Friday, July 3, 2015

The 4-Hour Workweek - book review


I have mixed feelings about recommending The 4-Hour Workweek. On one hand there are lots of great ideas in this book for living the lifestyle of your dreams, however I have some misgivings about some of the suggestions and methods described in the book.

Let me start with a few of the things that just don't sit well with me:

*I don't like the author - I think he comes off as arrogant and he does things that are "not quite" unethical but certainly push the limit. For example, when he won a kickboxing championship it was because he studied the rules and realized if he pushed his opponent off the platform three times he would win. He also used extreme methods to lose weight in one day, then put the weight back on before the next day's match, so that he was competing with lighter weight opponents. (I realize these things go on in sports quite a bit, but I still think they are pushing the line.)

*Also, the author was already making very good money ($40,000/month according to him) when he began implementing the systems in this book, automating much of his business, and living his dream life.

*His suggestion "don't ask permission, ask forgiveness" implies something wrong has been done (otherwise why would you need forgiveness), but that doesn't concern him if it leads to the ultimate goal of finding freedom to live life on your own terms.

*He recommends becoming "an expert" in your field by joining the right organizations, speaking for free, and reading books. Then you can state on your website (or promotional materials) that you are a member of such&such organization and are a regular speaker at such&such event/university/etc . . . thus you are "an expert."

*The idea of  "geoarbitrage" (leveling global pricing and currency differences for profit or lifestyle purposes) is not new but is heavily advocated in the book. This is not so much a negative, but it was coupled with notes on how to gain income tax exemptions while enjoying luxuries at a much lower cost - a win/win both ways . . . except for the country (that's not getting those tax dollars) that allows you all that freedom in the first place.

On the positive side, there were some really good takeaways from the book:

*I love the idea of not deferring "retirement living" until the end of your career but rather enjoying travel and other activities now, even if only on a short-term or "mini-retirement" type vacation. The idea is not to make retirement the goal, but rather to make the desired lifestyle the goal.

*The suggestion to think about the life you want to have and to create a list of what your life would like if you could do whatever you wanted is a good exercise for clarifying what you're working toward.

*When making decisions, I like the idea of asking "what is the worst thing that can happen" and "what steps you could to take if that thing happened" is a great way to help determine whether or not to pursue a particular course of action.

*The book is divided into sections based on a progression of steps (the DEAL) that lead to a richer life:
Definition - Define what you want.
Elimination - Eliminate unnecessary tasks & interruptions.
Automation - Automate as many routines and tasks as possible.
Liberation - Gain freedom over your own time through owning your own company or possibly negotiating to work remotely.

I like how Amy Tan's review sums up by noting that after reading the book and taking a sabbatical, she "returned to a more efficient work/life balance in general." I think that's a great take-away from the book.

Have you read this book? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

1 comment:

Sian said...

I haven't read this; but I very much appreciate your honest review. I just know I would share your uneasiness