B.R.F.G.B.S. – Career advice courtesy of Marc Andreessen and Tim Ferriss

I was sceptical. Before I’d even read it—no, before it had even arrived in the post—I was thinking about what I should keep in mind as I read it. I thought it was just going to be a compilation of tools and tactics that people with way more resources and connections than me could use. So, in my head, I was telling myself “the tool doesn’t actually matter. Focus instead on how and why they used it.”

That was dumb. Tim Ferriss is better than that. His new book, Tools of Titans, is more than just a random assortment of tools and tactics. It’s a conceptual problem-solving kit. You have problems. This book has ideas than can help and point you in the right direction. It’s pretty simple really. 

But my objective here isn’t to blow smoke up Tim’s ass. It’s to highlight one of the simplest and most valuable ideas in the entire book. It comes from the section that features Marc Andreesen:

Marc and I are both huge fans of Steve Martin’s autobiography, Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life. Marc highlighted one takeaway:
“He says the key to success is, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’”
TF: Marc has another guiding tenet: ‘Smart people should make things.’ He says: ‘If you just have those two principles—that’s a pretty good way to orient.’”

One of the first things I published online was called “A Forgotten Approach: B.R.F.G.” It stands for be really fucking good. I haven’t read Steve Martin’s autobiography, but I have read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, which includes a variant of the “be so good they can’t ignore you” advice. That’s where I came across this wisdom, the idea that in the end competence conquers. But I prefer the adult version. And I think the same goes for Marc’s second principle: “Smart people should make things.” In my mind I translate it to the following: “People should build shit.”

Put those two principles together and you end up with seven words. Seven words which contain the simplest and most effective career advice out there. Unsure what to do with your life? Don’t know where to go from here or what to do next? No problem. Here’s some advice:

Be really fucking good and build shit.