If you regularly visit ‘Life-Changing Books’, you will know that I am a huge fan of Tim Ferriss, and in particular of his book , “The 4-Hour Workweek”. In this article, I have decided to tell you a little more about this entrepreneur, investor, author, blogger, and speaker who has changed the lives of thousands of entrepreneurs.
Tim Ferriss, A Top-Notch Entrepreneur!
Timothy Ferriss was born on July 20, 1977 in East Hampton, New York, in the United States. He studied at Saint-Paul’s School. He then began studies in neuroscience but switched majors and obtained, at the age of 23, a degree in East Asian studies from Princeton University. After his studies, Tim Ferriss joined the sales department of a data storage company. However, soon after, he would become dissatisfied with his salary and his company, which he found totally inefficient. He would then go on to create, during his working hours, his own internet-based business.
A Successful Entrepreneur and Investor
Tim Ferriss creates his first company in 2001, called Brainquicken. It is an online nutritional supplements business. It specializes in a product that accelerates neurotransmission and the processing of neurological information. Tim Ferriss would sell the business 9 years later, in 2010, to a London private equity firm. Tim Ferriss would next become a business angel and consultant for big startups like Uber, Duolingo, Evernote, Shopify, Alibaba.
A Successful Speaker and Blogger
The entrepreneur-investor has given numerous conferences at innovative and renowned companies like Google, MIT, Facebook, Nike, Microsoft and even at the CIA! He has also been invited to many events: TED, SXSW, Web 2.0, etc., allowing him to share the stage with great figures like Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon. Tim Ferriss has also been a lecturer at Princeton University, where he has advocated entrepreneurship as a new art of living.
Finally, Tim Ferriss shares, on his blog The Tim Ferriss Show, a series of podcasts which consists of interviewing fascinating and extraordinary personalities (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Malcolm Gladwell, Peter Thiel, Tony Robbins, Mark Andreessen, Reif Hoffman, and hundreds of others) about their career, their work, and their lifestyle. The Tim Ferriss Show has been selected as Apple’s Best Podcast for three consecutive years, with over 400 million downloads.
Outstanding Activities and Distinctions
Tim Ferriss has been notable in many specific areas, and not necessarily related to entrepreneurship:
- In 2008, Tim Ferriss hosted a television show called The Tim Ferriss Experiment (on the History Channel) in which he had to master, in just one week, a skill that normally would take years of learning.
- He was the first American mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records for the number of tango spins performed in less than a minute on Live with Regis and Kelly, with his tango partner, Alicia Monti.
- In 1999, he won the gold medal at the national Sanda (martial art) championship in China, in the under 74 kg category.
- Tim Ferriss has given his lectures in 5 languages.
- He has been regularly named among the top personalities in prestigious American magazines (among the most innovative and influential personalities, for his leadership, etc.).
A “Best-Selling” Author
Tim Ferriss’s writing career began with the 2007 publication of his -bestseller, “The 4-Hour Workweek”, sold in millions of copies worldwide and translated for 36 countries. This book would propel him to the top very quickly by becoming number one on the New York Times Best Seller List and that of the Wall Street Journal. With many principles aiming to work less but better, to create a business at the service of one’s life and not the reverse (Pareto’s law or 80/20 principle, Parkinson’s law, automation, etc.), this book has transformed how thousands of entrepreneurs around the world view entrepreneurship.
Here is the bibliography of Timothy Ferriss:
- “The 4-Hour Workweek”, 2006 (2010 for the second edition, extended).
- “The 4-Hour Body”, 2012.
- “Tools of Titans”, 2017.
- “The 4-Hour Chef” (not translated into French), 2012.
- “Tribe of Mentors”, 2018.
Summaries of 3 Books by Tim Ferriss
1. “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss
In “The 4-Hour Workweek”, Tim Ferriss explains how to set up a system to reduce the number of hours worked, all this in four steps:
- First Step: D for Definition
- Second Step: E for Elimination
- Third Step: A for Automation
- Fourth Step: L for Liberation
Step 1: Definition
The first chapter of “The 4-Hour Week” is devoted to defining what Tim Ferriss calls the “New Rich” as opposed to the “Deferrers”. While the latter work for themselves, ensure early retirement, and always want more; the New Rich, they organize themselves so that others work for them, take mini-retreats throughout their life, and are more concerned about quality than quantity. For Tim Ferriss, true power is not money but freedom.
Next, in the second chapter, Tim Ferriss explains that it is essential to question habits and eventually challenge them. He thus defines the ten basic rules of the New Rich:
- Retirement is nothing but worst-case-scenario insurance.
- Interest and energy work in cycles.
- Doing less is not being lazy.
- There is never good timing.
- It is better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.
- Your strengths are more important than your weaknesses.
- The excess of a good thing will become a bad thing.
- The solution does not lie in money alone.
- Relative income is more important than absolute income.
- Stress can be positive and is necessary.
The third chapter is focused on fear and how to overcome it by defining it and then coming up with solutions. Finally, in the fourth chapter, Tim Ferriss offers us a 6-step method to define his “dreamlining”.
Step 2: Elimination
Chapter five of “The 4-Hour Workweek” sheds light on time management and the difference between effectiveness and efficiency. Tim Ferriss also discusses Pareto’s law, known as 80/20: 20% causes 80% of the results. The application of this law allowed Tim Ferriss to double his monthly income while reducing his working time from 80 to 15 hours. In the following chapter, Tim Ferriss recommends an “information diet”: he considers the fact of selecting one’s sources of information and of not being consumed by gloom and doom to be lifesaving. Finally, he concludes this part with a chapter devoted to interruptions. He categorizes them into three categories: those that waste time, those that take time, and delegations that fail. For each of them, he recommends solutions for preventing and avoiding them.
Step 3: Automation
The four chapters of this third part detail how to automate your business to gain in terms of productivity and time. Tim Ferriss emphasizes the importance of delegating professional tasks as well as personal tasks, whether you are a boss or an employee. Delegated tasks should be time-consuming and precisely defined. He then recommends creating automatic income with the help of a “muse”, i.e., a product that requires little daily work but brings in money regularly. In chapters 9, 10, and 11, Tim Ferriss details all the steps to achieve this.
Step 4: Liberation
This last step is explained in the last four chapters of the book. First, Tim reveals how it is possible to escape the office, even when you are an employee. Indeed, the rise of telework makes it possible to work from home. The employee just has to prove that he or she is even more efficient when working remotely than when they are in the office. He then shows the value of mini-retreats, which allow one to learn to live at a different pace and to take advantage of the present moment. In the last chapter, Tim warns of the emptiness that can be felt. Nonetheless, he reminds us that freedom is like a sport: it requires time to adapt.
Review of “The 4-Hour Workweek”
This book by Tim Ferriss has changed the lives of millions of people. The author condenses, into a single book, a number of tips and concepts that are detailed in other reference books on personal development. Although Tim Ferriss only touches on these concepts, it allows, at the same time, beginners to discover them with a clear and concise overview. Furthermore, the motivational tone really invites one to take action!
- The motivational and positive remarks that are action-oriented for living the life of our dreams.
- The incredibly inspiring message to create a business at the service of our existence, rather than putting our existence at the service of our business.
- Content that is teeming with ideas, particularly in terms of productivity and efficiency, and that opens us to a new vision of entrepreneurial life.
- A book that makes very complex notions accessible.
- Setting up the system is more complex than it appears.
- An approach that is not applicable to all careers.
My rating :
Have you read The 4-Hour Workweek? How do you rate it?
Read more reviews on Amazon about The 4-Hour Workweek.
Buy on Amazon: The 4-Hour Workweek
2. “Tribe of Mentors” by Tim Ferriss
This book by Tim Ferriss shares the advice of many personalities from all fields: actors, entrepreneurs, writers, athletes, psychologists, artists, etc. While answering original and relevant questions, they reveal their secrets to us on subjects such as failure, money, habits, etc.
Failure can be a blessing:
- It can be an opportunity to discover and surpass yourself. According to David Lynch or Susan Cain (author), losing everything can make you free to do whatever you want. Naval Ravikant (entrepreneur) believes, for his part, that only suffering resulting from failure allows for real change.
- Adversity also allows you to harden, as the saying goes: what does not kill you makes you stronger.
- Failure increases lucidity: it is the time to take stock of your situation and analyze your mistakes. You may also wonder about the meaning of failure. As Neil Strauss (author) reminds us, it is only at the end of your life that you will truly know if a failure has been negative.
Of course, we are not talking about justifying failure, but about putting it into perspective and overcoming it.
Money Is Not the Best Investment
When Tim Ferriss asks rich and famous people what their best investments have been, their answers are surprising because they have nothing to do with money.
- The first piece of advice given is to invest in yourself! For this purpose, several choices are available to you: take courses, do psychotherapy, write in a diary, read a lot of books, turn to coaches, etc.
- Next, it is recommended to develop your connections with others: be authentic, seek to create an emotional bond, choose your entourage wisely, be generous, etc.
- Among the other investments suggested, Susan Cain recommends learning to take the time to do things well while Brené Brown (teacher) and Fedor Holz (poker champion) encourage you to ask yourself what the real problem is rather than look for temporary solutions.
Establishing New Habits
Tim Ferriss also focuses on the habits newly acquired by those interviewed, habits that have improved their lives. The advice is based on three principles, namely: taking care of your body, taking care of your diet, and taking care of your mind.
- As for the body, sleep and fitness are two precepts that come up regularly. Arianna Huffington (journalist) insists: “The most important thing is to take care of yourself before anything else”.
- For food, sugar is the main enemy.
- Finally, to take care of your mind, nothing’s better than meditation. It is a source of well-being, productivity, creativity, and happiness in general. So, follow the example of Jesse Williams, Jimmy Fallon, Adam Robinson, Anna Holmes, Leo Babauta, to name a few.
Passion, Independence, Risk Taking and Hard Work = Professional Success
The advice given by celebrities concerning career success is quite interesting. It is about finding and following your path, taking risks, being independent, and persevering:
- So, start by finding the job of your dreams, find what interests you, and corresponds to your values.
- Think about what you want for the next five years and not for your entire life, it will be easier.
- Do not hesitate to take risks, between an easy choice and a difficult choice, pick the second. It will allow you to progress.
- Be independent; do not be intimidated by the “experts”. They are human beings like you and me.
- Finally, perseverance is more important than luck or talent.
Know-How to Say No
Here again, the people interviewed by Tim Ferriss are not stingy with advice. Knowing how to say no helps one to prioritize.
- In order to learn to say no, apply the technique recommended by Annie Duke (poker champion) and Kevin Kelly (writer): “Act as if you have already said yes. How do you feel?”
- Aisha Tyler (actress) only says yes to what makes her happy.
- Samin Nosrat emphasizes that “the more clearly your goals are defined, the more your answers will be”.
No to Stress, Yes to Relaxation
The advice that the celebrities interviewed by Tim Ferriss give for combatting stress and avoiding burnout are three-fold: Focus on your body, focus on your mind, and focus on your “me”.
- For the first point, focus on your breathing, walk in nature, exercise, etc.
- Meditation is once again popular when it comes to taking care of the mind: Ariana Huffington, Michael Diamond, Ray Dialo, Marc Benioff, etc. Napping, not working when you are at home, focusing on actual things like eating, petting a cat, enjoying the sun, are other pieces of advice.
- Finally, regarding the “me,” Andrew Ross Sorkin recommends understanding the reason for your stress in order to calm yourself down.
Expand Your Potential and Creativity
Tim Ferriss’s mentors offer you ways to develop your creativity and fulfill your potential:
- Firstly, it is recommended to have some financial security and therefore to save up.
- Jacqueline Novogratz (committed entrepreneur) advises to be bold, to dream differently, and with humility in order to change the world.
- To excel in your field, act like a master but as Maurice Ashley (chess champion) reminds us “mastery is a continuous state, not a destination”.
- Tim Urban encourages you to work for yourself by doing what you want.
Some Objects that Improve Everyday Life
In this last part, it is about objects that facilitate the daily life of the people interviewed. A food supplement based on mushrooms for Samin Nosrat, a skin spray for Soman Chainani, or an electric car for Steven Pressfield. The objects are very diverse. The celebrities also use many applications, whether it is to remember passwords, to never lose their keys, to listen to books or even music to concentrate, etc.
Review of “Tribe of Mentors”
“Tribe of Mentors” is an extremely inspiring book because it gives you access to a great deal of advice from personalities. Far from theory, it provides concrete advice, which has been proven in people who can be said to have succeeded.
- The diversity of both ordinary and extraordinary personalities.
- Inspirational and concrete ideas that are easily applicable.
- A collection of advice full of gems that read like a “treasure hunt”.
- I do not see any…
My rating :
Have you read Tribe of Mentors? How do you rate it?
Read more reviews on Amazon about Tribe of Mentors.
Buy on Amazon: Tribe of Mentors
3. “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss
“Tools of Titans” is the result of hundreds of interviews that Tim Ferriss conducted for his famous “Tim Ferriss Show” podcast. The profiles of the people interviewed are very diverse: film actors, athletes, entrepreneurs, researchers, soldiers, lecturers, writers, engineers, musicians, doctors, etc. However, they all have one thing in common: they have succeeded. They have then shared their secrets allowing them this success. This book is, in a way, a guide to help one change his or her life and become a “titan” in their turn.
Some Tips for Using the Book
Tim Ferriss begins by recommending not to hesitate to skip the passages that do not interest you: for him, it is a guide and his goal is that the reader likes 50%, loves 25%, and retains 10% of it. He wishes, through this book, to transmit two messages:
- Success is possible by adopting certain rules that have been proven to work.
- Our idols are not superheroes, but imperfect beings like us.
Tim Ferriss’s Tools of Titans also allows us to develop three concepts: think, wait, and fast (resilience).
Extremely Varied Guests
The guests are divided into three categories, which form the three main parts of the book:
- The Healthy: these are top-level athletes and explorers.
- The Wealthy: they are billionaires, celebrities, or entrepreneurs.
- The Wise: these are artists, teachers, producers, etc.
You can find the full list of those interviewed in my detailed review of this book, as well as the list of Frequently Asked Questions by Tim Ferriss. Tim gets them to talk about a wide variety of subjects: their favorite books and films, their definition of success, their best investment, their rituals, etc. Among the most frequently cited books are “Tao Te King” by Lao Tseu, “Sapiens, a Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari, “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss, Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel “Dune”, and even the Bible.
The Main Advice Taken by Tim Ferriss from the “Titans”
Tim Ferriss lists the behaviors most frequently cited by the interviewees: practicing meditation, not eating breakfast, sleeping on a refreshing mattress, reading, listening to a song on loop, the belief that failure is only temporary, the transformation of their weaknesses into strengths, etc.
He also lists tips for improving sleepiness as well as morning rituals, steps for mental training, tips for increasing productivity, and finally tactics to overcome the haters. For example, for productivity, he recommends getting up at least an hour before sitting down in front of your computer. He also explains how to keep a logbook in order to get the problems out of one’s mind.
The Best Tools Recommended by “Titans”
Among the many tools of “titans”, we may note the law of category, the strategy of 1,000 true fans, the Dickens process, fear-setting, testing the impossible, and the jar of awesome. The law of category is based on the exclusion of competition by creating your own category for your product: thus, you are sure to be the first since you are alone!
Fear-setting is done in four steps: define the worst thing that can happen, assess all the probabilities, accept the worst case, and finally take action because the cost of inaction can turn out to be greater than action!
The jar of awesome, on the other hand, consists of writing down on small pieces of paper all the positive things that happened during the day and putting these papers in a jar: this allows you to remember the positive instead of focusing on the negative.
Review of “Tools of Titans”
This book is a real guide to changing your life. Its structure allows pages to be read at random, picking out small bits here and there to the rhythm of your desire. By bringing together various profiles, he addresses many areas and not just the world of entrepreneurship: a lot of advice can be applied in one’s personal life, even if one is not an entrepreneur. It is an extremely inspiring book that invites you to act.
- The questions asked are original and relevant.
- The dense information is diverse, varied, and very much fascinating.
- The reunion, in a single book, of so many inspiring personalities and diverse backgrounds.
- Plenty of tools to pick from according to one’s needs and preferences.
- The structure of the book is a bit complex, and it is sometimes difficult to differentiate the words of the author from those of the interviewees.
My rating :
Have you read “Tools of Titans”? How do you rate it?
Read more reviews on Amazon about “Tools of Titans”
Buy on Amazon “Tools of Titans”
Tim Ferriss Quotes
Quotes on Lifestyle
- “Life is too short to be small.”
- “Find your priorities and you will find your lifestyle.”
- “Don’t follow a model that doesn’t work. If the recipe sucks, it doesn’t matter how good of a cook you are.”
- “Being different is better when it’s more efficient or more fun.”
- “The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is boredom.”
- “The ability to choose – is real power.”
- “To live is to learn. I don’t see any other option.”
- “Take the time to stop and smell the roses.”
- “What matters is how many people get it, not the ones who don’t.”
- “What did you dream of doing when you were a child? […] Rediscovering the amazing enthusiasm of childhood is not impossible. Rather, it is indispensable. So, go for it: nothing is holding you back.”
Quotes on Achieving Goals and Dreams
- “Goals have to be unrealistic to be effective.”
- “I’m not a big believer in long-term planning and far-off goals. In fact, I generally set 3-month and 6-month dream lines. The variables change too much, and in-the-future distance becomes an excuse for postponing action.”
- “The most important actions are never comfortable.”
- “What we fear the most in doing is usually what we need to do the most.”
- “Every day decide to do something instead of getting lost in big questions to which we can’t seem to find simple answers. […] Make small changes, appropriate to your situation.”
- “There should never be more than two must-do things per day.”
- “I’m not aware of an example in which a change of direction is not reversible in some way.”
- “What makes the difference is consistency”.
Quotes on Time Management and Productivity
- “Forget about time management! Long live the elimination of unnecessary tasks!”
- “Lack of time is nothing more than a lack of priorities.”
- “Slowing down doesn’t mean accomplishing less; it means eliminating counterproductive distractions and the perception of being rushed.”
- “Being busy is not being productive. So, forget the ethics of overwork “I created a start-up, I’m overwhelmed” […] Try to be productive rather than busy.”
- “By only working when you are most efficient, life is both more productive and more enjoyable.”
- “If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.”
Quotes on Efficiency
- “Effectiveness is doing things that bring you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task (whether it is important or not) in the most economical way possible.”
- “It is far more lucrative and more fun to capitalize on your strengths than trying to correct all of your weaknesses.”
- “What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it. Efficiency is still important but is useless unless applied to the right things.”
- “Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness. This is hard for most to accept because our culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity.”
- “Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined. Otherwise, you waste someone else’s time instead of your own, which now wastes your hard-earned cash. How does that promote effectiveness and efficiency?”
- “It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor.”
- “Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.”
- “Never arrive at the office or in front of your computer without a clear list of priorities.”
Quotes on Entrepreneurial Life: Strategy, Clients, Competition, Human Resources, Etc.
- “If everyone is your client, no one is your client.”
- “It is more profitable to be a big fish in a small pond than a small unknown fish in a large pond.”
- “If you doubt yourself, guess what? The rest of the world will too. Do not overestimate the competition and do not underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”
- “Being able to quit things that don’t work is integral to being a winner.”
- “People are smarter than you think. Give them the opportunity to prove themselves.”
- “Problems, as a rule, solve themselves or disappear if you remove yourself as an information bottleneck and empower others.”
What about you? Have you ever read any books by Tim Ferriss? How did it impact you? What is your favorite book by Tim Ferriss? Share your thoughts in the comments!