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Tim Ferriss: Ask yourself this question before making a career move

Ali Montag

Tim Ferriss , an entrepreneur and early investor in companies like Uber and Facebook, is also a prolific author. He's written five books, including "The 4-Hour Workweek" and "The 4-Hour Body."

In his latest book, "Tribe of Mentors," Ferriss publishes over 100 interviews he's held with industry leaders like Ray Dalio and Arianna Huffington.

But one of his greatest accomplishments actually began as a way to take a break from writing. And it taught him a very important career lesson: Follow your instincts.

Ferriss's podcast, "The Tim Ferriss Show," which now boasts over 200 million downloads according to his website, started as a gut feeling to do something different.

"The podcast began as a side gig because I was burned out after writing 'The 4-Hour Chef,' which was a monstrous book," Ferriss says of his 2012 work in an interview with Amazon. "Now the podcast arguably is the biggest thing I've ever done, and it started off as a lark."

Ferriss sat down with his friend and fellow investor Kevin Rose as the first guest and began the podcast "on a whim" — with the help of two bottles of wine, Ferriss writes on his blog. At the time, he intended to only "do six episodes to get better at interviewing."

The first episode didn't turn out so great, Ferriss says.

"The next morning, after reviewing my ridiculously slurred and iffy questions (e.g. 'If you were a breakfast cereal, which would you be?'), I let out a long sigh," Ferriss writes. "I'd always hated the sound of my own voice, but this was worse than expected. TERRIBLE. The podcast experiment wouldn't last a month."

Despite the rough edges, Ferriss continued the podcast as a passion project. After all, he had been, "fantasizing about starting a podcast for nearly two years," according to his blog, and although he didn't feel quite ready to succeed at the venture, he decided "sometimes you have to stop over-thinking things, bite the bullet, and figure it out as you go."

Today, the podcast's hundreds of episodes include interviews with everyone from billionaire Richard Branson to U.S. Senator Cory Booker.

"In having fun and being myself, that paved the way to what it is now. I never could have predicted that at the outset," Ferriss tells Amazon.

So now, when making career choices, Ferriss will ask himself, "[What] am I thinking about early in the morning when I wake up or last thing at night?" he says. "If there's an idea or seemingly frivolous project that I just can't get out of my mind, I'll follow that. That scent trail is really important."

His advice for success? "Follow that excitement."

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