Review of Tim Ferris’ Number one Bestseller, promising a different kind of life.

I heard about it some time ago, and the reviews seemed like hype with little substance. Hype does not tend to come from nothing, so I decided to take a closer look. When encountering in a bookstore early March, I just bought it. Even if it was not true, I wanted to find a few additional ways to be more productive. That’s all I was looking for, and that’s what I got - and much more.

Content

The book starts out by defining what he wants to achieve, the ‘New Rich’ are businessmen with exciting lives, not needing to work much. While most people dream big, they are afraid of making changes. Early on there are incredibly useful exercises for defining fears and setting goals.

If there is one thing he is serious about, it’s success. The methods he described reminded me about the ‘standard toolbox of nonstandard thinking’. It’s all first principles thinking, figuring out what rules exist for which reason, and abusing those where perception seems to deviate from reality.

A decent part is about prioritization and time management. Being busy does not mean being effective.

A low information diet (massively reducing social media, news and the like) will reduce the amount of unnecessary information you need to process considerably. It will improve your focus, your energy, and your available time.

He introduces Virtual Personal Assistants, and explains a lot about them. His explanations include a variety of options, criteria for selection, which capabilities are available where, and how much it tends to cost.

A muse is a personal business that requires only minimal effort to manage each week (ideally less than four hours each week). This business is also supposed to be providing you with enough money to live comfortably. He lays out a roadmap, with criteria, initial investments and a lot of tips on how to proceed and what to watch out for.

Afterwards, it is possible to easily start working from home, or, more specifically, wherever. Doing so will allow for mini-retirements, which is basically traveling to different countries for multiple months before returning. At this point, your business should be utterly independent of your location.

It is inevitable that a phase of depression will happen if you have nothing to do, so it is paramount to find something to dedicate yourself to - not work. Social service is among the best, but everything is fine as long as it improves the life of someone else.

Main Takeaways

There are a lot of useful advice gold nuggets in this book, but for me the biggest takeaways were this:

  • Seeing that the nonstandard toolbox can be applied to the world of business
  • The usefulness of Virtual Personal Assistants
  • The Fear Setting and Dreamlining Techniques
  • Most of the Benefits of the ‘New Rich’ are simply working remote and moving frequently

Application of the Toolbox for Nonstandard Thinking

Seeing that the toolbox for nonstandard thinking - or at least quite a few ideas from there - apply for businesses as well is quite a bit eye-opening. More specifically, it’s not that it applies, it’s more the how. It certainly is an interesting implementation of classically nonstandard approaches to life.

Virtual Personal Assistants

I was aware of competent yet easily available virtual assistants, but I never took a closer look into them. He provides a detailed and informed second look, and it certainly made me much more aware of their usefulness - and that I do not need any, right now. Being aware and more open to the possibility is likely to improve my productivity sometime in the future.

Fear Setting and Dreamlining

While I thought I had read something about Fear Setting before, I was unable to find anything from memory fragments. The basic idea is to define the biggest fears you have, and by doing so, noticing that the biggest fear was uncertainty. This is an incredibly valuable technique, though the number of times to apply it is limited. Dreamlining can be used more often, and I used a similar technique in a goal setting workshop before. I have since incorporated part of it in the workshop, since it is complements some other techniques quite well.

The Benefits

It does not feel like being a member of the ‘New Rich’ is ultimately different than working remote and traveling for extended periods of time.

Similar to what happened just a few months ago: suddenly almost everyone worked remote. His main additional proposition seems to be to move to a new country every few months. As far as I understand it, it will net you almost all the same benefits. Additionally, you’d have a stable routine already. I see that it could be dangerous; as in: since you have a routine already, you stop going outside and meeting new people and actually experiencing where you live.

So regardless of me having a muse supporting me financially, this sounds like something exciting I’ll do at some point.

Criticism

Overall, I liked reading the book. I gained a lot of useful tips from it. There’s a bunch of things I’ll try, and I’m glad I read it.

But there was something that struck me: Everything is treated in a severe amoral manner. I definitely gained something from it. I certainly do not know if it is the correct way, or how it would look like, but I would not want it to be like … this. It feels like there is more to be gained from life, more … collaboration.

That’s not something specific about the book though, it is something I noticed about Timothy Ferris in interviews prior to reading the book.

Still, I gained a couple ideas, a few approaches and frameworks from reading the book. Undeniably more than I was looking for.

So if you are looking for application of classic nonstandard productivity advice or how to get more productive, it’s probably worth your time. You might even get down to the four hour workweek, though I would not bet on it.

Favorite Quotes

Different is better when it is more effective or more fun

Focus on being productive instead of busy

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

What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.

[a] lack of time is actually [a] lack of priorities

So be bold and don’t worry about what people think. They don’t do it that often anyway