This is going to be an HONEST, ACCURATE review of the 4-Hour Work Week.
Because strangely enough, that’s not as common as you might expect.
Read on to see what I mean.
What is it: One of the oldest, perhaps biggest books on making money online, but more generally, making more money however you want to do it, and crafting a lifestyle where you make more money for less time spent working. It also covers how to stretch every dollar without living like a penny-pincher, so that you live far better than other people making the same amount of income as you.
What it costs: Typical book prices, depends on the version. Check prices here.
My rating: 92/100 (Awesome)
- Very inspirational, lots of interesting stories of people who succeeded, and stories from Tim’s life.
- Works for both entrepreneurs and employees.
- Enjoyable tone, not too jokey or in-your-face, but not too dry.
- The knowledge feels both bird’s-eye-view and specific, giving you the big picture and important clarifying details for different kinds of people.
- Lots of testimonials. Again, very interesting stories.
- Gets a little too technical and situational in the middle.
- Some of the linked websites in the digital version are dead now.
- Last section is reprinted blog posts.
What Is the 4-Hour Work Week?
Let’s get real. There are a lot of books on modern, internet-based entrepreneurship out there. Many of which were inspired by The 4-Hour Work Week. Is it still worth reading this book, some 13 years after it was first published? Yes.
If you haven’t read it, and you aren’t fully keyed over into the entrepreneur and lifestyle improvement mindset, there’s much to learn here. The book is one third inspirational, one third general wisdom of the current age, and one third technical instructions. Those first two thirds are going to be valuable to almost anyone, and the last third will be useful to most beginners.
The key differentiation with The 4-Hour Work Week is that it doesn’t teach you how to make lots of money. Not really.
You CAN make a lot of money, using the principles it teaches and by following the model of the testimonials included. But it’s more about creating maximum income for minimum time invested and overall hassle. It’s about living the millionaire lifestyle over becoming an actual millionaire.
Considering how unhappy the average millionaire actually is, I’m happy taking the former and then working my way up as far as I’m willing to go. As soon as it’s a choice between getting richer and staying happy, I’m planting my flag down on “staying happy.”
A moderately rich person living out their dreams is ten thousand times better than a sick, bored, overworked millionaire. Do not sacrifice your time, health, and happiness for more money, once you’re making enough to live better than most people. More is not always better. That’s the true principle behind what Ferris teaches.
Along the way, the book covers four critical aspects of working far less for more money, through an acryonym called DEAL. The book proceeds in that order, D-E-A-L, with several chapters for each.
What Is DEAL?
Definition: Overcome misguided conventional wisdom about work, money, retirement, etc.
It’s astounding how most people live their lives a certain way, out of the assumption that there are no other options, or that those options are too risky. This section will help show you how to properly evaluate risk, and stop yourself from avoiding important changes in your career and personal life.
Eliminate: Maximize efficiency in the truest sense, meaning you work far less and in a more relaxed manner.
There is more to time efficiency than staring at a screen for 5 straight hours or (ugh) multitasking. Ferris emphasizes the importance of simplification, of resisting the urge to make your career or entrepreneurial goals more complicated than they need to be.
Automate: Step aside and allow other people, automated systems, etc. to do tasks that are not worthy of your expertise. This section alone was well worth the book’s price.
Some of the information might seem a little basic, but there’s not much to say on a technical level. This section really gets to the heart of what I think is a necessary piece of wisdom for entrepreneurs: “Do not work for yourself. The boss doesn’t work for himself.”
Automation is less about doing something and more about finding ways not to do something, whether by letting a computer program do it, an outsourced worker, etc.
Liberate: Living a lifestyle of mini-retirements and enjoying things typically associated with luxury and millionaire status. Not quite as relevant if you aren’t interested in travel, but still very useful. It can help you teach friends and family to travel more often if they want to, and for far less money.
I was least interested in this section. Maybe that’ll change and I’ll give it a re-read. Once this C-19 business is all up, I wouldn’t mind going on a trip or two. 😉
Unbelievable Stories From a White Thai Kickboxer
I didn’t know that much about Ferris before I bought this book. I knew he branded himself around the 4-hour concept, like with 4hourblog.com. I also heard the weird story about how he won a Thailand kickboxing championship with only a few weeks of training.
That story is also in this book, by the way, and it’s incredible. Ferris is a rare breed: a skilled, evocative storyteller, and also just a man with an interesting life worth talking about.
I also found Ferris’s tone welcoming, and a good contrast to the bombastic deeds he describes. The point isn’t what he did, it’s that he does whatever he wants, and so can you. Want to go to South America for three months and play rugby? Want to taste exotic cuisine in India and get artistic inspiration from the culture shock? Want to take your family on a road trip across the country seeing a favorite band? This book will give you concrete tools to make that happen, including helping you calculate how much more money you need to make before you can fulfill your goals.
I have to shine a light on something: Tim isn’t into the concept of saving up money for decades and then never working again. His life is about mini-retirements. So he’ll work for a few months, then go on a vacation around the world doing something new and exciting for a few months. Due to his passive income and optimization of how much he gets paid for his time, such a lifestyle is possible.
And while he definitely enjoys traveling, it’s not about being financially free to travel. It’s about being financially free to do whatever.
Missing the Point
Before we close out, I’d like to share some cuts from a negative review I happened to see of this book. I will not link to it, because it was just some random person on the internet and it’s best not risk it (you know how angry fans can get).
I don’t mind negative reviews, but here are some screenshots of things that didn’t sit right with me, and show some of the shortcomings worth avoiding as you pursue online success as well.
Tim explains, many times, that you only outsource something if it’s both important and profitable to do so. I can check my email, most of us can check our own email. That’s not the point. In fact, Tim has a long chapter (too long, in my opinion) that details how to cut down on your email time. No paying people involved.
Also, Tim frequently suggests, offers tools and sites, and shares testimonials of people in the United States who outsource tasks to other people in the United States. If they’re doing that, why can’t one Indian outsource another? If you’re too strapped for cash to do that, then find better work and save up your money.
I wasn’t aware we were all living in a perfect utopia where everybody works four hours a week already. Sorry Tim! Everybody’s already having a great time with their work-life balance! Give me a break.
The truth is that often the most insightful knowledge is also the most basic to understand on an intellectual level. Everybody knows, intellectually, that getting up on stage is no big deal, that it won’t kill them, so why do most people still suffer from stage fright? It’s because they haven’t absorbed the message. They haven’t been persuaded, and furthermore, they haven’t persuaded themselves.
The book isn’t some sacred tablet unearthed from a tomb by an alien civilization. Tim is just packaging useful insights in an inspirational tone, with some practical, actionable advice along the way. Every effective self-help book is like this.
Tim never says, not once, that you have to do what he does that literally. It’s not even what he teaches, it’s just part of examples to visualize what’s possible. He has plenty of information for someone who just wants to get more out of their job.
And this isn’t relevant, but I’ll just say that the claim that working many different jobs leaves you with no experience and nothing to show for it is both sad and wrong. The average person has ten jobs in their lifetime.
My rating: 92/100 (Awesome)
Alright, I think that’s enough fun.
I think this highlights a strange truth in the entrepreneur world. There are only so many people with the intelligence and drive to succeed.
That’s why I emphasize that it takes emotional strength to make money online, because it’s very easy to fall into this person’s attitude, of “this doesn’t work anymore/for me/because I tried it for a week.”
Sorry if I’m harping on about this. I’m just stunned that a book with so many testimonials literally baked into the text could get a review that questions all of their legitimacy like that. It’s kind of impressive, in a perverse way.
Well, that’s it for me. More reviews of books to come. The negative review has actually inspired me to show off some of the REAL bad entrepreneur books I’ve found over the years, so stay tuned for some of those. 😉