Review Notes from Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

As I read I like to highlight, mark up and take notes in the book I’m reading. After I’m done the book I’ll go back through it and transfer those notes into Evernote. Especially in a long book like Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss, transferring my notes gives me the opportunity to review the entire book again but it also puts the things that most stood out to me from the book into a place that is easy to search when I want to refer back to them.

Below are a copy of my notes from Tools of Titans. For a book of over 600 pages I really could have taken a lot more notes but these are the things that stood out to me the most and things I wanted to be able to remember. This book is filled with “the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers.” I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first ordered the book but I thought it was an interesting read and would recommend it to others. If you enjoy The Tim Ferriss Show, you’ll definitely enjoy the book. The people in this book are absolutely amazing.

Throughout these notes I’ve included links for the people that you may want to learn or read more about. Just click the person’s name or highlighted note and you’ll find more information there. To get your copy of Tools of Titans, click HERE.

Top Quotes

  • …you don’t have to wait to start something. So if you’re planning to do something with your life, if you have a 10-year plan of how to get there, you should ask: Why can’t you do it in 6 months? Peter Thiel pg 232 This was probably my most impactful quote in the entire book
  • When you’re thinking of how to make your business bigger, it’s tempting to try to think all the big thoughts, the world-changing, massive-action plans. But please know that it’s often the tiny details that really thrill someone enough to make them tell all their friends about you. — Derek Sivers pg 185
  • in business and in life — you don’t have to be on the extreme, but you have to ask for things, and you have to put yourself out there. — Noah Kagan pg 325
  • I now have a very simple metric I use: Are you working on something that can change the world? Yes or no? The answer for 99.99999% of people is no. I think we need to be training people on how to change the world. — Peter Diamandis pg 369
  • If you want to be tougher mentally, it is simple: Be Tougher. don’t meditate on it. — Jocko Willink pg 412
  • Often-times, everything you want is a mere inch outside of your comfort zone. Test it. — Bryan Johnson pg 609
What Makes These People Different?
  • “If you have a 10-year plan of how to get [somewhere], you should ask: Why can’t you do this in 6 months?”
  • You [have] the ability to renegotiate your reality all along.
  • while the world is gold mine, you need to go riffing in other people’s heads to unearth riches.
Just Remember Two Principles
  1. Success, however you define it, is achievable if you collect the right field-tested beliefs and habits.
  2. The superheroes you have in your mind (idols, icons, titans, billionaires, etc.) are nearly all walking flaws who’ve maximized 1 or 2 strengths. Humans are imperfect creatures. You don’t “succeed” because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them…. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. The heroes in this book are no different. Everyone struggles.
  • You’re not responsible for the hand of cards you were dealt. You’re responsible for maxing out what you were given.
Acroyoga – Thai and Fly
  • Tell people what you want, not what you don’t want, and keep it simple.
Deconstructing Sports and Skills with Questions
  • “The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life.” – Tony Robbins
  • when you’re a leader, people are going to mimic your behavior, at a minimum… It’s a guarantee. So here’s the key piece of advice, this is all he said: ‘Calm is contagious.’
  • Kids don’t do what you say. They do what they see. How you live your life is their example.
  • Is that a dream, or a goal? Because a dream is something you fantasize about that will probably never happen. A goal is something you set a plan for, work toward, and achieve.
  • Why would I be wound up? I’m either ready or I’m not. Worrying about it right now ain’t gonna change a damn thing. Right? Whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen. I’ve either done everything I can to be ready for this, or I haven’t.
5 Morning Rituals That Help Me Win the Day
…if you win the morning, you win the day.
  1. Make Your Bed (<3 minutes)
  2. Meditate (10 to 20 minutes)
  3. Do 5 to 10 reps of something (<1 minute)
  4. Prepare “Titanium Tea” (2 to 3 minutes)
  5. Morning Pages or 5-Minute Journal (5 to 10 Minutes)
  • If the pursuit of excellence was easy, everyone would do it.
  • The secret is to show up, do the work, and go home.
  • A blue collar work ethic married to indomitable will. It is literally that simple. Nothing interferes. Nothing can sway you from your purpose. Once the decision is made, simply refuse to budge. Refuse to compromise.
  • Accept that quality long-term results require quality long-term focus.
Chris Sacca pg 164
  • We get behind leaders who stir our feelings. In the early days of your venture, if you find someone diving too deep into the numbers, that means they are struggling to find a reason to deeply care about you.
Marc Andreessen Pg 170
  • Is your product any good if people won’t pay more for it?
  • Forward, like: We don’t stop. We don’t slow down. We don’t revisit past decisions. We don’t second guess.
  • “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin
  • Life can be 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.
  • My goal is not to fail fast. My goal is to succeed over the long run. They are not the same thing.
  • To do original work: It’s not necessary to know something nobody else knows. It is necessary to believe something few other people believe.
  • My confidence came from my vision… I am a big believer that if you have a very clear vision of where you want to go, then the rest of it is much easier.
  • I wasn’t there to compete. I was there to win.
  • It’s not what you know, it’s what you do consistently — Tony Robbins pg 210
  • When you’re earlier in your career, I think the best strategy is to just say ‘yes’ to everything. Every little gig. You just never know what are the lottery tickets.
  • don’t be a donkey. You can do everyone you want to do. You just need foresight and patience.
  • Even when everything is going terrible, and I have no reason to be confident, I just decide to be. — We are whatever we pretend to be.
  • When you’re thinking of how to make your business bigger, it’s tempting to try to think all the big thoughts, the world-changing, massive-action plans. But please know that it’s often the tiny details that really thrill someone enough to make them tell all their friends about you.
  • Investing in yourself is the most important investment you’’ 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.
  • “If you let your learning lead to knowledge, you become a fool. If you let your learning lead to action, you become wealthy.” — Jim Rohn
  • The reason you are suffering is you’re focused on yourself
Casey Neistat pg 217
  • TF: How can you make your bucket-list dreams pay for themselves by sharing them?… If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.
  • What is the ultimate quantification of success? For me, it’s not how much time you spend doing what you love. It’s how little time you spend doing what you hate.
  • Hope is not a strategy. Luck is not a factor. Fear is not an option.
  • Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious. — Thomas Edison
  • …you don’t have to wait to start something. So if you’re planning to do something with your life, if you have a 10-year plan of how to get there, you should ask: Why can’t you do it in 6 months?
  • What I prefer over trends is a sense of mission. that you are working on a unique problem that people are not solving elsewhere.
  • The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.
  • If you generate enough bad ideas, a few good ones tend to show up.
  • tell ten people, show ten people, share it with ten people; ten people who already trust you and already like you. If they don’t tell anybody else, it’s not that good and you should start over. If they do tell other people, you’re on your way.
  • Because the fact is, there are plenty of countries on Earth where there are people who are willing to be obedient and work harder for less money than us. So we cannot out-obedience the competition. Therefore, we have to out-lead or out-solve the other people… The way you teach your kids to solve interesting problems is to give them interesting problems to solve. And then, don’t criticize them when they fail.
The Law of Category pg 276
  • If you didn’t get into the prospect’s mind first, don’t give up hope. Find a new category you can be first in. It’s not as difficult as you might think.
  • in business and in life — you don’t have to be on the extreme, but you have to ask for things, and you have to put yourself out there.
  • for anything important, you don’t find time. It’s only real if it’s on the calendar.
  • ‘Likes’ don’t pay the bills. Sales do.
  • The biggest mistake you can make is to accept the norms of your time.
  • Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work — Chuck Close
  • Sometimes you need to stop doing things you love in order to nurture the one thing that matters most.
  • It’s not about ides, it’s about making ideas happen.
  • Truth is, young creative minds don’t need more ideas, they need to take more responsibility with the ideas they’ve already got.
How to Earn Your Freedom pg 362
  • The more we associate experience with cash value, the more we think that money is what we need to live. And the more we associate money with life, the more we convince ourselves that we’re too poor to buy our freedom.
  • I now have a very simple metric I use: Are you working on something that can change the world? Yes or no? The answer for 99.99999% of people is no. I think we need to be training people on how to change the world.
  • we’re here today having this conversation because I did not give up. I’ll leave it at that.
  • Money can always be regenerated. Time and reputation cannot.
    • Discipline equals freedom
    • Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have
    • If you want to be tougher mentally, it is simple: Be Tougher. don’t meditate on it.
    • If I have a problem, I’m going to handle them. I’m going to take care of them, and I’m not going to complain.
    • …being able to detach as a leader is critical.
    • I strongly suggest reading Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, great book!
  • How would you disrupt this plan or how would you defeat this plan?
  • …you should have a running list of three people that you’re always watching: someone senior to you that you want to emulate, a peer who you think is better at the job than you are and who you respect, and someone subordinate who’s doing the job you did — one, two, or three years ago — better than you did it.
  • You can tell the true character of a man by how his dog and his kids react to him
  • What you should have in your mind is a picture of controlled chaos.
  • To not do something because you might get injured is a terrible reason not to do something.
  • Why do we teach girls that it’s cute to be scared?… By cautioning girls away from these experiences, we are not protecting them. We are woefully under-preparing them for life.
My Favorite Thought Exercise: Fear-Setting
  • Risks weren’t that scary once you took them.
  • What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do…. a person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.
  • Memento mori — remember that you’re gong to die. It’s a great way to remember to live.
  • To me, success is you make your own slot
Bryan Callen pg 483
  • I think you should try to slay dragons. I don’t care how big the opponent is. We read about and admire the people who did things that were basically considered to be impossible. That’s what makes the world a better place to live.
Rick Rubin pg 502
  • Learn from the greats, not your competition.
  • “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” — Mark Twain
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
  • When you’re told that something is impossible, is that the end of the conversation, or does that start a second dialogue in your mind, how to get around whoever it is that’s just told you that you can’t do something?
  • TF: “These ideas” = having a “secret” as described in Peter Thiel’s Zero to One: knowing or believing something that the rest of the world thinks is nonsense.
  • Very often it’s a question of being the first person to connect things that have never been connected before.
8 Tactics For Dealing With Haters
  1. It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.
  2. 10% of people will find a way to take anything personally. Expect it and treat it as math.
  3. When in doubt, starve it of oxygen.
  4. If you respond, don’t over-apologize
  5. You can’t reason someone out of soothing they didn’t reason themselves into.
  6. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity. You’ll avoid the tough decisions, and you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted. — Colin Powell
  7. If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid — Epictetus
    • To do anything remotely interesting, you need to train yourself to handle — or even enjoy — criticism
  8. Living well is the best revenge. — George Herbert
Rainn Wilson pg 543
  • dig deeper. We can make the world a better place. We can ask more of ourselves. We can do more for others. I think that our life is a journey… Dig deep on your journey and the world will benefit from it.
Naval Ravikant pg 548
  • If you want to be successful, surround yourself with people who are more successful than you are, but if you want to be happy, surround yourself with people who are less successful than you are.
  • There’s a theory that I call ‘the five chimps theory.’ In zoology, you can predict the mood and behavior patters of any chimp by which five chimps they hang out with the most. Choose your five chimps carefully.
  • Free education is abundant, all over the internet, it’s the desire to learn that’s scarce.
  • So the best advice I learned by mistake, and that is: Be willing to fail or succeed on who you really are. Don’t ever try to be anything else.
  • give people questions they’re not expecting
  • Write everything down because it’s all very fleeting
  • Once you don’t start at the beginning, your life just gets so much simpler.
  • TF: “The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing – fear – but it’s what you do with it that matters.” Cut D’Amato (Mike Tyson’s legendary first coach)
  • When I had the opportunity, did I choose courage over comfort?
  • If I’m not a little bit nauseous when I’m done, I probably didn’t show up like I should have shown up.
  • Be clear that your ladder is leaning against the right building.
Testing The “Impossible”: 17 Questions That Changed My Life pg 594
  1. What if I did the opposite for 48 hours?
  2. What do I spend a silly amount of money on? How might I scratch my own itch?
  3. What would I do/have/be if I had $10 million? What’s my real TMI?
  4. What are the worst things that could happen? Could I get back here?
  5. If I could only work 2 hours per week on my business, what would I do?
  6. What if I let them make decisions up to $100? $500? $1,000?
    1. To get huge, good things done, you need to be okay with letting the small, bad things happen.
    2. People’s IQs seem to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them.
  7. Whats the least crowded channel?
  8. What if I couldn’t pitch my product directly?
    • People don’t like being sold products, but we all like being told stories. Work on the latter.
  9. What if I created my own real-world MBA?
  10. Do I need to make it back the way I lost it?
  11. What if I could only subtract to solve problems?
  12. What might I put in place to allow me to go off the grid for 4 to 8 weeks, with no phone or email?
  13. Am I hunting antelope or field mice?
    • The analogy of the field mice and the antelope. A lion is fully capable of capturing, killing, and eating a field mouse. But it turns out that the energy required to do so exceeds the caloric content of the mouse itself. So a lion that spent it’s day hunting and eating field mice would slowly starve to death. A lion can’t live on field mice. A lion needs antelope. Antelope are big animals. They take more speed and strength to capture and kill, and once killed, they provide a feast for the lion and her pride. A lion can live a long and happy life on a diet of antelope. The distinction is important  Are you spending all your time and exhausting all your energy catching field mice? In the short term it might give you a nice, rewarding feeling. But in the long run you’re going to die. So ask yourself at the end of the day, “Did I spend today chasing mice or hunting antelope?”
    • Another way I often approach this is to look at my do-do list and ask: “Which one of these, if done, would render all the rest either easier or completely irrelevant?’
  14. Could it be that everything is fine and complete as is?
  15. What would this look like if it were easy?
  16. How can I throw money at this problem? How can I “waste” money to improve the quality of my life?
    • If you’ve got enough money to solve the problem, you don’t have the problem
  17. No hurry, no pause.
  • If the answer isn’t simple, it’s probably not the right answer.
  • entrepreneurs have the ability to author their lives with companies.
  • What can you do that will be remembered in 200 to 400 years?
  • I have a lot of conversations with people who want to start their own thing, and one of my favorite questions to ask is, ‘Is this an itch, or is it burning?’ If it is just an itch, it is not sufficient. It gets to this point of how badly you really want it. For me, I burned to boats. there was no  way I was going to get a job. Failure was never an option. I had to make this work.
  • Life is not waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning how to dance in the rain.
  • Often-times, everything you want is a mere inch outside of your comfort zone. Test it.
Brian Koppelman pg 613
  • If it’s truly important, schedule it.
  • Is that a dream or a goal? If it isn’t on the calendar, it isn’t real.
  • It’s good not to follow the herd. Go the other way. If everyone’s going that way, you go this other way. You’re gonna stumble, but you’re also gonna stumble upon an idea no one came up with…
  • Try to look bigger…
  • You can go back and you can look at it and go, ‘oh, that wasn’t a failure. That was a key moment of my development that I needed to take, and I can trust my instinct. I really can.’
“Good” – by Jacko Willink pg 640 (Jacko Willink profile pg 412)
  • When things are going bad, don’t get all bummed out, don’t get startled, don’t get frustrated. No. Just look at the issue and say. “Good.”
  • Accept reality, but focus on the solution. Take that issue, take that setback, take that problem, and turn it into something good. Go forward. And, if you are part of a team, that attitude will spread throughout.
The Most-Gifted And Recommended Books of All Guests pg 650
  1. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
  2. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  3. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harai
  4. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  5. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss
  6. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
  7. Dune by Frank Herbert
  8. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition by Robert Cialdini
  9. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
  10. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom
  11. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) by Richard P Feynman
  12. The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman by Tim Ferriss
  13. The Bible
  14. The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
  15. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
  16. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  17. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel with Black Masters.
Many of these top 17 books are some that I have already read. But for those that I have not, they are next on my list. If you’re interested in any of them click on their title above or join Audible to have the opportunity to listen to them during your commute, while you exercise or any other time. Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Published by D. Jeff Heggie

Father, Husband, Coach & Entrepreneur

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