yeah, I mean, there’s going to be scammers in every genre, too. I love how Joe Rogan, I don’t know if you’ve seen the posts that he’s done recently, but he does video of these martial arts?
Tim Ferriss: The legit as fuck? Yeah. That’s his caption.
Kevin Rose: Where they can throw people with their mind? Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Joe Rogan puts up these fake martial arts videos. I mean, they’re not fake. They’re videos of people who actually believe that what’s happening is happening. But these self-described martial arts masters throwing people across the room with their Qi explosions and so on. His caption is usually, “legit as fuck.” Or #legitasfuck.
Kevin Rose: It’s so good. It’s so good.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, there’s a lot of nonsense out there, but it doesn’t mean that everything within a certain category is nonsense. It doesn’t mean you should spend your entire life filtering for the one percent. But also, there are ways that you can assess the validity of different paths. Quite frankly, I would recommend for those people who haven’t – well, I’ll give you two recommendations. One is you can look at the back of The 4-Hour Body, if you already have it, there’s an appendix which is effectively how to spot bad science. It will help you to not trick yourself and also to get better at avoiding being tricked. So, that’s one recommendation. Not to seem like I’m selling my own book, the excerpts for that appendix are from a book called Bad Science by a doctor named Ben Goldacre, which is absolutely fantastic.
So, if you just want to be scientifically literate or better able to separate the signal from the noise with the deluge of information that we are assaulted by every day, I would highly recommend that you check out one or both of those resources.
Kevin Rose: I was going to ask you, Tools of Titans, obviously in your books there have been tons of book recommendations. There was that one kid, do you remember the kid, that took all and he created, he took all the books out of your recommendations and ranked them?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, he ranked them or just organized them as thumbnails. Yeah, I do remember that.
Kevin Rose: The idea was that what is the most recommended book inside Tools of Titans across the board by all the people that were in that book? Kind of stack-ranking them based on the votes. Do you have that list anywhere? Do you have a list of like the most recommended books by all of your guests?
Tim Ferriss: I do, actually. I’ll pull it up right now because I put it on the blog for everybody.
Kevin Rose: That’s a great way to cut through all the crap, you know?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I put it up on the blog. If you give me a second, I will find where it is. This might take a second. I’m looking at Tribe of Mentors, the most recent. Where would I find this? If you go onto tim.blog and search Tools of Titans books.
Kevin Rose: We can put a link in the show notes, right?
Tim Ferriss: We’ll put a link in the show notes. This will be the smarter way to do it. If you want to see a page where the most commonly recommended books from Tools of
Titans and from Tribe of Mentors, combined, you’re looking at about 500 different world-class performers of all different disciplines, ranging from top professional athletes to chess prodigies, to former Generals, certainly 12+ billionaires, then you will get to see rank ordered in terms of frequency which books are most recommended. I will put those in the show notes and you guys can find that at tim.blog/podcast. If you want to see of these people who are the best at what they do, which books across disciplines do they recommend most often.
A few of them, just off the bat for people who are curious: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl; Poor Charlie’s Almanac by Charlie Munger; Seeking Wisdom by Peter Bevelin; and certainly Atlas Shrugged, even though it’s a controversial book, by Ayn Rand, comes up a lot in terms of developing a sense of personal agency. I think that has popped up quite a lot. And many more. But I’ll give you the full list because there are some that pop up quite frequently that you won’t recognize at all. Those are, to me, oftentimes the really fun ones to explore.
Kevin Rose: Awesome. Yeah, I’ve got a bunch of Audible credits waiting to be spent. So, I’ll do that.
Tim Ferriss: Awesome, man. Well, I think this is a solid catch-up.
Kevin Rose: Yeah. Thanks for having me on. It was fun to chat.
Tim Ferriss: Where can people learn more about Kevin Rose, find you on the interwebs?
Kevin Rose: Certainly. My podcast is available at kevinrose.com. Then also if you want to check out my free meditation app, it’s 100 percent free, a little bit more traditional meditation. It’s called Oak and you can do that at oakmeditation.com.
Tim Ferriss: Nice and succinct. No social?
Kevin Rose: Yeah, you know, Twitter @kevinrose. But I don’t know that I use it that much anymore. I’m more a newsletter guy. If you go to my website, you can sign up for my newsletter. I do a once-a-month newsletter. That’s kind of what I use.
Tim Ferriss: It’s a good newsletter. I subscribe to it, which I can’t say for many. Yeah, Twitter has turned into a bit of a nasty neighborhood on most days. You just feel like you’re minding your business, whistling, walking down the street, then you have people throwing potted plants at your head.
Kevin Rose: And then Facebook is a whole shit show. So, it’s like, that’s the worst kind of show.
Tim Ferriss: What to do? Go back to the tried and true.
Kevin Rose: Instagram.
Tim Ferriss: Instagram or email. All right, my man. Well, thanks so much for taking the time. I hope to see you soon. Come visit Austin. Got a barrel sauna waiting for you.
Kevin Rose: I will. Awesome. See ya.
Tim Ferriss: See ya. To everyone listening or watching on the YouTubes, you can find links to everything that we’ve talked about in the show notes at tim.blog/podcast. Until next time, be safe, do not take meth for fun, follow professional advice with anything medically related, and live the examined life. Just because it is self-help doesn’t mean it can’t help you. I’ll leave with that.
Posted on: August 20, 2018.
Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.
Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.