A colleague recommended The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss the other day. I bit and bought the book to read on vacation. I got a little more than half way through the book when I had to take Tim’s advice and stop wasting time reading it.
I’ll start by being objective. Tim makes a bunch of claims that cannot be backed up. How do we know he makes $40K-$80K a month with BrainQuicken? It’s a private company – no way to verify the sales, profit, or loss. How do we know he only works 4 hours a week? How do we know any of what he says really works? How do we know that BrainQuicken (the only business he talks about ever owning) isn’t a sink hole? He even admits in his book that he shouldn’t have chosen to sell this product because it requires too much interaction with the customer. If this is the only business you run and it’s not the right product, why wouldn’t you change it? Why? Because it doesn’t matter. It’s a front to sell a book.
We do know that he broke the 1 minute World Record for Tango spins on Regis. Something like 41 spins. You can Google for the video. It’s not impressive. I certainly I could have done the same, albeit with less style. Why on earth would someone do this? Ah wait…self-promotion.
Now allow me to be a bit cynical. In the book, he starts off talking about himself. A lot. Like for the entire book. I started to raise an eyebrow right after the chapter on his “life” history. Then he proceeds to talk about the “New Rich,” which presumably he’s one of. However, the book advocates freeing up time to allow you to accomplish 6 month mini-goals called “Dreamlines” or mini-retirements. The same section tells you how to calculate how much income you’ll need to accomplish these goals. You then proceed to spend all the money you make on your mini-retirements. How does that make one “Rich” in the money sense of the word? Oh wait, this is the “New Rich”…
Free your time by using Virtual Assistants from India. Seriously? He is helpful by recommending which companies to use. I’m sure those companies really appreciate his generosity and free advertising (yeah right). I’ve worked with various Indian outsourcers on and off for about 8 years in the software sector (try to confirm that claim). Except for the rare diamond in the rough, the work product that comes back is sub-standard. Usually quite bad. He even talks about his horror story, but continues to recommend them. Have you had a support call with Dell or some other company that uses an India-based call-center? I swear that the people on the phone have only been taught enough english to read the script. Not what I’d want for my customers.
Then he tells you the “secret.” That’s right. Find a good product and sell it. That’s it. Oh, and you don’t want to talk to customers because that might take longer than 4 hours a week. Better let India, Inc. handle that for you. After all, they speak real good english and your customers will absolutely love their politeness and their ability to stick to scripts. It is simple to choose the product – you know – the one that will sell like bananas on a monkey farm and one that no one else can possibly sell. Let someone else make the product, ship the product, handle the phone calls and billing. After all, those selling your product can’t possibly wise-up and see what you’re doing. You only need to check email once a week and watch your bank account grow. Everyone ought to be doing this!
Throughout the book he uses phrases like “…our recommendation…” Wait. Who’s “our”? His team in India? He’ll say things that make him sound like he has broad business experience, such as “I recommend only selling products, not services”. Has he ever sold a service? I don’t know, but he doesn’t mention it in the book. He’s 31 years old, a cheesy world-record “breaker” and a Chinese Kickboxing “champion” that didn’t win by kickboxing. Where are the billions? Elon Musk sold Paypal for $1.5 billion when he was 31. I’d much rather listen to baseless claims from someone with a proven track record than a tango twister.
The book often reads like an ad for his website and other businesses. His website is only mentioned a few thousand times. Go there sometime. There’s nothing of substance there. There’s a bunch of unbacked claims and plenty of links to buy his book.
Can you run a $40,000/month business (which isn’t really big – less than $.5M/year) on 4 hours a week? Maybe. Just don’t expect to have repeat customers or be in business very long. How did Tim Ferriss do it? He wrote a best selling book that everyone desires: Get Rich, Have Fun, and Not Have to Work. He is simply a self-promoter. Save your money and invest it instead. OK, if you really want to waste your money, I’ll sell you a share of my company instead for the same price!