The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
(2246 customer reviews)
What do you do? Tim Ferriss has trouble answering the question. Depending on when you ask this
controversial Princeton University guest lecturer, he might answer:
"I race motorcycles in Europe."
"I ski in the Andes."
"I scuba dive in Panama."
"I dance tango in Buenos Aires."
He has spent more than five years learning the secrets of the New Rich, a fast-growing subculture who has abandoned the "deferred-life plan" and instead mastered the new currencies—time and mobility—to create luxury lifestyles in the here and now.
Whether you are an overworked employee or an entrepreneur trapped in your own business, this book is the compass for a new and revolutionary world. Join Tim Ferriss as he teaches you:
• How to outsource your life to overseas virtual assistants for $5 per hour and do whatever you want
• How blue-chip escape artists travel the world without quitting their jobs
• How to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the principles of a forgotten Italian economist
• How to trade a long-haul career for short work bursts and freuent "mini-retirements"
• What the crucial difference is between absolute and relative income
• How to train your boss to value performance over presence, or kill your job (or company) if it's beyond repair
• What automated cash-flow "muses" are and how to create one in 2 to 4 weeks
• How to cultivate selective ignorance—and create time—with a low-information diet
• What the management secrets of Remote Control CEOs are
• How to get free housing worldwide and airfare at 50–80% off
• How to fill the void and create a meaningful life after removing work and the office
You can have it all—really.
- Amazon Sales Rank: #16223 in Books
- Published on: 2007-04-24
- Released on: 2007-04-24
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Binding: Hardcover
- 320 pages
- Work, Finance and Business Lifestyle and Mobility
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...
Most helpful customer reviews
1765 of 1871 people found the following review helpful.
There's a Sucker Born Everyday ( MUST READ BEFORE PURCHASING!)
By Hwan K. Lee
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.
2583 of 2745 people found the following review helpful.
For Sale: One Bridge in Brooklyn --EZ Payments
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...
383 of 414 people found the following review helpful.
Get "old rich" writing a book about the "New Rich"!
By Nuwire Inc.
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