Tools of Titans – The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers

A while ago now, I read “The Four Hour Workweek” and posted a review, after that book had been voted by my Twitter followers as the one I must read. Reading that book made me interested in more of what the author, Tim Ferriss, had to offer, so I decided to get a copy of a more recent book – Tools of Titans. The book promises to be filled with the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers. And it does not disappoint. After all, don’t most of us want to know how the successful do what they do-any how we can apply those lessons in our own lives?

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Tools of Titans

If you’re a fan of the Tim Ferriss show (the podcast), you’ll know it’s not like any other podcast out there. 150 million episodes have been downloaded.  The best thing about the podcast is that it doesn’t follow a specific topic, or formula. Instead Tim talks to successful people in all different walks of life-athletes, relationship experts, Mr. Money Mustache, actors, politicians…the list goes on.

This book is essentially key points from the podcast, summarized by guest.

When I first got it (from the library of course), I was a bit intimidated at the size. Just like a titan, this book is a giant. It’s tall and thick, clocking in at over 700 pages. But as I dug in, the book was very, very readable. It isn’t written like a traditional book in chapters, or telling one long story, Instead it’s a collection of key points from his interviews with successful people from all walks of life – with each interview taking up only a few pages. It’s the perfect book to read in bits and pieces, and you can easily stop and pick back up at any point in the book.

Tim also encourages you to just skim through interviews on subjects that don’t interest you, or to pop in and out of different sections, so you’ll learn something new. And you will, indeed, learn a lot of new and amazing things.

The book is separated into three sections: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. The interviews that are found in each section are on that specific topic.

Personally, I mostly skimmed through the “healthy” section. Not that I’m not interested in being healthy, but it was a bit extreme for me. I’m more of a “let’s go on a nice walk/hike” kind of person and not an extreme exercise/coconut oil glugging/weight lifting kind of person. No problem, though, I could just skim these interviews. Plus I enjoy reading what others do, even if it’s not anything I’m going to do myself.

Tools of titans

Wealthy and Wise – My Favorite Sections

I have to say I absolutely loved these parts of the book, so if you’re like me and extreme health/exercise isn’t your cup of tea, don’t let that turn you off. This is actually one of the few books I wish I owned instead of got from the library. Perhaps I’ll put it on my Amazon wish list for my birthday.

I have a list sitting next to me of the key parts of the book that resonated with me, resources I want to check out, books I want to read, music I want to listen to, and videos I want to watch. All from this book.

The great part is that I bet your list would be different. Everyone will walk away with something different in this book that resonates with you.

What are the key concepts on my personal list? Here’s a sampling:

  • You only need to get 1,000 people – true fans. – to pay you $100 each in order to succeed and “cross the chasm” into the mainstream
  • You have to ask for things. You have to put yourself out there
  • Discipline equals freedom
  • Be famous to 2,000 to 3,000 people – not to everyone
  • Aim narrow – own your own category
  • The biggest mistake you can make is to accept the norms of your time

What’s on my list of things to check out? They include Seneca – specifically Letter 18 in Seneca’s moral letters to Lucilius Vol. 1, “On Festivals & Feasts”. In it, Seneca recommends an excellent tactic to use to ensure you’re grateful for and appreciative of the things you have in your life. An excerpt (bolding mine):

“I am so firmly determined, however, to test the constancy of your mind that, drawing from the teachings of great men, I shall give you also a lesson: 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?” …  Such is the course which those men[4] have followed who, in their imitation of poverty, have every month come almost to want, that they might never recoil from what they had so often rehearsed.

You need not suppose that I mean meals like Timon’s, or “paupers’ huts,”[5] or any other device which luxurious millionaires use to beguile the tedium of their lives. Let the pallet be a real one, and the coarse cloak; let the bread be hard and grimy. Endure all this for three or four days at a time, sometimes for more, so that it may be a test of yourself instead of a mere hobby. Then, I assure you, my dear Lucilius, you will leap for joy when filled with a pennyworth of food, and you will understand that a man’s peace of mind does not depend upon Fortune; for, even when angry she grants enough for our needs.

Also there’s Nicholas McCarthy – a one handed pianist.

Also I found a treasure trove of various books and blog posts, ranging from “The Artists’s Way” (a book that introduced a popular technique for writers called “Morning Pages”), to “The Day You Became a Better Writer“, to “Joy of Living“, “1000 True Fans“, and “The Effective Executive“, to name a few. There’s actually an entire Instagram account dedicated to the “Books of Titans” that covers all the books mentioned in this book (very meta!).

The Bottom Line – Pick Up This Book

For anyone looking to improve their life, pick up new tips, or be inspired, I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of this book. It’s something I’ll be putting on my Amazon wish list for my birthday, just so I can re-read it when I need some new ideas or inspiration.

Are you a Tim Ferriss fan? Any particular interviews from his podcast that you enjoy, or books he’s written that you’d recommend others check out? Let me know in the comments!

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10 thoughts on “Tools of Titans – The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers”

  1. Thanks for this review! I haven’t read this book yet but it sounds great. I particularly love an author who gives you permission to skip sections of his/her book that aren’t relevant to you. I feel the same way about his health sections–I’m not into all his mega-methods to lose weight and build muscle. I just like to run. But the wealth section sounds really fascinating–especially narrowing your niche and finding a few loyal followers. Will see if our library can get this for me!

  2. Thanks for reviewing this book! It’s actually in my queue of books I want to read. I’m definitely going to make sure I read it. I didn’t know it was so long. But it sounds like a great book you can take some time to read and go through.

    1. Yep, the great part about that format is that you can put it down anytime and pick it back up again later. Since each story is unique you don’t lose anything by start/stop reading

  3. Matt @ Optimize Your Life

    “This is actually one of the few books I wish I owned instead of got from the library. ”

    I had this same exact thought. I borrowed it from the library and I took a lot of notes, but it seems like a book that would have a lot of value in being able to pick it up at random intervals and read random sections. It seems like different pieces of advice would resonate at different points in life, and the notes that I took a few months ago would be very different from the notes I would take next week or next year.

  4. I love his podcasts. I only starting listening recently and just yesterday went back to one of Tim’s personal favorite episodes with Jamie Foxx. I also really liked Mr. Money Mustache’s eposide and it was my introduction to FIRE which then led me to you. 🙂

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