Discipline, Sex, Psychedelics — The Return of Drunk Dialing | The Tim Ferriss Show (Podcast) | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Discipline, Sex, Psychedelics — The Return of Drunk Dialing | The Tim Ferriss Show (Podcast)".

1970-01-01T04:14:58.000Z

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Introduction

Intro (00:00)

At this altitude I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Can I answer your personal question? No, I would have seen it at the perfect time. What if I did the opposite? I'm a cybernetic organism living tissue over a metal endoskeleton. The 10th Paris Show.


Sponsorships And Discussion Topics

This episode is brought to you by Peloton. I had heard about Peloton over and over again but I ended up getting a Peloton bike in the whole system after I saw my buddy Kevin Rose. I've known him forever, some of you know. He showed up at my gate at my house a while back and he looked fantastic. I asked him, "Dude, you look great. What the hell have you been up to?" He's always doing a weird diet or another but it only lasts a week or two. He always regresses to the mean after 75 beers. He said, "I've been doing Peloton 5 days a week." That caught my attention because Kevin does nothing 5 days a week. You know I love you Kevin. It really piqued my curiosity, ended up getting a system and it's become an integral part of my week. I love it and I really didn't expect to love it at all because I find cycling really boring usually. Peloton is an indoor cycling bike that brings live studio classes right into your home. You don't have to worry about fitting classes into your schedule or making it to a studio with some type of commute etc. New classes are added every day and this includes options led by elite New York City instructors in your own living room. You can even live stream studio classes taught by the world's best instructors or find your own favorite class on demand. In fact, Kevin and I rarely do live classes and you can compete with your friends which is also fun. Kevin, I'm coming after you. But we usually just use classes on demand. I really like Matt Wilpers and his high intensity training sessions that are shorter, like 20 minutes. And I think Kevin's favorite is Alex and everyone seems to have their favorite instructor or you can select by music, duration and so on. Each Peloton bike includes a 22 inch HD touch screen, performance tracking metrics. I think that along with the real time leaderboard are the main reasons that this caught my attention when cycling never had caught my attention before. It's really pretty stunning what they've done with the user interface to keep your attention. The belt drive is quiet and it's smaller than you would expect. So it can fit in a living room or an office. I actually have it in a large closet believe it or not and it fits with no problem. Peloton is offering all of you guys, listeners of the Tim Ferriss show a special offer and it is actually special. Visit One Peloton, that's O-N-E-P-E-L-O-T-O-N, One Peloton dot com and enter the code TIM at checkout to receive $100 off accessories with your Peloton bike purchase. Now you might say, "Meh, accessories? Wait, I don't need fancy towels or whatever other supplemental bits and pieces." No, the shoes you need. You need the clip-in shoes and those are in the accessory category. So this $100 off is a very legit $100 off. So if you want to get in your workouts, if you want a convenient and really entertaining way to do high intensity interval training or anything else, or you just want to get a fantastic gift for someone, check out Peloton. One Peloton dot com and enter the code TIM. Again that's O-N-E-P-E-L-O-T-O-N dot com and enter the code TIM at checkout to receive $100 off any accessories including the shoes that you will want to get. Check it out. One Peloton dot com. Code TIM. This episode is sponsored by Sotheby's and Sotheby's Wine, which offers a selection of the world's best wines for every palate and occasion.


Many of you know I do like my wine. I do love wine. Must be the Malbec from Argentina when I was down there. Or maybe it's the Zinfandel from California, but I like it all. I like lots and lots of wine. Sotheby's, as many of you may know, is a global auctioneer. They auction off many, many, many different types of things. They're also a retailer of fine wine with locations in New York, London, and Hong Kong. They recently created an online store where you can buy wine directly. You might think, well that's for millionaires and billionaires. I don't go to auction houses, but the wines that they sell range from $14 per bottle all the way up to $25,000, let's say. Sotheby's allows you to sort by region, great producer, or you can search for a particular bottle or by your budget, which is probably where I would go. If you're gifting wine, Sotheby's suggests Champagne, Red Bordeaux, Burgundy, or Californian wines. And if you want my opinion, I would say, you know, try a Zinfandel, if you haven't tried a Zinfandel from California. But in any case, just one restriction at this time, Sotheby's can only ship to New York, California, D.C., New Hampshire, and Idaho. So I'll say that one more time. And I'll put it a different way. If you are in, or shipping to, New York, California, D.C., New Hampshire, or Idaho, check it out, because that's where the wine can currently be shipped. So visit Sotheby's Wine dot com. That's S-O-T-H-E-B-Y-S. Sotheby's Wine dot com. And use the promo code TIM, T-I-M, to get 10% off of your first order. Again, that's Sotheby's Wine dot com. And use promo code TIM for 10% off of your delicious wine. Check it out.


What the hell is going on? (05:40)

Why hello there, and welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferriss Show. This is Tim Ferriss. And it is typically my job to share the habits and routines of world-class performers, of all different types, as well as try to spot the patterns amongst them and talk about that. This episode is a rare exception to the rule, and unlike my usual long-form interviews, this is a drunk dialing Q&A with you guys, my listeners. So what does that mean? I've done this a few times in the past, including for the celebration of the 100th episode of this podcast. We're at more than 300 now, so it's been a while. And here's how it works. In preparation for this episode, I went on the social media and pointed people to a Google form where they could input their phone numbers and so on. And those people are listeners who want to receive a call from me. Then I said, "Hey, from this time to this time, I'm going to be making phone calls." And I started drinking and dialing, answering your questions and getting a little frisky along the way. Tequila will do that. And we covered a lot. In this episode, I cover all sorts of things, including how Jocko Willink has made me more disciplined, my thoughts on sex as a doorway to higher perception. That was not a topic I expected to get into. And you name it, we cover it. We talk about past addiction to stimulants that I've had and how I've weaned myself off of said stimulants or at least prioritized abstinence from stimulants. How I determine if a project is working or not. Put another way, how do I decide when I should persevere or quit a project, stop something and move on? And after all, the fastest way to complete something is to leave it undone forever. So that's one topic that we dig into. How I think about teaching and much, much more. So I'll leave it at that. Without further ado, please enjoy this tequila-fueled Q&A with you guys.


And thanks for being game. Here we go. Hello? Hi, is this Brendan? Is this Tim Ferriss? It is Tim Ferriss. Good evening. Why? Oh my goodness, this is crazy. Oh man. Where am I finding you? I'm doing great. Where are you right now? I'm actually probably about three hours north of where I assume you are. I'm in Dallas, Texas. Oh nice. It's a fine town. It's a fine town, Dallas. Yeah, have you been through here much or no? I've been here. I've been here. I've been there. That's the alcohol talking. Excuse me. I have been there a handful of times as well as Fort Worth, but I've always spent more time in the Austin area. Understandably so. It's a fine, fine community. I was just actually down there yesterday. Very nice. For South By or what were you down here for? No, I just went down to go to the Honor Academy and then to get a little workout in and synchronistically enough, you released that podcast with Aubrey just yesterday. I listened to that on the drive back. It's a great gym. So I tell you what, I've got a bunch of phone calls to make, a bunch of booze to drink. So how can I attempt to help? What type of questions might I take a stab at? Good. Good question because I know you collect them. So I actually took a little bit of time once I saw that tweet. I was expecting this phone call. So an easy one that I just wanted to ask because it's been one of the biggest things that you've helped me with of all the people that you've introduced me to. So all your work is juggle willing. So I wanted to know just from your perspective, has having him around in your life made you more disciplined? That is a fine question. Yes. So having Jaco around in my life, which I will say is also virtual, even though I know Jaco very well. I just spoke to him yesterday on the phone. But simply knowing that Jaco exists in the universe makes me feel like I have a very benevolent yet strict guardian angel who will most certainly give me an occasional pat on the back, but more often a kick in the ass to actually do what needs being done. So Jaco, I think exemplifies for me at least the importance of deciding to embody a given attribute as a means to developing that attribute. So of course, Jaco is well known for saying, "If you want to be tougher, be tougher." Simply meaning in that context that if you want to be tougher, it's not a six month plan. It's not a two year plan. It's not a progression. It is, "Do I choose the stairs instead of the elevator when I get up from this table and I need to go to another floor?" And it can be a small decision. It can be a big decision. But you want to immediately start making decisions that reflect the characteristic you want to develop. And that I think is very powerful. And also, quite frankly, the simplicity of Jaco's approach to many things, including physical fitness and training. Yeah, I got his book after listening to your podcast and some of his, even the beginner workouts in where they're so simply put together but difficult to execute with correct form and the public cadence and everything like that. I think that his principle is simple from extreme ownership. It's like, just don't overcomplicate things. And I think that in a way, simplicity is an expression of elegance. It is, absolutely. And also the fact that Jaco does not accept excuses in his own life and certainly doesn't accept them from other people. And as one example, if he's traveling, and you know this from having read the last book, but if he's traveling and he wants to do pull-ups and he doesn't have any pull-up bar nearby, let's say in a hotel, he will take a towel, go to the parking garage, find something from which he can hang effectively using the towel, like throw it over a bar or something like that, and he'll do pull-ups. Yeah, like a pipe or like even a little... Exactly. Right. So, for those of you who don't have the context, Jaco Willink is a legendary former, or I should say retired, Navy SEAL commander. He was in charge at one point of all West Coast training for Navy SEAL teams, which are certainly realistic, hyper-realistic, one might even call psychotic. He's a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and can do, last I heard, 67 strict pull-ups at a body weight of somewhere between 215 and 230. So the guy is an absolute animal. Yeah, he's a monster. He's a monster. And then just a mental monster, too. The way he approaches life is just so... It's a different kind of inspiration and motivation. It's like a really self-examinatory look at yourself and just be realistic about how many hours you're willing to put in a day. A lot of people, if they could be night owls and they might stay up until 4.30, or so long as you're putting in work between midnight and 6 a.m. at some point, you're still ahead of most people, regardless of if that's before you go to sleep or when you get up. Yep. So if you want to also see the most hilarious Twitter Q&A as imaginable, you can follow Jocko Welling on Twitter. Okay, so enough Jocko. I love Jocko. Enough Jocko, yeah. I know, I know. I didn't want to just plug it, but he's a great dude. He's been one of the most influential of all the people you've introduced me to.


What are you drinking? (13:20)

I just wanted to wrap up with one thing. Do you remember? Oh, you know what? I should say, I apologize, just to interrupt. I will say if people want to get to know Jocko, the very first interview he ever did publicly was on my podcast, so you can just go to Tim.blog/Jocko. Yeah, you've got a monster loose. For producing the video he came out with just a day or two days ago, it's about the clock running out. People should check out his YouTube channel because it's two and a half minutes or something. It's amazing. Yeah, so I've helped to create, or rather just really unleash on the internet a monster known as Jocko Welling, so enjoy. Okay, so what's next? One quick one. Are you drinking Malbec or what are you having? I'm drinking Casa Dragones Sipping Tequila, in this case 100% Puro Agave Azul. It's from San Miguel de Allende and it is Tequila Blanco. It's nice stuff. Ora Ale. Cool, so the last question is, actually we met. Do you know that? Do you remember that? It was at Cross Campus LA. You did a meet and greet. Oh, I remember Cross Campus. Yeah, so I flew up from Dallas, actually that town, and got to interact with you a little bit. It was pretty cool. I think I met you in this hallway space. It was way in the back of the room behind the main stage, kind of on my way to get a drink and go to the bathroom. I think I actually, you kind of stepped in front of a few people and I met you there, if I remember correctly. Yeah, I remember that and then there was also you getting swarmed by people. I remember at the very beginning you were like, "Yeah, please, I'm not taking setup pitches right now." And it was just like as soon as there was a break for coffee, you went to go for the coffee and it was just swarmed with people asking about, "Oh, would you check this product out?" Like this guy from Soylent was there. It was like all these people were just swarming you and then I got a second to talk to you and I was just like, "I just want to say thank you and I still do want to say thank you today, man. I'm really grateful for everything that you've really led me towards in my life."


Trying everything and filtering the best (15:32)

I basically, you're one of the best decision-making or content filtering algorithms that I've ever found because if you vet something, it's already like so much of the legwork is done and I just trust you on like, you're driven for research and helping people. I would never betray that trust. I mean, I really work hard to not succumb to the temptation to loosen that filter. It can be very challenging. It's very expensive. But I know how valuable that is to me. I have friends who act as filters, certainly, and it's largely thanks to the value that I've derived from them that I want to try to serve the same function for people in the wider world. I hope that I can hopefully try a thousand things and a lot of bullshit and distill the two or three that are actually worth a second look. Thank you so much for calling. I want to be respectful of everybody else on your list, too. I could talk to you forever, man. You've been a huge inspiration in my life. Thank you so much. My pleasure, man. Any requests for the podcast? Types of people? Specific people? Or anything else? Oh, well, what I want to do after having been introduced to your work in 2011, basically I grew up in hospitality as a chef for many of the last years and was unable to sustain a healthy lifestyle. There's no such thing as work-life balance if you're a true chef cooking real food in a high pressure fine dining environment where everything's made from scratch. I know you know that from your research and going through with the 4-Hour Chef, but it's a pretty widespread, unknown issue in the States right now that there's not enough skilled labor in kitchens. Not just kitchens, restaurants in general. So I don't know. I want to make a difference in that industry on a bigger scale. I want to put together a website and have a ton of ideas in the realm of trying to help people in that specific genre of, well, I should say niche of the workplace. But because I have so much experience, like I grew up in a restaurant when my mom was raising me. I was basically always in a restaurant. And then coming down to Dallas, Texas, there's just so much opportunity down here and I got a real sense for the labor market and kind of did some research. And it's not just the Dallas labor market. I'm sure, you know, anybody listening in any city right now that has anything to do with restaurants can attest to the fact that good helps harder to find than ever because the market's oversaturated and it's easier to get loans to open restaurants and whatever the case may be macroeconomically. But I just want to make a difference. So if anybody's interested, they can get at me on Twitter at @mul2j27. I just want to start a bigger conversation around this and put out content to help people in restaurants. All right, here, here. Well, good luck. And I'll see you on the internet, maybe in Texas. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. If you ever want to come up to Dallas, just hit me up and I'll probably show you some parts of the city that you didn't see. All right, man. Well, I'll see you on the road and take it easy. Absolutely. Bye.


Diana - What states of higher perception can we cultivate through training? (18:56)

Hello? Hi, is this Diana? Yeah, this is Diana. I was hoping I would get the pronunciation right. This is Tim Ferriss. Good evening. How are you? Whoa, hello. I can't believe I made it. You made it. You were the second person to fill the form out. So you were very, very fast on the draw. Awesome. Thank you for coming. My pleasure. What question or questions can I tackle for you? My question. Well, I have a couple and I want you to choose. Do you want an easy question? Do you want a hard question? I want whichever question you would be most disappointed not to have asked. Okay. So my biggest interest right now is what states of higher perception can we cultivate through training? And what's coming to me is sex, because sex seems to be a doorway in some cultures or some philosophies. Like I'm thinking Tantra, I'm thinking Taoism, I'm thinking Kama Sutra. And, you know, so I've heard different things and I'm trying to put them together. For example, abstaining from sex, like you were talking to Jack Kornfield or withholding orgasm as a training or multiple partners and open relationships. And let's have a lot of sex, guys, as a way of learning how to deal with your internal stuff. So I'm curious to know what is your experience, if I can assume that you've experimented with all of this, and what do you think? Is that a doorway to higher perception, either of these techniques or all of them or what? What do you think? Yeah, big question. Let me try to take a stab at it. So there are many different components to that question. I would say that in general, my experience has been whenever you take an act or a daily habit, let's just say, such as eating, and you make previously automatic or subconscious decisions conscious, that you can very deliberately change perception. And that can lead many interesting places. That could take the form of, and I will get to sex, but that could take the form of intermittent fasting or fasting, in which case you notice how much of your day is structured around three scheduled meals, whether or not you are hungry. And that brings to you a new appreciation of your automatic behaviors that may or may not be justified. And secondly, gives you a greater appreciation for, in this case, the thing you may abstain from for a certain period of time, which is food. And sex is very similar. I do think that, and I don't know if this is physiological or psychological, but I have engaged in a number of different practices and schools of training where the accepted best practices involve abstaining from sex and furthermore abstaining from orgasm or ejaculation for a period of time, whether that is two weeks or four weeks or a longer period of time. And when you remove any compulsive behavior, and I will just go out on a limb and say I think that masturbation for men in particular can be a compulsive behavior and tool for procrastination, to put it mildly.


Abstinence from orgasm (22:18)

Women maybe also, but I think particularly men. And that when you remove that as an option and you have, for instance, a trip plan where you're going to be engaging in some type of physical practice or exposure to psychedelics or whatever it might be, and it has been clearly expressed to you that your gains will be 3x, 4x, 5x greater if you abstain from this behavior, that is the petri dish, the period of abstinence that can allow you to observe how you react to that. And observing the impulses and the resistance that surfaces I think is really valuable. So I do think that whether or not there is some type of physiological basis to the regeneration or recirculation of chi, for instance, which may or may not be the case, right? I'm very, very skeptical of a lot of this New Age woo-woo stuff. Even though I've read, I believe it's the multi-orgasmic man, Montauk Chia, and I've looked at those exercises and I have experimented with withholding or postponing ejaculation. In some cases where you can use, say, or have a partner use fingers in the perineum with pressure to prevent that from happening mechanically, which I don't actually think, and this is subject to great debate, but it doesn't strike me as the healthiest approach. It's just like sticking a potato in an exhaust pipe or something. It doesn't seem structurally… It doesn't move immediately. Yeah, exactly. It also doesn't seem just very structurally prudent to do. If you, for instance, as a male, and I mean male and female physiology are, of course, very, very different when it comes to sex in multiple respects, but as a man, certainly learning to develop a sensitivity to when you're about to ejaculate and focusing on, say, breathing patterns or visualization that lets you to… allows you to extend the duration of intercourse, I think is tremendously valuable, and it also transcends the bedroom. I think it goes other places. Right. That's my question actually related to creativity and to see if there's a correlation between… I get the discipline and the interrupting of the habitual patterns. I understand that, but I don't know. I haven't experienced personally, does that translate into, "Okay, then I'm more able to perceive nature or be more creative in my writing or be more aware or more present because I'm not giving my energy into this activity."


How abstaining can up your other skills (25:49)

Yeah, I think it's energy. I think it's also cognitive load. The degree to which any given activity is an interruptive thought, and when you remove something like that for a period of time, it ceases to be static in the mind, and therefore your signal-to-noise ratio improves, and ostensibly you should be able to, in my experience, is that you can operate at a higher level when it comes to almost all of your other activities, which is why very often when I'm abstaining from one thing, for instance sex, I'll also abstain from alcohol, I will also abstain from caffeine, and I tend to layer those things on top of one another. Makes sense. How long have you been able to abstain from, say, all the stimulus that distract you from a certain project? Yeah, I did it earlier this year for almost eight weeks, which is a long time for me. I know, six months, and I'm like, "Dude, can I do this?" Yeah, it's a long time, but I found it very, very worthwhile, and it proved to me also that I could do it. And if you wonder whether or not you are addicted to something, you should try to go without it, and you will potentially suffer physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, and your willingness to contend with that will give you a very accurate read of how addicted you are to whatever it is you're abstaining from. My question doesn't come from addiction, it's more about commitment. It's like I've been experimenting with the undulation shower, waking up early in the morning, and man, it's hard to commit to it every single day. It's more the discipline aspect that is exciting to me, because I know that if I tackle that, then I'll get a way bigger picture. Yeah, well, when I say addiction, I'm not talking about addiction to nicotine or caffeine necessarily. I'm also talking about compulsive thought patterns. So, for instance, if you're interested in abstinence of any type or experimenting with that, my recommendation would actually be, if you really want to see very clear return on investment quickly, I would just Google "21-day no complaint experiment" and look for a blog post that I wrote about a 21-day no complaint experiment. And this translates very quickly to multiple domains. When you remove certain patterns of phrasing and not only speaking, but therefore thinking, the way that you relate to the world and the selection bias you use for seeing the good or seeing the bad changes very dramatically. So I would recommend taking a look at that as well. Totally. And that can be very… Yeah, thanks so much. That's great. Yeah, no problem. So if you have…my dog is whining, so I have to take Molly out to pee. But if you want to give me a quick question, she's looking straight into…gazing into my eyes as I record this. So I have to get her outside, but what is…if you have one more question that I can potentially answer quickly, I'm happy to take a stab at it. I have a quick…I don't know if it's a quick question, but another thing in my mind was I know that you are experimenting a lot with psychedelics and how they can be used to treat certain elements or for healing. And I'm just curious as a person…you know, I went to college for anthropology and I work right now with individuals optimizing their performance through different tools. And I'm thinking when is it a good time to encourage somebody to tap into that and how can you guide them safely if you don't have a personal experience of it? I can't recommend that you use psychedelics. You live in the United States and currently the classical psychedelics are under Schedule I, which is in the same class as heroin. So if we're considering side effects, you also have to consider the legal ramifications and potential side effects. What I can suggest is that you investigate something called holotropic breathwork, H-O-L-O-T-R-P-S-A. Psychedelics are one tool in the toolkit for creating a non-ordinary state of consciousness that can provide insights and realizations and also reprogramming that can be applied to different domains, really across the entire spectrum of human experience. But it's not the only tool. It just happens to be a very powerful tool if you want to strap yourself or encourage someone to strap themselves to the front of the icebreaker. But they're not without risks. They're exceptionally powerful and can be used irresponsibly. And that is why I'm lobbying very strongly to shepherd these compounds, specifically MDMA and psilocybin, through Phase III trials along with a handful of other people who are working very, very tirelessly on this, so that they can be administered with medical supervision and trained therapists. I don't think this is that far away if the stars align in a certain sense. And if anybody wants to join me in supporting that, they should check out a few organizations. USONA, U-S-O-N-A, for psilocybin, which is where I'm spending a lot of my own capital and attention. MAPS, maps.org, for MDMA, which is effectively there from a funding perspective for Phase III trials. And then if they want to really come to bat, I'm actually, I haven't talked about this publicly, but I'm going to be, I am committing a million dollars of my own capital to this over the next several years and will be really directing a lot of my attention at this field. So because I cannot recommend at this point that anyone pursue psychedelics with the legal ramifications that exist and also the difficulty in finding responsible, trained, ethical therapists who can support this work. Absolutely. The risk-benefit ratio is really unappealing for most folks. But what I was going to say is if anybody wants to come to the table and believes, as I do, based on both the data and experience, that they have the potential to change and even save lives, say in treatment-resistant depression and other conditions, then people can go to Tim.blog/science if you really have some capital that you'd like to bring to bear on this. So I'll say that, but at this point, I would explore other tools for helping shepherd people through the process.


How to make the most of your breathing exercises. (32:46)

That was exactly what I was, sorry to interrupt, but what I was looking for is where to go to support this research because I don't just want to fall into the hands of whoever, you know what I mean? Like you just said, it's hard to find responsible guidance if you're not in the know. But I know the potential for healing and I totally get it. That is a work in progress and I totally support it. And yeah, you're right. The holotropic breathing is great. It just taps into something, but you don't fully, I haven't been able to fully, fully get the same result and maybe it's a matter of just time and continuous practice. Yeah, I'd say keep practicing and also don't forget the slow and steady, reliable methods at your disposal, which would include, for instance, meditation. Sam Harris has a fantastic new app which will be coming out shortly, the Waking Up app. I would encourage people to take a look at that. There are other options like Calm and Headspace, but when you start to layer these things on top of one another, you also very often see effects that are disproportionate and not additive.


The promising new Waking Up app from Sam Harris. (33:59)

In other words, you take meditation, one unit, holotropic breath work, one unit, and then say hot and cold work, say sauna and ice bath, one unit. You add those up and instead of being three, you get a five or six or seven. So I would encourage you to responsibly experiment. Alright, Diane, I've got to run because I have a list of 20 people to call that I'm going to try to get through. Oh, no, go ahead. Thank you so much. I hope we can at some point connect again and it was amazing to share this time and space with you. Thank you so much for doing this and everything you're putting out there. It's amazing. No problem. My pleasure. And hasta la próxima. Thanks for taking the time. Hasta la próxima. Ciao, Tim. Okay. Bye-bye. This is Robin. Hey, Robin. This is Tim Ferriss. How are you? I'm doing so well, Tim. How are you doing? Oh, splendid. Couldn't be better. And I'm excited to be on the phone with you. So how might I help? We'll see. I could fabricate an answer in an attempt to be helpful. I can't promise it will be of any value. But what's on your mind? What can I potentially help with? Yeah, thank you. I'm delighted to be here. I've admired for, what, 10 years now your work and your sharing your work with people like us who sort of follow along. In that same time, I've built two somewhat successful businesses, a café in San Francisco and an annual conference. But the thing that you've done so successfully that I really am just kind of in awe of is continually hitting success after success in a way that appeals to the same target audience. So I know you've talked about it not always being a success. So 4-hour chef, for example, not doing quite as well as you'd wanted. Or even I remember, what was it, Rust and Iron, the little YouTube show that you did about other people. Sure. Or multiple TV shows that I've attempted on cable and elsewhere. For sure. And yet you continually spring back. So I look at 4-hour work week through to this podcast that appeals to people like me.


Methodology: harnessing a 1+1=5 effect to fuel success. (36:21)

I'm a white male living in the extended Bay Area. I actually just left San Francisco after 10 years, but still in the extended Bay Area in 31. And you're able to create content that appeals to that same audience and then seemingly grow that audience over time. I understand starting niche, but personally and in terms of professionally finding the next hit and then the next hit after that, what do you think, other than maybe luck, has contributed to that ongoing growing success of teaching, essentially, people like you? Cool. This is a good topic to explore. And hopefully my answer isn't underwhelming. I'll try to fuel it with some more tequila to make it more interesting. Let me ask a few clarifying questions, if I could. First of all, you have a shot here. She might as well mention it. What is your café and what is the conference? Thank you. I founded it two years ago. It's called Robin's Café. 17 Couldn't Shot Well in the Mission in San Francisco. And then the conference is about how we work in the 21st century called Responsive Conference. And I bounce back and forth every year between San Francisco and New York. It's responsiveconference.com happening September 24th and 25th in New York this next year. There we go. All right. Cool. This is all going somewhere, but how did you first come into contact with me or any of the content that I've put together, whether it be writing, audio or otherwise? How did you find your way to that? Totally. I think I would have come to it eventually regardless, whether through 4-Hour Workweek or maybe when I came into contact with your material originally. I think it was time just after you had published 4-Hour Body. But I've come to know Jenny Sauerklein is a dear friend, the co-founder of AcroYoga. Yeah, she's great. You've known a little bit. Chris Fussell, the co-author of Team of Teams, was one of my speakers. So I've been peripheral to your work, maybe very peripheral, but sort of circling around for a lot of years. I think the first thing of yours I saw that really hooked me was early on in the Shopify competitions. You had a little video about building online businesses. And at the time I was dabbling with Shopify trying to sell digital content for parents of kids with autism, which was a career of about five years that I had there. And something about your authenticity via video, that then led me to your first TED Talk. That then, funnily enough, led me to 4-Hour Workweek, and I've really been following along since that. Very cool. I appreciate the context. Alright, so let me try to tackle this, and I'll edge into it a few different ways. So the first thing I would say as a caveat is that even if I make a very overt attempt to talk about my failures and missteps and so on, the ratio of successes to failures that make their way onto the internet or my podcast or into the books still presents a very skewed misperception that I succeed a disproportionate amount of the time. And what that does not mean, however, that I am continually failing and then just highlighting the one or two successes. What it means, I think, if I'm trying to look at it as an observer, is that, number one, I increase the likelihood of success by doing one thing very reliably. I'm not even going to say well, but one thing very reliably, and that is try to support and create products or chapters that scratch an itch I have. So it's a very simplistic model. It doesn't always work, but I assume that if something really grabs my attention, that it will grab the attention of at least 10,000 other people on the planet who speak English. And that you start really narrow, and for me, I stick with what I know. And what I know is my daily experience of the things I want, the daily experience of the things that bother me, the daily experience of things that are a huge pain in my ass. The simple path I have found to be most reliable for reaching 10 million people, reaching 100 million people, is starting with the thing that you fucking know the best. And that is your daily experience of pain or desire for pleasure or problems or solutions and sharing that. And really not fucking yourself by overthinking it and getting too sophisticated. Really focus on what you know as an individual and identify the primary pain points.


Maximizing Content Impact And Audience Engagement

Learn about personal problem investing from Tim. (41:52)

And if you can find solutions to those for yourself, generally speaking, that will really transcend any type of category that you fit neatly into and will affect a lot of people. That's been my experience. I can't believe how fucking long that was. Oh my God. Hopefully that's helpful in some capacity, but the reason that I've had the success I've had in investing is because I have set very strict rules, which I sometimes violate to my detriment. But for the most part, I've stuck with very, very simple rules for investing in things that fix a personal problem that I am willing to pay money to fix. Right? And that excludes a lot of companies that have done spectacularly well that I have missed and it doesn't matter. Because it's not about how many you miss, it's about how many you actually get right. And that's true for entrepreneurship as it is for investing.


When results and the psychology line up: avoiding failure by keeping it simple. (42:56)

And I've just tried very, very hard not to outsmart myself. And it makes me think of a quote from Charlie Munger, who's the right-hand investing partner of Warren Buffett. And it is something along the lines of, "It's incredible how far you can go by trying to not be consistently stupid." So you're not trying to outsmart everyone, you're just trying not to be consistently stupid. And what I would put into the consistently stupid category is really trying to project and hypothesize too much when it comes to entrepreneurship or investing. Focus on what's right in front of you and it can take you really far. So I apologize for how long that took, but this is something that I feel very strongly about because the results are so clear to me when people pay attention to it. So there you have it. Yeah. Nice. I'm reminded of what I think it was Warren Buffett who told you at the shareholder meeting of if you have money to invest, invest it in the stock market and get back to work. Yeah, invest it in the S&P 500 and get back to work. It's like the most disappointing answer from a hero ever, but in retrospect it made a lot of sense. It's like, "Hey, if this isn't your game, if this isn't your stock picking game, then you shouldn't play it because you get your face ripped off." So it's like, "Put your money in the S&P 500 and get back to work." Yeah. And then psychographic. So regardless of what a person looks like or sounds like or where they live, the focus on specific problems that I as an individual have and who do I want to help those people like me become, whether they look like me or not, doing that consistently and showing up again and again and getting back to work. Yeah, totally. Let me add a few things also because I don't want this to seem too high concept, 30,000 feet. And that is I avoid a lot of big failures by failing quickly with a lot of low cost tests.


How to detach yourself from something your audience doesn't respond to (45:09)

And that means, for instance, Rust and Iron, you mentioned, which is this... And who knows, maybe it'll be resurrected, but it didn't get nearly the kind of attention that I would have hoped given how excited I was about it. So some of these don't work. And for those who don't know, this was a very short video series. I put up a few of them on YouTube, so youtube.com/timferris, which were tours of gyms. So think cribs for gyms. Right? Endlessly fascinating to me. It turns out most of the world doesn't give a single shit about it. And I did a few of these and they were... I filmed them on... Actually, one of them was just with an iPhone, with Kelly Starrett. And then a handful of others with Mark Bell and so on were with much nicer cameras, but those experiments cost a few hundred dollars apiece, maybe a little bit more. And I decided for myself what the max allowable cost was. So how much am I willing to sink into this to arrive at a decision as to whether to continue or not? It was like, okay, a few thousand bucks, I'm willing to put that in. And depending on where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, that might be 80 bucks. It might be zero dollars. It might be, if you have much more to play with in terms of capital, it might be a million dollars. But in this case, I was like, you know what? This isn't a revenue driver. It's really just for fucking shits and giggles to see if people respond to it well or not. So I went to the box over a period of two months and see what happened. And what happened was fucking crickets. And I was like, okay, well, we're not going to do any more of those unless I receive some type of information that directly and powerfully in some meaningful way contradicts this F+ grade that I just got in this experiment. So if you don't mind going into the specifics, how do you determine like, I just launched a tiny little podcast called Vanderstrong, my last name being Vander. And again, it was crickets. But like, I know I could ask everyone I know to leave a review on iTunes for that project. Right? If you direct your audience again and again towards a couple of videos, those videos will explode. If you wanted to get sponsorship, I think you probably could. So how do you determine crickets and that your audience, your psychographic was not interested in Russ and I? Yeah, so there's. All right. So if we're looking at just to digress, but not really digress into a related topic. If you look at investment pitches from startups as a venture capitalist or angel investor, you will surprise, surprise, see the same graph and a lot of them.


Planning feedback percentages by testing your content (47:56)

Wow. It looks like a hockey stick up into the right. Fantastic. And the question that any investor should ask among others is what percentage of this growth is represented through organic growth and what percentage of this growth is represented through paid acquisition? Because founders being incentivized as they are will very often go into the dark arts and take some of their pre-existing funding or whatever money they might have through cash flow or other means and invest it in artificially boosting the numbers. Right? And you can do this in an attempt to trick yourself as well. And I think it's Richard Feynman who said, "Physicist, anyone who wants to read a fantastic book should read 'Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman'", one of my favorites. In any case, he said, "Rule number one is you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool." So I really try to A) focus on real metrics versus vanity metrics. And I would put in vanity metrics almost every fucking buzzword du jour that you can imagine, like engagement. I think it just does not fucking matter for the most part. I will look at, and I cannot say this applies to everyone, I can tell you how I will evaluate these things. Okay? So I will look at the, and it's partially to determine whether something is dead on arrival with no hope of revival or if I'm performing an experiment and it's 10% off.


Use patterns in comments instead of sheer numbers (49:41)

And if I tweak that 10%, it could explode, which is sometimes the case. So if we look at Rust and Iron specifically, I'm not just looking at the view count, I'm looking at the comments. And this is a subjective, not even going to say science, art, but it's a bit of a gestalt pattern matching type of process that I'll go through where I will look for intensity of feedback. So if I look at the 30 comments, I will look at the 30 and I'll primarily look at the people who love it because it doesn't matter how many people don't get it, it matters how many people do get it. You can have 90% of the people in a given city hate your fucking business more than anything on the planet. But if 10% of San Francisco loves your cafe, you are fucking set. You know what I mean? You are set. It doesn't matter. You are going to have a super mega home run on your hands. It doesn't matter how many people don't get it, it matters how many people do get it. So I'll pay attention to the positive feedback. And if the positive feedback is along the lines of, "Oh my God, this would be the best thing I've ever seen in my life. I really loved A, B, and C, but it would be great to have this and this." If I see that type of feedback over and over again, I will test again. This is also related to my editing process for books. When I edit books, I will ask people, which for instance, and these are almost always friends of mine who are writers that I ask to do this, although lawyers are very good at editing because they can find sloppy thinking in words that shouldn't be there, or ambiguous wording and thinking, I will ask them to identify the 10% they would absolutely keep if I had to cut everything else and the 10% they would cut no matter what, or the 10% they would cut if they had to. It takes only one person to love something more than the other 90% for me to keep it in the book, but it takes more of a consensus for me to cut something. Does that make sense? If somebody absolutely loves something, even if nobody else mentions it, it stays in. Because my assumption is there are at least 10,000 more people who care about that. I don't want to live in the comfortable middle ground, which is the gray of "I like this," because that is where you die. If you make something you think everyone will like, you're going to make something no one will love. I try very hard to straddle that, and not deliberately create things that people will hate, but in the process of selecting for things that people love, the side effect will be that in this pendulum of public opinion, you will have people who hate it almost by definition. So that is how I would look at something like Rust and Iron, and I didn't have an overwhelmingly strong response, even from a minority. They did not offer, and this is an indicator of liking something and feeling highly invested, I did not get a lot of quality, constructive feedback. In other words, "Hey, this car is fantastic. It's a Ferrari, but the front suspension is fucked. If you fix that, it would be a home run." I didn't get that type of feedback, and that's part of the reason why I shelved it. It's not dead forever, but it might be. Whereas, in the podcast case, and here is another layer that I would add to it, it's not just what other people think. In other words, with the podcast, I was willing to slog through some fucking awful first episodes, and they weren't all terrible, but some of them were. Let's be honest, I've done 300 now. Hopefully it's better. But some of the original episodes were really rough, and I slogged through it. Why? Because I was developing additional skill sets, the ability to ask more refined questions.


Prioritizing skills over feedback (53:56)

Right. I was developing additional skill sets, the ability to let silence do the work, the ability to ask follow-up questions. Which default follow-up questions yield a lot of fruit, such as, "How did that make you feel? What did you learn from that? How have you implemented that later?" As well as developing deeper relationships with people I knew, as well as people I didn't know as well. Acquaintances or even strangers. If you want to have a really funny/frustrating experience, you can listen to my first ever podcast interview with a stranger, someone I'd never spoken to before that point in time, which is Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar. I was really, really nervous, and I went, "Mm-hmm, mm-hmm," like a thousand fucking times. It drove people nuts. Anyway, I was developing skills and relationships, or deepened relationships, that would transcend that given project. So I cared less about, or I waited less, weighed, maybe weighed less, the public opinion of those early episodes. Does that make sense? Yeah. Because unlike, say, Rust and Iron, where I was producing new content but not really developing new skills, there was a value to the practice of the podcast in and of itself. And that is true of a lot of what I do. I really try to select whenever possible for what will help me to develop skills and relationships that will transcend that project, in part because I can really effectively ignore the early feedback. I don't ignore it, but it is 10% of my consideration. Yeah, you're not dependent on the early feedback to determine the success of the project. Right. And that's another litmus test, perhaps, or another set of criteria that I've used consistently to increase the odds of each subsequent project's success. But it's in some ways laughably simplistic.


Ponderings, Sponsors, And Dialogue

Simplicity versus complexity (56:10)

And it's really hard to keep something simplistic. It's intellectually difficult to keep something simplistic because you want to demonstrate to yourself that you're so fucking smart. You start to add in additional criteria and use spreadsheets and all this stuff. And it's not to say that that stuff isn't warranted, but if you meet with a founder and you're like, "Fuck, this guy gives me the heebie-jeebies," it doesn't matter how good your goddamn spreadsheet is, you should listen to that very primitive intuition. It's probably telling you something that, over millions of years of evolution, is more sophisticated than whatever you put into Excel that afternoon. I've tried to really, really, really, really revert to the simple and, if you want to give it a nicer name, the elegant, than the sophisticated or complex. Which is not to say there isn't a place for the complex and the sophisticated. If you're a growth stage or late stage private equity investor and you're thinking about taking over a company and replacing the management and improving operational efficiencies, well, you better really know your numbers. But that's not the game that I play. That is not my power zone and I will get annihilated if I try to compete against people who are good in those spaces. It's just not my sandbox. So, for me, I really try to target areas where I have a really, really basic advantage and that is that I can stick to simplicity. And a real pared down set of criteria when other people are tempted to go to complexity and succumb to complexity. And I don't have many advantages. None of us, I really want to go as far as to say, none of us have that many fucking advantages. So figure out what is easy for you that is hard for a lot of your friends and start there and then look at your personal pains, look at your personal desires and use that as a starting point if you're trying to create content or products that you hope will ultimately impact billions of people. And guess what? A lot of these products like Duolingo, right? I was in their first, as best I can recall, their first round of financing at the time because it was the first language learning software that made sense to me that solved a lot of pain points for me personally as a language learning student. And now, as best I know, it is the most widely used free language learning software on the planet, right? A hundred million plus users. But it didn't start by thinking about what those hundred million people needed. It started with asking myself, does this or does this not scratch the itch, solve the pain that I experienced myself? So I hope that helps. But that's partially how I think about this kind of thing. Thank you. No, I really appreciate your time and taking the time to share. Yeah. Hopefully that wasn't too drunk. Cool. Well, good luck with everything. And if I ever make my way back to the Bay Area, I will check out your cafe. Hey, guys, this is Tim again. Just a few more things before you take off. Number one, this is Five Bullet Friday. Do you want to get a short email from me? Would you enjoy getting a short email from me every Friday? That provides a little morsel of fun for the weekend. And Five Bullet Friday is a very short email where I share the coolest things I've found or that I've been pondering over the week. That could include favorite new albums that I've discovered. It could include gizmos and gadgets and all sorts of weird shit that I've somehow dug up in the world of the esoteric as I do. It could include favorite articles that I'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 all spelled out and just drop in your email and you will get the very next one.


Four new things I've been pondering lately (01:00:31)

And if you sign up, I hope you enjoy it. This episode is sponsored by Sotheby's and Sotheby's Wine, which offers a selection of the world's best wines for every palate and occasion.


Sotheby's and Sotheby's Wine (01:00:42)

Many of you know I do like my wine. I do love wine. Must be the Malbec from Argentina when I was down there. Or maybe it's the Zinfandel from California, but I like it all. I like lots and lots of wine. Sotheby's, as many of you may know, is a global auctioneer. They auction off many, many, many different types of things. They're also a retailer of fine wine with locations in New York, London, and Hong Kong. They recently created an online store where you can buy wine directly. You might think, well, that's for millionaires and billionaires. I don't go to auction houses, but the wines that they sell range from $14 per bottle all the way up to $25,000, let's say. Sotheby's allows you to sort by region, great producer, or you can search for a particular bottle or by your budget, which is probably where I would go. If you're gifting wine, Sotheby's suggests champagne, red Bordeaux, burgundy, or Californian wines. And if you want my opinion, I would say, you know, try a Zinfandel, if you haven't tried a Zinfandel from California. But in any case, just one restriction at this time, Sotheby's can only ship to New York, California, D.C., New Hampshire, and Idaho. So I'll say that one more time. Now put it a different way. If you are in or shipping to New York, California, D.C., New Hampshire, or Idaho, check it out because that's where the wine can currently be shipped. So visit Sotheby's Wine dot com, that's S-O-T-H-E-B-Y-S, Sotheby's Wine dot com, and use the promo code TIM, T-I-M, to get 10% off of your first order. Again, that's Sotheby's Wine dot com, and use promo code TIM for 10% off of your delicious wine. Check it out.


This episode is brought to you by Peloton. And I'd heard about Peloton over and over again, but I ended up getting a Peloton bike in the whole system after I saw my buddy Kevin Rose. I've known him forever, some of you know, and he showed up at my gate at my house a while back, and he looked fantastic.


On the conversation (01:02:43)

I asked him, I said, "Dude, you look great. What the hell have you been up to?" Because he's always doing a weird diet or another, but it only lasts a week or two, so he always regresses to the mean after like 75 beers. And he said, "I've been doing Peloton five days a week." Now that caught my attention because Kevin does nothing five days a week, and you know I love you Kevin. But it really piqued my curiosity, ended up getting a system, and it's become an integral part of my week. I love it, and I really didn't expect to love it at all because I find cycling really boring, usually. But Peloton is an indoor cycling bike that brings live studio classes right into your home. You don't have to worry about fitting classes into your schedule or making it into a studio with some type of commute, etc. New classes are added every day, and this includes options led by elite New York City instructors in your own living room. You can even livestream studio classes taught by the world's best instructors or find your own favorite class on demand. And in fact, Kevin and I rarely do live classes, and you can compete with your friends, which is also fun. Kevin, I'm coming after you. But we usually just use classes on demand. I really like Matt Wilpers and his high intensity training sessions that are shorter, like 20 minutes. And I think Kevin's favorite is Alex, and everyone seems to have their favorite instructor, or you can select by music, duration, and so on. Each Peloton bike includes a 22 inch HD touchscreen, performance tracking metrics. I think that, along with the real time leaderboard, are the main reasons that this caught my attention when cycling never had caught my attention before. It's really pretty stunning what they've done with the user interface to keep your attention. The belt drive is quiet, and it's smaller than you would expect. So it can fit in a living room or an office. I actually have it in a large closet, believe it or not, and it fits with no problem. So Peloton is offering all of you guys, listeners of the Tim Ferriss show, a special offer.


End Note

For the love of god, prepare for this one. (01:04:43)

And it is actually special. Visit One Peloton, that's O-N-E-P-E-L-O-T-O-N, One Peloton dot com, and enter the code "Tim", all caps, T-I-M, at checkout to receive $100 off accessories with your Peloton bike purchase. Now you might say, "Meh, accessories? Wait, I don't need fancy towels or whatever, other supplemental bits and pieces." No, the shoes you need. You need the clip-in shoes, and those are in the accessory category. So this $100 off is a very legit $100 off. So if you want to get in your workouts, if you want a convenient and really entertaining way to do high-intensity interval training or anything else, or you just want to get a fantastic gift for someone, check out Peloton. One Peloton dot com, and enter the code "Tim", again that's O-N-E-P-E-L-O-T-O-N dot com, and enter the code "Tim", at checkout to receive $100 off any accessories, including the shoes that you will want to get. Check it out, One Peloton dot com, code "Tim".


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