I was shopping on Amazon.com for books earlier and coincidentally came across 'The 4 Hour Work Week' by Mr. Tim Ferris which was a best seller on the New York Times' List. I actually own the book myself and was quite convinced and baffled by some of the author's ideas and his story. The book was a one of a kind, introducing some brilliant yet controversial ideas. Naturally, I was curious to the other side of the coin and proceeded to click on the '1 star reviews' by various customers who concluded after reading (often some!) of the book that it was complete garbage and a useless waste of ink

Naturally, the reviews varied in tone, length and complexity.

Some were just simply a sentence of disapproval, signed off with 'don't get the book, it's a waste of money' at the end of it. Others gave a quick story of how they came to hate this book. But some, actually attempted to give an argument and state the various flaws in Mr. Ferris' book.

There was even one review purposefully '1 starred' to support Mr. Ferris (His real rating is 5 stars) by giving the book haters a chance to read a good review.

Some of the persuasive techniques used almost made me reconsider the quality of  Mr. Ferris' first gem! Those that wrote just one sentence rants (that's not even a review in my opinion) were quickly ignored as they placed no value whatsoever in enhancing my understanding of the other side. However, once I quickly read through all the reviews, I began looking in depth at those who actually spent time trying to construct an argument against the book.

Many arguments were put up, some of them dealing with Mr. Ferris' morals and ethics, such as

1. "Well, at least he admits that he won the cage fighting championship by cheating." The most convincing argument about that was "By the rules, if his opponent "falls off the elevated platform three times in a single round," he wins on a technicality. So his sole technique for getting the prize was shoving guys weighing almost thirty pounds less than himself off the platform. No skill, no talent, and no long, arduous training. Guys who'd disciplined and sacrificed themselves for years to have a chance at winning that gold medal didn't just so this jerk could check off yet another box on his "How Great I Am" resume."

2. Lying to your manager by working unproductively in the office and 'ensures that his days outside the office are most productive to date' (direct quote from The 4 Hour Work Week, Page 218 The last 3rd of the Page)

3. "Mix a handful of shopworn business truisms ("20% of customers provide 80% of profits," "Work always fills the time allotted") with a jaw-slackening disregard for basic ethics and you get Tim Ferriss's "lifestyle design" plan."

The next couple were generalisations that were either supported or not supported, like:

1. It's unrealistic - all the outsourcing, working only 4 hours a week, travelling the world learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, tango etc.

2. The writer's egotistical nature and arrogance in talking about his story, and his methods

3. Some also argued that "I value 'unnecessary' communications such as regular pleasantries as vital to my interactions with my fellow human beings. If that means I only get one house and don't get to summer in the Riviera, then so be it. "

4. Some stated that his book was mostly a filler and "he could have eliminated about 300 of the 320 pages that he has written."

5. "A quick get-rich-scheme for the shallow."

Anyway you get the idea. I was so convinced by some of these arugments I actually had to put my hands on my head like I was playing a real game of chess and think!

After analysing with cold-blooded logic, it became clear.

Most of the reviews were merely folly attempts at discreditting the book. Now hang on! I might be biased. So let me put up a few arugments.

First of the Moral and Ethics questions are very personal and is completely different to each and every one of us. I think that winning the Kickboxing championships like that is pretty ridiculous (so yes it's bad), but I praise his creativity.

As with his other methods, I think he has a point to make about this. Especially if we consider in society our social network. Most of us only have a few true friends that would come to aid us in time of need. The rest of the people we know are either fair-weather friends, work colleagues or people we've once spoken to and maybe forgotten.

For me I value friendships highly but it goes without saying that we should never intentionally deceive anyone, but the truth is that it's not about 'I'm going to do nothing at the office and do work 24/7 at home to show my productivity at home' but rather that now I have motivation to work at home, so naturally you will be more productive, and it serves a greater person and doesn't bother anyone! Because the work is still being done. So if the boss is happy, what have you got to complain about?

The other complaints like unrealistic, outsourcing, arrogant nature has failed to sway me at all. Seriously, if someone writes a 'how-to' to try and help you reach new heights he's trying to inspire you, that's probably how it works. He's showing you how 'pathetic' childhood led to his successes to show you that it CAN be done. As for the arrogance, it could a writing style suitable for some people but I think the truth behind it is that he's trying to put himself in command to get you off your asses and something done in your life. How many times have we gotten up at 5:30am to to train for the next basketball competition? What if your dad pulled you out of bed and forced you with a commanding roar? You'd do it then? Right? I think his style is commanding and confident in order to try and convince you to get started. And believe me, that's the hardest part of being successful. Step one.

Now I may sound overly biased at this point but let me tell you something. The negative reviews had their points and views. But let me ask you this: "How do you KNOW without trying?"

Basically, the readers have gone and read (some) of the book, and after putting it down, conclude that its complete garbage and move on. That's not very convincing at all. You can criticise his unorthodox methods, his arrogance but he's there. He's rich, he's living the lifestyle he wants. And you ain't. Because you haven't got the guts to try out what he said. I am almost certain 98% of all the reviews giving 1 star haven't even begun to try to engineer a muse. So that's why it doesn't work, so that's why the book's garbage - because YOU haven't tried out the methods yourself.

A convincing review is only convincing IF the review states his books flaws because he's encountered various problems whilst following his methods and his book fails to provide an antidote. None of the reviews said anything close to "I tried out his methods of outsourcing, but I then discovered the problems blah blah blah." Or even "I've tried to engineering a muse and even though I'm getting a couple of customers Ferris doesn't explicitly show how to bring it to the next level." Where are all these complaints? In the 4 star category?

But low and behold, there was one review that came pretty close:

"Also, I've been running a number of websites for a few years (trying to create financial freedom for myself) and I can tell you it is not easy. Nearly all commercial websites fail. His system will not work for 99% of people. Basically he got lucky. He forgets to mention that part."

And I think that's a valid point. Possibly the only valid point apart from the moral and ethics arguments. Yes. He did get lucky. That's part of life. Luck acounts for less thant 2% of life but it's often a life changer.

So there, a perfect example of a legit argument. I enjoyed reading all the rants actually. I hope next time you read a rant you can differentiate between loudmouthing and intelligent persuasion.

Please don't forget to leave a comment!


Comments (3)

On January 30, 2011 at 10:32 PM , Jerry said...

Just testing this comment. Does it work?

On January 30, 2011 at 10:37 PM , Anonymous said...


On January 30, 2011 at 10:39 PM , Anonymous said...

YAYYY IT DOES but i gotta say this whole blog is soo different , just srsly im running out of words i dont know what to say. its different to the otehr blogs i've pondered upon in the past and trust me thi is far the best and really unique. more like a pychology thing but HEY its good. keep up the good work jerry you are talented and i know (: continue to vent out ! haha