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Hi everybody,
big hype going on around this book... a NY Times No.1 bestseller.

I just finished reading it and would love to get a discussion going about it.
While the title implies that the book is about making enough money to live the life of the "new rich", a big part of the book provides a "how to be more effective"-guide.

Topics covered that I think could be interesting for managers:

[b]- outsourcing work to "virtual assistants"; how to give effective instructions[/b]

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/ferriss-book-outsourcing.htm

[b]- automating online businesses[/b]

[b]- 80 / 20 rule: how to find out which 20% of your work get 80% of the results[/b]

[b]- in his blog there's an interview in which he talks about conncting his principles with GTD (Getting Things Done)[/b]

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2007/06/04/robert-scoble-interviews...

I find Ferriss to be an interesting personality... he seems to get the task-related things done like a "high C", socializes like a "high I" (in the interview he talks about contacting bloggers "offline" and how this made his book take off) - uses GTD, cites Drucker and is playing this online world like Tiger Woods plays the golf course.

Thanks,
Marc

marcmozart's picture

Hello?? None of you managers bought the book? Come on... is it so hard to admit that we love being managers so much that we resist reading a book thats called "The 4-hour Workweek"

...just joking, it's a great read, fantastic "how to outsource"-guide and much more!

Cheers,
Marc

cwatine's picture

Marc,

I have so many books to read before arriving to this one, in my list ... Maybe I did things in the wrong order ... I should have read it and then I would have learned how to gain plenty of time to ... read it. :wink:

More seriously ... Is it that good ?

I must say the hype around the book and on the web site doesnt encourage me to get it. It looks like an amalgame of old tricks mixed with some Drucker stuff, "the world is flat", some diet, etc. to make you earn plenty of money, looking like a rockstar, without working or building anything ...

I don't know ... Is this life ?

Best regards,

Cédric.

wendii's picture

Marc,

I got two thirds of the way through before I got off my backside and did something.

Tim is a little bit in-your-face entrepreneur but not as much as some. He did make me think about what I do, how I do it and why differently. My therapist says that the awareness is the first step :-) For example today, I got about an hour's work done in 8 hours. If I could have stopped the faffing, socializing and pointless 2 hour meeting I could have done more important things. And yes, it was me that started the time managment thread with a confession about my ineptitude. Some lessons just don't stick!

I'm not about to cut out the socialising.. although cutting down would be good, but faffing I can definately do less.

For me, it's come at a moment when I'm feeling quite introspective and thinking about the big picture anyway, and it's given me an extreme example. I probably won't go that far, but I might go further than I would have on my own.

Cedric, if you don't have time to read there's an hour's video on Robert Scoble's site http://scobleizer.com/?s=ferriss and a downloadable mp3 of his presentation at SXSW at http://audio.sxsw.com/podcast/interactive/panel/2007/SXSW07.INT.20070312... I listened to both a couple of times before I was convinced to read the book. Of course, if I finish it, I could lend it to you :-)

Merlin Mann is also asking people to feedback on any outsourcing they've done (one of Tim's BIG IDEAS) and the results on his blog: http://www.43folders.com/

Wendii

marcmozart's picture

Hi Cédric,
you got a very good point there and Tim's marketing works great, doesn't it? Personally I got some great bits of inspiration out of the book and I igonored other stuff (like the first 70 pages).

Wendii,
it can be depressing when you get 1 hour's work done in 8 hours. Being self-employed that could mean getting only paid 1 hour as well!
I started this last week (I know it's been discussed somewhere here):
http://davidseah.com/tools/ett/alpha/
I used the printed version, not the online tool, but kept that URL open for the alarm to remind me to fill out the sheet every 15 min.
So it's basically a "Drucker-analysis", right? Got 5 hours of work done the first day (of which 2,5 h where one-on-ones). Next day I worked til three in the morning, got 10 hours of work on one of my two priorities done (bring on that Grammy LoL).

Also, thanks for the links. Wasn't aware that 43 Folders picked up the "outsourcing" topic.

Keep up the discussion (and I will report back about my outsourcing experiences)!

Marc

cwatine's picture

Hi there,

Thank you Mark for pushing me to read this book.

I finished the book.

And ... It is not as bad as I thought, I must admit.

I don't like the general "selfish philosophy" in it : it sounds like "me, me, me and me" ... I don't like the New Rich expression. I don't like the idea of taking advantage of the "stupid" hard working people". I can't believe you can have a business working on "auto-control". I don't like the idea of : no meeting, no discussion, only short Emails ... In fact : no management.

But there are some very true things in it and I like to read controversial ideas to pick what I can use in my own life.

Examples :

- I like this question "if you had a heart attack and had to reduce your working time to 4 hours per day, what would you keep doing ?" ; "If it was 4 hours per week, what would you keep ?"
- arent you micromanaging your company because you feel you have to spend 9 hours at the office ?
- use the 20/80 pareto rule in everything you do (just do the 20% actions that provide 80% results, keep contact with the 20% customers that give you 80% profit, stop working with the 20% customers that give you 80% of troubles, etc.)
- NEVER read Emails before 11 o'clock
- Don't go to the office without a good reason
- Choose only 2 great things to do in your day
- Give more responsibilities to your people ("don't call me for every problem you have with a customer ... If it cost less that 1.000 Euros, make the decision")
- Control your company from the outside
- If you reduce your working time, you will be able to learn 2 more languages, spend quality time with your friends, travel more, etc.

... And many other ideas that make me reconsider many many things : Am i not micromanaging ? What would happen if I just showed up for 2 days in the week ? What can I automate in my company ? What can I delegate more ?

So I definitely did not loose my time by reading this book. I may even gain time because I read it !

Regards,

Cédric.

tjordan's picture

Good if you're looking for a read that makes you rethink the way you go about your working life and what potential there may be to do things more effectively and spend more time doing what you love but...
I agree with wendii - the me, me, me approach is offputting. It borders on dishonesty. Somewhere in moral philosophy is the "if everyone in the world did things this way, would the world still work / be a good place to live" principal... I'm not so sure.
Having said that I read it and got at least three good ideas out of it (Mark's H's test I think?)
Trent

Mark's picture

My take on the book is generally negative. There are some good ideas, but I'm with many of you regarding the approach - too selfish for my taste.

My test of "would it work in reality"...it didn't pass as often as I'd like to be able to recommend it.

Mark

cwatine's picture

I would have been surprised if you said you liked it ! Tom Ferris has a vision of the management which is rather ... limited ! His puropose is to avoid any contact or conversation that isn't profitable for him (and only him).
It seems that his notion of friendiness also follows this definition.

cwatine's picture

I realize that my last comment may be a little hard ... the book is not that bad. it is a good source if you want to find a way to save time.

The only thing is my saving of time of some tasks would be reinvested in improving and increasing my communication to my teams, not on taking a permanent vacation !

For example, after reading this book, I have decided not to automatically go to te office everyday. I now only go there if I have a good reason - meeting (internal and external)

Why ?

- because my visits to the company are now totall focussed on relations and people (face to face, O3, meetings, work sessions)
- if I am everyday there, I may be tempted to micromanage my manager
- I am much more efficient at desk work when in my office home

spazm's picture

[quote="marcmozart"]
Wendii,
it can be depressing when you get 1 hour's work done in 8 hours. Being self-employed that could mean getting only paid 1 hour as well!
I started this last week (I know it's been discussed somewhere here):
http://davidseah.com/tools/ett/alpha/
I used the printed version, not the online tool, but kept that URL open for the alarm to remind me to fill out the sheet every 15 min.
So it's basically a "Drucker-analysis", right? Got 5 hours of work done the first day (of which 2,5 h where one-on-ones).[/quote]

Thanks for the reminder of the printable CEO series. The bubbles are fun to fill in. This seems like a good week to watch, since I'm feeling totally nonenergized.

Mindful of my lack of mindfulness. it's a start.

peace,
Andrew

AManagerTool's picture

I just finished the book. While Mr. Ferris has brought several new ideas to my mind I feel kind of slimey after reading it. He seems to border upon being a bit of a scam artist. Figuring out how to shortcut is not really innovative. I felt a little oooogie when reading about how he won that karate or whatever it was championship. I felt kind of greasy listening to him describe how to get out of working at the office. The reason his book got so popular so fast is by using a particular internet viral marketing scheme. While I think he has some good ideas for using the Pareto principal, they are nothing new. If this was the 1890's, Mr. Ferris would probably be selling tonic's out of a wagon and marrying rich folk's daughters for money. Over all, I think he is a bit selfish and trashy.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

I've not read this book yet (got plenty of other books to get through first, I'm only up to page 120 of "The Effective Executive" then there's "Leadership is not a bowler hat", "The Practice of Management", "The Games People Play", "The World is Flat" and "Freakonomics" by which time Mark will probably have published his book) but as I recall it did get aq quite positive review in HBR a few months back.

Stephen

MattJBeckwith's picture

[quote="AManagerTool"]I just finished the book. While Mr. Ferris has brought several new ideas to my mind I feel kind of slimey after reading it.[/quote]
I picked up the book recently (even I am susceptible to the hype machine!) but couldn't bring myself to finish it. I wasn't sure just how to explain my feeling for the book until I read this thread. I, too, felt the same way as you do.

Like a bad movie I wish I'd never seen.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

In case anyone is interested, Mr Ferris gave an interview to Profit magazine: http://www.oracle.com/profit/exec/110507_toolkit.html?msgid=6224271

Stephen

JorrianGelink's picture

I have not read the book, have not even heard of it until now actually.

Please correct me if I'm wrong here, this may determine whether you should read the book and follow it or not depending on if you believe in what I state here.

[b]Do I believe in being effective and efficient? Of course. EVERYONE [/b]does. Who would ever come to you and say "Well I enjoy not being effective and efficient at work, that's my purpose at work"

Now from the comments I read here it looks like the book makes us more effective and efficient which is fantastic.

You want to be efficient and effective so you can free more time to be more efficient and effective.

The question of the day is:

What should you do and what is the right thing to do?

From the Profit Magazine article:

[quote]
PROFIT: A lot of your advice—like saying that you only have a minute to talk with someone by phone, or answering e-mail only twice a day—may seem rude to coworkers. Should you be worried about the impression you're making?

FERRISS: (end paragraph)...But resistance isn't difficult to overcome if you expect it and plan for it. It's generally very easy to get people to embrace these approaches once you demonstrate a measurable increase in results. [/quote]

Let's pretend we follow what has been described here and we were the #1 Company in our class.

If you feel that you did it unethically and had to negative emotionally impact [b]ANYONE [/b]to get there, I promise you [b]you won't be happy that you hit #1[/b] and continue what you're doing.

You won't stay #1 long because when you get promoted, those leaders below you that got shot in the face because you "wanted to be more effective and the result would motivate others to behave this way who cares how others perceive you because it's the end result number that counts" won't [b]WANT [/b]to move up.

I'm not bashing the book because I have not read it and I'm sorry for writing so much, it helps conglomerate my ideas together to share them vocally with others.

If I'm wrong and the book doesn't do this, I'll read it. If it does feel similar to the scenario I've stated I won't and save the time to read a different book. That's how I become more efficient and effective ;).

cwatine's picture

You know what?
I re-read the book during my one-week lay off in Spain last week, French version this time.
Why?
Because I could not put in application what I said on page 1 of this thread ...

Of course Ferris is extreme and most of his examples are unrealistic and dangerous. A company could not work if all its employees would completely apply all of those principles
I still say there are ideas in this book that a manager should really give a thought about.
Two of them are especially powerful.

1. Retirement : Ferris says that putting our retirement period at the end of our life (after our working period) is stupid.

Case 1 : you don't like your job and so, retirement is a kind of reward. You will get it too late and will not enjoy it ... This bad working life will have taken its toll on you
Case 2 : you love your job and retirement will be a nightmare. Haven't you seen lots of people getting old very quickly as soon as they are nomore working ?

So his idea is to stop thinking this way. See you life globally, as an alternance of working times and mini-retirement. I can't agree more on that.
If you can do it, take mini-retirements. It will help you have a sane working life. This is how your brain works. To work at its best : it needs to alternate very intense periods with calm periods.
If you can't, something is wrong. Try to find solutions. And it leads us to the next point.

2. Strive to always reduce your working time. Forget about the fact the work time is 8 hours per day and 5 days per week.

While I don't agree with the all the WAYS to achieve it, I agree with the principles. I think a company manager should always think this way. This is the best way to force delegation and fight against the tendency to take work from your directs. If you are passionate with your job, it will naturally eat ALL your time.
I am trying not to go to the office everyday. And when I go, I try to spend just the 2 first hours on my ONLY goal for the day (which is always linked to a long term goal). The rest of the day in for communication with my team, main customers and main suppliers.

A lots of other ideas from Ferris are just not appealing to me. For example, the "pure owner" mentality. He sees a company just as a money provider that finances his passions (mini retirement). Just very dangerous. Impossible to just stay alive on a competitive market with this mentality ...

jhack's picture

Nice summary, Cedric. Thank you.

John

JorrianGelink's picture

Awesome summary thank you, I have SO many books I am trying to get through and I just wanted to really make sure I can add this one to the list which I shall based on what you wrote cedwat just to check it out (plus I don't like pre-complaining about a book I haven't read and want to check it out)

cwatine's picture

Jorrian-

I don't know your position. I feel Ferris' advices are far easier to put in application if you are your own boss...

A book I would put on your list would be : "Kiss theory good bye". I think this is a mine for managers. Have you read it?
I posted a thread about it here. This book stays on my desk (near the Horstman laws I got from the MT European conference, by the way!)

Regards,

Cédric.

JorrianGelink's picture

Definitely have not read it yet, I'll put it on my "waiting list" as I have to get through all the MT Recommended Books first :). Currently on Rites of Passage...

Your wisdom is appreciated Cédric. :).

HMac's picture

[quote="JorrianGelink"]Currently on Rites of Passage...[/quote]

Jorrian: I hope you'll find that "Rites" is a terrific book. And if you're subscribed to the members-only podcasts, you'll find the unexpected gift of a multipart conversation with John Jucht. Enjoy!

-Hugh

kevin_cross's picture

The book has a catchy title and became popular, but that doesn't mean any of the information is useful.

I think this book is in the same class as get rich quick scams and "be an online millionaire".

I think the author preys on the desperation of people who hate their job and doesn't provide them with any value.

Mashuu's picture

Somewhat a necropost, my apologies.

I was recently confronted with a dilema that this thread helped me resolved. Thanks you.

I'm working on starting an internet business and as a student financials means are quite limited, I was tempted by the "Inexpensive offshore VA, programmer" approach that I think is recommended in this book, (I have not read it, but l recently listened to a podcast on the subject).  And by working less I would have more time to devote to my studies and hobbies. 

I do dream lighter weeks...Full time student+Part-time Job+Business Planning doesn't leave much free time and I feel tired at times. In those weak moments, it felt like a good to do.

Two reasons led me to drop the idea though.

1.Very impersonal and selfish. Anybody that he has 12 directs and works less than 6 hours is NOT doing one on ones! His relationship must be based on culture of loyalty that someone else has, not on developping the said relationship. 

2. My online business concept is based around a community. Having such a selfish way of doing things while promoting community, thats a non-sense and quite hypocitical at that. 

Thanks you for your opinions, helped me fix my ideas straight.