This past Monday, I gave a presentation at SXSW Interactive in Austin, TX titled The 4-Hour Workweek: Secrets of Doing More with Less in a Digital World. It was my first public presentation on the principles in the book. It ended up standing room only and has caused some waves, being mentioned in the SF Chronicle, Wired, and other media since.
Two good attendee summaries of the presentation and its after-effects can be found at My Life May Have Just Been Changed and What would you do if you had 36 extra hours of free time each week?
For the last two years, at the end of each high-tech entrepreneurship lecture I give at Princeton, I have issued a challenge. I did the same in the SXSW presentation, offering a roundtrip ticket anywhere in the world to the person who implemented the principles and told me about it in the most dramatic fashion by 12 midnight Wednesday, approximately 48 hours later.
People need incentives to change behavior until they see that what I claim can be done, can actually be done.
The outcomes and feedback, more than 5 full pages in Gmail, have exceeded all expectations. The next several posts will share a few of incredible 48-hour turnarounds and stories of metamorphosis. Here is just the first, edited for length and with a name change:
My name is John Gatern and I attended your panel at SXSW where you requested stories of people who’ve implemented your tactics for the 4-hour workweek and when I spoke to you after the “Made to Stick” panel, you were excited I’d given up a Treo for a “normal” cell phone. What’s happened since then you ask? So, where do I begin?
Well, I guess I should give you some quick background points. I turn 32 a week from today. I weigh exactly 57 pounds more than I did when I took my first job seven years ago. I’ve gone from corporate suit to serial entrepreneur in that time period and I now own four companies and am launching a new one this spring. I’ve also been dating the same girl for the past seven years (yes, she’s patient). I carry two cell phones (and pay for a 3rd as a backup) and average over 5,000 minutes per month. I have over 14 email accounts I check every ten minutes with my Treo and wireless air card, oh… I also have five computers I use daily (three desktops and two laptops) in three office spaces. To say I work and I’m accessible is causing me to laugh as I type this email.
So, what did I get from your panel? Well, I made the following changes immediately.
– Consolidated cell phones into one normal voice phone (no Treo)
– Asked my right hand man to give up Treo with me
– Set reminders to ask myself at 9:00, 1:00, 5:00 (Am I being productive, busy or doing a crutch activity?)
– Located a negotiation expert/author in my own city who I’m soliciting for instruction (Lacey Smith of www.quickthinkseminars.com)
– Sat down today with two business partners to have “the talk” about our goals truly not aligning (I think one will be rectified and one will go separate ways)
– Turned down business from the client I’ve known I don’t need or want (he was bewildered, but I think deep-down he agrees)
– Cleaned out my inboxes and started from scratch (man that felt good).
– Got rid of a warehouse lease I know I don’t need for a business I don’t even enjoy
– Signed a three-month contract with Chris Tedesco, a personal trainer (www.bodyquest.biz) for a 1:30 workout appointment four days per week (yes.. in the middle of my work day!)
– Called a contractor to finally come re-do my bathroom (it’s needed it for years, but I’ve put it off)
– Created a food intake log in the past 48 hours and it scared me! (this may be my MOST valuable input)
Finally, I’ve adapted your talk into three baseline tenants for my new outlook (yes, I like lists).
1. Clients pay for and desire my talents over my accessibility
2. While my overall success has been acceptable, my connected lifestyle is hindering its growth
3. More focus on self and less outside influences equal a better quality of life
Tim…. maybe this sounds too unbelievable. I’ve included a few links to people if you so choose to contact them to check up on me. I recognize not all of these steps are taken verbatim from your talk, but sometimes a message gets through the clutter and for me, it was yours. I almost didn’t attend your panel. One of my business partners was at SXSW and said you’d be just another time management pep talk, but I recognized time is my endangered and most valuable resource. I am sad to say… I thought being and even looking busy was what successful people “just did.” I’ve been so focused on working I’ve left out my health and have hindered the growth of my ventures. My greatest asset is my brain and I’ve been so busy acting busy, I haven’t spent enough time using my brain to plan and execute. I’m glad your panel reinforced what I knew somewhere deep down was true.
I may never have a consistent four-hour work week, but a bigger change will happen because of your speech. I’m grateful for your words and your efforts towards the book. You may be too busy to talk or even email back and I understand that fact. If you do want to contact me or are interested, I’d like to keep in touch with updates of my progress. Thanks again.
Your grateful friend,
Lifestyle design doesn’t take much time. It just takes a few uncommon decisions, and even more uncommon actions. More to come next, including sample autoresponders and other simple steps that yield huge results.
Posted on: March 16, 2007.
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Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.