During my daily commutes and walks, I often listen to Tim Ferris as he interviews “billionaires, icons, and world-class performers.” His interviews are in depth and typically last two hours. During the interviews, he will ferret out what has made these individuals so successful. As a fan of his show and of his book The 4-Hour Workweek, I picked up Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers*. I was not disappointed, the book brought me right back to the interviews and the lessons I had learned. But there is more.
Ferriss smartly divided his book into three major sections: health, wealth, and wise. Each of his 100+ interviews focused on one of these sections. He was also channeling Ben Franklin’s quote, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise” as he determined the arrangement.
The book weighs in at 673 pages and it satisfied my Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge category for reading a book over 600 pages. The book is primarily made up of the highlights of the interviews. Each interviewee has their own “chapter.” Ferriss also included 11-13 non-profile chapters in each section. These non-profile chapters “expand upon key principles and tools mentioned by multiple people” (Ferriss, 2017, p. xxvi).
Each profile chapter is tailored to the individual who Ferriss interviewed. They all began with the individual’s name and a short bio. They also shared information for connecting with them on social media or their websites. After that, Ferriss highlights questions and the respective answers. There are no formulaic questions so the interviews are as varied as the individuals. If one interview was related to another, Ferriss would include a page reference. I really appreciated this attention to detail.
I took a lot of notes as I was reading the book. Virtually each individual had something to offer me. I am confident that each person reading Tools of Titans will walk away with a different set of lessons that will help improve their life.
Here are some of the things that really resonated with me:
- Amanda Boone: Embrace the suck and learn to love training in weather that others will avoid.
- Christopher Sommer: Great discussion between flexibility and mobility. I also liked his quote “You’re not responsible for the hand of cards you were dealt. You’re responsible for maxing out what you were given” (as cited in Ferriss, 2017, p. 10).
- Non-profile chapter: Gymnast Strong.
- Dominic D’Agostino: I am more curious about the idea of intermittent fasts because of this interview and chapter.
- Non-profile chapter: The Slow-carb Diet ® Cheat Sheet
- Pavel Tsatsouline: Nice collection of kettlebell exercises.
- Kelly Starrett: Overall discussion about mobility and fitness. One in specific is the campfire squat test.
- Paul Levesque: ideas for overcoming jet lag and goal setting.
- Jane McGonigal: The entire section. I am a fan of Jane, it began with her book, Reality is Broken.
- Non-profile chapter: 5 Morning Rituals that Help Me Win the Day.
- Chris Sacca: I enjoyed the discussion about playing offense vs defense as well as surrounding yourself with people who will help you get to the next level.
- Marc Andreessen: Nice collection of tweets.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger: I loved the story telling the entire chapter.
- Derek Sivers: “If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs” (as cited in Ferriss, 2017, p. 185). It was related to consistency. You need systems. I also liked the discussion between being busy and not having the right priorities. Great chapter overall.
- Alexis Ohanian: Great advice for improving your business email messages.
- Tony Robbins: Robbins provided wonderful strategies for changing your mindset.
- Non-profile chapter: What My Morning Journal Looks Like.
- Peter Thiel: Big question – if you have a 10-year plan, why can’t you complete it sooner? I also liked the discussion related to education.
- Seth Godin: I took lots of notes in this chapter. I am a fan of Seth Godin and have read these books: The Dip, Purple Cow, and Tribes.
- James Altucher: Ways to generate ideas.
- Non-profile chapter: How to Create a Real-World MBA.
- Scott Adams: While I took lots of notes in this chapter, one point stood out – create systems rather than goals.
- Non-profile chapter: The Law of Category.
- Ramit Sethi: Building 1,000 true fans and giving away your content for free.
- Non-profile chapter: 1,000 True Fans – Revisited.
- Non-profile chapter: Hacking Kickstarter.
- Phil Libin: The rule of 3 and 10.
- Noah Kagan: Quick Gmail Trick.
- Neil Strauss: He gave a lot of great advice about writing and editing.
- Non-profile chapter: How to Say “No” When It Matters Most.
- Maria Popova: An interesting method for note-taking. I liked her book recommendation: Plato’s The Republic. It is on my reading list.
- Jocko Willink: Countless lessons in this chapter. I look forward to reading his book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.
- Non-profile chapter: Tools of a Hacker.
- General Stanley McChrystal & Chris Fussell: It was the McChrystal interview that prompted me to read My Share of the Task. I enjoyed reading about his workout and reading routines.
- Non-profile chapter: The Dickens Process – Wat Are Your Beliefs Costing You?
- Caroline Paul: Encouraging girls to conquer fear.
- Non-profile chapter: My Favorite Thought Exercise: Fear-Setting. I initially heard about this exercise in one of Ferriss’ podcasts. It helped me put into perspective a number of things that were troubling me.
- Kevin Kelly: What is your death countdown clock look like? According to life expectancy tables, I am expected to live until 67. This means I have 4,165 days to take care of the things I want to take care of.
- Rick Rubin: Interesting discussion on how to get unstuck in a creative process.
- Non-profile chapter: Writing Prompts from Cheryl Strayed.
- Eric Weinstein: I learned two new words: teledultry and bigoteer. I also enjoyed the discussion about “learning disability” vs “teaching disability.”
- Non-profit chapter: 8 Tactics for Dealing with Haters.
- Naval Ravikant: Lots of great lessons in this chapter.
- Sam Kass: While he focused on cooking, I can apply his lesson of batching tasks to work. Also, the pros use acid.
- Non-profile chapter: The Jar of Awesome.
- Josh Waitzkin: Lots of great tips in this chapter, I especially liked the importance of remembering the last three turns.
- Brené Brown: Learning to live and thrive in discomfort.
- Non-profile chapter: Testing the “Impossible”: 17 Questions that Changed My Life.
- Jamie Foxx: The interview was great, one of my favorites.
- Non-profile chapter: Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide. Worth reading.
- Non-profile chapter: “Good.”
Having listened to most of the interviews, this book was a no-brainer. I liked that all the lessons were packed into one book. Tools of Titans will take a place on my reference section next to The 4-Hour Workweek. There are many things in this book that I wish to explore deeper. If you have not listened to the interviews, have no fear, you will find many great lessons in this book. Very simply, Tim Ferriss is trying to figure out the world, and he is gracious enough to share his journey. I definitely recommend Tools of Titans.
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