Tools of Titans

Note: In no way do I intend to use this site as a book review blog or anything like that. I simply found this book inspiring and I wanted to share. This is a great place to do so. Enjoy -RTS

I just finished Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. For those who are not familiar with Tim, he is known for a couple of books including the 4-Hour Workweek as well as his podcast, the Tim Ferriss Show.

Long story short, Tim has incredibly interesting guests on his podcast, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Tony Robbins. Frequent guests include chefs, artists, scientists and world-class athletes, founders, actors and so on. He has a great ability to find these guests and get them to share stories, feelings, philosophies, habits. heartbreak and inspiration.

Taking all of the incredible interviews he’s had over time, Ferriss injected the juicy, funny, life-enhancing quotes, and threw them in this book. It’s broken down into three themes: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise. 

Ferriss tells you, the reader, to jump around his 650+ page book. Taking his advice and knowing I’d forget some of the fantastic reads, I decided to record some of my favorite passages. They range from one-liners to entire quotes. I’d recommend doing a little research on who said each quote or just buy the book. Ferriss does a great job of giving background to each person on his show, but for the sake of brevity, I did not include those intros in this post.

My last recommendation is that you take time with each line or passage and think about how it can be applied to your work, life, relationships and happiness. You’ll surprise yourself and find ways to make today an absolutely incredible day. Then repeat.

Here are some beauties from Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss. Après Vous.

“Calm is contagious” – Pavel Tsatsouline

“Go first, say hello first. We are conditioned to opt out in this world, nobody goes first anymore.” – Gabby Reece

On the word, “pivot.”

…We do see companies that, literally, every time we meet them, they’ve pivoted. Every time, they’re off to something new, and it’s like watching a rabbit go through a maze or something. They’re ever going to put the time into actually figuring it out and getting it right.” – Marc Andreeson

What do you think of when you hear the word, “successful”?

“..Cincinnatus. He was an emperor in the Roman Empire. Cincinnati, the city, by the way, is named after him because he was a big idol of George Washington’s. He is a great example of success because he was asked to reluctantly step into power and become the emperor and to help because Rome was about to get annihilated by all the wars and battles. He was a farmer. Powerful guy. He went and took on the challenge, took over Rome, took over the army and won the war. After they won the war, he felt he’d done his mission and was asked to go back and be the emperor, and he gave the ring back and went back to farming. He didn’t only do this once. He did it twice. When they tried to overthrow the empire from within, they asked him back and he came back. He cleaned up the mess through great, great leadership. He had a tremendous leadership quality in bringing people together. And again, he gave the ring back and went back to farming.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

“A ship is safest at the harbor, but that’s not what it was built for.” – Albert Einstein (quoted, unfortunately not interviewed)    =)

On being able to write the narrative of your life.

“If a narrative isn’t working, well then, really, why are you using it? 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.” – Seth Godin

Suzuki versus Harley-Davidson, the latter of which has deliberately created an aspirational brand.

“No one gets a Suzuki tattoo. You can decide that you want to be tattoo-worthy.” – Seth Godin

On not doing what you’re qualified to do.

“Amateurs built the Arc, professionals built the Titanic.” – Dan Carlin

Holding the high standard.

“The order came on for [quail jelly], and I saw that they weren’t fully set up. I tried to float the langoustine cream on top anyway, and I sent them out to the pass knowing that they weren’t perfect. Those things came back like a boomerang. Heston (Blumenthal, The Fat Duck) just came around the corner holding them in his hand and just goes, “Chris,” He’s looking at me and he’s looking at the dish, and me and the dish and ..”not a chance.” Puts it back. I remember the lesson because he said, “We can do something else. If it’s not ready, we’re not going to send it out, and just hope they don’t notice that it’s not that good. We’ll fix it. We’ll do something else, but don’t try to slip by something that you know is below the standard. Hold the standard. Ask for help. Fix it. Do whatever’s necessary, but don’t cheat.” – Chris Young

As a leader, the fine line of insisting on a high standard and just being an overbearing asshole.

“The first thing is, on a good day, I will try and step back and say, ‘what context does this person even have, and have I provided appropriate context?’ Given all the context they had, maybe I would’ve made the same decision. Am I basically being unfair because I’m operating from a greater set of information?” – Chris Young

Unless someone has done their homework and is responsible, sometimes the best “no” is no reply.

“Guilt is interesting because guilt is the flip side of prestige, and they are horrible reasons to do things” – Maria Papova

What makes a good commander?

The immediate answer that comes to mind is ‘humility.‘ Because you’ve got to be humble and you’ve got to be coachable… Later, when I was running training we would fire a couple leaders from every SEAL team because they couldn’t lead. And 99.9% of the time it wasn’t a question of their ability to shoot a weapon, it wasn’t because they weren’t in good physical shape, it wasn’t because they were unsafe. It was almost always a question of their ability to listen, open their mind and see that, maybe, there’s a better way to do things. That is from a lack of humility… “We put these guys through very realistic and challenging training, to say the least…We put so much pressure on these guys and overwhelm them. a good leader would come back and say [something like one of the following], ‘I lost it, I didn’t control it. I didn’t do a good job, I didn’t see what was happening. I got too absorbed in this little tiny tactical situation that was right in front of me.’ Either they’d make those criticisms about themselves, or they’d ask ‘What did I do wrong?’ And when you told them, they’d nod their head, pull out their notebook and take notes. That right there, that’s a guy who’s going to make it, who’s going to get it right. The arrogant guys, who lacked humility, they couldn’t take criticism from others – and couldn’t even do an honest self-assessment because they thought they already knew everything. Stay humble or get humbled. – Jocko Willink

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” -Anais Nin

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

“The more you know what you really want and where you’re really going, the more what everybody else is doing starts to diminish. The moments where your own path is at its most ambiguous, [that’s when] the voices of others, the distracting chaos in which we live, the social media static start to loom large and become very threatening.”– Alain De Botton

“Out-of-control political correctness and online lynch mobs are the end of free speech. Fight it. The world we live in is becoming a horrible, “consensus reality.” Don’t run over the cliff.” -Eric Weinstein

On when to put away your moral compass.

“If you want to solve a problem, any problem you care enough about to want to solve – you almost certainly come to it with a whole lot of ideas about it. Ideas about why it’s an important problem, what it is that bothers you exactly, who the villains in the problem are, etc.. So if you’re an environmentalist, and you believe that one of the biggest tragedies of the last 100 years is people despoiling the environment, the minute you hear about an issue that kind of abuts the environment, whether it’s honeybee collapse or something having to do with air quality, your immediate moral position is, ‘Well, I know exactly what the cause of this is. It’s caused by people being stupid and careless and greedy’ and so on. Now that may be true, but it may also not be true. Our point is, if you try to approach every problem with your moral compass, first and foremost, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. You’re going to exclude a lot of possible good solutions. You’re going to assume you know a lot of things, when in fact you don’t. You’re not going to be a good partner in reaching a solution with other people who don’t happen to see the world the way you do.” – Stephen J Dubner

On advice he’d give his younger self.

“I would say it’s pretty simple: “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] everybody must be caring about what I do. And the fact is: Nobody gives a crap what I do.” – Stephen J Dubner

Just Go Around For Life.

“Lateral thinking or thematic thinking, the ability to take a lesson from one thing and transfer it to another, is one of the most important disciplines that any of us can cultivate. From a really young age, we [my wife and I] began to cultivate this [in our toddler son, Jack] around this principle of ‘go around.’ The first time, we were staying in a little cottage at Martha’s Vineyard in a big field, and he was trying to get in the one door. He couldn’t, but he could get in the other door, and I said, ‘Jack go around.’ He looked at me and he went around. Then ‘go around’ became language for us, in terms of solving puzzles and in terms of any time you run into an obstacle. Working with the metaphor of ‘go around’ opened up this way that we could have dialogue around connecting things – taking away a principle from one thing and applying it to something else – and we’ve had a lot of fun with that.”– Josh Waitzkin

Give discomfort its due.

Lean into discomfort, because I think these seemingly impossible problems that we have around race and homophobia and the environment, and just the lack of love sometimes, are not going o be solved in a comfortable way… So I guess my ask would be more of a big metaphysical ask: Give vulnerability a shot. Give discomfort its due. Because I think he or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest, but rises the fastest.” – Brené Brown

“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” – Tim Ferriss

The Analogy of 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 its 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?” – Newt Gingrich

“Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” – Unknown

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning how to dance in the rain.” [adapted from Vivian Greene] – Bryan Johnson