Monday, May 01, 2017

Tools of Titans - Book Review and Actionable Items

I love Tim Ferris and his hacks. [ 4 Hour Work Week ] 

In Tools of Titans he has put together a bunch of show notes from his podcast interviews. Very shoddy and all mixed up and very difficult to read because of the links he has provided all over the place [ How am I supposed to watch a YouTube video on Kindle? ]. This style might not be digestible for some.

Other than this little downside on the messy format - each and every chapter has some good take away or the other. Each of the celebrities [ from Startup, Tech, Media... name anything ]  have a few habits which has made them successful and they have shared it in this book.

This book is like a Gold mine. Lot of actionable items. 

Ok - here are some of the key take aways I am making it part of my daily routine. 

1. Cold Showers. After an intense workout, the athletes sweat it out in a  Steam Sauna, then they immediately plunge themselves into a bathtub filled with ice blocks. These are what an Olympic Athelete Trainer makes his athletes do for quick recovery. Well at the least I can take a cold shower - which itself has tremendous benefits. The geyser in our bathroom has conked off - why fix it? Let me see if I can continue through the Bangalore Winter. 

2. Meditation. 90% of the interviewees either do TM or Vipasana Meditation. Every time I came across this while reading the book, I started feeling guilty. I used to do Sudharshan Krista (SKY) once or twice a month - or whenever the top story gets clogged. I used this guilt as a fuel and since last 1 week from Monday thru Saturday I started doing SKY. I could see the results immediately -  my resting heart beat went from an average of 74 to 72 and at times even saw 66 - all within a week. [ Measured with an Apple watch and it is damn accurate. In January I had compared the Apple watch reading real time with an ECG machine when I did the Treadmill test - so this is not just an apple fanboy's assertion ]

3. Early to Rise. Obvious isn't it. Wake up early and use the time to work on a hard problem or a creative pursuit or do meditation. Surya Namaskar ( 10 minutes ) + SKY ( 45 minutes ) + Sahaj Meditation ( 20 minutes ) with breaks in between takes close to 1.5 hours. Also I have now started running on alternate days. All these cost lot of Morning time.

The average wake up time for all these Titans is 4:45 AM. And it is a good sweet spot - not too early, and not too late to do the Meditation + Run. I now wake up between 4 and 5 AM - with no alarm.  On the days I do both SKY + Run - my brain does not get tired at all - even when it turns 10 PM. I produce so much during the day that it is unreal. 

4. Affirmation Journal. Dilbert's Scott Adams - before he became the famous cartoonist + office politics satirist - once attended a Mensa Meeting. One of the participants with an IQ of 180+ told him - daily write your wish in a diary 15 times and watch it come true. Scott Adams thought if a 180+ IQ person is suggesting such a thing - it cannot be stupid. "What the heck - let me give it a shot", he said to himself and suppressing his doubtful part of the brain - he started on an affirmation journal - by affirming daily that he will write a Bestseller. And lo and behold in 4 years his book became a bestseller. When he started writing this affirmation - he was still in the Corporate world - he had not even published a single cartoon. Could be part universe, or could be his own belief in himself. It worked. 

There was another story on Spanx - a young lady who had a rough life, no huge credentials, college drop out -  created a billion dollar company single handedly on her sheer belief by talking to the "Universe" and expecting the Universe to make things happen. 

My Spiritual Writer Guru - Paula Coelho - in The Alchemist says this same thing - When you want something badly, the Universe will  conspire to get it for you. 

I have also heard similar things said by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sadguru, Mata Nirmala Devi - on the existence of "Cosmic Energy" and how opening up your Kundalani Chakras allows one to link to this Cosmic Energy - and things start happening. Everything is inter connected - we do not live in isolation. Looking back at my life I have witnessed such things - how all the bowling pins align themselves into one column and fall so neatly one after the other like dominoes.

Yes, I believe in the "Universe" or the "Cosmic Energy" - and ready to be plugged into this - like Keanu Reaves into the Matrix! 

I have now added Affirmation journal to my daily routine. Daily 15 times I write 2 affirmations - the contents will not share now - you will see the results in the coming years :) 

5. Fasting. Every athlete, ultra marathoner fasts. Either they do an intense monthly fasting for a few days, or go into a weekly juice diet. Fasting is extremely beneficial. I am doing research on how to fast - as a vegetarian - for the upcoming 40 day Ramzan fast. I might take the plunge this year. 

6. Writing Muscle. To do something well, you have to practise on it over and over and over. There were some good tips I picked up. 

Write something, anything - 3 pages a day. Dont worry if it gets published or what the reader will say. Think you are writing to throw it away - so write whatever comes to your mind. So later in the day, when you are composing that difficult email to a customer or an employee - it just flows and you are not stuck. 

The Writing muscle has to be trained and nurtured. 

Create 3 sections - Ideas, Drafts, Publish - and keep moving posts from one bucket to another. Sometimes when creative energy is high - work on the Idea bucket and add as much as possible. When there is a lot of time - move a post from Idea bucket to Drafts bucket and bring the idea to life. When time is short or creative energy is less or waiting for a delayed meeting or want to switch context from an intense coding session - move a post from Draft to Publish and clean up the post to Publish.  This way one is not stuck at the enormosity of the work that goes into publishing a blog post - but can keep working at it in chunks based on the energy level. Yet to implement it ( this very blog post I am doing all 3 at once ).


7. Becoming Strong. Forget the 6 pack or a flat stomach or a PopEye bicep. Focus on becoming Strong. Because that is what will help in old age - instead of being dependent on others. Now this is a good goal. 

I sorely lack in this area. I only do aerobics now. Have to start adding Strength training to my routine. 

If you pick up this book - your mileage will vary dependent on what you want to do with life. There is an entire section  ( book has 3 sections - healthy, wealthy and wise ) devoted to becoming Wealthy. It is how these Titans do investments. Will revisit after I have some stash built.

So that's all folks. 

With some disciplined effort + working out smartly + some help from the Universe - anyone can become a Titan.

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