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The 4-Hour Workweek is Full of Hype, But That’s Not the Point

The 4-Hour Workweek is Full of Hype, But That’s Not the Point

Plenty of people have jumped on the bandwagon to bash Tim Ferriss’ bestselling book, The 4-Hour Workweek.

Jonathan Mead called the promise of a 4-hour work week a lie. Penelope Trunk said the week Tim Ferriss actually works a 4-hour work week will be a cold week in hell.

They’re both right, but that isn’t the point.

Ferriss is a sensational marketer. By sensational, I mean both that he’s really good at marketing, and that he gets results by exaggerating. Just look at the title of the book. He originally wanted to call it “Drug Dealing for Fun and Profit.” Through a clever use of Google AdWords, he tested potential book titles and came up with the equally sensational and supremely effective title we know so well today.

If you read the book and thought the concept of a 4-hour work week was your salvation, you fell for Ferriss’ hype.

Even he didn’t get to live his life of luxury by creating an income out of thin air and working only one-half of one day per week. He slaved for years creating his first successful business. To propel his book atop the NY Times’ Bestseller list, he probably worked harder than 99% of authors that year. He likes work, but doesn’t consider what he does work exactly.

Cutting work almost entirely out of your life isn’t realistic or even desirable.

Ferriss’ definition of work is very specific. To him, it is that which we don’t want to do, but have to suffer through to earn income. If that’s what we agree to call work, then it should be minimized. Does anyone really want to spend half of their waking hours doing something they don’t want to?

The real gift of The 4-Hour Workweek is that it has led hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people to reexamine what they want from life and what is possible. The most important thing to take away from the book is the idea of lifestyle design.

The boundaries of life that you currently accept are probably arbitrary and self-imposed. Some people are able to live exciting, rule-breaking lives simply because they don’t accept society’s definition of what is possible or acceptable.

Most middle-class people today who feel trapped by their job and situation have created that prison for themselves. Competitive consumerism combined with a sense of entitlement leaves people mired in debt with no motivation to take control and change things for themselves.

The myth that you can earn enough income to live on in just 4 hours a week feeds that self-defeating sense of entitlement and people’s cancerous search to “get rich quick.” But, if Ferriss hadn’t written about it in his book it wouldn’t have sold nearly as well and we may not be having this conversation about lifestyle design.

Luckily, there is an amazing community of people who are building on the concept of lifestyle design in ways that you can really use. Just a few great writers that you should check out (if you haven’t already) are Chris Guillebeau, Lea Woodward, Cody McKibben, John Bardos, Carl Nelson and Sean Ogle.

Take Ferriss’ attitude that anything is possible and combine it with his incredible “non-work” ethic, and you could really live the lifestyle of your dreams. The first step is to realize it will take work effort to get there.

photo by sandstep

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  • http://www.the9to5alternative.com Alan

    This book is one of the first pebbles thrown into the pond of lifestyle design. The ripples are still expanding. The Tim Ferriss philosophy isn’t for everyone, and a lot of reader’s (like you mention) still don’t understand all the back-end, undocumented work that goes into his decisions. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from following Tim, it’s that being OCD can be OK :)

    Great review!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      I like your pond analogy. To me, lifestyle design is a much needed refresh for the stale and fuzzy topic of personal development. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

  • http://jdbentley.com jdbentley

    I never bought into The 4-Hour Work Week hype. I never understood it to mean that the end result would be a 4-hour work week and the people who do think that already don’t “get it”. For me it was a really inspiring book that did a couple important things.

    First it made me finally adopt a more sophisticated method of handling marketing and business. I never studied business, not even a single class in high school, so when I got to see the inner workings of a successful entrepreneur, it really changed my perspective on how I had to run my business. The 4-Hour Work Week was the first in a long line of business books for me.

    Second, and most importantly, The 4-Hour Work Week let me know I wasn’t alone. I never felt like a “deferred-life” plan was natural or worthwhile, but if you ever say that to people they think you are crazy or rebelling for the sake of rebellion. They think everyone is meant to just “take it” until they retire. I just wasn’t like that. People couldn’t understand why I hated all the jobs I had so badly. If it wasn’t for Tim Ferriss, I might have given up on this experiment long ago, so I’m thankful for the book primarily for being such an inspiration and for letting me know that what I’m aiming for is possible.

    Great post, Corbett!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Hi JD. There were definitely some great pieces of advice in the book about using objective measurement (like his creative use of AdWords) to make business decisions. It seems to have worked for Tim.

      I’m with you about how the 4HWW book let you know you weren’t alone. I feel the same way. I’ve always had a bit of a short-attention-span problem when it comes to projects. I now feel like it’s better to put my varied interests to work for me instead of trying to fit in to typical work patterns.

  • http://www.jetsetcitizen.com John Bardos

    Thanks for the mention Corbett!

    Another insightful post as usual.

    I wrote a comment on Tim Ferriss’ blog recently on how much I want to hate him. He is a master of spin and has the ego to match. That is hard for some people to swallow, including me. However, he also has the cohones to back it up. He is a genuinely intelligent, articulate and hard working person.

    Of course, the four hour part is a complete lie. I would doubt if Ferriss ever worked less then 60 hours a week. You don’t write 2000 word blog posts, invest in several start ups, write your second book, do dozens of of public appearances, test huge amounts of applications and tools, learn several foreign languages, study martial arts, etc. in 4 hours a week. Tim is the quintessential work-a-holic.

    I also agree that Tim Ferriss has done a great service to the world in bringing these ideas to mainstream consciousness. Lifestyle design is not new and the message he brings is not particularly realistic, but I think he will be remembered in history as the signal for the changing nature of work.

    For that I bow my head to Tim Ferriss.

    • DeyIrfan

      ” You don’t write 2000 word blog posts, invest in several start ups, write your second book, do dozens of of public appearances, test huge amounts of applications and tools, learn several foreign languages, study martial arts, etc. in 4 hours a week. Tim is the quintessential work-a-holic. ”

      Honestly I don’t see any of those things as “work”, aren’t they just self-expressions? The guy happens to love physical work and languages so he works his but off to enjoy them.

      I don’t think he does all of those to impress us, or to get more publication for his book. And his second book will be about physique imporvement too, something that he already loves.

      I think he meant ” work” as in that repetitive office job that we all love to hate. But I bet if you love what you do, you would want to spend more than 4 hours per week on it right?

      • http://jetsetcitizen.com/ John Bardos – JetSetCitizen

        Hi Deyirfan,

        Thanks for the reply.

        I believe there is a myth that anything you do outside of a “repetitive office job” is 100% fun and exciting. Even rock stars write songs about how repetitive and tiring a life on the road is. People see the glamorous part of celebrity life and assume it is like that every minute of every day. I have been self-employed for most of my adult life and it certainly is preferable to a “repetitive office job” however it still is work. It is work to learn languages, it is work to exercise, it is work to practice a musical instrument. If I had a choice I would certainly take the rewards and skip the work to gain mastery over any goal.

        Consider if you love chocolate. Imagine you really, really have a passion for fine chocolate. Enjoying one or two pieces a day is fantastic, but it would be damn hard WORK to eat chocolate at every meal every day. Even pleasurable activities are not always 100% pleasurable. That makes it work.

        • http://www.thelifestyledesignblog.com TK

          I think Tim’s definition for work are activities that make a living. In terms of language learning, martial arts etc etc. – yes they require hard work and practice, but neither are they necessarily for profit nor cause displeasure. Practice can be very pleasurable, “zen” experience for many. I get the sense that he seeks these activities for fun, adventure and for the challenge- intrinsic rewards that can’t be measured with dollar value.

          Does Tim ever work 4 Hours/week? I highly doubt it. Does his life sound fun and fulfilling? Hell yes.

  • http://www.seanogle.com Sean

    Corbett,

    Thanks for the mention! I feel pretty lucky to be mentioned with so many other fantastic writers.

    For me The Four Hour Work Week was much more about inspiration than practical application. Sure there are a few concepts you can implement in your life that can whittle down your work week, but it was more about showing you what can actually be done in terms of lifestyle design.

    If you are willing to “work” hard you can create any kind of living you want for yourself. I think this was a new concept for many people that have been stuck in the idea that you have to have a 9-5 job and retire when you are 60. Tim changed the rules to the game, but its up to you to decide your strategy.

    Sean

  • http://mindthebeginner.wordpress.com Christiaanh

    Right from he get go it actually was clear that doing all those things (John gives a nice list) can’t be done in 4 hours a week. It’s more like Tim is constantly playing, a huge kid with more money than he can burn because he’s good at a few things, really good even…

    Let’s not forget, he’s only human, and if he can do it, so can you. He’s even kind enough to give us the rough plan as to how to get there. Taking great care not to talk about the true hourly investment as that would certainly shatter the dream for most.

    Is the “4 hour workweek” dream for you? I wouldn’t know, all I know is that I really would like to earn my income through an online venture, freeing up time and getting rid of location dependence.

    We could all start loathing Tim for this, but what’s the use. He won’t mind, and we’ll waste valuable energy doing something that’s not going to be productive in the least.

    Thanks Tim for being a real example of what can be done with marketing and Internet.
    Thanks Corbett for a great post and the linkback
    Thanks Christiaan, for reading that book, it’s what got you into lifestyle design in the first place which got you blogging and meeting all these great people.

    *grin*

  • http://www.thewaythatyouwander.com Nate

    I am about to start reading this book so I really enjoyed this post. I’m looking forward to seeing what I get out of it.

  • http://exilelifestyle.com Colin Wright

    So very true. Reading the 4-Hour Workweek was one of the catalysts that led me to my decision to leave the US and shake things up a bit with my lifestyle, but it is definitely more of a concept than a reality (what philosopher’s might call a Platonic Form…a perfection that could never really exist, but is the model for all of the shadows of perfection that can).

    In any case, having a sort of rallying cry on the bestseller list for lifestyle design can only be good and will hopefully inspire lots and lots of people to play a more active role in their life in order to achieve whatever it is they want.

    Great post!

  • http://feedingblackmail.blogspot.com Marcie

    Nice post Corbett :)

    It blows my mind that people read the book and still complain about it, they totally missed the point! I like the way this WSJ writer summed it up: “One thing that’s important to note about Tim is that he’s not really advocating working only four hours a week. He’s just saying that you should try to prevent work for work’s sake and forego the many unimportant tasks in favor of the fewer tasks that are truly critical.” From http://digg.com/u17f8T

    It all in the definition of *work*.

    Anyway, thanks for bringing up that Penelope Trunk post, my lunch is now effectively ruined :P

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      That’s a great quote from Alexandra Levit in the WSJ Career Journal. Thanks for sharing. I’m sorry for ruining your lunch ;)

  • http://www.danmaggs.com/ Dan Maggs

    Nice review. I hope this comment doesn’t turn into an essay like they normally do!

    All in all, I think the book is very well written and it has definitely been a source of inspiration to me over the last year or so. I have to agree with you on the point ‘The most important thing to take away from the book is the idea of lifestyle design’. I certainly think that a lot of us have a lot to thank Tim for opening our eyes to the world of lifestyle design. Yeah his marketing tactics were sensationalist, fair play to him, you’re always going to make a lot of enemies doing that kind of stuff, but I’m very glad he did and that I ended up reading the book.

    I read that article by Penelope Trunk and I can’t help think that she misses the point with a lot of it! I love how critics always jump on the ‘Chinese National Kickboxing Championships’ thing to discredit Tim. Yeah, it is very below the belt in terms of sportsmanship, but once again, that totally isn’t the point of the story.

    I got the book via a recommendation from Amazon and yes … I found the title a very compelling reason to buy … but then it doesn’t take a lot for me to buy a book, just ask my bookshelf! I’m a sucker for the sensationalistic.

    At that point in my life I’d been looking into automated businesses / eBusinesses for a while and I’d already launched an eBook. Unfortunately it failed. The book struck a chord with me because it took many of the ideas that I’d been thinking about and put them all neatly in one well thought out book, and then added a whole load more to it, and pointed me nicely to a some other great books like ‘The eMyth revisited’ – well worth a read.

    As a business book it has taught me a lot, Tim is clearly a very talented business man however after having read the book (more than just a few times), I feel that it loses a little credibility as the business / muse that he suggests you build is clearly very different from his own business. I would like to have seen a few more real world examples of muses working rather than what appear to be hypothetical examples.

    I particularly like the ideas about dreamlining, setting time frames on goals and costing everything out. It really brought home to me that I don’t need to be a millionaire to live a rock star lifestyle. I downloaded the dreamline worksheet and filled it all in following the guidance to not hold back with your wants – if you want a Ferrari put it down. I did want a Ferrari, so I did. (I’ve now decided that I don’t really care about getting a Ferrari at all, so have substitute a yacht in there instead). I was totally shocked when the figure came back – far far far less than I ever thought.

    As a final point – ‘Cutting work almost entirely out of your life isn’t realistic or even desirable’. I’m not sure about that one. I definitely don’t want to spend all my time on income generation working doing something I don’t want to do.

    The 4hww isn’t about being lazy, it about having the time and location freedom to do work if you want to do it, and on your own terms. I don’t really know what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I know what I DON’T want to do with the rest of my life, and Tim’s book has given me a great deal of clarity with regards to that. I highly recommend the book – and excellent read.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Feel free to write an essay here anytime, Dan. I like your insights! My point about cutting “work” out of your life not being desirable is definitely debatable. It probably depends on your definition of work. Personally, I get bored and feel like I’m wasting time if I’m not focused on building or improving something, or working on a project. That doesn’t mean I have to be “working” to earn an income though. I could also be happy volunteering, advising startups, learning new skills/languages, etc.

  • http://www.sethhosko.com Seth Hosko

    Great post Corbett.

    I have to say, Tim Ferris is not my favorite marketer in the world. He is incredibly smart, a master of spin, and he’s used that to get himself pretty far. It’s easy not to like him, and I’ve been disappointed with recent interviews that I’ve seen with him.

    That being said, if you can get beyond that and really look into the valuable parts of the book that you can apply, that’s whats worth taking away.

    Technically, if you want to start an internet business and work 4ish hours a week on it while traveling the world, you can do it. I know many people who have. Nothing new. If you want to do that, Tim gave a great blueprint.

    For the rest of us who find value in the work we do as a passion and not just work for work’s sake, Tim’s model doesn’t work for us, but his time managment ideas do. VA’s, personal outsourcing, time/email management, selective ignorance, are just some of the few valuable pieces I’ve used to transform HOW I do my work, not get rid of my work. It’s about freeing up time to do what’s valuable. Lifestyle design has always existed. Tim just highlights tools and practices to design that lifestyle a bit more effectively. Use them in whatever way you wish.

    People will say Tim is full of hype, spin, and a waste of time. The title of the book is rediculous and smells of snake oil. I get it. But, Tim sells nothing that isn’t actually doable, even if he doesn’t do it himself (I don’t blame him either, choosing to engage in work that you love is also the purpose of the book). The work that Tim describes as ‘work’, trust me, he does for less than 4 hours a week if at all. It comes down to the semantics of work and you need to understand what is what. Certainly Tim isn’t the only source of practice you should read, and certainly read what Pentalope and others have to say. The spin and hype is for the masses (read about how he came up with the title.. like it or not its smart).. dig down a bit deeper and take what works for you.

  • http://www.pawelotti.com Pawelotti

    But Corbett, isn’t true that Tim Ferriss kind of coined the term “lifestyle design” and that he made it big? In fact, when I saw Free pursuits for the first time and saw “design your own life” – I immediately thought it was based of Ferriss whole. And in the book he does talk about all kinds of different ways to live, and admits even employees can benefit from this. You can hardly blame him for choosing a catchy title.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      It sounds like you’re agreeing with the article? Yes, Ferriss claims to have coined “lifestyle design” as a term. I talk about lifestyle design quite a bit in this blog, and I think the topic has grown beyond what Ferriss outlined in the book. I don’t agree with his views necessarily (even he doesn’t always practice what he preaches), but thanks to him for starting the movement. I also don’t blame him one bit for choosing a catchy title, as you suggest. In fact, I praised his title in this article, because without it we may not have had this conversation.

      • http://crystalsilver.com Crystal Silver

        Originally, I thought Tim coined the term as well. But a couple weeks ago in an email conversation, a friend of mine mentioned that he thought the phrase “lifestyle design” sounded too 80s, and he advised me to change it to something else.

        Of course, I assured him that while there may have been a similarly named movement in the 80s, I was referring to the 21st century version of the phrase. I asked him if he’d ever read Tim’s work, and he said he had never heard of him.

        I explained the whole lifestyle design thing to my friend, who is much older than I am, and then he understood better what I was trying to say. Apparently, lifestyle design is not an altogether new concept, but it is possible to take it in a much different direction now as a result of technology.

        For the record, I still haven’t figured out exactly what my friend was talking about. He didn’t really get into much detail about why he thought it sounded like an 80s thing.

  • http://presentdaynomads.com Rasheed Hooda

    Wow!

    Great article as usual, and love all the comments as well. As a matter of fact, 4hww was the first book I read after I left my last job two years ago, and I was so encouraged that I made the right decision. That, my dream of living life on my own terms was a doable one, and the key was not to break the rules, but rather learn the rules and use them to your advantage. That was the biggest take away for me in that book.

    I have come a long way in last tow years in terms of doing things on my terms, though I am still some ways away from living my life on my terms, I am getting there, slow and steady, becoming more effective as I go.

    Thanks for the great post and thanks everyone for the participation and comments.

    Rasheed

  • http://www.davidturnbull.com David Turnbull

    You’ve summed up my opinion well. I think most of the 4HWW bashers are those who read the book and feel threatened because they know their lifestyle is not what they’ve planned, and it’s easier to just complain than it is to make positive changes.

    • http://pinoysmartlife.com/ Teejay

      I think most didn’t even read the book and judged the book by the title.

  • http://www.markdixonartist.com/ Mark Dixon

    The take-home lesson is one cogent thought about halfway down. The boundaries we accept are often arbitrary or self-imposed (or, I would add, drawn up by the suits in Mahogany Row who profit from the rank-and-file working 60+ hour weeks in Dilbertesque cubicles.) Question the rules! By now we should realize that busting our butts for Initech does not lead to freedom.

  • http://thisruggedlife.com Martin

    Just to add my voice to chorus above, I agree 100%. When I first read “4HWW,” I immediately began to look into online ideas and ventures to live that lifestyle. I gradually have come to realize that avoiding “work” is less important than defining what I enjoy, and designing my life so that I spend the most time as possible on those activities. Thanks for the review.

    Martin

  • http://www.dutyfreeliving.vom tresnap

    Very interesting to read the views of everyone in relation to 4HWW. Sure, there’s a health dose of hype and clever marketing, but I don’t know anyone who has read it who hasn’t gained at least a small amount of inspiration. When I read 4Hww about nine months ago I was already on the path to creating my ideal lifestyle and was battling with how to explain what I was trying to achieve. The book got me thinking about different aspects of Lifestyle Design and made me realise that it was perfectly rational to question the necessity for “work”.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      It’s nice to have a term for what you’re working on, isn’t it? I’m so pleased that the book has brought together a bunch of great people who are working towards related goals.

  • http://www.refocusingtechnology.com/ Jeremy

    Corbett,

    I found a quote a couple of weeks ago that I felt really struck at the heart of what you’re blog is about and I thought I would share it with you:

    ~~ “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~~

    Very powerful statement.

    Jeremy @ RefocusingTechnology.com

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      I love it! Thanks for sharing that one. I hadn’t read it before (or at least don’t remember it).

  • http://www.sailtotrail.com Andrew MacPherson

    I’d recently moved back to the U.S. after semi-retiring and doing some of the things Tim talks about just before the book came out. As soon as I read it, I thought exactly two things.

    1. I wish I’d written that.
    2. I wish I’d read it sooner.

    It’s probably a good thing that there are so many naysayers out there. We all need someone to outsource our menial tasks to. :)

  • http://www.mineyourresources.com Cath

    I agree it’s all in your definition of work. Tim works like a demon and just calls most of what he does “play.” As a “work-a-holic” (“play-a-holic”?) myself, my opinion is that work/life balance is for people who don’t enjoy their work. If you hate your work, then you should definitely balance it with stuff you enjoy. But if you enjoy your work, who needs balance?

    Great post, Corbett – I think this is a message a lot of people miss in the 4HWW. It does show how powerful titles are though!

    Cath

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      I agree that work-life balance is less important when you love your work, but it can’t be ignored altogether. For me at least, I tend to get obsessed with work that I enjoy to the point of being detrimental to my life as a whole (health, relationships, etc.). I’m a big fan of being well-rounded as a better driver of fulfillment.

  • http://www.soultravelers3.com soultravelers3

    I love Tim for the same reason I love Rolf Potts book Vagabonding..they inspire people and make them think outside of the box! I am thrilled that we are featured as a case study in the new edition of The Four Hour Work Week that will be out soon.

    Yes one CAN work a 4 Hour Work Week and travel the world enjoying themselves as a family while giving their child the best possible education. How do I know that? Because we have been doing exactly that since 2006! One can live, work, school any where today and we have loved traveling to 4 continents, 29 countries so far on our open ended world tour, living large on 25K a year total for a family of three while building our next egg as we roam.

    70% of families dream of extended world travel and I want them to know that it is cheaper, easier and more rewarding than most realize! It does not have to be limited to singles or couples in their 20′s or 30′s.

    Dreams, ideals and freedom is what Tim sells and encouraging people to think differently. I don’t agree with all his points, but love how he has shifted so many.

    There has been a HUGE increase of extended travelers/digital nomads/lifestyle design /Location independent types in the last year. The 4 Hour Work Week had a big impact on that ( as has the economy).

    Work and school are changing as the whole planet is shifting in a big way,( not unlike the start of the industrial age), just look to Clay Shirky , Maya Frost ( on education) and others who point the way. As Apple says, “think differently” as surely the old ways are no longer working.

    People bash Tim for the same reason they bash Guy Kawasaki, partly for jealousy and partly just to bring themselves more attention. I think they are both showmen with big hearts that are doing great things for lots of people.

    I think the originators of the “lifestyle design” idea of greater freedom in life was from my friends, the Terhorts who retired over 25 years ago at 35 years old and coined the term “permanent traveler” with their best seller “Cashing in on the American Dream”.

    Today it is easier than ever to work less and enjoy more!

    • australia

      you’re the one with the tortured kid playing the violin

  • http://www.brandonpearce.com Brandon Pearce

    I first listened to Tim’s book on audio from the library, and although some of his attitudes and language kind of offended me, it was an immensely life changing book – so much so that I went out and bought the hardcover, and have read it several times since.

    Because I had already created a business that provides enough income for my family, the most helpful parts of the book for me were Tim’s teachings on productivity, elimination, and the end chapters on what to do after you’ve reached the “goal” of the abundance of money and time we’re all after. This is what helped inspire me to automate more of my business, and enlist the help of some great teams, which has freed up more of my time, and really changed my life.

    My family of four (including two little girls) took our first extended overseas trip (although only six weeks) at the beginning of this year to Panama, and it had an amazing effect on our family, brought us so much closer, and opened our eyes to a lot of things we’d been missing.

    Also, I disagree that the idea of a 4-hour work week is impossible. I have had weeks where I’ve only spent 4 hours on work-producing income. Normally, though, I spend about 8-15 hours/week running my business. I owe a lot of my success to the principles that Tim discusses in his book.

    I wrote a blog post about how I spend my time (both work and non-work) if anyone’s interested.
    http://brandonpearce.com/2009/04/how-i-spend-my-time/

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Hi Brandon. Thanks for sharing your perspective. It’s interesting to hear from someone who had already created a successful business. Your situation was much more like Ferriss’s to begin with. The majority of people reading his book are probably coming from cubicle world or otherwise starting essentially from scratch.

      I’m a second-time-around-entrepreneur, and the 4HWW definitely changed the world for me. I won’t be jumping into just another typical startup structure this time around. Instead, I’m focused on building something that affords me more control, location independence and the flexibility to live as I really want to. It may take me more than 4 hours per week, but I’m OK with that. If you can accomplish what you want to in just 4 hours each week, congrats. Thanks for sharing the examples in your blog post.

  • http://thelifedesignproject.com Robert

    Corbett, great post and interesting critique. I think it’s important to bring to light that Tim Ferriss had a lot of exaggerated points but at the same time brought to light some extremely powerful shifts in thinking. Like the first poster said, a stone in the pond of life design that’s created some interesting ripples. The players are still coming to light.

    Tim’s book catalyzed something for me. I’ve always had an unrest with a 9-5 but the 4HWW pushed things into action, even if the advice was sometimes a little misguided. The only thing I see now looking back on the book I would include for those who haven’t read it is that Tim went through a lot of hard work to create the 4HWW. It’s not something that can be found overnight. I think he indirectly gets at that, but agreeing with your post a lot of readers could read his book and get hyped into a “get rich quick” mind set…which is not what lifestyle design is about.

    At least thats what I’m learning daily as I test all this stuff out in a real life, no experience nitty gritty way. I won’t rest until passive income, and a new freedom of life is mine! There is a growing best path, mindset and tools to have and I’m finding them through experiments and conversation. I invite all the would be and currently are life designers for a small chat. I won’t let you down!

  • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

    Hi Robert. I like your passion! Congrats on launching your new project. I’m curious to see where it goes. I’m glad that you’re not looking at the 4-hour part of Ferriss’s book as being literal necessarily. Anything is certainly possible, but adopting a “get rich quick” mindset is less likely to lead to success. Please let us know how your project turns out. Best of luck!

  • http://www.4workingdays.com/ Thomas

    Hello guys,

    I am doing some research about this topic and I created a website which collects signatures for this idea.
    So if you agree to have 4 working days per week please come and sign it at http://www.4workingdays.com

    Thanks a lot,

    Thomas

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  • http://committedexpertise.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/the-4-hour-workweek/ Malick

    Hi all,

    For all along my life – 28 years industry experience – I am living a life opposite to what is written in the book!

    I am thinking about this deeply.

    Thanks,
    Malick Md PMP

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  • http://explorativeapproach.com/ Shane

    I had a very similar impression of the book as well. The name is very catchy, but I don’t think that it’s ultimately about the amount of hours you spend working. Even by Tim’s definition of the word, I still work more than four hours a week (though nowhere near eight hours a day, thank god), but the book really helped me gain a new perspective on the whole work/life thing.

  • http://www.8020time.blogspot.com jacqjolie

    For a far better read than 4HWW, I would suggest reading the book that (it seems to me) that it was patterned after – “The 80/20 Principle” by Richard Koch. I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    The one area where I really value Koch over Ferriss is in business – I get the feeling that Tim made most of his money from his book – where Koch made his from starting and investing in businesses and doing business consulting.

    Also, Koch has been following Pareto’s Principle for over 20 years, he just doesn’t work as hard as Ferriss so he’s more low profile.

  • ernie priestman

    My son sent me a copy of the 4-hour work week while on business in the U.S. recently. He is 30 and up for anything and I am 50 something! and done everything (well not quite true). BUT I have been round the block a few times. As a living “INTELLIGENT DINOSAUR” I laughed with (not at)T.F.through out this great read.Some of it I have done, some of it IWILL DO in the future-maybe time permitting. The last chapter stopped the laughter. It was at this point I REALIZED this man has true SOUL.The laughter turned to sadness when he tells the story of a terminally ill girl. Take this man serious when he tells you to reread this letter. If you still donot get it START AT THE FIRST PAGE AGAIN. Thankyou T.F. we never stop learning .

  • Gary

    Thought this might be the most appropriate article to comment on, as I found this blog after a Google search for “lifestyle design”. I only just picked up 4HWW days ago, and T.F. is really stimulating my thinking on just how inefficient my working life is at present. I’m having an existential crisis as I determine exactly what I want to be doing with my life; right now I feel I’m just marking time doing things I don’t really enjoy. Loving that there are people really exploring this area!

  • http://www.KristensRaw.blogspot.com Kristen’s Raw

    I really enjoyed that book; found it quite fun to read. It was a motivating eye-opener about a lifestyle that I wanted to tap into. His examples are “out there” but many people have used the book for inspiration and it lit a little fire under their asses to make some changes (mine included). Also, like Gary, above, I realized some inefficiencies in my life and was able to make some improvements.

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  • http://unstoppablefamily.com/ Rhonda Swan

    We Love 4 hour work week. Book actually Inspired us to take a 3 year trip around the world with our portable business. We are Currently on month 18. Come Follow Journey WE ARE LIVING THE 4 HOUR WORK WEEK.

    Rhonda Swan
    Unstoppable Family

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett

      Awesome, Rhonda! Congrats on your journey. What is your portable business in? Would love to hear more details.

      • http://www.UnstoppableFamily.info Rhonda Swan

        Hi Corbett,

        Not sure how I missed your reply.

        We run a Personal Development company with LifePath Unlimited. If we have an internet connection and SKYPE we are good to go.!

  • Eli Johnson

    Good review and thanks for your comments.

    I read 4HWW and it gave me some great ideas. I quit my job and started a business conducting the same training I did for the Feds. Now I only work 40 hours per month making three times my former gross salary. (And no, I was not a GS-7!) And I’m not even on the GSA Schedule yet!

    I decided to contract with Virtual Assistants (Vas) for the first time in my life and they were a huge help in getting the business started. I now use them mostly for billing and scheduling and, of course, helping me plan my quarterly excursions to who knows where. (Go to the friggin’ Galapagos Islands. You will enjoy it immensely!)

    What I do is what I would consider “work” in the traditional sense. I don’t “love” what I do, because I reserve love for people and pets. (Maybe that’s the reason I don’t get freaked out by jobs and other nonsense.) I LIKE what I do and feel I am providing a valuable service to Federal employees.

    The mini-retirements were definitely something I could relate to as a financial planner who encourages people to take a broader and non-traditional view of planning for retirement. I have worked with so many people who wait until the end to start living their lives. It is just sad. They serve as motivation to keep doing what I am doing.

    Overall, I just liked the spirit of the book. A little unconventional, a lot witty, and just a fun read. I was on the fence and jumped. Best decision I ever made!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett

      Awesome story and endorsement for the book! Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad as a financial planner that you agree with the whole mini-retirements thing.

  • http://adambeckett.com adam beckett

    Corbett, this post encouraged me to subscribe to your updates, which is a rarity for me these days.

    Love the Blog, very clean (mine’s a hobby, you can tell…)

    The 4hww helped push me right back out of office after six months of commuting Hell.

    So Tim’s book made for inspirational reading, yes I was a little ‘uncertain’ as to his actual working hours…

    Fifteen months from today I can generate about two and a half times what my Girlfriend and I are quite happy to live on – however at that point it would have taken me a total of four years.

    This is all fine except that my income will deplete at 10% per year due to churn, so I guess I’m looking to at least top that up income Online, plus head off in some new directions, hope you can help with that process.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett

      Congrats on breaking out of commuting hell. I’ve been there and never plan to go back.

      Thanks for signing up for updates. Don’t be shy if you have specific questions. Good luck with your goals. It seems reasonable, but I don’t know all the details of course.

  • http://onestep4ward.com johnny

    Great critique mate.

    The 4hww was undoubtedly a real eye opener for lots of people and that’s great of course. I really enjoyed reading it and it has helped me understand the possibilities available, since graduating (and using the 4HWW as inspiration) i have lived in 5 countries, backpacked through 50 more and worked less than 6 months all at 26 years old, long it may continue!!

    Whoever invented this lifestyle design malarky really had it right :P

  • paula

    The problem with the book, is some of the people reading it, Elance and Odesk is full of the people who read this book. Now are looking for someone who will, create their business, web site, run it and be at their beck and call for a $1.00 per hour. The problem is that not everyone lives in India and even tought I rather not work for any of those who believe they can sit out in the sun while other slave for them, their idea of $1.00 per hour wages has infected other employers. Now I either have to compete or get out, because some idiot outthere actually believes he can become rich working 4 hours a week, while the rest of the week he can pay someone $1.00 per hour to do his job.

  • Ernie

    Quick mention, probably being captain obvious here. The book never said that you didn’t have to put any effort into living your dreams. I think you were absolutely right by stating that there is a big difference between “working” and doing what you love.

  • Jason

    The key is to find what you love, and not just chase money.

    Everything in life worth having is going to take work. But it doesn’t need to be an excruciating experience.

    The book opened my mind to the idea that there are pros and cons to a typical corporate job.

    Don’t buy into the hype, as everyone has said. But do open up your mind to new ways of solving problems, finding happiness, and never settling.

    That’s what this book represents for me. Have a great day everybody!

    • Corbett

      Great summary, Jason. That’s what I got out of it as well. And you’re absolutely right, don’t chase money. Do something worthwhile and be conscious of money, but not motivated only by it.

  • http://www.shampooprank.com Kayvee

    I was shocked to read a recent poll that said 40% of the people likes their job. I was shocked that the figure was that high. I have never had a job I enjoyed.

    Like you said, Tim’s book opened peoples eyes to what is possible…

  • http://sapait.com Paul Tran

    AMEN!

  • http://N/A Joe AKA Grouse

    Hey guys,

    I bought this book ( actually I think my wife kindly bought this book, in true Tim Ferris style, i didn’t spend a dime and my wife kindly did this for me..look no effort or expense!!) and subsequently I got through a chapter or two and then the book got into the precise formulas required to go it alone for awhile..scuse me guys while I too go calculate some algorithms for my shorter work week. This is the point where I got totally peed off ..why would a guy who has made it care to spend alotta of effort in doing a lot of math for me to set me free..I felt taken. I pitched the book into the recycling box which got set out in the next day’s garbage and it disappeared..that was about 6 months ago.
    For some reason I kept the cover off the book and one day I noticed the four hour workweek book was on sale in iTune’s audiobooks , full 8 hour version for $1.95. I bought it and listened to it. It was worth listening to. lots of great web reference material ..i’ll have to agree Tim is good at marketing. I feel better now that I spent almost nothing on this book and even though it took me more than 4 hours to listen to it, i did it all while listening to it on my daily 3 hour return commutes to work.

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  • Mike

    The thing I personally got from the book was that there are a few things that can be done to help alleviate the problems of some of the entrepreneurs via taking hard looks at what is truly necessary for running a business and also for doing a little outsourcing. I admit at first, the 4 hour work week sounded cool until I started doing the research and discovered it’s impossible. But I think it’s good for covering some of the basics like making entrepreneurs set 2 to 3 goals for their businesses and then proceeding to figure out which things are producing the most results and trying to maximize those results.

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  • Adrian Hedley

    I’ve read the 4 hour work week and have listened to the audio version of the book countless times in my car.

    hype or no hype, it is an extremely well written book with case studies great story telling, inspiring quotes and very useful resources and of course the life style design concept. If I were to write a book one day i would reverse engineer his writing style and adapt it to my topic. I also follow tim ferris on his blog and on other sites like zurb to get insight from the man, whom i think is extremely smart.

    On caveat of the 4 hww is that it makes building a business too easy particularly to test market demand and sell online, but i do not think it is hype at all. Many of the case studies and examples date back to 2003, a time where PPC advertising was in it infancy and you could literally get targeted visitors to your site for 10 – 20 cents per click.

    I my self could get visitors to my site at 5-7 cents per click back till around 2002, but those days are long gone and more effective and cheaper strategies need to be found to generate traffic. Before the 4 hww was written I was very close to achieving the lifestyle design goals described in the book. i was selling an ebook between 1997 and 2002 and at some point i was earning more than my full time income. unfortunately that started to change at the end of 2002, particularly due to the increased costs of ppc and competition. i made many stupid mistakes my self life not diversifying my product line and investing in additional traffic sources.

    Put simply you cannot apply strategies that worked 9 years ago and expect huge results, also the cost would be prohibitive, especially if you are bootstrapping.

    One thing that completely fascinated me with the 4 hww is that you could test demand by building a web site promoting an existent product and even get feed back from ‘customers’ in the mean time. The book did not quench my appetite, tried to promote a 2 ‘products’ and failed and researched the topic further until I stumbled into 2 great books called the lean startup by eric ries and running lean by Ash Maurya which delve more in the topic, especially in the software development area, which is my domain.

    Just bought the blogging course “building a blog that matters” and my first impression is that it has great material and a good action plan. I want to apply the material to start a high traffic blog and promote 2 products that i have in the pipeline.

    Reading the 4 hww was a great introduction to entrepreneurship, however it was just the tip of the iceberg which led me to read more great books on the topic, however keep in mind that reading books is no substitute for action. only action and goal setting will get you where you want to go.

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  • http://www.dylanvarian.com/blog Dylan

    Nice post. I recently wrote about how I only work for four hours a week, just like the famous book, and still manage a good business. You can actually read about it here if you’re interested – http://bit.ly/11bbtgM

  • http://www.cafepress.com/coolworldgifts Jon Baran

    Forget about bashing or even reviewing Four Hour Work Week at this point. What I need NOW are real life examples of muses. Everyone smart enough to understand Four Hour Work Week knows the basics of science. Give me a large stack of EVIDENCE showing real world examples of muses. This would PROVE that Tim’s step by step plan is actually doable. If there is no EVIDENCE of MANY real world examples of muses, then the step by step plan is bogus. That’s not to say there aren’t some very fine points in the book and Tim may be a genius. Anyone out there with a real world muse raise your hand. Anyone???

  • Philmed

    what is Tim’s website please

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