There are moments of truth when New York Times Bestseller books are actually worthy of giving a read and The 4-Hour Work Week is one of them.
The book revolves around adjusting your professional life to give more time to your personal life. Tim Ferriss has given practical solution to escaping the rut of 9 to 5 in a detailed manner.
You want to convert your on-desk job to remote job, the book ahs the answer and strategies for negotiation and persuasion. The title seems misleading as to how 4 hours are enough for living, however, the book is centered around ‘automating’ your life.
It gives templates as to how one can negotiate working remotely and then these hours can be harnessed for nurturing one’s own business, entrepreneurial pursuit or start up.
Interesting Fact : The book was turned down by 26 out of 27 publishers; I can’t imagine how dumb sometimes publishers are to refuse a potential bestseller. It was first published in 2007.
Defining The New Rich
Tim Ferriss has introduced the term New Rich by which he means the class of people who work remotely, work less but end up making more than others. The book is a bible to get into that class but unlike other books, it has got strategies and plans to execute transformation from the poor to the New Rich.
Creating New Options For Income Stream
The book talks about creating new options for income streams and states that having more options means wielding more power. We are all aware of multiple income streams and the book guides us to not only setting up new streams but to tailor them to earn more and more but spending less time.
Retirement Vs Mini Retirement
We are all tuned to the idea of retiring after putting in 30-35 years of life in the job we don’t like. On the contrary, the book talks about creating mini-retirement plans by travelling around the world. The author has talked at length about cutting costs and being able to be a globetrotter using the power of remote work.
Mini retirement is like spending 6 months away from your city at a sightseeing spot as per Timothy Ferriss and the author has given details about the services which can be utilized while being offshore to save money. The book was written before AirBnB but it talks about saving bucks while travelling.
Tim Ferriss has disparaged actual retirement because of three reasons:
- You waste most capable years of your life waiting for the retirement at 60 or 65.
- Even after retirement, people would be living the same standard of life.
- You will be bored to death after retirement due to idleness.
What If I Fail
Tim Ferriss, like many others has stated that even if you quit your job for a new pursuit, you would not become a beggar and you must have some skill to feed yourself. He says that the start of anything is new but once it gets going, people would step aside.
The book compels us to see that a career shift entails uncertainty but being stuck in the same career entails unhappiness and people choose unhappiness over uncertainty, forgetting that unhappiness is 100 percent real but uncertainty can turn into certainty.
The most catchy one liner about fear is that most intelligent people dress it up like optimistic denial.
The 4 Hour Work Week is a mixture of personal development, advertising, marketing and social skills. It states that one should become uncomfortable at times by doing unusual things like contacting the celebrities or CEOs. As we are not tuned to make contact with such bigwigs, we consider them unapproachable but things which pull us out of our ordinary and comfort zone are worth doing.
Examples include cold calling or hitting up on someone; even if it fails we embrace the rejection and it helps in future.
One of the concepts from the book seem to have been drawn by James Clear in his Atomic Habits as well. Tim Ferriss has said that boredom is the enemy and not the failure. James clear has stated that the biggest enemy of success is boredom and not failure.
How to Negotiate
We all fail to get the desired results in a negotiation which sometimes end up with a single NO. However, Tim states that if you are denied something, ask some questions in the bargain like:
Have you ever made an exception?
I am sure you have made an exception before, Haven’t you?
What do I need to do to get [my] desired outcome?
As far as the negotiation regarding remote work is concerned which is the main theme of the book, Tim has given templates by which remote work should first be demanded on a trial basis and productivity should be shown as enhanced during those days and then leverage should be taken.
The Pareto Principle
Tim Ferriss has used the Pareto principle which says that 80 percent of the outcome comes from 20 percent of the actions. The American author has stressed that businesses should be tailored according to this principle and only clients and customers which fall in 20 percent (those who don’t tease or complain or whine all the time) should be entertained as this would save time, energy and resources.
Besides Pareto, it talks about the Parkinson’s law which implies that a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in relation to the time allocated to it. The principle implies that if we are approaching deadline, our productivity will increase and even if the deadline is extended, we will become lazy and would stretch the time needed to do the activity. This can be helpful for teachers, academics and especially PhD scholars.
“Give Less time to a task and you will finish it in less time and vice versa”.
The title conveys that the book is about professional life, however, deep down it talks about lifestyle change and personal change. For example it says that one should be on low information diet and this connects well with information overload era of today wherein the feeds are over-feeding us.
For example, it states the importance of having lunch with friends; friends who are not colleagues. It implies travelling is not expensive. Interestingly, a ticket from London to Berlin cost $10 as mentioned in the book. The strategy, amongst others, is to book at the last moment.
Power of Delegation
The book talks equally to CEOs and aspiring CEOs and when it comes to delegation, Tim states that one should do minimum possible decisions and should assign the decision making tasks to others based on rules and sets.
Not only that, even the e-mails should be scrutinized and responded to only when the decision making should come from the CEO himself. Other than that, the staff should be empowered enough to deal with ordinary matters and CEOs should be involved with big fish to fry. This art of outsourcing has been applied by top firms as well and they are super successful which means we don’t need to poke our nose in each and every affair of the company or start up or any venture.
Types of Mistakes
The book talks about two interesting types of mistakes: Mistakes of ambition and mistakes of sloth.
The mistake of ambition can get you out of a job and can help you grow. It can go wrong as well but fortune favours the brave. On the other hand, the mistake of sloth would lead to inactivity and finally to ordinary retirement and not the mini retirement.
A concept piqued my interest and it says that we do have a scare resource of attention which can go bankrupt. For example. if you can’t do anything about a work related problem over the weekend, better not to check the e-mail as any assignment which has to be done on Monday would keep you and your attention occupied over the weekend.
This is important considering that we turn to our cell phones just minutes before sleeping and seconds after waking up. This consumes our attention and an activity which can not be done till morning keeps draining our attention throughout the night.
I must say that criticism is a harsh word but the strategies outlined in the book might not be applied by someone who is not tech-savvy. Youngsters and teens adapt well to technology and remote working stations as well as paperless environment, however, the senior citizens might not be that impressed with the book considering that it is a routine for them to hop on their BMW convertible, fetch a burger from McDonalds and end up in office.
However, for the millennials and Generation Z, this book can serve as a guide to making a new life, living anywhere they want and join the New Rich by launching their product or setting up a store.
Concluding the Book review: The 4 Hour Work Week
I would have to say that it is one of the great books when it comes to changing the lifestyle of modern day employees. The book is very much relevant considering that in the post-Covid era, remote work has been normalized.
In essence, it is not very difficult to seek remote work option from the employers. Utilizing this liberty, one should invest the time in learning new skills because what we do most of the times in office is to scroll the newsfeed. The actual time spent in doing real stuff is very less. If we are remotely doing a job, we don’t need to be sitting in our cubicle and we can be around our loved ones or create a new product or nurture a new blog as long as the professional work is not affected.
This book has been more relevant considering that corporate giants like Google and Microsoft are turning to remote employees. This can give more opportunities to the employees who can pursue their passion projects for which the book outlines the strategies.