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Tools of Titans (ToT)
Is ToT the right business book for you?
There simply isn’t enough time to listen to all the episodes of The Tim Ferriss Show. Fortunately for you, Timothy Ferriss put together ToT, which is like a cheat sheet to the best interviews from the early days of his podcast.
Ferriss’s commentary throughout this compendium skillfully ties together experts, thought leaders and world-class performers of varied backgrounds, giving you, the reader, a fantastic introduction to many tools, topics, and people that are worth following.
Below you’ll find my Review (ToT scored 89%), my Notes, and even my thoughts on the author himself. Check it all out, and then compare ToT to other books on The List, or give me a shout on Facebook with all your thoughts on this title.
Did I get it wrong? Grade ToT for yourself and submit a review. The best reviews will be featured on this page.
Tools of Titans | Review
Review by The Rubric
Now before I give Ferriss or his raving fans a heart attack, allow me to qualify that ToT is a compendium or a catalog of material, not the material itself.
Therefore, I did not find many fully-fleshed out arguments in this book—but neither did I expect to find them.
To learn why you should do things recommended in this book, you’re going to have to listen to the actual interviews associated with the profiles to get the full logical progression (assuming it’s there).
That said, the ToT’s Healthy Section scored best in Arguments, followed by the Wealthy and Wisdom sections respectively.
By The Rubric, ToT scored “Excellent” for arguments.
This is perhaps the most surprising score. I expected this book to be chock-full of real things/activities to implement on a day-to-day basis. 650 pages worth, actually.
And it was in the beginning; in fact the Healthy section scored 100% in Practicality.
But there were diminishing returns through the rest of the book, ultimately leaving the book’s score for this section much lower.
This means that as you proceed through the book, the utilizable tidbits become fewer and farther between, and even the inspiring/motivating aspects dwindle a bit.
By The Rubric, ToT scored “Excellent” for practicality.
The caveat here is that I didn’t read ToT the way Ferriss suggested; I didn’t treat it as a buffet, opting to read it cover-to-cover instead.
That said, of interest, the Healthy section scored 100% here, and the Wealthy and Wise sections scored 80% each.
By The Rubric, ToT scored “Excellent” for enjoyability.
I really can’t fault the readability of this book in any way.
Ferriss does an excellent job of cross-referencing the entries, along with the particular interviews from which they came, his other works, and even the subjects’ other works, which eliminates the need for prerequisite reading or listening.
I found maybe three mistakes in the whole book; two extra articles (a misplaced “a” and “of”), and a very weird reference that didn’t make any sense on page 489.
But that hardly warrants a demerit.
I might have lowered this score for a lack of index, except that you can now find an index here.
By The Rubric, ToT scored “Excellent” for readability.
One of my absolute favorite parts of following Ferriss is that, besides the books he writes, I never feel that he’s trying to “sell” me on anything. Maybe not even his ideas.
To me, Ferriss is pure content creation for the sake of creating valuable content. ToT was written to be valuable to his readers; it is not overtly promoting any services or products (not even those in which he has a financial interest) so far as I can tell.
This is so refreshing after so many books are superficial in the hopes you’ll pay to go deeper.
I dig it, Mr. Ferriss.
By The Rubric, ToT scored “Excellent” for rhetoric.
If you’re an audiophile, I recommend sticking to Ferriss’s Show and show notes. But if you’re a reader, like me – or if you’re trying to determine which of Ferriss’s episodes to listen to first – then ToT is a good buy.
I have not yet read The Four Hour Body or The Four Hour Chef, but it seems to me that the Healthy section and the profiles with chefs from ToT were the best aspects of this book.
By The Rubric, ToT scored “Excellent” in total.
Tools of Titans | Notes
ToT isn’t Ferriss’s latest groundbreaking tome anymore, but it is the better one of the last two.
It is a huge book, divided into three sections; Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise, and is tying up and together many of Ferriss’s episodes, featuring 114 of 200+ of his past guests.
In re-organizing my notes for ToT, I decided on five categories, including quotes and questions, interviewees of note, recurring topics and themes, books and media, and tips and tools.
Quotes & Questions
“I wasn’t there to compete. I was there to win.” Arnold Schwarzenegger, (p. 177)
“Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.” Re-quoted by Naval Ravikant, (p. 546)
“Enough is as good as a feast.” Stephen J. Dubner (p. 575)
Interviewees of Note
Out of 114, these 18 interview summaries were my favorites. I recommend checking them out in ToT, but also their full episodes, and then following them on social media, etc. (links provided below).
Chris Sacca (p. 164)
My favorite parts of Sacca’s section were the lesson of hard work vs. fun work his parents cleverly designed, and his recommendation to show up to high-level meetings, even if you’re not invited.
On attending meetings uninvited, if anyone asks why you’re there, tell them you’re taking notes for the meeting (and then take notes). This gives you inside access to learn more, and helps you to become a fixture in an organization. A perfect idea for someone who wants to move up quickly. Sacca did this successfully in is past, even attending meetings with the co-founders of Google.
Arnold Schwarzenegger (p. 176)
The “Governator” made it big with real estate before he made it big in movies. Learning to invest early and wisely is one of those life lessons that never gets old or tired, and Arnold’s example is both inspiring and memorable.
There’s also an interesting section on psychological warfare for high-stakes negotiations. Not sure I’m down with the theatrics, but successful people sharing their hacks is what this book is all about.
Check out the whole Schwarzenegger episode of The Tim Ferriss Show here.
Listen to the full Chris Sacca episode here.
Derek Sivers (p. 184)
Author Derek Sivers doesn’t just inspire Ferriss, but is largely the inspiration of yours truly, having read, reviewed, and ranked over 200 books on his own site.
Talking to Ferriss, Sivers told one of those memorable KISS stories (keep it simple), which is a really important thing to keep focused and motivated, especially for someone’s first time in business. For CD Baby, he simply walked down the street and asked a local music shop about their model, and adopted it.
Then, when deciding on a set-up fee, he maximized his revenue by realizing the difference between $25 and $35 isn’t much money — at least not enough to dissuade someone from moving forward — plus it gave him wiggle room for discounts. It was a good idea that persisted for a decade before he sold CD Baby.
You can check out the Sivers episode here.
Tony Robbins (p. 210)
Tony was a staple in my household growing up. My father was a huge fan, and listened to tape after tape of Tony’s. It
Peter Thiel (p. 232)
Seth Godin (p. 237)
Scott Adams (p. 261)
Maria Papova (p. 406)
Shay Carl (p. 441)
Kevin Kelly (p. 470)
Cal Fussman (p. 497)
Eric Weinstein (p. 523)
Naval Ravikant (p. 546)
Rick Rubin (p. 502)
Glenn Beck (p. 553)
Josh Waitzkin (p. 577)
Jamie Foxx (p. 604)
Robert Rodriguez (p. 628)
Recurring Topics & Themes
- Experimentation (as related to health)
- Physical Exercise
- For Performance
- Physical Tools
- Therapeutic Modalities
- Medication (including psychedelics)
- Social Considerations
- Physiological Testing
- Disease Prevention
- Disease Cure
Interesting note: Many of the guests interviewed and summarized in this discuss their dislike of the phrase “fail fast,” which is a (misguided) notion of the goal of the startup in the “lean” school, which touts rapid iteration and pivoting to be keys to startup success (think Eric Ries and Steve Blank). But I’ve noticed a lack of “lean” names on the list of interviews.
Don’t go to college.
Go against the grain…smartly.
Memento mori – Remember you’re going to die. – Remembering that you’re merely mortal and will die, perhaps sooner than you think, is a perspective-giving tool.
No one has it all figured out. – Take others off the pedestal. No one has everything figured out.
Talk to people about things they don’t expect. – If you want meaningful and memorable experiences, try asking questions other people don’t ask.
Start in the middle. – It can be overwhelming to begin something new and formidable; start in the middle or at the end and work your way back to reduce overwhelm.
End on the good. – Focus on perfecting the ends of things – finish on a good or successful note – that’s what your brain and body will encode.
Books & Media
Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan
The Joy of Living by Mingyur Rinpoche
List of comedians to watch on Netflix (p. 482), because figuring out what to watch is always a big tricky for me:
- Bill Burr
- Sebastian Maniscalco
- Jerrod Carmichael
- Tig Notaro
- Chris D’Elia
- Neil Brennan
Tips & Tools
Colemak Keyboard, Way of Life App, First, Ten People, Kindness Meditation – Focusing on wishing happiness for three other people before sleep. (p. 157)
- Colemak Keyboard – Alternative to QWERTY; supposed to be faster and easier on the hands. (p. 205)
- Momentum – Chrome Extension (p. 205, but mentioned several places.)
- Journaling Problems for Sleep (p. 230)
- First, Ten People (p. 240)
- Triple Threat (p. 269)
- Balanced Goals (p. 273)
- Fifty Shades of Chicken (p. 275)
- Way of Life App (p. 342)
- Stone Soup (p. 372)
- The li.st App (p. 378)
- Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule (p.387)
When looking for a recipe on the interwebs, go with the one that gives all the details down “…to a quarter of an inch the size of the pan.” Because that person has “…gone through it.” Andrew Zimmern (p.540)
“Smell with your mouth open…” Richard Betts (p. 564)
List of journal prompts from Sheryl Strayed (p. 516)
Chade-Meng Tan (p. 153)
The Loving-Kindness Meditation
Last Updated: 7/1/2020
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