Review: The 4 Hour Workweek

July 19th, 2008 · No Comments

Hack Through the Hype and Find Some Good Theory

Tim Ferriss' Four Hour Work WeekYou can safely assume that a book with the title ‘The Four Hour Work-Week’ is the product of a hype machine; at least you know you’re not in for a stately discussion full of nuance and trade-offs. While his writing style and all the promotion in and around the book can be off-putting, we think if you approach it with an open mind almost anyone can gain something from the book, even if its not quite as much as Mr. Ferriss intended.

Some of the book’s main points with which we heartily agree:

  • ‘Rich’ is a function of lifestyle, not net worth.
  • Freedom–and the ability (including the financial ability) to do what you want when you want–is more valuable than stockpiles of cash.
  • Strategies to obtain said freedom include:
    • Eliminating wasted time from your day.
    • Analyzing your income on a per-hour basis and outsourcing when you can.
    • Generating passive income.
Getting Past The Hype

To enjoy and find this book useful, you must “translate” it as you read, applying its ideas to your own life instead of getting wrapped up in specific examples. (If you’re the type of person who takes things at face value, you’ll get quickly frustrated with both book and self-promoting author.) So the key to getting past the hype of this book is disregarding those parts that don’t ring true to you, personally. True, there’s no reason to think that a 30-year-old author who launched a hugely successful company at 25 and has lived a fairly unconventional life overall would be able to prescribe the secret to success for the average person. (We find that guys in their early thirties who have no kids and little experience with ‘real jobs’ don’t necessarily know what 44 year old single mothers’ lives are like.) However, if you boil this model down to fundamentals, it has many implementable pieces.

FOR EXAMPLE: We have heard repeated criticism that, “This plan doesn’t work if you have kids.” We think if you take the message from this book to be that you should quit your job and travel constantly, then, no, the ‘plan’ is not feasible for parents. But if you look at the principles behind the ‘travel’ and ‘quit’ messages, i.e. “value freedom” and “identify why you’re really scared of risk”, then maybe his plan is more universally applicable. And as skeptical as many people are about ‘outsourcing’ things, there’s a good chance you ‘outsource’ your lawn work or housekeeping. The concepts are pretty easily translatable.


Re-Engineering Your Thinking…and Testing Out Some New Ideas

To us, this book is about re-engineering your thinking about work, how you make a “living,” and how you allocate your time. We think it should be used as inspiration and not necessarily as a how-to guide. That said, Mr. Ferriss’ efforts to take theory down to practice are not to be ignored when “getting started” on whatever your next venture may be. His highlighted websites and resources are quite useful in practice and his examples can be thought of as high-level templates for your own trial and error efforts. Transversely, sections like the end on ‘how to enjoy being able to do whatever you want’ seem largely superfluous, as do several of Mr. Ferriss’ “comfort challenges.” We didn’t find them useful or necessary to the book’s overall purpose.

Categories: Books · Reviews

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