Tim Ferriss - a Student of Late Night Infomercials

Writer Tim Ferriss with interviewer Cal Fussman

Writer Tim Ferriss with interviewer Cal Fussman

Tim Ferriss is an interesting guy. Author of the Four Hour Work Week (and other books), blogger, podcaster, and angel investor, he was one of the first people to get me to use the term "hacking" for something that didn't involve computers. In 2008, when I first read the FHWW, it was a revelation. I think it was partly how he truly had rethought the way work was meant to happen. The other part that grabbed me was the idea of someone working while traveling the world. It was this romantic idea of escapism that seemed perfectly 21st Century. You could move about largely rootless in the physical world while staying connected to work, responsibilities and family through technology; a version of "have your cake and eat it too" that has only existed since the dawn of the internet. 

Over time, the world learned how much that was both a romanticized truth and also a fairly elaborate marketing ploy. But, as I recently found out Tim Ferriss is not a "writer" in the traditional sense but rather a world-class marketing genius. Recently, interviewer Cal Fussman talked with Ferriss about his upbringing in Long Island and his circuitous path to writing best-sellers. In the interview which spans over 3 hours in two different episodes, the talk about how Ferriss was a hyperactive kid with insomnia who would watch late night infomercials, researching how they would sell their products. His first ventures were all based on those same ideas and his first book proposal was about audience and marketing data, not about vision or artistic merit. I think maybe I knew this subconsciously, but the interview is great if you've ever wondered how someone creates a best seller.