Tools of titans

This is a great book written by Tim Feriss, best known for his book The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich. In this book he questions successful people about their tactics, routines and habits. Most of them are really happy to share how they came to be. Throughout the book the author and his interviewees recommend tons of other good books. Some of them are list at the end of this post.

Book highlights and notes

“You’re not responsible for the hand of cards you were dealt. You’re responsible for maxing out what you were given.” Chris is incredibly smart about asking the “dumb” questions hiding in plain sight.


“I think authenticity is one of the most lacking things out there these days.”

I’m really, really into the slower thinking, breaking my automatic responses to the things in my life and slowly thinking through a more deliberate response instead.

The school has to organize its curricula around the lowest common denominator, so that almost no one is left out.

The problem is, when that occasional, ‘Oh my God, hell yeah!’ thing comes along, you don’t have enough time to give it the attention that you should, because you’ve said yes to too much other little, half-ass stuff, right?

TO BE CLEAR: Block out at 2 to 3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work. No phone calls or social media allowed.

Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.

Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.


Could bitching and moaning on paper for 5 minutes each morning change your life? As crazy as it seems, I believe the answer is yes.

“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.“

“How do you know if you have A-players on your project team? You know it if they don’t just accept the strategy you hand them. They should suggest modifications to the plan based on their closeness to the details.”

“The phone rings, and lots of people want a thing. If it doesn’t align with the thing that is your mission, and you say ‘yes,’ now [your mission is] their mission.

Of course, we can keep track of those things, but why? Why keep track of them? Are they making us better?

“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. Because kids aren’t stupid. If they get in trouble every time they try to solve an interesting problem, they’ll just go back to getting an A by memorizing what’s in the textbook. I spend an enormous amount of time with kids

‘I really don’t care how you did on your vocabulary test. I care about whether you have something to say.’

Commit, within financial reason, to action instead of theory. Learn to confront the challenges of the real world, rather than resort to the protective womb of academia. You can control most of the risks, and you can’t imagine the rewards.

“Losers have goals. Winners have systems.”

Fundamentally, “systems” could be thought of as asking yourself, “What persistent skills or relationships can I develop?” versus “What short-term goal can I achieve?”

“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. I was moving from a place with low odds (being an out-of-practice writer) to a place of good odds (a well-practiced writer with higher visibility).

And the book deal generated speaking requests that are embarrassingly lucrative.

B.J. Novak (here) has expressed something very similar. This bodily reaction—an involuntary half-chuckle, a rush of adrenaline, a surge of endorphins, a sharp change of emotions, etc.—can act as a metal detector for good material.

Diversification works in almost every area of your life to reduce your stress.”

I always advise young people to become good public speakers (top 25%). Anyone can do it with practice.

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.

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.

If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.

Everyone is interested in what’s new.

When you’re the first in a new category, promote the category. In essence, you have no competition. DEC told its prospects why they ought to buy a minicomputer, not a DEC minicomputer.

“Good content is the best SEO,” as Robert Scoble originally told me.

Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work.

”The biggest mistake you can make is to accept the norms of your time.’ Not accepting norms is where you innovate, whether it’s with technology, with books, with anything. So, not accepting the norm is the secret to really big success and changing the world.”

Freedom, because if you’re writing and you want to research something, you research something, and then you get stuck in the clickbait rabbit hole. What you can do is save all of the things you want to research, and just research them when that time expires. You’ll find it so much more efficient.”

Rather, it has always been a private choice within a society that is constantly urging us to do otherwise.

“I think of problems as gold mines. The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities.”

When possible, always give the money to charity, as it allows you to interact with people well above your pay grade.

Make commitments in a high-energy state so that you can’t back out when you’re in a low-energy state.

Life is short. Put another way: A long life is far from guaranteed. Nearly everyone dies before they’re ready.

To develop your edge initially, you learn to set priorities; to maintain your edge, you need to defend against the priorities of others.

On the Shortness of Life by Seneca.

“It’s not that I’m blocked. It’s that I don’t have enough research to write with power and knowledge about that topic. “You guys are programmed to succeed. The hardest thing you’re ever going to do in your life is fail at something, and if you don’t start failing at things, you will not live a full life.

“I would say to myself, ‘The public is not a threat.’ When you realize that we all need each other, and that we can all learn from each other, your stage fright goes away.”

The human nervous system is plastic in a very important way, which means your experience of the world can be radically transformed.”

We are essentially in a dream state, and it’s through this veil of thought that we go about our day and perceive our environment. But 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

‘Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.’

“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’” — Seneca

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” — Mark Twain

What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.

Once you’ve realized—and it requires a monthly or quarterly reminder—how independent your well-being is from having an excess of money, it becomes easier to take “risks” and say “no” to things that seem too lucrative to pass up.

“If something offends you, look inward…. That’s a sign that there’s something there.”

I would just assume everybody is doing the best they can with what they have, which is really hard for a lot of us to accept.”

I things that were basically considered to be impossible. That’s what makes the world a better place to live.”

unhelpful…. Ultimately, to be properly successful is to be at peace as well.”

“The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play. That’s why we have to destroy the present politico-economic system.”

When you’re not drinking, you can see drunkenness more clearly than those actually experiencing it.

And I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth is to spend it with people I love.

AIM FOR THE HEART, NOT THE HEAD “Lesson number one, when people ask me what [interviewing] tips would I give, is aim for the heart, not the head. Once you get the heart, you can go to the head. Once you get the heart and the head, then you’ll have a pathway to the soul.”

“What are some of the choices you’ve made that made you who you are?”

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”

It’s reassuring to know that someone at the top of their game—who has seemingly beaten all of the odds—still has the daily struggle.

Trust your reader. Understand that he or she can fill the empty spaces. Don’t over-explain.

“‘Honor those who seek the truth, beware of those who’ve found it’ [adapted from Voltaire]. A reminder that the path never ends and that absolutely nobody has this shit figured out.”

You want to be famous to 2,000 to 3,000 people you handpick.”

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” — Mark Twain.

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

Zero to One: knowing or believing something that the rest of the world thinks is nonsense.

Hallucinogenic elite, whether it’s billionaires, or Nobel laureates, or inventors and coders…. A lot of these people were using these agents either for creativity or to gain access to the things that are so difficult to get access to through therapy and other conventional means.”

“Life is too short to be petty and defensive and cruel to other people who are seeking to innovate alongside you.”

“You can always de-fuck the script later.”

#7—“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”—Epictetus

“Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.”

Anger is a hot coal that you hold in your hand while waiting to throw it at someone else (Buddhist saying). → If you can’t see yourself working with someone for life, don’t work with them for a day. → Reading (learning) is the ultimate meta-skill and can be traded for anything else. → All the real benefits in life come from compound interest. → Earn with your mind, not your time. →  99% of all effort is wasted. →  Total honesty at all times. It’s almost always possible to be honest and positive. →  Praise specifically, criticize generally (Warren Buffett). →  Truth is that which has predictive

Love is given, not received.

“Free education is abundant, all over the Internet. It’s the desire to learn that’s scarce.”

“If you don’t believe in an afterlife, then you [should realize] that this is such a short and precious life, it is really important that you don’t spend it being unhappy. There is no excuse for spending most of your life in misery. You’ve only got 70 years out of the 50 billion or however long the universe is going to be around.”

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.

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” — Thomas Jefferson

When Mara visits us, in the form of troubling emotions or fearsome stories, we can say, “I see you, Mara,” and clearly recognize the reality of craving and fear that lives in each human heart.

‘Look, Richard, if you work for the awards, you don’t do good work. But if you do good work, the awards will come.’”

I’m telling you, the best thing to do is give people questions they’re not expecting.”

Note:start a jar of awesome Once you don’t start at the beginning, your life just gets so much simpler.”

‘I don’t understand. Explain that to me.’

Note:ask questions the ‘spotlight effect,’ [as if] everybody must be caring about what I do. And the fact is: Nobody gives a crap what I do.”

Josh says: “I cultivate empty space as a way of life for the creative process.”

Ending the work day with very high quality, which for one thing means you’re internalizing quality overnight.”

“Oh, I think the little things are the big things. Because they’re a reflection. This may sound clichéd, but how you do anything is how you do everything.”

Because I think he or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest, but rises the fastest.”

(“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming….”).

“In that moment, what I realized is, you know what? I do want to live a brave life. I do want to live in the arena. And if you’re going to live in the arena, the only guarantee is you will get your ass kicked…. Daring greatly is being vulnerable. So when you ask yourself, ‘Did I dare greatly today?’

‘You Are a RCVR’ and ‘The Beginning of Infinity.’

Note:videos A lot of time was wasted, a lot of energy was wasted, being worried.”

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” —Mark Twain

“I totally understand if you’re too busy to reply, and thank you for reading this far,”

Perhaps I needed more time and mobility, not more income?

reading The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber and The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch,

Note:books People’s IQs seem to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them.

I heard one word repeatedly: blogs. They were apparently both very powerful and under-appreciated.

People don’t like being sold products, but we all like being told stories. Work on the latter.

“What if I could only subtract … ?” to my life in many areas, and I sometimes rephrase it as “What should I put on my not-to-do list?”

Four to 8 weeks (or more) doesn’t allow you to be a firefighter. It forces you to put systems and policies in place, ditch ad-hoc email-based triage, empower other people with rules and tools, separate the critical few from the trivial many, and otherwise create a machine that doesn’t require you behind the driver’s wheel 24/7.

Are you spending all your time and exhausting all your energy catching field mice?

“If you’ve got enough money to solve the problem, you don’t have the problem.”

“Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”

“What’s on the other side of fear?” His answer is always, “Nothing.”

This applies far outside of comedy or racial lines. It’s never been easier to be a “creator,” and it’s never been harder to stand out. Good isn’t good enough.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy in our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns.

Khaled Hosseini wrote The Kite Runner in the early mornings before working as a full-time doctor.

If it’s truly important, schedule it. As Paul might ask you, “Is that a dream or a goal?” If it isn’t on the calendar, it isn’t real.

Morning Pages by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way.

Note:book “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” —Mexican proverb


I’m not there to win; I’m there to learn, because then I’ll win, eventually….

The best you can do is just to get out of the way so it comes through.

I want people to hear those stories because when you feel like, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I’m doing it right. These other guys seem to know.’ No, they don’t know. None of them know. That’s the beauty of it. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward.”

Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

Note:book It’s really how you look at it, and the way you look at it is so important.

Note: attitude to failing “You must want to be a butterfly so badly, you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”

Referenced books