Please enjoy this transcript of my second episode featuring Brené Brown, author of three #1 New York Times bestsellers and research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Transcripts may contain a few typos—with some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy!
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Tim Ferriss: [Speaking foreign language], my friends on the internet. This is Tim Ferriss and welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is my job to deconstruct world-class performers of all types to tease out the habits, routines, tactics, tools, favorite books, etc. that you can use. In this episode, we are going to do a highlight reel and invite back one of our guests who was a huge surprise hit – Brené Brown. Dr. Brené Brown (on Twitter @Brenebrown, Brenebrown.com) is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.
Brené’s 2010 TEDx Houston Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability” – you probably don’t associate that with me, but maybe you will by the end of this – has been viewed more than 31 million times and is one of the top 5 most-viewed TED Talks in the world. She has spent the past 13 years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Brené is the New York Times best selling author of Daring Greatly: The Gifts of Imperfection and Rising Strong. So this episode turned into a therapy session of sorts for me because I felt like I needed a lot of help related to topics she has explored.
I thought I would give you a sample of some of the highlights, the things that I apply to my own life and have revisited many times since and it includes my commentary. This is really a sample of a small profile in Tools of Titans, which is my new book. ToolsofTitans.com – you should check it out. That book does not have an audio edition. There are too many illustrations, exercises, all sorts of stuff throughout the book for that to be feasible right now. But I want to tease it. I was to give you a little Scooby snack.
So hopefully you get the text that is the hardcover or Kindle edition for yourself and all of your loved ones that you care about. Don’t leave them stranded, folks. That would be so callous and selfish of you. So please enjoy this distilled collection of highlights from Dr. Brené Brown, and there are some other goodies that follow that, but I will leave that a surprise for you to experience.
So please enjoy this Round 2 episode of highlights, action packed with Dr. Brené Brown.
Afraid and brave can co-exist.
Brené Brown: You know, this idea that we’re either courageous or we’re chicken shit is just not true because most of us are afraid and brave at the exact same moment all day long.
Tim Ferriss: My commentary: This reminded me of Cus D’Amato, who was Mike Tyson’s legendary first coach and was just a treasure trove of one-liners. But he used to tell his athletes the following before big fights: “The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs.” It’s the same thing – fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters. And he, in fact, coached Tyson to the [inaudible].
And Tyson, I believe, used to, in fact, get extremely sick before his fights, much like Dean Martin before big performances or any performances, up until the very end. Dean Martin, in fact, would vomit backstage. But Tyson would start off very afraid, in effect, and work himself up to the point that gradually by the time he proceeded to the ring, he believed he was himself, a God. I’m not recommending that necessarily, but the point being the hero and the coward feel the same thing. It’s what they do with that fear that makes them different.
Give discomfort its due. Do you have any ask or request for all the people listening?
Brené Brown: I would just say keep being part of the conversation about these tougher topics, about vulnerability, about shame, about being brave.
Just lean into some discomfort because I think these seemingly impossible problems that we have around race and homophobia and environment and just the lack of love sometimes are not going to be solved in a comfortable way. You have to choose comfort or courage. You just can’t have both. So I guess my ask would be more of a big metaphysical ask that you give vulnerability a shot and give discomfort its due because I think there is a really strong relationship between your willingness – he or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest, but rises the fastest.
Tim Ferriss: My commentary: For what it is worth, because thousands of people have highlighted this, one of the most common Kindle highlights from The Four-Hour Workweek is actually very complementary to this.
It is, “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” In fact, when I am perhaps vacillating between to-do items or wondering what the most important thing is on my to-do list, it is generally that which makes me the most uncomfortable.
When I had the opportunity, did I choose courage over comfort?
Brené actually flew under the radar for a very long time, until she came across Theodore Roosevelt’s, Teddy’s, famous arena quote and I’m just going to give you a piece of it here, and that is, “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 in shortcoming.”
There’s more to it, of course. She decided at that point to teach as a public figure, to step out of – not the shadows necessarily, but the corners – into the light, despite hurtful online comments and attacks.
Brené Brown: In that moment, what I realized is, you know what? I do want to live a brave life. I do want to live in the arena. If you’re going to live in the arena, the only guaranty is you will get your ass kicked. The second thing is that daring greatly is being vulnerable, so when you ask yourself, did I dare greatly today? The big question I ask is, did I, when I had the opportunity, did I choose courage over comfort?
Tim Ferriss: My commentary: This is a great question also for daily review. For instance, as part of the p.m. review using something like the 5-Minute Journal or other evening journal.
How that translates to more than 30 million video views.
Brené Brown: I went to the TED event and I experimented. I really kind of put myself out there. I talked about my own breakdown, spiritual awakening. I talked about having to go to therapy and how much I really hated that and kind of thought it was bullshit, but I felt like I had to do it. I really put myself out there. I remember driving home and thinking, “I will never do that again.”
Tim Ferriss: She then watched the popularity of her video absolutely explode. Now totaling more than 31 million views on Ted.com and YouTube.
Brené Brown: And so if I look back, so my learning, my take-away from that experience was this: If I’m not a little bit nauseous when I’m done, I probably did not show up like I should have shown up.
Tim Ferriss: One of her rules for public speaking – house lights.
Brené Brown: So when I rehearse in the traditional way we think about rehearsing, it’s about what I’m going to say and when I’m going to say it and how I’m going to say it. And so if I do that, what ends up happening – and I’ve tried it a couple times – I get so pre-frontal cortex, I get so wrapped up and oh, wasn’t I supposed to pause here and wasn’t I supposed to do this there? That I am not connecting. And so for me, it is use images as the arc, understand what every image means to me, and what I want to wrap around that image, and then require that the house lights are on so I can see people’s faces.
Tim Ferriss: That’s a good rule. That’s a really good rule.
Brené Brown: Yeah, so that thing where they’re – and I rarely allow any of my presentations to be videotaped. Very rarely. Because (1) if they’re taping you, you have to be super hot under the lights and the audience has to be dark, and then it’s performance, not connection for me.
Tim Ferriss: Shame versus guilt.
Brené Brown: And shame and guilt are very different. Shame is “I am a bad person.” Guilt is “I did something bad.” So you go out on Thursday night, you get wasted. You’re so hungover on Friday you sleep through your alarm clock, you miss a really important meeting, you get to work late on Friday and your self-talk is “Jesus, I’m a loser. I’m an idiot. I’m such a loser.” That’s shame. If you get to work on Friday, same scenario, and your self-talk is “Dude, I cannot believe I did that. That was such a lame thing to do. That was such a stupid thing to do.” The difference is, shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior.
Tim Ferriss: To be trusted, be vulnerable.
Brené Brown: It’s interesting that you talk about daily practices because I think vulnerability is a daily practice and for a lot of us, at least for me, when it was new, it was about trying on new ways of being and testing it out. One of the things that emerged from the data is this idea of trust and the relationship between trust and vulnerability. People always ask me, you gain trust first and then you’re vulnerable with people. But the truth is, you can’t really earn trust over time with people without being somewhat vulnerable.
Tim Ferriss: My commentary: You should also check out – and you can find all these episodes at fourhourworkweek.com/podcast, but Gabby Reece’s advice to go first, as well as Neil Strauss’ pre-interview approach. [Inaudible] in the text version and hopefully soon the audio version of Tools of Titans, so check that out.
Who do you think of when you hear the word successful?
Brené Brown: You know what’s so weird? I don’t picture anybody. I picture the word redefine. That has been such a dangerous word in my research, the word “successful” or “success.”
Tim Ferriss: I agree.
Brené Brown: That I don’t even use it anymore because what does that mean? Okay, so I am the CEO of this company, I make a shit ton of money, this is my title, this is the influence and power I have, I’m on my fourth marriage and no relationship with my adult children.
Tim Ferriss: Right.
Brené Brown: So I think when I hear the word “successful,” my answer is be clear that your ladder is leaning against the right building.
Tim Ferriss: Do you have any advice or what advice would you give to your 30-year-old self?
Brené Brown: It’s okay to be afraid. You don’t have to be so scary when you’re scared.
Tim Ferriss: Meaning what? Put on airs of confidence and over-confidence?
Brené Brown: Yes. Like the 30s are so exhausting. It’s like the age of perfecting, proving, pretending, and there’s some liberation, for me, that came in my 40s. There was a breakdown, of course, but followed by some liberation that came in my 40s. So I would just say stop hustling.
Tim Ferriss: And now we have a bonus for those of you who may be interested. This is the first chapter of Tools of Titans. It contains some good quotes, some of my favorites. It contains some background on me that you may not be familiar with, as well as some concepts and so on that you can apply without even reading the book, if you’re one of those bad people who’s not going to even consider it. So let’s jump right into it and start with some quotes.
“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 am a compulsive note taker. To wit, I have recorded nearly never workout since age 18 or so, roughly eight feet of shelf space in my home is occupied by spine upon spine of notebook upon notebook. That, mind you, is just one subject. It extends to dozens. Some people would call that OCD. A lot of my friends do. Many would consider it a manic, wild goose chase, but I view it simply. It is the collection of my life’s recipes. My goal is to learn things once so that I can use them forever. For example, let’s say I stumble upon a picture of myself from June 5th, 2007 and I think, “I really wish I looked like that again.”
Well, no problem. I crack open a dusty volume for 2007, review the eight weeks of training and food logs preceding June 5, repeat them and voila, I end up looking nearly the same as my younger self, minus the hair probably.
It’s not always that easy, but it often is. Tools of Titans, like my other books, is a compendium of recipes for high performance that I gathered for my own use. This is very important. It was to scratch my own itch. There’s one big difference though. I never planned on publishing this one. As I write this, I’m sitting in a café in Paris overlooking the Luxembourg Garden, just off of Rue St. Jacques. Rue St. Jacques is likely the oldest road in Paris and it has a very rich literary history. Victor Hugo lived a few blocks from where I’m sitting. Gertrude Stein drank coffee. F. Scott Fitzgerald socialized within a stone’s throw.
Hemingway himself wandered up and down the sidewalks, his books percolating in his mind. Wine, no doubt, percolating in his blood. I came to France to take a break from everything. Everything. By that, I mean no social media, no email, no social commitments, no set plans, except for one project. The month had been set aside to review all of the lessons I’d learned from nearly 200 world-class performers I’d interviewed on The Tim Ferriss Show, my podcast, which is now more than 100 million downloads.
The guests included chess prodigies, movie stars, four-star generals, pro athletes and hedge fund managers, just to name a few. It’s a broad spectrum and it was a motley crew. More than a handful of them have since become collaborators in business and creative projects spanning from investments to indie film. As a result, I’d absorbed a lot of their wisdom outside of our recordings, whether they were workouts, wine-infused jam sessions, text message exchanges, dinners, or late-night phone calls. In every case, I’d gotten to know them well beyond the superficial headlines in the media.
My life had already improved in every area as a result of the lessons I could remember, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of the jams were still lodged in thousands upon thousands of pages of transcripts. I literally mean 10,000+ pages of transcripts and hand-scribbled notes, because of all that I’d learned outside of the recordings. More than anything, I longed for the chance to distill everything into a playbook.
So I’d set aside an entire month for review and if I’m being honest, lots of chocolate croissants to put together the ultimate Cliff Notes for myself. It would be the notebook to end all notebooks, something that could help me in minutes and be read for a lifetime. That was the lofty goal at least and I wasn’t sure what the result would be exactly. But within weeks of starting, the experience exceeded all expectations. No matter the situation I found myself in, something in this book, meaning Tools of Titans, was able to help.
Now, when I’m feeling stuck, trapped, desperate, angry, conflicted, or simply unclear, the first thing I do is flip through these pages with a strong cup of coffee in hand. So far, the needed medicine has popped out within about 20 minutes of revisiting these friends, who will now become your friends. You need a reassuring pat on the back? There’s someone for that. An unapologetic slap in the face? Plenty of people for that too. Someone to explain why your fears are unfounded or why your excuses are bullshit?
Done. Plenty of people to help. There are a lot of powerful quotes, but this book is much more than a compilation of quotes. It is a toolkit for changing your life because there are many books full of interviews. This is different because I don’t view myself as an interviewer. I view myself as an experimenter. If I can’t test something or replicate results in the messy reality of everyday life, I’m just not interested. Everything in these pages has been vetted, explored, and applied to my own life in some fashion. I’ve used dozens of these tactics and philosophies in high-stakes negotiations, high-risk environments or large business dealings.
The lessons have made me millions of dollars and saved me years of wasted effort and frustration. They work when you need them most. Some applications are obvious at first glance, while others are subtle and will provoke something like a “Holy shit, now I get it” realization weeks later, while you’re daydreaming in the shower or about to fall asleep. Many of the one-liners teach volumes.
Some summarize excellence in an entire field in one sentence. As Josh Waitzkin, chess prodigy and the inspiration behind Searching for Bobby Fisher might put it, these bite-sized learnings are a way to “learn the macro from the micro.” The process of piecing them together was revelatory for me. If I thought I saw The Matrix before, I was mistaken or I was only seeing 10 percent of it. Still, even that 10 percent, these islands of notes on individual mentors had already changed my life and helped me 10X my results. But after revisiting more of them, 100 minds as part of the same fabric, things got very interesting very quickly.
For the movie nerds among you, it was like the end of The Sixth Sense or The Usual Suspects. “The red doorknob!” “The fucking Kobayashi coffee cup! How did I knot notice that it was right in front of me the whole time?” Well, that’s how I felt. Some piecing together patterns that sometimes occurred a year and a half, two years apart. To help you see the same, I’ve done my best to weave patterns together throughout the book, noting where guests have complementary habits, beliefs and recommendations. The completed jigsaw puzzle is much greater than the sum of its parts.
So what makes these people different? Well, we’ll start with a quote. “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” That is Pierre-Marc-Gaston Lévis. I don’t know how to pronounce the French, despite my time in Paris. I’ve been trying. These world-class performers do not have superpowers. Very important. The rules they’ve crafted for themselves allow the bending of reality to such an extent that it may seem that way, but they’ve learned how to do this and so can you. These rules are often simply uncommon habits and bigger questions.
In a surprising number of cases, the power is in the absurd. The more absurd, the more impossible seeming the question, the more profound the answers. Take, for instance, a question that serial billionaire Peter Thiel likes to ask himself and others. “If you have a ten-year plan of how to get somewhere, you should ask why can’t you do this in six months?” Okay, so back to me.
For purposes of illustration, I might reword that – and I often do to myself – what might you do to accomplish your ten-year goals in the next six months if you had a gun against your head? Now, let’s pause for a second. Do I expect you to take ten seconds to ponder this and then magically accomplish ten years’ worth of dreams in the next few months? No, I don’t expect that. But I do expect that the question will productively break your mind. Like a butterfly shattering a chrysalis to emerge with new capabilities.
In other words, the normal systems that you have in place, the social rules that you forced upon yourself, the standard frameworks, all of your assumptions that you’ve carried with you, they don’t work when answering a question like this. You’re forced to shed artificial constraints and you realize that you’ve had the ability to renegotiate reality all along. In many cases, and you’ll come up with a list of different options, maybe 90 percent of them are completely worthless, but it is the 10 percent that could completely change your life and business. All of this just takes practice. My suggestion is that you spend real time with the questions you find the most ridiculous in this book.
Thirty minutes of stream of consciousness journaling, which I detail more on page 224, could change your life completely. On top of that, while the world is a gold mine, you need to go digging in other people’s heads to unearth riches. Questions are your pickaxes and competitive advantage. This book will give you an arsenal of questions to choose from. Performance-enhancing details, that’s the subheading. When organizing all of this material for myself, I didn’t want an onerous 37-step program or something like that. I wanted low-hanging fruit with immediate returns.
Think of the bite-sized rules within these pages as PEDs. That usually stands for “performance-enhancing drugs,” but here it stands for performance-enhancing details. They can be added to any training regimen, so just think different careers, personal preferences, unique responsibilities, etc. to pour gasoline on the fire of progress. So, whether you have a mortgage and a bunch of kids or no mortgage and no kids, all of these or many of them can be applied to your unique situation.
Fortunately, 10X results don’t always require 10X effort. Big changes can come in very small packages to dramatically change things for you. You don’t necessarily need to run a 100-mile race, get a Ph.D. or completely reinvent yourself. It’s the small things, the very small things done consistently that are the big things. For instance, practicing red teaming once per quarter. As, say, a General Stanley McChrystal or Mark Andreesen might more often. You could listen to Tara Brach’s guided meditations, like Maria Popova does and credits it with changing her life.
Specifically, the 2010 smile meditation by Tara Brach, which you can find online for free. Strategic fasting or exogenous ketones. These are things that do not take a lot of effort whatsoever and you can test them very quickly. You can test them tomorrow. You can test them this week and then you throw a lot against the wall and you figure out quickly what works for you. Tool here, as in Tools of Titans, is defined very broadly in this book.
It includes routines, books, common self-talk, supplements, favorite questions and a lot more. What do these people have in common? Well, in this book, you’re naturally look for common habits and recommends and you should do that. Here are a few patterns, some of them odder than others. More than 80 percent of the interviewees have some form of daily mindfulness or meditation practice, so we talk about a lot of different options. A surprising number of males, not females, over 45 never eat breakfast or eat just one meal per day.
That includes Laird Hamilton, the undisputed king of big wave surfing, General Stanley McChrystal, and so on. There are probably a dozen or more examples of that. Many use the chilly pad device for cooling at bedtime to find their optimal sleeping temperature. Rave reviews of books like Sapiens, Poor Charlie’s Almanac, Influence, and Man’s Search for Meaning, among others.
There are some very odd documentaries that pop up repeatedly as a favorite, including many I’d never heard of. Here’s a new one: the habit of listening to a single song on repeat for focus, almost like an external mantra. Nearly everyone has done some form of spec work. They’ve completed projects on their own time and dime and then submitted them to prospective buyers. The belief, of course, the loss of use and foundational beliefs are tools that failure is not durable, or variants thereof. Robert Rodriquez. Robert Rodriquez is a good example of that.
Almost every guest has been able to take obvious weaknesses, weaknesses they’ve been told are weaknesses, and turned them into hue competitive advantages. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be one example. Dan Carlin, who is the creative of my favorite podcast, Hardcore History, would even say copyright your faults. He goes into the entire story of how he did that in radio leading up to podcasting. Now, of course, I will try to help you connect all of these dots, spot these types of patterns.
But that’s less than half of the value of everything that we’ll discuss. Some of the most encouraging workarounds are found in the outliers. It’s very important to look for the outliers and not throw out the baby with the bathwater, just because they seem odd. I want you to look for the black sheep who fit your unique idiosyncrasies. Keep an eye out for the nontraditional paths, like Shay Carl’s journal from manual laborer to YouTube star, to co-founder of a start-up sold for nearly a billion dollars. The variation is the consistency. As a software engineer might say, “That’s not a bug. That’s a feature.”
So borrow liberally, combine uniquely and create your own bespoke blueprint. That is how this works. All right. Now the following that I’m going to read is specific to the book, but it’s not specific to the book. It actually applies to a lot more. So first of all, this book is a buffet and here’s how to get the most of it. It’s a 704-page book, but I don’t expect anyone to read the entire thing.
In fact, if you were to only read 100 pages and pick your favorites and dip in and dip out, that’s how it’s designed – like a choose-your-own-adventure book – I would be thrilled. So Rule No. 1: skip liberally. I want you to skip anything that doesn’t grab you. It should be fun to read and you shouldn’t suffer through anything. If you hate shrimp, don’t eat the goddamned shrimp in the buffet. Skip it. My goal is for each reader to like 50 percent of the book, love 25 percent of the book, and never forget 10 percent. Here’s why. For the millions who’ve heard the podcasts and the dozens who’ve proofread this book, that split was completely different for every person. It blew me away.
I’ve had multiple guests in this book, people who are the best at what they do, proofread the exact same profile for me, answering the question of which 10 percent would you absolutely keep and which 10 percent would you absolutely cut? Oftentimes, the 10 percent must keep of one Titan was exactly the must cut of someone else.
So this not one-size-fits-all. I expect you to discard plenty, so you should read what you enjoy. Rule No. 2, and this applies to a lot more than this book: skip, but do so intelligently. So take a brief mental note of anything you skip. Perhaps put a little dot in the corner of the page or highlight the headline. Could it be that skipping and glossing over precisely these topics or questions has created blind spots, bottlenecks and unresolved issues in your life? That was certainly true for me.
When I looked at what I was habitually skipping, it reminded me of a question from Tara Brach, which relayed the question of a mystic, who said “There’s really only one question worth asking. What is it that you are unwilling to feel?” If you decide to flip past something, note it, return to it later at some point and ask, “Why did I skip this?” For instance, did it offend you? Did it seem beneath you? Seem too difficult? Did you arrive at that by thinking it through yourself or is it a reflection of biases inherited from your parents, family, friends, and others? Very often, our so-called believes are not our own at all.
This type of practice is how you create yourself instead of seeking to discover yourself. There is value in the latter, this discovery, but it’s mostly past-tense. It’s a rearview mirror. Looking out the windshield is how you get where you want to go. Now, just remember two principles. This applies to much more than this book. I was recently standing in Place Louis Argonne. I don’t know if I’m saying that correctly, but I’ll give it a shot. It’s a shaded outdoor nook on the River Seine, having a picnic with writing students from the Paris-American Academy.
One woman pulled me aside, glass of wine in hand, and asked what I hoped to convey in this book at its core. Now, seconds later, we were pulled back into the fray as the attendees were 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 or 40 years, but assuming it was impossible. I listened to their stories and I was struck by a few things.
I pulled out a scrap of paper and I jotted down my answer to her question. I remember that was, “What did I hope to convey in this book at the core?” I decided that I wanted to convey the following: two principles. No. 1, success, however you define that, 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? Well, that is not an out. There are still recipes.
Look at empire building of other types. Look at the biggest decisions in the life of Robert Moses, for instance. If you read The Power Broker, another fantastic book. Or simply find someone who stepped up to do great things that were deemed impossible at the time, like Walt Disney. Many of the people in the book actually have done a lot of reading on Walt Disney, like Marc Andreesen. Even if they’re at the cutting edge of technology today, which Walt Disney was in his time? There is shared DNA that you can borrow.
Principle No. 2: The superheroes that you have in your mind, those might be idols, icons, titans, billionaires, whoever, are nearly all walking flaws who’ve maximized one or two strengths. Humans are imperfect creatures and I really want to remedy the problem of people romanticizing those folks you might see on magazine covers and putting them on a pedestal. 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 excruciatingly crystal clear, I’ve deliberately included two sections in this book on pages 197 and 616, that will make you think to yourself, wow, Tim Ferriss is a mess.
How the hell does he ever get anything done? Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about, so I wanted to tell you about some of mine and what my down days look like, my bad days, and some of my darkest periods and how I get out of them. The heroes in this book are no different. Everyone struggles, so take solace in that.
Now, the next section is on format. I’m not going to talk a lot about it because it’s really more relevant when you’re going through the text. But there’s a lot of humor. I play on a lot of patterns and there’s a lot of original material. The book is comprised of three sections: healthy, wealthy and wise. It’s a nod to Ben Franklin and on top of that, it’s actually a very clean way to organize the advice from all these people. Of course, there’s tremendous overlap across the sections, as all of these are interdependent. In fact, you could think of the three as a tripod upon which life is balanced.
One needs all three: healthy, wealthy, and wise – health, wealth, and wisdom, to have any sustained success or happiness. Wealthy in the context of this book also means a lot more than money. It extends to abundance in time, relationships and more. My original intention with The Four-Hour Workweek, The Four-Hour Body, The Four-Hour Chef, was to create a trilogy themed, like I mentioned, after Ben Franklin’s famous quote: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” even though I don’t really wake up that early.
People constantly ask me, what would you put in The Four-Hour Workweek if you were to write it again? How would you update it? They ask me the same thing for The Four-Hour Body and The Four-Hour Chef. Tools of Titans is, in effect, my answers for all three. So you could think of Tools of Titans as the follow-up, the sequel to all three books at once. Okay, we’ll wrap it up shortly here. So my send-off to you: the three tools that allow all the rest. I’m going to do a little trial run of acting as audiobook narrator in this one with trying to voice different characters. We’ll see how that goes. All right. Here we go.
So Siddhartha, by Herman Hess, is recommended by many guests in this book. There’s one takeaway that Naval Ravikant, who is one of the most successful entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley, quietly dominating many aspects of that entire game and really sort of a philosopher king in his own domain in a lot of respects.
He would never say that, but I will. He is reinforced with me several times – by the way, side note: when my Jamie Foxx episode won podcast of the year in 2015, second place was Naval Ravikant, a name that almost nobody knew. Just based on the caliber and quality of the content that he talked about and discussed and shared in that episode, so he’s an incredible guy. But he’s reinforced with me, personally, several times on our long walks, a story and the protagonist, Siddhartha, a monk who looks like a beggar, is that he’s come to the city and he falls in love with a famous courtesan named Kamala.
He attempts to court her and she asks, “What do you have?” A well-known merchant similarly asks, “What can you give that you have learned?” His answer is the same in both cases, so I’ve included the latter story here. Siddhartha usually acquires all that he wants, okay? That’s critical. He starts off with very humble beginnings.
Now, here we go, let’s try this out. All right. I’m going to tell you who’s talking first.
Merchant: If you are without possessions, how can you give?
Siddhartha: Everyone gives what he has. The soldier gives strength, the merchant gives goods, the teacher instruction, the farmer rice, the fisherman fish.
Merchant: Well, very well. And what can you give? What have you learned that you can give?
Siddhartha: I can think, I can wait, I can fast.
Merchant: Is that all?
Siddhartha: I think that is all.
Merchant: And what use are they? For instance, fasting? What good is that?
(I don’t know why I’m making him from New Jersey, but that’s okay.)
Siddhartha: It is of great value, sir. If a man has nothing to eat, fasting is the most intelligent thing he can do. For instance, if Siddhartha had not learned to fast, he would have had to seek some kind of work today, either from you or elsewhere, for hunger would have driven him. But as it is, Siddhartha can wait calmly. He is not impatient. He is not in need. He can ward off hunger for a long time and laugh at it.
Okay, that’s the end of that exchange. And back to Tim here. I think of Siddhartha’s answers often and in the following terms. I can think. What does that mean? Because you’ll recall, he was asked what can he give? What can he teach? What can he give? I can think, I can wait, I can fast. All right. I can think. This means having good rules for decision making and having good questions you can ask yourself and others. I can wait. To means to me being able to play the long-game. Plan long-term and not misallocate your resources. I can fast.
This means, to me, being able to withstand difficulties and disaster. It means training yourself to be uncommonly resilient and to have a high pain tolerance. This book will help you to develop all three of these things in spades. I created Tools of Titans because it’s the book that I’ve wanted my entire life.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed writing it. I close off with, “Pura Vida” from the land of Costa Rica, of course, “Pura Vida,” signed, Tim Ferriss, Paris, France. So thank you for listening to that, folks. I suggest, I implore, I would so much enjoy if you would check out Tools of Titans. It is available everywhere. You can find sample chapters at toolsoftitans.com, including the forward by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Please consider it for yourself and for those you care about.
It is extremely extensive and easy to read. It’s fun. It’s the first book that I’ve enjoyed writing. So there you have it. Toolsoftitans.com. It’s also available at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Amazon, iBooks, Indie Bound, Indigo, everywhere. So as always, and until next time guys, thank you for listening.
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