My friend Nigel of Nigel’s Ecostore (provider of all things eco) gave me a Christmas present this year: 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. As a huge fan of Ricardo Semler’s Seven Day Weekend I was intrigued but sceptical.
It is fairly easy to rubbish the author’s approach: basically he suggests stopping deferring the good life life now for the fantasy of a great life later.
For him this means jacking in the day-job, setting up a business selling anything (“nutritional supplements” in his case), and automating the running of the business so that you can take advantage of disparities in global incomes and live at South American prices, pay a wage bill in Indian Rupees, and earn income in US dollars.
It’s easy to rubbish because I guess we all hope that disparities in global incomes are temporary; and hence this New Rich lifestyle is not really sustainable, unless you keep hopping from poorer to poorer countries. He puts a complete ban on the whole African continent by the way; too scary perhaps?
Because while Ferris does suggest longer stays than most travel writers (months, not days or weeks) there’s undoubtedly a lot of carbon-generating international air travel involved in the process (who am I to talk: I work with a business travel company amongst others).
And mostly because, while there’s a section at the end about giving something useful back to society, for Ferris that’s a step to take after having lived it up and made your money – it seems to me that’s another form of deferral. Why not get on and do what seems most worthwhile right now, and let money and lifestyle find you?
But that all said I did like the book (so thanks Nigel). Yes, you could say it’s shallow; but then so am I sometimes. It’s well crafted, his youthful enthusiasm is infectious, and it’s full of ideas and practical suggestions. Is it a bad thing that he won Wired Magazine‘s “Greatest Self Promoter of All-Time” prize in 2008? If he uses it to generate money for charities through his LitLiberation project?
Who knows what he’ll do next? The combination of promotional skills using social media and charitable inclinations is probably a good one.
And at least reading the book has made me question some of my assumptions about these things and others, and that is surely always worthwhile.