The Need for Mentors

Reading Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss

We all need great advice. We all need a mentor. In fact, why stop there, we all need several mentors. At different points in your personal and professional life, you have had those who you turn to for good advice. But what if there was a way to get advice from some of the best minds out there? The titans of their specific fields? Sounds like a great thing doesn’t it?

Ok, enough rhetorical questions. I’ve been reading, no, I’ve been studying a great book for the past month before I start each workday. Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss. It is a collection of writings by those at the top of their respective fields, from Chemistry to business, Acting to novelist. There are bits of information here for everyone. Tribe of Mentors contains some of the best short life advice you can find anywhere. Basically there are 11 questions Tim asked of everyone – then he selected the best answers to include in that section.

If you don’t have a copy of this book, buy it now. You will thank me later 🙂

I asked Jay to write his answers to the 11 questions posed in the Tribe of Mentors, and I wrote my answers as well. Please enjoy!

Tribe of Mentors Questions:

  1. What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
  1. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? 
  1. How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
  1. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it—metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions—what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)
  1. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)
  1. What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
  1. In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
  1. What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
  1. What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
  1. 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?
  1. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

Jay’s Answers

  1. What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

The book “Back Rx” by Dr. Vijay Vad. More than 50% of American adults suffer from back pain. I used to be one of them. This is the best book I’ve ever seen to teach us what we need to do every day to live pain-free. Vad’s program lays out a simple yet powerful 15-minute daily program of stretches and gentle exercises that anyone can do at home. I’ve recommended the book thousands of times for massage clients over the last 15 years and I’ve given multiple copies to friends and family. 

  1. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? My readers love specifics like brand and model, where you found it, etc.

The “Multi-functional Headwear” made by Buff.com (I just call it a “Buff”). I originally started using my Buff to keep my hair out of my face while running. I also found it works great to reduce the sweat from running into my eyes. You can use your Buff as a head-covering, headband, a neck-warmer and a face-cover. It’s lightweight, breathable and you can wear it for hours and you forget it’s there. It’s even more useful right now in California when you’re practicing coronavirus face-shielding. It stays over your nose easily, it’s comfortable and it’s not hard to breathe through. Plus it’s very reasonably priced at $20.

https://buffusa.com/shop-buff/men/multifunctional-headwear-category/original+original-xl-family.html
  1. How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

Bloodborne boss – The Pthumerian Elder – 191 tries. I’ve failed at multiple things I’ve tried and video games are an interesting one for me because they’re sort of a concentrated form of puzzle-solving. I like Bloodborne as a game because there’s basically no instructions in the game and almost every single battle will kill you a half-dozen times. The average boss fight in the game will take at least several hours with 30-40 attempts and the most difficult bosses will take multiple days. They’re punishing mentally but when you finally succeed the feeling is that you’ve truly accomplished something. I remember the Elder specifically because I was dying so much on other bosses that I had started recording my losses and with him it took almost 200 tries before I finally figured out what I was doing wrong and what I needed to change. It’s a good lesson in life. Stop just banging my head against a wall. Stop losing over and over again without analyzing WHY you’re losing. As C.S. Lewis would have told me, I needed to fail forward. After beating the Elder I actually sat down and wrote up an action plan for some other areas of my life where I was failing in a similar fashion.

  1. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it—metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions—what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

“Stretch and do your yoga exercises every day.” Most people live with pain unnecessarily. Chronic, low-level pain slowly sucks out your joy in life. It’s the cause of all kinds of problems including greatly increased mental stress, a weaker immune system, less capacity to be active and do fun stuff, and the use of various unhealthy pain remedies (and, too often, addiction to those remedies.) If everyone on the planet dedicated a few minutes of work on their body every day that pain could be greatly diminished and often eliminated.

  1. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

My investment in a massage career. It’s made me dramatically more profitable, enabled me to help thousands of people, connected me with some amazing and beautiful co-workers and given me more fulfillment than I ever expected.

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

A couple of times a year I like to use a very strong mind-altering drug to “reset” my reality. In the past, I’ve used MDMA (pure), ecstasy (MDMA cut with other drugs), LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and others. My experiences with these substances have often been profound and in multiple cases have helped me to change my beliefs about the world and to see things from a totally different POV.

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

The habit of always having a big physical exercise or health goal. Every year for the last several years I’ve attempted a bigger goal and have gotten stronger as a result. It started with training for a Tough Mudder with Matt in 2013. From there I progressed to increasingly difficult Spartan races, getting a six-pack, running a single marathon, then multiple marathons and then a half-ironman. The next goal is a full Ironman. Each bigger goal requires stronger commitment as well as greater discipline, organization, time-management and sacrifice. All these skills bleed over into the rest of my life. Plus I feel healthier, more energized and younger!

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

I’d say even before going to college you should figure out what you want from your education. College can provide a lot of opportunities but it is increasingly expensive and for many people it’s a highly inefficient use of their money. 

As for college students who are about to enter the “real world,” I’d say your goal should be to find the subject or subjects in your life that really stimulate and excite you and to focus your energies on those things. There’s one constant in life: If you’re going to be successful in anything it’s going to take a lot of hard work. There are no shortcuts to greatness. Having big, scary, exciting goals will help push you through the months or even years of suffering required for you to accomplish your vision.

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

In the field of dating there’s one I hear all the time: “Just be yourself.” This is HORRIBLE advice. The idea is that everyone has something beautiful in them so all you need to do is just tap into that inner beauty and other people will naturally be drawn to you and want to date you. Like so many “truths” of self-help, the Just Be Yourself (JBY) philosophy is 10% truth and 90% BS. It’s true that in your core you are awesome but the JBY philosophy removes basically any responsibility that you have to make yourself attractive and puts it all on other people to “see the beauty that is inside you.” 

Are other people rejecting you because you’re fat and dress like a hobo? Fuck ‘em – they can’t see the REAL beauty inside you. Do other people find your negative, boring conversation unattractive? Fuck ‘em – they can’t appreciate what REALLY matters to you. Do you get nervous in social situations so you stay home? Great – stay home and be comfortable! You deserve someone who APPRECIATES that you’re socially awkward and loves you for being the shy loner.

BULL. SHIT.

If you want something different in your life you have to do something different. If you’re not having the success you want in your dating life, you can’t keep doing what you’ve already been doing. The “you” that you are right now ISN’T WORKING! You need to do the difficult work that will change the “current you” into the “you who attractive to the opposite sex.”

  1. 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?

I’ve become better at not immediately responding to various communications from people, whether that’s text messages, phone calls, emails, etc. So many people live in an “instant” culture nowadays that if they don’t get an immediate response they start to flip out. But this is a new state of affairs. Only a few decades ago the internet didn’t exist. Email didn’t exist. Voicemail didn’t exist. People waited for things and they did just fine. When I’m feeling rushed by certain people in my life I have found that thinking about the past really helps me put things in perspective. Depending on how time-sensitive the information is, I may wait a few hours or a day or a week before responding. This has opened up my time dramatically so I can focus on what matters. 

It’s true there is a balance required. In some cases I’ve waited too long to respond to people and there have been some hurt feelings and I’ve lost a few opportunities. Communication is always a give and take and requires adapting to circumstances. I need to set good boundaries and make sure I’m still committed to the people and projects that I’m working on. But on the whole I have found that removing the “artificial immediacy” that our 21st century world has come to expect is both refreshing and incredibly liberating.

  1. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

I make lists. I’m a compulsive list-maker. Or rather, I have BECOME a compulsive list-maker. No matter how insane things seem to be, I’ve found that if I stop and take a few minutes to break down the situation into a series of small, manageable tasks, I can deal with pretty much anything. Plus there are few things in life more satisfying than having every item on your ToDo list crossed off.

Matt’s Answers

Matts Tribe of Mentors questions

  1. What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida

I read this book several years ago during a very transformative period of my life. The messages in this book really spoke to me. I was over my divorce and starting a new relationship with my now wife. This book really speaks to the wonderful balance between the masculine and the feminine. It shows the beautiful dance that can be. I purchased several copies of this book and hand it out whenever possible.

  1. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? 

I purchased a Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard and mouse from Logitech that allows me to connect to multiple computers. Being a bit of a computer nerd I have 3 computers I switch between, and the simplicity of switching to each computer with a push of a button gives ma a bit of inner joy.

  1. How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

My favorite failure was getting injured while at a police academy in 2005. My path of being a police officer was over, and this was completely devastating to me at the time. For the previous 5 years, all I had done was prepare myself to go through the academy and put everything else in my life on hold. For about a week I felt I had no purpose and was just about at the lowest point in my life. It was at that point that I completely reformed my career purpose. It allowed me to experience more of the world and not be so single-focused.

  1. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it—metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions—what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. My paraphrase – quote from Bob Carter

I said this over and over while working in law enforcement, and I find myself saying it to my children as well. This quote is powerful to me because it really demonstrates how much power you have in shaping our own life. Make a plan for your life, expect the unexpected, roll with the punches, and most importantly don’t expect others to bail you out simply because you didn’t do what you needed to do

  1. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

It’s a simple answer, but for me, it was returning back to college and finishing the requirements for a Bachelors’s degree. I went to college the first time right after high school. I only attended about a year and a half before I left college because I didn’t really know what I wanted as far as a degree. For sure going back to school while having a full-time career and a child was difficult, but for myself, it was a very significant accomplishment.

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

I collect Starbucks Coffee mugs for the states I travel to. I will occasionally get the ones from specific cities as well. For my job, I end up traveling quite a bit, and I wanted a keepsake to remember the state by, so this seemed like a no brainer. Funny thing is I’m not really a fan of Starbucks coffee…

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

Reading books. I used to not read or would get bored, or just couldn’t find a book I liked. In the past five years, I have moved from only occasionally reading, to reading books daily. I love the different perspectives you get from reading non-fiction and the new realities with fiction books. I rarely am not engrossed in one or two different books.

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

You are starting at the bottom. Even though you think you have been learning for your entire life and are ready to work, you are starting all over. You need to be able to navigate a completely different environment than you are used to. Learn to enjoy the menial tasks you are assigned. Learn how your workplace operates. Never create enemies at work, and you will get ahead not by touting your own accomplishments, but by developing relationships and helping others succeed.

I would also add for those who didn’t attend college, or who are on the fence about it. College isn’t for everyone. There are a ton of good-paying jobs out there that do not require college, just some training. Electrician, plumber, mechanic, contractors all make great money and are always in demand. Don’t go to college, and amas huge student debt, just because you don’t know what else to do.

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

That education equals experience. You must be present and experience the job before you can claim to understand it.

  1. 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?

I have become better at saying no to things just to be polite. I have embraced being selfish and I take the attitude of If I don’t look out for myself, no one else will.

  1. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

I enjoy stepping away and listening to music if it is a fleeting thing. For a better recharge, I enjoy taking my motorcycle for a ride. For me riding the motorcycle requires so much attention, that everything else in life melts away. It is hard to worry about things when you are figuring out how to take the corner correctly on a windy mountain road.

Thank you for taking the time to read, and Stay Superior!!

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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Matt

Matt is a husband, a father, an avid motorcycle rider, and an all around awesome guy.

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