June 9, 2011

GUEST POST: Get Rich Without Trying

The following guest review was written by Unpleasantly Surprised, a gentleman scholar and respiration enthusiast.

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

This book was written by: Tim Ferriss, a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, kickboxer, writer, health guru, polyglot, lifestyle designer, philosopher, tango dancer, blogger, horse archer, angel investor, and lifehacker.

What is in this book: Outsourcing. Ferriss recommends using the developing world to outsource your work away. He maintains that "getting a remote personal assistant is a huge departure point and marks the moment that you learn to give orders and be commander instead of commanded"(p. 119). It may have occurred to you to ask how much of your white-collar job is actually outsourceable. Ferriss responds, "It's a good question, but I don't want to answer it. I want to watch Family Guy" (p. 123), and proceeds to outsource this section of the book to two overseas workers. "The truth be told, it's a hell of a lot of work writing about not working. Ritika of Brickwork and Venky of YMII are more than capable of writing this section"(p. 123). However, he does address what to do if your boss is reluctant to keep you on the payroll while you dump your work on the developing world: "Learn to imitate any good child: 'Just this once! Please!!! I promise I’ll do X!' Parents fall for it because kids help adults to fool themselves. It works with bosses, suppliers, customers, and the rest of the world, too"(p.101).

What is not in this book: The examined life. Tim Ferriss recommends that you "develop and maintain a low-information diet"(p. 83), because "most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence"(p.83). He counsels his readers that "information is useless if it is not applied to something important or if you will forget it before you have a chance to apply it"(p. 88). For developmental reading, Ferriss states, "I consume a maximum of one-third of one industry magazine (Response magazine) and one business magazine (Inc.) per month, for a grand total of approximately four hours"(p. 84).

Would you recommend this book to business majors? Most definitely. In college, Ferriss mastered the technique of whining his way to academic excellence. He explains, "If I received anything less than an A on the first paper or non-multiple-choice test in a given class, I would bring 2–3 hours of questions to the grader’s office hours and not leave until the other had answered them all or stopped out of exhaustion"(p. 91). This ensured that "the grader would think long and hard about ever giving me less than an A"(p.91).

Would you recommend this book to someone who wins fighting games by using the same cheap ring-out move over and over? Yes. Tim Ferriss used this strategy in real life to win the gold medal at the Chinese National Kickboxing Championship. The distinction was earned by "using dehydration techniques [...] I lost 28 pounds in 18 hours, weighed in at 165 pounds, and then hyperhydrated back to 193 pounds"(p. 29), and manipulating the rule that, "if one combatant fell off the elevated platform three times in a single round, his opponent won by default. I decided to use this technicality as my principal technique and push people off"(p. 30). Ferriss laments that "it's hard to fight someone from three weight classes above you. Poor little guys"(p. 30).

What was interesting about this book? The Amazon reviews. Currently this book has 1,550 five-star reviews. As a point of comparison, Crime and Punishment has 425 reviews of the same rating. Thanks to the wonders of cheap Indian labor, Tim Ferriss may have engineered the most extensive astroturfing campaign in the history of the internet.

The Four-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss (Crown Archetype, 2009, ISBN 9780307465351)

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