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Steve Alvest


Lessons from the Titans

This list is reposted from a 2021 blog post at my website Shock Notes...

Tim Ferriss hosts one of the most popular podcasts on the internet. He interviews the world’s top performers in many disciplines including investing, sports, business, art, etc. to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use. Past guests include Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger, General Stanley McChrystal, Tony Robbins, and many more. To date, he has interviewed more than 200 world-class talents. His book, Tools of Titans, is a compilation of lessons and insights from the first two hundred or so interview guests. It is a wealth of information. I recently finished reading the book, which is over 700 pages long. Here is just a sampling of my takeaways:


    1. Jamie Foxx stays in shape by performing a morning workout routine every other day

    He does 15 pull-ups, 50 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 15 more pull-ups with a different grip, 50 more push-ups, 10 more pull-ups using the first grip, then finally 10 more pull-ups using the second grip. That’s a total of 50 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, and 100 sit-ups.

    2. Self-help lessons have inspired many top-performers from an early age

    Tim Ferriss read Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins while he was in high school. A 3-hour Jim Rohn seminar was a significant influence on Tony Robbins when he was 17. Warren Buffett had said that his all-time best investment was a Dale Carnegie public speaking course that he took when he was 20 years old.

    3. Former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink has the motto, “discipline equals freedom.”

    It seems paradoxical, but adding constraints to your life can help guide you towards a definite purpose. You can achieve financial freedom, more free time to do what you want, and better health by taking a disciplined approach.

    4. A common theme among many of the guests was that they meditate

    Arnold Schwarzenegger claims that doing lots of meditation for a year gave him benefits for life. Not everyone meditates the same way. Meditation takes the form of any activity where you pause in silence, take a step back, and work things out in your head.

    5. When deciding what areas of life to develop, start with the deficiencies you’re most embarrassed by

    Are you too embarrassed to wear a bathing suit in public because you feel too fat? Work on that. Are you embarrassed by your social ineptness? Work on that. On the flipside, you should also recognize your talents and develop them to their full potential. As gymnastics coach Christopher Sommer puts it, “You’re not responsible for the hand of cards you were dealt. You’re responsible for maxing out what you were given.”

    6. How do you get an idea worth pursuing?

    Come up with lots of ideas. Bad ideas. Because, as Seth Godin puts it, “once you get enough bad ideas, then some good ones have to show up.” Once you get a good idea, share it with ten people who already trust and like you. Then Godin further instructs, “If they don’t tell anybody else, it’s not that good and you should start over. If they do tell other people, you’re on your way.”

    7. Dr. Dom D’Agostino makes compelling claims that regular fasting and a ketogenic diet can prevent cancer and keep your body healthy

    He also suggests that fasting can aid treatment of existing cancer by strengthening healthy cells and sensitizing cancerous cells to chemo treatment.

    8. Strength coach Charles Poliquin offers several interesting tips

    A herb called gotu kola helps your body get rid of stretch marks and loose skin. Taking magnesium can help regulate insulin levels and has anti-aging effects. The best way to increase testosterone is to lower cortisol levels in the body.

    9. Morning routines are the foundation to the success of many of the people interviewed

    Jocko Willink swears by the habit of waking up every morning at 4:45 AM. Tim Ferriss suggests five morning rituals: make your bed, meditate, exercise, tea, and journaling.

    10. Think big

    What’s your crazy idea? Why not go for it? Peter Diamandis says, “The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities.” The surest way to become a millionaire is to help a million people. Don’t think incremental improvements. Go big. Diamandis says, “when you’re going 10% bigger, you’re competing against everybody. Everybody’s trying to go 10% bigger. When you’re trying to go 10 times bigger, you’re there by yourself.”

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