📖 tools of titans

I read ‘Tools of Titans’ by Tim Ferriss over the Christmas period. It’s a collection of snippets from interviews done by Tim Ferriss for his podcast over the last few years – mixed in with his own advice on three areas of life: on being healthy, wealthy and wise.


After finishing it I must admit I have mixed feelings about this book. Some parts were very thought-provoking (see notes below), some parts were cringeworthy, and others just plain weird.

I found the book didn’t flow very well; whilst it was in three sections the content would jump from in depth interviews into other somewhat random topics like podcasting equipment and angel investing!?! I often was confused about whether I was reading a quote from someone in an interview or one of Tim’s own thoughts/comments (the eBook formatting didn’t help this).

The book is also overwhelmingly long. I have a low tolerance for long books (the writer who breeds more words than he needs is creating a chore for a reader who reads), and I feel like a lot of the non relevant content could have been omitted or trimmed down majorly making a shorter and easier to read book that would flow. Or it could have even been three small books in the three themes I mentioned above – much like the School of Life releases short books.

Here’s some of my favourite parts:

  • Tim Ferriss: The super heroes you have in your mind are nearly all walking flaws who’ve maximised one or two strengths.
  • Tim Ferriss: Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Everyone struggles. Take solace in that.
  • Chris Sacca: experience often deeply embeds the assumptions that need to be questioned in the first place.
  • Chris Sacca: be your unapologetically weird self – authenticity is one of the most lacking things.
  • Arnold Swartzenegger: I don’t merge and bring things together and see everything as one big problem. I take them one challenge at a time. 
  • Derek Sivers: You know what would be a fun project? To buy and train thousands of parrots to say ‘it won’t make you happy’ and let them loose in the shopping malls and superstores around the world.
  • Derek Sivers: For life, I think of all this maximisation – getting the maximum dollar out of everything, the maximum out of every second, the maximum out of every minute – you don’t need to stress about any of this stuff. Honestly that’s been my approach ever since. I do things, but I stop before it gets stressful.
  • Derek Sivers: I believe you shouldn’t start a business unless people are asking you to.
  • Derek Sivers: treat life as a series of experiments.
  • Derek Sivers: even when everything is going terribly, and I have no reason to be confident, I just declare to be.
  • Amanda Palmer: take the pain and wear it like a shirt.
  • Alexis Ohanian: it just requires you to give lots of damns, which not enough people do.
  • Tony Robbins: life is always happening for us not to us. It’s our job to find out where the benefit is. If we do, life is magnificent.
  • Tony Robbins: the quality of your life is the quality of your questions. Questions determine focus.
  • Tim Ferriss: in writing, the process matters more than the product.
  • Seth Godin: trust and attention; these are the scarce items in a post-scarcity world.
  • Seth Godin: I quantify almost nothing in my life.
  • Seth Godin: if you spend two hours a day without an electronic device, looking at your kid in the eye, talking to them and solving interesting problems, you will raise a different kid than someone who doesn’t do that.
  • Seth Godin: I had so many bumps when I was 30 years old. They lasted for nine years, and I wouldn’t tell my 30 year old self anything. Because if I hadn’t had those bumps, I wouldn’t be me, and I’m glad I’m me.
  • James Altucker: haven’t found your overarching single purpose? Maybe you have have to. Forget purpose. It’s okay to be happy without one. The quest for a single purpose has ruined many lives.
  • Scott Adams: I would consider myself a world champion at avoiding stress at this point in dozens of different ways. A lot of it is just how you look at the world, but most of it is really the process of diversification. I’m not going to worry about losing one friend if I have a hundred, but if I have just two friends then I’m really going to be worried… One of the ways not to worry about stress is to eliminate it… Diversification works in almost every area of your life to reduce your stress.
  • Shaun White: every single season I set a goal. It’s usually two goals. It’s something very serious and something funny, something stupid. For the Vancouver Olympics my goals were to win the Olympics, and then the other goal as to wear some pants, and the pants I had made for me were the American flag pant… Winning the Olympics is a very big goal, it’s a stressful goal to have. So it’s nice to have something to offset it.
  • Hitoshi Mikitani taught Phil Libin the rule of three and ten. Every single thing in your company breaks when you triple in size. For example, 1 to 3, 3 to 10, 10 to 30 to 100 to 300 to 1000.
  • Chris Young: the interesting jobs are the ones that you make up.
  • Kaskade: put the big stones in first. The minutiae fit around the big things, but big things don’t fit around the minutiae.
  • Kaskade: every time I left the house my Dad would always say: “Remember who you are!”
  • BJ Miller: don’t believe everything that you think.
  • BJ Miller: when you are struggling with just about anything , look up. Just ponder the night sky for a moment and realize we’re all on the same planet at the same time. Just mulling the bare-naked facts of the cosmos is enough to thrill me, awe me, freak me out, and kind of put all my neurotic anxieties in their proper place.
  • BJ Miller: smelling a cookie is not on behalf of some future state. It’s great in the moment, by itself, on behalf of nothing.
  • BJ Miller: let it go. I do mean to take life very seriously, but I need to take things like playfulness and purposefullness very seriously. I think I would have somehow encouraged myself to let it go a little bit more and hang in there and not pretend to know where this is all going. You don’t need to know where it’s all going.
  • Maria Popova: the second you start doing it for an audience, you’ve lost the long game because creating something that is rewarding and sustainable over the long run requires, most of all, keeping yourself excited about it.
  • Sebastian Junger: the world is this continually unfolding set of possibilities and opportunities, and the tricky thing about life is, on the one hand having the courage to enter into things that are unfamiliar, but also having the wisdom to stop exploring when you’ve found something worth sticking around for. This is true of a place, of a person, of a vocation. Balancing those two things, the courage of exploring and the commitment to staying – and getting the ratio right, is very hard.
  • Shay Carl: what are you willing to do that is hard? Work will work when nothing else will work.
  • Caroline Paul: in those situations, I look at all the emotions I’m feeling, which are anticipation, exhilaration, focus, confidence, fun and fear. Then I take fear and say “well, how much priority am I going to give this?” I really want to do this, I put it where it belongs.
  • Kevin Kelly: write to get ideas not express them. I’d say “I think I have an idea” but when I begin to write I realise I have no idea.
  • Whitney Cummings: perfectionism leads to procrastination which leads to paralysis.
  • Whitney Cummings: and in order for art to imitate life you need to have a life.
  • Whitney Cummings: bad decisions make good stories.
  • Bryan Callen: there is great security in insecurity.
  • Bryan Callen: I think you should try to slay dragons.
  • Alain de Botton: when people seem like they are mean, they’re almost never mean. They’re anxious.
  • Alain de Botton: success must include peace.
  • Alain de Botton: when life’s knocked you around a bit and when you’ve seen a few things, and time has happened and you’ve got some years under your belt, you start to think more highly of modest things like flowers and a pretty sky, or just a morning where nothing’s wrong and everyone’s been pretty nice to each other.
  • Jack Dorsey: taking the time to walk to work every day (5 miles, 1 hour 15 mins) has been the best/worthwhile investment ever made.
  • Paulo Coelho: the world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.
  • Paulo Coelho: enlightenment is the space between your thoughts.
  • Naval Ravikant: the first rule of handling conflict is don’t have around people who are constantly engaging in a conflict
  • Naval Ravikant: the three options you always have in life; you can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it.
  • Naval Ravikant: desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.
  • Stephen J Dubner: enough is as good as a feast.
  • Stephen J Dubner: write what you know? Why would I want to write about what little I know? Don’t I want to use writing to learn more?
  • Josh Nartzkin: lateral thinking or thematic thinking, the ability to take a lesson from one thing and transfer it to another, is one of the most important disciplines that any of us can cultivate.
  • Brene Brown: this idea that we’re either courageous or chicken shit is just not true, because most of us are afraid and brace at the exact same moment, all day long.
  • Brene Brown: be clear that your ladder is leaning against the right building
  • Brene Brown: it’s okay to be afraid. You don’t have to be so scary when you’re scared. The thirties are so exhausting. It’s the age of perfecting, proving, pretending.
  • Jason Silva: I want to build my life around flow States.
  • Jason Silva: to me being jaded is almost like being dead. Nothing impresses you because you feel like you’ve seen it all before, and you go through life with dark lenses on… the curtains closed. No light gets in, no rhapsody gets in, and to me that’s death.
  • Jason Silva: “we are simultaneously gods and worms” ~ Abraham Maslow
  • Tim Ferriss: “no hurry, no pause” introduced by Jenny Sauer-Klein.
  • Tim Ferriss: “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast” – luxury is feeling unrushed
  • Tim Ferriss: a friend once told me that killing yourself is taking your pain, multiplying it by ten, and giving it to the ones who love you. If you don’t care abor yourself, make it all about other people.
  • Robert Rodriguez: you never have to be upset about anything. Everything is for a purpose.
  • Jocko Willink (retired navy SEAL commander): how do I deal with setbacks, failures, delays, defeat or other disasters? I actually have a fairly simple way of dealing with these situations. There is one word to deal with all those situations, and that is “good”. Didn’t get promoted? Good. More time to get better. Got beat? Good. We learned. If you can say the word “good” guess what? It means you’re still alive. It means you’re still breathing.  And if you’re still breathing that means you’ve still got some fight left in you. So get up, dust off, reload, recalibrate, re-engage, and go on the attack.

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Al

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