TMBA 428: A Critique of Tim Ferriss' 4-Hour Workweek

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A recent episode of Tim Ferriss’ podcast caught the attention of Dan and Ian.

It was titled “The 4-Hour Workweek Revisited”.

Tim Ferriss is the author of The 4-Hour-Workweek, which is easily the most influential book in our community of location-independent entrepreneurs.

The book is now a decade old and, perhaps because of its prominence and influence, it has received quite a few criticisms over the years, many of which Tim addressed in his podcast.

In this episode, Dan and Ian discuss their thoughts on Tim’s reappraisal, the themes presented in his original book and why The 4-Hour Workweek is still such an important part of the entrepreneurial zeitgeist a decade after it was released.


Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • Why Tim believes some people are turned off by the tone of the book. (2:46)
  • Who Tim originally wrote The 4-Hour Workweek for. (7:03)
  • What it means to “Fill in the Void” and why people should take that chapter of the book more seriously. (12:38)
  • How the book would look if it were written today. (20:03)
  • Dan and Ian’s thoughts on a recent New York Times piece about Digital Nomads. (28:52)

Mentioned in the episode:

This week’s sponsor:

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST. Cheers, Dan & Ian

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Published on 02.15.18
  • Seán Feehan

    Since Tim wrote that book for his already sufficiently wealthy friends, do you think you guys have a spot in the market to address the needs of the complete newbs?

  • you mean this blog specifically? not sure I quite get what you’re pointing at. When I meet folks who’ve read the book and want to explore the entrepreneurial / LI lifestyle I almost always recommend that they get an apprenticeship or job with a small entrepreneurial company. Of course the amount of career cache you have counts, so I might not say that to somebody at the top of an org chart in bank/corporation for example.

    we’re working on generating those opportunities at

  • Seán Feehan

    Yeah that’s spot on. The average person that reads the 4HWW and have the impetus to push and seek out that life are never really in an immediate position to pursue it. So yeah the apprenticeship ship gig would be a great environment to learn from doers

  • a lot of the early articles/pods here at the TMBA was trying to develop strategies for those of us who basically were sold on the vision and willing to do the work, but were unclear of how somebody got to a position where they could ‘take off.’ i was lucky enough to have read the book while I already had a few years under my belt making decisions for a multi-million dollar business. it was still very difficult for us to make it work so I can relate to the frustrations many readers have.

  • Evaldas Miliauskas

    The first time I got 4HWW into my hands, then even translated into my native language I just skimmed few pages and reading 1 tactic it turned me off quickly feeling its somekind of scam trying to sell online. Only quite a bit years later I heard a bout it again not by accident on your pod (new version). It’s a shame to admit that I still haven’t read it, even after so many episodes, but as you reference its concepts quite often I feel I’m already quite familiar with it.

    Anyway, wanted to ask what was the song playing in the background on this ep? Quite a nice tune.

  • Jane Beresford

    OneRepublic – Counting Stars

  • Never knew that the reader that Tim had in mind was an investment banker! That was me, the first time I read 4HWW. I recently re-read it, and having been living it for a few years now, your critiques were pretty spot on. I don’t see a lot of entrepreneurs spending their days becoming tae-kwon-do masters either.

    I’m curious – you said the tactics had “changed” over the 10 years. But was there EVER a time where (for example) adwords / infoproducts were so easy that you could profitably make a fortune selling any old thing? Is the reason the business models in 4HWW seem ‘dated’ just that things have become more competitive? Or, from what you’ve seen over your long journey, was it always a lot harder than TF was making out even back in 2007?

  • it’s probably better as a sales letter to the lifestyle than a guidebook for it, so in that sense probably not such a shame you haven’t gotten around to it! TMBA archives essentially cover it all and much more ;)

  • cheers yeah I’m not sure if it was exactly investment banking but defo banking and he was making good money had a great career. it certainly seems to be the case that most readers aren’t in that situation. Also regarding filling the void and tae-kwon-do it seems Tim is more like the rest of us than his writing would suggest: after his business caused him to breakdown he applied 4HWW thinking to it and reduced it to Four Hours a Week, but still sold it to “free up mental ram.” His level of production and anxiety about his projects/business he’s expressed over the past decade frankly do not suggest that he’s very good at achieving the ideal suggested in the book. I honestly don’t begrudge him of that, though simply because there’s so much value in the book, if he had that ‘old wisdom’ perspective he probably wouldn’t have written it. The ideals, even if they are improbable as expressed, are still great food for thought.

  • Evaldas Miliauskas


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