Monday, May 21, 2012

"The 4-Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss

I recently finished reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss... good book, solid basic ideas and a seemingly endless number of additional resources. For the purpose of this post, will focus on the basic ideas from the book, but I could see revisiting it to spend more time on the resources (including the four hour week blog) and specifics.

Granted, it could be said that someones life situation not the same as that of Ferriss so they don't have the freedoms he does, but a lot of basic concepts from the book applicable to all. Additionally, a reader wouldn’t have to go all-in to get something out of the book - can pick and choose actions or do things incrementally.

The ideas from the book that most resonated with me are noted below… with them paraphrased and separated into strategies, tactics and things in between (categorization done by myself in a fairly arbitrary manner that could be quibbled with):


1. Life doesn't have to be a slog that you toil at until the promised land of retirement. Excellent parable told in the book of the Mexican fisherman who lives fully, but the investment-type guy wants him to build an empire so he can one day retire and then live fully.
2. Inactivity is not the goal, doing what excites you is. For away motivated people… goal is to not be bored.
3. Aim to be the owner of a business rather than boss or employee.
4. Leaving a job (especially one you don’t like) doesn't have the horrible worst case scenario outcomes one might think. The worst case scenario from most risk taking is usually something still recoverable from.
5. Mini-retirements can be the way to live…. and they’re both possible to do whilst raising kids and usually cheaper to do outside of the US.
6. Let financial investing be driven by things you can control (public stock gains or losses being outside of your control).

Strategies / tactics

1. Being "productive" (especially in relation to work) often means just making yourself busy (and especially, making yourself look busy). Don't do work for work's sake.
2. Should develop an almost maniacal focus on the 80/20 (or higher) rule in determining where to allocate time and resources. Part of this means being willing to miss out of things time spent on the 20% would have brought. This principle also relates to author James Altucher's notion of spending time on things and with people that lift you up or enrich in some way.
3. Retirement planning is like life insurance, worst case scenario planning. It's still good to do, but shouldn't be treated as a goal.
4. The timing to do new (and scary) things is never right; you just have to do it anyways.
5. When setting a goal, set it towards something that would excite you rather than something you see as achievable. It’s often easier to reach an unrealistic goal because you're willing to work harder in pursuit of it.
6. Ask for forgiveness when doing new things, not permission.
7. Emphasize your strengths rather than getting caught up in trying to fix weaknesses.
8. When thinking of a product or service to sell, think critically on what people would buy. Also keep in mind the principle (which I’ve been seeing come up time and time again lately) of the power of niche.
9. Eliminate and automate to live a life more free from clutter… and when you travel, travel light.


1. When it comes to work, avoid as much as possible having meetings.
2. Once your business up and running, you as the owner don't have to be terribly hands on. Empower others to fix problems - any loss in income or profit will e more than made up by your time now being free. Do this by creating systems and structures around availability and responsiveness.
3. Don’t let yourself become a slave to e-mail and voice mail… check both at set intervals.
4. Outsource tasks to someone else (perhaps in a low cost country) when the price you pay is less than the value of your time.
5. Be willing to let the hassle customers leave your business.

Lots of solid material in the book and I'd definitely recommend it.