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Tim Ferriss On Suicide, Fear of Failure, And The Secret to Success
Last Updated May 5th, 2015

Tim Ferriss thought about killing himself…

…Now he’s a best-selling author, wildly successful investor, and entrepreneur.

On this new podcast, for the first time ever, Tim Ferriss talks about his troubled beginnings — and how he became the Tim Ferriss we know today.

And you can listen to the whole thing for free.

We go deep.

People always ask Tim questions like, “How do you sell so many books, “how do you land equity deals,” and “how do you get so much traffic?”

But those questions are misguided.

Here’s why:

There are other battles fought – and won – behind the scenes. And These skirmishes, while rarely talked about, have the biggest impact on whether you live a status quo life or an exceptional life.

Want to know more? Tim and I talk about all of this and more on the podcast.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(And here’s the MP3 download link)

Note: Want the transcript? Download it right here.

Also – if you like this podcast, and want me to host MORE podcasts just like this, please go to iTunes and leave an honest review.

More specifically, we’ll cover:

* The quickest way to cure any bad mood (use this when you’re feeling down, mad, or just need a pick-me-up)

* What happens when people crack under pressure – and how to prevent it from happening to you.

* How to eliminate the fear of failure TODAY

* And of course: how Tim Ferriss became the Tim Ferriss we know today (a best-selling author, wildly successful investor, and entrepreneur).

Now listen to the podcast.

And if you have any experience with anything we talked about, I’d love for you to open up in the comments.

Both Tim and I talk about the good and the bad. And it’s OKAY if everything isn’t as perfect as it seems on the outside.

Share your story in the comments.

Show Notes:

1. The Tim Ferriss Show (His podcast)

2. The Tim Ferriss Experiment (his tv show)

3. “Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)

P.S. I’ve had an on and off again relationship with podcasting. And while this is the first podcast I released in more than a year, I believe it was worth the wait. So listen to it today.

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42 comments Leave a comment

Hey Derek and Tim,

I just wanted to thank you for sharing this, it made me feel a whole lot better about the situation I am going through at the moment.



Derek, just finished listening to your podcast, long after you first published it. Am so glad I took the time. It is good to know that people like you and Tim have overcome the challenges with depression and disadvantage to be were you are today. Equally important is the reminder that we all have to learn to deal with disappointment and “failure.” I am definitely going to put more effort into doing more reading. Thank you also for the reminder to be more grateful for the good things I have in my life (there are many).


Hi Derek & Tim,

Really enjoyed this podcast guys – thanks for the authenticity and keeping it so real! I recently saw the Pixar Movie Inside Out – not sure if you’ve both seen it but it’s a fun way to simplify our emotions and tap into our feelings. Would be even more awesome for you guys to team up with Pixar and make a movie on the emotional journey of entrepreneurs – how cool would that be! Thanks again. Love & Light, Ebony


Derek, I checked out your show notes to find out the book titles, etc. that were mentioned and recommended in the podcast. Since I listen on the go it’s not always possible to write these sorts of things down while listening, nor do I know at what time stamps in the show these thing were mentioned. Any chance you’ve got a list you could add to the notes? Thanks!


Great podcast to start my week! Thank you Social Triggers.


Paradigm shift… experiments… I have heard this before, but as with many topics we need to hear it from the right people in the right context in order to absorb it. Thank you both. 🙂

Salman Aslam

One of the best podcasts I’ve listened so far this year. I saw Tim’s trailer of his experiment show and was blown away by it, it was like next level Hollywood scene 😀


Man! I didnt knew you had a podcast! And I follow you for years! Wow the new website kickass! Its so minimalistic and sexy. So interactive 🙂 DEEEREK! Why dont you release your resources tool kit? maybe a pdf with all your favorite books, posts, blogs, softwares and apps :)?



Jodi Raymond

Absolutely amazing! You were both so genuine and open. I feel lucky to have been a fly on the wall during this conversation and definitely learned a lot. I believe our stories connect us all in a way that nothing else can. After hearing this, I feel not only connected to you two but two the entire community of entrepreneurs.

I love the concept of role models and mentors that you have never met. I’ve been addicted to self help books since I was about 18 and never thought of these people as my mentors but they are. I count you both as my mentors. Thank you for all that you do and share!

Jennifer Kilkenny

Good stuff. Super inspiring. So glad you shared this. Entrepreneurs do live on an emotional rollercoaster. I had no idea it would be like this when I took over ownership of my business, but I’ve learned so much along the way and have forced myself to face that “worst case scenario,” consequence in order to decide “is it worth it?” It’s almost always worth it when you do that. “What’s the worst case scenario? If it happens, can I live with it?” Helps me keep powering through. I still have bad moments almost every single day, but it’s getting better and easier to move beyond the self-doubt and anxiety.

Girls in Tech Las Vegas recently hosted an event that was all about entrepreneurial wellness. We also participated in the Catalyst Week here in Downtown Las Vegas where we talked all about how connecting with other business owners through GITLV has helped us maintain a healthier lifestyle…and it even saved a member’s life.


Derek, this was a phenomenal podcast. The conversation about depression needs to continue. It is so valuable for Tim, someone who many people admire and think “has it all,” to be honest and open about what he has worked through – and still works through. Bravo. I know how incredibly hard that was to do. The discomfort is almost overwhelming. When I wrote my post about depression and the small business owner (you both were spot on) for Carol Roth’s blog, I almost published it anonymously until the last second. When people with big platforms are honest about their challenges, other people who need the information the most potentially find it. My sincere thanks to both you and Tim.

Samantha Sullivan

I love that you and Tim got together to work and speak on this topic. I’ve been following both of your success for a while and this was such a gift. I appreciate it, and I know a lot of readers do too. Great job Tim and Derek.

I think suicide and the low points can be a gift if you utilize them to push you further towards authentic purpose and desire. Those times can give you the laser focus to decide what’s right for you and the determination to give up pursuing things that aren’t. I see The Four Hour Work Week as a testament to that.

Samantha Sullivan
(Author of upcoming Kickstarter novel Confessions of an Ex-Suicidal Girl)

Bill Honnold

This was the best podcast I’ve ever listened to (and I listen to quite a few).

You both have inspiring backstories. There were so many nuggets of wisdom and hard-learned lessons that I’ll listen to this over and over again for inspiration and ideas.

The transcript is valuable too.

Thanks Derek.


Look what I found, Letters From a Stoic Podcast



This was really GOOD! I am a DNA-Entrepreneur… I have been a brick and mortar business owner for over 29 years and decided to be the “Business” in 2013-14! This was the hardest year of MY LIFE! Finding out who “The Fuck Am I” (first chapter in my book) I ended up creating a law for Entrepreneurs. The Law of F.U.C.K. T.H.A.T.T. 5 Principles to Live by in Life and Business. (Finally Understanding Common Knowledge, Things Happen All The Time) is what the acronym stands for. The 5 Principles are 1. Decision 2. Trust 3. Focus 4. Inspired Action and 5. Enjoy the Journey Along the Way! and What a Journey it has been! Listening to this remind’s me of many of my businesses and what I went through! I’m looking forward to being on your podcast one day!

Cabrini Schnyder,
Author | Orator | Entrepreneur Coach


Im a huge fan of your podcasts Derek, hope there are more to come.

Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide | The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

[…] I hadn’t talked about this traumatic period publicly until last week, first in a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), then in greater depth on Derek Halpern’s podcast. […]


School certainly sucks. It tortures all kids….pushes them to the brink. I can’t wait until Tim has kids (should have stuck with the girlfriend he mentioned!) and becomes a huge homeschooling advocate! Nice to see fellow Long Islanders hooking up…

Jake Antelis

Fantastic episode, thanks.

Armando Negrete

Super cool that you come back to podcasting, I was waiting for it, because I don’t have the time to read your post (all) What amazing return, can’t wait to listening this. BTW love your website.


As a person who has struggled with depression for many decades, I was so grateful for this show. Thanks for sharing so honestly Tim, and thanks Derek as always for bringing this to us. Both my sister and I are entrepreneurial types and have depression (periodic bouts) stemming from our childhood. It is interesting to hear that people with this struggle are somehow attracted to this lifestyle. I imagine it both hurts and heals them, particularly if they don’t find lifestyle practices to manage it.

Shawna Thompson

Hey Derek,

I am one of Your students in Yes Engines right now and I just want you to know I’m super greatfull for all you do and put out there!
This was awesome and much needed for me today. Love you man!


Derek, Thank you so much for putting this out there. I’ve been a Tim Ferriss fan for a long time. Many of the interviews I’ve heard over the years seemed to be at such a high altitude it didn’t connect with me. I’m at a new beginning in business and it was really refreshing to hear about struggles. We usually learn tons more from others’ struggles than successes!
Thanks again!


Derek. I love this so much I almost pee’d my pants (as Julia Roberts might have said..)

But seriously, what you and Tim were talking about, the hard-wiring due to early trauma and adverse childhood experiences.. (thank-you for sharing the adversity you grew up with) DOES NOT need to be hard wired.

I teach folks about to soften that wiring, reboot, unwire and rewire. It can happen. I’ve seen it happen.

Going to “downplay” this, cause I don’t know folks who know you, = )
(but I was once at a Marie Forleo event that you spoke at),

and I know my work and discoveries would totally shed light on the harsh ups and downs you speak of. Doesn’t have to be that way.

Anyways — you have my details now if you are curious and interested in rewiring the “hardwiring” —–

Thanks again.


Bruce Campbell

Thanks for getting this out, Derek. The more people open up about their personal struggles, the more we all learn and grow, in empathy and in practical skills for dealing with the downs.


Thanks for this podcast. It dealt seriously – and positively – with a most serious problem: depression – along with getting to know a seriously cool dude: Tim Ferriss. I have suffered from this malady and the subsequent suicidal ideations – especially when I’ve had issues with work/career/relationship disappointments (perceived failures – operative word: perceived) . My perceptions can be seriously skewed, so its great to deal to hear some positive and very specific ways to deal with these life issues. And it was also interesting to hear his shout out for Stoic Philosophy.
Thanks very much.

    Derek Halpern

    This podcast is definitely different than what I usually publish here at Social Triggers, but the message is important. And that’s why we talked about it.


Very grateful for this podcast guys. My mum has sufferred severe depression for years which we as a family have struggled with. And for myself, as an entrepreneurial creative A-Type personality, whilst I don’t think I have depression, I definately struggle with internal demons and an internal dialogue which I am constantly managing, living with or overcoming. Thanks for sharing and being a stand for what is “really” there just underneath the surface for us all xxx

Belah Rose

For some reason this episode isn’t showing up on iTunes. I’d really like to listen to it that way…thx!

    Derek Halpern

    Trying to figure out what’s going on now.

Joshua Berg

We often hear of rags to riches story and think, “why doesn’t that happen to me?” But, hearing what really goes into becoming a success, one realizes the struggle, commitment and hard work necessary. It’s not that it happens to anyone – we make it happen. Thank you for the inspiring podcast.


I appreciate this podcast because I believe most people think entrepreneurs wake up one day and are successful. We don’t get the ‘real story’ of how entrepreneurs get started and what they go through to become successful. Most people see the end result and think that it was all sunshine and roses, and maybe it is for some entrepreneurs. One of the reasons why I like Shark Tank is because the audience gets to hear an entrepreneur’s story and their struggles. It gives you perspective.

Catherine | Fit Armadillo

Really enjoyed this podcast! Thanks, Derek!

I’m a HUGE fan of Tim’s after reading The 4 Hour Workweek. So often as entrepreneurs we look at our role models and think they must have something we don’t have or that things must have been easy for them. Obviously, this isn’t true! We all start from nothing and we all go through ups and downs. Really appreciate Tim being so honest with us and you bringing this interview to us, Derek. Keep the awesome podcasts coming!


Great episode Derek. Thank you for recording this for us!

It’s so awesome to “meet” the real person behind the success, by listening to a podcast such as this one or by watching Tim’s “Random Show”.

A lot of people forget that even with websites and businesses as big as yours or Tim’s, there’s still a Person behind all of the work. Projects like the 4-Hour Chef or your Zippy Course don’t fall from the sky, but someone worked really hard for a really long time to make it happen.

I find it sad that people nowadays have such an entitlement attitude and in a way, you touched on this too in this podcast (be glad that you have computer and a pair of shoes):

When Tim released his show just recently, some folks were calling him names and spouting all sorts of angry BS because the show is geo-limited to the US for legal reasons that are beyond Tim’s control. They’re not entitled to getting this content, yet they feel like they are.

Anyways, a little gratefulness goes a long way, so thanks again for putting this podcast together and all the other work you do.


this material is exactly what i need right now! again, you read my mind, Derek…

last week I finalized my very first pr project for a client (i’ve been working in media for almost a decade but this job was totally new to me and for a really big client) and the outcome of it turned me into a complete maniac! i had unbelievably high expectations about the event (not sure where those came from) — in the end the client was happy, the guests were pleased, but since it didn’t turn out like I planned in my head (perfection!), I couldn’t stop beating myself up and thinking how badly I failed. I guess I just really needed a HUGE success in my life but failed to define what a success really could have been. Pulling myself back together right now — I already have one important thing to add to my 5-minute journal: I am very lucky that the people around me didn’t turn their backs on me when I drove them to the edge last week. Thank you.


Derek and Tim,

Wonderful interview, and especially appreciate the getting honest about struggles on both your parts. I just read an article yesterday about anxiety disorders being on the rise for the younger generation. One of the reasons listed for this rise is the “filtered” lives that are constantly being consumed through social media (and though they didn’t mention this, I think also personal branding applies here). I think it’s incredibly important and powerful for those behind personal brands to share their personal struggles, and Tim, you hit the nail on the head when you said not doing so is a kind of selfishness. I think more of this could go a long way in easing the anxiety of the younger generations coming up.

Derek, can you provide the link to the blog post you mentioned where you talk about the mentors you had to find for yourself because you weren’t finding it from family?

Again, awesome interview, thanks.

Seth Perler

Wow-great new look on the site. Beautiful design, great UE
Thanks for the insight on Tim. I listen to his podcast regularly and it’s good to hear this perspective. Reminds me exactly of the type of students I work with, and the fact that with the right tools they CAN and DO overcome obstacles.
Derek, this is a high quality podcast on multiple levels, I’m impressed! It would be good if the player stood out more.

Patrick DeCesaro


I’m only 20 minutes into this podcast. But I wanted to go ahead and thank you now for talking about this subject with Tim.

Tim is right that it’s rare that folks will talk about these kinds of challenging times, and hearing this discussion let’s me know that 1.) I’m not alone in these kinds of experiences and 2.) You likely have many listeners with similar experiences.

Again, thank you!

Best regards,


Wow I am loving the new look of your blog site Derek! 🙂 .. very nice man!

I’m a Tim Ferris fan … so I’m enjoying this Podcast!

You should do more of these, more often, Derek!

I like the tips Tim is giving out. Everyone goes through these emotions at some point of a journey to success. Especially when you are going for your biggest dreams in your life – a lot of failures and hard times can really get to you at times.

Thank you for sharing this man. I appreciate Tim sharing his knowledge with us.

Keep up the great work here!

Have a great week!

CHeers! 😀

Michael D Gorman

Your opt-in pop up made Flash crash and interrupted the podcast, might be an idea to disable this on podcast pages 🙂

    Derek Halpern

    Sorry about that. Will look into it.

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