Energy, Sex & Eating Insects with Tim Ferriss – #354
By: Dave Asprey
Why You Should Listen –
Today from the Bulletproof Radio vaults comes an episode with the 4-Hour man himself, Tim Ferriss. Tim is multiple-time New York Times bestseller for his 4-Hour Workweek, 4-Hour Body and 4-Hour Chef books, and is the host of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast. On this episode of Bulletproof Radio, Dave and Tim discussed eating insects, why he doesn’t use Modafinil, tracking hacking, Yerba Maté and more. Enjoy the show!
Follow Along with the Transcript!
Female: Bulletproof Radio, a state of high performance.
Dave: Hey, it’s Dave Asprey with Bulletproof Radio. Today’s episode is a remastered version of one of the best interviews I’ve done to date. You’re totally going to love it and I promise you that I will not take your time to direct your attention to something that isn’t absolutely stellar, so enjoy this episode. We’ve remastered it for you. What this is doing is it’s freeing up a little bit of time for me to finish the new book, and it’s also making sure that you’ve seen the most important, most impactful, most useful content, because I believe, really deeply with Bulletproof Radio, that given that we’re pushing 50 million downloads, the number of hours that are consumed just listening to Bulletproof Radio is more than 100 human lifetimes. That’s kind of a big responsibility. I’m not going to waste your time – not with numbers like that – so this is one of those interviews that you absolutely have to hear.
Today’s cool fact of the day is that entomophagists are humans who eat insects, and there are about 1,000 types of insects known to be eaten in 80% of the world’s cultures. From a nutritional perspective, grasshoppers and crickets have about 14 to 28 grams of protein in three and a half ounces, but if you like your insects to taste like bacon, you should try the African palm weevil – which I haven’t tried yet, but I would – which are commonly eaten in their larval form, and they taste like bacon which is what everything should taste like when we get bacon world domination to happen.
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Today’s guest needs no introduction, although I’ll introduce him briefly. He is Tim Ferriss, the New York Times Best Selling Author of three books, including The 4-Hour Work Week, 4-Hour Body, 4-Hour Chef. He’s been all over the media. More than 100 outlets. He lectures at Princeton. He’s a world-champion tango guy, Chinese kick boxer, an actor on a hit TV series in Hong Kong, and basically an all-around ass kicker. Tim, welcome to the show, man.
Tim: Thanks for having me.
Dave: You’ve got a new podcast of your own. What’s its name? Just so people who are listening to this, who would all love your podcast, can just download it right now?
Tim: Yeah, for sure. It’s The Tim Ferriss Show, which sounds very sort of egomaniacal. I was thinking of a lot of other things like The Tim Ferriss Experience, Experiment, you fill in the blank, but I didn’t want it to be mistaken for, say, a Joe Rogan tag along or something like that, so The Tim Ferriss Show it is. It’s five episodes. The idea is just applying the 80-20 principle to dissecting how people who are the best at what they do or world class, do what they do. That ranges from chess prodigies, the basis for Searching for Bobby Fischer like Josh Waitzkin, to tech investors to filmmakers, screen writers, musicians, and everything in between. That’s it.
Dave: It’s kind of an amazing idea to just ask the people who are good at stuff, how they do it, instead of having to slog through it yourself. That’s kind of cheating, Tim-Ferriss style, in a way that I respect greatly. Are you a cheater?
Tim: I wouldn’t say a cheater. I think that the content that I’ve lost by not recording the audio and video for, say, the research for The 4-Hour Body is one example, makes me sad. It makes me irritated with myself sometimes, because the process of unearthing these hidden gems is really just a process of asking better questions or asking uncommon questions. The interviews that I do on The Tim Ferriss Show are exactly that. It’s showing how I ask a series of questions of these people who are top performers – in many cases very unorthodox top performers – so that I can find things that can be replicated. It’s very much along the lines of a lot of the stuff that you do as well, and to show people that it’s not a super-human gift to figure these things out. It’s a better tool kit. That’s all it is.
Dave: (chuckles) Tools make us more human than not. All right. I didn’t think we were going to jump into this right away, but you just said something that triggered it. I have this theory that like a gazillion years ago – we won’t go into exactly how many years ago – there were these two cavemen, and one of them came back with fire from a lightning strike, and he said, “I will keep cave warm, augh.” Or “Grock,” actually, and a shout out to Mark Sisson there. Then the other guy was like, “That might not be safe. Let’s not use it.” One of those two cavemen is our ancestor, right? (laughs) “It’s cold, I died.” Are smart drugs like fire?
Tim: I think they actually are. That’s a great analogy. I think they’re like fire or they’re like a really sharp chef’s knife. I think that they can be used for benefit and they can certainly be used to severely damage yourself and other people. I think that the dose makes the poison, right? A controlled fire is one thing, versus a fire that consumes your house and everyone in it. The judicious and intelligent use of, say, a scalpel or a kitchen knife is one thing, as opposed to running with a pair of scissors, and landing, and having it go through your head. You can look at use of smart drugs and find both good examples – informed examples of use – and very haphazard examples of use. A lot of it comes down to, number one, doing your homework, and number two, experimenting and having some ability to track. In my case, I do very extensive blood testing, among other things, and tend not to go more than four to eight weeks without blood testing.
Dave: Wow. You’re that often, huh? Weeks?
Tim: Yeah. Yeah, I do it really, really frequently.
Dave: Is that the full wellness effects panel? I know we’re both advisors on WellnessFx. Do you do the full one?
Tim: Yeah, I do the full Cadillac, everything. I’m doing another draw this Friday, for instance, because I did all of last month without alcohol and have made a couple of changes to my diet, and I want to see what the effects are before I get fully back into the swing of bourbon, and wine, and all that stuff.
Dave: I am so intrigued about those results. You’re going to blog about that obviously, right?
Tim: Yeah, I think I’ll probably write a before and after.
Dave: When you do, as soon as I see it I’ll retweet that, because I’ve been writing a lot about what aldehyde spikes in the liver do and what you can do to work on that. A lot of people are using the glutathione that I make, to reduce that spike, or they’re taking masses of vitamin C and all that just to have less of a hangover, but I’ve found from my own … More from cognitive abilities, and really from the visual labs I eat, I grow a muffin top. When I drink, I just don’t perform as well for about four days, like my brain just isn’t quite perfect. I don’t remember every word that should just flow – like they stick – and it drives me nuts, so I just decided it’s not really going to work and I can’t biologically justify it in a way that makes sense as a positive, so, god, I’m so intrigued at your results. That’s going to be an epic post.
Tim: Yeah. I’m excited about it and to come back to something else that you mentioned also, I think that the way we’re talking about smart drugs, and as you know I’ve tried a million different things as have you, so ranging … I mean we could get into it, [Vaspress 00:08:26] and Hydergine, you name it, Modafinil, I’ve tried a lot of these. I generally have two assumptions when I’m doing experiments. The first is, one I mentioned, which is the dose makes the poison. It tends to be, let’s just say, an inverted work … No, it’s more of a bell-shaped curve of effect and side effect. In my mind, they’re typically rather correlated, where at some point, the dose-to-benefit ratio is off. You could take something that’s thought of as very innocuous like water, and you can kill someone through over-consumption of water. It’s actually very common in marathons because people view dehydration as this demon, which has been, of course, propagandized by a lot of companies like Gatorade, so they over-consume and then dilute their electrolyte balance to the point where their heart can no longer function.
Vitamin C is another example. I’m a huge proponent and consumer of vitamin C, but the fact of the matter is, if you do an IV drip of vitamin C and you put 100 grams into someone over a short enough period of time, a lot of people will go into a diabetic coma and potentially die from the experience – so the dose makes the poison is kind of number one.
Then number two is, I just assume – and this may be accurate, it may not be – that there’s typically no biological-free lunch. If there’s a strong effect – there’s typically a side effect, or side effects, or unknown effects – you might want to say, which can be beneficial or be very deleterious, if you don’t know what they are, it’s your job to figure out what they are. That’s typically how I think about these things.
Dave: It sounds like you’ve come from a world of lots of experience experimenting with smart drugs. The one I was most concerned about was Modafinil, because I took it pretty much daily at varying doses for eight years. It really changed my world, because I did not understand the core biology about why I wasn’t performing the way I wanted to. I was going to work and I was working full time at a start-up that we sold for $600 million, and I was burning the candle at both ends and two places in the middle, right? I felt like maybe I am cheating, so before a test I would put the Vasopressin, and the Hydergine, and the Modafinil on the desk in front of me. I’m like, it’s only doping if you don’t tell everyone so they have a fair advantage. Whether some of my colleagues in school might have occasionally taken some non-prescription smart drugs, for me, is up to them to talk about, but I didn’t want to be that guy who was cheating, so I decided to be public. Modafinil was my LinkedIn profile 10 years ago. I’m like, I’m just going to put it in here, like all things disclosed, right? What do you think the down sides of Modafinil are? If you’re familiar enough with the pharmacology of it. I don’t know.
Tim: I’ve looked at Provigil’s Modafinil. I’ve looked at Nuvigil. I’m honestly not familiar enough with the pharmacokinetics and the actual biochemistry of Modafinil to have a fantastically informed conversation about it. I do recall at one point – and I’d love for you to correct me if I’m wrong – that as is the case often times with even prescription medications, sometimes the mechanisms are not entirely understood. They are hypothesized to work in a certain way, but not exactly understood, and that can often relate to, say, a new target of some type, so they act as an agonist or an antagonist for receptor. They may be poorly understood or partially understood.
Modafinil, I’ve used before and it has spectacular results. It really does. It performs as advertised. I actually became familiar with it a long time ago when it was being used by sprinters with narcolepsy, and also since that run … Those two correlate so highly. Military, who of course are very well-known for using uppers and downers. They’ve used like greenies, a methamphetamine plus any number of different sleeping medications to turn them off.
Modafinil is one of those drugs that I seem to have a certain sensitivity to, much like – and this is very common – Viagra. You have to be very careful with, let’s say, vasodilators or constrictors. I get a very sharp pain, like a very acute migraine-like pain, from using Modafinil for more than one day. That to me is a cue just to be very, very careful and particularly when it relates to any type of cerebral sensitivity. Of course, you know this, but that’s been really brought into high-def for me with the unfortunate passing of Seth Roberts recently.
Dave: I was shocked to hear that.
Tim: Yeah, I mean, very otherwise healthy guy from all outward indications, drops dead on a hiking trail in Berkley from what appeared to be – and there may be more information that’s brought this to light – but I think it was a cerebral hemorrhage or some type of aneurysm. There are a lot of theories as to why this may have happened. One of which is that it appears he was consuming ten times the suggested higher-tolerance dose for flaxseed oil and other types of oils, which can be dangerous. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to support increased frequency of, say, intestinal bleeding or stomach bleeding, if you consume massive, massive quantities of fish oil, for instance. I’m particularly sensitive to Modafinil, so it’s not something I use on a very highly frequent basis. Oddly enough, I get the question, “What’s your favorite smart drug?” a lot. I’ve tried …
Dave: All of them.
Tim: Yeah, you look at my pharmacy I have in my house and it’s like, “Well, what are you feeling like today? Would you like phenylpiracetam, or aniracetam, or maybe you don’t want the racetams. How about, whatever?” I have all of them, but for creative work, for synthesis and connecting dots I might otherwise connect, yerba mate is still my favorite. I mean, yerba mate tea and consumed over a long period of time … This is another point I’d encourage people to think about, is a substance or a chemical is a highly … The effect of a chemical is highly dependent on its means of administration, right? You take, for instance, testosterone. You could have a gel, an injectable, an oral. The way that that affects your body, the way that affects your liver, the way that determines dosing, side effects, very, very different. Similarly with yerba mate, you have, let’s say, bagged yerba mate for tea bags, you have iced yerba mate that you can get in ready-to-drink packages, neither of which give me the effect of filling a gourd. In this case, I actually have a metal container, a small metal container, with the yerba mate leaves and then sort of sipping it over the span of, say, an hour or two, which is how they traditionally consume it in Argentina, or Uruguay, or any of these places.
It has, at least based on my understanding, it has the stimulants you would find in coffee, right? Methylxanthine, green tea, theophylline, and then dark chocolate like theobromine. You get, therefore, three very different pharmacokinetic profiles, meaning – for those people who don’t know the term – the rate at which those peak in your blood plasma. For me, I get a two-to-three-hour steady, even-keeled, moderate high, cognitively, from sipping yerba mate that is just the perfect storm, for me, for writing.
Dave: You’ve inspired something. I’ve enjoyed the taste of yerba mate but never gone after the high from it. One of the reasons Bulletproof Coffee works is when you’re blending the butter, and specifically the brain octane, you get small micelles that cross the gut barrier more easily. They carry in basically the pharmaco-active things in the coffee – the coffee oils and the other chemicals. I’m going to try it with yerba mate and blend it up that way, to see if basically I can boost the levels of those things that get past the gut – which is intriguing and exciting.
Tim: I’ll tell you, actually, I’ve done some experiments. Surprise, surprise. Not with yerba mate, but there was a period of time where I was traveling quite heavily, and I love Pu-erh tea and I also love green tea. Pu-erh, despite the fact that it’s dark, tends to be lower in caffeine or stimulant properties, so I would combine the Pu-erh with the green tea, and then I would blend it with Kerry Golds and a small amount of MCTs – in this case, coconut oil. I ended up later experimenting with caprylic acid. I’m not sure how much you’ve played around with caprylic acid.
Dave: That is my … Brain octane is made out of … It’s actually tricaprylic. You need to have all three molecules in the right place.
Tim: Adjusting for gut tolerance, which is to say adjusting to avoid disaster pants, I ended up with this fat tea concoction that really seemed to magnify the effects of the tea, so I could get by. I had my stash of tea and it was going to last a very limited period of time, so I was sort of extending my stash by combining them. It should work. The challenge, I’d be curious to see, with yerba mate is how good it is for creativity, simply because to get enough volume of yerba mate tea to blend it with the butter or the MCTs, would necessitate a higher dose at once, if that makes sense. You’d have to steep it for a potentially longer period of time. Anyway, I’ll read about it, so definitely …
Dave: I’ll go ahead and try it, because I never thought of that until you just mentioned this, so thank you, Tim.
Tim: Of course.
Dave: That’s cool. When I’m doing writing, probably … Well, Bulletproof Coffee. For some reason, I get most creativity at night, so this is biologically destructive, but if I just really want to do 10,000 words, it’s like 11pm, Bulletproof Coffee, aniracetam stacked with phenylpiracetam, and some CILTEP. I’ve been helping Abelard Lindsay out on promoting CILTEP. That whole combination, I’m like, I’m good to go, and it’s like I just disappear and then like eight or nine hours later, there’s all these words, and they’re good, right? That kind of flow state.
Tim: Yeah, definitely, and CILTEP is great stuff. I originally connected with Abelard. I ended up mentioning the CILTEP stack in Wired magazine. This was well before he was producing it with, I guess, Natural Stacks as the brand? He’s close by, obviously. He’s kind of in the backyard up in NorCal, and I am a huge fan of the stack. What I find personally, and again, so much of this is dependent on your individual biochemical signature, I love CILTEP. If I use it, I just need to ensure that I can budget for like 10 to 12 hours of sleep that night, because I need to replenish whatever it is being put into hyper-drive, but for writing it’s fantastic. I found also, in terms of peak creative states, and I tend to use the word synthesis just because I realize for book writing myself – I could do the interviews, I could do the research, I could do the gathering throughout the day – but the only time I actually put out good drafts of finished content, a synthesis, was between, say, 10pm and like 5am, which is, like you said …
Dave: Oh, so you have that same window (chuckles)
Tim: Yeah, it’s horrible for you social life or any of your relationships. What I notice is that even people who write early, tend to do it before the rest of the world wakes up. It’s this kind of 10pm to a like 7:30, 8am range, that seems to be very consistent across all these top writers, musicians, artists. Actually, one of the books in my … I have a book club, and one of the books that struck me was Daily Rituals, which is about that 200 of these people, and it’s extremely consistent. You almost never find someone who’s like, “Yeah I do my best work after lunch.” Almost never happens.
Dave: Wow. By the way, how can people find out more about your book club? Because I just got your quarterly.co package that you just sent, kind of unexpectedly, and it was an awesome selection. You’re curating amazing stuff there, and I’m walking around all day long learning about grip strength. The beginner one, I could do it. Anyway, you pick out good stuff. Where can people learn about the books you’re recommending, because I’m totally going to read those. I’m joining your book club.
Tim: Yeah, the book club has been really fun. I’ve been basically acquiring rights to books that I think are under-appreciated and then promoting the living hell out of them. In some cases, producing audio books and things like that. If you just go to … The blog is Fourhourblog.com. F-O-U-R-H-O-U-R-B-L-O-G.com and then just either search Tim Ferriss book club – and there will be a dedicated page shortly – or look under topics and click on Book Club. There are four or five books thus far.
The quarterly stuff is really fun. Those are just objects, or books, or anything that I get obsessed with and can’t get out of my head, I put in these boxes for people once every three months. They can check that out just at quarterly.co/Tim.
You mentioned something. I was worried about maybe getting hungry while we were doing this, and it’s so crazy that this ties into your cool fact of the day. I have these things. I’ve been experimenting. I’m not sure if you’ve seen these. The EXO Cricket Flour bars.
Dave: I’m meeting with those guys I think in New York or somewhere in the next couple weeks. Yeah.
Tim: Yeah. Gabby and Greg are great and they’re working with the former head of R&D at the Fat Duck, which is the number one ranked restaurant in the world, to develop insect protein into an American mainstream food product, which is a huge challenge. I’ll be helping them. These may or may not pop up in your next quarterly box. There’s going to be a lot of fun stuff coming.
Dave: I just gave my kids cricket bars for the first time. I found some up here in Canada. It’s not the EXO brand, but the next time I’m in the States, I’m definitely going to be getting some of those because it’s a good idea. I’ll tell you, compared to soy or tofu, I’ll be eating crickets all day long.
Tim: Oh yeah. What’s so cool about cricket or insect protein in general … I think the whatever they were, not the witchetty grubs, but like the weevil worms, or whatever they were that you mentioned, they’re actually nicknamed jungle bacon – which, I could see a brand. You could sell it to Paleo people across the country. What’s so cool about insects – and I did a lot of research with insects during The 4-Hour Chef, I bought live insects of all different types and made food from them – is that unlike a lot of, say, isolate products, which I also consume, but crickets are very minimally processed. You basically just take live animals – this is very hard to do with cows, for instance – and you just grind them up and then you have this end product that has a complete amino-acid profile that lacks the phytoestrogens and other things that might be of concern with a lot of common sources otherwise. It also straddles this really interesting world where Paleo people and vegan people generally do not get along. This is one of those rare food sources that might actually straddle both of them. I’m curious to see how people respond to it.
Dave: I gave a talk at David Wolfe’s conference recently, who’s a raw vegan kind of guy, and I’ve got a lot of respect for him. I used to be a raw vegan, and raw vegans care as much about food quality as you or I do – it really matters what you put in your body. They might just like their vegetables not compressed as meat. I stood up and I said, “Guys, just a confession.” This was my opener. “I’m a lacto, ovo, beefo, porko, vegetarian.” I’m like, I’m either going down in flames for this 90-minute talk or they’re going to love me. The audience was really cool. I talked about butter and salt, and why they have a place in the human diet. End of the day, I think there’s more commonality between vegans and paleos than either side wants to think about. I’ve made fun of vegans every now and then because they’re so fun, but at the same time, I’ve been one, so it’s a little bit of self-referential.
Tim: No, agreed. Agreed. I think the polar extremes have more in common in almost any place than they have in common with the moderates in between. That’s true for fans and critics as well. I find, for instance, the … If you look at your fan base or my fan base, you find these polar extremes of people who love everything you put out regardless of what it is, and people who hate everything you put out regardless of what it is. What I’ve noticed is that – and this is not always the case, this isn’t necessarily true in veganism and paleo – but they’re the fastest to switch. If you slight, or if one of your die-hard fans has the perception of you having slighted them or mistreated them in some way, they can become your absolute worst nightmare.
Conversely, one of your die-hard haters, if you manage to convert them, can become your biggest supporter and most vocal supporter. It’s been very fascinating to watch that kind of stuff. I get a lot of weird stuff in terms of … Yeah, I’ve had death threats and all sorts of craziness, and people ask me, “Oh my God! Are you worried about your haters?” I’m like, “Well, I am, but on the other hand, I’m actually equally concerned for the fans who try to follow advice without doing their own homework and due diligence.”
Dave: Oh yeah, Tim. It’s worrisome, right? I had one guy who’s consuming 22 tablespoons of Brain Octane a day and I’m like … He’s asking me for advice and I’m like, “Dude, I have no idea. You could melt into a jellyfish substance tomorrow. No one’s ever done this in history and I don’t think you want to do that with your body, but I can’t stop you.” You’re holding a mantel where if you recommend something and then it doesn’t work or it harms people, do you feel personally responsible for that at some level?
Tim: Well I try to … My general process for testing this stuff is, number one, I test everything myself. Then once I’ve tested it on myself for safety first, efficacy second, then I will test it with other people who are sort of my core group of testers, which is a small group of people – men and women of different ages and ethnicities. Typically, the tests themselves come from my hypothesis that is formed after reviewing studies on, say, PubMed, or something like that. There’s some kernel of research or data in the beginning. Then only after that, will I make recommendations.
What I’ve realized though is that, if you provide anything that can be remotely hazardous, and you include instructions and warnings for how to avoid it being dangerous, you should assume that 10% of the people who read it are never going to pay any attention or any heed to the warnings. That’s why … For instance, I had a chapter on breath holding. David Blaine taught me how to hold my breath in The 4-Hour Body, and I personally – it was not anyone else asking to have it removed – I asked to have it removed because a number of people, nothing catastrophic happened, but people were not paying attention to the warnings. I said, “Look, do not practice this in water. If you’re ever going to try it, you sit in a chair and here’s how you practice.” Needless to say, there were people who were like, “Oh yeah, I’m going to go out to the public pool and try this tomorrow.” I’m like, “No, because if it’s six inches of water, or six feet, or sixty feet, if your face is immersed, it doesn’t matter, they can all kill you equally,” so I had it removed.
I feel a responsibility to teach people how to be good citizen scientists, and how to judge and separate good science from bad science. Once I provide that tool kit, I hold them responsible for what they do. I can point the direction and say, “I find this interesting, I have tried this,” but I do take the responsibility very seriously. I do believe that with great audience comes great responsibility. You have to assume that one out of every 1,000 fans, or readers, or customers you have, is completely bat-shit crazy. You have to account for that. If you have a million people, that’s a small army of crazy people. Then you have to assume that at least 10% are not going to read the directions. I keep both of those things in mind when I’m trying to design protocols that I might explain to people, because it is scary. It can be scary unleashing these things into the world that you hope will be consumed literally or metaphorically the way you intend them to be consumed.
Dave: I’ve found people still … I’ve made videos and all this. To me, making Bulletproof Coffee is pretty simple, but they put the butter in with the ground coffee inside the coffee maker and wonder why crap comes out. It’s like, “Guys, I don’t know how to make it any clearer.” I think that’s to your point, right? You don’t know what they’re going to do.
Okay, you have these people who are fans and you have these haters. Do you take the hater stuff personally, or what’s your strategy for not absorbing all that negative …? I receive similar stuff. Probably not the level you do because I’m nowhere near as well-known as you are, but all celebrities deal with this at some level or another.
Tim: Yeah. I think that there are a couple of things worth remembering. The most important is, you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I do pay attention to intelligent criticism even if occasionally it is … How should I put this? Less than diplomatic. It’s important not to assume that all critics, especially constructive criticism, is coming from haters, and use that label to disregard it. There are a couple of other things that I think are equally important to keep in mind, especially when every genius and every idiot has a voice on the internet, particularly with anonymity. That is, number one, it’s not about how many people don’t get it, it’s about how many people get it. Right? What is the critical mass of people you want to influence and affect, and how are you tracking that? What are your key performance indicators? What are the metrics you’re using to determine whether or not you are achieving your goal, assuming that it’s trying to impact a certain number of people at a certain magnitude? It’s about the number of people who get it, not the number of people who don’t.
Number two is, trying to appeal to all people is a sign of mediocrity. That’s actually paraphrasing a quote from Colin Powell. It’s very hard to do any job well if you are fragile in that way. There’s actually a quote that I like which is from Nassim Talib.
Dave: Like Antifragile stuff.
Tim: Exactly, and he actually e-mailed this to me before Antifragile came out and it was, “Robustness is when you care more about the few who like your work than the multitude who hate it.” Or “hates it,” in parentheses, “artists.” “Fragility is when you care more about the few who hate your work than the multitude who loves it.” Then in parentheses, “politicians.” I think that’s very critical to keep in mind as you interact with the world. In addition to that, I should say, just as a general rule, I don’t go out of my way to search for negativity. On YouTube for instance, it’s fine to enable comments. I’ll pay attention to a handful of things once and again, but if you look at any video and you scroll down, within the first 200 comments, Hitler is going to come up. Hitler or racist epithets will get thrown around within the first 200 comments. Does not matter what the video is. It could be a kitten video. It could be a non-profit video. It makes no difference.
I go out of my way to filter that kind of stuff out. The rule is, for instance, on my blog – and the blog comments make this very clear and I think this is part of the reason that my community is very well-known for being extremely positive and constructive – not always agreeing. The rule on my blog is, you can disagree and you can even attack me, but you can’t attack each other. If you attack one another, you’re going to get banned. I will blacklist you. I have no problem with it. I treat it as my living room. If I invite 10 dinner guests over, there can be a spirited debate, but you can’t call someone a fucking idiot. If you call someone a fucking idiot, you’re not going to get invited again. On the internet, that equals getting blacklisted. I enforce that very, very seriously. That doesn’t mean there are no critics. There are plenty of critics on my site who will provide me with very valuable feedback, but they do it in a way that is not insultingly confrontational.
Dave: The difference between, the facts are wrong or I have doubts about what you said, versus I have doubts about what you said, you scam artist, truant, or whatever they make up, right? I try to do the same thing. I’m not probably as gifted as you are at that, but if there’s personal attacks towards others – or honestly, if you want to say the same really negative stuff about me – I will delete the comment, because it brings negativity to everyone. If you want to say I’m wrong for a good reason, maybe I am wrong and then I don’t want to know it, right?
Tim: The number one rule, for me, is you’re not allowed to attack anyone else. You want to attack me, that’s fine. You attack another commenter and you make it an ad-hominem attack, you’re gone. You’re booted. This is a neighborhood. This is a tribe and whether you like it or not, you’re on my blog, that makes me the village elder. Play by the rules or you’re gone. Like any society, like any culture. You play by the rules or you get exiled. That’s it.
Dave: All right. I got another question for you. This has to do with creativity, and performance, and well, sex. You wrote about sex in 4-Hour Body, which was brilliant by the way. I’ve met lots of the characters that you mentioned there. What’s your experience, on the flip side, as a male, in terms of energy, creative force, and all of that, when it comes down to sex?
Tim: Do you mean biochemically speaking as it relates to testosterone or just …
Dave: We talk about getting in the zone for writing, so not just testosterone levels, but the guy who did … Wow, this doesn’t happen to me very often. Something wrong with my sleep apparently. The guy who wrote the first self-help book ever. Thinking Gerwich. Napoleon Hill is the guy I’m thinking of. Shouldn’t have taken that long to come up. My recall time’s off. More aniracetam.
Napoleon Hill has a whole chapter on, basically for guys, don’t orgasm too much. I did a [inaudible 00:36:32] myself talk a couple years ago where I measured taoist frequencies of male orgasm and how they effected overall happiness and thus performance.
You wrote so much about the woman’s side of sex in your book, but I was wondering if in the context of [inaudible 00:36:49] experiments, have you ever noticed, or quantified, or seen a difference in your own mental focus and energy with regards to sex?
Tim: Related to sex and male orgasm, this is a good news, bad news situation. The bad news is, if you look at studies of other species, the number of times – this kind of the mileage, so to speak – the number of times that the male ejaculates seems to be inversely correlated with lifespan. That’s the bad news. The good news is, at least in my experience sacrificing myself for science, I want to look at the actual physical determinants of this and I haven’t quite pinpointed it, but I think that if you are ejaculating from sex, that you can do it fairly frequently and still maintain the type of alertness, and drive, and practical aggression that comes from very healthy, if not optimal, sex hormone levels and so on. It would appear that if you’re going through the same physical act but using porn as the stimulus that, at least in my experience, very different outcome. Actually, I think biochemically, very different, which would make sense on some level – but I haven’t pinpointed all of the realities of that. I don’t think that to, say, aim for optimal cognitive performance, you have to abstain from sex for extended periods of time. Doesn’t seem to be the case.
Dave: It’s bad for you, yeah.
Tim: If you want to optimize for sperm count, and sperm morphology, and so on, it appears that around 72 hours is where you get the highest quality of sperm, so stopping yourself up for two weeks does not improve the outcome if you’re looking to, say, bank sperm, for instance.
Dave: It really lowers the outcome from my …
Tim: It does.
Dave: From fertility, yeah. It wasn’t a good idea. I think if you get into that … Google dopamine sensitivity and porn. I think what’s going on there is just higher spikes of dopamine in shorter periods of time so you get dopamine resistance. That’s a theory, but I don’t know if it’s the right theory.
Tim: Interesting. Interesting. Yeah, that could be it. It’s like insulin resistance. It’s porn-induced dopamine resistance.
Dave: (laughs) There’s probably some great acronym for that like [inaudible 00:36:49] or something. All right. We’re coming up on the end of the show, Tim. There’s a question that I’ve asked every guest except that one time when I forgot. The question is, if you had three pieces of advice for people – it doesn’t have to be from any of your books or anything like that, just your entire life experience – the three most important things to tell people who want to perform better, who want to kick more ass.
Tim: Yeah, that’s a good question. Let’s see. The first would be, you’re the average of the five people you associate with most, so pick your peer group. That’s physically, financially, emotionally, all of the above. You are the average of the five people you associate with most so pick those people very, very carefully.
Second would be, it’s about the people who get it, not the people that don’t get it. Related to our conversation about haters, focus on the impact you’re making, not the people who are nipping at your heels, who are the detractors. It’s worth watching the movie Ratatouille to listen to Anton Ego’s concluding speech for this.
Then point number three would be, have big goals. Read the book The Magic of Thinking Big. Have big goals that get you fucking excited. I think the main reason that people don’t do amazing things is they aim for what they perceive “realistic” goals. Have some big, crazy goals. Do some … Obviously with self-preservation in mind. Really aim for the stars, which sounds cliched. It was either Larry Page or Sergey Brin, so one of the wonder twins behind Google, who said, it’s something that a lot of people miss, is that when you aim really, really big – and I’m paraphrasing here, you can look it up – when you aim at something really huge, it’s hard to fail completely. The part that people miss, is they don’t realize it’s hard to fail completely. You usually get some tremendously amazing outcome. If you shoot at something big enough, Elon Musk style, it’s hard to fail completely, so think big. Those would be my three pieces of advice.
Dave: Well, you’re one of the probably top two people I ever wanted to get that piece of advice from, so thanks, Tim. Bad ass advice as I’d expect. One of the other guys, Robert Green, who’s agreed to be on the podcast as soon as we get our calendars lined up, also wrote Mastery. The two of you, I really want to know what’s in there. What a fantastic list.
All right, Tim, you have more projects than I can keep straight in my brain without more smart drugs than I took this morning. Give me a rundown of the URLs where people can find out about the cool stuff you’re doing including your Angel Investing, which I’m intrigued by.
Tim: Yeah, definitely. There are a couple places where people can see what I’m up to. the latest crazy experiments that I’m doing. The heartbeat of it all is the blog, Fourhourblog.com. F-O-U-R-H-O-U-R-B-L-O-G.com. You can also just Google Tim Ferriss blog and it’ll pop up. Twitter, I do a lot of my shorter-form links to studies, I poll my audience quite a bit, do some really fun stuff on Twitter. I have about 500,000 or so followers there. TFerriss. T-F-E-R-R-I-S-S. Facebook is just Tim Ferriss. Two R’s, two S’s.
If you’re interested in tech and Angel Investing, I have one of the largest syndicates on Angel List, which is a very, very fascinating site. I’m an advisor to the company. You can check it out, but I have about three … between three and four million dollars in committed capital for these start-up deals that I do. People who are outside of Silicone Valley can participate in these deals by backing my syndicate, which is a very, very new possibility. That’s just Angel.co. That is Angel List. If you go to Angel.co/Tim, you can see pretty much all the deals I’ve ever invested in, that I advise, deals that I am going to be syndicating soon. I have a couple of really interesting ones coming up. If you’re interested in tech, Angel.co is a great place to just learn about the players involved, and also to back the people that you would like to back.
Dave: Awesome. Your ITunes address? Where do people find different you in podcasts, which is awesome?
Tim: Thanks for the reminder. The Tim Ferriss Show has some really incredible top performers on it, and it’s fun, too. I do get drunk on a few of them, which I don’t recommend. It’s hard to write drunk and edit sober, as Hemingway, in audio. The Tim Ferriss Show has a lot of interesting folks on it, so just search Tim Ferriss with two R’s and two S’s on iTunes, and The Tim Ferriss Show will pop right up. I think it’s in the top 10 on iTunes, or top 15, at the moment across all of the podcasts.
Dave: That’s an accomplishment that is worthy of Tim Ferriss. Tim, thank you for being on the show. It’s an amazing honor to get to talk with you face-to-face, at least over Skype, and I hope we get a chance to meet in person sometime soon.
Tim: Yeah. Definitely. Thanks so much. Really appreciate it. Until next time.
What You Will Hear (note: timestamps represent audio, video may differ)
- 0:00 – Introducing today’s episode
- 1:18 – Cool Fact of the Day
- 1:51 — CyberPolicy
- 2:45 – Introducing Tim Ferriss
- 5:02 – Are smart drugs like fire?
- 6:25 – Importance of tracking your hacking
- 11:22 – Downside of theoretical mechanisms
- 13:14 – Why Tim doesn’t use Modafinil
- 14:44 – Yerba Maté as a creative stimulant
- 17:23 – Pu-erh and Green Tea
- 22:36 – Insect protein bars
- 31:09 – Paying attention to intelligent criticism
- 35:49 – Sex & the male energy
- 38:14 – Porn-induced dopamine resistance
- 39:34 – Top three recommendations to kick more ass and be Bulletproof!