The 4-Hour Workweek Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The 4-Hour Workweek is the step-by-step blueprint to free yourself from the shackles of a corporate job, create a business to fund the lifestyle of your dreams, and live life like a millionaire, without actually having to be one.

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Was I late to the party because I read this book in 2013? Sure. About 6 years late, to be exact. But that didn’t make it any less of an eye-opener to me.

Tim Ferriss needs no introduction. He’s like a digital Indiana Jones, and this was the book that brought him on to our screens.

Written more out of frustration, much less than for the love of writing, this book is Tim’s documentation of how he removed himself from his own company, in order to do what he loves: learn and travel.

It’s almost impossible to pull out just 3 things from this book, but I’ll do it anyway:

  1. Be effective, not efficient.
  2. Validate all of your business ideas.
  3. Charge a premium to make your life easier.

Let’s dig a bit deeper.

The 4-Hour Workweek Summary

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Lesson 1: Be effective, not efficient.

If Tim’s life was designed around one rule, it would be the 80/20 rule or Pareto principle. Most people measure productivity by the time spent working, but that’s a bad indicator, because we waste so much time at work.

Tim suggests to spend your time effectively: on the 20% of things that get you 80% of the results, and not vice versa.

A famous quote of his is this: “Doing something unimportant well does not make it important”. So instead of focusing on doing as much as you can as best as you can, just focus on doing the few things that will lead to the biggest progress.

This is one of Tim’s major mantras in life and something you can adopt today that will make every single day of your life from here on out slightly better and easier.

Lesson 2: Always validate your business ideas.

Funny I mentioned him yesterday, but this lesson really sank in when I read Noah Kagan’s guest post on Tim’s blog. Before you go out and build any product or service, make sure people give you money for it.

Will your idea for knitted coffee cosies be a hit? I don’t know, so go ask people to buy from you! This is more of a comfort zone challenge than anything else, and it’s scary – which is a good indicator that it’s important.

2 personal examples from 2015: First, a friend approached me with an idea for a shoe business. We would solve the following problem: People have different sized feet. They need one shoe in one size, and the other in another size.

Our idea was to go to shoe manufacturers, collect all the leftovers in different sizes, pair them up and sell them for cheap. To validate, we asked all of our friends and family, who had this problem, whether they’d pay for odd-sized shoes.

What’s more, we went into 10+ shoe stores and asked them if people approach them with this problem.

The answer: no. No one cares, people just take the bigger pair and live with it, it’s not big enough of an issue.

Late in 2015 I wanted to create my first proper digital product. A course. So to test the idea, I created a landing page, held a webinar, and tried to pre-sell it. I sold 0 copies of the course, but that was no problem, because I hadn’t even built it yet.

Remember: ABV – always be validating!

Lesson 3: Charge a premium to need less clients and make your life easier.

Once you have validated your product and are set to start production, the next big question often is: Do I want to be high quality or the cheapest guy around?

Answer: You want to be high quality. Always.

Imagine you want to make $4,000/month, and are selling a nutritional supplement, like this one. If you charge $10 per bottle, you need to generate 400 sales per month.

If you charge $40 per bottle, you only have to make 100 sales. The hardest part of making a sale is moving people from not giving you money to giving you money.

The amount of money is very negotiable once they’ve made the decision to purchase from you. I bet you can find 100 people who are willing to give you 4x the money much faster than you can get an extra 300 people to buy from you in the first place.

Note: You can easily do this pricing math for any potential product with Neville Medhora’s cool pricing calculator.

That’s the first reason you should shoot for high quality and charge a premium. The second reason is that the people that are willing to pay a premium are low-hassle clients.

You will get a lot less complaints, returns and angry phone calls. Even if they don’t like it, chances are they won’t bother returning it, because they don’t have to turn every cent twice before spending it.

So promise high quality and deliver!

The 4-Hour Workweek Review

I read the entire book in a few sittings. I can’t believe someone compiled all the information in it in such an encompassing way back in 2007. That’s what has most shocked me about it.

Blinkist’s summary is crammed with insights, but is still only an excerpt of the plethora of great info in the book. Tim created a great step-by-step structure with lots of resources, links and tools, like the dreamline worksheet or the comfort challenges at the end of each chapter.

If you’ve entertained the idea of what your life could look like if you didn’t have to work, or could be a lot more picky about the projects you do take on, because you rest comfortably on a big, financial cushion, this is a must read.

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Who would I recommend the 4-Hour Workweek summary to?

The 17 year old who has a tough time to make up her mind about taking a year off before college to travel and explore, the 31 year old graduate who’s a few years into his corporate career and starts to question whether this is what he wanted, and anyone who’s ever tried to sell something that was a flop.

Last Updated on July 27, 2022

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!