Please enjoy this transcript of my most recent Q&A.
As some of you know, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of The 4-Hour Workweek, which was first published on April 24th, 2007 (4/24/07), I signed 424 copies of the book. As thousands of you threw your hat in the ring to win a signed copy, I wanted to do something special for all the entrants. So, I invited those folks to a private YouTube Q&A. This episode is the recording of that session.
I answered many questions on a variety of topics, including startup investments, IFS therapy, my views on wealth and money, C.S. Lewis, lower-back pain, solitary time and its challenges, lessons from Kevin Kelly, books I’m currently reading, maintaining relationships, Japan travel tips, from whom to take advice (and how to evaluate advice), self-awareness, behavior change, my current alcohol consumption (or lack thereof), and much, much more.
Transcripts may contain a few typos. With many episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!
Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the Q&A on YouTube here.
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Tim Ferriss: Red light, loud and clear. Jared, Kev, Val, Frank, Penelope, if I’m getting that right, Alex. Nick. All right. Hey everybody. How many people do we have here? 101. I think that means we have enough people to get started with this thing. That’s actually a good number. I am clicking record on my first backup, which is a Shure MV88 plugged into an iPhone with the Shure mode of recording. Then I have my second backup on QuickTime audio. And then I have my primary, this ATR2100 or actually a newer version from Audio-Technica, USB.
All in all, I mean, this is three forms of backup, just to give you an idea of how cheap this podcasting game can be, this is probably 120 bucks, maybe $200 worth of gear total. And then we have YouTube for free. Thanks, YouTube. Thanks, Google.
And I’m excited to dive in. So, we will go back and forth between live questions, we have 135 people, 138, this will probably continue to grow, and some questions that were submitted beforehand. I will go back and forth between those, and just to give folks a few minutes to pop in because it’s 3:01 p.m., start time of 3:00.
Actually, I’m going to reverse the order and see if I can answer a few things in the chat, so please fire away. Feel free to drop in some questions. And I will answer a handful of those. And then we’ll jump to the pre-submitted, and we will continue along those lines.
Bariq, I think you said one is none. That’s a reference to the two is one and one is none. So, if you have two of something, you will lose one and you will have one remaining. If you only have one, you’ll end up with none. That is from my friends in the military.
Feels weird to hear Tim in one time speed. Florian, I know. May I haunt your dreams just a little bit less after this? Hello from Ireland, Connor. Great, strong Irish name. Nice to meet you.
Let’s continue down with the questions, and then I will edit this just to make it sound pristine, or my team will. Hello from Quito. Yes, Patricia. Let’s see. Do I still invest in startups? I very rarely — . this is from Bogdan — invest in startups, but I do occasionally invest in startups. At the moment, it is mostly going to be climate solutions/tech-related or Web3, although I’ve really dialed back on that to reallocate to more of the climate solutions and next generation agriculture, things along those lines.
Okay. Let’s see. I’m looking. I haven’t done a live chat in a long time, so it’ll take me a minute to get accustomed to navigating the chat box. It’s been a long time. All right.
All right. This is from Chris. “I’ve produced TEDx Chicago for the past four years. I’ve often wondered if you’d considered doing Tim Talks, live events with you interviewing folks you’d like to talk to. Thoughts, reaction?” Chris, actually just prior to COVID, this would’ve been Q1, Q4 of 19 —
Wow, let me try that again. Q4 of 2019. So end of 2019, and then potentially January 2020, I was in discussions with multiple venues in Austin to do a live podcast series. That would be something similar to the series that you might see on, say, Netflix with some of the late night show hosts. And I considered doing that. I’m still considering doing it. It’s really just a question of logistics, time, and life energy, which we may come back to. That is still on the table and TBD.
All right. Joel. Have I considered moving out of the US recently? Things seem to be getting really crazy. If so, where is interesting to you? Well, my general feeling is choosing the option that then presents or provides the most options. So, it’s likely something that would provide access to a larger geography, whether it’s in the EU or Commonwealth or something like that.
But I’m not currently planning on moving because I think wherever you go, there are going to be problems. And I think the problems going to get more and more complex and more and more serious in many places, including in the EU. So, rather than jump kind of out of the frying pan and into the fire, I’m also going to focus on trying to improve things here in the US.
I was born here. I didn’t choose to be born here. I am very grateful and fortunate in a million ways to have been born a native English speaker in the United States. And it’s afforded me a lot of opportunities. So I feel some karmic obligation to try to help here as well. So no immediate plans to jump.
Let’s see. John. “As someone who seems to be thoughtful about risk mitigation, are there any steps you’re taking to prepare for a society that seems to grow more and more contentious all the time?” Yes, I am planning on reducing my internet footprint in certain respects and probably disengaging from the most polarized platforms. Those platforms will, I think, continue to skew towards more extremes.
Certainly at this point, I have no kids. Once I have kids, I expect I’ll become much more monk-like in my predispositions and will care even more about privacy. Now, some of my friends, very smart people, would say, privacy is dead. That ship has sailed. You should just accept that privacy is dead. But it is still up to you what you broadcast and what you share publicly. That does have an impact on not only your life, but the lives of those around you.
I think this is particularly important to consider when your, say, kids do not opt in, if they’re not of an age where they can give consent. I kind of like to assume that they haven’t given consent. That’s my current feeling. Maybe I’ll change my mind once I’m flooded with hormones and decide I want to plaster everything with photographs of my kids. Who knows? But I think that is going to be my orientation.
And I think having a plan B, whether that’s a professional plan B, a geographic plan B, income plan B never hurts. That’s how I think about these things, but understand that I come pre-packaged, pre-programmed with some degree of paranoia and hypervigilance. So I tend to skew that direction, I would say.
Let me answer one more, and then I’m going to jump to some of the questions that were submitted. Let’s see. I will begin with, I believe this is a company name, so I’m going to skip it, but I will answer the question, and that is, “Can you share an interview that was the most impactful for you personally?”
I get this question a lot, and my general answer is all of the podcast episodes are personal to me in some way. They usually are a result of me having some type of question, problem or goal or desire that I can’t quite figure out or would like help figuring out. And so, I invite a guest.
At different points in my life, any given interview could be the most impactful, but one that I refer people to a lot that had a big impact on me is with BJ Miller. I’ll let you look it up, but BJ Miller at the time, he may do more now, was a hospice care physician, who was a triple amputee due to an electrical accident when he was in college, actually, and I had some familiarity with the story, has helped more than a thousand. He’s probably helped thousands of people to die at this point, to make that transition, so to speak, which kind of alludes to a number of other questions I received today.
I highly suggest that if you haven’t heard it, it is at least five years old, and there’s a lot to it. If you listen to it two or three times, you will learn something new or notice something new each time. And there’s a good amount of overlap, actually, in one respect with an Ed Cooke interview that I did, this sort of cosmic insignificance therapy, which is actually the name of a book excerpt that also reinforces this point from 40,000 — is it 4,000 weeks, 40,000 hours? I always get mixed up. Somebody can probably correct me, but I believe the book is Four Thousand Weeks. I can never remember the number. That’s one of the issues with the title, but Oliver Burkeman is the author. And if you look up cosmic insignificance therapy on tim.blog, you will find it.
All right. I said I was going to do one more. I’ll do a few more. Carlos Manuel, “Hey, Tim, would you consider doing a new version of Tribe of Mentors? Your access to really awesome people keeps growing.” Yes, I’ve actually been considering doing a new version, a new volume of Tribe of Mentors or Tools of Titans.
I was thinking about that this morning, literally, because I was lamenting last night at a dinner with a friend, who is also a podcast guest. He asked me, “Are you going to write another volume of Tribe of Mentors or Tools of Titans?” Because he, and this is a very high performing guy, got a lot out of both of the books.
I personally would like a reason to not so much reach out to new people, but even more so to review, say, the last 100 or 200 episodes of the podcast to glean what I may have forgotten, to highlight what I may have failed to implement and so on and so forth.
The motivation would be very much as the introduction of Tribe as Mentors — excuse me. The motivation would very much echo what is written in the introduction or the preface to Tools of Titans. It would be for me personally, and the assumption there being that if I do it for myself, that readers, at least some readers, will find it interesting.
Okay. Let me jump into some of these questions that are the selected questions, which came in as being pre-submitted. We’ve got between 400 and 500 people now on the line. So let me jump into that. And then I promise I’ll come back and we’ll answer some more live questions.
The first pre-submitted question is from Ariana, and I’m going to read this not necessarily because I have a great answer, but just because it may open the door and provide a tool to people who are listening. And I’m going to look into this.
Here is the question. “I am an IFS therapist.” For those people who don’t know what that means, IFS is Internal Family Systems. I don’t love the naming of this system, but the results are really undeniable, at least in a lot of friends and also for myself personally. I interviewed Richard Schwartz, who is the founder/creator of IFS. Although parts work has existed in different capacities and been used in various modalities for some time.
Coming back to the question, “I’m an IFS therapist and have had a couple of folks find me specifically from looking up IFS after hearing you talk about it. I’m super curious, have you ever explored the side of IFS that helps folks explore inherited trauma/energy? IFS refers to this line of inquiry as exploring quote, ‘legacy burdens,’ end quote. The way you talk about your depressive and angry parts makes me wonder if any of the energy that those parts carry feels inherited. And I guess I’d love to hear your riff on that.”
I’m not going to riff for too long on this, but I will say that absolutely both of those two specifically feel inherited. And I am going to look into legacy burdens and may chat again with Richard, Dick, about that. And perhaps I’ll do a round two on the podcast to explore that specifically, or at least do a session with an IFS therapist looking into that. That is my very short and sweet answer, which is really a non-answer. It’s just to say that is an interesting point that you raise. I will look into that. So thank you, Ariana.
Next question up is from Sam. And his question is, “Did you get any happier when you got rich? What do you think a healthy view of money is?” I’ll take this as an opportunity to give a shameless plug to a friend of mine, actually, Ramit Sethi, S-E-T-H-I and his podcast, which I think is just I Will Teach You To Be Rich. It may have a different name, but if you just find Ramit Sethi and his podcast. Each episode, and I’ve listened to a ton of them, he has generally a couple on and they talk about their money issues, their money priorities, what it means to live a rich life.
What you realize very quickly is that people have neuroses or stories at the very least around money that both help and hurt them, no matter how much money they have. So he can talk to a couple where they barely have enough money to scrape by, and they’re hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, or he can talk to a couple that’s worth $10 million and is still comparison shopping for strawberries. At the very least, it normalizes some of the unanswered questions and maybe unrealistic expectations that people have around money.
To answer your question directly, I would say that it’s hard for me, first of all, to point to a line after which I felt rich, if that makes any sense whatsoever and that if for the time being, and I’m borrowing this from someone else, I think it was a podcast guest, but the value or cost of something being the amount of life energy you exchange for it. So, you give to it or get from it right in the sort of pro and con, positive and negative sides of things.
What I’ve noticed for a lot of my friends is that past a certain point, wealth actually turns into a energy consuming facet of their lives. This is not to complain, because certainly I feel and I am extremely fortunate for a million reasons, but I have observed people who while they are on the hunt, while they’re on the journey to become rich, and I’m putting that in quotation marks in my mind because I think the goalposts tend to move for people and it is and can be a very nebulous goal.
But implicit in that is very often the assumption that once I have this money, once I am rich, once I have won that game, most of my problems or many of my problems will be solved. And on Maslow’s hierarchy, if we’re talking about shelter, food, so rent or mortgage, et cetera, that type of thing, it can be true, but the psychological, psycho emotional issues tend to not just not get fixed, but sometimes get exaggerated.
By that, I mean power, alcohol, money tend to magnify whatever is there. It’s also true with psychedelics for a lot of people. And if you have, say, paranoia or you’re worried about people ripping you off, fill in the blank, it could be any number of things. If you feel insecure in ways A, B, and C all of those levers I just mentioned, including money, tend to amplify those things. If someone’s generous, they’re going to be super generous. If someone’s a stingy asshole, they’re going to be a super stingy asshole, and so on and so forth.
What I’ve found is that people can be very happy and very often are very upbeat when they can hold in their mind the belief that once they cross the finish line, these problems will be fixed. Once they have the money, more often than not, they realize that’s not the case, and it can actually result in different types of, and maybe more intractable types of, depression or malaise, because then it’s like, well, wait a second. For 20 years, 30 years, I assume this would solve the problem. It didn’t. Now what?
On top of that, I would say once you have a team, once you have more stuff, let’s say somebody buys a second house, et cetera, all of that consumes life energy on some level. And you can create systems and so on, but it does create a bandwidth drain.
For instance, if you have a bunch of money, people are going to ask you for that money constantly in some form or another. And you will feel compelled, most people will, to think about investing a lot. Generating that initial wealth and being really good at investing are two entirely different sports. So, you may be very well-suited to the former and very ill-suited to the latter.
Again, coming back to your direct question, did I get any happier when I got rich? I would say that having a certain degree of relief, especially when thinking about caring for aging parents, when thinking about being able to help family members, being able to help family members and close friends during something like COVID, for instance, especially in the beginning, when there was a lot of uncertainty, and having some capital made a difference in terms of having optionality in moving people around and so on.
All of those things, I would say, give me a greater peace of mind and a certain degree of stillness. But on the other side of the ledger, there is a lot of shit that eats energy.
What do I think a healthy view of money is? I would suggest that you actually listen to my podcast episode with Morgan Housel, H-O-U-S-E-L on the psychology of money. This was a hugely popular episode. And I thought it would be reasonably popular, but it ended up getting a lot of spread via word of mouth and becoming mega popular. So, I’d suggest listening to that.
I would also say I don’t have all the answers because I fit in the category of someone who thought money would fix tons and tons and tons of things and be able to exhale and go maybe lay on a beach and rub cocoa butter on my belly and read novels and be perfectly content to do that for months and months of the year. Turns out not to be the case.
Also, if you’re accustomed to driving in sixth gear on the Autobahn, and you’ve done that for 20, 30 years, getting used to driving through a school district and stopping at red lights and so on at 20 miles an hour is not automatically easy to do. You think it would be, but if you’re used to park or mostly sixth gear, getting used to the gears in between, at least for me personally, has been very challenging.
So I’m still working on it. And I think this is a fascinating, fascinating question. I may not have given much clarity, but that is, that is my, my current state of play with these questions. Matthew correcting the title, Four Thousand Weeks, the book that I mentioned earlier, Oliver Burkeman. Great book, more highlights in that book, and Psychology of Money actually by Morgan Housel, than probably any books in recent memory for me.
All right, next question is Chris from Annapolis. “Tim, you’ve mentioned before that podcast guests have final say over content in their interview and they can cut out any parts that they aren’t comfortable with. Has there ever been any interview where the guest or you decided it wasn’t up to standard and was never published in the podcast?”
The answer is yes, that has happened. It has not happened recently, but I would say in total of the 600 plus episodes that we have recorded, there are maybe six to 10 that have not been published. It is true that I give every guest final cut, which is also what Inside the Actors Studio did certainly with James Lipton.
It’s not that uncommon a policy given the format of the podcast and the intention, which is much closer to, say, How I Built This with Guy Raz than it is to Hardball or something like that, where I’m looking to pin people in a corner and get them with gotchas and have some type of controversy. That’s the main hook I use for my audience. It’s not the intention, so I find it very easy to offer people final cut.
However, I will say there are conversations occasionally. First of all, I’d say fewer than three percent of guests ever take advantage of that. The intention is to say rather than self-censoring in the interview, and this is true with writing as well, you don’t want to have your genesis engine, your creative engine, and your editing engine running at the same time. It’s just not a great way to put out great work, I don’t think. Not that you want to model Hemingway in all things, but the kind of write drunk, edit sober approach applies to podcasting.
So, what I tell people before we start recording, and I say quite a few things before we start recording, but one of them is: “Just go all out. Come out raw, share the details, tell the stories, and we can always cut them later, but don’t self-censor. Assume we’ve had two glasses of wine each, we’re decent friends, and that’s the kind of conversation we’re having, just the two of us. And then we can always cut things out later.” That’s generally the phrasing.
However, if there is a section, and this has only happened once or twice, where they say, “I’d really like to remove this,” but I think the section is important, my general response there will be, “I’m happy to cut this, but what that’s going to mean is the interview itself cannot stand on its own two legs, and I can’t publish the interview. So, if you don’t want that component of the interview to be included, we just have to shelf the interview.” That has yet to result in an interview being shelved.
Those are some of my thoughts and approaches on final cut and how that applies to podcasts. There are many ways to do this. There are plenty of folks who don’t do that with guests, but I have been too often in the interviewee seat. I mean, I’ve been interviewed hundreds, probably thousands of times, and I’m just operating using the Golden rule here, treat others as you would like to be treated.
I will also ask people before we start recording, in case you’re interested, I’ll say a number of things. First, it’s not live, so if you want to go to the bathroom, get water, pause, and ask me a question. If you want to stop something because it’s not coming out the way you want and restart your answer, you can do all of those things, and we can make it sound better in post, so don’t worry about it.
I will also ask them, “What would make this a home run? Three months from now, when you look back, what would make you thrilled that you took the time to do this interview? And are there any ways you would like me to direct the narrative or attention?” Doesn’t mean I’m going to be a shill for someone’s publicist. I don’t do that.
But I would say next to no one asks anyone that. And for most folks who I have on the podcast, when I ask that question, they say, “Wow, I’ve never been asked that before.” And they very often have good answers. So it helps to inform the conversation. It makes them more comfortable. It tells them hopefully that I am an ally and not an enemy, that I’ve been in their seat before. And it just makes the entire process more pleasant and more fruitful. Again, if we think about the write drunk, edit sober type of approach to audio, I find it super helpful.
All right, next one. Brian, “I have rarely come across C.S. Lewis fans or admirers outside of Christian circles. What makes him compelling to you, including your praise of the movie The Most Reluctant Convert?” All right. I will answer this. C.S. Lewis, I first discovered as a writer. I did not discover him as a Christian and then moved to his writing. I simply found his prose and his writing spectacular, and I enjoyed the craftsmanship and the brilliance, and I still do, that goes into his writing.
I do think he’s also cross demographic and mainstream in the sense that he wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, which may very well be an allegory for Christianity and central figures and beliefs in Christianity. However, The Chronicles of Narnia, I was looking this up before doing this Q&A, has sold more than a 100 million copies in 47 languages, at least based on Wikipedia. So it has crossed over into mainstream, but I find him compelling because of his writing and also thinking.
The Most Reluctant Convert, I don’t recall how I first found that. It was probably because I was looking for documentaries about C.S. Lewis. This particular film is fact based or non-fiction history based, but it is acted. And it started off as I understand, as a one-man show on Broadway or off Broadway, but as theater. And the main older actor who plays C.S. Lewis narrating his own life is so good. I mean, the acting is so, so incredibly good that I recommended it, but it is not for religious reasons that I recommended C.S. Lewis.
And I will look up actually one book, again, it’s going to sound strange perhaps, but that I found fantastic that has very strong religious implications and overtones, but The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, I absolutely loved. I read it more than 20 years ago, so I may be missing something that doesn’t jive with current political correctness or something else. And if so, sorry about that. But those are the reasons for which I find C.S. Lewis really, really, really interesting.
And I should say at the same time that I read The Screwtape Letters, I was reading Bertrand Russell and Why I Am Not a Christian and all these other books. So, my interests relate to the prose and thinking of these people and is not driven first and foremost by belief system, at least not one that I’m aware of. There’s always the question of awareness and which beliefs I’ve come to on my own and which I have simply inherited from my family or environment or upbringing or otherwise.
Okay. Let’s jump into the live questions, and I will grab some more from the chat. All right. From Michelle, “Hi, from sunny Scotland.” That’s not something you read every day, and I do love Scotland, but it hasn’t always been sunny when I’ve been there. I do love yer coo! The Scottish cows are amazing. “How do you get things done when you’re having a bad day?”
I will say this because I hope it makes people feel better. When I’m having a really day, it’s very common that I don’t get much done or I don’t get anything done. I get to the end of my day and I’ve been busy maybe, and I can’t remember a single thing, I could not write down more than one perhaps things that I got accomplished that were meaningful in any way. So hopefully that makes you feel better.
But if I am trying to hedge that in some way, I would say exercise and blue light. So, using some type of light exposure with a portable device. I’ve used the Philips goLITE [Ed. Note: Now discontinued, but reviews of alternatives are in the show notes.] I believe it’s called before, which you can get on Amazon or just about anywhere else, but light exposure and exercise for sure would be the prerequisite or kind of boot up sequence that I would use.
Cold exposure, oddly enough, you wouldn’t think that cold exposure would be a real Archimedes’ lever here, but it does affect dopamine release. There’s a lot of literature to support this. And for me, at least has anti-depressant effects that last a while. It is not 10 or 20 minutes. There is some durability to it. And I find all those things very, very helpful.
You know what, I’m in the mode of confession today, so let me give another one. Adam, “I know your meditation practice is somewhat fluid. How does it look today?” It’s so fluid, in fact, that I have completely fallen off the wagon and have not been meditating for the last, at least month. And I’ve excused that. I’ve rationalized why that’s okay in many different ways, and at dinner last night was told, in no uncertain terms, it’s not okay, and those are all excuses.
So I intend to get back on the wagon. The way I’ll most likely do that is using the Waking Up app with Sam Harris and going through his very early initial program, which I think is somewhere between 10 and 30 days. And then I will also layer in TM, Transcendental Meditation. Putting aside some of the kooky stuff that’s associated with TM, it’s really just a mantra-based repetition practice. I find the simplicity of that to be very helpful for getting back into the habit.
And then we’ll go from there. I do find Loch Kelly quite interesting and have been consuming some of his lectures, which are quite short, and that will be my approach to getting back on the horse.
All right, let’s see what else we have here. Okay, here’s a question. “Do you think Ivy League graduate schools are worth the cost?” It’s so dependent on personal details, whether you’re taking on debt, et cetera. I will say that my view of higher education and graduate degrees in general is that it depends a lot on the caliber and name recognition of the school and also what that does to your professional opportunities.
So, if you’re going to go to business school, does it make sense to go to the 174th best business school in the US? For a lot of people, the answer will be no. If you get into Harvard Business School and you’re in accounting or consulting or banking, may that open up opportunities and also give you a nice two-year vacation of sorts where you can play beer pong while coming back to a higher position after graduation? Quite possibly.
And in some cases, actually in quite a few cases, those types of career tracks will pay for your further education. So there are instances where it can make sense, but I’m focusing on specifically the question of graduate schools. I think for undergrad, the calculus is a little different and you’re going into, say, a liberal arts education, even if you’re focusing in a technical major. And having a brand name of an Ivy League school that is globally recognized has lifelong benefits. So if that can be achieved and paid for without becoming an indentured servant for the next 10 to 20 years, I think it’s worth considering. All right. Let’s look at a few more.
All right. Here’s a question. “Thank you for the copy of The Lion Tracker’s Guide. What lesson would you hope a loved one of yours would get from it?” Well, if I consider myself to be in the group of my loved ones, which I don’t always feel to be the case, I would say there’s a line in there from tracker Renias, which is, “I don’t know where I’m going, but I know exactly how to get there.” Okay. Which refers to losing the track, not knowing where the animal eventually will be found, but understanding the process by which you can get to that animal, and trusting in the process. Even when you lose the track, which is inevitably part of tracking, as I’ve spent more time looking at it. I think that is one of the lines I would come back to, and one of the lessons I would come back to over and over again.
How do I handle overly political people, family, friends? I don’t have overly political friends. I break up with them. I’m not kidding, generally. People, family, I get very good at redirection to other topics, or I just request that we not talk about politics. Nothing’s going to be solved. It’s generally, not always, but generally just salty old dudes bitching and moaning. And I consider myself, at this point, a salty old dude, so let’s be honest, but I just don’t see anything productive. If someone is not actively in the arena, dealing with that and trying to solve the problems they are detailing, sometimes in excruciating high volume, then I just don’t have any interest in hearing it. So that’s the short answer to that.
“Other than John McPhee, are there any essayists you recommend checking out?” I would say essayist, I mean, Ralph Waldo Emerson comes to mind, but you may or may not consider him an essayist. Also, John Muir comes to mind. I mean, I have been reading a lot about the history of Yosemite, and also the history of the national park system in the US, so I have been reading a lot of writing from people who might be described as transcendentalists or naturalists. So those are a few that come to mind.
Let me look at a few more here. All right. Okay. It’s a question from Michelle, “Have you read works by Rudolf Steiner? Thoughts on his body of work?” I haven’t, but I am interested. So that name has come up a lot in the last few months, for reasons that are not totally clear, so I intend on investigating that.
This is a question from Wine. I’ll just say Vine. “Are you going to publish your fiction book in the real world?” So I am not currently working on a fiction book.
There are a number of questions about fiction. And actually here’s a question from David, “What is an unfinished project you have that you still care about and would like to finish at some point? Is there anything I, we, in other words, the audience, can do to help?” So I am in the process of thinking about creating fictional worlds, and also, but separately writing a screenplay. And for what the audience can can do, I don’t really have an ask at this point in time. I would say just check it out when I share something. And if anyone is interested in my first published piece of fiction, which deliberately, I’ve only made available in one format, you can go to tim.blog/nft.
I wrote a short story, not a big money maker by any stretch of the imagination. All the funds go to my foundation, which is a nonprofit and supports research, like the various novel treatments for, say, major depressive disorder, and so on, PTSD that Saisei Foundation is focused on, but you can go to tim.blog/nft and take a look at that. And you can zoom in and read it. It’s a little challenging to read, but I tried to format it in such a way that you can do it pretty easily. Let me see what else.
Okay. Ooh. All right. Bear with me as I jump in here. What’s the best purchase I’ve made over — over $250 in the last three years? I was expecting that to be under. The most recent purchase that I’ve been enjoying quite a lot is something the PSO-RITE, P-S-O hyphen R-I-T-E, for psoas release. It’s a very simple piece of plastic.
They have great margins on this thing, and you can see it, certainly on Amazon and on their website. And they have some good how-to videos on their website. And that came up because I was trying to find a way to unlock my lower back, which can cause a lot of sleep disruption for me. And I noticed that with, say, massage therapy or good soft tissue workers, if they, if they were technical enough to really do a nice job of releasing my iliacus that I could sleep really well for at least one or two nights, but I don’t always have access to such people and wanted to find a way to do it myself. And this device is what popped up. I think it costs somewhere between 50 and $80. So that is under $250. Over $250, I would have to think about that. I’ll meditate on that and I might come back. I don’t buy a lot of stuff. I get sent a lot of stuff that I just end up giving away. So I’m generally in purge mode and not acquisition mode.
All right, here’s a question. “What would you recommend reading, listening to learn about Japanese martial arts culture?” I would recommend reading the historical novel, Musashi, M-U-S-A-S-H-I. If you want to — it is long, and it is amazing. It’s one of my favorite novels. It is, I believe, the best-selling novel in Japanese history. So it was initially published in Japanese, Musashi. And if you would just like to hear a, I believe four-hour conversation about this, I was on Jocko Willink’s podcast. I think it was for episode number 100, but it could have been a different number, where he and I, because he’s also — and if you don’t know Jocko Willink, he’s a retired Navy SEAL commander, has an illustrious career record, and a fascinating character all around. He had his first long-form public interview on my podcast, and we talk in depth about this novel and some of the details within. So I would say Musashi‘s probably the first that comes to mind.
Question. I always get one of these, something like this. “Did you lose your razor, you hippie?” No, but since I can’t grow hair here, I like to grow what Jason Statham calls the upside down face. So I get the hair on the bottom, so if you rotated, it would kind of look like a hair intact upside down head. So, I just experiment with the facial hair, and frankly, I’m too lazy to shave every day.
Question from Anand, “If you had to recommend only one book, which one would it be?” Right now, today, I would recommend Awareness by Anthony de Mello. I think it talks about some foundational self-awareness issues that are the bedrock of functional or dysfunctional life. So, that’s probably the first one that I would bring up.
Mornay, “What one to three skills has made acquiring more skills easier or irrelevant?” Okay, I’ll mention three. Number one is acquiring relationships with polymaths who have mastered multiple things, because if they have mastered multiple very disparate disciplines, for instance, Josh Waitzkin, in the case of chess, and then later tai chi and Brazilian jiu-jitsu and foilboarding, who is at a very high level with all of those, or in the case of a friend, who’s a very good musician, also a very good writer. Ideally, I like to look for people who have mastered a, let’s call it a mental discipline and a physical discipline. Then I can generally get advice or introductions from them, or principles that will help me with acquiring any skill I would like to acquire.
And then if I try to fill the three slots that you offered, I would say another one would be learning any language that is a second language or a non-native language to a high degree is going to teach you a hell of a lot about not just fact acquisition, so declarative knowledge, but the procedural knowledge of producing novel sentences and describing concepts when you don’t quite have the vocabulary. You will learn a lot about how to acquire other skills by becoming, say, functionally fluent, which I think you can achieve generally in three to six months, if we’re talking about languages that use a Roman alphabet of some type. You will find that a lot of the meta principles that you gain from learning a language will transfer to other areas. And if you haven’t read The 4-Hour Chef, there’s an entire section on meta learning.
So The 4-Hour Chef confusingly is mostly focused on accelerated learning. So, the meta, say, learning section of that covers a lot of this, but let’s just take a language. So, I would pick, say, Japanese in my case, or Spanish. And then let’s pick one, Japanese, which also got me familiar visually with a different way of digesting and encapsulating information in the form of characters. And then pick a physical discipline. So, it could be, in my case, say, judo, could be archery, something that has a physical component. And if you get really good, let’s just say defining that as top five percent of the general population, not competitive population, that could be applied to power lifting as well, right? You’re not competing against, in that framing, people who are at the top of the competition circuit. You’re just looking at, say, your body weight to deadlift ratio for general population, if you can figure out a way to assess that.
So, if you have one mental, let’s say in my case, Japanese, which includes both declarative and procedural, then you have a physical. Right now for me, it’s archery, but let’s just say it’s judo, back in the day. And then having the relationships with at least a few people who are doing something similar, right? So, they are polymaths or multi multidisciplinary in a way that includes at least one primarily physical and one primarily mental skill, I think you can obviate the need to try to collect, in some ad hoc way, a lot of disparate things. And you can pick and choose, and be very effective when you pick and choose.
Margaret, you have a question. “Looking back at your childhood, what is your favorite fairytale or folk story?” I was just thinking about this before recording actually. And I don’t know if this will count as fairytale, but I was thinking of, I think prompted by the question about C.S. Lewis, that took me to Chronicles of Narnia, and I started thinking about The NeverEnding Story. I loved The NeverEnding Story, the book, when I was young. And I misbehaved in school a fair amount, and I would get sent to detention. But what they didn’t realize is I love detention because detention was in the library. And so I could skip these classes that bored the hell out of me and just read whatever I wanted. And The NeverEnding Story was definitely one of my absolute favorites. I think it has a lot of philosophy embedded in it that is actually intended for more adult audiences.
And for that reason, I would like to reread it, but I would — I haven’t thought of this in a long time. I would actually take The NeverEnding Story, and I would hide it in the library so that it wouldn’t get taken out before my next detention. And in that way, I would be the only person who knew where The NeverEnding Story was, and I could always continue where I left off. So that is one.
Okay. This is from Udo, or Udo. I apologize. I’m not sure on the pronunciation. What did I most enjoy or find fascinating about learning German? And what did you find especially annoying or challenging about it? I’ll start with annoying or challenging.
It was also interesting to me, but the articles and the declination of the articles. So, the fact that you have masculine, feminine, and neuter for, just to be clear, indefinite articles, a, an in English, or definite articles, the. So, not only that, but if it’s like dative or accusative or whatever, you have all these different adjustments based on if something is, say, being used to indicate a direct or indirect object. So you can have Der, Die, Das, then you have Dem, which would be for the dative. And you have eine, eines, einem, then you have the genitive. It goes on and on and on. So, part of the reason I forget German the fastest, most quickly out of all the languages I have taken a stab at is because, as you would expect, just like people like German engineering, it’s a very precise language and there are a lot of rules. And the articles and so on drove me nuts.
I found challenging also, the number of prepositions of sorts that are thrown onto the front of verbs. And I won’t get into a ton of examples, but I found that challenging. What did I enjoy about it? I enjoyed learning a lot about older English and the etymology of certain, say older English, or even modern English words, looking at Germanic roots. I really enjoyed that. I really enjoyed the German people also, when I was in Berlin. I just had a great time in Berlin, and I found, in general, the Germans to be very warm and very funny, very blunt in their humor, which I appreciated. I think maybe coming from New York, growing up in New York, I found it pretty easy to digest all of that. And I really enjoyed, and this is going to be a problem for some people, but I enjoyed how the sentence structure and the word ordering can change very, very dramatically depending on how things are laid out.
So for instance, in English or in Mandarin Chinese, the sentence structure is pretty consistent. It is subject verb object, right? I ate the apple, I go to school, whatever. Now, in Japanese, you have the opposite. It’s I to the library go, I the apple eat. And also pretty consistent. German has both. And English, to some extent, has a few exceptions, but German will have Ich glaube Das, “I think that…” and then, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, verb. And in the beginning I found that confusing as Hell. And it was really hard for my working memory, as an English speaker, to hold onto all of this crap that I needed to remember before we got to the verb. And when my brain became more accustomed to that, it felt like some type of — let’s just say you had the equivalent of like a frozen shoulder in your brain, and then it suddenly regained its range of motion. It had that sensation in the brain for me. So there we go.
Here’s a question. “Any updates on the Tim Ferriss fragrance for men?” This has been one of those stupid things that I’ve wanted to do for a long time that may end up being not that stupid, much like I’ve always wanted to be able to do the side splits between chairs like Van Damme. I think I may give that one up. It’s been on my new year’s resolutions for 35 years, but the fragrance for men may be forthcoming. So, keep an eye out. And in fact, that may become a thing. All right, let me check a few more, and then I will jump to the pre-submitted.
This is a question from — here’s one. Oh, that’s funny. All right. So I think this is a real estate agent in Germany, “Der, Die, Das. Yeah. I’m already 15 years in German, but still difficult.” Totally feel you. I feel you. All right.
This is a question from Antifragile. I will read it as it would be pronounced in English. “What role has downtime had on the severity of your depression?” This is a great question, and I actually think it has been also in the pre-submitted questions. So, I will give a stab now. What role has downtime had on the severity of your depression? How can one make time for one’s creative pursuits while diminishing the vulnerability such mental space solitude can summon. This is a very good question. And I think about this a lot, because there are times when I’m tempted, say to go do two weeks in nature by myself, but there’s definitely part of me that is concerned that when I provide that amount of negative space or empty space, that the thoughts and the loops that creep in will be of some character that bring about depression or anxiety, mostly depression.
And one might advise me that that’s true initially, and then it clears out. However, I have counter examples, and this is true for my Vipassana retreat that I’ve spoken about at some length in the past, and spoke about, at some length, on Dan Harris’ Ten Percent Happier podcast. So if you want to hear more about that, you can listen to the Ten Percent Happier podcast that Dan Harris did with me, but I had a complete psychological breakdown at the Vipassana retreat, silent retreat, and I didn’t make my life any easier by making it much more extreme and exaggerated in a few respects. One was coming into it six days fasted, because I really wanted to make the most of this limited amount of time, but that is a concern. So, first of all, I just want to validate that by saying you’re not the only person who thinks about this.
This is something that I certainly think about, but your question isn’t so much one about solitary time. It’s a question about downtime. Now, it seems like you’re equating downtime to making time for one’s creative pursuits. The way I think about this is a little bit different. And I would say for me, creative pursuit right now is dictated by who can I interact with, even if it’s just once a week, even if it’s once every two weeks? How can this bring me closer to someone I want to be closer to? And for me it’s mostly preexisting friendships. But part of my reason, the primary reason that I’ve thought about doing something incredibly absurd, and effectively a parody of the space in the NFT world, is because I have all these old friends who are scattered around the country, and we used to all be in San Francisco together. And we spent a lot of time together and had so much fun. And then life progresses.
People get married, people have kids, people move away. And Web3 is one of the first times that I’ve seen almost all of these people get back on the same playing field in a way where they are interacting and having fun. And this, by the way, is not a recommendation to invest in Web3 NFTs. So I think you should assume that pretty much everything could go to zero, and a lot of these things will go to zero. So this is not investment advice. This is psychological commentary for me in terms of choosing projects. So I am actually choosing the playing field first, and then I’m deciding, all right, which sport do I want to play on that playing field? Which position do I want to play on that playing field? But it’s actually starting with the who, and not starting with the what, if that makes any sense.
And I have found that, at least so far, to be very helpful to my mental state, in the sense it bolsters me, it feeds me, it nourishes me, as opposed to making me feel like I’m stepping out to a cliff and peeking over the side where I can say, “Yeah, this is a great view, but if one foot slips, I could find myself in trouble.” Hopefully that helps.
Megan. what have I been reading, listening to lately that has impacted your thinking about parenthood? Well, I have something right next to me, and I’ll just pull two books. So the first, I don’t even know if this has been published yet. It was sent to me by Kevin Kelly. Who’s an incredible human being, and I still think probably the most interesting man in the world in reality.
So, I would suggest listening to my first podcasts I did with Kevin Kelly, but he sent me this little book. It’s called Excellent Advice For Living: Seeds For Contemplation. And these are based on his, I want to say for the last two or three years, his annual what I’ve learned lists, where he turned 68 and he put together, I think 68 bullets. And then he turned 69. He put together another 69 bullets. And this little book contains, I want to say through between 300 and 400 of such bits of advice. Kevin is also one of the most engaged, and I would say successful parents and spouses I’ve ever seen. So I find Kevin to be a role model worth studying. So that doesn’t directly answer your question perhaps, but for me, it’s about understanding someone’s complete picture well enough that you don’t cherry pick one piece and find it later, to your detriment, to be hitched to everything else. Right?
So, what I mean by that is, in the world of business, for instance, or investing, I know a lot of young men make this mistake. They’re like, “Okay, I want to emulate…” And I’m sure young women make this mistake, or older men and women, but they’ll say, “I want to emulate fill-in-the-blank investor. He or she has compounded 20 percent for the last 17 years. That’s what I want, because I want to be rich.” And what they may neglect to do is go on to Wikipedia and read about this person and realize they’re on their seventh marriage and that you can’t automatically cherry pick one piece of someone’s life and force fit it into your own, and safely assume that other parts of your life will not change as a result of inserting that, right? So in Kevin’s instance, I feel like I know Kevin well enough. We’ve traveled around the world together, and I’ve seen him with his family. I’ve been to his house. I’ve spent time with him. He’s not one of my closest friends, but I know him well enough to think, okay, holistically, Kevin has figured a lot out.
He also lives in a very non-consensus way, but he does it through reasoning, and by paying attention to his sort of internal compass, not simply to be a contrarian. So, for all those reasons, I find Kevin Kelly fascinating. And you could certainly just look up his “What I’ve Learned” birthday posts, if you can’t find Excellent Advice For Living. That’s the first one. And the next one, which I’ve had on my shelf for a very long time is this. This is, and I think I’m going to be pronouncing this correctly, but sorry, if I’m not dear author, Johann Hari. I believe it’s Johann, but somebody could probably correct me if I’m wrong.
J-O-H-A-N-N, last name H-A-R-I. This book is Lost Connections, and the subtitle is Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions. And most of this relates, as far as I can tell — now, in fairness, I’m only reading part three. I’m skipping the description of all of the causes of depression, and I’m skipping all the descriptions of the issues and jumping straight to part three, which is reconnection, or a different kind of antidepressant, and really reading about social cohesion and social structuring. That might be a strange way to put it, but how to think about cohabitating neighborhoods, community, such that parenting, among other things, can succeed.
So, rather than saying, “How can I be the best parent?” Which is certainly a question I’m sure I’m going to beat to death once I get closer to having kids. But putting that aside for the second, asking rather, “How can I set the conditions such — how can I set the conditions such that the likelihood of a kid turning out well, happy and healthy, to the extent that’s possible, with some genetic determinism, maybe? How can I do that through thinking about where we live, who is around us, what support structures exist, and so on.” So, that those are two quick answers to your very short question. Thank you.
All right. This question, Anthony, dream guests. “Who are dream guests?” There’s a long list of folks. I’ve thought about Oprah, of course, and many others, but sometimes the juice isn’t the squeeze. Wow. Let me try to English again. Sometimes the juice — . this is why I have iced tea. Hold on. Iced tea break. Sometimes the juice is not worth the squeeze with mega celebrities. You just have to interact with so many layers of people and a phalanx of lawyers and the manager and the agent and the publicist and the publicist’s assistant and all of, that when you finally get to the interview, you feel worn down. And it can take a year, a year and a half, two years, three years to get these things done. So I have not pursued that very hard, even though I would love to do it.
I think Oprah’s incredible. And for those interested in learning more about her, [Making Oprah] is a short mini series podcast that I’ve only listened to the first season of, but I found it very interesting. Others that come to mind would be Daniel Day-Lewis, even though frankly, I’m not sure he would ever do it. And secondly, I have not listened to any long form interviews, but I think he’s such a spectacular performer that it could be interesting. And he is very hard to get a hold of. So there’s part of that. That is appealing to me in and of itself. Ryan Reynolds, I think would be incredible. And there are certainly many other — and I’ve checked off a lot of my dream guests. If you think about Jane Goodall, I wanted to have her on the podcast since day one. Fortunately, Madeline Albright, Margaret Atwood, just to name a few, and many others. Hugh Jackman, and also thinkers I wanted to have on for a very long time, scientists who are lesser known.
So those are a few who come to mind. But what I have come to realize for myself is, number one, if you want to focus — one of the best ways to grow a podcast is to focus on mega celebrities and controversy. And I have almost no interest in doing either of those things. So once I let go of that and have viewed this podcast as something that nourishes me, hopefully as much as it nourishes other people, you can find fascinating people who will give you incredibly good conversations and takeaways and actionable philosophies and deep thinking everywhere. They are everywhere in any given country, any given gender, race, creed, you can find them. Som I don’t worry too much about the wishlist anymore, but yeah, I do have a short wishlist. And at the very least, I think maybe I’ll give it a stab. Once every six months, we’ll throw out a long lead and see if we can get them on.
All right, this is a question from Erin. Oh, Erin’s dropped quite a few questions in. Let me pick one. Bear with me. Let me pick one of these. All right. I’ll pick the one that maybe I can answer. This is from Erin, E-R-I-N. “Did you mainly take a break from investing because of losses in the market before returning to crypto investing? How do you feel about the bear market now?” No, I did not take a break from investing because of losses in the market. I took a break from investing for a bunch of separate reasons, and I’m just going to search for it right now so I can tell you. Wow. Geez. All right. So, I wrote a post in 2015, which explains it well, and it is, “How to Say ‘No’ When It Matters Most,” and then in parenthesis, “Or Why I’m Taking a Long ‘Startup Vacation.'”
And this was a very popular post, October 29th, 2015, “How to Say ‘No’ When It Matters Most (or “Why I’m Taking a Long ‘Startup Vacation'”).” And we’ll put the link in the show notes, but I will also drop the link into the chat so people can check that out. And those are my reasons for taking a break. It really related to having time for deep work and focusing on other projects, did not have anything to do with losses. I’d actually, at that time, done quite well. I did, however, want to wait, given the number of private investments, to see how many turned out, because I did not have complete confidence, I still don’t have complete confidence, that I’m very good at angel investing, even though I’ve had a number of wins. You don’t want to count your chickens before they’ve hatched. In this case, you don’t want to count your chickens before a liquidity event. So I wanted to also wait and focus on other things. And my crypto investing was around that time mostly. So I have not been speculating or day trading or playing much at all in crypto for the last several years. I’m watching it very closely and I’m interested in aspects, or I should say related marketplaces and technologies, that are underpinned or at the very least denominated in some sense, in say ETH or other cryptocurrencies.
But I think a lot of what’s going on in crypto and Web3, the vast majority of it’s going to end in tears and it’s going to run red. So that is not to give, again, any investment advice but just to tell you about my own thought process. I’ve been mostly on the sidelines.
How do I feel about the bear market now? I think that no one should be surprised. I think no one should be surprised by this and that what goes up comes down and that we are probably going to be in — let me rephrase that. I am preparing to be in what we would consider not just a bear market but a full-fledged recession with high inflation for quite some time.
So I am not currently in the mode of deploying as much capital as possible into what one might think of as the bottom of the market. That is not how I’m viewing things. So I am definitely cutting — let me rephrase that. I am definitely measuring twice and cutting once and I am personally holding onto significant cash reserves.
Now that could prove to be the wrong decision if my goal were to optimize for maximum return on investment and compound on annual growth rate and so on. But right now, I am optimizing for sleeping well at night and fortunately, don’t spend a lot of money on too much expensive bullshit so I don’t need to feed that monster too badly.
All right. Johann Hari is a worthy podcast guest. Yes Andre, I believe, reading this correctly. I agree with you so I maybe I’ll get him on at some point. All right. Let me jump — Matthew. You’re saying it’s strangely satisfying when my head fits perfectly into the painting behind you. There you go. Check it out. All right. Thank you for that commentary. I appreciate it. Not done on purpose.
Let’s jump into some of the pre-submitted questions. All right. Next is “I’d like your perspective on this quote. ‘If being hard on yourself worked, it would’ve worked by now.’ Does that ring true in your own self-compassion journey and how do you feel now about your relationship to yourself and especially what you expect from yourself having been on that journey for some time now?”
So I would say that much work remains to be done, for me, with respect to self-compassion. I am still very brutal when it comes to self-commentary and criticism. I do think it’s improved some, incrementally improved. And to reflect on the quote, because you asked for that, if being hard on yourself worked, would it have worked by now? Right?
Now, something akin to this also would be if working harder on this worked, it would’ve worked by now. Right? Or if asking for this worked, in the context of say a significant other or something like that, if asking for this in the way you’ve been asking worked, it would’ve worked by now is, I suppose, a mantra for remembering that if you repeat the same thing over and over again expecting different results, you are engaging in some form of insanity.
However, I think the challenge when we dig into the nuances here and the practical results of being hard on yourself is that being hard on yourself works for some things. Right? I do think having almost impossibly high standards and just whipping your back with the help of the demons in your psyche and whatever collected trauma you like to use as a form of boulder pushing you forward does work for some things. Right?
It works for piling in the hours. It works for distracting yourself with a manic focus on building your business, for instance, or something like that. So it’s not totally useless. I think therein lies part of the challenge, that being hard on yourself does work or seems to help for some things.
Does it work for increasing your feelings of contentedness? Does it work for increasing your feeling of spaciousness and ease? I don’t think so. Certainly that’s not the case and I feel like I’ve solved for many things in my life but that last collection of three or four things I just mentioned is one that I continue to try to solve for and I think many of you who listen to the podcast regularly will have noticed that in the guests and the type of questions that I ask.
So if anyone is struggling with that or finding that to be a challenge, you are not alone, at least Nathaniel, who asked the question, and yours truly count is two. But I know this is a very pervasive challenge for almost everyone I talk to, not everyone, but almost everyone. You know who seems to have it figured out, although it’s hard to tell if he came out of the box this way, is Kevin Kelly, which is another reason why I find him fascinating and want to make a study of him.
Okay. Next question. Here we go. “Considering Dunbar’s law of having a max of 150 meaningful contacts, how do you manage the relationships and friendships with all the amazing people you’ve met over the years and especially through the podcast? They all seem like people you would want to stay in contact with.”
All right. Let me take a second to try to tackle this. I agree with Dunbar’s law, having a max of 150 meaningful contacts. In fact, I would say it’s a lot lower than that for me. I don’t think I can maintain more than a few dozen meaningful contacts. Meaningful, here defined as relationships that I communicate with say at least once every two weeks and this is partially a function of just how much inbound gets directed at me and my team.
I mean thousands of inbound messages if you count email, social, et cetera, that blog, and so on. It is impossible, physically impossible, to digest and respond to all of those. So I do think there’s a certain degree of decision fatigue that feeds into this. But I would like to say that there are a few things that help me not feel stress around keeping in touch with people or staying in contact with people.
The first is if you know one person who is really, really good, they don’t even need to be famous but just very, very competent. I was about to say gifted but that’s not the same thing. Someone who has cultivated a high degree of expertise and ability in any field, that could be neurosurgery, that could be applied linguistics, that could be venture capital. If you know one person, you can get to anyone else in that field, generally speaking, assuming that person you know isn’t a total bastard.
So you will be able to get to just about anyone. Like if you get to know someone who is a national finalist in the dog agility championships, you want to find someone in the dog world especially in the competitive arena, you can find that person if you know one. So you really just need a toehold in. I would say also, I know a lot of podcasters and those podcasters very often do something akin to what I do so they also have their own collection of these wedges, so to speak.
Last, I would say that busy people, and most of the people I have on the podcast are busy in one form or another, do not expect nor do they desire to keep in contact with or to keep up with many people. If I have a two-hour meaningful conversation with them and if I do my homework, if I do my prep, if my team helps me do that, if they come away from the interview thinking to themselves, “Holy shit, that was an experience, and I’ve never quite had an interview like that before, that was really well-architected, that was really well-directed, the questions were reflective of a really high degree of homework, I’m surprised I enjoyed that so much,” I do not need to email that person a month later to ping them to keep my name top of mind and I think it would actually damage those relationships if I did that routinely.
So the folks that I select to have on the podcast and the people who self-select to be on the podcast, generally, just by a virtue of being world class whatever they do tend to be low-maintenance, seeking low-maintenance, and they look for density of meaning and connection rather than frequency. So I really don’t feel compelled to stay in contact with folks who I’ve established that baseline connection with unless there’s something meaningful to ask them or to offer them or otherwise.
So there you have it. Yeah. I mean there are hundreds of people I’ve had on the podcast who I haven’t had any contact with in years. But if I were to email them or text them, I believe they would respond, if they’re able, and it comes down to, I think, prep and this is reflected also in their interactions with my team. So from start to finish, what was their experience and if it was great, most of them, I think, are open to having some type of dialogue after the fact even if we’ve had no contact whatsoever.
This relates, also, to a presentation I gave at South By Southwest, which may be worth listening to for some folks and I put it on the podcast which is, I believe, titled, sounds a little hyperbolic, but “How to Build a World-Class Network in Record Time.” I gave this at South By Southwest because the organizers asked me if I would do a session explaining how to get the most out of South By Southwest, which is a huge, huge, huge, huge festival/conference.
So I would say start there and those are some of my thoughts.
Let me look at some of the live questions. What would my advice be to 21-year-old Tim? Probably drink a little bit less, exercise a little bit more, start meditating, and do not participate in anything as an impulse that you think might destroy your shoulders. I would say those are a few that come to mind immediately.
Mornay. “Are there any of the principles or ideas in The 4-Hour Workweek you think apply less today?” Principles, no. I think the principles, as far as I can recall, and I did look at the book recently because I had a question like this come up. The principles, I think, still apply equally if not even more so in today’s environment, honestly, with the amount of destabilization with remote work, with experiments and decentralization, with rentable infrastructure and services. I think the principles, if you are looking for self-determined security per se, if you’re looking for preserving optionality, I think the principles in The 4-Hour Workweek apply more so now than when the book first came out.
The specific tech tools and so on that are mentioned in some parts of The 4-Hour Workweek, like GoToMyPC, clearly, are outdated and a lot of the specific tools could be updated. But if you understand the principles and the methods, you can find the specifics. You will have the ability to search and vet the particular tools that suit your circumstances and objectives and so on.
But I think that, in fact, The 4-Hour Workweek principles apply now more than ever and I’m remembering another thing that reinforced this for me is I was asked to write a new preface to the German edition of The 4-Hour Workweek where the book has been spectacularly successful. More copies have been sold in the German markets than in the UK markets and Australian markets and maybe someone can explain to me why Germany and Korea seem to be such voracious book-reading cultures across the board. My other friends who are authors say the same thing.
But regardless, the point was I wrote a preface for a new edition, same as the revised edition in English of The 4-Hour Workweek. I went back and I looked at the book as a review and I thought to myself, 80/20, Pareto’s principle, Parkinson’s law as a helpful heuristic, dreamlining, fear-setting, all of these tools, all of these principles seem to be timeless but extremely timely in the current flux that we’re experiencing and I think we’ll continue to experience for some time.
So hopefully that is helpful and for anyone who’s wondering, you can find dreamlining if you search that in my name. You can find worksheets and so on for free. And if you’re interested in the fear-setting, as I described it, that was the subject of my TED Talk that I did a handful of years ago and you can find that at tim.blog/ted and I also include some text as a description.
All right. Question. “What are three things one should do when visiting Japan that you wouldn’t find on every travel blog?” Number one, try to go to the Ghibli Museum, G-H-I-B-L-I Museum in Inokashira Park. It is the most wonderful, unusual museum I think I’ve ever been to. It’s adorable. So Ghibli, for those who don’t know, is the equivalent of Disney in Japan founded by Miyazaki Hayao and this particular museum is just incredible. When I attended, this may have changed, but they would give you a ticket and the ticket contained a clip of a real cell from one of their animated films and I just loved it.
When I was last in Japan, you can get tickets for that at Lawson, I think, which is the equivalent of say a 7-Eleven, which then brings me to a food recommendation which is to try to find a street-side yakitori or some type of really, really low-brow cheap Japanese food. If you just search, I’m sure you can find which subway stop or which train stop would take you to such a place where you can wander around and have some street food in Japan. And in fact, if you wanted to do two for one, Inokashira Park, Inokashira Koen, at a number of entrances has food kiosks where you can get any number of things. So if you wanted to do a two for one, you could do that.
And then number three, I’m shooting from the hip here, I would say is get incredibly lost and don’t take your phone. So no using Google Maps, no using Google Translate. Walk around. Do this during the day. It’ll be a little easier to get back to where you need to go and get incredibly lost and then find a koban, which is a police kiosk, and you could have the hotel or Airbnb address or whatever on a card. That’s fair game. Then have them with their almost certain broken English help you get back to wherever you need to be. That’s an adventure that I think everyone should have. It is one of the most alien places an English-speaker could visit while still being almost completely safe. I think there has been a little bit more violent crime in Japan since I was there in say ’92, ’93, and I’ve visited many times since, but it is still incredibly safe by global standards.
Okay. Let me look at one or two more and then I will jump back to some of the presets and I see now that we’ve been going for an hour-and-a-half. I was only planning on an hour. I will keep going probably for another half-hour for those people who are willing to stick around. Just let me know if you’re still going to stick around. If you’ll still stick around, I’ll keep going. So let me know.
Question from Goku. “What’s the most beautiful location you ever visited?” One of them, first that comes to mind is Queenstown, New Zealand. Incredible, incredible spot. So that is one that comes to mind but there are many. There are many, many, many places. Certainly, I could probably pick 10 in Japan alone and there’s a lot.
All right. Let’s see here. All right. Julie, “What’s your system to choose a focus in business?” Pick up The 80/20 Principle. This is a book by Richard Koch, K-O-C-H. He may actually say his last name Koch. I think that’s how he says it. You could listen to my conversation with him which was, I think, a very, very solid conversation. But The 80/20 Principle. I would just pick up that book. That is the shortest answer that I can give while still being helpful.
Let’s see. Yeah. The 4-Hour Workweek, there’s some commentary on The 4-Hour Workweek in German. It is fun to see how it’s translated into other languages. Danish is something like 4-Timers Arbejdsuge. I just loved learning all of the translations because I’m still a language nerd. So it was helpful to just pick up five, six, 15 words with each translation.
All right. All right. I’m going to give this a shot. This is a question from Cole. “What sort of strategies have you applied to overcoming grief after losing a loved one suddenly? There seems to be a lot of bad content platitudes when it comes to death and grieving.”
I’ll comment on this just because I recently attended my uncle’s funeral and he died of alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy. So for those who are not aware, I’m very heavily involved in supporting nonprofit research related to psychedelic therapeutics and these are often looking at indications like major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, complex PTSD in the case of MDMA psychotherapy. But at NYU, you have psilocybin for alcoholism and psychedelics, I do think, apply more broadly to different types of addictions including thought addictions, which could be manifest in OCD or anorexia nervosa, et cetera.
But these are, in some cases, very deeply personal for me. So my uncle became an alcoholic when he was a child and continued until he drank himself to death, in this case, and we just had that funeral. It was really an internment because he was cremated and I was surprised because I expected it to be very somber, maybe depressing. One or two family members decided to tell really funny stories about this uncle and we spent a bunch of time together and it ended up being quite unexpectedly bonding for all of us to tell these stories but to focus on the good and to focus on the funny.
He was a joker. Right? He was a joker. It was his personality so I think he would’ve wanted that and it was the most uplifting, I think, repairing such service I’ve ever been to. And so I do think that there’s probably a place for storytelling with an emphasis, in some cases on humor and I’m certainly no expert in this by any stretch.
My friend, Matt Mullenweg, who lost his father very unexpectedly found, I think it’s On Grief And Grieving to be very helpful and he has recommended that people read this before they lose loved ones. So it seems to have some not preventative but some preemptive value on grief and grieving. This is by David Kessler and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, I guess Kübler-Ross, came highly recommended. I’ve mentioned that on podcasts with Matt because I’ve had him on several times and have had tremendously positive feedback from listeners. So I would say that would be another possible recommendation although I have not read it yet myself.
All right. Let me jump into some of the submitted questions and then we will keep going. All right. I’m going to do a quick one. AJ, “What was your thought process and key decision factors on moving from the Bay area to Austin?”
Answer to that is check out my Reddit thread. I wrote a Reddit AMA answer to this that went somewhat viral. So I would just search Tim Ferriss move from San Francisco to Austin Reddit AMA and it’ll pop right up. Has it worked out entirely the way you anticipated? Short answer, no. Anything you’d change? I don’t think there’s anything I would change but I did move to Austin, in part, to get away from any mono conversation scene.
And I anticipated, when I moved there in 2017, that Austin would become a scene probably in say, I don’t know, seven to nine years, something like that. I did not anticipate that COVID would accelerate all of that. So significantly, of course, and I would say that Austin has become a massive scene of scenes, so that is unfortunate, but it’s also a great city. It has a lot to redeem itself and there are reasons why people are moving there. But if you want the basic rationale, check out my Reddit AMA answer.
Here’s a question. “I saw a tweet recently that said ‘Way too many young guys are taking life advice from childless 40-year-old men.’ I’m a student in my early 20s and I’m a voracious podcast listener: your pod, Lex Fridman, Balaji, Naval, et cetera. I think this tweet was cynical and off the mark. But do you think people at my stage of life should be careful about relying too much on what they learn from your generation?”
All right. Let’s take a stab at this. So I think that people at any stage of life should be careful about relying too much on any particular single archetype or demographic or psychographic. Right? So I will point out also, Balaji has kids. Naval has kids. So those two I would except from the question because they’re not childless. Lex, I don’t believe, has kids. I do not currently have kids.
So it also depends on what type of advice you are consuming and are these people practicing what they preach? Are they walking the walk and not just talking the talk? So it depends, for me, highly on the type of advice. So if I’m talking to, let’s say, an IFS therapist, I’m not going to ask them for say, general contractor, constructing advice for a remodel that I might be in the middle of. I’m going to recognize just like me, just like anyone else, there are constraints and limits to the expertise of any one person and I’m going to look for practitioners.
So I would say that. And if you are getting all of your advice from people who fit neatly into a handful of parameters, let’s just say 40-year-old childless men, then I do think that is a prompt for pausing and diversifying. But diversifying here really just means changing some of those variables and I think that is incredibly helpful for your intellectual health. It is incredibly helpful for preserving a healthy level of skepticism so you don’t accidentally get indoctrinated into the cult of personality X.
Those are my general thoughts. Part of the reason I do this podcast and kept The Tim Ferriss Show very broad in its possible scope is I want to speak with a very wide spectrum of folks. If I only were able to speak to business people because this were strictly business and entrepreneurship show, I would’ve stopped doing this a long, long time ago. I do try to follow the advice that I am giving right now.
That said, I will also underscore that if you are studying and taking advice or considering advice, you should certainly consider and stress test the advice before implementing it. Then, you are ahead of a lot of people who just don’t do that at all, who are happy to regurgitate whatever the latest news is that they’ve pulled from their doom-scrolling on Twitter and yell and shout on the internet. So if you are engaged in any type of self-development, you are already, I would say, ahead of the curve but certainly much like a physical diet, a spectrum of different foods will likely cover more bases, keep you healthier than some type of strictly regimented mono-categorical type of eating and that’s true for your information diet as well. So I would say that my general thoughts are pretty, pretty simple in that respect.
All right. Let’s see here. Already answered the downtime question. Okay. I have a question here. This is going to be a bit of a long one and this is going to be a hard one too so I’m going to take a little iced tea break and do this and then I’ll come back. Also, I’ll do the live questions after I do this one.
Okay. See if I have anything to offer here. And by the way, we received hundreds and hundreds of submitted questions and my first filter is, do I know anything about this? Right? Do I have anything to offer in a response that I think is qualified, that I’ve stress tested in any way? And if not, I just do not answer. Right? So I try not to speculate. I think there’s too much speculation and in general, folks online speak with way too much confidence.
So I just want to say there are many questions I’m not answering in the live feed. There are many questions I’m not answering that were lobbed in. Some of them because they’re asking for really particular legal or medical advice which is just not something I can do comfortably but in many cases, including those, I am just not qualified. I would be misrepresenting myself as an expert and in so doing, on some level, being dishonest and lying to all of you and I don’t want to do that.
Now this one, we’ll see if I have anything. So here goes. All right. “I’m extremely driven to build my version of a deep life, filling it with things that are meaningful and substantive, cutting out the frivolous and harmful and hedonic pieces and avoiding the seemingly infinite temptations of American life that lead to a shallow and frustrating existence. My fiance has seemingly little interest in the arduousness of this lifestyle preferring ease and comfort as most do. I do not fault her at all for this preference and I love her above all else and fully plan on spending my entire life with her.
“But every time that I try to convince her to tackle the task of self-improvement with me, it only leads to arguments and hurt feelings. Since she is essentially half of my identity, how do you think I should handle this? Should I let it go and try to live half my life in each camp? I find that hard to swallow since I’m fairly positive that the comfortable American life basically smooths out the contours of your soul, nice wording, and I have an immensely difficult time watching what happens to her.
I know. I have an immensely difficult time watching that happen to her. No. I don’t think that’s an option. So I guess my final question is how do I convince her to go on this journey with me? How do I convince her to forgo comfort and decadence especially when I’m having a hard enough time doing that myself?”
All right. That’s a long question, but I would like to try to respond to it because I and I think many people have contended with this on some level. It could be a significant other, it could be a very close friend, it could be the five people you associate with most and certainly Drew of Dropbox and I, and others have said, you are the average of the five people you associate with most. So if you don’t want to get rid of your friends, what do you do? If this is an issue in your most intimate relationship with a significant other, what do you do?
And I can only speak to a few things that I have tried because hitting it head on with some criticism along the lines of why aren’t you interested in self-development is not going to be a crowd pleaser and is not going to get the response that you want. So I’m going to answer this in two stages. The first is related to an assumption that’s embedded in the first section of this question. And that was should I let it go and try to live half my life in each camp? I find that hard to swallow. No, I don’t think that’s an option.
And there’s a false dichotomy being created here. So the options that are being presented, at least in the question are live half my life in each camp, so half my life away from my partner effectively or fully integrate both of us so we are on the same program. I’m exaggerating a little bit, but that is a false dichotomy. There are other options and there’s a gradient I think between those two. So first what I’ve learned is some things you are just meant to do on your own, and you don’t have to do everything with your significant other. However, if you are going to say, take a week to do a workshop or a week for a soul expedition or whatever it might be, it could just be a week to go to Burning Man. I mean, I’m not saying that’s self-development, but you will benefit from a relationship that can sustain that.
So two people who are fully capable of being, say, self-entertained, or self-directed at least for stints at a time, I think that’s important. I do that with my significant other or just as easily I could say she does that with me. There are times when we do our own thing. That is component one. And then to the direct last question, how do I convince her to go on this journey with me?
To me, convincing implies speaking and persuading in conversation and I don’t know that is going to be the most effective path. What I have seen personally, and what I’ve also seen in other couples is the path of least resistance is often identifying what they already love, the things they already enjoy, the activities they feel drawn to and trying to bend the arc of one of those one percent to include what you consider to be self-development.
So let’s just say hypothetically, that your fiance — I’m making this up, that she loves going to yoga. Well, you could suggest, you could find a fantastic teacher training course and if you know you have one to two weeks of vacation coming up, let’s just say it’s in a nice location. Fill in the blank, could be in Sedona, could be in Bali, who knows, depending on your budget. And you could offer that as an early Christmas present, early birthday present, or just as a gift and say that you would like to cover that and you thought it could be super fun. And you’ve been wanting to spend more time with her in her yoga practice so that you can do it together. And that would be a non-trivial step in the direction of self-development, I think.
That would be a programmatic way to improve yoga capabilities and familiarity with terminology and also network, et cetera. So I think we want to meet people where they are. I don’t always do a great job of this. I can be very stubborn and headstrong and aggressive, so I don’t always implement this in the most delicate or diplomatic way. But I have had success also with this, is just trying to first, before you decide what you’re going to convince someone of, or where you want them to go, to meet them where they are. Do a mental audit of the things they love, the things that are easy for them to do, and then try to find a slight variation on one of those themes that allows them to step foot in a way that feels good to them, not just to you, towards a path of self-development.
I would also say that self-awareness is a very powerful precursor to self-development. So if there are things that you can do together, not just giving her homework assignments that increase self-awareness, that could be somatic self-awareness. It could be getting better at applying things like the 80/20 principle to career. So it might be a workshop along those lines. Anything that helps to facilitate the habit of turning the eye inward and asking questions, I think will also not just lead to self-development, but be self-development in and of itself. So those are a few of my thoughts on that, which is not an easy situation, it’s not always an easy situation, but I do think there are many options in between the two polar extremes that you indicated and I do not think those two are mutually exclusive. I think you can incorporate both.
All right. Let me take a look at some live questions here, folks. Claudia, “Do you have any self-discipline advice for ADHD folks who have already tried everything? I’m a German teacher by the way.” Well, es freut mich to meet you. And I would say — and you can find quite a bit written on this, you could see examples from BJ Fogg who maybe still is, but certainly was teaching at Stanford for a long time and looking at behavioral modification. You could look at Atomic Habits, you could also look at The 4-Hour Chef, which talks about this at some length and The 4-Hour Body, and that is using accountability and incentives. So if you want to make a change, having accountability in place in the form of both people and rewards and or punishments. Punishments work really well, say financial punishment, where if you don’t do A, B, and C, then you will in advance, provide a hundred euros to a close friend who will donate it to your least favorite nonprofit, the one you would not want to be associated with in your name, for instance.
These types of mechanisms and setting these types of conditions can be very, very effective. So certainly even though I appreciate the question, I don’t believe that any of us have already tried everything. And I would suggest looking at not methods of convincing yourself, but the setting of incentives such that it is compelling, sufficiently compelling for you to change the behaviors that you want to change. And both The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef get into this in quite a bit of detail, but there are other examples, BJ Fogg, and then James Clear with Atomic Habits. And also Charles Duhigg is another one who has written a lot on habit. D-U-H-I-G-G and I find a lot of what he has presented to be extremely interesting.
Thimer, “How do you plan such that emotionally tough moments aren’t destabilizing?” And then the examples of breakups, death of family members, et cetera. And my answer to this is there are certainly tools and philosophies and frameworks like stoicism that can help you weather some of these storms. But in some ways I find the most freeing way to think about this, to not set the expectation and the pressure that you can prevent these things from being destabilizing, expect them to be destabilizing and accept that you are human and that billions of people feel somewhat temporarily destabilized by these things and that it’s okay.
There is a book that I found very helpful, and I do think the written version is different from the audio book for some reason and you can skip around. It found me at the right time by Bruce Tift, T-I-F-T called Already Free, which really covers a lot of this. Oliver Burkeman in his book also talks about this quite a bit that you feel and produce, manufacture stress for instance, when you ask yourself, how can I best handle all of my inbound, which might be hundreds or thousands of different messages, whereas on some level, if you accept that is impossible, you can finally begin to make at least psychological or psychoemotional headway. So I would just say that expecting it to be tough and possibly destabilizing could be the first salve that you apply. And in fact, even if you read The Moral Letters to Lucilius or other examples of writing from famous stoics, the most famous Seneca the Younger et cetera, shit was hard, bad things happened.
And it’s, I think, valuable to strive towards certain ideals and to follow certain principles and philosophies, but I think accepting your human experience and validating it by not setting the expectation that you’ll be able to avoid these emotions may be freeing in some capacity.
I see a lot of questions about things I’ve changed my mind about in the last 12 months.
I’m having trouble coming up with something immediate, but I will say that certainly watching the markets for the last few months has just reinforced as some of the most famous and venerated names of the last few years have been obliterated in terms of hedge fund managers and other types of investors just wiped off the face of the planet financially, even though gathering their two percent management fee every year, they’re perfectly fine. So no one has to cry any tears for the hedge fund managers. They’ll be okay. But having seen the complete like supernova of capital destruction, it’s just become all the more clear to me that basically no one knows what they’re doing. Or put a different way, that may be too strong, that everyone is making it up as they go along. And we shouldn’t convince, as I heard Stanley Druckenmiller say once, “We should not convince a bull market with being a genius.”
Those were two very, very, very different things. And on one hand that’s depressing or unfortunate because it’d be nice to think if I just find the right expert, I’ll be able to figure out my finances, invest, and always make money in this, that, and the other thing. But when you talk to someone like Morgan Housel and you realize whatever your favorite asset class is, at some point, it’s going to go down by 70 percent. That could be next year, it could be next week, it could be five years from now, but eventually you’re going to get punched in the face extremely hard by these macro trends.
So what I was saying is on one hand, it’d be nice to think that if you just found the right expert, everything would be solved, but it’s also freeing when you realize even the people who are supposedly the best at this, a lot of them happen to just be riding as they might say, secular tailwinds and sort of floating atop of bubble before it all burst and they were just trying to rake in as much cash as possible before that happened. And I find that kind of reassuring if that makes any sense.
It’s kind of like watching reality TV. And you’re like, “Wow, I complain about my life a lot.” But as Chris Bosh said on this podcast, “If you got a whole table of people together and they all put their problems on the table, you might pick up your problems right back and keep them for yourself.” That when you watch reality TV and you’re like, “Wow, these people are a mess,” and you feel better about your own situation, it should be humbling collectively and certainly individually, but just to realize that even the best in the world or people who are considered that are getting their faces ripped off. There are some examples of exceptions but I find that to be very top of mind for me at the moment.
So I’ve perhaps changed my mind on how I view very specific investors, somewhat. Although again, these investors, generally, if they’re really smart, figure out ways to win, even if they lose. So one could say they haven’t really lost the game per se. They just chose the right game to begin with. For more on that I recommend reading More Money Than God by Sebastian Mallaby, I believe it is. Yep. Sebastian Mallaby, who also has a very good book on venture capital more recently, I believe it’s called The Power Law.
So that’s something that comes to mind. And every day, every week, I am certainly finding more examples of strongly held emotional positions or anger based biases that I have that are more reflective of my upbringing and environment than any objective truth in the situations that seem to catalyze them. Certainly that’s something I’m also paying a lot of attention to. So those are just a few thoughts in response to that question.
All right, guys, got a few more minutes. I’m going to see what else we have.
There’s a question, Nerd Dane, do I still do slow-carb? Yes, I do still do slow-carb and I am currently following slow-carb. That is the slow-carb diet for those who are not familiar. If you search, “How to lose a hundred pounds on the slow-carb diet,” you will see a number of case studies that are, I think, very impressive and lay out the basics of the diet. It is not complicated.
All right, let me see what else we have. All right, this is a question from Matt, “How do I ask for money? As a Green Beret I got good at military process for funding, training, equipment, and special projects. Now I’m building a solar panel factory in South Texas and the civilian world of funding is a new animal for me. As an investor, what inspires you to ultimately invest and work with a particular startup?” Let me respond to this with a few thoughts and I’m going to keep it simple. So the first is there’s an out of print book, not all of it is great advice, but it will be I think, helpful food for thought. And that is Guerrilla Financing. There’s a book called Guerrilla Financing, which covers alternative modes of financing. And I recommend this because most of the startups and small businesses that get a lot of media attention are venture backed startups.
They are taking money from venture capitalists and angel investors like me and hoping for a 10x or a 100x return on that money to investors and certainly to themselves and their employees. That model does not work for most things. So for instance, in this example of a solar panel factory, that may be a very unappealing and irrational place to focus in that particular startup venture capital market. And there are other options. You have things like invoice factoring. You have certainly let’s just consider it traditional debt. You have different ways to secure that debt. And I think that it is probably a good idea to broaden the horizon of awareness related to alternative funding mechanisms and approaches. So Guerrilla Financing would be one.
You can also find early investment decks. These are pitches, so it could be 10 slides. It could be 20, it could be five, for startups and companies that have done really well. So you could look at any number of examples. The earliest examples of decks are available for a lot of the unicorns and decacorns and now successful publicly traded tech companies. And you can find those online. If you just search such and such company early deck, early investment pitch, you will be able to find a lot of those. And those are probably the two first recommendations I would make.
If you really want to learn about venture capital, there are some good books out there. Brad Feld is a very good investor who has an entire book about different ways to structure and evaluate and contract venture capital investments. But I would say before you go barking up that tree and do a really deep dive on venture capital, I would get a broader understanding of the many different vehicles and approaches you can take for financing and look at small businesses, not just venture backed startups and best of luck. Good luck.
Next question. “Why did you stop asking your guests who they think is successful and why? This was always my favorite question on the podcast. Hearing successful people define success has helped rewire my own thinking around success just as reading 4-Hour Workweek changed my entire perspective around time. As an aside, thank you for all you do. Your work has improved my life immeasurably.” Well, thank you for the question, Brian, and the kind words. I stopped asking the question “Who do you think of when I say the word ‘successful’ and why?” for a few reasons. What I found is first, if I didn’t disqualify certain types of answers, I tend to get the same answers over and over and over and over again. So I would get Richard Branson, I would get Elon Musk, I would get Bill Gates. The names you might expect from the tech titan pantheon of sorts.
That’s the first issue. The second is on a large podcast some people feel as though if they don’t name their parents, they aren’t fulfilling their filial piety. So they will say “My mom” or “My dad,” or “My mom and dad.” And it is not generally a real answer. Sometimes it is. But generally that is a political answer, not an honest answer. And I tend to agree with Derek Sivers because I asked Derek Sivers — I highly recommend all of my conversations with Derek, he is fantastic.
He’s actually very similar in constitution in some ways to Kevin Kelly, I asked Derek Sivers this question. He said, “Well, I can’t really answer that question without knowing the motivations and goals of the person I might name.” So he said, “I might be tempted to say Richard Branson, but if Richard Branson has set out to live a life of peace and quiet and tranquility and to slow down, then his life is potentially a total failure if he’s feeling compelled to constantly create new companies and so on.” So it’s very hard at surface level to judge who is successful without understanding their motivations and priorities and so on.
Now, had Richard Branson on the podcast also, I think that he is certainly following his priorities and his inner compass to the best of my ability to tell, but the point still remains, it’s difficult to discern. And so what Derek said was, “Really, you should ask when I say the word successful, who is the third person that you think of?” Because first it’ll be “Elon Musk” or “Jeff Bezos” or whatever, second it’ll be “My parents,” and then the third answer will be when you finally get to some degree of truth that is non-consensus and non-political. So given all of that and the maybe impracticality of asking someone, “So when you hear the word ‘successful,’ who’s the third person who comes to mind?” Explaining the question would take just as much time as them answering it. I dropped that from my usual rotation, but I’ll consider adding it back in, but it was given some thought. It was not accidental that got removed from the rotation.
Let me take a look at just a few last questions and then I’m going to hop off, guys.
Am I planning to do my drunk dial shows again, from Ernestus. No time soon, those were fun, but I’ve cut back substantially on alcohol consumption. Not because I think it’s a bad thing. I still drink alcohol. I had a glass of wine last night, but I have found that as I get older, the penalty I pay for getting properly drunk, let’s just — I’m not blackout drunk, but let’s just say three or four drinks, is very high. It ends up affecting not just the next day, but probably two days subsequent. So I’m just increasingly unwilling to pay that tax.
Raida, “Any tips for someone who wants to start a podcast if you’re an introvert?” I consider myself an introvert. I am recharged by myself or in very small groups, say dinner with one to three people and I’m depleted by large groups. So if you are asking — if you are saying, I am an introvert, but people tell me I should start a podcast, what should I do? My answer is don’t start a podcast. If you are asking, I am an introvert as I just defined it. And you could also define that as being highly sensitive to stimuli.
So I don’t like being in loud restaurants. I don’t like being in places where there’s a high volume on any sense, could be bright lights. I don’t enjoy that at all, I find it depleting. Ask yourself as an introvert, am I nourished or depleted by one-on-one conversations? If the answer is depleted, don’t do a podcast. If the answer is nourished, then you can very easily do a podcast, which is why I prefer having generally, say in the podcast with the long form interviews, one-on-one conversations that I can then broadcast to millions of people. That is my ideal. I also enjoy doing these Q&As, but it’s basically me looking at scrolling text and my own bald head on a webcam.
So it’s kind of like giving myself some Stuart Smalley affirmations in the mirror in the morning has some effect along those lines. All right. Let me try to find a few more guys. All right. Okay.
Anon, one person I would interview any day or every day. There are quite a few, actually. I think Kevin Kelly would be on that list. Noah Feldman, who’s been on this podcast would be on that list. Kevin Rose, probably another who would be on that list. And I’m sure I could come up with more.
Question, if I had to recommend just one of my books to a random person I met on the street, it’d be a funny exchange for sure. “Excuse me, hi, my name’s Tim Ferriss. I’d like to recommend one of my books. Have a good day, sir!” But which one would it be and why? It would be Tools of Titans, I think that is just the largest funnel in the sense that it will appeal to the highest percentage of people I could give it to. There is something in that book for everyone, I think. So it would be Tools of Titans.
All right. Request for Larry David on the podcast, absolutely would love to have Larry David on. I was hoping to have Bob Einstein on. I was very sad that he passed before I had the chance.
Tracy, am I still using Evernote every day? Yes, I use Evernote almost every day. And I find the UI fine and it’s easy enough to use. I’m a creature of habit. So I have used it forever. At some point I might make a transition. I think Roam Research is very interesting and there are a handful of others, but at this point, yes, I still use Evernote.
Here’s a question, I’ll end on this one. So this is from Cafeina, that’s funny. What is on my billboard? So I’m actually going to steal an answer from a podcast guest whose name I invoked earlier in this conversation, Dr. BJ Miller, the hospice care physician who has helped thousands of people to die. And he in turn got this from some bumper sticker. I asked him where he found it and I thought it was hilarious. I was expecting this really profound, nuanced story. And he said, “No, I think I saw it on a bumper sticker.” And the answer is very present for me right now. And that is: “Don’t believe everything that you think.”
So this is a variation on don’t believe everything you read, but I really think scrutinizing our thoughts and beliefs, which are the thoughts we take to be true is increasingly — it always has been important, but it is increasingly important in a world that is designed mostly enabled by tech platforms and social media to polarize the shit out of you and to reward you for making your viewpoints more and more extreme and simplified. Don’t believe everything that you think. And I would recommend for people who want to explore how you might do that in a structured way, you can look at The Work by Byron Katie, and there are worksheets you can download for free that allow you to scrutinize some of your beliefs and thoughts. And I, and many of my podcast guests have found those worksheets to be incredibly helpful.
And on that, I am going to see what I can do about exercise and some dinner.
And I very much appreciate everybody being here, thank you for tuning in. Hopefully this was helpful in some capacity, I’m running a little low today on battery charge. So I hope it was coherent. At least portions of it were coherent. Thank you for all of the questions, both the submitted questions that were sent ahead of time, as well as the live questions. And I really deeply appreciate all of you. It is a small miracle that I’m able to do this type of thing for a living as my J-O-B. And I am incredibly thankful, incredibly grateful every day that I get to have the conversations I get to have and to hopefully share whatever things I have learned in any small way after the many, many experiments that I subject me and my life to. So it is really an honor to interact with all of you and have a wonderful evening wherever you may be.
If you’re listening to this in the morning, good morning, have a wonderful morning or afternoon, have a wonderful day as it may be. And everything that has been discussed will be put into the show notes later. If this is broadcast on the podcast, at tim.blog/podcast. And until next time, just be a little bit kinder than you think is necessary when you walk out that door. If everyone is an asshole, just remember you are probably the asshole. So it’d be a good time to remember that billboard, don’t believe everything that you think, scrutinize those thoughts. They can be pretty squirrely. And thank you all for tuning in.
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