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  • Writer's pictureAnderson Petergeorge

The 4-Hour Work Week - Tim Ferris

Summary broken down by Tim Ferris' DEAL principle as well as tips for starting your own business

D is for Define (what makes you happy)

Three Questions to ask yourself:

  1. How do your decisions change if retirement isn't an option?

  2. What if you could use a mini-retirement to sample your deferred-life plan reward before working 40 years for it?

  3. Is it really necessary to work like a slave to live like a millionaire?

When making a big life decision, a couple of questions to ask yourself:

  1. Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering?

  2. What steps could you take to repair the damage or get things back on the upswing, even if temporarily?

  3. What are the outcomes or benefits, both temporary and permanent, of more probable scenarios?

  4. If you were fired from your job today, what would you do to get things under financial control?

  5. What are you putting off out of fear?

  6. What is it costing you - financially, emotionally, and physically - to postpone action?

  7. What are you waiting for?

Challenging the Status Quo vs. Being Stupid

  • When making sales calls it was most cold calls didn't get to the intended person due to gatekeepers (eg. Secretaries). Calling from 8:00-8:30am and 6:00-6:30pm produced more results than people who called from 9-5pm

  • Its far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor

  • The choice is between multiplication of results using strengths for incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best become mediocre. Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repair.

E is for Elimination

  • Pareto's Law - 80% of the wealth and income is produced by 20% of the population. This can also be applied outside of economics.

    • Rule: 80% of the outputs are produced by 20% of the inputs

    • Outcome: Take time to realize what 20% of inputs is providing you with 80% of your happiness. Do the reverse as well, what 20% of inputs is providing you with 80% of your unhappiness and try to remove that

Tim's Examples of 80/20 rule in business:

  • Advertising: Identified what 20% of advertising costs were driving 80% of his revenue and further focused on growing that 20%

  • Online Affiliates - Focused on identified the online affiliates that drove 80% of his income and fired the rest, which decreased cost and time significantly

  • Parkinson's Law dictates that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.

  • The end product of the shorter deadline is almost inevitably of equal or higher quality due to greater focus

  • The "Puppy Dog Close" technique is named based on the pet store sales approach: If someone likes a puppy but is hesitant on making the life-altering purchase, offer to let them take it home and bring it back if they change their minds. Most times the return seldom happens.

    • Use the "Puppy Dog Close" to suggest to your team including superiors of ideas and solutions you would like to try.

    • Get your foot in the door with a "let's just try it once" reverse trial

  • Create a Essential To-do list and a Not To-do list to reprioritize your day to day

  • Instead of asking for opinions start proposing solutions. Beginning with small things.

    • Ie. Stop asking what movie to see or what to eat. Start proposing ideas on what to see or eat.

    • This alleviates time wasted deciding on small things

Questions to help prioritize these lists.

  • If you got sick and could only work 2 hours a day, what would you do?

  • If you even sicker and could work only 2 hours a week, what would you do?

  • If you had a gun to your head and had to stop doing 4/5 of different time-consuming activities, what would you do?

  • What are the top-three activities that I use to fill time to feel as though I've been productive?

  • Who are the 20% of people who produce 80% of your enjoyment and propel you forward, and which 20% cause 80% of your depression, anger and second-guessing?

  • You are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious or disorganized friends.

  • Learn to ask, "If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?"

  • Don't ever arrive at the office or in front of your computer without a clear list of priorities. You'll just read unassociated e-mails and waste time this way.

  • To counter the seemingly urgent. Ask yourself what will happen if I don’t do this today?

  • Put a Post-it on your computer screen or set an Outlook reminder to alert you at least three times daily with the questions. " Are you inventing things to do to avoid the important?

  • Do not multitask

  • Use Parkinson's Law on a Macro and Micro Level

    • Shorten schedules and deadlines to necessitate focused action instead of deliberation and procrastination

  • Set a timer via the Pomodorro technique and break your tasks into the number of Pomodorros (ie. Finish this in 3 Pomodorros)

The Low-Information Diet

  • Try a one week media fast. A lot of the news and information around you is not relevant to you

  • Develop the habit of asking yourself, "Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?"

  • Its not enough to use information for "something" - it needs to be immediate and important

  • Practice the art of non-finishing

  • More is not better and stopping something is often 10 times better than finishing it

How to read faster?

  • Use a pen or finger to trace under each line as you read as fast as possible

  • Practice reading faster than you can and then when you scale back it will feel easier to read every though you are going fast. Going 50mph may feel fast but after you got 70mph then 50mph feels slow

Interrupting Interruption and the Art of Refusal

  • Sit down with your teacher or boss and spend time figuring out what they are looking for, their pet peeves and bring enough questions to fill up an hour or so. This serves two important purposes:

    • Allows you to know exactly how the person will evaluate your work, including his or her prejudices and pet peeves

    • It causes the person to reflect and think long and hard when tasked to evaluate you given the sunk cost of spending all that time telling you exactly what they wanted and also allows them to factor in your interest to perform well

Time Waster

  • Try and check email and phone messages only at certain times during the day. Although it may seem as though you are potentially missing things, you are actually creating more uninterrupted time for critical tasks. The more you check your email and phone the more you are stopping and starting your mind and preventing getting into a flow

  • The psychological switching of gears from task to task can require up to 45 minutes to get back into focus and the cost you pay for checking your phone or email during a task

  • Takeaways: While at work only look at your phone at 12:00pm and at 5:00pm and then before bed

  • Remove all notifications on phone: No message is important enough that needs to be answered right away, people will just call instead

  • Get in the habit of writing what-if emails when asking for something and to propose a solution in order to reduce the amount of email back and forth.

    • Example: "What time would you be free for a call? I am free March 23 at 10AM and will send a calendar invite for that time if that works for you". Vs "What time would you be free?"

  • Have people set an agenda for every in-person meeting so that you have a path in place to solve the problem or question posed. This avoids wasting time at the start of the meeting to get organized and to figure out the next steps (all of this can be done over email)

A is for Automation

Outsourcing Life

  • Look into virtual assistants that can help assist with your day to day repetitive tasks

    • Ie. Brickworks in India

  • Make sure to automate tasks that are important, never automate something that can be eliminated because it will be harder to realized how useless it is and will be wasting your hard earned cash

  • Principles number one is to refine rules and processes before adding people.

  • Using people to leverage a refined process multiplies production; using people as a solution to a poor process multiplies problems.

  • Don't measure based on per hour a cost look at per task cost to make sure you money is used efficiently


  • Never use debit cards for online transactions or with remote assistants. Easier to reverse a credit card charge but much harder to reverse a debit card transaction

How to become a Top Expert in 4 Weeks

  • Join two or three related trade organization with official sounding names. Ie. Association for Conflict Resolution and The International Foundation for Gender Education. This can be done online in five minutes with a credit card

  • Read the three top-selling books on your topic and summarize each on one page

  • Give one free one-to-three-hour seminar at the closest well-known university, using posters to advertise. Then do the same at branches of two well-known big companies

  • Optional: Offer to write one or two articles for trade magazines/websites related to your topics

  • Join ProfNet, which is a service that journalists use to find experts to quote for articles. Allows you to potentially get quoted in an article.

L is for Liberation


  • If you want something from your boss, first demonstrate how that can improve your work and be beneficial for the team. Don’t ask for something without some proof to back it - less likely to get it

  • Focus on reducing your material goods, not only will it save space in your living space it also provides you with more mental space to have to worry about or think about that many things

    • Set a time every year/quarter to declutter your belongings

  • Too much free time is no more than fertilizer for self-doubt and assorted mental tail-chasing

  • If you can't define it or act upon it, forget it

    • Ie. Don’t worry too much about questions that you can't control like "What if the train is late tomorrow?"

  • The more options you consider, the more buyer's regret you'll have

  • The more options you encounter, the less fulfilling your ultimate outcome will be

  • Don't provoke deliberation before you can take action - don't scan the inbox on Friday evening or the weekend when you know you cant deal with the issue until Monday

  • Don’t postpone decisions just to avoid uncomfortable conversations - your brain will linger on it and waste precious mental capacity

  • Learn to make nonfatal or reversible decisions as quickly as possible. Fast decisions preserve usable attention for what matters.

  • Don't strive for variation and thus increase option consideration when its not needed. Routine enables innovation where its most valuable

  • Regret is past-tense decision making. Eliminate complaining to minimize regret.

  • Condition yourself to notice complaints and stop making them

  • Its deliberation - the time we vacillate over and consider each decision - that’s the attention consumer. This is what determines your attention bank account balance not the number of decisions but the time spent on them.

  • Remember boredom is the enemy, not some abstract failure, set big goals and then work on a detailed step by step on accomplishing that

The Top 13 New Rich Mistakes

  1. Losing sight of dreams and falling into work for work's sake

  2. Micromanaging and e-mailing to fill time

  3. Handling problems your outsourcers or co-workers can handle

  4. Helping outsourcers or co-workers with the same problem more than once, or with non-crisis problems

  5. Chasing customers, particularly unqualified or internationals prospects, when you have sufficient cash flow to finance your nonfinancial pursuits

  6. Answering e-mail that will not result in a sale or that can be answered by a FAQ or auto-responder

  7. Working where you live, sleep or should relax - Separate your environments - designate a single space for work and solely work

  8. Not performing a thorough 80/20 analysis every two to four weeks for your business and personal life

  9. Striving for endless perfection rather than great or simply good enough, whether in your personal or professional life

  10. Blowing small problems out of proportion as an excuse to work

  11. Making non-time-sensitive issues urgent in order to justify work - Realize this also with messaging people not all has to be urgently responded back

  12. Viewing one product, job or project as the end-all and be-all of your existence

  13. Ignoring the social rewards of life - Surround yourself with smiling, positive people who have absolutely nothing to do with your work

9 Habits to Stop Now

  1. Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers

  2. Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night

  3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time

  4. Do not let people ramble

  5. Do not check-email constantly - "Batch" and check at set times only

  6. Do not over-communicate with low-profit high maintenance customers

  7. Do not work more to fix the overwhelmingness feeling - prioritize instead

  8. Try and not carry your cell phone 24/7

  9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should

Entrepreneurship/Business Tips


  • To get an accurate indicator of commercial viability, don't ask people if they "would" buy something. Ask them to buy right then. The response to the second is the only one that matters

    • Tip: Keep a folder of all advertisements that compel you to buy or call a number and use that as examples to brainstorm your own promotions

    • The key to a success product and service is to test as much as possible to see if people are interested in the product.

    • Try selling it to people but say it is on backorder after to see if the demand is there

  • Test where on your website customers are leaving, is it as soon as they get to the website (no product fit) or at the checkout phase (price may be too high)

  • Choose a product that should be fully explainable in a good online FAQ

    • Saves times from you having to answer all these questions yourself

  • Analyze the channels you are selling your product to. By selling to too many retailers they may end up discounting your product and competing with each other eating away at their profit margin. Being selective allows you to keep your brand and also exclusivity which can keep your price high

  • It is critical that you decide how you will sell and distribute your product before you commit to a product in the first place

Micro-Test Your Products

  • Best: Look at the competition and create a more-compelling offer on a basic one-to-three-page website (spend only a few hours on)

  • Test: Test the offer using short Google Adwords advertising campaigns (few hours to set up and a week of passive observation)

  • Divest or Invest: Cut losses with losers and manufacture the winner(s) for sales rollout

  • How can people better differentiate their businesses?

  • Use more credibility indicators? (media and academic reference, associations, and testimonials)

  • Create a better guarantee?

  • Offer better selection?

  • Free or faster shipping?

Methods to reduce size of overhead in your business:

  • Offer one or two purchase option ("basic" and "premium" for example) and no more

  • Do not offer multiple shipping options. Offer one fast method instead and charge a premium

  • Do not offer overnight or expedited shipping (just refer them to a reseller who does), as these shipping methods will produce hundreds of anxious phone calls

  • Eliminate phone orders completely and direct all prospects to online ordering

  • Do not offer international shipments. Spending 10 minutes per order filling out customs forms and then dealing with customer complains when the products costs 20-100% more with tariffs and duties is not worth while

How to make your business look Fortune 500 in 45 minutes:

1. Don't use the title CEO or Founder

  • Being the "CEO" or "Founder" screams start-up. Give yourself the mid-level title of "Vice President" or "Director" of sales or business development. For negotiating purposes, remember it is not best to appear as the ultimate decision-maker

  • This allows you to use the excuse "Let me go back and discuss with my broader team and get back to you"

2. Put multiple e-mail and phone contacts on your website

  • Separate email for Contact Us, HR, Sales, Media/PR emails but make them all forward to the appropriate email so nothing is lost. Once you company grows you can have those emails forward to someone else.

3. Set up an Interactive Voice Response remote receptionist

  • You can sound like a blue chip company for less than $30

4. Do not provide your home addresses

Pick an Affordably Reachable Niche Market

  • Creating demand is hard but filling demand is much easier

  • Don't create a product, then seek someone to sell it to. Find a market, define your customers and then find or develop a product for them

  • Be a member of your target market and don’t speculate what others need or will be willing to buy

Start Small, Think Big

  • Target a small niche market (ie. Students who practice martial arts), which is easier to market to and you can grow from there vs. Choosing a large market (ie. Pet owners or students)

    • Targeting this niche market makes them feel special and allows them to stay more connected with your product

Benefits of premium pricing:

  • Higher pricing means that we can sell fewer units - and thus manage fewer customers - and fulfill our fixed costs quicker

  • Higher pricing attracts lower-maintenance customers (better credit, fewer complaints/questions, fewer returns)

  • Higher pricing also creates higher profit margin to be safer

11 Tenets of Reaching Profitability

  • Niche is the New Big - The Lavish Dwarf Entertainment Rule

    • Don't worry about trying to portray your marketing to everyone, the specific niche demographic you target could end up selling to people who want to be associated with that demographic. Ie. Apple targeting trending youths and selling to everyone who wanted to be identified as that

  • What Gets Measured Gets Managed

    • Metrics to track: Cost Per Order, Ad allowable (max you can spend on ads and still break even), MER (media efficiency ratio) and projected lifetime value

  • Pricing Before Product - Plan Distribution First

    • If you plan to scale and distribute through resellers and retailers. Mark you product up at the start to account for this because in the future its much harder to increase you price to accommodate all the additional costs

  • Less is More - Limiting Distribution to Increase Profits

    • More distribution channels could lead to competition among them and discounting of your product which can ruin your brand to a point of no return

  • Net-Zero - Create Demand vs. Offering Terms

  • Repetition is Usually Redundant - Good Advertising Works the First Time

    • Cancel anything that cannot be justified with a trackable ROI

  • Limit Downside to Ensure Upside - Sacrifice Margin for Safety

    • Sacrifice margin temporarily for the testing phase to ensure that your product and marketing are well tested and ready to rollout

  • Negotiate Late - Make Others Negotiate Against Themselves

    • Never make the first offer when purchasing

  • Hyperactivity vs. Productivity - 80/20 and Pareto's Law

    • Being busy is not the same as being productive

  • The Customer is Not Always Right - "Fire" High-Maintenance Customers

  • Deadlines Over Details - Test Reliability Before Capability

    • Perfect products delivered past deadline kill companies faster than decent products delivered on time


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