“Tools of Titans” Quotes

I recently read “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, And Habits of Billionaires, Icons, And World-Class Performers” by Tim Ferriss. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. The person’s name who said the quote appears directly above the quote with a colon after their name. If there’s no new name, it’s the same person as the previous quote(s). If you find these quotes interesting, please click here to buy the full book.

Tim Ferriss:
“You create yourself, instead of seeking to discover yourself. There is value in the latter, but it’s mostly past-tense. It’s a rearview mirror. Looking out the windshield is how you get where you want to go.” (xxii)

“The superheroes you have in your mind are nearly all walking flaws who’ve maximized 1 or 2 strengths. Humans are imperfect creatures. You don’t “succeed” because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them.” (xxiii)

“It’s how I frame the importance of the first 60 to 90 minutes of the day. They facilitate or handicap the next 12+ hours. I’ve deliberately set a low bar for “win.”” (143)

(Morning rituals) “Do 5 to 10 Reps of something (

(Morning rituals) “Add one of the following to your drinking mug: 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or 1 scoop of Quest MCT Oil Powder.” (146)

(5 minutes) “To be answered in the morning:
I am grateful for… 1. ____ 2. ____ 3.____
What would make today great? 1. ____ 2. ___ 3.___
Daily affirmations. I am… 1. ___ 2. ___ 3. ___

To be filled in at night:
3 amazing things that happened today… 1. ___ 2. ___ 3. ___
How could I have made today better? 1. ___ 2. ___ 3. ___”

“Most of our waking hours, we feel as though we’re in a trench on the front lines with bullets whizzing past our heads. Through 20 minutes of consistent meditation, I can become the commander, looking out at the battlefield from a hilltop. I’m able to look at a map of the territory and make high-level decisions.” (150)

“Meditation simply helps you channel drive toward the few things that matter, rather than every moving target and imaginary opponent that pops up.” (151)

“If you want to try mantra-based meditation without a course, you can sit and silently repeat on two-syllable word (I’ve used “na-ture” before) for 10 to 20 minutes first thing in the morning.” (151)

“If you spend even a second noticing this wandering and bringing your attention back to your mantra, that is a “successful” session. As Tara Brach pointed out to me, the muscle you’re working is bringing your attention back to something. My sessions are 99% monkey mind, but it’s the other 1% that matters. If you’re getting frustrated, your standards are too high or your sessions are too long.” (152)

“Here’s my 8-step process for maximizing efficacy (doing the right things):
Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen. Email is the mind-killer.
Make a cup of tea and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper.
Write down the 3 to 5 things – and no more – that are making you the most anxious or uncomfortable. They’re often things that have been punted form one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Most important usually equal most uncomfortable, with some chance of rejection or conflict.
For each item, ask yourself: “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?” “Will moving this forward make all the other to-dos unimportant or easier to knock off later?” Put another way: “What, if done, will make all of the rest easier or irrelevant?”
Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.
Block out at 2 to 3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow.
TO BE CLEAR: Block out at 2 to 3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work. No phone calls or social media allowed.
If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t freak out and downward-spiral; just gently come back to your ONE to-do.” (200)

“If I have10 important things to do in a day, it’s 100% certain nothing important will get done that day. On the other hand, i can usually handle one must-do item and block out my lesser behaviors for 2 to 3 hours a day.” (201)

“Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.” (201)

“If you didn’t get into the prospect’s mind first, don’t give up hope. Find a new category you can be first in. It’s not as difficult as you might think… if you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.” (277)

“When you launch a new product, the first question to ask yourself is not ‘How is this new product better than the competition?’ but ‘First what?’ In other words, what category is this new product first in?” (277)

“This is counter to classic marketing thinking, which is brand oriented: How do I get people to prefer my brand? Forget the brand. Think categories. Prospects are on the defensive when it comes to brands. Everyone talks about why their brand is better. But prospects have an open mind when it come sto categories. Everyone is interested in what’s new. Few people are interested in what’s better.” (278)

“If you understand principles, you can create tactics. If you are dependent on perishable tactics, you are always at a disadvantage.” (289)

“If you ad a + to the end of any bit.ly URL, you can see stats related to that link.” (300)

“Go to any Kickstarter project, click on Share, and pick a social network, like Twitter. A pre-populated tweet will appear with a shortlink. Copy and paste the link alone into a new tab, add + to the end, and hit Return.” (300)

“If you drag and drop any image file into the search bar at images.google.com, you’ll be shown every website that has ever posted that image.” (301)

“The question I ask whenever I’m straining for extended periods is, “What would this look like if it were easy?”” (357)

“Schedule things in advance to prevent yourself from backing out… Make commitments in a high-energy state so that you can’t back out when you’re in a low-energy state.” (380)

“To develop your edge initially, you learn to set priorities; to maintain your edge, you need to defend against the priorities of others. Once you reach a decent level of professional success, lack of opportunity won’t kill you. It’s drowning in “kinda cool” commitments that will skin the ship.” (387)

“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” (468)

“Write down a precise sequence of curse words that takes 7 to 10 seconds to read. Then, before a creative work session of some type, read it quickly and loudly like you’re casting a spell or about to go postal.” (529)

“8 Tactics for dealing with haters:
It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.
10% of people will find a way to take anything personally. Expect it and treat it as math.
When in doubt, starve it of oxygen.
If you respond, don’t over-apologize.
You can’t reason someone out of something they didn’t reason themselves into.
“Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity. You’ll avoid the tough decisions, and you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted.” -Colin Powell
“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” -Epictetus
“Living well is the best revenge.” -George Herbert” (534-537)

“There is a mason jar on my kitchen counter with JAR OF AWESOME in glitter letters on the side. Anytime something really cool happens in a day, something that made me excited or joyful, doctor’s orders are to write it down on a slip of paper and put it in this mason jar. When something great happens, you think you’ll remember it 3 months later, but you won’t.” (570)

“What if I did the opposite for 48 hours?” (594)

“If I could only work 2 hours per week on my business, what would I do?” (596)

“1) To get huge, good things done, you need to be okay with letting the small, bad things happen. 2) People’s IQs seem to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them.” (597)

“What if I couldn’t pitch my product directly? What if I had to sell around the product?” (598)

“People don’t like being sold products, but we all like being told stories.” (599)

“Instead of answering, “what should we do?” I tried first to hone in on answering, “What should we simplify?” (600)

“What should I put on my not-to-do list?” (600)

“A lion is fully capable of capturing, killing, and eating a field mouse. But it turns out that the energy required to do so exceeds the caloric content of the mouse itself. So a lion that spent its day hunting and eating field mice would slowly starve to death. A lion can’t live on field mice. A lion needs antelope. Antelope are big animals. They take more speed and strength to capture and kill, and once killed, they provide a feast for the lion and her pride… So ask yourself at the end of the day, “Did I spend today chasing mice or hunting antelope?” (601)

“Killing yourself is like taking your pain, multiplying it by 10, and giving it to the ones who love you.” (624)

“If you can’t make yourself happy, do little things to make other people happy. This is a very effective magic trick. Focus on others instead of yourself. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line.” (627)

Dr. Peter Attia:
“Success is: Do your kids remember you for being the best dad? Not the add who gave them everything, but will they be able to tell you anything one day? Will they be able to call you out of the blue, any day, no matter what? Are you the first person they want to ask for advice? And at the same time, can you hit it out of the park in whatever it is you decide to do, as a lawyer, as a doctor, as a stockbroker, as a whatever?” (71)

Gabby Reece:
“I always say that I’ll go first… That means if I’m checking out at the store, I’ll say hello first. If I’m coming across somebody and make eye contact, I’ll smile first. [I wish] people would experiment with that in their life a little bit: Be first, because – not all times, but most times – it comes in your favor.” (94)

“If the woman can refrain from trying to change or mother her partner, she has a greater opportunity of putting herself in a position where the guy will respect her. A man needs support. I mean, I love you guys and you’re all strong, but you’re very fragile, and you need to e supported and [for us to] help you fully realize your voice, whatever that is.” (97)

Lao Tzu:
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” (104)

Jane McGonigal:
“If you play Tetris after witnessing a traumatic event [ideally within 6 hours, but it’s been demonstrated at 24 hours], it prevent flashbacks and lowers symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.” (133)

“We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.” (149)

Chade-Meng Tan
“With “Just Note Gone” we train the mind to notice that something previously experienced is no more. For example, at the end of a breath, notice that the breath is over. Gone. As a sound fades away, notice when it is over. Gone. At the end of a thought, notice that the thought is over. Gone. At the end of an experience of emotion – joy, anger, sadness, or anything else – notice it is over. Gone.” (156)

“A kind thought is rewarding in and of itself… All other things being equal, to increase your happiness, all you have to do is randomly wish for somebody else to be happy. That is all. It basically takes no time and no effort.” (158)

Coach Sommer:
“Dealing with the temporary frustration of not making progress is an integral part of the path towards excellence. In fact, it is essential and something that every single elite athlete has had to learn to deal with. If the pursuit of excellence was easy, everyone would do it. In fact, this impatience in dealing with frustration is the primary reason that most people fail to achieve their goals. Unreasonable expectations timewise, resulting in unnecessary frustration, due to a perceived feeling of failure. Achieving the extraordinary is not a linear process.
The secret is to show up, do the work, and go home.
A blue collar work ethic married to indomitable will. It is literally that simple. Nothing interferes. Nothing can sway you from your purpose. Once the decision is made, simply refuse to budge. Refuse to compromise.
And accept that quality long-term results require quality long-term focus. No emotion. No drama. No beating yourself up over small bumps in the roads. Learn to enjoy and appreciate the process. This is especially important because you are going to spend far more time on the actual journey than with those all too brief moments of triumph at the end.
Certainly celebrate the moments of triumph when they occur. More importantly, learn from defeats when they happen. In fact, if you are into encountering defeat on a fairly regular basis, you are not trying hard enough. ANd absolutely refuse to accept less than your best.
Throw out a timeline. It will take what it takes.
If the commitment is to a long-term goal and not to a series of smaller intermediate goals, then only one decision needs to be made and adhered to. Clear, simple, straightforward. Much easier to maintain than having to make small decision after small decision to stay the course when dealing with each step along the way. This provides far too many opportunities to inadvertently drift from your chosen goal. The single decision is one of the most powerful tools in the toolbox.” (161)

Chris Sacca:
“It may be lucky, but it’s not an accident.” (164)

“A shirt (wearing the same crazy shirt every day) might seem like a small thing, but Chris realized early on that being a successful investor isn’t simply knowing which companies to invest in. part of the process is ensuring founders know who you are.” (167)

“Never forget that underneath all the math and the MBA bullshit talk, we are all still emotionally driven human beings. We want to attach ourselves to narratives. We don’t act because of equations. We follow our beliefs. We get behind leaders who stir our feelings. IN the early days of your venture, if you find someone diving too deep into the numbers, that means they are struggling to find a reason to deeply care about you.” (168)

“Weirdness is why we adore our friends… Weirdness is what bonds us to our colleagues. Weirdness is what sets us apart, gets us hired. Be your unapologetically weird self. In fact, being weird may even find you the ultimate happiness.” (169)

Marc Andreessen:
“Each of our general partners has the ability to pull the trigger on a deal without a vote or without consensus. If the person closest to the deal has a very strong degree of positive commitment and enthusiasm about it, then we should do that investment, even if everybody else in the room thinks it’s the stupidest thing they’ve ever heard… however, you don’t get to do that completely on your own without stress-testing. If necessary, we create a ‘red team.’ We’ll formally create the countervailing force to argue the other side… Whenever Ben brings in a deal, I just beat the shit out of it. I might think it’s the best idea I’ve ever heard of, but I’ll just trash the crap out of it and try to get everybody else to pile on. And then, at the end of it, if he’s still pounding the table saying, “no, no, this is the thing…’ then we say we’re all in. We’re all behind you… It’s a ‘disagree and commit’ kind of culture. By the way, he does the same thing to me. It’s the torture test.” (172)

“Everything around you that you call ‘life’ was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.” (174)

“My goal is not to fail fast. My goal is to succeed over the long run. They are not the same thing.” (175)

“Show me an incumbent bigco failing to adapt to change, I’ll show you top execs paid huge cash compensation for quarterly and annual goals.” (175)

Arnold Schwarzenegger:
“I am a big believer that if you have a very clear vision of where you want to go, then the rest of it is much easier. Because you always know why you are training 5 hours a day, you always know why you are pushing and going through the pain barrier, and why you have to eat more, and why you have to struggle more, and why you have to be more disciplined… I felt that I could win it, and that was what I was there for. I wasn’t there to compete. I was there to win.” (177)

Derek Sivers:
“If more information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” (185)

“When you’re earlier in your career, I think the best strategy is to just say ‘yes’ to everything. Every little gig. You just never know what are the lottery tickets.” (187)

“When you’re thinking of how to make your business bigger, it’s tempting to try to think all the big thoughts, the world-changing, massive-action plans. But please know that it’s often the tiny details that really thrill someone enough to make them tell all their friends about you.” (193)

“”Don’t be a donkey” rule. (Donkey can’t decide between food and water, and dies of starvation in the middle.) In a world of distraction, single-tasking is a superpower.” (471)

Alexis Ohanian:
“Improve a notification email from your business (e.g., subscription confirmation, order confirmation, whatever): Invest that little bit of time to make it a little bit more human.” (195)

Neil Gaiman:
“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” (197)

Tony Robbins:
“Life is always happening for us, not to us. It’s our job to find out where the benefit is. If we do, life is magnificent.” (211)

Casey Neistat:
“What is the ultimate quantification of success? For me, it’s not how much time you spend doing what you love. It’s how little time you spend doing what you hate.” (220)

Morgan Spurlock:
“The crew shirts from the first Avatar production said: HOPE IS NOT A STRATEGY. LUCK IS NOT A FACTOR. FEAR IS NOT AN OPTION.” (223)

Thomas Edison:
“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” (231)

Seth Godin:
“We need to teach kids two things: 1) how to lead, and 2) how to solve interesting problems. Because the fact is, there are plenty of countries on Earth where there are people who are willing to be obedient and work harder for less money than us. So we cannot out-obedience the competition. Therefore, we have to out-lead or out-solve the other people.” (242)

Scott Adams:
“There are six elements of humor: naughty, clever, cute, bizarre, mean, and recognizable. You have to have at least two dimension to succeed.” (262)

Chase Jarvis:
“If I look across and everyone else is doing X, how do you zig when everyone else is zagging?” (283)

Dan Carlin:
“I’ve heard said, ‘Amateurs built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic.’” (285)

“Copyright your faults.” (286)

Alex Blumberg:
“Prompt to Elicit Stories (Most Interviewers Are Weak at This)
“Tell me about a time when…”
“Tell me about the day [or moment or time] when…”
“Tell me the story of… [how you came to major in X, how you met so-and-so, etc.]”
“Tell me about the day you realized ___…”
“What were the steps that got you to ___?”
“Describe the conversation when…” (304)

Stephen Hawking:
“When you complain, nobody wants to help you.” (314)

Phil Libin:
“Every single thing in your company breaks every time you roughly triple in size.” (317)

Jerry Colonna:
“How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?” (317)

“The minutiae fit around the big things, but the big things don’t fit around the minutiae.” (330)

Ryan Holiday:
“Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you’re the least important person in the room – until you change that with results.” (338)

“Imagine if for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something
You could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you? The cumulative effect this would have over time would be profound: You’d learn a great deal by solving diverse problems. You’d develop a reputation for being indispensable. You’d have countless new relationships. You’d have an enormous bank of favors to call upon down the road.” (338)

Neil Strauss:
“First, I edit for me. (What do I like?)
Second, I edit for my fans. (What would be most enjoyable and helpful to my fans?)
Third, I edit for my haters. (What would my detractors try and pick apart, discredit, or make fun of?)” (349)

“Open up and be vulnerable with the person you’re going to interview before you start.” (350)

Chuck Close:
“Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will – through work – bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea.’” (357)

Scott Belsky:
“The dirty little secret is that every success was almost a failure. Timing and uncontrollable circumstances lay more of a role than any of us care to admit.” (361)

Rolf Potts:
“Work is how you settle your financial and emotions debts – so that your travels are not an escape from your real life, but a discovery of your real life.” (367)

“The simple willingness to improvise is more vital, in the long run, than research.” (636)

Peter Diamandis:
“I think of problems as gold mines. The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities.” (370)

“When you’re going 10% bigger, you’re competing against everybody. Everybody’s trying to go 10% bigger. When you’re trying to go 10 times bigger, you’re there by yourself.” (374)

“When you are trying to go 10 times bigger, you have to start with a clean sheet of paper, and you approach the problem completely differently.” (374)

“When you try to go 10 times bigger versus 10% bigger, it’s typically not 100 times harder, but the reward is 100 times more.” (374)

Sophia Amoruso:
“I like to make promises that I’m not sure I can keep and then figure out how to keep them. I think you can will things into happening by just committing to them sometimes.” (377)

B.J. Novak:
“Any time I’m telling myself, ‘But I’m making so much money,’ that’s a warning sign that I’m doing the wrong thing.” (379)

“Money can always be regenerated. Time and reputation cannot.” (379)

“When possible, always give the money to charity, as it allows you to interact with people well above your pay grade.” (379)

“B.J. once brought a bunch of jokes to Steve Carell, who said, “These just feel like jokes to me.” For Steve, comedy was a by-product of authenticity. This is the difference between a kid who knows he’s cute and one who doesn’t (the one who knows he’s cut isn’t cute).” (380)

“If you separate idea and execution, you don’t put too much pressure on either of them.” (381)

Greg McKeown:
“Make your peace with the fact that saying ‘no’ often requires trading popularity for respect.” (396)

Maria Popova:
“If you’re looking for a formula for greatness, the closest we’ll ever get, I think, is this: Consistency driven by a deep love of the work.” (406)

“The second you start doing it for an audience, you’ve lost the long game because creating something that is rewarding and sustainable over the long run requires, most of all, keeping yourself excited about it.” (410)

Jocko Willink:
“Stay humble or get humbled.” (416)

Marc Goodman:
“Back in 2008 [in Mumbai], terrorists were using search engines like Google to determine who shall live and who shall die… When you’re sharing on Facebook, it’s not just the media and marketing companies that you need to be concerned about.” (425)

“By using a made-up name for your car reservation, if you see a placard with your real name on it, you know it’s a set-up. If you become successful – or simply appear successful on the Internet – and travel a lot overseas, this is not paranoia.” (425)

Chris Fussell:
“You should have a running list of three people that you’re always watching: someone senior to you that you want to emulate, a peer who you think is better at the job than you are and who you respect, and someone subordinate who’s doing the job you did – one, two, or three years ago – better than you did it.” (437)

Kevin Kelly:
“To me, success is you make your own slot. You have a new slot that didn’t exist before.” (473)

Whitney Cummings:
“As a writer, you have to be vulnerable.” (478)

“In order for art to imitate life, you have to have a life.” (478)

“My trauma therapist said every time you meet someone, just in your head say, ‘I love you’ before you have a conversation with them, and that conversation is going to go a lot better.” (479)

“When you tell the truth about your embarrassing moments and show your shadow, a catharsis happens, which is what laughter is. I promise, if you just tell the truth and get your heart broken as a comedian, you will have a house.” (480)

“My definition of ‘love’ is being willing to die for someone who you yourself want to kill. That, in my experience, is kind of the deal.” (481)

Bryan Callen:
“There are three things you can’t really fake: one is fighting, the second is sex, and the third is comedy. It doesn’t matter who your publicist is or how famous you are, man – if you don’t bring the money, it gets quiet in that room fast.” (484)

“I ask myself what I’m afraid of, what I’m ashamed of, who I’m pretending to be, who I really am, where I am versus where I thought I’d be… If you watched yourself from afar, if you met yourself, what would you say to yourself? What would you tell you?” (484)

Joseph Campbell:
“There is great security in insecurity.” (485)

Tim Kreider:
“I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.” (491)

“This busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness: Obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.” (491)

“It’s hard to find anything to say about life without immersing yourself in the world, but it’s also just about impossible to figure out what that might be, or how best to say it, without getting the hell out of it again.” (492)

“I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since you can always make more money.” (494)

“Aim for the heart, not the head… Once you get the heart, you can go to the head. Once you get the heart and the head, then you’ll have a pathway to the soul.”

Rick Rubin:
“I think people want things that are really passionate, and often, the best version they could be is not for everybody… The best art divides the audience. If you put out a record, and half the people who hear it absolutely love it, and half the people who hear it absolutely hate it, you’ve done well, because it’s pushing the boundary.” (504)

“If you listen to the greatest songs ever made, that would be a better way to work through finding your own voice today, rather than listening to what’s on the radio now and thinking, ‘I want to compete with this.’” (505)

Paulo Coelho:
“There are only four stories: a love story between two people, a love story between three people, the struggle for power, and the journey. Every single book that is in the bookstore deals with these four archetypes, these four themes.” (511)

“Books are not here to show how intelligent and cultivated you are. Books are out there to show your heart, to show your soul, and to tell your fans, readers: You are not alone.” (514)

Amanda Palmer:
“‘Honor those who seek the truth, beware of those who’ve found it’ [adapted from Voltaire]. A reminder that the path never ends and that absolutely nobody has this shit figured out.” (522)

Eric Weinstein:
“We don’t talk about teaching disabilities. We only talk about learning disabilities.” (529)

“It was Julian Schwinger, the great Harvard physicist, I think, who was asked if he would teach the 9:00 a.m. quantum mechanics course, and he stopped for a second. The person asking said, ‘Well, what’s the problem, Professor Schwinger?’ and he answered, ‘I don’t know if I can stay up that late.’” (530)

“Even though I wanted to do science rather than technology, it’s better to be in an expanding world and not quite in exactly the right field, than to be in a contracting world where people’s worst behavior comes out. In the latter, your mind is grooved in defensive and rent-seeking types of ways. Life is too short to be petty and defensive and cruel to other people who are seeking to innovate alongside you.” (530)

Naval Ravikant:
“If you want to be successful, surround yourself with people who are more successful than you are, but if you want to be happy, surround yourself with people who are less successful than you are.” (547)

“All of the value in life, including in relationships, comes from compound interest. People who regularly fight with others will eventually fight with you. I’m not interested in anything that’s unsustainable or even hard to sustain, including difficult relationships.” (547)

“In any situation in life, you only have three options. You always have three options. You can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it. What is not a good option is to sit around wishing you would change it but not changing it, wishing you would leave it but not leaving it, and not accepting it. It’s that struggle, that aversion, that is responsible for most of our misery.” (548)

“Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.” (550)

“I try not to have more than one big desire in my life at any given time, and I also recognize that as the axis of my suffering. I realize that that’s where I’ve chosen to be unhappy.” (550)

“If you can’t see yourself working with someone for life, don’t work with them for a day.” (551)

“What you choose to work on, and who you choose to work with, are far more important than how hard you work.” (551)

“My one repeated learning in life: ‘There are no adults.’ Everyone’s making it up as they go along. Figure it out yourself, and do it.” (552)

Glenn Beck:
“People are starving for something authentic. They’ll accept you, warts and all, if that’s who you really are.” (554)

“Be willing to fail or succeed on who you really are. Don’t ever try to be anything else. What you are is good enough for whatever it is you’re doing.” (554)

Thomas Jefferson:
“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” (554)

Sam Kass:
“When you think it’s ready, add another lemon. Pros bump up the acidity level… it makes everything taste better.” (559)

Richard Betts:
“If you work for the awards, you don’t do good work. But if you do good work, the awards will come.” (565)

Mike Birbiglia:
“Don’t waste your time on marketing, just try to get better. And also, it’s not about being good; it’s about being great.” (569)

“Because what I find, the older I get, is that a lot of people are good, and a lot of people are smart, and a lot of people are clever. But not a lot of people give you their soul when they perform.” (569)

Stephen J. Dubner:
“Our brainstorming was: Let’s come up with as many ideas as possible, and then put them under scrutiny, and basically try to kill them off, and if they were unkillable, then we’d keep going with them.” (576)

Josh Waitzkin:
“Ending the work day with very high quality, which for one thing means you’re internalizing quality overnight.” (579)

Glenn Close:
“Don’t go for funny. Go for the truth, and you’ll hit funny along the way.” (593)

Dan Sullivan:
“If you’ve got enough money to solve the problem, you don’t have the problem.” (602)

Jamie Foxx:
“When you raise your kids, you’re the bow, they’re the arrow, and you just try to aim them in the best direction that you can, and hopefully your aim isn’t too off.” (606)

“You are either great or you don’t exist.” (606)

“It’s never been easier to be a “creator,” and it’s never been harder to stand out. Good isn’t good enough.” (607)

Bryan Johnson:
“What can you do that will be remembered in 200 to 400 years?” (609)

“I would say, ‘Tim, if you give me 3 minutes of your time, I will give you $100 if you do not say ‘yes’ to using my service.’ usually they would say something like, ‘That is interesting…’ and I would open my pitch book and walk them through the industry. Here are the providers, here is what they do, here is how they do it, here is what I do. I am the same as everyone else, except with me, you get honesty and transparency and great customer support. So, I became this company’s number-one sales person. I broke all their sales records following this really simple formula of just selling honest and transparency in a broken industry.” (610)

Vivian Greene:
“Life is not waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning how to dance in the rain.” (611)

Lao Tzu:
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” (623)

Robert Rodriguez:
“I wrote everything around what we had, so you never had to go search, and you never had to spend anything on the movie. The movie cost, really, nothing.” (629)

“I didn’t think anyone was going to see El Mariachi. It was really just a test… had I thought I would ever even show it to anybody. Had I thought it would go to a festival and I would submit it, I would have spent ten times as much.” (630)

“There’s freedom in limitations. It’s almost more freeing to know I’ve got to use only these items: turtle, bar, ranch. You’re almost completely free within that.” (630)

“Sometimes I hear new filmmakers talk down about their film, and ‘Oh, nothing worked and it was a disappointment.’ They don’t realize yet that that’s the job. The job is that nothing is going to work at all. So you go: ‘How can I turn it into a positive and get something much better than if I had all the time and money in the world?’” (631)

“I want all of my movies to not have enough money, not enough time, so that we’re forced to be more creative. Because that’s going to give it some spark that you can’t manufacture. People will tap into it or they’ll go: ‘I don’t know why I like this movie. It’s kind of a weird movie, but there’s something about it that makes me want to watch it again and again because it’s got a life to it.’ Sometimes art should be imperfect in a way.’” (631)

“That was the idea – I’m there to learn. I’m not there to win; I’m there to learn, because then I’ll win, eventually.” (632)

“Failure isn’t always durable. You go back and you can look at it and go, ‘Oh, that wasn’t a failure. That was a key moment of my development that I needed to take, and I can trust my instinct. I really can.” (633)

“They key is to do it early. Do it while you’re still shooting. First impressions is everything. I’ll cut a trailer while I’m still shooting and send it to a studio. They’ll try to make their own, over and over, and they can’t get that first thing they saw out of their heads, ‘It’s still not as good as the one we saw.’” (634)

“You get it in your own way – thinking that you needed to know something, a trick or a process, before it would flow. If you got out of the way, it would just flow.” (635)

“You’re just opening up the pipe and the creativity flows through. And as soon as your ego gets in the way, and you go, ‘I don’t know if I know what to do next’ you’ve already put ‘I’ in front of it and you’ve already blocked it a little bit. ‘I did it once, but I don’t know if I can do it again.’ It was never you. THe best you can do is just to get out of the way so it comes through.” (636)

“Even if I didn’t know what to do, I just had to begin. For a lot of people, that’s the part that keeps them back the most. They think, ‘Well, I don’t have an idea, so I can’t start.’ I know you’ll only get the idea once you start. It’s this totally reverse thing. You have to act first before inspiration will hit. You don’t wait for inspiration and then act, or you’re never going to act, because you’re never going to have the inspiration, not consistently.” (636)

“That’s the beauty of it. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward.” (637)

Francis Ford Coppola:
“Failure is not necessarily durable. Remember that the things that they fire you for when you are young are the same things they give lifetime achievement awards for when you’re old.” (632)


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