Dr. Jane Goodall — The Legend, The Lessons, The Hope (#421)

Jane Goodall
Photo by Vincent Calmel

“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”

Dr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall (@JaneGoodallInst) was born on April 3rd, 1934, in London, England. At the young age of 26, she followed her passion for animals and Africa to Gombe, Tanzania, where she began her landmark study of chimpanzees in the wild,­ immersing herself in their habitat as a neighbor rather than a distant observer. Her discovery in 1960 that chimpanzees make and use tools rocked the scientific world and redefined the relationship between humans and animals.

In 1977, she established the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) to advance her work around the world and for generations to come. JGI continues the field research at Gombe and builds on Dr.  Goodall’s innovative approach to conservation, which recognizes the central role that people play in the well-being of animals and the environment. In 1991, she founded Roots & Shoots, a global program that empowers young people in nearly 60 countries to act as the informed conservation leaders that the world so urgently needs.

Today, Dr. Goodall travels the world, speaking about the threats facing chimpanzees, environmental crises, and her reasons for hope. In her books and speeches, she emphasizes the interconnectedness of all living things and the collective power of individual action. Dr. Goodall is a UN Messenger of Peace and Dame Commander of the British Empire.

The next chapter of Dr. Jane Goodall’s life’s work unfolds in a brand-new documentary, Jane Goodall: The Hope, premiering on Earth Day, April 22nd, at 9E/8C on Nat Geo, Nat Geo WILD, and Nat Geo Mundo. The two-hour special takes viewers through the chapters of Dr. Goodall’s journey in the 60 years since her groundbreaking discoveries researching wild chimpanzees in Gombe, including her activism, creation of her non-profit organization, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), and Roots & Shoots youth program, along with her current efforts to inspire the next generation.

Dr. Goodall’s work through the Jane Goodall Institute is advanced through the generous support of people like you and me. To show your support, visit janegoodall.org/tim. 

Please enjoy! 

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

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

This podcast is brought to you by ExpressVPN and LinkedIn Marketing SolutionsMore on both below. 

#421: Dr. Jane Goodall — The Legend, The Lessons, The Hope

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear another episode with someone who’s thinking big to save the planet? Make sure to check out my conversation with Mike Phillips, in which we discuss the countless benefits (and dispel countless myths) of reintroducing predator species to ecosystems where they’ve been eradicated. 

#383: Mike Phillips — How to Save a Species


  • Connect with The Jane Goodall Institute:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

  • Connect with Roots & Shoots:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


  • Why is Dr. Goodall grateful for growing up during WWII? [08:27]
  • Was Dr. Goodall’s childhood affinity for animals shared by other members of her family? How did her mother encourage curiosity where less patient parents might have done the opposite? [11:16]
  • Dr. Goodall describes instances of her mother’s uncanny intuition, her own experience with what some might deem “supernatural,” and what she sees as her next big adventure. [14:16]
  • About that time in March of 1957 when Dr. Goodall lost her passport — and almost her entire hard-earned savings — just prior to leaving for Africa. [17:04]
  • How Dr. Goodall connected with legendary paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey, serendipitously became his secretary, and was set on the path to studying chimpanzees in the wild. [19:21]
  • How did Dr. Goodall come to be accepted among the chimpanzees she was observing, and what did she feel the first time she was able to look deeply into a chimpanzee’s eyes? [22:56]
  • What groundbreaking observations were made by Dr. Goodall at this time that changed our understanding of chimpanzee behavior, habits, and intelligence? [26:35]
  • On primate personalities, compassion, and the uplifting story of the time Lion Country Safari keeper Marc Cusano was saved by a chimpanzee known as Old Man. [27:33]
  • What did observing compassion among chimpanzees as well as the violence of the ’74–’78 Gombe Chimpanzee War lead Dr. Goodall to infer about human nature? [31:08]
  • How does Dr. Goodall explain the variance in attitude among chimpanzees — what makes some ruthlessly vie for dominance through physical force and others take a more subtle approach? [33:15]
  • After many decades of observation — of not just chimpanzees but humans — where does Dr. Goodall currently stand on thinking about human nature, and what is she doing to try and steer young people toward being better stewards of the planet than the generations that came before? [36:50]
  • Why COVID-19 is really just a symptom of a much larger series of problems society needs to face if it wants to be sustainable. [41:36]
  • Dr. Goodall takes us back to the founding of the Roots & Shoots youth program in 1991 to explain what values and skills it aims to instill in future generations. [44:41]
  • How does Dr. Goodall cultivate the hope necessary for overcoming apathy — what she has called “the greatest danger to our future?” [49:54]
  • Who was Mr. McGregor, how did he meet his end, and what did Dr. Goodall take away from the experience? [55:37]
  • Stories that Dr. Goodall has found particularly effective for reaching the heart and grabbing the attention of people — particularly policymakers — who she meets in her travels, and why you should always be prepared to tell stories about what’s important to you no matter where you are. [1:01:35]
  • Dr. Goodall has been an inspiration to people around the world for decades. But who inspires her, and how does a mysterious figure by the name of Mr. H enter the picture? What other symbols does she collect, and why? [1:07:30]
  • Does Dr. Goodall still have Jubilee, the stuffed chimpanzee her father gave her when she was a toddler? [1:11:00]
  • How did the way Dr. Goodall’s own mother raised her and the observation of chimpanzee mothers in the wild influence her own parenting style? [1:12:16]
  • How did Jane’s son get the nickname of “Grub?” [1:14:55]
  • Was it a culture shock for Grub to go from Nairobi, where he grew up, to England for school? [1:16:02]
  • Dr. Goodall seems very comfortable spending long periods of time alone. How does she relate to such solitude? [1:17:39]
  • As an 86-year-old who seems to work from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day (with a dog walk in the middle), to what does Dr. Goodall attribute the maintenance of her mental clarity, sharpness, and endurance for such a long period of time? [1:20:13]
  • Why does Dr. Goodall think some of her fans get such an emotional charge out of meeting her? [1:25:00]
  • You might not be able to teach your children to be optimistic, but here’s what Dr. Goodall learned about optimism from her own childhood, and how her mother encouraged her without promising that achieving her dreams would be easy. [1:27:57]
  • What would be on Dr. Goodall’s billboard? [1:29:13]
  • Information on where Dr. Goodall’s new documentary, This is Jane Goodall: The Hope is airing on Earth Day, and parting thoughts. [1:30:07]


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

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21 Replies to “Dr. Jane Goodall — The Legend, The Lessons, The Hope (#421)”

  1. I’ve been a faithful listener for many years. Is there a resource place for therapists using psychedelics in there work? Family member needs help and only meds are being offered. 😓 Great respect and love your work.

  2. She argues as if there would be consent on human made climate change. But there is not a single scientific proof for that, just propaganda, uncorrelated issued and ever failing estimates of al gore, club of rome and other globalist fear institutes.
    If she would really study the science she would see that now, with the economy shutting down, there is no effect on co2 or temperature.
    Otherwise great insights and fantastic interview!

    1. Hmmm, “with the economy shutting down,” these results sound like your Big Proof to me right there.

      The “economy/market share/investment value is everything” mindset is an illusion, and the reality of watching this crack and fall apart before your very eyes must feel mighty threatening for most fanbros right about now.

    2. I cannot believe you are still banging out this tired argument there is no evidence. It is widely accepted that the vast, vast majority of scientists say there is such a thing as man made climate change. You must be very, very intelligent to know better than these scientists.

  3. Hi Tim,
    Just read the final lines of your Bullet Friday and wondered if you need some help to digest the (more than) thousand daily messages.
    I’d be pleased to work with you as a VA.
    Hope your health and safe at home.
    Kind regards,

  4. What a deeply moving and compelling podcast this is. Dr Goodall’s masterful storytelling is only surpassed by her irrepressible need to love, serve, to help, and to heal.

    A profound message on the interconnectedness of all things, the power of the individual, and the need to act, act, act. Dr. Goodall, you beautiful soul- you have been heard.
    A heartfelt thank you Tim

  5. Dr. Goodall is a big, big soul. Her tremendous resolve and quiet strength make her a model for us all. We have too few heroes now, but she is one, but that doesn’t seem to mean a lot to her–she just rolls up her sleeves and keeps working. Thanks, Tim.

  6. Dear Timber Truly inspirational. Great work. You mention a world population of 6,000,000,000. I just want to note that the 7 billion number was surpassed on 12 March 2012, (Wikipedia).

  7. Dear Jane — thank you for your dedication to animal research. Your team lost the American Revolution… keep your politics on your side of “the pond”.. plenty of monkeys over there! Tim, great job not jumping on political bandwagon, always!

  8. Bravo!
    So refreshing. What a boss she still is!
    She spoke at my college graduation many moons ago and concluded her speech with a LOUD howl of a chimp!
    More of this and less venturehedgetech guy success stories!!

  9. Good job Tim! Hearing that it wasn’t a boring interview from Jane, who probably had hundreds of them is a high mark 🙂

    You’re getting much much better over the years and it’s cool that you remain independent from big media outlets while offering massive audience to guests and brands that want to work with you.

    Keep it rolling!

  10. Thanks for this episode! It was great to hear some of those classic stories again, and a few that I hadn’t heard (the one about Old Man in particular was wonderful). And her message of hope is one that I needed to hear in these times – it may be time for a re-read of Dr. Goodall’s memoir “A Reason for Hope!”

    I also shared the episode with all of my students; I know that many of them are struggling with isolation and the challenges of distance learning, so perhaps this message will resonate with them as well.

  11. A fantastic Ferriss interview and demonstrates his genuine compassion and wisdom for recognising Dr Jane’s Bodhisattva nature. What a totally fantastic woman. I am saddened at some of the comments within this thread and it demonstrates how polarised US society is becoming. Only the truly stupid construct arguments by positioning a researched view point as Fake News.

  12. Thank you so very much for your interview with Jane Goodall – I watched her new documentary on natgeo- I have never been so moved by anything like this
    Thanks for introducing me to something I have clearly been ignorant of
    As a 59 year old male I have never been so moved
    Thank you

  13. Hi Tim, this was a great post and podcast! Something that would resonate with your heart and mind 100% is Erwin McManus’s TedTalk on what makes us uniquely human. He would be an amazing guest & the convos would be great beyond imagination! You both would mesh so well!! Respecting your time, check out the 5:14 to 13:20 minute marks.

    Just like the story of Old Man and Mark Cousano in Florida, sometimes we just reach out with what we have only hoping to make a positive impact. Only later on do we realize that small attempt makes a lifetime of exponential positive impact. Stay well, love well, and keep up the great work bro! I’m proud of you man!

    What Makes Us Uniquely Human | Erwin Raphael McManus | TEDxSanDiego
    [Moderator: link removed.]
    -Joey Talladino

  14. Hi Tim, this was a great post and podcast!

    Something that would resonate with your heart and mind 100% is Erwin McManus’s TedTalk on what makes us uniquely human. This talk brings Jane’s great quote, about the greatest danger to our future being apathy, to an even higher plateau. Erwin would be an amazing and willing guest & the convos would be great beyond imagination! You both would mesh so well on a podcast!

    Respecting your time, check out the 5:14 to 13:20 minute marks.

    Just like the story of Old Man and Mark Cousano in Florida, sometimes we just reach out with what we have only hoping to make a small positive impact. Only later on do we realize that small attempt makes a lifetime of positive and exponential impact.

    May this level-up your life, hopes, and dreams all the more, my friend. Stay well, love well, and keep up the great work bro! I’m proud of you man!

    What Makes Us Uniquely Human | Erwin Raphael McManus | TEDxSanDiego

    -Joey Talladino

  15. I don’t think people are by nature evil, including Hitler or the Nazis. They are ignorant. The right type of education can do good just like the opposite “Everything we know about you guys is wrong” said Hiccup from How to Train your Dragon

  16. Jane Goodall has been a hero of mine since I was a child. Thank you for having her on your podcast. She makes me tear up just hearing her voice. She is such a unique individual and the world is definitely a better place having her in it.