Monday, May 19, 2008

*** 4 hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is quite a character. Having become rich at an early age has allowed him to examine life from an interesting perspective, and his viewpoint can be enlightening and liberating. One of the key learnings is the surprising fact that you don't actually have to be rich to enjoy the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences that you desire in life. Many can be had for reasonable sum - if you have the courage and the time to live them. That is the true wisdom here. How you manage your time and how you overcome your fears is the predictor of success. Because those are the things that ultimately hold you back, not the lack of money. Read the notes and ponder what is important to you, and see if this new information helps you realize a few of your dreams.


He who has the most toys loses to he who has the most experiences
Most people desire to buy all things they want to have. You should rather want to do all the things you desire you to do, and be all the things you want to be. If this includes some tools and gadgets, so be it, but they are either means to an end or bonuses, not the focus. P23

Why successful sales people are on the golf course in the middle of the day
When I was in sales, I realized that most cold calls didn’t get to the intended person for one reason: gatekeepers. If I simply made all my calls from 8 to 8:30am and 6 to 6:30pm, for a total of 1 hour, I was able avoid secretaries and book more than twice as many meetings as the other sales reps who called between 9 to 5. In other words, I got twice the results for 1/8 the time. P31

Ask for forgiveness, not permission
If the potential damage of your actions is moderate or in any way reversible don’t give people the chance to say no. Most people are fast to stop you before you get started but hesitant to get in the way if you’re moving. Get good at being a troublemaker and saying sorry when you really screw up. P34

Most people are good at a handful of things, and utterly miserable at most… It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix your weaknesses. The choice is between multiplication of results using your strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will at best become mediocre. Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repair of your weakest ones. P34

The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. The opposite of happiness is not sadness, but boredom. Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all. P51


Dreamlining
Create 2 timelines – 6 months and 12 months – and list up to 5 things you dream of having (material things), being (new skills/learnings), doing (places to see/experiences to do) in that order… All people have their vices and insecurities. If something will improve your self worth, put it down… Drawing a blank? Consider these questions:

  • What would you do – day to day – if you had $100M in the bank?
  • What would make you most excited to wake up in the morning?
  • What/Where is the 1 thing to visit, to do before you die, to do daily, to do weekly?
  • What have you always wanted to learn?

For every item where you answered “I want to be XYZ.”, make it actionable. So if XYZ is Chef, then make the action I will cook Thanksgiving dinner for the entire family this year. Of if it is being fluent in Chinese, make the action that I will have a 15 minute conversation with a Chinese native.

Now choose the 4 of the most compelling dreams you wrote down (out of 15). Determine the cost per month for each dream. Spread the dreams and their costs out over the year. Now determine your target monthly income to realize these 4 dreams over the year.

Finally, come up with 3 action steps for each of the 4 dreams and take the first step in each NOW! Don’t wait. This is your dream after all, right?! P59-60


Comfort Challenge
Gaze into the eyes of others for the next 2 days whether you pass people on the street or conversational partners – until they break contact. Focus on one eye and be sure to blink so you don’t look like a psychopath or get your ass kicked. Make sure to maintain eye contact when you’re speaking. It’s easy to do while listening. Practice with people bigger or more confident that yourself. If someone asks you what the hell you’re staring at just smile and respond “Sorry, I thought you were an old friend of mine.” P61



Time Management Tricks

There are two synergistic approaches for increasing productivity:

  1. Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time (80/20 rule)
  2. Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important (Parkinson’s Law that the work expands to the allotted time).

The best solution is to use both together: identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them very short and clear deadlines. P75


3 times per day at scheduled times, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I being productive or just active?
  2. Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?
  3. Dedication is often just meaningless work in disguise.
Be ruthless and cut the fat. P77


Having trouble deciding what is truly critical? Here are some questions to guide to your answer:
  1. If you had a heart attack and had to work 2 hours/day – what would you do?
  2. If you had a 2nd heart attack and had to work 2 hours/week – what would you do?
  3. If you had a gun to your head and had to remove 80% of different time consuming activities, what would you remove?
  4. What are the top 3 activities you use to fill time to feel as though you’ve been productive?
  5. If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied?

If you haven’t already accomplished at least one important task in the day, don’t spend the last business hour returning a DVD to avoid a $5 fine. Get the important task done and pay the fine.

Don’t multitask. Divided attention will result in more frequent interruptions, lapses in concentration, poorer net results, and less gratification. P79-80


Comfort Challenge
Learn to propose and stop asking for opinions if someone asks you something. Offer a solution and stop the back and forth by making a decision. Here are some lines as openers:

  • Can I make a suggestion…
  • I’d like to propose…
  • I suggest that… What do you think? (weak)
  • Let’s try… and then try something else if that doesn’t work.

When people expect that you won’t respond to emergencies, the emergencies somehow stop existing or don’t come to you any longer. Problems solve themselves or disappear if you remove yourself as an information bottleneck and empower others. P83

How to read faster in 10 minutes

  1. Use a pen or finger to trace under each line. Reading is series of jumping snapshots (saccades) and using a visual guide prevents regression
  2. Begin each line by focusing on the 3rd word in from the line start, and the 3rd word from the line end (see bolding). This makes use of peripheral vision that is otherwise wasted, and the entire sentence is read with less eye movement.
  3. Once good at the above try to take only 2 snapshots per line
  4. Practice reading too fast for comprehension with the above techniques for 5 pages. Then switch to a pace where you can comfortably comprehend what you’re reading. This will heighten perception and reset your speed limit muck like driving 70mph for a short distance makes going 50mph seem slow. P86

Practice the art of nonfinishing.
If you’re reading an article or book that sucks, put it down. If you go to a movie that is bad, get the hell out of there before more neurons die. If you’re full after a half a plate of ribs, put the damn fork down and don’t order dessert. More is not better, and stopping is often 10 times better than finishing it. P88

Information Diet
Ask yourself ‘Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?’ If no on either count, don’t consume this information. Information is useless if it is not applied to something important or if you forget to apply it before you have a chance to apply it. P88

Comfort Challenge
Ask for phone numbers of at least 2 (the more the better) attractive members of the opposite sex for 2 days in a row. Make sure that you maintain eye contact! Aim to ask people in rapid fire like 2 to 3 people in a row within 5 minutes. Here are some lines you can use:
Excuse me. I know this is going to sound strange, but if I don’t ask you now, I’ll be kicking myself for the rest of the day. I’m running to meet a friend (ie. I have friends and am not a stalker), but I think you’re really [cute, hot, gorgeous]. Could I please have your phone number? I’m not a psycho – I promise. You can give me a fake one if you’re not interested.

How to get straight A's at Princeton
If I received anything less than an A on the first paper or non-multiple choice test in a class. I would bring 2-3 hours of questions to the grader’s office hours and not leave until the other had answered them all or stopped out of exhaustion. This served 2 important purposes: first, I learned exactly how the grader evaluated work, including prejudices and peeves; second, that grader would think long and hard about ever giving me less than an A. There’d have to exceptional reasons for doing so, because they knew I’d be coming back for another 3 hour visit. P91

Email Tricks
Check email twice per day (at noon and 4pm). Never check email first thing in the morning. Instead complete your most important task before 11am to avoid using lunch or reading your email as a postponement. Before implementing this twice daily rule, you must create an autoresponse that will train others. I would recommend that you don’t ask to implement this. Beg for forgiveness; don’t ask for permission. Here’s a sample autoresponse email:

Greetings Friends [or Esteemed Colleaguges],

Due to high workload, I am currently checking and responding to email twice daily at 12pm and 4pm PT. If you require urgent assistance (please ensure that is urgent) that can’t wait until either 12 or 4pm, please contact me via phone at XXX-YYYY.

Thank you for your understanding this move to more efficiency and effectiveness. It helps me accomplish more to serve you better.

Sincerely, Your Name Here p93


Phone Tricks

The office phone should be put on silent mode and roll over to voicemail at all times. The voicemail recording should sound familiar.

You’ve reached the desk of [your name here].

I’m currently checking voicemail at noon and 4pm PT. If you require assistance with a truly urgent matter that can’t wait until either noon or 4pm, please contact me on my cell at XXX-YYYY. Otherwise please leave a message, and I will return it at the next of those 2 times. Be sure to leave your email address, as I’m often able to respond faster that way. Thank you for your understanding this move to more efficiency and effectiveness. It helps me accomplish more to serve you better. Have a wonderful day. P95

If someone does call your cell, it is presumably urgent and should be treated as such. Your greeting is critical. After saying ‘Hi this is Tim who’s calling?’, follow up immediately with ‘Hi So and So, I’m right in the middle of something, how can I help you?’ They might say ‘Oh, I can call back’, but you counter with ‘No, I have a minute. What can I do for you?’ Don’t encourage chit chat. If they meander, reel them in get them to come to the point. Cut in with ‘So and So, Sorry to interrupt, but I have a call in 5 minutes. What specifically can I do help out?’ p96

Meeting Tricks

If someone proposes that you meet with them or set a time to talk on the phone, ask that person to send you an email with an agenda to define the purpose. You can reply to their request like this:

That sounds doable. So I can best prepare, can you please send me an email reply with an agenda? That is, the topics and questions we’ll need to address? That would be great. Thanks in advance.

The email forces the other party to define the desired outcome. 90% of the time, a meeting is unnecessary and you can answer the questions, once defined, via email. Impose this habit on others. P98

If you can’t stop the meeting or call from happening, define the end time. Cite other commitments at odd times to make them believable (3:20 vs 3:30) and force people to focus instead of socialize or commiserate. P99

There is an inescapable setup time for all tasks. It is often the same for one as it is for hundred of the same task. There is a psychological switching of the gears that can require 45min to resume a major task that has been interrupted. More than a quarter of each 9 to 5 period – 28% - is consumed by such interruptions. P102

Comfort Challenge
Say ‘No’ to all requests for 2 days. Don’t be selective. Refuse to do all things that won’t get you immediately fired. Be selfish. When you can’t just say “No.”, use a simple non-offensive answer like ‘I really can’t – sorry. I’ve got too much on my plate right now.’

Finding $ for your dreams

Be a member of your target market and don’t speculate what others need or will be willing to buy. P147

To find a profitable niche ask these questions of yourself

  1. What social, industry, and professional groups do I belong to? Look at your resume, habits, work experience and people that you associate with, and ask what groups of people purchase the same?
  2. Which groups that you identified have their own magazine? Visit large bookstores and view the magazines to see the niches in action.

Pick 2 markets that you are the most familiar with that have magazines with full page advertising costs of less than $5000 and readership greater than 15,000. p149

Aim for a product markup of 8 to 10x and for a product that takes 3 to 4 weeks to manufacture so you can avoid inventory and stockpiling… If the price point is above a certain point (>$200), prospects need to speak to someone before they are comfortable making the purchase. Price your product between $50-$200. Price as high as you can and justify. P151

Become an expert in something… Create content yourself to be seen as an expert, often via paraphrasing and combining points from several books on a topic… License content to help create content for your site… Repurpose content from the public domain such as gov’t documents. Join 2 or 3 trade organizations. Read 3 top selling books on your new area of expertise and summarize each on 1 page. Give a 1 to 3 hour free presentation at the closest well know university. Then do the same at 2 well known companies. Tell the company that you have given seminars at University X and are a member of those 2 to 3 groups, and that you’re offering this free to get experience outside of academia and will not be selling products or services. Record the seminars from 2 angles for later potential as DVDs/CDs. Write 1 or 2 articles for trade magazines. Join ProfNet (www.prleads.com/discountpage mention Tim Ferriss) and www.expertclick.com (use Tim Ferriss $100 for discount) so journalists can find you as an expert. P 160

Comfort Challenge
Call one superstar mentor per day – for 3 days. Email only after attempting a phone call and call before 8:30am or after 6pm. Have a single question in mind, one that you have researched but have been unable to answer. Use www.contactanycelebrity.com if need be… Ask for the target mentor by first name & last name, not Mr. John Grisham, but John Grisham. Here’s an example:

Hi, this is YOUR NAME calling for John Grisham, please.

Them: What is this regarding?

You: Sure. I know this might sound odd, but I’m a first time author/entrepreneur/artist/whatever and just read his interview/book. I’m a longtime fan and have finally built up the courage to call him for ONE specific piece of advice. It wouldn’t take more than TWO minutes of his time. Is there any way you can help me get through to him? I really, really appreciate whatever you can do.

IF you’re lucky enough to get through, repeat the above to the mentor and end with…

You: Thank you so much for being so generous with your time. If I have the occasional tough question – very occasional – is there any chance I could keep in touch via email?

Public Domain Content

If you modify a public domain work through abridging or footnoting by 20%, the new complete work may be copyrighted. Here are some public domain sites:

www.gutenberg.org

www.librivox.org

Hotrecorder records any phone call starting or received by a PC and can be used with Skype.

To get an accurate indicator of commercial viability don’t ask if they would buy – ask them to buy. The response to the second is the only one that matters. P167

How to reduce service overhead

  1. Offer only 1 or 2 purchase options (basic and premium)
  2. Don’t offer multiple shipping options. Offer 1 fast method method and charge a premium
  3. Don’t offer overnight or expedited shipping as this will produce 100s of anxious phone calls
  4. Eliminate phone orders
  5. Don’t offer int’l shipments
  6. Don’t accept checks, money orders or WesternUnion
  7. Raise wholesale mins to 12-100 units and demand a Fed Tax ID
  8. Refer all resellers to an online order form that must be filled out and faxed in
  9. Offer low priced items instead of free to capture contact info. Offering something free is the best way to attract time eaters and spend money on those unwilling to return the favor
  10. Offer a lose/win guarantee like 110% money back, or if you don’t like it we’ll buy the competitor’s solution for you.

How to look bigger than you really are

  1. Don’t be CEO or Founder. Be a director
  2. Put multiple email contacts for depts on your contact page
  3. Setup an interactive voice response system. www.angel.com
  4. Don’t provide a home address or people will come visit you there. Don’t put in PO box, say suite.

Comfort Challenge
Relax in public. Once per day for 2 days simply lie down in a well trafficked public place at some point for at least 10 seconds. Don’t explain it all. If someone asks, just say “I felt like lying down for a second.”

Traveling with Children tip
Give each child some virtual cash $.25-.50 for each hour of good behavior. The same amount is subtracted from their accounts for breaking the rules. All purchases for fun come out their own individual accounts. No balance, no goodies. P241

Retirees often get depressed because of social isolation. Offices are good for some things; free bad coffee and complaining thereof, gossip, and commiserating, stupid video clips, meetings that accomplish nothing, etc. The job itself might be a dead end, but it’s the web of human interactions that keeps many of us there. Once retired this automatic tribal unit disappears. P266

How to answer life's biggest questions
Before spending time a stress inducing big question eg. What is the meaning of life? Ensure that the answer is ‘yes’ to the following 2 questions:

  1. Have I decided on a single meaning for each term in this question?
  2. Can an answer to this question be acted upon to improve things?

What is the meaning of life fails the first and thus the second… If you can’t define it or act upon it, forget it. If you take just this point from the book, it will put you into the top 1% of performers of the world and keep most philosophical distress out of your life. P269


How to be nicer to yourself
Note self criticisms and negative self talk in a journal. Whenever upset or anxious ask ‘why’ at least 3 times and put the answers on paper. Describing these doubts in writing reduces their impact twofold. First, it’s often the ambiguous nature of self doubt that hurts the most. Defining and exploring it in writing forces clarity of thought, after which most concerns are found to be baseless. Second, recording these somehow seems to remove them from your head. P276

Want to be a philanthropist?
Answer these questions to guide your efforts:

  1. What makes your most angry about the state of the world
  2. What are you most afraid of for the next generation
  3. What makes you happiest, and how can you help others have the same

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror and asked myself ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something… almost everything – all expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving you what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. Steve Jobs at Stanford 2005 commencement.

Good Books:

Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

How to Make Millions with your Ideas by Dan Kennedy

Emyth Revisited: Why most small business don’t work by Michael Gerber

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

Less is More: Voluntary Poverty by Goldian Vandenbroeck

Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar

80/20 Principle by Richard Koch

This business has legs by Peter Bieler

Secrets of Power Negotiating by Roger Dawson

Small Giants by Bo Burlingham

Six months off by Hope Dlugozima

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