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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....

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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,...

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The One-Pager on “Competing for the Future”

Category : book

I’m going to start a new activity for this blog: brief synopses of books I’ve read or reading — some on topics relevant to the 4HWW and some on topics relevant to my MBA program. It will consist simply of the title of the book, a one paragraph summary of the main ideas, and three bullets of the most important take-aways. I figure more can be said and remembered about an important book that way than in any other lengthy discourse.

Book: Competing for the Future

Author: Gary Hamel, C.K. Prahalad

In a nutshell: A strategy for staying successful in highly competitive industries is to periodically reinvent yourself and continuously challenge your own time-proven successes (“you can’t intercept the future by repeating the past”). This books helps readers understand the full scope of evaluating the market and the company and strategies for reinventing while reducing risk.

Top Three Take-aways / Unique Insights:

  • Definition of a “profit engine”:
    • Defining and understanding the served market
    • Defining and understanding the value proposition for that market
    • Determining the margin and value-added structure for services/products to the market
    • Configuration of skills and assets to yield the margins
    • Configuration of administrative and supporting systems to support continued yield
  • Decomposing the Profit Engine into 4 parts, with 4 questions to be answered each
    • The Concept of the Served Market
      • What is the basic value proposition?
      • How is the market segmented?
      • What kind of customers are served?
      • Where are the customers?
      • (What customers and needs aren’t you serving?)
    • Revenue and Margin Structure Definition
      • Where in the business system do you take profit?
      • Where do the margins come from?
      • What determines the size of the margins?
      • What are the major cost and price drivers?
      • (Could profits be extracted at a different point in the supply chain?)
    • Configuration of Skills and Assets
      • What do you believe you know how to do well?
      • What physical infrastructure supports the business?
      • What kind of skills predominate in the company?
      • What is the trajectory of development spending?
      • (Might customer needs be served better by an alternate configuration of skills/assets?)
    • Flexibility and Adaptiveness
      • How alert are you to new value delivery models?
      • How easily can investment programs be reoriented?
      • How easily can infrastructure be reconfigured?
      • Which constituencies would most resist change (inside and outside the company)
      • (What is the vulnerability to market changing factors?)
  • The best way to remain competitive is to be the first (or one of the first) to conceive of alternate value-delivery models, even if that means jeopardizing existing, legacy business models and profit engines. Be your own toughest competitor and challenge all your assumptions, even if in the short-term it adds more risk.

If you only had to read 10 pages: Pages 67-72

Click to Buy the Book

What happened to the 4HWW community?

Category : book, DHFW Site

Update: You’re alive! So, i’ve made this post a touch more positive ;)

When I first started blogging on the 4HWW topic, there were quite a few bloggers… but now it seems they have (mostly) all stopped blogging and their blogs are idle. What has happened? Has the bloom fell off the 4HWW flower? Have folks determined that the 4HWW is mostly hype, or have they had reasonable success and squeezed 50% of out of your schedule, as I have?

I don’t want to be a pessimist, but I want to reach out to the community, and especially to you 4HWW bloggers. What happened? Has anyone else seen any success with the concepts in the book? Do you want me to keep on journaling my experiences?

Comment and let me know if you’re alive!

Selling eBooks as a muse?

Category : book, muse, revenue

Hi all –

Sorry for the pause in content. I’ve been working hard as well as I’ve embarked on my MADFUN exercises. Plus, I haven’t really had much to write about. Maybe I should write anyways?

In any case, thanks for the feedback I’ve gotten from you all on my eLance and Time Management posts. I hope they have helped. On the 4HWW front, I’m looking at writing and publicizing some eBooks as a passive income source. Has anyone else had any experience in successfully doing that? Ironically, if I come across some great techniques, I’ll publish them as an eBook so that you all can learn from me!

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.

Amazon.com reviews… shills?

Category : book

There have been some comments in the Amazon.com forums that seem to imply that many of the reviews of the 4HWW Book (especially the five-star positive ones) are posted by paid shills, fake reviewers, or otherwise are unrepresentative of the actual reader population. Is this true? I have no idea. It’s hard for me to verify. I for one posted a 4-star review, but it never appeared on Amazon.com (grumble).

I feel that the book does its purpose: help change the mindset that 40 hours a week is necessary to run a successful business and maintain high income. However, I can easily see how many of the ideas in the book are shallow and immature, and as well, one can tell that Tim Ferriss does prefer to bend the rules rather than follow them (the win-by-default kickboxing incident, anyone)? However, is this truly bad? While breaking the rules in an unethical or immoral (or illegal) way can never be condoned by anyone, any good entrepreneur knows that the “conventional wisdom” or common knowledge is rarely wisdom and is too common.

Sometimes it pays to break the rules and play outside the lines. However, is this the case with the Amazon.com reviews? Is it fair to use Amazon.com as a marketing tool (rather than a reader-led consumer-oriented site)? Is it ok to pay reviewers in the way that many are paying bloggers? Are we facing an ethics battle for the soul of the Web?

Also, I was pointed to the PodTech interview with Tim and comments that are less than favorable. I posted a comment on the blog, but not sure if it will appear. Here it is:

    “Wow. It sure looks like the tide is turning against Tim Ferriss (or am I just noticing more of the skeptical posts). I for one have found the book interesting enough to try it myself and see if it will have any impact on my life. I am even baring my experiences for the world to see on my blog (at http://www.fourhourworkweekdiary.com). If it is a hoax, if it is a sham, if it is a failure, the world will see, and I will be responsible (and ethical) enough to show it. If it has merit, however, I want to find that and share it too.I believe that the core lesson in the book is one of time management and rethinking the 40-hour workweek. I think there’s merit in that. As for the rest and Tim’s claims about himself, that’s for Tim to defend. Just like you all, I take self-motivated claims with a grain of salt. ”

I don’t want to pass judgment here. If the reviews are all real, then we have to acknowledge the popularity of this book. And if you believe me, I’ve contributed to some of the positive Amazon.com reviews. I am NOT a shill. I haven’t received a penny or any sort of back-scratching from anyone to say diddly poop about this book. And if I get ticked off or bored, I’ll just drop the site altogether.

Just comment on this blog and let me know. Do you think the Amazon.com reviews are real? Do you care? Does it matter? What do you think of folks that game the blogging / web-based economy for their marketing purposes? Is this to be expected? commended? frowned upon? worth penalizing? I’d like to know.