How '4-Hour Workweek' author Tim Ferriss went from a struggling entrepreneur to a bestselling author and podcast host with millions of fans
Richard FeloniNov 26, 2017, 02:23 IST
Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider
Tim Ferriss struggled with an online business after college and was unsure of what to do with his life.
His 2007 book, "The 4-Hour Workweek," was based on his business and travels and became a surprise bestseller.
Over the past 10 years, Ferriss has built a brand that has attracted millions of fans from around the world.
Just over 10 years ago, Tim Ferriss felt overworked, restless, and unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. Then he took what he learned from his experiences as an entrepreneur and traveler and wrote "The 4-Hour Workweek," a book whose massive success surprised himself most of all.
Ferriss took the momentum of that book and created a brand around being a "human guinea pig," seeking out experts in their fields to learn some of their techniques and incorporate them into his own life before passing them on to his audience. He's now had several bestsellers, including his new book "Tribe of Mentors," and a podcast that's surpassed 200 million downloads.
This year, in general, has been a big one for Ferriss. He turned 40, "The 4-Hour Workweek" turned 10, and he came to terms with his depression in a public way. He said that he's reached a degree of inner peace and is not chasing one project after another with no aim.
Ferriss started a new chapter in his life in 2017 when he moved from Silicon Valley to Austin, Texas. He said that he's found the Bay Area to be trapped in groupthink, having largely grown out of the love for experimentation that drove him there in the first place.
After book burnout and a failed show, Ferriss decided to bide his time with a podcast, which he said he never intended to be more than a fun, temporary side project. His longform interviews about careers and craft took off, and since launching in 2014, "The Tim Ferriss Show" has had more than 200 million downloads.
In 2013, HLN gave Ferriss a TV show, "The Tim Ferriss Experiment," in which experts would teach him the basics of their craft, whether it was surfing or rally car racing. The show was part of a short-lived Turner Broadcasting initiative, and only a couple of the episodes aired on television.
Next was his take on cooking, with 2012's "The 4-Hour Chef." His decision to publish the book through Amazon prompted several brick-and-mortar booksellers to refuse to carry it, but the book still managed to become a number-one Wall Street Journal bestseller.
To avoid becoming pigeonholed as a career expert, Ferriss decided that his next projects would explore other passions. His next book was 2010's "The 4-Hour Body," which also became a number-one New York Times bestseller.
Ferriss knew he could easily have become a one-hit wonder, and so he decided he would put some of the money he was making into tech startups. He befriended the venture capitalist Mike Maples, who helped lead him to hugely successful investments in companies like Uber, Facebook, and Twitter.
Ferriss finally landed a small book deal after countless rejections, but neither he nor his publisher expected it to do much. To improve his odds, Ferriss worked tirelessly to get his book into the hands of tech influencers like Robert Scoble, whose endorsements helped build hype. The book blew up, and soon Ferriss was regularly appearing in the media and on stage.
Ferriss hit another low in 2004 after a friend died, a relationship ended, and his business felt like it hit a dead end no matter how many hours he put in. As before, he decided to travel, this time to his friend's place in London.
After graduating and getting a handle on his thoughts, Ferriss figured he would check out exciting developments in Silicon Valley. He soon started his own company, BrainQuicken.
Ferriss revealed in a 2015 blog post and a 2017 TED Talk that he has dealt with bipolar depression, and that he got to an especially dark point during his senior year of college. He's since come to see it as one of several turning points in his life.
St. Paul's led Ferriss to Princeton, where he majored in East Asian studies.
As a high school sophomore, Ferriss transferred to the elite New Hampshire boarding school, St. Paul's School, with help from his grandparents and academic scholarships. At age 15, he spent a year as an exchange student in Japan.
Ferriss was born in 1977 on Long Island. He said that although his parents didn't have much money, they would always buy books for him, and it's how he developed a love for learning.