Archive for the The Book – 4HWW Category
Last Friday, the impossible happened and a lifelong dream came true: The 4-Hour Workweek hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list! Thank you all for your incredible encouragement and support.
More unbelievable, this week 4HWW is simultaneously #1 on the NY Times and #1 on the Wall Street Journal business bestseller lists.
How is this possible? How could a book from a first-time author — with no offline advertising or PR — hit both of these lists and stick for three months and counting?
The book was turned down by 13 of 14 editors, and the president of one large book wholesaler even sent me PDFs on historical stats to “reset my expectations”–it could never be a bestseller. The odds seem impossible: there are more than 200,000 books published each year in the US, and less than 5% ever sell more than 5,000 copies. On a given bestseller list, more than 5 spots could be occupied by unbeatable bestsellers like Good to Great or The Tipping Point, which have been on the lists for years.
On a related note, how could a blog that didn’t exist six months ago now be #2,835 on Technorati with 874 incoming links and an Alexa ranking of 9,615?
Is it all luck? I don’t think so. Luck and timing play a (sometimes big) part, but it seems to me that one can still analyze the game and tilt the odds in their favor. I don’t claim to have all of the answers–I still know very little about publishing–but I’ve done enough micro-testing in the last year to fill a lifetime.
The conclusion, in retrospect, is simple… Read More
I have this on my refrigerator
Feeling overwhelmed? Chances are that, after looking everywhere else, unclear or cluttered thinking is the root problem.
Have you defined your desired outcome and eliminated the extraneous? Removed all of the busy but non-mission-critical activities that consume attention?
Business books and consultants often skip the fundamental shift we need most often: better mental software. Cut out the bugs and upgrade your machine with these three blueprints, listed in the order I recommend reading them:
Simple & Direct
by Jacques Barzun
It is hard to improve thinking. It is near impossible to remember and review after-the-fact. Practicing writing (thinking frozen in time) is the best way to refine thinking and upgrade your present awareness. Barzun’s stated goal in this book is “to resensitize the mind to words.” His refrain, which applies as much to self-talk as it does to communicating with others, is: do not use a word unless you know both its meaning and its connotations. Great advice and a great book.
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
by William K. Zinsser
I have read this book more than a dozen times, more often for thinking than for writing. It is a hysterical read and a great example of what it teaches: how to cut all clutter and keep your communication and thinking crystal clear. If you think you think and write well, read this book at least once. It’s like going from a tricycle to a ten-speed.
The Elements of Style
by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
This is the de facto nuts-and-bolts desk reference for all writers and thinkers alike. There is a refreshing artistry to its bluntness… and brevity. I also love that the New York Times can sum it up and violate its rules at the same time with “Buy it, study it, enjoy it. It’s as timeless as a book can be in our age of volubility.” Volubility? E.B. would have slapped them.
Get the Original 4HWW Manuscript with Extra Content!
This list was in the original manuscript for The 4-Hour Workweek, but it was removed — along with bonus chapters and some awesome case studies — due to space constraints.
Would you like to have 1 of the 8 remaining original manuscripts in the world? This was an early version sent to about 15 people for advanced praise quotes, and even the cover is different.
I’m offering it on eBay now, and I’ll return the full sales price to the winner (minus eBay fees) in the form of a gift certificate to DonorsChoose, the educational non-profit I’m addicted to.
I will also write a personal note on the manuscript and give you 30 minutes on the phone to discuss or ask anything you want. Since I don’t do private coaching and my usual speaking fee is $15,000-25,000 per hour, this is a rare offer.
If you’re a fan of 4HWW, this is the ultimate collector’s item for an unbeatable cause. Check out the bidding here!
Report: Many U.S. Parents Outsourcing Child Care Overseas
How far can you push personal outsourcing?
Can you outsource your dating? I did.
Can you outsource your worrying? AJ Jacobs did.
Reading to your children or bickering with your spouse? No problem. Send it all to Bangalore or Bosnia. Even mainstream media like the Wall Street Journal is starting to explore the basic options, but we’ve been there and done that. The mundane is simple if you can cover the ridiculous. So the more interesting question becomes:
What are the limits — and the most entertaining uses — of personal outsourcing?
One friend of mine insisted last April that there were serious limitations to what could be effectively “outsourced.” What about face time? Not in work, mind you, but in the harshest competition of all: mating. In Silicon Valley, where Santa Clara is called “Manta” Clara and San Jose is called “Man” Jose, the odds are against heterosexual men.
Bets were placed over a few glasses of wine, and so it began: I would outsource all of my dating for four weeks.
Even if you would never consider doing something this outrageous, the results were beyond belief, and the process used to pull it off can be used for almost all personal outsourcing. If hacking matchmaking isn’t of interest, no worries. How about a personal chef for $5 a meal? Just keep reading… Read More
There are three main paths to getting on TV:
1. Make so much noise elsewhere that TV has to pay attention (online is the best place to kick up a firestorm, IMHO)
2. Be a billionaire heiress or pop singer, then either shave your head or go to jail
3. Create and pitch a trend + segment instead of you and your product
Number three is the most neglected.
I once thought that pitching the person and story were the keys to the TV kingdom, but I’ve since learned that’s Minor League. Why? A single person, unless already a celebrity, doesn’t fill 30 minutes on the most popular shows.
The solution is to develop an entire segment based on a new trend or phenomenon.
This is how it looks: find statistics that indicate a new trend, tie yourself into the trend, add experts, case studies, PhDs, and other guests to help fill 30 entertaining and credible minutes about this topic. Give it a good headline and pitch it to producers at the top shows. It’s a simple concept and it works.
To become a quick study in pitching media and creating buzz, I highly recommend picking up Losing My Virginity by billionaire Richard Branson, and for a good tactical guide minus the autobiographical stories (which are awesome), see Author 101: Bestselling Book Publicity, co-authored by one of the top experts in TV placement in NYC, Rick Frishman.
Find below a few recent examples of TV pieces I’ve done — Fox and Friends and Businessweek TV — that resulted from approach 1 above:
If those don’t work for you:
And approach #3? Keep an eye on this blog for more TV news coming soon…
Grand Prize Winner of the Endless Summer Competition!
With 39.6%, the winner is… Roger! Congratulations to all for such amazing entries. Roger, I’ll be in touch so you can get that trip to Japan you’ve wanted, the coaching, as well as the donation for the causes of your choice. Well played!
The incredible Sony VAIO VGN-TXN27N laptop. This beauty is less than 2″ thick and weighs 2.8 lbs. If I add a few ounces of weight with the extended battery (on the right) and trick it out, I can get 15 hours of battery life.
The name of the game in world travel is being “fashionably light.”
Hauling a five-piece Samsonite set around the planet is hell on earth. I watched a friend do this up and down dozens of subway and hotel staircases in Europe for three weeks, and — while I laughed a lot, especially when he resorted to just dragging or throwing his bags down stairs — I’d like to save you the breakdown. Trip enjoyment is inversely proportionate to the amount of crap (re: distractions) you bring with you.
Practice in 30-plus countries has taught me that packing minimalism can be an art.
I returned from Costa Rica last Wednesday, and have since landed in Maui, where I’ll stay for one week. What did I pack and why? Check out the video… Read More
My view from three hours ago in Fortuna, Costa Rica: Volcano Arenal (Photo from Arenal.net)
One of the most common questions I get is: what now? Following the book, what’s my next project? I have a few interesting ideas brewing, but one is bigger than all the rest combined: double the number of science majors in the US by 2012.
I want to change the world. But fundamentally overturning US education will some serious lateral thinking and allies. First things first…
Is it possible to start with just 200 books? I think it is.
No one expected the 4HWW to do what it’s done — least of all me — and I’ll like to give a little something back, something that might catalyze a domino-effect of entrepreneurial and innovative thinking.
Here’s the question I’d need your help with: where should I donate these first 200 books for the greatest effect? In other words, if you had 200 copies of the 4HWW and wanted to change the world, where would you send them?
To keep it manageable, I’d like to mail them in bundles of 25 books or more. I’ve thought of the Kauffman Institute, tradeshows where CEOs attend, undergraduate or high school entrepreneurship classes, as well as at-risk youth programs, but the question is: specifically who should I mail these to for a large ripple effect?
I post this question because I believe that crowdsourcing answers will get me much better results than operating on my guesswork and best estimates.
What do you think?
Finalists for the Endless Summer Competition:
Before I announce the chosen 10, please note two important points… Read More
Drew Curtis is the CEO of Fark.com and one cool dude. Not only did he introduce me to horseracing and Woodford Reserve four-grain bourbon, but he is — in my opinion — the most brilliant media observer and trend identifier in the US. No joke. On top of that, one thing was glaringly obvious when I crashed on his couch just outside of Louisville: he is happy ALL THE TIME. This is highly relevant to the advice he gives here in our little Q&A:
1. What is “news” now vs. in the 50s? If different, why?
There were certain things that respectable journalists wouldn’t write about in the 50s. For example, JFK managed to keep his affairs under wraps even though most of the white house press corps knew about it. They refused to write stories on it because it wasn’t respectable. Not that it’s a great ideas to have affairs or anything, but at least there were standards. Those are being slowly whittled away. When Saddam was hung, illicit camera phone footage ran on every major network for three days. We’ve crossed the snuff film barrier; all we have left is hardcore pornography as a limit to what media won’t portray.
2. Which media patterns do you find most annoying, and which media patterns do you think are the most dangerous without being obviously so?
Equal Time for Nutjobs. It’s all funny when you talk about people not believing in moon landings, or who think an alien crash-landed in Texas in
1897, or who believe that there was once an ancient mediterranean civilization in Florida. It’s another thing entirely when people start to believe that denying the holocaust is a valid opinion.
3. If you had to limit your information intake to less than 30 minutes a day (excluding email), what would you consume/read/watch?
Nothing. I’d wait until my friends asked me “did you see that?” and then say “no, why do you ask?” and see if their response is interesting. You can always catch up later. Oftentimes when news breaks it’s hours or days before anyone knows what actually happened. Wait until next week for the summary if it’s that important.
4. What was the specific incident or realization that inspired you to write this book?
Initially, I noticed that a story about German condom sizes being too large would reappear occasionally. Then I noticed other stories that
re-appeared on a regular basis, like Seasonal Articles that come out every year (“There Will Be Traffic on the 4th of July”, “People Procrastinate When Filing Their Taxes”, and the inevitable combo article of “Where To Get Your Halloween Candy X-Rayed — By the Way, It’s a Hoax”
Then I noticed other patterns like Media Fearmongering, Out of Context Celebrity Comment, and so on. But the kicker was noticing that when
actual news does occur, all of these types of stories vanish completely. Until the event ends, and then media returns to its old ways
5. What advice would you give to someone who feels guilty if they’re not keeping up with the latest “news”?
Take two weeks off. Don’t watch any news, don’t read any news, don’t listen to any radio talk shows. Then tune back in. Did you miss
anything? Nope. It’s the same old crap, different days. That’s what I’m talking about in my book — the media patterns that are used to fill space. It’s 95% or more of the content of any given news show.
For you low-information diet aficionados out there, as well as anyone who wants a snort-milk-through-your-nose funny read, go grab a copy of Drew’s awesome (he has blurbs from Stephen King and CNN producers) new book, It’s Not News, It’s Fark: How Mass Media Tries to Pass Off Crap as News. It rocks.
Other Updates and Tidbits — Learning Annex Canceled, New 4HWW Tools from Readers, and 4-Hour Frauds
All Learning Annex appearances scheduled for this week (LA, San Diego, SF) have been canceled.
Because of an unfortunate scheduling mishap, I will not be appearing at the Learning Annex locations in LA, San Diego, and SF this week. My sincerest apologies. This was due to factors outside of my control, and I would like to offer all of you who prepaid for the Learning Annex free entrance to my next speaking engagement where this is possible. Please keep your e-mail receipts!
Finally — a beautiful Excel spreadsheet for Dreamlining!
I owe a special thanks to Jared Goralnick and SET Consulting for putting together a beautiful free spreadsheet that all readers can use for automatic Dreamlining. Download it here and be sure to read the instructions. Too cool. Thanks, Jared!
4-Hour frauds: request for leads and invitation to stop.
It appears that there are a number of people running around offering “4-Hour Workweek” seminars and claiming to be affiliated with me (thanks for the heads up, Shawn). I have no products or seminars related to the book, so this is complete falsehood. If anyone has any information related to anyone doing this, please email it to amy @ fourhourworkweek.com. It has also come to my attention that a number of individuals are using the 4HWW content and trademarks to sell derivative products, primarily online (even linking from my forums!). This includes using the 4HWW trademarks in GoogleAdwords ads and text.
To those of you selling these seminars and products, and using the trademarks for commercial purposes, I invite you to stop. It’ll be about a week before I revisit this to see if it’s continuing. I hate lawyers and all of that, but misrepresentation and federal trademark violation is serious business with serious punishments. I’m sure some of you were unaware that what you are doing is illegal, but now you know: please stop.
The last week has been surreal.
It all began with an e-mail from a reader last Thursday at 11:34pm tipping me off to the impossible. Fumbling for the remote, I caught it just in time — Jay Leno spoofing The 4-Hour Workweek! [Update: the link I had here has been deleted or exceeded bandwidth, so please post a new link in the comments if you find one!]
12 hours later I received a call from my publisher and was, 24 hours later, on a plane to NYC. Enter the Tim Ferriss and Donny Deutsch death match, moderated by Matt Lauer on the Today Show! It couldn’t have been better, and I ended up looking — comparatively — as calm as a Hindu cow. Warning: the videos seem to take eons to load.
Despite Donny’s aggressive style, and the many funny responses to it, he was actually very encouraging and nice both before and after the show. That evening, I was called to CNBC for “On The Money,” and I’m now booked solid with traditional media for tomorrow, at which point I’m disappearing to Costa Rica to purge my mind of massive media overdose. I’ve had enough. No mas!
I actually canceled Thursday and Friday in NYC to make this escape, and I’ll be doing the few radio shows that remain from beachside in Central America, after which it’s off to tour an active volcano and drink mojitos. The flights, which I bought three hours ago and include the return to CA, were the same cost as two more nights in my NYC hotel. Which would you rather have?
Better yet–what’s the worst thing that could happen if you arranged to take Thursday and/or Friday off?
Don’t answer now, but give it some thought. Those who dare (I encourage you) can give it a shot and share their results here.
Free Live Q&A with Tim Ferriss:
Due to the overwhelming number of e-mail my poor virtual assistants have been receiving, I’ll be holding my first ever live public Q&A to answer some of the most common questions about the 4HWW, some never-before-answered questions about origins and mistakes, and also questions from listeners! Sign up and send us your question here: http://www.timferrissbooktour.com/
The news in brief: Google has come to a special arrangement with The 4-Hour Workweek to help readers test and improve the book’s core ideas. Before I give the details, let me explain why this is significant.
From Printing Press to Oligarchy to Digital Democracy
The dead-tree world is no more. Digital word-of-mouth — the most efficient and diffusive in history — fundamentally changes not only the marketing of books but their purpose altogether.
The publishing oligarchy has long had a top-down (guru endorses, minions purchase) push (paid advertising) model of information dissemination. The book was a self-contained product, and small offline communities were paid lip service but but viewed as consumers, not contributors.
In Publishing 2.0, books are manifestos — big idea seeds that pair naturally with global online communities that grow organically, not only spreading the “big idea” but improving upon it.
These distributed think tanks will want tools to test and explore their own variations, and it will be one of the forward-thinking author’s new responsibilities to find the best partners to cultivate this innovation. Harnessing the massive intellectual power of this “army of Davids” (quoting Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com) will allow authors to initiate massive business and social change with speed and precision impossible even three years ago.
Here is the first set of tools to experiment with.
Google will provide a free $25 Google AdWords trial offer to all readers of The 4-Hour Workweek, allowing each person to experiment with the ideas and concepts in the book. I do not receive any commission or compensation for this. [NOTE: This offer is now expired]
“We’re excited by this arrangement because it allows 4-Hour Workweek readers to apply the ideas in the book immediately — and even improve them. This is really a glimpse into the future of book publishing,” says Trevor Claiborne, Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google. “Ideas are no longer confined to the printed page, and it’s the communities of readers who individualize the idea, repurpose it, and grow it.” Read More
I spend a good amount of time at the offices of Podtech, usually stealing their Diet Dr. Pepper and hanging out on their bean bags. A few weeks ago, however, I managed to do something resembling “work”: an interview with uberblogger Robert Scoble. This time, I was the interviewee! The camera work is much better than my Blair Witch Project attempts in previous posts.
The first interview below is 50 minutes in length and my favorite version by far — lots of goodies from both me and Robert, including everything from e-mail and personal outsourcing to the book launch and how to combine 4HWW with Getting Things Done (GTD). It’s a very fun conversation. The second version is just an 8-minute appetizer but still a fun diversion. Here are both options, the longer version first, and you might need to turn up your computer volume, as we had no lavalier mics:
Work only four hours a week with Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss wrote a New York Times best seller. Why is it so hot? Because it lays out how you can work less and enjoy life more. Here, I sit down with Tim and talk about some of the ideas he discusses in his book.
Editor’s Choice: Some insightful highlights of Tim Ferriss’ interview
If you’re really following Tim’s plan, you’ll just watch the highlights of the interview I did with this New York Times’ best selling author. He wrote the book on the 4-hour Workweek, and here you get the highlights of an interview I did with him recently.