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

Another classic from Tim Ferris. After the 4 hour work week, this is my second favorite book of his. He interviews 100+ people, from athletes, entrepreneurs and scientists, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Wim Hoff and Shaun White, asking them an array of pointed questions to unpack their habits and routines.

“I created this book, my ultimate notebook of high-leverage tools, for myself. It’s changed my life, and I hope the same for you.”

The book is split up into 3 parts, Wealthy, Healthy and Wise, along with a non-profile section where Tim shares his own tips and stories that couldn’t make it into any specific category. This is a real doorstopper of a book and one I pick back up every now and then when I’m looking for inspiration. There’s SO much in here that you kind of have to go back to it.

What I find most interesting is that everybody’s routines are so different. There are some ultra productive or successful people who you would think would have some insane, super organized routine. But they don’t. They just drink a cup of coffee, take a shower, and get started. Day by day they chip away at their goals. While they’ve all achieved extraordinary things compared to most people, their accomplishments are incremental. That’s what they all have in common. There are no ‘overnight successes.’

My favorite quotes:

Your 10 year plan in 6 months:

“If you have a 10-year plan of how to get [somewhere], you should ask: Why can’t you do this in 6 months?” For purposes of illustration here, I might reword that to: “What might you do to accomplish your 10-year goals in the next 6 months, if you had a gun against your head?”

Polyphasic sleep

Matt wrote the majority of the code for WordPress over a year of “polyphasic” sleep: roughly 4 hours of waking, followed by 20 to 30 minutes of sleep, repeated indefinitely. This is nicknamed the “Uberman” protocol. Why did he stop? “I got a girlfriend.”

Advice from Tony Robbins

Tony believes that, in a lowered emotional state, we only see the problems, not solutions. Let’s say you wake up feeling tired and overwhelmed. You sit down to brainstorm strategies to solve your issues, but it comes to naught, and you feel even worse afterward. This is because you started in a negative state, then attempted strategy but didn’t succeed (due to tunnel vision on the problems), and then likely told yourself self-defeating stories (e.g., “I always do this. Why am I so wound up I can’t even think straight?”). To fix this, he encourages you to “prime” your state first. The biochemistry will help you proactively tell yourself an enabling story. Only then do you think on strategy, as you’ll see the options instead of dead ends.

On the power of journaling

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.

Small first steps

FIRST STEPS. Remember, only the first step. Because you have no idea where that first step will take you. One of my favorite examples: Richard Branson didn’t like the service on airlines he was flying, so he had an idea: ‘I’m going to start a new airline.’ How the heck can a magazine publisher start an airline from scratch with no money? His first step: He called Boeing to see if they had an airplane he could lease. No idea is so big that you can’t take the first step. If the first step seems too hard, make it simpler. And don’t worry again if the idea is bad. This is all practice.” TF: If you can’t get 10 good ideas, get 20 ideas.

Advice from Scott Adams creator of the Dilbert comics

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. . . . At least one of the skills in your mixture should involve communication, either written or verbal. And it could be as simple as learning how to sell more effectively than 75% of the world. That’s one. Now add to that whatever your passion is, and you have two, because that’s the thing you’ll easily put enough energy into to reach the top 25%.

Hacks to make your faster

Increase the speed of your mouse/track pad. Go into Settings or System Preferences and double your current speed. This takes less than 30 seconds to do. Invest in the best router you can afford. Noah currently uses the
ASUS RT-AC87U Wireless-AC2400 dual band gigabit router. Kevin Rose (page 340) and others use Eero technology to improve WiFi throughout their homes.

Gmail tricks

Quick Gmail Trick Noah and I both use the Gmail “+” trick all the time. Let’s say your email address is After signing up for services or newsletters, how can you tell who’s sharing your email, or contain the damage if someone discovers your login email? Companies get hacked all the time. Just use + as cheap insurance. If you append + and a word to the beginning, messages will still get delivered to your inbox. Signing up for Instacart, for instance? You could use I use this, or benefit from it, on a daily basis.

Also I wanted to share the questions Tim asks himself once a year:

  1. Question 1: What if I did the opposite for 48 hours?
  2. Question 2: What do I spend a lot of money on? How might I scratch my own itch?
  3. Question 3: What would I do if I had $10 million? What’s my real target monthly income?
  4. Question 4: What are the worst things that could happen? Could I get back here?
  5. Question 5: If I could only work 2 hours per week on my business, what would I do?
  6. Question 6: What if I let them make decisions up to $100? $500? $1,000?
  7. Question 7: What’s the least crowded channel?
  8. Question 8: What if I couldn’t pitch my product directly?
  9. Question 9: What if I created my own real-world MBA?
  10. Question 10: Do I need to make it back the way I lose it?
  11. Question 11: What if I could only subtract to solve problems?
  12. Question 12: What might I put in place to allow me to go off the grid for 4 to 8 weeks, with no phone or email?
  13. Question 13: Am I hunting antelope or field mice?
  14. Question 14: Could it be that everything is fine and complete as is?
  15. Question 15: What would this look like if it were easy?
  16. Question 16: How can I throw money at this problem? How can I waste money to improve the quality of my life?
  17. Question 17: No hurry, no pause.

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performer-Notebook

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