Nick Ganju on The Majesty of Ping Pong, Poker, and How to Write Hit Songs

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ping-pong

(Photo: Foxxyz)
“It turns out that writing Tetris on your calculator doesn’t actually win you the cheerleaders.”
-Nick Ganju 

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In this episode, I talk to my old friend Nick Ganju about ping pong, poker, hit songs, and tackling my most feared subject (oh, the suspense!).

He makes complex subjects seem simple, which is a rare gift.  Nick is one of the few people I consistently ask for advice when trying to acquire tough skills.

Nick is the founder and CTO of ZocDoc, which allows you to find doctors and immediately book appointments online. As CTO, he is responsible for overseeing all software development. It’s a huge job for one of the fastest-growing startups in the US (6+ million monthly users, $95M+ in funding raised to date), and he’s repeatedly proven himself to be a master teacher.

Enjoy!

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

This episode is also brought to you by ExOfficio, which I’ve personally used since 2005 or so. They make ultra-lightweight, quick drying, antimicrobial clothing for men and women. Here’s my own ultra-light packing list (scroll down for video), which went viral.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY:  Have you overcome subjects or skills you initially found super-intimidating? What was the key moment? Please share in the comments.

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here. It keeps me going…

Scroll below for links and show notes…

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Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • ZocDoc stats [6:34]
  • Rewinding the clock, comfort with computer science and global thermo-nuclear war [10:44]
  • What makes the University of Illinois a top computer science school [14:04]
  • “Coachablity” of computer languages and thoughts for those starting in computer science [16:14]
  • How to make it easier to develop high-level math and computer science skills [21:44]
  • Resources and books for optimizing your math/emotional intelligence skills [28:44]
  • Setting objective goals and how Monsters Inc. can help [30:14]
  • How to encourage measurable goal selection and tracking within your team [38:14]
  • Excel spreadsheets? [44:14]
  • Nick Ganju’s favorite movie [53:14]
  • Skill acquisition and the glory of ping pong [55:29]
  • How to practice ping pong when no one is around, plus the most common mistakes [1:02:44]
  • The daily rituals of Nick Ganju [1:05:44]
  • What it means to rid yourself of cognitive biases [1:06:29]
  • Cognitive Biases and how to price anchor like a god [1:11:14]
  • The Bill Gates-like life plan [1:16:04]
  • Rapid Fire Questions: Punchable, frequent plays, and how to get people hooked on music. [1:17:39]
  • Advice for the 20-year old Nick Ganju, or anyone seeking to rapidly develop business skills [1:25:14]
  • Choosing your fist gig or your next gig -> How to get started [1:27:14]

People Mentioned

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Margaret Cho on Comedy, Bisexuality, and The Slow-Carb Diet

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Margaret Cho on the Tim Ferriss Show

“My dog thought I was a singer… because dogs don’t understand standup comedy.”
-Margaret Cho [20:40]

[Housekeeping update: The demand for my $5K Holiday Megabox exceeded expectations, so I’m opening up a few more slots. First come, first served, and deadline is 11:59pm PT today, November 11, 2014. Click here for more details.]

Margaret Cho is a polymath.

She is an internationally acclaimed comic, actress, author, fashion designer and singer-songwriter. Perhaps you’ve seen her on the big screen, or in TV series such as Sex and the City and 30 Rock.

But well before she was on Dancing with the Stars (yes, she’s done that, too), she decided on her comedy career… at the tender age of eight.  The stage has been her constant companion ever since.

In this episode we delve into her comic influences and approaches, bisexuality, slow-carb adventures, and much more. Please indulge me as we dig deep into the lesser-known tricks of the Slow-Carb Diet. Margaret had a lot of detailed questions (she’s followed it for ~3 months), and the answers might help accelerate your own fat loss.  (If you want more, here are several case studies — with pics — who’ve lost 100+ pounds.)

Enjoy!

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

This episode is also brought to you by ExOfficio, which I’ve personally used since 2005 or so. They make ultra-lightweight, quick drying, antimicrobial clothing for men and women. Here’s my own ultra-light packing list (scroll down for video), which went viral.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What’s your favorite curse word — or phrase — and why? Please click here to let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Enjoy!

Who should I interview next? Please let me know on Twitter or in the comments.

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here. It keeps me going…

Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.
Non-iTunes RSS feed

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Explore Margaret Cho’s Writing:

I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight | I’m The One That I Want

Show Notes

  • What compels Margaret to perform stand-up comedy [3:30]
  • The early years of Margaret’s comedy career [4:50]
  • On the appeal of Joan Rivers and her immense gratitude [8:50]
  • Fearlessness and Margaret’s most fearful on-stage moments [11:30]
  • How to deal with hecklers [15:45]
  • Margaret’s inspirations [19:30]
  • Revealing intimate traits on stage and thoughts on female bisexuality [23:00]
  • The challenges of the isolated comedian lifestyle, and the potential for drug addiction [30:00]
  • Personality traits for those who gravitate towards stimulants vs. depressants [33:00]
  • The catalyzing moment when Margaret decided her prescription pill addiction needed to be fought [34:45]
  • Margaret Cho’s process for creating new material [40:30]
  • Why to hone an act (or product) internationally before bringing it to the USA – Note: Nike does this. [42:30]
  • “Successful” — who comes to mind? Does Margaret self-identify as successful? [48:00]
  • Clarifications on the Slow-Carb Diet and cheat day [50:30]
  • Hunger and human resilience [58:30]
  • Her death-row meal and why it’s changed since starting the SCD [1:10:30]
  • Margaret’s favorite curse word [1:11:45]
  • Stand-up pre-game rituals [1:13:45]
  • On Hollywood success and the types who aren’t tortured by it [1:16:10]
  • What attributes Dave Grohl exhibits, and why drummers tend to be positive people [1:17:30]

People Mentioned

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Rolf Potts on Travel Tactics, Creating Time Wealth, and Lateral Thinking

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rolf-potts-on-the-tim-ferriss-show1

“War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” - Rolf Potts

“If in doubt, just walk until your day becomes interesting.” - Rolf Potts

Rolf Potts is the author of Vagabonding (hear the audio book sample here), one of my favorite books of all-time.  It was one of just two books (the other was Walden) that I carried with me around the world from 2004-2005.  Those adventures led directly to The 4-Hour Workweek.

World travel doesn’t have to be a wealthy person’s sport. In this often hilarious conversation, Rolf and I dig deep into travel tactics, creating time wealth, “managing success,” and much more.  It’s a fun romp through every imaginable topic, from business to poetry, and from Wall Street to psychedelics.

Enjoy!


This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

This episode is also brought to you by ExOfficio, which I’ve personally used since 2005 or so. They make ultra-lightweight, quick drying, antimicrobial clothing for men and women. Here’s my own ultra-light packing list (scroll down for video), which went viral.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What are the most valuable lessons (or tricks) you’ve learned through travel? Please share your story in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes.

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here. It keeps me going…

Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.
Non-iTunes RSS feed

Selected Links from the Episode

Part I

Part II

Connect with Rolf Potts:

Show Notes

Part I

  • Converting travel fantasies into realities and the time-wealth principle [2:30]
  • Deconstructing and defining success, money, and freedom [12:00]
  • The time-strapped billionaire paradox [14:10]
  • Resources to fight the fears associated with world travel [25:09]
  • How new collaborative consumption technologies affect the long-term travel experience [29:00]
  • JP Morgan’s trip to Egypt, and what we can learn about business on the road [40:56]
  • Vacations and their effect on creative output [42:55]
  • When to leave the optimize-for-efficiency mindset behind [44:32]
  • Can you replicate travel benefits with a “staycation”? [51:37]
  • Exploring appreciation vs. achievement [54:08]
  • Rolf Potts’ writing process + “Swoopers” and “Bashers” [59:54]

Part II

  • The breakthrough for Potts in his writing: structure learned from screenwriting tomes [1:00]
  • Vagabonding and the therapeutic use of psychedelics [7:00]
  • The art of getting lost, and the benefits of getting lost [8:05]
  • What it’s like to teach writing in Paris, and who is a good fit for the class [16:15]
  • Thoughts on a mid-career Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) [22:13]
  • “Success management” and her champions: Dave Chapelle and John Hughes? [35:26]
  • Rapid-fire questions: Grizzly Man, Con Air, the love of poetry, and more [41:45]

People Mentioned

Part I

Part II

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The Unusual Books That Shaped Billionaires, Mega-Bestselling Authors, and Other Prodigies

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Tim books

Who are the mentors to billionaires, chess prodigies, rockstars, and mega-bestselling authors?  Who teaches them to do what they do? To achieve the success they achieve? Oftentimes…it’s books.

On The Tim Ferriss Show (iTunes, SoundCloud), I dissect world-class performers to find the tools and tricks you can use.  Here’s a full list of guests.  One of the questions I always ask is:

“What book have you gifted most often to others, and why?”  

Below is a list of answers from people like billionaire investor Peter Thiel, Tony Robbins, Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull, chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin, etc.. (And here are my own current answers, if you’re interested.)

You’ll see several books that appear more than once. Can you guess which they are?

The Ultimate To-Read Book List

Kevin Kelly is the founding editor of WIRED magazine, real-life Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man In The World.”

Favorite book(s):

Full Conversation:


Peter Thiel, billionaire investor (first outside investor in Facebook) and co-founder of PayPal, Palantir… Read More

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Andrew Zimmern on Simple Cooking Tricks, Developing TV, and Addiction

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The Tim Ferriss Show with Andrew Zimmern

“Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you.” – Andrew Zimmern


Andrew Zimmern is a world-class chef, television host and producer, writer, and — at the end of the day — teacher. You’ve probably seen his shows Bizarre Foods or Dining with Death. In 2010 and 2013 he was awarded the James Beard Foundation Award, which annually presents awards for excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary television.

But many people don’t know the earlier chapters in his life.  At one point, he was sleeping on the streets, stealing purses, and shooting heroin. In our interview, he shares all.  We delve into everything, including his culinary tricks, how he developed his hit TV show, his influences, key turning points in his life, beating addiction, and much more.

This is a powerful interview.

It’s full of tactics for anyone, and it has extra insights for all types of compulsive behavior (and, really, who doesn’t have at least one?).  I hope you enjoy it.

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

This episode is also brought to you by ExOfficio, which I’ve personally used since 2005 or so. They make ultra-lightweight, quick drying, antimicrobial clothing for men and women. Here’s my own ultra-light packing list (scroll down for video), which went viral.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Have you or anyone you know overcome addiction? If so, what was the tipping point, or what helped most? Please share in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Enjoy!

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here. It keeps me going…

Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.
Non-iTunes RSS feed

Selected Links from the Episode

Some Highlights with Time Stamps

  • What Andrew was inspired by, and who he modeled his show after [09:40]
  • Recommendations for those seeking to cultivate an on-air personality [11:50]
  • The three herbs or spices that Andrew Zimmern couldn’t live without [19:20]
  • The magic of citrus, building flavor contrasts, and how to provide robust flavors [21:20]
  • Tips for improving knife skills and cooking skills [27:45]
  • How to identify expert chefs [33:38]
  • The surprising story of his addiction-filled life [36:15]
  • The challenges of helping those suffering from alcoholism or other drug addiction [45:05]
  • The positive side of addiction, advice for overcoming it, and how to support others [50:20]

People Mentioned

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Is Beet Juice Really a Performance-Enhancing “Drug”? Digging In…

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(Photo: Foodthinkers)

The following is a guest post by Mark McClusky, the editor of Wired.com and founding editor of Wired Playbook. Previously, he was a reporter at Sports Illustrated and a member of the baseball analytics collective, Baseball Prospectus.

Can “juicing” for performance enhancement sometimes involve juice alone?  Beet juice, spinach, celery, or chard, perhaps?  In this post, we look at fact versus fiction, dosing, and results you can potentially replicate.

I’ve added some thoughts of my own in brackets. In other random news, I’m finally on Instagram! Here I am, and here is a pic of Tony Robbins palming my entire face.

Now, back to our piece…

Enter Mark

The latest craze in sports drinks for Olympic athletes isn’t something citrusy from one of the big sports labs. It’s not chocolate milk, which has been shown in study after study to be a great, low-cost drink for muscular recovery… Read More

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Maria Popova on Writing, Workflow, and Workarounds

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Maria Popova

“Why put in the effort to explain why it isn’t a fit, if they haven’t done the homework to determine if it is a fit?”
– Maria Popova [1:23:00]

Maria Popova has written for amazing outlets like The Atlantic and The New York Times, but I find her most amazing project to be BrainPickings.org.

Founded in 2006 as a weekly email to seven friends, BrainPickings now gets more than 5 million readers per month (!). I read very few blogs regularly, but BrainPickings is one of the few that makes the cut.  It’s a treasure trove.

BrainPickings is Maria’s one-woman labor of love — an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.  From Mark Twain to Oscar Wilde and everyone in between, Maria finds the hidden gems. She is also PROLIFIC and makes me look like a sloth.

In this in-depth conversation, we cover just about everything: how it happened, her workflow, how she writes (and workarounds to problems), how her site generates revenue, her workouts, and many more details. If you want to know the habits of a hyper-productive person, this episode is for you.

Stream with the player below:

If you can’t see the above, here are other ways to listen:

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

This episode is also brought to you by ExOfficio, which I’ve personally used since 2005 or so. They make ultra-lightweight, quick drying, antimicrobial clothing for men and women. Here’s my own ultra-light packing list (scroll down for video), which went viral.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received or read?  Please share in the comments!

Scroll below for links and show notes… Read More

127 Comments / Leave a comment or question