The Tim Ferriss Show: Interview of Kevin Kelly, Co-Founder of WIRED, Polymath, Most Interesting Man In The World?

84 Comments

KevinKellySF

This single interview — one of my favorites of all-time — was recorded in three short parts.  You can:



This podcast is brought to you by The Tim Ferriss Book Club, which features a handful of books that have changed my life. Here’s the list.  You can also find all 20+ episodes of this podcast here. Some are sober and some are drunk, but the guests are all great.

Now, on to this episode’s guest…

Kevin Kelly might be the real-life Most Interesting Man In The World.

He is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine, which he co-founded in 1993. He also co-founded the All Species Foundation, a non-profit aimed at cataloging and identifying every living species on earth. In his spare time, he writes bestselling books, co-founded the Rosetta Project, which is building an archive of ALL documented human languages, and serves on the board of the Long Now Foundation. As part of the last, he’s investigating how to revive and restore endangered or extinct species, including the Wooly Mammoth.

This episode touches on a lot of cool stuff.  SERIOUSLY, A LOT.

Just scroll below and your head might explode.  Tons of amazing links and goodies…

Enjoy!

Who should I interview next?  Please let me know in the comments by clicking here.
Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here.  It keeps me going…
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Show Notes and Select Links from the Episode

  • Kevin Kelly’s biggest regret
  • His lesson in finding contentment in minimalism and “volunteer simplicity”
  • How he realized that writing actually creates ideas
  • Why he promised himself that he would never resort to teaching English while traveling abroad
  • The “creator’s dilemma,” or how you have to go lower to get higher
  • Why you don’t want to be a billionaire
  • His realizations after doing a “6 months until death” challenge
  • His Kickstarter-funded project linking angels and robots
  • Why a self-proclaimed ex-hippie waited until his 50th birthday to try LSD for the first time
  • Why a population implosion is probable in the next 100 years
  • The greatest gift you can give to your child
  • The criteria for Amish technology assimilation
  • What technology-free sabbaticals can do for you
  • Long Now Foundation’s vision of a better civilization
  • The graphic novel for young people on how to become indispensable
  • His favorite fiction book
  • The great resource Kevin compiled for documentary lovers
  • How he accumulated enough books to fill a two-story library
  • Mythbuster’s Adam Savage’s organizational method, which transformed Kevin’s life
  • The project that everyone should undertake at least once in life
  • The advice he would give to his younger self

LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

Books Mentioned in the Episode

Documentaries Mentioned in the Episode

Posted on: August 29, 2014.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

84 comments on “The Tim Ferriss Show: Interview of Kevin Kelly, Co-Founder of WIRED, Polymath, Most Interesting Man In The World?

  1. Awesome interview, Tim! It seems like all the jitters from the first few interviews are gone and you’re having real conversations. Congrats on a great podcast.

    Like

  2. Hey Tim nice work, I subscribed because i love the podcasts the books and the blog. I was wondering if you have any remaining audio books of “How I beat the Ivy League” that you are selling because i am a senior in high school applying to colleges and i want to replicate your success story of beating the odds and slipping into Princeton undetected.

    Thanks in advance man your the best

    Like

  3. Question: I’d like to do the 6 months until I die experiment as well. But for some reason I can’t seem to imagine enough that I’m going to die in six months. How do I go about that?

    I happen to have a vivid imagination, but when it comes to this topic, it doesn’t feel urgent enough. It still feels like I can back out. But if it would be real, I couldn’t back out. So how do I diminish that feeling in order to really simulate this feeling I’m going to die in 6 months?

    Like

  4. Love love love the podcasts. It seems like I’m always learning something new, and your final 3-4 questions for each guest? Perfect.

    Potential future people to interview? I’d think it’d be interesting to have Julien Smith (CEO of Breather) on the podcast.

    Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Anyone can let me know where exactly in the interview do I find these parts:
    1) His realizations after doing a “6 months until death” challenge
    2) Why a self-proclaimed ex-hippie waited until his 50th birthday to try LSD for the first time

    Meanwhile – Tim, do you think it’d be possible for you to attach timestamps in podcasts’ descriptions as for easier reference? The reason I’m asking is that I want to keep up with lots of stuff, your podcasts, Dave Asprey’s ones and it’s neither physically possible nor efficient not being picky.

    Cheers!
    Szymon

    Like

  6. With Kevin’s discussion about workshop organization I found a video on youtube about Casey Neistat’s Wild Studio. CRAZY functional design. Quite the rabbit hole to go down. Gained a slew of ideas for how to create one look organization.

    Kevin Kelly is a fascinating guy with very little pretense. Enjoyed a ton.

    Like

  7. For upcoming guests can I suggest Lt. Col Dave Grossman. He wrote “On Killing” and “On Combat” and is utterly fascinating. He was just on The Art of Manliness podcast but I’m guessing you can get a lot more out of him especially regarding the research he’s done which has led to some fascinating conclusions about what happens to us during stress and combat.

    Like

  8. Tim,

    Id like to say Thank you! I am very grateful for your inspiration that has helped me get to an awesome place in my life.
    We spoke about 9 months ago at Marcelo Garcias academy in NYC and I asked you what you do in order to stay energized, focused and able to take on all these awesome projects. You told me you meditate 2x daily and take a nap everyday. I implemented those 2 things into my routine and my productivity skyrocketed.

    I have launched 2 new ventures since then and 1 is already automated at a really comfortable income and steadily growing! On my 4th listen of 4HWW right now as Im writing this blog comment.

    Thank you so much for inspiring me to keep reaching for greatness!

    Rome

    Like

    • Nice to hear from you, Rome! If I’ve helped in any small way, I’m honored. Keep on killing it, and hope to see you back on the mats. I need to up my game to head back to Marcelo’s place :)

      Pura vida,

      Tim

      Like

  9. Awesome podcast. Tim, the people you bring do really expand my horizons. Gracias from BA! When are you coming to zip mate with us? Please let us know.

    Like

  10. A few guests I would love to hear in your podcast:
    – Rolf Potts
    – Brian MacKenzie
    – Cristmas Abbott
    – Paul Ekman
    – Dave Grossman

    Like

  11. Great interview, Tim. I particularly appreciate the way you (and Kevin) remain nonjudgmental about people and ideas that are often ridiculed on social media and in the media in general – e.g. The Amish and Christian ideas. It’s all too easy to blindly label people – Christian, hippie, atheist and so on, and pull down the shutters just because they don’t think the way we do. And while we are on the subject of good books, you’ve probably read the book “The Necessity of Strangers”, by Alan Gregor. This book really emphasises the importance of listening to people who think differently.

    Like

    • I concur, Marcustanthony.

      Tim, listening to your podcast, like your books, often profoundly influences my thoughts for weeks or months afterward. This interview especially was one of my favorites. Timely right as I approach my birthday, the 6-month experiment was a great take-away I’m putting to heart.

      I wish I knew how to connect you to someone that has a Panart hang…I do have a friend near San Fran that has a halo after being on the waiting list for 3 years. Happy to connect you to him if you don’t know him already.

      Like

  12. Hi Tim,

    Probably the best podcast episode since the beginning !
    I listen to you 3 times a week when I go running.

    Your books / talks are my number one source of inspiration. Keep doing it, I’m addict ;)

    Thanks man !

    Like

  13. You Sir are a great internet content creator. This podcast is an awesome source of knowledge and has an impact on my vision of things and the world. Thanks for doing this.

    Guest suggestions: Tucker Max or Joe Rogan

    I don’t seem to be annoyed by discussions that are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It makes them less self-conscious and deeper in a sense.

    Like

  14. It would be good to hear from the other people who were at the Seth Roberts memorial (Nassim Taleb, Tuvker Max, etc.).

    You should also consider talking to Tucker outside of the podcast, since he set up a distribution deal with one of the big publishers, just like you’re trying to do.

    Like

  15. Damn, the man is awesome!
    Great interview Tim, your really cutting to the chase in the latest podcasts with unique questions and just about the right balance of input.
    Thank you for bringing Kevin’s great insights and experiences to my ears. He is remarkable.

    Like

  16. Kevin and Tim click well together causing this listener to get delightfully “hooked” on their free flowing river cruise of conversation through topics, concepts, and sidebars I believe I will not hear anywhere else. I particularly like the respect they accord to each other ensuring a receptive environment for engagement and follow-up. This is written after only two podcasts with Kevin. Way to go Tim. As you become a world class listener, I am inspired to be a notch better listener too. Stephen Q Shannon Delray Beach FL aka Village By The Sea

    Like

  17. Anybody want to talk about eugenics? Is it in full acceptance of a system that passes privilege by bloodline that this guy limits himself to suggesting that the priviledged reproduce? I think it’s horrifying if this has gone unnoticed.

    Like

  18. Re: the backwards-counting clock: there’s a sketch in the British Comedy series “The Armando Iannucci Show” in which a man is told by his doctor that he only has 33 years to live, and so quits his job and dedicates his life to only doing things he wants to do. The 4HWW in a nutshell…

    Like

  19. Great show as always, however I would have liked this series to be released either as on long episode, or have all three released at the same time. I know it is my personal preference but I also know you enjoy the feedback.

    And by the way, Kevin Kelly is interesting, but you Tim Ferriss are the Most Interesting Man in the World.

    Like

  20. I wonder if Scott Adams would be a good person to interview about hacking learning. He is trying to do a four-year MIT computer programming degree in one year. Plus he goes to Asia to learn the languages (plural) there.

    Plus he has a blog

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks for a great podcast as always. I got a bit curious however that you still have not interviewed a single woman. I was wondering about the reasons for this. Is it that there really are no women around that are interesting enough or willing to be interviewed (which would be kind of sad..) or is there some other reason? Would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.
    Thanks Petra

    Like

  22. The Kevin Kelly interview was simply fantastic in about a dozen ways.
    I have forwarded the email announcing it to 10 people already, with a recommendation that they give it a listen.

    Loved it, thanks. Keep up the good work.
    Lou Vascek
    Littleton, Colorado USA

    Like

  23. This was a great show, Tim. I’m loving the podcast interviews – you have access to some amazing people and I am truly appreciative. Your show has knocked out several others in my limited audio queue.
    Thanks also for your honesty in sharing about your search for meaning and the next step. Your openness and vulnerability brings a whole new side to the superhuman being we have been used to in your books. I would personally love you to do a book on neuroscience and the spiritual drug stuff you’ve been experimenting with – that’s fascinating and has a whole lotta meaning in there too. Please keep writing!
    I thought Kevin’s take on kids was interesting too – my husband and I have chosen not to have kids, for many reasons – and it’s a parallel life to our friends with kids. I totally agree with the shrinking population hypothesis, and it’s about education of women. As soon as you educate women, they have fewer children. And thankfully, more and more women are being educated around the world.
    Thanks again to you both for a great show.

    Like

  24. This podcast made it to my gratitude list. It is gold.

    Who you should interview next?

    Nev Schulman
    Hugh Jackman

    Or another Hollywood celebrity than Jackman but I heard you like him ;). Why? I have been pondering how award-winning actors and actresses are shaped by the total immersion in being famous. They get access to and are forced to work with experts on mental and physical levels in preparation for movies or to manage the hustle and bustle that comes with being a celebrity. It enables some of them to seemingly become the best version of themselves. I would love for you to look into this process!

    Keep going. You are doing amazingly great, Tim. :)

    Love, Viyan

    Like

  25. Hey Tim. Just want to say, you are definitely my idol. I look up to you in regards of so much. But besides that, I wanted to know if you could, maybe you could do a talk with Mike Dolce. I know he’s read your books and likes them too, he even mentions to his listeners once to get a copy for a good read. He’s a personal trainer for a lot of UFC fighters and others. Also, I was looking for a specific note in this Kevin Kelly podcast and clearly see it in the notes. just hard to find an exact time where to find it. I’m sure it’s more work for you and inconvenient but I’d be nice to see a time hack on each bullet or an actual answer to the note. But that’s just me being spoiled.

    Like

  26. Hey Tim,
    There is this big buzz going on about baobub fruit as a superfruit, and I just wanted to confide in you should I add this to my diet (i.e. cheat days)?
    Thanx
    I am glad there is so much great content on your site!

    Like

  27. This, damn it! I never did this, but have been feeling that I need to do this for a long time.

    “I just really recommend slack. I’m a big believer in this thing of kind of doing something that’s not productive. Productive is for your middle ages. When you’re young, you want to be prolific and make and do things, but you don’t want to measure them in terms of productivity. You want to measure them in terms of extreme performance, you want to measure them in extreme satisfaction.”

    Like

  28. Kia Ora Tim!
    Awesome podcast once again, so good to get to know Kevin Kelly via you – keep it up!

    Quick note: I would LOVE to see you experiment with Valproate and Perfect Pitch as you mention in the podcast, and find out the results.
    It seems like music is just about the only thing you can’t do… (bar the fantastic drum performance you gave onstage in TFX!) But definitely hit up the panart hang – you can’t go wrong with pentatonics and you’ll love it!

    Great work bro… Let me know!
    – Paul

    Like

  29. Tim, Could you please interview Dr. Sam Parnia? He’s an expert on emerging technologies in helping people resuscitate after death. This inadvertently leads to lots of NDE stories, which he’s careful not to make definitive statements on either way.

    Like

  30. Great show Tim, I really enjoy every episode!

    Here are some guests that would be cool to hear:
    – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    – Noah Kagan
    – Rolf Potts
    – Robert Greene
    – Ramit Sethi
    – AJ Jacobs
    – Richard Koch (Would love to hear you guys discuss the 80/20-principle in depth).

    Best Regards,
    Björn Blomgren

    Like

  31. Awesome podcast (both this episode and in general), keep ‘em coming! There’s a wee mistake in the book list above. The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide is written by James Fadiman, not Kevin Kelly. It’s a great resource. Also on that note, I hope you’ll elaborate on your recent experiences with plant medicines in a podcast or blog post if that’s something you feel comfortable doing.

    Like

  32. You have mentioned before that you are very interested in revolutionizing education, so I think a fantastic guest would Doug Lemov from Uncommon Schools. His ideas on education are groundbreaking and his schools are performing incredibly well.

    Like

  33. My favorite podcast yet. Kevin Kelly is such an insightful human being and him and Tim have a great rapport and banter with each other. The whole conversation from the value of wandering and living simply to why you don’t need a billion dollars to the Long Now foundation and the Amish…is refreshing.

    I’ve listened to Parts 1 and 2 twice already and now I discover there’s a part 3!

    Get it. Listen to it.

    Like

  34. Really great series of interviews. Kevin Kelly may actually be the most interesting man in the world.

    Very few people get to live the life they choose. I guess we all could but it takes a good bit of courage.

    Like

  35. Hey Tim, I just realized that this post comes with a transcript of the interview. Many thanks. Reading for me is easier, much faster and way more effective than listening. Besides, after a long day at work, I prefer the sound of quiet. Anything else is annoying. So, this is really great.

    I know getting an interview transcript prepared is time-consuming and not the most pleasant of tasks. And it costs you money. Much appreciate your spending the money to get this done.

    Like

  36. Thank you for amazing podcast Tim! Since I read Austin Kleon’s books (Steal like and Artist and Show your work, best books on creativity in my opinion) I’ve been looking for people to fill in “my genealogy tree”, my tribe, my true ancestry, people I feel inspired by and feel connected to and your blog has been a great resource for that! Every time I listen to another podcast, it’s like listening to a kindred soul! Thank you so much Tim! Don’t stop what you do!

    Like

  37. I only listened to the first audio file but I was impressed. I love the idea of being minimilistic. From a Christian perspective, the idea of whittling away all of our earthly possessions in order to build up Christ is an underlying foundation of Christianity. From a life perspective, it can simply be very freeing to not be a slave to our things or our jobs.

    Like

  38. Oh, Tim! what about Andy Puddicombe, the creator of Headspace, for an interview? I found out about this cool App due to you and now totally love it! It would be so interesting to find out more about Andy’s life

    Cheers and greetings from Zurich,
    Tatyana

    Like

  39. Incredible podcast Tim; that last part with the rapid fire questions was awesome. You are a great interviewer! Very excited to start reading Shantaram! Also, a brief note on North Korea – if you’re interested in a first person account of the situation there, check out “Escape from Camp 14″

    Thank you.

    Like

  40. Is anyone else puzzling over “That to be fully human we have to have a future” ? On the face of it, this statement does not fit with this bend in the path on my spiritual journey of non-duality and the only time that exists is now. Has anyone explored this further and care to share?

    Like

  41. [Pre-Hab chapter of 4 hour body]

    I have 2 questions about the 4 hour body pre hab section that I can’t seem to get answered anywhere. If Tim or someone else could clarify I would be really grateful.

    1. Do I do all 4 exercises each session? The guide at the top says it should take 30-45 minutes each session but doing the number of sets for all 4 exercises would take considerably more than that.

    2. It says to use a ratio of 2:5 sets for strong to weak sides but the c&l has quadrants, should I be doing 2 sets for each strong quadrant and five for the weak one?

    Like

  42. Episode 3 was EPIC! loved how Kevin said we should all learn how to build our own home, but then said we should hire people who are better than us to create for us as well ;) I may have to hire someone to build my dream home and learn how to build with that person. Thanks for all the useful recommendations and for sharing Kevin!

    Like

  43. I enjoyed these episodes, but I was confused by the population discussion. What was he talking about when he said the population gets smaller every year?? It’s pretty common knowledge that world population increases every year. Did he misspeak and mean to say that population GROWTH gets slower every year?

    Like

  44. Dear Tim, I really enjoyed the three part series with Kevin Kelly. You made a passing mention of being interested in indigenous medicine and spiritual practices. One thing I thought you might be interested in as a part of a spiritual journey is the practice of fasting in the wilderness.

    These people

    http://www.beyondthethreshold.net/

    are extremely experienced guides who take people out into the Australian desert for up to nine days, including 5 days fasting on your own. It has been for many people a life changing experience. I attended a fast 2 years ago and it launched me on the path I am on now.

    Closer to your home are these people

    http://schooloflostborders.org/term/adult-vision-fasts

    Who I do not know personally but they are the ones who trained my friends.

    Additionally, I would highly recommend that you investigate Australian Bush Medicine. This encompasses 40 thousand years of collected experience, a tiny amount of which has been appropriated by white culture, IE: Tea tree oil. I do know someone who has a fair amount of knowledge in this area in Western Australia, But I would not put his contact details up on a public forum. Feel free to get contact me if you are interested.

    Just to be clear I have no financial interest in any of these ventures.

    Regards

    Keith

    Like

  45. I thoroughly enjoyed all three parts and found it fascinating but now I’m faced with a dilemma that I don’t know the answer to.
    My son just started his senior year in high school and he’s never been much of a student. Some things are mildly interesting to him but the only thing he truly enjoys is playing basketball. While some kids know what they want to do, he really doesn’t have any fixed ideas on what his future might look like.
    I’m O-K with that–I was 22 when I started college.
    So, do I encourage him to start college and explore–or do I encourage him to go travel the world like Kevin Kelly did and become self-sufficient? My thought is that if he does go the college route, that he only takes classes he might have an interest in rather than the “required” classes.

    Like

  46. I thoroughly enjoyed Kevin’s wisdom. As young college graduate I could relate and learn so much from the book recommended by Kevin – The adventures of Johnny Bunko.

    Question : How do you improve your conversations? Do you improve it by writing or just by learning to ask better questions?

    Like