Here are some notes, quotes and thoughts from Tools of Titans: The tactics, routines, and habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World Class Performers by Tim Ferris.
This is a big book, filled with tons of wisdom and great advice from Tim’s podcast interviews. In fact, one of my big takeaways is the book itself…it’s repurposed content delivered in a new format. Tim leverage his podcast and turned it into a book. It was already an asset…he built on it.
The book is divided into three sections: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise. Personally, I didn’t enjoy the first section, though I suspect workout buffs and people interested in the science of nutrition would find it fascinating.
Here were some of my favorite quotes and insights from the book.
Tim Ferris: Eat the same means over and over again, especially for breakfast and lunch.
“Calm is contagious.” – Rorke Denver, former Navy SEAL commander on the most important lesson learned in SEAL training.
Chris Sacca: Go to all the meetings you can, even if you’re not invited to them, and future out how to be helpful. At minimum, take notes for the participants.
Chris Sacca: When the going gets tough, just tell yourself, “Tonight, I will be in my bed.”
Chris Sacca: For the first half of the summer, my parents would send us to an internship with a relative or an interesting friend. But for the second half of the summer, they had us work nasty, hard jobs. Cool opportunities + Hard work.
Marc Andreessen: Too many people don’t charge enough for their product to be able o afford the sales and marketing required to actually get anybody to buy it.
Marc Andreessen: Strong views, loosely held.
Marc Andreessen: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. It’s not necessary to know something nobody else knows – it is necessary to believe something few other people believe.
Derek Sivers: If more information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.
Derek Sivers: “Most of us say yes to too much stuff, and then, we let these little, mediocre things fill our lives…The Problem is, when that occasional “hell yeah” thing comes along, you don’t have enough time toggle it the attention that you should , because you’ve said yes to too much other little, half-ass stuff.”
Matt Mullenweg: “Everyone is interesting. If you’re ever bored in a conversation, the problem’s with you, not the other person.”
Warren Buffet: “Investing in yourself is the most important investment you’ll ever make in your life.”
Reid Hoffman (on the best employees): A-players should suggest modifications to the plan based on their closeness to the details.
Reid Hoffman (on considering when to say yes): “There needs to be one decisive reason, and then the worthiness [of the trip] needs to be measured against that one reason. If I go, then we can backfill into the schedule all the other secondary activities. But if I go for a blended reason, I’ll almost surely come back and feel like it was a waste of time.”
Peter Thiel: If you have a 10-year plan of how to get there, you should ask: Why can’t you do this in 6 months?
Seth Godin on Parenting: Look your kid in the eye, talk to them and solve interesting problems together. You’ll raise a different kid than someone who doesn’t do that. Every kid is homeschooled from 3pm to 10pm.
Scott Adams: Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things. One of those skills should be public speaking or communication. You’d be hard-pressed to find any successful person who didn’t have about three skills in the top 25%.
Dan Carlin: Don’t be afraid to do something you’re not qualified to do. “I’ don’t have a doctorate, I’m not a historian. But you don’t have to have a degree to tell stories.”
Ed Catmull: “This is the big misconception that people have, that in the beginning, a new film is the baby version of the final film, when in fact the final film bears no relationship to what you started off with. What we’ve found is that the first version always sucks. I don’t mean this because I’m self-effacting or that we’re modest about it. I mean it in the sense that they really do suck.”
Tracy DiNunzio: “When you complain, nobody wants to help you.”
Phil Libin: Every single thing in your company breaks every time you roughly triple in size.
Jerry Colonna: “How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?”
Noah Kagan: “Don’t try and find time. Schedule time.”
Great men have almost always shown themselves as ready to obey as they afterwards proved able to command. – Lord Mahon
Kevin Rose (on dealing with online nonsense): Do people you respect or care about leave hateful comments on the internet? Do you really want to engage with people who have infinite time on their hands?
Tim Ferris (on investing): Do you understand it? Do you think they will dominant and growing 3 years from now?
Neil Strauss: Use TK as a placeholder for things to research later (for example: “He was TK years old at the time.” Since almost no English words have TK in them, it’s easy to use Control-F to research later.
Chuck Close: “Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will – through work – bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would have never dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great art idea.”
Scott Belsky: Sometimes, you need to stop doing things you love in order to nurture the one thing that matters most. Creative minds don’ need more ideas, they need to make more responsibility with the ideas they’ve already got.
Tim Ferris: Schedule, (and, if possible, pay for) things in advance to prevent yourself from backing out.
Jocko Willink: If you want to be tougher, it’s simple. Be tougher. Don’t meditate on it.
General Stanley MChrystal: You put together a “Red Team” to test a plan. Ask them, “How would you disrupt this plan or how would you defeat this plan.”
Will MacAskill: If you spend an hour going out to eat, it’s reasonable to take 5 minutes to decide where to go. That 5% makes the other 95% better. Well, you’ll spend about 80,000 hours of your like working. Wouldn’t it be wise to invest 5% of your working life figuring out how to spend the rest of your time?
Amanda Palmer: “By preemptively using the language of a critic, I remove some of their potential weapons.”
Edward Norton: If you want to be taken seriously then take things seriously.
Mike Birbiglia (on making appointments to do your most important work): “I was putting off writing the script, but I wasn’t putting off having lunch with [a friend.] So I thought, ‘I’m always on time and I always show up to things, so why don’t I do that for myself.’
Mike Birbiglia: Ask people questions they are not expecting.
Malcolm Gladwell: “I don’t understand. Explain that to me.”
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist – Pablo Picasso
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s full of knowledge and great ideas, from successful people across many different industries. I did as Tim suggested in the beginning and skipped the sections that weren’t of interest to me.
But as I read, I felt like I got to know people a little bit and I learned a lot along the way.
Grab at copy of the book here…it’s worth it.