The 4-Hour™ Life: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Experience with Tim Ferriss

Author: tracysigler | Posted: November 18th, 2012 | | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

(The A-Team)

What I Learned this Week

  1. The power and beauty of self-organizing groups.
  2. The value of doing what scares you.

After posting a 60 second video where I explained three things I wanted to learn in the next year I was chosen to be one of the students at The 4-Hour™ Life: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise. I thought the odds of being chosen were reasonably good, but it was still a surprise to be told I was in. This was Thursday night before the next Tuesday when I would have to be across the country in Seattle. For about five seconds I made up excuses why going just didn’t seem reasonable but fortunately that mindset evaporated quickly. Time to hustle.

The 4-Hour ChefOur master teacher was to be, of course, Tim Ferriss. I didn’t get a photo with him or autograph, but the truth is I was probably the biggest fanboy there. I’ve given away more copies of The 4-Hour Body than I can count and talked many other people into buying it for themselves. (Everyone I meet seems to already own The 4-Hour Work Week.) A couple weeks before the event Damien and I interviewed Tim for well over an hour for our site Prior to the interview we received a digital copy of The 4-Hour Chef. In my opinion this is his best book yet. That, coupled with a very relaxed and enjoyable interview, where Tim was more than happy to discuss anything, made me even more of a fan.

Monday morning, the day before all us lucky students hit the road, I fired off the first email to our group of classmates suggesting we get together the night before. Followed a few minutes later by an email from Seth, who had already researched and found a good restaurant for us. He also set up a private Facebook group to help us coordinate. Anjali set us up on so we could easily text the group while we were there. Moira got tons of group photos during the breaks from shooting. And Sergio set up a Dropbox folder so we could all share photos. Then he even scheduled some accountability check-ins and group reunions. Talk about a “self-organizing group”!

self-organizing group is a collective whose members are surprised and delighted by what they become and do together. These collectives create themselves and contain members who become increasingly aware that the group is giving them more than they could imagine and plan as individuals. Self-aware self-organizing groups: groups in which members recognize that the group itself is something special. Read more

Eben Pagan says his company relies on self-organizing groups, but they do assign people they feel would be complementary to the groups. That said, they are flat and no one is put “in charge.” I’ve always wanted to experience that firsthand. Our small PR firm does operate this way but it’s only a handful of people, and at Cheat Sheet we’re slightly more hierarchical. Seeing how a dozen people can just naturally, and spontaneously, collaborate to create a very productive and just plain fun experience was amazing. In fact, it’s not over yet so the amazement continues.

I also re-learned the value of pushing out the boundaries of your comfort zone. I have to admit that it’s been a while since I did that in a meaningful way outside of racing bicycles. It’s not that I wasn’t fully aware of how important this is to personal growth, but after a while of staying in the same workaday groove, or rut, it’s easy to forget how joyous the upside of getting a little uncomfortable, of participating in an event like this, with great people, can be. And if that means some anxiety for a short time while you adapt to the situation, it’s a bargain. I considered just submitting a video to be a success. Everything after that was gravy.

I had planned to mention some of the highlights but the list is just too long. Suffice it to say to that at the top of the list was meeting so many great people. Every Monday morning I write down three goals for the week. This week my number one goal was “have maximum fun.” That was checked off, in a big way. The perfect conclusion to the trip was meeting my old friend Jeff for dinner the night before I came home. It’s been years but it felt as familiar and welcome as ever.

In the short clip below, everyone in the archery demo was able to hit the bullseye in the waning seconds of the show. See that hugging and high-fiving excitement? That’s what the whole trip felt like.

In addition to Tim Ferriss and creativeLIVE I want to thank the other teachers, Noah Kagan, Rick Torbett, Leila Janah, Dave Camarillo, Kelly Starrett, Mark Bell, Neil Strauss, and Philippe von Borries.

Most of all I want to thank the self-organizing A-Team of Jessica, Corey, Christine, Seth, Christina, Sarah, Anjali, Ben, Amanda, Sergio, and Moira. I’m looking forward to keeping in touch.

The Productivity Solution – Intense Focus Sprints

Author: tracysigler | Posted: February 17th, 2011 | | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Do you prefer the “60 60 30” or “50 20 50”? The former “solution” is from Internet marketing super hero Eben Pagan and the latter from the “marketing philosopher” Dean Jackson. What am I talking about? These are simple, not always easy, methods of focusing your brain and your time to do the work that really matters – the hard thinking work that you will do anything to avoid, but no one else can do for you.

Manage your day like a series of sprints instead of a marathon and you’ll be much more effective. Set up your “sprints” as manageable one to two hour sessions of intense focus, no interruptions allowed. This is where those numbers come in. Pagan’s version of this entails 50 minutes on with a 10 minute break, twice, then a longer break, 30 minutes, where you might get a light meal or even take a nap, whatever works for you. The Dean Jackson version is similar, and in practice I prefer it. You start with the same 50 minutes, but take a 20 break, then another 50 minute jam session to finish your two hour block.

When you take your breaks, do NOT check email, voicemail, social media, etc. All of that stuff will only plant the seeds of distraction. In fact, I highly recommend that you avoid email until you’ve done at least one of these peak productivity blocks each day. I never check email first thing in the morning, because you can isolate yourself from people, email, and mobile phones, but your own thoughts can be harder to escape.

To paraphrase Dean Jackson “make time to play G.O.L.F. every morning.” Set yourself up for success. Start with a Goal, ideally you’ll have list of your top priorities to choose from. Create an Optimal Environment, a quiet clutter-free office or room helps. Limit Distractions by turning off your phone etc. Trust that in the Fixed Time Frame (two hours or so) that the world won’t end if you don’t reply to emails, phone calls, and people with questions.

The further into the day that you can impose your will the more successful you will become. Am I able to do this every day? No, but I always try, and invariably the days that I succeed are the days when we move the ball down the field.


  1. For a much more detailed explanation of the “50 20 50 Solution” see this lecture by Dean Jackson.
  2. For a related discussion, see this article about office design by Tim Ferriss which includes pictures (see below) of his “Optimal Environment.”