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Customer Review

10,193 of 10,781 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There's a Sucker Born Everyday ( MUST READ BEFORE PURCHASING!), January 11, 2011
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This review is from: The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Hardcover)
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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Tracked by 33 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 220 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 17, 2011 1:02:43 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jun 7, 2011 1:52:08 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2011 2:23:01 PM PST
Danny Lee says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jan 20, 2011 7:10:53 PM PST
Gates, Jobs, and Buffet are all rich by getting other people to to the work. Eastwood is rich by working in short bursts (acting). As to why they don't offer an endorsement is really an assumption on your part, and as human nature compels, your assumption is designed to fit your beliefs. The most likely scenarios are that they didn't have the opportunity, didn't read the book (now if only Amazon "reviewers" emulated that. ;) ), don't "do" testimonials. And to skip ahead a bit, two of those people are pushing technology more in the "don't work in the office, and get more done with less time" direction, intentionally.

The sheer arrogance in the tail end of your review does an injustice to the good writing you did in the first part of it. The book sells for a number of reasons, not the one you decide. More copies will be sold to people who are curious, to those willing to look at their lives in a different light to examine it, and yes for those looking for a quick buck. So why did you buy it? By your review you must be in that last category. It sounds to me like you were looking for the quick way and are resentful you didn't get it.

As to "cynical", there is no correlation between being a cynic and wanting to get more return on our investment. Indeed, one might go so far as to say that those type of people are not the cynics of the world, it is the cynic of the world that maintains the opposite, and untenable position.

As to what it says about our society? Absolutely nothing. Again it is your personal bias misleading you to invalid conclusions. In a society of over 300 million people (assuming just the US here for discussion), if 99% are opposed to the idea of this book and only 1% are in favor of learning about it, that is over 3 million copies. Indeed, the success of the book says more about the "long tail" than our "society". The reality of the U.S. economy and society is that whatever your desire is, be it reading, biking, old knick-knacks, etc., you can spend as much money as you have (and then some) on just that hobby. Which is, I suspect, much of the point of your "letter A" in your review. The fact is your product does not have to be innovative (e.g. current-day Microsoft Windows/Office). It just has to appeal to a large enough group of people that will pay the price you want for it. In the entrepreneur industry, those are often called "lifestyle" or "cottage" businesses. And they make up a plurality of the businesses in the U.S. alone.

As to which of the two of you are an "expert entrepreneur", reality and common sense says to at least hear what someone who has actually done the task successfully has to say than someone who read a book and issues edicts on something they have not done. Especially one that thinks his review will actually dissuade the unwashed masses from buying something they are interested in.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2011 8:15:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 20, 2011 8:20:48 PM PST
Danny Lee says:
To Bill Anderson,

This is by far the best writing I have read in the internet to my recent memories, although this is not an acknowledgment for the Pulitzer, I thank you for making an effort to make the internet a more intelligent place. God knows we need it. As for my attempt to justify or/and defend myself, I will do it in a paragraph fashion: my first paragraph addressing your first paragraph, my second paragraph addressing your second, and so on. Consider this paragraph as a friendly introduction.

The people I used in my review were people that popped into my head at the time. Amazon reviews don't demand much when it comes to academic discourse, so I did not ponder to make a stronger connection between those four people and my reviews; in retrospect, it was a poor rhetorical move on my part. Yes, I believe that open mindedness is critical for people to live a more, fulfilling lives, but I also know when a person grossly over-exaggerates numerous claims to draw in hard working people to buy his book; his claim is "it worked for me, it can work for everybody", which is mostly not true. I find books that teach people to think for themselves (directly or indirectly) far more valuable than books that uses self-testimonial and other testimonials as the basis of persuasion.

Absolutely agree with you on the cynic part. But my problem was the reviewer labeling me as a cynic, because I doubted a subject. I am a skeptic by nature, so does that make me a concrete cynic? No. And the manipulation of definition order bothered me and proved to me once more that the internet does not have a high IQ. I think Hugh Laurie said it best: "humility before the fact, I find that a beautiful thing."

I'm not the voice of society, for society is an organism far greater than an individual or a group of individuals; sort of like the Universe, or God if you are a religious folk. So yes, I cited Nietzche for that specific reason: the world is what you make of it.

I am all for keeping an open mind, and listening to other people. If Ferriss titled this book, "An Unconventional Guide for Super Success in Entrepreneurship" or something more... business-y, I wouldn't have mind the book at all. But the target audience for Ferriss was the hard working (not necessary satisfied) workers who felt stuck in the world. Ferriss gives false hope to those people who are desperate to better their ever stagnant life, first with the title, "The 4-Hour Workweek". The process that Ferriss maps out, although success can be achieved, takes a lot more than 4 hours per week. Furthermore, Ferriss doesn't tell the readers that 90-95% of brand new businesses fail in our economy; he just progresses through the book as if his method is fail proof. I can go on, but I think I have said enough.

People who apply Ferriss' method can find success, but highly unlikely. I don't want hard working, honest and good people to fall in the trap of thinking that all entrepreneurship-type businesses (which Ferriss advocates) are all successful.

PS: You might see that I am confident in my words, I have had troubles in the past crossing the fine line of confidence and arrogance, so sometimes I cross that line; I'm working on that. As far as why I got the book was the thought that maybe these new ideas will help me make a supplementary income, I mean 4 hours a week? I was hooked. But ultimately disappointed.
Again, thank you for making the internet a more intelligent place.

Best Regards,
DHKL

Posted on Feb 13, 2011 10:30:48 AM PST
Gregory Hall says:
Thank you for the candid review of this book and I appreciate the detail you provided.

Posted on Feb 20, 2011 4:31:51 PM PST
Supriya Sen says:
This is a great review. Thank you for exposing this charlatan. I read "The Guinea Pig Diaries" by AJ Jacobs, the original article on outsourcing (in Esquire) from which much of Tim's outsourcing book was lifted. What is shocking, is that this Tim Ferris has lifted STRAIGHT chunks of it on his website and with hardly an apology of an acknowledgement. I think he is a shocking plagiarizer and a advocate of short cuts- which attitude is the bane of our lives nowadays.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2011 12:38:07 AM PST
S. Ditchburn says:
Thanks DHKL for saying what I was thinking, and probably much better! I've been self-employed for 7 years, and I think the book is a trap with an attractive title. Truly driven people don't just work for 8 hours per day, they live their work, and this is what makes them successful. Of course Buffett, Gates, et al, don't just make their money off other people, they are still there pushing, shoving, battling, innovating, etc, just at a different level. I've never met a truly satisfied entrepreneur who doesn't work their socks off!

Posted on Mar 6, 2011 9:43:05 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 6, 2011 9:43:53 AM PST
D. Boniecki says:
The author of this book made milions. He would be considered sucessful. Did he spent 4 hours a week writing it? Perhas he outsourced the process to India? The only person making income from the ideas in this book is the author :-)

Posted on Mar 8, 2011 8:00:11 AM PST
Fantastic review Mr Lee - one of the best I have read here. The definition of 'success' may be open to debate, but if this book advocates easy shortcuts to make quick money with some questionable advice (ethics compromised) and if that's what people want - what can one do about it - except that there is no substitute for value based, enthusiastic and dedicated work in creating anything worthwhile, great and lasting. To say that great entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Warren Buffet 'got rich by making other people to do work' is a highly cynical statement in itself (in the sense used here - which is - not as a statement of information (in which case it would have been acceptable (i.e technically correct) in its literal and logical sense) but to show their achievements in a negative light (by connoting that all that they achieved was by making others work for them !)). What about the millions of people whose life they touched by creating innovative products and services making it easier and more enjoyable to work and play, providing employment to thousands ? Making money in itself is not a bad thing - everybody wants that and is entitled to strive for it - what one should consider is the manner in which they went about it, what it took, what impact it had on lives, the society and the world. These things are what differentiate great men from a normal guy just wanting to make money without any contribution to society in terms of, say, technical innovation, making life better for masses, addressing real problems etc. - the normal guy just benefits himself and probably causes many people to spend their hard earned money on worthless products and services created just for 'selling'.

Posted on Mar 9, 2011 3:48:46 AM PST
I now know that hell exists. Why? Because anyone who could take the great, life changing insights Ferriss has and warp them into such petty, cynical, defeatist, pessimistic diatribe is so utterly and completely lost that God wouldn't even send this this guy to hell for fear that he would make it more even more unpleasant than having your flesh burning forever in liquid fire alongside multitudes of others forever screaming their lungs out in tortured pain and agony. He's already dragged over 200 people down with him into the muck who found his review useful. So I feel compelled to refute his negative views.

This guy is highly creative in all the wrong ways. Specifically, in coming up with ways of looking at Ferriss' ideas that are utterly defeatist and disempowering. I've known people like this and all they are is focused on the negative. They resist change kicking and screaming. These are the types of people Ferriss rightly advocates you rid from your life forever.

To wit:

"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." There are ample checks and balances out there to prevent fraud or whatever misuse of your personal information. For instance, with the site Virtual Worker you can require workers to put up a cash deposit in the amount you specify before even starting work for you. If you are unhappy with their work then not only do they not get paid, they forfeit this deposit.

"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." - exactly, and that's why you are where you're at - spewing vitriol about something you haven't actually done, so you really have no real basis for criticizing it. You're nothing but an armchair general. By the way, what sort of bias could there be here? That he owns all the outsourcing companies and wants you to do as he says so you leave them all your contact info so he can steal it? Again, your arguments are exceedingly weak, jaded and defeatist.

"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. " it's more like Ferriss left out the obvious, not realizing numbskulls like you could warp that deliberate omission around to make it seem as if he was misrepresenting things. OF COURSE there is lot's of work that must be done up front, and it's best done by you and no one else. But he goes into great detail about how to do it. This is not what you call "average entrepreneurship".

He kind of reminds me of the wormy, always-cover-my-ass-first sales manager played by Kevin Spacey in Glen Garry Glen Ross who won't give out the top leads to any of his salesmen until they start closing sales, but who can't close sales because they're given really bad leads all the time.

"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." - the only one that is cynical and lazy is YOU - you just don't want to see it in yourself, so you see it in other people.

"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?" - I mean, does it get any more pathetic than this? Ferriss says you may eventually feel a void, and gives you viable advice for how to fill it again.

I could go on, but I've literally got some outsourcing projects to post right now (no kidding). Read the book and judge for yourself and listen to do'ers (like Ferriss), not talkers (like this guy).
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