Ken Block — The Art of Marketing with a DC Shoes and Gymkhana Legend (500M+ views) (#358)


Credits: Hoonigan Racing Division

“In life — from the simplest thing to the biggest thing — I want to be proud of what it is and stake my claim: ‘That’s mine and that’s how I do it.'” — Ken Block

Ken Block (@kblock43 on IG and TW) is a co-founder of DC Shoes and a professional rally driver with the Hoonigan Racing Division.

His rally career began in 2005, and he won Rookie of the Year that season in the Rally America Championship. Ken has accumulated five X Games medals and achieved global fame through his wildly successful viral series of Gymkhana videos. Gymkhana videos (including all associated edits) have racked up more than 500 million views, landing the franchise in Ad Age’s top-10 viral video charts.

In January 2010, Block formed the Monster World Rally Team (later renamed to Hoonigan Racing Division) and signed with Ford to pursue his dreams of racing in the World Rally Championship and in doing so, became one of only four Americans to ever score points in the WRC.

His latest project is The Gymkhana Files, which takes viewers behind the scenes of GYMKHANA TEN: The Ultimate Tire Slaying Tour, a video that, as of this writing, just went up and already has nearly 20M views. It’s all complete insanity.

Please enjoy this interview with Ken Block!

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

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

#358: Ken Block — The Story of DC Shoes, Rally Car Racing, and 500+ Million Views

Want to hear an interview with another entrepreneur who loves to race? — Listen to this interview with David “DHH” Heinemeier Hansson in which DHH shares his thoughts on the power of being outspoken, running a profitable business without venture capital, Stoic philosophy, and much more! (Stream below or right-click here to download.):

#195: David Heinemeier Hansson: The Power of Being Outspoken

This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, the go-to tool for B2B marketers and advertisers who want to drive brand awareness, generate leads, or build long-term relationships that result in real business impact.

With a community of more than 575 million professionals, LinkedIn is gigantic, but it can be hyper-specific. You have access to a diverse group of people all searching for things they need to grow professionally, and four out of five users are decision-makers at their companies — so you can build relationships that really matter and drive your business objectives forward. LinkedIn has the marketing tools to help you target your customers with precision, right down to job title, company name, industry, etc. Why spray and pray with your marketing dollars when you can be surgical? To redeem your free $100 LinkedIn ad credit and launch your first campaign, go to!

This podcast is also brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is, inevitably, Athletic Greens. It is my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body and did not get paid to do so. As a listener of The Tim Ferriss Show, you’ll get a free 20-count travel pack (valued at $79) with your first order at

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

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Read More

14 Comments / Leave a comment or question

The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Susan Cain (#357)

1 Comment

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Susan Cain (@susancain), Chief Revolutionary of Quiet Revolution and author of the bestsellers Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking. Her writing has appeared in the The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications, and her record-smashing TED talk has been viewed more than 20 million times and was named by Bill Gates as one of his all-time favorite talks. Transcripts may contain a few typos—with some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy!

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

#357: Susan Cain — How to Overcome Fear and Embrace Creativity


Tim Ferriss owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as his right of publicity.


You are welcome to share the below transcript (up to 500 words but not more) in media articles (e.g., The New York Times, LA Times, The Guardian), on your personal website, in a non-commercial article or blog post (e.g., Medium), and/or on a personal social media account for non-commercial purposes, provided that you include attribution to “The Tim Ferriss Show” and link back to the URL. For the sake of clarity, media outlets with advertising models are permitted to use excerpts from the transcript per the above.


No one is authorized to copy any portion of the podcast content or use Tim Ferriss’ name, image or likeness for any commercial purpose or use, including without limitation inclusion in any books, e-books, book summaries or synopses, or on a commercial website or social media site (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) that offers or promotes your or another’s products or services. For the sake of clarity, media outlets are permitted to use photos of Tim Ferriss from the media room on or (obviously) license photos of Tim Ferriss from Getty Images, etc.

Tim Ferriss: Susan, welcome to the show.

Susan Cain: Thank you so much for having me.

Tim Ferriss: I have been looking forward to having you on the show for some time. And we have a lot of terrain to possibly cover. So we may end up having a part two and three. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I thought that we could look at public speaking just for a second because many people will associate you with this blockbuster megahit of a TED Talk. And rumor has it that you – straight in the delivery room from the get-go – were a natural-born killer on stage. Is this true? Were you born a spectacular public speaker?

Susan Cain: Oh, my gosh. Okay. Well, everybody listening, you can’t see Tim right now. But he has a very devilish smile on his face because, of course, the answer is the complete opposite. So I had a lifelong – well, dating back to middle school, I know exactly when it started. I had an almost lifelong fear of public speaking. And a lot of people say they’re afraid of public speaking, and they’re telling the truth. But they didn’t have a fear the way I had a fear of it. It was so extreme.

Tim Ferriss: What was the triggering event?

Susan Cain: Oh, okay. The triggering event was I had recently switched to a new middle school. And I was in an English literature class. And I probably appeared to the teacher in that class to be not a shy person at all because I love English, so I was always participating. Anyway, she called me up to the front of the room. We were doing Macbeth. And she called me up with a friend of mine. And she said, “Okay. You’re going to play Lady Macbeth. And your friend Rob is going to play Macbeth. And just improvise this scene.” And for me, as a shy person in a new school, this was total kryptonite. And I couldn’t say anything. I just completely blanked out and just stood there dumbly at the front of the class and finally just had to sit back down red-faced, not having said a word. And –

Tim Ferriss: That sounds terrible. It’s making my palms sweat just listening to it.

Susan Cain: Yeah. And I know this now, now that I’ve studied all this stuff, that if you have an experience like that, it gets encoded into your amygdala which is the part of your brain that registers all your fears. And then the amygdala, for the rest of your life, is doing its job by saying, “Oh, I’m going to steer you clear of any situation ever approximating anything like that literature class ever again.” So after that, any time I had to give a speech – and I did it. I used to be a lawyer on Wall Street and stuff. Any time I would do it, I would just suffer my way through. And I would always lose five pounds because I couldn’t eat before, like for a week before. So then I started writing this book, Quiet, after I had left law. And I really, really, really cared about it. It was my dream come true to be a writer. And I cared so much about the ideas in the book. And I didn’t want my fear to stand in my way. And I was giving this TED Talk. So I had to overcome it.

Tim Ferriss: How did the –

Susan Cain: So –

Tim Ferriss: Sorry to interrupt. But now that I’ve had a cappuccino, as long-time listeners know, I tend to jump a lot. How did the opportunity for the TED Talk come about?

Susan Cain: So I had a friend who worked at TED. Told him about the book. And he passed on the idea to the curators at the time. And I think that they understood that most of the TED audience is really introverted. And so they knew that it would relate with their audience. And I think that that was probably why they invited me in. And I’ll come back to how I overcame my fear in a minute. But I will tell you they turned out to be so accurate that after I gave the talk, I came down off the stage, and I was absolutely mobbed for the whole rest of the week by every single other audience member who were all coming to tell me, “That’s my story too. And I’m going around pretending to be this very confident, extroverted person. And that’s not really who I am.”

Tim Ferriss: Amazing. Present company included.

Susan Cain: Is that right?

Tim Ferriss: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I will steer us back. And you will also bring us back to what we were just talking about. But last night at a group dinner which I helped organize, keep in mind, at a wonderful restaurant here in New York City called ilili – it’s a Lebanese place – I had to take four or five bathroom breaks, which were not to use the bathroom. That is what I do at any dinner of more than one or two people. I have to exit not just the conversations but the environment to just recharge my batteries and gather my bearings for a few minutes –

Susan Cain: And is it –

Tim Ferriss: – and then go back on.

Susan Cain: It’s like you’re feeling a kind of overstimulation in a setting?

Tim Ferriss: Overstimulation.

Susan Cain: Yeah. That’s so interesting because I’ve heard you talk before about moving to Austin and having these group dinners. And I thought, “Oh, that’s so interesting that that’s what Tim wants to do,” because I would never choose to socialize that way. I always love to socialize one on one, almost the way we’re doing right now, sitting here just talking.

Tim Ferriss: There’s a kind of boiling point for me in terms of size. Four to six I can handle. It depends for me also on the environment I think more so than the number of people. So when I do these group dinners, I will generally host them at home or have them at one of my friend’s homes, not in a popular restaurant like I did last night. So y –

Susan Cain: I’m just going to say what’s interesting about that is how strategic you are about it. And I really notice this with people. So we were just talking about TED. I was just talking to Chris Anderson who runs TED about this whole phenomenon. And he describes himself as an introvert too. And he said he loves group dinners if there’s a specific topic that everybody is gathered there to discuss, and he knows it’s going to be something really substantive. Then he’s in his comfort zone. But if it’s just this amorphous socializing, he wants to leave.

Tim Ferriss: So just on the tactical, practical side, I also tend to very frequently cook the meal for the group so that I have a task while people are arriving and talking. Also deliberate because I’m often inviting people who don’t know one another. So I want them to have a chance to chat without having me as a mutual crutch if that makes sense. But in any case, we talked about that for a long time.

Susan Cain: Yeah. No, and that’s a really common strategy. I hear that from many people, wanting to have the task.

Tim Ferriss: I can play extrovert. I’m good at playing extrovert. But up until sixth grade, I wouldn’t even go out to recess. I would sit on a step and read, usually books about sharks and fish because I wanted to be a marine biologist. But I wouldn’t even go out to recess. So a lot of what you talk about and have written about certainly strikes a chord.

Susan Cain: Now I feel like I want to ask you so many questions about this.

Tim Ferriss: Well, sure.

Susan Cain: I think I’m really curious if we could go back and talk to sixth grade you right this minute, would sixth grade you have any idea that you would have the life path that yours has taken that’s so public?

Tim Ferriss: Absolutely not. No. Definitely not. What happened in sixth grade also – just for people who might be wondering, “Well, what happened in sixth grade if it’s up until sixth grade?” What happened in sixth grade – or I should say more accurately, the summer of fifth grade – is that I had a huge growth spurt. And I had been bullied really badly. I was born prematurely and very small. And I was bullied really, really badly up until the end of fifth grade. Then I left to a summer camp and gained about 30 pounds of muscle and grew four to five inches over the summer, came back, and then –

Susan Cain: It’s like a Captain America narrative.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, exactly. And then the bullies who had been accustomed to bullying me tried their usual playbook. And I just went on this vigilante spree, like the Punisher. And that changed the social dynamics. So I was able to actually go outside and do things that I wanted to do at recess from that point on. So it didn’t mean that I socialized a lot more. But it has more mobility. So that was what happened. But like you – and this is part of the reason why I wanted to start with this question about overcoming a fear of public speaking – is that’s when the people see the finished product, it’s easy to assume that it comes from an attribute as opposed to a skill. And in fact, a lot of what appears to be natural appears only to be natural because it started off very, very unnatural and someone has worked at chipping away at it over time.

Susan Cain: I think that’s true. I think almost all – so often, when you see someone who’s really good at almost anything, it’s because they actually started out exactly the opposite. And then they cared so much about fixing that problem. But in terms of how I overcame that fear – I have this kind of evangelical desire to share it because it was so extreme. I feel like if I could do it, then I know anyone can overcome any fear. So first of all, I spent years sitting in therapists’ offices cozily discussing, “Well, what might be the sources of this fear? And what do I trace it back to?” and like that. And that does no good at all.

I’m actually a big believer in therapy. But not for this type of issue. So what really does it if you’re afraid of something is you have to expose yourself very slowly to the thing that you fear in really manageable doses. So you can’t start off by giving the TED Talk. So in my case, I signed up for this seminar in – it was a seminar for people with public speaking anxiety. It was here in New York. And you’d get there. And on the very first day, all you had to do was stand up, say your name, sit back down, declare victory. You’re finished. And that’s it.

Tim Ferriss: What was the organization?

Susan Cain: Oh, gosh.

Tim Ferriss: Was it Toastmasters? Or something else?

Susan Cain: No. And I’m a big fan of Toastmasters. But this was almost more remedial than Toastmasters.

Tim Ferriss: Toastmasters light.

Susan Cain: Yeah. This was pre-Toastmasters. So the guy’s name – he’s amazing. His name is Charles diCagno. And you can find his organization. It’s And I think it’s spelled with three Es.

Tim Ferriss: Perfect. And I’ll put a link in the show notes for people as well.

Susan Cain: Yeah, because I really recommend him. And so you’d come back the next week. And maybe you’d stand up. And he’d do these things like he’d have people stand on either side of you, so you didn’t feel all alone up there on stage.

Tim Ferriss: That’s brilliant.

Susan Cain: Yeah. And then the audience would ask you questions like, “Where are you from?” and, “Where’d you go to college?” So really easy stuff. You answer the questions, and you’re done. And if you do that little by little by little, you actually really can overcome it. It’s crazy but true. But I will say, having said all this, still, there’s something about a TED Talk that’s on some whole crazy other realm of public speaking nerves.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Even if the setting is exactly the same, there is a performance anxiety associated with that three-letter acronym for sure.

Susan Cain: Yeah. We were talking about this before we started taping that so many of the speakers are really practiced on stage. And yet, you see them minutes before they go out, and they’re sweating bullets. And they’re all losing it.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. We were chatting for a second about – and Chris Anderson can certainly correct me. I’m blanking on the exact term. But there’s some space right next to the stage behind the curtain called the Zen Room or the Relaxation Cube. There’s some very pleasant sounding name for this space. And it’s intended to be the next-up batting cage for the two or three speakers to come. And I remember it was probably 15 or 20 minutes before I was supposed to go live – or no. It couldn’t have been that. It was probably an hour before. And I really didn’t want to be around a lot of people. And in the Green Room, there were all sorts of staff and lots of people milling around and working on production. And I thought to myself, “I need to go to the Zen Room.” We’ll just call it the Zen Room.

And so I walk out to the Zen Room. And I won’t mention names, but there were three killers. These are consummate professionals who have done this type of thing thousands of times, people I look up to and would love to someday have a coffee with. And they are freaking the fuck out. And I was like, “Not helping. Not helping. I need to leave the Zen Room right now.” So yes. It’s a different beast. So how do you go from talking about your favorite color on stage with two people next to you to TED then?

Susan Cain: Right. Okay. So I graduated from that to Toastmasters, which I also completely recommend. And should I describe what that is?

Tim Ferriss: Yes, please.

Susan Cain: Yeah. Okay. So Toastmasters. It’s a worldwide organization. You can absolutely find one near you because they’re everywhere. And it’s basically this not-for-profit thing where you sign up for a group that meets near you. And once every two weeks you get together, and you practice public speaking together. And they have this ritualized way of doing it.

And some of the time, you’re practicing speaking off the top of your head. And sometimes, it’s a prepared speech. And it’s just giving you that exposure therapy of putting you in the beast of the thing that most frightens you. You have to show up every two weeks and do it. So I did that. But then the next stage after that – and it was my husband’s idea – was I hired a coach for the full week before the TED Talk, this really amazing guy named Jim Fyfe, who I also completely recommend. And since then, he has coached many other TED speakers. So I worked with him morning until night for a full week before the talk.

Tim Ferriss: Good for you.

Susan Cain: Yeah. And he –

Tim Ferriss: What did the working with him look like?

Susan Cain: Okay. So he did a really brilliant thing. He was very psychologically attuned. And I said to him, “I’m really comfortable, in general, talking to people one on one and cozily sitting on a couch and talking about life. I love that.” For me, at that point though, getting up on a stage and holding forth was the hard thing. So he said, “Okay. Let’s practice your talk sitting on the couch. And just talk to me about it. And we did that for two days. And it was only after that that we just moved to the stage and started getting into the theatrics of it. That kind of transition was so helpful.

Tim Ferriss: I just want to note that this is – I spend so much time with and I’m so obsessed with good teachers, good coaches. This is very common where they will effectively say, “Let’s start from where you are right now.” And they will always return if they sense any type of overwhelm or fear to bring you back to a point of familiarity or comfort and then edge into the next concentric circle of what is your limit of comfort.

Susan Cain: Yeah. And I think they also have to show a lot of non-judgment because I had some dark moments during that week. For me, this was the abyss. And I was just hanging out in the abyss for a week. And so he saw me. I had only just met him. And he saw me not in the most flattering circumstances, and yet I didn’t feel embarrassed by that. There was something about him –

Tim Ferriss: Did he do anything, in the beginning, to assess you or establish a baseline? Or was it more of an interview that he used like an intake? Do you remember what was –

Susan Cain: It wasn’t really formal like that. He’s such a human guy. It was just like we were just talking.

Tim Ferriss: Disguised as intake. Smart. Smart fellow.

Susan Cain: Yeah. So the amazing thing to me now is I now super ironically have a career as a public speaker. I travel the world going and giving talks to all different companies and conferences all over the place.

Tim Ferriss: Go ahead.

Susan Cain: I asked you, “Well, if we could tell sixth grade Tim where he would be, what would he say?” And I say that to myself too. If you could have even told me eight years ago that this would be my life, I would have been so shocked by it. And now, I’ve come to like it.

Tim Ferriss: Did you have any particular pregame ritual or anything that you did in the hours leading up to your talk that helped or that you didn’t do?

Susan Cain: I have things now. Back then, I just suffered.

Tim Ferriss: What do you have now?

Susan Cain: Now, have a few things. I do deep breathing just like everyone else. I’m sure you’ve heard that a million times. But it’s got to be real deep breathing where you really feel your belly and your diaphragm filling up. But for me, what I also do is I usually think to myself – and I do this especially when I’m speaking to an audience that I find more intimidating like a group of finance people at an investment bank or something – I will say to myself, “There, I am sure, is one person in this audience who has a child who is shy or introverted. And if that child has a better life because of one tidbit that that person hears today, then it’s all good.” And that pulls me out of myself instantly.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. It gives you also a hurdle that you can clear for winning the presentation, so to speak, in that sense.

Susan Cain: Yeah. Right. It’s a manageable goal. But I think it feels deeper than that to me. It feels also like – I think when people get nervous about speaking, obviously, they’re really nervous about being judged. But this completely shifts the energy where it’s not any longer about how anybody judges me. It’s about “Can I help that kid out there?”

Tim Ferriss: And I want to say also that part of the reason I am more than happy, actually excited to spend so much time talking about this is that it is not specific to public speaking. This just happens to be a very common fear and perceived weakness of many, many, many people. Also, as a side note, what Warren Buffett says is his greatest ever investment. Put more specifically, a Dale Carnegie course that he took in public speaking because it magnified his ability to do almost everything else, to communicate effectively both in spoken word but also in the written word in some respects.

Susan Cain: Yeah. Oh, go ahead.

Tim Ferriss: I was just going to say that I’ve never – I don’t think I’ve ever spoken about this. But I also did Toastmasters. And if you have trouble finding it, oftentimes, there are large companies that will have within their HQ or any large location, their own Toastmasters group. And that’s actually how I found it in San Jose, initially. It was at Adobe. So I would go in. And I would do this Toastmasters. And your description of having this very logical progression of small wins layered upon small winds getting up on stage and then getting off stage. Getting up on stage, having two people next to you and answering a few questions and getting off stage – is so incredibly effective. And I’m laughing right now because I remember when I was preparing for my first presentation at South by Southwest – so this is a very large festival and conference in Austin, Texas.

And the timing was 2007. It’s about, I want to say, a month, month and a half before my book is going to come out, my first book which I’m very nervous about. There had been no speaking slots. But I had pitched Hugh Forrest at the time, who I had been introduced to, that I would take anything available. “Corner of a room, hallway, if there were any cancellations, I would really appreciate the opportunity to speak at the event.” And lo and behold, there was a last-minute cancelation. Not by a keynote speaker but by a sponsor who was going to have a stage to pitch their products from in this makeshift café.

And I was like, “I’m in. I’m in.” But I was so incredibly nervous about this that in the beginning, in particular, I was – and this is true today – too nervous to practice my rough, rough draft of the presentation in front of people.

Susan Cain: Yeah. I get this.

Tim Ferriss: And so what I did – I was staying at a guest bedroom at a friend’s house. He had three chihuahuas. And I went outside. I was playing with the chihuahuas. And they followed me into the garage. I practiced in the garage. I didn’t even want to practice in the house where my friend’s wife was. And I gave my presentation. I felt reasonably confident about the content. But I wasn’t comfortable with any of the performance aspects of trying to keep attention. So I gave my draft of this talk over and over again until I could get the dogs to sit and stare at me, somewhat bewildered, but to hold their attention. And that was the litmus test for me to graduate to giving a rough draft in front of humans. For those people out there who are wondering whether this all comes naturally to me, it does not at all.

Susan Cain: Have you talked about that before? Or is this the first time you are doing that?

Tim Ferriss: I don’t think I’ve talked about that. Certainly, I don’t think I’ve talked about it on the podcast. And for the TED Talk also, something I did – which I did not do for the South by talk, which I thought really made a difference – was I practiced giving the talk in front of small groups of strangers once I had a reasonably polished version. And I asked friends of mine who worked at larger companies who had teams during lunch hour if there happened to be an empty conference room, could they invite people to hear a rough draft of a TED Talk. And then I would ask them for feedback. And usually, there was enough time that I could give it two or three times. So I could actually incorporate their feedback, give another version. Once I had given the second version, there were a lot more people in the room who were willing to be critical. The first round, you get one or two.

Susan Cain: Yes. That’s so true.

Tim Ferriss: This is just something I’ve thought about a lot because I’ve been so nervous about public speaking for so long. And it, by the way, doesn’t really go away. At least for me, I still have those nerves. But with TED, very specifically, I assumed – and this came from sports, but I had never applied it – that I was going to be – my heart rate was probably going to be 30 beats per minute higher than normal and that it was not just important for me to practice the content, but to practice under the physiological stress that I would probably experience when trying to deliver the content. So I would do a bunch of pushups in another room and drink two double espressos and wait for it to hit and then go in and give my dress rehearsal to see if I could handle that stimulation.

Susan Cain: That was so, so smart. And listening to that story is reminding me of this crucial step that I left out and, in a lot of ways, a mistake that I made which is – I told you I worked with that guy, Jim, for a week who was amazing. And I thought I was pretty well ready at that point. So I talked to my friend Adam Grant, who’s a very dear friend –

Tim Ferriss: Very good speaker too.

Susan Cain: – and a really good speaker and who also started out as a very nervous and, by his description, a terrible public speaker. He says he used to get terrible reviews from his students. And he just worked and worked and worked at it. And now, he’s the most popular professor at Wharton. Okay. So I was talking to Adam about all this. And so he said – so I’m leaving for TED on Sunday morning to fly out to California which is where it was at that time. And he says, “Oh, I’m going to pull together a group of friends. And you can practice your talk in front of them.” And so this is Friday night. And I’m leaving Sunday morning. And so I show up at this apartment full of Adam and his friends.

And I think that I’m pretty well done with the talk. And this is the first time that I’m giving it in front of any kind of group because I didn’t have the foresight of what you just described. And not only was I so nervous, but I realized from the feedback that a lot of the content was all wrong. And it’s Friday night. And I’m leaving the day after the next day. So I went home, and I just spent the whole entire night rewriting the whole final third of the talk. And then I’m on the plane going out to TED trying to memorize the new talk. So I don’t recommend that kind of approach.

Tim Ferriss: You need to get real people in front of you. This is just like entrepreneurship, and people try to get the product perfect before exposing it to any prospective clients. You really need to get into the messy reality of what a live audience or a real customer looks like. And the same was true for me. I made a lot of changes in the last few days which I thought were just going to be fine tuning.

Susan Cain: Right. And then you end up –

Tim Ferriss: And I was like. Oh, actually, I really need to – I need to completely change 30 percent of this. And I was very, very nervous before the TED Talk. And I came off stage, and I did not think that I – I didn’t think that I blew it. But I didn’t think that I did a great job. I came off stage thinking that there were definitely bits and pieces I could have done better. But it worked out. Seems to have worked out.

Susan Cain: Okay. Wait. But I want to come back to one thing that you said and for the benefit of people who are listening now. So you said that you still are really nervous when you give a talk. But are you really as nervous as you used to be? Because I really want people to understand that you can get to a point – you might still have butterflies. It’s not like the nerves completely disappear. But they get to – in my experience, and from all the literature that I’ve studied on this, they really do get to a point where you can manage them. And the difference between manageable and non-manageable is gigantic in terms of its effect on your life and your career and everything. So I just want to make sure that people know that.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. I can clarify. So it depends a lot on the event. So if we’re going to do a Q&A and it’s a friend of mine interviewing me on stage, that’s not, from my perspective, really public speaking. It is. But at this point, I could do that with zero preparation. If it’s anything resembling a keynote, if it is Tim on stage talking to an audience, and they expect something that has been well-rehearsed, my physiological response is still very strong. I get really sweaty hands. I pace. I have very minimal contact with anyone beforehand. But let me mention a few things. Number one, both Mike Tyson and Dean Martin used to vomit before nearly every performance.

But the way that they psychologically contended with that evolved over time. Well, since I mentioned Mike Tyson, Cus D’Amato, who was the trainer who really, in a lot of respects I think – boxing scholars or boxing fans would agree – made Tyson into what Tyson was at his prime as an athlete used to say something along the following, that the hero and the coward feel the same thing. It’s how they respond that’s different.

Susan Cain: Yes. Oh, I so believe that.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. And there is no courage without the presence of fear. And for me, I have come to see those physiological symptoms that used to make me panic, that used to make me feel like I was doing something wrong, that used to make me feel like I was unprepared as simple precursors to a performance. So the way that I frame them for myself is completely different. And I’ve learned to view it as this energetic asset that I can use. And that has made all the difference. And it has decreased in some circumstances. But certainly, before TED, I had given hundreds of different presentations. And it was like I was getting on stage for the first time. In part, also, for people who don’t know, they are very – as they should be – strict about many things at TED, including running over.

Susan Cain: Oh, yes. Yeah. I was very nervous about that.

Tim Ferriss: If you’re running over – and I want to say – and this is exactly what they should say. But in effect, they say, “If you run over by – you should not run over, number one. Do not run over. If you run over, if you get to the point where you’re 30 seconds over, we will come up and remove you from stage.” And while I’m preparing and while I’m rehearsing, one of the things that made me most stressed out is that my finish times were really variable. And I would say 30-40 percent of the time, I ran over. Then other times, I would run two minutes under but miss something really, really important because I was rushing. And I was like, “Good God. This is just a crapshoot. I am at the craps table with my timing.” And that really was a concern for me. So that was another element that made TED unique for me was that degree of cutoff.

Susan Cain: Yeah. I felt that way too. And I did end up going over by over a minute.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, good for you.

Susan Cain: And there it is.

Tim Ferriss: And they were just like, “We cannot stop this performance.”

Susan Cain: Oh, I don’t know about that. But I want to say also, for anybody who is listening and who is right now in the grip of this kind of fear and isn’t sure whether they can really get past it, also, what is waiting for you on the other side of it is so gigantic because there’s something weird about public speaking where it has such disproportionate value to, in a way, what you’re investing in it. You’re going up on stage for 18 minutes or 40 minutes or whatever, or maybe within your own workplace, even giving a two-minute talk, suddenly, everybody is regarding you as a leader and as someone who they can turn to in a new way from if you hadn’t been willing to put yourself forward in that way.

Tim Ferriss: Definitely. There’s public speaking as the force multiplier for the value of your other skills which is absolutely true. And then public speaking, in a way, is also a wonderful diagnostic tool. And what I mean by that is I remember talking to a friend of mine who – he’s a wealth manager for a lot of muckety-mucks who you would recognize. And he said, “I know them generally better than therapists they’ve been seeing for a decade within the first few hours because money brings up everything. Talking about money brings up the full spectrum of someone’s insecurities, fears, desires, neuroses. Sex, also true. And public speaking, I think, if it makes you remotely nervous when you start to learn public speaking – at least for me – brings up all your stuff.

So if you were simply interested in personal growth, it brings to the surface many different pieces of your personality and psyche that you can then work on in a way that transfers to other areas. So that, to me, was my experience and I find really interesting. It’s like, “Okay. Well, maybe you don’t have to play hide and go seek with talk therapy for 20 years to find all of the bits and pieces when, rather than following these different gingerbread trails, you can use certain fearful circumstances to just bring it all right – or a lot of it to the surface.” That was my experience. I’m not saying it’s true for everybody. But it was one of those things like talking about money, talking about sex, or public speaking. It’s like, “Okay. Now we just bring everything to the forefront.” So for me, that was also – even if I had not had any interest in getting on stage and giving presentations, it would have been valuable in and of itself.

Susan Cain: Yeah. No. That makes complete sense.

Tim Ferriss: Are there other things that you’re fearful of or have been afraid of that you’ve overcome?

Susan Cain: No. That was really the big one for me. We were talking about this. Before, I guess, my bugaboo, in general, is that I just tend to be a worrier. So I don’t know. Other than the experiences I had with public speaking, it’s not like I have full-on panic or anything like that. It’s more like it’s a very familiar companion for me. So I’ve had to just come up with various hacks around it.

Tim Ferriss: What are some of your hacks.

Susan Cain: Gosh, there are so many. Okay. Wait. So this is going to get us into another big topic. But why not?

Tim Ferriss: Why not?

Susan Cain: So for example, when I stopped practicing corporate law, and I decided that I wanted to be writer, I told myself that it’s really hard to make a living as a writer. And I said, “Okay. The goal is to publish something by the time you’re 75.” And at the time, I was 33, at the time that I said that. And I did that instinctively because I was always doing these hacks of just wanting to completely take the pressure off of something that I otherwise loved so deeply. And I just knew that if I turned this thing that I deeply loved into a source of, “This has to be the place where I make my living. This has to be the place where I derive some kind of professional stature,” it was going to soak a lot of the joy out of it. And so that’s the kind of hack that I just naturally do.

Tim Ferriss: On a very related note, could you give us a little bit of context around the leaving law, like why you left law? And then you decide you want to be a writer. And you alluded to it, but does that mean that suddenly, your rent is dependent on writing?

Susan Cain: Right. Okay. So I had wanted to be a writer from the time I was four. And then, for a whole bunch of reasons, and like so many people, I graduated coll – well, I took some creative writing classes in college. And I decided, “I’m not actually that good at this. And I need to make a living.” And I also had a desire I think to show myself that I could be out there as an alpha person out in the world of finance or something. So I went to law school. And I practiced Wall Street law for almost a decade. And during that time that I was practicing law, it was so all-consuming that I completely forgot about the fact that I had wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t like I was walking around conscious of this broken dream or something. I’d completely forgotten. And in the first few years of practicing law, I really loved it. It was just this crazy adventure that I was on. And as the years went by, it started to get really tough for me.

I’m not a very natural lawyer in a million different ways. But I was on this partner track. And I was committed to it. And then came the day. And I think I may have told you about this in an earlier correspondence. But then came the day when a senior partner in my firm walked in and said – I was supposed to be up for partner that year. And he said, “Well, we’re not going to be putting you up.” And the funny thing is, to this day, I don’t really know if he meant we’re not putting you up ever for partner or just not anytime soon. I don’t really know what he meant. All I knew was, number one, I burst into tears. And number two, here was my get-out-of-jail-free card.

So three hours later, I had left the firm. I was gone. I took a leave of absence. And I just started bicycling around Central Park. I didn’t know what I was going to do next. But as soon as that space opened up that I now had free time for the first time in 10 years, I started writing. And I had no idea that was going to happen. It was almost like in a movie.

Tim Ferriss: That’s cool. Yeah. It’s just been waiting for you.

Susan Cain: Yeah, literally. I remember that night, curled up in my sofa in my apartment. And I had just started writing on my laptop. And then a week later, I signed up for a class in creative nonfiction at NYU. And I just had this complete feeling of certainty that this was what I wanted to be doing and zero expectation that I would make a living out of it. And this is a really important thing I think. I think if you have that kind of a creative dream and a creative love, you have to do everything you can not to spoil it with the pressures of paying the rent and all those other things, or the pressures of needing to derive professional status from it. So I set up a little side business teaching people negotiation skills. And that was how I was paying the rent. But the thing I was really doing in my heart was this beloved hobby of writing.

Tim Ferriss: This is super, super, super, super, super important. I think it’s true in creative fields – which is pretty much every field, but just for the sake of illustration, writing, music, etc., also, in entrepreneurship – you hear these stories of desperation where necessity is the mother of invention and bada-bing, bada-boom. Magic wand. And then there’s a billion-dollar company. Or there’s J.K. Rowling or whatever it is. But those are, in my experience, the outliers. They make for great cover stories in magazines. But the fact of the matter is that from what I’ve seen certainly, with guests on this podcast is that – for instance, Soman Chainani, who has a number of mega-successful novels.

But he had an SAT prep counseling service that he offered well past the point that his first book was successful because he wanted to always feel like he had a safety net so that the writing would not be tainted or even subconsciously influenced to match the market or whatever the lens might become by this pressure. And that is something that, whenever possible, has come up as a really valuable – I suppose, on one hand, financial survival mechanism but even more so as psychological freeing device.

Susan Cain: Yeah. And I think we’re so addicted to having a really glamorous narrative for things. And the glamorous narrative is you had so much courage. You took the risk. You were dependent on this company or this book or whatever. And if it didn’t work, it was going to be a disaster, but you were the one who beat the odds. We love that narrative. And for most people, that’s a really bankrupt narrative. And there’s a deeper glamor, actually, in the kind of story that you just told because the glamor comes from you’re doing everything that you can to deeply protect the thing that you love most.

Tim Ferriss: Definitely. Now, the book, itself – people may not know the backstory. I’m sure a lot of people don’t. How long did it take to get that book done?

Susan Cain: Okay. So I’m laughing because it took a really, really long time, especially by Tim Ferriss standards. I listen to you and I look at your life trajectory. I’m like, “How does he do that?”

Tim Ferriss: Lots of cheating the format is the short answer. But I won’t take us off track.

Susan Cain: So yeah. From start to finish, it was about seven years. And I will say, in my defense, that during those seven years, I also had two children and was raising them. So that was part of it. But I also just think I’m a slow writer. I like to really, really think about everything super deeply. And what I think people might not know – I had a deadline, as all writers do. And I turned in some sort of draft upon my deadline coming due, after 18 months or two years. And my editor basically read it and said, “This is terrible.” And she said, “Go back and completely throw that out. Start from scratch and take all the time that you need.”

And you might think that when that happened that I would have been really bummed. But I was actually elated because I knew that it was terrible. And I knew that I needed much more time. And I had no idea what I was doing. I had never written anything before. I was just really happy to have that time. And it’s actually really unusual. They had given me a big advance for the book. And usually, they want their advance back. And they’re not willing to delay like that. So that was huge.

Tim Ferriss: A very understanding editor.

Susan Cain: Yeah. She’s brilliant. And I’m working with her again on my next book.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. It’s also smart in the sense that – a mediocre book is more of a liability than no book at all for everyone involved.

Susan Cain: For everyone involved. Yeah. And because I have this philosophy about writing – that it’s the deep love that has to be protected at all costs – because of that, I don’t care how much time it takes. I’m just interested in doing it as well as I can.

Tim Ferriss: What does your writing process at this point look like? So you had your experience with that book. And now, when you are writing, do you have a daily process? Does it go through phases of research period, then organizing, then putting all of that into prose through synthesis? What are your writing routines? Or how do you think about writing these days?

Susan Cain: So for me, I take whatever thesis I’m working with. And then I spend a year or two just walking around the world looking at everything through the lens of that thesis. So it used to be introverts. And now, I’m on to a new topic. And I’m taking crazy notes through that period. So every conversation that I have, every book I read, it’s all going in.

Tim Ferriss: How do you take and organize your notes? Do you do it notebooks? Do you do it digitally? I know this is nerdy. But I’m –

Susan Cain: No. It’s not nerdy at all.

Tim Ferriss:  – into it because a lot of writers do it differently.

Susan Cain: The reason I’m laughing is I’m thinking when you hear my answer, you’re going to know that I need a consultation with you for the next book because I don’t do it in a super systemic way. Basically, all those conversations, all those ideas and notes and thoughts I’m having, I stick them all into one Word document. And then I go – and that document becomes about seven- or eight-hundred pages by the time I’m done. And then I go through that document. And I’m tagging as I go along. And then I’m separating everything out by topic. So I end up with eight or nine loose-leaf binders that are organized by topic. But in each of those binders, it’s just –

Tim Ferriss: One big Word document.

Susan Cain: – one big mass of notes. And then I think about where do I want everything. And also, whenever I have an idea – whenever I’m emotionally moved by one of the ideas that I’m taking notes on, I try to write out the riff around that idea right then and there because you don’t know if that emotion is going to come back. So you have to capture it when it happens.

Tim Ferriss: I think that’s a perfectly fine system. So you –

Susan Cain: I just feel like technology must have come up with something better. I do it in Microsoft Word.

Tim Ferriss: There are probably better tools available. But I would say also that a lot of people confuse new tools for better content. It’s very easy, at least – I’ll speak for myself for a second. When I’m writing, I have to disallow myself from thinking about, say, marketing because marketing is fun and exciting and –

Susan Cain: To you.

Tim Ferriss: – easy for me because I had insomnia as a kid and watched too many infomercials or something. In any case, that take – it’s a way to procrastinate doing the harder piece, which is the actual research and digging and prose. That’s the hard part for me. Always has been. But it’s the most important part. And I think similarly, a lot of folks can become consumed by upgrading their tools, multiplying their tools versus just the words. You got to put the words in. And I have some questions about this Word doc, though. So when you’re going through and adding things to the Word doc, and you come in, and you’re tagging things so you can separate them – and you mentioned binders.

So you’re printing this stuff out and then separating them. Does that mean that when you put in a new note in the Word doc, you go to a new page if it’s tagged differently, so you can separate them more easily later – does that make sense? – as opposed to each time you add a note, then hit return twice and then add a new note? If they’re tagged differently, it would seem like you would have to cut up the page into multiple pieces. So do you start a new page – are there any particular ways that you tag? For instance, would it be a chapter name? Or would it be a theme? What would a tag look like? A lot of questions.

Susan Cain: Yeah. It would just be a topic or a theme. So every time I’m adding a new note, if I know that it relates to something I’ve already done, then I’ll search for the thing I’ve already done so I can add it to that section to make it easier later. But sometimes I don’t, or I can’t think of it. And then I’ll just add it to the end of the document.

Tim Ferriss: Control F, right? Word. And then good to go.

Susan Cain: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Simple works. Robert Rodriguez, the filmmaker, keeps a journal. Puts it in almost every day at midnight. And it’s Word docs. It works.

Susan Cain: Yeah. I will say I tried – for this next book, I spent a few days reading the instructions for Scrivener, one of these programs. And I just ended up thinking, “This isn’t for me. It looks great, but –”

Tim Ferriss: Scrivener. Well, some other time, we can sit down. That is one tool that if you set it up really simply and you don’t use 98 percent of the features, I find really useful just because you can create a view by which you see all of your separate documents. Or actually, I should say rather, you see your tentative table of contents on the left side in a vertical pane. And then you can look at what you’re – on the right-hand side, then I would have it set up so that I have two split windows. So the left-hand side, you see your table of contents. And then there’s research. And you have whatever research you want.

That way, you can be working on a document in the upper right-hand pane while you have your research that you’re working off of in the bottom right. And if you decide to move docs around to see how it affects flow, it’s just drag and drop. It’s actually quite wonderful. They did have some issues with footnotes. Or maybe I was just too technically incompetent at one point when you then had to export when the publisher insists on, say, Word which maybe that’ll change at some point. But I’m getting a little geeked out. But I’ve used Scrivener for almost all of my books. There may be one exception. I think 4-Hour Chef, because of how visually intensive it was was done outside of that. And in terms of routine or ritual, you spend a year gathering these notes. So then you have –

Susan Cain: Yeah. A year. Maybe more.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, or more. So you have 700 to 800 pages. That’s a big Word doc. And then what happens?

Susan Cain: Yeah. So then I spend the time sorting them out. So I get to the point where I’ve got my eight or nine loose-leaf binders that are more or less organized by what the chapters are going to be. And then comes the time to write, during which, I’m still doing more research. But I’m starting to write. For me, the writing, the sitting down with my laptop and thinking about it all, that’s – I want to say it’s my happy place. But that’s not really the best description. It feels like it’s this place that I go deep in my mind. And I really love being there.

And it’s like no matter what happens to be going on in my outside life, I always have those few hours a day where I’m going to a café or a library or whatever, and I’m sitting with my laptop and my cappuccino, and I’m just doing it. I’m stressing the emotional aspect because that’s so huge for me. And I feel like I trained myself to associate writing with all of these pleasures of sitting around in cafés and things like that.

Tim Ferriss: Do you have a consistent time when you sit down with your cappuccino and do this? Are you a morning writer? Or are you just catch-as-catch-can writer? Are you an evening writer? You also have kids. You have other obligations. So when do you tend to do your writing or do your best writing? You can answer it however you like.

Susan Cain: Well, there’s what I do, and there’s what would be ideal. But as you say, I have kids. So my routine is that I drop my kids off at school. That’s at around 8:00. Then I go and I either play tennis or do yoga every day. And then after that, I do my writing. And that’s a pretty good time for me. But –

Tim Ferriss: What time of day would that typically end up being?

Susan Cain: Oh, yeah. That probably ends up being around 10:00 or so that I’m starting. But if I had no other obligations, the best times of day would be more like either 7:00 in the morning and also super late at night. So two time periods that I have no access to for this stage of life.

Tim Ferriss: And you start writing – this is really interesting to me. Hopefully, interesting to other people. So you start let’s say around 10:00. Do you break for lunch? Do you skip lunch? Do you have a standard type of lunch that you would have? And the reason I ask is that I think part of the reason so many writers seem to work between the hours of – just make this up, but 10:00 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., and they tend to either be night owls, like me, or early risers is that there are fewer distractions. And they can get a relatively uninterrupted block of three to five hours. But if you’re starting at 10:00, then most people would have lunch scheduled shortly thereafter, like two hours later.

So do you break for lunch? Do you have something really small? How do you handle that? Because for me, just speaking personally, I might have time – of course I have time for a five-minute phone call. But if I do a five-minute phone call about something very mechanical or mundane like calendaring stuff or whatever, and I’m juggling 15 pieces that were on paper in my head, I have to start over a lot of times. I drop all those balls I’m juggling because of the task switchings. So I’d love to hear – not that that’s true for everybody. But it’s true for me. So what does your schedule look like then once you sit down?

Susan Cain: I’ll just go until I realize that I’m not concentrating well anymore. And very often, it happens after two or three hours. And I just have to take a break. I have a lot of discipline if my brain would cooperate. So I would happily sit there for seven hours until my kids come home from school. But at a certain point, I’ll notice that it’s just not coming anymore. And so then I’ll take a break and I’ll eat or something like that. But I would say – I think you were mentioning, “Well, people might work at night because it’s when you get uninterrupted time.”

And I think that that’s one factor. But I also think the reason that those hours tend to be so good – so nighttime is when your cortisol levels are really low which, of course, is your stress hormone. And so I notice this in myself all the time, that the ideas that I come up with late at night are different from the daytime ideas because they’re completely unfettered by any stress. And so I’ll just – I don’t know. I just make different kinds of associative leaps. And there’s a softness and an ease in my thinking and my feeling about the ideas. So I think that’s one advantage of late night writing. And then in the morning, you’ve got the high cortisol. But you also have this acute attention.

Tim Ferriss: I can totally see that. I can definitely see that. I also find that writing late at night – if I’m writing at 2:00 in the morning, it’s very hard for me – I want to say it was Ayn Rand who wrote a – she had a book about the craft of nonfiction. And there was some – it wasn’t a metaphor. I think it was a real-world example. But in effect, she’s saying many writers will do almost anything to not write. And there’s this story about the white tennis shoes, like, “I have to clean my white tennis shoes before I’m going to write because I’m going to go out and da-da-da.” And when it’s 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, “I have to check email to make sure X,” is just not a viable excuse. So it also just removes a lot of bullshit distraction that I would impose on myself to avoid doing what it is that I find hard.

Susan Cain: Oh, my God. I so relate to this. So when I was writing Quiet, I suddenly developed this idea that I had to learn everything in the world about digital photography. And I was reading all these books about it and the rule of thirds and all this stuff. And I have never had any interest in photography before or since. It was just these two weeks of mania where I didn’t want to have to be looking at that manuscript over there.

Tim Ferriss: Are there any particular – you are a student of the craft, right? You’ve taken creative nonfiction courses. Are there any particular books or resources or writers who have had a significant impact on how you view or practice writing?

Susan Cain: Oh, gosh. I’m sure the answer is yes.

Tim Ferriss: And I can try to buy some time too if helpful. Draft No. 4 by John McPhee I think is really – I was very fortunate to spend time with him when I was an undergrad in college because he was teaching a seminar. But the structure –

Susan Cain: Yeah, at Preston. That’s where I took my creative writing classes.

Tim Ferriss: Right. Yeah. Thinking about structure in the way that – a few things about structure saved me because I thrive with some type of predetermined blueprint for structure. It’s very hard for me to just freehand, flow of consciousness let things take some emergent form. It’s very hard. I do know friends who do that really, really well. That terrifies me. So I need the scaffolding. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott –

Susan Cain: Oh, I love that book. Such a good book.

Tim Ferriss: Bird by Bird, for people who don’t know the book – I will say just before getting into a short description – has saved at least a half a dozen friends of mine from the precipice, meaning they were at the point of throwing in the towel and just quitting their books. And they were all writers in this case. But they were at the point where they were like, “I’m done. I can’t do this. It’s too stressful. I don’t like this. I don’t want to do this. It’s going to be terrible.” And they were going to, in some cases, return their advances and just walk. And I want to say at least half of them read this book, went on to finish their books. And their books went on to become New York Times Best Sellers. So talk about an important window for making a decision. And the gist of the book – the title, I should say, comes first from – I think it was her brother, Anne’s brother. Anne Lamott is a writer.

And her brother had this experience where he’d had something like an entire semester in – I’m making this up. But let’s just call it fourth grade to prepare for this end of semester project. And he was supposed to put together a term paper on birds or something like that. And it was the night before. He hadn’t done any preparation. And this poor kid – who, granted, kinda deserves it because he didn’t do any prep – but nonetheless, is having this nervous breakdown at the kitchen table with 15 books about birds. And he just is paralyzed. And I want to say it was Anne’s dad who came over and put an arm on his shoulder and said, “Just take it bird by bird, buddy. Bird by bird.” Something like that.

And it’s a psychological life raft, break glass in case of emergency kit for writers who are just hitting that point like maybe you did with the photography where you’re just like, “I want to do anything other than look at that screen or that page. I can’t handle it, and I don’t know what to do.” So for that reason – not necessarily for the nuts and bolts of the writing process itself but for the psychological component. It’s like if you were a top athletic coach, and you had your sport-specific technical coach, and then you had a mental toughness coach who also doubled as a shrink, the mental toughness coach who doubles as a shrink is the Bird by Bird.

Susan Cain: Yeah. And I’m remembering she also talks about shitty first drafts. And just those three words are incredibly helpful because when you’re looking at your draft – and it is always really shitty at the beginning. And so just knowing, “Okay. That’s what it’s supposed to be.” The other thing that’s been really helpful to me – so I told you I started taking that creative nonfiction class at NYU. All of us who took that class got along really well. So we formed a writers group after the class was officially done. And we stayed together for years. And we would meet once every week, every two weeks and read each other’s stuff. And especially at that stage, that really, really helped, getting the feedback but also having the camaraderie and support system. And in fact –

Tim Ferriss: Not feeling totally isolated. Yeah.

Susan Cain: Not feeling isolated. And I actually met my literary agent from one of the people who was in that group who was a publishing lawyer. And I said, “I have this idea for this book about introverts,” which at the time, to me, seemed like the most idiosyncratic project on earth. But she said, “When you’re ready, I know the right agent for that.” And that’s a really serendipitous thing because – wait. I want to share this. When I put together the proposal for the book that became Quiet, I sent it out to that agent who she recommended and to four other super amazing agents, two of whom I had connections to.

And every single one of the other ones passed. And some of them said, “I really like the writing. But I think this topic is not commercial enough. And I just don’t think it’ll sell. So could you come back with a different topic?” And the guy who became my agent instantly saw what the potential was going to be. And we’ve been together ever since. And I feel like I owe him everything. And I love him. And his name is Richard Pine if you are out there looking for an agent. And I think about this story all the time not only because of book writing but because all these people, these other agents, these are experts. And these are the culturally anointed gatekeepers. And they know what they’re doing. And yet, they didn’t see this one particular thing. And I think that that happens all the time.

Tim Ferriss: Totally. No, I’m glad you shared that. And I had a very similar experience. I reached out to – I want to say it was four agents who were introduced by a very successful author who I had met something like seven years earlier by volunteering at a nonprofit, which is a great way to meet people above your paygrade, as a side note, just filling water glasses for panelists. Works really well. And so I had the right introduction, the writing. I didn’t think my writing was Tolstoy or anything. But it was passable. And complete rejection from three of the four.

Susan Cain: Wow. This was The 4-Hour Workweek?

Tim Ferriss: The 4-Hour Workweek. Two of them were pretty heavy-handed about it. One of the third – I remember her name. Jillian Manus. A very good agent. And she passed. But she gave me a lot of really helpful feedback. And she didn’t say, “This won’t work.” She just said, “I don’t think this is the right fit for me.”

Susan Cain: Right. And that one, fair enough.

Tim Ferriss: Which is totally fair. “But here’s a bunch of advice.” And one of the pieces of advice she gave me, actually – wow. I haven’t thought about this in forever – was, “Think of each –” I was intimidated by the prospect of writing a book. I’d never written a book before. She said, “Treat each chapter like a feature magazine article. Beginning, middle, and end. Self-sufficient. Each chapter can live on its own.” And I’ve followed that advice ever since with nonfiction which makes it easier to write also because if you get stuck somewhere, it’s not like you have to cross that bridge to get to a chapter that sequentially, should show up three chapters later. You can treat it in a modular way. If you get really bogged down, you can skip, which also, in some cases like the rest of my books, leads to a book that can be read non-sequentially.

So three out of four turned it down. Finally signed with my current agent, Stephen Hanselman, who I still work with to this day, similarly. And he had just become an agent. He had just become an agent. But part of what attracted me to him was that he had a long career as a very successful editor and also is just an eclectic guy, went to divinity school, plays in a jazz band. Really my kind of person. And then we went out to sell it. And I think it was – I always forget if it’s 26 or 27. But nonetheless, it was something like 27 – somewhere between 26 and 28 publishers turned it down.

Susan Cain: Really? Wow.

Tim Ferriss: Yes. But you only need one. That’s the thing. It’s not about how many people don’t get it; it’s about having the right person or people who do get it, which is so clear with your book. You don’t need all the people in the world to think it’s a good idea. You don’t need half the people in the world to think it’s a good idea. You need the people who it resonates with to have it resonate. That’s it. And it does not need to be millions of people. It could be. But it doesn’t have to be. I have a note down also to just – and we don’t have to necessarily spend a ton of time on this. But just to clarify the – talk about introversion versus shyness. And I came across this when I was doing a bit of homework which is people think of, say, Bill Gates as maybe one example of someone who could be useful in distinguishing between the two. But could you clarify what an introvert is and how you define introvert and how it might differ from –

Susan Cain: From somebody who’s shy?

Tim Ferriss: Right.

Susan Cain: Yeah. So introversion is really about the preference for lower stimulation environments. And you can trace it to our neurobiology. Introverts have nervous systems that react more to all the incoming stimuli, and so that means that we’re at our most alive and happiest and switched on when things are a little more chill around us – which is probably why when you’re in those group dinners, you’re going to the restroom every so often because your nervous system wants to tone it down. And extroverts have the opposite situation and the opposite liability because, for an extrovert, you’ve got a nervous system that’s reacting less to stimulation. And that means when you’re in an environment that you find too quiet, you start to get really listless and checked out. So that’s the liability there.

And I always feel like my work has to do with both introversion and shyness, by the way. But shyness is much more about the fear of social judgment. So you’ll know if you’re a shy person because when you encounter someone who has a neutral expression on their face, you will have a tendency to read disapproval in there and to react really strongly to the disapproval. You feel really unhorsed by it. And it can take different forms. So it could be a fear of public speaking. Or it could be a job interview or any kind of situation where you feel you might be evaluated.

So in reality, lots of introverts do tend to be shy and vice versa but not necessarily at all. I don’t know Bill Gates personally. But my guess is that he’s an introvert but not especially shy. And then somebody like an Eileen Fisher who – she’s got this wonderful – and I think it’s been decades now – super successful fashion brand. She describes herself as a shy extrovert. So she really wants to be around people all the time. She wants to be connecting all the time. You talk to her. She’s constantly setting up this workshop and that program. And you look at her life, and she’s always surrounded by lots of people and things going on. But she’s often feeling intense discomfort and needing to work through that.

Tim Ferriss: Wild. Yeah. I would certainly describe myself as an introvert. And I never knew quite how to frame it until coming across your definition of preferring lower stimulation or environments with fewer stimuli because I’ve, ever since I was a little kid, been very sensitive. My sight is very sensitive. My hearing is very sensitive. But I’m not shy in the sense that I want to engage and ask questions and interact. But if the volume is turned up too much or there are too many speakers metaphorically or physically, I have a lot of difficulty parsing it all.

Susan Cain: But you don’t have – shyness would be like – before you go into those group dinners, are you feeling a kind of social anxiety?

Tim Ferriss: No.

Susan Cain: Right. That’s the difference. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: There are so many questions that I want to explore. Because we have maybe 10 or 15 minutes more, let’s ask a few of the questions that I always like to ask. Are there any books that you have given the most to others as a gift or any books you’ve gifted often to other people?

Susan Cain: I think that the book I’ve probably, for the last few years, been giving out the most is Waking Up by Sam Harris.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. It’s a fantastic book.

Susan Cain: It’s such a fantastic book. And it was really, for me, completely lifechanging I think for probably the reasons it is for many people which is I hadn’t really known much about meditation before reading it. I think by my nature, I’m a cross between a skeptic and a mystic or something. And the skeptical side of me – and it’s a pretty deep skeptical side. It really needed somebody like Sam, who’s such an extreme skeptic and then who, very conveniently, spent like 28 years of his life or something investigating all these different spiritual tools and then reporting back on them. For me, that was a narrator I felt I could really rely on.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. It’s a fantastic book. Just because I think you’ll – we were talking a bit about Sam before we started recording because we were both fanboying and fangirling about his mediation app and a handful of other things. But I haven’t told you – and I don’t know if I’ve even mentioned this publicly, but here we go. So the first time I met Sam – this relates to TED. Went to TED for the first time as an attendee which, by the way, was too much stimulation. So I never went back. But I went to TED for the first time as an attendee. And I was invited to one of these group dinners. And so I go out to this group dinner. And we’re eating dinner. And off to the side on a separate table, there’s this tray of brownies. And I love brownies. It’s one of my weaknesses. It is an Achilles’ heel. And I have zero portion control. And these brownies are large brownies. And I sneak over in between courses.

And I’m like, “I’m going to skip one of the later courses and just substitute the brownies because I love brownies.” And so I eat two of these brownies. And about 20 minutes later, the host, who I shall not name, comes up to me and goes, “Tim, did you eat any of the brownies?” I go, “Yeah. I had two of them.” And he goes, “Okay. Everything’s going to be fine.” And I’m like, “Wait. What? Everything is going to be fine? What the hell are you talking about?” They were heavily dosed pot brownies. And I am not a habitual pot user.

And so I suddenly, in the middle of dinner, just get hit by this tsunami of cannabis. And you combine that with my discomfort with high stimulation environments, and I’m like, “I need to get the hell out of here.” So I excuse myself to go to the restroom. And by this point, I’m already a huge fan of Sam but have never had any contact with him. So I run off to the bathroom to escape. And I open the door. And literally, at the sink, run straight into Sam Harris in the men’s room. And I’m like, “Sam Harris. Hi!” off my rocker. And that was my first intera – and he looks at me. He’s like, “Hi,” kinda sideways because I’m just beyond reality at that point. And that was my first meeting with Sam.

Susan Cain: That’s hilarious. And did you tell him your brownie story?

Tim Ferriss: I did. I did tell him, which he appreciated because he does have some history with –

Susan Cain: Yes, he does.

Tim Ferriss: – altered states.

Susan Cain: But yeah. No. I found that book and the subsequent meditation app and all of it incredibly helpful and fantastic. The one piece of it that I’m trying to explore separately because I feel like he looks at much less is the whole tradition of loving-kindness meditation, all the meditations around that. So that’s really, really of interest to me. And so I’m charting a different course there. And I’ll tell you, even just last night, I was interviewing on stage this guy, Haemin Sunim. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him.

Tim Ferriss: I don’t know.

Susan Cain: But he’s a really renowned Zen Buddhist monk from Korea. And his books are all number-one bestsellers in Korea and lots of other countries. But here, he’s less well known. But anyway, he has a new book out. So I was doing this interview. And we’re up on stage. So you can see the audience. And it happens to be a pretty formal audience. So before we start, the audience is sitting there, still, in their seats. And then he opens by doing a loving-kindness meditation. And it was so amazing to see the transformation on their faces. And he did this for maybe one or two or three minutes. It wasn’t long. And suddenly, they’re totally smiling. And they’re open. And they’re happy.

Tim Ferriss: It’s remarkable. Yeah.

Susan Cain: It’s remarkable. And I think it’s so weird and dispiriting how in the mainstream media and in corporate life – it’s great that there’s been this incredible embrace of mindfulness meditation. But I think there’s a kind of allergy towards going too much in the loving-kindness direction. And I spoke to Sharon Salzberg about this, who’s one of the great teachers. And she said that people have this sense that it must be phony, that you couldn’t possibly actually have those feelings. And so it gives them a creepy feeling to do it. But I feel like that all needs to get completely rethought.

Tim Ferriss: Loving-kindness, the label, I think smells of hand-wavy, hippie associations. And therefore, people veer away from it. Or if they have a sensitivity to that stuff, which I do and have for a very long time –

Susan Cain: But so did mindfulness for many years.

Tim Ferriss: Absolutely.

Susan Cain: And that’s been recast successfully.

Tim Ferriss: But I mention that as a contrast to my then subsequent experience with loving-kindness meditation, also called Metta, M-E-T-T-A meditation, which I was introduced to – not first by Jack Kornfield, although I did spend some time with him, who’s of the same cohort of Sharon Salzberg. They’re close friends. And Sharon’s been on the podcast – but Meng. Chade-Meng Tan of Google, actually, who started this class within Google called – I think it’s Search Within Yourself. And it was a course that included many tools including mindfulness. And he has a book called Joy on Demand, which is fantastic. I thought it was a fantastic title. I was like, “I could use joy on demand. Let’s take a look at this.” And there’s a very short part in that book which I ended up excerpting for, I want to say Tools of Titans about loving-kindness meditation.

And he tells the story of this woman who, as an experiment, guided or suggested by Meng, did a one-minute loving-kindness meditation on the hour every hour for one work day. And she would pick people who were walking out of the office or so on. And she came back. And she said, “That is the best day I’ve had at work in seven years.” And I think part of that is, at least for me, that I am a very – historically, have been very trapped in my head. I’m very prefrontal. And I come from a family of worriers, people who are –

Susan Cain: Warrior or worrier?

Tim Ferriss: Ah, worriers.

Susan Cain: With an O?

Tim Ferriss: Not the battleaxe type, but the Larry David type.

Susan Cain: Yeah. I come from one of those too.

Tim Ferriss: Right. And when you are consumed with worry or anxiety – and this is not my description, but it’s been described to me as being trapped in the future. Depression is being trapped in the past. And anxiety or worrying is being trapped in the future. At least for me, it’s a focus on the self. It’s like, “Me, me, me.” It’s all things that might happen to me, things that I should do.

And the loving-kindness meditation, which can be so short and have an impact gets you – unlike most types of mindfulness practice that are popular or becoming popular in the west, it gets you out of yourself. And I recall when I was writing Tools of Titans, I decided to take Meng’s advice. And I did loving-kindness for literally two or three minutes every night. I was at this hotel. And they had a dry sauna. And I’d go into the dry sauna really late because I was doing my writing really late and just do two to three minutes of thinking about a friend and wishing them happiness and seeing them smiling and giving them a hug and having them smile back at me and wishing me the same. And it was transformative with regards to my mood. It was really just incredible. Low dose. Really, really low dose.

Susan Cain: And I’m curious. You mentioned that you were meditating on loving-kindness to your friend. Did you also start with the traditional practice of wishing it to yourself? Or is that less comfortable for you?

Tim Ferriss: This is a great question. So I did not – it did not even occur to me to do this until years later when I went to my first seven-day – it might have been 10-day. Seven-day? No. It was a 10-day silent meditation retreat at Spirit Rock. And Jack Kornfield was there. And I went in – they check in with you to make sure you’re not having a total psychotic break for a few minutes every other day. And I had this meeting with Jack and one of his co-teachers for the event. And we were talking about loving-kindness. And as I was leaving, the woman with Jack said, “Just out of curiosity, have you been doing any loving-kindness for yourself?” I don’t know how to describe this in a way that doesn’t make me look like an ass. But it just struck me as such a silly question. I was like, “No. Of course I haven’t been doing it for myself.” And then I realized how much that probably explained a lot of my problems. And she goes, “Yeah. You might want to try that. Why don’t you experiment with that?” And I remember Jack later saying, “If –” and I’m paraphrasing but, “If your compassion doesn’t include yourself, then it’s incomplete. And that has become –

Susan Cain: Yeah. And you can’t really give it to other people in a complete way through –

Tim Ferriss: Right. So that has become probably – I’m so glad you asked that – one of the biggest changes in my – and I could call it a mindfulness practice but my way of relating to the world and thinking about helping others has been actually taking time to show or think on self-compassion, specifically for the self at a handful of younger ages which I do at mealtimes. And I might talk about that more at some point. But that’s –

Susan Cain: Oh, I think you should.

Tim Ferriss: – become really – it’s become a very, very, very, very important ritual for me.

Susan Cain: But I don’t think you’re alone. Sharon Salzberg mentioned to me that many people have trouble – the traditional progression of the practice would be start with yourself and then move progressively outward to other people in your life. And she said many people have trouble beginning with themselves. And so I was really struck because last night, this monk, Haemin Sunim, who I love began in his meditation by directing it to ourselves. And I asked him about that afterward. And he seemed puzzled by the question which made me wonder if this is a uniquely American problem. I don’t know.

Tim Ferriss: It reminds me of this story I heard of this – I don’t know what it was. Nepalese or Bhutanese monk who came to the US. And he was in a car on the way to some event. And there were these – this was in the US. And there were these people jogging on the side of the street to get in shape. But they looked like they were dying. They looked like they were running from hyenas. And he was just like, “Are they okay? What’s wrong with them?” It was so foreign. My goodness. So we have just a few minutes. Let me ask you the billboard question. So if you could put a message on a billboard – and this is metaphorically speaking – to get a message, a quote, a question, anything non-commercial out to millions or billions of people, what might you put on that billboard?

Susan Cain: I think I’d probably put this one aphorism that I’ve loved since high school I think, which is, “Only connect,” by E.M. Forster.

Tim Ferriss: Only connect.

Susan Cain: Only connect. Yeah. At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.

Tim Ferriss: What does that mean to you?

Susan Cain: It just means connecting on some really deep level with the people around you. And that might sound like an ironic aphorism for someone who wrote a book about introversion, but to me, those are not contradictory things at all. And so for me, connection, it can happen in person, for sure. But it could also happen just by listening to music that’s really touching you, and you feel completely connected to this musician who may not even be alive anymore or a writer who might not be alive anymore. But they’re expressing something deep and unchanging about what it’s like to be human. So I think there’s nothing more important than that.

Tim Ferriss: Only connect.

Susan Cain: Only connect. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Is there anything you’ve done that has helped you to more deeply or frequently experience those moments or any advice you might have for people who want to cultivate that?

Susan Cain: So aside from meditation, which I am a huge proponent of – but I think you really do have to pay attention to what works for you. And it really is so different for everybody. So for me, I love to have deep, one-on-one conversations. It happens through music. It happens through literature. And that’s how it happens. But I think it really is a different answer for everyone.

Tim Ferriss: For each person.

Susan Cain: And I’ll tell you – this is maybe a different topic, but the whole idea for my next book came out of one of these kinds of experiences, which is I have always had a love of bittersweet and minor key music. And the book’s not about music, but I’m going to tell you this story anyway. Okay. So when I was in law school, I was listening to music like that in my dorm. And a friend came by. And he was a funny, wise guy. And he said, “Why are you listening to this music to commit suicide to?” And I thought it was funny, and I laughed. But I thought about it for decades afterward. I was thinking, “Well, why is it – first of all, what is it about our culture that makes this music so suspect that you make that kind of joke? And also, what is it about the music itself that, for me, is not suicide inducing at all?”

It’s the opposite. I feel when I hear music like that, completely connected to everything because it’s like the composer is expressing some really deep truth about what it is to be human. So I’ve thought about this for decades. And the place that I’m going with this next book is that I think that tuning into the sorrows of the world actually is a kind of secret superpower that we’re not really allowed to access very often because, of course, we live in this culture that tells you, “Don’t go there. And always wear the smiley face,” and so on. But if I can say, look at somebody like you. Even before you started being really open and upfront about some of the demons that you’ve struggled with – which, by the way, all the honor to you for doing that. It’s amazingly brave and generous. But even before you did it and if you had never done it, I don’t think you would have been touching all those people the way you have all these years if it weren’t for those sorrows.

Tim Ferriss: I agree.

Susan Cain: Yeah. So it’s all about that.

Tim Ferriss: Well, I’m excited to read your next book. I think that’s a really, really, really, really important topic. That is really important. Well, we’ll have to do round two in that case.

Susan Cain: I would love that. That would be awesome. I just have to write a little faster.

Tim Ferriss: I will happily wait for your best work. So no need to rush. Well, Susan, this has been such a joy. And I’m sure people can hear it. But just to maybe underscore the point, you’re a very present person when you’re speaking with someone else.

Susan Cain: Oh, thank you. So are you.

Tim Ferriss: And I can feel that in the room. And so you’re walking the talk, which is always refreshing and not always the case. So thank you for taking the time today.

Susan Cain: Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it. It’s great to hang out.

Tim Ferriss: And I will link to everything in the show notes for folks including the name of the Korean monk that I couldn’t spell to save my life at the moment. But we will have links to everything at And you can just search Susan, and it’ll pop right up. People can find you online, presumably. Where are the best places to say hello, learn more about what you’re up to?

Susan Cain: Well, best thing is to sign up for my newsletter which you can get to if you go to which is for Quiet Revolution. So you’ll find it right there in the homepage. There’s a signup form. And there’s a newsletter that goes out every week. So that’s the absolute best. And then I’m also super active on LinkedIn and on Facebook.

Tim Ferriss: Great. And is that simply Susan Cain? Because I think Facebook – correct me if I’m wrong – I think is Author Susan Cain.

Susan Cain: Oh, gosh. Thank you for saying that. Yeah. So on Facebook, it’s Author Susan Cain. And on LinkedIn, I actually don’t remember. But it’s part of the LinkedIn Influencer – if you put in LinkedIn Influencer and my name, you’ll get there.

Tim Ferriss: It’ll pop right up. And then Twitter maybe less active?

Susan Cain: Yeah. I am on Twitter. A little less active.

Tim Ferriss: But @SusanCain.

Susan Cain: @SusanCain. Yup.

Tim Ferriss: And can’t wait to see the next book and continue to follow your work. Thank you for doing it.

Susan Cain: Thank you so much. I will say the same to you. What is the next book?

Tim Ferriss: What is the next book? Well, based on an episode that came out a few days ago, I think it’s going to be this book that I have been waiting to give myself permission to write which is about – it’ll be a close cousin to what you are thinking a lot about right now. It’ll be how to pay attention to these psycho-emotional undercurrents and components of life very closely and how to use tools, both on the beaten path and very, very, very off the beaten path for finding resolution for problems or challenges or insecurities or trauma that are at least in current conventional practice considered very difficult to treat or untreatable. So that would be, as far as I can tell – and I’ve been gathering notes for about five years now. That would be the thrust of it.

Susan Cain: That’s going to be your most important book.

Tim Ferriss: I hope so.

Susan Cain: What’s your timetable?

Tim Ferriss: What’s my timetable? Who was it? I think this is something I Heard on a TV set once. They didn’t want people to rush, but it was – the gist was people need to rush. But they didn’t want to say that and make you all panic. So they said, “We need everyone to move with purpose.” So I think my answer is move with purpose but not in haste because I want to treat it with the depth and thought that it deserves. So I don’t want to rush. I will probably write it without signing, before selling anything or signing any contracts. I’ll probably –

Susan Cain: Oh, you’ll write the whole thing first?

Tim Ferriss: I’ll probably do it on my own time.

Susan Cain: Oh, interesting. Okay.

Tim Ferriss: But it is a top if not the top priority.

Susan Cain: Wow. So are you working on it every day right now?

Tim Ferriss: I am in some fashion working on it every day. But it’s going to be a while before I get to the composition prose stage. But the vast majority of the work that I do on my books is the experimentation and the traveling for subjecting myself to all sorts of unusual things and the notetaking and the organizing of said notes. And I’m doing some piece of that almost every day.

Susan Cain: Wow. Oh, I’m so glad you’re doing this book. So if I can help – if you want an early reader or whatever, I would love to. It’s completely up my alley.

Tim Ferriss: Well, likewise. Likewise. This has been so much fun. And until next time. Thank you so much.

Susan Cain: Thank you so much.

Tim Ferriss: And to everybody listening, same. Until next time. Thank you for listening.

1 Comment / Leave a comment or question

Susan Cain — How to Overcome Fear and Embrace Creativity (#357)


Photo by Pasi Salminen

“So often, when you see someone who’s really good at almost anything, it’s because they actually started out exactly the opposite — and then they cared so much about fixing that problem.” — Susan Cain

Susan Cain (@susancain) is the author of the bestsellers Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, the latter of which has been translated into more than 40 languages. Quiet is in its seventh year on The New York Times Best Sellers list, and it was named the number one best book of the year by Fast Company magazine, which also named Susan one of its Most Creative People in Business.

She is the Chief Revolutionary of Quiet Revolution, and her writing has appeared in the The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Her record-smashing TED talk has been viewed more than 20 million times and was named by Bill Gates as one of his all-time favorite talks.

Please enjoy!

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

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

#357: Susan Cain — How to Overcome Fear and Embrace Creativity

Want to hear more about loving-kindness and mindfulness meditation? — Listen to this episode with world-renowned meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg! (Stream below or right-click here to download):

#277: Sharon Salzberg, World-Renowned Meditation Teacher

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.

LinkedIn, as the world’s largest professional network and also used by more than 70 percent of the US workforce, has a built-in ecosystem that allows you to not only search for employees, but also interact with them, their connections, and their former employers and colleagues in a way that closely mimics real-life communication. Visit and get $50 off toward your first job post!

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.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Read More

26 Comments / Leave a comment or question

The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Peter Mallouk (#356)

Leave a comment

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Peter Mallouk (@PeterMallouk), President of Creative Planning, which provides wealth management services to clients, manages over $36 billion for clients in all 50 states and abroad, and has been featured as the number one independent wealth management firm in America by Barron’s (2017). Peter is also the co-author (with Tony Robbins) of Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook. Transcripts may contain a few typos—with some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy!

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

#356: Peter Mallouk — Exploring the Worlds of Investing, Assets, and Quality of Life


Tim Ferriss owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as his right of publicity.


You are welcome to share the below transcript (up to 500 words but not more) in media articles (e.g., The New York Times, LA Times, The Guardian), on your personal website, in a non-commercial article or blog post (e.g., Medium), and/or on a personal social media account for non-commercial purposes, provided that you include attribution to “The Tim Ferriss Show” and link back to the URL. For the sake of clarity, media outlets with advertising models are permitted to use excerpts from the transcript per the above.


No one is authorized to copy any portion of the podcast content or use Tim Ferriss’ name, image or likeness for any commercial purpose or use, including without limitation inclusion in any books, e-books, book summaries or synopses, or on a commercial website or social media site (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) that offers or promotes your or another’s products or services. For the sake of clarity, media outlets are permitted to use photos of Tim Ferriss from the media room on or (obviously) license photos of Tim Ferriss from Getty Images, etc.

Tim Ferriss: Hello, boys and girls, ladies and germs. This is Tim Ferriss, and welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferriss Show. Today’s episode features Peter Mallouk. Peter is the president of Creative Planning, one of the largest independent wealth management firms, in the United States. Creative Planning provides wealth management services to clients, manages more that $36 billion for clients in all 50 states and abroad, and has been featured as the number one independent wealth management firm in America by Barron’s. That was 2017. Peter is also featured on Worth Magazine’s Power 100, featuring the most powerful men and women in global finance. The only financial planner on that list in both 2017 and 2018. Creative Planning was also featured in Forbes in 2016, as the number one RIA for growth over the last 10 years.

He is the co-author of Unshakeable, alongside Tony Robbins. And that is how the introduction was initially made. And we’ll talk, I’m sure, more about that. Peter, welcome to the show.

Peter Mallouk: Thanks for having me, Tim.

Tim Ferriss: I wanted to have you on the show because we’ve had a number of conversations. And in full disclosure, so people know the playing field, I am not currently a client, but I’m in a position that we have had a number of conversations about money management. And I found a lot of your observations about money management. And I found a lot of your observations to be thought provoking and, in some cases, very counterintuitive. And I had read Money Master the Game, which is how I initially interviewed Tony. And for those who are interested, my very first Instagram photo ever was of Tony palming my entire face, which was taken after that interview. And then, Unshakeable was published, and your name kept on coming up. And you do manage money for a number of my friends.

But we do not have any type of financial relationship, which I think is important for me to make clear upfront. I do find your thinking very interesting. And this is a world, meaning finance and personal finance, that can be very intimidating, not only for people who are trying to find their way in terms of asset allocation and looking towards retirement, but really for myself, for friends of mine who would like to think of themselves as competent in other areas or some other areas, this can be overwhelmingly or seem overwhelmingly complex. So I thought we might start, if it’s okay with you, and we can steer this in any direction we want to go, but with a couple of very specific asset classes or potential investments and how you think about them because this might be a way to at least get into your thought process.

And the first thing that I have, on this list, is gold. I do not, currently, own any gold. What are your thoughts on gold?

Peter Mallouk: Well, I don’t own any either. And it’s a great way to start because it’s one of those hot button issues that half of your listeners are going to decide how they feel about me based on this answer alone. I think gold and Bitcoin are definitely hot button topics. So the punchline is I’m not a fan of gold, but here is the reasoning why. If you think about investing, if you look at the great investors of history, I think the one all of your listeners would be familiar with is Warren Buffett. What they want is they want something that pays them. If you buy a building, you want to collect rate. If you buy a bond, you want to get the yield from that bond. If you buy a stock, you want the dividend, or, at some point, you want to benefit from the earnings of that company, even if it doesn’t provide a dividend.

Gold doesn’t provide any income. And the value of gold is that someone else will pay you more for it later. It’s that kind of straightforward. So it’s a very speculative element to it. If we look at gold, going all the way back to the Great Depression to today, it’s performed worse than every major asset class, except cash, which, if you want to call cash an asset class. So you could have done better in the US or international or emerging markets or with bonds and been collecting income all along the way. Now, not only did it perform worse than all of those asset classes, it was more volatile than those asset classes. So you’re taking all of this volatility risk, and you’re not getting the reward. And we don’t have to go all the way back to the Great Depression. If you look at the last 10 years, same story.

One of the worst performers, but you’re getting all of the volatility, and you’re not getting any income. And then, if you start to look at the tax consequences, you pay a higher tax on the gains in gold. So even if you have some modest gain to show for dealing with all of the volatility and getting no income and hoping somebody will pay you more for it later, when all of that happens, you’re going to pay higher taxes than if you had just bought Apple stock or some other stock.

Tim Ferriss: Thank you. So if you had to take the not strongman position but steelman position, meaning the strongest counterargument, what do smart people or otherwise smart people, depending on how you interpret their position on gold, argue the ownership for the ownership of gold? What would the most compelling, even if you don’t find it personally compelling, but of the arguments for gold, what is the most compelling?

Peter Mallouk: I think when you see smart people who are really pro gold, their main argument tends to be the economic system is a house of cards or fraudulent system or a manipulated system. And I don’t think it’s a house of cards. And I don’t think it’s a fraudulent system. But I agree, it’s manipulated. The Federal Reserve exists to help manipulate the economy. That’s why it’s there. So I’m always fascinated when conspiracy theorists say the Federal Reserve is manipulating the economy. That’s their whole job is to control inflation and to keep unemployment low and to do so by trying to manipulate the economy. But I think that’s the strongest argument is that the country has an enormous amount of debt. The same thing is happening across all developed countries. Most developed countries have a lot of debt.

Someday, that debt is going to have to be paid. We’re going to have extremely high inflation. Currency is going to be worthless. And people will be using gold as the store of value and as currency. And let’s just say that is the case. you have to just draw that to the logical conclusion. So now, I’m going to walk out of my front door, and I’m going to go down to the local McDonald’s or Quick Trip, and I’m going to pull out my gold. And I’m going to go to the grocery store with that. I’m going to go to the gas station with that. What’s going to happen, I remember being in Oklahoma seeing some perspective clients. And we were talking about this scenario. And I said, “Now what do you think is going to happen if the whole economic system has collapsed? Stocks are worthless, bonds are worthless, the dollar is worthless, and we’re dealing with gold.”

And he goes, “Well, I’ve got my plan right there.” And he was pointing across the room at his gun rack. And that’s, basically, the world we would be living in. I don’t think we would be too worried about what our currency is. But I would tell you that the people making the case against me would consider that to be naïve.

Tim Ferriss: Got it. Yeah. It is very difficult to shave off a small fragment of gold to buy your six pack at 7-11. You may be better off, like you said, stockpiling guns, cigarettes, and tampons and other things that you might be able to trade, if that’s the thesis.

Peter Mallouk: Exactly.

Tim Ferriss: I don’t want to take us too far down the gold rabbithole. Bitcoin, you mentioned Bitcoin. We might as well talk about that and cryptocurrency.

Peter Mallouk: Yeah. Piss off everybody right out of the box.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. I figure that’s a good place to start.

Peter Mallouk: And I know some of your friends that we have in common are very big proponents of this.

Tim Ferriss: They also, I should say, just as a side note, they also have tremendous informational advantage.

Peter Mallouk: I would agree with that, yeah. That’s true. I think, Bitcoin is interesting because it gets muddled with other things. So first, we have blockchain technology, which backs it up. And a lot has been written about this. There are some very big real companies like IBM and Accenture investing in this, Walmart using it for inventory tracking. That technology is real. But what you hear people say is, “Oh, blockchain is a real thing and you’re an idiot if you don’t like Bitcoin.” Well, the TV is a real thing. I’m glad it’s invented, but that doesn’t mean everything that comes out of it is going to work. That doesn’t mean that every product that comes out of it is going to work. So blockchain is just a technology that allows cryptocurrencies to work. Now there are several thousand cryptocurrencies, and Bitcoin is one of them.

And even the people that are really into cryptocurrencies, as part of the future, many of them will acknowledge that Bitcoin is not the one that probably has the best profile to be the winner going forward. But nonetheless, it has a very big following. It was the first one to utilize blockchain technology, I believe. And clearly, the first breakout one. But there’s a difference between the cutting edge and the bleeding edge. You have Apple today. You have the iPhone today. But before Apple and the iPhone, there was BlackBerry and Palm. Those were bleeding edge. They came out, they were wonderful things. And someone could have said this technology is amazing.

You’re an idiot if you think Palm or BlackBerry is not going to rule the world. But someone else took the concept and made it better. Before Google, there was Excite and AOL and Lycos. Someone else came along and improved upon the technology and made it better. And I think that’s what we’re going to see here. Blockchain technology, that’s the real thing that’s going to change the way the world works, much the way the internet did. And I think we’re going to move from centralized databases to decentralized databases. And I think probably some cryptocurrency of these 2,000 and however many other hundreds or thousands there’s going to be in the future, probably 1 or maybe a few of them will wind up being used. But the odds it is going to be Bitcoin is very, very low. And so any investment in Bitcoin is, to me, purely speculative.

Again, there’s no income coming from it. We’re just betting that someone else is going to pay more for it later and that this is going to be the cryptocurrency, or one of the cryptocurrencies, that prevails. And I think that’s not an investment. It doesn’t mean someone can’t buy it, but it has much more speculative element to me than being part of an investor’s portfolio that’s where you anticipate, in the future, the investment having worked out.

Tim Ferriss: If I look at people who have made a lot of money investing or, in some cases, speculating, but let’s just, for the moment, assume that they’re playing more a single deck game of blackjack where they can actually apply a system of some type. They’re not entirely playing roulette. And those people, in my experience, generally, have had advantages, whether those are informational, analytical, behavioral, they have some type of advantage that allows them an unfair competitive edge, to some extent. So it could be that they know the creators of say, in the case of cryptocurrencies, different cryptocurrencies. It could be that say like a John Arnold, they just have an incredible domain expertise and level of access that allows them to work with, say, energy. And you can go down the line and find people in almost any sector that have these advantages.

In the world in which you play, in Creative Planning or personal life, we can make it personal life, what do you feel your superpowers are or your differentiators? What are your advantages or systems that allow you to approach things differently?

Peter Mallouk: Well, I think there are no superpowers. And I think no one has anymore really public market investing superpowers. I think you can go out of the public markets, and you can develop a very big competitive advantage as someone who is involved in investment. So for example, I do think that someone buying private real estate can be better at that than someone else who is buying private real estate, and, I think, substantially so. I think, when you get to the public markets, I’ll tell you how I feel about investing, in general, and then, what I think we would do that we would think would add value and make us different and, I think, are the reasons for our success. I think, when you look at the public markets, you were talking about people having special knowledge and inside knowledge.

And the thing about the stock market is that doesn’t exist with the stock market. So when you’re talking about the stock market and the bond market, there is nobody that has that insider knowledge. Some people have it, but if they use it, it’s called insider trading. And you can go to jail for that. And so the advice would be not to do that. So the kid, in his garage in Malaysia, has the same information as the top analyst at Goldman Sachs because all of the information is public. So we’re all sharing this information. And the market has become incredibly efficient, especially once we got into high speed internet. Once everyone started to get information at the same time, there used to be a time where some people were outperforming the market, and someone uncovered it was because they were getting issues of Money Magazine or Value Line before they came out.

They were seeing them at the printing press or when they were being delivered to the magazine stand. Even that doesn’t exist anymore. We’re all getting the information in real time. And so if you think about a company like McDonald’s, you’ll hear, with the financial media, when the market goes down, although everyone is selling, there’s never a time where everyone is selling. For every seller, there’s a buyer. So if McDonald’s has 30 million people sell the stock today, that means 30 million people bought it. And there are really, really bright people on both sides of that trade. And there are really, really, really stupid people on both sides of that trade. And they’re all sharing the same information. And that’s collective wisdom eventually gets the price where it’s supposed to be. And now, might there be somebody who can beat this system?

The statistics say that’s very, very difficult. It’s more than 85 percent of people trading these large stocks, which make up the huge majority of the market that are professionals underperform the index over long periods of time, which means underperforming somebody just buying the 500 stocks and, literally, doing nothing. If you do that, you’re beating the overwhelming majority of the professionals because, by the time you pay the taxes and the transaction costs, and you make all of the behavioral mistakes human beings are going to make, you’re probably going to have that drag, that friction that causes underperformance. And so I think this is a space where a lot of successful people, and you interviewed the most successful people there are. You’re interviewing LeBron, and LeBron is telling you why he’s better than everybody else.

And part of it is it starts out physical, but, certainly, that’s the very small minority of it. And 90 percent of it is what he’s doing to make it happen. Some very successful people then to go the public markets and go, “Well, clearly, there must be people that are better at this than others. Clearly, I can find this guy that can trade and beat the market.” And that’s really just not the case. So what we do to try to improve upon things is people have a lot of rear, when it comes to investing. I think it starts, when you’re very, very young. Some people have a fear of losing their money. Some people think they understand certain things, but they don’t understand markets, so they have a fear of investing all together. Some people spend all of their money. One thing I’ve noticed, from this profession, is very, very few people have a very healthy attitude about money.

That it’s okay to earn it, and there’s a smart way to save it and invest it. And it’s okay to spend it. It’s okay to feel good with it, not spend too much, not spend too little. Even when you look at the financial gurus, some of them are telling people, “Don’t go to Starbucks in the morning. That’s a waste of money. That’s silly.” So what we try to do is we try to make sure that we can keep people engaged in the portfolio, so they hit their goals. So let’s take the stock market, for an example. If one of your listeners invests today, the odds the market is going to be positive a year from now is about 75 percent. Just positive three out of four years, which means one out of four years, it’s not positive. But if we look at the market over five years, it’s positive well over 90 percent of the time. And over 10 years, it’s positive more than 98 percent of the time.

So the longer we can stretch this out, the more probable a certain outcome is. So if you have somebody who has short-term needs, they shouldn’t be in the market because no matter how good we are, someone can fly into a building, and everything changes tomorrow, and the stocks are going to go down. It doesn’t matter how good our analysis is. Anything you’re going to need one year, three years, four years from now, those should be in things like bonds where we expect the lower return, but we have a high probability that money is going to be there for us. And the longer term would be stocks. And the very long-term might be alternative investments. And to do that, you really have to know a person, and what’s their tax bracket, and what state do they live in, and do they have outside income sources like social security or a pension or rental income?

And how much fluctuation can they handle? And when you know all of those things and how much money they need and when they need it, you can start to match the asset classes to their needs. And then they’re more likely to stay on that rollercoaster. And the rollercoaster works out great. And everyone will have a good time, unless you try to get off of it in the middle of the ride. And so I think, if you’ve got a process to match people’s investments to their needs, you’re more likely to have a good outcome because most people screw things up themselves. If you take someone who invested before 2008, you’ll hear a lot of people go, “I’m not going to invest because I lost all of my money then.” Those of us that are older have friends that say they’ll never invest because they lost everything in the Tech Bubble or after 9/11.

Well, if you’re a long-term investor, and you were diversified, it’s basically impossible to have lost money. If you put all of your money in, you’re the worst investor of the last nine years, and you put all of your money into the market the day before the ‘08/’09 crash, today, you’ve more than doubled your money. The S&P 500 has more than doubled since then. We can do that the day before 9/11, the day before the Tech Bubble. You have to go out of your way to have lost money. But people find a way to do it by making behavioral mistakes or working with advisors that make the behavioral mistakes on their behalf.

Tim Ferriss: So let me dig into a couple of questions related to what you just said. And maybe, as a baseline, and you can help me do this also, but there are different reasons or motivations for participating in markets. You could aim to get rich using the markets. In other words, you could be aiming to be a Paul Tudor Jones or someone like that where you come in, with a handful of dollars, and that is how you make your fortune, in the same way that someone might make their fortune building a tech startup to exit or IPO, for instance. The second would be staying, say preserving wealth using the markets, in some fashion. And then, you might have, in third place, or not in third place but the third option being becoming incrementally richer using markets but not counting on it for that bulk of your principal, right?

So the way you approach things would seem to depend very heavily on which category you fall in. But to come back to, and I’m just talking through also to clarify my own thinking on some of this, how would you then, if you have – how do you assess – let’s just say someone is considering Creative Planning and then, Firm X, Firm Y, or Firm Z. If the argument can be made that you have to assess over the very long-term, how can one separate the good, the bad, the ugly, and the excellent, in terms of wealth management over a shorter time horizon? Does that make sense? Because one might be inclined to say all right, I’m going to take my 100 units of capital, split it into 20 units, and give it to five different wealth managers and see how they do over a three-year period of time or whatever the period of time might be and then, assess.

But if each of those wealth managers is saying, “You have to actually stick with us for the long-term,” then you end up in a bit of a pickle from a decision-making standpoint. So how should the investor think about that scenario?

Peter Mallouk: Well, I think I would start with just defining a money manager versus a wealth manager.

Tim Ferriss: There you go.

Peter Mallouk: Yeah. Let’s say that somebody believes that they can beat the market by stock picking or market timing. So market timing being you put your money in the market, you think it’s going to go down, you take it out, you put it back in, or you want somebody who is going to trade stocks and try to beat the market. That would be a money manager. And you might say, “Okay, I’m going to go hire Money Manager A to buy my large cap value stocks and Money Manager B to buy my bonds and Money Manager C to buy my international small stocks.” And you might have them all managed in the same space and compare them. To do this, you have to believe that these managers are going to add value by, after fees and taxes, trading stocks in a way where they beat their respective benchmarks.

Now, in the alternate world of wealth managers, wealth manager is really sitting with a client and looking out at the universe of money managers and deciding, with the client, “Okay, where are we going to put our stocks? Where are we going to put our bonds? Where are we going to put our international stocks?” And so the wealth manager is helping with all of the portfolio allocation. They might manage all of it in house. They might outsource it. And they might also give advice on other things, whether it’s tax or insurance or risk management, whatever. They’ll look at a bigger piece. And that’s more of what a wealth manager would do. Within those worlds, you have a very big debate between passive management and active management.

So, active management would be Paul Tudor Jones, hedge fund managers, mutual fund managers, separately managed account managers where you’re paying somebody to try to beat a respective index. So an international manager would try to beat the international index. A large cap US manager would be trying to beat the S&P 500 Index, which is just 500 of the biggest companies in the country. I think that’s what you’re seeing in the marketplace, as more and more money is moving from active managers to passive managers. Meaning, instead of trying to hire somebody to beat the S&P 500, I’m going to buy the S&P 500. And the question doesn’t become, “Which manager am I going to pick to trade these?” It becomes, “Which wealth manager am I going to hire to help me determine how much should be in large cap US stocks in the first place versus international stocks, versus bonds, versus real estate?”

And so we would be in the group where we’re wealth managers looking at everything. We don’t believe that, if we pay somebody to trade stocks, they’re going to do better than the S&P 500. So we’re going to buy the index there, and we’re going to buy it in several other spaces. And we’re going to pick our battles on where we think we can create outperformance or what the industry calls alpha. And we would look at alternative investments for that. We think you can do that in private markets where everybody doesn’t have the same information and where, if we look at a management team and their education and their credentials and their experience, we feel we can extrapolate that they might actually be better than another team.

So if you look at alternative asset classes, it would be things like private equity, private lending, private real estate, things that fall into categories like that, I think, are where we would try to get our alpha for the clients.

Tim Ferriss: Gotcha. So let’s talk about the alternative then, for a second. In the alternative investments, what are the alternative options where you like to go fishing or at least exploring. Is it a short list? Is it real estate investment trusts, private equity, master limited partnerships? What type of alternative options do you feel are most viable?

Peter Mallouk: So I’ll start by defining it for your audience because it’s a question I get a lot. And I always correlate it to public markets. So you can buy a publicly traded stock, which would be like Nike or Google. You can lend money to a corporation or a government. That would be a bond. If you lend money to the federal government, it’s a treasury. If you loan it to a county or a state, it’s a municipal bond. If you loan it to a strong corporation, it’s a corporate bond. And if you loan it to one that’s not doing so great, it’s a high yield bond or a junk bond. And, of course, there’s publicly traded real estate. So someone can go online, open a custodial account at a place like TD, Ameritrade, Schwab, or Fidelity, and type in a couple of things and five minutes later own a portfolio of all of those things. Each of those things has a private alternative meaning they’re not trading on the public markets, and they follow a different set of rules.

They’re less regulated. You usually have to be an accredited investor with a million or more to be able to access those. Some of them require that you’re a qualified purchaser with $5 million or more to get into them. But instead of publicly traded stock, you could invest in private equity. So there might be a fund that – one fund we used bought Dunkin’  Donuts and then took it national and sold it. And that was one of dozens of companies they owned. So that’s what private equity does. The private lending lends money to private businesses that are growing. And then, there’s private real estate where you have somebody raising money and buying apartment complexes or commercial buildings all over the place. And alternative investments, the advantage is we do expect you’ll probably do better than the public version of that investment.

And part of it is the illiquidity premium, meaning the money is tied up for a while. So if you go put your money in a private real estate fund, you can’t just exit the next day because the gal you gave the money to is running around buying buildings. She can’t sell a building because you feel like taking the money out and going on vacation. Same thing. When you go into private equity or private lending, you’re making a commitment to give these funds your money for five years, 10 years, or more, so they can go buy all of these businesses or buy all of these properties and then sell them all. And then the fund closes. Those are the most common alternative investments. And we do think that the type of company that’s running those and their experience, we think that matters. And we think that gives an edge from a performance perspective.

Now basically anything that’s not publicly traded is an alternative investment. So if one of your listeners owns a duplex that they’re renting out, that’s an alternative investment. There are funds like life settlement funds that buy life insurance policies. And I think these are kind of interesting. There’s this whole market that started, and it started in a terrible way. Back in the ‘80s, people were buying life insurance policies for young men that were sick with AIDS. And what I like about the happy ending to that story is, of course, they came up with a cure for that. And all of the people that had thought they were buying these policies and were going to cash in wound up going bankrupt. So I like the way that story ends. But what happened is some states started regulating this space and saying, “If you want to sell a life insurance policy or buy a life insurance policy, you have to go through a regulated process.”

And once that happened, some actuaries came into the space and private firms came into the space and started buying policies. And about three-fourths of people over the age of 70, they wind up surrendering their life insurance policy. They go back to wherever they bought the policy and go, “I don’t need this anymore.” And the insurance company goes, “Great. We’ll give you the surrender value back.” So someone might have a $3 million policy that was going to pay to their family, but now they’re 70, and their house is paid for, their kids are out of college. They don’t need that anymore, but they want their $100,000 cash value back because they can enjoy it over the next 10 years or 20 years of their life. Well instead, these life settlement funds come along and go, “Hey, we’ll buy that policy from you.” And they might pay five, 10, or 12 times more.

And one of the funds we use is paying about 12 times more for that policy. So they might give that guy $1.2 million for that policy. So that guy is thrilled. They’re running off with their money. They’re getting way more than they were going to get from the insurance company. But now, the fund owns maybe 1,000 plus life insurance policies, and they’re going to collect all of those death benefits. And they distribute it to the people that invested in the fund. So that’s also an alternative investment. It has nothing to do with stocks, bonds, real estate. But it’s a little different. And people like investments like that because they don’t behave the way the stock market or the bond market does. They don’t care who is the president. They don’t care what’s going on with tariffs or who tweets what. This is actuarial science as far as how this fund is going to do.

There’s a fund that buys music royalties. So it might buy like a catalog or songs from different artists and then own the future royalties. And your performance is dependent on do people still download those songs five years from now, 20 years from now? But the alternative investment space is very interesting, governed by a little bit different set of rules. And I think that’s where higher net worth people can get an edge beyond just going with needs-based investing.

Tim Ferriss: You mentioned real estate a few times. And I’d like to touch on that because this is an asset class, depending on how we want to look at it, an asset class that I think a lot of people feel a certain degree of comfort with, rightly or wrongly, because it is very tangible. And some people would argue that real estate is a better investment than the stock market, or they maybe intuitively and wrongly feel that is the case. What is your perspective on real estate? And I know that that is a broad term, but maybe you could just expand on your thinking, as it relates to real estate.

Peter Mallouk: Well, I like real estate as an investment, particularly if it’s diversified. I do think, in the private side, expertise makes a very, very big difference. But I will also tell you real estate, in my experience, is a tremendously overrated investment. And I have some clients that are extremely wealthy from running real estate. But I also have some that went bankrupt with their private real estate. And I’m going to give you a couple of reasons I think it’s overrated. I think it’s misunderstood. I think one of the things is, if you look at a business, look at how big business works. If you are one of the Fortune 100 companies, I’d rather own the company than the building that they rent. And so would they. Most of these big companies, they sell off their real estate because they feel it will drag down their rate of return.

When a private equity firm goes and buys a business that has $100 million of revenue, they don’t want to buy the building. They’re very happy for the owner to keep the building and pay that owner rent because they think the real estate is going to hurt their rate of return. So if you really look at the very big, sophisticated money, they’d rather own the business that’s in the property than the property that the business is in. Now second, I think real estate magnifies wins and losses. And so you’re going to see a disproportionate amount of winners. So let’s say that you’re going to go buy a duplex, and it’s $100,000. And that doesn’t exist where you live, but where I live, it does. So let’s say you’re going to buy a $100,000 duplex, and you just put down $10,000. And you borrow $90,000 from the bank.

And let’s say that you rent out the duplex, and the real estate market is good, interest rates are low. And now, your duplex is worth $110,000. And you sell it. Your gain is 100 percent. You put $10,000 in, and now you’re selling it. You’re paying off your loan, and you have a $10,000 profit. So you doubled your $10,000 investment. That use of leverage magnifies gains and makes people think the investment is better than it is. Now the reason you see a tremendous amount of bankruptcies in real estate is it works in reverse. We saw that in ‘08/’09 during the most devastating example of this in US history where you put $10,000 in, and you borrow $90,000, and you own a $100,000 duplex, and then, the market crashes, and your $100,000 duplex is worth $90,000. Well, you’ve lost 100 percent of your investment when you sell.

So you’re magnifying the wins and losses. And you can do that with anything, but people are very comfortable doing it with real estate. So for example, I could take a portfolio with $100,000, and I can go borrow against the portfolio. And I could borrow $50,000 if I wanted to, against the portfolio, and invest that money. And I’d have $150,000 portfolio with a $50,000 loan. Most people would go, “My God, that’s risky. I’m not going to borrow money against my portfolio to buy more stocks.” But that’s basically what we’re doing when we’re using leverage in real estate. We’re really counting on the value of real estate to hold. And then, third, I would say the thing about real estate is, unless you are tremendously diversified, real estate is an investment where everything is okay until it isn’t okay.

When it goes bad, it can go bad very, very quickly. So in the community that I’m in, there was a family that became extremely wealthy with shopping malls. And then, all of a sudden, those weren’t in favor, and the story doesn’t end so well. It’s the same thing with how neighborhoods that you might have been to, when you were growing up, if you look at the complexion of them today, some of them hold up, and some of them, all of the real estate may as well be worthless. And so I think it’s a deceptive investment. You feel this security because you can see it, and you can touch it. A lot of people get rich in it because of leverage. We tend to ignore the people that go bankrupt. And we tend to not look at those parts of town that didn’t turn out so well that were pretty good parts of town 10 or 20 years earlier.

So again, I like it. I come across like I’m not. I just think it’s overrated. We own a lot of real estate for our clients, private and public, at Creative Planning. I personally own private and public real estate. I like it as an asset class. But people really need to focus on diversification and understanding where it fits in. If you own a public real estate fund  and you own a stock fund, your expectation should be that 20 years later, you’ve made more owning the companies than owning the buildings that they rent.

Tim Ferriss: Thank you for that. And I want to ask about another asset class that may make me immediately seem like a complete idiot. We’ll see. Probably not the only thing in this conversation that will make me look like a complete idiot, but I’ll just start tallying those up on one side. But for similar reasons, the tangibility, the sort of personal concrete nature of this class, I want to ask about it. And then, jointly with real estate will lead to a follow up question that I have for you. Artwork, investing in art, what are your thoughts? Does it have a place? Is it overrated, underrated? How would you encourage people to think about that? Or how do you think about it?

Peter Mallouk: Well I think, when you look at things like that or collectibles or cars, not a car you would just go buy to drive around, but the cars that are more collectible oriented, to me, those are like collecting coins. We’re counting on there being a marketplace that exists for it. And I think we have a century’s old legacy of that being the case with art. And so I don’t consider that a fad by any means. And there are funds that specialize in owning art. We wouldn’t use them with our clients because we really want things that produce income. So to me, I consider there are a lot of ways to make money. And I’d rather make money in a way that I’ve got the hammock, the safety net there to back up into. I like that, if I own bonds or stocks or real estate, that, if things decline for a prolonged period of time, I can still collect money.

If the housing market goes down, I own some duplexes. To keep them running, I’m still going to collect the rent. Whereas if I’ve invested in art and the market turns against me for a decade or two, and I want to sell something, I’m not going to make any money in the meantime. But I like that kind of investment if you also have a passion that goes with it. So if somebody likes art, they have enough money, and I mean, a lot of money, millions of dollars to where you’re moving, you don’t need this money to be financially independent. If it works out, fantastic. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not going to kill you. The collectible markets can work, but they have a little bit more speculative element to them.

Tim Ferriss: Got it. I’m going to turn this into a bit of a personalized therapy session for a moment. The reason I bring up real estate and art is that they coincide with, or have similarities to, for me, early stage tech investing in the sense that one of the primary bugs, which is illiquidity, has turned out to be a huge feature and benefit for me, given my psychological weaknesses and propensity to impulse sell or panic sell. Does that make sense? So I have been able to guard against my lesser behaviors by having certain assets like early stage tech, which I do not recommend to everyone by any stretch of the imagination, because I’ve done a tremendous amount of upfront due diligence and analysis or had superior information, have made investments, and then been completely prevented, to my benefit in most cases, from selling those assets until they get to a certain escape velocity.

And similarly, if I buy real estate – and I do own real estate – the fees and complexity involved, on some level, with unwinding those versus going to a brokerage account and just hitting sell on my public equity that I might own, guards against one of my most financially self-defeating behaviors, which is panic selling. So I suppose this could lead us into a bunch of different territory. But I’m curious to know, when things that – broadly speaking – don’t make financial sense, if we were computers looking at asset classes and so on and so forth, actually make sense for individual clients because of their frailty in being human or weaknesses like those that I outlined. And the answer might be there’s a better way to prevent me from making stupid mistakes. But I’d love to hear any and all thoughts you have on that brain vomit that I just threw up on you.

Peter Mallouk: I’m so glad you asked this. I wouldn’t have thought of it as a question. But I would say, earlier, I was talking about I think that the things that derail people are exactly what you talked about. They’re behavioral. And those really tend to come from uncertainty. If you don’t know what’s going on, uncertainty leads to fear. If you go to a doctor, and you have something that they think might be terminal, but they’re not sure, you’re going to be scared out of your mind. Or the doctor is trying to figure something out, you’re not going to feel good. The more uncertainty there is, the more fear you’re going to have. And I think that’s what you’re talking about, with your experience in the markets, is you’re uncertain about outcomes. It makes you scared. And then, what do you do? You might sell because it’s so easy to sell.

And what helps alleviate uncertainty is education. The more informed you are, the more you understand how the investments you’re in work and what their time horizon is like and how frequently corrections in bear markets are and how rapid things can go down but how rapid they come back, the more educated you become, the more certainty you get, the less fear you have, the more likely you are to stick with the plan. But despite all of that, even the wealthiest people and the most educated people get scared in down markets. I’m seeing it today, as we speak. For the listeners that listen to this later, the Dow is probably about 4,000 points off of its high. And that freaks some people out.

Tim Ferriss: We’re recording this, just for context, in late December, December 21, 2018.

Peter Mallouk: Well, I just, last week, saw someone who was running a state pension in an interview say he felt like he was paying a premium for alternative investments, so he could be blissfully unaware of how poor the investments were doing in a down cycle. And I think there’s something to that. I remember, in the ‘08/’09 crisis, we meet with all of our clients to do a complete review, on top of all of the things we’re doing throughout the year. And we go through everything on their net worth. And then, we rerun the plan, make sure we’re on the same page. And we go through, and we update all of their investments. And we’re showing them this investment in stocks is down. This investment in your publicly traded real estate is down, and your bonds are up. Whatever it is. And then, we’d get to their house, and they’d say, oh, my house is the same value.

And then, we’d get to the duplex they own that they rent out, and they’d be like “Oh, that’s the same value. And that painting in my house, that’s the same value.” Of course it’s not the same value. If they wanted to go sell the house or the duplex or the art, they’d actually have to take a bigger discount, most of the time, than the public markets. There was literally no buyers for any of that. You weren’t going to go sell a million dollar coin collection in the middle of all of that. And so the not having it updated every second of every hour of every business day allows people to be blissfully unaware and not make those behavioral mistakes. And so I actually do think that’s a positive. When we have our higher net worth clients that have alternatives, I like the alternatives because I think they’re going to get a little bit better return. I think they may have a little less volatility.

But I also think it speaks directly to what you brought up. It brings them peace in that it’s not priced every single day. And so every single time the markets trend down, they don’t have to be reminded that they’re seeing their public real estate down in their account, but they’re not seeing the private real estate down because it’s not repriced every day. And it really does help people not make long-term mistakes.

Tim Ferriss: If we’re looking at long-term avoiding, mitigating against long-term mistakes, I suppose we could also talk about short-term mistakes. Now considering how reluctant I am to invest in public markets, one could argue stupidly so I’ve read a tremendous amount. So it’s not that I am uninformed as it relates to the trending over time of say, the equity market, but what catches me, and you noted, in some of our exchanges prior to this conversation, that in my podcast with Howard Marks, legendary investor, that I brought up fear of losing money. And it seems to me, and maybe you can talk some sense into me, but that, on one hand you can argue, or one could argue, that it’s not timing the market, but time in the market that makes the difference, right? And the time to get started is now.

On the other hand, couldn’t one also argue that while it’s very difficult, if not impossible to time the market, it is very, very possible to mistime the market, not by design but by accident? And if you come in, at the top of the market, I know you talked about the day before 9/11, etc., the recovery time, in some cases, isn’t necessarily trivial, right? So  – and just follow me here; this is going to be a little long – but there are smart people, and maybe this is just like the guy with the sandwich board on the corner saying the end is near. He’s eventually going to be right, so who knows, maybe this is one of those cases. But you have some very smart people who, historically, hold a lot in cash for when there’s blood in the streets. At least that’s my understanding. Like a Seth Klarman or others.

My inclination would be, if you tell me that the markets are down one out of every four years, is to wait for the canary in the coal mine or some type of indicator, maybe it’s obvious, maybe it isn’t, that we are down. And then, hold onto cash until that point to invest when the market is not necessarily at its all-time low for that period of time, but lower than it should be, so to speak. And this is going to come off as terribly naïve for a lot of folks. But the reason I bring this up is it seems to me, and this is me kind of talking out of my ass a little bit, but that the function of investing is to, ultimately, on some level, improve your quality of life.

So if you invest in vehicles or assets that cause you heartburn and anxiety, to the extent that you have trouble sleeping, even if they have a really high IRR or whatever, it is a bad investment from the standpoint of quality of life if it’s creating a lot of additional stress. So I have no trouble sleeping when my money is in cash, even though it’s getting slowly eaten by inflation like termites. So in an ideal world, I would be able to wait until everyone thinks that we’re going to Mad Max and then dump money into the market, much like Howard Marks did in the last, say, 15 weeks or so of 2008. He’s putting in $500 million a week into distressed debt. Where am I going wrong here? And how should I think about this? Or how would you add to that? I know that’s a ton that I just threw at you, but if you could do your best.

Peter Mallouk: Well, I would say that I would start with I would agree completely that nothing is worth losing sleep. Money is just something that enables us to do other things that, presumably, we want to be happy. So there’s no sense in being miserable investing it, so we can supposedly do something else. So I’m not a believer that, if somebody comes in and they have enough money where they could be independent for the rest of their lives living off bond income, and they tell me, “Peter, I’m 70, and you’re not going to be able to make me comfortable, and I’m going to lose sleep if my portfolio goes down five percent,” I’m not going to talk that person into stocks or real estate or alternative investments. They should be in bonds because they have all they need. They’re not telling me their goal is to have the biggest pile of money ever or to be like the greatest steward of their money ever for the next generation.

They’re telling me: “I want to be happy with what I have. I don’t need to hit even a double, let alone a home run. And I want to sleep at night.” Sleeping at night trumps everything. You have to absolutely be comfortable with what you’re doing. Now you’re so young that I would work on somebody like you and say, “Let’s wait a second because we’ve got a couple of choices here.” One is that you get comfortable with investing, which means you’re going to get more educated about how public markets work so we can make you more comfortable so you could have more certainty about it so you can be a long-term investor because you are going to be invested for many, many, many decades. And it’s extremely likely that’s really going to work out for you. And you only have two other choices. One is to own cash, which is a complete disaster.

That should not really even be an option. And the third is to add tremendous complexity to your life. So you say, “I’m going to buy all of these different properties and all of these different art things,” and you’re going to wake up one day and you’re going to own a whole bunch of all of this crap that’s going to be on your net worth statement. And I can tell you the cycles. And I’ve learned this from my clients. And I’ve changed my behavior because of it. As people start to accumulate wealth, people come to them with deals, and they get excited that these deals are coming to me. One Indian client translated an Indian saying to me. He said that his dad had told him the saying, “Money pulls money.” And he didn’t know what it meant until he had money. And then, all of a sudden, people were coming to him with deals that seemed great.

And it became easier and easier to make money. I’m sure that’s the case for you. And so you wind up doing all of these deals, and you find yourself in real estate and venture capital and private deals. And you’re growing, growing, growing. And then, a friend dies. And then, another friend dies. And then you go, “Oh, my God, look at what the survivors are dealing with here; what a mess this is.” And you start to unwind all of these things. So you spend the first 20 years of being rich accumulating all of this stuff. And then you’ll spend the next 20 years, if you’re like at least the clients I’ve observed, trying to get out of one thing after another to simplify your life. And somewhere along the way, you’ll wind up with 20 different tax forms and all of this stuff that you don’t have to do because you chose not to get educated. And I think that – let’s just use one education form.

Obviously, you highlighted it, it’s timing the market. I know Howard Marks said that, Warren Buffett said that. That’s a very obvious thing. You don’t expect that you’re going to go to the store and pay less for a Coke or less for a candy bar 30 years from now than today. You probably think the candy bar is going to cost triple. But somehow, you have this fear that the stock is not going to triple. And of course, those two go together. Part of the stock market returns the dividend. Part of it’s earnings, and part is just inflation. So we know we’re going to go to McDonald’s 30 years from now and the Happy Meal is going to cost more. And the Value Meal is going to cost more. But we’re scared to own the diversified stock portfolio. And if you’re diversified, we should feel very comfortable.

So you’re in Austin, it’s a great restaurant town, but the world moves quickly. Back in the ’70s or ‘80s, if a restaurant opened, and it wasn’t very good, someone would go, “Oh, this restaurant might close in a few years.” If you go to a restaurant now, and it’s not very good, you wouldn’t be surprised if it was closed in six months. The world just moves really fast now. And if I said, “Hey, Tim, I want you to pick five restaurants in town that you think are amazing,” and you had to put all of your money in them, and that they’re going to be here 30 years from now, you might think twice. It doesn’t matter what the restaurant is. You’ve got to –

Tim Ferriss: I would definitely think twice, especially with restaurants.

Peter Mallouk: Well, you would be like, no matter how good the restaurant is, 30 years from now, things will have probably changed. But if I were to say, “Look, you can own the restaurant index, so we’re no longer betting on which five restaurants are going to be here 30 years from now, where you could lose your money; we’re just betting that there are going to be restaurants here, and they’re going to be charging more and making more than they do today,” you’d be much more comfortable with that. And that’s very much like diversified stock market investing. And so the more you can learn about that, and when you’re going to need the money, and hey, if you’re in the stock marketing, and it’s down, probably those private investments you have that aren’t repricing every day, many of those are down as well, you can start to build at least some portfolio that you could start to get educated on.

You go through your first correction. You go through your first fair market. And then, if you’re young, and you really smart, and you can really tell the very smart investors. They like down markets because, if you’re accumulating, you don’t want the market to go up. You want the market to be up later, when you need to take money out. But if you’re accumulating, you would like it to be down. You want to be buying everything when it’s on a discount. So my clients that are sophisticated that are accumulating now, they love this down trend. They feel like they’re buying more and more on sale. Or clients that have a lot of bond exposure, and they can sell some of their bonds and buy stocks, they love that down market because they see it for what it is, which is an opportunity.

Tim Ferriss: Quick question there. Do you know any people you think are really smart who do not dollar cost average in on the way down, in that camp, but who instead sit on the sidelines waiting for some indicators that that is not a bottom? I’m not saying they predict the absolute bottom or the relative bottom during that period of time, but do you know anyone you consider smart who does not sort of dollar cost average in on the way down, as a way to, I think you put it, in the acquisition phase?

Peter Mallouk: Now I think it’s a loser’s game. I heard John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard and indexing, say that his entire life, he never found somebody that was able to do that effectively. He’s never found the guy who sold when it was high and then bought when it was low. I’ve been at this now 20 years. We have over 30,000 clients, many of them have self-directed accounts. I can tell you I’ve never seen it done. I’ve never seen somebody go the market is high now and sell, and then feel comfortable buying when it’s low. I’ve seen people who are invested, and they stay invested. And then they are more aggressive about adding to the portfolio when it’s down. I consider that a much smarter approach. But the guy who goes today, “Oh, things are uneasy; I’m going to go to the sidelines.” If the market gets cut in half, that guy usually doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to go in.

There are all of these other reasons that things are horrible. And now that narrative that caused them to exit in the first place is reinforced. So they have even more reason to stay on the sideline. And they usually don’t get back in in time. You had asked a question earlier about “Well, why don’t I wait for that one in four years for that pullback?” And we can use the last 10 years as an example. The market can go from Dow 7,000 to 26,000 like it did without having a bear market anywhere in the middle of it for you to invest in. So this year, if the year ended today on the 21st of December, in 2018, the market would be down. But it’s nowhere near where it was nine years ago. If you had gone to the sidelines in ’09 and said, “I’m going to accumulate cash until the market pulls back again,” you would have waited 10 years for the next real big opportunity.

So now the market is pulled back, but not back to where it was. And I think this is the risk that people that are trying to time don’t understand, which is: the risk of being out of the market is greater than the risk of being in. So let’s say you have $1 million, and you go into the market today. One of three things can happen. The market can go up. We’re high fiving. We’re having a great time. We’re all happy. The market can go sideways. And you’re going to earn a couple percent. That’s not the end of the world. We’re getting our dividends, right? Or the market can go down. The worst thing there is you collect dividends, and then the market comes back. So we’ve had dozens of bear markets, many, many, many more corrections that happen on average, once a year, where the market drops. Usually, on average, about 13.5 percent or so. They’ve all ended the same way.

The market eventually recovers. So you collect your dividend, and you wait. That’s your worst case scenario as an investor. If, instead, you’re in cash, well, if the market goes down, we’re not getting the dividend, and you’re probably going to want to stay in cash. If the market goes sideways, we’re not collecting the dividend. And if the market goes up, we may suffer permanent loss of opportunity. So if the Dow goes from 22,000 to 30,000, the market may never pull back to that 22,000. It may never come back to that level, that entry point, that you had been afforded the opportunity today. When you’re on the sideline, you are risking the market getting away from you. When you’re in, it can’t get away from you.

It can temporarily downtrend with you along with it, but you can’t miss that opportunity, which is why anybody that is looking at the odds of investing, they’re going to be invested sooner rather than later.

Tim Ferriss: Gotcha. And when you say the word diversify or diversification has come up a number of times so far, am I accurate in saying that you have a diversified public portfolio to maintain or incrementally increase net worth while searching for alpha primarily through alternative investments? Is that the general approach? And then I have a question about what diversification means. But is that a fair synopsis of generally what you are advocating with your clients?

Peter Mallouk: Yeah. What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to perform better than they would on their own or with somebody else by being extremely disciplined, placing tax trades, being aggressive buyers, owning asset classes that match up with their needs. And diversification, to me, means you try to reduce dramatically company risk and industry risk. When you’re an investor in the stock market, let’s just start with that, you’ve got three big risks. One is company risk. So you buy a stock, and it turns out to be Enron or WorldCom or Lehman Brothers or Polaroid or whatever, it just goes to zero. That’s company risk. There’s industry risk. If you are in the mortgage backed securities market in ’08, or if you were part of the internet craze of the internet bubble, industries go away sometimes and never recover.

And then there’s market risk. If you’re very diversified, you’re across a bunch of companies, a bunch of industries, if there’s a Lehman Brothers in there, if there’s an industry in there not doing well, you’re going to survive. And the market risk, it’s a temporary risk. The market will go down, and then it should come back up. And we can diversify the market risk further by owning other markets like real estate and bonds. And then we can get extremely diversified by going into the alternative investment space. And that would be an investment approach. You said something a little earlier that people have different purposes. Some people are trying to hit a home run, and some people are trying to invest. I would say investing is what I just described, in the markets. You have to approach investing saying, “This is not going to do as well as my day job.”

So when I’m sitting with a business owner, or whether the guy owns a restaurant, or the gal owns a consulting firm, I tell them, “Look, you’re making 30 percent on your money with your job or more. You are not going to make that in the market. Don’t come to me if you think that’s what’s going to happen. That’s just not what happens when you invest this way for the long run.” Now you can make a business out of investing in these markets. So you could, for example, be a real estate developer. And yeah, you’re going to do much better than just somebody who is buying a diversified real estate portfolio. But now, you’re in this full time. Same thing with Ray Dalio on the stock side, if you want to buy into the idea that maybe he can win over time, it would be because it’s a full time job that might use a different approach than a typical disciplined investor would use.

So I think you have to come into a portfolio like someone like you is going, “I’ve got my day job. I’m doing all of these things and taking all of these risks and using my time to make a lot of money. And I’m going to invest in way where I’ll do better than cash, but I’ll never make what I’m making with my time and effort and name and everything else. But I’m going to do better than cash. I’m going to do better than bonds by having a disciplined, diversified approach.”

Tim Ferriss: And does diversified, in this case – because people often think diversified means buying a lot of stuff. But if you buy a lot of stuff, and to anyone who is a professional out there, obviously, I’m mostly talking out my ass right now, but if everything is correlated, even though they are different words or different asset classes, then, you may not be truly diversified. So if you look at David Swensen or some of these other guys, they might talk about US stocks, international stocks, emerging market, REITs, long-term US treasuries, and tips or something like that, or Dalio 15 uncorrelated bets, something like that. What does diversified mean to you? What are the characteristics of a diversified portfolio? And is it possible to overdiversify where you’re just spraying and praying, in a sense?

Peter Mallouk: Yeah. I think diversification is misunderstood. Sometimes, people think, like you mentioned at the very top of the podcast, “Hey, I’m going to hire four money managers, and that will be more diversified than one.” That’s not necessarily the case. Maybe all four money managers are trading US stocks. You’d have been better off with one wealth manager who owns four different asset classes. So sometimes, diversifying money managers doesn’t do it. You might buy five duplexes in Nashville on the same block. Well, you’re not that diversified. You have the risk of the neighborhood and of the city and of the state. I’d rather own five different properties in five different states to get a little bit more diversified. Certain asset classes are correlated. Real estate is about 85 percent correlated to stocks.

And the US markets is 80 percent to 90 percent correlated to international markets. And bonds have a little bit of correlation. So you want to add things that don’t necessarily – you want to remove the concentrated risk. You don’t want to own the five duplexes on one street. You don’t want to have five money managers doing one thing. You don’t want to have five stocks and hope one is not a Lehman Brothers or one or two industries that have a hundred stocks. If you own 100 stocks, and they’re all biotech, you’re not really diversified. You want to own asset classes that behave a little bit different, in some cases, like US and international and that behave a lot different over periods of time like bonds relative to those things or maybe art would or life settlements would or music royalties would.

To the extent you could have those uncorrelated assets, it dampens the ride, which makes it more likely you’re going to get where you want to go. And most importantly, it avoids the number one thing everybody worries about, which is blowing everything up. And you don’t want to do everything right for 30 years, but then the stock or the industry or the real estate market you were in, something unforeseen happened, and all of a sudden nothing works for you. You are eliminating the chance of the grand slam when you do this. But you are almost eliminating a chance of the strike out, which is a very important thing for an investor.

Tim Ferriss: So let’s run a hypothetical, if you don’t mind. And this is going to, again, probably make half of the people listening just facepalm as I say this. But let’s just pretend – well, let’s not pretend. It’s real. So let’s say that I am seeing things in the private markets, which give me pause and make me think that there’s a possibility that the winter is coming, so to speak, as it relates to public equities specifically. If I think that there’s a decent chance of a fairly major extended correction in say the next two years, if that’s my assumption, whether you agree with it or not, how would that inform my decision making about deploying cash? How would you think about it, if that is something I take to be likely true?

Peter Mallouk: There’s a saying a famous economist said that the market could stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.

Tim Ferriss: Yes, agreed.

Peter Mallouk: In other words, it’s just very hard. What you’re touching on, I think, that’s interesting is returns in the market over the next year or two are not really dependent on valuations. And that really surprises people. So something can be overvalued but then not come down in price. Instead, the earnings grow into it. You can own a real estate property and maybe it seems overvalued. But instead of the prices coming down, the price holds. And over time, the rents come up. So not necessarily does the price of the property have to come down. It’s the same with the stock market. But if I take your premise that you have a high degree of certainty that the market is going to pull back 18 months from now, of course, I would say we’ll just wait for it to pull back and then, go in. I’ve just never met the person that can do that.

Or no matter how smart they are – and look, we’re sitting with some of the wealthiest people in America, and I’m sitting with some of the most sophisticated money managers in America, too, and I just don’t live in a world where the person can predict that. I listened to your podcast with Howard Marks. And he said, “We’re invested, but we’re cautious.” Well, that guy is a genius, but he’s invested. You’re either in or you’re out. And so I think that we’re all always looking to the future and wondering what’s going to happen. But you look at the most successful investors like Warren Buffett, they’re engaged all of the time. That’s how they got where they are.

Tim Ferriss: I think it’s important to note though that, also, there are different economics at play and different incentives involved, in some instances, when you’re using institutional money or playing with a two and 20, meaning you have management fees and assets under management are a component of your business versus playing with your personal capital, right? I know a lot of venture capitalists who invest with one very distinct style or approach in their venture deals but treat their personal finances very, very differently. Right?

Peter Mallouk: There’s no question. A lot of the venture capital and private equity people I know, they’re invested almost entirely in bonds because they feel like they’re in an extremely high risk game day in and day out, with their side of things. And if you look at Swensen, and you’re investing Yale’s money, you’re investing for decades. You’re not really investing for five or six years from now. But I would say is the average American investor, whether they’ve got $100,000 or $2 million, they are investing for decades. And they should be thinking that way. Even the person who is retiring tomorrow who is 65 is investing for decades. And so if we have an expectation that stocks are going to earn six to nine percent or maybe 10 percent over the next 20 years, and real estate is going to earn five to eight, and bonds are going to earn three to five or whatever it is, that person that’s 65 can’t say, “I need this money now; I need to be conservative.”

They need the money for the next 25 years. And we need money that’s available to them over the next five. And we need money that’s going to be available to them 20 years from now. And so I do think that diversified multiple asset class leaning on a publicly traded portfolio that really should be the core for the typical investor. And I think when you start to leave that, you are taking extra risks. When you go to these alternative investments, whether it’s private equity, private lending, private real estate, we’re now giving custody of our money to somebody else, we don’t have total transparency. We can’t exit whenever we want; we’re much more susceptible to fraud. It’s just there’s a lot more unknowns in that space. And so if you’re very wealthy, you’re going for better returns.

You don’t like to see the public markets all of the time. There’s a case to be made for them, but I don’t think exclusively. Not even for the typical – I think, for the typical American, a diversified portfolio is still the core building block.

Tim Ferriss: Let’s talk about information for a second and just resources because I’ve read Unshakeable, of course, which I greatly enjoyed. Money Master of the Game, I have two episodes with Tony about that, which I quite enjoyed as well. I know you’ve written books. I mean, The Five Mistakes Every Investor Makes and How to Avoid Them. Besides those books, and we’re going to come back to that title I just mentioned in a few minutes, but what books or investors who have writing, who have something accessible to the people listening, have you found particularly valuable or thought provoking? Are there any particular books or annual letters or anything that comes to mind?

Peter Mallouk: Well, I think a book that I read when I was very young that I thought really kind of explained the investing world in plain English, and it was pretty short, was Common Sense on Mutual Funds by John Bogle. And it kind of goes back, and it compares all of these things we talked about: the benefits of timing versus not timing the market, and the stock picking versus not stock picking, and how to choose an allocation, and it was just so straightforward. I really think that’s a great read for somebody just trying to understand the basics. And so I always tend to recommend that as one of my recommendations to people when they’re looking for a book to really explain things in English.

Tim Ferriss: What about particular investors? Are there any particular investors who come to mind whose thinking you really admire? Aside from Buffett and Munger because they’re always on the list, or they seem to be, are there any other, they could be lesser known names, they don’t have to be, who come to mind who you find particularly insightful or thought provoking?

Peter Mallouk: Well, I think this might be too much in the box, given that what you laid out, but he was the mentor to some of the people you mentioned. Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor is a phenomenal book as well. And I really enjoy that one and would recommend that to your listeners as well.

Tim Ferriss: Got it. What is the best or most worthwhile investment you’ve ever made? And this is one of my fairly common questions, I suppose. But not necessarily capital, but it could be, but time, money, energy, something that really had a high return on investment, in your life? Does anything come to mind?

Peter Mallouk: Yeah. So when I was in college, I was in Lawrence, which is a great music town, and I really got into music. And I invested I can’t remember if it was $10,000 or $12,000 and decided I was going to set up a store that bought and sold CDs and cassette tapes. I’m kind of dating myself a little bit here. And I had a couple of partners. And we opened the store. And it did really well. We took our money, and we opened another store. It did really well. And we kept doing this. And we got to eight or nine stores. Then I bought out one partner. And then I bought out the other. And at that point, I had been in this gig for five or six years. And I thought, “Well, I’ve bought out everybody. I’m going to take my first paycheck.”

And I took my first paycheck out. It was $8,400. And then, a month later, Napster came out. And within six months, almost every location was closed, and all of the CDs had been donated to a charity. And that was the best education I had. I did a lot, when I was in college. I got a law degree, a master’s in business, some undergrad degrees. That was the best investment and the best education I ever got, in my life, still to this day was the total loss of all of that time and all of that money. But what I really learned was a real world example of supply and demand and how quick you can grow and how there’s a window of opportunity that every business dies. Every business dies. I know that Bezos of Amazon says that all of the time. Every business – Sears, one of the greatest businesses of all time, lasted a century.

That’s almost unheard of. The S&P 500 is changing all of the time now because companies just rise and fall much quicker than they ever have. I learned that firsthand. And I also learned how quickly technology can change everything. I thought I was competing against the music store across the street and the music store in the mall. And I was competing against something I didn’t even know existed that was going to come in and destroy everything. Walmart thought it was competing with Target. It’s competing with Amazon. And so that was really, to me, a lesson in how quick you can grow something, how the economy works, how quick you can be replaced. And it really illustrated, for me, how big money can be made with concentrated risk, and total loss can happen from concentrated risk.

So that takes the cake for me. I’ll never have an investment that good. I attribute a lot of my success and paranoia of when I run Creative Planning, and I’m looking at the landscape and going, “What are the threats?” I’m looking at it with as wide a lens as can possibly be. I don’t think, for a second, that any business is invincible. And that forever will be the greatest investment I ever made.

Tim Ferriss: That’s a great story. Yeah. What you were competing against is something you don’t even know exists. How often is that true? At least it’s certainly something that you see a lot in tech and Silicon Valley. The biggest threat is not what you’ve identified as the biggest threat, in many instances.

Peter Mallouk: Right.

Tim Ferriss: So coming back to your book, The Five Mistakes Every Investor Makes and How to Avoid Them, which was published by Wiley in 2014. In an interview that I read, doing homework for this conversation, the question from the interviewer – and this is from ThinkAdvisor – was: “What’s the biggest mistake?” And feel free to fact check this and correct, if I’m misquoting. But the answer as I have it here is, “People don’t enjoy their money, especially the ultra-affluent obsessive client who has millions of dollars. They’ve spent a lot time doing the right things – saving and making good decisions and being focused on growing, growing, growing. But when they get to retirement, they can’t turn off those traits that made them successful. They keep doing the things they always did – being thrifty, and maybe a little stingy. So they don’t spend their money for enjoyment. And then they die.”

This is now me talking. From what I can tell, really, really, really common not just with ultra-affluent types, but with a lot of people across the board. They save, they save, they save, but they kind of mistake the means for the end, in some capacity, or they can’t downshift, like you mentioned.

Peter Mallouk: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: And they kind of lose track of why they were amassing or building this wealth, in the first place. So what do you tell these clients who can’t turn it off, the people who keep doing things the way they always did, the people who don’t spend their money for enjoyment? What is their homework that you give them? What is the conversation that you have?

Peter Mallouk: I tell them true stories that are both personal and about existing clients. And I’m going to share one that was personal and one existing client. I had a client, he retired fairly young at 63 – it at least seems young. And he would come in for years and talk about how he wanted a garden, and that was his dream, and all of that. But he never would spend any of his money, never would go on vacations, never do anything like that. And the very first day of retirement, he died. And I think every advisor that has a bunch of clients has a story like this. And his wife came, and she was just so upset that he had passed, but she had found his to do list. And he didn’t call it a bucket list, but it was his bucket list. And he’d only done like one or two things on that list. There were all of these things that they could have done together that he never got to experience.

And he robbed her of that, too. That issue that he had of “I’ve got to save, I’ve got to save, I’ve got to save. I can’t enjoy it along the way.” He robbed her of that. I got really in tune with this at a young age because my dad vacations all of the time. He’s a physician, but he takes a lot of breaks, and I learned that from him. And he had mentioned to me there’s a famous person in Kansas City, where I’m based. He had been the mayor. And there’s a lot of stuff here named after him. And he was a patient of my dad’s. And one day, he got diagnosed, and he was very ill, and he was going to die. And my dad was just in his 20s at the time. And he told my dad to “Sit down; I’ve got a lesson for you.” And my dad sat down.

And he just said, “I’ve got this named after me and that road named after me. And that building is named after me. And I’ve accumulated all of this money. But I never really got to enjoy it. I never really got to enjoy my family.” And that’s very cliché. But my dad took that, and he said, “I am not going to be this guy.” And I looked at some of my clients that have made that mistake, and I tell myself the same thing. We also do estate planning here. We prepare wills and trusts and so on. So we’re very unique. Last week, one of my favorite clients passed, and his kids came in. And so I get to see the kids because I’m also an estate attorney, and there are a lot of estate attorneys here. And so we’re here for them. We already know them. And we get to see that next generation. But what I also see is the person that couldn’t let go.

There are people that spend everything they have. And there’s people that can’t let go of anything. And then there’s a very tiny group in the middle that is saving what they’re supposed to and spending what they need to spend to enjoy. That’s a very small group. But these people that are saving all of the time, they’re in the minority. They might be my client, and I might be seeing them all of the time, but they’re in the minority. And they’re not going on that cruise ship. They don’t get the balcony. And when they’re flying on a plane, they don’t get the business class. And they don’t get the tall thing at Starbucks because “Why would somebody pay $6 for that?” That’s just not in their DNA. That’s part of how they got where they are, and then they die. And then their kids come in, and they’ve got the Starbucks in their hand.

And I’ve had people show up in brand new cars, BMW or whatever. Their parents are barely in the grave. And the kids are spending the money. And so I try to get them to visualize: “What do you actually think is going to happen when you pass? If you have $3 million, and you’ve got two kids, what do you think is going to happen to that $3 million? What do you think they’re going to do? Think about their spouses. Think about their kids. And think of how they live. And what are they going to do?” They’re like, “Oh, they’re going to buy a house, and they’re going to do this.” I go, “Exactly.” And they start to think about their money a little bit differently because, if you’ve got $3 million, and you really enjoy yourself out of your mind, you might die with $2 million. Well your kids aren’t going to notice the difference.

And if you have $300,000, and you die with $200,000 instead of $300,000, the kids aren’t going to notice the difference. It’s the perspective of visualizing what is actually going to happen, if you don’t enjoy this a little bit yourself. And then, they’ll give you excuses. And the two big excuses are, “I want to save it for my kids,” or “I want to save it for charities.” And I always tell them: “Give it to your kids now – give some of it to them now – so you can enjoy it, so you can alleviate. They’re going through the most stressful time of their life trying to pay for college, or trying to save for retirement. Why don’t you give them some money now when they can really use it instead of you dying at 80, and they’re 60, and they don’t have those problems anymore? And if you want to give to charity, it’s better to give with a warm hand than a cold one. Give while you can enjoy it, while you can see what you’re doing with it, while you can make sure the charity is doing what you want.”

So I spend a lot of time talking to this with our clients because I just think it’s a shame. You see these people, these tend to be very disciplined people. As you said, they just can’t shift gears. And I think that one of the best things we can do for them is remind them why they have the money in the first place, and to make sure that they can enjoy it. And it goes back to what you were saying about fear and the markets. If people are scared, that’s a big reason they’ll retain the money. We need to be able to reassure them with very simple projections of how good of shape they’re in.

And no matter if the market pulled back 50 percent, here’s what would still happen, so they can feel okay. They can have that permission to enjoy their money.

Tim Ferriss: Thank you for that. What books, aside from those we’ve mentioned already, do you give the most to other people, or have you gifted the most to other people, if any come to mind? They don’t have to be related to investing, but they could be.

Peter Mallouk: I think probably the book I’ve gifted the most is Awareness by Anthony de Mello. He was a Jesuit priest, but he was in India, so he has kind of this confluence of different religions from Hindu to Buddhism to Christianity influencing him. But what the book, basically, I’m sure I’m screwing this up, and if he were alive, he’d say I’m explaining it wrong. But to me, what it basically said was no matter how good you think things are, they’re not that good. No matter how bad you think things are, they’re not that bad. But almost everything you’re experiencing with other people is about the other people. It has very little to do with you. People don’t think about you as much as you think they do. And it’s just a book that gives you a lot of perspective about yourself and the world.

And, I think, if you read it at the right time of your life, for me, it brought a lot of peace. I’ve read the book a few times. So I love that book. I also like, and I give to our employees here, the book How Full is Your Bucket, which is like it might take 15 minutes to read. And I don’t know if you’ve read it, but basically the premise is every encounter you have, someone feels better, or they feel worse. And what kind of person are you? Are you bringing positive energy into a room? Are you the kind of person that is lifting people up around you or taking them down, even if it’s in the most subtle ways? And it just kind of forces some perspective. There’s even a children’s version that I got my kids. I absolutely love that book. And then, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran is one of my favorite books.

Someone gifted that to me when I was young, and it’s a short read and covers a lot of topics as well.

Tim Ferriss: It’s a fantastic book. I would recommend people get the edition with the illustrations by the author also, if you get The Prophet.

Peter Mallouk: Agreed, yeah.

Tim Ferriss: I think we’re sort of getting to the tail end of this round one conversation between you and I. But we could go in any number of directions before we close out. I thought one might be to highlight any particular bad advice that you hear or see being given out often, in your world. If there are any particular red flags or types of bad advice or tricks that you would advise people to be aware of or make people aware of.

Peter Mallouk: I think that our industry, the framework for the delivery of advice is often corrupted. And so I think the good thing is, when you’re educated, you can spot it really easily. But if you look at the industry, it’s unique in that, in the United States, most advisors don’t have to act in their clients’ best interest. That’s fairly unique to the United States. In Australia, they have to act in the clients’ best interests. In the United Kingdom, they have to act in their clients’ best interests. It’s also unique to financial advisors. If you go to a doctor in the US, or a lawyer or CPA, they have a fiduciary obligation to act in your best interest. But about 90 percent of advisors, in the United States, do not have a fiduciary obligation to their clients. They’re operating under a lower standard of the law called the Suitability Standard.

A kind of “Buyer beware, this is America, everyone fend for yourself,” which would be fine, except the general public doesn’t know that. They’re assuming, when they go to a financial advisor, that the financial advisor is acting in their best interests all of the time and is legally obligated to do so. I’ve never read the law about how my doctor or lawyer or CPA has to treat me. I’m just assuming that they have to act in my best interests. And that’s just not the case with financial advice. So I think one thing your listeners could watch for is MyAdvisor, an independent advisor. They would be working for what’s called an RIA, registered independent advisor, or are they a broker, meaning they work for a brokerage house that makes money a lot of different ways on investments? They might make money on a commission.

They might own their own products and so on. I think that’s one way to kind of quickly figure out – that doesn’t mean brokers are bad. There are a lot of brokers doing the right thing every day for their clients. It’s just all things being equal, you would always want somebody who has to act in your best interests all of the time, who has to do for you what they would do for themselves. I think that’s one big thing to know about the profession. I think the other thing to look out for is: does the advisor get paid different ways on different investments? So if I’m sitting with somebody, and they make more money if I buy a private equity fund than a stock fund, well, don’t be surprised if you wind up being sold the private equity fund. We all know that compensation drives behavior. So you don’t want somebody who is going to get paid more if you buy one product over another.

That’s very common in a brokerage house. But it can even be something that happens in the independent world. And then you definitely don’t want to be working with an advisor that has their own products to sell where they might have their own mutual funds. They might have different names. That’s kind of a trick of the trade where you might have a brokerage house with one name, and then their products are called another name. So it’s a little confusing to the client. But if somebody can avoid those things, somebody who gets somebody who has to act in your best interest, that gets paid on your investments the same no matter what and doesn’t own their own products, you are going to avoid a lot of the things that are going to result in you not getting the best types of investment vehicles. And then it becomes all about competence.

And, I think, if you want to kind of screen for competence, I would do it the way you look for a doctor. If you’re going to get knee surgery, you want a new surgeon that does knee surgery all of the time that’s at one of the best hospitals and has had a lot of thousands and thousands of people go to them. You don’t want somebody that’s dealing with just a few people and does knee surgery every now and then, and by the way does 17 other things and is in a tiny hospital. I think, to the extent you can screen for some level of competence in scale, that’s helpful as well.

Tim Ferriss: Gotcha. Thank you. How do you and Creative Planning make money?

Peter Mallouk: We make money by charging a fee to our clients for managing their investments. So if someone comes in and says, “I want you to manage $1 million for us,” we tell them the percentage that that’s going to cost, and it includes managing their money and providing them with a financial plan as part of that. And we also would give them all the financial advice they need throughout the year. We would meet with them in person. And we would not make a different amount of money no matter what investment they went into. So whether it’s appropriate for them to be in Investment A, B, C, alternative or publicly traded, the compensation stays neutral. And we hold our clients’ money at third parties so they don’t have to worry about the custody issue or the Bernie Madoff issue.

And then there’s no commitment from the client. If anywhere along the way they feel like, “Oh, I want to go back to doing it myself,” they’ve got an open door to be able to do that.

Tim Ferriss: Thank you.

Peter Mallouk: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Let’s ask just a few more questions, and then we can close up for this conversation. So the first is: How old are you now, if you don’t mind me asking?

Peter Mallouk: 48.

Tim Ferriss: What advice would you give to your 30-year-old self? And if you could place us where you are at 30, what you’re doing, or roughly 30 that would be helpful.

Peter Mallouk: I think at around 30, I was starting to have some success. And I’m a people pleaser by nature, and I was starting to get asked to be on boards by clients. And I just accept all of these invitations. I found myself on all of these boards. And I was saying yes to all kinds of things, assistant coach this, and be on this charity, and so on. And I wound up being terrible at all of it. And I learned this later, and I wish I had learned it at age 30 that a yes to something is a no to something else. Once you are saying yes to something, you’re saying no to something else. And so it didn’t take me too long to get a sense of priority. But when I got it, it became crystal clear to me what my priorities in life were.

And it made it much easier, the things I was going to say yes to. If I had a time machine, I would tell myself that at age 30, a little bit earlier.

Tim Ferriss: How do you help clients find clarity on what to hone in on, if they’re looking for it, if you have clients who are running into the same issues, perhaps? I would imagine, on one hand, you are managing wealth. But, on the other hand, you’re managing lives. And if we’re looking at that holistically, you’re probably going to be dealing with many facets of someone’s commitments, financial or otherwise. So what tactical advice would you give them, if someone is feeling pulled in 1,000 directions or saying yes to too many things?

Peter Mallouk: I think one of the advantages that they would have is we are their no often. So I know a lot of them have a hard time saying yes or no to people that are asking for money. And because, let’s face it, somebody is asking for $50,000 or $100,000 from some of our clients, that’s not a big deal to that client. But the client doesn’t want to wind up doing a whole bunch of different things and wind up with a bunch of tax forms and be all over the place. And so we do two things. First, we develop rules. So you try to develop criteria so that, instead of every deal that comes to you, you’re evaluating the deal, you’re starting by saying what types of deals am I willing to look at. So you’re setting criteria on day one.

Or if you’re being asked to do a lot of charitable giving, instead of evaluating every charity that comes to you, let’s set criteria of the types of charities you’re willing to support. Maybe it’s only in a certain geographic area. Maybe it only involves children. Maybe it’s things that a certain percentage goes back into the community versus overhead. If you set those rules, it becomes easier to say no to those private investments or to those charitable donations. And then, second, you can always use a third party as a screen. You could always use your advisor or somebody that works in your office. This person’s job is to evaluate these things against the principles that we have. We have some clients that have gone so far as to, if they’re bigger, they even will create a webpage that would say this is how the grant giving works.

And so it creates a little bit of work up front for the person asking for the charity, which eliminates a lot of stuff. They’ve got to fill out an application and explain why and where things are going. And then they might self-eliminate by seeing that they don’t meet the rules as well. And then, third, they realize it’s not just “I’m calling Susan to see if Susan will give me the money.” There’s a procedure, and it’s not so personal if Susan then comes back and says no.

Tim Ferriss: That makes sense. What would you put on a billboard, metaphorically speaking, to get a message out to millions or billions of people, can’t be commercial, but a word, a quote, a question, anything at all? Is there anything that comes to mind that you would put on a billboard?

Peter Mallouk: I would put “Is it worth it?” on the billboard. I would just say “Is it worth it?” And I’d put that billboard right down my street, so when I was getting in the car or wherever I was going, it would remind me: “Is what I’m doing right now what I should be doing? If my priorities are family and friends, and work is in there and things like that, is what I’m doing, is it worth it? Does it fit into what I’m doing?” And I think so many of us, we just wind up getting sucked into all of these things. And I hate to be the person that quotes Socrates, but I am a big fan of his. And he said: “Beware the bareness of a busy life.” We find ourselves just doing all of these different things. And if you really stop and look at your week, and you saw everything that you did, did it really align with what you want to be about?

And so I’m constantly trying to remind myself of that. I’m constantly looking at my calendar and asking, “Should these things be on my calendar?” It’s been said, “Don’t tell me what’s important to you; I’ll look in your wallet, and I’ll look at your calendar, and that’s all I need to do to know what’s important to you.” And so I think any reminder you can have of that ongoing, I think, is a positive thing.

Tim Ferriss: I agree. Yeah. Busyness – what a deceptively problematic characteristic that is to carry through your day to day.

Peter Mallouk: Absolutely. It carries over to investing. I think people create busyness with their investments. They get caught up in the news cycle. And it doesn’t matter if they watch – they can get all of the news they need probably in 15 minutes. They don’t need to watch three hours a day every day. But they create this busyness, and they create this anxiety, and they feed all of that tension that then creates action in the portfolio that should never happen because they should be, like you were talking about earlier, just leaving it alone and finding the discipline to do it. But they create this busyness that creates the anxiety to make the behavioral mistakes that cause the problems in the first place. So just like with life, I think with investing, you’ve really got to set your rules.

And you’ve got to have a plan. Mike Tyson, who I know, and I just think he’s an incredibly smart guy, and he’s got a famous saying where he said “Everyone has got a game plan until they get punched in the mouth.” And I think if you’ve got clarity and vision, and you know what you want to do, and you know what your priorities are with investing, you can stick with it when you get punched in the mouth as well. And so busyness and life, I think it’s the same thing with investing.

Tim Ferriss: Hear, hear. People can find Creative Planning at They can find you at Peter Where is the best place on social media to say hello or connect with you? And these will all be in the show notes, of course. But do you interact or pay attention to anything more than another or none of the above?

Peter Mallouk: Both myself and Creative Planning are on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. And I know Creative Planning is paying attention to all of them all of the time. I tend to be more engaged with LinkedIn and Twitter personally.

Tim Ferriss: Great. On Twitter at Peter Mallouk, on LinkedIn, also Peter Mallouk. And I’ll link to all of this in the show notes for people and to everything that we discussed in this conversation, all of the books and any other people or resources. So folks can find that at And just type in guest name Mallouk or Peter, and it will pop right up. Is there anything else, Peter, that you’d like to say, any parting comments, suggestions, requests, anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?

Peter Mallouk: I would give a parting comment that I think really would help people think about investing better. And I think, if we can be objective about where we are in history, we are living at the best time that anyone has ever lived. The world lived in abject poverty for thousands and thousands of years, until just a few centuries ago. And when I sit with physician clients, they’ll tell me there have been more advances with the brain and the heart in the last 10 or 20 years than all of history before. And I know you were very involved in the tech world, and they would tell you the same thing there. And we can go on and on. And if you look at what drives markets, we need consumers to buy things. We need the demographics. We have over a billion people coming out of poverty in the next 10 to 20 years all over the world, in India, in China, in Brazil, and all over the world.

So we’ve got those consumers coming. And they’re going to buy Nikes. And they’re going to go to McDonald’s. And they’re going to buy clothes. And they’re going to watch movies. We’ve got those consumers coming. And the other thing that drives markets is innovation and technology. And no rational person can look at the world today and think that we’re not doing those things now. And so if you look at the forces that support the markets over the next 10, 20, 30 years, those have never been better. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be setbacks and pullbacks. But if you can just, with all of the negativity we have coming at us from every direction, the reality is it’s never been better than this. And so I think that helps me just with life, in general, I need to remind myself.

But I think, as an investor, it helps you focus on the long run and maybe tune out whatever it is that’s got you panicking and keeping you from doing the right things for the way you should be investing to get where you need to go.

Tim Ferriss: Thank you so much, Peter, for taking the time. I really appreciate it. And I got lots of notes that I’ll be following up on, as well as grabbing a copy of Awareness. I’m all for anything that brings peace, especially in these fearmongering times that we live in. But I appreciate you taking the time for the conversation. So thank you again.

Peter Mallouk: I loved it. Thanks for having me, Tim.

Tim Ferriss: And to everybody listening, thank you for tuning in. And you can find the show notes at And until next time, have a plan, formulate a plan, whatever it might be. Whether it is finances, whether it is fat loss, anything else that might be on your to do list, especially if it has been on your to do list for a long period of time and has been punted from one day or one week or one month to the next and then, to the next. Formulate a plan. The resources are out there. Thanks very much, everybody. Talk to you next time.

No Comments / Leave a comment or question


Leave a comment

View this post on Instagram

Get cozy❄ Photo by @cabinscape

A post shared by cabin4ever (@cabin4ever7788) on

View this post on Instagram

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⚒ КАКОЙ ПРЕДМЕТ ВАМ НРАВИТСЯ/НЕ НРАВИТСЯ В ЭТОМ ИНТЕРЬЕРЕ?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 📐Alpa Tiny House is designed by @newfrontiertinyhomes and can be found in the United States⠀ •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••⠀⠀⠀ #woodburning #woodwork #woodart #woodsman #woodshop #woodsigns #woodcarving #спальня #диван #кресло #стол #стул #диваны #шкафкупе #корпуснаямебель #купитьмебель #кухни #кухня #кухняназаказ #архитектура #архитектор #архитекторы #гостиная #идеидлядома #визуализация #проектирование #перепланировка #строительныематериалы #строительнаякомпания #строительстводомов

A post shared by Ⓞ WOOD INTERIOR DESIGN IDEAS (@wood.interior) on

View this post on Instagram

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⚒ ЧТО ВАМ НРАВИТСЯ В ЭТОМ ДИЗАЙНЕ?⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ 📐 Interior Design Bathroom is designed and visualized by @atefeh.taakii⠀ •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••⠀ #домики #бук #столяр #сосна #лиственница #карагач #массивдуба #интерьерресторана #интерьеркафе #интерьерофиса #интерьеротеля #интерьерстудии #интерьерминск #дизайнинтерьера #дизайнбюро #дизайнеры #дизайны #дизайнквартиры #дизайн_интерьера #дизайндома #дизайнквартир #дизайнерымосквы #дизайнермосква #дизайнгостиной #дизайндетской #дизайнспальни #дизайнкухни #дизайнкоттеджа #дизайнстудия #дизайнкраснодар

A post shared by Ⓞ WOOD INTERIOR DESIGN IDEAS (@wood.interior) on

View this post on Instagram

Staying or leaving?

A post shared by Standard Reclaimed (@standardreclaimed) on

View this post on Instagram

Life in the round. #yurtlife #colorado #backcountry

A post shared by The Yurt Life (@theyurtlife) on

View this post on Instagram

Love it or dislike it? By @bennett_young

A post shared by Standard Reclaimed (@standardreclaimed) on

View this post on Instagram

First thought? By @tinyhousesdroomparken

A post shared by Standard Reclaimed (@standardreclaimed) on

View this post on Instagram

Wood you live here?

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

⠀⠀⠀ ⚒ ЧТО ВАМ НЕ НРАВИТСЯ В ЭТОМ ДИЗАЙНЕ? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ 📐By @pbcrosby ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #woodcraft #woodhouse #woodporn #woodisgood #woodcase #woodlove #woodlife #woodcut #woodworkforall #woodfloring #woodfloors #hardwoodfloors #woodfurniture #woodworker #dowoodworking #woodworkersofinstagram #finewoodworking #woodturning #customwoodworking #woodartwork #woodartist #woodenart #woodenfurniture #woodworkingshop #woodworkinglove #woodworkingproject #woodworkingforall #woodworkingporn #woodinterior #wooddesign

A post shared by Ⓞ WOOD INTERIOR DESIGN IDEAS (@wood.interior) on

View this post on Instagram

⠀⠀⠀ 💡ОЦЕНИТЕ ОТ 1 ДО 10⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ 📐 Design and Visualization by Denis Svirid ⠀⠀⠀ ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #compactliving #fineinteriors #cabin #tinyhomes #discoverearth #cabinlife #russianfolktales #interiors #interiordesign #architecture #decoration #interior #home #design #camper #tinyhouselife #houses #homes #interiordesign #bookofcabins #homedecor #decor #tinyhouse #cabinfever #inspiration #tinyhousemovement #treehouse #cottage #inthemountains #cabinvibes

A post shared by Ⓞ WOOD INTERIOR DESIGN IDEAS (@wood.interior) on

View this post on Instagram

⠀⠀⠀ ⚒ ДА ИЛИ НЕТ ? ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ 📐 By @bdorts ⠀ ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #ravenhouse #explorecanada #canada #1000islands #archilovers #instagood #airbnb #earthpix #wondermore #retreat #igerscanada #countryliving #theglobewanderer #exploretocreate #artofvisuals #airbnbcanada #wilderness #architecture #paradise #apartmenttherapy #wildernessculture #houseporn #beautifuldestinations #roamtheplanet #tinyhouse #tinyhome #mountainstones #architecturaldesign #beautifulhotels #interiordesign

A post shared by Ⓞ WOOD INTERIOR DESIGN IDEAS (@wood.interior) on

View this post on Instagram

Describe with 3 words!

A post shared by Standard Reclaimed (@standardreclaimed) on

View this post on Instagram

Wood this be your chill spot?

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

Is this your style? By @therollingvan

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

First thought? By @dorofey_brychov

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

Thoughts? By @wonderlustcollective

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

Thoughts on this room? By @ofisistanbul

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

Like it or love it? By @pbcrosby

A post shared by Standard Reclaimed (@standardreclaimed) on

View this post on Instagram

Like it or love it? @bdorts

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

5pm on a Wednesday and I’m sitting in the coffee shop. There’s people all around me, cars in the street… all sorts of things going on. A few weeks ago I had the opposite, I walked through the woods to the Coyotes Den. The warm glow invited me into an off the grid escape. Just myself and the wood stove, a favorite book and the very little remaining daylight. The next few days I’d spend living on my own terms, farm fresh food and thought among the evergreen trees. Waking and sleeping with the sun. Every time I start to get wrapped up in the day to day I start to remind myself that just outside of it is where life exists at its purest, and from there I return to it. . . . #ablicki #folk #folkmagazine #artofvisuals #sonyalpha #roamtheplanet #life #happiness #love #mountainman #bevisuallyinspired #photooftheday #wildernessculture #travel #rustic #hipster #visualsofearth #fashion #blog #yourshotphotographer #art #design #inspiration #photography #countryliving #freedom #lifestyle #mood #maine #cabin

A post shared by Max Ablicki (@ablicki) on

View this post on Instagram

Cabin or House? By @teagalle

A post shared by Standard Reclaimed (@standardreclaimed) on

View this post on Instagram

⠀⠀⠀ ⚒ ОЦЕНИТЕ ОТ 1 ДО 10⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ 📐All rights belong to their respective owners ⠀⠀⠀ ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #compactliving #fineinteriors #cabin #tinyhomes #discoverearth #cabinlife #russianfolktales #interiors #interiordesign #architecture #decoration #interior #home #design #camper #tinyhouselife #houses #homes #interiordesign #bookofcabins #homedecor #decor #tinyhouse #cabinfever #inspiration #tinyhousemovement #treehouse #cottage #inthemountains #cabinvibes

A post shared by Ⓞ WOOD INTERIOR DESIGN IDEAS (@wood.interior) on

View this post on Instagram

How was your weekend? By @dirtandglass

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

Like it or love it?

A post shared by Standard Reclaimed (@standardreclaimed) on

View this post on Instagram

Do you like bonfires?

A post shared by Standard Reclaimed (@standardreclaimed) on

View this post on Instagram

Vacation or Home?

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

Nap or no? By @the_wayward_blonde

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

Is this your style?

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

Could you live here? By @kylefinndempsey

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

Ready to travel! By @_the_road_explorer_

A post shared by Standard Reclaimed (@standardreclaimed) on

View this post on Instagram

Yay or nay?

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

How’s about this back yard?

A post shared by Standard Reclaimed (@standardreclaimed) on

View this post on Instagram

What would you call this house? By @kylefinndempsey

A post shared by Standard Reclaimed (@standardreclaimed) on

View this post on Instagram

Is this your dream spot? By @teppotirkkonen

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

How do you heat your home? By @dirtandglass

A post shared by Standard Reclaimed (@standardreclaimed) on

View this post on Instagram

⠀⠀⠀ ⚒ КАК ВАМ ИНТЕРЬЕР? ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ 📐All rights belong to their respective owners ⠀⠀⠀ •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••#ravenhouse #explorecanada #canada #1000islands #archilovers #instagood #airbnb #earthpix #wondermore #retreat #igerscanada #countryliving #theglobewanderer #exploretocreate #artofvisuals #airbnbcanada #wilderness #architecture #paradise #apartmenttherapy #wildernessculture #houseporn #beautifuldestinations #roamtheplanet #tinyhouse #tinyhome #mountainstones #architecturaldesign #beautifulhotels #interiordesign

A post shared by Ⓞ WOOD INTERIOR DESIGN IDEAS (@wood.interior) on

View this post on Instagram

Caption this! By @kylefinndempsey

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on

View this post on Instagram

Are you about that tiny house life?

A post shared by Wood Craft (@woodworkcraft) on