I love and hate this book at the exact same time. The things I love about the book are the same things I hate about the book.
For those few people who are online and haven’t read the book, no matter how you understand the rest of this article - I am strongly recommending that you read the book.
To me, The Four Hour Work Week is two separate books in one. There is a philosophy of life that is described and a practical guide book to implementing the philosophy. The philosophy of life portion of the book is worth understanding but is greatly flawed. The guide book to implementing the philosophy is excellent and you can use it as the guide book to online wealth.
There is much I like about his philosophy and there is much I hate about his philosophy.
Tim’s overall philosophy is pretty straight forward.
Its all about getting as much as you can out of life with the smallest amount of effort. Which is pretty straight forward. The flaws are in how he gets there.
Whole Tim believes in short cuts and taking advantage of inconstancies that are part of history. de Bono called this “Thinking outside the box”.
The strength of Tim’s approach is self evident. There are many rules and rituals that have been in place and don’t need to be. These rules came into being in a different time and a different place and they should be challenged and changed. Until they are changed - they provide an opportunity.
Another part of the philosophy is to focus not on wealth but only on cash flow and time. Tim’s financial measure of success is hourly wage. The wage must be as high as possible - with the understanding there is a limit to the number of hours that the wage can be earned in. Its basic business, but by making it the focus of your business plan - it drives a number of other events, specifically the need to outsource everything.
To accomplish Tim’s vision - you need to be totally in sync with how and where you spend your time. Time becomes the most precious currency you have. Its not to be wasted or in any way abused. Time is certainly not to be used chasing a to do list that doesn’t move you closer to your goals.
Tim stresses a minimal existence focusing in on what you really need and want. A minimal existence doesn’t mean not having the best things it just means not owning them. Rent the Ferrari for a week, just don’t own it and pay insurance, maintenance or anything else. Tim believes that everything in the world can be yours if you can support the cost of leasing, renting, borrowing it, or making some compromise. Its just a matter of looking at it.
I love his idea that the world is a flat place and technology means that you can be anywhere you want and that you can employ people anywhere. Therefore the wealth of the west can be spent in the east.
His idea of not waiting to retire, but taking mini-retirements now is both great and flawed. He truly approaches the concept of time differently. He poses a solution to the philosophical question “Why is it when we are old we have the money to afford to enjoy ourselves but not the vigor to actually do it?”
Tim’s approach to personal wealth is to outsource everything and to make money on the creation of the supply chain. Simply put - find something people will buy and use everybody else to create and deliver the product. The entrepreneurs single task is creating the supply chain and making sure it keeps running. Which in his estimation - should take no more than “Four Hours A Week”. His simple version of the supply chain has the customer is at one end and the manufacturer is at the other end and a bunch of people in the middle moving things along.
He provides the sources for everything. So as a guide book to implementing his overall philosophy is a boon to everybody. I hope Tim has set up a affiliate program that matches no other.
These are just some of the reasons why I love the book and why it must be part of your library. Now lets think a bit about the flaws in the book.
The major flaw in the book is its written for a young healthy male who is smart and full of self confidence. If you don’t have all these attributes then much of the parts of the book won’t apply.
Tim talks a lot about taking advantage of the world by doing a lot of travel and living in expensive places. And he makes it sound so easy. But unfortunately much of the world can’t take advantage of this. Tim provides no alternatives.
Let me give you a few examples….
If you live in a wheel chair, use crutches or require regular hospital visits then a lot of the travel he talks about will be a challenge. If you anxiety issues or some form of nervousness then much of the living on the edge will be a challenge since there is a unstated requirement to be able to handle uncertainty. Things don’t go as planned. But if you are smart and confident don’t panic - it will always work out. But what if you have trouble making decisions or require time to think them through, then some of the situations that you may will find yourself in could be overwhelming.
People with allergies will have it even worse - because they need to monitor their food and what they eat. I happen to be an orthodox Jew, so being able to find kosher food is critical to my being able to eat. That effectively cuts out the parts of the world where there is no Jewish community, It certainly cuts out small towns and villages in most of the world. Further to the religious aspects - much of my lifestyle requires me to things in a community setting. There are other religions that have the similar requirements.
If you have children, you have a spouse, if you have elderly parents depending on you, much of the philosophy will create wishful thinking and unfortunately much of what is good in the book may be lost.
However, if you spend time contributing to the world around you - his approach will increase the time and money you can contribute. If you can generate the cash flow required.
Tim has limits and does not believe in theft of property or value. He is clear about providing value for money, but charging as much as you can for your product or service. This is business practice for luxury goods or in for pharmaceuticals. Luxury goods to this to keep the cache of the product, pharmaceuticals to this to finance the R&D of the drug.
This is fine and all very legal. But Tim he does not understand the concept of fairness or “Genavus Das”, the Jewish word for stealing thoughts from someone. A simple understanding is that if I setup a situation where I or you or Tim makes you think something that is false, I am stealing from you. Its an important concept for honest people who want to make the world a better place.
Most people understand the simple concept of fair play. Unfortunately Tim seems to have missed that lesson.
Let me explain with a couple of examples from his book.
One of his stories is about how he won a Kick Boxing title. In the story, he made the point that he found a rule in the book that says that if an opponent leaves the ring three times they are automatically disqualified. Tim learned and became expert at pushing people out of the ring. And using that technique he one the title. He makes a comment that he thinks the officials were upset with him.
He clearly followed the rules and did nothing illegal and he won and he can claim the title to the entire world - which he does on the cover of the book and any materials describing him.
Let’s now look at the story another way.
His opponents spent years studying and practicing techniques in kick boxing. Kickboxing was a very important part of their lives. His kick boxing opponent and their family probably sacrificed money, time, love, and who knows what else to be able to compete.
How about the officials. I imagine they love the sport. They give up their free time and their families also sacrificed for the sport.
What about the fans who pay good money to attend the event. They pay money, they give up time to attend.
All these people are dedicated to the sport - some more and some less. But all want to make the sport a success.
Tim comes along - finds a loophole in the rule which turns the event into a farce. So Tim won and he didn’t steal anything except the time and effort of all those people involved in the sport and the event he attended.
Can he ever return that to those people?
Another story in the book shows a simpler connection.
As part of the practical side of the book. Tim talks about testing products. He suggest setting up a website, testing the price, marketing the product, and even creating an google adwords marketing campaign.
But in the end it should all be fake - in the sense that people can’t actually purchase the product at the end of the sales process. [I want to be very very clear about something - he is VERY CLEAR NEVER TO SUGGEST taking money without delivering the product]
But imagine 10 year old Johnny is online with his father looking for a present for their mother’s birthday. They are new at being online so there searching skills are limited - but they find the perfect present on one of Tim’s test sites. They discuss the product, they decide its the perfect product for their mother. They figure out where the money is going to come from, etc. etc. Then at the very end - they see a note saying that the product is delayed and they but it will be available soon. So they wait and check the website daily. Since the only way to check is to go through the sales process. They do this everyday. They miss mommy’s birthday. Read more ›