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…

Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.
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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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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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Ramit Sethi on Persuasion and Turning a Blog Into a Multi-Million-Dollar Business

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Ramit_Sethi

If you want detailed tactics and hilarity, Ramit Sethi is your man. Here one quote from this episode, to give you an idea: “Indian people don’t get punched, dude. We don’t get into fights. We’re doing spelling bees.”

Ramit Sethi built his personal finance blog up to 500,000+ readers per month, and has since turned it into a revenue generating monster. I don’t use that phrasing lightly. In this episode, we dig into the nitty-gritty tools, software, and experiments he’s used to turn a college side project into a multi-million-dollar business with 30+ employees.

Tons of amazing links and goodies below…

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.

Also, how would you like to join me and billionaire 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: Do you think I should create a course of some type? If not (and if writing a book isn’t an option), what would you like to see me create next? What would be most helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for all show notes.

Enjoy!

Who should I interview next?  Please let me know on Twitter or in the comments.
Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here.  It keeps me going…
Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.
Non-iTunes RSS feed

LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

Books Mentioned in the Episode

Entrepreneur Resources Mentioned in the Episode

  • Basecamp – Web-based project-management tool
  • Google Docs
  • Aweber – Email marketing and autoresponder software
  • Infusionsoft – A complete sales and marketing automation software for small businesses
  • Surveymonkey – Create and publish online surveys in minutes, and view results graphically and in real time
  • GitHub – Powerful collaboration, code review, and code management for open source and private projects.
  • Asana – A web and mobile application designed to enable teamwork without email.
  • Screenflow – Screen recording and editing software for Mac
  • Dropbox – A free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily
  • Wufoo - Online form builder with cloud storage database
  • Skype – A freemium voice over IP service and instant messaging client
  • Visual Website Optimizer – A/B Testing Software for Marketers
  • Umbel – a tool for understanding your audience

Documentaries Mentioned in the Episode

Show Notes

  • Why Ramit Sethi’s parents added the “R” to his original name, Amit
  • His grassroots beginnings as a personal finance teacher to friends
  • How his persistence garnered exposure for his blog in the Wall Street Journal
  • How his site functions like a laboratory
  • Why you only need to focus on caring for 1,000 die-hard fans
  • How a few world-class posts can change your life forever
  • The “secret recipe” for attracting lots of people to your posts and making them fall in love with your content
  • Ramit’s email practices and marketing techniques that generate 99% of his revenue
  • The entrepreneurial tools and software Ramit’s team uses to systematize the daily functioning of the business
  • A common email practice that people share as the “Law of God” that is completely false
  • Why you should encourage people to unsubscribe from your email list
  • How to sell a product without coming off like a spammy Internet marketer
  • Why Ramit turns away customers who have personal debt
  • What roles race and culture play in Ramit’s life
  • How I Will Teach You To Be Rich is like the Asian father some of us never had
  • His book recommendations for entrepreneurs
  • The longest lie his father ever told and why Ramit can’t wait to do the same to his children
  • The best investment he’s made for under $100
  • Email tips for building respectful relationships with busy people
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Tony Robbins and Peter Diamandis (XPRIZE) on the Magic of Thinking BIG

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Anthony-Tony-Robbins-520

If you want to 10x or 100x your results and impact, this interview with Tony Robbins and Peter Diamandis is a must listen.

Where else can you find two people who regularly advise everyone from Serena Williams to Bill Clinton, from NASA to the world’s fastest growing companies? Here’s their next project, if you want a sneak peek.

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.

Also, how would you like to join me and billionaire 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.

Now, on to this episode’s guests…  Note that show links are included below their bios.

TONY ROBBINS

Tony Robbins has consulted or advised international leaders including Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, Francois Mitterrand, Princess Diana, and Mother Teresa. He has consulted members of two royal families, members of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marines and three U.S. Presidents, including Bill Clinton. Other celebrity clients include Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, golf legend Greg Norman, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Robbins also has developed and produced five award-winning television infomercials that have continuously aired on average every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day somewhere in North America since their initial introduction in April 1989.

PETER DIAMANDIS

Dr. Peter Diamandis has been named one of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” by Fortune Magazine.

In the field of Innovation, Diamandis is Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, best known for its $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private spaceflight. Today the X PRIZE leads the world in designing and operating large-scale global competitions to solve market failures. Diamandis is also the Co-Founder and Vice-Chairman of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending the healthy human lifespan. He is also the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution that studies exponentially growing technologies, their ability to transform industries and solve humanity’s grand challenges. In the field of commercial space, Diamandis is Co-Founder/Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, a company designing spacecraft to enable the detection and mining of asteroid for precious materials.

Scroll below for all show notes.  Tons of amazing links and goodies…

Enjoy!

Who should I interview next?  Please let me know on Twitter or in the comments.
Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here.  It keeps me going…
Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.
Non-iTunes RSS feed

Selected Links, Including Projects, Books, Etc.

BE SURE TO VISIT THE FIRST TWO TO SEE WHAT WE’RE WORKING ON

Global Learning XPRIZE

Indiegogo XPRIZE

Feeding America

XPRIZE

Ansari XPRIZE

TED AI XPRIZE

Jim Rohn

John Grinder

Clinton Global Initiative

Elon Musk TED Talk

Date with Destiny

BOOKS MENTIONED

The Spirit of St. Louis by Charles Lindbergh

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Man Who Sold the Moon by Robert A. Heinlein

The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil

As a Man Thinketh by James Alan

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

The Fourth Turning by William Strauss

Generations by William Strauss

Slow Sex by Nicole Daedone

Mindset by Carol Dweck

Brain Rules by John J. Medina

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QUESTION OF THE DAY:  What books or resources have most inspired you to think BIGGER, to 10x your results or impact?

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The Tim Ferriss Show: Tracy DiNunzio on Rapid Growth and Rapid Learning

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tracy dinunzio in chair

This single interview with Tracy DiNunzio, founder of Tradesy, was recorded in three short parts.  You can:



This podcast is brought to you by The Tim Ferriss Book Club, which features a handful of books (4-6) that have changed my life.  Here is the list, including free samples of every one.

Also, how would you like to join me and billionaire 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 — trust me.

Now, on to this episode’s guest…

Tracy DiNunzio is a killer. She’s the self-taught founder and CEO of Tradesy.com, which has taken off like a rocket ship. She’s raised $13 million from investors including Richard Branson, Kleiner Perkins, and yours truly, and board members include the legendary John Doerr. Tradesy is on a mission to make the resale value of anything you own available on demand. Their tagline is “cash in on your closet.”

Tracy is in the trenches 24/7, making it the perfect time to ask her… How has she created such high-velocity growth? How did she recruit the investors she did? What’s been her experience as a female founder? What are her biggest mistakes made and lessons learned? This multi-part series, fueled by wine, will answer all this and more.

Even if you have no desire to start your own company, this 3-part series will get you amped to do big things.

This episode touches on a lot of cool stuff. It’s a mini-MBA in entrepreneurship, hustle, and tactics.

Scroll below for all show notes.  Tons of amazing links and goodies…

Enjoy!

Who should I interview next?  Please let me know in the comments by clicking here.
Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here.  It keeps me going…
Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.
Non-iTunes RSS feed

Show Notes and Select Links from the Episode

  • Tracy DiNunzio’s unlikely resume
  • How her business model reflects her lifestyle, and why that’s intentional
  • How another startup (and her bootstrapping) helped her find her husband
  • The story of bootstrapping her first company, Recycled Bride, and how she traded skills for food
  • Why the current day is the best (and worst time) to start an online company
  • How she funded and launched Tradesy
  • Why she chose venture capital rather than continuing to bootstrap
  • The trade-offs — the cons — of venture capital
  • Common mistakes Tracy made when she began pitching to investors
  • How the rules of dating apply to pitching investors
  • The creative way she found her CTO and technical co-founder… on Craigslist
  • Addressing the pink elephant in the room — What’s her experience as a woman in the tech start-up world?
  • The “Hail, Mary” that kept Tradesy going before its upswing
  • What attracted iconic investors like Sir Richard Branson and John Doerr to Tradesy
  • How to spend 13 million dollars without blowing it
  • Numerous resources for would-be entrepreneurs
  • Tracy’s advice to anyone who is unhappy in their current career

LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

Books Mentioned in the Episode

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QUESTION OF THE DAY: What startup resources (books, articles, interviews) have you found most helpful or inspiring? Please share in the comments!

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