How to Feel Like the Incredible Hulk in 2009


The above video is of my presentation at the Entertainment Gathering, titled “How to Feel Like the Incredible Hulk.” In a short 17 minutes, I explain exactly how I conquered fears of swimming, language learning, and ballroom dancing by questioning “obvious” guidelines and dogmatic teaching.

I explain three approaches (first principles/assumptions, material over method, and implicit vs. explicit) you can immediately apply to your own lifelong goals, or lifelong fears, to become the new-and-improved you in record time in 2009.

This is one of my favorite presentations I’ve ever done. Perhaps because it was so short! Special thanks to Terry Laughlin of Total Immersion for the photographs of swimming biomechanics.

For students of Japanese, the closest equivalent to the featured kanji poster that I could find online is here.

I hope you enjoy the talk as much as I enjoyed giving it! Read More

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BIG NEWS and Sneak Peek – Tim Ferriss TV Show Debut 12/4



The debut of my TV show — “Trial by Fire” — will air this Thursday, 12/4, at 11pm ET/PT on The History Channel. It’s been two years in the making.

I’ve been told that the times are 11pm ET, 10pm CST, 9pm MT, and 11pm PST. Double check to be safe on the History Channel schedule.

This could very well be the only time you are able to see this show. It’s a pilot and not guaranteed to become a series, so please tune in and also Tivo!

In this post:

1) The concept
2) Live Q&A following show
– join me after the broadcast to ask your questions and learn about how to pitch a TV show, the “reality” behind reality TV, behind-the-scenes details, omitted scenes, and more. The Q&A won’t make sense unless you’ve seen the broadcast.
3) Immediate competition and prize for rallying the troops (sooner is better)

The Concept

The concept is simple: I have one week to attempt to learn what is usually learned over 5-20 years. I either crash and burn — or survive by the skin of my teeth — in a final test (trial by fire) each time.

If it’s made into a series, which depends entirely on viewership numbers on Thursday night, I’ll deconstruct a new complex skill each week. It will show you exactly how I approach learning, and no fake TV drama will be required to make the stakes real.

This episode was shot in HD in Tokyo and the mountains of Nikko, where I rolled the dice on Japanese horseback archery, or yabusame: full gallop, no hands, no safety gear, with wooden poles lining the track on either side of the horse. Please don’t do this at home. I had access to the best in the world, and you’ll get to see some never-before-seen footage of a rare and brutal samurai sport few non-Japanese have ever attempted. The show preview is here.

Live Q&A After Broadcast Thursday

I’ll be holding a live Q&A on this blog after both broadcasts (11pm ET for ET, CST, MT; 11pm PT for PT). Note down questions during the show on things you’d like to know. No-holds-barred. Just keep an eye on this blog and my twitter page for more details.

Immediate Competition to Rally Troops

This is a one shot, one kill affair. To become a series, this show needs massive viewership on Thursday to prove to History Channel that people want more.

The competition, limited to the next 48 hours, is simple: promote the below links and leave a comment here with 1) what you did to spread the word, and 2) what challenge you think I should tackle next.

Some options: Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, blogs, FriendFeed, etc. Bonus points go to people who act sooner vs. later.

The links:
The preview (first choice):
This post (second choice, if video is removed):

Prize to best promoter: my favorite travel bag in the world, the $500 retail Victorinox Swiss Army 25″ Trek Pack Plus. I used an older version during my 15-country world trip in 2004, and the latest model is even better.

Thanks in advance for your help with spreading the word! More to come soon! Woohoo!

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How Not to Use a Lawyer – A Personal Case Study (Plus: Protocol Marketing correction)


Ah, lawyers. It’s a love-hate relationship.

Just this week alone, I’m working with a literary attorney (publishing), an entertainment attorney (TV), and a corporate financing attorney (angel investments).  All three are great.

Yesterday, though, I received the threatening letter below from Protocol Integrated Direct Marketing, whose call centers I recommend in the 4HWW. WTF?

Click to enlarge… Read More

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Why Language Classes Don't Work: How to Cut Classes and Double Your Learning Rate (Plus: Madrid Update)


Coffee shops vs. classrooms – who wins? (Photo: eye2eye)

This is one of several articles planned as supplements to the original “How to Learn (But Not Master) Any Language in 1 Hour.” This piece focuses on acquisition of new material; for reactivating “forgotten” languages and vocab, I recommend also reading “How to Resurrect Your High School Spanish… or Any Language.”

Let us begin…

From the academic environments of Princeton University (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian) and the Middlebury Language Schools (Japanese), to the disappointing results observed as a curriculum designer at Berlitz International (Japanese, English), I have sought for more than 10 years to answer a simple question: why do most language classes simply not work?

After testing the waters with more than 20 languages and achieving conversational and written fluency in 6, I have identified several cardinal sins that, when fixed, can easily cut the time to fluency by 50-80%… Read More

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Prepping for Warren Buffett: The Art of the Elevator Pitch (Videos)


The Oracle of Omaha, the world’s richest man. (Photo: Stephanie Kuykenal/Bloomberg News/Landov)

It’s 1:33am in Omaha and I can’t sleep.

Much like pre-Santa jitters as a 7-year old, I’m so excited to potentially meet Warren Buffett tomorrow for the 1st time that my little reptile brain won’t turn off. Ridiculous? Perhaps, but he (Warren, not Santa) is perhaps the greatest investor the US has ever produced.

So what do you say to the world’s richest man if you, by some miracle, end up standing at the urinal next to him? You better know in advance or you’ll sound like a Hannah Montana fan.

This is why learning to elevator pitch — how to deliver your message is 60 seconds or less — is one of the most important skills to develop if you ever plan on interacting with real players and demi-gods like the Oracle of Omaha… Read More

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Youse, Y'All, and Other Confusions of Modern English


Galway, Ireland

Liz fidgeted, then leaned forward, eyes wide-open, “But the worst—the worst—is that I find myself saying things like ‘how are you guys doing?’. ‘You guys’! It makes me sick to my stomach.”

My roommate on Claddaugh Key was Irish down to her last Guinness-drinking bone.

Alas, sitting along the harbor among the swan flocks in Galway, she was still shaking off the after-effects of a year of study in the US. More than the big cars and big people, it had been the word “guys” that drove her nuts, and now she couldn’t stop it from rolling off her tongue. She had become a counterfeit Yank.

“So what do you say then?”
“You lads.”
“Oh, that’s much better.”

Beauty may be in the ear of the listener, but “you” in the plural (second person plural for you linguists) just ain’t as simple as it should be in English, particularly in the US. That is, except in the South.

“You all” or, more commonly, “y’all” is neat, clean, and logical. It is similar to Japanese, in which you simply tag a plural indicator after “you” (anata) to make it y’all (anata-tachi), just as “I” (watashi) becomes “we” (watashi-tachi). Chinese is the same (ni –> ni-men, wo –> wo-men). Read More

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George Carlin vs. Mark Twain – Can You Pick? (plus: Exclusive TV Preview)


Jon Stewart gives an example of Carlin’s brilliance (exclusive footage from a special appearing tonight on PBS, 9pm ET).

I first saw George Carlin around age 10. Much later, I discovered Mark Twain and realized both were philosophers of the same school: The Trojan Horse.

Twain and Carlin were experts at making important points with humor, oftentimes addressing topics that, even in Twain’s time, wouldn’t hit the politically-correct mainstream otherwise. Other skilled Trojan Horse comedians include Stephen Colbert (example from his speech following George W. Bush) and Chris Rock.

Motivated and pissed off by the rules and senseless authority of their times, both used humor via plain and simple language to poke fun where more than fun was at stake.

Separated at birth: Can you guess who said the following quotes, Carlin or Twain?… Read More

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