Tools of Titans

Tools of Titans Book Cover Tools of Titans
Tim Ferriss
Business & Economics
December 6, 2016

I am a fan of Tim Ferriss. I am a regular listener to his podcasts. I have read, annotated, post-it noted, and re-read all of his books. There is SO MUCH in this encyclopedia of self-improvement tips, tactics and strategies. This book covers EVERYTHING. Health, wealth, and wisdom. I like his books in hard cover. Some times the Kindle is not enough. Sometimes, I need that tactile experience.

Dominic D’Agostino
Magnesium daily. “Magnesium citrate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium glycinate . . . When I started the ketogenic diet, I started getting cramps. Now that I’m supplementing, I don’t get any cramps. . . . If I had one go-to magnesium, it would be this magnesium citrate powder called Natural Calm.”

Patrick Arnold
Metformin for Life Extension Both Patrick Arnold and his frequent collaborator, Dominic D’Agostino, PhD (page 21), are interested in metformin, which is not their creation. Dom considers it the most promising of the anti-aging drugs from a scientific standpoint, and I would estimate that a dozen of the people in this book use it.

Joe De Sena
Joe, like Jocko [Willink, page 412], believes that you shouldn’t need caffeine or alcohol. He also thinks, “You should sweat like you’re being chased by the police daily.”

As Tony Robbins would say, “The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life.”

Peter Attia
Going 16 hours without eating generally provides the right balance of autophagy (look it up) and anabolism (muscle building).
Peter is obsessed with many things, including watches (like the Omega Speedmaster Professional, Caliber 321, which has been around since the 1950s) and professional-grade car racing simulators.

5 Blood Tests Peter GENERALLY Recommends
APOE Genotype: “This informs my thinking on a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The gene is far from causal, meaning, having it does not cause AD, but it increases risk anywhere from a bit to a lot, depending on which variant you have and how many copies you have.

LDL Particle Number via NMR (technology that can count the number of lipoproteins in the blood): the higher the number of these particles, the greater your risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Lp(a) (“L-P-little-A”) via NMR: “The Lp(a) particle is perhaps the most atherogenic particle in the body, and while it’s included in the total of LDL particle numbers, I want to know if somebody has an elevated Lp(a) particle number, because that, in and of itself, independent of the total LDL particle number, is an enormous predictor of risk. It’s something we have to act on, but we do so indirectly. In other words, diet and drugs don’t seem to have any effect on that number, so we pull the lever harder on other things.

IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor-1): “This is a pretty strong driver of cancer. Diet choices (e.g., ketogenic diet, caloric restriction, intermittent fasting) can help keep IGF-1 levels low, if such a strategy is warranted.”

4 Bullets to Dodge “If you’re over 40 and don’t smoke, there’s about a 70 to 80% chance you’ll die from one of four diseases: heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, cancer, or neurodegenerative disease.” “There are really two pieces to longevity. The first is delaying death as long as possible by delaying the onset of chronic disease (the ‘big four’ above). We call that the defensive play. The second is enhancing life, the offensive play. On that defensive play, there are basically four diseases that are going to kill you.

“If you remember nothing else, remember this: If you’re in your 40s or beyond and you care about living longer, which immediately puts you in a selection bias category, there’s an 80% chance you’re going to die of [one of] those four diseases.

“Success is: Do your kids remember you for being the best dad? Not the dad who gave them everything, but will they be able to tell you anything one day? Will they able to call you out of the blue, any day, no matter what? Are you the first person they want to ask for advice? And at the same time, can you hit it out of the park in whatever it is you decide to do, as a lawyer, as a doctor, as a stockbroker, as a whatever?”

Charles Poliquin
“The most important thing I’ve learned about nutrition is you need to deserve your carbs . . . to deserve [hundreds of kcal of carbs] post-exercise, you need to be sub-10% body fat.

“I’ve got some athletes who do best on 70% carbs, 20% protein, 10% fat. But they deserve their carbohydrates. They’ve got a great pancreas, they’re insulin-sensitive, blah, blah, blah, they’ve got a lot of muscle mass. But some athletes, they’re allowed 10 licks of a dried prune every 6 months. That’s all they deserve and that’s all they’ll get. And after 6 months, they’re actually allowed to look at calendar pictures of cakes once a week.”

Charles’s Typical Breakfast
For me, I either have meat, fish, or seafood and some nuts.”

Tests to Check Every 8 Weeks Charles recommends checking these biomarkers every 8 weeks: Morning (fasting) insulin Morning (fasting) glucose: “One thing I insist on is that they always [do this test] exactly 12 hours after the last bite. Why? Because I want pre- and post-measures that are valid. Your morning glucose could be all over the place because you fasted an extra 2 hours, and it’s not valid.”

Reactive insulin test: “I think the reactive insulin test is the most underrated test in health.” (Dr. Peter Attia also includes this as “OGTT (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test)” in his top 5 tests; see page 65 for more details.) HbA1c (usually read as “hemoglobin A1c”): “They say that, basically, you age at the rate you produce insulin. HbA1c will tell me what was the average insulin over the last 3 months. . . . I’ve found over the years that, actually, the amount of magnesium, supplemental magnesium, you consume, is the fastest way to drop that value. So magnesium is probably one of the best anti-aging minerals.”   More on Magnesium “I think the best magnesium out there is magnesium threonate, if I were to pick one. But I prefer taking different chelates. [TF: Dominic D’Agostino also takes magnesium; see page 30 for his thoughts.] So I use glycinate, I use orotate. If you look at the physiology behind it, and there’s a lot of good research that’s really easy to find, every form of magnesium tends to go to a specific tissue.
Personally, I take 2 g of magnesium threonate at the last meal before going to bed, and I use various forms of chelates like magnesium glycerophosphate from GabaMag [made by Trilogy Nutritional Supplements].”

The Slow-Carb Diet® Cheat Sheet Many people lose hope when trying to lose weight. Fortunately, it need not be complicated. Though I regularly fast and enter ketosis, the Slow-Carb Diet (SCD) has been my default diet for more than a decade. It works almost beyond belief and affects much more than appearance. From one reader: “I just wanted to sincerely thank Tim for taking the time to research and write The 4-Hour Body. My mom, in her late 60s, lost 45 pounds and got off her high blood pressure meds that she had been on for 20+ years. She did all this in about 3 months. This means that I get to have her around for a long time.” The basic rules are simple, all followed 6 days per week: Rule #1: Avoid “white” starchy carbohydrates (or those that can be white). This means all bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and grains (yes, including quinoa). If you have to ask, don’t eat it. Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again, especially for breakfast and lunch. Good news: You already do this. You’re just picking new default meals. If you want to keep it simple, split your plate into thirds: protein, veggies, and beans/legumes. Rule #3: Don’t drink calories. Exception: 1 to 2 glasses of dry red wine per night is allowed, although this can cause some peri-/post-menopausal women to plateau. Rule #4: Don’t eat fruit. (Fructose → glycerol phosphate → more body fat, more or less.) Avocado and tomatoes are allowed. Rule #5: Whenever possible, measure your progress in body fat percentage, NOT total pounds. The scale can deceive and derail you. For instance, it’s common to gain muscle while simultaneously losing fat on the SCD. That’s exactly what you want, but the scale number won’t move, and you will get frustrated. In place of the scale, I use DEXA scans, a BodyMetrix home ultrasound device, or calipers with a gym professional (I recommend the Jackson-Pollock 7-point method).

And then: Rule #6: Take one day off per week and go nuts. I choose and recommend Saturday. This is “cheat day,” which a lot of readers also call “Faturday.” For biochemical and psychological reasons, it’s important not to hold back. Some readers keep a “to-eat” list during the week, which reminds them that they’re only giving up vices for 6 days at a time.

Pavel Tsatsouline
Favorite Quote From Enter the Dragon: “Sparta, Rome, the knights of Europe, the samurai . . . worshipped strength. Because it is strength that makes all other values possible.”

“Calm Is Contagious” This is another of Pavel’s favorite quotes. Here is an elaboration from a speech by Rorke Denver, former Navy SEAL commander:
he told us that when you’re a leader, people are going to mimic your behavior, at a minimum. . . . It’s a guarantee. So here’s the key piece of advice, this is all he said: ‘Calm is contagious.’”

Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reece & Brian MacKenzie
Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales, which Laird calls “an incredible book about fear and dealing with fear.”

Practice Going First GABBY: “I always say that I’ll go first. . . . That means if I’m checking out at the store, I’ll say hello first. If I’m coming across somebody and make eye contact, I’ll smile first. [I wish] people would experiment with that in their life a little bit: Be first, because—not all times, but most times—it comes in your favor. The response is pretty amazing. . . . I was at the park the other day with the kids. Oh, my God. Hurricane Harbor [water park]. It’s like hell. There were these two women a little bit older than me. We couldn’t be more different, right? And I walked by them, and I just looked at them and smiled. The smile came to their face so instantly. They’re ready, but you have to go first, because now we’re being trained in this world [to opt out]—nobody’s going first anymore.”

TF: People are nicer than they look, but you have to go first. This made me think of a line from fictional character Raylan Givens in the TV series Justified: “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.” I will often write “GO FIRST” in my morning journal as a daily prompt. Side note: Derek Sivers (page 184) listened to this episode and Gabby’s “go first” principle was one of his favorite takeaways.

Note:This is one of my top take-always from this book

“A Lonely Place Is an Unmotivated Place” This line from Laird underscored everything I saw around him. He has a tightly bonded tribe around him, and scheduled group exercise appears to be the glue that keeps the group together.

Parenting Advice
GABBY: “We’re inclusive, and we treat them like adults. We’ve always spoken to them like adults. . . .
“As a parent, you have to learn to say sorry because you blew it. . . . Sometimes you can go, ‘Hey, you know what? I am extra tired today and my fuse is short. I am being unfair to you, and I’m sorry.’ You have to learn that you’re imperfect and open that door. . . . I always [ask] my girls, ‘Do you feel loved enough?’ . . . and they say, ‘Oh, come on, Mom.’ But I think you should ask. . . . “I tell my kids to learn how to say, ‘I’m sorry, that doesn’t work for me.’ I’ve learned a lot from being around men. I respect a lot of traits. You can deliver a message without emotion. Usually, women, in order to finally stand up for themselves, they have to kind of be ramped up, and then it just comes out ballistic, instead of, ‘No, that doesn’t work for me.’ And [I also teach them] not to then second guess [themselves] after they’ve laid that line down. I think that that’s really important. And if you have gifts and talents, whatever they are, don’t feel guilty and bad or weird about it. . . . “I always tell kids, ‘If you’re on the team, you’re lucky, and if you’re the best one, you’re the luckiest.’”

TF: By “more humility,” I took Brian to mean considering scary options with an open beginner’s mind. I’m

Advice for Your 30-Year-Old Self? GABBY: “Not to take anything personally, but also don’t hold yourself back. I think this is a trait of a female more than of a male. We have a tendency sometimes to sit on our talents and potential because we don’t want to offend anyone or be singled out.

James Fadiman
What Are Psychedelics? The word psychedelic (Greek for “mind-revealing”) is generally used to refer to compounds that can reliably separate you from your ego and occasion mystical or transcendental experiences.

“Most of the [36] volunteers looked back on their experience up to 14 months later and rated it as the most, or one of the five most, personally meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives.”

DMT – What Does It Feel Like?
For me, moderate to high dose of psilocybin with supervision serves as a hard reboot. It closes all the windows, “force quits” all the applications, flushes the cache, installs upgrades, and—when I’m back to “normal”—restores my 30,000-foot view. It removes the noise, giving me a crystal clear view of the most critical priorities and decisions.

Doses and Effects—From Niagara Falls to a Casual Stroll
400 mcg is where you have a transcendental or mystical experience. At this dose or higher, it is critical to have qualified supervision in the form of a guide. “Transcendental” here roughly means “the feeling or the awareness that you are connected not only to other people but to other things and to living systems.” More on this later.

Martin Polanco & Dan Engle
Sensory-deprivation tank. When possible, I now try to float twice per week—Monday and Friday. After 2 weeks, I feel like I normally would after a month of daily meditating, even if I’m not meditating.

It’s essentially like meditation on steroids. It starts to recalibrate the entire neuroendocrine system.

You see heart rate normalize, hypertension normalize, cortisol normalize. Pain starts to resolve. Metabolic issues start to resolve.

For pain, it’s normally 7 to 10 sessions. I recommend doing a 2-hour float if people are able.”

TF: According to Dan, most people get exponentially more benefit from a single 2-hour session than 2 separate 1-hour sessions. Nonetheless, 2-hour floats still make me fidgety, so I routinely do 1-hour sessions.

Keeping it simple, Dan suggests you start with 2 to 3 floats inside of 1 month. “I’ve never had anybody come back and say ‘Yeah, that didn’t work.’”
My suggestion is that you treat ayahuasca as if you are planning to have a brain tumor removed by a brain surgeon. Spiritually, this is effectively what you’re attempting.

5-MeO-DMT Martin uses 5-MeO-DMT with his patients after treating them with ibogaine and iboga. DMT is sometimes referred to as the “spirit molecule,” and its variant 5-MeO-DMT is called the “God molecule.” 5-MeO-DMT is found in the venom of a desert toad and is vaporized and inhaled (not taken orally; it’s toxic if ingested). It is a short 5- to 15-minute experience.

“DMT is found in ayahuasca, whereas the 5-MeO-DMT is naturally found in certain plants and in the venom of the Sonoran Desert toad (also known as the Colorado River toad), which lives in northern Mexico and southern Arizona.

Interestingly, 5-MeO is also shown to have anti-inflammatory, immune-regulating, and pain-reducing effects because of its action at the sigma-1 receptor. Our patients often report a reduction or elimination of pain as a result of their experience.

Spirit animal: Lion with three lotuses

Kelly Starrett
New York Times bestseller Becoming a Supple Leopard.

Kelly is a legitimate fantasy and sci-fi nerd. He knows Dune by Frank Herbert and The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson inside and out. For whatever reasons, many men in this book like precisely these two fiction books.

The Campfire Squat Test “If you can’t squat all the way down to the ground with your feet and knees together, then you are missing full hip and ankle range of motion.
“If you can’t breathe, you don’t know thy position.” In other words, if you can’t breathe in a given position, you haven’t mastered it.

The Top Mobilizations to Do Every Day
Everyone can benefit from something that looks like the cow stretch (also sometimes called “cat-camel” in yoga classes).

Spend as much time in a lunge as you can.

Sleep Hygiene Dark means DARK. “They’ve done studies where they shine a laser on the back of someone’s knee, and people pick it up. It’s light. You cannot have your phone in your room. You cannot have a TV in your room. It needs to be black, black as night.” Soft is the solution for bedding. “Today’s modern human needs to sleep on a soft mattress. Ideally, you would be sleeping in a hammock. You should be waking up in the morning feeling amazing without having to loosen up your lower back. Most athletes and people are extension-sensitive because of excessive sitting and extension-biased training (e.g., running, jumping, squatting). Sleeping on a hard bed actually puts you into extension, which is the exact opposite of what you want if you’re extension-sensitive.

Kelly’s Mattress Checklist The softest mattress you can get your hands on is ideal, but avoid those made solely of memory foam, as it locks you into extension. Lie on a bed at a mattress store for 5 minutes. If you have to cross your feet, your bed is too hard. [TF: Kelly found a Stearns and Foster model works well for him.] If you need to put a pillow under your legs to put you into flexion, then you need a softer bed. You should also focus on opening up hip extension.

Go-To Multivitamin The whole-food based Nutriforce WODPak (Nutriforce Sports).

Paul Levesque (Triple H)
Is That a Dream or a Goal?
“I’d never heard it said that way, but it stuck with me. So much so that I’ve said it to my kid now: ‘Is that a dream, or a goal? Because a dream is something you fantasize about that will probably never happen. A goal is something you set a plan for, work toward, and achieve. I always looked at my stuff that way.
“My work isn’t done tonight. My work was done 3 months ago, and I just have to show up.”

Jane McGonigal
What is something you believe that other people think is crazy?
Anything negative you say could at the very least ruin someone’s day, or worse, break someone’s heart, or simply change someone from being a future ally of yours to someone who will never forget that you were unkind or unfairly critical.

5 Tools for Faster and Better Sleep
Honey + ACV: My go-to tranquilizer beverage is simple: 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg brand) and 1 tablespoon honey, stirred into 1 cup of hot water. This was taught to me by the late and great Seth Roberts, PhD. Some of his readers also noticed large and immediate strength improvements in exercise after a few days of using this pre-bed cocktail.

Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea: If you’re trying to avoid sugar (honey), this is an alternative. The packaging of this tea is targeted toward women to a comical degree.

Recommendation here: Escape to River Cottage, Season One. I’ve watched this series multiple times. If you’ve ever fantasized about saying “Fuck it,” quitting your job, and going back to the land, buy this as a present for yourself.

5 Morning Rituals that Help Me Win the Day
A) read a few pages of stoicism, like Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, and B) control at least a few things you can control. I’ll elaborate. First, for A, here is one Marcus Aurelius quote on my refrigerator that often does the trick (bolding mine): “When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly.

B) control what you can control. No matter how shitty your day is, no matter how catastrophic it might become, you can make your bed. And that gives you the feeling, at least it gives me the feeling, even in a disastrous day, that I’ve held on to the cliff ledge by a fingernail and I haven’t fallen. There is at least one thing I’ve controlled, there is

#2—Meditate (10 to 20 minutes)

#3—Do 5 to 10 Reps of Something (<1 minute)

#4—Prepare “Titanium Tea” (this name was a joke, but it stuck) (2 to 3 minutes)
The below combo is excellent for cognition and fat loss, and I use about 1 flat teaspoon of each: Pu-erh aged black tea Dragon well green tea (or other green tea) Turmeric and ginger shavings (often also Rishi brand)
Add the hot water to your mixture and let it steep for 1 to 2 minutes.
Separately, add one of the following to your drinking mug: 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, which is about 60 to 70% MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) by weight or 1 scoop of Quest MCT Oil Powder, which will give the tea a creamy consistency.

#5—Morning Pages or 5-Minute Journal (5 to 10 minutes)

Mind Training 101
“We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.” —Archilochus

Listen to a guided meditation from Sam Harris (page 454) or Tara Brach (page 555). Maria Popova of (page 406) listens to the same recording every morning—Tara Brach’s Smile Guided Meditation recording from the summer of 2010.

Try one or more of Chade-Meng Tan’s suggested exercises, starting on page 154.

How Long Does It Take to See Results?
Commit to at least one 7-day cycle.

Three Tips from a Google Pioneer
2. Do Less Than You Can
The idea is to do less formal practice than you are capable of. For example, if you can sit in mindfulness for 5 minutes before it feels like a chore, then don’t sit for 5 minutes, just do 3 or 4 minutes, perhaps a few times a day. The reason is to keep the practice from becoming a burden. If mindfulness practice feels like a chore, it’s not sustainable.

3. Take One Breath a Day I may be the laziest mindfulness instructor in the world because I tell my students that all they need to commit to is one mindful breath a day. Just one. Breathe in and breathe out mindfully, and your commitment for the day is fulfilled. Everything else is a bonus.
This practice encourages you to arise an intention to do something kind and beneficial for yourself daily, and over time, that self-directed kindness becomes a valuable mental habit. When self-directed kindness is strong, mindfulness becomes easier.

My Two Favorite Exercises from Meng, in His Own Words 1. Just Note Gone There is a simple practice that can greatly enhance your ability to notice the absence of pain [whether physical, mental, or emotional], though it isn’t only concerned with pain. With “Just Note Gone” we train the mind to notice that something previously experienced is no more. For example, at the end of a breath, notice that the breath is over. Gone. As a sound fades away, notice when it is over. Gone. At the end of a thought, notice that the thought is over. Gone. At the end of an experience of emotion—joy, anger, sadness, or anything else—notice it is over. Gone. This practice is, without a doubt, one of the most important meditation practices of all time. Meditation master Shinzen Young said that if he were allowed to teach only one focus technique and no other, it would be this one. Here are the instructions for the informal practice of Just Note Gone, from Shinzen’s article “The Power of Gone.”

Coach Sommer—The Single Decision
Dealing with the temporary frustration of not making progress is an integral part of the path towards excellence. In fact, it is essential and something that every single elite athlete has had to learn to deal with. If the pursuit of excellence was easy, everyone would do it. In fact, this impatience in dealing with frustration is the primary reason that most people fail to achieve their goals. Unreasonable expectations timewise, resulting in unnecessary frustration, due to a perceived feeling of failure. Achieving the extraordinary is not a linear process. The secret is to show up, do the work, and go home.
And accept that quality long-term results require quality long-term focus. No emotion. No drama. No beating yourself up over small bumps in the road. Learn to enjoy and appreciate the process.

Are You Playing Offense or Defense?
“I wanted to go on offense. I wanted to have the time to focus, to learn the things I wanted to learn, to build what I wanted to build, and to really invest in relationships that I wanted to grow, rather than just doing a day of coffee after coffee after coffee.”

When the Going Gets Tough—“Tonight, I Will Be in My Bed.”
In 2009, Chris did a charity bicycle ride with the Trek Travel team from Santa Barbara, California, to Charleston, South Carolina: “I had a phrase I kept repeating in my head over and over again, which was, ‘Tonight, I will be in my bed. Tonight, I will be in my bed. Tonight, I will be in my bed.’ . . . It was something I repeated to remind me that the pain of what I was going through was temporary and that, no matter what, at the end of that day, I would be in my bed that night.”

The core of it was to be your unapologetically weird self. I think authenticity is one of the most lacking things out there these days.”

Marc Andreessen
Stress-Testing Ideas with a “Red Team”

If necessary, we create a ‘red team.’ We’ll formally create the countervailing force to argue the other side.”
TF: Where can you create a “red team” in your life to stress-test your most treasured beliefs? (See Samy Kamkar, page 427; Stan McChrystal, page 435; and Jocko Willink, page 412.)

“Forward, like: We don’t stop. We don’t slow down. We don’t revisit past decisions. We don’t second guess.

“My goal is not to fail fast. My goal is to succeed over the long run. They are not the same thing.”

“Andy Grove had the answer: For every metric, there should be another ‘paired’ metric that addresses adverse consequences of the first metric.”

“Show me an incumbent bigco failing to adapt to change, I’ll show you top execs paid huge cash compensation for quarterly and annual goals.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold is a huge chess fan and plays daily.
I Wasn’t There to Compete. I Was There to Win.”

I am a big believer that if you have a very clear vision of where you want to go, then the rest of it is much easier.

“Did You Hurt Your Knee?” And Other Psychological Warfare

Meditate for a Year, Get Benefits for Life?
“I went up there, took a class, and I went home after that and tried it. I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to give it a shot.’ I did 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night, and I would say within 14 days, 3 weeks, I got to the point where I could really disconnect my mind and stay and find a few seconds of this connection and rejuvenate the mind and learn how to focus more and to calm down. I saw the effect right away. I was much more calm about all of the challenges that were facing me. I continued doing that for a year. By that time, I felt that, ‘I think I have mastered this. I think that now I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore.’ “Even today, I still benefit from that because I don’t merge and bring things together and see everything as one big problem. I take them one challenge at a time.

Who do you think of when you hear the word “successful”?
“Cincinnatus. He was an emperor in the Roman Empire. Cincinnati, the city, by the way, is named after him because he was a big idol of George Washington’s. He is a great example of success because he was asked to reluctantly step into power and become the emperor and to help, because Rome was about to get annihilated by all the wars and battles. He was a farmer. Powerful guy. He went and took on the challenge, took over Rome, took over the army, and won the war. After they won the war, he felt he’d done his mission and was asked to go and be the emperor, and he gave the ring back and went back to farming. He didn’t only do this once. He did it twice. When they tried to overthrow the empire from within, they asked him back and he came back. He cleaned up the mess through great, great leadership. He had tremendous leadership quality in bringing people together. And again, he gave the ring back and went back to farming.”

Derek Sivers
Derek has read, reviewed, and rank-ordered 200+ books at

You both also taught me the value of ‘enough’ and contentment and appreciation, as well as achievement.” That made my week, and I hope this makes yours:

“How to thrive in an unknowable future? Choose the plan with the most options. The best plan is the one that lets you change your plans.”

TF: This is one of Derek’s “Directives,” which are his one-line rules for life, distilled from hundreds of books and decades of lessons learned. Others include “Be expensive” (see Marc Andreessen, page 170), “Expect disaster” (see Tony Robbins, page 210), and “Own as little as possible” (see Jason Nemer, page 46, and Kevin Kelly, page 470).

“This is the subject of the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. There’s the instant, unconscious, automatic thinking and then there’s the slower, conscious, rational, deliberate thinking. I’m really, really into the slower thinking, breaking my automatic responses to the things in my life and slowly thinking through a more deliberate response instead. Then for the things in life where an automatic response is useful, I can create a new one consciously.
When you’re earlier in your career, I think the best strategy is to just say ‘yes’ to everything. Every little gig. You just never know what are the lottery tickets.”

Once You Have Some Success—If It’s Not a “Hell, Yes!” It’s a “No”

“Busy” = Out of Control “Every time people contact me, they say, ‘Look, I know you must be incredibly busy . . .’ and I always think, ‘No, I’m not.’ Because I’m in control of my time. I’m on top of it. ‘Busy,’ to me, seems to imply ‘out of control.’ Like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so busy. I don’t have any time for this shit!’ To me, that sounds like a person who’s got no control over their life.” TF: Lack of time is lack of priorities. If I’m “busy,” it is because I’ve made choices that put me in that position, so I’ve forbidden myself to reply to “How are you?” with “Busy.” I have no right to complain. Instead, if I’m too busy, it’s a cue to reexamine my systems and rules.

[So,] for life, I think of all of this maximization—getting the maximum dollar out of everything, the maximum out of every second, the maximum out of every minute—you don’t need to stress about any of this stuff. Honestly, that’s been my approach ever since. I do things, but I stop before anything gets stressful. . . .

What’s something you believe that other people think is crazy?

I believe you shouldn’t start a business unless people are asking you to.

Alexis Ohanian
(See Amanda Palmer’s quote, “Take the pain and wear it like a shirt” on page 521.)

“Founders have to realize the bar is set so low because most companies stopped giving a fuck so long ago. . . . It’s something that I really expect other founders to do, and it ends up being pretty easy.

A Damn-Giving Assignment of Less Than 15 Minutes Improve a notification email from your business (e.g., subscription confirmation, order confirmation, whatever):
“Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)

Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen. Email is the mind-killer. Make a cup of tea (I like pu-erh) and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper. Write down the 3 to 5 things—and no more—that are making you the most anxious or uncomfortable.
For each item, ask yourself: “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?” “Will moving this forward make all the other to-dos unimportant or easier to knock off later?” Put another way: “What, if done, will make all of the rest easier or irrelevant?”
Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions. Block out at 2 to 3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow. TO BE CLEAR: Block out at 2 to 3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work. No phone calls or social media allowed. If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t freak out and downward-spiral; just gently come back to your ONE to-do. Congratulations! That’s it.

Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.

Matt Mullenweg
“You know something I can say, you asked about what we look for in candidates: clarity of writing. I think clarity of writing indicates clarity of thinking.” TF:

I highly recommend reading “The CEO of Automattic on Holding ‘Auditions’ to Build a Strong Team” from the April 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review (find it on

Words That Work Matt pays incredible attention to word choice and ordering (diction and syntax).

Tony Robbins
Is There a Quote That Guides Your Life? “It’s a belief: Life is always happening for us, not to us. It’s our job to find out where the benefit is. If we do, life is magnificent.”

“Losers react, leaders anticipate.”

“Mastery doesn’t come from an infographic. What you know doesn’t mean shit. What do you do consistently?”

Quality Questions Create a Quality Life

“The quality of your life is the quality of your questions.”

A Focus on “Me” = Suffering “This brain inside our heads is a 2 million-year-old

The reason you’re suffering is you’re focused on yourself.

Suffering comes from three thought patterns: loss, less, never.”
Then, I learned the dead simple “loving-kindness meditation” exercise from my friend Chade-Meng Tan (page 157), which had a profound effect after just 3 to 4 days. Try it.

State → Story → Strategy I learned this from my first Tony Robbins event, Unleash the Power Within (UPW), which Tony invited me to after our first podcast. Perhaps more than any other lesson from Tony, I’ve thought about this the most in the last year. If you were to look at my daily journal right now, you’d see that I’ve scribbled “STATE → STORY → STRATEGY” at the top of each page for the next several weeks. It’s a reminder to check the boxes in that order. 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.
“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.

“Priming” my state is often as simple as doing 5 to 10 push-ups or getting 20 minutes of sun exposure (see Rick Rubin, page 502).
He does 3 sets of 30 reps. His seated technique is similar to the rapid nasal “breath of fire” in yoga, but he adds in rapid overhead extension of the arms on the inhale, with the elbows dropping down the rib cage on the exhale.

Simply walk for a few minutes, using a breathing cycle of 4 short inhales through the nose, then 4 short exhales through the mouth.

Four Commonalities Across the Best Investors

Capping the downside: “Every single one of those [people] is obsessed with not losing money. I mean, a level of obsession that’s mind-boggling.” On Richard Branson: “His first question to every business is, ‘What’s the downside? And how do I protect against it?’

Casey Neistat
Casey’s favorite book is The Second World War by John Keegan.

When in doubt about your next creative project, follow your anger (see Whitney Cummings, page 477, and James Altucher, page 246).

Morgan Spurlock
The shirts have just three lines on them in huge font: hope is not a strategy. luck is not a factor. fear is not an option.

Peter Thiel
What do you think the future of education looks like? [TF: I include this mostly for the very first line and his reframe.] “I don’t like the word ‘education’ because it is such an extraordinary abstraction. I’m very much in favor of learning. I’m much more skeptical of credentialing or the abstraction called ‘education.’ So there are all of these granular questions like: What is it that we’re learning? Why are you learning it? Are you going to college because it’s a 4-year party? Is it a consumption decision? Is it an investment decision where you’re investing in your future? Is it insurance? Or is it a tournament where you’re just beating other people? And are elite universities really like Studio 54 where it’s like an exclusive nightclub? I think if we move beyond the education bubble that we’re living in today, the future will be one in which people can speak about these things more clearly.” (Listen to his entire riff on this in episode #28 at 17:24.)

James Altucher
The World Doesn’t Need Your Explanation. On Saying “No”: “I don’t give explanations anymore, and I’ll catch myself when I start giving explanations like ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t make it. I have a doctor’s appointment that day. I’m really sick. I broke my leg over the weekend’ or something. I just say, ‘I can’t do it. I hope everything is well.’”

How to Create a Real-World MBA
Compared to traditional VC, angel investing involves putting relatively small amounts of money—often from $10K to $50K—into early-stage startups. In Mike’s world, “early-stage” could mean two engineers with a prototype for a website, or it could mean a successful serial entrepreneur with a new

For the Tim Ferriss Fund, I would aim to intelligently spend $120K over 2 years on angel investing in $10K to $20K chunks, meaning 6 to 12 companies in total.

The most important characteristic of my personal MBA: I planned on “losing” $120K. I went into the Tim Ferriss Fund viewing the $120K as a sunk tuition cost, but expecting that the lessons learned and people met would be worth that $120K investment over

You have started and/or managed successful businesses in the past.

Following the Rules

If it has a single founder, the founder must be technical. Two technical co-founders are ideal.

Scott Adams
“Systems” Versus “Goals” Scott helped me refocus, to use his language, on “systems” instead of “goals.” This involves choosing projects and habits that, even if they result in “failures” in the eyes of the outside world, give you transferable skills or relationships. In other words, you choose options that allow you to inevitably “succeed” over time, as you build assets that carry over to subsequent projects.
Fundamentally, “systems” could be thought of as asking yourself, “What persistent skills or relationships can I develop?” versus “What short-term goal can I achieve?”

“Writing is a skill that requires practice. So the first part of my system involves practicing on a regular basis.
“She showed him four kings and he beat her hand, and he did it without even trying, and he did it with a method which is well understood. It’s a negotiating technique. You throw down an anchor, you divert everybody. Instead of becoming this sexist, which he could have been on day one, he became the straight talker.
always advise young people to become good public speakers (top 25%). Anyone can do it with practice. If you add that talent to any other, suddenly you’re the boss of the people who have only one skill.

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%. If you have an aptitude for a third skill, perhaps business or public speaking, develop that too.
constantly recommend that entrepreneurs read The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout, whether they are first-time founders or serial home-run hitters launching a new product.

If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.

Commodore was just another manufacturer of home personal computers that wasn’t going anywhere until it positioned the Amiga as the first multimedia computer.

When you launch a new product, the first question to ask yourself is not “How is this new product better than the competition?” but “First what?” In other words, what category is this new product first in?

How do I get people to prefer my brand? Forget the brand. Think categories. Prospects are on the defensive when it comes to brands. Everyone talks about why their brand is better. But prospects have an open mind when it comes to categories. Everyone is interested in what’s new. Few people are interested in what’s better.

Chase Jarvis
Amplify Your Strengths Rather Than Fix Your Weaknesses

Specialization Is for Insects (As Heinlein Would Say)* “I was told my whole career: You have to specialize, specialize. I ‘specialized’ in pursuing the things that interested me. I talked a lot about action sports, but then I also talked about fashion, break dancing, and all kinds of different cultural stuff.

Dan Carlin
Most of the great historians from the non-modern era didn’t have doctorates, either. They’re just storytellers, too. As long as I’m not purporting to be a historian, and as long as I’m using their work . . . I will tell you the [historical] controversy, and then I will say, ‘Here is what historian A says about it, and here’s what historian B says about it.’ I’ve been surprised how much the listeners like to hear about what’s called ‘historiography,’ which is the process of how history gets written and made and interpreted. They love hearing that! So you’ll actually talk about the different theories. I’m not making this stuff up. I’m using the experts to tell you a story.”

Ramit Sethi
Ramit convinced me to send plain-text email for my 5-Bullet Friday newsletter, which became one of the most powerful parts of my business within 6 months.

1,000 True Fans “[‘1,000 True Fans’ by Kevin Kelly]
give away 98% of my material for free and, then, many of my flagship courses are extremely expensive. In fact, 10 to 100 times what my competitors charge.”

In general, I split my content in a very binary fashion: free or ultra-premium.

Checklists Ramit and I are both obsessed with checklists and love a book by Atul Gawande titled The Checklist Manifesto. I have this book on a shelf in my living room, cover out, as a constant reminder. Atul Gawande is also one of Malcolm Gladwell’s (page 572) favorite innovators. Ramit builds checklists for as many business processes as possible, which he organizes using software called Basecamp. Google “entrepreneurial bus count” for a good article on why checklists can save your startup.

Jay Abraham is one of Daymond John’s (page 323) mentors and the author of Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got, which is one of Ramit’s most-gifted books.

1,000 True Fans—Revisited

I have recommended Kevin Kelly’s “1,000 True Fans” to literally millions of people. Many guests in this book have done the same. “If you only read one article on marketing, make it this one” is my common wording. Here’s a highly simplified synopsis: “Success” need not be complicated. Just start with making 1,000 people extremely, extremely happy.

Kevin’s original piece has grown outdated in a few places, so he was kind enough to write up a newer summary of core concepts for readers of this book.

Since I first read the original nearly 10 years ago, I’ve tested his concepts across dozens of businesses, many of which are now multi-billion-dollar companies. I’ve added some of my core learnings and recommendations at the end.

Enter Kevin

I first published this idea in 2008, when it was embryonic and ragged, and now, 8 years later, my original essay needs an update—by someone other than me. Here I’ll simply restate the core ideas, which I believe will be useful to anyone making things, or making things happen.—KK  

To be a successful creator, you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, clients, or fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only 1,000 true fans.

A true fan is defined as “a fan who will buy anything you produce.” These diehard fans will drive 200 miles to see you sing; they will buy the hardback and paperback and audio versions of your book; they will purchase your next figurine, sight unseen; they will pay for the “best-of” DVD version of your free YouTube channel; they will come to your chef’s table once a month; they will buy the superdeluxe reissued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name; they bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up; they come to your openings. They have you sign their copies; they buy the T-shirt, and the mug, and the hat; they can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

If you have roughly 1,000 fans like this (also known as superfans), you can make a living—if you are content to make a living, but not a fortune.

Here’s how the math works. You need to meet two criteria: First, you have to create enough each year that you can earn, on average, $100 profit from each true fan. That is easier to do in some arts and businesses than others, but it is a good creative challenge in every area because it is always easier and better to give your existing customers more, than it is to find new fans.

Second, you must have a direct relationship with your fans. That is, they must pay you directly. You get to keep all of their support, unlike the small percentage of their fees you might get from a music label, publisher, studio, retailer, or other intermediate. If you keep the full $100 from each true fan, then you need only 1,000 of them to earn $100K per year. That’s a living for most folks.

1,000 customers is a whole lot more feasible to aim for than a million fans. Millions of paying fans is just not a realistic goal to shoot for, especially when you are starting out. But 1,000 fans is doable. You might even be able to remember 1,000 names. If you added one new true fan per day, it’d only take a few years to gain 1,000. True fanship is doable. Pleasing a true fan is pleasurable and invigorating. It rewards the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that true fans appreciate.

The number 1,000 is not absolute. Its significance is in its rough order of magnitude— 3 orders less than a million. The actual number has to be adjusted for each person. If you are able to only earn $ 50 per year per true fan, then you need 2,000. (Likewise, if you can sell $ 200 per year, you need only 500 true fans.) Or you may need only $ 75K per year to live on, so you adjust downward. Or if you are a duet, or have a partner, then you need to multiply by 2 to get 2,000 fans, etc.

Another way to calculate the support of a true fan is to aim to get one day of their wages per year. Can you excite or please them sufficiently to earn what they make from one day’s labor? That’s a high bar, but not impossible for 1,000 people worldwide.

And of course, not every fan will be super. While the support of 1,000 true fans may be sufficient for a living, for every single true fan, you might have 2 or 3 regular fans. Think of concentric circles with true fans at the center and a wider circle of regular fans around them. These regular fans may buy your creations occasionally, or may have bought only once. But their ordinary purchases expand your total income. Perhaps they bring in an additional 50%. Still, you want to focus on the superfans because the enthusiasm of true fans can increase the patronage of regular fans. True fans are not only the direct source of your income, but also your chief marketing force for the ordinary fans.

Fans, customers, patrons have been around forever. What’s new here? A couple of things. While direct relationships with customers was the default mode in old times, the benefits of modern retailing meant that most creators in the last century did not have direct contact with consumers. Often even the publishers, studios, labels, and manufacturers did not have such crucial information as the names of their customers. For instance, despite being in business for hundreds of years, no New York book publisher knew the names of their core and dedicated readers. For previous creators, these intermediates (and there was often more than one) meant you need much larger audiences to have a success. With the advent of ubiquitous peer-to-peer communication and payment systems— also known as the web today— everyone has access to excellent tools that allow anyone to sell directly to anyone else in the world. So a creator in Bend, Oregon, can sell and deliver a song to someone in Kathmandu, Nepal, as easily as a New York record label (maybe even more easily). This new technology permits creators to maintain relationships so that the customer can become a fan, and so that the creator keeps the total amount of payment, which reduces the number of fans needed.

This new ability for the creator to retain the full price is revolutionary, but a second technological innovation amplifies that power further. A fundamental virtue of a peer-to-peer network (like the web) is that the most obscure node is only one click away from the most popular node. In other words, the most obscure, under-selling book, song, or idea is only one click away from the best-selling book, song, or idea. Early in the rise of the web, the large aggregators of content and products, such as eBay, Amazon, Netflix, etc., noticed that the total sales of *all* the lowest-selling obscure items would equal, or in some cases exceed, the sales of the few best-selling items. Chris Anderson (my successor at Wired) named this effect “the Long Tail,” for the visually graphed shape of the sales distribution curve: a low, nearly interminable line of items selling only a few copies per year that form a long “tail” for the abrupt vertical beast of a few bestsellers. But the area of the tail was as big as the head. With that insight, the aggregators had great incentive to encourage audiences to click on the obscure items. They invented recommendation engines and other algorithms to channel attention to the rare creations in the long tail. Even web search companies like Google, Bing, and Baidu found it in their interests to reward searchers with the obscure because they could sell ads in the long tail as well. The result was that the most obscure became less obscure.

If you live in any of the 2 million small towns on Earth, you might be the only one in your town to crave death metal music, or get turned on by whispering, or want a left-handed fishing reel. Before the web, you’d never have a way to satisfy that desire. You’d be alone in your fascination. But now, satisfaction is only one click away. Whatever your interests as a creator are, your 1,000 true fans are one click from you. As far as I can tell there is nothing— no product, no idea, no desire— without a fan base on the Internet. Everything made or thought of can interest at least one person in a million— it’s a low bar. Yet if even only one out of a million people were interested, that’s potentially 7,000 people on the planet. That means that any 1-in-a-million appeal can find 1,000 true fans. The trick is to practically find those fans, or, more accurately, to have them find you.

One of the many new innovations serving the true fan creator is crowdfunding. Having your fans finance your next product is genius. Win-win all around. There are about 2,000 different crowdfunding platforms worldwide, many of them specializing in specific fields: raising money for science experiments, bands, or documentaries. Each has its own requirements and a different funding model, in addition to specialized interests. Some platforms require “all-or-nothing” funding goals; others permit partial funding; some raise money for completed projects; some, like Patreon, fund ongoing projects. Patreon supporters might fund a monthly magazine, or a video series, or an artist’s salary. The most famous and largest crowdfunder is Kickstarter, which has raised $ 2.5 billion for more than 100,000 projects. The average number of supporters for a successful Kickstarter project is 241 funders— far less than 1,000. That means if you have 1,000 true fans, you can do a crowdfunding campaign, because by definition a true fan will become a Kickstarter funder. (Although the success of your campaign is dependent on what you ask of your fans).

The truth is that cultivating 1,000 true fans is time-consuming, sometimes nerve-wracking, and not for everyone. Done well (and why not do it well?) it can become another full-time job. At best, it will be a consuming and challenging part-time task that requires ongoing skills. There are many creators who don’t want to deal with fans, and honestly should not. They should just paint, or sew, or make music, and hire someone else to deal with their superfans. If that is you, and you add someone to deal with fans, a helper will skew your formula, increasing the number of fans you need, but that might be the best mix. If you go that far, then why not “subcontract” out dealing with fans to the middle people— the labels and studios and publishers and retailers? If they work for you, fine, but remember, in most cases they would be even worse at this than you would.

The mathematics of 1,000 true fans is not a binary choice. You don’t have to go this route to the exclusion of another. Many creators, including me, will use direct relations with superfans in addition to mainstream intermediaries. I have been published by several big-time New York publishers, I have self-published, and I have used Kickstarter to publish to my true fans. I chose each format depending on the content and my aim. But in every case, cultivating my true fans enriches the route I choose.

The takeaway: 1,000 true fans is an alternative path to success other than stardom. Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum bestseller hits, blockbusters, and celebrity status, you can aim for direct connection with 1,000 true fans. On your way, no matter how many fans you actually succeed in gaining, you’ll be surrounded not by faddish infatuation, but by genuine and true appreciation. It’s a much saner destiny to hope for. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there.


Alex Blumberg
Prompts to Elicit Stories (Most Interviewers Are Weak at This)

“Tell me about a time when . . .” “Tell me about the day [or moment or time] when . . .” “Tell me the story of . . . [how you came to major in X, how you met so-and-so, etc.]”

Ed Catmull
We All Begin with Suck

What we’ve found is that the first version always sucks. I don’t mean this because I’m self-effacing or that we’re modest about it. I mean it in the sense that they really do suck.”

Phil Libin
Mikitani on Necessary Reinvention—The Rule of 3 and 10

“His hypothesis is that everything breaks at roughly these points of 3 and 10 [multiples of 3 and powers of 10]. And by ‘everything,’ it means everything: how you handle payroll, how you schedule meetings, what kind of communications you use, how you do budgeting, who actually makes decisions. Every implicit and explicit part of the company just changes significantly when it triples.

Chris Young
Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon. Many guests in this book recommend both Snow Crash and The Diamond Age (Seth Godin, page 237, and Kelly Starrett, page 122).

“What interesting thing are you working on? Why is that interesting to you? What’s surprising about that? Is anybody else thinking about this?”

We’ll fix it. We’ll do something else, but don’t try to slip by something that you know is below the standard.’ You only need that lesson once. That wasn’t the standard, and you know what the standard is. Hold the standard. Ask for help. Fix it. Do whatever’s necessary. But don’t cheat.”

Daymond John
Sales cure all.”

“I don’t care if you’re my brother—if we go play football, I’m gonna try to crack your head open. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. It doesn’t mean that I don’t respect you.”

Most-gifted or recommended books?
Think and Grow Rich, Blue Ocean Strategy, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.

Noah Kagan
Facebook News Feed Eradicator: Need to focus? Save yourself from FB and your lesser self.

Don’t Try and Find Time. Schedule Time. On Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, Noah schedules nothing but “Learning.” This is a great reminder that, for anything important, you don’t find time. It’s only real if it’s on the calendar.

What is the worst advice you see or hear given in your trade or area of expertise? “That you should prioritize growing your social following (Instagram, FB, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube). Grow things that you can fully control that directly affect sales, like your email list. ‘Likes’ don’t pay the bills. Sales do.”

Remember Who You Are “Every time I left the house, my dad would always say, ‘Remember who you are.’ Now that I am a father, this is a very profound thing to me. At the time I was like, ‘Dad, what the hell? You’re so weird. Like I’m gonna forget who I am? What are you saying?’ Now, I’m like, ‘Gosh, that guy was kind of smart.’”

Luis von Ahn
The Value of “I Don’t Understand”

TF: This week, try experimenting with saying “I don’t understand. Can you explain that to me?” more often. (See Malcolm Gladwell’s mention of his father on page 573.)

The Canvas Strategy
If you want great mentors, you have to become a great mentee. If you want to lead, you have to first learn to follow.

Ryan Holiday (TW/FB/IG: @ryanholiday, calls it the “canvas strategy,” and he’s a master practitioner himself. A strategist and writer, Ryan dropped out of college at 19 to apprentice under Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, and became director of marketing for American Apparel at 21. His current company, Brass Check, has advised clients like Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as many best-selling authors. Holiday has written four books, most recently Ego Is the Enemy and The Obstacle Is the Way, which has developed a cult following among NFL coaches, world-class athletes, political leaders, and others around the world.

One of the roles was that of an anteambulo—literally meaning “one who clears the path.” An anteambulo proceeded in front of his patron anywhere they traveled in Rome, making way, communicating messages, and generally making the patron’s life easier. The famous epigrammist Martial fulfilled this role for many years, serving for a time under the patron Mela, a wealthy businessman and brother of the Stoic philosopher and political advisor Seneca.

As a result, his writing often drags with a hatred and bitterness about Rome’s upper crust, from which he believed he was cruelly shunted.
The better wording for the advice is this: Find canvases for other people to paint on. Be an anteambulo. Clear the path for the people above you and you will eventually create a path for yourself.

That’s the other effect of this attitude: It reduces your ego at a critical time in your career, letting you absorb everything you can without the obstructions that block others’ vision and progress. No one is endorsing sycophancy. Instead, it’s about seeing what goes on from the inside, and looking for opportunities for someone other than yourself.

Franklin was playing the long game, though—learning how public opinion worked, generating awareness of what he believed in, crafting his style and tone and wit. It was a strategy he used time and again over his career—once even publishing in his competitor’s paper in order to undermine a third competitor—for Franklin saw the constant benefit in making other people look good and letting them take credit for your ideas.

Kevin Rose
Hacking Blood Sugar Several months ago, I received a text from Kevin stating “I found the grail” with a screenshot of his Dexcom continuous glucose monitor showing his levels at 79mg/dL (which is healthily low) after consuming two beers, a pork chop with honey glaze, 4 slices of corn bread with honey and butter, and a side order of potato gnocchi.

What was the “grail”? 25 mg of acarbose (¼ pill) with food. He learned this trick from Peter Attia (page 59), who I introduced him to.

Justin Boreta
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”—Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955–1967

What is the worst advice you see or hear given in your trade or area of expertise? “There’s a lot of bad advice thrown around about getting inspired and searching for a revelation. Like Chuck Close says, ‘Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work.

How to Earn Your Freedom
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts (TW: @rolfpotts,
Sierra Club founder John Muir (an ur-vagabonder if there ever was one) used to express amazement at the well-heeled travelers who would visit Yosemite only to rush away after a few hours of sightseeing. Muir called these folks the “time-poor”—people who were so obsessed with tending their material wealth and social standing that they couldn’t spare the time to truly experience the splendor of California’s Sierra wilderness.

Peter Diamandis
Morning Routines
TF: Peter’s breathing exercise focuses on expanding the lungs with fast, large inhales. His affirmational mantra, which he repeats a number of times, is “I am joy. I am love. I am gratitude. I see, hear, feel, and know that the purpose of my life is to inspire and guide the transformation of humanity on and off the Earth.”

How to Find Your Driving Purpose or Mission
“What did you want to do when you were a child, before anybody told you what you were supposed to do? What was it you wanted to become? What did you want to do more than anything else?

B.J. Novak
If you find yourself saying, “But I’m making so much money” about a job or project, pay attention. “But I’m making so much money,” or “But I’m making good money” is a warning sign that you’re probably not on the right track or, at least, that you shouldn’t stay there for long. Money can always be regenerated. Time and reputation cannot.

When possible, always give the money to charity, as it allows you to interact with people well above your pay grade.

The Importance of the “Blue Sky” Period
For 2 to 4 weeks, the writers’ room banter was each person asking, “What if . . . ?” over and over again. Crazy scenarios were encouraged, not penalized. Every idea, no matter what, was valid during this period. The idea generation and filtering/editing stages were entirely separate. As B.J. explained, “To me, everything is idea and execution and, if you separate idea and execution, you don’t put too much pressure on either of them.”

Shoeboxes of Cahiers B.J. uses a Moleskine Cahier notebook for jotting notes down throughout the day. He likes it because it is much thinner than a standard Moleskine notebook, so it’s easier to carry around, and he has a feeling of accomplishment when he finishes one. He orders different colors, and he also buys huge batches of shape stickers. Any time he starts a new notebook, he writes his name and phone number on the first page and puts a sticker in the top left of the book, which lets him know which notebook he is currently using. He doesn’t date them, which can be problematic, but he feels the lack of dates aids the creative process in some capacity. He keeps the untranscribed notebooks in a white box, and he uses a red box for those he has already transcribed to his computer.

Favorite documentaries
To Be and to Have—“This is a beautiful and simple film about a one-room school in France, and what happens over the course of one year.”

How to Say “No” When It Matters Most

Those of you who often over-commit or feel too scattered may appreciate a new philosophy I’m trying: If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then I say no. Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!”—then my answer is no. When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say, “HELL YEAH!” We’re all busy. We’ve all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out.

One of my favorite time-management essays is “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule” by Paul Graham of Y Combinator fame. Give it a read. As investor Brad Feld and many others have observed, great creative work isn’t possible if you’re trying to piece together 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there. Large, uninterrupted blocks of time—3 to 5 hours minimum—create the space needed to find and connect the dots. And one block per week isn’t enough. There has to be enough slack in the system for multi-day, CPU-intensive synthesis. For me, this means at least 3 to 4 mornings per week where I am in “maker” mode until at least 1 p.m.

In practice, strictly making health #1 has real social and business ramifications. That’s a price I’ve realized I MUST be fine with paying, or I will lose weeks or months to sickness and fatigue. Making health #1 50% of the time doesn’t work. It’s absolutely all-or-nothing. If it’s #1 50% of the time, you’ll compromise precisely when it’s most important not to.

As Marcus Aurelius and Ryan Holiday (page 334) would say, “The obstacle is the way.” This doesn’t mean seeing problems, accepting them, and leaving them to fester. Nor does it mean rationalizing problems into good things. To me, it means using pain to find clarity. If pain is examined and not ignored, it can show you what to excise from your life. For me, step one is always the same: Write down the 20% of activities and people causing 80% or more of your negative emotions. My step two is doing a “fear-setting” exercise on paper (page 463), in which I ask and answer, “What is really the worst that could happen if I stopped doing what I’m considering? And so what? How could I undo any damage?”

BJ Miller
His 2015 TED talk, “What Really Matters at the End of Life,” was among the top 15 most viewed TED talks of 2015.

Then you start looking at the stars, and you realize that the light hitting your eye is ancient, [some of the] stars that you’re seeing, they no longer exist by the time that the light gets to

Maria Popova
Sometimes, the Best “No” Is No Reply

Don’t succumb to replying to everyone out of guilt. From Maria: “Guilt [is] interesting because guilt is the flip side of prestige, and they’re both horrible reasons to do things.”

What text do you refer to again and again? “Right now, and this answer might be different in another 9 years, the diaries of Henry David Thoreau. Speaking

There is just so much—and I mean so much—universal timeless truth in his private reflections, on everything from the best definition of success to the perils of sitting, which he wrote about 150 years before we started saying, ‘Sitting is the new smoking.’”

Note-Taking—Distilling the Gems
Maria and I have a nearly identical note-taking process for books: “I highlight in the Kindle app in the iPad, and then Amazon has this function where you can, basically, see your Kindle notes and highlights on the desktop of your computer. I copy them from that page and paste them into an Evernote file to have all of my notes on a specific book in one place. I also take a screen grab of a specific iPad Kindle page with my highlighted passage, and then email that screen grab into my Evernote email because Evernote has, as you know, optical character recognition. So, when I search within it, it’s also going to search the text in that image. I don’t have to wait until I finish the book to explore all my notes. . . . I love Evernote. I’ve been using it for many years, and I could probably not get through my day without it.”

Out of more than 4,600 articles on Brain Pickings, what are Maria’s starting recommendations? “The Shortness of Life: Seneca on Busyness and the Art of Living Wide Rather Than Living Long” “How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love”

What is the worst advice you see or hear given in your trade or area of expertise? “‘Follow your dreams.’ It’s impossible to do without self-knowledge, which takes years. You discover your ‘dream’ (or sense of purpose) in the very act of walking the path, which is guided by equal parts choice and chance.”

Jocko Willink
‘Discipline equals freedom.’”

“It also means that if you want freedom in life—be that financial freedom, more free time, or even freedom from sickness and poor health—you can only achieve these things through discipline.”

One of my favorite Franz Kafka quotes is related: “Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.” Where can you eliminate “single points of failure” in your life or business? Jocko adds, “And don’t just have backup gear—have a backup plan to handle likely contingencies.”

No, it’s actually your fault because you haven’t educated him, you haven’t influenced him, you haven’t explained to him in a manner he understands why you need this support that you need. That’s extreme ownership. Own it all.”

“I’m up and getting after it by 4:45.

This story has compelled so many listeners to start waking early that there is a #0445club hashtag on Twitter, featuring pictures of wristwatches.

What Makes a Good Commander? “The immediate answer that comes to mind is ‘humility.’ Because you’ve got to be humble, and you’ve got to be coachable.
It was almost always a question of their ability to listen, open their mind, and see that, maybe, there’s a better way to do things. That is from a lack of humility. . . .

‘What did I do wrong?’ And when you told them, they’d nod their head, pull out their notebook, and take notes. That right there, that’s a guy who’s going to make it, who’s going to get it right.

Stay humble or get humbled.”

that’s what you need to do: step back and observe.’ I realized that detaching yourself from the situation, so you can see what’s happening, is absolutely critical.

Sebastian Junger
If you don’t give young men a good and useful group to belong to, they will create a bad group to belong to. But one way or another, they’re going to create a group, and they’re going to find something, an adversary, where they can demonstrate their prowess and their unity.”

On Most “Writer’s Block” in NonFiction “It’s not that I’m blocked. It’s that I don’t have enough research to write with power and knowledge about that topic.

Marc Goodman
What is the worst advice you see or hear given in your trade or area of expertise? “If you have nothing to hide, then you don’t have to worry about privacy, and that we must sacrifice our privacy in order to have security.”

Tools of a Hacker
Tor is a free, cross-platform software that allows you to browse the Internet anonymously and helps you defend against network surveillance. It will help change your IP address each time you use it as well as encrypt your network communication, however the last “hop” in the chain of Tor will always be able to see your unencrypted traffic, though [it will] not be able to detect your IP address. I would trust Tor over any VPN service as no Tor node knows both your IP and what you’re accessing, unlike a VPN, which could be compelled to share that data.

Accessing Interesting Data and Controlling the Websites You Visit If a website is delivering images, video, or audio to your computer, that means in most cases you can download it directly, even if the site attempts to stop you. In Chrome (similar tools exist in Firefox and Safari), you can go to View → Developer → Developer Tools, click on the Network tab, refresh the page, and see all content going across. You can then right-click any file, such as an image that the site wouldn’t otherwise let you download, and click Copy Link Address to get the direct URL. The Elements tab is also particularly useful. [TF: You can also use this to easily copy and paste good quotes that some sites like to prevent you from copy and pasting.] Using the same Developer Tools, if a site is ever trying to force you to sign up, fill out a form you don’t want to fill out, or otherwise cover the page with obtrusive windows or darkening the page, you can use the Elements tab in the Developer Tools (mentioned above), right-click on any element in the tab, and click Remove. Don’t worry, if you remove the wrong thing, you can simply refresh the page and try again! You are only affecting the page on your own computer, but this can be a useful tool to adjust a page to your liking.

Google Reverse Image Search is a surprisingly useful tool if you’re ever trying to perform reconnaissance, or just learn where an image came from or where else it might be used on the Internet. Simply browse to Google Images and drag and drop the image onto the page.

General Stanley McChrystal & Chris Fussell
On Creating a “Red Team” STAN: “The concept of ‘red team’ is designed to test a plan. What happens is, as you develop a plan—you’ve got a problem and you develop a way to solve that problem—you fall in love with it. You start to dismiss the shortcomings of it, simply because, I think, that’s the way the mind works. . . .

Sometimes you’re actually skipping over real challenges to it, or vulnerabilities in it, because you just want it to work. As we describe it, sometimes a plan can end up being a string of miracles, and that’s not a real solid plan. So red teaming is: You take people who aren’t wedded to the plan and [ask them,] ‘How would you disrupt this plan or how would you defeat this plan?’ If you have a very thoughtful red team, you’ll produce stunning results.”

Everyone Says You’re Great, but . . . TIM: “I’ve heard stories of how you vet people for the McChrystal Group. And I’ve heard that you sometimes throw a statement out that people need to finish. Specifically, let’s say you were interviewing Chris, you’d say, ‘Everyone says Chris is great, but . . .’ and then you’d sit there in silence. Do you do that?” STAN: “I do do that. . . . It puts a person in the position of having to try to articulate what they think the perception of them by others is. Because there is a perception, and often in the vetting process, we’ll figure that out because we’ll get inputs from other people. But if you asked somebody and you said, ‘Everybody loves you but they don’t love this about you,’ or ‘they’d hire you but . . .’ [it accomplishes] a couple of things. One, it forces them to come to grips with ‘What is it people don’t love about me?’ And the second is, they’ve got to say it to you. It could be very common knowledge, but if they don’t have the courage to face up to it and tell somebody who’s thinking about hiring them, that’s a window into personality, I think.”

What will the people who don’t hold you in highest regard say about you?’

Three Practices for Mental Toughness
“The first is to push yourself harder than you believe you’re capable of. You’ll find new depth inside yourself. The second is to put yourself in groups who share difficulties, discomfort. We used to call it ‘shared privation.’ You’ll find that when you have been through that kind of difficult environment, that you feel more strongly about that which you’re committed to. And finally, create some fear and make individuals overcome it.”

Books to read for insight into the realities of combat? CHRIS: “Well, a classic in the special operations community is Gates of Fire, by Steven Pressfield. Really highly read. . .

Stan’s most-gifted book “I have probably given the most copies of a book written in 1968 by Anton Myrer, called Once an Eagle. It’s a story of two characters, [who both] entered the military during the first World War, and it follows them up through the second World War into the postwar years.”

Stan’s favorite film The Battle of Algiers.

Shay Carl
Ultimately, it was the simple that worked. He

Caroline Paul
Encouraging Girls On common parenting differences when raising sons and daughters: “With boys, there is an active encouragement—despite the possibility that they could get hurt—and guiding the son to do it, often on his own. When a daughter decides to do something that might have some risk involved, after cautioning her, the parents are much more likely to assist her in doing it. What is this telling girls? They’re fragile and they need our help. That is acculturated so early. So of course, by the time we’re women and in the workplace or relationships, that’s going to be a predominant paradigm for us: fear.” TIM: “For women who are listening and say to themselves, ‘My God. She’s totally right. I was raised in a bubble of sorts. I don’t want to have this default anymore. I want to condition myself to be able to contend with fear and put it in line.’ What would you say to them?” CAROLINE: “I would say it’s time to adopt a paradigm of bravery instead of a paradigm of fear. So, when you have a boy and a girl, or a man and a woman, facing the exact same situation, there will be two emotional reactions to it that are sort of opposite. The man will be trying to access his bravery, and the woman will be accessing her fear.” TIM: “This really underscores something important. Courage takes practice. It’s a skill you have to develop.

Kevin Kelly
In a world of distraction, single-tasking is a superpower.

Memento mori—remember that you’re going to die. It’s a great way to remember to live.

Whitney Cummings
Start with “I Love You”

During the first few minutes of our interview at a friend’s kitchen table, I noticed very faint tattoos on Whitney’s arm. It turns out they were done with white ink.

And I think ultimately, sometimes when we judge other people, it’s just a way to not look at ourselves; a way to feel superior or sanctimonious or whatever. My trauma therapist said every time you meet someone, just in your head say, ‘I love you’ before you have a conversation with them, and that conversation is going to go a lot better.

Break Your Heart Open, Buy a House

When it gets broken open, that’s where the meat is. That’s where you write great characters. That’s how you get vulnerable, and it’s important.
The Material Is 10% of It

Being comfortable on stage is all of it.

Louis C.K. says, ‘If you think about something more than three times a week, you have to write about it.’”
Whitney’s Definition of “Love” “My definition of ‘love’ is being willing to die for someone who you yourself want to kill. That, in my experience, is kind of the deal.”

Bryan Callen
Impactful Books
But then I got into Joseph Campbell—The Power of Myth and The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Joseph Campbell was the first person to really open my eyes to [the] compassionate side of life, or of thought. . . . Campbell was the guy who really kind of put it all together for me, and not in a way I could put my finger on. . . . It made you just glad to be alive, [realizing] how vast this world is, and how similar and how different we are.”

Alain de Botton
“Success” Must Include Peace

Ultimately, to be properly successful is to be at peace as well.”

Offense Versus Defense “The more you know what you really want, and where you’re really going, the more what everybody else is doing starts to diminish. The moments when your own path is at its most ambiguous, [that’s when] the voices of others, the distracting chaos in which we live, the social media static start to loom large and become very threatening.”

Cal Fussman
“Don’t panic. Let the silence do the work.”

“Listening is about being present, not just being quiet.”

Rick Rubin
Learn from the Greats, Not Your Competition “Going to museums and looking at great art can help you write better songs. Reading great novels . . . seeing a great movie . . . reading poetry. . . . The only way to use the inspiration of other artists is if you submerge yourself in the greatest works of all time.

The Soundtrack of Excellence As mentioned before, more than 80% of the world-class performers I’ve interviewed meditate in the mornings in some fashion. But what of the remaining 20%? Nearly all of them have meditation-like activities. One frequent pattern is listening to a single track or album on repeat, which can act as an external mantra for aiding focus and present-state awareness. Here are just a few examples: Alex Honnold, free solo climbing phenom: The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding and others: ambitones like The Zen Effect in the key of C for 30 minutes, made by Rolfe Kent, the composer of music for movies like Sideways, Wedding Crashers, and Legally Blonde Matt Mullenweg, lead developer of WordPress, CEO of Automattic: “Everyday” by A$AP Rocky and “One Dance” by Drake Amelia Boone, the world’s most successful female obstacle course racer: “Tonight Tonight” by the Smashing Pumpkins and “Keep Your Eyes Open” by NEEDTOBREATHE Chris Young, mathematician and experimental chef: Paul Oakenfold’s “Live at the Rojan in Shanghai,” Pete Tong’s Essential Mix Jason Silva, TV and YouTube philosopher: “Time” from the Inception soundtrack by Hans Zimmer Chris Sacca: “Harlem Shake” by Baauer and “Lift Off” by Jay Z and Kanye West, featuring Beyoncé. “I can bang through an amazing amount of email with the Harlem Shake going on in the background.” Tim Ferriss: Currently I’m listening to “Circulation” by Beats Antique and “Black Out the Sun” by Sevendust, depending on whether I need flow or a jumpstart.

“There are only four stories: a love story between two people, a love story between three people, the struggle for power, and the journey. Every single book that is in the bookstore deals with these four archetypes, these four themes.”

Paulo Coelho
What Does Your Morning and Daily Routine Look Like? “I sit down, of course. I have the book inside of me,

There is this notepad by my side, and I take notes, but I take notes only to take them out from my head. They will be useless the next day.

Amanda Palmer
AMANDA: “No, really. Just take on the pain, and wear it as a shirt.”

Eric Weinstein
the need to destroy education in order to save it?”


“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” —Mark Twain.
Ludwig Wittgenstein: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

I realized that this was sort of the open secret of what I call the hallucinogenic elite, whether it’s billionaires, or Nobel laureates, or inventors and coders. . . . A lot of these people were using these agents either for creativity or to gain access to the things that are so difficult to get access to through therapy and other conventional means.”

Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
“You can always de-fuck the script later.”

“The most important trick to be happy is to realize that happiness is a choice that you make and a skill that you develop. You choose to be happy, and then you work at it. It’s just like building muscles.”

Naval Ravikant
Handling Conflict “The first rule of handling conflict is don’t hang around people who are constantly engaging in conflict.

The Five Chimps Theory “There’s a theory that I call ‘the five chimps theory.’ In zoology, you can predict the mood and behavior patterns of any chimp by which five chimps they hang out with the most. Choose your five chimps carefully.”

Naval’s Laws The below is Naval’s response to the question “Are there any quotes you live by or think of often?” These are gold. Take the time necessary to digest them. “These aren’t all quotes from others. Many are maxims that I’ve carved for myself.” Be present above all else. Desire is suffering (Buddha). Anger is a hot coal that you hold in your hand while waiting to throw it at someone else (Buddhist saying). If you can’t see yourself working with someone for life, don’t work with them for a day. Reading (learning) is the ultimate meta-skill and can be traded for anything else. All the real benefits in life come from compound interest. Earn with your mind, not your time. 99% of all effort is wasted. Total honesty at all times. It’s almost always possible to be honest and positive. Praise specifically, criticize generally (Warren Buffett). Truth is that which has predictive power. Watch every thought. (Always ask, “Why am I having this thought?”) All greatness comes from suffering. Love is given, not received. Enlightenment is the space between your thoughts (Eckhart Tolle). Mathematics is the language of nature. Every moment has to be complete in and of itself.

A Few of Naval’s Tweets that are Too Good to Leave Out “What you choose to work on, and who you choose to work with, are far more important than how hard you work.”

“The guns aren’t new. The violence isn’t new. The connected cameras are new, and that changes everything.”

Glenn Beck
So the best advice I learned by mistake, and that is: Be willing to fail or succeed on who you really are. Don’t ever try to be anything else.

Tara Brach
Inviting Mara to Tea This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! . . . The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. —Rumi

When Mara visits us, in the form of troubling emotions or fearsome stories, we can say, “I see you, Mara,” and clearly recognize the reality of craving and fear that lives in each human heart. By accepting these experiences with the warmth of compassion, we can offer Mara tea rather than fearfully drive him away.
Pema Chödrön says that through spiritual practice, “We are learning to make friends with ourselves, our life, at the most profound level possible.”

Malcolm Gladwell
think the American college system needs to be blown up and they need to start over.

Josh Waitzkin
TF: I often share exact under-the-hood details of how I’ve built the podcast, put together Kickstarter campaigns, etc. I do this because of two core beliefs.

Belief #1—It’s rarely a zero-sum game (if someone wins, someone else must lose), and the more I help people with details, the more detailed help I receive.

Belief #2—If it is competitive, I’m simply offering people the details of my game. My attention to detail will scare off half of the people who would have tried; 40% will try it and be worse than me; 10% will try it and be better than me, but . . . see Belief #1. That 10% will often reach out to teach me what they’ve learned, as they’re grateful for my own transparency.

Brené Brown
TF: One of the most common Kindle highlights from The 4-Hour Workweek complements this: “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”

When I Had the Opportunity, Did I Choose Courage over Comfort? Brené flew under the radar for a long time, until she came across Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “arena” quote (“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. . . .”).

If I’m not a little bit nauseous when I’m done, I probably didn’t show up like I should have shown up.”

Jason Silva
TF: Closely related advice from one of my own mentors: “Be a skeptic, don’t be a cynic.”

Do you have any quotes that you live your life by or think of often? “We are simultaneously gods and worms.”—Abraham Maslow

Jon Favreau
The Power of Myth For screenwriting, Jon recommends The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler, which he used to determine if Swingers was structurally correct.

He is also a big fan of The Power of Myth, a video interview of Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers.

I’m a list maker. It’s how I keep my life in order, my world organized.

The Most-Gifted and Recommended Books of All Guests

This is what you’ve been asking me for! A note on formatting: Bolded books are “most-gifted book” answers. Bolded and underlined books are “most-gifted book” answers that did not appear in the podcast episode but that guests sent me afterward. Unbolded books were recommended or mentioned by the guest, but not specifically “most-gifted.” Which books came up the most? Here are the top 17—everything with 3 or more mentions—in descending order of frequency: Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (5 mentions) Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (4) Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (4) Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (4) The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (4) The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (4) Dune by Frank Herbert (3) Influence by Robert Cialdini (3) Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (3) Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom (3) Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman (3) The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss (3) The Bible (3) The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz (3) The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (3) Watchmen by Alan Moore (3) Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters (3)

Arnold, Patrick: Guns, Germs, and Steel (Jared Diamond)

Brach, Tara: When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Pema Chödrön),

Brown, Brené: The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

Callen, Bryan: The Power of Myth; The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Joseph Campbell), The 4-Hour Body; The 4-Hour Workweek (Tim Ferriss),

Carl, Shay: As a Man Thinketh (James Allen), How to Win Friends & Influence People (Dale Carnegie), Think and Grow Rich (Napoleon Hill), The Total Money Makeover (Dave Ramsey), The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey),

Cummings, Whitney: Super Sad True Love Story (Gary Shteyngart),

Diamandis, Peter: The Singularity Is Near (Ray Kurzweil),

Favreau, Jon: The 4-Hour Body (Tim Ferriss), The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien), Kitchen Confidential (Anthony Bourdain)

Fussell, Chris: Gates of Fire (Steven Pressfield),

Godin, Seth: Makers; Little Brother (Cory Doctorow), Snow Crash; The Diamond Age (Neal Stephenson), AUDIOBOOKS: The Recorded Works (Pema Chödrön), Debt (David Graeber), The War of Art (Steven Pressfield)

Goldberg, Evan: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams), The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

Goodman, Marc: The 4-Hour Workweek (Tim Ferriss),

Hamilton, Laird: The Bible, Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien), Deep Survival (Laurence Gonzales),

Hart, Mark: Mastery (Robert Greene), The Art of Learning (Josh Waitzkin), The 4-Hour Body (Tim Ferriss)

Hof, Wim: Siddhartha (Hermann Hesse),

Holiday, Ryan: Meditations (Marcus Aurelius), The War of Art (Steven Pressfield), What Makes Sammy Run? (Budd Schulberg), Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (Ron Chernow), How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer (Sarah Bakewell), The Fish that Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King; Tough Jews (Rich Cohen), Edison: A Biography (Matthew Josephson), Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph over Adversity (Brooks Simpson), Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
Johnson, Bryan: Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage (Alfred Lansing),

Kaskade: Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath (Ted Koppel)

Koppelman, Brian: The War of Art (Steven Pressfield)

McCullough, Michael: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (David Allen), The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (Stephen R. Covey), The Checklist Manifesto (Atul Gawande)

Mullenweg, Matt: History of the Peloponnesian War (Thucydides), The Magus (John Fowles), On Writing Well (William Zinsser),

Neistat, Casey: The Second World War (John Keegan),

Palmer, Amanda: A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson)

Popova, Maria: On the Shortness of Life (Seneca), The Republic (Plato), The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837–1861 (Henry David Thoreau), Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (Edward Abbey),

Potts, Rolf: Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman), Alien vs. Predator (Michael Robbins),

Ravikant, Naval: Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari), Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson), Siddhartha (Hermann Hesse), Meditations (Marcus Aurelius), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Hunter S. Thompson), The Power of Myth (Joseph Campbell), The Lessons of History (Will Durant and Ariel Durant),

Reece, Gabby: Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand), The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

Robbins, Tony: As a Man Thinketh (James Allen),

Rogen, Seth: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams),

Rose, Kevin: The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation (Thich Nhat Hanh),

Sethi, Ramit: Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion (Anthony), Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got (Jay Abraham), Mindless Eating (Brian Wansink),

Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time (Keith Ferrazzi),

Sommer, Christopher: The Obstacle Is the Way (Ryan Holiday),

Starrett, Kelly: Deep Survival (Laurence Gonzales), The Diamond Age (Neal Stephenson), Dune (Frank Herbert),

Strauss, Neil: On the Shortness of Life (Seneca), Meditations (Marcus Aurelius), Siddhartha (Hermann Hesse), StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Tom Rath) (aside from Neil: Just for the coupon to take the online test),

Teller, Astro: Ready Player One: A Novel (Ernest Cline),

Waitzkin, Josh: On the Road; The Dharma Bums (Jack Kerouac), Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu), Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging (Sebastian Junger),

Favorite Films and TV Shows
Adams, Scott: Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger (doc)

Andreessen, Marc: Mr. Robot (TV), Halt and Catch Fire (TV), Silicon Valley (TV)

Attia, Peter: Pumping Iron (doc),

Carl, Shay: Captain Fantastic,

McChrystal, Gen. Stanley A.: The Battle of Algiers

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