Tools of Titans — A Few Goodies from the Cutting Room Floor

This post contains a few things that didn’t make it into Tools of Titans (#1 NYT), pulled from more than 300 cuts.

Please excuse casual grammar. This is how all people sound in-person, even uber-smart ones.  The below quotes weren’t copyedited for the book, as they didn’t make it in (though every person did), so any typos are mine. Bolding is also mine.

Hope you enjoy!


*What are the things that you look for in founders, or the red flags that disqualify an investment or a founder.

“Number one, intelligence; you’ve got to be smart, which means you have to know what you’re doing, to some level. That’s a fuzzy thing but you talk to people and you kind of get a sense of do they know what they’re doing or not. Do they have insight, do they have specific knowledge? Have they thought about the problem deeply? It’s not about the age. It’s not how many years they’ve spent but just how deep is their understanding of what they’re about to do.”

“So intelligence is key. Energy, because being a founder is brutally difficult. It takes a long time and in the long run, the people who succeed are just the ones who persevere. So if someone runs out of energy or if they’re doing this in some hesitating, preliminary way where they’re looking for constant positive feedback, or if they’re easily thrown off course, then they’re not going to make it to the end, especially in the highly competitive startup context.”

And finally is integrity. Because if you have someone who is high intelligence and high energy but they’re low integrity, what you’ve got is a hard working, smart crook. Especially in the startup world, things are very dynamic, they’re very fast moving. People are very independent. So if somebody wants to screw you over, they will find a way to do it. Fundamentally, ethics and integrity are what you do despite the money. If being ethical were profitable, everybody would do it. So what you’re looking for is a core sense of values that rises above and beyond the pure financial incentives.”

Here are the full episodes with Naval:

The Person I Call Most for Startup Advice (this episode was voted by ProductHunt as the #2 podcast episode of 2015, beaten out only by my episode with Jamie Foxx)

Naval Ravikant on Happiness Hacks and the 5 Chimps Theory


*Who are some of the most underrated comedians?

“Sebastian Maniscalco”

Jerrod Carmichael is great.”

“Natasha Leggero is very funny. Tig Notaro, I’m sure you guys all know her by now. Chris D’Elia, I’m a fan. You probably already know him.”

“Neil Brennan, co-creator of the Chappelle Show with Dave Chappelle, has now started doing standup and is super incisive and funny.”

Here are the full episodes with Whitney:

Whitney Cummings on Turning Pain Into Creativity

The Return of the Money Shot


*Edit down & simplify

“And the true beauty of making a good TED talk or a good book is that you edit down, and you distill…”

“And then the goal was: how do we take this story that took a minute and a half to tell, which I thought I had got it as far down as possible, and condense it into 20 seconds?  Literally, what words, what single words could we use to convey that whole sentence?”

“With a single anecdote or a single detail, they emotionally take you right there, and they don’t need to say anymore, and they can get on to the next thing.”

“The best art is about economy. [..] the artist who’s just trying to do everything winds up unable to express whatever it is that’s of importance.”

“It was the ability to pare down to the impactful detail.  And that’s just true in art, as in life, for sure.”

Here is the full episode with Amanda:

Amanda Palmer on How to Fight, Meditate, and Make Good Art


*Don’t B.S. — tell the truth

“I find the smartest guys in the world, and when you get to the very top echelon, they have perfect B.S. detectors.  It’s much better to say ‘I don’t know’ than to try to make up an answer to something you don’t actually know. It’s kind of refreshing, actually, that just honesty and transparency are – even when you’re raising north of a billion dollars – the best policy.”

Here are the full episodes with Matt:

Matt Mullenweg on Polyphasic Sleep, Tequila, and Building Billion-Dollar Companies

Matt Mullenweg: Characteristics and Practices of Successful Entrepreneurs

The Random Show Threesome — Tim Ferriss, Kevin Rose, and Matt Mullenweg


*Keystone habits recommended by Josh

“First of all, meditation, when we’re speaking about this theme of cognitive biases or basically observing your mental directions the moment that they set in. Meditation is as deep and as powerful a tool as I could possibly describe. Maybe six or seven years ago, when I was first talking about meditation with guys in the finance world [Editor: he coaches some of the best-performing hedge hedge fund managers of all time], it seemed like some woo-woo strange thing for them to take on. But as more and more people are integrating it into their process, you wouldn’t believe how many of the most powerful players in the world are meditating very deeply.”


“It’s one thing to learn skills, but the higher artist has to learn themes or meta-themes that will ultimately, spontaneously tap into the internalization of hundreds of what I would call ‘local habits.’ If you’re practicing quality, you’re deepening the muscle of quality and you’re also focusing the unconscious on that complexity, which we then tap first thing in the mornings [by journaling upon waking].”

[Editor’s note — But to make journaling work, you need to let problems go earlier in the day.] From later in that conversation:

“The very core idea is: when you go home, as best you can, unless you’re red-hot inspired, release your mind from the work. It’s very important to give your stress a recovery. [As a] core habit, you want to be turning it on and turning it off.”

And you can teach people that turning it off is a huge part of teaching them to turn it on much more intensely. [Editor: Josh works with some of the top athletes in the world, like Marcelo Garcia in jiu-jitsu] Stress and recovery workouts, interval training, and meditation together are beautiful habits to develop to cultivate the art of turning it on and turning it off.”

“And then, thematically, this ties back into this internal proactive orientation, building a daily architecture which is around understanding your creative process as opposed to reacting to things, feeling guilty that you’re not working, really teaching people to tap into their internal compass.”

Here are the full episodes with Josh:

Episode #2 — Josh Waitzkin

Josh Waitzkin, The Prodigy Returns

Becoming the Best Version of You


“Well, one of my general life philosophies is do not try to be 40 before you are 40. It is funny how many of us we want to jump ahead and do all of these really sophisticated things, and I am no exception. Every time I start something new, I want to jump to what all the best people in the world are doing and try to copy them. But, of course, you have to go through the pain and the fire to be able to get there…”

Here are the full episodes with Ramit:

Ramit Sethi on Persuasion and Turning a Blog Into a Multi-Million-Dollar Business

How Creatives Should Negotiate

Becoming the Best Version of You

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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11 Replies to “Tools of Titans — A Few Goodies from the Cutting Room Floor”

  1. Love the simple stuff from Matt & Ramit:

    1. Admit that you don’t know.

    2. Don’t jump ahead – the journey is where you grow.

  2. Your interview with Whitney Cummins was one of my favorites. Love the podcast! I need to check out your tv show.

  3. Thanks Tim, great addition. I like Amanda Palmer’s comments about distilling down to the essence of what is important. That is a great skill and takes a lot more effort but it can seem so effortless.

    Really need to practice what Josh Waitzkin recommends about switching on and switching off. I find I’m slow to get going and then can’t switch off.

  4. Tools of Titans is a ticket to a universe of inspiration. You put so much into this! We readers are so lucky to benefit from your effort and vision. Thank you!

  5. Sitting here in Copenhagen, Denmark using my Bible (Tools of Titans) every freaking day…just so inspiring and uplifting in times of creating new bizzes…and thanks a lot for the extra stuff here 🙏👍🤗

  6. That last one is great. “Do not try to be 40 before you are 40.” Both from the standpoint of knowing where you are to start and remembering to enjoy being 20, or 30, or 34…wherever you happen to be. Thanks for everything you do Tim!

  7. This is so valuable. I have been re-reading Tools of Titans today on holidays. It can be re-read, and whole different value can be gained from it. It would be great if more of these cutting rooms anecdotes could be turned into a podcast episode. Thanks Tim. So genuinely grateful.

  8. Have you given any thought/work towards bundling a Tools of Titans app?

    Here’s what I’m thinking: people are used to searching for the information they need via the inter webs. Thing is, when they look up deep personal stuff, there’s not really a good resource. What happens when you type any of the following into the google: “How do I talk to a friend who has lost a spouse/child; what should I do with my career?; should I start a new business?

    You don’t really get anything helpful or productive.

    Sure, the answers to deep personal questions like these aren’t likely to come from an impersonal source. But your books and podcasts have a lot of the information people need to help them think through these questions.

    Here’s my suggestion: create an app that is effectively a comprehensive index of content from the podcast and books. Make the app searchable so that people can find/access it with questions such as:

    – How do I improve my workout?

    – I’m feeling lost; what techniques can get me back on track?

    – Best ways to address fears/anxiety?

    – How do I help a friend through a loss

    – etc.

    Machine learning can be applied to help improve refine the results from these questions in the app as it is tested/released.

    Questions that come up frequently/feedback from users will inform future podcasts and Tim projects (books, shows, etc.).

    You already have the content and probably the connection to build the technology. You have probably also already thought of this…but just in case, here’s one guy that would use it.

  9. I’m halfway through your book and I LOVE it. The only thing I’m missing is the ladies. There are highly successful women who are sometimes have to work so much harder to be accepted in order to succeed. I’m hoping I’ll see a lot more female representation in the last half of the book or future interviews. Again, thanks for the inspirational book.

  10. Read Tools of Titans and I loved it! I’m a HS teacher and a coach and love my job but never thought about ways to make more money off of what I already know and was doing. Read through several blog posts as well and it eventually inspired me to write a blog about Offensive Line on wordpress. From what I was expecting, I got a really good response from that. So a few weeks later I started a podcast. My podcast has been up almost 2 weeks now and I’m up over 1,300 plays which is something I never would have imagined. I leveraged that into getting commitments to do the podcast from Pro Bowl NFL players to SEC Network broadcasters by doing what you’ve talked about, finding their email at some of their affiliate sites and starting a relationship with them! I have had a blast learning about all of these new ways to help other football coach’s and like you say in your books, I use certain parts of my new “business” to learn more about football and make bigger name connections!

    I also recently went on the ketogenic diet in the last 6 months from listening to you and Joe Rogan and have lost 75 pounds.

    Just wanted to say thank you and that I appreciate what you are doing to help people like me out!! You’ve added me to one of our 1K true fans. Loved Tools of Titans and can’t wait till the audio for Tribe of Mentors comes out so I can listen to it during my workouts in the mornings.

  11. Does anyone know the book on effective meetings that Philippe von Borries referred to in Tim’s CreativeLive “4 Hour Life” video course? Phiippe could not recall the title during the interview and Tim offered to follow-up with that information. However, I didn’t see it listed in any of the CL course materials, nor in Tim’s books, nor in his blogs. Web searches also no luck. Thus my query here. I would greatly appreciate a response here if anyone has that information. Thank you.