Do you want to truly make the impossible, well, possible? Tim Ferriss visited with us to talk about how to do just that. He discusses how to compensate for your weaknesses and capitalize on your...
Do you want to truly make the impossible, well, possible? Tim Ferriss visited with us to talk about how to do just that. He discusses how to compensate for your weaknesses and capitalize on your strengths while developing new skills along the way. Make your “impossible” dreams become reality!
Timothy Ferriss has been listed as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People”, Forbes Magazine’s “Names You Need to Know,” and is the 7th “most powerful” personality on Newsweek’s Digital 100 Power Index for 2012. He is an angel investor/advisor (Uber, Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, and 20+ more) and author of The Four Hour Work Week, The Four Hour Chef, and The Four Hour Body.
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Srini Rao: Tim welcome to the unmistakable. Creative. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us.
Tim Ferriss: Thank you. I'm glad to be here. Yeah.
Srini Rao: You don't really, you need much of an introduction. It'd be ridiculous because I would assume that just about every single person listening, unless they've been, in a cave for the last 10 years probably knows who you are.
You've actually been a guest on our show before when we were called blog cast FM. And this was when a four-hour chef came out. And this time I wanted to do a sort of dive into parts of your story that have never been told before. Really where I wanted to start is looking back, before high school before Princeton, all of that into sort of the pivotal moments, growing up that have led you to, where you're at in your journey.
Formative Experiences from Tim Ferriss' Early Life Tim Ferriss: .
I think there were some early formative experiences. That shaped a lot of what I did later and maybe some contexts that people haven't heard before. Let me start at the beginning and I'll let you guide me as needed.
I don't want to give you some long-winded Dr. Evil-type life story, but I was born and raised on eastern long island. I was a talent. Very proud of the fact. I was very proud of the fact that I was a townie in basically the Hamptons. So it was a very bifurcated haven't have not an environment where you saw a very sharp contrast between the locals who mostly worked in the service industry and very wealthy people who'd come out from Manhattan for the weekends, for the summer.
And that is where I went to elementary school, high school for part of my time. And. I was born prematurely had a lot of health issues early on. I was in the intensive care unit for a very long time. Had my blood volume transfused, I think five times because my left lung collapsed. Couldn't oxygenate my blood properly and still have lung issues to this day for that reason.
How Being on His High School Wrestling Team Impacted Tim Ferriss's Life
And that's part of the reason I didn't learn to swim until I was in my thirties, for instance, embarrassing, but true. And. I had a few, experiences in school for instance, and in sports that were formative. The first that comes to mind is really being rescued in a way as a runner. By being thrown into kid wrestling.
So I started wrestling when I was eight or nine years old, and it was a great way for my mom to exhaust me. So I wouldn't be a hyperactive mess when I got home, but it was also a way that I could build up my confidence in a sport that was based on weight classes instead of getting my ass thrashed in every other sport, since I was small and had a lot of allergies, which Made it very embarrassing for me to do the presidential fitness test if if you've ever, if you can recall those.
And the wrestling forced me to do a few things. It forced me to develop a very individualized style of competition because it is, of course, the points are tallied as a team, but you're, you are really. Earning your keep on the map by yourself. The second component of that was the fact that. I had very short indirect its capacity.
I was very handicapped in that way because I would overheat, and this is related to thermoregulation and my lung capacity. So just like dogs, pants to dissipate, heat humans, very much to the same thing. So your breathing and the surface area of the interior of your lungs has an implication for how quickly you can Dissipate heat and I was very bad at it.
So I had to develop a style that was unlike most of the people I trained with and I, I really had to is particularly once I became very serious in high school and it was competing on a national level at one point, develop a style that that compensated for my weaknesses and capitalize on my strengths.
And this a component of that was cutting. I had to get very good or one of the few advantages I had was I sweat very easily because of this poor thermoregulation, which meant I could cut water weight very dramatically in short periods of time. So I became very good and I had to study how this is how my self-tracking developed.
I had to study how the kidneys were. How sodium retention worked, how potassium-sparing, diuretics worked. I didn't use anything illegal at the time. I was just getting a various Stute understanding of how water is retained or expelled and optimizing that for losing say, 15 to 25 pounds in a 24 hour period in some cases, which is very dangerous and I don't recommend anyone do it, but that is a part of wrestling.
And I would do that. And rehydrate and say anywhere from six to 10 hours and then. Crush my opponents say, and that, that didn't scale perfectly to the highest levels because when you get to increasingly competitive arenas, the arsenal that people are familiar with is very broad. So when you get to the nationals, everyone is cutting a ridiculous amount of weight so that no longer becomes a huge, unfair advantage.
But I think that those experiences wrestling at all. A handful of the coaches I had. And now that I think about it, we were at you and I have chatted before about making the impossible possible. And I had coaches one in particular Mr. Buxton, who, by the way, almost all of the people from that wrestling team, just my class, my set of classes in high school.
You trained under Mr. Buxton and went on to do really incredible things later in life, professionally, almost all of them, including my wrestling partner, who went on to found donors, choose.org which is a massively successful education, nonprofit, endorsed by Michelle Obama and Oprah and so on.
Mr. Buxton would push us beyond the point we thought was humanly possible in each of our cases. And if I was exhausted, had to puke, he'd be like, there's the bucket for puking. You have more in you go get that done and come back. And it was just like, oh my God. So well past the point that any one of us would have tapped out, given up called it quits, looked at ourselves as failures, he would push us through that.
Valley of death to the opposite side, where we would come out stronger with more confidence, believing that. We could really do the impossible or what we had previously defined as impossible. So those are a few things that come to mind right off the bat as having a huge impact on everything that came afterward.
Srini Rao: Having grown up with that start contrast of have, and have nots and you yourself now having been exposed to wealth and accumulated a significant
Tim Ferriss: of wealth,
Srini Rao: Shape and change your view around wealth
Tim Ferriss: and money.
That's a big one. It's a good question. I haven't really thought of it. I would say a few. A few things. The first is that when I was growing up and working in the summers as a busboy, typically I noticed a huge difference between the three classes of rich people. Number one, you had the old money. So people who'd had millions, tens of millions, billions of dollars for decades.
And those people were fine. They were actually very well behaved and polite for the most part because they were over the fact that they had money. Does that make sense? The, it w it would be poor taste for them to flaunt it in a really obnoxious way. And so I think in, in, in that respect, they had integrated money or wealth into an appropriate place in context, in their lives.
Those people were fine. The married S the people who married into this family is not always the case. There were some real nuisances, really entitled, like duchesses of fill in the blank, who would have a 10 person dinner with 20 kids crying and screaming, throwing bread around, and then not tip at all.
It was really egregiously, bad behavior, but generally speaking, old money was fine. Then you had. The self-made people. And I've heard, this is pretty or this is not everyone's experience with self-made folks, but I ended up having the opportunity to bus for Billy Joel one day.
And he was so gracious to me and I answered a bunch of kind of silly questions because I felt like I had to ask him questions. It was my one once in a lifetime opportunity to talk to a celebrity, but he was really. Just a pleasant guy to interact with. He was not rushed or abrasive, and I could've just caught him on a bad day, who knows, but he tipped me $20 for a cup of coffee.
And that just had such a humongous. It made such a humongous impression on me. The contrast between say that and the last class, which was the nouveau riche waving dollars in your face. I'm using money as a status symbol to put themselves above other people. Very oftentimes the locals were those just pull up in a Mercedes and park in a handicap spot and be like, fuck you.
If you give them any shit. Sue me, and you're just like, what really that's usually when the kids would tear off their hood on her, inside collecting hood ornaments from people like that was a sport among a lot of my friends. And, even at this point I have no sympathy for those folks.
But it has been. Challenging for me to reconcile going home and basically being a city person, we would always call them, the city people, oh, these goddamn city people. And now the fact of the matter is I have more friends in New York city than I do, perhaps in my hometown. And I still have friends I grew up with, and it's not like I've abandoned those people.
I'm just, I was just texting with one of my childhood friends today who still lives out there. But. It's been challenging for me to figure out where I fit in what I've concluded is maybe it's not important for me to conclude where I fit. It's not important for me to find the appropriate category.
I'm just somewhere in between. That's fine. It's okay. I see both sides of a lot of the arguments. I still tend to, of course, fall on the side of the locals where it looks, I got Lyme disease last summer. And it was decimated for have been still dealing with a lot of health problems. And part of the reason there's so much Lyme disease is that there's a massive overpopulation of deer, including many sick deer and older deer who should be called and the proposal to have sharpshooters come in and thin the herd for health reasons was.
Vetoed by city people who vacation out there, aren't there full time and don't want to see Bambi gets shot. And it's that's great that you have this romantic association with these disease vectors, these tick-carrying Large mice with hooves, but you are using your sophisticated sort of politicking abilities coming out of the city where that's more highly valued to cause big problems for locals.
And I, I still think that's bullshit, but going off on perhaps a tangent, but I bounce it back and forth between empathy for both sides. And so that's. Interesting.
Srini Rao: How has all of that. Affected, the social dynamics and relationship building that you do with, the influential and wealthy people that you what is it that separates these people who are wealthy from a mindset perspective, from the ones who struggle.
Just in Case vs Just in Time Information
Tim Ferriss: Let's see, let me answer the first question first to the first question. The answer to the first question is I am actually in a process of reducing my network, so to speak or loose ties that required. Heavy management. Then I am in the process of building my network and what I've realized, this is another reason why I'm actually cutting down on the number of books I read is that I want to specialize in not just in case information or just in case relationships, but just in time information and just-in-time relationships.
And the reason for that is there's a, 90% less who knows Decrease in cognitive burden when you approach it that way. Instead of reading like 10 business books in the case and highlighting things. In which case, if the information is actually needed, you just need to go back and reread everything.
What if I could establish a network of. And really when I say that, group of friends, because it's a lot less effort to do the hard work on the front end to find world-class performers, who you can actually be friends with including outside interests and personal conversations and so on.
Can I have a group of say 10 to 20 people who have access to anyone I would possibly need access to and therefore, any information I might need, and that is. Rather than having individual relationships with every contingency resource right person or information or otherwise, can I, by the fact that I'm being endorsed or backed by a close friend, get in touch with a friend of theirs who can help me with something.
A medical issue, like Lyme disease, right? Like I, I immediately, even though I didn't know them directly had access to two or three of the world's top infectious disease specialists. So that's how I think about it. And Collecting business cards and going about networking in on mass for volume, I think is a major mistake.
How to Build Your Network
And I've never taken that approach even when I was fresh out of college and really didn't know anybody. I knew I volunteered at events, business events are put on by a sort of startup nonprofits and so on or for, or paid organizations on volunteer. And get to the point where I had more responsibility because I would take on additional responsibilities.
They didn't ask me to do. And that really separates you as a volunteer. Most volunteers do barely enough just to get by because they feel like they've earned that since they're not getting paid, which is a stupid. Perspective to have. So I would take on additional responsibility until I was at a point where I could say interact and help organize panelists and speakers.
All of whom were very well-known and powerful and successful in their own. And that is how I know. Gets to know, at least on a very minimal personal level to make a good impression on people who are like a thousand pay grades above you. So I took that approach in terms of money and wealth.
Wealth vs Money
I don't think having a lot of money and being wealthy are the same things. I know a lot of people who literally have hundreds of millions of dollars who are very unhappy. But the this, so I'll answer your question two ways. So what makes someone truly wealthy in my mind and what makes, what allows someone to imagine?
That amount of money. The first question. What makes someone truly wealthy, I think is a combination of not just achievement because it's easy. It's very easy to default to racking up sort of feathers in the cap and more money and obsess on those types of measureables by focusing as an, a type personality on it.
Just doing more and earning more the bigger challenge for people who are hardwired that way. And I'm certainly this way is balancing that with appreciating what you have. And that is a necessary component because if you don't PR for instance, if you don't appreciate what you have now, You will never appreciate what you get later.
So what is the end goal of all of this achieving and amassing a? So I build in a gratitude practice and journaling in the morning, three things that I'm grateful for. And so on to make a habit of present state awareness of things that I already have. And So that's answer number one.
How do you amass or what is the mindset that allows someone to amass that amount of money is I think the ability to completely question any type of assumption or best practice in any industry, nothing is sacred. They are perfectly happy to turn everything upside down and whether that's, they say, oh you need to be warm and fuzzy as an employee.
As a boss, like that's the whole thing these days it's like really Steve jobs. Wasn't that way. Henry Ford wasn't the way they were hardasses. And if you don't want to be part of that's totally fine.
You can, you're opting in by applying for a job, but understand what you're signing up for. This is seal team six, this isn't Teletubbies. And they or they might say, it's okay people say you have to have an office and do this and raise money in this following way. They're like, screw that, right?
Like automatic. They have they're worth more than a billion dollars. They power wordpress.com and so on. And they have a completely distributed workforce. Hundreds of people spread all over the world. No central office. And so if I look at those types of folks I noticed those things.
Successful People Don't Waste Time or Energy on Trivial Matters
Also, another thing that I noticed is they are, they have trained themselves or are predisposed. And I think it's a combination of both to not waste energy. And what I mean by that is I remember being to give a very clear example. I was in Vietnam, traveling. I had worked with room to read and a few other organizations to build libraries and schools in Vietnam.
And my readers that helped with that. And I went on a trip to document it, take photos and video and so forth. And we were playing pool a group of my friends and I, and one of them was Matt Mullen, as the CEO of automatic and I saw a tweet from a very well-known journalist who was like, not happy, looks like wordpress.com is really slow right now.
And I talked to Matt and he was like, yeah, one of our two data centers is down. Tell him that we're working on it. And he was just like sipping a beer and playing pool at the end of the day in Vietnam. And I was like, wait a second. One of your two data centers is isn't that a big fucking deal? And he's just doesn't do me any good to get all riled up.
My team is working on it. Absolutely zero point in me getting remotely. Yeah, ruffled feathers about it or anxious. And he didn't say it in exactly. Those words was just like, man, I think they're working on it. That's all we can do. And then just had a sip of beer and went back to playing pool and he was completely unfazed.
Completely unfazed. Yeah. And I've noticed that in a lot of my friends here in Silicon valley who just have, fortunes beyond almost anyone's imagination. So those are a few things that come to mind right off.
Srini Rao: Interesting. So we'll get into some
Tim Ferriss: of the things. Yeah, those guys, just as a side note, I think that it's important to think about not just time management, which is a, it's a buzz word that is used a lot, but energy and attention management, you can have all the time in the world, but if you're distracted, Preoccupied with something that's happening.
For instance, if you check your email, first thing, Saturday morning, even though you had committed to do it on Monday morning, and then you find a bunch of problems that you can't fix until Monday morning, your weekend's gone. You're not going to have any relaxation. You're not going to have any productivity.
So you have all the time in the world, but you have no tension. You have no energy because you're dissipating it with that preoccupation. So that's the type of thing that these guys would not do because they understand the value of not just the time. The time is worthless without attention and energy, but attention, the energy itself.
Srini Rao: So actually I have some questions around that, but I want to go back to an earlier part of our conversation about, wrestling and a coach. This is something I've asked in some form or another to a bunch of people. And I probably have asked it a dozen times, cause I haven't found an answer that satisfies me yet.
And I don't know that I ever. Because it's one of those types of questions, but you had this pivotal moment in your life and you recognized it and I'm wondering why you think we missed those modes. And what we can do if we did happen to miss them,
Tim Ferriss: I didn't know, realize what I was getting at the time. It's a very Mr. Miyagi type experience. It was only in retrospect that I realized how valuable that was. So it's not like at the time I was like, oh, thank God. I'm getting this incredible education through these horrible drills that he's making me do until they vomit in a bucket.
It wasn't like that. I was like, oh my God. I am so exhausted. How am I going to do my next set of classes? Because where I transferred to a New Hampshire, I went to a boarding school. We had classes from 8:00 AM to six something PM mandatory sports, mandatory chapel in the morning, it was brutal.
So I was more preoccupied or concerned with just keeping afloat and, making sure my quaffed hair looked good for girls or who knows what at that point, 15 years old, 16 years. Yeah. But what can you do if you missed it? I don't think it's too late. You can engineer these types of things.
It's and that's the entire ethos of everything that I've done right. At the four hour workweek for our body for our chef is. It's not too late. There are too many examples of people who start multi-million dollar companies in their fifties and sixties who have massive breakthroughs or published their first award-winning novels in their fifties, sixties, seventies.
It's the idea. That you can't manifest this type of outsized, incredible success in multiple areas or renegotiate, basically the genetic limits you thought you had for muscle gain or fat loss or endurance. There are so many of my readers who have taken what I've done in say the four-hour body and in every chapter like ultra-endurance or the effortless superhuman or the breath-holding any of these readers have destroyed my results.
Which people thought were crazy when they first read them. I have dozens and hundreds and thousands of readers who have just demolished my results who have two X, three X to my results in every one of those chapters. And people can find, I usually star a lot of them when they come up on Twitter. So if you go to my Twitter favorites at T Farris with two RS and two SS, people can see some of them.
But it's just not too late. I think it looks, spilt milk water under the bridge, choose your metaphor. Let's not obsess on the past. Let's let's focus on how you can engineer that stuff right now. And if you look at my career, keep in mind, nobody knew who the hell I was before 2007.
And this is a, I was about to turn 30 and that's certainly young. But If I hadn't written that book until all five, 10 years later I could have published that book at a much later stage. And would it have struck the cord and had that impact? I don't know, but There are so many examples of this, it's like you take someone like Garrett camp who had reasonable amount of success with stumbled upon and so on.
But it wasn't until very recently, in the last few years that Uber, which he co-founded turned into what it is now. And and there are people who'd say oh yeah, what he did at StumbleUpon, wasn't a huge success or what he did in between. Wasn't a huge success, but whatever it is, all the naysayers and the people who who nip it, everyone's here.
And somebody said to me once seen statues aren't erected to critics. And I think that's, it's a great thing to keep in mind. So th the upshot of that is it's not too late to focus on how to engineer those things because there are recipes that work and just model world-class performers who exemplify the characteristics that you have.
Model Succesful People
And ideally. Model people who not only have the success in a given field that you want but also who have holistically the life that you want, because you can find people with hundreds of millions of dollars who yell at their kids, whose wives or husbands hate them who do a lot of drugs on the weekend or on the evenings just to live with themselves.
And you need to keep in mind the total picture. Do I think Steve Jobs was an amazing creator on many levels of visionary product guy as well as CEO? Absolutely, of course. Do I think he was a happy guy? Probably not. Do I think that he was a pleasure to be around?
No, he was not definitively So it's good to look at it holistically and not just piecemeal. There are things you can borrow from someone like a Steve jobs, of course namely things like, and this is another one that groups, these types of ultra-performance together he said something along the lines, to do anything great.
You have to say no to a thousand small. And I'm paraphrasing that, but that is also the in Warren buffet has said what separates the people who are good from those who are great, are the people who get good results. And those people get great results. Is the people who get great results, say no to almost everything.
Compensating for Weaknesses and Capitalizing on Strengths
Srini Rao: Of the things you brought up earlier was that wrestling gave you an individualized style of competition. And, the reason I'm interested in I'm interested in is this idea of compensating know, or capitalizing on your strengths and compensating for your weaknesses and how you figure out how to do that in your own life.
Tim Ferriss: Does. The last part is perhaps a little easier to answer. I think the comparison the desire and impulse to compare yourself to others is a, it's a, it's an element of being a human being. I don't think it's very hard to eradicate that completely, I think. But what you can do is.
Realize as is very popularly said here in Silicon valley, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with physically, emotionally, financially, and so on. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So you need to try to choose that inner circle very carefully and look at.
The people you're spending time with. So for instance, and this doesn't mean you have to move to Silicon valley and know the people. I know you could join a local EO chapter entrepreneurs, organization chapter, for instance, and within that group in any given city, you will find ballers. You will find just killers who are doing amazing jobs.
And if you have dinner with such a person and you sit down and talk about certain problems you're facing, you will probably have your mind blown at their perspective or how they look at the person. And that has always just been a game changer for me. When I look at these guys and I have dinner with them and it's my petty problems seem so trivial and ridiculous.
They're the types of things that wouldn't even consume a millisecond of Matt. Mullenweg's time. For instance. Whatever drop it. And then onto the next thing as opposed to obsessing on you know what I should have said to that guy when he sent me that rude email, fuck that guy, I should have done this.
And it's like this internal conversation in my head for four nights, what a waste of energy. And then you spend time with some of these guys or somebody that you seek out and find, let's say an EO chapter or else. And you realize, wow, that was just the most egregious waste of energy imaginable. And you start to model this person, you look at them as a role model and you start to ask yourself for instance and I've done this before.
It sounds funny and weird and creepy. Hopefully Matt isn't listening to this. But yeah, I interviewed Matt on the podcast. He's a very good buddy of mine. But sometimes when I'm about to get angry and I catch myself because I'm very aggressive, very impatient kind of prone to. Just barreling down and going on the offense which has helped me in a lot of ways, but it's not always out.
I will ask myself, what would Matt do? Like in this situation, what would Matt do? That has been very helpful pattern interrupt that I use. In lieu of spending a ton of time with someone like Matt every day, which is not going to happen necessarily because we're always traveling and so on, but I can knowing him as well as I do.
And you could get that even from a book, if you read about Ben Franklin or Steve jobs, like what would have been frankly but for me it's what would Matt Mullenweg do? Because I'm trying to absorb through osmosis, the calmness that he has. And I do the same thing with a lot of my friends, Kevin Rose, and other people.
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Srini Rao: ,when you first, started pitching to the four hour work week, I know you got rejected. What is it? It's 27 or 29 publishers. I don't remember the exact
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Lost count between somewhere between 26 and 27 publishers. Yeah. So my question
Srini Rao: is actually around managing your own psychology through this process of the entrepreneurial journey.
And I'm interested in a couple of different things here. One is,
Tim Ferriss: do
Srini Rao: you think that grit is something that certain people just inherently have built into them? Or is it something we can cultivate? And if so, how, and in your own sort of journey to getting to where you're at, have you ever had any really rock bottom or dark moments where you just felt like you could see no hope for your future?
Tim Ferriss: Okay, so grit grit or sticktuitiveness I'm guessing is how we could define that. I would imagine there's a genetic component. There's genetic components to just about everything, but I, it is also a it is also a. Coachable and learnable skill, I think, or attribute and one of, one of Matt ball and magnet to make this the Mo the babble show.
But one of, one of the things that he said to me long ago when I was, I asked him is it this? Or is it this? And he said, that's a false dichotomy. And that's a fancy way of saying it doesn't have to be either. Or so whenever somebody offers me like you can do a, or B I'm like, could we do both.
What is option C and Henry Ford would say no. When you think you've when you've looked at all of the options, just remember you haven't. And so I would say that grit can be developed by. Sequentially or I should say sequentially, progressively exposing yourself to discomfort in different ways.
And that makes you more comfortable with plowing through pain or temporary embarrassment and things like that, which is why there are these comfort challenges in the four hour workweek, which people resonated incredibly with got a great response from it. It's like every chapter is look, I'm telling you what to do, but you're not going to do it unless you have some certain level.
Comfort with discomfort. So here's an exercise to make you very uncomfortable, go to Starbucks and lay down on the floor for 10 seconds without telling anyone while you're doing it. And then just get back up and you're not going to cause any harm. No one's going to, and it's there's no real harm to be had there, but it will make you very uncomfortable and they seem silly, but those things transfer.
Those things transfer very well. And so grit is really a matter of practice and explore. Have I had rock bottom moments. Oh yeah. I've had tons. I've had plenty of rock, bottom moments. And a lot of the males in my extended family have predisposition to depression. So I've had extended bouts of depression and feeling like there was no hope and there were no options.
And I was stuck. I was in a corner, no options at all, et cetera. I've I've written about that in one post called productivity hacks, or productivity tricks for the neurotic manic depressive and crazy. And then in parentheses like me. So if you look for productivity, hacks or tricks for neurotic and my name, the postal pop right up and I talk about, yeah, How I talk about one of my particular li difficult to press the periods and how that affected my behavior and my my S my, my self perception and insecurities and so on.
The. It's been said by for instance, custom auto who's who was the trainer of Mike Tyson at his heyday that you know, that the hero and the coward feel the same thing. It's how the hero response that is different. And I. I think that everyone, unless you're a mutant, but most people I have met, including, household names, you would know that you that are, have superhero status have these.
They have days where it's like, they hit snooze for an hour or two on a weekend. Cause they don't want to get up because they have these neurotic and rude thoughts in their head and they just do not want to face the day. This is not uncommon. It is part of the human condition. So I think that.
My general coping mechanism, there are a couple of them and I elaborate on them in the blog post quite a bit. But exercise is the cure all for a bio for a lot of biochemical reasons, for a lot of structural reasons, meaning creating something in your day. Peg upon which to hang everything else.
If you're trying to get back on your feet, I find that the exercise, which could just be a long walk and I'm I think walking is very underrated. I try to walk an hour or two a day which has, I'm not doing for any fitness purpose. It is we've made a lot of evolutionary trade-offs to be able to walk.
And perambulator the distances that we can cover as human beings. It's true. Like we've made a ton of sacrifices to be able to. With the nuchal ligament and everything in the back of our head, which prevents our heads from wobbling, like a pig when we walk. Anyway, so those are a few of my thoughts on those two questions.
Srini Rao: You think these depressive tendencies are just a part of, a hero's journey. If you're going to do anything of great significance like you have to go
Tim Ferriss: through a tough. Yeah, I like it's a Rite of passage almost. I think so. If you're going to do anything extra ordinary by definition, it is extra ordinary.
You will be unaccustomed to experiencing the stresses that go along with that. And the stresses can be internal. It can be external. They can be used to. You like euphoria, good stress that builds you up and helps you grow like lifting weights that you can experience that in a business capacity or it can be distressed, which is tearing you down.
And oftentimes it's a combination of both, depending on how you look at that stress, your perspective and your, know, the lens through which you look at it. But The, yeah, I've been doing some screenwriting as just a hobby recently and it's I have the writer's journey right next to me, which is talking about Joseph Campbell and how that fits into movies like star wars and so forth.
The all is lost. Moment is pretty real. I got to tell you and what was funny about it? A funny, in retrospect, not when it was happening, filming the Tim Ferriss experiment where you were tackling these crazy skills every week, like PR professional poker. All right. It's I know nothing.
And then I'm going to play against professionals for thousands of dollars in four days, or learning a language well enough in, three or four days to go on live TV for six minutes in that language, just crazy stuff. Is it became almost a running joke for my crew that like everyone. Every second day of filming the night of every second day, I would basically have a nervous breakdown.
And I suppose I never thought of it this way, but you could probably take the hero's journey and map it right on to every single episode and watch me just like crash and burn and self-doubt. And self-loathing. Almost every time at the end of the second day, or depending on the skill, you're like the middle of middle to end of the third day.
So I think that it is part of it. And that's why it's. It's helpful to get into the practice of I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who recommended this, but every day, doing something that you fear, like every day do one thing, whatever it is, approaching a cute girl and just saying hi, it could be that simple laying down in Starbucks, uncomfortable conversation you've been putting off calling maybe a parent that you haven't, that you've grown a little distant from and saying, I love you something really vulnerable like that. It could be any of these things, but every day do one thing that makes you nervous, makes you fearful.
And on top of that, I would also put in that basket of rituals that I find very helpful. You'd reach out to someone and express gratitude. Say thank you to some. That you haven't said thank you to in a long time or ever, it could be a childhood friend. It could be someone you went to college with.
You haven't talked to in 10 years. It could be a coworker you see every day, whatever it is, if you do those two things every day, man, I really feel like those tiny micro changes cumulatively can just produce. Monstrous in the best way possible like monsters of productivity and just break out successes.
It's the little things that we do repeatedly that make us .
Srini Rao: Something that I was really curious about is how you choose what you're going to work .
Tim Ferriss: With great difficulty. I read a book recently several chapters, which I thought were fantastically good called who. And it is a book about hiring and it's written by, or at least coauthored by the son of the author of a book called topgrading, which is considered by a lot of CEOs to be the book on hiring.
But those who've read, both say that who is more direct, more actionable. And that book takes the perspective, which is okay. Maybe a contrast to say Simon Sinek is that start with why, start with why then you figure out the how and so on. But these guys start with who, which you pick the people you want to work with, and that dictates the projects that you choose.
Now. I don't a hundred percent fall in either of those camps, but I do think that the ladder is very interesting to ponder because I so strongly believe. You are the average of the five people you associate with most. So it's like, all right what if I picked the people I wanted to work with and that dictated my projects, even if I do that for a six-month period of time, what would happen?
And I have been trying to do that more and more, and I have to keep in mind and it's taken me a long time to realize this, but a good deal with a bad person is a bad thing. That makes sense. Contracts don't protect you against anything really. It gives you the right to Sue someone later, perhaps, but contracts are only as good as the people who sign them.
And so if you think you've got, oh my God, I'm convinced make millions of dollars from this deal. It's great. Yeah, this guy's kind of a pain in the ass. Yeah. He's like sometimes goes back in his word, blah, blah, blah. But this contract is amazing. We've negotiated it. It's going to be beautiful. It's not going to be beautiful.
Guarantee you that deal is going to sour as soon as the paperwork is signed. And to that end there are people I've really enjoyed working with over time, or just enjoy hanging out with. And that's how I've ended up. Advising a lot of the companies that I advise for that matter, as I'm really close friends with say Garrett camp.
And so I become an advisor to stumble upon doesn't quite work out as everyone might hope, but then Uber happens and I end up being an advisor to Uber. Thank God for that, and it's just been a revelation for me to realize. Much earlier than you would think. You don't have to wait until you're making billions of dollars to make this decision.
You can choose who you want to work within a lot of ways there's actually a lot of latitude for people to do that. Even if you feel like you have no leverage and you're a new hire at your first job. And this is why one of the core skills you have to learn is how to communicate well and negotiate.
So go get books like getting past no, or the secrets of power negotiating by Dawson and practice. Role-play go to a farmer's market on the weekends and use that as your comfort exercise to haggle for things. And don't be a total Dick actually buy something. Don't just haggle everybody. That is like a total bastard move.
And That I think is Yeah. That's how I frame these things. It's
Srini Rao: interesting. Cause I may be subconsciously doing that without even realizing it. Like I've realized that almost every project I have chosen to do that I really enjoyed doing has always involved some sort of creative person or an artist in the
Tim Ferriss: last two years.
I'm like, if I don't get to work
Srini Rao: with somebody like that, then I'm like, why are we doing this? If it's just, mechanics and marketing, I'm bored to death.
Tim Ferriss: We could talk about all the different aspects of how people choose projects. I also am choosing projects with certain minimal thresholds.
So if there is a financial component and there sometimes financial components if you say yes to everything that is cool, you will not have the bandwidth to do the hell. Yes. Amazing. Game-changing things. Does that make sense? Oh yeah. And I heard of a demo that was done in a classroom at one point that really stuck with me.
If you say yes to everything that is cool, you will not have the bandwidth to do the hell yes amazing game-changing things
And I think I read about this where a professor took a Mason jar, one of these large ish glass containers. And he said, Watch this, I have a cup of sand, a cup of smaller rocks, and then I have two big rocks and he put in the sand. Then put in the mixed rocks and then he couldn't fit even one of the large rocks in, and then he said, but what if we do this a different way?
And then he took another Mason jar, put the two big rocks in then the smaller rocks and then the sand and everything fit. And he's you have to choose the big things first, or you won't be able to fit them in later. And. That is very difficult to do. Particularly when you have a degree of say public exposure and a lot of inbound offers, like I'm very fortunate in a way, but also cursed to have a lot of kind of cool things that come across my plate every day and for a very long period of time.
This was probably last year I was drowning. In cool things where I was like a six out of 10 excited and I'd made all these commitments and I was actually pretty unhappy. I was drowning in these things that I wasn't totally lit up by, but that were cool. And I didn't have the bandwidth to do.
I had to miss and say no to one or two things that were absolutely what I would have wanted to take up all of my time, because I had too many pre-existing commitments and I've made a concerted effort to reorganize organize my life to avoid that type of problem. But it's very challenging.
You have to get comfortable saying no to almost everyone and recognizing that there's no. One path to success, but the path to failure is certainly trying to make everyone happy
You have to get comfortable saying no to almost everyone and recognizing that there's no. One path to success, but the path to failure is certainly trying to make everyone happy. And in a digital world where everyone expects an immediate response, of course, people are going to get hurt feelings and you have to establish a meditative practice or some type of preparation for your day that will allow you to accept that and not try to put a bandaid on everyone by making commitments.
And Marcus really is. Stoic philosophy, fan and proponent. And I read stoic philosophy all the time, because I think it's a great operating system for high stress environments. But, Marcus really is in meditation. One of his letters and I'm going to probably massacre this because I'm paraphrasing.
But if something like, today you will be faced by ungrateful people who are petty who have trivial vendettas who are going to be obnoxious and rude and otherwise make your life difficult. It's like basically just preparing for that so that he's mentally prepared and isn't blindsided, doesn't react in a.
Non-conscious way that compromises him. Does that make sense that he's look, this is going to happen. So let me prepare for it in advance mentally so that I make the right. I have the correct response. And so I use stablish policies. For instance, I have a policy where if any startup tries to rush me into a decision by applying false time constraints, I'm out.
Because that's bad fucking behavior as far as I'm concerned. So if they're like, Hey, we've never talked before, but said I should email and we're doing this. And our round is closing in 48 hours. Are you in minimum? Is this amount of money? And I'm just like, sorry, I can't make a decision that quickly.
What is your leeway? And they're like, no, man, we're closing right now. We've already, we're already over committed. I'm like, then peace, good luck. I'll see if I can share from the sidelines, but I do not. And I borrowed that from another investor who was very successful and that's one of his policies.
It's if you try to rush me unreasonably you're out, I don't care how good the deal is. I don't care how awesome you are. If you try to apply that kind of false time constraint about, and just having that rule gets through. 30% of the pitches, 40% of the pitches that I get. It's very easy. Other rules I might have are, if I, if someone sends me a deal and they're like, Hey, man, wanted to introduce you to the CEO or introduce you to this deal.
It's is, and I'm borrowing all these, I didn't make any ends up. It's is this one of the top three entrepreneurs that you would back? And are you investing in this deal? If the answer is no to either one of those, then I'll pass. And just by doing that, Which is really hard to do consistently because people are like, oh my God.
But that guy invested in my other deal, I feel badly. So I'm going to invest. And know, you might have to do some of that political, like social capital work, but if you do it all the time, you get bad returns and I've had really. Crazy returns in the startup world. People can check out all my deals at angel list angel.co forward slash Tim.
You can see, 30, 40 deals that I've done and it's not because I'm an idiot savant when it comes or just a savant when it comes to angel investing. It's that I've borrowed these rules. And so those are the recipes that I try to find no matter what I'm doing. And then you can get these crazy rich, you can get these crazy returns, whether it's learning a language or learning drumming or startup investing without Warren Buffett, right?
Like predisposition. Cause the guy's like a robot. I don't know how he does what he does. So that's. That's how I think about it. Let's do this. We're getting
Srini Rao: close to about an hour here and I haven't really given you a chance to talk about the TV show, but I wanted to go into one specific thing that you learned just because I being an avid surfer.
That was the one that I picked. Let's talk about that whole experience. And you talked about each show being a hero's journey of sorts. And it's the surfing. What happened to me? My favorite one, because I remember when somebody told me, I said, I'm like, how's that going? As a surfer. I know one thing, the variables are never the same.
Like it's always inconsistent. So I'm really interested in what that whole experience was like for you.
Tim Ferriss: Surfing was tough. Surfing was really tough. Not surprising. Like you said, because it's not, you're not just learning how to balance on a board. You're not just learning how to pop up.
You're not just learning how to ride once you are up, but you have to learn, like you said, To navigate and try to predict a constantly changing environment and terrain. And so it's completely unlike something like snowboarding, for instance, it's also a completely unlike snowboarding in the sense that there are There are many more physical attributes that are developed over time for surfing specifically, I had layered Hamilton helping me, which was pretty awesome.
That guy's just a beast. Yeah. For those people who don't know, he's considered the undisputed king of big wave surfing for very good reasons. I He's been on the cover of surfing magazine just with the title. Oh my God. As the headline and he's 50 51 and the guy is a better athlete. Every 20 something professional athlete I've ever met, the guy is just a monster.
And he's one of the things he said to me is, they should really call surfing paddling because that is 99% of the time that you're gonna spend on the water. And the best paddlers are almost always the best surfers. It was not only deconstructing all of that, but figuring out all if you're unfamiliar with the water much more.
So if you're afraid of the water, like I have been my whole life and particularly drowning. What is the sequence that you use to try to establish a basic vocabulary that you can use on the water? And it was a really terrifying, embarrassing, but ultimately It's. I don't overuse this word, but like life-changing experience.
And after that, this was not Chronicle though. I have some pictures. I went to Costa Rica with a friend of mine with a couple of surfing coaches and like surfed on my own and Costa Rica and waves that were these are not 30-foot waves, but they were for me, over my head, which is huge for me.
And it. It was a really awesome experience. And what made it the most? The biggest takeaway for me was. Removing my own excuses, killing my own excuses, because know I talked to friends, doesn't matter what age they're 27. They're like, yeah, man. Once you pass 25, oh man, my joints hurt.
And then you talk to somebody who's 30. They're like, yeah, man, I just turned 30, and like it's all downhill. And then you talk to somebody 35 40, they all have that same excuse like, oh, and then I'm hanging out with Laird Hamilton. He's in his fifties and he will crush any fool. Oh, you're the first-round draft pick from the NFL.
Yeah. Come to my gym. He'll crush. Like he's just beast and on, but I was like, all right that's layered. And I think people do the same thing with me sometimes I'm like, oh, it's Tim Ferris. So I'm like, oh, it's layered. It's of course I couldn't do that. And then I meet a bunch of or Titus who's one of the Hawaiian elders.
The amazing surfer who we interacted with. And I looked at a photo on his wall surfing like a, to me it looked like a 50 foot wave. And in Hawaii they measure the F they measure the face of the wave. Yeah. They measure from the back, not the face. So it's a, it's yeah, it's 20 foot wave. And then somebody visiting from California goes out and just almost dies because it's actually 40 feet tall.
And so Titus, there's this picture on his garage? Riding this just behemoth of a wave. One of the biggest things I've ever seen and he's oh yeah, it was my 50th birthday and I wanted to take a commemorative photo. So we went out and served, oh my God. All right. All right.
Excuses are complete bullshit. Like I just have to, I just have to euthanize all of them one and ahead, just one at a time, just take them all out behind the garage and shoot them in the head. Cause it's, they're such BS, such total BS. I'm hoping to help people do the same thing where it's come on.
If you're putting someone on a pedestal, it's not because they deserve to be on the pedestal. It's because you don't want to take the responsibility for the fact that the excuse you're giving is total BS. And yeah, I've just seen too many outliers, too many seemingly freaks of nature, do things that it turns out you can replicate with the right recipe, the right crib sheet.
Surfing was a great experience. I also had one day, this was in Kauai and I was out on the water and sitting out there on the water with one of the other coaches and calmly Alexander, I think his last name is who's amazing. And. There's like a sea turtle, went by my feet and then there was a double rainbow, and then we saw a whale and I'm like, you gotta be kidding me.
This is like one of those sort of cheesy murals that you see on the wall with the wave and the dolphin and the Otter underwater in the rainbow. And I was like, yeah. Maybe on a t-shirt that you'd buy it, like fisherman's Wharf, but that stuff doesn't happen. And then it all happened at once in quiet and I was like, all right, you know what?
Even if I am a terrible surfer, I get why people surf. Do you know what I mean? Even if you're a terrible technical surfer, I totally understand why they come out whenever possible to do this. Oh, I've
Srini Rao: been doing it for about seven years. And the minute you stand up for the first time, that's it, your life is divided into two distinct moments
Tim Ferriss: before and after surfing.
Yeah. And I think that's true with a lot of skills, having learned to swim in my thirties it's before and after, like there is before swimming and after swimming and the scope of things that seem possible to me. Yeah. Infinitely larger as a result. And I think that's true with a lot of skills.
And that was true for me, tenfold over with all the experiments. Wow.
Srini Rao: Tim, I know you got to get going here. It seems like we could talk for another hour easily about all the things that you have going on.
So I want to wrap with my final question which is how we close all interviews here at the unmistakable creative. What do you think it is that makes somebody or something unmistakable?
Tim Ferriss: Something that makes someone unmistakable is being different and not just better. And part of doing that is knowing thyself and being true to yourself. Be. Be that weird person, which is yourself. You're not normal. No one is normal, no such thing. And embrace the things that make you unique. Even if you might view them as weaknesses like me, like my inpatients, for instance, I've noticed I've harnessed that and channeled it into specific categories of activities where that is rewarded to the extent possible.
And it's not always a help, but, take that and, And if you think you're quirky and weird, guess what? I bet there are 10,000 people out there who love exactly that type of quirkiness and weirdness. And that is what I've done in my books. That is what I've done on the podcast. And the challenge is with pressure from people outside who might say do this because you'll hit a bigger market, do this.
Cause it'll appeal to these people is sticking to your guns and being consistent. And if you are just yourself and have that consistency, it will set you up.
Srini Rao: Tim, this has been really eye-opening and insightful, and I can't thank you enough for taking the time to join us and share some of your insights and your story and parts of your journey that we haven't heard before with our listeners.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, totally. My pleasure man. And I I would encourage people. I fought for a year to get the rights to, to make these resurrected, but the the TV show I'm putting out all 13 episodes, right? There were the most incredible teachers you've ever seen. And it basically delivers a playbook for becoming a world-class performer that anyone can use.
And it's Tim Ferriss experiment. So on iTunes, you can find it itunes.com forward slash timferriss with two R's, two S's. And then if you want extras and extended scenes conversations with a layered and Titus that didn't make it into the show. For instance, then you can go and find that a four-hour workweek.com forward slash TV.