Tools of Titans (Review #1)

It is no secret that I am Tim Ferris’s #1 fangirl. His voice is usually the first thing I hear in the morning, as I listen to his (killer) podcast as I eat breakfast and get ready for the day.

This book was gifted to me by my lovely sister, which makes it all the more special. If you have never seen a copy of Tools of Titans, you should know that it can double as a stepping stool. It is huge. And yet somehow, it probably does not contain even one billionth of Tim’s brain power, so I look forward to future volumes.

Alas, the goal is to review Tools of Titans, not Tim Ferris… but I did warn you that I am his #1 fangirl.

This book is an amalgamation of Tim’s favourite extracts from his (already) compelling interviews, presented on The Tim Ferriss Show (his podcast). If we liken his podcasts to a household cleaner, Tools of Titans is like an immediately corrosive substance. It is extremely potent; it is an astutely concentrated source of wisdom from some of the wisest people on the planet.

Without further adieu: a few of my initial favourite quotes from Tools of Titans.


“If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” – Derek Sivers (185) 

“My name is Saba, and I am an information junkie.”

“Hi Saba,” the support group echoes.

Being an information junkie is an addiction like no other, as it masquerades as a noble and productive trait. But in just one sentence, Derek Sivers reaches below the surface and digs up gold. Information will not cure you. At some point, you do not need to know more. Gathering and hoarding information will not serve you, it will just clutter your mind. You simply need to doand the knowing will follow.

On determining whether someone is successful: “…we can’t know without knowing a person’s aims… what if Richard Branson set out to live a quiet life, but like a compulsive gambler, he just can’t stop creating companies? Then that changes everything and we can’t call him successful anymore.” – Derek Sivers (186)

Well, while it seems highly unlikely that Richard Branson is an entrepreneur out of compulsion alone, this comedic snippet strikes at yet another salient truth: the difference between fulfillment and achievement. A PhD in Astrophysics hanging on your wall is a commendable achievement; but it makes for very little fulfillment if you wanted to be an opera singer all along.

“What is the ultimate quantification of success? For me, it’s not how much time you spend doing what you love. It’s how little time you spend doing what you hate.” – Casey Neistat (220)

I thought this was an interesting perspective on success; very few people think of success this way, and yet, those very same people probably sacrifice a lot of their time doing things they hate so that they can allot a fraction of their lives doing something they enjoy.

“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.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger (177) 

In an age of confusion and overnight-success delusions, we seem to have a buffet of opportunity, making it nearly impossible to narrow our vision to a laser focus. Challenging as it may be, this is our first and most crucial task. Otherwise, any action we take will be chaotic and multidirectional,  often leaving us with a net displacement of zero. And thus, without a vision, we find ourselves back where we started, despite our most valiant efforts.

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” – Benjamin Disraeli (465) *not taken from a podcast

This ties into the point above: it is a hard pill to swallow, but action does not guarantee success; but a lack of action guarantees failure. It is due to this uncertainty that many people do not venture to attempt anything at all. If it’s not a “sure thing”, why bother? Well, to me, that’s a fair point. And the only reason someone would struggle to overcome that inertia, is when they have been confronted with a compelling vision.


This is a mere teaser of the reviews of Tools of Titans to come.

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