The Unusual Books That Shaped Billionaires, Mega-Bestselling Authors, and Other Prodigies

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Tim books

Who are the mentors to billionaires, chess prodigies, rockstars, and mega-bestselling authors?  Who teaches them to do what they do? To achieve the success they achieve? Oftentimes…it’s books.

On The Tim Ferriss Show (iTunes, SoundCloud), I dissect world-class performers to find the tools and tricks you can use.  Here’s a full list of guests.  One of the questions I always ask is:

“What book have you gifted most often to others, and why?”  

Below is a list of answers from people like billionaire investor Peter Thiel, Tony Robbins, Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull, chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin, etc.. (And here are my own current answers, if you’re interested.)

You’ll see several books that appear more than once. Can you guess which they are?

The Ultimate To-Read Book List

Kevin Kelly is the founding editor of WIRED magazine, real-life Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man In The World.”

Favorite book(s):

Full Conversation:


Peter Thiel, billionaire investor (first outside investor in Facebook) and co-founder of PayPal, Palantir… Read More

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Andrew Zimmern on Simple Cooking Tricks, Developing TV, and Addiction

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The Tim Ferriss Show with Andrew Zimmern

“Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you.” – Andrew Zimmern


Andrew Zimmern is a world-class chef, television host and producer, writer, and — at the end of the day — teacher. You’ve probably seen his shows Bizarre Foods or Dining with Death. In 2010 and 2013 he was awarded the James Beard Foundation Award, which annually presents awards for excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary television.

But many people don’t know the earlier chapters in his life.  At one point, he was sleeping on the streets, stealing purses, and shooting heroin. In our interview, he shares all.  We delve into everything, including his culinary tricks, how he developed his hit TV show, his influences, key turning points in his life, beating addiction, and much more.

This is a powerful interview.

It’s full of tactics for anyone, and it has extra insights for all types of compulsive behavior (and, really, who doesn’t have at least one?).  I hope you enjoy it.

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

This episode is also brought to you by ExOfficio, which I’ve personally used since 2005 or so. They make ultra-lightweight, quick drying, antimicrobial clothing for men and women. Here’s my own ultra-light packing list (scroll down for video), which went viral.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Have you or anyone you know overcome addiction? If so, what was the tipping point, or what helped most? Please share in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Enjoy!

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here. It keeps me going…

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Selected Links from the Episode

Some Highlights with Time Stamps

  • What Andrew was inspired by, and who he modeled his show after [09:40]
  • Recommendations for those seeking to cultivate an on-air personality [11:50]
  • The three herbs or spices that Andrew Zimmern couldn’t live without [19:20]
  • The magic of citrus, building flavor contrasts, and how to provide robust flavors [21:20]
  • Tips for improving knife skills and cooking skills [27:45]
  • How to identify expert chefs [33:38]
  • The surprising story of his addiction-filled life [36:15]
  • The challenges of helping those suffering from alcoholism or other drug addiction [45:05]
  • The positive side of addiction, advice for overcoming it, and how to support others [50:20]

People Mentioned

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Is Beet Juice Really a Performance-Enhancing “Drug”? Digging In…

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(Photo: Foodthinkers)

The following is a guest post by Mark McClusky, the editor of Wired.com and founding editor of Wired Playbook. Previously, he was a reporter at Sports Illustrated and a member of the baseball analytics collective, Baseball Prospectus.

Can “juicing” for performance enhancement sometimes involve juice alone?  Beet juice, spinach, celery, or chard, perhaps?  In this post, we look at fact versus fiction, dosing, and results you can potentially replicate.

I’ve added some thoughts of my own in brackets. In other random news, I’m finally on Instagram! Here I am, and here is a pic of Tony Robbins palming my entire face.

Now, back to our piece…

Enter Mark

The latest craze in sports drinks for Olympic athletes isn’t something citrusy from one of the big sports labs. It’s not chocolate milk, which has been shown in study after study to be a great, low-cost drink for muscular recovery… Read More

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Maria Popova on Writing, Workflow, and Workarounds

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Maria Popova

“Why put in the effort to explain why it isn’t a fit, if they haven’t done the homework to determine if it is a fit?”
– Maria Popova [1:23:00]

Maria Popova has written for amazing outlets like The Atlantic and The New York Times, but I find her most amazing project to be BrainPickings.org.

Founded in 2006 as a weekly email to seven friends, BrainPickings now gets more than 5 million readers per month (!). I read very few blogs regularly, but BrainPickings is one of the few that makes the cut.  It’s a treasure trove.

BrainPickings is Maria’s one-woman labor of love — an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.  From Mark Twain to Oscar Wilde and everyone in between, Maria finds the hidden gems. She is also PROLIFIC and makes me look like a sloth.

In this in-depth conversation, we cover just about everything: how it happened, her workflow, how she writes (and workarounds to problems), how her site generates revenue, her workouts, and many more details. If you want to know the habits of a hyper-productive person, this episode is for you.

Stream with the player below:

If you can’t see the above, here are other ways to listen:

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

This episode is also brought to you by ExOfficio, which I’ve personally used since 2005 or so. They make ultra-lightweight, quick drying, antimicrobial clothing for men and women. Here’s my own ultra-light packing list (scroll down for video), which went viral.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received or read?  Please share in the comments!

Scroll below for links and show notes… Read More

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Tony Robbins on Morning Routines, Peak Performance, and Mastering Money

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“Our revenues are now over $5 billion annually. Without access to Tony and his teachings, Salesforce.com wouldn’t exist today.”
– Marc Benioff, Founder of Salesforce.com

“[Tony] distills the concepts of the best investors in the world into practical lessons that will benefit both naïve investors and skilled professionals.”
– Ray Dalio, Founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund

Tony Robbins is the world’s most famous performance coach. He’s advised everyone from Bill Clinton to Serena Williams, and from Leonardo DiCaprio to Oprah (who calls him “superhuman”).

For years, you’ve also asked me to interview him in-depth — so here it is! I flew to Florida to spend time with Tony in his home, and what ensued was an epic two-part conversation.  It covers just about everything imaginable. Special thanks to Joe Polish and Peter Diamandis for re-introducing us.

My visit coincided with his first new book in 20 years: Money–Master the Game.

I love Tony’s work and it helped me start my first company, but when I got an early draft of the book, I thought to myself–really? Another book on money? Ugh. I prepared to be bored, especially since I think of myself as an experienced investor [pats self on back]. Instead, and very surprisingly, I was blown away. Before I knew it, I was pushing off other work, letting my dinner get cold, and staying up hours past bedtime each night, all because I couldn’t stop reading.

Why?

First off, he saved me years of my life! Over the last 10 years, I’ve been approached by several top hedge fund managers, who’ve suggested I write The 4-Hour Investor by collaborating with them and their friends. Tony has written that book perfectly, so it saves me the trouble. I can just point people to this book. Which leads me to…

Reason number two, he goes DEEP with many of the investing icons I’ve always wanted to meet, including Paul Tudor Jones (who he’s coached for 10+ years), Ray Dalio, Carl Icahn, David Swensen, Kyle Bass, and many more. These are the hard-to-interview “unicorns” who consistently beat the market, despite the fact that it’s called impossible. In this book, they disclose details and examples I’ve never seen anywhere else, and I’ve read A LOT of books on investing.  For me, the interviews alone were worth the entire book.

Third, he solved the problem that I couldn’t. How do you write a book for both the novice and the sophisticated expert? How do you account for the differences in goals (e.g. growth versus security) without creating a mess of a book with no structure? He nailed it.

Fourth, and last for this blog post, this book isn’t just about “investing.” It’s about clear thinking and clear priorities applied to big things. By the time I’d read half of the book, I’d already taken steps that doubled my income for that month. While it wasn’t stocks or bonds, the principles of the book translated to my other business decisions. Obviously, you’re mileage will vary, but I found the flexible toolkit worth as much as the specific recommendations related to asset allocation, etc.

In the following interview, we dig into everything: Tony’s morning routines, his diet, how we works with the world’s highest-performing athletes and traders, common misconceptions about him, the most typical money mistakes he’s uncovered, and on and on.  I even ask him to palm my entire face (Here’s the pic!).

Enjoy!

Tons of links and goodies in show notes below…


If you can’t see the above embedded players, here are other ways to listen:

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

Also, how would you like to join me and Sir Richard Branson on his private island for mentoring? It’s coming up soon, and it’s all-expenses-paid. Click here to learn more. It’s worth checking out.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What is the best piece of investment advice you ever received or read? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for all show notes, and thank you for listening!… Read More

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Can You Rewire Your Brain In Two Weeks? One Man’s Attempt…

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Can you rewire your brain in two weeks?  The answer appears to be — at least partially — yes.

The following is a guest post by Shane Snow, frequent contributor to Wired and Fast Company and author of the new book SMARTCUTS: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.  Last year, he wrote about his two-week Soylent experiment, which went viral and racked up 500+ comments.  He knows how to stir up controversy.

In this post, Shane tests the “brain-sensing headband” called Muse.

It’s received a lot of PR love, but does it stand up to the hype?  Can it make you a calmer, more effective person in two weeks?  This post tackles these questions and much more.

As many of your know, I’m a long-time experimenter with “smart drugs,” which I think are both more valuable and more dangerous that most people realize.  This includes homemade brain stim (tDCS) devices (I wouldn’t recommend without supervision) and other cutting-edge tools.  If you’d like to read more on these topics, please let me know in the comments.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Shane’s experimentation!… Read More

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