The 4-Hour Workweek Revisited

41 Comments

My first book, The 4-Hour Workweek, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Thousands of you have asked me how I would update it today — and many have asked why I haven’t updated it since 2009.

For this episode, I discuss common questions and misperceptions, and how I would adjust certain chapters and recommendations.

As always, thank you for listening!

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Want to hear a conversation with a guest that has influenced the way I live my lifeListen to this episode with Tim Urban, in which we discuss the future, how to deal with procrastination, AI, and much much more. Listen to it here (stream below or right-click to download):

Managing Procrastination, Predicting the Future, and Finding Happiness - Tim Urban
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This episode is brought to you by WeWork. I haven’t had an office in almost two decades, but working from home and coffee shops isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. When I moved to Austin, one of the first things I did was get a space at WeWork, and I could not be happier.

WeWork is a global network of workspaces where companies and people grow together — in fact, more than ten percent of Fortune 500 companies use WeWork. The idea is simple: you focus on your business, and WeWork takes care of the rest — front desk service, utilities, refreshments, and more. WeWork now has more than 200 locations all over the world, so chances are good there’s one near you. Check out we.co/tim to become a part of the global WeWork community!

This podcast is also brought to you by Peloton, which has become a staple of my daily routine. I picked up this bike after seeing the success of my friend Kevin Rose, and I’ve been enjoying it more than I ever imagined. Peloton is an indoor cycling bike that brings live studio classes right to your home. No worrying about fitting classes into your busy schedule or making it to a studio with a crazy commute.

New classes are added every day, and this includes options led by elite NYC instructors in your own living room. You can even live stream studio classes taught by the world’s best instructors, or find your favorite class on demand.

Peloton is offering listeners to this show a special offer. Visit onepeloton.com and enter the code TIM at checkout to receive $100 off accessories with your Peloton bike purchase. This is a great way to get in your workouts or an incredible gift. Again, that’s onepeloton.com and enter the code TIM.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • After 10 years, why has The 4-Hour Workweek enjoyed such longevity? [08:11]
  • Why have I avoided making updates to the book in recent years? [13:27]
  • That being said, what chapters would I be most inclined to refresh? [20:39]
  • How can someone avoid being caught off guard by their own success? [30:31]
  • What would 40-year-old me tell 29-year-old me to expect from publishing my first book? [39:58]
  • How beginning this podcast helped me recover from a difficult time. [44:22]
  • Resilience is important because failure can happen at any point. How does someone practice resilience? [47:01]
  • How would I recommend approaching The 4-Hour Workweek for maximum impact? [55:07]

People Mentioned

Posted on: February 2, 2018.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

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.

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41 comments on “The 4-Hour Workweek Revisited

  1. Tim.

    Great episode. I get so excited whenever you post anything remotely related to the 4HWW including your recent post on The One-Million, One Person Business – devoured the book in a few days.

    It’s really interesting to learn how your perspective has changed over the years. I expected you to reiterate the fact that the timeless principles remain and the tools will always change. You often say the same things over and over in your podcasts, and I actually think that is really important, since not everyone is a fan-boy like me and going to listen to everything. Plus, it helps ingrain the solid advice into my brain.

    Please keep up the great work. I’m sure you will.

    Being a full-time podcaster / blogger myself, I would love to read / listen to a Part 2 to your blog post on how to build a podcast. I love to learn more about the nuances of monetisation, marketing a podcast and so on. For instance, I’d love to hear you elaborate on 80/20 in relation to your podcast: which marketing tactics have yielded highest ROI.

    I have a post-production marketing checklist: buffer on social, post on Instagram, post in niche FB groups, reach out to everyone mentioned during the episode, etc. Sometimes I feel like some of this is somewhat redundant. I know you’ve covered 80/20 a ton, but practical examples from your own experience are invaluable to me and I’m sure, to your listeners.

    Best,
    Lawrence

    Like

    • Hi Lawrence,

      You might want to know that there’s actually one podcast episode where Tim is talking mainly about producing a podcast. You might have missed it because it’s not actually one of his own episodes since he was a guest. It’s a discussion he had with his long-time inspiration Rolf Potts, who has his own podcast as well, for just a few months. You can check it out if you haven’t heard it yet. Really technical.

      Also, great job on your work, it seems like you’ve had conversations with many interesting guests. I will be listening to some that already sparked some interest.

      //Felix

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you Felix!

        I would love to listen to that. I don’t think I’ve heard it. Do you have a link?

        Thanks for the compliment on the show 👊. You’ll notice I probably parrot Tim too much, especially in my solo casts ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Tim – Your work has been a key inspiration in my recent years of growing my business as outlined in Elaine Pofeldt’s New book that you wrote about in January…

    Here is a fun fact that was not yet written about: when deciding to quit my career in banking in exchange of the TimTim lifestyle, I committed to donate $1000 to the G W Bush library foundation (= anti-charity). I tasked my best friend to hold me accountable if I did not act within 7 days of my commitment. Having completed fear-setting by calculating the cost and risks, I realized that I could have announced my departure several months ago. (Then again, having 2 kids makes such decision worth the extra time to contemplate)

    To my surprise, the business grew +200% in the first 12 months from leaving my job (=Focus) while I spent a fraction of time growing it (= automation / Pareto-analysis / and delegation)

    I still invested a good 20-30 hours a week to grow my brand (“The 20-hour workweek”) yet I worked while traveling with my family to remote places like the Costa Rican jungle or the cliff-towns of Cinque Terre in Italy)

    Two podcast guests I would highly recommend:
    1. Greg McKeon – author of “Essentialism”
    2. Richard Koch – author of “The 80/20 Principle”

    Both authors achieved the impossible:
    – keeping my ever-bouncing mind engaged while reading
    – offering tangible wisdom that significantly helped boost quality of my life and my loved ones

    So Tim, thank you for your daily choice of sharing practical wisdom. I don’t know how many lives you have touched with your work, yet I can assure you that you have made a positive difference in my life…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The 4HWW has literally changed my life ever since I picked up a copy in 2015.. I can’t say how grateful I am to have discovered this new way of life, to challenge my beliefs about what’s socially accepted and “right”, and instead go out and follow my own path.

    Totally excited for this small update, and looking forward to implementing more and more of the exercises and advice from part 4 “Liberation”. Planning my first mini-retirement this summer. Haven’t decided between going to the US or Japan yet. Hope to cross paths with you someday in Austin, my all-time favorite in the States.

    Like

  4. Just wanted to share my appreciation for your work and commitment to doing your best for us all the time. I truly love your work and aspire to meet you one day.

    Like

  5. Not to troll or get trolled, but I’m curious why someone as articulate and thoughtful as you are has so many F-bombs in your speech. Is this one of the verbal ticks you referred to or is it just you being you? I will practice some Tao of Seneca and try to figure out how I can appreciate this as a gift. 🙂

    Like

  6. Reframing in your head about what to do when something goes wrong, like missing a flight or something else happens that you hadn’t planned on happening and getting pissed off is not going to help. So, get hold of yourself and reframe the rest of the day or week and turn delay (or whatever problem) into a productive mode and result.

    Thanks Tim. I’m a baby boomer, a retired public high school English teacher. I’ve been an artist since 9th grade when I realized that art was going to be a significant part of my life.
    I’m an acrylic expressionistic painter and am now represented by 2 galleries. Selling my work is a major challenge but I’m in it to win it.

    I love your zest for life and your ongoing
    exploring of what life and the universe have to offer. Thank you. Your parents are lucky to have a great guy like you for a son.

    F.R.

    Like

  7. Great episode Tim, thanks for taking the time to dig down into some of those questions.

    I think people should actually start with the “filling the void” chapter before reading the rest of the book. When I coach my clients, one of the first questions I ask them is; “if you had a year to live and money was no object, what would you do?”

    The purpose of that question isn’t to work out the logistics of implementing their answer, it’s to identify WHY they want those things. What emotional state (as Tony Robbins would say) are they trying to achieve?

    Going back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a great reference point. Most of us are lucky enough to have our basic physiological needs met, just by living in a first world country. The question is, how do we achieve self-actualisation? Which, in my experience, is based on our core values.

    Building a muse from your core values sets you up with a business that facilitates those emotional states, leaves a legacy and has a far higher chance of longevity as a result.

    In my experience, most people focus on the profit and financials first, but then give up on the tactics because it has failed to give them those emotional states they are craving.

    I hope this comment is valuable to anyone who is currently feeling a bit lost or struggling to find purpose and fulfilment. Put the attention outside of yourself and find a significant problem to solve in the world. If you can do this, the money will follow.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Tim,

    Great overall podcast since it ties to your breakthrough first piece of art, that has changed so many lives.

    Since this podcast really had a lot of golden nuggets I took some of my time to post on my website a short “podcast notes” blog post. Anyone interested can access it by clicking my name and take a look at it now or bookmark for a later time. These great pieces of advice really do compound and make the snowball roll even more.

    Looking forward to more podcasts like this one, since their value is higher than most.

    //Felix

    Like

  9. Long time listener – Just some feedback about ad/endorsement placement within the episodes.

    Recently, I have found myself blasting through the ads at the beginning via fast forward. Usually because its a hefty chunk of time, I feel like I’ve heard a good deal of the recent sponsors and I want to get to the content. It may be worth considering placing the ads further into the episode – I know that Invisibilia does this sort of at the mid mark, and at that point I’m a more captive audience. Granted, your episodes are much more longer format so midway may lose a lot of ears. Perhaps 15 minutes in? I know that it can be disruptive to the flow of the interview or story.

    That being said, your endorsement is an effective voice in my purchasing decisions, as I’ve tried several things from your show (GST, Ascent Protein, Mushroom coffee, and have ended up with all your books on my shelf save Tribe of Mentors). I’m also a listener who has listened to over 7 days worth of your show, and I do sometimes listen in for new products/services.

    Like

  10. ‘Filling the void is the most under appreciated chapter’ has got me thinking and reflecting.

    Enjoyed that podcast a lot, “It’s a success because it’s personal for my friends”. Going to reread 4HWW I think. Give it that spin.

    High achievers who give back- love be it. The next chapter…….looking forward to more on this?

    Been here since the start of the podcasts, really liked this one.

    Thanks. Improves my life, feeds my brain.

    Andrew

    Like

    • Hi Andrew, and others who asked about he Filling The Void section,mans what to do after creating a muse and freeing up time.

      I believe that I have some of the answers to this. I’m a relatively late adopter of the 4HWW and I’m still in the process of creating my muse product, but essentially I have been filling the void of traditional work and study for many years.

      I’ve never lived in my home country in my adult life, except for one period of about 11 months a couple of years ago, and have mostly been in Southeast Asia and China. I’ve worked as a journalist, an English as a Second Language teacher, a writer for conservation organizations, and several other things. I speak one language to very much above native level (Bahasa Indonesia – one of the largest languages in the world) and was on the way to having another one above native speaker level, Japanese. (My Japanese is largely dormant now as I have not used it since university, where I majored in both of these languages – but it could be easily reactivated, and more importantly, I memorized the process that I used to learn it to a level competitive with native speakers in many areas, and vastly above all but the smallest percentage of second-language learners.)

      I believe that there are two main aspects that will help to fill the void in a very meaningful way and enrich almost any activity, goal and achievement that can be achieved in a productive lifestyle after freeing oneself from work constraints. Essentially, I think that these answers can help people achieve the 4HWW more fully. (Personally, I cannot praise the book and Tim enough for what he has achieved with this – freedom of mind for so many people.)

      The first answer I would give is that you can, and should, learn languages to a level that is above most native speakers. What I mean by this is that using certain techniques, primarily focusing on high-importance words and phrases and avoiding attempts to become idiomatic in a second language, you can learn to express your own ideas in a way that is simple and yet sophisticated. Being from another culture, many of your ideas will be new and surprisingly valuable to people who may not have heard them before – and certainly haven’t heard them from you. A good language learning process will also make you assess those ideas as you learn how to speak in your own words and to express your own thoughts, which will help you reflect on how they sound to other people, and improve and strengthen them, adding further value to your thoughts. This could be about anything: my work looks at how to break language down into your major objectives for learning it, which could be business-related, social, or other types related to personal interests, hobbies, skills or dreams and desires. Focusing on what you want out of it, and becoming very strong in your own niche, will also help you to add value to your interactions with others in a new language. The language learning process is very simple when you throw away the assumptions that are made about it, and I show people how to do this extremely effectively.

      The second point that I would like to make is that learning anything as if you planned to teach it will make it feel more worthwhile – and enrich the value that you get out of anything that you do, making it more effective at helping to fill the void. I look at how you should aim to teach for free, to people who are as different from you as possible, and how much of teaching is actually listening.

      Between these two answers there is a third: Tim mentions in the 4HWW that you should do what excites you. I believe that this is true. During the times that you aren’t doing this, I believe that there is another way of remaining excited: learning a skill with the aim of teaching it to people of other cultures, age groups, or anybody else who is different to you will keep your mind motivated to deconstruct, process and rebuild skills that you have acquired. It works in both directions. Teaching to – and learning from – people of other cultures and with other differences to yourself will also allow you to gain truly valuable insights that can be passed on to people who are likely to be more similar to you: family, friends, colleagues, and others.

      This is not to say that people should become linguists or teachers – except in an amateur sense. Tim recommends in the Learning Unlimited section that he focuses on a language and a kinesthetic skill. Learning to pass your own ideas on in a new language – bringing your thoughts to a culture where it’s almost certain that nothing like them exists yet – gives others huge insights into yourself and helps you realize how valuable you really are. Keeping in mind that you should take any opportunity you have to teach new skills that you learn (including muse creation) to others, and that you will gain more valuable insights by this to share with the people closest to you, is another powerful way to enrich any skill or new thing you may learn. Both of these approaches also make acquisition of languages and skills easier. These aren’t ‘things to do’ to fill the void, as those are your own choices: but they are principles that apply to how you do those new (or old) things that I think have value. I hope this helps – and please let me know if any of it is unclear, and I will explain it in more detail. Thank you for your time 🙂

      Like

  11. I appreciate the comment on being very selective on what you must focus on. “Imagine you have only six bullets to use.” I am extremely prone to move on to the next thing before finishing the last thing. I think a lot of people struggle with this. The Internet makes this so much worse and is a mass tool of distraction. What I do now to help mitigate is keep a note in Evernote or Laverna (whichever suits you) labeled ‘Projects’. That way I won’t forget about it and can come back to it after I finish what I am working on now.

    Like

  12. I really valued the reference to default questions (20 minutes or so from the end), and the re-framing question you shared is profound. An anchor question to pull into the journal regularly…

    Like

  13. Hi Tim,

    Another great podcast, thank you.

    I have been here since the beginning of the TF podcast journey and I really enjoyed this one. Good hearing you speak about something personal for you, at length.

    I am not sure how to answer the question about the best quote but the section that really really resonated with me was “filling the void” the most missed chapter…..perhaps the next chapter?

    Some of the previous podcasts guests have talked about mindfulness, giving to others, asking for help or coping with shame but not so much on building the non work persona.

    Practical examples and stories about filling the void would be great.

    Andrew

    Like

  14. Hi Tim – I don’t know if you’ll get this message or not but I feel compelled to share it. Last week I listed to episode 219 with Adam Robinson, and then listened to the Tribe of Mentors episode with Adam. On Thursday, 1/31, I won Super Bowl tickets. I ended up donating those tickets to two under privileged kids in my community through the Alan Page Foundation. I’d like to think I would’ve reached the decision to donate on my own, but I know I was influenced by Adam Robinson and his wisdom about giving and focusing on others. Thank you to you and Adam for helping me make the right decision!

    Like

  15. Get a family and kids.
    I’m not jocking and this is not even close an insult.
    You’re my caffeine. Love your books. Love your blog and I’m an addict to your podcast while I commute.
    But I think that your mission will not be complete until you have a real family.
    Many of your hacks/habits/routines and in general “human algorithms” are missing two fundamental variables that can change the game completely:
    a) wife
    b) children

    Sometimes the best habit/process/routine will be broken by a two-years-old at 7:30am because what you learn is that HE is the master of your time.

    You have to do that.
    You have to write “Tools of Parents”

    Please think about it.

    And sorry for my english, I’m Italian

    Raffaele
    Napoli
    Italy

    Like

  16. Hi Tim,

    Came across this quote and thought of you (and your ponderings for 5-Bullet Friday). That’s all, just for one who might pass it on for thousands (millions?) to benefit from.

    “If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all.”
    – Yogi Bhajan

    Like

  17. Tim this was fantastic! I read the book ten years ago and my husband and I actually achieved the Four Hour Workweek. We built and sold a company in 3 years and now have ample time to spend with family and financial freedom.

    With that said, I’m in the FILLING THE VOID dilemma. While we are building another business to sell, most of the work is automated and we now have more free time. But underneath all that, I feel like I have almost too much downtime that I end up using creating over the top birthday parties for my kids and obsessing over Health Documentaries.

    I would love to hear more of your thoughts on FILLING THE VOID!! Maybe a separate podcast with some tactics and strategies?

    Again thanks for all you do!

    Like

  18. Unrelated, but I would love to hear Jordan B. Peterson on your podcast. It would be very interesting how Your(Tim’s) practical books stack up to his philosophy for a better life.

    Like

  19. Hi Tim,

    I’m looking to launch a fin tech app and while I can take care of the technology and self-fund the development I would really benefit from a mentor who could point me in the right direction. If you know anyone who has 10 minutes a day for me I would greatly appreciate you sharing my contact details with them. Thanks!

    Like

  20. On today’s 5 bullets: I’m very glad you found Sturgill Simpson. I’ve been hoping that connection would be made. I found his music last year after going down the rabbit hole following your Fadiman podcast last year.. Deeply beautiful.. Circle complete.

    Like

  21. Hi Tim, I picked up the 4 hour work week after listening to this podcast. So far I really like the practicality of it. One question I keep coming back to is- you talk a lot about eliminating distractions and unproductive tasks at work. How would you classify talking with co-workers about non-work things (life outside of work)? I understand that it isn’t directly related to work but relationship building is (in my opinion) very important but doesn’t necessarily check an item off of a to-do list. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Like

      • To the extent that such relationship building actually increases productivity (yours alone or as a group) or satisfaction with the job, it may be worthwhile. Studies have shown that having a friend at work is important to one’s satisfaction, after all. But identifying a “minimum effective dose” of non-work conversations with coworkers may be critical.

        Like

  22. Hello!
    I love all your content! I started with Tribe of Mentors and am now finishing up 4HWW… Absolutely inspiring and so informative with so many resources. Thank you for making my mind think in such a different way.
    One question- I can’t seem to find an answer. The book talks about the test site for the muse product (pxmethod), and gives a link for an example… but when I enter the link, it takes me somewhere else.
    Is there a visual example or breakdown of the muse product’s test site? Thank you!
    K

    Like

  23. “How can view this [substitute painful experience] as a gift?” A great reframing question from Tony Robbins you quoted that I didn’t realize would come in very hand about one week after listening to your episode. Life hit me with a serious gut punch. Still working on unwrapping the gift, but thanks for all the wisdom.

    Like

  24. Tim,
    In your quest to better the world through self-experimentation, consider your opportunity to influence and impact language. It seems that when interviewing highly successful people you mostly use precise, universally-civil language, but when you are being interviewed your language devolves to include a lot of vulgarity. Perhaps this is a reflection of your respect for or level of comfort with the interviewer or interviewee, but at least for some listeners it suggests you have little respect for your audience. Perhaps most don’t mind a dialogue full of expletives, and some see vulgarity merely as a tired/lazy/angry means of “adjectiving,” but you may find that pretty much no one would be offended or shocked by a lack vulgarity. Food for thought.

    Like

  25. Hi Tim hope you are well!
    My question pertains to your book 4-hour work week.
    I am an artist and also work for film creating sets and such…
    What suggestions or first steps would you recommmend for the artist in trying to adopt/transmission into creating a source of income as suggested in your book to then create more time for art making etc…..
    I am not trained in business but appreciate any insights and first steps you might have.

    [Moderator: additional text and Instagram handle removed.]

    All the best
    Whittnie

    Like

  26. Hi Tim,
    I am a Pastor and I love you content. Your how-to, 80/20 approach is refreshing and insightful. I recommend you to church members and even (my kids).
    Just noticing an uptick in the use of curse words (swearing) in your content. True, it can be offensive to a portion of the population, but I just think makes one look a little less smart. Sure the word f*ck can be used as an exclamation, noun, verb, or adjective based on how it is used, but in the end, another real word may be more appropriate.
    Love you and will continue to follow. Less verbal zingers would be received as most kind.

    Like

  27. Hi Guys, There was a title of a book about creating the company that can be easily sold. Maybe someone remember that title or may point moment in podcast where Tim is talking about it. Thanks in advance 🙂

    Like

  28. Hi Tim and team. For your 5 Bulllet Friday – under “What I’m Watching” – you should go watch the Netflix one hour documentary called “The Push” (with Derren Brown). He conducts a social experiment that convinces people to commit murder. Only an hour long and very, very thought-provoking / disturbing. WHERE are these people today? Are they in therapy??? It’s truly mind-boggling.

    Like