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Tim Ferriss on the best advice he ever got

Pras Subramanian

He’s hacked your body, your diet and your work life. But now best-selling author Tim Ferriss is up to something different.

The self-described “human guinea pig” still likes to experiment every now and then with the latest life-hack or diet fad, but his latest project gives him an even bigger platform to reach his fans.

Tim Ferriss with Arnold Schwarzenegger

What started as a six-episode podcasting experiment, The Tim Ferriss Show is now the number one business and interview podcast on iTunes, with over 100 million downloads.

Ferriss recently combined his extensive notes and research from his interviews into his new book, “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.”

He didn’t plan to write the book; it just evolved. “In a world where people tend to be overwhelmed—as I am sometimes—with the amount of information we get bombarded with, I just wanted the notebook to end all notebooks,” he said. “I got into it and it kept growing and it kept growing, and I thought to myself, ‘Okay, I basically already have a book and my fans have been asking me for something like this, so let me put it together.’”

Ferriss said he feels compelled to take extensive notes, which turned out to be the genesis of this latest project. “My favorite part of writing, [except] the writing, is the research—interviewing people who are the best at what they do. And I think that’s part of what makes it interesting to me, and also interesting to my fans.”

Ferriss is a dogged interviewer who says he refuses to take things at face value. “If someone says, ‘I wake up, I meditate, then I do a little bit of exercise and then I go to the office,’ I’m not going let them get away with that,” Ferriss says. “I’m going to say ‘At what time do you wake up? Is that the same time every day? Why? What type of meditation? What did you try before you found that type of meditation? How long you’ve been doing it, how frequently?’”

He says it’s the attention to detail that is the value-add of the book, the specificity of advice and tactics that readers can take away, and hopefully emulate, in their own lives.

As far as the best advice he’s ever received, it was actually the outgoing message on his mentor’s answering machine. “You are the average of the five people you associate with most,” Ferriss recalls. “It is the advice that I give most often—intellectually, financially, emotionally—everything is the average of the five people you associate with the most, so spend your time wisely.”

Pras Subramanian is a reporter/producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @Pras_S