#567: A Rare Podcast at 30 Below Zero — Sue Flood on Antarctica, Making Your Own Luck, Chasing David Attenborough, and Reinventing Yourself | The Tim Ferriss Show

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Key Takeaways

  • If there’s something you want to do, constantly make yourself available. Luck has a funny way of rewarding effort.
    • Sue Flood applied to the BBC network countless times before a window of opportunity appeared
    • Failures are rarely zero-sum – keep pushing and keep being noticed
    • “You make your own luck” – Sue Flood
  • Be in the right place at the right time
    • This is Sue’s strategy for capturing incurable scenes in nature; but, this advice transcends photography
  • Sue has done some incredible research and photography on emperor penguins, killer whales, and more – continue reading for some fun nature facts!


  • Sue Flood (@suefloodphotography) is a photographer and former BBC filmmaker with a passion for nature. She has contributed to wildlife series like Planet Earth & The Blue Planet and is the author of Emperor: The Perfect Penguin.
  • Sue and Tim sit down for this conversation at a snow-structured table at a remote camp in the Weddle Sea down in Antarctica. This time of year, Antarctica experience 24 hours of daylight.
  • Check out Sue’s website here
  • Host: Tim Ferriss (@tferriss)

Sue Flood

  • “I’ve lived a life of five people” – Sue Flood
    • Feels incredibly privileged to have always followed through with her childhood passion for wildlife
    • There’s great fulfillment in simply pursuing what you want to do
  • Sue applied for wildlife productions with the BBC network countless times before landing an opportunity
    • She was the runner-up for a children’s TV show called The Really Wild Show
    • The producer told her to keep in touch
    • She did – one day she showed up on production, a researcher was a no-show so they offered her a three-day contract on the Wildlife on One (presented by David Attenborough)
    • This was the beginning of her career at the BBC
    • Lesson: If there’s something you want to do, constantly make yourself available, and luck will find its way to you eventually
  • Sue was born with a hip problem and was told she would never be able to walk – she beat the odds using an experimental treatment
    • Keeps the brace in her office as a reminder of how lucky she is

David Attenborough

Capturing the Impossible

  • Sue has been a part of capturing footage of some incredibly rare events in nature:
    • Polar bears hunting beluga whales
    • Orcas strategically attacking grey whale calves
  • It’s all about being in the right place at the right time
    • Knowing the animals’ behavior patterns can help you capture the perfect moments

Killer Whales

  • Killer whales (Orcas) are incredibly smart and strategic animals
  • When bluefin tuna leave the Mediterranean Bay after spawning, fishermen attempt to catch them. Orcas queue into the sound of the fisherman and steal the tuna off the lines.
  • Orcas noticeably teach their calves how to hunt, strategies can even include drowning their prey
  • Sometimes they will hunt grey whale calves just for the tongue, a delicacy of sorts
  • There have been zero fatal attacks on humans by killer whales in the wild

Emperor Penguins

  • Emperor: The Perfect Penguin by Sue Flood
    • Mainly photographs of Sue’s 14-year journey capturing the beauty of the Emperor Penguin
  • A community of sailors from Wales settled in Patagonia, South America. They brought with them the words pen (meaning: head), and gwyn (meaning: white). There are still people that speak Welsh in Patagonia.
  • Tobogganing is when penguins slide around on their bellies – walking isn’t too efficient, so this is a quicker alternative
  • Penguin feet actually have special lipids that stop them from freezing
  • Male emperor penguins incubate the eggs, keeping them at roughly 35 degrees
  • Emperor Penguins can reach roughly four feet tall

Additional Notes

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Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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