If You Want To Become A PRODUCTIVITY MASTER, Watch This! | Tim Ferriss | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "If You Want To Become A PRODUCTIVITY MASTER, Watch This! | Tim Ferriss".
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- Everybody, welcome to Impact Theory. You're here because you believe that human potential is nearly limitless, but you know that having potential is not the same as actually doing something with it. So our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas that will help you execute on your dreams. All right, today's guest is the king of self optimization, a man who is constantly learning and testing new theories in the real world so that he can improve his skillset and do more. His ridiculous list of accomplishments is proof that if you approach the world as a student, there's no such thing as the impossible. Here are just a few of the seemingly unreal, albeit entirely true, highlights from his resume. He is a former MTV Breakdancer in Taiwan, the one time national Chinese kickboxing champion, the first American to hold a Guinness World Record in Tango, a horseback archer, Princeton University guest lecturer, an angel investor who has racked up a serious string of entrepreneurial mega hits, including Uber, Facebook, Twitter, and Alibaba. He is an unparalleled self-experimenter, professional note taker and would-be ninth grade teacher, but you probably know him better for his best-selling books, the four hour work week, the four hour body, and the four hour chef. Or perhaps you're more familiar with his number one iTunes TV show or his unbelievably popular podcast, which has been downloaded more than 100 million times. But even if you don't know him from any of that, you're certainly going to know him for his most recent book, Tools of Titans, the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers. He's been called the Oprah of Audio and the Indiana Jones for the digital age. Please help me in welcoming the New York Times and the best-selling author multiple times over, the man behind the Tim Ferris Show, the human guinea pig himself, Tim Ferris. - Yeah. - There you have it. - That's a really hell of a while. - We'll see you again. - We'll see you in as well, man. - It's all downhill after that intro. - I'm not so sure about that. - Tim, the sheer weight of this bad boy tells me that. - I know. - That it's not going to be all downhill from here. - It was supposed to be one sentence a page, maybe a little checkout book in the aisle. I can't help myself. - Yeah, I saw that. If you had to boil it down to like one sentence, what was your purpose in writing it? - The purpose in writing it was to create the ultimate cliff notes for myself, and then I got about halfway through it. And one of my friends was taking a look at it and he goes, "This is exactly what your readers would want. Why don't you just publish it?" And that led ultimately to the book, which is about half new material. I would say 50 to 60% brand new. So brand new recommendations from past guests, new guests that people haven't met yet, like Jack Dorsey. He was a very impressive cat, and Shel Strayed and many others.
In-Depth Discussion With Amelia Boone
Amelia Boone, a Super Human (03:00)
But the six to 10,000 pages of transcripts got boiled down to about 350 pages in here. And the vetting process was choosing what I had had a chance to apply myself, or something my close friends had applied at the highest levels. Some of the people that you've interviewed in the book, Peter Thiel being the first one that comes to mind, are just mega producers or Reed Hoffman. I mean, it is absurd the number of people that you've come in contact with that are just absolute apex predators in the world of whatever it is that they do. I mean, it's really, really incredible. - So Amelia Boone, I'm gonna throw from that her. She's so tough. My God, she's three time world's toughest mother champion. She is full-time attorney at Apple. - Whoa. - She, in the 2012 toughest mother, just a 24-hour race. You have to complete a course of obstacles for as many repetitions as you can. - Oh, you're good. - And she's done more than 90 miles in that case. But it's like climbing ropes and 90 miles of obstacles? - Of obstacles. And in eight weeks after knee surgery, more than a thousand competitors, 90% plus of which are men, she came in second place. - Oh my God. - Out of everybody. - What do you think drives her? Like, that's crazy. So she's super successful. But you don't do 90 miles in a 24-hour period without some intense thing pushing you forward. If you had to guess. - If I had to guess, I think it is pretty simple. I don't, now with endurance, ultra-endurance athletes, one of the common questions is, are you running towards something or are you running from something? - Yeah, for sure. - Two things I really like about Amelia.
Don't Let People Off the Hook (04:48)
Number one, what would you put on a billboard if you could put anything on a huge billboard? - I love that question. - No one owes you anything. - That's great. - That's great. - So, great. And then her other quote, which I had to put right at the top of her chapter was, "I'm not the strongest, I'm not the fastest, but I'm really good at suffering." - Yeah. - So, why does that resonate with you? 'Cause that like sits at the core of my being. That very notion. - Outindoor. You can train yourself to outindoor other people. - It's, it really, so when I think about like what gifts you've talked about this before, like everybody has a superpower. And one of my superpowers is the ability to suffer. - Yeah. - And it's one of those things that you say, and you know it's kind of tongue in cheek and a little bit funny, but at the same time, it's my fucking superpower. Like if people look at me and say, okay, well how have you been able to do this? Because truly, you spend enough time with me, you will know very, very quickly, I am not the brightest person. And I don't pride myself on that. So that's not like I don't, I'm not torn up about it. - Yeah. - Not the brightest person didn't have any extreme advantages or anything growing up, certainly not physically more impressive than the next person. But my willingness to suffer is absurd. - Yeah. - And when you direct that at something that you care about, my whole thing is the way that I think about it is, I'll outlast anyone, right? So on a long enough timeline, I can accomplish. And when people really start to look at that, but then it comes back to the next question, which I wanna know from you is, what is the driver? What's that thing that makes you be so willing to suffer?
Cracking the Code (06:13)
It's the promise of that crack hit for me, which is the aha moment. In you or in you and other people, so it's both. And the reason that I get such a high from it is, if I can crack the code in the sense that I find something that saves people hundreds of hours, or myself hundreds of hours, in the learning curve for a particular skill, or a particular type of recovery, or fill in the blank, just an elegant or non-obvious solution to a long-standing problem, I'm like, oh, okay. I can't wait to see how people are going to respond. When I provide that to a thousand people, and I see for most of them, the vast majority just go, holy fuck. Like if you take someone, for instance, I didn't learn to swim until I was in my 30s. I think we may have talked about this. I grew up on Long Island, but I was deathly afraid of drowning, so I had some near drowning incidents and some lung issues. And now at this point, I was taught by this gentleman named Terry Lachlan, something called Total Immersion, which I first learned from a book, which I was introduced to by Chris Saka, who's a billionaire investor in this book, oddly enough. But you can take someone, which I did with Terry at one point for the Tim Ferriss experiment, the first TV show I did. This mother of two, I think, Sarah, who had never been able to swim, couldn't even put her head underwater in the pool comfortably. And four days later, open water swimming 500 meters in the ocean in like 40 foot deep water, freestyle. And when you show someone that an impossible like that, it's not only possible, but that they can crack it really quickly, that's my drug of choice. I just get such a high out of it. The other thing, why am I willing to suffer? I'm willing to suffer because I guess much like you, I feel like I have my deficiencies, I have plenty of weaknesses. The go to the extreme is partially present because I feel like the most interesting things happen at the fringes first. Reading the Prescott for your book, I had that overwhelming sense of, holy hell, what you've just spent the last, however many years collecting, are all of those gems that either other people just haven't aggregated or they haven't distilled, or they haven't been willing to look at. But now exist in one place, which is incredibly exciting.
Now one of the promises in the press kit was that you could test the impossible and 17 questions. What are some of the questions? - So the questions are actual questions that coincided with, milestones or inflection points, or just a fork in my own life. So it's actually laid out these questions about 12 of them, coincided with exact points that I can remember. And some of them would be, for instance, what if I did the opposite for 48 hours? This was a question that I asked myself when I had my first job out of college. I was talking about suffering. I told me my desk was in fire exit. It was completely illegal. Slept under the desk, the whole nine yards. And don't regret a minute of it, but I was a technical sales guy, outbound sales guy. So we had inside sales, outside sales. And my job was to close deals with CTOs and CEOs for multi-million dollar data storage systems. At that point, storage area network, the fiber channel. And what I realized at one point was that all of the seasoned sales guys who were doing far better than I was doing, were making phone calls between nine and five. Those were the office hours. And I said, "Well, I'm clearly not doing an effective job, "mimicking them. "What if I did the opposite for 48 hours?" It's a very recoverable experiment. If it doesn't work, then I can always go back to what I was doing. Doing the opposite meant making my calls between, let's just say, six 30 and eight 30, and then five 30 to seven, seven 30. And it was just a hypothesis. Maybe I can get a hold of the people I need to get a hold of more effectively when the gatekeepers aren't there. And that's exactly what happened. And I started booking more meetings and closing more deals than the majority of the guys in the company. And it was just for messing that question. What if I did the opposite for 48 hours? And you can apply that to many, many things. Some of the others would be, well, this is one I asked in 2004. If I had a gun against my head and could only work two hours per week, what would I do? I know it's impossible. What would I do? And that type of ludicrous question was necessary to break my thinking patterns and stress test my own assumptions of what was possible. And you find that that is a learnable skill. Peter D. Mantis, chairman of the X Prize, who's really good at these types of questions. I mean, he's attempting to solve some of the biggest problems facing humanity in very innovative ways. And he would ask, for instance, startups who come to him for angel investment. He'll say, what would you have to do in the next six months, I'm paraphrasing you, to 10x the economics of your business. And if they say, can't be done, he's like, I do not accept your answer. Literally, he just says, I do not accept your answer, try again. And what's very important here is to realize the expectation is not that you will magically in 10 minutes come up with a plan to achieve your 10 year goals in six months, but that you may get halfway there. And largely just to shift your paradigm, right? So I know Peter very well. And his whole thing is, if you're, we're naturally, we think linearly, right? And until you break out of that and start thinking exponentially, you're never going to get the kind of breakthroughs that you want. And when, so there's two things I think that people don't understand about being an entrepreneur. Number one is there's a ton of mundane stuff that you're gonna have to do. Like this set, my wife and I were hand painting it. Which is stupid, by the way. It should have been done and sprayed, but we found ourselves in a situation where they should have to be hand painted. And so as I'm like going through, literally at 3 a.m. painting this set, I thought, this is the part of being an entrepreneur that people don't see coming. - That's not on the magazine cover. - Right, yeah, exactly. So it's like, and do you, right? Your willingness to suffer. Do you gut check? Do you get through? And then the other thing is, how do you break out of your dogmatic linear thinking to get through to the big aha moment? Though I have a gun to my head. I only have two hours, which then becomes a four hour work week because of a Google test. And they thought it was ridiculous that it'd be two hours and I was gonna believe that. I love that story. Which then obviously has massive paradigm shifting changes in people. And what I find so fascinating about asking, what is it that I would need to do or what would stop me from executing a 10 year plan in six months? Is it forces you to sort of abandon all hope of clinging to what you already know?
And that's the only time that you're gonna do something differently is you have to approach the problem from a radically different way. And so take Uber for a second. Uber was one of those few ideas that the second I saw it, I was like, oh my God, that's so brilliant. But I had never stopped to ask the question, what would it take? I felt riding in a cab stressed my ability to suffer. That's how much I fucking hated riding a cab. It's just such a bad experience. Drivers are horrible to you. The cars are disgusting. If you call them and have to wait, I mean it's a joke. All of it is just terrible, terrible. But I never asked the question, like what would it take to revolutionize this? So getting down to asking these just wildly divergent questions and I love your question about what if I did the opposite? Because by definition it shatters the dogma. Yeah, even if you don't think it's gonna work, what if I did the opposite 48 hours? Even if I am almost 100% or 100% sure it's not gonna work or be beneficial as long as you cap the downside in some way, right? Do you red team blue team? I do. Oh yeah. Yeah. So red teaming for those people who don't know, this comes from militaries. Could be in any division of the military where they will take, so let's just say five guys blue team, five guys designate them red team. And the job of the red team is to either say, get into a building that the blue team is supposed to protect, defeat defenses that the blue team has created, or you can do this in a corporate setting and Mark Andreessen, who's another billionaire and just a fascinating guy. Incredible engineer also. They'll red team ideas. So they will create what he would call a countervailing force. So if we're in a venture capital, general partner meeting and you come up with it, what you think is a great thesis or a great company. Even if I think it's a good idea, I will and I'll take several other people and we will attack it and try to tear it to death. A tear to pieces and he calls it the torture test. But that is also a form of red teaming. So I'll do that with all sorts of things. I also find that red teaming, like being on the red team itself sharpens your own thinking. One is just a good exercise to be able to put yourself on the other side so you don't have to have other people always to red team. You can actually flip over.
Speech and Debate (16:07)
So back in high school, I used to do speech and debate. And in debate, you had to take both sides of the argument. You had to be able to go back and forth. It made you so much more compelling. Because you knew the weaknesses of both sides because you got used to playing that. And so like in the military where you're in that moment, you are investing everything into getting into that space. I'm going to break the US defenses. I'm going to get into this room. I'm going to show them that I'm better. So if you can, and we do that here at Impact Theory, is to put yourself, like just even if you don't end up debunking it, practice being able to put yourself on the other side. - For sure. - Because one of the things, dude, I fear this more than I can tell you, which is getting trapped in my own dogma. - Yep. - Because I need to codify the world. I need it. - Yep. - Which is why this book is so fucking interesting to me. Because it's basically a bunch of codifications that are instantly powerful. They have that punch, you follow it up with their own contextual stuff, which I think is brilliant by the way. But you're giving their codifications. But in codifying the world, it tends to calcify. For me, right? - Sure, sure.
Genius Being a Young Mans Game (17:13)
- And when you look at genius being a young man's game, it's like, I didn't get enough done in my youth youth to be okay with that. Like I have done nothing that is going to earn me a Nobel Prize. Let's start with that. - I'll be near that for once. - But yeah. - But yeah. - To continue to do profound things, it's like you have to reinvent yourself. We just had Michael Strahan on the show in his business partner Constance, who is just an unbelievably talented woman. And she has every 10 years forced herself to do a totally new career. - Cool. - Which is amazing. And he was saying that's basically what makes her so effective. Because she's not drawing on the moment, she's drawing on all these different angles of attack onto her core skill set. - Right. So one of the questions that you can also ask, just like, what if I did the opposite for 48 hours? I'll give you another question that I think you'll really like. Which is one of the 17. What can I learn from the people I hate the most? - Wow. - Now this does two things. It forces you to separate your morality from your search for effectiveness. It also helps you to develop some degree of empathy. And those two are very powerful. So what can I learn from the people I hate most? It is a very, very useful practice. So I'll journal on that very often. In terms of patterns, we were talking about some of the things I've spotted. Meditation or journaling are performed by close to 100% of the people that I interviewed.
The question, just to come back to that, that I thought you might enjoy is, and this is an example of taking something from someone I disagree with on almost every level. Newt Gingrich. One of the questions that Newt would ask himself and others is, are you hunting antelope or are you hunting field mice? And the story he would tell is that of a lion in the Serengeti. He's like, if you're always chasing field mice as a lion, you'll get a snack. You might even survive, but you might end up starving because you're getting these little Scooby snacks. That's not his words, mine. That make you feel good and give you the illusion of accomplishing something real. And for me, that's translated into, are you being busy or are you being productive? - Yes.
- Right? - Yes. - And that was a question, I wanna say it was about five years ago or so, this antelope versus field mice, just the story, the parable and the metaphor was so strong for me that I put that up where I would see it every day. All right, let's take a hard right. There's some interesting stuff in here about creativity. What are some of the most interesting and useful lessons about creativity you've pulled from the book? - The first that comes to mind is setting really low expectations. - Not what I was expecting. - Well, not what a lot of people expect. And when I spoke to, say, Paul O'Quelio, who's sold 100 million plus copies, the Alchemist, et cetera, you talk to Rick Rubin. So let me give his example first. And he has a musician who's stuck. Great musician, but they've developed performance anxiety about songwriting for whatever reason. He will say, do you think you could get me one sentence or maybe two words that you like by tomorrow? That's it, two words. Can you do that for me? And he gives them a micro assignment. Best writing advice that I probably ever received and have received a lot of good writing advice, but I can get myself really wound up because I expect perfection to flow from my fingertips like magic, and that never happens. So then I beat the hell out of myself and that makes me less likely to put pen to paper in the first place, and I'll procrastinate. Which is why, if you write two crappy pages per day, you've won the day. That's a successful writing day. And that does a few things. It helps you to maintain enthusiasm because you're constantly winning. And of course, on many days, you'll write more than two. You'll get to two, then you go to five or to 10. But if you're on an off day, you write two crappy pages, even if you never use it, it's a successful day.
Tip for longer-term projects (21:31)
And that, I think, for longer-term projects and extended creativity is really important. But the story that this writer told me with that tip, he said, okay, this is where this comes from. Did you know that IBM, when it was the 800-pound gorilla, it was an undefeatable sales force. Do you know what one of their rules was? He's like, no. He says, well, what do you think their quotas were? And I was like, well, I'm sure their quotas were really high because they wanted to motivate their guys to get after it. And he goes, no, their quotas were the lowest in the industry. - Wow. - And the rationale was we don't want our salespeople to be intimidated to pick up the phone. We want them to feel like they're gonna pass their quote quickly, which they did, and then they shot well past it and clobbered the competition. So the counterintuitive pairing of love expectations leading to higher performance is really odd. - Well, so let's ask the obvious question then. So as somebody who's had a lot of employees at the height I had over 1,000 employees, that feels dangerous. And it feels dangerous, and I think I have my own answer, but it feels dangerous because some people, especially when an organization gets that big, they're looking for a place to hide and you give it to them. - Yeah, so I think that the winning combination is selectively low quotas on a daily basis with high expectations for metrics on, say, a quarterly or annual basis. So you're tracking the numbers, you want them to hit home runs, but it doesn't have to be one at bat. I think it's also very context and role-specific. But if we're talking about creativity in particular, so not necessarily work output, the approach, their number of prolific writers who have said, Neil Strauss said this, there's no such thing as writer's block, which drives me crazy. So I'm like, come on, you might be a mutant X-man of writing, but for the normal humans, come on, like give me a break. And he goes, no, no, no, hear me out. Number one, he is a trained journalist, and journalists tend to have writing block beaten out of them 'cause their boss is like, oh, you can't find the right prose for your 500 word article. Oh, get it in by five o'clock asshole. And they're just like, oh, oh, wait, this isn't school. And they're like, yeah, deadline. That's your incentive writers block my ass. And he's like, okay. But he said, and what they learn is, he said, there's no such thing as writer's block. He said, what that is, is performance anxiety that you've imposed on yourself because your expectations are too high. And he's like, slow your standards. Lower your standards till you get started. - Can I back you up here for something? - Yeah. - So, oh God, this is embarrassing, but I've at least admitted it before. I, so when I first started doing Instagram, I was like, I wanna really like up Instagram's game, right? So I'm gonna make these posts really mean something, and I wanna actually impact somebody. And if you read one of my posts, you're going to be impacted. And then there was one day, nine hours later, I had lost my entire Sunday writing this Instagram post, and I thought, this is not scalable. Like, you cannot write a nine hour Instagram post, where most people, 'cause like the comments would be like, it's long, but it's worth the read. So I thought, wait, people actively don't wanna read this shit. Their friend has to convince them to do it. And I just spent nine hours writing it, like this is madness. So I said, okay, I'm gonna write this stuff in 20 minutes. Like, simple as, and they get what they get in 20 minutes, and it is what it is. And I started getting better reactions. It was like, oh my God. - Yes. - Oh, it is what I'm gonna take. - And I give you another example, which is Ed Catmull, president of Pixar. Pixar.
Edward Catmill (25:21)
- For God's sake, I mean Pixar. And he said to me, the early versions of our movies, and I'm paraphrasing of course, but are all crap. And he talked about a few of my favorite movies. He said, oh yeah, they're all crap. We have to just toss them out and start over. And I said, wait a second, like backtrack. And I said, so you just mean that the movies, when they start are really rough drafts, and then you have to refine them. He's like, no, no, no, that's the misconception. They think the early version of the movie is just a rough draft of the later on. He's like, no, it's completely different. Like we literally scrapped it, and started again from scratch. And then those starting from scratch stories became some of their most popular successful movies. - Wow.
Harnessing anger to fuel creativity. (26:04)
- So, do you find that a lot? 'Cause when I write, I will often hit that point where I'm like, this is so bad that trying to just continue to make it better is the wrong idea. I need to start over. And then if you can put words to this next emotion, you will be my hero, where, so you get into this dark place, right? The writing is not going anywhere. You're not able to get it out. Like for whatever reason, that concept that you can feel in your mind, you can't articulate and get it on paper. And then you get this moment for me a lot of times, I just get angry enough that that then becomes that like, energy that I need. And you talk about putting one song on repeat. I've used this song a lot, is a song "Faint" by Lincoln Park, which is hyper-aggressive. And I'll put that on over and over and over to keep that energy. 'Cause if I get angry enough at my shit writing, I get this breakthrough moment where I can start from scratch and all of a sudden, everything is I can feel my brain speed up. And then I can write. But it took like that, however much time of getting fed up. If you can put words around that moment, well, I'll put a phrase to that moment. - Perfect. - What makes you angry? Was one of the key pieces of advice that I was given by a writer named Pope Bronson. When I asked him, what do you do when you have writer's block? He said, what makes you angry? We'll just write that. And that was also the advice that I was given by Whitney Cummings and a few other stand-up comedians. How do you develop material? What makes you angry? Right about that. So I think anger, as opposed to just labeling it a bad thing, can be very useful fuel. So what makes you angry? And let's just say, you're writing about something that doesn't require or seem to require anger. Well, if you can't get started, it doesn't matter. So write about something else. Write about what makes you angry. And either you'll be able to sort of parry that into this other subject when once you get going, or you'll end up writing something completely different and it'll end up better in the first place. And what does it mean to copyright your faults?
Personal Perspectives And Self-Improvement Strategies
Copyright your flaws. (28:07)
Ah, yeah. This is a great one. So copyright your faults. This is from Dan Carlin. So Dan Carlin is the host of my favorite podcast. It's just incredible. Hardcore history. And anyone who hasn't heard it should start with Wrath of the Cons. If you have to buy it, buy it, trust me. But copyright your fault. Dan was a radio guy before he was a podcast guy. And he was constantly getting criticized because he would go into the red. He would shout and he was really loud. And he'd go up and he'd peek and drive all the audio people crazy. And then you get really low and whisper. And he's like, dude, come on, you're killing me here. Making my job really hard. And his supervisor, supervisors at the time, they're like, look kid, what people want is this like deep dignified baritone voice for the radio. I don't have voice for the radio, so I can't do it. But-- So this guy with 100 million downloads. Yeah, right. Right, exactly. It's a terrible time I've been meaning to tell you. Thank you. It's time to do the reveal now. But that's a whole separate story, the accidental podcast. But later on, he had such a distinctive voice that people started complimenting him. And he's like, OK. So now this so-called weakness, that he was unable to fix so he didn't fix it. Not only that, but he avoided fixing it by having the intro guys. The guys would be like, please welcome or please enjoy it. Buh-buh-buh, Dan Carlin. And he'd say, he shouts, he whispers or something like that. He had the intro guy do a caveat so that he didn't have to change his personal style, which later then became this huge asset. And his term is copyright your fault. He's like, now if someone imitates me, he's like, that's my jam. He's like, that's my stick. Copyright your fault. And of course, there are weaknesses you should address. But then there are flaws that can be converted into strengths. So I think that's another way to catalyze creativity or just creating anything. Just realize that some of your biggest flaws may in fact be assets. And so that could be a question you ask. How might some of my biggest weaknesses be strengths or assets? I think that's a very useful question to journal on, which I tend to do just about every morning. It's freehand journaling in what are called morning pages.
The power of journaling. (30:45)
But which-- OK, we're talking about creativity. Morning pages, we should talk about. Julia Cameron describes them as spiritual windshield wipers. And the way I would translate that is when you do morning pages-- and you might just be complaining. You're less yourself. You're worse self coming out on pages. Just bitching and moaning is you get that out of your system for the day. So you don't have it ricocheting around your head like a stray bullet for the rest of your waking hours interrupting everything else. You just trap it. You freeze it on paper. And that practice has been tremendously liberating. Not only from a well-being standpoint, but from just freeing up my CPU so that I can focus on things that are more important. Because if I have all that like, god, that guy in the-- like, I should have said, ma, like all that bouncing around all day, it's like you have antivirus software. Just slowing down your flow. It's just so slow. It's like, yeah, because you're thinking about these stupid grudges that you're holding against people for trivial bullshit. Like, who cares if the guy had Starbucks bought the last thing? A cash used you idiot. Like, ferris, deeply troubled. Yeah, like, ferris pulled together. So if I get it on paper, though, I'm like, OK, I've dealt with that. Now, in the book, you encourage people to bounce around. What's one thing that you hope nobody skips? So the book's broken into three sections. You have healthy, wealthy, and wise, which is a nod to Ben Franklin. They're all interdependent, right? Because they're sort of the three legs of the stool. Healthy, wealthy, and wise. So I think-- I do think you need all three.
Derek Sivers: The pitfalls of, The Buridan's Ass Paradox. (32:16)
So Derek Sivers is this programmer-monk philosopher-king startup entrepreneur who started CD Baby, which was the largest marketplace for independent musicians at the time, sold it for, I think, $24 million. But he and Seth Godin, I think, are two examples of people who are very good at genuinely in real life, following contrarian rules that work exceptionally well. So Derek has a couple of one-liners that I think are really fantastic. I'll give you a few. One is, if more information were the answer, we'd all be billionaires with six back-ups. That's a good one. And just absorbing-- not even absorbing-- just reading, and watching, and listening to more isn't enough. You have to apply it. You have to use incentives. You have to have rewards and punishments set for yourself. So you actually get things done. Timelines, et cetera. So that's one. Another one is, don't be a donkey. And that-- so he says that to himself all the time. Don't be a donkey. Don't be a donkey. And the reason is, there's-- I want to say it might be a philosopher's paradox, but I don't think it is. I think it's just parable about Burden's ass. So Burden's ass. About a donkey. Yeah. My favorite porn. No, that's not it. It's about a donkey. It's about a donkey. Sorry. Too much caffeine. So it's about a donkey who is thirsty and hungry. And there's water on one side, few feet away, and hay on the other. And he can't decide whether to do the hay first, the hay first, or the water, the hay, or the water. And he dies of thirst at the end of it. He couldn't do them sequentially. So this is Derek's recommendation to his younger self, and really to any 20 or 30 something. But it applies to everybody. Which is, in effect, you can do almost everything you want in life, but you can't do it at the same time. And if you can just dedicate yourself to one thing for even a year, and then the next thing for a year, you can do those 10 things. But if you try to do all 10 at once, you're going to be Burden's ass. You're going, should I do this? Should I do this? Should I focus on this? Should I focus on this? So don't be a donkey.
95% versus 100%. Letting go of unsustainable 100% effort mentality. (34:42)
The other one that, for me, was so helpful to hear is I think he calls it 95 versus 100%. And he tells the story of moving to around Santa Monica and his friends getting him into biking on the bike path. So up and down the boardwalk right on the water. And so being a type A personality, he would get a stopwatch and he'd start it. And he'd like hop and pop and race as hard as he could all the way down to wherever, any time himself. And every day, no matter how hard he did it, 43 minutes. 43 minutes. Just wouldn't improve, 43 minutes. And this thing that should have been enjoyable became painful in his mind. He started to avoid it. He'd be like, I have other things to do. No, instead of bike riding, I'll do this other thing. And he realized at one point, this is really pathetic. And this is really bad that something that should be enjoyable, I am avoiding because I've made it so painful. So why don't I just go for a bike ride and enjoy it? So he goes for a bike ride and it's just a leisurely cruise. He's chilling. He's riding around. And he's seeing dolphins in the water. He's standing up. He's looking around, noticing things he hadn't noticed before. At one point, this is Derek, he goes, at one point, I looked up in the sky and there was a pelican. And I said, wow, pelican. And it's shit in my mouth. And I was like, ah! He's like, it was the best bike ride ever. I was like, OK. So he's having a great time. The pelican shit in the mouth and notwithstanding.
The 95 Percent Rule (36:16)
And he gets back and he looks at his watch and I think it was 45 minutes. And he's like, wait, what? He's like, so all that huffing and puffing, all that like sweating, leg cramps and pain was for an extra two minutes off the clock. That's outrageous. So he started applying that to his entire life. And when it starts to get-- now look, there are exceptions to all of this. But he said, when I start to get really stressed out, I just stop. Because I realize 95% is enough for getting almost all of the results that I want and making it sustainable. And this comes back to the creativity. It's like, if you always try to crank 100%, you're like, I need to get 2,000 awesome words out today. That's like trying to hit 43 minutes every time and huffing and puffing. And you're going to start putting things off. Oh, I need another cup of coffee. Oh my god, my shoes are so dirty. I need to fix my shoes before I can go out and put that fan. And you'll do anything to put it off because it becomes this intimidating task. So yeah, the 95 versus 100% is another one. Oh, I've got another one. I have to share. So this is one of my favorites. So Sean White, two things that are very interesting with Sean White, well, there are a lot of things. But he holds the all time record for medals at the X Games. He has, I think, two gold medals at the Olympics. And two things worth noting for him. And this comes back to the high expectations thing. OK. So I asked him, what is your self-talk when you come out of the gate for a gold medal run at the Olympics? What do you say to yourself? And he thought about it. And the short version is, who cares? Short version is, who cares? I think this is a really big deal. Snow warning, going down snow in this contraption. But at the end of the day, I'm going to go home. I'll see my family, which he borrowed from Agassi. When Agassi sort of had his comeback, that was how he took the pressure off in very, very high pressure situations, which is to say, who cares? Which is effective when you put in the training. If you put in the training, you don't need to stress in that last minute. The other thing I took away from Sean is when he has a really serious goal, like a gold medal at Sochi, or whatever it might be. He also has a completely absurd goal to offset how stress inducing that can be. So at one point it was, I want to wear American flag pants on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Like that was the other goal. He has some ludicrous goal to offset the serious. Wow, that's cool.
Tims Ludicrous & Serious Goals (38:54)
So I've started to try to incorporate that in my life. I have a really serious goal. I have a really serious goal. I have a really serious goal that you have right now. OK, so this is an exclusive. This is breaking news. Here we go. And we'll see where it goes. I'm a little hesitant to even share this. But I'll give it to you, sir. I'll give it to you, sir, which is sufficient. So goal, I want this book to be everywhere. I want everyone to read this. Like a friend of mine said, I've bought for our work week for a few people who really need it, for changing chapters in their lives, or starting at company. I've given for our body to people who want to lose weight. He's like, this one I would give to everybody. So I have very big goals for this. So I have some other plans, which I can't go into huge detail with right now, but to create a fragrance for men. Really? And I mean, fucking look at me. I'm from Long Island. This is like a tuxedo for me. I don't really wear a cologne or anything. Occasionally smell like I've been chased by hyenas or something if I'm sweating a lot. But I was like, how funny would it be if I came out with like a Tim Ferriss fragrance? Oh my god. How amazing. Hilarious with that be. So what would Tim Ferriss smell like? So that I can't disclose. I do Okey. Like Ticila. Like Ticila. I think it'd be like a rough night. It'd be like-- Ticila name. Yeah, Ticila and pine needles. It's like, what happened? Yeah. That's-- Tim Ferriss. A rough night. Yeah, that's right. And it'd be like, a rough night by Tim Ferriss. You know, like, I want to have like the cheesiest, like, advertisement, you know, like the unbuttoned dress shirt with like the fancy watch. We're looking like blue steel. I just want to make it as ludicrous as possible. But it will actually be if like, I'm talking to some of the best of the best people in that world right now. Wow. It's like one part complete spinal tap. And then one part like Sirius actually want to make something cool. But that to me is just a psychological release valve. So that when I'm getting really wound up about this for whatever reason, I can think about that and just mix my laugh my ass off. When I have two glasses of wine, I chill out. So always pairing, like one serious with one absurd goal, I think is really interesting. It's so smart. I've been doing that since he first told me about it. And it's really improved the quality of my life and my results. Because I also don't feel like I have all my eggs in a little basket. And I'm diversifying my identity in a way, which I think is very important. So all right. Last question.
Final Reflections And Recap
The Last Question (41:37)
What is the impact that you want to have on the world? The impact that I want to have on the world right now would be creating a benevolent army of super learners who test the impossibles and teach other people to do the same. That's it. So whether it's 100,000, a million people who have mastered meta learning, acquiring skills, who are also willing to test the impossibles, test the assumptions, and have the uncomfortable conversations that I think this country is largely dodging. Ooh, that gets me all excited. And if they're able to then impart that to more people, my goal is to make me obsolete as quickly as possible. It's like, I think the goal of any really good personal trainers should be to make themselves obsolete, not necessary as quickly as possible. So that's my goal.
Outro and Recap (42:36)
That's awesome, and Tim, thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you. Thanks for having me. Absolutely. Guys, you are going to want to get this book, talking about the toolkit to build that army of super learners who are out there actually making impact in the world. I have a feeling that this is going to be the book. I'm not kidding when I say that I have not been this excited to read a book in a very, very long time. It's the kind of book where you're going to go in and no matter what it is that you're facing right now in your life, whether it's in the healthy, wealthy, or wise categories, there's going to be something there from somebody who's living it there. They've done the kind of thing that you want to do, and they're giving you the real world advice from right there, that minute in their life. Which is incredibly exciting. And there's two things about it that I like. One, the elements that they give you are very punchy. They're short. There's a sink that's easy to remember. The good shit sticks. It's going to be a lot of stuff that really sticks and will resonate with you, will echo through your own mind. But he also allows them to give their own context. So it's not words in the abstract. It's actually, take Jamie Fox for instance, it's not just Jamie's quote about how there's nothing beyond fear. It's actually explaining what that means and being able to put it in the context, real world for him at that moment. And getting that allows these phrases to have depth. And I can't tell you how obsessively I collect those codified nuggets of wisdom. My Evernote is bogged down. I swear my iPhone is actually heavier from the number of those kind of nuggets that I've collected. And if you look at this home, it comes with the promise of that kind of stuff in it. If you're like me and you've read everything that this man has written, you've listened to all the podcasts, you know, he is not for play. And what he delivers always is usable. And that usability is my obsession. So join me in getting that copy. I'm going to be buying an absurd number in the name of Impact Theory. And we're going to be doing some kind of big giveaway. So yeah, if you haven't already read it, go out and get it. It's available. Now, dive in.
Connect With Tim
Where To Find Tim (44:33)
Tim, I cannot thank you enough for being on the show, my man. Thank you. It's so horrible. And of course, Tim, we have to ask though. Yeah. Where can they find you online? They can find me just about everywhere. They can find me @tferris to ours at Twitter. Tim Ferriss on Facebook. Tim Ferriss on Instagram. Doing some fun stuff on Instagram these days. And for sample chapters and all sorts of other goodies, toolsoftitans.com would be the place to check it out. Awesome. Well, guys, he's got some of the best goodies and giveaways and just ongoing value ad stuff. So be sure to check it out, toolsoftitans.com. All right, guys. Until next time, be legendary. Take care. Hey, everybody. Thanks so much for joining us for another episode of Impact Theory. If this content is adding value to your life, our one ask is that you go to iTunes, and Stitcher, and Rate and Review. Not only does that help us build this community, which at the end of the day is all we care about, but it also helps us get even more amazing guests on here to show their knowledge with all of us. Thank you guys so much for being a part of this community. And until next time, be legendary.