The core idea behind the book is rethinking the standard life structure and some of the fundamental principles of our society – retirement, the value of money, happiness, productivity…
The quote below best describes the issue that this book is trying to tackle.
Grads from top schools are funnelled into high-income 80-hour-per-week jobs, and 15–30 years of soul-crushing work has been accepted as the default path. How do I know? I’ve been there and seen the destruction. This book reverses it.
The most gifted individuals are enslaved by education from the early ages, and after finishing education the society’s view of a “perfect” life is so hard-wired in their brains that they work on someone else’s dream for the rest of their life. Exchanging time for money is inevitable at some point in everyone’s life, however, what we should aim for is exchanging value for money. The more value we provide, the more money we earn, simple. Most people think of life as being a hard journey consisting of 9-5 work in exchange for (sometimes) relaxing weekends and the occasional keep-it-short-or-get-fired vacation.
Retirement, sometimes seen as the goal of life, the last approx. 20 years of your life that you hope to spend doing absolutely nothing. Tim Ferris thinks that working 40+ years enslaved in a job where your income depends on wasted time, not value provided to the company, just to save enough money to enjoy the last years of life sitting at home, barely being able to do anything due to physical inability is a flawed view and should be questioned. Tim presents the idea of mini-retirements, where you separate your life into sections and when you are at the “end” of each section, you take a 3-6 month vacation, move to a different country, or simply enjoy yourself. What this means, that instead of saving those 20 years for the last part of your life where physically, you won’t be able to do nearly as much as when you’re young, you should spread those 20 years throughout your life and learn from each mini-retirement as much as possible, eventually improving the quality of life back at “work”.
The reason for society’s view of retirement being flawed is described in the following quote.
Retirement as a goal or final redemption is flawed for at least three solid reasons: a. It is predicated on the assumption that you dislike what you are doing during the most physically capable years of your life. This is a nonstarter—nothing can justify that sacrifice. b. Most people will never be able to retire and maintain even a hotdogs-for-dinner standard of living. Even one million is chump change in a world where traditional retirement could span 30 years and inflation lowers your purchasing power 2–4% per year. The math doesn’t work. 3 The golden years become lower-middle-class life revisited. That’s a bittersweet ending. c. If the math does work, it means that you are one ambitious, hardworking machine. If that’s the case, guess what? One week into retirement, you’ll be so damn bored that you’ll want to stick bicycle spokes in your eyes. You’ll probably opt to look for a new job or start another company. Kinda defeats the purpose of waiting, doesn’t it?
Tim talks a lot about Parkinson’s law, I will use the Wikipedia definition first and then explain the thinking behind it.
Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”
What this means, is that the amount of time you give yourself to complete a task is the amount of time that it will take to complete it. If you give yourself a deadline of two weeks, you will subconsciously stretch the work to fill the amount of time you gave yourself, however, the result will be the same as if you gave yourself only one week. This is an important thing to think about when setting deadlines, ask yourself, if I sit down and try to complete this task in the shortest time, how long will it take me? Simply thinking about it will make you set a more reasonable deadline and get your work done quicker.
Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence.
What is productivity? For most people, productivity is simply spending time doing work prosperous for one’s future, rather than doing any activity that has either negative or no impact on one’s future or current state of mind. Tim Ferris explains that rather than trying to cram as many hours of work into one day to maximise revenue, people should focus on minimising work hours while maximising revenue. Meaning that the revenue can be smaller, as long as the hours put into work are significantly lower. Having said that, these free hours can then be used to generate more revenue more effectively.
The same applies when it comes to business, when one builds a successful business from scratch, instead of hiring people they should outsource everything and eventually build a system that will completely replace them so that the owner only has to work 4 hours a week. To save time, all startup owners should apply the 80/20 rule, which says that 80% of the revenue comes from 20% of the customers. This means, that the owner usually spends most of their time with high-maintenance customers that are not significant for the revenue of the company. It can be argued that losing a large number of customers that make up only a small part of the total revenue is extremely beneficial for both the company and the owner.
A good question to revisit whenever overwhelmed: Are you having a breakdown or a breakthrough?
The financial goal of a start-up should be simple: profit in the least time with the least effort. Not more customers, not more revenue, not more offices or more employees. More profit.