Timothy Ferriss, author of The Four-Hour WorkweekI’ve had my eye on Tim Ferriss for 2-3 months now. When I read a bit about the concept of his forthcoming book, something about it got my attention. I should begin by saying that I don’t generally buy a lot of self-help or get-rich-quick books. But something about this guy appealed to me. When the audio book came out (my preferred method for literature consumption), there were some issues with it on iTunes…many people were complaining that it wouldn’t play on their iPods. So I waited a bit to buy it, but finally broke down and did so. It’s about 9 hours of material, which I devoured in a 24-hour period. I believe that there’s some important info in this book that plays into some things I’ve believed for some time.

Backstory: Being completely self-employed for the last 6 years, I get to view the “work-a-day” world from a bit of a unique perspective. As I’ve watched companies transform and fail in recent years…resulting in massive layoffs…I’ve known that some change was coming. Watching huge companies worm their way out of paying health/retirement benefits for lifetime employees…I knew that was important, too. And then, of course…there’s the internet. Enough said about that. It’s become clear to me that there is a huge sea change going on now…I believe that it will result in a backlash against many traditional employers…as employees decide they want more out of their lives than working 40, 50, 60, or 70 hours a week. I picked up a few interesting perspectives from Robert Kioysaki’s “Rich Dad” books…mainly, that it was important to be more in control of your own financial destiny. However, his big pitch is for real estate investment…flipping houses, rental property managment, etc. I have no stomach for that.

So along comes Mr. Ferriss. And I must say…this book has challenged me more directly than anything I’ve read in years. There’s way too much for me to cover in the space of a blog post. This book deserves your full attention. But let me hit some of the high points:

1) One of the reasons that I don’t read this type of book often is their discussion of how to “get rich” and live a “life of luxury”. This kind of language is very off-putting for me on a couple levels. First of all, I have never desired riches. I’ve known plenty of wealthy people in my life. They were just about like everyone else…their worries were just bigger and more expensive. That seems a hollow goal. Second, as a Christian, while I have no issue with people with a lot of money, the idea of pursuing riches is presented in the Bible as a distraction and a barrier to allowing God to connect with others through your life. So, when even Ferriss uses terms like “the new rich” and talks about freeing yourself up so you can go indulge your passions…my guard goes up. But he eventually moves past this…and even deals with selfishness as a lousy motivation to live.

2) He talks about stripping away that which isn’t profitable in your life. Of course, there are many kinds of profit (not just financial)…friends, relationships, time and experiences among them. But the concept is good. These things that hold us back…that are blocking us in our lives. We need to find a way to challenge those and eliminate them from our lives, if possible.

3) He talks about NOT waiting for retirement at the end of a life of drudgery at work. He says that we need to consider enjoy our lives now while we have the youth and energy to do so. I like this concept…especially as I don’t even see myself retiring. He illustrates this concept by describing his lifestyle now…he takes 3-4 “mini-retirements” a year…moves to another country, takes lessons from world-class instructors in language and all sorts of skills. I can only imagine that he’s not married…I don’t think he’ll find that this will mix well with a wife and kids, who need SOME semblance of stability and permanence. But, that’s up to him to work out. The whole travel thing doesn’t interest me much, but it does sound interesting to have the time to learn from the best in the world.

4) Especially as I get older, I continue to talk often with my friends about the need to STOP trading hours of our time for dollars…and look for ways to create products and services that don’t require our constant attention to bring in an income stream, even if it’s rather small. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and it’s changed my life. I continue to do so today. Ferriss definitely builds onto this concept by talking about “outsourcing your life”…i.e., finding people who are able, willing and content to do the things you don’t want to do for a relatively small wage compared to your income level (maybe $4-5 bucks an hour). Not everyone is insulted by wages like that. Many people will gladly take that work. Many of them, of course, are overseas. I’m all for the American economy. But when there’s work here that doesn’t get done because people don’t want to take the work and perform it in an ethical manner because they are too busy out there trying to “get theirs”…it’s time to look elsewhere. Ferriss deals with this outsourcing issue in depth…he tells you where to look, how to shop, describes the need to expect to fail a time or two…but pressing on until you find the right “virtual assistant” in different areas of your life.

5) He also talks about learning to delegate…pushing decision-making downward…building companies that can run themselves…which you then own, but with which you don’t need to be involved often. And then, taking that freedom to go and start another one…which can provide more quality services…employ more people, etc.

So, to me…this is very much the American “spirit of ingenuity” applied in a new way. I have begun to define projects over the past two weeks and have already outsourced several of them. Some to India…and some as far away as the great state of Wisconsin! You never know what you’ll find.

If you are an energetic and creative person…if you don’t want to spend your life working for others…if you want to pursue freedom of time…if you want to make time to learn and grow in new ways, learning to further stimulation of your own creativity…you owe it to yourself to read (or listen to) this book. (climbs down off soapbox)