The 4-Hour Workweek: Key People
There is an unending stream of stars parading through the pages of Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek, not the least of whom is Ferriss himself. A world traveler and successful business owner, Ferriss is also a Princeton graduate, champion tango dancer and kickboxer, TV star, speed reader, language fanatic, athletic advisor, political activist, hurling competitor, author … and the list goes on. In The 4-Hour Workweek, Ferriss takes his obsession with clarity and efficiency and, with the help of geoarbitrage and out-of-the-box thinking, applies it to work, money, time, and resources in general, and then teaches the rest of us the resulting equation. The following are only some of the many people who have dared to expand and re-form their lives by applying the book’s principles.
Dale Begg-Smith discovered part of his calling at the ripe old age of thirteen. Together with his fifteen-year-old brother Jason, Dale started what would become one of the top internet IT businesses. But that was only half the story. When the Canadian ski team decided that he was spending too much time on his business, Dale emigrated to Australia and joined their top-notch ski team. In 2006, at the age of 21, with a successful business to back his pursuits, Dale Begg-Smith took the Olympic gold in skiing.
Hans Keeling trained as a lawyer and was on his way up in the ranks of what some would consider a dream career. But Hans had slept under his desk one too many times, so when he came home from his Brazilian vacation, he kept his promise to himself and promptly handed in his resignation. Now Hans owns his own surf-adventure company in Brazil, where he has found the woman of his dreams and a life he really enjoys. Once, like so many, he feared throwing it all away. Now, doing what he loves, he knows better.
Jean-Marc Hachey is the author of The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas and an editor and columnist for Transitions Abroad, now online. Although Jean-Marc now lives in a nice home in Ontario with his wife and children, he had a valuable lesson in simplicity in the early 1980s, when he landed in Ghana at one of the worst possible times: in the midst of civil unrest, economic inflation, and drought. Relegated to the same gruel day in and day out, Jean-Marc quickly realized that friendship outweighed all externals and that human beings were far more adaptable than they might imagine.
A.J. Jacobs is an editor at Esquire magazine, but his primary role in The 4-Hour Workweek is as the main outsourcing case study. A.J. gives a hilarious recounting of his first adventures in outsourcing as much of his life as possible to several Indian remote assistants. This included not only various business items but also sending apologies to his wife and offloading his psychological baggage (outsourcing worry). Aside from making the point that you can outsource just about anything, it’s very funny.
Ritika and Venky are both in the outsourcing business and feature prominently in The 4-Hour Workweek, Ritika as the representative of Brickwork India and Venky as the representative of YMII, or Your Man In India, which also has a division called GetFriday. Brickwork is an executive virtual assistant firm specializing in the business end of things, with tight security and highly qualified people, while YMII’s claim to fame is that they will perform a huge variety of tasks—as Venky says, “Don’t limit yourself. Just ask us if something is possible.”
Douglas “Demon Doc” Price capitalized on his own musicianship in choosing his “muse,” Pro Sound Effects, which licenses sound effects to media producers such as musicians and filmmakers. As of the first writing of The 4-Hour Workweek, Doug had also traveled to Croatia, was about to go to Japan, had launched another start-up—Last Bamboo—with a friend and business partner, gotten involved with the sound aspect at one of Boston’s best contemporary art galleries, and released his own hip-hop album.
Trained as an engineer, Sherwood Forlee has worked as an award-winning product designer for various companies as well as owning his own business. One of two major case studies for how to choose a niche market—the other being Johanna (last name unknown)—Sherwood helped to demonstrate how to get a “muse” off the ground. Later in the book, he also provided an excellent example of how to go about negotiating a remote work arrangement.
Ed Byrd was the founder of MRI, distributor of the top-selling U.S. sports supplement, NO2, from 2002-2005. Still a top seller, Byrd’s stroke of genius was in pricing NO2 at almost $80 (considered “outrageous”) and making it a GNC exclusive, thus preventing competitors from cannibalizing each other.
The new definition of MBA is Management by Absence, epitomized by Stephen McDonnell, founder and CEO of Applegate Farms. McDonnell spends one day per week at the company’s New Jersey headquarters and the rest of the time at his home in rural Pennsylvania, which Ferriss describes as a “200-year-old stone farmhouse.” This somewhat unusual setup has been in place since six months after the company’s founding—more than seventeen years—allowing McDonnell to spend more time with his family than he ever imagined while still running a successful business.
Aside from his ability to deliver excellent work, Dave Camarillo was just another of Hewlett-Packard’s thousands of employees—until he started taking his tech calls remotely … very remotely, in this case. In fact, Dave’s fiancee was nowhere near HP’s Palo Alto, California location. She was in China, which presented a slight logistical problem for Dave. After having his calls forwarded to his new wife’s cell phone, Dave finally broke the news to his boss. The result is that he now leads a geographically flexible life—in fact, he’s compensating for what he missed earlier in life—with his boss’s support.
Just out of college, Josh Steinitz was on his way to becoming a management consultant when he discovered that he had oral cancer. Now cancer-free, he had realized that there was no time to waste and now travels extensively. He is the founder of The Nile Project, Inc., a travel consultancy that helps people plan great trips. Josh takes his office with him wherever he goes and has been known to take calls on mountaintops or in temples, with the result that his remote clients can never be quite sure of what’s going on in the background.