Featured Posts

The Four Hour Body and You Like many of your Tim Ferriss fans out there, I've been very keen to try the Four Hour Body lifestyle change. I'm overweight by quite a few pounds, so I made a New Year's resolution to shed some pounds....

Read more

Improvements and Fixes to WP E-CommerceImprovements and Fixes to WP E-Commerce Like many of you, I am a user of the WP E-Commerce plug-in for Wordpress as well as a Gold Cart upgrade customer. While WP E-Commerce has many excellent features and does wonders for the Wordpress-based...

Read more

Credit cards: a lifeline for cash Hi all. It certainly has been a while since I've last posted. That's because in many ways the 4HWW concept has been shot given the urgency of making ends meet and scrambling to get whatever dollars are...

Read more

Version 0.2 of Show User Level Content Plugin Now Available Making an update to the Show User Level Content Plugin ... finally on version 0.2 This version should allow multiple hide statements in the same post. This is a test of that functionality. The first...

Read more

More on Banking... A while back I posted about business banking accounts, and asked the community what their thoughts were on the best ones for FHWW'ers. I never really did get a good response, but the post is out there,...

Read more

twitter

Follow on Tweets

  •  

My merchandise sucks… do you agree?

Category : Uncategorized

I got some private feedback that came in the form of a comment, but I felt that it was really meant to be a private message to me, so I didn’t post it. The feedback said, basically: “your shirts and merchandise suck. The quality is crap. You’re making money off the back of 4hww. Outsource it, loser.” Or something like that.

I put the merchandise together as a revenue supplement to my muse, but not as a main source of income. And, yes, it is meant to augment the 4HWW book, but certainly, not profit off it directly. If you click on the Amazon.com links and buy the book, OK, then I’m profiting off it directly, but who doesn’t do that?

The shirts and hats are meant to be comical, light hearted self-association with the ideals proposed by 4HWW. But I made careful decisions to avoid any use of intellectual property, trademark, or copyright owned by 4HWW or Tim Ferriss. Yes, I could have them professionally made, but that’s not the point… the point is to show how this is a muse and self-identify.

Well, that’s just my opinion. I want to know yours. Do they really suck? If I made them better, would you buy them anyways? Applying Tim Ferris’ ideals… I won’t ask IF you would buy, I will ask you TO buy. That’s straight from Tim’s words in the Income Autopilot chapter (I can’t find the page right now… if you can, let me know!). If you like something, then buy it… I will take that as a vote in favor. If you don’t offer me $25 and a suggested design. If I like the design, I’ll go forward with it and take your offer. If not, I won’t take your offer. Nothing gained, nothing lost.

Too long, too unfocused!

Category : dreamlining, Getting Started

The move to the 4HWW has been a lot more difficult than I expected. My current business has been ramping up and sucking the four-hour work week out of me. I’ve already gotten comments that my blog has become stale and irrelevant

Ok-enough of that. I’m going to redouble efforts to get back on track.

Next up: I want to redesign the Dreamlining spreadsheet that was published a little while ago because I feel that it doesn’t quite work for me. I’ll offer a new version and see what you all think.

Oh, and someone thought my shirt designs were amateurish. Are they? How would you improve them?

Truth and Truthiness… isn’t Obama ahead?

Category : Uncategorized

I don’t get it. As children and adults we’re told to speak honestly and not be deceitful. In the workplace, dishonesty is not tolerated and can even be grounds for dismissal, lawsuits, and even criminal penalty. And don’t even think about being deceitful when you’re in court.

But when it comes to the people that run our country, or are trying for it, somehow we throw out the need for honesty in favor of “spin”. What’s spin? Spin is the art of taking something that’s unfavorable and making it seem favorable, or something that’s favorable and making it seem unfavorable, or even worse, taking a fact and making it somehow seem untrue, or a deception and making it seem somehow factually accurate. In the art of spin, there’s no real definition of truth. Spin is the art of turning the black and white into shades of gray. This focus on the relativism of truth brought the concept of “truthiness” to the fore.

What bothers me more than politicos treating deception as truth and vice-versa (which is to be expected in politics) is the issue that the mainstream media is either complicit in truthiness or is somehow unaware of the falseness of the information being conveyed.

Case in point, both the Clinton campaign and the media seem to believe that Hillary won Nevada. While this might be correct by a count of popular votes, it’s not correct by the real measure of “winning”: the delegate count. There is an undisputable fact that Obama won 13 delegates in Nevada to Clinton’s 12. This is undisputed. By this measure, Obama won Nevada. Yet, the media and the spinsters position this as a loss. Check out the figure taken from the front page of cnn.com just prior to the South Carolina primary:

CNN Delegate Count… Obama is ahead!

So, Hillary only got a few hundred more votes in a few counties in Nevada, losing the total delegate count, and somehow she won? Wrong. Obama won Nevada by the only count that matters – delegates. Hillary is trying to play it both ways, and in the end, screw over the population. Is this the 2000 election-stealing scenario all over again with the tables reversed? Obama is ahead. Fair and square.

To say Clinton won Nevada would be akin to saying that Gore won the general election in 2000. He didn’t win the election even though he won the popular vote… and by a wider margin than Hillary over Obama in Nevada. Gore didn’t win the general election by the one measure that mattered: electoral college votes. Now, if we want to throw away all these delegate shenanigans and get rid of the electoral college altogether (maybe not such a bad idea), then we can go with straight popular votes. But by the one measure that matters — delegates — Clinton is behind, and has never really been that much ahead of Obama.

I really hope this scourge of truthiness doesn’t infect the world beyond the slimy and inherently disingenuous world of politics. In the world of business, inter-personal relations, and social interaction, we should always strive for truth. Measure things as they are, not as you want them to be, and always be aware of the truth of that measure. In that way, you can never go wrong.

New DHFW Designs and Gifts… get one!

Category : merchandise

I just added a few more designs to the DHFW CafePress Store, including some mugs, infant ware, and great-looking shirts. Check out the new designs below:

I hope you enjoy this blog, which is a muse of mine. Help support my muse and thus keep me encouraged to keep blogging by buying shirts, hats, mugs, aprons, clocks, or whatever suits your fancy! I’ve tried to keep the prices low so that we all get good value. But most importantly, show off your 4HWW prowess by buying some Gear! If you want a design you don’t see here or have suggestions, let me know!

Expanding the Dreamlining Concept

Category : book, dreamlining, Getting Started

One of the first things that’s advised to us in the FHWW book is to Define our Goals, since without Definition, there can be no forward progress. The reason we’re supposed to be trimming down our work weeks to begin with is to make more time for our larger goals. Without those goals in mind, we will simply replace one set of Work-for-Work (W4W) tasks with another set of W4W tasks. This is clearly not what we want, so defining the goals will help to replace the W4W with real life-advancing goals, and thus make our time that much more valuable.

The Dreamlining activity set aside in the book asks readers to identify what they want to BE, DO, and HAVE in the forward-looking six and twelve months. Just like most of you, I had a real challenge with the Dreamlining activity because it was hard to think big! Or at least, the mind wants to weigh-down your big-thinking with real-world concerns. According to Tim, this real-world realism really gets in the way of the optimistic thinking that needs to happen in the Dreamlining activity.

Now, with my mind wrapped around “Think Big, not Realistic” mantra, I realized that I had some goals that I wanted to achieve in the next six and twelve months, but others that I saw as being farther out goals. Simply put, it wasn’t the realism that was causing an issue, but rather focus. If I wanted to have lots of big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAG), then I needed to focus on the ones that I would get immediate benefit from if they were to succeed and push the bigger ones out when I can make the shorter term ones a reality.

This might not be the idea that Tim had in mind. He wants us to focus on achieving goals, not pushing them out. So, with that in mind, I came up with the six and twelve month Dreamlines that included the larger goals I can achieve assuming I get traction on the shorter term ones. This means that there should be a 18 month Dreamline for the VERY Audacious goals. Having the Dreamline in place will motivate forward progress but not put the needlessly over-ambitious goals on the same path of importance as the shorter-term ones.

One of the great tools to assist in Dreamlining is the Excel Spreadsheet version that was developed by the folks at the Technotheory blog. Using that spreadsheet, I developed my Dreamline goals as such:

Six Month Goals:

Having

  • Landscape & Major Home Improvements
  • Sold existing company for > $4M

Being

  • Owner of second business (not to be disclosed)
  • Philanthropist, starting a new organization

Doing

  • Enrolled in Weekend MBA Program
  • Culinary workshops
  • Comedy Improv
  • Jazz Musician (Piano, Violin, and Guitar)

Twelve Month Goals:

Having

  • Owning an office building
  • A Patent

Being

  • Generating most income from second business
  • Raised money for philanthropic organization

Doing

  • Improv Comedy
  • Jazz Piano

Eighteen Month Goals:

Having

  • My book on market, optioned for a screenplay
  • Better estate / tax/ financial planning
  • Sold second company for > $10M
  • Generating positive income from office building

Being

  • Head of philanthropy with large endowment
  • Started third company
  • Owner / buyer of multiple companies

Doing

  • Finished up MBA program
  • working on third book
  • Joined a band
  • Comedy Improv troupe member

When you consider the importance of Single-Tasking, it’s quite possible that accomplishing the above might be impossible given the number of hours in the day. But right now, it’s not clear which item will take top priority, so having them all available and focusing on moving them all forward until it’s clear they are no longer movable seems to be most important.

Bye bye United. How United lost (another!) 1K Member

Category : united

First, I want to say that this is not your traditional FHWW fare. Instead, this is about fares of a different sort – airfare and loyalty programs. I could rant for quite a while on this topic, but instead, I’d like to tell you about my story and the decision I recently made.

A Longtime United Customer… no Longer

I’ve been a long time traveler on United, starting from my days back in Chicago when they were the big game in town to when I moved to the East coast and found United to still be a good way to go. Having been in United’s frequent flier program since 1994, I accumulated a lot of miles and lifetime value. I stuck with their quirky ways and used them most of the time when the competitive fares were about the same. Of course, I would regularly fly Southwest and other airlines when the fares were out of whack.

But this story is not a complaint about airfares. It’s a complaint about the decreasing value of loyalty.

I am a 1K Frequent Flier in the United program. Why they call it 1K is beyond me because it actually is 100K, that is 100,000 miles flown in one year qualifies you for their highest level loyalty rewards program. It’s worth highlighting the word highest because that supposedly means you are the most important set of customers to them, with perhaps the exception being those in the Million Mile club (not to be confused with the Mile High Club), who might also be 1K members.

The problem is that 1K program membership has over time eroded to mean little. I would primarily use the benefits of my 1k membership by getting upgrades as often as possible and additional mileage bonus points.

The key operative word in the above is try. United really does all it can to make it hard to use the rewards that are the benefits of its loyalty program. If you try to upgrade when you check in, forget it. Odds are it will already be fully booked, most likely by upgraders in loyalty program levels lower than your own. Your best shot is to upgrade 24-72 hours in advance.

But then there’s a big catch. Even 1k members can’t upgrade all classes of tickets (Q and S especially), and if your itinerary includes a flight on a code-share with another airline, forget it. You’re back to cattle class. This is not an issue on short-haul domestic flights, but I flew halfway across the world on a Star Alliance member airline and got treated no better than someone who had zero loyalty.

Now, I’m not complaining about economy class. Sure, if that’s what I paid for, maybe that’s what I deserved. But then again, what was the value of having 1K membership? If the only value of loyalty is having to pay for higher-fare “upgradable” economy class tickets (which set you back a few hundred or more dollars in addition to the discounted economy class fare) and then you can’t even use that loyalty on supposed partner airlines, there’s really no value to loyalty.

Airline loyalty is heavily skewed in the favor of the airlines. The airlines benefit by capturing your revenue. The passengers benefit little in the way of upgrades or free tickets.

Now, I can put up with all that if United at least treated its 1k passengers with some respect (after all, we are dedicating our travel budgets to them!). But the straw that broke the camel’s back was my latest overseas trip when they basically told me that they can give a rat’s ass about my 1k Membership.

Now, they didn’t use the “rat’s ass” part, but the rest is absolutely true. I was trying to upgrade on a segment of my airfare that involved a partner airline (yes, I know now that’s impossible, see above). But the problem is that the partner airline was telling me that it was United’s problem to resolve. United was telling me it was the partner’s problem. I bought my ticket from United, so I was inclined to believe the partner.

I’m also United’s loyal customer, so you’d think they’d want to go to bat for me. Nope. Wrong on both counts. They told me “I don’t care what level of partner you are, you’re not going to get anything from United.”

I just stood there dumbfounded. What kind of @!##@$ crack is that? You don’t care about my loyalty? Well then, F– you! You’ve lost it.

The Lesson to be Learned

Loyalty is an aspect of trust. It has to be earned. It can’t be singled-sidedly granted and then revoked. Customers give their loyalty. Companies earn it. But somehow we have it all backwards in the travel industry. Somehow customers have to earn loyalty and companies give benefits as if they were donating turkeys at a Thanksgiving charity dinner. When they run out of turkeys, the benefits are gone.

For me, I’m going to fly on the airline that offers the best deal at that time. If I want to fly business class, I’m better off paying for that and saving the hundreds of dollars in the meantime by avoiding paying the price for loyalty.

And if you are thinking of creating your own loyalty program, don’t do it the way that airlines, hotels, and rental car companies do it — through collecting points and then limiting rewards. Do it by giving your customers the incentive to keep coming back and refering their friends and neighbors. Reward people by giving them flat discounts off airfares and upgrades.The more you fly, the more discounts you get. Think of it as coupon-based loyalty.

What are your thoughts / frustrations with the airline industry and United’s program in particular? Have you also made a 2008 New Year’s resolution to avoid companies that treat you as if they would rather you not be their customer?

Traveling this week!

Category : outsourcing

As a quick update, I’m traveling out of the country this week. Let me say that I’m still working longer than I would like, but getting a bit more used to outsourcing and stripping out the parts that don’t add value to my time.

I have a few things to update on as well as help people make some more starts towards the ideas in the FHWW book. Also, I have a few site upgrades to get through, so you might see a flurry of activity from me soon!

Success… and failure

Category : outsourcing

Well, I have great news on the outsourcing front. My two outsourcing activities were both a success. I wrapped up one project with one outsourcer and hired them to do another. My second outsourcer is in the middle of wrapping up the somewhat large task I gave her and hopefully we’ll see the outcome shortly! All in all, great results, and I’m happy with my experience on GetaFreelancer.com. So, that part was a success.

The problem? I’m still working 60 hour workweeks. Something is not right. I’ve not reduced my workload, but rather replaced it. It’s going to take some real soul-searching and time analysis to figure out where the real time suck is. I’ll do the analysis and come back with my results soon. Stay tuned!

Sorry about the lack of posts!

Category : Uncategorized

My last post was 4 days ago – sorry about that! I came down with something really bad and I just couldn’t get out of bed. I’m back and rarin’ to go. I’ll share my recent successes in Outsourcing and work to move forward on the rest of the FHWW ideals.

Stay tuned!

My latest productivity tool… a shredder!

Category : outsourcing, productivity

So, in the quest for the 4 hour work week, every minute counts. Don’t you hate it when you get unsolicited credit card applications in the mail? If you’re self-conscious about identity theft, as I am, you know that you aren’t supposed to just throw that in the trash (or worse, recycling, which leaves your information even more in the open). The right action is to shred the applications, since a dumpster-diver can easily recover the application and with a few other bits of knowledge, make an application on your behalf.

The problem is that my previous shredder wouldn’t just eat the whole envelope. Like most consumer shredders, it barely could eat five pages at a time. Those credit card applications with the “fake” credit cards would easily jam the shredder if I just tossed it in. So, I would have to open up the envelopes and feed in the application a few sheets at a time, tossing the fake card in the process.

While this might not seem like a lot of time, it piles up. I would have a stack of things to shred, and easily spend an hour or two going through that pile (yes, I do get that much junk mail). I wanted to cut that time down to zero. So I needed a shredder that can eat through any junk mail I tossed at it, the whole envelope and all. Right from mailbox to shredder, basically.

So, after a few minutes of searching on Amazon.com, I found the Fellowes Powershredder PS-77Cs, and I have to say it’s been working like a charm for a month! And it cost less than $120. A good outsourcing decision, if I say so.

Here’s some more specs on this paper-eating monster:

Fellowes 32177 Powershred PS-77Cs Shredder

  • SafeSense sensor stops shredding the instant paper is touched
  • Can process CDs, small paperclips, credit cards and staples
  • Shreds up to 12 sheets per pass, at a rate of 11 feet per minute
  • 9″ paper entry width; 7-gallon basket
  • Creates confetti shreds; includes five-year warranty on cutter
  • Amazon.com Sales Rank:

    Popular in this category: (What’s this?)

    #2 in Electronics > Office Electronics > Other Office Equipment > Shredders

Equipped with a 9″ wide front feed paper entry, the PS-77Cs easily accepts standard letter or legal size documents. The durable steel cutters accept credit cards, staples and small paper clips, also shreds CDS in a designated slot safely. Quiet operation is perfect for use in office cubicles. Electronic auto start/stop feature ensures quick & easy automatic shredder operation. Shredder automatically shuts off and alerts the operator when a jam occurs, 7-gallon pull-out wastebasket is ajar or shredder is overheated. A clear window allows user to see if the 7-gallon wastebasket is full, while the convenient sheet capacity gauge helps prevent paper jams. Fellowes includes a five-year warranty on the cutter.

I’m not being paid to post this. I really am serious. One less thing to worry about, a few minutes shaved off each day, a few hours each month. If you are a productivity zealot, search for all your time wasters and conquer them when you can.

For those of you saying that I should just call the credit companies to get me off the list of people who accept credit card solicitations, let me tell you that it really doesn’t work. The moment you move or something changes in your information, you’ll get them. It takes less time for me to chuck it in the shredder than it does to deal with Trans Union, Experian, or Equifax.

Shred through your time wasters. Get a more productive shredder!