I’ve been keeping a secret from you guys for a long time and I just can’t keep it in anymore.
Tim Ferriss published his latest book, Tribe of Mentors, over a year ago. He asked to include me, and as you can imagine, I was humbled, excited, and scared as hell. If I said “yes,” then what would happen to the anonymity I have maintained all these years? If I said “no,” would I regret it for the rest of my life? Tim’s reach is millions of people vs. the thousands I get to reach with this blog every month. Could this be my Oprah Winfrey moment, when I got touched by someone mighty enough to transform my whole life overnight, and catapult my reach by a comma?
Tim tried his best to persuade me with the fact that Mr. Money Mustache had already agreed to be included in the book – even under his real name (p. 376: Pete Adeney). Tim pushed: “If the man behind the big mustache is willing to expose his true identity, isn’t it worth considering exposing the identity of the man behind the cartoon?” I wasn’t ready to come out from behind my cartoon just yet…but neither was I prepared to turn down Tim Ferriss. So, I compromised. I committed to an interview with no reference to my real-life name.
I was so scared about my identity getting leaked that I even refused to do a podcast that could be linked to the interview in the book, afraid that someone might recognize my voice. I agonized over answering the 11 questions for months. I mean, this was my one shot; I didn’t want to blow it. Every time I sat down in front of my computer, my sweaty palms thwarted my wordsmithing efforts. I felt like an imposter. Who was I to be included in this book of so many who have accomplished far more than me? I didn’t want to disappoint Tim, but most of all I didn’t want to disappoint the future readers who would have ponied up the $20 to buy the book.
I channeled Tim and cracked open a bottle of wine to calm the nerves and summon the muse – you know, the one that lives at the bottom of a nice bottle of Malbec. It worked! The ideas flowed as the vino did. I typed as feverishly as I could but still couldn’t keep up with the speed at which my mind was churning out words. I know I only type about 100 words a minute but in my creative (i.e., inebriated) state, it felt like my fingers were pounding out 500 words a minute at least. After only an hour I felt I had perfectly crafted my responses, saved the Word document I was working in, polished off the last glass of my second bottle of wine, and passed out on the couch. As they say, “all in a day’s work.”
That next morning is rough: my head is pounding, and my mouth is as dry as the Mojave. Water. I must get water. Now. Although I feel like crap, I can’t help but relive that magical hour from last night as I guzzle a gallon of water straight from the sink faucet. I finally understand why some of the best writers were either alcoholics or drug addicts (maybe not all, but some). Since I feel like a Mac truck has hit me (a Malbec truck?), I know this can’t be a “go to” method for me, but I’m still glad it worked for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Tim Ferriss is going to allow me to pontificate to his millions of readers! Now all I have to do is turn my computer on and send him my interview.
First, though, a shower. I need it to feel human instead of like a character from The Walking Dead.
Showered and dressed, I head to my home office. I power up my computer. There it is, my creation, perfectly saved, central on my desktop. I have even clearly labeled it “My Interview With Tim Ferriss.” For good measure, I double-click it open to review my brilliance before sending it off to Tim.
Noooooooo!!! You won’t believe what happened next. Or maybe you will.
My brilliant doc is almost completely blank. The only thing left are the 11 questions that Tim had originally sent me to answer.
This can’t be right! I devour my computer’s hard drive. I KNOW I saved this somewhere. Maybe in a different folder? I look everywhere. Nothing. How could I have forgotten to press save before shutting down last night? Wait, did last night even happen the way I remember it? Or did I get so wasted that I dreamt the whole thing up after blacking out?
Now I’m panicked. I had procrastinated until the last minute and now – two hours before my interview is due to Tim – I have nothing. I give myself a pep talk and convince myself that I can do this. I go back into the Word document to answer the 11 questions. Wine-free, I struggle but persevere. Sweating profusely, I email my interview off to Tim with five minutes to spare. He confirms receipt two minutes later, and thanks me for my contribution. He also says he would send me a copy of the final book when it’s complete.
I almost blew it! But I made it just in the nick of time. That is definitely not my typical style. I don’t do last minute. I’m a planner and I’m always early (I believe if you’re not early, you’re late). Never again.
It would be six months before the book is available for sale. Six months feels like six years as I wait anxiously, but it finally arrives in the mail, with a note from Tim. It says:
Thanks for agreeing to be a part of this book project. I’m sorry your interview didn’t make it. I didn’t have time to get back to you but when I opened the attachment you sent, all it had were the questions I had supplied you. Maybe next time. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the book.
WTF! I can’t believe it. I didn’t almost blow it, I went down in flames! I go back to my computer and open the Word document. I see that it does actually contain my answers to the 11 questions. Only after the fact, do I realize that I had attached the interview before pressing save – duh! I guess that’s what I get for waiting until the last minute.
So, the big secret isn’t that I almost had my interview included in Tim Ferriss’s book. It’s that I created this whole fiasco, and never reached the millions of people Tim does. I never planned to share my interview here on the blog because I didn’t want to relive the embarrassment, but now that enough time has passed I figure it’s better to get this out to at least thousands of people than to no one at all.
Here is the interview that almost made it into Tribe of Mentors.
(1) What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
(2) What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? My readers love specifics like brand and model, where you found it, etc.
(3) How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
(4) If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it – metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions – what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)
(5) What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)
(6) What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
(7) In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
(8) What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
(9) What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
(10) In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?
(11) When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)
WTF! Every time I try to copy over my interview only the questions come through. I guess the world was never meant to see my answers.
So anyway…Happy April Fool’s Day! At this point, I hope you realize that this was a completely fabricated story. Nonetheless, I do hope to eventually do something worthy of getting Tim’s attention and making my debut on his podcast.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. No fooling!
– Gen Y Finance Guy