Before Christmas I was scoping out the books at Costco. With their limited space they usually carry the hottest titles and always, always have a discounted price. I picked up a copy of Timothy Ferriss’ newest titles: Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors. He is the bestselling author of the 4 Hour Work Week. I recently found a copy of that one at Goodwill.
These two books are hefty. They’re over-sized, yet lighter than you’d think looking at their dimensions. I dove into Tribe first and loved it, even though much of it had no clear application to my life. I’m not an elite athlete, tech genius, or savvy start-up investor. I’m not the co-founder of Pinterest, brand manager of Uber, MTV music producer, professor, thought leader, author, producer, CEO of NY Public Radio, coach, entrepreneur, or countless other categories of experts. Yet, I admired the depth and breadth of pros he interviewed. Much of the content has been captured on his blog and through his podcasts, neither of which I’ve explored yet.
Even eager readers may be intimidated by the size of the books. Non-readers might run in the other direction. What makes these books infinitely readable are the short chapters. Two or three pages per interviewee consisting of short bio, a pull quote, and the answers to a few probing questions. Bite-sized nuggets of gold.
(Paraphrased) questions like: 1) What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what one to three books have greatly influenced your life? 2) What message would you put on a giant billboard and why? 3) What’s an unusual habit or absurd thing you love? 4) What do you do when you feel overwhelmed or unfocused? 5) What failure set you up for later success? 6) What bad recommendations do you hear in your profession or area of expertise? 7) What advice would you give a smart, driven college student about to enter the real world?
I’m willing to bet that our answers to those questions may explain in part, why they achieved mega-success and we haven’t.
So what’s to be gained by investing time and money in these or any other equally rich resources? Quite simply, there are commonalities to these success stories. Many of the same most gifted/most influential books appear over and over again. Many of them are in my library, some read, some not. Virtually all of the people say they meditate daily, often for as little as ten minutes. There are lessons for the taking implicit in the failure stories, the billboard messages, the bad advice bit. The question is, will we pick them up?
Tools of Titans has many non-profile chapters that explore topics in greater depth. Trust me there are many, many ideas in the both books that will never apply to my life but the ones I’ve already begun using have improved the quality of my life. It may be as simple as creating The Jar of Awesome (a jar full of slips of paper capturing something wonderful that happened) or the ten minutes of silent contemplation I do when I first wake up. Bottom line, no one needs to re-invent the wheel when books like this exist, from where I sit.