July 20, 1977
East Hampton, NY
- Known For:
Author of The 4-Hour Workweek
About Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss was born July 20, 1977, in South Hampton, New York, before moving to East Hampton, where he grew up. He developed a love of learning as a kid when his parents told him they would always have a budget for books, despite not having a lot of money.
Ferriss competed in wrestling throughout childhood and high school, enjoying the sport because it allowed kids who were smaller than average to be competitive, which was often difficult in other sports. He attended St. Paul’s High School, a boarding school in New Hampshire.
While in high school, Ferriss spent a year abroad, participating in a student exchange program in Tokyo. His time in Tokyo contributed to his interest in East Asian studies, which became his major after high school while attending Princeton University.
Toward the end of his college years, Ferriss experienced severe symptoms of bipolar depression and describes it as a “very, very dark time.” He took a year off of school and traveled to China and Taiwan. During this time, he briefly planned on opening a gym chain in Taiwan but changed his mind and returned to school at Princeton. Ferriss graduated from Princeton with his bachelor’s degree in 2000.
Ferriss has a wide range of skills and hobbies. In 1999, Ferriss won the Chinese National Kickboxing Championship. He explains he won by exploiting a technicality in the rules that involves manipulating opponents into stepping off the mat.
In 2006, Ferriss set a Guinness World Record in tango for most tango spins in a minute. He and his partner Alicia Monti executed 37 spins. Ferriss’s other interests include break dancing, shark diving, and motorcycle racing. He speaks English, Japanese, Chinese, German, and Spanish.
He also enjoys experimenting with fitness and health. He has a device to monitor brain waves and sleep cycles, another device to track blood sugar, and a timer that he uses to practice breath-holding, which he can reportedly do for three minutes.
Ferriss explains his odd hobbies, saying it motivates his audience, stating, “I push myself into the realm of the absurd so that whatever my audience considers impossible suddenly, by comparison, seems plausible and achievable. If I’m willing to inject myself with stem cells flown in from Israel, maybe doing five minutes of hip flexor stretches twice a week isn’t too much to ask.”
Ferriss’s first job after graduating college was a sales position at a data storage company. However, he was frustrated with the work at the company, so he began to develop a plan for starting his own business.
In 2001, he started BrainQuicken, an e-commerce supplement company. He was interested in the nutritional supplements industry, having been an active consumer of supplements for years. He says, “I was, like, ‘All right, I have some ideas of the pain points and needs of this market, and know what I would want to create if I had the budget for myself.’”
When he was laid off from his job at the data storage company, Ferriss focused on his own company. Ferriss says by 2004, he was making more than $40,000 a month through BrainQuicken.
He sold the company to a private equity firm in 2009. He explains his reason for selling, saying, “First of all, I was getting bored of it. Secondly, my brain felt like a computer running antivirus software in the background. Even though the company didn’t take much time to run, it was consuming more than 10 percent of my mental energy.”
Before selling BrainQuicken, Ferriss developed a system for streamlining work and outsourcing daily tasks. While the company was still young, he worked 14-hour days but soon became burnt out. His new system for cutting back on work developed into the ideas behind his first book, The 4-Hour Work Week, published in 2007, which spent four years on The New York Times bestseller list.
Investment and Advising Career
Soon after Ferriss’s first book was published in 2007, he met Mike Maples, a successful angel investor. Though Ferriss had been considering enrolling in business school, Maples inspired Ferriss to instead become an angel investor to learn more about business.
Ferriss says, “I had decided that, rather than go to Stanford Business School, what if I took $120,000 of my money, which I would have spent on Stanford Business School for two years at the time and instead created a real-world MBA for myself where I create the ‘Tim Ferriss Fund,’ in quotation marks, and invest $120,000 in startups over two years with the expectation that I’m going to lose all of that money. In other words, every startup will fail, but the relationships developed—that I develop and the skills that I develop, the knowledge that I acquire, will, and so forth and so on, will more than make up for that over time.”
Ferriss put $50,000 toward his first investment as an angel investor, despite that being a much higher portion of his budget than he originally intended. Unfortunately, he lost all of that first investment. However, he adjusted his mindset and began investing and advising several successful companies.
Ferriss was involved as an investor or advisor in the early stages of several well-known companies, including Twitter, Shopify, Uber, Facebook, TaskRabbit, and Ali Baba. However, in 2015, he retired from investing and advising to focus his energy on writing.
Media and Content Creation Career
Ferriss launched his blog in 2006. In 2009, the blog was included on Inc. Magazine’s “19 Blogs You Should Bookmark Right Now.” In 2013, Ferriss starred in the TV show, The Tim Ferriss Experiment, where he attempted to learn new skills, such as surfing, parkour, and jiu-jitsu, in record time.
In 2014, Ferriss started the podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, where he interviews experts from a wide range of industries, including investing, sports, acting, art, and business. The podcast was the first business/interview podcast to pass 100 million downloads and now has over 900 million. In 2017, Ferriss took his interviewing skills to television, hosting the TV show Fear(Less) with Tim Ferriss, a 10-episode series that followed a similar format to Ferriss’s popular podcast.
He has also been featured by multiple media outlets—including The New York Times, The Economist, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, TIME, Forbes, Fortune, CNN, and CBS.
Tim Ferriss Books
Ferriss has written five books since 2007. Several of his books are New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers. Here’s a list of Ferriss’s published books:
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (2007)
- The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman (2010)
- The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life (2012)
- Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (2016)
- Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World (2017)
Tim Ferriss Today
Ferriss has been involved with several nonprofit organizations in recent years. In 2018, he founded the Saisei Foundation, which researches psychedelics for clinical use, life-extension technologies, and other unconventional scientific projects. He is also on the advisory board of Donorschoose.org.
Today, Ferriss continues to share content with his audience through his blog, weekly newsletters, and social media. As of May 2023, he has 1.2 million Instagram followers, 1.9 million Twitter followers, and 1.5 million LinkedIn followers. He has lived in Austin, Texas, since 2015.
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- Ferriss, T. (2007). The 4-Hour work week. London: Vermilion, an imprint of Ebury Publishing.
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