Ilya Vasilenko
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17 Questions That Changed My Life by Tim Ferriss: Summary & Notes


“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” — Mark Twain

Stress-test the boundaries and experiment with "impossibles". Reality can be quite flexible in many situations. If something seems impossible, whether you believe it or someone tells you so, try experimenting and questioning it. You'll often discover that solutions can stretch much further than you might expect.

To achieve this, you require the appropriate set of questions. Tim Ferriss has compiled an exceptional collection of 17 questions designed to disrupt the conventional approach we take in addressing our everyday hurdles. It's not enough to merely peruse them. Invest time in jotting down your responses to these questions. The outcomes of such an exercise are truly remarkable!💡🔥


  1. What if I did the opposite for 48 hours? For example, if everyone acquires leads by calling between 9 am and 5 pm, why not attempt calling before 9 am and after 5 pm?
  2. What do I spend a silly amount of money on? How might I scratch my own itch? If you are ready to spend a silly amount of money on something, maybe others will also. If so, can you create a product that would address such a need?
  3. What would I do/have/be if I had $10 million? What's my real TMI (Target Monthly Income)? Think about how much money you truly need. What kind of life do you want? What would you do if money wasn't a concern? Your answer to the last question reveals your real interests and strengths, which can form the foundation of a business.
  4. What are the worst things that could happen? Could I get back here? When we understand our fears, we often realize they aren't as bad as we think. A good method is to name (or label) the fears. Ask yourself: What's the worst that could happen if you do or don't do something? Then ask: "So what?" Also, think if you could undo the unlikely worst situation without (a significant) damage.
  5. If I could only work 2 hours per week on my business, what would I do? By analogy:
    • How would you solve this task if you would have only 2 hours? This works great both for working and private life.
    • What 20% of the customers/products/regions are producing 80% of the profit? This is a well-known Pareto Rule, also called the 80/20 rule, which states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes.
    • What 20% of your efforts produce 80% of impact? Same as above.
    • What 20% of factors or shared characteristics of your services, product, efforts account for 80% of success? Same as above.
  6. What if I let them make decisions up to $100? $500? $1000? Can you delegate (a part of) your responsibility to free up your time?
  7. What's the least crowded channel? By analogy to doing the opposite for 48 hours, consider addressing your audience via the least crowded channel.
  8. What if I couldn't pitch my product directly? People don’t like being sold products, but we all like being told stories. Instead of advertising your product, can you advertise around it eventually making a link too your product? E.g., write blog posts or record videos, and mention your book or course at the end?
  9. What if I created my own real-world MBA? Instead of investing a bunch of money into an education, take this budget (which is regretable to lose but not existential) and invest into trying out new business. You will learn more than sitting on a bench and studying slides. More on that:
  10. Do I need to make it back the way I lost it? Ask myself: “Do I really need to make money back the same way I’m losing it?” If you lose $1,000 at the blackjack table, should you try to recoup it there? Probably not. Same holds for real estate, stocks, etc.
  11. What if I could only subtract to solve problems? What should I put on my not-to-do list? Instead of answering, “What should we do?” try first to home in on answering, “What should we simplify?”
  12. What might I put in place to allow me to go off the grid for 4 to 8 weeks, with no phone or email? By analogy to allow for more innovation, ask yourself if you can carve out 2-3 days of your working life (not vacation) to go off the grid and explore or work on a particular topic without any emails and instant messages? Could you get it approved with your boss? Can you do it 2-3 times a year for 2-3 days? Which topics would you choose?
  13. Am I hunting antelope or field mice? A small irrelevant task (a field mouse) may give you a short feeling of success but it will not feed you. Hunt antelopes that are hard to get but bring more reward. In other words, look at your to-do list and ask: “Which one of these, if done, would render all the rest either easier or completely irrelevant?”. Think about a structural change, a metalevel improvement.
  14. Could it be that everything is fine and complete as it is? Cultivate more daily appreciation and present-state awareness.
  15. What would this look like if it were easy? We often overcomplicate things and act by "jumping to solutions" implementing an unnecessary level of complexity. It is way more practical to consider the actual non-negotiable hard requirements (there are usually less of them than we assume) and only then transition to choosing a solution that would address them using a simple and easy path in a most pragmatic way.
  16. How can I throw money at this problem? How can I "waste" money to improve the quality of my life? Spend money to earn time.
  17. No hurry, no pause. You don’t need to go through life huffing and puffing, straining and red-faced; you can get 95% of the results you want by calmly putting one foot in front of the other. Luxury is feeling unrushed and have time to think. Or how Navy SEALs put it: "Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast."
Tim Ferriss added the following question in one of the Impact Theory talks:
  1. What can I learn from people I hate at most? You can and should learn literally from everyone - what you should or should not do.

Download and read!

I strongly urge you to download and deep dive into the complete PDF by Tim Ferriss that contains all 17 game-changing questions, accompanied by his personal anecdotes. Don't miss out on this golden opportunity to reflect on your own framework! 🌟📖

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Ilya Vasilenko