"The 4-Hour Workweek" Review

4-Hour Work WeekSo many people who I follow on the Internet had mentioned Tim Ferris’s “The 4-Hour Workweek” that I thought it was finally time for me to read it. Ferris’s book proposes working with a goal in mind, working less and spending more time on whatever it is that would be fulfilling for you, travel for instance. He proposes a plan to get there by creating a largely self running business using the Internet and relying heavily on outsourcing. It was an interesting book and I am glad I read it but I was left with a more mixed impression of the book.
What I liked
I thought the book was for me a fresh and different perspective. I do like to read things that challenge me and my perceptions, at least from time to time. I am still hard pressed to come up with a product that I could sell as Ferris has (fitness supplements) that would be the good basis for a business. He give some suggestions for how to find or create such a product and a large list of useful links for companies that can partner in manufacturing, fulfillment, sales and support of such a product. I found the list of links to be one of the most valuable parts of the book.
What I did not like
Ferris actually has very little work experience in corporate America and takes pride in the number of jobs he was fired from or deserved to be fired from. His personal experience centers mostly around sales where he found ways to be more productive and spend less time doing it by changing when he made his sales calls and by eliminating clients that were not worth his time. I find that his experience in the working world bears little resemblance to mine. His picture of the working world is a soul sucking machine. No doubt others will relate to that description but I did not. I work as the EVP of Engineering and Operations at a small Internet company focused on creating communities. Before that I have held a variety of positions in software engineering in Silicon Valley. Work has often been for me a part of my creative expression. Most of the time I have derived joy from the people I worked with. There are also fewer shortcuts (at least that I have found) in software engineering than he found in sales.
As Ferris describes the kind of business he is trying to create it is clear that money is the bottom line. What kind of product can I create so I won’t have to work as much? From my Silicon Valley background this seems a passionless exercise. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have the time to travel all the time as Ferris does. But I am not sure that the unconnected untethered lifestyle that is his personal goal would be a good match for me. The process of product and company creation that Ferris describes seemed to me to be passionless and even a bit cynical.
But the biggest problem I had with Ferris’s book was the number of times he expressed an approach to life that I find unethical. I did not count the number of times that he suggested lying to your employer but it was definitely a running theme. His just “Call in sick…” approach to work probably means that it is a good thing for all involved that Ferris is now an entrepreneur. Certainly, I am glad I was not in a position as his boss, but I would probably also not choose to be his partner.
I would repeat that I did find this book interesting. I think that reevaluating “a work hard play later” philosophy could be beneficial to any number of people, myself included. I found the homework that Ferris assigned in the book to be thought provoking if not yet for me life changing. I can recommend the book, even with some serious misgivings about the author’s philosophy.

Author: chris2x

One man's view of life in Silicon Valley from Chris Christensen - a podcaster, blogger, programmer, entrepreneur


  1. I do recommend this book to people who are stuck in life work-wise and are looking for some sort of other path, because I think it can be inspiring. I am very careful to tell them however that there is a lot in there that is worthy of ignoring, that they will know which bits to pick out and apply to themselves.
    My wife and I got a couple of things from the book that have really made a difference to our work and fortunes, neither of which involved anything unethical or underhand.
    And one thing that is clear – no one who reads this is ever going to end up working just 4 hours a week – Tim Ferriss certainly works a lot more than that!

  2. The thing I liked most about the book was how different it was from most self-help, advice books. Most self-help books spend too many pages explaining how the book will deliver at some point if you keep reading.
    Tim’s book was filled with tips pretty much right from the start. At one point, I considered taking notes, but then I realized I would just be transcribing the whole book.
    My one bit of advice for anyone considering 4-Hour Work Week, though, is to get the dead tree version. We got the audio book in addition to the paper version. There are just too many URLs in the book that are hard to follow in the audio edition.

  3. I have read both the “dead tree” version and downloaded the audiobook. It is a terrific book and I have been using many of the recommendations since last summer. Having said that, it has not reduced my workweek, but it has allowed me to become much more productive.
    You can also watch Tim’s video on the 4 Hour Work Week by clicking on my name above.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *