This book is on the list of the top 5 books that have changed my life. I remember around the second year I was working in Tokyo as a recruiter, a friend of mine mentioned the book in passing. It sounded interesting but didn’t think much of it. I was going through a phase where I had achieved some success at work, but still felt like my life was a rollercoaster in terms of health and focus. I also felt that I wasn’t making my way towards my goal of eventually starting a business as I had set out to do a couple of years before.
After downloading the book on Kindle I let it sit there for a few weeks and then eventually I picked it up lazily one weekend afternoon. I couldn’t put the book down and I finished it on the same day, and I felt like I had just been given and granted access to an extremely valuable treasure — a Holy Grail of sorts. I wasn’t sure if I should spread the word immediately, or just heed the advise and start working on myself. I did both, but of course, people get annoyed when you try and evangelize “how this book changed my life.”
Every time I meet an entrepreneur they always reference Tim Ferris and this book as being the the switch that got them to where they’re at now. The reason it was so powerful is because it essentially gives you permission. Permission to not be in the rat race, it gives you permission to live life on your own accord, and it gives you an action plan to actually make that happen from somebody that’s done it.
A lot of people get turned off by the title of the book because it sounds like “oh you only have to work four hours a week.” Many people see Tim Ferriss as kind of a self-help guru or a lifestyle guru. The root of this criticism is usually fear or a lack of understanding (most people who critize haven’t read the book).
There’s also problem with the phrase “self help.” Whenever we read nonfiction, isn’t everything technically self-help? What is the purpose of us reading a book? We’re all out there to learn something and unless it’s a fiction book which is just for enjoyment, typically even reading a biography of Benjamin Franklin you’re looking for some sort of insight and wisdom from somebody that has done something great. From this perspective, Aristotle and Plato and Seneca are all self-help. Sure, there is a lot of fluffy self-help where people are just trying to sell their products. But it’s important to keep in mind that the category stretches far beyond what most people think.
A lot of the things I had started to get interested in a few years ago, for example taking supplements to increase my focus at work, or being more productive, or learning a new skill, or creating it a plan to make a side business, or mustering up the courage to quit my job…All this is covered in the book, and it was the first time I was exposed to it in an organized manner.
Now, can somebody really only work four hours a week and make a living? If you think the answer is no, then you don’t know very much about the internet. Let’s pick a simple example, writing a e-book. The economies of scale on an e-book are amazing, because you only have to write it once. From there you can make royalties on a daily basis while you are literally sleeping. There are million ways to create passive income, and once set up properly maybe only need to work one hour or five hours or 10 hours…or no hours per week.
With that said, I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes, but these are just snippets and do little justice to the book. Of course if you haven’t read it, quiet the internal critic and pessimism for a few hours and go pick up a copy.
Here are some big breakthrough ideas from the book.
Perfect timing does not exist
For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up all the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.
What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. As I have heard said, a person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Resolve to do one thing every day that you fear. I got into this habit by attempting to contact celebrities and famous businesspeople for advice.
Don’t underestimate yourself
It’s lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming. It is easier to raise $1,000,000 than it is $100,000. It is easier to pick up the one perfect 10 in the bar than the five 8s. If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
Pareto’s Law can be summarized as follows: 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. Alternative ways to phrase this, depending on the context, include: 80% of the consequences flow from 20% of the causes. 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort and time. 80% of company profits come from 20% of the products and customers. 80% of all stock market gains are realized by 20% of the investors and 20% of an individual portfolio.
The time required to become a millionaire — knowledge is power
You don’t need 8 hours per day to become a legitimate millionaire—let alone have the means to live like one. Eight hours per week is often excessive, but I don’t expect all of you to believe me just yet. I know you probably feel as I did for a long time: There just aren’t enough hours in the day. But let’s consider a few things we can probably agree on. Since we have 8 hours to fill, we fill 8 hours. If we had 15, we would fill 15. If we have an emergency and need to suddenly leave work in 2 hours but have pending deadlines, we miraculously complete those assignments in 2 hours.
Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. It is the magic of the imminent deadline.
Being More Productive
At least three times per day at scheduled times, he had to ask himself the following question: Am I being productive or just active? Charney captured the essence of this with less-abstract wording: Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important? He eliminated all of the activities he used as crutches and began to focus on demonstrating results instead of showing dedication. Dedication is often just meaningless work in disguise. Be ruthless and cut the fat.
Creating a product/company
Some of the world’s best-known brands and products have been borrowed from someone or somewhere else. The basis for the energy drink Red Bull came from a tonic in Thailand, and the Smurfs were brought from Belgium. Pokémon came from the land of Honda. The band KISS made millions in record and concert sales, but the real profit has been in licensing—granting others the right to produce hundreds of products with their name and image in exchange for a percentage of sales.
How to be an expert in anything
The degree to which you personally need expert status also depends on how you obtain your content. There are three main options. 1. Create the content yourself, often via paraphrasing and combining points from several books on a topic. 2. Repurpose content that is in the public domain and not subject to copyright protection, such as government documents and material that predates modern copyright law. 3. License content or compensate an expert to help create content. Fees can be one-time and paid up front or royalty-based (5–10% of net revenue, for example).
How to set yourself up for remote work
…you had a heart attack, and assuming your boss were sympathetic, how could you work remotely for four weeks? If you hit a brick wall with a task that doesn’t seem remote-compatible or if you predict resistance from your boss, ask the following: What are you accomplishing with this task—what is the purpose? If you had to find other ways to accomplish the same—if your life depended on it—how would you do it? Remote conferencing? Video conferencing? GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, DimDim.com (Mac), or related services? Why would your boss resist remote work? What is the immediate negative effect it would have on the company and what could you do to prevent or minimize…
Attention and productivity
Once you realize that you can turn off the noise without the world ending, you’re liberated in a way that few people ever know. Just remember: If you don’t have attention, you don’t have time. Did I have time to check e- mail and voicemail? Sure. It might take 10 minutes. Did I have the attention to risk fishing for crises in those 10 minutes? Not at all.
Is your weekend really free if you find a crisis in the inbox Saturday morning that you can’t address until Monday morning? Even if the inbox scan lasts 30 seconds, the preoccupation and forward projection for the subsequent 48 hours effectively deletes that experience from your life. You had time but you didn’t have attention, so the time had no practical value. The choice-minimal lifestyle becomes an attractive tool when we consider two truths.