004: Tim Ferriss on How to Become World-class at Anything [Podcast]

Note: I originally published this interview on my blog over a year ago, but because people loved it so much I brought it back to include on my new podcast. Enjoy!

We all want to feel more like directors and less like spectators in our lives. We want to be the boss, not the victim. What if a cookbook could help you do that?

I recently chatted with best-selling author Tim Ferris about this very idea.

Tim Ferriss
Chef Tim

In this exclusive Q&A, Tim and I talk about his new book, The 4-Hour Chef, which is about a lot more than cooking.

My interview with Tim Ferriss

This isn’t just another cookbook. It’s a guide to taking control of what matters most to you, a blueprint for becoming the jefe of your own story.

Spread throughout The 4-Hour Chef (in addition to the 1500+ photos and 500+ pages of content) is the idea of meta learning and the process by which someone becomes “world-class” at anything (including cooking).

Tim is renowned for cracking the code on seemingly complex processes and breaking them down. He did it with his previous two books (both NY Times Best Sellers) by tackling issues of time management and weight loss.

And now, he’s teaching us how to cook. But that’s not all he’s doing.

This is just another rodeo for Mr. Ferriss. Long before his success as an author, he was mastering Japanese by reading comic books, becoming a kickboxing champ in China, and going toe to toe with the world’s best tango dancers in Argentina.

Interview highlights

Here’s what we talked about:

  • How Tim approaches learning — cooking, writing, you name it
  • Why being born premature (and having other disadvantages) worked to his advantage
  • What his greatest flaws are, how he’s not superhuman, and why failure is no excuse to quit
  • Why he doesn’t write for just one genre and what he’s learning from releasing a book only on Amazon
  • A whole lot more

The secret to becoming world class

Like I said, this book is about a lot more than cooking. It’s about how we learn to do things we’ve never been good at, how we overcome insecurities and succeed at endeavors that have always intimidated us.

In The 4-Hour Chef, Tim breaks down his approach to rapid skill acquisition and shows how you can replicate the process for anything you want to learn.

So… what’s the secret to becoming world class at anything?

“The way that you become world-class is… by asking good questions.” —Tim Ferriss (Click here to tweet that.)

The best way to master a craft is to be insatiably curious — at least that’s what works for Tim.

You can pick up a copy of the book on Amazon (affiliate link).

I hope you enjoy the interview. Feel free to download it and share with friends. And I would love for you to take a moment and leave a review on iTunes. This podcast is a work in progress, and I value your feedback.

Here’s to you becoming world-class!

What’s something that you’d like to be world-class at? Share in the comments.

67 thoughts on “004: Tim Ferriss on How to Become World-class at Anything [Podcast]

  1. Hi Jeff, very excited for this book! I have an idea that Tim Ferriss is in fact the World’s Greatest Journalist. What do you think? http://bit.ly/TN4brY

      1. That’s right. If you listen to the interview, that’s exactly what Tim suggests. It is a cookbook, after all, and would make a great holiday gift. OR you can just buy the Kindle (only $5 today).

  2. I would like to be worldclass at public speaking, writing, and helping others.  Love the idea of the thought process behind this book.  “How do you take the same blueprint and learn…?”

    Enjoyed the interview – thanks Jeff & Tim!

  3. World class blah blah blah. Why not tell people who don’t have the same opportunities that they don’t matter, that they’ve failed? Not everyone has the same opportunities, or even the same talents. I don’t care if you’ve scaled Kilimanjaro on your hands and knees. Ever dealt with an autistic child in full meltdown mode? Ever been there for a friend who’s breaking in front of your eyes because they’ve been so badly abused and traumatised, and you know if you don’t help they’ll decide they’ve had enough of the world? Ever had to run away so your violent ex-husband can’t hurt you and your family?

    I have. Which is maybe why these kinds of posts don’t necessarily resonate… You don’t have to be ‘world class’ at anything to be an amazing human being. Sorry, Jeff. You’ve maybe caught me on a bad day. 

    1. Sandy, thanks for the comment. I would say you’re world-class at compassion, at empathy, at pure perseverance. Not everyone is as strong as you. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Super grateful to you for this post and interview, Jeff!  Wrote down this one thing Tim said and will  be blogging about it later: “when something is a failure is determined by when you give up.”   So true and such a great way to think about the gifts of lifelong learning, trying things, experimenting, whether or not you become world class.  Thank you!

  5. I’ve followed Ferriss since the first days of 4HWW. He’s a lot of fun, and probably the best creative self-promoter I can think of. I appreciate that he shares his knowledge, and I’m hoping that he can beat the system by publishing on Amazon (solely) and still doing really well.

    cool interview.

  6. Jeff, great work prepping for this interview. It really showed and gave us a ton of benefit because you asked questions your readers were likely to ask (or wish they thought to ask).

  7. I found, unlike Sandy, the interview fascinating. I love Tim Ferris, and it was informative to see another side of him. While Sandy has a point that you don’t have to be successful to be important or worthwhile, it does not follow that someone like Tim Ferriss shouldn’t be interviewed because he has advantages that others do not. He is an engaging author and enjoyable to listen to. 

    Dealing “with an autistic child in full meltdown mode” is certainly heroic, far beyond anything I merit. And, the best thing about the internet is that there is room for all of us. I can leave this page right now and learn more about people who have experience with autistic children, broken friends, disastrous marriages. We are all privileged if we look beneath us and all underprivileged if we look above us.

    Ferriss certainly merits “world class” status, and your interviewing skills are great. Press on and be kind! Hurting the feelings of another never elevates you.

    1. No, I would not want to hurt someone’s feelings – and I have no desire to elevate myself. I don’t want to look beneath me, or look above me. That was kind of my point; the words ‘world class’ create a barrier for the 99% of people who will never be world class, but that *not* being world class can be equally great, and worthy and admirable, if not more so. 

      My little rant won’t hurt the feelings of such a world class bloke as Tim Ferriss, and I doubt it’ll hurt Jeff’s either. He’s already getting on with being Jeff (whose blog I very much enjoy). Surely one doesn’t have to agree with everything one reads in order to comment? 

      1. Well said Sandy. I wasn’t trying to suggest that your comment was inappropriate, just offering an alternate viewpoint. You are correct in that I’m sure feelings weren’t hurt. Sorry if I came off as too aggressive.  

        I really appreciated your viewpoint because it caused me to step back and look at the article anew. “World class” promotes the post at the expense of creating a barrier. Just wanted Jeff to know that I supported his decision. Thanks for the dialogue, Sandy. Disagreement is constructive, especially if it aims to include the marginalized as was the intent (I believe) of your post.

  8. Grrr! Something dark in me really wants to hate Tim Ferriss, but I just can’t do it. The guy is so damn likable and gung-ho creative that I can’t help wishing we could share a cold beer at a pub and chat it up. Damn you 4-hour guru. 🙂

  9. Finally had a chance to listen to this today, Jeff. Pretty amazing interview.
    I thought it was brilliant what he said about looking at the outliers that are contrarian – the runners that don’t have the typical runner body type. For some reason, the wisdom of that really struck me.
    And it was also interesting hearing that his success came from learning and adapting to his failures and weaknesses. Makes me look at my own a little differently.

  10. Hi Jeff, I’d have to say your interview went very well. I heard Pat Flynn’s and Leo Babauta’s and I liked their interviews also. But your’s is the best. Your questions were great and just the way you steered the conversation is very good. I hope I can learn how to do that.

  11. I just started reading his 4 Hour Work Week book. Some fascinating stuff in there. What would I want to be world class in? Archaeology and anthropology. I have some basic knowledge but I would love to be able to converse with scholars in the field.

  12. Super interview, Jeff. Giving up is NOT an option for me although at times I feel like doing that. Thanks Tim and Jeff. I guess for me I’d like to be a world class person. 🙂

  13. Thanks for this, Jeff. I’d say that you’re world class at (among other things): identifying, encouraging, and nurturing the latent strengths and abilities of others. I think you rock!

  14. Jeff, thank you so much for this. It was the shot in the arm I needed to be myself and skin the cat in my own way. It’s crazy liberating!!

  15. Fabulous!!! My key takeaways (paraphrased or restated):

    a. “My favorite productivity hack is to work” – whoever tweeted this is a genius! 😀

    b. “Your circumstances should never define you. They should only inspire you to give your best, do your best and be your best”

    c. “Find a subject matter that makes you come alive”

    d. “Be Curious”

    e. “If you are going to try new things, you will face humps” (oh yeah!)

    I do have one question. I always cringe when people talk about ‘writing hacks’ though because I don’t think there is any formula to producing quality work, at least outside the B2B world. Formulaic templates don’t excite me…on the other hand, I know a few writers who use SEO-optimized formulas and still create creatively empowering work.

    I wonder how they do that! hehe

    Thanks a lot, Jeff and Tim! 😀


Comments are closed.