The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris teaches the readers how to escape 9-5, live Anywhere, and join the New Rich,
It’s a fantastic book of possibilities.
- Bullet Summary
- Full Summary
- Real Life Applications
- You don’t need to be rich to live like a rich
- Working a job you don’t like is a waste of life
- Time and freedom is equally important as money -and you can have them all-
Tim Ferris calls the new generation of people who earn money while enjoying the freedom of no fixed place and time “the New Rich”, abbreviated to NR.
These are the overarching steps to become a New Rich for The 4 Hour Work Week:
- Definition: what do you want? In the 4 hour work week it’s a good life of experience free of grueling work and rigid structures. I’m in!
- Elimination: cut all distractions, material clutter, useless tasks, focus on the 20% producing 80% of results
- Automation: outsource, hire VA, build processes that run without you (read The E-Myth)
- Liberation: now.. You’re free.
Millionaire Without Millions
Do you need to work like a slave to live like a millionaire? Tim Ferris says that the common sense rules of the world are nothing but fragile collections of socially reinforced illusions.
Meaning: no, being a millionaire and living like a millionaire are two different things. You don’t need to slave away at a desk on a grueling, soul crashing 9-5.
Money Isn’t Freedom
Tim Ferris makes a compelling point that lots of money and much ownership is not great, and that sometimes it ends up being enslaving and oppressing.
Money Multipliers: WWW
Money is multiplied in life depending on the quantity of “W” you control in life, such as:
- When you do it
- Where you do it
- With whom you do it
The 10 Commandments
Tim outlines 10 rules that you need to consider and keep in mind;
- Retirement Is Worst-Case Insurance. Working your whole life to enjoy the last years is a fool’s errand
- Interest and Energy Are Cyclical. Alternating work and rest is necessary to work at your full potential
- Less Is Not Laziness. Our culture glorifying sacrifice over productivity is bogus
- The Timing is Never Right. It’s never the right moment for significant changes, and that’s the exact reason why you should do them
- Ask Forgiveness, Not Permission. Don’t give anyone the opportunity to stifle your growth opportunities
- Emphasize Strengths, Skip Weaknesses. Also espoused by StrengthsFinder 2.0
- Things in Excess Become Their Opposite. As in the example of money, as also explained in Taoist philosophy
- Money Alone Is Not the Solution.
- Relative Income > Absolute Income. The per year income is arbitrary and misleading. Time is equally important and it becomes more important once you reach the minimum amount for your goals
- Distress Is Bad.
Tim Ferris uses some techniques from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.
Here’s his recipe to beat fear:
- Define what’s the worst case scenario
- Identify how could fix or improve on that worst case scenario
- Define the benefits
You’ll see most of the times that the worst case scenario is not that bad or you can take steps to either prevent it or fix it.
And the upside potential will still be there.
It’s Crowded in the Middle
99% of people in the world are convinced they cannot achieve great things, so the aim for average. It’s crowded and the level of competition is the fiercest for mediocre spots.
If you’re insecure, don’t worry: that’s what everyone else is. Don’t overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself.
There’s less competition for bigger goals and it will provide with an adrenaline infusion -read The Maigc of Thinking Big-.
Ferris defines “dreamlining” because it puts a timeline on what sounds like unrealistic goals.
The Hedonic Treadmill
The 4 Hour Work Week introduces a slight variation of the hedonic treadmill.
Ferris says that people keep working when they use a financial goal instead of defining what they want and how they will remove themselves from their business.
They will keep repeating themselves “I’ll work till I make X money”, but X is a moving a target and keeps increasing.
Tim Ferris then says how he escaped the US after he was fired to avoid taking a Uzi into a McDonald and becoming a fat man in a BMW (hilarious).
The Busy Myth
Tim Ferris says we live in a world where “busy” is more important than “productive”.
Being busy is a form of laziness: lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. And being overwhelmed is as unproductive as doing nothing and far more unpleasant and unhealthier.
Escape the Office
In an office environment you are expected to work 40 hours minimum no matter if you can produce the same results in 5.
But a 9-5 is not the kind of place where you want to be productive, because the expectation will be to produce 8 times more to fill the 40+hours.
9-5 is arbitrary, a collective social agreement and a dinosaur of old legacies: you you don’t need that.
Pareto & Parkinson
- Focus 80% of your time on the 20% that produces most results (Pareto)
- Shorten the work time to limit your tasks to the important
Don’t be busy: be productive!
Outsourcing & Delegating
The goal is to free your time to focus on better and bigger things, so even when you can do it yourself more cheaply it can still make sense to outsource.
- Automation to inefficient operations magnifies the inefficiency
- Automation applied to efficient operations will magnify the efficiency
And don’t forget:
- Eliminate before you delegate: never delegate something that can be eliminated
- Never delegate something that can be automated
Picking a Market
And here Ferris’ top tips for picking a good market:
Know the Market
Don’t speculate about your target market. Be a member of your target market instead so you know it inside out.
Pick a Niche
Don’t go broad: too much free information, too many competitors. Don’t do dogs and pets lover, do training German Shepard instead.
The author recommends you become the largest, best or first. Be a big fish in a small pond instead of a big fish in a big pond.
Tim Ferris prefers first.
Less competition, more customers with money who will return and complain less. Between 50 and 200, higher customers need to speak to someone.
One Clear Sentence
Your main benefit should be one sentence. And clear.
Tim Ferris uses Apple’s example of “one thousand songs in your pocket”, which later Sinek will also use for his equally great Start with WHY.
Getting Fired is Great
Tim Ferris quit 3 jobs and got fired from all the rest.
He says that it’s a God sent benefit to you. Most people won’t quit, but someone else makes the decision for you so you don’t have to sit in the wrong job for the rest of your life.
I can only quit Tim Ferris here because it’s so eloquently beautiful:
Most people aren’t lucky enough to get fired and they die a slow spiritual death over 30 to 40 years of tolerating the mediocre
God I can’t even start on how much I love that quote!
Effectiveness & Further Tips:
- Don’t finish what you start if it’s not worth it
- Don’t read unless you need it immediately
- Learn to be difficult and assertive
- Don’t worry to offend someone when requesting effective communication: hard feelings pass, foolish behavior sticks
- Check emails only once a day
- Batch things together and address them altogether
Real Life Applications
The 4 Hour Work Week is all about practical applications. Even when Tim Ferris talks about the meaning of life it’s in a way it’s practically-oriented :).
Time Wasted in Details
The 4 Hour Work Week wants to be an how to book, so the details suit the goal.
But in my opinion it gets too much at times when he provides URLs and phone numbers (!) of companies, or talks too long about virtual assistants.
From meaning of life to speed reading to getting cheaper tickets: I had the same feeling as for The 4 Hour Body and Tools of Titans. Such as, a bit too many topics in one book.
But I have to add this: I enjoyed them all.
Travel Tips Sometimes Generic
Tim Ferris says that your destination is as safe as your place and that worries are overplayed. But that’s a wild generalization only valid for virgin first time travelers -and even there, plenty of exceptions-.
False on Favelas
Just a little later Ferris says he avoided favelas because of civilians with machine guns and pedestrians yielding machetes. Where did he get that idea? The movie City of God.
Far from me to say favelas are safe -they’re not- but Ferris isn’t combating generalizations with that.
You can enter favelas in relative safety, they have electricity and running water.
Imprecise Travel Tips
Travel tips tend to be quick and dirty, not adding much value in my opinion. Ferris mentions Taipei mentioned as part of his Chinese recommendation, but only Chinese people believe Taipei is in China :).
Can Be Unethical
I didn’t like much the tips on how to sell your expertise by faking it. Yes, Tim Ferris doesn’t exactly tell you to fake it, but it sounds a lot like that.
Sound Self Aggrandizing
I could be racing motorcycles in Europe, scubadiving on a private island in Panama, resting under a palm tree between kickboxing sessions in Thailand or dancing tango in Buenos Aires.
He’s just telling a story, but it does sound a bit like touting his own horn at times.
Less Applicable Today
As of today (2018) much of the information in The 4 Hour Workweek is oldish.
I live in Berlin and the cheap rent Ferris boasts is double what he mentions, if not triple.
I’m not sure his business ideas area also as relevant, I’ve met plenty of people who did the same as Ferris did in supplement and nutrition stuff.
But there’s certainly is a lot of information that is valid any time, any where.
Poor Pick Up Advice
The advise he gives to ask women for numbers is reminiscence of bad PUA style -Ferris is a friend of Neil Strauss- and not really that effective.
But the goal is just to overcome fear and not really to pick up so it doesn’t matter in that case.
Poor Feedback Technique
Ferris shares quite a few great communication insights, including negotiation techniques. But I was really surprised when he introduce the old “sandwich feedback technique” as some great idea to deliver feedback.
It’s not a good technique. Everyone knows it and everyone’s waiting for the negative part, completely disregarding your compliment (example below).
Autobiographical Description: Hilarious!
The autobiographical description of Tim Ferris is one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s funny, exciting and self deprecating at the right point. Perfect.
Lots of Power Moves
The 4 Hour Work Week has plenty of smart power moves and great social skills tips. For example, how to build authority and avoiding the “founder” title as it screams start up.
Guys, I listed a lot of cons.
But The 4 Hour Work Week is a masterpiece for me. It was both one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time and it deeply vibed with me.
I see quite a bit of myself in Tim Ferris. That guy is me but just a bit brighter, smarter, much more successful, more driven…. And taller too. Albeit that last one is easy :).
Yeah, basically we’re not alike at all, but I see a lot of similarities in the way he thinks and speaks.
He really speaks my mind when he talks about the way of life of the New Rich.