Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight

November 22, 2006:



Timothy Ferriss ’00, with his dance partner Alicia Monti, is the first American to hold a world record in tango. (Courtesy Timothy Ferriss ’00)

Timothy Ferriss ’00
From workaholic to tango king

In September, Timothy Ferriss ’00 and his dance partner, Alicia Monti, walked onto the set of the morning TV show Live with Regis and Kelly. Ferriss and Monti gave a quick demonstration of the tango spin, among the most complicated moves in Argentina’s trademark dance. Ferriss rotated as Monti stepped around him; he was the Earth to her orbiting moon. All the while they maintained a tight tango embrace.

Then, before millions of viewers and a judge from the Guinness Book of World Records, Ferris and Monti executed a jaw-dropping 37 tango spins in a minute. They shattered their own record of 27, set in June 2005 during the tango world championship in Buenos Aires.

Ferriss, an East Asian studies major at Princeton and a former national kickboxing champion, didn’t always twirl so well. In two years, he has transformed himself from an overworked founder of a nutritional-supplements company called BrainQuicken to the first American to hold a world record in tango. In June 2004, Ferriss was working 80 hours a week to build his company in Mountain View, Calif. “I was burning out,” Ferriss says of his pre-tango days. “So I put three days of clothing into a backpack and bought a one-way ticket to London.”

Over the next months, he tracked his family roots in Scandinavia and joined a hurling team in Ireland. He ended up in Argentina and signed up for a beginner’s class in tango. Before long he was hooked. Ferriss dropped from 225 pounds to a lean 146 during four months of foot-bruising, knee-twisting tango training in preparation for the 2005 world championship. He and Monti made it to the semifinals. Tango changed not only his body, but his outlook on life. He spends four hours a week running BrainQuicken (he has no employees) and uses his income to pursue his passions, including perfecting his tango. He is writing a book, The Four-Hour Workweek: How to Escape 9–5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, to be published next year. P

By Dan Grech ’99

Dan Grech is the Miami-based Americas reporter for Marketplace, the public-radio business news show produced by American Public Media.