The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Random Show — Fasting, Biohacking, and Tony Robbins

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Please enjoy this transcript of another episode of The Random Show with serial entrepreneur, world-class investor, eagle scout, and all around wild and crazy guy Kevin Rose (@KevinRose). We discuss Kevin’s new diet obsession that may have just saved his life for many decades to come, fatherhood, minimalism, lifetime learning, ways to dial back alcohol consumption, lessons learned from Tony Robbins, most recommended books, and much more. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. With some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy!

Listen to the episode here or by selecting any of the options below.

#333: Random Show — Fasting, Biohacking, and Tony Robbins

Tim Ferriss: Hello, boys and girls, mogwai and gremlins. This is Tim Ferriss. Welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show. If you’re looking for perhaps some type of high-brow intellectual long-form conversation, you might want to go to for one of my other long-form interviews.

Kevin Rose: Don’t sell us short, dude. Come on.

Tim Ferriss: Hold on, Kevin. I haven’t introduced you yet. But for those of you who enjoy the random, helter-skelter (is that a right word?) –

Kevin Rose: Yeah, I think it is.

Tim Ferriss: – nature – well, I’m going to run with it, of the random show, which we haven’t had an episode of for a very, very long time. It is a conversation between yours truly and my good friend, Kevin Rose.

Kevin Rose: Guest No. 1 on The Tim Ferriss Show.

Tim Ferriss: That’s true. You were Guest No. 1. The very first episode of The Tim Ferriss Show.

Kevin Rose: Actually, that’s in my LinkedIn bio now. It’s my claim to fame.

Tim Ferriss: It’s in your Google+ bio.

Kevin Rose: That’s right.

Tim Ferriss: We have not done a random show for a long time. But I’ll let you do, if you want to do an introduction, of the random show.

Kevin Rose: I don’t think we even need to anymore.

Tim Ferriss: I don’t think we need to.

Kevin Rose: We don’t even know what episode we’re on. Like, for those of you who have heard the random show before, I think we’ve done probably, if I had to guess, I’d say maybe 25 episodes?

Tim Ferriss: Something like that – 25 to 50 episodes.

Kevin Rose: So we’re Episode 27, let’s call it.

Tim Ferriss: Episode 27. Kevin, for people who don’t know you, what’s your story? What would you like people to know about you?

Kevin Rose: That’s a good question.

Tim Ferriss: What’s the speaker bio version of Kevin Rose?

Kevin Rose: I don’t even know these days. No, seriously, I would say that I’ve been a long-time internet entrepreneur. I probably am best known for creating the social news website Digg back in 2004. That grew to become a pretty big entity for a number of years. Then I was at Google as an investor and now I’m at True Ventures as an investor. Tim, you and I have probably co-invested on maybe a dozen or so angel deals?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, at least.

Kevin Rose: Facebook together. I think Twitter together.

Tim Ferriss: Twitter together, Blue Bottle Coffee together.

Kevin Rose: Yeah, a bunch of them.

Tim Ferriss: Side note: do you remember how ridiculed we all were when the consortium of techies and non-techies invested in Blue Bottle Coffee? Do you remember how much shit we got on the internet for that?

Kevin Rose: Yeah, absolutely. They’re like, “Why would Blue Bottle need to raise money?” But it’s done okay. It had a great exit here just about a month ago.

Tim Ferriss: It has done all right. It was, what, a majority stake acquisition by Nestlé for $700 million or so. So, it worked out.

Kevin Rose: Yeah, it worked out.

Tim Ferriss: So, you’ve done very well as an investor. You are obsessed with many things Japanese. You have a new obsession, it seems, every few weeks. Do you have anything new to add? Actually, I want to hear about the fast mimicking diet. Because this is something – I would have put money on you never sticking with the fast mimicking diet and maybe you can explain for people what that means. But you’ve actually now done a number of scheduled 5-day?

Kevin Rose: That’s right. 5-day FMD. I’ll start by saying that probably the reason why, Tim, you and I are friends – I met you when you were launching your first book on your boat party that you did. You rented out a warship in the San Francisco Bay.

Tim Ferriss: The S.S. Jeremiah, where they recorded a lot of the boiler room audio for the James Cameron movie, Titanic, in fact.

Kevin Rose: Oh, crazy. That’s awesome. But we hit it off because we both love all kinds of this idea of lifelong learning I think has been a theme that you and I both enjoy. I’ve certainly got really into biohacking in the last couple years. I’ve watched you from afar poke and prod yourself and squirt all different kinds of juices out of your elbow.

Tim Ferriss: This requires a little bit of explanation. This is so gross. But now I have to explain it. I had a botched PRP injection, which is platelet-rich plasma injection, in my right elbow. People can look up PRP. It actually has some fantastic applications. But there was a botched injection, which pushed effectively subcutaneous bacteria into the elbow capsule itself and it turned into this horrible infection that required debridement and surgery and so on. But Kevin, being the good friend that he is, came to visit me in the ER when I was having – I’m not sure you would call is synovial fluid – the infection fluid –

Kevin Rose: It was the pus drained out of your elbow, basically.

Tim Ferriss: The pus drained out of my elbow with this gigantic syringe. Being the mature adult that I am, I thought it would be funny to take this turkey baster-worth of elbow fluid out of the sharps container and squirt it at Kevin, who was in the room. I’m not proud of it, but I don’t regret it, either. So, yes, you’ve seen me do a lot and make a lot of short-term decisions that haven’t turned out very well in the world of biohacking.

Kevin Rose: It’s always entertaining though. Got to say. Had a lot of fun doing stupid shit together. But speaking of, well, probably not that dumb these days, but fasting. So, I got into fasting here probably about three years ago, two and a half to three years ago. I started fasting app Zero, which is a free fasting tracker. That has really kind of blown up and taken off. But then I started hearing about the research from Dr. Valter Longo. It actually was from a friend of mine, you know Mike Mazur, a mutual friend of ours.

Tim Ferriss: Yup.

Kevin Rose: Mike was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. He went into chemotherapy treatment and he was one of the guys that said, I’m not going to just take what they give me, but I’m going to go out and do my own research and see what else I can be doing to help fight this and beat this down. One of the things that came up was this idea of doing these 5-day FMDs. FMD stays for fasting mimicking diet. The idea is that compliance of doing a standard 5-day fast is relatively low. It’s am extremely difficult thing to do. Tim, have you ever done a 5-day water-only fast? Have you tried?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I’ve done 5, 7, and 10-day.

Kevin Rose: I’ve done a 5-day water-only, and I will tell you, it is absolutely brutal. I don’t know what your experience was, but I had a really difficult time sleeping.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, there’s a, I believe it’s a cholinergic effect that leads you have rapid heartbeat quite often, when you’re trying to sleep. It’s not pleasant. So, you’ll be exhausted and you’ll lay down in bed and you’ll feel like you just ran a 100-meter sprint in terms of heartbeat. It’s very unpleasant.

Kevin Rose: It’s kind of scary. I’m also one of those people that get those early heartbeats, where you feel like your heart skips a beat. They’re completely benign. I’ve had it looked at it and everything’s fine, but I get those every once in a while and those come more frequently when I’m in a fasted state. So, long story short, Mike does this 5-day fast. He beats back cancer. He’s in full remission, which is awesome. But the idea with the 5-day fast –

Tim Ferriss: Can I interrupt you one more time? I think this, I don’t think Mike would mind this, but I remember you and I when we were talking about this – did he do 5 or 3? I can’t recall.

Kevin Rose: I’m sorry, you’re right. He did 3.

Tim Ferriss: He did 3. Just for those who are curious, I’ve had conversations with Dominic D’Agostino before on this podcast. He’s a very well-published researcher. I was first introduced to the possibility that fasting prior to chemotherapy, I believe, and reduction, it could be either, has the potential to increase the resilience of normal cells while increasing the susceptibility or weakness of cancer cells to facilitate this type of treatment, but also to decrease the side effect that are commonly experienced. So, Mike, t my understanding, would do a 3-day fast before a session and while the other people in his cohort were laid out on the couch or in bed the next day, he’d be running a 10-mile training run.

Kevin Rose: Right, which is just insane.

Tim Ferriss: Which is nuts.

Kevin Rose: Yeah, and so he originally when he got turned on to this research by Dr. Longo, he showed me this YouTube video where they were giving rats chemotherapy. The rats that were fasted were just running around the cage. They looked like normal, healthy rats. The ones that didn’t fast were just, like you said, on their side, all beat up and in a horrible state. That’s exactly what Mike experienced. The idea is that making the chemotherapy more effective is that you’re depriving the cancer cells of some nutrients, certainly sugar, less glucose, and it makes them more susceptible to the chemotherapy treatments, so the chemotherapy is that much more effective.

Obviously, we can’t say for certain whether that’s what put him into remission, but he’s really happy that it did work. He is in remission and the evidence looks pretty compelling in humans. They’re also extending this whole protocol to healthy individuals as a way to potentially prevent cancer from even forming in the first place. I was turned onto Dr. Valter Longo’s new book, The Longevity Diet. I had him on my podcast. Have you see this book yet?

Tim Ferriss: I have seen that. I haven’t read it, but I have seen it.

Kevin Rose: It’s pretty awesome. There’s a whole chapter on his FMD protocol and what you need to do these 5-day fasts, getting into what it actually is. How it differs from a water-only fast is that you do have calories. So, you have around 700 calories or so per day. Some people say that sounds like a lot. Some people say it sounds like a little. It’s actually not much food. It’s like a handful of small soup and some crackers. The first day, it’s so not bad. You’re like, oh, I can do this. Like, some crackers and a little bit of soup. Then day two and day three, and you’re like, oh, my God, I’m dying, right? But it’s not nearly as bad as water-only. But the idea is that you eat just enough good to still get into this fasted state.

So, all of your inflammation markers, all of the different markers that they’re looking at in your blood, they look just like you’re doing a water-only fast, but with a minimal amount of food. So, you have a little bit of, not as much hunger, and a little bit more energy. And so the compliance is much higher.

Tim Ferriss: Were you tracking – when you do these FMDs, have you tracked your ketone levels at all? Do you get into ketosis or does the small amount of carbohydrate and so on that you’re consuming keep you out of ketosis?

Kevin Rose: I get a mild, I would say I get around .5 or so millimolars, so it’s a very mild –

Tim Ferriss: That’s right on the edge.

Kevin Rose: Right, which is kind of brutal because you’re kind of in the keto flu-symptom area. So, you’re not fully into ketosis. This is really interesting because Peter Attia, who you’ve had on the show a few times, he’s my doctor and I know you work with him as well. We played around with this protocol in that Attia has put together an FMD diet that is a lot more ketogenic friendly. So, a lot heavier on the fats and a lot less on the refined carbohydrates. So, for example, when you’re doing Longo’s version of this diet, and he actually has a nonprofit called ProLon, so you’d actually just order this kit. So, I get a kit in the mail that has all the pre-packaged food. If you’re watching the video version of this, this is what it looks like here. I just happen to have one. This is Day 5.

Tim Ferriss: What does the nonprofit do with the money they get? Because it looks very –

Kevin Rose: It goes back into research.

Tim Ferriss: It goes back into research.

Kevin Rose: That’s right. Longo doesn’t receive any of the money at all. He doesn’t take a salary. This is meant for people that want to create a little autophagy, a little cell death, generate new stem cells, which he has proven actually happens via this 5-day method. The thing that hooked me though is I have had an elevated cholesterol on my whole father’s side of the family. That’s turned into heart disease with my Dad and him passing away from a heart attack. My Grandpa passed away from a heart attack. My Grandma on my Dad’s side passed away from a heart attack. So, it’s running deep. It’s a little bit scary.

Now that I’m 40, I’ve got these pretty bad numbers. So much so that Attia has put me on Crestor, which is knocking back the bad cholesterol with the statin, but obviously I’d prefer not to be on a statin. Anyway, long story short, because of his book, The Longevity Diet, I was reading through it and he said that he was seeing people that did the 5-day fast, they were improving their cholesterol numbers and they were getting more good cholesterol and less bad cholesterol. I was like, oh, that sounds interesting, I might as well give this a shot. But to give it a proper shot, you’re supposed to do – and I talked to Longo about this – but three back-to-back 5-day fasts over three months, and then once a quarter.

Tim Ferriss: So, there’s like a loading phase of fasting, where you do whatever, the first week of each month for three months and then –

Kevin Rose: It’s the creatine of fasting.

Tim Ferriss: Right, and then you do maintenance once a quarter thereafter.

Kevin Rose: That’s right.

Tim Ferriss: Okay.

Kevin Rose: Yeah, so I did the first 5-day fast three months ago. I had my bloodwork drawn pre and post. Small minor improvements. Second fast, same thing. Then by the third, we actually saw a dramatic drop on a few different fronts cholesterol-wise. Attia, when he called me up, because we do these little calls to go over my bloodwork, he was like, “Kevin, you’re going to live to 90 if you can keep this up. This is amazing.” He was shocked. He was blown away. We’re pretty happy with the results. We’ll see how long they stick. This is no dietary changes. Granted, there’s a dietary change during those five days, but no long-term. I’m still kind of sticking to the same diet that I’ve always been sticking to.

Tim Ferriss: I like that he was so specific with 90. That’s lower than I would’ve expected, so it must be all the meth that you’re doing that’s going to kill you.

Kevin Rose: Yeah, I still do a dose of meth every now and then. Actually, speaking of meth, dude, I just did some L-theanine for the first time today. Have you tried this with coffee?

Tim Ferriss: It is very interesting stuff, to be sure.

Kevin Rose: Oh, my God, dude. I’d never tried it before. I took a pill, 200 milligrams this morning, and I was out with a mutual friend, Tony Conrad. We met for coffee and I gave him a pill too. We were like cracked out for like three hours, man.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, so this observing of the biohacking is a mutual arrangement that Kevin and I have. It’s not just him watching squirting fluid out of my elbow. I also observe things that you do. On the FMD though, just to return to that for a second, you mentioned in passing that Attia had looked at the possibility of doing a lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat version.

Kevin Rose: He actually has a protocol for that, yeah. I’m sure he’d give you the pdf if you ask for it for the podcast notes.

Tim Ferriss: Have you tried it?

Kevin Rose: I did. I did that for the second one. I liked it, actually I just happened to buy a 3-pack of the ProLon kit, so I wanted to go through them and use because they’re not cheap and so I just used that for the last one. But I like Attia’s in that it’s a little bit more work, obviously, because you’re preparing your own food, but his is different in that with ProLon you get these little, tiny snacks throughout the entire day. With his, it’s one meal a day and it’s just a salad. It’s greens and three tablespoons or four tablespoons of olive oil and like six olives and some sunflower seeds. It’s not a whole lot, but it certainly gives you – but it’s not as refined. So, I saw my ketone levels go up on his. I certainly had more energy on his versus the ProLon.

Tim Ferriss: Got it. I’ll ping Peter about that. It makes sense on multiple levels that you would have higher ketone levels. For people who are wondering how one would measure ketone levels, I think you and I still use the same device, which is the Precision Xtra by Abbott Labs, which does a sufficient job in measuring something called BHB, beta hydroxybutyrate in the blood.

For a number of different reasons, this is a much more precise and accurate, let’s just call is precise, but consistently precise — maybe it’s accurate, maybe it isn’t – method of measuring ketones or the degree to which you’re in ketosis than pee sticks. Because as your body becomes, or if you’re already very efficient at using ketone bodies, you could show a false negative. Where you pee on the stick and it tells you you’re not in ketosis, when in fact you are. So, the blood is just more accurate. I’m glad you’re going to live 90. That makes me happy.

Kevin Rose: Yeah, it was a pretty cool experiment and certainly for someone who has heart disease running in their family, I’m going to keep it up. I’m going to do another blood draw here next week to see where my levels are at and then I’m trying to do this quarterly. Hopefully, if we can get it down to where I won’t be using statins any longer, that’d be great.

Tim Ferriss: The last time we did a random show, it was a very, very long time ago, I believe. I was at least before you had a little monkey in your house. A reason, many reasons, of course, to stick around, but now a very compelling new reason. So, how would you describe – since certainly I have no kids that I’m aware of at this point –

Kevin Rose: That’s a good disclaimer there.

Tim Ferriss: I don’t have kids – *that I know of. What have been the biggest changes that you’ve felt or observed in yourself or otherwise? How you view the world? Anything like that now that you have a kid? And what is your kid’s name?

Kevin Rose: Zelda. She’s four months old. She’s named after the video game because one of the first things that my wife and I bonded on very early in our relationship was our love for the game Zelda. Actually, the new Zelda game allows you to track your hours played. It actually shows it in the little settings menu. Darya has over 200 hours played of the latest Zelda. She’s hardcore. She played a lot during her pregnancy.

Tim Ferriss: She’s a true believer. And when we were in Japan a long time ago, Darya was using some time of emulator, I don’t know what device it was on exactly, but she was playing Zelda on all the trains when we were sitting down and chilling. That’s one thing I remember.

Kevin Rose: The original. Yeah, Josh Cook was too.

Tim Ferriss: That’s right.

Kevin Rose: It’s fun to play the original ones with those old-school emulators. But yeah, in terms of her, it’s hard for, I think, a guy in that when you have your first child, there’s not a whole lot to do. There’s just a lot of crying. I tried to help out where I can but rly she was on her mom’s hip for the first several weeks and there’s a lot of getting used to new things. Now, it’s just amazing, dude. You walk into a room and she lights up when she sees me for the first time. She smiles and giggles. It kind of changes the way that I want to approach life in terms of what things are important and trying to make more time to be a good father.

For someone like myself that has so many varying interests and certainly can get sucked into new things pretty easily, I’ve been trying to be a little bit more thoughtful about where and when I spend my energy so that I can kind of dial back. I’ve spent a good portion of this year trying to live a little bit more of a minimalist lifestyle.

Tim Ferriss: What are some of the steps that you’ve taken to do that? I feel like you and I have had this conversation every year since we first met. But now, you actually have a gigantic incentive to follow through.

Kevin Rose: Well, it’s funny. Every time Tim and I get together, it’s like oh, man. I’ve got too many investments. I’m doing this. There’s too many things going on. I’ve got to spend my time here. We’re always more or less complaining to each other of us taking on too many things. It’s so ridiculous. So, I’ve just been trying to implement a few rules. One of the things I did starting January 1st was to throw away or donate something every single day. So, I have forced myself to go in and – for example, I went in and I just picked out all the clothes that I haven’t touched in a year and I took them down the street, like half a block away is a donation place, and I donated anything that I hadn’t worn in a year. It really thins out your closet.

Tim Ferriss: Was that easy for you to do?

Kevin Rose: Yes, absolutely.

Tim Ferriss: It was? There was no resistance? You weren’t like, “But that’s the sweater that my Auntie Janie gave me.”

Kevin Rose: Who’s the lady you had on your podcast that wrote that book?

Tim Ferriss: Marie Kondo. Technically, Marie Kondo is how they would say it in Japanese, but Marie Kondo.

Kevin Rose: Marie Kondo. Yeah, she’s awesome. I listed to her audiobook and one of the things that she says in her audiobook is that “The way that you can depart with something is to realize that it has already taught you its lesson. That lesson may be that it wasn’t for you.” If you have it hanging in your closet and you look at it and you’re like, “Oh, but someday I might….” No, the lesson is that it spent its time with you, it wasn’t for you, and it should go to  good home where it can be appreciated by someone else. My lesson is not to buy it again. I took that and I’ve applied that to thinning out pretty much everything in my life.

I think a lot of people, there’s this analysis paralysis thing where you think about cleaning out the garage or you’re thinking about doing this massive overhaul in your life and you’re like, it’s the weekend, I’ve got to do this. There’s always something that jumps in front of it in terms of priorities. For me, I find that if I just say, okay, one thing a day. At the end of year, I may not be to my goal, but after five years, I certainly will. It’s not like I have that much stuff. But really saying, do I need this in my life? Is it bringing joy to my life? It’s such a good forcing function to get rid of a lot of stuff. Everything you get rid of is actually less of a mental load on you.

There was this old tea master that I met one time. Tim and I have done some crazy travels all throughout China in tea lands.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, the stories we could tell.

Kevin Rose: Seriously. We’ve done some crazy stuff in the middle of the Yunnan province. Nothing sexual. That was our friend. We had a friend that did something. So, long story short, the one thing that this tea master showed me was he pulled out of his pocket one key. He showed me the one key. He goes, “Kevin, do you know what this is?” I was like, “It’s a key.” He’s like, “Yeah, it’s the key to my house. This is my one key. I’ve worked my entire life to have one key.” Because we can all have multiple keys. Meaning the things that you purchase. Whether you have a key to your boat or your spare garage or a motorcycle or whatever it may be.

There’s things in your life that you accumulate and the least amount of burden and the most happiness you can get is having less stuff to worry about. And so I find that to be really true. That’s what I’ve been trying to focus on is having less and being happy with a handful of high-quality things.

Tim Ferriss: I also want to mention that it’s possible to read a book like Marie Kondo’s book, which I can never remember the title of it. I want to say The Magic Art of Japanese Tidying Up, but no, it’s something close. It’s like The Art of, The Joy of Magic Cleaning Up. I can never remember the exact phrasing. I don’t know why. But in any case, that cult following with her book leads some readers to think it’s an all-or-nothing, take-it-or-leave-it approach. You, on the other hand, have philosophically found bits and pieces of that book that are very useful to you but are tactically doing the opposite of what she recommends, but it works for you.

So, she recommends doing this once-in-a-lifetime tidying Super Bowl, basically, where you block out two or three days of your life and that’s what you do and then the rest is maintenance. It’s kind of like the Fast Mimicking Diet of Japanese tidying. You have this loading phase. I’ve had this book – I actually am looking at it on my bookshelf right now – for like two years. I’m just like, “Man, I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it.” Then I’m like, two to three days? I look at my calendar and I’m like, “No, I’m not going to do it. I’m just not going to do it.” I like the idea tactically of one at a time. One per day.

Also, what’s helped me, because I have actually been, since I moved to Austin not too long ago, it’s been a great opportunity after boxing everything up. Okay, do I really want to box all this stuff or do I just want to donate a lot of this because it might be from a 1 to 10 scale of value a 2 to me, or maybe a 1, maybe a 3. But I could donate this very to Goodwill or somewhere else to say a high school gym that needs equipment, which is something I’ve done in the past, and it’s an immediate 8, 9, or 10. It’s a nice karmic chess move to donate. You think of not what you’re losing, but also what you’re giving to someone else in that respect, which I find really helpful. So you’re giving away one item per day.

Kevin Rose: The other thing, too, I will tell you along those lines is that if there is a purchase that I want to make that is not just what I would consider to be a necessity like toilet paper or whatever it may be, and it’s something that is luxury, not luxury but in the sense of it’s going to cost you over $100, and I don’t necessarily need it, but I kind of want to try it, what I do is I save for later on Amazon. So you can add and say save for later. Set a reminder in your calendar app for a week or two weeks later. Almost 90 percent of the time I end up not buying that thing. I still have one thing in there actually from you. It’s that NAC supplement. Should I buy that? I haven’t bought it yet?

Tim Ferriss: Well, NAC, I should say with all of this stuff that we’re discussing because it bears repeating. We are not doctors; we don’t play them on the internet. Everybody should assume that at least 50 percent of what we’re saying is complete fucking nonsense and we are just not sure which 50 percent it is. So, work with a qualified professional before you start taking or stopping any type of medication or supplement. The NAC came to me initially because I was looking at it as a means to accelerate recovery between workouts. My understanding – I might be getting this wrong – but is that it is a precursor to glutathione, which some people think of as this master antioxidant or upstream antioxidant that a host of beneficial effects.

What I noticed in taking the NAC is that I was over the period of a week to 10 days, perhaps seven, eight days into it, that I was more even-keeled than was typical. Like the week had been very smooth. I hadn’t change anything else that I could identify. I’d been either meditating or not meditating for a series of weeks. There were a lot of constants. When I went onto PubMed and began to look at N-Acetyl Cysteine and search for other terms, like “depression” or “bipolar,” and so on, there were a number of search results that popped up that seemed to indicate to me that there was some promise in using NAC to mitigate the amplitude of the ups and downs that could be associated with bipolar.

That’s the primary reason that, for period of time, and I cycle off of all of these things. I became very fascinated by NAC, which quite nicely does have potentially recovery benefits from an athletic standpoint, although most of my athletic prowess has been focused on eating oatmeal cookies recently, so I can’t really claim that I’m doing a lot of killer workouts. I got Rhabdo from eating oatmeal cookies. For you CrossFitters out there, that’s for you. The other would be something you and I are both familiar with, which is low-dose lithium orotate, very, very low-dose lithium orotate, 5 mgs, which you can find on Amazon and elsewhere.

There’s a great New York Times article which people can find very easily that is titled along the lines of “Maybe We All Just Need a Little Bit of Lithium.” It talks about the inverse correlation of groundwater concentrations of lithium with, I want to say at least reported, suicide, homicide, manic depression, and so on. Those two, for me, function in tandem or at least appeal to me for very similar reasons. So, the NAC, should you use it or not, I think is a question of whether you feel you need it. For me, at least currently, I get asked all the time, what are your Top 10 supplements that you’re using right now? Because people have this impression after reading The 4-Hour Body and so on that I walk around with a drip IV bag in my arm and have a thousand pills I’m taking four times a day.

Kevin Rose: Well, I’ve certainly seen you in that mode.

Tim Ferriss: You have seen me in that mode, but my mode right now is to really ensure that I am using supplements as supplements. That I’m not using them to absolve me of the responsibility to eat proper food, for instance. It’s like look, if you’re drinking a lot and you’re like compulsively watching porn and not exercising and mainlining Pixie sticks for your diet and you’re like, “Wow, I’m depressed. Maybe I should take 15 different supplements.” It’s like no, you need to fucking fix the rest of your life and then see what your baseline is because you’re creating so much static and noise and garbage inputs that you don’t even know what your baseline is. It’s so disguised with sort of the trauma and confusion of your inputs.

Kevin Rose: Do you track your baseline? Do you log what you consume and what you take?

Tim Ferriss: This is going to sound so primitive and it is, but my baseline is really how do I feel when I wake up? Do I want to stay in bed because I don’t want to face the day? Am I anxious? Are those my first thoughts coming out of bed? Assuming that I’m not checking my phone, right? Because it’s really my starting state out of the gate of sleep to wakefulness. Then at night, how much trouble do I have sleeping? If any. Or do I fall asleep easily? How deep is my sleep? So for deepness of sleep, you could certainly use something like an aura ring or an accelerometer. There are different means by which you could try to assess the quality of your sleep.

But for me, really looking at how consistently I feel good waking up and how long it takes me to get up to say first or second gear. It historically has taken me a long time to go from park to second or third gear. Some people wake up – you might be one of these people – they’re like, “Fuck it, world! Here I am! I’m ready to party!” That’s not me. I have a real slow build.

Kevin Rose: I think in between you and that. I’m definitely not ready to party the second I wake up. I am after coffee. I have a cup of coffee, I’m ready to party.

Tim Ferriss: I feel that way, if, for instance, I’m in ketosis, past about 2 millimolars. I need less sleep. So, let’s call it six versus eight hours. And when I take up, I am awake. Versus feeling groggy for an hour or two, hour and a half. Which can be remedied somewhat by the psychological advantage of exercising in the morning, which is one thing I’ve been scheduling to do more of per Jocko Willink, a retired Navy SEAL commander and all-around intense dude.

Kevin Rose: Badass. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Intense, accomplished guy. People can find him at Jocko’s first-ever public interview. I’m thrilled to have unleashed the giant, white gorilla on the internet. Baseline though, to return to your question, is really something I try to keep as simple as possible. Do I and have I measured all of those other things? Yes. But I think that whether it’s with your body or with a business, or any number of other things, it’s really easy to become addicted to measuring things that don’t matter very much. Or worse still, measuring things that will distract you from the things that do matter. Does that make sense?

Kevin Rose: Yeah, that totally makes sense. I’ve tried to pare it down to just the stuff I really care about. I just sent you a link in our video chat to my dashboard for the things I measure every day. So, for me, I’m really concerned about my glucose levels because they are a tiny bit elevated. So, I do waking glucose, bedtime glucose. I do whether I meditated that day or not. I do how many hours I fasted the night prior. I do how many drinks I’ve had and then I do what type of workout, whether I had tea or coffee that day, and then my food. But food not in terms of a by-the-calorie, super-anal kind of breakdown, but really just typing out what I ate for that day as a way to hold myself accountable and just look over the last few days at a glance and see if I’ve been behaving or not. So, I find that just the act of writing it down makes me behave a little bit better.

Tim Ferriss: It does. Okay, that was going to be my question. How does that actually impact your behavior?

Kevin Rose: This is a fascinating question. I did an experiment here about three weeks ago with a group of five friends. I created this spreadsheet that we all logged into every single day. What you do is you record the number of drinks you had the night before. I was thinking about turning this into an app, although I’m not going to do it. But I was interested in trying to create social pressure to drink less. Not to drink more, but to drink less. The thing that I found that was really interesting is that if you drink over two drinks in a night, people have some shame in reporting that, so they will mis-report. If you went out and you had four, five drinks, it’s like, “I don’t want to be the guy who had four drinks.”

Tim Ferriss: The one asshole on the spreadsheet.

Kevin Rose: Right, exactly. So, I changed it then so the spreadsheet would only say 2+. So that’s the max you could go. Then people were more open to being like, “Yeah, I had 2+ last night.” They were a lot more at ease, but it still created a little bit of social pressure and personal pressure if you looked at your list and you’re like, “Ooh, there’s been four nights of 2+ there. I should probably do a night without drinking.” So, my idea was to create an app that would allow you just to say up to 2+ and see all of your friends in the same arena and then hopefully encourage you to be able to drink socially but not take it too far.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, this brings up all sorts of really fascinating and frustrated methodological questions in terms of designing this type of reporting, right? Because I was thinking to myself as you were saying this, well, if you had a larger group, say a group of 200 people, one would expect you would have more people in that group reporting drinking 2, 3, 4 drinks on any given night. So, the shame factor would be decreased, but if you decrease the shame factor, that also decreases the incentive to actually behave, right? Because you can blend into this perceived acceptability of being like well, there are 10 other people out of 200 who had four drinks last night. That’s totally fine.

Kevin Rose: Well, the question is, how well do you know the people? So, how tight are they in your social connections in your peer group? Like Brenden Mulligan – I’ll call him out because he’s a friend of ours. He works at Google. He never drinks. He has like one drink. One drink. One drink every four days or whatever. Seeing him hit those streaks of like zero drinks, zero drinks, that was also a pretty powerful thing. I’m saying I need to be more like Brenden. I need to dial it back. So, it goes both ways.

Tim Ferriss: That’s true. I suppose if you’re seeing friends of yours doing well who have demanding jobs, demanding relationships, you can’t use that as your excuse when you have the data right in front of you showing that they’re actually behaving. So, you historically have been a non-trivial drinker, let’s call it. Like a minor league all-star of booze consumption.

Kevin Rose: I used to drink a lot more, to be honest. You can see my spreadsheet here.

Tim Ferriss: So, what has helped you most to decrease the amount that you drink?

Kevin Rose: Well, I think there is fear. I’ve seen a bunch of studies, there was one that was just published here a couple weeks ago, the largest study ever around dementia and alcohol abuse. They’ve very closely linked, which is really frightening. I think wanting to live longer for my daughter is another one, back to the point you had earlier about what has changed. And just getting older. Hangovers happen at 2.5 drinks these days. Why roll the dice? For me, to get to your question around what have I done differently, there’s a couple things. One, I’ve set aside time to learn at night, which I think is really important. You really can’t drink and learn at the same time.

Tim Ferriss: Or remember what you attempt to learn.

Kevin Rose: Exactly. The second thing that has been huge for me though has been the sauna. The sauna has been massive because it is like four drinks or three drinks, just by going and doing a 30-minute, high-intense heat sauna session. You come home and you sleep like a baby. If you don’t have a sauna, that can also be substituted with a really hot bath. It’s always been about I’m with my wife, I’m sitting down, and we’re going to crack open a bottle of wine, and I’ll have a couple glasses of wine. It’s never been like, “Hey, let’s go party!” Those days are long gone. Like a decade-plus gone. No, don’t look at me like that!

Tim Ferriss: A decade-plus?

Kevin Rose: Listen, if we’re out traveling together, Tim, we’re going to have fun, right?

Tim Ferriss: Okay.

Kevin Rose: So, the only times you and I hang is when we’re traveling together, so you can’t put that on me.

Tim Ferriss: All right, fair enough. We’re in different cities now. I will say, for those people who are like, wait – they can see each other? We are doing a very intimate video chat on Skype that you will be able to see on my YouTube channel, Kevin is dressed for success, I will note.

Kevin Rose: I just had a park meeting this morning, so we dress up a little bit.

Tim Ferriss: I appreciate it. So, I gave you that look. Traveling is a bit of an exception. How do you prevent yourself – you have traveled a lot. In some cases, historically. Now, that may change with your daughter, but how do you prevent that from becoming the excuse to drink that happens frequently? Does that make sense? Because this happens in all sorts of capacities, right? Where people will say, “Oh, you’re traveling, you should eat pizza every night.” I hear that and I’m like if I followed that role, I’d be Jabba the Hut, because I end up traveling so much. If I allowed myself that out, it would become a real problem.

Kevin Rose: Yeah, traveling is difficult, especially when it’s in a social setting. If you combine traveling with social. I’ll be going to TED in a couple weeks and I know that there’s just going to be a lot of parties and a lot of events and a lot of drinking. I think that’s one of the things that I need to work on is that I have a hard time dealing with large groups of people that I don’t know. As a social lubricant, alcohol is amazing, right? It’s like, what else can we do? I think that someone was telling me that you never really strengthen that muscle if you’re leaning on the crutch of alcohol. So, you’re never going to become more comfortable with new humans and new interactions and new ways of breaking the ice if you always just go to the booze, right?

So, I think of it like, this is my workout that I’m going into. I’ve got a couple little hacks. One is to show up a little bit late, so then you skip a drink, right? It’s funny how if you skip a drink or two and you get there and people are already a little hammered, how unattractive and unappealing drinking then becomes. Because you look at everyone’s like, “Hey, good to see you!” And it’s a little bit sloppy. You look at that and you’re like, okay, they’re relaxed. They’re not going to remember what I said anyway, not that they’re that hammered, but you know what I mean. They’re in their relaxed state. So, I can be a little bit more jokey and be myself and not have to worry about being hammered. That’s a big piece of it.

When I’m at home, you’re going to laugh at this, but on Amazon, I bought these – speaking of buying more things that I’m probably going to throw away in a year – I bought these measuring cups that measure out exactly one glass of wine. So, what I do there is a bottle of wine we all know is kind of, like a half bottle of wine is kind of two and a half, maybe, it’s up there. It’s very easy, like Darya will have a little bit less than me and I’ll say, okay, I’ll wait until it gets halfway and then I’ll stop, you know? But you’re actually drinking more than you think.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, plus with a wine glass, if you have a large wine glass, you can think like a third of a bottle or close to half a bottle very easily.

Kevin Rose: Right, exactly. So, what I do now is I bought this measuring glass off of Amazon. I fill that perfectly, pour it in, get my second glass, fill it perfectly and pour it in. So, that’s all of my alcohol for the night. It stops me at two drinks, and I really take my time with it then. I have dinner. I slowly sip it. I look at it. I go sit down. We might watch a little John Oliver or something and then continue to sip on it. That’s my way of locking in. I know no more past that. It prevents any hangovers. My doctor says it’s pretty good for you to have a glass or two a night. Then also – dude, don’t laugh at me! It is good for you! Ish.

Tim Ferriss: I’ll go with ish.

Kevin Rose: No, but then it’s also taking nights off altogether. I think that’s the other big piece of it.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, for sure. Good for you, man. I love it. Now, you mentioned one other thing. Well, actually a couple of other points because I’ve been also cutting back on alcohol quite a bit. I still enjoy alcohol. Not gonna lie. I do have booze on occasion.

Kevin Rose: I love your drunk –

Tim Ferriss: Oh, the drunk dials?

Kevin Rose: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Those are fun. For those who don’t know, occasionally, I do these drunk-dial episodes. It’s the laziest podcast format thought up, I think to date, perhaps, which is I have listeners fill out a Google form with their contact info and I set a time, like a two-hour window where I will call people via Skype and starting drinking at Call 1 and drink all the way through to say Call 10 and get progressively more inebriated as I answer questions. That is fun. I did one about a week ago. It was a good time. Then I thought I should do another episode today. I was like, I just don’t want to do two nights of sipping tequila on Skype. A few things that have also helped me. No. 1 is, and this is not an excuse everyone is going to be comfortable using, but if I go to a party and they’re like, “Hey, man. You’re not drinking? What the fuck?” I’ll be like, “Yeah, I’m on a bunch of weird drugs. I am not really supposed to drink alcohol right now.”

Kevin Rose: Oh, that stops the conversation right there. That’s brilliant.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, well it stops the push. But then it also starts another conversation like, “Well, what kind of weird shit are you on?” At any given point, I think it’s fair to say that I could answer in the affirmative to “Are you on any weird shit?” I’m almost always doing something odd. It might not be a lot of stuff, but I’m probably trying something new. That stops people cold. If they’re like, oh, wow. I mean, it could be Tylenol. If you’re taking acetaminophen in any capacity, people may not realize this, but some absurd percentage of emergency room visits and liver failures are associated with high-dose acetaminophen, which is not that much. It’s something like two or three times the label allowable amount over 24 hours. It’s really a potent and potentially dangerous drug. So, that’s one. “I’m actually on this.” “I’m on A, B, or C,” or “I’m on a bunch of weird stuff at the moment and I’m just not supposed to drink.” It works really well.

Then second, and this is actually advice that Richard Branson gave on this podcast is, having club soda with a dash of cranberry juice or something like that. Just using that as your default go-to. One thing that I do which is going to sound really odd and it is odd, but I have a superstition about “cheers-ing,” clinking glasses, when I don’t have any alcohol in my glass.

Kevin Rose: Interesting. This is your tell.

Tim Ferriss: This is something that well, it’s kind of a tell. But what I’ll do is I will sometimes also go up to the bar and I’ll say, just give me a tiny splash, like the equivalent amount that would be in a thimble or something like that and then I’ll cut myself off at that. That’s the amount that allow myself. That’s another approach that I take to cut back on the booze. You mentioned though that you’ve been trying to learn at night and that the booze is not conducive to learning at night. What are you trying to learn at night? What types of things? What’s the format? Are you reading 100 pages a night or what is it?

Kevin Rose: Honestly, have you heard of this Coursera course called “Learning how to Learn”?

Tim Ferriss: I have not. Who teaches it?

Kevin Rose: It’s done by a couple professors. I’m actually in the middle of that right now. Another kind of biohacker recommended it to me. Apparently, it’s the No. 1 watched course on Coursera right now. It’s just been fascinating how they dig into the science of learning and how you go on this kind of focused or diffused mode and how to really go in and concentrate on something and when the optimal time is to learn. It’s all the science around learning. I’m just getting started with it. That’s what I’ve been diving into and spending my nights watching those videos. But it talks about the importance of actually getting away from your material. So, getting really focused and setting a timer for 25 minutes maximum. Going really in depth on the course material and then backing away and going into this more relaxed mode.

They were talking about, who was it? Benjamin Franklin? I can’t remember who it was that used to hold a pair of keys in their hand. Salvador Dalí did this as well, actually. Hold a pair of keys in your hand and you kind of just go into this relaxed state thinking about what you want to learn, to where you almost fall asleep and when you drop the keys out of your hand and it wakes you up, that’s when you go back and then you realize you were successful getting that relaxed. You’ll retain and become more creative. I don’t know. It’s just fascinating stuff. I’m just getting started with the course. And it’s free.

Tim Ferriss: Very cool. Yeah, the intervals and the duration of intervals for learning, along with break periods, is something that I’ve experimented a lot with as it relates to language learning. Because it’s so measurable, you can look at, say your recall of foreign vocabulary, assuming you’re controlling for a few different variables, right? Adjectives are generally going to be harder than nouns, for instance. But if you’re controlling for that, you can look at what your retention is, say 48 hours later, for 100 words you attempted to learn in one session versus two sessions versus three sessions with different types of breaks. I did that when I was looking at a few different languages, specifically in 2004, 2005. Actually, I’ve never shown you these notes.

I have text edit documents with all of my notes on language learning for about a year-long period, looking at all this type of stuff. There were some very clear patterns, such as focusing on the material right before bed with no interruption. Much like how it’s recommended by many names both you and I know, that you meditate first thing in the morning before you brush your teeth, before you check your phone, before anything else. When you have this tabula rasa blank state of sorts. Focusing on material that you want to consolidate in memory and recall later right before bed, at least in my experience, dramatically improves recall. Then, this is actually very important, not just doing that, but when you wake up, before doing anything else, which for me would override meditation, doing a recall exercise of some type. I tend to use flashcards, to determine which have stuck and which have not.

So those that have not, since I’m looking at language, I would give myself like a quarter of a second. It couldn’t be delayed because in speech, you’re not going to have the luxury of sitting there paused for long periods of time. It would go back into the rotation for review again throughout that day and later that night. But that has proven really, really helpful.

Kevin Rose: How about exercise? One of the things they mention in this course is this idea of doing cardiovascular exercise. I believe it’s post-learning something new. Apparently, this science was saying that it just sticks that much more. I don’t have any numbers in front of me, but it was something along those lines. Have you heard anything about that?

Tim Ferriss: In terms of the timing of exercise, I have less clarity, but there’s an entire book called Spark that talks about, among other things, the role of exercise in education and learning, and would point to things like BDNF, the release of brain drive neurotrophic factor, which can be elicited through different types of exercise. Part of me thinks that when one says because these are the easiest to study, or very often the easiest to study, cardiovascular exercise, this is where it comes down to trying to become literate with reading scientific studies or understanding how things typically work. As a couple of baselines, scientific studies usually use volunteer populations known as students. Those students have 45-minute class blocks or 60-minute class blocks.

So, to keep those students busy, people are very often disincentivized from using shorter-duration, high-intensity training or something like that. Weightlifting, for instance. Resistance training. If you want to, as an experimenter, design something that requires as little monitoring as possible, it’s like, all right, stick them on a stationary bike. If you have people doing burpees or deadlifts, like you actually need to –

Kevin Rose: I hate burpees.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, but you actually need to pay attention, right? You need to pay attention if people are lifting weights and so on. There are more safety concerns. So, just to point out perhaps the obvious, weightlifting is actually one of the most cardiovascular activities you could possibly engage in, but I won’t digress into that. You can look at a book called Body by Science for all of the details and why that is the case. But it would make sense to me that exercise could certainly play a role in increasing cognitive function.

But one of the questions that I ask myself all the time, when, and this is a good question for people to ask themselves when they see a headline that makes a scientific claim, is what else could explain this? What else might explain this? If you’re looking at cardiovascular exercise right after some type of cramming with material, you could make the argument that perhaps it’s not the exercise at all, it’s the fact that they’re going into a semi-mindless or meditative, repetitive period where they’re able to, their subconscious somehow work on the material, right?

Kevin Rose: Right. Well, this exactly what this course teaches is how to get into those periods. Yeah, 100 percent.

Tim Ferriss: I have certainly seemed to observe that exercise in some capacity, for me, it’s generally some type of resistance training, does have a positive effect on learning. So, yet another reason to get off your ass, which is something I need to do more of. I’ve digressed. I’ve fallen off the train a little bit, Kevin Rose. I’ll be honest. But I shall get back on the train. Fortunately, once you have a recipe that works, you have the confidence that you can get back on. That’s the good news, right? Say with the fast mimicking diet, not that you should use that for body composition, but fast mimicking diet or intermittent fasting, which a lot of people use your app Zero for, for slow carb diet, plus a handful of things like kettle ball swings.

I just know this is why I’m not stressed out about being off the rails. I kind of make fun of myself about it. Because it’s like look, if I just follow the prescription, like follow the algorithm for three to four weeks, there’s no magic involved. It will work and I will have less muffin top to grab when I’m in the sauna, which will make me happy.

Kevin Rose: Muffin top in the sauna is the worst. You look down and you see that little layer, this little boop.

Tim Ferriss: You also have like the glistening Cinnabon effect because you’re sweating. It’s a really unattractive look. It’s not a good look.

Kevin Rose: It’s not good. One thing I did want to talk about, which I think would be fun to chat about because we’ve both done is, real quick, is Tony Robbins.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, let’s talk about it. For sure. So, I’ve done two different Tony Robbins events. UPW, Unleash the Power Within, which was my first event. Then, more recently in December of this last year, Date with Destiny, which is a longer event.

Kevin Rose: Oh, you did that? I didn’t know you did Date with Destiny as well.

Tim Ferriss: I did. So, I’ve done two events. Some people have had a bit of exposure to Date with Destiny through the I am Not Your Guru documentary, which was co-produced, in fact, by someone who’s been on this podcast, Brian Koppelman, a really accomplished filmmaker. But what was your experience like? Your first Tony Robbins event?

Kevin Rose: It was kind of crazy. Thanks to you, I got hooked up with him. I went down and got a chance to meet him and hang out with him. I think that Tony has proven himself now that he’s been doing this for so long. He’s been doing it for 40+ years. But I think that in the back of my mind, I remember when I was a little kid, the audiotape version, infomercial version of Tony. So, there was always this stigma in my mind that was like, is he trying to sell me something? What’s going on here? I also watched his documentary and I was like, wow, this guy is clearly brilliant. He takes this stuff very seriously and he’s truly breaking through to people and helping people change their lives.

He was like, “I’m going to be in the Bay Area, you should come down.” I was like, “Okay, that sounds awesome.” I took a buddy of mine that has a lot of anxiety. He shall go unnamed but he wanted to go. He was like, “Kevin, let’s do this.” I was like, “Okay, let’s do it.” So, we went down for the three-day event. I thought it was great. I’ve got to tell you. You walk into it – and I was in arena where there was 12,000 people. There are a lot of people there. Everybody is coming there for a different reason, right? I was sitting across from a guy that had lost his legs and was previously a drug addict. I think he had some infection in his legs or something and had to have them both amputated. I was sitting next to someone that was running her own social media business and wanted to get better with her business and improve her finances. She was getting through a relationship that she had just ended.

Everyone had something to bring to the table. Of course, we all do. If we’re honest with ourselves, everyone has something they’re trying to work on. I went in there and Day One was awesome. Tony got out there and he spoke for like 12 hours we were there. Until after midnight.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, he’s a complete mutant. Yeah, it’s unbelievable.

Kevin Rose: I don’t even know when he pees. I have no idea when he uses the bathroom.

Tim Ferriss: Or drinks water. Yeah. He’s just a machine, the guy’s a machine.

Kevin Rose: He’s a machine. I walked over the coals with him. He was like, “Bring out some fresh coals for Kevin!” Of course, they put like fresh, you actually walk over coals at the end of the night. You’ve done this, right?

Tim Ferriss: I have, yeah.

Kevin Rose: Did he bring out fresh coals for you?

Tim Ferriss: I can’t recall if he brought out fresh coals for me. I think that might’ve been the VIP treatment you received.

Kevin Rose: It was a lot of fun. I think the biggest takeaway for me was really a couple things. One was definitely this thing called the wheel of life. Did you have to do that? Where you fill out your wheel?

Tim Ferriss: I’m sure I did. And I should also point out that for the attendees at these events – and I have a little bit more to say about this – but the exercises that really – and there are very tactical, prescriptive exercises – but that the exercises that change someone else’s trajectory and give them extremely concrete next steps that have an impact, are very often completely different exercises from those that affect the person right next to you. It’s really something to behold. But tell us about the wheel of life.

Kevin Rose: The wheel of life was interesting in that he gives you these areas of your life and you’re to rank them from 0 to 10 on how far along and how happy you are with those areas. So, for example, physical body. So, for me, I was like, for me, I give myself a 4 in this arena. I could be doing a lot better. Then there’s emotions and meaning. Another one is relationships. Another one is time. Another one is your career and your mission in life. Then there’s finances. Then the last one is how you contribute. How you give back. How you celebrate and contribute. So you go from 0 to 10 and you rank these out. You’ll see my wheel doesn’t actually look like a wheel. It’s kind of lopsided, but that’s by design.

By the time you look at this, it gives you a clear view of okay, I really need to step out how I contribute and give back. That allowed me to go really deep in my own personal life and say, what does it mean to contribute and give back for me? You and I have both done things in terms of going out. Like charity: water, the Tony Hawk Foundation, and giving away money, but just supporting a cause and writing a check, I  don’t know how you feel about this, but for me, it doesn’t really mean that I’m giving back. I don’t really feel like I’m contributing. Yes, I’m giving cash, but I’m not actually taking part in that process. I’m not actually really helping out. Anyone can write a check.

What does it mean for me to contribute? The realization that I came to and actually there’s some really powerful moments in this conference where they turn out the lights and they make you revisit certain times in your childhood and all these things. I felt myself kind of tearing up because one of the things I realized is that I was not giving back and contributing in a meaningful way. The thing that I came to and that I realized is that my mother was verbally abused by my father for many, many, many years. Definitely abusive behavior. Never physically harmed her, but I would say the mental hard is more bad, if not worse, than some of the physical harm. I realized that I want to actually lean in and help out women that have been abused and that are currently in abusive relationships.

A goal of mine over the next couple years is finding the best possible way to contribute back to that. Not just in forms of another check, but actually how I can get involved. And whether that means helping them build their products and build a better website or mobile apps or any way that I can enable and use my technology skills to help with their business would be something that would mean a lot to me. So, that was a great experience to have. I wouldn’t have that if it wasn’t for Tony. That was just one of many things that I got out of the weekend. I would say that he’s a badass. It was pretty awesome.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, he’s a real master of his craft. What I would say to folks who have a certain image of Tony is that when you go to an event like this, I think the right way to approach it is to be skeptical but not cynical, and open to trying all of the exercises he suggests. There are going to be components that may not agree with you in the sense that there’s a lot of jumping around. There’s a lot of music. There’s a lot of noise, for lack of a better word. A lot of those elements made me uncomfortable. They’re not things that I would seek out.

Kevin Rose: Oh, my God. I could not see you dancing and jumping around.

Tim Ferriss: Right? It’s just not my thing. But the filter that I used going into it or the lens through which I was looking at it was it was made easier because one of my very close friends I’ve known since college, who’s had multiple company exits, is extremely, extremely accomplished, and he goes to Unleash the Power Within every year as a reset. He’s been 11 times, maybe 12 now. He’s been to Date with Destiny six times. This guy is not a seminar junkie. He’s not someone who avoids the work and goes to listen to a motivational speech so that he can feel better on a sugar high for two days and not take any next steps. This is not that guy. He is an operator.

So, the fact that he had been so many times really led me to want to stick with the entire event. I’m not going to lie. I had hard points. Then I mentioned this to you and it may not be the exercise that had a large impact on you, but the Dickens process that I ended up with Tony including in Tools of Titans, one of my more recent books, because it had such a big impact, made the entire event an easy like 10 to 100 turn for me.

Kevin Rose: Mm-hmm, that was the last day, too.

Tim Ferriss: That’s right. So, just that 30 to 60-minute exercise led me to dramatically improve my relationship with my father, to take responsibility for certain things that I had been telling myself were unchangeable, to really buckle down and step into discomfort to make some meaningful changes. Those are changes – Unleash the Power Within, I want to say I went to, now it’s got to be three to five years ago – those changes, the ripple effects of those changes that I made then are still very tangible now. Then Date with Destiny, very similar.

But to go into it expecting that if you step into it and accept some level of discomfort and commit to trying everything, this is just my view, that at least 50 percent you’re going to end up discarding. Probably 20 percent you’re going to find really uncomfortable and you’re going to dislike actively. Then like 10 to 25 percent you’re going to go, holy shit, I can’t believe how powerful that just was. It’s not a lot of handwavy, woo-woo ambiguity. These exercises are really, really, really specific. So, you don’t have to accept Tony as your one and only savior. You don’t have to believe that he is flawless because he is not. He’s just like everyone else. He’s an imperfect creature trying to do the best with the gifts and talents he’s developed. But the guy knows his shit. He actually really cares.

As I’ve gotten to know him over the last few years more and more so, I’ve become more impressed with him, not less impressed. That is at least, if one were thinking of attending one of these events, and I have zero vested interest in sending anyone to these events, other than they’ve had a material impact on my life. That’s why I was happy to see that you were going to attend. That they’d go in with an open mind expecting that, much like if you’ve read any type of book, you’re not expecting every line to be a life-changing piece of gold. You’re hoping that net-net it’s going to be worth the time that you invested. That’s been my takeaway. That it’s absolutely been worth the time invested.

Kevin Rose: Yeah, 100 percent agree. I think that like you, going into this was certainly a really uncomfortable thing for me in terms of when they first start the music and people come out on stage and they start dancing. You can tell the people that have been there before, because they immediately like jump out of their seats and start rocking out and throwing their hands in the air. I’m thinking to myself, I hate dancing. I hate dancing. I’ve never liked dancing with anyone. My wife or anyone. I always feel so awkward when I’m doing it. I’m a geek that likes to sit in front of my computer at night. Then I thought something another friend had told me who had gone and said, “Hey, Kevin. You just have to go with it. If you want to get anything out of it, you have to realize that he’s doing this by design to put you into a certain state.”

He wants to get you into an optimal state and an optimal – that can mean like, one example of one thing we did is we took something that was very serious to us, like a limiting belief that you had held so seriously and you say it out loud in a very joking and laughing way, and everybody, like 12,000 people are all doing this at the same time. You’re laughing and saying it. It’s like breaking it down in your mind and letting you know that you don’t have to take it so seriously and you can joke about it and have fun with it because it’s been forever since you’ve probably ever done that in your life. When was the last time you were able to take something that you held so seriously and so guarded and have a good time with it? So, he knows how to set up these little traps for you that trick you into reframing things in your mind. It really does change your long-term perspective on things.

Dude, I’m a fan. I would definitely go back again. I did the three-day event, the Unleash the Power Within, the same one as you. But yeah, I had fun with it. So, thanks for helping out with that.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, man. My pleasure. I would suggest also that as a point of social proof, and, of course, Tony’s fully aware of the sort of gravitas this would bring, but there are people, for instance, Mark Benioff of Salesforce, which I think has more than $10 billion in annual revenue now, who will pointblank say that Salesforce would probably not exist were it not for Tony Robbins. And he still attends some of these events. He was right behind me at Date with Destiny. He’s a big guy. He and Tony are very similar in size. Then you have Paul Tudor Jones. You have some of the most sophisticated traders and financial minds who have worked with Tony for 10 to 20 years. That’s on an ongoing coaching basis because he does have very discrete, very tactical exercises and tools that help to find blind spots and fully leverage the things that you’re good at and so on.

It’s not easy. It’s not comfortable, but certainly I’ve been very benefitted by the time that I’ve spent considering these things. I’m biased because in high school, I read Unlimited Power by Tony, which had an impact. I then, when I got out of college and I had my first job and I was commuting in my piece of shit minivan, the green machine, which was just a complete disaster of a car but I was trapped on 101 in the Bay Area, for people who know, just bumper-to-bumper in rush hour, to and from Mountain View to San Jose to work, and I would listen to this used set. I couldn’t afford the full set, a new copy, so I had Personal Power 2 in cassette tape, and listened to that, which helped me get to the point where I started my first company. Tony’s made these appearances at very opportune moments in my life.

Like I said, I don’t go to him for all things. I don’t think Tony has the answer to everything. But with particular types of self-imposed narratives and handicaps that you have built you’re or walls around certain types of thinking or certain types of emotions that perhaps served you very well in the past but no longer serve you, he is exceptionally good and helping you work through all of that.

Kevin Rose: I just love that this whole genre, the self-help genre, is not as frowned upon as it used to be. I don’t know if you remember, but probably 10, 15, 20 years ago, if you went to that area of the bookstore, you were like, look it, who’s in the self-help section? There must be something wrong with them. Seriously. That used to be the case. Now it’s gone and he’s probably at the center of it. But it’s become this idea of not self-help, it’s really just this idea that we’re all on a journey of lifelong learning and we all are done BSing ourselves and there’s not a single person that has all of life figured out, so why don’t we all actively, openly work on this together? I think it’s awesome.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. I should also say that as one point, as an example, I was interviewed on the BBC. They wanted to talk about the self-help genre. I knew it was going to be setup, right? I knew that they wanted me to defend self-help and they wanted to attack self-help. I knew when I was going in that this is what it was going to be. Or I figured it out about an hour beforehand when I got some notes and I was like, “Oh, I see where this is going.” They bring me out – this is a television show – and they say, “Good evening, Mr. Ferriss. We just wanted to talk about,” dah-dah-dah, bio, blah, blah, blah, “what is your general opinion of the self-help genre?” or something along those lines.

In effect, I said, “I think 99.9% of it is just horseshit.” I said, “It pains me sometimes to be associated with the label ‘self-help’ for X, Y, and Z reasons.” Then they didn’t have a leg to stand on, right? Because I’d taken their side of the argument, which was kind of hilarious.

Kevin Rose: That’s funny.

Tim Ferriss: Then I said, “But, at the same time, I think the label ‘self-help’ has in many cases an unfairly negative connotation because if you look at almost any type of reading, whether it’s a novel where people want to escape, or it’s nonfiction, where they’re hoping to learn more about let’s call it Andrew Carnegie, or you name the figure, there is some motive behind that, which they hope to help them.” Whether it’s a shift of emotion, the gathering of knowledge so they can impress people at a dinner party or otherwise. And that if I were to look at who I would say potentially emulate in the world of self-help, it would probably be like, and this is a name you brought up earlier, Ben Franklin. Who most certainly wrote extensively about what we consider today to be self-help. But he’s not lumped into the category of potential – and these people do exist, certainly – charlatans, who are just selling a bill of goods that doesn’t deliver.

There are plenty of people who have not walked the walk and talk extensively about their expertise and make recommendations and prescriptions. There are people all over the world in every possible disciple who do this and a lot of them tend to concentrate in this section of the bookstore called ‘self-help,’ unfortunately. But that alone isn’t enough to disqualify something. Certainly, if we look at the popularity of tutorials on YouTube, for instance, in any possible subject matter. If you look at the popularity of the Creative Lives and the Courseras and so on. Everyone now has access to expertise that even 10 years ago would’ve cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to access, if they had the ability at all. You look at Harvard, MIT, Stanford. Many of these schools are putting their courses online, in some cases, for free access. I know people who have taught themselves to code in this way.

All of that is self-help, right? It’s important, I think, that people not disqualify exploring certain realms because of a label that really represents a concept which may or may not apply to what it is you’re examining.

Kevin Rose: Yeah, I mean, there’s going to be scammers in every genre, too. I love how Joe Rogan, I don’t know if you’ve seen the posts that he’s done recently, but he does video of these martial arts?

Tim Ferriss: The legit as fuck? Yeah. That’s his caption.

Kevin Rose: Where they can throw people with their mind? Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Joe Rogan puts up these fake martial arts videos. I mean, they’re not fake. They’re videos of people who actually believe that what’s happening is happening. But these self-described martial arts masters throwing people across the room with their Qi explosions and so on. His caption is usually, “legit as fuck.” Or #legitasfuck.

Kevin Rose: It’s so good. It’s so good.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, there’s a lot of nonsense out there, but it doesn’t mean that everything within a certain category is nonsense. It doesn’t mean you should spend your entire life filtering for the one percent. But also, there are ways that you can assess the validity of different paths. Quite frankly, I would recommend for those people who haven’t – well, I’ll give you two recommendations. One is you can look at the back of The 4-Hour Body, if you already have it, there’s an appendix which is effectively how to spot bad science. It will help you to not trick yourself and also to get better at avoiding being tricked. So, that’s one recommendation. Not to seem like I’m selling my own book, the excerpts for that appendix are from a book called Bad Science by a doctor named Ben Goldacre, which is absolutely fantastic.

So, if you just want to be scientifically literate or better able to separate the signal from the noise with the deluge of information that we are assaulted by every day, I would highly recommend that you check out one or both of those resources.

Kevin Rose: I was going to ask you, Tools of Titans, obviously in your books there have been tons of book recommendations. There was that one kid, do you remember the kid, that took all and he created, he took all the books out of your recommendations and ranked them?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, he ranked them or just organized them as thumbnails. Yeah, I do remember that.

Kevin Rose: The idea was that what is the most recommended book inside Tools of Titans across the board by all the people that were in that book? Kind of stack-ranking them based on the votes. Do you have that list anywhere? Do you have a list of like the most recommended books by all of your guests?

Tim Ferriss: I do, actually. I’ll pull it up right now because I put it on the blog for everybody.

Kevin Rose: That’s a great way to cut through all the crap, you know?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I put it up on the blog. If you give me a second, I will find where it is. This might take a second. I’m looking at Tribe of Mentors, the most recent. Where would I find this? If you go onto and search Tools of Titans books.

Kevin Rose: We can put a link in the show notes, right?

Tim Ferriss: We’ll put a link in the show notes. This will be the smarter way to do it. If you want to see a page where the most commonly recommended books from Tools of

Titans and from Tribe of Mentors, combined, you’re looking at about 500 different world-class performers of all different disciplines, ranging from top professional athletes to chess prodigies, to former Generals, certainly 12+ billionaires, then you will get to see rank ordered in terms of frequency which books are most recommended. I will put those in the show notes and you guys can find that at If you want to see of these people who are the best at what they do, which books across disciplines do they recommend most often.

A few of them, just off the bat for people who are curious: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl; Poor Charlie’s Almanac by Charlie Munger; Seeking Wisdom by Peter Bevelin; and certainly Atlas Shrugged, even though it’s a controversial book, by Ayn Rand, comes up a lot in terms of developing a sense of personal agency. I think that has popped up quite a lot. And many more. But I’ll give you the full list because there are some that pop up quite frequently that you won’t recognize at all. Those are, to me, oftentimes the really fun ones to explore.

Kevin Rose: Awesome. Yeah, I’ve got a bunch of Audible credits waiting to be spent. So, I’ll do that.

Tim Ferriss: Awesome, man. Well, I think this is a solid catch-up.

Kevin Rose: Yeah. Thanks for having me on. It was fun to chat.

Tim Ferriss: Where can people learn more about Kevin Rose, find you on the interwebs?

Kevin Rose: Certainly. My podcast is available at Then also if you want to check out my free meditation app, it’s 100 percent free, a little bit more traditional meditation. It’s called Oak and you can do that at

Tim Ferriss: Nice and succinct. No social?

Kevin Rose: Yeah, you know, Twitter @kevinrose. But I don’t know that I use it that much anymore. I’m more a newsletter guy. If you go to my website, you can sign up for my newsletter. I do a once-a-month newsletter. That’s kind of what I use.

Tim Ferriss: It’s a good newsletter. I subscribe to it, which I can’t say for many. Yeah, Twitter has turned into a bit of a nasty neighborhood on most days. You just feel like you’re minding your business, whistling, walking down the street, then you have people throwing potted plants at your head.

Kevin Rose: And then Facebook is a whole shit show. So, it’s like, that’s the worst kind of show.

Tim Ferriss: What to do? Go back to the tried and true.

Kevin Rose: Instagram.

Tim Ferriss: Instagram or email. All right, my man. Well, thanks so much for taking the time. I hope to see you soon. Come visit Austin. Got a barrel sauna waiting for you.

Kevin Rose: I will. Awesome. See ya.

Tim Ferriss: See ya. To everyone listening or watching on the YouTubes, you can find links to everything that we’ve talked about in the show notes at Until next time, be safe, do not take meth for fun, follow professional advice with anything medically related, and live the examined life. Just because it is self-help doesn’t mean it can’t help you. I’ll leave with that.

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Random Show — Fasting, Biohacking, and Tony Robbins (#333)


Serial entrepreneur, world-class investor, eagle scout, and all around wild and crazy guy Kevin Rose (@KevinRose), rejoins me for another episode of The Random Show. We discuss Kevin’s new diet obsession that may just save his life for many decades to come, fatherhood, minimalism, lifetime learning, ways to dial back alcohol consumption, lessons learned from Tony Robbins, most recommended books, and much more.


#333: Random Show — Fasting, Biohacking, and Tony Robbins

Want to hear another episode of The Random Show? — Listen to this earlier conversation with Kevin Rose in which we discuss traveling in Japan on the cheap, building apps, urine drinking, why Kevin doesn’t have New Year’s resolutions, and much more. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

The Random Show – Drinking Urine, Exploring Japan, and Figuring Out Life

This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn and its job recruitment platform, which offers a smarter system for the hiring process. If you’ve ever hired anyone (or attempted to), you know finding the right people can be difficult. If you don’t have a direct referral from someone you trust, you’re left to use job boards that don’t offer any real-world networking approach.

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This podcast is also brought to you by Peloton, which has become a staple of my daily routine. I picked up this bike after seeing the success of my friend Kevin Rose, and I’ve been enjoying it more than I ever imagined. Peloton is an indoor cycling bike that brings live studio classes right to your home. No worrying about fitting classes into your busy schedule or making it to a studio with a crazy commute.

New classes are added every day, and this includes options led by elite NYC instructors in your own living room. You can even live stream studio classes taught by the world’s best instructors, or find your favorite class on demand.

Peloton is offering listeners to this show a special offer. Visit and enter the code TIM at checkout to receive $100 off accessories with your Peloton bike purchase. This is a great way to get in your workouts, or an incredible gift. Again, that’s and enter the code TIM.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Coach George Raveling

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Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Coach George Raveling (@GeorgeRaveling), an 80-year-old living legend and Nike’s former Director of International Basketball. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. With some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy!

Listen to the interview here or by selecting any of the options below.

#332: Coach George Raveling — A Legend on Sports, Business, and The Great Game of Life

Tim Ferriss: Coach, welcome to the show.

George Raveling: Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be part of your world.

Tim Ferriss: I have been looking forward to this conversation ever since our mutual friend, Ryan Holiday, gave me a teaser of your life story. When I started doing homework and prep, I started thinking to myself, “I should try to get Coach to spend the next two days with me. I should cancel my flights,” because we are going to barely scratch the surface in the time that we have today. I struggled with where to start because I have pages and pages of notes of my own. You also sent me – I will give you credit where credit is due – the absolute best exploratory bullets of any guest out of 300 plus guests has sent me. We’re going to start somewhere that I think may surprise people, and that is the I Have a Dream speech. Could you tell us about your relationship with that please?

George Raveling: Well, it’s one of those stories about being in the right place at the right time. It was a Thursday night in Claymont, Delaware. I was having dinner at my best friend’s home. His dad was a very prominent dentist in Wilmington. In the background, as we ate dinner – in those days, everyone ate dinner as a family. In the background, the television was on, and the news commentary was about the forthcoming march on Washington. My friend was named Warren Wilson. His name was Dr. Woodrow Wilson. He asked the question of us, “Are you boys going to go the march on Washington?” We said no, and he asked us why not. We gave him some youthful excuse that we didn’t have any money or way to get there. So, he said, “Well, I have a feeling this is going to be a historic event. It could be the largest gathering of black people in the history of America in one place,” and so he said, “I think the two of you should be there. What I’m going to do –,” he had two cars. He said, “I’m going to give you one of the cars and money, and you guys should attend.”

The next day, we took off for Washington, D.C. on Friday. At that time, there was one main thoroughfare into Washington, D.C., was Route 1. When you come in, you come in off of New York Avenue. There were a lot of what we call motels, in those days, along there, and we found one that was suitable to our economics, and we got a room. We decided that we would go down to the monument grounds just to get a feel for the best way to get there and what it was going to look like. As we were walking around, we encountered a gentleman, and he asked us – I’m 6’4” and Warren’s 6’4”. He asked us if we were coming to the march the next day, and we say said, “Absolutely.” He said, “Would you want to volunteer?” We said, “For what?” He said, “To be security guards.” We said, “Sure, we’ll volunteer.” He said, “Well, we’re expecting twice the attendance that the papers are predicting, and so we have to add additional security. We’ll meet you down there the next morning at 8:15.”

We got there early. We woke up. We were all excited. We get down there, and we find him, and he said, “Wow, you guys are really early.” He looks at how tall we are, and he says, “Well, we’ve decided we’re going to put extra security up on the podium. We’re going to assign you guys to the podium.” They had these little white hats, which may be like a sailor hat. They were carboard to wear for identification. We were stationed at the podium where all the speakers were going to – to give you some backdrop on it, all the speakers – they started 9:00 in the morning. If I remember correctly, John Lewis was the first speaker, and then there were a series of speakers throughout the day, concluding with Martin Luther King as the last speaker. Some people would suggest that he was the keynote speaker, but he really wasn’t. They put King last because they knew he would hold the crowd.

Part of the stipulation was each speaker had to submit, in writing, his speech that he was going to give. It could not exceed five minutes. There was a hard and fast rule on this. What was interesting about it was that James Baldwin submitted his speech, and they felt it was too exclamatory. They were worried about getting the crowd too excited and maybe having a demonstration. Baldwin’s speech was over five minutes, and so they wouldn’t accept it, so Baldwin refused to speak. He was originally to be one of the speakers. As the day goes on, it’s a hot and humid day. As you look out from the Lincoln Memorial, you look out to what they call the reflecting pool all the way back to the Washington Monument. The longer the day went, the hotter it became, the more energized people were. We finally get to that point of the end of the day, and Martin Luther King comes on to speak.

As history will show, King speaks. He’s speaking from prepared notes. He gets about one paragraph left, and, as he’s speaking, the crowd is just memorized by him. He has captured every single ounce of attention in each human being. He had a cadence about the way he spoke that he would say, “How long –,” he had, what I call, drum beats, and he had a way of raising and lowering his voice to manipulate you as a listener. He’s just about toward the end of the last – going to the last paragraph, and you hear a voice. Today, with technology, you could certainly do it.

A female voice seated behind the podium says, “Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream.” Well, the voice was that of Mahalia Jackson, who most people would say is the greatest black gospel singer of all time – maybe the greatest gospel singer of all time. She had worked on previous demonstrations and gatherings with Martin Luther King. She had heard Martin Luther King tell the I Have a Dream part in Selma and Detroit. If you look at the original speech, it was not part of the original speech. Second, he’s the only speaker who exceeded five minutes. At that point, the crowd is just mesmerized by him. He adlibs in the I Have a Dream speech. Then, at the conclusion, he goes back and closes out with the prepared closing.

When it’s over, we were told to form a V around the podium and help to usher him out. Just as he finishes – the most frequently asked question is, why did you ask him for the speech? I have no idea. It was just impulse. I say to Dr. King, as he folding his speech, I said, “Dr. King, could I have that copy of the speech?” Just as he’s folding it, he instinctively hands it to me, and then the rabbi who’s doing the benediction says, “Dr. King, that’s a great speech. I’m so inspired,” so his attention shifted away from me to the rabbi.” When the rabbi finished the benediction – actually, CBS went through the archives of Johnson and Johnson Ebony Magazine, and the found a picture of me standing right beside him at the podium. I actually have a picture that verifies that I was there. CBS was able to find some footage where he was folding the speech, and they can see him handing it but didn’t show my hand in it.

At any rate, when it’s over, they go over to the White House. As they walk into the Oval Office, President Kennedy says, “Dr. King, I loved your I Have a Dream speech.” Well, the media took that and ran with it because, if you see the original speech, the speech had no title. Little did I know, at that time, that this was going to take on the historic significance that it did. It actually took 50 years for it to really find its rightful place in history. It makes me mindful of something I heard Malcolm X say one time, that history’s best situated to record all man’s deeds. My interpretation of that is history and historians, ultimately, will put things in their rightful place. It took 50 years.

Well, so I had no idea, at that point, when I had the speech that it was going to become a valuable historic document. When I got back home, I put it inside of a book that I had that President Harry Truman gave me. My senior year at Villanova, I played in the East-West all-star game, and it was in Kansas City. One of the things that they did is they took us out to Independence, Missouri to meet President Truman. When we went out to meet him, his office at his home was a replica of the Oval Office. As we walked in, each of us noticed there were two huge tables to the right with books stacked up on them. Well, at the end, after President Truman had talked with the team and the coaching staff and trainers, on the way out, he gave each of us a two-volume book that he wrote on his presidency.

In the book, which I still have both of them now, both books say, “To George Raveling from Harry S. Truman. Best Wishes,” and it has the date. I put the speech inside of one of those for a couple reasons. I would remember where it was, and, two, I knew I’d never throw those books away because how many people can say they have an autographed book by the President of the United States personally to you? It stayed there for years and years, and I never thought about it. My wife didn’t even know I had it.

I go to the University of Iowa’s head basketball coach, and, of course, I’m the first black coach there and the first in the Big Ten, and so there’s much to do about this. At that time, all the local big newspapers had a Sunday magazine section. The cover story on the Cedar Rapids Gazette Paper in this magazine section was going to be about me taking the University of Iowa head basketball coaching job. As he was asking questions – what I call a throwaway question. He said, “Coach, were you ever involved in the Civil Rights Movement?” I said, “Well, kinda.” He said, “What does that mean?” I said, “Well, I attended the march on Washington. I was a security guard, and I was able to secure the speech.” At that point, if I’ve ever seen a person just physically decompose – he was so much more – I couldn’t figure out why he was so excited. He says, “Oh, my god. You have it? Where is it?” I had only been there about six weeks, so I hadn’t unpacked all the boxes down in the basement. I said, “It’s in a box down in the basement.” He said, “Can we go look for it?” We go down. I figured out which box it was, and I pulled it out. He was literally shaking. He said, “Oh, my god, can I call my editor? Can we take a picture of this?” I said, “Sure.” That was the first public notice that I had this speech. The story now starts to split between Raveling being the head basketball coach and Raveling having this speech. From that point on, it took on a different significance, but, still, time had not placed it in its rightful place. Over the years, it became more – one of the miracles, Tim, is that, for 50 years, I had this, and no flood. House doesn’t catch on fire. Somebody doesn’t steal the book – whatever. And, if you saw the actual speech – now, I have it in a vault in LA.

For the speech to survive this long and the quality of the paper. It’s typewritten. You can see little typos in there and so forth. I had a friend of mine who graduated with me from Villanova who was with the FBI. One time, we were talking about it, and he said, “Well, if you ever get in a situation where someone doubts that you really have the speech or that it was – we can lift the fingerprints off of there. Your fingerprints are on there, and so is King’s.” It was an interesting circumstance that what became the focal part of the speech was something that he never really intended to use. Only through the motivation of Mahalia Jackson did he adlib the I Dave a Dream piece in.

As the years went on, it took on a unique value. At one point, Turner Sports does a documentary on it. My wife goes to work. People are talking. “Oh, I didn’t know about your husband having the speech.” My wife comes home one evening. She says, “Hey, we have to have a talk.” I said, “Okay.” She says, “The speech has to get out of this house right away. You travel too much. Somebody’s going to break in the house, and I might get killed over this speech. You have to get it out of there,” so we put it in a vault. As would naturally would happen, various people tried to buy it from me, but I never felt that I had total ownership of it. I kinda felt like I was the guardian of something historic. I became so sensitive about it that I stop – on Black History Month, I’d get many invitations to come bring the speech, talk about it. I was so self-conscious that I stopped doing it because I never wanted anybody to think that I was profiting off of this, and I never entertained any of the offers to sell it.

When I was growing up as a little boy in D.C., my grandma used to always say that money’s the root of all evil. Don’t build your life around money. I wasn’t rich, but I wasn’t poor, and I wasn’t desperate to make money or headlines on it. The headlines accrued because of people’s curiosity about having it. I look back on it now, and it was a classic example of being in the right place at the right time, which happens so much in my life, getting good adult advice. If Dr. Wilson doesn’t say, “You two need to go, and I’ll provide the opportunity for you,” then I would’ve missed out on a piece of history that put an indelible mark on my life.

Tim Ferriss: What an incredible story. What an incredible experience, when you think about how the stars aligned for that to happen.

George Raveling: From that point on, I’d learned a good lesson that you don’t have to have a relationship with a person for them to become your mentor. In those days, I don’t even know if I knew the connotation mentor. I looked at King more as someone as a teacher, someone I could learn from. As we fast forward and I’m now working at Nike, I had this picture in my office, and it was a headshot of Martin Luther King, James Baldwin, and Malcolm X. When people would come into my office, they would look at the things on the wall, and they would always be drawn to that portrait.

What was interesting, most people – I would say 99 percent of the people could not tell you all three of them. A lot of people would get King. Some would get James Baldwin. Very few, Malcolm X. It was rare that anyone got all three of them. They would ask me why I had it up there, and I said, “They’re my mentors. They’re my inspiration. They’re the people whose lives I look to when I’m trying to figure out something complex.” While I didn’t have a day to day relationship with Dr. King, I had a mental day to day relationship – month to month, week to week, year to year – because there was so much that I wanted to learn from.

One thing, while it’s in my mind, I’d like to share with you – and I don’t know if the vast majority of people that followed King knew this. I just found out this past week in reading a book review in the New York Time book review section that, when Dr. King was in the seminary at Crozer, which is in Chester, Pennsylvania – that’s where he took his practice to become a preacher – they had a basketball team. Dr. King was on the team. That delighted me, to no end, to discover that he played basketball during the time. The person who wrote the book actually found, in the archives, a box score from one of their games. Unfortunately, they got waxed 124 to 41. I was so pleased to find out that there was an athletic side to him. In all I’ve read about King over the years, I’d never known that he participated in athletics. There was an immediate joy to find out that he – and particularly that he played basketball.

Tim Ferriss: When you say you had a relationship with, say, Dr. King in the sense that you viewed him as a mentor or a role model and you revisited that, would you find yourself in specific situations and ask yourself, “What would Dr. King do,” or how did that fit in your life from a mentorship standpoint? Was it just putting yourself in their shoes to make hard decisions, or how did you –

George Raveling: I think one thing that became quickly apparent to me was the value of words and the spoken word is such a powerful tool, perhaps maybe more powerful than the atom bomb in many ways. The fact that he had a vision – the whole I Have a Dream. All great leaders, I believe, share a vision, and then they have a journey. He talked about the vision, the journey, the completion of the dream, and the conquering of injustice. To me, King was so many things. He was a preacher. He was a messenger. He was a visionary. He was a precursor, a leader. He was a man for all seasons and all reasons in many ways. Many times, I reflect back on something that he said that, when I’m in a tough spot and I think about giving up. You say to yourself, “What kind of sacrifice is this going to be?”

One thing I remember Dr. King saying is, if a man or a woman hasn’t found something in life that they’re willing to die for, then perhaps they’re not fit to live. He lived out that reality that he became so deeply immersed in this mission that he ultimately had to give his life for it. I watched a number of documentaries over the years on the sit-ins and during the depth of segregation. One was the night before they were going to sit at the lunch counters, and the person who was leading the demonstration as they were planning out it strategically, at the end, he said to them, “I want everybody in the room to look around at each other and shake hands because, tomorrow night, when we have this meeting, some of you are not going to be here.” I thought to myself, “Oh, my god, would I have the courage of commitment to know that, if I were part of this demonstration, tomorrow night, I have to put my life on the line. I might not be back.” If I’m sitting in that room, I have to say to myself, “Are you willing to sacrifice your life for this cause?”

To me, a lot of the untold stories about segregation and the injustices that black people have faced most of our lives is those people who died so that we can enjoy the things that we enjoy in society today. To me, whenever I have any questions about the depth of commitment, I go back and I say to myself, “Do you feel so strong about this that you’d be willing to give your life for it? Do you feel this strong about it, that you would risk getting fired?” Over the years, especially when I was at Nike, sometime I had a depth of belief and conviction that what I was suggesting was right, and I was willing to fight right down to the end. If it meant I got fired, then I got fired. I never allowed the position to threaten me to be less than what I should be as a person.

Tim Ferriss: You mentioned your grandmother in passing. She seems to have been a very important figure in your life. How did that come to be the case?

George Raveling: Well, my grandma was basically, if I can borrow a religious concept – my grandmother was the Pope. Her word was infallible. What was interesting, my grandma’s a product of a Blackfoot Indian Tribe. On both sides, our family, we really are descendants of American Indian Tribes, which I find interesting sometimes because we now – I’ve gone through these connotations that, when I was first born – which you’ll find interesting. I was born in a segregated hospital in Washington, D.C. – Garfield Hospital. There were four floors for whites and one floor for blacks. I came into the world in a segregated world.

As I was growing up, when I was 9, my dad died, and, when I was 13, my mom had a nervous breakdown, and she was institutionalized the rest of her life. In those days, the economy was in poor shape, so you got rations from the government. You got flour, sugar, milk – so forth. I come home one day, and my mom’s standing at the sink, and she’s got the water running, and she’s pouring this big bag of sugar into the sink and just letting the sugar go down. I grabbed it and turned it off. I said, “Mom, what’s going on?” She was incoherent. Anyway, my mom ended up being institutionalized. Now, here’s George at 13 years old – no, I was 12. What do you do with George? He has no parental supervision. Dad’s dead. Mom’s in a mental institution. She spent most of the rest of her life there. My grandma worked for this white family in Georgetown, and so she was sharing with the lady of the house this dilemma. She was saying, “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I have to do something for him.” The lady said her daughter was head of Catholic charities in D.C., and she would mention it to her. Maybe her daughter could do something. Low and behold, the daughter decides that she’s going to help. She found a Catholic boarding school for me in Pennsylvania. It was called St. Michael’s School for Boys.

She was able to get me into the school there. You stayed there year-round as a resident. I went off to St. Michael’s. The structure where priests ran the institution, and the teaching and the service parts were done all by nuns. Over the course of the time I was there, I did everything from bale hay to pick apples to clean chicken coops to work in the kitchen, scrub the floors in the chapel to make beds. You had to do a chore to help offset your presence there. The classes were very strict and rigorous. The classes were small, so we got a lot of individual attention. It was just a stroke of a miracle that my grandma was able to get me into this situation.

My grandma never graduated from high school. In fact, no one in my family – my mom or dad – finished high school. She knew that there had to be a better way for me, and she did everything that she could to help me grow as a person. I remember, one time, Tim, my grandma took myself and my brother out, and she said, “We’re going to go outside. I want to teach you some manners and lessons.” My grandma takes my brother and I out on the street, and she says, “I’m going to start to teach you how to treat women. Women are to be respected.” She says, “When you walk down the street, you always walk on the outside. The woman always walks on the inside. When you get to the corner, you make sure you check the traffic in both ways before, and then you walk more as a guard. If a woman’s getting in the car, you always open the door for them first. If you sit down at the table for the meal, you hold the chair and help them.”

Long before Feminist Movement was even thought of, my grandmother was teaching us social graces. Yes, sir. No, sir. I go on a flight now, and it is just part of my DNA. When people say something – if a stewardess says something, I say, “Yes, ma’am. No, ma’am. Yes, sir. No, sir.” I’m 80 years old, and I still do that. Invariably, what’ll happen on the flight is either during the flight or at the end, the stewardess will say to me, “Hey, can I ask you a question?” I’ll say yes, and I know it’s coming. They’ll say, “Are you from the military?” I say, “Well, I was in the military, but, no, I’m not in the military now.” They say, “Well, are you from the south?” I say, “No. Why do you ask?” They say, “Well, because you’re so polite. No one says, yes, ma’am, and no –,” I have a lot of people now who find it uncomfortable if I say, “Yes, sir,” at 80 years old and they’re younger than me, but it’s just the way I was born.

My grandma was huge on manners. If we went somewhere and there were adults there – in those days, if you were a child, kids were to be seen and not heard. If there was a conversation going on with adults, you just listen. If someone asks me a question and I didn’t say, “Yes, ma’am and, no, ma’am,” when I got home, my grandma would say, “I heard Miss Jenkins ask you that, and you just said, ‘Yeah.’ Bend over,” and she’d whip me. My greatest quote from my grandma was she told me, one time, she said, “There’s more horses’ asses in the world then there are horses.” That’s been my favorite grandma quote.

Tim Ferriss: She’s a good teacher and a good enforcer, it sounds like.

George Raveling: Yes.

Tim Ferriss: Well, were there any other mentors during that – or teachers or people who had a strong impact on you over that stay in that Catholic school?

George Raveling: Yeah. There was a nun who took a liking to me named Sister Delores. She lived to be 87. For some reason, she saw something in me I never saw in myself. She would always say positive things to me. At the time, I didn’t realize the value of them, but she’d always say to me, “George, you can be special,” or, if I wasn’t working up to my potential in whatever area it was, she would say, “Now, that’s not being special, and you’re on earth to be special.” To me, I had never had anybody look at me and make me think I could be anything other than average. She constantly preached that to me. She would watch the basketball games, and, after, she would come – or the next day in class, she would say, “Well, in the third quarter, you really were loafing out there. I was embarrassed.” She always found a way to – I’d write a paper, and she’d read it, and she’d say, “This is really good, but this is not your best stuff. You can do better.” She always created this contest of having me compete against myself. It was never competing against the other students. It was always me competing against myself. She taught me the power of a positive attitude, and she would never allow me to think negatively.

The other person was my high school coach. He taught me so many lessons about life. At our school, there were four sports; boxing, baseball, basketball, and football. One of the things that you learned, if you wanted to get off campus some, you participated in sports. I actually participated in every one, and the one that probably gets zero attention – because a lot of people just don’t know – was boxing. I actually boxed golden glove for two years.

Tim Ferriss: Really?

George Raveling: Yeah. I know your Chinese foot boxing, so you can probably identify with that.

Tim Ferriss: I wouldn’t want to deal with your reach.

George Raveling: I actually, somewhere in my high school scrapbooks, have a picture of me in the ring. In those days, you wore the headgear, and you had the big gloves. I fought in my weight class, which, at that time – I wish I was under 200 pounds now. I actually won my senior year. I won a golden glove event. Then I played baseball. I played first base and pitched. In football, I played in all – except the last year, and then we didn’t have a good quarterback, so my coach put me at quarterback. Believe me, my talents were – I wouldn’t have even gotten a walk-on offered, but I was the quarterback. What happened was basketball, between my eighth-grade year and ninth-grade year, I grew four inches. I went from 6’0” to 6’4” in one year. Obviously, the height advantage proved beneficial to me early on in basketball. Over the course of the four years, I got better and better. When I look back on it now, a lot of it was Sister Delores encouraging me, kept telling me, “Oh, you’re getting better.” She kept me motivated all the time. My senior year, I ended up being the second leading scorer in the state of Pennsylvania.

At this point, let’s just step back really quick. At the end of my junior year, I’m waiting to take the Greyhound bus back to D.C. for – I get a week’s vacation back in D.C. I’m sitting there waiting for the bus to come by. Tim, I can remember it was like yesterday. I thought to myself, “God, if I can just graduate and become a pilot in the Air Force, I’ll have it made.” I had no idea anything about basketball was going to take me and get me a scholarship. The following year, I end up the second leading scorer in the state. We’re playing at St. Rose in Carbondale and, after the game, when I come out of the locker room, a gentleman comes up to me, and he says, “Hi, my name’s Jack Ramsey. I’m the coach at St. Joe College,” and he hands me a card. Of course, Jack Ramsey is in the basketball hall of fame, great coach. He said, “I like the way you play. We’d like to offer you a scholarship,” and I said, “Yes, sir.” Every time he’d say something, I’d just say, “Yes, sir,” because I didn’t know what else to say.

On the school bus ride back to the school, my coach says, “Who’s that man you were talking to outside the locker room?” I said, “He was a coach,” and I handed him the card. My coach says, “Well, what did he tell you?” I said, “He said that he wanted to offer me a scholarship.” I said, “Coach, what’s a scholarship,” because I had no idea that they would pay for your education and, in return, you participated in basketball. Then, over the course of the remainder of the season, I had an offer from Michigan State, Villanova, and Gettysburg and a bunch of other schools. I add Gettysburg because their coach did the best job of recruiting me. He’d write me handwritten letters, four and five pages, on what is going to mean to go to Gettysburg and so forth. He’d drive up to games. He was so persistent.

At the end of the day, the reality was this: As far as the nuns and the priests were concerned, it would’ve been heresy to go to a state institution. I was going to a Catholic school. Then it basically came down to St. Joe’s and Villanova. I went down for the visit at Villanova, and, while I was there, they gave me admissions exam. You didn’t have PSAT and ACT then. I took the admissions exam the first day I was there. Once again, amazing insight by Sister Delores. When she found out I was going to get scholarship offers, she started to make me stay after school every day and work on the entrance exams so I was prepared. The Sunday before we left to drive back up to Hoban Heights, the coach, Al Severance, offered me a scholarship and wanted a decision while we were there. Basically, my high school coach made the decision. He thought that that’s where I should go. Little did I know that basketball was going to be this transformative force in my life that was going to take me someplace I never thought that I could go. Tim, never in my life – and I don’t mean this in a mean-spirited way – did anyone in my family ever say to me, “George, when you grow up, I want you to go to college.” There was no reason for them to think that – at that time, it wasn’t even a dream or thought because nobody had received that type of education.

Go back to my grandma. I call my grandma and I tell her what’s going on and that I’m going to get this scholarship. I tell her. Well, how does it work? I tell her, “If I agree to play on the basketball team for the four years, they’ll pay for my education.” All of a sudden, there’s utter silence on the phone. I said, “Grandma, are you still there?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Why you so quiet?” She says, “Oh, I just feel like a failure.” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “I thought I raised you better than that.” I said, “Well, grandma, what did I do wrong?” She said, “Stupid. No white people going to give you a free education to play basketball. How could you be so stupid to believe –,” she could not comprehend that, because of the racial situation, that someone would pay for your education. All you had to do was play basketball. She just – it took her over a year before she fully was able to even trust that this was – when I finally got on campus at Villanova and went to the first class, then she kind of started to be a lot more trustful of the process. I look back on it now, and it just shows you the depth of a stain of racism and how things are implanted in your mind that you just can’t – they’re incomprehensible.

Tim Ferriss: On that note, when I was doing homework, I read somewhere that you have a collection of racist mementos in your house.

George Raveling: Yes. Wow, you did do some research.

Tim Ferriss: Beyond that, I don’t know the details, but that just stuck in my mind because that’s something, I think, that a lot of people would actively avoid. Why do you have this collection?

George Raveling: Well, first of all, no one’s ever asked me that question, but I probably have over $100,000.00 worth of black collectibles. For about eight or nine years, it became an obsession with me. I would go to antique shows and go to stores and hunt down old black memorabilia. I have things that date back before – I actually have a first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I started to collect books, figurines, and postcards. I started out with figurines. A friend of mine told me about an antique store that was closing, and the gentleman had a huge collection of black collectibles. It was in San Pedro. I went down, and I paid him $35,000.00 for the collectibles. He had over 100 pieces. Part of the deal was that he had to mark them and write a little card so I would understand the historic significance of them. Postcards, Tim, I have them back before you had – this might surprise you. Originally, you didn’t have to put a stamp on a postcard to send it out to mail. I have them back in – the earliest one I have is 1891.

Tim Ferriss: Wow.

George Raveling: What was interesting about the black postcards was they always made blacks – they pictured them in a derogatory term. One of the more frequent ones you see is a black person eating watermelon with a smile on his face. They were all derogatory. Now, here’s what’s further interesting: You put stamps on them. I was able to read the messages on some of them. The one that I remember the most is a lady’s writing to one of her girlfriends. We’ll just make up the names. She says, “Hellen, we have a nigger that works at our house that smiles just like him.” In those days, to use the word nigger was commonplace. I don’t know that you ever learn to accept it, but it was something that was said commonplace.

I started to build this historic collection of memorabilia so that I could have a legacy for my children and their children. I have them on display at my home to remind me of where we were and where we are today and the trials and tribulations that we’ve gone through. Postcards, I probably have over 300 of the postcards, and I probably have about 500 of the figurines. I was just thinking, because I have some original Aunt Jemima flower packs. Once I got going, it was amazing the things I was able to collect. I had so many of them that I couldn’t put them all on display, so I have, probably, three-quarters of them are boxed up in storage. The others are around my house.

Tim Ferriss: Do you collect anything else, or have you collected anything else?

George Raveling: Books and friends. In my library at home, I have well over 2,500 books and probably have another 600 or 700 that are in storage because I just ran out of space. I just continue to buy books to read them. I have, as you probably researched, an unusual way of going about reading books. And, friends, I don’t have a strategy or anything for friends that – most times, people, when I meet them, are not who they end up being, whether it was Phil Knight, Bob Knight, John Thompson, Sunny – I could tell you tons of people, when I met them, they were not who they ended up being, but, for some reason, we were able to build an authentic and sustainable relationship.

I’ve always looked upon relationships as a privilege that you have. At the end of the day, at the core of our relationships, in my mind, is trust and respect. Both of those have to be earned. Over the years, I’ve met people and, unintentionally, we’ve stayed in touch, and there’s been this level of trust that’s allowed the relationship to endure. It’s a lot like marriage. You have to work at it. You have to understand that there’s a balance in relationships. With me, the number one thing that I ask myself continually is, what can I do for you? Your good friend, Ryan Holiday, and I had dinner last night. One of the very last things I said to him, I said, “Ryan, is there anything I can be doing for you in the next 30 days?”

I’ve always had this theory that, if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll always get what you want.” I’ve never tried to enter a relationship based on selfish motives, that, if I know this person, I’m going to get these benefits. I try to find out, what do we have in common as people? What is it that we can share? How can I help this person? No matter how famous they are, how successful they are, everyone has certain needs, even if they’re just psychological needs. We all need truth tellers in our life. In building relationships, I try to make sure that I surround myself with people who want to see me become better and help me become better, that I can learn from them and that I can contribute to their lives. Most of the friendships I have in life, they all started by mistake.

One of the young men that’s here today that has taught me almost all I know about technology, I spoke at a clinic in Orlando. A friend of mine, Kevin Eastman, was running the clinic. I said to him, “Who’s going to put my presentation up on the screen? Do you have an IT guy?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Well, introduce him to me because I want to put my presentation up. I want to walk to the back of the room and make sure it’s clear and so forth.” I met Alex Sovosier, and, during the time I was there, we just hit it off. I’m pretty sure he was taking me back to the airport, and I ask him if he would be interested in doing a website for me, and he said yes. That’s how it started, and it’s turned into a lifelong friendship.

I think that was the start of me recognizing that I needed to be around more young people. I don’t associate – maybe it’s bad to say this, but I don’t hang out with many people my own age. Most of the people that I associate with are younger people because I think they’re the future. They’re smart. They’re naive enough that they’ll tell you the truth, and they’re not afraid to tell you if they think you’re wrong. When I hang around people my own age, it tends to always revert back to the past. I don’t want to talk about coaching at Washington State or being the first black this or the first black that. What I want to do is figure out, at 80 years old, what is it that I don’t know but need to know, and how is it going to help me stay relevant in this ever-changing world? I tend to spend most of my time with younger people who inspire me, who I can have a partnership with.

That’s the other thing about relationships. I think relationships, at their most authentic stage, it’s a partnership. We share common vision, common goals, common objectives, common strategy, common execution, plan – it’s a we mentality. It’s not a me mentality. It’s a win-win mentality. It’s not I win, you lose or you lose, I win. It’s not about that. We’re in this thing together, and we’re in the boat together. We’re going to row in the same direction, and we’re going to get the boat ashore.

Tim Ferriss: You mentioned books, and I want to make sure we give reading at least a few minutes because you are known as a veracious reader, the human Google – one nickname – and you’ve read, probably, I’m sure, thousands of books at this point. You were very kind, when we first got here – we’re recording this right now – you said you learned from the wise man. It’s always a good thing to bear gifts, or something along those lines, and you gave me several books. You’ve also gifted many, many different books. How did this love affair with books start, and could you tell us about how you read books? Because, as you alluded to earlier, you have a particular way of reading books.

George Raveling: Well, as I look back on it now, Tim – and the point of reference, as so many times as we speak, is always going to be my grandma. My grandma told me, one time – when she’d be in the kitchen cooking, she’d tell me stories. One time, my grandma told me, she said, “George, you know, back in the days of slavery, the plantation owners used to put their money in books and put them up on the bookshelves,” because their banking system wasn’t as sophisticated as it is today. I said, “Well, grandma, why do they do that?” She said, “Because they didn’t have to worry about the slaves stealing the money because the slaves would never take the books off the shelf because they couldn’t read.”

From that, I began to understand that, as long as someone can control your mind, they can control who you are in your body. I decided that I was never going to allow myself to be in a position where someone could control my mind and control my body because of my lack of information and knowledge. I decided that I was going to try to read and learn as much as I possibly could on a continual basis because I believe that people will have a greater respect for you if they respect you intellectually. I’ve often felt, in life, if I had the choice between Tim liking me or Tim respecting me, I’d far more hope that you respect me than like me. I figure the byproduct of you respecting me will be that you’ll learn to like me. I don’t work at trying to get people to like me.

I’ve been on this mission for reading for years and years and years. It’s become an obsession now with me. I don’t go anywhere without a book and a notebook. If I’m in line – if I go to the doctor’s office, I take a book with me. If I’m in the – I have a new system now. If I go to a bookstore, if I’m in Barnes and Noble and the line has got eight or nine people in it, rather than stand there for ten minutes waiting, I’ll start reading the book right there in line and start underlining things. I have all these quirks that I’ve acquired over the years with reading books. First of all, I divide the book into messages. I don’t spend any time, now, trying to read a whole book because there’s probably, in most books, maybe, eight to ten chapters that are really powerful and influential, and, the others, I skim through. I never start a book from the front and go to the back. I’ll open the index, and I’ll find what I believe is an interesting chapter, and I start there. That’s actually how I purchase a book. When I’m in the bookstore, I have this routine that I go through. If it passes, I buy the book. If it doesn’t, I don’t buy the book.

Tim Ferriss: What’s your routine?

George Raveling: I’m going to envision this one. Our office is in El Segundo, which is outside of Los Angeles. I go to Barnes and Noble there. One thing that I found out, that because there’s so many corporate offices within a two-mile radius, that they tend to house really excellent business books. I’ll go in. As soon as I go in, I look at the books that are on reduction sale to see if there’s something there that might be a good buy. Then I go to the new releases, nonfiction. By the way, I go to a bookstore four to five days out of the week. I’m constantly going in. I just call it search and discovery. I’ll go to the new releases in the nonfiction, and I’ll look through the books. There are usually 20 books on the table. I’d say eight out of ten times, I’m going to find a book that I’d never heard of before. I’ll pick the book up, I go to the back, I read about the author. Then I go to the front part, and I read the promos down the side. The next thing I do is I go to the chapters, and I’ll find a chapter, and I’ll open it up, and I’ll see the writer’s style. I look at the style. Is this someone that’s a book filled with a lot of statistics or stories? Because I know what I’m looking for. The books that have had the most impact are the ones that make me change the way I think or act or behave. Those are the books that ultimately end up being the best for me. I’ll go through the book, and then, once I find this one chapter, I start to read some of it, and I can tell if this is going to be me or not. At that point, I’ll purchase the book.

I just don’t go in and buy a book based on the top ten – not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that I’ve had better success – now, here at 80 years old, two of my favorite authors are Ryan Holiday and Walter Isaacson. They’ve both taken me on interesting intellectual journeys. The first book I read by Walter Isaacson was Steve Jobs. Oh, I was so blown away. I had underlined about three-quarters of the book. I was writing down quotes. As you know, the Steve Jobs book could be anything you want it to be. It can be a thesis on leadership. It was just utterly fascinating. I loved Walter Isaacson’s writing style. When I finished the book, I went back, I said, “Damn, I like the way that he writes.” I go back, and I look to see what else he had written.

Then I see he’s done a book on Benjamin Franklin. He’s done a book on Einstein and, subsequently, Kissinger and others. I go to the bookstore, and I buy the Benjamin Franklin book, and I am blown away and a little sad because I feel like, “God damn, I went through all this education. No one ever taught me any of this stuff,” other than the kite. Before that, I think, if you’d have asked me, who was the most important American of all time, I think I would’ve probably tended to say Abraham Lincoln, but, after I read Isaacson’s book on Benjamin Franklin, I would now feel – the lottery system, the banking, schools, streets. He did so many unbelievable things. Then, from there, I went to Einstein. Anybody who can write a book on Einstein and that an idiot like me can understand the physics and – it was absolutely – it was a miracle. In the book, Tim, I read that Einstein was very active in what they would capture, in those times, as the Negro Movement. It says that he wrote a book on Einstein and the Negro Movement. Well, I had never heard of this, so I immediately stop reading and go Google Einstein on the Negro problem. Low and behold, it comes up, so I chase the book down.

What I find, a lot of times, in reading books is – in your book, Tools of the Titan, I’m reading, and I see you mention in there about masterminds. I had never heard of masterminds, so I circle it, and I write Google behind it. I got back, and I go online, and I find out, wow – I’m thinking to myself, “Oh, my god, I never knew about this. How do I become part of it?” I sent some information to Ryan Holiday about this mastermind. He gets back to me. He says, “Oh, I’m surprised you didn’t know about that. You want to go? I’ll get you in.” The next thing I know, I get this invite to go to masterminds in Carmel Valley. In my 80 years on earth, that was the greatest collection of intellects that I’d ever been around in my life. I was so intimidated. What was marvelous – that was when I knew I was on the right path because I’m 80 years old. The next oldest person there’s probably 49. They’re all young energetic people. I will readily admit I was so intimidated. I was thinking to myself, “God, how am I going to fit in?” Every night, I went to bed with the worst headaches that I ever had because I couldn’t process all this stuff. By the second day, I’ve already filled up a notebook of notes. It was one of those life-changing experiences. You helped me grow as a person just by what you mentioned in Tools of the Titan.

Tim Ferriss: Well, thank you for reading it, first of all. I’m sure that, with all my notes here today, I’m going to have to figure out a way to have another conversation with you for sure. Hopefully, I won’t blow it between now and the end of the interview. Books that you’ve reread the most yourself or gifted to other people the most, are there any books that come to mind?

George Raveling: Well, being 80 years old, it’s a long span of reading. The books that I’ve given out the most, rarely do I go to meet anyone and I don’t – I can’t tell you the last time I met someone and I didn’t bring them a book. It’s just become a habit now to give them a book. Most cases, I give them two or three books. The books that I’ve given away the most lately are Ryan’s two books, Obstacles and Ego is the Enemy and 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson. This was one where I happened to go in to Barnes and Noble the day the book arrives, and I go through it, and it passes my test. I get back to the hotel, and I start reading the book. Before I know it, it’s 2:00 a.m., and I’m still – the guy’s got me hooked already.

I start telling people, “Oh, you have to get this book,” and no one’s ever heard of this guy, although, in Canada, I understand he’s quite controversial. He’s a professor at the University of Toronto. Then, about three weeks go by, and, all of a sudden, it’s an explosion. It’s now number two on the best sellers and so forth. I would say I probably have given away somewhere between 20 and 30 copies of that to friends. I’ll get a note from someone every now and then saying, “Hey, tell me a good book to read.” That’s the one I recommend the most. I give Ryan’s books away a lot. One thing that I like about Ryan’s book is it’s easier to carry because it’s smaller. I can get a little bag, and I can put 12 of them in there.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, mine are not as user friendly from carrying perspective.

George Raveling: No, but that’s the – one thing that I found with your two books is – I take them on as a personal challenge. I say, “If he spent this much time with these many pages, I am not going to allow the length of the book to intimidate me. I’m going to see this as an opportunity.” What I did with Tools of the Titan was – I call that my China book. It’s 13 hours to Shanghai or 13 hours to Hong Kong and 13 coming back. That’s 26 hours, man. I can knock that sucker out. Some books, you just have to find the right environment in which to read them.

Tim Ferriss: Totally. I’m going to actually just pause for a minute. We’ll keep the recording going. I’m going to go grab the books that you brought for me because I’d love to talk about them, so I’ll be right back. Okay, so here we have five books. I’ll just read off the titles quickly, and then I’d love to hear you explain your reasons for choosing a few of these, perhaps. The first is Life is So Good, George Dawson and Richard Glaubman. The next is The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer. Next, we have Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon. That’s quite a name. Then we have Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future, Joi Ito and Jeff Howe. I actually know Joi. I have not read this book, though. [Foreign language], Joi. [Foreign language]. Truth, Hector Macdonald. I would love to hear you explain why you like or why you chose, perhaps, a few of these.

George Raveling: Well, my first goal was, as I said to you when I first entered the room, is that what I learned from the three wise men was they always came bearing gifts. I felt that I wanted to share something with you of values as you were sharing something with me of value and allowing me to be on your program. I thought long and hard about the types of books that a Princeton graduate would interesting. I went back through. The first one is Life is So Good is about a black young man who was a slave and, at 98 years old, he decides that he’s going to teach himself to write.

Tim Ferriss: Wow.

George Raveling: Then he subsequently goes back and gets his GED. It’s a fascinating story about that he never allowed his environment to imprison him. It took him a while to realize that he had the capabilities to still read. What was more important was that he wanted to do it. He taught himself to read. He ended up going back to school. One of the things in here was they have a couple of letters that young kids who read the book – here’s a cute one that says, “Dr. Mr. Dawson, I’m in second grade. I live in Wisconsin. I’m glad that your brain still works. Happy 10th anniversary.” One other one, it says, “I’m happy that you can read now. I’m glad you like school. I do, too. I’m in the fourth grade. Your friend, Alex.”

Tim Ferriss: That’s very cute.

George Raveling: This, to me, is one of the true classics of all time. This is The True Believer by Eric Hoffer. Eric Hoffer was a long shore man in San Francisco. He’s self-educated. This book is about fanatics and how the people become so engrossed in mass movements. A lot of the backdrop for his rationale has to do with Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. I just want to remember. I’m pretty sure the book came out – in 1951, he wrote this. It’s every bit as contemporary as – in fact, if there was one of these books that I would say that someone should pick up and read right now, I would say it’s so applicable, even though it was written in ’51 is The True Believer by Eric Hoffer. I don’t think you can get it in hardback now, but it’s a marvelous book.

Blue Highways was one that I read twice. William Least Heat-Moon was a professor in English at the University of Missouri. He arrived at a point where he was totally bored at being a professor. He makes a unique decision to abandon his career, sell everything he has – he has a credit card. He sells everything he has, and he decides that he’s going to travel the blue highways of life, and he’s going to go all around America, and all he’s going to do is go into small towns off of blue highways and take up residence there for a day, two, a week and just talk to the local inhabitants and go into restaurants and learn other people’s stories and their challenges and successes. The blue highway connotation – and I know this because I taught map reading when I was in the Army – is, on a map, the blue highways are secondary thoroughfare. The major highways, they’re drawn in red. He decided that, “I don’t want to travel around America on the main highways of life because the real stories are off the blue highways.” It’s just an incredible story of his journey. It gives you a look at America from a perspective that you wouldn’t normally – what you find out, even in these little towns around America, there’s not a whole lot of difference. People, they have their anxiety, they have their joys, they have their visions. One thing I noticed was that people in the smaller towns tend to lead a much simpler life. Their values are a lot more sustainable. What I mean by that, they have fixed values that they’ve grown up with from a child, and they’ve never compromised. It’s a great book. Once again, I spent a good bit of time trying to figure out which ones I thought you would like.

The next one, I bought at the University of Penn bookstore about five months ago. I never go to Philadelphia and don’t go the Penn bookstore, and they have an incredible collection of books. At that time, I was thinking to myself, “You need to change the subjects matter a little bit.” A dominant conversation in America is the future, the future. Get to the future first. What’s the future going to look like? I started to realize you need to understand more about the future and what it is and what the potential on. As I’m going to the bookstore, I decide only books I’m going to buy are books that talk about the future. I ended up buying about six books. I came across this – the good Lord helped me discover this book, and it’s called Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future. It’s written by two professors at MIT. The book is incredible. As you can see, I destroy books.

Tim Ferriss: Wow. You have a lot of underlines. Do you mind if I take a quick look at that?

George Raveling: Oh, no, no, no, no.

Tim Ferriss: I just want to – I’m a bit of a notetaking fanatic, so always fascinated to see how people take notes. You have underlines. You have things that are circles, and I see Google here. Then you have something that is circled and looks like it has spines around it. It’s almost like a cactus. What do you reserve that for?

George Raveling: The ones with circle are – I’m always looking for new ways to explain things and to teach. Those are words that I’ll go back and I’ll transfer into one of my journals because I’m looking for new ways to explain things. Sometimes a person will be mentioned, and so I’ll circle that. I’ll write those down. Every day, I take about a half an hour and Google. I Google people’s names. I Google, as I said, with masterminds. Where you see the markings on the side of a paragraph, that means, when I go back, that I want to reread that in its entirety, and it’s really important.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, this marking right here.

George Raveling: Yes.

Tim Ferriss: What it looks like, just for people who are listening to this, it’s basically a bunch of horizontal lines stacked in the margin from the beginning of, say, this paragraph to the bottom of the paragraph. That’s something that you’ll reread.

George Raveling: Yes. I make comments. Like, on this paragraph, I wrote, “Unbelievable.” This was a quote that I wanted to put in my journal on quotes. This was a person that was mentioned that I want to Google. A lot of times, what’ll happen, Tim, I go back, and I Google a person and, immediately, I go to see if they have a Twitter account. If they do, then I sign up for their Twitter account. To me, the handheld device has become my won personal library and my source of information. Where I’ve discovered a growing problem is there’s huge proliferation of information today. We’re overwhelmed with information.

What I find out is that, for me, I have to segment the information. I have this little formula. Information equals knowledge. Knowledge equals wisdom. Wisdom equals growth. Growth allows me to share. I take the information, and I segment it into magazine reading, blogs, articles, and books. What I found out is that I was devoting an inordinate about of time to blogs, articles, and magazines and newspapers, and it was compromising my book reading. What I had to do was to start to plan out my week. I’ll have a day where I say, “Blogs, magazines, and newspapers.” Then I’ll have a day where it’s book day. That day, I’m not doing anything but reading my books. The other thing I have to do is try to figure out other ways to get book reading in. If I hop on a flight from LA to Austin, I put four books in my bookbag that I carry on the plane. I read four books at a time. I have a lot of crazy things I do.

Tim Ferriss: Is this what you’re reading now?

George Raveling: This is one of them, yes.

Tim Ferriss: Just for people wondering, this is – I love how wide-ranging this is. The Mind – is the title — It’s Projections and Multiple Facets by Yogi Bhajan, PhD, master of Kundalini yoga with Gurucharan S. Khalsa, PhD. Amazing.

George Raveling: What I do is, if I get bored when I’m reading, I’ll just switch to another book until I get one that really captures my attention. When I get on the plane, I’m going to usually start off – I’ll read the Wall Street and New York Times and the local paper. By the second half, I’ll go to my books. Like I said, I just have all these crazy things. For example, I’ve trained myself to understand that the blank pages – I’ve made all the blank pages in the book valuable because I take every blank page, and I write notes in there so I don’t have to switch to my notebook. It’s more handy. As you can see, on a lot of the blank pages –

Tim Ferriss: You have writing on every blank page.

George Raveling: Yeah, I write. I skip around a lot.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, wow. Hold on. On this spread, you have three different highlighters. You have, I suppose, pink, yellow, and green, and you have some red emphasis at the top of that particular page.

George Raveling: Well, what I do is – it helps redirect my attention to what’s important. If you saw a speech that I gave – for example, I was a graduation speaker, a couple years ago, at Villanova. If you saw the speech, it’s just a maze of colors. My brain is trained at the colors will redirect my attention. If it’s all pink, then, in many ways, there really wasn’t any sense to color it. I tend to go back – once I read a book, I go back now, and I’ll reread the book and go with the underlining again. Sometimes, if it’s really powerful enough, I just do it right then.

Tim Ferriss: On the key phrases or words that you circle – my system is I put PH in the margin next to it, which stands for phrase, and then, on the very beginning of the book, I create an index of phrases. I’ll have PH, and then I’ll put in the book numbers. Similarly, you do these multiple passes. When I’ll go through a book and I’ll underline or highlight and then I’ll go through it a second time, in the margin, I’ll put T2 and a circle around it just for Tim two, like second pass, for things I find really interesting. Then, if I read it a third time, I’ll go through and I’ll do T3. I can not only see what was interesting to me at different times, but, also, sometimes I’ll get so excited reading a book – I don’t know if you do this – I’ll highlight so much. I’ll be like, “Okay, well, I might as well not have highlighted anything because I highlighted everything. Then, the second time around, I’ll be a little bit more precise, maybe. Then I can go back, and I have my own table of contents, which it looks like is similar to what you do.

George Raveling: Yeah. What I’ve found out in reading books now is, when I go back on the second passage of the book of reading it, I find some pages where I didn’t have anything underlined. Just my inquisitive self, I’ll go back and read that page. There’ll be three or four things that I wanted to underline or I wanted to ponder on. I can’t understand, “Well, how did I miss this?” The second reading, for me, is revealing because I always find something that I missed that, maybe, my brain just was functioning too fast, or I was being distracted. I’ve learned that a second reading is vitally important. Then the last thing I would do is I would end up transferring these to journals.

I actually have book notes back to 1972 is when I started to keep them in three-ring binders. What I would do is, when I was done with a book, I would just give the book to my – those days, there were secretaries. I’d give it to my secretary, and she would type out everything that I had underlined in the book, and then she’d create a cover page for it. I have three-ring binders. I probably have 12 or 15 from Washington State. I probably have – I only stayed at Iowa four years, but I’d say I probably have about eight from Iowa and probably, maybe, 15 or 20 from USC. I actually have them – I save my notes over the years. One thing that they’ve been a great source of, not only learning and reflection, but I find information that I can utilize in speeches. It’s interesting, also, when you look back in the – I think people, 50 years ago, placed a greater importance on writing skills and word usages. It was an artform – and how people go about explaining themselves is – most of the books I read, there are very few of them that I don’t come away and feel that I’m a better person.

One of the things I like to ask myself at the close of every day is, “What did I do to make myself a better person than I was yesterday? What did I learn today?” From a talk that I do, I say that every day is composed of 86,400 seconds of opportunities. How shameful is it for me, at the close of my day, to say that I didn’t do anything today to make myself a better person than I was yesterday? That’s shame on me because I had 86,400 seconds of opportunities to do something – even if it’s no more than a thank you, a random smile, a pat on the back. Think about this, Tim. There are a lot of people in this country who go through 24 hours and never have anyone say anything to them positive. You might be the only person that day who said something to that person that was positive. I know we’re in a different culture now, and I always think I’m running a little risk, but, if I’m in a restaurant or somewhere and a person’s waiting on me and he or she has a great smile, I verbally say, “Hey, you have a great smile.” Sometimes I feel a little uneasy when I say it to a female because someone might think you’re trying to come on to them. At the same time, I’m willing to take that risk.

Earlier, when we were leaving breakfast, as we were leaving, the two waitresses said, “Thanks for coming,” and they had a big smile on their face, so I said to both of them, “The two of you have a great smile.” Well, to me, I like practicing random acts of kindness because, so much today, we’re cruel – and unintentionally cruel. We don’t think how valuable the little things are – the thank-yous, the smiles, the taking time to listen. I had a situation – I still grapple with this, when people stop you on the street and ask for money. We were having lunch yesterday, and a lady came up, and she asked if we could spare some money. She wanted to get something to eat or drink. I gave her $5.00, and said, “Now, I hope you use the $5.00 on what you said you were going to do.” She points, and there’s a little grocery store a few doors down. She comes back, shows me the drink and the $3.00 change.

Tim Ferriss: Wow.

George Raveling: It was a win for both of us. I grapple with this thing about, do I give them some money, or do I not? In this case, I really felt good that I was able to do something for her, and she did something for me because she made me feel good that I could trust – what she really did is help fortify my mind that I should probably be giving more instead of less.

Tim Ferriss: Well, you’ve given a lot in a lot of ways in many years over your life. Certainly, one capacity is that of coach or educator or teacher. We could spend days – and hopefully we will. Hopefully, we’ll get to know each other even better and spend more time together. For now, I thought we might jump forward, at least from your childhood stories to the Olympics, 1984. There are many different angles we could take to get into this. I suppose where I want to start – there are so many different things that I want to touch on. Since we were talking about communicating and phrasing and words, could you share the motivational quote that you came up with at that time? I think it’s each one of us has a relative who gave his life for this country. The least we could do is give 40 minutes of ourselves.

George Raveling: Yes, that’s actually a Bob Knight quote. It was a motivating force because, when you stop and think about it, very seldom in our lifetime does our country ever come to us and say, “We need you.” It’s always the exact opposite, that we’re looking for something from the government. I felt that this was a unique opportunity, that the country was basically saying to the team and the coaches that we need you, and we need you to bring back a gold medal for us. This was a unique opportunity for us to serve our country.

I can remember vividly, in the months leading up to the ’84 Olympics in Los Angeles. I would envision that we were going to win the gold medal, and we were going to be standing there and hear the National Anthem play and to be at attention and look at the American Flag. I know that we’re in a different era now and a different time, but the reality was this is how I felt. I grew up in an era where my grandma taught America, right or wrong, America. Whatever the problems are, we’ll work them out, but, at the end of the day, we’re an American. I envision what it was going to be like when we stood there and received the gold medal and heard the National Anthem play, and you had the satisfaction of saying to yourself, “Mission accomplished.” It was one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had in my life, to be in a position where you could represent your country, and you could have a good feeling about it. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of people who will question why I felt that way, but that’s the truth of the matter.

Tim Ferriss: I was chatting with Ryan, or texting with Ryan last night, after he had dinner with you. He was peppering me with suggested topics, which, of course, we have an overabundance of. One of the bullets here in the notes in front of me refers to you leading the practice team to beating the dream team. Can you elaborate on this, please?

George Raveling: What happened was, for the first time in the history of the Olympics, the United States decided not to use college players anymore but to use professional players. That year, the Olympics were in Barcelona, and Chuck Daly was the head coach of the U.S. team. Of course, you had the – I think the only player on that dream team that’s not in the basketball hall of fame right now is Christian Laettner. He was the only college player on the roster. Of course, you had Magic, Bird, Barkley, Jordan – you name it. Chuck and I had been lifelong friends, back from when he was an assistant at Duke, and I was an assistant at Villanova. He was a Pennsylvanian, grew up in Punxsutawney. We had a long-standing authentic relationship. Chuck decided that they wanted to put together a group of college players that would scrimmage the dream team twice a day in practice. He suggested that I be the coach, and so C.M. Newton, who was head of USA basketball at the time, called me and asked if I would be the coach of the team. I said, “I’d love to do it.” They picked the players and Bobby Hurley and Chris Webber and a bunch of guys. We only had eight players. Roy Williams and I coached the team together. The first night that we had the scrimmage, I think the NBA guys basically looked at us as this is just a scrimmage of college guys. They didn’t really take it as serious as we did. The college guys, we were all fired up. This is a great opportunity. We scrimmaged for 37 minutes, and we actually beat them in the scrimmage. The word got out, and they were livid.

One thing that happened, I picked one of my managers from USC to be a manager for our team. When the practice ended, Larry Bird came up to me and he said, “Coach, can you do me a favor?” I said, “Sure. What?” He says, “Can you leave a van and a driver here or have somebody come back and pick me up?” I said, “Oh, I’ll leave one of the managers with a van.” Larry hadn’t shot the ball that well in the scrimmage, so he stayed and shot for an hour and 15 minutes straight. I told Dennis Johnson, who was the manager, I said, “When you get back, let me know you’re back.” When he came to my room, I said, “How did it go?” He said, “Coach, unbelievable. He just continually shot. He only took one water break. He was drenched head to toe.” He looked at me and he said, “Coach, if Larry Bird is doing this, what should the average guy be doing?” It was just a great experience. The next time we scrimmaged, they were fired up. I’m embarrassed to say this. We didn’t score a field goal for the first nine minutes. They were on us like white on rice, man. They said, “Oh, you guys think you’re hot S. We’re going to show you.” Jordan was leading the pack. They were determined. “Okay, you guys think you’re good. We’re going to show you what good is.”

Tim Ferriss: I want to talk about coaching a team. I think the way I’d like to get into this is by asking if you could, maybe, mention just one coach that you have been impressed by, alive or dead, past, present – doesn’t matter. What impressed you about them?

George Raveling: Oh, I would say two coaches who are – or I’d actually have to say three. Three coaches who have had an immense impact on me as a person, as a coach, my life would be Bob Knight, John Thompson, and Lefty Driesell. Lefty Driesell, I was his assistant at the University of Maryland. He was the one who fueled my passion for reading. He was the one who taught me that you don’t just read the sports section. He actually got me into a system that I still use. When I go to the newspaper now, the last section of the newspaper that I read is sports. That’s something that started back with him. He also told me the importance of reading the editorial page every day. The other thing was he wanted us to be the best dressed staff in the ACC. I picked up a lot of habits from Lefty that I have to this day.

John Thompson and I grew up in the same neighborhood in Washington, D.C. He’s had so much influence on the way I think, the way I act, what I believe. The one thing I learned with John is, when you’re around John, your talk to listen ratio should be 90 percent, and the talk should be 10 because, if it’s any other way, you’ve lost a great opportunity to learn and to be taught. John is a maverick thinker, and he was a maverick thinker before the connotation even existed.

The other person, Bob Knight, just had an absolutely amazing impact on – I was at a summer league game as an assistant coach at Villanova. At halftime, I go down to look at the scoreboard, and a guy taps me on the back. I turn, and he says, “Hi, my name’s Bob Knight, assistant at West Point.” I say, “Hi, George Raveling, assistant at Villanova.” From that moment on, we had a lifelong friendship. That’s how I ended up being the assistant coach on the ’84 Olympic team. Maybe Bob’s greatest gift to me was that he saw something in me that I never saw in myself. He was relentless to make sure that I achieved it. He said to me, “George, if we’re going to survive in this profession, we have to become an expert in some phase of the game, and you need to make yourself an expert in some phase of the game.” Bob’s was defense, and so he said to me, “I know you speak a lot of clinics on rebound, and that’s your niche. You’ve got to make yourself the foremost authority on the globe on rebounding.” He stayed after me on the phone. He called me one night. He said, “Hey, I looked it up in the Library of Congress.” There’s no book in the Library of Congress on rebounding, so you’ve got a unique opportunity.” I still didn’t believe I could actually write a book, and so Bob just stayed after me.

Finally, he said, “Write an outline and send it to me.” Of course, we didn’t have the technology we do, so I wrote an outline and sent it to him. Little did I know, he was setting me up to walk me through this. The moral of the story is I end up writing a book called – one I wrote was Rebounder’s Workshop, and the other one was called War on the Boards. That was the thesis and the manuscript for The Art of Rebounding. I’ve probably sold 100,000, copies over the years, of the book. Without Bob staying on me and being relentless and never accepting no, he helped me find something inside of me that I would’ve never, in my life, ever thought I would’ve written a book or even had the talent to do. He saw something in me that other people didn’t see in me.

That’s been a lot of the relevance for this magical carpet ride I’ve had, people seeing something in me that I didn’t see in myself. My grandma seeing something in me. Sister Delores seeing something in me. My high school coach seeing something in me. My college coach, Al Severance, he said something, Tim, that I’ll never ever forget. One time, he was talking to us, and he said, “The first sign of intelligence is to admit that you don’t know something.” Here I am, 80 years old, and I still remember him telling me this. I’ve learned so much. Everyone, including yourself, have touched my life in a productive way. If I don’t read Tools of the Titan, I don’t learn about mastermind. If I don’t learn about mastermind, I kill myself in 20 different relationships. I learn things about people that I didn’t know. It’s just been a blessed journey, that you meet people who are willing to help you continue to grow, especially at 80 years old.

You think, Tim, at 60 years old, the thought process in America was you retire. You get a gold watch. You live happily ever after. Between 60 and 80, it might be the most productive years of my life. I’ve grown so much. I was 63 years old, and I get appointed global director of sports marketing at Nike – at 63 years old. You defy the odds. Ex basketball coach, black, no business background, and you’re running a Fortune 500 category. I can remember many times thinking – that all of four years I spent at Villanova, I was an economics major. At that time, they didn’t call it a business school. They called it school of commerce and finance. I graduate with a degree in economics, and I used to think, “God, this is a waste of time. I learned all this. I’m never going to use it.” Little did I know that, at 63 years old, all of this was going to come back to fruition, and it was going to be necessary. It did pay off.

Tim Ferriss: As I understand it, the job offer, or at least your beginning with Nike, became through what seemed like a prank call from Phil Knight – at least that’s what I’ve read, is that you got the –

George Raveling: Actually, it started long before that. When I went to work full time for them, I get this call – and then we’ll go back to the origin. I get a call one night, and I answer the phone, and the voice says, “This is Phillip Knight,” and that’s basically how Phil always addresses it. To this day, if he calls, he’s going to say, “This is Phillip Knight.” Momentarily, I thought, “Ah, this is somebody putting me on.” Then I said, “Is it really?” He said, “Yeah, it’s Phillip Knight.” I said, “What’s going on?” He said, “I just called to see if you’d be interested in coming to work for Nike full time.” We talked it through, and I said, “Well, what do you want me to do?” He said, “We want you to come and –,” at that time, Nike had this camp called The All-American Camp. He said, “I want you to upgrade it, but I want to figure out how we can reach younger kids.” I still have, somewhere in storage, the original presentation that I made to him to start a grassroots program. At that time, there was no such thing as a grassroots program. That was the start of me working full time.

I actually started at Nike in 1978. Nike decides they’re going to get college coaches to endorse their product. They fly 11 of us to Las Vegas. Jerry Tarkanian was one. Jimmy Valvano and so forth. John Slusher Sr. and Phil came and made the presentation to us. Essentially, they would give you a compensation and all the product for you and your team. This was in ’78. I was sitting beside Bill Foster, who was coaching at Clemson at the time. The second day, we had to make a decision. Part of it was they give you a compensation. The compensation was $5,000.00 in cash or $5,000.00 in stock. The impediment – really wasn’t, as it turned out – was, if you took the stock, you couldn’t cash the stock for five years. At that time, the stock was about $6.00. Bill Foster leans over to me, and he says, “George, take the stock. Take the stock. I’ll explain to you later. All these other idiots are going to take the cash.” The five-year thing ended up being a disciplinary factor because, even if you wanted to, you couldn’t cash it. Then, when the five years passed, Bill called me about six months before the due date, and he said, “Listen to me again, don’t cash the stock. Don’t cash the stock. Just let it roll over. You got this far without it. You can get the rest of the way.” Anyway, by the time I finally sold the stock, it was up to $46.00 and it split.

To go back, that year, in ’78, Nike sends Bill Foster, myself, and Eddie Sutton to China for a month to do clinics. We went to Peking, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. At that time, Beijing did not exist. Subsequently, Peking was replaced with Beijing. At that time, it was called Peking. We went and did these clinics in China. At that time, it was highly communistic. Everybody dressed the same. The women dressed with white blouse and olive green slacks. The men had these little Nehru jackets, olive green, and they had a cap with the red star on it. They could speak no English. One day, we’re in Tiananmen Square, and Bill Foster’s wife had a Polaroid camera, and she was taking pictures. She took a picture of a group of Chinese people standing together conversating. When it develops, she showed it to them, and they were – we might as well have been for the moon. We couldn’t tell what they were saying, but they were so excited, pointing, and then more people came. They had no idea how this was transpiring.

Here’s an interesting story, Tim: A Chinese gentleman steps out of the crowd, and he comes up to me, and he picks my hand up, and he rubs my hand, and looks at his fingers. It was apparent he had never seen a black person before in his life, and he thought it was paint.

Tim Ferriss: Wow.

George Raveling: He was rubbing to see if the paint – because he couldn’t figure it out. He had never seen a black person before. It’s a story that’s left an indelible mark on my stay. That was, maybe, one of the great trips of all time. I’ll tell you one other quick story. We’re doing a clinic in Shanghai, and the interpreter comes up to me at the end of my lecture. He says, “Coach, this coach would like to borrow your rebounding book, and he’ll bring it back in the morning.” I thought he just wanted to take it home and read it. The next morning, he comes back. Sure enough, he gives me the book, and he’s got 25 copies of it. Overnight, he printed 25 copies of the book and gave me mine back.

Tim Ferriss: Welcome to China. You started working full time at Nike at age 63. Is that right?

George Raveling: Well, no. I actually took the global sports marketing job at 63. I actually had put in about eight years in developing this grassroots program at Nike. Then, subsequently, I got this opportunity to be the global director.

Tim Ferriss: You mentioned a familiar name to a lot of people, Michael Jordan, earlier from the dream team. I’ve seen a photograph of you with a very young Michael Jordan. I’ve read that you were the one who actually convinced Michael Jordan to sign with Nike, or certainly were one of the driving factors there. Could you share that story?

George Raveling: Yeah, I don’t know if I would go that far, but I was a conduit. Early at the Olympic trials, Sonny Vaccaro, who was then heading up Nike basketball, and Phil had come to me, and they said, “Hey, can you see if you can get Michael to visit with us?” We were still training in Bloomington. I brought the subject up with Michael. What happened was – I don’t know exactly how this happened, but Vern Fleming, who was on a team from Georgia, Patrick Ewing, myself, and Michael, we were inseparable the whole Olympic experience. We went everywhere together. We were like the four amigos. We’d go to McDonald’s. We’d go to the movies, the shopping mall. Wherever we did, it was always the four of us. I developed a really unique relationship with Michael.

From time to time, I would bring it up to him about the Nike thing without being overbearing. In the very beginning, he said, “Coach, I have no interest in Nike. I’m an Adidas guy. I’m going to go to Adidas. I don’t even like their product.” Every now and then, I would bring it up, and he would say, “Coach, I’m telling you, man, it’s a waste of time. I’m going to be an Adidas guy.” Now, we’re at the Olympics, and we get through pool play, and we have a day off. Sonny Vaccaro calls, and he says, “Hey, can you bring Michael – get him to come over and met me at Tony Roma’s in Santa Monica?” I bring it up to Michael, and I think, just out of frustration, to get rid of me, he said, “Okay, I’ll go.” We’re going over in the car, and he said, “Coach, I’m only doing this for you. It’s a waste of time. Whatever Nike offers me, I’m going to take it to Adidas, and, if Adidas matches it, that’s it. That’s who I want to be.”

To fast forward, him and his mom and dad and David Falk come up to Nike for a visit. The meeting is successful, but it didn’t move the needle because Michael was still convinced that he should go with Under Armour, but part of the Nike deal –

Tim Ferriss: Or Adidas.

George Raveling: I’m sorry, with Adidas. Part of the deal was, at that time, there was no such thing as a signature shoe, and so David Falk came up with this idea of Air Jordan. Nike would make a signature shoe that would be marketed under this logo of Air Jordan. The meeting goes well. We think we’ve got a shot. True to his word, Michael took the deal back – or David took the deal back to Adidas, and Adidas passed on it because of the signature shoe thing because they didn’t feel there was any market for it. They still made him an offer, but they wouldn’t go on the signature shoe thing. If I remember correctly, Michael was getting $0.05 of royalty on the shoe. At any rate, Michael ends up accepting the offer from Nike. As they say on television, the rest was history.

Here we are today, and Jordan Brand is a business of its own. There’s Nike, Inc., and then you have these subsets – Hurley, Converse, Jordan Brand. Jordan Brand is the second biggest seller of basketball shoes in the world – basketball shoes – other than Nike, Inc. They sell more basketball shoes than Under Armour or Adidas. Here, you go back to ’84, and, here today, he sits at the end of one of the most profitable sport footwear companies in the world. What’s interesting, which historians will put in their rightful place one day, is Nike was the first Fortune 500 company to take a black male and make them the face of their company. I’m sure you’re familiar with the Spike Lee ads and all those things like that. There was a huge risk in some ways. One time, I mentioned to Michael about Nike taking a risk, and so he quickly came back to me. He says, “Nike took a risk? Hey, I took a risk, too.”

Tim Ferriss: You’ve spent so much time teaching and guiding and cultivating players and people who work for you and the people around you. I had read – and please feel free to correct this – that you’ve said the most important conversation is the one you have with yourself.

George Raveling: Right.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Could you elaborate on that, please? Because I think that self-talk is – and I’m not sure that’s what you’re referring to – so, so terribly important. I’d love to hear you just elaborate on that.

George Raveling: The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that the conversation that you have every day with yourself – as you characterize it, self-talk – is so vital. It’s far more important than the conversations you have with those around you. The best part about the conversation with yourself is you’re in total control of that conversation. You can craft the conversation any way you want to. I try to have at least 90 percent of the conversations that I have with myself, which I have two or three times a day, that it’s positive self-talk.

If I start to linger on to something negative, then what I’ll do is I’ll immediately deal with it and discount it. For example – since I’m Catholic, I’ll make this confession – this morning, when I got up, your reputation’s so impeccable that I was – I got up at 5:00. I’m really nervous. I’m thinking to myself, “God, what if I do a bad job. I’ll be so embarrassed.” The minute I started thinking that, I said, “Nope, that’s not it. Get fired up, man. You’re going to do it.” I’m in the bathroom, and I’m doing this motivational talk for myself to eradicate any doubt that I have. I keep saying to myself, “You have to go in there. You have to give them your best shot. You can do it.” I’m getting myself fired up for it.

Tim Ferriss: And this is out loud?

George Raveling: Yeah, because I really spend as much time as – probably, at least – I wouldn’t say probably. Once a day, I’ll find an hour to just go someplace and sit by myself, and all I’ll do is take a notebook and a pen in front of me, and I’ll just sit there and think. Whatever comes into my mind – and then I start to fixate on those things. Or I’ll write down notes as a result of something that I think, or I’ll write out a strategy. For example, the way I govern my day, Tim, is I get up in the morning, and I put my two feet beside the bed, and I say to myself, “Okay, George, you only have two choices. These are the only two choices that you have, and you have to make one. The two choices are to be happy or to be very happy.” There’s no other choice. Then I start to plan out my day. I have these points of focus. Energy management, time management, environmental management, productivity. To me, productivity is a byproduct of the other three. How do I manage my energy every day so I can be at maximum efficiency?

One of the things I try to do is declutter my mind. I won’t do anymore than four things a day. It reverts back to something one of the presidents at Nike, Charlie Denson, said one time in a leadership meeting. He said, “Let me ask you guys this: Would we better off doing 25 things good, or would we be better off doing six things great?” To me, to simplify my day, I will not do more than four things. I try to limit the meetings to two. If it’s two, one of them is usually a breakfast meeting. When I go into the office, I have a total commitment, once I get into the office, to be totally focused on business matter, try to be as disciplined as I can – not to get on the telephone – and also to meet with the two people that work with me. We meet every single day, and we talk as a team because I want us to function as a team. I want each person’s opinion to be valued. If one person happens to be 50 years younger than me, so what? Their opinion is valuable to me. I respect everyone’s knowledge. I think to myself, “They know something that I don’t know.” I want to value their opinion. We meet every day as a staff. We talk about things. It helps me grow, and it keeps my day simplified.

I try to, once a week, have a personal audit. I go back through the week and audit my week and make course corrections along the way. That’s when I really get into the self-talk part, is having these little mental audits that my life’s not just going on and on and on. I try to evaluate, am I making progress? What am I doing that’s good? What am I doing that’s not working? And then make those course corrections. At 80 years old, I try to hold myself to the most severe standards.

I just despise the idea of retirement. I think that it’s the biggest force that’s ever been predicated on us is this idea of retirement because the first thing that happens, you retire physically, and then you retire mentally, and then you’re just taking up residence in society. I don’t ever want to be a resident of society. I want to be a contributor to society.

Tim Ferriss: Well, you seem like you’re just getting warmed up. You certainly have lots of energy. What are you most excited about these days and working on?

George Raveling: Well, what I get most excited about is just – when you’re 80 years old, you damn sure better be excited that you wake up the next morning and you have a growth opportunity. I’m still trying to understand, like most of us, what the future is going to be like, and how can I get to the future first? What’s the future going to be like? I read a lot of books and talk to a lot of people, but I don’t know if anybody can really tell you what the world’s going to be like five years from now. Not ten years from now but five years from now. We’re in a society where it behooves all of us to be comfortable with change and to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Tim Ferriss: If you could, metaphorically speaking, put anything on a billboard – not commercial but a message, a quote, a word, a question, somebody else’s quote – could be anything – to get out to millions or billions or people, what type of message or word or quote or anything might you put on that billboard?

George Raveling: I would say, if I could put up a billboard and a message to people, the quote would be, if it is to be, it’s up to me because, at the end of the day, each of us have an individual responsibility to ourselves and to our society to figure out ways to be positive difference makers. It all starts in life. I’m fine just reminding myself that nobody’s going to row your boat but you. You’ve got to get in, and you’ve got to row your boat to the other side of the lake. I would remind people, as I said, if it is to be, it’s up to me. That’s something that I had on my office door. I had a big sign at Washington State. I had it on my office door. It’s something that I’ve tried to make an indelible mark on my brain that it’s up to me. Change is about – the most authentic change takes place within yourself.

Often times, in life, Tim, as you know, the most important person you ever get to lead is yourself. If you can’t lead yourself, how are you going to lead other people? I would like to challenge people to start to look within before they look out, look within. What are the things that I can do to be a positive change maker in my life and in the life of others? When we talk about being a positive change maker, the thought process is this is about trying to change society. I hear people always say, “Do something that’ll change the world.” Well, if you want to do something that’s going to change the world, you change first.” If everybody started to feel that way, we’d have this huge movement of change that would be authentic.

Tim Ferriss: Hear, hear. I’m getting all fired up. You’re good at that, coach. I want to be respectful of your time, so I think we’re going to wrap up shortly here. Is there anything else you’d like to share, any other parting words? Certainly, people can find you @GeorgeRaveling on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. Website: I encourage everybody to check it out. Is there anything else that you’d like to recommend to people?

George Raveling: You just got me off the hook because all my youthful advisors said, “Coach, make sure you tell people how to stay in touch with you.” Technology has helped me create a platform of sharing, to try to share – one thing my grandma said to me one time – she was correcting me, and I was a little smart alecy. She looked at me in a stern way, and she said, “Boy, let me tell you something. I know where the potholes are in life, and, maybe, if you listen to me, I can help you avoid stepping into them.” At 80 years old, I think of my grandma, and I say, “Hey, I know where a lot of the potholes are in life, and maybe I can tell you where they are and share my life experiences with you so that you don’t have to step into those potholes.” That’s what I try to do is to share – an old guy told me one time, “Nothing in life is of any value unless you can share it with other people.” That is the essence of me at 80 years old. What is it that I have that I can share with others, or what can I give away?

I don’t even know if I said this to my wife yet, so you’re going to be the beneficiary of a movement. I now have committed that I’m going to try to give away most of my personal belongings. I’m going to give away my clothes. My books, I won’t. I’m trying to give away as much as stuff as I can to simplify my life. I can only wear one pair of shoes. I can only wear one pair of underwear. I don’t need all these things. I’m going to rid myself of all of these material things that I thought were important at 80 years old. The money’s not that – I learned money’s not that important. Collecting things are not that important. How you dress – all those things become what I call a surrender. Someone tells you what time to get up in the morning, what time to go to bed, what to eat, what to dress, how to act. We end up being prisoners of someone else’s expectations. I want to live the whatever time I have left, and I want to – as Martin Luther King said, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last.” I just want to be free of all these fences that society has put up around me. I want to try to find out, where are my outer limits? Once you take down the fences, you allow a person to seek their outer limits, and that’s what I’m trying to do at 80 years old is to figure out where my outer limits are and to keep reaching for them.

Tim Ferriss: Well, coach, I hope to have many more conversations with you.

George Raveling: Thank you.

Tim Ferriss: Thank you so much, sir.

George Raveling: Thank you.

Tim Ferriss: May you be around for at least another 80 and what a gift of a conversation.

George Raveling: Thank you. I appreciate you giving me the time.

Tim Ferriss: For everybody listening, for links to everything we talked about – certainly where you can find Coach Raveling online and learn what he’s up to, in edition to the books that we discussed and everything else, you can find all of that linked in the show notes at What a ride. To everybody out there, until next time, thank you for listening.

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Coach George Raveling — A Legend on Sports, Business, and The Great Game of Life (#332)


“I’ve always had this theory that, if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll always get what you want.” — George Raveling

Coach George Raveling (@GeorgeRaveling) is an 80-year-old living legend and Nike’s former Director of International Basketball. Coach Raveling was the first African American head basketball coach in the PAC-8 (now PAC-12), and he is often referred to as the “Human Google.”

Coach Raveling has held head coaching jobs at Washington State, The University of Iowa, and USC. Following a prolific basketball coaching career, he joined Nike at the request of Phil Knight, where he played an integral role in signing a reluctant Michael Jordan. He’s also been inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as well as the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

In this episode we cover a lot of things including how he came to possess the original copy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, how his practice team ended up beating the 1984 US Olympic Dream Team in basketball, and much, much more!

I hope you’ll emerge from this conversation walking on air as I did!


#332: Coach George Raveling — A Legend on Sports, Business, and The Great Game of Life

Want to hear a podcast featuring mutual friend Ryan Holiday? — In this episode, we discuss the “big three” Stoics, how Stoicism applies to the modern world, and how to improve your decision-making when stakes are high (stream below or right-click here to download):

This podcast is brought to you by Audible. I have used Audible for years, and I love audiobooks. I have a few to recommend:

  1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
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  3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

All you need to do to get your free 30-day Audible trial is visit Choose one of the above books, or choose any of the endless options they offer. That could be a book, a newspaper, a magazine, or even a class. It’s that easy. Go to or text TIM to 500500 to get started today.

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FreshBooks tells you when your clients have viewed your invoices, helps you customize your invoices, track your hours, automatically organize your receipts, have late payment reminders sent automatically and much more.

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Ann Miura-Ko

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Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Ann Miura-Ko (@annimaniac), one of the co-founders of Floodgate, who has been called “the most powerful woman in startups” by Forbes. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. With some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy!

Listen to the interview here or by selecting any of the options below.

#331: “Is That a World-Class Effort?”: The Story of Investor Ann Miura-Ko

Tim Ferriss: Hello, boys and girls. This is Tim Ferriss and welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferriss show. Hisashiburi dane. Every episode, it is my job to deconstruct world-class performers of different types. And that term “world-class” is going to come up again in this episode, so you can pay attention to the context. And, this particular conversation, I have with me Ann Miura-Ko who has been called “the most powerful woman in startups” by Forbes and is a lecturer in entrepreneurship at Stanford, the child of a rocket scientist at NASA – that’s a literal rocket scientist – and is a Palo Alto native and has been steeped in technology startups since she was a teenager. Prior to cofounding Floodgate, she worked at Charles River Ventures and McKinsey and Company. Some of her investments include Lyft, Ayasdi – I’m going to screw these up; I know it – Xamarin, Refinery29, JoyRun, TaskRabbit, and Modcloth. Given the success of her many investments, she was on the 2017 Midas List of top 100 venture capitalists, and, I just found out today back on 2018 elbowing her way to the top to steal the crown from her partner Mike Maples, Jr. – it’s all good spirited, Mike – and is known for so many other things. I’m going to skip some of them because we’re going to touch on the seeds of her many, many accomplishments in perhaps some of the first few minutes of the conversation. She has a BSEE – I hope I’m getting that right – from Yale and a PhD from Stanford in Math Modeling of Computer Security. She lives with her husband, three kids – ages ten, eight and six – very-well spaced – and one spoiled dog. Ann, welcome to the show.

Ann Miura-Ko: Thanks for having me.

Tim Ferriss: So, there are so many places we could start and I was hoping to humanize the ever-intimidating Ann Miura-Ko, which I may only partially succeed at doing. But, could we start with explaining why your brother used to introduce you or how he used to introduce you on stage?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yes. So, I had this brother, an older brother by exactly 2 years. We were born on the same day. And he was one of these guys who was so confident he knew that he wanted to study cars and airplanes from the time that I could remember him existing. And he was always confident with friends and he was also confident up on stage. And so, as any good Asian child would do, we played musical instruments. I played the piano, he played the violin and we would always have to perform. And, I was painfully, painfully shy. And so, I would get up on stage and I would refuse to speak and my mother knowing this wouldn’t let this get in the way of our performing. She would send my brother up on stage to help announce whatever I was playing. And I have this real clear memory of being in junior high and having this happen. My brother got up on stage and said, “This is Ann Miura. She’s going to be playing a Chopin nocturne and go.” And I looked over and I remembered thinking to myself like the mental dialogue that’s happening in a teenager’s mind, “This is totally ridiculous.” Because, I’m sitting there in front of a room full of people and I felt fine playing the piano, but I felt petrified speaking. And, that’s one of the clearest memories that I have of my brother and me and the difference that we had between the two of us.

Tim Ferriss: Why were you so shy or nervous about speaking?

Ann Miura-Ko: You know, I’ve always been an introvert. So, I think it comes probably directly from that, but I was also sort of a strange child I have to admit. I had a lot of different interests but I loved to do things by myself. And so, I wasn’t really that interested in talking to other people. Like, one of the first things my mom actually discovered about me when I was a little kid when I was two, I only spoke Japanese and we were living in Michigan. And I used to be this very hostile little child and I would walk by anyone speaking in English, and in Japanese I would say, “I wish you would leave.” My poor mom. My poor mom. And so she was like, “Oh, we really should socialize Ann with people who speak English. And we were living in Michigan, so there’s no shortage of these people.”

Tim Ferriss: Just to hit pause, do you still speak Japanese?

Ann Miura-Ko: I do. So, I speak Japanese to my parents.

Tim Ferriss: How do you say, “I wish you would leave” just for people who want to mutter that to people in the park or wherever they might be? Do you recall? How might you have said that as a kid? Do you have any idea?

Ann Miura-Ko: I think I might have said – let me think about it. [Speaks Japanese].

Tim Ferriss: That is aggressive. That’s really aggressive.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. You know, I was like, “You’re not welcome in this house.” Or, I think probably more likely it was [speaks Japanese], which is…

Tim Ferriss:   Right, right, right. Oh, wow! That’s even worse. Yeah.

Ann Miura-Ko: Right. But, it was always –

Tim Ferriss:   [Speaks Japanese] is like something that a drunken dad says.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. It’s kind of like, “Shut up.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. You’re really loud. You’re really irritated.

Ann Miura-Ko: But, like a little intransigent two-year-old saying that to a grownup speaking English in her home.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. I don’t want to take us too far off the rails. We may come back to that, okay? So, we were talking about you being introverted, and shy and weird. Yeah.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. But, I mean it was one of these things that I think really held me back. And I knew, actually, it was holding me back. The strange part, though, was my mom was recently talking to me about this. In a few year prior to that experience, when I’m in junior high and I’m on stage, I had actually done this other thing which was we had this summer school program where I would go to local community colleges, Foothill College. And all these schools around the area when they let out for summer, the students would go to this community college to take math classes and writing classes and whatnot. So, a lot of elementary school students to high school students would be at Foothill College. And so, my mom said, “You have to pick two classes.” And one class was a math class obviously and she said, “You can pick your second class.” And my brother picked a normal junior high school writing class. And I was in fifth grade at the time. So, ten years old and I picked a negotiations class. And it was not in the summer school program. It was an adult class.

Tim Ferriss:   Why did you pick that?

Ann Miura-Ko: And, I picked it because I remember the book was Getting To Yes. And my mom looked at me and she said, “Why did you pick this class?” And I said, “It’s because they’re teaching you how to get to yes, and I want to know how to get to yes.” And I have this incredible experience at this community college of having a class with I imagine they were probably 30- to 50-year-old adults taking this class. And they were probably the most patient, wonderful people. And we had this experience where you had certain supplies that you were given on pieces of paper and then you had to negotiate. You were on Mars and you had to negotiate supply lines and whatnot and create a real society. And then, the simulation, they’re taking seriously a 10-year-old kid who’s negotiating for supplies, and I remember taking that experience and feeling like I was taken seriously in that environment, but it was a great experience because it was a small class. It was like 20 people. And in that setting, I felt okay speaking up, but then on stage, I didn’t still. And so, it was sort of these small steps that felt like I was getting closer and closer to realizing, “Oh, I need to actually be able to speak up. I need to be able to say things in front of a large audience.” And so, there was this desire to face my fears.

Tim Ferriss: So, what was the next step after that? How did you go about facing the fear of speaking on stage?

Ann Miura-Ko: So, in high school, I get to high school and as every high school freshman is doing, they’re looking for different activities to participate in, and I decide to dive into speech and debate. And, speech and debate at this time at Palo Alto High School was not a very big activity. There were probably about 20 students on the team, and I found that I really enjoyed it. And, it was a really great group of students and then, not only from Palo Alto High School, but from the local community and I just fell in love with the idea that you could really, seriously get up in front of an audience and talk about really important issues even as a high school student. And so, I dove into that activity and was, frankly, terrible at it. I think freshman, sophomore year, I didn’t win any tournaments – didn’t even come close. And that was sort of the way, though, I decided I could face that fear.

Tim Ferriss: What kept you going? I mean, there’s the answer that or perhaps the potential answer you gave just a moment ago, which is you really enjoyed it and you loved it. But, what did you love about it? What did you enjoy so much that you were able to persist through failures over those first two years?

Ann Miura-Ko: You know, the first thing is just the people. You know, I reflect actually on the people that I met in speech and debate and they’re doing incredible things. We have just in my year alone – not in my team but in my local community – professors. One’s at Harvard in government. One’s in philosophy at University of Colorado. One woman is now on the morning show on NPR. We have several venture capitalists. It was just a really interesting group of people all in the same age group who wanted to talk about really interesting things. I also found that the actual activity itself challenged me in a way that I hadn’t been challenged before. So, I was really good at math and science and those things really came naturally to me. But, getting up on stage and speaking was not something that was natural to me. But, the piece that I did love that came very naturally was competition. And I’ve always been this way.

Tim Ferriss: No, I’m just chuckling because I would agree with that.

Ann Miura-Ko: Right? I love competition. You put in points on anything and I want more. I want more than the next person. And I remember the coaches that we had. We didn’t have teachers at our school who were able to coach. And so, we had to go across the street to Stanford and find students who were willing to coach. And these kids were 18 to 21 years old. So, they would pump us up by saying, “Hey, if you can get someone to cry in cross examination, I’ll buy you a slice of pizza.” And so, things like that were extraordinarily motivating and if you could be like logic and arguments could get you a step further. It was just something that even though I wasn’t good at it at the time, I just loved it. And I felt like if I could just do one more tournament, I’d become even better at it. And you would see that. Right? And so, that’s the thing that I loved.

Tim Ferriss: So, do you have any memory? This seems a very specific example that you gave of the crying and the pizza. Did that actually happened? Did you succeed at making someone cry in cross examination for a slice of pizza? Or was that just something that came –

Ann Miura-Ko: Oh, yeah.

Tim Ferriss: And so, please describe that.

Ann Miura-Ko: There were times that – I feel like I’m not succeeding in my desire to humanize me and make myself seem like less of a dragon lady.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, we’ll get there. We’ll get there. But, I want to hear this story.

Ann Miura-Ko: Oh, there several stories. So, there were points in times where I remember people would cry in that they would crumble in the middle of cross-examination a run out of the room crying. And my coach would see that and proudly bring me a slice of pizza after – this happened multiple times. This wasn’t a single tournament. And there were moments where they had courtesy points to. So, it wasn’t just about winning; it was also whether you were courteous during that. And there were rounds where I got zero courtesy points. And my coaches, they would ask why we got zero courtesy points just to really understand if we were just being mean. But a lot of times it was just because we were – and I was – particularly tenacious in cross-examination and even at the point where I had the person stumped, I would just keep going. I would keep going, keep going at it. And so, I remember at least four or five occasions where someone cried and left the room before the round was over.

Tim Ferriss: So, this was like the Cobra Kai of debating – that team from Karate Kid.

Ann Miura-Ko: It is. My six-year-old at one point right before kindergarten said, “Hey Mama. I can make people cry just with my words.” And I have to say it was like a really proud moment for me. And that I had to course correct and talk to him about that.

Tim Ferriss: Now, for someone who is wondering what I omitted from the bio that I had in front of me, you had two years of not doing well. And then in the bio, we have, “She placed first in the National Tournament of Champions and second in the state of California in high school.” And it goes on. I’ll mention one more thing – and was part of a five-person team at Yale that competed in the RoboCup competition in Paris, France. Alright. Let’s focus on the debating. So, how did you go from Miss Flub with not succeeding in debating to getting good at debating?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah, this is where I think the love of the game has to…

Tim Ferriss: Were your parents supportive through all of these early trials and tribulations?

Ann Miura-Ko: No. No. So, you have to remember I come from very traditional Japanese parents who really wanted me to get into a great university. And my mom at one point right after sophomore year looks at my record. And my parents were incredibly supportive. They would go and judge these tournaments every single week and spent so much time doing it – driving us all over the state. And my parents pulled me aside and said, “You know, this isn’t working. You have a losing record in this activity that you’re doing and you appear to be doubling down on your time with respect to this. And if you want to get into a good college, you have to perform well in whatever you’re doing. It’s not just about effort. You have to have results.” And I remember my mom said to me, “I’ve heard fencing is a great way to get into an Ivy League college.” And I remember looking at her and I was like, “How is it possible that she’s my mother? She clearly does not know anything about my athletic abilities if she’s suggesting that a move into fencing at this moment.” And so, I said to them, “Point taken. Give me the summer and I’m going to just work on it.” And this was back before the Internet. So, working on it meant I was at Stanford, Green Library, reading philosophy books and reading articles about – I think they have 12 topics – 12 possible topics that they’re going to pull from for the next year and I just studied those topics. I lived in the library.

And then, I emerged that year to start competing and when they announced that first topic, I knew that topic cold and then I could write my cases really quickly. I had already done all this research and I remember going into my very, very first round and I had this deal with my parents. If I didn’t win one of my first two tournaments, or at least place, then I would quit. And I had this distinct impression walking into my very first round of debate that fall and feeling as I looked across at my opponent that there was no way that they could have out-prepared me. And so, I knew that whatever they said I would have five arguments against. And it was this incredible knowledge that it’s not that you could be lucky and turn you luck around. You have to make your own luck. And for me, that was a profound lesson because I placed in that tournament, and I placed in the next tournament and it just never stopped after that. And I had a losing record all through my freshman and sophomore year and it’s like I turned it around junior year very suddenly. And the main different was that I was willing to outwork and outdo every competitor who walked in through that door.

Tim Ferriss: For people who don’t know the format – and I’ll be honest. I’ve been surrounded by – not surrounded by, but certainly in the same universities and so on where debate teams existed but I’ve never seen a debate competition. What is the format?

Ann Miura-Ko: So, it’s a bunch of nerdy kids dressed in suits holding briefcases. And then, maybe that’s changed, but that’s what it was back then. And then, you have a resolution that’s been announced nationwide and that resolution generally has some philosophical elements to it. This is also Lincoln-Douglas style of debate.

Tim Ferriss: What is that mean if you don’t mind?

Ann Miura-Ko: So, it’s one person against one person. So, it’s individual and it’s value-based. And so, you’re really debating philosophy. So, an example of one debate that we did, the principal of majority rule ought to be valued above the principle of minority rights. Or, resolve that education is a privilege and not a right. So, all of these debates are really surrounding not a specific policy, but it has some application in the real world. And what you’re trying to debate is a philosophical underpinning behind that statement. And what I loved about debate was that you were actually forced to debate both sides. So, you had to have cases ready for both the affirmative and the negative. So, pro the resolution and against the resolution. And the format is the affirmative goes up and talks about this resolution and says all the reasons that they support it and then there’s a short cross-examination where the negative then cross-examines the affirmative, ask questions of the affirmative, then the negative gets up and talks about all the reasons that they are against the resolution and then goes point by point against all of the arguments that the affirmative made and talks about why they’re wrong. And then there’s another cross-examination of the affirmative against the negative. And then the affirmative gets up for a rebuttal, the negative gets up for rebuttal and then the affirmative does closing arguments. It’s sort of shorter and shorter speeches towards the end.

Tim Ferriss: And how is the outcome determined? What are the parameters?

Ann Miura-Ko: So, it really depends on the tournament. Sometimes –

Tim Ferriss: Aside from courtesy?

Ann Miura-Ko: Courtesy points. It’s all about courtesy. There were two different types of tournaments actually when I was debating. One was where you had parent judgments and that I would say really the style of speaking, your flair really would come into play, your sense of humor; it wasn’t really just a line-by-line argument. There were also places where you would go where college students were the judges or experienced coaches were the judges and that’s where really the line-by-line logic becomes much more important than just the style of your debate. So, it really depends on your audience and you had to read the audience correctly.

Tim Ferriss: And did they just then say, “I choose A or B?” Or do they have to rank sort of Olympic style 1 to 10 in some fashion?

Ann Miura-Ko: So, you only have two debaters that you’re judging and you vote for one of them. And in some of the rounds you have just the single judge and then in another, in the breakout rounds, in semifinals, you might have a panel of judges. And they can’t confer. They’re just sort of voting individually on who wins.

Tim Ferriss: So, you may be at a point now with debate and argument that you’ve reached the sort of unconscious competency phase in the sense that and skill acquisition, one framework that one could use to think about skill acquisition issue go from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence to conscious competence then unconscious competence. So, I don’t know if this question is going to be a good one, but I’ll try it anyway. For people who want to get that are at debating and structuring arguments and so on, are there any books or approaches or resources – anything –exercises that you would suggest?

Ann Miura-Ko: Well, Getting To Yes I thought was always really good. I actually found the philosophical texts to be extraordinarily informative. So, anything where you have that Socratic method in a book I found really a great way of learning how people debate the greatest philosophers – Aristotle and Socrates. Even when you get into more modern literature around justice, you have people like John Rawls writing. That is actually a dialogue and a real logical debate. And I always found those examples to be really great to read how people argue philosophical constructs. You know, presidential debates, to be honest, in politics aren’t real debates because it’s two ships passing in the night and you don’t have real conflict between people. I’ve also found the British parliamentary system, if you’ve ever had the chance to see that on – I think sometimes it’s on C-SPAN – that’s actually an interesting observation of a real-world debate as well because they will actually engage in dialogue around policy and it’s not just ad hominem attacks.

I found those sort of real-world examples much more powerful than someone going sort of point by point in teaching you how to debate because I think the how is much more around how do you engage in the idea, how do you read and research both sides of an argument and what do you believe on both sides. And so, one way to do that would actually be to take a fairly controversial topic and then actually read a lot of literature on both sides of the argument, and then understand were actually the conflict happens. Are there definitions that people don’t agree on? Are the nuances that people haven’t thought about? Is there real conflict or are there two ships passing in the night? I think you could do that with even the gun control debate you do that with immigration or you could do that with abortion and really understand both sides of an argument and that’s a way to engage in the process of debate I believe.

Tim Ferriss: And if we’re reflecting back on your Cobra Kai training for slices of pizza, I’d be really curious to know if there any particular approaches or questions or playbooks that you find very useful in a heated argument. And I’ll give you some hypotheticals, right? Let’s say that you are on stage at an event and you are doing the Q&A of the audience and you have someone who ends up being really hostile or attacks you. Or it could be someone on stage that’s just having a contentious debate of some type. I find it fascinating to see how people even with no real logical advantage shut down opponents. And I’m not saying that’s you in this case, but for instance, whatever people may think of our dear current president of the United States, I do find it fascinating how effective he has been at saying, “Check your facts.” And it just throws enough imbalance into the dynamic where someone’s like, “Wait a second. Maybe I did miss one piece of due diligence,” that they’re on their heels and it opens up a window and creates sort of an illusion of them being stymied that is really advantageous. I’m like, “”Wow!” I mean, it’s kind of gross on one level, but it’s also kind of brilliant.

And also I have a lot of lawyers in my family and so one thing that they’ll do – not to say they all love arguing, but a lot of them do.” And you’ll say something and they will go, “So, let me just get this straight so I understand. You’re saying that X.” And they’ll kind of take your argument and inch a little closer to absurdity but just subtly enough that you’ll say, “Yeah, that’s about right.” And they’ll say, “Okay. So really what you mean is X, right?” And they start to edge you over before they even counter with an argument to make you contradict yourself or kind of seem ridiculous. And then, they just have to kind of finish you off. But I’ve never taken debate. But I do find this really practical and really interesting. So, it’s a long-winded way of introing, but what are your thoughts on any of that?

Ann Miura-Ko: So, it’s funny. My husband said to me in the past – and this is a lesson that I continue to try to learn and relearn – is that life is not a debate. And you know what he’s saying – and it’s funny. He was a debater as well in college and in high school and we joke that I would still have beaten him in high school if we had actually gone head-to-head. But, I think it’s a really important point that life isn’t about winning the argument. And he’s also said to me in the past, “You know, it’s not about being right.” And I think that’s so true and it’s something that I’m always trying to really practice in life and I think the debater in me makes it really hard. The things that you’re pointing out or what’s important about it is that people have a tendency to have an inner dialogue where they’re right. And instead of really listening to the other person, they’re coming up with the next argument that proves that person wrong. And so, if you go back to what I really loved about debate what I felt like I got out of it, it was actually this ability to see both sides of an argument, to really delve into a topic and understand why the side that I actually naturally believed could actually be flipped on its head. And that was a really important skill to develop and I think that was so much more important to develop than the skill to argue for my side. Because, I think in the world today, what we don’t see enough of is empathy for people you might even disagree with. And we get stuck in our version of truth and what is right and we aren’t truth seekers any more as a result. We’re truth winners.

Tim Ferriss: That’s very true. Yeah. Very true.

Ann Miura-Ko: And that’s a piece that really makes me sad is that when people are like, “Oh, this debate skill is so great to have because now you can ram people with your ideas.” And I’ve never seen a situation where you shouted people down and convinced them you are right. And I’ve seen situations where by developing true empathy for the other side, you actually create bridges and you create commonality, and you create situations where you can actually work together. And I think that’s the piece that I would take away from my debate experience. I would say actually making the person cry in cross-examination probably is not the skill that I should be using in real life, although maybe sometimes I do.

Tim Ferriss: Just when you’re teaching your son the black magic… I should point out just so people don’t think I’m completely drinking the Kool-Aid of the bloodlust of this potential sport, although I do find it very, very fascinating as an insight into some parts of human nature, but the book you mentioned, Getting To Yes, which is the byproduct for the Harvard Negotiation Project as I recall, is not a book about proving you’re right. It’s a book about getting outcomes. And there is another book which I believe was co-authored by one of the co-authors of Getting To Yes called Getting Past No, which I also really, really like. And it is about – well, both of these books, any book really on negotiation is about achieving a very particular outcome or arriving at a desired result as opposed to proving that you’re right. So, I just want to underscore that because there’s a very real world difference as you noted between say debate and negotiation. And the toolkits are very similar perhaps in some respects, but in debate, you’re not going to have to think about – I wouldn’t imagine – something like the BATNA that they talk about in Getting To Yes – your best alternative to negotiated agreement – like walkaway power, what your options are. You don’t necessarily have to go to that thought process. But when you step into the real world, you’re not just trying to prove that you’re right. You trying to get someone to concede something and agree to a certain set of terms or a price or whatever it might be.

Or, amicably trying to break up with someone or get together with someone or have a divorce or whatever it might be. You’re really trying to manifest some type of outcome or damage control. It’s really, really different from being a truth winner. And the world-class term that I mentioned in the intro and I used a little bit of foreshadowing saying that I suspected it might come up a little bit later. So, in doing homework for this conversation, I read – and I don’t think this is a misquote – but that your dad even when I think you were going to be photocopying in the Dean’s office would remind you to be world-class. And he would ask you if you turned in a calculus assignment, “Is that a world-class effort?”

Ann Miura-Ko: Yes.

Tim Ferriss: Could you talk a little bit more about this? That wasn’t my experience growing up. My parents certainly encouraged me to do a good job, but tell us a little bit more about your dad in this particular case and how that was used.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. So, my dad grew up in Tokyo right at the tail end of World War II. And so, one of his earliest memories actually is just planes coming across Tokyo and the firebombs and he escaped to the countryside and then came back to Tokyo for high school. His father passed away when he was in college and he literally tutored kids – one guy was like the Prime Minister’s son – so that he can make enough cash to support his family. He had three other siblings. And he was one of these incredible academics. And so, he was at the top of his class in one of the famous high schools in Tokyo. He went to Tokyo University, also then went to Toshiba, which at the time was one of these great companies to work for. And then he ran into a friend who told him he was also a friend who was one of the top at his high school. He said, “Hey, there are great opportunities in America.” And this person had gone off to Princeton and gotten his PhD, and was at that time working in one of the great labs in IBM and was also becoming a professor. And my dad decided that he also wanted to go to the US. And he was the eldest son. And so, having a mother who was a widow and three siblings, he had to take care of them until he had saved up enough. All of his siblings were married and his mom had the courage to say, “You know, you can go. Go to the US.”

So, this is sort of the backdrop for who my dad is. He comes to the United States without speaking very much English, gets a PhD in mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, and then is in LA ultimately as a postdoc and an associate professor. My mom comes to marry him and they are the only family members living in the United States. So, really no support. So, my dad eventually makes his way out to NASA at Moffett Field. And my memories of him, he’s very engaged on academics. But he would wake up at five in the morning and go to work and he would bring back reams of paper and would continue working late into the night. He loved what he did. And so, when he turned to me on anything I ever did from the time I was a small, small child I would be writing something and if the handwriting wasn’t neat enough, he would say, “Hey, is this world-class?” And I remember thinking to myself, “You know, for a five-year-old, yes. This is world-class.” But, he would always push. He would always say, “Is this really the best that a five-year-old could ever do?” And it was a constant message.

And the story you’re pointing to is one when I was in college after living through a lifetime of this “is this world-class” question; I had a moment where I was starting my financial aid package included 10 hours of work study. And I had the opportunity to work in the office of the Dean of Engineering. And it was really funny to me at the time because I’m leaving to go to my first day of work, I called my parents and my dad gets on the phone and he says, “Make sure you do a world-class job.” And I thought my dad thought I was really doing something important in the office and in fact I was just photocopying. And I said to my dad, “I’m photocopying and filing. There’s no such thing as world-class there.” And he said, “Well, I’d still think about it.” And so I get to the office and I am actually just photocopying filing and I remember standing in front of this photocopy machine with a stack of papers thinking to myself, “What is world-class in this situation?” And I decided it was really crisp copies where you couldn’t tell that it was a photocopy. And so, I remember really trying to make the color match and everything was straight and I spent a lot of time on the details. And when I was filing things, I didn’t just hand write it. I got a label writer and made sure it was printed out on labels. And I really tried to do everything as well as I possibly could. And I remember I was getting doughnuts and I would make sure I got the fresh donuts instead of the ones that had been standing out in the basket for a while. So, every step of the way, it was, “What can I do to make this experience for the Dean or for his executive assistant a delight moment?”

And it was a real lesson for me because it was a case of real ownership. I felt so much ownership of the job I was doing even though from the outside, I think most people would have thought it was just sort of a grunt job. And I think that sort of, again, when I come back to you don’t just get luck; you create these opportunities for yourself to me was a real, real learning experience.

Tim Ferriss: Right. I mean, you’re looking at the potential precursors of luck and trying to set the conditions even though they might not always produce luck. You can increase the likelihood of it happening, which I think is a perfect segue to discussion about spring breaks. Don’t worry. This isn’t going anywhere tricky. This relates to shadowing. That will be my queue which might bring you back. So, all right. Where to lead into this? You were giving a man a tour around Yale. Who was this man? Why were you giving him a tour? What happened? And I actually don’t know all the details. I found two lines in a past interview and I was like, “You know, I want to dig into this because there’s more to the story. I know it.”

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. So, I’m a junior at the time at Yale and doing this office work. And the Dean of Engineering was his older gentlemen, Allan Bromley, and he had no idea who I was. And I’ve been working in his office for, I think, two years. But, he barely knew my name. But, he was just like this great – he’d worked under George Bush, Sr., he was a legendary physicist and I really looked up to this man. And so, one day he pokes his head out of the office and the executive assistant was out. And he said, “Who are you?” And I said, “I’m Ann Miura. I’m your student assistant in this office.” And he said, “Oh, I’ve heard of you. I need you to go and give this friend of mine a tour of the engineering facilities.” And he’s like, “I know you’ll do a good job. Sarah has told me you’re great.”

And so, I take this gentleman and I take him on a fairly thorough tour of the engineering facilities. And we just had a great conversation and it started off with, “Where are you from?” And I said I was from Palo Alto and it turned out this guy is from also from Palo Alto. In we’re just sort of talking about Palo Alto and the buildings that are around us and my growing up back in Palo Alto. And in the middle of it he said, “Hey, what are you doing for spring break?” And it just so happened I was going to go back home and visit my family. And he said, “Well, that’s great because I’m wondering if you want to come and shadow me and see what I do for living.” And in my complete self-centered moment of being a junior, I hadn’t asked this guy what he did for living. And I said, “Well, what you do for living?” And he said, “I’m the CEO of Hewlett-Packard.” And I remember thinking to myself, “I am such a moron.” And I said, “I think that would be amazing to be able to shadow you for a couple of weeks during spring break.” And so this man, Lou Platt, invites me to just shadow him in 1997 and I am going around literally – he didn’t have a driver. This was really just the Hewlett and Packard era of CEOs. He drove himself around in a Ford Focus. I remember this. We would go to different meetings and he took me around. And one of the days actually, Bill Gates came to make an announcement about .net with Hewlett-Packard.

And so, it was an incredible event that happened. I got to sit backstage and see everything that was happening. And Lou Platt that invited the photographer to come in and actually take a picture of me talking to Lou, and I didn’t really think about it. But after the fact, I get back to my dorm and Lou Platt has sent me a thank you letter saying, “Thanks for coming to visit. I thought you would enjoy these photographs.” And there are two photographs in there. I framed them in my office now. One is a picture of me sitting on the seat talking to Lou and then the second picture is Bill Gates sitting exactly in that spot that I was sitting in talking to Lou Platt. And, you know, to me, mentorship means so many different things. I’ve had so many different examples of mentors. But, to a junior in college who literally is a nobody, he was such an incredible example of mentorship. He never asked for my resume. He never asked for my GPA. He just sort of took this girl and said, “You know what? You have something and I see it. I’m going to show you something even greater.” And to me, it was such a gift. It was so incredible because I hadn’t even thought about my own personal potential ever. No one had ever described anything to me.

And I came back from that with my mind completely blown. I met Ann Livermore who was an executive and I’ve never seen a female executive in my entire life. And here’s someone who I can look at and see and I can see that people around her respect her. It was just a life-changing moment and it comes from that first comment from Dean Bromley who said, “I’ve heard of you. I heard you do a great job.” And that’s why the opportunities opened up.

Tim Ferriss: “You’re the woman responsible for my fresh donuts and crisp photocopies. I’ve heard good things.”

Ann Miura-Ko: Exactly.

Tim Ferriss: It’s the little things.

Ann Miura-Ko: It’s type- up filing labels.

Tim Ferriss: Now, I should note you don’t have to go too deep into this, but in a way, you were perfectly primed for doing a good job with your photocopying and labeling after spending was it summers Kanazawa in the stationary store? Am I making that up?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. No, my first job was literally helping my uncle and grandmother sell office supplies in Kanazawa, Japan at our store, Taikido.

Tim Ferriss: Taikido. And I’d never been to Kanazawa. For those people who don’t know, I used to live in Japan. My first time out of the US was a year in Japan as an exchange student which is a whole separate story. But, I never made it to Kanazawa until a few years ago. It’s gorgeous and it’s not that far away from Tokyo at all.

Ann Miura-Ko: No.

Tim Ferriss: But, it’s such a cute spot with so much to offer. I’m sorry. Go ahead.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah, it’s actually incredible because it’s one of the few cities in Japan that was protected by historians in the US. It did not get bombed in World War II because of some of the historic elements of the cities. So it’s almost like a smaller version of Kyoto and it has a historic Japanese garden called Kenrokuen.

Tim Ferriss:   Yeah. Kenrokuen is unbelievable. Unbelievable.

Ann Miura-Ko: It’s unbelievable. So, summers I would spend maybe two blocks away from Kenrokuen. So, it was an incredible set of summers. But yes, I used to man the cashier register at the office supply store. So I do my pens and notebooks and stamps like nobody’s business.

Tim Ferriss: Do you have any favorite go to – well, don’t worry. I’m not going to spend too much time on this. But do you have any favorite notebooks or pens or items of those types that you use today?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah, totally. So, on pens, I love the Juice Up 0.4.

Tim Ferriss: How do you spell Juice Up?

Ann Miura-Ko: Juice Up.

Tim Ferriss:   Oh, Juice Up. Okay.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. Juice Up 0.4. You can get them on Amazon. They’re super thin pens.

Tim Ferriss: 0.4. That’s a .4 mm or something?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. And then for notebooks, it’s the Nuuna. It’s N-U-U-N-A. It’s some European brand, but I like any notebook that has the dot matrix on it and the paper quality is really great.

Tim Ferriss: I see. Dot matrix. It’s not like graph paper, but there are perpendicular lines that are dotted.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yes. I’m very particular. I could go on and on.

Tim Ferriss: That appeals to the Dungeons & Dragons nerd in me – anything that resembles graph paper. So, the Juice Up 0.4 and the Nuuna – definitely anything European sounding with a repeating vowel I’ll pay 40 percent more for.

Ann Miura-Ko: Exactly. Maybe a hundred percent more.

Tim Ferriss: Maybe a hundred percent. You mentioned that you have these photographs in your office. I’m curious. Are you sitting in your office right now?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Alright. So, what else? I’m sure you have photographs of your family but outside of the usual suspects, what are other items that you have in your office that are important to you?

Ann Miura-Ko: Let’s see. I have the original Lyft pink mustache that used to go in the front of the cars, which I love. I have also a picture and a set of laser-etched metal plates that students gave to me that have sort of a word graph of all of the words that they ascribed to me.

Tim Ferriss: Students of what? What was the context of these students interacting with you and what are some of the words?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. So, I teach at Stanford. So after my PhD, what I realized was that I loved teaching more than anything else and so I stayed in contact with Tina Seelig and Tom Byers over at Stanford who run the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. And they’ve given me the opportunity to teach a few different classes, but the one I got these metal plates and photographs from was the class of 2013 Mayfield Fellows Group. And they have words like thunder lizard, bad ass, inspiring, mother… So, you know, it’s just really fun to see sort of what words they thought…

Tim Ferriss: What were you teaching these Mayfield Fellows?

Ann Miura-Ko: So, we were teaching the basic concepts behind leadership and entrepreneurship. And it’s sort of the first exposure that they get as juniors and seniors into really startup ecosystem. What does venture capital due within that ecosystem? What are the tough choices that you have to make as a leader within these types of organizations? What does growth look like in these types of organizations? So, it’s just sort of startup 101. But, what I love about it is it’s only 12 students and it goes for nine months. So, if you get to be involved in it, you get to really know some of the students. And I’ve been mentoring students and sometimes teaching some of these classes since 2008. And you get this whole arc of the career path of young people and I really love it. I think it’s just sort of you get to see students who start off as seniors and then they start their career. They might go to grad school, and then they go back and get a job, and then they get married and then I think one is now about to have a kid. So, you just sort of see this whole arc and it’s just about 10 years, 20 years behind where I was. And so, I get to see this incredible progress that the students make over time. It’s something that I love.

Tim Ferriss: Ann Miura-Ko – mother of thunder lizards a.k.a. mother of dragons. We’re going to come back to thunder lizards because there’s a whole lot wrapped around that, but I’m going to try to keep my brain somewhat focused here. Is there reading list for that class or do you recall anything that was on the recommended required reading list for that class?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. So, I’m starting a class today at Stanford for the new spring quarter and in this class, what we’re teaching is what I would call intelligent growth. It’s a little bit different from the Mayfield Fellows. But, my hypothesis and my belief is that just like fake news and politics, there is actually something that we would call fake growth.

Tim Ferriss: And lots of it.

Ann Miura-Ko: We’ve worshiped at the altar of growth for about 5 to 10 years now and what I’ve seen is that –

Tim Ferriss: And this is startup growth specifically.

Ann Miura-Ko: Specifically within startups, there’s so much that we see that is fake. And no one has ascribed actual adjectives to growth until now. And so, the class that I’m teaching to engineering students at Stanford is around what is actually intelligent growth. And so, you asked about the reading for it. It’s all around some of these case studies that we’ve seen. A great example of that to me is Qualtrics. We’re going to have Ryan Smith who is the CEO of Qualtrics come in and speak and I think he’s a great example because I think he was at $50 million in revenue before he raised a dime of venture capital money. And so as a result, he’s going to own an incredible piece of his company when it exits, and it will. And so, I love the capital efficiency with which he built his business. I also think one of my companies, Lyft, is a great example of having that kind of discipline early on and not just wasting venture capital dollars in the early days when they didn’t have product market fit. So, they spent two and half years working on this platform called Zimride knowing that they had to get the density in riders. And Zimride was a platform where you could find carpooling arrangements and was being sold to universities and companies. But we couldn’t get enough density to get transactions really moving fast.

And it was 2 ½ years before they launched Lyft. And in the first six weeks, you could start to see that there was real traction there. And it was only after they knew what they were doing with Lyft that they went and raised a large round with Founders Fund and then an even larger round with Andreessen Horowitz. And that story is really, really hacking value before you go out and hack growth is something that I don’t see often enough in Silicon Valley. So, it’s something that I’m continuing to seek and I love to see companies especially outside of Silicon Valley that do that. And when we come back to hunting thunder lizards, that’s what I’m looking for.

Tim Ferriss: When you mention the case studies, do you have written case studies that you’re using much like – I don’t know if Stanford uses these, but much like the Harvard business school case studies which are these kind of three-ring binder, 5-to-10 page cases that are published? Do you use those?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. So, the ones that we focused on, there’s a Harvard business case on Floodgate that you can purchase off of the Harvard Business Review website.

Tim Ferriss: All right. So, anyone can purchase these. You don’t have to be a student.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: And I don’t want to interrupt, but keep going because the format of these case studies is really interesting to me. And as an undergrad senior when I took Ed Zschau’s class in high-tech entrepreneurship, which is how I met Mike Maples, Jr. who’s going to be a recurring character shortly, I remember how useful they were. So, that’s the only interjection. Sorry to interrupt.

Ann Miura-Ko: No. Exactly. So, we use that case study for Qualtrics. There’s one on Floodgate. So, if you go to the Harvard Business review site you can actually just search for Floodgate or Qualtrics and it will come up. And they are somewhere between $5 and $15. They’re pretty easy to buy and download. But, I think those two in particular are quite valuable. We have then also just people coming in and speaking about some of the things that they’ve learned and how to grow that business from 0 to 1 and then 1 to X. And people like Michael Seibel who is now a partner at Y Combinator but also was part of and Socialcam. We have Stephanie Schatz was the fearless leader on the sales side for Xamarin. She had 18 straight quarters of beating the stretch target. So, you could only imagine how incredible she is as a sales leader taking the company 0 to $50 million in revenues. So, we have a lot of different types of people whether they’re CEOs or CROs or venture investors coming in to talk about the kinds of tradeoff they had to make and how they decipher growth to make sure they had the real kind and not just kind of their buying.

Tim Ferriss: Right. Just to elaborate on that for people who may not be at the startup world, if for instance you’re sitting in on an incubator investor day and you see 12 companies in a row that have 20 percent month on month growth with very similar looking charts, there is a possibility that they have and inflating or manufacturing their numbers with paid acquisition to raise funding or do any number of things. And it’s really easy. It’s relatively easy to spot once you know the symptoms. And then there are – I suppose as Richard Feynman would say – the physicist – you must be sure not to fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool. You can also get very caught up with what you might consider vanity metrics. And, let me take a step can just ask – well, before I ask, people definitely take a look at the case studies for both Harvard and if you search Stanford GSB, which is the business school, case studies, you’ll also find a website with these profiles of companies. And not just companies, but decisions they had to face generally where you can determine for yourself what you would do in a given situation and then read about what they did – whether it’s MongoDB – I’m looking at the Stanford GSB site and the case studies right now – Sonos and so on.

How did you go to investing? How did you first become exposed to say venture capitalism? What did you think you are going to do in college? When you were in college junior year, what did you expect you were going to do when you grew up?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah, I actually had multiple different paths. I started off when we were talking about my brother describing this kid who knew he wanted to work with cars or airplanes, from the get-go. And guess what he’s doing right now? He’s in Germany working with race cars.

Tim Ferriss: Amazing.

Ann Miura-Ko: And I was the complete opposite. I think when I was four, I wanted to be a farmer and then somewhere along the line, I really wanted to be a doctor. And, I wanted to be a doctor for a fairly long period of time where in freshman year summer, I took organic chemistry. I was in his premed track. I think sophomore year summer, you take the MCATs if you’re pretty sure you want to go to medical school. And, that summer, I was with my best friend who also really wanted to go to medical school. And she is right now studying leukemia. She’s a doctor at UCSF. So, she’s clearly gone down that path and doubled down on it. But, I remember going to study for the MCATs with her and I turned to the side and I looked at her and I have this sudden realization which was that – and this is two days before taking the MCATs. I said, “Hey, Kathy. I hate hospitals. I don’t like actually being around sick people. I also don’t love it when people are always complaining to me, and I think that might get in the way of me being a doctor.” And she looked at me like I was an alien and she said, “Why are you saying this right now? We’re about to take the MCATs and we need to go study for it Kaplan.” But, you know, I was just constantly observing her and she is just an incredible human being and she continues to be.

But this realization of, “Wow. The actual job of being a doctor may not be some that I actually enjoy,” was really a hard realization when you’ve been all in for this long. But, it was a realization that I really had to face and I knew in my gut that I was doing it because it was a really great path. It was a path where I knew what the next step was. I knew what X class I had to take, I knew the next exam I had to take, and there were applications, and there was school, and there was residency, and fellowship and it just felt like a really predictable thing to do. But, the actual work at the end of the day was not some I was going to love or enjoy. And that was really disturbing to me. And so, I really screeched off of that path. And it was hard because I had actually taken all of the requirements except for biology and the premed requirements did not actually overlap very much with electrical engineering. So, I’ve taken a lot of extra classes to make it a possibility but realized it also wasn’t for me. And that’s where I was sort of in the state of not knowing what I wanted to be and –

Tim Ferriss: And could I pause for one second?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: What you just described illustrates a degree of self-awareness but also decision-making that I think is rather uncommon in the sense that I know a lot of people who’ve gone on to become doctors or lawyers or fill in the blank that has a lot of prerequisite training and schooling because of succumbing to some cost fallacy like, “Oh, God. I’ve put in so much time. Even though I have this intuitive feeling I’m not going to like it, I really should do it.” And what was the conversation or the background that allowed you to step off of that path? And not to beat the Asian kid drum too hard, but let’s be real, right? I mean, that would be a very admirable, well respected, happy-to-share-at-a-dinner-party-with-friends type of path for your parents would assume, so, all the more uncommon that you would step off of that track. So, how is that the case? Why are you different?

Ann Miura-Ko: So, I think it goes back to actually the moment in debate where my mom is telling me, “You should do fencing instead of debate.” There was this realization of, “Oh, my parents really love me, but they don’t know me. And no one really knows me in terms of my capabilities and what I feel like I can get done. No one knows that better than I do.” And it was an important lesson for me because one other fact that I didn’t mention is that as a kid, there was no sign that I was special except for these weird characteristics where I would go learn negotiations. But, I failed the IQ test multiple times and the school district insisted I was not gifted or talented. My mom had to fight for me to be part of this gifted and talented program. As a two-year-old, after I was really hostile to people who spoke English, my mom tried to put me into preschool to socialize me but I ended up biting the person who was interviewing me for a preschool slot and they put me in special education. And I was one of those kids who got picked up in a short yellow bus from our house and taken to a state-run program for special children. And I think for a long time my mom wasn’t really sure what I was but she just decided to be all in on the fact that I was gifted and talented even if I wasn’t. And she was really worried that I was one of these special children.

And so, I had sort of an environment around me way before Yale where I knew what I was capable of even if the test scores show that I wasn’t. And I knew what I was capable of even if my parents did see it in me. And I think there’s sort of this moment in time that people need to have where you realize that there’s no test for human potential. There’s no recognition for that. It’s something that you have to find inside of yourself and I think for me, one of those tests was actually going back to am I going to be a great doctor? And if I revisit this question that my dad had always asked me, “Can you be world-class?” I knew I couldn’t because I looked at Kathy and she was going to be world-class because she loved helping people and she loved helping people from that kind of caretaking perspective, which was not where I was going to be world-class. But, I felt like there were some the where I could be great at something. That just wasn’t it.

Tim Ferriss: And you have all of this technical training by this point. You have the chemistry but you certainly also have at that point the electrical engineering probably.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: How does finance and investing or startups – I don’t know which came first – into the picture?

Ann Miura-Ko: So, having grown up in Palo Alto, I was actually exposed to a lot of startups. Even as a kid, I used to babysit for a serial entrepreneur and he was always tinkering around in his garage. And I remember thinking to myself he works for himself, which is very, very cool. Also on my debate team was Lisa Brennan-Jobs who I didn’t really realize she was the daughter of Steve Jobs until I was in her house and we were talking about debate. I was a senior at the time that I was helping her through learning the ropes of speech and debate and Steve Jobs appeared out of nowhere. And I remember thinking to myself, “What is Steve Jobs doing in this house?” And so, it was all around. And so venture capital was that actually a friend of and had brought up when I was still struggling with this notion of what should I be. And he was a real finance guy and he said, “Well, you’re really good at technology and you’re now interested in business because of this exposure to Lou Platt. You know, have you ever thought of venture capital?” And I remember kind of reading about it and having heard a little bit about growing up. Looking into it and realizing you have all this work experience you need to have, I talked to a couple of former Yalies who were venture capitalists and sort of had that in the back of my head.

And so, I went off to work at McKinsey as a consultant for three years, and then in the process of trying to figure out what to do next, I met a venture capitalist by the name of Ted Dintersmith and in that interview with him, we spoke not about technology, not about the research I had done or my work experience, but he wanted to know what books I was reading. He wanted to know about the music that I loved. And in that period, I was really into modern American literature. So I was really into E.L. Doctorow. And there are a few books that I just absolutely loved and we talked about that for a little while. And then we turned to music, I played piano, classical piano since I was four. And he and I talked about the classical musicians that I really loved. And he happened to be an English Lit major along with being a physics major. So, he loved books is much as I did, maybe even more. And then, he was an opera nut.

And so, we had all these things that we could talk about and two hours into that conversation, never having touched upon technology, he then basically said how would you like to come and work with me? And I was living out in Palo Alto at the time. This was an opportunity in Boston and I remember not even hesitating, knowing that I wanted to work with this person, this human being sitting across the table from me. I jumped at that opportunity and it wasn’t the fact that it was in venture capital but rather I really wanted the chance to be working around someone like Ted Dintersmith at that that time.

Tim Ferriss: Let’s talk about that interview for a second. So, that I think would strike some people as a very unusual interviewing style.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yes.

Tim Ferriss: Do you think in retrospect, and maybe you know, that he had already decided you were fully capable of doing the job, therefore he didn’t have to check that box. He just wanted to make sure that he could work with you and spend time with you? Was it that he was using that interview to sell you so that when he made the offer you would say yes? What do you think was going through his mind before and during that conversation?

Ann Miura-Ko: You know, I think Ted is a very unique human being in that I used to have this perception that networking was working a room and you shake a lot of hands and hold a lot of babies and you learn a few names and you move on. I learned from Ted that networking is actually a deep curiosity about the human being who’s sitting across the table from you. So, I don’t think he necessarily had that kind of purpose in mind but that he was just really interested in what I was interested in. And we happened to find commonality and he was trying to understand how my mind worked and what I was interested in. And I’ve taken that as a real lesson because I love the way he would network. He learned so much about people in that process and that’s how he ministered to his entrepreneurs. He also was capable of providing advice at the right time because he really knew those people. And so, for me, I felt like it was a really unique interview. It stood out from all the interviews I’ve ever had. But I think he was learning more about me than most other technical interviews could have gotten to.

And then, you know, his other partners, I think Izhar Armony, gave me more sort of a case study and could dive into that. But Ted always had a deep curiosity about the human being and not necessarily just the skills.

Tim Ferriss: What else did you learn from him or in that position – in that job?

Ann Miura-Ko: I thought that Ted was also an incredible first principles thinker. So, my second day of work at CRV was 9/11.

Tim Ferriss:   Oh, my God.

Ann Miura-Ko: And so, he went from kind of bad economy to sort of a horrible, black hole economy. And so, it was a really terrible time for venture. And they had just raised this one $1.4 billion fund. So, for venture, that’s a huge amount of money. And it’s a huge accomplishment to convince so many investors to invest in your venture capital firm at that amount. But then Ted took the time to actually start to do analysis with me on how much capital had gone into venture capital at that moment. And then the exits had stopped. There were no more IPOs. No one was acquiring companies. The economy just came to a screeching halt. And he decided along with the other partners in his firm to give back most of the money. So, they reduced their fund from $1.2 billion to $450 million. And the reason why that’s so interesting and impressive is that the way a venture capital firm makes money, the way you have any salary or the operating money that you have for the firm is a direct percentage of the fund that you raise. And so, by shrinking the size of the fund, you’re shrinking the size of the management fees that you get pretty dramatically.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, for sure. Very dramatically. I mean, for people who don’t know, you’ll hear very often – it’s not always the case – but in venture capital, 2 and 20; 2 and 20. And that means 2 percent management fee based on the assets under management, meaning that particular fund and then 20 percent of the upside for people who don’t know.

Ann Miura-Ko: Right. And so, they decided to give back those management fees and to me, that was really, really impressive because you’re facing down a really terrible economy. Not only are you shrinking the size of your fund to reflect that, you’re also shrinking the size of your management fees and you’re taking that blow. And so, things like that I learned. I learned also how to shepherd companies through that kind of difficult time and how to be a true partner to an entrepreneur. And so, I think it was a really important lesson to learn because I would argue most people haven’t seen real cycles. People seem to think 2008 was a real significant dip in the economy, but anyone who lived through 2001 knows that 2008 was a blip compared to a real downturn. And because we’ve had a raging bull market for such a long time, that memory and that knowledge of having survived 2001 as a crisis period is something that I hold with me really in my war chest. I know how to get through that kind of time period and I don’t pick a lot of people do.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, it makes me think of a lot of what I heard in Silicon Valley – I still hear – before moving to Austin, which makes me think of – going to paraphrase this, but it’s a quote from Sir John Templeton I think it is, which is the most expensive words in investing are, “This time it’s different.” And it has been quite the bull run. You mentioned first principles thinking. I want to tie that into something you mentioned related to your class – tough choices for leaders. What are some of the toughest choices for leaders I suppose in this context? CEOs or high-level execs, cofounders of companies, or some of the toughest decisions that nonetheless seem to come up fairly commonly?

Ann Miura-Ko: I think the most difficult thing for a startup founder, CEO, leader is that especially when you witness multiple phase changes in a business. And so, if you imagine you’re going from absolutely nothing to something, that’s what I call the 0 to 1 phase. You’re searching for product market fit. You’re trying to find the best customers. You’re trying to find where your 10X advantage is truly valued. That’s a very different business process and truth seeking then when you’re going from 1 to X which is, “Now that I know what my value proposition is, I’m going to add to that but I’m also going to pull on some of these growth levers.” The fundamental job of a VP of marketing who is in that 0 to 1 phase changes dramatically 1 to X. It changes dramatically for the salesperson 0 to 1, to 1 to X. And you go through this incredible Bermuda triangle where you have to navigate that change. And so, what I see challenging for startup founders is actually being comfortable with your fundamental job, shifting from every three months. You would have a massive shift in what you need to focus on and how you need to develop.

And I think a company is a multidimensional thing. In Silicon Valley, we spend so much time about product and product market fit that we forget that there’s this huge emphasis you might want to place on the fact that a company is also an organization. A company is also a category that you’re building. The company is also a business model. A company is also a team. And so, it’s the skill set actually to balance all of those things and knowing when you fundamentally need to change out the talent in your team, knowing when you actually need to let go of the product, and knowing actually – to me this is probably the hardest piece – knowing the difference between a winning strategy versus a strategy not to lose.

Tim Ferriss: Could you elaborate on that please?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. So, to me a strategy not to lose is a lot of different things. It’s not to lose to a competitor, not to lose talent, a strategy not to lose out on revenue. So, it’s all these fears that you have of captured ground or the fact that you might have someone take over something that you want to do – a competitor who’s breathing down your neck versus a strategy for winning is about where you double down on? What do you do to capture ground, to be aggressive, to play offense and not defense? To me that is a huge difference between that strategy of “I’m going to win in this market” versus “I’m not going to lose.” And not losing often involves a lot of hedging. And when you feel that urge to hedge, you need to focus. You need to be offensive.

Tim Ferriss: In what ways might that hedging manifest? What would be examples you’ve seen or hypotheticals of the symptoms of a defensive strategy in the form of hedging?

Ann Miura-Ko: Great question. It might manifest itself in, “I am going to go after two very different customer segments. One is large enterprises; the other is small/medium businesses.” And the reason why that’s really hedging is you have two completely different ways of selling to those organizations and you’re afraid to pick one because maybe you have some revenue in both. But in that situation, by not choosing to focus on one group or the other, you’re probably A, shortchanging your team because you don’t have a specialized team to go after that opportunity, you’re shortchanging your business model because you aren’t pricing your product correctly, and you’re shortchanging the opportunity because probably your product isn’t optimized for that customer set. Your customer service isn’t optimized for that product set, and your team is ultimately confused because you’re heading in two completely different conditions and directions. And so, I believe that that’s one of the most common ways that I see people involved in a strategy of not losing instead of we’re here to win it.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. All of those things that you mentioned also contribute to lighting money on fire, right? I mean, that’s split focus.

Ann Miura-Ko: The bonfire.

Tim Ferriss: The bonfire of funding or of cash flow depending on where it comes from. This is really important and you know this but I want to underscore it for people listening and give a few other examples that people might enjoy exploring. So, this winning versus not losing extension seems really subtle, but you can get an intuitive feel for it in a few different ways. One is there is actually a three-part miniseries podcast called the making of Oprah and it talks about the rise of Oprah. I know this seems like an odd segue. Oprah impresses the hell out of me in 1 million different ways, and after you listen to this, you’ll understand exactly why that’s the case. But, she would constantly tell her team, many of whom wanted to respond to say Donahue who was the 800-pound gorilla at the time, we need to race our own race in the sense that if you’re on the thoroughbred race and you’re in a race, you need to focus on your race. You can’t be looking side to side at the competitors, the racers next to you or you get yourself into a lot of trouble when you get really injured. And the second is, if people want to Google Dan Gable on aggression, there’s a short video I put on my blog that hits this point exactly. And giving examples of different disciplines because it is cross disciplinary. It’s not just investing in startups.

Dan Gable is the most legendary wrestling coach certainly over the last hundred years in the United States. Also, won a gold medal in the 19 – I want to say – 72 Munich Olympics without having a single point scored on him. That just does not happen. And this video will show you a lecture that he’s giving one of his athletes after his athlete tied. And he said, “You lost to him twice before. You just didn’t want to lose. He said you never want to win that way. You got a tie at that’s exactly why you got a tie.” The difference is just so powerful and it’s worth – I just thought – taking a second to underscore it because I think that is really a critical distinction that you brought up.

Ann Miura-Ko: Also, I think about it – I love to ski and I had this instructor once, I was complaining about going through powder and I was saying how it really hurt my thighs. And he was like, “My thighs are burning.” And he looks at me and he said, “Because you’re not leaning forward.” And the minute you lean forward, suddenly you’re just gliding. And it’s scary in that moment when you lean forward because you feel like you’re going to fall and yet it gives you so much more control and it gives you so much less effort counterintuitively.

Tim Ferriss:   Definitely.

Ann Miura-Ko: And that to me is like the perfect example of you have to actually have a little bit of aggressiveness in order to have the win.

Tim Ferriss: I think you are well-suited in that respect. How did you meet the man who so famously tries to trick – not trick, that sounds too strong – who so commonly will say something like, “Well, I’m just a southern boy. Maybe you could slow down and explain that one more time,” which by the way, if you ever hear anything like that, really stop and pay attention because you’re about to be tricked or misdirected. I’ve actually borrowed that and I use that for Long Island a lot. I’m like, “You know, just a slow Long Island boy. Take a second. Maybe you can explain that to me again.” How did you meet Mike Maples, Jr.?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. So, this actually happened in one of the classes that I was teaching at Stanford. He was one of the mentors for a bunch of teams. So, we had all these teams that were created business plans for their own version of a startup company. And we had incredible mentors to each these teams. We had I think someone who is the former CEO of VeriSign. Diane Greene might’ve been a mentor to one of the teams.

Tim Ferriss: Can you explain to folks who Diane Greene is for those who don’t know?

Ann Miura-Ko: Diane Greene is now the head of Google Cloud. She was also the CEO of VMWare.

Tim Ferriss: Big deal. Big, big deal.

Ann Miura-Ko: So, big deal. Big deal. And what we did was we would team up some of these entrepreneurs or people in Silicon Valley with a student team, and Mike was one of them. And for people who know Mike, he’s just this charming guy – a boy from Oklahoma. He calls himself sometimes a washed-up enterprise VC or a washed-up enterprise entrepreneur, but he’s not. And so, he came to our class and he was mentoring this team but he was actually being too nice. And so, this team was having all sorts of weird issues. They were fighting and they came to my office hours and one of them started to cry.

Tim Ferriss:   I’m spotting a theme here within proximity of…

Ann Miura-Ko: Right. I did not make this team member cry. They were making each other cry.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I’m just screwing with you.

Ann Miura-Ko: And so, I was just really kind of mad at Mike because part of the role of the mentor is to help shepherd them through this tough point. And he was just kind of checked out on that front. And I emailed him and he said, “Oh, yeah. My team is doing great.” And I said, “Well, I kind of to differ. They were just in my office and one of them

started to cry and they’re fighting. And right now, if they don’t pull it together, they’re really going to fail the class.” And he just wrote this message that said, “Well, I think they’re going to get an A+.” And so I said, “Well, so far, not tracking.” And so, we just sort of had this friendly banter and actually the team does turn it around and they ended up getting an A+ in the class.

Tim Ferriss: Now, did Mike intervene or did he just throw some turtle shells on a desk and divine his way to that outcome?

Ann Miura-Ko: I’m not really sure, but I actually take full credit for the turnaround because had I not pointed out to Mike, then the team would’ve just imploded. And so, based on that interaction, a few years later I was starting to get to a point  in my PhD where I was thinking of starting my own company. And I had started my PhD in computer security exactly because I knew that it didn’t matter when I graduated, there would be a computer security problem out there and I wouldn’t be at risk of market timing. And it was sort of a perfect opportunity because just as I was going through my research, it was from 2003 to 2007 at this point, we had transformed from this world of where security used to be a bunch of vandalism problems to now there were companies involved and real money was being involved and so, real crime was being created here. And then toward the end, there was really like nation-state warfare starting to happen. So, my research was really in risk management of computer security and I knew this was becoming a huge issue. And so I started to think, “I’m going to make a company. And so, at that moment, I turned to some of my advisors and my advisors were nice enough to say, “Hey, if you’re thinking about starting a company, you’ve been in the ivory towers for literally four years. You should get out of the classroom and go check out some angel investors.”

And then, Mike was one of the first people I turned to and I asked if I could his deal flow, and he was nice enough to say, “Sure. Why don’t you just come in and take a look at my deal flow on Wednesday.” And so, we would sit next to each other look at companies.

Tim Ferriss: Deal flow means the top-of-the-funnel companies that he’s considering potentially investing in.

Ann Miura-Ko: Right. They would come in and pitch for between 30 minutes and an hour, and then at the end of that, I think it was March of 2008, he calls me as I’m actually going up to Tahoe to ski. He calls me to say, “Hey, Ann. I have this great idea. I just raised my first fund. It’s $35 million and I think that you should drop out of your PhD program and join me. And it’s not the venture back startup that you’ve been thinking about. But, it’s now a backed venture startup. Let’s go.”

Tim Ferriss:   Oh, I like that. That’s really good. Now, was that an immediate “yes?” Or was it a, “Let me sleep on it?”

Ann Miura-Ko: I actually thought he was crazy because first of all, I was literally a nobody. I’m a PhD’s candidate; I didn’t even have my degree at Stanford. So, there’s like all these business school students. There’s great angel investors milling around. The major question was why does this guy think that I would actually be a good investor? And then, the second piece was there weren’t a ton of venture capital firms that were being started up. So, even when I went back to people who were my mentors, some of them said, “Why would you go to a no-name VC? Why won’t you go and be an associate at Kleiner Perkins or Excel or Sequoia?” And I didn’t really have a good answer.

Tim Ferriss: And just to set the stage for folks who don’t know the recent history of Silicon Valley at the time that Mike had proposed this to you, micro venture capital was barely a thing. There are a lot of funds of all different sizes now. But at the time, this was very unusual.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. And so, it was at this point and we get to 2018. There’s probably 30 funds being pitched a week to a limited partner who invests into these venture capital firms. But back then, there was very, very few. And so, it was really a question of, “Is this the smart thing to do?” And I think this is sort of where when you turn to an entrepreneur, this is the feeling that they get. What I sensed was there was actually a major change afoot. All of the students around me at Stanford didn’t need $5 million to start a company. And that’s what venture capital was offering to startups at that point. They would say, “I will buy 50 percent of your company for $5 million.”

Tim Ferriss: Right. It was predicated on the entry costs being very high in some respects.

Ann Miura-Ko: Very, very high. And at that point, we suddenly have open-source software, we really have what’s starting to look like cloud computing, we have all the shared resources. So, even though I was helping to run servers in the closet at my grad school in our lab, that was starting to become something that we didn’t need. There were actually services that you could use or you could rent services. And so, to me there was a dramatic change that was happening and so you had to change the financing environment. And so, I felt like I could see something that everyone else didn’t see that Mike was also seeing. And he used to say 500,000 is going to be 5 million. And then the second piece for me was this guy Mike Maples had a skill set I had never seen before – maybe in like one or two other people in my entire lifetime. But, he was this incredible marketer. And I used two believe you either built things were you sold things. Everything else just seemed like an extraneous skill set to have. But Mike was incredible at storytelling and positioning and strategy – like, real strategy or how do you create a new category and how do you build that category and how do you create the king of that category? And as an engineer, I hadn’t thought about what you do after you build the product.

And so, this magic of category creation to me was something that almost felt like magic. And so, I looked at Mike and I thought, “I really need to learn from this person.” And not only is it a great skill set that I’m learning from, he is also genuinely one of the best human beings that I’ve ever encountered. And so, it was to sort of this magical combination of someone whose values really aligned with me and how I wanted to build a firm and the things that I wanted to do with that, and how I wanted to treat entrepreneurs, and a person who was a mad genius. And so that combination to me was irresistible. And so, a couple of months into it I said, “Sign me up.”

Tim Ferriss: A couple of months. Alright. So, question number one just for people who were wondering it. You seem very good at avoiding some cost fallacy in this is so, so, so key – this cognitive bias. When you were looking at the quitting of the PhD program, I don’t know how it works at Stanford but did you realize you could kind of –

Ann Miura-Ko: Oh, so I didn’t actually have to quit.

Tim Ferriss:   You didn’t have to quit.

Ann Miura-Ko: I did not quit. So, that first year and a half of my life at Floodgate was crazy because at that point, I joined Floodgate and I had an 18-month-old child, my daughter Abby. And then, I think it was four or five months into it I am pregnant with my second child. I promised my mother as any good Asian daughter would that I would finish this PhD if it was last thing I do. So, I’m waking up at 4 o’clock in the warning doing research until seven when my daughter wakes up, then taking her to daycare and then working from 8:30 to 6:30 at Floodgate and then coming back, doing dinner, and then working on my PhD again, rinse and repeat. And then, I got pregnant with my second child a few months into that and then decided I was going to defend my PhD. They set the date for six weeks after I gave birth to my son and so I not only did my first set of investments, but also gave birth to a child, cared for another one and managed to stay married and finish this PhD all between 2008 and 2009. And so, to me, that’s the most creative and probably productive period of my life ever and probably will be, but also showed me that I can actually do a lot of things that everyone around me was like, “Why would you do all of those things at the same time?”

Tim Ferriss: This is going to sing like a non sequitur. It kind of is. But, how does your mom say your name? Because “Ann” is sort of an unusual first name in Japanese.

Ann Miura-Ko: Oh no, but that’s not my first name. My first name is [speaks Japanese].

Tim Ferriss: [Speaks Japanese].

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. So, how does my mom say it? She’s like, [speaks Japanese]!

Tim Ferriss:   [Speaks Japanese]. That’s another word everybody should look up and learn. S-U-G-O-I.

Ann Miura-Ko: [Speaks Japanese]

 Tim Ferriss:   That just means awesome, impressive, and all sort of things because I can barely manage to brush my teeth and shower on a daily basis, and yet you’re doing all these things simultaneously. I have to pause at this point just to try to fill out some of the colors of who [speaks Japanese] Ann Miura-Ko is. What have you struggled with? Have you had any dark – it doesn’t have to be dark, but difficult times, dark times that you could tell us about and where you really struggled? Where is that not part of your lexicon?

Ann Miura-Ko: No, I think we all have struggles, right? So, I think even in this moment of the PhD, and caring for my kids, and caring for myself and my husband and my family and all of that, and trying to do a good job at work, things slip. Right? And I struggle with this still today and this is where the darkness comes in is, “Am I doing anything well? Am I a good mother?” Today my six-year-old is on a field trip and he asked me, “Why is it that you never get to come on a field trip?” Those are all these moments where you wonder, “Am I failing and being a parent?” Or, I’m not able to get to the dishes and I had a moment where my front door neighbor is actually a Japanese woman – a nosy Japanese woman – and she went up to my mother and she said, “You know, your family is so strange. I always see the husband doing the dishes but never the wife. Never the wife.”

Tim Ferriss:   That is the most nosy-Japanese-neighbor thing to say ever.

Ann Miura-Ko: And then I spent two days in that front window doing dishes, and at some point I was like, “Ah, screw this.” But, it is this constant battle of how do I figure out what my priority is so that I have minimum viable progress on some front and in the thing that really matters, I’m going to make massive progress on. And so, that’s where the darkness creeps in. I think for me, my things really loser moments have been things like early on, I just described to you early how there were tests that always said I wasn’t that smart. There were lots of examples where I wasn’t good at a lot of different things that other people found very normal. I was horrible at standardized tests. Only until I got to senior year or junior year in high school did I finally figure it out. There’s so many places where so many people said, “Distinctly average. Maybe not even that smart.” And I think for me it’s been learning to tune out the naysayers and knowing that there certainly a lot of things that I’m not going to be good at, but there are things that I can actually be great at. A really good example of that actually is my PhD. I remember when I got my PhD at Stanford, and I’m starting, first of all I took a math class and there were college freshmen in this class and it felt like the math teacher was speaking Greek. And the freshmen are flying through this material because they’re like little kid geniuses. And I remember thinking to myself, “Well, clearly I should not be getting a PhD in math and thank goodness this is in operations research.”

Then I had the second experience where a new professor came in across the hall from me. His name is Ramesh Johari. And he was my age because I had taken five years off to start my PhD. He was literally my age and he was incredible. He could remember things about different papers and theorems and how they were proved from years past, compare and contrast them, he just knew things that I struggled to remember. And remember looking at him and being in one of his seminars and thinking to myself, “That is world-class in academic.” And I’m okay at it, but I would have moments where I was like, “I’m actually not even good at it.” And then I would go to a conference and when you compare yourself against the world of PhD students, then you start to develop a little bit more confidence. And then you go back to Stanford and you see what world-class is. And I was thinking to myself, “This isn’t the path. And there’s a place where I can actually use the skill sets that I do have where I can be really good at the things that I’m doing.” And so, if I am sitting here saying, “Oh, I was always good at everything that I did,” that’s just not true. There are so many moments where I realized – it’s like being a doctor. I said, “I would not be good at being a doctor. I would not be great at being an academic. I would not be great at a lot of different things. Just knowing and having the self-awareness of where I would double down is, I think, when I was good at. And so, it makes this emergent life where I was going from one track to another, I was going to be a doctor and then I went to McKenzie, and I went to BC, and then I went to get a PhD and then I went back to BC, this is all self-discovery rather than a stated path that I had career planned for a long time.

Tim Ferriss: Well, it strikes me also that – and maybe I’m trying to create a narrative where there isn’t one or a connection, but it seems reasonable that Mike’s superpower or one of his abilities to help create categories and then sort of mint kings within a given category is actually a different species of something that you’re also good at, which is kind of Jack Welchian in a sense, and that is you’re looking at the different paths you could take, and if you can’t be, say, number one or number two in that thing, it just gets rolled out. And you’re asking this world-class question over and over again, in one way is to find something where you can dominate and really be world-class. And the other is to create an entirely new category in a sense. So, it seems like you and Mike are very complementary in that way and have that’s shared programming. I’ve heard people describe you as an investor. One of your strengths as being technical, which I suppose seems self-evident given your background. But, how would your colleagues, how would Mike, let’s say, describe your – if I asked him, “What are Anne’s superpowers as an investor? There are a lot of investors out there. What is Anne’s superpower or set of superpowers?” What would he say?

Ann Miura-Ko: I think for me, the superpowers I have are a few fold. So, one is because of the technical capabilities I have, when someone is describing particularly anything that has to do with math, and luckily for me right now, math is having this incredible resurgence in artificial intelligence and encrypted currency. I could get that piece. I can get that piece better than I could say probably 99 percent of investors out there. And so, if I get a math paper, that’s something that I love to dig into, and that technical insight is something that I think I’m better at most other investors out there. And then from there, I can also start to piece together what that company will look like around that technology. And so, it’s not just I’m looking for great R&D projects but once that are ripe to be big D and little R. And I think that’s a superpower especially at the very early stage. So, one of the companies that I invested in back in 2010, Ayasdi, they’ve gone over $100 million in financing at this point. And I found them when they didn’t even have a business plan. They had four math papers that they sent to me. And so to me, that something that I double down on and it’s a part of the types of investments that I like to do. It’s very different from the TaskRabbit, Refinery29 and Lyft that I’ve done in the past as well.

I think the other superpower that is a little bit less evident is more evident as I’m working with people is I have a feel like a pretty good sixth sense about the people dynamics within an organization. So, I can tell and there’s actually infighting happening. I can sense when an executive is starting to disengage. And those are things that I work on with a lot of the CEOs that work with. And then, the last piece that I think I really love to engage in is the fundamental data behind the business. And so, I love looking at the cohort analysis and really engaging on data because that’s a piece of the puzzle that I feel like I’m also good at – encoding; unencoding.

Tim Ferriss:   What are you looking for now and what are thunder lizards? You mentioned hunting thunder lizards earlier and I promised I would come back to it. So maybe we define that first and perhaps you could tell us what you’re looking for at the moment.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. So, a thunder lizard is inspired by Godzilla. It’s a term that Mike, my partner, used always tell the story, which is that we are inspired by entrepreneurs who are like Godzilla. And so, what is Godzilla light? He’s born from radioactive atomic eggs. So, the DNA of that entrepreneur is already fundamentally different. And then, he swims across the Pacific Ocean, and depending on if you’re Mike or me, he lands in either the Bay Area or Tokyo and starts to wreak havoc, and eats trains and automobiles and buildings, and then proceeds to crush that industry and creates disruption and then builds something out of that. And so, that idea of disruption is something that I always liked that imagery of the journey across the Pacific Ocean, born from something fundamentally different, and then really starting to turn things over. And so, when we say, “Okay. What we looking for right now in terms of where do we think the new thunder lizards will exist?”

There are two different areas it comes back to the math that I’m really interested in. One is I do think that artificial intelligence is about to disrupt a lot of different types of enterprise software. I think that enterprise software still sucks, and if we’re going to be able to really transform the way a business is actually operated, we have to take the software that just basically records data and spits it back out to you into something that’s actually more intelligent – that tells you something that you didn’t know, that gives you superpowers. And I think that we’re going to see more and more of that in the industry. So as an example like a baseline example, why do we spend millions of dollars on Oracle or NetSuite when the CFO still has to make a budget for next year? Why doesn’t that financial planning just automatically, automagically generate itself based on all of the history that it knows, plus all of the data from the external world? So, I think things like that, we’re going to start to see happen more and more. I also think fundamentally, the scientific method may also be dead. The scientific method was developed in a time where we didn’t have enough data and data was actually the fundamental bottleneck in scientific research., That’s just not the case anymore.

And so, why is it that we form a hypothesis, then look at the data and then come to a conclusion? We should have all of the data, then have an analysis of that that leads us to a hypothesis or a belief system that we fundamentally test further. So, I think these massive changes are coming, and you see it even encrypted currency. There are also really philosophical interesting debates happening around, “Well, you have this massive pull toward centralization whether it’s an AI and ML.” You have to have all of the data in one place in order to really train.

Tim Ferriss: ML being “machine learning.”

Ann Miura-Ko: Machine learning. Or, in cloud computing you’re also putting the data into more data centers. In crypto currency, we believe that there’s going to be more decentralized software. So, how do you reconcile those two types of system? I think there’s lots of really interesting themes that are just at the start of being discovered. I’m really excited about what’s going to happen with autonomous vehicles in the technology that’s going to be required to make that a reality. And so, all of those areas I think are just fascinating. And so, it feels like a period of real intellectual abundance and that we’re headed into a period of real great, creative energy.

Tim Ferriss: And a time where a lot of your philosophical training in reading to be put into practice in the real world, right? People can look up the trolley scenario we thought of as a thought exercise, but if you’re programming – not to take us off on a tangent, but if you’re programming for autonomous vehicles and there’s some kind of act of God, a hailstorm, a huge boulder falls in the middle of the street and the car has to swerve left and hit two schoolkids or sort of right and hit five geriatrics, how does it make the decision?

Ann Miura-Ko: Right.

Tim Ferriss: What is the logic embedded into that machine? It takes a lot of these philosophy 101 thought exercises and it translates them very directly into the real world with real consequences. It is a fascinating time.

Ann Miura-Ko: And it’s also like how much do you want to know, right? So, deep learning is actually very difficult to know what’s happening inside of his black box. So, there’s actually more of a demand for, “Let’s know what’s happening inside of this black box,” especially if lives are risk worth billions of dollars or at risk and we need to be able to audit these algorithms. I think there’s real interest in new technologies now that we can actually audit and know what’s going on inside the box so that if the trolley example happens, we actually know how the machines will make their decisions. And so, I think there’s a lot of work to be done, a lot of opportunity, but also a lot of thought that needs to go into how we want to regulate all of this.

Tim Ferriss: Tricky, tricky, tricky. Yeah. So, it’s going to be exciting. I’m very, very interested to see how all of these things coalesce. Also, you’re looking at these gigantic companies, the Facebooks, the Googles, the things that are more and more so converging on to the same territory. Let’s see how that resolves if it does in some fashion is also really, really exciting to me. Or, how something like Y Combinator – just to do a little bit of inside baseball – can say, “We are interested in this type of company or this particular aspect of engineering or fill in the blank,” and just kind of steer the attention of thousands or tens of thousands of would-be entrepreneurs into a particular sector or type of project which is also just really interesting to think about from the ramifications five years down the line.

Ann Miura-Ko: I mean, I think we have so many incredible societal problems that need to be solved and I believe that the private sector is most capable of solving these problems whether it’s energy, or health or the fact that we have so much trash. How do we solve that? How do we get clean water to people? It’s not just about the next social network and how do we deliver better advertising to people, but the beauty of this type of entrepreneurship is that there are huge societal problems that still need to be solved that I think is a really exciting opportunity also to build great businesses around. So, I think that’s also what gets me up in the morning and makes me believe that what we’re doing is important work.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, it is important work. I don’t think that sort of collective interests and  self-interests have to be misaligned. They’re not mutually exclusive. You can solve and there’s a long history of solving public problems with private sector technologies and companies. And let me just ask – I know we’ve gone a little longer than expected, which I should’ve expected. Let me ask you just a few more questions and then will wrap up with where people can find you and learn more about what you’re up to. Besides Getting To Yes, are there any books that you’ve given a lot as gifts or reread a lot yourself?

Ann Miura-Ko: Oh, gosh. For me, right now, there’s a couple of books that I think are super interesting. So, my mentor, Ted Dintersmith, just wrote a book called What School Could Be. And this goes back to sort of education as a critical societal question on how do we fix education. And what he did was he went on a 50-state tour to look at schools and discovered that the answers are actually already there. And our incredible school teachers throughout our country are already finding solutions to teaching our kids the most important skills they need to have. And I think reading that book has not only given me hope, but also a desire to see real change in the public school education system. But, I think that’s a really important problem for all of us to actually engage in. And so, that’s one book that I would really push onto other people.

The other one that is completely on the opposite end of the spectrum but it is a fiction book is by Khaled Hosseini, who also wrote Kite Runner. He wrote this book called A Thousand Splendid Suns. And probably one of the most beautiful books that I’ve read in a long time in terms of fiction writing, and I would encourage people to read it because it gives you a sense of Afghanistan’s incredible history and the role women have played within that history. And I just loved that because it just was eye-opening to me in a very different way. So, two very different types of books. None of them straightforward business books, but ones that I think are meaningful for our society to read today.

Tim Ferriss: What School Could Be and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Is there any purchase of $100 or less – it’s kind of arbitrary right? But, just not a Bugatti or something – that has most positively impacted your life were positively impacted your life in recent memory?

Ann Miura-Ko: $100 or less?

Tim Ferriss: It could be if it’s like a foldable kayak that you got for $400, that’s fine too. But it could be anything. Be two dollars. It could be free. It could be any recent addition to your life that has –

Ann Miura-Ko: Oh, my gosh. So, it’s actually a foldable chair. So, I go to my daughter’s soccer tournaments a lot and there’s this incredible foldable chair. I don’t know what is called. You can get it on Amazon. But it has this flip over sunshade that goes over your head, and for any parent who’s been at a swim tournament or anything, this is life-changing because often times I’m just baking in the hot sun. And you can be anywhere and you have your own personal tent the folds of your head. It’s saved me on multiple weekends. My husband bought two of them. I love it.

Tim Ferriss: Can you send me a link to that and I’ll put it in the show notes if you can track it down?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss:   So, for people wondering, I’ll put that in the show notes at and you can find this miraculous foldable chair. If you could have a giant billboard anywhere with anything on it in there so metaphorically speaking, getting a word, a quote, a message, a question, anything out to millions or billions of people, it can’t be an advertisement, what might you put on that billboard?

Ann Miura-Ko: Wow. Hm. I wonder if it’s like, “Not losing does not equal winning” – sort of one of my themes these days.

Tim Ferriss: I like that. Yeah.

Ann Miura-Ko: And I think actually “finding your world-class life” is probably the other one that I would think about. “Find your world-class life.” I think the reason for that is to me, everyone is capable of that and I think oftentimes we forget it. And for every person, it’s different. And that’s the beauty of humanity.

Tim Ferriss: What do the characters for [speaks Japanese] mean?

Ann Miura-Ko: Oh, my gosh. So, it’s a small round bell. And the reason for my parents naming me that was they were originally going to name me something more like “really beautiful child” or “genius child.” And my mom took one look at me when I was born and she’s like, “No, none of those.” She said, “Your face was so perfectly round when you were born, it reminded me of this perfectly round bell.” And I’m like, “Mom, all these other friends that I have, especially Chinese friends, they’re like “super intelligent, world-class dominating dictator for CEO child,” and I’m “small bell” child.”

Tim Ferriss: [Speaks Japanese]. And where can people find you online, say hello, learn more about what you’re up to?

Ann Miura-Ko: I think professionally the best place is to see my Twitter, which is in annimaniac.

Tim Ferriss:   A-N-N –

Ann Miura-Ko: –N-N-I-M-A-N-I-A-C or on Instagram. It’s A-M-I-U-R-A. You’ll see more of my life there.

Tim Ferriss:   Amiura.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yes.

Tim Ferriss: “Three bays?” Is that what that means? Miura? Something like that maybe.

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So, Twitter, annimaniac. Instagram, Amiura – M-I-U-R-A. And best website?

Ann Miura-Ko: Floodgate. It’s

Tim Ferriss: Why Floodgate? What is a Floodgate? Or why is it called Floodgate?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah, because we think we’re at the forefront of the headwaters of innovation. And so, it sounded – I don’t know – kind of big and audacious.

Tim Ferriss:   Good enough reason. Audacious. Audacious. Yes. Audacious, aggressive, but still the mother of dragons. There is a nurturing mother-like den mother quality to Ann Miura-Ko.

Ann Miura-Ko: I call myself like a mama bear. I’m very protective but also I’m going to push my kids and people around me to be the best they can be.

Tim Ferriss:   Just don’t get in between the mother and the cub. Good guideline and I will say for anybody is wondering, what would it be like to just go sort of mano y mano with Ann? I would say you’re one of the few people – I would put Sam Harris in this category – where if you are willing to engage in a public debate with either of you, you just have to make sure that you have practiced defending against having your face ripped off in the most logical complimentary way possible. I’m just very impressed by you, Ann, and I’ve really wanted to have you on the show for a long time.

Ann Miura-Ko: Thank you.

Tim Ferriss: And I’m thrilled that you were willing to carve out a few hours to spend chatting. And it’s always fun chatting. We still have to –

Ann Miura-Ko: It’s always fun. Tim, you’ve been there from the very get-go. You were the person behind my very first investment in TaskRabbit, so I have a lot to thank you for as well.

Tim Ferriss:   Well, the adventure shall continue and I certainly am not as involved as I used to be in the tech scene, but I’ll be cheering from the sidelines. Is there anything else that you like to say or suggest or mention? Any parting words before we wrap up?

Ann Miura-Ko: No. I hope your audience enjoyed this and if they got anything out of it, that if they want to contact me, I’m always open to more conversation and I hope that some of my story shows that even if people tell you can’t do something, that you can.

Tim Ferriss:   You can indeed. You’ve just got to spend the summer reading up on those 12 topics.

Ann Miura-Ko: That’s right.

Tim Ferriss: You can’t always out-talent everyone, but if you out-prepare them, you might as well have out-talented them.

Ann Miura-Ko: Maybe the billboard sign is “Effort matters.”

Tim Ferriss:   Effort matters.

Ann Miura-Ko: Because it really does.

Tim Ferriss:   It does. Well, Ann, thank you so much again. This has been such a treat and a gift and I look forward to hearing what people have to say on the interwebs, and press will do a round two in person during one of – what’s the name of the – was it the Tim Ferriss Wine Hour? What was the –?

Ann Miura-Ko: Yeah. Yeah. They call it Ferris Time. That’s what Mike calls it. Ferriss Time.

Tim Ferriss:   Which was the little wine aperitif to smooth out the edges. That way we can describe that –

Ann Miura-Ko: He just grabbed a glass. He’s like, “I think it’s Ferriss Hour.”

Tim Ferriss: I’ll take it. I will take it. And, Ann, I will talk to you soon. See you soon I hope. And to everybody listening, you can find links to everything we discussed, the books, the foldout chair and much more, Getting To Yes and so on in the show notes as you can with all episodes at And until next time, thank you for listening.

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Ann Miura-Ko — The Path from Shyness to World-Class Debater and Investor (#331)


“The main difference was that I was willing to outwork and outdo every competitor who walked in through that door.” Ann Miura-Ko

Ann Miura-Ko (@annimaniac) has been called “the most powerful woman in startups” by Forbes and is a lecturer in entrepreneurship at Stanford. The child of a rocket scientist at NASA, Ann is a Palo Alto native and has been steeped in technology startups from when she was a teenager. Prior to co-founding Floodgate, she worked at Charles River Ventures and McKinsey and Company. Some of Ann’s investments include Lyft, Ayasdi, Xamarin, Refinery29, JoyRun, TaskRabbit, and Modcloth.

Given the success of her investments she was on the 2017 Midas List of top 100 venture capitalists. Ann is known for her debate skills (she placed first in the National Tournament of Champions and second in the State of California in high school) and was part of a five-person team at Yale that competed in the Robocup Competition in Paris, France. She has a BSEE from Yale and a PhD from Stanford in math modeling of computer security. She lives with her husband, three kids, and one spoiled dog. Her interests are piano, robots, and gastronomy.


#331: “Is That a World-Class Effort?”: The Story of Investor Ann Miura-Ko

Want to hear my interview with Ann’s business partner? — Check out my interview with Mike Maples, Jr. from venture capital firm Floodgate, the man who taught me how to invest. Stream below or right-click here to download.

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The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: The Return of Drunk Dialing — How to Ask Better Questions, Take Better Risks, and More!

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Please enjoy this transcript of The Return of Drunk Dialing Q & A, for which I solicited phone numbers from listeners who want to receive a call from me, and then start drinking and dialing, answering questions and getting a little frisky along the way. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. With some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy the tequila-fueled Q&A!

Listen to the episode here or by selecting any of the options below.

#330: The Return of Drunk Dialing Q&A: How to Ask Better Questions, Take Better Risks, and More!

Tim Ferriss: Hello, you crazy kids. This is Tim Ferriss. Welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferriss Show where it is my want to investigate the habits and routines of world-class performers to try to tease out the various details that you might apply to your own life. This episode is a very different format. It is an odd one that has proven surprisingly popular for reasons that sometimes I don’t quite understand. And that is a drunk dialing Q&A with all of you guys, which I’ve done a few times in the last few years. And here’s how it works. I solicited phone numbers from listeners on Facebook and Twitter who wanted to receive a phone call from me, which they put into a Google form. Then I told people who the first ten to 20 were going to be by posting it on social media. And then I started drinking and dialing, answering questions, and getting a little frisky along the way.

In fact, this one, I came in hot. Started after a few preliminary drinks with friends on a weekend. So, it’s double trouble. I ended up covering topics including how to reassess existing projects, specifically ones which you’ve put a lot of capital and time into using 80/20 analysis and other tools; how to learn to care less about what people think, social perception, and how to minimize herd mentality – not saying I’m perfect in that regard, but I’m pretty good and have approaches for decreasing the perceived pressure around all those things – a framework for thinking about entrepreneurship, risk-taking, and how to cut your teeth as a business builder or creator; how to learn to ask better questions, whether in dating or sales; and how to let the silence do the work; and so much more. And all that preamble out of the way, please enjoy this tequila fueled Q&A with all y’all.

Danny: This is Danny.

Tim Ferriss: Hey, Danny. This is Tim Ferriss. Hey, Danny. This is Tim Ferriss. I dropped my mic. How are you?

Danny: I’m doing well, man. How are you?

Tim Ferriss: Oh, I’m clicking into sixth gear, which is sloppy gear. So, you’re catching me at a good point. This is just in the transition to probably 20 percent too much alcohol. How are you doing?

Danny: I don’t know, man. Relative to you, I’m not quite sure. How many glasses of wine are you in right now?

Tim Ferriss: Oh, no. We’re dealing with straight tequila. So, I would say I’m –

Danny: Straight tequila?

Tim Ferriss: – four or five glasses in, which is, I’d say a pretty good spot. It’s not completely haphazard, but it is well-lubricated. Where are you at the moment?

Danny: I am currently in Salt Lake City, Utah. Are you in Texas at the moment?

Tim Ferriss: I am. The fine city of Austin in the Republic of Texas. Big fan of SLC though. It’s a good spot. So, how can I assist this evening? What questions might you have?

Danny: Yeah. I have a two-part question. So, essentially, what it is is besides from fear setting, which you’ve gone over multiple times, is what process or system do you use or have you used in the past to essentially, effectively stop caring about what other people’s opinions are about you, your endeavors, things like that? And then how do you go about building a world-class support system?

Tim Ferriss: These could both go for a while, so I will try my best to provide a non-bullshit answer to either or both. In terms of getting to the point where you care less or not at all about what other people think, let me drill in here your personal case. So, what is there that you might want to do where caring about what other people think is inhibiting your ability to execute, whether for yourself or for the world at large in some capacity?

Danny: Yeah. So, for myself, it’d just be entrepreneurship as a whole just because I grew up – well, I’m an immigrant. So, came to the states when I was four from Germany. Family emigrated to Germany from Yugoslavia in the early ‘90s with all of the war and genocide going on. So, the immigrant narrative is you’re nobody unless you get a college degree. So, naturally, I’m competing against all of my family members and cousins who are all electrical engineers and mechanical engineers, etc., etc. So, regardless of what ideas, ambitions, or anything else in that regard has to do with that, as long as I don’t have a college degree, nobody values it. And they’re like, “Oh, you’re just spinning your wheels and wasting your time.”

Tim Ferriss: Got it. Okay. So, you’re not then concerned about what prospective customers or people in the marketplace think of whatever you’re starting. It’s more of a question of family members?

Danny: Right. Just essentially getting out of the herd mentality and just being able to effectively break away from that and not be bogged down with just some of the things that are gonna happen within my own circle.

Tim Ferriss: This is tougher. This is tougher than the marketplace. I would say tougher but not impossible. I would recommend a few resources. This is not something that I’ve personally experienced, but it’s something that a lot of my friends have experienced. It’s very, very common as you know with immigrant families, whether – a lot of my friends are first generation, raised in the US from India, for instance. Exceptionally common. If you are not an engineer, lawyer, or doctor, or fill in the blank, then all of your motives and future prospects are suspect. What I have observed is that if you experience a degree of success in entrepreneurship, then all sins are forgiven and ultimately, people are very proud of what you’ve done.

A few resources that I might recommend that I’ve found helpful in navigating maybe somewhat similar psychic space and that I’ve seen other people benefit from and that have come up a lot in interviews on the podcast, for instance, as it relates to some similar life experiences. One would be Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. The second which has come up a lot is The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. Both of these books are quite short. I wanna say both are certainly no longer than 250 pages and maybe less than 200 each. So, you could read each in an afternoon or certainly a single day. And aside from that, I would look for people who have done what you are trying to do, namely succeed as an entrepreneur as the child of immigrants who have a security-focused mindset, if I could be so bold as to assume that’s the case.

Danny: That is the case. Yeah. I’ll confirm.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. And there are many, many, many such people to look to, whether that’s – on the name brand side, you can certainly pick and choose. I’m more familiar with many of the Indian entrepreneurs who have done this based on spending time with organizations like the IndUS entrepreneur, TiE, which may or may not exist any longer. But it was certainly a major entity when I was first getting to know the Bay Area with nothing to my name aside from really, a piece of shit hand-me-down green minivan. And I’ve always found those stories to be exceptionally inspiring but also to serve as proof of concept for you, to see that it can be done and that in fact, those people then end up not just being reconciled with their family but very respected and honored and talked about by their family at the same time. So, I think studying historical cases is very useful in a situation like this.

Fear-setting, certainly we already talked about it. You already talked about it. I’m not gonna belabor that. Otherwise, I do think that – and Richa Chadda, who’s an Indian actress, certainly more than that, but talked about this in Tribe of Mentors when I asked her what she did when she felt overwhelmed or unfocused. And she would ask, “So what?” So, you write down your fear. And this is different from fear setting. But she would ask, “So what?” five to eight times, let’s just say. And you’d write down your fear. “This happens. So what?” And then you write the consequence or the preceding generative fear. And then, “So what?” And then, “So what?” And then, “So what?” And by the time you really get to the bottom of one or two pages, you realize that the teeth just aren’t there. I’m making this up. This may not be true for you. But ultimately, your family will love you no matter what.

They’re just busting your balls about this particular thing. Or if you fail in entrepreneurship, you can always go get a job. It may not be in electrical engineering, but if you wanted to and had to, you had a gun against your head, you had to go find a job that your parents would approve of or your siblings would approve of, you could do that. Or you could at least get on a path that would lead to one of those jobs and therefore, in and of itself, be respectable to your family members. So, that’s another tool in the toolkit, potentially. But I think that any modicum of success forgives all sins.

Danny: Right. Yeah. The problem is just getting to the initial one, right/

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Yeah. It is. It is. But look, I am not – my grandfather was the first of his family born in the United States on one side of my family. And I never dealt with having parents who were first generation immigrants at all. But certainly, my parents have been unable to explain to anyone what Tim does for a living for a really, really long time. It was very, very hard to explain. And once I had a label like author or podcaster that could be used, it made things a whole lot easier. And they were very supportive. I don’t wanna say my parents weren’t supportive. They were. But the labels and the success combine to give your parents or siblings a story that makes sense for them and that they can convey to other people. And you can help them to develop that narrative, if that makes sense.

Danny: No, I think it makes sense.

Tim Ferriss: And you can also help them to develop that narrative by introducing them to documentaries or books or stories or articles about immigrants who have become entrepreneurs.

Danny: Yeah. Well, all of that is that my dad and uncles and everybody else that came over here first generation were all entrepreneur immigrants. For them, it totally just filled the No. 1 priority for all things. So, it’s an interesting paradox.


Tim Ferriss: Yeah. And here’s another thing I would say. It doesn’t make you weak to care about what other people think. It makes you human. As a species, Homo Sapiens would not have created – arguably destroyed also – but what we have created without a concern for social perception and hierarchy. That is just part of the programming that we experience as a human being. And it serves a lot of productive purposes. So, I wouldn’t judge yourself too harshly for caring what other people think. You just have to equally care about what you think. And a good way to learn to care about what you think is to take it out of your head and to put it onto paper, whether that’s through fear setting, through the five-minute journal or something like that, morning pages, and so on. I really find that I cannot grapple productively with my own thoughts until I have trapped them on paper in some fashion.

Danny: No, that makes complete sense. I appreciate that.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. So, hopefully that helps. If it doesn’t, I apologize. But what else do you have for me?

Danny: I guess I don’t need necessarily the answer that was in the initial question but just that is going about building I guess world-class support systems or just getting in the right network or group of people. You were in Silicon Valley around a bunch of an Angel [inaudible] and it was a pack industry which initially helped open a lot of doors for you, broke down a lot of barriers to help you get your foot in the door and become as successful as you are or were in that field.

Tim Ferriss: Let’s get specific. So, what do you need a support system for? What are you trying to achieve? What do you think you need one for?

Danny: Right. And so, I guess it just ties into going into just my ambitions of entrepreneurship and branching out in some form, essentially doing my own thing and –


Tim Ferriss: Okay, which is totally fine. But entrepreneurship is very, very broad. That could be any –

Danny: I apologize.

Tim Ferriss: No, no, no. You don’t have to apologize. It’s very common that people want to man their own ship and carve their own course. But it will help me to think about the question if we have some degree of specificity. And if you’re trying to pick, and this is something I’ve mentioned before, but the five people with whom to associate with most, whether they’re in the form of books, in-person mentors or otherwise, you do need the specificity to help you target, whether that’s a skillset or certain types of characteristics that you want to develop.

So, what do you wanna do in the world of entrepreneurship? Who are the people you aspire to be like? What are the projects that you would love to be a part of? And where are you in that journey also? Do you have a company with ten employees? Do you have a company with one employee, namely you? Do you have no company, but you’re thinking about starting something? Where are you at the moment?

Danny: Yeah. So, for context, essentially, I look at getting individuals such as yourself or like a Gary Vaynerchuk, John D. Rockefeller, Steve Jobs, obviously not aiming to hit those heights just because there’s so much luck involved in that. But those are I guess just some of the people that I bring to the forefront often and think about often. And as far as pulling the trigger on doing something, I’ve always gotten to the point of building something, building up a system, essentially having everything set up on my end, but then just never pulling the trigger and going live. Right now, I work at a small startup that’s San Francisco based, actually – but they have an office in Utah – as an operations analyst and do a lot of building in sales force. But essentially, I’m just trying to branch out, do my own thing in the realm of social and trying to create some sort of hybrid between the two.

Tim Ferriss: What do you want to get – what do you think you might get through entrepreneurship that you don’t get through your current job?

Danny: Being the captain of my own ship. It’s never sat well with me being that guy where it’s like, “Okay. Here’s your job. Here’s your role. Here’s what we think you’re capable of. And here’s your pay, relative to what we think your skillset is [inaudible] and then go ahead and plan your life accordingly to that.” I’d essentially just like to have more time and be able to have my own life, my own agenda, my own calendar, do whatever I wanna do at my will. And then I’m also recently married. I’m coming up on two years in May and trying to start a family in the next couple of years. So, essentially giving them a one up and better foundation than what I had started on. And I just love the game of business.

Tim Ferriss: If you had to start a business tomorrow, you got fired and you need to start generating income within – let’s just call it eight weeks. You have eight weeks of severance. We can make it 12. Let’s be generous. You have 12 weeks of severance. You have health insurance for a year, let’s just assume. What would you do?

Danny: I’d go into e-commerce and build something on Shopify and do whatever market research necessary and just get something going.

Tim Ferriss: What would you sell?

Danny: Probably apparel.

Tim Ferriss: Apparel. Why would you sell apparel?

Danny: Now you’re grilling me. I feel like I could find some sort of niche to fill as far as people identifying with some sort of group or industry whether it’s – I’m just throwing things out there for the sake of throwing things out there, but whether it’s apparel that’s geared towards entrepreneurship – I’ve seen a lot of things trending where it’s like, “Crypto-investors,” and Bit-coin,” and stuff like that. I know it’s trendy. It’s not gonna be long-term but things that effectively just help me get from point A to point B in the meantime.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. So, here’s what I would suggest as a framework for thinking about entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is not mutually exclusive with employment. And truth be told, I think the best way to cut your teeth as an entrepreneur is doing so while you have a paycheck. Even though people might think of me as a risk-taker and someone with a high tolerance for risk, I don’t think of myself that way. And for the record, I’ve interviewed people like Richard Branson, for instance. They do not think of themselves that way either. First and foremost, they’re looking at how to mitigate risks. So, I would suggest that if that is what you would do as an entrepreneur, that you spend, say, every Friday night and Saturday for the next eight weeks developing that business or Sunday afternoons and evenings, whatever it might be so that you have the security of the paycheck you’re receiving.

You are fulfilling your obligations to your employer while simultaneously cutting your teeth and testing the assumptions that are underpinning your belief that apparel and e-commerce could be the business that provides you with the freedom you seek. And there’s no right answer here, I should also emphasize, in the sense that for better or for worse, the American dream and the media machines that exist in our country highlight the entrepreneurs who seemingly throw caution to the wind, bet the farm, and win big. That is not how most entrepreneurs succeed. And in fact, that is not how most humans achieve a life of fulfillment and financial security and contentment. There is no shame in determining that you are a really, really, really good lieutenant or general who can execute on orders and take something that would overwhelm other people in complexity or fill in the blank parameter and turn a plan into reality.

That is an incredibly powerful gift. And if you do that within the confines of a company, that is in no way indicative of a lower value than being an entrepreneur staring off into space and trying to figure out what the fuck to do. I am an entrepreneur because I am a shitty, shitty, shitty, shitty, shitty employee, basically. And I’m proud of that in some capacities. But I’m also ashamed of that in other capacities. There are severe personality and interpersonal deficits that make my entrepreneurship a necessity and not an option. Does that make sense?

Danny: Right. Yeah, that makes sense.

Tim Ferriss: And furthermore, I am not a good manager of people. I’m very good at figuring out systems. I am very, very, very good at figuring out processes. I’m not a good manager of people. I have certain Achilles’ heels including unreasonable impatience and perfectionism and other things that lead me to be very difficult to work with and very difficult to work for, certainly. And I don’t wear those as a badge of honor. I think those are handicaps in many respects. And there’s no way that I could possibly be the CEO of a publicly traded company. I wouldn’t pass go in a situation like that. So, I have my sweet spot. Other people have their sweet spots. And you are gonna have your sweet spot. And I wouldn’t judge yourself harshly at all if that ends up being a special purpose weapon inside a company for doing X, Y, and Z. But the way you test your assumptions related to entrepreneurship is by doing so in a moonlighting capacity.

So, I would take what it is you think you could do when you quit your job and do that now. I wouldn’t test those assumptions when you’ve already cut the umbilical cord and you no longer have the financial security of a paycheck. So, I would do that now. And I’ve seen a lot of really, really, really, really good companies start it that way. But for the sake of your sanity and financial security and also the security of your family to be, if you’re considering moving on that, I would absolutely moonlight. What that’s gonna mean is you’re gonna have to put in extra time in addition to your job, whether it’s on evenings or weekends or otherwise. And guess what? That is what you’re signing up for if you choose to be an entrepreneur. If you’re currently working eight hours a day, for at least the first six to 12 months, you’re gonna be working 12, 14 hours a day. And almost without exception, that is a foregone conclusion.

So, you might as well get used to that in terms of additional hours per week and see how you handle it psychologically, physically, and otherwise because that is par for the course for at least the first six to 12 months without any necessary guarantee of success in the longer term. So, those are a few possibilities to consider. But I would absolutely make sure that you moonlight and test your entrepreneurial chops and develop your entrepreneurial skills while you still have fulltime income. I think that’s a very cautious but ultimately intelligent way to approach things.

Danny: Right. That makes sense. No, I appreciate your insight.

Tim Ferriss: All right. Anything else? I know that probably – hopefully that’s not completely underwhelming as a recommendation. But I would really just fucking get to it. If you’re gonna be an entrepreneur, you don’t have to wait until you quit your job. Start now. Start tonight. Start this weekend. Just fucking get on it. It’s like, “All right. Set up your Shopify. Start doing your market research to determine exactly what you’re gonna test first and what you can dry test before you do any manufacturing. Or are there options like Teespring or otherwise that enable you to begin to kick the tires and see if what you think is gonna resonate and sell will actually resonate and sell. So on and so forth.

Danny: Right. No. And I hope I’m enclosing on your time, but I have one more question that’s not necessarily business or entrepreneurship related. And hopefully, it’s not a longwinded answer either.

Tim Ferriss: Go for it. I’ll try to keep my inebriated ass to a few sentences. Go for it.

Danny: No. You’re good. So, how do you find a foundation on how to balance a caloric surplus, heavy and intensive, high purchasing, regimental [inaudible] but also mix in intermittent fasting or ketogenic? Or is it just the binary, you’re either being one or the other? Or we need to find a way to mix the two in some capacity?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. I would say you’re doing either – well, at least in my case, you’re doing one or the other. So, right now, I’m in tequila, chocolate chip cookie, bullshit caloric surplus mode because I’ve been having a tough week. So, I’ve been just completely blowing every rule. And basically aging and dying as quickly as possible while getting fat in the process.

Danny: There you go. What a beautiful ending.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. There’s that garbage mode which is what I’m in right now. I try not to do that too, too often, but I’m currently there because I’ve had a motherfucker of a couple of weeks. And then you have the programmatic hypertrophy, likely high insulin growth mode which is very much performance focused and not longevity focused. And I will schedule periods during which I achieve ketosis. And that is very frequently through fasting. And this is something that should be done with medical supervision. But I will do, generally speaking, a minimum of three contiguous days of fasting per month. And then I will do five to ten day fasts at least once per year, ideally three to four times per year. And that is something that you should speak with your doctor about. But otherwise, I do not generally sustain long periods of ketosis because I find it so dietarily boring as all fuck. It’s awful. It’s really, really boring.

And this is particularly true if you remove dairy, which I’ve tried to do because my lipid profile goes sideways if I consume cheese and dairy while in ketosis which is something that I’ve identified and which is not that uncommon, in fact. So, I treat the, I would say, performance focused periods as quite separate from my longevity/autophagy focused periods which could involve fasting. It could involve going hypercaloric. It could involve intermittent fasting. It could involve fast mimicking diets, a la Victor Longo or any number of other things.

I don’t currently use anything like Metformin or rapamycin but at some point could incorporate one or both of those and so on and so forth. But I do treat those as quite separate, much like looking at body builders going through bulking and cutting phases, although that’s mostly aesthetically focused, certainly reflects a certain caloric load and macronutrient ratio that I tend to alternate between. I don’t try to achieve both at the same time.

Danny: That makes sense. Okay. Nice ending. I really appreciate your time. I’m just freaking out. I’m ecstatic that I made the shortlist. And I appreciate you giving me a call and devoting your time to helping me out and trying to help me get started and going. And the only thing I’m just curious about is when can I take you to lunch sometime when you’re in Salt Lake.

Tim Ferriss: Well, you know what? I might throw it up on social when I’m next there. So, you can keep an eye out for that. But I can’t make any promises beyond that. However, I would like to ask that you just fucking get after it. So, we’re recording this on a Thursday. So, I’d say this weekend – you are now an entrepreneur starting right now. So, don’t quit your job, and get started on testing the rest of it in your off hours.

Danny: Awesome. Thank you so much, dude. I appreciate it.

Tim Ferriss: Of course. My pleasure. Have a great night.

Danny: Goodnight, man.

Tim Ferriss: Hello?

Joseph: Hello.

Tim Ferriss: Is this Joseph?

Joseph: This is. Is this Timothy?

Tim Ferriss: This is Timothy. Good evening.

Joseph: How are you, sir?

Tim Ferriss: I’m doing well. I am all yours. So, please fire away. What can I help with? What can I answer, if anything?

Joseph: First, like most people I’m sure, I wanna thank you for everything. I found your book through the Barbell Shrug guys.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Good crew.

Joseph: Yeah. And because of them, I found podcasts, and I found you, and I found your books. And I’ve become one of your thousand true fans, as Kevin Kelly would say. So, thank you.

Tim Ferriss: Well, thank you for listening.

Joseph: Thank you for doing what you do. So, I know you have a lot of projects, and you’ve always got a shit-ton of balls in the air. And I consider myself a jack of many trades or a dilettante in training, if you will. And with that comes – I have a diverse group of interests and things. I’m always trying to pursue something different. And you’ve talked several times about the advice that you were given when it comes to picking projects that you only have six rounds or bullets a year to pull the trigger on. And the more that you try to – if you try anymore, it pulls you in too many directions. So, how do you pick projects, and how do you know what to pull the trigger on and what to let go? Because I’m constantly trying to always look at the next shiny object.

Tim Ferriss: No. This is a good question. It’s very timely for me as well because quite frankly, I’ve taken on too many projects and also realized that many of the projects I’m working on currently are legacy projects. In other words, the reasons for starting them seemed valid a year ago, two years ago, six months ago. And now, with new information, with the ability to test those projects, some of which have underperformed, some of which have overperformed, there’s an inclination to continue doing those things we’ve invested a lot into due to sunk cost fallacy and so on. And I am at a point right now where I’m reassessing not only the projects that I might do, new projects, but really putting under scrutiny a lot of my current projects.

And the way that I’m going about that right now is No. 1, doing a lot of hypothetical journaling – or it’s actually real journaling but based on hypothetical questions, namely, “If I stop doing X, what might be the upside? How might it be a good thing or a great thing?” projects that I’ve put a lot of energy, time, capital, resources into – and forcing myself to write out a full page of bullets or a full page of sentences for each of these projects that is consuming a disproportionate amount of my time primarily.

So, if we’re looking at 80/20 analysis which is something I come back to repeatedly – Pareto’s law and so on from 4-Hour Workweek and elsewhere that I’ve written about it – where I’ll ask myself, “What are the 20 percent of projects right now that are consuming 80 percent or more of my time?” or, “What are the 20 percent of projects or relationships that are currently producing 80 percent or more of the phone calls, conference calls, email, and other types of – in most cases – noise?” And those go on the chopping block for consideration for elimination. And really, what I’ve realized for myself and what I’m going through right now is recognizing that it’s always easier to look at the shiny, new project versus looking at your current roster and deciding which children to kill as it relates to projects. So, I’m trying very hard not to say yes to new things until I’ve streamlined my current operations.

If you’re ten percent from the breaking point at all times and you take on more projects, it’s a foregone conclusion that eventually, that’s not going to work. And currently – I literally just did this last night – I sit down. I’m spending time on morning pages, as I’ve written about before. So, Julia Cameron. Morning pages. And I’m also doing an 80/20 analysis on the positive side. And that applies on a few different dimensions. No. 1 is financial. So, I’m looking at where the income is actually coming from, and what are the handful of projects or activities – in my case, let’s just say podcast and a handful of other things – that generate the vast majority of monthly, annual income and then looking at ways to streamline that. And the question that I would ask there which is something I’ve wrote about I believe in Tribe of Mentors was, “What might this look like if it were easy?”

So, the way I’m answering your question may be somewhat dissatisfying, but the point being that what I’ve learned over time is that you really need to basically put your current projects in front of the judge and jury for possible execution before you even consider what to say yes to in the new category. On the new category, what I might look at are projects or tasks that make the other possible projects and tasks either irrelevant or much easier. For instance, I’m looking at – I’ll give you a list of projects that could be on my plate. One would be doing another book similar to Tribe of Mentors where I have 100 to 200 experts of various types weighing in, answering the same set of or a similar set of questions. The next could be I work on a feature film, screenplay that I then intend to produce and direct or at least produce to have some creative control over.

Then I could put on that same list I want to, from soup to nuts, start to finish, beg, borrow, and steal to get Robert Rodriguez’s attention to, from the first word of the screenplay to the finished product work on a handful of short films. And so on and so forth. And if I look at those three, I might decide that it’s in my best interest to not do the feature film first because I would learn so much through the process with Robert before doing that that it would behoove me to tackle a handful of short films or even one or two so that that will better inform the decisions I make with the higher stakes project which would be the feature film. I may further decide that it makes sense to do another book where perhaps I invite the 20 to 50 figures in entertainment and feature film and so on who I might later want to collaborate with to contribute in some fashion. And in that sense, I think about the logical progression that will make each subsequent project easier.

And I remember I heard it said at one point – and this might have been from Tony Robbins, but I may be misattributing it. Could have been – who knows? – Any number of people. In any case, in effect, that we overestimate what we can achieve in a day or a month, but we underestimate what we could get done in three to five years or ten years. And for me, it’s come down to realizing that you can actually do everything, just about everything. You just can’t do it at the same time. So, you have to figure out the logical progression that puts you ahead. And when in doubt, choosing projects that help you to develop skills and relationships that transcend any single, given project because you might look at, for instance, a single project like The 4-Hour Chef which was a tremendous amount of work. It was a huge investment of time. It was a suicidal schedule.

Very proud of the outcome. But ultimately, from a commercial standpoint, and because it was the first major acquisition through Amazon publishing, it was boycotted everywhere. And the sales were quite disappointing to me, certainly because we didn’t have the distribution necessary. And you could look at that as an abject failure, but in doing that for print distribution, I got to know the people at HMH, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which then went on to publish Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors, both of which ended up being No. 1. So, I developed the relationship with those people, was able to kick the tires, learn their strengths and weaknesses, while also developing other skills that then later informed bigger projects, arguably speaking. So, that’s a long answer, but I would encourage you to also pick up a book – it’s very short. I’ve read it dozens of times – called The Effective Executive.

In fact, saying it right now makes me realize that I should reread it myself. But The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker would be one place that I would also turn to as a resource when trying to make decisions about your time, which ultimately every decision or almost every decision comes down to. So, those would be a few guidelines that I would suggest, at least as having been helpful for me in the past.

Joseph: So, basically figure out what you’re doing that’s sucking all the energy that you could be using on something that you would care more about and get rid of those and then go back and, when you’re picking new projects, figure out what your end goal is and figure out the best project that will get you the skills to get you to the end goal, even if it doesn’t take you directly there.

Tim Ferriss: Right. The progression of projects that will get you to one longer-term objective, even if it’s just a placeholder. That may totally change. But as long as you’re amassing skills and developing relationships, those are more adaptable than is important the report card for any single project, at least if you’re thinking longer-term. That’d be my recommendation. All right. If you have one more that’s short, I’ll take a stab at it. But otherwise, we can decide how to –


Joseph: I do have one. You always talk about your five people. Who are your five people?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. This is a good question. And the five people change. So, I would say that very often, they are – they’re almost always close friends of mine just by virtue of the question, “Who are the five people you associate with most?” And for those people who don’t have the context, I and many other people have said you’re the average of the five people you associate with most, whether it’s physically, emotionally, psychologically, whatever it might be. Remotely, I still spend a lot of time with close friends of mine who I admire and aspire to be more like in certain ways. Naval Ravikant, Kevin Rose, Matt Mullenweg would all be on my list. Then looking at people closer to me geographically now, since I live in Austin, Texas, you would Robert Rodriguez.

I think Aubrey Marcus, CEO of Onnit actually has a lot figured out and not only figured out but implemented in a very systematic way that is hard to appreciate until you’ve actually spent a lot of time around him. And so forth and so on. I would say Ray Dalio is also on that list. I don’t spend as much time with him as I would like, but certainly from a – reasoning from and planning from first principles’ perspective, one of the more impressive guys that you’ll ever come across. So, those are a few folks on my list. And they all have a lot of writing and recording out there. So, it’s possible to learn from them even if you don’t know them directly. All right, my friend. Well, I’ll tell you what. I need to keep drinking and keep dialing. So, you have a wonderful night and appreciate the questions.

Joseph: Hello?

Tim Ferriss: Hi. Is this Regina?

Regina: Oh, my God. Hi. Yes. This is Regina.

Tim Ferriss: This is Tim Ferriss. I’m looking at your area code. It is late as hell where you are.

Regina: Yeah. It’s late. But it’s okay. [inaudible]

Tim Ferriss: Well, you are my last call of the evening, so, I appreciate you being awake. Are you game for a short conversation?

Regina: I am. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: All right. Perfect. Well, I guess it’s – what is it? It’s probably 2:30 in the morning or something like that where you are. Maybe 1:30 in the morning. In any case, I am well warmed up and happy to try to answer any questions that you might have. I can’t make any quality guarantees, but I’ll certainly give it a shot. So, how can I help?

Regina: So, first, thank you for calling. And I guess my first question is, since I am the last call, how much have you partaken?

Tim Ferriss: A fine question. I’ve had I would say five moderate glasses of tequila and soda. So, I’m very much – I’m not gonna say levitating, but I feel light on my feet which I think is more a reflection of the alcohol than anything else. But I’m not completely incoherent. So, it’s a good middle ground I would say.

Regina: All right. Not so much. That’s decent then. I guess my question for you would be a good one because I always have a hard problem with this. How do you come up with questions to ask people to ask the right questions to be a good interviewer so that you are getting to know them very well or getting the right answers or the answers that are interesting for your listeners?

Tim Ferriss: The way I approach that is not thinking of my listeners at all, quite frankly. I ask the questions that relate to personal pains or personal goals or dreams that I have. And I assume that that will apply to some percentage of my listeners, but it’s a very personal journey for me. And there’s a bit more planning to it in the sense that if I’m talking to someone who is very, very frequently interviewed who has a lot of public exposure, then I will try to avoid questions they were frequently asked for the first 20 to 30 minutes of the interview. But if we’re looking at the overarching approach, I would say it is intense curiosity and a focus on my own personal needs that drives the questions I ask.

Regina: Okay. That makes sense. You’ve been asked quite a lot of questions, and you’ve told us quite a lot I guess over the years about things that I probably already had questions for. I would like to know the answer to – because I struggle with that just in general, personally because I’m more of a listener than a talker. So, even amongst if I’m dating or a friend or something like that, I find it hard to come up with questions that make the other person feel like I’m interested because I’m usually the type of person that’s anything that I’m told or how things just unfold naturally is how I guess I feel comfortable with learning about someone.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. The questions don’t have to be sophisticated at all. In fact, one way to ask questions is just to be quiet. So, I was told by Cal Fussman who wrote the “What I Learned” column for Esquire for decades, who primarily wrote that column and interviewed everyone from George Clooney to Gorbachev to President Bush and so on and every single celebrity in between, he told me at one point, “Let the silence do the work.” You don’t have to ask questions per se to be a good conversationalist, but there are also very, very short questions that you can ask following almost any statement from someone else, such as, “What did you learn from that?” or, “How did that make you feel?”

There are very, very short questions that you can ask that can then prompt someone to talk for two to five to ten minutes. It doesn’t have to be anything groundbreaking or particularly innovative. And in fact, if you try to come up with really clever questions, it very often comes off as disingenuous or artificial. So, simple tends to work really well in my experience.

Regina: Okay. Well, I guess to piggyback off of that, my other thing is that I always feel like I’m asking a question that might be a little too personal. Do you ever feel that way when you’re thinking of things or flowing with a conversation like, “How do I ask this question?” or, “Is this too much?”

Tim Ferriss: What would be an example of a question you might ask that would be too personal?

Regina: I don’t know. Sometimes I guess just for me, I’m the type of person that I grew up – as a child when I was younger, I grew up with my family members being older than me because I’m the youngest. So, I was always in that situation where it was like a child’s safe in a child’s place. You don’t ask that question. Or you only talk when spoken to kind of thing when I was younger. And it’s rolled over. So, even something as simple as if I am dating someone or we’re asking questions to get to know each other, asking anything like how to know which questions asking about the past or asking about past people they’ve dated or things like that, like what happened at the end of the last relationship.

Sometimes I feel like that question might be a little too personal for someone, just asking them off the bat. And I wait for that conversation to be brought up by them so that it’s brought up in a way they’re comfortable with. So, I guess that stops me from asking a lot of the questions that I am curious about because I don’t wanna come off too forward.

Tim Ferriss: Well, I don’t know if the questions are too personal. They might just be too early. So, in a context like that, you don’t wanna jump from the intellectual equivalent of a pat on the shoulder to heavy petting in ten seconds flat. You don’t wanna just emotionally sideswipe someone where they’re like, “Holy shit. This woman’s asking me about my most embarrassing, humiliating moment of my life. And we barely got drinks already. Okay. This is too much for me to handle.” Is that the only context? Or are there other contexts? Is it primarily in a dating context that you’re concerned about this? Or are there other contexts where this affects you?

Regina: Well, for the past year, I’m still learning how to be a travel agent. So, in sales, it’s just asking the qualifying questions, asking the right questions, asking questions that build rapport. So, sometimes you’re reading someone. And some people tell you things that you may not have even wanted to know, but they just roll along with the conversation, and they let themselves – they just talk. And that’s where I feel more comfortable.

But then when it’s an instance where you have someone who you wanna try – because I’m an introvert, so it’s a lot easier for me to listen to someone else talk than it is for me to try to facilitate that conversation to make it flow so that it does seem natural, like I’m having a conversation with someone but also getting the information I need to give them the product that they’re looking for because they don’t know necessarily what they’re looking for. And that’s why they’ve come to us. I’ll have to ask them the questions to get those answers to provide them with something that makes them feel like I understand.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, totally. So, first and foremost, being an introvert is not a handicap. I am very much – I would view myself as an introvert who can pretend to be an extrovert for limited periods of time. Don’t get fancy. So, for instance, when someone’s telling you something, you can just say, “Tell me more about that.” “Really? Give me an example.” “Could you tell me more about that?” “How does that make you feel?” “Why is this important?” There are questions like that which are very, very simple that keep someone talking. And eventually, they’re going to give you that nugget of information that helps you to better design a solution for them or find the answer to a specific need they had which they couldn’t articulate if you simply asked them, “What do you need?” They wouldn’t be able to give you the right answer.

If you really just had five to ten of these follow-up questions noted down on a piece of paper in front of you, you would be able to pick and choose, which by the way, is exactly what I often do or did, at least for the first 100 podcasts that I had on this show. So, there’s no shame in that. I think that it’s very helpful to have a go-to portfolio of follow-up questions which are very, very short and very, very simple to keep people talking, in at least a sales context. And that’s true, in my experience, for dating as well. If you didn’t wanna ask about how their last relationship ended, you could ask them, “Well, how did you end up using Tinder?” “How long have you been doing da-da-da-da?” “What led you to that?” You can ask question which get them to the same end without coming off as the psycho who’s going for the jugular right away. Do you know what I mean?

And trust me, I’ve been that person. I get it. But you can tiptoe around it while leading them to the story of what brought them to where they are today without being exceptionally direct about it. For instance, if I’m interviewing someone who’s dealt with a scandal – and my podcast isn’t about scandals. It’s not about, “Gotcha,” but maybe I wanna explore the emotional terrain that reflects how they reacted to some very difficult set of circumstances. If I ask them directly, “How did you respond to this event that happened when such and such person accused you of such and such thing?” they’re gonna shut down. That is a non-starter.

But if I ask them – and I know something happened within the last three years, and I ask them, “Could you tell me – people listening to this podcast will think, based on your bio, based on all the successes you’ve had, that every time you step up to the plate, you hit homeruns. And I feel like that is inspiring on one hand, but very intimidating on the other. So, I’d like to try to humanize you a bit. Can you tell us about a really difficult situation or a circumstance in the last handful of years and how you responded to it?” Framing it that way opens the door to allow them to introduce it without hitting them with a full frontal assault that is gonna make them defensive.

Regina: That makes sense. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So, that’s an indirect way to approach something that allows someone else to feel like they’re taking the initiative and introducing a topic that may be uncomfortable to them.

Regina: Okay. Yeah. And I think that’s my biggest problem is because I’m afraid to ask the question in any way. So, I don’t. And then the other person maybe feels like, “Oh, she’s not a good conversationalist,” or, “She doesn’t care to ask anything about me because she never asks any questions that are deeper than the typical questions.” So, I can ask indirect questions that makes the conversation start flowing and gives them control over what they tell me.

Tim Ferriss: Furthermore, I would recommend that you practice when it doesn’t matter. So, don’t just practice with sales prospects. Don’t just practice with people that you’re dating, you have the hots for, and that you wanna have babies with. Don’t do that. You know what I mean? Where you’re like, “Oh, my God. This one could be the one,” that’s not the time to practice. The time to practice is when you’re talking to fucking Joe Blow in line at Starbucks. You’re like, “All right. I don’t give a shit what this guy thinks.”

That’s the time to practice. And it’s the same skillset. It is the same toolkit. It is the same portfolio of go-to questions that you can utilize on a regular basis so you develop a baseline level of comfort with this repertoire so that you can then, as second nature, use it very naturally when it matters. So, that would be one of my recommendations is practice when it doesn’t matter, whether that is negotiating a pickup line, a follow-up question, a simple way of bridging one topic to the next. Really go out of your way to practice when it doesn’t matter.

Regina: Okay. Yeah. That makes sense. So, then my other question would be, to follow up from that, how – because I actually don’t have a lot of situations where I could ask those questions where it doesn’t matter because I pretty much just go to work, go to the gym, and then come home. Well, actually, I guess I’ve already been doing that because I CrossFit. So, it’s eight people, ten people in the classes the times that I go to. And I’ve already been trying to talk more with people at class as opposed to just going to class, going in the shower, and leaving. And I’ve already been doing that, but I guess I can start making a fat list of follow-up questions that help move the conversation along to get to know people that I’m talking about. And that definitely helps having things set already because I work better that way when I already know how I’m supposed to do things.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Get an index card. Write down the five questions, and just make it happen. You’re not gonna find time to do it, so you have to create time to do it. And that could be the boyfriend watching the dog while his girlfriend’s doing some God-awful Francis CrossFit workout or whatever. It’s all right. That’s the guy. You’re like, “All right. That’s my dude. That’s the guy I’m practicing on.” You walk over like, “Hey. What’s your fucking dog’s name? Oh, cool. Really? How did you choose that dog? Oh, wow. What’s the story behind that?” That’s another good question, “What’s the story behind X? Huh. How’d you decide on Y? Huh. That’s interesting. That’s interesting to me. Tell me more about that.”

“Tell me more about that,” is such a lazy, useful statement. “How did you decide that? How did that make you feel? That sounds crazy. I don’t know how I’d respond to that.” Okay, boom. Then you have another – you just bought a three to five minute story. And just practice that stuff. You’re not gonna find time to do it, so you have to make time to do it. If you make it a priority, it will serve you. If you don’t make it a priority, it’s not gonna help you. So, that would be, in my drunken stupor, a Yoda like line that may or may not help.

Regina: No, I think that was a very coherent answer to my question, given the fact that you’ve had five tequilas tonight.

Tim Ferriss: Fantastic. Well, I should let you get some sleep, and I should probably also take my dog out for a walk and do the same thing. So, I think I will –

Regina: Well, thank you for calling, Tim.

Tim Ferriss: My pleasure. And good luck. Honestly, listen to my first few podcasts, especially the first one when Kevin Rose is busting my balls. It’s rough. It’s really, really rough. This is a craft. This is something you can learn and practice. And I really believe anyone can get better at it because it is so straightforward if you make the time, how you can deliver questions to humans you encounter. It is not difficult, or it’s not complex. You just have to put yourself out there and endure a small amount of discomfort with the uncertainty of how someone will respond. And if you’re willing to do that, you can get a lot better at this in a very, very short period of time.

Hey, guys. This is Tim again. Just a few more things before you take off. No. 1, this is 5-Bullet Friday. Do you want to get a short email from me? Would you enjoy getting a short email from me every Friday that provides a little morsel of fun before the weekend? And 5-Bullet Friday is a very short email where I share the coolest things I’ve found or that I’ve been pondering over the week. That could include favorite new albums that I’ve discovered. It could include gizmos and gadgets and all sorts of weird shit that I’ve somehow dug up in the world of the esoteric, as I do. It could include favorite articles that I have read and that I’ve shared with my close friends, for instance.

And it’s very short. It’s just a little tiny bite of goodness before you head off for the weekend. So, if you want to receive that, check it out. Just go to, that’s all spelled out, and just drop in your email, and you will get the very next one. And if you sign up, I hope you enjoy it.

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