The Tim Ferriss Show with Scott Adams

Tim: Would you tell me what you had for breakfast, please?
I had my usual coffee and protein bar while staring out the window and wishing I had eaten more calories.

Testing the bullshit feeling of affirmation, Adams talks about how he tested it multiple times throughout his life, including meeting the hot girl in the office, beating out a friend and scoring a 94 on his GMATs without a preparation course, and waking in the middle of the night with a burning desire to purchase stock.

Discussing God's Debris and the challenge of writing as the smartest person in the world when you're not the smartest person in the world:
"My writer solution was a version of Occam's Razor, a bastardized version, in which I simply had the smartest person in the world say the things that seemed like the simplest explanations. And it turns out when you read the simplest explanation, even if its not what you were set to believe, or already did believe, it's very compelling anyway. it's one of those ways your brain is wired that simplicity looks compelling, i.e. Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump. Simplicity is always compelling.

"Take the debate where he came in as the underprepared buffoon who was going to blow himself up and Megyn Kelly of Fox News decided that yes, that's exactly what was going to happen and she started right out with the "Did you say all these things bad things about women?"

Now every other politician would have been smeared off the stage by that because it wouldn't matter what he said back. It wouldn't matter what the response was because the question itself, like NLP...

Tim: is so incriminating.

Right. Yeah, the question is the content, alright? Maybe somebody said, "Oh that was taken out of context" or whatever, which is what people usually say. And it usually is. That's actually usually true. But the public isn't going to hear that. They're just going to hear the feeling that they felt when Megyn Kelly said that person's name, bad to women. That's really like the beginning and the end of thinking for, let's say, at least 20% of the public, right? About the same 20% that can easily be hypnotized, coincidentally.

But what did Trump do? As soon as that question came up, he semi-interrupted her and he said, "Only Rosie O'Donnell." That, my friends, is hypnosis. He took an anchor that everybody could visualize and his core audience already had a negative impression. Their negative impression of Rosie O'Donnell almost certainly was bigger, stronger, and visual, and more important than whatever Megan Kelly just said which should have been a full house, right?

She showed him four kings and he beat her hand! And he did it without even trying, and he did with a method which is well understood. It's a negotiating technique. You throw down an anchor, you divert everybody. And so instead of becoming this sexist, which he could have been on day one, he became the straight talker.

On why Dale Carnegie's How to Stop Worrying and Start Living needs an update:
"Because I have a theory that there is a real, there is something called a digital disease, meaning that if you take the average person and put them in the average simple environment of the past they were not overwhelmed by its complexity. But i believe that today the average person is overwhelmed by the complexity of life because it got more complicated, and that I barely know an adult who isn't on some kind of drug, either prescribed or otherwise, to deal with anxiety and I'm pretty sure that wasn't the case when I was a kid. Maybe we have more options now, I guess. I think there is a real, legitimate mental illness plague."


"Keep in mind the names of these biggest companies in your world, like Google, Apple, their business model is distraction. All of that depends on taking you off your task and making you look at an advertisement or buy their new song or buy their new thing or look at a new app or something. So they're literally in the business of making you distracted and doing the job that the smartest people in the world using the best science and A/B testing can provide. While in the normal world you had, it was a fair fight. You're like, "Hey I'm going to ignore your billboard on the highway because I can. It wasn't that hard, ha ha." Those guys with the billboards they weren't using a ton of science. But now its me against all the scientists in Google."

On dealing with the complexity of modern life with systems versus goals:
"The idea is that if you have a goal-oriented approach to the world that that's an approach that made perfect sense 200 years ago if you were a farmer and you had a simple operation and you thought if you cleared another ten acres before winter you could grow more corn, you were almost certainly right. So clearing those ten acres before winter was a perfectly good goal and it made perfect sense to pursue it.

But now fast forward, alright? It's modern times. There's probably more technology, more complexity in your pocket, right now, in your smartphone than the farmer had in his entire operation. Today if you're focused on one thing for more than a minute and a half there is a good chance that that thing is no longer worth having. There are people going to school for degrees that won't mean anything even four years for now when they get out of school. You've got people who are making plans with a clear focus in a world that no longer supports a clear path to anything. 

If you cant predict the future and on top of that, even if you could predict it, and you picked a goal and you marched straight at it, when you got there, there is a really good chance that you would have said, "you know I didn't notice there were five other goals that were way better than this one" because they emerged while you were focusing on your goal. So if you're not keeping your eye on the whole of it and if you're not playing the odds and you're picking a moonshot as your way to go through life, you're going to feel like you're failing, not only if you miss the moon, but you're going to feel like a failure all the way to the moon cause you haven't gotten the moon and you're not quite sure if you're going to get there."

Billboard message: Be useful.

Advice to your thirty-year old self:
That was a time of great transition. I would say probably patience because I've been playing the system game and not the goal game since I got out of college. And literally have a diary in which I wrote my master plan.

If you take ten years following a process and it's not giving you results thats hard to remain patience, so in retrospect that was the only thing I needed to maybe alleviate some of my pain. But on the other hand impatience probably drove me harder, so maybe I wouldn't tell myself that either.

Tim: And if your thirty-tear-old self said, how exactly do you purpose I be patient, how would you respond to that?

Well, my thirty-year-old self would not have access to medical marijuana so I have a limited canvas of which to paint.

I've always made it a top priority since I was a teenager and had tons of stress-related medical problems to make that job one: to learn how to not have stress.

I would consider myself a world champion of avoiding stress at this point in dozens of different ways. And a lot of it is just how you look at the world, but most of it is really the process of diversification. So I'm not going to losing one friend if I have a hundred, but if I have two friends I'm really going to be worried. Not going to worry about losing my job because my one boss is going to fire me because i have thousands of bosses at newspapers everywhere and lots of them can like me one day and it doesn't make any difference to my life. 

One of the ways to not worry about stress is to eliminate it. I don't worry about my stock picks because i have a diversified portfolio, so diversification works in almost every area of your life to reduce your stress."

Book recommendation: Influence by Robert Cialdini