The 4-Hour Workweek Summary: Tim Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek Summary

The 4-Hour Workweek Summary provides a free book summary, key takeaways, review, quotes and author biography of Tim Ferriss’ book regarding work. Tim Ferriss advises you how to work better.

In his incredible, persuasive and yet disturbing debut, magazine author Tim Ferriss – who also wrote The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef – writes like an adolescent prodigy. His gripping tone, novelty and consistency bind readers from the very first sentence. His absolute audacity is evident in his subtitle: Escape 9-5. Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.

Readers tend to stereotype Ferriss’ work as that of books on time management or realizing one’s dreams. Yes, his books do start by asking readers to identify what they want, just like the other books. But, unlike those other books, Ferriss provides his exclusive definitions of terms like the “new rich” and “lifestyle design.” He offers tools, such as “dreamlining” to help you connect your dreams with reality. Ferriss allows you to think so out-of-the-box that you won’t even recall where the box was in the first place. And while you may wonder at the possible effectiveness of his strategies, you might also wonder, “This guy has got some nerve!” The nerve is visible throughout Ferriss’s writing voice. 

“People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.”

His work inspires, yet in a self-enclosed manner — his undying positivity and confidence pump readers with more confidence within themselves. But, his attitude functions primarily to build readers’ trust in him. So, when you finish reading the book The 4-Hour Workweek, you may or may not think, “I can do this.” But, you will most likely think, “Tim Ferriss can do anything!” 

The 4-Hour Workweek Summary

Cultural Phenomenon

And why should one not wonder that? Ferriss turns everything that he touches into gold. This is his first work. It jumped to the peak of The New York Times bestseller list. And it continues to be one. His later work, The 4-Hour Body, made a similar history. Ferriss’ most recent book, The 4-Hour Chef, is a blockbuster on Amazon. He’s even a professor at Singularity University at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. Ferriss is always on his toes and never stops at anything. He continues to learn something new, be it a new cuisine or language or any other skill. At times his authorial tone may get annoying. But, you cannot deny the fact that he has changed every suggestion of his into a well-compensated truth. 

Ferriss really gets pleasure in the sound of his own voice. Similar to most self-help books, The 4-Hour Workweek is half as long as it should be. But, you cannot blame him of turning a small article into a book. He functions in a totally original way. Ferriss has so much to say, and most of his advice is useful. The main Ferrissian element that readers should try to imbibe to be successful is not self-belief. Though it never hurts to believe in yourself. But, what is more important is blatant shamelessness. If you can promote yourself as shamelessly as Ferriss can, nothing would be impossible.

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Ferriss does not provide a practical plan, and he leaves no details in specifying how to be rich. He takes you through the stages of creating a four-hour workweek for yourself. The stages include – definition, elimination, automation and liberation (DEAL). For every stage, Ferriss offers guidance with instances of both success and failure. Definition requires finding out what is it that you want, then acting upon. Ferriss likes setting impractical goals, and he gives a detailed strategy to follow. Elimination drops time management for productivity. Also, it rejects efficiency for effectiveness. For automation, Ferriss suggests replacing yourself by automating your work, saving your cash flow and getting the job done. Liberation demands surrender of control. This is a tough thing for entrepreneurs. But, after they do, they should burst out of the box and achieve new goals.

The 80/20 Rule

Ferriss says, “what is you do is more crucial than your way of doing it.” To explain further, he uses the Pareto rule, or the 80/20 norm. The rule says that 80% of a society’s wealth comes from and to the 20% of its people. Ferriss gives great examples of how to use the effects of this rule. He says that based on the context, 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes. 80% of outcomes stem from 20% of time and effort. Ferriss uses this principle with high rigor. He urges you to do the same. That is, learn which 20% of the sources result in 80% of his problems. And he is wise enough to ask the important opposite question too. What 20% sources can result in 80% of his expected outcomes and happiness?

His examples of putting the rule into practice may look less persuasive than his questions. For example, he suggests dumping several unproductive customers at once. But, Ferriss does make a strong point. Remove everything from your life that does not help you with your goals. So, be ruthless. Find out those small parts of your efforts that have a big impact on your life and work. 

While explaining his system, Ferris discusses many of his significant failures. Though he shows the keenness of an excited eight grader, he advises high discipline. His lifestyle visions are very inclusive. So much so even small actions like checking emails form part of his success process.

“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.” 


The book is low on practicality and its rejection of obvious objections make it a bit disturbing. Besides Ferriss’ work as an author, investor and entrepreneur, he is a gold medalist in kickboxing. He says he won by drastically reducing his weight and pushing off tinier rivals from the platform. This looks like gaming the system to get paper wins, not the real ones. But even such uncertain boasts underpin Ferriss’ core lesson. That is, finding and building your passions, and when you do, take the less obvious methods to thrive. He suggests not to sweat the ethical points and shamelessly self-promoting. 

Ferriss has remarkable entrepreneurial and analytical abilities. In fact, he looks like a self-taught genius in that area. A lot comes naturally to him. But, this is not just plain luck as he clearly works hard. If you have questions about his work ethic, see the size of his books. Still, he does underestimates how tough analytical entrepreneurism could be for many. Most people cannot stop earning the rent for long enough to redo their lives. Even less have the early success that give the buffer to start other endeavors.  

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Fervent Fevered Advice

But despite the applicability of his advice, Ferriss is quite fun. This is a mark most other self-help books fail to mark. Ferriss’ book is extremely readable. His continuous self-promotion may tire you. The repeatedly short sentences might drive you crazy. You might want to skip several pages as Ferriss likes to repeat his insights over and over. Even then, you are bound to smile through most of your reading. 

“The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is boredom.” 

The 4-Hour Workweek Review

Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek completed ten years in 2017 and has sold over million copies. This is a powerful sign of the comprehensiveness and quality of its content. The basic theme of the book also adds to its massive success: who does not want to work just four hours and save themselves from the shackles of corporate life? Tim Ferriss uses this book not just as a checklist for success, but also as his personal diary to reveal his experiences in incorporating the suggestion he offers. In fact, this piece of work can be seen as a list of successful strategies the author applied himself.  

Ferriss surely makes some really bold promises, and some of the details in the book do seem like confessions of a get-wealthy-quick scammer. However, an intelligent reader can get a wealth of helpful ideas from this book. I will not buy into all that Ferriss writes, but it is refreshing to see how he breaks conventional wisdom. He makes his readers think. Even if you discard his core premise, there are many tricks and tips which can be extracted and applied to optimize life. 

Reality has changed completely during the twelve years that followed the publication of the book, and the automatic question is: is his suggestion still pertinent? The answer is yes. The book is very relevant and the techniques sound, however, the strategies for reaching the 4-hour workweek has transitioned. Executing the 4-hour workweek is not simple. The years that followed the bestseller, however, significantly raised the likelihood for those who are ready to realize their goals.

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The 4-Hour Workweek Quotes

“For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.” 

“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” 

“But 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. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.” 

“People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.”

“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” 

“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.” 

“The question you should be asking isn’t, “What do I want?” or “What are my goals?” but “What would excite me?” 

“The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is boredom.” 

“To enjoy life, you don’t need fancy nonsense, but you do need to control your time and realize that most things just aren’t as serious as you make them out to be.” 

“Focus on being productive instead of busy.”

“Being able to quit things that don’t work is integral to being a winner”

“Most people are fast to stop you before you get started but hesitate to get in the way if you’re moving.” 

“Poisonous people do not deserve your time. To think otherwise is masochistic.” 

“Learn to be difficult when it counts. In school as in life, having a reputation for being assertive will help you receive preferential treatment without having to beg or fight for it every time.” 

“Many a false step was made by standing still.” 

“Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all.” 

“It’s lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most time and energy-consuming.” 

“Life is too short to be small.” 

“I’ll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” 

“The bottom line is that you only have the rights you fight for.” 

“$1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows.” 

“Remember—boredom is the enemy, not some abstract “failure.” 

“Information is useless if it is not applied to something important or if you will forget it before you have a chance to apply it.” 

“Role models who push us to exceed our limits, physical training that removes our spare tires, and risks that expand our sphere of comfortable action are all examples of eustress—stress that is healthful and the stimulus for growth.” 

“By working only when you are most effective, life is both more productive and more enjoyable. It’s the perfect example of having your cake and eating it, too.” 

“Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.” 

“The goal is not to simply eliminate the bad, which does nothing more than leave you with a vacuum, but to pursue and experience the best in the world.” 

“Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined. Otherwise, you waste someone else’s time instead of your own, which now wastes your hard-earned cash. How’s that for incentive to be effective and efficient?” 

“Different is better when it is more effective or more fun.” 

About the Author

Timothy Ferriss also authored The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Workweek. He teaches at Singularity University, at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. He was named among the top 10 most influential personalities in Newsweek’s Digital 100 Power Index.

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