Tools of Titans – Tim Ferriss

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers– by Tim Ferriss
Date read: 1/14/17. Recommendation: 9/10.

If you're a fan of the Tim Ferriss podcast, you'll enjoy this book. It's a collection of all his interviews, distilled into their most useful bits of information. Ferriss offers insight into the habits and mental models of top performers across every industry, from fitness to Silicon Valley. This book is a gold mine for thought provoking quotes. A few of my favorite sections feature Naval Ravikant (entrepreneur/investor), Josh Waitzkin (chess prodigy), and Alain de Botton (philosopher). There are sure to be a handful of ideas that will resonate with you and help improve your own mental models. It's a book I revisit with regularity. 

See my notes below or Amazon for details and reviews.


My Notes:

Humans only use 10% of their brains? Not quite..."The most complex structure in the entire universe doesn't have just a parking lot waiting for someone to drive in and start building. It's all used all the time, and in complex ways that we don't always understand." -Adam Gazzaley

More than 80% of the world-class performers I've interviewed have some form of daily meditation or mindfulness practice. Both can be thought of as "cultivating a present-state awareness that helps you to be nonreactive."

Take one breath a day..."I tell my students that all they need to commit to is one mindful breath a day. Just one. Breathe in and breathe out mindfully, and your commitment for the day is fulfilled. Everything else is a bonus." -Chade-Meng Tan

Wishing for random people to be happy...During working or school hours, randomly identify two people who walk past you or who are standing or sitting around you. Secretly wish for them to be happy. That is the entire practice. Don't do anything; don't say anything; just think.

It's not what you know, it's what you do consistently.

"'Busy,' to me seems to imply 'out of control.' Like, 'Oh my God, I'm so busy. I don't have any time for this shit!' To me that sounds like a person who's got no control over their life." -Derek Sivers

Lack of time is lack of priorities. If I'm "busy," it is because I've made choices that put me in that position.

"The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That's the moment you may be starting to get it right." -Neil Gaiman

"When you can write well, you can think well." -Matt Mullenweg

The world doesn't need your explanation on saying "No."

"Forget purpose. It's okay to be happy without one. The quest for a single purpose has ruined many lives." -James Altucher

"Losers have goals. Winners have systems." -Scott Adams

"If you want something extraordinary, you have two paths: 1) Become the best at one specific thing. 2) Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things...It sounds like generic advice, but you'd be hard-pressed to find any successful person who didn't have about three skills in the top 25%." -Scott Adams

Quick gmail trick: If you append + and a word to the beginning, messages will still get delivered to your inbox. You could use

Worst advice: "That you should prioritize growing your social following (Instagram, FB, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube). Grow things that you can fully control that directly affect sales, like your email list. 'Likes' don't pay the bills. Sales do." - Noah Kagan

"Any time I'm telling myself, 'but I'm making so much money,' that's a warning sign that I'm doing the wrong thing." -B.J. Novak

To become "successful," you have to say "yes" to a lot of experiments. To learn what you're best at, or what you're most passionate about, you have to throw a lot against the wall.

"Ours is a culture where we wear our ability to get by on very little sleep as a kind of badge of honor that symbolizes work ethic, or toughness, or some other virtue - but really, it's a total profound failure of priorities and of self-respect." -Maria Popova

On advice to your younger self: "'The public is not a threat.' When you realize that we all need each other, and that we can all learn from each other, your stage fright goes away." -Sebastian Junger

"Sit, sit. Walk, walk. Don't wobble." -Zen Mantra

"To me, success is you make your own slot. You have a new slot that didn't exist before." -Kevin Kelly

"When dealing with anyone who's upset, Bill Clinton always asks, 'Has this person slept? Have they eaten? Is somebody else bugging them?" -Alain de Botton

"The very word 'success' has become contaminated by our ideas of someone extraordinary, very rich, etc., and that's really unhelpful...Ultimately, to be properly successful is to be at peace as well." - Alain de Botton

"The more you know what you really want, and where you're really going, the more what everybody else is doing starts to diminish. The moments when your own path is at its most ambiguous, [that's when] the voices of others, the distracting chaos in which we live, the social media static start to loom large and become very threatening." -Alain de Botton

Cal Fussman was allotted 2.5 minutes for an interview with Mikhail Gorbachev. He kept it going 30 minutes by going to the heart with the first question: "What's the best lesson your father ever taught you?"

Cal also suggests asking this question to others more often: "What are some of the choices you've made that made you who you are?"

"In any situation in life, you only have three options. You can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it." -Naval Ravikant

"The most important trick to be happy is to realize that happiness is a choice that you make and a skill that you develop. You choose to be happy, and then you work at it. It's just like building muscles." -Naval Ravikant

On why Naval no longer has a quest for immortality: "If you study even the smallest bit of science, you will realize that, for all practical purposes, we are nothing. We're basically monkeys on a small rock orbiting a small, backwards star in a huge galaxy, which is in an absolutely staggeringly gigantic universe, which itself may be part of a gigantic multiverse...There are entire civilizations that we remember now with just one or two words like 'Sumerian' or 'Mayan.' Do you know any Sumerians or Mayans? Do you hold any of them in high regard or esteem? Have they outlived their natural lifespan somehow? No."

"Most people think they can wait around for the big moments to turn it on. But if you don't cultivate 'turning it on' as a way of life in the little moments - and there are hundreds of times more little moments than big - then there's no chance in the big moments." -Josh Waitzkin

"One of the biggest mistakes that I observed in the first year of Jack's life was parents who have unproductive language around weather being good or bad. Whenever it was raining you'd hear [people] say, 'It's bad weather. We can't go out,' or if it wasn't, 'It's good weather. We can go out.' That means that, somehow, we're externally reliant on conditions being perfect in order to be able to go out and have a good time. So, Jack and I never missed a single storm, rain or snow, to go outside and romp in it...We've developed this language around how beautiful it is. Now, whenever it's a rainy day, Jack says, 'Look, Dada, it's such a beautiful rainy day,' and we go out and play in it. I wanted him to have this internal locus of control - to not be reliant on external conditions being just so." -Josh Waitzkin

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood..." -Theodore Roosevelt

In the beginning of your career, you spend time to earn money. Once you hit your stride in any capacity, you should spend money to earn time, as the latter is nonrenewable.

"And if you say you're not creative, look at how much you're missing out on just because you've told yourself that. I think that creativity is one of the greatest gifts that we're born with that some people don't cultivate, that they don't realize it could be applied to literally everything in their lives." -Robert Rodriguez