The Four Hour Work Week: Review
Let me get right to it – this book is awful. It is made far more awful by the fact that I, over-consumer of all variety of news, Twitter gossip, technology blogs got suckered into reading something so simplistic, so poorly written, so ridiculous in its overall execution of a (promising) premise and so narrow in its end goals.
Now, let me qualify that. If you work in a soul-crushing job that teems with unimaginative management – the kind that won’t ever let you work remotely, the kind that expects that you delight in your own micromanagement, the kind that won’t let you visit “personal websites” while at work (I’ve actually worked in a company that did this), you may find several choice nuggets of wisdom in this book. You may be inspired by Tim Ferriss’ admonitions to live now, find a way to upward-manage your bosses, etc. I grant the book that and I’m sure it has been valuable to a particular set of people.
But if you work in most enlightened places, especially in Silicon Valley, this book is a joke. Most of us love and value our work. We want to build technology at startups. We want to build great teams. Our managers don’t care if we work remotely or not. Hell, NetFlix doesn’t even have a vacation policy!
So with that being said, I find it incredulous that the book was actually read and discussed – and not with a sense of irony reserved for “Snakes On A Plane” – in Silicon Valley. I mean, seriously, folks? The book spends a whole chapter outlining how the author shilled sports supplements on the Internet, and NOW YOU CAN TOO (Billy Mays, RIP). I can understand folks who don’t understand AdWords or A/B testing deriving value from this, but is this what *we* are about? We obsess over whether the new web companies are “dipshit companies” (quoting Arrington here) but take this informercial at face value.
One final caveat: the book was published in 2006, only a year or two after Tom Friedman’s “The World Is Flat”. The ideas on hiring virtual assistants were fresh at the time, and outsourcing was actually a topic that more people cared about at the time. I read this in 2010 when several friends of mine actually have VAs so I found the detailed chapter repetitive and childish.
Bottom line, don’t waste your money. If you really want to read this infomercial, come take my copy. I refuse to send this to the library, have a strict anti-book-burning policy and don’t need paper weights in my line of work.