88 Powerful Lessons from Influential Leaders

I find that books are more powerful than any other teaching medium. They are unique packages of an author’s wisdom that provide a different experience for every reader.

Because we all have different life experiences, we interpret what we read through the lens of our own distinctive experiences. This means that two people can read the same book and come away with completely different life changing insights! It also means that you can read the same book more than once over the years and learn something different from it each time!

That is why Timothy Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors is such a powerful book. Through his insightful questions and powerful interviewing style, Ferriss has distilled the profound wisdom of more than 100 of the world’s most influential people into a single book. It is a treasure trove of wisdom!

Through my lens or worldview, I have selected 88 pieces of wisdom and advice from Tribe of Mentors which I share below. Acting on any one of these pieces of advice could make a profound difference in your life. Acting on more than one is guaranteed to change you!

Terry Crews (Ex-NFL player, actor in many movies including The Expendibles)

  1. Always take a shot.
  2. Do a “crowd-thinner” exercise. One wrong person in your circle can destroy your whole future . . . It’s that important.

Bear Grylls (Ex-SAS, Man vs. Wild)

  1. Tenacity matters more than talent, and in life, that is certainly true.
  2. Failure means struggle, and it is struggle that has always developed my strength.

Marc Benioff (Salesforce founder)

  1. Every business executive should adopt a K to 12 school.

Drew Houston (Dropbox founder)

  1. The most successful people I know are all obsessed with solving a problem that really matters to them.
  2. Make an email folder called OPP – other people’s priorities. File everything in here that is a distraction.

Zooko Wilcox (Founder of Zcash)

  1. In order to communicate with people, you have to meet them where they live.

Peter Attia (MD, research scientist, ultra endurance athlete)

  1. Always be a student and always be a teacher.

Jocko Willink (Ex-Navy Seal, co-founder of Echelon Front)

  1. As a leader, there is no on else to blame. Don’t make excuses. Take ownership of them. If you don’t take ownership, you can’t solve the problem.
  2. Discipline equals freedom.
  3. Prioritize and execute . . . in that order.

Yuval Noah Harari (Author of Sapiens)

  1. Focus on personal resilience and emotional intelligence.
  2. Continually learn and reinvent yourself.

Tim Urban (Author of the blog Wait But Why)

  1. Explore ideas using reasoning from first principles. Be a chef that comes up with a recipe as opposed to a cook who follows a recipe!

Kyle Maynard (Author, quadruple amputee, mixed martial artist)

  1. When you feel things are so tough you can’t go on, you are just getting started!

Debbie Millman (Founder of Design Matters)

  1. Courage is more important than confidence. When you are operating out of courage, you are saying that no matter how you feel about yourself or your opportunities or your outcome, you are going to take a risk and take a step toward what you want.
  2. Avoid compulsively making things worse.

Naval Ravikant (CEO and co-founder of AngelList)

  1. The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower!

Matt Ridley (Prolific author selling over 1 million copies in 31 languages)

  1. Self sufficiency is another word for poverty.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Women’s rights activist)

  1. We need a new diversity – diversity of opinion and world views.
  2. Adopting an attitude of critical thinking is most crucial in learning anything.

Graham Duncan (Co-founder of East Rock Capital)

  1. I see meeting new people as the opportunity to open a new door to a new world that could change my or their life in some way.
  2. When stressed, ask yourself, what’s the worst thing that could happen. Make adjustments from there.
  3. Develop judgement and discover your zone of genius.

Mike Maples Jr. (Partner at Floodgate)

  1. Integrity is the only path where you will never get lost.
  2. When stressed, ask the 5 why questions. Drive to core answers for each step.

Soman Chainani (Filmmaker and author)

  1. Having another stream of income drains the pressure on your creative engine. If nothing comes of your art, you still have an ironclad plan to support yourself.

Neil Strauss (Best selling author)

  1. Endpoints to a goal are really just forks in a road that keep on forking.
  2. If you are not being criticized you’re probably not doing anything exceptional.

Patton Oswalt (Comedian, actor and writer)

  1. I wish at least one catastrophic failure on everyone pursuing the arts. It’s where you’ll get your superpowers from.

Lewis Cantley (Cancer researcher, discoverer of PI3K)

  1. The best skill is to be able to communicate efficiently both in writing and speaking.
  2. We are approaching a time when sugar is responsible for more deaths in America than smoking.

Jerzy Gregorek (4-time world weightlifting champion)

  1. Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.

Aniela Gregorek (5-time world weightlifting champion)

  1. Treat people as though they are what they are capable of becoming….not what they currently are.

Amelia Boone (4-time world champion in obstacle course racing)

  1. Embrace the uncomfortable. Take fear and discomfort as a sign that you should be doing something. This is where the magic happens.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (Religious leader, author, philosopher)

  1. Live. Give. Forgive.
  2. Face the future full of hope. You are equal to challenges. Deliver the opposite message to fear and defensiveness.

Annie Duke (One of the top poker players in the world)

  1. Seek out dissenting opinions. Always find people who disagree with you, who can honestly and productively play devil’s advocate.
  2. Use failure and losing as an opportunity to explore and learn.

Maria Sharapova (Winner of 5 grand slam titles and Olympic silver medalist in tennis)

  1. Questions open the doors to so many possibilities.

Adam Robinson (Chess master)

  1. The world is simply too complex to grasp and the more we try to attempt to explain or model it, the more we become attached to our resulting beliefs – blinding us to trends that are unfolding.
  2. When someone says that a current trend simply makes no sense, they are basing their decisions on old data and that person’s paradigm is stuck on the wrong side of the trend!

Josh Waitzkin (Author, chess prodigy, athlete)

  1. Respond to aggression with a void – don’t respond to an aggressive attack in a meeting. Ignore the outburst and continue without giving them the satisfaction of responding.

Ann Miura-Ko (Partner at Floodgate)

  1. Develop a philosophy of giving as soon as you enter the workforce.

Tim O’Reilly (Founder of O’Reilly Media)

  1. Create more value than you capture.
  2. Money in a business is like gas in your car. You need it to drive but it is not the purpose of the car.
  3. The point of disruptive technology is not the market or competitors that if destroys. It is the new markets and possibilities it creates.
  4. It isn’t technology that eliminates jobs, it is the short sighted business decisions that use technology simply to cut costs and fatten corporate profits.

Tom Peters (Co-author of In Search of Excellence)

  1. Excellence is the next 5 minutes! Spend them well!

Esther Dyson (Founder of HICCup and chairman of EDventure)

  1. Addiction is a short-term desire. Purpose is a long-term desire.

Jerome Jarre (Pioneer of the mobile video industry)

  1. Ask yourself “if you are on your deathbed at 99 years old and have a chance to come back to life, what would you chose to do?” Go do that now!

Fedor Holz (One of the best poker players in the world)

  1. We cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it.

Peter Gruber (Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group)

  1. The great majority of that which gives you angst never happens, so you must evict it from your mind.

Steve Jurvetson (Partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson)

  1. Don’t lose your childlike curiosity.

Mark Bell (Founder of Super Training Gym in Sacramento)

  1. Part of knowing who you are is knowing who you’re not.

Jacqueline Novogratz (Founder and CEO of Acumen)

  1. Learn to balance and hold the audacity to dream a different world with the humility to start with the world as it is.

Brian Koppelman (Screenwriter, novelist, director and producer)

  1. Strip away everything you don’t need in order to achieve your purpose.

Dr. Gabor Mate (Physician, psychologist, psychiatrist known for his study and treatment of addiction)

  1. Heal the trauma and the addiction will go away.

Steve Case (CEO of Revolution LLC)

  1. Innovators in the third wave must engage with policy makers to drive real innovation.

Linda Rottenberg (CEO and founder of Endeavor Capital)

  1. If you’re not called crazy when you start something new then you are not thinking big enough!

Larry King (Larry King Live)

  1. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask a question. Don’t be afraid to sound stupid.

Sam Harris (PhD in neuroscience, author and podcaster)

  1. No society in human history ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.

Maurice Ashley (African-American International Grandmaster in chess)

  1. I wake up each day with the form conviction that I am nowhere near my full potential!

Mr Money Moustache (Founder of www.mrmoneymoustache.com)

  1. Don’t get mired in the earn-to-borrow-to-spend trap.

Jon Call (Jujimufu – anabolic acrobat)

  1. Don’t “one up” a story. Just listen to other people’s stories and ask more questions about their experience. You will learn a lot!

Dara Torres (Fastest female swimmer in the US)

  1. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Darren Aronofsky (Filmmaker behind films like Pi and The Wrestler)

  1. All success starts with tremendous rejection and being able to look past those attacks is key.

Michael Gervais (Psychologist working with high level athletes)

  1. Everyday is an opportunity to create a living masterpiece.

Adam Fisher (Executive at Soros Fund Management)

  1. Coaches focus on you first. Mentors focus on themselves first and you second. A coach builds regimens designed to make you better, rather than just providing advice like a mentor would.

Aisha Tyler (Actor, comedian, director, author, and activist)

  1. You cannot do anything great without aggressively courting your own limits.
  2. Everything you want is on the other side of fear. Aggressively sprint flat out towards what terrifies you!

Terry Laughlin (Founder of Total Immersion)

  1. Five steps to mastery:
    • Choose a worthy and meaningful challenge
    • Seek a master teacher
    • Practice diligently, always striving to hone key stills and to progress incrementally towards new levels of competence
    • Love the plateau
    • Mastery is a journey, not a destination

Marie Forleo (creator of MarieTV and B-School)

  1. Show up in every moment like you’re meant to be there, because your energy precedes anything you could possible say.
  2. Intense physical workouts lead to clear thinking.

Scott Belsky (Entrepreneur, author and investor)

  1. Don’t ask customers what they want, figure out what they need.

Ben Silberman (Co-founder and CEO of Pinterest)

  1. Spend time with your best performers not just with your problems.

Robert Rodriguez (Director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor and musician)

  1. When doing deep work – Write down any random thoughts (random missiles) on your “distractions pad” and come back to them later.

Kristen Ulmer (Master facilitator challenging norms around fear)

  1. Fear is there to help you come alive, be more focused, and put you in the present moment and a heightened sense of excitement and awareness. Feel the fear, merge with it, and its energy will fuel you.

Miscellaneous Quotes

  1. “Diversity in counsel, unity in command.” Cyrus the Great
  2. “One should use common words to say uncommon things.” Arthur Schopenhauer
  3. “As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
  4. “If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems.” Frank Wilczek
  5. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Anais Nin
  6. “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” Albert Einstein
  7. “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” Leonardo Da Vinci
  8. “A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” GK Chesterton
  9. “To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” Elbert Hubbard


Take Action

Set aside some time this week to take action on a few of the 88 items listed above. Build these ideas and principles into your life and into your business. Pass these along to your staff and watch your business grow!

Go one step further and buy Tribe of Mentors for yourself and your staff. It is guaranteed to make an impact!



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