Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The 4-Hour Workweek

The 4-Hour Workweek was fun to listen to during my recent long run. Tim Ferriss provides many valuable insights about lifestyle design and exciting ideas for action. 

Tim challenges his audience: "Resolve now to test the concepts as an exercise in lateral thinking." Fair enough.

I found it interesting that Tim offers "I'm a drug dealer" as an answer to the common question 'So, what do you do?'. It's both provocative and funny. It also happens to be the truth, as he owns a sports supplements web-business.

What I liked about The 4-hour Workweek:
  • Lifestyle design. Designing simpler lifestyles is the bomb. Life design shouldn't be confused with life hacking. Design goes beyond problem solving.
  • Low-information diet: selective ignorance. Actually I've been on this for years. No TV, no news. Just pull the plug and get out.
  • 80/20-rule. The Pareto principle is another favourite of mine.
  • People don't want to be millionaires - they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy. You don't have to wait until you are a millionaire. Start living your dreams today. 
  • Mini-retirement. This a great idea with lower risk than quitting your job.
  • Relative vs. absolute income. I agree it's better to focus on working hours than annual income. 
There were a few concepts that didn't sound quite right for me: 
  • Live Anywhere. I'n not sure that I can buy all that talk about liberation and mobility. "Forever breaking the bonds that confine you to a single location" doesn't sound like me, but maybe I'm too old. If you are young then go see the world, sure. Travelling is not necessarily that much fun. It's true you can live like a king in Thailand, for example. When you've been there and done that, then it's time for something else.
  • New Rich. The audience of this book is probably richer than 90% of the world population in terms of 'luxury lifestyle ingredients' (time, income, mobility). By all means get enough spare time to do what you really want to do. However merely escaping 9-5 does not solve all the problems in the world. I think what we need now most is the new creative and constructive.
  • Outsource life. On a bet, Tim has hired workers abroad to find him dates online. That won't be necessary for most ordinary people. I'd rather generate new ideas or design a simpler lifestyle than hire an assistant. For busy entrepreneurs my advice would be outsource what you suck at.
  • BrainQUICKEN. Maybe this is not for ultramarathon runners like me. Actually I often try to think and communicate slower. I believe it's better to eat best natural food available than synthetic pills. Life is not a race to be hurried through as quickly as possible.
  • Excitement. Yes, excitement is one type of happiness, but I see many dangers lurking here. As novelty wears off, the search for stimulation gets increasingly difficult. Excitement easily leads to boredom. More reliable and balanced forms of happiness include enthusiasm, interest, relief and joy. 
Conclusion: The 4-hour Workweek can be a useful concept, especially if taken as a creative provocation. I wouldn't miss it, but keep in mind that 
  • "It's the dose that makes the poison", and 
  • "Everything popular is wrong", 
as the succesful author himself is fond of reminding us.

I guess that's about it. Wait, there's one more thing: How does Tim Ferriss spend his 164-hour UNworkweek? 

Pen tricks, for example.           

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