Ultimately I enjoyed the first half of Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Work Week. It challenged me to evaluate my perspective on the cost and availability of my own dreams. However I couldn’t help getting the self-promotion stomach pangs while I read it. Hopefully you’ll be able to look past that and enjoy the book for what it is: a challenge to the way we as Americans think of retirement and money.
The first 70 to 90 pages of the book are extremely engaging and well worth the price of the book. After that the book turns into a "lifestyle-for-dummies" book on setting up a shell company to sell someone else’s products. Although I find it noble that Ferriss is attempting to give people pragmatic steps for implementing his “New Rich” lifestyle, I also find his suggestions impractical for two reasons:
• His business ideas rely on tiny, niche audiences. This works well unless his book becomes a best seller and many people decide they want to do the same thing (can you say, We Buy Ugly Houses?). Anyone who figures out how to make 5 or 10 times their money on a product that they exert little effort to produce will quickly find competition popping out of the woodwork.
• His business ideas are not sustainable. They rely on marketing strategies and promotions that have to work forever without any change to profitability or response rates, in order to maintain the “4-hour work week” lifestyle. In my experience the market is fickle and changes frequently, especially as it relates to the internet and online marketing.
I can’t help but think that the entire “New Rich” concept is a branding ploy to roll out a series of self-help seminars. Let’s hope not. If it does, it will distort the message of the book, for it would require that Ferriss trade in his “New Rich” lifestyle to be back in the rat race on a quest for the millions that he claims are not necessary to achieve one’s dreams.
Perhaps that’s the real lesson to be learned from the book: no matter where you are, the grass always seems greener on the other side.