Tonight: 400 Free Tickets to "Waiting for Superman"


To thank you all for making the last three years of life so amazing , I’d like to take you to a movie. Tonight.

I’m giving away 400 tickets to “Waiting for Superman” in San Francisco at 7:10pm (the SF premiere!), which opens tonight in several cities nationwide. If you get one of the 400, please print out your Eventbrite receipt and come to the theater around 6:30pm to get your real ticket. I’ll see you there and will also be giving DonorsChoose gift cards to every attendee.

The iconic Paul Graham has called this movie “probably the most memorable movie I’ve ever seen.”

I cannot imagine a more important film for Americans to watch… and it’s a fun watch. Truly a must-see. To keep it short and sweet: please make a point to see this film. It will change you.

See you at the movies, whether in person or in spirit.

Spread the word!

Other ways to help:
1) Have a birthday or other celebration coming up? Consider doing this, as I did. Wildly successful.
2) Other options for parents and you… yep, that means you. As much the 25-year old male programmer as the mom with three kids. See the film and then take just five minutes here.

Have a wonderful weekend, all. Much love to you and yours.

Posted on: October 1, 2009.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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76 comments on “Tonight: 400 Free Tickets to "Waiting for Superman"

  1. There’s a lottery system to get into a good school? OMFG! That’s terrible. Looks like a good film, can’t wait to see it. Can’t make it to San Fran – thanks though Tim!


  2. Hi Tim, hopefully the theme of the movie will inspire you for your next book. It is certainly getting my brain in gear as I speak to schools about not needing much money to get started investing for one’s future. If anyone can figure out a better way to educate, I know you can.



  3. Sorry Tim, but from what I’ve seen of the trailers and the stuff on the website, it doesn’t look all that great. If people don’t realize how bad our educational system is it might be a good wake-up call, but I hope that’s something most Americans already realize. Maybe I’m just young enough to have seen what it’s like now (and I went to a good school). I’ll have to see if they offer any solutions that would work in the real world or if it’s all emotional fluff.

    [NOTE FROM TIM: Speaking as someone who’s seen the movie, they discuss some valid options for improving the situation.]

    It was pretty clear to me in high school what the problem with public education was. None of the administrators and most of the teachers didn’t care if what they were doing actually worked. Why? They didn’t need to. It wasn’t like we could go somewhere else.

    They said they cared. I went to a school that had a fair amount of money and they implemented all sorts of fancy programs that were supposed to be innovative, but it was a joke. The school won awards and school administrators came from all over to see how great it was, but we, the students, knew better. Only half my senior class graduated, and it wasn’t because they weren’t smart enough. The programs didn’t work.

    On one of the clips from the movie they showed Bill Gates. Unfortunately, he has spent a lot of money to make things worse. My high school received a lot of money to implement one of his programs. Fortunately, I had already graduated, but my brothers weren’t so lucky. The program was all about sorting kids by what they thought they wanted to do in life, rather than let them explore the possibilities.

    Could you imagine trying to run a business like that? Never looking to see if what you’re doing works–forever creating new marketing schemes and begging for more investors to invest, but never looking to see if any of it is making a profit. Public schools are the antithesis of the 4-hour work week principles.

    [TIM: I agree. It’s a total mess. That said, I think you’d like some of the model successes they profile in the movie.]

    The only way I can see to really measure the success of a school is by how many students want to go to that school. Standardized tests and even grades are lousy measures of how much a kid learns or is inspired, but it is the only way schools have to measure success so long as kids are forced to go to the same school. The other problem is there is no natural force to make them improve. You can’t force a school with laws or threats to pump out kids who get test scores. You have to change the environment the schools are in. The only way I can see doing that is attach the money to the kid, rather than the school. Parents will have the power do what’s best for their kid’s future, more money will be given to teachers rather than wasted by administrators and schools will be forced to innovate and improve in ways that actually work.


  4. Bugger. I’m in Singapore and won’t be able to make it in time.

    Quick suggestion, Tim. I’m new to the site and to your book. I’ve found a lot of the links in the older articles don’t seem to work. Maybe you can set a VA to work checking it out, especially with site traffic set to rise as news of your new book goes viral.

    Have a lovely night, all lucky SF residents.


  5. I will have to watch the movie to really get the jest of it but I bet my opinion will still stand, we need to work on being our own superman, personal responsibility.

    Josh Bulloc
    Kansas City, MO
    How can I help?


  6. Somebody is in a good mood. :)

    Bummed I’m not in San Fran (I’m actually usually there visiting at this time of year), but thanks for giving back so much in so many ways. To be honest, I purchased the new book and it could be the worst thing I ever read (I don’t anticipate that, just sayin’) and I’d still consider it a bargain with respect to all the invaluable, thoughtful and insightful content I’ve gleamed from your material over the years. Hoping you realize great success from this.


  7. @Josh Bulloc – You are absolutely right that personal responsibility is absolutely essential. But people can’t teach themselves everything, and a bad school environment can easily beat down a lot of desire for self improvement. So many kids never discover that they love to learn.

    However, I don’t believe the government can do enough for education, so it is really up to individuals to step up and create companies and organizations that can. The reason I don’t believe government can is that it relies on a few people forcing their ideas on the system. That is what I have seen. To really improve things, there has to be natural forces in play to promote good ideas and prune the bad. Sal Kahn from the Khan Academy is an excellent example of something that works by naturally being promoted. He doesn’t have to force people to learn the way he teaches because it’s actually effective. He chose to step up and be a superman for others and they use their personal responsibility to accept what he offers.


  8. I am from the Philippnes. We have the same problems here.

    I speak from one school to another hoping that I will be able to contribute a little more. A change of thinking about schools and education is necessary.


  9. Hey Tim,

    Just another commenter who life has been hacked by your wisdom. :o) You revolutionized the way I view life in general and have inspired me study languages again. Anyhoo, I am jonesing to see this movie but unfortunately I don’t live in SF, but if going to see this movie in NYC & paying $14. for a ticket will inspire more theaters to show this film then it will be money well spent!

    Can’t wait for the new book! I tried some tips for your earlier posts and basically live in my Vibram 5 fingers and can’t wait for the full monty!!




  10. The teachers unions are going to *love* this movie…

    Another problem: failure doesn’t exist. If you fail an english test, you have the opportunity to make it up 2 more times, and the teacher must write in detail what they are doing to improve the student’s learning. If they fail the class, they sit in front of a computer for 8 weeks to make up the credit. The principal looks down upon F’s and encourages teachers to “round up.”

    I’m sure the movie will show a large number of students with intrinsic motivation, but often that is not the case. My wife hears this argument often: “my daddy don’t have a HS degree and he’s doing just fine, besides, I’m going to be working in his auto shop, why do I need to learn about conjucations?”


  11. Whew, some sobering stats there.

    I’ve come across such great talent in many of the overseas VAs that help me with my business that I fear for America’s future sometimes.

    Thanks for the head’s up on the movie, it’s the first I’ve heard of it.


  12. Cool idea for a party, Tim. This movie might not change our education system, but it’s totally gonna get Michelle Rhee a job as an American Idol judge.


  13. Thanks for doing this… I have been following this movie’s story from the beginning and feel it is impactful/important. I’m in Philly, otherwise I’d join you!

    My goal is to not only watch it, but take an idea I’ve been working on to affect/improve education myself.


  14. I will watch the movie, but I’m not optimistic that this isn’t another liberal snapshot of a problem that fails to address the root causes of why the schools have been on a downward trend for so many years.

    My husband teaches 5th grade at a ‘Title 1′ school, and consistently has the best-performing class in the school. Not only for record-levels of improvement and final test scores, but also the best-behaved class as well.

    #1. He has more instructional time because he isn’t dicking around trying to get the kids settled and organized — he has *very* specific rules for his classroom and they are enforced consistently so he wastes very little time. #2. He’s a natural teacher: he engages the kids in the educational process… he teaches them to THINK.
    #3 He’s the positive male role model that most of the kids don’t have in their lives. He has more kids coming back to visit him during the school year than the rest of the teachers combined.

    From my observations, from talking to my husband, and talking to other teachers, my take is this: attitude and behavior are actually the biggest challenges the schools face. Particularly in poor areas, like his district, the kids are raised in an environment of entitlement and the concept of actually working is foreign to them when they start school. They are generally also raised in environments that don’t trust or respect authority — rules are challenged and the liberal response that prevails in schools these days is to give them a hug instead of holding them responsible for their actions. (I’m talking about natural consequences, like missing recess when you don’t do your homework.)

    Finally, the sad fact of the matter is that some of these kids simply won’t try because they don’t believe they can achieve success.

    I think the media should follow closely the affects of the money the facebook guy is throwing at the one school district in NJ. (I’m bad with names, and too lazy to look it up right now.) Should be a good experiment in what the administration does with the money and if any of the programs they implement or “stuff” they spend it on has any real effects.

    Now for some rambling thoughts:

    My own kids went to what is considered to be a high-achieving public high school. IMO, most of the teachers were mediocre, as were the administrators. It’s considered ‘high-achieving’ because they have a very low dropout rate and a huge number of kids enter college after graduation. The fact that 85% of the student population comes from households with college-educated parents is a bigger factor than anything the school does. The kids come from families who value education.

    The current goal of forcing every peg, round or square into the same hole is archaic. At least half of the courses my own kids took were a complete waste of time. So much of what they teach in high school is either a re-hash of stuff they’ve been taught their whole lives, or it’s something they’re just gonna have to do over as freshmen in college. Or filler classes like art, keyboarding, and ‘technology’ (usually taught by someone who couldn’t get a job in technology or somebody following instructions from a ‘Dummies’ book).

    In India, if you are lucky enough to get to school, you only have 2 years of high school, then you can start your college studies. Makes sense, especially if you’re doing similar coursework.

    We can move right on up from criticizing high schools to the curriculum in colleges. WAY too many folks graduating with useless degrees in ‘liberal arts’, ‘political science’, and ‘sociology’. Do you want fries with that?

    Now for a bit of total honesty: Both of my sons are gifted. Doesn’t take much effort on their part to learn. However, neither seem to have much desire to achieve anything. Especially the older one… they just do the bare minimum in just about every area of their lives. Neither have ever been in much trouble, but they don’t have passion or motivation. The problem, created by me and their dad: they’ve never wanted for anything. WE’VE spoiled them. I can’t blame the schools for it. Sure, they can do trigonometry and write a research paper, but the skills don’t mean squat without desire on their part.


    • Hi Valerie,

      Thank you very much for your comment. I agree with all of your points before the self-described “rambling” points. Some good points in there, too, but I don’t agree that liberal arts degrees are useless, but maybe I’m biased since I have one :) I do think that building driven well-rounded people with global conscious is as important as job prep.




  15. Thanks Tim, I’ve seen this discussed on 60 Minutes and it’s a real eye opener. I’ve got a 2 yo son and hate the idea of moving out of SF but the school system here compared to the ‘burbs makes it difficult to stay. i appreciate your generous ticket giveaway and the increased awareness of the issue. BTW, Congrats on the new book as well!