Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Review: The 4-Hour Workweek

I recently finished reading The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich and I have to say I have very mixed feelings about it.

I had the book recommended to me by a couple friends, and by the end of the first chapter it had me questioning whether those friends really had their heads on straight. Nevertheless, I pounded through it and found a few redeeming benefits in later chapters.

At it's worst, the book is all the snake oil slick of a late night get-rich-quick infomercial. The author rambles on about how he's taken the time out from motorcycle racing down the Andes and Scuba diving under the polar ice cap to bestow upon you the wisdom that let you get rich working only an hour a week, just like Bob, Sue, and other anonymous success stories.

If you can get past this, and I almost didn't, the book then has the added flaw of trying to do too much. It's a personal productivity self-improvement book, a guide to starting your own low-maintenance business, a lifestyle guide, and a travel book to boot.

I'd dismiss it entirely, but there are some redeeming gems hidden within the pages here. The personal productivity part is basic 80/20 rule and goal setting, but has some gems about outsourcing and on different ways in looking at work-life balance and measuring 'wealth'. The business how-to is basic "you too can make riches on the internet" fare, but with a very useful set of links to contract manufacturers, 3rd party support companies, etc. Similarly, there are a few gems in the last section.

Also the question of the author's ethics comes into play. For example, some parts of the business section of the book speak to developing real product, gauging market demand for it, etc. Then in other parts he outlines how to pass yourself off as an expert on anything by reading the top few books on the subject and sprinkling in a pinch of bravado. Short leap from there to fraud, in my book. (Then again, I'm a blogger, so I guess I'm a little guilty of the 'unqualified expert' sin by definition).

Do I recommend the book? No. I will say that if you looking to start your own business or if any of the other topics he covers sound interesting to you, you may find a few nuggets of wealth in here, but it's not optimal time use to scan through this book to get it. At the very least, scan quickly and read only the parts you think matter. The rest of the filler you can get of network TV at 2 AM next time you have insomnia.


Anonymous said...

I actually put the book back on the shelf angry at myself for believing that such a get rich quick scheme could exist. In the end though, I found it the same mixed bag that you did.

I still find Tim's blog worth following. It's updated at a reasonable pace, and his asides into Seneca or other great authors are fun even if you aren't interested in his business advice.


Stop Praying said...

If you like Tim's book you should also read: "STOP PRAYING"

STOP PRAYING is written to "help individuals who are fed up with a normal, go nowhere life," consists of a 21 day challenge--or discipline--meant to get the reader moving in a new direction, and quickly. It poses the question, "Do you think an almighty god would be happy if you spent all of your time sitting around, praying or kneeling? No, he would say that he gave you life and would ask what you did with it."

Like Rich Dad, Poor Dad; What Color is Your Parachute; The One-Minute Manager and Life’s Little Instruction Book, STOP PRAYING is an innovative and original book. And just like those titles, it is changes the lives of the people who read it.