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[Review] The 4-Hour Workweek

To many of us, Timothy Ferriss is living the dream life. Touting himself as a "serial entrepreneur" and "ultra-vagabond", the author of the uber bestseller "The 4-Hour Workweek" works from anywhere around the world, pursuing activities as varied as skiing in the Andes, tango dancing in Buenos Aires, or racing motorcycles in Europe. How does he do it? The secret, according to "The 4-Hour Workweek", is that he embraces the lifestyle design of the New Rich (NR) which is represented by the acronym DEAL:

(D)efinition

Turning conventional wisdom upside down by introducing new rules and concepts such as relative wealth and eustress (positive stress). Examples include the notion that less is not laziness, asking for forgiveness rather than permission, and relative income being more important than absolute income. One is also taught how to conquer the fear of venturing into the unknown and to create a "Dreamline" outlining one's Targeted Monthly Income (TMI) to realize those dreams and definitive steps.

(E)limination

Here, one is urged to get rid of the obsolete option of time management and to find ways of increasing one's productivity by cultivating selective ignorance, developing a low information diet (especially relevant in the age of social-overwhelming-clutter-media), interrupting interruptions (e.g. getting your colleagues to email rather than chat with you), and batching work to improve efficiency and effectiveness.  The goal is to strive towards a 2 hour work day by learning how to deftly parry off all time wasters (bosses and customers included).

(A)utomation

In this step, Ferriss provides lots of useful tips on how to outsource life working with virtual assistants from India or Philippines and create what's called our "muse" - a business that can generate a decent income that fits our TMI. We're also educated on how to autopilot our income through online products/services that serve a specific target audience, is priced between US$50-US$200, is aligned with our expertise/knowledge, and can be manufactured and shipped quickly.  The tricks of testing web advertisements, web hosting, customer service, and building automated systems are highlighted.

(L)iberation

Finally, the book provides a blow-by-blow account of how one can escape from one's office (if one is an employee) with the establishment of the right systems and practices, quit (with reasons why the world wouldn't collapse), go for mini-retirements, travel (a big thing in Ferriss' agenda), and do stuff which adds "meaning" to one's life - for 3, 6, 9 months or longer at a time. Throughout the book, one finds useful tips and references in the section "Questions and Actions", as well as "Comfort Challenges" which stretches one to do something extraordinary and different from what one would normally do. Examples include saying "no" to all requests, relaxing for 10 seconds in a crowded place (lying down in a busy train station floor), and asking strangers for phone numbers. Borrowing ideas such as the Pareto's Principle (80/20 rule) and seasoned with quotes from thinkers such as Warren Buffett and Mohandas Gandhi ("There is more to life than increasing its speed."), The 4-Hour Workweek provides both the rhetoric and the tools to help one achieve this dream. Naturally, it probably isn't as easy as it looks (just look at the number of online businesses which have failed).  Having said that, the notions proposed are worthwhile to consider. For more tips, tools and lots of luscious case studies, check out Ferriss' website here.

Walter is a seasoned marketer and publicist with almost 19 years of experience in marketing, communications, social media engagement, events management, strategic planning and corporate development. A judge of the Singapore Blog Awards, he blogs at Cooler Insights.

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