My Interview for Tim Ferriss

In his book(s) and on his podcast, Tim Ferriss often likes to ask his guests questions about themselves and their lives. They usually start with easy-to-answer basic questions, but many of them offer deep insight into the orientation of the guest’s heart.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, Tim and I haven’t had a chance to become amazing friends (yet), but I love his questions and the conversations they spark. Tim did NOT reach out to me for an interview, but I thought it’d be great to be proactive and answer them as if he did!

I hope you enjoy my answers and get to know me a little bit better (and maybe learn something along the way).

  1. When you think of the word successful, who is the first person that comes to mind and why?

This question’s exceedingly difficult for me. It’s difficult to understand how a person defines success and whether or not they’ve achieved it. Even some of the highest achievers and greatest performers have taken their own lives amidst depression.

It’s hard to pick one (for the above reasons and many more), but Roger Federer is outstanding in his field. He’s the greatest tennis player of all time. He seems like a dedicated and loving father and husband. He is humble in victory, gracious in defeat, and generous as a philanthropist.

2. Which book or books do you give most (if you like to give books to people)?

  • The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
  • Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Mark Rippetoe
  • The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey
  • Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
  • Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  • Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

3. What is something that you believe that other people think is insane?

I believe there are no bad people in the world. I believe there are good people that make decisions. I believe there are good people that were hurt and twisted into suffering individuals. And I believe that sometimes good people do “bad” things.

But I do not believe there is a single bad person in this world, or that one has ever existed or will exist. I believe that most of us are born with the capacity for free will, and there is always hope for those who habitually do bad to start doing good.

I believe in hoping for those especially who others consider hopeless. Because I, too, was once hopeless and everyone had given up on me.

4. What are some common misconceptions about you?

I’m not sure. I have a terrible time guessing at how others perceive me, perhaps because my perceptions are so easily distorted by my own wants or fears.

Oh! Those who know me now (and not as a child or very young adult) think that I have lived a privileged and “put-together” life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

5. What is your favorite documentary (or movie, if you don’t watch docs)?

Does Idiocracy count?

I really enjoyed “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”. It’s fascinating to understand how our current financial regulations came to be. And it’s interesting to study the human nature behind such greed.

I LOVE these movies and study them endlessly:

  • Goodfellas
  • Casino
  • Scarface
  • American Gangster
  • Blow
  • Fight Club
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Zootopia
  • The Untouchables
  • Back to the Future

I think there’s a common them in many of them. It takes a special type of motivation to really go from poor-as-beans to wealthy entrepreneur. But often times, that hunger is born from brokenness.

And the same brokenness (greed, depression, addiction) that propels entertainers and entrepreneurs to stardom ultimately leads to their own self-destruction. It’s a cautionary tale to not fly so close to the sun.

6. The most useful product or service you’ve bought in 2017, under $100.

My Casio Men’s A168WA-1 Watch.

I don’t like to brag, but it was $12.99 and I THINK that means I’m fancy.

But for real, I actually love having this watch. It’s digital and easy to read. It has a stopwatch. I can make it glow in the dark to check the time at night. It helps me keep track of the date.

And I don’t have to look at my phone and dive into distraction to check the time.

7. What are your morning rituals? What do the first 60 minutes of your day look like?

Chaos. Destruction. Hatred.

Sorry, those are my feelings towards my alarm clock sometimes. My morning routine generally consists of showering, brushing my teeth, drinking water, journaling, checking my finances and correspondence, and then getting to work.

8. What obsessions do you explore on the evenings or weekends?

Quantitative finance, military and economic history, sports and fitness.

Quantitative finance is so attractive to me because I’d like to leverage my programming and economic backgrounds to sustain better-than-average returns in the market for my lifetime. I’ll let you know how it goes. Or if you see me on the side of the street begging for change, you’ll know how it’s going.

9. What topic would you speak about if you were asked to give a TED talk on something outside of your main area of expertise?

Woof. Aren’t TED talks by experts? I’d feel like an idiot wasting everyone’s time if they put me on stage. BUT, it would probably be mental health.

I’m not a psychiatrist. I didn’t go to medical school.

But I have years of unique experiences seeing the how those that are mentally suffering are tagged, labeled, and shuffled from doctor to doctor. From school counselors to mental health professionals. I have some ideas. But, once again, I’m not an expert.

10. What is the best or most worthwhile investment you’ve made? Could be an investment of money, time, energy, or other resources. How did you decide to make the investment?

The best investment I made was most likely the young adult ministry I was involved with in college. I learned more about leadership, discipline, and sacrifice than I had ever before.

11. Do you have a quote you live your life by or think of often?

From Tim Ferriss’ book: Stop saying you don’t have enough time for things. Start saying it’s not a priority. “I don’t have time to go to the party.” versus “Going to the party is not a priority.”

Everyone is good at some things and bad at others. Don’t forget that you, too, are bad at some things. Judge not lest ye be judged.

Sirach 2: 4–5

“Accept whatever happens to you;
in periods of humiliation be patient.
For in fire gold is tested,
and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation.”

And Matthew 6:34

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

12. What is the worst advice you see or hear being dispensed in your world?

Do what makes you happy. I think there’s wisdom to this statement, but as a blanket piece of advice I think it’s terrible.

Heroin and cocaine at the same time might make you feel happy. But you’re going to feel terrible later. And you’re going to die. And you’ll realize your overall happiness over the long run is less from this type of short-term happiness.

13. If you could have one gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say?

You are worth it.

There’s so many people out there who feel alone. People who are hopeless for their own future or the future of their children. People who think their lives are worthless. People who are about to give up. People who compromise themselves because they think their mind or body has no value.

To them, and to myself, I would remind:

You are worth it.

14. What advice would you give to your 20–, 25–, or 30–year–old self? And please place where you were at the time and what you were doing.

20 Year Old Me: You have a lot of brokenness and things inside of you. You can’t try to hide them or pretend they don’t exist, or you’ll end up dead. (I was struggling in college after years and years of preparation to be a trainwreck).

25 Year Old Me: Stop trying to compete with this imaginary idea of success. Be yourself. Find your unique calling and talents. Continue to help others even when it’s hard, and don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.

15. How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Or, do you have a favorite failure of yours?

I don’t have a favorite failure, because I have a terrible sense of pride and for all I know, failure kept me from greater “success”.

BUT.

There was one time, one night, where I failed. And I’m still alive this day because of it.

16. What is something really weird or unsettling that happens to you on a regular basis?

I think my own self-identity and life-plans are very fluid. Perhaps unstably so. I’m a realist in many ways as an economist. But I’ve always struggled to know who I am and what I am here to do.

For years, I’ve had this mission:

My purpose is to live an enjoyable life that greatly reduces the suffering of all human beings through the utilization of my unique talents and the practical application of knowledge through wisdom and intellect.

How I live that out — the actual way I am called to serve others–that’s the difficult part.

17. What have you changed your mind about in the last few years? Why?

In the last few years I have forgiven people in my heart that I felt had intentionally gone out of their way to hurt or harm me. I think they were hurting or suffering, too. Or perhaps this is just the behavior they learned from those who came before them.

No point in holding grudges.

18. What do you believe is true, even though you can’t prove it?

I believe that God exists and loves us.

19. Any ask or request for my audience? Last parting words?

The world is full of mindless entertainment. We have enough fidget spinners and LED color changing pieces-of-crap, but somehow we forgot to grow enough food for people to avoid starvation.

If I could do one thing, it would be to encourage humans and humankind to work towards ending suffering for the many, instead of increasing comfort for the few.

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