Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Book Review: The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.

Timothy Ferriss has accomplished much.

He has:

1. Set Guinness world record in tango;

2. Won the national Chinese kickboxing championship;

3. Acted on hit TV series in China and Hong Kong;

4. Lectured at Princeton in entrepreneurship; and

5. Written a best-selling (no. 33 on Amazon today) book on his first try. (p. 13.)

All in 29 years, among many other things.

How did/does he do it?

He doesn't work 9-5.

He rejects this "wage-slave" lifestyle as a social convention serving no real purpose. Worse, he indicts the practice as an exercise of the Deferred-Life Plan-taking a page from Randy Komisar's The Monk and the Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur (reviewed here:

Instead, Ferriss speaks of time and mobility as currencies that must be counted in life's equation. "The New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility." (p. 7.) "The objective is to create freedom of time and place and use both however you want." (p. 3; emphasis in original.)

Ferriss argues that high wage earners are actually poor if they have no time or mobility. He contrasts Deferrers (of the Deferred-Life Plan infamy) to the New Rich thusly: While Deferrer's objective is "[t]o have more," the New Rich desire "[t]o have more quality and less clutter. To have huge financial reserves but recognize that most material wants are justifications for spending time on the things that don't really matter, including buying things and preparing to buy things. You spent two weeks negotiating your new Infinity with the dealership and got $10,000 off? That's great. Does your life have a purpose? Are you contributing anything useful to this world or just shuffling papers, banging on a keyboard, and coming home to a drunken existence on the weekends?" (p. 23.)

"Huge financial reserves," but spending your time as you wish. Sounds great. How does Ferriss connect these dots? He doesn't; he leaves it to you. Well, not entirely. He provides some guidance. He suggests you hire one or more virtual assistants--from India preferably--to do your work. (p. 120.)

Likewise, Ferriss suggests you invent a product, which you have other people manufacture and sell while you check your bank balances from exotic locales around the globe as you exploit currency differences. This abstract advice is akin to the following golden wisdom I'll impart on this blog just for reading: create a mode of transportation that can traverse the United States in an hour, is powered by the sun and spews no pollution, and costs no more than a Kia to manufacture. You will, friendly blog reader, join the ranks of the New Rich. The reality, of course, is much more difficult.

Ferriss does provide valuable insights into expanding one's perspective about work. His recommendation about each individual being an entrepreneur of sorts is wise. The more value a person provides the customer, client, or employer, the more leverage that person has to negotiate currencies of all types in return. These currencies can be paid in time, mobility and choices to help fulfill one's purpose, which can be as a better parent, spouse, citizen, neighbor, Christ-follower or whatever.

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