February 10, 2011, 6:00 am

Why The 4-Hour Workweek is Shady

by: MD    Category: Miscellaneous
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Negative Side of 4-Hour WorkweekLately there have been many positive reviews and comments here on the popular Tim Ferriss book, The 4-Hour Workweek. Usually when a friend sees the title their quick to bring up that it sounds shady. I can totally see it too because it’s ingrained in us that when something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Just so that you guys don’t see us as shills for the book and the ideas within it, I wanted to play devil’s advocate today. By looking at the other side of the discussion here I’ll point out why the 4-Hour Workweek can be viewed as shady:

Credibility issues.

There are a few credibility issues in the book. When talking about his kickboxing success, Ferriss mentions winning on a technicality where he would push competitors outside of the box, thus getting them disqualified. He did win, but at what cost? Not all of us are willing to compromise our credibility to get ahead. After checking out a few blog posts on the topic, I noticed that many others weren’t too impressed with this point either. Walking the fine line of cheating can definitely come off as shady.

The concept of work.

This ties in with the credibility issues mentioned above. Ferriss clearly works more than four hours a week. Likely also more than four hours a day. Just because you enjoy something, is it really not considered work? He holds tango records. To become an exceptional tango dancer you clearly need to invest lots of time and effort into honing your craft. Isn’t this work? Just because you enjoy an activity, does everything surrounding this activity become not-work? The concept of work in this book has sparked many interesting debates online.

The concept of time.

While I was able to tremendously improve my time management skills, I’m unsure of what to think about his perception of time. This also brings us to the next issue regarding time– what do you do with all of your free time? Some of us enjoy our work and don’t mind it. Sometimes too much free time can be a problem. Staying busy isn’t such a negative as long as you find time for yourself and the things that you enjoy.

Bold claims.

I understand how someone can be turned off when they read bold claims about how you can make thousands of dollars a month and only work a few hours a week. This is probably why it took me so long to actually purchase this book and read it. I’m naturally highly skeptical of any book or person that writes about getting rich with little effort. I often feel that the person is simply getting richer by selling the “how-to get rich” product. I’m not surprised if the title of the book or the bold claims on the  cover have turned you off from it.

Communication strategy.

I’m really not sure why Ferriss hates communicating with others so much. I love responding to reader emails and checking out the comments on the blog posts. Sure I don’t get a fraction of the readers that he does, but I couldn’t imagine outsourcing talking with readers. Speaking from experience, it goes a long way when I email a blogger and they actually take the time to respond. Auto-responder or being ignored totally sucks.

For me, the 4-Hour Workweek is a book that you shouldn’t read from start to finish (as mentioned by Tim Ferriss). The best strategy for reading this book is to pick out the topics that resonate with you. While I personally did enjoy the 4-Hour Workweek, I wanted to present the other side of it here. What did you guys think? What side are you on?

(photo credit: rinse)

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That’s not shady enough – one of my favorite websites for years has been “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” 🙂 (not a scam)

More seriously, the biggest issue I’ve had with 4hww is that it and related materials online had me chasing after a very narrow focus for a long time. When I decided to really improve what I had been doing the whole time it became profitable and enjoyable even though it’s nothing like what the book describes.

Anyone can “get rich with little effort” but everyone will do it in their own way and it might look difficult and even dangerous to others. The book does mention a lot of different things but it really pushes a few, and most of them are only applicable if you have a lot of experience in a certain field already.

The book has value or it wouldn’t be debated this much, but it’s best to interpret it loosely to fit your life.

Tim doesn’t ignore everyone – he does say that he takes calls from close friends/family. And I don’t think he says he ignores everyone else – he just has a virtual assistant screen his e-mails and reply for him to many of them.

I do take issue with his definition of work, though. He certainly works much more than 4 hours a week – he just doesn’t spend as much time “working” on the small things that don’t get results – he outsources it.

Also, as he clearly explains in the book, the strategy of pushing others out of the box in kickboxing has been become common for professional kickboxers. It was clearly within the rules, thus not cheating – just not a tactic others had taken advantage of.

I think what’s shady is that these books, much like “i will teach you to be rich” promise huge things to get you to read their sites/books. Now once your there, there are definitly some excellelent point, and they are worth reading, but by making huge bold claims, like “work 4 hours a week” they entice people to read them. They truly do have merit, but they are never what they promised. But shame on anyone for believing its possible to work 4 hour s a week and make a living.

When I saw this title in my RSS, I RAN to your site. I feel validated. I agree with everything you said. Plus, I happen to be quite successful, know a multitude of other successful people and they all put in a substatial amount of time. I do believe you can be a success and not a workaholic.

That said, I LOVE TO WORK. Leisure is fine, but for me, a little goes a long way!!!!

Good job.

I agree with you. The book is shady. His next book,The 4-Hour Body, is also just as shady. He advertises gaining 30 lbs of lean mass in a short amount of time and only 4 hours of gym time. However, when you look at the before and after photos, he looks muscular in the before photos. Several people are wondering if he was severely dehydrated in his first weigh in — which would be the same technique he used for his kickboxing cheat

[…]  The Financial Blogger – Why the 4 Hour Work Week is Shady – I too alternatively found Tim Ferris’ famous book the 4 Hour Work Week ingratiating […]

[…] ethically suspect tactics or make the system seem far too easy (see Financial Blogger for taking Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week to task; the E-myth by Michael Gerber deals with the same topic but without the over simplification and […]