Work less, earn more, be smarter! Luxury lifestyle is yours! Act now!
At the urging of a friend, I checked out Tim Ferris’s website and his NYT bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek.
What can I say? It was amazing. It really opened my eyes. I mean, here I have been thinking that, what with banking investment fraud, LIBOR, the unprecedented number of home foreclosures, high unemployment rates and the ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots, we had lost our appetites for being “romanced” by hucksters – and by romanced, I mean being tied over a barrel and scammed hard like some character from a James Dickey novel.
I would be wrong.
Turns out, we can’t get enough or pay enough to – psssst! – hear how we (and the 1.5 million others who bought the book) will gain insider secrets to make more money in no time and fool the boss. Yippee!
By following this easy step-by-step guide we can transform our stupid, boring lives into a series of adventures – “mini retirements” – full of monks and rainforests and parasailing. Tim’s bestselling book will explain how he “went from $40,000 per year and 80 hours per week to $40,000 per month and 4 hours per week.” Pass me that Kool-Aid.
Tim says that if I were smart, I would outsource my life to “overseas virtual assistants for $5 per hour” and do whatever I want. That means someone in Kazakhstan or India will write articles on healthcare technology for me. And, with all my new-found free time, I can simply email my V.A.’s article to the VP on my WFH day and get back to my tango lessons in Argentina. She will never suspect!
Best of all? With a little squinting and a lot of spin, I can convince myself that my actions are actually charitable contributions to a developing nation.
This Tim Ferris is no ordinary guy: Don’t let the track jacket and Coldwater Creek pants fool you. He’s Princeton educated and an angel investor and advisor with some of the largest dot coms. You might have heard of a little company called Facebook, Twitter or StumbleUpon. He’s an accelerated learner who made an undisclosed amount (aka boatload) of money on the sale of his health supplement to a private equity firm. Of course, the blend is not patented, the health claims cannot be scientifically substantiated, it doesn’t have FDA approval, and despite the “110% money-back guarantee,” the fine print says the offer is on hold and the product available only through online retailers. Details! And details take a long time to explain. Moving on, he’s also an insatiable self-promoter who has logged in at least 4 hours x 1 gazillion to market his book and personality through speaking engagements, digital forums and social media outlets. Whether he calls that “work” is between him and Webster.
As a writer, I too have looked for ways to make my job easier – when I wasn’t looking for a job, that is. Thinking clearly is harder than it seems. Back in the day, I tried to come up with a way to teach English composition by scantron. No go. The dean and other gatekeepers ran interference. Then I experimented with marginalia. I wrote quick, spare notes along the sides of the paper pointing out grammatical errors (S-V Agr, Tense) and other more nuanced problems (AWK, POV, DETAILS!). It worked! In no time I raised my hourly rate and outsourced students’ education to handbooks and tutors.
One evening, I sat down with a batch of English 1A narrative essays and read curious tales with openers like, “As a Senegal mother of tree children…” and “I was born and raised in West Vagina.” Here were the results of my “human experiment”: By thinking only of myself, I had stolen more than time from my students.
So I’m calling out Tim Ferris and the idea that work is this thing separate from us. It’s more than a title or a place. It’s more than something to be shirked or gamed.
Fundamentally, work is about forming and sustaining relationships to accomplish mutually beneficial goals. You can’t outsource those to a virtual assistant and grow your business any more than you can ignore your wife and sleep with both eyes closed.
And that’s why the most transformative engagements – whether building a website or pr campaign – involve an investment of time and attention. The accretion of trust and respect that arises from working alongside a client-partner doesn’t end at the four-hour mark.
In the end, you get what you pay for. And that is why I have spent more than four hours writing this blog. But please don’t tell my boss.