A Tim Ferriss Experiment
Tools of Titans is Tim Ferriss’ opus of self improvement, with interviews with dozens of celebrities, billionaires, and icons you will immediately recognize. If you scan the table of contents, you might be pretty surprised. I know I was. I might have been a little slow on the draw, but I hadn’t heard of Tim Ferriss until I picked up Tools of Titans this year based on an Amazon recommendation. After I completed the tome, it seemed I couldn’t stop finding articles related to him, snippets of his podcasts blaring in coworkers’ offices, or youtube videos suggested for me based on my interests (thanks Google!).
First of all, a little about the format. The book is broken up into three sections: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. These are based off of one of Benjamin Franklin‘s maxims: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” This maxim was likely derived, however, from Aristotle, who said, “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” One of the reasons I personally love Ben Franklin was his ability to take old ideas and make them memorable for the masses. If you read the book, you’ll find a lot more examples of maxims like this.
Each section is broken up into small chapters, each with a different guru or public figure’s take on success, life, etc. However, the content was originally derived from Tim Ferriss’ very popular podcast. While some of the chapters were not helpful to me, I view the book as more of a reference source than a cohesive manuscript. The value I received from reading the sections that resonated with me far outweighed the banality of certain other sections. Of particular note to me were the chapters by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (and Arnold’s foreword to the book), Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel, Scott Adams, and Jocko Willink. The beauty of a book like this is that anyone who reads it will come away with their favorite sections. It really does have something for everybody.
In the book, Tim Ferriss typically asks the interviewee a few standard questions. He asks them what they think of when they hear the word ‘successful,’ and he asks them for their most gifted or recommended books. As an avid reader, I really appreciate book recommendations from people I respect and admire. Tim brilliantly laid out every recommendation from the dozens of interviews portrayed in the book in the appendix. My own reading list has now grown because of it! If you’re looking for a digital version of this list, look no further! I don’t usually highlight in books. To be honest I think it’s almost sacrilege. I did find myself highlighting the books and films on the appendix lists that I’ve read or seen. In the months since finishing the book I’ve found myself looking for excuses to do some additional reading.
Like me, Tim Ferriss fancies himself a polymath. What’s a polymath? A Polymath is a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning. He performs experiments to find life hacks, become a relative expert in a subject, or to pursue fascination. Additionally, Tools of Titans provides plenty of suggestions for the average person who wants to pursue a similar path. As a result, learning has never been as fun as it is today! With access to nearly unlimited books, Youtube videos, and more, you can learn just about anything relatively quickly. Finally, this gives us an insane advantage over our predecessors. It seems like the possibilities for future generations is limitless!
Whenever I play video games, one of the questions I ask myself is whether the game has replay value. If I’m going to spend $50 on a game, I want to make sure that once I beat it I can play through again without going mad. I do the same thing with books, though it’s less about the money.
Tools of Titans is a book I could read again. In fact, after completing the 52 books on my reading list this year I would likely find some new gems. Consequently, it may even be one I can read once a year going forward. Believe me, that’s high praise. The only other books that have met that standard, even for a while, are the Harry Potter books which I have read countless times. A good book, you can read twice. A great book, you lose track of how many times you’ve read it. I may reach that point here.
I can’t recommend Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans highly enough. While the full-length podcasts from which the book is derived are surely powerful, you get a great overview of many points of view in a relatively short time span by reading it. I found myself picking out my favorite chapters and listening to the whole podcasts. These could be as long as two hours long! By that notion alone, if you’re interested in the podcasts, reading the book can save you time. You can weed through snippets of the podcasts to determine which would be the most relevant to you!
Do yourself a favor and grab a copy. I guarantee you’ll read something that really changes your perspective on something. You might even find a new hero.