An Unconventional Success Story

Timothy Ferriss’s life has followed a quite unconventional
path. In 2001, at the mere age of 23, Timothy Ferriss founded BrainQUICKEN, a
San Jose based online company that sold sports nutrition supplements. He sold
the company in January 2009 to an unnamed London-based private equity firm. He
is now a full-time angel investor and has invested in the following companies,
to name a few: Twitter, Badongo, Posterous, DailyBurn; the list of his equity
plays are lengthy.

Throughout Tim’s short life of only 33 years to date,
offers a diverse, yet quite impressive list of accomplishments:

  • Princeton
    University guest lecturer in High-Tech Entrepreneurship and Electrical Engineering
  • Finance
    and Entrepreneurship advisor at Singulatity University, co-founded by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil.
  • First
    American in history to hold a Guinness World Record in tango
  • Speaker
    of 5 languages
  • National
    Chinese kickboxing champion
  • Horseback
    archer in Nikko, Japan
  • 2009
    Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute
  • Political
    asylum researcher
  • MTV
    breakdancer in Taiwan
  • Hurling
    competitor in Ireland
  • Fast
    Company’s “Most Innovative Business People of 2007”.
  • Wired
    Magazine’s “Greatest Self-Promoter of 2008_
  • Actor
    on hit TV series in mainland China and Hong Kong (“Human Cargo”)

Needless to say, his life is full of rich, interesting
experiences. I thought this was worth investigating. In a nutshell, Timothys’
approach to life revolves around the Pareto principle – or as many of us know
it: “The 80/20 Rule”: 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
In addition, he subscribes to the Parkinson’s Law – or ‘work expands so as to
fill the time available for its completion’. What this has manifested in his
life, professionally and personally, has been a simplification of life. His
brazen opinions go so far as to imply email, PDA’s and other technological
advances complicate our master intentions and lifestyles, rather than simplify
it. His teachings fit under the umbrella of what he calls “lifestyle
design”, which he promotes “mini-retirements” as an alternative
to the “deferred-life” career path where one would work a  9 to 5 job until retirement in their

I have found these philosophies amazing and have read
most of his books, blogs, and articles with a voracious appetite. His book, The
4-Hour Workweek, was a NYTimes best seller and has elicted a popular change of
approach in many Silicon Valley circles. The premise of Timothy’s “The 4-Hour
Workweek” is that there are three currencies in a digital world: time,
income, and mobility. From his perspective, in the last 2-3 years, it’s become
possible to do things like outsource your life and create virtual businesses,
both of which can enable you to live the lifestyle of a millionaire on less
than $50,000 per year. He believes the concept of retirement, as well as single
offices with 9-5 clocks, is hopelessly outdated. Thus, through his own
experiences, working 80-hour weeks in Silicon Valley as the CEO of my own
start-up, he realized that income had no practical value without time.

The next two years he traveled through more than 20
countries, automating his business, checking e-mail once per week, and
interviewing other “lifestyle designers” who had figured out how to
“hack” life in a digital and flat world.

The book warns against information overload, and
recommends “selective ignorance” and coins the phrase “lifestyle
design”. That is his premise, and this is his lifestyle still today.
Leverage is his operative word. It is a provocative perspective – and one that
has certainly led Timothy to a successful career (and life) by many standards.
Late last year, he released his second book, The 4-Hour Body – which also
reached the #1 position in the New York Times bestseller list the same week it
was released. What an accomplishment!

Suffice it to say that this approach has provided Timothy
Ferris a soft landing. He lives a fully aligned life – defined by his unique
and unconventional lifestyle. He has re-defined success and has also re-defined
the road to success through aligning what he wanted, how he wanted to achieve
it, and how he desires to contribute to the world.

It is an interesting case study on success and ‘soft
landings’. For more information, and provocative reading, you may want to check
out Timothy’s blog posts. They will certainly shift your perspectives, whether
you adopt them as your own is irrelevant. They will most certainly give you
pause to reflect on ‘what is truly working’ in our own lives and how we may be
able to integrate even a small dose of his irreverent approach to an
unconventional life.