Page contents

Making the Impossible Possible with Tim Ferriss

In this episode of the podcast, Tim Ferriss returns to the show to talk about making the impossible possible,  peak performance, and his new show  The Tim Ferriss experiment.

Highlights

  • The pivotal moments of Tim Ferris’ early life 
  • Learning to develop an individualized style of competition
  • Compensating for your weaknesses and capitalizing on your strengths
  • Lessons in life and business from Tim’s experience wrestling
  • Being pushed beyond the point we think is humanly possible 
  • The three classes of wealthy people
  • Why Tim is in the process of reducing his network 
  • How to separate yourself from the pack as a volunteer
  • What makes a person truly wealthy 
  • The mindset that allows people to become extremely successful
  • Developing the skill of energy and attention management 
  • Learning to look at success holistically
  • Absorbing the qualities of our mentors through osmosis
  • Why exercise can be a tremendous anchor
  • How Tim chooses the projects that he’s going to work on

 

Resources and Books

Productivity Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive and Crazy (Like Me)

Tim Ferriss and Matt Mullenweg Podcast 

Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

Getting Past No

The Secrets of Power Negotiating 

Tim Ferriss’ Startup Investments on Angel List

Four Hour Workweek TV Bonuses 

 

Timothy Ferriss has been listed as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People”, Forbes Magazine’s “Names You Need to Know,” and is the 7th “most powerful” personality on Newsweek’s Digital 100 Power Index for 2012. He is an angel investor/advisor (Uber, Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, and 20+ more) and author of The Four Hour Work Week, The Four Hour Chef, and The Four Hour Body. 

 

making-the-impossible-possible-with-tim-ferriss.mp3

I'm Srini Rao and this is the unmistakable creative podcast where you get a window into the stories and insights of the most innovative and creative minds who started movements built thriving businesses written best selling books and created insanely interesting art.

For more check out our 500 episode archive unmistakable creative Dakang.

Before we sta 's advisor and it's spelled d VI as are our other sponsor for today's show as the Minneapolis College of Art and Design offering post baccalaureate certificates and graphic design interactive design and marketing and CAD provides working professionals with the opportunity to develop valuable creative skills in a vibrant student focused environment. Applications for Fall 2015 are due June 1st. For more information please visit MCAD dot edu slash professional MCAD where creativity meets purpose.

In this episode of the podcast Tim Ferriss returns to the show to talk about making the impossible possible peak performance at his new show THE TIM FERRISS EXPERIMENT Tim.

Welcome to the unmistakable creative. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us. Thank you. I'm glad to be here. Yeah. So you know you don't really need much of an introduction. It kind of ridiculous because I would assume that just about every single person listening unless they've been you know in a cave for the last ten years probably knows who you are. So you've actually been a guest on our show before when we were called broadcast FM. And this was when a four hour chef came out and this time I wanted to do a sort of dive into parts of your story that have never been told before and you know really where I wanted to start is looking back you know before high school you know before Princeton all of that into sort of the pivotal moments you know growing up that have led you to where you're at in your journey. So what we want to talk about some of that whole experience.

Absolutely. I think there were some early formative experiences that shaped the lot of what I did later and maybe some context that people haven't heard before. Let me start at the beginning and I'll let you guide me as needed. I don't want to give you some long winded Dr. Evil type of life story but I was born raised on eastern Long Island. I was a townie. Very proud of the fact I was very proud of the fact that I was a townie in basically the Hamptons so it was a very bifurcated have and have not environment where you saw very sharp contrast between locals who mostly worked in the service industry and very wealthy people who'd come out from Manhattan for the weekends for the summer. And that is where I went to elementary school high school for part of my time. And I was born premature had a lot of health issues early on was in the intensive care unit for a very long time had my blood volume transfused I think five times because my left lung collapsed oxygenated my blood properly and still have lung issues to this day. For that reason and that's partly that and learn to swim until I was in my 30s for instance embarrassing but true. And I had a few SBAs experiences in school for instance and in sports that were formative.

The first that comes to mind is really being rescued in a way as a runt by being thrown into kid wrestling. So I started wrestling when I was 8 or 9 years old and it was a great way for my mom to exhaust me so I wouldn't be a hyperactive mess when I got home. But it was also a way that I could build up my confidence in a sport that was based on weight classes instead of getting my ass thrashed in every other sport since I was small and had a lot of allergies which made it very embarrassing for me to do the presidential fitness tests. If you can recall those and that the the wrestling forced me to do a few things. It forced me to develop a very individualized style of competition because it is of course the points are tallied as a team. But you're you are really earning your keep on the map by yourself. The second component of that was the fact that I had very short endurance capacity I was very handicapped in that way because I would overheat and this is related to thermal regulation and my lung capacity. So just like dogs pant to dissipate heat humans very much do the same thing for your breathing and the surface area of the interior of your lungs as has implications for how quickly you can you can dissipate heat.

And that is very bad at it so I had to develop a style that was unlike most of the people I trained with and I really had to particularly once I became very serious in high school and was competing on a national level at one point. Develop a style that compensated for my weaknesses and capitalized on my strengths. And this a component of that was cutting weight. I had to get very good or one of the few advantages I had was I sweat very easily because of the sport there were regulation which meant I could cut water weight very dramatically in short periods of time so I became very good. And I had to study how this is how my self tracking developed. I had to study how the kidneys worked how sodium retention worked how potassium sparing diuretics work and I didn't use anything illegal at the time. I was just getting a very astute understanding of how all water is retained or expelled and and optimizing that for losing say you know 15 to 25 pounds in a 24 hour period in some cases which is very dangerous and I don't recommend anyone do it but that is part of wrestling and I would do that and rehydrate and say anywhere from six to 10 hours and then the crush my opponents.

Needless to say that that didn't scale perfectly to the highest levels because when you get to increasingly competitive arenas the the arsenal that people are familiar with is very broad. So when you get to the Nationals everyone is cutting a ridiculous amount of weights that no longer becomes a huge unfair advantage. But I think that those experiences wrestling and also. A handful of the coaches I had now that I think about it you know we were at you and I have chatted before about sort of the making the impossible possible. And I had coaches one in particular Mr. Buxton who by the way almost all of the people from that wrestling team just my class to my set of classes in high school who trained under Mr. Bucks and went on to do really incredible things. Later in life professionally almost all of them including my wrestling partner who went on to found donors choose dot org which is a massively successful nonprofit education nonprofit endorsed by Michelle Obama and Oprah so on. But Mr. Buckston would push us beyond the point we thought was humanly possible in each of our cases and if I was exhausted had to puke he'd be like there's the bucket for puking. You have more and you go get that done and come back. And I was just like oh my god. So well past the point that any one of us would have tapped out given up. Called it quits looked at ourselves as failures. He would push us through that sort of valley of death to the opposite side where we would come out stronger with more confidence believing that we could we could we could really do the impossible or what we had previously defined as impossible. So those are a few things that come to mind right off the bat as having a huge impact on everything that came afterwards.

So let me ask you this and this is where I want a start. You know having grown up with that stark contrasts of have and have nots and you yourself now you know having been exposed to wealth and accumulated a significant amount of wealth I mean how did that shape and change your view around wealth and money.

That's a big one. That's a good question. I have really thought of it I would say a few few things. The first is that when I was growing up and working in the summer as as a bus boy typically I noticed a huge difference between three classes of rich people. The one you had the old money. So people who'd had millions tens of millions billions of dollars for decades.

And those people were fine. They were actually very well behaved and polite. For the most part because they were over the fact that they had money does that make sense. They the the it would be poor taste for them to flaunt it in a really obnoxious way. And so I think in that respect that integrated money or wealth into an appropriate place and context in their lives those people were fine the D married. So the people who married into those families not always the case there were some real nuisances. I mean really entitled sort of like Duchesses of fill in the blank who would have a 10 person dinner with like 20 kids crying and screaming throwing bread around and then not tip at all. I mean it is really egregiously bad behavior. But generally speaking old money was fine then you had the self-made people. And I've I've I've heard this is a pretty eight or so is not everyone's experience with self-made folks but I ended up having the opportunity to to bus for Billy Joel one day and he was so gracious to me in answer to a bunch of the kind of silly questions because I felt like I had to ask him questions was my one once in a lifetime opportunity to talk to a celebrity. But he was he was really just a pleasant guy to interact with he was not rushed or abrasive.

And I could have just caught him on a bad day. Who knows. But he tipped me twenty dollars for a cup of coffee and that just had such a humongous it made such a humongous impression on me. The contrast between say that and the last class which was sort of the nouveau riche waving dollars in your face using money as a status symbol to put themselves above other people. Very oftentimes the locals were those just like pull up in Mercedes and park in a handicapped spot and be like fuck you if you give them any shit. Sue me on your side. What's really like. Well that's usually when the kids would tear off their head on or collecting hood ornaments for people like that was kind of a sport among a lot of my friends. And you know even at this point I have no sympathy for those folks. So but it has been challenging for me to reconcile going home and basically being a city person. We would always call them you know the city people all those goddamn city people. And now the fact of the matter is I have more friends in New York City than I do perhaps in my hometown and I still have friends I grew up with. It's not like I've abandoned those people homes. I know I was just texting with one of my childhood friends today who still lives out there.

But it's been challenging for me to figure out where I kind of fit in what I've concluded is maybe it's not important for me to conclude where I fit. It's important for me to find the appropriate category. I'm just somewhere in between. It's fine. It's OK. I see both sides of a lot of the arguments but I still tend to of course fall on the side of the locals. It's like I got Lyme disease last summer and was decimated for have been still dealing with a lot of health problems. And part of the reason there's so much Lyme disease is that there's a massive overpopulation of deer including many sick deer and older deer who should be called. And the proposal to have sharpshooters come in and thin the herd for health reasons was vetoed by city people who vacation out there. Aren't there full time and don't want to see Bambi get shot. It's like well that's great. You have this romantic association with these disease vectors these you know tick carrying large mice with hooves but you are using your sophisticated sort of politicking ability is coming out of the city where that's more highly valued to cause big problems for locals. And I still think that's bullshit but going off on perhaps but I bouncing back and forth between empathy for both sides. And so that's been challenging interesting.

So let me ask you this. One of the questions that comes up for me as I'm listening to Tim I think I lost you there for a second. Can you hear me. Yeah. It looks like it dropped off but it started over again. So I'll just ask a question again sorry about that I'll go back and edit this so don't sweat it. You know just listening to you talk about that. One of the questions that came up for me as I was thinking through it and hearing what you're saying is you know how has all of that affected you know sort of the social dynamics and relationship building that you do with sort of the influential and wealthy people that you interact with. And also one of the questions that I've asked so many people here who have accumulated wealth is what is it that separates sort of you know these people who are wealthy from a mindset perspective from the ones who struggle

Let's see. Let me answer the first question first to the first question. The answer to the first question is I am actually in a process of reducing my network so to speak or loose ties that require heavy management then I am in the process of building my network and what I've realized is another reason why I'm actually cutting down on the number of books I read is that I want to specialize in not just in case information or just in case relationships but just in time information and just in time relationships. And the reason for that is there's a there's a there's a. You know 90 percent less who knows decrease in cognitive burden when you approach it that way instead of reading like 10 business books in case and highlighting things in which case you if the information is actually needed you just need to go back and reread everything. What if I could establish a network of. And really when I say that I mean group of friends because it's a lot less effort to do the hard work on the front end to find world class performers who you can actually be friends with including outside interests and personal conversations and so on. Can I can I have a group of say 10 to 20 people who have access to anyone I would possibly need access to. And therefore any information I might need. And that is rather than having individual relationships with every contingency.

Resource right person or information or otherwise. Can I buy the fact that I'm being endorsed or backed by a close friend. Get in touch with a friend of theirs who can help me with say a medical issue like Lyme disease right. Like I immediately even though I didn't know them directly had access to two or three of the world's top infectious disease specialist. So that's that's how I think about it. And collecting business cards and going about networking in on mass for volume I think is a major mistake and I've never taken that approach even when I was fresh out of college and really didn't know anybody I know. I volunteered at events business events put on by that sort of startup nonprofits and so on or for or paid organizations that volunteer and to get to the point where I had more responsibility because I would take on additional responsibilities they didn't ask me to do and that really separates you as a volunteer. Most volunteers do barely enough just to get by because they feel like they've earned that since they're not getting paid which is a stupid perspective to have to take on additional responsibility until I was at a point where I could say interact and help organize panelists and speakers all of whom were very well-known and powerful and successful in their own right. And that is how a nobody gets to know at least on a very very minimal personal level to make a good impression on people who are like a thousand paygrade above you.

So I took that approach in terms of money and wealth. I don't think having a lot of money and being wealthy are the same things. I know a lot of people who literally have hundreds of millions of dollars who are very unhappy. But the saw in your question today is what makes someone truly wealthy. In my mind and what makes what allows someone to amass that amount of money. The first question what makes someone truly wealthy I think is a combination of not just achievement because it's easy it's very easy to default to racking up sort of feathers in the cap and more money and obsess on those types of measure bulls by focusing as an type personality on achievement. Just doing more and earning more. The the bigger challenge for people who are hardwired that way and I'm certainly this way is balancing that with appreciating what you have. And that is a necessary component because if you don't uproots for instance if you don't appreciate what you have now you will never appreciate what you get later. So what is the end goal of all this achieving achieving and amassing. So I build in a gratitude practice and journaling in the morning you know three things that I'm grateful for and so so on to make a habit of present state awareness of things that I already have.

Right. And number one how do you amass or what is the mindset that allows someone to amass that amount of money is I think the ability to completely question any type of assumption or best practice in any industry. Nothing is sacred. They are perfectly happy to turn everything upside down. And whether that's you know they say Oh like you need to be warm and fuzzy as an employee as a boss. Like that's the whole thing these days. It's like really Steve Jobs wasn't that way. Henry Ford was that way. There were harnesses. And if you're hardwired to be the hardest like look this is going to be a military organization and if you don't want to be part of that that's totally fine you can. You're opting in by applying for a job. But understand what you're signing up for like this is Seal Team 6. This isn't Teletubbies. And they might say it's like OK well people say you have to have an office and do this and raise money and this following way they're like Screw that. Right like automatic. They have they have they're worth more than a billion dollars. They power word press dot com and so on and they have a completely distributed workforce. Hundreds of people spread all over the world. No central no central office per se. And if I look at those types of folks I notice those things.

Also another thing that I noticed is they have trained themselves or are predisposed and I think it's a combination of both to not waste energy. And what I mean by that is I remember being to give a very clear example I was in Vietnam traveling. I had worked with room to read and a few other organizations to build libraries and schools in Vietnam and my readers that helped with that and I went on a trip to document it take photos and video and so forth. And we were playing pool a group of my my friends and I and one of them was Matt Mullen the CEO of automatic and I saw a tweet from a very well-known journalist who was like not happy looks like we're pressed ICOM is really slow right now. And I talked to Matt and he's like Yeah one of our two data centers is down. Tell him that we're working on it and he was just like sipping a beer and playing pool at the end of the day in Vietnam and I was like wait is get one of you two data centers. Isn't that a big fucking deal and he's this like doesn't do me any good to get all riled up my team is working on it. Absolutely zero point and me getting remotely ruffled feathers about it or anxious. And he didn't say it in exactly those words which is like they're working on it.

That's all we can do. And then just had a sieve. Barry went back to playing pool and he was completely unfazed. I mean completely unfazed. And I've noticed that in a lot of my friends here in Silicon Valley who just have fortunes beyond almost anyone's imagination. So those are a few things that come to mind right off the bat. Actually so we'll get into some of the things some of those guys just as a side note. I think that it's important to think about not just time management which is a buzz word that is used a lot but energy and attention management you can have all the time in the world. But if you're distracted preoccupied with something that's happening. For instance if you check your e-mail first thing Saturday morning even though you'd committed to do it on Monday morning and then you find a bunch of problems that you can't fix until Monday morning your weekend is gone. You're not going have any relaxation. You're not going to have any productivity. So you have all the time in the world but you have no tension. You have no energy because you're dissipating it with that preoccupation. Right so that's the type of thing these guys would not do because they understand the value of not just the time the time is worthless without attention and energy but the attention the energy itself.

So they actually have some questions around that. But I want to go back to an earlier part of our conversation about you know wrestling and a coach. This is something I've asked in some form or another to a bunch of people and I probably have asked it a dozen times because I haven't found an answer that satisfies me yet and I don't know that I ever will. Because it's those types of questions but you have this pivotal moment in your life. And you know you recognized it. And I'm wondering why you think we missed those moments and what we can do if we did happen to miss them.

I didn't realize what I was getting at the time. It's a very Mr. Miyagi type experience. It was only in retrospect that I realized how valuable that was. So it's not like at the time I was like oh thank god I'm getting this incredible education through these horrible drills that he's making me do until I vomit in a bucket it wasn't like that. I was like oh my god I am so exhausted how am I going to do my next set of classes because where I transfer to and New Hampshire I went to a boarding school we had classes from like 8 a.m. to 6:00 something P.M. mandatory sports mandatory chapel in the morning. It was brutal.

So I was more preoccupied or concerned with just keeping afloat and you know making sure my coifed hair looked good for girls or who knows what. At that point you know 15 years old 16 years old. But what can you do if you missed it. I don't think it's too late you can engineer these type of things. It's that's kind of the entire ethos of everything that I've done right the four hour workweek for a body for a chef is that it's not too late. I mean there are too many examples of people who start multimillion dollar companies in their 50s 60s who have massive breakthroughs are published their first award winning novels in their 50s 60s 70s. It's like the idea that you can't manifest this type of outsized incredible success in multiple areas or renegotiate basically the genetic limits you thought you had for muscle gain or loss or endurance. I mean there's so many of my readers who have taken what I've done in say for our body in every chapter like ultra endurance or the effortless superhuman or the breath holding any of these readers have have destroyed my results which people thought were crazy when they first read them. I have dozens and hundreds and thousands of readers who have just demolished my results who have 2x 3x my results in every one of those chapters and people can find I usually star a lot of them when they come up on Twitter so if you go to my Twitter favorite's at tea a two hours into as people can see some of them.

But. It's just not too late. I think it's like look you know spilt milk water under the bridge. Choose your metaphor bro. You know let's let's not let's not obsess on the past. Let's let's focus on how you can engineer that stuff right now and if you look at my career keep in mind nobody knew who the hell I was before 2007. Right. And this is you know I was about to turn 30 and certainly young. But if I hadn't written that book until 5 10 years later I could have published that book at a much later stage right and would it would it have struck the cord and had that impact. I don't know. But there are so many examples of this. You know it's like you take someone like Garrett camp who had a reasonable amount of success with StumbleUpon and so on but it wasn't until very recently. I mean in the last few years that Uber which he cofounded turned into what it is now right. And and there are people who'd say like oh yeah what he did at StumbleUpon wasn't a huge success or what he did in-between wasn't a huge success or whatever it is all the naysayers and the people who had at everyone's heels. And you know somebody said to me once you know statues aren't erected to critics and I think that that's it's a great thing to give mine. So the upshot of that is it's not too late. Focus on how to engineer those things because there are recipes that work and just model world class performers who exemplify the characteristics that you have.

And ideally model people who not only have the success in a given field that you want but also who have holistically the life that you want. Because you can find people with hundreds of millions of dollars who yell at their kids whose wives or husbands hate them who do a lot of drugs on the weekend or on the evenings just to live with themselves and you need to teach you need to keep in mind with the total picture is like do do I think Steve Jobs is an amazing creator on many levels a visionary a product guy as well as CEO. Absolutely of course. Do I think he was a happy guy. Probably not. But do I think that he was a plus. Was he a pleasure to be around. No he was not. Definitively. So it's good to look at it holistically and not just piecemeal. I mean there are things you can borrow from someone like Steve Jobs of course namely things like this is another one that groups these types of ultra performers together. He said something along the lines you know to do anything great you have to say no to 1000 small things and I'm paraphrasing that but that is also the Warren Buffett said what separates the people who are good from those who are great are the people who get good results and those people get great results is the people who get great results say no to almost everything. So be another observation that I've made over time repeatedly.

So one other thing you brought up earlier was that wrestling gave you an individualized style of competition and you know the reason I'm interested in how we find that in our own lives is because I think it's very easy especially on the Internet to get caught up in comparison and in competition with every single person that is out there. You know I mean I can look at you and think well I didn't accomplish what Tim did. And you know I've had a lot of awesome things happen in the last couple weeks and then the other thing I'm interested in talking about is this idea of compensating you are capitalizing on his strengths and compensating for your weaknesses and how you figure out how to do that in your own life. Does that make sense.

It does. The last part is perhaps a little easier to answer. I think that the comparison the the desire an impulse to compare yourself to others is is a it's a it's a it's an element of being a human being. I don't I don't think it's very hard to eradicate that completely I think. But what you can do is realize as is very popular he said here in Silicon Valley you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with physically emotionally financially and so on. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So you need to try to choose that inner circle very carefully and look at the people you are spending time with. So for instance and this doesn't mean you have to move to Silicon Valley and know the people I know you could join a local eco chapter entrepreneurs organization chapter for instance. And within that group in any in any given city you will find ballers you'll find just killers who are doing amazing jobs. And if you have dinner with such a person you sit down and talk about certain problems you're facing. You will probably have your mind blown it at their perspective or how they look at the problem and that has always just been a game changer for me. When I look at these guys and I have dinner with them and it's like my petty problems seem so trivial and ridiculous. They're the types of things that wouldn't even consume a millisecond of Matt Molineux takes time. For instance you'd expect but whatever. Drop it and then onto the next thing like is mostly obsessing on like you know what I should have said to that guy when he sent me that rude email fuck that guy should have done this and it's like this internal conversation in my head for four nights.

What a waste of energy. Right. And then you spend time with some of these guys or somebody that you seek out and find it say in yo chapter or elsewhere and you realize wow that was just the most egregious waste of energy imaginable and you start to model this person you look at them as a role model and you start to ask yourself for instance. And I've done this before I mean it sounds funny kind of weird and creepy hopefully that isn't listening to this. But yeah I interviewed that on the podcast it's a very good buddy of mine. But sometimes when I'm about to get angry and I catch myself because I'm very aggressive very impatient kind of prone to just barreling down and going on the offense which has helped me a lot of ways but it's not always help. I will ask myself what would Matt do like in this situation. What would Matt do. So that has been very very helpful pattern interrupt that I use in lieu of spending a ton of time with someone like Matt every day which is not going to happen necessarily because we're always traveling and so on but I can knowing him as well as I do. And you could get that even from a book like you read about Ben Franklin or Steve Jobs and what would Ben Franklin do. But for me it's what would Matt Molin do because I'm trying to absorb through osmosis the calmness that he has and do the same thing with a lot of my friends. Kevin Rose and other people they all had characteristics that I had that I want to develop myself.

All right let's take a quick break. I think both our responses to today's episode are first sponsor as advisor advisor gives you access to dozens of experts and hundreds of topics and many former unmistakable creative guests are on the platform. People like Sally Hogshead people like Seth Godin people like Pamela Slim. It's actually led app that acts as your personal set of advisers and mentors. It's completely free. It's available both on the android and the iPhone. You spell it a Udy CISO are. So make sure you check out advisor or other sponsor for today is the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and CAD offers to post baccalaureate certificates. Graphic design interactive design and marketing. The application deadline for fall classes is June 1st. Both programs are designed and scheduled with full time working professionals in mind. The graphic design program offers a mixture of evening on campus classes and online classes for students who need flexibility in their schedules to add value in in person classroom experience. M. Kads Postbank programs are perfect for working professionals are interested in refreshing their design and development skills. Want to learn totally new skills to help further their career in creative pursuits. Remember the applications for Fall 2015 are due June 1st. For more information please visit MCAD dot edu slash professional that's MC Lady dot edu slash professional so let me ask you this.

When you first started pitching the four hour workweek I know you got rejected by you know what it's like 27 or 29 publishers I don't remember the exact yeah I've lost count between somewhere between 26 and 27 publishers.

So my question is actually around managing your own psychology through this process of the entrepreneurial journey. And I'm interested in a couple of different things here. One is do you think that grit is something that certain people just inherently have built into them or is it something we can cultivate. And if so how and in your own sort of journey to getting to where you're at. Had you ever had any really sort of rock bottom or dark moments where you just felt like you could see no hope for your future.

So grit grit or stick to it liveness I'm guessing is how we could define that.

I would imagine there's a genetic component there's a component to just about everything but it is also a it is also a coachable and learnable skill I think or attribute and you know one of one of Matt Boehland Mike not to make the show but one of the things that he said to me long ago when I was I asked him well is it this or is it this. And he said that's a false dichotomy and that's a fancy way of saying it doesn't have to be either or. So whenever somebody offers me like well you can do a or b like I'm like could we do both what is option C and you know a Henry Ford would say you know when you think you've when you've looked at all the options just remember you haven't. And so I would say that that grit can be developed by sequentially or Ashens is clinically progressively exposing yourself to discomfort in different ways. And that makes you more comfortable with ploughing through pain or temporary embarrassment and things like that which is why there are these comfort challenges in the four hour workweek which people resonated incredibly with got a great response from it's like every chapter it's like look I'm telling you what to do but you're not going to do it unless you have some certain level of comfort with discomfort. So here's an exercise to make you very uncomfortable you know go to Starbucks and lay down on the floor for ten seconds without telling anyone what you're doing and then just get back out and you're not going to cause any harm no.

And it's like there's no real harm to be had there but it will make you very uncomfortable. And they seem silly but those things transfer those things transfer very very well. So so grit is really a matter of practice and exposure. Have I hit rock bottom moments. Oh yeah I've had tons of plenty of rock bottom moments and a lot of the males in my extended family have predisposition to depression. So I've had extended bouts of depression and feeling like there was no hope and there were no options and I was stuck in a corner no options at all etc. and I've you know I've written about that in one post called productivity hacks or productivity tricks for the neurotic manic depressive and crazy and then imprints like me. So if you look for productivity hacks or tricks for neurotic and my name the postal pop write up and I talk about how I talk about one of my particular difficult depressive periods and how that affected my behaviour and my my my my self perception insecurities and so on the it's been said by for instance Costa motos who was the trainer of Mike Tyson at his heyday that you know that the hero in the coward feel the same thing. It's how the hero responds that is different. And I. I think that everyone unless you're a mutant. But most people I have met including I mean household names you would know that you are have sort of superhero status have these days they have days where it's like they hit snooze for an hour or two on a weekend because they don't want to get up because they have these neurotic and rude thoughts in their head and they just do not want to face the day.

I mean this is this is not uncommon. It is part of the human condition. So I think that. My general coping mechanism there are a couple of them and I elaborate on them in the in the blog post quite a bit but exercise is kind of the cure all for a lot of biochemical reasons for a lot of structural reasons meaning creating something in your day as a peg upon which to hang everything else if you're trying to get back on your feet. I find that that exercise which could just be a long walk and I'm I think walking is very underrated. I try to walk an hour or two a day which I'm not doing for any any fitness purpose. It is. We've we've made a lot of evolutionary tradeoffs to be able to walk and parabola the distances that we can cover as human beings. It's true like we've made a ton of sacrifices to do that with the nuchal ligament and everything in the back of our head which prevents our heads from wobbling like a pig. When we walk anyway. So those are those are a few of my thoughts on those two questions.

Do you think these depressive tendencies are just a part of sort of a hero's journey if you're going to do anything of great significance like you have to go through a tough time like it's a rite of passage almost. I think so.

I mean if you're going to do anything extraordinary by definition it is extraordinary you will be unaccustomed to experiencing the stresses that go along with that and the stresses can be internal it can be external they can be you stress EU like euphoria good stress that builds you up and helps you grow like lifting weights. You can experience that in a business capacity or it can be distress which is tearing you down and oftentimes it's a combination of both depending on how you how you look at that stress your perspective or the lens through which you look at it but

The you have been doing some screenwriting and is just a hobby recently and it's yeah I have I have the Writer's Journey right next to me which is talking about Joseph Campbell and how that fits into movies like Star Wars and so forth.

The All Is Lost the moment is pretty real. I've got to tell you. And what was what was funny about the whole funny in retrospect not when it was happening filming the first experiment where we were tackling these crazy skills every week like you know professional poker. All right. Was like I know nothing of that I'm going to play against professionals for thousands of dollars in like four days or learning a language well enough and you know three or four days to go on live TV and for six minutes and that language just crazy crazy stuff is it became almost a running joke for my crew that like every every second day of filming the night of every second day I would basically have a nervous breakdown. And I suppose and I never thought of it this way but you could probably take the hero's journey and map it right on to every single episode and watch me just like crash and burn and self-doubt and like self loathing. Almost every time like the end of the second day or depending on the skill you like the middle of middle to end of the third day. So I think that is part of it. That's why it's it's it's helpful to get into the practice of I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who recommended this but every day doing something that you fear like every day do one thing whatever it is you know approaching a cute girl and just saying hi could be that simple laying down in Starbucks and having that uncomfortable conversation you've been putting off calling maybe a parent that you have that you've grown a little distant from and saying I love you something really vulnerable like that.

I mean it could be any of these things. Like every day do one thing that makes you nervous makes you fearful. And you know on top of that you know I would also put in that basket of rituals that I find very helpful. You reach out to someone and express gratitude is say thank you to someone that you haven't said thank you to in a long time or ever. Could be a childhood friend it could be someone you went to college with you talked to in ten years could be a co-worker you see everyday whatever it is if you do those two things every day man I really feel like those tiny micro changes cumulatively can just produce monsters in the best way possible. Monsters of productivity and his breakout successes.

It's the little things that we do repeatedly that make us very very cool. So you know this all leads into talking about the TV show the big questions that has been on my mind. I knew I was going to talk to you I was trying to think about how do we get an angle on this but you have so many interests and different projects that you work on and something that I was really curious about is how you choose what you're going to work on and how do you know. Like how do you decide that Hey this is what I'm going to do next. It seems like anything is an option at this point.

With great difficulty. Well you know I read a book recently several chapters of which I thought were fantastically good called Hu and it is a book about hiring and it's written by or at least coauthored by the son of the author of a book called Top graining which is considered by a lot of CEOs to be that the book on hiring. But those who've read both say that who is more direct more actionable and. That book takes the perspective which is maybe a contrast to say Simon Sinek is a start with why right start with why. Then you figure out the how and so on but these guys start with who. Which you pick the people you want to work with and that dictates the projects that you choose now. I don't 100 percent fall in either of those camps but I do think that the latter is very interesting to ponder because I so strongly believe that you are the average of the five people you associate with most. It's like all right well what if I picked the people I wanted to work with and that dictated my projects even if I did that for a six month period of time. What would happen. And I have been trying to do that more and more and I have keeping in mind and it's taken me a long time to realize this but a good deal with a bad person is a bad deal in the sense contracts don't protect you against anything really. I mean he gives you the right to sue someone later perhaps but contracts are only as good as the people who signed them. And so if you think you've got Golomb can make millions of dollars from this deal it's great.

Like Yazz guys kind of pain in the ass here is like sometimes goes back on his word blah blah blah. But this contract is amazing. We've negotiated it. It's going to be beautiful. It's not going to be viewed. I can almost guarantee you that that deal is going to sour as soon as the paperwork is signed. And to that end there are people I've really really enjoyed working with overtime or just enjoy hanging out with. And that's how I've ended up advising a lot of the companies that I advise for that matter. You know I'm really close friends with say Garrett camp and so I become an adviser to stumble upon stumble upon doesn't quite work out as everyone might hope. But then Uber happens and I end up being an advisor to Uber will thank God for that. You know and it's just been a revelation for me to realize that much earlier than you would think. You don't have to wait until you're making billions of dollars to make this decision. You can choose who you want to work with in a lot of ways. There's there's actually a lot of latitude for people do that even if you feel like you have no leverage and you're a new hire at your first job. And this is why one of the core skills you have to learn is how to communicate well and negotiate. So go get books like getting past know or the secrets of power negotiating by Dawson and practice roleplay. Go to a farmers market on the weekends and use that as your comfort exercise to haggle for things. And don't be a total dick. Actually buy something don't just haggle everyone.

It is like a total bastard move and that I think is yeah that's how that time frame these things.

It's interesting because I maybe subconsciously doing that without even realizing it like I've realized that almost every project I have chosen to do that I you know really enjoy doing has always involved some sort of creative person or an artist in the last two years and like if I don't get to work with somebody like that that I'm like why are we doing this if it's just you know mechanics and marketing I'm bored to death.

Yeah absolutely. And I mean we could talk about all different aspects of this but how people choose projects. I also am choosing projects with certain minimal threshold so if there is a financial component and there sometimes financial components like well if you say yes to everything that is kind of cool. You will not have the bandwidth to do the hell yes amazing game changing things. Does that make sense. Oh yeah. And I heard of a demo that was done in a classroom at one point that that really stuck with me. I think I read about this where a professor took a mason jar you know one of these large ish glass containers and he said All right. Watch this. I have a cup of sand a couple of smaller rocks and then I have two big rocks. And he put in the sand then put in the mixed rocks and then he couldn't fit even one of the large Roxanne. And then he said but what if we do this a different way and then he took another mason jar put two big rocks and then the smaller rocks and then the sand and everything. It is like you have to choose the big things first or you won't be able to fit them in later. And that is very difficult to do particularly when you have a degree of say public exposure and a lot of inbound offers like I'm very fortunate in a way but also cursed to have a lot of kind of cool things that come across my plate every day and for a very long period of time. This was probably last year I was drowning in kind of cool things where I was like a six out of 10 excited.

And I'd made all these commitments and I was actually pretty unhappy. I was I was drowning in these things that I wasn't totally lit up by but that were kind of cool. And I didn't have the bandwidth to do. I had to miss and say no to one or two things that were absolutely what I would have wanted to take up all my time because I had too many preexisting commitments and I've made a concerted effort to reorganize organize my life to avoid that type of problem. But it's it's very challenging. You have to you have to get comfortable saying no to almost everyone and recognizing that there is no one path to success but the path to failure is certainly trying to make everyone happy and in a digital world where everyone expects an immediate response. Of course people are good people are going to get hurt feelings and you have to establish meditative practice or some type of preparation for your day that will allow you to accept that and not try to put a bandaid on everyone by making commitments and Marcus really as I'm a huge Stoic philosophy fan and proponent and I read Stoic philosophy all the time because I think it's a great operating system for high stress environments but you know Marcus Aurelius Meditations and one of his letters and I'm going to pry masker this because I'm paraphrasing but if something like you know today you will be faced by ungrateful people who are petty who have you know trivial vendettas who are going to be obnoxious and rude and otherwise make your life difficult.

He's like basic just preparing for that so that he's mentally prepared and isn't blindsided doesn't react in a non conscious way that compromises him so it makes sense he's like look this is going to happen. So let me prepare for in advance mentally so that I make the right I have the I have the correct response. And so. So I use stablished policies for instance I have a policy where if any startup tries to rush me into a decision by applying false time constraints I'm out because that's bad behavior as far as I'm concerned so they're like hey you know we've never talked before. But so it's I that I should email and we're doing this and around is closing in 48 hours. You know are you at minimum is this amount of money and I'm like sorry I can't make a decision that quickly. What is your leeway in there like no man we're closing right now we've are already overcommitted. I'm like All right cool. Well then peace. Good luck. I'll see if I can I can cheer from the sidelines. But I do not and I borrowed that from another investor who was very very successful and that's one of his policies. It's like if you try to rush me unreasonably you're out. I don't care how good the deal is. I don't care how awesome you are if you try to apply that kind of false time constraint about and just having that rule gets rid of 30 percent of the pitches 40 percent of the pitches that I get.

Very easy. You know other rules I might have are if someone sends me a deal. They're like hey man wanted to introduce you to the CEO or interested this deal. It's like it is in a borrowing all these. I didn't make it up. Is this one of the top three entrepreneurs that you would back in. Are you investing in this deal. If the answer is no to either one of those then I'll pass right. And just by doing that which is really hard to do consistently because people are like my God like with that guy I invested my other deal I feel badly so I'm going to invest and you might have to do some of that political you like social capital work. But if you do it all the time you get bad returns. And I've had really crazy returns in the startup world. I mean people can check out all my deals that Angel List Angel Scott CEO forward slash Tim you can see you know 30 40 deals done and it's not because I'm an idiot savant when it comes or just a savant when it comes to angel investing it's that I borrowed these rules. And so those are the recipes that I try to find. No matter what I'm doing and then you can get these crazy you can get these crazy returns whether it's learning language or learning drumming or are startup investing without Warren Buffett like predisposition because the guy is like a robot. I don't know how he does what he does.

So that's that's how that's that's how we think about it.

Well this I mean we're getting close to about an hour here and I haven't really given you a chance to talk about the TV show but I wanted to go to one specific thing that you learned just because I being an avid surfer that was the one that I picked so it was like Let's talk about that whole experience and you talked about each show being a hero's journey of sorts in the surfing what happened to be my favorite because I remember when somebody told me I said I'm like how's it going to work as a surfer I know one thing the variables are never the same. Like it's always inconsistent. So I'm really interested in what that whole experience was like for you.

Surfing was tough. Surfing was really tough. Not surprising. Like you said because it's not it's not you're not just learning how to balance on a board you're not just learning how to pop up you're not just learning how to ride once you are up but you have to learn.

Like you said to navigate and try to predict a constantly changing environment and terrain. And so it's completely unlike something like snowboarding for instance right. So it's it's also completely unlike snowboarding in the sense that there are there are many more physical attributes that are that are developed over time for surfing specifically you know I had Laird Hamilton helping me which was pretty awesome. That guy is just a beast for those people who don't know he's considered the undisputed king of big wave surfing for very good reasons I mean he's been on the cover of surfing magazine just with the title oh my god is the headline Yeah and he's 50 51. And the guy is a better athlete than almost every twentysomething professional athlete I've ever met. The guy is just a monster and he's one of things he said to me as he there should really call surfing paddling because that is ninety nine percent of the time that you're going spend on the water. And the best paddlers and almost always the best surfers. So it was not only deconstructing all that but figuring out all right if you're unfamiliar with the water much more so if you're afraid of the water like I like I have been my whole life and particularly drowning what is the sequence that you use to try to establish a basic vocabulary that you can use on the water.

And it was it was a really terrifying embarrassing but ultimately it's I mean I don't overuse this word like life changing experience and after that this was not chronicled although I have some I have some pictures I went to Costa Rica with a friend of mine with a couple of surfing coaches and bike surfed on my own in Costa Rica and waves that were. These are 30 foot waves with are for. I mean over my head which is huge for me and it it was it was a really awesome experience. And what made it the most. The biggest takeaway for me was removing my own excuses killing my own excuses because I talked to friends. Doesn't matter what age they're the 27 they're like Yemen and you know once here and once you bust 24 of whom are jointer and then you talk to somebody who's 30 they're a criminal and turn 30 you know like the old Dunhill and he's like somebody 35 40. They all have that same excuse like all you know and then I'm hanging out with Laird Hamilton in his 50s and he will crush any fool like. All right. Oh you're the first round draft pick from the NFL yeah. Come to my gym he'll crush like he's just a beast. And. But I was like all right well that's Laird right. And I think people do the same thing with me sometimes like what's Tim Veras.

So I'm like oh it's Larry it's of course I couldn't do that then I meet a bunch of our Titis who's one of the Hawaiian elders. The amazing surfer who we interact with and it looked at a photo on his wall surfing like a I mean to me it looked like a 50 foot wave. And in Hawaii they measure they they measure the face of the way they measure from the back not the face. It's it's like yeah it's 20 foot wave and then somebody visiting from California goes out and just almost dies because it's actually 40 feet tall and so Titis. There's his picture on his garage wall riding this just behemoth of a wave. I mean one of the biggest things I've ever seen. And he's like oh yeah you know is my fiftieth birthday and I want it to take a commemorative photos. We went out and surfed so like oh my god. All right. All the excuses are complete bullshit. Like I just have to I just have to euthanize all of them one in a head just like you know one at a time. Just take them all out behind the garage and shoot them in the head because it's there such b.s. such total B.S.. So you know I'm hoping to help people do the same thing where it's like come on if you're putting someone on a pedestal it's not because they deserve to be on the pedestal it's because you don't want to take the responsibility for the fact that the excuse you're giving is total B.S.

and I've just seen too many outliers too many seemingly freaks of nature. Do things that it turns out you can replicate this with the right recipe. The crib sheets. Surfing was a great experience and I also had one day this is in Kauai and I was out on the water and seeing other on the water with with one of the other coaches and calmly Alexander whose last name is he was amazing. And there is like a sea turtle like by my feet. And then there was a double rainbow and then we saw a whale and I'm like you got to be kidding me. This is like one of those sort of cheesy murals that you see on the wall with like the wave all thing and the otter underwater and the rainbow and I was like yeah right. I mean maybe on a T-shirt that you'd buy it like Fisherman's Wharf. But that that stuff doesn't happen and then it all happened once in quiet as I write you know it even if I am a terrible surfer I get why people surf diving even if you're a terrible technical surfer. I totally understand why they come out whenever possible to do this.

Oh yeah. I've been doing it for about seven years now and I mean the minute you stand up for the first time that. Your life is divided into two distinct moments before and after surfing.

Yeah. And I think that's true with a lot of skills right. I mean having learned to swim in my 30s before and after like there is before swimming and after swimming and the the scope of things that seem possible to me is infinitely larger as a result. And I think that's true with with a lot with a lot of skills. And that was true for me you know tenfold over with all the experiments.

Wow. Well Tim I know you've got to get going here it seems like we get you to talk for another hour easily about all the things that you have going on. So I want to wrap with my final question which is how we close all our interviews here at the unmistakable creative. What do you think it is that makes somebody or something unmistakable.

Something that makes someone unmistakable is being different and not just better and part of doing that is knowing that self and being true to yourself be be that weird person which is yourself you are not normal. No one is normal. No such thing. And embrace the things that make you unique even if you might view them as weaknesses like me like my impatience for instance I have harnessed that and channeled it into specific categories of activities where that is rewarded to the extent possible. And it's not always a help but you know take that and use it. And if you think you're quirky and weird guess what I bet there are 10000 people out there who love exactly that type of quirkiness and weirdness and that is what I've done in my books. That is what I've done on the podcast and the challenge is with pressure from people outside who might say do this because you'll hit a bigger market. Do this because it will appeal to these people is sticking to your guns and being consistent and if you're just yourself and have that consistency it will set you apart.

Well Tim this has been really really eye opening and insightful and I can't thank you enough for taking the time to join us and share some of your insights and your story and parts of your journey that we haven't heard before with our listeners.

Yeah totally my pleasure man and I I would encourage people I thought for a year to get the rights to to make these resurrected. But the the TV show I'm putting on all 13 episodes at once. There were the the most incredible teachers you've ever seen. And it basically delivers a playbook for becoming a world class performer that anyone can use and it's time for us experiment. So on iTunes you can find it iTunes dotcom Forsyth's Tim Ferriss with two hours to S.S and then if you want extras and extended scenes conversations with layered and Titis that didn't make it into the show for instance then you can go and find that a four hour work week dot com forward slash TB cool and for everybody listening.

We'll wrap the show with that if you like what you heard the greatest compliment you could give us to share the show with a friend and let people know what you think. By leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening to the unmistakable Chris.

Automatically convert audio to text with Sonix


Get an Unfair Creative Advantage

I’ve created a swipe file of my best creative strategies. Follow it and you’ll kill your endless distractions, do more of what matters to you, in higher quality and less time. Just enter your email address below.

© 2017 Unmistakable Creative Podcast