My 10 Favorite Purchases in 10 Months

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Photo: From Tim’s Instagram

I love testing new gadgets and products. It’s an obsession.

For The 4-Hour Chef alone, I tested well over $100,000 worth of gear. OCD + Amazon Prime = expensive.

Why on earth do I do it? Simple–I love sharing the 5-10 things out of 500-1,000 that really work. Strange fetish, perhaps, but I get off on it. Readers seem to enjoy it, too.

In the first ever 5-Bullet Friday newsletter, I recommended my favorite all-purpose sandals, and more than 100,000 people clicked on the link within the first 48 hours (!). This type of click-through assault was nicknamed “the hug of death” by one Facebook fan. It crashes websites, wipes out inventory (e.g. Mizzen+Main, sardines at Whole Foods), creates nutty pricing spikes (e.g. used books going for $1,000 after the Sacca podcast), etc.

Below are 10 recent purchases that have given me—and continue to give me—value, joy, or both.

They are from a handful of 5-Bullet Friday newsletters (here’s a full sample). For the data nerds out there, I’ve listed the below products in descending order of click-through rate.

I’ve provided two sets of links for each.  The first link (usually the name of the item) is often an Amazon affiliate link, if you’d like to chip in a few pennies to support my compulsive gear-testing habit. The second link, labeled “non-affiliate link,” is exactly that—a plain old link where Uncle Tim gets to fend for himself in the wild. I’m cool with either. Some items lack affiliate links altogether, as I was too lazy to search.

Here we go… (and what the hell is it with you guys and shoes?)

Vans Unisex Classic Slip-On (Gumsole) Skate Shoe (Non-affiliate link)

This makes me seem like one of the grups, but I love these shoes. Not for skating. My criteria: great for airports, zero-drop soles for restoring Achilles mobility, usable at semi-casual but nice dinners, and small enough to pack in carry-on luggage. I’ve worn these for everything from business meetings to canyon hiking (in a pinch), and they’ve held up beautifully.

My elixir for warm-weather sipping

Here’s one of my favorite rosé wines in the US, perfect for summer sipping: The Wolffer Estate Rosé from Long Island (many years are good).

[I’ll also give you a cold-weather alternative: YakTrax, for modifying normal shoes when you need to walk on snow and ice. They are amazing and fit in a jacket pocket. I bought the basic “Walk” model, but there are many options.]

My preferred oddities on

Many of you have asked, so here’s my favorite gear for podcasting, coffee, everyday carry, survival gear (some ridiculous), and much more.

Rumble Roller (travel size) (Non-affiliate link)

I’ve tried every foam roller imaginable, but this is my new favorite for opening up hamstrings and IT band prior to AcroYoga and other gymnastics practice. That front lever is still eluding me, but I’ll keep at it. WARNING: This will smash you 10x more than smooth rollers. I got overzealous my first session and, the next day, felt like I’d been leg kicked by Buakaw (my fave kickboxer, BTW).

Mini parallettes (“p-bars”) for travel (Non-affiliate link)

These are small enough to stick in carry-on luggage. I use them primarily for pushups, planche leans, and L-sits for time. If you want to make a homemade version out of PVC that can live in your garage or living room, here’s another option.

Original Buddha Board (Non-affiliate link)

A zen-minded Etch-a-Sketch. Use the included brush to paint designs onto the board with water. As the water evaporates, your image fades, all within 30-60 seconds. This is a great tool for learning to let go… or rekindling your artistic side. If you have 60 seconds a day, you have time for the Buddha Board.

Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic (Non-affiliate link)

I had to highlight this one. This is the best bang-for-the-buck USB mic I’ve found. I use it for all phone interviews for my podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. It’s traveled with me around the world. With this, ear buds, and ECamm Call Recorder, you’re set. For my more complete gear list, see the podcast bullet above from

Wild Planet Canned Sardines in Olive Oil (Non-affiliate link)

I’m sitting in the Bahamas as I type this [back in December, at least], and 24 cans of sardines are sitting next to me in my suitcase. That’s my MO. I open one can upon waking, drizzle about half the oil over my dog’s kibble (which she sometimes refuses to eat dry), and then consume the fish myself. My skin and her coat have never looked better. Hat tip to the incredible biochemistry beast Dom D’Agostino, PhD for intro’ing me to these beauties.

Epsoak Epsom Salt (39.5 Lbs.) (Non-affiliate link)

I take hot baths every night when at home in SF. Nearly always, I add epsom salt (typically 4-8 cups), which facilitates muscular relaxation and recovery. Rather than buy small boxes at CVS or Safeway, I buy in bulk and store it in rolling dog-food containers. This is a good use of Amazon Prime.

Nayoya Gymnastic Rings (Non-affiliate link)

These are super portable (easily fit in a small backpack) and incredibly durable for the price. I’m using them for mostly dips and muscle-up progressions. My pull-up rig [written during the summer] is finally complete, and I suspend them from this (I do not do any kipping work on this rig). The Nayoya allow me to leave the rings outdoors. BUT: If you’re going to travel without chalk, I highly suggest wooden rings.


So… do you enjoy these types of recommendations?

Would you like to get a short e-mail from me every Friday with the five coolest things I’ve found that week? It often includes gadgets, books, supplements, albums, articles, new hacks, and — of course — random, useful stuff I find around the world.

Achtung! You can only get “5-Bullet Friday” if you subscribe to my free e-mail newsletter.

Why not test drive it for a week? You know it’s making your temples tickle, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Click here for a taste of why “5BF” (5-Bullet Friday) usually has a 70%+ open rate.

If you have any special requests for what you’d like see more of in the newsletter, please let me know in the comments.

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The Best Decline Letter of All Time: Edmund Wilson

Edmund Wilson

Edmund Wilson

Edmund Wilson, recipient of both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal for Literature, was one of the most prominent social and literary critics of the 20th century.

He realized, like most uber-productive people, that, while there were many behaviors needed to guarantee high output, there was one single behavior guaranteed to prevent all output:

Trying to please everyone.

He had a low tolerance for distraction and shunned undue public acclaim. To almost all inquiries, he would respond with the following list, putting a check mark next to what had been requested… Read More

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Facebook Bankruptcy Template


The following is an e-mail I received from Paul Colligan, which inspired me to finally take the leap and get Facebook under control. To tame the beast and use it, instead of having it use me. I hope you find it useful, or at least entertaining.

Paul, if you mind me putting this up, please do let me know.

Short version:

Moving to a “Fan Page” model at Facebook to make more sense of things. Would love you as a “Fan” here –

Long version:

It’s not you, it’s me …


When I joined Facebook, I didn’t think it all the way through.

And now I have to do something drastic …

(and it’s going to take a couple of weeks)

By mixing business and personal in the same account, here on Facebook. I was no good to anybody. Here’s a few highlights:

* Personal friends and family who weren’t interested in my business found themselves with lots of marketing messages. I’m amazed at anyone who ’stayed a friend” – but that’s another note all together.

* Business partners, associates, etc., got a bunch of confusing personal updates when they were trying to get work done. So much for “Market to Message Match.”

* I couldn’t “use” Facebook like a normal person (with 4000+ “friends”) and here I am trying to figure out what Facebook means and how normal people use it …

So, here’s what I’ve done about it:

* I’ve asked my assistant to unfriend EVERYBODY in Facebook and send them this note. The best man in my wedding is on this list – so please don’t feel offended.

(I did figure I wouldn’t unfriend Heidi – too many implications there)

* I’ve sent you all this note.

* I plan on “refriending” my friends and engaging in active business dialog at the “page” discussed below – I think it will turn out to be the best of both worlds.

You have three options:

Option 1-
I’ve set up a “page” at Facebook where I’ll be focussing on the “Business” and “New Media” side of Paul. You can see it here (please click to become a “Fan”). It should be a fun place to meet up and chat.

To encourage others to become a Fan, I’m hosting a special Webinar on Facebook for free where I’ll walk through every stop of this process and share what I’ve learned along the way.

Details will be emailed to everyone who has “fanned” me on that page through a Facebook update.

This will be the most appropriate action for most of you.

Here’s the link one more time –

Option 2 –
If we really are friends (i.e., you know my kid’s names) feel free to friend me again on Facebook – I’ll respond shortly.

Also know that I’ll be seeking to replenish my friends list very soon anyway, and I’ll eventually find everyone again – but feel free to speed up the process.

Option 3 –
I’m sure this move will offend a few. Please understand it is certainly a drastic move – but one I needed to take.

Didn’t mean to offend – sorry if I did.


Yup, wacky …

This social media stuff is fascinating. I look forward to (and, I’ll be honest, equally as much) using Facebook like “everyone else” and sharing with those interested what I learned along the way.

Thanks for understanding.


For those interested in seeing my 2nd-round Facebook attempt, which has worked like clockwork and turned out to be both more fun and more useful, take a glance at Tim Ferriss 2.0.

If you own a business or brand, the analytics alone are worth the effort of setting it up as a complement to your existing profile.

Use your tools. Don’t let them use you.

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On The Shortness of Life: An Introduction to Seneca


Samurai and Seneca agreed: comfort with death brings better living. (Photo: Kalandrakas)

“We don’t beat the Reaper by living longer. We beat the Reaper by living well.”
-Randy Pausch (1960-2008), The Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon

This week, one of my friends died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was in his early 30’s.

Several hours after I learned of his passing, I received an e-mail from my parents: the 10-year old daughter of a dear high school coach had been diagnosed with liver cancer. The Reaper does not discriminate. Too often, we spend time focusing on the trivial with people who contribute nothing but their own self-interest.

How do we balance protecting time with protecting relationships? How do we conquer guilt and do what is truly most important?

I often read “On The Shortness of Life,” one of Lucius Seneca‘s most famous letters, whenever I succumb to social pressure to treat time as less valuable than income, or whenever I find myself agreeing to help those who make unreasonable requests and get upset otherwise.

Seneca’s masterful diatribe hit me like a much-needed sledgehammer, and I’ve included it below. He soon became my favorite Stoic philosopher, and this will help you understand why… Read More

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Tim Ferriss and Ramit Sethi on Blogging Techniques and Self-Publishing vs. Big Publishers


Last week, Ramit Sethi and I recorded a private videocast for a select group of readers. The three short videos below, all 2-8 minutes in length, describe our blogging tips and techniques, as well as an examination of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.

He and I have both had the privilege and tactical experience of:

1) Building highly-trafficked blogs in a crowded blogosphere of more than 120 million blogs. More important, both of our blogs are well-known for action-oriented readers (For data on this blog’s readers — that’s you! — check this out).

2) Publishing books that reached The New York Times bestseller lists. Ramit’s experience is fresh and most up-to-date from his last three weeks with I Will Teach You To Be Rich, while I wrote The 4-Hour Workweek, which has been on the New York Times business bestseller list continually for 23 months, since its publication in April of 2007.

Here are some of the topics we cover in the a la carte videos:

Currencies Besides Royalties and Direct Income
Google Juice and SEO Misuse
Choosing Post Topics: From Google Keyword Tool to Stumble Upon
Post Length and Publishing Time
Tactical Redating of Posts

Regarding the plug-in I mention for keeping your best content on your homepage, the very smart Lloyd Budd at Automattic explains:

Have your WordPress theme developer to update your theme to take advantage of the simple 2.7 feature “sticky posts” to have articles stay on the front page:

Self-Publishing vs. Big Publishers – 5:11

How to Build Traffic – 7:22

More Blogging Tactics – 2:35

In Ramit’s latest post, you will find an additional video on our mutual “false starts” and mistakes.

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No Schedules, No Meetings—Enter Best Buy’s ROWE – Part 2


(Photo: badboy69)

This is continued from Part 1 of my exclusive first blog interview with the co-developers of Best Buy’s results-only work environment, which has increased output at headquarters 41% and decreased quitting up to 90% in some divisions.

When you take care of your life, do you develop overcomplicated processes for getting things done? Do you spend your free time coming up with systems and programs for buying birthday presents or making dinner or feeding the dog? Do you have regular family meetings to discuss whether or not people are doing heir chores, what the status of those chores is, and what kind of outcomes those chores are expected to achieve?

Why do we spend so much of our business life talking about the business we need to take care of rather than simply taking care of it?
-From “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It”

Some converts argue ROWE is a “simple change”. What’s simple about it?

The change isn’t easy, but the change is simple because it’s based on common sense. To show you what we’re talking about, here are some ROWE conversation starters: Read More

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No Schedules, No Meetings–Enter Best Buy's ROWE – Part 1


(Photo: yum9me)

Managers often ask me how to use 4HWW within corporate environments.

I now have a new recommendation to add to the previous list: read the new in-depth description of Best Buy’s Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE).

How did a Fortune 100 company increase productivity at headquarters 41% while decreasing voluntary turnover (corporate speak for quitting) as much as 90%?

I’ve been fascinated by this unusual experiment since reading about it in 2005. The best part? It began with a 24-year old new hire named Cali Ressler, not a top-down decision from the CEO.

Cali is now co-author of a new book with ROWE co-developer Jody Thompson, which details how it all happened — and how others can replicate (or at least emulate) its success. Here is an excerpt, followed by a exclusive first blog interview: Read More

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