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Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires PDF

Author: Timothy Ferriss and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Publish Date: December 6, 2016

ISBN-10: 1328683788

Pages: 736

File Type: EPub

Language: English

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Book Preface





Part 1: Healthy

Amelia Boone

Rhonda Perciavalle Patrick

Christopher Sommer

Gymnast Strong

Dominic D’Agostino

Patrick Arnold

Joe De Sena

Wim “The Iceman” Hof

Rick Rubin’s Barrel Sauna

Jason Nemer

AcroYoga—Thai and Fly

Deconstructing Sports and Skills with Questions

Peter Attia

Justin Mager

Charles Poliquin

The Slow-Carb Diet® Cheat Sheet

My 6-Piece Gym in a Bag

Pavel Tsatsouline

Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reece & Brian MacKenzie

James Fadiman

Martin Polanco & Dan Engle

Kelly Starrett

Paul Levesque (Triple H)

Jane McGonigal

Adam Gazzaley

5 Tools for Faster and Better Sleep

5 Morning Rituals that Help Me Win the Day

Mind Training 101

Three Tips from a Google Pioneer

Coach Sommer—The Single Decision

Part 2: Wealthy

Chris Sacca

Marc Andreessen

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Derek Sivers

Alexis Ohanian

“Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)

Matt Mullenweg

Nicholas McCarthy

Tony Robbins

Casey Neistat

Morgan Spurlock

What My Morning Journal Looks Like

Reid Hoffman

Peter Thiel

Seth Godin

James Altucher

How to Create a Real-World MBA

Scott Adams

Shaun White

The Law of Category

Chase Jarvis

Dan Carlin

Ramit Sethi

1,000 True Fans—Revisited

Hacking Kickstarter

Alex Blumberg

The Podcast Gear I Use

Ed Catmull

Tracy DiNunzio

Phil Libin

Chris Young

Daymond John

Noah Kagan


Luis von Ahn

The Canvas Strategy

Kevin Rose

Gut Investing

Neil Strauss

Mike Shinoda

Justin Boreta

Scott Belsky

How to Earn Your Freedom

Peter Diamandis

Sophia Amoruso

B.J. Novak

How to Say “No” When It Matters Most

Part 3: Wise

BJ Miller

Maria Popova

Jocko Willink

Sebastian Junger

Marc Goodman

Samy Kamkar

Tools of a Hacker

General Stanley McChrystal & Chris Fussell

Shay Carl

Will MacAskill

The Dickens Process—What Are Your Beliefs Costing You?

Kevin Costner

Sam Harris

Caroline Paul

My Favorite Thought Exercise: Fear-Setting

Kevin Kelly

Is This What I So Feared?

Whitney Cummings

Bryan Callen

Alain de Botton

Lazy: A Manifesto

Cal Fussman

Joshua Skenes

Rick Rubin

The Soundtrack of Excellence

Jack Dorsey

Paulo Coelho

Writing Prompts from Cheryl Strayed

Ed Cooke

Amanda Palmer

Eric Weinstein

Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg

8 Tactics for Dealing with Haters

Margaret Cho

Andrew Zimmern

Rainn Wilson

Naval Ravikant

Glenn Beck

Tara Brach

Sam Kass

Edward Norton

Richard Betts

Mike Birbiglia

The Jar of Awesome

Malcolm Gladwell

Stephen J. Dubner

Josh Waitzkin

Why You Need a “Deloading” Phase in Life

Brené Brown

Jason Silva

Jon Favreau

Testing the “Impossible”: 17 Questions that Changed My Life

Jamie Foxx

Bryan Johnson

Brian Koppelman

Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide

Robert Rodriguez


Sekou Andrews








Read This First—
How to Use This Book

“Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center. Big, undreamed-of things—the people on the edge see them first.”

—Kurt Vonnegut

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”

—W.H. Auden

I’m a compulsive note-taker.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a café in Paris overlooking the Luxembourg Garden, just off of Rue Saint-Jacques. Rue Saint-Jacques is likely the oldest road in Paris, and it has a rich literary history. Victor Hugo lived a few blocks from where I’m sitting. Gertrude Stein drank coffee and F. Scott Fitzgerald socialized within a stone’s throw. Hemingway wandered up and down the sidewalks, his books percolating in his mind, wine no doubt percolating in his blood.

What Makes These People Different?

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”


These world-class performers don’t have superpowers.

Performance-Enhancing Details

When organizing all of the material for myself, I didn’t want an onerous 37-step program.

What Do they Have in Common?

In this book, you’ll naturally look for common habits and recommendations, and you should. Here are a few patterns, some odder than others:

  • More than 80% of the interviewees have some form of daily mindfulness or meditation practice
  • A surprising number of males (not females) over 45 never eat breakfast, or eat only the scantiest of fare (e.g., Laird Hamilton, page 92; Malcolm Gladwell, page 572; General Stanley McChrystal, page 435)
  • Many use the ChiliPad device for cooling at bedtime
  • Rave reviews of the books Sapiens, Poor Charlie’s Almanack, Influence, and Man’s Search for Meaning, among others
  • The habit of listening to single songs on repeat for focus (page 507)
  • Nearly everyone has done some form of “spec” work (completing projects on their own time and dime, then submitting them to prospective buyers)
  • The belief that “failure is not durable” (see Robert Rodriguez, page 628) or variants thereof
  • Almost every guest has been able to take obvious “weaknesses” and turn them into huge competitive advantages (see Arnold Schwarzenegger, page 176)

This Book Is a Buffet—Here’s How to Get the Most Out of It

Rule #1: Skip Liberally.

I want you to skip anything that doesn’t grab you. This book should be fun to read, and it’s a buffet to choose from. Don’t suffer through anything. If you hate shrimp, don’t eat the goddamn shrimp. Treat it as a choose-your-own-adventure guide, as that’s how I’ve written it. My goal is for each reader to like 50%, love 25%, and never forget 10%. Here’s why: For the millions who’ve heard the podcast, and the dozens who proofread this book, the 50/25/10 highlights are completely different for every person. It’s blown my mind.

Rule #2: Skip, BUT do so intelligently.

All that said, take a brief mental note of anything you skip. Perhaps put a little dot in the corner of the page or highlight the headline.

Just Remember Two Principles

I was recently standing in Place Louis Aragon, a shaded outdoor nook on the River Seine, having a picnic with writing students from the Paris American Academy. One woman pulled me aside and asked what I hoped to convey in this book, at the core. Seconds later, we were pulled back into the fray, as the attendees were all taking turns talking about the circuitous paths that brought them there that day. Nearly everyone had a story of wanting to come to Paris for years—in some cases, 30 to 40 years—but assuming it was impossible.

  1. Success, however you define it, is achievable if you collect the right field-tested beliefs and habits. Someone else has done your version of “success” before, and often, many have done something similar. “But,” you might ask, “what about a first, like colonizing Mars?” There are still recipes. Look at empire building of other types, look at the biggest decisions in the life of Robert Moses (read The Power Broker), or simply find someone who stepped up to do great things that were deemed impossible at the time (e.g., Walt Disney). There is shared DNA you can borrow.
  2. The superheroes you have in your mind (idols, icons, titans, billionaires, etc.) are nearly all walking flaws who’ve maximized 1 or 2 strengths. Humans are imperfect creatures. You don’t “succeed” because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them. To make this crystal-clear, I’ve deliberately included two sections in this book (pages 197 and 616) that will make you think: “Wow, Tim Ferriss is a mess. How the hell does he ever get anything done?” Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. The heroes in this book are no different. Everyone struggles. Take solace in that.

A Few Important Notes on Format


This book is comprised of three sections: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. Of course, there is tremendous overlap across the sections, as the pieces are interdependent. In fact, you could think of the three as a tripod upon which life is balanced. One needs all three to have any sustainable success or happiness. “Wealthy,” in the context of this book, also means much more than money. It extends to abundance in time, relationships, and more.

Extended quotes

Before writing this book, I called Mason Currey, author of Daily Rituals, which profiles the rituals of 161 creatives like Franz Kafka and Pablo Picasso. I asked him what his best decisions were related to the book. Mason responded with, “[I] let my subjects’ voices come through as much as possible, and I think that was one of things that I did ‘right.’ Often, it wasn’t the details of their routine/habits, so much as how they talked about them that was interesting.”

How to Read Quotes—The Micro

 . . . = Portion of dialogue omitted

[words in brackets] = additional information that wasn’t part of the interview but may be necessary to understand what’s being discussed, or related info or recommendations from yours truly

How to Read Quotes—The Macro

One of my podcast guests, also one of the smartest people I know, was shocked when I showed him his raw transcript. “Wow,” he said. “I generally like to think of myself as a decently smart guy, but I use past, present, and future tense like they’re the same fucking thing. It makes me sound like a complete moron.”


Where guests have related recommendations or philosophies, I’ve noted them in parentheses. For instance, if Jane Doe tells a story about the value of testing higher prices, I might add “(see Marc Andreessen, page 170),” since his answer to “If you could have a billboard anywhere, what would you put on it?” was “Raise prices,” which he explains in depth.


I’ve included ample doses of the ridiculous. First of all, if we’re serious all the time, we’ll wear out before we get the truly serious stuff done. Second, if this book were all stern looks and no winks, all productivity and no grab-assing, you’d remember very little. I agree with Tony Robbins (page 210) that information without emotion isn’t retained.

Spirit animals

Yes, spirit animals. There wasn’t room for photographs in this book, but I wanted some sort of illustrations to keep things fun. It seemed like a lost cause, but then—after a glass or four of wine—I recalled that one of my guests, Alexis Ohanian (page 194), likes to ask potential hires, “What’s your spirit animal?” Eureka! So, you’ll see thumbnail spirit animals for anyone who would humor me and play along. The best part? Dozens of people took the question very seriously. Extended explanations, emotional changes of heart, and Venn diagrams ensued. Questions poured in: “Would a mythological creature be acceptable?” “Can I be a plant instead?” Alas, I couldn’t get a hold of everyone in time for publication, so drawings are sprinkled throughout like Scooby snacks. In a book full of practicality, treat these like little rainbows of absurdity. People had fun with it.

Non-profile content and Tim Ferriss chapters

In all sections, there are multiple non-profile pieces by guests and yours truly. These are typically intended to expand upon key principles and tools mentioned by multiple people.

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