The 4-Hour Work Week
Why I read this book?
Life as an international jet setting full stack developer is not easy. There is a lot of time spent in arrival and departure lounges of airports and aeroplanes. As romantic as this sounds there is a lot of time killing that needs to happen and reading is in my opinion the best way to kill those hours.-com
As it happens I was on one of those trips where there was time to be killed while hanging around in no mans land in some international airport, I can't even remember where! I had just finished a book on the flight and I didn't feel like firing up the laptop to write one of those departure lounge blues blog posts.
So I found myself in a bookshop perusing the delights on offer. Generally those places seem to only cater for some best seller lists, trashy romance reads or self improvement books. The former not being generally in my genre I was left to the self improvement section!
I noticed both 4 Hour Work Week and the 12 Week Year on the shelf and thought to myself now if I could work only 4 hours a week for 12 week years, then maybe I could retire quicker. This has gotta be good!
Well sadly, like most good books both of these books have incredibly bad titles! However, the content is pretty good. Once you work your way through the cruft. The old sorting the wheat from the chaff routine.
It turns out that, that I had already "designed my lifestyle" according to the book main teachings i.e. I predominantly work from home and as such I already have the opportunity to work from anywhere and do tend to do so.
I had previously been inspired by ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever to do so. However, what I hadn't previously considered was developing alternate revenue streams in conjunction with my main source of income.
What I learned from book
I know this might sound strange coming from someone who has been self employed and entrepreneurial for most of adult of life. In fact, I think all told I have only ever had two Permanent Jobs in my whole career. The rest of the time I have either had my own businesses, contracting, freelancing or found some other way to hustle money!
During reflection I realised, like Tim Ferris, I grew up with an instinctive, acute resentment of authority and hierarchical structures. It is still the most defining characteristic of my personality, but I have learned to control the resentment and anger as I have matured. Although at heart I am still a total anarchist!
Coming up with business ideas and making them work, has never been my problem. In many ways that has always been part of my genetic make up. A gift I can only associate with my father, who himself never had a "real job" and always had his own businesses.
The trouble with most of my businesses, is that they have always required huge amounts of effort on my part to get going. Even when the business became successful, I was never able to pull myself away from it, a business just becomes a piece of you and emotionally and physically you just can't detach yourself from it!
I found the some of the concepts proposed in the book quite interesting. I have always been a big proponent of the work to live not live to work philosophy, but unfortunately I haven't always got the balance right. I have always found myself either trying to work all hours god provides or chillaxing the hardest way possible,
One has to bear in mind that this book doesn't offer you the road map of how to set up a business that you can run with just 4 hours work a week. No!, it is just a title to suggest that once you have a successful business up and runing that you should have it set up that you only need to have the lightest steer on it.
After starting and running businesses myself, I know this is a lot easier said than it is done. If you have ever had a business of your own, you'll know that there is always something more to do. The work never ends - well maybe only when the customers stop paying, but that is a whole different story.
To break the core tenants of the book down, in a nutshell, it is about ensuring you automate as much as you can and ensure you don't get bogged in the unimportant busy work tasks!
In reality it's about valuing your time above all else, and you should own the business, not the other way round.
What I did not like about this book
Probably one of my biggest objections to this book, is that for the most part it does feel a lot like a narcissistic journal of sorts, in that much of this book seems to be about Ferriss bragging about what he has achieved rather than actually providing much value and real explanation about how to go about it.
That being said, that is pretty much all the Self-Help genre books tend to go. The all seem to be derived and based on the authors Brownian motion journey, then once they finally achieve something they try to join the dots of the journey in order to highlight the good parts.
There is also a certain amount of name dropping etc., which in some contexts of the book seems to work, but in others it just seems that Ferriss likes to boast about who he met on his way.
Who should read this book
This book should be complusory reading for anyone who would like to open their minds to alternative approaches to making a living.
You don't have to be a billionaire to live like one. You also don't need to give up working to be a beach bum. All these things are possible if you just think laterally.
The thing to keep in mind, is that you will never start any meaningful business without a huge monumental effort up front, but it's also important to remember that you don't need to always put in huge monumental efforts everyday just to keep your business runing.
The 4 hour work week, is primarily about and offers a different viewpoint on starting and running businesses. It's not an overnite millionaire recipe book.
In my opinion, the 4 hour Work is a perfect companion read with The $100 Startup: Fire Your Boss, Do What You Love and Work Better To Live More
The book does offer you a framework and a process on how to think and plan your new venture.
Why I recommend this book
Personally I find this book a great help in grounding some of my business ideas. I have over the years re-read this book on several occassions and have found that it has helped me to re-think several ideas.
I have just completed re-reading this book yet again as we head into 2019 and I am working on another start-up, and have yet again re-evaluated some working practices.
We don't all need to build billion dollar companies, in fact I never want to have one. I've had and been involved in several million pound companies and in hindsight they've never really been that much fun.
It's worth taking the time to reassess your business and think laterally about working on your business, this book will help you with that process and serve to provide you with the motivation to do so!