How Tim Ferriss Created the First Podcast-Based Bestselling Book

The master of efficiency and peak performance recognized that many people seek the same knowledge but prefer different mediums.
How Tim Ferriss Created the First Podcast-Based Bestselling Book
Image credit: Phillip Faraone | Getty Images
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It’s official. Tim Ferriss has done it again.

The Silicon Valley folk hero has released another #1 New York Time’s bestseller with his latest, mammoth-sized Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.

Since Tim Ferriss has now become a meme of himself, the accolade doesn’t sound very impressive by his own standards. Tim didn’t think so either, apparently. So he went ahead and created an entire new category of nonfiction book, and then went on to dominate said category.

Tools of Titans is the first-ever book based on a podcast to debut at #1 on the NYT Best Sellers List. As of writing this article, over a month after publication, Tools of Titans has remained in the top 5, and is still #2 OVERALL on Amazon. Which is insane.

Why is this relevant to you?

Because Tim is the master at leveraging success in one domain and laterally transferring it to another. Entrepreneurs, bloggers, personal brands and content creators have to take notice. There’s a new line drawn in the sand. What Tim has pulled off with Tools of Titans is now the new standard of content creation.  

Allow me to explain…

“The Tim Ferriss Show,” on which Tools of Titans is based, has dominated the podcast world, so much so that it’s first business-interview podcast to cross the 100,000,000 download mark. (For my fellow content creators out there, I don’t have to point out just how LUDICROUSLY HUGE that number is.)

Happily, this is not an opportunity to start feeling bad about yourself. There’s so much that we can learn from Tim’s example.

Related: End the Day Right, According To Tim Ferriss

Do things that don’t scale.

Tim attributes his unfathomable success to the unusual depth of the show: “For most of my guests, it’s the first time they’ve agreed to a two-to-three-hour interview.”

For all you startup nerds out there, this sounds eerily similar to Paul Graham’s advice to startups to “do things that don’t scale,” as a way of stepping over competition and creating new markets.

Many will point out that Joe Rogan was Tim’s predecessor as far a long-form podcast interviews go, but Tim inarguably helped pioneer and popularize the category.

Naysayers will argue that Tim started with an unfair advantage: he’s the sort of guy that has access to high-impact guests like Malcolm Gladwell, Tony Robbins, Brené Brown, Jamie Foxx, Peter Thiel, Edward Norton, Mike Birbiglia, and other “titans” of industry whom he interviews on a regular basis.

Sorry, but that’s a cop out. And you’re missing the point. Given his unique set of interests, only Tim could tease out the tools, tactics and strategies that make his guests world-class at what they do in a way that’s both compelling and addicting for many-houred stretches.

“I view myself as an experimenter. If I can’t test something and replicate results in the messy reality of everyday life, I’m not interested,” Tim says.

That’s what makes the show different: a relentless focus on actionable details. According to Tim, “this is reflected in the questions. For example: What do these people do in the first 60 minutes of each morning? What do their workout routines look like, and why? What books have they gifted most to other people? What are the biggest wastes of time for novices in their field?”

So ask yourself: what can you do that no one else can do? What’s not scalable?

Related: Tim Ferriss: If You're Not Happy With What You Have, You Might Never Be Happy

Leverage success in one domain to laterally succeed in another  

As a content creator, this is what’s really got me excited to talk about. “The Tim Ferriss Show” was already a validated source of content. The success of the show practically guaranteed a bestseller. All Tim had to do was write the thing...a job made easier given that he’d already created all the source material!

And that’s the point.

Tools of Titans is the perfect companion piece for fans of the show and for new readers alike. The book is a distilled and thematically organized collection of all his best podcast episodes. That’s not a bad thing!

As content creators in the 21st century, this is a practice we simply cannot ignore. Tim has demonstrated loud and clear, the same content can be repackaged and re-distributed as different media, across all platforms. Written, audio, and video are now transferable formats. It’s your job to make the leap.  

Amplify your content.

This is a concept that I talk about in my upcoming book, publishing in May.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, personal brand or an entire company -- if you’re creating content to share a message and drive traffic to your site then you have to reach your (potential) audience in their preferred formatting, spread across all platforms. An audiophile might love your podcast but would never read your blog...even if it’s the exact same material.

Say anything you want about Tai Lopez, but the guy is an absolute rockstar and living proof that this approach works. He’s on YouTube, he’s got a blog, he’s emailing his list every day, he’s got a team constantly filming what he’s doing; he’s using the same content and posting across all social media platforms, which themselves are pointing to his other platforms. And now he’s a celebrity!

Related: How Tai Lopez Took Over Social Media

Think about it. Got a successful blog with a backlog of content and feeling a little stuck on what to do next? Perfect, turn all of those blog posts into YouTube videos. Got a strong YouTube following but aren’t monetizing? Awesome, transfer some of your most popular videos over to podcast and start interviewing guests in your space. Increased traffic will land you sponsors. Feeling like your podcast is really taking off, but you don’t have a way of collecting all of your listeners? Create a blog with a simple landing page that offers a special giveaway to get visitors to sign up for your email list.

It ain’t plagiarizing if it’s your own content! And remember, your goal is to reach your audience. Your audience might not be consuming content in your originally preferred format.

Time to pull a Ferriss, spread your wings and take over your niche!