title: The 4-Hour Workweek – Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)
author: Timothy Ferriss
what you’ll learn: how to reclaim your freedom and time, while making money on autopilot
Why You Must Read It
You’re tired. You’re stressed. You’re broke. You decide that enough is enough and you’re going to break out of the rat race. Now the only question is: how?
If you’ve been researching for even a week on how to quit your job, start you own online business, and make money without having to slave away for your boss … then you must have already read about The 4-Hour Workweek – Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.
Who doesn’t know about the book? It’s sold throughout the world. It has been translated into 35 (or maybe more) languages. It has been on the bestseller lists for years. It is still one of the top-selling books on Amazon.
When I first stumbled across the book, I thought:
The title sounds too good to be true. I only have to work 4 hours a week to achieve freedom, time, and money? Is it a scam? It must be.
Even if it was a scam, I had to read it. There is always a chance that the 4-hour workweek could be real. I wouldn’t mind trading a few hours and a few dollars to find out. (I remember reading the book during medical school classes. I was not paying attention to the teachers at all, because I was so engrossed by what Tim Ferriss had to say.)
It was one of the first books I read when developing my first profitable website — almost 2 years ago. To this day, after reading hundreds of books and articles about business, The 4-Hour Workweek is still one of my favorite books. It holds a special place in my heart. Let me tell you why …
It introduced me to:
- the 80 / 20 rule (Pareto’s Principle). Achieve 80% of the results with only 20% of the efforts? Yes, please!
- a new way to live — lifestyle design. Free time and money are not mutually exclusive. You can have both, if you want!
- geoarbitrage. You can work without being tied down to a single place. Your money can go further depending where you live. I hear the weather is nice over in the Philippines.
- outsourcing. Did you know that it is available to the common person? If big businesses do not, why not you? (I did not try out outsourcing yet, so I do not have more to say about it. But if you want to outsource, the instructions are all there in there.)
- testing a market before dumping lots of money into the product. You can learn how to avoid wasting a lot of money and time on something that is going nowhere.
- the importance of marketing and selling — not just knowledge. Knowing a lot of nice. But the key is letting others know that you know a lot.
- the optimal price to maximize profit and to minimize hassle. You’ll learn why lower prices are not always better.
Before reading the book, I have never heard of these ideas — ever! High school didn’t teach me these. College didn’t teach me these. Medical school didn’t teach me these. (I doubt any of my teachers even knows about them.) But afterwards, my mind has been awakened. I seriously felt like Neo who has been unplugged from the Matrix.
For the first time in my life, I could clearly see what I wanted from my life. I didn’t want a lot of money. I wanted freedom and I knew what it looked like.
My former definition of freedom was to put in my hours into a job I disliked, make a lot of money, and then retire to the beach. I foresee myself attaining this “freedom” in my 60′s, possibly 50′s if I make really good money.
But my current definition of freedom is to create a muse … a business that will sustain my lifestyle. This is achievable in only a few years, as opposed to 20, 30, or even 40 years. (For many people, no matter how long they will work, they will never achieve freedom.)
Not Everyone Loved the Book
To my surprise, a lot of people hate this book. To give you a balanced review, I’ll also include a few negative reviews I found on Amazon:
2/5 stars – There’s a Sucker Born Everyday ( MUST READ BEFORE PURCHASING!)
The title and cover draws people in. 4 Hour Work Week, it’s too good to be true. Then we read the first couple of pages, maybe the first couple of chapters. The first chapters are the typical motivational, “you can do it” montage. I’m not going to lie, I felt motivated to give this book a try after reading the first part of the book without even knowing what this book is all about. But as I began to get out of the fluff, and actually found myself reading the core subject of the book, I was utterly disappointed.
D is for Definition
In this section Ferriss tells us to do an important task: define what you want. And I agree that most of us live through life not knowing what we want; just following the crowd like a herd of sheep. This section was the motivational, make you feel good section. This wasn’t the how, it was the why, and it downright made me pumped.
E is for Elimination
Okay, so he basically says to eliminate all the junk in your life. For example: watch less TV, don’t check your e-mail 50 times a day, don’t look at your phone 100 times a day, don’t surf the web 3 hours a day, etc. It’s all good advice, nothing too fancy, or new, just plain old, “don’t waste your time” advice. So far so good.
A is for automation
This is where I ran in to problems with Tim’s method of creating a “4 hour workweek”. First he tells us to outsource a big chunk of our lives using a VA (virtual assistant) from India or Shanghai or wherever. Basically a virtual assistant is a person who assist you in everyday task (checking emails, making reservations, doing research for your job that you got hired to do,set up appointments, etc) so basically an online-personal assistant you hire for dirt cheap. So if you are okay with some guy in India knowing your personal information (SSN, bank account number, phobias, any illnesses you might have, problems in life, and many more as Ferriss states) go ahead and outsource the things you can already do yourself to a guy in India you never met. But Ferris says that misuses of sensitive information are rare; well there could be bias behind that statement, but I’m not willing to find out if it’s true or not. The irony of oustourcing your life is that you become dependent on your VA. You no longer have the urge to take control of your own life when it comes to paying bills, making reservations, or doing research for your job because your VA does it for you. So that’s the paradox: out source your life, but become more dependent on a foreigner. And Ferriss quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson throughout his book as a motivational spice. But it’s apparent that he never read “Self Reliance”, the cornerstone of Emerson’s philosophy. (Tim if you’re going to use Emerson’s words, how about not making a book that totally contradicts the philosophy of Emerson? Thanks).
A is for automation Pt. 2
Ferriss then goes on to tell us how we can make up to 40,000 dollars a month of automated income (little work). Basically you create a product and sell it. Plain and simple. He tells you to find a market, find the demographics of your product, make a product and sell it. Yup, your average entrepreneurship. It’s nothing new, and Ferris is not an expert entrepreneur. He did have a company BrainQuicken which sells “Neural Accelerator” supplements. The site is 99% advertising and 1% scientific: It sells because it’s precisely that. And the product that Ferriss started is not something revolutionary, I’ll take my 200mg of caffeine before a workout any day than pay 50.00 dollars plus shipping for BrainQuicken. So if you want to make your own product, market it, sell it and make millions of dollars go ahead. Tim tells you exactly how, but what Tim doesn’t tell you is that it takes a lot of work in the beginning, a lot more than 4 hours a week.
L is for Liberation
More like L is for not showing up to work, and being cynical. Now I’m against the 9-5 hours of work. I think that human beings are more efficient enough to get things done in a short period of time, and I believe that society is slowly catching on. But here’s Tim’s idea of “liberation”. Escaping the office: not doing your job or worse, not showing up. Killing your job: quit your job. Mini retirement: take a month vacation every 2 months of work (or pattern that works best for you). Filling the Void: filling in the emptiness and the boredom you feel with fun stuff like becoming a horse archer, learning tango, and winning a fight championship by cheating.
So okay, let’s say everything goes well: you are making 40,000 dollars a month, you are working no more than 4 hours a week… now what. Even Ferriss says that you will feel a void… well that sucks doesn’t it? Why don’t you go and talk to your VA about your problems?
Now obviously I’m against Tim’s advertising methods, it’s misleading. The book only sells because of the hope it gives 9-5 workers that it’s possible. Oh, it’s possible but unlikely. Tim is no Bil Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, or Clint Eastwood he is nowhere close to them. You see great testimonials from people from Yahoo!, Wired, Silicon Valley, and hell, from Jack Canfield about Tim’s book, but not from people like Gates, Jobs, Buffett, Eastwood, or any other highly successful people, why? Because those four know that true success comes from years of hard work, and building lasting relationships with people. Those four know that decreasing your work hours, outsourcing your life, and making a tons of money is not the road to true happiness. Those four people, even if they read this book, will probably throw it in the fire. But for the cynical, “how do I work little and make tons of money” people out there (which is most of the population) this book will initially look like the next Bible. The fact that this book sold well says a lot about our society.
This is a misleading book, there are tons of other great books you can read for true success: Talent is Overrated (no BS way how people become great at what they do), 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (classic), and How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People… to name a few. Very few will read this review before buying, and more copies of this book will sell due to the cynical and lazy nature of people. Don’t be one of those people, don’t buy this book.
1/5 stars – Not for 98% of the population
This guy is far from typical and discusses a disruptive lifestyle that most people would not want. The title is also misleading. Ferris talks about losing 30 lbs in 24 hours(you read that right!) for a kickboxing match in (some Asian country). The end goal is to put himself into lighter fighting category, where he has a great advantage. While this is extreme, that risk taking mindset is what you need to excel in business and is beyond the toolkit of most people.
I’m not saying he is a liar but come on! Most people wouldn’t dream of doing something like that. There are some good tidbits in the book but I was completely distracted by his travel fetish. 30% of the book talks about International travel.
The theme of the book is how the author created a heath supplement company(no small feat), worked himself to near death, and realized he could hire VA(virtual assistants) to do his dirty work. I believe the author has great self confidence(a given for business) and is quite intelligent (went to Princeton, but claims he was admitted with a 40% lower SAT). The author is very smart, with a very above average IQ determined by his writing style and accomplishments.
The idea is to hire Indian VA/”slaves” who will do your work for under $10/hr. Yes, that is very possible to do. But developing a business idea, finding a market, and training your VA’s to to the job right is a complex task. You also have to have ultimate trust, trusting total strangers with your credit cards, bank accounts etc.
Putting that aside, a four hour workweek is tantamount to the kickboxing situation described above. If you don’t have the mindset for business – this book may as well be a James Bond novel. The book gives some examples but if you can’t spot opportunities this will never ever work for you. You probably need a connection or two as well – imagine some relative who is a wholesaler for a hot item and can drop ship you a product dirt cheap. You still need the minimal skill to set up a yahoo/ebay store, deal with customers, learn SEO/Adsense, etc. If the market is competitive don’t forget a nice chunk of change too!
He talks about Adsense – That could be a major money drain if you don’t have the right product. The landscape changed so much in the past few years and Google is very serious about people trying to market junk (10 years ago it was like shooting fish in a barrel).
He talks about niche markets – simply type something into Google search and there are thousands of branches leading away from your search term. For example – Ice skating may be a hard market but Ice Skating for Seniors may be easier because there is less competition.
Then there is product creation. Most wouldn’t even have a clue where to start. If you have an idea you can get some company in China (or the Thomas Register) to make it for you. You can also create information products/services as well. He even states to look for a product within your skillset, something which is highly dependent on your background and is not practical for most. The second challenge would be to install it into a non-competitive market with a large audience(something highly searched but there are few major websites purveying products). There is the google adwords tool that lets you check any search term and determine how many searches there are a month. From there you get other variations, and you can run the search in google to see how competitive (e.g. Authority websites) exist for that term. For example “Weight Loss” would be impossible to break into, since you would find hard hitters like WebMD at the top. However, weight loss for pregnant women in Albany, NY may have a much less competitive market (maybe not, but you get the idea).
One example in the book talks about someone who was a musician and set up a website to sell sound effects and made a killing. He would act as a middleman and ship the DVD to the customer. Here is someone who is both in the industry (connection) and took the time to learn the technical aspects of internet marketing. This case study is probably one of the better points in the book where he discusses testing and advertising.
When you read the news, you should be reading for hot trends and thinking in terms of new products and services that are on the horizon. The ability to spot things like that before they get big is essential to success. For example, people made fortunes selling “Grill” rapper teeth when they first came out. Again, the basic business info discussed applies.
There are some good ideas in the book but there is too much diversion and even as someone who is somewhat experienced in this I was left searching for details. The author is also an extreme risk taker that is way beyond what they average person would consider. Many entrepreneurs fit into that mold. I’m not saying you can’t make some money online but trying to follow this guy is like trying to copy Steve Jobs or Richard Branson.
Finding something very profitable without connections or special skills requires business skill that would probably bring 6 figures in employment. What the book does not mention is how many people fail and lose 5 or 6 figures of money. I know people who lost 10K on adsense in a few weeks. That is the hard and cold fact. Not to discourage anyone from trying, but the tone of the book just makes it too easy (like most money making e-books) and does not give the whole story. The idea is not to think about failure and just suffer consequences until you make it. Big Corporations can run at a major loss for a quarter or two, pay all their employees and not have to worry their light are shut off. Then business picks up and they are in the black. Try not paying bills for 3 months, we all know what will happen. That will not fly for most people, but is required for business.
If you are really motivated, the ideas in this review should probably be enough to get you started! Most information can be found free on the web. The bottom line is, I don’t care if you are Apple or the kid selling apple juice on his lawn, you need two things to succeed – A starving crowd who is dying for your product and either low competition or capital for major advertising. Post comments and I will be glad to answer them.
1/5 stars – Tim Ferris’ Ode To Slackerdom
In “The 4-Hour Workweek”, Tim Ferris tells us that anyone can live life like a millionaire by adopting the philosophy of the New Rich – working the minimum amount of time necessary, having maximum freedom and mobility, and starting a niche business that runs by itself. If you are unsure as to how to accomplish this ideal, “The 4-Hour Workweek” provides a step-by-step recipe. Enticing? Absolutely! But after a few chapters, the book seems more like an infomercial than a literary work.
Ferriss spends the first four chapters of the book redefining success in his own terms. The New Rich, he writes, “negotiates a remote work agreement to achieve 90% of the results in one-tenth of the time, which frees him to practice cross-country skiing and take road trips with his family two weeks per month. ” The New Rich…. “aim to distribute `mini-retirements’ throughout life instead of… the fool’s goal of retirement.” Furthermore, the New Rich, “ask for forgiveness, not permission. If it isn’t going to devastate those around you, try it and then justify it”. To many, it will seem that Ferriss is advocating self-centeredness and lack of concern for others. Poor ethics; however, does not preclude a book from becoming a best seller.
In the next section, the author instructs us on improving our productivity. He advocates doing only the 20% of tasks that “contribute most to income” and to schedule those “with very short and clear deadlines”. He advocates a low information diet, avoiding time consuming people, learning to say no, and refusing to multi-task in order to apply the minimum amount of time to the absolute minimum of tasks. In Ferriss’ view of the world, it appears the grasshopper is the hero of the fable; not the hard-working ant.
Chapters 8 – 13 offer a number of interesting ideas for putting one’s life on easy street. Ferriss outsources much of his work and personal tasks to India or China. He tells us that “there are a million and one ways to make a million dollars” and presents his recipe for accomplishing this as: 1) Pick an affordably reachable niche market, 2) Brainstorm a product idea 3) Market test your concept and 4) Rollout your product while simultaneously outsourcing the operations to reduce your time requirements. Enticing? Yes, again; but can there really be niche, low maintenance businesses out there for everyone?
In the remainder of “The 4-Hour Workweek”, Tim Ferriss advocates manipulating your boss into permitting you to work remotely using a variety of unsavory tactics. The objective is to obtain “unrestricted mobility” and to “work wherever and whenever you want.” In this way, one can take trips and vacations while still being paid by an employer.
Lastly, and perhaps most believably, Ferriss addresses what to do when one becomes part of the New Rich, only to find that “emptiness and boredom” await them. He offers common platitudes such as taking a learning mini-retirement, performing charitable work, and volunteering. By this time, readers might just be wondering whether the Ferriss way is really the smart way at all. Certainly the conventional wisdom of hard work, integrity, and servant-leadership would more reliably lead to a fulfilling sense of self-worth and accomplishment.
The title of this book is catchy and the proposition interesting. However, from the recommended unethical tactics to the ultimate goal of leisure and boredom, there is little in this book that is worthwhile. The fact that it made the New York Times best seller list and received a host of endorsements from notables is a sad testimony to our times.
My main reason for disregarding the negative reviews is because the naysayers did not offer any better alternatives. So am I supposed to just give up and accept my life as a cubicle slave? I strongly suspect that a lot of these people do not have a lifestyle that I want to follow. Would I rather be naysayer or would I rather be Tim Ferriss?
I agree that the title could be a bit misleading. Frankly, I don’t even know if Tim, himself, works only 4 hours a week. I guess its possible. But I don’t really concern myself with how much he works. There are two ways you can look at the potentially misleading title. You can view Tim Ferriss as some sort of snake-oil salesman who just wants your money. Or you can view him as someone who wants to show you a better lifestyle — one that is much superior to the life you’re currently living. If the title was anything less persuasive, you might bypass the book and miss the message altogether.
In the book, you’ll also find 13 case studies about how others have implemented a lifestyle business into their own lives. (See table of contents below for more details.) Each case study further proves that the elusive 4-hour workweek is achievable.
When you start out, you will obviously have to work hard, a lot more than 4 hours a week. You will have to learn the ropes. You will have to make mistakes, to go through trials and errors. You will have to keep on learning.
But once you know more about creating a lifestyle business, you can cut the numbers of hours you work. For example, when I was too busy to work on my business (i.e. when studying for my licensing exams), I didn’t touch my site for a whole month. And yet, the money kept flowing into my account.
It wasn’t always like this. I did not see a cent of reward until 8 months in. For most people, they would have already thrown in the towel. But it was because of this book that I kept plowing through with my online business ventures, in spite of the time-consuming rigors of medical school. But I kept working and learning, because I knew that it is achievable. Other people have done it. So why not me?
I’m gonna tell you something that’ll just shock you. In medical school, the most important things I’ve learned were not medicine. It’s not even close. However, one of the most important things I’ve learned was how to build my online business.
The book will not offer step-by-step instructions. It will not tell you what industry you should go in to. It will not tell you what type of product to sell. No two people achieve success exactly the same way. Instead, you will have to be a student of life and fumble you way to your goal. You will fall down along the way. You will suck along the way. You will feel hopeless along the way. But this book will be there to pick you up, dust you off, and send you along to the promise land.
If you choose freedom over slavery …
If you choose results over “putting in the time” …
If you choose achieving your dream over conforming to the herd …
Never mind the naysayers and get this book now!
Normal Edition vs. Expanded and Updated Edition
Both books are pretty much the same. If you have one, you don’t need the other. The expanded and updated edition has an extra 100 pages of blog posts and case studies of people who successfully achieved the 4-hour workweek.
Table of Contents
First and Foremost
- FAQ – Doubters Read This
- My Story and Why You Need This Book
- Chronology of a Pathology
Step I: D is for Definition
- 1. Cautions and Comparisons: How to Burn $1,000,000 a Night
- 2. Rules That Change the Rules: Everything Popular is Wrong
- 3. Dodging Bullets: Fear-Setting and Escaping Paralysis
- 4. System Reset: Being Unreasonable and Unambiguous
Step II: E is for Elimination
- 5. The End of Time Management: Illusions and Italians
- 6. The Low-Information Diet: Cultivating Selective Ignorance
- 7. Interrupting Interruption and the Art of Refusal
Step III: A is for Automation
- 8. Outsourcing Life: Off-loading the Rest and a Taste of Geoarbitrage
- 9. Income Autopilot I: Finding the Muse
- 10. Income Autopilot II: Testing the Muse
- 11. Income Autopilot III: MBA – Management by Absence
Step IV: L is for Liberation
- 12. Disappearing Act: How to Escape the Office
- 13. Beyond Repair: Killing Your Job
- 14. Mini-Retirements: Embracing the Mobile Lifestyle
- 15. Filling the Void: Adding Life After Subtracting Work
- 16. The Top 13 New Rich Mistakes
17. The Last Chapter: An E-mail You Need to Read
Last but Not Least – The Best of the Blog
- The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen
- Things I’ve Loved and Learned in 2008
- How to Travel the World with 10 Pounds or Less
- The Choice-Minimal Lifestyle: 6 Formulas for More Output and Less Overwhelm
- The Not-to-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now
- The Margin Manifesto: 11 Tenets for Reaching (or Doubling) Profitability in 3 Months
- The Holy Grail: How to Outsource the Inbox and Never Check E-mail Again
- Tim Ferriss Processing Rules
Proposal to Work Remotely on a Contract Basis
Living the 4-Hour Workweek: Case Studies, Tips, and Hacks
- Zen and the Art of Rock Star Living
- Art Lovers Wanted
- Photo Finish
- Virtual Law
- Taking Flight with Ornithreads
- Off-the-Job Training
- Doctor’s Orders
- The 4-Hour Family and Global Education
- Financial Musing
- Who Says Kids Hold You Back?
- Working Remotely
- Killing Your BlackBerry
- Star Wars, Anyone?
I’ve chartered private planes over the Andes, enjoyed many of the best wines in the world in between world-class ski runs, and lived like a king, lounging by the infinity pool of a private villa. Here’s the little secret I rarely tell: It all cost less than rent in the U.S. If you can free your time and location, your money is automatically worth 3–10 times as much.
This has nothing to do with currency rates. Being financially rich and having the ability to live like a millionaire are fundamentally two very different things.
Money is multiplied in practical value depending on the number of W’s you control in your life: what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it. I call this the “freedom multiplier.”
Using this as our criterion, the 80-hour-per-week, $500,000-per-year investment banker is less “powerful” than the employed NR who works 1/4 the hours for $40,000, but has complete freedom of when, where, and how to live. The former’s $500,000 may be worth less than $40,000 and the latter’s $40,000 worth more than $500,000 when we run the numbers and look at the lifestyle output of their money.
Options — the ability to choose — is real power. This book is all about how to see and create those options with the least effort and cost. It just so happens, paradoxically, that you can make more money — a lot more money — by doing half of what you are doing now.
Get it now!