The Problem With Tim Ferriss’ Tools Of Titans Book

The following is a guest post from Joe Thomsett. Joe is an SME business advisor and blogger at; a business, decision-making and mindset blog. Feel free to connect with Joe on LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter.

Shit. A negative blog title about a Tim Ferriss piece of work.

Shut.The.Front.Door. (hears the hoards of fans approaching in angry unison!)

Please, Tim Ferriss fans, bear with me. We’ll get there together, I promise.

The truth is, I loved the content in the book “Tools of Titans.” Read that again, angry mob, I loved the content (heart rate dips from explosive). In fact, if you haven’t bought the book, why not? The content alone is worth it.

And breathe.

And In general, I love Tim’s work. In fact, his first book, the “4-Hour Work Week,” was completely eye-opening to me at the time of reading. The concepts were brilliant, the structure well thought out. Great work.

His podcast is insane. The variety of world class performers incredible. People like personal development guru Tony Robbins, legendary obstacle racer Amelia Boone, author and educator Seth Godin, and award winning actor and musician Jamie Foxx.

So why the blog title?

Because there is a problem. A structural one.

I’ll come back to it.

First, let me stress again, the content alone is more than worth the purchase price. When you have Tony Robbins telling you the importance of priming your state into a positive one before solving problems, you know you’re onto a winner:

“In a lowered emotional state, we only see 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 but didn’t succeed, and 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 on strategy, as you’ll see the options instead of dead ends.”

By the way, the quote above came from ‘Wealthy’ section in the book. There are two other sections, ‘Healthy’ and ‘Wise’. All listed by podcast guest.

And here we have the problem. The thing you’ve all been waiting for. The drop the mic and walk away moment:

We have no way to search the book thematically. There’s no way to search the book!

What do I mean?

Well within all three sections, there are hundreds of sub topics covering exercise, fasting, success, performance, decision-making, problem-solving, and much, much more. With over a hundred guests, all world class at what they do, of course there are a shit ton of topics covered.

And if this is a recipe book of sorts, how do I find the recipes? As a disgruntled Amazon reviewer wrote:

“If I want to bake an apple pie, I go to the Table of Contents, I look up apple pie, I turn to that page. You cannot do that in this book.”

I’m not a fan of apple pie, but I agree with the premise (To any apple pie fans, please don’t take it personally, I can only handle one angry mob at a time).

And it’s a terrible shame, because there are tidbits of advice in this book that are worth the purchase price alone.

Things like Josh Waitzkin telling us to ‘Just Go Around’ for life, that thematic thinking is one of the most important disciplines that any of us can cultivate.

Things like Robert Rodriguez telling us to live a creative life. That ‘when you put creativity in everything, everything becomes available to you.’

Things like Derek Sivers telling us that being busy is equal to being out of control. That if you find yourself using the busy excuse, it’s time to re-examine your systems and goals.

Really, really wonderful, sage bits of advice.


You need a way to store it. To link it together. To better absorb it.

A Common Place Book of sorts. Something Ryan Holiday stresses the importance of, something I’ve written about before. If you can’t hang your hat off of a latticework of models, connecting the things you’ve learned together, chances are you will forget it all.

And that’s the problem with the book, in it’s current form. There is no latticework to hang your hat.

So create your own notes system. Mark up the book. Take long hand notes on index cards. Put everything in Evernote and index it. Whatever works for you. But if you’re going to get something from the book (and there is so much to get), you need a way to categorize and recall it.

I’ve made a notes system and you can find it here.

It costs $7. That’s right, for the price of a Starbucks Latte and Double Berry Muffin you get to 10x your performance.

So buy the book, for god sake buy the book. If you don’t, you’re missing out. And spend hundreds of hours meticulously noting and categorizing the work by keyword. Or use mine. Whatever works for you.


[Ryan’s Note: In case it wasn’t clear. Essentially, what Joe has done is spent HOURS (more than 100) very deliberately extracting and archiving 200 of the most actionable insights from the thought leaders featured in “Tools of Titans.” He didn’t stop there. He’s built a system in which you can search these insights by keyword. For example, if you searched “mindfulness” within his system, you would get directed to a table of contents featuring all the notes on mindfulness. There, you might stumble onto “5 morning rituals that help you win the day.”

Those of you familiar with this blog know I think it’s imperative to get smarter every day. You also know that one of the best ways to do that is by reading and, more importantly, connecting and applying the insights acquired. In this case, with Tim Ferriss’ “Tools of Titans,” Joe has done all the hard work for you. And that’s why I invited him to share his system with you. His system is a great companion to the book, but even if you don’t read the book it’s worth $7 — provided that you use it and apply the insights to your life. I don’t receive a commission or any affiliate income, by the way. This is just my effort to bring something unique and valuable to all of you.]


This blog started primarily as a marketing blog, but now features much more about work/life, social psychology, health and happiness. We also explore top performers (like the hundreds featured in Tim’s new book) and dissect what we can take away to become top performers in our own work and personal lives.

If that interests you, consider subscribing below or by clicking here (especially if you’re reading via RSS).