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Tim Ferris - The 4 Hour Workweek - Reading Notes

French Ben

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The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris 

Can these principles work in an economic depression? Yes. Lots of companies were launched during crises: Facebook, Linkedin, Apple, Fedex, Microsoft. 

Instead of saving good times for when you retire. The goal is to give mini-retirements now, cut your working hours in half and double your vacation time. 

An expert Is someone who has made all the mistakes that can be done in a narrow field (Niels Bohr) 

Make sure you have a market before you have a product. 

I sent one startup CEO 32 consecutive e-mails, he finally put me in sales. 

Step 1: Definition 

You want to have others work for you and spend the minimum amount of time working yourself. You want to own the trains and make sure they run on time. 

You want to have defined dreams to chase, timelines and steps. 

You need to make sure payday comes every day, not wishing to hit the jackpot in 10 years. 


Dreams are actually very cheap. A private villa, world-class ski runs, etc are all very accessible for cheap at the good moment of the year. 

Who are the new riches? 

  • Re-arranging a work schedule and negotiating a remote agreement to achieve 90% of the results in 10% of the time 

  • By eliminating the least profitable customers and outsourcing operations 

  • By running a dropshopping business 

I cannot give you a formula for success, but I can give one for failure: try to please everybody, all the time (Herbert Bayard Swope) 

By making all your calls in the early morning and late evening, you get to avoid secretaries and speak directly to the managers. 

The timing is never right.  

The stars will never align and the traffic lights will never all be green at the same time. 

Ask for forgiveness, not for permission.  

Don’t give people the chance to say no. Most are fast to stop you before you get started but hesitant to get in the way if you are already moving. Get good at being a troublemaker and saying sorry when you really screw up. 

Emphasize strengths, don’t fix weaknesses 

Most people are only good at a handful of things at miserable at most. It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor. Your weaknesses will at best become mediocre. Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repair. 

Money alone is not the solution 

We say “If only I had more money” so we can postpone the intense self-examination and decision-making necessary to create a life of enjoyment now. By using money as the scapegoat and working all day, we do not allow ourselves the time to do otherwise. Money is not the real problem. 

Distress is bad, eustress is good 

Euphoric stress is something we want. Role models who push us to exceed our limits, physical training that removes our spare tires and risks that expand our sphere of comfortable action are all examples od eustress – stress that is healthy and the stimulus for growth. 


How has being “realistic” or “responsible” kept you from the life you want? 


Fear-setting and escaping paralysis 

Many a false step was made by standing still 

Named must your fear be before banish it you can (Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back) 

Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty. 

Defining your fear is conquering it 

As soon as I cut through the vague unease and ambiguous anxiety by defining my nightmare, the worst-case scenario, I wasn’t as worried about taking a trip. I realized that on a scale of 1 to 10, my so-called worst –case scenario was a temporary 4 at worst. 

Fear can be disguised as optimism 

There is no difference between a pessimist who says “It’s hopeless” and the optimist who says “It’s going to turn out fine anyways”. Either way, nothing happens (Yvon Chouinard) 

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles. But most of them never happened (Mark Twain) 

If you are nervous about making the jump, write down your answers: 

  1. Define the absolute worst that could happen 

  1. What steps could you take to repair the damage or fix things, even temporarily? 

  1. What are the benefits, both temporary and permanent of the probable scenarios? 

  1. If you were fired from your job today, what would you do to keep things under financial control? 

  1. What are you putting off out of fear?  
    Usually what we fear the most is what we most need to do. A person’s success in life can be measure by the number of uncomfortable conversations they are willing to have. Resolve to do one scary thing every day. I got into this habit by attempting to contact celebrities and famous businesspeople for advice. 

  1. What is it costing you financially and emotionally to postpone action? 
    Inaction has a cost. How will you feel allowing circumstance to impose itself upon you and having allowed 10 more years to pass doing something unfulfilling? 

  1. What are you waiting for? 
    If you answer “bad timing”, you are afraid, like the rest of the world. 

Being unreasonable and unambiguous 

The reasonable man adapt himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress relives on unreasonable men. (George Bernard Shaw) 

I challenged 20 students to contact a world-class celebrity – Bill Gates, JLo, etc and get at least one reply to 3 questions. None completed the challenge. There were many excuses, but actually only one reason, repeated in different words. All of them overestimated the competition and nobody even showed up. Had any one of them even tried, they would have won the competition. 

Doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic 

It is lonely at the top. 99% of people are so convinced they cannot achieve great things, so they aim for the mediocre. 

The level of competition is therefore the fiercest for “realistic” goals. It is easier to raise 1,000,000 dollars than 100,000. It is easier to pick up the perfect 10 at the bar than the 8. 

If you feel insecure, the rest of the world also feels that way. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. 

Also, unrealistic goals are uninspiring and you will give up at the first or second problem. If your potential payoff is mediocre, so is your effort. 

The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits.. There is less competition fro bigger goals. 

Do not ask yourself “what do I want?”, ask yourself “what excites me?”. The real enemy is not failure, it is boredom. Boredom and fear. 

  1. Your goals must be unrealistic to be effective 

  1. They shift from ambiguous wants to defined steps 

  1. Living like a millionaire is doing interesting things 

How to get George Bush on the phone 

Find personal e-mail, like on their personal blogs, send a 2-3 paragraph email explaining you are familiar with their work, and ask one simple-to-answer but thought-provoking question related to their work or life philosophies. (eg: “When were you the happiest in your life?”) The goal is to start a dialogue so they take the time to answer future e-mails. 

Do not ask them for help. This can only come after 3-4 exchanges. 


Marrinan e-mailed Princeton dean to get Schmidt’s personal e-mail address. No response. Re-mail. Got a no. Re-re-emailed “have you ever made an exception?” and eventually got it. 

Some people go for higher numbers, but Marrinan said “I deal with rejection by persisting, not by taking my business elsewhere” 

The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom (Viktor Frankl) 

  1. What would you do if there was no way you could fail? If you were 10 times smarter than the rest of the world? 
    Create 2 timelines – 6 and 12 months 
    Write down things you would like to have, things you would like to do and things you would like to be. If you can’t find, write down things you hate and get the opposite. 

  1. What would you do day-to-day if you had 100 million USD in the bank? 

  1. What would make you excited to wake up in the morning to another day? 

  1. A place to visit 

  1. A thing to do before you die 

  1. A thing to do daily 

  1. A thing to do weekly 

  1. A thing you have always wanted to learn 

  1. Convert each being  into doing 

  1. Great cook -> making Christmas dinner without help 

  1. Fluent in Chinese -> Have a 5 mn conversation 

  1. Determine the cost of these dreams in monthly cash flows (X usd every month) 

  1. Determine 3 steps for each of the 4 dreams in the 6 months timeline and take the first step now 

I usually set up 3 and 6 months timelines. Long distance can become an excuse to postpone action. 

Set small actions for today, tomorrow and overmorrow, at 11am. Each should take 5mn at most. 

If you need to research, get in touch with someone who knows or who has done it instead of wasting time. 


Comfort challenge 

Propose solutions instead of asking for them. Elicit desired responses instead of reacting. You need to develop the uncommon habit of making decisions both for yourself and for others 

Challenge: eye gaze 

For the next 2 days, make eye contact with everyone until they break contact. Practice with people bigger or more confident than yourself. 

Step 2: Elimination 

20% of sources cause 80% of your problems and unhappiness. 

I stopped contacting 95% of my customers and fired 2%, leaving me with the top 3%. Out of more than 120 wholesale customers, 5 brought 95% of the revenue. 

I put these customers in passive mode: if they ordered, great. If not, I would do absolutely no chasing. Then I identified the main characteristics of the best 5 customers and secured similar profiles in the next week. More customers is not the goal- it often results in more housekeeping and just a 1-3% revenue income. The goal should be to make maximum income for the minimum number of customers. I focused on increasing the size and frequency of my best customers instead. 

  1. Advertising 

I identified the advertising that was generating 80% of my revenue and multiplied it. 

  1. Online Affiliates and partners 

I fired 250 low-yield online affiliates and focused on the 2 that brought 90% of my income. Management time dropped. 

Being busy is a form of laziness- lay thinking and indiscriminate action. 

Parkinson’s Law: if we have 8 hours to do something, we do it in 8 hours. If we have 2, we do it in 2. 

A task will swell in perceived importance and complexity depending on the time allotted for its completion, 

  1. Limit tasks to the important to shorten work (80/20) 

  1. Shorten working time to limit tasks to the important 

Ask yourself the following questions: 

  1. If I had a heart attack and could work only 2 hours a day, what would I do? 

  1. If you could work only 2 hours a week, what would you do? 

  1. If you had to cut 80% of time-consuming activities, what would you eliminate? (email, phone calls, conversations, paperwork, meetings, advertising, customers, suppliers, products, services, etc) 

  1. What are the top-3 activities that I use to fill time and to feel productive? 

  1. Who are the 20% of people who provide 80% of your enjoyment? Who are the 20% that bring 80% of your problems, depression and anger? 

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they are making you weaker. 

  1. If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I feel satisfied with my day? 

Always start a day’s work with a clear list of priorities. Compile your list for tomorrow. There should never be more than 2 critical items to complete each day. If you can’t choose which go first, ask yourself “If I only do this, will I be satisfied with my day?” 

Do not multitask. Use Parkinson’s Law: shorten deadlines and schedules. 

Limit the number of tasks on your to-do list and use impossibly short deadlines to force immediate action. 

Challenge: learn to propose (2 days) 

Stop asking for opinions and start proposing solutions. If someone asks “Where should we eat?”, say “I suggest we eat at __” or “Let’s try ___ and try something else if that doesn’t work” 

Cultivate selective ignorance 

I do not read news. I read at most one third of an industry magazine (Response Magazine)  and one business magazine (Inc) per month. It takes me 4 hours per month. 

What if I had to do something I didn’t know how to? Like sell a book to the world’s largest publisher as a first-time author? 

I would find 10 people who have done it, ask them a smart question by e-mail or phone after researching their profiles. 

Read, surf and watch TV as little as possible 

Emails and phone 

Never check email in the morning. Instead, complete your most important task before 11am.  

Only check email twice a day at 12 and 4. 

Set up autoresponders: “Due to high workload, I am currently checking and responding to email twice daily at 12 and 4. If you require urgent assistance that cannot wait, call me at ---” 

Use 2 phone numbers – urgent and non-urgent. The office phone should be in silent mode. The responder could say “I check my voicemail daily at 12 and 4. If you require assistance with a matter that cannot wait, call my emergency phone at ---. Otherwise, you can send me an email as I am often able to respond faster that way.” 

Interrupting interrupters 

Start the conversation by saying “I am in the middle of something right now. How can I help you?” (if she says she can call back) No, it’s ok, I have a minute. What can I do for you?” 

Cutting chitchat- “Sorry to interrupt, but I have a call in 5 minutes. What can I do to help out?” 

Avoid all meetings that do not have clear objectives. Meetings can be no longer than 5 minutes long. It is your job to train people around you to be efficient 

  1. Have people send you emails, them phone, then meetings. If someone proposes a meeting, use phone as a fallback 

  1. Respond to voicemail via e-mail. This trains people to be concise. Help them develop the habit 

  1. Propose alternatives:  

“Can you meet at 4? If not, please advise 3 other times that work for you”  

“Hi Susan, has the shipment arrived? If so, advise me. If not, contact Jane in CC here. Jane, if there are any issues with the shipment, please coordinate with Susan, who has authority to make decisions up to $500 on my behalf. In case of emergency, call me on my phone, but I trust you two. Thanks” 

  1. Meetings should only be held to make decisions, not to define a problem. 

  1. If someone wants a meeting: “That sounds doable. So I can best prepare, can you please send me an email with an agenda? That is, the topics and questions that we will need to address? Thanks in advance (increases your chances to get a reply)” 

  1. Define an end time for your meetings. They should last 30 minutes at most. Cite other commitments at odd times to make them more believable – eg. 3.20 instead of 3.30. 
    Inform the organizer you would like to speak first so you can honor another commitment and leave early. 

  1. In the office, wear headphones. When someone approaches, pretend to be on the phone and say “Can you hold on a second?” before telling the intruder “What can I do for you?” 
    Don’t let them get back to you later, have them give a 5-second summary and send you an email if necessary. 

  1. You can also say “I am in the middle of something. How can help you?” If it isn’t clear within 30 seconds, say “I’d be happy to help but I have to finish this first. Can you send me a quick email to remind me?” 
    “I only have 2 minutes before a call, but what is the situation and what can I do to help?” 

  1. Use the “foot in the door” close to get your managers to accept remote work. 

“Does that sound like something we could try for a week?” or “Is that reasonable?”. It is hard for people to label things unreasonable. 

Always batch 

There is always a setup time for each task. Check your mail twice a day. Some of my batches were email (Monday at 10), laundry (Sunday at 7), checking bills every second Monday, etc. 


The vision is really about empowering workers, giving them all the information so they can do a lot more than they have done in the past (Bill Gates) 

For the entrepreneur, the goal is to grant as much information and decision-making ability to employees and contractors. 

Here is an email I wrote to a contractor: 

“I would like to establish a new policy that overrides all the others.  Keep the customer happy. If it costs less than 100$ to fix the problem, use your judgement and fix it yourself. This is official written permission and a request to fix all problems that cost under 100$ without contacting me. I am no longer your customer. My customers are your customer. Do not ask me for permission. Do what you think is right and we will make adjustments as we go along. Thank you” 

It is amazing how someone’s IQ seems to double when you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them. 

Avoiding unwanted calls 

Establish do-not-disturb hours when calls are routed to voicemail 

Have voicemail sent to your cell as text messages 

Scheduling meetings 

Doodle: to schedule meetings 

Time Driver 

Choosing the best email batching times 

Xobni – find when people email you 

Jott – audio notes you get transcripts for 

CopyTalk – to speak and get a transcript by mail 

Challenge: say no to everything for 2 days 

Refuse to do all the things that won’t get you immediately fired. Be selfish. Say you are busy. 

Step 3: Automation 

If you spend your time, worth 25 USD per hour, doing something someone can do for 10 USD an hour, you are wasting resources. 

Eliminate before you delegate 

Use autoresponders with FAQ and autoforwarders to suppliers 

Eliminate meetings 

Each delegated task must be well-defined and time-consuming 

Your Man In India – both personal and pro 

Brickwork – only business projects, can even write a business plan for you to raise funding 

Common tasks you can outsource: web research, creation of legal documents, posting job vacancies, updating invoices, receiving payments, voicemail transcription, market research, legal research, charting a diet plan, ordering groceries based on this diet plan, moderating a forum 

Lots of Big 5 accounting firms just outsource to these people 

Using a Virtual Assistant team is better than a solo person 

Your sensitive data is extremely safe with Brickwork, more than on one your own PC 

Safety measures: 

  1. Never use debit card for online transactions or with remote assistants. Reversing unauthorized credits card charges, particularly AmEx, is painless and nearly instantaneous. 

  1. If your VA will be accessing a website on your behalf, create a new login and password for this site. 

Efficiency measures 

  1. Ask a VA that has perfect English and indicate that phone calls will be required, even if they aren’t. 

  1. Be clear: I asked the “bad” VA to schedule interviews but I didn’t say it was for an article, and he starting compiling information from job sites. 

  1. I asked him to respond if he didn’t understand. I should have asked him to rephrase tasks to confirm understanding before getting started. 

  1. I gave him a license to waste time by giving him a week. The best efficiency is to set deadlines for 48 and 24 hours. 

  1. I gave him too many tasks and didn’t set an order of importance. Only send one task at a time, two at most. Eliminate before you delegate. 

A good VA email 

“I need to find the name and emails of editors of men’s magazines in he US (for example: maxim, stuff, GQ, etc) who have also written books. An example of such a person would be AJ Jacobs who is Editor at Large of Esquire. I already have his information and need more like him. 

Can you do this? If not, please advice. Please reply and confirm what you will plan to do to complete this task. 

Deadline: Since I am in a rush, get started after your next e-mail and stop at 3 hours and tell me what results you have. Please begin this task now if possible. The deadline for these 3 hours and reported result is end-of-day ET Monday” 

VA websites 

Elance, Guru, RentaCoder 

TryAskSunday – I use them 80% of the time, as most tasks take less than 10 minutes to complete. 

B2KCorp – only business 


Your Man In India 

Syncing calendars and schedules 

BusySync – syncing different calendars 

WebEx Office – take appointments while hiding your agenda 

There are also tools to delay emails so people don’t answer you straightaway 

Redirecting colleagues when there is an issue 

“I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. Normally, the priorities are really clear to me. Could you help me ---?" 

Oh and before I forget” - great way to transition and avoid awkwardness. 

Finding your muse (a business that works without you) 

Avoid service businesses as it requires lots of customer contact. 

The target product shouldn’t take more than 500 USD to test, must be automatized within four weeks and should not require more than a day of week of management. 

Many people make the mistake of investing and hoping for the best. 


The more resellers there are, the more they compete with each other and bring prices down. You need to limit wholesale distribution to the top one or two resellers who have agreed on a minimum selling price. 

Giving one company exclusivity (100% of th distribution) can be a good choice, you can negotiate better profit margins, better marketing support in-store, faster payment and other preferential treatment. 

Before committing to a product, you should know how you are going to sell it and distribute it. 

Step 1: Pick an affordably reachable niche market 

Don’t create a product and then seek someone to sell it. Find a market, find customers and then a product for them. 

If everyone is your customer, then nobody is. Something for car lovers? No. A restoration product for antique Fords? Way better. It is more profitable to be a big fish in a small pond than a small undefined fish in a big pond. 

Ask yourself these questions to find a niche: 

  1. Which groups to you belong to or have belonged to and understand?  

Rock climbers, recreational cyclists, dancers, car aficionados. 

Look at all the books you own, and wonder which groups of people buy the same things you have. Which newsletters, which websites do you watch on a regular basis? 

  1. Which of these groups have their own magazines? 

Visit a large bookstore and look at their smaller specialty magazines to brainstorm additional niches. 

Use Writer’s Market to identify magazine options outside bookstores. 

Call these magazines to talk to their advertising directors and tell them you are considering advertising. Ask them to email their current advertising rate card and include both readership numbers and magazine back-issue samples. 

Step 2: Brainstorm products – do not invest in them 

  • Pick the 2 markets that you are the most familiar with, that have their own magazines, with full-page advertising that costs less than 5,000 USD.  

There should be no fewer than 15,000 readers. 

  • The main benefit of your product should be encapsulated in one sentence.  

People can dislike you but they should never misunderstand you. Apple was clear: 1,000 songs in your pocket. Do not move ahead until you can do this without confusing people. 

  • Price: It should cost the customer 50-200 USD.  

Higher pricing means less customers to manage, attracts low-maintenance customers (better credit, less returns) and creates higher profit margins. 

I personally aim for a 8-10x markup, which means a 100 USD product can’t be bought at more than 12 USD. 

People will need to speak to a real person before buying something over 200 USD. 

  • Manufacturing 

It should take no more than 3 to 4 weeks. How to find out how long it will take? To go www.thomasnet.com  

Call a related manufacturer and try to get a referral (eg. Toilet bowls manufacturer could give you the address of a toilet cleaning solutions manufacturer) 

Google “toilet solutions” + “association” or “organization”. Contact these organizations, ask them for the name of their trade magazines, and referrals to manufacturers. 

Request pricing from the manufacturers. Determine the cost production for 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 units. 

  • FAQ 

It should be fully explainable in a FAQ 

Step 2 – Option 1: Resell a product 

  1. Contact the manufacturer and request a wholesale pricelist (generally 40% off retail) and terms 

  1. File for an LLC or other business structure 

  1. Do not purchase until step 3 is complete 

Step 2 – Option 2: License a product 

First, there is the inventor of the product (the licensor) who can sell the rights to manufacture for 3-10%  of the wholesale price. Then, there is the licensee who sells the product for 90 to 97% of the profit. 

Go on fourhourblog.com to sell inventions without prototypes or patents, and to secure rights to a no-name beginner. 

Step 2 – Option 3: Create a product 

You can hire engineers and designers on Elance. 

You can do “private labeling”: a generic product you can put your name on, like the Kirkland brand at Costco. 

Manufacturing is expensive. Unless you manufacture information, what has a huge markup price: 20x to 50x. It’s harder to copy. The best information-based products are: 

  • No Down Payment (Carlton Sheets) 

  • Attacking Anxiety and Depression (Lucinda Bassett) 

  • Personal Power (Tony Robbins) 

  • The guy who created a (badly-made) homemade DVD who explained to owners of storage facilities how to install security systems. 

“But I’m not an expert!” 

You don’t need to be the best, you just need to be better than a small target number of your prospective customers. 

Expert status can be created in less than 4 weeks if you understand basic credibility indicators. Being an expert creates good products and prevents returns. Being perceived as an expert sells products. A credibility indicator can be an “MD” at the end of your name but you don’t need that: 

  1. Join 2-3 related trade organizations 

They must have a nice sounding name (Association for Conflict Resolution)- it can be done in 5 minutes with a bank card 

  1. Read the 3 top-selling books on your topic (search historical New York Times bestseller lists online) 

  1. Give one free 1-3-hour seminar 

In a nearby university. Use posters to advertise 

  1. Do the same at branches of well-known companies (IBM, etc) in the same area 

Say you are doing it for free to get additional speaking experience outside of academics and will not be selling products or services.  

Record the seminars from two angles for larger potential use as a DVD product 

  1. Optional: offer to write 1-2 articles for trade magazines related to your topic 

If they decline, offer to interview a known expert and write the article. It still gets your name listed as a contributor. 

  1. Join ProfNet- journalists use it to find experts.  

Respond to journalist queries 

Done properly, you can get featured all the way to New York Times and ABC News. 

Creating content 

There are three options: 

  1. Create the content yourself (from paraphrasing several books) 

  1. Repurpose content that is in public domain and not subject to copyright protection, like government documents 

  1. License content or compensate an expert to help create content 

If you read and understand 3 top-selling books on homepage design, you know more about that topic than 80% of the readership of a magazine for real estate brokers. Summarize the information and make recommendations specific to the needs of the real estate market, and you can expect a 1% response from an ad you place in the magazine. 

What can you sell for 50-200 USD? A combination of 2 CDs (30-90 minutes each), a 40-page transcription and a 10-page quick-start guide. Digital delivery is acceptable and even ideal if you can create a high enough perceived value. 

  1. Tailor a general skill for a niche market. Think narrow and deep, not wide. 

  1. Become an expert in the skill you and others would be interested 

  1. What experts could you interview and record to create a sellable audio CD? They just need to be better than most, not the best. Offer them a digital master copy and an up-front payment or ongoing royalty payment. Use Skype and HotRecorder to get a transcript. 

Challenge: call one potential superstar mentor a day for 3 days 

Call first, email if it doesn’t work. Aim high. Look on contactanycelebrity.com  

“Hi, this is Tim Ferris calling for John Grisham, please” 

“May I ask what this is regarding?” 

“I know this might sound a bit odd, but I am a first-time author and just read his interview in Time Out New York. I am a longtime fan and I have finally built up the courage to call him for one specific piece of advice. It wouldn’t take more than 2 minutes of his time. Is there any way you could help me get through him? I really appreciate whatever you can do” 

“Hi Mr. Grisham, my name is Tim Ferris. I know this might sound a bit odd but I am a first-time author and a longtime fan. I just read your interview in X and finally built up the courage to call. I have wanted to ask you for a specific piece of advice for a long time, and it shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes of your time. May I?” 

“Uh ok go ahead, I have to be on a call in a few minutes” 

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


  • Don’t say “Mr. Grisham”, it is a giveaway that you don’t know them. Say “John Grisham” or “John” 

  • Using the interview in the magazine allows you to avoid the question “who are you” and play the sympathy card when showing you are a first-timer 

  • “I am a longtime fan” can be replaced by “I have been following your career/exploits for a number of years.” 

  • “I finally built up the courage” -> Make it clear you are nervous even if you aren’t. They will lower their defenses. 

  • Ask them to “help” you do something 

Confirming market size 

Compete – find the number of visitors and search terms that generate traffic 


Writer’s Market – listing of thousands of niche magazines and subscription numbers 

Spyfu – see your competitors’ online ad spending, keywords and ad-word details 

Standard Rate and Data Services – magazines and mailing lists available for rent 

Finding products to resell or manufacture 


Commission Junction – will pay you 10-75% of each purchase. No inventory, no invoices to do. 

Amazon Associates – take 7-10%. Do not get into bidding wars using expensive keywords. Go niche. 

Alibaba – thay can make everything 

Worldwide Brands – how-to guide for finding manufacturers and dropshippers. This is what Amazon and eBay use 

Shopster – millions of dropship products 

Thomas’s Register of Manufacturers – search manufacturers for every conceivable product 

Ingrambook, Techdata – for electronics, books and DVDs 

Housewares, National Hardware Show – also consider attending local or state fairs 

ExpoEast, ExpoWest – for consumables and vitamin products 

Finding public domain information to repurpose 

Speak with an IP attorney first.If anyone modifies 20% of something in the public domain, it becomes theirs and you can’ t use it. 

Project Gutenberg – lots of books in public domain 

Librivox – audiobooks in the public domain for free download 

Recording Seminars 

Hot Recorder 

NoCost Conference- provides a 800-number conference line and recording 

Jing Project, DimDim, Camtasia – to record your screen for tutorials 

Licensing ideas to others for royalties 

InventRight – Highly recommended. Stephen Key comes up with idea, files a provisional patent for 200$ and lets another company do the work. He shows how to do. 

Guthy Renker – submit your product, get 2-4%. They are huge. 

Searching patents for unexploited ideas to turn into products 

United States Patent and Trademark (uspto.gov) 

Licensable Technologies Developed at Universities (autm.net -> Technology Transfer Offices) 

Inventors Groups and Associations – call and ask if they have anything to license (uiausa.org/resources/in) 

Becoming an expert 

Stop swimming upstream and let them come to you 

ProfNet – journalists looking for experts 

PR Leads  

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) 

PR Web Direct – dead for lots of purposes but allows you to go to the top of Google News and Yahoo News 

Expert Click – this is another secret of the PR pros. Put up your profile, receive top media contacts, send free press releases to 12,000 journalists and be seen by 5 million people. This is how I got on NBC and ended up developing a prime-time TV show. Use “Tim Ferris $100” for discount. 

Step 3 – Micro-test your products before you make them 

Don’t ask people if they would buy. Ask them to buy. 

Do not charge customers if you cannot send a product as it is illegal. Don’t write 3 to 4 weeks delivery so you can make the product once they pay, it is also illegal. 

The basic test consists of 3 parts: 

Best: look at the competition and make a more-compelling offer on a basic 1-3pages-website (should take you 3 hours) 

Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool, Wordtracker and SEOBook Keyword Tool. Look at the 3 websites that appear in the top search and PPC positions. Differentiate yourself using: 

  • Credibility indicators (media, academia, associations, testimonials) 

  • A better guarantee 

  • A better selection 

  • Free or faster shipping 

  • Keep all the advertising that compells you to visit a website (eg. “The Fastest Way to Learn a Language Guaranteed (Rosetta Stone)” can become “The Fastest Way to Increase Power and Speed Guarantee”) 

Test: use Google Adwords : 3 hours to set it up, 5 days to observe 

  • Set up a bid on eBay with a minimum price. Cancel it at the last second 

  • Buy a registrar on Domain In Seconds 

  • Create your page with Weebly 

  • Add a form with Wufoo 

  • If the visitor confirms order, he gets a page “Sorry, we are currently on back order but we will contact you as soon as we have the product in stock. Thank you for your patience” 

  • Set up Google Adword campaign to test headlines. Daily budget: 50USD a day (first visit adwords.google.com/onlinebusiness) 

  • Use Google analytical tools to track orders and page abandonment rates 

  • Create several ads with only one variable changing (the url, the headline, etc) for Google to rotate 

  • Disable the “keep best-performing ad” feature- you need to combine the clickthrough rate of every ad and combine all the elements into one final ad 

  • Don’t use “free” as you get people who are not your target 

Invest or Divest 

  • If numbers add up, set up a Yahoo Store  for (($ a month  

  • Use Paypal to accept credit card online instead of opening a merchant account at your bank 

  • If you have a high abandonment rate on the pricing page, offer a “2x money-back guarantee” if these shirts aren’t the most comfortable they have every worn 

  • Or set up merchant account at your bank and process credit cards through Authorize.net 

  • Get a small display ad at 50% off in a magazine (30% for being a first-timer and 20% from citing another competing newspaper) 

  • You can put a toll-free number on the ad that forwards to your cell phone. This allows you to know what questions to put in your FAQ and test a “buy 2, get 1 free” offer. 

Comfort Challenge: reject first offers and walk away (3 days) 

Read “How to get 700,000 of advertising for 10,000”. 

2 hours a day from Saturday to Monday, go to a small independent retailer or outdoor event where goods are sold. Try to get 150$ worth for 100$ (try to have many small items than a few big ones) 

Negotiate near closing time, choose your objective price, make a firm offer with cash in hand (this is a Jedi mind trick).  

Call newspapers, go as low as possible and call them back later to say your proposal was refused by upper management. Get used to refusing offers. 

Sample page 

PX Method – sales template page 

Website creation 

Weebly- takes 2 hours and is SEO-friendly 


Bluehost – hosting 

Creating Forms with or without payment 


Company formation 

LLCs and S-Corps are better for small businesses. I also have a C-corporation (to issue stock to investors) 

Legal Zoom – all legal documents you need 

Corporate Creations – domestic and overseas company formation 

Selling downloadable products 


Lulu – print-on-demand, manufcature and fulfillment. Offers distribution through Amazon and other outlets 

CreateSpace – subsidiary of Amazon that offers distribution of video on demand and books 

ClickBank – integrated access to affiliates selling your product  

Market Sizing 

Google Adwords Keyword Tool 

SEOBook Keyword Tool – searches powered by Wordtracker 

Domain Registration 

Domain In Seconds – I have registered more than 100 domains through this service 

Joker, GoDaddy 

Inexpensive hosting services 

I recommend having a backup provider. Put your pages on each host and sign up with no-ip.com, which can redirect traffic (DNS) to the backup in 5 minutes instead of 24 hours. 

1and1, Bluehost, Rackpage, Hosting.com 

Royalty-free material 


GettyImages – this is where pros go. I pay 150-400$ for most images I use in national print campaigns and the quality is outstanding 

Email signup and autoresponders 

Aweber, Mailchimp 

End-to-end solutions with payment processing 

Shopify – handles everything but you will need to set up a payment-processing service 

Yahoo Store – 40 USD a month and 1.5% per transaction 

Ebay store – 15-500USD per month plus eBay fees 

Simple payment for testing pages 

Paypal for Merchants – no monthly fees, 2-3% of transaction (called “discount rate”) + 0.30$ 

Google Checkout – get10$ for each 1$ spent on Adwords, 2% and 0.20$ per transaction. Free transaction for nonprofits 

Authorize.net - accept credit card. Lower fees but require merchant account. Only set it up after your product has tested succesfully with other options 

Web Analytics 

Google Analytics 

CrazyEgg – to see where people click the most on your page. Useful to reposition the most important links and buttons. Don’t guess what is working, measure it. 

Clicktracks, WebTrends 

A/B Testing software 

Google Website Optimizer – free. I used it to increase signups by 20% 




Toll-free numbers 

Tollfree Max, Kall8 – take 5 minutes to set up, can forward to your phone and manage responders by email. 

Checking competitiors’ site 

Compete, Quantcast, Alexa 

Freelance designers and programmers 

99designs, Crowdspring, eLance, Craigslist 

Other tools 

Remember the Milk – daily tasks 

Freshbooks – online invoicing 

Highrise – online CRM 

PBwiki – collect notes and ideas 

FogBugz on Demand – bug tracker but you can use it for personal tasks, can keep track of your mail 

Amazon Mechanical Turk – to have hundreds of people doing small bits of defined work 

The fastest way to market with a product idea: Registera 

Get hosting from dathorn, set up site, buy now button and see how many sales you would have achieved. Use Google ads to drive traffic, calculate theoretical ROI. 

If after 2 weeks it becomes an interesting ROI, create or outsource the product, set up a working Paypal account and email prospective buyers. 

Removing yourself from the equation 


Contract outsourcing companies or freelancers. Give them permission to solve problems with each other and to make inexpensive decisions without consulting you first (I started with 100 USD and then 400 USD after 2 months) 

Phase 1: answer all e-mail and save your responses in  Customer Service Questions document 

Phase 2: more than 10 units shipped a week.  

Look for companies offering “fulfillment services” and “mailing services” in the yellow pages. Go to mfsanet.org to find them. Call local printers and ask them for recommendations. 

Choose one who will agree not to charge you setup fees and monthly minimums (usually they are the smallest). If this isn’t possible, ask for 50% off both and ask that the setup fee be applied as an advance against shipping or other fees. 

Limit the candidates to those who can respond to order status email or phone calls from customers. Send them the document you wrote in phase 1. 

Tell them you need the cash for advertising, which will bring more shipments. Put different companies in competition. 

Before making the final selection, ask for at least 3 client references. Ask them: “I understand they are good, but everyone has weaknesses. If you had to point out where you have had some issues and what they are not the best at, what would you say? Could you describe an incident or disagreement? I expect that with all companies, so it’s no big deal, and it’s confidential of course. 

After one month of using their services, ask for “net-30 terms” = payment for services 30 days after they are rendered. It’s easier to negotiate this with smaller operations who need the business. 

Have your contract manufacturer ship product directly to the fulfillment house, put their email and phone number 

Phase 3: more than 20 units shipped per week. 

Call end-to-end fulfilment houses than handle it all, from order status to returns and redunds 

Ask them for referrals to call centers and credit card processors that they have collaborated with. 

Do not assemble an architecture of strangers, they will create mistakes. 

Setup an account with the credit card processor first. You will need your own merchant account. This is critical, as the fulfillment house can only handle refunds and declined cards for transactions that they process themselves through an outsourced credit card processor. 

Optionally, set up an account with one of the call centers your new fulfillment center recommends. They will often have toll-free numbers you can use. Look at the percentage split of online to phone orders during testing and consider carefully if the extra revenue from the latter is worth the hassle. It often isn’t. Those who call to order will generally order online if given no other option. 

Before signing on with a call center, get several 800 numbers they answer for current clients and make test calls. Call each number at least 3 times (morning, afternoon and evening) and note the wait time. 

Fewer options = more revenue 

The guy who offered 1 watch outsold 6 times the guy who offered 9. Ford only sold black cars. 

Serving the customer is not becoming a personal concierge and catering to their every whim and want. Customer service is providing an excellent product at an acceptable price and solving legitimate problems in the fastest manner possible. That’s it. 

To reduce service overhead: 

  • Offer 1 or 2 purchase options (eg. Basic and premium) 

  • Offer only one shipping option, or basic and premium again 

  • Do not offer overnight or expedited shipping, as this will produce hundreds of anxious phone calls (you can refer them to a reseller who does, though) 

  • Do all orders online, not phone 

  • Do not offer international shipments (complicated and brings tariffs issue) 

All these points allow you for the biggest time-saver: customer filtering. 

Not all customers are equal 

Look at the customer as an equal trading partner and not as an infallible blessing of a human being to be pleased at all costs. Be professional but never kowtow to unreasonable people. 

  1. Do not accept Western Union or checks 

When you turn down Western Union of checks as a payment, you may lose 15% of sales, but you also get rid of the customers who bring 40% of the expenses and time. Those who spend the most complain the least. 

  1. Raise wholesale minimums to 12-100 units and require a tax ID number to qualify resellers who are real businesspeople and not time-intensive novices. 

  1. Never negotiate pricing or approve lower pricing for higher-volume orders. Cite “company policy” due to having problems in the past 

  1. Offer lower-priced products instead of fee products to capture contact information for follow-up sales. Offering something for free is the best way to attract time-eaters and spend money on those unwilling to return the favor. 

Make your customer base an exclusive club and treat them well once they have been accepted. 

The Lose-Win guarantee: the best  

“Satisfied or your money back” isn’t enough. People want more than risk elimination now. 

“Delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free” (Domino’s Pizza) 

“If you don’t like Cialis, we’ll pay for a brand of your choice” 

“if your car is stolen, we will pay 500$ of your insurance deductible” (CLUB, anti-theft device) 

“110% guaranteed to work within 60 minutes of the first dose” (money-back + check for 10%) 

“It works or you get a full refund and get to keep it” 

“If these shirts aren’t the most comfortable ever, return them and get twice your money back. And each shirt is guaranteed for life- send it back and we will replace it free of charge” 

How to Look Fortune 500 in 45 minutes 

  1. Don’t be CEO or founder. Be vice-president, director, director of sales, duriector of business development. For negotiation purposes, it is also best not to appear as the decision-maker 

  1. Put multiple email and phone contacts on the website: hr, sales, general inquiries, wholesale distribution, media/PR, investors, web comments, order status. In Phase 3, they will forward to different outsourcers. You can also do the same for toll-free numbers. 

  1. Setup an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) receptionist 

“Thank you for calling ___, please say the name of the person or department you would like to reach” 

This costs 30$ and 10 minutes on angel.com  

  1. Do not provide home addresses 

You will get visitors if you do. If you have an end-to-end fulfillment house than can accept checks and money orders, use theirs. Or use a PO Box, but remove “PO Box” and use the street of the post office itself. “PO Box 555, Nowhere” becomes “Suite 555, 1234 Downtown Avenue” 

Virtual receptionist and IVR 

Angel.com - takes 5 minutes. Incredible 

Ring Central – toll free number, voicemail, fax, all online 

DVD Duplication, Packaging 

AVC Corporation 

SF Video 

Local fulfillment (less than 20 units a week) 

Mailing Fulfillment Service Association – msfanet.org 

End-to-end fulfillment (more than 20 units a week + 500$ setup) 

Motivational Fulfillment 


Moulton Fulfillment – real-time online inventory reports 

Call centers 


West Teleservices – all the high-volume and lowprice players use them 

Nexrep – home-based sales agents specializing in B2B and B2C 

Triton Technology – commission-only sales center, known for their incredible closing abilities. Don’t call unless your product sells at least for 100$. 

Centerpoint Teleservices – sales force who convert ads to real sales 

Stewart Response Group – sales-driven. High-touch boutique 

Credit card processors (merchant account through your bank necessary) 

They can interact with fulfilment to remove you from the flowchart 

Transfirst Payment Processing 

Chase Paymenttech 

Trust Commerce 


Affiliate Program Software 

My Affiliate Program 

Discount Media Buying Agencies 

If you go to a magazine, radio station, or TV channel and pay the rate card (the retail pricing first given), you will never make it big. Some ad agencies offer up to 90% discount on some media. 

Manhattan Media (print) 

Novus Print Media – relationships with 1400 magazine and newspaper publishers, average of 80% rate card. 

Mercury Media – largest private DR media agency in the US. Specialists in TV but can also hndle radio and print 

EURO RSCG – one of the worldwide leaders in DRTV media 

Canella Media Response TV – uses the “per-inquiry” model for compensation where you split order profits instead of paying for time upfront. It is more expensive but lowers upfront invesment. 

Marketing Architects – leaders on the radio DR, a bit expensive 

Radio Direct -  

Online Marketing and Research Firms 

Small: SEMPO 

Medium: Clicks2Customers, Working Planet 

Pro: MarketingExperiments (this is my team), Did-It, ROI Revolution, iProspect 

Full-service informercial producers 

Cost at least 15K and 50K for a long form infomercial 

Cesari Direct 

Hawthorne Direct 


Retail and International product distribution 

To hit the shelves of Walmart or biggest retailers in Japan 

Tristar Products – they also own their own production studio and can offer end-to-end services in addition to retail distribution 

BJ Direct –  

Celebrity brokers 

To have a celebrity endorse your product. It can cost less than you think. The best pitcher in Major League Baseball only costs 20K$ a year. 


Celebrity Endorsement 

Contact Any Celebrity – to contact them yourself 


You can also find Facebook groups related to your group and ask the admins to put a link in the group description. 

Step 4: Liberation 

Step 1: Increase investment. The company needs to invest as much as possible in you so the loss is greater if you quit 

Step 2: call in sick on a Tuesday and Wednesday and showcase your remote working productivity (not Friday as it look as if you’re trying to go on a long weekend). Install GoToMyPC so you can control your office computer from home. 

Step 3: document all the extra work you were able to do 

Step 4: propose a revocable trial period 

So here is the funny part, I thought I would get nothing done, but ended up finishing 3 more designs than usual on both days. Plus, I put in three more billable hours than usual without the commute, office noise, distractions, etc. Just as a trial, I'd like to propose working from home Mondays and Tuesdays for just 2 weeks. You can veto in whenever you want. And I'll come in if we need to do meetings, but I’d like to try for 2 weeks and review the results. I’m 100% confident I’ll get twice as much done. Does that seem reasonable? 

“What if you need to share designs” 

“I’ll use GotoMyPC. What do you think? Test it out stating next Monday and see how much more I get done?” (-> once you have addressed an objection, go for the close) 

Offer 2 days. 5 days is too much at first. If they say no, you can propose 1 day. 

Step 5: expand remote time. Set up a meeting, detail increased productivity. Suggest to amp it up to 4 days (3 days if they say no). 

“I’d like to suggest, if you think it makes sense, that I try four days a week for another 2-week trial”. 

Try to spend Friday in the office, people are more relaxed and leave early. 

“I don’t know, it seems you are going to leave us” 

“Good points. First, to be honest, I was close to quitting before with all the interruptions and commute and whatnot, but I’m actually feeling great now with the change in routine (-> indirect threat) 

Second, no one should be allowed to work remotely unless they can show increased productivity, and I’m the perfect experiment. It lowers costs for the office, increases productivity and makes employees happier. Can I test it out for two weeks and come in Fridays to take care of the office stuff? I will still document everything and you, of course, have the right to change your mind at any point” 

Step 6: after one month, request a full-time remote trial of 2 weeks while you are “visiting relatives out of state” 

It is better to ask that when the company is in the middle of a project that requires your expertise and you are prepared to quit if they refuse. Just as you want to negotiate ad prices close to deadlines, getting what you want often depends more on when you ask rather than how you ask it. 

An alternative : the hourglass approach 

  1. Use a preplanned project or family emergency that requires you take 1 or 2 weeks away from the office (family issue, personal issue, relocation, home repairs) - this also prevents the boss from calling you to the office 

  1. Say you would prefer to work instead of taking vacation days 

  1. Propose how you can work remotely and offer, if necessary, to take a py cut for that period if the performance isn’t to par. 

  1. Allow the boss to collaborate on how to do it so that he or she is invested in the process 

  1. Make the 2 weeks off the most productive period you have had at work. 

  1. Show the boss the quantifiable results. Suggest 2 or 3 days at home per week as a trial for 2 weeks. 

  1. Make those days ultra-productive 

  1. Suggest only 1 or 2 days in the office per week 

  1. Make these days the least productive 

  1. Suggest complete mobility. The boss will go for it. 

Learn how to respond to “no” 

What would I need to do? 

Under what circumstances would you accept? 

I’m sure you have made an exception before, haven’t you? 

Remote tools 

EarthClassMail – they receive, scan, mail and shred your documents 

GreenByPhone – to process checks electronically 

Killing your job 

Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer. (Machiavelli, The Prince) 

Being able to quit things that don’t work is integral to being a winner. Going into a project or job without defining when worthwhile becomes wasteful is like going into a casino without a cap on what you will gamble: dangerous and foolish. 

Don’t confuse the complex with the difficult. Most situations are simple. They are just emotionally difficult to act upon. The problem and the solution are usually obvious and simple. It’s not that you don’t know what to do. Of course you do. You are just terrified that you might end up worse off than you are now. 

If you are afraid of not being able to pay bills, then have a new job or source of cash flow before quitting your current job. 

If you are afraid it is going to affect you resume, you can always say “I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do [exotic and envy-producing experience] and couldn’t turn it down. I figured that with 30 years of work to go, what is the rush?” 

If you are afraid of job-hopping, remember that the one determinant of sex appeal to good employers is performance. It doesn’t matter if you jump ship from a bad company after 3 weeks if you are a rock start when it comes to results. But tolerating a punishing work environment for years is a game not worth winning. 

Only those who are asleep do not make mistakes (Ingvar Kamprad) 


Considering options 

I-resign – provides resignation letters, job hunting advice and non-quitting options 

Opening retirement accounts 

Franklin Templeton 

American Funds 

Doing your own investing 

Fidelity Investments 


Health Insurance for Self Employed or Unemployed 



Kaiser Permanente 

American Community Mutual 


Instead of taking your retirement in 30 years, take it now and distribute it throughout your life instead of saving it all for the end. Relocate to a place for 6 months 

Travelling cheap 

Airfare can be free if you use AMEX gold card and Chase Continental Airlines Mastercard 

Your student ID card can give you up to 40% discounts on transportation in Germany 

  1. Use credit cards with reward points for large muse-related advertising and manufacturing expenses. This alone gets me a free round-trip international ticket every 3 months 

Tell the suppliers you will be travelling the world for a year. It will persuade them to accept credit cards rather than chase you around the planet. 

Get bank-issued credit card for all checking accounts. 

Give a trusted member of your family or your personal accountant power of attorney so they can sign documents in your name. 

If the resellers or distributors still send you checks (the fulfillment house should handle customer checks at this point), either give the resellers direct bank deposit information (best), or have the fulfillment house handle these checks (2nd best choice) or have the resellers pay via paypal or mail checks to one of the people are entrust with power of attorney (far 3rd). 

Muses are often expensive in advertising and manufacturing. Say “rather than trying to negotiate you down on pricing, I just ask that you accept payment by credit card. If you can do that, we will choose you over Competitor X” 

  1. Purchase tickets 3 months or more in advance or last minute. Aim for both departure and return between Tuesday and Thursday 


Unclutter your life 

There are tons of things in your home and life that you don’t use, need or even particularly want. Whether you are aware of it or not, this clutter creates indecision and distractions, consuming attention and making unfettered happiness a real chore. 


Brainstorming travel locations 

Virtual Tourist – one-stop shopping for mini-retirements 

Escape Artist – to get a 2nd passport, Swiss banking, etc 

How to be Jason Bourne, fourhourblog.com  

Outside Magazine archives 

GridSkipper – for cities 

Thorn Tree Lonely Planet  

Family Travel Forum – to travel with your family 

US Department of State Country Profiles  

World Travel Watch – a must-see before finalizing plans 

US Department of State Worldwide Travel Warnings 


Planning and Preparation 

Perpetual Travel – lifesaving FAQ 


Traveling cheap 

Orbitz, Kayak, Sidestep 

TravelZeoo top 20 – last-minute deals 

Priceline – bidding on plane tickets 




Housing short term 

Couchsurfing, HospitalityClub, GlobalFreeloaders 


Housing long term 

Otalo – vacation rentals 



Craigslist – if you have a helper, they shouldn’t mention you are a foreigner until pricing is agreed 

Interhome International 




Vonage, Ooma 

VoIP Buster, RebTel – cheaper than skype  


International multiband phones 


World Electronic USA 

SatPhoneStore – for satellite phones 


Frustration and doubts 

People say that what we are seeking is a meaning for life. I do not think this is what we are really seeking.  I think what we are seeking is an experience of being alive (Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth) 

What man needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task (Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning) 


I often transport a skill I practice domestically – martial arts- to other countries where they are also practiced. Instant social life and camaraderie. It need not be a competitive sport – it could be hiking, chess or almost anything that keeps your nose out of a textbook and you out of your apartment. Sports just happen to be excellent for avoiding foreign-language stage fright and developing lasting friendships. 


Service for the right reasons 

Morality is simply the attitude we adopt toward people we personally dislike (Oscar Wilde) 

Do not become a cause snob. How can you help starving children in Africa when there are some in LA? 

The truth is that the downstream effects of your action are unknown. Do your best and hope for the best 



Charity Navigator 

Firstgiving – allows you to create an online fundraising page 




Hands on Disaster Response 

Verge Magazine – lots of volunteering case studies 

Project Hope 

Relief International 

International Relief Teams 

Airline Ambassadors International 

Ambassadors for Children 

Relief Riders International 

Habitat for Humanity Global Village Program 

Planeta Global Listings for Practical Ecotourism 


How to choose one 

Ask yourself:  

  • What makes you angry about the state of the world? 

  • What are you most afraid of for the next generation? 

  • What makes you happiest in life? 


How to revisit your dreamlines 

  • What are you good at? 

  • What could you be the best at? 

  • What excites you? 

  • What makes you feel accomplished and good about yourself? 

  • What are you most proud of having accomplished in your life? 

  • What do you enjoy experiencing with other people? 

  • What did you dream of being when you were a kid? 


Perhaps it is time to sign up for space camp or intern as an assistant to a marine biologist. 


The New Rich mistakes 

  1. Losing sight of their dreams and falling into work for work’s sake 

  1. Micromanaging the emailing to fill time 

  1. Handling problems your outsourcers or co-workers can handle 

  1. Helping outsourcers or co-workers with the same problem more than once, or with non-crisis problems 

  1. Chasing customers when you have sufficient cash flow to finance your nonfinancial pursuits 

  1. Answering email that will not result in a sale 

  1. Working where you sleep and live 

You should designate a single space for work and solely work, or you will never be able to escape it 

  1. Not performing a thorough 80/20 analysis every 2 to 4 weeks for their business and personal life 

  1. Striving for endless perfection 

  1. Checking email “just for one minute” 

Any problem in your inbox will linger for daysm rendering your free time useless. It is the worst of states, where you experience neither relaxation not productivity. Focus on work on fun, never in-between. 

  1. Forget to ask themselves: “what is the one goal that could change everything, if completed?” 


When you feel overwhelmed, ask yourself “am I having a breakdown or a breakthrough?” 

Most of the time, it is better to keep old goals that to set up new ones 


Traveling easily 

ClearMe - a biometric travel card, allows you to cut lines in airports 

Read The Entrepreneurial Imperative 


The choice-minimal lifestyle 

The more options you consider, the more buyer’s regret you will have. 

The more options you consider, the less fulfilling your outcome will be. 


Therefore, do not provoke deliberation before you can take action. Do not read your emails on Friday evening as you will spend the weekend stressing on problems you can’t fix before Monday 


Do not postpone decisions. Instead of “I will tell you next week”, say “I am pretty sure I can’t. Let’s assume I cannot make it, but I will let you know if that changes, ok?” 


Make reversible decisions as quickly as possible 

Do not consider options for more than 20 minutes. Do not consider more than 3 options. Set finance thresholds – if it costs less than 100$, I will let the virtual assistant make the judgement call. 


Try a no-complain experiment: for 21 days, every time you complain, your bracelet changes hands. 


The Not-to do list: habits to stop now 

  1. Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers 

  1. Do not email in the morning or last thing at night 

One of your critical to-do items must be completed before 10. 

  1. Do not agree to meetings with no clear agenda. And they should last no longer than 30 minutes 

  1. Do not let people ramble 

“I am in the middle of getting something out, but what is going on?” 

  1. Do not check email constantly. Batch it at set times only 

  1. Do not overcommunicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers 

The 20% that create 80% of your problems should be put on autopilot with autoresponders 

  1. Prioritize 

Set the most important task for each day- you will see that almost nothing seems urgent. Most of the time, it only costs a small fee to be late. 

  1. Do not carry a phone 24-7. Once a week, completely disconnect. 


Reaching profitability in 3 months 

The goal of a startup should be simple: profit in the least time with the least effort. Not more customers, or more revenue, not more offices or more employees. More profit. 


  1. Niche is the new big 

Also, it is sometimes possible to niche market and mass sell, because non-target customers want to identify with your target customers. iPods were for 20-30 year-olds but everyone until 50 bought them because they wanted to look cool. 

No one aspires to be bland average, so don’t' water down the message to appeal everyone- it will end up appealing to no one. 


  1. What gets measured gets managed 


  • CPO – cost-per-order, including advertising, fulfillment, expected returns, charge-backs, ad allowable (the maximum you can spend on an advertisement and expect to break even),  

  • MER (media efficiency ratio) 

  • LV – projected lifetime value, given return rates and reorder percent 


  1. Plan distribution first 

  1. Less is more – limit distribution to increase profit 

More distribution isn’t always better. Uncontrolled distribution leads to all manner of headache and profit-bleeding, most often related to rogue discounters. 

Remember the goals isn’t more customers but more profit 


  1. Create demand vs offering terms 

Focus on creating user-end demands so you can dictate terms. 

Most rules are just common practice. Don’t offer payment terms just because others do. It is the most consistent ingredient in startup failure. 

Cite startup economics and “company policy” as reasons for prepayment and apologize but do not make exceptions. 

Or else, net-30 becomes net-60 and net-120. 


  1. Repetition is usually redundant 

Good advertising works the first time. 

Use direct response advertising (call to action) that is uniquely trackable. 

Cancel anything that cannot be justified with a trackable ROI 


  1. Sacrifice margin for safety 

Don’t manufacture in large quantities unless your product is tested and ready for rollout without changes 


  1. Make others negotiate against themselves 

Never be the first one to say a number. 

“Is it really the best you can offer?” will result in one more drop in price. 

Go really low and say “I’ll tell you what. Let’s just split the difference. I’ll overnight FedEx you a check and we can call it a day” 


  1. Once per week, look which 20% are bringing 80% of the results or problems 


  1. Fire high-maintenance customers 

What if my largest customer takes all of my time? Recognize that without time you cannot scale your company or your life. And that even good people will sometimes abuse your time to the extent that you allow them. Set good rules for all involved to minimize back-and-forth and meaningless communication. 


  1. Deadlines come before details 

Perfect products delivered late kill companies faster than decent product delivered on time. 


How to never check mail again 

  1. Have multiple email addresses for specific types of email 

  1. 99% of email goes into predetermined categories of enquiries with set responses. My assistants check and clear the inbox at 11 am at 3 pm 

  1. For the 1% of email that require my action, I have a once-daily phone call with my assistant from 4 to 4.10pm 

  1. If I am busy travelling, my assistant read them to me on my voicemail and I answer by mail 


If meetings must be taken, batch them on one day with 15 minutes between meetings. 

If you jump in your assistant’s inbox and answer anything, BCC them so they are aware that you handled it. 


Before hiring a VA, test 3 of them to do something in a deadline of 24 hours. Then use a 2-4 weeks probation period 


Tim Ferris Processing rules for VAs 

  • Deadlines are extremely important. Be aware of them and be punctual 

  • If Tim says “call me back”, call him back! Don’t use email as he might be travelling 

  • Even if it is late, call him 

  • Read The Elements of Style regarding proper grammar and punctuation We are dealing with high-profile clients on Tim’s behalf and the proper writing techniques and message says a lot about his team 

  • Become as familiar as you can with his book and his website as to answer questions accordingly 

  • If someone wants to “jump on the phone with me”, send them something like “To make the best use of everyone’s time, Tim likes to have a well-defined agenda with objectives for a call before jumping on the phone. Can you please send over some bullet points with what you would like to cover and decide on the call?” 

  • When Tim types “dictate” in the email response, this means we can say “As Tim is traveling at the moment and not able to personally respond to your email, I mentioned him your message while on the phone and he asked me to dictate. “ 
    This makes the process easier as we do not have to change the context of the person responding. No need for “Tim says that he ---” 

  • Tim’s address is XXX – this email is not to be distributed or given to anyone. If you want Tim on an email, please Bcc him so that it remains private. 

  • When booking appointments in the calendar, write down which topics they would like to discuss and put them in the description so Tim can prepare 

  • Put your initials in the subject line of calendar events so we know which VA put the item. 

  • Prepare inquiries for Tim before sending to him for his review – their Alexa ranking, possible dates of an event, link to past events they have held, their budget, other confirmed speakers, etc. Then send this info to Tim 

  • Speaking enquiries can be responded this way: “Thanks for your email and invitation to Tim. I see that the event is April 7-8 in Portland. Before I present this to Tim, could you answer the following questions so we can make an informed decision? 

  • Would you like Tim to be at the entire event? 

  • How long would the presentation be? Or would it be a Q&A panel? 

  • Do you cover travel and accommodation along with a speaker’s fee? 

  • What is your budget for keynote presentations? 

  • Have any other speakers confirmed to be present? 

As soon as I hear back, I can speak with Tim about the possibilities of making this happen. Thanks! 


Books to read 

  1. The Magic of Thinking Big (David Schwartz) - super book of many super-performers worldwide 

  1. How to Make Millions with your Ideas (Dan Kennedy) - converting ideas into millions 

  1. The E-Myth Revisited (Michael Gerber) 


Thinking like a monk 

  1. The Monk and the Riddle (Randy Komisar) - a Silicon Valley wizard using razor-sharp philosophies 

  1. The 80/20 Principle (Richard Koch) - historical and mathematical support for the 80-20 principle 


Muse Creation and related skills 

  • Harvard Business School Case Studies (click “school cases”) - 

There is a case study for very problem, every situation and business model 


  • This Business Has Legs (peter Bieler) 

How Bieler went from 0 to 100 million in 2 years 


  • Secrets of Power Negotiating (Roger Dawson) 


  • Response Magazine 

How-to articles to increase salles per call, lower media costs, improve fulfillment, etc 

The best outsourcers in the business also advertise in this magazine. Excellent resource 


  • Jordan Whitnet Greensheet 

Dissects the most successful product campaigns, including offers, pricing, guarantees and ad frequencies. Highly recommended 


  • Small Giants: Companies that Choose to be Great Instead of Big (Bo Burlingham) 


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