Tim Ferriss, Tools of Titans

A massive compendium: more a workbook than a book. Best-selling author, angel investor, and host of a top iTunes podcast (The Tim Ferriss Show with over 70 million downloads (!!)), Tim Ferriss has compressed the best of his 150+ interviews with “billionaires, icons, and world-class performers”.

The book is divided into three sections – healthy, wealthy, and wise – with profiles on podcast guests: Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wrote the brilliant introduction; entertainer Jamie Foxx; former JSOC commander General Stanley McChrystal (ret.), to name a few. Interspersed among the profiles are his personal summaries of collective practices, such as meditation (over 80% of his podcast guests), a guide to angel investing, and daily rituals.

His project? To deconstruct world-class performance and the tools that catapulted them there. One interesting insight: Several of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs portrayed in the book do not believe in “fail forward fast” (p 171: “We didn’t have a fancy word for it. We just called it a f***-up.”). On the up side, Mr Ferriss has tried and vetted each technique he mentions on himself. On the downside, although he is careful to point out that he is not promoting “productivity positivism”, the detailed descriptions of rituals do reek of a halo effect: “Do this thing or buy that thing and become as successful as X.”   

Overall, this book offers every reader something of interest from start-ups and fitness to leadership and meditation. A must-read for anyone interested in a fascinating compendium of high-level performers opening up to their personal habits and foibles.