After 10 years of helping people optimize their lives, Tim Ferriss stumbled upon a question that has helped him build an audience of millions

Tim Ferriss has built a career around finding the simplest and most efficient solutions to problems. Recently he realized he needed to take his own advice.

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Tim Ferriss has built a career around finding the simplest and most efficient solutions to problems. Recently he realized he needed to take his own advice.
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  • Bestselling author and podcast host Tim Ferriss has spent the last 10 years helping his audience optimize their lives.
  • He realized recently he should focus on asking himself, “What would this look like if it were easy?”
  • The question has helped him develop one of the world’s most popular podcasts as well as write his new book “Tribe of Mentors.”

Since the publication of “The 4-Hour Workweek” in 2007, Tim Ferriss has been building a career around lifestyle optimization, finding the simplest and most efficient ways to improve his life and learn new skills.

But even though this approach was the subject of his writing and video projects, he realized at some point in the last few years he wasn’t implementing it in his own life enough.

He began constantly asking himself, then, “What would this look like if it were easy?” he said in an interview for Business Insider’s podcast “Success! How I Did It.”

“As a Type A personality – someone who’s always been hyper competitive, very driven,” Ferriss said, “one of the proxy measurements of success can be effort, right? And I think that many people who are accustomed to being able to outwork other people, they use that as a blunt force instrument, and then when they have the opportunity to do something, insert a lot of unnecessary complexity that then causes all sorts of issues later.”

Ferriss explained in an episode of his own podcast last year that when he started his podcast in 2014, his research showed him that the majority of independent podcast series folded after three episodes because the creators became overwhelmed with editing.

He knew that without the resources of a large team or organization, he wasn’t going to be able to compete with the refined series from outlets like NPR. Faced with these circumstances, he asked himself what the easiest solution would be.

He decided that his podcast series, at least to start, would be longform, free form episodes with little to no editing, allowing him to produce more and test market interest. It turned out audiences found Ferriss and his guests to be engaging, and after receiving his proof of concept, Ferriss was able to continue to refine his series and make it more sophisticated. It’s now passed 250 million episode downloads.

Ferriss took the same approach to his 2017 book project, which became “Tribe of Mentors.” He had the idea to focus on his favorite questions that he uses in podcast interviews and explore them in depth, but wondered what the best approach would be. After considering writing for weeks exploring these questions, he asked himself, “What would this look like if it were easy?”

His answer required much less time: He could reach out over email to more than 100 high performing, interesting people across a wide variety of disciplines and ask them to answer his questions. The answers would not only provide material for a book, but give him his own life guide from the people he most admired.

“And that’s exactly what happened!” he said.