Why Can’t You Draw The Face of a Penny? Understand the Reason and Learn Spanish Twice as Fast


Allow me to explain using a related problem.

Vocabulary lists in a run-of-the-mill Spanish textbook usually look something like the below, taken from real-world sources I won’t shame by naming:

  • La mano – the hand
  • El arbol – the tree
  • Las muñecas – the wrists
  • ¡Nos vemos mañana! – See you tomorrow!
  • Mande? – Sorry? Pardon? What did you say?
  • Ahorita vengo! – I’ll be back in a minute!

Pretty typical, right?

Sadly, this format is also priming students for failure.  Two reasons:

Spanish is listed first, so we’re training recognition.  If you want to be able to speak (produce) Spanish, you should list English first, then Spanish: cue and target.  For at least the first month, you will be translating from English in your head before most speaking.  Have your materials mimic this process, or you’re working backwards.

Incredibly, almost no textbooks get this ordering right.  If you train for recall, you get recognition automatically; if you train for recognition, recall is terrible, or as slow as molasses.

Think I’m exaggerating?  How many times have you handled or seen pennies and quarters in your life?  Tens of thousands of times?  Millions?  Try and draw both sides of either from memory.  Recognition does not = recall.  You have to train specifically for the latter.

A fixed list equals inflexible recall.  By illustration, answer this: what number is the letter “L” in the alphabet?  5th, 14th, which?  What is the third line of your national anthem?  Slow, isn’t it?  The answers depend on order — on the pieces before them acting as cues.  If you learn words in a fixed list, the preceding words act as a recall crutch for your target word.  You’ll eventually get it, but it’s plodding and haphazard.  This is a major problem.  This is also why, 10 years later, I can still sing (poorly) a few entire songs in Italian, but I could never recall those words independently for conversation.

We want RAM—random-access memory—where we can pull any word from memory quickly.

Mixing up flash cards accomplishes this, as does a software program like Anki or Duolingo (I advise), which does it automatically.

If you have a textbook with a fixed list, just practice doing them backwards and also in evens, odds, every-third item, etc.

¡Mucha suerte, ché!


If you like these shorter posts (as opposed to my longer, monster posts), please let me know in the comments and I’ll do more of them!

81 Comments / Leave a comment or question

Jony Ive’s Secret Coffee Ritual


Jony Ive and his elite design team at Apple are coffee snobs. And rightfully so.

Coffee is the fuel that drives their brainstorming sessions, which are arguably the most important meetings in the design department. These sessions are where Apple has birthed some of the greatest products of all-time: the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.

In this guest post by Leander Kahney (author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products), you’ll learn the secret coffee ritual performed by Jony Ive’s design team.

Remember: Apple’s standards are notoriously high.  As is the case with their products, Apple’s coffee is not for those with meager budgets…or without Monk-ish tendencies.

HOWEVER, for almost every uber-expensive ideal, I’ve indicated the Poor Man’s alternative that I personally use.  It’s not hard to cheaply get it about 90% right.

Enjoy the obsessive detail… Read More

175 Comments / Leave a comment or question

The BitTorrent Strikes Back: The 4-Hour Chef Audiobook Goes Loose



As a thank-you to all of you today, I am today releasing the audiobook of The 4-Hour Chef…for free.

This includes almost 10 hours of recording: all of the chapters on accelerated learning, all of the ridiculous experiments and related stories, and much more.

I’m partnering with BitTorrent again to bring you a bundle of goodies. The full unlocked bundle for this release is 5.4 GB of free content (!), whereas my first BitTorrent release for the print edition was 187 MB. HD instructional videos? Bonus PDFs? You got it.

The audiobook also features guest narration from one of my heroes–bestselling author Neil Gaiman!  

I’ve written about Neil before (read my gushing here), and if you’re not a fan yet, you will be. Special thanks to Neil, his amazing assistant Cat, and also to Max Adams, who acted as Twitter matchmaker:

I hope you enjoy the audiobook as much as I enjoyed producing it.  Here’s the announcement and download links from BitTorrent…

The 4-Hour Chef: Accelerating Learning for Free

What’s the value of a free read?

Last November, we partnered with best-selling author Tim Ferriss to find out. We handed out sections and drafts from his new book, The 4-Hour Chef, to BitTorrent fans. In turn, 880 thousand of them checked out the hardcover on Amazon. And 2012’s boycotted book about meta-learning hit 2013’s bestseller lists, from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal.

A free read, it turns out, is a powerful thing.

So, what’s a listen worth?

We’re letting the people decide. Today, Tim Ferriss is giving away the full audiobook of The 4-Hour Chef, complete with six hours of HD creativeLIVE tutorials that bring the 4-Hour lessons to life. Call it an experiment in anti-cannibalization. Our goal is to see how different formats can feed off of, and feed, one another.

Here’s the deal:

Check out Tim Ferriss’s page on BitTorrent. You can instantly download several chapters of The 4-Hour Chef audio, Part 1 of the full-color ebook (62 pages), and three workshop videos from creativeLIVE.

Subscribe to the book’s email list, and unlock the full audiobook narrated by Ferriss, Neil Gaiman, and Adam Verner, plus ten additional workshop videos. It’s everything you need to master everything, basically: from the kitchen to the basketball court. Except the hardcover. (You’ll need to go here for that.)

Download The 4-Hour Chef Bundle


Instant Download:

The 4-Hour Chef: eBook Part 1 [PDF]
The 4-Hour Chef: AudioBook Introduction [Audio]
The 4-Hour Chef: creativeLIVE Workshop, Day 1 [3 Videos]

Unlocked Bundle

The 4-Hour Chef: Full AudioBook [Audio]
The 4-Hour Chef: Creative Live Workshop, Day 2 [9 Videos]

Get the hardcover / ebook.


Also Tonight (9/10) from 6-7pm PT (9-10pm ET)…

I’ll be doing a live Q&A on Twitter for 60 minutes. Ask me anything. Really. To make my day, download the audiobook first and let me know what you think! Here’s how it works:

1) Follow @merrelloutside. I’m partnering with them for this, so you’ll need to follow them to see my responses to questions.

2) Ask questions in the following format:
“@tferriss @merrelloutside [insert question]? #asktim”

3) I’ll answer ‘em as fast as I can! Hope to see you tonight.

102 Comments / Leave a comment or question

A How-To Guide: Accelerated Learning for Accelerated Times


The above video is a short presentation I gave at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam.

It covers a basic framework for mastering any skill quickly, including languages, music, dance, and more.

What skill have you put off learning for longest… and why? Let me know in the comments. Perhaps I (or other readers) can help. Second, if you could learn one skill in the next six months, what would it be?


Important afterword:
NOTE — For my competition launched last week (not too late to join), roundtrip airfare is covered for all four winners.

Related content:
The 4-Hour Chef and Meta-Learning — 200+ pages on all I know about accelerated learning
Total Immersion: How I Learned to Swim Effortlessly in 10 Days and You Can Too
Scientific Speed Reading: How to Read 300% Faster in 20 Minutes
How I Deconstruct Languages (scroll through the list)

395 Comments / Leave a comment or question

How to Create a Viral Book Trailer (or Get 1,000,000 Views for Almost Anything)


How do you create a viral video?

I am asked this quite a lot. I’ve been asked by authors, TV producers, and first-time Kickstarter entrepreneurs. In my experience, the answers are the same for all of them.

In this post, I’ll deconstruct one example: The 4-Hour Chef (4HC) book trailer, which is now the most-viewed non-fiction book trailer of all time. Roughly 1.5 million views and counting.

Before we dig in…

First, let’s make a distinction: creating a “viral” video is not the same a creating a “popular” video, but both can be valuable.

If you use ads to drive 1,000,000+ views, a video is not viral; it is popular. If your views come from organic sharing (or incentivized sharing like DropBox), it can be considered viral.

This post is also intended as a companion to my post, Behind the Scenes: How to Make a Movie Trailer for Your Product (or Book), which goes into equipment, planning, and (tons of) other details that I’ve omitted here.

For later — below are resources that will save you a TON of time and tail-chasing… Read More

91 Comments / Leave a comment or question

A World Map of Flavors – 36 Regions, 36 Herb and Spice Combinations


tim ferriss typographic map of flavors

Inspired by The 4-Hour Chef, the friendly folks over at the startup Maptia (launching soon) have created this fun typographic map of flavors from around the world. You can download a large version by clicking here.

Aside from the map, this post showcases 36 simple recipes and flavor combinations from the 36 regions covered in the map… Read More

55 Comments / Leave a comment or question

The 4-Hour Chef Wins — Gourmand Awards "Best in the World"


Greetings from Paris!

I am ecstatic to announce that The 4-Hour Chef has won Best First Cookbook at the 18th Annual “Best in the World” Gourmand World Cookbook Awards (!!!).

26,000+ food and wine books are produced every year, and 8,000+ books from more than 100 countries participate in the Gourmand Awards.

I was at a loss for words on the platform above. I was more surprised than this (see :08 forward).

Thank you to everyone who helped make this book a reality. It was all worth it.
Thank you to my incredible family.
Thank you to my wonderfully supportive girlfriend.
Thank you to every one of you, my dear readers. You’re the reason I keep writing.



142 Comments / Leave a comment or question

The 4-Hour Chef Trailer Competition – Winner and Honorable Mentions


Ya’ll rock! (Picture: Broken down on the roadside, pre-Burning Man).

Without further ado, the results of the video trailer competition!

All entries were viewed by me and my esteemed panel of judges, elves, and magic robots. As explained in the original post, the winner provided the best combination of creativity, book explanation, and total view count.

The Winner

The winner of the $2,500 USD and 60-min call with me (should he choose) is Vince Wong. Congrats, Vince! Be on the look-out for an email from my team. Well done, sir.

Vince Wonghttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xb6Oq7vD-cw


Directed / Produced by: Vince Wong
Script by: Vince Wong / Jared Croslow
Cast: Vince Wong / Bruna Silva
Camera Operations: Hall & Max
Camera Assistants: Mink / Ploy
Sound Design: Hall & Max / Audio Jungle
Editing / Special FX: Vince Wong / Jared Croslow
Location: Red Sky Bar, Centara Grand Hotel, Bangkok Thailand (Thank you for last minute official location approval, and for the complimentary cocktails!)

Vince’s blog: http://www.vincewong.com
Vince’s 4-Hour Workweek success story — 37+ countries in 2 years, $200,000+ earned in first 9 months.

Honorable Mentions

There were so many great videos, it was hard to keep count. The below is just a small sample. I once again concluded that — yes — I have the best readers out there. What a blast… Read More

54 Comments / Leave a comment or question

How to Memorize a Shuffled Deck of Cards in Less Than 60 Seconds (Plus: $10,000 Challenge)


(Photo credit: Jystyn)

To become a Grand Master of Memory–fewer than 100 in the world can claim that title–you need to satisfy each of the following in competitions approved by the World Memory Sport Council:

• Memorize the order of 10 decks of cards in 60 minutes.
• Memorize 1,000 random digits in 60 minutes.
• Memorize the order of one deck of cards in less than two minutes.

Ed Cooke first hit this trifecta when he was 23. He later came to international attention when he coached journalist Joshua Foer from ground zero to U.S. Memory Champion in one year, a feat chronicled by Foer in the best-seller Moonwalking with Einstein. To win that championship, Foer had to memorize 120 random digits in five minutes, successfully commit to memory the first and last names of 156 strangers within 15 minutes, and (last but not least) memorize a shuffled deck of cards in less than two minutes.

Ed has memorized a shuffled deck of cards in competition in 43 seconds. Of all memory feats, none is a more compressed act of mental athleticism.

I asked him if he’d open the kimono and explain his method, and he very graciously agreed.

It takes around four hours to get comfortable with Ed’s best-of-breed system. With a little practice, you’ll be a third of your way to becoming a Grand Master.

(Im)practically speaking, it’s just freaking amazingly cool. Few people in the world can pull it off, and that’s reason enough to take a weekend or slow evening to try. Instead of watching another bad movie, you can become one of the memory illuminati.

Last but not least, there’s a $10,000 competition at the end if you want to really give this a shot… Read More

95 Comments / Leave a comment or question

The Diet of UFC Champion Georges St-Pierre: How He Transformed Himself


Georges St. Pierre, better known to fight fans worldwide as “GSP,” is currently the UFC Welterweight Champion.

His publicly stated goal is to retire as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and, at a record of 23-2, ESPN currently ranks him as the #3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. I think he’ll get there.

His intellect–and consistency–is what separates him from the brawlers. He has a scientific approach to winning.

This isn’t limited to training. He considers nutrition a critical part of his fight prep, just as important as being in the cage. In this respect, 2009 marked an inflection point. That year, after successfully defending his Welterweight title in his second fight against BJ Penn, GSP hired Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition to help him gain lean muscle tissue and improve his recovery abilities. Berardi, in charge of the nutrient science, recommended that GSP hire Jennifer Nickel and Rosario “Ross” Gurreri, two chefs in the Montreal area who worked at Cavalli and Bice restaurants, for his meal preparation.

In the next 8 weeks, GSP gained approximately 12 pounds of lean muscle and bulked up to 195 pounds. His upgraded speed and power helped him to dominate every subsequent opponent, posting a 5-0 record since 2009.

This post will walk you through how GSP ate during his 2009 transformation… Read More

110 Comments / Leave a comment or question