Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Four-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New RichThe first several chapters of this book were just ho-hum. I'm thinking, "Yeah yeah yeah, so you're a successful entrepeneur making tens of thousands of dollars a day, and you have incredible freedom to travel the world, do whatever you like...what in the world does that have to do with my life?"
So, if you should, by chance, be reading this book, I suggest you might just want to skip the first couple of background chapters, and get to the real meat of things, when I started to think, "Hey, why not ME?" I almost hesitate to talk about this book in as public a forum as this blog, just in case the big bosses at work read it, and start to worry about what I'm up to. Some of Ferriss' ideas are pretty subversive.
I'm not going to get into all of his ideas here, in some of the later chapters they come along so fast and furious that I know I'm going to need to find a copy to study in depth for some of the resources and links he mentions, but one of the things he talks about that really intrigued me was the whole concept of outsourcing your personal and professional tasks to various types of firms in India. I mean, I know that big companies do this all the time, but I never thought of taking it to the micro-level. For instance, if you want to create a business plan or a feasibility study or a marketing plan or...whatever, it can be done extremely cheaply and in a short amount of time by people overseas, and you can spend your time doing something else, especially if that particular thing is not your forte. Have an idea for a gadget, but don't have the engineering and fabrication skills to build even a prototype? There are firms that will do that for you! I've always spent a lot of time wondering, when I had such an idea (I came up with the idea of spray-on sun screen back in 1978), how in the world to create that prototype and get it to market, or who I might know that was good with machine tools that I could cadge into building it. Heck, why didn't I think of outsourcing it to cheap labor in Bangladesh? Ferriss even suggests, just to get used to the idea, outsourcing some repetitive chores in your personal life. Gawd, it's tempting!
Ferriss also talks a lot about putting yourself in a situation where you're no longer location-dependent, able to do your work from pretty much any remote location. The first thing that has to happen is to become more efficient and effective in the way you do your work (hence the four-hour work week title) so that you don't spend all of your time tied to your laptop, cell phone and PDA, like many people I know who take their work along with them on "vacation." Yeah, Greg, you know who I'm talking about. Another key step is making the break from the office, whether you're a business owner or an employee, and each situation holds its own unique challenges. I've been working towards the goal of working remotely full-time for a while now, encountering a few obstacles from traditionally-thinking management, and my wife has been working from her home office for several years now, so Tim is preaching to the choir around here.
Anyway, there's far too much in this book to list here, and I suggest you just go grab yourself a copy and prepare to have your assumptions and world view challenged a bit.

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