Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Maybe something that's NOT a job ...

Brendan Tripp

Some days I think that maybe looking for "a job" isn't all it's cracked up to be ... maybe I don't want "a job" ... but I want to keep the house, educate the kids, pay the bills, etc., what else is there? Well, this very popular book by Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, is the book for those moods.

Based on his own very extraordinary experiences, Ferriss has crafted a "system" which purports to let its users achieve a "4-hour workweek", which provides periodic "retirements" in the course of one's productive life. I'd seen this title cropping up a numerous contexts and reading lists, and figured that I should give it a read. While it ended up being something that was not particularly connecting with me, I could see this being very enticing to many others in somewhat different life situations. My conflicted reactions to this have produced what's probably my longest review ever, as the over-all goal of Ferriss' book is certainly something I'd like to achieve, and much of that verbiage was spent on trying to understand why I wasn't "getting it"!

I was also very fortunate to have been able to get an interview with Mr. Ferriss. He is pretty clear in the book that he's hard to get a hold of by design, but I guess I just hit the right e-mail box with the right request at the right time (even though he was deeply enmeshed in writing his new book, in the midst of some unscheduled travel!) and we were able to get the following done with a phone call and a couple of emails:

Q: Given all the amazing things included in your bio in the book, can you briefly summarize your background?

A: As you note, it's a lot more involved than a standard resume; but career-wise, back in 2000 I was in storage area networking, providing storage systems to companies in silicon valley. While there I independently developed a sports nutrition business, and by 2005 began formulating what was to become The 4-Hour Workweek, which was published in 2007. I sold the nutrition business in 2009, and have been doing consulting, speaking, and working as an angel investor in projects that I find interesting since.

Q: Have you had notable job-transition experiences?

A: Well, the data storage job was as an employee at a tech start-up, with 7am-9pm hours. My transition out of that and into my own company was gradual, as was figuring out how to totally automate that business and free me up from most management functions. This allowed me to travel, and do projects like lecturing at Princeton a couple of times a year. The seed of the book came from this, as I was teaching a class over the phone from Argentina, and some of the students suggested that I just go ahead a write a book about it.

Q: Why did you decide to write a book about such radical lifestyle change?

A: Honestly, I had no idea how this would take off. I had initially prepared the book proposal as an exercise to organize my thoughts about how to best achieve my lifestyle goals. I sent it to Chicken Soup for the Soul author Jack Canfield who put me in touch with my agent, who shopped it around to 27 publishers before Crown picked it up.

Q: How can those folks "between jobs and looking" best use this system (aside from the very tempting story of the fellow who outsourced his job search to virtual assistants in India)?

A: The mind-set shift is important, most people look for work, find work, and their lifestyle is a side-effect of that. What I'm saying is that we should start with the lifestyle image and work backwards to work. A good example of a job seeker thinking "outside the box" would be the recent story of a guy who got a job through Google ads, exhibiting his skills to the audience of targeted executives ... the way you search for a job should reflect your ability to do that job.

Q: If you had just ONE piece of advice for today's job searcher, what would that be?

A: Focus on defining your longer-term lifestyle objectives and the costs of achieving those goals. Figure out the monthly costs involved (which are likely to be far less that you might suspect), and then shape your job to fit those needs. Rather than "looking for a job", design the lifestyle and then find the means to support that. For some example case studies, search for "cold remedy" on the blog and you'll find videos submitted by readers who have put the book into practice.

Q: What do you feel makes your book unique?

A: It's a pretty unique approach in and of itself ... it's very practical, with low-risk approaches to uncommon living.

Q: Aside from your book, what resources do you recommend?

A: I'd recommend checking out another couple of books: "The Magic of Thinking Big" by David J. Schwartz, and "Vagabonding" by Rolf Potts. My blog, which somehow became one of the top-1000 blogs in the world, also has a ton of case studies and how-to information and experiments. All of it's free.

Again, I am very grateful to Mr. Ferriss for making the effort to allow this interview to happen, and judging from the popularity of the book (it is currently #118 out of Amazon's over-all book rankings), "it must be me" in my various issues taken with The 4-Hour Workweek. It's a book filled with hundreds of resources, much good advice, assorted tools and tips, and is a very enjoyable read available for a very reasonable price, so is a recommended read for job seeker, if just to see a different possible life path!

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