Like all the other suckers looking for shortcuts, I enthusiastically read Tim Ferriss’s The Four Hour Workweek a few years ago. I was really into it at the time because I was stuck in a shitty corporate job back then, and the book’s whole selling point is the idea that it’s possible to get out of that situation permanently by implementing “lifestyle design” concepts that create income streams that you don’t have to put continuous work into—i.e., you don’t fuck with them, and they don’t fuck with you.
I’m not here to critique this book. I have no problem with it. What Ferriss claims is possible absolutely is possible—even though his book isn’t exactly the blueprint I’ve used for my career, which has taken some interesting turns over the past year or so. Much of what he advocates isn’t really my scene, but it was a fun read—and at the time, it was interesting to see someone game the system (read: the publishing industry) the way he did.
My problem now is with people who use Ferriss’s book as the absolute bible for everything they do. Chief amongst these offenses, at least when I’m dealing with people in business, is the idea of being completely out of touch with everyone in the world until you’re damned good and ready to answer your email or return phone calls.
Because The Four Hour Workweek was so popular, we’re now confronted with thousands upon thousands of thirty-something self-styled “entrepreneurs” who intentionally delay responding to communications for weeks on end—and who tell you they need to schedule fifteen minute phone conversations two weeks in advance.
My advice, for what it’s worth?
If you’re a guy who’s doing this shit, you have to stop. I’m very busy, too. I’ve got a shit-ton going on professionally, I have a shit-ton happening personally, and I’m also trying to get back into writing for something other than work. Although I’ve been addressing cutting all the fat out of my life for productivity purposes lately, my days are still extremely full.
That’s why it’s fucking infuriating when people—I’m talking about guys who want and need to do business shit with me, not people I’m soliciting for stuff—take several days to respond to communications. I especially despise it when they say shit like, “Yeah, I can do a phone meeting. How about a week from Thursday at 8:30 AM?”
Horseshit. You’re not that fucking busy. The President isn’t that fucking busy.
I’m writing about this because I deal with these types every single day, and I’ve actually stopped working with several of them because they’ve pulled this shit. It’s great to be in total control of your own time—and to be able to prevent people from disrupting you when you need to focus—but the flipside of this is that taking excessively long to respond to people is disrespectful, and it’ll piss them off. When you’re dealing with responsible adults who keep regimented schedules and appreciate considerate behavior from their colleagues and business associates, this isn’t the approach you should be taking.
In fact, I just “fired” someone who was running this little game with me. Before I broke it off, I asked him if he’d read The Four Hour Workweek, and he said it was his favorite book. I told him I couldn’t work with someone who took a week to get back to me every time I asked him a question, and I severed the relationship. Now he’s frantic to get my business back.
Tough shit, dick. Show some respect, and we’ll talk.
I’ve often said that I miss the rotary phone era—and the idea that you didn’t know who’d called you during the day until you got home at night and saw a note on the kitchen table or a blinking answering machine. Tablets and smartphones can certainly be invasive if we let them abuse us, and it sucks to be constantly reachable by everyone on the fucking planet. This level of accessibility is wonderful for professional reasons, but personally, I prefer to stay far off the grid until I want to be in touch.
Our reality, however, is that we are reachable. The technology we all own means we’re only a text or email away from whoever needs to communicate with us. Putting yourself as out of touch as some of these guys do is both absurd and offensive, and it makes people not want to work or do business with you.
Do this selectively, or don’t do it at all.