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  • Tom: Hey 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.

  • 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 skill set 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's a former MTV break dancer in Taiwan, the one time national Chinese kickboxing champion,

  • the first American to hold the Guinness world record in tango, a horseback archer, Princeton

  • University guest lecturer, and angel investor who has racked up a serious string of entrepreneurial

  • maga 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 4-hour Work

  • Week", "The 4-hour Body", and "The 4-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 one hundred 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 best selling author multiple times over, the man

  • behind the Tim Ferriss Show.

  • The human guinea pig himself, Tim Ferriss.

  • Tim: Hey man.

  • Tom: Awesome my brother, how you doing?

  • Tim: Good to see you again.

  • Tom: Good to see you as well man.

  • Tim: It's all downhill after that intro.

  • Tom: I'm not so sure about that.

  • The sheer weight of this bad boy ... Tim: I know.

  • Tom: ... Tells me that it's not gonna be all downhill from here.

  • Tim: It was supposed to be one sentence a page.

  • Maybe a little check out book in the aisle.

  • I can't help myself.

  • Tom: Yeah I saw that.

  • If you had to boil it down to one sentence, what was your purpose in writing it?

  • Tim: 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.

  • Some brand new recommendations from past guests, new guests that people haven't met yet like

  • Jack Dorsey, who's a very impressive cat, and Cheryl Strayed and many others but the

  • six to 10,000 of 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.

  • Tom: Some of the people that you've interviewed in the book, Peter Thiel being the first one

  • that comes to mind of just mega producers or Reid 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.

  • Tim: So Amelia Boone, I don't know if you've ever met her.

  • She's so tough.

  • My god, she's a three time World's Toughest Mudder champion.

  • She is full time attorney at Apple.

  • Tom: Woah.

  • Tim: She, in the 2012 Toughest Mudder, which is a 24 hour race.

  • You have to complete a course of obstacles for as many repetitions as you can and she's

  • done more than 90 miles in that case but it's like climbing ropes and carry-

  • Tom: 90 miles of obstacles?

  • Tim: Of obstacles and in eight weeks of after knee surgery more than 1,000 competitors,

  • 90% plus of which are men, she came in second place.

  • Tom: Oh my god.

  • Tim: Out of everybody.

  • Tom: What do you think drives her?

  • Like that's crazy.

  • 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.

  • Tim: If I had to guess I think it is pretty simple.

  • Now with endurance, ultra endurance athletes, one of the common questions is are you running

  • towards something or are you running from something?

  • Tom: Yeah, for sure.

  • Tim: Two things I really like about Amelia.

  • Number one, what would you put on a billboard if you could put anything on a huge billboard?

  • Tom: I love that question.

  • Tim: "No one owes you anything."

  • [crosstalk 00:04:56] That's her answer, so great, and then her other quote which I had

  • to put right on the top of her chapter was, "I'm not the strongest, I'm not the fastest,

  • but I'm really good at suffering."

  • Tom: Yeah.

  • Why does that resonate with you?

  • Because that sits at the core of my being, that very notion.

  • Tim: Out endure.

  • You can train yourself to out endure other people.

  • Tom: It really ... So when I think about what gifts, you've talked about this before.

  • Like everybody has a superpower and one of my superpowers is the ability to suffer.

  • Tim: Yeah.

  • Tom: And it's one of those things that you say and you know it's kinda tongue in cheek

  • and a little bit funny but at the same time it's my fucking super power.

  • Like 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 in that so that's not like, I don't ... I'm

  • not torn up about it.

  • Tim: Yeah.

  • Tom: 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 ... Tim: Yeah.

  • Tom: ... 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?

  • 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 want to know from you is what is the

  • driver?

  • What's that thing that makes you be so willing to suffer?

  • Tim: It's the promise of that crack hit for me, which is the aha moment.

  • Tom: In you or in you and other people?

  • Tim: It's both and the reason 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 bank, just an elegant or non-obvious solution to a longstanding problem, I'm like,

  • "Okay, I can't wait to see how people are gonna respond when I provide that to 1,000

  • people and I see, for most of them, the vast majority just go holy fuck."

  • If you take someone for instance I didn't learn how to swim until I was in my 30s.

  • I think we may have talked about this.

  • I grew up in Long Island but I was deathly afraid of drowning because I had some near-drowning

  • incidents and some lung issues.

  • Now at this point I was taught by this gentleman named Terry Lockland something called total

  • immersion, which I first learned from a book which I was introduced to by Chris Sacca 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 under water 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 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.

  • To go to the extreme is partially present because I feel like the most interesting things

  • happen at the fringes first.

  • Tom: Reading the press kit 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.

  • Tim: Yeah.

  • Tom: But now exists in one place, which is incredibly exciting.

  • Now one of the promises in the press kit was that you could test the impossible in 17 questions.

  • Tim: Yeah.

  • Tom: What are some of the questions?

  • Tim: So the questions are actual questions that coincided with milestones or inflection

  • points or just a fork in my own life.

  • It's actually laid out these questions, about 12 of them, coincided with exact points that

  • I can remember.

  • Some of them would be, for instance, what if I did the opposite for 48 hours?

  • This is a question that I ask myself when I had my first job out of college.

  • Talk about suffering.

  • I mean my desk was in the fire exit.

  • It was completely illegal.

  • I 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 and outside sales and my job was to close

  • deals with CTO's and CEO's for multi-million dollar data storage systems.

  • At that point storage area networks 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 the calls between let's just say 6:30 and 8:30 and then

  • 5:30 to 7:00, 7:30 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.

  • I started booking more meetings and closing more deals than the majority of the guys in

  • the company and it was just from asking 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 Diamandis, 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.

  • He would ask, for instance, start ups who come to him for angel investment.

  • He'll say, "What would you have to do in the next six months," I'm paraphrasing here.

  • Tom: Sure.

  • Tim: "... To 10X the economics of your business?"

  • And if they say it 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."

  • What's very important here is to realize the expectation is not that you'll 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, right?

  • Tom: And largely just to shift your paradigm, right?

  • I know Peter very well and his whole thing is if you're ... Naturally we think linearly,

  • right?

  • Until you break out of that and start thinking exponentially, you're never going to get the

  • kind of breakthroughs that you want.

  • 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've been done and sprayed but we found ourselves in a situation where that

  • shit had to be hand painted.

  • As I'm going through, literally at 3:00 AM, painting this set I thought this is the part

  • of being an entrepreneur that people don't see coming.

  • Tim: That's not on the magazine covers.

  • Tom: 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?

  • The I have a gun to my head, I only have two hours which then becomes the four-hour workweek

  • because of a Google test and they thought that it was ridiculous that it'd be two hours.

  • Nobody's 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.

  • That's the only time that you're gonna do something differently is you have to approach

  • the problem from a radically different way.

  • 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?"

  • Riding in a cab stressed my ability to suffer, right?

  • That's how much I fucking hated riding in cabs.

  • 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 right.

  • All of it is just terrible terrible but I never asked the question.

  • What would it take to revolutionize this?

  • Getting down to asking these wildly divergent questions, and I love your question about

  • what if I did the opposite, because by definition it shatters the dogma.

  • Tim: Yeah.

  • Even if you don't think it's gonna work, what if I do the opposite for 48 hours?

  • Even if I'm almost 100% or 100% sure it's not gonna work or be beneficial, as long as

  • you cap the downside in someway right?