7 Book Recommendations from Tim Ferriss's Tools of Titans

Copy of Tools of Titans sitting on a wooden table

It’s often said that we are the average of the people we spend the most time with. If your friends eat out a lot, chances are you don’t buy groceries very often. If your family spends more time reading than watching TV, chances are you do to.

So it follows, that, if you want to be more successful, you should spend more time with successful people. And reading Tim Ferriss’s new book, Tools of Titans, is a great way to start doing just that.

Over the years, Tim has interviewed tons successful people from a huge variety of fields on his podcast, the Tim Ferriss Show. Whether he’s speaking with a retired US Army general, a stand-up comedian, a tech company founder, or an Olympic coach, Tim delves into the secrets of their success that anyone can apply to their own lives and work.

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Now, Tim has distilled all the key points from those interviews into a book you can easily reference any time.

It’s the kind of book you’ll want to keep on your desk for the next time you feel stuck and need a bit of inspiration. Want to know how Seth Godin thinks about money? Flip to page 238. Want Tracy DiNunzio’s advice on how to complain less? Flip to page 314.

Included among the countless stories, insights, and ideas are Tim’s guests’ personal book recommendations. Almost every expert interviewee was asked to share their favourite books, guaranteeing you won’t run out of things to read anytime soon. While you’ll need to check out Tools of Titans to get the full list, I’ve pulled out a few of my favourite recommendations, specifically tailored for entrepreneurs.

1. Invisible Selling Machine

Recommended by: Daymond John

Daymond John is CEO and founder of FUBU, a $6 billion lifestyle brand he started in 1992 with $40. Daymond has also won may industry awards and appears on ABC’s Shark Tank.

My parents always taught me that my day job would never make me rich. It’d be my homework.

Daymond’s book recommendations include Invisible Selling Machine by Ryan Deiss, a step-by-step guide to automating your entire sales process. A well structured sales funnel is the key to scaling your business and this book explains everything you need to know to do just that.

2. Stumbling on Happiness

Recommended by: Maria Popova

Maria Popova is the founder of Brain Pickings, a content-rich website about living a more fulfilling life. It originally started as a weekly email to seven of Maria’s friends in 2006. Maria has also been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, and Wired UK.

Ours is a culture where we wear our ability to get by on very little sleep as a kind of badge of honor that symbolizes work ethic, toughness, or some other virtue—but really, it’s a total profound failure of priorities and of self-respect.

Much of Maria’s work is about living a more fulfilling life so it’s not surprising that one of her recommendations included Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. Written by a prominent Harvard psychologist, it includes ground-breaking research to demonstrate why we’re so bad at predicting what will make us happy—and what to do about it.

3. What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes From a Street-Smart Executive

Recommended by: Ramit Sethi

Ramit Sethi’s blog, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, dishes out regular advice on things like starting a business, improving your personal finances, and just generally winning at life. He’s also written a book by the same name.

My emails look like I am writing to you because I want to be your friend...at scale.

One of Ramit’s book recommendations is What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark H. McCormack. The author is credited with founding the modern-day sports marketing industry—his first client was golf giant, Arnold Palmer. In this book, he shares his advice on things like closing deals, being a more effective leader, and getting the most out of meetings.

4. The Willpower Instinct

Recommend by: Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal is an author and research affiliate at the Institute for the Future, but may be best known for her TED talks on games. She has been called one of the “Top Ten Innovators to Watch” by Business Week and her work has been featured in publications such as Wired and the New York Times.

I’ve learned an important trick: to develop foresight, you need to practice hindsight.

There’s no question that willpower presents a great challenge for all of us. It’s not an unlimited resource and when we’re tired, we make bad decisions, or feel unable to make decisions at all. Jane’s book recommendation, The Willpower Instinct, uses the latest research to help readers optimize their willpower for maximum output.

5. Ogilvy on Advertising

Recommended by: Noah Kagan

Noah Kagan was employee #30 at Facebook and #4 at Mint. Since then, he’s built his own company, SumoMe. Noah also teaches entrepreneurship through content and courses and has created several successful side businesses as case studies.

You have to ask for things and you have to put yourself out there.

Copywriting nerds will likely already be familiar with Noah’s book recommendation, Ogilvy on Advertising, written by one of the world’s most sought after advertisers David Ogilvy. This candid primer on all aspects of advertising is a must-read for anyone who wants to write more persuasive ads.

6. How to Be A Movie Star

Recommended by: Margaret Cho

Margaret Cho is an actress, comedian, fashion designer, and singer-songwriter. She has created a tremendous body of creative work and is well-known for her ability to quickly neutralize hecklers when she’s on stage.

I’m not the kind of artist that can go on autopilot.

Margaret's book recommendation, How to Be a Movie Star by William J. Mann is a biography of the accomplished actress, Elizabeth Taylor. This biography follows the ups and downs of Elizabeth’s journey to stardom, with much to learn along the way.

7. It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be

Recommended by: Casey Neistat

Casey Neistat is an New York-based filmmaker, YouTuber, and founder of Beme. His contributions to the film world have been significant, but what’s most impressive is how Casey built up his own success over time, having supported himself since the age of 15.

You can always work harder than the next guy.

As a self-made man, Casey is living proof that you don’t need to be born into wealth to become successful. His book recommendation, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be, teaches a similar message. If you have big ambitions, hard work can get you there, and this book by Paul Arden has advice that will help—in an easily digestible format.

These seven book recommendations are just the tip of the iceberg. Tools of Titans features hundreds more book recommendations, insights, ideas, and success secrets for aspiring entrepreneurs.