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The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich Hardcover – April 24, 2007
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About the Author
TIMOTHY FERRISS is a serial entrepreneur, #1 New York Times bestselling author, and angel investor/advisor (Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, Uber, and 20+ more). Best known for his rapid-learning techniques, Tim's books -- The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef -- have been published in 30+ languages. The 4-Hour Workweek has spent seven years on The New York Times bestseller list. Tim has been featured by more than 100 media outlets including The New York Times, The Economist, TIME, Forbes, Fortune, Outside, NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox and CNN. He has guest lectured in entrepreneurship at Princeton University since 2003. His popular blog www.fourhourblog.com has 1M+ monthly readers, and his Twitter account @tferriss was selected by Mashable as one of only five “Must-Follow” accounts for entrepreneurs. Tim’s primetime TV show, The Tim Ferriss Experiment (www.upwave.com/tfx), teaches rapid-learning techniques for helping viewers to produce seemingly superhuman results in minimum time.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Cautions and Comparisons
How to Burn $1,000,000 a night
These individuals have riches just as we say that we “have a fever,” when really the fever has us.
—seneca (4 b.c.–a.d. 65)
I also have in mind that seemingly wealthy, but most terribly impoverished class of all, who have accumulated dross, but know not how to use it, or get rid of it, and thus have forged their own golden or silver fetters.
—henry david thoreau (1817–1862)
1:00 a.m. cst, 30,000 feet over las vegas
His friends, drunk to the point of speaking in tongues, were asleep. It was just the two of us now in first-class. He extended his hand to introduce himself, and an enormous—Looney Tunes enormous—diamond ring appeared from the ether as his fingers crossed under my reading light.
Mark was a legitimate magnate. He had, at different times, run practically all the gas stations, convenience stores, and gambling in South Carolina. He confessed with a half smile that, in an average trip to Sin City, he and his fellow weekend warriors might lose an average of $500,000 to $1,000,000—each. Nice.
He sat up in his seat as the conversation drifted to my travels, but I was more interested in his astounding record of printing money.
“So, of all your businesses, which did you like the most?”
The answer took less than a second of thought.
“None of them.”
He explained that he had spent more than 30 years with people he didn’t like to buy things he didn’t need. Life had become a succession of trophy wives—he was on lucky number three—expensive cars, and other empty bragging rights. Mark was one of the living dead.
This is exactly where we don’t want to end up.
Apples and Oranges: A Comparison
So, what makes the difference? What separates the New Rich, characterized by options, from the Deferrers (D), those who save it all for the end only to find that life has passed them by?
It begins at the beginning. The New Rich can be separated from the crowd based on their goals, which reflect very distinct priorities and life philosophies.
Note how subtle differences in wording completely change the necessary actions for fulfilling what at a glance appear to be similar goals. These are not limited to business owners. Even the first, as I will show later, applies to employees.
D:To work for yourself.
NR:To have others work for you.
D:To work when you want to.
NR:To prevent work for work’s sake, and to do the minimum necessary for maximum effect (“minimum effective load”).
D:To retire early or young.
NR:To distribute recovery periods and adventures (mini-retirements) throughout life on a regular basis and recognize that inactivity is not the goal. Doing that which excites you is.
D:To buy all the things you want to have.
NR:To do all the things you want to do, and be all the things you want to be. If this includes some tools and gadgets, so be it, but they are either means to an end or bonuses, not the focus.
D:To be the boss instead of the employee; to be in charge.
NR:To be neither the boss nor the employee, but the owner. To own the trains and have someone else ensure they run on time.
D:To make a ton of money.
NR:To make a ton of money with specific reasons and defined dreams to chase, timelines and steps included. What are you working for?
D:To have more.
NR:To have more quality and less clutter. To have huge financial reserves but recognize that most material wants are justifications for spending time on the things that don’t really matter, including buying things and preparing to buy things. You spent two weeks negotiating your new Infiniti with the dealership and got $10,000 off? That’s great. Does your life have a purpose? Are you contributing anything useful to this world, or just shuffling papers, banging on a keyboard, and coming home to a drunken existence on the weekends?
D:To reach the big pay-off, whether IPO, acquisition, retirement, or other pot of gold.
NR:To think big but ensure payday comes every day: cash flow first, big payday second.
D:To have freedom from doing that which you dislike.
NR:To have freedom from doing that which you dislike, but also the freedom and resolve to pursue your dreams without reverting to work for work’s sake (W4W). After years of repetitive work, you will often need to dig hard to find your passions, redefine your dreams, and revive hobbies that you let atrophy to near extinction. The goal is not to simply eliminate the bad, which does nothing more than leave you with a vacuum, but to pursue and experience the best in the world.
Getting Off the Wrong Train
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.
—richard p. feynman, Nobel Prize–winning physicist
Enough is enough. Lemmings no more. The blind quest for cash is a fool’s errand.
I’ve chartered private planes over the Andes, enjoyed many of the best wines in the world in between world-class ski runs, and lived like a king, lounging by the infinity pool of a private villa. Here’s the little secret I rarely tell: It all cost less than rent in the United States. If you can free your time and location, your money is automatically worth 3–10 times as much.
This has nothing to do with currency rates. Being financially rich and having the ability to live like a millionaire are fundamentally two very different things.
Money is multiplied in practical value depending on the number of W’s you control in your life: what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it. I call this the “freedom multiplier.”
Using this as our criterion, the 80-hour-per-week, $500,000-per-year investment banker is less “powerful” than the employed NR who works 1?4 the hours for $40,000, but has complete freedom of when, where, and how to live. The former’s $500,000 may be worth less than $40,000 and the latter’s $40,000 worth more than $500,000 when we run the numbers and look at the lifestyle output of their money.
Options—the ability to choose—is real power. This book is all about how to see and create those options with the least ef- fort and cost. It just so happens, paradoxically, that you can make more money—a lot more money—by doing half of what you are doing now.
So, Who Are the NR?
qThe employee who rearranges his schedule and negotiates a remote work agreement to achieve 90% of the results in one-tenth of the time, which frees him to practice cross-country skiing and take road trips with his family two weeks per month.
qThe business owner who eliminates the least profitable customers and projects, outsources all operations entirely, and travels the world collecting rare documents, all while working remotely on a website to showcase her own illustration work.
qThe student who elects to risk it all—which is nothing—to establish an online video rental service that delivers $5,000 per month in income from a small niche of HDTV aficionados, a two-hour-per-week side project that allows him to work full-time as an animal rights lobbyist.
The options are limitless, but each path begins with the same first step: replacing assumptions.
To join the movement, you will need to learn a new lexicon and recalibrate direction using a compass for an unusual world. From inverting responsibility to jettisoning the entire concept of “success,” we need to change the rules.
New Players for a New Game: Global and Unrestricted
Civilization had too many rules for me, so I did my best to rewrite them.—Bill Cosby
As he rotated 360 degrees through the air, the deafening noise turned to silence. Dale Begg-Smith executed the backflip perfectly—skis crossed in an X over his head—and landed in the record books as he slid across the finish.
It was February 16, 2006, and he was now a mogul-skiing gold medalist at the Turin Winter Olympics. Unlike other full-time athletes, he will never have to return to a dead-end job after his moment of glory, nor will he look back at this day as the climax of his only passion. After all, he was only 21 years old and drove a black Lamborghini.
Born a Canadian and something of a late bloomer, Dale found his calling, an Internet-based IT company, at the age of 13. Fortunately, he had a more-experienced mentor and partner to guide him: his 15-year-old brother, Jason. Created to fund their dreams of standing atop the Olympic podium, it would, only two years later, become the third-largest company of its kind in the world.
While Dale’s teammates were hitting the slopes for extra sessions, he was often buying sake for clients in Tokyo. In a world of “work harder, not smarter,” it came to pass that his coaches felt he was spending too much time on his business and not enough time in training, despite his results.
Rather than choose between his business or his dream, Dale chose to move laterally with both, from either/or to both/and. He wasn’t spending too much time on his business; he and his brother were spending too much time with Canucks.
In 2002, they moved to the ski capital of the world, Australia, where the team was smaller, more flexible, and coached by a legend. Three short years later, he received citizenship, went head-to-head against former teammates, and became the third “Aussie” in history to win winter gold.
In the land of wallabies and big surf, Dale has since gone postal. Literally. Right next to the Elvis Presley commemorative edition, you can bu...
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First of all, when I picked up the book, I didn't expect that he was literally working only four hours a week. I thought he was just talking about ways to spend less time working, but that "The 4-Hour" just sounded good (since he now has a whole line of books with titles that start that way). Nope. Turns out he really only worked four hours every week for a few years. I hate him. Now, with his series of books and everything, that's not true so much, so I hate him less. Now his job is much more similar to what I actually want to do.
As I said, Ferriss has some great ways of eliminating clutter and busywork, including things you don't even think of as busywork. I've already started implementing some of these tips at work, and they've come in pretty handy so far. I keep meaning to get rid of a bunch of my physical clutter, but my laziness keeps getting in the way of that. I'll get around to it in the next few weeks.
I also appreciated his philosophy of taking mini-retirements throughout life, rather than one long retirement at the end of life. I never did understand the point of retirement, so Ferriss's plan sounds much more appealing to me. As he put it, retirement should be nothing more than a fail-safe in case something happens and you are physically (or mentally) incapable of working. My thoughts exactly.
My main problem with his philosophy is that it really only works if you have a product that you are not actually making, but that you can sell. For example, even if I were to quit my day job and write all day every day, I would still be working a lot. Granted, that would make my job a whole lot more portable, but I could never get away with only working four hours per week (at least not until after I sell that bestselling novel, which is such a realistic plan!) In order to do it his way, I would need to have something that is already produced, or that someone else is making (clothes, dietary supplement, etc.) where all I have to do is collect the money that comes in from those sales.
Of course, that's a lot harder than it sounds. His ways of eliminating the useless from his life are really quite impressive, and not to be underestimated, but I still wonder if someone in their twenties, who is just starting out in life, can really make his plan work? Some of his success stories include people negotiating working remotely, because they have built up value in their company. Someone who has only been working at their current job for a year or two does not have the kind of leverage necessary to do that.
Additionally, he talks about the trick to getting out of your job so you can go have that great once-in-a-lifetime adventure. He mentions considering the worst-case scenario and the fact that worst-case is not necessarily all that bad. One of his points he brings up is that, if he loses his job, he can get another one fairly easily. Well, great for him, but the original book was written before the job market collapsed, followed by this lovely "jobless recovery". I was recently unemployed for eight months and it was not fun. I, too, thought I could get another job within a few months, but that did not turn out to be the case. So, if I go spend all my money on a mini-retirement now, and then come back only to find that I can't get a job for another year, I'll be screwed. Yes, even that worst-case scenario isn't that bad. I could always move back in with my parents, but I'd really rather not. I love them, but they have enough to deal with right now, and the last thing I want to do is burden the people around me because I decided to go globe-trotting for a few months. Timothy Ferriss told me it would be fine!
1. Pretend you're an expert on... anything. He specifically explains that it doesn't even matter what you might or might not actually know. You do this by repackaging the works of others and selling "your" ideas on-line -- to the gullible masses. Seriously, he begins by admitting he first made his fortune selling (allegedly) nutritional supplements that cost almost nothing to make and weren't based on science, but were then hyped to the point the uninformed public was paying through the nose to get it. This gave him ideas on how to further hype his message to an even larger audience, without bothering to sell anything tangible. Just tell them how they, too, can get rich quick by pretending to actually know something. He then gives advice about "paraphrasing and combining points from several books," borrowing from the public domain, and/or compensating some other "expert." This way, you don't need to be bothered to actually learn anything, which brings me to step #2.
2. Stay uneducated. This is in the chapter entitled "The Low Information Diet." He admits he doesn't bother staying abreast on the news or any other kinds of current events -- even to the point that, during election seasons, he simply asks his more educated friends about whom will win their votes and then votes for those candidates. Not kidding. He justifies this by saying how the time it takes to, you know, LEARN THINGS, is time that could be spent running a business on autopilot or having fun. Apparently, not knowing a damn thing is a virtue he calls "Cultivating Selective Ignorance." I prefer to call it, "The Suicide of Democracy." If having an educated and well-informed populace is fundamental to having a flourishing democracy, this is how we'll end up with a plutocracy where the stupidest few prey on the desperate and stupid masses, while outsourcing all the jobs they might create. This brings me to point #3.
3. Outsource everything -- including your brain -- to a 3rd World Country: He hires virtual assistants in various 3rd World Countries, especially India, who are then given fabulous access to all of his personal information to the point they can pretend to be him and make all of his personal and business decisions. They send all of his correspondence, including e-mails and anything of an official nature (which causes me to assume they wrote this book for him. They certainly wrote many of the excellent reviews). Personal business which can be done remotely are always done by them. As he states he can't be bothered to think for himself, it shouldn't be surprising he isn't interested in working for himself, either. Hey, what could possibly go wrong by hiring complete strangers and giving them all information about you in order to think for you, do your work and run your errands? Finally, point #4:
4. Avoid those who want knowledge: If you can't be bothered knowing anything, why should they? Whether it's your boss or your client, do everything in your power to avoid those people because of how they drain your time. The boss wants you to attend a meeting? Just tell him you're too busy and further kill morale by then asking those other suckers - aka, co-workers - for a quick breakdown of what happened. Clients? Don't get back to them right away, if ever. If they demand to actually know something, have those remote virtual assistants send them just enough to get them to shut up.
There are a couple, minuscule, points the author makes that are reasonably valid, such as: It's good to streamline your many processes and it's good to have solid goals. Also, I could say that the book begins by being very motivational. If I were critiquing this on just the first few pages it would likely have 4 stars. As it's written, the unethical, stupid and lazy b.s. kills any chance of this even getting 2 stars.
I wish I hadn't bought this on Kindle.
I wish I had read the bad reviews, first.
For example, if you don't want a million bucks in a bank account but a small automated (or semi-automated) business to support simple and happy lifestyle then you don't have to work your face off every day for 10 years. Right? Hard work is defined by your own goals and ambitions (and not by how much time somebody else put in the work with 10X of your needs in life).
The great thing about this book is that it can be applied not only to business but to personal productivity in general: In last few years, I managed to lower my working hours (I'm a web developer; went from full-time to part-time) while increasing total salary (more than 3X) and launching my own small business (around online software).
Just be aware, that this book is just a foundation to see new options in life and start asking a different kind of questions. For a specific skillset (which depends on who you are and your goals in life) I suggest reading other books in combination with the 4HWW.