The 4-Hour Workweek–Myth or Reality?

How would you like to only work 4 hours a week and make all the money you need to do the fun things you would like to do in life? The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss tells you how… sort of.

I just finished reading the updated version of Tim’s book, and as he points out, it is not a revised version of the original, but rather an expanded version—by about 100 pages.

So, although this is not a review of the book, I thought I would point out a few of the more interesting observations that could be made.

Let’s take a look at some of the high points:

  • Tim worked 15-hour days until he built a business profitable enough to allow him to hire competent staff and take long vacations—he certainly did not build a successful business by initially working only 4-hours per week. Tim also pulled a few all-nighters in his day.
  • Throughout the book Tim discusses lifestyle habits that make for a happy life and a successful business—like: never multi-task; plan everything well; focus on being productive, not busy; don’t save it up for the end; and many many more. The book is well worth the money just for these gems alone.
  • Tim Ferriss is obviously a master of promotion. He really knows how to build a brand—the 4-Hour brand he created has been highly successful for him. Wired magazine said that Tim was the “Greatest Self-promoter of 2008.”
  • Tim is also a confident and assertive (aggressive?) personality. Some of the things he recommends in his book cannot be carried out by many of us… probably most of us.
  • In his book, Tim discusses “…the singular importance of being a ‘dealmaker’.” Not all of us can be successful “dealmakers.”
  • The book is a bit hard to read and does not flow well. As Tim points out in the book—it started out as a bunch of notes he made on his many trips around the world… then someone said he should write a book. So, he combined his notes and turned them into a book. That’s likely why it tends to read like a compilation of notes.
  • The book is substantially about travel—where to go, how to pack light, how to fly on the cheap, how to find cheap accommodations, how to party the night away in foreign lands, etc.
  • There are an awful lot of Tim’s personal exploits presented throughout the book. I’m not sure how much they add to the book… or to achieving a 4-hour workweek.

Here is what I didn’t like:

  • Tim won a Kickboxing tournament in China by dehydrating his body before the weigh-in, then re-hydrating his body (with professional medical assistance) before the match so he would be fighting opponents 2 weight classes below him. I question the ethics of this maneuver.
  • In the same tournament, Tim discovered that if he pushed his opponents off the platform they would be disqualified and he would win. Apparently, this is how he kept winning his matches (since he outweighed his opponents?), and ultimately the tournament. I also question if I would want to win in this manner.
  • I believe Tim carries his “ask for forgiveness, not permission” philosophy a bit too far in dealing with your employer. Personally, I would fire any employee who lied to me in the manner of some of Tim’s suggestions.
  • Not all of Tim’s suggestions are what I would call desirable.

If you are a new business owner, or an aspiring entrepreneur—the following should be your takeaways from this book:

  • You cannot start and build a business by working only 4 hours per week—that can come only after you are successful, and have a solid cash flow.
  • You need to be as aggressive and self-promoting as Tim Ferriss in order to become as successful as he is—most of us are not.
  • We could all live a more satisfying and enjoyable life, and Tim’s book gives us lots of pointers on how to do this better.
  • Here’s a typical statement taken from Tim’s book: “… we spend too much time with those who poison us with pessimism, sloth, and low expectations of themselves and the world. Poisonous people do not deserve your time.”

Well, there you have my observations on The 4-Hour Workweek. It is mostly myth, but there are some gems of insight and inspiration that can help you get closer to that goal.

Tim Ferriss does not say you can achieve a 4-hour workweek without working hard at the beginning. Even if you travel on the cheap; you still need money to pay the bills. But, don’t work for the sake of work—learn when enough is enough.

Overall, I thought the book was well worth the money, and I recommend it to anyone looking to improve their work life and their lifestyle.

What do you think? Have you read Tim’s book? Did it change anything in your life?

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