The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich is primarily a lifestyle guide. Ferriss may minutely detail how to automate revenue streams—he flowcharts the process and recommends specific companies to contact—but primarily he teaches an attitude that could be described as a mix of confidence and entitlement. This is how he recommends a “NR” or “New Rich” respond to a difficult customer:
Customer: What the &#@$? I ordered two cases and they arrived two days late?
Any NR—in this case, me: I will kill you. Be afraid, be very afraid.
(I have also seen Ferriss interviewed by Neil Strauss, author of The Game: Undercover in the Secret Society of Pick-up Artists. The attitude Ferriss recommends for the “NR” resembles Strauss’s vision of the Pick-up Artist (“PUA”). The 4-Hour Workweek applies Game social dynamics to office life.) Ferriss will recommend getting away with whatever you can—“What gets measured gets managed,” he says, quoting Peter Drucker—and working not efficiently but effectively.

In other words, work smarter. If “80% of the outputs come from 20% of the inputs” (Pareto’s famous Law), it is neither necessary nor ideal to spend resources getting outputs to 100%. One’s goal should be simply to tip the 80/20 ratio as high possible. If 90% of sales come from interactions with 10% of customers, then time is being used effectively. Ferriss advocates aggressive prioritization: “Focus on the important few [tasks] and ignore the rest.” He never reads the news.

Ferriss also explains how to start up a quick online retail business. He walks the reader through conceiving a product, testing it before production, advertising on the web and in print, and finally setting up automatic customer service and shipping procedures. Ferriss went through the process with his company, BrainQUICKEN, LLC, and he is able to recommend specific services and websites.

Ferriss is this thorough throughout his entire book. At times he may champion the free market to an almost radical extent—are there be ethical considerations in using Indian data miners to read email?—but his advice is specific enough to be applied by entrepreneurs and office dwellers alike (I plan to recommend it to Richard Nash, my mentor and the CEO of start-up Cursor and Red Lemonade). Ferriss’s aims to streamline personal and professional life, and he is right to point out that in a information-era economy, the most important resources are time and mobility.