Escaping the Entrepreneurial Seizure: Interview with Michael Gerber (Plus: Tim Speaking)

Michael Gerber, the E-Myth evangelist.

Michael Gerber’s name should sound familiar.

I recommend his bestseller, The E-Myth Revisited, as the must-read classic on automation. It brief, it discusses how to create scalable businesses that are based on rules and not outstanding employees; and how to become an owner instead of constant micromanager.

Michael also had a enormous influence on me as a first-time writer. His words to me were simple during our first lunch:

“If you’re going to write a book, write a f*ing book.”

Don’t hedge and don’t think small. I didn’t hold back material for a sequel, I aimed for the top of the top, and I credit Michael’s advice as, in part, responsible for the subsequent success of the 4HWW. It was that recalibration of ambition that made it all possible.

His latest book, Awakening the Entrepreneur Within, examines how to recalibrate the scale of objectives and other facets of the core entrepreneurial experience, which we recently sat down to discuss…

1. Michael, having counseled more than 50,000 post-corporate entrepreneurs caught in what you call the “entrepreneurial seizure,” can you explain this phenomenon and how to avoid it?

The “entrepreneurial seizure” lies at the heart of most failures in judgment when someone decides to leave his or her job to go out on their own.

The excitement of independence associated with getting rid of the boss is almost always fueled by a flawed understanding of what being on your own means. Most small businesses are started by technicians rather than by true entrepreneurs.

The technician believes in the fatal assumption that because he or she knows how to do the work — whether graphic design, engineering, cooking a great dinner, repairing an automobile, snow boarding, or otherwise — they can turn that capability into a business that frees them from the boss. The graphic designer creates a graphic design business. The technologist creates a technology-based business. The cook creates a restaurant. The mechanic creates an auto repair business. The snow boarder creates a snow boarding business.

But instead of freeing themselves from the boss, they have become their own boss, and they’re now — with absolutely no understanding about how it happened — working for a lunatic and doing what they know how to do but in greater volume than before.

True entrepreneurs make the transition from working for someone else to working on their own much differently. Entrepreneurs invent businesses that work without them. Technicians create businesses that work because of them. The entrepreneur is liberated from what I call the “tyranny of routine,” and the technician becomes a slave to it. In the entrepreneur’s case, the business works. In the technician’s case, the technician works. And that’s why most of the 500,000 new businesses that are started every month in the U.S.A. will fail. According to a recent study done by the Kauffman Foundation, 81% of all businesses in the US employ no people besides the owner. They’re sole proprietorships. True entrepreneurs are never sole proprietors.

2. Much of the model you laid out in The E-Myth Revisited has to do with the importance of systems in building a scalable business. What is the shape of the process and the practical steps for business development in your model?

As I’ve said before, and as AT&T has been quoted: the system is the solution.

The system I’m talking about is the core operating system of your business. It comprises three essential functions that must work in a completely integrated way. These are lead generation, lead conversion and client fulfillment. Whether the business is McDonalds or Starbucks, FedEx or Dell Computer, these three systems are critical to the success of that company. Building these systems then is the process we teach at E-Myth. They are really arranged in a very simple three-step approach. Step one: intentional dreaming (the dream, the vision, the purpose and the mission). Step two: intentional organization (conceiving, building and perfecting the automated client fulfillment systems that comprise the operating reality of the company). Step three: intentional growth (conceiving, building and perfecting the lead generation and lead conversion operating systems of the company). Every business under the sun is conceived, built and perfected in identically the same way, using identically the same processes.

3. Has the Internet really fundamentally changed the game for small business?

The internet era has, of course, changed the game for small business, but not as dramatically as most would profess.

After all is said and done, the internet is simply a medium through which the business of business is transacted, a conduit through which one can communicate and deliver the results one has set out to deliver. As many or more companies fail on the internet as anywhere else, and many more businesses (especially sole proprietors) stumble along without every making an impact on anyone, and most without selling anything to anyone.

In short, if an internet business fails to follow the three-step development process I just outlined, it will fail just like any other business will. So, I must say frankly that I am not a great believer in the internet as the be all and end all of business opportunity that others see it to be. Maybe I’m simply too old, but I think not. In short, I think that, given my experience of internet entrepreneurs as being very much the same as any other types of entrepreneurs, if they are absent the entrepreneurial fundamentals that are absolutely essential for any new company to grow, the result will be the same: lack of direction, lack of intention, lack of execution, diminished results.

4. In your new book you write–very counter-intuitively to most–that the reason most small businesses fail is not that they dream too big, but that they dream too small to create a truly thriving enterprise. Can you elaborate?

By “dreaming big” I mean conceptualizing a result greater than anything you have ever experienced. When I started my first company, now E-Myth Worldwide, I had absolutely no business experience. All I had was an idea bigger than life itself. My idea, my dream, was to transform small business worldwide.

That dream was the energizer for everything that was to follow. That dream for me was the realization of a picture I had formed in my mind of the typical small business I walked into every day, where the owner lived for sweat equity, worked 18-hour days, and had no idea that his or her life could be any different than the overwhelming life he experienced, and that all of his or her peers experienced in the day-to-day hell of doing it, doing it, and doing it some more. I just knew, don’t ask me how, it didn’t have to be that way.

Then I saw McDonalds and the impression I walked away with was huge. I suddenly realized exactly how the tragic condition of small business could be turned on its ear. All I had to do was to McDonald-ize every small business by teaching the owner how to think like Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds, did. That led to the invention of E-Myth worldwide.

That’s what I mean when I say dream big. Dream about great results. Dream about a world that works, rather than one that doesn’t. Think of one thing you wish to transform and than go to work ON it, rather than IN it, which quickly became my E-Myth mantra. The result of that will be something bigger than you ever imagined. Dreaming small is not dreaming at all. Dreaming small, which is what most small business owners do, is really the act of shrinking yourself to live a life that you can imagine because it fits your perception of what you know and are able to do. There is no imagination in that. And a life without imagination is already dead. In my new book, I am focused on awakening the soul of my reader to enable him or her to discover the entrepreneur within. And, once discovered, to put his or her imagination to work to invent a new life beyond anything he or she has ever done before. Just like I have done. Just like you have done, Tim. Just like every entrepreneur does.

5. It’s interesting to me that in your view of a truly awakened entrepreneur, they would not ever buy in to a franchise. I think people often confuse designing a scalable business that could be franchised with become a franchisee. Two fundamentally different objectives, right?

Right. The truly awakening entrepreneur wouldn’t buy a franchise. Why would they? The franchise is someone else’s dream. Not the entrepreneur’s. The entrepreneur is the one who invents a franchise company, not the one who buys a franchise. If the entrepreneur were to buy the franchise, he would immediately set about the task of taking it apart and turning it into something else. And, in the process, he would destroy the franchise.

No, the one who buys a franchise is either the technician – he buys a system that works and then he works it – or a manager – he buys a system that works and than manages it. And that’s the way it ought to be.

6. My readers are interested in the intersection of business and lifestyle design. Does an “awakened entrepreneur” seek some form of balance, or is it something else? I’m a big proponent of work-life “separation” vs. balance, as you know.

An awakened entrepreneur isn’t interested in balance of the typical sense. An awakening entrepreneur is passionate about creating. Creating is, by its very nature, unbalanced. But, to the creator, it doesn’t at all feel that way. It feels like the optimal flow of life. Creating is a power all its own. It takes you where it wants to take you, and the creator simply follows where it takes him.

Just like joy. Joy is not balanced either. Joy is explosive, it is the intense experience of life’s purpose all happening at once. So, if you want balance, don’t become Walt Disney. Don’t become Michael Dell. Don’t become anyone who seeks the unknown. Balance is a figment of our known reality. Balance has never been something that people who are disinterested in control ever pursue. The only people who crave balance are people who are desperately out of balance. When you’re living the creative life, you achieve a natural balance all its own.

7. After 30 years of working with entrepreneurs, do you see a fundamental change in entrepreneurship today? If so, what is different now and why?

Actually, no. I don’t see a fundamental difference between the entrepreneurs of 30 years ago and the entrepreneurs I meet today. Other than this: today’s entrepreneur is more likely to be interested in meaning rather than money. Not that he’s not interested in money; he obviously is. But money that comes with the absence of meaning is too big a price to pay for the new entrepreneur I’m engaging today.

Understand, I’m not saying that everyone I meet today has the question of meaning in mind. But, when I begin the conversation about meaning, more people I meet today are interested in having the conversation than ever before. So, there’s something going on today in the world of the entrepreneur. And that’s why I call it “the age of the new entrepreneur.” Something interesting is beginning to wake up, not only in the people I’m talking to, but in me as well.


Odds and Ends: Tim Upcoming Speaking and Two Favors

I don’t do much speaking, just as I’ve never done any formal book tours or signings, but there are two coming up soon:

E-Tech in San Diego, CA – I’ve giving the closing keynote on March 6th

SXSW in Austin, TX – I’m speaking at the following from March 7-11:

-Fri. 3:30pm “How to Rawk SXSW: The Basics”

-Sat. 3:30pm “The Art of Speed: Conversations with Monster Makers”

-Sat. 5pm Book Signing (Day Stage Cafe, Level 4)


1. I’m putting together a group of Lifestyle Design 101 posts. Which 3-5 posts on this blog would you recommend for first-time visitors who want to learn some basics?

2. What questions would you ask the panelists on the “Art of Speed” panel? Please put in your top 2 or 3 in the comments and I’ll try and make them happen. Please keep them relevant! (i.e. no “how does a sonic boom happen?”)

Speaking to Google management at an offsite in Marina del Rey

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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66 Replies to “Escaping the Entrepreneurial Seizure: Interview with Michael Gerber (Plus: Tim Speaking)”

  1. Informative article, reminds me of why I liked the E-myth so much. I’ll have to check out his newest book. Great picture as well, the weight of Google on your shoulders.


  2. Tim,

    Your book, your blog, your philosophy — all of it has had a tremendous impact on my life. I am constantly telling people that they just need to stop worrying, go with the flow, and live in the moment… and then I try and point them to ‘The 4-Hour Workweek.’ So first and foremost, thank you for such great content.

    Now, moving on to your question about a few posts that would really grab the attention of new readers… I believe that the popularity of “The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen” speaks for itself, but I also got a lot out of “The 10 Most Common Words You Should Stop Using Now,” and “The Top 5 Reasons to be a Jack of All Trades.” Beyond those? The post on gratitude training is just a great, up-beat piece that should appeal to anyone…

    Keep up the great work!

  3. Hey Tim,

    Wish I could catch your sessions at SXSW… I’ll be in Czech, looking for Weapons of Mass Distraction 🙂 Was your shootout anywhere near Teplice?

    Nice interview, Gerber’s work has always been interesting to me, and I will have to check out his new one. Well done again, sir!

  4. Sweet I get to christen this post.

    Like most people in North America (I say this because i’m from the the Canada aka the frozen north…i read what you wrote about us Canucks in you book Tim…just joking), I am stuck in a job that I really don’t like and am starting to abhor. Since reading your book, and select others, I have begun searching for a way out of the rat maze that I am in. I am obvious referring to setting up a business (owning it and not running it, eventually) and living my life the way I want. Basically, I look at the world now in a very Ferrissian way (if no one has come up with this terminology before, I would like to get the credit for it if it ever takes off). The same can be said about my aspirations in becoming an entrepreneur.

    As for the interview with Micheal Gerber, the two biggest things that I am taking away from it are that true entrepreneurs invent businesses which work without them, and concurs with your statements in your book about liberating your time and increasing mobility. The second is that in this day and age money is meaningless without meaning to the entrepreneur of today. To me this is a powerful idea since an average person can get caught up on the floating dollar signs when a business takes off and they don’t want to liberate themselves from the work since the business is “doing so well”. In essence what they end up doing is chaining themselves to the table with cash and invoices.

    Now a couple of questions…a couple personal and some for the Art of Speed thing.


    1. As a person who is looking to start their own business, do you have any advice on what profitable or successful businesses to go into? (or point me in the general direction of one).

    2. What are the major hurdles in starting a business (much like Body/Brain Quicken) and how did you overcome them (i.e. how did you not become part of the 500,000 new business that fail within a year)?

    For “Art of Speed”

    1. What is the quickest way (faster than the speed of light, quick) to reach the greatest number of people with the greatest degree of effect?

    2. What is the biggest problem when it comes to mass advertising?

    Three excellent introductory posts to you blog:

    1. How to lose 20lbs of fat in 30 days…without any exercise.

    2. The Choice-Minimal Lifestyle: 6 Formulas for More Output and Less Overwhelm

    3. How to Do The Impossible: Create a Paperless Life, Never Check Voicemail Again, Never Return Another Phone Call…

    The reason I chose these three is because all three touch base with what you have written in much of your posts and more importantly, in your book. Furthermore, there is something there for everyone; the person concerned with health and something they can do without putting forth too much physical effort, the person who is trying to reshape their definition their lifestyle and the person who has chosen not to fly away from the confines of the office/home office, but does not want any unwanted cranial explosions due too much stress and distractions.



  5. Hi Tim, enjoy the blog, this is my first time commenting.

    Questions for The Art of Speed panel:

    1. On the topic of Speed Learning, sometimes people think to learn something quickly you need to find someone who is an expert at something and learn from them, but I’ve found that sometimes the best experts aren’t always great teachers so its more effective to look for good teachers.

    So what are ways they use to find good teachers to learn quickly?

    2. What do they think is the most effective way to market a niche book from an unknown self-published author?

    3. What are good ways to speed learn?

    Recomended Lifestyle Design Blog Posts:

    The art of letting bad things happen

    Robert Scoble Interviews Tim Ferriss: Productivity, E-mail Fasts, GTD, and More…

    What’s Your Lifestyle Quotient (LQ)?

  6. Hey Erik,

    Attila posted this under Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    Attila Says:

    October 28th, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    What a party here in the comments, I’m glad this one got so many responses! Thanks for the shotout, Tim, it was a lot of fun indeed – always welcome.

    The name of the shooting range is Strelnica Casta (Shooting Range in Casta). The list of weapons is on their site as well, not in English but you can probably figure it out. If not, ask!

    There’s much to do here in Bratislava, including sports/exploration/underground clubbing (to list some of my favorites), so anyone who wants to shoot big toys or hang out is welcome! Just drop me a line at and I’ll try get back to you in a couple days.

    To try to inspire some of you, I’ve recently kicked in a completely 4hww advocated lifestyle. It allows me to focus on crafting heavy beats full time, be able to travel, have fun like this and do all my work online forever. I’ve realised that with more than 9 years of experience in quality journalism, knowledge of four languages and a natural talent for writing (wrote a 100 page fantasy book when I was 6) it would be stupid not to use this to my advantage and help others in the process as well. A few days later I’ve quit working in the office for an internet marketing company and started my own ghostwriting and website promotion service for smaller businesses who want to gain more leads online. [URL deleted — please follow the “comment zen” rules above the comment field.]

    [From Tim: sales pitch deleted. Thank you for the contribution, but please put your URL in the URL field and no pitching. Thx.]

  7. For your 101 list.. Just start by stating up front to succeed you must prove your mental strength. IE: The ice bath, or even the “slow carb” diet. The skill to write a detailed task (not lose 10 lbs. but run 5 miles a week.) then follow through on it. Just one mental test. With success of this simple task, the newbie reader will be in the right mindset to followthrough on parts of the 4HWW.

    For the “Speed” panel.

    “A lot successful entrepreneurs had that one meeting, or one cab ride which keyed future success. What top networking techniques can replace these chance meetings?”

  8. Hmm, I agree that work life balance is largely delusional, and that work life separation is freeing, but my sense is that once work-life separation has been achieved, the goal is actually work-life fusion— but on a new level, with passion, meaning, etc… Tim, I have a hunch that you spent more than four hours a week “working” on this book (and hopefully loved doing it), no?


    Hi Allison,

    Indeed. It comes down to a definition of “work”. When I say work-life separation, I’m referring separating purely financially-driven activity from pleasure-driven activity. If you engage in pleasure- or excitement-driven activity and it happens to make you money, fantastic, but google my article on the “myth of the dream job.”

    Thanks for contributing!


  9. TIm,

    I cannot keep up with all your new discoveries. I have a library of unread business books…lol Thanks to you. Looking forward to South by Southwest Conference. You have had some great posts, I will dig through them and pick my top ones.


    Jose Castro-Frenzel

  10. Tim, your interview with Gerber rocked. One of the best I’ve read in a while.

    For the panel you’re moderating at SXSW on The Art of Speed:

    I’d like to hear from Ev how he and his team at Twitter have managed speed/rapid growth; if they could do their first year again, what would they do different in terms of speed and managing rapid growth?

    Business coach Keith Cunningham says this about speed:

    >> The faster you go, the greater the impact if things go wrong. If you’re going fast on a bicycle and you fall, you might skin your knee. If you’re going fast in an F16 fighter jet and you crash, people die! Taking the analogy further: two things are needed if you want to go fast, and people don’t often think of these: 1) experience; and 2) a lot of dials and instrumentation (like in the cockpit of an F16).

    For all panelists: What kind of “dials and instrumentation” do you use in managing their business as they move with speed?


    Relevant to the topics in your interview with Gerber, I wrote up more from Keith’s presentation I attended, on my blog:

    “6 Big Mistakes People Make In Business”

  11. Automation, Low information diet, and outsourcing life are a few of my votes for Lifestyle design 101.

    Very interesting post about the point of view necessary for life style design.

    I would say that for anyone with a lack of imagination, first go out and rent 10 animated movies. 5 anime and 5 disney/warner brothers animated movies.

    Watch all of them… and try to remember what it was like to be a kid, when your dreams consisted of being an astronaut or a fireman not a paper pusher or business statistics analyst. One tip, tell an idea to a friend if they think its crazy then you are on the right track… loosely quoted from the lifestyle designer himself.

    Art of speed:

    Where do you see web widgets fitting into runaway viral campaigns, working in the widget world I myself find them extremely powerful. Are they an internet fad or here to stay as viral tools for the web?

    Why can big business work at such a slow pace while small business have to do things yesterday just to survive.

    Thats all I could come up with for a 1:30am post.

    As always, great post!


    Thanks, John! Any particular posts you’d recommend for 101?


  12. If a true entrepreneur creates a business that requires more than just himself, it would seem that creating a physical product is much easier to turn into a big business than creating a service. Someone who performs a service, for example my friend who does in-home IT and networking visits, is much less likely to expand into a bigger business than someone who invents some new gadget. Hmmm…

  13. Wonderful interview. I get pumped by what Michael Gerber says EXCEPT I think the statement in (1) “true entrepreneurs are never sole proprietors” is incorrect or, in the least, is confusing/misleading.

    Frankly, I think anyone who works on their own business and is not a paid employee could be considered an entrepreneur …whether it is bookkeeping, building houses or having a hotdog stand (or two..or three), selling brain pills via the internet or, gasp, even writing books. One can be a sole proprietor and, perhaps by following Michael’s suggestions in pts 2-7, one can get fabulously wealthy (by eventually becoming the next Krispy Creme, Arthur Anderson etc.) IF this is their dream and they find meaning in doing so.

    Tim, I imagine you are either a sole proprietor, a single member LLC or perhaps the sole shareholder of an incorporated company. For all intensive purposes, and however you file your taxes, you are the sole owner. And I would think most everyone would consider you a very successful entrepreneur.




    Hi Ernst,

    Good point. I think that Michael means to say that his definition of true entrepreneur isn’t a one-person “operational” shop. That is, that they have others do work for them instead of shoveling all the coal into the fires themselves. I have a single-member LLC and a C-corp, and I’m the only full-time employee in each, but I have had up to several hundred people working for me in contracted positions.

    For me, of course, head count was never the goal, just a means, and I believe Michael would agree with this.



  14. Very informative. Being a freelancer I can understand how helpful it is to read and learn from an expert. Thats is why I always look for your post.

    Thanks Tim

  15. Now that I’m done with my rant, I’ve enjoyed many of the posts. Two that jump out at me are;

    1.) “The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen” as it has forced me to re-consider what “bad” is. Since reading the 4HWW and followed your blog, I have juggled my priorities so that I focus on the important and I limit the smaller tasks (ie. I check email only once a day) or let others handle them. To my surprise, no really bad things happen but many more GOOD things happen! I now have more time to think, to imagine…and thing BIG.

    2.) The other post would be “The Top 5 Reasons to be a Jack of All Trades” because I don’t completely agree with it! I really enjoyed the numerous posts arguing different points of view (everyone agreeing on something is usually a tad boring). My personal view on this would be “Jack of all trades, Master of (at least) one.” I believe one needs to separate themselves (and/or their business) from the pack to be successful. And to do this they need to offer something different that they really excel in.

    Tim, I have one question I’ve been meaning to ask for sometime. Your book is full of advise about how to do more in less time. But I am curious how you stay on top of all the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of individual steps that it takes to take one of your ambitious dreams to fruition. Do you use creative mind-mapping and/or traditional linear outlines? And do you do this by hand in journals or by using project management software. Would this be of interest to others for a post?



  16. Tim, this was awesome brother, GREAT, GREAT interview, thank you! This “systemization” has stuck in my mind from a post you made in reply to me a while back, to allow me to run my gym in MBA style (management by absence)

    I am very much getting there, so thank YOU!

    As long as the mob doesn’t shut me down, I should continue with my success, ha ha

    U da man, talk soon!


    PS – Any up and coming talks at Princeton U? I’m there when you are!!

  17. for the speed forum:

    same point asked 3 different ways; take your choice.

    to paraphrase John Wooden, ‘move quickly, but don’t hurry’. How do these experts discern between appropriate speed and useless hurry?

    paraphrase again; ‘not everything worth doing is worth doing with speed’. Discerning the appropriate uses of speed.

    few things get people/business in more trouble than lack of patience and going too fast. Help us understand the appropriate uses and venues.

  18. Dear Tim,

    My dad and I (Carl)(I’m 18 he is 45), have been listening to your book on tape to and from work, and everywhere in between. We are going to go to Burma for a month, then my dad is going to send me back to manage his cell phone store while he travels the world on the money that his store makes. Now here is my question:

    Can you show me how to run this store without knowing anything about the product? Or is knowledge about the product you are selling necessary?

    I’ll give you some more background. There is also another person who is currently being trained for the manager position and a clerk who will work for the store until I run it. Now my biggest problem with my situation is the fact that I do not know anything about my dads’ product (which are cell phones.) and all I know about business came from your book.

    Now if you don’t feel like talking about this kind of stuff, just tell why there would be a quarter full bottle of bourbon (your choice), on your desk at all times.

    P.S. I enjoyed your particular style of writing.


    Thanks for the comment, Carl. Selling is about asking good questions – get your Dad to give you this top 10 he asks customers. Role play conversations with your Dad to practice. Not sure what you mean with the bourbon?

    Have fun in Burma!


  19. Hi Tim,

    Excellent Interview with Gerber. He is my original inspiration, but you are now right there with him. I was recommended to read your book and cannot say enough great things about it. I buy it for friends all the time. I purchased the audio format too, so I can let those sweet nuggets, sink in. Thanks.

    For 101:

    Low Information Diet is a MUST

    The Choice-Minimal Lifestyle: 6 Formulas for More Output and Less Overwhelm

    The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen (and Weapons of Mass Distraction)

    I am a photographer, so I have to be involved a lot, but I have limited it to shooting and marketing. Life is good.


  20. I have a lot of resistance to some of what Gerber talks about. The idea of “McDonald-izing” a business is hardly appealing to my creative and humanistic side – and asking someone else to work in my dehumanized business isn’t any better.

    One aspect of 4HWW I appreciate is the emphasis on electronic systems to do a lot of the heavy lifting in income automation. For some reason, I have a huge problem asking people to do my grunt work for me, but I have no problem asking a few lines of code to do it!


    As to Lifestyle 101 – I’m a big fan of your “Living Like a Rockstar” series and would like to see at least 1 example included.

  21. Lifestyle Design 101

    Top 5

    1. From Freak to Geek

    2. Low Info Diet

    3. How to Negotiate Like an Indian

    4. Escaping the Entrepreneurial Seizure

    5. Litliberation…How to travel the….

    FYI, I bet if you did the LitLiberation again it would be at least double as successful. I have watched your blogs grow, and hear about you in various sources of data, like mags and TV. How do you feel about this journey you have traveled? Do you feel much happier than when you were stuck at that one job and just starting Brainquicken?

    One day I would love to hear the story how exactly you thought of the idea, I mean the details, were you working and did something strike your brain?

    Enjoy the Day

    Jose Castro-Frenzel, aka consistent blogger

  22. Oh BTW,

    Your book is number one on my top 5 Books to read. I am still getting used to wordpress, but its a great tool.

    Hasta Luego Amigo,

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

  23. Tim,

    It’s funny. I just had this conversation with my mother and brother a few days ago.

    You see, the store I worked for was closed because there were cuts from the large cellular phone company we worked for. I decided right away I wasn’t ready to go and negotiated the structure (a kiosk) itself into my severance package and set up a new lease with the mall. One thing that my co-worker (who is continuing on with me) and I noticed was that we had nothing to do with our downtime so we decided to bring other services into the kiosk to help us thrive in the beginning including jewelry repair which isn’t available at this mall… and we sit directly in the middle of 5 jewelry stores.

    Before I started in the cellular industry I was a jeweler so it was a good fit, but when the conversation came up about how busy I would more than likely be, while talking to my family, they were a bit offended when I told them I wasn’t doing this to be a jeweler, otherwise I would have just gone back to work for my old boss at the jewelry store. It wouldn’t be worth being strapped to a jewelry bench for the rest of my life.

    Now training someone to do it was always my plan along with expanding our business into a franchise eventually because we can see the larger picture, the possibilities and the good we can do. I just found it interesting that I had already agreed with Mr. Gerber without ever reading anything by him.

    I let one of my new employees read 4HWW a while ago and since we’re so new, he keeps wanting to know how we’re going to create a scalable business like you mentioned in the book. He’s in college. He’d love to spend the rest of his life working 4 hours a week. I hope we can help him get there.

    Lastly, I’d recommend:

    “How to lose 20lbs…”

    “How to get George Bush or the CEO of Google on the phone”

    “How to negotiate like an Indian”

    Wish us luck we open in 2 days. Take care.


  24. I really enjoyed the interview. I just finished the 4HWW, it was truly inspiring and liberating. It came at the perfect time in my life as well, I’m just starting my own business.

    I completely agree with not finding balance necessarily in creation. I mean, there is more balance in your life when you’re creating, then simply being a passive witness. But creation itself is chaotic, it’s unrefined, it’s daring. When you create you’re on the brink of failure, the unknown, you’re existing in the present. This ultimately to me, the only way worth living. Once you create, you can always refine, but so many people are afraid of failure.

  25. for The Art of Speed:

    There’s tons of advice on the technical aspects of “speed”–how to be more productive, how to produce, how to market. The hard part is the personal crap–fear of failure, fear of success, ego-based decision-making, your changes not being accepted by the people you love, etc. How do you move quickly through/around/over whatever your personal issues are to get to accomplishing the huge things you have planned?

  26. Hi Tim,

    I’ve always believed things happen for a reason and are meant to be. Last Monday when I was leaving my house I saw your book at a table. Just the title made me not able to put it down. It turns out my brother bought it, glanced at it and left it there.

    After working in the most boring job in the world for 3 years but not really wanting to quit because of a good and comfortable salary, I decided this could not be my life for the next 40 years. I started looking into options to start my own thing and a great one appeared, so I am off today to meet up with some people and hopefully change my life. And at this point I just happen to bump into your book! And now, this post on the mistakes made by entrepreneurs, again, just in time! I’ll go buy that book for sure!

    Anyways, have you been to Costa Rica in any of your trips and adventures? I don’t think you have mentioned it, but you use the “Pura Vida”.




    Hi CJ,

    Thanks for the comment! Oh, yes, I’ve been to Costa Rica. Just search “costa rica” and you should find some video of me swimming in waterfalls 🙂

    Pura vida,


  27. Michael Gerber’s E-Myth has long been an inspiration for me (and clearly for you Tim). I love the comment about “Think of one thing you wish to transform and than go to work ON it, rather than IN it”. That has been my whole approach to running my business. My staff work in the business and look after the day to day. I spend a lot of time away form the business so that i can think clearly and work on it. I see my role as thinking about how to improve the business, its systems, the conditions for my staff, the service we are providing and so on.

    I believe that a business full of employee can still be fairly automated (from the owners perspective) and that total internet automation is not necessary in all cases.

    Operating this way has allowed me to travel the world, attend stunning events and pursue my personal interests while growing my company.

  28. I think the piece about entreprenuers being “creators” is the key point. You can be a creator without being a doer. I also like the comments about balance – when you are only creating, balance is moot.

    I’ll have to check out the books. Thanks for the reference.

  29. This was a great interview, and I look forward to reading the new book. I too believe in having systems in place so that you can work ON your business and not IN your business, it keeps me sane!

    Tim – I wish corporate America would understand the work vs. life separation, they keep trying to integrate the two, and when you don’t follow suit, you’re viewed as anti-social, snobbish, and not pro-active. I can’t stand it!

  30. I have stumbled upon this site and I must say, it could not have come at a better time.

    Do you all know of some great events or conferences related to above subject? Would love to find a mentor in San Diego area who specializes in small businesses and helping entrepreneurs see the light :), get out of the small thinking and enjoy life as well as help build a sustainable business that doesn’t need me on daily bases. I own an Interactive Web Design business so I can relate to the reference for the graphic designer from Michael, guilty as charge.

    Contact me at if you think you have something to share that can help me with this goal.

    Thank you

  31. My questions for the art of speed panel:

    If we focus on making things go faster in life, how can we simultaneously slow down for the parts that are really rich and wonderful? (Are these categories (semi-)contradictory or are they compatible?)

    One can see the logic in the notion that instead of do the things we dislike faster, we ought not do them at all. How? (This question might be too contextual/situational to answer generally).

    Tim. Love your stuff. Literally changed my world view and how to achieve what I want in my life. Helped me decide to get my PhD in philosophy when I’m raising my kids instead of in 2 years (currently 20).

    Do you have any suggestions on how to convince my Dad that he can outsource some of his work? I think his conflict is at an identity level emotional connection with his work where he sees freedom as a weekend and living as his 9-6. I wish I could inspire my reckless wonderment in him and encourage him to hire a golf tutor or something and realize that life is not income. I think these insights will lead to better families as well because it frees us from the value of money attached to time and replaces it with value attached to time.

    Awesomeness 200.

  32. >All I had to do was to McDonald-ize every small business by teaching the owner how to think like Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds, did

    I really don’t want my business to be anything like MacDonalds, thanks all the same.

  33. Dang it Tim! I wish I could catch your talks in Austin. Used to live there, but now I’m on the road full time (thanks in no small part to your book by the way!).

    While in Austin, you have to check out four places though…

    1) Katz’s Deli

    2) Shultz’ Beer Garden

    3) Huts Burgers

    4) Susi’s Chinese Restuarant


    My wife and I have given away no less than four dozen copies of your book! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK MAN!!!



  34. Tim – are there any books that you could recommend on import businesses or private labeling (other than how to make millions w/ your ideas)? I’ve realized that I really need to learn more about them for the goals I’ve developed.

    Thanks in advance,


  35. Hey Tim;

    Are you going to be at e-tech for most of the week?

    I’m going to be at a different O’Reilly conference in the same hotel, but it’s only on Monday/Tuesday. If you’re going to be around, I’d love to say hi (and maybe get a book signed 🙂

    I look like this 🙂

  36. Hey Tim,

    Does your site have the full recommended reading list from the book? I wanted to add as many as I could to my Audible list but I am in the middle of another book right now. (Sidney Poitier’s The Measure of a Man…great one!)

    Thanks in advance.


  37. This was really outstanding — you’ve always got good brainfood but this had so much content it felt like I got away with something just reading it.

    I was honestly startled by Gerber’s three-point summation — so simple, so clean and totally functional.

  38. Other must-see Austin haunts:

    Epoch Coffee

    Spiderhouse Cafe

    Clay Pit, amazing Indian food

    I’m applying the 4HWW approach to my game development business in Austin. I’m blogging about it, but the posts are restricted to friends-only for now. Just got back from an adventure in Europe and completing the “six month dreamline”. Now on to the twelve month plan!

  39. Fascinating that the main difference Michael Gerber sees over 30 year is that today’s entrepreneur is more likely to be interested in meaning rather than money.

    This seems to be a growing trend in the corporate world, where talent is less interested “sin” industries and more interested in companies that contribute.

    Favorite post recently:

    How to Stop Checking E-mail on the Evenings and Weekends


  40. In response to the question Malcolm posted ‘3. What are good ways to speed learn?’ I have found the following helpful in my consulting years:

    1) Ask the ‘experts’ or owners of the business in the industry selling to or in what you are interested in, what trade publications they read (they usually have a stack of magazines and newspapers in the corner they have not gotten to). Most of the time the magazines are free to those in the industry – those who might buy their advertisers products.

    2) Look at similar companies in other markets talk to them.

    3) Meet ‘experts’ at Chamber of Commerce, and other networking events, including industry events.

    4) Attend the industry tradeshows. I have been able to typically be more informed then over half the industry after a few days of intense trade show work. This includes:

    – Attending as many sessions as you can.

    – Listening in on conversations of others in show floor booths (and asking questions from their questions),

    – Reading as much of the trade show literature as possible,

    – Asking LOTS of questions to anyone,

    – Committing to have drinks with at least one person from the show (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 3 rounds of drinks),

    – Start conversation with those you take breaks with at the show floor break tables.

    – Research as much in and industry sites at night on the web.

    5) Spend a long night in Wikipedia – a lot of effort has been put into editing down to the shortest possible with the highest signal to noise ratio.

    6) Go to the regional business library (ask your local library who has the best research department) – they are particularly adept at finding that great 1st pass of information.

    I am sure there are better methods leveraging outsourcing and asking questions on the Internet, but I am still learning what resources actually work. More feedback please.

    For Carl asking how to get up to speed – I would suggest reading (or better yet listening to) “SPIN Selling” By Neil Rackham – it maps the process of asking questions into a system. Don’t get real hung up on the science and statistics up front except to get 2 points:

    1) The method is based on actual tested results rather then someones personal style.

    2) It is more applicable to relationship selling or longer term sales. But, the underlying concepts have great use in managing team, vendors, building referrals and friends in life. Then look over the Fieldbook.

    I forced all my sales team to read it. Micheal Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited (read don’t listen as a 1st pass) is the best ‘how to do business’ book I have found for the situation you describe (again I forced all new staff to read it before their 1st day when we discussed it, and their role in our business).

    In response to #26 Never the Same River Twice Says: February 28th, 2008 at 12:28 pm – Concerning desiring a creative business rather then a (boring, repetitive) machine, My initial response was the same -I wanted to do/create something that did not exist before. Until I read closer and saw how Micheal addresses that issue (he was a creative himself). The creative is in perfecting and evolving the SYSTEM that generates the tasks-not in perfecting the mundane task itself.

    I don’t want to make pens everyday only to have 2 minutes to write the poetry. I don’t want to spend all day making the kayak only to have 5 minutes to be on the river. I don’t want to spend all morning making the paint to miss the sunrise. I think that is the biggest overlap of Tim and Micheal – the freedom is in building the system for the repetitive, then get rid of inane and be creative in your focus on improving the system.

    Until you get bored – then sell it, hand it off, or kill it. And take on a new project that inspires you to create a new system and more joy.

  41. Hi Tim,

    my recommendations for Lifestyle 101:

    * The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen;

    * Extreme Personal Outsourcing;

    * Robert Scoles interviews Tim Ferris (video).

    One favour pulees…

    – do you outsource book-keeping, and do you have any recommendation on the subject?

    Many thanks !


  42. Tim,

    just got done reading the 4HWW (and parts of it several times.) I jumped out a couple years ago and bought my dream biz that until recently, ran ME. I’ve been working on creating systems w/in the biz and have always known if i were REALLY GOOD, it would run without me…but not yet… and then you come along, with great resources to set up the missing pieces to my puzzle. A MILLION THANKS !!!

    PS I’m glad there is someone else who knows “If everyone thinks you’re crazy, you’re on the right track.” Ever listen to Stuart Wilde?

  43. Tim,

    I’ve meant to write for a long time to thank you for your book and your web site.

    Thought-provoking article. I was wondering what you thought of sites like Shopster that allow people to start up small businesses with little investment while they provide the website design, taking care of customer service and orders, and dropshipping. Is this close enough to what you encourage in your book? Have any of your readers had luck with a Shopster kind of business?

    I’m looking for having more than 2 minutes to write the poetry. Currently, I tutor full time, teach a couple of classes, and do freelance editorial work sporadically (that’s feast or famine–impossible to schedule consistently). I’m toying with the idea of starting a mostly self-running business outside writing that would take little nurturing from me and provide the steady ‘muse’.

    Thanks for any suggestions and/or comments.

  44. Entrepreneur: one who moves economic assets out of areas of low yield to areas of higher yield.

    Adventurer: one who moves non-economic assets out of areas of low excitement to areas of higher excitement.

    Some times you just have to get your asset out of town.

    Key observation by Deming: .people behave according to how they’re measured.

    How you measure yourself is the most important. Time and money are two good measures, but there are more.

    As for Speed, it’s relative.

    The slowest time I’ve ever spent was waiting to get enough information to figure things out.

    The fastest time was landing in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, fresh from Los Angeles, sort of on a dare. I went for a walk up the hill and fell through the ground cover into a bomb crater from WWII, landing on top of some 40 year old unexploded munitions.

    Speed is relative.


  45. I have been studying these to books for about a year now. The compliment each other some much. I love it how Tim brings the technicial to Michaels business sytem approach. May be a joint book coming soon? Thanks

    Tanner D

  46. I read the E-Myth about 8 years ago. The book was recommended to me by 3 different people within the same month – so – I usually take that as a sign that it is a must read for me. I’m glad I did – it literally changed my life – and my business immediately. The biggest thing was realizing to work ON my business and not IN it…like everyone else was doing. once I SAW the difference – the growth and my lifestyle took on a whole new direction. My income back then went from 90,000 to 360,000 the first year. That’s a HUGE increase. and I was not working IN IT – just the captain of my ship. That proved to have it’s challenges too – but it was still better then the other way – and my SYSTEMS were just not SOLID.

    I recently fell back into the TRAP of Status Quo – and for 3 years was the most miserable Manager? on earth. I knew it was WRONG for me – then I found Tim’s book – and it reminded me and got me BACK ON TRACK!!

    I have restructured my complete business again – Tim’s book is all dogeared, underlined, highlighted, notes, – i took it on SERIOUS.

    I fired all staff – outsourced everything, got (Ring Central to sound like a big company and allow me to GO MOBILE), put my goods into a fulfillment Center, sublet my leased facility, and more. My RENT? now goes towards a purchase of a penthouse with 75 feet of balcony wrapping around Las Vegas for me to work on my laptop and on the phone finalizing my SYSTEMS for the 4 hour work week. I plan to start booking adventure holidays now – FREEDOM – yes – this is what I started my business for – I remember!! Thank you Mr Gerber and thank you Tim Ferriss

  47. This is my first post on this blog, I just want to let you know I grew up using the internet and ppc engine back in 1999 almost 10 years ago. I got automated to the point I made very good money working zero hours per week, so I respect your ideas and what you say, I need to take it to the next level and learn many of the other activies you have. I believe in your concept, and I am going to teach time leverage as opposed to time management. The idea is very similar to yours, and I like to keep learning from you as well and your book which I have listened to the full version, it was great, I see we think a lot of like, many of your thoughts I have had over the last few years.

  48. Tim,

    Thank you for this great interview with Michael Gerber. You and Michael are my heroes when it comes to the issue of working smarter and not harder. Since meeting you at Joe’s Master Mind meeting in Phoenix last year, I have enjoyed the progress you are making in helping people see that things can be done in smarter more life affirming ways.

    Currently, there is a large growth of Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs who have elected to start businesses so they can stay active and alert rather than turning to conventional retirement. Many of them need the information you are providing.

    Shallie Bey

    Smarter Small Business Blog

  49. Hi Tim and fellow blog posters,

    Does anyone have specific information on how to automate a service business? Specifically a real estate brokerage of residential real estate. I have 5 agents currently.

    I struggle since real estate is very hands on; phone calls, personal meetings, emails. It’s really a people business.

    I love 4HWW and have started using the email tips and voicemail tips and that has help considerably.

    I’m just wondering if there’s anyone out there who has actually automated a service vs. a product based business. Or if you could direct to a good resource for this.

    Thank you.

  50. What a great interview. Nice information, I found your post really helpful . It helped me all the way in completing my assignment. I am also giving a reference link of your blog in my case study. Thanks for posting such informative content. Keep posting. Many thanks to the author…