Review – Tools of Titans

March 13, 2017


Success is a vague concept, that everybody has their own definition of. Sometimes it means having a lot of money, or being famous, or just being respected by other experts in your field. Tools of Titans is a collection of success stories of different people, focusing on the daily habits they attribute their achievements to. The author suggests you pick and mix the advice you like while ignoring the stuff you think is stupid (which was quite a lot for me). Tools of Titans is divided into three parts, Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, which is a good thing, because these are where people have problems. The assignment of “Titans” to these categories is rather arbitrary, however, as usually many topics are discussed. Let’s have a look at each category on its own:


Here is the list of additives the author and his guests recommend on a regular basis (probably not exhaustive): gelatin, beet root powder, magnesium, calcium, powdered coconut oil, branched-chain amino acids, butyric acid esters and several other ketones (disgusting stuff), metformin (a diabetes drug), lithium (an antidepressant), and psychedelic drugs like LSD or ibogaine. Feeling healthy already? Then add extended fasting, ketogenic diet (usually a medical treatment for epilepsy) and regular (almost competitive) blood testing to the mix. Human physiology and metabolism are tricky subjects and far from being understood, so I cannot verify many claims presented as  “facts”. I am, however, convinced that the combination of fasting, ketosis diet and self-medication with some pretty heavy stuff could kill you. Top it off with weirdly specific workout plans and gymnastic exercises. Apparently, you are not concerned enough about having less than full ankle mobility.

This chapter of Tools of Titans also is the shopping TV of books. Every “Titan” recommends specific brands of food supplements, usually available through their own shop. To make it easier for you, Ferris gives you precise keywords to google for his recommendations, so you do not end up with some cheap off-brand stuff.

This is probably the weakest part of the book, the advice is one part dangerous self-treatment without consulting a doctor, one part exercises you probably won’t do and one part product advertising.


Focus on your goals, plans and ideas. Find or create your niche. Get people to help you. That is all you need in order to get rich, although it sounds more credible when said by billionaire tech investors. If you already are a rich tech investor, you will find many good tips on how to choose your next investment. If you are a start-up CEO or any kind of “content creator” you will find a lot of marketing ideas. Let’s face it, most people are employees. I surely am. Guess who can apply the fewest tips and methods presented in the book:  exactly.


This is the most interesting section, with the most diverse cast of “Titans”, so we will keep it short and succinct. The advice is simplify, prepare, take your time, have a life. Although more eloquently presented and better visualized.

This is good advice. Life is about taking agency for your actions, so it is good to know what to do and what not to do. Balancing work and freetime, social obligations and personal growth is difficult for most people. Yet, many of the “Titans” in this chapter succeed greatly and share their methods.

In Summary

Have something to help you focus, something to unwind, and something to get you in a good mood. The rest is just minutiae. Six hundred pages of it. The interview style of Tools of Titans brings the reader into contact with direct opinions of interesting people, but you have to sift through a lot of nonsense to find what you are interested in. Also, it would have been nice to more often break the endless parade of tech founders and tech investors on one side and extreme sports athletes on the other side. I presume that these are the topics the author is most familiar with, but a less biased cast would make Tools of Titans relevant to more people. There are hardly any scientists (some quack MDs to promote psychedelics use), no team sport players and not a single founder, investor or manager from an industry other than high technology. Also, Ferriss missed the chance to invite Titans to challenge his personal beliefs and habits, like adversaries of the ketogenic diet.

Every reader will have a different experience with Tools of Titans, based on their previous experiences and interests. Here is mine. Most interesting persons: I was not previously aware that Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a successful self-employed bricklayer and real estate investor before he went on to become a world-famous bodybuilder, movie star and politician. That’s, like, five careers! And Jocko Willink is a Navy SEAL veteran and management consultant with a no-nonsense approach to life that I have to respect. Best advice: Being the best in anything is almost impossible, but being in the top 25% in two or three areas is a very realistic goal and just as useful (by Scott Adams). What sticked with you?

The Verdict

Will this book make you healthy? Maybe, but be careful when applying anything you read there. Ask your doctor first. If you are out of shape, or a senior, or have other hobbies, you probably won’t get much out of the sportsy part, either. Will this book make you wealthy? It depends. Software developers, media creators or tech investors get more useful tips than others, so maybe they can profit a bit more. Will this book make you wise? Probably a bit, as the tips are sound. Also, reading is always a good idea, as is exposing oneself to the ideas of others. So, yes, you will be a bit wiser.

The author describes Tools of Titans as a buffet, where you pick the food you like, and leave what you don’t like. I would rather compare it to a swamp, where you try to step only on the least squishy parts so you don’t get all the mud on your cloths. There are some good tips, but they are buried beneath a heap of bland, repetitive stuff you probably aren’t interested in. And the bits you do find are covered within just few lines of text, leaving you mostly  unfulfilled.


I enjoyed parts of it and did not enjoy other parts.

Key points

  • Look at these successful people and learn their ways!
  • No, really, it’s a collection of interview excerpts. No more, no less.
  • It focuses on the areas health, wealth and wisdom, although the selection of interviewed experts is rather arbitrary.

Author affiliations

Tim Ferris is an author of self-help books, influential social media creator (The Tim Ferriss Show), founder and tech investor. He is also a public speaker on various self-help topics.

Review copy

copy bought
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (December 6, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1328683788

Get the book on*
Get the book on*
Get the book on*
Get the German version on*

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers Book Cover Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers
Tim Ferriss
December 6, 2016
Tools der Titanen: Die Taktiken, Routinen und Gewohnheiten der Weltklasse-Performer, Ikonen und Milliardäre
varying, mostly neutral

Wouldn't  it be fun to just have a nice talk with your friends and then sell the transcript for money? Tools of Titans tries to get away with that.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: