Tim Ferriss on Mastery: Start with End Game and Make Space for Creativity

Tim Ferriss on Mastery: Start with End Game and Make Space for Creativity


One of the concepts that comes up over and
over again with prolific creative minds that I’ve interviewed for the Tim Ferriss Show
or for the book Tools of Titans is creating empty space. And one of the guests Josh Waitzkin, who never
does any media, can I curse on this? He always texts me with profanity laden SMSs
because I’m the only one who can pull him out of his cave to do media. But he is best known perhaps as the chest
prodigy, and I’ll explain why I put that in air quotes, besides how funny it looks on
camera, that formed the basis or who formed the basis for Searching for Bobby Fischer,
both the book and the movie. He was a very well known chess player and
continues to be an incredible chess player. But he has applied his learning framework
to more than chess. So he was a world champion in tai chi push
hands, he was the first black belt in Brazilian jujitsu under the phenom probably the best
of all time Marcelo Garcia, who trains in New York City and he’s a nine-time world champion
something like that. And he’s now tackling paddle surfing and he
can apply it to just about anything. He works with some of the top financial mines
in the world, hedge fund managers and beyond, the best of the best; top one percent. So, why? What are the principles that he shares? One of them is creating empty space, cultivating
empty space as a way of life, and these are all tied together so I’ll mention another
one. Learning the macro from the micro and then
beginning with the end in mind. And these all work together. So I’ll explain in fact the last two first. Josh learned to play chess or I should say
more accurately was coached by his first real coach in the opposite direction when compared
to most training and most chess books. He was taught in reverse. What does that mean? He began with the end game and with very few
pieces. So they cleared all the pieces off the board,
instead of starting with openings, meaning what do you do first the first five to ten
moves, he started with the ending game with king and pawn versus king. What does this do? Well this forces you to focus on principles
like opposition, creating space, zugzwang, which is a principle of forcing your opponent
to do anything that will destroy their position or anything they can possibly do will worsen
their position. And these types of principles that you learn
when there’s an empty board with a few pieces accomplish a few things. Number one, you are learning the macro, the
principles that you can apply throughout the game of chess in almost any scenario through
the micro, this end game situation. And these principles are adaptable. You become a machine that can bob and weave
with the circumstances very effectively. Compared to that, as Josh would put it, if
you’re memorizing the openings, and this might be like memorizing recipes if you’re learning
to cook, you’re effectively stealing the answers from the teacher’s guidebook to a test and
you’ll be able to beat your friends for a while and maybe even be considered a pretty
decent chess player, but on a deep level you don’t understand the game and you will hit
a ceiling and you will never progress past that and you’ll get beaten by really good
players. So that can be applied to, for instance, Brazilian
jujitsu. Josh taught me basically all of the most important
principles of jujitsu through one move, at the end the game, which is a choke called
The Guillotine, which Marcello was famous for. His version was called The Marcelotine, but
it’s effectively like this you’re choking someone’s head in here and he has a weird
way of doing it where he puts his forearm on top of your shoulder. It’s pretty wicked. If you want to be put unconscious you can
go to that gym and experience that yourself. But that can also be applied to many, many
other things. For instance, if you’re trying to build a
startup, this is a common trendy thing to do these days and I think everybody should
start a business at some point. But in the startup game in say Silicon Valley
where I live if you’re going to go into the venture backed world, well you and your founder
better think a lot about the end game and you should definitely have an agreement, at
least a working agreement, tentative agreement on what type of exit, say acquisition offer
is acceptable to you. If those end goal components aren’t in place
then it’s just a slow motion train wreck waiting to happen. And how might you do that? Well, if you’re trying to learn the macro
from the micro you can think about what the acquisition agreement might look like. So you could talk to lawyers, get a sample
template agreement and look at the provisions, look at the clauses and then reverse engineer
it so that when you’re forming the company, when you’re hiring employees your decisions
at that point make it possible to have that contract at the end. This is another example. Micro, maybe it’s a 10/20-page document. Macro, building a company that gets acquired
by a much, much larger company. So that is learning the macro from the micro. Another example, just because I brought up
cooking, would be say choosing a recipe that involves two or three primary techniques and
perhaps three to five primary ingredients that apply in many, many, many different dishes. So you’re learning principles of say flavor
combination, principles of using convection versus shallow frying or sautéing versus
steaming that apply across the board. And in doing so let’s say you do it without
a recipe, without a timer or I should say a meat thermometer or something like that,
you’re going to learn also to test the food to know whether it is done or not. That then applies to everything. But you can do it just a learning how to make
Harissa crab cakes with the steam broccoli and I have no idea say candied yams something
like that. So that’s that. And we’re also talking about the ending game. So we’ve covered that. Creating or cultivating empty space is a way
of life. This is very important to Josh Waitzkin who
I mentioned, it’s very important to people like Paul Graham, who’s cofounder of Y Combinator,
which is like the Navy SEALs Harvard of startup accelerators, keeping it simple let’s just
call it that for now. If you are a creator, if you are a maker and
not a manager, this is important, which by the way is a decision so a lot of really good
entrepreneurs start as a technician or a tactician they’re very, very good at one thing then
they end up in a managerial role that they hate. It doesn’t mean you have to stay there, and
you see a lot of folks like Evan Williams and others who then at some point realize
this and return it to a more product focused role even if they are also the CEO of making
some high-level 30,000-foot decisions. Okay. But if you are a maker, if you’ve decided
to be a maker, if you just happen to be a maker or creator let’s call it three to five
hour uninterrupted blocks of time are extremely critical if you want to connect the dots,
if you want to have the space to allow yourself to have original ideas or at least original
combinations of ideas you really need to block out that time and protect it at least once
a week. So in Tools of Titans there are many people
who do this, Remet Set, for instance, who has a very, very successful multi, multi million
dollar business that he built out of a blog he started long ago in college, which was
very, very niche in its focus, he blocks out I believe it’s every Wednesday for three to
five hours of time he’ll block it out for learning. Noah Kagan another entrepreneur does the same
thing. So on Wednesdays for me I have from 9:00 a.m.
to 1:00 p.m., this is pre-lunch, I have creation, that means writing, recording or some similar
aspect of in my mind creating with my skillset and my assets. And it is extremely important that I do that
before I’m barraged by inputs. In other words, and this is true of Josh as
well, first thing in the morning he’s doing journaling. Reid Hoffman, a billionaire, cofounder or
founder of LinkedIn, same story. He will plant a seed in his mind the night
before a problem he wants to solve, a project he wants to think about improving perhaps
and then waking up, tabula rasa complete blank slate immediately working on that problem
with journaling before any text messages, before any email, which is why, for instance,
I don’t have email set up on my phone. I do not have mail set up on my iPhone. I do not get to notifications. I also put my phone on airplane mode for a
lot of reasons, for our body to explain some other physical ones, but onto airplane mode
when I go to bed and it stays in airplane mode until I’m done with my creation period
and then it comes on. Because as soon as you go into bullet dodging
or like Wonder Woman bullet blocking mode with everyone else’s agenda for your time,
which is very often the inbox or text messages, you’re DOA, you’re done. Your creativity is all for not in general. So for me, for many people who are say programming,
for musicians, for creative types slack in the system, you have to create slack. You have to create space. You have to create large uninterrupted blocks
of time and the only way to do that is to put it on your calendar. If it’s not on your calendar it’s not real,
you need to put it in your calendar and defend it just like you would anything else.

100 thoughts on “Tim Ferriss on Mastery: Start with End Game and Make Space for Creativity

  1. True. I've done this. Not on the calendar yet, but my natural laziness and self-satisfaction, helps me create creative time, in chunks. I'm self-employed, so that makes it easier. I'm a musician, and all of this applies.

  2. Well not when you playing simultaneously… And all kinds of elements are thrown in which are unknown… Could end pretty bad

  3. To be fair, he's not the first chess GM to learn "backwards", JR Capablanca learned the endgame first. To this day, nearly every GM tries to be as good as Capablanca in liquidation and endgame technique.

  4. Well I must be the most ignorant fool on the planet because most of what I just heard sounds like a massive load of BS. Its all about the end right. So I should think about selling my business before I even start it. Master kung fu before you learn the basics. The only people who can reach the top without climbing their way up there are the people who are already rich. Their BS is not going to help you. At least the space part makes some sense but jut call it making time for yourself and be done with it. Sure wish I would have spaced out the 10 minutes I wasted on this video on something else.

  5. I know what TF says has to be taken with a grain of salt. That being said, he is hitting on how DoD thinks about strategic planning. Begin with the endstate in mind. I'm also not saying that is the best way, it is just a way.

  6. I play chess like this even before coming to this video because when playing against droidfish I realized I could trade but had trouble planning throughout the middle and endgame and would get crushed. but one day I said no more I will trap them so I started cutting off they're exit squares and playing solid defense next thing you know I'm doing OK not winning but OK so anyone watching this know this is a great philosophy kudos sir for sharing

  7. I hate it how he always explains the obvious and gets honored for that, every idiot can tell you that being the weakest in a room means that you can learn much, every idiot can tell you that you can think about a problem to solve it… this guy is successfull because he is intelligent enough to not be retarded, but at the same time stupid enough to talk boring shit which is interesting for the average-'stupid' society

  8. I learned that the "end game" also applies to writing books, mostly fiction. What is the ending? What is the plot building up to? I like to start here, then build the beginning, then put the middle together to connect the dots. This allows me to read the end of the story, go back to the beginning and add in some epic foreshadowing, then slowly build back up to the ending. Sadly I learned this over years upon years of research, so I had to rewrite my book several times, because when I read the original story again, I saw it was crap. .-.

  9. Marcello Garcia is not the greatest jiu-jitsu practitioner of all time you moron have you even heard of the Gracie's? Clearly you are using hyperbole to sell your ideas, makes me wonder what else you are talking shit about.

  10. Love how the bog standard way of teaching chess is presented as revolutionary and new. Also love how that method is generalized to other areas. Especially when Chess is all about how the particulars trump the general in every case. I guess it it is all in he buzzwords.

  11. That's odd… starting with 'end game' is how you learn chess. At least it's how I was taught. I am not sure why Tim is making it out to be so unorthodox.

  12. Great advice, thanks for this. really helpful and definitely going to start implementing the morning creative space.

  13. I loved those interviews with Josh. As Tim was talking my memory recalled different snippets like how Marcelo (?) was not concerned with his opponents watching him train before a competition. Also the importance of learning principles that can be applied to many domains. Interestingly I also recalled where I was when tuned in.

  14. The name-dropping is very irritating 😠. Dude, tell us what your opinion is, we want to hear from you, not what this person that did it and that person that didn't do it. Be yourself stop living under other people's shadows

  15. well i didnt understand shit, thats tims problem he may know interesting stuff but he fails to explain in a simple general way

  16. I enjoyed Four Hour Work Week, but this shit was just boring. I suspect a gimmick to make him more money since FHWW sales may have slowed lol

  17. Amen. As an artist, professionally and personally, I find my time under assault constantly.
    "Me time" has to occur to allow for creation. Amen.

    Thanks, man. Good to hear someone else say it too.

  18. Someone please reply so I may confirm my understanding or redefine it. When Tim was talking about starting with the end game, that's essentially learning the basics with a complex idea? Such as by following the most complex recipe you learn other fundamental skills rather than just one or two when starting with a basic recipe?

  19. Josh Waitzkin's book "The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance" was received poorly by the scientific community because it was significantly devoid of data and research. Now BigThink wants to 1 view from us to listen about how this guy is someone we should listen to to form our own (how our brain works) models of human information processing?

    BigThink, what are you doing?

    Industry is having a slick little influence on academia

  20. I think there is perhaps 30s worth of actual useful advice in here. The rest is just pointless buzzwords and filler. What does "creating blank space" even mean??!

  21. Start with the end in mind, but once you get your feet wet the goal must be forgotten. Truly skillful mastery of anything requires giving up conscious attention, which is slow to react or adapt once it becomes focused on something, allowing one's subconscious to learn the dance without being constantly analyzed or second guessed by the clumsy conscious mind.

  22. This is another essential video, well-explained and straight to the point. Thanks a ton for videos like this.. they truly help! 🙂

  23. There's a lot of wisdom in this. Look at how many great philosophers did their work in isolation, and praised it; Nietzsche, Marx, Seneca, Schopenhauer… You need to find a home within yourself, and defend it.

  24. okay for one thing stay on point and finish the thought before you go into the next one because you keep bouncing around from point-to-point without finishing the last point before you go to the next point

  25. just waking up and creating has a lot to do with brainwaves and shutting down your prefrontal cortex. a lot of journalists do this, OR very late in night (not healthy). also he looks like corey taylor

  26. Mark Dvoretzki, arguably the world's most recognized chess trainer, who sadly passed away last year, also set the focus on endgames when teaching chess.

  27. once a week to block out 5 hrs quite space? that's not enough! Everyday we need 4-5 hrs. of empty space and creativity!

  28. Tim Ferris, the master of framing basic truisms in a way that is perfectly palatable to anyone who wants to find a trick to become the person they have always fantasized about being. Sure if you pick and choose the things he says you could find something that's useful, or you could just start working really fucking hard at whatever your goal is. Create your own systems. If you're prepared to become a "master" at something, then discovering how to make yourself extremely efficient and effective shouldn't be a problem. There are no hacks.

  29. …and then there's recognizing the macro from the macro.

    Thinking big about the end game of a company should be put in context of what it means to be a temporary creature in nature. Most can feel empathy for others that suffer and have altruistic genes to want to do something about it, as well as the choice to listen to selfish genes, that benefit much smaller circles.

    Examples would be Bill Gates or Elon Musk, using success to drive inclusive ideals.

  30. I think that way of teaching chess isn't way off than what most teachers would use. What happens is that it isolates more the logic elements, with less pieces, less problems to consider. Focus on the more basic, intrinsic patterns, rather than larger, contextual, patterns of openings and mid-game. I guess most chess instructors don't teach much of chess openings until the student is quite proficient already. But I guess it makes for a better story to say one has learnt in a different, special way.

  31. Disappointed. Felt very generic and empty. Too many (kinda useless) words, questionable examples…

  32. Whether it's true or not i'd like to try implementing these and see for myself. Any music producers thought about how to start from the endgame and work backwards? Start from the mastering phase?? Or maybe practice arranging first before starting from a blank slate.

  33. This video impacted my life in a great and positive way. Thank you for this. You are making a difference in the world.

  34. When my dad taught me how to play chess, in the 1950s, he started with the end game, I.e., with just a queen and king against his lone king, and with other combination. In the 1950s.

  35. This is the famous discovery of hot water. Everone studies endgame first in chess at least since Casablanca explicitly pointed it out. Guys, it is time to work for real instead of relying on selling "enlightened" crap to people.

  36. Absolutely, I cosign the fuck out of that shit!!!! Micro-distractions are the worst because you don't think of it as a distraction, but they add up

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *