Guest book review of Tools Of Titans:

Tim Ferriss is a professional network hub. He makes networks and uses them to sell things. In his early days, he worked at a startup in Silicon Valley. It was failing. So, he needed a new income, fast. What to do? He made a network.

He created a brain health product to suit his own desire to be smarter. He was its first customer. That made his market research cheap and quick. Next, he sold his new product to his fellow workers. They were just down the hall. So, they were easy to reach on foot. Starting by selling to them first let him keep his transportation costs low.

His fellow workers faced brainy competition, too, just like Ferriss did. So, they made a strong market for any brain product that might give them an edge. Better yet, Silicon Valley was full of companies staffed by brain workers who would pay for an extra edge.

To sum up: Silicon Valley made a dense, cheap-to-reach market for a product that Ferriss wanted for himself. Marketing costs for his brain product would be close to zero to start with. Practically everyone in Silicon Valley wanted to be smarter, quicker and more fit.

Better yet, he used pre-orders from his co-workers to fund development of his new product—Brain Quicken. He said that in two weeks, at a cost of $5,000, he launched a sports nutrition ecommerce store to sell it.

He said that it quickly grew to a $40,000 a month business. The trouble is, he had to work almost night and day, solving brand-new problems that he never imagined before. It was exhausting. The woman he expected to marry left him.

But he solved some hard business problems. It gave him a new product to sell: the story of how to make a good living with less effort than before. He wrote The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. It became a best seller.

It made him well-known. It built a big network of people who would take his calls, answer his emails, have lunch with him, invite him to conferences, and do business deals with him.

He made speeches. He did lunches, He built a blog. He did podcasts. He did interviews. He collected email addresses and business cards. He did live events. He used social media. He wrote articles and books. He worked out at gyms with people like himself. He did demo videos.

It built his networks. It made him well-to-do.

His next big problems to solve were how to be strong and healthy and stay alive a long time, to grow his income, to enjoy himself, and to find out more about how the world works.

So, he networked with bodybuilders, endurance athletes, biochemists, physicians, physical trainers, power lifters, nutritionists, and biologists to build his health and strength. He contacted other people who knew things he wanted to know.

He created a standard set of questions and sent them to well-known people. He approached experts, prize-winners, billionaires, and world-class performers. Some already were friends. Others he found in directories such as search engines or Wikipedia.

He asked for answers to his questions. Not everyone agreed to answer them, but those who did got space in Tools Of Titans, including a thumb-nail bio and contact information for each contributor.

Scott Adams answered Tim Ferriss’ questions. His bio is, “Scott Adams (TW: SCOTTADAMSSAYS, BLOG.DILBERT.COM) is creator of the Dilbert comic strip, which has been published in 19 languages in more than 2,000 newspapers in 57 countries. He is the best-selling author of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, God’s Debris, and The Dilbert Principle.”

So, Tools of Titans is a node in one of Scott Adams’ many networks. And Scott Adams is a node in one of Tim Ferriss’ many networks

Adams gives three good pieces of business advice: (1) Focus on systems instead of goals. That is, focus on activities that develop processes or connections that you can use in future projects, not just in the current project. (2) Diversification reduces stress. (3) Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

What (2) means is be sure to develop alternatives as you go along. Power—the ability to keep other people from causing you stress, plus, the ability to cause other people stress without them being able to retaliate—comes from having alternatives. So, build networks, like Adams or Ferriss do. Networks give alternatives.

Adam’s contribution is in the Wealthy section, one of the three main sections of Tools of Titans. The other two sections are Healthy and Wise.

Here are four contributors to the Healthy section.

Rhonda Patrick, recently published papers about how vitamin D regulates production of serotonin in the brain. She advises taking 160- to 170-degree Fahrenheit sauna sessions, pre- or post-workout, to increase growth hormone levels and build endurance.

Dominic D’Agostino is an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Florida Morsani College of Medicine, in north Tampa, Florida. He is a senior research scientist at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. Plus, he has deadlifted 500 pounds for 10 reps after a 7-day fast. Much of his focus is on developing and testing metabolic therapies to induce nutritional/therapeutic ketosis to get peak performance and resilience in extreme environments.

Dr. Agostino recommends doing a 3-day fast once a month and a 5- to 7-day fast once a quarter. He says fasting should be used in treating cancer because fasting slows, and sometimes stops, rapidly dividing cancer cells.

He says that in an emergency with late-stage glioblastoma, an especially deadly form of brain cancer, he would do five things: (1) Follow a ketogenic diet, which is a high fat, moderate protein, low-carb diet. (2) Fast intermittently, eating one meal a day within a four-four window. (3) Supplement ketones 2 to 4 times a day. (4) Take metformin, starting with a low dose and increasing it until reaching GI distress (diarrhea or reflux), which happens at 1500 to 3000 mg/day for most people. (5) Take DCA (dichloroacetic acid), starting with 10 mg per kilogram of body weight and titrating up, not exceeding 50 mg per kilogram. (Clinical trials of DCA use 20 mg per kilogram.) DCA is said to target the glycolytic pathway in cancer cells. [Note some conflicting information about DCA, e.g. that it is a common drinking-water contaminant, is hepatocarcinogenic in rats and mice, yet is a therapeutic agent used clinically in the management of lactic acidosis.]

Patrick Arnold is an organic chemist renowned for creating performance enhancement supplements.  His work ranges from discovering and introducing new ingredients through developing manufacturing processes. 

For example, he created an alcohol suspension of ursolic acid to dose it by spraying it on the skin. This keeps it from being destroyed by the liver, as it would be if it were swallowed. It also solves the problem that it cannot be injected, because it does not mix with oil. This method of application for ursolic acid is important because ursolic acid has many valuable effects. It increases skeletal muscle mass and brown fat. It decreases fatty liver disease, glucose intolerance and diet-induced obesity. It has anti-anxiety effects, anti-cancer effects, anti-inflammation effects, anti-bacterial effects, a protective role in cardiovascular disease, and much more.

Peter Attia is a surgeon, medical researcher, self-experimenter, and former ultra-endurance athlete. He once swam races as far as 25 miles. He says, “Meditation, intermittent fasting, heavy compound joint and hip-hinge training, intense interval training, body work, supplements, drugs, introspection, sleep hygiene. These are my hacks.”

He follows a ketogenic diet. It may stimulate the least possible amount of insulin. He wants to demonstrate that insulin and the foods that stimulate insulin, not excess calories, are important causes of the most pervasive chronic diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Suppressing the secretion of insulin, he says, is the key to running your body on your own fat, which leads not only to weight loss, but also to what he calls “chronic health.”

So, he wears a Dexcom G5 continuous glucose monitor to track his glucose level all the time. He aims to keep his average glucose at 84 to 88 mg/dl. He calibrates his Dexcom monitor 2 or 3 times a day with a OneTouch Ultra 2 glucometer (Tools of Titans, page 61).

He recommends these five blood tests: (1) APOE Genotype, which gives a suggestion, but only a suggestion, of the amount of Alzheimer risk once faces. (2) LDL Particle Number via NMR, which counts the number of LDL particles in the bloodstream as part of an effort to assess risk of cardiovascular disease, especially atherosclerosis. (3) Lp(a) (“L-P-little-A”) via NMR, which he thinks is a very important predictor of cardiovascular risk, independent of total LDL particle number. (4) OGTT (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test), which measures insulin and glucose response 60 and 120 minutes after taking a glucose drink. (5) IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor), a strong driver of cancer. (Fasting, calorie restriction, and a ketogenic diet limit IGF-1.)