Charles Koch — CEO of Koch Industries (#381)

(Photo credit: Grant Miller)

“When goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will.”

— Charles Koch, quoting Frédéric Bastiat

This episode will no doubt surprise people, and my guest came to me through channels I wouldn’t have expected.


Charles Koch received a bachelor’s degree in general engineering and two master’s degrees, in nuclear and chemical engineering, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

He is chairman of the board and CEO of Koch Industries Inc., a position he has held since 1967. He is renowned for growing Koch Industries from a company worth $21 million in the early 1960s to one with revenues estimated as high as $110 billion by Forbes. It’s one of the largest privately held companies in the world, and by revenue, it’s larger than both Boeing and Disney. He has transformed the business into a diverse group of companies that employ nearly 130,000 people—making everything from Dixie cups to components in your cell phone. 

Charles credits the success of Koch Industries to applying proven principles of social and scientific progress, which led to the development and implementation of his Market-Based Management® (MBM®) business philosophy. He describes MBM and its applications in two of his books, The Science of Success and Good Profit.

Charles is now using those principles in philanthropy, as the founder of Stand Together, to tackle some of the biggest challenges in the U.S. Stand Together is partnering with thousands of social entrepreneurs to help them improve their effectiveness and scale at tackling poverty, improving K-12 education, bringing justice to our criminal justice system, and more.

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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…

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Stand Together:

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

  • Connect with Koch Industries:

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Op-Eds:

Videos:

SHOW NOTES

  • What is Charles’s history with digging dandelions? [13:30]
  • Charles talks about the letter from his father that hangs framed on his wall and why it’s important to him. [17:59]
  • On being talked into returning to Wichita after graduating from MIT to run one of his father’s businesses, and how Charles switched from a mindset focused on instant gratification to one of long-term value. [19:49]
  • The authors who have had the largest impact on Charles’s thinking. [24:40]
  • How does Charles utilize scientific or engineering principles that he learned at MIT for business? Where do Karl Popper and Michael Polanyi figure into the process? [28:26]
  • Specifically, how has Charles applied concepts from Polanyi’s “The Republic of Science” to his work? [31:41]
  • Virtuous cycles of mutual benefit, creating value for others, and the two components of finding opportunities in this value. [35:15]
  • Now that we know what good profit is, what is bad profit — and how does it reduce value and diminish opportunity? [41:17]
  • Do Koch companies participate in bad profit? [44:23]
  • What are the major market distortions that Charles opposes? [48:39]
  • Within the company, how are disagreements hashed out? Is there a framework of principles in place to guide consensus? [49:43]
  • Driving principles: personal knowledge versus conceptual knowledge, three-dimensional learning, comparative advantage, synergy, creative destruction, free speech, property rights, decision rights, market-based management, and the human action model. [53:51]
  • If these principles seem so obvious, why are they so often ignored by countries, organizations, and companies? [1:02:15]
  • What Charles has found to be the three requirements of a good, successful partnership. [1:04:08]
  • How has Charles’s approach to policy coalitions changed over time, and what ground has been gained by finding common cause with former adversaries? [1:05:32]
  • What is Stand Together, and what does it aim to accomplish? [1:13:18]
  • How does Stand Together incorporate market-based solutions that have proven successful for Charles’s other endeavors? [1:16:22]
  • A hopeful look forward at Stand Together capturing the national imagination with the same intensity and bipartisan support as prison reform is enjoying today. [1:22:19]
  • Is Stand Together still accepting applications from social entrepreneurs? [1:25:37]
  • Charles weighs in on capitalism, the ideal role of a business in society, environmental priorities, and politicized corruption. [1:29:33]
  • The effect of higher taxes on GDP, the failure of trickle-down economics, and what Charles sees as the best course toward the pursuit of happiness. [1:35:10]
  • Does Koch Industries fund propaganda to confuse people about climate change? [1:39:20]
  • What does Charles consider to be the most legitimate existential threats to humankind? [1:44:20]
  • The cause that unites the seemingly unlikely pairing of Koch Industries and George Soros. [1:46:32]
  • For what would Charles be willing to bet his entire personal fortune? [1:48:37]
  • What would Charles’s billboard say? [1:49:43]
  • After whom was Charles named, and why? [1:50:54]
  • Where did the nonintuitive (to most Americans) pronunciation of “Koch” originate? [1:54:15]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:56:26]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

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261 Replies to “Charles Koch — CEO of Koch Industries (#381)”

  1. Wow! Someone here mentioned that seeing the name on this podcast was like a “gut punch” and I have to agree. I could NOT believe Tim Ferris would distribute / allow access to his peeps for these folks. I was so shocked that while I usually jump right in and almost always come away inspired by what has so far been an incredible list of inspirational, progressive guests – this time I stopped dead and checked the comments first. Glad to see I’m not alone on this one.

    Of course, I have to check it out and try to understand what would make you do ths. But unless you were under duress then I suspect whatever you meant by this intro: ” and my guest came to me through channels I wouldn’t have expected” says a lot more than we can know.

    1. I heard it something like “keep industry here by not crushing it with overreaching regulation that will send it to China and other terrible polluters” but that might be too sophisticated of an arguement for all these crazed deplatformers.

      1. So you agree that we should continue burning fossil fuels when 2/3 need to stay in the ground?

  2. I just listened to your intro to the Charles Koch interview. So sad that your listeners are so close-minded that you had to share “Snowflake Alert” ahead of time. Your subconsciously admitted that your liberal listeners are the close -minded ones. Interview whomever from whatever part of the political spectrum without apology. I’m glad you interviewed but am disappointed that you had such little faith in your listeners.

  3. Great podcast! We can learn from interesting and smart people no matter their politics!

    By the way, the climate has cycled hundreds of times during the earth’s history. There have been a dozen world-wide ice ages in the last 1.5 million years, just a sliver of geological time. Of course there’s climate change!

    1. Koch even agreed that reducing carbon is a high priority and that one of the best ways to do that is to keep industry in the west, not driving it to china and india with climate alarmist overregulation.

      1. He has done everything possible to subvert the climate fight his entire professional career, praying in a foxhole is not the same as living a good life

  4. Tim,

    Glad you did this interview. It was informative and interesting. I definitely learned a thing or two though I do agree with some you could have pressed harder with some of the questions.

    While I rarely read the comments, I knew this one would be worth a look and was floored by the emotional responses from the outrage brigade.

    People just came out hurling insults, largely without facts or evidence… just regurgitating the usual clickbaity accusations. Then to top off their rants they reveal they didn’t even listen to it. *That* is the epitome of willful ignorance. Is that how we are supposed to make the world better?

    Maybe if they’d actually listened to the show they’d realize that was the chasm Charles Koch is trying to bridge.

    You don’t have to agree with him but for crying out loud have a reasoned thought or two of your own before throwing a fit.

  5. I encourage you to listen to this interview on NPR with the author of “Kochland” and read the book. https://www.npr.org/2019/08/13/750803289/kochland-how-the-koch-brothers-changed-u-s-corporate-and-political-power

    Then perhaps interview him again being better prepared. I understand you cannot rip a marquee guest like Charles Koch but your audience expects you to not just roll over like you did and accept on face value his comments about top down and helping people.

  6. Just plain curious: would you (Tim and fellow listeners) have someone like Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, or the leaders of ISIS on the show? I get the differing viewpoints thing. But is there any line to be drawn?

    (Arguably, Charles Koch’s impact on the planet will actually be much more negative than the combined impact of the gentlemen mentioned above.)

    1. Generally speaking, I would rather hear people’s views unmediated by the media. The more controversial the guest the more you need to do your homework about the subject matter so that you can challenge their views.

      In this case, TF did his homework about CK but not the subject matter such as climate change and the other topics people have mentioned. At one point, TF says he “doesn’t have a dog in the fight” because he’s not well educated in the subject. That’s honest but nothing to be proud of. It was a wasted opportunity.

      It’s possible that the pre-interview agreement was for TF not to reply to CK’s answers. The first question he asks (about capitalism) takes 20 seconds to ask, which is followed by 40 seconds of watering down by TF before he lets CK answer! Listen at 1 hr 30 min 40 sec.

      When interviewing controversial figures like CK (i’m British and don’t know too much about him), it would be nice if the interviewer presented the strongest case against the person, which would give a more balanced view for neutral listeners.

      I’m now left puzzled because CK came across sometimes as mild-mannered and even, at times, likable. His organisation, Stand Together, also seems a good idea in theory. Maybe he pulled the wool over my eyes. I’m contrasting that with some of the comments here, which paint CK as a monster.

      At times, TF just seems starstruck. He’s so happy he’s got such a big guest that he was never going to challenge him. Then again, I’m not sure TF challenges anyone and that may be his appeal to interviewees and some listeners.

  7. Not sure how many of the people here think they can make a positive difference by projecting all their hate on one men, refuse to listen to him and even attack the people that do.

    1. Agreed. Open mindedness to all views is the first step to deriving your own opinion. Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s sidekick, and a brilliant man, says that one should be able to argue both sides of an argument better than his opposition to fully understand the points each make. Could anyone in this comment chain do that effectively without ad hominem criticism? Koch admits his company has made mistakes, but some of the accusations are way overblown, and his philosophy now is considerably evolved. Listen and learn to those who off handedly criticize, please.

  8. This is the worst person you’ve ever interviewed, by far.

    Someone like Jocko Willink I can respect. He kills people as his profession, but he’s doing it for his country and for a greater purpose. (We can argue if all those wars are justified, but that’s no slight on him.) Koch, on the other hand, kills people for pure personal greed.

    You’ve lost a subscriber.

  9. I have been a reader of your newsletter for some time as well as a listener of your podcast. I have learned much from both you and the people you have interviewed. You are usually so selective about the folks you invite to the conversation, and I am deeply disappointed in your choice today. Koch’s ideology is objectively destructive, and he has worked very hard–and very successfully–to undermine so much that is good in our country. Please consider me a former reader and former listener now.

  10. Don’t normally comment on any blogs or podcasts but I feel like I have to come to Tim’s defense here. He repeated that people would have issues but anyone that has issues with Tim for doing this is really being close minded. He is not asking you to agree with this guy just keep an open mind and learn from hearing another persons perspective. Free speech and open dialogue is one of the greatest strengths we have and to be “disgusted” or “disappointed” in Tim for this is just immature. Great job Tim and truly appreciate what you do!!

    1. Free speech is a given. But the premise of Tim’s show is to learn from people who are not only successful, which Koch is, but also admirable and worthy of learning from, which Koch decidedly isn’t. By putting him on his show, Tim is conferring legitimacy on someone whose actions, via his vast corporate policies, are truly despicable. He deserves no such honor. And Tim’s previous guests are disgraced by being placed in his presence.

      1. Glad you agree on free speech. I understand you don’t like Koch and that doesn’t bother me. The point you and most people here are missing is that Tim’s broader view point is to make change FOR THE BETTER you have to LISTEN to the other person and understand them. It seems like a good majority has made up their mind about this guy, correctly or incorrectly. but killing Tim for not being an executioner as you think he should vs a guy trying to make change for the better is really short sighted.

  11. Why would you expect Tim to suddenly turn into a Social Justice Warrior? Tim’s messaging has been authentic & consistent – dissecting the strategies, habits, tips & tricks of world class performers – he does not generally skewer his guests for their character flaws. Koch is one of the wealthiest humans on the planet, like it or not – that is not in itself a good, bad, or even a desirable thing to me. In listening to the interview, Tim’s questions were consistent with those he asks of all of his guests, and Koch’s answers were consistent with other guests that have been successful in business – he acts according to his own principles/codes of ethics, he applies logic and reason where others fail to, he maximizes his strengths, looks for areas of weakness, he reads a lot/learns deeply, and he cultivates relationships and seeks to find common ground with people who can help him achieve the ends he seeks. If you are truly opposed to Mr. Koch, then wouldn’t you want to hear his reasoning & learn his playbook? I would think that gaining insight into how he thinks would be far more useful if you wanted to oppose him than pouting with a Care-Bear-Stare of moral outrage.

    I understand where people would rail against his actions and point out the hypocrisies, but wouldn’t you want to learn some truth if it were there to be revealed? It is a bit simplistic to suggest that he has built his wealth on the backs of helpless innocents at the expense of the common man. His companies sell products, that most of us buy unknowingly. He is not Monty Burns. History has been full of great ideas that came from less than stellar people (would you disavow DNA because James Watson was a blatant racist? Would it matter if you did?). If you listen to this podcast you will find neither great nor “dangerous” nor novel ideas in the words he speaks, and generally there was a lot less wisdom than I was hoping for. If Koch was given a platform, he didn’t really say much from it.

    Thank you, Tim, for presenting your listeners with a chance to practice some critical thinking. This is a test…. it is only a test…..

    1. Koch does far more than “sell products.” He manipulates policy in his own interest through strategic deployment of his vast fortune. To not address this in a 2 hour interview is gross negligence of any broadcaster. Tim has a large platform and influence and while he may not be an investigative journalist, he is a responsible for what he puts out into the world. By giving Koch a 2 hour softie interview, he confers societal acceptance and social legitimacy on a man who deserves no such honor.

  12. Being left of center = scared to hear different ideas outside your bubble. Must shut down and oppose anyone who threatens your orthodoxy.

    1. Different ideas? Like all the positive things Koch has done for democracy and the environment? I’m not “scared” to hear those things–if they were true I’d welcome them, but those facts don’t exist. The only people who should be giving Charles Koch airtime are serious journalists with hard questions. What the Kochs have done in the interest of their bottom line to our democracy and the environment are well-documented and despicable.

  13. Boy Tim, that Charlie Koch sure is a good fella.

    The mistake here is not having him on, but failing to ask even one hard question regarding the damage this man and his brother have done to American democracy and our environment. Shame on you.

  14. This could have been your Oprah moment.

    Obviously this episode and interview subject have touched a nerve and I don’t believe unreasonably. This episode comes into conflict with the value and brand proposition that you, Tim, have established. You have consistently stated your goal of:

    “deconstructing world class performers, teasing out the habits, routines, favorite books, etc. that you can apply to your own life and test immediately. Whether those experts are coming from the worlds of chess, or entertainment, or sports, business, or otherwise; it is my job to dig into the details.”

    The unique situation here is that while Koch could easily be described as wealthy and influential there is an absence of critical context around Koch’s methods in business and politics. By so many metrics, Koch might fit into a “world class” category, and yet look at how many people are upset with this episode.

    I actually don’t believe this is due only to who you interviewed. I believe this is due, in-part, to how you conducted the interview and how you crafted the episode description and promotion.

    This interview crosses into a sphere of topicality that goes beyond “experiments in lifestyle design” and into, frankly, news. Koch is a controversial figure. While you did admit that this episode “will no doubt surprise people” I don’t think you grabbed hold of the opportunity to not merely probe tools and tactics but get at something deeper. Something more human. Something that would TRULY transcend this polarizing figure and offer insight to his detractors and his followers alike. (WWOD: What would Oprah do?)

    A big part of this is in your ability to interview without fear of insulting your guest OR your audience. Your ability to reduce the amount of prefacing and qualifying (as Praful says above) would be a start. Let your questions “hold the air.” You can have a point of view. You can be respectful. But the more polarizing the guest, the greater the opportunity (and perhaps imperative) to push deeper, to lean into the unique opportunity you have to be in front of someone that millions of people have strong feelings about and, critically, to get something new.

    Might I humbly suggest it’s time to get your hands dirtier, Tim. You don’t owe anyone an apology for who you interview. It’s your show. But I believe you missed an opportunity with this interview. This could have been an Oprah-moment for you. Oprah has interviewed the good, bad and ugly. But her audience sees her for her, rarely conflating these spheres of distinction between guest and host. And the result: Oprah’s interviews make news. Tim Ferriss interviewing Charles Koch should have made news. A quick Google news search of your name yields nothing.

    And that’s the real shame. The kerfuffle around this episode isn’t about your interview. It’s in spite of it.

  15. Hi Tim,

    Obviously a lot of controversy in providing yet another platform (they ‘own’ so many) for one of the infamous Koch brothers… I wonder if you could please elaborate on two things:

    1) Your detailed reasoning for having him as a guest (Was it well thought out?)

    2) How you were connected

    Thanks.

  16. Tim, my man, were you biting your lip all the way through? I mean WTF? This whole interview was hypocrisy at its finest. About climate change denial. “Oh I hope we’re not spreading denial messages…” Christ, they have founded whole institutes to do just that. These are the lords of dark money. One of the reasons the country is circling the drain. Were you that wowed that you get to talk to this guy that you just let everything go? Embarrassing….

  17. Tim,

    The Koch Bros are beyond the pale.

    From the New Yorker:

    “ ‘Kochland’ is important, Davies said, because it makes it clear that “you’d have a carbon tax, or something better, today, if not for the Kochs. They stopped anything from happening back when there was still time.” The book also documents how, in 2010, the company’s lobbyists spent gobs of cash and swarmed Congress as part of a multi-pronged effort to kill the first, and so far the last, serious effort to place a price on carbon pollution—the proposed “cap and trade” bill. Magnifying the Kochs’ power was their network of allied donors, anonymously funded shell groups, think tanks, academic centers, and nonprofit advocacy groups, which Koch insiders referred to as their “echo chamber.” Leonard also reports that the centrist think tank Third Way quietly worked with the Kochs to push back against efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which could have affected their business importing oil from Canada. Frequently, and by design, the Koch brothers’ involvement was all but invisible.“ https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/kochland-examines-how-the-koch-brothers-made-their-fortune-and-the-influence-it-bought

    1. Tim’s listeners, in aggregate, are among the smartest and most open minded souls imaginable. It also means they are among the best-informed community to judge the moral, social, and environmental impact of the Koch family’s extensive lobbying spends.

      You may have enjoyed Tim’s interview, but sadly he focused only on topics favorable to Koch, while completely ignoring the MASSIVE investments this family makes to paint anthropogenic climate change as “fake news” — to continue buying elections and lawmaking through Dark PAC “money as speech” — to support “supply side tax policies” that disproportionately benefit the wealthy — to destroy the United Nations and America’s deep bonds with other nations — to promote the sale of automatic weapons and hobble gun laws — to rewrite the US Constitution to enshrine greed as a fundamental national premise — to deny basic medical care to all citizens (and on and on).

      Deeply puzzling that none of this was even remotely touched upon by Tim. Many of us will never see Tim in the same light again — he’s revealed a gaping void in his very heart and soul.

  18. “Focus on the thought process”, yeah I’m sure Joseph Goebbels had a pretty interesting thought process as well, but that’s not a reason to give them a platform to spread their lies. What a disappointment. Unsubscribed.

  19. I found this an interesting podcast, not just because of it’s content but the context I listened to it from. As a foreign listener I have little pre-conceived emotion about your guest so was able to listen to what he said without any emotion or anger or other information. I found what he said to be not dissimilar to your other good guests, and in fact as someone (if I was in your country) who would align more with Democratic notions than Republican, I found helpful his take on why he prefers ‘bottom up’ to ‘top down’. I had not heard the theory that way before, and again because of my lack of pre-conceived belief that he was evil, I could absorb it. I write this only so those who are clearly reviled by the man enough to not even listen to him etc, might see that context make a bit difference. If you heard someone from my country speak, and say exactly the same stuff…you may listen with an open mind…whereas if I knew some history or what I had read had coloured my view, or they were from the party I did not support..perhaps my listening would also be coloured. I thought it was great Tim, and I’m sure you know this, but i have no expectation of you being the ‘counter puncher’ when it comes to questioning.

  20. I want to believe that a man this powerful is trying to do the good he claims (according to this, his first priority is his employees, his second is the environment), but there seems to be so much evidence to the contrary.

    I think you missed the opportunity here to present that contradictory evidence – on climate change, worker treatment, politics etc, to really probe some of that, and hear his side of the story. That would have been very valuable. There were no hard questions at all, and you didn’t challenge when his answers contradicted the info which is out there (which may or may not be true).

    I think you did both him (if he’s being truthful) and yourself a disservice.

  21. I have no problem with a prominent podcaster whom I admire inviting Koch on, but if and only if

    1. The purpose is to engage in a rigorous exchange of ideas

    2. The process included probing follow up questions and use of crap detector, aka hacking integrity

    3. The host is adept at this type of interview

    This was not your purpose, you did not use this process, and you are not that type of host.

    You are amazing at what you do. I suggest you stick to that. Leave interviews with Koch and all political topics to others more suited to the purpose—or spend the next year teaching yourself politics.

    1. Did you say the same about Cory Booker or do you only disagree when you don’t agree with the person being interviewed? I couldn’t disagree more with Booker or Ezra Klein but I was able to see where they were coming from even though I find them lacking any integrity. Maybe listen a little more to understand.

      1. I didn’t hear the Corey Booker interview but would apply the same standard if I did. Funny you assume I wouldn’t.

  22. Unsubscribe. Arguably no one has done more to damage the economy and our democracy than Charles Koch. The only people who should be putting Charles Koch on the air are serious investigative journalists who have done months of research and are prepared to hold him to account. This week real broadcaster Terri Gross interviewed the author Kochland, which you should have read before giving this man a platform. https://tinyurl.com/y3c4zkze

    My first impression of Tim was that he was a huckster (4 Hour Everything), but I was won over by his seemingly sincere personality. Nope. As Maya Angelou says “When someone shows you who they really are, believe them the first time.” Clearly all Tim cares about is fame, money, and access to the powerful.

    Oh, and Ascent protein and all of Tim’s other advertisers are now in my garbage pile as well.

  23. I thought this was a great interview. You can tell he’s an incredible thinker. I especially liked the part about climate change, and just how complex these issues can be. (Imposing stricter emission laws on US companies actually increases emissions globally as more jobs are outsourced to China). There’s often not an easy answer for many of these complex issues, but just because we approach certain issues in different ways doesn’t necessarily mean we want different outcomes. “The left wing and right wing are part of the same bird.”

    I expected to see a lot of charged comments here, but I am amazed at the number of comments of people saying they refuse to even listen to the interview. It doesn’t get any more closed minded than that. Real change starts with an open dialogue.

    Also…it would be nice if people did their homework…not every company with “Koch” in the name is owned or even affiliated with the Koch Brothers.

  24. Hey Tim. I’m catching up on non-essential emails and just saw your 5 Bullet Friday from 8/2. As an audio engineer with a BS in Audio Production that works on podcasts, please reach out if you want to talk about improving your setup. Big fan of the books and recently started listening to your podcast! Hope all is well.

  25. Thought long and hard about this interview. Hate to say that I am out on Tim Ferriss. Lending a platform to a person who has done more damage to this country’s political system both at the state and federal level is unforgiveable. And without any pushback. THat is very unfortunate and sad. You had many opportunities to push back, challange and question this evil dude, but you gave him a pass. Sorry Tim, but I am out.

  26. Feedback for Tim from a longtime fan, who has bought all your books, and your shows when you asked, who uses the affiliate links from your podcast sponsorships, sends your shows to friends, and continues to read your books daily for inspiration:

    You’ve demonstrated time and again that with a deconstructive approach, you can become proficient with complex skills and subjects in a much shorter span of time than the conventional wisdom. You’ve made it your brand. So it is hard for me, as a dedicated listener, to understand why you deprecate yourself as ‘not an expert’ or ‘not knowledgeable enough to have an opinion’ when it comes to the subject of politics.


    You’ve occasionally had guests on the show who are known for an overt political viewpoint, from presidential candidates to politically-charged media personalities, so you’ve already dabbled at the edges of your comfort zone.

    Why do you not choose to take your same branded approach to deriving an informed political viewpoint?

    You are publicly funding research into the medicinal applications of psychedelics because you’re passionate about the ways it can end suffering and heal trauma, with the ultimate aim of changing laws. In this, you are taking a political stance. So I know you have a political viewpoint.

    I have personally benefitted, as have all your fans, from your deep-diving into a subject and then sharing the results. Will you not apply that same practice here?

    Some relevant quotes by you from your Ezra Klein interview:

    “This time we did something that I’m usually allergic to. We actually talked about politics.”

    “And before you cut bait and run because I said politics, realize that I never talk about politics. I feel like an ignoramus, and that is by design.”

    “For those people, and quite frankly myself who are wondering, because I have always had maybe the exact opposite inclination. Mostly due to family, but who talked a lot about politics a lot all the time and got into huge fights; I developed an allergy to it.”

    So it is uncomfortable.

    How many of your guests, in their many variations of excellence that you unpack and share with us all, have ever said that you should stay in your comfort zone?

    I understand that there are realities to running a business like yours, that you don’t want to just plunge into fruitless tribalist flamewars, and that your platform is predicated on giving others a voice, rather than emphasizing your own. But in the name of reaching for the next level, I encourage you to work on this aspect of your craft, so that the next time you interview someone like Charles Koch, you can go deeper. Even if your viewpoint vastly challenges my own, I want to hear it because it will make me stop and think (a la Mark Twain).

    Your friend Joe Rogan has become an important neutral platform for parlay in a highly polarized era of ‘Cold Civil War,’ giving voice to many important folks across the political spectrum and disseminating that marketplace of ideas across a paradoxically diverse audience. Ray Dalio says that one should seek out the opinions of people who disagree with you, and try to understand why they see the world that way. So yes, it’s important for there to be a venue to hear people like Charles Koch to try to understand their minds, especially when all of our lives may depend on it in the next decade or two as the climate crisis escalates.

    

As your audience continues to grow, and attracts guests that get higher in the upper echelons of power, I think it would be wise to move deeper into the journalist’s credo of speaking truth to that power. As a previous commenter said, “There is a real discrepancy between what many people believe about Charles Koch and, for example, what he says about climate change. This podcast did not clear that up or any of the other controversial topics. As a neutral, I feel you missed an opportunity.”



    You and your guests intend to teach us how to optimize our lives and reach for our full potential. But I don’t see how can we do that if the world we live in descends into climate crisis, water wars and geopolitical chaos, the way the IPCC scientists of the world are warning us with increasingly dire alarms. So when you say to Charles Koch ‘I don’t have a dog in this fight,’ that’s not really true.



    The truth is, you’ve reached a level of influence in the world where there’s a higher level of responsibility to be informed on the big questions of how we govern ourselves, because you’re steering a lot of hearts and minds now. Whether you want to play that role or not, you’re a leader. And we badly need bold, educated leadership at this moment in history.

    

Recommended reading:


    -“The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells


    -“Falter – Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?” By Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org

  27. This interview, unexpectedly, pulled back the curtain …. exposing things for what they really are. I’m afraid I can never again take Mr. Ferriss seriously.

  28. Few seem to appreciate a diversity of thought here from a very successful and generous person. Great interview and perspective Tim.

  29. To all of you who call someone evil because they disagree with you on climate change or some other political view. That kind of rhetoric is the biggest problem in this country.

    1. The “biggest problem” is being so politically corrupt as to NOT call out evil when it sits plainly in front of your face. This is the same manner of equivocation we hear from special-interest-funded “think tanks” such as Manhattan, Heritage, and Cato. Oh, wait, Koch’s own Cato Institute, among the biggest carbon / climate misinformation mills on the planet. Yes, pure evil rooted in oil interest greed. Evil.

      A vast and increasing number of qualified climate and environmental scientists are now warning that human-caused climate change, unchecked, will cause a massive die-off of humanity (i.e., food shortages, etc.). Can you think of a more evil profession than that which accelerates the extinction of humanity?

      Oh, July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on planet Earth.

      https://www.noaa.gov/news/july-2019-was-hottest-month-on-record-for-planet

      If the Koch anti-climate-science agenda and massive money spends against the common good isn’t evil, then nothing is. Full stop.

  30. I’ve listened to every single podcast Tim’s put out and for all the people that would unsubscribe after one interview they didnt agree with….. get a grip.

    Look at all the free info hes put out and good hes done in the world , it’s on another level.

    And as for Koch, whether you like him or not he has alot to teach anyone, use those lessons as you may.

  31. Tim,

    Like many of the commenters, I too was not inclined to listen because of my social/political leanings. Then I reconsidered in the name of ”knowing” my enemy. So glad I listened.

    First I was aware of the Koch Bros collaboration with Soros and Van Jones.

    I was also surprised by the candid admission of wealth and privilege.

    Most importantly I am grateful for the systematic break down if the Koch world view and the intellectual foundations in which they are based. For those who have not listened I am not talking about ideology. The interview discusses specific concepts and principals form the basis for a process of evaluating ideas that have led to the continued success of Koch Industries. While I may disagree with how the fruits of this success are used, I found this structured approach to thinking very informative.

    I think our culture suffers from an ”all or nothing” categorization process where if we disagree or take offense to one aspect of one person’s art, idea or enterprise we must reject it all. This interview shows why this process inhibits growth and limits possibilities.

    1. You have a point. We can all learn things from sociopath business leaders like Jeff Skilling, Bernie Madoff, Elizabeth Holmes, Ken Lay, Dennis Kozlowski, John Rigas, etc.

      It’s true, I did learn a couple interesting things from the interview. So what? There’s a massive elephant standing in the middle of the room, while you’re pointing at the little trophies and shiny objects on the periphery.

      Wake up, sleeper.

      The Koch org is the world’s #1 funder of climate science denial propaganda (look it up). Forget your little shiny trinkets. If you’re not outraged by this family’s massive spends against humanity, you are part of the problem.

      “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” — Elie Wiesel

      “Don’t be tempted by the shiny apple

      Don’t you eat of a bitter fruit

      Hunger only for a taste of justice

      Hunger only for a world of truth

      ‘Cause all that you have is your soul” — Tracy Chapman

  32. Climate change and environmental issues are probably the #1 issue facing humanity right now.

    “The Koch-sponsored advocacy group Americans for Prosperity has been at the forefront of climate-change opposition over the past decade.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/books/review/dark-money-by-jane-mayer.html

    And there’s no mention in the description, and no probing of this in the podcast episode.

    Disappointing that you glossed over that.

    Major missed opportunity.

  33. I have never been more disheartened by an interview that I was with this. It’s so sad to see Koch willingly destroying the planet portraying himself as a man of the people fighting against big government. We need government to protect against the private interests of Charles Koch. He has more power and less accountability then basically anyone alive right now. It’s sickening to see how he twists logic and shifts the problem away from his seismic contributions to systemic disinformation, stacking public opinion towards corporate interests. 2/3 of oil needs to straight up stay in the ground, abd were letting him talk about the good hes doing? How about taking your hands off of our necks instead of helping a few local groups. This is the whole idea behind the book Winners Take All, your gifts (tax free) buy you undue influence and power. For someone that sees themselves as looking at all of the long-term negatives of specific policies how does he not see what he’s done to create 3 to 4 degrees of expected warming. Then when asked about whether he funds climate denialism, he dodged the question by saying I hope not? I expected a true question and response and challenging the opinions of Kochs fool’s logic. This was cupcake after cupcake giving this man a cozy platform. Charles Koch is trying to rebrand himself, to himself. He has not come close to facing the suffering he’s created for future generations, all from the ideal that government is bad. You gave him exactly what he doesn’t deserve, the belief that he’s a good person. I was so disheartened

    I will check back on this website and if Ferris doesn’t offer any remorse, I’m out. And YES I listened to the whole interview.

  34. I enjoyed the pod. Learned several new things about Charles Koch and you highlighted several initiatives that most didn’t know he is involved in, while asking pointed questions. Well Done!

  35. Tim, I listened and learned. I found Koch to be a real person with aspirations and flaws. He sounded humble and motivated to help. My bias is towards libertarian thinking, so I would agree with him naturally more than others, so I take that into account. He sounded to me like someone who thinks they can make a difference and has the wealth to start that affect, and has done so consistently.

    What I really liked, that I think many commenters missed, was his talk of alignment with the Republican party… and then they had to refocus (or however he said it). That was an interesting way of putting it that they are willing to help and fund candidates that are willing to forward their agenda. Which I find humorous that others are condemning them while lauding Soros who is doing the exact opposite, except it seems where he has in common with Koch. Look, if someone agrees with you, you tend to support them. Koch does it with money.

    As an attempt at constructive criticism, it did seem as if you were a little intimidated with him. That might be why others were thinking you softballed it with him. Not sure, take it for what it may be worth (probably not even 2 cents, LOL)

    Thank you for letting me sit in with you and Charles, it was informative.

    -RT

    1. As I have continued to read the comments, I realize these people are upset that you did not fight their Goliath. You did not slay the demon metaphorically. Funny, people want you to create the drama of attacking him to “hold him accountable” which would do nothing and create nothing but divide and less communication. And now they permanently discard you because you did not live up to their expectations.

  36. In July, the Kochs partnered with liberal investor and philanthropist George Soros to found the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a think tank dedicated to promoting peaceful U.S. foreign policy. So “evil”.

  37. Great interview Tim and thanks for taking the time to share it. Please do not be dissuaded in any way by the negativity and haters. I was struck by all the comments of people who somehow hate the guy but do not take the time to listen and learn. This is what happens when people zero in on their own preferred “news” organizations and stop paying attention to the facts. I have taken the time to research his Stand Together initiative and it is the real deal. And his comments on responsible capitalism are ahead of the times; witness the recent issuance on corporate responsibility from corporate leaders just this week – Koch has been doing that since the 60’s. Keep up the good work!

  38. Tim,

    Awesome interview of an experienced and powerful guy. I’m an entrepreneur in the Midwest running a 100 person team and get tired of California liberal podcasts (not yours :). This shows how actually open minded you are, I really value it. Most of your guests thoughts are really logical and intelligent and truly give me great principles that apply today. For those that think steel is a dirty industry,stop driving cars and crossing bridges and we can talk, but you can’t get the benifits without the challenges. After listening to this podcast, I feel Mr. Koch is a great representative of common Sense and what’s good about biz today. That’s for giving a little love to those outside the liberal California bubble.

  39. Thanks Tim!

    I am a huge fan of your podcast. I surprised reading some of the comments and criticism. Koch obviously is not an average citizen. He has lots of power and wealth and uses them toward his goals wether they are right or wrong but that has nothing to do with the interview itself.Interview was great and include rich dialogues with lots of take aways.

    Thanks

    Amir

  40. I listened to most of this. Unfortunately, what it shows is then when Tim steps out of his comfort zone and engages on something other than performance and self-improvement, he is a lightweight. If he’d had any degree of self-awareness and responsibility he would have realized he wasn’t equipped to be anything other than a propaganda tool for the Kochs and their decades long quest to undermine democracy and the environment for their profit, and wouldn’t have posted this. Really disappointing. Like others on this thread, I’m out of the Tim Ferriss world until he shows that he appreciates how he was used.

  41. I work in the sustainability field, and so had plenty of perception bias as to the Koch brothers. Plenty of wisdom to take from the episode, and interesting to learn about the Koch family and the context for Charles life. I particularly appreciated learning about Stand Together and Charles attitudes to life principles for young people, the references to von Mises work…and was reassured to hear that Charles is a scientist at the core.

  42. My sympathies to the Koch family on their loss. Tim, was Charles’s interview prompted by David’s knowledge of his imminent death?

    It’s my hope that his passing in some mysterious and cathartic way causes the remaining family members, especially Charles, to deeply re-consider their role in spreading climate science denial, and the pain and suffering it continues to wreak upon our world.

    We are beyond climate change. It is a full-blown climate emergency.

  43. Though I was shocked to see C. Koch was on your podcast, I gave you the benefit of the doubt becauseI have listened and admired your work for years. I wanted to hear for myself if the negative rhetoric about C. Koch was simply overblown left-wing group speak. So I listened to the podcast, and I must say I’m disappointed. I’m OK with unpacking some of his activities, and yes, there have got to be some positive initiatives (like Stand Together) that are worth talking about and he’s obviously an exceptionally astute businessman with an impressive roster of achievements. However, though you promised not to soft-ball him and serve some real ‘haymakers’ in the podcast, you asked him fluffy questions for 90% of the time that never got anywhere near the controversy that surrounds him, and then almost apologetically read out some ‘reader questions’ to distance yourself from the content. When he then avoided anything resembling a straight answer you did not press him on it. Very disappointing. I’ll have to consider if I can listen to your podcast any more…

  44. Love him or hate him this was a great inside interview of Charles Koch.

    Tim keep up the great interviews! You clearly pointed out that some of the more liberal learning listeners may not like it. I have conservative friends who sound just as hateful. I always say “seek first to understand” before passing judgment.

  45. What a tragic and disappointing collection of comments here. I was convinced my fellow Tim Ferris fans were truly enlightened, open-minded, intellectually curious, liberty-seeking, free-speech tolerant souls. Not so by this collection of whining, judgmental, feet-stamping, cry-baby posts. So many here have been spoon-fed a life narrative of black and white and fail to see that it’s all GRAY. Very disappointing. Don’t let the mob-rule mentality impact you Tim. Soldier on.

  46. I’m proud of Tim for this conducting this interview despite the criticism he knew he would face. A maturing stoic to be sure.

    For those that don’t have a dog in this fight. Charles Koch stands for individual rights, not mob rule, but that is processed by (far too many) people as “attacking democracy”. He also stands for the scientific method, but people see that as “anti-science” and a threat to the planet. If you question or oppose it’s because you aren’t as sophisticated. Just look at all the comments here that attack Charles Koch for what happened at Koch Foods, a company he has no interest in but just happened to be founded by a man with the same first and last name as Charles’ father. Just listen to some of those questions from the audience and tell me their conclusions are reached by logic and reasoned thought.

  47. Hi Tim

    I was disappointed in the interview with Charles Koch. I think you let him off too easy without asking him the “hard questions.” It is ok to push someone to get the full story.

    My research indicates that Charles Koch has been denying climate change since 1995 when he and his brother funded the Cato Institute. His bottom line is the increased income from fossil fuels that his company owns.

    I appreciate that he has supported non-profits, but some do that to polish their reputations. His is hard to put lipstick on.

    Elizabeth

  48. Tim, I never comment on anything. This interview was atrocious. Makes me wonder if you ever do any research on your interviewees. This person ousted a republican congressman for supporting cap and trade last decade. The Kochs have devastated the nation’s effort to address climate change. They have made the issue toxic and untouchable for 1/2 of the nation. They pay protestors to fight legislation aimed at change. Any you let him off with something like ‘we want laws that work and don’t harm people?’ Soft. Balls. Do your research. This is fair criticism and I think you should do a podcast to address it.

  49. I’m going to come at this from a conservative perspective. I have listened to nearly every interview you have done and I found it very interesting that you had to do 5 minutes of disclaimer at the beginning of this interview. Where was that disclaimer when you interviewed Ezra Klein, Cory Booker or the other number of political (or who made the conversation political) guests that you have had on? Are your liberal listeners that close-minded that they can’t possibly listen to another perspective? I can’t stand Cory Booker but I learned something from his podcast and even though I completely disagree with his solutions, I could at least see where he is coming from. Maybe if he actually worked with people he could have been an instrumental part of the First Step Act. Secondly, I completely disagree with David on immigration and his pro-death for babies stand. Did you seriously have no one come up with questions to question him from the right? Every question was so jaded from the left it was painful. Please be a little more balanced in your audience-sourced questions but thanks for having a great discussion with him. He is a fascinating man and I highly respect much of what he does.

    1. I’m liberal and also found the listener questions incredibly embarrassing, painful and useless to some extent. Without any follow up on your part we weren’t able to understand his stance very well.

      There were numerous times throughout the conversation where I was baffled by what I considered his inconsistent message and you could have pushed him a bit to clarify (e.g. efforts that appear to oppose science, climate change, and mass transit)

      I realize that your main focus is deconstructing the techniques that has made him so successful. It’s nice to hear him speak at length on that- it is useful despite the fact that I find much of their work abhorrent.

    1. Melis Not sure why you feel Tim has to respond to any of the ridiculous comments about this interview, if you did not like the guest OK I get it, he knows and was aware that it was going to upset some delicate listeners prior to even doing the interview. I see no reason he needs to respond for 1 EPISODE that you didn’t agree with. This makes no sense, I am not saying you have to agree with Koch or that Tim did the interview but having an opportunity to simply listen to another person or as some here seem to think he is the devil reincarnated, even if that was true its free!! Why is that so hard for a portion people here to understand???

  50. Tim, I really appreciated the interview with Charles Koch. I listened to it twice and took notes because I felt there were many great talking points. I have also forwarded it to several people. Diversity of opinion and thought are so needed in today’s public arena and I am thankful that you are courageous enough to present this content. I specifically appreciated Charles’ perspective on finding common interests that you can align with other’s on despite not agreeing on all things. Attack the issues, not the person. Stand Together is a great example of this philosophy. Thanks again and I look forward to future thought-provoking interviews!

  51. absolutely wonderful idea to have him on. we need to look for truth and innovation everywhere. the personal with the better morality can learn from those who take advantage of others. don’t shut your ears to people you don’t like, just use your mind to pick the good from the bad.

  52. WTF are you doing giving a platform to the worst climate change denier and to the single source of funds to corrupt our fragile democracy? Citizens United – Moscow Mitch – all came from Koch brother funds. If they want to ameliorate their miserable legacy through targeted philanthopy I would point them to the Sackler family to see how that worked out. Seriously – are you that naive? https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/opinion/sunday/david-koch-climate-change.html

  53. I’m now done with all things Tim Ferris. I’ve got all his books, regularly listen to his podcast, but this? It’s not some hard hitting piece on how Koch and is brother waged war on climate science, funded racists organizations, used their wealth and position to viciously attack any journalist who dared to write negative things about them and so, so, so much more.This is a puff propaganda piece that seeks to normalize and whitewash this monster. Tim has quite clearly aligned himself with evil to make a buck. I’ll never listen to another of his podcasts, never buy another book, I’ll never do ANYTHING that will put a single cent into his pockets after this crap. I hope many others will also boycott his work going forward, but whether they do or not, I refuse to align myself with ANYONE who thinks it’s ok to normalize evil.

  54. Great episode. Thank you for standing up to the cancel culture. I’m surprised at the number of negative comments here. I thought Ferriss listeners had a deeper understanding of how the modern world functions. Koch’s ideas are important and need to be better understood on all sides. There is nothing evil about employing thousands and improving the lives of billions through continuous innovation.

  55. Tim’s interviews are never that deep or hard-hitting. But this one was especially lazy. Do your homework and ask the tough questions if you expect people to take you seriously.

    Anyone can read Koch’s drivel and get his simplistic views. Your job is to uncover new insights…

  56. I usually enjoy listening to the podcast, and am certainly open to opposing points of view, but unfortunately, as many have pointed out in the comments section, the interview was very complacent. And the supposed ‘hardballs’ were answered in a pure PR fashion with not even the slightest pushback from Tim.

  57. I agree with many others here – not one of your more edifying interviews. I was looking forward to learning something about the man who mostly is vilified in the circles I run in. And I did. But with such a controversial figure as Charles Koch it was disappointingly unbalance for mostly PR friendly content with very little inquiry into some of the more difficult aspects of his and Koch Industry’s influence over politics and environmental standards. The 2 or 3 questions you offered up on behalf of a friend/associate towards the end were delivered almost apologetically and without any followup or seeming substantive understanding of what was being asked. So again CK was allowed to answer unchecked as if there were no down side to his work or philosophy. There’s plenty of material out there, such as https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Kochland/Christopher-Leonard/9781476775388. Unfortunately a wasted opportunity for the man to speak to what will no doubt be a tainted, if not infamous, legacy.

  58. I listened to his platitudes, quotes from others like Maslow about ‘visions and values’ etc. etc. etc….Mr. Koch may be trying to rehabilitate the onerous history of his contributions to world-wide environmental denigration, the influence of money in politics and actively undermining the democratic process as a whole, and much more, but he has failed. I was hoping for some tougher questions and a stop setting him up by tossing softballs. So bloody disappointing, Mr. Ferris. This guy, his deceased brother and the company they created have actively undermined democracy for decades so no, he does not deserve a platform to rewrite the history that has already been written. I’m all in for conversations that are lively and informative AND hard-hitting when necessary. This was an extended rebranding commercial and nothing more in my opinion.

  59. I cant beleive the Koch fortune was based on a $300 investment made by Charles’ father!

    Thanks for the uncommon interview of what i, and many others likely, have always considered a public pariah and general evil person. I am changed.

  60. I have observed and believe that a lot of the power is hidden and not covered by the media. Here are some things to consider regarding “following the money”..

    Read the article
    [Moderator: link removed.]

    Read the comment
    [Moderator: link removed.]

    Who’s who of how Koch policies and ideas continue to thrive in American politics
    [Moderator: link removed.]

    I don’t really believe what comes out of his mouth. Where is his money actually going? and to what efforts is it going to? I bet there was an agreement with Tim and Koch to not discuss “certain issues” on the podcast. I’d be surprised if there was not. If really there was no such agreement, then let there be a follow up interview with some different questions for Charles, based on the above web sites. It seems the Koch network does a lot to undercut the environment and protections. I don’t like that, since I have to live on this earth for a while longer, and so dear reader, do you also. Make your own judgments..

  61. I really enjoyed this interview. I believe Koch’s insights were strong. I bought several resources that were mentioned. Many of the comments on this post epitomize Cancel Culture and are unhealthy to the exchanging of ideas. We’ve got to re-learn to listen to people we don’t see eye to eye with. Many of the commenters posted they wouldn’t listen to the interview because of the political views of this interviewee. This is just one man’s opinion, but I believe that attitude is a shame and reflects more on the closed-mindedness of those posting than those they post about.