The Lost Presentation That Launched The 4-Hour Workweek — “Secrets of Doing More with Less in a Digital World” from SXSW 2007 (#548)

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Welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is my job to deconstruct world-class performers to tease out the routines, habits, et cetera that you can apply to your own life. 

This is a special episode, which features my very first speech at SXSW in March of 2007! I didn’t know that a recording existed, and it was a great surprise when Cal Newport, author of Deep Work and writer for The New Yorker sent it to me. 

He used it as part of his research for a recent article that was published in The New Yorker titled “Revisiting The 4-Hour Workweek: How Tim Ferriss’s 2007 manifesto anticipated our current moment of professional upheaval.” 

And the 2007 SXSW speech was really the event that put everything into high gear. Influential tech bloggers who had heard the SXSW talk wrote about The 4-Hour Workweek, which put it on the radar of bigger media outlets. Eventually, the book made it onto The New York Times Best Sellers list, where it stayed, more or less, for the next seven years. It’s been a wild ride. 

One last thing: Hugh Forrest, if you’re listening, thank you again for giving me a shot way back in the day! 

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform.

Brought to you by “5-Bullet Friday,” my very own email newsletter. More on it below.

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#548: The Lost Presentation That Launched The 4-Hour Workweek — “Secrets of Doing More with Less in a Digital World” from SXSW 2007

This episode is brought to you by 5-Bullet Friday, my very own email newsletter that every Friday features five bullet points highlighting cool things I’ve found that week, including apps, books, documentaries, gadgets, albums, articles, TV shows, new hacks or tricks, and—of course—all sorts of weird stuff I’ve dug up from around the world.

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear my interview with Ed Zschau, the polymath professor who changed my life? Listen to our conversation, in which we discuss the role of optimism in entrepreneurship, meticulous attention to detail, why career planning is overrated, and much, much more.

#380: Ed Zschau — The Polymath Professor Who Changed My Life


  • How do your decisions and priorities change if retirement will never be an option, and what do you do to avoid becoming a bottleneck when your business outscales you? Here’s why the pursuit of a 4-Hour Workweek isn’t for lazy people. [06:06]
  • Definition: determining what it is that you want to create from a lifestyle standpoint and how much this costs. How Tim applied the 80/20 Rule (aka Pareto’s Principle) to reduce the time he had to spend managing his own business. [13:48]
  • “It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” -Cyril Northcote Parkinson. How to ensure Parkinson’s Law isn’t governing your life. [19:01]
  • Elimination: how you can focus on the crucial few instead of the trivial many, starting with the way you process email. [20:15]
  • Automation: why you should outsource anything that occupies more time than you can afford to pay yourself. [24:14]
  • Liberation: creating mobility and taking advantage of the time that you create. [27:14]
  • The summary: the point of life is to enjoy it and the three currencies — time, income, and mobility — are vehicles to achieving it. [34:03]
  • How do you fire 80 percent of your clients without building bad will within the community? [35:48]
  • What happens when the people to whom I’ve outsourced the bulk of my work read The 4-Hour Workweek? [38:21]
  • How do meetings work in a 4-Hour Workweek scenario? [39:12]
  • How transparent should you be with your customers about how much of your workload is outsourced, and how do you justify increasing rates under these circumstances? [40:59]
  • How do auto-responders fit into relationship management? [43:25]
  • When eliminating, how do you figure out what’s important and what’s not important? [45:11]
  • Tools I used (circa 2007) to leverage my time, and what I consider to be the most valuable skill set you can develop. [48:40]
  • How does someone focus on what’s important in an era when distractions are so abundant? [50:27]
  • How can an employee implement 4-Hour Workweek tactics and strategies when locked into a traditional 40-hour job structure? [53:28]
  • The challenge. [57:40]


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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16 Replies to “The Lost Presentation That Launched The 4-Hour Workweek — “Secrets of Doing More with Less in a Digital World” from SXSW 2007 (#548)”

  1. Hey Tim. I just read a great article in a magazine called THRIVE ( that you might be interested in. It’s called Psychedelic Healing. It’s a brain injury magazine and you’ll find the article in Fall 2021.

  2. You bloody annoying git, i tried to comment to say thank you for improving my life and then your sucky website took me to your bloody e-book/question thingy. Yes i subscribed, but what a hell?

  3. Re: 5-Bullet Friday — November 19, 2021
    Invest in gold/precious metals. Look at the gold price, pre- and post- COVID. Pretty solid hedge against inflation.

  4. This ist gold!
    Thank you Cal for finding this nugget and thank you Tim for posting it.
    You helped me change my life for the good.
    I started at 2013 with the 4HWW, continued with the other books (Tools of Titans is my favorite one, except for the 4HWW, but all of them are fantastic) and the podcast.
    Even though I love the newer material too, I can relate to vintage Tim, thus I’m happy like a kid on christmas every time I see something from vintace Tim 🙂

    Best regards from Germany,

  5. I love this episode, it’s like a recap or pre-cap of the 4HWW – which I revisit to refresh my mind on improving my lifestyle design. Your output (books and podcasts) have helped to change my life and I’m grateful for all your work. Thanks for shining your light, being curious and bringing fascinating conversations to life.

  6. Thank you for posting this. I’m really glad Cal found this and shared it with you. Great talk and I can see why it created a buzz for your book. Like Cal mentioned in his New Yorker article, this talk and 4-Hour Workweek were way ahead of their time. Thanks again Tim.

  7. Started this on a long drive home and finished it just as I pulled into my driveway. It was meant to be. I needed this refresher. In the spirit of less is more, I think listening to your presentation worked better for me than reading your book. And you are my hero for handling that Power Point failure so well.

  8. That lucky girl who got to be the intern, hope there’s place for more Indians, hahah (but seriously, do you) Enjoyed the Podcast, Thankyou Tim!

  9. Tim, I would like to make a comment on last Friday’s “5-Bullet Friday. Specifically to the “Book I’m reading”. I picked up Anthony De Mello’s book entitled Awareness on Audible and it’s such a powerful call to stop the delusion! It smacked me right between the eyes! Thanks for the recommendation!

  10. Is there still the lottery on a free flight?

    Listening to your podcast inspired me to delegate many tasks. I am a working mum and my workweek shrinks from 5 days to max 3 days given the new childcare situation. Thus, I NEED TO SAVE TIME. I am a assistant professor and what happens when you have less time is that you are left with the boring tasks (admin and online interaction with students). I love doing research, but struggled to find time for these fun things. Now I delegated many little tasks and feel so free and happy as I have time to do the job I love: In-depth research.

    Thanks! And I would love to be in the lottery for a free flight 🙂

  11. Hi Tim, I really enjoyed this episode! I think that especially with the pandemic, people are relying heavily on technology and the digital world. Utilizing this properly can help you be more productive and I found myself agreeing with many of the points in this podcast. I enjoyed hearing about the case study as well that touches on the hourglass approach, where he uses the “I need to do” instead of “Can I do?” approach. I’m interested in hearing a lot more of your topics!

  12. Hugh Forrest blessed your life as you now bless others with the gift of exposure. Using your influence in this way touches so many other lives, Tim.