On Friday I went to Tim Ferriss Live at the 92nd Street Y. It’s part of a big promotional push for his new book launch, Tools of Titans. A few pages in and it’s an awesome book already.
Here are some thoughts and notes from the Tim Ferriss live podcast recording:
First, I was impressed by how much value he brought to the audience. Not only did every audience member get two signed copies of the book, but he recorded two podcasts, brought in five awesome guests and did a long Q&A with the crowd. And for the people who purchased upgraded tickets, he did a second Q&A in a separate, smaller room. All told, it was a five hour experience.
Considering his level of exhaustion after a marathon promotional week, I give him massive kudos for not calling it an early night.
The first round of guests was amazing: Ramit Sethi, Josh Waitzkin and Adam Robinson (co-Founder, The Princeton Review). I’ve been following Josh and especially Ramit for a while, so it was a privilege to see them live.
Few highlights from the first guests:
Anthony Robinson – When people say that something happened that ‘doesn’t make sense’, they’re missing a critical variable. Figure out what that missing piece is, and you’ll find a goldmine for yourself.
Tim Ferriss on arguing – start the argument by asking, “is there anything I can say that will change your mind?” If not, I’ll go elsewhere to enjoy my burrito.
Josh Waitzkin – When training for anything, seek out the dirty players and learn against them. “Make a cult of your inhibitions.” Know them and attack them head-on.
Ramit Sethi on when to leave – Leave at the peak. Used the analogy of going to a museum. You’ll get more value by spending just 90 minutes on the process. 30 planning the route, and 60 enjoying just a small segment. You’ll get more this way than overwhelming yourself trying to see the whole place.
<On a side note – I’ve never seen so many people taking notes at a live event that wasn’t a college lecture.>
Anthony Robinson – When asked for what to focus on as the next big then, “Ball Bearings. They’re not sexy, and they’ve never had their Edison.” Wealth and success can come from finding the not-sexy thing and doing it better than anyone else, while everyone else is chasing over-saturated markets.
Tim Ferriss – You don’t have to be perfect. People can get by with lots of bad traits, as long as they focus on the two or three that they’ll excel at.
Part one was the only sober part of the show. He then did a Q&A with the audience and started to drink. I didn’t take many notes here, because most of the questions were generic, and his answers, stock.
Part three was the funnest. It’s also when the tequila came out. They recorded a live Random Show with Kevin Rose and one of my personal heroes, Matt Mullenweg (founder, WordPress). Kevin Rose brought the tequila, Matt Mullenweg wore sick high tops. Neither dressed their age. Here were some highlights, focusing mostly on closing out the year and resolutions.
Matt Mullenweg – instead of creating your own New Years Resolutions, crowdsource them. Let people who know you well decide what you should focus on next year.
Tim Ferriss – Goal setting isn’t enough, try fear setting. Take a piece of paper, and divide it into three columns. On the left column, write out all of the worst things that can happen from pursuing your goals. In the center, write what you can do to minimize this risk. In the third, write what you would need to do to return to normalcy if the worst case does happen.
Kevin Rose asks of audience – See Kubo, Birth of Sake, and biggest ask of all – meditate. Stick to it.
Kevin also suggested the book, on Grief and Grieving to help cope with the loss of a loved one.
By this point it was already an awesome (and somewhat exhausting event), but now those of us fortunate to have upgraded tickets were able to proceed into the next part. It was a small room for an intimate Q&A with Tim. By the point, Kevin and Matt had done their damage, and Ferriss was wall on his way to full inebriation. His answers still made logical sense, but were increasingly less coherent. It was awesome. As we neared Midnight, the tequila began to eat through his Dixie cup, leaking all over the place, giving housekeeping anxiety and comical relief for all..
Neomania – the obsession with all things new. To handle information overload, focus on Just in Time information, instead of Just in Case information.
To keep himself sane and grounded, TF tries to have 2-3 long dinners with groups of friends per week.
He reiterated that success is measure by the amount of uncomfortable conversations you are willing to have.
He told a lost audience member to not worry about finding his calling. To find a thing that excites him and try it for six months. If that doesn’t work, move on. Over time and trying many things for focused periods, you’ll have a better idea of your needs in life.
“There’s always a market for quality.”
Then he did a drunk impression of Jocko Willink and closed out on the idea that toughness is choice. Choose to be tough, there’s no other way to do it.
It was nice to see that these titan’s of industry are just regular guys. Ferriss got drunk, Rose and Mullenweg enabled. Anthony Robinson was visibly nervous. They’re people who are smart, and good at something (mostly learning and curiosity), and have been able to rise to success through consistency. None of them followed a magic formula or right path. And all of them have their flaws and insecurities. And that’s great, because it means that we shouldn’t get overwhelmed by success, or think that someone else’s path is our own.
Josh Waitzkin found his success through Chess and Martial Arts. Ferriss through self experimentation and writing. Mullenweg by democratizing blogging and web design. There’s no single definition for success, and no one path to get there. It’s as scary as it is invigorating, and that’s what I felt walking out of the show.
I’ve been to self help seminars, and they end up being massively disappointing. You walk out energized and unstoppable. but within a day you that energy fizzles out, and you’re back at square one. Leaving this, I wasn’t inspired by the perfection I was promised. Seeing Ferriss get drunk and vulnerable showed that he is human, and that he’s still looking for success himself. To not let his fame fool you, the guy has his own demons and struggles. The book Tools of Titans is not a conventional self help boo, it’s about finding the unique formula that works for you, not intended to be read cover to cover.
After listening (and writing notes on) to so many of his podcasts, it was great to sit in for a live recording. I look forward to using the book as a reference for the next few years.
Also published on Medium.