7 Uncommon Tips From Tools of Titans
Do you recognize the man in the photo?
You might be familiar with his 4-hour guides to the workweek, your body and even accelerated learning (4-hour chef).
If you’ve heard of the books, you may also be familiar with his podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show.
Never listened to a podcast before? Or at least any of his 212 episodes? You’re in luck! Tim recently compiled a massive, 673-page book of the highlights of over 100 of his favorite interviews.
If you were to get the cliff notes version from each of those episodes that is essentially what Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers boils down to.
The book is truly and invaluable resource of insight and inspiration from some of the most successful people on the planet.
After a first pass at the book, I picked 7 of my favorites.
Whitney Cummings – Comedian and co-creator of NBC show “2 Broke Girls”
“As soon as you get on stage, you need to address what the audience is already thinking.”
Of course, Whitney is speaking literally but I translate this into do the hard things first. Or alternatively, address the elephant in the room first. This could be the objection or concern you know your client isn’t bringing up. It could even be a process that everyone knows is clearly broken and not working any longer.
Interestingly enough, after all his interviews Tim comments in this section saying “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have”.
Seth Godin – World Famous Author, Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Public Speaker
“Stories let us lie to ourselves and those lies satisfy our desires”
This whole book is worth buying just for Seth’s section. Have you created a narrative around why things don’t need to change or why you shouldn’t take on any additional risk/ continue to chase your original goal?
Unexpectedly, one of my biggest takeaways was his comments on parenting.
Seth believes we need to teach kids/people two things:
1. How to lead
2. How to solve interesting problems.
“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.”
Peter Diamandis – Founder and Chairman of the X Prize Foundation
“A problem is a terrible thing to waste”
Peter is commonly introduced as being a force of nature and probably the last person you’d want to tell “not possible” or “can’t be done”. In fact, he is famous for asking hypothetical questions to entrepreneurs about what is stopping from hitting their goals in 1/10 the time. He will flat out keep rejecting answers for hours until getting to the root of the problem.
This is also a common question from Peter Thiel, “what’s stopping you hitting your 10-year goal in the next six months?”
Chris Sacca – Billionaire Venture Capitalist
“Experience often deeply embeds the assumptions that need to be questioned in the first place.”
This is a common thread through a lot of the interviews. Even Malcolm Gladwell credits his father for being completely egoless when it came to asking questions and wanting to understand even the most basic things that were outside his grasp.
Have you taken an outside perspective at your business recently and asked those obvious questions?
Bryan Johnson – Founder of Kernel, OS Fund & Braintree
“Challenge all assumptions”
Bryan is the ultimate practitioner of the group. Having started numerous successful companies he’s a testament to the humility required to asking “dumb” questions.
He uses the example of 5 monkeys to make his point of challenging assumptions. If you haven’t heard of the experiment, there are a bunch of bananas at the top of a ladder but every time a monkey goes to climb a ladder they get sprayed with water. Throughout the experiment they remove the monkeys one by one until none of the monkeys in the room have actually witnessed someone being sprayed yet they still hold the others back from climbing the ladder.
Have you reached an invisible ceiling?
Brene Brown – American scholar, Author, and Public Speaker
“The big quesiton I ask is, when I had the opportunity did I choose courage over comfort?”
I think everyone struggles with this to some extent. Another common theme throughout the book is the awareness of this discomfort and the ability to use that as a signal to know it’s the right path.
Phil Libin – Investor & Former CEO of Evernote
“Follow the Rule of 3 & 10”
This might be one of the most tactical pieces of advice I read in the book. Phil follows Hiroshi Mikitani, the founder and CEO of Rakuten, very closely as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in China. Hiroshi came up with this rule that means everything in your company will break every time you triple in size or reach a new power of 10.
From 1 to 3, 3 to 10, 10 to 30, 30 to 100. Each time he claims that everything will break from how you schedule meetings to how you do payroll and timecards. His insight is that too many businesses continue to use the processes of a 3 person company once they’ve reached 10 or 30 people.
Phil suggests you should constantly be thinking about reinventing the business and it’s processes around this rule.
That was only 7 examples. There are over 100 in the book! I’d recommend getting the hard copy. That way you can bookmark the most relevant conversations for you. Or, as Tim jokes, you can use it as a kettle bell or door stop.