Tim Ferriss: Smash fear, learn anything


Tim Ferriss: Smash fear, learn anything

FILMED DEC 2008 • POSTED APR 2009 • EG 2008
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  • Sep 12 2012: I think he tapped into an analytical strength that he has, but can’t necessarily be replicated by me or others in a way that would cause me to learn like he did.
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    Aug 31 2012: Great story of self discovery and turning fears into WINS! Have a great day on purpose..
  • Aug 7 2012: I agree that this talk does not seem up to TED standards in terms of cohesiveness and intellectual rigor, and Tim Ferris may very well be a clever con man, but I’m still glad I read his book, The Four Hour Workweek. I picked up several great productivity tips, and I love his idea for mini-retirements. If you watch some of his other presentations, you can see that there is some sincerity mixed in with the self promotion. He’s an interesting character with apparently boundless energy, some good ideas, and a desire to spread them.
  • Mar 17 2012: I liked reading the comments far more than Tims talk.If you’ve read Seth Godins “All marketers are liars” you’ll understand,if you haven’t then read it!
    • Sep 17 2012: hmm… are you saying Tim is lieing in this talk Kim ?
  • Jan 21 2012: Maybe this guy is stuntman. But! His main point is 100% right. Many of us have different kind of fears, most of them have no real reason or have reason that is not important any more. And we need just remember about the possibilities of human being. Funny, but I usually recall Yuri Gagarin, first man in space. First time, big risks, and he did it. And you can’t stop smoking? swim 1000 meters? learn other language? tell your boss all that you really think about him? Every life is unique, every way is unique and we can’t waste the time for any kind of stupid fears.
  • Jan 18 2012: Childhood traumas motivate us in ways we are sometimes unaware of. More over, successful people try to overcome their fears by pursuing tasks that will make them feel better about themselves. We recently wrote an article about the Peter Principlehttp://academy.justjobs.com/recognize-your-career-stall-points and how to overcome some of the weaknesses, or fears, that stall your career. – Erich
  • Dec 12 2011: Anyone know where I could find a poster like the one he used for Japanese with Traditional Mandarin?
    Or have advice on learning language quickly?
    • Jan 11 2012: Yes.
      1. Learn the expression “How do you say ——- in (target language)?”
      Learn what YOU want to say. When you use these expressions your motivation will skyrocket.2. Put yourself in a situation where learning the language is necessary e.g. Go to a country where they speak the language and have no contact with speakers of your own language; OR work in the target language3. Read. Lots. (vocabulary will get you further than grammar)

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    Dec 2 2011: I was really disappointed with this talk. His overall point may be overcoming fear, as the title suggests, but throughout he talks about swimming techniques.
    • Jan 4 2012: I completely agree with Tiffany. This man has overcome adversity, that is certain. The talk however demonstrates his total inability to engage an audience through storytelling. He’s asking for applause rather than earning it. Note the uncomfortable pauses after proclaiming to swim a mile, or making it to nationals in dance. Then he covers it up with tangents when his expectation of applause isn’t met (side projects, other details about the experience).For his dancing specifically, I found myself asking “What’s at stake?” He stepped on a woman’s toe and made her cry, so he felt like dancing again. Great. That’s not a fear I’m going to applaud overcoming. I’m not going to make a TED talk about how I started eating Cheetos again after I found a moldy bag.The talk would have been different if it had a point that related to the audience. Instead it felt like a “Look what I’ve done!”

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    Sep 23 2011: Many thanks for this sentence: FEAR is your Friend. I’am Iron-man, but I was afraid of the water. For a long time I could not ride a bike and I hated running. Still, I completed a 4km swim, 180 km bike and 42 km run 12 hours 12 minutes 38 seconds. Thanks Tim!!!!
    Be your own boss >>> http://miertnincsfonokom.blogspot.com
  • Aug 29 2011: It gives you the motivation to everything! thanks! ;D
  • Aug 14 2011: Insightfullllll 🙂
  • Aug 8 2011: Personally, he just comes cross as full of himself. Cocky, not confident. Sad.
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    Jun 4 2011: I would bet a dollar to a dime that the given the chance to live his lifestyle, even at a fraction of his intensity, every one of the malcontents who so pathetically trashed Ferris, would trade their crappy situation for his in a flash. I know I would. But I am just a waiter in a restaurant. I’m not some pompous pseudo-intellectual snob who can’t appreciate another’s wisdom, no matter how unconventional it may seem. I am stuck at square one. It takes money to make money and all of my automated lifestyle ideas, no matter how good they are, are only doable with advertising money. SEO is vastly too time consuming for the average person, such as myself, and to farm it out is just too expensive. I would love to learn the component I am missing to create such a lifestyle. Boo…Hiss…to the petty haters you are small-minded. Congratulations to him on a well-written book. I enjoyed his speech. He can be proud of his accomplishments. Why the hell not? I did read the book. This probably more than most of those who so arrogantly trashed this speaker did.
    • Jul 6 2011: Go to http://challenge.co/training/ It is a very cost effective way to start making money online because it shows you how to avoid a lot of competition. I too love His book and I know how much money it takes. I see your dilemma and I think this could be the thing to help.
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      Nov 30 2011: SEO isn’t rocket science, it’s mostly common sense. I’d gladly answer any SEO questions you, or anyone happens to have.As a caveat, Digg was launched for a whopping total of $200.The only limitations we have are those we put on ourselves!

  • May 3 2011: Not sure about other things, but my friend who also couldnt swim (even after 6 months of lessons) was able to swim within couple of hours of practice AFTER watching this video. he shared it with me, so i decided to try out the same technique.Background wise, i can swim. swam in a high school team, but i wasnt good as fellow students who swam all their lives, getting lessons since as a child. i learned an “incorrect” method from my dad, who also had to self learn, and my HS coach corrected my technique. so i did ok in the HS team, but i was never a long distance swimmer.** In a 25m length pool, the BEST non-stop swim i can do in freestyle was about 2~3 laps (so that’s 100~150m swim). FYI, olympic size ppols are 50m lengths, so olympian’s 1 lap is 100m.

    ** After giving tim ferriss’ swimming method a try for about 3 swim sessions (30 min sessions each), at the third session, i was about to do 15 Laps IN A ROW, and at the end of it, i felt great, not tired, and feeling like i can go for another 15 without a problem.

    Compared to my previous methods left me gasping for air only after the 2~3 laps. note that i swam both methods (my old swim coach method vs. tim ferriss’) at normal pace. Typically, i take a short break after 2~3 laps, during a 30~40min swim session.

    I went further, to test ferriss’ method 1 more time, but this time at a 1.5x normal pace, and doing a 2~3 laps only. i STILL felt fine, and felt i can go further. Versus, previous method i was gasping for air, and i was forced to take a break.

    So, not sure about ferriss’ other examples on language and salsa, but i feel like it’ll be worth a try, after my personal positive experience with his swimming example. actually, i kinda hope he can do a info session on breaking down bboy methods or popping, but that’s just me. ^^

    To note, all i knew about tim ferriss is my friend’s recommendation and this TED.com video. havent read his book yet, but i think i might now, sounds interesting enough. =)

  • Apr 21 2011: Not sure about the other two examples, but the 7 sentences are totally useless. They’re all present tense, active voice declarative statements. You can’t reverse engineer an entire language from just that – there’s no example of negation, question form, passive voice, future, past, conditionals, imperatives…Sure, the idea of making an optimized set is great but the actual thing is likely quite a bit bigger and not as catchy as “Decode any language in just a few lines.”
    • Apr 26 2011: His explanation included asking the native speaker to translate the sentences additionally into future and past tenses, and he implied with and without negation in the sentences.You’ll also notice he takes a “most bang for the buck” approach. I’ll quote, “It’s what you do not how you do it that is the determining factor. This is the difference between being effective doing the right things and being efficient, doing things well, whether or not they’re important.”So, to be blunt, you’re right. There is no way to decode a language in just a few lines, but given a few lines and a starter’s vocabulary list, one could theoretically go from nothing to being able to survive daily life in a foreign language in a surprisingly short period of time. That was his point.

  • Feb 25 2011: What crap. He just lists what he did, he doesn’t really explain the method. Waste of time.
    • Apr 2 2011: I can’t agree more! Pointless talk about nothing, not really worthy a slot on TED. It would be more interesting to hear how he managed to write two books….
    • May 25 2011: You don’t get it. The thing is that he was able to learn that, wich is great. BUT the idea underlying all this speech is: how did he find the time to do all that. And that you can find in his book which is a great one, so buy the book and thank again.
    • Jan 11 2012: Actually I thought the swimming tips were useful. Not sure about the other two. But as Jean-Baptiste said – that wasn’t the point.
  • Jan 24 2011: I also find the following post quite disturbing, but one would have to additionaly verify this info http://beyondgrowth.net/lifestyle-design/the-4-hour-body-scam-review-works-60-percent-of-the-time-it-works-every-time-tim-timothy-ferriss/ in order to reach the truth.Still some tips in Tim Ferriss books I find valuable.
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      Apr 8 2011: I just read through that blog post, and it’s pretty scathing without being particularly informed. The person in question hadn’t read the books or tried the techniques. I’ll admit there’s a lot of hype about Tim Ferris at the moment, but I know a few people who have tried his fitness techniques and are very happy with the results.That’s not to say that the talk didn’t bore me – it seemed to be more about him than about an idea
  • Jan 14 2011: Tim Ferriss now has 2 books in 2 spots on the NYT best sellers list. Haters will hate, and work 80 hour weeks for the rest of their lives, miserable, wishing they were more like Tim.
  • Dec 28 2010: I was surprised to see so many negative comments to the post that just inspired me! I think Tim’s message didn’t reach everybody. What he was trying to pass is only motivation to encounter our fears and just demolish them! To be honest, I like talks like this. They are very inspiring; you want to start moving, improve yourself and the world. The process of self enrichment is actually much harder than it sounds. But the final result is so pleasant!! When people ask for advice, I also try to give it in anecdotal manner as it’s works better and just feels better! Even if he garnished his method a little bit, who cares if it actually helps people! We choose who we are!
  • Dec 9 2010: The talk is interesting enough. It made me think hard what my fears are, even the simplest of fears that I have, or had. I do believe though, that it would have been better if he did not focus much on the very details of how he was able to overcome those specific fears, but rather on how he came up with the courage to overcome such fears.Still, quite a thought provoking talk 🙂
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    Nov 16 2010: I have read his book and also followed his blog for sometime till I lost interest. All said I think he is a terrific marketing guy and he has created a concept which he is selling.I would not take everything he says and check if every one can do what he says. In the 4 hour work week he is just showing how using online resources and the power of the new business models one is able to establish and run a business that makes money and needs only 4 odd hours a week, which I think is possible, but I don’t think it is for me.I like to work and like to enjoy the work I do and not get bothered about the time I put in it. I think a better option is to identify what you love and do precisely that and make a living out of it. Tim is also doing the same thing which is writing, blogging and marketing and he does that 24X7 🙂 not 4 hour weeks.

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      Jan 23 2012: Very well put vinod! The last line of your comment says it all.
    • Mar 24 2012: with all due respect i believe you are misunderstanding much of what Tim is trying to get across in his talk as well as in his books. the idea as i understand it is to give people some of the basic tools in the areas of fitness, business, and learning so that people can expand their own way of thinking further and create the life they want. Ill use myself as an example, I am a twenty year old college student and first read the 4 hour work week 2 years ago. since i have started three business’s that have allowed me to become wealthy to the point of not having to worry about money any longer. which allows me to pursue the things in life that i am passionate about.the reality of the society that we live in is that many people expand their expenses to the point of trapping themselves, creating a belief that they cannot pursue the things they have dreamed of…the “i wish i could” and “in my next life” type of people that many of us are.I believe that, while many people believe that what they really want is to work less, what they actually want is to have the ability to devote their time to things which they deem greater and which will allow them to grow and contribute to society in a meaningful way.

      • Apr 7 2012: how did you come up with the start up capital while still in school (and assuming you were accumulating debt)?
  • Oct 18 2010: How does this guy do it all? He is definitely an inspiration.
  • Aug 12 2010: Japanese word “okasu” doesn’t explicitly mean “rape”, it has many meanings and Japanese will not think it so just in such short phrase.Kanji are not general problem of Japanese language, not less or even bigger problem are standard phrases and constructions which can totally change meaning of sentence up to inverting it, you will never understand it just translating separate words.Having table of kanji is totally useless, because even their reading depends on words almost without any system, meaning of words has relation with meaning of kanji in that word, but not always. So learning all ~2000 kanji as separate symbols is just silly.

    Japanese language never had some “Japanese 1” or “Japanese 6”, most known official test JLPT till 2009 had only 4 levels. ALL Japanese language tests are less-is-better, Level 1 is top, and, for example, JLPT Level 4 is for beginners.

  • Aug 5 2010: Isn’t that bit about efficiency and effectiveness contradicting?I mean, that is just totally off course from the whole Japanese language anecdote…..Not a lot of people like him…..
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      Oct 11 2010: Ferriss’ must be very naive if he believes his own preaching. He says he tried every possible book and CD and nothing worked until he focused his efforts on learning kanji.”As soon as I focused on the material”, he tells us, “I took off.”The difference he tells us is that, “it’s not what you do; it’s how you do it. It’s the difference between being effective and efficient.”

      But consider what else he tells us:
      -he was living in Japan the whole time
      -he went to a Japanese school
      -he had Japanese lessons everyday
      -he was living with a Japanese family

      You can’t really get better immersion than that can you? And he believes his unique approach deserves all the credit?

      You can only go so far without learning the written language, so learning kanji opened new doors, but why discredit the value of the grammar, vocabulary, speaking and listening skills he must have developed in that very immersive environment?

      Think he’d have learned as much if he studied that kanji poster in France?

  • Jul 26 2010: Wow I’m kind of amazed by the amount of criticism on this thread. The point of his speech is that overcoming your greatest fears can give you the greatest satisfaction, and that by simply asking “what’s the worst that can happen?” you can suddenly realize that your fears have little basis. After proposing this, he gives some examples of how he overcame fears or major obstacles in his life. He was scared to swim, now he loves it. He was in Japan with little comprehension of the Japanese language, now he can speak, read, and write multiple languages. He showed up for a tango lesson, was gripped in fear. Now he crushed it.Instead of criticizing his accomplishments, maybe you should actually take his advice and accomplish something….Good book. A little overwhelming at times, but if you check out his blog many people have done great things with their lives as a result.

    • Jul 27 2010: It’s the nature of the beast, sadly enough.The people 10 feet in front of us we call leaders.The people miles ahead of us, most will call targets.

    • Jul 28 2010: Ben,I completely agree. There are a lot of good nuggets in his book, and I believe you can learn from anyone. The question is not if Tim is impeccable in his character, intent, or philosophy.
      There are a number of points throughout his book that I disagree with. However, I have been able to apply a number of the principles he outlines to greatly improve the success of my start up business. I may not be super rich, but I work far more efficiently, spend more time with my family, and waste much less time on pointless things.I could point to all Tim’s perceived shortcomings in my eyes, but why not take the good to improve your own life? It’s interesting how people often criticize and are actually offended by those claiming to ofter advice or who exhibit a level of success in their own life. It’s easier for everyone to point out the faults of others than to get off our own butt and improve our lives.

  • Jul 21 2010: I’ll get picky on the carefully selected six sentences, which should teach you the basics of the grammar of the foreign language (10th minute):
    – The apple is red.
    – It is John’s apple.
    etcI’d augment some sentences with several negations, for example “The apple is red, the apple is not green”.Speaking several languages, I know that negations are different in each of them.

    See http://www.ideas-smart.com/node/103 for complete set of sentences including the common negations.

  • Jul 15 2010: While this is far from one of my favorite TED Talks, I think some of the criticism here is undeserved and misses the point of the talk–at least as I interpreted it. Viewers approaching this video for its factuality or–worse–its technical value might be disappointed. Here Ferriss is a storyteller, and an inspiring one.Granted, Ferriss focuses entirely too much on his specific anecdotes than on his organizing principles (maybe due to poor time budgeting), but the core messages are valuable ones. Don’t hesitate to approach learning in non-traditional ways. As a Japanese language student, I recognize that Tim’s suggestion for Japanese (learn kanji and the rest will follow) is incredibly oversimplified, and likewise his structure for language acquisition is too simple to promote anything approaching fluency. But neither of those things are the point. Material over method can be applied in different ways, but above all it necessitates that one dive in, regardless of fear.
  • Jul 10 2010: The fact that the guys dates dont add up perfectly doesnt make him any less influential- People say things to add dramatic effect. He very well could have avoided swimming for over 20 years- the point is the message. Even if he is a total liar, hopefully he can fool some people into making something of themselves- at least something more than shameless critics… I was inspired by his approaches- the stories are somewhat irrelevant. He told three very different stories and was able to improve these different skills in a very orderly way. The analytical approach to learning- and confronting your fear of failure were the selling points in my opinion.
  • Jul 4 2010: I guess I’d be more impressed by all the negative critics here if one of them actually posted some links to their achievements. Basic things: books written; CNN interviews; WSJ articles.I believe that’s not asking too much. It’s natural to think such criticism is just an expression of jealously, envy, lack of self-worth, etc. I’m sure that when all these critics share with us some of their many accomplishments, I will read their comments in a different light. Best to all.

From the EG conference: Productivity guru Tim Ferriss’ fun, encouraging anecdotes show how one simple question — “What’s the worst that could happen?” — is all you need to learn to do anything.

Tim Ferriss is author of bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek, a self-improvement program of four steps: defining aspirations, managing time, creating automatic income and escaping the trappings of the 9-to-5 life. Full bio »


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