August 9, 2008
Book Short: Catchiest Title in a Long Time
You have to admit, a book called The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich has a pretty enticing title. The email geek in me thinks that if it were a subject line, it would have a good open rate. Anyway, the book, by Timothy Ferriss, is a breezy read that blends self help with entrepreneurship, has a lot of good resource lists in it, and is worth reading if you don’t take it too seriously.
There are some good central points to the book. First, life has changed, and people don’t want to slave away until they’re 65 any more so they can do all the fun stuff in their old age — they want to change directions, unplug more regularly, and enjoy life with their families when they’re younger. I buy that.
Second, good companies are increasingly allowing employees more degrees of freedom in the where and when and even how of getting things done, just as long as they get things done — and people should take advantage of that. I buy that as well — we practice that at Return Path, generally speaking. Third, startups that are mainly virtual organizations and internet-based are easier, cheaper, and potentially more profitable than most businesses have been, historically speaking. Ok, fair enough.
Fourth, anyone can be just like the author and do all of this stuff, too, right? Start a business that turns into a cash machine that requires little to no maintenance while becoming one of the best tango dancers in the world in South America, etc. etc. etc. Well, maybe not. I guess the point of self-help books is to show an extreme example and inspire people to achieve it, and I do think there’s a lot to what Ferriss says about how people can live richly without being rich, but the fact is that the world would fall apart if everyone did what he does. And the other fact is that Ferriss is well above average in intellect and drive, and probably some physical talents as well from his descriptions of tango dancing and kick boxing, which must contribute to his success in life far more than his operating philosophy does.
But as I said, it’s a fun read, and if you don’t take it too seriously, or at least take the feedback directionally as opposed to whole hog, it’s well worth it.