The last question of the night came from a gentleman sitting smack-dab in the middle of the audience.
“For those people who haven’t listened to all of your podcasts, what’s one episode you would recommend to give them a taste?”
Tim Ferriss has made it his mission to deconstruct world-class performers to extract their habits, tools and routines. On his podcast he’s interviewed hundreds of successful entrepreneurs, actors, writers, athletes and thought leaders. His new book, Tools of Titans, is an amalgamation of all those conversations and was supposed to be the focus of the night. But Ferriss doesn’t seem to stick to agendas, even if the main bullet point is his new book. He pulls conversations in whatever direction his brain wanders.
Ferriss chose an episode with BJ Miller, a palliative care physician in San Francisco who sat down with Ferriss in 2016. The episode, “The man who studied 1,000 deaths to learn how to live” inspired Ferriss because Miller’s advice felt counter-intuitive. He challenged Ferriss to embrace the beauty and magic of ordinary, daily routine.
One of the biggest things you can do to improve someone’s quality of life is to bake them cookies,” said Ferriss. Because making cookies, eating cookies, it’s on behalf of nothing, it’s not so you can plan something in the future. The experience, the communal bonding, the smelling, the tasting is all present tense.”
To hear the life-hack master, someone so closely tied to San Francisco’s ultra-competitive startup culture, conclude a captivating discussion with a simple plea to bake more cookies, was exactly what the room, and quite possibly our nation, needs. And in the spirit of the New Year, here are 5 additional Tim Ferriss-inspired tips on how to make 2017 your best year yet.
Take time to prioritize what matters to you in 2017.
Ferriss will be taking four weeks to reflect on what he wants to accomplish in 2017. Its unlikely any of us have that kind of flexibility, but it’s important to set aside time to reflect on what your priorities will be for 2017, before diving right in.
You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
It’s as simple as it sounds. You are the physical, mental, spiritual sum of the five people you associate with. You need to surround yourself with people who support your goals. And this group of 5 can and should evolve depending upon those goals.
Follow what excites you. Don’t be ashamed of your choices. Read what you want to read.
The quickest way to feel uninspired is to blindly follow someone else’s reading list. If you want to read a book about quantum psychics, do it. If you want to read the fifth Harry Potter book for the fifth time, do it! Any type of reading stokes the imagination. Ferriss loves Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass series, even though they’re written for teens.
But DO push yourself to at least try new things. If you’re a non-fiction junkie, challenge yourself to read one good fiction book, and vice versa.
If you zig when other people zag, then you can engineer miracles.
Don’t try to beat BuzzFeed at salacious headlines. Don’t try to compete with a hedge fund in investing. Don’t try to beat Tiger Woods at golf. When you sense that a market is saturated with competitors, do the opposite. Be different.
Scratch your own itch.
For Ferriss, his most successful projects, are things he initially did for himself. Do what you know and what you want to see more of yourself. Then you’re guaranteed to have a built-in market of at least one (and as Ferris points out, that’s more than many startups can say).