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Tribe of Mentors

Tribe of Mentors could have been amazing, but Tim Ferriss phoned it in. Okay, he emailed it in.

He actually emailed a set of the same questions to hundreds of people, and then indiscriminately pasted all those answers together and published it as a book.

There is no rhyme or reason, and in fact, the imposition some of those interviewed felt was palpable in its pages.

To his credit, Ferriss tells you not to read the book straight through. To pick it up every now and then and peruse one or two of the interviews…

So, if that’s your thing — collecting ugly coffee table books the size of a small animal — you can buy it from my affiliate link below.

And by all means, come and tell me I’m wrong on Facebook! I’d love to banter.

Tribe of Mentors only scored 60% by The Rubric, which you can read in my Review below. Or find some shortcuts to the good stuff (okay, there were a couple gems) in my Notes.

Tribe of Mentors | Review

Tribe of Mentors Review by The Rubric

External Resources70%
In Total60%
Tribe of Mentors Review

Tribe of Mentors Review



In Tribe of Mentors, Tim Ferriss was not interviewing people for their arguments, just for their answers. I didn’t have high expectations of this section for this book. It’s not really advocating for any particular theme of answers, and if anything, it demonstrates the disparity of answers across those interviewed.

That said, independently of the Arguments, I assessed each and every interview based on subset of common questions asked throughout, and through that lens it scored a bit better at 81%.

Still, if reading interviews was like kissing, I had to kiss a lot of frogs to get to the princes and princesses in the tribe.

By The Rubric, Tribe of Mentors scored “It’s a Start” for arguments.



The problem with this is by my estimation, you only need to read 10% of the interviews to get 100% of the practicality to be had in this book.

The repetition of near identical answers was onerous to get through. Now, Tim doesn’t advocate for reading Tribe of Mentors straight through.

Still … I’d prefer 600+ pages of unique and valuable content rather than 450+ pages of good but repetitious content.

By The Rubric, Tribe of Mentors scored barely “Excellent” for practicality.



I actually began to resent Tim Ferriss for publishing this book. It was that painful.

Not any particular interview; the worst were actually the short answers where it seemed the person answering was rather annoyed at having been asked (apparently Tim can’t take a hint).

Seriously. The repetition in this book made it so thick and dense and anger-inspiring.

Again, Tim and I do not recommend reading this book straight through.

I’m just not sure I can recommend reading it at all. Stick to Tools of Titans; it’s a much better text.

By The Rubric, Tribe of Mentors scored “Bad” for enjoyability.



Two aspects of readability are organization and presentation; Tim failed on both counts. Hard.

There is no discernible organization of the interviews, and they’re just smushed between random quotations rather than any real thoughts or commentary by Tim Ferriss.

Tim sat this one out. He decided to do what was easy rather than what was good.

Technically, it’s a fairly easy read. It’s not that you’re going to stumble over difficult vocabulary or errors. He’s all good there.

But this text is not cohesive in the least, and that makes it a tough read.

By The Rubric, Tribe of Mentors scored “It’s a Start” for readability.

External Resources


I pre-ordered Tribe of Mentors in Kindle format, and anxiously anticipated its download at midnight…

Only to find that, like Tools of Titans before it, it was missing an index.

The index has since appeared in my Kindle version.

But since it wasn’t originally in the Kindle version, I assume it wasn’t in the original hard copy version, either.

And 2.5 years later, unlike the Tools of Titans, I can’t find an online version of the index.

This presents a problem, considering the lack of organization in the text. If you get a version of this book without the index, then it will be difficult to reference anything you read quickly and easily.

External Resources was not a section of The Rubric when I originally graded Tribe of Mentors; and for the most part, I’m leaving the original grades alone. But given the importance of the index and the likelihood that it will be missing for some people who buy this book, I thought it important for the oversight to be noted in the grade, bringing it down from 63% to 60% in total.

By The Rubric, Tribe of Mentors scored “Decent” for external resources.



There is no reason this book should be anything less than 85% on the total. You have a writer who is not trying to sell you anything really except his next book or listening in on his podcast so he can maintain his audience for advertising dollars.

Value for the sake of value.

Except that he failed to deliver value this time around.

By The Rubric, Tribe of Mentors scored “Excellent” for rhetoric.

In Total


Yikes! A Tim Ferriss text I didn’t like? And didn’t think was useful/valuable?

Eeek. It’s a cold day in hell.

Oh well.

I hope he’s tuning into the negative reviews so he can improve.

With a bit more work with this material, Tim could have made this book spectacular. He just didn’t.

On to the next book!

By The Rubric, Tribe of Mentors scored barely “Decent” in total.

Tribe of Mentors | Notes

Three Things

Update May 24, 2020

Out of the three things I chose from Tribe of Mentors, the one I followed up on was the audio book Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. Since that time, I’ve listened to the book more than three times, and I plan to do so again before starting a more formal course of study of Rosenberg’s method. You can check out my exploration of The Compassion Course here.

The three things I’m going to attempt to take from Tribe of Mentors and update you here are:

  • Self-Interview Tribe of Mentor’s Style
  • Nonviolent Communication Review
  • Review of Paul Stamets’ Host Defense MyCommunity Mushroom Complex

Raw Notes

I just finished the beast that is Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss (12/9/2017).

Needs More Tim

Earlier I wrote that it was a good thing that Tim didn’t interrupt with his thoughts in the profiles.

I’ve changed my mind.

I missed him and his voice in this book. A lot.

In fact, I think he’s confused.

I think he might interpret his fan base for his podcast as being a fan base for the people he interviews.

Instead of giving himself credit for being the person from which his fan base wants to hear, he’s mixed up and thinks we want to hear more from the people he encounters…

It’s not the case.

Tim brings something to each interview; to each interaction, and that’s what this fan craves.

Sure, if he interviews someone I know and love, I might be more inclined to give a listen to his podcast; but those of us who tune in over and over to hear the podcast without knowing the guests – those are his fans.

Don’t Take His Advice On Shortcuts – Easier Is Not The Way

I think he’s also confused himself about shortcuts. It’s only a shortcut if you arrive at the same destination.

What would this be like if it were easy is a question he wants you to ask…

But easier is better only when you achieve the same quality or don’t compromise so much of the quality/results that it impacts the value of the work.

By taking the easy way out with Tribe of Mentors, he compromised the value of the work. What had so much potential to be a GREAT book, turned into a really sad read.

Part of his shortcut is a few pages at the beginning telling people that they shouldn’t read it straight through. That they should consume it in bite-sized pieces over time.

That what one person would like to eliminate is another person’s reason for reading; so he didn’t edit it down.

But the point of reading this work from Tim’s desk is to see how he sculpted the material; and in this work, he refused to sculpt. He sat this one out all together.

Since he’s such a lover of quotations, I offer this one: “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” Blaise Pascal

So I wonder, what was the hurry, Tim?

And The Index?

Like Tools of Titans, Tribe of Mentors is a 600+ page book without an index. Maybe we’ll see an online version soon.

But unlike Tools of Titans, Tim didn’t even bother to cross reference or tie together the material; in fact, there’s no discernible organization to the profiles at all.

I’d have preferred to wait another year or two for a finished work if it were more Tim; if it were more of him in the pages themselves.

That said, if you follow his advice and buy this book to flip through occasionally, there were some damned good answers, and it won’t feel too repetitive or disorganized.

But be sure to dog-ear those pages! Because finding something later is going to be damned difficult and will require an internet connection (if he and his publisher do publish an online index).

Two Useful Shortcuts

If you’re just looking for the recommendations from the interviews of books and products less than $100, the most helpful thing I can do for you is give you the links to Tim’s affiliate play for each category:

The Formal Entreprising Review

And finally, you can check out the formal review of Tribe of Mentors by the rubric here.

Tribe of Mentors | Author

You can read all about Tim Ferriss in the Author section on the Tools of Titans page here.

Last Updated: 7/2/2020