Ode To The 4 Hour Work Week – A Book Review

So I just finished up the book 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.  It has the standard self-promoting fluff that you have to dig through and weed out, but once you get through that, he’s actually got some pretty ingenious ideas that I think I may find myself implementing in the very near future…


Let me first state that I’m not a book reader.  I don’t do it because I often find myself spacing out and forgetting what it is I just read, it happens.  But I finished this book nonstop in about 5 hours cover to cover.  It kept my attention, and that, in itself is a success!  😉

If you want to just skip to my evaluation and score rating the book, skip to the Conclusion at the bottom of this post. 

If you can get over the initial stomach-ache feeling you get when you hear “outsource” and work for a big company, outsourcing can certainly be your friend.

My knees trembled a bit at the first sound of it because there is a lot of talk about outsourcing in my day-to-day I.T. world and quite frankly, I’d rather not train the guy that will eventually take my job.  Call me old fashioned.

So the format here is based on the notes I took while reading the book.  I’ll italicize and bold what I wrote down while reading and comment on it afterward the note if I find the need for elaboration…

On With The Show

“Who are the NR?  The employee who rearranges his schedule and negotiates a remote work agreement to achieve 90% of the results in 1/10th of the time.”

I like it – The “NR” are the New Rich – a sleeker and more laid back version of someone that’s made it rich.  It doesn’t take an 8-5 job for 25 years to reach it.  You can get to it now.

“I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, ferriss4-hour-workweek1.jpgbut I can give you a formula for failure:  try to please everybody all the time.  – Herbert Bayard Swope first puliter prize winner”

I’m a people pleaser.  I like to make people happy, but sometimes it appears that it just isn’t the answer, and it makes sense.  I get hate mail here at the MiB.  I know, hard to believe when I’m so super awesome, right?  But I do. Some people just have it in their veins to pick you apart.  You’ve got to learn to deal with it.

“Retirement is worst-case-scenario insurance.  Like life insurance, it should be viewed as nothing more than a hedge against the absolute worst case scenario: in this case, becoming physicallly incapable of working and needing a reservoir of capital to survive.

Loved this quote.  Definitely geared towards new entrepreneurs.  Yes, it’s nice to have the backup plan, but try to tell that to the people that are 60 and trying to retire with the hit their 401k retirement plan took this year.

“Most people are good at a handful of things and utterly miserable at most.  I am great at product creation and marketing but terrible at most of the things that follow.”

Absolutely agree here.  I never thought of it that way, but I really am NOT good at a lot of things.  Do I put my time to better use getting decent at those or perfecting the things I’m REALLY good at?  I vote for the latter.

“Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repair.”


“Busy yourself with the routine of the “money wheel”, pretend it’s the fix-all, and you artfully create a constant distraction that prevents you from seeing just how pointless it is.  Deep down, you know it’s all an illusion, but with everyone timothyferriss.jpgparticipating in the same game of make-believe, it’s easy to forget.  The problem is more than money.”

A lot of people get in the mindset of getting money from work because they need to pay bills; they need to pay bills so they have to work.  They see a symbiotic relationship with the two and the secret is to break those apart and realize that they can be separated.

“If you are nervous about making the jump [to quitting your job and starting something new] or simply putting it off out of fear of the unknown, here is your antidote.  Write down your answers, and keep in mind that thinking a lot will not prove as fruitful or as prolific as simply brain vomiting on the page.  Aim for volume.”

Brainstorming is always a good answer when you’re trying to solve a problem.  No wrong/bad answers, just dump it all out on the page.  I’ve used this method for several things in my past, it works.

“Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you0703_mz_multinationals.jpg are considering.  What steps could you take to repair the damage or get things back on the upswing, even if temporarily?”

You quit your job and try a new one.  What about the kids?  Mortgage?  Insurance?  Lots of “what ifs” in the scenario.  But really, think about it, what would happen?  How would you go about trying to fix it if so?

“What are the outcomes or benefits, both temporary and permanent of the more probable scenarios?  If you were fired from your job today, what would you do get things under financial control?”

I’ve asked this one before.  First thing would be unemployment for me certainly, and more recently I’ve decided if it’d happen, I’d bust my hump to try to find something I could do on my own for 2-3 months and if nothing panned out, I’d be back to the job hunt in big biz…

“90% of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things so they aim for the mediocre.”

And 75% of all statistics are 20% false 45% of the time.  😉  But a good point is made – is this your mindset?  Do you think you’re mediocre?  I’m not a self-help blog, but honestly, if you think “mediocre” is “good enough”.  Well then the book might not be for you.

“Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for tis completion.”

Keep tasks simple, to the point, and most of all timely. currency_transfers.jpg It’s a method used in writing good goals and cna certainly carry over to finding improvements in your life.

“Problems, as a rule, solve themselves or disappear if you remove yourself as an information bottleneck and empower others.”

I wrote about this in a work delegation post a few weeks back.  It may be hard to take yourself out of the equation, but try it, it might help.

“Don’t respond to things that take more of your time – if it takes less than $100 to fix it, fix it.”

This was in regards to when he was talking about being the bottleneck in decisions.  He’d spend several hours fixing things that would have cost less than $100, and ultimately cost him more than that because he was the bottleneck.

He put a method in place to fix the issue right away if it cost less than $100.

“Set an hour cap for tasks so they don’t overcharge chasing their tails.”

In regards again to Virtual Assistants (VA) – if you’re going to use them, make sure you put a time limit on what you want them to do in that time frame.

“Use a business of VA’s not just one.”

If you’re going to go down the path of using a VA, make sure you get more than one person helping if you can.  If they get sick or are unable, there’ll still be someone to help you when you need them 24/7.

“Use brickwork.com, YMII.com, and Elance.com”pinar.png

Eh, I’ve heard that both Brickwork and YMII have been slammed since the book and raised up their rates to account for it.  Nothing wrong with that, but I’ve got an ad out on Elance.com right now that is searching for someone now just to see the experience (8 VAs have applied so far).  Will let you know how that part goes.

“Requirements for outsourcers – english speaking is a must.”

If email doesn’t always drive the point home, you need someone that can talk the talk too.

“The Indian outsourcers cost between $4 and 10 US per hour.  My domestic outsourcers are paid on performance on when product ships.  This creates a curious business phenomemon: Negative cash flow is impossible.”

So the Indian outsources he uses create product to be shipped.  The domestic outsourcers only get money when the sale is actually made.  The secret here is to have a product that can be sold for more than you can outsource for.  Indeed a good problem to have.

“Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined.”

I’ve heard this a lot in my day to day job and it really does make sense.  To trump them both, don’t outsource OR streamline anything that can be automated.  Automation is free.

“It is critical that you decide how you will sell and distribute your product before you commit to a product in the first place.”

Makes sense, haven’t had a product to sell yet though.  Working on it.

“Find a market, define your customers, then find or develop a product for them.”

This one intrigued me a lot.  I never thought of it that way before.  I’ve always thought of an idea and tried to fit it into a niche.  Certainly a new way of looking at it.

“Invent, let someone else do the rest, and cash checks.”

Preach on Tim.  I would like to be in that position certainly; sign me up!  Basically though he is saying to utilize your outsourcing abilities.  Come up with the idea and let them do the legwork.

“Our goal isn’t to produce a business that is as large as possible, but one that bothers us as LITTLE as possible.”2780159110_9dd45c03c2.jpg

Really liked this quote.  This is the TRUE passive income definition.  Passive means that you aren’t doing anything.  Bothering you as little as possible fits right in there.

“Lose-win is the new win-win – stand out and reap the rewards.  Fffer them MORE back than their investment, most people are honest.”

So for example you’re seeing this a lot these days.  People want you to try the product and if you don’t like it, they’ll give you back 110%.  Conveniently, 110% isn’t THAT much more when you really put the numbers to it, but it is enough in the initial buy that makes people think, “Whoa, this really MUST be a good product then!”

“Don’t be the CEO or Founder – for negotiation purposes, remember that it is best NOT to appear to be the ultimate decision-maker.”

This helps in the sales role I’m sure.  When you’re driving home a potential sale, you can get caught up in it if you’re the final buyoff on it.  Make it seem like you need to go back to the office to get the final verdict on things.


Outsource until outsourcing can be outsourced by outsourcing. The point is indeed valid and carries weight (and less cost). Being savvy to the business entrepreneurship, I can most certainly see a need (and use) for it.

On a scale of 1-10, I give the book a very solid 8.  I could have done without the self-promoting fluff and he hammered on the outsourcing bit a LOT, I could have used about 20% less “outsourcing chat.”  I got the point, I’ll use it if I go into business for myself, but the point is valid.

Good book, I would read another offering from the pen of Mr. Ferriss!

Filed Under: Businessfinancial educationGiveawaysReaders RequestsRetirementTaxesTraditional IRA