The Tim Ferriss Podcast is Live! Here Are Episodes 1 and 2

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Fuckin’ A–it’s finally here!

After fantasizing about starting a podcast for nearly two years, after being asked hundreds of times, The Tim Ferriss Show is now live.

Sometimes you have to stop over-thinking things, bite the bullet, and figure it out as you go.

To launch, I’ve posted two episodes that are vastly different.  They are available on iTunes and, for Android folks, Stitcher.

I have an important favor to ask, which I don’t do often:

1) Please listen to one or both episodes.
2) Then, PLEASE leave a review on iTunes.

I will read EVERY review and, based on that feedback, I’ll either stop or keep doing this podcast.

If you seem to like them, I promise to do at least 6 total episodes in the next 1-2 months.  And trust me: I have some amazing people lined up and ready to go. Constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement are welcome, whether on iTunes or in the comments below.

All that said, here are the first two episodes! I really hope you enjoy them.

EPISODE 1: KEVIN ROSE

I consider Kevin Rose one of the best “stock pickers” in the startup world. He can predict even non-tech trends with stunning accuracy.

Kevin is a tech entrepreneur who co-founded Digg, Revision3 (sold to Discovery Channel), Pownce, and Milk (sold to Google). Since 2012, he is a venture partner at Google Ventures. He’s also a hilarious dude, and this episode involves heavy drinking.

In this finding-my-feet episode, Kevin and I get down on a bottle of Gamling and McDuck while discussing, among dozens of topics: why Kevin would love to work at McDonald’s, how he kicked my ass on the Twitter deal, and — just a wee tad — biohacking.

Dive in, folks!

It’s the first episode of The Tim Ferriss Show!  Listen to it here, and please subscribe!

EPISODE 2: JOSH WAITZKIN

Josh Waitzkin was the basis for the book and movie Searching for Bobby Fischer.

Considered a chess prodigy, he has perfected learning strategies that can be applied to anything, including his other loves of Brazilian jiu-jitsu (he’s a black belt under phenom Marcelo Garcia) and Tai Chi Push Hands (he’s a world champion). These days, he spends his time coaching the world’s top performers, whether Mark Messier, Cal Ripken Jr., or hedgefund managers.  I initially met Josh through his incredible book, The Art of Learning, which I loved so much that I helped produce the audiobook (download here, at Audible or DRM-free Gumroad).

This episode is DEEP, in the best way possible.  Josh will blow your mind.

And for a change from Episode 1, I’m totally sober.  I’d be curious to know which Tim you prefer.

Listen to it here, and please subscribe!

Show Notes for Episodes 1 and 2

Special thanks to my friend Ian for helping with show notes. Much obliged, kind sir.

These notes only partially cover the conversations, but they will give you a taste.

EPISODE 1: KEVIN ROSE

  • What makes a good wine bar?
  • The story of Kevin Rose: Growing up in Vegas, starting Digg, joining Google Ventures, and beyond
  • What makes Kevin Rose so good at predicting what’s next, spotting trends
  • The characteristics of winners. What makes a successful angel investor?
  • Hear the story of Odeo – The company that birthed Twitter
  • Tips on choosing angel investments

“What new app will find itself on the front screen of your iPhone?”

  • Dissecting the success of Philip Rosedale, Elon Musk and — the “Oracle of Silicon Valley” — Reid Hoffman
  • How to say no to an investment or pitch
  • Experiences and lessons learned running the roller coaster of Digg
  • Where is Kevin Rose world-class?  Which skills define his success?
  • The M7 chip on iPhone – An opportunity to build new apps
  • Learn more about My Basis, a biometric company that Tim invested in [Update: sold to Intuit for $100M]
  • Why Kevin wants to get a job at McDonald’s
  • Ideas and suggestions for the podcast. Where should it go, and how should it be different?

SOME LINKS FROM EPISODE 1

Connect with Kevin Rose: Instagram | Twitter | Website

 

EPISODE 2: JOSH WAITZKIN

Show Notes:

  • The origins of The Art of Learning.
  • What it takes to play 30-50 games of chess simultaneously (!).
  • About Josh’s focus on moving from world-class to world champion. How to cross the gap between the two
  • The many dimensions of Josh Waitzkin’s creative life:
  1. Family
  2. JW Foundation – The Art of Learning Project
  3. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) school with Marcelo Garcia
  4. Consulting for “Master of the Universe”-type financiers; what commonalities the best have
  • About the learning (and UNlearning) processes that distinguish the good from the great and from the elite
  • Insights on the strategic movement from Tai Chi to BJJ
  • About the profound kinesthetic intelligence of Marcelo Garcia and how he uses it to “navigate the world”
  • A deep understanding of what makes world-class performers tick and thrive

“If you can really train people to get systematic about nurturing their creative process, it’s unbelievable what can happen. Most of that work relates to getting out of your own way at a very high level. It’s unlearning, it’s the constant practice of subtraction, reducing friction.” – Josh Waitzkin

  • Strategies for aligning peak energy periods with peak creativity to achieve a relentless, proactive lifestyle
  • On Hemingway’s creative writing process:
  1. End the workday with something left to write
  2. Release your mind from the work – Let Go
  • Understanding cognitive biases
  • Understanding how to use specific questions for deconstruction (e.g. “Who’s good at this who shouldn’t be?”)
  • Core themes/habits that Josh teaches to top performers:

Meditation | Journaling | “Undulation” (Capacity to turn drive on and off)

  • How Josh Waitzkin meditates
  • Meditation styles: contemplative Buddhist sitting meditation, Tai Chi and moving meditation.
  • What Josh’s morning rituals look like
  • Why you should study the artists rather than the art critics.
  • Remember to love.

“The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear and projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs.” – Cus D’Amato, original trainer of Mike Tyson

Links:

“One of the things we have to be wary in life is studying the people who study the artists, as opposed to the artists themselves” – Josh Waitzkin

The Waitzkin Library:

ListenOniTunesButton

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Are Saunas the Next Big Performance-Enhancing “Drug”?

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Preface by Editor

This post will explain how heat can be used to increase growth hormone, muscular hypertrophy, endurance, and otherwise aid performance.

It’s authored by Rhonda Perciavalle Patrick, Ph.D, and it’s comprehensive. But before we get started, you need to read some background and warnings…

Heat is no joke.

Ever since I was a premie, overheating and thermo-regulation have been my arch-enemies. On a few occasions, I’ve been hospitalized for heat stroke symptoms, and the symptoms hit suddenly and without warning. I’m extremely lucky I didn’t smash my skull on the ground after the collapses.

To delve into this handicap, I even became a test subject at Stanford University in 2005.

I underwent military-related heat marches to exhaustion, capturing data the entire time. Here are some choice pics.

It was as fun as it looks (I’ll share videos another time, as they’re hilarious):

After each session, I was so incapacitated that I couldn’t do any work for 8-12 hours. I often had to simply go home and sleep, even at 11am. These issues led me to eventually leave the study.

Heat is serious fucking business, m’kay?

People can die from excessive heat (sauna example here, recent running death here), so read these warnings carefully… Read More

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The Tim Ferriss Experiment Cometh! All 13 Episodes At Once, House of Cards-Style

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Let’s get this party started!

For months now, I’ve wanted show you all of my TV episodes.

Over the last year, the team at ZPZ (the production company behind Anthony Bourdain) and Turner Broadcasting have helped me capture incredible footage and characters all over the country. I’m thrilled with every episode.

Alas, for reasons I won’t bore you with, the TV broadcasting puzzle piece is taking ages to sort out. I’ve been fighting hard behind the scenes, and it’s been a sumnabitch process for an impatient Long Island boy (me).

The waiting has driven me absolutely insane. I’ve felt a lot like this:

But…no más waiting already!

Enough. While the entertainment folks are sussing out cable details, I’d like to give you everything — and I mean EVERYTHING — digitally.

Turner’s all for it. This world is a changin’, and distribution is changing with it.

ON MAY 27, ALL 13 EPISODES WILL BE RELEASED ON ITUNES SIMULTANEOUSLY.

In each episode, I team up with world-class teachers to “hack” a different skill….then I get thrown through a gauntlet of tests. Sometimes I do well, othertimes I face-plant and decimate myself. You get to see all the struggles, nervous breakdowns, and little breakthroughs. It ain’t always pretty, but it’s real.

Here are some of the topics I jump into:

  • Music and drumming
  • Rally car racing
  • Language learning
  • Brazilian jiu-jitsu (and chess) — ouch.
  • Parkour — super, double ouch.
  • High-stakes poker (with real money)
  • Tactical gun fighting
  • Dating and the pick-up game
  • Building a business in one week (I co-teach a student)
  • Golf
  • Long-distance swimming (I co-teach a student)
  • Surfing
  • And the mysterious finale episode…

And another thing…

One of the things that bugs me most about TV is that five days of shooting gets cut down to 30 minutes. In reality, it’s around 21:30 after subtracting commercials. Whaaaa?! “Isn’t that a waste?” you ask. Yes, it’s a maddening amount of great footage that ends up on the cutting room floor.

I want to give you more.

So…

If you’ve bought — or buy — an iTunes season pass (click “View in iTunes” here to purchase), more good news: you’ll get a ton of bonus footage. Current estimates are 10+ minutes of extras per episode, and I’m fighting to release much more footage into the wild, hopefully hours and hours.

If you can’t use iTunes or can’t afford to pay, here’s the solution: Each week after the May 27th launch, one episode will be released on YouTube for free viewing. It won’t contain bonus footage, and you’ll have to wait 3+ months to see the whole season, but you’ll be able to see them all.

If you’d like a sneak peek, the first episode can be watched here for free.

Much more coming soon, and thank you for your patience! It’s been a long road for everyone. Phew.

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12 Rules for Learning Foreign Languages in Record Time — The Only Post You’ll Ever Need

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Preface by Tim Ferriss

I’ve written about how I learned to speak, read, and write Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish. I’ve also covered my experiments with German, Indonesian, Arabic, Norwegian, Turkish, and perhaps a dozen others.

There are only few language learners who dazzle me, and Benny Lewis is one of them.

This definitive guest post by Benny will teach you:

  • How to speak your target language today.
  • How to reach fluency and exceed it within a few months.
  • How to pass yourself off as a native speaker.
  • And finally, how to tackle multiple languages to become a “polyglot”—all within a few years, perhaps as little as 1-2.

It contains TONS of amazing resources I never even knew existed, including the best free apps and websites for becoming fluent in record time. Want to find a native speaker to help you for $5 per hour? Free resources and memory tricks? It’s all here.

This is a post you all requested, so I hope you enjoy it!

Enter Benny

You are either born with the language-learning gene, or you aren’t. Luck of the draw, right?  At least, that’s what most people believe.

I think you can stack the deck in your favor. Years ago, I was a language learning dud. The worst in my German class in school, only able to speak English into my twenties, and even after six entire months living in Spain, I could barely muster up the courage to ask where the bathroom was in Spanish.

But this is about the point when I had an epiphany, changed my approach, and then succeeded not only in learning Spanish, but in getting a C2 (Mastery) diploma from the Instituto Cervantes, working as a professional translator in the language, and even being interviewed on the radio in Spanish to give travel tips. Since then, I moved on to other languages, and I can now speak more than a dozen languages to varying degrees between conversational and mastery.

It turns out, there is no language-learning gene, but there are tools and tricks for faster learning…

As a “polyglot”—someone who speaks multiple languages—my world has opened up. I have gained access to people and places that I never otherwise could have reached. I’ve made friends on a train in China through Mandarin, discussed politics with a desert dweller in Egyptian Arabic, discovered the wonders of deaf culture through ASL, invited the (female) president of Ireland to dance in Irish (Gaeilge) and talked about it on live Irish radio, interviewed Peruvian fabric makers about how they work in Quechua, interpreted between Hungarian and Portuguese at a social event… and well, had an extremely interesting decade traveling the world.

Such wonderful experiences are well within the reach of many of you.

Since you may be starting from a similar position to where I was (monolingual adult, checkered history with language learning, no idea where to start), I’m going to outline the tips that worked best for me as I went from zero to polyglot.

This very detailed post should give you everything you need to know.

So, let’s get started!

#1 – Learn the right words, the right way.

Starting a new language means learning new words. Lots of them.

Of course, many people cite a bad memory for learning new vocab, so they quit before even getting started.

But–here’s the key–you absolutely do not need to know all the words of a language to speak it (and in fact, you don’t know all the words of your mother tongue either).

As Tim pointed out in his own post on learning any language in 3 months, you can take advantage of the Pareto principle here, and realize that 20% of the effort you spend on acquiring new vocab could ultimately give you 80% comprehension in a language—for instance, in English just 300 words make up 65% of all written material. We use those words a lot, and that’s the case in every other language as well.

You can find pre-made flash card “decks” of these most frequent words (or words themed for a subject you are more likely to talk about) for studying on the Anki app (available for all computer platforms and smartphones) that you can download instantly. Good flashcard methods implement a spaced repetition system (SRS), which Anki automates. This means that rather than go through the same list of vocabulary in the same order every time, you see words at strategically spaced intervals, just before you would forget them.

Tim himself likes to use color-coded physical flashcards; some he purchases from Vis-Ed, others he makes himself. He showed me an example when I interviewed him about how he learns languages in the below video.

Though this entire video can give you great insight into Tim’s language learning approach, the part relevant to this point is at 27:40 (full transcript here).

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#2 – Learn cognates: your friend in every single language.

Believe it or not, you already—right now—have a huge head start in your target language. With language learning you always know at least some words before you ever begin. Starting a language “from scratch” is essentially impossible because of the vast amount of words you know already through cognates.

Cognates are “true friends” of words you recognize from your native language that mean the same thing in another language.

For instance, Romance languages like French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and others have many words in common with English. English initially “borrowed them” from the Norman conquest of England, which lasted several hundreds of years. Action, nation, precipitation, solution, frustration, tradition, communication, extinction, and thousands of other -tion words are spelled exactly the same in French, and you can quickly get used to the different pronunciation. Change that -tion to a -ción and you have the same words in Spanish. Italian is -zione and Portuguese is -ção.

Many languages also have words that share a common (Greek/Latin or other) root, which can be spelled slightly differently, but that you’d have to try hard not to recognize, such as exemple, hélicoptère (Fr), porto, capitano (Italian) astronomía, and Saturno (Spanish). German goes a step further and has many words from English’s past that it shares.

To find common words with the language you are learning, simply search for “[language name] cognates” or “[language name] English loan words” to see words they borrowed from us, and finally “[language name] words in English” to see words we borrowed from them.

That’s all well and good for European languages, but what about more distant ones?… Read More

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The Art of Learning: The Tool of Choice for Top Athletes, Traders, and Creatives

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This post is about the third book in the Tim Ferriss Book Club, which is limited to books that have dramatically impacted my life. Enjoy!

“I strongly recommend [The Art of Learning] for anyone who lives in a world of competition, whether it’s sports or business or anywhere else.”
- Mark Messier, 6-Time Stanley Cup Champion

“[This book] is a testimonial to the timeless principle of ‘do less and accomplish more.’ Highly recommended.”
- Deepak Chopra

“Josh provides tools that allow all of us to improve ourselves every day.”
- Cal Ripken, Jr., Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee

How do the best performers in the world become the best in the world?

The newest book in the Tim Ferriss Book Club provides the answers and blueprint: The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Joshua Waitzkin, the subject of Searching for Bobby Fischer. It’s been one of my constant companions since 2007, and I’m THRILLED to shine the spotlight on it.

  • Want to dominate sports? See the quotes from Cal Ripken, Jr. and Mark Messier above. There are many more.
  • Want to dominate business or finance? Many of the Forbes 100 work one-on-one with Josh. I personally know hedgefund managers, with $10-100 billion under management, who have The Art of Learning on their bedside tables.
  • Want to maximize creativity? Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, says “This is a really superb book, one I wish someone had given to me long ago… It will take a ferocious interruption to make you set this book down.”

Want to up your game, no matter the game? This book is your guide.

The Audible version of the audiobook can be found here.

This post includes several things, including:

  • A brief personal story about Josh
  • A sample chapter, both in audio and text
  • A video overview

But perhaps you’re in a rush. Want the book synopsis in one sentence? Here it is: Through stories of martial arts wars and tense chess face-offs, Waitzkin reveals the inner workings of his everyday methods, including systematically triggering breakthroughs, cultivating top-1% technique in any field, and mastering the art of performance psychology.

The Art of Learning encapsulates an extraordinary competitor’s life lessons into a page-turning narrative.

Download or stream the book here!

My Story with Josh — Love at First F-Bomb

I first met Josh Waitzkin at a coffee shop in Manhattan.

Having just read The Art of Learning, I was as giddy as a schoolgirl that he’d agreed to come. I don’t have many heroes, and he was one of them.

About 15 minutes into sipping coffee and getting acquainted, I realized that he dropped as many f-bombs as I did. He was no Rain Man, and I felt silly for half expecting him to be. 15 minutes turned into nearly three hours, and he’s since become one of my best friends.

If you’ve read the bestselling book Searching for Bobby Fischer (or seen the movie), then you know of Josh.

Wandering through Washington Square Park with his mom at age six, he became fascinated with the “blitz chess” that the street hustlers played at warp speed. He watched and absorbed. Then he begged his mom to let him give it a shot. Just once! Soon thereafter, dressed in OshKosh overalls, he was king of the hustlers.

Josh proceeded to dominate the world chess scene and become the only person to win the National Primary, Elementary, Junior High School, Senior High School, U.S. Cadet, and U.S. Junior Closed chess championships before the age of 16. He could easily play “simuls,” in which 20-50 chessboards were set up with opponents in a large banquet hall, requiring him to walk from table to table playing all of the games simultaneously in his head.

He was labeled a “prodigy” (more on this shortly).

But how did he really become so good?

Partially by breaking the rules. Bruce Pandolfini, Josh’s original chess teacher, started their first class by taking him in reverse. The board was empty, except for three pieces in an endgame scenario: king and pawn against king. Memorizing openings was forbidden at the start.

Learning chess in reverse?

Yes, and this is just one of the many accelerated learning techniques Josh has refined and perfected over the last 20 years.

Calling Josh a “chess prodigy” is a misnomer because Josh defies pigeonholing. He has a PROCESS for mastering skills — one you can use yourself — and he’s applied it to many fields, not just chess.

He tackled Tai Chi Chuan after leaving the chess world behind. 13 Push Hands National Championships and two World Championship titles later, he decided to train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Now, a few short years later, he’s a black belt under the Michael Jordan of BJJ, Marcelo Garcia.

As Josh has put it: “I’ve come to realize that what I am best at is not Tai Chi, and it is not chess. What I am best at is the art of learning.”

If you want to get the most out of life, you need to get his book.

You won’t regret it.

I’ll also be creating a message board so we can discuss this book and others.

Download or stream the book here!

Sample Chapter — The Introduction

[Below is just one of 20 chapters in The Art of Learning.  Audio is embedded first, followed by text for the same chapter.]

Finals: Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands World Championships
Hsinchuang Stadium, Taipei, Taiwan December 5, 2004

Forty seconds before round two, and I’m lying on my back trying to breathe.

Pain all through me. Deep breath. Let it go. I won’t be able to lift my shoulder tomorrow, it won’t heal for over a year, but now it pulses, alive, and I feel the air vibrating around me, the stadium shaking with chants, in Mandarin, not for me.

My teammates are kneeling above me, looking worried. They rub my arms, my shoulders, my legs. The bell rings. I hear my dad’s voice in the stands, ‘C’mon Josh!’ Gotta get up. I watch my opponent run to the center of the ring. He screams, pounds his chest. The fans explode. They call him Buffalo. Bigger than me, stronger, quick as a cat. But I can take him — if I make it to the middle of the ring without falling over. I have to dig deep, bring it up from somewhere right now. Our wrists touch, the bell rings, and he hits me like a Mack truck.

Who could have guessed it would come to this? Just a few years earlier I had been competing around the world in elite chess tournaments. Since I was eight years old, I had consistently been the highest rated player for my age in the United States, and my life was dominated by competitions and training regimens designed to bring me into peak form for the next national or world championship. I had spent the years between ages fifteen and eighteen in the maelstrom of American media following the release of the film Searching for Bobby Fischer, which was based on my dad’s book about my early chess life. I was known as America’s great young chess player and was told that it was my destiny to follow in the footsteps of immortals like Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov, to be world champion.

But there were problems. After the movie came out I couldn’t go to a tournament without being surrounded by fans asking for autographs. Instead of focusing on chess positions, I was pulled into the image of myself as a celebrity. Since childhood I had treasured the sublime study of chess, the swim through ever-deepening layers of complexity. I could spend hours at a chessboard and stand up from the experience on fire with insight about chess, basketball, the ocean, psychology, love, art. The game was exhilarating and also spiritually calming. It centered me. Chess was my friend. Then, suddenly, the game became alien and disquieting.

I recall one tournament in Las Vegas: I was a young International Master in a field of a thousand competitors including twenty-six strong Grandmasters from around the world. As an up-and-coming player, I had huge respect for the great sages around me. I had studied their masterpieces for hundreds of hours and was awed by the artistry of these men. Before first-round play began I was seated at my board, deep in thought about my opening preparation, when the public address system announced that the subject of Searching for Bobby Fischer was at the event. A tournament director placed a poster of the movie next to my table, and immediately a sea of fans surged around the ropes separating the top boards from the audience. As the games progressed, when I rose to clear my mind young girls gave me their phone numbers and asked me to autograph their stomachs or legs.

This might sound like a dream for a seventeen-year-old boy, and I won’t deny enjoying the attention, but professionally it was a nightmare. My game began to unravel. I caught myself thinking about how I looked thinking instead of losing myself in thought. The Grandmasters, my elders, were ignored and scowled at me. Some of them treated me like a pariah. I had won eight national championships and had more fans, public support and recognition than I could dream of, but none of this was helping my search for excellence, let alone for happiness.

At a young age I came to know that there is something profoundly hollow about the nature of fame. I had spent my life devoted to artistic growth and was used to the sweaty-palmed sense of contentment one gets after many hours of intense reflection. This peaceful feeling had nothing to do with external adulation, and I yearned for a return to that innocent, fertile time. I missed just being a student of the game, but there was no escaping the spotlight. I found myself dreading chess, miserable before leaving for tournaments. I played without inspiration and was invited to appear on television shows. I smiled.

Then when I was eighteen years old I stumbled upon a little book called the Tao Te Ching, and my life took a turn. I was moved by the book’s natural wisdom and I started delving into other Buddhist and Taoist philosophical texts. I recognized that being at the pinnacle in other people’s eyes had nothing to do with quality of life, and I was drawn to the potential for inner tranquility.

On October 5, 1998, I walked into William C. C. Chen’s Tai Chi Chuan studio in downtown Manhattan and found myself surrounded by peacefully concentrating men and women floating through a choreographed set of movements. I was used to driven chess players cultivating tunnel vision in order to win the big game, but now the focus was on bodily awareness, as if there were some inner bliss that resulted from mindfully moving slowly in strange ways.

I began taking classes and after a few weeks I found myself practicing the meditative movements for hours at home. Given the complicated nature of my chess life, it was beautifully liberating to be learning in an environment in which I was simply one of the beginners — and something felt right about this art. I was amazed by the way my body pulsed with life when flowing through the ancient steps, as if I were tapping into a primal alignment.

My teacher, the world-renowned Grandmaster William C.C. Chen, spent months with me in beginner classes, patiently correcting my movements. In a room with fifteen new students, Chen would look into my eyes from twenty feet away, quietly assume my posture, and relax his elbow a half inch one way or another. I would follow his subtle instruction and suddenly my hand would come alive with throbbing energy as if he had plugged me into a soothing electrical current. His insight into body mechanics seemed magical, but perhaps equally impressive was Chen’s humility. Here was a man thought by many to be the greatest living Tai Chi Master in the world, and he patiently taught first-day novices with the same loving attention he gave his senior students.

I learned quickly, and became fascinated with the growth that I was experiencing. Since I was twelve years old I had kept journals of my chess study, making psychological observations along the way — now I was doing the same with Tai Chi.

After about six months of refining my form (the choreographed movements that are the heart of Tai Chi Chuan), Master Chen invited me to join the Push Hands class. This was very exciting, my baby steps toward the martial side of the art. In my first session, my teacher and I stood facing each other, each of us with our right leg forward and the backs of our right wrists touching. He told me to push into him, but when I did he wasn’t there anymore. I felt sucked forward, as if by a vacuum. I stumbled and scratched my head. Next, he gently pushed into me and I tried to get out of the way but didn’t know where to go. Finally I fell back on old instincts, tried to resist the incoming force, and with barely any contact Chen sent me flying into the air.

Over time, Master Chen taught me the body mechanics of nonresistance. As my training became more vigorous, I learned to dissolve away from attacks while staying rooted to the ground. I found myself calculating less and feeling more, and as I internalized the physical techniques all the little movements of the Tai Chi meditative form started to come alive to me in Push Hands practice. I remember one time, in the middle of a sparring session I sensed a hole in my partner’s structure and suddenly he seemed to leap away from me. He looked shocked and told me that he had been pushed away, but he hadn’t noticed any explosive movement on my part. I had no idea what to make of this, but slowly I began to realize the martial power of my living room meditation sessions. After thousands of slow-motion, ever-refined repetitions of certain movements, my body could become that shape instinctively. Somehow in Tai Chi the mind needed little physical action to have great physical effect.

This type of learning experience was familiar to me from chess. My whole life I had studied techniques, principles, and theory until they were integrated into the unconscious. From the outside Tai Chi and chess couldn’t be more different, but they began to converge in my mind. I started to translate my chess ideas into Tai Chi language, as if the two arts were linked by an essential connecting ground. Every day I noticed more and more similarities, until I began to feel as if I were studying chess when I was studying Tai Chi. Once I was giving a forty-board simultaneous chess exhibition in Memphis and I realized halfway through that I had been playing all the games as Tai Chi. I wasn’t calculating with chess notation or thinking about opening variations…I was feeling flow, filling space left behind, riding waves like I do at sea or in martial arts. This was wild! I was winning chess games without playing chess.

Similarly, I would be in a Push Hands competition and time would seem to slow down enough to allow me to methodically take apart my opponent’s structure and uncover his vulnerability, as in a chess game. My fascination with consciousness, study of chess and Tai Chi, love for literature and the ocean, for meditation and philosophy, all coalesced around the theme of tapping into the mind’s potential via complete immersion into one and all activities. My growth became defined by barrierlessness. Pure concentration didn’t allow thoughts or false constructions to impede my awareness, and I observed clear connections between different life experiences through the common mode of consciousness by which they were perceived.

As I cultivated openness to these connections, my life became flooded with intense learning experiences. I remember sitting on a Bermuda cliff one stormy afternoon, watching waves pound into the rocks. I was focused on the water trickling back out to sea and suddenly knew the answer to a chess problem I had been wrestling with for weeks. Another time, after completely immersing myself in the analysis of a chess position for eight hours, I had a breakthrough in my Tai Chi and successfully tested it in class that night. Great literature inspired chess growth, shooting jump shots on a New York City blacktop gave me insight about fluidity that applied to Tai Chi, becoming at peace holding my breath seventy feet underwater as a free-diver helped me in the time pressure of world championship chess or martial arts competitions. Training in the ability to quickly lower my heart rate after intense physical strain helped me recover between periods of exhausting concentration in chess tournaments. After several years of cloudiness, I was flying free, devouring information, completely in love with learning.

***

Before I began to conceive of this book, I was content to understand my growth in the martial arts in a very abstract manner. I related to my experience with language like parallel learning and translation of level. I felt as though I had transferred the essence of my chess understanding into my Tai Chi practice. But this didn’t make much sense, especially outside of my own head. What does essence really mean anyway? And how does one transfer it from a mental to a physical discipline?

These questions became the central preoccupation in my life after I won my first Push Hands National Championship in November 2000. At the time I was studying philosophy at Columbia University and was especially drawn to Asian thought. I discovered some interesting foundations for my experience in ancient Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, and Greek texts — Upanishadic essence, Taoist receptivity, Neo-Confucian principle, Buddhist nonduality, and the Platonic forms all seemed to be a bizarre cross-cultural trace of what I was searching for. Whenever I had an idea, I would test it against some brilliant professor who usually disagreed with my conclusions. Academic minds tend to be impatient with abstract language — when I spoke about intuition, one philosophy professor rolled her eyes and told me the term had no meaning. The need for precision forced me to think about these ideas more concretely. I had to come to a deeper sense of concepts like essence, quality, principle, intuition, and wisdom in order to understand my own experience, let alone have any chance of communicating it.

As I struggled for a more precise grasp of my own learning process, I was forced to retrace my steps and remember what had been internalized and forgotten. In both my chess and martial arts lives, there is a method of study that has been critical to my growth. I sometimes refer to it as the study of numbers to leave numbers, or form to leave form. A basic example of this process, which applies to any discipline, can easily be illustrated through chess: A chess student must initially become immersed in the fundamentals in order to have any potential to reach a high level of skill. He or she will learn the principles of endgame, middlegame, and opening play. Initially one or two critical themes will be considered at once, but over time the intuition learns to integrate more and more principles into a sense of flow. Eventually the foundation is so deeply internalized that it is no longer consciously considered, but is lived. This process continuously cycles along as deeper layers of the art are soaked in.

Very strong chess players will rarely speak of the fundamentals, but these beacons are the building blocks of their mastery. Similarly, a great pianist or violinist does not think about individual notes, but hits them all perfectly in a virtuoso performance. In fact, thinking about a “C” while playing Beethoven’s 5th Symphony could be a real hitch because the flow might be lost. The problem is that if you want to write an instructional chess book for beginners, you have to dig up all the stuff that is buried in your unconscious — I had this issue when I wrote my first book, Attacking Chess. In order to write for beginners, I had to break down my chess knowledge incrementally, whereas for years I had been cultivating a seamless integration of the critical information.

The same pattern can be seen when the art of learning is analyzed: themes can be internalized, lived by, and forgotten. I figured out how to learn efficiently in the brutally competitive world of chess, where a moment without growth spells a front-row seat to rivals mercilessly passing you by. Then I intuitively applied my hard-earned lessons to the martial arts. I avoided the pitfalls and tempting divergences that a learner is confronted with, but I didn’t really think about them because the road map was deep inside me — just like the chess principles.

Since I decided to write this book, I have analyzed myself, taken my knowledge apart, and rigorously investigated my own experience. Speaking to corporate and academic audiences about my learning experience has also challenged me to make my ideas more accessible. Whenever there was a concept or learning technique that I related to in a manner too abstract to convey, I forced myself to break it down into the incremental steps with which I got there. Over time I began to see the principles that have been silently guiding me, and a systematic methodology of learning emerged.

My chess life began in Washington Square Park in New York’s Greenwich Village, and took me on a sixteen-year-roller-coaster ride, through world championships in America, Romania, Germany, Hungary, Brazil, and India, through every kind of heartache and ecstasy a competitor can imagine. In recent years, my Tai Chi life has become a dance of meditation and intense martial competition, of pure growth and the observation, testing, and exploration of that learning process. I have currently won thirteen Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands National Championship titles, placed third in the 2002 World Championship in Taiwan, and in 2004 I won the Chung Hwa Cup International in Taiwan, the World Championship of Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands.

A lifetime of competition has not cooled my ardor to win, but I have grown to love the study and training above all else. After so many years of big games, performing under pressure has become a way of life. Presence under fire hardly feels different from the presence I feel sitting at my computer, typing these sentences. What I have realized is that what I am best at is not Tai Chi, and it is not chess — what I am best at is the art of learning.

This book is the story of my method.

Video Overview

Below is a short video overview of The Art of Learning. Don’t miss the hilarious outtakes starting around 4:45:

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Download or stream the entire book here!

Alternatively, the Audible version of the audiobook can be found here, but the author earns lower royalties than purchases through the link above.

QOD: If you’ve met or studied any world-class performers, what did you learn from them? What lessons have you learned from observing the greats? Please share in the comments!

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My Latest Obsessions: Voodoo Floss, Pu-Erh Tea, Electronic Gypsy Music, and More

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One video letter from my quarterly mailings.

Every three months, I ship out a box of wonderful physical products, along with a video “letter” explaining how I found them and how I use them.

One such video letter is above.

The theme of these quarterly mailings is obsession–the ideas and objects I can’t get out of my head.

Obsessions enter my life from odd places.  Currently, my gadgets and gear recommendations are coming from Cirque du Soleil performers, chess prodigies, Fortune 500 CEOs, and military snipers.  It’s the randomness that makes it fun.

More than 1,500 people subscribe to these boxes through Quarterly.co. They are making 130 more slots available for my next shipment, which is going to be killer. You can subscribe here. If you miss TIM05, you’ll be first in line for TIM06.

Below, I describe the goodies from the last two boxes, so you can explore them a la carte.

Enjoy! Read More

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How to Cure Anxiety — One Workaholic’s Story, Six Techniques That Work

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Charlie Hoehn was a full-time employee of mine during the making and launch of The 4-Hour Body. It was an intense period.

In this post, Charlie will share his M.E.D. (Minimum Effective Dose) for overcoming anxiety and managing workaholism. There are six techniques in total.

If you haven’t already, be sure to read his previous post on preventing burnout.

Enter Charlie

Do you feel a constant sense of dread? Do you have trouble breathing, relaxing, and sleeping? Do you worry that you’re losing control, or that you’re going to die?

In other words: are you trapped in your own personal hell?

I’ve been there (here’s the backstory), and I know what it’s like. Shallow breathing, tension in the gut, chest pains, rapid heartbeat… Every moment is exhausting, crushing, and painful. Anxiety destroys your confidence, your productivity, your relationships, and your ability to enjoy life.

For a long time, I thought I was going crazy. I was convinced that something horribly wrong was about to happen. I tired and afraid all the time, and I didn’t know how to shake it. One half of me pretended to be normal while the other half tried to keep it together.

I tried everything: meditation, yoga, high-intensity workouts, long runs, therapy, therapy books, keeping a journal, super clean diets, extended fasting, drugs, deep breathing exercises, prayer, etc. I even took a six-week course, made specifically for men who wanted to overcome anxiety.

What I discovered is that the most effective “cures” for anxiety are often free, painless, and fun. When I was doing the six techniques I cover in this post on a daily basis, I was able to get back to my normal self in less than one month

It’s my sincerest hope that this post helps you eliminate your anxiety, once and for all. Surprisingly, it’s not as hard as you think… Read More

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Preventing Burnout: A Cautionary Tale

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My first in-person meeting with Charlie Hoehn. Zion National Park, 2009.

Charlie Hoehn first reached out to me in 2008 through Ramit Sethi.

Shortly thereafter, I hired him as a part-time intern. Eventually, he became a full-time employee.

For three years, we worked together on a number of projects, most notably the The 4-Hour Body and the Opening the Kimono event. Charlie’s responsibilities ranged from “professional” tasks (planning VIP parties, assembling scandalous guest posts, coordinating logistics for 15,000 orders during the Land Rush campaign, etc.) to productive tomfoolery (epic grocery shopping spreesediting vajayjay photos, photographing giraffe make outs, persuading me to swallow 25 pills at once).

It was one hell of a ride.  We had a lot of fun, and we had some huge successes.

From day one, Charlie expressed a constant desire to become a hyper-efficient and effective entrepreneur. His role expanded as he requested more responsibilities (“What else can I do to help?” he’d ask me repeatedly), and we often found ourselves juggling several projects at once.

Most of the time, we handled it well. And as Charlie’s comfort zone stretched, his confidence increased, his communication and abilities improved, and our day-to-day operations were generally strife-free. We worked well together.

Then — in the middle of making The 4-Hour Chef – he suddenly quit.   It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Finding work-life balance (or work-life “separation,” as I prefer) in a connected world is challenging.  Speaking personally, I’m either 100% ON (for book launches, creative deadlines, etc.) or 100% OFF (such as my recent excursion to Bali). This ability to hit the shut-off switch helps me remain sane, separate work from pleasure, and it usually prevents me from burning out.

In this post, Charlie will share his story: what it was like to work with me for three years, and what led up to his burnout.

For all Type-A driven readers — especially those who struggle with the shut-off switch — this one is for you… Read More

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Win the Laptops I Used to Write The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body…and More (EFF Benefit)

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(Photo: Aaron Benitez)

Would you like to win one of four laptops (and a dozen other items) that I used to write three bestselling books?

Given that a galley of The 4-Hour Workweek once sold on eBay for $2,600, these could end up being collector’s items.  Stranger things have happened.

This post details how to get them.

All funds raised will go to the EFF. More on this important organization later… Read More

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The Random Show, Episode 23 — New Year’s Resolutions, Firearms, Start-up Finds, Zelda, and Obscene Thoughts on Grey Hairs

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There are dozens of topics covered in this wine-infused, bromantic episode of scatterbrained nonsense.

Like what? Well, plans for 2014, firearms, tech finds and start-up talk, the goodness of Zelda, favorite recent books, and much more. O-tanoshimi dane!

One special offer:
If you sign up as one of the first 100 beta testers for Shyp (click here) and ship anything — I suggest a book for a friend or family member — you’ll get the following:

  • A $10 credit
  • A free copy of The 4-Hour Workweek, signed by yours truly!  Limited to first 100 to ship.

This edition of The Random Show was recorded and edited by Graham Hancock (@grahamhancock). For all previous episodes, including the epic China Scam episode, click here.

Special thanks to reader Jonathan Hsieh of ClickPlayCEU for the show notes below, which include links to almost everything we mention… Read More

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