In Their Own Words: Tim Ferriss on Being Interchangeable

One of my productivity heroes, Tim Ferriss, recently wrote a post in which he explained his departure from startup advising and angel investing. I found his post valuable not just for investors, but for anybody trying to live a high-performance lifestyle. In the next few posts, I’ll be breaking down his major points, adding flavor and color for remote workers.

The first big point in the article is this: If you’re interchangeable, you’re squandering your superhero skills -- and perhaps even the chance to discover them. 

Ferriss shared a conversation he had with a venture capitalist, in which the VC illustrated just how interchangeable Ferriss was as an investor:

"I've been at events where people come up to you crying because they've lost 100+ pounds on the Slow-Carb Diet. You will never have that impact as a VC. If you don't invest in a company, they'll just find another VC. You're totally replaceable. Please don't stop writing."

After this interaction, Ferriss concluded, “I’m tired of being interchangeable, no matter how lucrative the game.”

I’m tired of being interchangeable, no matter how lucrative the game.

Where Can You Be Replaced?

Take a cold, honest look at your work, and how you’ve structured your role.

Can you be replaced by:

  • a college student who’s willing to study and work 24/7 to get traction?
  • someone more experienced than you in your field?
  • a fresh grad who’ll do the work for less than you?
  • a technology like artificial intelligence, robotics, drones?
  • a suite of software programs?

Now, pretend it’s 2020 and ask yourself the above questions.

The truth is, most of our “core” jobs will significantly change or go away. So defining our careers based on a specific role is folly.

Instead, it’s about finding your unique voice and how you contribute value to the world independent of your “job”… and, ideally, the next step is finding ways to do that and get paid.

In the VC conversation Ferriss recalled, the VC noted that Ferriss’ highest and best contribution to the world wasn’t through investing, but through the power of his words and research -- his creative approach to learning new skills and hacking his life for maximum productivity.

What message do you have?

What do those closest to you count on you for?

And what are you doing today to communicate that message in a bigger, better way?

If you want my help with this, I coach high-performance remote workers. Head here to learn more


Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.