Timothy Ferriss – “Tribe of Mentors”

(eBook from NetGalley, downloaded 10 November 2017; published 21 November 2017)

I have had a bit of an on-off relationship with Mr Ferriss’ books – his famous “4 Hour Work Week” had some really good points about controlling the need to read new emails as soon as they come in etc but I wouldn’t want to do my job for only four hours a week and I found some of his methods a little iffy … but my interest was piqued by this new project, in which he asked lots of people he knew several carefully crafted questions to draw out their life experience and advice. He makes it clear that the hardest part was sorting the questions out, and they are good ones, for example what’s the best thing you’ve bought recently for under $100, what investments have you made that have made a difference, what book do you give to people, etc.

He interviewed over 100 people and claims that any reader will be inspired / have their life changed by at least 17 of them, while rejecting around half. I’m not sure I found 17 to change my life, but there were some really good ones, and the range of interviewees, from Ashton Kutcher to Icelandic cross-fit champions via Dita von Teese and Neil Gaiman was interesting.

Common points came out time and again: invest in noise-cancelling headphones; take up meditation; do yoga; and walk or run outdoors. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s good that these relatively small efforts help a lot of people, and the repetition reminds us of their worth. I found it a bit odd that he asked some of the cross-fit and power-lifting more questions to do with those specific disciplines, and thought that unbalanced the book a bit. There was a bit of woo and Paolo Coelho enthusiasm which I skimmed: he does talk to a lot of tech and marketing gurus so that will come through.

Some people only had a few questions and pages, others a lot of detail, and it wasn’t clear whether this was because they only chose to answer a few or some bits were edited out. I was disappointed not to have more by Temple Grandin and Gaiman, but that’s a personal reflection.

Things I really liked were the repeated advice to treat invitations as if they were going to happen tomorrow: would you be excited about them or not? Then decide whether to say yes. I also liked Ariana Huffington’s assertion that burnout is NOT a good thing, Temple Grandin’s concentration on “project loyalty”, as in you do a good job and make the project work regardless of the obstacles placed by others, and Steven Pinker’s list of advice to a bright young college graduate: find a balance between something that’s common knowledge and something only you are interested in; ignore advice to follow your intuition without thinking things through properly; and focus on the effectiveness of your actions, not your own self-actualisation. I liked best Jocko Willink’s very practical advice from life as a Navy SEAL – you need discipline to attain freedom, in all sorts of spheres, and when you feel overwhelmed, pick off the thing with the biggest impact and deal with that first. Kristen Ulmer advises to honour your moods by letting them be and then pass, which is something I’ve been trying to do for a while now.

So I did find a lot to like but there were a few repeats and a bit too much info on lifting very heavy weights …

Thank you to Ebury Publishing for making this book available via NetGalley.