One of the books I selected to read during January 2018 was Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World written by Tim Ferriss. As I listen to The Tim Ferriss Show, where he interviews world-class guests, I wanted to have some of that wisdom in written form. This book did not disappoint.
Ferriss has figured out a way to craft expansive books that are both informative and entertaining. I am a fan of his podcast and books. This is in a large part because of the questions he asks.
In Tribe of Mentors, Ferriss posts the responses for eleven questions from 134 world class individuals. The eleven questions are quite illuminating as they help to provide a glimpse into each person’s life and success.
There was not an answer to every question from each person. Either they did not reply to certain questions or Ferriss elected to omit some answers. Here are the eleven illuminating questions as shared in the introduction:
- What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
- What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last 6 months (or in recent memory)?
- How has a failure, or a parent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
- If you could have a giant billboard anywhere with anything on it—metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions—what would it say and why?
- What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
- What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
- In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
- What advice would you give a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
- What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
- In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realization and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?
- When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
In Tribe of Mentors, Ferriss questioned people across a spectrum of disciplines to include authors, scientists, athletes, chefs, inventors, CEOs, and many more. There is something for everyone in this book.
There were certain questions that resonated with me more than others. For example, I was very interested to see what these successful leaders were reading. Many of them credited reading for their successful journeys. The top two recommended books were:
- Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker
These two books are now on my reading list. As I go back through my notes, I will put others on my list.
Another question where I took a lot of notes was about new activities that have improved their lives. The number of people who were meditating surprised me. I keep hearing more and more about the benefits of meditation.
The other great piece of advice offered for this question was happiness and attitude are mindful decisions. You can either let events control you or you can control events.
Advice for a college student
Since I work in higher education, I found this question very interesting and the answers even more so.
A majority stressed the importance of learning your craft, working on the soft skills, and getting as much experience as possible. In other words, don’t mail it in. Getting the job you want is about hard work.
Many of these individuals have discovered saying “no” an important part of their success. Some have been forced into doing so whereas others have determined that saying “no” allowed them to focused other work rather than the work of others.
I made countless noted in the margin of my copy. I now have to go back and pull out the essentials. Each of Ferriss’ has managed to improve my life in some fashion. I am confident as I read over my notes that I will find something that will make my life better.
Ferriss shared many quotes in this book and along with the billboard slogans. One of my favorites is
“Busy is a decision.” shared by Debbie Millman, founder of Design Matters.
She adds that when someone says they are “busy”, it means the other activity is not important. I hear this a lot at work, and this quote now makes me think of it in a different light.
Tribe of Mentors not only has practical advice but there is a great deal of inspiration shared between the covers. With that all said, it does pale compared to the other books I read: The 4-Hour Workweek and Tools of Titans. While this book took a lot of energy to put together, I felt it was an easy way to make a buck. Would I recommend it, certainly. Would I recommend the other two books first, absolutely.
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