Tribe Of Mentors: 11 Questions

Published on Medium on July 5, 2020

I’ve recently come across the highly praised Podcast “The Tim Ferriss Show” by Tim Ferriss. In Episode #442 he talks about 11 questions he asked some of the world’s top performers, which resulted in the book Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World.

I haven’t read the book, but I found the questions interesting and wanted to answer them myself, even though I’m certainly not one of the world’s top performers. For the same reason, I will only go into some of them. However, for the sake of completeness, I will still list the rest at the very end. If you’ve got the time, go ahead and answer the questions yourself!

The Questions

1. What is/are the book(s) you’ve given most as a gift and why?

My bank balance doesn’t quite allow me to regularly hand out books as a gift, however, I have recommended some books more frequently than others. The ones I have recommended the most would probably be the following:

  • Educated by Tara Westover: An exceptionally well-written and inspirational memoir that thematizes family and the value of education. I don’t think I’ve ever read a memoir before, but this book was a great introduction to the genre.

  • Mindset by Carol Dweck: If you’ve ever had a thought or belief along the lines of “I’m not a maths person” or “I’m bad at drawing” (and that includes pretty much anyone), then you should probably read this book. It talks about the research-backed power of mindset and how you can make use of it to learn in ways you thought you couldn’t.
2. What purchase of 100$ or less has most positively impacted your life in the last 6 months or recent memory?

Probably my Kindle (for those that live under a rock, the Amazon Kindle is an E-Reader). I used to think that there’s no way to replace “real books” without serious disadvantages in terms of enjoyment. From my recent experience, the very opposite is true: Your backpack is significantly lighter whenever you want to take books with you, it provides you with the possibility to read in bad lighting, darkness or rainy weather, there’s an in-built dictionary and highlighting function (and you can make an app send those highlights to you daily), the list goes on…

3. What is one of the best or most worthwile investments (in terms of money, time, energy, …) you’ve ever made?

I’m not much of an investor, but I can definitely answer this in relation to time and energy: Reading books! Not just non-fiction, but also Fantasy or Sci-Fi books. They have helped me with developing ideas, developing my vocabulary, learning languages, understanding people from various backgrounds and their perspectives, killing time and discovering new interests as well as authors.

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

The belief that failure and setbacks are useful and necessary!

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

Saying no to disctractions, e.g. social media. What helps me a lot is the “out of sight, out of mind” approach, so for example putting the phone in another room. It also works the other way, e.g. putting a book next to my bed will make me read more (yes, it’s that simple).

6. When you feel overwhelmed, unfocused or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? What’s helpful, what questions do you ask yourself?

I’m answering this question from a student’s perspective with the luxury of being able to just not go to lectures whenever I don’t feel like it: I just take a break (or go home) and try again later. I usually ask myself: “Why am I unfocused?”, “can I do this later?” and “what task can I do instead?”. Another useful thing to tell yourself is that you will just keep working on this thing for five minutes, and if you then still don’t feel like continuing, stop – most of the time, you will keep going.

Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

The Questions I left out

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

2. What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student that is about to enter the so-called real world? What advice should they ignore?

3. How has a failure or apparent failure set you up for later success? Do you have a favorite failure of yours?

4. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it (that billions of people would see), what would it say and why? This can also be someone else’s quote, a paragraph, a few words, whatever you want.

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


That’s it for this week, see you next sunday!