Tim Ferriss, Silicon Valley’s
productivity guru, takes a month
off in Bali. It might be the most
demanding vacation ever
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPH BY TOM FOSTER
im Ferriss wants me to know that pigs have an
extremely high feed conversion ratio, or FCR.
They grow fast. We’re watching a pair of Balinese
pig farmers wrestle a giant seven-month-old
pig into a cylindrical metal cage, hoist it onto
their shoulders on a fat bamboo rod, and carry it
off to slaughter. This is taking place just across a small
courtyard from Ferriss’s bedroom for the next month,
a spare room with a cot in a brick-walled compound
shared by several families and dozens of farm animals in
rural Bali, near the famous hippie town of Ubud.
Ferriss has his own version of a high feed conversion ratio, in which
he goes native and absorbs as much of an experience as possible, as
quickly as possible, with a kind of obsessive discipline. He’s been in
Bali only three days, and already he’s speaking basic Indonesian with a
convincing accent, laughing easily with his host family, waking with
the roosters every morning, and helping feed the pigs. Vacation is hard
work if you’re Tim Ferriss.
None of which should be all that surprising if you’re familiar with
the Ferriss oeuvre. Ferriss is the author of the mega-best-selling
4-Hour series of self-help books (The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour
Body, and his latest, The 4-Hour Chef), which have made him something of a celebrity among the entrepreneurial set for a focus on maximizing results while minimizing time spent, whether in the realm of
making money or acquiring skills.
It’s been about six years since the publication of The 4-Hour Workweek, his first and most famous book, and Ferriss’s life has changed profoundly in the interim, largely because of the book’s success. When he
was writing 4HWW, as his acolytes call it, Ferriss was running a dietary
supplement company, BrainQuicken. He sold BrainQuicken to a London private equity group in 2009 and now spends his days promoting
enjoys a brief