4 Tips to Rock SXSW, the Tim Ferriss Way

Tim Ferriss has a great tip for mitigating the inevitable South by Southwest hangover (avocado and burnt toast), but the most important advice the 4 Hour Workweek author shared at Friday’s SXSW Interactive session: Just be normal.

Case in point, the bathroom encounter. “Some startup founder will come running up to me, sweating because he’s nervous and panting because he’s out of breath–and start giving me his pitch. All while I’m standing at the urinal,” Ferriss says. “It’ll make any human being uncomfortable.”

1. Don’t rush. Play the long game. “There are hundreds of people who could change your life completely. Your job here should be to make a deep human connection with one of those people before you leave.”

2. Bad at small talk? Use these ice-breakers.

3. Read bios, not sessions. “The session titles may not tell you the whole story,” Ferriss says. Look at the bios for interesting people. But don’t just look at the panel, look at the moderators.

“If I just heard an amazing session, I wouldn’t go up to the A-listers on the panel, who were getting swarmed,” Ferris says. “I would go to the moderator, many of whom who are equally as impressive and important.”

4. Don't dismiss people. “Behave like everyone has the potential to get you a cover story at the New York Times.

“For example, standing in line for one of SXSW’s films, I noticed a guy behind me who had giant forearms. It’s the type of thing I’d notice, so I started talking to him and learned he was a rock climber. It turned out he was [documentary filmmaker] Morgan Spurlock’s brother. Morgan got in line just a bit later, and we talked, and later ended up working together for “A Day in the Life of Tim Ferriss.”

Think Tim Ferriss is the ultimate SXSW networker? Even he gets introverted.


Journalist, podcaster and southpaw Shelby Skrhak is the former director of digital content and social media for SUCCESS.com. Before joining SUCCESS magazine, Shelby launched the weekly suburban newspaper Plano Insider, and covered topics ranging from cops and courts to transportation and fashion. Her handwriting should be a font.

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