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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.
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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...
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on March 22, 2013
The 4-Hour Workweek has been influential to some of my friends, so I listened to the audiobook. It is just another snarky self-centered young man trying to show others how to "game the system." For example, how Mr. Ferris would go into his college professor's office after he received anything less than an "A" grade, and have a prepared list of questions that totaled over 3 hours of the professor's time. Eventually the professor would capitulate and Ferris got his "A." Second example, Ferris won the Chinese kickboxing championship by finding loopholes in the rules regarding an opponent falling from the fighting platform, so he stopped kickboxing and would eventually push opponents from the edge, thereby "winning" the matches. If this is winning, no thanks! This is borderline sociopathic behavior. Not much of substance here. And I am, by the way, self employed, run my own schedule and travel the world. There are occasional 4-hour weeks for me, but they are balanced by 60 hour weeks, That, my dear Mr. Ferris is the true reality of self employment.
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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
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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.
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on July 24, 2013
I will keep this short. As short as I can while keeping it useful.

The author makes many claims in the book. I will talk about two verifiably false ones

Claim one: Tim says he went to Argentina and studied tango for 5 months for 4-6 hours a day, or was it 8? I am not quoting so whatever. Anyway, as a result from this he supposedly was selected to be one of 29 finalists out of 1000 couples in a tango competition. That is claim one.

Claim two is that he broke a world record in tango dancing (doesn't tell you more details in the book).
Now you read this and you think wow! What an accomplishment. Here is the catch: I found two videos on Youtube for both events and reality does not match the claims in the book.

How to verify:

Videos of both events are on Youtube. He is a bad Tango dancer. Actually not horrible, more like a real beginner. His steps are uncertain and his the lead is purposeless and almost as absent as his musicality. Nothing wrong with that, for a beginner. He is making huge claims that are simply not true. What are we to believe about the other claims, Timmy? A fulfilled life is not a half-assed pretend one.
I have been dancing Tango exclusively for 9 years and can tell you that his claims are false. The description of the "achievement" and the reality as depicted in the videos are not related.
Compare what you see (do a Youtube search for tango and the author's name) to what he has claimed in the book. In the video on Youtube where he "breaks the world record for Tango", the hosts asks him if he can turn 27 times in a minute and he does that (spins around unimpressingly), of course no tango dancer has tried that as it is stupid. How about a world record for blinking 5 times while you dance?. You yourself can do what is in the clip right now.

In all honesty the book deserves one and a half stars for trying to empower people. But I cannot give it more than one star for dishonesty. Another issue is the business model Tim is using. He is preaching one business model but making money from another (selling his book). This is like all those late night infomercials that sell you a "course" to teach you how to make money from real estate with no money down while the "teachers" themselves are really making money from selling the course itself, not real estate. Tim is making money off of you my friend.
Do you need someone to tell you that your work sucks? You know that. Do you need someone to tell you are a sucker if you wait for retirement to maybe get a golden wheelchair in your twilight years or days? If yes then there are better more honest books out there such as DeMarco's "Millionaire Fastlane" (I give that one three and a half stars)...

In another Youtube video the author was talking about how to give a "15 minute female orgasm". If you believe that please send me email as I have some .com stock to sell you.
Here is a free tip for you: If you want to become an entrepreneur then you need a "BS meter" to detect all the useless stuff out there and if the needle on that BS meter has not moved after reading the un-outsourced reviews here, then you are in trouble.
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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.
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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%).
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on October 9, 2011
The essence of this book is that Tim Ferriss used age-old scams like speed-reading and dietary supplements in order to make money. The biggest scam of all, though, is writing a book with a catchy title that promises a quick and easy way to become wealthy and happy, and Tim has done that one with ease, too. Most of the book is self-serving egocentric prose. The few sections actually describing how an online or mailorder scam business would work seem to have been lifted from someone else's get rich scheme. The rest of the book is references to other products, services, and books. For the ending, Tim assumes quite insultingly that everyone who reads the book has the same exact fantasy of going backpacking across Europe and hang gliding in Thailand, so he gives lots of advice about traveling on the cheap. Overall, the content seems thin enough to have been written in a few days.
I feel fortunate because, instead of having to pay for this book, I pulled it out of a box of free books that someone left on the curb. By putting this book in my paper recycling, I hope that it will be turned into something actually useful, like a box.
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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.
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