Chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve heard about the value of a mentor. Perhaps you’ve been told that it’s crucial to have someone else to guide you on your journey to success, whether your goals are personal, professional, or both. And the author couldn’t agree more! A mentor is someone who’s been where you are, who knows how it feels to start at the bottom and make it to the top. A mentor understands the pitfalls, triumphs, and tribulations you’ll experience along the way and they use their experience to guide you. However, it can sometimes be hard to find the right mentor for you. And that’s why Tim Ferriss took time to interview the best of the best and compile their life advice in one book. You may not be able to get a one-on-one interview with people like Terry Crews, but Ferriss did! And now you get to enjoy the wisdom of that interview in the comfort of your own home. So, over the course of this summary, we’ll take an in-depth look at the life lessons offered by each of Ferriss’ interviewees.
Chapter 1: Discover the Books That Inspire You
What do Jimmy Fallon, Terry Crews, Matt Ridley, and Maria Sharapova have in common? You might scratch your head for a while over this one, but the answer is simpler than you think: they all believe in the importance of discovering an inspiring book. Although they may differ in their choices of reading material, each of these influential people cherish a special book that inspires them and impacts their outlook on life. In fact, each person made the statement that they credit a great deal of their success to the books that have impacted them. So, if you’re curious about the books that inspire the greats, let’s take a look at their reading lists! (Fun fact: Jimmy Fallon and Terry Crews have the same favorite book!)
- Matt Ridley (famous British journalist): The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
- Jimmy Fallon (famous talk-show host): Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and The Monster at the End of the Book by Jon Stone
- Terry Crews (actor and NFL star): Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- Brene Brown (renowned TED Talk expert): Why Won’t You Apologize? Harriet Lerner
- Kevin Kelly (co-founder of Wired magazine): The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
- Maria Sharapova (five-time Grand Slam winner): The Beggar and the Secret of Happiness: A True Story by Joel ben Izzy
- Chris Anderson (entrepreneur and TED Talk founder): The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
So, there you have it! One chapter in and you already have a list of the books that have impacted some of the world’s most influential people. So, while this can definitely function as a built-in reading list for you, the author posits that it’s also important for you to know the criteria for choosing your own impactful books. So, he asked each of his interviewees that question as well and made a note of what they said. Although the interviewees might have differed in their literary tastes, the author observed that this question illustrated how much they truly have in common. That’s because each person said that they chose a book that connected with them on a personal and spiritual level. Each of their books were important to them because those books offered an insight that felt uniquely relevant to that person.
So, while you definitely ought to try out each of the books on this list, you might find that some will resonate with you and some will not. And that’s okay! At the end of the day, what defines “your” book is the fact that it was inspiring and meaningful to you. So, be on the lookout for a book that sheds clear insight on the personal, professional, or spiritual aspects of your life. And once you find that book, don’t hesitate to follow its advice!
Chapter 2: Don’t be Afraid to Invest in the Unconventional
When you think of an investment, do you imagine stodgy things investing your money in stocks or in a bank? What if I told you that an investment can also be defined as the time, money or energy you pour into yourself and your future success? The author found that each and every one of his interviewees agreed with the latter statement. In fact, they all confirmed that investing in personal and professional development is far more valuable than investing money! So, while that might mean investing in some unconventional things, your foray into weirdness will definitely pay off.
For example, Esther Perel is a groundbreaking author, therapist, and podcast founder whose research explores sex and relationships. Rather than putting her money towards traditional things like marketing campaigns or start-up capital, Perel made the unconventional decision to invest in her greatest asset: her own mind. She knew that she would never be successful unless she had the right amount of education, so Perel poured her time and money into becoming fluent in nine different languages. With the acquisition of these language skills, Perel believed that she would be able to connectwith people all around the world and learn new words for navigating complex subjects. As a result, her life, mind, and career have been enriched and she has discovered new opportunities for communication. Because she is no longer bound by the constraints of monolingualism, she has been able to transcend linguistic boundaries time and again and forge connections with people all over the world.
Likewise, Arianna Huffington — the founder of The Huffington Post — was brave enough and smart enough to know that she needed to invest in self care. This decision was precipitated by a particularly perilous health scare in 2007 when she collapsed from fatigue. Because Huffington had ignored her body’s warning signals for years, pushing herself past her breaking points on a consistent basis, her body eventually gave up and forced her to listen. But taking a step back is never easy; Huffington might have preferred to go on ignoring her body and pretend everything was fine. However, she knew that would be a very unwise decision, so she chose to invest in her physical and mental health. By taking a step back to relax, calm down, and reassess her priorities, Huffington knew she was making the choice that was best for herself and her career. And in the end, her investment paid off!
So, whether you’re investing in personal development, education, or self-care, the key take-away from this chapter is: don’t be afraid to invest in the unconventional! Although we may still hang on to some preconceived notions about traditional investments, the truth is that our society has evolved to transcend the standard investments of yesteryear. So, don’t let the pressure to conform keep you from making the best decision for your life and career.
Chapter 3: How to be Your Best Self
Believe it or not, this is a question that every single human being asks. Yes, that’s right — even the people who have already reached the pinnacle of success! Because the truth is, no matter how much we accomplish, at the core, we’re all still human and we’re all still insecure. We all want to know how we can be better or how we can succeed. And the world’s most influential people are no different! Ferriss wanted to show readers that the desire to become your best self is a universal human experience, so he spent a great deal of time on this question in his interviews. And in fact, although their specific answers differed, Ferriss noticed that every single one of his interviewees responded with the same message: we can all do better than our best! So, how do the greats of the world get better?
TED Talk superstar and entrepreneur Jason Fried observed that analyzing your habits is key. He had noticed, for example, that he was obsessed with working out. Hethought this was a good thing because working out is considered to be a healthy habit. However, one day he realized that he had actually allowed this good habit to become unhealthy. He was no longer balancing his gym habit with the other aspects of his life; he was using it as an escape and allowing it to dominate his time. These unhealthy priorities created other bad habits in turn. For example, as a result of his obsessive workout schedule, Fried neglected to cultivate healthy sleeping or eating habits and his quality of life was deteriorating as a result. But once he decided to re-evaluate his priorities and find a proper balance for everything in his life, he discovered that he was a lot happier and more successful!
But what do you do if you have the opposite problem? Fried might have placed too much emphasis on his workout routine but many people lack the motivation to exercise at all. In many cases, it might not be that these people are simply lazy; in fact, they might have a great desire to improve themselves! But exercise isn’t fun for a lot of people and if we don’t enjoy doing something, we struggle to make ourselves do it. So, how do you find motivation when it seems so far out of reach? Rick Rubin, co-founder of Columbia Records and American Recordings, understands this problem all too well. Best-selling author Neil Strauss shares his struggle and both men told Ferriss that they’ve benefited from finding external sources of motivation for their workouts. For example, both Strauss and Rubin reported that exercising was difficult for them until they made friends at the gym. Once they developed a community of people with shared interests, they found that exercising felt less like a burden and more like an activity they enjoyed. Because they looked forward to seeing their friends and enjoying the company of their workout partners, they soon found that they felt more motivated and excited.
So, whether your problems are exercise-related or not, Ferriss remarks that these strategies can help you in every area of personal development. For example, successful physics professor Janna Levin doesn’t struggle with a personal or professional imbalance or a lack of motivation, but she did struggle with her worldview. She found herself growing increasingly frustrated by the presence of obstacles in her life. If all obstacles were removed, she believed, she could truly be happy. In fact, she felt that she wouldn’t really be happy until she was no longer struggling with anything. However, her perspective changed when she realized that obstacles are inevitable. No matter how happy or successful we are, life will always throw us curve balls at one point or another. Some may be big and some may be small, but the one constant in life is that it’s always changing. The only thing we can do is learn how to successfully role with the punches.
Once Levin realized that, her outlook on life improved drastically! Her new perspective enabled her to adapt her approach to life’s problems. Instead of being angry about them, she decided to accept each new challenge as an opportunity to grow andimprove. And once she started embracing her problems, she found that she was able to work through them with strength, clarity, and peace. In fact, she even recognized that this new approach taught her some life lessons that improved her happiness! So, with these examples in mind, Ferriss observes that it doesn’t matter if you struggle with the same problems as these influential people. By following their examples and cultivating balance, motivation, and a healthy worldview, you can overcome any problem you face.
Chapter 4: Final Summary
Having a mentor is awesome! In fact, it’s a necessity of life. But in most cases, we choose a mentor who encourages us to succeed in one area of our lives; for example, we may learn from a marketing superstar who tells you how to get to the top in the marketing world but offers little advice when it comes to personal development. That’s where Ferriss’ collection of interviews comes in: by examining the advice of multiple successful people who address a variety of topics, you receive a more holistic mentoring experience. So, take their advice and find a book that inspires you, embrace unconventional investments, and strive to become the best version of yourself!