Defending the 4-Hour Workweek

Back in June I read one the most talked about business books of the year. I didn’t blog about it at the time. The book spoke to me. I wanted it to sink in. And I wanted some time to pass. Before commenting on the book, I reread it in its entirety this weekend.

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss was written for me. Judging by the hostility it has received everywhere from the Amazon comments to CNBC, it probably wasn’t written for most people. The problem I think people have with this book is they take the title too literally. There is a difference between getting rich and having a rich life. This book is not an infomercial follow-these-easy-steps course in acquiring wealth.

What the book is about is something I got a brief taste of in 2006. Readers will recall that I quit my job and played. Everyday I woke up with sense of adventure. One day I might have been taking surf lessons, another day I might have been in a 50-mile bike ride in Mexico. I called that time period my Summer of George. I hiked my ass off and traveled to New Zealand and South America. Not bad for a kid from Ohio.

Well it turns out I was thinking too small. The author has had adventures that make my Summer of George look pathetic. The 4-Hour Workweek helped me connect the dots between my Summer of George and Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat. I can push pixels from an office park in San Diego or from condo in Buenos Aires. Earn dollars and live off pesos.

One of the reasons I accepted my current job is that it is 100% remote. With a laptop, broadband and a Vonage phone number I can be anywhere. I can work from Bellevue, Washington or some sandy beach in Central America. By setting my own hours and not having to commute, I have more free time. Although I can probably find a job that pays more, my life would no longer be as rich.

The book is not a single plan path. It is a collection of ideas and tools for Deciding what you want, Eliminating the unnecessary, Automating what you can and finally Liberation. If you are saddled with financial and personal commitments, you will find reasons to hate this book. Don’t waste your time. If however you seek adventure and are looking for some guidance from someone who has been there then I highly recommend The 4-Hour Workweek.

Legacy Comments

Joe

The author is a terrific speaker — his thoughts on time management, dealing with email, outsourcing tasks that pay less than what you make, firing clients are great. I listened to his talk from SXSW from back in March sometime during the Summer and it definitely had an impact on my thinking. I can’t say I’ve outsourced my billpaying and phonecalls yet, but I did bring a new focus on ruthless, truthful assessments about my time.

MAS

He uploads to YouTube as well. He just uploaded a video of him in his $225/week condo in Buenos Aires two days ago.

Matt

A good mentor of mine once said: “don’t save hundreds to lose millions”. In other words, pay someone else to clean your house, cut your yard, pay your bills, and all other things that you are currently doing that do not directly pay you (spending time with family notwithstanding). And, if you can’t ‘afford’ it right now, focus on creating ways to bring in the income to pay for it instead of simply saying “I can’t afford it.”

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MAS

Critical MAS is the blog for Michael Allen Smith of Seattle, Washington. My interests include traditional food, fitness, economics, and web development.