Two Short Videos – How and Why to Be Unreasonable, The Art of Tweaking


Just take a right at…. huh? (Street signs in Wales)

In the wee morning hours of September, I took my first trip to Wales to experience The Do Lectures, which is held in tents in the Cardigan wilderness.

Not only did I get to sleep under deer skins in a high-end geodesic dome (not kidding), I got to dropkick my brain reading Welsh and drink the best peppermint tea I’ve ever had. Fun times indeed. Even water buffalo came to the party (again, not kidding). I put some pics at the end of this post.

My 15-20-minute presentation — the first video below — was titled “How and Why to Be Unreasonable.” The Do Lectures have a clear environmental focus, but I’ve never done anything large in conservation or enviro-activism, so I decided to explore more universal principles of doing big things.

Here’s the thumbnail description:

“Case studies of how to think big and test assumptions to accomplish the impossible, whether launching a #1 bestselling product, setting a world record, or changing the world”…

The blog post I mention at the end is “From Shanghai to Silicon Valley: 3 Tips for Turning Lack of Resources into Strength.” Last but not least, please note that the mentioned Oscar Pistorius is actually South African and not Australian.

The second video was one of the most memorable (there were at least 6 killer presentations) and is well worth watching:

Tinkering. Playing. Interesting. Slow. Lessons learned building the Instorematic.


Matt Jones is a designer. He is one of the founders/lead designer of Dopplr, a service for intelligent travel and was creative director for the award-winning BBC News Online. He’s also done design work at Nokia.

Russell Davies’ auto-bio: I was born in Derby. Did school, university, tried to be a pop star and gag writer, failed at both and ended up in advertising. I did OK at it. Worked on brands and campaigns you’ll have heard of, like Honda, Microsoft and Nike. Now I’m trying to use my powers for good, doing interesting little projects which mostly seem to involve either printing the internet out and gluing it back together in a different order, or slowing it down with postcards.


About a year ago we volunteered to build a machine thing to go in Howie’s shop window in Carnaby Street. It took longer than we thought, but building it has taught us all sorts of interesting things about building, playfulness, slowness, making things with your friends and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

We’re going to talk about those things and others that seem related. There’ll be jokes and funny videos from the internet.

Follow Tim’s travels and adventures in real-time here.

Posted on: October 6, 2008.

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72 comments on “Two Short Videos – How and Why to Be Unreasonable, The Art of Tweaking

  1. Inspirational as always!
    I love that Marianne Williamson quote, and Kiva is a favorite site, too. They even have TEAMS now, Tim, so you could have a Friends of 4HWW team, and any donation your friends and fans make could count towards that team’s total donation amount- even though we could be picking different entrepreneurs from all over the world- the team’s total impact would be measured.
    Hmmm… I feel a GOAL or CHALLENGE coming on?
    How much could we as a group impact in one day or week?
    I digress- it is 3am and I excited and grateful for all the info and encouragement you so willingly share.
    Why not think BIG? If you shoot for the moon and miss, you’ll still land in the stars…
    Take care,


  2. Hi Tim,

    Hello from Portland, Oregon – the city of world class food and drink. :) I’m glad you enjoyed your visit here Tim – it’s a phenomenal city. I know you’ve moved on to your next topic but I have one quick comment and one important question from your two recent posts — I’d love your insight.

    My comment first. The video post of your speech came at the perfect time. I’m the president of a growing non-profit and I was able to take some of your talking points to our board meeting last night. We’ve been experiencing the manic-depressive rollercoaster effect described in your earlier post and it’s comforting to know that things go in somewhat predictable (and not always rosey) cycles. The online fundraising ideas are great too. I’m ready to retire some of the effort-heavy fundraising methods and move into automation. I also like the idea of having fundraising projects rather than ongoing (read: neverending) fundraising plans. I just realized that fundraising without a clear end product can be such a drag. It’s just like laundry – you’ve never done. People like the feeling of completion. Terrific ideas for streamlining – thank you.

    Now my question and it has to do with being unreasonable. When I’m not working at the non-profit (volunteering) I have a 40+ hour a week job where I’m expected to punch a clock and keep a regulated (even though I’m salaried) schedule. I want to approach my boss about working from home 3 days a week. My boss is fairly strict (he won’t allow casual Fridays) and so I’m trying to taylor my request to a proposal he can’t refuse. Since my company is struggling with the economic downturn right now, I thought I would propose a 3% voluntary pay cut in exchange for working from home 3 days a week. That only comes to about a $200 a month loss for me, but the time wealth gained would be 10X that. I also think it would ward off any coworkers who complain about preferential treatment because they wouldn’t want the pay cut – or if they didn’t mind taking a cut to work from home it would bring money back to a company that needs it right now. I would also use the reasoning that I would be more productive working rom home (I would) as outlined in your book.

    Does this sound like a good idea? Am I shooting myself in the foot with the pay cut? Am I being too risky asking my boss for this type of “special treatment” when people are bracing for more economic uncertainty? I’m wondering if not being physically present at work might affect my job security. I’ve been in my current position for 3 years, I’m well-liked, and I work in a small and necessary department. There’s a woman who’s been here less time than me so I don’t think I’d be first on their radar, unless not being here gave them fodder for letting me go. (“Well, she’s never here anyway so she won’t be missed… ” type of thinking.)

    It feels like the stakes are a bit higher when the economy is bad. Am I being unreasonable in the best way or in an ill-timed way? Should I wait until things turn around a bit?

    Looking forward to your thoughts…

    Thank you,


  3. @Rebecca,

    I don’t think this is crazy, but I wouldn’t offer the pay cut upfront.

    How about asking for 2 days at home per week (not Mon or Fri, as it will look like a 3-day weekend)? Then you can fall back to 1 if need be.

    From 1 day per week at current pay, you can demonstrate better results from home.

    Then you can up it to 3 over time. If they balk, you can then offer the pay cut, starting at 1-2%, reserving the 3% for a counter and final offer.

    Be sure to get “Getting Past No” — a book — for negotiation.

    Good luck!



  4. Part of Tim’s presentation reminded me of a lecture by Joseph Campbell where in his closing quote he talked about the quest of the Grail in King Arthur’s court.

    In short..

    Those in King Arthur’s court all agreed that they should seek out the Grail BUT….

    ‘They thought it would be a disgrace to go forth in a group. Each entered the forest at the point that he himself had chosen, where it was darkest, and there was no way or path.’

    Campbell goes on to say that seeking advice is cool, but to follow it exactly instead of choosing your own “way or path” is unhealthy.


  5. Tim, thanks for this video and your whole dealio- blogs, resources on your site, etc.- i’m still reading your book (i tend to be a bit adverse to adopting ‘popular’ media, should have gotten it long ago). i am an entreprenuer and it’s helping immensely- in the process of hiring at least one VA. i’m sure i’ll be back here again soon.
    One reminder about your Obama thought in this presentation: I agree that’s it’s likely impossible for any politician to be ‘free from corporate interests’- i mean, damn, they’re mostly who he’ll be working WITH, but i’d add that the main reason he can say this more than most is that 50% of his funds have been and continue to be raised online, with grassroots & small donations. it seems you two are aligned in thinking big and using inexpensive, web-based resources. :)
    Cheers, rock on.
    San Francisco, Ca


  6. Hey man,

    My name is Justin I am 24 and I live in Toronto.

    Just wanted to say I was working towards the 4-hour work week before I found your book. You gave me tons of ideas to be more efficient and effective in my “work” habits.

    Its nice to have a portable business (business in a back pack). I sure love it!! My travels haven’t been as extreme or as original as yours but I’m working on it.

    (I wonder if you will ever read this, as reading these comments must be very time consuming)

    Thanks for your knowledge as it serves many of us.

    Justin Szabados


  7. Tim,

    I introduced one good friend to the Tim Ferris’ way of life with this video. It embodies what you do, who you are and especially how you tackle life! Lastly, after reading your book and following your blogs religiously, its interesting to see how your philosophy is maturing and how muc hmore you’ve done since writing the book (ie: raising money for Lib). Keep up those motivational (and informational) speeches because that’s what I’m after!!!


  8. I finally figured it out – CableOne representatives report that is blocking three large ISPs in the U.S. – CableOne, Cox, and Comcast. I personally can only verify CableOne.

    I really wish I could have seen this video. Ah well. Maybe it’ll show up on youtube one day.


  9. Tim,

    Watched the vd. Great stuff. Wondering if you could help deconstruct a seemingly impossible task for me? Started a business [in URL] to generate income for my dreamline: becomming a helicopter pilot. Havent had the resources to put into marketing, etc… for business. What should I do to either drive my muse forward or is it possible to get my training for free.


    P.S. If youre ever in Dallas I could take you rock climbing down in austin. We’d have fun dude!!



    Quick question- do you know anyone who has $1.25 miliion they’d be willing to lend for less than 2 weeks to make 15% on their investment? It’s all on the up-and-up… just a hedge fund set-up that needs outside funds through escrow. My first thought was that you’d tell me to call Donald Trump, and I happened to get an email from him that day… seems telling…?!

    How would you go about asking him (or some other famous/ wealthy person) for this? I want to be unreasonable- and me pursuing this, in order to literally drag my own butt out of debt and dispair, is definitely an unreasonable thing to do, but I’m not sure how I’d get through to someone who could just pull the trigger. The other complication is that I only have 10 days to do it. Let the games begin!
    I put an ad on LoopNet:
    Any other ideas/ advice?
    thanks! :)


  11. Tim, I just discovered your web site and this video was my first opportunity to hear you speak. I currently listen to the audio book of Four Hour Work Week in my car each day – I’ve already read the book.

    The person reading the book (Ray Porter?) sounds a bit harsh. I think you would have done a better job yourself.

    Vincent – Minneapolis


  12. Hi Tim

    I have now been reading a lot of your posts after having read your book. I think what interests me most is the very interesting things you do. The fact that one has to travel all over the world to do them is a bit of an issue though. I mean I live in South Africa and I dont even travel around in my own country. For the very first time I decided to start in my own back yard and went to the Kruger National Park which is massive to say the least and is really interesting. It is actually quite wierd how much stuff there is to do in our world. Anyway I started by looking at the tourist offices and seeing how South Africa is being promoted within our own borders. What opportunities are we selling to the tourist and it is truly amazing what you can get to see in your own backyard.

    Ofcourse it is never as satisfying I guess as going to Alaska and doing something wierd and wonderful there. I am guessing there is never anything to top the desire to go out and see the world.

    I have certainly had my fair share of time off. I have been unemployed probably more time since I left school than what I have been employed. It has had its fair share of anguish but I can truly tell agree with you when you say the mini-retirement is the best thing their is in life.

    So for a while now I am working again. Nose to the grind stone but I have taken a job that allows me certain freedoms which others would not. So although I get paid less I enjoy a better quality of life due to the fact that I dont have the stress and am free to pursue other interests as long as I am ready and able when crunch time comes at my offices. This allows me a lot of freedom which is great. Still working on the autopilot stuff now and as soon as that is in place i will be able to travel as well.

    I have lived in the Netherlands for 5 years and had some good fun but on the whole what you find out is that living in 1 place can be generally speaking as boring as the next unless you are willing to leave your comfort zones and actually travel around a bit.

    I have quite a bit of valuable information regarding the Dutch and their ways in my book. [John, please put your book URL in the appropriate field per the comment rules! Thank you.]


  13. Tim,

    I’m about half way through watching the first video above, when you mention an alternative to ‘extremist madrasah schools’. I feel that I need to pause the video here and take time to point out that ‘madrasah’ literally translates to ‘school’ and has absolutely no implied connection to extremism whatsoever, and has only acquired this negative and ultimately false connotation since the whole Obama kerfuffle . As far as Arabs are concerned, you also went to a madrasah, albeit an American one.

    Other than that, keep up the good work!



    • To Omar,

      Thank you for this clarification. I wasn’t aware of this! “Madrassa” is — in America, at least — used to refer to schools that focus on militant Islamist teachings. This is also the term used in Three Cups of Tea, a book about building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. What would you call these extremist schools in proper Arabic?

      All the best,



  14. Hi Tim,

    To make sure I wasn’t misleading you (and myself), I’ve asked others about the term madrasah and its meaning. All agreed with me, except for a girl from Pakistan, who said that in her country it means a school where religion, and specifically Islam, is the main order of the day. She added, however, that it did not necessarily mean they were extremist.

    And while the general consensus on the net again seems to agree with my original post, I did find this useful bit of information: “The word Madrassa in ARABIC means school but in Pakistan when a person says they attend a Madrassa, they mean a religious school. So the western media is using the urdu meaning of madrasa not the original arabic meaning of it.”

    I’m not usually a stickler for semantics, but I wouldn’t like to be the American around Arabic parents arguing about who’s going to pick up the kids from school.

    (Personally, I’d use the word ‘markez / murkez’ to describe the extremist schools).

    Good presentation. Apologies for the confusion.