Review: The Four-Hour Workweek


A manual on how to be Tim Ferriss.

And let’s face it, not everyone wants to be Tim Ferriss. Probably not even a lot of people, really. (Though you wouldn’t know it from his sales figures.)

So, unless you happen to be Tim reading this (what’s up, Tim?), there will be great scads of the book that you don’t feel apply to you.

Here’s the key: those sections will be different for each person. Perhaps you want to find a niche market and put your income on autopilot, so that section will be very useful to you, but you have no interest in mini-retirement vacations, so that part you will skim. Or vice versa.

The only person who wants to be exactly Tim Ferriss is Tim Ferriss. So this book is guaranteed to be disappointing, in at least one respect, to YOU. Get it?

(Again… unless you’re Tim. Don’t you have better things to do, man??)

Does that mean you can’t learn anything here? Of course not. There‘s probably at least one thing that Tim Ferriss does (or conceives) better than you.

For my part, I found plenty.

The point is, you get what you focus on.

Yes, there is fair amount of douchbaggery here. Some young guy arrogance, some bragging about cheating, being a pest to someone until they give in, lying to people until they leave you the sweet f**k alone, etc.

Not behavior I want to emulate.

But had I focused only on that I might have missed quite a bit of the positive:

  • Questioning the status quo. This is why people feel that life is drudgery: they blindly accept rather than question what’s right for them.
  • Working for your own vision for your life, rather than as an employee for someone else’s vision.
  • Removing the biggest barriers: your own self-imposed limitations. We build our own cages.
  • Designing a life vs. work for a living.
  • Mini-retirements instead of deferred happiness (“I’ll only be unhappy for 30-40 years, then I’ll enjoy life!”)
  • More money is not the goal or solution to anything. Owning enviable things is not a goal. Having the life you envision is.
  • Misperception that only the ultra rich can travel and enjoy the world. “Luxury” living is possible on the cheap in other countries.
  • Embracing the unrealistic. (Far more motivating than setting the boring “realistic” goals you’ve been hearing about your whole life.)
  • Doing something you’re excited/passionate about is the goal of life (rather than just bland terms “success, happiness”)
  • How to overcome fear to contact your heroes and turn them into mentors.
  • Attempting the “impossible” with the courage to repeatedly “fail better”.
  • How to connect seemingly impossible, far away goals with concrete actions you can take now, today.
  • Exercises deliberately designed to push you out of your comfort zone (e.g., learning to eye gaze)
  • Putting the craving for variety in its place. Embrace routine for some things, variety for others.
  • Focusing your efforts on your best customers, fire (or at least cease eating shit from) your worst.
  • Poisonous people do not deserve your time.
  • Time is wasted in proportion to the time available.
  • Empowering others to deal with problems rather than always calling you. Teach them to make decisions on their own, without interrupting you for minutiae.
  • Taking a low-information diet every now and then: most “news” is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside your influence.
  • Outsourcing your life: you can always do something more cheaply yourself. But that doesn’t mean it’s smart to spend your time doing it! Pay someone else to do the menial BS and free yourself up for bigger and better things. (If your time is worth 40-50$/hr. but you are doing things that could be accomplished by someone for 10$/hr. you are using your resources poorly.)
  • Don’t let lack of “expertise” stop you. Being an “expert” is just PR mediaspeak. Anyone can attain so-called “expertise” by group affiliations, client lists, writing credentials, and media mentions.
  • You are not your bosses’ slave! It’s an arrangement, a partnership. You want his or her paycheck and he or she wants your labor/time/energy. You are free to negotiate the terms upon which this arrangement takes place.
  • Stop telling yourself fictions which keep you in a bad job (or relationship, friendship, etc.). Your own fear is holding you back from making a decision you know needs to be made. Stop inventing excuses, rip the Band-Aid, and enjoy a new, liberated life.
  • Facing your worst fears and using them as fuel to get moving toward what you want.
  • Escaping the time-starved, speed-obsessed, materialistic-addicted culture every now and then. Experience other cultures. Learn to slow down.
  • Find meaning in your life: fulfilling dreams, or doing work that gives you purpose and self-worth (ideally both).
  • Do not live your life alone: Surround yourself with smiling, positive people. Happiness is multiplied by sharing.

These ideas aren’t new or original to Ferriss. If you’ve read any personal development stuff at all you’ve probably heard most of it before. “Don’t work for a living… design a life!” is pure Tony Robbins. If you’ve read Thoreau, you already know that most people lead lives of quiet desperation and that we needed to question social conventions in order to know any kind of happiness. But it bears repeating.

Know why? Look at most thirty-somethings: they are f**king DRONES. Whiny, bored, uncritical, unfeeling slaves to their handheld devices, eating shit from their bosses and everyone else in their lives, and bitching about their First World problems the whole way.

Ferriss is telling you to stop eating shit, stop making excuses, put away the fucking cell phones once in a while, learn about other cultures, and start thinking about how you truly want to spend your short time on the planet.

I say that’s a good message.

You see, reading this book doesn’t mean you have to try to BE Tim Ferriss.

(Unless, again, you are Tim. Seriously, man… go take some Jai-Alai lessons, or learn how to wrestle sharks or something.)

Find whatever value you can take away from it, ignore the rest.

If you think about it… probably good advice for any book.

Thanks for reading. Have you read this book? Let me know if you agree or disagree with my take in the comments below. This review and others appear on Goodreads.

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