Tim Ferriss: Seneca on steroids

Here’s a decent New Yorker profile of Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur, self-experimenter and self-help guru. The journalist clearly put the work in, but I don’t think the profile fully captures Tim’s craziness, his eccentricity. Tim says he sees himself as less PT Barnum and more like Thoreau or Seneca – although surely neither of them possessed his talent for self-promotion. Actually, Seneca was pretty good at that, and at financial management too (he was one of the richest people in Rome at one point). But Cicero was the true master of self-promotion – he’d write two copies of every letter he sent, one for the recipient, one to be circulated to the general public! If you want to read a how-to manual of self-promotion, read Cicero’s On Duty.

Anyway, Ferriss is to be credited for bringing Stoicism to a much wider audience – and for bringing ancient self-help into the modern age with his self-tracking technology. Socrates’ student Xenophon tells us that Socrates “strongly encouraged his companions to be careful about their health…and to study their own constitutions throughout life, to see what food or drink or what kind of exercise was good for them individually…He said that anyone who observed themselves in this way would find it hard to find a doctor who could recognize what was good for their health better than they could themselves.” That’s Tim Ferriss in a nut-shell. Here’s his Google talk on Seneca:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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