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MALE SPEAKER: So about five years ago, I had the pleasure
of introducing a new author to an Authors at Google talk.
And this author's name was Tim Ferriss.
He had a new book that had just come out called "The
4-Hour Workweek." It was a surprise hit.
And it spent about four years on the bestseller list.
Not too long after, he had a second book called "The 4-Hour
Body," which was a little bit more about hacking the body,
weight loss, nutrition.
A lot of people I know here at Google have
lost a bunch of weight.
I myself have lost about 20 pounds doing that.
So I'm very excited to have Tim here for his new book,
"The 4-Hour Chef." It's a book that starts with cooking and
then goes into food in general.
It's also a bit of a primer on approaching any topic and
learning it and learning it towards mastery.
And Tim's here to talk about the book, but
also about other topics.
And we'll have a lot of time for Q&A.
And so I'm very excited to have Tim here today.
Please join me in welcoming him.
TIMOTHY FERRISS: Thank you, kind sir.
Trevor was subjected to some of my experimentation also
throughout this book with respect to food, which in the
beginning was not very pleasant at all.
TIMOTHY FERRISS: So it's been fun to visit Google as many
times as I have.
And certainly in the first visit, I had a lot more hair
and many fewer book sales.
But this book is perhaps the most exciting
to me of all three.
So I'll start off with a very dramatic trailer that I think
gives a basic sort of overview.
And then we'll jump into the presentation, which I'll try
to keep really short, or as short as I can.
And then a bunch of Q&A, because that's when I
have the most fun.
So let's do the trailer first.
So the presentation's all downhill from here.
That was courtesy of Adam Patch.
Adam Patch directed and did the post on that.
There are a few things that came up in that video that
will reappear through the presentation.
It was all filmed in Seattle, at Delve Kitchen.
So if anyone's interested in molecular gastronomy, things
like that, Chris Young, who used to run the experimental
kitchen for The Fat Duck in London when it became number
one ranked in the world, helped with all of that, as
well as with the science section.
But let's start at the beginning.
So "The 4-Hour Chef, Accelerated Learning for
Accelerated Times--" this book of the three has the most
confusing title and subtitle combination, I think.
And that is because for the last four or five years, my
readers have been asking me for a book on accelerated
learning, mostly because of my talk about smart drugs and
language acquisition and things like that.
The problem is, writing a book on learning without a good
context is really boring to read and even
more boring to write.
So I ultimately chanced upon thinking of
cooking for a few reasons.
The first was it was a skill that I had
quit many times before.
I had failed at it many, many times before, despite trying,
much like swimming, which was covered in "The 4-Hour Body."
Secondly was--
I think as many people feel these days in a digital
world-- there's a certain sense of angst that I felt
every time I closed my laptop.
I'd accomplished a lot of work, but I had nothing
physical to show for it.
And I really wanted to reclaim my manual literacy and build
physical things.
And I thought that would be woodworking.
But there's always an excuse not to go to Oakland to do it.
And I didn't want some crappy bird house in my
living room, anyway.
And I saw my girlfriend cooking one night, and I said,
that can be my dojo.
That can be where I learn to use my thumbs for something
besides the space bar.
And it turned out to be really life-altering for me to
reclaim that part of myself.
And lastly, because food involves all five senses, you
can really use it to create sort of a Spidey sense in all
of those senses, which is pretty wild.
And it transfers to almost everything else.
And this shot, this opening shot here that you guys can
see, it's two pictures, identical pictures.
This is the entranceway to Alinea Restaurant in Chicago,
which at the time I wrote the book was number one
ranked in the US.
And I spent three days there.
And in Alinea Restaurant, they test every assumption
possible, every convention possible.
You get menus at the end instead of at the beginning.
When you walk in, no one greets you.
It's this red hallway, completely soundproof.
Until you get to the end, nothing happens.
Then motion sensors open a hidden door, and people greet
you by name.
Everything's been tested, including the business model.
And I encourage people to look at Next Restaurant for how
they sell out their entire season for the restaurant in,
in some cases, 10 to 30 seconds online.
It's very, very cool.
The guiding tenet when looking at sports performance, when
looking at work performance, when looking at learning
performance is this.
So "whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority,
it's time to pause and reflect." And my job over the
last five years, but certainly something I've obsessed on for
15-plus years, is finding the anomalies, finding the
freaks-- you know, the people who are really good at what
they do despite having poor raw materials or very informal
training or no training at all.
This is to give people-- how many people have seen this
video before?
A handful.
This is in South Africa.
This is just to give you an idea of what I do to myself in
the name of experimentation.
I had been effectively told-- this is the
side of my right leg.
I'm recording this with a Flip camera, in Cape Town at one of
the top sports science institutes.
And I had been told, in effect, through Navigenics and
other types of DNA testing that I lacked the ability to
produce fast twitch muscle fiber properly.
So this genetic determinism was very depressing.
But that didn't square with my experience
in sports, for instance.
I'd been an All-American in high school in wrestling.
So I decided to skip all of the theory and just remove
samples from my leg.
And the way it works with a biopsy is they insert a hollow
tube, slightly larger than a pen, into your leg, apply
suction, pull the tissue in, and then rotate
it to cut it out.
And I'm not going to run this for very much longer.
But last time I showed this, I actually did it at a lunch
meeting, which was my Long Island
sophistication coming out.
In any case, I'm not going to go too deep
into the results here.
-All right.
Who wants to sign up?
I'll come to this in a second.
The punch line to that is that something along the lines of
more than 40% of my muscle fiber was in fact fast twitch
muscle fiber, type IIa, which is fully trainable.
So the raw materials you start with, perhaps the skills that
you've put on the shelf because you couldn't master
them or couldn't even get started learning them, do not
seal your fate.
And the way you get around that fate, the way you sort of
head-fake what you think are your limitations, is by
testing assumptions.
This is another shot from Alinea Restaurant.
And this is one of the last courses.
This has been plated by Grant Achatz.
So chef Grant Achatz, A-C-H-A-T-Z, is really worth
taking a look at.
And I look at him very closely in the Professional
section of the book.
But when Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who's a very,
very, very world-class chef, who runs many restaurants
including ABC Kitchen in New York City, was asked, who do
you fear among your colleagues, it didn't take him
more than a split second to say Grant Achatz.
He does things I can't understand.
I don't understand how he creates the things he creates.
For instance, they wanted to test plating.
Why don't we have bigger plates?
Well, they couldn't fit a 4-foot-diameter plate through
the doorways to and from the kitchen.
So instead, they found a special, effectively
food-grade latex from a sex shop in Paris and imported it
to create tablecloths where they could use the entire
table as a plate.
And on the right-hand side, you see a dark chocolate
pinata that is shattered on the table and releases all
this liquid nitrogen and crazy stuff, which is just awesome.
And it tasted good.
A lot of these food-as-theater shows end up producing really
crappy food.
But Alinea does not have crappy food.
This is an example of transfer.
When you start to think creatively about food--
because I was an anti-cook my entire life.
Even a few weeks prior to starting research for this
book, I had two friends who are very good cooks come over
to help cook dinner.
They said, grab the wine and we'll talk about
business, catch up.
They came over, and I had mustard and white wine in my
fridge, including some, like, biohazard unidentifiable food.
And they asked me where my olive oil was.
And I said, olive oil.
Olive oil.
Oh, it's in the freezer.
It's in the freezer.
Why is your olive oil in the freezer?
I really was starting from ground zero.
And when you start to think about food creatively,
anything creatively, it transfers.
So this was about halfway through my meal at Alinea.
We had been stuck in design gridlock on the cover.
And it just came to me after one of their more inventive
dishes that the cover could be something like this on the
left, which I sketched out.
And then it turned into the final cover.
So even if you hate cooking, hopefully you love food.
And taking even a week to experiment with all of those
senses in the kitchen, even if you stop after that week, will
take a lot of your life that is currently in black and
white and turn it into high def, which is a really cool
effect that is persistent.
This is something you saw in the trailer.
This is one of my old friends when I inhaled something
through nasal inhalation.
This is vasopressin, which is an antidiuretic hormone.
It's prescribed as desmopressin to kids in some
cases who bed-wet past a certain age.
I used it starting freshman year in college to ace Chinese
character quizzes.
And it has very interesting applications
to short-term memory.
So I would take two shots and flip through a book almost as
quickly as I could turn the pages and score a 95 to 100%.
It was pretty cool.
Now, as you might imagine, snorting antidiuretic hormone
is not the best long-term strategy.
And pretty quickly thereafter, headaches set in and all sorts
of issues, because I was testing a whole slew of other
drugs at the same time.
And I started to focus on method.
I didn't continue with-- well, that's not entirely true.
I'm still interested in the drugs.
We can get to that if you guys want.
But the point being there are actual methods, recipes, that
the world's fastest learners use to learn what they learn,
whether that's Daniel Tammet in the UK, who learned
Icelandic in seven days well enough to be interviewed on
TV, whether that's Ed Cooke, who plays a pretty big part in
the book, who trained Joshua Foer from zero to national
memory champion in the US, which was chronicled in
"Moonwalking with Einstein." There is a
method to this stuff.
Tango, fighting, marksmanship, cooking, languages--
there are methods.
And this was the common method that I distilled from many of
these different experts--
This is an acronym, of course.
And it stands for Deconstruction, Selection,
Sequencing, and Stakes.
And I'm going to breeze through this pretty quickly.
I'll give a few examples of what I mean, then a few
take-aways, and then we can jump into Q&A.
But this is the basic process.
Deconstruction is taking something very big and
intimidating, like learning how to swim.
I couldn't swim until three years ago.
And I grew up on Long Island.
How embarrassing is that?
But I was deathly afraid of swimming.
I'd had a couple of semi-drowning experiences,
have trouble with my left lung.
So I took swimming and broke it down into, OK, what are the
arms doing in freestyle?
What are the legs doing in freestyle?
Learning to swim is too big, just like learning a language.
And then, what are my failure points, my
personal failure points?
Why haven't I learned this already?
So for me, it was every time I went in to try to take a
class, I would be given a kickboard.
And they would say, all right.
Do a couple laps.
And then we'll get you started.
And I would flail around like a drowning monkey.
And I wouldn't move.
And I would just be embarrassed, exhausted.
And I would quit.
So it's like, all right.
How would I learn to swim if I had to avoid kicking?
And it gives you a specificity to then look for the answers.
And through a friend of mine named Chris Sacca-- who some
of you may know--
a very astute investor, who was terrible at swimming and
then completed an Iron Man, I found total immersion method,
which, guess what?
Doesn't really use kicking.
So deconstruction is taking something really big and
making it more tackleable.
Selection is a common thread through all of the books that
I've written.
This is the 80/20 analysis.
So what are the 20% of tools, activities, approaches,
coaches, whatever it might be that will get you 80% or more
of the outcomes, the results that you want?
This is really easily applied to languages.
Like most people, when I studied Spanish in junior high
and whatnot, I was terrible.
I couldn't string a basic conversation together for 30
seconds after three years of studying.
And I concluded I was bad at languages.
Not so.
I just had things all mixed up.
If you instead look to someone like Michel Thomas--
M-I-C-H-E-L Thomas, his original audio recordings, who
was a Holocaust survivor, then an
intelligence officer in Europe--
you could acquire the basics of Spanish grammar in two or
three days.
And then if you used flash cards, like vis-ed.com, V-I-S,
hyphen, E-D dot com, which are high-frequency word lists and
flash cards, you could become functionally fluent in a
language like Spanish in 8 to 12 weeks without that much
And I say that now because I've applied this to Japanese,
Mandarin Chinese, German, Spanish, and so on.
It's very replicable.
this is something that I don't think has been addressed very
well by other books.
And there aren't really many books on accelerated learning
to begin with.
Sequencing is kind of the secret sauce.
So a friend of mine, for instance, Josh Waitzkin--
does anyone know that name?
He was the basis for a book and a movie called "Searching
for Bobby Fischer." He's one of the most incredible chess
players in the world.
He opted out of the scene after all of the attention
from "Searching for Bobby Fischer."
But the way he was originally taught chess by his first
really formal coach was backwards.
He learned from the end game first.
So instead of starting with openings, which everyone does,
he began with pawn and king versus pawn, to learn flexible
principles and techniques that could apply everywhere.
And as a result, his rate of progress was much faster.
When I learned tango in Argentina--
which was a complete accident--
but from my first class to the world championships was five
and a half months.
And part of the reason I was able to make that rate of
progress is because I looked at how to play with the
And I learned the female role first.
I learned how to follow before I learned how to lead.
And it allowed me to progress much, much faster.
There are a lot of very good coaches who had also focused
on sequencing.
Stan Utley, who is a very well-known short-game-- ie
putting and whatnot-- golf coach, says people come to me
all the time.
They say, how's my form?
How's my form?
Can you correct my form?
He's like, your form is fine.
You're just moving the pieces out of order.
So playing with sequencing is really important.
And then stakes is also very neglected.
One of my friends, AJ Jacobs, writes for "Esquire." He's a
hysterical, hysterical writer, a very good writer too.
"The Year of Living Biblically"
is one of my favorites.
But when he was trying to lose weight-- so he's a Jewish guy.
He gave one of his friends a check to the KKK for
$1,000 in his name.
And he said, if I do not hit my weight-loss goal, I want
you to mail this to the KKK.
That is what we call an incentive.
So for most people, they're like, oh, I'd love to learn to
play the guitar.
I'd love to lose weight.
But if you fail at those things, nothing happens.
You don't get fired from trying to learn the guitar.
You just don't do it.
So an easy way to create stakes--
betting pools with friends are one way.
But you could also go to stickk.com.
I have no affiliation with it--
S-T-I-C-K-K dot com.
It was originally set up by or conceived of by a Yale
professor as a commitment store.
Here's how it works.
Take an amount of money that would be painful to lose,
because you'll work a lot harder to avoid the stick than
you will to get the carrot.
Put in some money.
It goes into escrow.
Then you choose your goal.
Let's just say it's guitar twice a week.
Then you choose your most merciless
friend to be the referee.
And if you don't--
oh no.
What happened?
Tech support?
"Eyes Wide Shut," anyone?
So we'll have to reclaim the screen somehow.
I'm not sure.
I didn't touch anything.
I can also riff without it, but it would be
nice to get that back.
Where the hell was I?
All right.
So escrow.
Then you choose an anti-charity.
So you have your merciless friend who is going to referee
and confirm or deny that you did what you said you were
going to do.
And then you choose an anti-charity.
Currently the most effective anti-charity is the George W
Bush Congressional Library.
Right below that--
this is from the stats.
I'm not taking a position.
I'm just saying.
Right below that you have pro-choice,
pro-life, duh, duh, duh.
So whatever nonprofit you would rather nuke than give
money to, choose that.
And then if your friend or another referee says you
didn't follow directions, guess what?
That money goes to that nonprofit in your name on the
record forever.
You will perform miracles.
People who have no instruction whatsoever,
it's just like, no.
I'm not even going to tell you how to lose weight.
But you have to lose weight or this will go to the KKK.
Man, miraculous.
So how many people here would like to, let's say, learn to
play guitar?
I think that's pretty common.
I would.
So go on YouTube and search Axis of Awesome.
So the Axis--
So Axis of Awesome is a comedy troupe.
It's a musical comedy troupe.
And they will play almost every popular pop song that
you can imagine using four or five chords.
So guess what?
Those four or five chords are your minimal effective dose.
That is where you should invest your time to have early
wins and get the most positive feedback possible, as well as
getting 80% or more of the outputs that you would want,
especially in that beginning novice stage.
From a sequencing standpoint--
I'm just kind of making this up as we go along until we get
visuals, if we get them.
It's not a big deal if we don't.
In the case of, let's say, cookbooks--
and I want people to believe they can become world class in
almost any skill within six months if they apply
themselves properly.
And by learning how to learn, you also by default
learn how to teach.
So you can teach your kids and whatnot.
One of the ways that you'll notice this has been taught
indirectly through the book is fixing some of the common
problems with cookbooks.
Many how-to books in general are written to be convenient
for the author to write, not a logical
progression for the reader.
So why do people quit cooking?
Let's say, knife skills, a really, really common reason
for people quitting.
Because they're introduced too early.
So there are ways to postpone it at a point when the student
will be ready.
Additionally, I don't care about why people pick
cookbooks up.
I care about why they put them down.
And what I did right from the outset before even starting
writing is I polled my Facebook and Twitter followers
to identify the five or six most common
reasons people quit.
So what do we have?
Shopping, too much cleanup, too much
expensive gear, et cetera.
And it's very important when you're trying to lose fat or
whether you're trying to learn something quickly to only
adopt one new behavior at a time.
So if you guys take anything away from this, let it be,
well, first, 80/20.
And then secondly, one behavior at a time.
So if you look at, let's say, the research that BJ Fogg has
done the persuasion lab at Stanford--
or really anywhere else.
If you try to take, for instance, people who are over
the age of 50 and teach them to quit smoking by texting,
your failure rate's going to be sky high.
Because you're trying to teach them two new habits, texting
and quitting smoking.
When most people try to learn to cook, what are
they in fact doing?
Just ignore this.
Ignore this.
They're not trying to adopt one new behavior.
They're trying to adopt grocery shopping.
And of course they don't know where anything is, because
they never do it, so it takes them an hour
longer than it should.
Then prep time.
Pain in the ass, especially if you don't know knife skills.
Then cooking, then cleanup.
Of course everybody gives up.
Of course.
That's like I've never lost weight before.
I want to lose weight.
I'm going to go to the gym seven times a week.
I'm going to change all my meals.
I'm going to get the most expensive personal
trainer I can find.
And then add two more to that.
Of course it fails.
So a side note-- if you want to lose fat quickly, 30 grams
within 30 minutes of waking up is the first
change you should make.
That's how my dad started.
He went from 5 pounds of average fat loss per month to
17.85 in the first month and then lost a total of
more than 90 pounds.
So just a protein shake first thing when you wake up.
Don't even change your meals.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, don't exercise for the
first 8 to 12 weeks.
The grammar of any language--
this is the 80/20 of language learning.
There's a fascinating guy--
I talk about him briefly in "The 4-Hour Chef"--
named Cardinal Mezzofanti.
Anyone heard this name before?
All right.
So Cardinal Mezzofanti is a hyperpolyglot.
By some accounts, he spoke 72 languages.
He's been tested pretty well in at least 32.
There's actually a book about a lot of this stuff called
"Babel No More," I believe it is, which is outstanding.
The way that he learned these languages without using really
any written materials to speak of was he would have native
speakers translate the Lord's Prayer into
their native language.
And in that tiny little Lord's Prayer, he could pick out
almost all of the most important grammatical
constructions in the entire language.
I actually ended up doing the same
thing, but with 13 sentences.
So in effect, just to make language, because it's so
intimidating to people, graspable--
if you can translate these 13 sentences, you have enough
grammar to have a pretty long conversation assuming that you
then add in the words you need.
And if you study something called the linkword mnemonic--
there are different types of mnemonics-- the linkword
mnemonic by Gruneberg, G-R-U-N-E-B-E-R-G, you can
learn 200 to 300 words a day without too much trouble.
And if you consider you need about 1,200 words to seem
fluent, like a week or two, you're off to the races.
I'm not kidding.
This is my Muppet face, as my girlfriend calls it.
And this is to illustrate the minimal effective dose in
terms of gear.
So one of the things that I always found very frustrating
about cooking, they'd be like, OK, you ready, excited?
You're enthusiastic?
Let's kill that enthusiasm, because you have to buy $4,000
worth of stuff.
And you don't even know if you're going to keep cooking.
But have fun spending that money.
And that's like, oh, you want to try cycling?
Here, buy this $4,000 Tour de France--
it just makes no sense.
So if you look at a few of the things I have here, this is
about all you need to cook really well.
For part of the research, I went to the Oberoi Grand in
Kolkata, India.
And that was one of the best chefs in the country.
He did all of his prep with a $20 Victorinox knife and two
stainless steel pans.
You could buy all of that for $35, $40 in the US.
Here you have a microplane on the left-hand side.
You have the Rada Cutlery cleaver, which is a $9 to $12
knife which is perfect for learning knife skills.
Do not spend a fortune on knives until you've decided
you're actually going to continue cooking.
Then you have that blue towel, which I found through Tom
Colicchio's gang.
That is a surgical, lint-free huck towel.
It's not designed for cooking.
It's designed for hospitals.
They're about $1 apiece.
They are gold.
They can be used for a million different things.
Then you see that little vegetable peeler.
That is a Kuhn Rikon vegetable peeler.
The Star peeler was the original version.
A guy named Joe Ades sold millions of them in Union
Square in New York City.
Find videos of him online.
It's amazing.
Then a couple of silicon spatulas.
A probe thermometer, super critical.
If you never want to undercook or overcook food ever again,
just get a probe thermometer.
When in doubt, cook it to 140 and you're fine.
There are a couple of exceptions.
Then a Peltex, which is like a slotted fish spatula.
And then a cast-iron Dutch oven.
That's pretty much all you need.
And you could start with a lot less.
On the right-hand side--
any coffee geeks?
There's got be at least one or two.
All right.
So I spent a few days with Stephen Morrissey, who was the
2008 World Barista Champion, works at Intelligentsia Coffee
now, also helped design the coffee program at Eleven
Madison Park, which has become a big selling point for Eleven
Madison Park.
So here are some of the things we tested.
I'm not going to go through each one.
But if you want to make a really amazing cup of coffee
and you don't want to get too down, stuck in the weeds,
here's my recommendation.
For one or two people, all you need is an AeroPress.
It was designed by a mechanical engineer out of
Stanford who also developed the Aerobie, the Aerobie, that
Frisbee, same guy.
And then get, obviously, good coffee.
Get a conical burr grinder, which does
not have to be expensive.
You could get a Hario hand grinder or a Porlex.
They're probably $20, $30 a piece.
And then 12 grams of freshly ground coffee to
200 grams of water.
And the water should be between 175 and 180 degrees
And you're done.
That's all you need to know for the basics.
You can get in the weeds, but that will produce one of the
best cups of coffee you've ever had in your life.
this is just a point I want to make about home versus
professional chef.
Professional chefs need fancy gear in some cases, because
they have to produce 100, 200, 300 of the same dish a night.
And they have to be extremely consistent.
At home, you can create the same thing but use a
super-ghetto MacGyver approach.
So there's something called the Anti-Griddle, which is
manufactured by a company called PolyScience.
And it's used at Alinea.
It's a surface that can be lowered to about negative 40
And you can make all sorts of crazy stuff.
The way they did the recipe testing before the
Anti-Griddle existed, and the way that you can replicate the
results at home without spending $2,000, is using a
block of dry ice and a baking sheet on top.
Or you could use the back of a metal spatula.
And then you can make these things, for instance.
Take a few minutes.
These are like those peppermint Girl Scout cookies,
those super crack addict cookies.
They're like that, but even more addictive.
And you can make them in about five minutes.
But you can do this at home and replicate a lot of the
things that would cost $5,000 to $10,000
with just a few dollars.
This is one of the last points I'm going to make.
And that is the approach is the same.
This process, this blueprint for
meta-learning, applies to tango.
That was my instructor for a whole host of reasons in
Argentina when I was competing, named--
not the woman, although that would've been nice.
Gabriel Misse, on the left-hand side, Gabriel Misse,
M-I-S-S-E. If you ever want to go to Argentina or take tango
classes, look for that guy.
He's one of the few tango instructors whom the old
guard, like the old-school milongueros, really love, as
well as the new guard, like [SPANISH]
guys, they all love him.
Here's me, on the floor.
What am I doing?
I'm practicing the motion of sauteing, on my knees with dry
beans in a skillet.
I'm not cooking.
The most stressful way to learn new skills is to try to
learn them while you're under pressure to produce a meal.
So this is an example of no-stakes practice.
Like practicing cutting skills with a lettuce knife, for
instance, which is pretty much exactly the same shape as a
chef's knife, but you can't cut yourself.
On the right-hand side here, if we want to talk
about guns, we can.
But I'm not going to go too nuts.
This is an M&P .45, Smith & Wesson.
That is the real gun.
Then above it, we have a pellet gun and a BB gun, both
manufactured by Smith & Wesson, that are replicas of
the same thing, which allowed me to practice at home so I
could then transfer all those results to
the range, or zombies.
So no-stakes practice and transfer--
the process is the same for all these skills.
And of course, last but not least, simplify.
Learning does not have to be complicated.
Cooking does not have to be complicated.
And what I noticed--
I mentioned this earlier-- is at the very highest levels,
when I met the best of the best, they kept things really
simple for me.
They didn't say, no, you can't do it.
They didn't say, no, it'll take a lifetime to
become a good cook.
They said, look.
If you want to dedicate your life to it, you have
to do what I do.
But to be one of the most amazing home cooks out there
does not take very much time at all.
It does not have to be complicated.
That is a Gurkha regiment kukri knife, for those people
wondering, a Nepalese knife used to chop
people's heads off.
That is related to simplification because the act
of deciding to simplify--
decision is related to incision.
Decision is removing possibilities, applying
positive constraints, like the 80/20 analysis.
So I'll end with one example of simplicity.
This is an ash cake.
So these are cakes.
They're like scones made from acorn flour, cooked directly
on a bed of coals.
And this was done in the Santa Cruz mountains, with an
incredible guy named Cliff Hodges, who actually has
engineering degrees from MIT, but runs a company called
Adventure Out in Santa Cruz.
You guys should all check it out.
Made these, brush off some of the ash.
The most delicious scones I'd had in years.
And it was done right on a bed of coals in the mountains.
So find the elegance in the chaos and simplify to the
extent possible.
And that is the end of my presentation.
Thank you.
TIMOTHY FERRISS: So I would love to do Q&A. That's when I
have the most fun.
So the mic is right over here.
If anyone has any questions, I would love to hear them.
And they don't have to be related to anything in this
I think we're just going to [? have this ?] because they
want to record the questions.
AUDIENCE: Have you applied the DSSS thing to coding?
And if so, what do you start with in terms of sequencing?
TIMOTHY FERRISS: I have not spent a lot of time tackling
coding, just because I've spent most of my time in the
natural languages.
But I did have a very fun experience with
Chad Fowler, who--
I guess it was RailsConf, among other things, that he
used to run--
where he taught me the basics of Ruby using analogies from
Hindi, which he speaks.
And the way I would start is by looking at--
from the deconstruction step, I would look for people who
have had the fastest rate of progress in a
short period of time.
So rather than trying to emulate the best coders--
so for instance, I remember once I asked a friend of mine,
Daniel Burka--
I think he's here right now, in fact--
about the basics of CSS.
And he's like, all this stuff is second nature to me.
I don't remember the problems that I had in the beginning.
So looking for people, let's say in the world of swimming,
instead of Michael Phelps, you'd look at someone like
Shinji Takeuchi.
But in coding, I would be looking for people who have
made tremendous progress in a short period of time.
And that could be by contacting someone like Code
Academy and asking them for case studies.
There are a number of different
approaches I could take.
But I haven't delved too deeply into programming.
The reason this book took me so long to write partially is
I didn't have the contacts and resources that I have now to
meet the people I wanted to meet.
But it's also because I'd tried other frameworks that
always fell through with different subjects.
And this is the only one that has held up so far.
So I think it could apply.
AUDIENCE: So in short, find someone that's an expert at it
and kind of ask them what the end sequence--
TIMOTHY FERRISS: Or model them.
There's a list of 10 to 15 questions in the
Deconstruction section that I recommend running through,
whether as a thought exercise in using Google, let's say to
just do searches, which can really be all you need, or
whether you're actually reaching out
to people in person.
That list of questions helps break down where the
Archimedes levers might be where you can accelerate your
progress compared to, let's say, a
conventional CS training.
So your book is self-published on Amazon, right, and not in
TIMOTHY FERRISS: It is the first major book through
Amazon Publishing.
So it's not self-published.
This is a confusing aspect of it because
Amazon has so many options.
Amazon Publishing is based in New York and competes directly
with all of the other major publishers.
So they sign authors and provide advances and do all of
that stuff, which is why there's been such a strong
response, positive and negative.
So it's being boycotted at retail by all of Barnes &
Noble and a lot of indies.
But there are some stores, like Hastings and a handful of
indies throughout the country, that do carry it.
And so what were your business decisions for that?
TIMOTHY FERRISS: The business decisions were for me that I
like experimenting.
I mean, I'm sort of an experimentalist.
And I'd done the traditional model twice.
I know what's involved.
I know how to do it well.
It's just not very interesting anymore.
And I wanted to try something new.
And Amazon has direct access to all of its customers.
When you think of traditional publishing,
they are B2B companies.
So you'll have the VP of sales at an
imprint of Simon & Schuster.
They sell to the head category buyer at Barnes & Noble or
They do not have any relationship
with their end users.
And I wanted to see what could be done through Amazon, given
that it's a completely new landscape, and just try
something different.
So we'll find out very shortly the results of that.
But it's been fun.
I mean, it's allowed me to do things very aggressively that
I otherwise probably would not have even thought to do, like
partnering with BitTorrent to provide hundreds of megabytes
of extra content and video and whatnot.
It's forced me to improvise.
And I just enjoy that.
That's kind of what gets me excited.
AUDIENCE: So one of my favorite things about your
other books are that you find these universally accepted
truths, and you affirm some of them and negate others.
So in "The 4-Hour Body," you kind of negated the idea that