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4.2 out of 5 stars467
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 4 June 2008
This seems to me to be a book of two halves. In the first half, Ferris gives a step by step action plan for eliminating non-essential work, outsourcing a lot of the remaining work, and giving a detailed blueprint for designing, test-running and developing an 'automated' on-line businesses (or businesses) - that is, a business whereby most of the functions are performed by outsourced companies, hence it is scaleable and allows the owner to keep only a very light hand on the tiller, through weekly or monthly reporting by the outsourcers. The idea is to free you up from the dull treadmill of routine work to allow you to focus on the important things in life now rather than waiting for some deferred gaol to be achieved (eg. retirement). I found this first half of the book excellent and have already started implementing his ideas - Ferris has definitely fired me up enough to give it a go.

The second part seems to focus mainly on what you should do with all the free time that you have managed to free up, and how to cope with the existential issues raised by having nothing to do. His solution is to travel extensively and keep learning (languages, martial arts, dance, etc), and so he gives a lot of tips on how to do that type of thing. It's quite a US-centric book and no doubt the concept of travelling widely is quite revolutionary to a lot of americans but I personally felt the second half of the book a bit irrelevent in the sense that a) I've been there/done that and b) I reckon I'm capable of finding my own life-affirming ways to make use of any free time the first half of the book creates for me.

But overall, I thought it was a great book, and I thought Ferris writes clearly and engagingly. I found it a gripping read and am feeling excited about implementing many of his ideas in the coming weeks.
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Did you know that if the trends of the last two centuries hold, everyone's workweek will be four hours by 2407? What will people do with all that free time? It's a good question that this book recommends you consider.

Mr. Ferriss does a favor for those who hate their jobs but cannot find work they like by explaining how you can still draw a salary while working very few hours (by hiding from the boss and using the 80/20 rule -- 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of efforts). His method is deliberately manipulative (possibly fraudulent is another possible description that comes to mind), so you'll have to watch out that you don't get caught or you might have to repay some of that salary.

What do you do while you are hiding from the boss? Mr. Ferriss recommends starting a highly profitable online retail business that's so highly automated it can be operated in only four hours a week. You'll find details of how to do this that matches what I receive in lots of spam e-mails every week.

After you've got half a million a year rolling in by selling expensive items at a high profit margin, Mr. Ferriss provides lots of advice on how to take six-month miniretirements in cheap places around the world (Argentina and Berlin are his favorites). I'm still puzzled by why Berlin can be a cheap place to live. The rest of Germany when I've visited certainly isn't.

The book's come-on explains how Mr. Ferriss has accomplished all kinds of world-class things to boost his credibility. Unfortunately, you'll find that it isn't always classy how Mr. Ferriss does this. For example, he won the Gold Medal at the Chinese Kickboxing National Championships in 1999. He dehydrated himself more than the other competitors did the day before the competitions for the weigh in so that he could compete against men much smaller and lighter than he was, and he then simply used his quickly regained weight the next day to push competitors off the platform (three times off the platform and you are disqualified).

I find several problems with this book:

1. There's almost nothing original in it. You're just reading summaries that might have been written by a $5 an hour researcher in India. And much of what he draws on isn't acknowledged. For instance, he uses some of Dr. Stephen Covey's seven habits as chapter subtitles . . . but never references or credits Dr. Covey once in the book.

2. He provides so little information on each aspect of his ideas that I doubt that very many readers can really implement what he recommends.

3. There's no moral center to the book. Mr. Ferriss comes across as a con man in several ways.

4. He achieves a 4-hour workweek by simply skimming the cream of a business model that any one of two billion literate people can implement at some level. Are we to believe this business model will be highly profitable for the next several years? I doubt it.

5. I've met very few small business people who simply wanted to retail something on the Internet so they could work only four hours a week. Usually, small business people see their businesses and work as a creative activity that energizes them.

I do admire the book's title. It's a real grabber. It's too bad that there's not more substance to go with it.

If you want to learn how to make breakthroughs in personal and organizational productivity that allow you to live the life you want, there are better resources out there such as The E-Myth Manager by Michael E. Gerber, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer, How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life by Alan Lakein, and Photoreading by Paul R. Scheele.
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on 12 May 2007
Tim's book has got me thinking. It has helped me re-evaluate my life and especially my working my life.

As I see it, Tim argues:

1. Life is short so enjoy it.

2. Realise that you are conditioned by society to work 9-5.

3. Don't wait until you retire to have some fun (lots of fun!).

4. Become much more productive at work.

5. Outsource much of your business and/or life.

6. Create an 'automatic' source of income.

7. Start to living the life you want (it may be cheaper than you think).

Where I have a problem is that this advice, whilst sound, is lightweight. Admittedly, the book points you to lots of (US) resources but you'll need to do a lot more work in order to create the lifestyle Tim offers. It is, after all, a 'framework' of a book and not a detailed, step-by-step, 500 page manual.

OK - I'm hard to please.

If you've not read this sort of material before then this could be the eye-opener you need.

But where I'm disappointed is that Tim suggests that the way to a regular stream of income is to create 'information products'. Mmmm, where have I heard that before?

Do a quick search on Google on this phrase and you'll find tons of better quality material. Believe me, I'm currently experimenting with this source of income and it's not as easy, or as simple, as Tim suggests.

Yes, I am hard to please but visit Tim's site and read his US Amazon reviews and you'd think that this book is somehow *totally* revolutionary.

Yes, it's a good book but it's a bit like eating another American product, a McDonalds burger - it looks tasty on the advertising but while you're eating it you realise that the bread is full of air and sugar and the whole experience leaves you with an unsatisfied feeling.
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on 17 June 2012
I love the idea of rejecting the "deferred life plan". The concept that one should pursue one's dreams and ambitions whilst still young enough, vital enough and financed enough to do so. These dreams should not be "deferred" to the time in life when we are becoming more infirm, more reliant and less energetic. So, the concept of the book is a noble one but the means prescribed in the substance of the book are deeply flawed. There are some nuggets of wisdom, but they seem to be deeply buried amongst pages and pages of checklists, references and resources that would take the space of a full time job just to review. Ferris's magic formula seems so saturated in heuristics that it beggars belief that he himself applies it in his own life. There are contradictions (travel with a laptop or don't travel with a laptop), there are poor recommendations (use easyjet and ryannair for cheap flights in the UK and Europe) and there seems to be an underlying assumption that everyone's dream is to travel the world and learn languages. There is an almost fetishistic leaning towards Argentina both in Ferris's own version of escaping the 9-5 but also in the case studies of his readers. Oh and by the way if he can't find a decent meal for 20 USD in London, he's not doing London right. There are some good resources (among the endless lists of website referrals) and there are times during the reading of the book that ideas get stimulated in the reader. Whether escaping the 9-5 is the aim or just freeing up more time in one's busy life, the material in the book could be used as a resource but it ultimately depends on the energy, determination and clear sense of direction that already exists within the reader. I guess the one lesson not covered in the book is that if you really want to make a ton of cash in order to swan around the world and ditch your day job then you need to write a book with a catchy title that taps in to the hopes and desires of the masses - I personally need to stop getting fooled by titles like this.
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on 24 January 2008
Ferris is an entertaining and flamboyant character. As you read his story at the beginning of the book you can see he has always thought big, and had an entrepreneurial spirit. He takes us through his analysis of his job, insane hours, abusive clients, and no end in sight. He then focused on the 80/20 rule, where 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients, and he paired his clients to a manageable and productive level.

One of my favorite parts of his book are all the pull quotes that start each chapter. They're really great such as "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority it is time to pause and reflect." And "By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day." They set the tone for each chapter.

He tells a funny story about how he won the national championship of Chinese kickboxing by exploiting a technical rule, and knocking his opponents off of the elevated platforms. The Chinese officials were not happy, but he won, legitimately. This is definitely thinking outside the box.

He goes through some thought provoking issues, such as saving your whole life to enjoy retirement. Why not have lots of mini-retirements now? He points out that less is not laziness, because he advocates doing less meaningless work, and focusing on what is important. The timing is never right, that's the case with everything, even having children, just bite the bullet and do it. Ask for forgiveness, not permission; don't give people an opportunity to say no. Emphasize your strengths, and don't bother fixing the weaknesses. This one is particularly important because most people do focus on their weaknesses instead of maximizing their strengths. There is a whole book written on this subject alone called First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently.

He highlights unusual things such as 99% of people believe they are incapable of achieving great things. Therefore that is exactly what you should set out to do because the competition is low. That's hilarious! And, probably true.

He gives some good ideas on brainstorming before you start your own company, and making sure you do your research before you jump in. He talks a lot about outsourcing, and using things like a virtual assistant. It sounds like a really good idea to pay someone to do what you're not good at and focusing on what you are good at.

He has some cheesy exercises sprinkled throughout the book, such as go to a mall and ask people of the opposite sex for their phone number. To me they are the weakest part of the book, and they felt like they were added in afterward simply so there would be exercises in it.

But this is a book worth reading. He has lots of good basic tenets. Don't work at a job you hate. Everything popular is wrong. Don't spend all day organizing your e-mails into crazy little folders. Check your e-mail only a few times a day, and when you do, address the issue in the e-mail so you don't have to come back to it. That's like the old mail handling idea of only touch a piece of paper once, don't set it aside to come back to it.

He makes starting a business sound easier than it really is, but it is a thought provoking book. One that makes you look at how you are spending your day. I wrote down a question from the book at have it on my desk "Are you being productive, or just busy?" That and many others he raises are worth asking yourself.
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on 29 October 2015
Just finished this book and personally I would rate it as 'ok'.
There are many fair, in-depth reviews here on Amazon so I'll just add my own opinion...
The good points are; it does make you think about your current day-to-day work\life balance along with the daily distractions of social media, phones, constant email, higher-priority priorities etc and the need to minimize these in order to enjoy our free time.
The bad points are; it is very US orientated, many of the websites or products mentioned no longer work and they all point to Tim's website which are presumably referral links (pay-per-click is one of the things he covers in the books)

For less then £10 it was an enjoyable read and you have to credit Tim for what he does and has achieved.
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For the average Brit the American style of self-help books has a number of things that grate: the need to name-drop, the appeal to authority, the need to portray oneself as wildly successful now but previously being close to defeat. This book has these in spades. It is also in parts rather disjointed and the author is fundamentally someone many of us would wish to avoid (always assuming we could get through his maze of limited access measures). Additionally, the methodology by which one hits this status of New Rich is simply not attainable by any but a very small part of a very small part of the readership.

However, there is also a lot of value here if you can make it through another tale of the author's life and career.

Firstly, his model as to how you should prioritise yourself and how you should execute your tasks is a strong one. It applies whether you are an International Man Of Mystery like the author, or a wage-slave contemplating a list of tasks at Amalgamated Consolidated. It is essentially the Brian Tracy approach but you will benefit from it if you follow it.

Secondly, his approach to business planning is strong, essentially because he lacks the limitation of a vocation. Ferriss is in the business of business, to him it is a means to an end , and he therefore sees things clearly and dispassionately. He is thus uniquely fitted to a model of selling goods anonymously. You may be a true believer in what you do, and you may be delivering a service, but you can still benefit from him.
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on 5 November 2009
This was an interesting book, not for everyone and I think that is why there is such a diverse selection of reviews. To start with I enjoyed this book and I found a few ideas that are good and thought provoking and could be applied to my life but the more I read the more dissatisfied I became, I was judgemental and I thought it suspect morally in respect of manipulating employers and so forth, I wondered, if you could live with yourself with some of the stunts he allegedly pulls. Someone has mentioned the Chinese kick boxing championship where Ferris dehydrates himself to make a weight class several below his true weight and then re hydrates so that he is much heavier than his opponents and then succeeds not by skill, training or athleticism but by reading the rules and simply pushing people off the stand. Sorry but for me that would be a hollow victory. There is a lot about hiding from your boss and using out sourced PA services in India to do your menial tasks, prepare your presentations etc. while you bunk off. Like many of these lifestyle gurus I get the impression that Ferris makes more money by selling his brand of lifestyle to the vast majority who slog away in unfulfilled roles through his books and web sites than he does by any other means. It is all a bit fluffy in places, e.g. here's an example of how to make money. Become a minor expert, plagiarise a few books on a specialist subject, like, let's say growing tomatoes, write your own ebook interview a couple of tomato growing champs on the phone and create a sound file then sell both on your tomato growing web site or through an advert in tomato growers monthly better still advertise it first then create it. It would probably work but it seems to be all about promising a lot and then selling as little real value as you can get away with; a bit "Del Boy for my tastes I thought and I am not sure that we Europeans are as gullible as the Yanks, this all lead me to giving it 3 stars originally.

Now I prefaced this review with to "start with" and after I wrote my original review I reread the book and I found much more in it, at the very least it is actually a great resource tool for lots of things to do with changing your life. and it's value is that it makes you think, I realised that my initial reaction was due to my rigid mind and thought process, business school background, work hard and if that doesn't work then work harder and I started to realise that the problem I had with the book is not Ferris's approach to life but my own. So if you read this book as if it is about Tim Ferris, you've got it wrong, this book is about you. In conclusion then a book that should make you question your life, presumably you buy it because you are not happy with your current lot and this book will, if you let it provide you with an alternative view. It's value is in making you think about yourself and may enable you to perhaps take an out of the box review of your life. Ferris is a clever guy and ultimately this is a triumph of marketing but rather than getting upset about it I now realise that's just what Tim Ferris does. Recommended
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on 29 August 2008
I found this book great, not purely because of the actual content as a process to go through to reinvent your life, but more because it offeres such a different perspective and way of looking at life and people's priorities.

The process described is deceptively simple and challenging and there are some good points in there even if you don't make the whole jump. Plus there are some marevellous quotes along the way (I'm a sucker for quotations).

Reading this made me reevaluate how I prioritise work and life in general. I haven't gone the whole hog and joined the new rich (yet) but its already helped me with a more rounded view of the world and my part in it.
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on 9 May 2007
Timothy Ferriss offers the possibly of a 4 hour work week. At first when I read the title, I thought this was ridiculous. How can anyone work only four hours? So I had to buy this book just to see what Mr. Ferriss proposed.

Well he is asking us to not just dream of getting a million but to live the lifestyle of a millionaire where we rise above boring tasks and learn to live a life that allows time for fun, leisure, travel and other pursuits instead of being chained to an office all day. So what is his principle?

Well it's based on the Pareto principle or the 80-20 rule, which states that 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the effort, so instead of working hard, you learn to work effectively. Steven Covey also delves into similar ideas in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Covey encourages us to spend more time sharpening the saw because with sharp saw you can achieve more than working with a dull saw that yields minimal results even with great effort.

Ferriss gives a clear way to analyze where we can maximize our efforts and where we just waste time with needless tasks. For example, checking emails frequently is a low-priority activity and instead you may only need to check it once or twice a day. You can free your time to spend with people in both your personal and professional life.

Once you gain awareness into how to prioritize your activities, you can then eliminate the time-wasters and focus on the most effective use of your time. He recommends that you hire an assistant, find software or even outsource the activity and this a the controversial part of the book, since it gets into a number of ethical issues. Still I can appreciate his line of thinking that we can delegate the work in some way though I believe we must do so within clear ethical guidelines and with fair business practices.

I love this book for providing some sound advice on effective time-management strategies. I've also been reading "Nexus: A Neo Novel" and I recommend it for offering a powerful spiritual message of compassion and personal transformation. In "Nexus" Logan Andrews works hard to meet deadlines as a journalist but his emotional state leads to a breakdown. At a spiritual retreat, he is forced through many unusual experiences to re-evaluate his life. Both books are different and good in their own way.
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