Timothy Ferriss is an American author, entrepreneur, self-proclaimed "human guinea pig", and public speaker. He has written a number of self-help books on the "4-hour" theme, some of which have appeared on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller lists, starting with The 4-Hour Workweek.
• John Scalzi (John Michael Scalzi II is an American science fiction author and former president of the Science ...)
• Christopher Voss (Christopher Voss is an American businessman, author, and professor. Voss is a former FBI hostage ...)
• Nick Antosca (Nick Antosca is an American author of literary fiction and screenwriter. He is the author of five...)» All American author Interviews
Hey reddit, Tim Ferriss here.
I am also the host of “The Tim Ferriss Show.” The podcast has been downloaded over 200,000,000 times and I’ve been fortunate enough to interview people including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, Edward Norton, Tony Robbins, Maria Popova, Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, Amanda Palmer, and a ton more.
My newest book is “Tribe of Mentors.” The book is the result of sending the same 11 questions to some of the most successful, wildly varied, and well-known people on the planet. People like Jimmy Fallon, Rick Rubin, Maria Sharapova, Ben Stiller, Greg Norman, Brené Brown, Dara Torres, and many more.
I asked the questions to seek guidance in my own life. I turned 40 this year, celebrated The 4-Hour Workweek’s 10th anniversary, and gave a vulnerable Ted Talk. As often happens at forks in the path—college graduation, quarter-life crisis, midlife crisis, kids leaving home, retirement—questions started to bubble to the surface. This book answers those questions from some of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists. The tips and strategies in have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. If you’d like, you can read the introduction here.
Outside of podcasting and books I’m also an angel investor and startup advisor in companies such as Uber, Duolingo, Facebook, Twitter, Alibaba, and 50 more (Most are here: http://angel.co/tim).
EDIT: Thanks, all. This was fun! I'm taking off now but you can find me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tferriss. All the best to you and yours!
Tim, I read somewhere that you have relocated from SF to Austin, what was the main drive for this? Looking forward to possibly seeing you Dec. 2 in Austin.
Indeed, I have relocated to Austin TX. After 17 years or so, I decided to leave Silicon Valley.
This answer could be a mini-novel, but suffice to say, here are a few reasons:
1) I wanted to move to Austin after college but didn't get the job at Trilogy Software. Since 2007, I've visited Austin every year and felt the pull to move there each time. It a wonderful exploding scene of art, music, film, tech, food, and more. The people are also -- in general -- much friendlier.
2) After effectively "retiring" from angel investing 2 years ago, I have no professional need to be SF or the Bay Area.
3) Silicon Valley is often a culture of cortisol, of rushing, and of fear of missing out (FOMO). There is also a mono-conversation of tech that is near impossible to avoid (much like entertainment is some parts of LA), where every dinner has some discussion of rounds of funding, investing, and who is doing what with Uber, Amazon, or someone else. This can be dodged, but it takes very real and consistent effort. I don't want to spend 20-30% of my daily mental calories on avoiding the mono-conversation.
4) Even though Silicon Valley has the highest concentration of brilliant people I've found anywhere in the world, it also has the highest concentration of people who think they're brilliant. The former are often awesome, keenly self-aware, and even self-deprecating (let's call that 15% of the population), but the latter are often smug, self-satisfied, arrogant, and intolerable (let's call that 60% of the population). That ratio just no longer works for me. It's too much. This asshole inflation usually corresponds to bubbles (I've seen it before), when fair-weather entrepreneurs and investors flood the scene.
5) Silicon Valley also has an insidious infection that is spreading -- a peculiar form of McCarthyism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism) masquerading as liberal open-mindedness. I'm as socially liberal as you get, and I find it nauseating how many topics or dissenting opinions are simply out-of-bounds in Silicon Valley. These days, people with real jobs (unlike me) are risking their careers to even challenge collective delusions in SF. Isn't this supposed to be where people change the world by challenging the consensus reality? By seeing the hidden realities behind the facades? That's the whole reason I traveled west and started over in the Bay Area. Now, more and more, I feel like it's a Russian nesting doll of facades -- Washington DC with fewer neck ties, where people openly lie to one another out of fear of losing their jobs or being publicly crucified. It's weird, unsettling, and, frankly, really dangerous. There's way too much power here for politeness to be sustainable. If no one feels they can say "Hey, I know it makes everyone uncomfortable, but I think there's a leak in the fuel rods in this nuclear submarine..." we're headed for big trouble.
Golden Gate and tech are terrorist targets, and I don't like being close to the bullseye.
I really like the sun and SF is foggy.
Austin is far more dog-friendly than SF.
Sometimes you need to think about the "where" of happiness and change your scenery to prompt new chapters in your life.
In the end, I absolutely LOVE the Bay Area, but it's become a perverted Bizarro world version of what attracted me there in 2000. Many of my best friends in the world are there, and it pained me to leave, but I had to relocate for my own sanity, growth, and happiness.
Oh, and one more time: Texas BBQ.
Hope that helps clarify a bit!
Any advice for overthinkers who get caught in analysis paralysis?
Overanalysis has been my life story. It can be far worse than laziness, as overanalysis leads to the same lack of action but ALSO self-loathing.
What helped me quite a bit was studying military history, military strategy, and decisive battles (check out Blink and Jocko Willink's Extreme Ownership).
The stories informed how I overcame paralysis by analysis. Step one is set deadlines for decisions.
In warfare, you rarely have complete information, and if you wait to push certainty from 75% to 85%, say, that lag time could cause you to lose advantage and opportunity. It's the same in many parts of life.
So I set deadlines. By X point in time, I must make a go or no-go decision, no matter how much or how little information I have. Furthermore, I try and figure out small, short-term, low-risk experiments (e.g., split testing, hiring a contractor to design mockups) I can run as "go" decisions, so that I don't perceive action as high-risk.
So, in short: set deadlines for decisions (put them in your calendar or they aren't real) and break large intimidating actions/projects into tiny mini-experiments that allow you to overcome fear of failure.
Once you have a little momentum, the paralysis usually disappears on its own.
Hope that helps!
The answers aren't exactly one-liners...
Thanks, Mr. Mane. Precisely. Quite a few of these answers are long enough to be stand-alone blog posts. I could easily answer 40 questions with one-liners, but I think the detailed answers are more helpful to people.
I’m a huge fan and thank you for changing so many lives for the better.
What is your favorite podcast to listen to and why?
My favorite podcast to listen to is, bar none, Hardcore History by Dan Carlin. It's just a masterpiece. Even though his website is a little wonky, I would highly suggest going to the trouble of starting with the "Wrath of the Khans" series about the life and empire of Genghis Khan. Trust me. I had one friend respond with "Dude, history? I'm not into it at all," then, a week later, he texted me with "Tim, fuck you." Me: "Wait... what? Why?" His punchline: "I've listened to more than 30 hours of Hardcore History in the last week and I'm not getting any work done. It's fucking amazing." So, enjoy but be warned :) Here it is: http://www.dancarlin.com/product/hardcore-history-wrath-of-the-khans-series/ I started with a different episode called "Prophets of Doom," which was slow for 30 min, then blew my mind. Enjoy!
Hey there Tim, many thanks for the years of inspiration and useful tactics!
Reading 4HWW inspired me to finally try solo world travel, and I've since traveled alone to and camped in all seven continents and over 40 countries working as a photographer. I've never had the opportunity to thank you in person for what has been truly life changing, so this will do :)
My question: what are some lesser known books that have really impacted you in the last couple years? Vagabonding was a huge influence on me and I've always appreciated your curation past the top sellers.
First off, huge congratulations on the incredible world travels! Nice work and thank you for reading 4HWW.
To your question, here are a few books that have affected me or made me think differently in the last few years. None of them are directly related to business:
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach -- this is an important book, originally recommended to me by a neuroscience PhD who benefited from it.
The Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda
The Body Keeps The Score by Van Der Kolk
Enjoy and keep on testing the paths less traveled...
Hi Tim, Thank you for everything you do. Will you be having a discussion on block-chain/bitcoins/crypto in the near future?
I'm no expert, but I find these topics fascinating and believe them to be important. Here's an in-depth conversation I hosted -- mostly between Naval Ravikant and Nick Szabo -- that digs into the fundamentals and nuances of all three: https://tim.blog/2017/06/04/nick-szabo/
What is your top tip to a new dog owner? I've never had a dog before. Love seeing the love for Molly
Also, what is your opinion on corrections with a collar? A very reputable training school I'm considering uses this method. Thanks!
My top tip to a new dog owner is focus on positive reinforcement. Collar corrections might have their place, but they are most often misused and dogs end up damaged. NEVER do an "alpha roll" or similar BS. The two books I most recommend to start with are "Don't Shoot the Dog!" by Karen Pryor (excellent, excellent book on training any mammal, including humans) and "Command Performance" by Whole Dog Journal (I know, I know). Ian Dunbar also has great ebooks online, which are free. I found "Kiko pup" on YouTube to be quite helpful as well, and some of my dog training basics are here, including an interview with a high-level pro trainer who is a dog agility sport champion: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tim+ferriss+dog+training Good luck! Be nice to your pup and the universe will reward you.
Who was your favorite person to interview?
I don't have a single favorite, as I interview each person for specific needs or curiosities of mine, but one interview that blew me away was Dr. BJ Miller, a palliative care physician (and triple amputee) who has helped more than 1,000 people to die. Incredible lessons and he profoundly impacted how I live my life. Here's the interview, titled "The Man Who Studied 1,000 Deaths to Learn How to Live": https://tim.blog/2016/04/14/bj-miller/
Hi Tim. Thank you so much for writing awesome content in the books and for doing this AMA.
I'm currently working in the corporate America during the day, and starting the consulting services company at night( which is in the unrelated field to the day job).
What are the best 3-5 ways to secure first clients?
Thank you in advance for your response.
In my experience, the best way to quickly build a services business, or any business -- especially since you have income from your full-time job -- is to "buy" your first clients. This means that you offer your services for free, or at a massively discounted rate (or for a temporary free "trial/test" period), to clients who would make excellent and impressive testimonials. The key here is that your cost-to-value-delivered ratio must be CLEARLY better than anything else they use. Once you have testimonials or referrals from 3-5 marquee clients, you'll be in great shape to charge others full retail. I've done this in multiple fields, whether teaching accelerated learning, selling massive data storage systems, angel investing in tech (i.e. investing a tiny amount, so I own a tiny piece of equity, but putting in a lot of sweat and labor), or podcast advertising. Hope that helps!
What advice would you give to new podcasters?
Overall, I would recommend that you 1) Focus on keeping format as simple as possible: something that will require minimal editing. Don't try to out-NPR NPR unless you have a team the size of their credits at the end of episodes. 2) Consider recording a bunch of interviews (if that's your format) via Skype (or ZenCastr, etc.) before doing in-person interviews. The former allows you to look at notes (e.g., Evernote), organize yourself, drink coffee, etc. without worrying about eye contact, body language, and so on with another human. More things can go wrong -- even technically, in my experience -- with in-person interviews, and Skype + ECamm Call Recorder + ATR-2100 USB mic is super cheap compared to most live, in-person technical setups. 3) Only do the podcast if you can develop skills, remove bad verbal habits, and/or develop relationships, even if the podcast "fails." Most of them get abandoned after 3-4 episodes, so commit to doing at least 6 with the goal of learning and connecting with others. For 1,000 other recommendations I might make (including on monetization strategy), check this out: https://tim.blog/2016/04/11/tim-ferriss-podcast-business/ Hope that helps!
I don't know if I have SAD, but I like to stay on the offense here in Portland. I use a Verilux Happy Light in the morning and when I'm working at a desk. I have the big one.
I've historically also used blue light in the morning to stave off winter blues. For a long time, I used the Philips GoLITE, which seemed to make a real difference.
I wanted to start out by saying thank you so much! This year I've lost over 45 lbs, became semi-jacked, and improved my health drastically, and even started doing a bit of jiu jitsu. A big part of it was due to reading Tools of titans along the way.
My questions for you is, what concept or method that you've learned from the experts on your show took the longest for you to implement into your life, or felt the most forced,that ended up having the biggest effect?
For me it would definitely be daily journaling. I'm a chronic snoozer, and constantly find myself unable to fill it out before going to work, but when I do get a good streak going of a few days or a week I definitely find it helps.
Thank you for all that you do, and sick goatee by the way, brother!
45 lbs is legitimate! Nicely done. To answer your question: definitely meditation upon waking. I was very resistant to this, viewed it as "not for me," and misunderstood the techniques and results that could be achieved in even 1-2 weeks. Taking a Transcendental Meditation class and using Headspace for their "10 in 10" (10 min per day for 10 days) helped to solidify the habit and showed me that meditation can really just = emotional non-reactivity training. This translates to every interaction you have and can dramatically impact almost every area of life.
The one that hasn't been published.
*answering for a friend
Actually, this is a good answer. There are 6-10 interviews I recorded but never published, and I never will. They weren't good enough. If I or the guest botch it and the necessary details and stories aren't there, it never sees the light of day.
The Tao Te Ching has showed up on both your Tribe of Mentors and Tools Of Titans book lists. I tried reading it and it really did not click with me.
So I have two questions:
Is there a particular translation that you or your interviewees prefer?
Is there some specific reason you can point to for it being so popular?
The Tao Te Ching does show up a lot in both books. It also didn't click for me for decades, and even now, I often think to myself: Am I just reading fortune cookie riddles?
So, you're not alone!
I think this book opens more internal doors, or sparks more original insights, if you're someone whose had at least 3-5 years of deep experience with meditation, psychedelics, or slow tai chi. It seems to depend on time spent in certain altered states. This probably sounds odd, and I could be wrong, but it's something I've observed in myself and across dozens of others.
My and Josh Waitzkin's preferred translation is by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English, but this book can be confusing or seem like a dead end no matter what.
I might suggest first trying out a few other "manuals for life" that also pop up a lot across the 130+ people in Tribe of Mentors, etc. like Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, Letters from a Stoic by Seneca, or even Zorba The Greek. Dune is also a common recommendation by incredible leaders who think certain characters exemplify excellent leadership.
Hope that helps!
Check out cognitive behavioral therapy. It will help to decrease anxiety and hopefully, by extension, your analysis paralysis
Agreed on CBT.