Faddish Advice
Tools of Titans

Faddish Advice

Best-selling author Tim Ferriss offers a cornucopia of dietary, training, spiritual, financial and drug advice to help you become successful.

Nothing should stop you from realizing your 10-year plan in six months, says household name Tim Ferriss – a best-selling author, podcast host and investor. He presents a seemingly bottomless compendium of modern wisdom he gleaned from hundreds of interviews with ex-Special Forces members, athletes, scientists, comedians, writers, actors, investors and entrepreneurs. 

Ferriss conveys their advice in his classic actionable, revelatory sound bites. Understanding his audience, the author boils every concept down to its most digestible, condensed form. Rather than vest in philosophies, Ferriss presents contemporary ideas that mostly relate to the body and how you might manipulate yours to become stronger, smarter and healthier. As always, Ferriss’s mad enthusiasm for his subject carries a certain featherweight quality, which, arguably, undermines his passion for what might be true health revelations – or may be just today’s fads.

Extreme Temperatures

“Hyperthermic conditioning” means calculated exposure to heat by, for example, going to a sauna or taking a hot bath. Many athletes use sauna sessions to improve their endurance.

Wim ‘the Iceman’ Hoff takes cold to terrifying extremes (his retinas froze once while swimming in a lake under sheets of ice).Tim Ferriss

Ferriss asserts that exposure to cold helps you burn fat, improve your mood and strengthen your immune system.

Strength Training

Ferriss argues for the primacy of physical strength over all other health attributes.

Strength is the mother quality of all physical qualities.Tim Ferriss

But, to avoid bulking up, he cautions not to repeat any strength exercise more than five times, to never push until you feel the burn and to enjoy your workouts. That Ferriss himself stays as lean as a whippet speaks for his methods.

Ketogenic Diet

A keto diet aims to make your body generate energy from stored or ingested fat instead of from blood sugar. To enter a state of ketosis, you can either fast, diet or take ketone supplements.

Fasting sensitizes cancer cells to chemo…but it also helps normal cells resist the toxicity.Tim Ferriss

If you want to continue in a state of ketosis after breaking your fast, make sure that 70-80% of your calorie intake is fat and that you eat few carbs. The “Slow-Carb Diet” can be effective for weight loss: For six days a week, don’t eat starches, like pasta, bread or rice, stick to the same few meals and avoid alcohol and fruit.


Ferriss stays aligned with current trends when he writes that psychedelics allow you to separate yourself from your ego and enter an altered state of consciousness. He states clearly that taking psychedelics is often illegal and urges you to take them only under professional medical supervision. In low doses, he asserts, psychedelics can help you solve creative, non-personal problems and foment inner healing and self-exploration. Taking low doses of certain drugs – microdosing – can combat depression.

Many psychedelics…have been used ceremonially for hundreds or thousands of years by indigenous cultures.Tim Ferriss

Ferriss also recommends a natural psychedelic device, the flotation tank, in which you float in salt water in silence in pitch darkness. This sensory deprivation can lead to a unique experience that relaxes your body and brain.


Focusing your effort on “systems” – habits, relationships and transferable skills – instead of short-term goals aids your success.

Professional snowboarder, skateboarder and two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, for example, promotes the value of “stupid” goals that balance the pressure of achieving serious goals.

A Niche

Co-founding editor of Wired magazine Kevin Kelly argues you can make a living from having around 1,000 superfans who will buy pretty much anything you produce.

For example, B.J. Novak, actor, writer, director and executive producer of The Office explains he didn’t set out to appeal to a wide audience. He wanted his show to become a cult hit with only a small band of loyal followers. However, these followers were tech-savvy, so when the Apple iTunes store launched, the show became a hit and moved over to TV.

Aim to be in the top 25% in two or three areas, instead of trying to be the best at one thing. A combination of two or three skills most people lack makes you more valuable.

Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable.Tim Ferriss

As an entrepreneur, consider which category your product could dominate. For example, after IBM’s big success with computers, many others followed in its footsteps. Yet its most successful competitor was Digital Equipment Corporation, which positioned itself as first in minicomputers.

Discipline and Structure

Ferriss cites former US Navy officer, SEAL commander and author Jocko Willink, who argues that, if you want to be stronger mentally, you have to “be tougher” when making your next decision – for example, to refuse dessert or to take the stairs, even when you feel tired.

Discipline equals freedom.Jocko Willink

Best-selling author Paulo Coelho takes the same approach when he gets stuck while writing. Instead of stepping away from a book, he sticks with it until he finds a way forward.

Engaging Online

Ferriss details some of the most painful experiences he had with online criticism.

Life is a full-contact sport, especially on the internet.Tim Ferriss

To deal with online haters, he recommends you focus on your true fans, expect a percentage of people to take offense no matter what, never react to online criticism, embrace being foolish and forget trying to make everyone like you.

Fears and Failures

Ferriss recommends fear-rehearsing by practicing what life would be like if you lost all your money, including sleeping in a sleeping bag outside, wearing the same clothes for up to two weeks, fasting or going to the library to use the internet.

What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. Tim Ferriss

Resolve to do one thing that scares you every day. Ferriss notes that living the life you want means choosing between comfort and courage.

Energizer Bunny

Ferriss is like the Energizer Bunny, always leaping with manic energy from one topic to the next in his characteristic short, punchy, confident sentences. His lack of self-doubt and astonishing success grant him a certain credibility, which his framing of trendy notions as universal truths undermines profoundly. But the guy does so much with his life, and has garnered such a broad range of skills, that you may have a hard time resisting his advice – even if it is a bit crackpot. If you don’t take the value of his advice too seriously, Ferriss proves fun to read and will shake the cobwebs from your brain.

Tim Ferriss also is the author of the number-one New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers Tribe of Mentors, The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body.

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