Answering 11 Questions from Tim Ferriss' Tribe of Mentors

I read "Tribe of Mentors" book by Tim Ferriss two years ago and I found it's interesting because you can extract unique insights from various succesful people by giving them the same questions.

And I wonder if the same eleven questions were thrown at me, what my answers would be. It's also a good exercise to understand the weight of each question before I try to adapt this style of interview to numerous successful friends of mine. So here they are..

"Tools of Titans" and "Tribe of Mentors" by Tim Ferriss

1. What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

Almost all books that I read are non-fiction which around personal development, psychology, business, and economic books. So I have two categories of books that influenced me.

For my personal life:
  1. "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey
    → Summary: How to Be an Effective Person
  2. "How To Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie
    → Summary: Mastering Interpersonal Skills
  3. "Atomic Habits" by James Clear
    → Summary: How to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

For my professional life:
  1. "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael E. Gerber
  2. "Rework" by Jason Fried & DHH
  3. "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss

2. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in recent memory?

There were so many books that I need to read but I didn't have enough free time. So, I've subscribed Blinkist for $40 / year since two years ago and just read the book summaries first. If the summary was interesting, then I read the whole book. This way I can learn more things faster.

3. How has a failure set you up for later success?

I went to a mediocre high school in Bandung, and I felt it was a failure. However, it helps me build my mindset not to compare with others, but to compare with ourselves. We don't need to be better than others, we just need to be better than our previous self.

4. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?

Think big. Start small. Act now. Move fast.

Thinking big means being able to visualize what we can achieve on an unlimited scale, so that we can set big goals, be positive and creative in seeing all opportunities. Starting small means the first step of taking action and making progress, because it requires less efforts, grows confidence, and builds momentum. Acting now means not procrastinating. Moving fast because the world is changing fast, and what we know now may become obsolete tomorrow.

5. What is one of the most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

Start investing in capital market by purchasing mutual funds, and then move to investing in stocks and bonds directly right after you understand the game.

6. What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

Arsenal FC 😅 I love watching football eventhough my favourite football club is not doing well for the last 15 years!

7. In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

Well, there are many beliefs and habits that developed in the last five years but maybe the most notable are these three things.

"Make Your Bed" – inspired by William H. McRaven.
It is the first time I do after I wake up in the morning. It gives a small win in early day, and affects my mood for the whole day.

"Inversion" – inspired by Charles T. Munger.
It is the power of avoding stupidity. It is like reversing how I look at a situation, for example, identify the worst thing that can possibly go wrong in all life aspects, and then make sure it doesn’t happen.

"Essentialism" – inspired by Marie Kondo & Fumio Sasaki.
It is basically minimalism, but focuses on quality, not only quantity. Do fewer things, but do better. Own fewer things, but choose things that will last.

8. What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

Find your Ikigai. It is the intersection of what you are good at, what you love, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.

Advice to ignore: Follow your passion. Finding meaningful work is anything but easy. Love what you do. Focus on developing skills and abilities, be very good at it, and the joy and passion will come.

9. What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

"996" – popularized by Jack Ma – a working hour system that requires employees work from 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week.

I used to be workaholic since I was trained and educated in Korean working culture. But then I realize, most of my time and my colleagues' time were not effective. Being effective is more important than being productive. It doesn't have to be crazy at work.

10. In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

Say no to project opportunities from outside your well-defined target market.

When we started the company, we used to accept project opportunities from everyone – from individuals and small businesses to large corporates – because we need to survive and find our positioning. We would work hard to make sure we won all pitching. Later, we realized that it wasn't a sustainable strategy because different market segment requires different approach. We should choose the right customer.

We decided to serve only large corporates as our target clients since it is more suitable to our positioning. We sometimes work with nonprofits but they are special cases which we believe in their mission. For potential clients outside our target market, we will "say no" in a polite way – by giving them higher pricing.

The same thing happens with invitations or other work distractions. We defined our objectives and positioning first. If those are not aligned with our goals and target market / target audience, just say no directly in a polite way.

11. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

Get enough sleep. 
Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I always check and pay attention on how I spent my days. Most of time it was because I didn't get enough sleep in the last few days due to works or other circumstances. Therefore, getting eight hours of quality sleep is importantA great night's sleep enhances every waking hour.

Work remotely.
Sometimes work doesn't happen at work. We aren't working longer and later because there is more work to do all of a sudden. We are working longer and later because we can’t get work done at work anymore. Therefore, I usually declutter my working environment or go to somewhere new and just work remotely from there. It could be at nearby cafe or at coworking space in Bali.

Take vacations during business days.
To prevent burnouts we need to balance our life with more self-control. I'd like to take day-off on the weekdays and sometimes work on strategic things on the weekend. I regularly volunteer with educational mission in various cities, and spend more days there for vacation. I feel those volunteering experiences fit the recommendation from "Time and How to Spend It", which the author wrote about seven rules for spending our time wisely: stories, transformation, outside & offline, relationships, intensity, extraordinary, status & significance.

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P.S. The idea of this blog post was inspired by Matt Jukes and Richard McLean.

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