Welcome to the Eventual Millionaire Podcast. I’m Jaime Tardy and I am super excited. Today we have the Tim Ferriss on the show. You have to have heard of him before because he is actually one of the most recommended books by millionaires (buy The 4-Hour Workweek) and he has a new book called The 4-Hour Chef. It’s awesome; ridiculously huge. I think it could be used as a kettle bell; it’s so freaking heavy. I’m really excited to talk about it today. Thank you so much for coming on today, Tim.
TIM FERRISS: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
JAIME TARDY: Why don’t you jump in and tell us, you even have it in the beginning of the book, but for people who don’t have the book yet, why they should actually get the book.
TF: The 4-Hour Chef is the book that my readers have been asking me for the last five years. It’s a book on accelerated learning. If you’ve ever wanted to learn languages or a musical instrument or a sport to swim, whatever it might be, I looked at the world’s fastest learners and traveled all over for this from Japan to India to you name it and have deciphered their tips and tricks into this book. It’s called The 4-Hour Chef because cooking always intimidated me and defeated me many times before so I used my adventures and misadventures in learning how to cook to teach all these principles that apply to anything. I do give dozens, probably hundreds of examples outside of cooking but I used food much like in Zen you had the motorcycle maintenance uses motorcycles to teach a lot of his lessons.
JT: Awesome. I listen to you in your interviews and stuff and you have to go through that. It’s hard. The 4-Hour Chef sounds like it’s just a cookbook but it’s totally not. Tell me about accelerated learning. Why are you, number one, why does it need to be accelerated? Why don’t we just go at our normal pace? Number two, why are you obsessed with it?
TF: I’ll answer the last portion first. I’m obsessed with it because I really feel as though the way that you add life to your years, not just years to your life and the years to your life would be The 4-Hour Body, right. I mean I really addressed a lot of physical performance, life extension, whatnot. But the way you get the most out of every moment you have on the planet, whether that’s personal or for business, is by acquiring new skills and by becoming better at what you do whether that’s marketing. You can definitely deconstruct that. Whether it’s learning how to let’s just say swim after not being able to do it for 30 plus years, which was true in my case.
Learning is the bottleneck. The rate at which you can memorize new things, acquire new skills and become world class at them meaning top five percent in the world, I think limits the impact you can have personally and also on the world. The accelerated learning piece of it has been something that I have been fascinated with since well before 4-Hour Workweek. I was a neuroscience major, at Princeton, initially and focused on smart drugs among other things as well as cognitive training. Then I am funding studies at UCSF, University of California at San Francisco, related to all sorts of cognitive training and attention testing, at the moment.
It’s really something that I have been fascinated with for longer than the The 4-Hour Body content and The 4-Hour Workweek content because I get the joy out of my life in learning these new things like languages. I was bad at languages when I first tried to learn them in elementary school and high school like everybody else. I concluded that I was bad at Spanish, not going to learn it because I couldn’t string sentences together after years of studying the way I was told it was supposed to be done. It turns out that’s just a nonsense approach. It doesn’t really work that well and now I speak five languages including English and you can become functionally fluent in a language. It takes 12 weeks; most languages, if you approach it the right way. I want to share that joy of discovery and confidence that comes with having the right toolkit.
JT: I love that. I am so into the exact same thing. What I love about what your approach is, it’s cutting edge technology and learning stuff that we’re just finding out about in the brain. The thing though that I am wondering is how much is too much? If you know and you are really, really fast at learning, doesn’t your brain get so full that you just forget all the old stuff that you had before anyway?
TF: The brain is quite plastic. It’s surprising how much you can actually hold and retain because you’re relating one thing to the next to the next. You create these cognitive anchors that really allow you to become better at learning the more you learn as opposed to just having a brain attic that gets full of junk and furniture. There’s definitely some types of interference. If you try to learn, for instance, Italian and Spanish at the same time, there’s going to be a lot of interference but there are very few cases like that. Typically the brain adapts.
JT: I am just super impressed with exactly what the breadth of your knowledge is. It’s health and fitness and marketing and business and it’s ridiculously wide, which is really interesting that you still have captured all of that instead of letting a piece of it go. Do you know what I mean?
TF: Yes and in many cases it’s all dependent on the stuff that I talk about in The 4-Hour Chef because whether it’s you look at the testing that I did in The 4-Hour Workweek for automating businesses and so on or The 4-Hour Body and tackling all these different sports and types of physical training. It was all dependent on this blue print that I use which I finally able to explain in The 4-Hour Chef. It was a fun book to put together. I mean 1,000 plus photos, 100 illustrations. It’s very different from the last two books but it has been a good ride so far.
I think it’s probably the first book I’m learning that I’m aware of to hit number one on the national bestseller list and I think the reason that’s the case is that I am not talking about learning in the abstract. I’m using cooking, food, chefs, etc. to explain a lot of principles and then I have these sidebars for people who want to explore surfing or it might be guitar or whatever it might be.
JT: So you’re finally giving us whatever your secret was because before we knew sort of what happened but now you are finally teaching us exactly how you did it and actually that’s what I want to do. Normally I don’t write questions or anything like that but this time it’s actually going to be different. I think you are ridiculously good at asking questions. I think that’s probably one of your most valuable assets. I don’t know if you’d agree or not.
TF: I think asking the right questions is more important than having the right answers in many cases.
JT: I agree.
JT: What I am going to do is on Page 13, of your book, you have a whole bunch of questions. I don’t know if anyone has ever done this before but I am actually going to ask you those questions and you weren’t prepared at all. We’ll see how well this goes. Awesome. The very first question is, since this is for Eventual Millionaire, we’re going to talk about entrepreneurship in business. Who is good at entrepreneurship despite being poorly set up for it and who is good that shouldn’t be?
TF: I mean there are a few case studies, I think people who could be looked at. Let’s just say Yvon Chouinard founder of Patagonia. I mean really came from purely designing products from himself to building Patagonia. The idea that you need to have a huge amount of business training prior to creating something that scales into a company the size of Patagonia I think is erroneous. Let Your People Go Surfing is a book that he wrote, which I think tracks it pretty well. The entire Home Depot story I think is quite fascinating and seemed doomed from the outset in a lot of respects.
Then there are other people. I mean there are a lot of case studies of people who I think seem ill suited by attributes to business and then turn their weaknesses perhaps into strengths. I mean I think Joe Polish does a good job of that. Those would be the first few that come to mind. Studying people who founded businesses very late in their lives I think is very helpful for that. So Colonel Sanders, KFC, would be another example.
JT: Awesome. I’ll make sure to link up all this stuff too so everybody can check those out. So the next one is who are the most unorthodox entrepreneurs, which is kind of that same thing? I am totally putting you on the spot here by the way. Why and what do you think of them?
TF: Let’s see. One of the most unorthodox, in a way, if you want to be a Muslim entrepreneur, is Nassim Taleb. He wrote The Black Swan. He tends to be totally on or totally off. For book promotion he might be on for one or two weeks but otherwise he says no to everything. He doesn’t do any media interviews, he doesn’t do speaking engagements, etc. He’ll focus, he has what he calls a barbell strategy that I think is very smart. The vast majority of his, let’s just say capital money is in extremely low risk activities, my even in cash-like equivalents and then he has let’s say 10 or 20 percent on the far other end that are extremely high risk where he does derivatives and options trading and things like that.
For me, it would be the same way. Most of my net worth is in something very conservative like cash-like equivalent or in cash and then I have perhaps 20 percent or maybe slightly higher, 25 percent, that I put into startup companies, very highly speculative, high risk startup companies but then I don’t do anything between. I do very little investing in stock market or anything like that. He’s an unorthodox guy and his book; I think The Black Swan is great for training people to think critically.
JT: Let me just follow that up with why do you do that? What makes you decide to do that same unorthodox route?
TF: Because I think that it suits my psychology. It suits my personality and I prefer to pick my shots in an area where I have an informational advantage, mainly startups, where I have the potential for like a 10x or 20x return as opposed to trying to outsmart hundreds of millions of other people who are all trying to analyze the same stocks. I just don’t have the confidence that I can do that, for instance, as it relates to public equity. I feel like you can feel free to gamble as long as you recognize that’s what you are doing and do it with an amount of your net worth you can afford to lose. Otherwise, keep it conservative. People think of me as a risk taker. I don’t think I’m actually much of a risk taker.
JT: You’re a little calculated for that. It seems like it anyway, mitigated risk definitely.
TF: Yes, very much.
JT: Awesome. What makes you different and who trained you?
TF: What makes me different is I think I believe you can be world class in many things. You don’t have to choose one, if you approach it the right way, in a logical fashion. The guy who introduced me or I should say inspired me to continue on that path was a professor named Ed Zschau. He taught at Harvard Business School. He now teaches at Princeton but he has been head of IBM data storage. He was a congressman for two terms in Silicon Valley. He was a competitive figure skater and won every award possible at Harvard Business School; taught computer science at Stanford. The guy is amazing. He really inspired me to embrace the power of the generalist maybe.
JT: I think that’s sort of where we’re going nowadays too. Like you said, all into life extension, our lives are getting so much longer. There’s so much more that we can do in our lifespan. That’s kind of amazing to pick one just sucks.
TF: I don’t think you have to. It’s not to say that I don’t want to give people the illusion that you just snap your fingers and you’re top five percent in something but it’s very achievable. You can become, if you’re reasonably intelligent and organized, you can become world class at one or two things a year I think.
JT: A year?
TF: That’s pretty cool. Yes, meaning top five percent in the world. That’s how I define it and I think that’s entirely achievable.
JT: I’ve got to go off these questions and follow up something. What about the time intensity though? I do karate. I love karate but trying to find the time to go ahead and do that is a little tough.
TF: Yes, it can be very challenging and I think that you don’t want, you can have everything, you just can’t have everything at the same time. For instance, you don’t want to try and become world class in ten things and then only therefore have space to practice each one 30 minutes a week or something like that. If it’s a high enough priority and I am not saying you have to be world class, maybe you just want to be very good at playing the guitar or karate or something like that.
I think you can do it with your 5 to 10 concerted hours per week but I would recommend, however, is rather than doing say two hours per week for many, many months or perhaps many, many years is to actually work and organize your professional life in such a way that you can take a week or two off and that’s all you do for two weeks straight. The density of practice is very important and I think that you make a faster rate of progress when you condense it in that way.
JT: That’s awesome. I’m going to be testing for my black soon. Now that’s what I will do. I’ll take two weeks off beforehand, right. Awesome. Let’s go back to have you trained others which of course we know you have and have you replicated your results in business? Just give us a couple examples. I’m sure there’s thousands.
TF: Yes, absolutely. If I can’t replicate for my readers, then I don’t find it interesting because it means either number one it’s unique to me which is very rarely the case or more likely number two I haven’t explained it properly or taught properly. Some of the case studies I like led to business at least are the single moms who are working full time who are able to do things like negotiate remote work agreements where they can travel around the world with their kids. There’s an example I saw recently of a mom who was able to do that and travel to Argentina and take her kids with her and was still making the same income. She was able to negotiate that and go about it in a very intelligent way and very strategic way.
There are obvious companies that have done really well using principles in The 4-Hour Workweek and that includes places like Google and Microsoft, a pretty long list as well as CEOs, very well known iconic CEOs like Marc Andreessen who has had $2 billion exits. He’s the cofounder of Netscape. Those are really fun. Those are clearly really fun. For The 4-Hour Body I just got an email yesterday from a reader who has lost 198.4 pounds who is about to cross 200 pounds and I know there are at least hundreds I would imagine but I have heard personally from dozens of people who have lost more than 100 pounds. That certainly replicates any fat loss that I’ve had myself.
Even with The 4-Hour Chef I mean there are people who are already memorizing decks of cards, applying it to playing the guitar and many people who have followed the exact calendar I laid out for the lessons who never have cooked before who now have 8 to 12 go to recipes where they can literally in 5 to 10 minutes of prep time get a meal ready for 4 to 6 people. That’s pretty cool. I mean if you take someone who has never been able to really make good scrambled eggs, because I couldn’t, before I started.
JT: I remember watching your video of microwaved scrambled eggs a long time ago.
TF: They were terrible. Now they can make incredible osso buco for 4 to 6 people in the same amount of time that it would take to do the scrambled eggs with prep time. Obviously you have to wait for it to cook. You’re not fussing with it, you’re not touching it, you’re just waiting. That’s pretty cool. I’ve been able to replicate my results with every book.
JT: That’s a little ridiculous how many you change, you know what I mean, you’ve changed so many people’s lives it’s ridiculous but not only in one specific area. You’re doing exactly what you say you are doing which is awesome. I know we need to wrap up soon but I have a couple more questions. What’s the biggest mistakes and myths in business and what are the biggest wastes of time?
TF: Biggest mistakes and myths in business. I would say that the biggest myth is that there is one way to be good at business. There’s one type of business or there’s one ideal type of CEO. I think there are many ways to create a very highly profitable scalable business and you’ll see some people like Jobs, he was a tyrant. I mean he was a genius but he was a tyrant. He was not a nice warm fuzzy guy. But then you’ll have like a Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines who was, by all indication, a very, very nice guy and ran his company.
I think that you have to find models that share things in common with you rather than trying to become someone you are not. I would say that’s a very important point. Also looking for a model, someone to emulate who has or had the personal life that you would also like to have. It’s a mistake to just emulate someone who has let’s say a hard charging bowl in the China shop approach if their personal life is in shambles and I think it’s important to look at all of that in context. What was the other part?
JT: The waste of time.
TF: Oh waste of time; the biggest waste of time in business is just doing a thousand unimportant things well and email.
JT: And email, yes.
TF: Email, I’ll give a couple of tips. Email game, emailga.me helps me to process email in about half the time. I also use a program called Boomerang which will, where I can set a reminder in X number of time meaning two days, two weeks, whatever it might be, if I don’t hear back from someone on an email so I don’t have to then remember to follow up or put it in the calendar to follow up because Boomerang will let me know. It also allows me to send email later. So if I want to send an email a week later or eight days later or whatever, I can schedule that in advance which is also very helpful.
JT: That’s huge because you would leave them in your inbox so you can follow up with them later. You leave them in a folder and that’s so freaking annoying.
TF: Yes, you can get rid of all that just by using Boomerang and emailga.me.
JT: We should just finish there. That’s like the best tip ever. I’ve got two more questions. What are your favorite instructional books or resource on a subject and if people had to teach themselves what would they use besides your books?
TF: My favorite books for business or marketing related subjects would be the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. I think for the personal side and just stress management side of things would be Letters From a Stoic by Seneca. Then two, these aren’t books, I’ll just give one. There’s an article called 1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly. I would say those three although I’ll give one bonus which would be I do like Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson. I think because it tracks from the early days and there’s a difference between how people build wealth and how they maintain wealth.
They are two very different things and I think that the longer someone has been in business the longer they have been successful the more they talk in really abstract terms. As much as I agree that yes it’s important to be forward thinking and have integrity, that doesn’t really tell you tactically what you need to do next in your business whereas a lot of the earlier books do. Those would be a few resources. If someone had to replicate what I have done or learn on their own, I would say start with those resources.
JT: Nice. One last question, I know you have get running to the airport. If you were to train, I will say me, right, for four weeks to create a million dollar business, if you think that’s achievable and you had a million bucks on the line, what would the training look like and what if I trained for eight weeks?
TF: I would, that’s a longer conversation. The short answer is there’s an article by Noah Kagen on my blog about muse testing, so business testing, very inexpensive ways for testing different business concepts and offers. I would focus on that. I would focus on the 80/20 analysis. Also doing an assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, current assets, current lists, current network, the resources that they have and picking markets you understand first and then choosing products that you can test using Noah’s approach.
Let’s just say you are able to test based on that analysis for the first week or two. Then it would be a function of finding what advertising probably in this case paid advertising has the lowest CPA or largest lifetime value. It’s just hard to determine in eight weeks and then pouring more capital into that. You can do that from cash flow. Secondarily you could focus, I’ve never really focused on this model but you can then focus on once you have the messaging that converts most effectively, you could focus on affiliate sales and there are ways that you could make that very profitable depending on how you format it.
I would say if I had 4 to 8 weeks, given what you are currently doing, since it is very personal, that’s the approach I would probably take but a lot of it would come down to ruthless 80/20 analysis, which is really the heart of The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef.
JT: Definitely. What’s a reasonable accelerated learning time to use the principles in The 4-Hour Chef for somebody to go through and really dig deep in their business to start with, if you had to guess?
TF: If they just read The Destruction. If they showed the first learning section, I mean really a week would be plenty of time to really dig deep I think. It’s very fast moving. I don’t think it would take a long time at all.
JT: Beautiful. Thank you so much. I know you have to run. I always ask this last question for everybody – what’s one action that listeners should take this week to help move them forward towards their goal of a million? Besides buy The 4-Hour Chef.
TF: One action would be determine what the one or two most important objectives are for this year, it could be for this quarter, but I do like to look at the bigger picture; the two projects or wins that would really change everything for you and then do an 80/20 analysis. What are the 20 percent of activities, 20 percent of customers, 20 percent of people who are contributing to 80 percent or more of your progress or results towards that goal and then look at the 20 percent of activities, people, customers, etc. that are products/services maybe that are consuming 80 percent or more of your time. If they don’t overlap, stop doing as much as possible. Seriously. I think that massive elimination is the most important step and the most neglected step for entrepreneurs.
JT: Beautiful and I am going to do that this week too. Thank you so much for coming on Tim. This will be coming out really soon. I really appreciate it. Have a wonderful trip.
TF: My pleasure. Thank you.
JT: Take care.
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