General Stan McChrystal on Anti-War Americans, Pushing Your Limits, and The Three Military Tests You Should Take

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QnA with Stanley McChrystal on the Tim Ferriss Show

MAZAR-E-SHARIFF, Afghanistan (March 15, 2010)–U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, works on board a Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft between Battlefield Circulation missions. (NATO photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O’Donald/Released)

“Push yourself harder than you think you’re capable of. You’ll find new depth inside yourself.”
– Stanley McChrystal

Stanley McChrystal (@stanmcchrystal) retired from the U.S. Army as a four-star general after more than 34 years of service. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates described McChrystal as “perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat I ever met.”

From 2003 to 2008, McChrystal served as Commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), where he was credited with the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The follow-up questions are really fun. In this particular episode, he answers questions such as:

  • If he could put a billboard anywhere and write anything on it, where would it be and what would it say?
  • What are three tests/practices from the military that civilians could use to help develop mental toughness?
  • What are his favorite documentaries or movies? Why?
  • What $100 or less purchase has most positively impacted his life in the last twelve months and why?

These are a bunch of questions from you guys! Thank you for submitting your questions and requesting for this follow-up segment. Still want more? Please feel free to learn more about the McChrystal Group at their website.

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Want to hear my interview with Stanley McChrystal and his former aid du camp, Chris Fussell? — You can listen to our two-hour-long conversation  and see the show notes here. In this episode, we discuss eating one meal per day, special ops, and mental toughness (stream below or right-click here to download):


This episode is brought to you by Audible which I have used for years. I love audiobooks. I have two to recommend right off the bat:

  1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – Perhaps my favorite audiobook of all time.
  2. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts – This book had a huge impact on my life and formed the basis for a lot of what has become The 4-Hour Workweek

To get your free audiobook and a free 30-day trial, go to Audible.com/Tim. You can choose from the two audiobooks listed above or from 180,000+ audio programs. They offer audiobooks, magazines, newspapers and even classes. It’s that easy. Go to Audible.com/Tim and grab your free audiobook.

It’s that easy. Enjoy!

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What is your perception of U.S. military team efficiency? How about U.S. military team effectiveness? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Enjoy!

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • What are 3 tests or practices from the military that civilians can use to help develop mental toughness? [3:04]
  • What is the greatest attribute of an excellent soldier that you wish all politicians had? [3:50]
  • What was your biggest frustration with being in the military? What is your biggest frustration being out of the military? [4:22]
  • What is the Find, Fix, Finish, Exploit, and Analyze (F3EA) methodology? How did your approach change over time? [5:10]
  • What can low to mid-level management do to encourage a more decentralized, agile, and flexible work environment? [8:45]
  • What is one thing you want average Americans, particularly anti-war Americans, to understand regarding wars and conflicts you’ve been involved in or about the military in general? [8:35]
  • What is something that you see in military movies, or movies involving the military that drives you crazy? [10:20]
  • What filters can the public use to sift through the noise of news to a feel for the real truth being the stories? [10:45]
  • What $100 or less purchase has most positively impacted your life in the last 6 months? [11:45]
  • What is one of your favorite documentaries or movies and why? [12:25]
  • If you could put a billboard anywhere and write anything on it, one billboard, where would it be and what would it say? [13:40]
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Sam Harris on Daily Routines, The Trolley Scenario, and 5 Books Everyone Should Read

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The Tim Ferriss Show with Sam Harris

Sam Harris (Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson)

“On one level, wisdom is nothing more than the ability to take your own advice.”
– Sam Harris

This is Sam Harris’s second appearance on the show. Sam is a neuroscience Ph.D. and the author of the bestselling books, The End of Faith, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Lying, and Waking Up. His work has been discussed in The New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, NewsweekRolling Stone, and many other journals.

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Want to hear my previous interview with Sam Harris? — In this episode, we discuss spirituality, neuroscience, meditation, and more (stream below or right-click here to download):



This podcast is also brought to you by LegalZoom. Matt Mullenweg (CEO of Automattic – now worth more than a billion dollars) first incorporated his company on LegalZoom. LegalZoom, which I’ve used myself, can help you with almost anything legal, including setting up a will, doing a proper trademark search, forming an LLC, setting up a non-profit, or finding simple cease-and-desist letter templates. LegalZoom is not a law firm, but they do have a network of independent attorneys available in most states. They can give you advice on the best way to get started, provide contract review, and otherwise help you run your business. Use the code “Tim” at checkout to get $10 off your next order. Take a gander at everything you can get for a fraction of what you’d expect — LegalZoom.com

This podcast is brought to you by MeUndiesHave you ever wanted to be as powerful as a mullet-wearing ninja from the 1980’s, or as sleek as a black panther in the Amazon? Of course you have, and that’s where MeUndies comes in. I’ve spent the last 2-3 weeks wearing underwear from these guys 24/7, and they are the most comfortable and colorful underwear I’ve ever owned. Their materials are 2x softer than cotton, as evaluated using the Kawabata method. Check out MeUndies.com/Tim to see my current faves (some are awesomely ridiculous) and, while you’re at it, don’t miss lots of hot ladies wearing MeUndies.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your biggest takeaway from this session? How has your thinking changed? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Enjoy!

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • What are five books you think everyone should read? [6:53]
  • In The End of Faith, you briefly discuss the challenging reality of having children. Why did you decide to have children? [18:58]
  • Why have you stopped doing public debates? Who would you like to debate? [23:18]
  • Could you talk about one of your differences with Christopher Hitchens on? Specifically, his pro-life stance. [29:03]
  • What fact/event has made you change your mind recently? [32:53]
  • What are Sam Harris’s morning rituals? I would especially like to know his meditation rituals. [36:03]
  • If you had to recommend one thing for brain health outside meditation or exercise, what would that be? [46:18]
  • Your first book, The End of Faith, featured a blistering attack on religious moderates. Now you strive to encourage religious moderation in the Islamic world. Have you changed your mind on religious moderation? [49:48]
  • Would you push the fat man in the trolley scenario? Do you think a society could occupy a peak on the moral landscape if it’s inhabitants would all push the fat man? [55:28]

People Mentioned

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General Stan McChrystal on Eating One Meal Per Day, Special Ops, and Mental Toughness

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Chris Fussell and Stan McChrystal on the Tim Ferriss Show

General Stan McChrystal (Photo credit: David E. Alvarado, ISAF Public Affairs)

Stanley McChrystal (@stanmcchrystal)  retired from the U.S. Army as a four-star general after more than 34 years of service. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates described McChrystal as “perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat I ever met.”

From 2003 to 2008, McChrystal served as Commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), where he was credited with the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

His last assignment was as the commander of all American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. He is a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the co-founder of CrossLead, a leadership consulting firm.

In this episode, we discuss everything imaginable, including:

– Why he only eats one meal per day, and what he eats
– His exact exercise regimen
– Tactical and psychological lessons of combat
– Self-talk used before and after difficult missions
– The development of mental toughness
– Favorite books, documentaries, etc.
– And much, much more

Chris Fussell (@FussellChris), who also joins the conversation, is a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, former Aide-de-Camp for General McChrystal, and a current senior executive at CrossLead.

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Want to hear a podcast related to personal security in the digital age? — Listen to my conversation with Marc Goodman, a former FBI futurist focused on defeating high-tech crime. Learn how not to be an easy target — stream below or right-click here to download:

Also, don’t miss my interview with hacker Samy Kamkar. — Listen to our conversation on conquering online dating, opening locked cars, and his story of accidentally taking down MySpace with the fastest-growing “worm” of all time (stream below or right-click here to download):


This episode is sponsored by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is, inevitably, Athletic Greens. It is my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in the The 4-Hour Body and did not get paid to do so.  Get 50% off your order at Athletic Greens.com/Tim

This podcast is also 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.  Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade.  Give it a test run..

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY:  In your opinion, what makes a good leader, and who exemplifies those qualities? Please share in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes… Read More

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Whitney Cummings on Turning Pain Into Creativity

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“In order for art to imitate life, you have to have a life.”
– Whitney Cummings

“I promise: if you just tell the truth and get your heart broken as a comedian, you will have a house.”
– Whitney Cummings

This episode how to turn pain and struggle into amazing creative projects.

Whitney Cummings (@whitneycummings) is a Los Angeles-based comedian, actor, writer and producer.

She is executive producer and, along with Michael Patrick King, co-creator of the Emmy nominated CBS comedy 2 Broke Girls, which was recently picked up for a fifth season.

Whitney also wrote, produced and starred in Whitney, which aired on NBC from 2011 to 2013.

She has headlined with comics including Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K., Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari, and others.

Her first one-hour stand up special, Money Shot, premiered on Comedy Central in 2010 and was nominated for an American Comedy Award. Her second stand-up special, Whitney Cummings: I Love You, debuted on Comedy Central in 2014 and she is shooting a third hour for HBO this August, which is set to air in 2016.

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Want to hear another podcast with a world-class comedian? — Listen to my conversation with Bryan Callen. In it, we discuss eating corgis (yes, the dogs) and improving creativity (stream below or right-click here to download):


This podcast is brought to you by MeUndiesHave you ever wanted to be as powerful as a mullet-wearing ninja from the 1980’s, or as sleek as a black panther in the Amazon? Of course you have, and that’s where MeUndies comes in. I’ve spent the last 2-3 weeks wearing underwear from these guys 24/7, and they are the most comfortable and colorful underwear I’ve ever owned. Their materials are 2x softer than cotton, as evaluated using the Kawabata method. Check out MeUndies.com/Tim to see my current faves, some of which are awesomely ridiculous.

This episode is also sponsored by OnnitI have used Onnit products for years. If you look in my kitchen or in my garage you will find Alpha BRAIN, chewable melatonin (for resetting my clock while traveling), kettlebells, maces, battle ropes, and steel clubs. It sounds like a torture chamber, and it basically is. A torture chamber for self-improvement! Ah, the lovely pain. To see a list of my favorite pills, potions, and heavy tools, click here.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What really offends you, and how might you analyze the reasons to improve yourself? Please share in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes… Read More

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The Maverick of Brain Optimization

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Adam Gazzely on the Tim Ferriss Show

“My lab is interested in pursuing how we can enhance cognition to improve quality of life.”
– Adam Gazzaley

Dr. Adam Gazzaley (@adamgazz) obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, then postdoctoral training in cognitive neuroscience at UC Berkeley. He is now the director of the Gazzaley Lab at UC San Francisco, a cognitive neuroscience laboratory.

His recent studies go far beyond mere description — he and his lab are exploring neuroplasticity and how we can optimize cognitive abilities, even in healthy adults. So, what happens when you combine cognitive-focused video games with neurofeedback, magnetic and electrical stimulation, and even performance-enhancing drugs? Well, that’s just one of many things we cover in this conversation.

As someone with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease on both sides of my family, I find Adam’s work to be of incredible importance and promise.  I hope this discussion blows your mind, in the best way possible.

Enjoy!

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Want to hear more from world-class scientists?
Check out my conversations with Dr. Peter Attia. In the below episode, we discuss life-extension, drinking jet fuel, ultra-endurance, human foie gras, and more (stream below or right-click here to download):

Want even more from unorthodox scientists?
Listen to my conversation with Dr. Rhonda Patrick. In this episode, we discuss life extension, optimal performance, and much more (stream below or right-click here to download):



This podcast is brought to you by a new sponsor, LegalZoom. Matt Mullenweg (CEO of Automattic – now worth more than a billion dollars) first incorporated his company on LegalZoom.  LegalZoom, which I’ve used myself, can help you with almost anything legal, including setting up a will, doing a proper trademark search, forming an LLC, setting up a non-profit, or finding simple cease-and-desist letter templates. LegalZoom is not a law firm, but they do have a network of independent attorneys available in most states. They can give you advice on the best way to get started, provide contract review, and otherwise help you run your business. Use the code “Tim” at checkout to get $10 off your next order. Take a gander at everything you can get for a fraction of what you’d expect — LegalZoom.com

This podcast is also 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.  Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade.  Give it a test run..

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Are you afraid of losing cognitive function with age? If so, WHAT are you doing to prevent it? If nothing, why? Please share in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes… Read More

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Sam Kass on Reinventing Yourself and Baptism by Fire

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Sam Kass, right, holding court. (Photo: Bob Nichols, USDA)

Sam Kass, right, in official White House gear. (Photo: Bob Nichols, USDA)

“Yankees, we’ve won!”
– Austrian sous-chef to unprepared Americans hustling at a Michelin 3-star restaurant

“75% of success is staying calm. The rest you figure out.”
– Sam Kass

Sam Kass almost became a pro baseball player.  Instead, he pivoted a history major from U. Chicago into becoming the private chef for the Obamas in the White House.

He then broke into national nutrition policy and was named #11 on Fast Company magazine’s 2011 list of “100 Most Creative People” for his work, which focused on establishing private-sector partnerships to reduce childhood obesity to just 5% by 2030.

His story is amazing, his career turns unexpected, and his trials by fire hilarious.  

In this conversation, we talk about:

– Baseball and the art of fielding, plus how he set records at U. Chicago
– His odd leap to the culinary world and escapades one of the best Austria kitchens
– His favorite books, routines, and breakfast eggs
– Simple cooking tricks and common mistakes
– A go-to meal for impressing any date
– Nutrition, top-soil depletion, and organic food
– Why he doesn’t like black pepper
– And much, much more…

We delve into his incredible batting average (literal and metaphorical), his trials by fire, what it’s like to cook for the First Family, and well beyond.  Enjoy!

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Want to hear another podcast from a world class chef? Listen to my conversation with Andrew Zimmern. In that episode, we discuss simple cooking tricks, developing TV, his success secrets, and beating addiction (stream below or right-click here to download):



This podcast is brought to you by Mizzen + Main. Mizzen + Main makes the only “dress” shirts I now travel with — fancy enough for important dinners but made from athletic, sweat-wicking material. No more ironing, no more steaming, no more hassle. Click here to see the exact shirts I wear most often.

This podcast is also 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.  Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade.  Give it a test run…

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: If you had to pack the essence of life into a burrito, what would that burrito look like? OR What simple meal have you used to impress dates? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links, resources, and show notes… Read More

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An Unusual $100,000 Birthday Present (Plus: Free Round-Trip Anywhere in the World)

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Turning 38-years young… and still not acting my age. (Photo: Sir Garrett Camp)

38! I’ll turn a glorious 38 soon.

It’s going to be a great natal year–I can already feel it. Perhaps it will be good luck for you, too. In this post, I’m giving away a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world.

But back to that strange birthday gift… Read More

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