A Q&A with Tim Ferriss: Happiness, Dating, Depressive Episodes & Much More – The Tim Ferriss Show

Check out the Tim Ferriss Show Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Tim is working on two books at the moment: one that’s not coming out for quite some time on self-love/healing, and another which should be announced shortly (which sounds to be a bit like Tribe of Mentors – Part II)
  • “The way you build confidence is by doing things that are just outside of your comfort zone and repeatedly doing so, much like you would by going into the gym and slowly increasing the discomfort, and thus your range of comfort, so your sphere of comfortable action expands.” – Tim Ferriss
  • Everything starts with your physical state 
    • Physical state —> the story you tell yourself —> strategy
  • The best way to network is by playing the long game
  • “When you choose projects, try to ensure you can win even if you fail” – Tim Ferriss
    • Choose projects based on the skills you’ll develop and relationships you’ll build
  • Instead of seeking to become the best in the world at one thing, combine two seldom combined skills where you’re in the top 25%
  • Always be asking yourself: Where can I make one decision that eliminates 1,000 decisions?
  • Taking the time to think deeply and journal on the question, “How am I complicit in creating the conditions I saw I don’t want?” could change your life
  • Mental rest is just like physical rest – it’s a necessity
  • You are the average of the 5 people you associate with most: physically, financially, and emotionally
    • If you want to improve in one of those areas, find people who help average you up

Books Mentioned

Intro

  • This episode is a replay of a live Q&A Tim Ferriss hosted for supporters of his podcast during a brief experiment in which he got rid of sponsors

What’s Tim working on? [07:15]

  • In these Podcast Notes, Greg McKeown encouraged Tim to take a deep dive and write a book on self-love & healing
    • Tim IS working on this book – “That book is going to be my main priority after I finish another book which should be announced very shortly”

If Tim were 24 today and living in NYC, how would he approach dating? How can one become more successful in the dating market? [09:15]

  • Tim’s girlfriend, in the past, was a dating coach
    • Her advice: Go to the same bar/restaurant multiple days in advance before a date, and then make that your go-to location
      • (Tim talks more about this in The 4-Hour Chef
      • Why? – You get to know the staff, they’ll likely treat you better, you’ll get special treatment/special favors, etc.
        • AND – it removes uncertainty
  • Use Bumble, Tinder, etc.
    • NYC is a gold mine!
  • For some more advice on gaining confidence, read: The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida
    • Another excellent book recommendation for males: The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss
    • Tim adds – “If you feel you lack confidence interacting with women, you can condition and train yourself to be more confident. It is not a mental trick.” 
      • “The way you build confidence is by doing things that are just outside of your comfort zone and repeatedly doing so, much like you would by going into the gym and slowly increasing the discomfort, and thus your range of comfort, so your sphere of comfortable action expands.” Tim Ferriss
  • Remember – he/she who cares the least wins

Does Tim still experience depressive episodes? [15:32]

  • He hasn’t had one in the last 5-6 years
  • What’s helped? (and what can you do to prevent depressive periods?)
    • A lot of therapeutic psychedelic work
    • Reading The Work by Byron Katie
      • Give this one a read if you feel as if you’re a prisoner to thought loops that may not be the most beneficial
    • Do Tony Robbins’ exercises – Tim found the Dickens Process to be highly valuable
    • Exercise!
      • It’s very easy to try and think your way out of a funk. Instead:
        • Start with your physical state –>
        • The story you tell yourself –>
        • The strategy
      • If you’re in a depressed state, the story you tell yourself will be non-optimal, and therefore the strategy you come up will be inferred by that negative state
      • Tim often does some kettlebell work in the morning (kettlebell swings)
    • Optimize your diet
    • Get adequate sleep
      • Tim highly recommends Dr. Matthew Walker’s 3-part podcast interview with Peter Attia (check out the Podcast Notes for Part 1)

What advice would Tim have for someone considering a major life transition? [18:55]

  • (Ex. – Stable career to entrepreneur)
  • Do the Fear-Setting exercise (Tim does it at least once a quarter)
    • “Fear-setting takes whatever is causing your fear, uncertainty, or doubt… and puts it under a microscope and dissects it” – Tim Ferriss
    • The exercise allows you to see that the worst-case scenarios are often avoidable, reversible, or very temporary

Does Tim have a process or tool that helps him read so many books? [20:29]

  • He speed reads (check out this old blog post of Tim’s where he explores this more in-depth)
  • Book selection is also an element 
    • If a book is outstanding, it makes it easier to read
    • In general, old books that have stood the test of time > new books
  • Tim always reads/highlights books on his Kindle
    • He then copies his highlights into Evernote (he’ll even do this for fiction books)
      • Tim will put “***” next to any highlights he finds particularly valuable

Do the workouts in The 4-Hour Body still apply to someone on a keto diet instead of the slow-carb diet that was originally featured in the book? [25:04]

  • As background: the slow-carb diet is a low glycemic diet
  • Yes, but… it’s undoubtedly more difficult to add muscle on a ketogenic diet compared to a slow-carb diet
    • You can counteract this by following a cyclical ketogenic diet (AKA going off keto a few days a week)

If Tim started out creating an automated cash flow business today (as outlined in The 4-Hour Workweek), what would be the route he’d take given the tools and tech of 2019? [28:21]

  • The 4-Hour Workweek, for the most part, holds up” – Tim Ferriss
    • The technology discussed may change, but the principles will pretty much always remain the same
      • If you understand the principles, you can adapt and apply them to today’s current technology

Given what is known about the benefits of intermittent fasting, does Tim still stand by the 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up recommendation from The 4-Hour Body? [31:06]

  • Yes
  • Why? – It comes down to adherence
    • Many people have trouble with intermittent fasting and thus don’t comply
    • The degree of compliance with the slow-carb diet/eating protein first thing upon waking is much higher
      • “30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up is absolutely achievable for almost anyone; it’s very easy to do” – Tim Ferriss

Podcasts are getting competitive and crowded. Will there be a shift in Tim’s strategy to remain competitive? [35:58]

  • “I have never thought of competition in the world of podcasting, or in the world of books either… I don’t think of competition because I always aim to create a category of one.” – Tim Ferriss
  • How can someone differentiate?
    • Experiment with ultra-short or ultra-long episodes
    • Find guests who no one’s ever heard of, yet you know they’ll be a smash hit
  • “I am always trying to be different and better” – Tim Ferriss

How does Tim network and get connected to people with whom he has no prior connection? Does he simply continue to provide value until they bring him into their circle? [39:13]

  • First off: “I do not think of adding value, and I certainly never ask, ‘How can I add value?’ That’s a huge red flag for me when someone asks me that.” – Tim Ferriss
    • Why not? – It’s most likely a precursor to an enormous favor request
  • “The way you network is by playing the long game” – Tim Ferriss
    • Move slowly and build deep relationships
    • When you play the long game, you blow past your competitors
  • For more advice, check out Tim’s podcast – How to Build a World-class Network in Record Time (Podcast Notes)

Why does Tim never talk about politics? [39:13]

  • He certainly doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, assuming he knows listeners are willing to change their perspectives (AKA he knows those listening are looking for education, as opposed to a fight)
    • Politics do NOT fit this bill – everyone’s looking for data to support what they already believe to be true
      • “If everyone coming to the party has already decided what they believe, and it’s just a matter of rolling up their sleeves and punching one another in the face, then I have very little interest– Tim Ferriss
  • Tim, instead, tries to focus on information people can use to make positive changes for themselves and others

General Advice for a 23-year-old [46:36]

  • Start meditating and do it first thing in the morning
  • “When you choose projects, try to ensure you can win even if you fail” – Tim Ferriss
    • Choose projects based on the skills you’ll develop and relationships you’ll build – those will then transcend the duration of the project
  • Instead of seeking to become the best in the world at one thing, combine two seldom combined skills where you’re in the top 25%

Everybody talks about the same things for reaching your goals: persistence, grit, focus, etc. What are the things — particularly the ugly (or at least less sexy) things — nobody talks about? [51:30]

  • Talking to those who’ve approached the skill before to ask them when you should expect sticking points, plateaus, or dips in performance/moral
    • Tim talks more about this in The 4-Hour Chef
    • This is similar to the idea of the “Trough of Sorrow” (in relation to building a startup)
      • BUT – things like this are predictable (and therefore don’t have as severe a psychological impact if you plan for them)
        • View it as part of the process, not a problem
    • “Know that reaching your goals is rarely a straight line. It’s not a hockey stick form the bottom left to the top right; it rarely is.” – Tim Ferriss
  • Know the rules of the game, the stakes at play (upside or downside), and when to quit (this is often neglected)
    • On this last part, ask yourself – “Can I decide in advance what the checkboxes should be for when I walk?”
      • If you don’t do this, it’s very easy to end up persisting towards a goal that’s no longer worth focusing on

Tim Gives His Thoughts on His Ad-free Podcast Experiment [58:59]

  • Tim’s listeners rely on him for finding new products/services via ads – they know his vetting process is top-notch
    • Therefore, they like the ads
    • (He’s since switched back to an ad-supported model)

How does one determine what type of learner they are? [1:01:08]

  • It’s helpful to know how you best absorb material, whether:
    • Through audio format
    • By text
    • Through video
    • Reading at the same time as listening to an audiobook (many report this increases their reading speed)
  • Tim describes himself as a visual learner
  • As far as how – Tim isn’t quite sure

How might someone get away from a goal-oriented mindset in which happiness becomes dependent on achievement? [1:04:43]

  • A valuable skill: when looking at a statement or question, cultivating the ability to identify the assumptions built into that statement or question
    • This question assumes that goals and appreciation can’t survive together
      • You can certainly have both a goal-oriented mindset + an appreciation-oriented practice, not either-or – goals and appreciation CAN survive side by side
  • Realize: “If you cannot be happy with what you have, nothing you ever get will make you happy” – Tim Ferriss
    • “Money, like alcohol and power, tend to make you more of what you already are”

In his interview with Jocko Willink, Tim said he initially wanted complete freedom but realized that was too stressful and that he wanted positive constraints instead. Could he elaborate? [1:09:36]

  • “The paradox of choice is a real issue” – Tim Ferriss
  • There are many things Tim prefers to have on autopilot
    • Batch ordering toilet paper, paper towels, dog food, etc.
  • Always be asking yourself: Where can I make one decision that eliminates 1,000 decisions?
    • One example from Tim’s life – no more startup investing (saying no to all investments prevents him from having to decide on each individual investment)
  • Creativity is best applied with some constraints
    • If you can do anything, the decision tree is just too broad
    • Examples:
      • Steve Jobs wearing the same thing every day

How can you build patience apart from meditation? [1:15:21]

  • Decrease your caffeine intake
    • “I can meditate 3 times a day or cut my caffeine intake in half; the results are more or less the same” – Tim Ferriss
  • Read books that talk about becoming the observer of your own emotional states
    • Awareness by Anthony De Mello – Tim has read it 3 times
    • The Work by Byron Katie (and do the worksheets!)

What insights did Tim take away from his interview with Jerry Colonna (Podcast Notes)? [1:17:54]

  • The importance of continuously asking yourself: “How am I complicit in creating the conditions I saw I don’t want?”
    • Tim adds – “That is a fantastic question. That is the type of question, if you really take the time to think about it and journal on it, that could really change your life.”

How does Tim balance growth and learning with mental rest to avoid overwhelm as he pursues personal growth? [1:20:44]

  • Mental rest is something Tim prioritizes
    • On the day he recorded this Q&A, he woke up at 7:30 AM, went back to sleep, and woke up again at 9:30 AM
      • In the past, he would have pushed through it, but he stayed in bed and just shortened his work day
  • “Mental rest I view just like physical rest. If you’re really pushing yourself cognitively, it’s just like pushing yourself physically in the weight room or marathon training. There’s a limit to what you can sustain, and there are recovery periods you need to build into your life, so you can repair and regenerate.” – Tim Ferriss
  • How does Tim practice mental rest? – By listening to his body
    • “And by realizing that that I’m just not that important. Guess what? If I’m exhausted and need an extra hour of sleep, I’m not the leader of the free world. The global economy won’t come to a halt, and millions of orphans won’t be thrown out of windows. – Tim Ferriss
      • Plus – when properly restored and rejuvenated, you can accomplish so much more

Which of Tim’s past guests does he think should have their own podcast? What benefits might you enjoy by starting your own? [1:25:48]

  • “Pretty much anyone who’s been on this podcast who speaks well without too many verbal ticks should have their own podcast” – Tim Ferriss
  • Having a podcast is incredibly valuable for refining your thinking, improving your ability to ask questions, listen, and remove verbal (and thus mental) ticks

A Truth Tim Believes With Which Few Might Agree [1:27:13]

  • “Shame is a powerful and effective motivator we should make better use of” – Tim Ferriss
    • “A fear of social ridicule is a hell of a thing”

What is Tim’s current morning routine? [1:33:11]

  • Wake up
  • Meditate for 20 minutes 
  • Jump in the pool and do 10-15 short laps to wake up/get some sun exposure
  • Hit the sauna with printed out writing from the day before to edit for 20-25 minutes
  • Take a cold shower
  • Have breakfast
  • Make pu-erh tea with a dash of green tea
  • Do some writing or chat with his researcher who’s helping him with his current book project
  • Tim then works for 3-4 hours at his treadmill desk
  • Next, he hops on his bike and heads to lunch at a cafe where he has the same wrap every single day, along with cold iced tea and San Pellegrino sparkling water
    • Tim will continue to work outside at the cafe for 2-3 hours
  • Head home, work for a few more hours
  • Head out for dinner (it’s a working dinner)
  • Come back home and either sauna, take a cold bath, or take a dip in the pool
  • Get to bed

What advice would Tim give to his 42-year-old self if he were starting from zero? Does it differ from the advice he would give to his 23-year-old self? [1:36:17]

  • You are the average of the 5 people you associate with most: physically, financially, and emotionally
    • If you want to improve in one of those areas, find people who help average you up
  • Choose projects based on skill and relationship development
  • Meditate first thing in the morning
  • Don’t forget to exercise (move!)
    • Tim has found that morning exercise (swimming) in combination with sun exposure makes a huge difference in his perceived quality of each day

Rapid Fire Questions/Answers

  • An Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Stack [08:00]
  • If Tim had to pick one interview from the many in Tools of Titans, which one would he choose and why? [44:59]
    • It’s impossible to choose just one: “But it’s hard to go wrong with Naval Ravikant; the density of insight per sentence is very difficult to beat” – Tim Ferriss
  • Why doesn’t Tim host conferences? [45:35]
    • He prefers the flexibility of podcast conversations and then sharing them with millions of people
  • Does Tim drink a glass of wine every night? [49:21]
    • Nope – in fact, he’s had just ~5 glasses in the past few months
  • Has Tim ever considered having Jordan Peterson on the podcast? [1:08:52]
    • Yes indeed, perhaps at some point
  • If Tim could go back and add one question to his list of questions asked in Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors, what would it be and why? [1:09:10]
    • “What are your rules for saying yes or no to things? What language do you use when you say ‘no’?
      • Tim hints: “I may have a lot more on that soon” – NEW BOOK????
  • What advice would Tim put on a billboard? [1:23:37]
    • “You are the average of the 5 people you associate with most”
  • Any recommendations for someone heading to Austin in a few weeks for a bachelor party? [1:23:51]
  • What does Tim’s cooking look like these days? [1:24:31]
    • Tim is on a writing deadline, so he’s not doing a whole lot of cooking
      • But when he does cook, he utilizes much of the techniques discussed in the “Domestic” portion of The 4-Hour Chef
  • If Tim could ask Richard Feynman any question, what would it be? [1:25:20]
    • “What separates a great teacher from a good teacher?”
  • Is Tim still fluent in all the languages he’s learned? [1:29:27]
  • Does Tim still drink coffee? [1:31:18]
    • Yes, but he tries to limit it to before lunch. Otherwise, it interferes with sleep.
  • What’s on Tim’s current reading list? [1:32:13]
  • Austin life compared to San Francisco? [1:35:57]
    • Much friendlier

Additional Notes

  • Tim notes that alpha lipoic acid may help some accelerate the descent into ketosis 
    • What else helps? – Extended, moderate walking (while fasting)
  • Tim’s podcast just passed 400 million downloads
  • One of Tim’s favorite investors is Brad Feld
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