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SXSW 2013: Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Ethos on Accelerated Learning for Accelerated Times

I’ve long been a fan of Tim Ferriss, best-selling author of the 4-Hour Work Week and arguably one of the world’s most effective men and if you’re introduced by Hugh Forrest the Director of SXSWi, I’m thinking you’re kind of a big deal.

Ferriss’ tenacity is infectious and I find that he’s one of these speakers that sends you off to think hard about how much time you waste and what you could achieve if you found better, faster ways to do things.

Here are some takeouts from his Acquiring the Skill of Meta-Learning SXSW presentation:

  • His 4-Hour ethos is about accelerated learning for accelerated times. He applies a theory of DiSSS (Deconstruction, Selection, Sequence + Stakes – outlined further in “What You Can Learn From Author Tim Ferriss, the Four-Hour Marketer” by Ad Age’s Steve Rubel) to all of the goals he wants to achieve.
  • Central to his philosophy is questioning: What if I did the opposite of best practices? What if I did this task in reverse?
  • The worst time to learn a skill is when you really have to use it. Pressure is not your friend when picking up something new.
  • He cites the biggest impediment to learning a new skill is saying yes to too many things. Steve Jobs echoes this by way of his quote “Innovation is saying No to 1,000 things.”
  • Cute factoid: Before his first appearance at SXSW many years ago, Ferriss focused on max’ing his on-stage energy to keep audiences engaged by practicing in his friend’s garage in front of his three Chihuahuas. If his energy dropped, the Chihuahuas walked away (or worse, went to sleep). No-one can say this man isn’t dedicated to a high standard of quality.

I have found PR to be one of those professions where being effective gives you the thinking time to bring strategic value to your clients and most importantly to achieve a work/life balance that bears the gift of clarity (and sanity!). A 4-hour work week maybe not, but even adding a zero would land us PR folk in a pretty great place.

You should also check out Tim’s promo video for his new book, the 4-Hour Chef. Not only is it a slick piece of content, it synthesizes the 4-Hour Ethos, whether you’re looking to learn how to cook, learn a language or learn how to be.

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