Josh Waitzkin — How to Cram 2 Months of Learning into 1 Day (#375)

“From my perspective, the goal is unobstructed self-expression.”
— Josh Waitzkin

Josh Waitzkin, author of The Art of Learning, is an eight-time US National Chess Champion, a two-time World Champion in Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands, and the first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt under nine-time World Champion Marcelo Garcia.

For the past 12 years, Josh has been channeling his passion for the outer limits of the learning process toward training elite mental performers in business and finance, and to revolutionizing the education system through his nonprofit foundation, The Art of Learning Project. Josh is currently in the process of taking on his fourth and fifth disciplines, paddle surfing and foiling, and is an all-in father and husband.

The audio and video were recorded at The Sohn Investment Conference in the David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

The Sohn Conference Foundation is dedicated to supporting innovative initiatives to cure and treat pediatric cancer. The Sohn Conference Foundation raises its funds through a unique strategy: Wall Street’s most successful investors offer their expertise on stage and inspire large audiences to give to the foundation’s cause. You can learn more about it at

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Castbox, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Watch the interview on YouTube.

#375: Josh Waitzkin — How to Cram 2 Months of Learning into 1 Day


Want to hear another conversation with Josh Waitzkin?In this episode (the second ever on The Tim Ferriss Show), we discuss The Art of Learning, what separates elite performers, and strategies for peak productivity. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

If you’d like to get exclusive access to me and a small tribe of like-minded people, you can contribute a few dollars a month (or more) to support the podcast. 

Here’s what you get:

1. Once per month, I’ll do an hour-long, live video Q&A… just for this much smaller group of supporters. You can ask me anything. Only supporters get to participate and ask questions. The first one will be on July 1st, 2019, and you’ll be notified via e-mail. If you can’t make it live, each session will be available to supporters right afterward as a recording. And if the audio is ever shared on the podcast, it will be delayed by at least a month.

2. Each time you hear a podcast episode (or see anything from me) that you consider impactful and want to share with friends, you can smile, knowing that you helped make it possible.

I’d really love a more direct relationship with my most dedicated listeners, readers, and fans. This is a great way to test it out. And since the podcast has become the engine that fuels everything else, if this experiment doesn’t work, we’ll just go back to sponsors. Easy.

Please only contribute what you feel great about contributing. This is zero pressure, and I’m not mailing out any beer koozies or other crap you don’t want. I’ll just do the private monthly Q&A for supporters, and I’ll share more good stuff. Think of it as a monthly gym membership for your mind and career.

To contribute, please visit

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


  • Connect with Josh Waitzkin:

Website | The Art of Learning Project


  • What song makes Josh ready to fight 10 dudes, and how did it become such a powerful trigger? [05:18]
  • Why — and how — does Josh lately feel like he’s cramming two months of learning into each day? It all started with a desire to surf in New York City. [06:45]
  • How foiling allows Josh to deliberately practice surfing in ways regular surfing can’t. [10:09]
  • Deliberate practice and the harnessing of unconscious learning: what did Olympic skier Billy Kidd consider the three most important turns of a ski run — and why? [12:15]
  • What types of biomarkers does Josh track in his coaching clients? [14:01]
  • What is a resonant frequency? [16:00]
  • What is trigger work, and how did has it helped Josh enter peak performance in the space of a breath? [16:43]
  • What tools does Josh use for tracking HRV? [18:04]
  • How might HRV training help someone attune their senses in a non-athletic capacity? [18:39]
  • Though he tailors his coaching for each individual, Josh has these suggestions for people who are looking to better structure their days looking toward higher performance. [21:05]
  • How do people identify their peak energy? Josh details one of his most important activities for ending the day and beginning the next. [24:29]
  • How might this exercise differ between individuals for more personalized results? [25:55]
  • One of the most important things a decision-maker can do. [26:58]
  • How can someone find their MIQ (most important question) if they’re struggling to identify one? How might an otherwise great thinker use this tool to move through something that gets them stuck? [28:45]
  • What Ernest Hemingway’s writing process and Marcelo Garcia’s pre-match naps can teach us about the timely art of letting go. [30:50]
  • Why being able to go from a relaxed zero to an intense 10 is better than existing at a constant, simmering six. [32:40]
  • As someone who’s moved his family away from the city noises of bustling Manhattan to a remote, coastal jungle in Latin America, how would Josh convince an always-on, FOMO-addled client of the benefits to similarly unplugging and learning to say no? [34:18]
  • Josh says your ability to determine what matters most is affected by your ability to identify your zone of genius. How does he recommend finding that zone? [38:00]
  • Final thoughts and thanks. [41:52]