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The 4-Hour Life

Lesson 1 of 16


Tim Ferriss

The 4-Hour Life

Tim Ferriss

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Lesson Info

1. Introduction

Lesson Info


Well, thanks everybody for being here. It's all downhill after the introduction. (audience laughs) You get really good at writing your own biography, and it's amazing what can happen. So I'm really excited that you guys are here. I'll just be teaching you guys, everybody at home I'm not sure. Camera on, so thank you for tuning in, we have lots of time together. So relax, you can ask anything you want. The focus of all of this, whether it's the first book, the second book, the third book, is looking for uncommon solutions. Whether those are business solutions, fiscal solutions, learning solutions; how to become world class in anything, in six months or less, whatever it might be, looking for the elegant path from 'A' to 'B', with the fewest number of moving pieces. So that's what we'll be talking about. Can everybody hear me okay? So shy, I'm so shy. (audience laughs) All right, so Timothy Ferriss, that's the name I use when I want to sound really serious. Otherwise, it's only my mom wh...

o calls me Timothy, so I can be Tim here. When she's angry. All right, so let's. (laughs) So for our life, healthy, wealthy and wise, I wanna give a little bit of context on that. So Ben Franklin, Benny, one of my favorites, and he had his trilogy which was healthy, wealthy and wise. So for me, I've always wanted to explore those three areas. Those three particular silos, which are actually interconnected. And healthy, for me, was for our body. Wealthy was for our work week, and wise, is the four hour chef, which is confusing to people. 'Cause why chef? Tim, you're famous on the internets for cooking liquid egg whites in plastic containers in the microwave. (audience laughs) So I wanted to tell the story of how to approach any complex skill, whether that's searing a steak, learning a language, building a business, through the journeys in food that I've had over the last year. This is fun. And that's the real objective. So a few things people may not realize about The 4-Hour Workweek; it was turned down by 26 publishers, violently, then it came out and it had less than full national distribution, something I'm experiencing right now, since more than a thousand bookstores are banning The 4-Hour Chef, which is great, because I think I'm the most banned book since Lady Chatterley's Lover. (audience laughs) I think in 1928. So, I'm very excited about that. But, 4-Hour Workweek, I want to point out a few things, and I'll digress like this a lot, because I like to. So this cover is the expanded and updated edition, and I actually copied the German cover, because the publisher did such a good job, and that is where the book did best outside of the U.S., it was actually in Germany. The original cover of The 4-Hour Workweek was decided by taking a mock up of that cover, wrapping it around a book that was the same size, before it came out, and testing multiple types of covers, in a bookstore, where I sat there like a bouncer with a clicker, and I watched the per hour pick up rate, of different covers, (audience laughs) and that's how we determined the actual cover. The name The 4-Hour Workweek, do you guys know, do any of you know the origin of the title itself? So The 4-Hour Workweek was sold as Drug Dealing for Fun & Profit. Which was a tongue in cheek reference to this class that I taught at Princeton in high tech entrepreneurship. Because I had this sport nutrition company, well Wal-Mart did not really like Drug Dealing for Fun & Profit as a title, so ixnay. Then I had six to 12 titles, and subtitles, that I tested on Google Adwords, so I actually set up a campaign bidding on key terms that were related to the subject matter, like world travel, how to learn a language, et cetera, and then automatically in the ads you would have the title, the ad title, which was the actual title of the book, then the ad text, which was the subtitle, then a url, and people would click through, and it would just take them to an 'Under Construction' page. 'Cause I didn't care about that, I cared about highest click through rate on the combination of titles and subtitles. So that's how The 4-Hour Workweek came to be. The 4-Hour Body was a little easier to sell, than the first one, but also, in each of these cases I ended having to draft and fight for every one of these covers. And I would like to point out that whether we're talking about The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body or The 4-Hour Chef, I view entrepreneur as something very very specific. It's not someone who owns a business. It's someone who makes things happen; end of story. So like entreprendre, whether it's Latin root, or Spanish version of it, people who undertake, and make things happen. That can be done in all these three areas. All right, I won't take too much time on all of this. But the last think I'll say about The 4-Hour Chef, for this moment, is that that cover, I had two to three weeks of deadlock, creative deadlock, couldn't come up with a cover, couldn't come up with a cover, everyone was trying, and then I went to a linear restaurant in Chicago, which was ranked number one in the country at the time, had this amazing meal, and I had this breakthrough, because once you learn to look creatively at anything, whether it's food, your body, your business, it transfers to everything else. All right, so moving on. Tim's Special Guests, here are my special guests, I'm really excited to be here for a lot of reasons, I get to meet you guys, which I'm psyched about, get to talk to everybody at home, and I also get to bring in people who are the best at what they do. Because ultimately I am not the expert. That's not my job, that's not how I view my job. I am the explorer, I am the investigator, I am the experimentalist who does all this crazy shit to myself, so you guys don't have to. So we have a number of people, I'll just go through it real fast: Philippe von Borries, one of the best names ever. Refinery 29, one of the hugest sites out there, and a lot of people don't know the story behind it, Leilah Janah of Samasource, one of the most innovative people in the non-profit space, bar none. Neil Strauss, six, seven time New York Times bestselling author, who knows, amazing, amazing writer. He's written for The New York Times, you name it. We'll talk him about creative process. Kelly Starrett, one of the best PT's and performance coaches in the world, and is involved very heavily with CrossFit, and the CrossFit Games. Mark Bell, who you'll have to see this guy to believe it. He's amazing, so we'll bring him out. He makes me look like an eight year old girl. So Mark is one of the top five totals in power lifting, of all time for his weight class, which I think was 275 weight class at the time. He can bench press around 900 pounds, squats more than a thousand. He's a big, big boy, so we'll be talking to him about strength, which applies to women as much as to men. Noah Kagan, great guy, real character. Can't wait to have him on here, we'll be talking about how to identify which business you go after, how to test assumptions, how to do all the analytics, in very non-intimidating way. One of the best out there at doing it, App Sumo is his company. Dave Camarillo, a very good friend of mine, one of the top UFC trainers in the world. And not a big guy, he's like the anti-Mark. So he'll be demonstrating how to use someone else's strengths against them, for men and woman, how to defend off your back, which if you're a woman, for instance, like against a big guy, you're gonna end up on your back. Rick Torbett, one of the most successful basketball coaches out there, something that I was terrified of my entire life, was terrible at my entire life, because my junior high P.E. instructor humiliated me, and said I dribbled like a cave man, and I was like, I'll go back to wrestling. So Rick helped me conquer my fear of basketball. Then John Jackson who is an amazing archer, and he will be actually shooting an arrow off of my head, in archery, so stay tuned. What will happen? I don't know. This is a very important acronym here, not a misspelling. So DiSSS, this is something a lot of people have not seen, because it's from The 4-Hour Chef. This is the process of meta-learning. So meta-learning, is learning how to learn. Just like a meta-analysis is, let's say, an analysis of multiple studies, multiple analysis. This is the process, this represents the steps that I've applied to everything from Spanish to Tango, to power lifting, business, all of it. Writing books, marketing books. I started playing around with this in college, when I began playing with smart drugs. I'm not going to go too deep into smart drugs, because I don't think inhaling anti-diarrhetic hormone is a good long-term strategy, necessarily. I talk about it in the book, but the first 'D' is deconstruction. So what are the LEGO blocks? What this means is if you take something like, learn Spanish, I'll focus on that a little bit because I think people are so intimidated by languages. It takes a lifetime to become good at languages. Not true, you can become functionally fluid in eight to 12 weeks. Kids learn languages faster than adults. Not true, totally false. If you look at a book called In Other Words by a guy named Hakuta, who's a Japanese researcher. Not true, talk to any three year old, like really? Really, that' as good as you can do in three years? Like, come on. (laughs) So, not true. All right, deconstruction is taking learned Spanish, and breaking it down into units that you feel comfortable with, that you can then look at. So that could be vocabulary, grammar. You don't have to be an expert. It could be for swimming; how do the arms move? How do the legs moves? All right, so breaking this big monster down into pieces. It's also where you ask a lot of questions. Like, what if I did the opposite? For building fires, what if I built the fire upside down? Hypotheticals, what if I had to learn to swim without kicking? So I couldn't swim until a few years ago. Part of the reason was every time I went to a coach, they put me on a kick board, and they'd be like, 'All right, do five laps.' I'd be like, hah, like a drowning monkey, I wouldn't even be able to move. I'd get humiliated, I'd be exhausted, and I'd quit. So I asked, well kicking is what tires me out, I don't move when I kick, what if I had to learn to swim without kicking? Turns out, total emergent swimming, there's a way to actually do it. Okay, so deconstruction is not only where you look at the LEGO blocks, you ask a lot of these questions. Selection is which 20% of the blocks will give me 80% of the outcomes I want? Okay, so have any of you read 4-Hour Workweek? A few of you have read it, all right. 80/20 analysis, Pareto's law; what are the 20% of activities that will product 80% or more of the results? This can be applied to fat loss, right? So 30 grams within 30 minutes of waking up, for instance. That's how my dad went from five pounds of average monthly fat loss to 17.85 pounds in the first month. Just a protein shake, 30 grams within 30 minutes of waking up. It can be applied to languages really effectively. So choosing the 1200 words that are the highest frequency. Game over, you win. And you can do that by, let's say using Vis Ed flash cards., high frequency flash cards. And I've used that for four or five languages so far. Selection is really choosing what to do. People think of me as like an efficiency guy, it's not true. The reason that I'm able to do anything that I do is I'm effective, meaning I choose the right things to do. What you do is more important than how you do them. Put another way, material beats method, in this case. So to learn Japanese, I failed at Spanish when I learned it for the first, like, three years. Lot of people don't realize that. Couldn't string sentences together, concluded I was bad at languages, like a lot of people. And that changed when I was forced to sink or swim in Japan at age 15, when I got there they said, don't worry, don't worry, you'll have Japanese classes. I was like, whew, thank God, Japanese classes. Then I go there, and they're like physics, world history, just into regular classes with 5000 Japanese kids. I didn't speak, read or write Japanese. So I learned through comic books and judo text books. And I learned Japanese, I figured out a way. That was because, partially, I found a poster that had 1945 common use characters on one poster. That was Japanese to me; all of the common use characters. As opposed to, learn Japanese, I got a selection. So sequencing, sequencing is the secret sauce in a lot of ways. In what order should I learn the 20% I've selected? There's a golf coach named Stan Utley, he's a short game putting coach in fact, great coach. I study good teachers and coaches, even if I have nothing to do with their subject matter. He was interviewed at one point and he said, well a lot of people call me and they say, hey can you look at my form? How's my form? And he goes, your form is fine, it's the sequence that's all messed up. Like, you have all the right elements, you're just moving your hips or whatever in the wrong order. This is true for swimming also. This is true for languages. You need early wits, if you want to become really good at advertising, you wanna become really good at, fill in the blank, cooking. You can't fail to begin with, and so building a logical progression, that goes from easiest, easier, harder, hardest, is really, really important. Another example of this would be, let's say Nike+. So, Nike+ running tracking, things like that. There was a great article in Wire. I think it was Steven Levi, I believe, who pointed out that when they looked at the 1.2 million users they had at the time, five sessions was the magic number. So to build the habit, you needed to log five sessions. Didn't matter how long they were, but you had to log five sessions and then it was a habit, you didn't have to think about it. You when you think about, let's say, learning to cook, and I won't dwell on this, but when people say, I want to learn to cook. (exhales) Let's just say, it's like a bachelor. Okay, they're trying to adopt five or six new behaviors at like one time: buying groceries, prepping groceries, cooking and clean up. Of course you're gonna fail. Of course you're gonna fail. How do you get around it? Maybe you use, let's say bambu or wasara disposable plates. Clean up, gone, great, okay. And then, for the actual shopping, you can either keep it really simple by using four or fewer ingredients, which I do in the book, or you could use like to do your grocery shopping for you. Okay, great, now we're down to like two or three habits. And then you get it down to one. And then, two months later, you're cooking like a professional chef. So sequencing, really important. Stakes, okay, so actually we have a few people here who have lost weight on the slow carb diet, we won't dwell on it, but why do people fail on diets? There are a lot of reasons people fail on diets. One is they tend to be too complicated. They tend to be too inconvenient. One of the big reasons people fail on diets is because if they don't follow their diet, nothing really happens. (laughs) Right? There's no consequence. You don't do your job, you get fired. You don't follow your diet, you're like, eh, start next month. Start next year. There will always be another January, and I can commit to it then. So you build stakes, and a really easy way to do this, is to use a site like, which was based on research from a Yale professor. I love this site, there are other examples like, for diets, which you could actually use for anything, for instance. But on you do a few things. You take an amount of money that is enough to motivate you, that you don't want to lose, and you put that into escrow. So let's say it's one percent of your pre-tax income, that's what I recommend, but it doesn't have to be a lot. So you put it in escrow, now you can't touch it, all right? Then you set your habit, like I want to go to the gym twice a week. I want to follow my diet, whatever it is. Then you assign a referee, choose your most hard ass friend, who's not gonna let you get away with anything. And each week you need to prove to them that you've done what you said you were gonna do. If you don't, you have selected an anti-charity, this is really important, a charity that you hate so much, you would rather slam your head in a car door, than give money to them. Currently, the most effective anti-charity is the George Bush Congressional Library. (audience laughs) Lot like, pro-choice, pro-life, doesn't matter, whatever gets your knickers in a twist, you choose that, and you don't do your job, you don't follow your diet, you don't build your business, you don't sign up 'X' number of clients, you don't make 'X' number of phone calls, your money goes to, in this case, let's say the George Bush Congressional Library, name associated, public record, it is amazing what people do once you add this type of element. And you don't even have to give them a method. This is the great part, right? So, if I'm like, okay, you have a hundred pounds to lose? All right, get naked, photo, photo, photo. Okay, you need to lose a hundred pounds or these are going online everywhere front page of the New York Post, in six months, in twelve months, whatever. They'll figure out a way to lose weight. (laughs) All right, so stakes really important. Creating, not just carrots, but sticks. People will work really really hard to avoid punishment, or humiliation. Ramit Sethi, some of you guys know, good friend of mine, he wanted to gain, I guess it was 15 pounds of muscle. So he created a public wiki, where he had to put in his weight every week, and he had a bunch of friends who would smack talk, and he did a lot of smack talking himself, he was pretty good at it, and so he knew he would never hear the end of it, if he didn't gain these 15 pounds. Which he ended up doing in, I think, three months instead of six, and he's kept it on to the pound, to this day. All right, so stakes, moving on. Here we go, just a quick review. DiSSS, that's an acronym, that's how you remember it. So DiSSS, 80's yo, yo, diss, or if you're a gamer, DS3. Okay, PS3, DS3, you got it. All right, moving on. CaFE, this is sort of bonus credit. We're not gonna spend a lot of time on this. Like DiSSS is the fundamentals. That is what you can apply to any skill. And you'll see me do this as I talk to these various experts. We'll get to that in a minute. CaFE, so DiSSS CaFE, whatever imagery helps you to remember that. CaFE, first is compression. So can I take, just like my Japanese poster with all the characters, can I take the 20% of the most important pieces, and put it under one page? To make it my psychological reassurance when I get overwhelmed. So you try to cook, you start pulling from different cookbooks, everything else, you're like oh my God, this is so complicated. No, it's not. Go back to your one-pager. Go back to the one-pager. No matter what, if you know what is on this page, you will be able to cook better than 50%, 75% of the population. When in doubt, oven 350 degrees. Don't worry about all these different temperatures. 350, it'll work for chicken, it'll work for brownies, it'll work for almost anything. Kale chips, whatever, doesn't matter. Use a probe thermometer, when in doubt cook to an internal temperature of 140, set the alarm, forget about it. You don't have to worry about over done, under done, whatever, obviously there are a couple of exceptions here and there. Vegatables, to make the flavors pop, add a little bit of acid, little bit of lemon, little bit of sherry vinegar or champagne vineger, something like that. Super, super simple. So creating this one-pager. Compression is also related to the next one, which is frequency. So how frequently should I practice? So there's a bit of a, I think it's called a Cartesian duality; the separation of mind and body. It's very common in every country, not just the Western world. To think of learning as a brain activity, that is separate from physical training. Well, just like you can't run, most people, unless you're Dean Karnazes, he's a cool guy. But, you can't run a marathon like everyday for 50 days. Your body won't recover. So you need to plan your training so that each time you train, you have an adaptation period, then you come back stronger. It's the same with learning. You want to learn, you also have to master that. What is the training regimen for your brain? And there are many different ways to do this. This obviously applies to anything physical, but you could use a tool like supermemo. Supermemo is a program that helps you to determine, or automatically helps you establish ideal space repetition for learning different items. There are many different tools, some specific to Chinese, on the iPhone, et cetera You have anki for instance, which helps with memorization. Frequency, there are also ways that you can experiment with this. So I'm pretty intense, pretty aggressive, one of the things I did was I worked with a few chefs and culinary school teachers to compress six months of culinary school into 48 hours. Two days, dawn to dusk, from waking up, to going to sleep, doing everything in 48 hours. All the techniques, all the principle dishes, which was hard as hell, and at the end of it my hands were like so swollen and cut. Like, I had nicks all over my hands, from washing my hands every five minutes, all the salt, it looked like Frankenstein and I was so happy because, I will emphasize something else, which is Larry Page with Google. All right, I'm paraphrasing here, but he says, what a lot of people miss is when you try to do something really big, it's hard to fail completely. So when I tell people, yeah we crammed six months of culinary school into 48 hours, they're like, yeah (scoffs) how much did you actually retain? What, 50%? I'm like, well hold on, yeah maybe. 50% means I got three months of culinary school in 48 hours. Still a damn good return on investment. So frequency is where we play with that kind of stuff. And then the last one is encoding. So how do I anchor new material to what I already know? How do you take something that's really slippery, like numbers? If you wanted to memorize a thousand numbers. It's actually not that hard, once you learn how to convert numbers into letters into images, it's super easy. Then you can use techniques that Cicero used in the Roman senate, like lay it out on a path and you can do some pretty amazing things. Memorize a deck of cards. And you might ask yourself, well like 10000 numbers, a deck of cards, why the hell would I want to do that? (laughs) I have enough shit to do in my life. Because the techniques that you refine by practicing that kind of thing apply to everything. They apply to languages, they apply to memorizing names, they apply to learning skills. DiSSS CaFE, those are acronyms. That is encoding, that is an example of encoding. So if I'm from Long Island, not very refined, used to have a rat tail, go rat tails. So, being from strong island, as I like to say, one of the things I'm really bad at is going to fancy dinners, like figuring out which drink is mine, which bread is mine, and I'll take someone else's drink, it's embarrassing. So I'll do this, under the table. Make two OK signs, bread is on my left-hand side, drink is on my right-hand side, OK? (chuckles) That's encoding, it doesn't have to be complicated. So, we're not gonna spend a ton of time on this, 'cause there's a lot here, but in the deconstruction section of The 4-Hour Chef, I talk about the questions that I ask of experts. It's not that hard to find experts, it just needs to be someone who's a lot better than you are. I like to look for, let's take sports as an example, a silver or gold medalist from one or two Olympics ago. Then you can just search and Google. You could search like, bob-sled Olympian my city. And you'll be amazed what pops up. Those people are not in the current lime light. You don't want to go after people who are in the lime light right now, because they'll be too hard to contact. Then you ask some questions. These are questions that I actually asked Scott Jurek. Scott Jurek one the western states 100 mile race, seven times in row. He's amazing. He's also built like Spider; he's perfectly built for ultra-endurance running. Great guy, vegan also. I mean, he's just amazing. So some of the questions I asked him were, who's good at ultra-running despite being poorly built for it? Who's good at this who shouldn't be? I just want to point out how I'm breaking things down here. Who are the most controversial runners or trainers? Why and what do you think of them? What makes you different? Who trained you or influenced you? Can others replicate your results? What are the biggest mistakes and myths you see in training? Favorite instructional books or resources? And then, the last one, and I'm not gonna spend too much time on this, but if you were to train me for four weeks for running a marathon, and you had a million dollars on the line, what would you do, exactly? This is how you start to find these non obvious solutions. You start to pick out someone like David Goggins, I might be getting that wrong. He's like 230 pounds and runs 100 mile races. Something like that, and how does that happen? How does Daniel Tammet, in the UK, learn Icelandic in seven days well enough to go on TV and be interviewed? How does that happen? So here are a few others. These are the questions that I initially sent to Rick Torbett, who will be here tomorrow, I guess. For basketball, what are the biggest mistakes novices make when shooting or practicing shooting? Biggest misuses of time? Even at the pro level, what are the most common mistakes? Key principles, what does your progression of exercises look like? Sequencing, right? So moving on, those are the questions. We'll come back to them, you will see me use them today. And you'll see me use them tomorrow. What I want to provide you is a tool kit, so that you are self-reliant and can emulate, and behave like the world's fastest learners. Whether it's to apply business, body, anything. It's a bold goal, but the last thing I want, and like, thank God my none of my friends would ever say this, 'cause they'd ridicule me, but every once in a while you'll see in some media, like guru productivity, blah, blah, blah. I hate that word, guru, 'cause it implies that people rely on me for answers. I don't want that. I want you as independent. I wanna make myself obsolete for all of you as quickly as possible. That's my goal.

Class Description

New York Times best-selling author Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, introduces a new holistic life strategy aired only on CreativeLive: The 4-Hour Life: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. This business course features the best of mind, body, and enterprise strategies that Tim Ferriss has to offer. In the footsteps of the infamous scientist/sociologist Ben Franklin, Tim presents his best lessons, principles, and hacks for becoming (and remaining) 'healthy, wealthy, and wise.' This CreativeLive course includes never-before-discussed tactics related to The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef. From accelerated learning to investing, The 4-Hour Life is as comprehensive as it is broad.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase



PowerMagazine 2010 June-July

Tips from Leila Janah

Tips from Philippe von Borries

Instructor Bios

Bench Press by Mark Bell

Buying Produce

Notes Part 1

Notes Part 2

Deadlift by Mark Bell

The Slow Carb Diet

Advanced Squats with Kelly Starrett

Couch Stretch with Kelly Starrett

Squats with Kelly Starrett

The 80-20 Pantry

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



Fascinating interviews. Lot's of useful tips for business and life. It's a bit of a gamble because this style of seminar does not have a clear curriculum (e.g. it's not "how to edit photographs in Photoshop"). I would say that if you have found Tim Ferris interesting and useful in the past (e.g. books, articles, talks) then you will enjoy and find this seminar useful. Try listening to the free portion and see whether it resonates with you.

Debbie Takara Shelor

I loved this class. I greatly enjoy Tim's writing and having him share and interview others on numerous topics that I'm very interested in was fascinating and fabulous.