Non-Fiction: <i>Tribe of Mentors</i>  by Timothy Ferriss

If you’re like me — and chances are if you’re interested in this book you probably are — then one of your first thoughts will be: “How is this different from Tools of Titans?” Or more to the point: “Which of these two is the must-have? The one I should give as a gift or own?”

Tools of Titans was the last book from Ferris, who at that point went by “Tim” but for some reason in the new book has been changed to “Timothy.” Maybe it’s to help differentiate between the two titles, which I find difficult. Is it Tribe of Titans? Tools of Mentors? No, the new one is Tribe of Mentors (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)… I’m almost positive. Anyway, Tools of Titans was a collection of interviews of the world’s foremost thinkers and performers from various disciplines and fields. This new book is also a collection of thoughts from these types of people and how they achieved and achieve the heights they’ve reached. Some of them are even the same people.

So what’s the difference? Well the short answer is, not much at the heart of it. In the new Tribe of Mentors they are exactly that: short. At least, generally shorter than the sections of interview from Tools. Another difference is that, in this book everyone answers the same question set. The questions will be familiar to listeners of the Tim Ferris Show as some of the questions are the ones he would ask during his “rapid fire” section at the end of the interview.

If you’ve read my review of Tools you know that I consider that book, maybe not life-changing (it’s not quite a deep enough dive to single-handedly change your life), but it could certainly be a springboard for change. This book is no different in that regard. Discovering the failure that lead to the success of Jocko Willink or the book most given by Rick Rubin could inspire thoughts in you that could very well help you find the beginning of a path that leads to profound self-discovery.

So what, other than structure, is the difference between the two books? Well, this is a sequel of sorts and it feels a bit like a sequel. The form questions don’t allow for the freshness you feel when you’re reading Tools. It has a slightly revisited feeling that many sequels have. It’s not stale, not at all. Just somehow lacking the “electricity” I felt reading Tools of Titans.

If you came to this review trying to decide which of the two books to buy, I suppose my answer is: Both. Both are fantastic books you could come back to again and again. But, if you need to pick one for whatever reason, it comes down to preference really. You could choose between the slightly shorter and certainly more structured bits you get from Tribe of Mentors. It’s the kind of chapters, or I suppose interviews, that can be digested in 10 minutes each. Whereas I found it more satisfying to spend a little longer reading the interviews in Tools of Titans. Even stopping to dive more deeply into some of the things that were mentioned.

But, here is the reason I say you should get both, and I think this might be the point: how much wisdom is too much wisdom? My opinion is that there is no such thing. Both these books contain wisdom, there is absolutely no disputing that. A remarkable amount of wisdom really. Ferris says it best in his wrap-up near the end of the book: “To learn from the best you don’t need to meet them, you just need to absorb them. This can be through books, audio, or a single powerful quote.” Both of these books offer up some of the best to absorb. ◊


Leonard Huber is a free thinker who enjoys wine, croissants, American Football, his bicycle and kabocha squash in no particular order. He’s a champion of the artist inside us all and believes life is a balance of discipline and indulgence.

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