I was listening to an interview today where the interviewee was asked: “what book have you most gifted?”. It got me thinking. I don’t think I have ever gifted a book, but I have recommended plenty. And the book I have recommended the most is The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.
I first read the 4-Hour Work Week in April 2013. I can’t remember exactly why I bought it, but it can remember how I was feeling at that time.
It came right after the sale of my first ‘proper’ startup. You can read about my experience in detail here. But it left me pretty disenchanted with this whole entrepreneurship thing.
I had worked my arse off, and until the point of sale was losing what felt like a fortune each month. I was faced with the options: sell the company and cash out a small amount now. Or continue working all day every day for multiple years with the possibility of winning very big at some point. I chose to sell.
What is the point of being an entrepreneur if you have to work harder, take more stress and earn less than your employees?
Then I read the 4-Hour Work Week and for the first time ever I was introduced to the concept of a lifestyle business.
Instead of designing a company to be as profitable as possible. With your lifestyle coming second. Tim Ferriss evangelises focusing on choosing the lifestyle you want and then adapting your business around it.
It sounds so simple, but makes a lot of sense. And is completely opposite to what most startups try to do.
It came at the right time for me and I lapped up what Tim was selling.
Fast forward a few years and my life has become remarkably similar to the lifestyle described in the 4-Hour Work Week.
The majority of my businesses are outsourced and don’t take up much time. I spend my time learning new skills and focusing on projects that interest me. And I live anywhere I fancy, which currently is Malta.
What better advertisement for the book, than that I ended up changing my life and living what it preached?
The 4-Hour Work Week is full of good stuff, but let me talk about some of the parts that impacted me the most.
Rethinking Common Wisdom
Why do people retire at 65? Why do we work 9-5? Why should I get a job? Why do I live in the UK? Why should you go to university? Why does everyone want a mortgage? Why do I need to answer the phone? Why do I want to be a millionaire? Why do I need a CV?
The second chapter of the 4-Hour Work Week is titled “Everything Popular Is Wrong”.
It’s hard for me to quantify what an impact being told it was OK to challenge the status quo has had on my life.
I would say that a large part of what success I’ve had is from my willingness to take a step back and question common wisdom. Sometimes agreeing with it, and sometimes doing the complete opposite.
Spending a year playing table tennis, starting this blog and creating my sporting goods brand were all things that some of my closest friends told me I was an idiot to do. That’s not an exaggeration, my best man told me that all three of the above were bad ideas.
It would be wrong to put that mind-shift down totally to the 4-Hour Work Week, I was already a bit of a weirdo before then. But Tim helped give me that extra confidence to make up my own mind.
The Pareto Principle
Or sometimes called the 80/20 rule. Put simply, the concept is that you can normally get away with putting in 20% of the effort and getting 80% of the reward.
Or in other words. You can stop doing 80% of the work you’re doing and only lose 20% of the productivity.
Tim’s example is that five of his customers were bringing in 95% of his revenue. So, Tim stopped putting any effort into the 120 other customers and then focused all his effort on finding customers like those top few.
The concept is what led me to do the Expert in a Year table tennis project. Could I get good very quickly by ignoring 80% of the unproductive training that most people learning the sport spend their time on?
It didn’t quite work out, but was well worth doing and I learned a lot.
Earn in the UK, hire in India and spend in Thailand.
We live in a global world that hasn’t quite realised yet that it is global. If you can find a way to earn your money in a first world country while living in a developing country, the quality of life you can afford.
That’s effectively why in March last year I left London to become a digital nomad. Travelling the world and working online while spending less than I did in London.
It’s not even that uncommon anymore. Over the last year I have met hundreds of people that are working a normal job based somewhere like the UK, but doing it all online from countries with better weather and cheaper living costs.
Should You Read The 4-Hour Work Week?
I think so. Especially once you get past the clickbaity title. It has had a big impact on me and really helped me view the world differently. You can get the first couple of chapters free on Tim Ferris’ blog.
I bought the 4-Hour-Work week on audiobook. But I seriously recommend getting a hard copy version. At the end of each chapter, there are plenty of resources that are worth having written down. I found myself constantly rewinding to try and find the name of a service that he recommended.