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"Optimal minimal." "I did this altitude I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking." "Can I also do a personal question?" "Now what a scene I've brought back time." "I'm a cybernetic organism living to show a metal antoscourate." "My damn Ferris Show." Books I've loved on The Tim Ferriss Show is exclusively brought to you by Audible. There couldn't be a better sponsor for this series. My dear listeners and readers, I have used Audible for so many years. As long as I can remember, I love it. Audible has the largest selection of audiobooks on the planet. I listen when I'm taking walks. I listen while I'm cooking. I listen whenever I can. And if you're looking for a place to start, I can recommend three of my favorites. The first is The Tao of Seneca by Seneca. If you want to hear my favorite letters of all time, touches on stoic philosophy, calmness under duress, etc. The next is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, G-A-I-M-A-N. One of my favorites, even if you're a nonfiction purist, this is the fiction book that you need to listen to. Neil also has perhaps the most calming voice of all time. And third, Greg McEwen's essentialism, subtitle The Discipline to Pursuit of Less. This is one of my favorite books of the past few years, combines very well with the 80/20 principle. But more on Audible. Every month, Audible members get one credit for any audiobook on the site, plus a choice of multiple Audible Originals from a rotating selection. They also get access to daily news digests from the likes of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, as well as guided meditation programs. And here are some other amazing Audible features. And I use a bunch of these. You can download titles and listen offline anytime, anywhere. I use this feature even when I could get access. I'll put my phone on, say, airplane mode, because I don't want to get bothered with notifications and I'm taking a walk to clear my head. And you can listen to titles offline in a case like that, or on a plane or whatever. Obviously, I'm not flying much these days. The app is free and can be installed on all smartphones and tablets. You can listen across devices without losing your spot. And Whisper Sync is another feature I use quite a lot. I love reading my Kindle in bed, for instance, then picking up at the same exact spot where I left off when I go walking and listening the next day. Kindle and audio versions can be synced up automatically. It's just amazing. And if you can't decide what to listen to, don't sweat it. You don't have to rush. You can keep your credits for up to a year and use them, for instance, to binge on a whole series, if you like. Audible offers just about everything. Podcasts, guided wellness programs, theatrical performances, A-list comedy, and Audible Originals you won't find anywhere else. And right now, Audible is offering you guys, that's Tim Ferris Show listeners, a free audiobook with a 30-day trial membership. And again, my list, if you want to check them out, the TOW of Seneca, the Graveyard Book, Essentialism, those are just three. There's so many good ones out there. Just go to audible.com/tim and browse the unmatched selection of audio programs. Then download your free title and start listening. It's that easy. So check it out. Go to audible.com/tim or text Tim T-I-M to 500-500 to get started today. Check it out audible.com/tim. Hello boys and girls, ladies and germs. This is Tim Ferris. Welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferris Show, where it is usually my job to sit down with world-class performers of all different types, startup founders, investors, chess champions, Olympic athletes. You name it to tease out the habits that you can apply in your own lives. This episode, however, is an experiment and part of a short-form series that I'm doing, simply called Books I've Loved. I've invited some amazing past guests, close friends and new faces to share their favorite books, describe their favorite books, the books that have influenced them, changed them, transformed them for the better. And I hope you pick up one or two new mentors in the form of books from this new series and apply the lessons in your own life. I had a lot of fun putting this together, inviting these people to participate and have learned so, so much myself. I hope that is also the case for you. Please enjoy. Hi, Tim Ferris listeners. It's Whitney Cummings. Thank you so much for letting me do this, Tim. I'm only picking two books because I just wanted to keep it kind of short and sweet.
Main Discussion Points
The Gift of Fear (04:40)
The first one that I wanted to suggest is a book by Gavin De Becker. It's called The Gift of Fear, Survival Signals that Protect Us. It's a lot about stalkers and violence and stuff like that, but there's a lot of invaluable advice around hiring people and drawing boundaries with people, vetting people for people that want to be highly productive, for people that want to have their weekends off, for people who want to have a drama-free workplace, for people who don't want to spend their time and emotional energy on difficult people. This is a pretty transformative book in terms of learning how to trust your gut and not dismiss red flags or write them off. I spent a lot of time working with people that were exhausting, egomaniacs, difficult people, people who would be kind of a time-suck in terms of managing their emotions or people that interpret a constructive criticism as rejection. Then I felt like I had to take care of their feelings. For someone that has those feelings, I also recommend Melanie Beatty's book, Codependent No More and the Adult Child of Alcoholics Big Book, ACA Big Book. If you've done that work and you know you're not being codependent, it turns out someone's just being really difficult. This book is pretty wonderful for not dismissing your own gut instincts because a lot of times when someone's difficult, you want to go, "Well, I'm probably just being sensitive," or, "I probably was too harsh," or, "I probably should have handled it this way," or, "I shouldn't have sent an email that was that direct when you start blaming yourself." There's something I want to read to you so I can start getting more specific on 123, page 123 of the gift of fear. He writes, "If you tell someone 10 times that you don't want to talk to him, you are talking to him. Nine more times than you wanted to. If you call him back after he leaves 20 messages, you simply teach him the cost of getting a callback is 20 messages." I love that because I don't think I understood that setting a boundary isn't always setting a boundary. It's setting a boundary for yourself. If someone doesn't respect your boundary, you don't just keep setting the boundary. You just have to completely disengage with the person. If they don't have the emotional intelligence, acumen, or the ability to read a situation in a way that's appropriate. It took me a long time to stop engaging in inappropriate behavior at the workplace. For me, if it was like, "I just have to spend an hour every day with this person to get them to act the way I want them to," that's an hour more a day that I need to be spending with this person. This book really helped me understand that sometimes the only way to win is to not play. Sometimes the best strategy is a masterful retreat when it comes to crazy people that are just not able to take a hint. I highly recommend digging into that chapter. There's a great story about this person who is at a workplace who is becoming a problem. I highly recommend that. I also earmarked page 158 for some reason. Oh, yes, I did. It's about references. When you're working with people getting references, I've made a lot of hiring mistakes because I tend to hire people because we get along really well. We have really good chemistry or this person's so funny. We're both from DC. We've all had those things where we want to hire someone that we actually should have just been friends with instead of someone we should actually be working with eight hours a day in high-stakes situations. I've made this mistake before. I used to never ask around about people. I used to never get references. I used to never call. You'd see references on resume. I'd be like, oh, well, obviously, if there are numbers there, that counts. Easy enough. I think I like to now spend way more time hiring. It helps me save time later in drama, frankly. On 158, the failure to take the obvious step of calling references is an epidemic in America. I have little patients for managers who complain about employees that didn't care enough to assess before hiring. A common excuse for this failure is the references will say only good things since the candidate has prepared them for the call.
Do research before hiring people (08:52)
In fact, there is a tremendous amount of information to be gained from references in terms of confirming facts on an application. Did you know him when he worked for such-and-such firm? When did he work for such-and-such firm? Do you know roughly what salary he was making? Do you know what school he went to? You said you went to school with him. I suggest the questions asked of those listed as references be guided by information on the application. The most important thing references can give you are other references. We call these people "develop sources." These are people who know the applicant but whom he did not list as references. Accordingly, they are not prepared for your inquiry and will be more likely to provide valuable information. You get the names of developed sources by asking the references the applicant listed for the names of the people who know him. I'm reading that now and for some reason it sounds really hard to understand, but it basically means ask the references for other references so it's people that weren't necessarily prepared for your call. Do research before you hire people. The same way you would vet someone you date, someone you marry, someone you have in your home, vet people that you work with that will save you a lot of time and emotional energy in the long run and you will be more prolific, productive, and happy. On page 282, there's a great section on public speaking.
How to overcome the fear of public speaking (10:10)
A lot of people these days, if you're starting a business, if you want to be a performer, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to be able to speak in public. And I think even now, if you only want to be a behind the scenes business person, investor, whatever, you also have to speak at panels. You have to do TED Talks. You have to do a YouTube channel. Public speaking now isn't really optional. Social media, YouTube, so there's kind of a great section on that. And it's a section that's about rules. What you fear is rarely what you think you fear. It's what you linked to fear. There's a whole section about fear in public speaking. "Surveys have shown that ranking very close to the fear of death is the fear of public speaking. Why would someone feel profound fear deep in his or her stomach about public speaking, which is so far from death because it isn't so far from death when we link it? Those who fear public speaking actually fear the loss of identity that attaches to performing badly, and that is firmly rooted in our survival needs for all social animals from ants to antelopes. Identity is the past card to inclusion and inclusion is the key to survival. If a baby loses its identity, as the child of its parents, a possible outcome is abandonment. For a human infant, that means death. As adults, without identity, as a member of the tribe or village, community or culture, a likely outcome is banishment and death. So fear of getting up and addressing 500 people and the annual convention of professionals in your field is not just the fear of embarrassment, it's linked to the fear of being perceived as incompetent, which is linked to the fear of loss of employment, loss of home, loss of family, your ability to contribute to society, your value, in short, your identity, and your life. Linking an unwarranted fear is the ultimate terrible destination that usually helps alleviate that fear. Then you may find that public speaking can link to death. You'll see that that would be a long and unlikely trip. Just a really great chapter on fear and public speaking and how we link things in our brains. That stuff just fascinates me and I think is really important for anyone that wants to be successful, quite frankly. Highly recommend the Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. The second book I'm going to recommend is a title that I just hardly can say out loud.
The importance of a supportive personal life (12:13)
It's so embarrassing, but it is such an incredible book. It is called Getting the Love You Want, a guide for couples. I can't even say it without laughing. I remember when I first bought this book, I had to do it in person. It was kind of before Amazon. I went to Barnes & Noble back when that was a store and I went up to the guy and I was like, "Can I get this book? It's called Getting the Love You." I had to whisper it in the bookstore. I was so embarrassed to say it. Then he said it over the loudspeaker who was like, "Getting the love you want, aisle two." It was very embarrassing. The book is so unbelievable. It's by Harville Hendricks and Helen Kelly Lunt. Harville Hendricks is really famous for developing a mago therapy. Before I read a chapter to you, I talk about this a lot, but I think that the relationship you're in is a business decision. I know most of Tim Ferriss' listeners are chiming in for great business advice, productivity advice. The person you choose to be your partner is a business decision. The amount of money that you're saving depends on that person. The amount of time you're putting in your business depends on that choice. The amount of emotional energy that you have depends on that choice. The amount of support you get. I feel very strongly that in order to be brave and take risks in your professional life, you have to have a very stable, safe, supportive personal life. I'm a big fan of anyone that wants to achieve wildly astronomical goals. You have to make sure that your home is in order as well and that your heart is in order. I think it's important that anybody that wants to be successful in any part of their lives understands neurology and neurochemistry. You guys have heard me blather on about this. On page 45 of "Getting the Love You Want," what causes the rush of good feelings that we all call romantic love. Scientists who study natural hormones and chemicals tell us that lovers are literally high on drugs, substances that flood their bodies with a sense of well-being. During the attraction phase of a relationship, the brain releases more dopamine and norephinephrine, two of the body's neurotransmitters. These chemicals help contribute to a rosy outlook on life, rapid pulse, increased energy, and a sense of heightened perception. Oxytocin is enhanced as well. It's a potent hormone that plays a role in many aspects of our lives, including childbirth, nursing, orgasm, and bonding of mother and child and social connections between individuals. Some refer to it as the love sex hormone. During the phase, when lovers want to be together every moment of the day, the brain also ramps up its production of endorphins, natural narcotics that enhance the sense of security and comfort. You guys might know this on some level, but I think it's really important that people understand that being in love, being attracted to somebody, being in a new, intense, passionate relationship, you're literally high on drugs. It can be a huge distraction to your work life. If it ends up lasting, that's great. But for the most part, I've worked a lot of people ask me, "How do you do work so hard? How do you have so much time?" I really try to limit the amount of, in my past, rampant love affairs because most of it is just neurochemicals. Not everyone is the one, and that's okay. But I think the really intense, passionate relationships can be a giant distraction, ultimately, from the goals that you want to achieve. I always think it's important that people really understand, because you can meet someone and then lose four months of your life to someone that you're like, "I don't even like that person. I was just high on neurochemicals." That was a big waste of time. We learned something from every relationship we're in, but I see a lot of people's careers suffering because they get distracted by relationships that ultimately don't yield that much, and lessons that they quite frankly don't need to learn. Page 73, there's a great chapter on the stages of a power struggle in a relationship.
Predictable stages of grief in a power struggle (16:02)
When you and your partner are immersed in a power struggle, you have little sense of when it all started or how it will end. But from an outside perspective, the power struggle has predictable course, one that parallels the well-documented stages of grief in a bereaved person. I'm not going to read that whole chapter to you, but that's a really interesting one. And then on page 115, there's a big chapter on empathizing and being able to see your partner's inner world to understand, because sometimes we say something and it's not received the way we intend it to be received, and we get so confused. How can they not understand what we're saying because they're seeing it through the lens of their own experience, trauma, parenting, and neurology. So there's a great exercise on how to empathize with your partner. And when you're in a disagreement, you repeat what the other person says. It's a pretty great exercise because how often are we in relationships and we say something and the other person completely contorts it and twists it. And you're like, that's not what I said. And then you start fighting about fighting. You're not even fighting about the thing to bring. What were you even fighting about? So what you do to minimize the amount of time that you're in one of these altercations or power struggles, if I say, I'm uncomfortable that you showed up late. The other person has to say, I hear that you're uncomfortable that I showed up late, but this, this, and this. And then I have to go, well, I hear that this, this, and this, but you know, so you have to mirror what the other person says so that you're actually having a productive conversation that just doesn't turn into, you know, your childhood circumstances and trauma responses clashing and being a ultimately complete waste of time because I know Tim Ferriss listeners are very possessive about their precious time. This book is a lot about how we are attracted to people that have the negative qualities of our primary caretakers.
How we are attracted to partners (17:39)
I find that to be incredibly important information just to know that that is how we lean. In general, our brains want to finish unfinished business. In our work life and our professional life and our friendships, we tend to be attracted to people who have the negative qualities of our primary caretakers. So when you're going out on dates, when you're selecting a mate, when you're selecting friends, when you're hiring employees, it's important that you understand that that is going to be what we're attracted to. And often when we're attracted to the people that have the negative qualities of our primary caretakers, it turns into this thing that we've been marketed as being called chemistry. I have great chemistry with that person, but it really could just be your inner child going, "Mom, is that you? Dada?" And then we end up just having our inner child run the show. And for the most part, the people I end up working with are not the people that I have amazing chemistry with necessarily. It's the people that hear me when I say something, have direct, clear communication. The people that you work with do not have to be the people you hang out with all the time and text with all day. You don't have to be besties with the people you work with. I think between these two books, it's a really good way to make sort of emotion-free, clear, logical hiring and partnering decisions so that you're acting from your brain and not your heart. And so your inner child's not running the show. So again, I recommended Melanie Beatty, "Code of Penance No More," "Getting the Love You Want," from Harville Hendricks, "And the Gift of Fear," "Survival Signals That Protect Us," by Gavin De Becker.
Recommended reading (19:25)
Hey guys, this is Tim again, just a few more things before you take off. Number one, this is "Fiblet Friday." Do you want to get a short email from me? Would you enjoy getting a short email from me every Friday that provides a little more soul of fun before the weekend? And "Fiblet Friday" is a very short email where I share the coolest things I've found or that I've been pondering over the week. That could include favorite new albums that I've discovered, it could include gizmos and gadgets and all sorts of weird shit that I've somehow dug up in the world of the esoteric as I do. It could include favorite articles that I've read and that I've shared with my close friends, for instance. And it's very short, it's just a little tiny bite of goodness before you head off for the weekend. So if you want to receive that, check it out, just go to fourhourworkweek.com, that's fourhourworkweek.com, I'll spell it out and just drop in your email and you will get the very next one. And if you sign up, I hope you enjoy it.