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Tools of Titans

by Tim Ferriss
clock14-minute read
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Tools of Titans
Top tips for life from the world’s top performers. Have you ever wondered what makes the world’s most successful people so successful? How do they stand out from the crowd? Tools of Titans (2016) is an anthology of interviews with some of the world’s most powerful billionaires, thinkers, and visionaries. By analyzing their success stories and the strategies that made them great, Tim Ferris has crafted a practical guidebook of life advice from the best of the best.
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Tools of Titans
"Tools of Titans" Summary
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Summary by Alyssa Burnette. Audiobook narrated by Alex Smith
Do you ever feel like you’re sleep-walking through your life? It’s easy to go through the motions of waking up, going to work, eating, and sleeping, only to find yourself wondering where all the time went and what you did with your day. And the worst part is that for most of us, this cycle repeats on a seemingly endless loop forever. Are you tired of that? Do you ever find yourself wondering what it would be like if your life had turned out differently? If you had a job that you enjoy? If any of these feelings sound like something you’ve experienced, then it’s time for a radical change! It’s time to feel the way you do when your iPhone is at 100%: like you’re fully charged and ready to go! That’s why, through the course of this summary, we’re going to explore the mindset that all successful people have in common and how you can cultivate this mindset in your own life.
Chapter 1: Extreme Health Tips
Are you a fan of extreme sports? High-intensity obstacle courses aren’t for everyone, but for Amelia Boone, they’re a piece of cake! You’re probably familiar with Amelia Boone thanks to her reputation as “The Queen of Pain.” The ultra-marathon runner acquired this nickname due to her long and industrious career as one of the most intense obstacle runners in history. Over the course of her career, she’s garnered more than 50 podiums and 30 victories in obstacle racing. And that’s not even counting her most notable victories which include being declared:
3x winner of the World's Toughest Mudder (2012, 2014, 2015)
Spartan Race World Champion 2013
Spartan Race Points Series Champion (2013 & 2015)
3x Death Race Finisher (Winter 2012, Summer 2012, Summer 2013)
As you’ve probably gathered from these stats, “tough” is Amelia’s middle name! So, how does the world’s toughest runner stay in shape? In an interview with health and adventure publication Outside Online, Amelia listed a few of her favorite top tips for health, covering everything from diet to exercise. For example, she remarked that, “I have really bought into the hype and the science behind beets. I remember the first time I ever had beet juice—it just tastes like death, like dirt. But you feel this weird head rush after drinking it, and it delivers the nitric oxide to help with breathing during training. So I think for endurance athletes, it helps with breathing and keeping the heart rate low.” She also references the power of turmeric and bone broth for joint health and recovery from high-intensity endurance events.
With regard to her training routine, she affirmed, “I always try to train in less than ideal conditions if I can, because I think that adds a lot—it’s super easy to go out for a run when it’s 70 degrees and sunny. But when I was living in Chicago, if there was a windstorm or a thunderstorm, I was like, “Let me out!” She also added that she’s a big proponent of ice baths as a form of pre and post-run conditioning. Ice baths are nothing new for Amelia because she regularly subjects herself to extreme cold during races and has frequently competed in races that require her to swim through lakes that are so cold, ice is forming while she swims. Now, Amelia’s lifestyle might not be for everybody, but she does set an awesome example when it comes to endurance training and persistence!
And at the end of the day, that’s what we can take away from her example. You don’t have to follow her lifestyle exactly, but you can emulate her commitment to excellence.
Another of Amelia’s defining traits is her relentless pursuit of her goals. As a female runner who has beaten 99% of all the men she’s ever competed against, Amelia knows a lot about defying stereotypes and beating the odds. She also told the author that, during her first race, over 1200 people started out and only 12 finished the race. Of those 12, only 2 were women. So, from Amelia’s example, we can see that she’s not about to let someoneelse tell her what she can and can’t do. That’s a quality everyone should emulate in their pursuit of success! And if you want to embrace the benefits of her training routine, you can always incorporate beetroot and ice-cold showers into your daily routine for improved health and concentration.
Chapter 2: Topics Like Health and Weight Loss Aren’t as Simple as We’d Like to Think
“Lose weight fast!”
“How to lose 10 pounds in one week!”
“Get rid of stubborn belly fat FAST!”
Have you ever noticed how magazines and commercials love to scream out one-liners on the topic of health and fitness? Everyone is clamoring to present themselves as the next big diet sensation in a desperate bid to convince us that they can fix our weight-related woes in a matter of days. However, the author’s research indicates that the answer isn’t nearly as simple as these headlines would have us believe.
Many people assume that consuming high-fat foods is what makes you fat. But if that were true, you could just replace all your favorite foods with low-fat alternatives and everything would be great! But in fact, even a very low-fat would actually be more likely to make you gain weight because of the effect of insulin. Why? Because insulin is a hormone that controls how your body processes calories. Insulin levels get higher when you eat food and decrease when you’ve finished eating. This process releases the nutrients from your fat cells into your bloodstream, sending energy to your brain and other vital organs. However, eating too many refined carbohydrates — things that are high in sugars and processed starches — cause your body to produce a surge of insulin which, in turn, leads to weight gain.
So, why is it that we crave things like cinnamon rolls and pasta and candy if they’re so bad for us? The simplest answer is that they taste good.But we also like them because they provide us with a temporary boost of energy. Consuming these foods floods the body with glucose, which causes our insulin levels to spike. Our fat cells then work overtime to absorb excess glucose and fatty acids to remove all that sugar from our blood. But here’s the catch: because these foods give you instant sugar gratification, your body runs out of that energy almost instantly, which prompts your brain to get panicky and convince you you’re hungry so you’ll eat more. If you don’t start consuming more sugary foods, your body goes into starvation mode as your blood sugar levels fall, triggering your metabolism to slow down and hang on to the calories you do have. And as you might imagine, this only makes you gain more weight.
So, how do we combat this? The author posed this question to a few health experts — including Justin Mager, a personal health coach for Olympic athletes and Kelly Starrett, the founder of CrossFit — and came away with a surprising answer. In short, the experts told him that there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” health formula. Some elite athletes need diets that are very high in carbs and cholesterol while others might reach their peak performance through a diet that is exactly the opposite! The truth, according to these experts, is that every body is quite literally different and every body possesses different needs when it comes to diet and exercise. That’s why they recommend experimenting until you find the balance that works best for you.
A close friend of the author’s has a slightly different take on this experimental theory, however. He recommends experimenting with recreational drugs to unlock your full potential. However, that doesn’t mean that the average person should take as many recreational drugs as they want without advice or supervision from a medical professional. Instead, the author’s friend recommends microdosing. As you’ve probably inferred from the name, microdosing is a practice which involves taking a small portion of a psychedelic drug under highly specific and controlled circumstances. When taken safely and in very small doses, many advocates of this practice believe that microdosing can enhance your creative thinking and problem solving skills. As a result, they claim that controlled use of recreational drugs can make you a better thinker, partner, friend, and employee!
Whether you choose to implement this strategy is up to you, and if you do make this choice, the author strongly recommends that you seek medical advice before consuming psychedelic drugs. But whether you choose to take drugs or not, we can all appreciate the spirit of “thinking outside the box” that this practice embraces. Thinking outside the box — however you choose to do it — can certainly help you to feel more alert, more creative, and it can even lead to some positive health benefits! So, when you think about your health, weight, and diet, don’t be afraid to be creative, open-minded, and experimental. Instead of trying a “one size fits all” approach, be sensitive to your body’s needs and be willing to try a few different approaches until you find the right balance for you.
Chapter 3: Don’t Succumb to Peer Pressure
As you might imagine, this is a pretty crucial lesson for anyone who wants to be successful. For one thing, if you learn to stand strong in the face of peer pressure, you can ignore the doubters and nay-sayers who try to convince you to give up on your dreams. But this quality can also help you to cultivate a sense of originality and resilience that will help you stand out from the crowd. And if you want a perfect example of this, you don’t have to look any farther than Shaun White. Today, you know Shaun White’s name because he is a three-time gold medalist in Olympic snowboarding. But when he was 15 years old, he was just an ordinary teen with a dream.
Even then, Shaun wanted to be an Olympic snowboarder and he worked tirelessly to accomplish this goal. And after years of training, dreaming, and hoping, he got his first big break when his parents paid for him to compete in an international snowboarding competition in Japan. This was a pretty big deal for Shaun, who was an outlier among the competitors. It wasn’t just that he was younger and relatively unknown — although both of those things were major factors as well! It was also a big deal because all of the other competitors were famous athletes who were being paid to compete thanks to lucrative sponsorship deals. Shaun didn’t have the money and success that his fellow competitors had, but he was determined to work hardand earn it for himself! However, on his mission to accomplish his goal, he faced an unexpected challenge.
On the night before the competition, the other athletes had a massive party. Their reckless revelry resulted in all of them getting so drunk that they were unable to compete the next day! Or rather, they were unable to compete at their full potential. But instead of being ashamed or embarrassed, they all thought it was funny! Making a joke out of their irresponsible actions, they decided to have a show run — only performing at fraction of their real capability — and indulging in goofy stunts to get attention. They figured that if they all joined in together, orchestrating a team show run, they would all win and they could split the money between all of them.
But when they offered Shaun a chance to participate, he turned them down cold. Shaun didn’t approve of their reckless and unprofessional behavior and he realized that even though he was younger and unsponsored, he had more personal integrity. So, he said no and did his best, even when the other athletes made fun of him. Being mocked by professionals you once looked up to isn’t easy; it’s certainly no way to get your head in the game for a big race! But Shaun believed that his integrity and his commitment to his dream was more important than going along with the crowd. So, when Shaun performed to his full capability, he alone won the $50,000 prize money and put the other athletes to shame! That race also jump-started his Olympic career.
Now, it’s highly unlikely that most of us are going to be faced with the pressure of competing in an international snow-boarding race. But no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, we can all benefit from Shaun’s lesson about courage, determination, and standing strong in the face of peer pressure. All of these are qualities that define a successful person and everyone can stand to emulate these awesome traits!
Chapter 4: Final Summary
This book offers glimpses at a few very different people with very different lives. Although they may differ greatly in terms of their goals, careers, and strategies, a few key qualities unite them all. From world-class endurance athletes to Olympic snowboarders and health experts, all of these people are driven by their excellence and determination. We might not want to emulate their fitness routines or their daily lives, but we can appreciate the core skills that drive them. And no matter what path you choose, you can be successful if you stand strong in the face of peer pressure, do your best, and remain determined.

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