I’m not going to lie, Mr. Ferriss is kind of a smart-ass. However, he knew what he was doing when he wrote The 4-Hour Workweek. I mean the subtitle alone is enough to get you to pick up the book (“Escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich”). It just makes you curious even though I got some clear (and correct) signals near the beginning that this is a book oriented more toward young folks burning out on time- and energy-intensive corporate jobs.
What I liked most about The 4-Hour Workweek was almost all within the first hundred pages of reading. Not that I didn’t like the rest of the book, but it felt less relevant when it got into the nitty-gritty of planning your escape route from corporate drudgery. The first few chapters are all about visioning and thinking big (as well as alternatively) about your work life. Basically Ferriss is telling us to be creative about our thinking on what is “necessary” to succeed and do a good job at your work. And he helps with an important mind shift away from thinking about the money you make and more toward maintaining an adequate amount of money that you then use along with your biggest resource, time, to make the most of your life.
However, while I liked his framing, and Ferriss definitely seems quite happy with his “4-Hour Workweek”, I can’t help but wonder how the folks who have to work with him feel. I mean, here’s someone who refuses to have meetings (yep, pretty much at all), answers phone calls with emails, and only checks email once a week. If I had to work with him that would drive me crazy. As would the fact that I’d always be dealing with his horde of virtual assistants based halfway around the world who he pays to do his work, rather than Ferriss himself.
I can’t really see many of his specific suggestions being anything I would want to implement in my own work life, and something about the attitude of using non-Western countries as platforms for “mini-retirements” and off-shoring personal work left me a bit sour — I’m sure Ferriss spends very little time thinking about privilege and what it means to have even a basic income and an American passport. His idea of “hitting rock bottom” means that you could always take out a second mortgage on the house you own or cash out some retirement savings, but a lot of people are nowhere near that high when they hit their bottom.
Basically he gets positive points for creativity and minus points for self-centeredness. But if you’re approaching it for a few productivity tips or a visioning framework it’s a worthwhile read.