10 Tools I Have Learned from the Titans

by @deanyeong | Sign up to weekly newsletter here

I love woodworking. I haven’t got the opportunity to build my own furniture or my own house yet, but I fairly enjoy watching some woodworking videos on YouTube when during the incubation time for creative works.

Most of them have tools to make their work easier, simpler, or faster. For most of us who don’t have the access to those advanced tools, it’s hard to replicate their work. Anyway, most of them are professional carpenters, we aren’t

However, every single one of us wants to perform better at work. And almost every single one on this planet wants to live a better life. And we need tools to do that. These are not tools that help you in making your coffee table or building your tiny house, but tools from many titans in life that help you transform your health, improve your work performance, and increase your wealth.

Recently, Tim Ferriss launched his latest book called Tools of Titans. It’s a huge book packed with tactics and routines of over 100+ iconic people on this planet that help them to achieve that. I don’t know every single person in the book, however, there are numerous icons I have been following for a long time such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Robbins, Noah Kagan, Casey Neistat, and Malcolm Gladwell.

This book is not meant to be read by page to page. As Tim mentioned in the How to Use This Book section, skip, and skip intelligently. I did that, here are the tools I have learned from this book.

Tools – Ideas, Techniques, Insights, and Wisdom

So, here it goes. I’m going to write them in point form to make it easier to read. As usual, what I’m writing here can never represent everything in the book due to confirmation bias and prejudgment. I highly recommend you to explore it yourself to pick up more insight and wisdom in it. And when you do, please share them with me.

Before you dive into this, I like to clarify that parts of these insights come directly from the book and parts come from my personal experience with materials (books, videos, podcasts, courses, and seminars) these iconic people published.

Arnold Schwarzenegger on having total confidence for things you do

If you have a very clear vision of where you want to go, the rest of it is much easier. Because you always know why you are training 5 hours a day, you always know why you are pushing and going through the pain barrier, and why you have to eat more, and why you have to struggle more, and why you have to be more disciplined. When you have the clear vision, you don’t get into something to compete, you get into something to win.

Christopher Sommer on working on your weaknesses

When in doubt, work on the deficiencies you’re most embarrassed by. You’re not responsible for the hand of cards you were dealt, you’re responsible for maxing out what you were given. Besides, he also talks about consistency over intensity, which is something I can relate to because I took one of the training programs by Gymnastic Bodies. In GST (Gymnastic Strength Training), there are surprising stair steps after long periods of zero progress. Coach Christopher Sommer constantly reminds that certain adaptations take weeks or months of consistent stimuli. If you rush, the reward is injuries.

Tony Robbins on priming your emotional state

Tony believes that, in a lowered emotional state, we only the problems, not solutions. Let’s say you wake up feeling tired and overwhelmed. You sit down to brainstorm strategies to solve your issues, but it comes to naught, and you feel even worse afterward. This is because you started in a negative state, then attempted strategy didn’t succeed, and then likely told yourself self-defeating stories. To fix this, he encourages you to “prime” your state first. The biochemistry will help you proactively tell yourself an enabling story. Only then do you think of strategy, as you’ll see the options instead of dead ends.

Casey Neistat on work ethic and hard work

“You realize that you will never be the best-looking person in the room. You’ll never be the smartest person in the room. You’ll never be the most educated, the most well-versed. You can never compete on those levels. But what you can always compete on, the true egalitarian aspect to success, is hard work. You can always work harder than the next guy.”

Noah Kagan on improving tools at the “top of the funnel”

I first get to know about Noah Kagan from Appsumo and his online course – Monthly1K. However, this tool has nothing to do about those. I like this idea because it’s so simple and easy to implement that most of us overlook. Aim to optimize upstream items that have cascading results downstream. For instance, look for technical bottlenecks or choke points that affect nearly everything you do on a computer. What are the things that, if defunct or slow, render your to-do list useless? Here are two of Noah’s simple recommendations that I personally think is interesting (and being mentioned in the book):

  • Increase the speed of your track/mouse pad.
  • Invest in the best router you can afford.

Malcolm Gladwell on asking dumb questions

In the book, Malcolm mentioned that he learned to ask questions from this father. “My father has zero intellectual insecurities… It has never crossed his mind to concerned that the world thinks he’s an idiot. He’s not in that game. So if he doesn’t understand something, he just asks you. He doesn’t care if he sounds foolish. He will ask the most obvious question without any sort of concern about it.”

Seth Godin on generating good ideas

This is an idea I strongly believe in and constantly implementing on my writing and business. People who have trouble coming up good ideas, if they’re telling you the truth, will tell you they don’t have very many bad ideas. But people who have plenty of good ideas, if they’re telling you the truth, will say they have even more bad ideas. So the goal isn’t to get good ideas; the goal is to get bad ideas. Because once you get enough bad ideas, then some good ones have to show up.

Wim “The Iceman” Hof on the benefits of cold exposure

I started my cold shower routine after learning about it. Surprisingly, Wim Hof, surfing king Laird Hamilton, Tony Robbins, and many other top athletes all use cold exposure as a tool. It can improve immune function, increase fat loss (partially by increasing levels of the hormone adiponectin), and dramatically elevate mood. In fact, Van Gogh was prescribed cold baths twice daily in a psychiatric ward after severing his own fear.

“All the problems I have in the daily world subside when I do [cold exposure]. Exposing myself to the worthy cold… it is a great cleaning purifying force.”

Ramit Sethi on charging premium prices

I can’t really remember when and how I get to know about “I Will Teach You to Be Rich”, but I can remember how I was hooked to Ramit’s content after google “I Will Teach You to Be Rich”. I love his business approach where Ramit give away 98% of his material for free and, then, many of his flagship courses are extremely expensive. In fact, 10 to 100 times what his competitors charge. Tim Ferris mirrored this approach too, and it helps him to reduce the obsession over selling his content because he never has to. At the same time, this also helps Tim to build his network.

Kevin Kelly on acknowledging your bottom-line

“One of the many life skills that you want to learn at a fairly young age is the skill of being ultra-thrifty, minimal kind of little wisp that’s traveling through time … in the sense of learning how little you actually need to live, not just in a survival mode, but in a contented more. … That gives you the confidence to take a risk.”

I first learned about this from Ellon Musk on how he live with as little as $1 a day. I always keep a budget that I called the Ramen budget to gain clarity on how far I can actually go.

Two Final Thoughts

This 10-list is a few people who I have been following before reading Tools of Titans. If you have been reading my materials for sometimes, you should notice their part of them are living in my writing style, my words, and my thoughts. There are two additional pieces of wisdom Tim mentioned in the book.

(1) All high achievers ask better questions. For an example, “If you have a 10-year plan to get somewhere, why can’t you get there in 6 months?” This is one question asked by Peter Thiel. Tim pointed out that this is not a question for you to ponder and figure it out in 10 minutes. This kind of questions productively break your mind, to answer them, you have to remove the limiting beliefs and behavioral frames you set for yourself.

(2) I can think, I can wait, I can fast. Tim said this is the rule that enables all the tools in the book, this makes every idea and strategy possible. I can think means having good rules for decision-making, and the abilities to ask yourself and others good questions; I can wait stands for patience, the ability to plan long-term and play the long game; I can fast stand for being able to withstand difficulties and disasters, it means training your resilience to face the adversities and challenges on the road to greatness.

Dean Yeong

Writer. Reader. Lifting weights & drinking coffee.