Tim Ferriss

Tribe of Mentors – Tim Ferriss

Tribe of Mentors – by Tim Ferriss
Date Read: 12/20/17. Recommendation: 8/10.

Tribe of Mentors is built around a set of 11 questions that Tim set out to answer for himself by asking some of the most brilliant people (100+ in this book). Most of the questions are the same as the rapid-fire questions he uses in his podcast, "what book have you gifted the most?" and "what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?" There are a few nuggets of eye-opening wisdom, but the brevity kept things fairly shallow for me. I prefer Tools of Titans which covers a wider range of ideas in greater depth, and includes more of Tim's own notes and insights. For me, the most valuable part of Tribe of Mentors was its wealth of book recommendations.

See my notes below or Amazon for details and reviews.


My Notes:

What would this look like if it were easy? It's easy to convince yourself that things need to be hard, that if you're not redlining, you're not trying hard enough.

Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." –Anaïs Nin

The most fulfilled and effective people I know look at their life's journey as perhaps 25 percent finding themselves and 75 percent creating themselves.

"In the world of writing, everyone wants to succeed immediately and without pain or effort." –Steven Pressfield

"Real work and real satisfaction come from the opposite of what the web provides. They come from going deep into something–the book you're writing, the album, the movie–and staying there for a long, long time." –Steven Pressfield

Finnish word, "sisu" – the mental strength to continue to try even after you feel you've reached the limits of your abilities.

"Intelligence is like following a GPS route right into a body of water until you drown. Wisdom looks at the route but, when it takes a turn into the ocean, you drown. Wisdom looks at the route but, when it takes a turn into the ocean, decides not to follow it, then finds a new, better way. Wisdom reigns supreme." –Terry Crews

"If you let yourself off the hook for not doing something for any reason, you won't ever do it." –Debbie Millman

Paraphrasing Debbie Millman's interview with Dani Shapiro: Overly confident people are annoying, arrogant, and compensating for some type of internal psychological deficit. Dani declared that courage was more important than confidence.

Naval Ravikant:
"Suffering is a moment of clarity, when you can no longer deny the truth of a situation and are forced into uncomfortable change."

"The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower...The means of learning are abundant–it's the desire to learn that's scarce. Cultivate that desire by reading what you want, not what you're 'supposed to.'"

"Memory and identity are burdens from the past that prevent us from living freely in the present."

"Ignore: The news. Complainers, angry people, high-conflict people. Anyone trying to scare you about a danger that isn't clear and present."

"Ignore the unfairness – there is no fair. Play the hand that you're dealt to the best of your ability. People are highly consistent, so you will eventually get what you deserve and so will they."

"By focusing inward on yourself as a writer instead of outward on what you think readers will want to read, you'll end up creating the best most original work, and that one-in-a-thousand person who happens to love it will up finding their way to you." –Tim Urban

"It's not how well you play the game, it's deciding what game you want to play." –Kwame Appiah

"Integrity is the only path where you will never get lost." –Mike Maples Jr.

"The best advice I have seen comes from people who don't try to tell me the answer...instead they give me a new approach to thinking about the question so that I can solve it better on my own." –Mike Maples Jr.

"Too often, aspiring artists put pressure on themselves to make their creative work their only source of income. In my experience, it's a road to misery." –Soman Chainani

"The education system, by and large, gears everyone up to adhere to set industry standards. While this a foolproof way to get a job and live a normal life, very few people can break out of the cycle of the mundane to be adventurous, inventive, selfless. The safety net of regular job is too comfortable." –Richa Chadha

"Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however is for those who are substantial enough to move on." –Criss Jami

"The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting." -Walt Disney

"My advice is to choose a profession that is really easy for you to do and that also allows you to be creative. If it is easy for you to do and somewhat difficult for your peers to do, you will not have to work too hard to be successful and you will have enough spare time to enjoy life...If, on the other hand, you have to work long hours all the time just to be competitive, you will burn out and not enjoy life." -Lewis Cantley

"If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time." –Chinese Proverb

"Creating is a better means of self-expression and possession; it is through creating, not possessing, that life is revealed." -Vida Dutton Scudder

"Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life." -Jerzy Gregorek

"To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a bit better...to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded." –Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The struggle ends when the gratitude begins." -Neal Donald Walsch

"Our culture puts such a premium on the notion of originality, but when you really examine just about any 'original' thought or work, you find it's a composite of previous influences. Everything's a remix. Of course, there's such thing as being overly derivative, but I tend to mostly value sincerity over originality. I think I perform better when I focus less on being original and more on being honest." -Joseph Gordon-Levitt

"When something goes badly, I don't automatically assume I did something wrong. Instead I ask myself, 'What policy was I following that produced the bad outcome, and do I still expect that policy to give the best results overall, occasional bad outcomes notwithstanding?'" –Julia Galef

"One distraction I've learned to avoid is consuming media that's just telling me things I already know and agree with (for example, about politics). That stuff can be addictive because it feels so validating–it's like venting with a friend–but you're not learning from it, and over time, I think indulging in that impulse makes you less able to tolerate other perspectives." -Julia Galef

"Do what you love, do it in a way that you love, and pour your heart and soul into every moment of it. Do not be subject to inertia." –Josh Waitzkin

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." -Theodore Roosevelt

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." -Henry David Thoreau

"Beware the investment activity that produces applause; the great moves are usually greeted by yawns." -Warren Buffett

"Focus on your writing skills. It's the one thing I've found that really helps people stand out. More and more communication is written today. Get great at presenting yourself with words, and words alone, and you'll be far ahead of most." –Jason Fried

"Remember that you'll always have less attention than time. Full attention is where you do your best work, and everyone's going to be looking to rip it from you. Protect and preserve it." -Jason Fried

Scaling: "No, don't scale. Start small, stay small as possible for as long as possible. Grow in control, not out of control." -Jason Fried

Raising capital: "No, bootstrap. As in life, we form business habits early on. If you raise money, you'll get good at spending money. If you bootstrap, you'll be forced to get good at making money." -Jason Fried

"Burnout is not the price you have to pay for success." -Arianna Huffington

"Macro patience, micro speed....Everybody's impatient at a macro, and just so patient at a micro, wasting your days worrying about years. I'm not worried about my years, because I'm squeezing the fuck out of my seconds, let alone my days." -Gary Vaynerchuk

"Courage over comfort." -Brene Brown

"If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions." -Einstein

"Always take jobs for which you are not qualified; that way you will inevitably learn something." -Esther Dyson

"I started my first business with $200...I learned far more about business from than $200 than from a debt-inducing MBA." -Kevin Kelly

"Be polite, on time, and work really fucking hard until you are talented enough to be blunt, a little late, and take vacations and even then...be polite." -Ashton Kutcher

"When 99 percent of your life is your work, either you are really bad at what you do or you are completely off balance with the rest of your life; neither is something to be proud of." -Jérôme Jarre

"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise, instead, seek what they sought." -Matsuo Basho

"Have the moral courage to live in the gray, sit with uncertainty but not in a passive way. Live the questions so that, one day, you will live yourself into the answers.." -Jacqueline Novogratz

"Don't worry all that much about your first job. Just start, and let the work teach you. With every step, you will discover more about who you want to be what and what you want to do." -Jacqueline Novogratz

When feeling overwhelmed: "I go for a very long run and remind myself of the beauty of the world, that the sun will rise again tomorrow, that what matters is to be in the arena." -Jacqueline Novogratz

"Don't try to be something you're not. Be confident in the skills you have, as they may be make-or-break for the journey you pursue." -Steve Case

"If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, you must go together." -Steve Case

"No society in human history ever suffered because its people became too reasonable." -Sam Harris

"Those who are determined to be 'offended' will discover a provocation somewhere. We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt." -Christopher Hitchens

"The real measure of a good life is 'How happy and satisfied am I with my life right now?'" -Mr. Money Mustache

"You are free for life once you have 25 to 30 times your annual spending locked up and working for you in low-fee index funds or other relatively boring investments. If you save the standard 15 percent of your income, this freedom arrives roughly at age 65. If you can crank that up to 65 percent, you're free just after your 30th birthday, and you often end up a lot happier in the process." -Mr. Money Mustache

"A high savings rate (or 'profit margin on life') is by far the best strategy for a great and creative life, because it's your ticket to freedom. Freedom is the fuel for creativity." -Mr. Money Mustache

"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things." -Leonardo Da Vinci

"Be in a hurry to learn, not in a hurry to get validation." -Evan Williams

Pursuing your passion: "For many, that is terrible advice. In your 20s, you may or may not really know what your best skills and opportunities are. It's much better to pursue learning, personal discipline, growth." -Chris Anderson

When feeling overwhelmed or unfocused:
"Have I had enough sleep? Have I eaten? Would it be a good idea to go for a short walk?
And once those have been answered, or fixed, if there's an actual situation that's overwhelming:
Is there anything I can do to fix this? Is there anyone who actually has information or advice about this that I can call and talk to?" -Neil Gaiman

"Top down (macro thinking) means I consider the big picture issues before the small when making decisions...For example, I invest in real estate where smart people want to live." -Adam Fisher

"Just learn how to learn. Then you can always figure out the next thing that you will need to know." -Adam Fisher

"Choose opportunities based on the quality of people you will get to work with." -Scott Belsky

"You can do so much in ten minutes' time. Ten minutes, once gone, are gone for good. Divide your life into ten-minute units and sacrifice as few of them as possible in meaningless activity." -Ingvar Kamprad

"Asking myself the question, 'When I'm old, how much would I be willing to pay to travel back in time and relive the moment I'm experiencing right now?' This simple question puts things in perspective and makes you grateful for the experience you're having right now versus being lost in thoughts about the past or future.

Responses to problems: "Most likely, the problem won't be around in a year, but my reputation of how I dealt with it will." -Whitney Cummings

"No one is qualified to tell you how you experience the world." -Vlad Zamfir

"Discipline equals freedom." -Jocko Willink

"Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued...Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it." -Viktor E. Frankl

"The player of the inner game comes to value that art of relaxed concentration above all other skills; he discovers the true basis for self-confidence; and he learns that the secret to winning any game lies in not trying too hard." -W. Timothy Gallwey

Excellence is in the next five minutes, improvement is in the next five minutes, happiness is the next five minutes.

The power broker in your life is the voice that no one ever hears. How well you revisit the tone and content of your private voice is what determines the quality of your life. It is the master storyteller, and the stories we tell ourselves are our reality.

Focus on what's in front of you, design great days to create a great life, and try not to make the same mistake twice.

Feeling as though you are trying too hard indicates that your priorities, technique, focus, or mindfulness is off. Take it as a cue to reset, not to double down.

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 bob+insta@bobsmith.com.

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