Book:  Tools of Titans

Author:  Tim Ferriss

Purchase:  PrinteBook

Citation:  Ferriss, T., Schwarzenegger, A. & Geoffroi, R. (2017). Tools of titans : the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Three Big Takeaways:

  • More than 80% of world-class performers 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." It's a meta-skill that improves everything else. You're practicing focus when it doesn't matter so that you can focus better later when it does matter. Meditation allows you to step back and gain a "witness perspective" so that I'm observing my thoughts instead of being tumbled by them. (pg. 147)

  • 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. This echoes what Jim Rohn famously said, "If you let your learning lead to knowledge, you become a fool If you let your learning lead to action, you become wealthy." (pg 211)

  • To make a living as an author, you need only 1,000 true fans. A true fan is described as "a fan who will buy anything you produce." These diehard fans will buy the hardback and paperback and audio versions of your book. You have to create enough each year that you can earn, on average, $100 profit from each true fan. It is a good creative challenge in every area because it is always easier and better to give your existing customers more, than it is to find new fans. You must have a direct relationship with your fans. If you keep the full $100 from each true fan (as opposed to the fees going to a publisher) then you need only 1000 of them to earn $100k per year. 1,000 customers is a whole lot more feasible to aim for than a million fans. If you added only one new true fan per day, it's only take a few years to gain 1,000. True fanship is doable. There is nothing without a fan base on the Internet. Everything made or thought of can interest at least one person in a million - it's a low bar. Yet if even only one out of a million are interested, that's potentially 7,000 people on the planet. The trick is to practically find those fans, or to have them find you. (pg. 292)

Other Key Ideas

  • When you eat a good diet there are two key ideas to remember. First, eat the same few meals over and over again, especially for breakfast and lunch. You're probably already doing this. Second, take a day off per week and go nuts. I choose to recommend Saturday. This is "cheat day," which a lot of readers also call "Faturday." For biochemical and psychological reasons, it's important not to hold back. Some readers keep a "to-eat" list during the week, which reminds them that they're only giving up vices for 6 days at a time. (pg. 81)

  • When the going gets tough, I had a phrase I kept repeating in my head over and over again, which was, "Tonight, I will be in my bed. Tonight, I will be in my bed."... It was something I repeated to remind me that the pain of what i was going through was temporary and no matter what, at the end of that day, I would be in my bed that night." (pg. 167)

  • Don't overestimate the people on pedestals. Get inside the heads of the people who made things in the past and what they were actually like, and then realize that they're not that different from you. AT the time they got started, they were kind of just like you...so there's nothing stopping any of the rest of us from doing the same thing. Life can be so much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call "life" was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again. (pg. 174)

  • Busy, to me, seems to imply out of control. Like, "Oh my God, I'm so busy. I don't have any time." To me, that sounds like a person who's got no control over their life. Lack of time is lack of priorities. If I'm "busy," it is because I've made choices that put me in that position. So I've forbidden myself to reply to "How are you?" with "Busy." I have no right to complain. Instead, if I'm too busy, it's a cue to reexamine my systems and rules. (pg. 189)

  • The very first thing I do when I get up is to sit down and work on the problem because that's when I'm freshest. I'm not distracted by phone calls and responses to things, and so forth. It's the most "blank slate" moment that I have. I use that to maximize my creativity on a particular project. (pg. 230)

  • We find ourselves caught in the cycle of keeping track of the wrong things. Keeping track of how many times we've been rejected. Keeping track of how many times it didn't work. Why keep track of them? Are they making us better? Wouldn't it make more sense to keep track of all the times it worked? All of the times we took a risk? When we start doing that, we can redefine ourselves as people who are able to make an impact on the world. The narrative is up to me. The narrative isn't done to you; the narrative is something that you choose. Once we can dig deep and find a different narrative, then we ought to be able to change the game. (pg. 238)

  • When I first started blogging, my future wife often asked about what my goal was. The blogging seemed to double my workload while promising a 5% higher income that didn’t make any real difference in my life. It seemed a silly use of time. I tried explaining that blogging was a system, not a goal. But I never did a good job of it. I’ll try again here. Writing is a skill that requires practice. So the first part of my system involves practicing on a regular basis. I didn’t know what I was practicing for, exactly, and that’s what makes it a system and not a goal. The second part of my blogging system is a sort of R&D for writing. I write on a variety of topics and see which ones get the best response. You readers do a good job of telling me what works and what doesn’t. When the Wall Street Journal took notice of my blog posts, they asked me to write some guest features. Those articles weren’t big money-makers either, but it all fit within my system of public practice. My writing for the Wall Street Journal, along with my public practice on this blog, attracted the attention of book publishers, and that attention turned into a book deal. And the book deal generated speaking requests that are embarrassingly lucrative. So the payday for blogging eventually arrived, but I didn’t know in advance what path it would take. My blogging has kicked up dozens of business opportunities over the past years, so it could have taken any direction. (pg. 263)

  • If you want an average, successful life, it doesn't take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school and apply for jobs you might like. But 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. The first strategy is difficult to the point of near impossibility. The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. I always advise people to become good public speakers (top 25%). Anyone can do it with practice. If you add that talent to any other, suddenly you're the boss of the people who have only one skill. Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more "pretty goods'' until no one else has your mix. 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%. (pg. 269)

  • Don't be afraid to do something you're not qualified to do. Disarm potential criticisms of your credentials by saying, "Keep in mind I'm not an expert, but..." when you are doing a podcast, writing a book, etc. (pg. 285)

  • When you are going to interview someone, open up and be vulnerable with the person before the interview. It works incredibly well. At some point during the 5-10 minutes prior volunteer personal or vulnerable information. This makes them much more inclined to do the same later. Or, tell them they're really good at something, or ask them about something. Also, address common concerns before the show. Let them know this isn't a "gotcha" show, and it's intended to make them look good. Also, remind them that the guest has final cut, meaning that we can delete anything they like. (pg. 350)

  • Remember that you're capable of doing everything that the people you admire are doing. Maybe not everything, but don't be so impressed. There's no reason that you can't have the things that the people you admire have. (pg. 377)

  • One of my favorite time-management essays is "Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule" by Paul Graham. Great creative work isn't possible if you're trying to piece together 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there. Large, uninterrupted blocks of time - 3 to 5 hours minimum - create the space needed to find and connect the dots. And one block per week isn't enough. You need to have 3 to 4 mornings per week for "maker" mode. (pg. 387)

  • You can't blame your boss for not giving you the support you need. Plenty of people will say, "It's my boss's fault." No, it's actually your fault because you haven't educated him, you haven't influenced him, you haven't explained to him in a manner he understands why you need this support that you need. That's extreme ownership. Own it all. (pg. 415)

  • Once you start managing hundreds of people, you're going to have to lead in a different way, and what you're really going to have to do is to develop people. It's really about developing people who are going to do the work. Unless you are going to do the task yourself, then the development time you spend on the people who are going to do that task - every minute you spend on that is leveraged - is exponential return. (pg. 439)

  • Mindfulness is just that quality of mind which allows you to pay attention to sights and sounds and sensations, and even thoughts themselves, without being lost in thought and without grasping at what is pleasant and pushing what is unpleasant away. We're so deeply conditioned to be lost in thought and to have this conversation with ourselves from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. It's just chatter in the mind, and it's so captivating that we're not even aware of it. We are just talking to ourselves nonstop, and until you can break that spell and begin to notice thoughts themselves as objects of consciousness, just arising and passing away, you can't even pay attention to your break, or anything else, with any clarity. (pg. 456)

  • What is it costing you to postpone action? Don't only evaluate the potential downside of action. It is equally important to measure the cost of inaction. If you don't pursue things that excite you, where will you be in 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years? How will you feel having allowed 10 more years of your life pass doing what you know will not fulfill you? If you look 10 years out and know with 100% certainty that it is a path of disappointment and regret, inaction is the greatest risk of all. (pg. 469)

  • Keep in mind that 10% of your audience will find a way to take anything personally. If you have 1000 readers, 100 will not like your work because that is how the math works. If you anticipate it, it will throw you off less. On top of that, 1% will be completely crazy, which will help you handle the scarier stuff. If you (wrongly) assume that everyone is going to respond with smiles and high-fives, you are going to get slapped and you'll respond impulsively. (pg. 535)

  • When something great happens, you think you'll remember it 3 months later, but you won't. Instead, create a record of great things that actually happened, all of which are easy to forget if you're depressed or seeing the world through gray-colored glasses. If you don't regularly appreciate the small wins, you will never appreciate the big wins. They'll fall through your fingers like sand as you obsess on the next week, the next to-do, the next thing to fix. Look for the good, practice finding the good, and you'll see it more often. (pg. 570)

  • Don't be scared. There are a lot of things I did not do, a lot of experiences I never tried, a lot of people I never met or hung out with because I was, in some form, intimidated or scared. It also plays into what psychologists call the "spotlight effect" - as if everyone must be caring about what I do. And the fact is, nobody gives a crap what I do. (pg. 576)

  • Hemmingway had a practice of ending his writing sessions mid-flow and mid-sentence. This way, he knew exactly where to start the next day, and he could reliably both end and start his sessions with confidence. (pg. 580)

  • To get huge, good things done, you need to be okay with letting the small, bad things happen. People's IQs seem to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them. (pg. 597)

  • Robert takes copious notes. He sets an alarm for midnight every night to input the day's notes into a Word document. He dates everything and stores them by year, so he can find whatever he might want later. What kept it going is when I would go back and review the journals and realize how many life-changing things happen within a weekend. Things that you thought were spread out over two years were actually one weekend. So many occurrences happened in chunks that could blow you aware, things that kind of define you. If you don't write things down, a year goes by and you will not remember the details. you go back and you see the journals, it's even better the second time. You live through it again and you realize the importance of it. (pg. 634)

  • When people say: "You do so many things. You're a writer, a reader, a website developer. You do so many things". I go "No, I only do one thing I live a creative life. When you put creativity in everything, everything becomes available to you." (pg. 637)

Copyright © 2019 by Dr. Jared Smith LLC.  Specializing in Leadership, Education, and Personal Growth.