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This Friday, another installment in a series of posts I’m calling the “Paradox of the week.”[*]

And since summer is almost here, I thought a couple from The 4-Hour Workweek (2007, Crown Publishers) by entrepreneur Tim Ferriss (pictured above) might be appropriate:

  • In his book, Ferriss encourages his readers to question their priorities in life, and ask themselves: “Are you contributing anything useful to this world, or just shuffling papers, banging on a keyboard, and coming home to a drunken existence on weekends?” (p. 23).

But if someone asks him what he does, Ferriss admits to bragging “I’m a drug dealer” (p. 6) before confessing that this is only “half true.” (For a time, Ferriss made his money selling nutritional supplements.) He also singles out for praise the success of a protégé who, having finally extricated himself from the 9-to-5 grind, returns from Oktoberfest celebrations “dazed from killing neurons…” (p. 230).

  • Perhaps more in keeping with the title of his treatise, however, Ferriss makes a number of recommendations regarding how you might shave time from your workday. These include checking your e-mail less often (p. 93), avoiding meetings whenever possible (p. 99), and empowering your subordinates to make decisions for you (p. 105) – all of which strike me as constructive suggestions.

But Ferriss also argues in favor of what he calls a “low information diet,” and dismisses most information as “time-consuming” and “irrelevant to your goals” (p. 83). He furthermore claims “I never watch the news and have bought only one single newspaper in the last five years…” (p. 82). And yet unless you’re watching the news or reading newspapers at your place of business, it’s not clear how this will help you achieve that “4-hour” workweek.

(Personally, with roughly an extra 144 hours to kill each month, I’d be tempted to watch a bit more TV, or read a few more of those newspapers…)


See you next week.

[*] An instance in which a business or management “expert”/author/advice-giver/guru offers contradictory, or otherwise paradoxical advice, typically without any apparent awareness of having done so. For more on why this is such a common occurrence, please see: “Why you can throw out that management advice book (parts 1,2&3).”