“I’m a compulsive note taker…My goal is to learn things once and use them forever.” – Tim Ferriss
And with that opening quotation, I was hooked on Tim Ferriss’ book, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.
I immediately started saving my favorite leadership tips and takeaways to Evernote as I read. I deeply believe the best way to improve your leadership skills is by learning from others.
And, wow, did I learn from this book—all 700+ pages of it. (Before you let the daunting length be a deterrent, I encourage you to take the advice Ferriss offers to treat the book like a “buffet,” that is, selecting the parts that are most appealing to you.)
I’ve already learned a lot from Ferriss’ previous books—his 4-Hour Workweek in particular. Before reading that book, I’d never heard of the concept of a virtual assistant. After reading the book, I went out and hired one immediately. As anyone knows who has worked with me over the past few years, my amazing VA Eileen of Delegate Solutions has been a true gamechanger.
Tools of Titans lived up to my high expectations (except for the notable and inexplicable dearth of women among the “titans”). While many of the people Ferriss included are illustrious names, I also learned of new thought leaders, such as Derek Sivers. (I bought his book, Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur, the minute I finished reading his interview).
As my readers know, I absolutely love a motivational or inspiring quotation so I wanted to share my favorite quotes from Ferriss’ interviews.
On the best jobs being the ones you make up (I know mine falls into that category!):
“I distinctly remember [my dad] saying not to worry about what I was going to do because the job I was going to do hadn’t even been invented yet. . . . The interesting jobs are the ones that you make up. That’s something I certainly hope to instill in my son: Don’t worry about what your job is going to be. . . . Do things that you’re interested in, and if you do them really well, you’re going to find a way to temper them with some good business opportunity.”
—Chris Young, co-author, Modernist Cuisine
On being brave and scared at the same time:
“This idea that we’re either courageous or chicken sh*t is just not true, because most of us are afraid and brave at the same moment, all day long.”
—Brene Brown, bestselling author and research professor, University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work
On making “easy” the next criterion for action:
“In doing an 80/20 analysis of your activities (simply put: determining which 20% of activities/ tasks produce 80% of the results you want), you typically end up with a short list. Make “easy” your next criterion. Which of these highest-value activities is the easiest for me to do? You can build an entire career on 80/20 analysis and asking this question.”
—Tim Ferriss, reflecting on his interview with Reid Hoffman, co-founder of PayPal and LinkedIn
On the importance of authenticity and vulnerability:
“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself: That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”
—Neil Gaiman, from his University of the Arts commencement speech
On the importance of saying “yes” early in your career:
“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.”
—Derek Sivers, author and founder of CD Baby
On using bad experiences as content (I live by this!):
“When I first had money—I grew up without any money—I got a car. . . . It was a Lexus hybrid, and the first day I got it, I filled it up with diesel fuel. I destroyed it. It was awful. I got this great joke out of it, though, a 7-minute bit that probably paid for all the damage. So now, I’m in this place where when something bad happens, I think: ‘Oh, good, I can use that.’”
—Whitney Cummings, comedian
Have you read Tools of Titans? Did any of these quotations resonate with you? I’d love to hear your favorite quotation or leadership tip in the comments below or on Twitter.
Lindsey Pollak is the leading expert on millennials and the multigenerational workplace, trusted by global companies, universities and the world’s top media outlets. A New York Times bestselling author and keynote speaker, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her presentations have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.