Half-time Q&A Session

Several of us taking the writing challenge are regular listeners of The Tim Ferriss Show. We thought it would be fun to answer questions that Tim Ferriss regularly asks on his podcast.

Here goes:

When someone asks you what you do, how do you answer that?

If it’s someone in the web industry, freelance front-end web developer.

Otherwise, I build websites.

When you hear the word successful, who is the first person that comes to mind and why?

Success, to me, is someone who has a set of values and beliefs and acts accordingly. They’ve designed a life that lets them do what they enjoy and as little of what they don’t. Money often helps because it gives them the capacity to do more of what they enjoy. Wealth certainly isn’t a prerequisite to being successful, though. I’d argue that wealth often leads people further away from my definition of success.

By that definition, Derek Sivers jumps to mind. He’s not living by other people’s ideas of success or what other people want him to do. As far as I can tell, he spends all of his time on what interests him in the moment. He’s guided by his own internal compass, not external pressures.

What are you not very good at?

Being present. Particularly in larger groups. I often find myself in the past (I should have done this and that) or the future (I need to do this and that). Or I’m distracted taking photos. And then I’m plagued with guilt and discomfort because I didn’t enjoy the moment. It’s something I’m working on.

What is your favourite or most influential book? Why?

I don’t have a good answer to this question so I’m going for 3 books:

Wolf of the Plains by Conn Iggulden. It’s the first of 5 books about the epic story of Genghis Khan. This is the book that cemented my love for books. It was the first book I remember getting completely engrossed in.

CRUSH IT! by Gary Vaynerchuk. This book won’t tell you anything you haven’t heard before, but it will give you a ton of Gary’s positive energy. I read it at a time I needed it and it gave me the courage and motivation to start planning my freelance business.

Deep Work by Cal Newport. Those that have been following my writing know I keep harping on about Cal’s latest book. That’s because I think the topic is so important. Deep Work, the act of doing meaningful and valuable work in a none distracted state, is becoming increasingly important at the same time that it is becoming increasingly rare. This book gave me a rekindled enthusiasm for eliminating distractions which has greatly benefited my productivity and quality of work.

What’s a good documentary you’ve watched recently?

Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It follows 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, who has spent his life seeking perfection in sushi preparation, and his relation with his son and eventual heir, Yoshikazu. It’s a riveting story of obsession, excellence, and discipline. Chef’s Table is also a fantastic watch.

If you could go back and give your 20 year old self some advice, what would you say?

Well, I wouldn’t really change any of the experiences I had. I wouldn’t say “start freelancing sooner”, for example. My mindset would be very different today without those experiences.

It would be simple: read more and read better. Free up an hour to read every day. Explore books outside of your comfort zone. Books have radically expanded my horizons in the past 2 years. I just wish I’d started earlier.

If you could put a billboard anywhere, what would it say?

The best conversations don’t involve mobile phones.

What’s something that you’ve changed your mind about recently?

Spirituality. I thought it was a religious phenomenon and incompatible with science. Lately I’ve been exploring secular spirituality. It has opened my eyes to the possibility of a deeper connection to one’s self. I know that sounds a bit hippy and I’d have probably cringed at myself writing that 12 months ago.

What are you excited about right now?

Heading on a weekend break to Chester with my wife this afternoon. A chance to disconnect and explore, with good food and great company.