Monday, September 03, 2007

The 4-Hour Work Week

Tim Ferris has created quite a stir with his best selling book, "The Four-Hour Work Week". I have recently become a fan of Tim's blog, and was curious to read the book.

Ferris is an ultra-vagabond and member of what he calls the "New Rich". He lives a lifestyle that many dream about; traveling the globe to exotic locations while still managing to run his on-line mail-order vitamin supplement business and several other business ventures.

He only checks email once a week from whatever random location he finds himself. He has people who handle the day to day issues of running his businesses. He lives a life of prioritizing, outsourcing, and exploration. It apparently works for him, and one can only admire him for having the balls to "just do it".

I am not sure that just anyone could replicate the life Tim leads, nor would everyone want to live in this manner. His book makes it seem very simple (too simple), but the truth is that he had built his business (AKA income source) prior to establishing his lifestyle, so his reality is that he modified and morphed into this world, he did not simply create it. Additionally he talks of people who work for companies that work remotely while wandering the globe, but I think he oversimplifies how "easy" it would be to sneak off and work overseas without your employer noticing. His example of a software engineer and programmer who can code from China and email his work back to the office does not translate to any career. A hotel catering manager cannot oversee dinner for 400 remotely from Guam.

That criticism aside, this is a great book that has made me think a lot about my life and what I want from my future. While there is no easy way to wave a magic wand and live the life of Tim Ferris (nor do I want to), I do believe that anyone can increase their income and work less hours. Life is short and we all should identify what we would enjoy doing if we had more available hours and income, and then discover how to get more free time and cash.

My favorite part of this book is what he says on page 222:

"Just because you are embarrassed to admit that you're still living the consequences of bad decisions made 5, 10, or 20 years ago shouldn't stop you from making good decisions now. If you let pride stop you, you will hate life 5, 10, and 20 years from now for the same reasons. I hate to be wrong and stayed in a dead-end trajectory with my own company until I was forced to change directions or face total breakdown - I know how hard it is. Pride is stupid.

"Being able to quit things that don't work is integral to being a winner. Going into a project or job without defining when worthwhile becomes wasteful is like going into a casino without a cap on what you will gamble: dangerous and foolish."

This is the most important advice in his book. It is not about copying a vagabond lifestyle if that is not your goal. It is about discovering what your soul is screaming to accomplish during your limited stay on earth. If you are not currently enjoying your life, make the necessary changes to create a new path. Do not postpone your heart's desire. Admit that you have dreams and make them real.

I like Tim's style and would enjoy the opportunity to meet him one day. While we live our lives very differently (I am not sure he would welcome the "married with children" lifestyle at this point on his journey!), I respect and admire what he has done. Reading his book was like spending a couple of hours with him talking over Tex-Mex and margaritas (which I invite him to do next time he is in Austin).

Have A Great Day.



Mike said...

Keep after it Thom.

I've subscribed to the podcast.

Aruni said...

I'm reading this book right now too. I'm only about 1/4 way through it. I like how he uses humor to illustrate his points. Just like you, I keep thinking that I'd like to see how this book would read if he had at least two kids and a wife who would like some help with the kids and not a globetrotter that they never see. :-)