Summary and Analysis of Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers
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Tools of Titans is a bible of the best advice Tim Ferriss has learned while running his podcast. Tim has interviewed over two hundred successful individuals on his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. These guests range from super celebrities, such as Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Seth Rogen, to extreme athletes and black-market biochemists. However, what each of these individuals shares is a recipe for success. This book contains an integration of all the insightful tools, tactics, tips, and tricks offered by these podcast guests.
Tim Ferriss’ Perspective
Tim Ferriss is an author, investor, TV host, and economic advisor. He has written five #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books, which includes his bestselling debut book, The 4-hour Workweek. Since, he has had his own TV series, The Tim Ferriss Experiment, and his own TV show, Fear(less) with Tim Ferriss. In the latter, Tim has interviewed a wide range of people, including highly successful CEOs and sportspeople. One of Tim’s most famous guests was LeBron James. Tim now has one of the most popular podcasts in the world, The Tim Ferris Show. His podcast has exceeded 500 million downloads and he has subsequently been called the ‘Oprah of audio’ by The Observer.
Tim is an early-stage technology investor/advisor in some of the world’s biggest companies, such as Facebook, Shopify, Duolingo, and Uber. In addition, he is also on the advisory board for DonorsChoose. DonorsChoose is an educational non-profit that is the first charity to make the Fast Company lists of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World. Finally, Tim has spoken at some of the most innovative organizations, including Google, MIT, Harvard Business School, Nike, Facebook, the CIA, and Microsoft.
Part 1: HEALTH
Extreme Athletes Have Some of the Best Health Tips
One of the most extreme sports to emerge in recent years is obstacle course racing. This sport involves competitors having to run long distances but with the added challenge of several different barriers along the way. For example, participants have to duck under and climb over walls, cross bodies of water, crawl under barbed wire, and even run on fire.
Although relatively new, this sport has grown to become a highly popular sport. Subsequently, there are already stars in the sport. The most successful of all these major stars is Amelia Boone. Amelia has placed first in 30 obstacle races and has previously participants in the world’s toughest competition, Toughest Mudder. This competition includes the obstacles previously outlined and lasts for 24 hours without any breaks. During this time, Amelia was able to cover a 90-mile course and overcome almost 300 obstacles.
Arguably the most critical part of Amelia’s success is her ability to recover. Recovery is essential for all sports, and Amelia’s body is under extreme pressure when competing in these tournaments. Therefore, she is in a great position to provide insightful tips for recovery.
Amelia explains that she blends beetroot powder with hydrolyzed gelatin before every race and training session. Gelatin is a flavorless nutrient derived from boiled animal bones and skin. Amelia describes this drink as being crucial for the regeneration of her connective tissues. Another tip provided by Amelia is a specific way to improve your strength and posture. She describes the hamstrings as one of the most important muscle groups for overall strength and posture. Therefore, every day she aims to roll her feet over a golf ball to stimulate the hamstrings.
Wim Hof is an athlete who has excelled in sports located in some of the most challenging climates. Specifically, Wim is renowned for his performances in extreme cold. Subsequently, he has been given the nickname, ‘The Iceman.’ Wim has broken over 20 world records in icy climates, including a 7500-meter climb of Mount Everest while wearing nothing but shorts and shoes.
Despite these feats seeming extreme, ice has been used for health benefits for decades. For example, ice baths are a standard part of any top athlete’s post-match routine. However, some athletes go above and beyond to utilize the benefits of the cold. For example, surfing champion Laird Hamilton and self-improvement guru Tony Robbins both work in environments that incorporate cold exposure. They believe this increases their immune function, promotes weight loss, and helps them fight depression.
Tim Ferriss is not recommending that we all start competing in these extreme sports. These sports are the dangerous version of an otherwise beneficial pursuit. For example, Wim swam across an ice-covered lake only to have his retinas freeze. This experience could have left him blind, but luckily no damage was lasting. Therefore, a daily alternative for readers is to try finishing your daily shower with a 30- to 60-second blast of cold water.
Learn the Health Formula That Is Right for You
“Investing in yourself is the most important investment you’ll ever make in your life. . . . There’s no financial investment that’ll ever match it, because if you develop more skill, more ability, more insight, more capacity, that’s what’s going to really provide economic freedom. . . . It’s those skill sets that really make that happen.” – Tim Ferriss
People tend to search for simple answers to health questions. The issue with this approach is that our health is complicated and is also unique to us. Tim provides an example of cholesterol. Although high cholesterol is generally considered bad, this does not mean that very low cholesterol is good.
Justin Mager is a physician and personal health coach for several Olympic athletes, corporate executives, and founder of the CrossFit Center, Kelly Starrett. Justin has been seeking to challenge that one-size-fits-all health tips are a good idea. For example, Justin has noticed that high cholesterol can help build lean body mass and defined muscles over a short period. Therefore, while the office worker will probably be better off on a low cholesterol diet, an elite athlete might benefit from a cholesterol-rich diet.
Subsequently, Justin recommends that everybody identifies what is healthy for them through experimentation rather than strict rules. The modern world is obsessed with strict rules e.g., no alcohol, no sugar, and no carbs. The reality is that this might be the case for some but not for others. Experimentation will help you to decide for yourself.
James Fadiman is an expert in psychedelics. James recommends that people try things out before judging and see if they work for them. For example, many people take microdoses of psychedelic drugs to improve their well-being, empathy, and expand their consciousness. The author, Tim Ferris, talks about a friend called Slim Berriss. This ‘friend’ takes two weekly microdoses of ibogaine hydrochloride (a psychoactive substance found in some flowering plants). Additionally, Slim Berriss participates twice a year in a two-day retreat that includes taking a high dose of the ayahuasca plant. Ayahuasca is a psychoactive botanical that has been used by indigenous people of the Amazon for thousands of years to obtain spiritual enlightenment. People who have taken this plant have claimed it helps them feel more interconnected with everything else in the universe.
James and Tim do not recommend that everyone takes psychoactive drugs. However, it is the mindset that is important. We should be open to different viewpoints and ways of becoming healthy. It is essential to seek medical supervision, but you want medical supervision that doesn’t have strict rules.
“Nothing breaks my heart more than seeing that person who’s struggling to lose weight who thinks that they need to run 20 miles a week. They have no desire to do it, their knees hurt, they hate it, and they’re not losing weight. And I’d like to say, ‘Well, I’ve got great news for you. You don’t ever need to run another step a day in your life, because there’s no value in that.’ “There is value in exercise, though, and I think that the most important type of exercise, especially in terms of bang for your buck, is going to be really high-intensity, heavy strength training. Strength training aids everything from glucose disposal and metabolic health to mitochondrial density and orthopedic stability. That last one might not mean much when you’re a 30-something young buck, but when you’re in your 70s, that’s the difference between a broken hip and a walk in the park.” – Tim Ferriss
Tim provides a variety of exercises that you can use to improve your mobility. Firstly, he encourages readers to try the campfire test to identify their level of mobility. Essentially, if you cannot squat all the way down to the ground with your feet and knees together, then you are missing full hip and ankle ranges of motion. This problem can contribute to a considerable variety of problems: hip impingement, plantar fasciitis, torn achilles, and pulled calves.
To improve mobility, Tim utilizes techniques recommended by Eric Cressey. Specifically, he utilizes Cossack squats to improve mobility. Follow these instructions and the diagram for guidance:
- Utilize a kettlebell for this exercise
- Keep your heels on the ground throughout
- Keep your knees in line with your toes
- Keep your hips as low as possible when switching sides
- Do five to six reps per side for two to three sets
Suffering Is Associated With Our Thought Patterns
After Tim prompted Tony to provide a quote that guides his life, Tony explained that he has a belief that guides his whole life. This belief is that life is always happening for us, not to us. It is our job to work out where the benefit is. If we do, life is magical.
Tony also provides an outline of the three thought patterns that are associated with suffering:
These thought patterns are all based on ourselves. We often describe suffering as something external e.g. I am worried about my children failing. However, the reality is that you are worried about failing your children. Suffering is always linked to yourself and your thought patterns.
Finally, Tony explains that we generally see the problems rather than the solutions. To solve this, we must adopt a higher emotional state.
Investing in Your Health Is the Most Powerful Investment
Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, was asked to provide the investment which has brought him the most success. Instead of a financial one, Jack explained that he walks 5.3 miles to work every single morning. This takes him 75 minutes each way. Jack explained that this walk helps him to unplug from the world. He does not email or text during this time. Instead, he just listens to music or audiobooks. Alternatively, he occasionally uses this time to listen to the sounds of his local area. He uses the sounds and sights of San Francisco as inspiration for imaginative thoughts and potential ideas.
Part 2: WEALTH
Seek Out Difficult Jobs
One of the most common tips for successfully becoming wealthy is hard work. However, Tim explains that your experiences of having worked a hard job in the past are as important. If you engage with a hard job, this will give you the drive to attain the success that can help you leave this hard job.
Chris Sacca is a successful investor in the San Francisco Bay Area. Chris was exposed to this lesson, getting a hard job, by his parents from a young age. Therefore, Sacca and his siblings had a summer of two halves. The first part of their summer was spent interning with a high-powered relative. For example, at the age of twelve, Chris was teamed up with his godbrother’s father. He was the lobbyist in Washington, DC. Therefore, Chris spent his summer, pre-adolescence, sat in meetings with members of Congress. Chris even learned how to convince these members to endorse specific bills. Subsequently, Chris spent the second half of his summer working in a far less prestigious job. For example, one of Chris’ first jobs was servicing septic tanks. So, he shifted from working alongside members of Congress to working alongside filthy buckets of excrement. Importantly, though, both jobs were hard.
Seeing the benefits of being an executive and then experiencing the difficulties associated with cleaning septic tanks should provide you with ample motivation. Then, you can start taking the required steps to move in the right direction. Tim explains that these initial steps won’t necessarily be easy.
When you start taking the initial steps toward success, you must remain positive. Seth Godin is a successful publisher. He claims that he obtained his success by keeping track of every positive thing in your life, even during those early steps. People tend to spend a lot of time thinking about their failures and the negative events in their lives. However, focusing on your failures will only leave you feeling defeated. You are allowing this negative event to continue to have a negative impact on your life. Instead, Seth recommends you focus on the times you were successful, brave, or helpful. Focusing on your positive moments will empower and encourage you to do even greater things in the future.
Create Long-Term Systems Rather than Short-Term Goals
Scott Adams is the writer of the comic strip, Dilbert. Dilbert is about an office worker who is, in many ways, the perfect antihero. There is nothing particularly special about Dilbert, but he is still a successful character. Scott Adams attributes this success to him forming systems rather than achieving goals. People tend to focus on short-term goals when pursuing their personal success. For example, many businesses fail because the owners expect immediate results. They have quit their job and decided to pursue something that they expect to work instantly. Subsequently, after a few ‘failures’, these people will then head back to their old jobs.
An example of a system to pursue is one that has an impact once you look at the bigger picture. This project may be doomed to fail if short-term goals were your aim, but this project has a broader impact. For example, engaging with creative pursuits should not just be to create work that would fit well in an art gallery. Some may view art without potential wealth as a failure. However, in reality, you are building a new skill by creating different types of art. These skills will then be extremely useful later down the line when you may need these skills for a specific project.
For example, Scott Adams started blogging many years ago. Although his blogging took up a lot of his time and had little to show for it in added income, he knew it would be worthwhile as he was still working within his system. The experience he gained from writing this blog helped develop his writing style. This writing style would then help him become an influential online presence and a best-selling author. Scott’s years of buying into his system paid off. If he had relied on short-term goals, it could have been a different story.
Ignore Peer Pressure and Take Big Risks
Those who conform to those around them are far less likely to have what it takes to become wealthy and successful. In fact, Tim Ferris states that successful people have to develop immunity to peer pressure.
Shaun White is a perfect example of an individual who ignored peer pressure to obtain success. Shaun is an Olympic snowboarding champion. When he was 15, his parents paid for him to travel to Japan to compete in an international snowboarding event. This event was of a very high standard, with many of the competitors being significantly older than Shaun and having had their expenses fully covered by sponsors.
The day before the competition, all the other athletes went out partying. Shaun realized the impact that peer pressure would have on many of their performances. On the day, the competitors were so hungover that they decided they wouldn’t take the event too seriously and just split the prize money after a show run. Shaun had other ideas. Despite the older athletes’ complaints, Shaun refused to accept this deal. Shaun had not succumbed to peer pressure. Subsequently, he won the competition and the $50,000 prize. This event set the foundation for the rest of his career. He is now one of the most marketable athletes in America.
Shaun White’s decision to refuse the athletes’ deal is also an example of taking a risk. He could have settled for a guaranteed smaller amount of money. Instead, he decided to risk this money as he believed in his ability.
Peter Diamandis showcases another example of the importance of risk-taking. Peter is the founder of the XPRIZE Foundation. The XPRIZE Foundation offers an award for people who produce innovative solutions for space exploration. Peter decided that the winner of the prize should receive at least $10 million. Despite this, with his friends’ help, he was only able to raise half this amount. The natural action from many people at this point is to give up. Instead, Peter took a risk. In 1996, Peter invested his money into a massive fundraising event. Spending his money on this fundraising event paid off. The sponsors were reassured by the magnitude of the event he had put on, and the donations began pouring in.
Without Peter taking a risk, this prize would never have existed. Instead, he did take a risk, and, in 2004, the prize was awarded for the first time.
Plan Ahead to Achieve Success
Arnold applies a winning mentality to all he does. During his bodybuilding competitions, and now in his movies, he is not there to compete. Instead, he is there to win. Arnold’s confidence comes from his vision and he is a big believer in the idea of clear visions making life much easier.
Arnold is also an avid chess player and has been for years. Chess requires players to think many steps ahead. In some ways, Arnold did this with his investments. Arnold started making his millions before landing big movie roles. He would save his money from bodybuilding and selling fitness courses and then put money down on apartments, so he could rent them out for profit. Arnold was successful before he became a huge celebrity as he had a clear vision.
Naval is a co-founder and chairman of AngelList. He believes that we always have 3 options: change it, accept it, or leave it. Do not react to circumstances emotionally and encourage inaction. For example, Naval describes anger as hot coal you hold in your hand while waiting to throw it at someone.
Financially, Naval recommends finding every possible way of developing compound interest. The news’ suggestions for how you should eat, invest, and think will just leave you nutritionally, financially, and morally bankrupt. Instead, you need to figure life out for yourself and utilize the abundance of free education and resources online. Then, you can obtain all the benefits of compound interest in your life.
Jocko is an American retired naval officer who served in the Navy SEALs. Jocko believes that plan Bs are one of the most important things in life. Subsequently, he has the mantra of ‘Two is one and one is none’. Basically, you must ensure you always have contingency plans in case something goes wrong.
Jocko explains that things in life are far simpler than you think. You just need to stop meditating on decisions and just decide to become mentally tougher. This involves taking extreme ownership of your life and role. For example, you need to stop blaming others for your circumstances. Instead, stay humble and identify how you can improve.
Part 3: WISDOM
Tim suggests we try and obtain our goals as quickly as possible, rather than slowly without faults. Specifically, he believes that an error rate of ten to twenty percent is acceptable as long as you move fast. Tim recommends that people take their ten-year plans and try and complete them within six months. You might make some mistakes, but you will learn from these mistakes and will ultimately achieve your goals much sooner than ten years from now.
Tim also suggests we should never be afraid to try something we are not qualified to do. For example, Tim explains that he had no experience or understanding of podcasting before deciding to start his own. However, his podcast is now one of the most popular.
Tim describes our everyday life as a dreamlike state. It is through this veil of thought that we go about our day and perceive our environment. However, we are just talking to ourselves nonstop. We need to identify these thoughts as objects of our consciousness, also. Thoughts arise and then pass, just like all consciousness. Hence, we should not be overly-controlled by our thoughts. Instead, learn from others and accept that all consciousness is fleeting.
You Have Three Options in Life
During every situation in life, you will have three options: change the situation, accept the situation, or leave the situation. You should never choose to sit around, wishing you would change a situation and not changing it. Similarly, you should never be wishing you could leave the situation and not leaving or accepting the situation. Most of our misery is caused by us not choosing one of these three options in a situation. Tim outlines that the word he most often tells himself is ‘accept.’
Comedians Offer Unique Recipes for Creativity
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
“So much of the job is more emotion and ‘heart work’ than it is ‘head work.’ The head comes in after, to look at what the heart has presented and to organize it. But the initial inspiration comes from a different place, and it’s not the head, and it’s not an intellectual activity.” – Tim Ferriss
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are now famous comedians. However, their success is built on their ability to be uniquely creative. These two provide three basic recipes for life and creativity:
- Work with what you know – As young artists, these comedians had an overwhelming desire to have more sex. This compulsion offered the inspiration for Superbad, which became a huge film success. They worked with what they knew, and this allowed them to utilize their creativity to greater effect
- Work against the male stereotype – The second strategy was given to these two comedians by their mentor, Judd Apatow. He told them to challenge the male stereotype that they should be blocking out their emotions. Judd claimed that the most crucial thing in life is our emotions. Therefore, we should be using these emotions to communicate our creativity to others better. The most effective filmmakers are those that utilize this emotional side to develop movie characters that have at least one emotional wound that needs to be healed
- Smoke weed to get the creative juices flowing – Both comedians believe that marijuana is a fantastic tool for getting your creative juices flowing. In fact, the two have learned so much about marijuana that they have different strains for different situations
Live Your Life and Embrace Fear
Tim encourages readers to think about the last time they were on holiday. Were you more productive after this holiday? Often the answer is yes. People attribute this greater productivity to being well-rested. However, another explanation is that this productivity is associated with you having recently had inspiring experiences.
“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.” – Tim Ferriss
Whitney Cummings is an example of an individual who is fully creative due to her life experiences. She is a comedian who wrote the hit TV series, 2 Broke Girls. At the start of her career, Whitney was filled with self-doubt, low self-esteem, and procrastination. Subsequently, she started to believe that the only way she could make people laugh was by making fun of herself.
However, she eventually noticed that she just needed more time for her personal life. She had previously been a workaholic and had not been allowed to just live. Since making this decision, Whitney and her comedy have become enriched. Notably, she started to embrace and experience all parts of life: the good and bad.
As well as experiencing holidays and new cultures, it is also essential that we experience fear and discomfort whenever possible.
Brown is a sociologist and public speaker. Brown rejects the idea that some people are brave heroes, while others are cowards. In reality, the majority of people are both afraid and brave. Instead of heroic acts being a marker of bravery, Brown suggests that real courage is feeling and confronting fear.
Based on this guidance, people must seek fear and discomfort. Then, look at these fears in the eye. Facing these fears is crucial in helping us tackle difficult problems, such as racism, homophobia, and climate change. These issues can’t be resolved comfortably.
One way to encourage uncomfortable situations is to spend more time with people who have different perspectives and backgrounds than you. These experiences will help us be vulnerable in front of other people. One of Brown’s most outstanding personal achievements was showing her vulnerability during a TED talk. At this TED talk, Brown spoke about her breakdown and subsequent spiritual awakening. This talk reached an audience of 31 million people. It was an uncomfortable talk for Brown, but it offered her an opportunity to be successful. Tim Ferriss explains that discomfort is a sign of growth.
Writing Is Powerful and People Are Interesting
Matt is one of the co-founders and developers of WordPress. When prompted to provide any beliefs that guide his life, Matt explained: When you can write well, you can think well. Therefore, clarity of writing indicates clarity of thinking.
Additionally, Matt aims to learn something from everybody he speaks with. Everybody is interesting in their own way. If we find an individual boring, then the problem is with you rather than the individual you are speaking with.
Matt recommends that young people just slow down. Mistakes in young age are often mistakes of ambition rather than mistakes of being too lazy. Slowing down involves activities such as meditating, taking time away from computer screens, or focusing on every conversation.
Finally, Matt explains that getting upset won’t help anything. Instead, you should think about the bigger picture. How does your decision now have an impact tomorrow? Also, how will this decision have an impact in a year or 10 years’ time?
Paolo’s book, The Alchemist, was originally published to only 900 copies. The publisher then refused to reprint it. Now, this book has sold more than 65 million copies worldwide. This shows the potential for good books to eventually become successful.
Paolo recommends that first authors keep things simple for the reader. Do not fall into the trap of describing everything. Readers often have enough imagination to fill the gaps and giving too much information can confuse readers. Therefore, just provide hints.
Additionally, Paulo also recommends you avoid researchers for books. Paulo has not used any researchers himself, as he does not see his books as an opportunity to show how intelligent he is. Instead, he sees his books as an opportunity to share his heart and soul.
Reid is often considered the oracle of Silicon Valley, as he has invested in many successful startups e.g. Facebook, Flickr, and AirBnB. Reid is also a co-founder and executive director of LinkedIn.
Reid focuses on the importance of language. If you are trying to talk about a problem and make progress, then you need to make language as positive an instrument as possible. Hence, you have to consider the ways in which language does and does not work.
If you identify a potential success, then you must identify the one big reason for taking this specific action. There needs to be one decisive reason, then the potential pitfalls need to be weighed up against that one reason.
Asking Stupid Questions is the Key to Wisdom
Malcolm’s advice was to not worry about whether others think you are an idiot. He gained this approach from his father. Malcolm’s father would always ask questions with no concern about whether others would see them as stupid questions. Malcolm has also adopted this approach. If he does not understand something, then he will ask. Even if it is the simplest concept, it is better to understand and look stupid than stay quiet and lack the required knowledge.
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- The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
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- The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World (David Deutsch)
- Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment (George Leonard)
- The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (Steven Pressfield)
- The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Joseph Campbell)
- Poor Charlie’s Almanack (Charles T Munger)
- Finite and Infinite Games (James Carse)
- The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)
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We rate this book 4.4/5.
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