The menu in the Slovak Republic: full-contact video below.
Long time no see! I just landed back in CA from a long overdue mini-retirement through London, Scotland, Sardinia, Slovak Republic, Austria, Amsterdam, and Japan.
Some unpleasant surprises awaited me when I checked in on the evil e-mail inbox. Why? I let them happen.
I always do.
Here are just a few of the goodies that awaited me this time:
-One of our fulfillment companies has been shut-down due to the president’s death, causing a 20%+ loss in monthly orders and requiring an emergency shift of all web design and order processing.
-Missed radio and magazine appearances and upset would-be interviewers.
-More than a dozen lost joint-venture partnership opportunities.
It’s not that I go out of my way to irritate people — not at all — but I recognize one critical fact: oftentimes, in order to do the big things, you have to let the small bad things happen. This is a skill we want to cultivate.
What did I get in exchange for temporarily putting on blinders and taking a few glancing blows?
-I followed the Rugby World Cup in Europe and was able to watch the New Zealand All Blacks live, a dream I’ve had for the last 5 years.
-I was able to shoot every gun I’ve ever dreamed of firing since brainwashing myself with Commando. Bless the Slovak Republic and their paramilitaries (video at the end of this post).
-I was able to film a television series pilot in Japan, a lifelong dream and the most fun I’ve had in months, if not years.
-I met with my Japanese publisher, Seishisha (Tel: 03-5574-8511) and had media interviews in Tokyo, where the 4HWW is now #1 in several of the largest chains.
-I took a complete 10-day media fast and felt like I’d had a two-year vacation from computers.
-I attended the Tokyo International Film Festival and hung out with one of my heroes, the producer of the Planet Earth television series.
Once you realize that you can turn off the noise without the world ending, you’re liberated in a way that few people ever know.
Just remember: if you don’t have attention, you don’t have time. Did I have time to check e-mail and voicemail? Sure. It might take 10 minutes. Did I have the attention to risk fishing for crises in those 10 minutes? Not at all.
As tempting as it is to “just check e-mail for one minute,” I didn’t do it. I know from experience that any problem found in the inbox will linger on the brain for hours or days after you shut-down the computer, rendering “free time” useless with preoccupation. It’s the worst of states, where you experience neither relaxation nor productivity. Be focused on work or focused on something else, never in-between.
Time without attention is worthless, so value attention over time.
Here are a few questions that can help you put on the productivity blinders and put things in perspective. Even when you’re not traveling the world, develop the habit of letting small bad things happen. If you don’t, you’ll never find time for the life-changing big things, whether important tasks or true peak experiences. If you do force the time but puncture it with distractions, you won’t have the attention to appreciate it.
-What is the one goal, if completed, that could change everything?
-What is the most urgent thing right now that you feel you “must” or “should” do?
-Can you let the urgent “fail” — even for a day — to get to the next milestone with your potential lifechanging tasks?
-What’s been on your “to-do” list the longest? Start it first thing in the morning and don’t allow interruptions or lunch until you finish.
Will “bad” things happen? Small problems will crop up, yes. A few people will complain and quickly get over it. BUT, the bigger picture items you complete will let you see these for what they are–minutiae and repairable hiccups.
Make this trade a habit. Let the small bad things happen and make the big good things happen.
[This post kicked up some strong comments! If you'd like to see my responses, just search for "###" in the comments.]
-Here is another signed original 4HWW manuscript with the bonus stories that didn’t make it into the published version! Perhaps you saw recently that a 1st-printing Harry Potter fetches more than $40K. 4HWW is no Harry Potter yet, but unedited manuscripts are a rarer item. The Ebay auction is here, and you have 72 hours. The last one sold for $1,525 and there were 8 copies available. Now there are only 6 left. The total winning bid will be donated to this school in Nepal, where your name will appear on a plaque on the door. If you would like to skip the auction, just PayPal $2,000 for however many copies you want (max of 5) to timothy-at-brainquicken.com. The total will also be donated to education. If someone beats you to the punch, I’ll refund you.
-For those interested, I’m featured on pg. 67 of this month’s Men’s Fitness. Nothing fitness-related, just 4HWW stuff.
-I did a fun interview on .SAP INFO, where I talk about all things quantifiable.
Weapons of Mass Distraction: boys love guns. I’m sorry, but that’s how we are wired, especially at $80 for a full Soviet arsenal, complete with anti-tank machine gun. Don’t worry, I’m just a target shooter. No strapping guns to my bed just yet.
As an agnostic New Yorker, he attempted to follow every rule of the Bible literally for an entire year.
I read an advanced copy of his new book, The Year of Living Biblically, this past July, and it blew my mind. It is AMAZING. Now it’s finally out, and I’m allowed to talk about it. I learned more about religion in this book than in all previous books combined, and I laughed so hard I almost got kicked out of two airports. Here’s a Q&A with my friend AJ on his incredible experience:
You call yourself an “agnostic Jew” in the book. Why did you even decide to do this? What could the possible benefit be?
This was my most radical experiment yet. It affected everything I did: the way I ate, talked, dressed, thought, and touched my wife.
I did it because I wanted to see if I was missing anything. And I have to say, the benefits were huge. I’ve carried over a lot of thinking and behavior from my Year of Living Biblically. Even if you aren’t particularly religious (in fact, even if you’re a diehard atheist), I believe there are lessons to be learned from the Bible and a biblical lifestyle.
What was hardest for you?
Two types of rules were hardest for me. First, there was avoiding the sins we commit every day: no lying, no gossiping, no coveting. I’m a journalist in New York. That’s like 70 percent of my day.
The second type of difficult rules were those that will get you into trouble if you follow them in modern-day America. For instance, the Old Testament rule that you should stone adulterers. Luckily, I was able to stone one adulterer. I was in the park dressed in my biblical garb (white clothes, a beard, sandals, walking stick) and a man came up to me and asked why I was dressed so strangely. He seemed hostile right from the start. I explained to him my project. And he said “I’m an adulterer. Are you going to stone me?” I said, “That would be great.”
I took out a handful of pebbles, because the Bible never specifies the size of the stones. This man actually grabbed the stones from my hand and chucked them at my face. I felt I had the right to retaliate, so I tossed a pebble at him. And in that way I stoned.
Do you think many people are misguided in their “creed over deed” mentality?
[Note from Tim: "Creed over deed" refers to people who value religious belief more than moral behavior. "Deed over creed" would be the opposite.]
I wouldn’t say misguided. But I’d say most of us do underestimate the power that behavior has to shape thought.
It’s astounding. I watched it happen to myself. For instance, I forced myself to stop gossiping, and eventually I started to have fewer petty thoughts to gossip about. I forced myself to help the needy, and found myself becoming less self-absorbed. I never became Ghandi or Angelina Jolie, but I made some strides.
I even watched it happen with prayer. After a year of praying, I started to believe there’s something to the idea of sacredness. It was remarkable. So if you want to become someone different, just start acting like the person you want to be. It’s like that business motto “fake it till you make it,” but it works on a spiritual and ethical level as well.
Even with my wardrobe, I saw how the outer affects the inner. There’s a line in the Bible that says “your garments should always be white.” I decided to take that literally, and walked around in white clothes. It affected my mood. I felt happier, lighter. Clothes make the man. I felt I couldn’t be in a bad mood if I looked like I was about to play the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
What were some of the greatest benefits of following rules to the letter, and what are the things that have stuck with you since ending the experiment?
It was fascinating. I’d always loved freedom of choice. It’s why I went to a loosey-goosey liberal arts college with no core requirements. But this experiment was all about freedom FROM choice. Or at least a minimal-choice lifestyle. I had a set structure: Should I read the gossip magazine about Cameron Diaz’s latest sex romp? No. Should I give 10 percent of my money to the needy? Yes. Should I turn off my email on the Sabbath (as both the Bible and Tim Ferriss recommend)? Yes.
In fact, there was something Ferriss-esque about the entire way of living. It reminded me of your low-information diet, for instance. In some ways, it was a huge time-saver.
What would you call yourself now?
I’d call myself a “reverent agnostic.” Whether or not there is a God, I believe there’s something to the idea of sacredness. Rituals can be sacred. The Sabbath can be sacred. And there’s an importance to that.
I’d also say that I’m a fan of cafeteria spirituality. During my experiment, I learned that you cannot follow the entire Bible. It’s impossible. You must pick and choose. Everyone does it, whether they admit it or not. Otherwise, we’d end up stoning adulterers on the street.
Some call this “cafeteria religion,” and it’s meant as a disparaging phrase. But I say: There is nothing wrong with cafeterias! I’ve had some great meals at cafeterias. I’ve also had some turkey tetrazzini that made me dry heave. The key is to chose the right dishes, the ones about compassion and tolerance, and leave the ones about hatred and intolerance on the side. So in my year, there was this amazing balance between choosing your religion, which then leads to fewer decisions on a daily basis.
And finally, I’d call myself a reformed individualist. I still see the value of individualism, but I’ve taken it down a few notches. As one of my spiritual advisers told me, you can look at life in one of two ways: As a series of rights and entitlements, or as a series of responsibilities. The biblical way is to look at it as a series of responsibilities, to your family and to your society. It’s like the JFK quote, ask not what your country (or world) can do for you, ask what you can do for your country (or world).
What was the hardest for your wife to put up with?
Well, my wife’s a saint. At one point, I built a biblical hut in our living room, and she didn’t appreciate the construction project in our apartment. Also, the Bible says not to touch women during that time of the month. Even more strictly, though, it says you shouldn’t sit in a seat where an “impure” woman has sat. My wife didn’t like that, so in retaliation, she sat on every seat in our apartment. I was forced to do a lot of standing that year.
Do yourself a favor, whether you’re a bible beater or a beret-wearing atheist, and go get AJ’s book. I put more notes in this book than any book in recent memory.
ODDS AND ENDS:
-Exclusive 90-Minute Marketing and PR Teleconference with Tim Ferriss:
I will be offering an exclusive 90-minute teleconference (date to be mid- or end of November) to discuss marketing and PR in the web 2.0 and social media era. This will be a one-time event and the cost is $125, with all registration money going to LitLiberation and helping US public school students. Line space is very limited, as we will be taking questions at the end, so I encourage you to sign up now before we cut off registration. To sign up for this one-time event, please go to PayPal.com (you can use your credit cards to pay) and send $125 to timothy-at-brainquicken.com. We might increase the price as space gets limited. Call-in info will come via e-mail in the first week of November, and we’ll post a “FULL” notice on this post when we cut off registration. I cannot tell you the exact date of the call, but if you pay and then cannot attend, I will simply refund you in full — no worries.
Oktoberfest is good for reactivating German but bad for livers. ((c) Dave77459)
How can you possibly maintain fluency in two foreign languages — let alone five or six — if the opportunities to use them are months or years apart?
In 20 minutes, I leave from JFK for Iceland, then Scotland, and then a circle in Europe that will include Oktoberfest in Munich. Germany is strategic, as I want to “reactivate” my German before the media tour there.
Few topics provoke more anxiety and depression in language lovers than the prospect of forgetting a hard-earned language. After you return to your English-dominated homeland, how do you maintain your newfound skills, which seem to have yogurt-like expiration dates? Having juggled close to a dozen languages — keeping some and losing others — and having suffered the interference that goes it all, my answer now is simple: you don’t.
It is easier, and much more time-efficient, to catch up versus keep up.
Why struggle to maintain a foreign tongue in the US, for example, when you most often gain nothing more than bad habits? If you acquire the language in a native environment and attain an intermediate or advanced level of fluency, you can reactivate your language skills in four weeks or less when approached methodically. Would you rather spend four hours per week on your new language, only to see it get sick and bloated with a distinctly foreign-sounding twang, or spend two hours per day for 1-3 weeks and be right back at your fluency level from years prior?
I began reactivation of irretrievable German just over a week ago and can already hold a decent conversation. This is not a testament to my ability, but to the efficacy of a process that begins with massive passive exposure and avoids time-consuming review from square one:
1. Days 1-7: German films with English subtitles for at least two hours each evening for one week.
2. Days 3+: 10-20 pages of dialogue-rich manga (Japanese comics, here translated into German, that can be ordered in most languages from comic stores in your target country) for 30 minutes each morning and prior to bed. I’m a big fan of One Piece.
3. On the plane: Read a phrasebook in its entirety for active recall practice of common phrases (45 minutes of study alternated with 15 minutes of rest — this takes advantage of what is called the “primacy and recency” effect).
4. Upon arrival: Continue with manga and grammar reference checks as needed, using an electronic dictionary to reactivate vocabulary from conversation that is familiar but not understood.
5. Weeks 2-3: Thirty to sixty Vis-Ed flashcards daily. This seems like a lot, but most will have been covered in steps 1-3 using active recall (English to German). Vis-Ed compiles its sets of flashcards from word frequency lists and includes sample phrases for usage. I begin flashcards after three or four days in-country.
The sooner you decide to reactivate languages when needed, instead of maintaining them for an unspecified time in the future, the more leisure time you will have and the less diluted your language abilities will be when you need them.
Don’t fear losing languages if you’ve attained real fluency. They’re just in temporary storage with the covers pulled over them.
Odds and Ends: Please vote for me, and be on the CBS Early Show!
There are only 24 hours left… if you haven’t, please vote for my panel at the SXSW conference! It takes about 30 seconds and will allow me to pull together some of the best entrepreneurial minds in the world. Check out all of the panels and vote here.
ASAP: Would you like to be on the CBS Early Show? They are doing a segment on personal outsourcing and are looking for fun case studies in New York City (or people willing to travel there). If you are in/near NYC and have a good success story of using personal outsourcing, please share them in the comments here and I’ll pass your e-mail address to the producers!
What is the true cost of your commute? One example comes from 4HWW reader Troy Gardner, who recently wrote to me:
I’m still work focused (I like creating things!), but since I control my time/location, I’m reaping some of the rewards of being among the New Rich. My girlfriend and I will be spending the entire month of October visiting Chicago and Hawaii. Since I’m project/laptop based I can work during the evenings/free time, while spending the time out and about, finally learning surfing, and maybe kiteboarding etc.
Here is his experience, in his own words, of going from shocked awareness to blissful mobility… Read More
Pocari Sweat, not to be confused with Calpis
I am a consummate consumer in the literal sense.
Beverages, perhaps more than any other indulgence, have fascinated me from my first sip of Pocari Sweat in Japan. From Brazil to Zimbabwe, each locale has its superstar drink, and some are as defining of the culture as the people themselves. Here are my top 8 beverages in the world:
Paulaner is one of the six main breweries in Bavaria, and their incredible kellerbier is the only beer in the world that I love. I generally hate beer, but this is as pure as snow and as smooth as silk. It’s a good thing, too, as bottled water is more expensive than brewskies in Munich.
Tanzanian peaberry coffee beans, freshly brewed with a simple Krup machine, are near perfect for curing AM grogginess. The only close competitor for early-morning favorites would be Kenya AA coffee, which ups the caffeine but sacrifices some flavor. The former is more elegant, the latter more brute force.
Vinho verde, so named for the ripeness and not the color, is sweet and refreshing, perfect for a hot and humid early evening in Lisbon. If you don’t like fruity wines (think Zinfandel), you might be better off trading green wine for a drier Napa Valley Pinot Noir.
#5. Pocari Sweat (Tokyo, Japan)
Not to be confused with the always amusing Calpis Water, Pocari Sweat is the post-exercise darling of Japan. Clear and less sugar-laden than Gatorade, it rehydrates without causing stomach upset and helps you recover from the oppressive heat in a heartbeat.
Acai, an Amazonian berry, can be found on any beach in Rio. Generally served with a dash of guarana syrup for caffeine and a guaranteed sugar rush, it looks like purple frozen yogurt and is delicious with a bit of granola or banana on top. Just keep an ear open for “acai, acai, acaiiiiiiii!” and look for tan men carrying coolers on their hips or heads.
The famous “dragon well” tea of the western lake district is well known for good reason. It is one of the top 10 best-regarded teas in China and delivers a beautiful combination of lightness, mild taste, and immediate alertness.
Mugicha is the anti-heat weapon of choice for millions of Japanese and Koreans. It has a strong flavor, but the few sessions it takes to acclimate and appreciate this unique drink is well worth it. It improves circulation and, in so doing, helps decrease body temperature more than simple ice water. A delicious but acquired taste.
#1. Yerba Mate (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Consumed from a gourd, and replete with a straw that strains the leaves for you, yerba mate is the food of the gods. It contains three stimulants (caffeine like coffee, theophylline like green tea, and theobromine like cocoa) and provides an extended increase in mental performance without a subsequent crash. I love “Cruz de Malta” brand, and I credit this beverage with producing my first book. Pura vida!
German Riesling or real Thai Red Bull? Mexican horchata or Panamanian passionfruit? What is your favorite liquid Epicurean delight?
Want to learn how I hit #1 on the Wall Street Journal and #4 on the New York Times with no advertising or offline PR? Here’s a chance to hear what I did, step-by-step…
I’m aiming for #1 on the New York Times business list this month.
I was #2 last month, beaten by “Outrage”, which is political and shouldn’t be on the business list at all. Arghh! Here’s what I’m offering until end of day this Sunday, July 29: If you order 10 or more copies of 4HWW on BN.com (NOT Amazon) and send the email receipt to amy-at-fourhourworkweek.com with “BLOG BONUS” in the subject, I’ll send you an exclusive interview I did with Jack Canfield–who co-created “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and has sold more than 150 million books–in which I discuss exactly how I planned and executed my blog launch for the book. This interview cannot be bought, and this offer is only good until end of day this Sunday, July 29. Get your ten or more copies for friends, colleagues, clients and workaholic spouses or children here!
Remember the treehouse and wild dog from Maui I mentioned a week ago? Here’s the video…
The incredible Sony VAIO VGN-TXN27N laptop. This beauty is less than 2″ thick and weighs 2.8 lbs. If I add a few ounces of weight with the extended battery (on the right) and trick it out, I can get 15 hours of battery life.
The name of the game in world travel is being “fashionably light.”
Hauling a five-piece Samsonite set around the planet is hell on earth. I watched a friend do this up and down dozens of subway and hotel staircases in Europe for three weeks, and — while I laughed a lot, especially when he resorted to just dragging or throwing his bags down stairs — I’d like to save you the breakdown. Trip enjoyment is inversely proportionate to the amount of crap (re: distractions) you bring with you.
Practice in 30-plus countries has taught me that packing minimalism can be an art.
I returned from Costa Rica last Wednesday, and have since landed in Maui, where I’ll stay for one week. What did I pack and why? Check out the video… Read More
My view from three hours ago in Fortuna, Costa Rica: Volcano Arenal (Photo from Arenal.net)
One of the most common questions I get is: what now? Following the book, what’s my next project? I have a few interesting ideas brewing, but one is bigger than all the rest combined: double the number of science majors in the US by 2012.
I want to change the world. But fundamentally overturning US education will some serious lateral thinking and allies. First things first…
Is it possible to start with just 200 books? I think it is.
No one expected the 4HWW to do what it’s done — least of all me — and I’ll like to give a little something back, something that might catalyze a domino-effect of entrepreneurial and innovative thinking.
Here’s the question I’d need your help with: where should I donate these first 200 books for the greatest effect? In other words, if you had 200 copies of the 4HWW and wanted to change the world, where would you send them?
To keep it manageable, I’d like to mail them in bundles of 25 books or more. I’ve thought of the Kauffman Institute, tradeshows where CEOs attend, undergraduate or high school entrepreneurship classes, as well as at-risk youth programs, but the question is: specifically who should I mail these to for a large ripple effect?
I post this question because I believe that crowdsourcing answers will get me much better results than operating on my guesswork and best estimates.
It all began with an e-mail from a reader last Thursday at 11:34pm tipping me off to the impossible. Fumbling for the remote, I caught it just in time — Jay Leno spoofing The 4-Hour Workweek! [Update: the link I had here has been deleted or exceeded bandwidth, so please post a new link in the comments if you find one!]
Despite Donny’s aggressive style, and the many funny responses to it, he was actually very encouraging and nice both before and after the show. That evening, I was called to CNBC for “On The Money,” and I’m now booked solid with traditional media for tomorrow, at which point I’m disappearing to Costa Rica to purge my mind of massive media overdose. I’ve had enough. No mas!
I actually canceled Thursday and Friday in NYC to make this escape, and I’ll be doing the few radio shows that remain from beachside in Central America, after which it’s off to tour an active volcano and drink mojitos. The flights, which I bought three hours ago and include the return to CA, were the same cost as two more nights in my NYC hotel. Which would you rather have?
Better yet–what’s the worst thing that could happen if you arranged to take Thursday and/or Friday off?
Don’t answer now, but give it some thought. Those who dare (I encourage you) can give it a shot and share their results here.
Free Live Q&A with Tim Ferriss:
Due to the overwhelming number of e-mail my poor virtual assistants have been receiving, I’ll be holding my first ever live public Q&A to answer some of the most common questions about the 4HWW, some never-before-answered questions about origins and mistakes, and also questions from listeners! Sign up and send us your question here: http://www.timferrissbooktour.com/
I spend a good amount of time at the offices of Podtech, usually stealing their Diet Dr. Pepper and hanging out on their bean bags. A few weeks ago, however, I managed to do something resembling “work”: an interview with uberblogger Robert Scoble. This time, I was the interviewee! The camera work is much better than my Blair Witch Project attempts in previous posts.
The first interview below is 50 minutes in length and my favorite version by far — lots of goodies from both me and Robert, including everything from e-mail and personal outsourcing to the book launch and how to combine 4HWW with Getting Things Done (GTD). It’s a very fun conversation. The second version is just an 8-minute appetizer but still a fun diversion. Here are both options, the longer version first, and you might need to turn up your computer volume, as we had no lavalier mics:
Work only four hours a week with Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss wrote a New York Times best seller. Why is it so hot? Because it lays out how you can work less and enjoy life more. Here, I sit down with Tim and talk about some of the ideas he discusses in his book.
Editor’s Choice: Some insightful highlights of Tim Ferriss’ interview
If you’re really following Tim’s plan, you’ll just watch the highlights of the interview I did with this New York Times’ best selling author. He wrote the book on the 4-hour Workweek, and here you get the highlights of an interview I did with him recently.