Tools of Titans: Derek Sivers Distilled

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derek-sivers
“If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”
– Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers(@sivers) is one of my favorite humans, and I call him often for advice. Think of him as a philosopher-king programmer, master teacher, and merry prankster. Originally a professional musician and circus clown (he did the latter to counterbalance being introverted), Derek created CD Baby in 1998. It became the largest seller of independent music online, with $100 million in sales for 150,000 musicians.

In 2008, Derek sold CD Baby for $22 million, giving the proceeds to a charitable trust for music education. He is a frequent speaker at the TED Conference, with more than five million views of his talks. In addition to publishing 33 books via his company Wood Egg, he is the author of Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur, a collection of short life lessons that I’ve read at least a dozen times. I still have an early draft with highlights and notes.

I posted the following on Facebook while writing this chapter: “I might need to do a second volume of my next book [Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers] 100% dedicated to the knowledge bombs of Derek Sivers. So much good stuff. Hard to cut.”

Here’s a bit of what made it into the first edition — cherry-picked from the nuggets I’ve applied to my own life. Enjoy!

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Want to hear an entire conversation with Derek Sivers? — Listen to this podcast, which was Derek’s first appearance on the show, and also a favorite of Seth Godin. In this episode, Derek discusses developing confidence, finding happiness, and saying “no” to millions (stream below or right-click here to download):



This podcast is brought to you by Audible. I have used Audible for years, and I love audiobooks. I have two to recommend:

  1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  2. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

All you need to do to get your free 30-day Audible trial is go to Audible.com/Tim. Choose one of the above books, or choose any of the endless options they offer. That could be a book, a newspaper, a magazine, or even a class. It’s that easy. Go to Audible.com/Tim and get started today. Enjoy.

This podcast is also brought to you by FreshBooks. FreshBooks is the #1 cloud bookkeeping software, which is used by a ton of the start-ups I advise and many of the contractors I work with. It is the easiest way to send invoices, get paid, track your time, and track your clients.

FreshBooks tells you when your clients have viewed your invoices, helps you customize your invoices, track your hours, automatically organize your receipts, have late payment reminders sent automatically and much more.

Right now you can get a free month of complete and unrestricted use. You do not need a credit card for the trial. To claim your free month and see how the brand new Freshbooks can change your business, go to FreshBooks.com/Tim and enter “Tim” in the “how did you hear about us” section.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

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Stephen Dubner — The Art of Storytelling and Facing Malcolm Gladwell in a Fist Fight

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stephen j dubner

“Storytelling has a power that goes well beyond the sum of its parts.”
– Stephen Dubner

Stephen J. Dubner (@Freakonomics) returns to the show. He is an award-winning author, journalist, and radio and TV personality. He is best-known for writing, along with the economist Steven D. Levitt, Freakonomics (2005), SuperFreakonomics (2009), and Think Like a Freak (2014), which have sold more than five million copies in 35 languages. He is the creator of the top-ranked Freakonomics Radio podcast.

His brand-new podcast, produced in collaboration with The New York Times, is Tell Me Something I Don’t Know It is equal parts game show, talk show, and brain-tease. I had a chance to experiment with this format as a “panelist” alongside Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a blast.

In this episode, we cover such diverse topics as:

  • Why cats wiggle their butts before they pounce
  • How to grow a podcast
  • If he thinks he could take Malcolm Gladwell in a fist fight
  • Economics and the President’s actual influence over the economy
  • How virtual reality might affect education
  • And much, much more

If you only have 5 minutes, I recommend listening to the three books that shaped Stephen into the person he is today [at 31:26 for the overcast link]

Please enjoy this round two with Stephen J. Dubner!

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Want to hear another podcast featuring Stephen J. Dubner? — Listen to this early episode of The Tim Ferriss Show. In this episode, we discuss the craft of brainstorming, narrative storytelling, and how to avoid wasting mental energy on meaningless nonsense (stream below or right-click here to download):


This podcast is brought to you by Wealthfront. Wealthfront is a massively disruptive (in a good way) set-it-and-forget-it investing service led by technologists from places like Apple. It has exploded in popularity in the last two years and now has more than $2.5B under management. Why? Because you can get services previously limited to the ultra-wealthy and only pay pennies on the dollar for them, and it’s all through smarter software instead of retail locations and bloated sales teams.

Check out wealthfront.com/tim, take their risk assessment quiz, which only takes 2-5 minutes, and they’ll show you for free the exact portfolio they’d put you in. If you want to just take their advice and do it yourself, you can. Well worth a few minutes to explore: wealthfront.com/tim.

This podcast is also brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. I have used them for years to create some amazing designs. When your business needs a logo, website design, business card, or anything you can imagine, check out 99Designs.

I used them to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body, and I’ve also had them help with display advertising and illustrations. If you want a more personalized approach, I recommend their 1-on-1 service. You get original designs from designers around the world. The best part? You provide your feedback, and then you end up with a product that you’re happy with or your money back. Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade. Give it a test run.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

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How to Cage the Monkey Mind

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This episode is a little different. I visited the Googleplex — the Mountain View-based headquarters of Google — and had a public chat. I was interviewed and made sure that we covered some ground that has not been discussed before. There were questions such as:

  • What has been the most important Stoic teaching that I’ve come across?
  • How do I manage the many requests I receive?
  • What are the factors or elements that have led to the success of the podcast?
  • Where do I see myself in five years?
  • If I could pick three people — alive or dead — to be in my personal board of directors, who would they be?
  • How do I experiment with my dog training?
  • What are my recommendations for longevity?
  • How do I fight insomnia?
  • And much, much more…

If you only have 5 minutes, here’s how I cage my monkey mind.

As always, I hope you enjoy this episode and find it useful.

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Want to hear another podcast packed full of actionable tips that I use in my own life? — Listen to this short episode on the magic of mindfulness. In this episode, I discuss how to complain less, appreciate more, and live a better life (stream below or right-click here to download):


This podcast is brought to you by Wealthfront. Wealthfront is a massively disruptive (in a good way) set-it-and-forget-it investing service led by technologists from places like Apple. It has exploded in popularity in the last two years and now has more than $2.5B under management. Why? Because you can get services previously limited to the ultra-wealthy and only pay pennies on the dollar for them, and it’s all through smarter software instead of retail locations and bloated sales teams.

Check out wealthfront.com/tim, take their risk assessment quiz, which only takes 2-5 minutes, and they’ll show you — for free — exactly the portfolio they’d put you in. If you want to just take their advice and do it yourself, you can. Well worth a few minutes to explore: wealthfront.com/tim.

This episode is also brought to you by Headspace, the world’s most popular meditation app (with more than 4,000,000 users). It’s used in more than 150 countries, and many of my closest friends swear by it. Try Headspace’s free Take10 program — 10 minutes of guided meditation a day for 10 days. It’s like a warm bath for your mind. Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive, and it’s had a huge impact on my life. Try Headspace for free for a few days and see what I mean.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

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Morgan Spurlock: Inside the Mind of a Human Guinea Pig

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The Tim Ferriss Show with Morgan Spurlock

This is an interview you’ve been asking for since before I started the podcast: Morgan Spurlock. 

Morgan Spurlock (@morganspurlock) is an Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker based in New York. He is a prolific writer, director, producer, and human guinea pig. His first film, Super Size Me, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004, winning Best Directing honors. The film went on to win the Writers Guild of America Best Documentary Screenplay award as well as garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Feature Documentary.

Since then he has directed, produced, and distributed multiple film, TV and digital projects, including the critically acclaimed CNN series Morgan Spurlock Inside Man, the FX series 30 Days, and the films Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, Confessions of a Superhero, Freakonomics, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, and many others.

Morgan’s latest project is a tech startup called Clect (homepage, AngelList profile), which is a community for the high-spending collectors community with a one-stop marketplace where people can browse, sell, and buy collectibles of any type imaginable (Star Wars, Smurfs, comics, a Millennium Falcon made from motorcycle parts, etc.). Imagine Comic-Con meets Pinterest and eBay.

In this episode, we cover a ton:

  • How Morgan got his biggest breaks and, in some cases, made his own luck
  • How he builds rapport with people and gets them to open up
  • Tips for aspiring creators and filmmakers
  • How to get people to care about important issues
  • Favorite books, documentaries, movies, etc.
  • Morgan’s thoughts on the future of media and storytelling

If you want a taste of this fantastic interview, here’s the segment on how Morgan gets people to care about important issues.

Enjoy!

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Want to hear another podcast from a film director, screenwriter and producer? — Listen to my conversation with Robert Rodriguez. In this episode, we discuss the creation of “El Mariachi” and how the film went on to win the coveted Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival (stream below or right-click here to download):


This podcast is brought to you by Wealthfront. Wealthfront is a massively disruptive (in a good way) set-it-and-forget-it investing service, led by technologists from places like Apple. It has exploded in popularity in the last two years and now has more than $2.5B under management. Why? Because you can get services previously limited to the ultra-wealthy and only pay pennies on the dollar for them, and it’s all through smarter software instead of retail locations and bloated sales teams.

Check out wealthfront.com/tim, take their risk assessment quiz, which only takes 2-5 minutes, and they’ll show you—for free–exactly the portfolio they’d put you in. If you want to just take their advice and do it yourself, you can. Well worth a few minutes to explore: wealthfront.com/tim.

This podcast is also brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. I have used them for years to create some amazing designs. When your business needs a logo, website design, business card, or anything you can imagine, check out 99Designs.

I used them to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body, and I’ve also had them help with display advertising and illustrations. If you want a more personalized approach, I recommend their 1-on-1 service. You get original designs from designers around the world. The best part? You provide your feedback, and then you end up with a product that you’re happy with or your money back. Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade. Give it a test run.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What important issues are you most passionate about? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

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How to 10X Your Results, One Tiny Tweak at a Time

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Tim Ferriss 10x Productivity

If you’ve enjoyed my previous in-between episodes, then this might be your favorite episode ever. It’s one of the most actionable, information-packed interviews I’ve ever done.

This time, it’s Joel Stein (@TheJoelStein) asking the questions. Joel is one of the funniest writers I have ever read, and he’s great at leading an interview.

Here’s how it all happened: I have many different conversations with journalists. It can be painful when I have a 1-2 hour conversation, and then it’s cut to a single sentence as a quote in a piece. And it’s often a misquote. So how do you fix that? Well, you record it yourself, which is how this episode was created. (With the interviewer’s approval, of course.) This way, you don’t “lose” the content, and you cover your ass with media and journalists.

Joel wanted me to help him figure out 5 areas he could upgrade in his own life for a series on self-improvement. In this episode, we discuss a wide variety of topics, including:

  • How I choose what to improve from infinite options
  • How you can subtract your way to success
  • The genius of Ben Franklin
  • Why self-improvement doesn’t mean self-centered
  • How I say no to time-consuming lunches, coffees, and other meetings
  • How I tackle cold introductions
  • How I surmounted Lyme Disease
  • My 100% complete break from start-ups (read this for more)
  • My podcast process
  • Tools and tactics for reversing email overwhelm

If you want help reducing anxiety and don’t have time for the entire episode, listen to this short segment.

Enjoy!

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Want to hear another podcast packed full of actionable tips that I use in my own life? — Listen to this short episode on the magic of mindfulness. In this episode, I discuss how to complain less, appreciate more, and live a better life (stream below or right-click here to download):


This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. I have used them for years to create some amazing designs. When your business needs a logo, website design, business card, or anything you can imagine, check out 99Designs.

I used them to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body, and I’ve also had them help with display advertising and illustrations. If you want a more personalized approach, I recommend their 1-on-1 service. You get original designs from designers around the world. The best part? You provide your feedback, and then you end up with a product that you’re happy with or your money back. Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade. Give it a test run.

This podcast is also brought to you by Thrive Market. If you’re anything like me, you care a lot about the food you put in your body. In fact, I think it’s much more important than exercise. The problem is that good food can be extremely expensive…but it doesn’t have to be.

Thrive Market is like Costco for everything healthy – an online shopping club offering the best brands and groceries at 25-50% off retail prices, shipped nationally for free. There are a lot of Slow-Carb Diet friendly items that I recommend in The 4-Hour Body. You can easily filter everything by your preferences: paleo, gluten-free, vegan, raw, non-GMO, etc. Best of all: each paid membership also sponsors a free membership for a low-income family.

Until March 15th only, you have an opportunity to win $10,000 in top-tier healthy food and other prizes from Thrive Market. Go to this link, and when you enter to win the prizes, you’ll automatically be sent a link to download the Slow-Carb Diet® Cookbook.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Based on my idea of subtraction, what could you remove from your life that would make you happier and/or more productive? Please share in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

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Jamie Foxx on Workout Routines, Success Habits, and Untold Hollywood Stories

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Foxx_Ferriss

This episode is easily one of my favorites I’ve ever done.

Jamie Foxx (@iamjamiefoxx) is an Academy Award-winning actor, a Grammy Award-winning musician, and a famous standup and improv comedian. He is, without a doubt, the most consummate performer and entertainer I have ever met.  In the 2.5 hours we spent together in his home studio, he blew my mind.

We cover a TON in this wide-ranging episode, including many never-before-heard stories. Here’s just a tiny sample of what you’ll hear:

  • Jamie’s workout routine
  • Jamie’s origin stories — how he used $400 to match a $1,000,000 party thrown by Puff Daddy; building up his network with Kanye, Jay Z, and Pharrell; expanding his fan base; and bombing horribly at the beginning.
  • What he learned during the magic of In Living Color
  • Jamie playing live music throughout our interview
  • Impersonations (and lessons learned from many of the following) — Quincy Jones, Ed Sheeran, Ray Charles, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Cosby, Doc Rivers, Kermit the Frog, Sammy Davis, Jr., LeBron James, Bill Clinton, Tamara Rawitt, Shawn Wayans, Jim Carrey, Oprah Winfrey, Norman Lear, Mike Tyson, and others
  • The key skills Jamie learned from his grandmother
  • Jamie’s parenting style
  • Check out the show notes below for much, much more. Enjoy!

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Want to hear another podcast with a mega-successful Hollywood actor and director? — Listen to my conversation with Jon Favreau. In this episode, we discuss the movie Swingers, how to reinvent oneself, and how to create art that can be massively successful. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

This podcast is brought to you by TrunkClub. I hate shopping with a passion. And honestly I’m not good at it, which means I end up looking like I’m colorblind or homeless. Enter TrunkClub, which provides you with your own personal stylist and makes it easier than ever to shop for clothes that look great on your body. Just go to trunkclub.com/tim and answer a few questions, and then you’ll be sent a trunk full of awesome clothes. They base this on your sizes, preferences, etc. The trunk is then delivered free of charge both ways, so you only pay for clothes that you keep. If you keep none, it costs you nothing. To get started, check it out at trunkclub.com/tim.

This podcast is also brought to you by 99Designs, the worldís largest marketplace of graphic designers. I have used them for years to create some amazing designs. When your business needs a logo, website design, business card, or anything you can imagine, check out 99Designs.

I used them to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body, and I’ve also had them help with display advertising and illustrations. If you want a more personalized approach, I recommend their 1-on-1 service, which is non-spec. You get original designs from designers around the world. The best part? You provide your feedback, and then you end up with a product that you’re happy with or your money back. Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade. Give it a test run.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: In your opinion, who are the greatest living performers? What makes them impressive? Please let me know in the comments.

And please be sure to say hello to Jamie on Twitter at @iamjamiefoxx. He’s a good dude and was extremely generous with his time.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

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Comedy’s Dynamic Duo, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg

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Picture of Tim Ferriss, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg

No, we are not in jail. And am I really that short?!

“If we can write a high school movie, then we can make a high school movie.”
— Seth Rogen

This episode features a dynamic duo. Seth Rogen (@SethRogen) is an actor, writer, producer, and director. Evan Goldberg (@EvanDGoldberg) is a Canadian director, screenwriter, and producer. Together, they get into a lot of mischief and create amazing comedy.

They’ve collaborated on films such as Superbad (which they first conceived as teenagers), Knocked UpPineapple ExpressThe Green Hornet, and Funny People. They have also written for Da Ali G Show and The Simpsons.

In 2013, Evan and Seth released their directorial debut, This Is the End.  In 2014, Seth starred in and produced (alongside Evan) Neighbors, which was a worldwide comedy hit and has taken in more than $268 million.

In December 2014, Rogen and Goldberg’s film, The Interview, became the most-talked-about news story around the world. Under extremely difficult circumstances, the film persevered to become Sony Pictures’ #1 digital title of all time.

Neighbors 2 is shooting now and will be released next May. Seth and Evan are also in production on Sausage Party, a raunchy animated movie for adults about one sausage’s quest to discover the truth about his existence. Seth and Evan are producing the film with Megan Ellison and Conrad Vernon.

In our conversation, we discuss all manner of tactics and silliness, including:

  • Kyokushin karate
  • Writer’s block and related debates
  • Their writing process
  • Who are the most underrated comedians and comedy writers?
  • How Superbad got made… after they first drafted it around age 13
  • The odd book Judd Apatow recommended to them (also Woody Allen’s favorite)
  • How The Kids in the Hall influenced them
  • The movie they both wish they’d written
  • Common pot mistakes
  • Recommended newb pot for working versus relaxing
  • Will there be a McLovin spinoff?
  • And much more…

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Want to hear another podcast related to comedy? — Listen to my conversation with Bryan Callen, who is a world-class comic and prolific actor. Stream this episode below or right-click here to download.



This podcast is brought to you by Vimeo Pro, which is the ideal video hosting platform for entrepreneurs. In fact, a bunch of my start-ups are already using Vimeo Pro. WealthFront uses it to explain how WealthFront works. TaskRabbit uses it to tell the company’s story. There are many other names who you would recognize among their customers (AirBnB, Etsy, etc.) Why do they use it? Vimeo Pro provides enterprise level video hosting for a fraction of the usual cost. Features include:

  • Gorgeous high-quality playback with no ads
  • Up to 20 GB of video storage every week
  • Unlimited plays and views
  • A fully customizable video player, which can include your company logo, custom outro, and more

You get all this for just $199 per year (that’s only $17 per/mo.). There are no complicated bandwidth calculations or hidden fees. Try it risk-free for 30 days. Just go to Vimeo.com/business to check it out. If you like it, you can use the promo code “Tim” to get 25% off. This is a special discount just for you guys.

This podcast is also brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is, inevitably, Athletic Greens. It is my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body and did not get paid to do so. Get 50% off your order at Athletic Greens.com/Tim.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: If you could interview any comedian, who would it be and why? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Enjoy!

Selected Links from the Episode

Twitter (@Sethrogen) | Facebook | Instagram (@sethrogen)

Show Notes

  • The story of how Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg got into karate and beat the shit out of each other [06:42]
  • How their view of competitive violence changed after karate [10:58]
  • How Seth and Evan first met and when they first started collaborating [12:08]
  • How Seth and Evan decided to write Superbad [16:05]
  • The differences between standup comedy and movie writing [19:30]
  • How Seth and Evan’s writing process works [25:03]
  • How This Is The End came together, and how they created the film [27:01]
  • How the Superbad script came to life [33:24]
  • Being hired to write for Da Ali G Show and other acting roles [40:06]
  • The lessons Seth and Evan learned from Judd Apatow [44:06]
  • Thoughts on the concept of writer’s block [48:29]
  • Today’s most underrated comedy writers [52:04]
  • The first person who comes to mind when Seth and Evan think of the word successful [57:52]
  • The habit Evan picked up when working with Snoop Dogg [1:03:01]
  • The advice Evan and Seth would give their 25-year-old selves [1:05:07]
  • The reason nearly all involved in Freaks and Geeks ended up being so successful [1:11:06]
  • Weed and productivity [1:14:20]
  • The types of pot for different situations [1:17:30]

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