Please enjoy this transcript of another live Q&A with supporters of The Tim Ferriss Show, who participated in the “fan-supported model” experiment earlier this year. (I later decided to stop the experiment. You can read more about why here.)
We covered many topics: abundance mindset, balding, how I think about building a legacy, how to improve verbal tics, Lyme disease, cultivating gratitude, the grieving process, my morning routine when on a book deadline, 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: Test, test, test. Can you hear me? Can you hear me whispering from the internet?
First and foremost, thanks so much to everyone for attending, if you are attending this live, you are a small and elite force of supporters who chose to support the podcast and my other activities in the short-lived fan-supported experiment. So thank you for that, and we’re doing a bonus live video Q & A, just for that group. And that’s you guys, so thanks so much. And I’m excited to do this. I am working on a new book. I am going booze free from Monday to Friday evening, and then I’m allowed to have a little bit of booze, which I do use for writing. I try to follow the Ernest Hemingway “write drunk” in my case, only partially drunk two nights a week, Friday, Saturday, and “edit sober.” So I write drunk, edit sober. That’s Hemingway. Mine is a little more constrained.
Today we’re going to do live questions, and we’ll also do questions that have been submitted by all of you. I have a few pages printed out. I’ve selected a handful that I’m going to tackle, and we’ll go back and forth. So we’ll do 20 minutes of submitted questions, and then 20 minutes of live, 20 minutes submitted, et cetera, back and forth. The wine may affect my perception of time, so we’ll see how that goes. Let’s just jump right into it.
Question number one is from Justin. “You mentioned verbal tics in your last Q & A. Did you always speak as well as you currently do?”
“If not, what are the things you did to introove. Introove. See? Here we go. It’s just the placebo effect of this half glass of wine that I’ve had. What did you do to improve your extemporaneous speaking? That’s a hard word. Both on the podcast and Q & A sessions like this?”
Number one is record yourself. This is true for skill improvement, whether it’s sports-related, language-related, that could be primary or secondary or tertiary language. You need a record that you can analyze. So record yourself talking. That could be over dinner with friends. It could be in an interview format. Does not have to be for publication, and that will highlight many of the habits that you have, which could be words or phrases that are used for fillers, like “like,” “you know,” like, is another one. Or “uh,” would be one. “So” was one of my favorites. And there are words that you may use as crutches or very frequently. I used “pretty.” The adverb pretty. “That’s pretty good. That’s pretty bad. That’s pretty expensive. That’s pretty this, pretty that.” One of the ways that I forced myself to address that specifically was by adding fucking after pretty. So whenever I said, “That’s pretty,” I was obligated to say, “fucking expensive. That’s pretty fucking irritating. That’s pretty fucking whatever.” And that mental hijack of sorts, that interrupt, helped me to tone down my use of pretty very dramatically.
Writing helps to improve your speaking. If you, for instance, develop the habit of identifying sentences that are trying to do too much and breaking them into multiple sentences, looking at transcripts of yourself speaking is very helpful. Those are a few of the remedies that come to mind, and we all have things to work on, but there are generally some low-hanging fruit that you can tackle right off the bat. It starts with recording and/or looking at a transcript.
Next question. I have no idea how to pronounce this. Mikkel Sciegienny. “Naval recently did an epic tweetstorm on how to get rich. What would Tim’s answer be on how to build wealth?”
I think I would generally agree with Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, and I’ll paraphrase. Certainly don’t mean to speak for him, but I select projects based on predominantly skill acquisition, skills I’ll develop or acquire, and relationships that I will either foster or develop from scratch, that will transcend the project I’m working on. This is very important because what I’m trying to ensure is that I can win over time, even if the project fails. So when I choose different projects, I’m looking at opportunities that will help me to develop relationships with people who hopefully I would enjoy spending time with, who are awesome at what they do, who I could work with for my entire life. And that’s certainly a Naval-ism. If you wouldn’t work with them for 10 minutes, don’t work with them—or “if you wouldn’t work with them forever, don’t work with them for 10 minutes,” is one of his maxims, so to speak. Something along those lines. And I tend to agree with that, symbolically more than literally, of course.
And what that allows you to do is, over time, to accumulate skills and relationships that can be applied to many different things. And when you develop relationships with, let’s just say 10 people who are all A-list capable in their field, A-listers tend to know other A-listers across industries. So you don’t need to know a person in every industry. If you know one really incredible, say, designer, meaning designer for Web applications, they will know other A-players in the stack, so to speak, related to developing a product. They may know also A-tier investors who happen to specialize in this space and so on. If you know a top-tier photographer, say, who works in fashion and travel, they will know then, A-tier players who are models, who are agents, who are publicists, who are fill in the blank. And that is to say, you don’t need to collect a hundred business cards in your pocket to build a fantastic network. You really just need to develop relationships with people, A, you really like and who like you, spending time with you say, over wine or meals, and to cultivate those over time. And part of the way you do that is by having them overlap with your projects or be involved with opportunities you choose.
And that is really the trick. If there is a trick, that’s one of them. The second would be cap your downsider to find your downside. You could look at the story of Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic, how that was started and how he negotiated, for instance, with Boeing, I believe it was, to return planes that were leased if things didn’t work out. He was able to cap the maximum financial downside. And as soon as you can do that, and you understand your worst case scenario and can hopefully quantify it, then the upside very often takes care of itself. That’s not true in relationships, meaning intimate or personal relationships. The upside does not take care of itself. But in business, that can be hardwired to have an advantage play. Hardwired, or enabled to have a comparative advantage in playing through, say, informational advantage, which I had for early-stage startups when I lived in Silicon Valley. So those would be a few thoughts.
Next question. Charles Johnson. “What core concepts or philosophies would you teach your hypothetical child so she could 10X your success? What definition of success did you just use?”
I don’t like this word success, because it’s so overused to have become meaningless. There is no agreed upon definition, and that makes conversations using that word very dangerous. Also true with words like god or you name it. There are dozens and hundreds and thousands of these words that are routinely used, but if you were to look at two or three people having an awful, violent debate about something, or just a heated debate about one of these words, if you asked each of them how they define the term, they would be different. So they’re having different conversations in their own heads, fighting with empty jackets in a sense, so that’s pointless.
Success is really not the word I would use, but if I wanted her—and in this case since you used she—to be highly capable and intelligent in the sense if we want to look at general intelligence as the ability to adapt and solve problems, another way to think of it would be to learn and solve problems, to be an autodidact, then there are really two key—if we want to call it concepts—that I would focus on. One is actually more of a philosophical framework, and the second is more of a toolkit. But they reflect the micro and macro in both directions and hopefully I’ll make clear what I mean by that.
The first comes from a friend of mine, Mike Maples, Jr., a very successful entrepreneur and investor who’s been on the Midas List. And I recall at one point, we were on a hike, and I asked him what advice he would give to a new parent or someone thinking about becoming a parent. And we talked about quite a few things, but the one that stood out that I’ll mention now is he effectively said, “The most important thing is to teach your kids to be optimists—to train them to be optimists—because without that, you’re lost. With the ability to see the silver lining, to see the benefits of even a very dire situation, you can at least look for and see solutions. And if you conversely have a pessimistic lens, you could look at the same situation and see only problems.”
So number one is really making a concerted, consistent effort to train your kids to be optimists. That’s number one.
Number two, and this might sound strange coming from me, is coding—learning to code. And I use coding, even though I’m not a coder, because from what I’ve seen in my friends, and I know a lot of friends who are programmers and coders, it is a very, very effective, quickly iterative way to develop structured thinking and problem-solving using a portable toolkit. And every one of those words I pick very carefully. And one way to think of it is that good coders are good scientists. Very good coders are very good scientists. They’re good at trying to replicate. They’re good at trying to falsify. They’re good at applying constraints. And the best coders I’ve met also search for elegance and find beauty in code, much like poetry.
There’s a certain economy that is respected. I would, perhaps in a different age, have said science—and science within the confines of research or academia—but that can be very stifling and very bureaucratic and I wouldn’t want to push her into that type of environment. I think that coding, as a skill set, is very rapidly deployable. It’s mobile. You do not need an expensive lab or research assistants for which you need to apply to the NIH for grants and so on to fund. Coding is very expedient, very practical. So, coding would be one. I think that would also teach efficiency. So we’ve got optimism, coding. I don’t code. I would like to learn to code, or rather, put a better way—learn is so sloppy; it’s very, very nebulous—I would like to do a coding boot camp of some type. I think it would add some connections between synapses in my brain that would be fun at the very least, probably exhausting, and also beneficial given my exposure to the natural language.
So we’ve got optimism, coding, and then the last one that I took a note on is music. I initially put down art. This is for aesthetic appreciation and observation. Developing skills of observation. I remember speaking with Ed Catmull, president—or at least then-president of Pixar—on the podcast. He went from, I believe physics—or rather art—to computer science. He went from art to computer science, if memory serves me correctly. He said something along the lines of, “People think that’s a very strange switch, but it’s not because—” I think it was physics, actually. Art to physics. “– in both cases, you are learning how to see.” Drawing is not how to move your hand; it is learning how to see. Painting is not learning which colors to dip the paintbrush in—that’s certainly a downstream effect—but ultimately, you need to be able to see. So that would be the benefit of visual art.
I think that music also helps to cultivate perception and awareness and paying attention that happens to be auditory. The reason I put down music instead of art—I could certainly also have art, but a lot of people, myself included, drop art after say high school or college. And my hope would be that I could introduce my daughter, in this case, to music that is collaborative. Some type of music that she is able to use with friends or in front of friends around a campfire, that type of thing, so that it travels with her throughout life, unlike coding, which can be very solid.
Derek is the next question. “When all is said and done, and it’s lights out for good, what do you want people to remember about you and what you’ve done or are going to do? In essence, what would you want your eulogy to be?”
I don’t think all too much about legacy, to be honest. I focus on legacy, but I don’t think much about it. That might sound strange, but I try to do things that will have some lasting impact, but—I mentioned Naval earlier. He’s also fond of asking—and I think he did this in our initial podcast—how many Samaritans do you know? How many Babylonians do you know? Entire civilizations viewed as the pinnacle of achievement of humankind at the time, erased. Turned to dust. So I have no delusions about the persistence of my legacy as such, but the other question, what would I want my eulogy to be? Something along the lines of, “He created thousands or hopefully millions of learners who are better than he was.” That’s it. My goal with almost everything I do is to try to make myself obsolete as quickly as possible.
I want people who read, say, The 4-Hour Body or Tools of Titans, or any of these books that have what seem like outrageous examples of doing a lot in very short periods of time, whether that’s physical change, building companies, or otherwise. I want readers to pick that up and do something better. And with every book so far, from The 4-Hour Workweek all the way through to Tribe of Mentors, I’ve seen that, which makes me happy because that’s my goal. So there you have it.
All right. I’m going to answer one more on the submitted questions, and then we’re going to go to live Q & A. But first, I’m going to have a sip of this wine. I’ll show the label to people who are here on video, and then I will read it for those who are joining us, maybe, at some later date, audio only. This is Zarate from, it looks like, El Palomar winery, and it is Albarino. This is a gift, and I’m digging it. So there you have it. Tim Ferriss drinking white wine. What the hell has the world come to?
Question from Brandon Beckett. And this is a long one, so I’m going to read it quickly. “You mentioned really briefly that you have lost some people close to you recently. I’ve been lucky enough to not have lost many people, but a recent loss just utterly destroyed me to the point where I was physically ill for two months. Despite practicing stoicism and mindfulness exercising, I really was not prepared for this, and I don’t know how to prepare for it to better handle it next time. I understand this is personal and not fun to talk about, but my question is, how do you deal with losing someone close? Any tips or resources or personal stories on learning to handle loss that have worked for you?”
Number one, I would recognize that it is more than okay, it is natural, and I think healthy to grieve and to mourn. So you shouldn’t view that as a defect of your character, or a problem to be solved, necessarily. And I say necessarily because there are books and other things that I think can give you perspective that allow you to metabolize it, perhaps the loss of someone close in a more fluid way. The first is On Grief and Grieving. This is a book that was recommended to me by Matt Mullenweg after he lost his father. Matt’s a very dear friend of mine. Lost his father very unexpectedly, and he wished he had read the book before his father passed. So I think On Grief and Grieving—that’s the title of the book—is very useful for preparing yourself for the inevitable losses that you will face. We’re all going to die. It’s morbid, but it’s a reality check that everyone you love will die. Unless we happen to solve the immunity, immortality elixir sometime soon, which I would not bet on.
There’s tremendous value in realizing that because it increases the perceived value of the time that you have left with the people you care about. There’s an essay I highly recommend called The Tail End by Tim Urban. It really puts it in perspective. And I think the number that’s used, at least for Tim, what he noticed, looking at average lifespans and so on, is that if he lives to be 90 years old, which is already pushing it and quite an assumption, and if his parents live long enough that they are alive while he’s in his 60s, I believe is how he put it, that by the time he graduated from high school and left home, he had spent 93 percent of all of the hours with his parents that he would ever spend with them. In other words, from the graduation of high school until their deaths is seven percent of the total hours that you will spend with them. And that really put things in perspective for me. So that prioritized blocking out time with family well in advance. Very important. Spending money on that. Very important, if necessary.
I would surmise that many of the regrets people have, or the feeling of incompleteness or life interrupted that they experience when someone close to them dies, is because there are things they wanted to say that they didn’t say. There are things they wanted to be heard that weren’t heard, and so on. And The Tail End puts the timeline into such perspective that it helped me to take the initiative and have a lot of those conversations already with parents, with my brother, with close friends. And I don’t hesitate to say—this sounds perhaps cheesy to some people, but—”Love you. Much love to you and yours. Love you, bro. I’m really happy that you’re in my life,” to friends and so on. I used to be very sparing with the word love, and I am no longer that way.
The other piece, which I’m not advocating for—I always have to give this preface because I’m not a doctor. I don’t play one on the internet, and I do not recommend you do anything that is illegal in your jurisdiction, but psychedelic experience also, I think gives you a lens into what people may experience when they die. And if you look at Imperial College of London, they’ve looked quite closely at the comparison of intravenous DMT, that’s N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, and near-death experiences, and they map very closely. I’m not recommending that you do IV DMT, by the way. I think that one, it can, and many people have had experiences like that under the influence of many of the classic psychedelics. There are risks involved, obviously, but my past personal experiences with some of these compounds have led me to be much less worried about dying. Which, it turns out, is a rather common side effect, including with patients who are suffering from life-threatening diagnoses with cancer, for instance. That’s the last piece that I’ll add to that. And, with that, let’s jump into the live questions. And another sip of wine.
“When is the next in-person meetup?” Vince. “The short notice movie screening was great for people in Austin, but tough for the rest of us.”
I’m hoping to do more of those as I travel around. It’s a lot of fun.
Robby Wade. “What have you learned about love since being in your latest relationship? How do you tackle society’s binary options?”
Well, binary options, I kind of throw out as a matter of course. It’s very rare when someone says you can do A or B that that is true. There’s almost always a C, or a D, or an E, or an F option. They might not be options that are attractive, but they’re always options. So, if you don’t like your situation, you have options. You always have options. You just might not like those options, but never forget that you have agency. You do have options. You do have the ability to choose. So that’s part one. Learned about love, I would say that this reminds me of the second point that Mike Maples, Jr., made to me about parenting.
Number one, you might recall I said earlier was teach your kids optimism. Number two was remember that they don’t owe you anything. You chose to bring them into the world, not the other way around. Or, I should say, they didn’t ask. You can get super metaphysical about this, but they didn’t ask to be brought into the world. You brought them in. They don’t owe you anything. And their job is to receive love, not to give love.
And I think that what I’ve certainly learned for myself is that for love to permeate my relationship, say with my current girlfriend, the fastest way to get to a saturation point where I feel like we are in a constant flow of love—that there’s a lot of the things that surface in the perceived absence of love. Insecurity, et cetera. To prevent that, all I have to do is try to express love and feel love and gratitude for love. If I do those things, the receipt of love, as explicitly demonstrated by my girlfriend, becomes less important. She’s very demonstrative anyway, so I’m in luck with that, but by doing all of those things, I can tangibly get the benefits of love and not be dependent on being given it in very obvious ways like an oxygen mask. I don’t need the oxygen mask if I focus on the giving. Maybe that is a very dissatisfying answer, but that’s the best I can do right now.
Yub Yu. “Do I drink beer?”
I don’t drink beer. I have enjoyed beer in the past, especially when I was pretty poor and ended up in Munich at one point, and the bottled water was something like five euros, and the liters of beer were one. So I drank them even though I get a semi-allergic reaction. But I don’t drink much beer these days.
This is from Gunasai Garapati. “Has your morning routine changed in recent times? If so, what are the new additions?”
Yes, it has. It has changed recently because I’m on book deadline. And when I am on book deadline, per Neil Gaiman on the podcast, the closer to Groundhog Day I can get with my days, the more productive I am. Therefore, my often lengthy morning routines where I wake up and do the meditation and The Five-Minute Journal and Morning Pages and so on and so forth, has been replaced with writing. And I really try to win the morning to win the day. And this is something that I’ve heard echoed by Gary Keller, who is co-author of The ONE Thing, for instance, and many other people. I, these days, wake up much earlier than usual. So I’m waking up around 6:30. And I then throw on the electric kettle to boil water, or get it more or less to 190, so not boiling. Then I go take my supplements for the morning and come back. The water’s ready to go. I take chaga mushroom powder, which I have from Four Sigmatic. And then a teaspoon of soluble Yerba Maté tea from a brand—I believe it’s called Matte Leão. Matte Leão. Leão is lion. I’m sure I’m mangling that in Portuguese, but it’s a soluble Yerba Maté that I really like, and I mix that together.
I take that, along with a thermos of hot water, and I walk to my outdoor patio, where I’m sitting right now, with my triangular wooden table, which you can see on Instagram. I put it up in the last week or so as my office, and I immediately get to work. If I wake up earlier for some reason, I might do a 20-minute meditation, but otherwise, I come right out, and I have a big whiteboard easel with my chapters, or writing pieces that I’m working on for that day, and I immediately begin working on the writing. That is, ideally, first on paper.
So I will have printed out drafts that I worked on the day before, and I’ll do editing on paper, and then I’ll jump into the laptop to make those edits. That goes from, say, 6:30 to 9:30 or so, maybe 10:00. At that point, I exercise. And that could take the form of a class, that could take the form of cycling, that could take the form of weight training. Generally something endurance related. Also, if the weather’s nice, I’ll get out into the sun. That’s from say 10:00 to 11:30, something like that. Have lunch, and then it is back to writing.
And in the afternoon, that would be up until about, say, 5:00 or 6:00, taking a break every hour or so for ping pong, for five minutes, and I use a timer. With one of my researchers, we’ll play. And then, we wrap up around say, 7:00. Dinner’s at 7:30 whether at a restaurant or cooking. And dinner—maybe a sauna, in a barrel sauna for say, 10 to 20 minutes with cooling off in the pool in between rounds. Bed with a Marpac Dohm white noise machine, and the temperature’s set to, maximum, 70 degrees. Bedtime, wake up, rinse, and repeat. That’s what the day looks like.
Tutus, I think. Tutus NToes. “Do you believe in the law of attraction and abundance thinking?”
This is a very fair question. I believe that the questions you ask yourself create a lens through which you view the world, and that we all have selective attention in that there are different ways to choose what you select to see. Much like when you buy say, a new car. If you happen to buy a—could be anything—a Tesla, a certain model Tesla. Chances are, you’re going to go driving, and you will see Teslas everywhere. You will now notice all of the Teslas that were already there that you had just allowed to pass through your vision un-noted before. The abundance thinking, law of attraction, Secret camp, I think, goes a little off the rails when they posit that if you simply put a mantra out into the world, or a vision board, that all these things are going to manifest automatically. Despite all the crazy shit that I talk about and all the psychedelic experiences and so on, that particular breed of law of attraction, magical thinking, I think is very reckless and generally unproductive.
But, if you say, look at the four books I recommend at the back of The 4-Hour Workweek, as the four fundamental reads, or something like that, one of them is The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. And one could read that book and say, “Well, wait a second. This is all the stuff that the law of attraction, abundance thinking people talk about. It is, and it is very much focused on actionable next steps, and how you take that and translate it into a plan that you can implement. So I would say yes. On one hand, I do think that abundance, much like the book of the same title by Peter Diamandis, the chairman of the X Prize, is a good default setting. Looking for solutions instead of complaining about problems. That’s Molly, my lovely pooch barking in the background. She’s decided that barking’s really fun in the last few months.
So abundance is a good default setting, and I do think, as mentioned earlier that training yourself for optimism has a whole host—I mean, innumerable benefits. But the belief that you can put together a vision board and that the world is going to give you everything you want, or something along those lines, I think is not likely to pan out very well. So that’s that.
Let’s see here. Andrew. “What’s a good way to get your network started if you’ve neglected it for say—30 years?”
I would Google How to Build a World-Class Network in Record Time, which is a presentation I gave at South by Southwest. That will tell you exactly how I’d go about doing it.
Let’s see. Elianne, if I’m getting your name right. “Did I become more nurturing since I got Molly?”
Yes, I would say absolutely. And I’ve become less self-centered, which I think is probably the prerequisite. Not that I was a complete asshole beforehand. I hope not. But we are all self-centered in the sense that we focus on the self. We are the lead actor or actress in our own movie. Having a dog, for me at least, has forced me to constantly consider the needs of someone or something outside of myself. And it has also forced me to contend with messes of all sorts. My dog gets diarrhea in the middle of the night and shits all over my room, which has happened. I had to have carpets removed. It makes no sense for me to get furious with my dog. The dog doesn’t want to shit on the carpet. Molly doesn’t—she’s not doing that to exact revenge upon me. She doesn’t have thumbs. She can’t open the door. Can’t go outside and spray paint the nearby shrub or whatever. So it’s also been a really good mirror for me, in the sense that I’m able to look at my reaction to things that are outside my control.
That’s particularly helpful when you have dear, innocent Molly, who would never deliberately do anything to upset me or anger me. So it’s been a wonderful practice, I should say. And she’s certainly had a comprehensively wonderful effect on my life. But if you are thinking of getting a dog, number one, please consider adopting. I adopted Molly. There are a lot of dogs that need adoption. And number two is don’t get a dog if your plan is to fit it around everything else in your life.
Get a dog if you can say, “I’m going to get a dog, and it’s so important to me that I help this dog have a wonderful life, and therefore help increase the likelihood of me having a wonderful life, that I’m going to fit everything around the dog. I’m going to change my schedule, I’m going to—I am willing to change my schedule, I am willing to spend money, and I’m willing to do duh-duh-duh-duh-duh to ensure this dog gets exercise and has the life it should have. And I’ve decided that that is the big rock I’m putting in my jar, and then there are the smaller stones and the sand. But the dog goes in first. It’s not the last thing that is left over, and it gets the table scraps of life.” That’s my two cents.
If you want more on training and so on, thinking about all of this, Susan Garrett is a fantastic dog trainer, and also spectacular agility competitor with dogs. Was on the podcast, so you can find her. She’s fantastic. She’s just exceptional.
Jen Daniele. “What did you do for Lyme disease?”
That’s also a question that was in the submitted questions that were selected by my team, so I’ll answer that. Also from Jen. So congratulations, I saw both. The short answer is that I did a proper cycle of doxycycline, which is an antibiotic. The mistake I made was that I waited for symptoms to appear. I spent time in a number of locations that have incredibly high tick density, and they are the hot spots on the CDC, Center for Disease Control, maps. And I grew up in one of those environments on Long Island, and the local belief was, you get bitten by a tick, you wait. If you don’t get a bullseye rash, you don’t have Lyme disease. If you do get a bullseye rash, then you go to the doctor and get medication. Problem is, by the time you get a bullseye rash, you already have Lyme disease.
Similarly—or I shouldn’t say similarly. On the other side, if you don’t show a bullseye rash, that does not mean you have not contracted Lyme disease. It’s something like 20, or 20 to 30 percent of the people who contract Lyme disease do not display some dermatological response like that, and I was one of those people.
The doxy was, I think, necessary. It didn’t have a demonstrable effect on my day-to-day living, but ketosis did. Going into ketosis and getting into deep ketosis, meaning at least two and a half millimolars per day, as measured on the Precision Xtra Device, made by Abbott Labs, was what [snaps fingers] like that.
As soon as I got to say two millimolars, I felt like a different person. And that brings up all sorts of speculation and theories about what Lyme disease might do to the brain, is it—glucose metabolism. When you give it an alternate fuel source like ketones, perhaps also in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, which some people call brain diabetes, you see this dramatic in some cases—in my case, cognitive shift, where I felt like old Tim for all intents and purposes overnight. And staying in ketosis for a few weeks and then coming back out to lower carbohydrate for a few months was what seemed to have saved me.
Could be a regression to the mean and just the passage of time. I don’t know. But I have seen ketosis have beneficial effects for a number of close friends who have contracted Lyme disease. One thing I will say is that Lyme disease is very poorly understood and there are often co-infections like babesiosis and other things. So it’s a really wily variable to figure out, but those are my thoughts. Or I shouldn’t say my thoughts. Those are my experiences.
Daniel Campos. “Do you take any supplements, medication for anti-aging, metformin, NAD, et cetera?”
I do experiment with NAD on occasion, mostly because the penalty is very minor. Side effects are very minimal. Metformin I would consider. I haven’t used—I have used metformin before. Glucophage, but I have not used it for many years. I used it way back in the day, ’96. That’s when I tried metformin for the first time. Look at the history books for that. That was a long time ago as far as metformin conversation goes. Rapamycin would also be of interest to me. It’s quite challenging to figure out what type of human dose to use for purposes of longevity, and I’m working on that. Or I should say, rather, I have very close friends who are working on that. So I’m waiting to see what they, as the first monkeys shot into space, figure out. I’m happy to be the 10th or 100th monkey shot into space and not the first, which I think is a good policy in general.
All right. Looking at some comments here, after my mention of ketosis, Ash, it looks, has a similar experience with Lyme and ketosis. “Going on the ketogenic diet, as per your interview with Dom D’Agostino, helped my symptoms, especially the neurological ones more than anything else.”
That was my personal experience too. No guarantees. Your mileage will vary, but there you go.
Galvin Kennedy. “A few people have suggested that I answer your question. Any books or tips on breaking up with long-term, underperforming business partners?”
This is a big topic. I would say take a look at Hacker News, Venture Hacks. Venture Hacks is probably a better resource, or at least easier to parse. That is a website created by Naval Ravikant. I feel like he’s Candyman. I keep invoking his name. Naval Ravikant, Ravikant, Ravikant. Naval Ravikant and his friend Nivi, also behind AngelList—that runs through what they wished they had known when they were navigating the startup ecosystem, and breakups among co-founders is very common, so I would imagine they have something written about that. Crucial Conversations is a book that I’ve heard recommended for navigating scripts or creating scripts for this type of conversation. Ultimately, the breakup should ideally be navigated quite easily because the terms have been pre-decided. In other words, if you’re trying to figure out the terms of your divorce agreement when you’re getting the divorce, then you’re a one-legged man or woman in an ass-kicking contest. You’ve really fucked up. And I have fucked this up before, so I speak from personal stupidity as well.
But the agreement that you craft—you should always have an agreement—with a business partner is really only most valuable for disagreements and for the worst case scenario. So you should have your termination clause very carefully vetted. And if that has been carefully vetted, then the difficulty is more emotional in asking questions or conveying the desire to break up than it is procedural or legal. So the logistics, the process, the cost of breaking up with them, the terms have all been predefined, and you can certainly take that forward into your next relationships. Then the difficulty is primarily emotional, and not related to the specifics of implementation. In which case, I would suggest that you read my next book. I’m working on a book about exactly this type of stuff that I’m hoping will come out in the next few months. So I’ll have more on that soon. But literally, was just working on something related to that today. So I hope to have much more to share. In the meantime, books like The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer could help you to find resources or mentors, people who could advise on this type of conversation.
But for the low-hanging fruit, see if Venture Hacks has something. If not, I would suggest looking on Quora and Hacker News because there are so many breakups among startup founders, and since techies like to post and publish and share, you’re just going to find that sector over-represented online, so you might as well go fishing where most fish are hanging out.
All right. I’m going to do one more question here on the live feed, and then I am going to go back to the questions that you guys submitted. Filip Sierpinski. “How would you go about overcoming an addiction? If one is a diagnosed sex addict, how would you approach it?”
Sex addict, I can’t speak to specifically because I’m in the more is better camp with sex. I know that is probably very naïve when someone is genuinely sex addicted, but can’t speak to that specifically. On the topic of addiction, however, I would say listen to my podcast with Gabor Maté. Dr. Gabor Maté, Hungarian-born, Vancouver-based, I believe still, is an expert in addiction, and wrote a book called In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. But if you watch my podcast with him, Gabor, G-A-B-O-R, M-A-T-E last name—it’s on YouTube as well if you want to watch the video, which gets pretty uncomfortable at points, so it’s fun to watch. I think that conversation delves into addiction more than any of my other podcast episodes. I would start there, and then the resources and so on recommended in that, I think will take you to places that will be helpful.
Question from Jared Rieger. “What books do you recommend for someone right before they’re under a major life change?”
First big job for me specifically—we pause for dramatic effect. I would recommend two books in the following order. The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch, K-O-C-H, and the second book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. Those are two great books. There’s another one that I haven’t read in forever. I think it’s How to Be a Star, or How to Be a Star at Work. This is a book that was actually given to all new hires at a few companies I respected when I graduated from college in ’99 or 2000. I was on the five-year plan, let’s not forget, because I took a year off. I found that helpful at the time, but I certainly think that the three books I might give you—I’m going to add one to the list—would be, The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch, K-O-C-H, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie, and then a book I’ve already mentioned in this Q & A, The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. That’s where I would start.
Next question. And this one definitely deserves a sip of wine, so bear with. This is from Anthony. “As a fellow balding man, I’m interested to hear about how you have processed your hair loss mentally, and how much it did or did not affect you.”
I looked at this question, and I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be, but here is the truth. Number one, I have probably more private messages, DMs, social media notifications from men agonizing over this than anything else. And number two is, it was hard for me. It really was. In part because it caught me really off guard. I remember it very, very specifically. So if you’ve got the widow’s peaks, if you’re losing hair this way, you can track it. But I never see the back of my head, and that’s where I started. I remember very clearly in 2004, I was in Germany. For those of you who read The 4-Hour Workweek, I went to London, then Ireland, I bounced around, I ended up in Germany at one point. And at that point, I had hair. It was kind of spiked, sometimes slicked back. Just a very Long Island haircut.
I remember hanging out with this German family at a barbecue, and someone took a photograph of me from behind, and it got developed something like a week later. And I saw the photo, and clear as day, I was losing my hair on the back of my head. And I had no idea. And I really didn’t know what to do. It certainly bothered me. For a while, I would keep the hair, keep the hair, keep the hair, and fortunately, in high school and even before that, as a wrestler, I had shaved my head, and I always found it very convenient. It never really bothered me. So there was a point where I simply decided, you know what? I don’t want to be that guy who’s combing over his five bunches of hair one side each morning, fooling himself but fooling no one else. I don’t want to be that guy. I’m not into the power donut look. And it simply came down to saying, “You know what? Let me turn this bug into a feature and just shave my head.”
And I will say this much, that I don’t think—I’ve never met a woman who’s like, “I’m into balding men.” And again, this is very blahbbitty-blah heteronormative, guy to guy, if you are a heterosexual who’s worried about women responding to your loss of hair. I’ve never met a woman who’s into balding men, who’s like, “Oh, I love balding men.” I have met a lot of women who are into bald men. And that would be one sort of word of solace I would offer. If you’re in that awkward in-between space. I did consider different drugs at one point, so Minoxidil, topical. Finasteride, otherwise known as Propecia. I used Propecia for a little bit, and it killed my sex drive. Killed my sex drive, and affected my sexual performance, and I decided, you know what, all this fancy bullshit is, if we’re really being honest with ourselves, about mating advantage.
And so for me, attracting women subconsciously most of the time, and being eager to have sex and being able to have sex the way that I like to have sex is more important than trying to rescue the clear cut remnants of what used to be on the top of my head. So I was like, you know what? Let me just call a spade a spade, in for a penny, in for a pound, let me take it off.
I’ve never really looked back, partially because I’m constantly on video, so if I suddenly showed up with a brand new spiffy afro or something like that, I would be heckled until my dying day. So I’m good with the bald. I will tell you this, though. And for those of you on video, you can see this. The cue ball effect with this type of reflection on your head is a real thing. I would suggest then, if you’re doing any media or anything like that, that you get a basic makeup kit—I cannot believe I’m talking about this—to de-glaze your head so that you don’t blind everyone who is looking at a photograph or video of you. And I learned on media tours for book launches that it is naïve to think that every place is going to have their own hair and makeup to do that for you.
Another pro tip related to that is that if you have a girlfriend, tell her about your makeup kit before she finds it, because I’ve had the experience of having my ridiculous little head de-buffing makeup kit, which is not much—it’s like $10 from a CVS—and a girlfriend turning to me and being like, “Who is she? Who is she?” And it turns into a big fucking thing that you don’t need to deal with. So if you’re bald, and you’re just trying to de-glaze your donut head, tell your girlfriend in advance if you buy any makeup. “There are powders,” says Karey Bock—I don’t know anything about makeup, but I know just enough to save people the problem of glare when they’re looking at my head. Today, I’m going au naturale.
All right. Wow. People have a lot of brand suggestions for de-glazing the donut. Good lord. This is why I get paid the big bucks, folks, having this type of conversation while I’m drinking wine out on my back porch, for fuck’s sake. What is this world coming to? All right, next question.
Rob Malicki. “Mate, not trying to knock you off early or anything, but buried or cremated? Why and where?”
This is something I’ve been thinking about in the last few days, actually. Yeah, so it’s a timely question. For a long time, I thought about and have decided I prefer cremation, because it seemed final in some respect that might be gratifying for anyone who would survive me, family members, children, et cetera. And it seemed to be less hassle for everyone else who was left. I’ve since changed my mind about that. I think that I would like to be fed back to the earth. I think that it would be selfish of me, after consuming so many plants, so many animals, so many resources as a human being, not to offer my body back to the earth to be digested. That might sound very strange, but I think in many respects, that’s a beautiful continuation of the cycle. So I would want to be buried, ideally without a coffin. That may be illegal in the United States. I suspect it is. But, I would really like to be, maybe wrapped in a shroud, and buried without a coffin. I think that would be a good way to go.
Rich asks: “What is your current opinion of staying in ketosis perpetually? Do you think it’s okay or even better to stay in ketosis all the time? Or is it better to cycle in and out of ketosis (from an overall health/longevity viewpoint, not weight loss)?”
There are better people to ask about this. Dr. Dom D’Agostino, with whom I’ve done two podcasts on ketosis, would be one. Peter Attia, M.D., would be another. I think that ketosis doesn’t sit well with everyone. Or perhaps better put, following a ketogenic diet and entering dietary ketosis, consuming 70 to 80 percent or more of your calories from fat, which often ends up including dairy if you’re not careful, which can affect all sorts of biomarkers. For instance, I’m very sensitive to any type of dairy. My lipid profile goes berserk, so I need to be very, very calculated with how I do ketosis. It doesn’t work for everyone. It doesn’t sit very well for everyone, and you should follow the report card, your blood work, as an indicator. But there are many people that stay in ketosis for long periods of time. I know people who have stayed in for years. I think there are likely some health benefits to that. But what I can comment on is your question of is it better to cycle in and out of ketosis from an overall health longevity standpoint, not weight loss.
My current understanding—and this is going to be a partial answer to your question—is that one of the main benefits of cycling in and out of ketosis is to promote anabolism. So if you want to build muscle, ketosis is actually a very sub-optimal state for building a lot of muscle. If you want to get big and strong, you want insulin as a master hormone of sorts to help store nutrients and trigger muscle growth, hypertrophy and so on. The way you can accomplish that, Dan Duchaine, D-U-C-H-A-I-N-E, Mauro Di Pasquale, I believe is how you say his name, the anabolic diet, have designed various diets, all of which you could consider cyclical ketogenic diets. CKDs. And that generally entails ketosis from say—let’s call it Monday to Friday, then a glycogen depletion workout on Saturday, followed by carb loading, let’s just call it that, for an 18-hour period, something like that, then slowly segueing back into ketosis, and in some cases using tools to accelerate that, like alpha lipoic acid or other things. I would not suggest injecting insulin unless you have doctor supervision and really want to play Russian roulette. That is a dangerous one.
But CKD gives you a window of high-insulin response and carbohydrate loading to promote muscle growth. So if you want performance, the CKD. In and out of ketosis, I think, could be plausibly recommended. If you’re looking for straight longevity, which I don’t make a sole focus of mine—that is, staying alive for the maximum number of years—going in and out may not be the ideal path. But do you really want to stay in ketosis your whole life? Or even for years at a time? It gets boring as hell, and you can eat all the ketosis-friendly junk foods that have been created, but you’re eating also a lot of crap that isn’t terribly nutrient dense in most cases. So it’s really a question in my mind of functional health span, and Peter Attia has talked about this at some length, so I would suggest taking a look at my podcast with Peter Attia. There are at least two of them. He is brilliant and methodical and obsessive compulsive, which is exactly what you want in a doctor who studies such things.
All right. I’m going to do some more live questions. I know we are 15 minutes overtime, and that’s okay. I’m going to go a little long for you guys because I love you bitches. And this is fun. I’m having a good time. Just laughing at some of these comments. You guys are hilarious. All right, quick question.
Michelle Martine. “I struggle to fast because my heart races. Any ideas?”
Yeah. This is a cholinergic response, as I understand it, and you can supplement with—or I have found—I’ll speak from personal experience—that supplementing with electrolytes, for instance taking Slow-Mag, which is magnesium, throughout the day, as well as potassium, sodium. You could get an electrolyte supplement like Nuun, N-U-U-N, as long as you ensure that there are no calories associated with it. But electrolytes can help quite a bit.
All right. Let’s see. Looking for some more live questions. “How did you decide to give us back our donations and give us Amazon gift cards?”
Because one of my goals for—did a quarterly offsite with my team maybe two months ago, and reiterated that one of the goals was to surprise—one of the primary goals that I have is to surprise and delight my fans. And I thought about how to do that, and in the case of the supporters—so there are a few thousand of you who have supported the podcast and everything else for the short-lived fan support experiment. I figured, what the hell? I can afford it. It’s fun, it’s something nobody does, that I’m aware of. I’ve never heard of a single instance. So if somebody gave me $9.95 a month, and they got charged for two months, I’m going to refund their $20 and then I’m going to give them an additional 20 for Amazon that they can use for anything. And by the way, anyone who’s international, you can still use the Amazon.com website to order, but have it shipped to where you are. And if they donated 100 or 1,000 a month, same thing. So there’s some people that donated 1,000 a month, they got charged for two months, they got $2,000 back and $2,000 in additional Amazon gift cards from me and my team.
Life is fucking short, and I thought, it’s not going to break the bank. I want to reward my 1,000 true fans or several thousand true fans. The 1,000 true fans is an expression borrowed from Kevin Kelly. If you haven’t read that essay, I suggest you do, at kk.org, 1,000 True Fans. It’s easy for me to do. I thought it’d be fun. I thought it would surprise people, and hopefully delight people. And then when you go to Amazon and buy whatever you’re going to buy over the next handful of months, you’ll also be like, “Oh, yeah. Gift card. Tim Ferriss.” So it’s like having a little jack-in-the-box with my shiny bald head popping up going, “Thank you,” every time you go to Amazon and the gift card balance reminds you that I sent it to you. I saw no downside and a lot of fun and upside from it, so that’s how I decided to do it.
People are still sending me advice for products that I can use on my shiny bald head. What else do we have?
Galvin. “Can you get Neil deGrasse Tyson on the show?”
I would love to. I actually met him for the first time last week. I went to a live taping of StarTalk. It was awesome. Neil is an incredible guy. If you haven’t seen his podcast, you should check it out. Or the TV show, or anything he does. He’s just hilarious and awesome and a lot of fun.
“Anything special planned for podcast number 400?”
No, not right now. I haven’t thought about it. I probably should, given the four shtick that I’ve somehow made a career out of.
Looking for more questions.
Robby Wade. “What do you think of the saturation of masterminds and coaches?”
I think you should pay attention to people who have done what they’re teaching. That’s it. And can prove it. So I would really—there are many people out there who teach and don’t do. Or teach because they can’t do, or worse still, misrepresent and claim that they’re making six figures a month or a year or whatever and are really just preying upon people because there’s no means of verification. So I would say that caution is the better part of valor when it comes to coaches. Choose your influences very carefully. I’ve mentioned many, many, many times one of my favorite quotes is, “You are the average of the five people you associate with most.” And if that is true—if we take that to be true, if you’re taking advice from anyone who hasn’t done what they are preaching, you are compounding all sorts of problems. I would simply say, if you’re looking at a mastermind, or a coach, you should ensure that you can verify whatever they are claiming they have done is true. That’s it. And that will eliminate 95 percent of them out there.
“What are my thoughts on Ramit Sethi, S-E-T-H-I?”
He’s a close friend. Ramit’s super legit. I’ve always been very impressed with him. He has very, very good scripts for negotiating, and he walks the talk. The guy knows what he’s doing, and I’ve seen his life. I’ve met his family, meaning his wife and his brother and so on. I’ve seen behind the curtain, and I’ve found him very legit. I’ve never engaged with any of his products or anything like that, so I can’t speak to any of his courses or anything along those lines, but Ramit walks the walk. So I would say that he is very legitimate. But I’m not on any of his mailing lists or anything like that. I have no idea how many emails he sends out. No clue.
Ryan. “How long did it take you to be consistently happy throughout your day to day life? Are you still working on it?”
I think stressing out about being happy every day will make you really unhappy. And there are a number of quotes out there that are along the lines of, “If you want to be happy, stop striving for happiness.” I think there’s quite a bit of wisdom to that, and there’s another one. I think it’s Thoreau, might be Emerson—I always confuse those two. They were buddies also, which doesn’t make it any easier. But, “If you stop searching for happiness, and sit down every once in a while, happiness like a butterfly will land on your shoulder.” Something like that. But obsessing about happiness is a great way to be unhappy. I think more about excitement, and a feeling of purpose than I do happiness, and that is because energy, state, emotional reactivity are all in flux.
Yesterday, for instance. Just yesterday. It was a very difficult day for me. I had, as I described earlier, my morning routine. My plan was to write for a good three or four hours, and I had a bunch of household emergencies, a number of technicians and carpenters and electricians show up. I have guests in my house, and there were a number of things that required my attention that pulled me out, so I didn’t get my writing done in the morning, and it made me very, very agitated. Made me very agitated. And the whole day was just a shit show of distraction and fire drills. In the afternoon, I was like, “All right, I’m going to make it up. I’m going to get in my hours,” and then lo and behold, no dice. The universe had other plans, and it was just a mess. So yesterday, I was an emotional toddler, and my skin was very thin, and the buffer that I had that would normally allow me to take a chill pill and not overreact to things was worn thin.
Today, totally different story. Today, I was able to follow my routine. I do like my routines, especially on deadline. That’s not unusual. And got a good solid three, four hours in in the morning. Got a lot done, and honestly, after that point, everything else was gravy. I also got exercise twice today, so that was a win. I don’t stress about being consistently happy in every day, day to day, because that is just a recipe for unhappiness in my experience.
All right, here’s the quote that I was looking for, from Carolyn Nickell. Zhuang Zhi, I guess. I don’t know what the tones are on that, but that’s probably how you say that in Chinese. Z-H-U-A-N-G-Z-H-I. Zhuang Zhi. Who knows? “Happiness is the absence of the desire for happiness.” That is really worth sitting on and contemplating. There’s a lot to pull from that.
Jbell. “Who are the strongest female voices, mentors, inspirations, in my life?”
Well, not to sound cheesy, but I did dedicate my—hello, wine. Desiccate. I did desiccate—desiccate my liver for my mother. No. I did dedicate my first book to my mom and dad. My mom taught me very early that marching to your own drummer was a good thing. Didn’t have the resources to buy a lot of new things, but had the creativity to expose me and my brother to a lot of things. So, say if we ate chicken legs for dinner, which we did a lot. We ate a handful of meals over and over and over again. Like TV dinners, chicken legs. So we had chicken legs. Then we’d take the chicken legs and there’d be a little bit of meat or fat or gristle on these bones, and she’d save those, and then the next day or that weekend, we would take these bones and go to a pond—or I guess it was the bay, where we could tie a string around those bones and drop them into the water and pull them out with crabs and see crabs, look at them, et cetera. Collect black sand using magnets and put them into jars and play with them.
So she was very good at feeding curiosity, and then supporting interest with books. We didn’t have a budget for much, but we always had a budget for books, which is a brilliant line, by the way. So my parents told me that, my mom especially, and that made us, my brother and I, think about books. Books were this thing to be coveted. They were not homework. They were something to be coveted, something we desired, something we wanted.
The other main influence would be my girlfriend. She’s an excellent, excellent communicator, one of the most self-aware people I’ve ever met. And she has shown me in many respects what being nonreactive looks like. If you’re hearing a weird noise out in the distance, that’s because I am on an outdoor patio and that is a gigantic owl. So I would say my mom and my girlfriend, primarily. Those would be the two mains. I’ll stick with that for now. I have a lot. Plenty of female friends, but those are the two mains.
All right. “Am I a fan of Rick and Morty?”
Yes, I am a huge fan of Rick and Morty.
“What’s my favorite cryptocurrency resources?”
I try not to think about cryptocurrency much. I do have money in cryptocurrency, but I delegate the decision-making to other people because I have no confidence in my ability to operate in that sandbox with any type of advantage.
All right, so I’m going to tackle this comment, or comment on it, just because I suppose I feel like putting a bullseye on my forehead. Comment is: “Need more women on the podcast.”
I’ll tell you what I need on the podcast. I need on the podcast good people, no matter what their genitalia look like, no matter what their preferred or stated gender is, no matter what their race is, who have a lot of tactics to share. I don’t think about preferably choosing men, and I also don’t want to think about trying to recruit women, period, as a criterion at the top of the hierarchy. I don’t think about gender when I’m recruiting my guests at all. And I like it that way. It’s not a factor. I just had a woman on the podcast earlier this week, and there are a lot of women in my books. Tribe of Mentors was like 50/50. But I think that identity politics is a losing game. If we read any history, that should be very clear. I should be able to learn from a smart woman as much as a woman could learn from a smart man. And I do think that that has historically been the case for me.
Julie Rice would be a great example—and I’m hoping to spend more time with her—who’s been on the podcast, co-founder of SoulCycle. And it doesn’t even enter my mind as a consideration. And I don’t want it to become a preoccupation. But yeah, I get it. I totally understand that if you’re a woman, or if you are a fill in the blank, that ideally, you would have exemplars, people who can inspire you, who remind you of yourself in a sense. But I would also hope that we’re all striving to look for what we can learn from every person we encounter, and to find the common ground. So there you have it. There are more women coming, there are more women scheduled, but I don’t want to apply some artificial constraint or to make gender a preoccupation because it just isn’t, and I don’t want that to be.
All right. Let’s see here. Oh, boy. “Are kids in the cards? We want a little Ferriss.”
Well, we’ll see about that. I’m more interested in kids than I am in the legal institution of marriage. I’m not super excited about having the state or federal government involved with my interpersonal affairs. But yeah, I’ve been thinking more and more about it, so we shall see. We shall see.
“How has moving to Texas affected your life, lifestyle, friendships?” That’s from Montgomery.
All better. Everything’s better. I don’t know what to say, aside from Austin is the friendliest place I’ve ever lived, and I expect to be there for a long time.
All right, what else do we have here.
Ryan Combes. “Tips for determining whether one is better suited for entrepreneurship as in running a company, or freelancing, more solo work?”
Start with freelancing. See how you like that. If you don’t like freelancing, you’re definitely not going to like running a company. So start with that. Do it in that order.
“What was it like to meet Rolf Potts?”
I’ve met Rolf a bunch. Rolf is hilarious. He’s a fun guy. For those of you who don’t know, Rolf Potts wrote a book called Vagabonding. I think the subtitle is An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel—Something along those lines. And it is certainly about travel, but more broadly about a philosophy of life and improvisation that Rolf Potts describes very poetically. It’s a great book and had a huge impact on me. That is one of the four fundamental reads at the back of The 4-Hour Workweek. I mentioned one already, The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz and Vagabonding is yet another. And I enjoyed Vagabonding so much I actually reached out to Rolf to produce the audiobook of Vagabonding, which you can find, I believe, at audible.com/TimsBooks. I used to have an audiobook club, just for the fun of it because I want extra projects to occupy all my time.
All right, this is a question from Matt. “What do you think about the legal benefits of marriage? Do you think it’s unfair that married people get tax benefits over single co-living?”
Yeah, I think it’s fucking ridiculous. Yeah, period. Full stop. All right.
“Would I go to Mars?”
Well, as Jeff Bezos has put it, before you go to Mars, spend a few years in Antarctica and see what you think, because Antarctica is a cakewalk compared to Mars. So I don’t know. I don’t know. I think I might prefer some type of Elysium-like habitat more than Mars. And as Jeff Bezos put it to a friend of mine, he feels, at least, that Mars is a bad idea, and that the last thing we need after conquering—or I should say escaping—Earth’s gravity is to deal with another gravity and another atmosphere. Terraforming and all that is very, very, very, very complicated. Look at what we’ve done on the moon first and then consider where you think we will go with Mars. But hey, the more options, the merrier. So I’m glad people are looking at it.
“Are you able to sleep soundly when you’re not alone in bed?”
It’s tough, actually. I overheat very easily, so having somebody laying on top of me is difficult, but if I’m not entwined with someone else, I do find it quite easy to sleep. As long as my temperature is regulated, I don’t have too many issues.
This is from JBell. “Do you feel you’re making progress on healing a childhood trauma? Hope you continue to share that journey.”
Yes, I’m going to be sharing a lot about that, and the book I discussed with Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, which is a great book and so my episode with him—McKeown is M-C-K-E-O-W-N—focused on a book about healing, which will be related to many things, including this childhood trauma, which I haven’t gone into details about. But, some bad stuff. Some bad stuff. So I absolutely plan on writing about that, and I think along with the blog posts, “Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide,” that it’ll be the most important thing I’ve ever written. That’s the hope. I want to do it right.
Karey. “Do you think it would be valuable to have those who have attempted suicide to talk to those who have lost family to suicide?”
Yes, I do.
Question from Ryan. “Did you always have something in your life you were excited about pursuing?”
Absolutely not. I’ve had long periods of anhedonia, inability to feel pleasure about anything at all. So, no. That’s not a constant. That’s something that I’ve had to work for and work towards. It’s very much been a practice. It’s not something that comes naturally to me at all times.
Ryan. “Question. Tim, I do too. How do you battle anhedonia?”
I would recommend you look up the name George Sarlo, S-A-R-L-O, on Vice, and obviously follow all regulations where you live and find a professional to help. Hakomi therapy could also be very interesting to look at, which is a sematic, i.e., body- or physical-based practice that is similar to mindfulness. And I Hakomi professionals will say that I’m mangling this, but it’s a good enough description—that it is a type of therapy that helps you to become more aware of what you are feeling in your body. And I have found it very valuable personally, and that, I think, could help you to tune into frequencies that will ultimately lead you to overcoming anhedonia.
Jacob. “Are you building any new habits right now? If yes, what’s your process?”
Waking up early. And my process is scheduling my day so that if I don’t wake up early, I don’t get my writing done. I have to wake up early. I have to wake up between 6:30 and 7:00, or I’m not going to have the critical block of time. Along the lines of the maker’s schedule versus manager schedule that Paul Graham has written about. Fantastic essay for those of you who have not read it.
Elianne. “Are you ever afraid you will slip back in depression?”
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it comes up, and what I’ve tried to do is accept that that’s going to happen and to identify less with it. To make it more, “I am feeling depressed,” or “There is a feeling of depression,” versus “I am depressed.” The book Awareness by Anthony De Mello, D-E-M-E-L-L-O. If you’re going to read one book of all the books I’ve mentioned in this Q & A, pick up Awareness by Anthony De Mello. There are many chapters that help with what I’m describing.
All right. I’m going to answer a handful of additional questions. It’s 9:45, roughly, so we’ve gone 45 minutes over time. I’ll go for a little bit more. And I think, after all this talking about my girlfriend, I’m going to go find my girlfriend and possibly do a barrel sauna before bedtime since I do have more writing tomorrow morning.
All right. Ranjeet Singh. “What Neal Stephenson books do you like other than Snow Crash?”
Neal Stephenson’s great. That’s N-E-A-L, Neal Stephenson. Snow Crash is amazing, but you already mentioned Snow Crash. Let’s skip Snow Crash, and I would say Cryptonomicon. Cryptonomicon is a gigantic book, and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it found me at the right time, I suppose. I just absolutely loved Cryptonomicon. So that would be my recommendation.
“Skiing or snowboarding?”
Skiing most of the time, snowboarding on powder.
Jacob. “Question: what would be your go-to activity experience for a first date, if your objective is to get to know someone quickly?”
I would take them out to dinner, and I would—well, coffee date if it’s like a first screening. But if you think someone is a decent prospect, dinner and then I would say right up front, “Please order whatever you want. This is on me.” And you can see how they respond to that. And I would still end up paying, but I find it informative to see how someone responds to just that opener, so that you’re not covering that at the end of the meal. It’s been covered in the beginning.
And then you could say, “I went to retreat…” This is true for me. I went to a retreat and, as a getting to know everyone exercise, they had us go around in a circle and each person would say, “If you really knew me, you would know…” and they would fill that in. And so you do that with the person you’re with. “So, if you really knew me you would know that…” and then you offer something and then you’re like, “All right, what about you?” And then she goes, or he goes, or whatever. And then you say, “All right.” So you’ve done that. The next step is “If you really, really knew me, you would know that…” And you do that. And you can get some really deep, really rarely heard stuff very quickly with that. So, that might be one approach.
In terms of activities—rock climbing, I suppose. I’m grasping for straws on that.
“What is your earliest childhood memory?”
My earliest childhood memory is of being an infant, and my parents had rented their house to make money at one point. Some women in the background. My parents had rented their house for income at one point, and we were living in a tiny cottage, and I was there, the firstborn. And I had a horrible fever, and I was being cooled down in a sink and screaming my face off and looking at the ceiling and seeing devils and demons and monsters on the ceiling. That is my earliest memory. How fucking awful is that? But, at least up to this point, that appears to be the earliest memory. Go figure. I’m not going to end this Q & A on that, though. What a fucking downer that would be.
All right. Oh, nice.
Stephen Hicks. “I teach at medical school. What is the best way to expose a high performer who’s never failed at something to the concept of failure without destroying their confidence?”
That’s a great question. I would say have them write something and—it could be a report, it could be an analysis, could be anything—and at least for, say, three rounds, just say, “This isn’t good enough. I would’ve expected more from you. Here. Take this back and do better.” And do that two or three times, and then talk to them. Do a post-game analysis and talk to them about that after the fact.
This is from Ash. “Thank you for everything, Tim. What are you grateful for?”
I’m grateful for everything, honestly. There is happiness and success all around you. And I realize I’m in a very privileged and lucky position. Those are not the same thing, but I’m in both. Just the fact that I can sit comfortably and do this, just the fact that I can see this screen, just the fact that I can taste this wine, just the fact that I have people who are willing to read what I write or listen to what I record for this podcast. Or the fact that I can hear the crickets and the owls and so on around me, that I am close to nature. I have access to nature. All these things are miracles, in a sense. And I certainly won the birth lottery. I was born a white male in the United States, and there’s a lot that goes with that.
But I think about my parents dying. I think about the likelihood of them dying in the next five years, 10 years. I think about The Tail End, the essay by Tim Urban that I recommended. I think about how much I would pay after my dog has died, Molly, to play with her on the front yard here where I’m sitting with some type of chew toy and to watch her as happy as could be. What would I pay after she dies? She’s going to die before I do, at least, barring any type of unforeseen disaster on my part. After she dies, two years afterwards, or a year afterward, a month afterwards, how much would I pay—this is from Muneeb Ali, actually, in Tribe of Mentors—to experience that, to re-experience say, sitting in a hammock, and throwing balls for Molly?
A lot. I would pay a lot of money. A lot of money. I mean, an absurd amount of money. I think about these things to cultivate gratitude. It’s easy to become an ungrateful cunt. It really is. It’s extremely easy to become an ungrateful cunt, especially if you spend too much time on social media, where the sport of choice is complaining and bitching and moaning and talking about lack and scarcity and entitlement more than anything else. It’s a very poisonous atmosphere. And if you are the average of the five people you associate with most, well, we can chunk that down into hours, right? So forget about five people. Which groups are you spending the most time with? Are you spending more time with Twitter than with your two or three closest friends who would be a positive impact on you? If so, the trendline isn’t going in the right direction from my perspective. So I’m grateful for a lot. I’m grateful for so much.
And on that, I think we’re going to wrap up, guys. I think that’s a good place to wrap up. I have a lot of love for all of you. It’s incredible that I get to do this as some semblance of a job. I’m very, very lucky, and I will continue to do all that I can to put together podcasts and books and so on that allow you, hopefully, not just to replicate what I’ve done, but to do so much more than what I’ve done and what I may ever do. That’s my goal. And with that, thank you all very much and have a wonderful, wonderful weekend. Many blessings to you and yours. Thank you again. Bye.
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