ESPN Co-Founder Bill Rasmussen — Fear{less} with Tim Ferriss (#569)

ABC, NBC: Always Be Curious, Never Be Complacent.”

— Bill Rasmussen

Welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is my job to deconstruct world-class performers to tease out the routines, habits, et cetera that you can apply to your own life.

You’ll get plenty of that in this special episode, which features my interview with Bill Rasmussen from my 2017 TV Show Fear{less}. The “less” is in parentheses because the objective is to teach you to fear less, not to be fearless.

Fear{less} features in-depth, long-form conversations with top performers, focusing on how they’ve overcome fears and made hard decisions, embracing discomfort and thinking big.

It was produced by Wild West Productions, and I worked with them to make both the video and audio available to you for free, my dear listeners. You can find the video of this episode on, and eventually you’ll be able to see all episodes for free at

Spearheaded by actor/producer and past podcast guest Vince Vaughn, Wild West Productions has produced a string of hit movies including The Internship, Couples Retreat, Four Christmases, and The Break-Up.

In 2020, Wild West produced the comedy The Opening Act, starring Jimmy O. Yang and Cedric The Entertainer. In addition to Fear{less}, their television credits include Undeniable with Joe Buck, ESPN’s 30 for 30 episode about the ’85 Bears, and the Netflix animated show F is for Family.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#569: ESPN Co-Founder Bill Rasmussen — Fear{less} with Tim Ferriss

This episode is brought to you by 5-Bullet Friday, my very own email newsletter that every Friday features five bullet points highlighting cool things I’ve found that week, including apps, books, documentaries, gadgets, albums, articles, TV shows, new hacks or tricks, and—of course—all sorts of weird stuff I’ve dug up from around the world.

It’s free, it’s always going to be free, and you can subscribe now at

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


Want to hear an episode with someone else who doesn’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep? Have a listen to my conversation with neurobiologist Dr. Andrew Huberman, in which we discussed visual considerations for optimizing sleep quality, timing circadian biology, the cons of melatonin, non-sleep deep rest, how to test yourself for hypnosis susceptibility, the thrill of exit cage diving with great white sharks, and much more.

#521: Dr. Andrew Huberman — A Neurobiologist on Optimizing Sleep, Enhancing Performance, Reducing Anxiety, Increasing Testosterone, and Using the Body to Control the Mind
  • Connect with Bill Rasmussen:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


  • A recap of ESPN’s opening night. [05:34]
  • What accounts for Bill’s lifelong obsession with sports? [07:41]
  • How Bill’s family — especially his father — encouraged him to excel from an early age. [09:46]
  • By the time he got to college, what did Bill imagine he would do for a career — and what ultimately put a crimp in his ambitions? [11:20]
  • What did Bill learn during his initial foray into the working world, and how did this lead to the start of his first business? [13:47]
  • How did Bill segue from this first business into the world of sports broadcasting? Was his lack of experience at the beginning any hindrance? [17:01]
  • What does Bill’s self-talk sound like when he’s trying to convince himself to try something new? [21:33]
  • As confident as Bill is in trying new things, he’s not lived a life without self-doubt-inducing setbacks. Here’s one that led to the much bigger success that would become ESPN. [23:04]
  • What ESPN looked like in the conceptual stages — when its financial reserve consisted of a $9,000 credit card advance. [29:40]
  • How Bill and his team drummed up additional funds for the fledgling network. [31:50]
  • The clever reason behind shrink-wrapping the early NCAA pitch deck. [35:29]
  • Enter Walter Byers. [37:07]
  • What launch day and the days leading up to it looked like. [39:06]
  • The best decision made at ESPN. [41:32]
  • 24 hours, seven days a week is a lot of television to fill. What are some of the more esoteric ways that time has been filled at ESPN? [42:33]
  • Why did Bill leave ESPN at 2:05 p.m. on June 25th, 1984? [44:08]
  • Bill’s secret to effective pitching and negotiation, and a few book recommendations. [45:09]
  • ESPN has the power to bring people together — except for when someone needs a scapegoat for divorce proceedings. [46:44]
  • What does success mean to Bill, and who does he think of when he hears the word? Does he consider himself a success? [47:45]
  • If Bill had to give a high-profile, 20-minute talk about something unrelated to what made him famous, what would the topic be? What book would he recommend to someone who wanted to learn more about this topic? [48:57]
  • Current challenges. [50:19]
  • Bill’s best advice for someone seeking to launch their own business. [52:00]
  • What Bill’s billboard would say. [53:17]


“ABC, NBC: Always Be Curious, Never Be Complacent.”
— Bill Rasmussen

“Keep your eye on the ball. Keep focused. Never, never let up until you’re accomplished what you want to do.”
— Bill Rasmussen

“I was getting old. I was approaching 30. I didn’t want my life to go by without something. Well, when I found out I couldn’t play baseball, I decided that I could become a broadcaster.”
— Bill Rasmussen

“Years ago, tales of Jules Verne and Buck Rogers were made of dreams and wild bits of imagination. Today, modern technology has taken those dreams and that imagination and turned it into a reality that allows us to bring a television picture into your home via satellite.”
— Bill Rasmussen

“He said, ‘You’re kidding me. You don’t have a tape. You’ve never done it, but you know you can do it?’ I said, ‘Yep.’ He said, ‘You know what? Based on this approach, I’m putting a news station on the air in Amherst, Massachusetts. And if you’ll help me put it on the air, you’re my sportscaster.'”
— Bill Rasmussen

“If you’re a fan, what you’ll see in the next minute, hours, and days to follow may convince you you’ve gone to sports Heaven. Beyond that blue horizon is a limitless world of sports, and right now you’re standing on the edge of tomorrow, sports 24 hours a day, seven days a week from ESPN, the total sports cable network.”
— Bill Rasmussen

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.


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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