South O’ the Highway

Tim Ferriss and Katie Couric Talk Grief, Cancer and Interview Techniques

Springs native and Tribe of Mentors author Tim Ferriss interviews fellow Hamptonite Katie Couric in the latest episode of his hugely popular podcast The Tim Ferriss Show. The conversation covers a wide range of topics, including Couric’s career highs and lows, tips and techniques for successful interviewing, her Stand Up to Cancer foundation and dealing with grief and the loss of a loved one.

RELATED: 10 Questions with Tim Ferriss, Author, Interviewer

During the in-depth, 1.5-hour show, Couric shares details about the interviews that make her most nervous—live TV, dignitaries and heads of state, and a scheduled post-1995 verdict O.J. Simpson, which was, happily for her, canceled—and those that helped her rise to the top of the game, such as a surprise 1992 chat with President George H.W. Bush on the Today show, and her infamously revealing talk with Sara Palin in 2008.

Couric says she didn’t set out to embarrass Palin, but rather get to the heart of what the vice presidential candidate was all about. “It was a very critical time, I think, to understand her motivations and, actually, her abilities,” Couric explains. “It was also really important for me to make sure my tone was right, that my approach was right…I didn’t want people to misinterpret that I was looking at her, like ‘what?’ or askance.”

A dutiful listener who’s obsessed with learning from the best in the world, Ferriss takes in Couric’s wisdom, such as allowing interview subjects the space to talk, and to not rescue them from awkward silences.

Ferriss also reveals the recent loss of people close to him, including friends and a mentor, and that his “second father,” a Japanese host parent during his time as a high school foreign exchange student, is terminally ill with cancer. He looks to Couric for advice about grief and how to prepare when someone so close is on the verge of death. Couric lost her first husband, Jay Monahan, to colorectal cancer when he was just 47 in 1998.

“Is there anything I should do in advance to prepare for that?” Ferriss asks, referring to his host parent’s imminent death, adding, “I know I’m going to be hit with a hammer.”

Couric shares intimate details of her own experience losing her husband. “I never really said to Jay, ‘What are your hopes and dreams for your kids? Can you write the girls a letter? Can we videotape you talking to them?’…to say everything I wanted to say to him, because that was an acknowledgement that he was going to die, and I just couldn’t to that,” she says, offering Ferriss some sage advice. “So, maybe, if things are so bleak for this person who’s so special to you, first of all, you need to tell him,” she continues. “You need to write him, maybe go see him, and feel that you don’t have any regrets.”

It’s heavy at times, but this is a highlight in a long list of excellent episodes of The Time Ferriss Show. You can hear it on iTunes or tim.blog.

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