9,725 of 10,290 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2011
The title and cover draws people in. 4 Hour Work Week, it's too good to be true. Then we read the first couple of pages, maybe the first couple of chapters. The first chapters are the typical motivational, "you can do it" montage. I'm not going to lie, I felt motivated to give this book a try after reading the first part of the book without even knowing what this book is all about. But as I began to get out of the fluff, and actually found myself reading the core subject of the book, I was utterly disappointed.
D is for Definition
In this section Ferriss tells us to do an important task: define what you want. And I agree that most of us live through life not knowing what we want; just following the crowd like a herd of sheep. This section was the motivational, make you feel good section. This wasn't the how, it was the why, and it downright made me pumped.
E is for Elimination
Okay, so he basically says to eliminate all the junk in your life. For example: watch less TV, don't check your e-mail 50 times a day, don't look at your phone 100 times a day, don't surf the web 3 hours a day, etc. It's all good advice, nothing too fancy, or new, just plain old, "don't waste your time" advice. So far so good.
A is for automation
This is where I ran in to problems with Tim's method of creating a "4 hour workweek". First he tells us to outsource a big chunk of our lives using a VA (virtual assistant) from India or Shanghai or wherever. Basically a virtual assistant is a person who assist you in everyday task (checking emails, making reservations, doing research for your job that you got hired to do,set up appointments, etc) so basically an online-personal assistant you hire for dirt cheap. So if you are okay with some guy in India knowing your personal information (SSN, bank account number, phobias, any illnesses you might have, problems in life, and many more as Ferriss states) go ahead and outsource the things you can already do yourself to a guy in India you never met. But Ferris says that misuses of sensitive information are rare; well there could be bias behind that statement, but I'm not willing to find out if it's true or not. The irony of oustourcing your life is that you become dependent on your VA. You no longer have the urge to take control of your own life when it comes to paying bills, making reservations, or doing research for your job because your VA does it for you. So that's the paradox: out source your life, but become more dependent on a foreigner. And Ferriss quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson throughout his book as a motivational spice. But it's apparent that he never read "Self Reliance", the cornerstone of Emerson's philosophy. (Tim if you're going to use Emerson's words, how about not making a book that totally contradicts the philosophy of Emerson? Thanks).
A is for automation Pt. 2
Ferriss then goes on to tell us how we can make up to 40,000 dollars a month of automated income (little work). Basically you create a product and sell it. Plain and simple. He tells you to find a market, find the demographics of your product, make a product and sell it. Yup, your average entrepreneurship. It's nothing new, and Ferris is not an expert entrepreneur. He did have a company BrainQuicken which sells "Neural Accelerator" supplements. The site is 99% advertising and 1% scientific: It sells because it's precisely that. And the product that Ferriss started is not something revolutionary, I'll take my 200mg of caffeine before a workout any day than pay 50.00 dollars plus shipping for BrainQuicken. So if you want to make your own product, market it, sell it and make millions of dollars go ahead. Tim tells you exactly how, but what Tim doesn't tell you is that it takes a lot of work in the beginning, a lot more than 4 hours a week.
L is for Liberation
More like L is for not showing up to work, and being cynical. Now I'm against the 9-5 hours of work. I think that human beings are more efficient enough to get things done in a short period of time, and I believe that society is slowly catching on. But here's Tim's idea of "liberation". Escaping the office: not doing your job or worse, not showing up. Killing your job: quit your job. Mini retirement: take a month vacation every 2 months of work (or pattern that works best for you). Filling the Void: filling in the emptiness and the boredom you feel with fun stuff like becoming a horse archer, learning tango, and winning a fight championship by cheating.
So okay, let's say everything goes well: you are making 40,000 dollars a month, you are working no more than 4 hours a week... now what. Even Ferriss says that you will feel a void... well that sucks doesn't it? Why don't you go and talk to your VA about your problems?
Now obviously I'm against Tim's advertising methods, it's misleading. The book only sells because of the hope it gives 9-5 workers that it's possible. Oh, it's possible but unlikely. Tim is no Bil Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, or Clint Eastwood he is nowhere close to them. You see great testimonials from people from Yahoo!, Wired, Silicon Valley, and hell, from Jack Canfield about Tim's book, but not from people like Gates, Jobs, Buffett, Eastwood, or any other highly successful people, why? Because those four know that true success comes from years of hard work, and building lasting relationships with people. Those four know that decreasing your work hours, outsourcing your life, and making a tons of money is not the road to true happiness. Those four people, even if they read this book, will probably throw it in the fire. But for the cynical, "how do I work little and make tons of money" people out there (which is most of the population) this book will initially look like the next Bible. The fact that this book sold well says a lot about our society.
This is a misleading book, there are tons of other great books you can read for true success: Talent is Overrated (no BS way how people become great at what they do), 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (classic), and How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People... to name a few. Very few will read this review before buying, and more copies of this book will sell due to the cynical and lazy nature of people. Don't be one of those people, don't buy this book.
3,788 of 4,040 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2007
Where to begin? I actually had fun reading this book, to be honest. It is, if nothing else, a bit inspirational and motivational. To the author's credit he has (and I have emphasized this before) come up with a catchy title and gimick to sell you a book--good for him. What's inside, though, are things that you can find better handled by other authors in other books.
In the first part of the book one can't help notice what a great guy the author is. We notice this becasuse he tells us. We are to believe that he has gone through the Hero's Journey and back again before his late 20's. Now, dear reader, he has distilled the fruits of his vast experience and wisdom into this little gem. Read it, and you will never have to work again. Just be sure to purchase with the 8 minute ab workout.
We get a lesson on the Pareto Principle. If you have never heard of the Pareto Priciple before (otherwise known as the 80/20 rule) you should go back to junior high. BTW, Brian Tracy has discussed this principle and its implications ad nauseum. The author would have us believe that he personally redicovered in some forgotton tome (probably while motorcycle kung-fu rock climbing in Bora Bora--between kendo lessons) and was just about the first to ever apply it to his life.
Later in the book we get some basic info (all easily found in more detail in other books) about starting a web business, outsourcing your workload, etc.
I can appreciate some of this as I had a web business for several years. This section of the book is an interesting read, but little more. If anything, maybe it will inspire someone else to get started on their own enterprise. And that's perfectly fine. If the author accomplishes this, then good. After all, I don't necessarily think that he's a bad guy, just a shameless self promoter and a bit of a charlatan.
Authors such as Ferriss are common: someone falls a** backwards into a relatively easy existence and then decides that they are experts and proceeds to seel their "secret" to success to everyone else--which helps them get REALLY successful. But here's the deal: One hit wonders are not experts. When you've started 4 or 5 businesses and grown each of them to the point where they are self sufficient, THEN you can call yourself an expert. Striking it lucky one time in stocks, real estate during a bubble, or starting one business do not constitute experience.
In the end, I think that the author does his readers a bit of a disservice by telling them that work is not necessary to be financially successful. I have known both success and failure. I have seen others go, literally, from rags to riches (and sometimes back again). Over the years I guess I have given this subject some thought. My conclusion is that you will not get there (wherever "there" may be for you) by working four hours per week. Vision, hard work, and persistence are the 3 main "secret" ingredients for success. Just as exercise and eating right are necessary to be in shape. But telling people this doesn't sell books.
P.S. Can't help noticing how many 5 star reviews there are for this book from people who have only written one review. Hmmm...
740 of 809 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2007
Ultimately I enjoyed the first half of Timothy Ferriss' book The 4-Hour Work Week. It challenged me to evaluate my perspective on the cost and availability of my own dreams. However I couldn't help getting the self-promotion stomach pangs while I read it. Hopefully you'll be able to look past that and enjoy the book for what it is: a challenge to the way we as Americans think of retirement and money.
The first 70 to 90 pages of the book are extremely engaging and well worth the price of the book. After that the book turns into a "lifestyle-for-dummies" book on setting up a shell company to sell someone else's products. Although I find it noble that Ferriss is attempting to give people pragmatic steps for implementing his "New Rich" lifestyle, I also find his suggestions impractical for two reasons:
* His business ideas rely on tiny, niche audiences. This works well unless his book becomes a best seller and many people decide they want to do the same thing (can you say, We Buy Ugly Houses?). Anyone who figures out how to make 5 or 10 times their money on a product that they exert little effort to produce will quickly find competition popping out of the woodwork.
* His business ideas are not sustainable. They rely on marketing strategies and promotions that have to work forever without any change to profitability or response rates, in order to maintain the "4-hour work week" lifestyle. In my experience the market is fickle and changes frequently, especially as it relates to the internet and online marketing.
I can't help but think that the entire "New Rich" concept is a branding ploy to roll out a series of self-help seminars. Let's hope not. If it does, it will distort the message of the book, for it would require that Ferriss trade in his "New Rich" lifestyle to be back in the rat race on a quest for the millions that he claims are not necessary to achieve one's dreams.
Perhaps that's the real lesson to be learned from the book: no matter where you are, the grass always seems greener on the other side.
Jeremy Ames, Executive Editor
666 of 730 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2007
First, I have to say that I was very enthusiastic about the first part of this book, as Tim suggests that people should consider other ways of living their life instead of working hard toward an eventual retirement. But later I realized after reading the book that the "live your life now, don't wait until later" concept is not new, and has been preached by everyone from philosophers to life coaches for decades now. [...].
Second, while the advice he has for people who already have a business is good (automating certain administrative tasks, checking e-mail less frequently even if you think your world might end if you do that), the ideas he dishes out to would-be entrepreneurs is much more troubling. Specifically product development, which he labels "finding a muse", could mislead some people into believing that you can make an instant-business every month with the help of affiliate marketers, drop shippers, and faking credibility (just check the forums on the book's website). Many things he suggests doing just contributes to the amount of crap we see every day on the internet and in infomercials, and probably isn't a very rewarding way for an entrepreneur to live their life or make their money. It's the equivalent of a how-to-become a 21st century snake oil salesman.
Finally, I know there is a lot of criticism about his ideas on outsourcing tasks, but we live in an outsourced world. The shirt your wearing was made in Indonesia, your fruits and vegetables were picked by migrant workers from Mexico, and your computer that you're reading this from right now was manufactured in China. Adjusted for the cost of living, the Indonesians, Chinese, and Indians make a good amount of money doing what they do to live the "middle-class" versions of their lives in their respective countries, just as you do mundane tasks and get paid much less than corporate shareholders to live the middle-class life in your own country. So don't talk about outsourcing as if it's a bad thing, cause if I can pay Jimmy down the street to mow my lawn for less than a landscaping service, he's gonna get that ten dollars so I can have the extra cash to buy Tim's book and waste time writing a bad review of it on Amazon.
344 of 375 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2007
Mix a handful of shopworn business truisms ("20% of customers provide 80% of profits," "Work always fills the time alloted") with a jaw-slackening disregard for basic ethics and you get Tim Ferriss's "lifestyle design" plan. The premise: somewhere along the globalization superhighway, luxuriating in pleasure and whim for all but four hours of each week became the calling of the "new rich" (an awkwardly invented designation Ferriss no doubt dreams will replace "tipping point" as the zeitgeist's latest catchphrase). It became the calling of Ferriss, at least, through a crafty scheme of pulling in profits from online nutritional supplement sales and outsourcing to grossly underpaid Indian virtual assistants such tiresome tasks as communicating with a significant other.
Where Ferriss's concept most obviously breaks down is in the aggregate: society would collapse if everyone who bought this book successfully implemented his scheme, because its very lifeblood is the slew of suckers who actually work. How can you tango dance on a beach in Argentina when Akshay, your virtual assistant, is also busy tango dancing on a beach in Argentina?
More disturbingly, it is hard to listen to or read this book without turning queasy at this undoubtedly intelligent and talented Princeton graduate's near-oblivion to the possibility that, ultimately, life may be less about 'beating the system' to escape work and more about finding a paid vocation that both energizes oneself and services the world at large. The end chapter on service comes off unsettlingly as a last-minute tack-on by editors suddenly faced with a manuscript of stunning superficiality and self-absorption.
Save your money. Less book sales means less pesky bookkeeping work for Ferriss to outsource to Akshay.
345 of 379 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2008
One of the main points to the 4-Hour Workweek is the application of the Pareto (or 80/20) principle to your life. Assuming that 20% of your work provides you with 80% of your productivity, Ferriss argues that you should do everything possible to eliminate the less productive 80% of your time and spend that time doing things you really want to do. Some of his tips include: outsourcing as much of your life as possible through virtual assistants, ignoring communication methods like email, television, newspapers, meetings, phone calls, etc., using back-office companies to automate all aspects of a company while marking up products by 10x in order to live the life you want.
Interestingly enough, the 80/20 principle also applies to this book. Twenty percent of the book contains 80% of the good ideas. The other 80% is basically tripe about the author hyping himself up and giving unethical advice on how to do business.
I suggest going to your local bookstore and flipping through the book to see if any of it can apply to you instead of buying it. If you're a single person with no real responsibilities, then much more of the book may be helpful.
My rating is based on the amount of comparative usefulness I derived from reading the book (20%).
361 of 402 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2013
This guy is far from typical and discusses a disruptive lifestyle that most people would not want. The title is also misleading. Ferris talks about losing 30 lbs in 24 hours(you read that right!) for a kickboxing match in (some Asian country). The end goal is to put himself into lighter fighting category, where he has a great advantage. While this is extreme, that risk taking mindset is what you need to excel in business and is beyond the toolkit of most people.
I'm not saying he is a liar but come on! Most people wouldn't dream of doing something like that. There are some good tidbits in the book but I was completely distracted by his travel fetish. 30% of the book talks about International travel.
The theme of the book is how the author created a heath supplement company(no small feat), worked himself to near death, and realized he could hire VA(virtual assistants) to do his dirty work. I believe the author has great self confidence(a given for business) and is quite intelligent (went to Princeton, but claims he was admitted with a 40% lower SAT). The author is very smart, with a very above average IQ determined by his writing style and accomplishments.
The idea is to hire Indian VA/"slaves" who will do your work for under $10/hr. Yes, that is very possible to do. But developing a business idea, finding a market, and training your VA's to to the job right is a complex task. You also have to have ultimate trust, trusting total strangers with your credit cards, bank accounts etc.
Putting that aside, a four hour workweek is tantamount to the kickboxing situation described above. If you don't have the mindset for business - this book may as well be a James Bond novel. The book gives some examples but if you can't spot opportunities this will never ever work for you. You probably need a connection or two as well - imagine some relative who is a wholesaler for a hot item and can drop ship you a product dirt cheap. You still need the minimal skill to set up a yahoo/ebay store, deal with customers, learn SEO/Adsense, etc. If the market is competitive don't forget a nice chunk of change too!
He talks about Adsense - That could be a major money drain if you don't have the right product. The landscape changed so much in the past few years and Google is very serious about people trying to market junk (10 years ago it was like shooting fish in a barrel).
He talks about niche markets - simply type something into Google search and there are thousands of branches leading away from your search term. For example - Ice skating may be a hard market but Ice Skating for Seniors may be easier because there is less competition.
Then there is product creation. Most wouldn't even have a clue where to start. If you have an idea you can get some company in China (or the Thomas Register) to make it for you. You can also create information products/services as well. He even states to look for a product within your skillset, something which is highly dependent on your background and is not practical for most. The second challenge would be to install it into a non-competitive market with a large audience(something highly searched but there are few major websites purveying products). There is the google adwords tool that lets you check any search term and determine how many searches there are a month. From there you get other variations, and you can run the search in google to see how competitive (e.g. Authority websites) exist for that term. For example "Weight Loss" would be impossible to break into, since you would find hard hitters like WebMD at the top. However, weight loss for pregnant women in Albany, NY may have a much less competitive market (maybe not, but you get the idea).
One example in the book talks about someone who was a musician and set up a website to sell sound effects and made a killing. He would act as a middleman and ship the DVD to the customer. Here is someone who is both in the industry (connection) and took the time to learn the technical aspects of internet marketing. This case study is probably one of the better points in the book where he discusses testing and advertising.
When you read the news, you should be reading for hot trends and thinking in terms of new products and services that are on the horizon. The ability to spot things like that before they get big is essential to success. For example, people made fortunes selling "Grill" rapper teeth when they first came out. Again, the basic business info discussed applies.
There are some good ideas in the book but there is too much diversion and even as someone who is somewhat experienced in this I was left searching for details. The author is also an extreme risk taker that is way beyond what they average person would consider. Many entrepreneurs fit into that mold. I'm not saying you can't make some money online but trying to follow this guy is like trying to copy Steve Jobs or Richard Branson.
Finding something very profitable without connections or special skills requires business skill that would probably bring 6 figures in employment. What the book does not mention is how many people fail and lose 5 or 6 figures of money. I know people who lost 10K on adsense in a few weeks. That is the hard and cold fact. Not to discourage anyone from trying, but the tone of the book just makes it too easy (like most money making e-books) and does not give the whole story. The idea is not to think about failure and just suffer consequences until you make it. Big Corporations can run at a major loss for a quarter or two, pay all their employees and not have to worry their light are shut off. Then business picks up and they are in the black. Try not paying bills for 3 months, we all know what will happen. That will not fly for most people, but is required for business.
If you are really motivated, the ideas in this review should probably be enough to get you started! Most information can be found free on the web. The bottom line is, I don't care if you are Apple or the kid selling apple juice on his lawn, you need two things to succeed - A starving crowd who is dying for your product and either low competition or capital for major advertising. Post comments and I will be glad to answer them.
78 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2008
There is good stuff in Timothy Ferriss's anti-job self-help book The 4-Hour Workweek. Unfortunately, it's drowned out by the piles of bad and useless advice that pervade much of the book. But let's start with the good. The first two sections of T4HWW make some very valid points. Ferriss argues that, for most, the ideal life is much cheaper than it might seem. He rails against the "deferred life plan"--working a decade (or three) doing something you don't like to save money for retirement, where you'll (supposedly) do what you've always wanted. Ferriss gives some good time-management advice as well. I liked his emphasis on thinking about what you are doing and dropping the things that aren't important. That may sound obvious, but many people confuse busyness with productivity. I liked Ferriss's "comfort challenges," which are designed to get readers accustomed to facing their fears. Ferriss gives some good advice on quitting a bad job, and he might inspire some to do just that.
Now for the bad. Unfortunately, there's a lot of bad. Ferriss projects an overconfidence and arrogance that is sometimes-patronizing and often-irritating (I don't need to be told that a chapter will "put [me] on the real breakfast of champions"). Many of his claims are far-fetched. For example, he confidently states that, by reading his chapter on time management, you will experience "an increase in personal productivity between 100 and 500%." Blech.
It's glaringly obvious that Ferriss is a style-over-substance kind of guy. He begins T4HWW with a litany of his accomplishments: he's been a "no-holds-barred cage fighter," a "Princeton University guest lecturer," a "Glycemic Index researcher," an "MTV break-dancer," a "political asylum activist," a "TV host in Thailand," and so on. The legitimacy of these credentials is unclear, and, perhaps tellingly, Ferriss later gives readers advice on how to embellish their own resumes. It's clear that looking good on paper is very important to Ferriss. Did he write this book to help readers, or merely to add another bullet point to his resume?
If Ferriss's advice were good, that question might not matter (much). But most of it isn't. The second part of T4HWW--the most-practical, most-specific part--is at its core a get-rich-quick scheme. Ferriss advises readers to design a product--whatever crap is likely to make money, it seems--and then to have third parties handle the manufacturing, order fulfillment, and customer service. The idea is to sit back, do (almost) nothing, and watch the checks come in.
Ferriss's cynicism is alarming. He doesn't seem to acknowledge the possibility of making money in a fun and meaningful way, and he certainly doesn't give advice in that vein. The guiding principle of T4HWW is to do what it takes to make as much money as possible with as little effort as possible. Ferriss's own business is a shining example of this philosophy: he sells a sports supplement ("the world's first neural accelerator"!) on a website replete with testimonials, "110% guarantees," and other infomercial-esque gimmicks. I'll let you decide how much value you think his business is adding.
So Ferriss is cynical, but does his approach work? I would guess that, for most people, the answer is no. Many of Ferriss's business ideas exploit easily-duplicable arbitrage opportunities. In chapter 9, Ferriss describes his friend Doug, who resells sound effects libraries on the internet. Well, "resells" is too strong a word: Doug merely forwards orders to the manufacturers, who then ship directly to his customers. In another example, Ferriss describes a man who ships shirts from France to the U.S., where he sells them at a (large) profit.
Is it possible to make a lot of money with such an approach? Yes. Is it likely? I doubt it. If you're as wily as Ferriss, you might find something that works--but, then again, you could probably also find success in a more-legitimate (and probably more-enjoyable) pursuit.
While I did like Ferriss's thoughts on handling a bad job, his advice on working remotely is not applicable to the many--if not most--who don't sit in front of a computer all day. And even if you're a computer jockey, I doubt his approach is all it's cracked up to be. In a hypothetical example, Ferriss describes a man who works remotely (on his computer) while in Munich during Oktoberfest. The thing is, Ferriss suggests being substantially more productive outside the office to show your boss that working remotely makes good business sense. Trying to be extra-productive during Oktoberfest is not my idea of a good time.
I could go on, but I won't. Though I did like parts of T4HWW, there's a lot to dislike about Ferriss's book. It would have been better without the 100-page get-rich-quick scheme. (And had Ferriss toned things down a bit, but let's not get greedy.) Nonetheless, there is good content, and the good parts might have a meaningful impact on the right reader. I don't recommend this book, but you could certainly do worse.
346 of 387 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2007
For someone who is promoting the "four hour week" he sure could have cut out the filler from his book and reduced it to four pages or so.
I didn't enjoy this book. It's a highly immature and unrealistic approach to life. In summary: set up a website, get someone else to run it, and go enjoy all the free time this will create for you.
I would have liked if this book had of promoted the concept of personal responsibility more. In other words: YOU are responsible for your own happiness. Only YOU choose the emotions you feel. There are plenty of unhappy people out there, and blaming the job they chose is a cop out. They'll probably be unhappy whatever they do.
Also, I've been running a number of websites for a few years (trying to create financial freedom for myself) and I can tell you it is not easy. Nearly all commercial websites fail. His system will not work for 99% of people. Basically he got lucky. He forgets to mention that part.
The books extremely shallow "screw the world!" attitude to life is quite disapointing. An example: he became (although it sounds like BS) a world fighting champion in FOUR WEEKS by taking advantage of a loop hole in the sport. First, what's the point of being a world champion in something if you don't know how to do it? I wouldn't be satisfied having a trophy for something I knew nothing about. Second, I don't actually believe him. A lot of his stories sound like the fantasies of a teenager.
There are other routes to happiness that don't involve being a snake oil sales man. If you really want to find inner peace and happiness: help others, take responsibility for your own feelings and actions, exercise your body and brain, and then maybe consider starting a part-time business.
823 of 929 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2010
Like so many others, I bought this book on the recommendation of a friend. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed. The author actually follows a very predictable pattern used frequently by charmers that claim they can change your life or make you rich. The first half of the book builds you up by citing examples of success, then the second half provides vacuous information about how to outsource your life after you've made it, while never really providing you any usable information on how to "make it".
I can't imagine why this book is getting so many 5 star reviews. As others have stated, I also suspect that the author is somehow gaming the Amazon rating system. Forget the money, I wish I could get back the hours I invested in reading this book!
UPDATE: After several commenters disagreed with my review, I went back to the book and gave it another try. Unfortunately, I think less of it this time that I did the first time! I still maintain that many of the positive reviews for this book are fake. Interestingly enough I came across the following article that describes companies that are paid to post positive reviews. Could it be that the man that has outsourced his life has also enlisted the help of one of these services?