Top Entrepreneurs Don’t Just Engineer Success – They Reverse Engineer It
Start at the beginning sounds like good advice, and yet it isn't, says Tim Ferriss. He explains the value of the mastering the endgame, and of carving out empty space.
Tim Ferriss has been listed as one of Fast Company's “Most Innovative Business People," one of Forbes's “Names You Need to Know," and one of Fortune's “40 under 40." He is an early-stage technology investor/advisor (Uber, Facebook, Shopify, Duolingo, Alibaba, and 50+ others) and the author of three #1New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers: The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef. The Observer and other media have called Tim “the Oprah of audio" due to the influence of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, which has exceeded 90 million downloads and was selected for "Best of iTunes" in 2015. His latest book is Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.
Tim Ferriss: One of the concepts that comes up over and over again with prolific creative minds that I've interviewed for the Tim Ferriss Show or for the book Tools of Titans is creating empty space. And one of the guests Josh Waitzkin, who never does any media, can I curse on this? He always texts me with profanity laden SMSs because I'm the only one who can pull him out of his cave to do media. But he is best known perhaps as the chest prodigy, and I'll explain why I put that in air quotes, besides how funny it looks on camera, that formed the basis or who formed the basis for Searching for Bobby Fischer, both the book and the movie. He was a very well known chess player and continues to be an incredible chess player. But he has applied his learning framework to more than chess. So he was a world champion in tai chi push hands, he was the first black belt in Brazilian jujitsu under the phenom probably the best of all time Marcelo Garcia, who trains in New York City and he's a nine-time world champion something like that. And he's now tackling paddle surfing and he can apply it to just about anything. He works with some of the top financial mines in the world, hedge fund managers and beyond, the best of the best; top one percent.
So, why? What are the principles that he shares? One of them is creating empty space, cultivating empty space as a way of life, and these are all tied together so I'll mention another one. Learning the macro from the micro and then beginning with the end in mind. And these all work together. So I'll explain in fact the last two first. Josh learned to play chess or I should say more accurately was coached by his first real coach in the opposite direction when compared to most training and most chess books. He was taught in reverse. What does that mean? He began with the end game and with very few pieces. So they cleared all the pieces off the board, instead of starting with openings, meaning what do you do first the first five to ten moves, he started with the ending game with king and pawn versus king. What does this do? Well this forces you to focus on principles like opposition, creating space, zugzwang, which is a principle of forcing your opponent to do anything that will destroy their position or anything they can possibly do will worsen their position. And these types of principles that you learn when there's an empty board with a few pieces accomplish a few things.
Number one, you are learning the macro, the principles that you can apply throughout the game of chess in almost any scenario through the micro, this end game situation. And these principles are adaptable. You become a machine that can bob and weave with the circumstances very effectively. Compared to that, as Josh would put it, if you're memorizing the openings, and this might be like memorizing recipes if you're learning to cook, you're effectively stealing the answers from the teacher's guidebook to a test and you'll be able to beat your friends for a while and maybe even be considered a pretty decent chess player, but on a deep level you don't understand the game and you will hit a ceiling and you will never progress past that and you'll get beaten by really good players. So that can be applied to, for instance, Brazilian jujitsu. Josh taught me basically all of the most important principles of jujitsu through one move, at the end the game, which is a choke called The Guillotine, which Marcello was famous for. His version was called The Marcelotine, but it's effectively like this you're choking someone's head in here and he has a weird way of doing it where he puts his forearm on top of your shoulder. It's pretty wicked. If you want to be put unconscious you can go to that gym and experience that yourself.
But that can also be applied to many, many other things. For instance, if you're trying to build a startup, this is a common trendy thing to do these days and I think everybody should start a business at some point. But in the startup game in say Silicon Valley where I live if you're going to go into the venture backed world, well you and your founder better think a lot about the end game and you should definitely have an agreement, at least a working agreement, tentative agreement on what type of exit, say acquisition offer is acceptable to you. If those end goal components aren't in place then it's just a slow motion train wreck waiting to happen. And how might you do that? Well, if you're trying to learn the macro from the micro you can think about what the acquisition agreement might look like. So you could talk to lawyers, get a sample template agreement and look at the provisions, look at the clauses and then reverse engineer it so that when you're forming the company, when you're hiring employees your decisions at that point make it possible to have that contract at the end.
This is another example. Micro, maybe it's a 10/20-page document. Macro, building a company that gets acquired by a much, much larger company. So that is learning the macro from the micro. Another example, just because I brought up cooking, would be say choosing a recipe that involves two or three primary techniques and perhaps three to five primary ingredients that apply in many, many, many different dishes. So you're learning principles of say flavor combination, principles of using convection versus shallow frying or sautéing versus steaming that apply across the board. And in doing so let's say you do it without a recipe, without a timer or I should say a meat thermometer or something like that, you're going to learn also to test the food to know whether it is done or not. That then applies to everything. But you can do it just a learning how to make Harissa crab cakes with the steam broccoli and I have no idea say candied yams something like that. So that's that.
And we're also talking about the ending game. So we've covered that. Creating or cultivating empty space is a way of life. This is very important to Josh Waitzkin who I mentioned, it's very important to people like Paul Graham, who's cofounder of Y Combinator, which is like the Navy SEALs Harvard of startup accelerators, keeping it simple let's just call it that for now. If you are a creator, if you are a maker and not a manager, this is important, which by the way is a decision so a lot of really good entrepreneurs start as a technician or a tactician they're very, very good at one thing then they end up in a managerial role that they hate. It doesn't mean you have to stay there, and you see a lot of folks like Evan Williams and others who then at some point realize this and return it to a more product focused role even if they are also the CEO of making some high-level 30,000-foot decisions.
Okay. But if you are a maker, if you've decided to be a maker, if you just happen to be a maker or creator let's call it three to five hour uninterrupted blocks of time are extremely critical if you want to connect the dots, if you want to have the space to allow yourself to have original ideas or at least original combinations of ideas you really need to block out that time and protect it at least once a week. So in Tools of Titans there are many people who do this, Remet Set, for instance, who has a very, very successful multi, multi million dollar business that he built out of a blog he started long ago in college, which was very, very niche in its focus, he blocks out I believe it's every Wednesday for three to five hours of time he'll block it out for learning. Noah Kagan another entrepreneur does the same thing. So on Wednesdays for me I have from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., this is pre-lunch, I have creation, that means writing, recording or some similar aspect of in my mind creating with my skillset and my assets. And it is extremely important that I do that before I'm barraged by inputs. In other words, and this is true of Josh as well, first thing in the morning he's doing journaling. Reid Hoffman, a billionaire, cofounder or founder of LinkedIn, same story. He will plant a seed in his mind the night before a problem he wants to solve, a project he wants to think about improving perhaps and then waking up, tabula rasa complete blank slate immediately working on that problem with journaling before any text messages, before any email, which is why, for instance, I don't have email set up on my phone. I do not have mail set up on my iPhone. I do not get to notifications. I also put my phone on airplane mode for a lot of reasons, for our body to explain some other physical ones, but onto airplane mode when I go to bed and it stays in airplane mode until I'm done with my creation period and then it comes on.
Because as soon as you go into bullet dodging or like Wonder Woman bullet blocking mode with everyone else's agenda for your time, which is very often the inbox or text messages, you're DOA, you're done. Your creativity is all for not in general. So for me, for many people who are say programming, for musicians, for creative types slack in the system, you have to create slack. You have to create space. You have to create large uninterrupted blocks of time and the only way to do that is to put it on your calendar. If it's not on your calendar it's not real, you need to put it in your calendar and defend it just like you would anything else.
Amid all the powerhouse, brilliant minds Tim Ferriss has interviewed for his podcast and new book Tools of Titans, one idea kept springing up: creating empty space. A second concept, by contrast, came up only once, through conversations with Joshua Waitzkin, an American chess player who takes an ‘endgame’ approach to every pursuit he undertakes. Ferriss explains these two concepts in detail, why they’re so vital, and how they can be applied across many fields.
Tim Ferriss' most recent book is Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.
Tea and coffee have known health benefits, but now we know they can work together.
Credit: NIKOLAY OSMACHKO from Pexels
- A new study finds drinking large amounts of coffee and tea lowers the risk of death in some adults by nearly two thirds.
- This is the first study to suggest the known benefits of these drinks are additive.
- The findings are great, but only directly apply to certain people.
Maybe you should enjoy this article with a cup of coffee or tea.<p> The <a href="https://drc.bmj.com/content/8/1/e001252?T=AU" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> involved 4,923 type 2 diabetics living in Japan. The average participant was 66 years old. All of the participants were taken from the rolls of the Fukuoka Diabetes Registry, a study geared at learning about the effects of new treatments and lifestyle changes on the health of diabetics. <br> <br> The participants filled out questionnaires concerning their health, diet, habits, and other factors. Among the questions were two focused on determining how much green tea or coffee, if any, the participants consumed over the course of a week. The health of the participants was recorded for five years. During this time, 309 of the test subjects died from a variety of causes. <br> <br> Subjects who drank more than one cup of tea or coffee per day demonstrated lower odds of dying than those who had none. Those who consumed the most tea and coffee, more than four and two cups a day, respectively, enjoyed the most significant reductions in their risk of death. This level of consumption was associated with a 40 percent lower risk of <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201020190129.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">death</a>. </p><p>Most interestingly, the effects of drinking tea and coffee appear to combine to reduce risk even further. Those who reported drinking two or three cups of tea a day and two or more cups of coffee were 51 percent less likely to die during the study, while those who drank a whopping four or more cups of tea and two or more cups of coffee had a 63 percent lower risk of <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/diabetes-coffee-and-green-tea-might-reduce-death-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">death</a>. </p>
So, should I start swimming in a vat of coffee and green tea?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LY0E-JQxeoY" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Not quite. </p><p> The primary takeaway from this study is that Japanese adults with type 2 diabetes who drink a lot of green tea and/or coffee die less often than similar people who do not. If this effect is caused by something in the drink, lifestyle choices people who drink that much tea all make, or something else remains unknown. The finding must be considered an association at this point. <br> <br> The eye-popping reductions in mortality rates are compared to the risk of death of others in the study. The people who died reported drinking less tea and coffee than those who lived. Unless you have several demographic and conditional similarities to the subjects of this study, you probably won't suddenly be at a two-thirds lower risk of death than your peers because you drink green tea. </p><p> Like all studies that depend on self-reporting, it is also possible that people misstated how much they consumed any one item. The study also did not look into other factors like socioeconomic status or education level, also known to impact death rates and potentially linked to coffee and tea consumption. </p><p> However, it is yet another study in the pile that suggests that <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">coffee</a> and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">green tea</a> are good for you. That much is increasingly <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/health-benefits-linked-to-drinking-tea" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">agreed</a><a href="https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/health-benefits-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> upon</a>. This study also suggests the benefits are additive, which is a new development.</p><p><br> So, while it isn't time to start the IV drip of green tea, a cup or two probably won't <a href="https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20201022/coffee-green-tea-might-extend-life-for-folks-with-type-2-diabetes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hurt</a>. </p>
But most city dwellers weren't seeing the science — they were seeing something out of Blade Runner.
On Sept. 9, many West Coast residents looked out their windows and witnessed a post-apocalyptic landscape: silhouetted cars, buildings and people bathed in an overpowering orange light that looked like a jacked-up sunset.
A study finds 1.8 billion trees and shrubs in the Sahara desert.
- AI analysis of satellite images sees trees and shrubs where human eyes can't.
- At the western edge of the Sahara is more significant vegetation than previously suspected.
- Machine learning trained to recognize trees completed the detailed study in hours.
Why this matters<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2MDQ1OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTkyODg5NX0.O3S2DRTyAxh-JZqxGKj9KkC6ndZAloEh4hKhpcyeFDQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="3770d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3c27b79d4c0600fb6ebb82e650cabec0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Area in which trees were located
Credit: University of Copenhagen<p>As important as trees are in fighting climate change, scientists need to know what trees there are, and where, and the study's finding represents a significant addition to the global tree inventory.</p><p>The vegetation Brandt and his colleagues have identified is in the Western Sahara, a region of about 1.3 million square kilometers that includes the desert, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahel" target="_blank">the Sahel</a>, and the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/subhumid-zones" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sub-humid zones</a> of West Africa.</p><p>These trees and shrubs have been left out of previous tabulations of carbon-processing worldwide forests. Says Brandt, "Trees outside of forested areas are usually not included in climate models, and we know very little about their carbon stocks. They are basically a white spot on maps and an unknown component in the global carbon cycle."</p><p>In addition to being valuable climate-change information, the research can help facilitate strategic development of the region in which the vegetation grows due to a greater understanding of local ecosystems.</p>
Trained for trees<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2MDQ3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTk5NTI3NH0.fR-n1I2DHBIRPLvXv4g0PVM8ciZwSLWorBUUw2wc-Vk/img.jpg?width=980" id="e02c0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="79955b13661dca8b6e19007935129af1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Martin Brandt/University of Copenhagen<p>There's been an assumption that there's hardly enough vegetation outside of forested areas to be worth counting in areas such as this one. As a result the study represents the first time a significant number of trees — likely in the hundreds of millions when shrubs are subtracted from the overall figure — have been catalogued in the drylands region.</p><p>Members of the university's Department of Computer Science trained a machine-learning module to recognize trees by feeding it thousands of pictures of them. This training left the AI be capable of spotting trees in the tiny details of satellite images supplied by NASA. The task took the AI just hours — it would take a human years to perform an equivalent analysis.</p><p>"This technology has enormous potential when it comes to documenting changes on a global scale and ultimately, in contributing towards global climate goals," says co-author Christian Igel. "It is a motivation for us to develop this type of beneficial artificial intelligence."</p><p>"Indeed," says Brandt says, "I think it marks the beginning of a new scientific era."</p>
Looking ahead and beyond<p>The researchers hope to further refine their AI to provide a more detailed accounting of the trees it identifies in satellite photos.</p><p>The study's senior author, Rasmus Fensholt, says, "we are also interested in using satellites to determine tree species, as tree types are significant in relation to their value to local populations who use wood resources as part of their livelihoods. Trees and their fruit are consumed by both livestock and humans, and when preserved in the fields, trees have a positive effect on crop yields because they improve the balance of water and nutrients."</p><p>Ahead is an expansion of the team's tree hunt to a larger area of Africa, with the long-term goal being the creation of a more comprehensive and accurate global database of trees that grow beyond the boundaries of forests.</p>
Nazi supporters held huge rallies and summer camps for kids throughout the United States in the 1930s.
- During the 1930s, thousands of Americans sympathized with the Nazis, holding huge rallies.
- The rallies were organized by the American German Bund, which wanted to spread Nazi ideology.
- Nazi supporters also organized summer camps for kids to teach them their values.
A Bund parade in New York, October 30, 1939.
Credit: Library of Congress
Credit: Herald Tribune
Postcards from Camp Siegfried