Click on the play button to hear my thoughts on this great interview

In This Episode…

If you aren’t already a subscriber of The Tim Ferriss Podcast then I strongly suggest you sign up – it’s AWESOME. In the past couple of weeks Tim interviewed Gary Keller (co-author of The One Thing) for TWO HOURS!

It was a wide ranging interview covering Gary’s career and mindset around business and success. However more importantly, the last hour focused on the philosophy of The One Thing (A book I reviewed in a recent episode of this podcast).

I took so many things away from this part of the interview that I wanted to share them with you and reflect on what they mean to me.

These insights included:

  • The power of Gary’s Focusing Question and how to apply it to all areas of your life.
  • The importance of creating systems and processes.
  • Why you should block out at least two hours every morning to focus on your One Thing before midday.
  • How “The Clearer Path To A Lesser Goal” is the biggest challenge people face when striving to succeed.
  • Why a morning routine is important
  • Examples of rules for making decisions – especially when you want to say “No” to a request for your time.
  • Gary’s simple but extremely powerful four word billboard statement.

Episode Show Notes To Follow…

00:08 – I strongly recommend you subscribe to the Tim Ferris Podcast. He is the author of the amazing “Four Hour…” series of books (…Work Week, ….Body, ….Chef) and more recently the brilliant Tools Of Titans and Tribe of Mentors.

00:14 – A recent guest on Tim’s podcast was Gary Keller, co-author of The One Thing, a book I have reviewed and been inspired by recently. I have drifted away from listening to every episode on his podcast recently but this was one interview I was definitely going to listen to, especially as Gary rarely does interviews.

01:55 – You can find episode where Tim Ferriss interviews Gary Keller here. It’s about two hours long. The first hour is about his background and business success. This is interesting to listen to as his back story is fascinating. However, the juice for me (and this podcast) happens after the hour mark.

03:30 – After this point in the interview, Tim hones in on Gary’s approach to productivity and getting stuff done. I am going to share just some of the insights that jumped out at me.

03:58 – The first one is the focusing question:

What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

Gary Keller, The One Thing

04:15 – This is a really powerful question and I understood that from reading The One Thing. However, what this interview did was add more texture to the power of this question and how it can be used.

  • 05:11 – It is not a question you should be asking yourself every minute of the day about your productivity because you’ll just be hugely reactive. It is best used when taking a long term focus on your work/business.
  • 05:54 – You could use the question to look at how you exercise or the approach to your diet.
  • 06:15 – You could use the question to focus on how to improve key relationships in your life.
  • 06:44 – A great use of the question was about developing new habits – “what’s the one habit that I can develop such that everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” He says that the ability to create new habits was a superpower because it is hard to do.

07:16 – Tim Ferriss pushed Gary Keller quite a bit on the development of new habits. Keller called it a “Habit Hack”:

  • He recommends associating yourself with a group of people who will support you in achieving your habit.
  • Set up the environment to support the development of the new habit.
  • Find a guru (he called them a “prophet”) who you can follow to support you in a particular area of your life.
  • 08:16 – Who is the one guru you could follow [in that area of your life] that would make following anyone else irrelevant?

08:49 – The next big insight that jumped out at me was the creation of systems to take yourself out of the equation. This ties in with the efficiency level of my Pyramid of Personal Productivity. [NOTE – I first introduced this concept in Episode 018 but since then it has modified slightly to reflect the evolution of my experiences.]

My Pyramid Of Personal Productivity

09:26 – With an effective system, you can hand off work to other people and consistently get the same results. As a systems engineer by training, I love that approach.

09:51 – The next thing that struck a chord with me was something I have realised for myself over the course of publishing this podcast. He has a principle of aiming to get his important daily workload done by 1200 noon.

10:05 – The reason is our willpower depletes during the day. So it is best to block out your One Thing to be done in the morning. The afternoon can be used for less important tasks or those that are relatively mundane. This has worked really well for me.

11:42 – Gary Keller uses a paper based system for his planning. I felt quite smug to share that approach too (I must be doing something right!). I have a paper based 3 month plan, a weekly plan and a daily plan. I experimented with extending my time horizon to a week in episode 072. And then extended it to 3 months in episode 107.

12:34 – He struggled with using electronic devices and told a great story about having a “gunfight” with someone – paper vs electronic – he won!

13:07 – A big habit that serves me really, really well is that of planning tomorrow at the end of today. Keller’s advice confirms my approach, especially when it allows me to identify when I can fit in the routine and mundane tasks around my One Thing/Main Thing.

13:43 – In the book The One Thing, Keller says this:

A big challenge people often have is they face a clearer path to a lesser goal.

Gary Keller, The One Thing

14:10 – I didn’t really understand the full implications of this when I read it in the book, but in the interview with Tim Ferriss, it suddenly became clearer.

14:37 – Success in any endeavour requires hard work, persistence, overcoming challenges and dealing with all sorts of obstacles. Not everyone is willing to do that. Even the more hardy will often take an easier path when it is presented to them. This is what he meant by “facing a clearer path to a lesser goal“.

15:20 – I have seen that happen with me time and time again.

15:35 – A habit I also share with Gary Keller is that of a morning exercise routine. I use meditation, stretching and bodyweight resistance training (ok, pushups!). He has a CardioVascular and weights routine.

16:15 – The big insight I got from Gary about his morning routine, was the importance of High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.). I am aware of this and have even tried it in the past when I was going to the gym. However I didn’t realise the importance of the mix of high and low intensity bursts.

16:38 – The repeated contraction and expansion of the arteries during the changes in intensity between high and low gives the heart a much better workout than a steady state level of intensity during the workout.

17:10 – Another thing that came out of the interview was the power of having a set of rules for making decisions. In it’s simplest form, he says no to everything.

17:43 – What I liked about this was his approach to saying no. He has a number of strategies and scripts he uses. For example – “I’d really like to say yes but if I have to say yes to anybody then I have to say yes to everybody and I just don’t have the space to do that“.

18:15 – Another “script” he uses is this: “Look I plan my schedule a year in advance and unfortunately I am already booked for that day”.

18:37 – This identified the biggest challenge I think we have to overcome in being productive. It is not what we say yes to, but what we say no to.

19:08 – A standard question Tim asks his guests is what message they would put on a billboard. Gary’s answer:

Think Big, Aim High

Gary Keller, Interview with Tim Ferriss

19:13 – His reason is why would you ever plan for anything mediocre!

19:56 – This was an amazing interview to listen to for a productivity nerd and geek like me and is one I’ll definitely return to time and time again. And that is why I recommend it to you too.

Until tomorrow…

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